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'I Won't Pay' Movement Spreads Across Greece

Metro station in Athens
© Thanassis Stavrakis / AP
A passenger passes a covered ticket machine with a plastic bag during a protest by PAME, a Communist Party-backed labor union, at the Syntagma Metro station in Athens.
In light of austerity measures, citizens ignore tolls, transit ticket costs, even bills for healthcare

Athens, Greece - They blockade highway toll booths to give drivers free passage. They cover subway ticket machines with plastic bags so commuters can't pay. Even doctors are joining in, preventing patients from paying fees at state hospitals.

Some call it civil disobedience. Others a freeloading spirit. Either way, Greece's "I Won't Pay" movement has sparked heated debate in a nation reeling from a debt crisis that's forced the government to take drastic austerity measures - including higher taxes, wage and pension cuts, and price spikes in public services.

What started as a small pressure group of residents outside Athens angered by higher highway tolls has grown into a movement affecting ever more sectors of society - one that many say is being hijacked by left-wing parties keen to ride popular discontent.

A rash of political scandals in recent years, including a dubious land swap deal with a rich monastery and alleged bribes in state contracts - has fueled the rebellious mood.

Stormtrooper

Governor Scot Walker Takes Union Busting Tactics from the Master

May 1933: Hitler Abolishes Unions

Madison protest1
© Jess Denni
Madison protest
On May 2nd, 1933, the day after Labor day, Nazi groups occupied union halls and labor leaders were arrested. Trade Unions were outlawed by Adolf Hitler, while collective bargaining and the right to strike was abolished. This was the beginning of a consolidation of power by the fascist regime which systematically wiped out all opposition groups, starting with unions, liberals, socialists, and communists using Himmler's state police.

Fast forward to America today, particularly Wisconsin. Governor Walker and the Republican/Tea Party members of the state legislature are attempting to pass a bill that would not only severely punish public unions (with exception for the police, fire, and state trooper unions that supported his campaign), but it would effectively end 50 years to the right of these workers to collectively bargain.
Collective bargaining is a process of voluntary negotiations between employers and trade unions aimed at reaching agreements which regulate working conditions. Collective agreements usually set out wage scales, working hours, training, health and safety, overtime, grievance mechanisms and rights to participate in workplace or company affairs. -wiki

Stormtrooper

Greek Police in Fresh Clashes With Protesters

Greek police clashed with protesters on Wednesday as around 100,000 workers, pensioners and students marched to parliament in protest at austerity policies aimed at helping Greece cope with a huge debt crisis.


Arrow Down

US: Anti-abortion Billboard in New York Sparks Outrage

Image
© Splash
The controversial poster on corner of Sixth Avenue and Watts Street, SoHo, New York
An anti-abortion billboard featuring a young black girl and the slogan "the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb" has provoked sharp criticism in New York.

The poster advertises a Texas-based group called Life Always, which campaigns against what it calls a "genocidal plot" against unborn babies. It is on display in the SoHo area of Manhattan.

On its website, Life Always states: "Abortions among African-American women are three times that of the rest of the population. Over 25 per cent of the next generation is being wiped out as we speak".

Bill de Blasio, the city's public advocate, described the advertisement as "grossly offensive to women and minorities". "This billboard simply doesn't belong in New York City," said Mr de Blasio.

Attention

Canada: Teacher Sex Trial Ends in Hung Jury

Image
© CBC/Mike Laanela
A mistrial has been declared in a Vernon, B.C., provincial court in the trial of a teacher accused of having sex with a student.
A B.C. schoolteacher charged with having sex with a 12-year-old male student walked free Wednesday after a hung jury prompted the judge to declare a mistrial.

Deborah Ashton, now 45, was charged with invitation to sexual touching, sexual assault and touching for sexual purposes a person under 14 years of age while she taught in Vernon, B.C., in the province's southern Interior.

The jury sent a note to the judge Wednesday, saying they were hopelessly deadlocked after two days of deliberations.

The judge then declared a mistrial.

The case has been put over until April 11 when a new trial date will be set.

Her accuser, now 21, and who cannot be identified, said he and Ashton had about 200 sexual encounters, starting in 2003 when he was her 12-year-old student.

Info

US: Study: 'Sidewalk Rage' Plagues New York City Streets

Image
© File/AP Photo
Pedestrians on 5th Avenue, New York City
City Has Thousands Upon Thousands Of People Per Square Mile

You're walking to work, making good time, and then... someone steps in front of you, moving at a snail's pace. Or a tourist blocks your path to snap a picture. Or some knucklehead in front of you is focused on their Blackberry, not where they're going.

We've all been there. If just the thought of any of these scenarios makes you reach the boiling point, though, you may have a problem. Apparently, you don't have to hit the road to feel the rage.

Researchers say "sidewalk rage" is real.

1010 WINS' John Montone tries to stop and talk to some aggressive walkers in Midtown

Aggressive walkers can express their frustration in different forms and intensity levels - ranging from staring down a slow walker to physically bumping into them. Experts say acting out on sidewalk rage may be a sign of a psychiatric condition known as "intermittent explosive disorder."

"I am one of those sidewalk ragers, it just drives me crazy," Joe Camposo, of Westbury, confessed to 1010 WINS' John Montone. "It's either move or get out of the way. I have no patience."

Two women from Brooklyn told Montone they've been victims of sidewalk rage getting pushed, knocked down and elbowed.

Researchers are conducting studies to determine what sets people off and how it can be curbed - especially since the sidewalks aren't getting any less crowded.

Comment: People dealing with 'sidewalk rage' would probably benefit greatly from daily meditation. We recommend everyone to try Éiriú Eolas stress control, healing and rejuvenation program available for FREE!


House

US: New York House Found With Filthy Animals Including Calf

Dozens of flea-infested animals and several rotting animal corpses were removed from a filthy New York home where an elderly woman with dementia lived with two younger people, authorities said on Wednesday.

Living in the house were a calf, fancy hens, rats, rabbits, a chinchilla, a Mallard duck, a pheasant and other animals, said Sergeant Regina Benfante of the Suffolk County, New York, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"You name it, and that type of animal was in there," she said. All told, 76 live animals and about 10 corpses were found, she said.

Three people also lived in the house -- the 87-year-old owner who suffers from dementia, family friend Alan Warner, 23, and his fiance, she said.

Warner was cited for violating town codes regarding the animals but no animal cruelty charges had been filed while the SPCA investigates, she said.

Handcuffs

US: Large Group of Illegal Immigrants Found in Arizona

Border agents said Wednesday they arrested an unusually large group of illegal immigrants crossing through the western Arizona desert in what authorities said is proof that increased border technology is working.

Border Patrol surveillance video operators Friday morning spotted a group of more than 100 people walking just north of the Mexico border about 15 miles west of Lukeville, Ariz., Agent Eric Cantu said.

When agents responded, Cantu said they were able to arrest 22 people but the rest of the group scattered.

A helicopter team found much of the group hiding in thick brush, and agents arrested 106 additional illegal immigrants. The smugglers and other suspected illegal immigrants may have gotten away, Cantu said.

The 128 men who were apprehended have either been returned to Mexico or were jailed because of prior convictions.

The Border Patrol's Tucson sector typically sees such large groups of border crossers no more than once or twice a year, Cantu said. Illegal immigrants typically travel in groups of five to 15, he said, because larger groups are much easier to detect.

Laptop

Is Scott Walker Cutting Off Internet Access To Thwart Protesters?

Imperial Walker
© ThinkProgess

According to pro-labor protesters in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R) may be taking a page from former Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak and cutting off internet access to key protest organizers within the state Capitol building.

If you are in the Capitol attempting to access the internet from a free wifi connection labeled "guest," you cannot access the site defendwisconsin.org. The site has been used to provide updates on what is happening, where you can volunteer, and where supplies and goods are needed to support protesters. Administrators of the website were notified on Monday that the page is being blocked. Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate says that the site was put on a blacklist typically used to filter out pornography sites so that protestors inside the Capitol could not access this key site.

Former Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Charles Hoornstra said that, if Walker is blocking the website, it could be a violation of state and federal laws concerning free speech laws. The accusation by the Wisconsin Democratic Party accompanies an accusation by the Teaching Assistants Association that Wisconsin state authorities cut off wifi access to a room they had taken over as a headquarters inside of the Capitol.

Eye 1

Another senior Libyan diplomat resigns

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Protesters carry a Libyan flag during a street protest in a square in Benghazi, Libya, February 23, 2011

A senior Libyan diplomat has resigned from his post as counselor at the country's embassy in Canada in protest at the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Ihab al-Mismari announced his resignation on Wednesday, saying his decision was due to the embassy's effort aimed at hiding and downplaying the brutal attacks against protesters in his homeland, AFP reported.

"They are killing the friends with whom I grew up; they are killing my brothers and sisters," al-Mismari said.