In? Out? In between? A Greek legal riddle for EU

30 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

“The Mohalla Assi Trailer Has Not Come To The Censor Board,” says Pahlaj Nihalani.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Anxious pensioners swarmed closed bank branches Monday and long lines snaked outside ATMs as Greeks endured the first day of serious controls on their daily economic lives ahead of a referendum that could determine whether the country has to ditch the euro currency and return to the drachma.Unless money falls from the sky or a last-minute agreement is struck between Greece and its creditors, the country will most certainly miss its €1.6-billion payment ($2.2 billion Cdn.) to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday.Populist parties in Spain, Ireland and other austerity-stricken European countries are flocking to support the Greek government’s defiance of its creditors, and to encourage Greek citizens to vote against the creditors’ bailout proposal in a July 5 referendum.BRUSSELS — Seeking to calm a whirlwind of uncertainty that has battered global markets, opened deep fissures in European unity and threatened to push Greece out of the eurozone, European leaders insisted on Monday that a deal was still possible to settle Greece’s spiraling debt crisis.

Considered the fountainhead of European civilisation, Greece, today holds the Continent’s attention as it struggles to extricate itself from a messy economic situation.ATHENS — Uncertain what might happen next, with banks and financial markets closed, across Athens people wasted little time Monday, rushing to the nearest A.T.M. to withdraw their new daily maximum of 60 euros, determined to raise every last cent while they could. Spain’s ascendant left-populist party Podemos called for a solidarity rally with Greece’s Syriza-led government, drawing hundreds of attendees in Madrid on Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Yet, even as Greeks faced a new level of chaos and hardship this week, they were being confronted with another unsolvable riddle: a vote on their future that was even more uncertain than the current chaos. “Simply put, we’re confused,” Eleni Gardikioti, 31, an insurance worker, said. “We don’t understand what games they are playing, whether to stay or go and whether there is a permanent goal in all that.” In a referendum on Sunday, Greeks will be asked to decide whether to accept a take-it-or-leave-it bailout offer by the country’s creditors, and remain mired in austerity in the eurozone, or reject the deal but suffer the consequences of leaving the euro. Tsipras called the referendum over the weekend, arguing that demands for tougher austerity measures could not be accepted after six years of recession. Syriza’s decision to call a referendum vote on the creditors’ proposal also elicited the endorsements of Gerry Adams, the leader of Ireland’s left-wing opposition party Sinn Fein; Italy’s contrarian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo; and other critics of eurozone austerity policies. For one, the bailout offer has already been withdrawn by the eurozone’s finance ministers, so it is not clear the parties could reach a deal now even if Greece voted in favor. The move shook the world’s financial markets, saw Greek borrowing rates skyrocket, and set off a credit downgrade from Standard & Poor’s, which said it now sees a 50 percent chance of Greece leaving the eurozone.

And in an indication of how populist challenges to the European status quo cross ideological lines, Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front party, hailed the move as a reminder to “the European elite that in democracy, there are people, and they are the only sovereigns.” Le Pen stopped short of embracing Syriza’s position in her remarks. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Europe’s dominant figure, spoke out twice on the Greek crisis, and both times revived a phrase she used years ago, during another financial storm set off by Greece: “If the euro fails, Europe fails.” This means, she said, that “we have principles” that reflect “the trust we have in each other,” but also that “we must always seek compromise.” The Greek government closed b anks and stock markets in an attempt to keep the country’s financial system afloat after the European Central Bank announced Sunday that it would not increase emergency funding to Greek banks. That stoked fears of a crippling bank run, a messy Greek debt default, and a euro exit. “I came here at 4 a.m. because I have to get my pension,” said Anastasios Gevelidis, 74, one of about 100 retirees outside the National Bank of Greece in Thessaloniki. “We don’t even have enough money to buy bread,” he said.

Between now and then Greece remains suspended between collapse and an uncertain rescue, between membership in the 19-member euro club and the possibility of a humiliating exit. The defiant anti-austerity Syriza government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pulled back its negotiators from securing a last-minute bailout deal late Friday in Brussels. Anecdotally, how people said they would vote in the referendum had little to do with those considerations, but broke down largely along lines of age and class. WASHINGTON (AP) — Trading sharp words, a deeply divided Supreme Court upheld the use of a controversial drug in lethal-injection executions Monday, even as two dissenting justices said for the first time they think it’s “highly likely” the death penalty itself is unconstitutional.

But nowhere do expressions of solidarity with Syriza resonate as much as in Spain, where Podemos is seen as a credible threat to the ruling conservative government. Older and more affluent Greeks leaned toward voting yes and younger and poorer Greeks leaned toward no, essentially as a protest of what they viewed as foreign oppression. Throughout Greece, massive lines formed at gas stations, with worried motorists seeking to fill up their tanks and pay with credit cards while they were still being accepted. On their last day together until the fall, the justices voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. He added on Twitter as tens of thousands of Athenians took to the streets to show their support of Greece: “Our people have remained calm in the face of blackmail.” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, in a passionate speech aimed directly at the Greek people, said he felt “betrayed” by what has happened.

The current Prime Minister’s party has also advocated a similar course of action and some important government members still believe this to be the only way to economic redemption. Whatever the outcome, Athenians were busy adapting to the new reality on Monday, focusing more on getting through the week than worrying too far into the future. The court also divided 5-4 in cases upholding congressional districts drawn by independent commissions and calling into question first-ever limits on mercury emissions from power plants. For the last five months, the EU gave Greece a lifeline by extending the $340-billion bailout while talks continued to find an acceptable way forward. “What is at stake here is the essential spirit of European shared solidarity and responsibility. Podemos has taken advantage of dissatisfaction with the country’s high unemployment rate to win mayoral races in Barcelona and Madrid, Spain’s two largest cities.

Tsipras would have to accept all of the other creditors’ demands, which he had already turned down, and request an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Tuesday. In addition, the justices also agreed to hear an important affirmative action case in the fall and acted to keep Texas abortion clinics open amid a legal fight that threatens to close most of them.

Other European countries went through very difficult times — Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Latvia — to name only these few countries,” Juncker said in Brussels. “All governments took very difficult decisions; some of them paid a very high political price for their solidarity and their financial support to help the most vulnerable countries.” Juncker suggested Greeks were not being told the truth regarding negotiations. For emergency needs, such as importing medicine or sending remittances abroad, the Greek Treasury was creating a Banking Transactions Approval Committee to examine requests on a case-by-case basis.

Analysts believe Spain’s ruling conservatives have taken a hardline approach in negotiations with Greece at least in part out of fears that a bailout deal that is too accommodating for Greece will be a boon to Podemos at the polls. Standing outside the cash machines seemed to have a counterintuitive effect on some people, hardening them against the European creditors rather than making them angry at their own government. “We’re all happy with Tsipras!” said Eleni Hartofilaka, waiting to take her €60 (about $67) out of an Alpha Bank branch. “We’re happy for the Europeans to learn not to be on top of us.” For some, the word “no,” or “Oxi” in Greek, has a historical symbolism that makes it even more appealing in the present context. Law enforcement experts say this shooting was clear-cut. “There cannot be any cleaner situation than this one,” said Maria Haberfeld, head of the law and police science department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “You cannot shoot any fleeing felon, but certainly you can shoot the one who poses a real threat.

Tsipras is actively campaigning for a No vote — he believes the shackling terms of the bailout agreement will plunge his people further into poverty. As every Greek schoolchild knows, the annual Oxi Day commemorates the answer, in spirit if not verbatim, delivered by Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas to a demand from Mussolini to allow Italian forces to occupy strategic parts of Greece at the beginning of World War II. He implied that Greece’s differences with the other eurozone nations were relatively narrow on budget savings, but that the two sides were further apart on matters like debt relief and labor union rights. If Greeks indicate, through a positive vote, that they are willing to accept austerity measures imposed on them, then that vote could be interpreted as a lack of confidence in Syriza’s campaign platform. Hollande had spoken by telephone with President Obama. “They agreed to pool their efforts to facilitate a resumption of the talks so as to find a solution to the crisis as soon as possible and ensure Greece’s financial stability,” the aide said.

At the Evangelismos Metro station near Central Athens, Dimitra Papaioannou, 30, had just taken a free subway ride, after coming to the city by bus from the northern town of Larissa to visit her doctor. Sweat had been serving life without parole in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy, and Matt had been serving 25 years to life for the killing of his former boss. CAIRO (AP) — A car bomb killed Egypt’s chief prosecutor Monday in the country’s first assassination of a senior official in 25 years, marking what could be an escalation in a campaign by Islamic militants toward targeting leaders of a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. George Osborne, the British chancellor of the exchequer, said his country’s attitude to the developing Greek crisis is clear: they hope for the best but are preparing for the worst.

Stocks slumped modestly on Monday at the opening on Wall Street, after markets in Asia and Europe were battered by worries that the Greek financial crisis would prove contagious and Chinese investors endured another topsy-turvy session. The EU technical committees, on their part, have pointed out that the estimate of revenues and the reforms proposed by the Tsipras government, will not set Greece on a recovery path. Hisham Barakat led the prosecution of members of the Brotherhood and other Islamists, including former President Mohammed Morsi, who was overthrown by the military in July 2013. He warned that a Greek exit, or “Grexit,” from the euro should not be taken lightly. “This Greek crisis has, in one form or another, been with us for five years.

Unlike city folk, she could be self-sufficient, she said, rolling a cigarette. “I will go to the village and dig to live,” she said. “I believe no one should fear. Merkel, at a news conference in her chancellery in Berlin after meeting with Germany’s political leaders, said Greece, by interrupting talks and deciding on a referendum, had shown no willingness to compromise. Monday’s assassination of the 65-year-old Barakat came on the eve of the second anniversary of the mass demonstrations against Morsi that led to his ouster.

Despite their ideological differences, the National Front welcomed the victory of Syriza in the Greek elections in January, lauding it as as a “slap in the face” to the euro and the austerity politics of the European Union. A car laden with explosives was detonated by remote control around 10 a.m. as Barakat’s motorcade left his home in the eastern district of Heliopolis, police said. Of course, doctors we won’t have, or maybe.” A few blocks away, the A/B Vasilopoulos supermarket, a major chain, was mobbed, as though a major hurricane were on the way. An Egyptian militant group calling itself “Popular Resistance in Giza” claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement, with photographs from the site of the bombing. Latvia, population 2.1 million, suffered through severe economic cuts — one-third of government workers were laid off — after the economy tanked in 2008, largely due to a bank failure.

It is a pity to realize that European politicians and technocrats have misunderstood the nature of the crisis and taken the wrong measures to overcome it. Stock clerks were everywhere, replenishing supplies of everything from sugar to frozen vegetables. “Don’t panic,” one woman urged another, as she picked over the noodles. “I think the Greek companies like Misko will still be producing pasta even if we cannot import it.” Italian ravioli, she added, examining a package, maybe not. NEW YORK (AP) — NBC said Monday that it is ending its business relationship with mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump because of comments he made about Mexican immigrants during the announcement of his campaign. Trump has also been a fixture on NBC as host of “The Apprentice” and its celebrity offshoot, and an agreement that he would no longer be on the show predated the current controversy. Roosevelt, said “Our only fear is fear.” At a small but elegant antiques store, Art & Craft, the proprietor, Miltiades Macrygiannis, actually had a customer, though, he noted after she left, she spoke Greek with an accent, indicating that she was foreign.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers on Monday sent the governor a contentious bill that would impose one of the strictest school vaccination laws in the country in reaction to a recent measles outbreak at Disneyland. Faced with the choice of an ever-expanding abyss of austerity, of death by a thousand paper cuts, Tsipras has opted to act as a catalyst and bring things to a quick and decisive end. He planned to vote yes, but reluctantly, as the lesser of two bad choices. “I wouldn’t imagine, even as a nightmare, the scenario of going back to the drachma,” Mr. Macrygiannis said. “It would take 10 years to get us back on our feet again.” Those who will gain, he said, are the superrich who have squirreled away their euros in Switzerland or the Virgin Islands, and will be able to swoop in to buy devalued goods and property. The suit by the American Federation of Government Employees names the Office of Personnel Management, its director, Katherine Archuleta, and its chief information officer, Donna Seymour.

He stressed that Greece was not the only crisis facing Europe, singling out the flow of migrants and the rise of nationalist movements as phenomena for which the Continent had to find solutions. What upset him most, he said, was the uncertainty. “The Greek government right now, they don’t give me the next day,” he said. “They ask us to vote no.

Hackers suspected of working for the Chinese government are believed to have stolen records for as many as 18 million current and former federal employees and contractors last year. The agency’s inspector general told Congress he had been warning for years that the agency’s information security was inadequate but those warnings went largely unheeded. SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor said Monday night he will form a financial team to negotiate with bondholders on delaying debt payments and then restructuring $72 billion in public debt that he says the U.S. island can’t repay.

As such, Germany under Merkel’s leadership has been the lead architect of the loans-for-austerity policy Europe has used to manage the Greek debt crisis. Finally, it is indeed difficult to imagine the IMF giving equal latitude to any other country outside the European continent, and that too for such a prolonged period, and with sops. But that’s all that three donors had given by Monday morning, a day after a British man named Thom Feeney set up a crowdfunding campaign on the site Indiegogo. “Why don’t we the people just sort it instead?” Feeney wrote on the site, complaining that the European ministers involved in Greek debt negotiations are “dithering” and “flexing their muscles.” “The European Union is home to 503 million people, if we all just chip in a few Euro then we can get Greece sorted and hopefully get them back on track soon.

In that case, Krugman said, it would perhaps be better for Greece to leave the euro, reissue the drachma as a currency and simply try to weather the economic tumult that would result. “Maybe, just maybe, the willingness to leave will inspire a rethink, although probably not,” Krugman wrote. “But even so, devaluation couldn’t create that much more chaos than already exists, and would pave the way for eventual recovery, just as it has in many other times and places.” For months, the notoriously cautious Merkel has been wrestling with the question of whether to risk a “Grexit” and accept the financial, economic and geopolitical backlash it would surely unleash. They witnessed the Gilded Age, a term coined by Mark Twain, and the dawn of civil rights, the rise and fall of the fascists and Benito Mussolini, the first polio vaccines and the first black president of the United States. Jones, who lives in Brooklyn, currently tops a list of supercentenarians, or people who have lived past 110, which is maintained by Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group.

Many economists and financial writers predict that the effects on Europe would be bad, but not nearly as harmful as what would happen within Greece itself.

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