“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group.” – Franklin D Roosevelt [Source: Think Exist]
THE GUARDIAN: Greek prime minister travels to meet creditors to thrash out differences over his proposed cuts to try to avoid eurozone’s first default
Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, is to travel to Brussels on Wednesday for critical talks with the country’s creditors as the outlines of the latest proposed deal to avoid bankruptcy threatened to unravel, worsening the intractable crisis.
In advance of the third meeting of eurozone finance ministers in less than a week, Tsipras was summoned to the office of Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, to try to thrash out remaining differences.
Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who runs the Eurogroup committee of finance ministers, are to confront Tsipras over his tax raises and spending cuts tabled on Monday in the hope of securing more bailout funds and avoiding default next week. » | Ian Traynor and Jennifer Rankin in Brussels and Helena Smith in Athens | Tuesday, June 23, 2015
BBC AMERICA: If I had any doubts about the dire state of the Greek banking system, and why it matters so much for the Greek government to reach an agreement with creditors today to escape default, those doubts were dispelled in an interview with the chairman of Greece's fourth-biggest bank, Nikolaos Karamouzis.
Mr Karamouzis confirmed to me that the European Central Bank (ECB) has agreed to keep Greek banks alive today.
But he warned there was a genuine risk of Greek banks being forced to close their doors tomorrow and cease dispensing cash for days, if the Greek government led by Alexis Tsipras fails today to convince eurozone finance ministers and government heads that it is taking credible steps to balance its books. (+ BBC video) » | Robert Peston, Economics editor | Monday, June 22, 2015
BBC AMERICA: Greece's central bank has warned for the first time that the country could be on a "painful course" to default and exit from both the eurozone and the EU.
It comes as the Greek government and its international creditors blamed each other for failing to reach a deal over economic reforms.
That failure is holding up the release of €7.2bn (£5.2bn) in bailout funds.
About €30bn was withdrawn from Greek bank deposits between October and April, the central bank added.
The central bank also warned the country's economic slowdown would accelerate without a deal.
"Failure to reach an agreement would... mark the beginning of a painful course that would lead initially to a Greek default and ultimately to the country's exit from the euro area and, most likely, from the European Union," the Bank of Greece said in a report.
"Striking an agreement with our partners is a historical imperative that we cannot afford to ignore." » | Wednesday, June 17, 2015
THE GUARDIAN: Tsipras’s abrasive tone and accusations of ‘criminal conduct’ by IMF stokes more anger as EU officials prepare to gather at Luxembourg last chance saloon
Fears that the five-year Greek financial crisis will culminate in debt default and exit from the euro have intensified as Athens hardened its rhetoric against its creditors and insisted it would miss a payment to the International Monetary Fund unless it received debt relief.
With just 48 hours to go before a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, seen as the last realistic chance to reach a deal before Greece has to pay the IMF at the end of June, Alexis Tsipras, showed no sign of bowing to demands for cuts in pensions and increases in VAT. Instead, the Greek prime minister accused the Fund of “criminal responsibility” for the situation and said lenders were seeking to “humiliate” his country.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, reflected the anger in Brussels at the way Tsipras has been approaching the deadlocked negotiations by saying he had “sympathy for the Greek people but not the Greek government”. Juncker was until recently rated as one of Tsipras’s only allies.
EU officials were on Tuesday night making preparations for a crisis meeting of leaders on Sunday if, as now expected, the talks between finance ministers on Thursday prove fruitless. Amid the third straight day of sharp declines on the Athens stock market, EU leaders are for the first time talking openly about Greek default and its ejection from the euro. » | Larry Elliott, Ian Traynor in Brussels, and Helena Smith in Athens | Tuesday, June 16, 2015
THE TELEGRAPH: Embattled country could be forced out by Germany after politicians warn 'enough is enough' as it lurches towards default on €1.5bn debt
Greece is on the brink of economic meltdown after Germany appeared poised to push the country out of the eurozone.
With the embattled country set to default on a €1.5billion (£1.1billion) debt repayment, senior German politicians warned that “enough is enough”.
London’s FTSE 100 slipped 1.1 per cent to a three-month low on Monday as investors reacted to Greece’s failure to reach a deal with its creditors.
Global oil prices also fell after negotiations collapsed after just 45 minutes on Sunday, amid fears that Greece is now heading towards financial catastrophe.
As the crisis intensified, it emerged that George Osborne, the Chancellor, will later this week chair an emergency meeting as ministers seek to protect Britain’s economy from a potential Greek exit from the single currency - dubbed a Grexit.
Officials want to ensure that the Government has “contingency plans” in place to ensure that UK businesses are not damaged by a Greek withdrawal. » | Peter Dominiczak, Political Editor | Tuesday, June 16, 2015
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Secret documents seen by the Telegraph disclose details of private jets, five-star hotel stays and police guards funded by taxpayer
The scale of Tony Blair’s globe-trotting is exposed for the first time in secret documents that suggest the taxpayer is paying up to £16,000 a week to help the former prime minister build his business empire.
Documents seen by The Telegraph contain details of Mr Blair’s travels around the world, accompanied by a squad of police bodyguards, flying on private jets and staying in five-star hotels.
The files suggest Mr Blair has used identical trips to carry out both private business meetings and talks in his capacity as Quartet Representative to the Middle East – leaving him open to accusations of a potential conflict of interest.
The documents show how Mr Blair has been visiting up to five countries a week – at a potential cost of between £14,000 and £16,000 to the public purse.
One British ambassador described how a number of companies linked to Mr Blair, including his wife’s law firm, were “sniffing for work” in one European country.
During the trips Mr Blair must be accompanied by a team of Metropolitan Police officers, whose salary, overtime, expenses, travel and meals are picked up by the taxpayer. The most complex trips involve eight officers of varying ranks, while at least four remain at his homes in Britain. Each of the 12 officers is likely to be earning at least £56,000, but can earn upwards of £70,000 due to the overtime they accumulate on foreign trips.
Documents seen by the Telegraph as part of an investigation into Mr Blair’s business interests show how he has nurtured a network of some of the world’s most influential leaders and businessmen to build up a roster of clients paying tens of millions of pounds for his advice. » | Edward Malnick, Claire Newell, Robert Mendick and Luke Heighton | Thursday, June 11, 2015
BBC AMERICA: A Grexit (Greek exit) from the single currency would break a taboo and set a precedent, the former president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso has told BBC HARDtalk.
There was a possibility Greece would leave the euro, Mr Barroso said but he believed that it would not happen and trusted there would be "commonsense and wisdom" on the side of the Greek government and some "spirit of accommodation" from the other countries.
The euro is "credible, strong and stable," and would survive Greece leaving the single currency he added. (+ BBC video) » | Wednesday, June 10, 2015
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The Chancellor will use a speech at the Mansion House to commit to a new “fiscal settlement" to enshrine in law a commitment to permanently run a surplus.
George Osborne will today pledge to ensure that Britain does not "give up on the future" with a new law to guarantee that the country always has money to spare in the event of an economic crisis.
The Chancellor will use a speech at the Mansion House to commit to a new “fiscal settlement" to enshrine in law a commitment to permanently run a surplus.
Mr Osborne will force a Commons vote on the issue in a bid to pile pressure on Labour to support the new rules.
The Chancellor will also announce that for the first time in more than 150 years, the Committee of the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt will formally meet. » | Peter Dominiczak, Political Editor | Wednesday, June 10, 2015
DAILY EXPRESS: IN a stark warning to EU leaders, Greece has warned that if it's allowed to plunge into bankruptcy it would be the "beginning of the end" for the eurozone.
The debt-stricken country's Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has raised the stakes as his government submitted yet another draft proposal to its creditors over the terms of an urgently-needed EU bailout loan.
Commenting on a potential Greek exit from the euro in an interview in Italy, Mr Tsipras said: "It would be the beginning of the end of the eurozone.
"If the European political leadership cannot handle a problem like that of Greece, which accounts for two per cent of its economy, what would the reaction of the markets be to countries facing much larger problems, such as Spain or Italy which has two trillion of public debt?"
He added: "If Greece fails markets will go now to look for the next. If the negotiation fails, the cost to European taxpayers will be huge." Read on and comment » | Lana Clements | Tuesday, June 09, 2015
ARUTZ SHEVA: Partner owner Haim Saban says Orange gave in to anti-Semitic pressure in 'dumping' Israel, and warns of response.
In response to the announcement Thursday by French-based cell phone company Orange that it wants to cut ties with Partner, the Israeli company that franchises its name in the Jewish state, Partner is considering launching a massive lawsuit against the company.
Billionaire Haim Saban, the US-based majority shareholder of Partner, told Channel 2 on Thursday night that Orange "gave in to pressure from all sorts of anti-Semitic bodies. In every generation they rise against us to destroy us; we are strong and we will be unified and fight against them."
The flare-up started on Wednesday, when Orange CEO Stephane Richard said in Cairo that he wanted to "dump" Israel "tomorrow" if he could.
Given that Orange is partially publicly owned by the French government, Saban noted that "the French government should have gotten up and said its piece, and announce that it is completely disconnected from the statements of the Orange CEO."
Speaking to Yediot Aharonoth, Saban explained that "Partner is completely an Israeli company. We signed a contract with them and we are considering our steps in response to the declaration." » | Ari Yashar | Thursday, June 04, 2015