Feb 172012
 

 

* YO NO PAGO! REPORT FROM BARCELONA BY MIKIFUS

Source: Take The Square

I’m going to make a report, explaining my personal view of some of the last protests in Spain, wich I think could be really interesting in many other places.

This is the situation:

In Spain, public transport is being affected by the austerity and the companies decided to lower the salaries, fire the employees and increase the price of the service. There was no needing of anything of this, they’re just taking profit.

Also, the public transport increases every year the price, it’s normal because salaries also increase.
This year the salaries are freezed because of the crisis (only some governors increased theirs…), so the price of the transport shouldn’t increase.

Well, they did it, 12% of increasing. So fucking nice, privatization of healthcare, families on the streets, closing of public schools… Everybody is having fun.

This is the reaction:

Most of people does nothing, you know.

Well, public transport it’s not a basic need, so it’s nothing to care so much, there are worse things out there. But the ideas on how to solve it are really interesting: an increase of price has become an opportunity to use the services for free!

Based on the greek movement, we are starting one with the same name: “I don’t pay”, in spanish: “Yo no pago”. Of course Occupy/15m gives support and the movement medias are being used to collaborate.

This movement started with a massive jumping inside the metro (underground,subway I never know how to call it in english), it was a success and yesterday the did it again.

Yesterday in Madrid the metro station was sorrounded by a lot of police and 5 persons were arrested, the protesters made also an improvised demonstration.

In Barcelona was so nice, nobody did nothing to stop it, the doors were open and blocked for hours and workers or police didn’t care. Everybody could enter for free and some random people also joined the demonstration inside the midtown big station.

You’ll find photos and videos here: https://twitter.com/#!/search/yonopago

These ones are great: http://yfrog.com/h65vvbrj
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PltYATuelmg

And today I was surprised when reading about a new parallel movement: “Yo no paro”, in english: “I don’t stop”, literal translation makes it not understandable, I would call it “I won’t stop them”. This is a calling made by the public transport workers from Madrid, they said that they’re not going to ask the people for the tickets nor stop them when jumping the doors in solidarity with the “yo no pago”.

READ and VIDEO @ http://takethesquare.net/2012/02/02/yo-no-pago-report-from-barcelona-by-mikifus/

PHOTOS @ http://yfrog.com/h65vvbrj

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* ALTER(NATIVE) TV

Source: When the Crisis hit the Fan

Alter TV's offices (Photo: Kostas Kallergis)

[…] This is the story of Alter TV, one of the 6 private free-to-air channels in Greece.

The station is in a state that we call is “epischesi ergasias” (επίσχεση εργασίας), a phenomenon of the Greek job market I presume. So what is it? It’s something like a strike. When an employee owes several salaries to his employees, they have the right to proceed to an “epischesi ergasias”, which means that they still go to work, but are refusing to work because of the employer’s arrears. The difference with the strike is that they are not losing their wages while practicing it. They go to thei posts to show their readiness to work (though refusing to produce) and, in some cases, to protect the company’s personal (movable) property in case of bankruptcy. But let’s take the story from the beginning.

According to its employees, Alter TV got into financial trouble last year but managed to re-emerge as the second (and at times first) most popular news channel (based on the main news bulletins’ ratings). The channel is mainly owned by three men, the father and son Kouris and Kostas Giannikos who was also responsible for the day-to-day running of the place (the Kouris family had 51% of the shares, Giannikos had 25% and the rest was free floating on the market). In the past years he went on a borrowing spree, getting loans in the name of the Alter TV and then using them to create a network of sister companies which were totally depended  on Alter. A music company, Legend, which produced music CDs that were advertised solely on Alter. Modern Times was a publishing house whose books were also heavily advertised by Alter. At a time when publishing houses could not afford to advertise books on TV, Modern Times could advertise any piece of junk they wanted on prime time and see them easily in the Top-10 list. The employees of the channel were employed not only to produce the channel’s programs but a series of tv ad clips which were done for the sister companies at a dirt cheap cost. The station also sold great parts of its advertising time slots in advance without securing a constant cash flow. As a result, when the Greek financial crisis became a fact in this country the station went into trouble. The employers started owing a month’s salary at the beginning and were paying their employees at an increasingly unpredicted way. A salary after 1,5 month, another one after 2 and so on.

Right now the owners owe between 8 and 12 salaries to their employees who have been in a state of “epischesi ergasias” for more than 2 months. Kostas Giannikos left the company and focused on his other companies which also ran into financial troubles. The employees at his financial newspaper “Investor’s World” are also in a state of “epischesi ergasias” now. Alter TV’s new Board of Directors has told the employees that there is a possible investor who is willing to take over the channel but they can’t mention his name. According to their plan, out of 650 employees about one third (286 employees) will have to be laid off. They’ll get 70% of what is owed to them and will receive their compensations after 12-24 months. The ones who’ll stay will get 60% of what is owed to them, they’ll have to work for free for the coming months until the company officially enters the protection of Article 99 (Bankruptcy Law which protects about-to-bankrupt companies from creditors). Oh yes, there will also be a renegotiation (sic) of their salaries with 10%-30% cut according to their previous salaries.

The employees did not accept this proposal and are waiting for another solution. In the meantime they have been using the station’s frequency to broadcast messages against the owners, the Kouris family.

As they told us, it was their reply to a cheap and dirty propaganda war launched by the Kouris family against its own employees. This can best be depicted by a front page of Avriani newspaper (owned by the Kouris family) which, at an attempt to blame and shame the employees, gathered all salary expenses in the past two years, including the salaries of celebrity tv presenters, changed the amount to drachmas and published this: […]

READ / PHOTOS / VIDEO @ http://whenthecrisishitthefan.com/2012/02/16/alternative-tv/

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* GREECE IS OUT OF TIME, AGAIN

By Yves Smith, NakedCapitalism

There is definitely something odd happening in Europe. I can’t quite put my finger on it, so I thought I would list out my musings on the topic and see what I can come up with.

Firstly, overnight there was talk that the ECB appears to have entered into a bond swap deal with Greece:

The national central banks in the euro zone are set to exchange their holdings of Greek bonds into new bonds in the run up to a private sector debt deal to avoid taking any forced losses, euro zone sources said on Thursday.

The euro zone is putting the finishing touches to a second bailout deal for Greece for finance ministers’ approval on Monday, paving the way for a debt swap with its private creditors needed to avoid a ruinous default in March.

The deal, which aims to halve in nominal terms what Greece owes to investors, slashing its debts by 100 billion euros, is set to include a legal requirement for bondholders to accept losses. This would have put the ECB in a tricky position, leaving it open to claims it was financing governments. […]

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/02/greece-is-out-of-time-again.html

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* BANKERS OCCUPIED EUROPE AND AMERICA

By Stephen Lendman

[…] Attorney Dimitri Lascaris has family in Greece. His sister’s letter explained harm times there, saying:

In fall 2009, their family income declined. Their carpentry business only works sporadically. Customers with outstanding balances can’t pay. They prioritize other obligations like food, rent, mortgages, water, electricity and health insurance, etc.

“Slowly, cash has become more and more scarce for our customers, and therefore for us.”

In 2012, empty stores with rent signs are everywhere. Businesses still operating feature sales with 50 – 70% discounts. Once crowded markets became “deserted urban centers.”

“Suicides, drug abuse, prostitution, and crime have infiltrated village life….Other friends of ours have died of heart attacks, stressed to the limit by debt, or worse, the loss of their cars, homes,” and livelihoods.

Businesses have to beg customers to pay something, anything “because food or heat in the dead of winter has become an issue for us….We are all now at the mercy of anyone with money at hand to help our family survive, let alone aspire to a better life.”

The same scenario threatens Europe, especially in troubled Eurozone countries and Latvia where wages were slashed 30% and people haven’t enough to live on.

The more pounds of flesh extracted, the less able economies can grow. Greeks must either leave or rebel. The alternative’s letting politicians and bankers bleed them dry. There’s no in between, and what’s happening there’s heading for Portugal, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and eventually all Europe, Britain, and America. […]

READ @ http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/

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* AUSTERITY IN GREECE: THE ‘SHOCK THERAPY’ KILLING THE PATIENT

By Common Dreams Staff

As Greek officials continue negotiations with their creditors over further austerity measures demanded to receive a bailout package, years of harsh cuts have been steadily unraveling Greek society with soaring unemployment, increasing homelessness and financial insecurity.

France 24 reports that the middle class is disappearing with people living “on the brink”:

Jobless rates in Greece are soaring, with nearly 21 percent of the total active population, and roughly 50 percent of those under 25 years-old, unemployed. Maria (not her real name), in her thirties, has a good job in the Greek labour ministry. She thinks the real unemployment figures are considerably higher than the official numbers cited by authorities. “Many people are not registered as job seekers,” she said. “Often they’re hopeless; they think that declaring themselves as unemployed won’t help them get anywhere.” […]

‘People living on the brink’

“With my situation here five years ago, I would have considered buying an apartment,” Maria explained. “Today, it’s impossible. We don’t even plan on having children now, because it would be too hard to raise them in proper conditions.” In less than a year, her salary was cut by more than 18 percent. “And I was hired after the biggest salary cuts for civil servants [imposed after the first austerity plan in May 2010].” […]

The lowering of the minimum monthly salary for those under 25 years of age from 586 to 360 euros has certainly not helped young Greeks trying to make ends meet. “On 586 euros a month, you may be able to live with a roommate and have enough to eat every day in Athens,” Maria said. “But you can’t pay for transportation, telephone or internet bills. Everyone seems to think it’s only about numbers and figures, but 11 million Greeks are affected. The middle class is disappearing; there is no working class, only people living on the brink.” […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/02/16-2

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* THE FARCE-HOLE GETS DEEPER: OBAMA’S “ROBO-SETTLEMENT FOR VOTES” COST TO TAXPAYERS: $40 BILLION

By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge

Plunging deeper into the farce-hole, the FT reports tonight that Obama’s foreclosure settlement with the banks over their improper seizure of tax-paying US citizens’ homes will in fact be subsidized by those very same US taxpayers. It is a hidden clause (that has not been made public yet) that allows the banks to count future loan modifications under the $30bn (taxpayer funded) HAMP initiative towards their $35bn agreement to restructure obligations under the new settlement. As the FT goes on to note, BofA will be able to use future mods made under HAMP towards the $7.6bn in borrower assistance it is committed to provide – which means, in a (as TARP inspector general Neil Barofsky describes) ‘scandalous’ turn of events the bank will receive payments for averting a borrower default and be reimbursed by the taxpayer for the principal write-down. We have much stronger words for how we are feeling about this but Barofsky sums it up calmly “It turns the notion that this is about justice and accountability on its head”. Are the Big Five banks truly beyond the law?

FT: US Taxpayers to subsidize $40bn housing settlement

>US taxpayers are expected to subsidize the $40bn settlement owed by five leading banks over allegations that they systematically abused borrowers in pursuit of improper home seizures, the Financial Times has learnt.

[…]

As if the banks have not been spoon-fed enough over the past three years? We look forward to the mutually assured destruction spin (what would happen if they had to ‘spend’ that money themselves?) that will be propagandized should this be questioned openly and perhaps a glance at the level of bank reserves sitting on the Fed balance sheet might bring the citizenry off the couch, away from American Idol, and at minimum write a sternly worded text message to their closest BFF on Facebook.

Just to be clear: the guilty party in a fraud against taxpayers has their ‘punishment’ paid for by the innocent taxpayer who had the crime committed against them? ok, thank you.

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/housing-settlement-be-taxpayer-funded-confirming-big-five-banks-are-beyond-law

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* CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU LAUNCHES “MAKE LIFE EASEIR FOR LOBBYISTS” TOOL

By Yves Smith, NakedCapitalism

I’m pretty gobsmacked by the link (hat tip reader Scott S) to a webpage at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which says it is written by Richard Cordray: “We want to make it easier for you to submit comments on streamlining regulations.”

There is more than a little bit of NewSpeak in this idea. “Streamlining regulations” is generally right wing code for “eliminating/relaxing regulations.” Admittedly, Elizabeth Warren during her brief time as de facto head of the nascent CFPB, proposed and launched a project to simplify mortgage disclosure forms to combine two required forms into one and make them easier to understand. Banks, needless to say, opposed the idea.

Warren has long believed that improved disclosure for retail products was a win-win for consumers and financial services firms. I saw her speak in March 2010 and she mentioned how a standard credit card agreement in 1980 fit on one piece of paper. Today, with all the various riders, they come in at 30 pages. While greater clarity is obviously beneficial to the borrower, it also saves the banks’ costs. […]

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/02/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-launches-make-life-easier-for-lobbyists-tool.html

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* U.S. TO CUT FUNDS FOR WATER TESTING AT BEACHES

The EPA plans to cut $10 million in grants it gives annually. Water quality advocates worry that swimmers and surfers will be at even greater risk of illness.

By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times

Health testing at beaches in California and across the nation is at risk of being cut under a plan to eliminate federal funds for monitoring whether the water is too contaminated to swim in.

Citing the “difficult financial climate,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in its budget request this week that it would do away with $10 million in grants it gives each year to state and local agencies in coastal and Great Lakes states to test for tainted water.

“While beach monitoring continues to be important to protect human health and especially sensitive individuals,” the EPA said in an emailed statement, “states and local governments now have the technical expertise and procedures to continue beach monitoring without federal support.”

But state and local officials have struggled to pay for health testing along California’s busy coastline in recent years, and water quality advocates worry that swimmers and surfers will be at even greater risk of getting sick if the federal funds evaporate.

The proposed cuts come as the agency is drafting new nationwide beach water quality standards, which have been panned by environmental groups as being even weaker than the 1986 rules they replace. […]

READ @ http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0216-beach-testing-20120216,0,7019192.story

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* FACE MASKS, SNIPERS AND AERIAL SURVEILLANCE: CHICAGO’S NEWEST ANTI-PROTEST MEASURES REVEALED

By Yana Kunichoff, Truthout

[…] As part of the expanded powers given to Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the May summits, the city has authority to accept contracts for goods or services without approval of the City Council or the expected competitive bidding process. The face shields and aerial surveillance technology are the first use of this allowance.

Chicago police officers, and any law enforcement the city chooses to deputize under the measures put in place for NATO/G8, will be equipped with 3,000 new face shields that “will fit easily over gas masks,” according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

[…]

Chicagoist also reported that Chicago will get the latest in aerial surveillance equipment, according to the press release from a company called Vislink:

The airborne units will transmit to four strategically located ground-based receiver sites providing city-wide coverage and the ability to simultaneously receive real-time images from two aircraft for viewing at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) operations center. An additional three receive systems will be installed in the city’s mobile command vehicles to facilitate field operations. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/face-masks-snipers-and-aerial-surveillance-chicago-newest-anti-protest-measures-revealed/1329343318

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* INSTEAD OF BEING DISGUSTED BY POVERTY, WE ARE DISGUSTED BY POOR PEOPLE THEMSELVES

Empathy has crashed. No more cruel to be kind. We must simply be cruel.

By Suzanne Moore, Guardian UK

She is there whenever I go the shops. Every time I think she can’t get any more skeletal, she manages it. Wild eyes staring in different directions, she must have been pretty once. I try not to look, for she is often aggressive. Sometimes, though, she is in my face and asking me to go into the shop, from which she has been banned, to buy her something. A scratchcard. She feels lucky. “Maybe some food?” I suggest pointlessly, but food is not what she craves. Food is not crack. Or luck. She has already lost every lottery going.

An addict is the author of their own misfortune. Her poverty is self-inflicted. All these hopeless people: where do they all come from? It is, of course, possible never to really see them, as their distress is so distressing. Who needs it? Poverty, we are often told, is not “actual”, because people have TVs. This gradual erosion of empathy is the triumph of an economic climate in which everyone, addicted or not, is personally responsible for their own lack of achievement. Poor people are not simply people like us, but with less money: they are an entirely different species. Their poverty is a personal failing. They have let themselves go. This now applies not just to individuals but to entire countries. Look at the Greeks! What were they thinking with their pensions and minimum wage? That they were like us? Out of the flames, they are now told to rise, phoenix–like, by a rich political elite. Perhaps they can grow money on trees?

Meanwhile, in the US, as this week’s shocking Panorama showed, people are living in tents or underground in drains. These ugly people, with ulcers, hernias and bad teeth, are the flipside of the American dream. Trees twist through abandoned civic buildings and factories, while the Republican candidates, an ID parade of Grecian 2000 suspects, bang on about tax cuts for the 1% who own a fifth of America’s wealth. To see the Grapes of Wrath recast among post-apocalyptic cityscapes is scary. Huge cognitive dissonance is required to cheerlead for the rich while 47 million citizens live in conditions close to those in the developing world. […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/16/suzanne-moore-disgusted-by-poor

AUDIO: America’s Poor @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00nm3fm/Assignment_Americas_Poor/

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* 5 LESSONS FROM THE RISE OF THE BRICs

By Derek Thonpson and Max Fisher, The Atlantic

In 2001, Jim O’Neill, the chairman of Goldman Sachs asset management, famously predicted the four fastest-growing emerging markets for the decade. We know that foursome by the acronym BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. That the economic world remembers his prediction owes as much to the handiness of the acronym as it does to the accuracy of his forecast. China, India, and Brazil are among the most dynamic and exciting emerging powers in the world. Indeed, to call them “emerging” feels like a slight. India is the world’s largest county, China the world’s largest manufacturer, and Brazil the Western Hemisphere’s most vibrant expanding consumer economy. (Russia, the runt of the group, is beset by awful demographics and a weak private sector outside of its natural resources.)

As investors and economic analysts cast about for the next batch of high-growth markets, let’s pause to recall the lessons from the BRICs: (1) Work on the middle-income transition plan; (2) Trade, trade, trade; (3) state capitalism can work; (4) corruption kills; (5) strong civil society matters. […]

READ @ http://www.theatlantic.com/international/print/2012/02/5-lessons-from-the-rise-of-the-brics/253045/

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