In Europe, when it gets serious, you have to lie… at least if you are an unelected bureaucrat like Jean-Claude Juncker. In Russia, however, when it gets serious, attention immediately turns to the children.
“On the one hand, this is all part of a package of measures to prepare the elites for some ‘big war’ even if it is rather conditional, on the other hand – this is another blow to the unity of President Putin with his own elite”
— Political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky
Which is why we read a report in Russian website Znak published Tuesday, according to which Russian state officials and government workers were told to bring back their children studying abroad immediately, even if means cutting their education short and not waiting until the end of the school year, and re-enroll them in Russian schools, with some concern.
The article adds that if the parents of these same officials also live abroad “for some reason”, and have not lost their Russian citizenship, should also be returned to the motherland. Znak cited five administration officials as the source of the report.
“People note the hypocrisy of having a centralized state and cultivating patriotism and anti-Western sentiment, while children of government workers study abroad. You can not serve two gods, one must choose.”
The “recommendation” applies to all: from the administration staff, to regional administratiors, to lawmakers of all levels. Employees of public corporations are also subject to the ordinance. One of the sources said that anyone who fails to act, will find such non-compliance to be a “complicating factor in the furtherance of their public sector career.” He added that he was aware of several such cases in recent months. Read the rest of this entry »
The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava was consecrated in 1855 as an Episcopal church called Trinity Chapel. It has been Serbian Orthodox since the 1940s.
“To see it burning like that is such a shock. It’s just so sad. I can’t think of the words to express how I’m feeling.”
“For this to happen on such a holy day, I don’t know what to say,” said Alex Velic, a 31-year-old churchgoer, as enormous fireballs erupted from the shattered windows of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava on West 25th Street.
“To see it burning like that is such a shock. It’s just so sad,” he said. “I can’t think of the words to express how I’m feeling.”
A force of 170 firefighters responded to the fire, which started shortly before 7 p.m., FDNY officials said. Church officials and the FDNY both said there were no reports of major injuries, though three firefighters and a church caretaker had minor smoke inhalation.
“Nobody is hurt, everyone is safe,” explained Father Djokan Majstorovic, dean of the cathedral.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said there had been 700 people inside the church earlier in the day for the Orthodox Easter service. He added that the cause of the fire at the historic house of worship is still under investigation.
“It’s a very sad day today,” Nigro said. “They had their Mass at 10 a.m. and then a luncheon. The good news is that there was no one inside when the fire started and there are no injuries. One man is being checked out for smoke inhalation.” Read the rest of this entry »
Source: Weasel Zippers
Greece’s migration minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, during a news conference in Athens on Sunday. Greek authorities say the man posing as Ahmad AlMohammad took a ferry to the port of Piraeus, arriving on Oct. 8, before traveling north through the Balkans. Photo: angelos tzortzinis/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
“Greek authorities on islands such as Leros, Lesbos and Chios have confronted thousands of arrivals every day in recent months as refugees and other migrants make the short sea crossing from Turkey in inflatable boats.”
Authorities in France and Greece have said that fingerprints taken from the remains of a suicide bomber outside France’s national sports stadium, the Stade de France, match the prints of a man who entered Europe via the Aegean island of Leros on Oct. 3.
“Short of staff and equipment, Greek police carry out only a simple procedure that involves taking people’s data and fingerprints, and sometimes asking them a few questions, before giving them permission to travel onward, deeper into Europe.”
Police on Leros registered the man under the identity in the passport he showed them: Ahmad AlMohammad, 25, from Syria. The same passport was found near the man’s body outside the stadium on Friday night.
Whoever the man was, he posed as one of the many refugees fleeing Syria’s war—including the violence of Islamic State—to enter Europe through its lightly controlled frontier in the Aegean Sea. Read the rest of this entry »
The Greek government has announced one of the terrorist gunmen who had a part in killing over 120 in Paris on Friday evening entered Europe while masquerading as a refugee just six weeks ago.
“The news will come as a major shock to the European establishment who have mocked and derided those who have warned that the migrant route into Europe would be exploited by those wishing to do harm to Europe.”
Reports early on Saturday that one of the gunmen was found to have been carrying a Syrian passport have been followed by an announcement by Greek minister for citizen protection Nikos Tosca that the individual was masquerading as a refugee, reports Greek Antenna news.
“Latest United Nations estimates show over 800,000 migrants have passed through the Mediterranean on their way to Europe this year, with 660,700 landing in Greece and 142,400 in Italy.”
The unnamed killer was registered on the Greek island of Leros in the southern Aegean sea on the third of October. The Island is just ten miles from the Turkish coast and has been a major point of ingress for so-called ‘refugees’ into Europe, alongside neighbour island Kos.
— The Greek Analyst (@GreekAnalyst) November 14, 2015
Having come ashore in Europe in October, the killer spent just six weeks as a refugee before killing in Paris.
Read the rest of this entry »
Estimates predict up to 35 million refugees could head for Europe due to hugely unstable situations across the world.
Speaking as the country begins work on its second fence to stop migrants heading across its border he predicted the current crisis will continue for years.
Mr Szijjártó told the Hungarian Times: “The name of the fence is ‘Temporary Security Border Fence’ but I think there is no question that in this case temporary means years.
“It’s a self delusion to call this situation a migration crisis; it is a massive migration of nations, with inexhaustible reserves.
“I don’t think that the analysis results, stating that 30-35 million people out there could possibly become migrants, would be an exaggeration.
“Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are all countries with a huge population and an extremely unstable situation.”
The Hungarian government also defended itself from criticism over its fences.
It comes as a ten-year-old migrant boy with a severe lung condition died in Hungary.
His mother and siblings successfully made the journey to Germany but his father stayed behind with the poorly youngster, who was buried on Friday.
The first barrier was put up at its border with Serbia but, after migrants changed their route, they have now begun erecting a 41 kilometre fence at Croatia. Read the rest of this entry »
…When Barack Obama demanded Assad step down in 2011, he took immediate ownership of any consequences to follow. Assad — not being much more than a photo-op for Nancy Pelosi or a dinner date for John Kerry, and owing us utterly nothing (unlike Mubarak or Khaddafi) — told Obama to get bent around a tree, and from that point onward the administration’s strategy has been one long assay into the question of how best to manage an Asshole Who May Still Be Preferable To Outright Anarchy. Obama hedged military action against Assad and against his (now obviously disastrous) decision to withdraw from Iraq and the impending nuclear deal with Iran. When his declaration that Assad Must Go went ignored (and thus became problematic), he simply crossed it off his list, told a nefarious Vladimir Putin to handle it, and went golfing. When his administration realized that any military intervention in Syria would complicate his Iran nuclear deal, he folded. Except the world didn’t fold with him.
“That’s always been this President’s problem: his complete inability to deal with the world at hand, as it exists right in front of his face. When the world forces Barack Obama off his script, he simply retreats to a golf course, ESPN, or most recently the remote wilds of Alaska.”
When reports emerged that Assad had utilized chlorine gas against both rebels and civilians, Obama was suddenly boxed into a world which preceded his ascension and more importantly, didn’t give a damn about what he thought. Obama and his famously anti-war Secretary of State John Kerry reaped the consequences of spending the prior five years demonizing the difficult decisions made by their predecessors, either unaware or unfazed by the idea that they might one day have to rally the country and the world around a “Red Line” they themselves had set, and as it turns out weren’t very good or very interested in necessitating either….
That’s always been this President’s problem: his complete inability to deal with the world at hand, as it exists right in front of his face. When the world forces Barack Obama off his script, he simply retreats to a golf course, ESPN, or most recently the remote wilds of Alaska.
“It wasn’t ‘the United States’ that let Obama get away with declaring ‘I didn’t set that red line, the world did’ only to have him to walk out the door like a dejected child needing an afternoon snack and media-induced nap.”
Nowhere was this more evident than when his habit of diplomatic detachment inconveniently washed up on the shores of the Greek island of Kos last week when a boat carrying Syrian refugees capsized. While President Jor-El embarked on a magical mystery end-of-summer climate cruise to call attention to Alaskan glacier-melt in summer, the world was suddenly captivated by the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi lying face down in front of rescue workers….
“No, that was our media: rather than hold him accountable for his own declarations of removing Assad and setting a “red line,” they simply shrugged, muttered a word or two about how war Totally Sucks Anyway, and went back to writing think pieces on the cultural impact of the President’s NCAA tournament bracket.”
…The New York Times, for instance, attributes responsibility to some mysterious governing entity known as “The United States” and scorches the country as whole for ignoring Syria and ISIS, yet manages somehow not to mention the names Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or the terms “JV” and “Red Line” once in about 1,500 words.
It wasn’t “the United States” that let Obama get away with declaring “I didn’t set that red line, the world did” only to have him to walk out the door like a dejected child needing an afternoon snack and media-induced nap. No, that was our media: rather than hold him accountable for his own declarations of removing Assad and setting a “red line,” they simply shrugged, muttered a word or two about how war Totally Sucks Anyway, and went back to writing think pieces on the cultural impact of the President’s NCAA tournament bracket.
Because of DC media’s nerd-prom infatuation at the thought of being a part, any part, of this socially cool West Wing Presidency, we have to turn to other sources in calling out this ridiculous clipboard hashtag foreign policy. Earlier this year in a brief appearance during Jon Stewart’s Night of Too Many Stars, and much to the horror of the crowd, stand up comedian Bill Burr tore into Michelle Obama over the White House’s penchant for doing nothing to stop these events except guilt-shaming us with puppydog eyes:
“She’s sitting there holding up those hashtags, Bring Back Our Girls. Remember that hashtag #BringBackOurGirls? That blew my mind, like, why are you showing me that? I’m a stand up comedian. Like what am I going to do to get back the girls? Why don’t you look across the dinner table — you see that guy? That is the Leader Of The Free World. Tell him to pick up a phone, call some Navy SEALs and solve it….what am I going to do? Show up with a sharpened mic stand? HEY EVERYONE MICHELLE TOLD ME TO BRING THEM BACK”
The whole routine is worth watching, if for no other reason than to see an overly-sensitive politically correct crowd, saturated with social media activism for the past seven years, pucker helplessly in their seats. And yet that’s where we’re at. Using Twitter to hold up signs — it’s exasperating precisely because the one “Red Line” that actually seems to still exist is the one forbidding the media from holding the one guy who can do anything about these foreign policy meltdowns and humanitarian crises responsible.
Our media collectively demands accountability for these conflicts from every single person…except the one person who has any real power to stop or mitigate it. This has always been the anecdote in Obama’s foreign policy: 1) show up 2) demand the world follow him 3) world leaders balk at his demands 4) he shrugs his shoulders and goes and plays with his selfie stick somewhere. If Obama really feels like going “all-out,” sometimes there will be an additional step 5 involving Twitter pictures of the State Department’s junior-hipster mall brigade flashing grins, thumbs-up, and razor-edged hashtags (fashioned by America’s sharpest military scientists working in the depths of DARPA to help win The Bloody War Of Memes).
Eastern Ukraine is still occupied by Putin and “our girls” have still not been returned and beyond hashtagvism, an administration far more interested in mobilizing mobs at home has all but failed to mobilize allies abroad. The repercussions of this President’s media-abetted lethargy and diplomatic ADHD will echo for generations and the same click-driven SEO Wizards of Trends that tell us now not to look away at the horrors flooding Europe will immediately torch the next Republican President for being boxed into intervening there. The Warmongering Neocon cliches will flood social media via progressive outlets like an undimmed tide, and passed off as the same interventionism nonsense by the Sunday morning peacock mafia.
It’s hard to quell the suspicion that this is why western leaders will not do what is necessary to rid the world of both ISIS and Assad. Legacy media demands we pay attention, but absolutely refuses to admit what in fact would be necessary for ending this: boots on the ground. Blood and treasure. War. Again, war. And war against whom? ISIS, yes, sure. But Assad? Do we risk all-out war with Assad in Syria, who is now backed now by Vladimir Putin, who has ramped up support with ground troops and armored divisions inside Syria? Better do a quick hit on ESPN Radio talking sports instead.
Responding to the tragedy unfolding in Syria right now means overwhelming and eliminating ISIS with uncompromising force, and returning to Iraq with a significant number of troops. ISIS can instantly erase 2,000 years of archaeological history overnight (A practice the Taliban employed as they rose to power in pre-9/11 Afghanistan) and the people charged with questioning the current administration about it refuse to address it beyond a few sad tweets…. Read the rest of this entry »
— The Economist (@EconAmericas) August 12, 2015
Richard Whittle writes: Sweat the small stuff.
That’s the unofficial motto for this year’s edition of the military exercise Black Dart, a two-week test of tactics and technologies to combat hostile drones that begins Monday on the Point Mugu range at Naval Base Ventura County in California.
The military categorizes Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by size and capability, from Group 5 drones that weigh more than 1,320 pounds and can fly above 18,000 feet like the Reaper, down to Group 1, mini- and micro-drones less than 20 pounds that fly lower than 1,200 feet. Previous Black Darts have covered threats to troops overseas and targets at home posed by drones of all sizes.
But small drones are this year’s focus, said the director of this 14th edition of Black Dart, Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, because of worrisome incidents since the last exercise.
Gregg cited the quadcopter that a drunk crashed onto the White House lawn in the wee hours of Jan. 26 and sightings of unidentified small drones flying over nuclear reactors in France. In the wake of those events, he said, “Even though we’ve been looking at [the small drone threat], it’s taken on a new sense of urgency.”
Gregg also could have mentioned how, to protest government surveillance, the Pirate Party of Germany flew a small drone right up to the podium as Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in Dresden two years ago. Or how in Japan last April, a nuclear-energy foe landed a drone carrying radioactive sand on the roof of the prime minister’s residence. And there was a report last week that British officials are worried ISIS may try to bomb festival crowds using small drones.
The United States enjoyed a near-monopoly on armed drones for much of the past 15 years, but with more than 80 countries now buying or building drones of their own, and with terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS known to have used unarmed drones in the Middle East, that advantage has evaporated.
Few countries and no terrorist groups are likely to emulate the complex and costly US system of undersea fiber-optic cables and satellite earth terminals in Europe that allows crews in the United States to fly drones carrying missiles and bombs over Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
But anyone can buy a Group 1 drone for a couple of hundred dollars and put it to nefarious use. Arm it with plastic explosives, radioactive material, biological or chemical agents, and it can be crashed, kamikaze-style, into a target.
“I’d say for the Department of Homeland Security, it’s one of the biggest concerns,” Gregg said.
The threat isn’t imaginary. Former Northeastern University student Rezwan Ferdaus is now serving 17 years in prison for plotting to pack C-4 plastic explosives into 1/10 scale radio controlled models of F-4 and F-86 fighter jets and fly them into the Capitol and Pentagon. Ferdaus also supplied cellphone detonators for IEDs to people he thought were agents of al Qaeda but turned out to be working for the FBI….(read more)
This year the surrogate threats will include three Group 1 drones — a Hawkeye 400 hexacopter, a Flanker and a Scout II — and one Twin Hawk drone from the Group 2 category (21 to 55 lbs., slower than 250 knots, lower than 3,500 feet). Six Group 3 drones, all of them 13.5-foot wingspan Outlaw G2s made by Griffon Aerospace, also will be targets. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Frequently-Wrong Meteorologist Arrested While Doing Weather Forecast, Columnist Paul Krugman Fears He’s NextPosted: July 25, 2015
Law enforcement is so fed up with the miserably cold, cloudy, and damp weather in Newfoundland, Canada that it has arrested two local broadcast meteorologists.
CBC News meteorologist Ryan Snoddon was the first to take the fall for the anomalous chill. You can watch his arrest – part of an apparent sting operation – below:
Next in the hopper was NTV meteorologist Eddie Sheerr, arrested while delivering the forecast on the evening news.
Both Snoddon and Sheer were charged with impersonating a meteorologist, failing to provide the essentials of summer – sunshine, good forecasts and blue skies – and trafficking of rain, drizzle, and fog.
Prior to their arrest, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary had issued a statement to the media noting Snoddon and Sheerr were persons of interest given the following state of affairs:
SUMMER was last seen in early August of 2014. When last seen, SUMMER was described as being between 20-30 degrees Celsius (68-86 degrees Fahrenheit), blue skies with a bright and warm source of light in the sky. There have been sporadic sightings of this bright object, but these sightings have been rare since May 2015.
Sheerr – who is from the U.S. – faces possible deportation, the arresting officer said.
Of course, the arrests were just a humorous stunt – the Canadian’s way of coping with conditions that are egregious even by their own standards. Read the rest of this entry »
Important Correction: Headline Should Read ‘Greek Prime Minister Purges Left-Wing Rebels to Bolster Divided Government’Posted: July 17, 2015
We Apologize for the inconvenience.
Meanwhile in Germany, Merkel pushes through support for unloved bailout despite repeated suggestions by her finance minister that Greece should quit the Eurozone.
Geoffrey Smith writes: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sacked some prominent left-wing rebels from his government Friday in a cabinet reshuffle following a party revolt against a tough new bailout deal adopted this week.
The 40 year-old prime minister dismissed Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and two deputy ministers after 39 Syriza hardline lawmakers refused to back the government over the measures, which were demanded by Eurozone partners as a pre-condition for beginning talks over a new bailout.
The main economic ministries remain unchanged, with Euclid Tsakalotos remaining in place at the finance ministry and George Stathakis staying at the economy ministry.
But Labor Minister Panos Skourletis, one of Tsipras’ closest allies, will replace Lafazanis in the key energy portfolio, where he will be responsible for sensitive privatization dossiers. Administrative Reforms Minister George Katrougalos will take over at the labor ministry.
The reshuffle had been expected ever since the party rebellion left Tsipras dependent on the votes of pro-European opposition parties to pass the bailout deal but it is not likely to change the uncertain overall outlook for the government.
Former Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, another bailout opponent who resigned earlier this week before the vote, was replaced by Tryfon Alexiadis, a leading member of Greece’s tax experts’ union.
The new ministers are expected to be sworn in on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »
Groups of youths among the more than 12,000 anti-reality protesters smashed storefronts and set at least one car on fire
(ATHENS, Greece) — Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos report: Rioters hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas as an anti-austerity demonstration outside parliament turned violent Wednesday, while Greek lawmakers began debating contentious measures needed to start negotiations on a new bailout and avoid financial collapse.
“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life.”
Groups of youths among the more than 12,000 protesters smashed storefronts and set at least one vehicle alight. The clashes were the first significant protest violence since the left-wing Syriza government came to power in January promising to repeal bailout austerity. Police said at least 50 people were detained.
“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is.”
— Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos
The protest was timed to coincide with the start of debate on the bill, which includes consumer tax increases and pension reforms that will condemn Greeks to years of more economic hardship.
The bill has fueled anger among the governing left-wing Syriza party and led to a revolt by many party members against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has insisted the deal forged early Monday after a marathon weekend eurozone summit was the best he could do to prevent Greece from crashing out of Europe’s joint currency.
“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life,” said Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.
“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is,” he said as the debate kicked off.
Civil servants protested with a 24-hour strike that disrupted public transport and shut down state-run services across the country. Read the rest of this entry »
Previously, Michael Skråmo worked to counter what he described as an unfair and misleading picture of Muslims as violent fanatics. Now Skråmo preaches jihad and calls Swedish jihadists to leave Sweden and join the holy war
The 29-year-old Swede, who today calls himself “Abdul Samad al Swedi”, grew up in Gothenburg. He converted to Islam during a field trip to Egypt about ten years ago and has since been engaged in a series of tax-funded Muslim organizations.
In 2009 he was invited to SVT, where he told Swedish viewers how Muslim phobia (Islamophobia) and hatred was spread around Europe.
Previously, the Swede have been heavily involved to counter what he described as a misleading picture of Muslims as violent fanatics. In an episode of SVT debate, which can be seen on Youtube, he attacked the malicious picture of Muslims spread in Europe.
“This fear is based on ignorance of Islam,” Michael Skråmo said. […]
Michael Skråmo, 29, took the whole family – his little four children and wife – to the IS-controlled area inside Syria. Now Skråmo filmed a propaganda video outside the Syrian city Kobane where he preaches jihad and calls Swedish jihadists to leave Sweden and join the “holy war”. Read the rest of this entry »
Greek Newspapers Running Out of Paper; Emergency Plans Underway to Substitute Delicious Surplus Layers of Baked Filo DoughPosted: July 9, 2015
ATHENS (Reuters) – Lefteris Karagiannopoulos reports: With banks shut and the economy seizing up, some Greek newspapers like the Empros daily on the island of Lesvos are running out of paper and could be forced to stop sales altogether until the banks open again.
“There is a definite problem with paper supply. Our supplier can’t provide us with it, as it is stuck in customs. He can’t pay the foreign suppliers, as bank transfers are blocked and there’s very little cash to continue operations”.
— Empros chief executive Manolis Manolas
The island’s biggest selling newssheet, Empros has already reduced the number of pages to 16 from 20 and its chief executive Manolis Manolas hopes he won’t have to make further cuts as the country’s cash crunch worsens. Greek banks have been shut for almost two weeks after capital controls were imposed.
“There is a definite problem with paper supply,” Manolas told Reuters by phone. “Our supplier can’t provide us with it, as it is stuck in customs. He can’t pay the foreign suppliers, as bank transfers are blocked and there’s very little cash to continue operations”.
“The newspaper you hold in your hands numbers only 32 pages because the stock of printing paper will last for just a few days and it will not be possible to get a fresh supply through customs because of the bank holiday.”
Curbs on money withdrawals and transfers have made life miserable for millions of Greeks, whose government was scrambling on Thursday to devise a new set of proposals for a bailout with its creditors to stave off imminent bankruptcy.
Filo (or phyllo) (Greek: φύλλο ‘leaf’) is a kind of very thin unleavened dough used for making pastries such as baklava and börek in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Filo-based pastries are made by layering many sheets of filo brushed with melted butter; the pastry is then baked.
As well as reporting on the capital controls introduced at the end of June – queues outside banks and cash machines are now a daily sight in Greece – the media also became a victim of them. Read the rest of this entry »
The latest drastic step by Beijing is a six-month ban on stock sales by controlling shareholders and executives who own more than 5% of a company’s shares. Any violation of the rule, announced Wednesday night, would be ‘treated seriously’
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 5.9% on Wednesday and is down nearly one-third from its peak on June 12. Since then, $3.5 trillion in value has been erased from companies in the benchmark index—or nearly five times the size of Apple Inc.
China’s bond market and currency also began to get hit Wednesday as worries deepened that a contagion from stock-market losses could further trammel the country’s slowing economy. It felt even more ominous because Chinese officials had rushed out another raft of emergency measures earlier Wednesday to reassure the market.
The moves only heightened what is turning into an epidemic of anxiety among Chinese investors and a crisis of confidence in their leaders. Stocks were volatile early Thursday.
“The more the government intervenes, the more scared I am,” said Li Jun, who runs a fishing and restaurant business in the eastern city of Nanjing. He has spent about 3 million yuan, roughly $500,000, on stocks, using borrowed money for about one-third of the total.
Mr. Li has sold some of his investments every time the market “popped up a little” following a rescue announcement by the Chinese government. “I have no faith” in its ability to halt the losses, he says. Wednesday’s drop left the Shanghai index down 32% from its peak and at its lowest level since March.
The latest drastic step by Beijing is a six-month ban on stock sales by controlling shareholders and executives who own more than 5% of a company’s shares. Any violation of the rule, announced Wednesday night, would be “treated seriously,” China’s securities regulator said.
Early Thursday, China’s central bank said it has provided “ample liquidity” to a company owned by the country’s top securities regulator. The company is lending the funds to securities firms, which then will use the money to buy stocks.
The Chinese government has been praised for driving decades of economic growth and keeping the economy strong during the global financial crisis. In recent years, Chinese authorities have struggled with rising debt levels and the need to reform the economy away from government-driven infrastructure programs and toward consumer spending.
As it fought slower growth and a weakening real-estate market, the government turned its attention to the country’s languishing stock markets.
But Beijing’s inability to stop the recent decline has rattled investors who have long been used to seeing the government use its power to control markets.
“Beijing’s latest bid to calm the market has had the opposite effect,” said Bernard Aw, market analyst at IG Group. “The panic is spreading, and authorities appear to be grasping at straws to hold back the tide.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew played down the possible world-wide impact of China’s stock-market mess, though he expressed worry that it could restrain the country’s longer-term growth if Beijing slows its promised economic overhauls. Read the rest of this entry »
While the world worries about Greece, there’s an even bigger problem closer to home: China
A stock market crash there has seen $3.2 trillion wiped from the value of Chinese shares in just three weeks, triggering an emergency response from the government and warnings of “monstrous” public disorder.
“If China does not find support today, the disorder could be monstrous.”
And the effects for Australia could be serious, affecting our key commodity exports and sparking the beginning of a period of recession-like conditions.
“State-owned newspapers have used their strongest language yet, telling people ‘not to lose their minds’ and ‘not to bury themselves in horror and anxiety’. [Our] positive measures will take time to produce results,” writes IG Markets.
“All short-selling — the practice of betting that stocks will fall — has been banned, and Chinese media has rushed to reassure citizens.”
“If China does not find support today, the disorder could be monstrous.”
In an extraordinary move, the People’s Bank of China has begun lending money to investors to buy shares in the flailing market. The Wall Street Journal reports this “liquidity assistance” will be provided to the regulator-owned China Securities Finance Corp, which will lend the money to brokerages, which will in turn lend to investors.
The dramatic intervention marks the first time funds from the central bank have been directed anywhere other than the banks, signalling serious concern from authorities about the crisis.
At the same time, Chinese authorities are putting a halt to any new stock listings. The market regulator announced on Friday it would limit initial public offerings — which disrupt the rest of the market — in an attempt to curb plunging share prices.
“The market crash there is generating headlines, but it’s not going to have the same impact as a comparable crash would in a developed market.”
While the exact amount of assistance hasn’t been revealed, the WSJ reports no upper limit has been set.
All short-selling — the practice of betting that stocks will fall — has been banned, and Chinese media has rushed to reassure citizens.
Yesterday, shares in big state companies soared in response to the but many others sank as jittery small investors tried to cut their losses, Associated Press reports. The market benchmark Shanghai Composite closed up 2.4 percent but still was down 27 percent from its June 12 peak.
Experts fear it could turn into a full-blown crash introducing even more uncertainty into global markets as Europe teeters on the edge of a potential eurozone exit by Greece, after Sunday’s controversial referendum.
For Australia, the market crash in China is likely to impact earnings on key exports iron ore and coal, further slashing government revenue, while also putting downward pressure on the Australian dollar.
Jordan Eliseo, chief economist with ABC Bullion, said it was important to remember that the amount of wealth Chinese citizens have tied up in the stock market is relatively minor compared with western investors.
Stocks only make up about 8 per cent of household wealth in China, compared with around 20 per cent in developed nations. Read the rest of this entry »
After ‘No’ Vote Against Bailout, Yanis Varoufakis Steps Down
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned from his post Monday after Greek citizens voted to reject further austerity measures the day prior, the Associated Press reported.
“I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”
— Yanis Varoufaki
Varoufakis said he was told shortly after the voters rejected Sunday’s referendum regarding demands by international creditors to impose further austerity measures in exchange for a bailout package for its bankrupt economy, that the other eurozone finance ministers and Greece’s other creditors would prefer he not attend the ministers’ meetings.
Varoufakis issued an announcement saying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had judged that Varoufakis’ resignation “might help achieve a deal” and that he was leaving the finance ministry for this reason Monday.
Varoufakis is known for his brash style and fondness for frequent media appearances at the start of his tenure when the new government was formed in January. He had visibly annoyed many of the eurozone’s finance ministers during Greece’s debt negotiations.
“Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants… for my ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the prime minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today,” Varoufakis wrote in a blog post, according to The Guardian.
“Like all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached,” the post read, according to the Athenian newspaper Kathmerini.
“It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms,” Varoufakis wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
Sarkis Zeronian reports: The value of the euro compared to major peer currencies is already dropping as the financial effects of the Greek ‘No’ vote in Sunday’s referendum filter into the global market. With analysts predicting banks facing funding crises and individuals unable to take their money from ATMs, volatility is set to reign for some time.
“It was not the only currency to lose value. The Aussie fell 0.9 per cent to 74.52 U.S. cents, the first time it’s broken 75 cents since 2009, and New Zealand’s dollar slipped 0.6 per cent.”
Bloomberg reports analysts are tipping the investment winners in the situation to be Treasuries and German bunds, benefiting from a “flight to safety”.
“This was also related to regional difficulties involving China where initial public offerings were suspended, as brokerages pledged to buy shares and the state media tried to limit investor panic as officials intensified efforts to stop the steepest plunge in equities the country has seen since 1992.”
With currencies trading throughout the day, the euro began to fall as soon as the outcome of the referendum became clear, even with most traders in Tokyo and Hong Kong yet to reach their desks. The drop is said to herald the start of what is expected to be a volatile week for global financial markets as institutions such as JPMorgan Chase & Co say Greece exiting the eurozone is now the base-case scenario.
The euro lost 1.1 per cent to $1.0992 by 6:12 a.m. Tokyo time, its weakest level since 29 June, also slipping 1.7 per cent against the yen and 1 per cent versus the pound. Greece may only account for less than 2 per cent of eurozone output, but a ‘Grexit’ risks setting a precedent of reversible membership.
It was not the only currency to lose value. The Aussie fell 0.9 per cent to 74.52 U.S. cents, the first time it’s broken 75 cents since 2009, and New Zealand’s dollar slipped 0.6 per cent. This was also related to regional difficulties involving China where initial public offerings were suspended, as brokerages pledged to buy shares and the state media tried to limit investor panic as officials intensified efforts to stop the steepest plunge in equities the country has seen since 1992. Read the rest of this entry »
ATHENS – Kerin Hope reports: IGreek banks are preparing contingency plans for a possible “bail-in” of depositors amid fears the country is heading for financial collapse, bankers and businesspeople with knowledge of the measures said on Friday.
The plans, which call for a “haircut” of at least 30 per cent on deposits above €8,000, sketch out an increasingly likely scenario for at least one bank, the sources said.
A Greek bail-in could resemble the rescue plan agreed by Cyprus in 2013, when customers’ funds were seized to shore up the banks, with a haircut imposed on uninsured deposits over €100,000.
It would be implemented as part of a recapitalisation of Greek banks that would be agreed with the country’s creditors — the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.
“It [the haircut] would take place in the context of an overall restructuring of the bank sector once Greece is back in a bailout programme,” said one person following the issue. “This is not something that is going to happen immediately.”
Eurozone officials said no decision had been taken to wind up any Greek banks or initiate a bail-in of depositors, a process that would be started by the ECB declaring the banks insolvent or pulling emergency loans.
Greece’s banks have been closed since Monday, when capital controls were imposed to prevent a bank run following the leftwing Syriza-led government’s call for a referendum on a bailout plan it had earlier rejected. Greece’s highest court rejected an appeal by two citizens on Friday who had asked for the referendum to be declared unconstitutional.
Depositors can withdraw only €60 a day from bank ATM cash machines, while requests to transfer funds abroad have to be approved by a special finance ministry committee in co-operation with the Greek central bank. Read the rest of this entry »
Trillions Spent, but Crises Like Greece’s Persist http://t.co/YPi6x3mG2z
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) June 30, 2015
“Thanks to Greece’s socialist policies, its economy has long been creaking under the weight of crushing debt. It only endured in the debt-averse European Union because, with the help of Wall Street honchos like Goldman Sachs, it cunningly concealed its red ink for over a decade.”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a referendum over the latest concessions demanded by Germany and the European Commission. Votes will be cast on Sunday and Tspiras is actively campaigning against Greek cooperation. Four days earlier comes Tuesday, which is the deadline for Greece forking over an additional 1.6 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund. It’s now unknown whether Tspiras intends to default.
What is known is that the uncertainty is causing Greeks to party like it’s 1930. NBC News reports:
Greece imposed restrictions on money withdrawals and banking transactions to keep its financial system from collapsing due to a run on the banks.
Anxious Greeks rushed to ATMs to withdraw cash after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called late Friday for a referendum on the creditors’ reform proposals. …
Meanwhile, retirees lined up just after dawn at bank branches hoping they would be able to receive their pensions, which were due to be paid Monday. The finance ministry said the manner in which pensions would be disbursed would be announced later in the afternoon.
The president of the European Commission has declared that Greece’s departure from the euro is not an option, but even the most impenetrable of Eurocrats must comprehend that their little science project is falling apart.
This weekend’s referendum isn’t just about the current bailout package; a “no” vote will effectively jettison Greece from the euro and resurrect their old drachma currency. A “Grexit,” the prospect of which has long triggered dramatic sting music in the minds of European financial ministers, is looming over the Continent.
“That debt is often attributed to the fact that ‘Greeks don’t pay their taxes,’ which has now reached near-aphorism status among economic writers. But rarely does anyone explore the reasons for all this tax dodging.”
And why not? The referendum is likely a leverage tactic by Tspiras—who’s resorted to such risibly desperate measures in the past as calling on Germany to pay Greece Nazi war reparations—but it intersects with one of the seminal themes of his election campaign last year: giving the Greek people a choice. Why should Athens, fuzzily remembered as the “birthplace of democracy,” have its finances determined in the back room of a foreign accounting office? Read the rest of this entry »
“…Bank runs are expected on Monday, and a friend in Athens reports almost all the ATM machines have already run out of cash. Obviously, even those who work at the Greek parliament don’t have confidence in the system…”
via John Fund
Happening in Greece right now-almost 3am-people withdrawing as much cash as they can.
FRANKFURT—Scattered incidents of violence broke out Wednesday across Germany’s financial capital alongside demonstrations against austerity timed to the inauguration of the European Central Bank’s new headquarters.
While most parts of Frankfurt remained peaceful, a policeman on patrol said some police cars had been set on fire and some protesters burned tires. Police used water cannon on some protesters.
‘European unity is being strained. People are going through very difficult times.’
—ECB President Mario Draghi
ECB President Mario Draghi defended the bank’s policies at the inauguration ceremony, warning that moving toward more isolation and nationalization wouldn’t solve Europe’s problems.
“European unity is being strained. People are going through very difficult times,” Mr. Draghi said in prepared remarks at the inauguration. Read the rest of this entry »
Can you name these crowns? Answers after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »
oil on canvas
91.5 by 71cm., 36 by 28in.
George Wilson of Redgrave Hall, Suffolk and thence by descent to Mr P.J. Holt Wilson, by whom sold Sotheby’s, 28 November 1972, lot 49
John P. Seddon, Memoir and Letters of the late Thomas Seddon, artist, By his Brother, 1859, pp. 16-17;
The Journal of the Society of Arts, May 1857, pp.360-362;
The Art Journal, 1857, p.198
This is the first recorded work from the hand of the short-lived and very remarkable Pre-Raphaelite artist Thomas Seddon. Thought of principally as a painter of eastern landscape subjects, the present beautiful and important work provides a fascinating clue to his artistic training and formative years. Although quite unlike the type of work for which he did become known, it reveals the instinctive creative talent and natural skill that he possessed. An unusual subject for an English painter to take in the 1850s, and therefore possibly reflecting his knowledge of contemporary French art, it shows Penelope looking out as the dawn breaks – her companions still sleeping – after a night spent undoing the previous day’s work on a woven shroud. Her reason for doing this was because – according to the story told in Homer’s Odyssey – during the long period during which her husband Odysseus was away, assumed by most to be dead, she remained faithful to him and, when pressed to give herself in marriage to another, always said she could not until the shroud was finished, a subterfuge which she maintained for ten years until a maid servant revealed how it was that the garment was never completed. Read the rest of this entry »
Unknown artist, Greek
Aphrodite, 2nd century BCE
Height: 47.3 cm (18 5/8 inches)
Life is hard. It’s harder still when an entire class of people with their hands out stands between you and success.
Unfortunately, that’s increasingly the problem, all around the world. A recent New York Times piece tells the story of a Greek woman’s efforts to survive that country’s financial collapse. After losing her job, she tried to start a pastry business, only to find the regulatory environment impossible. Among other things, they wanted her to pay the business’s first two years of taxes up front, before it had taken in a cent. When the business failed, her lesson was this: “I, like thousands of others trying to start businesses, learned that I would be at the mercy of public employees who interpreted the laws so they could profit themselves.”
[Reynolds‘ book The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself is available at Amazon]
This phenomenon isn’t limited to Greece, or even to capitalistic societies. Dissident Soviet-era thinker Milovan Djilas coined the term “the New Class” to describe the people who actually ran the Soviet Union: Not workers or capitalists or proletarians, but managers, bureaucrats, technocrats, and assorted hangers-on. This group, Djilas wrote, had assumed the power that mattered in the “workers’ paradise,” and transformed itself into a new kind of aristocracy, even while pretending, ever less convincingly, to do so in the name of the workers. Read the rest of this entry »
The EU is attempting to ban American companies from using the names of European cheeses to describe their own products. As part of ongoing trade negotiations between the European Union and United States, the EU has requested that only cheeses imported from Europe should bare the appropriate name.
This would mean, for example, that American-made Parmesan would have to change its name as it is not made in the Parma region of Italy. Similarly, feta cheese will only be allowed to be described as such if it comes from Greece.
The EU has already concluded a similar agreement with Canada, where feta cheese manufactured domestically can now only be marketed as “feta-like” or “feta-style”, and the use Greek symbols on packaging is forbidden.
American dairy producers are fighting the plans, which they say would hurt the $4 billion domestic cheese market by confusing customers and making their products seem inferior.