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Greek Society is crumbling

This article from the Big Story is painful to read. But we must.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A sign taped to a wall in an Athens hospital appealed for civility from patients. “The doctors on duty have been unpaid since May,” it read, “Please respect their work.”

Patients and their relatives glanced up briefly and moved on, hardened to such messages of gloom. In a country where about 1,000 people lose their jobs each day, legions more are still employed but haven’t seen a paycheck in months. What used to be an anomaly has become commonplace, and those who have jobs that pay on time consider themselves the exception to the rule.

To the casual observer, all might appear well in Athens. Traffic still hums by, restaurants and bars are open, people sip iced coffees at sunny sidewalk cafes. But scratch the surface and you find a society in free-fall, ripped apart by the most vicious financial crisis the country has seen in half a century.

It has been three years since Greece’s government informed its fellow members in the 17-country group that uses the euro that its deficit was far higher than originally reported. It was the fuse that sparked financial turmoil still weighing heavily on eurozone countries. Countless rounds of negotiations ensued as European countries and the International Monetary Fund struggled to determine how best to put a lid on the crisis and stop it spreading.

The result: Greece had to introduce stringent austerity measures in return for two international rescue loan packages worth a total of €240 billion ($313 billion), slashing salaries and pensions and hiking taxes.

The reforms have been painful, and the country faces a sixth year of recession.

Life in Athens is often punctuated by demonstrations big and small, sometimes on a daily basis. Rows of shuttered shops stand between the restaurants that have managed to stay open. Vigilantes roam inner city neighborhoods, vowing to “clean up” what they claim the demoralized police have failed to do. Right-wing extremists beat migrants, anarchists beat the right-wing thugs and desperate local residents quietly cheer one side or the other as society grows increasingly polarized.

Our society is on a razor’s edge,” Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said recently, after striking shipyard workers broke into the grounds of the Defense Ministry. “If we can’t contain ourselves, if we can’t maintain our social cohesion, if we can’t continue to act within the rules … I fear we will end up being a jungle.”


Vassilis Tsiknopoulos, runs a stall at Athens’ central fish market and has been working since age 15. He used to make a tidy profit, he says, pausing to wrap red mullet in a paper cone for a customer. But families can’t afford to spend much anymore, and many restaurants have shut down.

The 38-year-old fishmonger now barely breaks even.

“I start work at 2:30 a.m. and work ’till the afternoon, until about 4 p.m. Shouldn’t I have something to show for that? There’s no point in working just to cover my costs. … Tell me, is this a life?”

The fish market’s president, Spyros Korakis, says there has been a 70 percent drop in business over the past three years. Above the din of fish sellers shouting out prices and customers jostling for a better deal, Korakis explained how the days of big spenders were gone, with people buying ever smaller quantities and choosing cheaper fish.

Private businesses have closed down in the thousands. Unemployment stands at a record 25 percent, with more than half of Greece’s young people out of work. Caught between plunging incomes and ever increasing taxes, families are finding it hard to make ends meet. Higher heating fuel prices have meant many apartment tenants have opted not to buy heating fuel this year. Instead, they’ll make do with blankets, gas heaters and firewood to get through the winter. Lines at soup kitchens have grown longer.

At the end of the day, as the fish market gradually packed up, a beggar crawled around the stalls, picking up the fish discarded onto the floor and into the gutters.

“I’ve been here since 1968. My father, my grandfather ran this business,” Korakis said. “We’ve never seen things so bad.”

Tsiknopoulos’ patience is running out.

“I’m thinking of shutting down,” he said, “I think about it every day. That, and leaving Greece.”


On a recent morning in a crowded civil cases court in the northern city of Thessaloniki, frustration simmered. Plaintiffs, defendants and lawyers all waited for the inevitable — yet another postponement, yet another court date.

Greece’s sclerotic justice system has been hit by a protracted strike that has left courts only functioning for an hour a day as judges and prosecutors protest salary cuts.

For Giorgos Vacharelis, it means his long quest for justice has grown longer. Vacharelis’ younger brother was beaten to death in a fairground in 2003. The attacker was convicted of causing a fatal injury and jailed. The family felt the reasons behind the 24-year-old’s death had never been fully explained, and filed a civil suit for damages. Nearly 10 years later, Vacharelis and his parents had hoped the case would finally be over.

But the court date they were given in late September got caught up the strike. Now they have a new date: Feb. 28, 2014.

“This means more costs for them, but above all more psychological damage because each time they go through the murder of their relative again,” said Nikos Dialynas, the family’s lawyer.

Vacharelis and his family are in despair.

“If a foreigner saw how the justice system works in Greece, he would say we’re crazy,” said the 35-year-old.

“Each time we come to court we get even more outraged,” he said. “We see a theater of the absurd.”


In September, gangs of men smashed immigrant street vendors’ stalls at fairs and farmers’ markets. Videos posted on the Internet showed the incident being carried out in the presence of lawmakers from the extreme right Golden Dawn party. Formerly a fringe group, Golden Dawn — which denies accusations it has carried out violent attacks against immigrants — made major inroads into mainstream politics. It won nearly 7 percent of the vote in June’s election and 18 seats in the 300-member parliament. A recent opinion poll showed its support climbing to 12 percent.

Immigrant and human rights groups say there has been an alarming increase in violent attacks on migrants. Greece has been the EU’s main gateway for hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants — and foreigners have fast become scapegoats for rising unemployment and crime.

While there are no official statistics, migrants tell of random beatings at the hands of thugs who stop to ask them where they are from, then attack them with wooden bats.

Assaults have been increasing since autumn 2010, said Spyros Rizakos, who heads Aitima, a human rights group focusing on refugees. Victims often avoid reporting beatings for fear of running afoul of the authorities if they are in the country illegally, while perpetrators are rarely caught or punished even if the attacks are reported.

“Haven’t we learned anything from history? What we are seeing is a situation that is falling apart, the social fabric is falling apart,” Rizakos said. “I’m very concerned about the situation in Greece. There are many desperate people … All this creates an explosive cocktail.”

In response to pressure for more security and a crackdown on illegal migration, the government launched a police sweep in Athens in early August. By late October, police had rounded up nearly 46,000 foreigners, of whom more than 3,600 were arrested for being in the country illegally.

Police say that in the first two months of the operation, there was also a 91 percent drop in the numbers of migrants entering the country illegally along the northeastern border with Turkey, with 1,338 migrants arrested in the border area compared to 14,724 arrested during the same two months in 2011.


At a demonstration by the disabled in central Athens, tempers were rising.

Healthcare spending has been slashed as the country struggles to reduce its debt. Public hospitals complain of shortages of everything from gauzes to surgical equipment. Pharmacies regularly go on strike or refuse to fill subsidized social security prescriptions because government funds haven’t paid them for the drugs already bought. Benefits have been slashed and hospital workers often go unpaid for months.

And it is the country’s most vulnerable who suffer.

“When the pharmacies are closed and I can’t get my insulin, which is my life for me, what do I do? … How can we survive?” asked Voula Hasiotou, a member of an association of diabetics who turned out for the rally.

The disabled still receive benefits on a sliding scale according to the severity of their condition. But they are terrified they could face cuts, and are affected anyway by general spending cuts and the pharmacy problems.

“We are fighting hard to manage something, a dignified life,” said Anastasia Mouzakiti, a paraplegic who came to the demonstration from the northern city of Thessaloniki with her husband, who is also handicapped.

With extra needs such as wheelchairs and home help for everyday tasks such as washing and dressing, many of Greece’s disabled are struggling to make ends meet, Mouzakiti said.

“We need a wheelchair until we die. This wheelchair, if it breaks down, how do we pay for it? With what money?”


Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki, Greece contributed to this story.


The end of Spain?

No, this is not about Euro2012. It is, however, about the Euro.

The Austrian Finance Minister shifted ground yesterday suggesting that the austerity policies would be disastrous and that ‘we need to learn the lessons of the 1930s’, referring to the rise of the Far Right and war.

No one seems to be looking at another option: fragmentation.

While European countries are happy to join with the US in splitting up countries in the Middle East and Africa: Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Somalia, they are more coy when it comes to the ‘Old Continent’.

The austerity madness will cause lasting impacts and it is perhaps too late to change course and expect things to get back to the ‘happy days’ of 2005.

The short run should see an enormous use of monetary firepower by Germany, Northern Europe and France to ‘save Spain’. This will perhaps calm market jitters (actually, they are not scared at all but profiting from speculation, but that’s another story). Saving Spain (i.e. the banks) would still mean rising unemployment for the rest of 2012.

But by November, Syriza should be able to remove the discredited austerity/bailout parties and pull out of the Euro.

That would mean Spain and others such as Portugal leaving the Euro in 2013.

The entire Madrid project post Franco has been about joining the big boys at the high table. Democracy for dollars, as in highways, loans and investment.

The fall of the Berlin Wall took the Germans out of the equation as they looked east.

Madrid carelessly decided to do what all Iberian elites have done since Columbus started the rape and pillage of ‘America’: spend not invest, start a property boom rather than construct decent housing for the majority and completely ignore the need to industrialise with clean technology. The latter was done through subsidies and there are good companies such as the Basque Gamesa but no foundations were laid for a Northern European style economy.

Nationalists were kept at bay by the facade of ‘prosperity’ and the presence of ETA – a godsend to rightwing nationalists in Madrid who could present themselves as defenders of the Realm.

Now that war is over. The economy is in tatters. The concept of Spain is being challenged.

Suddenly, nationalists (especially to the Left) in the Basque country and Catalonia are demanding separation on ‘economic grounds’, not just for historical or linguistic reasons.

If Spain is ejected form the Euro in 2013, then Madrid will find that the centrifugal forces, so long kept bottled up by dictatorship or by the bribery of democracy & dinero, will split apart the state.

There may well be far-right nationalism but that is likely to come from PP, no the independence movement in Euskal Herria and Catalunya.

Instead, expect to see the rise of Left-wing nationalism that attacks the core idea of the Banker’s charter (Americanisation/globalisation) yet wants to join Europe (as Syriza does).

Later on this decade, there will still be something called ‘Spain but it will be without its two industrialised regions which will leave and look North to Berlin and outwards to Latin America and Asia.

Spain without the Basques and the Catalans would be even poorer than today unless,  and this is difficult to see how, there is a seachange in outlook towards the Indignados rather than PP/PSOE.

Already, the Latin Americans are factoring in a downgrade in Spanish power by challenging Madrid over Repsol and other ‘untouchable’ Blue-Chip companies.

Madrid is on the edge of an abyss. The right-wing can forget about the 1930s. In that sense, Iberia is different. There will no longer be any armed conflict. The house of cards is set to collapse.

Bread, not guns, is deciding the future.

Saving the banks is destroying the viability of European states.


Green, Equal and Nationalist?

Gold reaches a ‘nominal’ record price just shy of $1600 an ounce. Some predict it reaIching $2000 by Xmas, and anything up towards $5,000 in the next few years as Western governments print oceans of new ‘money’… launching QE3, QE4 and more.

Utah accepts Gold as legal tender. This week, there was talk of the Swiss planning a gold-backed Swiss Franc.

Linked to all this is the continuing debt crises on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Europeans have performed yet another joke ‘stress-testing’ examination of the banks. 9 failed, 16 nearly.

Let us not forget the Irish banks passed with flying colours last year and then promptly went under, and had to be bailed out.

It looks like a choice between the European Central Bank printing €3 trillion to buy the bonds of the PIIGS or accept that Greece, Portugal and Ireland will default.. and then Spain and Italy will revert back to the Peseta and Lira.

Despite all the political capital invested in the Euro project by the Spanish elite, they will have no choice but to leave the Euro.

It is likely that the ultra right of the Partido Popular will win handsomely in the next general elections (latest by March 2012 but could be earlier) while the nationalists (an

d increasingly to the left of the spectrum in the Basque country) will win in the Iberian periphery.

You can see where this leads. A sullen, right wing elite in Madrid unwilling or unable to accept that the post-1975 road to European milk and honey is at an end and then facing disintegration of the Spanish state by the middle of the decade.

When the Euro collapses, it will inevitably lead to the rolling back of the European project. Forget Lisbon. It will be over.

Remember the Hanseatic League? Vaguely.

Picture a new 21st century variant something like this:

Germany, Walloonia, Holland, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Norway will become a new Deutch Mark dominated economic zone. The richest region on the planet.

Everyone will want to trade and ally with them.. Russia, the Swiss, the new rich ‘states’ of Northern Italy, Catalonia, Euskalherria, Scotland, Eastern Europe and of course the Chinese and Japanese.

The centre of gravity is set to shift from Western Europe into Central/Northern Europe. Economically, it has already happened.

What is left is monetarily, politically and culturally.

Paris and London: eat your heart out. Enjoy your colonial wars in places like Libya…. while you still can.

The Brazilians will buy up Portugal in a reverse of five centuries of colonialism and turn Lisbon into southern Europe’s Sao Paolo as industrialisation arrives in a big way.

Europe’s Politics stand on a knife-edge.

The old institutions look ripe for dissolution.

To divert people from daylight robbery (i.e. austerity for the majority, honey for the rich minority) and flirting with radical ideas of the Greens and the Indignados, there will be shift to semi-fascist ideologies… watch Le Pen in France, the continuing rise of the Freedom Party in Austria, its equivalent in Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Hungary.

Is any of this possible?

If we look back at European history upto the 30 years war and the Treaty of Westphalia, then why not?

Twenty years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a new generation is seeing politics in a new light. The worldview of Central/Northen Europe is no longer bound by the necessary ‘payment’ by Germany for its ghastly crimes of WW2. It no longer has to seek US support against the Russian collosus.

The US and English may still have tanks and missiles in Germany, but they are just relics from the Cold War. Elites find it impossible to move on and accept the world has changed.

London, as a Trojan horse for Washington, can no longer pursue the centuries old scheme of preventing the rise of a dominant ‘continental power’. It has happened.

There are no ideological, political or economic barriers for Central/Northern Europe to forge strong relations with a reviving Russia, even in its present callous form.

If the Chinese cannot save the Euro, then they will accept a new Deutsch Mark 2 (or whatever it is called.. EuroCor or Euro-Mark?).

Follow the Money, as they say.

In this background, the Green and Indignado movements have their work cut out. How to convince the peoples of these new states and region that ecology and equality have a central role in this new World?

Greens have won a notable victory over Big Nuclear in this new heartland: Germany. This paves the way to a ramp up in use of Russian natural gas while a vast new infrastructure for renewable energy is laid out, a more energy & waste-efficient industrial system is put in place.

But the war for equality is the key.

The intellectual and political challenge is how to construct and continental (and ultimately global) movement on the following premise:

Eco-Socialism through National Liberation.

A marriage of Green & Left with the desire for national freedom, with nationalism.

If Greens and the Left remain wedded to a universalist framework, they will be outfought by the Right, riding on sentiment about nations and race.

One can be Nationalist as well as Left (the Basques prove this).

And one can be Green as well as Nationalist. That is a right-wing Green nationalist as well as a Left Wing Green Nationalist.

The monumental challenge is to ensure we get the latter not the former.

The Green movement has to grow up.  It has to get its hands dirty. It has to choose sides. It has to recognise that it is a minority or even non-existent in most of Asia, Russia, Eastern Europe, Iberia, Africa and the Americas. Forget conferences. Forget the Big NGOs. Forget ‘winning’ arguments on barely read journals (such as the Guardian in the UK).

It has to link up with wider forces from below as well as the Left. Most of all, it must seek to influence the nationalist dialogue. To help define ‘national liberation’. To wrest the argument away from Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Le Pen and the ultra-rightists.

That political war will be fought in the Iberian peripheries, parts of France and Italy and most of  all in Germany. I would like to say Scotland  but there are no signs of it. Yes, Scotland is going solo this decade but it’s not too different from CIU of Catalonia or PNV of the Basques. It has to shift much more towards the ideology of equality and ecology within its present nationalist framework.

If the Chinese cannot save the Euro, then they will accept a new Deutsch Mark 2 (or whatever it is called.. EuroCor or Euro-Mark?).

Follow the Money, as they say.

In this background, the Green and Indignado movements have their work cut out.

Whichever side prevails in Europe, the end of this decade will be unimaginable to its start.

Aftter decades of disappointment and anguish, that’s a start.

Sepp Blatter cancels 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Sepp Blatter explained his decision to cancel 2022 World Cup in Qatar ” there will soon be no Qatar”. He added that there would be no refund. Opening a new bidding round, he suggested the main criteria would be:

a) willingness to waste billions of citizens’ money on white elephant buildings

b) ability to be discreet in greasing palms of FIFA officials

c) tendency to allow Multinationals to fleece your treasury in hugely inflated contracts.

As an example, he pointed to the London 2012 Olympics to show it as a prime example of how to waste money: How marvellous that they have taken a £3bn bid and stretched that to £12bn in contracts & spend.”

Blatter thought it ingenious that a publicly owned Olympic stadium costing £500M of our money was now handed over to a Football club owned by two multimillionaires for free.

The icing on the Olympic cake was Newham Countil (one of the poorest in the country) underwriting a loan of £40M too, just as it announced £50M worth of cuts to council services.

Alice would have felt at home in this Wonderland called free-market economics.

We need a new direction

We have 2,500 members in the London Green Party. On paper. Let’s be honest, we barely have one in ten out there knocking on doors, manning stalls, talking to people.  That’s one activist per 30,000 Londoner.

These are impossible odds.  With a couple of councillors, having lost most last year, most of London is barren Green territory. On current trends and Local Party planning, most of London 32 boroughs will not have a Green councillor for the rest of this decade.

We cannot say the ‘plan’ is working.

What’s the strategy? Where’s the ambition? What’s the purpose? Some might ask: what’s the point?

Like all eruptions & earthquakes, it’s difficult to know what’s happening until it hits you. The good news is that many members are passionate and don’t like what they are seeing.

A two-speed Party: Brighton far ahead, London trailing well behind.

We need to mobilise the existing membership. Not with another email but with a strategy that’s inspiring.  Something which says we are venturing out of our comfort zone. That we want to reach out to new constituencies. That we have taken a look around the capital, and it’s different to what we thought.

London is the fourth largest French City….. There are 400,000 people making this the Paris of the Thames.

An equivalent number of Arabs – Edgware Road & beyond – so much the focus of our minds with the bravery of their compatriots in North Africa and the Middle East.

Ditto: Latin Americans…. & Africans, Afro-Carribeans, Greeks, Turks and South Asia.

Do we think a letter in the local paper is the only way to reach them?

There is a wealth of ethnic media (European and beyond). The French in London aren’t losing their culture or language skills.  For Bengalis alone, there are four TV stations, two radio stations and over a dozen weekly papers.

Greeks: London Greek Radio. Indians: Sunrise TV & Radio. And much much more.

We complain that the mainstream media ignore us. True. But do we have a media strategy for the capital that explores these other channels?

Before someone says we don’t have a strong media team, I say we should contact our members from these minorities (or majority-minorities in some boroughs as some say) and ask them how their media works, and how to get into them.

The Students & the Young are our natural base. Or should be.  Some of us cannot see the potential. That’s the brigade which says: carry on like before, let’s stick with the same message as the last twenty years, who cares if we are tagged as a one-issue party…..

The Young Greens have an opportunity to mobilise over the next two years. Long ignored, they have participated and themselves been inspired by the student movement, still going strong with the occupations and involvement in the anti-cuts protests.

They wrote a pledge and asked for support. Is it a perfect document? No, no document is. Is it meant to replace the entire Party manifesto? No.

It is an expression of the Next Generation of members looking at the world from their point of view and like all lobbies and groups focusing on the day-to-day issues that confront hundreds of thousands of students & youth in the capital. Housing, education, transport & more.

I signed it because it was aspirational. It understood that the Greens stand for environmental justice but that we need to give weight to social justice too, in the language of the constituents we claim to want support from.

I don’t mind being in a minority in political terms. Some things have to be said.

The document has been hit with criticism. The glass half full mentality. Finding what’s wrong with a sentence, crossing the tees here, dotting the i’s there. Where’s the generosity?

The Young Greens didn’t have to do a hustings. They did.

They didn’t have to spend weeks preparing a document, a platform for Young Green politics in the Capital. They did.

They didn’t have to try and engage with other Green activists at conference, online or in meetings. They did.

At the least, we should welcome the contribution, agree with 95%  of it, and encourage them to boost the Party.

The only way I see the immediate 15 months is to open the door and get in new members. That means bringing in free membership back for under 30s. Keep that door open till Xmas. Get roadshows into campuses, get Caroline Lucas speaking, get the membership forms filled.

The Lib-Dems are on the brink of collapse in London, especially with the young.  We should be aiming at powering ahead of the Lib-Dems.

The Tories are in fear and bunkering down.

New Ed’s Labour is picking up the flow by doing nothing, by pretending they didn’t rule over 13 years of neo-liberal surrender to the banks, nor break their own pledges over tuition fees. That Ed Mili & Aaron Porter say they want a graduate tax.

Everytime a graduate gets a job, earns money & pays income tax, that’s what a graduate tax should be. We already have it.  Nothing more on top, thanks. Get rid of the fees. Invest in a new generation.

The Next Generation get it when it comes to climate change, anti-war, anti-cuts, Green New Deal, wealth re-distribution and the need for a new direction.  They are receptive to the Green message. They are waiting for us to prove we want their support.  They won’t come to us until we take the first step towards them.

We have to seize this opportunity.

It’s there in front of us, if only we can see it.

We will only see it if we change direction.

Farid Bakht

Free membership for Young Greens till Xmas 2011?

New Ed’s unreconstructed Labour Party don’t get everything wrong. They are charging students & young people just one pence to join (for most of 2011). They figured out this is the best way to say that their doors are open.
In that sense, we closed our doors on Jan 31st. I am calling for the doors to be fliung wide open again and to keep them there till Xmas. Our free offer brought in numbers not far short of a thousand.
The Lib Dems are in utter disarray, shamefaced at their betrayal.
Labour is vilified for its original betrayal over tuition fees; bringing in BP’s chief to decide the future of education (the Browne Review) and the rise and fall of Aaron Porter.
We have consistently stood by students, calling for scrapping tuition fees.
I hope Caroline Lucas is able to find time in her overloaded schedule to do a road-show through universities this year with support from Young Greens and the rest of the Party including future candidates.
Can you imagine the response if she were able to say that students and under 30s could join for free?
That we want thousands upon thousand in the campuses up and down the country to join so that we can back up her honest claim that only the Green Party is the true opposition to the cuts and has a vision for the young for environmental & social justice.
Some people have suggested we cannot afford such a gesture, that since every member receives paper magazines (Green World), it would raise costs.
My response is that firstly these students aren’t going to join in big numbers without the FREE offer.
Secondly, if they do join with the offer, most if not all are comfortable with social networks. You are reading this online too. That if we said we could offer our magazine online, rather than in print and beef up our online experience on Facebook for example, that new young members would be happy.
Thirdly, that these new young people would encourage other members (paying ones) simply be their energy, enthusiasm and activity. Money would roll in eventually.

Are we really going to say that we don’t want thousands of new members because we cannot afford the postage & printing of an internal magazines?
Let’s be more imaginative and think outside the box.

If we could raise our numbers to 20,000 we would send shivers down the spine of Nick Clegg. Our next Party conference is going to take place this Spetember in Sheffield right on the doorstep of Mr. Clegg. It’s deliberate. Let’s show him something to be afraid of.
I ask that the Green Party be bold and brave. The young get it about climate change, social justice, green jobs, anti-nuclear, anti-war, equality and diversity. Let’s welcome them to join the Party. Let’s get them turning campuses Green.  Let’s really become the real opposition that we want to be.

Bankers in Davos: unrepentant, unworried, ungrateful

Bloomberg writes that Bankers in Davos are partying as ‘they’ overcome the crisis.

There are no panel discussions on banking regulation nor on reform .

They think they have it in the bag. Central Banks print money, they lap it up and the price that bond-traders insist on is deficit reduction …… in the public sector with job cuts ….. which deflate the economy…… but not for the top echelons of society.

Bankers aren’t stupid. They are sure they face no opposition from the main political parties who have bought into the globalisation story.

The best we have is to eulogise Gordon Brown’s sidekick – Ed Balls – and paint him as some left wing firebrand who will stand up to the banks.  Exit Guardian and Independent from the land of the living.

Ditto Spain and Greece…. where left-wing governments are cutting the deepest.

Tunisia, Cairo, Athens and London have shown that the new politics isn’t the Nick-Clegg-Lib-Dem kind but that of the street bypassing Parliaments and Senates and social networks bypassing mainstream media.

This is a decade long story….. the bankers in Davos have uncorked the champagne bottles much too early.

The silver lining is that their crass behaviour helps cement public unity among the classes. Much of the middle class is ‘hurting’ too, not just below,  but the point Ed is that they need something different, not more of the same that you offer at a slightly reduced pace.