Saturday, August 13, 2011

Italy in Crisis

Susan Brannon
13 August 2011

Florence - Italy has been under duress with it's economy for quite a while now.  However, most Italians take a month long holiday in August and Berlusconi did not want to discourage the Parliament members to stay in Rome.  After everyone jotted off to the local beaches and private boats, the  European Union and European Central Bank started to put pressure on Berlusconi that now was not the time for a sunny holiday.  Italy is in a crisis.

Berlusconi cut his holiday short under the pressure and met with the Minister of Economy Robert Calderoni and Maurizio Sacconi.  After many long nights and busy days, they announced the proposed plan that will be set before the Senate on August 22 and before the aula on the 5 and 6 of September.  The process is not like the American process with not really deciding anything but passing along the responsibility to the new

The cabinet of ministers passed the new budget on Saturday 13 August.  The Minister of Finance said, "It is vital that we balance our budget"  Berlusconi said, "Our hearts are dripping with blood, we never put our hands in the pockets of the Italians, but the crisis is global, look at the U.S."  He also thanked Tremoniti, "They worked day and night."  Twenty billion in 2012 to 25.5 in 2013.  Knight responded that "It is a balanced decision"

The committee's decision will affect just about everyone in Italy, from the retirement holders, to the rich. Here is the latest rundown:


    * Increase of payroll tax: by 5% to those that make 90,000 Euros to 150,000 Euros and 10% to those that make 150,000 Euros or more for the next two years.

    * Increase in personal income tax from the current 41% for income above 55,000 Euros

    * Robin Hood tax - A tax on the energy sector, details are not given as of yet.


    * Parliament contributions:  10% for incomes above 90,000 and 20% for those who make over 150,000.  Reducing the Parliament members privileges (not including economy class airline tickets)  The removal of around 54,000 parliament seats.

    * Public workers: Must meet the goals to reduce costs otherwise they can loose the 13th month of payment

    * TFR payment with a 2 year delay for the severance pay of public workers.

    * Ministers - Are expected to cut 6 billion euros in 2012 and 2.5 in 2013

    * Localities:  Money transfers will be cut to 6 billion in 2012 and 3,5 in 2013. The health budget will not be touched.  The Regions will have to cut 1 billion less than the Localities.

    * Providences:  Suspend provenience with populations under 300,000 (total of 38) to be imposed after the next census.  and merge with the municipalities for under 1,000 population.  This will reduce the amount of state workers by 50,000.

    * No Cuts to salaries of civil servants.

    * Public Services:  Privatization and liberalization of public services will be encouraged.

    * FAS Fund - One year reduction of Fas, for underdeveloped areas.

    * Welfare reform:  For 1012 attend to achieve a savings of 4 billion is possible.


    * Raise retirement age for women: From 2015 raise the age of retirement to 65 to those who work in the private sector

    * Retirement age:  by 2027 slowly raise the retirement age to 65.

    * Midweek Holidays - Will be moved to Monday as in the rest of Europe.


    * Receipts:  The receipts need to be traceable, for those issued over 2,500 euro, if they failure to issue receipts, the business with be threatened to close.

    * Reduce the amount of Looses to a maximum of 62.5 %

    * Self Employed - Increase personal income tax from 41% for incomes over 55,000 euros.  It is scheduled for 2-3 years, but may remain permanent.

    * Games and Tobacco - A new excise tax on games and tobacco, to what extent has not been decided.

    * Investment income:  Increase to 20% of all taxes on investment income, excluding interest of bonds that remain at 12.5%.

    * No taxes on real estate assets

The Italian response to this proposal is not a positive one it seems that everyone from every sector is complaining; from the ministers, the mayors, companies and public employees.  The public employees plan a union strike on September 9 for two hours. Minister Calderoli does not agree with abolishing the provinces.  Nicola Zingaretti, the president of the province of Rome says, "The move will affect the economy well beyond the Roman planned cuts to transfers to local authorities.  All the measures provided for the public service which are added to those already made in recent months in particular it will weigh on our economy as less liquidity available for many families"  Bonelli, of the Green Party feels that the maneuver will be a social disaster "that will take over the poverty line to more than a million Italian households."

For two to three years the white and blue collar workers have lost their jobs, with factories closing and outsourcing, many small businesses close their doors on every city street and more and more shops are empty.  Tourism is way down this year and the shop owners that were depending on tourism to make it through the year are watching over their empty shops.  University students cannot find work after graduation and have held many protests throughout Italy and are worried that this bill does not help them  with their plight.

Some Italians feel a bit patriotic with the removal of provinces' they are historical and they are territorial, in fact the Province of Benevento is a year older than the unity of Italy.  The province of Siena is under threat because they have close to 300,000 inhabitants, but it is not quite enough.

In the months to come, I expect turmoil and conflict between the government, the cities leaders, the general public and the public workers.  It is not easy cutting down from flying first class to economy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Amnesty TV - Arab Spring update

Israel Protests-News Analysis-08-01-2011

Demonstrations in Israel August 2nd.

مقطع خطير الأمن السوري يطلق الرصاص على آلاف المتظاهرين في إدلب 7 8 2011

Dangerous section of the Syrian security forces firing on demonstrators in the thousands of Idleb

Syria Revolution Hama August 2011 الثورة السورية

Don't forget the Syrian Revolution is ongoing...

Rage Rising: 'Egypt wants revolution, Mubarak exit just the start'

As our eyes were on the debt crisis, there were more demonstrations in Egypt.

Madison Co. to evict man from camper

Fresh video of London riots tring to steal a banck

MW2 Team Thumper - London Riots - My Thoughts - Vikstar123

Riots Rage: Anarchy in UK as London turns into war zone

Why the London Riots?

How new media, old media and rampant unemployment combined to stoke the worst riots Britain has seen in years

BY Michael Goldfarb
Global Post

LONDON, United Kingdom — I knew we were in for a rough night here in Stoke Newington in the London Borough of Hackney when my wife called me at 5 p.m. from Sainsbury’s, our local supermarket, to say she was in a lock down. They were shuttering the place and the police were telling her trouble had already started outside the Hackney Town Hall. The cops told her to go home and stay off the streets.

I took her call as I was walking into the local library to return a book. Inside, the librarians were watching a BBC live feed on their computers of action a mile and a half away. One of the librarians explained he lived over there.

This morning I awoke to learn that half a dozen or more neighborhoods in London — north to south, east to west — saw outbreaks of violence, looting and arson. In other cities around the country — Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds and Bristol — there were also reports of youth confronting police.

This rioting is something Britain has not seen in recent years. It is a totally new expression of anger from what sociologists would call the “underclass.” That said, there are familiar elements in the build-up to last night’s anarchy that might help you understand it a little.

First, the chronology: The tension began to boil over last Thursday when police shot and killed a young black man named Mark Duggan in Tottenham, a predominantly Afro-Caribbean and African immigrant neighborhood in north London. In the mid-1980s, Tottenham was the scene of terrible race riots which culminated in a policeman being hacked to death by a group of men armed with machetes. Saturday night, following a disappointing visit to the police by Duggan’s family and community leaders, a protest about the incident turned violent.

When the smoke cleared on Sunday morning it was obvious that the violence was not about the police and racism — as it had been in the 1980s. The Duggan family were appalled by what had happened, much of it directed against shops owned by black and immigrant businessmen. Back in the 1980s, community leaders were harshly critical of the police and the government. Local black politicians used the riots to point out the institutional racism in the police force. Now the local member of parliament, David Lammy, son of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, led the criticism of the rioters.

On Sunday night, low-level looting spread to other parts of north London not far from Tottenham. The violence’s tenuous relationship to the Duggan incident disappeared. The rioters were a heterodox mix of black and white youths who did not come out on the street to demonstrate against the police. They hit the streets to take what they could: electronic goods and sneakers, and then trash the shops they had just looted.
Then last night things exploded. Why?
Partially it’s media, old and new. After getting my wife’s message I left the library and raced home to watch the 24-hour television news channels. Sky News had scrambled its helicopter and was showing a raw feed of action in Hackney. Police were clearing Mare Street, the main shopping street. As the crowds dispersed into the side streets, cars and dumpsters full of garbage were being set on fire. The police were not grabbing kids and arresting them, they were trying to clear space and hold it.
Meanwhile kids were able to evade police by texting each other meeting places where law enforcement was absent.
It isn’t hard to imagine that young people from the same social background around the city watching those pictures and getting texts from people they know in Hackney decided it was worth the risk of arrest to go out to the local shopping area and take what they wanted.
They seem to have been right. Prime Minister David Cameron said that there were 6,000 police on the streets of London last night. That sounds like a lot but London is a vast city. A few hundred people looting in Ealing in the west, a few hundred in Clapham in the south, a few hundred more in Croydon at the city’s edge, a few hundred more in Hackney, and three or four other places, all these neigborhoods separated by long distances — five to 10 miles. You can see how thinly stretched law enforcement was.
That explains why things spread so quickly last night.
The underlying causes of the rioting are difficult to determine with certainty, but one key fact must be considered: youth unemployment.
The rioters were overwhelmingly teenagers and kids in their 20s. About 20 percent of 16-24 year olds in Britain are unemployed. That figure is much, much higher on council estates — the British term for housing projects. (You can leave school at the age of 16 in this country). Unemployment statistics in Britain are sadly vague, but a reasonable estimate of youth unemployment just in Hackney is 33 percent. (Those attending college or performing any form of unpaid apprentice work are considered to be employed.) There don’t seem to be any statistics for youth unemployment on council estates. As I live in the neighborhood I would say well above 60 or 70 percent is a good guess.
The reason I say this is that unlike in Paris or New York, London doesn’t wall its poor people into ghettos or suburbs. There are streets in Hackney where very ordinary row houses cost a million bucks but on the corner there is a council estate. The kids who grow up in the million dollar houses go to college and then on to jobs; many of those in the estates leave school at 16 and find no work. If a third of Hackney’s youth is unemployed and the middle class kids are all going on to higher education, the segment of the population pulling the unemployment figure up must come from the estates.
When there are that many young men with nothing to do and no money to spend, it doesn’t take much to set off violence. The immediate flash point — in this case the death of Mark Duggan — is quickly forgotten. A group hysteria takes hold.
Having covered riots in Northern Ireland for many years I can say with certainty that this kind of hysteria can take time to burn itself out. With TV cameras focused on them and smartphones at the ready, it may be a few nights yet before the fever subsides. There is very little the police can do.
What happens after the rioting subsides is difficult to predict. Entry level jobs are in short supply these days, and as the government’s austerity measures begin to bite here, it’s not likely to get better any time soon.
But the government has to be seen to be doing something. British Prime Minister David Cameron flew back to London from his holiday in Tuscany early today to deal with the situation. He told reporters that all police leave had been canceled and that 16,000 officers will be on the streets of London tonight. Parliament has also been recalled from its recess to hold a one-day emergency debate on the rioting.

Darcus Howe BBC News Interview On London Riots - SHOCKING INTERVIEW!

An interview gone bad. BBC

ECB Spanish & Italian bond move calms market

Another Bailout. Italy

'Euro on edge, will collapse by November if no new crisis plan'

America, China, Europe, Italy debt crisis

Markets Mayhem: Asia stocks plummet on US rating downgrade

There is a lot going on in the world today.

Fresh video of London riots: Crowd street rampage

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tottenham Riot 06/08/11 - Death of Mark Duggan

BBC News: Explosive Eye Witness Account - Tottenham Riots, UK

London Burns in APOCALYPTIC Anti-Police RIOTS!!! (August 8/9th 2011 U.K.)

Series of great photographs and the recent UK riots

Police Overrun in Woolwich -London Riots 8/8/11

LIVE update: Riots spread to Birmingham, London chaos no end

Making Sense of the Failing Economy and the Debt Deal/Downgrade

Making Sense of the Failing Economy

Susan Brannon
9 August 2011

First, I want to make it clear that I am not an economist, however, I do understand the basics in balancing a budget, the consequences for borrowing money, spending more than I make, credit card fees and interest on borrowed money and how it seems that I can never get that student loan paid off and…of course, paying taxes.

The mainstream news is finally printing articles about things that most of us already knew.  We knew that the economy was bad, that there are no “real” jobs to be found and our neighbors or ourselves lost all that we had saved up for that day when we were supposed to be able to travel the world and start on our passions during retirement.  Nothing was getting better, it seemed to only be getting worse.  Yet, once the American credit rating was downgraded, the mainstream media could not ignore the fact any longer and they had to start telling the world about the American woes.

In reality, I was shocked that the American people did not demonstrate like in the Arab Spring and join the revolution.  Stories of government corruption has been hitting the front pages for a few years now, corporate, bank and wall street corruption had created this mess.  It took thirty years on average for the Arab nations to wake up and fight and I surly hope that it does not take the Americans that long.  However, I feel that in reference to the economy, it is a bit too late.

We can give thanks to the efforts of Eric Cantor and Michele Bachmann (who is now running for President in 2012)  for the future of America.  The republicans in their ignorance and propaganda blame Obama and Timothy Geithner.  Yet this economical collapse has been a long time coming and in reality was caused by the republicans themselves.  Yes, I am disappointed in Obama, he did not stand tall as he showed during the election, he seems to have bowed down to the republican  scheme of keeping the rich rich and dissimulating the middle class making the hard working American poor.  Obama did not take up the fight as the Americans wanted, he did not flex his muscles for the people of the country.  In the end, this is what will lead to his non re-election in the upcoming presidential campaign.

I must admit, the downgrading by Standard and Poor (S&P) was a deserved one.  They did so because of the immaturity of the Republican tea-party and lack of willingness to really create a plan that would get America out of the debt mess.

The Republicans and Democrats spend all their time pointing fingers at each other, and are not looking at the real picture.  First, who is S&P and what gave the rating agencies so much power?  What gives them the right to play political games with countries economy?  They are privately owned and have a massive list of “conflicts of interest” in this game of economics and policymaking.

First, these rating agencies are usually paid to rate companies and their products by the very same companies.  Wait a minute! Did I just write that?  Yes, Those who need to be rated pay the rating agencies.   Second, during the savings and loan debacle in the 1980’s, to the Asian financial crisis of the 90’s to Enron and the sub-prime bubble the three big rating agencies (S&P, Moody’s & Fitch) they were in the wrong by assuring creditors that the risks of a bank, a company or minimal.  While the Lehman Brothers were on the brink of bankruptcy, S&P gave them an A rating.  Ummm…interesting.  All three rating agencies failed to see the credit crisis coming and for years they provided a AAA rating on bundles of mortgage bonds, even when the securities were questionable.  Many investors purchased the securities based on the AAA ratings and when the mortgages went sour, investors lost billions of dollars that kicked off the financial crisis.  (NYT)

Third, they do not deserve the power that they have in running policymaking and the global economy.  The rating agencies have a huge impact on the media and political debate.

In the end, it is America’s fault to allow them to dominate the economic discussion.  S&P did not make their downgrade because of America’s position but because “the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions that have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges”  This was the tea-parties downgrade.

What is the economic reality? 
The U.S. national debt is rising fast;
•    First, the major tax cuts on the corporations and the rich in the 1970’s and more in 2000 has reduced the revenues;
•    Second, the cost of wars has increased government spending;
•    Third, the bailouts of dysfunctional banks, insurance companies and large corporations since 2007 increased the government spending. 
All the above with less revenue coming from the corporations and rich, more spending on wars and bailouts, the government had to borrow the difference.

Unfortunately, the debt deal did not cover any of these items listed above.  The two parties pretend concern about the debt with only how to cut government spending on the people and instead focus on the 2012 election.

The result?
Here are some numbers:
13.9 million unemployed  known unemployed (12%  Center on Budget and Policy)
6.8 million fewer jobs since the start of the recession
40% and more looking for work for more than 6 months
29.1 million underemployed; those who work in the labor force for low wages
22% unemployed and underemployed
3.5 million homeless (an estimate, it is hard to know this number because of movements)
1.5 million homeless children
45.6 million receiving food stamps
60,000 new fired government workers
14 million in January not to receive unemployment checks
2,000.000.000 homes repossessed
1 in 7 homes now in foreclosure
50 million on Medicare
57 million without insurance

What does the debt plan do?

The reality is that nothing has been done yet…there is no concrete plan. The government started a Joint Select Committee.  They must measure “deficit savings against an “existing-law baseline,” under which letting President Bush’s tax cuts for upper-income households expire wouldn’t count as reducing deficits because they (along with the rest of the Bush tax cuts) are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012 under current law.” (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Here are some key points:

•    $1.1 trillion (or $840 billion, depending on the budget baseline used) in discretionary (i.e., non-entitlement) spending cuts over ten years, enforced by binding annual caps through 2021
•    Joint Select Committee to reduce the deficit by at least another $1.5 trillion over ten years, and for the House and Senate to consider the proposal under fast-track procedures that guarantee an up-or-down vote in both bodies, with a simple majority needed for passage.
•    Multi-year discretionary caps – However, establishing multi-year discretionary caps without an agreement on increased revenues makes it even harder to secure revenue increases for deficit reduction in the future. “because the only way to secure a bipartisan agreement that includes increased revenues is to provide anti-tax policymakers with significant spending cuts in return, likely including substantial savings from imposing discretionary caps. With 10-year discretionary caps already in place (and with the potential for across-the-board cuts that would further cut discretionary programs), there will be little prospect to exchange substantial discretionary cuts in return for revenue increases” (CBPP)
•    The joint committee will have the legal authority to produce a balanced package that includes revenue increases as well as program cuts. But House Speaker John Boehner, in an effort to secure votes for the deal, is undermining the joint committee before it's even established. Boehner has circulated documents to his caucus claiming the agreement requires the use of a "current-law revenue baseline," thus "making it impossible for Joint Committee to increase taxes."  The problem is that Speaker Boehner pledged not to raise the taxes, it gives the committee two places to go;
o    Cuts in entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security)
o    Cuts in discretionary programs (Highways, Agriculture, Energy, Interior, Education, Housing)

The Problem:

Currently the democrats will not agree on entitlement cuts or a mixture of entitlement and deeper discretionary cuts.  Speaker Boehner honors his pledge to keep revenue increases off of the table, so what do we get?  We get a stalemate.  Unless, Boehner will budge and they can meet their goals of a savings close to 1.2 trillion, triggering staggering cuts that will remain in place for nine years.  If it becomes “lame-duck”  then the crisis will loom and there will have to be:
•    cuts across the board  in 2013 after the election.
•    The scheduled expiration of President Bush’s tax cuts at the end of 2012
•    Renewed default if the policymakers do not raise the debt ceiling once again.

If the game of hostage taking continues and proves functional for those who play the games are also playing with the very lives of the American people that will all drown in the turmoil.
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Monday, August 08, 2011

Statement: Chad Stone, Chief Economist, on the July Employment Report — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Statement: Chad Stone, Chief Economist, on the July Employment Report — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

This is a great article here are some excerpts:

Last week's report on gross domestic product (GDP) showed the recession was much deeper than previously estimated and growth in the first half of this year was very weak. That helps explain why, despite two full years of economic growth and 17 straight months of private-sector job creation, we still have 6.8 million fewer jobs than at the start of the recession and the unemployment rate remains 4.1 percentage points higher. The economy fell into a very deep hole and has been climbing out very slowly.

It remains very difficult to find a job. The Labor Department's most comprehensive alternative unemployment rate measure — which includes people who want to work but are discouraged from looking and people working part time because they can't find full-time jobs — was 16.1 percent in July, not much below its all-time high of 17.4 percent in October 2009 in data that go back to 1994. By that measure, more than 25 million people are unemployed or underemployed.

Long-term unemployment remains a significant concern. Over two-fifths (44.4 percent) of the 13.9 million people who are unemployed — 6.2 million people — have been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer. These long-term unemployed represent 4.0 percent of the labor force. Prior to this recession, the previous highs for these statistics over the past six decades were 26.0 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, in June 1983.

Goldman Sachs-Robbing and Thieving The American Sucker-AGAIN

This was shot a year ago, but you can see the cause and effect of the bail out for the American taxpayers.

Clinton/Hillary fund raising history

Cult of the Chameleon - Al Jazeera 10/17/2007

"high-ranking former U.S. officials have given speeches to MEK-friendly audiences since December of last year as part of more than 22 events in Washington, Brussels, London, Paris and Berlin. While not every speaker accepted payment, MEK-affiliated groups have spent millions of dollars on speaking fees, according to interviews with the former officials, organizers and attendees." HuffPost
Here is the list:
former FBI director Louis Freeh sat Ed Rendell, the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania and current MSNBC talking head; former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean; former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton; former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Togo West; former State Department Director of Policy Planning Mitchell Reiss; former Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway; Anita McBride, the former chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush; and Sarah Sewall, a Harvard professor who sits on a corporate board with Reiss.

China, America & the economic crisis

This video was posted a year ago, but it explains why China is upset with
the current downturn in the U.S. credit ratings. China is upset with the U.S.
debt that cannot be sustainable.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Which Countries Have the Most Days off?

Susan Brannon
7 August 2011
What countries have the most days off?

Some countries are tied and for some regions if you can be different religions at the same time, then you have the chance to take a total of 45 days off a year!  Unfortunately, the United States falls at the bottom of the list.

Although the Italians take time off throughout the entire month of August, only 1 out of 4 Italians vacation in a spot other then their homes because of the failing economy.

Travel is at a 16 year low, people are traveling less and spending less this year and the travel industry is affected by the poor economy. Less people are willing to fly and would rather travel by car but with the rise in gas prices, people are not traveling very far from their homes.  The hotel industry is down as well, more people in Europe are camping or exchanging homes for the holidays.  Many countries are reporting a plunge in tourism which can have a big impact on the local economies.  Some countries are reporting a standstill, like Acapulco, Mexico, Egypt, Jordan, and Nepal.  Greece is practically begging for tourism to help boost their struggling economy.

1.     Brazil - 41 - Minimum 30 vacation days and 11 public holidays
2.     Lithuania - 41 - Minimum 28 vacation days and 13 public holidays
3.     Italy - 40 - Minimum 28 vacation days and 12 public holidays
4.     France - 40 - minimum 30 vacation days and 10 public holidays
5.     Finland - 40 - minimum 30 vacation days and 10 public holidays
6.     Russia - 40 - Minimum 28 vacation days and 12 public holidays
7.     Greece - 40 -Minimum 25 vacation days with 15 public holidays
8.     Austria - 38 - minimum 25 vacation days and 13 public holidays
9.     Poland Minimum - 36 -26 vacation days and 10 public holidays
10.    United Kingdom -36 - Minimum 28 days vacation but only 8 public holidays
11.    Denmark - 34 -Minimum 25 vacation days and 9 public holidays
12.    South Korea - 34 - Minimum 19 vacation days and 15 public holidays
13.    New Zealand - 31 - Minimum 20 vacation days and 11 public holidays
14.    Switzerland - 29 - Minimum 20 vacation days and 9 public holidays
15.    India - 28 -minimum 12 vacation days and 16 public holidays (Note: that in this region, if you can connivence your boss that you are multi religious you can get up to 32 religious holidays each year!)
16.    Taiwan - 28 - Minimum 15 vacation days and 13 public holidays
17.    Singapore - 26 - Minimum 15 vacation days with 11 public holidays
18.    United States -  25 - Average 15 vacation days with only 10 public holidays
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