WE need more civil disobedience don’t you think? Read about the current scheduled event here.
As we watch this drama being played out my hope is that the will of the people is carried out and not the will of special interests. We will see if there is rejoicing to be done in 6 months time or will we see more of the same or worse…
I am optimistic at this point, the people have shown their power and this will show people across the globe that they too have power and can MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN!
Mubarak Resigns as Egyptian President
By Mariam Fam, Zainab Fattah and Ahmed Namatalla – Feb 11, 2011 9:06 AM MT
Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president of Egypt and handed power to the military, bowing to the demands of protesters who have occupied central Cairo for the past three weeks demanding an end to his 30-year rule.
“Mubarak has decided to relinquish the office of the presidency,” said Vice President Omar Suleiman in a statement on state television today. “He has instructed the Supreme Council of the armed forces to take over the affairs of the country.”
The resignation came after Egyptians streamed out of Friday prayers vowing to topple Mubarak, 82, after he yesterday defied calls for him to leave for the second time this month. Military helicopters buzzed the presidential palace at dusk and Arabiya television earlier reported that Mubarak had left Cairo for the Sinai resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
The announcement opens a new phase in a crisis that was sparked by the ouster of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14 and is rippling through the Arab world, which holds more than 50 percent of the world’s oil reserves.
The army council, at its highest state of alert since the 1973 war with Israel, will likely face calls for immediate elections from the thousands of young protesters who have crammed Cairo’s Tahrir Square and used Facebook and Twitter to organize themselves.
Google Inc. executive Wael Ghonim, a figurehead of the protests, earlier today read out a list of demands that included abolishing all restrictions on forming political parties and giving voting rights to Egyptians living abroad.
Those elections may bolster the Muslim Brotherhood, banned by Mubarak, and other opposition groups shut out of power in the most populous Arab country.
Egypt’s default risk today jumped the most in six days and the country’s bonds and London-listed shares sank as concern deepened about the outcome of the standoff. The yield on the government’s 5.75 percent dollar bond due 2020 climbed 22 basis points to 6.72 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of 2:18 p.m. in London.
Mubarak, a former air-force general who as president was commander of the largest military force in the Arab world, was the nation’s longest-serving ruler in more than 150 years. He controlled a government that was the linchpin of U.S. policy in the Middle East for three decades.
Mubarak kept peace with Israel, with which Egypt had had formal peace for only two years when he took office, supported U.S. counterterrorism efforts, backed Iranian sanctions over its nuclear program and helped broker Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
At the same time, Mubarak controlled a regime condemned by the U.S. government for its lack of basic freedoms at home, for its widespread suppression of political opposition and for the torture of Egyptian citizens, which was often carried out with impunity, according to the State Department.
To contact the reporters on this story: Mariam Fam in Cairo at email@example.com Zainab Fattah in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.org Ahmed A Namatalla in Cairo at email@example.com
Pay attention to how our government has stuck their hands in the politics of the region and how this does not really pay in the long run….
I have to say my hat is off to the gentleman who wrote this pamphlet about non violent insurrection against the ‘money and markets’ of our current times. This fellow is 93 years old, was a concentration camp survivor and is right on! It has struck a nerve in France and over 600,000 copies have sold. The title ‘Cry Out’ about says it all!
Clif High has ‘predicted’ something like this book to galvanize opinion and the people in France and Europe. Times they are a changing.
The success of this book leads us to our country and what it will take to galvanize our citizens to throw off the shackles of the elite and their corporations and government. I think many of us can say that none of these are working for the common man anymore, but serve this elite in all of it’s manifestations.
The little red book that swept France
The latest call to (non-violent) arms has turned a 93-year-old war hero into a publishing phenomenon. John Lichfield reports
Take a book of just 13 pages, written by a relatively obscure 93-year-old man, which contains no sex, no jokes, no fine writing and no startlingly original message. A publishing disaster? No, a publishing phenomenon.
Indignez vous! (Cry out!), a slim pamphlet by a wartime French resistance hero, Stéphane Hessel, is smashing all publishing records in France. The book urges the French, and everyone else, to recapture the wartime spirit of resistance to the Nazis by rejecting the “insolent, selfish” power of money and markets and by defending the social “values of modern democracy”.
The book, which costs €3, has sold 600,000 copies in three months and another 200,000 have just been printed. Its original print run was 8,000. In the run-up to Christmas, Mr Hessel’s call for a “peaceful insurrection” not only topped the French bestsellers list, it sold eight times more copies than the second most popular book, a Goncourt prize-winning novel by Michel Houellebecq.
The extraordinary success of the book can be interpreted in several ways. Its low price and slender size – 29 pages including blurbs and notes but just 13 pages of text – has made it a popular stocking-filler among left-wing members of the French chattering classes. Bookshops report many instances of people buying a dozen copies for family and friends.
But Mr Hessel and his small left-wing publisher (which is used to print runs in the hundreds) say that he has evidently struck a national, and international nerve, at a time of market tyranny, bankers’ bonuses and budget threats to the survival of the post-war welfare state. They also suggest that the success of the book could be an important straw in the wind as France enters a political cycle leading to the presidential elections of May 2012.
In a New Year message Mr Hessel, who survived Nazi concentration camps to become a French diplomat, said he was “profoundly touched” by the success of his book. Just as he “cried out” against Nazism in the 1940s, he said, young people today should “cry out against the complicity between politicians and economic and financial powers” and “defend our democratic rights acquired over two centuries”.
In a party-political aside which might or might not undermine his new status as political prophet, Mr Hessel went on to imply that “resistance” should begin with a rejection of President Nicolas Sarkozy and a vote for the Parti Socialiste.
The book has not pleased everyone. It also contains a lengthy denunciation of Israeli government policies, especially in the Gaza Strip. Although the final chapter calls vaguely for a “non-violent” solution to the world’s problems, the book also suggests that “non-violence” is not “sufficient” in the Middle East. Mr Hessel, whose father was a German jew who emigrated to France, has been accused by French jewish organisations of “anti-semitism”.
Mr Hessel was born in Berlin in 1917. He emigrated to France with his family when he was seven. He joined General Charles de Gaulle in London in 1941 and was sent back to France to help organise the resistance. He was captured, tortured and sent to concentration camps in Germany. After the war, he helped to draft the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Jean-Pierre Barou, the joint head of the small Montpellier-based publishing house Indigène, which commissioned the book, said Mr Hessel had revealed a “deep sense of indignation in France”.
As a political tract, the book contains no especially original analysis of the world’s problems.
“They dare to tell us that the State can no longer afford policies to support its citizens,” Mr Hessel says. “But how can money be lacking … when the production of wealth has enormously increased since the Liberation (of France), at a time when Europe was ruined? The only explanation is that the power of money … has never been so great or so insolent or so selfish and that its servants are placed in the highest reaches of the State.”
The originality of the book is the suggestion that an organised “Resistance” is now called for, just like in 1940. “We, veterans of the resistance … call on young people to revive and pass on the heritage and ideals of the Resistance,” the book says.
How people should resist the power of money and the markets – by peaceful means, the book insists – is not made entirely clear.
A message of resistance
* “I would like everyone – everyone of us – to find his or her own reason to cry out. That is a precious gift. When something makes you want to cry out, as I cried out against Nazism, you become a militant, tough and committed. You become part of the great stream of history … and this stream leads us towards more justice and more freedom but not the uncontrolled freedom of the fox in the hen-house.”
* “It’s true that reasons to cry out can seem less obvious today. The world appears too complex. But in this world, there are things we should not tolerate… I say to the young, look around you a little and you will find them. The worst of all attitudes is indifference…”
* “The productivist obsession of the West has plunged the world into a crisis which can only be resolved by a radical shift away from the ‘ever more’, in the world of finance but also in science and technology. It is high time that ethics, justice and a sustainable balance prevailed…”
I continue to look for that item, book, film or something else that might give us the confluence of events that will lead to real change!
I have to say that when it comes to seeing a big demonstration the Europeans and particularly the French are on the ball, at least when compared to the rather dismal protests undertaken here. Although, we have seen some pretty big ‘rallies’ in D.C. lately, but really nothing that would look like the organization in France.
The French are angry about the proposed changes to the retirement age, from 60 to 62, and there is rioting in the streets. The response by the government is predictable, lots of riot police and violence to stop the protest before the workers suffer! A standard line even when the workers will suffer no matter what.
I can only wish for more ‘pushback’ by the people of this country against the injustices, and there are many to chose from, running rampant in this country. Unfortunately, appears that no 2 people around here can agree on anything long enough to get organized. There are always these divisive issues that become more important than the task at hand and poof…there goes your cooperation.
I hope this changes and soon!
French industry ‘losing at least £100 million a day’
Teams of riot police carried out dawn raids to free France’s oil depots on Wednesday as industry said the strikes against pension reforms were costing them at least £100 million per day.
Under orders from Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, riot police in black body armour broke blockades around three depots in western France overnight, as fuel shortages left a third of France’s filling stations without petrol.
“If it is not stopped quickly, this disorder which is aimed at paralysing the country could have consequences for jobs by damaging the normal running of economic activity,” the President said in a statement yesterday.
Jean Pelin, director general of France’s chemical industries association, said that the strike had already cost his sector an estimated billion euros in lost turnover, around 100 million euros (£88 million) for every extra strike day.
“This is a severe blow for an industry that was just recovering from the (economic) crisis,” he told the Daily Telegraph. He said a little over half of the losses were due to a strike at Marseille’s Fos-Lavera port, where dozens of petrol tankers are unable to offload.
The president of France’s Assemblée of chambers of commerce and industry, Jean-François Bernardin, said that “tens of thousands” of businesses had been hit by the strike action, due to lack of fuel and transport disruption, while SNCF, the national rail operator said it was losing 20 million euros (£17.5 million) a day.
But workers in several key sectors showed no sign of ending a week-long strike against a plan to raise the legal retirement age from 60 to 62, which the government has said is essential to reduce France’s public deficit.
All 12 of France’s oil refineries are still blocked but police have cleared access to 21 oil depots since Friday and the government has insisted that petrol shortages will end within five days.
The senate was initially due to approve yesterday (Weds) but Socialist filibustering has now pushed back the final vote until tomorrow (Friday) at the earliest. But even if it goes through, six out of 10 French people support continued strike action, according to a poll published in Libération newspaper. Some 79 per cent want the government to reopen negotiations with the unions, it found.
Buoyed by massive public support, unions are considering calling a seventh mass strike protest day next Tuesday, despite the fact that half term school holidays starts on Saturday – a break the President hopes will help the movement fizzle out.
Pledging to stand firm, François Fillon, the prime minister said yesterday that “social confrontation” was part of French democracy but that in the end “national consensus” over the need for pension reform would prevail.
Meanwhile, protests by university and secondary school students were once again hijacked by “troublemakers” in some areas.
Central Lyons was the scene of what one police spokesman called “urban guerrilla warfare” for the third day. Masked rioters clashed with police, throwing projectiles and setting fire to a van.
There was tear gas and clashes in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where rioters hijacked a secondary school pupil protest and burned a car.
Brice Hortefeux, the interior minister, warned that “the right to protest is not the right to break things, the right to set things on fire, the right to assault, the right to pillage.”
“We will use all means necessary to get these delinquents,” he added, including bringing in the feared GIGN paramilitary police to take over from CRS riot police.
In the past week, almost 1,500 people had been detained for protest-related violence, with 123 facing legal action, and 62 police officers injured, he said.
Security forces were also called in to clear stinking rubbish that has been piling up in Marseilles for ten days due to striking dustmen.
Transport woes continued with a third of TGV express trains cancelled. A quarter of flights were cancelled at Paris’s second biggest airport, Orly and strikers blocked access to roads leading to Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, where flights were running almost normally.
I urge everyone to get more cooperative, don’t lose the country over backyard issues!
I have said this before and will continue to ‘harp’ on this ad nauseum, the current economic situation in this world cannot continue as is. The status quo is no longer sustainable.
What that means for us as Americans is that, considering the lack of any real backbone from our elected representatives, we must begin thinking and acting for the good of ourselves, families and local communities.
I am not saying to just throw in the towel here, I am saying you must act in this present moment but not be attached to the outcome you would foresee. The tea party is having some success throwing out the current bunch of politicians in D.C. but what is the guarantee that the replacements will do any better? No, we must not depend on the government to do anything substantive here in this time.
We must count on history repeating itself. Too many good human beings get caught up in the money and power game in D.C. and eventually lose their way, the way to the people. It is not only the power games that lead to their demise, it is also trying to coalesce widely divergent viewpoints from their constituents. You see We the People have a very hard time agreeing on any one course of action. We get far to attached to specific issues that have nothing to do with the larger issues that our Constitution could potentially put to rest-at least on the National level.
So many issues that I have seen really are best dealt with personally or at the local community level or at the state level. Many of these issues have no place at the National level. If we put too many issues to these elected people then well, not too many good things will happen…as has been the case so often in the recent past.
This would mean we have to begin thinking for ourselves in a very profound way. We need real leaders that can guide these conversations. We need the thinking individuals to also become involved in the discussion.
Where can this discussion begin? Of course, one place is on the electoral circuit (circus?). More importantly perhaps is in your own living room with your neighbors…get a meet up group started. Don’t ‘limit’ the conversation to just your views, open it up to a broader range having first set the topic. I might suggest that the topic be…what next and how to implement those tenets.
Are we still a country that is governable? Do we have the common traits that can still unify us instead of constant division? These just a few of the questions that I ask and try to discuss periodically, it is just too much for so many to even consider, very often if at all.
Are we sovereign beings at our core? Or are we nothing but slaves, indentured servants to a system that many don’t understand anymore?
Are we spiritual beings having a human experience? Or are we physical, materialistic beings with some ideas about spirituality? Does the answers to these questions have anything to do with possible answers or solutions to the previous questions?
I am always look for some feedback…anyone care to respond? Your survival and that of many others could very well depend on it!
Never ceases to amaze me that the news is focused on ‘getting a level playing field’ in other countries. How about a level playing field here at home? Big companies and banks just can’t lose…small and medium sized companies can’t even compete for capital much less business!
Maybe just maybe we can at the very least spend as much press and political time here at home?
Geithner Urges China to Ensure ‘Level Playing Field’ (Update2)
By Rebecca Christie and Hui-Yong Yu
May 18 (Bloomberg) — Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said he will push China to ensure a “level playing field” for American companies trying to invest in the world’s third-largest economy.
China should do more to protect intellectual-property rights and revise procurement proposals giving preferential treatment to Chinese companies, Geithner said in a speech in Tacoma, Washington. He and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are scheduled to meet May 24-25 with their Chinese counterparts as part of the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
Today’s remarks indicate that access to China’s market is sharing the stage with pressure for an end to the yuan peg for U.S. officials. Geithner has sought to address the currency issue multilaterally through the Group of 20, which Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said today will discuss the yuan at a gathering next month.
“Our agenda in Beijing will focus on reducing the challenges faced by American companies trying to export to China and to produce in China,” Geithner said in prepared remarks for delivery at the Port of Tacoma. He criticized China’s “indigenous innovation” proposals that he said would favor locally owned companies.
Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington today that “innovation is no excuse for discrimination.” Geithner said the administration shares the concerns of American companies that “this approach has the potential to discriminate against foreign-made products and could disadvantage American exporters.”
The Treasury chief also today reiterated his call that China will abandon its exchange-rate peg. The government is moving toward changes in currency policy that would allow market forces to play a greater role, he told reporters after the speech.
“It’s in their interest to let it gradually move over time,” Geithner said. China has held the yuan at about 6.83 to the dollar since July 2008, after allowing it to appreciate by 21 percent over the previous three years. He declined to comment on the euro, which today fell below $1.22 for the first time since April 2006.
Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said that he isn’t “optimistic that these high-level meetings will generate any significant breakthrough” on the yuan. He made the remarks in a letter with nine other senators to Geithner days before the secretary departs for his meetings in Beijing. Geithner and Clinton will meet with counterparts Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo during the annual bilateral talks.
Geithner said China needs to show evidence that it’s listening to the concerns of its trading partners. “China just needs to demonstrate to the world they’ll take action,” he told reporters.
The Treasury secretary traveled to the Seattle area to discuss U.S. exports and economic growth. Earlier today he visited a Boeing Co. manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington, and was scheduled to meet with executives at Microsoft Corp.
President Barack Obama pledged this year to double U.S. exports over the next five years. The U.S. had a $40.4 billion trade deficit in March, its highest level since December 2008, as the U.S. recovery gained strength and pulled in imports.
Industry groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-China Business Council say yuan appreciation, while desired and expected, isn’t at the top of their members’ list of concerns.
“It’s not likely to have that big of an impact on, for example, the U.S.-China trade deficit or U.S. jobs,” said John Frisbie, the council’s president, during a press briefing in Washington today. “This is an irritant to the relationship. We need to get it behind us and move on.”
China is the largest foreign investor in U.S. Treasuries and also the country’s second-largest trading partner. Total U.S.-China trade in goods was $94 billion for the first three months of 2010, up 19 percent from the same period in 2009. The U.S. trade deficit with China was $52 billion in the first three months of the year, up 3 percent from the first quarter of 2009.
Geithner said China’s economy is starting to rely more on domestic demand and less on exports, a trend that will help American companies.
“This is encouraging, but we need to continue to work to make sure that American companies are competing on a level playing field,” Geithner said, adding that U.S. is undergoing a shift toward “saving more and borrowing less from the rest of the world.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Christie in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgHui-yong Yu in Seattle at email@example.com
Last Updated: May 18, 2010 21:58 EDT
Wake up America! Get active! Congratulations on throwing out a few incumbent scumbag politicians!
This is yet another assault on our freedoms. I for one don’t need a bunch of bureaucrats telling me what I can and cannot eat or drink. I think that this is ultimately each individual’s responsibility in their quest for better (or worse) health.
Get active or watch even your ability to decide what is healthy go away!
Feds tell court they can decide what you eat
‘Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish’
Posted: May 14, 2010
1:00 am Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily
Attorneys for the federal government have argued in a lawsuit pending in federal court in Iowa that individuals have no “fundamental right” to obtain what food they choose.
The brief was filed April 26 in support of a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban on the interstate sale of raw milk.
“There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds,” states the document signed by U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose, assistant Martha Fagg and Roger Gural, trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish,” the government has argued.
WND has reported several times on fed crackdowns on producers of raw milk for friends and neighbors, including the recent case when agents arrived to inspect a private property belonging to Dan Allgyer in Pennsylvania at 5 a.m.
The incident was followed by a report a few days later that documented a proposal pending in Congress that critics say would do for the nation’s food supply what the new health-care reform law has done for health-care resources.
(Story continues below)
“S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the U.S.,” critiqued Steve Green on the Food Freedom blog. “It is to our food what the bailout was to our economy, only we can live without money.”
The plan is sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who explains the legislation “is a critical step toward equipping the FDA with the authorities and funding it needs to regulate what is now a global marketplace for food, drugs, devices and cosmetics.”
Now it’s statism on our plate! Mark Levin’s manifesto – ‘Liberty and Tyranny’ – provides the antidote to its growing stranglehold
His website explains, “The legislation requires foreign and domestic food facilities to have safety plans in place to prevent food hazards before they occur, increases the frequency of inspections. Additionally, it provides strong, flexible enforcement tools, including mandatory recall. Most importantly, this bill generates the resources to support FDA food-safety activities.”
The proposal cleared the U.S. House last year but has been languishing in the Senate because of a full calendar of projects. It creates a long list of new requirements for food-producing entities to meet the demands of the secretary of agriculture. It is expected to be the subject of discussion in coming days.
The Iowa case alleges the federal restrictions on raw milk are a violation of the U.S. Constitution, according to a report at Natural News.
The federal attorneys want the case dismissed.
“The interest claimed by plaintiffs could be framed more narrowly as a right to ‘provide themselves and their families with the foods of their own choice,'” the government document states. But the attorneys say that right doesn’t exist.
“The FDA essentially believes that nobody has the right to choose what to eat or drink,” said the Natural News site, which explains it covers topics that allow individuals to make positive changes in their health, environmental sensitivity and consumer choices.
“You are only ‘allowed’ to eat or drink what the FDA gives you permission to. There is no inherent right or God-given right to consume any foods from nature without the FDA’s consent.”
The Natural News report continued, “The state, in other words, may override your food decisions and deny you free access to the foods and beverages you wish to consume. And the state may do this for completely unscientific reasons – even just political reasons – all at their whim.”
The report cited an increasing level of frustration on the part of the federal government because of tactics including buying “cow shares” in which a consumer drinks milk from a cow he partly owns, or “buying clubs.”
“This arrangement drives the FDA absolutely batty because it bypasses their authority and allows free people to engage in the free sales of raw dairy products produced on small family farms,” Natural News said.
The report blames the aggressive campaign against raw milk on large commercial dairy interests, “because it threatens the commercial milk business.”
The reason cannot be safety, the report said, since a report from the Weston A. Price Foundation revealed that from 1980 to 2005 there were 10 times more illnesses from pasteurized milk than from raw milk.
The federal government attorneys say the FDA’s goal is to prevent disease, and that’s why the “ban on the interstate sale of unpasteurized milk” was adopted.
The attorneys conceded that states ordinarily are expected to regulate intrastate activity but noted, “it is within HHS’s authority … to institute an intrastate ban as well.”
Natural News reported the ban could be seen as violating the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which leaves to states all powers not specifically designated in the Constitution for the federal body.
In fact, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, lawmakers there have adopted a bill, with the governor’s support, that would allow farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers.
The move puts Wisconsin in position to be the 20th state to allow direct sales of raw milk. Another handful of states allow retail sales.
Read Joseph Farah’s commentary on the issues of natural foods, in today’s column: “Got milk? You bet – from Mexico”
Write a representative. Buy locally. Support your organic farmers.
The grim financial saga is looking like we will turn into another Greece, just state by state!
WE have already seen cuts to education and law enforcement in many states and municipalities to the point where even Judges are telling folks to arm themselves…
If it is that bad at the state level just think what it will or is like at various municipalities.
I personally am glad that I don’t live in a big city, although I probably live way to near one!
Goodbye, stimulus. Hello, state budget cuts
By Tami Luhby, senior writerMay 5, 2010: 4:10 AM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Think states have made deep spending cuts? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
States have been struggling with huge budget gaps since 2008, but this year could be worse as federal stimulus funds wind down.
Until now, stimulus money spared governors and state lawmakers from making some of the most brutal budget cuts. But with this lifeline running out, officials are looking at making significant cutbacks to public services, particularly schools and health programs.
“The stimulus funds have staved off what could have been even deeper cuts,” said Todd Haggerty, policy associate at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “You’re seeing states now are coming to that point where they will have to make additional cuts or find new sources of revenue for fiscal 2011 and that will continue in fiscal 2012.”
Stimulus safety net
0:00 /4:50Don’t ask for a state job
As of mid-April, states and localities have received nearly $109 billion since the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act was passed in February 2009, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The vast majority of that money went to help states maintain their Medicaid services and education funding in the face of steep drops in tax revenues due to the recession.
In all, the stimulus funds helped plug between 30% and 40% of the $291 billion in budget gaps that states have faced over the past two years, experts said. But Recovery Act money will only be sufficient to plug 20% or less of the coming fiscal year’s shortfalls, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. By fiscal 2012, most of the money will be gone.
Already, many states will have used up much of their education allotments by the start of fiscal 2011, which begins on July 1 in 46 states. And the Medicaid assistance will dry up by the end of the year, unless Congress extends it.
What’ll they tax next?
Compounding the problem is that many states have already slashed services and raided their rainy day funds to balance their budgets, as they are required to do. And a recent analysis by the Rockefeller Institute shows that the all-important personal income tax revenue for April is likely to decline steeply.
All this means that state officials are being forced to make some of the tough decisions they’ve been able to put off for the past 18 months.
“States had this one-time money that helped them bridge a difficult period in state finances,” Haggerty said. “Now they have to face the absence of those funds and a whole new set of difficult issues.”
Cuts on the horizon
Meanwhile, states are looking to Capitol Hill to renew some of the stimulus provisions, particularly the increased federal funding for Medicaid. Both the Senate and House have passed a six-month, $25 billion Medicaid extension, but they have to find a way to pay for it before sending it to President Obama for his signature.
At least 21 states, in fact, have already included the extension in their fiscal 2011 budgets, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. If the measure doesn’t become law, these states would be in big trouble and would have to make even deeper cuts, said Nick Johnson, director of the center’s state fiscal project.
In Pennsylvania, for instance, that extension translates into $850 million. Without it, the state would have to slash half its funding for domestic violence and rape crisis services and chop 25% off the budget for child welfare services, Gov. Ed Rendell wrote in a letter last month to his state’s congressional delegation. In addition, state payments to hospitals, doctors and nursing homes would be reduced.
“If the extension of federal fiscal relief is not enacted, most states will have to lay off thousands of workers and make wrenching cuts to public and private sector services,” he said.
School districts, meanwhile, are also feeling the pain. Some 275,000 education jobs could be eliminated in the coming school year due to budget cuts, according to a new survey by the American Association of School Administrators. This would nearly wipe out the estimated 300,000 jobs saved by stimulus funds.
“Faced with continued budgetary constraints, school leaders across the nation are forced to consider an unprecedented level of layoffs that would negatively impact economic recovery and deal a devastating blow to public education,” said Dan Domenech, executive director of the association, which is pushing Congress to give states additional funds for education.
Take New York as an example. Some 14,800 teachers — 8,500 of them in New York City — could lose their jobs if Gov. David Paterson’s proposed $1.4 billion cut in state education aid is enacted, according to a survey by the New York State Council of School Superintendents and the New York State School Boards Association. That represents 10% of the city’s teachers and 4.1% of educators elsewhere in the state. (Some school districts have negotiated concessions from their unions that will save some jobs.)
Another 2,600 non-teaching staff, including student support staff, administrators, and other employees, such as custodians, kitchen workers and bus drivers, would also be laid off.
Stimulus funds had staved off some of these harsh cuts. But New York only has $700 million left of the $2.7 billion it received to prop up education aid, said David Albert, spokesman for the school boards association.
“This is the largest state aid cut we’ve seen in the last two decades,” he said. “If you think this year is bad, next year is going to be worse because stimulus will run out.”
If you haven’t thought about moving into the country, you might start now. Housing is cheaper and in most places you can grown your own food…or at least supplement easily.
Unfortunately, this sort of reaction might become the norm as people push back against the banking oligarchy. Something the leaders will not do, talk about complicity!
I am hopeful that here in the U.S. we are able to avoid such violence and rely instead on civil disobedience. To do this effectively we must be organized and organized very well. Our elected officials are counting on us to never get organized.
If you have a great idea, form a meet up group. Email us and we will try to get it out.
Greek Protests Leave 3 Dead, Buildings Burning (Update1)
By Maria Petrakis and Natalie Weeks
May 5 (Bloomberg) — Greek demonstrations against government austerity measures turned deadly when three people were killed after protesters set fire to a bank in central Athens.
Fire officials at the scene said they discovered three bodies in the building, according to a fire-department statement sent by text message today. The building, located near the Greek parliament, housed a branch of Marfin Egnatia Bank SA. At least three more buildings were set on fire and 30 fire trucks and 80 firefighters battled the blazes, fire officials said.
Marfin spokesman Serapheim Konstantinidis said that the bank was trying to identify the three victims and couldn’t confirm whether they were employees. A bank worker who escaped the blaze said the fire spread very quickly and it was hard to tell how it started.
Today’s general strike, the third this year, follows Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s announcement of a second set of wage cuts for public workers, a three-year freeze on pensions and a second increase this year in sales taxes and the price of fuel, alcohol and tobacco in return for a bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Trade union groups have called the austerity measures “savage.”
“These measures are unjust and should be paid for by those politicians over the past 30 years who have led us here,” said Barbara Tzerbou, 37, a lawyer who traveled to central Athens with her brother to participate in her first-ever protest. Papandreou “had choices; we didn’t need to get as far as the IMF,” she said.
Tensions escalated as marchers approached the Parliament building where they clashed with helmeted riot police, throwing sticks and stones and chanting slogans before being repulsed. Police shot tear gas at other protesters who lobbed rocks and set trashcans on fire at the central bank building near the parliament.
A group of self-styled anarchists, many with their heads wrapped in black scarves, broke off from the main march and started attacking buildings and starting fires.
The news of the fatal turn in the Greek protests extended declines in stocks and bonds today. The country’s benchmark ASE Index declined 5 percent, bringing the year-to-date drop to 25 percent, the largest in the euro region. The yield premium investors demand to buy Greek 10-year bonds over comparable German debt, reached 699 basis points.
“The demonstrations in Athens are another factor that must be scaring off, turning the mood of credit markets even more against Athens,” Nobel prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps said in an interview on Bloomberg Television before the violence broke out.
Elected in October on pledges to raise wages for public workers and step up stimulus spending, Papandreou revised up the 2009 budget deficit to more than 12 percent of gross domestic product, four times the EU limit, and twice the previous government’s estimate. EU officials revised the deficit further on April 22, to 13.6 percent of GDP.
The surge in the budget gap as the economy contracted fueled investor concern about Greece’s ability to finance the deficit and sent borrowing costs to the highest since before the start of the euro in 1999. Papandreou has pledged to lower the shortfall to within the EU limit of 3 percent of GDP in 2014.
With reductions in wages and increases in taxes, the Greek economy is forecast to shrink 4 percent this year and 2.6 percent in 2011. Unemployment has risen to 11.3 percent, a six- year high.
Unions and some employer and industry groups argue that Papandreou’s terms are designed solely to make savings for the budget rather than setting the bases for growth and fear they will drive the country deeper into a recession, hurting any chances of recovery.
To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Petrakis in Athens at firstname.lastname@example.orgNatalie Weeks in Athens email@example.com
Last Updated: May 5, 2010 09:38 EDT
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Although the President promised not to increase taxes on the ‘middle class’ the new Health Care (sick care) bill does exactly that.
I will be paying a fine of about $1000 in the first year for not having this horrible deal around my neck! Doesn’t that constitute a ‘hidden’ tax? Bottom line is I am paying an extra $1000 to Uncle Sam that I wasn’t prior to this deal. At $1000 a year it is cheaper than paying the exorbitant rates of the insurance companies.
Nearly 4M people could pay without health coverage
By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER Stephen Ohlemacher – Thu Apr 22, 7:04 pm ET
WASHINGTON – Nearly 4 million Americans — the vast majority of them middle class — will have to pay a penalty if they don’t get insurance when President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law kicks in, according to congressional estimates released Thursday.
The penalties will average a little more than $1,000 apiece in 2016, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report.
Most of the people paying the fine will be middle class as Obama’s comprehensive law is phased in over the next few years. In his 2008 campaign for the White House, Obama pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000.
Republicans have criticized the requirement that Americans get coverage, even though the idea was originally proposed by the GOP in the 1990s and is part of the Massachusetts health care plan signed into law in 2006 by then Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican. Attorneys general in more than a dozen states are working to challenge it in federal court as unconstitutional.
“The individual mandate tax will fall hardest on Americans who can least afford to pay it, many of whom were promised subsidies by the Democrats and who the president has promised would not pay higher taxes,” said Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said while Obama and congressional Democrats celebrate the benefits of the law, they have an obligation to acknowledge the flip side. “There’s a price for not participating, and people will pay it,” Grassley said.
Democrats argue that the requirement and the penalties are a necessary part of a massive overhaul designed to expand coverage to millions who now lack it. They point out that getting more Americans, especially young and healthy people, in the insurance pool will reduce costs for others and could lower premiums.
“The new law will make health insurance affordable for everyone and CBO’s analysis confirms that the vast majority of uninsured Americans will find health care affordable and choose to participate,” said White House spokesman Nick Papas.
Americans who don’t get qualified health insurance will be required to pay penalties starting in 2014, unless they are exempt because of low income, religious beliefs, or because they are members of American Indian tribes. The penalties will be fully phased in by 2016.
About 21 million nonelderly residents will be uninsured in 2016, according to projections by the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation. Most of those people will be exempt from the penalties.
Under the new law, the penalties will be phased in starting in 2014. By 2016, those who must get insurance but don’t will be fined $695 or 2.5 percent of their household income, whichever is greater.
After 2016, the penalties will be increased by annual cost-of-living adjustments. People will not be required to get coverage if the cheapest plan available costs more than 8 percent of their income.
The penalties will be collected by the Internal Revenue Service through tax returns. However, the IRS will not have the authority to bring criminal charges or file liens against those who don’t pay.
About 3 million of those required to pay fines in 2016 will have incomes below $59,000 for individuals and $120,000 for families of four, according to the CBO projections. The other 900,000 people who must pay the fine will have higher incomes.
The government will collect about $4 billion a year in fines from 2017 through 2019, according to the report.
Get you pens out or get online and raise a ruckus. The thieves in Washington need to know how you feel about this!