Evening Blues Preview 7-14-15

This evening's music features blues harmonica player William Clarke.

Here are some stories from tonight's posting:

Iran and World's Major Powers Reach Historic Nuclear Deal

After more than a decade of wrangling and 18 days of intense negotiations, Iran and six world powers reached a historic nuclear deal on Tuesday — an agreement that could transform the Middle East and herald a new era in the relationship between Tehran and the west.

Iran will curb its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions, in a deal described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "a bad mistake of historic proportions."

Diplomats said Iran agreed to the continuation of a United Nations arms embargo on the country for up to five more years, though it could end earlier if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) definitively clears Iran of any current work on nuclear weapons. It's understood similar restrictions on ballistic missile technology will last another eight years.

Washington had sought to maintain the ban on Iran importing and exporting weapons, due to concerns that an Islamic Republic flush with cash from the nuclear deal would expand its military assistance for Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, Yemen's Houthi rebels, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other forces opposing America's Mideast allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Iranian leaders insisted the embargo had to end as their forces combat regional scourges such as the Islamic State. And they got some support from China and particularly Russia, which wants to expand military cooperation and arms sales to Tehran, including the long-delayed transfer of S-300 advanced air defense systems — a move long opposed by the United States.

Iran nuclear deal: world powers reach historic agreement to lift sanctions

Among the conditions of the agreement are:

  • Iran will reduce its enrichment capacity by two-thirds. It will stop using its underground facility at Fordow for enriching uranium.
  • Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium will be reduced to 300kg, a 96% reduction. It will achieve this reduction either by diluting it or shipping it out of the country.
  • The core of the heavy water reactor in Arak will be removed, and it will be redesigned in such a way that it will not produce significant amounts of plutonium.
  • Iran will allow UN inspectors to enter sites, including military sites, when the inspectors have grounds to believe undeclared nuclear activity is being carried out there. It can object but a multinational commission can override any objections by majority vote. After that Iran will have three days to comply. Inspectors will only come from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran, so no Americans.
  • Once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran has taken steps to shrink its programme, UN, US and EU sanctions will be lifted.
  • Restrictions on trade in conventional weapons will last another five years, and eight years in the case of ballistic missile technology.
  • If there are allegations that Iran has not met its obligations, a joint commission will seek to resolve the dispute for 30 days. If that effort fails it would be referred to the UN security council, which would have to vote to continue sanctions relief. A veto by a permanent member would mean that sanctions are reimposed. The whole process would take 65 days.

Golden Dawn will be strengthened by more austerity, Yanis Varoufakis warns

The former finance minister told the ABC the bailout agreement is a ‘new form of postmodern occupation’ and predicts Greece will fall into the grip of the far right

Austerity measures demanded of Greece by its European creditors will strengthen the far right, the country’s former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has said.

Varoufakis also dubbed the bailout agreement reached in Brussels this week as a new Treaty of Versailles, and a coup d’état which used banks instead of tanks. ...

The outspoken former minister, who resigned from his role after the national referendum, despite it returning the result he was calling for, told the ABC the far-right Golden Dawn party could “inherit the mantle of the anti-austerity drive, tragically”.

“If our party Syriza, that has cultivated so much hope in Greece – to the extent that we managed to score 61.5% in the recent referendum – if we betray this hope and if we bow our heads to this new form of postmodern occupation, then I cannot see any other possible outcome than the further strengthening of Golden Dawn,” Varoufakis said.

Alexis Tsipras battles own MPs over Greek bailout deal

Greek prime minister in talks with own MPs amid speculation he could be forced to form a national unity government and sideline leftwing Syriza faction

A beleaguered Alexis Tsipras was locked in talks on Tuesday with his own MPs amid speculation that the Greek prime minister could be forced to form a national unity government to push through the draconian bailout deal imposed by Brussels on debt-stricken Greece.

Facing a rebellion over the terms of a fresh €86bn (£61bn) rescue package, Tsipras has considered sidelining the increasingly belligerent leftwing faction in Syriza in favour of a broader coalition to push through spending cuts and painful reforms. ...

In Athens, one of the scenarios being considered is the formation of a cross-party government to not only push reforms through parliament but also play a role implementing them against what is likely to be stiff opposition.

The radical-left party is increasingly fighting a battle for survival in government with cadres saying Syriza’s overall aim is not to go down as a “left parenthesis” in power.

#ThisIsACoup: Greeks Denounce Bailout Deal That Calls for New Round of Austerity

The rise and fall of the German Empire: What Greece’s crippling bailout deal reveals about the future of Europe

The flag of Europe still has twelve stars on it, and organizations with names like Eurogroup and European Commission and European Council still persist. But despite the unfortunate historical overtones, in order to be accurate we need to call the governing body in Europe the German Empire, after the events of this weekend. And the thing about empires is that they end sooner or later, because human beings don’t much like to be controlled by an overlord they never elected or endorsed.

The end of the German Empire will not take place today. Greece folded, giving up their sovereignty and agreeing to all the creditors’ demands, even to sell off national assets, without achieving anything more than a vague promise of debt relief in return. They decided to accept the devil they knew – crushing austerity, a worse package than what was on the table just weeks ago – rather than the devil they didn’t – the Grexit. ...

As Wolfgang Munchau writes, expulsion from the German empire, with the explicit promise of economic immiseration down that road, is now squarely on the table in any future talks with Greece, or any other country that manages to get itself into trouble. And other countries will; at least, they will occasionally seek fiscal or monetary policy interventions at odds with the emperor’s wishes. There is no democratic political union anymore, it’s just a shotgun marriage run on threats.

Once you eliminate that democratic possibility of a Europe based on shared interests, once you affirm that only the interests of one ruling nation matters, there’s no real advantage to everyone sticking together other than fear. And fear doesn’t last forever, particularly when those supposed to be afraid of the unknown are stripped of everything they’ve got in the process. Does this mean that Britain will now leave the European Union, the subject of a coming vote? Does it mean that the next left-wing anti-austerity or right-wing Euroskeptic party that comes into power will not suffer the same fate as Syriza? It’s hard to predict when the German Empire will fall, just that it will.

Oh my, not a hint of self-dealing here:

Fund Proposed to Hold 50 bln Euros of Greek Assets Is Controlled by German Fin Min Schauble

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble proposed on Saturday that 50 billion euros of Greek public assets be transferred to an external fund and privatized over time. The fund he used as a suggestion, the Institution for Growth in Greece, is owned by the German bank KfW, whose current Chairman of the Board of Supervisory Directors is Schaeuble himself.

KfW is a German government-owned promotional bank. German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Supervisory Directors.

Keiser Report: Lethal Bloodlettings for Greece

Vultures are already circling Athens now the Troika is in charge

Just in case anyone was in any doubt about the extent of Greece's capitulation, Merkel was explicit at a press conference yesterday that eurozone leaders "made clear that a nominal haircut is ruled out". It was not enough that she won; she wanted to rub her victory in his face. Her performance was reminiscent of a boxer knocking out an opponent - then dousing him with water to wake him up so she can hit him again. Over and over.

It's an odd sort of victory. The debt that everyone - from the IMF to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble - has expressly admitted is unsustainable will remain at the same unsustainable level with eurozone leaders piling even more debt on top. The announcement is less an economic plan and more a sociological experiment - precisely how much austerity does it take to kill a country? With Greece's GDP already down 25pc, a precipitous decline usually only observed in post-war countries, we may not have to wait long to find out. ...

Syriza did its best, but it underestimated the eurozone's ideological obsession with austerity. For zealots like Schauble, austerity is a god - there is no evidence it works but he has unshakeable faith anyway. The IMF, Nobel Prize-winning economists and pretty much every other economist all agree that more austerity for Greece will be a disaster. But the Troika will inflict it anyway, throwing good money after bad and ensuring the Greeks never repay anything. ...

Meanwhile, even if a Grexit has been averted for now, the cost could be a Brexit, as the vindictive treatment of Greece has alienated the Left whose support David Cameron will rely on to win his forthcoming referendum.

Merkel is right when she says the most important currency in the eurozone is trust, but she has failed to recognise that there is a crisis of trust all over Europe - a crisis that will be much more damaging in the long-term than anything happening in Greece.

Tormenting Greece is about sending a message that we are now in a new EU

What’s the difference between the Mafia and the current European leadership? The Mafia makes you an offer you can’t refuse. The leaders of the European Union offer you a deal you can neither refuse nor accept without destroying yourself. ...

By closing the Greek banks, threatening Greek voters and countering the Greek government’s surrender with terms designed to be utterly humiliating, the EU and euro zone leadership finished off the notion of consent. All the waffle about solidarity and respect has been exploded and we are left with an EU based on six little letters: or else.

A new idea has been shoved into the foundations of the EU – the idea that a member state can and will be brought to heel. And brought to heel, not quietly or subtly, but openly and ritually in a Theatre of Cruelty designed for that sole purpose.

The whole idea of making flagrantly provocative demands – the initial insistence that €50 billion of Greek public assets be placed in a fund in Luxembourg being the most spectacular – was to demonstrate, not just to Greece but to all member states, that the EU is now a coercive institution.

Hungary Is Building a Wall Along the Serbian Border to Keep Migrants Out

Hungary is doing everything it can to keep out unwanted migrants, in spite of strong opposition from other European countries and human rights groups.

On Monday, the Hungarian Defense Force started building a temporary wall along the Serbian border to curb what government agencies describe as an unprecedented flow of undocumented people coming into the country.

"A daily average of 1,000 illegal border crossers are arriving in Hungary, so illegal immigration has become a severe problem and its control a prominent task," said a joint statement from Hungary's interior and defense ministries.

An estimated 80,000 refugees and migrants have reached Hungary this year — up from 43,000 in 2014. The vast majority of whom are arriving via Serbia from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Many will request asylum in Hungary then move onto other European Union countries such as Sweden and Germany.

The wall, which is planned to be four meters high and 110 miles long and cost around $35 million, was announced by the far-right Hungarian government in June to swift criticism from Serbia and beyond.

Destroying Syria to Make It Safe for American Values

“The Turks have passed by here; all is in ruins and mourning. “

So wrote France’s great writer, Victor Hugo, of the horrors he had witnessed during the Balkan liberation wars of the 1880’s. If Hugo were alive today, he might well have used the same haunting lines to describe the smoking wreckage of the Mideast. Except this time it was the United States, France and Britain who wrought havoc in the Arab world, assisted by modern Turkey.

The UN’s refugee czar, Antonio Guterres, just asserted that there are now 4,013,000 Syrian refugees outside their homeland, and another 7.6 million as internal refugees from the war raging there since 2011.

That total’s some 11.6 million refugees- a staggering 50% of Syria’s population. Over a quarter million are refugees in Europe; the rest spread across the Mideast with the largest numbers in Lebanon and Jordan. ...

Before the 2011 war, Syria used to be a vibrant, growing nation with beautiful old cities and a rich, ancient culture going back over 2,500 years. Damascus is believed to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. ...

The massacres and butchery in Syria is unprecedented in the Mideast. The carnage even exceeds the many horrors of the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war. Street fighting is destroying many of Syria’s villages, towns and cities. Beautiful Aleppo, a world heritage site, is being blown apart.

Syria’s anti-regime groups could not continue fighting without arms, munitions, medical supplies, radios and cash from the western powers. Washington’s fatuous claims it is deploying “moderate” jihads is a sour joke. The US is fully backing the region’s extremists against one of its oldest secular regimes. Who will finally win this multi-faceted civil war remains unclear.

But it is clear that Syria has been largely destroyed. It joins Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia in ruins and mourning – all examples of states that defied the American Raj. The plight of some 11 million Syrian refugees huddled in tents, drowning in the Mediterranean, or fleeing for their lives must be laid directly on Washington’s doorstep.

The nation of the Statue of Liberty is supposed to welcome and shelter huddled masses fleeing hunger and danger, not cause millions of refugees because of its ruinous Mideast policies.

Pope Calls on World Youth to Rise Up Against Global Capitalism

The latest call for a youth uprising against global capitalism came not from grassroots groups, but from the leader of the Catholic Church, who on Sunday gave a rousing speech during which he told a crowd of young people in Paraguay that it is their time to "make a mess."

The address marked the end of Pope Francis' week-long pilgrimage to Latin America, during which he also assailed the prevailing economic system as the "dung of the devil," saying that the systemic "greed for money" is a "subtle dictatorship" that "condemns and enslaves men and women." ...

"They wrote a speech for me to give you. But speeches are boring," Pope Francis said. "Make a mess, but then also help to tidy it up. A mess which gives us a free heart, a mess which gives us solidarity, a mess which gives us hope."

He also encouraged those present to look at their less fortunate peers, some of whom he met earlier in the day during a visit to the Banado Norte shantytown, and spoke of the connection between authentic liberty and responsibility and the necessity of fighting for the right to lead a dignified life.

AEI Expert: Iranians Think “Very Differently” From Us Because They’re “Nationalists”

Psychologists could torture because they have no Hippocratic oath

Killing by Committee in the Global Wild West

Fear Takes Root in Syriza

The Problem of Greece is Not Only a Tragedy: It is a Lie

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More than 238,000 of the 847,000 veterans in the pending backlog for health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs have already died, according to an internal VA document provided to The Huffington Post.
Flip to page 13 and you'll see some stark numbers. As of April, there were 847,822 veterans listed as pending for enrollment in VA health care. Of those, 238,657 are now deceased, meaning they died after they applied for, but never got, health care.
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After a weekend of fighting in the Western Ukrainian town of Mukacheva, President Petro Poroshenko ordered the nation’s security services and police to organize a disarmament of various far-right “illegal groups,” saying they would not be allowed to destabilize the country.
Poroshenko in particular took aim at the neo-Nazi Right Sector, saying he didn’t believe any political faction in Ukraine should have its own armed “criminal cells.” The Ukrainian government has long relied on the Right Sector for support since the ouster of the pro-Russian government, but seems to be splitting with them in recent months.

The Mukacheva fighting was believed to center around fighting by various right-wing factions over control of certain smuggling routes between Ukraine and Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania.

The Right Sector has ruled out disarming, insisting it needs its weaponry to defend the country against Russia. The group is harshly anti-Russian, and had previously been sending its fighters to the east to fight secessionists. The ceasefire is among the grievances of the Right Sector, which insists any peace with ethnic Russians is “unconstitutional.”

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joe shikspack's picture

hanging around to be inconvenient. popcorn time.

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sounds ominous

Right Sector is essentially Ukraine's largest private army, boasting 10,000 armed members nationwide. In weeks preceding the incident, the group ramped up its anti-government rhetoric in Mukacheve, labeling the country's elected government "an inner occupying force" and suggesting it should be overthrown.

In early July, Right Sector gathered several thousand supporters in Kyiv for a rally to protest what they called government "terror" against nationalists and the lack of reforms in the country, and to demand an offensive against pro-Russian militants in the east.

Right Sector: coup is coming

Last week, before the Mukacheve incident, VOA asked Right Sector spokesman Artem Skoropadsky to comment on the group's rhetoric and possible future course of action.

"If there's a new revolution, Ukraine's President Poroshenko and his teammates won't be able to make it out of the country the way the previous president [pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych] did," Skoropadsky told VOA. "They can't expect anything other than an execution in some dark vault, carried out by a group of young officers of Ukraine's army and National Guard."

Skoropadsky also said his organization is not calling for a coup, but that one is inevitable if the government remains deaf to the pleas of the volunteer battalions and the population.

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joe shikspack's picture

i've been reading speculation about a neo-nazi coup in kiev for quite a while. i wouldn't be surprised to see it happen. but on the other hand, i suspect that right sektor might be able to pull off a coup, but holding power is quite another thing. i don't think that they have developed the network of support from other governments that would be required to maintain power rather than just being considered emblematic of a failed state. on the third hand, perhaps there's something that the kaganate of nulands and the cia haven't been telling us.

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Earlier on Tuesday, a report from Reuters said there existed a "secret" IMF report that said Greece's debt was unsustainable.

This doesn't seem like a terribly controversial statement on its own — lots of people think Greece has a debt load that is completely untenable — but the problem is that going forward, Greece and its European creditors were expecting some more help from the IMF.

Writing in The Telegraph on Tuesday, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard said the IMF's memo, "set off a political earthquake in Europe."

Right now, Greece has until Wednesday to get a package of reforms through its parliament in order to get started on negotiations for a new bailout worth around 86 billion euros. And this package, as Evans-Pritchard notes, almost certainly assumes IMF funds will ultimately be involved.

But as The Financial Times' Peter Spiegel notes, the IMF is not allowed to participate in a bailout of a country it deems to be carrying an unsustainable debt burden.

And while Spiegel notes that the IMF has previously bent its rules to participate in Greek bailouts, this latest memo, reportedly presented to European leaders this weekend, could potentially be the organization signaling that unless there is debt relief included in Greece's latest package, it will not be participating.

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