ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A 24-hour strike by civil servants disrupted public services in Greece on Wednesday as the government struggled to hammer out a deal on further austerity measures with international creditors.
Thousands of protesters attended rallies in Athens and other cities, while civil servants penciled in another 48-hour strike on March 19-20.
In central Athens, cleaning staff fired by the finance ministry marched holding up buckets and mops, and a group of school teachers chained themselves to railings in front of parliament.
“I feel like I’ve been dumped in the trash,” said Nikos Kikakis, a suspended 59-year-old high school headmaster who is due to be laid off this month and joined the protest at the parliament. “I have worked for 26 years in public service, and have no hope of finding a job now.”
Read more » Yahoo News
Russia is going to write off 90 percent of Cuba’s $32 billion Soviet-era debt as part of a deal to end a 20-year dispute, according to diplomatic sources cited by Reuters.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev agreed to write off the island’s debt during a visit to Havana in February 2013, stressing details would be finalized by the end of the year.
In October, the two sides signed a refinancing agreement that requires Cuba to settle Moscow $3.2 billion over ten years, and Russia would forgive the remaining $29 billion, which is $20 billion in debt plus service and interest, according to Reuters. Between $5-6 billion of Cuba’s remaining foreign debt is non-Soviet.
Read more » rt.com
Power sector dues: Govt defaults on sovereign guarantees
By Shahbaz Rana
ISLAMABAD: Failure to honour its financial commitments to Independent Power Producers (IPP) has led to the first-ever sovereign default by the government in Pakistan’s history.
The default on sovereign guarantees – assurances the government provides to foreign investors – may not only unnerve the financial markets, but also downgrade the government’s creditworthiness, making it more expensive to borrow money.
“Today, the government of Pakistan has committed a sovereign default for the first time in the history of the country”, announced the IPPs Advisory Committee here on Tuesday.
“The government has defaulted on payments of roughly Rs45 billion to nine IPPs that generate 1,700 megawatts of electricity”, said Abdullah Yusuf, Chairman IPP Advisory Committee while talking to The Express Tribune. These nine IPPs started operations in 2004 and their total receivables amount to almost Rs232 billion.
Taking legal course
The IPPs gave a 30-day payment notice to the power purchaser, the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA), followed by a 10-day notice to the government. Neither the CPPA nor the government cleared the overdue amounts, said the advisory committee.
The IPPs have exhausted all avenues available and the notice served to the government expired on Tuesday, the committee said.
After the default, the IPPs have issued a legal notice to the government for recovery by Thursday, May 10th, 2012 failing which the IPPs will follow a legal course.
Yusuf said the IPPs will go to the Pakistani courts.
“The default is a very serious matter and carries negative implications for the country”, Yusuf added. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty
(CNN) — The United States must position itself to lead in a world “where security is shaped in boardrooms and on trading floors — as well as on battlefields,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will say Friday in a major economics and foreign policy speech in New York.
Economic forces, Clinton will say, are transforming foreign policy realities around the globe.
“We have seen governments toppled by economic crisis,” a text of the Secretary’s remarks released by the State Department on the eve of the speech reads. “Revolutions born in a Tunisian marketplace have swept across an entire region. Europe faces its strongest test in a generation, thanks to recession and debt. And everywhere I travel, I see countries gaining influence not because of the size of their armies, but because of the growth of their economies.”
Clinton will say she is updating U.S. foreign policy priorities to include economics “every step of the way,” suggesting the United States should take a cue from the leaders of emerging powers like India and Brazil who put economics at the center of their foreign policies.
“When their leaders approach a foreign policy challenge — just as when they approach a domestic challenge — one of the first questions they ask is, ‘how will this affect our economic growth?'” the text of the speech says. “We need to be asking the same question — not because the answer will dictate our foreign policy choices, but because it must be a significant part of the equation.”
In the address before the Economic Club of New York, the fourth in a series of speeches Secretary Clinton is giving on economics and foreign policy, she will say the world’s “strategic and economic center of gravity is shifting east” and the United States is focusing more on the Asia-Pacific region.
“One of America’s great successes of the past century was to build a strong network of relationships and institutions across the Atlantic,” she says. “One of our great projects in this century will be to do the same across the Pacific.”
The United States should help other countries find economic solutions to strategic challenges, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, she says. “We need a sophisticated effort to integrate the region’s economies, promote investment and assist in economic modernization. The Arab political Awakening must also be an economic awakening.”
Clinton takes aim at Americans who would turn inward, arguing “you can’t call ‘time out’ in the global economy. Our competitors aren’t taking a time out, and neither can we.”
Increasingly, the United States is focusing on “tracking and thwarting” the financiers of terrorism, using sanctions and other economic tools to cut repressive regimes off from insurance, banking and shipping, Clinton says.
Finally, Clinton says, the United States is “modernizing (its) agenda on trade, investment and commercial diplomacy to deliver jobs and growth for the American people.”
But the United States cannot compete, she says, if it is frozen in domestic political fights.
“Washington has to end the culture of political brinksmanship — which, I can tell you, is raising questions around the world about our leadership.”
– The young people protesting in Wall Street and beyond reject this vain economic order. They have come to reclaim the future
• Police tactics attacked as officers pepper-spray women
• Occupy Wall Street: the protesters speak
Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?
There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.
Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?
Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down. ….
Read more → guardian.co.uk
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The leadership of the Muslim League came mostly from provinces which were not parts of Pakistan. Jinnah, like all autocrats did not tolerate difference of opinion and had excluded the bright and the intelligent like Suharwardy and Fazal Haque while promoting Liaquat and Nazimuddin …
…. Jinnah, in a singularly misconceived move towards national integration, declared that Urdu and only Urdu will be the official language of Pakistan. That, I believe, was the first nail.
Jinnah, while he lived, kept all the levers of power in his hands. Liaquat, PM in name, did not even enjoy the powers White House chief of the staff does.
Jinnah died. Liaquat did not have the authority to embrace his legacy. The power brokers in West Pakistan would not allow the drafting of a constitution which would give representation proportional to the population of East Pakistan. I recall mullahs gave the argument that if you took out 20% of the population of the East who were Hindus, the numbers between the two wings would be equal. Some even suggested that Hindus be made to pay Jazya. Finance minister Ghulam Muhammad pointed out that they would in that case be exempt from taxes. That shut the mouth of the religious lobby.
Liaquat was reduced to offering a basic principles resolution (Qarardad e Maqasid), which declared Pakistan to be an Islamic State. That put paid to Jinnah’s legacy of separation of faith and state. ….
…. Yahya arranged an election on the basis of adult franchise. Mujib got overall majority and could garner two third majority with the help of smaller provinces. There was no problem with making Mujib the PM, except personally to Bhutto, but he wanted autonomy of the kind Jinnah had insisted on in pre-independence India. ….
….. Pakistan was further burdened by immense military expenditure, which necessitated an unholy mass of debt. All nation building measures remained in the limbo. Infra-structure, education, health, research and industry remained stunted. ….
To read complete article : ViewPoint
Author: Jayshree Bajoria, Senior Staff Writer
Pakistan may be even more vulnerable than Egypt (The News) to popular discontent, with higher inflation, unemployment, and external debt, much of it exacerbated by the devastating flood of 2010 that crippled an already teetering economy. Many Pakistanis are sympathetic (PressTV) to the anger over corruption, surging food prices, and lack of jobs driving Egypt’s protests.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani rules out the likelihood of an uprising such as those in Egypt and Tunisia. “Our institutions are working and democracy is functional,” Gilani says (Daily Times).
Huma Yusuf, a Pakistan scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, says it is unlikely Pakistanis will unite against a common cause. “Decades of manipulative politicking under military regimes have fractured civil society (Dawn) and factionalized politics,” she writes. “We will always see ourselves through an ethnic, sectarian, or socio-economic lens before we see ourselves as Pakistani.” The murder of Pakistan’s Governor Salman Taseer by his own security guard in January, and support for Taseer’s assassin among many Pakistanis, exposed some of these growing divisions.
Like Egypt, Pakistan is an important strategic partner whose stability matters even more for U.S. national security interests, in neighboring Afghanistan as well as in U.S. efforts to confront al-Qaeda. But U.S.-Pakistan relations have been strained following the detention of a U.S. diplomat on possible murder charges. The Washington Post reports the Obama administration has suspended all high-level dialogue with Pakistan.
Read more : Council on Foreign Relations
Jesters and destinies —Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
– Whenever armies become unanswerable to the state and become a ‘deep state’, the irreversible rot sets in and results in the disintegration of the state they are supposedly safeguarding and protecting.
In his book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) tells about a Roman emperor who, angered by the actions of his favourite jester, orders that he be put to death. The jester, hearing this, mournfully shakes his head and says that a wish of his would remain unfulfilled. Inquisitive, the emperor inquires and after some persuasion the jester tells that he has the knowledge and the ability to teach the emperor’s favourite black stallion to speak.
The emperor asks how long would it take and is told a year is enough. The death sentence is temporarily waived and the condemned jester allowed to fulfil his promise. The jester’s well-wishers tell him that he has committed a great folly as there was no way that he could make the stallion speak. He replies, “There is a possibility that in the intervening time I may die a natural death or maybe even the emperor could die and I would be free. Moreover, a year is long enough a period; who knows, the black stallion may learn to speak.”
Sixty-three years are a long enough period to change destinies but it seems the jesters here who took up the task were incompetent, corrupt and dishonest to the core, whose concept of a tryst with destiny remained limited to accumulating power and pelf for their dynasties. They neither had compassion for the people nor the wisdom to understand that they were establishing the groundwork for the eventual catastrophe. They felt if they could muster the support of their various masters and mentors for undisputed authority and power to rule, then for all intents and purposes the masses and their problems were irrelevant. They simply ensured by deceit and fraud that loans would continue to pour in to make their lives luxurious even if that meant burdening the people with irredeemable debts. These jesters have brought this place to this pass and the only route open is the way down. …
Read more : Daily Times
Courtesy: Geo TV (Aaj Kamran Khan ke Saath, 03 December, 2010)
via – ZemTV – You Tube Link
Pakistan is facing the darkest period of its history. This is because of the improper management of different Governments of Pakistan. The government slogans of Food, Shelter and Employment seems to be invain.
The load shedding (Blackout) has emerged to be the greatest cause of trouble for the residents of Pakistan . It is observed that 1/3 of the day the electricity remains off. The residents can’t work properly, can’t sleep properly. Ultimately they remain disturbed in every walk of life. There is need to put forward our efforts for the betterment of this problem.