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by: Scott Marshall June 12 2015
CHICAGO - The Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, and several other community and labor retiree organizations held a rally on June 10 to protest Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's state budget proposals.
The rally took place in the plaza outside of Rauner's Chicago state office. Rauner would not meet with the rally organizers. Instead he sent two staff members to receive petitions against the cuts to social services and programs.
The staffers refused to come outside and said only a few could come into the building. (The Thompson Center is a large public building with shops and a huge public mezzanine. There are separate security check-points to get on the elevators to the state office floors above.) The staffers also said that only five people could come in to see them and that cameras and media would not be allowed. However, several dozen demonstrators entered.
Some media and folks with cameras were threatened; told that they were violating the Homeland Security Act. Really.
Photo: Video snapshot.
Lender says its negotiating team are going home to Washington due to a lack of progress in narrowing key differences with Athens
Phillip Inman and Graeme Wearden in London, and Helena Smith in Athens
Thursday 11 June 2015 17.58 BST Last modified on Thursday 11 June 2015 18.48 BST
Video posted on YouTube ‘raised concerns’ after it shows the police officer breaking up party in an overly aggressive manner
Martin Pengelly in New York
@MartinPengelly Sunday 7 June 2015 21.50 BST
A Texas police officer has been suspended after
showed him breaking up a pool party in an extremely aggressive manner, including drawing his gun.
On Friday, units from the McKinney police department were called to the party, at Craig Ranch North Community Pool in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, over reports of a fight. Police said the incident involved “multiple juveniles at the location, who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave”.
On Sunday, McKinney police chief Greg Conley spoke to reporters about what followed.
“Several concerns about the conduct of one of the officers at the scene have been raised,” local ABC affiliate WFAA8 reported him as saying. “The McKinney police department is committed to treating all persons fairly under the law. We are committed to preserving the peace and safety of our community for all our citizens.”
Conley did not name the officer in question, who was not named when his suspension was announced.
According to WFAA8, Conley added: “A 14-year-old female was temporarily detained by one of the officers. She was ultimately released to her parents.”
Video posted to YouTube on Saturday shows one officer sprinting past the camera, falling and losing his flashlight, then running again.
Teenagers are seen returning the flashlight to another officer, who responds politely, before the first officer returns and shouts: “On the ground! I told you to stay! Get your asses on the ground. I told you to stay!”
The officer, who was not named when his suspension was announced, is then seen forcing a number of teenagers to lie on a grass verge and a sidewalk and telling others to “get your ass out of here”. Some teenagers are handcuffed.
One teenager can be heard saying: “Sir, we just came from a birthday party, please.”
Another says: “Officer, I can’t find my bag.”
The officer replies: “I don’t care, sit down.”
The officer is then shown talking to teenagers on the ground.
“Don’t make me run round here with 30 kinds of ******* gear on in the sun,” he says, “because you want to screw around out here.”
He then forces a group of bystanders to leave. One, a girl, does not comply and the officer wrestles her to the ground. When other teenagers surround him to remonstrate, he draws his gun. Two other officers move to restrain him, and the officer re-holsters the weapon. He then slams the girl back to the ground, shouting: “On your face!”
As the officer appears to sit on the girl to keep her subdued, hectoring her all the while, a voice, possibly that of the person filming the incident, says the officer pulled a gun on the girl.
“No I didn’t,” he says, pointing at the camera. “Now get your butts outta here.”
The officer is later shown in close-up, lecturing two boys who are sitting on the ground.
“You just did what everybody else did,” he says, “and what everybody else did was illegal. You did it and you got caught. Now you’re sitting here paying for it.
“I asked y’all to sit,” he adds, “you didn’t and you became a part of the mob. You could’ve been the guys that were doing right and you weren’t, so now you’re sitting here in trouble.”
The officer in question is white; most of the teenagers on the video are African American. A number of white men in civilian clothes are also shown.
The poster of the YouTube video, named on the site as Brandon Brooks, wrote: “A fight between a mom and a girl broke out and when the cops showed up everyone ran, including the people who didn’t do anything. So the cops just started putting everyone on the ground and in handcuffs for no reason. This kind of force is uncalled for especially on children and innocent bystanders.”
For the first time in his 13-year rule, the president must enter coalition talks or call new elections as Kurdish party scores a stunning success
Constanze Letsch in Istanbul and agencies
Monday 8 June 2015 07.05 BST
Coalition talks will dominate the coming weeks in Turkey after voters snubbed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plans to change the constitution and extend his grip on power, delivering the biggest blow to his Justice and Development party (AKP) since it swept to power in 2002.
The election result appears to have wrecked Erdogan’s ambition of rewriting the constitution to establish himself as an all-powerful executive president, while the country’s large Kurdish minority has been granted its biggest voice ever in national politics.
The election breakthrough for the leftist HDP, a new party largely representing the Kurds but also encompassing liberals nationally, was greeted with wild celebrations in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir in south-eastern Turkey. Cars paraded through the city with drivers honking and people hanging out from windows making ‘V’ signs as occasional gunshots were fired into the air.
The results will give the Kurds – who, with 20% of Turkey’s population, are the country’s biggest minority – true representation in parliament. The HDP surpassed the steep 10% threshold for entering parliament to take more than 12% of the vote and around 80 seats in the 550-strong chamber. The party’s result also denied Erdoğan’s AKP its majority.
The 10% hurdle, dating from the military-authored constitution of 1980, had been intended in part to diminish Kurdish representation in the parliament.
Erdoğan is yet to speak following the vote, which was the first time in four general elections to see a fall in his support. While the AKP comfortably managed to secure the biggest portion of the vote, its 41% share of seats represents a sharp drop from its performance the 2011 elections, when it won nearly half the national vote. For the first time since 2002, the AKP will need to form a coalition government or call new elections.
It remains unclear who will be a likely partner for the AKP after the most likely candidate, the rightwing Nationalist Movement party (MHP) ruled out the possibility of a coalition.
According to the state-run Anadolu agency, the party leader, Devlet Bahceli, said the party was “ready to be a main opposition party” against an AKP-led coalition or minority government during a speech from party headquarters in Ankara early on Monday.
“Nobody has a right to drag Turkey into [AKP] minority and some circles’ scenarios,” said Bahceli. “A snap election will happen whenever it will happen.” He welcomed the election results, with his party gaining 31 seats in parliament.
Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the leftist HDP, and surprise star of this election, also dismissed any possibility of a coalition with the AKP.
“We will not form a coalition with the AKP. We stand behind our words. We will be in parliament as a strong opposition,” Demirtas said in a press conference in Istanbul on Sunday night. He added that the election results had clearly put an end to all plans of an executive presidency.
“As of this moment, the debate on the presidency, the debate about dictatorship, has come to an end in Turkey. Turkey has returned from the edge of a cliff,” he said.
Pro-government newspapers on Monday morning were already calling for early elections. “The ballot box revealed the ballot box”, read the headline of the conservative daily Yeni Safak.
Burhan Kuzu, the AK party deputy and head of the parliamentary constitution commission, said snap elections were inevitable. “No government will emerge from this scenario. Not even a coalition,” he told BBC Türkçe. “Early elections look inevitable.” He added that the election results reflected the weakness of the parliamentary system.
“The parliamentary system is a curse for the whole world. In Turkey only majority governments ever worked, coalitions always destroyed it.” He said that the only solution would be an executive presidency.
According to the AFP news agency, new elections could be called any time in the next 45 days.
Official results based on 99.9% of votes counted put the AKP in the lead, followed by the Republican People’s party (CHP) on 25%, the MHP on 16.5% and the HDP in fourth place with 13%. Turnout was 86%. According to official projections, the AKP will have 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament, CHP 132, MHP 81 and HDP 79.
The AKP has dominated Turkish politics since it first came to power in 2002, but has suffered from a dip in economic growth and controversy over Erdoğan’s perceived authoritarian tendencies.
The results wreck Erdoğan’s dream of agreeing a new constitution to switch Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system that he had made a fundamental issue in the campaign. Such a change would have required a two-thirds majority in the parliament.
Speaking from the balcony of AKP headquarters in Ankara – the traditional venue for the party’s victory speeches – the prime minister and party leader, Ahmet Davutoglu, sought to put a brave face on the results. “The winner of the election is again the AKP, there’s no doubt,” he said, pledging to ensure Turkey’s stability. But he added: “Our people’s decision is final. It’s above everything and we will act in line with it.”
But the atmosphere outside the AKP’s headquarters was muted. Several hundred supporters chanted for Erdoğan, the party’s founder, but there was little sign of the huge crowds that gathered after past election victories.
Erdogan’s divide-and-rule strategy of rallying his religious-conservative base has led to increasing polarisation in Turkey, and in some cases to violence. Erdoğan had repeatedly lashed out at the HDP and its charismatic leader Demirtaş before the elections.
The HDP ran on a platform defending the rights of ethnic minorities, women, and lesbian, ***, bisexual and transgender people - forming an electoral coalition between the Kurdish minority in Turkey’s south-east and liberals in Istanbul and elsewhere.
“This result shows that this country has had enough. Enough of Erdoğan and his anger,” said Seyran Demir, a 47-year-old who was among the thousands who gathered in the streets around the HDP’s provincial headquarters in Diyarbakir. “I am so full of joy that I can’t speak properly.”
“It is a carnival night,” said 47-year-old Huseyin Durmaz, a Kurd. “We no longer trust the AKP,” he said.
Another record was set by the number of women MPs set to take a seat in parliament after an unofficial tally estimated a total of 96 female parliamentarians securing a place in the Turkish grand national assembly – a record high and up from 79 in 2011.
Greek prime minister accuses his country’s creditors of making ‘absurd’ demands and insists debt restructuring offer must stay in place
Heather Stewart and Helena Smith in Athens
Friday 5 June 2015 20.03 BST
The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has warned that time is running out to rescue the country from the brink of bankruptcy an and exit from the eurozone, ensuring that Greece’s plight will be a pressing concern for G7 leaders as they gather in Bavaria.
With the end of June now regarded as the last possible moment for striking a deal to release the €7.2bn (£5.2bn...$8B) in bailout funds that Greece needs to stay afloat, Tsipras struck a defiant tone in a statement before the country’s parliament, accusing Greece’s creditors of making “absurd” demands on his recession-hit country and insisting, “they won’t humiliate us”.
Tsipras also appealed to the Greek opposition parties – and his own Syriza MPs – to give their backing to his negotiating stance and reject the latest proposals from the country’s paymasters.
“Time is not only running out for us, it is running out for everyone,” he warned, adding, “Greek people should be proud because the government is not going to give into absurd proposals.”
He also insisted that a debt restructuring – writing off some of the €320bn that Greece owes – must remain on the table.
US officials, including the Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, have repeatedly warned their European counterparts not to be complacent about the economic risks of a so-called Grexit, and President Obama is likely to reiterate that argument this weekend. The US president is likely to be particularly concerned that Greece could turn to Russia for aid. Tsipras underlined that risk on Friday by letting it be known he was holding a phone conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
In the Greek parliament, Antonis Samaras, leader of the opposition New Democracy party, accused Tsipras of mishandling the negotiations and tipping Greece back into recession. “You have totally destroyed the country and isolated us,” he said.
Analysts said Tsipras’s firm public rejection of the creditors’ latest proposal made it hard to envisage a deal emerging. Nick Spiro, of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, said it was, “difficult to see a basis for further negotiation”, given that Greece and its paymasters were already “at daggers drawn”.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is thought to favour a compromise in the talks between Greece’s radical leftist government and its lenders, but the International Monetary Fund has argued for a tougher stance.
Tsipras went to the Greek parliament to explain his stance last night, after Athens took the risky decision to delay a €300m ($333.3M) payment to the IMF.
In a highly charged parliamentary session, Tsipras condemned the proposals tabled at a late-night meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.
A leaked draft of those proposals called on Athens to make pensions cuts, raise VAT and cancel the planned repeal of controversial labour market reforms imposed as part of its original bailout deal.
All of these demands are unacceptable to Tsipras and to many in his party. He had hoped to return to Brussels to continue negotiations on Friday but a furious response from his Syriza colleagues forced him to remain in Greece and make the case for continuing to engage in the negotiations.
Greek share prices were sold off sharply as investors absorbed the news that Athens had refused to make the IMF payment, a decision that emerged after markets closed on Thursday night. The Athens general composite index fell by almost 5%, with banks hit particularly hard.
Athens exploited a little-known loophole in IMF rules and announced that it would bundle up four debt repayments into one lump sum at the end of the month.
The ratings agency Fitch confirmed on Friday that Greece’s decision to postpone the payment would not jeopardise its credit rating, which has already been cut to CCC over the course of the crisis.
Fitch warned: “The risk that Greece misses its larger IMF payment at the end of June cannot be discounted,” adding that Athens’ decision “illustrates the pressure that a lack of market or official funding and tight liquidity conditions for Greek banks are putting on Greece’s sovereign liquidity”.
A group of high-profile economists, including the Nobel prizewinner Joseph Stiglitz and John Maynard Keynes’ biographer Robert Skidelsky, also wrote a letter to the Financial Times calling for Greece to be granted debt forgiveness, starting with an immediate moratorium on repayments in return for economic reforms. “We think that the whole of Europe will benefit from Greece being given the chance of a fresh start,” they said.
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