Greek Police, Military On High Alert Due To ‘Austerity’ Talks, Referendum

Riot police stand guard during a bailout protest in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Police leave has been cancelled and the army put on standby as the Greek authorities take steps to preserve order, writes The Times of London.

Security was increased at key locations including foreign embassies, utilities, and warehouses stocking goods that are in danger of running out, notably pharmaceuticals, Yiannis Panousis, the public order minister, said.

The country is approaching one of the most important votes in its modern history on Sunday — one that could redefine its place in Europe — yet many people acknowledge they barely have a clue as to what, exactly, they are voting on.

Erika Papamichalopoulou, 27, a resident of Athens, said “No one is saying what will happen to us if we say yes, or what will happen to us if we say no,” writes The New York Times.

Greece missed a debt payment to the International Monetary Fund, and without new financial aid it is likely to default on other debts this month. Most European nations are in no rush to help, and in fact seem content to watch the Greeks dangle for a bit.  Greek banks have shut down, according to The New York Times.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who called for the referendum, has vacillated from bitter confrontation with the country’s creditors and conciliatory outreach. Even as he signaled on Wednesday that he would accept many of the demands made by the creditors, he pressed ahead with the referendum urging Greeks to reject the proposal containing those demands.

The proposal that Greeks are voting on is no longer on the table, writes The New York Times, and was made around the framework of a bailout package that expired at midnight on Tuesday.

Mr. Tsipras’s unexpected decision to call the referendum was the equivalent of a frustrated chess player trying to break open a stalemated match with a daring last-minute move that his opponent considered to be against the rules.

The Greeks and their creditors — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the other 18 eurozone countries — had spent months making moves and countermoves in largely fruitless negotiations over a deal that would unlock frozen funds for Greece in exchange for pension cuts, fiscal reforms and other measures demanded by creditors.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Tsipras then appeared on television early Saturday morning and announced that he would hold a national referendum five days after the Tuesday deadline for the debt payment to the I.M.F. and the extension of its existing bailout.

He said creditors were demanding more of the same austerity policies he and his party blame for wrecking the Greek economy since 2010. He said that his government had no mandate to approve such a deal but that he would let voters decide.

Analysts agree that a “yes” vote would mean the end for Mr. Tsipras. His government would likely step down next week, and the Greek president – a largely ceremonial figure, though not in moments of collapsing government – would need to assemble a “unity” government from different parties.

According to The Times of London, there is currently a movement towards a “yes” vote in Greece.

(Updated photo)

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/europe/article4484196.ece

Could There Be Debt-Free College Under President Hillary Clinton?

According to MarketWatch, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager alluded to the idea of students going debt-free if Hillary becomes U.S. President.

Making college more affordable is part of Clinton’s plan to boost quality of life for ordinary Americans, Robby Mook, “Hillary for America” campaign manager, told CNBC.

He was responding to a question about which age demographic will be the toughest for Clinton to lure.

“What voters are looking for in this election is someone who is going to be a champion for everyday people,” Mook said Wednesday. “For young people, that’s debt-free college, that is finding that job after you graduate.”

Though the Clinton campaign has yet to officially endorse a plan that would let students graduate from school without loans, the fact that the words “debt-free college” came out of Mook’s mouth is seen as a victory for progressives. Over the past few months, a collective of liberals has been working to push the idea into mainstream Democratic circles, according to Bloomberg.

Mook’s comments come just weeks after a group of congressional Democrats introduced a resolution calling for a way for students to attend public colleges and universities debt-free.

That proposal could be made possible through a combination of increasing federal aid to states and students as well as reducing the cost of college, according to a white paper co-authored by left-leaning think tank Demos and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.  That group has spearheaded the debt-free college campaign, writes MarketWatch.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/debt-free-college-under-president-hillary-clinton-2015-05-08

Greek Prime Minister To Meet Angela Merkel To Work On Debt

The European Central Bank (ECB) head Mario Draghi has said the ECB is ready to restore support for Greece’s banks if talks between the Greek government and its creditors get back on track.

Mr. Draghi told EU parliamentarians that the parties should “restore the policy dialogue” so talks could yield “a credible prospect” for a deal on more emergency aid.

“Greece and its creditors in the 19-country eurozone have sparred over the conditions Greece needs to fulfil to get more help to avoid defaulting on its debts,” states breakingnews.com.

Once a deal is in sight, the ECB could restore the ability for Greek banks to tap ECB credit using Greek government bonds as collateral, according to Draghi.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras will meet with with German chancellor Angela Merkel to try to break the deadlock.

Mr. Draghi rejected a comment from one politician that the ECB was “blackmailing” Greece into yielding to creditor conditions.

He noted that the ECB held €104bn of credit exposure to Greece.  “What kind of blackmail is this?” he asked, before calling the statement “a bit rich.”

Is There A College Tuition Crisis?

According to Ring of Fire, one of the biggest problems facing college students and recent graduates in the U.S. is the staggering amount of student loan debt that they have to carry to be able to attend school.

The threat of these debts are keeping millions of high school graduates out of college, but a new proposal from President Obama is aimed at changing this cycle.

America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio, and progressive radio and TV host David Pakman talk about this.


Ring of Fire

More:

http://college.usatoday.com/2014/10/09/viewpoint-6-real-fixes-for-the-student-loan-debt-crisis/

http://www.flatheadnewsgroup.com/hungryhorsenews/obama-talks-about-middle-class-economics/article_a7d6be9a-ae57-11e4-9c9f-5396a21fb95b.html

British Cabinet Minister George Osborne Warns Of Greek Debt Crisis Fallout

What is the “chancellor of the exchequer” in England?

Wikipedia: “The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the (wordy) title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters, equivalent to the role of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the Treasury in other nations.”

Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne has warned that the risks of a “very bad outcome” from the Greek debt crisis have risen.

Speaking in Istanbul, Obsborne said that there was a growing danger that the deadlock over Greece’s bailout program would spiral out of control.

Osborne raised the pressure on Athens, and its creditors, by declaring:

“It’s clear that the risks to the world economy, the risk to the British economy of this standoff between the eurozone and Greece, is growing each day.

Osborne:

“The risks of a miscalculation or a misstep leading to a very bad outcome are growing as well.”

Osborne said the UK had been arguing for both sides in the Greek debt crisis to find some common ground, during the G20 meeting of finance ministers in Turkey.

Louisiana Will Save Millions By Refinancing State Debt

Louisiana has refinanced $649 million in highway project borrowing to take advantage of lower interest rates.

According to the AP, treasurer John Kennedy’s office said recently that the refinancing, done this week, will save the state $109 million over 26 years in lessened interest payments on the debt.

Under state law, the savings can only be used to pay for a list of transportation projects that were financed by the bonds, according to the treasurer’s office.

Couple Wins $1M Suit Against Major Bank Over Loan Collection Call Harassment

According to Yahoo, Bank of America is being forced to hand over more than $1 million to a Florida couple after the bank flooded them with hundreds of loan collection calls for years.

In a complaint filed in July, attorneys for Nelson and Joyce Coniglio said that the couple had been on the receiving end of “patterns of outrageous, abusive and harassing conduct” by a subsidiary of Bank of America that included 700 calls in four years, after the bank said the couple fell behind on mortgage loan payments in 2009.

The Coniglios also received “threatening collection letters asserting false and misleading information,” the complaint said.

The couple sent multiple letters from legal representation asking the bank to stop, but the calls — sometimes up to five a day — continued.

In the end, a Florida judge awarded the couple $1,051,000 — approximately $1,500 for every call — in addition to court costs and attorney fees.

“This judgment against Bank of America is an epic win for consumers across the country,” Billy Howard, an attorney for the Coniglios told ABC News. “It’s time to fight back against these ‘robo-bullies’.”

The Coniglios’ case was not the first time Bank of America has faced accusations of intense harassment by phone.

In September 2013, the bank paid a record $32 million to settle a class action lawsuit with a reported 7.7 million customers who claimed they were harassed by such “robocalls.” In that case, Bank of America said it denied the allegations but settled to avoid further legal costs.

“We would be out at dinner and they would ring my mother’s cellphone,” son Jason Coniglio told the Tampa Bay Times, “then they would call my dad’s cellphone and then when we got back to the house, there would be another message on the answering machine.”

At their wits end, the couple sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act.

“‘Once a debt collector is told to stop calling, whether it be in writing or verbally, it doesn’t make a difference,” said David Mitchell, one of the family’s attorneys.

Bank of America, which lost the case because it missed the deadline to oppose the lawsuit, maintains that the calls were to help the Coniglios avoid foreclosure

“Every call after that is considered a willful violation of the (law.)”

Bank of America ended up missing a deadline to oppose the lawsuit, and the Coniglios won by default in October.

Last week the judge dismissed the bank’s attempt to set aside the default judgment and awarded the couple $1,051,000 – approximately $1,500 for every call – in addition to court costs and attorney fees.

More:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2870944/Couple-wins-1-million-lawsuit-against-Bank-America-harassment-receiving-700-robocalls-4-years.html#ixzz3LhfpWYi3