Europe, Canada and US,

Greek protesters defied the pleading of their prime minister in a televised address to the nation to accept austerity measures to allow a massive loan and “debt swap” plan by the IMF and EU to stave off bankruptcy. The measures approved by parliament involve slashing the minimum wage by up to one-third, deregulating the labour market to make it easier to lay off workers, and cutting pensions.

In a scene worthy of “Battle of the Damned” gas-mask clad protesters left 40 buildings in Athens in flames as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, wounding hundreds. Greece’s 99 per cent have little or nothing to lose in a “structurally readjusted” country, leaving them at the forefront in the growing battle in the West to wrest the torch of democracy from politicians, both left and right, in thrall to their behind-the-scene corporate-banking masters.

As Canada continues to pour troops and money into American wars and intrigues in the Muslim world, the media focusses on so-called honour killings, notes Eric Walberg

Afghan immigrants Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Mahommad Yahya and their 21-year-old son Hamed were found guilty in a Canadian court Sunday of first degree murder in the 2009 “honor killing” deaths of four female family members, and sentenced to life imprisonment. These were not poor, uneducated people, but upstanding members of Canada's economic elite. The enterprising Mohammad escaped to Pakistan as “free Afghanistan” descended into civil war in 1992, before emigrating to Australia and Dubai, where he made his fortune in its hot real estate scene, finally settling in Canada in 2007.


The eviction of demonstrators last week is an ominous metaphor for ruling elites, whose own days are surely numbered, ponders Eric Walberg

Is a constitutional amendment or a real third-party candidate the silver bullet that Americans need next year, asks Eric Walberg

American voters now have a clear view of who they can vote for next year, with Barack Obama as the Democrats' certain candidate and Mitt Romney as the Republicans'. Both candidates offer much the same prescriptions for the multiple crises facing their country -- more war and military spending, lower taxes (certainly no big hike for the rich), more bank bailouts, trickle-down economics for the unemployed and the disintegrating environment.

In the lifestyle sweepstakes, the answer is “none of the above”, concludes Eric Walberg

The economic and social experiments in the past three decades by British governments from left to right have left the plucky Brits reeling, as this summer's unprecedented bread and ipod riots showed all too conclusively. For a year now, fiscal austerity and financial chaos have sent Britain’s economy into a nasty cycle of low growth and rising unemployment.

But unlike Greece, which was forced into recession by misguided EU taskmasters, Britain has inflicted this on itself. Austerity was a deliberate choice by Prime Minister David Cameron’s ruling coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Britain’s jobless numbers are the highest in more than 15 years, with unemployment 8.1 per cent, as the government continues to slash public-sector jobs -- more than 100,000 have been lost in recent months.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here