The pope’s speech to the European parliament: rediscover your core values

Pope Francis leaves the European parliament in Strasbourg

Pope Francis leaves the European parliament in Strasbourg

 

Few speeches about Europe these days arouse much enthusiasm. The subject is more likely to be greeted with boredom or acrimony, the debate conducted in instant and shallow slogans. So the pope’s message to the European parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, calling for a break from the current angst and “a return to the conviction of the founders of the European Union” came as something of a shock.

It did not play down the woes and inadequacies of the current state of European affairs. On the contrary, the speech included descriptions of the “distrust of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaging in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual people”. But those – step forward, Nigel Farage – who thrive on channelling populist sentiment against the very essence of the European project would be fools or, more likely, cynics to claim that Pope Francis has vindicated them in any way.

Indeed, far from seeking to fuel further disenchantment with the EU, this was a strong-minded plea for a better Europe, one in tune with its founding values of “human dignity” and fundamental rights. It was no Faragiste demand to dismantle or diminish the enterprise. It was instead a call for the “confidence needed to pursue the great ideal of a united and peaceful Europe”.

No less important, it was a speech urging all Europeans to look at themselves not through the prism of narrow domestic or intra-EU disputes, but as a continent of many blessings, despite the current anxiety, not least in the eurozone. Yes, it must redefine its role and ambitions in a globalised, interconnected and more complex world. But Europe is far from over: it accounts for only 7% of the world’s population, but 25% of its GDP and 50% of its public spending.

As Francis pointed out, this globalised world has become “less and less Eurocentric”. The Argentinian pope has great credibility to make this point, as well as to remind Europe that it needs to reach out to those who endure great ordeals to reach its shores. For years Jorge Mario Bergoglio built his image and his pastoral activities in Buenos Aires as the archbishop of the poor, the favelas and the downtrodden. He is the first non-European pontiff in over a thousand years, well aware that today’s Catholic church has its greatest constituencies in the global south, parts of the world where Europe is regarded with “aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion”. In 2013, his first trip outside Rome after becoming pope was to the island of Lampedusa, scene of too many migrants’ tragedies.

By castigating a Europe that produces a “general impression of weariness and ageing”, a Europe which is now a “grandmother … no longer fertile and vibrant”, the pope intended to issue a wake-up call. He aimed his criticism at the plight of the unemployed in the age of austerity and on how contemporary society pushes individuals towards an “uncontrolled consumerism”. The pope wants Europe to “rediscover the best of itself”. Some may see that as a call for miracles. Others will cringe at the reference to lack of fertility. But the overall message must be welcomed for the right reasons, which are about strengthening the EU, not undermining it. The time is long overdue for more voices to speak out, for Europe’s politicians, not least in the UK, to present their vision of the “better” EU they want – and are ready to defend.

Russia, China mock divide and rule

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BLOOD & OIL

By Pepe Escobar

 

ROME and BEIJING — The Roman Empire did it. The British Empire copied it in style. The Empire of Chaos has always done it. They all do it. Divide et impera. Divide and rule — or divide and conquer. It’s nasty, brutish and effective. Not forever though, like diamonds, because empires do crumble.

A room with a view to the Pantheon may be a celebration of Venus — but also a glimpse on the works of Mars. I had been in Rome essentially for a symposium — Global WARning — organized by a very committed, talented group led by a former member of European Parliament, Giulietto Chiesa. Three days later, as the run on the rouble was unleashed, Chiesa was arrested and expelled from Estonia as persona non grata, yet another graphic illustration of the anti-Russia hysteria gripping the Baltic nations and the Orwellian grip NATO has on Europe’s weak links.[1] Dissent is simply not allowed.

At the symposium, held in a divinely frescoed former 15th century Dominican refectory now part of the Italian parliament’s library, Sergey Glazyev, on the phone from Moscow, gave a stark reading of Cold War 2.0. There’s no real “government” in Kiev; the US ambassador is in charge. An anti-Russia doctrine has been hatched in Washington to foment war in Europe — and European politicians are its collaborators. Washington wants a war in Europe because it is losing the competition with China.

Glazyev addressed the sanctions dementia: Russia is trying simultaneously to reorganize the politics of the International Monetary Fund, fight capital flight and minimize the effect of banks closing credit lines for many businessmen. Yet the end result of sanctions, he says, is that Europe will be the ultimate losers economically; bureaucracy in Europe has lost economic focus as American geopoliticians have taken over.

Only three days before the run on the rouble, I asked Rosneft’s Mikhail Leontyev (Press-Secretary — Director of the Information and Advertisement Department) about the growing rumors of the Russian government getting ready to apply currency controls. At the time, no one knew an attack on the rouble would be so swift, and conceived as a checkmate to destroy the Russian economy. After sublime espressos at the Tazza d’Oro, right by the Pantheon, Leontyev told me that currency controls were indeed a possibility. But not yet.

What he did emphasize was this was outright financial war, helped by a fifth column in the Russian establishment. The only equal component in this asymmetrical war was nuclear forces. And yet Russia would not surrender. Leontyev characterized Europe not as an historical subject but as an object: “The European project is an American project.” And “democracy” had become fiction.

The run on the rouble came and went like a devastating economic hurricane. Yet you don’t threat a checkmate against a skilled chess player unless your firepower is stronger than Jupiter’s lightning bolt. Moscow survived. Gazprom heeded the request of President Vladimir Putin and will sell its US dollar reserves on the domestic market. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier went on the record against the EU further “turning the screw” as in more counter-productive sanctions against Moscow. And at his annual press conference, Putin emphasized how Russia would weather the storm. Yet I was especially intrigued by what he did not say.[2]

As Mars took over, in a frenetic acceleration of history, I retreated to my Pantheon room trying to channel Seneca; from euthymia — interior serenity – to that state of imperturbability the Stoics defined as aponia. Still, it’s hard to cultivate euthymia when Cold War 2.0 rages.

Show me your imperturbable missile

Russia could always deploy an economic “nuclear” option, declaring a moratorium on its foreign debt. Then, if Western banks seized Russian assets, Moscow could seize every Western investment in Russia. In any event, the Pentagon and NATO’s aim of a shooting war in the European theater would not happen; unless Washington was foolish enough to start it.

Still, that remains a serious possibility, with the Empire of Chaos accusing Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) even as it prepares to force Europe in 2015 to accept the deployment of US nuclear cruise missiles.

Russia could outmaneuver Western financial markets by cutting them off from its wealth of oil and natural gas. The markets would inevitably collapse — uncontrolled chaos for the Empire of Chaos (or “controlled chaos,” in Putin’s own words). Imagine the crumbling of the quadrillion-plus of derivatives. It would take years for the “West” to replace Russian oil and natural gas, but the EU’s economy would be instantly devastated.

Just this lightning-bolt Western attack on the rouble — and oil prices — using the crushing power of Wall Street firms had already shaken European banks exposed to Russia to the core; their credit default swaps soared. Imagine those banks collapsing in a Lehman Brothers-style house of cards if Russia decided to default — thus unleashing a chain reaction. Think about a non-nuclear MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) — in fact warless. Still, Russia is self-sufficient in all kinds of energy, mineral wealth and agriculture. Europe isn’t. This could become the lethal result of war by sanctions.

Essentially, the Empire of Chaos is bluffing, using Europe as pawns. The Empire of Chaos is as lousy at chess as it is at history. What it excels in is in upping the ante to force Russia to back down. Russia won’t back down.

Darkness dawns at the break of chaos

Paraphrasing Bob Dylan in When I Paint My Masterpiece, I left Rome and landed in Beijing. Today’s Marco Polos travel Air China; in 10 years, they will be zooming up in reverse, taking high-speed rail from Shanghai to Berlin.[3]

From a room in imperial Rome to a room in a peaceful hutong — a lateral reminiscence of imperial China. In Rome, the barbarians swarm inside the gates, softly pillaging the crumbs of such a rich heritage, and that includes the local Mafia. In Beijing, the barbarians are kept under strict surveillance; of course there’s a Panopticon element to it, essential to assure internal social peace. The leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — ever since the earth-shattering reforms by the Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping — is perfectly conscious that its Mandate of Heaven is directly conditioned by the perfect fine-tuning of nationalism and what we could term “neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics.”

In a different vein of the “soft beds of the East” seducing Marcus Aurelius, the silky splendors of chic Beijing offer a glimpse of an extremely self-assured emerging power. After all, Europe is nothing but a catalogue of multiple sclerosis and Japan is under its sixth recession in 20 years.

To top it off, in 2014 President Xi Jinping has deployed unprecedented diplomatic/geostrategic frenzy — ultimately tied to the long-term project of slowly but surely keeping on erasing US supremacy in Asia and rearranging the global chessboard. What Xi said in Shanghai in May encapsulates the project; “It’s time for Asians to manage the affairs of Asia.” At the APEC meeting in November, he doubled down, promoting an “Asia-Pacific dream.”

Meanwhile, frenzy is the norm. Apart from the two monster, US$725 billion gas deals — Power of Siberia and Altai pipeline — and a recent New Silk Road-related offensive in Eastern Europe,[4] virtually no one in the West remembers that in September Chinese Prime Minister Li Keiqiang signed no fewer than 38 trade deals with the Russians, including a swap deal and a fiscal deal, which imply total economic interplay.

A case can be made that the geopolitical shift towards Russia-China integration is arguably the greatest strategic maneuver of the last 100 years. Xi’s ultimate master plan is unambiguous: a Russia-China-Germany trade/commerce alliance. German business/industry wants it badly, although German politicians still haven’t got the message. Xi — and Putin — are building a new economic reality on the Eurasian ground, crammed with crucial political, economic and strategic ramifications.

Of course, this will be an extremely rocky road. It has not leaked to Western corporate media yet, but independent-minded academics in Europe (yes, they do exist, almost like a secret society) are increasingly alarmed there is no alternative model to the chaotic, entropic hardcore neoliberalism/casino capitalism racket promoted by the Masters of the Universe.

Even if Eurasian integration prevails in the long run, and Wall Street becomes a sort of local stock exchange, the Chinese and the emerging multipolar world still seem to be locked into the existing neoliberal model.

And yet, as much as Lao Tzu, already an octogenarian, gave the young Confucius an intellectual slap on the face, the “West” could do with a wake-up call. Divide et impera? It’s not working. And it’s bound to fail miserably.

As it stands, what we do know is that 2015 will be a hair-raising year in myriad aspects. Because from Europe to Asia, from the ruins of the Roman empire to the re-emerging Middle Kingdom, we all still remain under the sign of a fearful, dangerous, rampantly irrational Empire of Chaos.

Belgium: Odessa massacre remembered outside European Parliament

Belgium: Odessa massacre remembered outside European Parliament

 

 

 

 RIANOVOSTI –  4 October 2014

Scores of people in Brussels assembled to honor the memory of the victims of the May 2 Odessa tragedy. The participants were carrying black balloons.

Similar events took place in a number of European cities.

On May 2, 2014 a rally held by Antimaidan activists on Kulikovo Field in Odessa turned tragic when they were attacked by Right Sector radicals and football fans. Dozens of Antimaidan activists were killed when the Trade Union building they were taking shelter in was set on fire. According to the official estimates, 48 people were killed and over 250 were injured. Another 48 people are considered missing. Odessa regional councilman Vadim Savenko believes that the Kiev authorities have understated the number of casualties – he claims that 116 people were killed.

Petro Poroshenko: Livin’ on a Prayer ?

Petro Poroshenko address to US Congress Full Speech

This address by Porkyshenko to the Senate and House of representatives is shocking.. This is not a convocation of New World order members at all, it is a mass murderer of thousands of Ukrainians and Donbass residents addressing and colluding with the Neocon imbeciles of the United Snakes, all of whom are using Porkyshenko as their instrument to knife Putin and to demonise Russia endlessly.

It is a convocation of the truly insane, applauding the totally psychotic..

Listen as Porkyshenko kisses the United Snakes ass, and ensures that ‘his’ Ukraine needs so desperately to become a ‘club member’ and how each Kiev Nazi citizen only wants to work hard for Ukraine’s future.. I have rarely seen a more sick-making video, and could not watch it in its entirety…

Maybe Yarosh will have him killed, and at least that will clear some of the filth away for a short while, until this travesty of a government can be de-Nazified (if that is at all possible)

.. It can only get much worse from here on..

I like it when he says 45 people are watching.. (he meant 45 million (less the tens of thousands that he’s already killed) but he’s much too stupid to remember the correct Ukrainian population statistics, which are meaningless anyway, to a hardened sociopath.

I am aghast and horrified at the reception the US, my own country, has given to mass murderer Poroshenko. American foreign policy is atrocious. And the EU policies are appalling as well. Below is a link to the Text adopted by the European Parliament today, in which Russia is villified without a shred of proof.

An excerpt from page 17:

C. whereas the ceasefire has been persistently violated by, mainly, regular Russian troops and separatists since Friday, 5 September 2014 in areas near Mariupol and Donetsk airport, with attempts to probe Ukraine’s defences in several other localities;

D. whereas in the previous weeks Russia increased its military presence on the territory of Ukraine and logistical support of the separatist militias through a steady flow of weapons, ammunition, armoured vehicles and equipment, mercenaries and soldiers in disguise, in spite of the EU’s calls to make every effort to de-escalate the situation; whereas since the beginning of the crisis the Russian Federation has amassed troops and military hardware on the border with Ukraine;

E. whereas Russia’s direct and indirect military intervention in Ukraine, including the annexation of Crimea, violates international law including the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the 1994 Budapest Agreement; whereas Russia continues to refuse the implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE);

Oh yeah? The link to download document:

http://t.co/1WbodPRBNW

OBEY! OBEY! OBEY!

Officials and members of the European Parliament in Brussels (AFP Photo)

Officials and members of the European Parliament in Brussels (AFP Photo)

EU adopts new sanctions against Russia to come into force in ‘next few days’

A new package of sanctions against Russia has been adopted by the EU. Previous reports said the “further restrictive measures” were aimed at targeting three major oil companies, as well as the defense sector.

According to a Monday statement by the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, the new package was adopted through written procedure, “deepening the targeted measures of 31 July.”

“The sanctions aim at promoting a change of course in Russia’s actions destabilizing eastern Ukraine,” the statement reads.

Although it was previously reported that the new sanctions could come into force by Tuesday, the final EU decision did not specify the date when they will be applied, only saying it “will take place in the next few days,” leaving time “for an assessment of the implementation of the cease-fire agreement [in Ukraine].”

“Depending on the situation on the ground, the EU stands ready to review the agreed sanctions in whole or in part,”Van Rompuy’sstatement reads.

Over the weekend, some EU diplomats told Reuters that the sanctions could be lifted if the ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and militia forces holds. The truce was agreed last week.

“A ceasefire must hold for sanctions to be lifted,” the agency quoted a senior EU diplomat as saying.

According to some EU representatives, the sanctions could “even get ridden off entirely.”

Despite some shooting over the weekend, “overall the ceasefire held,” an OSCE security watchdog said on Monday, adding that “it is still shaky.”

The new package of sanctions is reportedly aimed at Russian state-owned oil companies, particularly Rosneft, Transneft, and Gazpromneft.

On Monday, Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev warned that Russia may shut its air corridors to Western airlines if the next round of European sanctions hits Russia’s energy sector.

In order to be approved, the restrictive documents needed to be signed by all 28 member states of the European Union. There were reports that the decision did not go through at once, and an EU ambassadors emergency meeting had to be called, as some governments had second thoughts on the new ‘punishment’ for Moscow.

“The ceasefire is an enormous step forward and with that comes the possibility of a political solution…There is quite a strong appetite across Europe for saying we want a political solution here, we don’t want a ramping up of the economic pressure,” British opposition MP and peace campaigner Jeremy Corbyn told RT.

If new EU sanctions hit energy sector, Russia may close airspace – Medvedev

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned Russia may shut its air corridors to Western airlines if the next round of European sanctions hit Russian energy companies.

“If there are sanctions related to the energy sector, or further restrictions on Russia’s financial sector, we will have to respond asymmetrically,” Medvedev said in an interview with the Vedomosti newspaper, published on Monday.

EU ministers will gather on Monday to discuss new sanctions against Russia and are rumored to be introduced on Tuesday. The prime minister promised a strong retaliation if the West slaps Russia with more sanctions.

“We could impose transport restrictions,” Medvedev said, adding, “We believe we have friendly relations with our partners, and foreign airlines of friendly countries are permitted to fly over Russia. However, we’ll have to respond to any restrictions imposed on us,” the prime minister said.

After sanctions hit Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary Dobrolet in late July, Medvedev discussed with ministers the possibility of limiting, of even completely blocking, European flights to Asia that overfly Russia.

“If Western carriers have to bypass our airspace, this could drive many struggling airlines into bankruptcy. This is not the way to go. We just hope our partners realize this at some point,” he told Vedomosti.

 

Dobrolyot plane lands in Simferopol

Flying over Russian airspace saves Western airlines headed to Asia at least 4 hours of flight time, which adds up to about $30,000 per flight.

Lufthansa said it could potentially lose more than €1 billion in three months if it does not use Russian airspace. Lufthansa, along with British Airways and Air France, are the largest EU airlines. US airlines currently don’t operate over Siberian airspace.

Many low-cost airlines have decided not to launch new routes to Russia, with the threat of sanctions possibly a factor. Last week Ryanair ditched plans to establish a Dublin-St. Petersburg route, and easyJet, another European-based airline, dropped its plans to develop a London-St. Petersburg service.

Medvedev didn’t specify whether the blocked airspace would also apply to cargo and delivery companies, such as UPS and FedEx.

Oil at stake

EU sanctions, which will reportedly be introduced on Tuesday, will ban Russia’s three main oil companies- Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, and Transneft – from raising long-term (longer than 30 days) debt on European capital markets, according to the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Rosneft – Russia’s largest oil producer – was added to the US sanctions list on July 16 and was put on the EU list on July 29. Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer, Novatek, also was added to the blacklist in July, along with a ban on the export of hi-tech oil equipment needed in Arctic, deep sea, and shale extraction projects to Russia.
Gazprom Neft is the oil subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Transneft is Russia’s state-owned oil pipeline company that exports all of Rosneft’s crude oil, and 56 percent of Russia’s crude exports.

Sanctions likely won’t apply to privately-owned Russian oil groups such as Lukoil and Surgutneftegaz.

The EU will also reportedly follow America’s lead on banning goods that can have dual military and civilian use from Russian companies that also supply the Russian military, the WSJ reported Sunday. On July 16, the US blacklisted several defense sector companies include Almaz-Antey Corporation, the Kalashnikov Concern and Instrument Design Bureau, as well as companies such as Izhmash, Basalt, and Uralvagonzavod.

“Sanctions are always a double-edged sword. Ultimately they end up backfiring and end up hurting those who are first to impose restrictions,” Medvedev said.

The EU has agreed on the new sanctions but said they could be delayed or even cancelled if Russia shows willingness to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.

On Friday Kiev introduced a ceasefire to calm fighting between the Ukrainian army and anti-government forces, but fighting and shelling continued in the country’s east.

Siberia flights

Siberia flights