Eleven Latin American countries refused to back an IMF move this week to keep bankrolling Greece, citing risks of non-repayment.

IMF finds $11bn black hole in Greek finances and warns of new write-off

 

Recession continues in Greece as unemployment hits 27%, but flickering growth returns elsewhere in EU.

The International Monetary Fund warned the eurozone yesterday that it may be forced to write off a chunk of Greece‘s debt after identifying an $11bn black hole in the finances of the recession-stricken country.

In its regular update on the programme of financial austerity and structural change agreed to by Athens in return for financial help, the Washington-based IMF said weak growth and a sluggish pace of reform had opened up a funding gap in both 2014 and 2015.

The IMF, which is struggling to persuade developing countries to back Greece’s bailout, said “debt sustainability” continued to be a risk.

The commitment of Greece’s European partners to provide relief as needed to keep debt on the programmed path remains, therefore, a critical part of the programme.

“But the programmed path entails still very high debt well into the next decade, leaving Greece accident-prone for an extended period. Should debt-sustainability concerns prove to be weighing on investor sentiments even with the framework for debt relief now in place, European partners should consider providing relief that would entail a faster reduction in debt than currently programmed.”

On a day when 11 Latin American countries led by Brazil announced that they had failed to support handing the latest tranche of bailout funds to Greece, the IMF estimated the funding gap for the country that sparked the eurozone debt crisis in 2010 would be $4.4bn in 2014 rising to $6.5bn in 2015

“Greece has made important progress in rectifying pre-crisis imbalances” the Fund said, noting that the country was on the cusp of balancing its books once debt interest payments were excluded and that the trade deficit had also come down sharply.

But it stressed that the adjustment had been caused mainly by recession rather than by an improvement in productivity caused by structural reforms. “The ongoing correction of imbalances has come at a very high cost. The economy is in the sixth year of recession. Output has fallen by nearly 25% since its peak in 2007. The unemployment rate is about 27%, and youth unemployment exceeds 57%.

“To avoid further across-the-board cuts in wages and pensions, and to ensure that the recession gradually bottoms out and gives way to a steady recovery in 2014, it is essential that structural reforms gain much stronger support and momentum.”

In the eurozone as a whole, tentative optimism that the recession is finally receding was supported by the first fall in unemployment in more than two years in June. After rising by almost 3.75m to more than 19m since the spring of 2011, the EU’s statistical agency Eurostat said the jobless total reduced by 24,000.

While the unemployment rate remained steady at 12.1%, the figures showed wide variations in joblessness. The unemployment rate held steady in Germany, rose slightly in France, the Netherlands and Belgium and came down to 26.3 % in Spain and 12.1% in Italy.

Howard Archer, European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “June’s dip in unemployment is likely a reflection of recent increased signs that eurozone economic activity has stabilised, and it fuels hopes that the eurozone can eke out marginal growth over the second half of 2013.”

 

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/31/imf-greece-11bn-write-off

 

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You are covering a resistance event in order to inform the society? You are fired!

59 Journalists Laid Off, Forced to Quit During Gezi Resistance

Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) Istanbul Branch released a statement saying that at least 22 media staff were laid off and 37 forced to quit work during Turkey’s Gezi Resistance protests. “Media in Turkey is going through one of its darkest periods,” branch chairperson Durmuş said.

 

Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) Istanbul Branch released a statement saying that at least 22 media staff were laid off and 37 forced to quit work during Gezi Resistance protests across Turkey.

The statement has been announced around a press conference at TGS headquarters with the attendance of Tuğçe Tatari and Hasan Cömert, former journalists at Akşam newspaper and NTV channel respectively. 

Durmuş: Darkest period of media in Turkey

“Media in Turkey is going through one of its darkest periods ever with all its editorial policies depending on censures and misinformations that confiscated public right to be informed. These policies are serving to the government and not the people,” TGS Istanbul Branch Chairperson Gökhan Durmuş in a statement. 

“As political authorities are strengthening its pressures on media through media moguls every day, media staff are resisting with their activities, articles, and programs. However, they are also subjected to mobbing, lays offs or forced resignations. The lack of unionization among media is making them more fragile to attacks and pressures.”

22 lay offs, 37 resignations

Durmuş stated that 59 media staff became unemployed since the beginning of Gezi Resistance protest on May 27. 

“The situation of 14 media staff is still unknown. Among 59 who lost their job, there are 22 lay offs, 37 forced resignations. 

“A huge majority – if not all – of these lay offs and resignations are related to the censure and disinformation policies of media corporations. Our friends resisted against these measures, they struggled to restore public right to be informed, and it costed them with their jobs.” 

“Some of them lost their job because their magazine was shut down. Others faced censure in their work. Some even lost their job because of their tweets. One co-worker lost his job because he greeted Gezi Park protestors who were holding a demonstration in front of his workplace. We also know that some of those lay offs have been issued without repartitions. 

“As Journalists Union of Turkey, we are reminding the authorities that we will resume our struggle against media slaughters, moguls and government pressures, uninsured working, censure and misinformation policies. We will be standing side by side with all our colleagues who perform their profession despite all pressures, lays offs and forced resignations.”

“And lastly, we are calling to government officials and media moguls. Stop the slaughter in media! Whatever you do, you will always confront ‘resisting’ journalists who back up their professional dignity, seek the truth and are ready to pay the cost of fighting for public right to be informed.” 

Tatari: TMSF acted out of its boundaries 

Following the press statement, former Akşam newspaper journalist Tuğçe Tatari held a statement concerning Turkey’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) order to confiscate the newspaper.  

“TMSF can lay off a journalist. But they should do in order to replace him/her with a better candidate. This can mark a reformation in the newspaper. But TMSF can’t just hire a columnist with no popular recognition. There is no way a newspaper can make profit that way. Apparently, Akşam newspaper is not doing great in terms of sales.” 

“TMSF’s role is to confiscate institution facing bankrupt danger and turn them into profitable institutions again. It is not in TMSF’s business to change editorial policies according to the current government’s demands. This against media ethics as well as law.” 

Cömert: Mainstream media no longer does journalism 

Cömert, on the other hand, said there is currently no possibility to do journalism in Turkey’s mainstream media as the sector belonged to business people.

“We feel like we are doing something dirty. By the time we are fired, we are thought to do things that we are not supposed to be doing. They are telling us how to cover certain news. This is already ‘awful’ enough.” (EA/BM)

* Photo credit: Ipek Şahinler

 

Source: http://www.bianet.org/english/media/148660-59-journalists-laid-off-forced-to-quit-during-gezi-resistance

 

EU: the corporate paradise

The European Union: Where Corporate Fantasies Come True

 

Edward Snowden has exposed more than a massive spying operation.  The whistleblower has – perhaps unintentionally – drawn attention to just how obsequious Europe’s political leaders are towards the US.

Angela Merkel and François Hollande are reportedly furious over revelations that America has been reading their diplomats’ emails (though their fury can’t be that intense given that a rumour that Snowden was on a flight to Bolivia was sufficient for France to block the plane from its airspace).  There were hints too that a planned trans-Atlantic trade agreement could be in jeopardy as a result of the controversy.  Yet the talks have opened this month as planned.  With many of the world’s most powerful corporations adamant that the talks take place, they were unlikely to be derailed by a spat over snooping.

In May this year, a ‘business alliance’ to support the planned trade deal was established.  Many of the firms belonging to this coalition – BP, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Bank, British American Tobacco, Nestlé – have been involved in similar initiatives since the 1990s.  Using a highly dubious methodology, the alliance estimates that a transatlantic trade and investment partnership (known by the ugly acronym TTIP) would bring benefits of €119 billion to the EU and €95 billion to the US per year.  What they don’t spell out is that the price of any such benefits could be the destruction of democracy.

A leaked document detailing what EU officials wish to achieve in the negotiations says that an eventual agreement should include ‘state-of-the-art’ provisions on ‘dispute settlement’.  Under this plan, special tribunals would be set up to allow corporations to sue governments over laws that hamper them from maximising their profits.

When clauses like those being envisaged have been inserted into previous investment treaties, corporations have invoked them in order to challenge health and environmental laws that were not to their liking.  Australian rules that all cigarettes be sold in unattractive packaging and Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear power are among the measures that corporations have tried to torpedo in the name of ‘investor protection’.

What will the masters of the global economy take on next: minimum wage levels; restrictions on hazardous chemicals; food quality standards?  All of these advances are the results of struggle by workers and campaigners.  All of them could be at risk if European and American negotiators go ahead with their plan to set up a special court system that corporations alone may use.

Peter Mandelson must shoulder some of the blame for the extremist agenda now being pursued.  In 2006, when he was EU trade commissioner, Mandelson published an official blueprint called Global Europe.  It committed the Brussels bureaucracy to work in tandem with corporations to remove any obstacles they encountered throughout the world.

The blueprint closely ressembled recommendations made by pressure groups like the European Services Forum (ESF).   Bringing together Microsoft, BT, Veolia and – at the time – Goldman Sachs, the ESF has its origins in the 1999 conference of the World Trade Organisation, best remembered for the ‘Battle of Seattle’ – the large-scale protests against it. 

In The Brussels Business, an excellent film about corporate lobbying, the ESF’s Pascal Kerneis waxes emotional as he recalls how some ‘high-VIPs’ were unable to attend important meetings in Seattle because of the demonstrations outside their hotel.   Kerneis, however, did not allow this display of people power to weaken his determination to refashion the international economy in the way that his elitist pals wanted. 

In his dealings with Mandelson’s team of advisers, Kerneis argued that if the EU is unable to have the wishes of corporations fulfilled at the WTO level, it should concentrate on twisting the arms of individual governments.  The stilted phrasing of some ESF briefing papers though could not conceal that they were designed to turn some of the wildest capitalist fantasies into reality.  One advocated that the EU should strive to remove all capital requirements for banks and caps on foreign ownership of companies in its key trading partners, as well as any pesky rules preventing corporations from sending profits abroad (to, say, a tax haven).

As they were drafted before the financial crisis that erupted in 2008, these papers have a carefree, almost naive feel to them.  And yet the European Commission is still striving to attain the core goals identified in such documents.  The Commission’s latest annual report on ‘trade and investment barriers’ says that all ‘relevant instruments and policies’ will be marshalled worldwide ‘to make sure the playing field is levelled’.  On the surface, that may sound innocuous.  In practice though, it means that corporations are accorded more rights than human beings. 

If an Indian arrived in Heathrow Airport tomorrow and demanded to automatically have the same entitlements as a British citizen, he or she would probably be arrested.  Yet the EU executive believes that big Western companies active in India should enjoy ‘national treatment’ – that is they should be treated exactly like Indian firms.  Britain’s industrialisation was achieved at least partly because the textiles sector was shielded from foreign competition.   Yet blinkered by neoliberal ideology, Brussels officials want to prevent poorer countries from applying the same tactics, which they now describe as ‘protectionist’ (a dirty word, according to these ideologues).

The willingness to allow corporate lobbyists set the rules is not confined to trade policy.  Financial regulation too has been heavily influenced by the world’s most powerful banks.

Charlie McCreevy, the EU’s single market commissioner from 2004 to 2010, displayed a deep aversion to oversight during his time in office.  His hands-off approach can be attributed to the fact that the ‘experts’ he appointed to guide him held exorbitantly-paid posts at the investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.  A consultative group on hedge funds that the Irishman assembled was comprised entirely of insiders from the financial services industry.  

When Michel Barnier was tasked with taking over McCreevy’s portfolio, Nicolas Sarkozy (remember him?) contended that giving this post to a Frenchman was a defeat for the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism.  Like many of Sarkozy’s proclamations, it was fanciful.  Barnier has kept up the dishonourable tradition of relying primarily on advice from the private sector. An ‘expert group’ on banking reform set up at his behest last year had a token representative from the European Consumers’ Organisation (known by the French acronym BEUC) and a couple of academics.  Most of its eleven members, however, were sitting or former bankers – or, worse still, weapons salesmen.

Financial service whizzkids are held in awe by EU policy-makers.  This became much apparent during 2009. Boris Johnson hopped on the Eurostar to Brussels that year to champion the City of London and predictably grabbed the headlines. Away from the glare of publicity, however, an army of hedge fund managers succeeded in eviscerating a law designed to restrain their gambling.  When the law went before the European Parliament, the hedge fund industry prepared a voluminous set of amendments.  Sharon Bowles, a Liberal Democrat MEP who chairs the Parliament’s economics committee, admitted to me that she signed amendments drafted by the financial industry and then tabled them in her own name.  This obviously begs the question of whether she is really working on behalf of her constituents or on behalf of banks.

The corporate lobby has proven adept at concocting myths.  Whereas it was patently obvious that the economic crisis was caused by the reckless behaviour of banks, powerful groupings have spread the falsehood that extravagance in public spending was really to blame.  The European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) – which includes the chief executives or chairmen of Shell, Volvo, Nestlé, Vodafone and Heineken – has been leading efforts to demolish the welfare state.  Among its core demands are that healthcare should be privatised so that Europe more closely resembles the US.  The ERT enjoys the kind of access to top-level politicians that defenders of the underprivileged are denied.  Herman Van Rompuy, the EU’s unelected ‘president’, is known to have dined with ERT delegations in private clubs, without any details of these encounters being posted on his website.  And in March this year, Merkel and Hollande, along with the European Commission’s head José Manuel Barroso, met ERT representatives in Berlin.   The ERT is pushing the Union’s governments to agree on a ‘competitiveness pact’ over the next twelve months.  Under this pact, each EU country would become obliged to drive down its wage levels and dilute its labour laws.

‘Competitiveness’ is a byword for crony capitalism.  It should not be confused with competition: among the ERT’s demands are that the EU becomes less fussy about controlling mergers between large companies.  Far from encouraging diversity, it wants to have wealth concentrated in increasingly fewer hands. 

Repeated so often, the idea of ‘competitiveness’ has assumed an almost religious significance among the EU elite.  Opposing it is regarded as heretical.

Despite Thatcher’s tetchy relationship with the EU institutions, the main tenets of Thatcherism have gone mainstream in Brussels.  Attempts made in earlier decades to give the Union a social dimension – by, for example, championing gender equality –  always amounted to fig-leafs for a project that was essentially right-wing and anti-democratic.  In more recent years, these fig-leafs have become increasingly slender.

Barroso is among a new generation of leaders who are demonstrably in thrall to the ‘Iron Lady’.  While he habitually describes the EU as a ‘social market’ economy, it is evident from his favoured policies that his real agenda is to bolster corporate power.  One key objective of the European Commission is to promote ‘public-private partnerships’.  This idea of handing over services financed by taxpayers to unaccountable companies can be traced back to Thatcher and her successor, John Major.

With few exceptions, the Union is cuddling up to big business and screwing the rest of us. Building a mass movement to confront corporate power has never been more urgent.

David Cronin’s book Corporate Europe: How Big Business Sets Policies on Food, Climate and War will be published in August.  It can be pre-ordered now from Pluto Press.

 

 

Source: http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/the_european_union_where_corporate_fantasies_come_true

Detroit bankrupted

This is the outcome of high economic specialisation (motor industry) and huge investment in construction sector

Detroit becomes largest US city to file for bankruptcy in historic ‘low point’

Michigan governor laments lowest point in city’s history after emergency manager fails to broker deal between city’s bondholders and pension funds

Sinking under huge debts and decades of mismanagement, Detroit formally filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, becoming the biggest US city ever to take such a drastic measure.

Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager, took the decision after failing to broker a deal between the city’s bondholders and its pension funds.

The filing sets a new record for municipal bankruptcies and dwarfs the previous record filings by Jefferson County, Alabama, and Stockton, California. No other city of Detroit’s size has ever gone bust.

Orr and the city’s creditors and pensioners will now begin a fraught legal consultation period while a court determines whether the city is eligible for “chapter 9” bankruptcy protection for its $18.5bn debts and liabilities.

In a letter posted with the filing, the Michigan governor Richard Snyder confirmed he had received Orr’s request to start the bankruptcy proceedings. He said it was “clear that the financial emergency in Detroit cannot be successfully addressed outside of such a filing, and it is the only reasonable alternative that is available.”

Snyder said he hoped the bankruptcy would be the beginning of the end of Detroit’s woes. “This decision comes in the wake of 60 years of decline in the city, a period in which reality was often ignored. I know that many will see this as a low point in the city’s history. If so, I think it will also be the foundation of the city’s future,” he wrote.

The governor painted a picture of a city in collapse. Citizens wait 58 minutes for the police to respond to calls, compared to a national average of 11 minutes. Only a third of ambulances were in service in the first quarter of 2013. There are approximately 78,000 abandoned buildings in the city. The unemployment rate had nearly tripled since 2000 and the homicide rate was at its highest level in 40 years, he said. Detroit is unable to meet its most basic obligations to its residents, let alone its creditors.

“The citizens of Detroit need and deserve a clear road out of the cycle of ever-decreasing services,” Snyder wrote.

Orr had set out a restructuring plan in June for the city, which has been plagued by corruption and plummeting revenues for years. But pension groups and bondholders balked at the terms. This week, pension funds objecting to Orr’s plan sued to stop him from making the move.

At a press conference in Detroit on Thursday evening, Orr said the city’s debts were currently claiming 38 cents on every $1 it receives in revenue. That figure would rise to 65 cents by 2017. “This is the right thing to do,” he said of the bankruptcy filing.

The White House said it was monitoring the situation but stopped short of offering any federal aid. Spokeswoman Amy Brundage said: “While leaders on the ground in Michigan and the city’s creditors understand that they must find a solution to Detroit’s serious financial challenge, we remain committed to continuing our strong partnership with Detroit as it works to recover and revitalize and maintain its status as one of America’s great cities.”

Matt Fabian, the managing director of bond expert Municipal Market Advisors, said the filing had been widely anticipated. “Detroit’s story has been terrible for 50 years. This is just the latest terrible thing to happen.”

He said bankruptcy would allow Orr to renegotiate government contracts and other broad powers to impose draconian costs cuts. But he warned bankruptcy was not an easy path. “This will make it hard for the city to conduct day-to-day business. It will drain a lot of time, it could put people off moving businesses to Detroit and it could last for years,” he said.

Other major cities have teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, including New York in 1975, Cleveland in 1978 and Philadelphia in 1991. But all brokered deals rather than face the dire consequences of going bust. “Detroit has severe difficulties, but this would be an extraordinary event,” said James Spiotto, a chapter 9 expert and head of the bankruptcy unit at Chicago’s Chapman & Cutler, before the bankruptcy was confirmed.

If the filing is approved, Detroit’s cost of borrowing will soar and the city will struggle to raise cash, Spiotto warned. Meanwhile, officials would spend years battling in the court over who is owed what. “Chapter 9 is time-consuming, expensive and uncertain,” Spiotto said.

Orr has said bankruptcy was not his preferred option. But as talks foundered, his options narrowed. His original plan was to slash benefits to retirees, including pensions and healthcare, and cut already minimal services to the bone. Police and firefighters who retire before age 55, for example, would get no healthcare under one proposal. Bondholders would have received cents for every dollar in debt they hold.

Municipal bonds have traditionally been viewed as among the safest available investments. When Central Falls in Rhode Island went bust in 2011, the state passed a law giving bondholders priority over other creditors, including retirees. Detroit’s investors must now be wondering whether bankruptcy would give them a better deal.

Neither side was willing to sign up for Orr’s settlement.

This week, the city’s two pension boards – the General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System – sued Orr and Michigan governor Rick Snyder in an attempt to block a bankruptcy.

“It appears imminent the governor will grant the emergency manager the unconditional power to proceed under chapter 9, and the emergency manager will seek to have the city’s pension debts impaired unless the retirement systems and their participants accept the emergency manager’s unilateral imposition of significant impairments to their accrued financial benefits,” the lawsuit says.

Orr was appointed in March after Snyder declared a “financial emergency” in Detroit. A lawyer and University of Michigan alumnus, Orr helped steer Chrysler out of bankruptcy, but this is a dilemma of an altogether greater magnitude.

Even after years of decline, Detroit remains the US’s 18th most populous city. The city’s finances may have hit an all-time low but its business is bouncing back. The car firms that made the city are back in rude health, and downtown Detroit is being revitalized by new businesses.

Some local business leaders believe that the city has already hit rock bottom, and that a stronger Detroit is already emerging. Dan Gilbert, founder of the Quicken Loans lender, has rebuilt downtown and encouraged new businesses and old to move into the city. In a recent interview with the Guardian he said he is “finally going to do what needed to be done if not in the last several years then in the past decades. It’s essentially good news for the city because it means this period is coming to an end.”

But for Detroit’s poor, bankruptcy is likely to make life even harder in the short term. About 60% of Detroit’s children live in poverty. Orr had planned to bus creditors to some of the city’s poorest areas so they could see what was at stake. Armed security would have gone along for the ride.

“If they can see what it’s like for Detroiters, what they endure every day in this city, I think they’ll begin to understand what’s at stake,” Orr told the Detroit Free Press. The tour was canceled as bankers became worried about the PR impact of captains of finance touring the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/18/detroit-formally-files-bankruptcy?INTCMP=SRCH

The latest austerity measures approved by the greek parliament

New law will put 12,500 public-sector staff, mostly teachers and municipal workers, in a programme that subjects them to involuntary transfers and possible dismissals. It will also pave the way for 15,000 layoffs by the end of next year

A school guard reacts as he sits in front of riot policemen guarding parliament, 17 July 2013 (Kostas Tsironis, AP)A school guard reacts as he sits in front of riot policemen guarding parliament, 17 July 2013 (Kostas Tsironis, AP)MPs narrowly approved a new batch of austerity measures early on Thursday, including thousands of public-sector job cuts and transfers, demanded by the troika to keep bailout loans flowing.

Lawmakers in the 300-seat house backed the cutbacks in an article-by-article vote, with two of the governing coalition’s 155 deputies failing to back crucial articles.

One New Democracy MP, Dimitris Kyriazidis, was absent owing to a family bereavement. But veteran Pasok MP, Apostolos Kaklamanis, failed to turn up for the vote even though he had spoken in the chamber earlier.

In addition, Pasok’s parliamentary group spokesman, Paris Koukoulopoulos, failed to support the article abolishing the municipal police. 

It was the first major political test for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras since Democratic Left abandoned his coalition government last month.

The new legislation will put 12,500 public-sector staff, mostly teachers and municipal workers, in a programme that subjects them to involuntary transfers and possible dismissals. It will also pave the way for 15,000 layoffs by the end of next year.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras (L) and Prime minister Antonis Samaras are congratulated by New Democracy MPs, 18 July 2013 (AP)Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras (L) and Prime minister Antonis Samaras are congratulated by New Democracy MPs, 18 July 2013 (AP)City halls across the country have been closed this week, with uncollected rubbish piling up on the streets, and unions held a general strike on Tuesday against the proposed cuts.

“I fully understand the hardship the Greek people are going through during the great crisis,” Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said during the debate. “But I am fully convinced that the path we have chosen is correct.”

Some 3,000 people protested outside parliament ahead of the vote, chanting anti-austerity slogans in a third straight day of protests.

But the reaction – in the midst of the summer holiday season – was subdued compared to previous, often violent demonstrations that brought tens of thousands into the streets.

The crucial after-midnight vote came hours before a visit to Athens by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, planned amid security measures that main opposition Syriza denounced as “fascist and undemocratic.”

The measures include a ban of all demonstrations in the city centre, including Syntagma Square.

On Wednesday, Samaras made a televised statement to announce a sales tax cut for restaurant and catering services from 23% to 13% – the first tax reduction since the crisis started in late 2009.

Samaras is due later on Thursday to meet Schaeuble, who is expected to discuss a programme of German support for small and medium-sized Greek businesses.

Schaeuble, widely resented in Greece as the driving force behind the country’s painful cutbacks, said his one-day visit is meant to display confidence in the government’s efforts at recovery.

“I can well understand people in Greece – it’s just that we have to help Greece get on a better path,” he told Germany’s ARD television Wednesday evening. “The only thing that will really help people in Greece is achieving better economic development, they are on the right track … it will continue to pay off.”

But public sector staff targeted in the cuts said there was no justification for their treatment.

Sitting on the hot asphalt under an umbrella during a protest on Wednesday, 47-year-old Maria Denida joined other women who travelled from the northern city of Thessaloniki to protest outside parliament, together with many of the country’s mayors.

“I’ve been a school guard for 13 years and suddenly we find out we have no job. They say we’ll be suspended. But that means we’ll be fired,” Denida said, her voice cracking with emotion.

“All of us have kids, unemployed people at home, and bills we can’t pay. We were getting €780 a month. And if we lose that, we’re finished.”

Municipal police officers from around the country rallied through the capital’s centre with their motorcycles and patrol cars. The force, whose duties include monitoring street vendors and parking, is due to be disbanded and incorporated into national police after officers are suspended on reduced pay for up to eight months.

“We cannot understand why this is happening,” union head Apostolos Kossivas said. “We asked the government if there was any financial gain – they said no. Did we provide a bad service? They said no.”

“So we think they just wanted to make up the quota they needed for job cuts, and are proceeding without a plan,” Kossivas said.
 

AP, EnetEnglish
 
 
Source: http://www.enetenglish.gr/?i=news.en.politics&id=1285

Landscapes of emergency

Landscapes of Emergency is a brief glance over the undeclared state of emergency that casts its shadow over the functions and the phenomena of public space in Athens today, at this time of crisis.
Relying upon the readings of two lawyers, it attempts a passage through the dark landscapes that the new dogma of public security leaves in its wake. And it chooses to view the crisis as a way of managing urban everydayness, as a way of managing it militarily. It comprises a thematic intervention-deflection as part of The Space That Remains, a research strand of the project The City at a Time of Crisis. Yet through its deflecting characteristics it simply reaffirms the initial fears that led to the creation of this research strand. In other words, it confirms that the space that remains is ever-lessening and that the state of emergency educates us to live, in the end, with this loss.

Produced by Ross Domoney, Christos Filippidis and Dimitris Dalakoglou
Filmed and edited by Ross Domoney
Research by Christos Filippidis
Script editing by Dimitris Dalakoglou and Christos Filippidis
Special thanks to Eleni Vradi

Source: http://www.crisis-scape.net/blog/item/145-landscapes-of-emergency-video