If a 4.5 million nation is the third biggest foreign holder of US Treasury securities, the biggest in the European Union, it is something remarkable. If a 0.5 million nation is the second EU-holder of US papers, it is something striking. Ireland and Luxembourg, as well as the United Kingdom and Belgium, are used by the international financiers of foreign powers to credit or cheat the US government who pays them interest for avoiding taxes in their home-country.
It is widely known that Japan and China are the two biggest holders of US government bonds. But these countries have huge savings and their investments over $1 trillion have fundamentals. Meanwhile, the EU holdings (altogether bigger than those of Japan or China) are pumped up by financial institutions, including US financiers and companies. In other words, European holdings stem from loose tax rules rather than strong economic demand for securities.
The European elites have long stopped to respond to the fears and hopes of the people, which resulted in the emergence of new political parties and movements that address these fears and inspire many citizens of the Old Continent with a hope that it is still possible to have a new, healthy establishment. The forthcoming elections in France, Italy and the Netherlands may decide whether such politicians as Fillon, Macron, Grillo or Wilders, who decisively oppose the current establishment, will hold positions of power. The question arises whether they are as reliable and trustworthy as they would like to be perceived or they only wish to pull wool over our eyes and will not be all that different than their neoconservative and liberal predecessors.
Due to numerous scandals, cronyism, unfair business deals, empty promises, thousands of migrants in the streets and refugee camps people began to mistrust the likes of Berlusconi or Sarkozy. Recently, new actors have appeared on the political stage who immediately have been labelled as extreme right or left, populist, xenophobic and anti-European. People in Italy and France, however, do not let themselves be duped with such misnomers anymore and prefer now to turn their attention to such politicians as Marine Le Pen or Beppe Grillo, who at least represent the common man’s feelings and hopes. Yet, even if the National Front and the Five-Star Movement abide by their election promises, the leaders of these parties do not seem so decent as their voters wish they were.
If you think mathematics is about numbers, calculations and things like these, you are wrong. Mathematics is also about “restoring the cultural dignity of children.”1)What is ethnomathematics, and how can it help children in schools? Teaching Children Mathematics; Reston; Feb 2001; Ubiratan D’Ambrosio.If you think mathematics is acultural, then you are in the wrong; true, mathematics used to be perceived that way but it should not, since “an acultural mathematical curriculum […] distorts the facts that children learn about how mathematics has evolved and who has contributed to this evolution.”2)What is ethnomathematics, and how can it help children in schools? Teaching Children Mathematics; Reston; Feb 2001; Ubiratan D’Ambrosio.If you further think mathematics is an objective branch of knowledge which students ought to master, then, yes you guessed it, you are wrong. Students ought to be encouraged to use mathematics “to critique aspects of society” and, indeed, to “critique mathematics” itself because its “algorithms structure our lives in ways which reproduce inequality”,3)Decolonising mathematics: Why it’s good for us, how to begin, BizNews.com 2016-10-17.which is elegantly referred to as “weapons of math destruction”.4)Math Is Biased Against Women and the Poor, According to a Former Math Professor, The Cut 2016-09-06.If you think decolonisation is about lands and nations, then again you are wrong. Nowadays we are in need of decolonising university curricula, science and the language of instruction.5)It’s time to take the curriculum back from dead white men, The Conversation 2015-05-08; Why switching to indigenous languages will help solve university crisis – education expert, BizNews.com 2016-10-04.
What’s wrong with mathematics? Indictment number one: it has been created by “dead white men” (so has English literature) who thus continue to “control things”.6)It’s time to take the curriculum back from dead white men, The Conversation 2015-05-08.Indictment number two: mathematics “has a problem with diversity”. Why? Because “all over the world, black and women mathematicians remain rare”.7)Decolonising mathematics: Why it’s good for us, how to begin, BizNews.com 2016-10-17.Indictment number three: mathematics (and many other branches of science) “perpetuates stereotypes about who belongs in the field”. And who does? “Gifted people”, and since e.g. in “2013, 73% of math doctorates were male and 94% were white or Asian” and “the proportion of women pursuing mathematics PhDs between 2004 and 2013 actually fell, from 34% of students to 27% of students” mathematics is reprehensibly racist and biased against females.8)Ideas of “Giftedness” Hurt Students, youcubed.Indictment number four: mathematics is “all too often Eurocentric, paying homage to the fair-skinned Greeks as the purveyors of most of our significant mathematical knowledge”.9)What is ethnomathematics, and how can it help children in schools? Teaching Children Mathematics; Reston; Feb 2001; Ubiratan D’Ambrosio.
In a meeting including the most successful minds of the business and political world, you would expect a buzz of new ideas on how to solve the rising displeasure in the Western world: none of that; the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos was an echo-chamber of whining about the democratic participation of the masses that are no longer blindly obeying their elites, scorned as “populism”.
Davos 2017 was the reflection of an elite detached from the reality of the lower classes of the West, unable to understand their problems: the choice of the location for the forum is further evidence of this; a tourist location in a tax haven, instead of, for example, Molenbeek in Brussels, transformed by globalization into a breeding ground for Muslim terrorists, a no-go area for years, until the Belgian police had to use its special forces in the wake of a terrorist attack. This is the daily reality of the average Belgian, European, Western citizen.
US-centric media report that Japan has become the biggest holder of the US treasuries, surpassing China last month. However, this is true only in regard to single countries. If we consider European Union member states collectively, then they appear to be the biggest holder of the US treasuries. It has been so almost one year long. Unfortunately, the EU’s holdings are artificially overstated because of some financial havens and they are going in the opposite direction to the trend: up rather than down.
According to the latest data from TIC (Treasury International Capital System), the EU was in possession of $1242 billion of US Treasuries in November 2016, $9 billion more than one month earlier. The EU was the only one from three biggest holders that increased its amount of US treasuries in November, while China and Japan continued to lower their holdings.
When the so called communist system had crumbled in Eastern European countries, their respective societies embraced Western-style democracy and economy, which, taking into consideration the development gap between the two systems came as no surprise. What was stunning, however, was the fact that yesterday’s communists became today’s social-democrats; yesterday’s enemies of the West transpired as today’s ardent friends of the west; yesterday’s anti-liberal propagandists had no difficulty changing sides and becoming today’s pro-liberal propagandists; why, to top it all, yesterday’s Moscow’s footstools turned into the Kermlin’s fierce critics. It does not stand to reason that they (i) became capitalists overnight and that (ii) they converted to western values in droves.
The same people in a position of power who before 1989 would punish their compatriots for entertaining a mere thought of emigrating to the West or copying Western-style political or economic solutions; the same people at the helm who would not even ponder leaving the Warsaw Pact and joining NATO, arguing that geopolitics was such as to impediment any such attempts, the same people after 1989 came to laugh at the opponents of the European Union or NATO.
The rule of law is often invoked by as a Western value that “populist” movements want to destroy, yet the establishment’s own governments have long suspended that very same rule of law when it comes to immigration. The most evident example of this is the immigration policy started by the Italian Letta government in 2013 and continued since then under the Renzi government.
In October 2013, the Letta government, facing waves of refugees escaping the chaos of Western backed-Arab Spring in Libya, which later transpired as nothing more than insurgencies of Islamic radical groups, launched the operation “Mare Nostrum” or “Our Sea”, which consisted in the use of the Italian navy near Libyan waters to rescue asylum seekers from the African coast.
A break-up of the eurozone due to the European Central Bank and its Public Sector Purchase Programme (PSPP) should not be treated like a science-fiction scenario. The more government bonds the ECB buys, the smaller becomes the problem of a country’s insolvency and debt conversion into French francs or Greek drachmas. Eventually, who cares if all the bonds are kept by the institution that cannot go bankrupt and that is out of the financial market?
Let us recall: the exclusion of Greece from the Euro Area was impossible in 2012 due to a large amount of Greek debt held by foreign banks, which were rescued by the ECB, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. These institutions, called Troika, saved banks and private creditors, not the Greeks: 95% of the bailout money went to banks, as a study of the European School of Management and Technology proved.1)Study: Bailouts for Banks, Not Greeks, Source: Handelsblatt 2016-05-04
For two months, using marinetraffic.com, we have been monitoring the movements of ships owned by a couple of NGOs. Using data from data.unhcr.org., we have kept track of the daily arrivals of African immigrants in Italy. It turned out we were witness to a big scam and an illegal human traffic operation.
Replace freedom of speech with hate speech and you get rid of the former, basking on moral high ground of fighting the latter.
There was a time when people in the Eastern Bloc were forbidden to listen to Radio Free Europe, The Voice of America or any other western broadcaster on pain of, depending and country and period, severe or mild punishment. The mentioned radio stations were jammed most of the time, which was not the only countermeasure that was implemented: the government-controlled mass media would target selected news and in an attempt to spread “information literacy” raise the citizens’ awareness of the dangers of being exposed to hostile Western propaganda which, allegedly, went out of their way to create the impression of failed socialist states.
After what to many came down as an unexpected result of the British referendum, another one could further accelerate the implosion of the European Union, this time in Italy. December 4th the Italians will be voting on political reforms. Thanks to the law of unintended consequences, these changes will pave the way for a subsequent referendum where people might be asked to vote whether the country should return to the lira as its legal tender.
To understand why, we first have a look at the current political structure. The Italian parliament is made up of the Chamber of the Deputies (the lower house), and the Senate (an upper house), which are endowed with the same power. New legislation has to be approved by both chambers before it becomes law. Italy has about ten political parties, making it hard to create a coalition and form a government that gets the backing of a majority in both houses.
Germany in, France out? German preponderance in Central Europe and… in Western Europe as well? Revival of the Holy Roman Empire (Sacrum Imperium Romanum) with Sclavinia, Gallia, Roma, and Germania paying homage to the German emperor, nay, chancellor? A Forth Reich in the making?
Smoke was far from subsiding over the trenches of the battlefields of World War One when in 1916 a book was published. Its title was Mitteleuropa1)Friedrich Naumann, Mitteleuropa, Berlin 1916, available at Internet Archive, a non-profit library.and its author: Friedrich Naumann.2)Friedrich Naumann, Encyclopaedia Britannica. The war was about making a new deal between the superpowers at the turn of the 20th century: Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France and England. A deal about re-assigning African and Asian colonies and a new order in Europe. At that time no one could know how the war would end: it was not generally assumed that Austria-Hungary would disappear from the political map or that Russia would drastically change its political system. It was rather taken for granted that the superpowers would have to make mutual concessions and that they could only expand at the cost of smaller nations. Where were they to be found? In Central Europe, from the Baltic down to the Mediterranean: Courland (present day Latvia), Lithuania, Poland, Czechia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria to name a few.