Monday, November 28, 2011

Saving the Best For Last


"Young Palestinian activists put forth a bolder agenda" November 13, 2011|By Joel Greenberg, Washington Post

RAMALLAH, West Bank - When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas returned home to a hero’s welcome after applying for United Nations membership for a Palestinian state, Hurriyah Ziada was not moved to join the celebration.

A 22-year-old university student who is active in protesting the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, Ziada is skeptical that the statehood bid will bring any tangible change.

Disillusioned with her leaders after years of fruitless talks with Israel and uninspired by the prospect of symbolic UN recognition, Ziada is part of a loose network of young activists who represent a potential new force in Palestinian society and politics. 


"I simply oppose it because I was never asked what I want as a Palestinian. I was marginalised like millions of Palestinians"

A still-undefined, embryonic group of a few hundred across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the activists made their mark by organizing protests that peaked in March. Demanding unity between the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, the demonstrations reflected disenchantment with both parties. The result was a reconciliation accord between the factions a few weeks later, although steps to carry out the pact have stalled.

To Ziada and her cohorts, the Palestinian Authority’s bid for recognition of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem, is a shriveled vision of what Palestinians at home and in the diaspora deserve. Although the main struggle, for Ziada, is against Israeli occupation, she also opposes what she views as the limited political horizons of the Palestinian leadership.

“We have to start a revolution,’’ she said, “so people can take their freedom in their hands. If the Palestinian Authority will not stand in the way, we don’t have a problem with them. But we can’t settle for the current situation.’’

Abbas’s vision of negotiating the creation of a Palestinian state in areas occupied by Israel in 1967 is seen by Ziada and other youth activists as inadequate. They talk about human and civil rights, not territory, as the basis for their struggle.

“I don’t care so much about land as about gaining my own basic rights,’’ said Ziada, whose first name means freedom.

She and other activists envision a campaign similar to the American civil rights movement and the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. Their vision extends to Palestinian refugees in neighboring Arab countries and Israeli Arabs.

In the activists’ study sessions and discussions, the concept of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip competes with an alternative goal: one state that would also include the area of Israel, with equal rights for Jews and Arabs, and Palestinian refugees allowed to return.   

I agree.

Related: Memory Hole: Future Vision of Israel

It's the only solution I can see.

Israel's Slow-Motion Genocide in Occupied Palestine
How are you going to make a state out of even less today?

With such dissenting views and independent activities, the young organizers pose a challenge to the Palestinian Authority and the ruling Fatah party in the West Bank, who view political action outside traditional party frameworks with unease.

Fadi Quran, an organizer who has joined Ziada in protest actions against the Israeli military, said the group’s activities have “chipped away at the legitimacy’’ of established parties. “When you have [independent] groups that are more ready to resist occupation, it means you don’t need the political parties, and that scares them.’’

But others take a dimmer view of the young activists. “They have little influence on the Palestinian street, and their vision is unclear, while Fatah is a popular movement that reaches all sectors of society,’’ said Younis Abu Rish, a Fatah leader in the Amari refugee camp outside Ramallah.

Authorities are the same wherever they are found.

Nonetheless, when young activists staged solidarity demonstrations to support the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, some of the gatherings were broken up by Palestinian police, signaling a nervousness that the protests could turn against the Palestinian Authority.

At a large demonstration in March demanding Fatah-Hamas reconciliation in Ramallah, scores of young men from Fatah youth organizations turned out, effectively commandeering the demonstration. Hamas did the same in the Gaza Strip, and club-wielding police later broke up a breakaway protest.

Look familiar, American?

In a conversation at a Ramallah cafe, Ziada asserted that the Palestinian leadership’s vision could leave Palestinians with a truncated ministate with limited sovereignty and no resolution of the refugees’ status. Quran said the restrictions under Israeli occupation could be “replaced by Palestinian oppression’’ in a state with an authoritarian government.

“When I have kids, I don’t want them stuck in the West Bank,’’ Ziada said. “I want the right to move freely. I want to go to Jerusalem, the city where I was born, and to the village my family was kicked out from in 1948,’’ she said, referring to the displacement of Palestinians in the war that accompanied the creation of Israel.

Her family originated in the destroyed village of al-Falouja, in what is now southern Israel. Her father, a union organizer and member of a militant leftist faction during the first Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s, was arrested repeatedly and jailed for months without trial. In the second uprising, which erupted in 2000, her older brother, then a member of Fatah’s armed wing, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in a shooting attack on an Israeli settlement.

Today, Ziada says, she runs up against a wall of apathy when trying to persuade people to demonstrate against Israeli soldiers and settlers. People of her parents’ generation, she says, “are exhausted.’’ Many young Palestinians are alienated from established political movements and have lost faith in their own ability to bring change, according to activists.

“People are sick of politics,’’ Quran said.  

Just like everyone else.

Unlike other countries swept up in the Arab Spring, where popular demonstrations were a novelty after years of harsh repression, Palestinians have staged two uprisings and years of protests, Ziada pointed out.

“They’ve been through all this before, they lost members of their families, and they want to keep what they still have,’’ she said. “They tell me, ‘Why are you doing this? You’re going to ruin your life, and nothing is going to change.’ … I tell them that the cost of getting rid of the occupation is far less than the cost of living under it for a long time to come.’’  

And now for the best:

The protests Ziada and other activists promote take a page from the popular tactics of the 1980s uprising, or intifada, when crowds of unarmed protesters took to the streets to confront Israeli troops, shopkeepers held protracted strikes, and one town staged a tax revolt.

The aim, organizers say, is creative nonviolent action to disrupt the Israeli occupation. Activists regularly join what they call “popular resistance,’’ such as weekly marches in villages against the seizure of land by Jewish settlers or against Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank, which has cut off many farming communities from their lands.

How rarely do we read of such things.


Under Germany's Nose

Globe is getting up mine.

"Germany lost track of terror suspects" November 15, 2011|By Melissa Eddy, Associated Press

BERLIN - Germany’s domestic intelligence agency was put on the defensive yesterday with questions on how a neo-Nazi group that it had been aware of in 1998 could have slipped from its radar and carried out a series of bank robberies and at least 10 killings....
I hate to be the one to tell you, but neo-Nazi groups are controlled by government instigators.

Despite all the details on membership, crimes committed, structure, and even fashion sense of such groups, authorities were scrambling for information on a Zwickau-based trio calling itself the Nationalist Socialist Underground.  

Excuse me? There are only three of them?

In a statement issued yesterday, the office maintained that it had no information regarding the whereabouts of three members - two of whom apparently died in suicides - since last tracking them in 1998.

The third, identified as 36-year-old Beate Z., was arrested late Sunday on charges of cofounding and belonging to a terror organization. She is further alleged to have set fire to a house used by the group in an effort to destroy evidence, but has refused to speak with police since turning herself in last week....

This is really starting to smell rank.

Many Germans are asking how the group, which allegedly included far-right extremists who were known to authorities, could have succeeded in carrying out crimes while undetected for so many years.... 

You know what is my answer.

The widening case has sparked a fierce debate over the government’s ability to protect the millions of immigrants who call Germany home, as it seeks to attract more skilled workers from abroad.

“I find it shocking that our country was not capable of protecting 10 innocent people from a band of far-right terrorists,’’ said Thomas Oppermann, a senior lawmaker with the opposition Social Democrats.

He noted that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has slashed the budget to fight far-right extremism in recent years.


Problem, reaction, solution:

"Germany will start database of extremists after discovery of neo-Nazi group" November 17, 2011|By Associated Press

BERLIN - Germany will create a national database as a clearinghouse for information on far-right extremists amid mounting criticism because its security agencies failed to detect a deadly neo-Nazi terror group for years.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said yesterday the new database to be used by all federal and state-level intelligence and police agencies will be modeled on a similar registry of Islamic extremists created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“We want to also use this idea, that has been very successful over the past 10 years, to foil Islamist terror attacks, against domestic terrorist structures,’’ Friedrich said....

Germany has a federal domestic intelligence agency, but all states also have their own police and domestic intelligence agency - resulting in a lack of coordination that critics say helped the neo-Nazis to remain undetected between 1998 and last week....  


The investigation into the activities of the National Socialist Underground has turned into a nationwide search of previously unsolved crimes, including suspected terror attacks in Cologne and Duesseldorf from 2000 to 2004 that are now linked to the group. The attacks injured more than 30 people, most of them foreigners.


Others who might make the list:

"German police cleared a sit-in of thousands of protesters attempting to block a shipment of nuclear waste and detained 1,300 people Sunday, officials said....


Who is going to clean it up if there is an accident?

"Cleaning damages $1.1m art installation" November 05, 2011|Associated Press

BERLIN - A modern art installation valued at $1.1 million was damaged after an overzealous cleaning woman scrubbed away a patina intended to look like a dried rain puddle, a Dortmund official said yesterday.

Martin Kippenberger’s “When it Starts Dripping from the Ceiling’’ remains in place at the Museum Ostwall despite the damage sustained when a cleaner scrubbed away the painted puddle beneath a rubber trough placed under a stacked tower of wooden slats.

The work by Kippenberger, a German-born artist who died in 1997, was on loan to the museum from a private collector, who agreed that it should remain on display, said Dortmund city spokeswoman Dagmar Papajewski. Insurance adjusters are assessing the damage.

It has not been decided whether the patina would be restored or if the artwork would be left in its “cleaned’’ condition, she said.


Spain is Safe

Not so fast!

"Basque separatists end armed battle for independence" October 21, 2011|By Daniel Woolls and Yesica Fisch, Associated Press

BILBAO, Spain - After killing more than 800 people across Spain during the last four decades in its drive for an independent state, the Basque separatist group ETA yesterday said it would lay down its arms - but stopped short of declaring it was defeated.

The historic announcement was made via video by three ETA members wearing trademark Basque berets and masks. At the end of the clip, they defiantly raised their fists in the air, demanding a separate Basque nation.

Once a force that terrorized the country with shootings and bombings, Europe’s last armed militant movement has been both romanticized and vilified. But it had been decimated in recent years by a wave of arrests, declining support among nationalists, and repulsion with raw violence. The announcement had long been expected.

The group has killed 829 people since the late 1960s in a campaign of bombings and shootings aimed at forcing the government to allow creation of an independent Basque homeland straddling provinces of northern Spain and southwest France.

ETA emerged during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, who was obsessed with the idea of Spain as a unified state and suppressed Basque culture. Franco banned the ancient and linguistically unique language - which sounds nothing like Spanish or any other language - and destroyed books written in it.

Basques argued that they are culturally distinct from Spain and deserve statehood, and arrests of independence sympathizers still prompt crowds to head to the streets clapping in support. But, the wealthy and verdant region also has a large population of non-Basques who consider themselves fully Spanish and have long been opposed to the militants.

ETA’s most spectacular attack came in 1973, when the group planted a bomb on a Madrid street after weeks of tunneling, and blew up the car of then Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco. He was killed in a blast that sent the vehicle into the air and left it atop the roof of a nearby building. The group became even more violent in the 1980s, shooting hundreds of police officers and politicians, and occasionally killing civilians.

Classified as a terrorist group by Spain, the European Union, and the United States, the group has seen its power and ability to stage attacks wane during the last decade, following the Sept. 11 attacks and the 2004 Madrid train bombings by radical Islamists. It has not killed anyone for two years, and recent reports said it may have as few as 50 fighters.

The carefully choreographed process toward yesterday’s announcement began a year ago, when the group’s political supporters renounced violence. ETA then called a cease-fire, one of nearly a dozen over the years. This week, international figures such as former UN secretary general Kofi Annan attended a conference that called on ETA to lay down its weapons.

The announcement marks the first time the group has said it was willing to renounce armed struggle, a key demand by Spain. It comes as the country prepares for general elections Nov. 20, and some analysts had predicted it would be made to give the ruling Socialist Party a boost as it faces almost certain defeat amid a national unemployment rate of 21 percent, the eurozone’s highest....  

Yeah, it seems the Spanish have other, more important issues at hand rather than a toothless terror group.


Now I'm told there is still some bite?

"Among Basques, ‘restrained euphoria’ over ETA’s ceasefire" October 22, 2011|By Alvaro Barrientos and Daniel Woolls, Associated Press

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain - The government has ruled out talks with ETA, rejecting an appeal for dialogue made by the militant group Thursday in announcing its “definitive cease of armed action.’’

Gonna need a translator.

People in this small but prosperous patch of northern Spain and elsewhere in the country feel they are experiencing a cherished slice of history after 43 years of shootings and bombings that have left 829 people dead.

ETA has raised hopes before with announcements of cease-fires, even ones it called permanent, like a truce in 2006 that ETA ended after nine months with a huge car bombing that killed two people.

But this time, ETA’s bombs and bullets - if not the organization itself or its goal of an independent Basque state - do seem to be gone for good, Basques said.

“The sky is a beautiful blue, and we are living moments of excitement and hope after recovering the peace and freedom that society wanted so badly,’’ said Miguel Angel Lujua, president of the Basque business federation Confebask. Its members had routinely received extortion demands from ETA and traveled with bodyguards. Lujua was among them.

ETA has been decimated by arrests in recent years and declining grassroots support among Basque nationalists who stomached its violent campaign in exchange for working toward the goal of independence. It had not killed anyone in Spain in two years and was reportedly down to as few as 50 fighters.

ETA’s political supporters renounced violence last year in a monumental, much-debated shift and advocated the independence movement shifting to the strictly political and peaceful realm. It wanted ETA to do the same, but ETA resisted for the time being.

In September, ETA declared a cease-fire, but more with the defiant cry of a victor than the humility of a defeated guerrilla group. It did not apologize to its victims, said nothing about giving up its weapons and reiterated that Basques have a right to decide their own future - status quo or independence, which the government rules out. Critics said ETA is really just moving a piece on a chess board.  

Then why all the MSM hullabaloo?

Indeed, yesterday, a representative of ETA’s banned political wing Batasuna reiterated demands for talks on the region’s future....

Did it boost the Socialists?

"Socialist party loses elections in Spain; Conservatives sweep into power" November 21, 2011|By Daniel Woolls, Associated Press

MADRID - Spain’s opposition conservatives swept commandingly into power and into the hot seat yesterday as voters enduring a 21.5 percent jobless rate and stagnant economy dumped the Socialists - the third time in three weeks Europe’s debt crisis has claimed a government.

Related: Markets Pick Papademos to Govern Greece

Markets Appoint Monti to Manage Italy

Voters didn't choose those switches.

As thousands of jubilant, cheering supporters waving red-and-yellow Spanish flags and blue-and-white party ones gathered outside Popular Party headquarters, their leader and future prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, thanked Spaniards for their support, then sounded a somber note of warning.  

We will be serving banks first.

“It is no secret to anyone that we are going to rule in the most delicate circumstances Spain has faced in 30 years,’’ he said. “For me, there will be no enemies but unemployment, the deficit, excessive debt, economic stagnation, and anything else that keeps our country in these critical circumstances.’’

Other than promise tax cuts for small- and medium-size companies that make up more than 90 percent of all firms in Spain, Rajoy, 56, has not specified how he will tackle Spain’s unemployment nightmare.

Rajoy faces the towering task of restoring investor confidence and lowering Spain’s soaring borrowing costs with deficit-reducing measures, while not dragging an already moribund economy into a double-dip recession. It climbed out of one just last year that was prompted by the bursting of a real estate bubble....  

Oh, is THAT WHY the Spanish elected him?!?!

The Popular Party won an absolute majority and resounding mandate from a deeply troubled electorate....

Rajoy said he has not promised miracles, and there will be none. But he said that the Popular Party has shown in the past that it gets things done. He appealed to Spaniards to join together and resurrect the economy....

Earlier, as he waited for Rajoy to speak, one supporter, David Cordero, said he was happy with the prospect of change so as to create jobs and protect social services like state-paid health care and education....  

If you weren't getting that out of the Socialists.... (sigh).

The new numbers show Spanish voters have shifted decidedly to the right as they confront their worst economic crisis in decades and choose new leaders to pull them out of it.

As part of that mess, the country is also at the forefront of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, with the Spanish government’s borrowing costs rising last week to levels near where other eurozone countries such as Greece, Ireland, and Portugal had to request huge bailouts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Besides the recent changes in which Greece and Italy replaced their governments with teams made up of technocrats, Ireland and Portugal - which also required huge bailouts to avert default - also saw their governments change hands....  

And yet nothing changes and the austerity programs advance.


Related: Investors shift fears on debt to Spain, France

Portugal Under Pressure

I'll give you one gue$$ from whom:

"Portugal’s bonds cut to junk status; Workers strike against tough austerity moves" November 25, 2011|By Barry Hatton, Associated Press

LISBON - Portugal’s efforts to climb out of its economic crisis suffered a double setback yesterday as its credit rating was downgraded to junk status and a major strike gave voice to broad public outrage over austerity measures that have squeezed living standards.

Portugal’s deepening plight underlined Europe’s difficulties in finding a way out of the continent’s government debt crisis that has recently shown alarming signs of spreading to bigger nations, most notably Italy.

Already did: Monti the New Mussolini

Like others in the 17-country eurozone, Portugal embarked on an austerity program to make its debts sustainable. Earlier this year, Portugal followed Greece and Ireland in taking a bailout to avert bankruptcy.

As in Greece, though, the government’s tough medicine, which is required by international creditors in return for the $104 billion in bailout money, is unpopular. The strike had a huge turnout, making it possibly the biggest walkout in 20 years.  

Also see: Globe Gives Greece the Answer

Police detained three demonstrators who scuffled with police outside Parliament after a protest march, Associated Press Television News reported.

“They are trying to destroy the national health service, and salaries haven’t gone up since 2004,’’ striking Dr. Pilar Vicente told the agency.

International ratings agency Fitch blamed Portugal’s “large fiscal imbalances, high indebtedness across all sectors, and adverse macroeconomic outlook’’ for its decision to cut the country’s rating by one notch to BB+. Rival Moody’s already rates Portuguese bonds as junk, but Standard & Poor’s rates them one notch above.  

Aren't those the same s*** agencies that were paid by Wall Street banks to AAA the mortgage-backed crapola they sliced into servings?

Fitch’s decision to cut Portugal to a noninvestment grade will likely mean it’s even more difficult for the country, which is already mired in a deep recession and is witnessing rising levels of unemployment, to return to bond markets by its 2013 goal. That raises the prospect that Portugal, like Greece, may need a second bailout.

“Portugal’s downgrade goes to show how hard it will be for troubled economies to pull themselves out of the crisis and how long this will take,’’ said Sony Kapoor, managing director of Re-Define, an economic think tank. “The Portuguese downgrade highlights the limits of austerity policies both domestically in Portugal and in the wider euro area.’’

The 24-hour walkout came as Portugal, one of Western Europe’s smallest, frailest economies, endures increasing hardship as it tries to get its borrowing down 

And to do that they are going to borrow more money to pay back loans to the same people making the loans?

The strike was called by Portugal’s two largest trade union confederations, representing more than 1 million mostly blue-collar workers. Much of the private sector remained open for business, but a huge Volkswagen car plant south of Lisbon, which accounts for 10 percent of Portuguese exports, shut down production for the day because of problems facing its suppliers.

Much of the disruption was centered on the transport sector. Airlines canceled hundreds of international flights, and the airports of Lisbon, Porto, and Faro were mostly empty as tens of thousands of workers walked off the job. Commuters had to get to work without regular bus or train services. The Lisbon subway was shut, and police said roads into the capital were more congested than normal.

Few staff were working at government offices, local media reported. Many medical appointments, school classes, and court hearings were canceled, and mail deliveries and trash collection were disrupted.

An unsustainable debt load and feeble economic growth over the past 10 years pushed Portugal toward bankruptcy earlier this year, forcing it to ask for a financial rescue.

In return for the aid, Portugal agreed to cut its debt burden to a manageable level by 2013. That goal requires it to enact deep spending cuts and to hike taxes.  

It's amazing how austerity so bankers can get paid never goes over well with the public.

Income tax, sales tax, corporate tax, and property tax are all being increased. At the same time, welfare entitlements are being curtailed. Falling living standards have stoked outrage at the austerity measures.

“All the sacrifices the Portuguese are making today will prove worthwhile in the future,’’ Parliamentary Affairs Minister Miguel Relvas told reporters.

A key difference from Greece is that the markets have not given up completely on Portugal....

Meaning they HAVE on GREECE!!  

Hey, maybe that could be a good thing.


Related: Pressure on Portugal

Another kind of pressure:

"Portugal won’t extradite convicted killer to US; Wright escaped prison, hijacked jetliner in 1970s" November 18, 2011|By Raphael Minder, New York Times

MADRID - A Portuguese court decided yesterday to deny an American request to extradite the fugitive George Wright, decades after he fled in a hijacked jetliner.

Wright was convicted of murder in the early 1960s, but he escaped from prison in 1970 and hijacked a domestic Delta flight two years later, alongside four others, and took the plane to Algeria. He eventually settled down under a different identity in a village in Portugal, where he was arrested in September.

“This is just a fantastic decision,’’ said Wright’s lawyer, Manuel Luis Ferreira.

He said that he had not yet read the details of the ruling but had been informed that “all my main arguments were accepted,’’ including that Wright should not be extradited to the United States because he holds Portuguese nationality.

Ferreira also fought extradition for family reasons, so as to allow Wright to stay close to his wife and two children, who live in Portugal.

Ferreira said the US authorities could still appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Portugal.

During an interview last month while under house arrest, Wright explained that he had believed that, after four decades, the US authorities were no longer chasing him, but he added that, “knowing the Americans, I always feared that they had their antennas up.’’

Wright, now 68, was convicted of murder in New Jersey in connection with a robbery in 1962 in which Walter Patterson, a gas station owner, was killed.

Two years after escaping from prison, Wright and four others in Detroit hijacked a Miami-bound jetliner and demanded that it be flown to Algeria.

After the hijacking, Wright left Algeria for France.

His fellow hijackers were arrested there, but he managed to make his way to Portugal before moving to Guinea-Bissau, which eventually granted him political asylum.

He eventually returned to Portugal two decades ago, taking up odd jobs and leading a quiet family life in Casas Novas, a village about 30 miles from Lisbon.

Wright was fighting extradition under his assumed Portuguese identity, Jose Luis Jorge dos Santos.


Related: Black Panther Hiding in Portugal

Globe Gives Greece the Answer

"Greece would eventually be able to reinvent itself through its ability to print its own currency"

Uh-oh!!!  Eliminate private central banking and its Ponzi scheme?

That's the thing that got Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy shot, how Hitler achieved the German economic miracle (and we all know how "history" has judged him), and what is enshrined within the U.S. Constitution.

Good luck to the Greek leader who charts that course.

"The new government will face an early gauge of public acceptance tomorrow when unions will join an annual march to mark the anniversary of an antidictatorship uprising in Greece in 1973. Fearing violence, some 7,000 police will be deployed in Athens that day.... 

A dictatorship the US helped bring about and support.  

Greeks must be feeling a sense of deja vu.


"Greek leader wins vote of confidence" November 17, 2011|By Niki Kitsantonis, New York Times

ATHENS - Greece’s new interim government comfortably won a vote of confidence yesterday, although the unity of the coalition, which must secure rescue funding and save the country from default, appeared tenuous.

The government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank, added that for foreign creditors to continue working with Greece, the leaders of all three parties in the coalition would have to offer the written guarantees sought by foreign creditors....

They want it in blood.


"Global leaders wonder what would happen if Greece drops the euro" November 17, 2011|By Pan Pylas, Associated Press

LONDON - Until recently, discussions about a country’s exit from the euro had been confined to market commentary and academic papers. Suddenly, top officials are openly discussing the possibility....
So once again the blogs are ahead of the deceptive, distorting, obfuscating AmeriKan media?

A new Greek government now has not much more than 100 days to push through a package approving Europe’s latest rescue package and another round of punishing austerity, over the objections of many Greeks.  


Related: Markets Pick Papademos to Govern Greece

A growing number of analysts believe those efforts will fail, and that Greece’s days in the euro are numbered. They say Greece would do better to cut and run.... 

It would be BETTER for the GREEK PEOPLE!

Peter Morici, a University of Maryland professor, and other proponents of a euro exit concede that the short-term pain for Greece would be huge. But they argue that Greece would eventually be able to reinvent itself through its ability to print its own currency and set an appropriate economic policy for its own needs.  



That's why Greeks are in the streets:

"Thousands march in protest in Greece" November 18, 2011|By Elena Becatoros and Nicholas Paphitis, Associated Press

ATHENS - Masked youths clashed with riot police outside Greece’s Parliament and the US Embassy yesterday as thousands of austerity-weary Greeks marched through Athens in an annual commemoration of a bloody student uprising in the 1970s.

Police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the rioters, and some 60 people were detained for questioning, but no injuries were reported.

Some 28,000 people took part in the march, according to police estimates, making it one of the biggest Nov. 17 protests in years....

With loan-dependent Greece heading for its fourth year of recession and saddled with record unemployment, the demonstration was the first test of public sentiment for the new coalition government of Lucas Papademos, a technocrat enjoying widespread popularity, according to polls.

Meaning I WILL NO LONGER BELIEVE POLLS CITED by the AmeriKan media!

Yesterday’s annual protest commemorates the squashing of a prodemocracy student uprising in 1973 by the military dictatorship that ruled Greece from 1967-74 - and whose backing by the United States still rankles in the country.

But the embassy march has traditionally served as a vent for antigovernment protests that often turn violent.

Because agent provocateurs of the Gladio variety were inserted.

About 15,000 people took part in a similar, but peaceful, protest in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

The clashes came a day after Papademos, a 64-year-old former central banker, easily won a confidence vote in Parliament.

Papademos heads a coalition of the majority Socialists, conservative New Democracy, and the small right-wing populist LAOS party, which has nationalist and anti-immigration roots.  

The alleged SOCIALISTS should be ASHAMED, and the banker's government has a fascist element. Great.

He faces a daunting task in the 100 days until early elections in February.

In addition to staving off looming bankruptcy by securing the country’s next rescue loan installment, his government must pass a new austerity budget - to be tabled in Parliament today - and transform paper pledges of sweeping public sector reform into action.

After its borrowing costs ballooned in 2010, Greece turned to its European partners and the International Monetary Fund, winning a $148 billion bailout in return for deeply resented austerity measures to cut deficits bloated by years of government overspending.

But it became clear that the rescue loans were not enough, and European leaders agreed on a second $175 billion bailout last month with an additional $135 billion debt writedown by banks and other holders of Greek government bonds.

Complex talks with the Institute of International Finance, a global bank lobbying group, on the writedown started in Athens on Wednesday and will continue over the days and weeks ahead.

The details of the bond swap will determine how much the deal will actually help Greece in getting its debt down to a sustainable level.

“Our goal is to structure a transaction that will attract the broadest possible support from the bondholder community,’’ Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said.  

That is NOT YOU, Greek citizen!

“To this end, we will be listening to the IIF, other industry bodies, and individual creditors’ ideas about how best to design this transaction.’’


Also see: Greek Budget in Good Shape

Breaking News: Goldman Sachs Screwed Greece 

They screwed everybody. 

Monti the New Mussolini

It's not surprising; look who selected him.

"In dictating Italy’s new national agenda, .... under pressure to quickly reassure financial markets.... full powers to begin drafting his agenda.... a government of bankers, diplomats, and business executives.... can beat the crisis if its citizenry can pull together.... government would work to restore market confidence... regain the confidence of foreign investors.... win back the trust of markets.... measures to help fight the debt crisis might include deductions from bank accounts’’ 

Meaning they are LITERALLY going to STEAL YOUR MONEY so banksters can GET PAID!!

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck.... 

 "Monti cobbling together coalition to lead Italy, enact austere laws; Resists push for earlier election" November 15, 2011|By Colleen Barry, Associated Press

ROME - Italy’s prime minister-designate Mario Monti said yesterday it was premature to say if the country would require more tough measures to rescue its finances and revive its economy, as he sought enough backing from political parties to form a government.

Two days after Silvio Berlusconi resigned, and with investors still nervous about Italy’s credibility, Monti spent the day consulting with political parties, then told reporters he could not say when he would have a Cabinet lined up. 

Pressured by the markets, Parliament last week gave final approval after weeks of political squabbling over emergency measures aimed at cutting spending and spurring economic growth, but it is unclear if the action is enough with Italy’s debt costs soaring....

Today was shaping up as a crucial day for Monti to decide if he can count on Parliament’s support. He meets in the morning with Italy’s two largest parties in the legislature - those of Berlusconi’s conservatives and a center-left part made up of former communists and ex-Christian Democrats. Their votes would be crucial in a confidence vote, likely to come later this week, which would seal the start of Monti’s government.

Monti, an economist, was tasked Sunday night by Italy’s president with creating a government of experts capable of overhauling an ailing economy and keeping market fears over the country from threatening the existence of the euro.


"Italy’s new leader set to unveil Cabinet; Will also outline economic plan" November 16, 2011|By Colleen Barry and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

ROME - Prime Minister-designate Mario Monti, a respected economist and former European commissioner, is under pressure to quickly reassure financial markets that Italy will avoid a default that could tear apart the 17 countries that use the euro currency and push the global economy back into recession. The European Union and the European Central Bank have outlined measures Italy must take - many of them changes blocked in the past by special interests....  

Banks are not special interests(?).

Yesterday, after rounds of meetings, Monti garnered support from the center-left Democratic Party, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, and the Confindustria, a powerful business lobby.

“We strongly support the birth of this government because for us it is the last chance to regain credibility,’’ Confindustria leader Emma Marcegaglia said....

You can't regain credibility; once it's gone, it's gone forever.

Newspapers, of all industries, should know that.


"Italy’s new government has no politicians; Monti fills posts with bankers, diplomats, CEOs" November 17, 2011|By Colleen Barry and Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press

ROME - Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Monti, formed a government of bankers, diplomats, and business executives yesterday, saying the absence of politicians in his Cabinet will spare political parties the “embarrassment’’ of taking the tough decisions needed to steer the country from financial disaster....

Hopes for his new administration won Italy some respite in financial markets yesterday, but the relief didn’t last long. By afternoon, the yield or interest rate on 10-year Italian bonds was back dangerously near 7 percent - the threshold that eventually forced Greece, Ireland, and Portugal to seek bailouts.

Same banks that are worried, etc, etc.

Up until summer, Italy had mostly avoided the European debt turmoil despite having a jaw-dropping debt of $2.6 trillion....

But after Berlusconi’s frequent delays and backtracking on austerity measures, the markets lost faith that his government could fix Italy’s economic issues. 


All the other scandals and conduct did not matter, but WHEN WORLD MONEY TALKS.... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Restoring confidence is crucial because, as the third-largest economy in the eurozone, Italy is too big for Europe to rescue. A debt default by Italy could break up the eurozone, a catastrophic event for the global economy. 

And a good thing for the rest of us all.

Italy’s economy is hampered by high wage costs, low productivity, fat government payrolls, excessive taxes, choking bureaucracy, and low numbers of college graduates. But Monti says Italy can beat the crisis if its polarized citizenry can pull together....  

And open up those wallets to banks that crashed the world economy as they profited.

German Chancellor Angel Merkel, who was critical of Berlusconi’s efforts, sent her congratulations. Spokesman Steffen Seibert expressed her hope that Monti’s government would carry out reforms “so that Italy can win back the trust of markets.’’  

Um, excuse me, but WHERE are the CONSIDERATIONS of the ITALIAN PEOPLE in the DEMOCRACY, 'eh?

I was told that is WHO the GOVERNMENTS work for in a DEMOCRACY -- NOT MARKETS!!!!!!!!!!!


"Italy’s new prime minister proposes ambitious growth plan; Warns of ‘serious emergency’ at home, in Europe" November 18, 2011|By Elisabetta Povoledo and Rachel Donadio, New York Times

ROME - Mario Monti, Italy’s newly chosen prime minister, said Italians could expect to make sacrifices in the months ahead but pledged that those sacrifices would be fair and evenly spread.  

Says the banker's puppet.

Such measures would involve changes to the labor market and welfare benefits and to Italy’s lopsided pension and fiscal systems.
Meaning YOU WILL SACRIFICE so BANKS can be FAT, Italians!!!
It's the SAME S*** in EVERY COUNTRY! 


Addressing what he called a fundamental cause of Italy’s low growth, he said the government would work to grant young people and women greater access to the workplace. “They are the two great wasted resources of the country,’’ he said.  

Where are the JOBS?  At least Mussolini had 'em working.

He said the government would work to restore market confidence in Italy in the short term and to invest in structural changes that would help in the longer term, including changes to what he called Italy’s “inequitable’’ pension system.

“We need to focus on three pillars: fiscal rigor, economic growth, and social fairness,’’ he said.

To spur growth, he said Italy must deregulate closed professional guilds as well as improve the efficiency of public sector services.

Monti also said that because citizens were being asked to sacrifice, cuts to the costs of elected officials as well as public administration would be “unavoidable.’’

He also indicated that to bring Italy more in line with European norms, his government would probably have to reintroduce a property tax on first homes, a tax that had been scrapped by Berlusconi’s government.  

Oh, ANOTHER REASON Silvio was shown the door!

Monti also pledged to fight Italy’s vast underground economy, which he said was estimated to be worth a fifth of the annual gross domestic product.


At least the elected representatives of your democracy are looking out for you:

"Italy’s Parliament backs new prime minister; Lower house vote gives Monti power to begin reforms" November 19, 2011|By Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times

ROME - Prime Minister Mario Monti now has full powers to begin drafting his agenda, which includes passing emergency measures to regain the confidence of foreign investors, as well as broader structural changes to Italy’s labor market and pension system, while stepping up the effort to fight tax evasion and creating incentives for businesses to expand, including a revision of the tax system....  

Meaning more tax loot going to the government and then to bankers and business.

Monti acknowledged to lawmakers yesterday that the financial crisis now unsettling world markets was in part due to “serious malfunction of financial institutions and the markets,’’ but he also said Italians were not without blame. “We should stop saying so easily that others are responsible,’’ he said.  

Just proving that GLOBALIST BANKERS really are S*** SCUM!!  

Yeah, it is NOT THE FAULT of the BANKS that WRECKED the WORLD ECONOMY -- and PROFITED -- with their MORTGAGE-BACKED SECURITIES FRAUD.  It's YOUR FAULT, citizen of Italy.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, the new prime minister said that his priority next week would be the “situation of the eurozone’’ and he would travel to Brussels and Strasbourg for talks first with Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, and on Thursday with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Not working in your interests, Italians.

Monti said he was certain that topics of discussion would include the European Central Bank and its role in the debt crisis, as well as the creation of bonds backed by all the euro zone countries, an idea he supported as an economist.  

Yeah, the PEOPLE WHO CAUSED THIS CRISIS -- either ON PURPOSE or IDIOCY-- are the ones who are going to FIX  IT?

“But before forming an idea, not as an economist but as finance minister and prime minister, it seems important to have the opportunity to have frank and in-depth talks with the leaders of France and Germany as well as the European authorities before definitively fixing my ideas,’’ he said.

In dictating Italy’s new national agenda, his objective, he said, was to obtain “the broadest consensus possible.’’


Hungry for more?

"Beyond tourists’ eyes, Italy’s poor and jobless are growing concern" November 20, 2011|By Colleen Barry, Associated Press

ROME - They line up at soup kitchens by the thousands. Individual debt is rising, savings are eroding, and many young people have simply given up, staying home without studying or even looking for a job.

They are Italy’s invisible poor, unseen by tourists, ignored by the country’s politicians, and living in a reality that’s a far cry from former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s description of an affluent country where “the restaurants are full.’’  

This is about the only time I recall seeing them in my paper.


This is the Italy facing Mario Monti, the economics professor tapped to form an interim technocratic government after Berlusconi was forced to resign last weekend. International markets and the European Community decided the 75-year-old media mogul lacked the political clout to enact needed changes to head off a debt crisis and get the economy moving.


On Tuesday, Monti won support from Italy’s two largest parties, but the question remains whether politicians will back his expected painful measures at the risk of social peace.

On the one hand, Italy’s elite manufacturers are girding for an increase in luxury exports and some wealthy Italians are looking to move their money into real estate markets in New York, Miami, and Paris.

Money knows no boundaries -- unlike the prison you call a homeland.

On the other, the state statistics institute ISTAT says that 8 million Italians, about 14 percent of the population, are living in “relative poverty.’’

While tourists may not see the poor as they visit Tuscany’s rolling hills, Venice’s waterways, or the Amalfi coast’s picturesque villages, their numbers are increasing.

Many Italians have begun taking their money out of banks, fearing reports that measures to help fight the debt crisis might include deductions from bank accounts, as was done in the 1990s.

“They are putting it under the mattress, or even inside empty wine jugs in the cellars. We are a country of farmers,’’ said Elio Lannutti, president of the consumer protection group Adusbef. 

I know there is some good advice in there for you, American.

A US service organization in Rome asked its members to spend their Thanksgiving holiday making food packages for the poor....

Hard-line leftists expect no improvement for Italy’s poor, even from the new government.

“The Monti government is born from a mandate of Confindustria [a powerful business lobby] and the banks,’’ said Marco Ferrando, leader of the tiny Communist Workers Party.

I rarely side with controlled-opposition Commies, but HE'S RIGHT!!!!


And he hasn't been on the job a week and he's already failing?

"Italian debt sale regarded warily" November 26, 2011|By Colleen Barry, Associated Press

 ROME - A week into his new job, Prime Minister Mario Monti is running out of time to reassure investors....

The nation’s borrowing rates skyrocketed yesterday after a grim series of bond auctions, with a new auction looming Tuesday. Another borrowing debacle could increase fears that Italy has entered a debt spiral that will drive it toward bankruptcy and the 17-nation eurozone into its most severe crisis yet.

These are the SAME BANKS that PUT THEM in the POSITION of having to BORROW MORE to pay into an endless cycle of debt -- and now they UPPED the INTEREST RATES when they KNOW you can't pay?  The SAME BANKS that MAKE BILLIONS each QUARTER?


Monti’s government is battling to convince investors that it has an effective strategy....  

How many times do I have to point out who he is working for?

“We still haven’t found a response that reassures investors,’’ said Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission. “As long as we’re unable to do that, we’ll have very serious problems.’’ 

How many times do I have to point out who they are working for?

Driving market fears is the knowledge that Italy is too big for Europe to bail out. Given the size of its debts - Italy must refinance about $265 billion by the end of April alone - the government is depending on investors for money. But if borrowing rates get too high that can cause a debt spiral that could bankrupt the country.

Yesterday’s auctions showed that investors see Italian debt as increasingly risky....

Other signs of Europe’s debt crisis also emerged. Standard & Poor’s lowered its long-term sovereign credit rating for Belgium....

The whole project is collapsing because of greedy bankers who sold s***.


You know where the money is, right?

"Amid debt crisis, Italians tackle tax evasion" November 27, 2011|By Anthony Faiola, Washington Post

ROME - The focus on tax evasion, a crime Italy has made surprising inroads against in recent years, only to stir up deep-seated resentments, comes as this nation and other southern European countries including Greece and Spain are coming under international pressure to tackle a host of growth-draining societal norms.  

How about focusing on bank looting instead?

In Italy, high evasion levels, for example, have dramatically forced up the tax rates for corporations and individuals who do pay their share, severely hurting competitiveness, constricting job creation, and contributing to years of low to negative growth.

Failure to fully address such problematic traditions has directly contributed to the debt crisis threatening the global economy. At the same time, it has widened the divide between nations like Italy and the other more modern, dynamic economies that share the euro, including Germany and the Netherlands....  

Meaning Italy is a second-class citizen in the EU.


Anything else happening in Italy?

"SEARCH MISSION -- Firefighters in Italy worked in the mud yesterday after a landslide at Scarcelli, a district of Saponara in the province of Messina, in Sicily. A village was destroyed by the landslide, which was caused by torrential rain. Three people were reported dead, according to local authorities (Boston Globe November 24 2011)."  

Yeah, THOSE ARE the GUYS who are going to have their PENSIONS GUTTED!


"FLOODS RAVAGE ITALY'S COUNTRYSIDE -- Violent rains lashed Italy this week, killing at least nine people and leaving six others missing. The country's northwestern coastal region of Liguria and the central region of Tuscany were hit hard, with floods and mudslides in Monterosso (above) and other villages. Rescuers searched yesterday for survivors (Boston Globe October 28 2011)."  

I guess that gives you a picture (literally) of what the Globe thinks is important in Italy.

Britain's Tabloid Testimony

Just be careful what you text or say on your phone.

"Hacking reported at more UK papers" by Alan Cowell New York Times / November 15, 2011

Records of illicit intercepts of phone messages presented to a judge’s inquiry on Monday appear to show that the practice was widespread at other newspapers besides News of the World, the tabloid that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire shut down in July over the scandal.

Robert Jay, a lawyer for the inquiry, presented extensive written records of phone hacking not just at News of the World but also at another Murdoch-owned tabloid, The Sun, and at a rival paper, The Daily Mirror, owned by Trinity Mirror.

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Related: 'Cottage Industry' of Illegality Cited at News of the World

A total rewrite from what is in my printed paper with my marked paragraphs excised. WTF?

Jay said that notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator jailed in 2007 for hacking into voice-mail accounts of members of the royal family, showed that such tactics were used at News of the World on a much wider scale than previously known....  

Notice how it never was an issue until the elite were spied on?

For years, News International argued that the hacking was restricted to a single "rogue" reporter, Clive Goodman, the former royal correspondent for News of the World; he was jailed along with Mulcaire. The records disclosed yesterday seemed to contradict that assertion in a sweeping way....

Another "lone gunmen," 'eh?

The inquires have inspired debate about the relationship between privacy and the press and the extent to which Britain's self-regulating news media should be subject to oversight.

The central issue, Lord Justice Brian Leveson said, could be "one simple question: Who guards the guardians?"  

Well, judge, that would be BLOGGERS, wouldn't it? That is why YOU and I are HERE, readers!!!

The judge praised freedom of expression and freedom of the press as "fundamental to our democracy and fundamental to our way of life."

But, he said, press freedom needed to be balanced against individual rights.   

All hand-typed, folks.   

And I'm sorry for my lack of enthusiasm for the Globe; they are being discarded just as often as a tabloid would be here.

"Hugh Grant testifies on aggressive tactics of British tabloids" November 22, 2011|By John F. Burns, New York Times

LONDON - Actor Hugh Grant said yesterday that British tabloid newspapers had broken into his home, accessed medical records, and menaced his family as part of a “cowardly, bullying, and shocking’’ press culture whose targets were not just celebrities, politicians, and the police, but also people left vulnerable by misfortune.   

They also have a war-mongering media?

And have you noticed the POLICE ASPECT is not a focus?

Through two hours of testimony before an official inquiry into press practices, Grant raised new accusations that broadened the debate to include all of the mass-circulation British tabloids, not just those owned by News Corp., Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. Grant displayed a barely contained animosity toward press intrusion that contrasted starkly with the boyish congeniality of his film roles.

I don't contain mine.  Who likes being lied to and manipulated?

The inquiry was prompted by accusations that News of the World, the weekly tabloid that News Corp. shut down in July, had intercepted the voicemail messages of nearly 6,000 people, including Grant and some of his former girlfriends.

But many of his accusations yesterday were aimed at The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday, two papers belonging to Associated Newspapers that are among the best-selling in Britain; they had previously been untainted by the phone hacking scandal....

If they had hacked into war criminal messages or banksters communications that would have been fine, but this.... pffffft!

In a statement issued shortly after his testimony yesterday, The Mail on Sunday denied hacking his phone and said its information had come instead from a freelance journalist who spoke to a source close to Khan. “Mr. Grant’s allegations are mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media,’’ the paper said.  

Think anyone is going to believe them?  

And did you EVER THINK there was a REASON we HATE YOU?

At the inquiry, Grant, 51, insisted that he was not pursuing a vendetta against the press over coverage of a 1995 scandal, when police in Los Angeles caught Grant in a car with a prostitute he picked up on Sunset Boulevard and he was fined $1,180.

“I totally expected there to be a press storm’’ after that, he said, and he saw the matter as fair game.

Who cares about such diversionary crap?


"Parents of missing UK child call for media tactic changes" November 24, 2011|By Jill Lawless, Associated Press

LONDON - The parents of missing child Madeleine McCann called yesterday for fundamental changes to Britain’s media culture, saying they were left distraught by false stories and the publication of private information by a rapacious tabloid press.  

Seems to be a quality that affects all corporate media these days.

Kate and Gerry McCann told a media ethics inquiry that they felt powerless in the face of stories, based on confected evidence, suggesting they had killed their daughter, who vanished during the British family’s vacation in Portugal in 2007.  

That means BULLS***!!!

The disappearance of the 3-year-old, and her parents’ search for her, fueled a media frenzy.

“Lives are being harmed by these stories, and something has to change,’’ Gerry McCann said. “A commercial imperative is not acceptable.’’  

Related: Missing Baby's Birthday

The couple appeared as witnesses at an inquiry set up by Prime Minister David Cameron in response to a scandal over phone hacking by journalists at the now-shuttered News of the World tabloid. A judge at London’s Royal Courts of Justice has heard evidence from celebrities, including actor Hugh Grant and comedian Steve Coogan, and from ordinary people like the McCanns left bruised by unwanted media attention.

The McCanns, both 43, said press coverage of Madeleine’s disappearance was initially sympathetic but soon changed, with some articles implying the parents were hiding something.  

That's why anytime the media gets near you tell them to fuck off.

One story said the couple had sold their daughter into slavery, another that they had killed her and hid her body in a freezer.

Gerry McCann and his wife said they felt powerless to do anything about the coverage.

“These were desperate times,’’ she said. “When it’s your voice against a powerful media, it just doesn’t hold weight.’’  

Not individually; however, it CAN COLLECTIVELY!!  BLOGS have PROVEN THAT!

The couple successfully sued several British newspapers over suggestions that they had caused their daughter’s death and then covered it up.  

Sounds like a thing a government would do, not parents.

Two, the Daily Express and the Daily Star, were forced to print front-page apologies to the McCanns.
Have they ever apologized for all the Iraq war lies?

Btw, how is that commission coming?  They put out a report yet?

"J.K. Rowling, Sienna Miller testify on UK tabloid tactics" November 25, 2011|By Jill Lawless, Associated Press

LONDON - Author J.K. Rowling and actress Sienna Miller gave a London courtroom a vivid picture yesterday of the anxiety, anger, and fear produced by living in the glare of Britain’s tabloid media, describing how press intrusion made them feel like prisoners in their own homes....

The pair were among a diverse cast of witnesses - Hollywood star Hugh Grant, a former soccer player, a former aide to supermodel Elle Macpherson, and the parents of missing and murdered children - who have described how becoming the focus of Britain’s tabloid press wreaked havoc on their lives.

Rowling said she was completely unprepared for the media attention she began to receive when her first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,’’ became a sensation. The seven Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies, spawned a hit movie series, and propelled Rowling from struggling single mother to one of Britain’s richest people....

Prime Minister David Cameron set up the inquiry amid a still-unfolding scandal about illegal eavesdropping by the News of the World tabloid. Owner Rupert Murdoch closed the newspaper in July after evidence emerged that it had illegally accessed the cellphone voicemails of celebrities, politicians, and crime victims in its search of scoops.

Of course, when government agencies do it, it's okay.

More than a dozen News of the World journalists and editors have been arrested, and the scandal has also claimed the jobs of two top London police officers, Cameron’s media adviser, and senior Murdoch executives.  

 Again, notice how the POLICE ASPECT is MINIMIZED?!!!

It has also set off national soul-searching about the balance between press freedom and individual privacy....   

How does breaking the law fit into balance?


Globe is starting to look more and more like People Magazine.

Last Flight Out of Britain

The plane ran out of gas?

"Passengers on jet asked for fuel money" November 18, 2011|By Associated Press

LONDON - Airlines have already begun charging for food, drinks, seat assignments, and baggage. Now one is demanding that passengers cough up extra cash on board for fuel.

Hundreds of passengers traveling from India to Britain were stranded for six hours in Vienna when their Comtel Air flight stopped for fuel on Tuesday.

The charter service asked them to kick in more than $31,000 to fund the rest of the flight to Birmingham, England.

The situation may represent a new low in customer care in an era when flyers are seeing long lines, long waits, and few perks.

Britain’s Channel 4 news broadcast video showing a Comtel cabin crew member telling passengers: “We need some money to pay the fuel, to pay the airport, to pay everything we need. If you want to go to Birmingham, you have to pay.’’

Some passengers said they were sent off the plane to cash machines in Vienna to raise the money....


Better ante up and get out now:

"Heathrow braces for UK strike" November 26, 2011|By Cassandra Vinograd, Associated Press

LONDON - A public sector strike in Britain next week threatens to paralyze operations at Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport.

An estimated 2 million workers are expected to participate in a 24-hour walkout to protest changes in public sector pensions on Wednesday - billed as potentially the biggest union action since 1979.

The lines at Heathrow’s immigration counters are expected to be so long that passengers will need to be held on planes, and 12-hour delays for arriving passengers are likely, warned BAA, the airport’s operator.  

More time to collect money to fund the rest of the trip.

“This in turn would quickly create gridlock at the airport, with no available aircraft parking stands, mass cancellations of departing aircraft, and diversions outside the UK for arriving aircraft,’’ Normand Boivin, the chief operating officer for Heathrow, warned in a letter to airlines....


Connecting With London's Protests

"After riots, London police move to stem gang violence" November 25, 2011|By Karla Adam, Washington Post

LONDON - The predawn raid last month was part of the London Metropolitan Police’s new antigang strategy, and the sheer size of the overall operation, 200 officers fanning out to 17 homes of suspected gang members, drove home a new seriousness on the part of authorities about tackling gang violence.  

It's always something, isn't it? Any justification for the club.  

Ever stop and think that the POLICE are the BIGGEST and MOST-ARMED GANG?

Britain’s gang problem shot to the top of the national agenda in August after riots in which mobs torched town centers and looted shops in major cities around England. 


As shocked Britons began a heated debate about how best to combat disorder, Prime Minister David Cameron declared an “all-out war on gangs,’’ although fewer than 20 percent of the 2,914 people arrested in the riots have proved to be linked to the violent groups.  

How many wars you have going now? But the British social safety net needs shredding so banksters can get paid?

Some critics have called Cameron’s approach misdirected. But British officials have defended it, arguing that gangs bore a disproportionate responsibility for the mayhem and that their influence has proved devastating in poorer communities.  

Why is there such poverty in the West, huh?

Britain has a long history of gangs, but street gangs similar to those in the United States began to emerge prominently only in the 1970s.

Experts say that gangs in London tend to be less hierarchical than those in the United States and that many are driven primarily by fierce loyalty to their neighborhoods, particularly public-housing sites.

The strategy being used by London police draws heavily on lessons from the United States, including a 1990s police project in Boston called Operation Ceasefire that coincided with a spectacular reduction in the city’s homicide rate.  

That's actually been rising over the last decade, but who cares about facts when a police-state agenda needs a shove?

London’s Operation Connect is an expansion of a pilot program that began in April. It calls for authorities to present reputed gang members with an ultimatum: exit the gang or risk the full weight of the law, such as the early morning raid, whose targets had dismissed the hand-delivered warning sent a week earlier by the local police commissioner.

Under the plan, those who agree to leave gangs would be offered job training and other assistance, including family relocation.

But at least one former gang leader in London has warned that the new outreach effort could fail because of tensions between police and the minority community.

The police have “done so much grief to the community, especially the black community, they aren’t never going to get trust from anyone,’’ said Elijah Kerr, who once led one of the most feared gangs in Britain.  

Same over here.


Related: Blessed British Protesters

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Taking Time For the Tunisian Vote

Be prepared to wait in line.

"More than 2,000 Tunisians marched in favor of a secular state that allows press freedom and other rights. The demonstration was a response to protests and violence by Islamist extremists.

Tensions are high ahead of an Oct. 23 vote to elect an assembly charged with writing a new constitution. The vote follows the uprising that ousted Tunisia’s autocratic leader in January and sparked the Arab Spring.

New ultraconservative groups of Muslims known as Salafists have attacked movie theaters and TV stations in recent days for showing material they say denigrates Islam.


"Tunisian women gain, slowly" October 23, 2011|By Bouazza Ben Bouazza and Paul Schemm, Associated Press

TUNIS - The new constituent assembly that will emerge from Tunisia’s landmark elections this weekend will, without a doubt, have one of the highest percentages of female members of any Middle Eastern parliament.

But for the female activists of Tunisia, who have long distinguished themselves from the rest of the Arab world for their progressive policies of equality, it is not enough....

Tunisia is one of the few Arab countries where women have long been allowed into the hallowed ranks of the judiciary and are prominent in medicine, education, government, and even the security forces. Women make up 55 percent of university students....

And that is now in jeopardy?


"Tunisians cast historic votes peacefully - and in long lines" October 24, 2011|By David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times

TUNIS - Millions of Tunisians cast votes yesterday for an assembly to draft a new constitution, in a burst of pride and hope that after inspiring the regional revolt that is still shaking the Arab world, their small country could now lead the way to democracy.

“Tunisians showed the world how to make a peaceful revolution without icons, without ideology, and now we are going to show the world how we can build a real democracy,’’ Marcel Marzouki, founder of a liberal political party and former dissident exile, said as he waited in a long line outside a polling place in the coastal town of Sousse.

“This will have a real impact in places like Libya and Egypt and Syria, after the fall of its regime,’’ he said. “The whole Arab world is watching.’’

Tunisia’s moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, was widely expected to win at least a plurality of the vote, and its founder, Rachid Ghannouchi, declared last week that it would win a majority. Results were not expected before today.

Many voters said that in the final days of the campaign the essential choice came down to a vote for Ennahda or against it.

Ennahda had a long history of opposition to the dictatorship before former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali eviscerated it in the 1990s, and its leaders have said that they hope to establish a durable, pluralistic democracy that will protect the rights of individuals and minorities from whoever is in power.

They cite the model of Turkey, a secular democracy now governed by a party with an Islamic identity. Ennahda has also pledged to form a unity government with Tunisia’s liberal parties that would rule by consensus until democratic institutions are well established.

After 10 months of anxiety and street protests since the sudden uprising that forced Ben Ali to flee the country, Tunisians standing in orderly lines to vote expressed confidence that, for the first time in their history, an honest count of their ballots would determine the country’s future. Many were sure their votes would change Tunisia for the better, regardless of who won, and some predicted an almost magical transformation....

From luxury resorts to the most crowded slums, the voting appeared to run smoothly. The interim government deployed soldiers to watch over polling places from the outside, and voters waited patiently in long lines for an hour or more in many locations. In less affluent and more culturally conservative precincts, voters segregated themselves into one line for men and another for women....

You are already moving backwards, ladies.


"Islamic party makes strong showing in Tunisia’s first elections; Ennahda wins half of overseas seats in new assembly" October 25, 2011|By Paul Schemm, Associated Press

 TUNIS - A moderate Islamist party claimed victory yesterday in Tunisia’s landmark elections as preliminary results indicated it had won the biggest share of votes, assuring it will have a strong say in the future constitution of the country....  


Tunisia was known for decades for its repressive leadership but also for its progressive legislation on women and families, which secular-leaning Tunisians fear Ennahda will roll back if it takes a commanding number of seats in the new assembly....

Is it just me, or is the agenda-pushing AmeriKan media implying the dictatorship was better?

See: Tracking Tunisia

He was a corrupt dictator, but he loved the ladies (sigh).

Turnout in Tunisia was massive on a day electric with the excitement, with long lines at polling stations.  

Hey, I don't want to spoil their fun with my cynicism.

More than 90 percent of the country’s 4.1 million registered voters, out of a 7.5 million strong electorate, participated, said Boubker Bethabet, secretary general of the election commission.

Voters were electing a 217-seat constituent assembly that will shape their fledgling democracy, choose a new government, and write a constitution that would pave the way for future elections. 

I can see why they are excited.


"Islamist party seeks coalition in Tunisia" October 26, 2011|Associated Press

TUNIS - The moderate Islamist party that appears to have won Tunisia’s landmark elections was in talks with rivals yesterday about forming an interim coalition government to lead the birthplace of the Arab Spring through its transition to democracy.  

Oh, no!

Partial results released yesterday supported the Ennahda Party’s claims that it had won the most seats in a 217-member assembly with the task of running the country and writing its new constitution. But results so far indicate the Islamists had failed to win an outright majority, meaning a coalition must be formed. 

Oh, thank Allah!

Ennahda’s ability to win an election as well as work with other groups will be closely watched in the Arab world, where other Islamist parties are to compete in elections soon....   

Meaning its being closely watched by the powers for which the mouthpiece media fronts.


Also see: Tunisia's Islamists Are Out

"Tunisia summons Arafat’s widow" November 01, 2011|Associated Press

TUNIS - Tunisia has issued a warrant summoning the widow of deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat over a corruption scandal, the state news agency reported yesterday.

The warrant was issued last week over Suha Arafat’s role in a scandal involving the former Tunisian dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his family, and other high government officials, said Kadhem Zine El Abidine, spokesman for the Justice Ministry.

He did not provide any details, but an online journal “Attounissia’’ said she was being investigated over the International School of Carthage, which she founded in 2006 with Ben Ali’s wife, Leila Trabelsi.  

See: The Trabelsis of Tunisia

Relations between the two deteriorated over the next year until Suha Arafat was declared persona non grata and she left for Malta, where her brother Gaby al-Tawil was the Palestinian ambassador.

A Palestinian official in Tunis, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said she was still living in Malta.

The warrant is a summons for questioning, either as a suspect or witness to the case, not for arrest.

After Arafat died, Suha Arafat received a Tunisian passport. Her citizenship was revoked three years later after a dispute with the family of Ben Ali.

Since the uprising that ousted Ben Ali in January, Tunisian courts have been pursuing people linked to the former regime on charges of corruption.