Greece erupts against austerity measures

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IOL pic nov18 greece austerity protesters Reuters File picture - In a bid to raise cash, Greek police are offering a 30 euro ($39) per hour cop-for-hire scheme for private companies or citizens seeking protection at special events.

Athens - Greek riot police fired teargas against hooded protesters during an anti-austerity march on Thursday, one day after a national unity government took office charged with imposing painful tax rises and spending cuts to avert bankruptcy.

At least 50 000 people marched past shuttered shops in central Athens beating drums, waving red flags and chanting “EU, IMF out!” in the first public test for technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos' fractious three-party coalition.

The annual November 17 march commemorates a bloody student uprising against Greece's military junta in 1973 but often becomes a focal point for anti-government protesters.

Unions have said they would use this year's rally to send a warning to Papademos, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank with no political experience, to reverse policies they say have sent Greece into a “death spiral”.

“They have cut my pension twice. This man Papademos is worse than the previous leader. He is a banker. If he dares to take any more austerity measures, we will throw them out,” said pensioner Xeni Kolen, 64.

Youths hurled stones and petrol bombs at baton-wielding police. Schools, universities and many businesses stayed shut for the day and public transport was badly disrupted. A smaller protest rally took place in Thessaloniki, Greece's second city.

Police detained dozens of protesters in Athens. Despite the clashes, police said the rally had passed relatively peacefully and protesters later dispersed without major incident.

Three in four Greeks back Papademos, opinion polls say. But he faces a Herculean task keeping his coalition united behind reforms required under a 130-billion-euro bailout aimed at preventing a default.

“Greek people and above all the young can overcome the crisis and achieve national targets if they are united and act decisively,” Papademos told parliament earlier on Thursday.

He evoked the memory of the 1973 uprising against the colonels who ruled Greece in 1967-74. Its suppression hastened the collapse of their dictatorship. Parliament observed a minute of silence to honour the dozens killed in the uprising.

Cracks are already emerging in Papademos's coalition, cobbled together after Greece's euro zone creditors rejected a plan last week by then-premier George Papandreou to hold a national referendum on the bailout.

The leader of the New Democracy conservatives, Antonis Samaras, whose party is ahead of rivals in opinion polls, made clear his support for the coalition was only temporary and that he was preparing for an election slated for February 19.

Samaras has infuriated Greece's EU peers over the past two years by opposing measures pursued by Papandreou's Socialist administration to stave off default.

In an interview for the magazine Epikera on Thursday, Samaras said his party would not cooperate with its rivals beyond the election and reiterated his call for a switch to pro-growth policies to end a four-year-old recession.

“We are working towards an absolute majority to implement our programme without delay,” he said. “When we can, we will change all that needs to be changed. But to do that, we will need a strong mandate in the coming election.”

Many Greeks blame the two main parties, dominant since the fall of the junta, for piling up debts totalling 370 billion euros, or 160 percent of gross national product.

But Papademos's government, strongly backed by the European Union, is vulnerable to charges that it lacks legitimacy because it has not been chosen by the voters.

“I believe we must go to elections... This government is unconstitutional. We have not voted for it,” said Vassilis Papadopoulos, 49, a bank employee who joined Thursday's rally.

“It does not represent us.” - Reuters


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Anonymous, wrote

IOL Comments
02:08pm on 18 November 2011
IOL Comments

The problem is that the country that drives most economies is build on fraud. The USA money is made out of thin air by a private company they then lend this money and charge interest. 40% of USA income tax goes to pay these private bankers the interest for printing dollars out of thin air. If you or I did this we would be arrested for fraud. The entire system is [allegedly] corrupt and interest is a total farce to make the few rich while draining the poor. The Federal Reserve Bank alone determines how much or how little money to print, hence they control the worls economy and can stop printing when they feel like it to cause panic, they can easily cause a recession by simpoly drying up the money supply by recalling loans and not giving new ones and dont need a reason to do this. It is always for selfish motives to benefit a few. These guys make billions off interest they have no right charging and this is why euope has failed. By the way the federal reserve is based on and run by the same people who own the bank of England. These economies are manipulated more than you or I could ever imagine. The corporates and banks are the worlds govt.

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Anonymous, wrote

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01:52pm on 18 November 2011
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The private bankers are running every economy and govt. except the few that stood up to them such as Iraq and Iran(who America will declare war on next as their bribary methods were unable to secure their oil and they are unable to place military bases there), now they have successfully placed bankers in charge of Greece and Italy. They can bring any govt to their knees. This is why the poor get poorer and the rich, richer. Its all about money and families who have enough money to live like kings for generations, to them money = power, take yours and add it to theirs.

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Anonymous, wrote

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08:47am on 18 November 2011
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The big prpblem here is the fact that the people rely on government for their pensions. Should they have made their own provisions they wouldn't be in such a position today.

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jay, wrote

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08:41am on 18 November 2011
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What I saw in the past. Many Greek businesses went bankrupt to avoid paying taxes. They could have got away in underdeveloped countries. Habit has finial interfered at their home country. People have to change not the country.

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beicime, wrote

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08:45am on 18 November 2011
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The Greeks should know that: 1. Nothing is free. 2. Governments give people things to people with people's money. 3. What you get on credit has got to be paid. Then: 1. If Greeks didn't know this, they are stupid. 2. If Greeks think that the rest of the world should pay for their benefits, they are stupid 3. If Greeks don't vote for responsible governments, they are stupid.

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Darth Vader, wrote

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08:30am on 18 November 2011
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Hear, hear....not only Greeks, SA too, come to WORK to WORK and not dance, sing, riot..etc...

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Webster, wrote

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07:10am on 18 November 2011
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Maybe the Greek should try something different for a change....WORK and PAY TAX

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donovan, wrote

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03:07am on 18 November 2011
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The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money - Margaret Thatcher.

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