Friday, September 23, 2016

Greece Rejects Asylum Requests by Three Turkish Officers

Trio were part of group of eight soldiers who fled after failed coup attempt in Turkey

The Wall Street Journal


Sept. 21, 2016 1:08 p.m. ET

ATHENS—Three of the eight Turkish army officers who fled to Greece after July’s failed coup attempt in Turkey have had their asylum requests rejected, a Greek government official said Wednesday.

The requests of two of the officers were rejected owing to a lack of cooperation with authorities, a second Greek government official said. All three have the right to appeal.

Amnesty: Refugees in Greece Live in 'Appalling Conditions'

SEPT. 22, 2016, 9:55 A.M. E.D.T.

The New  York Times

ATHENS, Greece — Most of the roughly 60,000 refugees and other migrants stranded in Greece are living in "appalling conditions" and face "immense and avoidable suffering," rights group Amnesty International said in a report Thursday slamming Europe's response to the refugee crisis.

The group criticized Europe for failing to fulfill commitments to relocate refugees from the countries they entered, saying only 6 percent — about 4,000 people — of the 66,400 relocations promised over two years have taken place.

COSCO sees Greece's Piraeus among world's top 30 ports by 2018

Thu Sep 22, 2016 | 2:10pm EDT


By Angeliki Koutantou | ATHENS
China's biggest shipping company, COSCO Shipping, plans to ramp up container volume at Greece's biggest port in Piraeus by 35 percent by 2018, the port's new managing director, Fu Cheng Qiu, told Reuters on Thursday.

COSCO Shipping, which owns the world's fourth-largest container shipping fleet, bought 51 percent of the port's operating company last month for 280.5 million euros ($315.5 million), one of Greece's biggest and most strategic privatizations since a debt crisis began in 2009.

Potemkin Euro-armies

Grand talk of a “defence union” risks exposing Europe’s weakness
Sep 24th 2016 | From the print edition

The Economist

THE idea of a European army is as old as the hope for European unity. After creating the European Coal and Steel Community, the embryo of today’s European Union, the six founding members agreed in 1952 to form a supranational European force. But the plan was voted down by the French parliament; thereafter countries focused on gradual economic integration.

Banks Said to Plan for Loss of Euro Clearing After Brexit

September 22, 2016 — 2:01 AM EEST Updated on September 22, 2016 — 2:33 PM EEST

Executives at global investment banks in London expect France and Germany will prevail in a tussle over the clearing of $570 billion of euro derivatives and are making plans to deal with the fallout, according to people at four of the biggest firms.
They assume the City of London will eventually be stripped of the ability to clear euro denominated swaps after Britain formally exits the European Union, said the people involved in their firms’ contingency planning, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. While that might take years to happen, employees and operations central to the clearing function will be among the first moved to the continent once Brexit is triggered, one person said.
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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Greece’s Alexis Tsipras Seeks to Revive his Political Fortunes on Economic Promises

Europe’s most electorally successful populist has become nearly as unpopular as the Greek political establishment he ousted almost two years ago

The Wall Street Journal

Sept. 11, 2016 2:15 p.m. ET

THESSALONIKI, Greece—Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, languishing in polls, sought to reboot his premiership over the weekend. But his economically depressed country has largely given up hope on the imminent change he is promising.

Europe’s most electorally successful populist has become nearly as unpopular as the Greek political establishment he ousted almost two years ago. A recent survey showed only 19% of Greeks view him favorably and 85% are dissatisfied with his government.

Syriza Strains Greece’s Credibility

The country’s hard-left government continues to put politics before reform.

The Wall Street Journal

Sept. 7, 2016 3:23 p.m. ET

Independent institutions remain anathema to the government in Greece. Two cases that have dominated the headlines in recent weeks demonstrate how the country’s populist government, led by the hard-left Syriza party, continues to put politics before reform and refuses to learn the right lessons from the country’s recent past.
The criminal case against economist Andreas Georgiou returned to the spotlight last month when it was reopened by the country’s Supreme Court. A longtime official with the International Monetary Fund, Mr. Georgiou had been appointed six years ago to head the independent Hellenistic Statistical Authority, or Elstat. The prime minister at the time, George Papandreou, created Elstat as a response to the discovery that the government under his predecessor, Costas Karamanlis, had underreported the country’s fiscal deficit.

'Times are changing, pay your taxes', euro zone chief tells corporations

Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:50am EDT


By Francesco Guarascio and Jason Hovet | BRATISLAVA
Multinational companies should refrain from tax-avoidance practices and pay their fair share, the head of euro zone finance ministers said on Saturday in a new endorsement of the European Union's fight against tax-dodging.

In the wake of the 'Panama Papers' revelations of widespread tax-avoidance practices, Brussels has toughened up its drive for fairness by tightening controls and adopting stricter rules.

The recent shock multi-billion euro tax demand on Apple (AAPL.O) was part of that trend as the EU also drafts plans for a common corporate tax base and a single European blacklist for tax havens.

Did Hillary Clinton just make her own ‘47 percent’ gaffe?

The Washington Post

By Aaron Blake September 10 at 2:11 PM

Update: Clinton has expressed "regret" for using the word "half." See her statement at the bottom of this post.

Hillary Clinton said Friday night in New York that half of Donald Trump's supporters are racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic and/or Islamophobic.

At an "LGBT for Hillary" fundraiser, where Barbra Streisand performed, Clinton expanded on previous comments about many Trump supporters falling into a "basket of deplorables" that includes the groups listed above.

Monday, September 5, 2016

U.S., Russia not yet eye-to-eye on possible resumption of Syrian cease-fire

The Washington Post
By William Wan, Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly September 4 at 2:05 PM

HANGZHOU, China— Efforts by the United States and Russia to forge a deal for a cease-fire in Syria and to coordinate their counterterrorism operations there faltered again Sunday, even as a major new Syrian-Russian offensive in the besieged city of Aleppo appeared to undermine key components of the proposed agreement.

After an anticipated news conference did not take place, Secretary of State John F. Kerry told reporters that his negotiations here with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov snagged on “a couple of tough issues” — nearly identical to the language he used when the two failed to reach agreement in their last meeting, just over a week ago in Geneva. Officials said they would meet again Monday.

EU will not release more bailout money for Greece this month: paper

Sun Sep 4, 2016 3:09pm EDT

The euro zone will not release additional bailout money for Greece at a meeting in Bratislava this month, Germany's Handelsblatt Global reported on Sunday, citing European Union diplomats.

The online edition of the German business daily quoted the diplomats as saying that Athens had only implemented two of 15 political reforms that are conditions for the bailout money. Above all, they said, Greece had been slow to privatize state assets.

Under a deal signed last year with euro zone countries, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the ESM will provide financial assistance of up to 86 billion euros to Greece by 2018 in return for the agreed reforms.

Friday, September 2, 2016

China Will Try to Deflect G-20 Complaints at Hangzhou Summit

Amid backlash against globalization, Beijing casts itself as victim—not cause—of ‘trade protectionism’
The Wall Street Journal
Updated Sept. 1, 2016 12:31 a.m. ET
BEIJING—A summit of major economies meant to be a moment of glory for China coincides with a world-wide backlash against globalization—and much of it is blamed on China.

Beijing sees gatherings of world leaders as its chance to emphasize China’s ascending role on the world stage, and spares no effort to ensure outsize pomp—or blue skies—for the occasion. But as President Xi Jinping prepares to welcome leaders of the Group of 20 economies to the ancient city of Hangzhou, keeping China from being singled out as a hindrance to global growth is increasingly emerging as a goal.

Britain’s post-Brexit warning for Americans seduced by Trump

The Washington Post
By Sebastian Mallaby September 1 at 11:58 AM

Donald Trump’s ungainly back-and-forth on immigration has a parallel in Britain, which is struggling to make sense of its own impetuous resolution to take control of its borders. Indeed, if Britain after the Brexit referendum is anything to go by, a Trump presidency would be dominated by zigzagging: sometimes to dilute past promises, sometimes to double down. In the terrifying event that Trump actually became president, you’d hear supporters grumbling bitterly about treachery — even as critics wondered furiously why impractical campaign pronouncements were so seductive for so long.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

2 Months After ‘Brexit’ Vote, Britain’s Push to Leave E.U. Is a Muddle


The New York Times

LONDON — Since Britain’s vote in June to quit the European Union, its government has promised repeatedly to make a success of withdrawal, known as Brexit.

More than two months later, however, it still cannot say how.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May called cabinet ministers to a brainstorming session about the withdrawal, pledging to examine “the next steps” for Britain and to identify “opportunities that are now open to us as we forge a new role” in the world.

Syria war: Turkey hits out at US over Kurds comments

31 August 2016
Turkey has hit out at the United States over criticism of its ongoing role in the conflict in Syria.
Turkish forces have targeted so-called Islamic State (IS) inside Syria, but have also gone after Kurdish fighters in the same region.
The pursuit of Kurdish forces, whom Ankara considers terrorists, has led to criticism by the United States.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Greece Cracks Down on ‘Triangle of Corruption’ in TV


The New York Times

ATHENS — Since Greece opened its media to private broadcasting in the 1980s, the market has been an almost unregulated scrum. Licenses are given out on an ad hoc basis. Media outlets have proliferated. The chaos ushered in hundreds of millions of dollars of debt and invited the undue influence of banks, media barons and successive governments.

Now, the government led by the leftist Syriza party under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says it wants to crack down on what it characterizes as a “triangle of corruption,” by auctioning off a limited number of licenses on Tuesday.

But whether that effort is actually aimed at bringing order to the market or is yet another attempt by a Greek government to shape the media to its advantage has set off a hot debate and an intense wrangle for power here.

After Initial Drop, Fresh Surge in Migrant Arrivals Puts Extra Strain on Greece

Rising numbers of asylum seekers disregard Europe’s strategy to deter them from making the journey

The Wall Street Journal

Aug. 30, 2016 6:47 p.m. ET
CHIOS, Greece— Yasmin Ali made the perilous crossing from Turkey to this Aegean island two weeks ago even though she knew she would be trapped here, unable to travel farther into Europe.

The 19-year-old Syrian economics student is one of a rising number of people disregarding Europe’s double strategy for deterring mass migration—a deal with Turkey to return new arrivals, and the closure of Balkan borders to the north—and stretching Greece’s capacity to absorb more asylum seekers even thinner.

Japanese Government Urges Another Increase in Military Spending

The New York Times

TOKYO — The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is requesting another increase in spending on Japan’s armed forces, with a plan to expand missile defenses that would test the nation’s commitment to pacifism and escalate a regional arms race with China and North Korea.

With rising threats from North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program and repeated incursions by Chinese ships into waters surrounding a string of islands claimed by Japan, the request would let the Defense Ministry develop new antiballistic missiles and place troops on southern islands closer to the chain in dispute with China.

If approved, the budget proposal for 5.17 trillion yen, or $50.2 billion, formally submitted on Wednesday, would be the nation’s fifth-straight annual increase in military spending. It is a 2.3 percent rise over last year.

Why Euro Looks Stuck Even as Fed Gears Up to Move

On a trade-weighted basis, the euro has actually risen since quantitative easing started in 2015
The Wall Street Journal

Aug. 30, 2016 7:36 a.m. ET
Once upon a time, signs the Federal Reserve was gearing up to increase rates would have been big news for the euro. Policy divergence was a key focus for foreign-exchange traders. But times have changed.

True, the euro declined against the dollar in the wake of the Jackson Hole conference, but it was far from an extraordinary move. And the bigger picture is that at $1.117, the single currency is in the middle of a relatively narrow range that has held since February.

China charges American with espionage ahead of Obama’s Asia trip

The Washington Post

By Emily Rauhala August 30 at 10:37 AM
BEIJING — An American consultant who has been detained in China for more than a year has been formally charged with spying — news that could further complicate U.S.-China ties ahead of President Obama’s trip to Asia.

Sandy Phan-Gillis, 56, of Houston was arrested in March 2015 while traveling in southern China with a trade delegation and has been held without charge since.

“Based on our understanding, Phan-Gillis, because of suspected espionage, has been charged according to law by the relevant Chinese department,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said in a news conference Tuesday.