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Venezuelan activists urge more protests – Americas – Al Jazeera English

Venezuelan activists urge more protests – Americas – Al Jazeera English.

Call for nationwide rallies comes after dozens are arrested in street battles between government forces and protesters.

Last updated: 01 Mar 2014 18:13
Venezuelan activists have called for nationwide protests after 41 people were arrested in street battles between government forces and protesters.Leaders of the activist wing of the opposition, legislator Maria Corina Machado and members of the Popular Will party, led by jailed ex-mayor Leopoldo Lopez, called on people to rally on Saturday against what they called “repression, torture and persecution.”

This comes as eight foreigners were arrested during a rally in Caracas on charges of “international terrorism,” state VTV television said.

Venezuela’s barricades are symbol of protest

Popular Will said that an arrest warrant was issued for Carlos Vecchio, the party’s national political coordinator, accused of crimes linked to the protests that include arson and criminal damage.

On Friday, hooded protesters set up barricades and responded with a steady barrage of Molotov cocktails against the National Guard, as they were fired on with water and tear gas canisters in an attempt to break up the crowd in Caracas’ wealthy district of Chacao.

Journalists under fire

Venezuela’s journalist association SNTP has said that one of the foreigners arrested was US freelance reporter Andrew Rosati, from the Miami Herald.

Rosati was detained for half an hour and released after being “struck in the face and his abdomen” by security forces, the SNTP, said on Twitter.

Also detained and released was a team of journalists from the Associated Press, the SNTP said.

The SNTP also said that Italian photographer Francesca Commissari, who works for the local daily El Nacional, was being held.

In the past week, the Venezuelan government threatened to expel CNN if it did not “rectify” its coverage of the unrest.

Government officials released no details on the arrest of foreigners.

Escalating violence

Angry at the policies of the country’s leftist government, three weeks of violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government have left 18 dead, with the crisis showing little sign of abating.

Protest organiser Alfredo Romero, president of the Venezuelan Penal Forum, said 33 cases of “cruel and inhuman treatment or torture” have been reported to the public ombudsman.

The Venezuelan government said it was investigating 27 cases of human rights abuses, though it provided no details of possible wrongdoing.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said that the death toll linked to the protests stood at 18, while of the 1,044 that had been detained, 72 remain behind bars.

Some of the deaths have been attributed to violent clashes with police, but other victims have been shot by unidentified gunmen.

The government has denied all links to such killings.

US urges dialogue

With no sign of a breakthrough, Washington urged Maduro to talk to the protesters.

“They need to reach out and have a dialogue, and bring people together and resolve their problems,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in Washington Friday, urging against “arrests and violence in the streets.”

Kerry said the United States was working with Colombia and other countries to bolster mediation efforts.

Maduro has labelled the protests that began on February 4 a Washington-backed attempted “coup.”

He claims that radical opposition leaders have joined students angered by high inflation and goods shortage in plotting to topple his nearly year-old government.

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Near-Bankrupt Rome Bailed Out As Italy Unemployment Rises To All Time High, Grows By Most On Record In 2013 | Zero Hedge

Near-Bankrupt Rome Bailed Out As Italy Unemployment Rises To All Time High, Grows By Most On Record In 2013 | Zero Hedge.

A few days ago, we reported that, seemingly out of the blue, the city of Rome was on the verge of a “Detroit-style bankruptcy.” In the article, Guido Guidesi, a parliamentarian from the Northern League, was quoted as saying “It’s time to stop the accounting tricks and declare Rome’s default.” Of course, that would be unthinkable: we said that if “if one stops the accounting tricks, not only Rome, but all of Europe, as well as the US and China would all be swept under a global bankruptcy tsunami. So it is safe to assume that the tricks will continue. Especially when one considers that as Mirko Coratti, head of Rome’s city council said on Wednesday, “A default of Italy’s capital city would trigger a chain reaction that could sweep across the national economy.” Well we can’t have that, especially not with everyone in Europe living with their head stuck in the sand of universal denial, assisted by the soothing lies of Mario Draghi and all the other European spin masters.” And just as expected, yesterday Rome was bailed out.

As Reuters reported, Matteo Renzi’s new Italian government on Friday approved an emergency decree to bail out Rome city council whose mayor had warned the capital would have to halt essential services unless it got financial help.

The decree transfers 570 million euros ($787 million) to the city to pay the salaries of municipal workers and ensure services such as public transport and garbage collection. Renzi, under pressure from critics who say Rome is getting favorable treatment, attached conditions to the bailout.

Rome must spell out how it will rein in its debt, justify its current levels of staff, seek more efficient ways of running its public services and sell off some of its real estate, the government decree said. Rome’s finances have been in a parlous state for years and it has debts of almost 14 billion euros which it plans to pay off gradually by 2048.

The city has around 25,000 employees of its own with another 30,000 or so working for some 20 municipal companies providing services running from electricity to garbage collection. ATAC, which runs the city’s loss-making buses and metros, employs more than 12,000 staff, almost as many as national airline Alitalia. Rome’s administrators say it needs help with extra costs associated with housing the central government, such as ensuring public order for political demonstrations, and to provide services for millions of tourists.

Here is the punchline, about Rome’s viability, not to mention Italy’s and Europe’s solvency:

The city of some 2.6 million people has been bailed out by the central government each year since 2008.

What is certain is that this year will not be the last one Rome is bailed out either. In fact, it will continue getting rescued for years to come because contrary to the propaganda, the Italian economy continues to get worse with every passing month, yields on Italian bonds notwithstanding.

Ansa reports that in January the Italian unemployment rate rose to a record 12.9%, and that “reducing Italy’s “shocking” rate of unemployment must be the government’s highest priority, Premier Matteo Renzi said Friday.” How, by pretending everything is ok, kicking the Roman can and hoping things improve by bailing out anyone that is insolvent?

Youth unemployment is particularly vicious, with an average rate of 42.4% in January for people aged 15-24, the highest since 1977, Istat reported on Friday. Reflecting the hard times, Istat also reported that the number of people in Italy who have given up the search for work is still growing. The so-called “discouraged”, who have surrendered to the idea that there is no hope of finding employment, reached an average of 1.79 million people in 2013, growing by 11.6% over the previous year.

Putting 2013 in perspective, this is the year when according to national statistical agency Istat, some 478,000 jobs were lost in Italy in 2013, the worst year since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, with an average annual jobless rate of 12.2% last year. The new year got off to an even more dismal start, with the January jobless rate up 0.2 percentage points over December, Istat said.

Between 2008 and 2013, a total of 984,000 jobs in Italy were lost to the economic crisis – something that is “shocking,” Renzi posted on his Twitter account during a meeting of his cabinet.

“Unemployment is at 12.9%. Shocking numbers, the highest for 35 years,” tweeted Renzi, who has previously described Italy’s unemployment rates as “merciless and devastating”.

And then comes the hope and prayer of change:

“That’s why the first measure will be the Jobs Act,” which Renzi, who formed his executive only one week ago, proposed last month before the leader of the Democratic Party (PD) became premier. Earlier this week, Renzi said he would have his labour reforms and job-boosting measures, based on the Jobs Act, ready before a bilateral summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel next month.

Fast action is needed promote business investment, improve labour market efficiency while cutting relevant taxes, Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti said after Friday’s cabinet meeting.

One of the main aims of Renzi’s Jobs Act would be to simplify Italy’s labour system, eliminating many parts of the current myriad of work contracts and lay-off benefits. A key proposal of the package Renzi announced last month, before unseating his PD colleague Enrico Letta as premier and taking the helm of government, is to have a single employment contract with job protection measures growing with seniority.

At present, older workers with regular contracts tend to enjoy extremely high levels of job protection, while young people are often forced to accept temporary contracts or other forms of freelance employment that guarantee them few rights and little job security. The current system has been blamed for making firms reluctant to hire, as it is so hard to dismiss workers once they are on the books, and contributing to the high levels of joblessness, especially among the young. Making the task for Renzi’s government more difficult are grim economic forecasts.

Earlier this week, the European Commission forecast growth in the Italian economy will be weaker this year than previously forecast and the country’s debt as a percentage of gross domestic product will rise in 2014. The EC revised down Italy’s 2014 growth forecast to 0.60% but said 2015 looks brighter, as stronger consumer confidence and external demand boost the economy. It also warned that the jobless rate this year will likely be worse than expected, lowering its forecast to an average 12.6% unemployment for 2014 due to weak labour market conditions and still sluggish demand.

Finally, if all of that fails, there is always war to grow insolvent economies in a Keynesian world. Such as the now annual attempt to stir conflit in the middla east, and, as of this week, Ukraine. Fingers crossed for Italy, and the rest of the “developed world” the Keynesian priests get what they have so long been hoping for.

Near-Bankrupt Rome Bailed Out As Italy Unemployment Rises To All Time High, Grows By Most On Record In 2013 | Zero Hedge

Near-Bankrupt Rome Bailed Out As Italy Unemployment Rises To All Time High, Grows By Most On Record In 2013 | Zero Hedge.

A few days ago, we reported that, seemingly out of the blue, the city of Rome was on the verge of a “Detroit-style bankruptcy.” In the article, Guido Guidesi, a parliamentarian from the Northern League, was quoted as saying “It’s time to stop the accounting tricks and declare Rome’s default.” Of course, that would be unthinkable: we said that if “if one stops the accounting tricks, not only Rome, but all of Europe, as well as the US and China would all be swept under a global bankruptcy tsunami. So it is safe to assume that the tricks will continue. Especially when one considers that as Mirko Coratti, head of Rome’s city council said on Wednesday, “A default of Italy’s capital city would trigger a chain reaction that could sweep across the national economy.” Well we can’t have that, especially not with everyone in Europe living with their head stuck in the sand of universal denial, assisted by the soothing lies of Mario Draghi and all the other European spin masters.” And just as expected, yesterday Rome was bailed out.

As Reuters reported, Matteo Renzi’s new Italian government on Friday approved an emergency decree to bail out Rome city council whose mayor had warned the capital would have to halt essential services unless it got financial help.

The decree transfers 570 million euros ($787 million) to the city to pay the salaries of municipal workers and ensure services such as public transport and garbage collection. Renzi, under pressure from critics who say Rome is getting favorable treatment, attached conditions to the bailout.

Rome must spell out how it will rein in its debt, justify its current levels of staff, seek more efficient ways of running its public services and sell off some of its real estate, the government decree said. Rome’s finances have been in a parlous state for years and it has debts of almost 14 billion euros which it plans to pay off gradually by 2048.

The city has around 25,000 employees of its own with another 30,000 or so working for some 20 municipal companies providing services running from electricity to garbage collection. ATAC, which runs the city’s loss-making buses and metros, employs more than 12,000 staff, almost as many as national airline Alitalia. Rome’s administrators say it needs help with extra costs associated with housing the central government, such as ensuring public order for political demonstrations, and to provide services for millions of tourists.

Here is the punchline, about Rome’s viability, not to mention Italy’s and Europe’s solvency:

The city of some 2.6 million people has been bailed out by the central government each year since 2008.

What is certain is that this year will not be the last one Rome is bailed out either. In fact, it will continue getting rescued for years to come because contrary to the propaganda, the Italian economy continues to get worse with every passing month, yields on Italian bonds notwithstanding.

Ansa reports that in January the Italian unemployment rate rose to a record 12.9%, and that “reducing Italy’s “shocking” rate of unemployment must be the government’s highest priority, Premier Matteo Renzi said Friday.” How, by pretending everything is ok, kicking the Roman can and hoping things improve by bailing out anyone that is insolvent?

Youth unemployment is particularly vicious, with an average rate of 42.4% in January for people aged 15-24, the highest since 1977, Istat reported on Friday. Reflecting the hard times, Istat also reported that the number of people in Italy who have given up the search for work is still growing. The so-called “discouraged”, who have surrendered to the idea that there is no hope of finding employment, reached an average of 1.79 million people in 2013, growing by 11.6% over the previous year.

Putting 2013 in perspective, this is the year when according to national statistical agency Istat, some 478,000 jobs were lost in Italy in 2013, the worst year since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, with an average annual jobless rate of 12.2% last year. The new year got off to an even more dismal start, with the January jobless rate up 0.2 percentage points over December, Istat said.

Between 2008 and 2013, a total of 984,000 jobs in Italy were lost to the economic crisis – something that is “shocking,” Renzi posted on his Twitter account during a meeting of his cabinet.

“Unemployment is at 12.9%. Shocking numbers, the highest for 35 years,” tweeted Renzi, who has previously described Italy’s unemployment rates as “merciless and devastating”.

And then comes the hope and prayer of change:

“That’s why the first measure will be the Jobs Act,” which Renzi, who formed his executive only one week ago, proposed last month before the leader of the Democratic Party (PD) became premier. Earlier this week, Renzi said he would have his labour reforms and job-boosting measures, based on the Jobs Act, ready before a bilateral summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel next month.

Fast action is needed promote business investment, improve labour market efficiency while cutting relevant taxes, Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti said after Friday’s cabinet meeting.

One of the main aims of Renzi’s Jobs Act would be to simplify Italy’s labour system, eliminating many parts of the current myriad of work contracts and lay-off benefits. A key proposal of the package Renzi announced last month, before unseating his PD colleague Enrico Letta as premier and taking the helm of government, is to have a single employment contract with job protection measures growing with seniority.

At present, older workers with regular contracts tend to enjoy extremely high levels of job protection, while young people are often forced to accept temporary contracts or other forms of freelance employment that guarantee them few rights and little job security. The current system has been blamed for making firms reluctant to hire, as it is so hard to dismiss workers once they are on the books, and contributing to the high levels of joblessness, especially among the young. Making the task for Renzi’s government more difficult are grim economic forecasts.

Earlier this week, the European Commission forecast growth in the Italian economy will be weaker this year than previously forecast and the country’s debt as a percentage of gross domestic product will rise in 2014. The EC revised down Italy’s 2014 growth forecast to 0.60% but said 2015 looks brighter, as stronger consumer confidence and external demand boost the economy. It also warned that the jobless rate this year will likely be worse than expected, lowering its forecast to an average 12.6% unemployment for 2014 due to weak labour market conditions and still sluggish demand.

Finally, if all of that fails, there is always war to grow insolvent economies in a Keynesian world. Such as the now annual attempt to stir conflit in the middla east, and, as of this week, Ukraine. Fingers crossed for Italy, and the rest of the “developed world” the Keynesian priests get what they have so long been hoping for.

Ukraine's Acting President Puts All Armed Forces On Full Combat Alert | Zero Hedge

Ukraine’s Acting President Puts All Armed Forces On Full Combat Alert | Zero Hedge.

In a stunning 24 hours, it now appears that Russia and the Ukraine are one formal announcement away from a state of war. From moments ago, as reported by Bloomberg:

  • UKRAINE ACTING PRESIDENT PUTS ALL FORCES ON FULL COMBAT ALERT

And this, as reported by the NYT, virtually assures the escalation to a hot war, as some provocation, somewhere will certainly take place: “a Ukrainian military official in Crimea said Ukrainian soldiers had been told to “open fire” if they came under attack by Russia troops or others.

From Reuters:

Ukraine put its armed forces on full combat alert on Saturday and warned Russia that any military intervention in the country would lead to war.

 

After a more than three-hour meeting with security and defence chiefs, Acting President Oleksander Turchinov said there was no justification for what he called Russian aggression against his country.

 

Standing beside Turchinov, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said he had urged Russia to return its troops to base in the Crimea region during a phone call with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and called for talks.

 

“Military intervention would be the beginning of war and the end of any relations between Ukraine and Russia,” Yatseniuk told reporters.

Finally, this:

  • Ukraine protects all Ukrainians, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov says in Kiev briefing.
  • Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk: “diverting funds for military”
  • Turchynov: untrue that Russians are under threat
  • Turchynov: no reason for Putin request
  • Turchynov calls for national unity
  • Yatsenyuk says to take all measures to ensure peace
  • Yatsenyuk: no reason for Russia to intervene in Ukraine

Too late.

Ukraine’s Acting President Puts All Armed Forces On Full Combat Alert | Zero Hedge

Ukraine’s Acting President Puts All Armed Forces On Full Combat Alert | Zero Hedge.

In a stunning 24 hours, it now appears that Russia and the Ukraine are one formal announcement away from a state of war. From moments ago, as reported by Bloomberg:

  • UKRAINE ACTING PRESIDENT PUTS ALL FORCES ON FULL COMBAT ALERT

And this, as reported by the NYT, virtually assures the escalation to a hot war, as some provocation, somewhere will certainly take place: “a Ukrainian military official in Crimea said Ukrainian soldiers had been told to “open fire” if they came under attack by Russia troops or others.

From Reuters:

Ukraine put its armed forces on full combat alert on Saturday and warned Russia that any military intervention in the country would lead to war.

 

After a more than three-hour meeting with security and defence chiefs, Acting President Oleksander Turchinov said there was no justification for what he called Russian aggression against his country.

 

Standing beside Turchinov, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said he had urged Russia to return its troops to base in the Crimea region during a phone call with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and called for talks.

 

“Military intervention would be the beginning of war and the end of any relations between Ukraine and Russia,” Yatseniuk told reporters.

Finally, this:

  • Ukraine protects all Ukrainians, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov says in Kiev briefing.
  • Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk: “diverting funds for military”
  • Turchynov: untrue that Russians are under threat
  • Turchynov: no reason for Putin request
  • Turchynov calls for national unity
  • Yatsenyuk says to take all measures to ensure peace
  • Yatsenyuk: no reason for Russia to intervene in Ukraine

Too late.

Russia vs Ukraine: The Infographic | Zero Hedge

Russia vs Ukraine: The Infographic | Zero Hedge.

Curious how Ukraine, which with its population of 44 million and size of 603,628 square km makes it the largest single country entirely in Europe, stacks up against Russia? The following infographic should answer some questions regarding the (im)balance of power.

And as a follow up, here is a map showing the location of the various sites of the Russian Navy in the Crimea. These will be the first sites to see a surge in Russian troop presence.

H/t @MrHalimi, @seanrussiablog

Russia vs Ukraine: The Infographic | Zero Hedge

Russia vs Ukraine: The Infographic | Zero Hedge.

Curious how Ukraine, which with its population of 44 million and size of 603,628 square km makes it the largest single country entirely in Europe, stacks up against Russia? The following infographic should answer some questions regarding the (im)balance of power.

And as a follow up, here is a map showing the location of the various sites of the Russian Navy in the Crimea. These will be the first sites to see a surge in Russian troop presence.

H/t @MrHalimi, @seanrussiablog

Britain Summons Russian Ambassador; Russian Ambassador To US May Be Recalled | Zero Hedge

Britain Summons Russian Ambassador; Russian Ambassador To US May Be Recalled | Zero Hedge.

While various organizations are scrambling to meet on short notice, or not so short if one is a European finance minister, the diplomatic fallout has begun with the summoning of the Russian Ambassador in Great Britain to the foreign office.

Russian Ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office over #Ukraine

— William Hague (@WilliamJHague) March 1, 2014

This was to be expected. More interest will be whether Russia will “summon” its ambassador to the US as the upper house of parliament has demanded of Putin:

Russia’s upper house of parliament will ask President Vladimir Putin to recall Moscow’s ambassador from the United States, the chamber’s speaker said on Saturday.

 

Valentina Matviyenko, the head of the Federation Council, asked the Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs to draw up a proposal setting out the demands to Putin.

Now all eyes are focused on the White House. Or perhaps that should say on the nearby golf courses?

Britain Summons Russian Ambassador; Russian Ambassador To US May Be Recalled | Zero Hedge

Britain Summons Russian Ambassador; Russian Ambassador To US May Be Recalled | Zero Hedge.

While various organizations are scrambling to meet on short notice, or not so short if one is a European finance minister, the diplomatic fallout has begun with the summoning of the Russian Ambassador in Great Britain to the foreign office.

Russian Ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office over #Ukraine

— William Hague (@WilliamJHague) March 1, 2014

This was to be expected. More interest will be whether Russia will “summon” its ambassador to the US as the upper house of parliament has demanded of Putin:

Russia’s upper house of parliament will ask President Vladimir Putin to recall Moscow’s ambassador from the United States, the chamber’s speaker said on Saturday.

 

Valentina Matviyenko, the head of the Federation Council, asked the Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs to draw up a proposal setting out the demands to Putin.

Now all eyes are focused on the White House. Or perhaps that should say on the nearby golf courses?

Pro-Russian Protesters Storm Kharkiv City Administration Building; Klitschko Calls For General Mobilization | Zero Hedge

Pro-Russian Protesters Storm Kharkiv City Administration Building; Klitschko Calls For General Mobilization | Zero Hedge.

Even as Russia has officially deployed its military to the Ukraine, its unofficial involvement in The Crimean was well known for days. A much more notable development would be if protesters in the pro-Russian eastern part of the country were to seize control of the second largest city in the Ukraine, Kharkiv, located just miles from the Russian border as this would quickly give Russia a foothold into the east of the nation with the tactical escalation abilities such a takeover would entail. Which is why the following clip of pro-Russian protesters storming the city administration in Kharkiv is of importance: should Ukraine lose control of the city, or is forced to use troops against the people, it would be just the pretext Russia needs to “defend” citizens in this part of the country, the same argument it used for military intervention in the Crimean.

And in other news, Ukrainian boxer, vocal leader of the EuroMeidan opposition movement and potential future president, Vitali Klitschko just called for a general mobilization. After all he has the most to lose if the countercoup quickly sweeps away from power those who organized the original coup in the first place. From Reuters:

Vitaly Klitschko, a senior Ukrainian politician and likely presidential candidate, called on Saturday for a “general mobilisation” following Russian parliament’s decision to approve deploying troops in Ukraine’s Crimea region.

 

“Klitschko calls for a declaration on a general mobilisation,” the retired boxing champion’s political party UDAR (Punch) said, making clear he favoured a military mobilisation.

Finally, the world’s most useless organizations, the UN and European finance ministers, are pretending to be relevant:

  • UN SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET 2PM TODAY TO DISCUSS UKRAINE
  • EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS TO HOLD EMERGENCY MEETING ON UKRAINE IN BRUSSELS ON MONDAY -EU DIPLOMAT

Time for another Obama appearance to explain just what the “costs” that he mentioned are in his opinion. Because Putin seems to have missed the message.

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