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Posts Tagged ‘Newsweek’

The Greek crisis reveals a nation crushed by ancient history

Posted by hkarner - 9. Juli 2015

Date: 09-07-2015
Source: Newsweek

Greece has been shielded from its faults

Newsweek GreeceSitting at the café of the Technopolis cultural centre in downtown Athens, cigarillo in hand, Antonis Kafetzopoulos, one of Greece’s best-known actors, gives a quick digested history of Greece’s travails. Greece is a failed state and has been since our independence in the 1830s. We have not managed to build the kind of state we wanted. France had a revolution and an Enlightenment. But we didn’t follow that model. We always tried to compromise between the old Ottoman establishment and modern Europe,” he explains through a haze of blue smoke.

In the struggle between modernism and myth, the latter triumphed. “Our narrative focused on national values and our ancient history, rather than the state. That is partly because we were not a homogenous nation then,” he says.

“So every time we try to make reforms, the new authorities find that the previous ones left the situation untouched. One reason nothing seems to work in Greece is that we have so many layers of the old system under any new rules.”

The Technopolis at least, does work. With its raw brick walls, post-industrial chic, large open spaces and buzzing atmosphere, the Technopolis could fit in anywhere from Brooklyn to Berlin. A former municipal gas works, the site has been converted into a cultural centre and imaginative museum that transports visitors back to its 19th-century heyday. A hub for music, dance, theatre and performing arts, it has helped revitalise the city’s Gazi neighbourhood.

Now 63, Kafetzopoulos has joined the Athens municipality as a deputy mayor, he says, to try and make a difference. “When Greece joined the European Union, the money was channelled through the wrong people. It made a new rich elite. But now there is a new class, of people who are not corrupt but who are interested in making reforms and making Greece work. They are not united yet but reality will bring them together.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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German line hardens after Greeks reject bailout terms

Posted by hkarner - 7. Juli 2015

Date: 07-07-2015
Source: Newsweek

Merkel Hollande ccFrench President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

The German government signaled a tough line toward Greece on Monday, saying it saw no basis for new bailout negotiations and insisting it was up to Athens to move swiftly if it wanted to preserve its place in the eurozone.

With opinion toward Greece hardening in Germany’s ruling coalition after the landslide rejection of European bailout terms in a Sunday referendum, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she expected Athens to quickly roll out reform plans and her spokesman indirectly raised the prospect of a Greek exit from the bloc.

Merkel said the Greek government needed to put some proposals on the table this week, especially as the requirements to start negotiating about a concrete aid program from the eurozone’s bailout fund were not currently present.

“It will be important tomorrow that the Greek prime minister tells us how things should proceed and what precise suggestions he can submit to us for a medium-term program that will lead Greece to prosperity and growth again,” Merkel said in Paris, where she met French President Francois Hollande to agree a common stance on Greece. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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James Lovelock: ‘Saving the planet is a foolish, romantic extravagance’

Posted by hkarner - 1. Juni 2015

Date: 01-06-2015
Source: Newsweek

Lovelock ccJim Lovelock, environmentalist, scientist, and celebrated proposer of the Gaia hypothesis, has always taken the long view of Earth’s future. So it feels appropriate that he should have retired to a coastguard’s cottage perched above Chesil Beach on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast – so called because 180 million years of geological history lie exposed along its cliffs and coves.

This shoreline is constantly eroding. In the winter storms of 2013, Lovelock’s cottage was cut off for four days when the road leading to it was washed into the sea – not that Lovelock, whose latest book is entitled A Rough Ride to the Future, needed any reminder of the precariousness of our world. A decade ago, he predicted that billions would be wiped out by floods, drought and famine by 2040. He is more circumspect about that date these days, but he has not changed his underlying belief that the consequences of global warming will catch up with us eventually. His conviction that humans are incapable of reversing them – and that it is in any case too late to try – is also unaltered. In the week when the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change reported that the world is still miles off meeting its 2030 carbon emission targets, Lovelock cannot easily be dismissed.

There are other doomsayers. What makes this one so unusual is his confounding cheerfulness about the approaching apocalypse. His optimism rests on his faith in Gaia – his revolutionary theory, first formulated in the 1970s, that our planet is not just a rock but a complex, self-regulating organism geared to the long-term sustenance of life. This means, among other things, that if there are too many people for the Earth to support, Gaia – Earth – will find a way to get rid of the excess, and carry on. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Accidental Brexit: The UK Election Could See It Leaving the EU

Posted by hkarner - 1. April 2015

Date: 31-03-2015
Source: NewsWeek

Whether Ed Miliband or David Cameron end up in Number 10 Downing Street after May 7 could be the difference between Britain staying in or leaving the European Union.

David Cameron is being urged to hold an early referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union within the first year of any new Conservative government – possibly as soon as next spring – in a move designed to put the ‘out’ campaigners at a disadvantage and persuade the electorate to live with limited reforms to the club of nations’ rules.

The Conservative prime minister and his Labour rival, Ed Miliband, this week embarked on the final stages of a general election campaign so far dominated by two mainstream issues: the extent of the economic recovery, and which side can better safeguard the cherished but expensive National Health Service. Just beneath the surface, however, are existential questions about the United Kingdom’s identity and its place in the world.

The most pressing of these is whether Britain will remain part of the European Union and, if so, on what terms. Pro-Europeans in the UK are nervous that Britain will find itself moving towards ‘Brexit’, and doing so almost by accident, because David Cameron, himself in favour of remaining in the EU, has committed himself to an ‘in or out’ vote before the end of 2017, a vote he now finds he may lose. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Driverless Cars Will Put Half Our Cops Out of Work

Posted by hkarner - 20. März 2015

Date: 19-03-2015
Source: NewsWeek

Driverless cars may one day replace up to 50% of police officers behind the wheel, according to recent studies looking at the impact of autonomous cars on careers.

Recently, the McKinsey Global Institute published an article that predicted self-driving cars will disrupt major parts of the economy. Positive numbers from the article, such as 90 percent of all accidents would be prevented and commuters would gain 50 minutes a day of free time, were trumpeted in the news.

The press also focused on industries that would be harmed by driverless cars. The two largest industries that McKinsey noted would be hurt are auto insurers and auto repair shops.

McKinsey, however, missed one of the key ways in which self-driving cars will dramatically alter society: They will have a tremendous impact on police forces around the world, potentially cutting the need for them in half. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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You can’t find anything “made in Russia”- what they are good at is “destroyed by Russians”

Posted by hkarner - 14. November 2014

Date: 13-11-2014
Source: NEWSWEEK
Subject: Civilian Flights at Risk From Putin’s ‘Invisible’ Fighters

No sooner does Mikhail Gorbachev declare that the world is “on the brink” of a new Cold War than a report accuses Russia of putting civilian lives at risk from its “aggressive” and “highly disturbing” military tactics.

The European Leadership Network (ELN), a London-based think tank, claims that some Russian military planes have declined to use transponders to identify their positions when they are on forays into European airspace and therefore can not be detected by air traffic controllers.

The report details tensions prompted by the Ukraine crisis and concludes that it “adds up to a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions, close encounters at sea and other dangerous actions happening on a regular basis over a very wide geographical area”. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Who is going to stop these banksters? Not the UK

Posted by hkarner - 26. Oktober 2014

Date: 25-10-2014
Source: NewsWeek
Subject: Over Half of Europe’s Bankers Bypass the EU Bonus Cap

“This is an attempt to knock London off its perch,” declared the colourful Conservative mayor, Boris Johnson. “We’re not going to let it happen.” And that, in effect, is how the political game over the European Union’s cap on bankers’ bonuses has played out so far, after 18 months of rhetoric, legal argument and financial ingenuity.

A measure introduced by the European Parliament, with the declared aim of reducing risk in the financial sector – and the undeclared aim, perhaps, of punishing bankers for their role in the financial crisis and subsequent lack of remorse – stands accused by its targets, the bankers, of increasing risk and instability in their businesses.

Johnson has called it “possibly the most deluded measure to come from Europe since Diocletian tried to fix the price of groceries across the Roman Empire . . . it’s not just hostile to the greatest financial centre on earth. It’s hostile to growth across the EU. The most this measure can hope to achieve is a boost for Zurich and Singapore and New York at the expense of a struggling EU.” Lack of UK political support for the cap has meanwhile encouraged banks in London to make no secret of their use of pay mechanisms that circumvent it. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Germany: Angst, Torture, and the Reluctant Leadership of Europe

Posted by hkarner - 6. Oktober 2014

Date: 06-10-2014
Source: NewsWeek By Stephen Green Green CC

Between the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War and the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we examine Germany’s profound lessons for the developed world in the second of our Newsweek Essays. The author, Stephen Green, was chairman of the world’s second largest bank, HSBC, and served as the UK’s minister for trade and investment until 2013.

What do you call the country that sits at the heart of Europe, which is its biggest and strongest economy, and which increasingly calls the tune in the European Union? Not its leader. You can’t translate that word into German without making Germans wince – it still conjures up the nightmare of the Führer. Not the hegemon of Europe – a word sometimes hurled at Germany by Mediterranean politicians, who rail against what they see as its puritanical demands for eurozone austerity. Hegemony – the indirect rule exercised by one city-state over another in Greek antiquity – hardly does justice to two key hallmarks of the modern Germany: its consensualism, and its deep commitment to its own integration within the “ever-closer union” envisaged for the EU by its treaties.

A better image for the new Germany in the new Europe is that of a reluctant Meister.

Meister. The word conveys a sense of respect due to experienced excellence, which knows the secrets of success and leads by example. It has its roots in the world of commerce: the Meister has served one of those famous German apprentice­ships and is the honoured master of the craft. But also in culture: it is the Meister who conjures up the music from the orchestra. Now Germany is also the Weltmeister – the world champion – of the world’s favourite sport. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Why Europe’s Super Rich Are Resorting to Smuggling Cash

Posted by hkarner - 22. September 2014

Date: 21-09-2014
Source: NewsWeek

The man was sweating on the platform of the train station. Beads of perspiration dappled his forehead as he clutched his briefcase to his chest. For the plainclothes inspectors of French customs watching him at the Gare du Nord in Paris, he seemed a prime suspect in the latest crime wave sweeping a continent wracked by financial discord – cash smuggling.

Sure enough, a quick search of Boris Boillon’s briefcase turned up the contraband – €350,000 – in mostly €500 notes, which customs officers across Europe call “Bin Ladens” because they are the favourite currency of terrorists.

But it is not only terrorists moving them around countries, continents and time zones; it is the cash-strapped middle classes and a wealthy elite desperate to keep their savings from the claws of the taxman.

Boillon, a former ambassador to Iraq and Tunisia and the holder of a Legion of Honour medal, is but one of the “cash commuters” now being targeted by law enforcement across Europe.  Police in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland are investing in training dogs not to root out narcotics but the precise kind of ink and chemicals used in banknotes.

The catalyst for this extraordinary wave of illicit money-movement is the decision by banks in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Monaco to water down the age-old rules of secrecy governing accounts held by foreigners. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Art of Financial Warfare: How the West is pushing Putin’s buttons

Posted by hkarner - 25. April 2014

Date: 24-04-2014
Source: Newsweek

“We found out by Twitter,” an executive at Gunvor Group Ltd., the world’s fourth-largest oil trading firm, told Newsweek.

It was midday on March 20 when the executive, sitting at his office computer in Geneva, glanced up at the screen and got a jolt: A tweet had popped up saying one of the company’s founders, Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire Russian businessman, had been placed on a U.S. government blacklist, along with 31 other people and businesses said to be linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The previous day, Timchenko had finalized the sale of his 43.59 percent stake in Gunvor to his business partner, Torbjörn Törnqvist, a Swedish oil trader, the firm’s other co-founder and now its chief executive.

The two men conducted the transaction amid escalating tensions over Putin’s push into the Crimea region of Ukraine because “they saw the writing on the wall,” the executive explained, adding that “we weren’t tipped off” about the blacklist.

Gunvor had a narrow escape, and the message was heard loud and clear around the world: The first salvo in modern warfare is likely to be financial—and the result is increasingly effective.   

“Fifteen years ago, the idea that the Treasury Department would be at the center of our national security would have been inconceivable,” Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing at Treasury, said in an interview. “But we have developed a whole new set of tools to put at the president’s disposal.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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