Tag Archives: Greece

Confiscation of bank deposits: Can it happen in America?

Cyprus rally
Three days ago, on Saturday, March 16, 2013, the people of Cyprus were told by the grand poobahs of the eurozone that as much as 10% of the deposits in their personal bank accounts would be “levied” confiscated, in exchange for a $13 billion (€10 billion) bail-out of their heavily indebted country to avoid default and a banking collapse.
Cyprus is a small island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to the east of Greece, and a member of the European Union (EU). The eurozone is an economic and monetary union of 17 EU member states that have adopted the euro (€) as their common currency and sole legal tender.
The 10% levy figure is now undergoing furious negotiations. Most likely, Cyprus and the eurozone will settle on a “progressive” levy, wherein small savers will be spared or “levied” a small percentage, while those with 6-figures or more bank deposits will have a larger percentage of their money confiscated. Whatever the confiscation formula, what the eurozone wants is that Cyprus raise €5.8 billion to secure its bailout.
Although the Cypriot parliament must vote to approve the eurozone’s levy — and the latest news is that Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades thinks parliament will reject the bill — that the levy was proposed at all is stunning. As the Financial Times‘ Wolfgang Münchau puts it: “the eurozone has effectively defaulted on a deposit insurance guarantee for bank deposits” given in 2008 after the collapse of Lehman Brothers to assure depositers “that all savings are safe.”
Analysts including Münchau, Phoenix Capital Research, and ZeroHedge’s Tyler Durden all expect that there will be bank runs, not just in Cyprus but elsewhere in Europe, especially in financially-troubled heavily-indebted countries like Italy and Spain. (Interestingly, Greece isn’t mentioned, perhaps because Greeks have no more money to even do a bank run.)
As Durden puts it: “the bottom line is that the Rubicon has been crossed, and deposits have now been forcefully confiscated in what Europe promises to be a standalone case. What is certain, is that nobody will wait to find out how long it takes before Europe’s class of increasingly more desperate and ill-meaning despots is found to have lied once more (as it has about everything else since the start of the European crisis).”
To prevent bank runs, Cypriot banks will remain closed till this Thursday. Customers can still use their banks’ ATMs but, as in the United States, they are limited as to how much money they can withdraw from the machines — reportedly, up to €500 a day. And as of yesterday, there have been no reports of bank runs in Spain or Italy.

Cyprus ATMPeople lining up to withdraw money from ATMS at the Bank of Cyprus, March 19, 2013. (Photo from Reuters)

How might the Great Cyprus Bank Robbery of 2013 affect Americans?

1. If you have a bank account in Cyprus, your deposits may be “levied” at a percentage depending on how much you have in your account(s).
2. If the levy is approved by Cyprus’ parliament, Americans will contribute toward the $13 billion bailout of Cyprus, thereby adding to our already gargatuan $16+ trillion national debt. Why? Because International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde already said she would ask the IMF board in Washington to contribute to the bailout.
With 16.2% of the IMF shares, the United States is the largest shareholder or contributor among the 187 nations who belong to the fund—even though its managing director has always been a European. In addition to America’s 16.2% “share” (i.e., “contribution”) in the IMF, in 2009, Obama proposed and Congress approved a $100 billion U.S. loan to the IMF.
Even before Cyprus, the IMF has joined with the European Union to sculpt bailout packages for Greece, Ireland, and Portugal.  Coupled with loans from the EU, the price tags on the bailout packages came to $157 billion for Greece, $122 billion for Ireland, and most recently, $116 billion for Portugal. Alarmed about this, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R.-Wash.), the premier congressional foe of spending U.S. tax dollars on IMF bailouts, points out that “The Portugal bailout is half that country’s GDP—$116 billion out of $233 billion. The IMF has refused to provide a reliable number but, given America’s contribution to the bailout, we estimate that our support of the package is equal to writing a check worth $600 for every man, woman, and child in Portugal.” She added that this ratio “was nearly identical for Greece and Ireland bailouts. (See John Gizzi, “Why Is the U.S. Bankrolling IMF’s Bailouts in Europe?,” Human Events, May 2, 2011.)
3. If bank runs occur in Europe, leading to a systemic collapse of European banks and the euro currency, that in turn will trigger a worldwide financial-economic crisis of an unimaginable scale.
4. Can it happen here? Will we wake up one day to be told that our bank deposits are also confiscated? Tyler Durden of ZeroHedge writes that the key thing about what happened to Cyprus is that “the Rubicon has been crossed,” that is, the until-now taboo subject of the forceful “levy” of citizens’ private bank accounts has been broached. As Durden puts it: “the topic of ‘wealth taxation’ is now front and center, and it stars not only Europe, but the US as well. The question then becomes … is there any possibility of Cyprus ‘wealth tax’ recurring on the other side of the Atlantic.”
Durden points out that in the US, other financial assets, namely the stock market, account for a far greater proportion of household net worth than bank deposits. It is therefore quite possible that instead of confiscating our bank deposits, thereby voiding the FDIC guarantee, the government may instead choose to tax 30% of all of your stock holdings, and achieve the same “wealth transfer” result.

Will Congress do this?
Obviously, nobody can answer that question now. However, it was “absolutely certain” as recently as three days ago that the safety of Cypriots’ bank deposits was protected.
Then things changed rapidly.
What is the lesson we should take away from the Great Cyprus Bank Robbery?
Answer: There are no longer any rules, and any assets, any “wealth” saved, stored, and hidden is now fair game.
See also:

Update: Cyprus parliament rejected the levy.
~Eowyn

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Unelected Eurozone ministers to confiscate 10% of bank deposits in Cyprus

cyprus
This is sheer insanity and very very frightening.
Cyprus is a small island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to the east of Greece. At 3,572 sq. mi. and an estimated population of a little over 1 million in 2011, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and a member of the European Union (EU) and the eurozone.
The eurozone is an economic and monetary union of 17 EU member states that have adopted the euro (€) as their common currency and sole legal tender. The eurozone currently consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. Most other EU states are obliged to join once they meet the criteria to do so. No state has left and there are no provisions to do so or to be expelled.
The eurozone is represented politically by its finance ministers, known collectively as the Euro Group, and is presided over by a president, currently Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
Like its neighbor Greece, Cyprus is heavily in debt and is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
In return for bailing out Cyprus to the tune of $13 billion, the eurozone finance ministers masters want a percentage of the money in Cyprus’ privately-owned bank accounts!
Michele Kambas reports for Reuters, Mar 17, 2013, that the decision, announced yesterday morning, stunned Cypriots and caused a run on cash points, most of which were depleted within hours. Electronic transfers were stopped.
The originally proposed levies on deposits are 9.9% for bank deposits of more than 100,000 euros (US $130,348 at the current exchange rate) and 6.7% on anything below that. Today, the Cypriot government discussed with lenders the possibility of softening the impact on smaller savers by changing the levy to 3% for deposits below 100,000 euros, and to 12.5% for above that sum, a source close to the consultations told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Whatever the percentage, the proposed levy is expected to raise almost 6 billion euros and has the “blessing” of a troika of lenders from the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank.
But the levy requires the approval of the Cyprus parliament, where no party has a majority. Originally scheduled for today, the parliamentary vote on the measure was postponed for a day until tomorrow, March 18, to give more time for consultations and broker a deal. If parliament fails to approve the levy, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades warns, the island’s two largest banks will collapse, including the Cyprus Popular Bank, which could have its emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) funding from the European Central Bank cut by March 21. A default in Cyprus could unravel investor confidence in the eurozone, undoing the improvements fostered by the European Central Bank’s promise last year to do whatever it takes to shore up the currency bloc.
In a televised address to the nation today, Anastasiades said he had to accept the tax in return for international aid, or else the island would have faced bankruptcy: “The solution we concluded upon is not what we wanted, but is the least painful under the circumstances.”
Elected only three weeks ago, Anastasiades said savers will be compensated by shares in banks guaranteed by future natural gas revenues. Cyprus is expecting the results of an offshore appraisal drilling this year to confirm the island is sitting on vast amounts of natural gas worth billions.

The crisis is unprecedented in the history of the Mediterranean island, which suffered a war and ethnic split in 1974 in which a quarter of its population was internally displaced. With a gross domestic product of barely 0.2% of the euro bloc, Cyprus had applied for financial aid last June, but negotiations were stalled by the complexity of the deal and the reluctance of the island’s previous president to sign.
Making bank depositors bear some of the costs of a bailout had been taboo in Europe, but eurozone officials said it was the only way to salvage Cyprus’s financial sector and promised that the levy would not set a precedent. In Spain, one of four other states getting euro zone help and seen as a possible candidate for a sovereign rescue, officials were quick to say Cyprus was a unique case. A Bank of Spain spokesman said there had been no sign of deposit flight.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she backed the deal and would ask the IMF board in Washington to contribute to the bailout.
According to a draft copy of legislation, if a bank account holder in Cyprus fails to pay the levy, it would be a criminal offense liable to three years in jail or a 50,000 euro ($65,174) fine.
Those affected will include not just Cypriots but also foreigners who have bank deposits in the island. One of the foreigners is Chris Drake, a former Middle East correspondent for the BBC who lives in Cyprus. He told Reuters, “I’m furious. There were plenty of opportunities to take our money out; we didn’t because we were promised it was a red line which would not be crossed. I’ve lost several thousand.”
British finance minister George Osborne told the BBC on Sunday that Britain would compensate its 3,500 military personnel based in Cyprus.
Many Cypriots, having contributed to bailouts for Ireland, Portugal and Greece – Greece’s second bailout contributed to a debt restructuring that blew the 4.5 billion euro hole in Cyprus’s banking sector – are aghast at their treatment by Europe. As an example, the daily Phileleftheros said Cyprus received a “stab in the back” from its EU partners.
At the same time, however, Phileleftheros and other newspapers also maintain a failure by the parliament to approve will inflict further damage on the banking system. So Cyprus is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.
See my also follow-up posts:

~Eowyn

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Why Eurozone's Fiscal Crisis Should Concern You


For several weeks now, the government leaders of West Europe grappled with what to do as, beginning with Greece, country after country approaches insolvency, buried under mountains of debt.  But Americans seem oblivious, with half of the U.S. population going on a giddy buying spree on Black Friday after Thanksgiving, in stubborn denial of the European fiscal meteor that can and will impact the United States.
One after another, alarm bells are sounded.
The Economist says on Nov. 26, 2011:

A euro break-up would cause a global bust worse even than the one in 2008-09. The world’s most financially integrated region would be ripped apart by defaults, bank failures and the imposition of capital controls (see article). […] The survival of the EU itself would be in doubt.[…]

The panic engulfing Europe’s banks is no less alarming. Their access to wholesale funding markets has dried up, and the interbank market is increasingly stressed, as banks refuse to lend to each other. Firms are pulling deposits from peripheral countries’ banks. This backdoor run is forcing banks to sell assets and squeeze lending; the credit crunch could be deeper than the one Europe suffered after Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Add the ever greater fiscal austerity being imposed across Europe and a collapse in business and consumer confidence, and there is little doubt that the euro zone will see a deep recession in 2012—with a fall in output of perhaps as much as 2%. That will lead to a vicious feedback loop in which recession widens budget deficits, swells government debts and feeds popular opposition to austerity and reform. Fear of the consequences will then drive investors even faster towards the exits.”

Agustino Fontevecchia writes in Forbes, Nov. 28, 2011, that the Eurozone crisis is spreading to the private sector:

“The European situation continues to deteriorate and has now spread even to Germany, the eurozone’s economic engine, as evidenced by a failed bond auction last week.  As sovereign debt markets deteriorates, the risk of a credit crunch looms, raising the stakes for policymakers and the private sector alike.”

Wolfgang Münchau warns in the Financial Times, Nov. 27, 2011, that the Eurozone has only days to avoid a collapse:

“With the spectacular flop of the German bond auction and the alarming rise in short-term rates in Spain and Italy, the government bond market across the eurozone has ceased to function. The banking sector, too, is broken. Important parts of the eurozone economy are cut off from credit. The eurozone is now subject to a run by global investors, and a quiet bank run among its citizens.”

As a matter of fact, quiet or not, there was a bank run in the Baltic country of Latvia on September 24, 2011.
The event that triggered the bank run was the arrest of two former shareholders of Bankas Snoras AB, for embezzlement, document forgery, accounting fraud and abuse of authority. Kinda like what New Jersey’s former Democratic governor and senator Jon Corzine did as CEO of MF Global.
In Latvia, the arrests precipitated a bank run. The Latvian government stepped in. Depositors could withdraw only 50 lati (about $95) a day, as the government moved to liquidate the bank.

Indeed, Europe’s banking sector is broken.
More than a month ago, on September 21, 2011, just when European banks and their regulators were trying to reassure investors and customers that lenders have enough capital to withstand a default by Greece and slowing economic growth caused by governments’ austerity measures, Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market, abandoned those banks.
Lloyd’s pulled deposits from European banks because of concerns that European governments may be unable to support lenders in a worsening debt crisis. As Lloyd’s finance director Luke Savage explained,

“There are a lot of banks who, because of the uncertainty around Europe, the market has stopped using to place deposits with. If you’re worried the government itself might be at risk, then you’re certainly worried the banks could be taken down with them.”

I didn’t know about that, did you? I only learnt of what Lloyd’s of London did, two days ago. Some news media we have in the United States!
And if you think what happens in the Eurozone doesn’t affect us, think again.
Already, the Eurozone debt and banking crisis has led to the 8th biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history — that of the giant financial derivatives broker MF Global. The brokerage had used its clients’ funds to invest in European government bonds. But the investments went bust and MF Global went bankrupt, taking hundreds of millions of its clients’ dollars with it.
Who knows how many other U.S. brokerages, banks, and credit unions have invested in European government bonds?
Meanwhile, we in the United States have our own humongous national debt to worry about. The news today is that Fitch, the credit-ratings company, just downgraded its outlook for the United States to “negative.”

Update (Nov. 29, 2011):

Fox Business reports that yesterday, Standard & Poor’s cut its credit ratings (from A to A-) for many of the world’s largest banks, including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Morgan Stanley.
The move follows S&P’s shift, announced earlier this month, in the methods it uses for rating the banks. Dozens of other banks were also affected by S&P’s new criteria and many of the downgrades stemmed from the affected banks’ exposure to the European debt crisis. S&P cited weaker confidence in governments’ ability to bail out struggling banks.
~Eowyn

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Are the Olympic Games Sustainable?

This article, written by an economist in 2005, anticipated the sorry state of the Greek economy in 2011.  I can’t help wondering what role the cost of hosting the 2004 Olympics played in their economic disaster.  The full article is available by clicking the title below.   ~LTG

ECONOMIC IMPACT OF OLYMPIC GAMES RARELY ADDS UP TO MUCH GOLD


When Athens won the right to host the 2004 Games in 1997, its budget was $1.6 billion. The final public cost is estimated to be around $9 billion — over five times the original budget. Meanwhile, most of Athens’ Olympics facilities today are reportedly underutilized.
The Games are touted to bring in tens of thousands of tourists, and, if things go according to the hype, to keep them coming into the indefinite future. Here, too, the evidence isn’t rosy.
Olympic participants and visitors often chase others away. In late 2004, Athens tourism officials were talking about a 10 percent drop in tourist visitors to Greece in 2004.
Greece’s Olympic Dream has Turned into a Nightmare for Village Residents
“It was a hugely wasted opportunity and one that sticks in the throat of many people. We are left with installations that are rotting away because we don’t even have the money to maintain them. A lot of entrepreneurs and property developers got rich very quickly,” said Ms Sakorafa.
Now an independent MP, the 54 year-old who once held the javelin world record is leading calls for a national debt audit. “How can we begin to think about measures to repay our debt when we don’t know where the overspend came from and who is accountable for it?” she asked.
Back in the Olympic Village residents are asking the same thing.
“Someone has to pay for the mistakes, but why should it be us?” Said Mrs Deligianni. “I thought we were buying into paradise but instead we are trapped in hell.

Resource Link:  The Impact of the Summer Olympics on its Host City: The Costs Outweigh the Tangible Benefits

 

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Americans in Deep Denial about Worsening Economy


I woke up at 3 am to this news:

U.S. stocks post worst weekly decline in nearly three years

Other headlines scream:

Back in April, the IMF declared that by the year 2016, in just 5 years, the U.S. of A. will be supplanted by China as the world’s leading economic power, which means that whoever is elected as POTUS next November will preside over the sunset of America.
But, as Mark Steyn notes in his op/ed of Sept 23, Americans are oddly complacent about all this although the net meaning of these headlines is nothing less than the end of the world as we’ve known it. As he puts it:

“But there’s not a lot of sense of America’s looming date with destiny in these presidential debates. […] On Thursday night, there was a question on gays in the military but none on the accelerating European debt crisis. […] the curious complacency about the bigger questions is disturbing.

Greece is reported to be within weeks if not days of default. […] Greece is insolvent, and given its rapidly aging population (100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren) is unlikely to be non-insolvent under any conceivable scenario, no matter how tightly German taxpayers are squeezed to pay for it. By the same measure, so are many other western nations.

On the other hand, attempting to postpone the Club Med welfare junkies’ rendezvous with self-extinction will destabilize internal German politics […] and strain to breaking point what’s left of the European banking system.

As its own contribution to the end of the world as we know it, the Obama administration has just released a document called “Living Within Our Means And Investing In The Future: The President’s Plan For Economic Growth And Deficit Reduction.” […] Veronique de Rugy pointed out at National Review that under this plan debt held by the public will grow from just over $10 trillion to $17.7 trillion by 2021.

In other words, the president’s definition of “Living Within Our Means” is to burn through the equivalent of the entire German, French and British economies in new debt between now and the end of the decade.

If this is the best America can do, there won’t be a 2022, not for the United States, or anything that would be recognizable as such. Like REM says, it’s the end of the world as we know it. And, as their split suggests, they no longer feel fine. And nor should you.”

~Eowyn

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Black "Flash Mobs" the Beginning of Race War in America?

Violent riots are breaking out across the globe.

Britain

In the UK, 16,000 police officers flooded the streets of London on the night of August 9, 2011, after the previous night’s mayhem in which Metropolitan Police use armored vehicles to push back 150 rioters in Lavender Hill, Clapham; 20,800 citizens made 999 emergency calls (a 400% increase); and Birmingham Children’s Hospital staff were forced to barricade themselves in against the mob outside trying to break in. Government estimates that the cost of clean-up will run into ‘tens of millions’.

The riots that began in London have spawned copycat riots in Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham, Liverpool and Leeds. Prime Minister Cameron’s conservative government is under fire for spending cuts to social programs in order to help reduce the country’s debt. Among those hit the hardest are large numbers of minority youths who have been at the forefront of the unrest.

Burnt out buildings in London's Croydon are doused down after a night of rioting

Chile

In Chile, on the night of August 9, 2011, masked demonstrators capped more than 2 months of unrest over public education funding by burning cars and looting shops in the capital Santiago. The protesters were met with force as Chilean police cracked down on further unrest over state education. At least 273 protesters had been arrested across the country, and 23 police officers were injured in the clashes.

Students hurl rocks and Molotov cocktails at an armoured police van in Valparaiso, Chile

Israel

Some 250,000 people took to the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel, Aug. 6, over the rising cost of living. Demonstrations actually began last month when a few people set up tents in an expensive part of Tel Aviv to protest rising property prices. The protests have moved to other cities in Israel, where some 50,000 people rallied.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a series of reforms including freeing up land for construction and offering tax breaks. But the reforms have only increased anger in the streets, according to reports.
Israel’s demonstrations are decidedly socialist in character. Here are some of the demands from protestors, according to Reuters:

  • Increase personal tax brackets for top earners
  • Enshrine the right to housing in the law; introduce rent controls; boost mortgage relief
  • Stop further privatization of things such as health facilities
  • Provide free education for all from the age of three months
  • Raise the minimum wage to 50 percent of the average wage

Spain, Greece, Portugal

All three have experienced protests and rioting in reaction to government austerity programs and bad economic conditions.
In late June, riots broke out in Athens and other parts of Greece as the bankrupt country’s parliament voted to approve severe cutbacks in government spending in order to receive more bailout money from the International Monetary Fund and European Union—or run the risk of defaulting on their debts. Dozens were hurt and businesses destroyed as police battled rioters with tear gas and night sticks.
In Spain, thousands of people turned out in late May to protest the country’s 21% unemployment rate and against government corruption and austerity measures to rein in the country’s debt. Hundreds of people set up tents in a Madrid square and spent a week there in protest.
Portugal saw massive strikes and protests last March in response to government spending cuts. At least 200,000 people gathered in Lisbon.
Demonstrations and riots also broke out in the Philippines, China, and Syria (see here).

The riots in the UK are about not just the economy, but also about race.

Katherine Birbalsingh, a teacher who exposed the failures of the UK’s comprehensive school system, writes in The Telegraph:

“No one would say the unsayable, that the rioters were…on the whole, black. Then, finally, Toby Young’s Telegraph blog post on the riots was published. Is Toby Young the only  journalist out there who will dare say that these riots are about race?”

Toby Young wrote that “What’s so depressing about [the] outbreak of public disorder is that it indicates that little or no progress has been made when it comes to relations between the police and the local African-Caribbean population, particularly the local youths.”

United States of America

Here in the good ol’ U. S. of A, incidents of black flash mobs engaged in robbery (“flash robs“) and violence are on the rise, the worst being the one in Wisconsin on the night of August 4, 2011.
At around 11:10 p.m., a mob of “hundreds” of black teens ran amuck at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in Milwaukee. Police squads were sent to the area after reports of “mob beating,” fighting, and property damage. The mob attacked drivers in cars and pulled riders off motorcycles.
The dictionary defines “riot” as:

  1. A wild or turbulent disturbance created by a large number of people.
  2. Law A violent disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled for a common purpose.

So the truth is we’re already having riots in America. It’s just that  the police and media call them “flash mobs” instead of “riots.”
After key figures on the Left repeatedly called for a race war in America, is it any wonder that we are seeing more and more “flash mob” incidents with a decided racial overtone?
As examples, on March 25, 2010, ACORN’s CEO Bertha Lewis called for an immigration race war in America:

“Immigration is the next big battle…. We’re getting ready to be a majority, minority country…. We’ll be like South Africa. More black people than white people…. You get yourselves together, get strong, get big, and get in this battle….it’s all about money…. [T]he face of immigration needs to be a lot blacker than it is…join this immigration war. Black people, young black people…JOIN. Don’t march along side, don’t march in back, be right out front!…. That will be the battle for the kind of government that we have.”

Sometime around May 2010 at a Hispanic La Raza rally in UCLA, Ron Gochez, a history teacher at Sanchee High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District, openly called for a Mexican revolution against “capitalism,” “imperialism,” and the white man, because America is really “their” land.
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGqPo5ofk0s]
Then, there’s none other than the President of the United States himself calling for a race war.
On October 25, 2010, in a radio interview that aired on the Spanish-language television network Univision, referring to the Americans who oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants (at last count, 63% of U.S. voters), Obama called on Hispanics to “punish our enemies”. (See “Obama Foments Race War in America”)
I have a message for all you punks intent on instigating a race war in America:

The United States ranks No. 1 in the world in gun ownership, at 88.8 guns per 100 residents (2007 figure), whereas England ranks #88 at 6.2 guns per 100 residents.

Unlike the Brits, Americans are armed and ready to take on punks!

~Eowyn

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How Peaceful Is the United States?


There’s a neat website, the Institute of Economics and Peace’s Vision of Humanity, with a map of the world which gives the Global Peace Index (GPI) of countries. The lower the numerical GPI, the more peaceful the country. It’s an interactive map because you can put your cursor on any spot on the map and see the GPI of that country.
By “peace” is meant the “absence of violence.” The GPI is derived from a composite set of 5 indicators: violent crime, homicides, incarceration rates, policing, and availability of small arms.
Of the world’s 153 countries, the 10 most peaceful countries are:

  1. Iceland: 1.148 GPI score
  2. New Zealand: 1.279
  3. Japan: 1.287
  4. Denmark: 1.289
  5. Czech Republic: 1.320
  6. Austria: 1.337
  7. Finland: 1.353
  8. Canada: 1.355
  9. Norway: 1.356
  10. Slovenia: 1.358

The 10 least peaceful countries are:

  1. Somalia: 3.379
  2. Iraq: 3.296
  3. Sudan: 3.223
  4. Afghanistan: 3.212
  5. North Korea: 3.092
  6. Congo: 3.016
  7. Russia: 2.966
  8. Pakistan: 2.905
  9. Israel: 2.901
  10. Central African Republic: 2.869

Although peace in the United States has been on the increase, recording an 8% improvement since 1991, our country still ranks only in the middle of the world’s countries in peace and disorder, with a GPI rank of 82 (out of 153) and a GPI score of 2.063.
Even Greece and Egypt are judged more peaceful than the U.S.! Dspite Greece’s bankruptcy and anti-austerity riots, the country has a GPI rank of 65 and a GPI score of 1.947. And in spite of Egypt’s recent massive anti-government demonstrations, the country still scored a GPI rank of 73 and a score of 2.023.
The GPI study found that societies that are highly peaceful also perform exceptionally well in other ways. The most peaceful countries also have higher per capita income, higher levels of well-being, more freedom, perform better at sustainability, and appear to have a more equitable distribution of social spending. The study also found a positive correlation between peace and a collection of other factors — including access to basic services, education, health, and opportunity to succeed.
America’s GPI score will surely worsen, as our national debt piles up even more above the present $14+ trillion, government becomes increasingly insolvent, necessitating more cuts in spending and entitlement….
On the bright side, at least you’ll know which country to move to, if you have the means to bail out of the coming maelstrom.  [bitter laugh]
CLICK HERE for the GPI website.
~Eowyn

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Europe In Riots

Maybe it’s because the United States is a continental-size country. Whatever the reason, Americans are famously insular in our outlook, lacking interest and, often, knowledge about the rest of the world. Surveys regularly show our school children being woefully ignorant about foreign affairs and world geography.
Europe is ablaze in demonstrations and riots. Further down the road of socialism than America, the countries of west Europe are struggling with debt and insolvency (like America). Governments are undertaking much-needed austerity measures to cut spending and entitlements. In reaction, enraged Europeans are taking to the streets and clashing with police armed to the teeth in riot gear.
It’s one thing to read about the riots, it’s another to see them in action. Here are some examples. I can’t help but wonder if and when they’ll break out in the streets of urban America….
In Athens, Greece, on December 15, 2010, rioters clash with police and attack a former government minister and now an opposition MP, Kostis Hatzidakis, bloodying his nose and head:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov4M5DJyWFk&feature=player_embedded]

In France, riots against austerity measures and raising retirement age from 60 to 62, in October 2010:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGRu0vhnxXk&feature=related]
In Dublin, Ireland, students rioters clash with police, November 2010:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJcQqykGpVk&feature=related]
In London, UK, tens of thousands of students demonstrate and riot against tuition increase, November 10, 2010:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmudJafnQh0&feature=related]
In London, rioters attack the car carrying Prince Charles and his wife skank, Camilla, December 9, 2010:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lETH2eyBro0]
In Rome, Italy, rioters clash with police, December 14, 2010:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKgWwgdLgFI&feature=fvsr]
~Eowyn

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