Parchment in the Fire

Politics, Political Theory and History

Italy in period of stagnation – Istat – English – ANSA.it

Italy in period of stagnation – Istat – English – ANSA.it.

(ANSA) – Rome, July 31 – Italy’s recovery from its longest postwar recession is turning out to be harder than expected and the country’s economy is currently enduring a phase of “stagnation”, national statistics agency Istat said Thursday. Italy posted positive growth for the first time in over two years in the last quarter of 2013, with a 0.1% rise in GDP, but that increase was reversed in the first three months of this year.

“The recovery of economic growth is more difficult than had been forecast,” Istat said in its monthly statement.

“The signals coming from households and companies seem to depict a phase of substantial stagnation in economic activity, although there are some positive signals on employment”.

Youth unemployment reaches record high – English – ANSA.it

Youth unemployment reaches record high – English – ANSA.it.

(ANSA) – Rome, July 31 – Unemployment among young Italians climbed last month to 43.7%, a level not seen in 37 years, according to statistics Thursday that presented further evidence of the continuing weakness in the country’s lackluster economy.

The jobless rate among Italians aged 15 to 24 rose from a revised 43.1% in May, said national statistical agency Istat, adding that June’s level of 43.7% was the highest since it began keeping quarterly jobs statistics in 1977.

“The economic situation is less than favourable,” said Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan.

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Greek court acquits farmers who shot 28 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers | World news | theguardian.com

Greek court acquits farmers who shot 28 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers | World news | theguardian.com.

A Greek court’s decision to acquit local farmers who admitted shooting 28 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers when they dared to ask for months of back pay has sparked outrage in the country.

Politicians, unionists and anti-racist groups roundly condemned the verdict describing it as a black mark for justice in a case that had shone a light on the appalling conditions in which migrant workers are often kept in Greece.

“I feel shame as a Greek,” said the victim’s lawyer, Moisis Karabeyidis, after the tribunal in the western port city of Patras, delivered the shock ruling. “This decision is an outrage and a disgrace … the court showed an appalling attitude toward the victims.”

Scores of migrants, many sobbing in disbelief, protested outside the court house after magistrates allowed two of the men, including the owner of the farm who had been accused of human trafficking, to walk free.

Two others, accused of aggravated assault and illegal firearms possession, were handed prison sentences of 14 years and seven months and eight years and seven months but were also freed pending appeal.

The Bangladeshis were shot at in April last year when they demanded to be remunerated for six months of unpaid work at a farm in Manolada in the southern Peloponnese. Four of the strawberry pickers were badly injured in the attack.

At a time of unrivalled crisis in Greece, where living standards have deteriorated dramatically after six straight years of recession, the case had triggered widespread indignation.

Media investigations showed the migrants to be working in subhuman conditions without access to proper hygiene or basic sanitation.

Politicians who took up the cause also weighed in on Wednesday saying the verdict sent set an unwelcome example for other employers to follow.

“It sends the message that a foreign worker can die like a dog in the orchard,” said Vassiliki Katrivanou, an MP with the main opposition radical-left Syriza party. She added that in a nation where fruit-farm labourers are frequently from overseas, the attack in Manolada was far from being an isolated incident.

“It leaves room for new victims by closing eyes to the brutal, inhuman and racist character of the exploitation suffered by workers on the land,” she said, pointing out that the ruling had been made on World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

The Greek farmers had instructed top criminal lawyers to defend them in a court drama that lasted for over a month. More than 40 prosecution witnesses testified in a case in which the prosecutor had asked that exemplary punishment be made.

Denouncing the judgment as scandalous, anti-racism organisations said it raised questions about the impartiality of the Greek justice system and vowed to step up protest action against the decision.

“We call upon unions and human rights movements to react against this unprecedented racist scandal,” said Petros Constantinou, coordinator of the Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat in a statement. “The hundreds of millions of profit made in the strawberry industry cannot come about by shooting labourers in strawberry fields.”

UK: cost of living crisis continues

Originally posted on Michael Roberts Blog:

The latest data on employment, earnings and prices in the UK confirm that the cost of living crisis continues, despite the claims of the Conservative-led coalition government.

By cost of living crisis, we mean that the average earnings of Britons are not rising as fast as prices in the shops, so that, on average, British households continue to suffer a fall in their standard of living (before we take into account net taxes and benefits).

The latest data for June 2014 showed an uptick in UK consumer price inflation (CPI) from 1.5% yoy in May to 1.9% yoy. This was mainly caused by a jump in food and clothing prices, which have been muted up to now. If the cost of housing is included, retail price inflation (RPI) rose from 2.4% yoy to 2.6%.

UK CPI

So inflation is still outstripping the rise in average earnings. That’s despite the improvement in UK…

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The Radical Left at the 2014 EP Election – Transform Network

The Radical Left at the 2014 EP Election – Transform Network.

The publication of the final results of the 2014 European Parliament (EP) election of 22-25 May finally permits to draw a first assessment of the performance of the radical Left.[1]

By Paolo Chiocchetti

The election marked an important electoral advance for this party family, which won 12,981,378 votes (+1,885,574) corresponding to 7.96% of valid votes (+1.04%). This was matched by an even stronger increase of radical left Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), from 36 to 53, and of their parliamentary group (European United Left/Nordic Green left – GUE/NGL), from 35 to 52.[2]

On the negative side, the radical left failed to hit some key strategic targets. In terms of seats, the GUE/NGL did not fulfil the overblown expectations of some early opinion polls[3] and did not reach the status of third largest force in the coming European Parliament. In terms of votes, its growth was overshadowed by the much stronger gains of far right Eurosceptic parties.

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