Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

What part of “NO!” don’t you understand?

Posted by Charles II on July 5, 2015

Der Spiegel:

Angela’s Ashes: How Merkel Failed Greece and Europe

By Peter Müller and René Pfister
Photo Gallery: A Fateful Weekend for Greece Photos
AFP

Angela Merkel relishes her reputation as queen of Europe. But she hasn’t learned how to use her power, instead allowing a bad situation to heat up to the boiling point. Her inability to take unpopular stances badly exacerbated the Greek crisis.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

You can fool lots of the people…

Posted by Charles II on July 3, 2015

Nick Fletcher and Julia Kollewe, The Guardian liveblog:

Another opinion poll, from the Proto Thema website, shows the ‘Yes’ camp at 41.7% while the ‘No’ camp is at 41.1% and 10.7% are undecided.

100 researchers from the European University Institute have come out in support of the ‘No’ camp in Greece. The institute is an international postgraduate and post-doctoral teaching and research institute set up by European Union member states.

Oxford Economics says:

Whatever the referendum outcome, the ECB is unlikely to significantly increase ELA [emergency liquidity assistance to Greek banks] limits any time soon.

Economists at Société Générale say:

A ‘Yes’ vote: a semi-stable outcome at best.

A ‘Yes’ vote would allow negotiations to resume on the basis of the late June proposals. However, early elections or an unstable coalition would also follow a ‘Yes’ vote. And given the time and complexity entailed by a new programme, the third Greek bailout (worth between €60-80bn in our opinion) is unlikely to be approved before late August. As a result, Greece is set to default on its ECB debt repayments (both in July and August).

At least half a million Greeks are unable to vote in the referendum – unless they return to the country before Sunday’s poll. Under Greek law, people must travel home to where they are registered for voting.

Since the 2007-08 financial crisis, 405,666 Greeks have left the country, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office.

It’s appalling that over half the population is going to vote to accede to the Troika’s demands or is still undecided (and therefore, IMO, likely to vote from fear of the unknown rather than experience). If Tsipras fails to get his OXI (No) vote–despite the clear warnings from economists of all stripes that a Yes vote merely delays the inevitable by a few months–he will resign and leave Greece in the hands of the incompetents and the corrupt who got Greece into this mess.

One wishes that this would not prove to be yet another Greek tragedy. But there are only a few hours for public opinion to turn.

Posted in (Rich) Taxpayers League, Europe, financial crisis | 5 Comments »

Big Ag Killed Southwest Minnesota’s Lakes (And MPCA’s Citizens Board), And #MNGOP Approves

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 2, 2015

Wanna know why the first thing Kurt Daudt did upon taking over tbe Minnesota House was to arrange for the death of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Citizens Board?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

We could crowdfund the Greek economy… and someone already is.

Posted by Charles II on July 1, 2015

Thom Feeney, The Guardian:

So, sat at the table after dinner, I started a crowdfunding campaign to try to rescue the Greek economy. Some basic maths told me that I only needed the entire population of Europe to donate €3.19 (£2.26) to reach the amount of the bailout fund [roughly €2.2B or $2.5B]. I included some nice perks for donating, including a Greek salad and holiday in Athens for two, and set up a page on IndieGoGo and a Twitter account.

I set up the crowdfunding campaign to support the Greek bailout because I was fed up with the dithering of our politicians. Every time a solution to bail out Greece is delayed, it’s a chance for politicians to posture and display their power, but during this time the real effect is on the people of Greece.

The way to help a struggling economy is by investment and stimulus – not austerity and cuts. This crowdfunding is a reaction to the bullying of the Greek people by European politicians, but it could easily be about British politicians bullying the people of the north of England, Scotland and Wales.

The reaction has been tremendous, I’ve received thousands of goodwill message and as I write almost €630,000 has been pledged by more than 38,000 donors.

While the probability of successfully resolving the Greek financial crisis by this method is not terribly high, the potential for embarrassing the politicians into writing down Greek debt is pretty good. The fund is, as of 2:30PM EST, at 1.1M euro. You can donate here.

Posted in financial crisis | 1 Comment »

War Nerd On The Kurds And Their Enemies

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 30, 2015

Over at the revamped, paywalled (and, sadly, comment-banned) Pando, the War Nerd, shorn of the online commenter entourage that helped spread his fame, soldiers on with a good piece about the Kurds and their enemies:

… A lot of very powerful people and organizations don’t like these Kurdish commies. Turkey hates them with a slightly insane intensity. Erdogan would love YPG/J to make a mistake like that; Al Jazeera would love it; the Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis would love it. And a lot of Western red-baiters and idiot Leftist splinter groups would love it as well.

In fact, these people haven’t even waited for the YPG/J to make that kind of mistake. They started accusing the YPG/J of ethnically cleansing Arabs from Tal Abyad as soon as the Kurds entered the town.

Most of this noise about cleansing is coming from Erdogan loyalists at the Daily Sabah, which makes it pretty bitterly ironic. The Turkish government is the world champion of ethnic cleansing throughout the last century. No other country even comes close. Armenians, Assyrians, Anatolian Greeks— basically all the non-Muslim minorities of early 20th-century Anatolia—were massacred and driven out by 20th century Turkey. Turkey’s history of massacring minority populations is just flat-out disgusting. They would have done it to the Kurds, except the Anatolian Kurds were too numerous, too remote, and too damn tough to kill off or drive out, so the Turkish government simply decreed that they didn’t exist as a people, that they were simply “Mountain Turks” rather than the K-word. And now the Daily Sabah reports, without the decency to blush, that Arab residents of Northern Syria might face “segregation and assimilation.” Yeah. That’s a harsh fate, assimilation, huh. I’m sure the Armenians and Assyrians preferred outright extirpation to the horrors of assimilation.

[…]

Keep in mind there has been zero evidence that the YPG/J has actually done any cleansing whatsoever. They’re intensely socialist, anti-sectarian, anti-chauvinist.

They’ve gone out of their way to work with notoriously prickly, militarily worthless Syrian-Arab militias for the sake of maintaining inter-ethnic harmony. (YPG/J communiqués always mention an Arab militia ally called “Euphrates Volcano,” which deserves points for a cool name, anyway.)

At this point, the claims of ethnic cleansing are all Turkish and Wahhabi hype. Before the YPG/J took Tal Abyad, most Sunni-Arab outlets were screaming in advance that the Kurds were going to cleanse the town.

The story was picked up, interestingly, by Tory rags like the Telegraph, who are no fonder of commies than the Qatari or Turkish Islamists.

And then, two days after putting out that scare-story, those same outlets were reporting that in fact, locals were finally coming back to Tal Abyad now that the YPG/J was in control.

So, to sum up, there’s no evidence at all that YPG/J is involved in ethnic cleansing, sectarian massacres, or any of the other atrocities that are SOP for every other military force in Syria. Their crime is being victorious, pursuing the outright monsters of Islamic State onto Sunni Arab turf. If their neighbors were sane, they’d be dancing in the streets to see YPG/J replace IS in Tal Abyad and points south. But this is a sectarian neighborhood, and you don’t cheer for the other tribe, ever. But maybe that can change.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Preserved for posterity: The lies of the IMF, Euro Commission, and ECB

Posted by Charles II on June 30, 2015

Alberto Nardelli, The Guardian:

Greece would face an unsustainable level of debt by 2030 even if it signs up to the full package of tax and spending reforms demanded of it, according to unpublished documents compiled by its three main creditors.

The documents, drawn up by the so-called troika of lenders, support Greece’s argument that it needs substantial debt relief for a lasting economic recovery.

The second document in the pack of six, titled Reforms for the Completion of the Current Programme and Beyond, show there was less to this offer than suggested by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Germany’s vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. The cash on offer is not an ad hoc investment but is actually an EU grant that is regularly available to all member states. And, as Süddeutsche Zeitung points out, accessing the cash requires a 15% co-financing in Greece’s case, which it cannot afford.

A third document outlines the “financing needs and draft disbursement schedule linked to the completion of the fifth review”, spelling out how Greece would have received €15bn to meet its obligations until the end of November. The cash would have been handed over in five tranches starting in June (as soon as the Greek parliament approved the proposals) to cover Greece’s financing needs. However, 93% of the funds would have gone straight to cover the cost of maturing debt for the duration of the extension.

So, the Troika handed Greece a time bomb and, in exchange, demanded that they slash pensions, raise health co-pays, and make their taxes more regressive. Unsurprisingly, Greece is handing the device back to Europe.

Added: Deutsche Welle has picked up this meme, though without the documents from Suddeutsche Zeitung that The Guardian reported.

And The Independent, again without mentioning the SZ.

Posted in abuse of power, banking, capitalism as cancer | 2 Comments »

Preserved for posterity: the lies of Chris Christie

Posted by Charles II on June 30, 2015

Tom Moran, Star-Ledger editorial board:

Most Americans don’t know Chris Christie like I do, so it’s only natural to wonder what testimony I might offer after covering his every move for the last 14 years.

My testimony amounts to a warning: Don’t believe a word the man says.

If you have the stomach for it, this column offers some greatest hits in Christie’s catalog of lies.

Don’t misunderstand me. They all lie, and I get that. But Christie does it with such audacity, and such frequency, that he stands out.

[Christie] told [public workers] their pensions were “sacred” to him.

“The notion that I would eliminate, change, or alter your pension is not only a lie, but cannot be further from the truth,” he wrote them. “Your pension and benefits will be protected when I am elected governor.”

He then proceeded to make cutting those benefits the centerpiece of his first year in office.

• In May, Christie told Megyn Kelly of Fox News that the Bridgegate scandal was basically over:

“The U.S. Attorney said in his press conference a few weeks ago there will be no further charges in the bridge matter. He said it affirmatively three or four times.”

Not even close. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said the investigation continues, and that the two indicted Christie aides could wind up pleading guilty, which would yield a new trove of evidence.

“It’s like the end of Downton Abbey,” Fishman said. “You have to wait for a whole ‘nother season.”

• In March, Christie told a conservative gathering in Washington that he cut money to Planned Parenthood because he was “unapologetically” pro-life.

That was probably true. The lies came earlier, when he fended off criticism in pro-choice New Jersey by repeatedly saying the state’s financial pinch forced him to cut “worthy” programs like this one.

•In February, Christie claimed that he was a personal friend of the King of Jordan, which would allow him to accept gifts without limit, like a sumptuous weekend with his extended family in a desert resort enjoyed at the king’s expense.

Christie and his clan ran up a hotel bill of $30,000. He had met the king once, at a political dinner.

•Two weeks ago, Christie bragged to a national TV audience about his success with pension reform.

Supporting the pension reform? The court found those reforms to be unconstitutional.

He is a remarkable talent with a silver tongue. But if you look closely, you can see that it is forked like a serpent’s.

I would add, the louder he talks, the more he’s covering up. The ruder he is, the more closely people should examine what he’s saying. I hate to equate human beings to a deadly disease, as I have done implicitly with the category this is filed under. Really, it is the sort of shameless lying Christie engages in that is the disease. He’s just a corrupt, self-righteous, pompous, incompetent who happens to have that horrible and disfiguring disease.

Posted in corruption, crimes, Republicans as cancer | Leave a Comment »

There goes Europe

Posted by Charles II on June 30, 2015

Joe Stiglitz, The Guardian:

The rising crescendo of bickering and acrimony within Europe might seem to outsiders to be the inevitable result of the bitter endgame playing out between Greece and its creditors. In fact, European leaders are finally beginning to reveal the true nature of the ongoing debt dispute, and the answer is not pleasant: it is about power and democracy much more than money and economics.

It is startling that the troika [the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund] has refused to accept responsibility for any of this [the ill results of accepting their pdemands] or admit how bad its forecasts and models have been. But what is even more surprising is that Europe’s leaders have not even learned.

But why would Europe do this? Why are European Union leaders resisting the referendum and refusing even to extend by a few days the June 30 deadline for Greece’s next payment to the IMF? Isn’t Europe all about democracy?

And, sure enough, what we are seeing now, 16 years after the eurozone institutionalised those relationships, is the antithesis of democracy: many European leaders want to see the end of prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist government.

Next: Portugal, Spain, and Italy hit the Grexits.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Whee! Puerto Rico edition

Posted by Charles II on June 29, 2015

Michael Fletcher, WaPo:

The governor of Puerto Rico has decided that the island cannot pay back more than $70 billion in debt, setting up an unprecedented financial crisis that could rock the municipal bond market and lead to higher borrowing costs for governments across the United States.

Puerto Rico’s move could roil financial markets already dealing with the turmoil of the renewed debt crisis in Greece. It also raises questions about the once-staid municipal bond market, which states and cities count on to pay upfront costs for public improvements such as roads, parks and hospitals.

For many years, those bonds were considered safe investments — but those assumptions have been shifting in recent years as a small but steady string of U.S. municipalities, including Detroit, as well as Stockton and Vallejo in California, have tumbled into bankruptcy.

At one point in 2013, an estimated three out of four municipal bond mutual funds held Puerto Rican bonds, which were attractive because of their high yields and exemption from federal, state and local taxes.

Greeks close banks, probably on their way to the Grexit.

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Today’s doubletake: Why we need al-Qaeda

Posted by Charles II on June 27, 2015

Ahmed Rashid, New York Review of Books:

In Washington and other Western capitals there is rampant confusion
 about the status and future of al-Qaeda.

…events in the Middle East suggest growing contradictions in Western 
policy. In Syria, the United States has been bombing Jabhat al-Nusra,
 al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, alongside ISIS. But members of the US-led
 coalition against ISIS, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, are actively 
supporting al-Nusra with arms and money. In Yemen, the US has pursued a
 years-long drone campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a campaign that has included, most recently, the reported killing on Friday of AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi. But 
much of the Arab world is now essentially siding with AQAP in a Saudi-led war
 against Houthi rebels in that country.

…two quite separate super-wars are 
now being fought.

 The first war is being fought by the US and its Western allies, who are seeking to defeat Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria and AQAP 
in Yemen alongside the campaign against ISIS.

The second war, by contrast, is being fought by Turkey and the regional Arab
 states—primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Egypt—against Assad and other Iranian-backed forces in the region, as well as ISIS. In this war the Arab states openly avoid bombing or attacking 
al-Nusra and AQAP, and in fact now provide both with financial support and weapons.

The West must recognize that the ground is shifting quickly across the region 
and the Arab Spring is now on the verge of turning into an Islamic 
fundamentalist winter, whether we like it or not. The US has paid a bitter price 
for declining to back the Arab states in removing Assad four years ago when there was a viable moderate opposition. In the
 months ahead, we should not be surprised if formal talks between al-Qaeda and
 these Arab states begin. The only one not at the table could be the
 United States. 



I think Ahmed Rashid is wrong, and I think his statement that we should have removed Assad four years ago is a clear sign of just how wrong he is. And if Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey want to focus on killing Shia and supporting terrorists, the United States should make it clear that we will not “sup with the devil,” as Rashid accurately calls such a strategy.

Still, I wish everyone in Congress would read the article, just so they’d stop saying such idiotic things.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »