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No deal on Greece today. EU schism with France on one side and Germany on the other

Finland’s Finance Minister Stubb said that, “I think we’re very far away from the types of conditionality that we need. If this was a negotiation from one to 10.”

Alex Christoforou

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Will the Greek eurozone crisis ever end…apparently not. Here is the latest run down.

Some highlights of today’s meeting, as reported by Zerohedge…

  • Slovakia FinMin Peter Kazimir said quite simply earlier “it’s not possible to reach deal today.
  • “We continue to work to establish the conditions to start negotiations, which is the real target – it’s not about closing a deal, it’s about starting negotiations,” Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan tells reporters in Brussels.
  • Finland’s FinMin Stubb who said that while he is still hopeful “I think we’re very far away from the types of conditionality that we need. If this was a negotiation from one to 10, I think we’re still standing somewhere between 3 and 4. So making progress but not there yet.  No one is blocking a deal, we’re all constructively trying to find a solution in a very difficult situation.”
  • We don’t consider the Greek proposal at all sufficient for starting negotiations. Much must happen in order to advance. The Finnish government is unanimous on its stance on Greece.

To sum it up…again via Zerohedge…

Basically, all Europe has left now is hope: hope that Germany will change its mind in the last second and will backtrack on its demands. It got so bad that Luxembourg’s foreign minister made a plea for Germany to avoid a Greek exit from the euro, warning Berlin of a catastrophic schism with France if it pushes for Athens to leave the currency union. The comments from Jean Asselborn, released on Sunday, came after Germany argued that Greece could take a five-year “time-out” from the euro zone and have some of its debts written off if Athens fails to improve proposals it has made for a bailout.

“It would be fatal for Germany’s reputation in the EU and the world if Berlin does not now seize the chance that there now is with the Greek reform offers,” Asselborn told Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

“If Germany pushes for a Grexit, it will provoke a profound conflict with France. That would be a catastrophe for Europe,” he added in an advance release of an interview to run in the Sueddeutsche’s Monday edition.

Some thoughts on all the theatre and tragedy from Sky News’ Ed Conway…

Here are a few stream-of-consciousness thoughts about where we are, written at lunchtime on Sunday. They may be out-of-date by the time you read them. Then again, in the euro crisis, nothing ever seems to change all that much.

1. Today’s Absolutely Final deadline is no longer final.

There was lots of talk (from the President of the European Council among others) that Sunday’s leaders’ and EU leaders’ summit was the Very Last Opportunity to seal a deal or to throw Greece out of the euro. That seemed to make some sense — after all, not only are the Greek banks closed, the entire financial system seems to be about to run out of money. There’s only so long you can run an economy without a fully-functioning banking system.

However, at yesterdays’ eurogroup meeting (that’s the euro finance ministers) it emerged that the decision on a deal may be put off for another few days. Sources said that the financial outflows were not so bad last week, and that the Greek banking system could survive for another few days. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

2. One big problem is trust

This is both good news and bad. Good because it signifies that in terms of the proposals for a bailout deal, there is no longer much distance between the two sides. Having persuaded his people to vote in last weekend’s referendum against the deal proposed by the creditors, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has subsequently signed up to the vast majority of its strictures. So the two sides now, finally, largely agree on the kind of austerity that needs to be imposed (cuts to pension bills, liberalising monopolies and nationalised industries, raising VAT and removing exemptions, including on the islands etc). The problem is that no-one believes that Greece will actually go through with the reforms — especially after all the surprises, disappointments and broken promises of the past few weeks and months. That is why there is talk of waiting until the Greek parliament has actually passed some of these measures before giving the final go-ahead to new bailout talks.

3. The other big problem is domestic politics

Midway through yesterday’s finance minister’s meeting, it emerged that Finland’s government was close to collapse, as the second-biggest party, the True Finns, were dead set against handing any extra cash to Greece. There were also extremely hawkish comments coming from the German and Slovakian teams. It’s a reminder that around the Eurozone many countries are simply sick and tired of handing money to Greece. The largely centrist leaders in Spain and Italy, who face upsurgent anti-euro parties back home, are desperate to prove to the electorate that voting in a party like Syriza is the worst thing they could do. The more Greece suffers (preferably with wall-to-wall coverage across the European broadcast media) the more likely their voters are to think twice about voting for Podemos or Beppe Grillo.

This is probably the least edifying element of the crisis at present: in a sense, Greece is being ritually economically tortured in order to safeguard the jobs of politicians on the other side of Europe.

Either way, in order to get a deal, politicians will have to risk losing at least some votes (maybe lots of them) back home. And no politicians like that.

4. Crazy ideas are now mainstream

A few years ago it was forbidden to talk about the possibility that a country could leave the euro. That taboo was overcome a few years ago at the Cannes G20. Now some finance ministers are openly discussing how it would be done. The big story out of yesterday’s eurogroup was that Germany has been throwing around an idea of a temporary Grexit — that Greece could leave the single currency for five years, restructure its debt and re-join when it is in better health. The problem with such an idea is that “temporary” changes in currency regimes almost always turn out to be permanent. Take the UK leaving the ERM in 1992, or leaving the gold standard in 1931, or the US closing the gold window in 1971. All were described as temporary. Many might have even believed that at the time. Ultimately, they were nothing of the sort.

Anyway, what seems more likely is that this plan is a mischievous attempt at brinksmanship. And, even if it never comes to pass, it is going down brilliantly back home with the German electorate [see point 3].

5. The cancellation of the full EU leaders’ summit is neither a good nor a bad thing

There was originally supposed to be a euro leaders and then a full EU summit today — the idea presumably being that if Grexit was indeed likely, the whole of the EU might need to sign off both on that and the consequent humanitarian aid that might be needed. Now the EU summit has been cancelled — mainly because after last night’s nine hour marathon of talks it is clear that there will be no straightforward conclusion from the eurogroup, and hence the leaders won’t simply be coming into town to sign a piece of paper and then leave.

6. Best-case scenario: eurofudge

Of course, the pie-in-the-sky best-case scenario involves Greece getting a deal immediately and going home and successfully implementing it. But a more realistic scenario is probably going to involve a characteristic euro fudge.

The euro finance ministers could agree to begin bailout talks on the pre-condition that Greece implements a number of austerity/reform proposals in the next few days. This would be endorsed by the leaders, unanimously. Then, the European Central Bank confirms that because talks are now ongoing (as opposed to frozen) it can loosen conditions on Greece’s banks (though they won’t open for some time either way). The eurogroup confirms the bailout talks are underway in yet another meeting or teleconference later on this week. Note that there is no longer any hope of getting a full bailout signed off — the best that can be done is to begin formal negotiations for another bailout. All because the last deal expired a couple of weeks ago.

7. Worst-case scenario: eurodisaster

The worst-case scenario for both sides involves Greece leaving the euro. Quite how this happens is anyone’s guess, though Germany’s eurosabbatical paper yesterday underlined that despite the fact that the EU Treaties don’t have a clause to allow it, Grexit is absolutely feasible. It would begin with a breakdown of today’s talks, with a complete split in the eurogroup and euro leaders’ meeting between those who believe Greece’s departure is good news for the euro (Germany, Finland etc) and those who think it would be a disaster (France, Italy etc).

Rather than coming out and waving a piece of paper saying Greece is heading back to the drachma, the process might be more subtle and imperceptible: Athens might be allowed to print its own euro-denominated instruments; it might be allowed to print scrip; it might simply not be allowed to get extra liquidity from the ECB and be forced to nationalise its banks.

But though it might not begin with one big moment of fanfare, a departure would be messy, would provoke a further default by Greece on its debts to the IMF, the ECB and other euro nations. They would be pursued in the courts for decades for some sort of payback. Questions would arise over the future of the single currency. If the remaining members do not commit to big-scale further integration (a single Treasury, fiscal union) they will leave the door open for further departures in the coming years. Markets would plunge, not just in the Eurozone but everywhere around the world. Greece would almost certainly be out of the euro forever, however much the move would be branded initially as temporary.

References:

https://medium.com/@edconwaysky/still-talking-a680366af95f

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-12/its-not-possible-reach-deal-today-eu-summit-canceled-european-leader-scramble-keep-d

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Germany Wants Nuclear Bombers

Germany does not manufacture atomic weapons but has come to consider itself as a nuclear power because it has vectors to use them.

The Duran

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Via VoltaireNet.org:


Germany’s armed forces are currently studying the possibility of acquiring nuclear bombers capable of using the new American B61-12 atomic bombs.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon itself plans to deploy these new atomic bombs in the German region of Eifel, in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The German air force already has multi-tasking Tornado warplanes, which are already capable of deploying American atomic bombs. But those aircraft are going to be replaced, possibly, by European-developed Eurofighters, or by United States manufactured F/A-18 Super Hornets.

Either way, the warplane that Germany selects will have to be equipped with the AMAC (Aircraft Monitoring and Control) system, which allows the use of the new American atomic bombs and enables the regulation of the power of the explosion as well as at what height the bombs explode after they are launched.

Germany does not manufacture atomic weapons but has come to consider itself as a nuclear power because it has vectors to use them, and believes that this gives it the right to sit on the UN Security Council sharing the permanent member position occupied by France.

Both countries would thus represent the European Union, under the auspices of NATO.

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1st since Notre Dame: Yellow Vests back despite ‘unifying’ disaster & they are angry

‘Yellow Vests’ march in Paris for 23rd straight week.

RT

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By

Via RT…


Yellow Vests protests brought clashes and tear gas back to the streets of Paris, despite politicians’ calls for “unity” in the wake of the Notre Dame fire. For protesters, the response to the fire only showed more inequality.

Saturday’s protests mark the 23rd straight weekend of anti-government demonstrations, but the first since Notre Dame de Paris went up in flames on Monday. Officials were quick to criticize the protesters for returning to the streets so soon after the disaster.

“The rioters will be back tomorrow,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters on Friday. “The rioters have visibly not been moved by what happened at Notre-Dame.”

For many of the protesters, grief over the destruction of the 800-year-old landmark has made way for anger. With smoke still rising from Notre Dame, a group of French tycoons and businessmen pledged €1 billion to the cathedral’s reconstruction, money that the Yellow Vests say could be better spent elsewhere.

“If they can give dozens of millions to rebuild Notre Dame, they should stop telling us there is no money to respond to the social emergency,” trade union leader Philippe Martinez told France 24.

Saturday’s protests saw a return to scenes familiar since the Yellow Vests first mobilized in November to protest a fuel tax hike. Demonstrators in Paris’ Bastille district set barricades on fire and smashed vehicles, and police deployed tear gas to keep the crowds at bay.

Sporadic incidents of vandalism and looting were reported across the city, and some journalists even reported rioters throwing feces at police.

60,000 police officers were deployed across the country, and in Paris, a security perimeter was set up around Notre Dame. A planned march that would have passed the site was banned by police, and elsewhere, 137 protesters had been arrested by mid afternoon, police sources told Euronews.

Beginning as a show of anger against rising fuel costs in November, the Yellow Vests movement quickly evolved into a national demonstration of rage against falling living standards, income inequality, and the perceived elitism and pro-corporation policies of President Emmanuel Macron. Over 23 weeks of unrest, Macron has made several concessions to the protesters’ demands, but has thus far been unable to quell the rising dissent.

After Notre Dame caught fire on Monday, the president postponed a television address to the nation, during which he was expected to unveil a package of tax cuts and other economic reforms, another measure to calm the popular anger in France.

Macron’s address will be held on Thursday.

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O Canada! The True North Strong and Free – Not

Maybe it’s past time for Canadians to get serious again about their independence.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Canadian visitors to Washington sometimes wonder why their embassy stands at the foot of Capitol Hill.

The answer? To be close to where Canada’s laws are made.

A main showcase of Ottawa’s craven servility to Washington is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s complicity in the US-led regime change operation being conducted against Venezuela. Not content with ruining his own country with multiculturalism, polysexualism, and the like, Li’l Justin has acted in lockstep with Big Brother to the south inslapping sanctions on Venezuelan officials and serving as a US agent of influence, especially with other countries in the western hemisphere:

‘A Canadian Press report published at the end of January revealed that Canadian diplomats worked systematically over several months with their Latin American counterparts in Caracas to prepare the current regime-change operation, pressing [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro’s right-wing opponents to set aside their differences and mount a joint challenge to the government. “The turning point,” said the Canadian Press [Global News], “came Jan. 4, when the Lima Group … rejected the legitimacy of Maduro’s May 2018 election victory and his looming January 10 inauguration, while recognizing the ‘legitimately elected’ National Assembly.” The report cited an unnamed Canadian official as saying the opposition “were really looking for international support of some kind, to be able to hold onto a reason as to why they should unite, and push somebody like Juan Guaidó.”

‘One day prior to Maduro’s inauguration, [Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia] Freeland spoke to Guaidó, the newly-elected National Assembly speaker, by telephone to urge him to challenge the elected Venezuelan president.’

But that’s not all. Canada is out front and center in the “Five Eyes” intelligence agencies’ war on China’s Huawei – with direct prompting from US legislators and intelligence.  As explained by Col. Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Gen. Colin Powell, it’s not that Huawei violated any law when circumventing US sanctions but it is the US that is acting illegally by unilaterally imposing sanctions that were never agreed to internationally. But that’s OK – when it comes to Washington’s claims of jurisdiction over every human being on the planet, Justin and Chrystia are happy to oblige!

Also, let’s not forget Chrystia’s role in keeping the pot boiling in Ukraine. It would of course be cynical (and probably racist) to attribute anything relating to Ukraine to her own interesting family background …

To be fair, the lickspittle attitude of Canadian officials towards their masters south of the 49th parallel is hardly unique in the world. Also to be fair, it’s natural and would be generally beneficial for Canada to have a positive relationship with a powerful, kindred neighbor rather than a negative one. Think of Austria’s ties to Germany, or the Trans-Tasman relationship of Australia and New Zealand, or the links that still exist between Russia and Ukraine despite efforts by the west to set them against each other (as, for example, Spain and Portugal were at loggerheads for several centuries, when the latter was a loyal ally of Spain’s foe, Great Britain, to such an extent that Portugal was sometimes shown on maps and globes in the same pink as British possessions; a similar situation existed between Argentina and British ally Chile).

A close and mutually advantageous relationship is one thing, but Canada’s de facto loss of independence is another. Not only does the US control Canada’s diplomacy, military, and intelligence but also her financial system (with, among other levers, the notorious FATCA law, which places Canadian institutions under the supervision of the IRS, with Canada’s revenue service acting, care of the Canadian taxpayer, as a cat’s paw for not only the IRS but the NSA and other snooping agencies). As explained by one Canadian nationalist (yes, they do exist!), the redoubtable David Orchard, trade is also a critical issue:

‘Canada …, after almost three decades of “free trade” with the U.S., has more than $1.2 trillion in federal and provincial debt, large deficits at every level, no national child or dental care, high university tuition, miserly old age pensions, years of massive budget cuts, and giveaway prices for its exports of oil, gas, timber and minerals.

‘For 150 years, great Canadian leaders have warned that without an economic border with the United States, we would soon no longer have a political border.

‘We once owned the world’s largest farm machinery maker, Massey Harris, headquartered in Toronto; built the world’s largest and most respected marketer of wheat and barley, the Canadian Wheat Board, based in Winnipeg; created a great transcontinental railway system, beginning in Montreal, which tied our country together; and saw Vancouver’s shipyards produce the beautiful Fast Cat ferry.

‘Instead of spending hundreds of billions on foreign-made machinery, electronics, automobiles, ships, fighter jets and passenger aircraft (even payroll systems for federal employees!), we can build our own, both for the domestic and export market.

‘We once designed and built the world’s most advanced jet interceptor, the Avro Arrow, so we know it can be done. [Emphasis added] With Canada’s resources and ingenuity, it could create a prosperous, domestically controlled economy that would give Canadians multiple benefits, security and pride of ownership. All that is required is some of the will that drove our ancestors to create an alternate power in North America. As George-Étienne Cartier, the great Québécois Father of Confederation, put it, “Now everything depends on our patriotism.”’ [Note: Orchard is the author of the must-read book The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. To begin at the beginning, in the late 1680s, as part of English-French rivalry in North America, Massachusetts Puritans sought to root out the nest of popish deviltry known as Quebec. Following their disastrous 1690 defeat, they decided to fight Satan closer to home by hanging witches. The rest, as they say, is history…]

Scratch a Canadian patriot and you’ll hear about the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow. As a watershed moment in Canada’s downward slide into subservience, the cancellation of what by all accounts was a magnificent aircraft – and a snapshot of what Canada’s international competitiveness (including in advanced aerospace) could have looked like had it been able to develop independently – might have been the point of being sucked into the American vortex. As noted by one response to my suggestion that Ottawa’s stance on Venezuela amounted to Canada’s annexation by the US: “Canadian here…unfortunately, the above is true (not literally of course, but in practice). It goes back even before the time of Diefenbaker, who canceled our Avro Arrow program on demand from the US – thus destroying our aerospace industry and causing brain drain to the US/Europe.”

To this day, the decision of then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker to kill the Arrow project (and “put 14,528 Avro employees, as well as nearly 15,000 other employees in the Avro supply chain of outside suppliers, out of work”) on what came to be known as “Black Friday,” February 20, 1959, remains controversial and shrouded in mystery. A mix of budgetary, political, technological, and personality factors has been cited, none of them conclusive. Pressure from the US side, including unwillingness of Washington to purchase a Canadian aircraft when the US could pressure them to buy American planes and missiles, no doubt played a key role: “Instead of the CF-105, the RCAF invested in a variety of Century Series fighters from the United States. These included the F-104 Starfighter (46 percent of which were lost in Canadian service), and (more controversial, given the cancellation of the Arrow) the CF-101 Voodoo. The Voodoo served as an interceptor, but at a level of performance generally below that expected of the Arrow.”

While we may never know reliably why Diefenbaker cancelled the Arrow or how Canada or Canadian industry might have followed a different path, there’s no question of the superior capabilities of the Arrow. As it happens, one of the few pilots who had a chance to test the Arrow in an impromptu friendly dogfight is now-retired USAF fighter pilot Col. George Jatras, later US Air Attaché in Moscow (also, this analyst’s father). As he related in 2017:

‘I’ve received a number of messages in the last couple days about this bird, including some that say it may be revived. I don’t know how The Arrow would compare to today’s aircraft, but I had a first-hand lesson on how it faired against the F-102.

‘In 1959, I was stationed at Suffolk County AFB on Long Island with the 2nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron. We had an informal exchange program with a Canadian fighter squadron stationed near Montreal. From time to time, two or four aircraft from one of the squadrons would fly to the other’s base on a weekend cross country.

‘On one such exchange, I was #3 in a four ship formation led by [former Tuskegee airmanErnie Craigwell (I don’t recall who the other pilots were). As we entered Canadian airspace, cruising at about 40,000 ft., we spotted a contrail well above our altitude (probably at 50,000ft.) and closing very fast.  As the other aircraft appeared to be passing by, we could clearly see the delta shaped wing and knew it was the Avro Arrow that the Canadian pilots had told us about. Then, instead of just passing by, he rolled in on us! Ernie called for a break and we split into elements. When we talked about the encounter afterwards we all agreed that our first thought was, “This guy is in for a surprise; he doesn’t know that he’s taking on the F-102.”  Well, we were the ones in for a surprise. Even with two elements covering each other, not one of us could get on his tail. His power and maneuverability were awesome.  After he had played with us for a few minutes, like a cat with four mice, he zoomed back up to about 50K and went on his way. What an aircraft! What a shame that it never went into production.’

What is perhaps most curious about the Arrow’s demise is that “everything was ordered brutally destroyed; plans, tools, parts, and the completed planes themselves were to be cut up, destroyed, scrapped and everything made to disappear.”  Why? Well, security of course! Don’t engage in conspiracy theories …

The Canadian national anthem finishes with a pledge: “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.” It should be noted that understandably resentful Loyalists fleeing the US following the American Revolution were a major contribution to the growth of Canada’s English-speaking population. American troops – back when we were the plucky underdog fighting the mighty British Empire – invaded Canada in 1775 and during the War of 1812 but were defeated. Relations got testy during the American Civil War as well, and even afterwards the US was wary of a proposed united “Kingdom of Canada,” hence the choice of the name “Dominion” in 1967. If today’s Canadians think we-all down here don’t know whom they’ve mostly had in mind to “stand on guard” against all this time, they’d better think again.

Maybe it’s past time for Canadians to get serious again about their independence – eh?

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