Το γαρ πολύ της… θλίψης ( και απόδοσης ευθυνών)

«He tells it like it is” είπε πάνω από μια φορά η ψηφοφόρος του Τραμπ όταν ρωτήθηκε το βράδυ των εκλογών γιατί τον ψήφισε. Είναι μια συνηθισμένη φράση {«Λέει τα πράγματα με τ’όνομά τους» ) που την ακουσαμε συχνά και προσέχαμε την διαμαρτυρία που αποκάλυπτε, την απογοήτευση από διαψευσμένες ελπίδες των ψηφοφόρων των προηγούμενων εκλογών αλλά δεν ξέραμε να ρωτήσουμε σωστά ποιό έιναι το “it”, ποιά πράγματα έλεγε ο Τραμπ με το όνομα τους και κατάφερε να εκλεγεί. Ίσως και να μην θέλαμε να ακούσουμε ότι το “it” μπορεί να μη ήταν μόνο η αγανάκτηση απέναντι στο κατεστημένο – να μην πιστεύαμε ότι μπορεί να σήμαινε νομιμοποίηση φοβικών ( ξενο-, ομο- ) και σεξιστικών συμπεριφορών και επιστροφή της Αμερικής σε ομφαλοσκόπηση και στρουθοκαμηλισμό( «Γιατί να είναι κακό; Αφού το κάνει και ο πρόεδρος.» «Τί μας νοιάζει αν το σύμπαν διαστέλλεται; Εμείς ζούμε στο Κεντάκυ που δεν διαστέλλεται.» )

Τώρα θα έχουμε τέσσερα χρόνια για να το μάθουμε.
Στο μεταξύ, θα πρέπει να σταματήσει τώρα αμέσως ο θρήνος των Δημοκρατικών: Το γαρ πολύ της… θλίψης ( και απόδοσης ευθυνών) γεννά … ανοησία και χάσιμο χρόνου και ηθικού ( για να παραφράσω το γνωστό απόσπασμα).
Οι Δημοκρατικοί έχουν τώρα ανάγκη αρχηγό με νέο πρόσωπο και με νέα πολιτική πρόταση και ένα άτομο που να μην χρειάζεται τη μισή χώρα να τον βοηθήσει να εξηγήσει τη …ζωή του
Γιατί αν η προεδρία Τραμπ είναι βασανιστική, οι εναλλακτικές θα είναι πιό εύκολες: αν όμως ο Τραμπ χρησιμοποιήσει την έξυπνη μέθοδο των μικρών υποχωρήσεων που άλλαξε και την ημερομηνια «λήξης» του καπιταλισμού, τότε, η μέθοδος των υποχωρήσεων με την ενίσχυση της νοοτροπίας του «μάγκα» θα συνεχίσει να αυτοτροφοδοτείται και για άλλες τετραετίες.
Ο νέος / η νέα αρχηγός μπορεί να είναι κιόλας στις Δημοκρατικές γραμμές και να χρειάζεται επανανάγνωση ή εκπαίδευση – σε πολλά. Μπορεί να προκύψει μετά από δύο προεδρίες.

Θα βρεθεί ; Το μόνο σίγουρο είναι ότι με τη έναρξη της προεδρίας Τραμπ έληξε και η παλαιο-πολιτική αντίληψη συγκεκριμένου είδους αρχηγών, υποψηφίων και προτάσεων.

Η Χίλλαρυ και οι οπαδοί της έγραψαν ιστορία.
Αυτό δεν θα αλλάξει.
Αλλά δεν αρκεί.
Οι Δημοκρατικοί πρέπει να αρχίσουν άμεσα την αναζήτηση του εκπροσώπου τους για το 2020.
Άμεσα.
Χτές.
Χτές το βράδυ.

– Από την Ε.Σπηλιώτη για Τα Υπ΄Οψιν

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Τα Υπ΄Όψιν της 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2016

Στα Υπ΄Όψιν της 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2016:

-Το διπλό μήνυμα του ΔΝΤ προς Ελλάδα και εταίρους.

-Κυβέρνηση: Στον αγώνα για το χρέος, είναι η  σειρά των δανειστών να τηρήσουν όσα είχαν συμφωνηθεί την άνοιξη στο Eurogroup.

-Το πρόβλημα της Τράπεζας Αττικής:  χάος στην οργάνωση και στην εταιρική διακυβέρνηση  και  διασυνδέσεις στελεχών της τράπεζας με στελέχη κυβερνήσεων.

-Διαμάχη  εκκλησίας – υπουργού Παιδείας:

Μάθημα θρησκευτικών ή θρησκειών στα σχολεία: Γιατί η προσαρμογή στην πολυπολιτισμικότητα να είναι ασύμβατη με την ορθοδοξία;

Η ανεξιθρησκεία μας χτυπάει την πόρτα: να ανοίξουμε;

( Ακούστε το ανεξάρτητο link στα ΑΠΟΣΠΑΣΜΑΤΑ )

-ΗΠΑ: Το  πρώτο – και ιστορικό – debate:

-Μεγαλύτερο ατού του Τραμπ:  Οι χαμηλότατες  προσδοκίες  του κοινού.-Μεγαλύτερο ατού της Χίλλαρυ: Η εξαιρετική προετοιμασία.

-Πώς τα προσόντα των υποψηφίων μπορεί  να λειτουργήσουν αρνητικά και τα ελαττώματά τους….θετικά: ποιές πιθανότητες έχει η λογική της Χίλλαρυ-πολιτικού  απέναντι στο «ένστικτο» του Τραμπ-τηλεπερσόνα ;

-«Τί θα κάνατε αν…» Η παρωχημένη ιδέα των debate: πόσα  περισσότερα θα μαθαίναμε από αντιδράσεις  των υποψηφίων σε  «προσομοίωση» κρίσεων – αντι για επανάληψη γνωστών θέσεων.

-Προσφυγικό, Μινι-Σύνοδος της Βιέννης: Η αναγνώριση της  ανεπαρκούς εφαρμογής  των υποσχέσεων της ΕΕ  και καθαρές υποσχέσεις Μέρκελ για απορρόφηση προσφύγων.

-Ο ανυπάκοος Ρέντσι απαιτεί σοβαρότητα και εφαρμογή των υποσχέσεων της Μάλτας ενώ ο ανυποχώρητος Ορμπάν ζητάει την ίδρυση τεράστιας προσφυγούπολης στη Λιβύη.

-Ισπανία: Οι πιθανές πολιτικές εξελίξεις μετά τις εκλογές των Βάσκων και της Γαλικίας που συνεπάγονται υποστήριξη Ραχόϊ – ενώ οι διενέξεις δυναμώνουν στο εσωτερικό των Podemos.

-Βοσνία: Το ΝΑΙ στο φαινομενικά αθώο δημοψήφισμα για την τήρηση εθνικής γιορτής που προοιωνίζεται αποσχίσεις – ενώ η χώρα ευελπιστεί να γίνει μέλος της ΕΕ.

-Βρετανία: Ο Κόρμπιν ζητά τώρα να έχει λόγο στις διαπραγματεύσεις για το Brexit – ενώ το 61% της θριαμβευτικής επενεκλογής του ανησυχεί μερικούς στο κόμμα του: θα αποδώσει η «αριστερή στροφή» ;

-Ελβετία, δημοψήφισμα:  Να παρακολουθούνται οι επικοινωνίες  προκειμένου να αποτρπούν τρομοκρατικές απειλές; Αποτέλεσμα ΝΑΙ.

-Γαλλία: Ξεκινά η μάχη για τις για τις επόμενες προεδρικές με επτά υποψήφιους και δύο φαβορί  της Δεξιάς: Σαρκοζί ή Ζιπέ ποιός θα σταθεί απέναντι στην Μαρίν Λεπέν;

-Συρία, Χαλέπι: Γιατί απέτυχε η εκεχειρία.

-Τουρκία προς ΗΠΑ: Ναι στη συνεργασία εναντίον του ΙΣ – με όρο την μή-συμμετοχή των Κούρδων.

-Αφγανιστάν: Η κυβερνητική συμφωνία με τον διαβόητο αντάρτη που φέρνει νόμιμη πολιτική παρουσία της ομάδας του και σοβαρές…..ανησυχίες σε όλους:  και αν οι συμμαχίες του καθορίσουν το μέλλον της χώρας;

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1KU27prGcwUeDdmM3hpS2tIT1k/view

Ακούτε Τα Υπ΄Όψιν με την Έλενα Σπηλιώτη και τον Γιώργο Ζορμπά για ενημέρωση, συζητήσεις και συνεντεύξεις στα θέματα της επικαιρότητας.

Απόσπασμα από Τα Υπ΄Όψιν της 28 Φεβ 2016

Στα Υπ’Όψιν αυτής της εβδομάδας:
Προσφυγικό:
-Κράτη που δεν ακούνε κανένα: Απομυθοποίηση της δύναμης των διεθνών και υπερεθνικών οργανισμών, από τον Ερυθρό Σταυρό μέχρι την ΕΕ: οι δυνατότητες υπάρχουν, οι προθέσεις όχι.
-Ποιός είναι ο μόνος συμβιβασμός που οι Έλληνες απέδειξαν ότι δεν μπορούν να κάνουν.
-Στο παιχνίδι των ψήφων, η Ελλάδα διαλέγει να είναι «εντάξει» με κόστος την ελάχιστη υποστήριξη.
-Σκοτεινό το άμεσο μέλλον, περίπλοκο και ανεπεξέργαστο το απώτερο: Μόνο αποτρεπτικός – μέχρι στιγμής – ο ρόλος του ΝΑΤΟ ;

https://drive.google.com/…/0B1KU27prGcwUOVd6YkhicjI2b…/view…

Ακούτε Τα Υπ΄Όψιν με την Έλενα Σπηλιώτη και τον Γιώργο Ζορμπά για ενημέρωση, συζητήσεις και συνεντεύξεις στα θέματα της επικαιρότητας.

Chicago deciding Mayor Emanuel’s re-election fate

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hoped to avoid being forced into a runoff as voters headed to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to give the former White House chief of staff a second term.
Emanuel was poised to get the most votes after having raised millions of dollars, plastering the airwaves with ads and winning an endorsement from his former boss, President Barack Obama. However, his four challengers say Emanuel’s tenacious style and handling of some major city issues have left voters wanting a change.
He needs more than 50 percent to win re-election outright in the nonpartisan race. Otherwise, he’ll have to go head-to-head with the runner up, which could be embarrassing for the incumbent, who enjoys not only a huge financial advantage but the backing of business leaders and the endorsement of the city’s major newspapers.
The key will be turnout, which could rival numbers four years ago when Mayor Richard Daley retired after more than two decades and the race was wide open. Already, early voting numbers – pushed by all the candidates – have bested 2011 levels, with a more than 20 percent increase despite a blast of cold weather.
Turnout was light early Tuesday, as wind chills dipped below zero, said Chicago Board of Elections spokesman James Allen. Temperatures are forecast to rise as the day progresses.
Several voters casting ballots in Englewood on the South Side said they were supporting Emanuel because he is positive on issues such as jobs, education and safer neighborhoods.
The Democrat is facing Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia, Alderman Bob Fioretti, businessman Willie Wilson and perennial candidate William Walls.They’ve put Emanuel on the defensive over his handling of a contract dispute that led to Chicago’s first teachers’ strike in 25 years, the closing of nearly 50 neighborhood schools and a spike in violent crime. They have also criticized his sometimes-combative style.
«In Chicago neighborhoods, people are largely turned off,» Garcia said. «They have found him to be distant and uncaring, not really engaging in neighborhoods.»
Several South Side voters disagreed, saying they felt Emanuel was compelled to close underperforming schools and those where enrollment had declined.
Emanuel has argued that he made decisions that helped the city and challenged the status quo. He’s countered claims by taking a neighborhood-focused approach to the campaign trail, including talking up his push to increase the city’s minimum wage, from $8.25 to $13 by 2019.
Also, Tuesday, Chicago voters will decide several hotly contested aldermanic races. Election officials hope turnout will match 2011 levels. Roughly 42 percent of eligible Chicago voters cast ballots that year, up from 33 percent in 2007.
-SOPHIA TAREEN (AP)

The full Greek reforms list

At first glance the Greek reforms list is broadly as expected — lot of commitments to reform the tax base, fight corruption, and improve Greece’s public sector.There are also several clear concessions to its creditors. Athens is pledging not to reverse the state asset sales that are already underway. And it says it will aim to raise minimum wages in a manner that “safeguards competiveness and employment prospects”, and in consultation with its partners.
The government is also promising help for families and businesses who simply cannot pay their debt, while clamping down hard on “strategic defaulters”.

The list

I. Fiscal structural policies

Tax policies – Greece commits to:
Reform VAT policy, administration and enforcement. Robust efforts will be made to improve collection and fight evasion making full use of electronic means and other technological innovations. VAT policy will be rationalised in relation to rates that will be streamlined in a manner that maximises actual revenues without a negative impact on social justice, and with a view to limiting exemptions while eliminating unreasonable discounts. Modify the taxation of collective investment and income tax expenditures which will be integrated in the income tax code. Broaden definition of tax fraud and evasion while disbanding tax immunity. Modernising the income tax code and eliminating from it tax code exemptions and replacing them, when necessary, with social justice enhancing measures. Resolutely enforce and improve legislation on transfer pricing. Work toward creating a new culture of tax compliance to ensure that all sections of society, and especially the well-off, contribute fairly to the financing of public policies. In this context, establish with the assistance of European and international partners, a wealth database that assists the tax authorities in gauging the veracity of previous income tax returns.

Public Finance Management
Greece will: Adopt amendments to the Organic Budget Law and take steps to improve public finance management. Budget implementation will be improved and clarified as will control and reporting responsibilities. Payment procedures will be modernised and accelerated while providing a higher degree of financial and budgetary flexibility and accountability for independent and/or regulatory entities. Devise and implement a strategy on the clearance of arrears, tax refunds and pension claims. Turn the already established (though hitherto dormant) Fiscal Council into a fully operational entity.
Revenue administrationGreece will modernise the tax and custom administrations benefiting from available technical assistance. To this end Greece will:  Enhance the openness, transparency and international reach of the process by which the General Secretary of the General Secretariat of Public Revenues is appointed, monitored in terms of performance, and replaced. Strengthen the independence of the General Secretariat of Public Revenues (GSPR), if necessary through further legislation, from all sorts of interference (political or otherwise) while guaranteeing full accountability and transparency of its operations. To this end, the government and the GSPR will make full use of available technical assistance. Staff adequately, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the GSPR and in particular the high wealth and large debtors units of the revenue administration and ensure that it has strong investigative/prosecution powers, and resources building on SDOE’s capacities, so as to target effectively tax fraud by, and tax arrears of, high income social groups. Consider the merits of integrating SDOE into GSPR. Augment inspections, risk-based audits, and collection capacities while seeking to integrate the functions of revenue and social security collection across the general government.

Public spending –The Greek authorities will:  Review and control spending in every area of government spending (e.g. education, defence, transport, local government, social benefits) Work toward drastically improving the efficiency of central and local government administered departments and units by targeting budgetary processes, management restructuring, and reallocation of poorly deployed resources. Identify cost saving measures through a thorough spending review of every Ministry and rationalisation of non-salary and non-pension expenditures which, at present, account for an astounding 56% of total public expenditure. Implement legislation (currently in draft form at the General Accounts Office – GAO) to review non-wage benefits expenditure across the public sector. Validate benefits through cross checks within the relevant authorities and registries (e.g. Tax Number Registry, AMKA registry) that will help identify non-eligible beneficiaries. Control health expenditure and improve the provision and quality of medical services, while granting universal access. In this context, the government intends to table specific proposals in collaboration with European and international institutions, including the OECD.

Social security reform –Greece is committed to continue modernising the pension system. The authorities will:  Continue to work on administrative measures to unify and streamline pension policies and eliminate loopholes and incentives that give rise to an excessive rate of early retirements throughout the economy and, more specifically, in the banking and public sectors. Consolidate pension funds to achieve savings. Phase out charges on behalf of ‘third parties’ (nuisance charges) in a fiscally neutral manner. Establish a closer link between pension contributions and income, streamline benefits, strengthen incentives to declare paid work, and provide targeted assistance to employees between 50 and 65, including through a Guaranteed Basic Income scheme, so as to eliminate the social and political pressure for early retirement which over-burdens the pension funds.

Public administration & corruption – Greece wants a modern public administration. It will:  Turn the fight against corruption into a national priority and operationalize fully the National Plan Against Corruption. Target fuel and tobacco products’ smuggling, monitor prices of imported goods (to prevent revenue losses during the importation process), and tackle money laundering. The government intends immediately to set itself ambitious revenue targets, in these areas, to be pursued under the coordination of the newly established position of Minister of State. Reduce (a) the number of Ministries (from 16 to 10), (b) the number of ‘special advisors’ in general government; and (c)fringe benefits of ministers, Members of Parliament and top officials (e.g. cars, travel expenses, allowances) Tighten the legislation concerning the funding of political parties and include maximum levels of borrowing from financial and other institutions. Activate immediately the current (though dormant) legislation that regulates the revenues of media (press and electronic), ensuring (through appropriately designed auctions) that they pay the state market prices for frequencies used, and prohibits the continued operation of permanently loss-making media outlets (without a transparent process of recapitalisation) Establish a transparent, electronic, real time institutional framework for public tenders/procurement – re-establishing DIAVGEIA (a side-lined online public registry of activities relating to public procurement) Reform the public sector wage grid with a view to decompressing the wage distribution through productivity gains and appropriate recruitment policies without reducing the current wage floors but safeguarding that the public sector’s wage bill will not increase  Rationalise non-wage benefits, to reduce overall expenditure, without imperilling the functioning of the public sector and in accordance with EU good practices  Promote measures to: improve recruitment mechanisms, encourage merit-based managerial appointments, base staff appraisals on genuine evaluation, and establish fair processes for maximising mobility of human and other resources within the public sector

II. Financial stability

Instalment Schemes.Greece commits to:Improve swiftly, in agreement with the institutions, the legislation for repayments of tax and social security arrears  Calibrate instalment schemes in a manner that helps discriminate efficiently between: (a) strategic default/non-payment and (b) inability to pay; targeting case (a) individuals/firms by means of civil and criminal procedures (especially amongst high income groups) while offering case (b) individuals/firms repayment terms in a manner that enables potentially solvent enterprises to survive, averts free-riding, annuls moral hazard, and reinforces social responsibility as well as a proper re-payment culture. De-criminalise lower income debtors with small liabilities Step up enforcement methods and procedures, including the legal framework for collecting unpaid taxes and effectively implement collection toolsBanking and Non-Performing loans.Greece is committed to:  Banks that are run on sound commercial/banking principles  Utilise fully the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund and ensure, in collaboration with the SSM, the ECB and the European Commission, that it plays well its key role of securing the banking sector’s stability and its lending on commercial basis while complying with EU competition rules. Dealing with non-performing loans in a manner that considers fully the banks’ capitalisation (taking into account the adopted Code of Conduct for Banks), the functioning of the judiciary system, the state of the real estate market, social justice issues, and any adverse impact on the government’s fiscal position. Collaborating with the banks’ management and the institutions to avoid, in the forthcoming period, auctions of the main residence of households below a certain income threshold, while punishing strategic defaulters, with a view to: (a) maintaining society’s support for the government’s broad reform program, (b)preventing a further fall in real estate asset prices (that would have an adverse effect on the banks’ own portfolio), (c)minimising the fiscal impact of greater homelessness, and (d)promoting a strong payment culture. Measures will be taken to support the most vulnerable households who are unable to service their loans  Align the out-of-court workout law with the instalment schemes after their amendment, to limit risks to public finances and the payment culture, while facilitating private debt restructuring. Modernise bankruptcy law and address the backlog of cases

III. Policies to promote growth

Privatisation and public asset management:To attract investment in key sectors and utilise the state’s assets efficiently, the Greek authorities will:  Commit not to roll back privatisations that have been completed. Where the tender process has been launched the government will respect the process, according to the law. Safeguard the provision of basic public goods and services by privatised firms/industries in line with national policy goals and in compliance with EU legislation. Review privatisations that have not yet been launched, with a view to improving the terms so as to maximise the state’s long term benefits, generate revenues, enhance competition in the local economies, promote national economic recovery, and stimulate long term growth prospects. Adopt, henceforth, an approach whereby each new case will be examined separately and on its merits, with an emphasis on long leases, joint ventures (private-public collaboration) and contracts that maximise not only government revenues but also prospective levels of private investment. Unify (HRDAF) with various public asset management agencies (which are currently scattered across the public sector) with a view to developing state assets and enhancing their value through microeconomic and property rights’ reforms.Labor market reformsGreece commits to: Achieve EU best practice across the range of labour market legislation through a process of consultation with the social partners while benefitting from the expertise and existing input of the ILO, the OECD and the available technical assistance. Expand and develop the existing scheme that provides temporary employment for the unemployed, in agreement with partners and when fiscal space permits and improve the active labour market policy programmes with the aim to updating the skills of the long term unemployed. Phasing in a new ‘smart’ approach to collective wage bargaining that balances the needs for flexibility with fairness. This includes the ambition to streamline and over time raise minimum wages in a manner that safeguards competiveness and employment prospects. The scope and timing of changes to the minimum wage will be made in consultation with social partners and the European and international institutions, including the ILO, and take full account of advice from a new independent body on whether changes in wages are in line with productivity developments and competitiveness.Product market reforms and a better business environmentAs part of a new reform agenda, Greece remains committed to: Removing barriers to competition based on input from the OECD. Strengthen the Hellenic Competition Commission. Introduce actions to reduce the burdens of administrative burden of bureaucracy in line with the OECD’s input, including legislation that bans public sector units from requesting (from citizens and business) documents certifying information that the state already possesses (within the same or some other unit). Better land use management, including policies related to spatial planning, land use, and the finalisation of a proper Land Registry  Pursue efforts to lift disproportionate and unjustified restrictions in regulated professions as part of the overall strategy to tackle vested interests. Align gas and electricity market regulation with EU good practices and legislation Reform of the judicial system – The Greek government will:  Improve the organisation of courts through greater specialisation and, in this context, adopt a new Code of Civil Procedure. Promote the digitisation of legal codes and the electronic submission system, and governance, of the judicial system.Statistics – The Greek government reaffirms its readiness to:  Honour fully the Commitment on Confidence in Statistics, and in particular the institutional independence of ELSTAT, ensuring that ELSTAT has the necessary resources to implement its work programme. Guarantee the transparency and propriety of the process of appointment of the ELSTAT President in September 2015, in cooperation with EUROSTAT.

IV. Humanitarian Crisis –

The Greek government affirms its plan to: Address needs arising from the recent rise in absolute poverty (inadequate access to nourishment, shelter, health services and basic energy provision) by means of highly targeted non-pecuniary measures (e.g. food stamps). Do so in a manner that is helpful to the reforming of public administration and the fight against bureaucracy/corruption (e.g. the issuance of a Citizen Smart Card that can be used as an ID card, in the Health System, as well as for gaining access to the food stamp program etc.). Evaluate the pilot Minimum Guaranteed Income scheme with a view to extending it nationwide. Ensure that its fight against the humanitarian crisis has no negative fiscal effect.

Sources: Reuters, The Guardian

Does journalism still require impartiality?

«… academics such as New York University’s Jay Rosen have criticized impartial journalism, saying it can lead to what he dubs “the view from nowhere”. He describes this as “a bid for trust that advertises the viewlessness of the news producer. Frequently it places the journalist between polarized extremes, and calls that neither-nor position impartial.”

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/05/does-journalism-still-require-impartiality

Saddest Support Group: Parents Who Left Infants to Die in Hot Cars

By RHEANA MURRAY / ABC News
Jun 24, 2014
It’s been seven years since Lyn Balfour realized she left her 9-month old son in the car while she was at work, mistakenly thinking her precious baby boy with was the babysitter. The boy overheated in the backseat of the sweltering car and died.
Balfour, an analyst for the U.S. military, realized her mistake too late. Now she’s devoted her life to helping other parents who have lost a child by accidentally leaving a baby in the car, and fighting to change auto laws for better safety features.
«I’m honest with them,» Balfour, 42, told ABC News. «It’s one thing when you lose a child. It’s completely different when you lose a child and it’s your fault. The pain does not go away. It’s something you learn to live with.»
Every summer, stories like Balfour’s emerge. This week a Georgia dad was charged with felony murder after leaving his 22-month old son in a mini-SUV on a day when the temperature reached 92 degrees by noon. Every year in the U.S., an average of 38 children die after being left in a hot car, according to the nonprofit Kids and Cars.
Balfour, from Earlysville, Va., works with the organization to reach out to parents who have accidentally left their children in cars. Some face murder charges and criminal trials, while others got lucky and realized their error before the unthinkable happened. Since 2007, when her son Bryce died, Balfour has talked to about 15 to 20 parents who have gone through similar experiences, she said.
«I always tell them, you’re not a bad parent,» Balfour said. «No one is going to judge you more than you do yourself.  I know that I did not leave my son in the car intentionally when I left that day. People tell me I need to forgive myself — I don’t feel like I have anything to forgive. I made a mistake and it cost me my son’s life. But I certainly didn’t leave him in the car to go bowling or to get my nails done.»
Janette Fennell, the founder of Kids and Cars, says parents like Balfour are uniquely suited to help other parents who have lost a child to hyperthermia after leaving him or her in the car.
«No one understands what you’re going through except someone who has gone through this,» Fennell told ABC News. «They don’t understand how it could happen. We try to give them as much info as possible about how their brains work, some of the science behind it. At least a portion of why this is happening is because the kids are out of sight and out of mind. They’re in a rear-facing car seat. Most of them are under one. Parents that first year are so sleep-deprived. Add all these things together and it really is a recipe for disaster.»
She and Balfour are fighting to get auto companies to consider a feature to help exhausted parents to remember to check the back seat, perhaps motion or weight sensors, she said.
«The auto industry already knows we’re human,» Fennell said. «If you don’t put your seatbelt on, you get a beep. If your key is in the ignition, you get a light.  Today you can’t even buy a car that doesn’t turn your headlights off or warns you that they’re still on. It just begs the question, who decided that it’s more important to not have a dead car battery than a dead baby?»
Kids and Cars sometimes sends care packages to parents whose children have died after being left in a hot car. They contain letters from parents who have suffered the same experience, legal information, statistics and phone numbers for support.
Balfour takes it a step further, sometimes visiting parents at court if they’re facing a criminal trial. She urges those parents to get involved with Kids and Cars.
«You can heal better and feel like there is a sense of purpose in the loss of your child if you get involved and help educate other parents,» Balfour said.
It’s turned into a sort of support group, which is ideal when typical support groups for grieving parents won’t work.»How do you walk into one of those groups and say, I want you to feel sorry for me? My son didn’t die in a car accident, he didn’t die of cancer, he died because I accidentally left him in a car,» Balfour said.
Since she started speaking up about Bryce’s death, parents she barely knows have been open about revealing their secrets — quick to share the time they accidentally drove away with their son in a carrier on the roof of their car, or the time a busy mom left her kid in the car while she was at work, but kept having a nagging suspicion that something was wrong.
They are secrets the parents hadn’t told anyone before Balfour.
«Has anyone ever walked up to you and said, ‘Oh my God, I just left my kid in the car for an hour and a half’? No! Because they think you’re going to call child protective services. There’s this fear,» Balfour said.
More parents than most people realize have experienced the fear of leaving their children alone in a hot car, Balfour said. Instead of stigmatizing parents who have made a fatal mistake, the go
al should be to educate other parents on how to keep their kids safe.
«The worst thing people can do is think it can’t happen to them,» Fennell said.

What wealth gap? Danish welfare narrows disparity

By JAN M. OLSEN and MALIN RISING (AP)
This is what it’s like to live in Denmark, a nation with a narrower wealth gap than almost anywhere else: You’ve been jobless for more than a year. You have no university degree, no advanced skills. You have to pay a mortgage. And your husband is nearing retirement. You aren’t worried.
If you’re 51-year-old Lotte Geleff, who lost her job as an office clerk in January 2013, you know you’ll receive an unemployment benefit of 10,500 kroner ($1,902) a month after taxes for up to two years. You’re part of a national system of free health care and education for everyone, job training, subsidized child care, a generous pension system and fuel subsidies and rent allowances for the elderly.
And high taxes.
Denmark’s sturdy social safety net helps explain why its wealth gap — the disparity between the richest citizens and everyone else — is second-smallest among the world’s 34 most developed economies, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, surpassed only by the much smaller economy of Slovenia.
Behind its slender wealth gap are factors ranging from the highest tax burden in the European Union to a system that helps laid-off workers find new jobs and re-training.
They are factors that depend on a level of government involvement — financial and otherwise — that would be politically unacceptable in some areas of the world.
Cause and effect would be impossible to prove, but Danes appear more content than people in most other industrialized nations. Eighty-nine percent of Danes reported having more positive experiences in an average day than negative ones, according to the OECD — the highest figure among the organization’s 34 countries.
«We don’t have steaks on the table every night, but we’re OK,» says Geleff, who has a house near the city of Roskilde.
While the gap between the wealthy and everyone else is widening in much of the industrialized world, a large chunk of Danes remain firmly middle class.  Forty-two percent of the working population of 4.6 million have annual disposable incomes between 200,000 and 400,000 kroner ($36,700-$73,300). Just 2.6 percent earn more than 500,000 kroner a year ($91,383).
According to the OECD, the top 20 percent of Danes earn on average four times as much as the bottom 20 percent. In the United States, by contrast, the top 20 percent earn about eight times as much as the bottom 20 percent.
The idea of a generous government-provided cushion for ordinary people is deeply rooted in a nation with few outward signs of a pampered elite.
Members of the royal family often bike to drop off their children at a public daycare center. Last winter, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt was seen shoveling snow outside her home in Copenhagen.
With a solid safety net in place, the government has persuaded unions to accept a flexible labor market. Under a model known as «Flexicurity,» companies can quickly lay off staffers during downturns. Laid-off workers, in turn, receive training and guidance in pursuing new careers.
Such training is part of Denmark’s approach to education, which is free for everyone of all ages in this country of 5.6 million. Students of any age over 18 who live on their own can receive a stipend of 5,839 kroner ($1,028) a month. Those living with their parents can receive about half that.
So widespread is education that one byproduct has been something unfamiliar elsewhere: A shortage of unskilled labor. Denmark has no mandated minimum wage. But unions and employers’ organizations have agreed on a minimum of 111 kroner ($20.30) an hour.
Torben Andersen, an economics professor at Aarhus University, sees political unity as a factor in Denmark’s narrow wealth gap.
«There are not the same strong conflicts and very strong parties and views like you will see, for instance, in U.S. politics,» he said.
Some issues do tend to fan tensions in Denmark. One is immigration. With net immigration of about 2.25 people per 1,000 citizens, Denmark welcomes nearly as many as the United States. Many come from war-torn Middle East countries with few qualifications. Some of them struggle to find jobs, leaving some Danes to complain about immigrants benefiting from the welfare system without contributing to it.
Such anxieties have lent support to the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party. Its influence has led to a tightening of immigration laws. It’s become harder for foreigners to obtain residence permits and for refugees in Denmark to bring relatives into the country.
Despite the heavy tax burden, public support for the social security system remains high. In a Gallup poll published this month, 38 percent of people who were asked whether they were happy to pay their taxes said they «fully» agreed.  Fifty percent «partly» agreed. A poll last year showed that 66 percent opposed cuts to the welfare system.
Kay Xander Mellish, a Wisconsin native who’s lived in Denmark for 13 years, says one reason Denmark’s system enjoys public support is that pretty much everyone, regardless of income, shares in its benefits.
«If you are a high earner in the U.S., you can pay a lot for social services that you will never use, and I can see why that upsets people,» says Mellish, who’s enjoyed a year’s paid maternity leave and subsidized daycare. «At least when I pay for social services, I can see what I get back.»
In Copenhagen, teacher Per Broenholt ticked off the government benefits he values. A father of two, he has six weeks’ vacation a year, which he uses to visit a summer home or foreign destinations such as Thailand or Turkey. He cycles to work and uses the family car mainly to drive to the grocery store on weekends.Still, he acknowledges, taxes are a burden.  Income tax rates in Denmark range from 30 percent to 51.5 percent. There’s little incentive to work toward a promotion, Broenholt says, because «the taxman would take half» the additional money earned. And gas is expensive, at around 12 kroner ($2.18) for a liter (0.3 gallon), a result of environmental taxes.
Advocates of low taxes, in the United States and elsewhere, have long argued that high taxes act as a drag on economies, stifling investment, hiring and spending. As with many countries with high taxes, Denmark’s long-term growth has trailed the pace of expansion in the United States and some other major economies.
Among Danes, though, distaste for ostentatious wealth tends to outweigh dissatisfaction with taxes.
«Elite is a dirty word here,» Mellish said.  «The whole idea of ambition is embarrassing in Denmark. It’s like being gay in the 1960’s: Everybody knows it exists, but no one talks about it.»
Wealthy Danes make up a lower proportion than in many other countries. About 0.3 percent of Danes earn more than $370,000 a year. In the United States, a full 1 percent had income over $394,000 in 2012, according to Internal Revenue Service data.
As the cost of their social welfare systems has grown, Denmark and other Nordic nations have embraced work incentives — a trend that’s led to a slight widening in income disparities.  Sweden has gradually cut income taxes for the employed by up to $330 a month. Denmark has pushed to lower the maximum period for full unemployment benefits from four years to two.
Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt said she’s committed to helping businesses stay competitive.»We need to continue to take decisions to ensure that our model is sustainable and preserves prosperity,» she said in an email to The Associated Press.In the end, there’s an economic trade-off, says Danske Bank’s chief economist, Steen Bocian.»You could probably have higher growth in Denmark, allowing for more income inequality,» he said. «But it’s a political question whether you would pursue that.»

Τα Υπ’ ‘Οψιν της 22 ΙΟυνίου 2014

Στα Υπ΄’Οψιν της 22 Ιουνίου 2014, μεταξύ άλλων, συζητάμε:

-Ιράκ: Οι αντάρτες προελαύνουν πολεμώντας εαυτούς και αλλήλους ενώ ο Αλ-Σάντρ καραδοκεί.

-Αίγυπτος: Ξαφνικά το Κάϊρο απαραίτητο στο χτίσιμο του σουνιτικού τείχους: συμπαράσταση και παρατηρήσεις από ΗΠΑ και Σ.Αραβία

-Τουρκία: Η τρίτη προεδρική υποψηφιότητα που ευνοεί Γκιούλ αντί Ερντογάν: το κοινοβούλιο πολεμά τον αυταρχισμό

-Αφγανιστάν: Διαλέγοντας τον διαιτητή των αποτελεσμάτων: το δημοκρατικό πείραμα αγωνίζεται να πετύχει.

-ΗΠΑ, ρεπουμπλικανοί: Τα καλά αποτελέσματα των ενδιάμεσων εκλογών κίνδυνος για τις προεδρικές

-Ελλάδα: Τα προαπαιτούμενα της τρόϊκα και οι νέες ασταθείς ισορροπίες των κομμάτων

-Νάϊτζελ Φάρατζ: Το «φλουρί κωνσταντινάτο» της Λε Πέν βοηθά τον Φάρατζ να κάνει ομάδα στο ευρωκοινοβούλιο.

-Ουκρανία: Η ανακωχή δεν πείθει, τα ρωσικά γυμνάσια ίσως.

Και στο Μαγκαζίνο των Υπ΄Όψιν:

-Γιατί το Μουντιάλ βλάπτει σοβαρά την υγεία, τα ήθη και το …πορτοφόλι.

-Μεσανατολικές νοοτροπίες και ιδιοτροπίες: όχι στα καθίσματα μωρών στο αυτοκίνητο, όχι σε παραλίες που δεν εγκρίνει ο Βασιλιάς Δαυϊδ.

-Έξυπνη εμπόρισσα  ανατρέφει με…αγάπη 100.000 κατσαρίδες.

-Η νέα γραμματική για να αναφερόμαστε σε όποιον δεν είναι  απαραίτητα «αυτός» ή «αυτή»

-Τώρα οι σολωμοί μεταναστεύουν με …φορτηγό: η απίστευτη ξηρασία της Καλιφόρνιας και η ανθρώπινη βοήθεια στον κύκλο ζωής των ψαριών.

-Το κατσίκι , νέο οικόσιτο και πιο..συμφερτικό: εμπρός στην αλλαγή κανονισμών και νοοτροπίας.

-Πικάσσο: Οι πίνακες που ζωγραφίστηκαν ο ένα επάνω στον άλλον.

-Η ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορία του ακριβώτερου γραμματόσημου στον κόσμο: σελίδες φόνου, τρέλλας και … βασιλικής τσιγκουνιάς!

 

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Αυτή την εβδομάδα στο

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1KU27prGcwUUFpLQ3pHUDkwS28/edit

 

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Pope excommunicates Italian mafia, calling them ‘the adoration of evil’

The pope’s harsh words for Italy’s mob is the strongest condemnation of the Mafia in the past 30 years
June 21, 2014 
Pope Francis had harsh words for the Italian Mafia on June 21, describing one crime syndicate as «the adoration of evil» and saying all mafiosi «are excommunicated» from the church.
Francis’ condemnation was the strongest attack on the mob since Pope John Paul criticized the Sicilian Mafia in 1993.
Francis made the remarks after visiting a stronghold of the ‘Ndrangheta, one of Italy’s most dangerous crime groups. There, he comforted the jailed father of a 3-year-old boy killed in a mob ambush and condemned mob violence against children.
Francis flew by helicopter to the town of Cassano All’ Jonio in the southern Calabria region, home base of the ‘Ndrangheta, which investigators say has spread around the world.
The pope made the trip in part to pay tribute to Nicola «Coco» Campolongo, who was killed in the town along with his grandfather in an organized crime attack last January.
The charred body of the boy, who had been entrusted to his grandfather Giuseppe Iannicelli after his parents were jailed on drugs charges, was found along with those of Iannicelli and a Moroccan woman in a burnt-out car in the town.
Francis, who last January strongly denounced the murder and asked the killers to repent, comforted the boy’s father and other relatives during a meeting a Vatican spokesman described as highly emotional.
«Never again violence against children. May a child never again have to suffer like this. I pray for him continuously. Do not despair,» the spokesman quoted the pope as saying.
The boy’s parents and grandfather were part of a drug-trafficking clan of the ‘Ndrangheta. Social workers have been criticized for entrusting the boy to his maternal grandfather, a convicted drug-runner who was out on bail.
The crime group has been much harder for investigators to combat than the Sicilian Mafia because its structure is more lateral than hierarchical and its tightly-knit crime families are less flashy than the Sicilian mob.
A 2013 study by Demoskopia, an economic and social research institute, estimated the ‘Ndrangheta’s annual turnover at around $72 billion in 30 countries, equivalent to about 3.5 percent of Italy’s total official economic output.
Around half of its revenues came through drug trafficking, the study found.
In the prison, which holds a number of ‘Ndrangheta criminals, the pope told the inmates they should not waste their time behind bars but seek forgiveness from God for their crimes and emerge rehabilitated.
Francis, who has condemned organized crime several times since his election in March 2013, later addressed priests in the cathedral of Cassano all’ Jonio, a run-down town of mostly drab concrete houses in the mountains near the Adriatic.
The bishop of Cassano, Nunzio Galantino, is seen as one of the most progressive in Italy’s poorer, underdeveloped south and has taken strong stands against organized crime.But there have been instances of collusion by some priests in other areas of Calabria where the ‘Ndrangheta is strongest.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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