Tuesday 30 June 2015

The Greek crisis: Athens Is Being Blackmailed

My ire is directed at the 1%-ers in this country that have aligned themselves with the most extreme right-wing agenda of the Empire.

Listen for a moment to this arsehole....

This headlines says everything about the propaganda line in this country. We are not allowed to think that small countries should follow their own national interests.

Greece accused of egotism in walking away from debt talks

First the version from the NZ Herald.

Crisis-ready Europe urges Tsipras to step back from brink

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised to return "dignity" to the people and reject budget cuts imposed by creditors. Photo / AP
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised to return "dignity" to the people and reject budget cuts imposed by creditors. Photo / AP

30 July, 2015

European leaders are raising pressure on Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to 're-engage', saying it's up to his government to step back from the brink and stay in the euro.

With Greece under capital controls and banks closed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande offered no concessions beyond saying that they remained open to talks, even after the referendum on the European Union's aid proposal planned for July 5. European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said the "whole planet" would view a "no" vote as Greece turning its back on Europe.


Leaders were emboldened by a measured investor response to a weekend of turmoil as Tsipras' government took emergency steps to avert the collapse of Greece's financial system. While his decision to hold a ballot increased the risk of Greece exiting the euro, evidence of contagion elsewhere was limited, reducing his leverage over credдtors.

"Europe can cope with such crises much, much better today because it has taken precautions," Merkel said in a speech in Berlin on Monday.
The euro erased its losses after earlier dropping to a near one-month low against the dollar, and traded 0.3 per cent higher at $1.1204 as of 7:00 p.m. in Berlin. European equities sank, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down 2.7 per cent, while bond yields jumped in Italy, Spain and Portugal.

A crowd of 12,000 gathered in Syntagma Square to call for a ''no'' vote against the EU proposals. Photo / AP  A crowd of 12,000 gathered in Syntagma Square to call for a ''no'' vote against the EU proposals. Photo / AP

Those countries have all suffered bond panics since 2010 on concern they could slide into a Greek-style crisis. Their leaders moved to assuage concerns about contagion.

Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan took to Twitter to reassure followers about his country's direct exposure.

Greece's problems show "the difference between the serious policies and those policies which aren't very serious," Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said at a news conference.

In Athens, people have taken to the streets. A crowd of 12,000 gathered in the centrally-located Syntagma Square late on Monday to call for a ''no'' vote against the EU proposals, according to police estimates. Banners were displayed in front of the parliament building. One read: "Our lives do not belong to the credдtors."

Greece has also become another thing for old Cold War foes to disagree on. Russia weighed in, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he understood Tsipras' actions. The United States instead is urging the Greeks to do what they must to stay in the 19-member currency bloc.

"We've long made clear that we expect the Greeks to keep their commitments," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday.

European leaders sought to reach out to the Greek people while offering Tsipras's government little leeway after he broke off negotiations over future bailout aid at the last-minute on Friday. Tsipras, who promised to return "dignity" to the people and reject budget cuts imposed by creditors, appealed for "calm" after weekend-long queues at ATMs and gas stations.

Elderly people, who usually get their pensions at the end of the month, wait outside a closed bank in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki. Photo / APElderly people, who usually get their pensions at the end of the month, wait outside a closed bank in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki. Photo / AP

The prime minister's efforts to shield the poorest Greeks from the effects of his decision are already starting to unravel. Twelve hours after issuing the capital controls decree, the government revoked a provision in the law exempting pension payments from the 60-euro (NZ$98) daily limit on bank withdrawals.

The about-face came as industry officials warned that the move to waive limits for pensions would have soaked up much of the system's remaining liquidity and highlights the hurdles Tsipras still has to overcome to reach the July 5 vote.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who leads meetings of his euro-area counterparts, said he regrets that the Greeks walked away.

"But they've chosen their path and we cannot interfere," he told reporters in The Hague.

- Bloomberg

EU's Juncker feels 'betrayed' by Greece situation!!!  

Max Keiser, whom I would trust a hundred times over Bloomberg reporting through the NZ Herald says it how it is - especailly about the EU's Juncker

From the Guardian - 

Germany, France and Italy joined the European commission in insisting that Sunday’s poll is about continued eurozone membership

Greek debt line: Banks close, ATM lines mount & IMF payment looms

The chief of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has made a last-ditch effort to keep Greece from leaving the Euro. He said that the creditors' terms are not - quote - "stupid austerity" and that the Greek people should "not commit suicide out of fear of death" in the upcoming referendum on those terms, on July 5th. Mr. Juncker also repeatedly pointed out that he's not the one to blame for putting the country on the brink of financial ruin and now let's head to Athens, where the people are anxiously following the news from Brussels. RT's Peter Oliver and Harry Fear have more on the ongoing Greek crisis.

And Zero Hedge....

Greece Will Default To IMF Tomorrow, Government Official Says

29 June, 2015

Earlier today, as the exchange between Greece and its creditors got increasingly belligerent, Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas told public broadcaster Eesti Rahvusringhaaling in interview that a possible Greek decision to leave euro area wouldn’t soften stance of other EU countries and that Greece’s debt would still remain outstanding and creditors would expect this money back."

"If Greece leaves, the value of their new national currency would decline very fast, so their solvency would still worsen further. They will either have to cut spending or improve their tax revenues. There are no other options."

So did this latest antagonism change the Greek mind? According to a flash headline by the WSJ released moments ago, not all. In fact, Greece just made it official that it would default to the IMF in just over 24 hours.
Greece won't pay IMF tranche due Tuesday, government official says http://t.co/xnCG6c6baX
WSJ Breaking News (@WSJbreakingnews) June 29, 2015


Greece won’t make a debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund due Tuesday, a senior Greek government official said Monday.
Earlier this month, Greece had notified the IMF it plans to bundle its loan repayments falling due this month into one payment of around 1.6 billion euros ($1.7 billion), which is due Tuesday. 
The IMF has said that Greece will immediately be in arrears if it fails to make the debt repayment.

So, as per game theory, the Greek plan - at least until the social mood turns very ugly - remains just one:

The problem is what happens then...
Greek bank chief: "Few billions left, so we are OK until next Mo or Tue BUT if no deal, there will be no money left” http://t.co/2ZyO2Bcd6l
Pieter Cleppe (@pietercleppe) June 29, 2015

Having told the citizens of Greece that the European leaders will not kick them out of Europe because "the cost of throwing them out is too high, enormous," it appears Greek PM Tspiras has another plan to ensure - no matter what the outcome of the forthcoming referendum - that there is no actual Grexit. As The Telegraph reports, Greece has threatened to seek a court injunction against the EU institutions, saying "we are taking advice and will certainly consider an injunction at the European Court of Justice. The EU treaties make no provision for euro exit and we refuse to accept it. Our membership is not negotiable."

Speaking earlier Tsipras stated:


Greek Supermarkets Begin To Resemble Those Of Venezuela

......As we noted yesterday, in clear rejection of Tsipras' plea for calm, the Greek population stormed (now empty) ATMs, grocery stores and gas stations as they scrambled to obtain, or convert, paper currency into tangible products.

This morning, the NYT picked up on the realization that for Greece ATM runs were last week's story. Now, it's all about the "Supermarket Sweep"... and hoarding. To wit:

Beside the lines at A.T.M.s, people were also lining up at gas stations and in grocery stories. In the small town of Spata, outside Athens, residents had stripped grocery shelves bare by Saturday night. The local Shell station had run out of regular unleaded and had only premium gasoline to sell. “Doom,” the gas attendant responded, when asked to describe the mood.
The frenzy at gas stations across the country prompted Greece’s largest refiner to issue a statement assuring that there would be enough supply...

And this is how Athens is slowly starting to look like Caracas.
On Monday supermarket shelves in #Athens emptying as Greeks stock up for coming days #Greece#Grexit #Greferendum pic.twitter.com/q61PVM17d9
Julia Damianova (@JuDamianova) June 29, 2015

This is what is out from Wikileaks on the French economy.

French Economy In "Dire Straits", "Worse Than Anyone CanImagine", Leaked NSA Cable Reveals

Earlier today Wikileaks released a new batch of NSA intercepts among which one in particular stands out: an intercepted communication which reveals that then French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici believes the French economic situation was far worse, as of mid-2012, than perceived.

The Russian media - Sputnik...

Head of Bundestag Committee on European Union Affairs predicts that Germany could lose billions of euros if Greece goes bankrupt

Pepe Escobar

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras allows the Greek people to decide their own fate via a democratic referendum. That’s enough to send the troika – the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission (EC), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - into a paroxysm of rage. Here, in a nutshell, is everything one needs to know about the EU “dream”.

And two other sources

IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde finally found the needed strength to express her view on Greece’s Referendum. Speaking to BBC, Lagarde said that next Sunday (July 5th) referendum will not be valid as the creditors’ proposal and program end on June 30h.

Greece’s creditors hope that by unleashing chaos, they can bring the country to its knees ahead of Sunday's referendum. Greeks must not give in

TPP fast-track signed by Obama

These are not trade deals. This is corporate America giving itself dictatorial power over the rest of the world

Obama signs bill giving himself fast-track powers for trade deals

U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

29 June, 2015

President Barack Obama signed a bill giving him "fast-track" powers to conduct and conclude trade legislation. The bill was approved by Congress last week after months of contentious debate and several difficult votes.

In addition to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), as the fast-track bill is officially called, the president signed the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) act, extending aid to US workers who might lose their jobs as a consequence of free-trade deals.

The two bills were originally bundled together in both the Senate and the House of Representatives as a way of securing bipartisan support. However, Obama faced an uphill battle within his own party, with the House Democrats rejecting TAA in order to hold TPA hostage.
After weeks of talks with party leadership and several close roll calls in both the House and the Senate, the bills were voted on separately and approved last week. Most Republican lawmakers backed the president, whose insistence on the trade deals strained relations with the Democrats’ traditional power base of labor unions and environmental groups.
TPA clears the way for Obama to finalize the negotiations with 11 other Pacific Rim governments that are aiming to establish a free-trade area to compete with China, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or the TPP. Another trade deal in the works is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe. That law gives Congress the right to accept or reject the final agreements, but not to make any changes to them.
.@POTUS at trade bill signing: 'I thought I’d start off the week with something we should do more often, a truly bipartisan bill signing'
darlene superville (@dsupervilleap) June 29, 2015

Democrats’ opposition to the TAA was finally withdrawn after the TPA was adopted separately, and the workers’ assistance program was included in a trade bill extending preferences to nations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Alaska's record-breaking wildfires

Half a Million Acres Burned in Just One Day — Alaska Shatters Record For Worst June Wildfire Outbreak Ever

29 June, 2015

All throughout the mainstream media last week we heard the same myopic litany — ‘a massive wildfire outbreak ongoing in Alaska is not abnormal.’ Well, today, all pretense that there was anything normal about the 314 wildfires still raging throughout the state has gone up in a cloud of boreal forest, tundra, and thawed permafrost emitted smoke.

As of 6:28 AM Alaska time today, 1,912,000 acres had burned in Alaska since the start of the year. That’s roughly 1,800,000 more acres burned than just before the current wildfire outbreak started on June 18th and 497,000 more acres burned over just the last 24 hour period alone. By comparison, the previous worst ever June fire outbreak for Alaska during 2004 burned less than 1,200,000 acres of the Arctic state.

Wildfires now burning in Alaska
(Alaska Interagency Center map of currently active wildfires now burning in Alaska.)
With 42 hours left in June and with more than 300 fires still active, it’s pretty clear that the current fire season is a historic, unprecedented, record-shattering event. One that will almost certainly break the 2 million acre mark and may show double the over-all previous record burning during June of 2004. An excessive new record that is occurring in the ominous context of the hottest year in the global climate record and a vastly irresponsible dumping of 50 billion tons of heat-trapping, CO2 equivalent (of which 32 billion tons is CO2) gasses into the atmosphere through fossil fuel burning and related industry each and every year.
As Alaska Experiences Worst Ever Burning for June, Northwest Territory Lights Up

As Alaska burned through half a million acres of forest in just one day, a massive heatwave was also setting off extreme wildfires throughout northwest Canada. It was the same heatwave that broke new temperature records all across Washington, and the mountain west. Temperatures in places like Walla, Walla Washington hit 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 Celsius) on Sunday — breaking the previous all time June temperature record for the day by 4 degrees (2.2 C). A pulse of heat rising off the back of a strengthening El Nino in the Pacific, running all the way up the Western Seaboard and Mountains of the US and driving deep into northwestern Canada.

wildfires burning near great slave lake
(Massive plumes of smoke emitting from wildfires burning near Great Slave Lake in Northwest Territory, Canada on Sunday. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 350 miles. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

The added heat riled wildfires burning throughout much of the permafrost zone in Canada, pushing blazes to explosive size and dumping massive plumes of smoke into an atmosphere already heavily laden with Alaska’s brown carbon pulse. In the above LANCE-MODIS image we can see about 30 of these fires burning away near Great Slave Lake. Note that some of the fire fronts in the above image are more than 15 miles long.
Given the satellite assessment from yesterday, it appears that the same excessive heat, dryness and permafrost thaw that has set off record fires for Alaska during June is now also in play for Canada. Initial reports from Canada’ Interagency Fire Center confirm this assessment with 138 new fires erupting in just the past 24 hours alone and more than 2,250,000 acres burned for the country since the start of 2015. As a result of the excessive Arctic heat (associated with both El Nino and overall human warming) and extreme rate of new fire starts, we are at risk of seeing unpecedented wildfire conditions continuing to spread throughout this warming, vulnerable Arctic region.

Hat Tip to Andy in San Diego
Hat Tip to Colorado Bob
Hat Tip to Greg
Hat Tip to DT Lange
(Please help support public, government-funded climate change resiliency efforts like those aided by various interagency fire centers within the US and Canada in addition to the critically valuable satellite tracking provided by the amazing scientific and research teams at NASA.)

Monday 29 June 2015

European News Weekly 28-06-2015

From Kevin Hester - 

It's a great pleasure to be given the opportunity to discuss on European News Weekly the unfolding ecological catastrophe that we are all a part of. I'm looking forward to making it a regular slot. The news is coming in thick and fast in a non linear manner just like the great unraveling itself. 

Drawing the link between the military industrial complex, the nuclear threat both in depleted weapons, emissions and the Nukes themselves is important. It was great to hear Sister Megan Ryan after her recent release from jail for her anti-nuke activities and the mention of the Kiwi contingent from Kia Ora Gaza on the flotilla to Gaza.

My segment is called the Extinction Report in honour of the 150 to 200 species who go extinct every day. Please bare in mind that scientists except that we have only discovered something like 10% of all species on this planet with the majority located in our dying oceans. Big thank you to Jimmy Hagan and Sean Arclight for the opportunity to get this message out.

My segment begins at the 45 min mark but if you have time listen to the whole show.
The Extinction Report with Kevin Hester

Hosts: Shaun Mc Gee and Jimmy Hagan
Guest: Kevin Hester and John Lannon

Kevin is our new co-host who will be bringing us the Extinction Report each week from now on covering topics relating to ecological matters and the current state of the climate.

John Lannon brings us an update on matters of Irish Neutrality and the American use of shannon airport as.a hub for the deployment of arms and munitions to wars in foreign countries

Listen to podcast HERE
At 41 minutes

Pakistan's heat wave

Pakistan heatwave death toll climbs past 1,200
About 65,000 heatstroke patients treated in Karachi hospitals during heatwave, with nearly 2,000 still being treated.

27 June, 2015

The death toll from the severe heatwave in southern Pakistan over the past week has climbed to 1,233, despite cooler temperatures bringing some relief to residents, officials said.

In Karachi, Pakistan's economic centre of around 20 million people, the temperature only reached 34C on Saturday, after touching 45C at the peak of the heatwave last week.

Nazar Mohammad Bozdar, operations director at the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, said on Saturday that 65,000 heatstroke patients were treated at the city's hospitals since June 20.

Bozdar told the AP news agency that 1,923 patients with heat-related ailments are still being treated.

The victims of the heatwave have died of heat stroke, dehydration or other heat-related illnesses - with the elderly and poor the worst-affected groups.

Heat deaths continue despite cooler weather in Pakistan

At the height of the crisis last week, Dr Seemin Jamali, a senior official at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Karachi's largest government hospital, told Al Jazeera that the centre's mortuary was "overflowing".

"They are piling bodies one on top of the other," Jamali said at the time.

The heatwave struck Karachi at a time when the city's Muslim majority was observing the dawn-to-dusk fasting month of Ramadan, further worsening the situation.

Repeated power outrages across the province, and particularly in Karachi, exacerbated the situation. Some Karachi residents told Al Jazeera they were without electricity for more than 12 hours everyday, making it nearly impossible to find respite indoors.