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European leaders intensify their efforts to get Greece to sign off on another debt deal

Efforts to end an impasse over funding have become urgent as Athens faces a debt repayment to the IMF on Friday.

Alex Christoforou

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Post originally appeared on Bloomberg.

European leaders and the head of the International Monetary Fund agreed to step up the intensity of talks over Greece’s fate after an extraordinary meeting in Berlin about ways to avert a default.

The top-level huddle lasted past midnight Tuesday morning at Germany’s government headquarters with Chancellor Angela Merkel, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, French President Francois Hollande and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in attendance. The goal was to hammer out an offer that Greece could consider in coming days, according to two people familiar with the plan.

After Merkel left, her office put out a statement saying the five leaders “agreed that work must now be continued with greater intensity” and that “they have been in closest contact in recent days and want to remain so in the coming days, both among themselves and naturally also with the Greek government.”

Efforts to end an impasse over funding have become urgent as the Mediterranean nation faces a debt repayment to the IMF on Friday. While Greece says it can make the payment, it’s the smallest of four totaling almost 1.6 billion euros ($1.78 billion) this month. The timing coincides with the expiration of a euro-region bailout by the end of June.

With talks dragging into their fifth month, deadlines have come and gone with meetings, calls and summits yielding little as disagreements over pensions and labor laws persisted.

“Even a mediocre agreement is much better than the alternative for Greece, which is bankruptcy,” said Nicholas Economides, professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Bankruptcy within the euro would be very difficult to manage and would require tremendous support from the ECB, which is unlikely.”

Common Ground

Technical negotiations on economic measures Greece must take were resuming and an agreement is closer, though not ready, a Greek government spokesman said on Monday. The aim is to release about 7 billion euros from its existing bailout before the debate begins over a new package.

Merkel was expected to be more involved as time runs out between this week and a meeting of euro-region finance ministers on June 18 in Luxembourg. According to an international official over the weekend, creditor institutions were working on a common proposal that would be presented to Greece in the next few days.

The joint position may be communicated to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras by European political leaders, the person said, asking not to be named, as he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Tsipras held a call with Merkel and Hollande on Sunday, with a German government official calling it “constructive.” At the same time, Greece and its creditors traded accusations for the lack of progress in talks, a hallmark of recent months.

Not Acceptable

Tsipras wrote in French newspaper Le Monde that any intransigence wasn’t the fault of his four-month-old administration. He referred to “absurd proposals” being presented to his government by institutions.

A senior German lawmaker said on Monday it was up to Greece to adhere to reforms agreed to before Tsipras took power. Michael Fuchs, deputy parliamentary leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, said Greece is to blame for the crisis and it’s unacceptable for the government to accuse the European Union. He spoke to Bloomberg Television.

Financial markets in Athens will open after shutting on Monday for the Orthodox Pentecost holiday.

The yield on Greek 10-year bonds rose to 11.49 percent in London, up from 11.25 percent on Friday. Last week, the yield moved between 10.95 percent and 11.98 percent as local reports of progress were contradicted by warnings from European officials that a default can’t be ruled out.

JPMorgan Call

JPMorgan Chase & Co., which in April 2014 helped Greece return to international debt markets, recommended investors sell some longer-dated Greek government bonds. The U.S. bank said there was an increasing risk of caps on the amount of money people can withdraw from Greek banks.

After recommending buying Greece’s longer-dated bonds about the time Tsipras was elected in January, JPMorgan said investors should take 10 basis points of profit on a long position in the 3 percent Greek bond maturing in February 2042. A JPMorgan spokesman in London said the strategists are independent of the bankers involved in capital markets, who declined to comment.

“Although the central scenario is for Greece to reach a compromise before missed payments and/or capital controls, our conviction is not high enough to justify aggressive risk- taking,” Gianluca Salford and Aditya Chordia, rates strategists at JPMorgan in London, wrote in a note to clients.

References:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-01/greece-s-creditors-said-to-meet-in-berlin-to-discuss-next-steps

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Latest

Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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By

Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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