Greeks’ nationwide strike aims to rattle EU leaders
By Liz Alderman THE NEW YORK TIMES
The protesters railed against “austerity measures” demanded by the country’s lenders.
ATHENS, Greece — Tens of thousands of Greeks joined the second nationwide strike in three weeks yesterday, moving to bring the country to a near-standstill in a bid to show European Union leaders meeting in Brussels that additional austerity cuts being demanded by Greece’s lenders would cripple society and further depress the battered economy.
Protest rallies began peacefully but were disrupted when demonstrators broke away from the crowd near Syntagma Square outside parliament and threw rocks, bottles and firebombs at police, who responded with tear gas. A crowd, estimated by police at 15,000 people, thinned out, some with tears streaming from their eyes.
A rally by the Communist Party drew 7,000 people, according to a police spokeswoman. Unions said the turnout was about 40,000 people, double the official estimate. Many demonstrators shouted abuse at the rows of riot police officers.
“You’re criminals, selling out your country for 600 euros a month,” one man screamed at a group of officers. “Why are you doing it? Why?”
It was the latest in a wave of protests that appear to be gaining steam in southern European countries weary of austerity, particularly Portugal and Spain, where citizens have come out en masse to push against grinding cuts as their economies spiral lower. The action comes as Greece’s “troika” of lenders — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission — press Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to seal a package of austerity cuts of 13.5 billion euros ($18 billion). The cuts include new reductions in salaries and pensions, plus demands to streamline labor laws that are seen as hurting the country’s competitiveness.
The package, which is required to unlock a 31.5 billion-euro loan that Greece needs to stay solvent, has been delayed several times in the past two months as the government butted heads with the troika. The government contends that those at the margins of Greek society, and the rising number of people falling out of the middle class, cannot take much more.
“Agreeing to catastrophic measures means driving society to despair,” said Yannis Panagopoulos, the head of Greece’s largest private-sector labor union. “The consequences, as well as the protests, will then be indefinite,” he said.
The tragedy outlined in this story here about Greece is being found replicated all over Europe as people are being subjected to the so-called “austerities.” Much as it blows our minds, we are left contemplating what on earth could be causing all this? I do not accept that it is simply because many of these countries are spending too much and don’t know how to manage their resources. Many of these friends across the pond have been the envy of the world the way they have been able to offer “universal medical coverage” to their people, while maintaining normal functions of schools and other civil resources. It is clear that something has changed – big time!
It appears that the decade of the 90’s is how far back we must look. Isn’t that when we started trying to raise all boats around the world? Noble idea, think it came from Clinton. Gotta love that man. Hey, I’m all for it but I must admit, I want whats good for America FIRST and foremost. Trade agreements are good, I guess – – that’s not an area I am conversant with. Somehow, America is coming our on the stinky end of this stick. It is NOT GOOD FOR PEOPLE – “its killing us,” but it seems to be just dandy for corporate interests. Of course,the corporate structure. That is where the major, huge change is.
Fair and reasonable profits are no longer cool or acceptable. Insatiable appetites or GREED – lets call it what it is, is driving all the smart operators these days. We see what it’s doing abroad and frankly, it is manifesting here. How much longer must good people wait for justice and fairness to start happening again in our own country? Must we also have five bombs and riots in the street? That is not our way. However, when good people are driven to the edge of desperation with no recourse. . . .spell it out – – leaders who don’t care, what does anyone think is going to happen.
Most of us know who Romney is, what he has done and how he feels about us. No surprise there. But Obama is the leader we all prayed for and so desperately needed. He had the ideas, plans and a beautiful mind. But he broke our hearts with his seeming gutless approach to getting things done. Don’t think he’s got the fire in the belly for a fight. It ain’t easy being president, I get that, but its a job he said he wanted. Washington needs so much fixin that I think it should almost all be thrown out. . .but that’s not practical. It can be solved. It has to. FDA, EPA, FIRE EVERYBODY WHO HAS EVER BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH MONSANTO. and build it back up. We have a right to health and civil protections. Who put that darned soap box up here? Back to my point – and I did have one:
Our major problem in this country and abroad is the economy. NOBODY has any jobs. Well, duh…if they’ve all been outsourced to China and Mexico and so on – – why let that happen? I will not accept that something can’t be done about this. Invent NEW TAXES! and regulations to go with it. There is no logic which has anything to do with sanity or justice that allows entire companies to be shipped to China leaving hundreds and (thousands over two decades) without jobs or a chance of getting one like they had say at $15.00 to $40.00 per hour and then done for less than a dollar an hour. It’s no wonder the rich get richer and the poor people multiply.
If there are any among you who think I’m just making this crap up, pick your poison, I’ve brought forward three separate links for you on what our challenger to the presidency of these United States of America has been doing his entire working life.
First, the Huffington Post regarding all those workers let go at SENSATA, manufacturer of sensors for cars.
Second, the Guardian with a second story, but with a different slant – worth reading.
Third, Mother Jones on all the above, but focusing on Mitt’s career, etc. Be informed.