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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.”

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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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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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Paul Craig Roberts: The Disintegration of Western Society

Feminists brought this madness onto themselves.

Paul Craig Roberts

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Authored by Paul Craig Roberts:


Radical feminists are now being banned by Twitter not because they hate men, which is perfectly OK as far as Twitter is concerned, but because they object to “transwomen.”

What is a “transwoman?” As far as I can understand, a “transwoman” is a male with a penis who declares himself to be a women and demands his right to use women’s toilette facilities along with the women who are using them.

The feminist, Meghan Murphy, twittered a statement and a question:

“Men are not women.”

“How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between men and transwomen?”

Twitter described this as “hateful conduct” and banned Meghan Murphy. https://quillette.com/2018/11/28/twitters-trans-activist-decree/

There you have it. Yesterday it was feminists who were exercising their special society-bestowed privileges to censor. Today it is the feminists who are being censored. As this insanity of “Western Civilization” continues, tomorrow it will be the transwomen who are censored and banned.

What precisely is afoot?

My readers, who have partially and some wholly escaped from The Matrix, understand that this is the further fragmentation of American society. Identity Politics has set men, women, blacks, Jews, Asians, Hispanics, and white people against one another. Identity Politics is the essence of the Democratic Party and the American liberal/progressive/left. Now, with the creation of “new” but otherwise nonexistent “genders,” although they are honored as real by the controlled whores who masquerade as a “Western media,” we witness radical feminists being silenced by men pretending to be women.

I sympathize with Meghan Murphy, but she brought this on herself and on the rest of us by accepting Identity Politics. Identity Politics gave Meghan a justification for hating men even, as she failed to realize, it provided the basis for moving her into the exploitative class that must be censored.

Where does this end?

It has already gone far enough that the American population is so divided and mutually hostile that there is no restraint by “the American people” on government and the elite oligarchs that rule. “The American people” are no longer a reality but a mythical creature like the unicorn.

The film, The Matrix, is the greatest film of out lifetime. Why? Because it shows that there are two realities. A real one of which only a few people are aware, and a virtual one in which eveyone else lives.

In the United States today, and throughout “Western Brainwashed Civilization,” only a handful of people exist who are capable of differentiating the real from the created reality in which all explanations are controlled and kept as far away from the truth as possible. Everything that every Western government and “news” organization says is a lie to control the explanations that we are fed in order to keep us locked in The Matrix.

The ability to control people’s understandings is so extraordinary that, despite massive evidence to the contrary, Americans believe that Oswald, acting alone, was the best shot in human history and using magic bullets killed President John F. Kenndy; that a handful of Saudi Arabians who demonstratively could not fly airplanes outwitted the American national security state and brought down 3 World Trade Center skyscrapers and part of the Pentagon; that Saddam Hussein had and was going to use on the US “weapons of mass destruction;” that Assad “used chemical weapons” against “his own people;” that Libya’s Gaddifi gave his soldiers Viagra so they could better rape Libyan women; that Russia “invaded Ukraine;” that Trump and Putin stole the presidential election from Hillary.

The construction of a make-believe reality guarantees the US military/security complex’s annual budget of $1,000 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money even as Congress debates cutting Social Security in order to divert more largess to the pockets of the corrupt military/security complex.

Readers ask me what they can do about it. Nothing, except revolt and cleanse the system, precisely as Founding Father Thomas Jefferson said.

Is Thomas Jefferson Alive and Well In Paris?

If this report is correct, pray the revolt spreads to the US.

https://www.infowars.com/video-french-police-remove-helmets-in-solidarity-with-yellow-vest-protesters/

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Google Employees debated burying conservative media in search

Google engineer Scott Byer falsely labeled The Daily Caller and Breitbart as “opinion blogs” and urged his coworkers to reduce their visibility in search results.

The Daily Caller

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Via The Daily Caller


  • Google employees debated whether to bury The Daily Caller and other conservative media outlets in the company’s search function as a response to President Donald Trump’s election
  • “Let’s make sure that we reverse things in four years,” one engineer wrote in a thread that included a Google vice president
  • Google employees similarly sought to manipulate search results to combat Trump’s travel ban

Google employees debated whether to bury conservative media outlets in the company’s search function as a response to President Donald Trump’s election in 2016, internal Google communications obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation reveal.

The Daily Caller and Breitbart were specifically singled out as outlets to potentially bury, the communications reveal.

Trump’s election in 2016 shocked many Google employees, who had been counting on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to win.

Communications obtained by TheDCNF show that internal Google discussions went beyond expressing remorse over Clinton’s loss to actually discussing ways Google could prevent Trump from winning again.

“This was an election of false equivalencies, and Google, sadly, had a hand in it,” Google engineer Scott Byer wrote in a Nov. 9, 2016, post reviewed by TheDCNF.

Byer falsely labeled The Daily Caller and Breitbart as “opinion blogs” and urged his coworkers to reduce their visibility in search results.

“How many times did you see the Election now card with items from opinion blogs (Breitbart, Daily Caller) elevated next to legitimate news organizations? That’s something that can and should be fixed,” Byer wrote.

“I think we have a responsibility to expose the quality and truthfulness of sources – because not doing so hides real information under loud noises,” he continued.

“Beyond that, let’s concentrate on teaching critical thinking. A little bit of that would go a long way. Let’s make sure that we reverse things in four years – demographics will be on our side.”

Some of Byer’s colleagues expressed concern that manipulating search results could backfire and suggested alternative measures

One Google engineer, Uri Dekel, identified himself as a Clinton supporter but argued that manipulating search results was the wrong route to take.

“Thinking that Breitbart, Drudge, etc. are not ‘legitimate news sources’ is contrary to the beliefs of a major portion of our user base is partially what got us to this mess. MSNBC is not more legit than Drudge just because Rachel Maddow may be more educated / less deplorable / closer to our views, than, say Sean Hannity,” Dekel wrote in a reply to Byer.

“I follow a lot of right wing folks on social networks you could tell something was brewing. We laughed off Drudge’s Instant Polls and all that stuff, but in the end, people go to those sources because they believe that the media doesn’t do it’s job. I’m a Hillary supporter and let’s admit it, the media avoided dealing with the hard questions and issues, which didn’t pay off. By ranking ‘legitimacy’ you’ll just introduce more conspiracy theories,” Dekel added.

“Too many times, Breitbart is just echoing a demonstrably made up story,” Byer wrote in a reply to his original post. He did not cite any examples.

“That happens at MSNBC, too. I don’t want a political judgement. The desire is to break the myth feedback loop, the false equivalency, instead of the current amplification of it,” Byer added.

“What I believe we can do, technically, that avoids the accusations of conspiracy or bias from people who ultimately have a right and obligation to decide what they want to believe, is to get better at displaying the ‘ripples’ and copy-pasta, to trace information to its source, to link to critiques of those sources, and let people decide what sources they believe,” another Google engineer, Mike Brauwerman, suggested.

“Give people a comprehensive but effectively summarized view of the information, not context-free rage-inducing sound-bytes,” he added.

“We’re working on providing users with context around stories so that they can know the bigger picture,” chimed in David Besbris, vice president of engineering at Google.

“We can play a role in providing the full story and educate them about all sides. This doesn’t have to be filtering and can be useful to everyone,” he wrote.

Other employees similarly advocated providing contextual information about media sources in search results, and the company later did so with a short-lived fact check at the end of 2017.

Not only did the fact-check feature target conservative outlets almost exclusively, it was also blatantly wrong. Google’s fact check repeatedly attributed false claims to those outlets, even though they demonstrably never made those claims.

Google pulled the faulty fact-check program in January, crediting TheDCNF’s investigation for the decision.

A Google spokeswoman said that the conversation did not lead to manipulation of search results for political purposes.

“This post shows that far from suppressing Breitbart and Daily Caller, we surfaced these sites regularly in our products. Furthermore, it shows that we value providing people with the full view on stories from a variety of sources,” the spokeswoman told TheDCNF in an email.

“Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology. Our processes and policies do not allow for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”

The discussion about whether to bury conservative media outlets isn’t the first evidence that some Google employees have sought to manipulate search results for political ends.

After Trump announced his initial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed ways to manipulate search results in order to push back against the president’s order.

A group of employees brainstormed ways to counter “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc,” as well as “prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”

WATCH:

Trump speculated to The Daily Caller in September that Google and Facebook are trying to affect election outcomes.

“I think they already have,” Trump said, responding to questions about potential election interference by Google and Facebook.

“I mean the true interference in the last election was that — if you look at all, virtually all of those companies are super liberal companies in favor of Hillary Clinton,” he added.

“Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter and I’m good at social media, but the truth is they were all on Hillary Clinton’s side, and if you look at what was going on with Facebook and with Google and all of it, they were very much on her side,” Trump continued.

Google this month corrected a “knowledge panel” about a Republican women’s group that labeled them “enablers.”

Google cited Wikipedia for the disparaging description, though a similar change made to Wikipedia’s page for the women’s group was corrected almost immediately. Google left up the digital vandalism for three weeks.

Google apologized in May after search results for the California Republican Party falsely listed “Nazism” as one of the state party’s ideologies.

Then, too, Google blamed manipulation of the party’s Wikipedia page for the inaccurate and disparaging description.

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