"Hi I was wondering if it would be possible for you guys to help spread the word about something. A riverside area of London known has ‘the Southbank’ is home to a disused space or ‘undercroft’ which is well used & loved as skateboarding space.

There is never a time where it isn’t full of people hanging out and making use of it. The Southbank Centre is a group of ‘arts’ centers that want to destroy this community-loved-space in order for refurbishments e.g. probably more high rent retail units or restaurants even though  there are already plenty in this space.

They want to destroy a genuine piece of culture & heritage within the local community for the sake of commercializing the area even more. There has already been a petition against this but right now one of the biggest steps we can take is to object the official planning permission request by the Southbank center.”

Submitted by http://flowersdotcom.tumblr.com

Additional resource:

Community space free of rampant exploitation that doesn’t revolve around some commercial, corporate, capitalist exchange, and gives increasingly poor young people a place to spend their time, is important.

Eurozone unemployment hits new high with a quarter of under-25s jobless; overall unemployment now at staggering 12.2%
June 2, 2013

Protesters who picketed the European Central Bank on Friday are planning a second day of action across European cities as anger grows over austerity measures that many blame for taking Eurozone unemployment to an all-time high.

In rain and strong winds, members of the Blockupy movement cut off access to the ECB’s Frankfurt headquarters and vowed to keep up the disruption on Saturday in a financial hub they describe as a seat of “dictated austerity”. Their action came as official figures showed eurozone unemployment hit a new high last month with young people again the hardest hit – almost one in four are now out of work.

Unemployment in the crisis-stricken currency bloc rose to 12.2% for April, according to Eurostat, the statistics office of the EU. At 24.4%, youth unemployment was double the wider jobless rate and up from 24.3% in March. The problem was most extreme in Greece where almost two-thirds of those under-25 are unemployed. The rate was 62.5% in February, the most recently available data.

The numbers come days after eurozone leaders unveiled plans to get more young people into work as they faced warnings about the risks of civil unrest, long-term economic costs and fears that a generation could lose faith in the European project.

In Frankfurt Blockupy protesters blamed the troika of institutions it says is pushing austerity measures on southern Europe: the ECB, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and perhaps most importantly, capitalism. Blockupy’s Roland Süss said: “With the blockade of the ECB we are making the European resistance against the devastating poverty policy visible. It’s an expression of our solidarity with the people in southern Europe whose existence is threatened by the austerity programs.”

Blockupy, a European version of the Occupy Wall Street movement, put the number of activists blocking the ECB at 3,000. There was a more conservative estimate of between 1,000 and 1,500 from police, who used pepper spray to prevent the protesters breaking into the central bank’s high-rise building. Protesters also targeted Deutsche Bank’s headquarters and Frankfurt’s airport. The movement and other anti-austerity groups are threatening rallies throughout European cities on Saturday, including London.

While France and Germany responded to growing anger at youth unemployment this week with a new jobs plan, labor market experts warn that any measures will take time to turn the tide after 24 consecutive monthly rises in the jobless level. Economists say things will get worse before they get better for the 19.4 million people in the eurozone out of work.

In the wider EU area unemployment stood at 11%, as the rate rose in all but nine countries compared with a year earlier. The biggest rises in overall joblessness on a year ago were in Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. Youth unemployment in Spain is 56.4%, in Portugal 42.5%. Italy recorded its highest overall unemployment rate since records began in 1977, at 12%, with youth joblessness at 40.5%. Economists said that the rise in unemployment was fairly broad-based with rises in so-called core countries as well, including Belgium and the Netherlands. The rate in France was 11%.

Ireland recorded one of the biggest falls in unemployment, down to 13.5% from 14.9% a year ago. That compares with a rate of 7.7% for the UK, where youth unemployment is 20.2%.

Source

Update: Today, the clashes sparked by this outrageous reality continued in Frankfurt, Germany with thousands on the streets. See video here.

#Occupy Capitalism

Women’s rights protesters disrupt opening of a giant pink dollhouse in Berlin on Thursday; the Barbie “Dreamhouse Experience” objectifies women
May 17, 2013

Promoting the doll made by Mattel Inc, the house allows paying visitors to try on Barbie’s clothes, play in her kitchen and have a go on her pink piano. The exhibition will be open until August 25.

A handful of protesters gathered outside the shocking pink house that has been erected in one of central Berlin’s greyest areas.

A topless woman, a member of the Femen protest group, who had the slogan “Life in plastic is not fantastic” scrawled across her chest, set fire to a Barbie doll tied to a mini crucifix.

"There’s too much emphasis on becoming more beautiful and on being pretty and that puts an awful lot of pressure on girls as well as wasting capacities which they could use to simply be happy or for school," said Stevie Meriel Schmiedel, a founding member of the "Pink Stinks" protest group.

"We’re protesting because Barbie would not be able to survive with her figure and yet she is an idol for many girls and that’s not healthy," she said.

One placard read: “Dear Barbie - don’t just bake cupcakes, eat them too!”

A male protester in a wig, pink shirt and shimmering skirt held a poster reading: “Do you like me now?”

Source

Greek workers walk out to protest ban on teachers’ strike
May 14, 2013

Greek public sector workers walked off the job on Tuesday to protest against a government decision to ban a strike by high-school teachers, shutting down several schools and reducing staff at hospitals to a minimum. Invoking emergency legislation, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has threatened teachers with arrest and dismissal if they go ahead with a planned walkout on Friday that would disrupt university entrance exams, as he tries to show Greece’s foreign lenders that Athens is sticking to unpopular reforms.

The action on Tuesday was the latest in a string of anti-austerity strikes since 2010, when Greece adopted severe budget and wage cut measures as part of its international bailout. The turnout was not near someone of the movement’s larger demonstrations; turnout in demonstrations last year topped 100,000 at times. But activists insist that they are committed to fighting for humanity.

"Our message, that we fully condemn these policies, was sent, despite the low turnout," ADEDY’s general secretary Ilias Iliopoulos told Reuters. "The government must make up its mind and show that it does care about students and teachers.

The conservative-led coalition wants teachers to put in two more hours of work each week to reach the average levels of high school teachers’ working hours in Europe, and transfer 4,000 of them to remote parts of Greece to plug staffing gaps.

These measures would allow the government to dismiss about 10,000 part-time teachers when their temporary contracts expire, causing outraged unions & citizens alike to call for the 24-hour strike on Friday and rolling strikes next week.

The government responded by invoking a law that allows it to mobilize workers in the case of civil disorder or natural disasters.

ADEDY had disagreed with the high school teachers’ decision to hold a strike on the first day of exams because it would inconvenience students. However, it opposed the government using emergency laws to pre-emptively ban the action, saying this was undemocratic and violated workers’ constitutional rights. ADEDY and GSEE, Greece’s largest private sector union, are also planning a four-hour work stoppage on Thursday.

More than 1,000 high-school teachers marched to parliament late on Monday, holding banners reading: “No to the civil mobilization and this terror!” and “It won’t pass”.

GSEE and ADEDY represent more than half of Greece’s workforce, which has been shrinking rapidly during the crippling recession after years of austerity. As unemployment grows, unions may not yield as strong of turn outs as they have when they had higher membership, but the increasingly impoverished people of Greece will not tolerate limitless government oppression.

Source

This is the reality of austerity: Greek children are starvingApril 22, 2013
Force-feeding Greece with budget cuts and tax increases gets a predictable, and tragic, results.
It’s not fair to blame Rogoff and Reinhart for the austerity craze that has gripped Europe. It is fair to say that their presentation of flawed data about the last half-century of growth and debt was used as intellectual ammunition in a total war on deficits that has destroyed families across the continent.
In Greece, the fog of austerity is more than a metaphor. This winter, a very real cloud of smoke haunted the city at night, as families burned felled trees and broken chairs to stay warm. While the economy has shrunk by a fifth and youth unemployment has screamed past 50 percent, the real tragedy can’t really be told with numbers. It’s simple, really. Children are starving.
The New York Times reports the heart-breaking details:
"He had eaten almost nothing at home," Mr. Nikas said, sitting in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a working-class suburb of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skittered across the playground. He confronted Pantelis’s parents, who were ashamed and embarrassed but admitted that they had not been able to find work for months. Their savings were gone, and they were living on rations of pasta and ketchup.
The euro was supposed to tie Europe together as a single unified economic powerhouse. When Greek children go malnourished while unemployment falls in Germany, you can see very clearly that unity is just another European myth. In the United States, we have an answer for weak state economies. It’s called Mississippi. They get a permanent “bail out” through an annual transfer of money: tax credits, Medicaid spending, infrastructure assistance, and so on. In Europe, the answer for failing state economies is: You get this bag of money if you take the following measures to destroy your economy.
You don’t need to know how to fact-check Harvard economists to understand a simple truth: Force-feeding austerity to a country starving for money and growth will only get you more starvation.
Source

This is the reality of austerity: Greek children are starving
April 22, 2013

Force-feeding Greece with budget cuts and tax increases gets a predictable, and tragic, results.

It’s not fair to blame Rogoff and Reinhart for the austerity craze that has gripped Europe. It is fair to say that their presentation of flawed data about the last half-century of growth and debt was used as intellectual ammunition in a total war on deficits that has destroyed families across the continent.

In Greece, the fog of austerity is more than a metaphor. This winter, a very real cloud of smoke haunted the city at night, as families burned felled trees and broken chairs to stay warm. While the economy has shrunk by a fifth and youth unemployment has screamed past 50 percent, the real tragedy can’t really be told with numbers. It’s simple, really. Children are starving.

The New York Times reports the heart-breaking details:

"He had eaten almost nothing at home," Mr. Nikas said, sitting in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a working-class suburb of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skittered across the playground. He confronted Pantelis’s parents, who were ashamed and embarrassed but admitted that they had not been able to find work for months. Their savings were gone, and they were living on rations of pasta and ketchup.

The euro was supposed to tie Europe together as a single unified economic powerhouse. When Greek children go malnourished while unemployment falls in Germany, you can see very clearly that unity is just another European myth. In the United States, we have an answer for weak state economies. It’s called Mississippi. They get a permanent “bail out” through an annual transfer of money: tax credits, Medicaid spending, infrastructure assistance, and so on. In Europe, the answer for failing state economies is: You get this bag of money if you take the following measures to destroy your economy.

You don’t need to know how to fact-check Harvard economists to understand a simple truth: Force-feeding austerity to a country starving for money and growth will only get you more starvation.

Source

A Facebook friend of mine sent me this video and asked for my thoughts
April 16, 2013

My response was so long, I thought it a waste not to post here. Response starts below:

Well, you may not have known what you were getting yourself into when you asked for my thoughts cos I have a whole essay’s worth of thoughts – lol!:

On our financial system: our financial system for sure doesn’t make any sense – it is unstable and crisis is built into our capitalist system. Among other problems, competition & unsustainable growth are built into the system – there is no way our system can continue for very long without serious reforms or absolute fundamental change (which is really what needs to happen). Competition is great, but the problem with competition is that somebody eventually wins. And when they do, power & money & the ability to accumulate more of both concentrates in the hands of a few, driving the disparity, subverting regulation, and eventually leading to economic disaster.

I can imagine a few alternatives & solutions to this problem and I have in-mind what I believe would be the most possible/likely-to-succeed/least-bloody solution, but ultimately, I’ll jump on board to pretty much anything that answers the problems created by our capitalist system if it becomes popular enough & has strong enough of a possibility of success & doesn’t involve hurting lots of other people.

On RussiaToday as a news source: RussiaToday, like all large news providers (save for Democracy Now, if you want to count that), is biased toward the agenda of the powers they are beholden to. For us in the United States, that’s the corrupt corporate interests that govern our system.

For RussiaToday, that’s Russian state interests. They use real information & real facts, but often frame them in misleading or hyperbolic ways. Amidst major crises, they report facts early and incorrectly often. They feature U.S. stories predominately featuring violence, brutality, and crisis in the U.S. They intentionally try and foster negative feelings about the U.S. and give extensive coverage to news relevant both to the American left and to libertarian/Ron-Paul people – the two largest ‘dissident’ communities in the U.S. That’s their U.S. audience – people who could cause problems for U.S. state interests.

As part of that community, it’s a great & powerful resource. Lots of good information covered extensively about police brutality & our military-industrial-complex that doesn’t get that kind of coverage otherwise. At the same time, when they cite statistics or post stories about how the U.S. government is finally coming ‘for your guns’, I kind of just roll my eyes and tune them out and wait to see if I see it reported on DemocracyNow or TruthOut or SocialistWorker or AlJazeera (which has it’s own problems). So… I find them to be a good source for conglomerated news stories that a ‘dissident’ or a leftist might be interested in, but it’s always important to me, when reading RussiaToday, that I find other sources to confirm what is being reported.

Recommended related sources:

Sorry for the really long response!

-Robert

Bank of Cyprus to cut 30% off deposits over €100,000
March 25, 2013

Depositors in the Bank of Cyprus, the biggest bank on the island, will reportedly lose 30 percent on their holdings above 100,000 euros, the chairman of the Cypriot parliamentary finance committee said on Monday.

"I haven’t heard a formal announcement about the haircut, but this is the figure I heard," Irish radio quotes Nicholas Papadopoulos as saying.

At dawn on Monday, Cyprus and the troika of international backers reached agreement on a €10bn bailout plan, aimed at preventing the bankruptcy of the island’s financial system and the country’s exit from the Eurozone. Under the plan the depositors in Bank of Cyprus will be compensated with equity in the bank, while Laiki Bank, which is the island’s second largest financial institution, will be closed down.

Those with deposits under 100,000 euros in both banks will continue to enjoy the protection of the state’s guarantees, after an earlier proposal to impose a 6.75% tax on them provoked anger.

Banks are due to reopen on Tuesday, however, withdrawal limits will be imposed to avoid a run of capital.

Source

Thousands of Slovenians protested against corruption and the political elite in the center of Ljubljana on Saturday, demanding a snap election after the conservative government of Janez Jansa was ousted last week.
March 10, 2013

Slovenia is struggling to avoid an international bailout, and parliament last week nominated budget expert Alenka Bratusek of the centre-left Positive Slovenia to form a new government.

Jansa’s coalition was brought down in part by street protests of a kind not seen since Slovenian independence in 1991, driven by spending cuts and allegations of government corruption.

Saturday’s march, whose organisers put participation at 10,000 and police at 5,000, was comparable with some of the largest so far, despite being held in pouring rain.

"We are not right and we are not left but we are the people who are sick of you," said a banner held by one protesters in the capital of the small Alpine state.

"The incoming government has the same structure, the same principles as the old one, so we need a new election and we have to vote out the parties that are in parliament at present," said 56-year old Gorazd Mlekuz, who works in transport.

"We need to create jobs for the young. My son, who is a historian, was an excellent student but there is no job for him. He works as a volunteer now and he was lucky to get even that."

A new recession

Slovenia, which adopted the euro in 2007, was badly hit by the global financial crisis due to its dependency on exports, and fell into a new recession last year amid lower export demand and a drop in domestic spending caused by budget cuts.

Slovenia is also struggling to cope with a rising number of bad loans on the books of its banks, which are mostly state-owned. The last straw for Jansa was a corruption scandal in which he was implicated, although he denies wrongdoing.

Bratusek has until Thursday to nominate her cabinet, which should take office this month if confirmed by parliament.

She has promised to call a confidence vote next year to enable parties to trigger an early election if they are dissatisfied with her government.

In October, Slovenia did manage to issue its first sovereign bond in 19 months, pushing back a bailout until at least until June. It hopes to borrow up to 4.6 billion euros this year to repay outstanding debt, finance its budget needs and help the ailing banks, which need fresh capital.

"I’m protesting because life in Slovenia is getting worse, there is more and more poverty and people are not equal," said a 21-year-old social science student who gave her name as Maja.

"The government scrapped my scholarship last year so I can only get by with the help of my parents, but I am worried that even an early election might not bring any improvement."

Several hundred people have been arrested in similar protests across Slovenia in recent months, but no incidents were reported on Saturday.

Source

"SMRT KAPITALIZMU" sign means "DEATH TO CAPITALISM"

Thousands march in Portugal to protest austerity
March 3, 2013

"If the government pays attention to what is happening and understands that the people are against them, they should get out," said Serafin Lobato, 65. "If not, this won’t stop."

Portugal is expected to endure a third straight year of recession in 2013, with a 2 percent contraction. The overall jobless rate has grown to a record 17.6 percent.

The marches were powered mostly by young people. Unemployment among people under 25 is close to 40 percent.

The country’s largest trade union, the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers, with some 600,000 members, also supported the marches and swelled numbers.

After several years of tax increases and welfare cuts, austerity is poised to deepen as the government looks for another €4 billion ($5.2 billion) to cut over the next two years, with the national health service, education, pensioners and government workers likely to be the hardest hit.

"There is no future without education, there is no future without culture," said student Ana Julia, 23. "We have to protest to get back what they are trying to take away from us."

The government is locked into debt-cutting measures in return for the €78 billion ($102 billion) financial rescue set up in 2011. More tax hikes this year sliced another chunk off wages.

Source

Swiss voters have overwhelmingly backed proposals to impose some of the world’s strictest controls on executive-payMarch 3, 2013
Nearly 68% of the voters supported plans to give shareholders a veto on compensation and ban big payouts for new and departing managers.
Business groups argued the proposals would damage Swiss competitiveness.
But analysts say ordinary Swiss are concerned about a growing economic divide in the country.
The vote came just days after the EU approved measures to cap bankers bonuses.
'Fat cat initiative'
The final results showed that all 26 Swiss cantons backed the proposals.
In all, 1.6 million voters said “Yes” against 762,000, who rejected the idea.
The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes, in Berne, says multibillion dollar losses by Swiss banking giant UBS, and thousands of redundancies at pharmaceutical company Novartis, have caused anger in Switzerland - because high salaries and bonuses for managers continued unchanged.
The new measures will give Switzerland some of the world’s strictest rules on corporations.
Shareholders will have a veto over salaries, golden handshakes will be forbidden, and managers of companies who flout the rules could face prison.
The “fat cat initiative”, as it has been called, will be written into the Swiss constitution and apply to all Swiss companies listed on Switzerland’s stock exchange.
Support for the plans - brain child of Swiss businessman turned politician Thomas Minder - has been fuelled by a series of perceived disasters for major Swiss companies, coupled with salaries and bonuses staying high.
Our correspondent says the main example is banking giant UBS, which wrote off billions in the wake of the 2007 sub-prime mortgage crisis, and then had to be bailed out by the Swiss government.
A further incident came in February when it was announced that the outgoing chairman Novartis’, Daniel Vasella, would be receiving a 72m Swiss francs (£51m; $78m) “non-compete” pay off over six years, designed to stop him working for other related industries.
The payment was later scrapped, but it provoked anger and amazement in Switzerland, because his salary had been regarded as too high and the firm had been cutting jobs, our correspondent adds.
One of the organisers of the referendum, Brigitte Moser Harder, told the BBC she thought the Swiss people agreed with the proposals because the gap between rich and poor had become wider.
"From the beginning, 2006, we had the support of the people of Switzerland because you know not everybody in Switzerland is rich.
"It’s also a social problem because the high wages got higher and the small ones sometimes just got lower. I think people have the support of the Swiss people because of that."
Meanwhile, under an EU deal agreed last week by the bloc’s 27 nations, bonuses will be capped at a year’s salary, but can rise to two year’s pay if there is explicit approval from shareholders.
The UK argued the EU bonus rules would drive away talent and restrict growth in the financial sector.
Source

Swiss voters have overwhelmingly backed proposals to impose some of the world’s strictest controls on executive-pay
March 3, 2013

Nearly 68% of the voters supported plans to give shareholders a veto on compensation and ban big payouts for new and departing managers.

Business groups argued the proposals would damage Swiss competitiveness.

But analysts say ordinary Swiss are concerned about a growing economic divide in the country.

The vote came just days after the EU approved measures to cap bankers bonuses.

'Fat cat initiative'

The final results showed that all 26 Swiss cantons backed the proposals.

In all, 1.6 million voters said “Yes” against 762,000, who rejected the idea.

The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes, in Berne, says multibillion dollar losses by Swiss banking giant UBS, and thousands of redundancies at pharmaceutical company Novartis, have caused anger in Switzerland - because high salaries and bonuses for managers continued unchanged.

The new measures will give Switzerland some of the world’s strictest rules on corporations.

Shareholders will have a veto over salaries, golden handshakes will be forbidden, and managers of companies who flout the rules could face prison.

The “fat cat initiative”, as it has been called, will be written into the Swiss constitution and apply to all Swiss companies listed on Switzerland’s stock exchange.

Support for the plans - brain child of Swiss businessman turned politician Thomas Minder - has been fuelled by a series of perceived disasters for major Swiss companies, coupled with salaries and bonuses staying high.

Our correspondent says the main example is banking giant UBS, which wrote off billions in the wake of the 2007 sub-prime mortgage crisis, and then had to be bailed out by the Swiss government.

A further incident came in February when it was announced that the outgoing chairman Novartis’, Daniel Vasella, would be receiving a 72m Swiss francs (£51m; $78m) “non-compete” pay off over six years, designed to stop him working for other related industries.

The payment was later scrapped, but it provoked anger and amazement in Switzerland, because his salary had been regarded as too high and the firm had been cutting jobs, our correspondent adds.

One of the organisers of the referendum, Brigitte Moser Harder, told the BBC she thought the Swiss people agreed with the proposals because the gap between rich and poor had become wider.

"From the beginning, 2006, we had the support of the people of Switzerland because you know not everybody in Switzerland is rich.

"It’s also a social problem because the high wages got higher and the small ones sometimes just got lower. I think people have the support of the Swiss people because of that."

Meanwhile, under an EU deal agreed last week by the bloc’s 27 nations, bonuses will be capped at a year’s salary, but can rise to two year’s pay if there is explicit approval from shareholders.

The UK argued the EU bonus rules would drive away talent and restrict growth in the financial sector.

Source

Outraged about poverty & corruption, 50,000 demonstrate in Varna - tens of thousands more across dozens of cities in Bulgaria
March 3, 2013

Tens of thousands of Bulgarians furious over poverty and corruption protested in more than a dozen cities on Sunday, as a lack of clear support for any political party mired the country in limbo days after the government was toppled.

Prime Minister Boiko Borisov quit along with his centre-right government on Wednesday after two weeks of sometimes violent protests. He remains in office until an interim government is appointed, most likely next week, which will take Bulgaria to elections due on May 12.

However Bulgarians are still struggling to unite behind a single political leader or give voice to a clear set of demands.

Polls suggest neither Borisov’s rightist GERB party nor the opposition Socialist Party has enough support for an overall majority, and whichever wins the election will have to try to assemble a coalition to form a working government.

Thousands of people took to the streets of cities including the capital Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas, Blagoevgrad, Ruse and Sliven on Sunday - a national holiday. In the biggest rally, about 50,000 protested in the Black Sea city of Varna, local media reported.

"It is obvious that the protesters are not united and this could very quickly destroy the enthusiasm of the people," said Georgi Trendafilov, a demonstrator in Sofia downtown.

Six years after joining the European Union, Bulgaria trails far behind other members. Its justice system is subject to special monitoring and it is excluded from the passport-free Schengen zone because of other members’ concerns about graft.

The country’s public debt is one of the lowest in the bloc but business cartels, corruption and wages that are less than half the EU average, have kept many from feeling the benefit.

It also has the cheapest electricity costs in the EU but an increase in prices since last July under an energy market liberalisation has made it harder for Bulgarians to heat their homes through a cold winter.

Power Protests

The demonstrations began with a handful of youngsters protesting against high electricity bills. Eventually, hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians took to the streets, angered by their low living standards.

President Rosen Plevneliev said an interim government would aim for stability by sticking to the 2013 budget, which foresees a deficit of 1.3 percent of GDP, and implementing previous commitments such as a 9 percent increase in pensions from April.

He also said he would set up a 35-member public council to advise the interim government and re-present the people’s interests. But consultations for the establishment of the council at the presidency collapsed on Saturday.

Representatives of protesters, objecting to the inclusion of some wealthy businessmen, walked out of the talks. They said they could not “sit at the same table with those they were fighting”.

"We are going out to fight until the end, we will not negotiate with oligarchs," said Angel Slavchev, one of the leaders of the demonstrations. A trade union leader also quit, objecting to the composition of the council.

Earlier this week, Borisov, described as “a lone player” by analysts, dismissed the idea of a governing national unity coalition and said such a move could benefit nationalist parties such as far-right Attack.

Support for Borisov’s rightist GERB party has fallen over the last year, and it is now neck-and-neck with the opposition Socialist Party.

Just before resigning, Borisov had proposed to cut electricity prices by 8 percent and alarmed investors by saying the government would revoke the distribution licence of the Czech utility CEZ, risking a diplomatic row with the Czech Republic and EU.

The energy regulator proposed a smaller, 6.4 percent cut on Friday, a few days after CEZ and the other two distributors, Austria’s EVN and the Czech firm Energo-Pro, said they had done nothing wrong.

Source

Possibility of empowered left amid populist upswing in Italian elections
February 25, 2013

Italians voted for a second and final day in a general election on Monday with a surge in protest votes increasing the risk of an unstable outcome that could undermine Europe’s efforts to end its three-year debt crisis.

Opinion polls give the centre-left coalition led by former Industry Minister Pier Luigi Bersani a narrow lead but the race has been thrown wide open by the prospect of protest votes against austerity and corporate and political scandals.

"I’m sick of the scandals and the stealing," said Paolo Gentile, a 49-year-old Rome lawyer who said he had voted for the 5-Star Movement, an anti-establishment protest group set to make a huge impact at its first general election.

"We need some young, new people in parliament, not the old parties that are totally discredited," he said.

Most of the voters interviewed outside polling stations by Reuters on Sunday and Monday expected the next government would quickly collapse, thwarting efforts to end an economic crisis.

"I’m very pessimistic, I don’t think that whoever wins will last long or be able to solve the problems of this country," said Cristiano Reale, a 43 year-old salesman in Palermo, Sicily. He said he would vote for the far left Civil Revolution group.

A bitter campaign, fought largely over economic issues, has been closely watched by financial markets, nervous about the return of the kind of debt crisis that took the whole euro zone close to disaster and brought technocrat prime minister Mario Monti to office in 2011.

ANTI-EURO FORCES

"There are similarities between the Italian elections and last year’s ones in Greece, in that pro-euro parties are losing ground in favor of populist forces,” said Mizuho chief economist Riccardo Barbieri.

"An angry and confused public opinion does not see the benefits of fiscal austerity and does not trust established political parties."

(TPR NOTE: That’s because the only people who benefit from austerity are the rich. It’s one more way the rich are able to siphen money from the poor, creating wide-spread poverty and chaos, while collecting marginally higher numbers for themselves, which will never have an effect on their quality of life because they are already so rich that it doesn’t matter.)

Projections based on the vote count will be issued through the afternoon and the final result should be known late on Monday or early Tuesday.

An extremely close Senate race is expected in several battleground regions and this could delay the final result..

The election result is likely to be the most fragmented in decades, with the old left-right division disrupted by the rise of 5-Star, led by fiery Genoese comic Beppe Grillo, and by Monti’s decision to run at the head of a centrist bloc.

"It will be a vote of protest, maybe of revolt," said Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest newspaper, on Monday.

It noted that for the first time the winning coalition is unlikely to get more than a third of the votes, making it harder to govern and likely opening weeks of complicated negotiations.

It is unclear how Grillo’s rise will influence the result, with some pollsters saying it increases the chances of a clear win for the centre-left, led by Bersani’s Democratic Party (PD), because 5-Star is taking votes mainly from Berlusconi.

After the first day of voting on Sunday, about 54 percent of voters had cast their ballots, a sharp fall on the level of 62.5 percent seen at the same stage in the last election in 2008.

If the trend continues on Monday it will confirm the disillusion of voters with a discredited political class.

CALL TO ARMS

The 5-Star Movement, backed by a frustrated younger generation increasingly shut out of full-time jobs, could challenge former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party as Italy’s second largest political force.

"Come on, it isn’t over yet," was Monday’s front page headline in Il Giornale daily, owned by Berlusconi’s brother, a call to arms to get out the vote.

The 76-year-old Berlusconi, has pledged sweeping tax cuts and echoed Grillo’s attacks on Monti, Germany and the euro in an extraordinary media blitz that has halved the lead of the centre-left since the start of the year.

Support for Monti’s centrist coalition meanwhile has faded after he led a lackluster campaign and he appears set to trail well behind the main parties.

After drawing hundreds of thousands of supporters to its final campaign rally on Friday, Grillo has said he fears voting fraud to try to block a massive breakthrough, telling his supporters to wet the lead in the pencils they use to vote to prevent the crosses being rubbed out.

Whatever government emerges will inherit an economy that has been stagnant for much of the past two decades and problems ranging from record youth unemployment to a dysfunctional justice system and a bloated public sector.

If Bersani wins, it is far from clear that he will be able to control both houses of parliament and form a stable government capable of lasting a full five-year term.

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The insufferable human drama of evictions in SpainDecember 14, 2012
With 500 families being evicted in Spain every day, foreclosures have become a source of great suffering. But luckily, there are still those who resist.
Throughout this crisis, there has always been a certain alienating quality to the pronouncements of European leaders and technocrats. Sometimes one is led to wonder if these people are actually talking about the same continent — or the same universe, for that matter. Just today, for instance, the European Central Bank announced that “the eurozone is starting to heal.” Indeed, the major weakness the central bankers could detect from the commanding heights of their glass-and-steel tower in downtown Frankfurt was “falling bank profits.”
But this morning, huddled together with activists and independent journalists in a small apartment in Madrid, the eurozone seemed to be far from healing. Together with Santiago Carrión from the Associated Whistleblowing Press, we were there because the Platform for those Affected by their Mortgage (PAH), which runs the Stop Desahucios (Stop Evictions) campaign, had called on the city’s indignados to protect Juana Madrid and her two daughters of 21 and 17, who were about to be evicted from their humble home in the poor neighborhood of Orcasur. The atmosphere, of course, was tense.
The living room was full of people, most of them photographers, while outside the first chants of activists could be heard as people prepared to physically block the entrance to the apartment. Nervously dragging on her cigarette, Juana’s baggy and dark-ringed eyes said it all: this was a woman on the verge of a breakdown. Her voice was calm and subdued, but her facial expression exuded despair. “We have nowhere to go,” Juana’s 21-year-old daughter Isa told us in the kitchen. “If they evict us today we will end up on the street tonight.”
Sadly, the story of Juana and her daughters is by no means an exception. Ever since the start of the crisis in late 2008, over 350.000 families have been evicted from their homes. According to government figures, Spain currently faces a staggering wave of 500 evictions per day — 150 of them in Madrid alone. The vast majority of these involve families whose main breadwinner lost his or her job in the recession and who have inadvertently fallen behind on their mortgage payments to the bank. At 25.02%, Spain’s unemployment rate is the highest in the developed world, higher even than in the U.S. at the peak of the Great Depression.
Recent months have seen a wave of high-profile suicides by people who were about to be evicted from their homes. The most paradigmatic case was that of a 53-year-old woman in the Basque Country, who jumped from her balcony and plunged to death as foreclosure agents made their way up the stairs of her apartment. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, tells the harrowing story of a Spanish locksmith who was taken aback when he pried open the door of a foreclosed apartment for police, and encountered a woman giving birth inside. According to the locksmith, it was “evident that the stress of the foreclosure had induced premature birth.”
Since then, a number of high judges have spoken out against the “inhumane” foreclosure laws in Spain, which they consider to be “overly protective of the politically influential banks”. Under immense media pressure, the conservative government finally passed an emergency law allowing the most vulnerable families to be spared from eviction. Still, the new law will only cover some 120.000 people and does not tackle the root of the problem, which is the fact that the government keeps squeezing workers, students, homeowners, pensioners and the sick and disabled in order to pay for the folly of a tiny elite of gambling bankers.
The human tragedy, after all, is only part of the story. The other part, as the Spanish indignados rightly point out, is the estafa: the fraud. Many of the mortgages that now shackle millions of families to unpayable debt loads, came about under highly dubious circumstances to begin with. The banks never cared if people would be able to repay their debts: as long as house prices kept rising, a defaulting family could still be evicted and replaced by another. After the bank reclaimed the property, it could just re-sell it at a profit. The fact that lives are being destroyed and families shattered in the process is wholly irrelevant for the financial imperatives of the bank.
And thus, the people end up paying the banks triple: first through the usurious interest rates they pay on their mortgage loans (which are essentially conjured up out of thin air by the banks); second through the tax-payer-funded bailouts of the same banks, after many of these mortgages started going bad; and third through the homes they are losing and which subsequently fall back into the property of the bank, which can — a few years down the line, when real estate prices will have recovered somewhat — sell on the property to a third party.
Full article

The insufferable human drama of evictions in Spain
December 14, 2012

With 500 families being evicted in Spain every day, foreclosures have become a source of great suffering. But luckily, there are still those who resist.

Throughout this crisis, there has always been a certain alienating quality to the pronouncements of European leaders and technocrats. Sometimes one is led to wonder if these people are actually talking about the same continent — or the same universe, for that matter. Just today, for instance, the European Central Bank announced that “the eurozone is starting to heal.” Indeed, the major weakness the central bankers could detect from the commanding heights of their glass-and-steel tower in downtown Frankfurt was “falling bank profits.”

But this morning, huddled together with activists and independent journalists in a small apartment in Madrid, the eurozone seemed to be far from healing. Together with Santiago Carrión from the Associated Whistleblowing Press, we were there because the Platform for those Affected by their Mortgage (PAH), which runs the Stop Desahucios (Stop Evictions) campaign, had called on the city’s indignados to protect Juana Madrid and her two daughters of 21 and 17, who were about to be evicted from their humble home in the poor neighborhood of Orcasur. The atmosphere, of course, was tense.

The living room was full of people, most of them photographers, while outside the first chants of activists could be heard as people prepared to physically block the entrance to the apartment. Nervously dragging on her cigarette, Juana’s baggy and dark-ringed eyes said it all: this was a woman on the verge of a breakdown. Her voice was calm and subdued, but her facial expression exuded despair. “We have nowhere to go,” Juana’s 21-year-old daughter Isa told us in the kitchen. “If they evict us today we will end up on the street tonight.”

Sadly, the story of Juana and her daughters is by no means an exception. Ever since the start of the crisis in late 2008, over 350.000 families have been evicted from their homes. According to government figures, Spain currently faces a staggering wave of 500 evictions per day — 150 of them in Madrid alone. The vast majority of these involve families whose main breadwinner lost his or her job in the recession and who have inadvertently fallen behind on their mortgage payments to the bank. At 25.02%, Spain’s unemployment rate is the highest in the developed world, higher even than in the U.S. at the peak of the Great Depression.

Recent months have seen a wave of high-profile suicides by people who were about to be evicted from their homes. The most paradigmatic case was that of a 53-year-old woman in the Basque Country, who jumped from her balcony and plunged to death as foreclosure agents made their way up the stairs of her apartment. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, tells the harrowing story of a Spanish locksmith who was taken aback when he pried open the door of a foreclosed apartment for police, and encountered a woman giving birth inside. According to the locksmith, it was “evident that the stress of the foreclosure had induced premature birth.”

Since then, a number of high judges have spoken out against the “inhumane” foreclosure laws in Spain, which they consider to be “overly protective of the politically influential banks”. Under immense media pressure, the conservative government finally passed an emergency law allowing the most vulnerable families to be spared from eviction. Still, the new law will only cover some 120.000 people and does not tackle the root of the problem, which is the fact that the government keeps squeezing workers, students, homeowners, pensioners and the sick and disabled in order to pay for the folly of a tiny elite of gambling bankers.

The human tragedy, after all, is only part of the story. The other part, as the Spanish indignados rightly point out, is the estafa: the fraud. Many of the mortgages that now shackle millions of families to unpayable debt loads, came about under highly dubious circumstances to begin with. The banks never cared if people would be able to repay their debts: as long as house prices kept rising, a defaulting family could still be evicted and replaced by another. After the bank reclaimed the property, it could just re-sell it at a profit. The fact that lives are being destroyed and families shattered in the process is wholly irrelevant for the financial imperatives of the bank.

And thus, the people end up paying the banks triple: first through the usurious interest rates they pay on their mortgage loans (which are essentially conjured up out of thin air by the banks); second through the tax-payer-funded bailouts of the same banks, after many of these mortgages started going bad; and third through the homes they are losing and which subsequently fall back into the property of the bank, which can — a few years down the line, when real estate prices will have recovered somewhat — sell on the property to a third party.

Full article

The People’s Record Daily News Update - Whose news? Our news!

November 15, 2012 

Here are some stories you may not otherwise read about today:

  • The hacktivist group Anonymous has expressed anger at Israel, saying that Israel has crossed a line in the sand by threatening to destroy access to the internet and other telecommunications in Gaza. Anonymous’ online statement warned the Israeli government: “Like all the other evil governments that have faced our rage, you will not survive it unscathed.”

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Portuguese doctors go on strike over budget cuts

July 11, 2012

According to Portuguese health ministry, the strike which began on Wednesday will lead to the cancellation of 400,000 appointments and nearly 4,500 operations.

“We have no doubt that the strike will be a resounding success and that the protest will assemble thousands of white coats,” said Mario Jorge Neves, head of the National Federation of Doctors.

The strike over government’s plan to reduce health spending as part of deep budget cuts to meet the terms of a multi-billion euro bailout deal went ahead after Portuguese unions rejected offer of negotiation from the country’s Health Minister Paulo Maceo.

Protesters say that Lisbon has decreased overtime in hospitals, increased prices for prescription medication and shut down certain services in order to meet cuts from health budget.

Portugal is the third country to succumb to financial troubles in the eurozone debt crisis and seek funding assistance after Greece and Ireland. The country received an EU-International Monetary Fund aid package in exchange for a commitment to impose austerity measures and reform its economy.

Europe plunged into deep financial crisis in 2008. The crisis has continued to intensify in recent months.

The worsening eurozone debt crisis has forced EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, triggering incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.

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