Apr 202012



Source: Hellas Frappe

We here at hellasfrappe have often said that the rich in Greece only get richer… and the poor only get poorer and we are not kidding! According to reports, while our government asked us to tighten our austerity belts for the good of the economy, they suddenly became very wealthy. How wealthy you ask? Well… according to a new scandal that is about to explode in the next few days from German reporters (who are presently investigating the matter) several MPs became so rich that they have been buying up a storm of properties all over the Greek capital with funds that cannot be explained!

According to a report in kourdistoportocali the scandal claims that top-level ministers suddenly gained enormous amounts of wealth during the 2009-2011 period in the backdrop of a bankrupt country. Was this because they wanted to challenge the posh lifestyle of their confident Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who incidentally lived like a king… but is now presently rotting away in some jail cell after being charged with money laundering? Or is it because they want to “launder” this sudden wealth? […]

READ @ http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.com/2012/04/new-scandal-germans-set-to-expose-mps.html



By Mary Bottari, Truthout

[…] ALEC’s Race to the Bottom in Wages for American Workers

The “Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act” would repeal and then ban local “living wage” ordinances like the ones in some 140 cities that provide a higher minimum for city workers/contractors — enough to maintain a safe, decent standard of living in a community. Similarly, the ALEC “Starting (Minimum) Wage Repeal Act” would preempt the ability of localities to pay a minimum wage higher than the federal level. Some 22 states allow starting wages, but ALEC objects to the policy as an “unfunded mandate.”

The ALEC “Prevailing Wage Repeal Act” would get rid of all state prevailing wage laws that give workers engaged in public works contracts a regional, average salary in an attempt to prevent contractors from entering into a race to the bottom in worker wages to win contract bids.

Not satisfied by pulling down workers’ wages in every imaginable domestic scenario, ALEC also supports a radical free trade agenda that pits U.S. workers against foreign workers making a fraction of their wage and facilitates the off-shoring of U.S. jobs. From China Free Trade in 2000 to Korea Free Trade today, ALEC has supported shipping jobs overseas.

Where is the bottom in ALEC’s race to the bottom? Why, prison labor of course. ALEC promotes the privatization of prisons and prison industries that do not have to abide by minimum wage rules. […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/news/item/8625-hang-onto-that-paycheck-alec-sharpens-focus-on-jobs



By Laura Bolt, The Nation

On the morning of November 17, UC Davis students participating in a peaceful protest of rising tuition costs, in solidarity with the Occupy movement, were informed that they were to remove their tents from the quad on which they had been camping. The protesters had spent only one night there, but the university said the encampment was a health and safety violation. The students’ first instinct was to engage in a dialogue with the university; students requested that the administration cite the standards they were violating, but by that afternoon no details had been provided to them, so the students decided to continue to “occupy the quad.”

That occupation, however, did not last long. At around 3 pm, police in riot gear arrived on campus, threatening to “shoot” students who refused to leave. As students were pulled up from the ground at random, their hands violently tied behind them, twenty-five students remained peacefully seated in the center of the quad. A crowd of onlookers began to accumulate. In a scene that would go viral, thanks to cell phone videos, officers stepped within a few feet of the seated protesters, shook cans of pepper spray—“like cans of aerosol paint,” according to the students’ complaint—and doused the protesters. UC Davis student David Buscho described the experience as “absurdly painful…we were in a state of collective shock.”

Now that the shock has worn off, nineteen of these students, supported by the ACLU of Northern California, are fighting back with a lawsuit filed against UC Davis administration and officials that alleges that its actions violated the students’ First Amendment rights. An attorney for the plaintiffs, Mark Merin, believes that the police had no right to get involved in the protest, asserting that the “right of general assembly is enshrined in the constitution and should not be interfered with by police.” […]

READ @ http://www.thenation.com/article/167390/occupy-and-right-protest



By Brad Hicks, The Infamous Brad

[…] Chief Spicuzza “thought she made it clear” more than once that no riot gear was to be worn and no clubs or pepper sprayers were to be carried. What Lieutenant Pike said back to her, each time, was, “Well, I hear you say that you don’t want us to, but we’re going to.” And they did, including that now-infamous Mk-9 military-grade riot-control pepper sprayer that he used. Oh, funny thing about that particular model of pepper-sprayer? It’s illegal for California cops to possess or use. It turns out that the relevant law only permits the use of up to Mk-4 pepper sprayers. The consultants were unable to find out who authorized the purchase and carrying, but every cop they asked said, “So what? It’s just like the Mk-4 except that it has a higher capacity.” Uh, no. It’s also much, much higher pressure, and specifically designed not to be sprayed directly at any one person, only at crowds, and only from at least six feet away. The manufacturer says so. The person in charge of training California police in pepper spray says that as far as he knows, no California cop has ever received training, from his office or from the manufacturer, in how to safely use a Mk-9 sprayer, presumably because it’s illegal. But Officer Nameless, when he wrote the action plan for these arrests, included all pepper-spray equipment in the equipment list, both the paint-ball rifle pepper balls and the Mk-9 riot-control sprayers.

The students set up their tents on a Thursday night. Chancellor Katehi ordered the cops to (a) only involve campus police, because she didn’t trust the local cops not to be excessively brutal, and (b) get them out of here by 3 AM Thursday night. Chief Spicuzza had to tell her that that wasn’t physically possible, they couldn’t get enough backup officers from other UC campuses on that short notice, it was going to have to be Friday night at 3 AM. Chancellor Katehi said “no can do,” that they had to be out of there before sunset Friday night, so that the camp wasn’t joined by drunken and stoned Friday night partiers that would endanger the camp and even further endanger cops trying to deal with them — arguably an entirely reasonable objection. So she ordered Chief Spicuzza to get them out of there by 3 PM Friday afternoon. Chief Spicuzza “was under the impression” (oh, look, there’s that phrase again) that she made it clear to the Chancellor that for one thing, it couldn’t be safely done, at 3:00 PM the protesters and passers-by would way outnumber her officers, and for another, it couldn’t be legally done, because there was no way to legally arrest someone for “overnight camping” in the middle of the afternoon. Nobody else who was in that meeting thinks she made that clear, only that she made it clear that she didn’t want to do it but couldn’t explain why not. Still, when she gave the order to Lieutenant Pike, he very definitely did raise the same objections, clearly and unambiguously, backed up by multiple witnesses, who all agree that Chief Spicuzza told him, “This was decided above my level, do it anyway.”

So, there’s Lieutenant Pike. (Who, by the way, for obvious legal reasons since he’s still being investigated by internal affairs and, last I heard, still being sued by his victims, refused to be interviewed by the consultants, so everything we know about his side of this comes from what he told other people and what he wrote in his reports.) As far as he’s concerned, he’s been given an illegal and impossible order: take 40 or so officers – unarmed and unarmored officers – into an angry crowd of 300 to 400 people who aren’t doing anything illegal and make that crowd go away without using any force or getting any of your officers injured. For reasons Stanley Milgram could explain, it does not occur to Lieutenant Pike to disobey this order, so instead, he does the best he can, using his own judgement to decide which parts of his orders and which parts of the law to ignore. Unsurprisingly, it goes badly. Backed into a corner by an angry crowd (which has, by the way, demonstrably left him room to retreat, even with his prisoners, contrary to what he says in his report) that is confronting him with evidence that he is the law-breaker here, not them, he snaps. And rather than take it out on the more-powerful people who put him in this situation, he takes it out on the powerless and peaceful people in front of him, using a high-pressure hose to pump five gallons of capsacin spray into the eyes and mouths of the dozen or twenty people in front of him … and he would have used more if he’d had it, he only stopped when he did, halfway through his third pass down the line, because the sprayer emptied. When he gets back to the station, Chief Spicuzza (who has no idea what’s just happened) congratulates him in front of half the department for how well he just did. And now, as far as he’s concerned, he’s being hung out to dry. We’re apparently supposed to ignore the fact that multiple video sources contradict almost everything about his after-incident report because apparently, in his opinion, he was only following orders. […]

READ @ http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/459368.html



Source: AP

Police in Georgia handcuffed a kindergartner after the girl threw a tantrum and the police chief defended the action.

The girl’s family demanded Tuesday that this central Georgia city change policy so that other children aren’t treated the same way. They say the child was shaken up by being put in a cell at the police station.

Salecia Johnson, 6, was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing furniture in an outburst Friday at Creekside Elementary School, Macon television station WMAZ-TV (http://on.wmaz.com/HPb7nr ) reported. Police said the girl knocked over a shelf that injured the principal. […]

READ @ http://news.yahoo.com/police-handcuff-ga-kindergartner-tantrum-112459850.html



By Stephen D. Foster Jr., Addicting Information

[…] The Ryan Budget is tremendously dangerous to our way of life and our economy and health care. Among the things the Paul Ryan Budget does includes:

• An average tax cut of $150,000 per individual for the wealthiest Americans. The budget also extends the unpopular Bush Tax Cuts which will give away $3 trillion dollars in revenues to the oil industry, Wall Street, and several other corporations and wealthy Americans. According to the Center for American Progress, “The only way to pay for such huge tax cuts for the 1 percent is to make the 99 percent pick up the tab.” That means the middle class, the poor, children, and seniors would sacrifice more so that rich people and corporations can have more wealth to hide overseas.

• The plan would wipe out Medicare and Medicaid as we know them. Medicare would become a coupon program in which seniors would receive a voucher to buy a private plan that may not cover the kind of medical care seniors need. Anything the voucher doesn’t cover would have to be paid for out of pocket. Coverage would not be guaranteed, meaning grandma and grandpa are on their own. The Republican budget also eliminates over $1 trillion of Medicaid funding, so low-incomes children, pregnant women, senior citizens and the disabled would be denying coverage. That’s about 60 million Americans that Republicans are throwing under the bus.

• The Ryan Budget keeps billions of dollars of subsidies for the oil industry and Wall Street and doesn’t close tax loopholes either. It also repeals reforms passed in the wake of the financial meltdown that would help prevent a repeat of the Great Recession.

Education and infrastructure are also affected. Under the Ryan Budget, education funding would be slashed by nearly 50 percent and infrastructure slashed by 24 percent. That means Republicans don’t care about educating the American people, and without education Americans will be less likely to get good paying jobs. And because of serious cuts to infrastructure, bridges, highways, rail lines, and clean energy production will all be allowed to deteriorate. Meanwhile, the rest of the developed world will continue to have better and more efficient infrastructures that are more efficient and better for business. […]

READ @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/04/18/house-republicans-pass-destructive-ryan-budget-for-second-time/



A museum in Italy has started burning its artworks in protest at budget cuts which it says have left cultural institutions out of pocket.

Source: BBC

Antonio Manfredi, of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples, set fire to the first painting on Tuesday.

“Our 1,000 artworks are headed for destruction anyway because of the government’s indifference,” he said.

The work was by French artist Severine Bourguignon, who was in favour of the protest and watched it online.

“The survival of the museum is such an important cause that it justifies the despicable, and painful, act of destroying a work of art,” she told the BBC.

“My work burned slowly, with a sinister crackle. It cost me a lot, but I have no other means of protesting against the loss of this institution.”

Mr Manfredi plans to burn three paintings a week from now on, in a protest he has dubbed “Art War”. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17754129



Source: RT

Art is the latest victim of the EU’s debt crisis. A director of an Italian museum is burning works from around the world in protest at the government’s harsh austerity measures. With the permission of the artists, he’s promised to destroy three pieces a week until the government listens to what he has to say. Patrick Young, Executive Director of investment firm DV Advisors says although Italy’s art protest should be treated as a joke, the problems it highlights are very serious.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHj1ChIb9X8



A coalition of more than 2,000 U.S. farmers and food companies said Wednesday it is taking legal action to force government regulators to analyze potential problems with proposed biotech crops and the weed-killing chemicals to be sprayed over them.

By Carey Gillam, Scientific America

A coalition of more than 2,000 U.S. farmers and food companies said Wednesday it is taking legal action to force government regulators to analyze potential problems with proposed biotech crops and the weed-killing chemicals to be sprayed over them.

Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, and Monsanto Co. are among several global chemical and seed companies racing to roll out combinations of genetically altered crops and new herbicides designed to work with the crops as a way to counter rapidly spreading herbicide-resistant weeds that are choking millions of acres of U.S. farmland.

Dow and Monsanto say the new chemical combinations and new crops that tolerate those chemicals are badly needed by corn, soybean and cotton farmers as weeds increasingly resist treatments of the most commonly used herbicide – glyphosate-based Roundup.

“They (farmers) need this new technology,” said Dow AgroScience Joe Vertin, global business leader for Dow’s new herbicide-protected crops called “Enlist.”

But critics say key ingredients in these new herbicides – 2,4-D for Dow and dicamba for Monsanto – already are in use in the marketplace and have proved damaging to “non-target” fields because they are hard to keep on target. Wind, heat and humidity can move the chemical particles miles down the road, damaging gardens, crops, trees. Many farms have suffered significant damage in recent years even though the chemicals are currently sprayed under tight restrictions. […]

READ @ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=farm-group-seeks-us-halt-on-dangero&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20120419



By David Swanson, Let’s Try Democracy

Dahr Jamail has covered the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico for two years.  He reports on massive environmental and economic damage and on oil continuing to enter these damaged waters.  Jamail is based in Doha, Qatar working as an Online News Producer for Al Jazeera English. His stories have also been published with Inter Press Service, Truthout, The Nation, The Sunday Herald in Scotland, the Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, Le Monde Diplomatique, and the Independent.  He’s been awarded the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and four Project Censored awards. His website is http://dahrjamail.net

READ and AUDIO @ http://davidswanson.org/node/3648



By Antonia Juhasz, The Nation

[…] As information about the settlement negotiations comes to light, several critical issues are not being adequately addressed—including the human health crisis brought on by the disaster.

Many people whose health was adversely affected by the spill would be excluded. The Medical Benefits Settlement covers about 90,000 people who are qualifying cleanup workers (out of an estimated 140,000) and 110,000 coastal residents living within one-half to one mile of the coast (out of a coastal population of 21 million). Although it would cover “certain respiratory, gastrointestinal, eye, skin and neurophysiological” conditions, it excludes mental health and a host of physical ailments, including cancers, birth defects, developmental disorders and neurological disorders including dementia.

The proposed settlement provides a health outreach program and twenty-one years of health monitoring—but not healthcare. If “nonspecified” ailments occur in this time frame, the patient must sue BP and prove causality to receive a settlement. Accepting the settlement also means forgoing the right to sue BP for punitive damages. BP estimates its total remaining liability for individuals and businesses at $7.8 billion—a lowball figure for many reasons, and much less than would be necessary if large numbers of people do suffer cancers and other chronic diseases as a result of the spill. […]

READ @ http://www.thenation.com/article/167461/investigation-two-years-after-bp-spill-hidden-health-crisis-festers



Source: youtube

It’s almost two years since BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, scientists say they have found deformities among seafood and a great decline in the numbers of marine life. Dahr Jamail reports from New Orleans.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VVyPiV5xdY&feature=player_embedded

RELATED ARTICLE @ http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/04/18-1

RELATED ARTICLE @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/155032



Source: youtube

Two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, local residents and clean-up workers say they have developed serious illnesses.

Those affected blame a combination of the five million barrels of oil spilled by BP and cleaning chemicals. Though some have settled with the British company, there are still several pending class-action lawsuits by plaintiffs who say the spill caused their illness.

Al Jazeera’s Dahr Jamail reports from Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FXxFFH3mM8

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