Archive | August 30, 2016

As France Lifts Municipal Burkini Ban, Let’s Ask Why We Should Care What Other People Wear*

As France Lifts Municipal Burkini Ban, Let’s Ask Why We Should Care What Other People Wear*

By Juan Cole

Nicolas Cadène, in an interview at L’Express, analyzes the French court ruling issued Friday that struck down the ban by the mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet on Muslim women wearing modest clothing at the public beach.  The ban was on the burkini, invented by a Lebanese fashion designer to allow observant Muslim women to go to the beach with their families.  But women wearing loose street clothes at the beach have also been bothered by police.

Cadène is a rapporteur at the “Secularism Watchdog” (l’Observatoire de la laïcité), a Ministry of Education body that advises the French government on the implementation of the secularism provisions of the French constitution.

The Counsel of State found that wearing a Burkini creates no trouble for public order and is simply not illegal in current French law.  In response, the French right wing has demanded that the National Assembly enact anti-Burkini legislation.  L’Express worries that the French executive, or at least the ministry of interior, might be inclined to appease the Islamophobic and anti-immigrant right wing on this issue.

L’Express asked Cadène for his reaction.  He said he wasn’t surprised and was very pleased that the court had upheld rights in such a clear way.  He said that the court had reaffirmed the principle that secularism cannot be invoked to forbid wearing a piece of clothing in a public space, which creates no actual difficulty with regard to public order. And they found that the Burkini doesn’t generate any such disturbances.

L’Express pointed out that the logic of rights is not particularly visible in the realm of politics, since several members of parliament have already called for anti-Burkini legislation.

Cadène said that it is disquieting to see these reactions.  He pointed out that August 26, the date of the verdict, is the anniversary of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man.  Article 10 says,

10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.” 

He said the members of the National Assembly just are not reacting in accordance with the Rights of Man, which has constitutional force.

L’Express pointed out that the court did not address the question of whether the Burkini is “ostentatious” or not.

Cadène said that “ostentation” is a political judgment, not a legal one, and there are no laws forbidding it.

He instanced only three pieces of French legislation that observers have attempted to relate to this case, and dismissed all three as irrelevant.

There is the 2004 ban on wearing religious paraphernalia in K-12 schools.  There, the rationale is to protect minors from any sort of pressure, so as to allow them to study in peace.  He implied that such a rationale could not be invoked with regard to adults in public spaces.

There is also a prohibition on clothing that covers the face, but this provision, he said, is simply a matter of security, since it prevents the identification of the person who wears it.  Again, this issue does not arise with regard to the Burkini, since it leaves the face bare.

He added that, third, government officials must avoid expressing their religious opinions.  But this prohibition came about because they are representatives of the state and so must be neutral.

L’Express pointed out that some commenters look at the issue in the frame of women’s rights, seeing this beachwear as retrograde, and wanted to know if this debate can be pursued in the wake of the ruling.

Cadène said that the decision has affirmed the law that is in effect.  It doesn’t forbid debating ideas.  It should be decided whether this clothing is retrograde for the condition of women.  But in a state based on the law, you can’t just prohibit things you don’t like with no legal basis.

I think Cadène’s location of choice of clothing as an expression of one’s opinion, and therefore protected under Article 10, is brilliant.  In the US, this sort of issue would likely be decided in the light of our First Amendment.

Government laws dictating how people dress are called “sumptuary laws.”  Although some delegates to the U.S. constitutional convention wanted to specify such laws as a prerogative of the federal government, in the end, they did not.  (Some wanted to forbid aristocratic dress inappropriate to a republic).  In the end, the federal government doesn’t have any right to tell us how we can dress.  Local governments often pass decency legislation, but those laws typically mandate that people cover up, not that they uncover.

The French mayor wanted to make French women wear revealing bathing suits on the grounds that they are republican and secular, whereas Burkinis or loose street clothes on the beach are an ostentatious sign of a woman being pious and religious– inappropriate in the public spaces of a republic.  This attitude comes out of the French conception of laïcité or secularism, which isn’t like the American.  French in the strong republican tradition sees religion as a little like we now view smoking, as something that is probably bad for people and which should be discouraged, but which is too popular to be banned.  So banning a Burkini for the public good would be viewed by them as like banning cigarettes in public.  But there are real problems with giving the state the right to regulate what is essentially a manifestation of private opinions on the part of a citizen, as was pointed out above.

Sometimes Islamophobic conservatives express outrage that Western progressives support Muslim rights that the conservatives want to curb.  But progressives also support Sikhs, Haredi Jews and others who want to be different, as long as their being different doesn’t harm anyone.  (Thus, Sikh construction workers have to wear a hard hat or they would cost everyone a lot of money in health care; and Haredi bus drivers can’t exclude women or girls because that would be a form of discrimination and a tort).  The reason progressives support these groups is that we believe being different is an extension of the First Amendment.  Conservatives have passed a raft of state and federal laws protecting religious groups from government interference, but they define religion as only evangelical Christians and they ignore the issue of actual harm religious practices can do (thus business people claimed the right not to serve African-Americans on religious grounds back in the 1960s and 1970s).  In short, the progressive position is principled, the conservative one hypocritical and arbitrary.

Let me also point out that the French Third Republic was founded in 1870, and that this swimsuit for women was proposed in 1893 in the French specialty publication, the Fashion Monitor (Le Moniteur de la mode : journal du grande monde):

And here’s Edouard Manet, “On the Beach,” 1873:

You can say that wearers of Burkinis are harking back to early days of the Third Republic.  You can’t say they are behaving in unprecedented ways for citizens of the Republic.


Related Topics:

Middle-aged White Men Like Me Have no Right to Tell Women not to Wear the Burkini*

Burkini ban in France Sparks Worldwide Sales, even among non-Muslims*

Mandatory Dress Code for New Jersey*

Occupy World: The Dwindling Rights of American Women

Mexican Study: Lower Mother Mortality and Violence against Women in Less ‘Liberal’ States*

Quarterback Sits in Protest of the Celebration of Slavery*

Quarterback Sits in Protest of the Celebration of Slavery*

By Jon Schwarz

Before a preseason game on Friday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When he explained why, he only spoke about the present:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Twitter then went predictably nuts, with at least one 49ers fan burning Kaepernick’s jersey.

Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.

Few people know this because we only ever sing the first verse. But read the end of the third verse and you’ll see why “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not just a musical atrocity, it’s an intellectual and moral one, too:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” Americans hazily remember, was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. But we don’t ever talk about how the War of 1812 was a war of aggression that began with an attempt by the U.S. to grab Canada from the British Empire.

However, we’d wildly overestimated the strength of the U.S. military. By the time of the Battle of Fort McHenry in 1814, the British had counterattacked and overrun Washington, D.C., setting fire to the White House.

And one of the key tactics behind the British military’s success was its active recruitment of American slaves. As a detailed 2014 article in Harper’s explains, the orders given to the Royal Navy’s Admiral Sir George Cockburn read:

“Let the landings you make be more for the protection of the desertion of the Black Population than with a view to any other advantage. … The great point to be attained is the cordial Support of the Black population. With them properly armed and backed with 20,000 British Troops, Mr. Madison will be hurled from his throne.”

Whole families found their way to the ships of the British, who accepted everyone and pledged no one would be given back to their “owners.” Adult men were trained to create a regiment called the Colonial Marines, who participated in many of the most important battles, including the August 1814 raid on Washington.

Then on the night of September 13, 1814, the British bombarded Fort McHenry. Key, seeing the fort’s flag the next morning, was inspired to write the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

So when Key penned “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.

With that in mind, think again about the next two lines: “And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The reality is that there were human beings fighting for freedom with incredible bravery during the War of 1812. However, “The Star-Spangled Banner” glorifies America’s “triumph” over them — and then turns that reality completely upside down, transforming their killers into the courageous freedom fighters.

After the U.S. and the British signed a peace treaty at the end of 1814, the U.S. government demanded the return of American “property,” which by that point numbered about 6,000 people. The British refused. Most of the 6,000 eventually settled in Canada, with some going to Trinidad, where their descendants are still known as “Merikins.”

Furthermore, if those leading the backlash against Kaepernick need more inspiration, they can get it from Francis Scott Key’s later life.

By 1833, Key was a district attorney for Washington, D.C. As described in a book called Snowstorm in August by former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, the police were notorious thieves, frequently stealing free blacks’ possessions with impunity. One night, one of the constables tried to attack a woman who escaped and ran away — until she fell off a bridge across the Potomac and drowned.

“There is neither mercy nor justice for coloured people in this district,” an abolitionist paper wrote.

“No fuss or stir was made about it. She was got out of the river, and was buried, and there the matter ended.”

Key was furious and indicted the newspaper for intending “to injure, oppress, aggrieve and vilify the good name, fame, credit and reputation of the Magistrates and constables of Washington County.”

You can decide for yourself whether there’s some connection between what happened 200 years ago and what Colin Kaepernick is angry about today. Maybe it’s all ancient, meaningless history. Or maybe it’s not, and Kaepernick is right, and we really need a new national anthem.


Related Topics:

A Black Independence Day?

Happy 4th July!

Personal Freedom, or My Freedom vs. Yours?*

Fairness, Justice and Freedom are More Than Just Words*

White Supremacist Finds Out He Is Part Black*

The Tension between Freedom and Opportunity*

Obama Anaesthetizing Black Resistance*

Black Wall Street*

Pentagon Admits 60,000 Black Soldiers Used in Human Experiment*

‘We Charge Genocide’: Systematic Murder & Oppression of Blacks Continues in U.S.*

Black-Palestinian Alliance Emerges to Confront Global Violence and Racism*

Serena Williams To #BlackLivesMatter ‘Keep It Up’*

From Black Man’s Burden to African Renaissance*

Black Woman in Evening Gown Faces Police in Baton Rouge*

Six Countries that Grew Filthy Rich from Enslaving Black People*

Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard Plan is Failing*

Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard Plan is Failing*

The main architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world has abandoned the scheme and called for the forging of ties with Russia and China.

apocalypse-statue-of-libertyWhile Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Towards a Global Realignment” has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extend U.S. hegemony across the Middle East and Asia.

Brzezinski, who was the main proponent of this idea and who drew up the blueprint for imperial expansion in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, has done an about-face and called for a dramatic revising of the strategy. Here’s an excerpt from the article in the AI:

“As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture.

Five basic verities regarding the emerging redistribution of global political power and the violent political awakening in the Middle East are signalling the coming of a new global realignment.

The first of these verities is that the United States is still the world’s politically, economically, and militarily most powerful entity but, given complex geopolitical shifts in regional balances, it is no longer the globally imperial power.” (Toward a Global Realignment, Zbigniew Brzezinski, The American Interest)

Repeat: The U.S. is “no longer the globally imperial power.” Compare this assessment to a statement Brzezinski made years earlier in Chessboard when he claimed the U.S. was ” the world’s paramount power.”

“…The last decade of the twentieth century has witnessed a tectonic shift in world affairs. For the first time ever, a non-Eurasian power has emerged not only as a key arbiter of Eurasian power relations but also as the world’s paramount power. The defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union was the final step in the rapid ascendance of a Western Hemisphere power, the United States, as the sole and, indeed, the first truly global power.” (“The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives,” Zbigniew Brzezinski, Basic Books, 1997, p. xiii)

Here’s more from the article in the AI:

“The fact is that there has never been a truly “dominant” global power until the emergence of America on the world scene….. The decisive new global reality was the appearance on the world scene of America as simultaneously the richest and militarily the most powerful player. During the latter part of the 20th century no other power even came close. That era is now ending.” (AI)

3fcd8-zbigniew_brezinski-between_two_ages_americas_role_in_the_technotronic_era_1970But why is “that era is now ending”? What’s changed since 1997 when Brzezinski referred to the U.S. as the “world’s paramount power”?

Brzezinski points to the rise of Russia and China, the weakness of Europe and the “violent political awakening among post-colonial Muslims” as the proximate causes of this sudden reversal. His comments on Islam are particularly instructive in that he provides a rational explanation for terrorism rather than the typical government boilerplate about “hating our freedoms.” To his credit, Brzezinski sees the outbreak of terror as the “welling up of historical grievances” (from “deeply felt sense of injustice”) not as the mindless violence of fanatical psychopaths.

Naturally, in a short 1,500-word article, Brzezniski can’t cover all the challenges (or threats) the U.S. might face in the future. But it’s clear that what he’s most worried about is the strengthening of economic, political and military ties between Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and the other Central Asian states. This is his main area of concern, in fact, he even anticipated this problem in 1997 when he wrote Chessboard. Here’s what he said:

“Henceforth, the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power.” (p.55)

“…To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geo-strategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.” (p.40)

“…prevent collusion…among the vassals.” That says it all, doesn’t it?

The Obama administration’s reckless foreign policy, particularly the toppling of governments in Libya and Ukraine, has greatly accelerated the rate at which these anti-American coalitions have formed. In other words, Washington’s enemies have emerged in response to Washington’s behaviour. Obama can only blame himself.

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has responded to the growing threat of regional instability and the placing of NATO forces on Russia’s borders by strengthening alliances with countries on Russia’s perimeter and across the Middle East. At the same time, Putin and his colleagues in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries have established an alternate banking system (BRICS Bank and AIIB) that will eventually challenge the dollar-dominated system that is the source of US global power. This is why Brzezinski has done a quick 180 and abandoned the plan for U.S. hegemony; it is because he is concerned about the dangers of a non-dollar-based system arising among the developing and unaligned countries that would replace the western Central Bank oligopoly. If that happens, then the U.S. will lose its stranglehold on the global economy and the extortionist system whereby fish-wrap greenbacks are exchanged for valuable goods and services will come to an end.

Unfortunately, Brzezinski’s more cautious approach is not likely to be followed by presidential-favourite Hillary Clinton who is a firm believer in imperial expansion through force of arms. It was Clinton who first introduced “pivot” to the strategic lexicon in a speech she gave in 2010 titled “America’s Pacific Century”. Here’s an excerpt from the speech that appeared in Foreign Policy magazine:

“As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theatres. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region…

Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…

The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.”

(“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)

Compare Clinton’s speech to comments Brzezinski made in Chessboard 14 years earlier:

For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… (p.30)….. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. ….About 75% of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60% of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (p.31)

The strategic objectives are identical, the only difference is that Brzezinski has made a course correction based on changing circumstances and the growing resistance to U.S. bullying, domination and sanctions. We have not yet reached the tipping point for U.S. primacy, but that day is fast approaching and Brzezinski knows it.

In contrast, Clinton is still fully-committed to expanding U.S. hegemony across Asia. She doesn’t understand the risks this poses for the country or the world. She’s going to persist with the interventions until the U.S. war-making juggernaut is stopped dead-in-its-tracks which, judging by her hyperbolic rhetoric, will probably happen some time in her first term.

Brzezinski presents a rational but self-serving plan to climb-down, minimize future conflicts, avoid a nuclear conflagration and preserve the global order. (aka–The “dollar system”) But will bloodthirsty Hillary follow his advice?

Not a chance.


Related Topics:

Plato’s Racial Republic*

Whoever Controls Eurasia Controls the World*

Reliving the Collapse of the Roman Empire*

Lord Rothschild ‘The Tide is Turning’*

Former Bush Official Just Confirmed That Our Wars Are for Corporate Interests*

Former Bush Official ‘The Ship Is Sinking’*

50 Ways to Starve the Beast*

U.S. Air Force to Alter Atmosphere with Plasma Bombs*

Panic Grips Self-Inflicted U.S. NSA Shuts-down as Russia as all Clinton Phone-calls*

We Are Going to Win!*

Three U.S. Allies Now Fighting against Each Other in Northern Syria*

Three U.S. Allies Now Fighting against Each Other in Northern Syria*

endless-staircase by Peter BrookerWith America’s own war in Syria vague in both scope and end-game, they’ve been eager to amass allies that seem potentially useful toward some talking point or other. In having done so, however, they’ve picked up a motley crew of “US-backed” groups that have wildly different goals.

That’s been a recurring problem, but became dramatically moreso this past week, when U.S.-backed Turkey invaded northern Syria, and brought with it a U.S.-backed rebel bloc that includes part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham. Within 24-hours, both quickly got into a fight with the Kurdish YPG, who is also U.S.-backed, putting three U.S. allies in direct conflict.

U.S. officials have been quick to complain about the matter, arguing that fighting is “unacceptable” and that the battlefield in this area of north Syria along the Euphrates River is “getting too crowded,” but such factions were at odds from the start, making the conflicts only a matter of time.

Indeed, throughout the U.S. war in Syria, they’ve been backing the Kurdish YPG despite explicit warnings from Turkey that it would lead to exactly what it led to, Turkish intervention to stop the Kurds from expanding further west. Turkey was very public about the Euphrates River being a “red line,” and invaded almost immediately after the Kurds captured their first city on the other side of the river.

The U.S. calls for everyone to just focus on ISIS rings extremely hollow, because while all of these factions got into proximity with one another by taking ISIS territory (largely with the help of the U.S.), the juiciest plums in the area are no longer in ISIS’ hands, and the fight against ISIS was always going to be followed up immediately with this fight.


Related Topics:

German Paper Admits Ghouta Sarin Attack in Syria Committed By U.S.- backed Al-Qaeda*

Parents Trying to Save Kids from Daesh in Syria Lose Them in Gaziantep Attack*

Turkey aligns Russia with over Syria*

U.S. Commander Threatens Russia and Syria*

Pentagon Accuse Syrian Air Force of being “Foreign Military Aircraft” in Syria*

China’s Upgrading Ties with Syria*

Funded by U.S. Latest ‘iconic image’ designed to Demonize Russia and to Keep Syrian Blood Flowing*

Turkish Deputy PM Admits That Ankara’s Policy on Syria Caused ‘Many Sufferings’*

What we saw in Syria goes against everything we read in the United States*

‘Out Temer!’ Brazil Social Movements Protest Undemocratic Govt*

‘Out Temer!’ Brazil Social Movements Protest Undemocratic Govt*

Social movements have vowed to protest the de facto government if suspended President Dilma Rousseff is ousted permanently this week.

Brazilian social movements shut down major roadways around Sao Paulo during mass protests for democracy and against unpopular and unelected “interim” President Michel Temer Tuesday morning as the impeachment trial likely to definitively remove suspended President Dilma Rousseff from office enters its final hours.

Under the banners of “Out Temer” and “For Democracy,” the Fearless People’s Front and the Homeless Workers Movement — known as the MTST and born out of the more well-known MST Landless Workers Movement — led the protest in Brazil’s largest city beginning at 6 a.m. local time. The protest are part of a national day of mobilizations in cities across the country against what popular sectors have widely condemned as a coup against democracy.

Protesters held burning road blockades on the highway running through Sao Paulo, known as Marginal Tiete, blocking trafficking for more than 90 minutes, Folha de Sao Paulo reported. Another group blocked the main Francisco Morato avenue in the western part of the city for about the same amount of time, while similar blockades were set up on other elsewhere, slowing traffic in the city of more than 11 million.

The demonstrators also slammed the violent repression of protests Monday night in Sao Paulo, when military police cracked down on 3,000-strong march on the city’s central Paulista Avenue with tear gas and flash bombs, local media reported.

Popular leaders have warned that the expected completion of Rousseff’s ouster with a vote in the Senate Wednesday will consolidate the “coup” and usher in a permanent state of similar repression against social movements under the imposed conservative government of Michel Temer.

“This is a sign that, when the coup is accomplished tomorrow or later, there will be a tough process of repression of social movements, including endangering our right to protest,” Brazil Popular Front leader Raimundo Bonfim told Brasil de Fato.

“What they are doing is violence.”

The latest protests come as the impeachment trial in the Senate in Brasilia enters its final leg, with a debate between the prosecution and defence that kicked off at 8 a.m. local time. The process is expected to take five hours, according to O Globo.

After the lawyers’ debate, individual Senators will each have 10 minutes to make statements on the impeachment. With 81 seats in the Senate, the process is set to take 13.5 hours or more.

Supreme Court Chief Ricardo Lewandowski announced Tuesday morning that the final vote on whether or not to impeach Rousseff will take place on Wednesday, one day behind the initially projected schedule. A two-thirds majority, or 54 out of 81 Senators, is required to lock in the impeachment and permanently remove Rousseff, suspended to face the trial in May. Fifty-two lawmakers have already pledged to vote in favour of her ouster, just two votes shy of the threshold.

Rousseff gave her final statements to the Senate Monday in a marathon 14-hour session beginning with her 30 minute final testimony, followed by day-long questioning. Commentators have pointed out that Rousseff’s testimony is unlikely to sway the outcome in the Senate, but her final words will go down in history a pivotal moment in Brazilian politics.

The suspended president reiterated her innocence in the face of baseless accusations that she used budgetary tricks ahead of her 2014 re-election to make the government books look better than they were, a practice used by many of her predecessors without scrutiny. She also slammed the process as a coup that threatens the “death of democracy” and singled out top rivals behind the impeachment bid for being involved in massive corruption scandals.

Many have argued that if Rousseff is booted from office, Temer should also be removed instead of finishing out the term until 2018. The “interim” head of state faces major corruption charges, has been banned from running for public office for eight years, and would also carry the burden of accountability for any charges levelled against Rousseff given that he was her vice president under a now-defunct coalition between their two political parties.

Social movements have vowed to continue to protest Temer’s government if it is installed permanently, highlighting the threat the neoliberal administration poses to social programs and the rights of marginalized groups with a political agenda that Brazilians have repeatedly voted down in the polls for years.


Related Topics:

BRICS Under Attack: Brazilian PM Must Say Goodbye to BRICS and Hello to Washington or Face a Coup*

El Salvador an other Countries Refuse to Recognize New Government In Brazil*

Brazil Explodes in Fight against Temer Coup Government*

First Interview with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff Since the Senate’s Impeachment Vote*

Brazil’s Coup Government Select an Israeli for President of Brazil’s Central Bank*

Brazilian Police Fire Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets at Anti-Temer Protesters*

Brazil Revolts as Michel Temer Forces Austerity, U.S. Dirty Tricks Exposed*

Brazil Prosecutor Requests Arrest of Pro-impeachment Leaders

Brazil’s Elite Ban Audio Recordings to Stem Leaks*

Brazil’s Coup President Michel Temer to Lift Ban on Foreign Ownership of Land*

Court Rules in Favour of Brazilians Protest Against Temer inside Olympic Venues*

Massive Protests Erupt Around Brazil as Impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff Looms*

Germans “Lose Faith in Banks”, Rush To Buy Safes*

Germans “Lose Faith in Banks”, Rush To Buy Safes*

By Tyler Durden

It is no secret that one of the most admirable qualities of the German public – in addition to its striking propensity for thrift in the aftermath of Weimar – is its stoic patience and pragmatism when dealing with adversity. However, over the past month, we grew increasingly confident that said patience would be tested, if only when it comes to matters of monetary trust vis-a-vis the local, neighborhood bank. First it was the news that Raiffeisen Gmund am Tegernsee, a German cooperative savings bank in the Bavarian village of Gmund am Tegernsee, with a population 5,767, finally gave in to the ECB’s monetary repression, and announced it’ll start charging retail customers to hold their cash. Then, just last week, Deutsche Bank’s CEO came about as close to shouting fire in a crowded negative rate theater, when, in a Handelsblatt Op-Ed, he warned of “fatal consequences” for savers in Germany and Europe – to be sure, being the CEO of the world’s most systemically risky bank did not help his cause.

Thies Hartmann, managing director of the Hamburger Stahltresor store in Hamburg

That was the last straw, and having been patient long enough, the German public has started to move. According to the WSJ, German savers are leaving the “security of savings banks” for what many now consider an even safer place to park their cash: home safes.

Indeed, as even the WSJ now admits, for years,

“Germans kept socking money away in savings accounts despite plunging interest rates. Savers deemed the accounts secure, and they still offered easy cash access. But recently, many have lost faith.” We wondered how many “fatal” warnings from the CEO of DB it would take, before this shift would finally take place. As it turns out, one was enough.

To be sure, the Germans are merely catching up to where the Japanese were over half a year ago. As we wrote in February,

“look no further than Japan’s hardware stores for a worrying new sign that consumers are hoarding cash–the opposite of what the Bank of Japan had hoped when it recently introduced negative interest rates. Signs are emerging of higher demand for safes—a place where the interest rate on cash is always zero, no matter what the central bank does.

“In response to negative interest rates, there are elderly people who’re thinking of keeping their money under a mattress,” one saleswoman at a Shimachu store in eastern Tokyo told The Journal, which also says at least one model costing $700 is sold out and won’t be available again for a month.

Japan safes

“According to the BOJ theory, they should have moved their funds into riskier but higher-earning assets. Instead, they moved into pure cash that earned nothing,” Richard Katz, author of The Oriental Economist newsletter wrote this month

 Now it’s Germany’s turn.

“It doesn’t pay to keep money in the bank, and on top of that you’re being taxed on it,” said Uwe Wiese, an 82-year-old pensioner who recently bought a home safe to stash roughly €53,000 ($59,344), including part of his company pension that he took as a payout.

Interest rates’ plunge into negative territory is now accelerating demand for impregnable metal boxes.

Burg-Waechter KG, Germany’s biggest safe manufacturer, posted a 25% jump in sales of home safes in the first half of this year compared with the year earlier, said sales chief Dietmar Schake, citing “significantly higher demand for safes by private individuals, mainly in Germany.”

Burg-Waechter KG, Germany’s biggest safe manufacturer, posted a 25% jump in sales of home safes in the first half of this year compared with the year earlier, said sales chief Dietmar Schake, citing “significantly higher demand for safes by private individuals, mainly in Germany.”

Rivals Format Tresorbau GmbH and Hartmann Tresore AG also report double-digit-percentage German sales increases. “Safe manufacturers are operating near their limits,” said Thies Hartmann, managing director of Hamburger Stahltresor GmbH, a family-owned safe retailer in Hamburg, which he says has grown 25% since 2014. He said deliveries take longer from safe makers, some of which are running three production shifts.

The biggest irony in all of this, as we first pointed out last October, is the epic mistake that central bankers did by unleashing negative rates: instead of forcing savers to spend, it has – at least in the case of Japan and Germany – forced them to not only pull their cash out of the bank, thereby further slowing the velocity of money, but to save even more, forcing central bankers to come up with even more unprecedented “solutions” to a problem of their own creation.

As the WSJ adds, in a country where few people buy stocks, the possibility of having to pay fees on deposits has turned savers’ world—and their piggy banks—upside down.

“The moment the bank tells me I have to pay interest on my deposit I’ll take my €50,000 or whatever it is and put it under my pillow, or buy a safe and stick the money inside,” said Dagmar Metzger, a 53-year-old entrepreneur in Munich.

Alas, with every passing day, that moment gets ever closer.

Meanwhile, for those who can’t find or afford a safe, there are other options. Ms. Metzger, a game hunter, said she would also consider squirreling cash away in her gun cabinet, which has solid locks. Paying to save is “preposterous,” said Marlene Marek, 58, owner of a Frankfurt bistro.

“I would rather withdraw my money and stash it at home, or keep it in a safe-deposit box at a bank.”

She is not the only one – many Germans have a similar idea, which has led to safes selling out, and creating waiting lists for safe-deposit boxes in some big cities as a growing number of Germans prefer self-sufficiency. “When you put money in a safe-deposit box, everyone notices, and you’re paying fees,” said Mr. Wiese, the Hamburg retiree, who said his new safe is roughly twice the size of a hotel safe.

And while one could blame retail savers for being conspiracy theorist nuts, in Germany it is the very biggest corporations who have been, throughout 2016, rebelling against the ECB’s idiotic policies. Indeed, banks and other financial institutions themselves are also keeping more cash. As we reported earlier in the year, reinsurance giant Munich Re AG said earlier this year it would cache over €20 million in cash in a safe, alongside gold bars the company stockpiled two years ago.

“We are testing that and are happy that this works without any glitches and at reasonable costs,” said Chief Financial Officer Jörg Schneider. The reinsurer said it would consider augmenting its cash stash.

Finally, in what may be the pinnacle fo practicality over stupidity, Germans are particularly focused on safes because they prefer cash to plastic. “Only cash is real,” goes an old saying.

Well, yes, until it is confiscated as sad Harvard economists have been urging in recent months.

Unlike their more “hip” Scandinavian peers, roughly 80% of German retail transactions are in cash, almost double the 46% rate of cash use in the U.S., according to a 2014 Bundesbank survey. Germans also keep more cash in their wallets and visit ATMs more often, withdrawing on average $256 at a time , the study found. Americans withdraw $103 on average.

Germany’s love of cash is driven largely by its anonymity. One legacy of the Nazis and East Germany’s Stasi secret police is a fear of government snooping, and many Germans are spooked by proposals of banning cash transactions that exceed €5,000. Many Germans think the ECB’s plan to phase out the €500 bill is only the beginning of getting rid of cash altogether.

And they are absolutely right; we can only wish more Americans showed the same foresight as the ordinary German.

Meanwhile, the WSJ concludes, Ms. Metzger is a member of an activist group demanding the existence of cash be guaranteed in Germany’s constitution.

“I don’t want to become completely transparent,” she says.”I don’t want everyone to know whether I buy chocolate, strawberries or mangoes at the store.”

Alas, if “erudite” Harvard economists like Larry Summers and, now, David Rogoff  get their way, Ms. Metzger’s, and everyone else’s, worst nightmare will soon come true.

Until that moment, however, as a final reminder, in a fractional reserve banking system, only the first ten or so percent of those who “run” to the bank to obtain possession of their physical cash and park it in the safe will succeed. Everyone else, our condolences.


Related Topics:

Western Megabanks Are Now Stealing Depositors’ Money*

NWO: France Clamping Down on Cash in the Name of Terror*

Cash Banned in Louisianna*

The “War on Cash” Migrates to Switzerland*

Why Central Banks HATE Cash and Will Begin to Tax It Shortly*

Ban Cash to Help Central Banks stinks of Total Control – NWO’s Cashless Society*

Bank of Ireland Bans “Small” Cash Withdrawals*

The Global ‘War on Cash’: A Country by Country Guide*

A New Digital Cash System was Just Unveiled at a Secret Meeting for Bankers In New York*

The Secretive Bank of England — Controlling the World’s Money Supply*

Police Now Illegally Seize More Money than the Criminals*

Rothschild Billion Dollar Money Laundering Plot in Africa*

No TTIP Deal This Year between the E.U. and U.S. this Year*

No TTIP Deal This Year between the E.U. and U.S. this Year*

There will be no deal this year between the E.U. and U.S. on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), says French President Francois Hollande. Several French and German ministers echoed the statement, citing U.S. unwillingness to compromise.

“The negotiations are bogged down, positions have not been respected, it’s clearly unbalanced,” Hollande said in a speech to French ambassadors.

According to the French president, there will not be any agreement on TTIP  “by the end of the year.”

Earlier, Minister of State for Foreign Trade Matthias Fekl told French media that the current TTIP talks should be halted and new ones should begin.

“There is no more political support in France for these negotiations,” and “France calls for an end to these negotiations,” Fekl told RMC radio.

One of the problems of the deal lies in the U.S. attitude towards the negotiations, he said.

 “The Americans give nothing or just crumbs… That is not how negotiations are done between allies,” Fekl said.

“We need a clear and definitive halt to these negotiations in order to restart on a good foundation.”

France “demands a halt to TAFTA [Transatlantic Free Trade Area] and TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership],” he tweeted.

Fekl said that France will raise the case at a meeting of E.U. foreign trade ministers in Bratislava, Slovakia, in September.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier added that U.S. and E.U. still are “far away” and have work to do on the standards of the deal.

According to German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the unwillingness of Washington to compromise in fact halted the deal.

“I believe that the Americans have actively ended TTIP. I don’t see any willingness to compromise with the Europeans,” Gabriel said.

On Sunday, Gabriel admitted that TTIP negotiations had essentially failed.

“In my opinion the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it,” the minister told ZDF broadcaster.

“[They] have failed because we Europeans did not want to subject ourselves to American demands.”

The deal still has backing in some quarters, however, with a number of E.U. officials speaking out in support of it.

Italian Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda believes that the TTIP talks must continue.

“TTIP will be sealed. It is inevitable,” he said in an interview with Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“We have to carry on. This accord is essential for Italy.”

In the meantime, a spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told Der Spiegel newspaper that the talks “are in fact making steady progress.”

Washington has been insisting that the free trade deal be signed before the end of 2016, but it has encountered strong opposition from a number of European nations.

The TTIP is a E.U.-U.S. free trade treaty project that was dubbed as controversial the moment it was proposed three years ago and has been criticized for its secretiveness and lack of accountability ever since.

The proposed deal aims at promoting trade and multilateral economic growth by creating the world’s largest free-trade zone. Backers say it will help small businesses opening up markets and making customs processes easier, while trade tariffs on products would be reduced.

But critics of TTIP fear big corporations will be the only ones to profit from the deal, with corporate interest coming even ahead of national interest.

According to the director of the group Global Justice Now, Nick Dearden, the TTIP

is a very dangerous trade deal which is less about trade and more about big business taking control over our regulations.”

“There is so much pressure on both sides of the Atlantic,” he told RT,

“The negotiating teams… are trying to make it look like they are meeting the will of the people and also doing what the deal was all about – handing big chunks of our democracy to the rule of big business.”


Related Topics:

Obama Puts Congress on Notice about TPP*

TTIP: Big business and U.S. to have Major Role in E.U. Trade Deals*

White House Resorts to Blackmail Over GMOs in NWOs TTIP Trade Negotiations*

Belgian Town Exits TTIP Before It Starts*

TTIP Controversy: European Commission and Big Tobacco Cover-up*

Negotiations Falter as Europe Balks at TTIP*

Japan to Lift Duties Vegetables, Most Fishery Products under TPP*