Greece’s largest pro-bailout parties, New Democracy and Pasok, won enough seats to forge a parliamentary majority, official projections showed, easing concern the country was headed toward an imminent exit from the euro. The currency rose on the result.
The election would give New Democracy and Pasok 163 seats if they agree to govern together in the 300-member parliament, according to the official projection by the Interior Ministry in Athens based on 63 percent of today’s vote.
“For markets, a majority for an ND-Pasok coalition would be a relief,” Holger Schmieding, London-based chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said in a note today. “It would very much reduce the risk of a Greek euro exit.”
The vote forced Greeks, in a fifth year of recession, to choose open-ended austerity to stay in the euro or reject the terms of a bailout and risk the turmoil of exiting the 17-nation currency. The election threatened to dominate a summit of world leaders that starts tomorrow in Mexico.
Fifteen years ago Greece was no paradise, but it wasn’t in crisis either. Unemployment was high but not catastrophic, and the nation more or less paid its way on world markets, earning enough from exports, tourism, shipping and other sources to more or less pay for its imports.
Then Greece joined the euro, and a terrible thing happened: people started believing that it was a safe place to invest. Foreign money poured into Greece, some but not all of it financing government deficits; the economy boomed; inflation rose; and Greece became increasingly uncompetitive. To be sure, the Greeks squandered much if not most of the money that came flooding in, but then so did everyone else who got caught up in the euro bubble.
And then the bubble burst, at which point the fundamental flaws in the whole euro system became all too apparent.
Ask yourself, why does the dollar area — also known as the United States of America — more or less work, without the kind of severe regional crises now afflicting Europe? The answer is that we have a strong central government, and the activities of this government in effect provide automatic bailouts to states that get in trouble.
Consider, for example, what would be happening to Florida right now, in the aftermath of its huge housing bubble, if the state had to come up with the money for Social Security and Medicare out of its own suddenly reduced revenues. Luckily for Florida, Washington rather than Tallahassee is picking up the tab, which means that Florida is in effect receiving a bailout on a scale no European nation could dream of.
In a final run-off election marked by relentless fear-mongering and negative campaigning on both sides of the contest, many polling stations remained near-empty for much of the two-day ballot – with potential voters seemingly put off by scorching temperatures, which reached 40C in the capital, and the increasingly oppressive political climate of military-led manipulation and national division that has gripped the country a year and a half after the start of its ongoing revolution.
As ballot counting began inside more than 13,000 schools nationwide, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party insisted that its candidate, 60 year old engineer Mohamed Morsi, was on course for a clear victory unless state-sponsored electoral fraud dictated otherwise. But local media reports and anecdotal evidence suggested a far closer race, with millions turning out to back Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak’s final prime minister and a polarising emblem of the old regime, in a last-ditch effort to prevent political Islamists from taking power.
The high court ruled that some provisions of the electoral law, which allowed political parties to compete with independent candidates for some seats, violated the constitution.
The ruling invalidated the 508-member People’s Assembly, chosen during a six-week election which began in November. It also voided the constitutional assembly which members of parliament agreed to last week and appointed on Tuesday.
SCAF said it will announce its own assembly next week.
The ruling was a blow to the entire transition process, but perhaps most of all to the Brotherhood, which controlled nearly half of the assembly.
Mohamed el-Beltagy, a senior FJP politician, called the rulings a “fully-fledged coup” on his Facebook page.
The Brotherhood issued a statement late on Thursday night warning that the court’s decision would undo the gains of the revolution and push Egypt into “dangerous days”.
The Economist has some interesting analysis on what might happen if the Roberts SCOTUS throws out portions of the Affordable Healthcare Act. You have to remember this is written in England where our health care system is considered something out of a dystopian science fiction horror novel.
Yet for all that, it is possible that the Supreme Court, by throwing a spanner into the works, may actually help Mr Obama as much as hurt him. For a start, the Republicans would suddenly find that they have a mess of their own making to sort out. If the Supreme Court does indeed strike down the Affordable Care Act, many popular provisions would fall with it: the one allowing parents to keep their children on their insurance policies until they are 26, for instance, and the abolition of lifetime ceilings on what the sick can claim. Both of those are already in force, and a ban on insurance companies refusing to insure the unwell is due to come in from 2014. Generous subsidies will help not just those who lack insurance, but also some of those who have it and find it hard to afford. And Mr Obama’s cost-control mechanisms, imperfect though they are, have a fiscally useful role to play in bringing down the costs of government-provided insurance for the poor and the elderly.
Even if only the “mandate” requiring everyone to buy health insurance is struck down as unconstitutional, the consequences of that could cause other parts of the bill to unravel, and would certainly lead to big increases in insurance premiums. One big insurance company has already said it would endeavour to keep some of the popular provisions intact: but it might not be able to. The Republicans have long said that they want to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, but they have been remarkably coy about what they would replace it with. If you break it, as Colin Powell remarked in another context, you own it.
So the danger to the Republicans of a backlash should not be discounted. And there is another, greater threat to them. Should Obamacare be struck down or crippled, the Roberts court will be seen by many as politically slanted. Arguably that has happened already, thanks to its recision of gun control in Washington, DC and Chicago in 2008 and 2010, and to its decision in 2010 to scrap limits on corporate (and trade-union) donations to political-action groups. And judgments on other highly political cases, on positive discrimination and on immigration, are expected before the election. Like the gun-control and campaign-finance rulings, these are likely to be “partisan” 5-4 decisions. A poll on June 7th found that 76% of people think that Supreme Court justices are sometimes swayed by their political or personal views, and that only 44% approve of the court’s performance. It used to be by far the most popular branch of government.
Romney repeatedly refused to say whether he’d repeal Obama’s order to halt deportations of DREAM-eligible youth. He confirmed that he would not agree to even one dollar in new revenues in exchange for 10 dollars in spending cuts. And he again reiterated that his response to the crisis would be to cut government, in order to “ignite growth,” even though economists say that more austerity now would make the crisis worse.
But I wanted to flag this exchange in particular, in which Romney seemed to confirm that he will not be detailing how he would pay for his proposed tax cuts for the duration of the campaign:
SCHIEFFER: You haven’t been bashful about telling us yo want to cut taxes. When are you going to tell us where you’re going to get the revenue? Which of the deductions are you going to be willing to eliminate? Which of the tax credits are you going to — when are you going to be able to tell us that?
ROMNEY: Well, we’ll go through that process with Congress as to which of all the different deductions and the exemptions —
SCHIEFFER: But do you have an ideas now, like the home mortgage interest deduction, you know, the various ones?
ROMNEY: Well Simpson Bowles went though a process of saying how they would be able to reach a setting where they had actually under their proposal even more revenue, with lower rates. So, mathematically it’s been proved to be possible: We can have lower rates, as I propose, that creates more growth, and we can limit deductions and exemptions.
Romney went on to pledge, as he has in the past, that under his plan, the wealthy would continue to pay the same share of the tax burden as they do now. “I’m not looking to reduce the burden paid by the wealthiest,” he said. In other words, the disproportionally larger tax cut the wealthy would get from the across-the-board cut in rates he’s proposing would be offset by closing deductions and loopholes the rich currently enjoy. But asked twice by Schieffer how exactly he would do this, Romney refused to say, beyond noting that this has been mathematically proven to be possible. And in his first reply above, he confirmed that the details would be worked out with Congress when he is president — which is to say, not during the campaign.
Hopefully you have woken up to a glorious June morning…wherever you may be. Here in Banjoland, we are expecting rain, which I wish would just hurry up and get here…hearing that rumbling in the distance and feeling the hot humid air outside is getting to be a real drag.
I don’t want to lie to you, this morning’s reads are not lighthearted, there is just too much madness going on in other parts of the world.
Like the distant sounds of thunder, I can feel the pounding of despair in my chest, and not being a loner…I guess I have to share it with you.
If any doubt was left about the power of big money in our politics, the Wisconsin election destroyed it. Charles and David Koch goosed Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign with $10 million through their front group Americans for Prosperity, $1 million through the Republican Governors Association, and more from members of the “million-dollar donor club” of financial titans that meet regularly at Koch-hosted secret summits. Meanwhile, the official campaign of Democratic opponent Tom Barrett raised about $4 million. Is it any wonder that Walker climbed steadily in the polls and ultimately won?
I know that is not news for our readers…but I wanted to connect the horse’s name with the FAIL we saw in Wisconsin.
Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Saturday to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros ($125 billion) to shore up its teetering banks and Madrid said it would specify precisely how much it needs once independent audits report in just over a week.
After a 2 1/2-hour conference call of the 17 finance ministers, which several sources described as heated, the Eurogroup and Madrid said the amount of the bailout would be sufficiently large to banish any doubts.
“The loan amount must cover estimated capital requirements with an additional safety margin, estimated as summing up to 100 billion euros in total,” a Eurogroup statement said.
Egyptian women have been vocal protesters against the post-Mubarak regime, despite continuing sexual harassment at marches and gatherings. Photograph: Amel Pain/EPA
A mob of hundreds of men assaulted women holding a march demanding an end to sexual harassment in Cairo, as attackers overwhelmed male supporters and molested several of the marchers in Tahrir Square.
Some victims said it appeared to have been an organised attempt to drive women out of demonstrations and trample the pro-democracy protest movement.
Earlier in the week, an Associated Press reporter witnessed around 200 men assault a woman who eventually fainted before others came to her aid.
Friday’s march demanded an end to all sexual assaults. Around 50 women participated, surrounded by a larger group of male supporters who joined hands to form a protective ring around them. The protesters carried posters and chanted. After the marchers entered a crowded corner of the square, a group of men waded into the women, heckling them and groping them. The attackers chased the the marchers as they tried to flee. Several women were cornered against railings and groped, according to reports. Eventually, the women found refuge in a nearby building.
“After what I saw and heard today I am furious at so many things.” wrote Sally Zohney, one of the event’s organisers on Twitter.
You remember the image of the woman being stomped on by men back in December? If I say two words, my guess is you will remember…blue bra.
In a defining image of state violence against women, soldiers dispersing a protest in December were captured on video stripping a woman’s top off and stomping on her chest, as other troops pulled her by the arms across the ground. That incident prompted a march by 10,000 women through Cairo.
In contrast, the small size of Friday’s march could reflect the fear felt by women in the square.
“Women activists are at the core of the revolution,” said Ahmed Hawary, who attended Friday’s protest. “They are the courage of this movement. If you break them, you break the spirit of the revolution.”
The unexpected appearance of Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister in the runoff of Egypt’s first post-revolutionary presidential race owes much to support from business tycoons and other backers of the old regime.
The candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, 70, gained enormous popularity during the final stretch of the race by appealing to weary Egyptians’ desire for a return to the stability of the old Egypt. But even some supporters acknowledge that he also drew on money and expertise from a vast network of Mubarak’s former supporters, whose National Democratic Party is now banned.
…Shafiq finished second in the first round of balloting and faces the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in a presidential runoff next weekend. A victory by Shafiq would be seen as a defeat by many who took part in the wintertime revolution last year that ousted Mubarak.
What kind of revolution is it when the other choice is just as depressing, I am talking about the Muslim Brotherhood:
The Muslim Brotherhood and its political party, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), have condemned the resurrection of the National Women’s Council (NWC) in recent months, arguing that it has no legitimacy in the current political dynamic facing Egypt.
However, the governmental council’s chief Mervat Tallawy, has again lashed back against the conservative Islamic group, accusing it of attempting to undermine women’s rights, including divorce and custody rights.
The Brotherhood has fought back, arguing that the council is a remnant of the Hosni Mubarak era and should be disbanded.
“They are trying to take away rights that women attained in compliance with Islamic sharia,” said Mervat Tallawy, head of the National Council for Women, in comments published by Reuters news agency, adding that criticism of the council was an attempt to erode female rights.
The Brotherhood said in response on its website that the institution was “a weapon of the former regime to break up and destroy families.”
“They do not want a national institution for women,” Tallawy told Reuters in an interview. “They have said that the international (women’s) agreements are imperialistic and part of a foreign agenda.”
At the hastily arranged meeting, Brotherhood representatives promised to meet the demands of Maher and other revolutionary figures in exchange for their endorsement of Mohammed Morsi, the Brotherhood candidate running against Shafik, Maher said. But when he asked for specifics, the negotiations collapsed in what has become an intractable problem for the Brotherhood: It still has not won the endorsement of its candidate from largely secular revolutionaries, even though they loathe the idea that Shafik, Mubarak’s last prime minister, could win.
The back-and-forth negotiations have come to define the period between last month’s first-round balloting and this week’s run-off. Political parties have called their followers into the streets in hopes of recreating the sense of unity that led to the fall of the Mubarak regime. But the elections and the taste of political power has made it difficult, if not impossible, for the parties to unite enough to ensure that a Mubarak holdover doesn’t retake the presidency, this time in a democratic election spurred by their movement.
The disparate revolutionary groups cannot agree on who speaks for them and what they want. And the Brotherhood cannot agree on what it needs to do to win the revolutionary vote.
Bullet-pocked homes and bloodstained walls. Shell casings littering the ground in a ghost town still smoldering from the onslaught.
A United Nations observer team on Friday finally reached the site of Syria’s latest apparent massacre, a now-abandoned farming village where opposition activists accuse pro-government forces of killing dozens of civilians this week in an artillery bombardment and grisly door-to-door executions.
“Young children, infants, my brother, his wife and seven children … all dead,” said a grieving man in a video distributed by the U.N. “I will show you the blood. They burned his house.”
Bullets and shrapnel shells smashed into homes in the Syrian capital overnight, as troops battled rebels in the streets, in the heaviest fighting yet in Damascus. The violence marked an increased boldness among rebels in taking their fight against the regime of President Bashar Assad to the center of his power.
For nearly 12 hours of fighting that lasted into the early hours Saturday, rebels armed mainly with assault rifles fought Syrian forces. U.N. observers said rebels fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the local power plant, damaging parts of it and charring six buses, according to video the observers took of the scene.
Syrian forces showed the regime’s willingness to unleash elevated force in the capital: at least three tank shells slammed into residential areas in the central Damascus neighborhood of Qaboun, an activist said. Intense exchanges of assault-rifle fire marked the clash, according to residents and amateur videos.
At least 42 civilians were killed in violence around the country outside Damascus on Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based activist group. Among them were 20, including nine women and children, who died in heavy, pre-dawn shelling in the southern city of Daraa, where the uprising against Assad began in March 2011. The group’s figures could not be independently confirmed.
In a Daraa mosque, a father stood over his son killed in the shelling, swaddled in a blanket.
“I will become a suicide bomber!” the father shouted in grief, according to an amateur video of the scene.
Later Saturday, tens of thousands of Daraa residents buried the slain from the shelling. They sang, danced and paraded the dead in coffins around a large square, giving the mass funeral the appearance of a mass wedding party, according to footage of the scene.
These people are going through unbelievable trauma and fear, and it is taking it’s toll on the survivors.
“The heart of this revolt is the poor, jobless youth in the countryside. But that is gathering strength in other places, in Aleppo, in Damascus and even the Kurdish regions,” said Syria expert Joshua Landis.
“The psychological state of the people, after watching these massacres, is so far advanced. People are ready to do whatever it takes. They are frightened; it could come next to them.”
Back in the village where the latest massacre occured…
Saturday, U.N. observers in Syria ostensibly to monitor the cease-fire issued the first independent video images from the scene of the reported massacre in Mazraat al-Qubair.
The video, taken in the U.N. visit a day earlier, showed blood splashed on a wall pockmarked with bullet holes and soaking a nearby mattress. A shell punched through one wall of a house. Another home was burnt on the inside with dried blood was splashed on floors.
One man wearing a red-and-white checked scarf to cover his face, pointed at a 2008 calendar adorning a wall, bearing the photo of a lightly-bearded, handsome man.
“This is the martyr,” the resident, sobbing. He sat on the floor, amid strewn colorful blankets, heaving with tears.
It was not immediately clear if he was a resident of the village or related to the man in the photograph.
“They killed children,” said another unidentified resident. “My brother, his wife and their seven children, the oldest was in the sixth grade. They burnt down his house.”
After the observers’ visit, U.N. spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh said the scene held evidence of a “horrific crime” and that the team could smell the stench of burned corpses and saw body parts strewn around the now deserted village, once home to about 160 people.
She said residents’ accounts of the mass killing were “conflicting,” and that the team was still cross checking the names of the missing and dead with those supplied by nearby villagers.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned the Security Council on Thursday that a full-blown civil war in Syria was “imminent,” while international mediator Kofi Annan said it was time to step up the pressure on Damascus to halt the violence.
“The Syrian people are bleeding,” Ban told reporters after addressing the Security Council. “They are angry. They want peace and dignity. Above all, they all want action.”
“The danger of a civil war is imminent and real,” he said, adding that “terrorists are exploiting the chaos.”
The international deadlock over Syria has, in a dreadful way, provided balm for old grievances in this city. After years of fuming about Western-led campaigns to force leaders from power, Russia has seized the opportunity to make its point heard.
This time, its protests cannot be set aside as they were when NATO began airstrikes in Libya or when Western-led coalitions undertook military assaults in Iraq and Serbia. Instead, the international community has come to Russia’s doorstep.
On Friday, a top State Department official visited Moscow, presumably seeking to persuade the Kremlin to reconsider its stance and contribute to an effort to engineer a transition from the rule of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a longtime Russian ally. In remarks after the meeting, Russia’s top negotiator was implacable, telling a reporter that Moscow’s position was “a matter of principle.”
Russia has growing concerns about the conflict in Syria, but it will continue to oppose the outside use of force, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“The situation in Syria is becoming more alarming,” Mr. Lavrov told a news conference Saturday, during which he pushed Russia’s proposal for an international conference on the crisis. “An impression is being created that Syria is on the verge of a full-scale civil conflict.”
It appears that a couple of Russian citizens where involved in some of the violence last week.
He said two recent attacks had put Russians in the capital, Damascus, in danger: a bus carrying Russian specialists came under fire Saturday, and a grenade attack took place Friday on a building where Russians live. There were no injuries, he said.
Despite growing concerns that the situation may be spinning out of control, Russia, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, “will not sanction the use of force,” he said. Russia has previously blocked proposed U.N. resolutions to impose sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Lavrov said Russia’s resistance to intervention is “not because we are protecting Assad and his regime, but because we know that Syria is a complicated multi-confessional state, and because we know that some of those calling for military intervention want to ruin this and turn Syria into a battleground for domination in the Islamic world.”
Well, that should be enough to get the party started…
This week Prince celebrated his 54th birthday…and since he is one of my top 5 favorite musicians, I have to share it with you. Happy 54th Birthday, Prince
Happy Birthday, Prince!
Like the little black dress and kissing in the rain (under an umbrella, lest we muss our hair), his Royal Badness is ageless, timeless and eternally sexy.
As he continues to tour and sell out arena across the land join us in a collective “ow-ah!” to celebrate The Beautiful One’s 54th year!
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.