* ¿QUE ES UNA #HELGA DEL 99%?
* SPAIN’S GENERAL STRIKE IS ALSO A DAY OF ACTION FOR THE 99%
Polls say only 30% of the employed will take part on Friday, but it will also be what the Occupy movement calls an ‘invisible’ strike
By Katharine Alinger, The Guardian
Spain is about to experience huge austerity cuts that may prove explosive. On Friday Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, is set to announce what even he describes as a “very, very austere budget” to reduce the deficit. According to El País, the EU is demanding cuts larger than those of Greece, Ireland or Portugal: “There is no comparable adjustment in [our] economic history,” says the paper.
As a result of this and recent changes to labour laws, only four months after the new conservative government took power, Spain’s two largest unions have called for a general strike on the day before the budget announcement.
On top of €15bn cuts already announced in December, it is estimated Rajoy will cut about another €40bn. Many are expecting drastic cuts to health and education, not least the financial markets, who are waiting to see whether Rajoy will deliver what they require. This is on top of existing cuts to social spending, wage freezes for public employees, and privatisations, in a context where 40 home evictions a day are taking place across the country.
Response to this austerity has already been fierce. Hundreds of thousands protested across the country in February against labour law changes described by the unions as “the most regressive in the history of the [Spanish] democracy”. Thursday’s general strike will be much larger, seeing hundreds of planes grounded, public transport on a skeleton service, manufacturing at a virtual standstill, and even fresh bread from the bakeries in scant supply.
Many have been instrumental in continuing struggles around the Spanish state against what have already been drastic cuts. For instance, the “iaiaflautas” are retirees and grandparents who occupy bank lobbies against bailouts, buses against price hikes, and health departments against cutbacks. Their name is a play on the “perroflautas“, Spanish slang for crusty, to show how impossible it is to stereotype those taking part in protests as typical activists.
Meanwhile in Valencia, one of the worst-hit regions, students and schoolchildren took part in recent protests against government cuts that had left their schools without adequate heating, many sitting in blankets in classrooms during the cold. The protests were brutally repressed. The sight of schoolkids being arrested by police galvanised a whole wave of solidarity protests around the country from outraged citizens.
These are only the most visible actions. All over the country small groups of determined everyday acts of resistance are taking place, like the villages where people blockade the highway weekly because their emergency clinic is closing down.
* GREEK GOVERNMENT ROBBED PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS TO COMPLETE BOND SWAP
VENIZELOS REGIME SECRETLY REMOVED 70% OF MAJOR HOSPITAL, UTILITY & UNIVERSITY BANK ACCOUNT FUNDS TO PAY BONDHOLDERS
Souce: The Slog
The illegally denied default of Greece entered a dramatic new phase this afternoon with the revelation by mainstream Greek public health website Health News that, shortly before midnight on March 8th – the eve of Greece’s psi completion on Friday March 9th – on average 70% of public utility funds in varous large, interest-bearing accounts at the Bank of Greece were raided. These included most of the State’s regional hospital budgets, various universities and (it is alleged) at least one utility company.
The shortfalls came to light late last week and this morning as various hospital purchasing cheques in particular began to bounce. The monies – estimated by one source to total some 1.4 billion euros – appear to have been used to pay off the tiny minority of private sovereign creditors who, under the original terms of their bond purchase, were entitled come what may to full payment of the bond’s yield entitlement.
Setting aside the amoral audacity of this act, it does yet again raise the issue of a Greece so utterly lacking in any real funds in the real world, that to pay off a minute proportion of the bondholders it had to resort to such a desperate measure. […]
* GERMANY CAUSED THE GREEK CRISIS – TO WIN BIG!
The German national channel “ARD” (“Allgemeine Rundfunkanstalten Deutschlands”), recently revealed how, with close cooperation from a certain select Greeks, Germany committed massive fraud against a whole nation of people and was able to profit some 45 billion euros from the euro crisis, on the back of Greeks! ARD airs the confession of the German head of EFSF, Klaus Regling, in an interview with news magazine FOCUS on this very subject. According to the German head of the Fund, Germany, has not suffered at all from the current debt crisis and instead has recorded significant gains which he notes are expected to multiply over time. This, according to Regklingk, is because Germany is not directly lending Greece, but is rather gaining on the interest rates from the loans which are greater than those by which it borrows from.
“The rescue operations have not cost Germans. The image that funds (to Greece) flowed into a bottomless pit was wrong. There are no gifts and no permanent financial transfers. On the contrary, Germany has profited from the crisis, because a lot of capital flowed into the country (Germany).”
Germany has only given 15.2 billion euros (according to formal data from the German government), a sum that does not in any way compare with what it has benefited from in keeping Greece “under fire”. One economic analyst in the video also says that Germany’s profits were so great because it is able to lend money to other nations with similar debt problems because it is able to borrow at lesser interest rates. This difference allowed the German Republic to gain some 45 billion euros from the crisis, and it is expected that this sum will rise to 65 billion. […]
* GREECE: THE PARADES OF ANGER
By Panagiotis Sotiris, CounterFIre
Independence Day (25 March) parades in Greece have been traditionally a day of celebration, not of protest. A national holiday to commemorate the beginning of the popular insurrection against Ottoman rule in 1821 that led to Greece’s independence, they are associated with watching the armed forces march along with school children, since in most cities we also have school parades. Moreover, for most people of the Left they always seemed like a remnant of an authoritarian past when these official displays of nationalism and militarism were part of the rituals of power.
However, in the past two years parades have become venues for protest against the policies of austerity and reduced sovereignty imposed by the EU-IMF-ECB Troika. The traditional presence of representatives of authority in such parades and celebrations, such as local members of parliament, government ministers or high ranking officials, and mayors made them an easy target for protest, especially in a period of intense and prolonged struggles. This has been particularly evident in provincial Greece, where members of parliament and aspiring local politicians have faced many forms of protest in the past years.
But the protests and demonstrations during parades are not simply opportunities to directly express anger and frustration against politicians. They are also a way to re-appropriate a collective memory of struggle and resistance. The 1821 Greek Revolution, itself with a strong popular – democratic element, is still being viewed as a successful example of victorious collective resistance against oppressors. The same goes for the 28 October parades, designed to commemorate Greece’s entering WWII that bring all the memories of the antifascist resistance during the German occupation. This was more than evident in Thessaloniki on 28 October 2011 when the military parade was interrupted by protesters, forcing the President of the Republic to leave the scene and the parade to be cancelled. Apart from the powerful image of protesters linking current struggles to a long memory of struggle, it is also important to note that it was exactly this cancelling of the military parade that was then seen as an example of the inability of the PASOK government to actually govern, thus making stronger the sense of the open political crisis. […]
* DYING FOR THE GLORY OF BANKSTERS!
Source: Max Keiser, RT
* NATO STAFFERS TO CHECK OUT CHICAGO
Hundreds to visit the city this week to figure out logistics of May summit
By Kathy Bergen, Chicago Tribune
Hundreds of NATO staffers are visiting Chicago this week to scope out the city in advance of the May 20-21 meetings for the security alliance, according to the city’s host committee.
Word of the visit came as a Chicago delegation, including members of the host committee, returned from NATO headquarters in Brussels.
As many as 800 personnel from NATO and its 28 member countries will arrive in Chicago to become more familiar with the layout of the city and the McCormick Place convention center as they plan the logistics of the summit. Some were to arrive as early as Sunday, with others coming midweek, summit planners said. […]
* BOBBY RUSH GETS KICKED OFF THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR WEARING HOODIE FOR TRAYVON
* OCCUPY SPRING
By Nick Pinto, Village Voice
Almost from the moment Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted from their camp in Zuccotti Park last November, observers have speculated whether the movement was finished, or if it would somehow rebound in the spring.
Dedicated Occupy activists dismissed the possibility that the movement had already run its course and promised an “American Spring,” kicking off a new season of activism with May Day events coordinated across the country.
As it turns out, spring came early.
A March 17 rally downtown was originally conceived as a low-key way to mark the sixth anniversary of the movement, but as has happened so many times already in Occupy’s history, police overreaction transformed the event into something more than it would have been on its own.
The NYPD responded with a chilling and disproportionate show of force, once again evicting the protesters from the 24-hour park and arresting scores of them with a level of violence Occupy veterans said they hadn’t seen before.
Many of those who weren’t arrested marched north that night, inaugurating a new camp in Union Square. In response, police have taken to barricading and garrisoning that park at midnight, prompting a nightly standoff with protesters. […]
* OCCUPY GROUPS RE IMAGINE THE BANK
By Margot Adler, NPR
Groups within the Occupy Wall Street movement are trying to overhaul the banking system and even dream of creating a new kind of bank.
Occupy isn’t in the headlines so much these days, but work continues behind the scenes. The Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street meets weekly in different places. Members are older than some might think — in their 30s, 40s and 50s — and many work or formerly worked in the financial industry.
“We have almost no consensus opinion, except that the system is not working,” says Cathy O’Neil, who often facilitates the group that is working on legislation and regulation to reform the financial system. “A lot of these people are from finance or have a background in law or SEC regulation. There’s lots of people from banks and hedge funds.” […]
* WHY DO 5 BANKS HOLD 52% OF ALL BANKING ASSETS
Souce: Thom Hartmann
* FEEDING THE HOMELESS BANNED IN MAJOR CITIES ALL OVER AMERICA
Source: The Economic Collapse
What would you do if you came across someone on the street that had not had anything to eat for several days? Would you give that person some food? Well, the next time you get that impulse you might want to check if it is still legal to feed the homeless where you live. Sadly, feeding the homeless has been banned in major cities all over America. Other cities that have not banned it outright have put so many requirements on those that want to feed the homeless (acquiring expensive permits, taking food preparation courses, etc.) that feeding the homeless has become “out of reach” for most average people. Some cities are doing these things because they are concerned about the “health risks” of the food being distributed by ordinary “do-gooders”. Other cities are passing these laws because they do not want homeless people congregating in city centers where they know that they will be fed. But at a time when poverty and government dependence are soaring to unprecedented levels, is it really a good idea to ban people from helping those that are hurting?
This is just another example that shows that our country is being taken over by control freaks. There seems to be this idea out there that it is the job of the government to take care of everyone and that nobody else should even try.
But do we really want to have a nation where you have to get the permission of the government before you do good to your fellow man?
It isn’t as if the government has “rescued” these homeless people. Homeless shelters all over the nation are turning people away each night because they have no more room. There are many homeless people that are lucky just to make it through each night alive during the winter.
Sometimes a well-timed sandwich or a cup of warm soup can make a world of difference for a homeless person. But many U.S. cities have decided that feeding the homeless is such a threat that they had better devote law enforcement resources to making sure that it doesn’t happen.
This is so twisted. In America today, you need a “permit” to do almost anything. We are supposed to be a land of liberty and freedom, but these days government bureaucrats have turned our rights into “privileges” that they can revoke at any time.
The following are some of the major U.S. cities that have attempted to ban feeding the homeless. […]
* THE JUSTICES TURN HOSTILE DURING THE SECOND DAY OF THE HEALTH CARE CASE
Source: The War Room, Current TV
The justices turn hostile in the health care case: “I wasn’t quite sure which constitution they were referring to in all of this, because it certainly wasn’t the U.S. constitution,” says Ian Millhiser, of the Center for American Progress, who was troubled by the Supreme Court’s questions to the Department of Justice. Millhiser’s argument is simple: Congress can regulate commerce, and the health care law regulates a sixth of the economy, so it’s commerce.
* JUSTICE SCALIA: LET THEM DIE
Source: The People’s View
Maybe you missed it, but Justice Scalia today said that letting the uninsured die is a better idea than making it an individual responsibility for those who can afford it to buy health insurance.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was explaining to Justice Scalia that the individual responsibility provision (aka “the mandate”) is justified given the fact that the uninsured can show up in emergency rooms and get care regardless of ability (or willingness) to pay, shifting the cost to other participants of the market in the form of higher insurance premiums. Scalia, undeterred, dropped the GOP baseline:
GENERAL VERRILLI: No. It’s because you’re going — in the health care market, you’re going into the market without the ability to pay for what you get, getting the health care service anyway as a result of the social norms that allow — that — to which we’ve obligated ourselves so that people get health care.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, don’t obligate yourself to that. Why — you know?
GENERAL VERRILLI: Well, I can’t imagine that that — that the Commerce Clause would –would forbid Congress from taking into account this deeply embedded social norm.
JUSTICE SCALIA: You — you could do it.
Don’t obligate yourself to that? [...]
* SCALIA SAYS COURT CON’T BE BOTHERED TO READ OBAMACARE: ‘YOU REALLY WANT US TO GO THROUGH THESE 2700 PAGES?’
By Amanda Peterson Beadle
During the last day of Supreme Court hearings about the Affordable Care Act, the justices covered whether or not the entire law could stand if the individual mandate was struck down and the law’s expansion of Medicaid. But Justice Antonin Scalia seemed surprised that someone would have expected the justices to read the text of the health care reform law before the hearings:
JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? (Laughter.) And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one? […]