Wednesday, July 3, 2013

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To The Total Collapse Of The White Supremacy Paradigm - Portugal Slides Closer To The Abyss With Forced Austerity Measures!

July 03, 2013 - PORTUGAL - Political turmoil in Portugal is threatening to re-ignite Europe’s debt crisis after a year of relative calm. Having won praise for taking tough measures to restore the financial health of the eurozone state, Portugal’s government has been rocked this week by the resignation of two ministers who quit because of waning public support for its program of austerity.

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has refused to accept the resignation of his foreign minister, who heads a junior partner in the center-right coalition. But anxious investors sold stocks and bonds heavily Wednesday on fears that the government may collapse. Portuguese media said two other ministers could follow their party leader in tendering their resignation Wednesday.

New elections could delay economic reforms and prolong Portugal’s dependence on bailout funds. Yields on its 10-year government bonds surged above 7% for the first time this year and at one stage hit 8%. Shares on the country’s benchmark stock index fell by about 5.5%, with banks particularly hard hit. Major European stock markets and government bonds in other peripheral eurozone states also suffered losses.

“We think the risk is that the combination of such higher yields and political uncertainty reduces the prospect of Portugal regaining full market access in the next year, and hence leads to expectations of a new ‘full’ [bailout] program being required,” noted Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a research report. Portugal signed up for a 78-billion euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund in 2011, and was hoping to exit the program in mid-2014.

Its economy has paid a heavy price for the spending cuts and structural reforms demanded in return for the rescue loans. Gross domestic product is forecast to shrink by 2.3% in 2013, a third consecutive year of recession, and unemployment has hit a record high of close to 18%. The government has found it increasingly difficult to meet the terms of its bailout — some measures have been struck down by the constitutional court — and Portugal was given extra time earlier this year to hit EU budget deficit rules.

Any further backsliding by Portugal could encourage other bailed-out states such as Greece and Cyprus to seek concessions from lenders as they struggle to meet the conditions. “Portugal has emerged as a new serious risk to the grand political bargain in the eurozone of support from the core and reforms in the periphery,” noted Berenberg Bank senior economist Christian Schulz. Greece has until Monday to satisfy officials from the EU and IMF that its reforms are on track or risk missing out on its latest tranche of rescue cash. - CNN.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MERS Contagion - Saudi Arabia Reports Two More Deaths From MERS-CoV Virus!

July 03, 2013 - SAUDI ARABIA - Two more Saudi Arabians have died of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infections, the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) reported today. Both cases had been announced previously.

The patients were a 75-year-old “citizen” in Al-Ahsa governorate and a 63-year-old woman in Riyadh. The MOH simultaneously also announced the recovery of three other MERS patients: a 61-year-old citizen in Al-Ahsa, a 41-year-old woman in the Riyadh region, and a 50-year-old woman in the Eastern region.

The two deaths raise the Saudi death toll, unofficially, to 36, out of 64 cases. At this writing, the MOH’s coronavirus overview page has not been updated since Jun 24 and still lists the death toll at 34. The current World Health Organization global count, which does not include the latest deaths, stands at 77 cases and 40 deaths.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor any other country has reported any new MERS cases since Jun 23, when the MOH announced seven, six of which were described as asymptomatic. The lull follows a very active MERS-CoV period of about 2 months.

It was on May 2 that Saudi Arabia announced seven new MERS-CoV cases, including five deaths. It later became clear that these were part of an outbreak that involved at least three hospitals in Al-Ahsa; it eventually grew to 25 cases.

The month of May also brought the first MERS-CoV cases in France, Tunisia, and Italy. France’s first case involved a man who had vacationed in the United Arab Emirates, while the Tunisian case was in a man who had been in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In Italy, a man who had traveled to Jordan became infected.

All three of these cases led to one or two more cases in close contacts but did not lead to ongoing spread of the virus. - CIDRAP.

PROTESTS & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Largest Demonstration In World History - Millions Of Egyptians Take To The Streets Against President Morsi And The Muslim Brotherhood?!

July 03, 2013 - EGYPT - Military source claims that as many as 14 million could have mobilized across the country, which would constitute the largest protest in world history.

Egypt once more defied all expectations on Sunday, when Tahrir Square was re-occupied and millions took to the streets across the crisis-ridden country in an attempt to push President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from power and resume the revolutionary process that was kick-started with the spontaneous popular uprising that toppled Mubarak in January and February 2011. While the protests remained mostly peaceful, the health ministry has reported that at least 16 people have died and 781 have been injured in inter-factional clashes since Sunday.

According to unconfirmed reports and military sources, whose claims could not immediately be verified and which may have been politically inspired, as many as 14 million people marched against the government on Sunday, while hundreds of thousands of Islamists gathered in various counter-demonstrations to support and defend “their” President. According to Egypt analyst Michael Hanna, Sunday’s “scenes of protest are unprecedented in size and scope, and seemingly surpass those during the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak.”

Hanna stressed that the sheer scale of the mobilization was all the more impressive because it was “a bottom-up, grassroots effort and not directed by political opposition leaders. In a sense, they have latched on to this expanding current. While the organisers were diligent and creative, while lacking organisation and funding, this breadth of mass mobilisation could not have transpired unless the protest movement was tapping into deep and growing frustration and disenchantment with the current course of the country and its leadership.”

The grassroots Tamarod (Rebel) campaign that initially called for the demonstrations claims that it has collected over 22 million signatures from Egyptians across the country demanding the President’s resignation. The campaign to push Morsi from power and start a renewed constituent process is supported by a panoply of opposition parties and autonomous social movements, including the April 6th Youth Movement that spearheaded the Egyptian revolution of January 25, 2011 through years of tireless organizing in solidarity with striking workers in the town of El-Mahalla El-Kubra.

Social movement scholars generally recognize the worldwide marches of February 15, 2003 against the Iraq war to have been the biggest protest event in world history, bringing between 6 and 10 million people to the streets in over 600 cities and up to 60 countries. According to informal metrics gathered by members of the Take The Square and ROAR collectives (and widely picked up by the international media), the worldwide Occupy protests of October 15, 2011 might have been even bigger, bringing millions to the streets in 952 cities in 82 countries.

If the latest reports are true, the Egyptian protests of Sunday would shatter these records flat out. But even if the numbers are exaggerated, one thing is now clear: these mobilizations are so vast that there is no doubt that the revolutionary process that began in 2011 is now back in full swing. After two and half years of broken promises, shattered illusions and continued resistance, the Egyptian people appear to be more politically conscious and more outraged than ever. There is simply no way to put this revolutionary spirit back in its stifling bottle of state repression while sidestepping its demands for “bread, freedom and social justice.”

This is where the reporting of the mainstream media becomes painstakingly reactionary. In its latest editorials, even The Guardian seems to have abandoned the revolutionaries in favor of an angst-ridden liberal obsession with stability. In its Sunday edition, it somehow managed to gather the whit and shortsightedness to claim that the revolution is now on the brink of self-destruction. If we are to buy this story, the people of Egypt should just suck it up and accept the fact that, while their new democracy may be far from perfect, continued struggle is not the way to improve the situation. In fact, reform and bread should come first — freedom and democracy can come later.

Clearly such a reading echoes precisely the type of fearful narrative that predominated during the first uprising of 2011, when world leaders and the international media initially took the side of Mubarak in a bid to preserve regional stability, only to shift sides once they realized that the tides had turned. Back then, world leaders and the international media stoked the fears of an Islamist take-over; now that a “convenient” Islamist regime is in power, they stoke the fears of a full-on civil war. If the current anti-Morsi protests persist and succeed, they may pull off a similarly hypocritical strategic shift to once again preserve their thinly veiled illusion of regional stability.

That said, it is obvious that today’s situation is much more complex and volatile than it was back in 2011. The second rebellion that kicked off on Sunday can no longer be spoken of in simplistic terms as an uprising of the people against the state. The revolutionary coalition that toppled Mubarak has been ripped open in a schism between the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand and a curious oppositional alliance on the other, made up of a “hardcore” of anarchist, autonomist and socialist revolutionaries and a divided opposition of secular middle-class liberals, the disaffected religious poor and even reactionary elements from the old Mubarak regime.

The secular army, which runs a sizable industrial empire and which is not too comfortable with the creeping Islamization of society, currently sits in the wings waiting for an opportunity to jump in and shift coalitions if circumstances allow for it. The state security apparatus, meanwhile — most importantly the unreformed Interior Ministry and police forces — have clearly stated that they will not actively defend any political party against “the people”. On some isolated occasions on Sunday they actively sided with the protesters, and they did not defend the Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo when they were ransacked on Sunday night and Monday morning.

The organizers of the Tamarod campaign have now given Morsi an ultimatum to step down by Tuesday or face an endless wave of mass civil disobedience. Meanwhile, in a sign that the societal rifts may now be spreading into the ruling party’s internal circles, eleven cabinet ministers have already abandoned Morsi and defected to the opposition. The Brotherhood still retains a sizable base of popular support, which will surely put up a fight to preserve its control over state institutions, but even this base is now rapidly shrinking as a deepening debt crisis and massive fuel shortages are removing the last bits of legitimacy from Morsi’s trembling regime.

WATCH:  Millions against Morsi.

Before Sunday’s historic mobilization, Egyptian friends and comrades sent us messages expressing their heartfelt fear of bloodshed and serious social instability. We all share these fears and hope for the best. But unlike The Guardian, we believe the wisdom of the streets lies not in demobilization but in continued struggle. Even if the objective conditions for the overthrow of the capitalist state may not yet exist, any state that does not fear its people will continuously seek to abuse its power. Only a vigorous and endless struggle can make those in power fear their people enough to bring about meaningful social change. Egypt’s future will be determined in the streets.

 In a sign that the clock is ticking and time may soon be up for Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the army has just given the government an ambiguous (but thinly veiled) 48-hour ultimatum to “meet the people’s demands”. - Roar Mag.