There are two significant stories in circulation today: First, the early stages of a 'peace deal' in Ukraine, and a new political power is rising in Greece:
An agreement has been brokered in Minsk to stop hostilities in Ukraine from Sunday. The deal was reached after marathon talks between the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, and signed by the Ukrainian rebels.
“I believe we agreed on a big deal. We agreed to a ceasefire starting at 00:00 on February 15,”Russian President Vladimir Putin told the media after the talks were finished.
"The main thing achieved is that from Saturday into Sunday there should be declared - without any conditions at all - a general ceasefire," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told journalists in a separate statement.
A compromise decision was taken over the disengagement line, which was the biggest stumbling block in the negotiation. According to the document, Kiev’s troops would pull back heavy weapons from the current frontline. The rebels would pull back from the line as it existed in September, when the previous ceasefire agreement was signed.
The security zone separating the warring parties must be at least 50km wide for artillery over 100mm caliber, 70km for regular multiple rocket launchers and 100km for heavier weapons with a longer range, such as Tochka-U ballistic missiles, the document states.
The weapons pullout must start on Sunday and be completed in no longer than 14 days. The OSCE is charged with implementing the ceasefire on the ground and will use its drone fleet and monitors to verify that both parties are sticking to the deal.
The ceasefire deal provides for withdrawal of all "foreign troops, heavy weapons and mercenaries" from Ukraine under an OSCE monitoring. "Illegal armed groups" would be disarmed, but local authorities in the future would be allowed to have legal militia units.
The agreement involves exchange of all prisoners, which is to be completed within 19 days. A general amnesty for the rebels would be declared by Kiev.
The national government’s control over the borders between Donetsk and Lugansk Regions would be fully restored a day after municipal elections, which would be held in the regions as part of a profound constitutional reform.
The agreement requires a political reform in Ukraine to ensure decentralization and a special status for its rebel provinces. It requires Ukraine to adopt legislation which would provide permanent privileges to the Lugansk and Donetsk Regions, currently self-declared republics, by the end of 2015.
The legislation would include the right for language self-determination and trans-border ties with Russia, as well as the authority of the local governments to appoint local prosecutors and judges, the document states.
Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksandr Zakharchenko, who signed the Minsk document, said it required additional consultation and warned that “if these terms are broken, there will be no new meetings or memoranda.”
He added that he and Igor Plotnitsky, the head of Lugansk People’s Republic, agreed to sign the document “due to guarantees from the president of Russia, chancellor of Germany and president of France,” with the hope that it would allow their people to “achieve peaceful development.”
The new Minsk accord gives hope for de-escalation of the Ukrainian conflict, although it would require a major effort to build trust between the parties involved. The previous deal collapsed as neither Kiev nor the rebels implemented it fully, which means the threat of renewed hostilities in Ukraine continue to loom.
According to Stubb, if Merkel and Hollande are satisfied with the outcome of the Minsk talks, “the EU will not discuss further sanctions against Russia.
“If they say that the talks have failed, sanctions will ensue,” he added.
Vice-President of the EU Commission Federica Mogherini also said new sanctions against Russia were unlikely to be discussed at Thursday’s meeting, which was postponed by several hours due to the Minsk talks.
"I don't think today we will discuss sanctions," Mogherini told reporters. Rather, she said the talks would center on how “all possible EU means” can be activated to help sustain the ceasefire deal once it goes into effect.
Greece's radical new prime minister Alexis Tsipras was in Brussels on Thursday to lay out his case for more financial help to fellow EU leaders following finance ministers' failure to narrow differences overnight.
The summit chairman, conservative former Polish premier Donald Tusk, confessed to anxiety about Greece after the newly elected left-wing government, riding a wave of anti-austerity sentiment, refused to sign up to any extension of a deeply unpopular bailout package that expires in just two weeks.
"Oh yes," Tusk said with theatrical emphasis when asked by reporters if he was worried about what Germany and other euro zone states fear could be a rerun of financial chaos if Tsipras does not accept their conditions on cash to tide Athens over.
Tsipras himself told reporters there should be a deal that would restore Europe's dynamism and he renewed his promise to improve Greek state finances while relieving the burden on the poor.
After Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis walked away from a tentative joint statement with the 18 other euro members in the early hours of Thursday in Brussels, finance ministers in the Eurogroup will meet again on Monday to seek a compromise.
Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, a hardliner on the need for Greece to stick with efforts to cut its massive debt and control state spending, echoed Tusk.
Stubb, who is fighting for re-election and needs time to put a new Greek deal to the Finnish parliament for ratification, described himself as definitely worried. "Time is running out," he said. "We need a deal on Monday."
A Greek official in Brussels reaffirmed on Thursday that Tsipras would not accept any extension of the current bailout, which he says has destroyed the Greek economy and needs to be replaced by policies that will pump cash into society to promote growth that can help Athens pays its debts.
Looking as casually confident as when he had arrived at his first such talks, Varoufakis said he hoped for a "healing deal" on Monday and stressed that, while much remained undone, "not finding a solution is not in our rationale".
Before reading the next article, the usual caveats apply:
1. We should be looking for Christ's Return, not the appearance of the AC (although it is interesting and part of prophecy watching to see the emergence of powerful figures within the revived roman empire)
2. As stated by Terry James, what we may be seeing is an archetype of the leader who will come to be the first beast of Revelation 13.
3. The Church, by definition will not know who becomes this figure based upon the timing of the beginning of the Tribulation in relation to the Gathering Up.
However, this information is growing in widespread circulation and to ignore it would be inappropriate
As EU politicians failed to reach a Greek debt deal in Brussels, thousands of people poured onto the streets of Athens and other large cities to protest austerity and voice support for the recently elected Syriza party.
Eurozone finance ministers have made progress in discussions with Greece following hours of talks on Wednesday. The talks on whether to extend an international bailout to Athens will continue during the next scheduled meeting on Monday, as the sides could not agree on another meeting before then.
"We explored a number of issues, one of which was the current program," Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said. "We discussed the possibility of an extension. For some that is clear that is preferred option but we haven't come to that conclusion as yet.”
Greece has confirmed there was no agreement, adding that “negotiations will continue with the goal of a mutually beneficial agreement.”
“An extension of the memorandum cannot be accepted,” a statement from Athens reads. Greece's new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, is negotiating to adjust conditions of the $284 billion bailout memorandum, agreed by a previous government in 2012.
According to his recent statements, Varoufakis is looking to scrap about 30 percent of the conditions, which came attached with the previous loans. He is also seeking to secure an extension for further talks, funded by a loan that will allow the government to fulfill its obligations.
Most EU officials were skeptical about agreeing to any deal on Wednesday, with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble saying the talks would give a chance to demarcate “red lines.”
The political centre across southern Europe is disintegrating. Establishment parties of centre-left and centre-right - La Casta, as they say in Spain - have successively immolated themselves enforcing EMU debt-deflation.
Spain's neo-Bolivarian Podemos party refuses to fade. It has endured crippling internal rifts. It has shrugged off hostile press coverage over financial ties to Venezuela. Nothing sticks.
The insurrectionists who came from nowhere last year - with Trotskyist roots and more radical views than those of Syriza in Greece - are pulling further ahead in the polls. The latest Metroscopia survey gave Podemos 28pc. The ruling conservatives have dropped to 21pc.
As matters stand, Podemos is on track to win the Spanish elections in November on a platform calling for the cancellation of "unjust debt", a reversal of labour reforms, public control over energy, the banks, and the commanding heights of the economy, and withdrawal from Nato.
Europe's policy elites can rail angrily at the folly of these plans if they wish, but they must answer why ex-Trotskyists with a plan to dismantle market capitalism are taking a major EMU state by storm. It is what happens 5.46m people lack jobs, when 2m households still have no earned income, when youth unemployment is still running at 51.4pc, and home prices are down 42pc, six years into a depression.
It is pointless protesting that Spain's economy is turning the corner, a contested claim in any case. There comes a point when a society breaks and stops believing anything its leaders say.
The EU elites themselves have run their currency experiment into the ground by imposing synchronized monetary, fiscal, and banking contraction on the southern half of EMU, in defiance of known economic science and the lessons of the 1930s. It is they who pushed the eurozone into deflation, and thereby pushed the debtor states further into compound-interest traps.
The revolt in Italy has different contours but is just as dangerous for Brussels. Italians may not wish to leave the euro but political consent for the project but broken down. All three opposition parties are now anti-euro in one way or another. Beppe Grillo's Five Star movement - with 108 seats in parliament - is openly calling for a return to the lira.
Mr Grillo proclaims that Syriza is carrying the torch for all the long-suffering peoples of southern Europe, as it is in a sense.
"What’s happening to Greece today, will be happening to Italy tomorrow. Sooner or later, default is coming," he said.