Archive for September 4th, 2012

A top Iranian official says Israel and the West have concerted efforts to undermine the resistance movement in the Middle East by targeting Syria and financing the Syrian insurgents.

“A resistance chain comprising Iraq, Iran, Syria and Palestine has been formed against the hegemony of the Zionist regime [of Israel] and the US, and they seek to break this chain,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advizor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said on Tuesday.

“The Western countries are looking for a substitute at the heart of the Middle East and therefore they have targeted Syria,” Velayati added.

Describing Damascus as “the golden ring of the resistance chain,” the Iranian official said, “The Western countries do not intend to establish a liberal government or democracy in Syria, but they want to break the resistance chain.”

Velayati argued that the West and Israel have been funding the minority insurgent groups in Syria to help them to fight against the Syrian government.

The Leader’s advisor noted that safeguarding the chain of [anti-Israeli] resistance is of strategic importance to the Islamic Republic.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving force behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.

The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the armed militants are foreign nationals.



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Greek Worker Rights Under Attack

A leaked email sent to the Greek Ministries of Finance and Labor from the Troika says Greek private sector workers should work six days a week and longer hours.

The letter, which was published on August 31, shows that the Troika expects the Labor Ministry to implement a number of other new measures. They include reducing the notice period before firing a worker, and cutting certain severance packages by 50 per cent by giving employers the right to reduce workers’ time in service. Restrictions on overtime are also expected to come into effect.

“It also wants a dismantling of the labor inspectorate which is the public service that is responsible for implementing labor law. So it’s not only about making the labor market more flexible,” Panagiotis Sotiris from the University of the Aegean told RT.

The email was sent ahead of meetings between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partners, the PASOK Socialists of Evangelos Venizelos and the Democratic Left of Fotis Kouvelis, according to the financial newspaper Imerisia.

“I think we are going to see a total dismantling of labor law which would possibly even include a 7 day work week. It’s also interesting that they are trying to reduce the number of hours between shifts to only 11 hours. So their idea is that an employer can call up an employee at any time, giving the employee no stability of working hours,” Sotiris said.

The six day work week is something that’s already legal in France, where only one day of rest is currently required after 35 hours worked.

In the UK, employment hours are monitored by a reference period – a span of 17 weeks – in which an employee must average no more than 48 hours of work per week.

The law allows unlimited hours during any given week, so long as the worker’s 17 week average does not exceed 48 hours.

The relationship between Greece and the Troika – which includes the IMF, the European Union and the European Central Bank, has been tense for months, after the Troika repeatedly accused Athens of failing to keep to its deficit reduction plan.

“Nothing has been done in Greece for the past three or four months,” a Troika official told Reuters during a July visit to Athens.

The Greek government agreed to new cuts for 2013-2014, but warned the slashed budget wouldn’t be followed by additional cuts.

“This is the last such package of spending cuts,” Samaras told a meeting of his conservative party’s officials on Thursday.

The government is currently drawing up plans on how to come up with $14.5bn worth of savings to satisfy the Troika.

“There is political agreement on the package. It will be sealed next week and presented to the Troika,” Greece’s Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told Reuters.

The new cuts will then need to be approved by the Greek parliament.

The vote is expected to spark protests as trade unions oppose further austerity.

The Troika is expected to return to Athens on Wednesday to deliver a report on the country’s progress in terms of meeting its bailout obligations. The results will determine whether EU leaders decide to continue funding Greece.

Greece is in the midst of a five-year recession, with nearly two million people currently unemployed. The economy has shrunk 7 per cent, and 68,000 businesses have been closed.

But it appears Athens hasn’t arrived at the economic crisis due to laziness.

Working for a living

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures show the average Greek employee works 2,017 hours per year – more than in any other European country.

But unfortunately for Greece, more hours worked doesn’t mean increased productivity.

The answer lies within a simple math equation. By taking Greece’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and dividing it by the total number of workers. This shows that despite the number of hours worked, Athens is still lagging far behind countries like Germany when it comes to productivity.


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FARC rap video goes viral!


It’s a catchy rhythm of a song. Two guerrilla rappers- a man and a woman- dressed in fatigues with Che Guevara shirts emblazoned on their chests, accompanied only by the sound of drums.

Colombia’s largest revolutionary guerrilla group confirmed in a defiant, mocking rap video it was involved in exploratory peace talks with the government.

The “video for peace,” released by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, came a week after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on TV his government had held “exploratory conversations” with the Marxist-Leninist group to end the 48-year armed conflict.

“We are coming to the negotiating table without rancor or arrogance,” FARC top commander Rodrigo Londono, known by his war alias Timochenko, said at the beginning of the video, first posted on the FARC Web site and later found on YouTube, before the singers began rapping.

They brag the government wasn’t able to defeat them.

“I’m going to Havana, this time to talk to the one who accused me of lying about peace,” the singers rap. “The bourgeois who was looking for us couldn’t defeat us.” After the song, Londono returns to the video and says, “We have sworn to win and we will win.”

Santos — who is mocked in the video as “that pedantic Chucky Santos who finds the need to ask [former Cuban leader] Fidel Castro to help with FARC” — responded to Londono’s statement “with much hope” that both sides “can settle this conflict, which has caused so much pain.” “Chucky” referred to the homicidal Chucky doll in the 1990s horror film series “Child’s Play.”

Sources: 1, 2


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