Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Brexit: Win Or Lose, EU Going The Way Of Soviet Union, China Lambasts U.S. Aircraft Carrier Deployment, Putin: Russia Must Strengthen As 'Aggressive ' NATO Approaches

 Brexit: Win or Lose, EU Going the Way of Soviet Union

Although the polls suggest that British voters seem ready to vote “Bremain” in their June 23 referendum on European Union membership, the possibility of the “Brexit” caused Switzerland to withdraw its application to join, and other EU states to demand referendums. Win or lose, the EU seems to be going the way of the Soviet Union.

Recent opinion polls show the “leave” and “remain” camps in a neck-and-neck contest for the 10-15 percent of the British population that is still undecided. But traditionally, close polls favor the status quo.
If the “leave” camp wins the referendum, the actual “Brexit” could take years to implement. According to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, passed during the Greece crisis in December 2009, members that want to leave the Continental bloc must first negotiate the terms of their exit with the EU bureaucracy to develop a framework for their future relationship with Europe, according to Stratfor Global Intelligence.
The process is technically limited to a two-year transition, but that clock would not start running until the UK government’s bureaucracy chooses officially to “notify the European Union of its intentions.” Because that provision has never been invoked, it is unclear how comprehensive a withdrawal agreement would have to be structured to satisfy Rule 50.
The UK would remain a full-member of the EU, and still be considered a full EU member bound by the bloc’s rules and treaties until all the exit negotiations had been concluded with the EU bureaucracy. The earliest that could be completed is late 2018.
If a withdrawal agreement were finally negotiated, it would then need to be passed by a vote of the European Council, as well as by the full European and British parliaments. If any party voted against the agreement, then all the parties would have to go back to the negotiating table.

The Brits could just leave, but that would disrupt relationships with their largest trading partner and make the talks between London and Brussels even more difficult. There also is no provision in Article 50 that allows a country that had notified the EU of its decision to withdrawal to change its mind and decide to stay.

To frighten UK voters into voting “Bremain,” the British Treasury published an economic “model” that estimates a Brexit would reduce Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per household in the UK in 2030 by $6,321. The Treasuryis making the false assumption that the world’s fifth largest economy will never be able to negotiate any trade agreements with EU members after a Brexit.
But the economics of the EU are increasingly disadvantageous for the UK. The British still pay approximately 12 percent of the EU budget, despite the share of UK exports going to the EU withering from 54 percent in 2006 to 44 percent in 2015.
Stratfor believes that if voters approve the referendum, Germany would want to come to a quick settlement agreement in order to minimize any financial instability. But Stratfor also believes that France will want to be very vindictive, to send a message to the Eurosceptic parties that have spread across the EU. This conflict among the EU’s largest economies could create real chaos.
The Swiss had applied to join the EU. But watching the European establishment’s dishonesty in trying to defeat a Brexit, the Swiss Parliament just voted 27 to 13 on June 16 to rescind the application to join the EU.
What may be the beginning of the end of the European Union has great similarities to the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union of Socialist Republics, whose 1977 Constitution Article 72 stated, “Each Union Republic shall retain the right freely to secede from the USSR.”

Citi researchers said on Wednesday they believed Britain would vote on Thursday by a close margin to remain in the European Union but that such a close vote could still undermine political stability in both the United Kingdom and the 28-member bloc.
"We see a 60 percent chance that the majority of British voters will choose 'Remain' in the 23 June EU referendum," Citi said in a research note to clients. "A 'Close Remain' (our base case) could still undermine UK/EU political stability."
"A vote to 'Leave' would have major repercussions in global financial markets, the economy and politics, triggering substantial downward revisions of UK and European growth forecasts," Citi said.
The implied probability of a vote to remain in the European Union was 75 percent, according to Betfair betting odds.

Britain’s right-leaning Daily Mail newspaper has come out in support of leaving the European Union, an emailed copy of the front page of its Wednesday edition showed.

The Daily Mail’s front page called on its readers to vote “Leave” in Thursday’s referendum.
“Lies. Greedy elites. Or a great future outside a broken, dying Europe…If you believe in Britain vote Leave,” it said.
The Daily Mail, owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust, is Britain’s second biggest-selling newspaper with a daily circulation of about 1.5 million in April.
The Daily Mail’s declaration put it at odds with sister paper, Mail on Sunday, which declared for the “Remain” campaign on Saturday.

Boris Johnson stole the debate last night with his closing speech urging voters to make Thursday Britain’s ‘Independence Day ‘ — a rousing call for democracy, self-belief and sovereignty which was booed by Remain supporters.

Throughout the BBC’s debate on membership of the European Union (EU) Boris Johnson was attacked by the Remain team. His successor as Mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, was particularly vociferous, accusing his predecessor of running “Project Hate” and telling “big fat lies”.
At one point David Dimbleby — the presenter charged with keeping the debaters and Wembley Arena’s 6,000 strong audience in control — even felt the need to tell Mr. Khan to “cool it”.

Unfortunately for her, Mr. Johnson was given the final word which he used to deliver a rousing speech setting out the “very clear choice between those who speak of nothing but fear about the consequences of leaving the EU, and those on our side who speak of hope.” He concluded:
“They say we cannot do it. We say we can. They say we have no choice but to bend down to Brussels. We say they are woefully underestimating this country and what we can achieve. If we vote to leave and take back control, I believe this Thursday could be our country’s Independence Day.”
This won the loudest most sustained cheers of the night, and the only standing ovation. Remain supporters in Wembley Arena were so enraged they felt the need to boo and jeer.

China's top newspaper strongly criticized the United States on Wednesday after it deployed two aircraft carriers on a training mission in East Asia where military tensions have risen amid China's growing assertiveness.
The U.S. carriers John C. Stennis and Ronald Reagan began joint operations in seas east of the Philippines at the weekend in a show of strength ahead of an international court ruling expected soon on China's expansive territorial claims in the contested South China Sea.
"The U.S. picked the wrong target in playing this trick on China," the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, said in a commentary. 
It was published under the pen name "Zhong Sheng," a Chinese-language homonym for the phrase "voice of China" that is often used to express the paper's views on foreign policy.
"Behind this misjudgment is Washington's anxiety and arrogance, and it is the true expression of its hegemonic nature," the paper added.

Russia must boost its combat readiness in response to NATO's "aggressive actions" near Russia's borders, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
Addressing parliament on the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, Putin berated the West for being unwilling to build "a modern, non-bloc collective security system" with Russia.
"Russia is open to discuss this crucial issue and has more than once shown its readiness for dialogue," he said. "But, just as it happened on the eve of World War Two, we do not see a positive reaction in response."
"On the contrary, NATO is strengthening its aggressive rhetoric and its aggressive actions near our borders. In these conditions, we are duty-bound to pay special attention to solving the task of strengthening the combat readiness of our country."
The U.S.-led military alliance is increasing its defenses in Poland and the three Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as part of a wider deterrent that it hopes will discourage Russia from any repetition of its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014.
Russia sees NATO's deterrence plans as hostile.

Venezuelans are starving, and they are tired of waiting in line.

In a revolt against president Nicolás Maduro’s flailing government, they are increasingly turning to rioting and looting to feed themselves. In the city of Cumaná they raided more than 100 supermarkets (link in Spanish) and other food stores last week. Hundreds were arrested; one died.
The situation is desperate. Price controls combined with the scarcity of goods have resulted in skyrocketing inflation. At current prices, it would take more than 20 times the minimum wage (Spanish) to buy basic foodstuffs for a family of five, according to the research arm of a teacher’s union. Nearly 90% of the population can’t afford to buy enough food, according to a living-standards assessment by Simón Bolivar University. Even those with money can’t find basic products amid empty supermarket shelves.

A door-to-door distribution system set up by Maduro earlier this year to prevent goods from entering the black market has only increased frustration. Run by political allies, it is being seen by many as a government tool (Spanish) to benefit supporters.

Venezuela’s food woes are adding to a wave of violence and crime, energy shortages, and the grinding down of the country’s economic activity. More than 70,000 Venezuelans lined up on Monday (June 20), to validate their signatures calling for a referendum to remove Maduro as president. They have until Friday to prove that at least 200,000 people back the referendum. The original petition was signed by close to two million people.

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