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maddezmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 06:59 AM
Original message
Greece paralysed by new anti-austerity strike
Source: AFP

Greece paralysed by new anti-austerity strike
By John Hadoulis (AFP) 1 hour ago

ATHENS A general strike Wednesday brought Greece to a standstill as hundreds of thousands walked out of their jobs paralysing air, rail and maritime services to protest a new wave of debt-slashing measures.

The strike, the seventh this year, came as the ruling Socialists pushed through additional reforms under a tough economy overhaul mandated by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in return for a lifebelt.

Earlier Wednesday, the government secured parliamentary approval of salary cuts in the country's badly mismanaged public utilities but was forced to axe a dissenting lawmaker, reducing its majority in the chamber to six.

In addition to grounding planes and paralysing rail and ferries, the strike also shut down schools, courts, banks and pharmacies while hospitals ran on reduced staff.

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maddezmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 07:48 AM
Response to Original message
1. Protesters clash with police on streets of Athens
The former Greek transport minister was stoned by protesters as hundreds took to the streets and clashed with Athens police during an anti-austerity march.

About 200 leftist protesters chased Kostis Hatzidakis as he left parliament, shouting: "Thieves! Shame on you!" They threw stones and beat him with sticks, until he took flight into a nearby building.

Striking Greek workers grounded flights, shut down schools and paralysed public transport on Wednesday as protests against austerity measures to dig Greece out of a debt crisis culminated in a nationwide walkout.

Greek police fired tear gas at protesters who threw petrol bombs at two luxury hotels in the central Syntagma square outside parliament, setting the balcony of one hotel on fire.

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Pharaoh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 08:24 AM
Response to Original message
2. That is exactly what we
will need to do at some point, just shut the whole fucking thing down and make our demands known to the ruling elite.

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Bragi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 08:35 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. We'll do that right after Dancing with the Stars...
Americans are too isolated and lack the social cohesion needed to act together to resist what's happening to them.

You can export the jobs of Americans, steal their pensions, loot their savings, foreclose on their homes, and they'll blame themselves, knowing that, dammit, they just aren't smart enough, don't work hard enough, etc, etc.

The political and social isolation of Americans, and their deep inculcated belief in "the American dream" where everyone can be what they want to be, keeps the American ruling class safe.
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valerief Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 09:42 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Americans are this, Americans are that. I'm so tired of that 'Americans are' argument.
Edited on Wed Dec-15-10 09:42 AM by valerief
Americans are brainwashed by a propaganda machine spearheaded by Fox and supported by major networks, radio, and press. And a corrupt government that oils the machines with America-hating legislature.
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Bragi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Sorry, but your tiredness matters little
Most Americans are politically docile, unable to rise up and resist precisely because of the machine, which goes well beyond Fox news.

The machine includes the news media, the education system, the entertainment complex, religious institutions, the political system, and everything else that goes into preserving belief in the fraud known as the American dream.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Suburbanization is another factor
Most Europeans still live in cities that have natural gathering spots, natural public spaces, and many live in established neighborhoods that are like little villages where everyone knows everyone else.

If you live in a municipality that is all housing tracts and strip malls and indoor malls and "office parks" filled almost entirely with chain stores, and no non-automotive way of getting from one section to another, you don't have a community. In such a municipality, you have two sources of community: the schools, where "community" is centered on sports, and the megachurches, which provide conservative indoctrination along with their community.

While the students are expected to earn good grades and get into good colleges, actually being intellectual is frowned upon.

People live their whole lives rarely venturing into the core city, which the local newscasts portray as a land of crime and fires.

Everyone thinks they're alone.
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valerief Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 11:05 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. And the anesthetizing by Big Pharma plays a role, too. nt
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Bragi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. I agree with that
When people become unhappy with their circumstance, instead of questioning how this all came about, just give them an antidepressant. Smiles all round!
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 11:10 AM
Response to Reply #9
13. I remember hearing someone joke
"The mark of adulthood is graduating from Ritalin to Prozac."

In some circles, it's not even a joke.
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Bragi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 11:05 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. A terrific point
I agree, the manner in which American communities are planned and built is intended to isolate people, not to bring communities together (other than for the mentally deadening experiences of shopping and church, of course.)
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #10
14. Note that conservatives play up to suburbanites, and I bet that their
nearly universal opposition to public transit is based on this desire to isolate Americans from one another. After all, you can't propagandize them through their car radios if they're on a train.

When I was in Los Angeles for a convention a few years ago, I rendezvous'd with an online friend who is a public transit advocate, and he gave me pointers on getting around LA by bus.

A local attendee at the convention was horrified that I had taken the bus. He said that it was "dangerous."

I didn't find it so. I took the bus at all hours and found people friendly and helpful. I can see how a racist would find a bus full of African-Americans and Latinos "dangerous," but in fact, I wasn't scared once.

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KamaAina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 04:40 PM
Response to Reply #14
19. It also dovetails neatly with the racist angle
Why doesn't DC's Georgetown have a Metro stop? Because, when the system was being built, residents worried it'd be too easy for "those people" to get out there.

Why isn't Cobb County, GA part of MARTA? Same deal. :eyes:
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Oh yes, some of the whispering campaigns against Portland's light rail system were racist
For example, there was a rumor so widespread that it was (irresponsibly) written up in the local paper: that Latino gangs had divvied up the stations on the under-construction Westside light rail line and would each have their turf for robbing passengers. Never happened, of course.

there's a large mall in the southeast suburbs of Portland called Clackamas Town Center. For years, the owner would not allow a bus stop to built there because he didn't want African-American customers.

The first proposal for a north-south line in Portland was defeated partly on the strength of a whispering campaign that said that gangbangers from North Portland would take the line down to the "pure white" suburbs and recruit their daughters into prostitution. (How's that for touching all the racial nerves?)

It's not surprising. The RUSH to the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s was partly due to real estate agents inciting panic about neighborhoods "going colored." The practice was called "blockbusting."

The agents would start in a neighborhood a few blocks from a predominantly African-American one and go door to door, telling everyone that a black family was thinking of buying a house in their neighborhood and that it would be no time at all before the neighborhood "went colored" and "their property values would decrease."

It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. White families would panic and put their houses on the market. Naturally, a lot of houses being sold in the same neighborhood at once brought the prices down AND made the neighborhood more attractive to upwardly mobile black families.

The real estate agents made money twice: once by selling to the black families and again by selling new suburban tract houses to the fleeing white families.

Few people thought the situation through and realized that a neighborhood couldn't "go colored" if the majority of white families stayed put. The practice was common all over the country until the mid 1960s when residents of a section of New York City known as Laurelton began to suspect that their neighborhood was next on the blockbusters' list. They conducted an experiment, sending black people and white people to pretend to be interested in buying in Laurelton. Black people were told what a wonderful neighborhood it was. White people were told to stay away because "Laurelton was going colored."

The experiment gained nationwide publicity, but white flight had already begun.

A similar resistance movement arose in the Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis, which has a lot of large old houses, some of them outright mansions, near downtown. Residents suspected that the aim was to subdivide the houses into cheap studio apartments. Signs went up on lawns with the owners declaring that they wouldn't sell.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #6
16. Not just the American Dream, but power hierarchies in general.
The Guardians of Hierarchy

Corporations and businesses cooperate with economic and financial institutions to set the value of work and control the money supply. In this role it doesn't make any difference whether an economy is capitalist, socialist or communist. The core beliefs it guards are always the same: ownership and growth. In our Western civilization these institutions are the pumps that move power (transfigured into wealth) away from the powerless and to the powerful.

Political institutions encode, enshrine and manage the application of social power. Politics is the institution that legitimizes all the others. Because of its unique ability to make laws and its access to legalized violence to defend them, politics is the primary self-defense mechanism of the power hierarchy of civilization. In this view it doesn't matter if the political system is democratic or authoritarian, capitalist or socialist, liberal or fascist, feudal, monarchic or dictatorial. As long as the political system can make laws and use institutionalized violence (i.e. police) to enforce them, any political system will fulfill this core function. From this point of view the differences between them are largely cosmetic. Even the differences between parties in a democratic system are a useful irrelevancy useful to those in power by giving the powerless a calming illusion of control. Politics as a social system invariably works to the benefit of those at the tip of the power pyramid.

Legal institutions enforce the norms of the hierarchy in ways too numerous to count. These range from the protection of privilege (one law for the rich, one for the poor) to the preferential defense of property rights over human rights. Along with the police force it empowers, the legal system is the tip of the spear that keeps the power-holders safe from the powerless. In the terms of our metaphor, legal institutions maintain the integrity of the semi-permeable membrane of social class.

Religious institutions (as distinct from the religions they purport to enshrine) are primarily normative social structures. Many incorporate an overt message that we should be content with things as they are. There are often injunctions against questioning authority, as all authority is seen to devolve from the supernatural as it has ever since the shamans of the early agricultural era. Like legal institutions, they guard the integrity of social classes, though in our civilization the role of religion has been handed over largely to the legal sphere with its more overt control mechanisms.

Educational institutions teach successive generations how the system works. It gives those at the tip of the pyramid the tools to integrate into it and manipulate it. At the same time it trains everyone involved to see the pyramid of hierarchy as the only possible way the world can work. Those who do not accede to the top of the system learn to be content that the perceived order is natural, inevitable, beneficial, and unquestionable. An interesting twist in modern education is that we are now taught that the rights of the powerful are acquired through merit rather than birth (though many PhDs have learned otherwise).

Communications media reinforce the message of the inevitability and beneficence of our social hierarchy by enlisting people in the power/growth/ownership paradigm. They do this through overt messages like advertising, covert messages embedded in the story lines of entertainment and of course the selective editing and presentation style of news programs. People who are programmed by this constant messaging come to regard any values that challenge the existing structure as incomprehensible, self-evidently absurd, dangerous or even insane.

American institutions appear to have elevated this technique to a high art.
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madmax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 04:27 PM
Response to Reply #6
18. +1
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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 09:59 AM
Response to Original message
5. say this: they're persistent...
they don't just protest once and then go home and forget about the whole thing; they have been trying to keep up the heat since the start...
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Bragi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 11:08 AM
Response to Reply #5
12. By protesting, they also preserve social coherence and their own self-respect /nt
Edited on Wed Dec-15-10 11:09 AM by Bragi
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travelingtypist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 10:38 AM
Response to Original message
7. Way to go.
I love a good general strike to defend the workers against the corporatists. Awesome.

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zalinda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
15. It's the media
The media doesn't report much of anything any more. How many demonstrations have there been in the last 10 years, and you hear crickets chirping.

A 68 year old Senator stood up in the US Senate for 8 1/2 hours talking about why the tax cut would be bad. Did your local news cover it? This was a historic event, and yet it was ignored by the media. Back in the 60's, this would have been front page news.

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pampango Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 12:21 PM
Response to Original message
17. And not just in Greece: Protests in Europe Ahead of Euro Summit,1518,73481...

Greece was hit by violent protests and a general strike on Wednesday and workers also demonstrated in other EU nations ahead of a summit on the euro. Merkel, under fire for her handling of the crisis, repeated her tough stance as Luxembourg's foreign minister accused Berlin and Paris of "arrogance."

Greece was paralyzed by a general strike and violent protests on Wednesday and trade unions staged demonstrations in France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark and the Czech Republic against government austerity measures one day ahead of what promises to be a fractious European Union summit to agree on a permanent mechanism to handle future debt crises. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, under fire in Europe for what many see as an uncompromising stance in the crisis, reiterated her outright opposition to the idea of issuing common European bonds to help out highly-indebted countries struggling with crippling interest rates on their debt.

Leading members of the main German opposition party, the center-left Social Democrats, have supported the idea of issuing euro bonds. Merkel has argued that they would lessen the pressure on countries to maintain fiscal discipline. German government borrowing costs would also likely increase with euro bond issues.

In a strongly-worded interview published on Wednesday, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn accused Germany and France of arrogance in their dealings with the EU. "I can only warn Germany and France against a claim to power that expresses a certain haughtiness and arrogance that disrespects the European principle of solidarity," Asselborn told German newspaper Die Welt. "The direction of the EU must be supported by all 27 together and must not be dictated by the big countries."
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