Europe’s Answer to Reform – More of the Same

Jean-Claude Juncker won the support of Europe’s lawmakers to become European Commission president, despite the opposition from Britain. It was clearly a slap in the face to Britain and it is highly doubtful that his leadership will be able to patch up relations with the U. K..
Juncker, a former Luxembourg prime minister and will now head the EU Commission succeeding Portugal’s Jose Barroso as of November. 1. The commission is the European Union’s executive arm that operates as a dictatorship with no democratic checks or balances. The Commission need no abide by the votes of elected ministers defeating democracy in Europe. It proposes and enforces EU laws, not the people of Europe, monitors national economies, negotiates trade deals, runs a diplomatic service and administers the bloc’s 140 billion-euro ($191 billion) budget.
Juncker was previously the Prime Minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013. He was the longest-serving head of government of any European Union country, and one of the longest-serving democratically elected leaders in the world, by the time he left office. He was also Luxembourg’s Minister for Finances from 1989 to 2009 and the first permanent President of the Eurogroup from 2005 to 2013, his tenure encompassing the height of the European financial and sovereign debt crisis. Therein lies the problem. The state of Europe is very much part of his ideas and theory. He will defend the system rather than reform it and this was at the core of British opposition.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on October 7, 2014.

Obama – a Real Lame Duck who tries to Rule the World like his Children – I will cut off your allowance and go to your room!

Russia is rising and Obama is the direct cause of handing power to Russia in the EXACT same manner as we saw the fall of Athens. Piss-off all your allies and they then turn against you and joining your enemy. Your enemy is my friend – as the saying goes. Putin is way smarter than Obama. He has adopted the words of Abraham Lincoln, you destroy and enemy by making him your friend. Since he cannot do that with Obama, he is doing it with everyone around him. Putin is a master chess player – Obama may not even be capable of checkers.
Joe Biden is great for saying things he shouldn’t. Now Biden in a boast admitted publicly that the Americans have for the first time have forced the EU and Merkel against their will to sanction Russia. Joe Biden said that Obama has insisted that the EU take into account economic damage to punish the Russians. The Biden’s remarks make clear that Angela Merkel and her EU colleagues have followed the instructions of Obama against the self-interests of their own people. In Germany, this is having a serious impact for Merkel’s words of the free self-determination sound more like just political bullshit.
No in the parliamentary elections that took place in Latvia, the Pro-Russian party Harmony won with 23.3% – the most votes of any party. Nevertheless, a change of government is, however, unlikely. Russia can thank Obama’s sanctions for more and more countries and regions are turning to Russia.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on October 6, 2014.

E.U. Says Shocked by Killing of Red Cross Worker in East Ukraine, Shelling Unacceptable

The European Union is shocked by the killing of a Swiss Red Cross worker in Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk and deems the continued shelling "unacceptable", E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and E.U. commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid Kristalina Georgieva said in a joint statement Friday.
"It was with shock and deep sadness that we learned of the killing of Laurent DuPasquier, a dedicated 38-year old Swiss employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in Donetsk yesterday. Our thoughts are with his family and friends as well as his colleagues in the ICRC," the statement said.
"We are aware that there have been more civilian casualties in the same area. The continued shelling of residential areas is unacceptable," the E.U. officials underlined, calling on all parties to the Ukrainian conflict "to fully respect International Humanitarian Law, protect civilians and humanitarian workers and to ensure unhindered access for humanitarian organizations."
Swiss citizen Laurent DuPasquier was killed in heavy artillery bombardment of central Donetsk on Thursday, according to the ICRC.

This post was published at RAI Novosti

Gas war escalates as Russia halves Slovakia supplies

Russia has cut gas deliveries to Slovakia by half in a bad sign for E.U. efforts to broker a deal on Ukraine.
Prime minister Robert Fico told press after a cabinet meeting in Bratislava on Wednesday (1 October) that the drop came without any warning.
He said his national distributor, SPP, can still "fulfill its commitments" on “reverse flow” to Ukraine and supply customers in Slovakia and the Czech Republic by buying extra volumes on the spot market.
But he criticised Russia, saying: "Gas has become a tool in a political fight … This isn't about a lack of gas, it’s about playing with gas supplies as an instrument of political posturing”.

This post was published at EU Observer

Keynesian Ideologue Joseph Stiglitz Opines on ‘Austerity’

The Many Errors of His Ways … An editorial by well-known leftist economist Joseph Stiglitz has recently been published in the Guardian, entitled’Austerity has been an utter disaster for the euro zone’.
Before we are taking a closer look at it, we want to stress that we also believe that the EU’s approach to economic policy is worth criticizing in many respects. Just because we believe that Mr. Stiglitz is essentially an economic crank doesn’t mean that we disagree with every criticism of the so-called ‘austerity’ policy as pursued by the EU. Below are several excerpts from his article with our comments interspersed.
‘If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the theory,’ goes the old adage. But too often it is easier to keep the theory and change the facts – or so German chancellor Angela Merkel and other pro-austerity European leaders appear to believe. Though facts keep staring them in the face, they continue to deny reality.’
The ‘old adage’ is actually a well-known bonmot by J. M. Keynes – curiously, Stiglitz doesn’t mention that. Although it has merit with respect to the natural sciences, it does not apply to economic theory, which is a science of human action and not a study of inanimate objects without volition. Theorems of economics cannot be proved or disproved with ‘empirical data’. We do e.g. not need empirical data to prove the truth of the theorem of marginal utility, or to create a price or value theory, or to prove the truth of the law of association, etc., etc..
All of these economic laws have been discovered by inner reflection and the process of logical deduction. They are only ‘empirical’ in a Thomist or Aristotelian sense (for a detailed explanation of this point of view, we refer readers to Rothbard’s monograph In Defense of Extreme Apriorism -pdf).
To put it differently: one can use economic theory to explain the facts of economic history, but one cannot use economic history to argue for or against points of economic theory. If we look at economic statistics, we see that every slice of history is slightly different, as the contingent data, which are always extremely complex and varied, are different in every case. And yet, the same economic laws have time and place-invariantly operated in every instance and will continue to do so for all eternity, or at least as long as there are human beings who can act with purpose. Stiglitz continues:

This post was published at Acting-Man on October 2, 2014.

‘Frozen conflict’ looming in east Ukraine, E.U. diplomats say

E.U. countries have decided to uphold Russia sanctions for now, despite a “weakening appetite” for the measures.
The E.U. foreign service on Tuesday (30 September) said that “while encouraging developments have been registered in the political process and in the implementation of some aspects of the Minsk protocol, relevant parts of the same protocol will need to be properly implemented” before sanctions are lifted.
It added that if things go well, the E.U. will in future consider proposals “to amend, suspend or repeal the set of sanctions in force, in all or in part”.
The communiqué was published after a debate by E.U. countries’ ambassadors in Brussels.

This post was published at EU Observer

E.U. Failed Again to Break ‘Vicious’ Sanctions Circle: Russia’s E.U. Envoy

The European Union has failed again to break the vicious circle of sanction mentality by refusing to lift the current sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, Russia's Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said Tuesday.
The European Union on Tuesday decided keep in place economic sanctions on Russia over its alleged backing of independence supporters in eastern Ukraine despite some "encouraging developments" in the situation.
"Unfortunately, it is still not happening, despite mounting signals indicating EU's attempts to look at the prospects and review the strategy of development of relations with Russia," Chizhov said, commenting on the EU decision.
"Let's see how our partners will act in the future, but at present we are not really 'inspired' by their behavior," the diplomat said, adding that the E.U. would most likely return to the discussion of the issue at the end of October.

This post was published at RAI Novosti

“Russia Could Ditch Dollar In 2-3 Years”; Deputy PM Warns Nuclear Subs “Could Reach Any Country On Any Continent”

“Two to three years is enough, not only to launch [settlements in rubles], but also to complete these mechanisms,” says Andrey Kostin, head of Russia’s second-biggest bank VTB, noting that the possibility of the US and EU widening sanctions to exclude Russia from the SWIFT global money transfer system would become ‘a point of no return’ making any further dialog impossible. However, as Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin explains in this interview, how Russia’s military and industrial complex is responding to a growing threat from America. Russia is not responding with any talk about the nuclear button (at least not yet); but they are preparing for such an eventuality: “we are creating a nuclear submarine fleet… capable of reaching any country on any continent, if [USA] suddenly becomes the aggressor, and our top-most national interests come under threat,” adding that Obama’s coup has ushered in “the complete demise of the Ukrainian State.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/30/2014.

Western-Backed Kiev Regime Burying the Truth About Its Atrocities?

The grim discovery of mass graves in southeastern Ukraine this week implicates the Kiev regime in further war crimes. At least three such burial sites have been uncovered in recent days since the withdrawal of Kiev’s military forces from the areas under its control, as part of a belated ceasefire deal. Meanwhile, Kiev President Petro Poroshenko declared that ‘the worst of the violence is over’ in Ukraine, with the latest ceasefire, he says, holding and Kiev’s forces withdrawing as latterly agreed. In the same speech, Poroshenko claimed that his country is on schedule to gain full membership of the European Union by the year 2020. Perhaps, Kiev’s EU ambitions are concentrating its efforts to end the violence – violence, it has to be said, that Kiev largely instigated in April this year. But as peace makes a tentative return in eastern Ukraine, the restored calm is giving rise to some eerie discoveries of possible war crimes – the latest being the unearthing of mass graves in territory that was, up to a few days ago, under the control of Kiev’s military forces for the past several months. Kiev’s military spokesmen have denied accusations from local people in the Donbass regions that its forces are responsible for the alleged atrocities. If that’s the case, then the Western-backed regime must heed Russian government demands to facilitate an immediate international crime investigation.

This post was published at Ron Paul Institute on saturday september 27, 2014.

G7 Urges to Continue Trilateral Talks Between EU, Ukraine, Russia

The foreign ministers of G7 countries stressed the importance of continuing trilateral talks between the European Union, Russia and Ukraine in a joint statement on Thursday.
"We welcome that the trilateral talks between Ukraine, Russia and the EU will continue. It is equally important to continue the discussions between Russia, Ukraine and the EU on resolving outstanding energy issues," reads the statement, released by the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and High Representative of the European Union.
On September 12, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union held a trilateral meeting, which resulted in a compromise to put off the implementation of Kiev's free trade pact with the EU until December 2015.

This post was published at RAI Novosti

Blue Ribbon for Sanction Craziness: Italy Seizes Hotel of Putin Ally; Russia Threatens Law Allowing Seizure of Foreign Assets

What’s Russia to do? Stand back and let the US and Europe escalate sanction after sanction, or respond in kind?
Either way, Russia loses. I believe Europe has the worst of it, but both suffer.
Hope for Sanity Appears to Be Lost Cause
By responding in kind, Russia hopes to put some sanity in the heads of US and EU officials. But with brains as dense as Obama, McCain, and various EU officials, hope for sanity appears to be a lost cause.
Sanction Madness Escalates: Italy Seizes Hotel of Putin Ally
Two days ago sanction madness hit a new extreme: Italy seizes Putin ally Arkady Rotenberg’s property assets.
The Italian tax police have seized 30m in assets, including a luxury hotel in Rome and two villas in Sardinia, controlled by Arkady Rotenberg, a longtime ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin targeted by US and EU sanctions.
The move comes amid continued tensions between Russia and the EU over Ukraine, and ahead of a possible visit by Mr Putin to Milan next month for a summit with European and Asian leaders that could offer a chance to rebuild some bridges…

This post was published at Global Economic Analysis on September 25, 2014.

Merkel Hopes to Settle Gas Dispute Between Russia and Ukraine

With a major trade meeting between Russia and Ukraine approaching, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has advocated Tuesday for a long-term solution to the gas dispute between the two countries on Tuesday, AP reports.
Merkel said said that although there have been some “small successes” to calm the Ukraine crisis, a long-term working solution has yet to be found. The dispute over payments for past deliveries and future gas prices is one of the major issues which must be resolved “as quickly as possible”, Merkel told on Tuesday.
The German Chancellor’s statement comes concurrently with E.U. Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger who warned Russia not to use gas as a weapon against Ukraine, AFP said.

This post was published at RAI Novosti

Obama Is Defeated in Ukraine. Status-Quo Truce-Lines Agreed.

Russia’s Leader Putin Rejects Ukrainian Separatists’ Aim to Become Part of Russia.
But Separatists Will Almost Certainly Receive Reconstruction Aid from Russia.
Eric Zuesse
The great German newspaper German Economic News, headlined on Saturday, September 20th, ‘Welcome Russia at the G20 summit: End of Isolation’ (German original: ‘Ende der Isolation: Russland bei G20-Gipfel willkommen’), and reported that, ‘Because the USA needs Russia in its fight against terror-IS, the G20 speculation to isolate Russia in the world community has been shelved. The conflict in the Eastern Ukraine is therefore classified as [being only] regionally [important].’ Moreover, ‘Americans and Russians agreed behind the scenes on a division of the Ukraine. … The Ukrainian government and the rebels in the east have agreed on the establishment of a buffer zone in the east of the country. … The resulting 30 km wide buffer zone along the [battle] front will be monitored by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).’
This is, essentially, the announcement introducing truce-lines, such as were established at the end of the Korean War and many others.
However, the foreign-affairs leader of the Ukrainian separatists says that their efforts to get Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to accept their territory as being a part of Russia have been firmly rejected by Putin’s Government; and, so, ‘We will build our own country.’
This important statement from the foreign-affairs leader Andrei Purgin on Wednesday, September 17th, was not headlined nor even the topic of any U. S. news report; it was instead inconspicuously buried halfway through an AP news story that focused on ‘East Ukraine Casualties.’ It’s common for propagandistic news reports, such as characterize the U. S. media, to bury what’s important in the news story, and not even to headline that crucial information, when that information violates the regime’s propaganda that they’ve been trumpeting. So: this information was buried, and was not headlined. The American media had portrayed Putin as the aggressor behind Ukraine’s war, and had hidden that Obama was actually the aggressor. The extremely violent February 22nd overthrow of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych was, as this proves, a fascist coup by the U. S. And as the transcript of the phone conversation between two EU officials shown here documents, they recognized on February 25th that it had been precisely that. Furthermore, President Obama’s agent, Victoria Nuland, on February 4th, had already selected Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whom she affectionately referred to there as ‘Yats,’ to run the country. And her U. S.-engineered coup in Ukraine didn’t occur until February 22nd, and it then installed ‘Yats’ to run the country.

This post was published at Washingtons Blog on September 21, 2014.

Russia Calls Law on Special Status of Donbas ‘Step in Right Direction’

Russia views the recent Ukrainian law on special status of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk region as a step in the right direction, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
"This document is regarded by Russia as a step in the right direction and in line with the agreements outlined in the Geneva joint statement by Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU on April 17, as well as in the Berlin declaration of July 2," the ministry said in a statement.
"It creates a foundation for the launch of a comprehensive constitutional process in Ukraine, including the start of a dialogue aimed at facilitating the national reconciliation in that country," the statement said.
The ministry also expressed hope that all the provisions of the law would be strictly implemented by Kiev authorities in order to avoid a return to confrontation and violence in eastern Ukraine.

This post was published at RAI Novosti

Scotland: Devolution in the 21st Century

Alone, Scotland will go back to being a failed state … Yes supporters are hoping Scotland will become a Scandinavian paradise. But with its history of bitter internal divisions, it is likely to go the opposite way. The Union was a success partly because it sublimated the bitter Scottish divisions in a larger United Kingdom. – UK Telegraph
Dominant Social Theme: What a disaster. The world needs a union, not a separation.
Free-Market Analysis: We’ve written about this once already, but we didn’t want to write about it again until the aftermath. But then it occurred to us that no matter what happens regarding Scotland, the entropy of the modern age has been advanced. And that’s a good thing.
We’ve been beating this particular drum for a number of years – in fact, over a decade now. The Internet, we came to believe, was a great Yang to the elite’s Yin. And that trend continues. Despite all the false-flags and strategies of control, the cultural conversation of the West and even the world is trending away from globalism.
Now, we’re also aware that the mainstream press has been giving the Scottish question an incredible amount of attention. That’s suspicious, of course, and there could be several explanations.
First of all, it could be that an independent Scotland is intended to writhe in splendid isolation, bereft of money, industry and influence in order to serve as an object lesson to others who may wish to take the same path.
Second, we can certainly imagine that an “independent” Scotland would be one that its officials would meekly guide into the waiting arms of the EU as quickly as possible, thus reinforcing the idea that in this day and age no single European entity can stand alone or apart from the waiting arms of Mother Europe.
Finally, there is the possibility that Scotland’s voters reject the idea of independence, which would presumably reduce the overt enthusiasm and support for similar movements elsewhere.

This post was published at The Daily Bell on September 18, 2014.

Putin, Merkel Discuss Ukrainian Ceasefire, Gas Deliveries to Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed in a phone call on Monday the situation around the current ceasefire regime and deliveries of Russian gas to Europe, the Kremlin said.
"Putin and Merkel exchanged opinions on the situation with deliveries of Russian natural gas to EU member-states and agreed that the consultations in a three party format should continue," a statement on the Kremlin website said.
The leaders also discussed the development of the situation in Ukraine with focus on the importance of strict compliance with the ceasefire regime by the sides of the internal Ukrainian conflict and the effective monitoring of the situation by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Kremlin said.

This post was published at RAI Novosti

Slovak Prime Minister Warns Ukraine of ‘Ultimate Disintegration’

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico on Saturday warned Ukraine about the perils associated with the European and possibly NATO integration, saying the east European nation was tittering on the brink of an ultimate collapse.
"I think that Ukraine will find it hard to stand against all the challenges associated with the EU integration, because it is now facing an absolute disintegration… I also disagree with the assumption that Ukraine could one day become a NATO member since this would undermine security in the region," Fico said in an interview with the Bratislava-based newspaper Novy Cas.
"Only diplomatic steps can put an end to what is now happening in Ukraine. Look, there's already been a third wave of senseless sanctions, and what has changed? Nothing. We can only expect more firm response measures from Russia," the Slovak official noted.
Robert Fico also told the country's daily that he would sooner step down than see a NATO military base built in Slovakia.

This post was published at RAI Novosti

Petrodollar Panic: EU Officials Admit Buying Oil From ISIS

We recently explained how ISIS remains so well funded but what was unclear was who exactly what purchasing their ‘recently-provisioned’ oil reserves? The assumption being some desperate third-world nation or some scheming offshore hedge-fund arbitrageur; however, as reports, a senior European Union official has revealed that some EU member states have purchased oil from ISIL Takfiri militants despite their rhetoric against the group. The official declined to disclose any names but Turkey remains a front-runner (having already shunned President Obama) andpotentially France (after their recent anti-Petrodollar comments).
As The Daily Signal’s Kelsey Harkness ( @kelseyjharkness ) notes,

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/15/2014.

Ukraine President’s Days Numbered After Broad Accusations Of “Betraying National Interests”

As we summarized late on Friday, while Europe has been banging the populist drums over ever-escalating Russian sanctions, it quietly and without much fanfare folded in the one place where Russia could have been truly hurt, the Free Trade (DFCTA) agreement between Ukraine and the EU. But while Europe would have loved for nobody to notice, some did, and not just on these pages: far more importantly, so did the citizens of Ukraine where as the WSJ reports, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko faces rising criticism for his decision to delay implementation of part of a European Union deal to avoid threatened Russian retaliation.
And this is why neither side can afford to blink, because the moment one side folds, its domestic support collapses. And blinking is precisely what Ukraine just did and with that it set in motion the events that will likely terminate prematurely the brief, irrelevant presidency of Ukraine’s “Chocolate Baron” Poroshenko.
From WSJ:
A senior diplomat resigned in protest over the weekend, and pro-European politicians who are competing with Mr. Poroshenko’s party in parliamentary elections next month blasted the decision as caving to Russia, which wants Ukraine to give up the deal and remain in its orbit. The tensions highlight how difficult it will be for Mr. Poroshenko to manage the competing pressures of a Kremlin that isn’t backing down and a domestic electorate that wants closer ties to Europe and no concessions to Moscow. On Friday, Ukraine and the EU agreed to put off implementing a landmark trade deal, which is part of a broader pact aimed at strengthening their ties, after Moscow threatened trade restrictions that would have crippled Ukraine’s already limping economy.
A cease-fire in the east, where Russia-backed rebels hold several towns and cities, is still largely holding despite scattered fighting. A government spokesman said Sunday that Ukrainian troops had repelled an assault on Donetsk airport by 200 pro-Russia rebels.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/15/2014.

Former BP CEO Warns “Sanctions Will Bite West” As US Gives Majors 14 Days To Wind Down Russian Activities

For the past six months, even as Obama and the EU were laying harsher sanctions on the Kremlin, one group of companies had managed to sneak by unscathed and largely avoided being impacted by Russia’s isolation by the West: the world’s biggest E&P companies, as explained in detail over a month ago in “Exxon Drilling Russian Arctic Shows Sanction Lack Bite.”
All that is about to change, because while sanctions until this moment had been largely intended tospecifically allow energy companies to continue their status quo in Russia, as of this Friday, it is precisely the E&Ps that are being targeted, as we noted on Friday, and as Reuters follows up today, reporting that some of the world’s largest companies, namely Exxon, Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, Norway’s Statoil and Italian ENI, will have to be put their Russian projects on hold: to wit, the companies will have 14 days to wind-down activities.
From Reuters:
Projects now in jeopardy include a landmark drilling program by U. S. giant Exxon Mobil in the Russian Arctic that started in August as part of a joint venture with the Kremlin’s oil champion Rosneft. Now this and dozens of other projects that Rosneft and Gazprom Neft agreed with Exxon, Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, Norway’s Statoil and Italian ENI will have to be put on hold.
“Cutting off U. S. and E. U. sources of technology and services and goods for those projects makes it impossible, or at least extraordinarily difficult for these projects to continue…There are not ready substitutes elsewhere,” a senior U. S. administration official told a briefing on Friday.
The companies will have 14 days to wind-down activities.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/14/2014.