Thursday, June 16, 2011

Daily Headlines

As the situation in Greece continues to deteriorate, one has to wonder when other countries, such as America will have similar experiences. One can't help but to view Greece as the "canary in the coalmine" for future countries who are headed down the same road.

Violence in Athens over Greek debt crisis

Violence in Athens and the failure of European leaders to resolve their disagreements over the Greek debt crisis combined to rattle credit markets again on Wednesday.

Government reshuffle as Greece gets desperate

Against a backdrop of violent anti-austerity protests Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is planning a major government reshuffle as he struggles to keep his party in line over the conditions of the EU/IMF bailout. He will then seek a confidence vote on Tuesday.

Papandreou is desperate to push through an austerity package to avoid default on a 110 billion euro EU/IMF bailout loan.

In yet another furious protest tens of thousands poured onto the streets of Athens on Wednesday to demonstrate against the bailout deal.

Millions strike in Greece over austerity plans

Greece, the sickest patient in the ailing eurozone, was rocked yesterday by a nationwide strike of millions of workers and hours of rioting in street protests against the government's austerity plans.

Earlier, protesters hurled petrol bombs at the finance ministry and fought with police in central Athens as they tried to prevent MPs from entering parliament to discuss planned new spending cuts and tax rises to stave off a default. Youths smashed store fronts and pulled up paving stones to throw at riot police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

For the past three weeks, protesters have camped out in a square facing parliament, calling on the government to withdraw its plans. They had called for a human chain to encircle parliament, but the blockade was broken by hundreds of police officers who held back crowds to allow official cars to drive up to the building. Street battles spilled into the main shopping area of the capital as store owners hurriedly rolled down metal shutters.

UPDATE:Europe Faces 'Lehman Moment' in Greece

Here we see the world-wide implications resulting from the situation in Greece:

The European Union’s failure to contain the Greek debt crisis is sending fresh shockwaves through currencies, money markets, equities and derivatives.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008 caused credit markets worldwide to freeze as investors fled all but the safest government debt.

“The probability of a eurozone Lehman moment is increasing,” said Neil Mackinnon, an economist at VTB Capital in London and a former U.K. Treasury official. “The markets have moved from simply pricing in a high probability of a Greek debt default to looking at a scenario of it becoming disorderly and of contagion spreading to other economies like Portugal, like Ireland, and maybe Spain, Italy and Belgium.”

Turning to the ongoing famine story:

Wet weather affects Prarie wheat seeding

The Canadian Wheat Board says this year could be even worse than 2010, sucking an additional $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion out of the Prairie economy.

On Tuesday, the board said between 2.4 and 3.2 million hectares of farmland is still unseeded across the Prairies this year because of wet weather.

"This is occurring at a time when grain prices are extremely high, adding insult to injury," said Bruce Burnett, the board's director of weather and market analysis.

"Many farmers in the wettest areas have planted next to nothing this spring, while others are watching their newly emerged crops drown," Burnett said.

Europe Braces for Serious Crop Losses and Blackouts

One of the driest spring seasons on record in northern Europe has sucked soils dry and sharply reduced river levels to the point that governments are starting to fear crop losses and France, in particular, is bracing for blackouts as its river-cooled nuclear power plants may be forced to shut down.

French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire warned this week that the warmest and driest spring in half a century could slash wheat yields and might even push up world prices

It is hard to go through a 24 hour news cycle these days without a story involving Iran:

Iran 'speeds up missile development'

Iran has accelerated efforts to develop a long-range ballistic missile, despite tough international sanctions imposed a year ago, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported, citing an unpublished report by U.N. experts.

At the same time, The Jerusalem Post quoted another U.N. report as saying Iran conducted unannounced test-firings of two of its most advanced missiles, the Shibah-3b and the Sejjil-1, in February.

These accounts coincide with a third U.N. report, by the International Atomic Energy Agency, dated May 24 that indicated the Iranians may be close to producing a nuclear warhead that could be carried by their intermediate-range ballistic weapons.

In and around Israel:

European Parliament: East Jerusalem should be Palestinian capital

The European Parliament supports the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, its president said Wednesday. It embraced the vision for peace in the Middle East as outlined by U.S. President Barack Obama in a May 19 address in Washington, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek said.

But he backed the Palestinians on the issue of Jerusalem, explicitly saying East Jerusalem should become the capital of their state.

Gaza flotilla will still sail, say organizers

Organizers of the Gaza flotilla said Wednesday that they are determined to set sail even if the heads of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH ) do not participate. The flotilla is currently scheduled to depart in one week to mark the anniversary of last year's raid by Israel on the Gaza-bound flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists died.

Last preparations before restart of Israel-Palestinian talks

The final touches on US President Barack Obama's push to revive Israel-Palestinian negotiations, stalled for nearly two years, are being put in place by his Middle East advisers David Hale and Dennis Ross and the legal adviser to the National Security Council Jonathan Schwartz who arrived in Israel Tuesday, June 14.

According to DEBKAfile's Washington sources, both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas have quietly committed to sit down and talk without prior conditions: The Prime Minister has dropped his demand for Abbas to first recognize Israel as the Jewish national state, while the Palestinian leader has abandoned the prior conditions for Israel to accept the 1967 lines as the starting point of the talks and halt settlement construction.

Unbelievable and a sign of our times. So it isn't a 'precondition' for the PA to recognize Israel's right to exist. Amazing.

With these obstacles out of the way, Israeli-Palestinian talks are expected to restart within the next six weeks and if they go smoothly to keep going until August.

The plan is for the three leaders to retire to behind closed doors after their initial joint photo op and launch their first round of talks. The exact location is one of the loose ends to be tied up this week. Complete secrecy will be observed. US officials and other authorized spokesmen will issue bulletins when deemed appropriate.

Obama is keen to get the Israeli and Palestinian leaders round the peace table in time for his reelection campaign - a diplomatic feat that has eluded him for two years.

Never Again

Jews cannot allow Never Again to become an empty catchphrase or a universalized call for tolerance that fails to hold Islam accountable for its promotion of bigotry, violence and genocide.

While Jewish leaders occupy themselves with empty calls for interfaith brotherhood, Jewish farms and villages once again fall under siege. Farmers sleep with guns by their beds, children are taught to race to bomb shelters and Jewish store windows are smashed in the cities of Europe. Armies of soldiers, terrorists and diplomats gather once again to carve up Jerusalem. To ethnically cleanse half the city of Jews and turn it into a platform for terror.

This is what going back to 1948 means. It means going back to a religious civil war and a stump state with indefensible borders. This is the vision of international diplomats who hope that feeding a big enough piece of Israel to the crocodile will put it to sleep

If Never Again means anything at all, it is a refusal to be the sacrifice, to be placed on the altar of appeasement for a Holocaust, a burnt offering, to the Moloch of insatiable rage and genocidal fanaticism.

And one more article on the upcoming nominee to serve as secretary of defense:

Obama's DOD nominee linked to Cold War supporters of Soviets

CIA Director Leon Panetta, President Obama's nominee to serve as secretary of defense, has come under newfound scrutiny for his ties to a pro-Marxist think tank accused of anti-CIA activity.

The Institute for Policy Studies, or IPS, has long faced criticism for positions some say attempt to undermine U.S. national security and for its cozy relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

A review of the voting record for Panetta, a member of Congress from 1977 to 1993, during the period in question shows an apparent affinity for IPS's agenda.

And how about this interesting tidbit?

The IPS is currently funded by philanthropist George Soros' Open Society Institute.

Panetta was reportedly on IPS's official 20th Anniversary Committee, celebrated April 5, 1983, at a time when the group was closely aligned with the Soviet Union.

Along with serving on the IPS committee, Panetta supported the IPS's "Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy Line" in 1983.

Powell wrote that in the 1980s Panetta commissioned the IPS to produce an "alternative" budget that dramatically cut defense spending.

"Members of the mainstream news media seem to have no interest in Leon Panetta's past open involvement with the Institute for Policy Studies, an anti-CIA think tank closely linked to the former Soviet Union's KGB spy agency. But they should," writes blogger and former Air Force public affairs officer Bob McCarty.

Writing in the New American earlier this month, Christian Gomez notes, "Careful observation of former Rep. Panetta's record in the U.S. House of Representatives reveals a history of votes perceivable as in contrast with U.S. national security objectives, which if confirmed as Sec. of Defense may compromise U.S. national defense."

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