Another elected official is confirmed for Bilderberg 2013, this time the Spanish Minister of Economy and Competitiveness and former Lehman Brothers advisor, Luis de Guindos. The minister will be attending at the request of Bilderberg’s Spanish steering committee member Juan Luis Cebrián.
Only last week I confirmed the newly elected leader of the Swedish social-democratic party, Stefan Löfven, has received an invite to the exclusive meeting planned for Hertfordshire in the beginning of June. De Guindos will be the second confirmed elected official participating in the event. These announced participants will be followed up by many more elected officials asked to join the secretive club at the Grove Hotel, at taxpayer’s expense of course, even if Bilderberg itself describes the annual meetings as “private”.
The attendance of De Guindos at this year’s confab is interesting in the fact that Spain is one of the first nations that found themselves on the wrong end of the financial stick after the crisis hit home in Europe- as was possibly arranged at last year’s meeting. As Daniel Estulin reported on in 2012:
“The key message from the (2012) meeting: come hell or high water, it is imperative to preserve the functioning of the banking system. Spain´s Vice President received a dose of humility when she tried to push the issue of “responsibility” telling her high powered German Bilderberg colleagues that they should issue Eurobonds to save the system. The reply was more than telling: “go pound sand, little girl.””
It’s important to make clear that the current Spanish Minister of Economy and Competitiveness was an adviser to Lehman Brothers up to 2007, making him partially responsible for the mess that Spain is finding itself caught up in a few years after.
It’s significant that a member of Bilderberg’s steering committee (Juan Luis Cebrián) is inviting De Guindos to the table this year. It reveals that Bilderberg wants to make sure their pro-Euro policies will be properly communicated to Spanish officials, who can then sell it to the nation as a painful but necessary thing. Just like their Greek counterparts, Spain’s elected officials are summoned to Bilderberg to streamline the global objectives by a group of international bankers with the preferred policy measures they would like to see implemented. One could say that these elected officials are committing a treasonous act, as they cannot disclose what has been decided. Being a former Lehman Brothers adviser, the Spanish minister probably won’t need too much encouragement to execute these objectives.
To illustrate the involvement of the Spanish power structure in the annual Bilderberg meetings, just check out the royal family’s Wikipedia page, noting that all of the prominent members of the family are members of Bilderberg. Queen Sofia attends Bilderberg on a very regular basis, as does her husband King Juan Carlos. Now elected officials get to go behind the backs of the Spanish people as they swear alliance to an unelected and unaccountable body.
by Helena Smith
‘Nobody knows which came first: the economic crisis tearing Greece apart or shisha, the drug now known as the “cocaine of the poor”. What everyone does accept is that shisha is a killer. And at €2 or less a hit, it is one that has come to stalk Greece, the country long on the frontline of Europe‘s financial meltdown.
“As drugs go, it is the worst. It burns your insides, it makes you aggressive and ensures that you go totally mad,” said Maria, a former heroin addict. “But it is cheap and it is easy to get, and it is what everyone is doing.”
The drug crisis, brought to light in a new film by Vice.com, has put Athens’s health authorities, already overwhelmed by draconian cuts, under further strain.
The drug of preference for thousands of homeless Greeks forced on to the streets by poverty and despair, shisha is described by both addicts and officials as a variant of crystal meth whose potential to send users into a state of mindless violence is underpinned by the substances with which the synthetic drug is frequently mixed: battery acid, engine oil and even shampoo.
Worse still, it is not only readily available, but easy to make – tailor-made for a society that despite official prognostications of optimism, and fiscal progress, on the ground, at least, sees little light at the end of the tunnel.’
Italy’s New Government Approval Rating Plummets From 43% To 34% In Three Weeks, Protests Return ~ Zero Hedge
by Tyler Durden
It was less than a month ago that the new Italian government of the pseudo-technocrat Letta, of Bilderberg 2012 and Aspen Institute fame, was voted in by a majority of the PD and the PDL parties (the latter agreeing so Berlusconi would get an extension of his much needed political immunity from assorted prison sentences). It may not last too long. As Reuters reports, it took just 20 days for Letta’s approval rating to plunge by 25%, dropping from 43% at the start of the month to 34%, according to an SWG institute poll. It would appear the Italian people (unlike their Japanese peers who at least according to government-controlled media data could not be happier with PM Abe, supposedly because of the bubblelicious 50% rise in the Nikkei225 year to date, even though under 20% are actually invested in the stock market making one wonder just how credible polling, and all other data in Japan actually is) don’t have Mrs. Watanabe’s childish fascination wth soaring stock bubbles, sexy bonds, mini skirts and 2% inflation bras, and instead demand real economic results. Which also means the protests are once again back.
by Terry Macalister
‘An EU crackdown on bankers’ bonuses in the City of London will just lead to a surge in basic salaries and other initiatives to circumvent regulations, experts warned on Saturday.
Banks, still unpopular for their leading role in the financial crisis, are keeping their avoidance plans under wraps, but industry figures were happy to boast privately that they could run rings round Brussels.
“Banks are pretty good at getting round rules,” said one senior financier. “If there are restrictions on us paying bonuses, we will be looking at paying some other kind of allowances.”‘
‘Slovenia said it was confident its newly-adopted action plan would stabilise public finances and lead to an economic recovery, a day after ratings agency Fitch downgraded the crisis-hit country.
[...] Fitch cut the nation’s main debt rating to ‘BBB+’ from A-, with a negative outlook, saying Slovenia’s “macroeconomic and fiscal outlook has deteriorated significantly”.
“The agency now forecasts a 2% contraction in real GDP in 2013 and a decline of 0.3% in 2014, when Slovenia is expected to be one of only two eurozone economies to contract,” Fitch said on Friday.
Slovenia has been widely tipped as the next country to require a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, and the ratings downgrade could substantially raise the cost of borrowing for politicians in Ljubljana.’
‘France became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage Saturday after President Francois Hollande signed it into law following months of bitter political debate.
Hollande acted a day after the Constitutional Council threw out a legal challenge by the right-wing opposition, which had been the last obstacle to passing the bill into law. The legislation also legalises gay adoption.
French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who steered the legislation through parliament, has said the first gay marriages could be celebrated as early as June.
But opponents of the measures have vowed to continue their campaign, with a major protest rally scheduled for May 26 in Paris.’
‘FRANCE’S NATIONAL Assembly and Senate have voted to extend the country’s military intervention in Mali. A resolution passed both houses of parliament on April 22. Not a single vote was cast in opposition.
[...] Presently, there are some 6,000 soldiers from African countries serving in a “peacekeeping” role in the south of Mali, while French soldiers are engaged in combat with Islamists in the north. Also, what’s called a military training mission by the European Union has some 200 soldiers on the ground and hundreds more providing supplies and equipment.’
‘The IMF has approved a three-year, $1.3 billion loan to jump start recovery in Cyprus and restore financial credibility to its indebted banking industry.
The funds will be distributed to stabilize the banking industry, tame the debt deficit, and to restore economic growth on the island.
The IMF announced on Wednesday it had approved the first $111 million (86 million euro) installment of the loan, which was made immediately available to the Cypriot government. The next installment of $1.3 (1 billion euro) will be wired before June 30th, 2013 and fostered by the Luxembourg-based European Stability Mechanism.
The bailout is part of a $13 billion (10 billion euro) monetary package funded by Troika lenders over the next three years.The financial assistance is intended to prevent a further crisis and to revive the economic pulse of the debt-stricken nation.’
by Tyler Durden
‘Confirming that in a world in which either commercial or central banks have to be constantly be churning out debt, and in a world in which Europe is doing neither (with European commercial loan growth posting sequential declines across the board, and the ECB’s balance sheet still declining although likely not for long), “growth” as defined by conventional standards, is impossible, we got today’s European Q1 GDP data. Not only was it bad, but it was even worse than most had expected.
And while Germany may have escaped a technical recession after its economy grew by the absolute minimum possible 0.1 percent in the first quarter (does it too also include intangibles in its GDP calculation one wonders) following a drop in Q4, it was France that officially double dipped into its second recession in four years with a 0.2 percent contraction and one year into Hollande’s term. As the Bloomberg Brief chart below shows, Germany and France account for 49 percent of euro-area output. Overall, the euro-area economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the first quarter. The region’s economy has been shrinking since October 2011, the longest recession since the start of monetary union.’
by Robert Hutton & Kitty Donaldson
‘Lawmakers from David Cameron’s Conservative Party voted against the government’s legislative program in a show of defiance over his policy toward the rest of Europe.
A total of 133 members of the 650-seat Parliament, 116 of them Conservative, voted yesterday to express “regret” over last week’s Queen’s Speech — when the legislative agenda is announced. They were unhappy that it didn’t include a provision for a referendum on continued European Union membership. Their bid was defeated by the combined votes of Cameron’s Liberal Democrat coalition partners and the opposition Labour Party.
It was the first time since 1946 that members of a governing party had lodged an objection to a Queen’s Speech, according to Philip Cowley, professor of politics at Nottingham University. Faced with the scale of the rebellion, Cameron was forced to declare the first so-called free vote on a Queen’s Speech since the 19th century, effectively saying that the governing party had no opinion on its own legislative program.’
‘High levels of military spending played a key role in the unfolding European sovereign debt crisis — and continue to undermine efforts to resolve it.
A new report by the Transnational Institute — ‘Guns, Debt and Corruption: Military Spending and the EU Crisis’ — looks at the ways in which excessive militarization directly fed into the unfolding European debt crisis, and continues to undermine efforts to resolve it. Below the downlink links and infographic you can find the executive summary of the report.‘
‘More than $4bn (£2.6bn) has been pledged to help rebuild Mali, at an international donor conference.
French President Francois Hollande, co-chair of the Brussels conference, said rich country pledges had exceeded the $2.5bn anticipated.
Mali’s president said the world had “unanimously moved in the direction of Mali”.
The conference is the first since France sent troops to oust Islamist rebels from northern Mali in January.
Mali’s government has a 4.3bn-euro plan for “a total relaunch of the country”.
It includes rebuilding government institutions and the military, repairing damaged infrastructure, organising presidential elections, holding dialogue with rebel groups in the north and stimulating the economy.’
‘President Francois Hollande will decide by the end of July whether France should impose new taxes on technology giants like Apple and Google to finance cultural projects, a move that could feed into an anti-business image days after a spat with Yahoo.
Socialist government asked former Canal Plus CEO Pierre Lescure to find new ways of funding culture during an economic downturn, in line with France’s “cultural exception” argument that such projects must be shielded from market forces.
While far from becoming laws, the proposals could worsen tension between France and technology giants after Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg blocked an attempt by Yahoo! to buy a majority stake in French video clip site Dailymotion.
The run-in reignited a debate on state intervention in the economy, angered the firm’s French parent company and exposed discord between Montebourg and Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, who denied having approved the move.’
by Silvia Aloisi and Sara Rossi
‘Italian prosecutors called on Monday for a six-year jail sentence and a lifetime ban on holding public office for centre-right leader and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is charged with abuse of office and paying for sex with a minor.
The 76-year-old billionaire media tycoon and senator is accused of paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug, better known by her stage name “Ruby the Heartstealer”, when she was under 18, during the now notorious “bunga bunga” parties at his villa at Arcore near Milan in 2010.
However, prosecutors considered by far the more serious charge was that he abused the powers of his office during a separate incident by arranging for her to be released from police custody where she was being held on theft charges.
They requested five years imprisonment for that and a year for paying for sex with a minor. The verdict is expected on June 24. But no final verdict will be enforced in either case until the appeals process, which can last for years, is exhausted.’
The European commission said its officers carried out “unannounced inspections” at several oil companies in London, the Netherlands and Norway to investigate claims they may have “colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency [PRA] to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products”.
The commission said the alleged price collusion, which may have been going on since 2002, could have had a “huge impact” on the price of petrol at the pumps “potentially harming final consumers”.
Lord Oakeshott, former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said the alleged rigging of oil prices was “as serious as rigging Libor” – which led to banks being fined hundreds of millions of pounds.’
‘The Conservatives will take the highly unusual step of publishing “draft legislation” which would write into law the pledge made by the Prime Minister earlier this year.
The draft Bill will be published on Tuesday amid growing pressure from Tory MPs and ministers for a referendum to be guaranteed in law.
The development, which emerged in Washington on Monday night, came after Barack Obama effectively backed Mr Cameron’s attempts to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU before ordering a referendum.’
The Huffington Post
‘President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday pledged to pursue a broad trade agreement between the U.S. and European Union, amid growing domestic unrest with the Obama administration’s plans to include new political powers for corporations in the deal.
Negotiations have not formally begun, but a series of meetings between U.S. and EU officials have established some ground rules and the preliminary scope of the talks. Since tariffs are already low or nonexistent, the agreement will focus on regulatory issues. That emphasis has concerned food safety advocates, environmental activists and public health experts, who fear a deal may roll back important standards.
[...]Granting corporations the political power to appeal regulations and laws to an international court is usually defended as a way to protect companies from arbitrary dictators or weak court systems in developing countries. But the expansion of the practice to first-world relations exposes that rationale as disingenuous. Rule of law in the U.S. and EU is considered strong because the court systems are among the most sophisticated and expert in the world.
Public interest groups said they worry that an investor-state resolution system between the U.S. and the EU would allow corporations to compare regulatory standards in different countries, and sue the nation with the strongest rules. EU food safety regulations, for instance, are more robust than those in the U.S., while American bank regulations are stricter than those the many EU countries, including the U.K.’
‘As Spanish unemployment reaches another record high, the residents of rural Marinaleda could be forgiven for feeling a little smug. In the small village in deepest Andalusia, the joblessness remains firmly – and almost certainly uniquely within Spain – at zero.
[...] Marinaleda is run along the lines of a communist Utopia and boasts collectivised lands (1,200 previously unused hectares, seized by a mass land-grab in 1990 from an aristocrat’s estate) which offer every villager the opportunity to work the fields, tending to root crops and olive groves. In Andalusia, where jobs are currently being lost at the rate of about 500 a day, any work is good work.
Marinaleda’s mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, has gained national notoriety and has even been dubbed the “Robin Hood of Spain” after he and a group of labourers refused to pay a supermarket for 10 shopping trolleys filled with food, which they distributed to the area’s food banks, sparking headlines in countries as far away as Iran.’
‘Bankers who had hoped that Lebanon would be spared the repercussions of the crisis in Cyprus would soon be disappointed.
At the last monthly board meeting of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, the governor of Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, rejected the Central Bank of Cyprus’ (CBC) suggestion that foreign parent banks provide guarantees equivalent to 20 percent of their deposits in Cypriot branches.
If the Cypriot measures are passed, estimates reveal that the guarantees required of Lebanese banks operating in Cyprus would amount to 500 million Euros ($655 million). Lebanese banks operating in Cyprus have been caught in the crossfire, specifically 11 banks with deposits worth 2.5 billion Euros ($3.2 billion).’
‘Vienna-based daily Presse claims that the “Group for the Future” is planning on transforming the political system in the Union.
The group was initiated by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
Foreign ministers of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Span have been holding regular meetings since the beginning of the year. They submitted their proposal to European Commission (EC) President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Central Bank Head Mario Draghi and Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday.
The EC president should have a more important role, similar to the role of a prime minister. The EC president would be elected in a direct vote and would be able to form their own team, Die Presse has reported, adding that the EC president would become the most influential politician in Europe since they would be responsible for new laws and their implementation.
The daily writes that completely new democratic structures are envisaged by the draft agreement. The EU should become a federal state modeled after the U.S., with a two-house parliamentary system and a president that would be elected in a direct vote.’
by Adam Elliott-Cooper
‘France opened 2013 with a series of airstrikes on Northern Mali to prevent “the establishment of a terrorist state”. At the time of writing, 11 civilians (including two children) have been killed, and according to the UN, an estimated 30,000 have been displaced. The morbid irony of the France’s leaders bombing people in order to prevent a “terrorist state” appears to be lost on them, but this may be due to their eyes being on something far more important – Mali’s economy.’
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 as part of the ‘Global War on Terror’ was a war in which France refused to directly participate. The general consensus is that the invasion of Iraq was a quest for oil, and yet the French invasion of Mali is not dissimilar.
Like its neighbour, Niger, Mali is rich in a number of resources, including uranium. Following the ‘oil shock’ of 1973 in which the oil producing nations sharply increased the price of oil, the French decided an alternative route was needed. This alternative was nuclear energy, and over the 15 years following the shock, France built 56 nuclear reactors, more than any other country in the world. France now has 59 nuclear reactors, generating nearly 80% of its electricity, making it the world’s largest net electricity exporter. In 1999, the French parliament confirmed three objectives in relation to this newly found wealth, the first: security of supply.’
‘Greece has threatened high school teachers with arrest if they go ahead with a nationwide strike that would disrupt university entrance exams that start this week, the official government gazette said.
It is the third time this year that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s government has invoked emergency law to force strikers back to work to try to show foreign lenders who bailed out Greece that the country is sticking to unpopular reforms.’
‘UK withdrawal from the European Union would not be as “cataclysmic” for British jobs as supporters of membership claim, London Mayor Boris Johnson has said.
Mr Johnson was speaking amid growing pressure on David Cameron over Europe, with Tory grandees like Lord Lawson and Michael Portillo advocating withdrawal and backbenchers hoping to force a Commons vote next week in protest at the Prime Minister’s failure to table legislation to pave the way for a referendum.
The Mayor said he did not back Lord Lawson’s call for the UK to quit the EU, but said that Britain must be ready to leave if Mr Cameron’s plan to renegotiate its membership following the 2015 general election does not bear fruit.’
‘The European Parliament president says measures to revive the European Union’s economy and create new jobs cannot be delayed until Germany’s September elections.
“The European Union has no time to wait until the German elections,” Martin Schulz said on Friday.
Schulz further called on the EU leaders to address youth unemployment, which is especially high in southern Europe, especially in Greece and Spain.’
‘Banks seized a total of 39,167 homes in Spain in 2012 as a result of foreclosure proceedings, according to a central bank survey of lenders published Friday.
The Banco de España study showed that in 83 percent of the cases the homes were primary dwellings.
The survey also revealed that more than half of the homes were turned over voluntarily by families. Of them, roughly 75 percent were handed over under the so-called “dacion en pago” procedure, whereby the lender fully discharges the borrower of the debt.
Banks seized the homes by court order in the other cases, with police intervention required on some occasions.’
‘A Spanish court on Tuesday suspended charges against Princess Cristina, saying there was not sufficient evidence that King Juan Carlos’s daughter had been an accomplice in an embezzlement case involving her husband.
Cristina, 47, was charged last month in the case, the first time a member of the royal family had been the subject of criminal proceedings since the Spanish monarchy was reinstated in the 1970s.
Tuesday’s ruling by the High Court of the Balearic island of Mallorca overturned an earlier judgment by Examining Magistrate Jose Castro, of a lower court. The charges could be reinstated if further evidence is unearthed, the High Court said.
The case, along with a number of other high-level corruption scandals – has deepened public discontent with the royal family and with alleged graft among the rich and powerful while many Spaniards struggle with 27 percent unemployment and a long-running recession.’
The prime minister defended his approach of seeking fundamental reform and holding a referendum on membership after 2015 as logical, sensible and practical.
The intervention, at an investment conference in central London, came after another senior Conservative urged an EU exit.’
by Mike Obel
International Business Times
‘Greek youth unemployment in February rose to 64.2 percent, the government’s Elstat statistics agency said Thursday.
The overall jobless rate in the debt-choked euro zone member country climbed to 27 percent from a downwardly revised 26.7 percent in January. That compares with a 24 percent unemployment rate for the monetary union as a whole and Germany’s best-in-class 7.6 percent unemployment rate.
Greece’s 64.2 percent jobless rate covers youths ages 15 to 24.’
‘A NEW BILL would see people prosecuted for putting fluoride into the water supply in Ireland – and they could serve up to five years in prison.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government, Brian Stanley TD published the Health Fluoridation of Water Supplies Repeal Bill 2013 today, in an effort to ensure the substance is removed from Irish water.
Stanley said that the fluoridation of our water started in 1964 after the introduction of the Fluoridation of Water Supplies Act 1960. The proposed bill would repeal this older bill.
In 1964, the late Gladys Ryan took her case to the High Court against water fluoridation, on the basis that citizens had no choice but to drink medicated water.
Ireland is one of four EU states that support fluoridation of water.’