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Spanish ‘Anti-Austerity’ Protesters “Sick Of This System They Call Democracy” | Zero Hedge

Spanish ‘Anti-Austerity’ Protesters “Sick Of This System They Call Democracy” | Zero Hedge.

logo

“I’m here to fight for my children’s future,” exclaims one father as Spaniards rallied in Madrid against poverty and EU-imposed austerity. As Reuters reports, the largely peaceful protest latermarred by violent clashes in which police fired rubber bullets. The so-called “Dignity Marches” brought hundreds of thousands to the capital with banners making it clear what their feelings about record 26% unemployment were – “Bread, jobs and housing for everyone” and “Corruption and robbery, Spain’s trademark.” One protester summed up the people’s views of the government,“I’m sick of this system they call democracy… I want things to change.”

 

 

 

Via Reuters,

The so-called “Dignity Marches” brought hundreds of thousands to the capital, according to estimates of Reuters witnesses. Travelling from all over Spain, they were protesting in support of more than 160 different causes, including jobs, housing, health, education and an end to poverty.

 

 

…Spaniards rallied in Madrid on Saturday against poverty and EU-imposed austerity in a largely peaceful protest later marred by violent clashes in which police fired rubber bullets.

 

 

Some protesters started to throw stones and bottles at the large numbers of riot police present and attacked cashpoints and hoardings. The police fired rubber bullets to disperse them, according to video footage seen by Reuters.

Central government representative Cristina Cifuentes said 19 protesters had been arrested and 50 police officers had been injured, one of them very badly, in the clashes.

Once again the issue is government corruption combined with austerity (or at least slowing growth in spending to be perfectly clear) – a combination that we have discussed numerous times tends to end in social unrest…

A housing bubble burst more than five years ago, forcing a 41-billion euro ($56 billion) bailout of Spain’s banks, squeezing homeowners and throwing millions out of work.

 

 

The government introduced public sector austerity to whittle down the deficit, provoking widespread anger amongst middle- and low-income families as dozens of cases of corruption in the ruling class are investigated by judges.

The people’s feelings were clear as the OECD says the economic crisis has hit Spain’s poor harder than in any other country in the euro region.

Banners urged the conservative government not to pay its international debts and to tackle Spain’s chronically high unemployment of 26 percent.

 

Bread, jobs and housing for everyone“, read one banner, “Corruption and robbery, Spain’s trademark,” said another.

 

I’m here to fight for my children’s future,” said Michael Nadeau, a 44-year-old entrepreneur.

 

For those who are in power we’re just numbers. They value money more than they value people,” he said, shouting to be heard above the din of chanting, whistling and drumming.

 

“(I’m here because) I’m sick of this system they call democracy,” said Jose Luis Arteaga, a 58-year-old teacher whose wage has been cut 20 percent. “I want things to change.”

It seems that almost record low bond yields and high stock market levels did not appease the people of Spain either…Time for that IMG income inequality equalizing wealth redsitriburion it would seem…

Spanish 'Anti-Austerity' Protesters "Sick Of This System They Call Democracy" | Zero Hedge

Spanish ‘Anti-Austerity’ Protesters “Sick Of This System They Call Democracy” | Zero Hedge.

logo

“I’m here to fight for my children’s future,” exclaims one father as Spaniards rallied in Madrid against poverty and EU-imposed austerity. As Reuters reports, the largely peaceful protest latermarred by violent clashes in which police fired rubber bullets. The so-called “Dignity Marches” brought hundreds of thousands to the capital with banners making it clear what their feelings about record 26% unemployment were – “Bread, jobs and housing for everyone” and “Corruption and robbery, Spain’s trademark.” One protester summed up the people’s views of the government,“I’m sick of this system they call democracy… I want things to change.”

 

 

 

Via Reuters,

The so-called “Dignity Marches” brought hundreds of thousands to the capital, according to estimates of Reuters witnesses. Travelling from all over Spain, they were protesting in support of more than 160 different causes, including jobs, housing, health, education and an end to poverty.

 

 

…Spaniards rallied in Madrid on Saturday against poverty and EU-imposed austerity in a largely peaceful protest later marred by violent clashes in which police fired rubber bullets.

 

 

Some protesters started to throw stones and bottles at the large numbers of riot police present and attacked cashpoints and hoardings. The police fired rubber bullets to disperse them, according to video footage seen by Reuters.

Central government representative Cristina Cifuentes said 19 protesters had been arrested and 50 police officers had been injured, one of them very badly, in the clashes.

Once again the issue is government corruption combined with austerity (or at least slowing growth in spending to be perfectly clear) – a combination that we have discussed numerous times tends to end in social unrest…

A housing bubble burst more than five years ago, forcing a 41-billion euro ($56 billion) bailout of Spain’s banks, squeezing homeowners and throwing millions out of work.

 

 

The government introduced public sector austerity to whittle down the deficit, provoking widespread anger amongst middle- and low-income families as dozens of cases of corruption in the ruling class are investigated by judges.

The people’s feelings were clear as the OECD says the economic crisis has hit Spain’s poor harder than in any other country in the euro region.

Banners urged the conservative government not to pay its international debts and to tackle Spain’s chronically high unemployment of 26 percent.

 

Bread, jobs and housing for everyone“, read one banner, “Corruption and robbery, Spain’s trademark,” said another.

 

I’m here to fight for my children’s future,” said Michael Nadeau, a 44-year-old entrepreneur.

 

For those who are in power we’re just numbers. They value money more than they value people,” he said, shouting to be heard above the din of chanting, whistling and drumming.

 

“(I’m here because) I’m sick of this system they call democracy,” said Jose Luis Arteaga, a 58-year-old teacher whose wage has been cut 20 percent. “I want things to change.”

It seems that almost record low bond yields and high stock market levels did not appease the people of Spain either…Time for that IMG income inequality equalizing wealth redsitriburion it would seem…

New Internet law in Turkey sparks outrage – Features – Al Jazeera English

New Internet law in Turkey sparks outrage – Features – Al Jazeera English.

Controversial web controls implemented after phone-recording leaks raise questions and stoke public anger.

 Last updated: 25 Feb 2014 13:10

Street protests and anti-censorship campaigns have been launched to oppose Turkey’s internet law [AFP]
Turkey’s new law tightening the state’s grip on the Internet has gone into force after President Abdullah Gul approved the controversial legislation pushed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.The legislation changes Turkey’s original 2007 Internet law, and has sparked street protests and various public campaigns against the new online controls.

The conservative government has rejected claims that the law will lead to censorship, arguing instead that it aims at protecting individual rights and privacy. “There is no censorship on the Internet. Freedoms are not restricted. We are only taking precautions against blackmail and immorality,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said.

“If the Internet and computers are not used in a proper way under certain monitoring and order, they do not constitute beneficial or educational tools anymore. Instead, they turn into dangers with bitter results.”

Last year’s Gezi Park protests against the Turkish government were largely organised through social media, which Erdogan at the time called “the worst menace to society“.

#UnFollowAbdullahGul

A Twitter campaign – #UnFollowAbdullahGul – was launched after Turkey’s tech-savvy president approved the proposed Internet bill, despite his expressed concerns. His follower count dropped by more than 100,000 in two days last week.

In another campaign named #4Saat (“four hours” in Turkish), liberal newspaper Radikal started self-censoring various news stories on its website every four hours – the time needed to block a URL under the new administrative process – to protest against the legislation.

Critics of the new law organised several protests

Eyup Can, the editor-in-chief of Radikal, told Al Jazeera the digital campaign aims at providing the Turkish public with a better understanding of the new law.

“As the legislation is highly technical both in terms of law and technology, sometimes it is not easy for the public to understand. We wanted to display the practical future outcomes of the law and make the Turkish public grasp what changes it would make in our lives,” he said.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP), the main opposition party, has repeatedly declared it would take the legislation to the Constitutional Court.

“The AKP government, striving to restrict freedom in every domain, is stepping up its pressure on the Internet, which is becoming increasingly important in our daily lives,” CHP said in a statement.

Turkey is an Internet-savvy country with 21.9 million broadband Internet subscriptions as of last September, according to a report by Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority. There are 68.4 million mobile-phone subscriptions and 47.5 million 3G subscriptions in a country with 75 million people.

The European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations have expressed concern over the legislation, along with rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

A similar bill proposed by the government in 2011 was shelved following mass street protests. This time, however, the government decided to go forward despite a similar reaction.

What is new?

The legislation allows Turkey’s telecommunications authority (TIB) to block websites without first obtaining a court order. With a complaint filed for breach of “privacy of persons”, TIB has the power to order the blocking of a URL, which will be carried out by Internet service providers within four hours.

A court order must then be sought by the telecommunications authority within 24 hours. However, the web page remains offline until the court makes a decision.

The president of the TIB can also block URLs without complaints having been filed, if prospective plaintiffs are not capable of applying, or if a delay could cause “irreversible consequences”.

Gokhan Ahi, a lawyer and lecturer specialising in Internet law, told Al Jazeera the TIB could use its newly given authority anyway it sees fit. “Will it monitor delays of complaints [over breaches of privacy] for every citizen, or only for the government? By law, this institution works under the jurisdiction of the government, and it would carry out any written order from it to block a web page when it has such a power,” Ahi said.

Blocking web pages immediately after complaints are lodged creates a legal basis to sweep news reports and other online information under the carpet, Ahi said, pointing out that the ensuing court process ensures the URLs stay blocked for some time.

The rush of phone recordings to the Internet is so disgusting that, I believe, accelerating the legal decision-making mechanism [for blocking URLs] is in line with the principle of right to privacy.- Hilal Kaplan, columnist

Data will be stored

The law also requires Internet service providers to collect all data on web users’ activities for up to two years, and to provide authorities with the data in question on demand.

Users’ information on Internet traffic will be collected based on IP and subscriber numbers, instead of URLs, which was criticised as being more intrusive. The collected data will only be accessible by court order.

The law allows single URLs to be blocked, as opposed to entire websites, as directed by the old legislation. The blocking of YouTube from 2007 until 2010 for videos insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, was a significant example of that.

It also removes prison sentences for content and access providers who violate the law, which was a big obstacle for foreign investors in the sector. However, prison sentences can still be handed down if violators do not pay fines they incur under the law.

According to Can of Radikal, there is nothing wrong with regulating the Internet as long as it doesn’t restrict freedom of information.

“Through this law, the job [to block web pages] has been left to the initiative of a public employee heading a state institution, and this creates an arbitrary situation,” Can said.

Leaked recordings

The swift adoption of the new Internet law comes after the online leak of phone recordings that allegedly document corruption in state tenders and bribery involving businessmen and the Turkish government.

The latest recording, which was leaked on Monday, purports to be a conversation between Erdogan and his son Bilal, in which the prime minister asked him to move money from his and his relatives’ homes. Bilal supposedly said in the recording that some 30m euros ($41m) still remain to be disposed of. The prime minister has said the recording is fake.

Other recordings have revealed Erdogan’s direct intervention in mainstream media coverage. He confirmed one of these conversations at a recent press conference.

Some of these recordings were released through court orders and publicised by the CHP, the main opposition party. Others were leaked anonymously on social media and video-sharing websites, and their authenticity has not been challenged by the government.

Listening Post: Turkey’s media pressure points

In mid-December, the government was hit by unexpected and comprehensive corruption probes, mainly targeting the sons of ministers, bureaucrats and prominent businesspeople.

The government alleged the investigations were organised by a “parallel state”, an apparent reference to Gulen, a religious group formerly allied with the AKP whose followers are widely believed to wield significant influence over Turkey’s police and judiciary.

Erdogan linked the phone leaks several times to the Gulen Movement.

The government’s reaction to the corruption investigations was to initiate a country-wide comprehensive reshuffling in the Turkish Police Forces, which, according to media reports, halted a planned second and third wave of detentions. Prosecutors who launched the investigations were removed, and the AKP-dominated parliament recently adopted a new law increasing its influence over the judiciary.

Hilal Kaplan, a pro-government columnist for the Yeni Safak daily, linked the revamped Internet law to the recent phone leaks. “The rush of phone recordings to the Internet is so disgusting that, I believe, accelerating the legal decision-making mechanism [for blocking URLs] is in line with the principle of right to privacy protected by Article 20 of the constitution,” she recently wrote.

The government has rejected any link between the phone leaks and the new legislation, saying it had worked on the text of the law for the past two years.

Radikal’s editor Can disagreed, however, saying the leaked recordings had spurred the government to push through the new Internet controls before local elections scheduled for March 30.

“The government would not bring the bill to the parliament this fast if it was not for the recent developments. It is an issue that should have been widely discussed in the country, as there are no certain global norms about the use of the Internet,” he said.

Follow Umut Uras on Twitter: @Thriceee

IMF report: ‘Debt is good’. What are these people smoking?

IMF report: ‘Debt is good’. What are these people smoking?.

February 18, 2014
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile

Probably every kid in the world has at some point dreamed of having a time machine and being able to travel back to the past… usually to see dinosaurs or something like that.

Time travel is an almost universal fantasy. And if I could snap my fingers and turn the pages of time, I’d be seriously curious to check out the thousand-year period between the decline of the Western Roman Empire and the rise of the Renaissance.

They used to refer to this period as ‘the Dark Ages’ (though historians have since given up that moniker), a time when the entire European continent was practically at an intellectual standstill.

The Church became THE authority on everything– Science. Technology. Medicine. Education. And they kept the most vital information out of the hands of the people… instead simply telling everyone what to believe.

People living in that time had to trust that the high priests were smart guys and knew what they were talking about.

Interpreting facts and observations for yourself was heresy, and anyone who formed original thought and challenged the authority of church and state was burned at the stake.

Granted, human civilization has come a long way since then. But the basic building blocks are not terribly different than before.

Anyone who challenges the state is still burned at the stake. And our entire monetary system requires that we all trust the high priests of central banking and economics. Those that stray from the state’s message and spread economic heresy are cast down and vilified.

You may recall the case of Harvard professors Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart who wrote the seminal work: “This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly”.

The book highlighted dozens of shocking historical patterns where once powerful nations accumulated too much debt and entered into terminal decline.

Spain, for example, defaulted on its debt six times between 1500 and 1800, then another seven times in the 19th century alone.

France defaulted on its debt EIGHT times between 1500 and 1800, including on the eve of the French Revolution in 1788. And Greece has defaulted five times since 1800.

The premise of their book was very simple: debt is bad. And when nations rack up too much of it, they get into serious trouble.

This message was not terribly convenient for governments that have racked up unprecedented levels of debt. So critics found some calculation errors in their Excel formulas, and the two professors were very publicly discredited.

Afterwards, it was as if the entire idea of debt being bad simply vanished.

Not to worry, though, the IMF has now stepped up with a work of its own to fill the void.

And surprise, surprise, their new paper “[does] not identify any clear debt threshold above which medium-term growth prospects are dramatically compromised.”

Translation: Keep racking up that debt, boys and girls, it’s nothing but smooth sailing ahead.

But that’s not all. They go much further, suggesting that once a nation reaches VERY HIGH levels of debt, there is even LESS of a correlation between debt and growth.

Clearly this is the problem for Europe and the US: $17 trillion? Pish posh. The economy will really be on fire once the debt hits $20 trillion.

There’s just one minor caveat. The IMF admits that they had to invent a completely different method to arrive to their conclusions, and that “caution should be used in the interpretation of our empirical results.”

But such details are not important.

What is important is that the economic high priests have proven once and for all that there are absolutely no consequences for countries who are deeply in debt.

And rather than pontificate what these people are smoking, we should all fall in line with unquestionable belief and devotion to their supreme wisdom.

Spanish Bad Loans Hit Record; Surge Most In A Year | Zero Hedge

Spanish Bad Loans Hit Record; Surge Most In A Year | Zero Hedge.

With Spanish sovereign bond yields hitting record lows – marginally above those of the US – one might be surprised to learn that unemployment is at record highs, suicide rates are at record highs, youth joblessness is at record highs, and now, to top it all off, Spanish bad loans are at record highs once again (at 13.6% of all loans). Of course, not deterred by the uncomfortable reality, Economy Minister Guindos is out in full propaganda mode:

  • *GUINDOS SAYS BAD LOANS RATIO SEEN MODERATING IN NEXT QTRS

However, given the 17.7% rise in the last 12 months – the most in a year – we are struggling to see signs of the turning point he is so confident of.

The data – Guidos argues – reflects “recognition of reality” in what seems like an admission that all the spin and hoopla about marginal improvements til now have been based on entirely unreal data…

Did Spanish banks kitchen sink it? We highly doubt it as unemployment levels strongly suggest the worst is yet to come.

Charts: Bloomberg

EU report: Corruption widespread in the bloc – Europe – Al Jazeera English

EU report: Corruption widespread in the bloc – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

Corruption affects all 28 member countries of the European Union and costs their economies about $162.19bn (120bn Euros) a year, according to an European Union report.

The report, the EU’s first on corruption, was issued on Monday by Cecilia Malmstrom, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, the AP news agency reported.

Malmstrom said in a statement that “corruption undermines citizens’ confidence in democratic institutions and the result of law, it hurts the European economy and deprives states of much-needed tax revenue.

Member states have done a lot in recent years to fight corruption, but today’s report shows that it is far from enough

Cecilia Malmstrom, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs

“Member states have done a lot in recent years to fight corruption, but today’s report shows that it is far from enough.”

The report said that an increasing number of EU citizens, who were surveyed as part of the report, thought it was getting worse.

Almost all companies in Greece, Spain and Italy believe it is widespread and, among businesses, belief is widespread that the only way to succeed is through political connections.

Corruption is considered rare in Denmark, Finland and Sweden, according to the report, a finding that reflects the work of Transparency International’s corruption perception index. It named Greece as the worst performer in the EU, sharing 80th place with China. Denmark was seen as the least corrupt.

Construction companies, which often tender for government contracts, are the most affected. Almost eight in ten of those asked complained about corruption.

Overall, 43 percent of companies see corruption as a problem. The cost to the European economy is almost equivalent to the size of the Romanian economy.

Corruption is commonplace

Eight out of ten EU citizens believe that close links between business and politics lead to corruption.

“Europe’s problem is not so much with small bribes on the whole,” Carl Dolan of Transparency International in Brussels, told Reuters. “It’s with the ties between the political class and industry.”

“There has been a failure to regulate politicians’ conflicts of interest in dealing with business,” he said.

“The rewards for favouring companies, in allocating contracts or making changes to legislation, are positions in the private sector when they have left office rather than a bribe.”

European Commission: the level of corruption across the EU is ‘breathtaking’

The European Commission recommended better controls and a redoubling of enforcement.

The report was published shortly after Romania’s former prime minister, Adrian Nastase, was sent to jail for four years for taking bribes. He was the first prime minister to be put behind bars since the collapse of communism in Europe in 1989.

The EU has repeatedly raised concerns about a failure to tackle corruption at high-level in Romania and Bulgaria, the bloc’s two poorest members. They have been blocked from joining the passport-free Schengen zone over the issue since their entry.

In October 2012, former European Health Commissioner John Dalli was forced to quit after an associate was accused of asking for 60 million euros from a tobacco company in return for influencing EU tobacco law.

Celente Warns Of Coming Riots: “The Collapse Is Engulfing The World”

Celente Warns Of Coming Riots: “The Collapse Is Engulfing The World”.

riots-engulf-world

He accurately predicted the trends that have shaped the last decade. Ahead of the collapse of 2008 his Trends Journal newsletter issued a forecast that stock markets, which had just hit all time highs, would buckle in the first quarter of the year and that an unprecedented recession would blanket the global economy. He said the decline in  financial markets would then be followed by disillusionment in America’s political and economic systems, leading to the rise of a third-party and widespread protests across America. And while officials the country over tried to assuage fears in the populace, he cautioned that the middle class would continue to be destroyed through taxation, regulation and fiscal incompetence.

His foresight was 20/20.

Now, renowned trend forecaster Gerald Celente warns that, despite establishment claims of recovery and growth, things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Celente isn’t suggesting that a massive collapse is going to happen in the future.

He says we’re already in it – and it’s taking hold right before our eyes across the entirety of the globe:

This selloff in the emerging markets, with their currencies going down and their interest rates going up, it’s going to be disastrous and there are going to be riots everywhere…

So as the decline in their economies accelerates, you are going to see the civil unrest intensify.

If you want to know a business that will thrive in 2014, it may well beguillotines because these are ‘Off with their heads’ moments.

Meanwhile, they just passed laws in Spain to stop people from protesting.  But all the laws in the world do not feed starving people. All the laws in the world do not put roofs over people’s heads. 

That’s why you are going to see heads roll.

you can already see chaos engulfing the world as the Fed’s global financial scheme is collapsing.  This collapse is engulfing the entire world, from Russia, to South Africa, into China and emerging markets across the globe. 

Full Interview at King World News (also available in audio broadcast)
via Steve Quayle

Should protesters in the U.S. threaten the status quo in any way they will be dealt with like the people who took to the streets in the Ukraine, Egypt, Iran, and Greece.

In fact, a Federal court recently upheld Congressional legislation passed in 2012 that allowed the herding of protestors into so-called “free speech” zones, and to charge those who assemble at “official functions” designated as areas of “national significance” with federal crimes punishable by one year in prison.

Under that verbiage, that means a peaceful protest outside a candidate’s concession speech would be a federal offense…

Carefully controlled protests involving individuals who have been bused in by their respective political party or union leaders are often televised by the mainstream media in an effort to give Americans a false sense of freedom.

When these protests turn to uprising and riots because millions of people can no longer keep a roof over their heads or food in their bellies, you can bet that those involved will be dealt with swiftly and behind the cloak of terrorism secrecy laws like the National Defense Authorization Act which essentially gives the government the right to detain anyone, for any reason, for an indefinite amount of time.

But the real question here is, why would the government need laws like this?

Why would they be war-gaming and simulating economic collapse scenarios and civil unrest?

Why are they continuing to borrow trillions of dollars from foreign creditors and injecting the domestic economy with tens of billions of dollars on a monthly basis?

The only plausible answer, given the current economic climate in America and sentiment on Main Street, is that the authorities at the highest levels of our government know that something very bad could happen.

And they confirmed this in two letters issued by two different Treasury Secretaries over the last several years. Most recently, the Treasury department noted that failure to satiate our nation’s never ending appetite for debt would have a “catastrophic effect” on our economy:

Credit markets could freeze, the value of the dollar could plummet, US interest rates could skyrocket, the negative spillovers could reverberate around the world, and there might be a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.

Not only might the economic consequences of default be profound, but those consequences, including high interest rates, reduced investment, higher debt payments, and slow economic growth, could last for more than a generation…

The fall-out from our current economic climate is going to be unprecedented. For those who deny this is happening, understand that the above warning comes directly from our Treasury Department. They’re the money guys. And they are telling us what’s going to happen.

And be assured it won’t just be stock markets that drop precipitously.

What we’re talking about here is the collapse of the economy of the United States of America – the richest nation on Earth. 

The consequences will be devastating on every level and those of us on Main Street will be taking the brunt of the impact.

Imagine a situation where jobs continue to be shed by the hundreds of thousands every month without abatement. A situation where the price of basic essentials like energy and food rise without restraint. A situation where medical care is so expensive that average Americans will go bankrupt trying to pay for government mandated coverage. A situation where whatever money you do have in savings becomes worthless because our currency loses credibility around the world.

This is what’s happening right now.

The scary version: There is no way to turn this around. It’s just going to get progressively worse.

If you haven’t taken steps to prepare – to insulate yourself for an economic end of the world as we know it – then life for you and your family is going to be horrific.

This is the depression.

Europe’s Modest Proposal To End Unemployment: Slavery | Zero Hedge

Europe’s Modest Proposal To End Unemployment: Slavery | Zero Hedge.

Having spent weeks talking amongst themselves about the chronic and dangerous rise of youth unemployment in Europe (as we warned here), the Center of planning and Economic Research in Greece has proposed a controversial measure. As GreekReporter reports, the measure includes unpaid work for the young and unemployed up to 24 years old, so that companies would have a strong motive to hire young employees. “Unpaid” work sounds a lot like slavery to us… but it gets better; the report also suggested “exporting young unemployed persons.” No comment…

 

Europe’s youth unemployment problem is epic – 24.4% of Europe’s under-25 population is unemployed

 

 

GreekReporter notes the solution to Greece’s problems

Centre of planning and Economic Research in Greece has proposed a controversial measure in order to deal with the problem of increasing unemployment in the country.

 

The measure includes unpaid work for the young and unemployed up to 24 years old, so that companies would have a strong motive to hire young employees. Practically, what is proposed is the abolition of the basic salary for a year. At the same time the “export” of young unemployed persons was also proposed to other countries abroad, as Greek businesses do not appear able to hire new personnel.

 

According to the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce, unemployment especially hits the ages between 15-24. The unemployment rate in Greece stands at 24.6% while 57.2% of young people are without a job. The majority of the unemployed (71%) have had no work for 12 months or more, while 23.3 % of the total have never worked. There were 3,635,905 people employed and 1,345,387 unemployed.

Whether it’s Europe in the 1930’s or the US during the same period (conflicts between strikers, the National Guard and armed militias), unemployment can create a powerful cocktail of unrest.

 

But turning your nation’s young into slaves does not seem like a good solution to us…

Iran, Russia Ruffle US Feathers With Oil-Swap Deal | Zero Hedge

Iran, Russia Ruffle US Feathers With Oil-Swap Deal | Zero Hedge.

This morning’s apparent U-turn in US-Iran relations – when the US demanded the UN rescind Iran’s invite to the Syrian peace conference having somewhat instigated their invitation in the first place – is a little confusing for some. However, as OilPrice’s Joao Peixe points out, reports are emerging that Iran and Russia are in talks about a potential $1.5 billion oil-for-goods swap that is sure to upset the powers that be in Washington.

 

Submitted by Joao Peixe via OilPrice.com,

Reports are emerging that Iran and Russia are in talks about a potential $1.5 billion oil-for-goods swap that could boost Iranian oil exports, prompting harsh responses from Washington, which says such a deal could trigger new US sanctions.

 

So far, talks are progressing to the point that Russia could purchase up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goodsaccording to Reuters.

 

“We are concerned about these reports and Secretary (of State John) Kerry directly expressed this concern with (Russian) Foreign Minister (Sergei) Lavrov…  If the reports are true, such a deal would raise serious concerns as it would be inconsistent with the terms of the P5+1 agreement with Iran and could potentially trigger US sanctions,” Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, told Reuters.

 

Russian purchases of 500,000 bpd of Iranian crude would lift Iran’s oil exports by 50% and infuse the struggling economy with some $1.5 billion a month, some sources say.

 

Since sanctions were slapped on Iran in July 2012, exports have fallen by half and Iran is losing up to $5 billion per moth is revenues.

 

In the meantime, a nuclear agreement reached in November with Iran and world powers is in the process of being finalized, and the news of the potential Russian-Iranian oil swap deal plays to the hands of Iran hawks in Washington who are keen to seen the November agreement collapse.

 

The November agreement is a six-month deal to lift some trade sanctions if Tehran curtailed its nuclear program. Technical talks on the agreement began last week.

Under the terms of the tentative November nuclear agreement, Iran will be allowed to export only 1 million barrels of oil per day.

 

In mid-December, Iranian oil officials indicated that they hoped to resume previous production and export levels and would hold talks with international companies to that end.

 

This announcement sparked an immediate reaction from US Congress, which has threatened oil companies with “severe financial penalties” if they resume business with Iran “prematurely” following the six-month agreement reached in Geneva.

 

There are plenty of figures in Congress—Republican and Democratic alike—who are opposed to the deal. The key “Iran hawk” in US Congress, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, has described the deal as “so far away from what the end game should look like”, which should be to “stop enrichment”.

 

The opposition in this case believes any talk between Tehran and Western oil companies is premature because they are convinced that we won’t see a comprehensive resolution after the six-month period, and that sanctions will be laid on stronger than ever before.

Yet again, it would seem, Iran is another proxy pissing match between the US and Russia… and remember, nothing lasts forever...

 

Oxfam: 85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world | Business | theguardian.com

Oxfam: 85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world | Business | theguardian.com.

The InterContinental Davos luxury hotel in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos

The InterContinental Davos luxury hotel in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos. Oxfam report found people in countries around the world believe that the rich have too much influence over the direction their country is heading. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/REUTERS

The world’s wealthiest people aren’t known for travelling by bus, but if they fancied a change of scene then the richest 85 people on the globe – who between them control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together – could squeeze onto a single double-decker.

The extent to which so much global wealth has become corralled by a virtual handful of the so-called ‘global elite’ is exposed in a new report from Oxfam on Monday. It warned that those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1tn, as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world’s population.

Working for the Few - Oxfam reportSource: F. Alvaredo, A. B. Atkinson, T. Piketty and E. Saez, (2013) ‘The World Top Incomes Database’, http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/ Only includes countries with data in 1980 and later than 2008. Photograph: OxfamThe wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110tn (£60.88tn), or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world, added the development charity, which fears this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions.

It’s a chilling reminder of the depths of wealth inequality as political leaders and top business people head to the snowy peaks of Davos for this week’s World Economic Forum. Few, if any, will be arriving on anything as common as a bus, with private jets and helicoptors pressed into service as many of the world’s most powerful people convene to discuss the state of the global economy over four hectic days of meetings, seminars and parties in the exclusive ski resort.

Winnie Byanyima, the Oxfam executive director who will attend the Davos meetings, said: “It is staggering that in the 21st Century, half of the world’s population – that’s three and a half billion people – own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus.”

Oxfam also argues that this is no accident either, saying growing inequality has been driven by a “power grab” by wealthy elites, who have co-opted the political process to rig the rules of the economic system in their favour.

In the report, entitled Working For The Few (summary here), Oxfam warned that the fight against poverty cannot be won until wealth inequality has been tackled.

“Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table,” Byanyima said.

Oxfam called on attendees at this week’s World Economic Forum to take a personal pledge to tackle the problem by refraining from dodging taxes or using their wealth to seek political favours.

As well as being morally dubious, economic inequality can also exacerbate other social problems such as gender inequality, Oxfam warned. Davos itself is also struggling in this area, with the number of female delegates actually dropping from 17% in 2013 to 15% this year.

How richest use their wealth to capture opportunites

Polling for Oxfam’s report found people in countries around the world – including two-thirds of those questioned in Britain – believe that the rich have too much influence over the direction their country is heading.

Byanyima explained:

“In developed and developing countries alike we are increasingly living in a world where the lowest tax rates, the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given not just to the rich but also to their children.

“Without a concerted effort to tackle inequality, the cascade of privilege and of disadvantage will continue down the generations. We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream. In too many countries economic growth already amounts to little more than a ‘winner takes all’ windfall for the richest.”

Working for the Few - Oxfam reportSource: F. Alvaredo, A. B. Atkinson, T. Piketty and E. Saez, (2013) ‘The World Top Incomes Database’, http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/ Only includes countries with data in 1980 and later than 2008. Photograph: OxfamThe Oxfam report found that over the past few decades, the rich have successfully wielded political influence to skew policies in their favour on issues ranging from financial deregulation, tax havens, anti-competitive business practices to lower tax rates on high incomes and cuts in public services for the majority. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available, said the report.

This “capture of opportunities” by the rich at the expense of the poor and middle classes has led to a situation where 70% of the world’s population live in countries where inequality has increased since the 1980s and 1% of families own 46% of global wealth – almost £70tn.

Opinion polls in Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the US, UK and Netherlands found that a majority in each country believe that wealthy people exert too much influence. Concern was strongest in Spain, followed by Brazil and India and least marked in the Netherlands.

In the UK, some 67% agreed that “the rich have too much influence over where this country is headed” – 37% saying that they agreed “strongly” with the statement – against just 10% who disagreed, 2% of them strongly.

The WEF’s own Global Risks report recently identified widening income disparities as one of the biggest threats to the world community.

Oxfam is calling on those gathered at WEF to pledge: to support progressive taxation and not dodge their own taxes; refrain from using their wealth to seek political favours that undermine the democratic will of their fellow citizens; make public all investments in companies and trusts for which they are the ultimate beneficial owners; challenge governments to use tax revenue to provide universal healthcare, education and social protection; demand a living wage in all companies they own or control; and challenge other members of the economic elite to join them in these pledges.

• Research Now questioned 1,166 adults in the UK for Oxfam between October 1 and 14 2013.

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