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USuncutMN supports #occupyWallStreet, #occupyDC, the XL Pipeline resistance Yes, We, the People, are going to put democracy in all its forms up front and center. Open mic, diversity, nonviolent tactics .. Social media, economic democracy, repeal Citizen's United, single-payer healthcare, State Bank, Operation Feed the Homeless, anti-racism, homophobia, sexISM, war budgetting, lack of transparency, et al. Once we identify who we are and what we've lost, We can move forward.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

EU Remains Silent as Hungary Veers Off Course

You may think that this isn't relevant to USuncut or US Day of Rage, WHATEVER.  What this IS is a futuristic view of what will happen to the US if we are not very, very careful, folks.

Executive orders - the government taking PAC money limitlessly - the authoritarianISM of the right wingers - a total inability to say "NO!" to lack of social justice - financial institutions and financiers more important than society's CHILDREN - endemic racISM and sexISM - crazy theology  - lack of respect for the earth and propensity for EVIL (humans hurting other humans and other living things = evil) are the toxic recipe already in place.  Oh! and people not wanting to be accountable for THEMSELVES in terms of guaranteeing DEMOCRACY and human rights leads inevitability to FASCISM.  It ain't "the apathy" of the MurKan public that is to blame - that's just a side effect of the koolaid being drunk daily.

This article made me cry. - Virginia

he Goulash Archipelago

EU Remains Silent as Hungary Veers Off Course

By Walter Mayr
Photo Gallery
Photos
Bela Doka/ DER SPIEGEL
 
Part 2: A Purging of Editors in Hungary's Public Media

Papp is sitting in his office, surrounded by empty bookcases, on the grounds of the state television network, where he oversees more than 400 news editors. In fact, he has already let a quarter of those editors go, and more layoffs are in the offing. The new editor-in-chief has a deceptively meek expression on his face. When asked why the best journalists, particularly the most critical ones, are being let go, Papp and his press spokeswoman answer in unison: "The best ones are still here." But didn't the Orbán administration clearly delineate its expectations on what reporting should look like in the future? "That's something we must categorically reject," says the press spokeswoman. "This is a public broadcasting organization. Everyone here works to the best of his knowledge and belief."

Close to 1,000 employees of the state media organizations are to be let go by the end of the year, officially for economic reasons. They will end up jobless in a market that has already been shaken by declining advertising revenues, and by a media law that went into effect with the EU's blessing, once minor changes had been made. It offers various ways to muzzle journalists with unwelcome views.

Chipping Away at the Framework of Hungarian Democracy
 
Orbán was criticized for the details of this media law during Hungary's six-month presidency of the European Council, which lasted until the end of June. But that was the extent of the criticism. Otherwise, he was allowed to continue chipping away at the framework of Hungarian democracy. He also declared that he would ensure that Hungary, which had not allowed itself to be dictated to by Vienna in 1848 and Moscow in 1956, would not accept orders "from Brussels" now either.

All of his influential friends from the major European parties -- from European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to European Council President Herman van Rompuy, and from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- mean well when it comes to Orbán. They praise the Hungarian premier instead of chiding him. "As far as the Germans are concerned, I have not noticed any efforts that we would be forced to interpret as an intervention," Orbán said while standing next to Merkel in Berlin in May.

"It is not the Commission's job to comment daily on political developments in member states," says Tamás Szücs, a Hungarian citizen and the representative of the European Commission in Budapest. Is he at least permitted to comment on draft legislation being proposed by the Orbán government if it contradicts the EU's fundamental values or existing agreements? "Yes," says Szücs and, after hesitating for a moment, adds: "I am permitted to comment, as soon as the Commission has a position on the issue in question."

But the European Commission has no official position on Hungary at the moment. As a result, Szücs is saying nothing while American diplomats are speaking out. During a visit to Hungary in late June, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Orbán against abusing his two-thirds majority. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas O. Melia, an active supporter of Orbán's Fidesz Party two decades ago, voiced his concerns in a US congressional hearing in late July. A few days later, the US ambassador in Budapest wrote an open letter expressing her concerns about a system "that permanently favors one party."

Last Monday, prominent old-guard dissidents like writers György Konrád and György Dalos wrote an open letter to the vice-president of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, in which they protested against the Orbán administration's decision to recognize only 14 of more than 300 existing religious communities. When Szücs, the voice of the EU in Budapest, was asked whether he knew anything about the EU's response to the letter, he said: "I have no idea whether the letter arrived. As stupid as it sounds, they're on vacation in Brussels at the moment."

Government Funds Could Be Cut Off
 
Gábor Iványi, a Methodist pastor and co-signer of the letter of protest, is clearly not on vacation. He explains what the new law means for him and other religious leaders. His father once fought the Kádár communists for the Methodists' right to exist, and Iványi, a powerful man with a bushy white beard, now heads the denomination. But Iványi is also a guardian angel for the poorest of the poor in Budapest's Józsefváros district.

In this neighborhood of crumbling facades and ruined houses with bars in front of their windows, where drunks inhabit the sidewalk and park benches, even sleeping outside at night and digging through garbage cans is now illegal. To combat the new rules, Iványi runs a shelter, a hospital and a building called the "heated street," where the homeless can go to warm up. Until now, the Methodists, as a registered denomination, were entitled to government funding for these facilities. But that will end if the new law remains in force, says Iványi.

An autographed photo of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II hangs on the wall in his office, a souvenir of her 1993 state visit, when she also paid a visit to his church. The pastor finds it hard to believe that Hungary's new leaders could now rule that he is not even worthy of leading a religious community. Ironically, as Iványi says at the end of the conversation, he once officiated at current Prime Minister Orbán's wedding and baptized his first children -- in a basement apartment on Madzsar József Street in Budapest. "Viktor has changed completely, from an almost anarchistic young man to a conservative, right-wing nationalist," says Iványi.

In photos from his student days, Orbán looks like someone who, despite his small stature, has the potential to set the world on fire. Professor László Keri remembers what he called out to Orbán at the end of an argument in 1983: "You and your friends, you're just as aggressive as the sons of Lenin in the (Hungarian) Soviet Republic, like (the Hungarian Communist politician and Bolshevik revolutionary) Béla Kun. God forbid you ever become prime minister."

The professor's solemn wish did not come true. Orbán is now in his second term as prime minister, while political scientist Keri lost his professorship in September 2010. The free thinker who, almost 30 years earlier, had taken the young, rebellious Fidesz activists under his protective wing, had served his time and, at least officially, was replaced for age-related reasons.

Keri is sharply critical of his former student. "What is so worrisome is how the party and the state are merging here in Hungary. Orbán is the Hungarian version of Putin, but there is also an older parallel: to Gyula Gömbös, the prime minister who was strongly influenced by Mussolini in the 1930s." When Orbán praises the "workfare" model of social benefits in return for labor, he is "quoting the language of the 1930s verbatim."

Part 2: A Purging of Editors in Hungary's Public Media

Papp is sitting in his office, surrounded by empty bookcases, on the grounds of the state television network, where he oversees more than 400 news editors. In fact, he has already let a quarter of those editors go, and more layoffs are in the offing. The new editor-in-chief has a deceptively meek expression on his face. When asked why the best journalists, particularly the most critical ones, are being let go, Papp and his press spokeswoman answer in unison: "The best ones are still here." But didn't the Orbán administration clearly delineate its expectations on what reporting should look like in the future? "That's something we must categorically reject," says the press spokeswoman. "This is a public broadcasting organization. Everyone here works to the best of his knowledge and belief."

Close to 1,000 employees of the state media organizations are to be let go by the end of the year, officially for economic reasons. They will end up jobless in a market that has already been shaken by declining advertising revenues, and by a media law that went into effect with the EU's blessing, once minor changes had been made. It offers various ways to muzzle journalists with unwelcome views.

Chipping Away at the Framework of Hungarian Democracy
 
Orbán was criticized for the details of this media law during Hungary's six-month presidency of the European Council, which lasted until the end of June. But that was the extent of the criticism. Otherwise, he was allowed to continue chipping away at the framework of Hungarian democracy. He also declared that he would ensure that Hungary, which had not allowed itself to be dictated to by Vienna in 1848 and Moscow in 1956, would not accept orders "from Brussels" now either.

All of his influential friends from the major European parties -- from European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to European Council President Herman van Rompuy, and from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- mean well when it comes to Orbán. They praise the Hungarian premier instead of chiding him. "As far as the Germans are concerned, I have not noticed any efforts that we would be forced to interpret as an intervention," Orbán said while standing next to Merkel in Berlin in May.

"It is not the Commission's job to comment daily on political developments in member states," says Tamás Szücs, a Hungarian citizen and the representative of the European Commission in Budapest. Is he at least permitted to comment on draft legislation being proposed by the Orbán government if it contradicts the EU's fundamental values or existing agreements? "Yes," says Szücs and, after hesitating for a moment, adds: "I am permitted to comment, as soon as the Commission has a position on the issue in question."

But the European Commission has no official position on Hungary at the moment. As a result, Szücs is saying nothing while American diplomats are speaking out. During a visit to Hungary in late June, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Orbán against abusing his two-thirds majority. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas O. Melia, an active supporter of Orbán's Fidesz Party two decades ago, voiced his concerns in a US congressional hearing in late July. A few days later, the US ambassador in Budapest wrote an open letter expressing her concerns about a system "that permanently favors one party."

Last Monday, prominent old-guard dissidents like writers György Konrád and György Dalos wrote an open letter to the vice-president of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, in which they protested against the Orbán administration's decision to recognize only 14 of more than 300 existing religious communities. When Szücs, the voice of the EU in Budapest, was asked whether he knew anything about the EU's response to the letter, he said: "I have no idea whether the letter arrived. As stupid as it sounds, they're on vacation in Brussels at the moment."

Government Funds Could Be Cut Off
 
Gábor Iványi, a Methodist pastor and co-signer of the letter of protest, is clearly not on vacation. He explains what the new law means for him and other religious leaders. His father once fought the Kádár communists for the Methodists' right to exist, and Iványi, a powerful man with a bushy white beard, now heads the denomination. But Iványi is also a guardian angel for the poorest of the poor in Budapest's Józsefváros district.

In this neighborhood of crumbling facades and ruined houses with bars in front of their windows, where drunks inhabit the sidewalk and park benches, even sleeping outside at night and digging through garbage cans is now illegal. To combat the new rules, Iványi runs a shelter, a hospital and a building called the "heated street," where the homeless can go to warm up. Until now, the Methodists, as a registered denomination, were entitled to government funding for these facilities. But that will end if the new law remains in force, says Iványi.
An autographed photo of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II hangs on the wall in his office, a souvenir of her 1993 state visit, when she also paid a visit to his church. The pastor finds it hard to believe that Hungary's new leaders could now rule that he is not even worthy of leading a religious community. Ironically, as Iványi says at the end of the conversation, he once officiated at current Prime Minister Orbán's wedding and baptized his first children -- in a basement apartment on Madzsar József Street in Budapest. "Viktor has changed completely, from an almost anarchistic young man to a conservative, right-wing nationalist," says Iványi.

In photos from his student days, Orbán looks like someone who, despite his small stature, has the potential to set the world on fire. Professor László Keri remembers what he called out to Orbán at the end of an argument in 1983: "You and your friends, you're just as aggressive as the sons of Lenin in the (Hungarian) Soviet Republic, like (the Hungarian Communist politician and Bolshevik revolutionary) Béla Kun. God forbid you ever become prime minister."

The professor's solemn wish did not come true. Orbán is now in his second term as prime minister, while political scientist Keri lost his professorship in September 2010. The free thinker who, almost 30 years earlier, had taken the young, rebellious Fidesz activists under his protective wing, had served his time and, at least officially, was replaced for age-related reasons.

Keri is sharply critical of his former student. "What is so worrisome is how the party and the state are merging here in Hungary. Orbán is the Hungarian version of Putin, but there is also an older parallel: to Gyula Gömbös, the prime minister who was strongly influenced by Mussolini in the 1930s." When Orbán praises the "workfare" model of social benefits in return for labor, he is "quoting the language of the 1930s verbatim."

Part 3: 'What Is Now Taking Shape Here Is an Operetta Dictatorship'

Where is the country headed under this government? "I don't believe that Hungary is on the path to a dictatorship, although this is perhaps what Orbán would like," says the professor. "But our people tend to be somewhat relaxed, and our greatest contribution to European culture was probably the operetta. What is now taking shape here is an operetta dictatorship."

Many intellectuals and scoffers say that Orbán's plan to bring about an intellectual and moral transformation will not fare any better than all the other revolutions of the last few centuries, and that every large-scale movement tends to be deflected by the flexible nature of the Hungarian people.

'Checks and Balances Are Being Eliminated'
 
Writer and philosopher Agnes Heller has her own take on Hungary's current situation: "Under Kádár, we had communism without communists, starting in 1989 we had democracy without democrats, and for the last year we have had conservatism without conservatives. It's a reflection of the nature of the Hungarian, eternally chosen and misunderstood, sitting in his corral and unable to make up his mind, because his biggest concern is to survive in the midst of the enemies surrounding him."

Heller, 82, her mobile phone in a Mickey Mouse case dangling from a chain around her neck, was a favored student of the philosopher Georg Lukacs. She experienced the end of the war in Budapest with her mother. She emigrated to the United States in 1977 and, since her return to Budapest, which anti-Semitic hate publications have recently begun deriding as "Judapest," enriches Hungarian debates with her life experiences.
It isn't necessary to smell fascism behind every bush, says Heller. "The worst thing is that the checks and balances are being eliminated in this country, and that the rule of the yes-men has begun." In fact, she adds, now dissidents are even being treated as criminals.

The Hungarian authorities are investigating Heller and some of her philosopher friends, known as the "Heller gang," for alleged embezzlement of research funds. But Heller, sitting in her apartment high above Guttenberg Square, laughs off the accusation.

What is most troubling to Heller, who survived both the horrific regime of the Hungarian version of the Nazi Party and the communists, is the disquieting feeling that the clique now running Hungary does so without "responsibility" -- and without a sense of the "danger that violence could erupt." "Orbán is extremely sure of himself," says Heller. "It's a typical characteristic of dictators."

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