Saturday, July 30, 2016

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker appointed former French commissioner for financial services as chief negotiator in charge of negotiations with the UK. Michel Barnier, a 65-year old former French minister and vice-president in the previous Commission between 2010-14, was in charge of the internal market and services.  He sought the job of EU Commission president in 2014, but the task was later given to Juncker, his rival in the conservative European People's Party.   Barnier said in a tweet that he was “honoured to be entrusted” with the post.  He added: "Rendez-vous for beginning of demanding task on 1 October." His official title will be "chief negotiator in charge of leading the Commission Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom" under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The UK has not yet triggered the exit procedure under Article 50, and British prime minister Theresa May suggested it is unlikely the UK will launch the process before the end of the year. Michel Barnier will report directly to Juncker and will have a team of experts at his disposal.  He will be regularly invited to the the meeting of the commissioners to brief the college on the negotiations. Juncker said he wanted "an experienced politician for this difficult job", adding: "Michel is a skilled negotiator with rich experience in major policy areas." Most of the negotiations are nevertheless expected to be done by the council, representing member states.  They will have to navigate through the difficult two-year negotiations and find a balance between the UK's access to the single market in exchange for some level of freedom of movement from and within the bloc.  Barnier's France has been urging for a tough exit deal for Britain, as French president Francois Hollande faces challenge ahead of next year's presidential elections from far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who wants France to hold a referendum on its membership.

Friday, July 29, 2016

UK = A report from the Home Affairs Committee said: "Past experience has shown that previous attempts to tighten immigration rules have led to a spike in immigration prior to the rules coming into force.  "Much will depend on the negotiations between the UK and the EU and the details of any deal to retain or constrain the free in the European Union."  It suggested three “cut off” dates for when EU citizens can apply for permanent UK residence: the June 23 referendum, the date Article 50 is triggered to begin Brexit talks or the day Britain actually leaves the bloc.  Mr Vaz said: "There is a clear lack of certainty in the Government's approach to the position of EU migrants resident in the UK and British citizens living in the EU...One in three lorries arriving in Britain do not have the security measures needed to keep out stowaways, border officials have also found as it emerged almost half of all people smuggling fines are never paid. Around 750,000 vehicles a year come to the UK without the necessary locks on doors and other measures needed to make sure illegal migrants cannot ride across the border undetected, according to the Border Force. Millions of pounds of penalties for people smuggling have also gone unpaid in recent years after thousands of foreign drivers were caught but failed to pay up.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

After the events in Nice, some citizens justifiably complained about the failure of the security measures, in an event celebrating the National Day of France. Furthermore, some of them have announced that they were going to ask the courts to decide who and to what extent was guilty for these criminal "lapses" in the procedures and measures for ensuring people's safety in a public event, which was known and prepared months in advance!!! What was the reaction of the "state"? More specifically, of some of those wallowing in the luxury of the privileges offered by the high official institutions, starting with impotent Hollande himself? They got offended!!! How can that be, some lowly citizens daring to accuse Its Majesty, the State, of failing to honor its contractual obligations???!!! And to add insult to injury, the Internal Affairs minister has announced the subjects of the state of Freedom, Equality and Fraternity that from now on, they can expect events like the one in Nice all the time, events which the state won't be able to prevent in the future, just like it wasn't able to deal with them in the past, as a result of universal fatality!!! The same chilling wind has started blowing in Germany, as, in less than two weeks, there have been three events involving lethal violence in public. So what is the State doing? Sleeping on the job? Who cares about all the paperwork, plans, resolutions and stamps put on who knows what papers, when people are getting killed by bullets, axes or machetes, or by devastating explosions? It is clear that somebody, and not just some persons, but institutions of the state, if not the State itself, is seriously, criminally liable to its citizens!!! It seems the time has come for citizens to hold the state to account. To note the failure to meet the contractual obligations and to plan the restructuring of the institutions that we collectively call the State from the ground up.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

 The "standard" model of coups organized by officers and failed is the Operation Valkyrie (Unternehmen Walkure), organized during WW2, to overthrow Hitler. The success or the failure of coups planned and executed by soldiers depends on successfully resolving three problems. The first is "concealment". Officers can't meet in secret in parks to plan a coup and they don't live for decades in foreign countries from where they are "dropped" in the country where they have to execute the coup! The solution always assumes the fact that the planning and staging activities of the coup are visible for the one whose removal from power is being sought, the supreme authority within the state, the supreme commander of the army, whether they are president or king. If the concealment of the coup doesn't work, then the military putsch will often fail in its embryo stage. In the case of Operation Valkyrie, the planning and organization was done under the pretense of a plan for exceptional situations, approved by Hitler himself, meant to prevent the loss of power under the pressure of a mass uprising of the population against the regime, due to the growing discontent and increasing sacrifices made in times of war, on the front as well as at home. It provided for the total transfer of the power in the hands of the reserve army, the legal dissolution and the dismantling of the other institutions of authority such as the SS or the Nazi party (NSDAP), the arrest of the leaders and the placing of the troops under the command of the commanders of military regions. The second condition is the quick removal of the head of state from the game, who legally holds authority over the army. Armies cannot function efficiently with divided loyalties. If the removal doesn't happen as soon as the coup starts, the odds of success fall proportionally, the longer the coup takes.
The 1943 version of the first public statement from the Valkyrie plan began with the words: "Fuhrer Adolf Hitler is dead" !!! In the real "movie" of the operation this item didn't work out, due to the failure of the attack of July 20th.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The eurozone economy grew by 0.6 percent in this year’s first four months, compared to 0.4 percent in last year’s final quarter. Growth is expected to continue this year, although at a lower pace.
Draghi stressed that it was “essential that the bank lending channel continues to function well” in the eurozone.  He said that non-performing loans (NPLs) - bad loans that weigh on banks' results - were a “significant problem for future profitability and for the capacity and the ability the banks have for lending."  The problem is acute in Italy, where banks are faced with up to €360 billion of bad debts. Draghi, a former governor of the Bank of Italy, said the Italian banks issue was “a big problem” that will take time to address.  He said the solution was to create a market to trade NPLs and that governments should pass legislation to foster its development.  He also suggested that public money could be used as a backstop “when in times of exceptional circumstances the NPL market is not well functioning” and to avoid fire sales.  He said the measure would be “useful” but should be agreed with the European Commission.

 He stopped short of saying a public backstop should be put in place to solve the Italian banking crisis. Eurozone politicians outside Italy have so far said this was not necessary.  Pressed to comment on the possibility that Spain and Portugal could be sanctioned by the EU for their excessive deficits, Draghi said the decision was “entirely in the hands of European Commission”.  The EU executive “has the responsibility, the power and the knowledge to take a decision,” he said.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, will stand trial over a state payout to the French tycoon Bernard Tapie, an appeals court has ruled.  She is charged with negligence over the award to Mr Tapie of €404m ($445m; £339m) in 2008 when she was France's economy minister. Ms Lagarde had appealed against a lower court ruling from December. She is now expected to appear before a special court for government ministers.  The case stems from Mr Tapie's sale of his majority stake in the sports equipment company, Adidas, which was handled by the state-owned bank, Credit Lyonnais. The businessman sued for compensation after claiming he was defrauded by the bank and received too little from the sale in 1993.  Ms Lagarde was responsible for the rare decision to appoint an arbitration panel, rather than allowing the courts to decide on the dispute.  She served as economy minister when President Nicolas Sarkozy was in office. Mr Tapie was a supporter of Mr Sarkozy and there were allegations this may have played a role in her decision. She has always denied any wrongdoing, saying she acted in the interest of the state and with respect for the law.  After learning of the decision by France's highest appeals court, Ms Lagarde's lawyer, Patrick Maisonneuve, said he was convinced that the trial would show she was innocent. Reacting to the latest ruling, the IMF said the executive board continued to express confidence in her ability to carry out her duties and was being briefed on developments. Ms Lagarde, who was given a second five-year term as IMF managing director in January, is the third head of the organisation to face legal proceedings. For his part, Mr Tapie is currently appealing against a French court's decision to dismiss the settlement at the heart of the case.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

President Francois Hollande has been trying throughout his term to reduce unemployment, long around 10 percent.  Left-wing rebels, who have already failed twice by just two votes in their bid to win a censorship motion against the bill, said they would make a last-ditch attempt to muster 60 signatures from MPs to seize France's Constitutional Council for "non respect of parliamentary debate" after the prime minister rushed through the law without a vote for the third time.  Despite the final vote, leftist unions insisted the fight to see the law scrapped - which has seen dozens of sometimes violent mass protests in recent months and blockades of fuel depots - will continue after a "summer pause". "The anger is still there. The government hasn't seen the end of this," said Philippe Martinez, whose CGT union has spearheaded militant opposition to the law. FO, another leftist union, said that the final debate on the law should have been postponed "for democratic reasons" given the "context linked to terror attacks and the debate going on in parliament on prolonging the state of emergency". The small and medium-sized businesses union, CGPME has dismissed the law, saying it "won't help in any way to create jobs". The larger employers' union Medef has called the reform "failed" as it watered down several key points but said it brings progresses in some areas. In a scathing editorial, Le Monde, the daily newspaper of reference, said the government had "pulled off the feat of turning this 'great social reform' into a fiasco" due to a "calamitous method" that has split the Left, the labour and employers' unions.