Greek pensioners protest austerity cuts

Friday Feb 15, 2013

Greek pensioners shout slogans during a march in central Athens to protest against the government’s austerity measures. (file photo)

Greek pensioners have demonstrated in Athens to protest against the government’s harsh austerity measures and highlight the consequences of the program on their life.

On Thursday, hundreds of elderly braved the heavy rain in the capital and marched to the country’s Labor Ministry to express anger at the government’s economic policies and rising unemployment, the Associated Press reported.

“We are not just talking about some problems. They are taking our lives away,” said Dimos Koumbouris, leader of Greece’s main pensioners association.

“We can’t pay our electricity bills, or the emergency taxes. We haven’t enough for our medicines, and it’s putting our lives in danger,” he added. Continue reading

US: After the elections, how will Obama’s liberals grease the “austerity” path?

[Glenn Greenwald, an analyst/journalist of progressive reform politics, reveals the likely path of Democratic/Obama/liberal cuts in major historic social programs such as Social Security and Medicare in the weeks ahead.  Many who supported Obama as the last, best defense against such cuts, will find, now, that the system, which has created the economic and fiscal crisis, has no means or will  to solve the problem it has made. — Frontlines ed.]

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Obama and progressives: what will liberals do with their big election victory?

With fights over social security, Medicare, ongoing war, and other key progressive priorities looming, what will they do with their new power?

guardian.co.uk

Wednesday 7 November 2012
The greatest and most enduring significance of Tuesday night’s election results will likely not be the re-election of Barack Obama, but rather what the outcome reflects about the American electorate. It was not merely Democrats, but liberalism, which was triumphant.

To begin with, it is hard to overstate just how crippled America’s right-wing is. Although it was masked by their aberrational win in 2010, the GOP has now been not merely defeated, but crushed, in three out of the last four elections: in 2006 (when they lost control of the House and Senate), 2008 (when Obama won easily and Democrats expanded their margins of control), and now 2012. The horrendous political legacy of George Bush and Dick Cheney continues to sink the GOP, and demographic realities – how toxic the American Right is to the very groups that are now becoming America’s majority – makes it difficult to envision how this will change any time soon.

Meanwhile, new laws to legalize both same-sex marriage and marijuana use were enacted in multiple states with little controversy, an unthinkable result even a few years ago, while Obama’s late-term embrace of same-sex marriage seems to have resulted only in political benefit with no political harm. Democrats were sent to the Senate by deeply red states such as Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota, along with genuinely progressive candidates on domestic issues, including Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, who became the first openly gay person elected to the Senate. As a cherry on the liberal cake, two of the most loathed right-wing House members – Rep Joe Walsh of Illinois and Allen West of Florida – were removed from office.

So the delirium of liberals this morning is understandable: the night could scarcely have gone better for them. By all rights, they should expect to be a more powerful force in Washington. But what are they going to get from it? Will they wield more political power? Will their political values and agenda command more respect? Unless the disempowering pattern into which they have voluntarily locked themselves changes, the answer to those questions is almost certainly “no”.

Consider the very first controversial issue Obama is likely to manage, even before the glow of his victory dims, literally within the next couple of weeks. It is widely expected – including by liberals – that Obama intends (again) to pursue a so-called “Grand Bargain” with the GOP: a deficit- and debt-cutting agreement whereby the GOP agrees to some very modest tax increases on the rich in exchange for substantial cuts to entitlement programs such as social security and Medicare, the crown legislative jewels of American liberalism. Continue reading

Greek unions protest austerity package

A riot police officer is engulfed by petrol bomb flames thrown by protesters in front of the parliament during clashes in Athens, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. Greece’s fragile coalition government faces its toughest test so far when lawmakers vote later Wednesday on new painful austerity measures demanded to keep the country afloat, on the second day of a nationwide general strike. The 13.5 billion euro ($17.3 billion) package is expected to scrape through Parliament, following a hasty one-day debate. But potential defections could severely weaken the conservative-led coalition formed in June with the intention of keeping Greece in the euro. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)

ATHENS, Greece, Nov. 7 (UPI) — ATHENS, Greece, Nov. 7 (UPI) — Thousands of Greeks joined protests Wednesday afternoon against a new package of cuts set for a vote in Parliament.

An estimated 70,000 people rallied at the Parliament Building in Syntagma Square in Athens, CNN reported. There were smaller demonstrations elsewhere.Melina Grigoriadou, who works for an export company, said pay cuts and higher taxes have already cost her family about one-third of their income.

“The measures just never stop. Every time, politicians say they are going to be the last measures … they are never the last,” Grigoriadou told CNN at a demonstration in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city. “There is no end in this, there’s no solution. The measures are awful — it’s not austerity, it’s something even worse.”

Unions held a second day of strikes, disrupting public transportation and other services in the country. Some mass transit resumed Wednesday in Athens so protesters could get to Syntagma Square.

The strikes were called as Parliament gets ready to consider a bill that would institute a series of painful social and financial reforms, ekathimerini.com reported. Continue reading

As government, creditors near deal on further austerity, Greek unions hold new general strike

A man eats a meal from a soup kitchen organized by the Church of Greece in Athens, on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, which has been designated International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Greece is in the throes of an economic depression that has seen the economy shrink by a fifth over the past five years, while unemployment is at 25 percent, the highest in decades. The crisis has caused a major rise in homelessness, while the number of people depending on soup kitchens for sustenance has rocketed. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

NICHOLAS PAPHITIS,  Associated Press, October 18, 2012

ATHENS, Greece — Labor unions in recession-hobbled Greece are holding another general strike against a new harsh austerity program, as European leaders beset by a deep debt crisis and economic stagnation gather for a summit meeting in Brussels.

Thursday’s strike is set to close down public services and severely hamper most forms of transport — with even taxi drivers joining in for nine hours — while shopkeepers in Athens and other cities are planning to shut down for the day. It is the second general strike in less than a month.

Unions are organizing two separate marches in central Athens. Demonstrators’ ire will focus on the new belt-tightening for 2013-14, demanded by bailout creditors to release a desperately needed new rescue loan payment.

The city has seen hundreds of anti-austerity protests — many violent — over the past three years, since Greece revealed it had been misreporting key deficit figures and sank into an economic gloom so deep it has been likened to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The country is clinging to solvency with the help of two massive international bailouts worth a total €240 billion ($315 billion). To secure them, it committed to drastic spending cuts, tax hikes and reforms, aimed to cure years of profligate government spending.

But while significantly reducing budget deficits, the measures accelerated a recession that after five years is closer to a depression. By the end of next year, the economy is expected to have shrunk by about a quarter from 2008 levels. And with one in four workers out of a job, Greece has the worst unemployment rate in the 27-nation European Union.

“In general, we’re going from bad to worse,” said 85-year-old pensioner Giorgos Ierodimos. “Salaries are being reduced, pensions are being reduced, everything is getting more expensive, from food to health care to hospitals, medicines, everything. So how will people live? How will we live?” Continue reading

Spain prepares more austerity, protesters battle police

A demonstrator struggles with Spanish National Police riot officers outside the the Spanish parliament in Madrid September 25, 2012. Protesters clashed with police in Spain's capital on Tuesday as the government prepares a new round of unpopular austerity measures for the 2013 budget that will be announced on Thursday. REUTERS-Sergio Perez

By Tracy Rucinski and Paul Day, REUTERS

MADRID | Tue Sep 25, 2012

(Reuters) – Protesters clashed with police in Spain’s capital on Tuesday as the government prepared a new round of unpopular austerity measures for the 2013 budget to be announced on Thursday.

Thousands gathered in Neptune plaza, a few meters from El Prado museum in central Madrid, where they formed a human chain around parliament, surrounded by barricades, police trucks and more than 1,500 police in riot gear.

Police fired rubber bullets and beat protesters with truncheons, first as protesters were trying to tear down barriers and later to clear the square. The police said at least 22 people had been arrested and at least 32 injured, including four policemen.

As lawmakers started to leave the parliament shortly after 2100 GMT in official cars or by foot, a few hundred people were still demonstrating in front of the building. Most dispersed shortly afterwards.

The protest, promoted over the Internet by different activist groups, was younger and more rowdy than recent marches called by labor unions. Protesters said they were fed up with cuts to public salaries and health and education.

“My annual salary has dropped by 8,000 euros and if it falls much further I won’t be able to make ends meet,” said Luis Rodriguez, 36, a firefighter who joined the protest. He said he was considering leaving Spain to find a better quality of life. Continue reading

Greece: as politicians trash wages, pensions, jobs, people chant “get out, thieves!”

Greece approves spending cuts as protesters riot

The legislation features about $4 billion in severe budget trims, including 15,000 job reductions this year alone. Furious crowds chant outside Parliament, and several Athens buildings are set on fire

by Anthee Carassava, Los Angeles Times–Reporting from Athens, February 13, 2012

As thousands of protesters took to the streets and violence ripped through central Athens, Greece’s Parliament approved yet another round of punishing spending cuts to secure international rescue funds and ease fears of a calamitous financial collapse, potentially perilous for global markets and Europe‘s single currency.

The legislation, featuring about $4 billion in severe budget trims including steep wage and pension cuts as well as 15,000 job reductions this year alone, was backed by 199 lawmakers of the 300-member Parliament. Five abstained, 22 were absent and 74 lawmakers — including socialist and conservative supporters of the coalition government — voted against the bill that capped a ferocious 11-hour debate ending early Monday.

Throughout the marathon discussion, thousands of Greeks opposed to the austerity package descended on the sprawling grounds of Parliament shouting, “Get out!” and “Thieves!” The crowd swelled into the tens of thousands and their chants echoed across the capital — even renowned music composer Mikis Theodorakis showed up — as mobs of youths clashed with police and set fires to at least 34 buildings. Continue reading

Crisis hitting Eastern Europe, massive protests continue to grow

A woman passes by a fire set up in the middle of the road by protesters at the University Square in Bucharest, January 15, 2012.

Romanian PM warns protesters on fifth day

Monday, January 16, 2012

By Radu Marinas and Luiza Ilie

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s prime minister warned anti-austerity protesters gathering for a fifth day on Monday that violence would not be tolerated after 59 people were injured in clashes between demonstrators and riot police at the weekend.

The country’s worst unrest for more than a decade has seen riot police using tear gas against protesters throwing bricks, smashing windows and setting fire to newspaper stands and rubbish bins in central Bucharest since it began on Thursday.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered peacefully in central Bucharest and other cities on Monday afternoon, demanding Prime Minister Emil Boc and his close political ally President Traian Basescu resign.

The numbers were expected to rise in the evening and analysts predicted more protests but did not see them affecting the austerity measures passed by the ruling coalition’s small but stable parliamentary majority.

The country had hitherto avoided the kind of violence that has shaken Greece and other indebted European states despite a 25 percent cut in public sector pay and five percentage point increase in VAT imposed in 2010 to maintain an IMF-led bailout. Continue reading