Category Archives: European Union

France to send heavy artillery to Iraq in fight against ISIS

Al Jazeera reports:

French President Francois Hollande has said that France will send heavy artillery to Iraq to support the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Hollande announced the plan on Friday, saying the artillery equipment “will be in place next month”.

Ground forces will not be deployed in the country, Hollande said, following a high-level security meeting in Paris, his fourth since the ISIL-claimed lorry attack in Nice on July 14, which killed 84 people.

The president also reiterated that the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle would be deployed in the region in late September to help in ongoing operations against ISIL, also known as ISIS.

READ MORE…

Munich gunman fixated on mass killing, had no Islamist ties

Joern Poltz and Karin Strohecker report for Reuters:

A video purporting to show the shooter, dressed in black, firing 20 shots has been posted on TwitterA German-Iranian teenager who shot dead nine people in Munich was a deranged lone gunman obsessed with mass killings who drew no inspiration from Islamist militancy, police said on Saturday.

The 18-year-old, born and raised locally, opened fire near a busy shopping mall on Friday evening, triggering a lockdown in the Bavarian state capital.

Seven of his victims were themselves teenagers, who police said he may have lured to their deaths via a hacked Facebook account on what was the fifth anniversary of twin attacks by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik that killed 77 people.

The Munich shooting, in which a further 27 people were wounded, some seriously, was the third act of violence against civilians in Western Europe – and the second in southern Germany – in eight days.

READ MORE…

Will Trump Policy Unravel Traditional Neocons?

Sharmini Peries speaks to economist Michael Hudson who says Donald Trump’s divergence from the conventional Republican platform is generating indignant punditry from neocons and neoliberals alike. (The Real News)

EU eyes Israeli technologies for spotting militants online

Dan Williams reports for Reuters:

European powers are trying to develop better means for pre-emptively spotting “lone-wolf” militants from their online activities and are looking to Israeli-developed technologies, a senior EU security official said on Tuesday.

Last week’s truck rampage in France and Monday’s axe attack aboard a train in Germany have raised European concern about self-radicalized assailants who have little or no communications with militant groups that could be intercepted by spy agencies.

“How do you capture some signs of someone who has no contact with any organization, is just inspired and started expressing some kind of allegiance? I don’t know. It’s a challenge,” EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove told Reuters on the sidelines of a intelligence conference in Tel Aviv.

READ MORE…

A Third of Nice Truck Attack’s Dead Were Muslim, Group Says

Alissa J. Rubin and Lilia Blaise report for The New York Times:

When a Tunisian man drove a truck down a crowded street in Nice last week in an attack claimed by the Islamic State, more than one-third of the people he killed were Muslim, the head of a regional Islamic association said on Tuesday.

Kawthar Ben Salem, a spokeswoman for the Union of Muslims of the Alpes-Maritimes, said that Muslim funerals were being held for at least 30 of those who died during the Bastille Day attack, including men, women and children.

The Paris prosecutor’s office, which handles terrorism investigations, said on Tuesday that all 84 people killed in the attack had been formally identified, meaning that the number of Muslim fatalities may be even higher. The number of people who were wounded was also raised, to 308 people.

READ MORE…

Turkey Coup: Erdogan Purges 20,000 As EU Commissioner Voices Concern Over “Prepared Arrest Lists”

Tyler Durden reports for Zero Hedge:

[…] In total, approximately 20,000 political opponents “purged” just days after the conclusion of the failed coup.

At the same time speculation that the terribly planned “coup” was anything but came from the European Commission itself. As Reuters adds, the swift rounding up of judges and others after a failed coup in Turkey indicated the government had prepared a list beforehand, according to EU commissioner dealing with Turkey’s membership bid, Johannes Hahn, said on Monday.

“It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage,” Hahn said. “I’m very concerned. It is exactly what we feared.”

It is also exactly what Erdogan has expected and hoped for. And with broad western support for Erdogan over the weekend, his mission to concentrate all Turkish power in his own hands is now assured.

READ MORE…

The 50 American H-Bombs in Turkey

Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, writes for The New Yorker:

B-61 nuclear bombs, the same model as those stored by the U.S. at airbases in various NATO countries, often under lax safeguards.[…] According to Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, underground vaults at Incirlik hold about fifty B-61 hydrogen bombs—more than twenty-five per cent of the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile. The nuclear yield of the B-61 can be adjusted to suit a particular mission. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima had an explosive force equivalent to about fifteen kilotons of TNT. In comparison, the “dial-a-yield” of the B-61 bombs at Incirlik can be adjusted from 0.3 kilotons to as many as a hundred and seventy kilotons.

Incirlik was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the wake of the Second World War; when Turkey joined NATO, in 1952, it became a crucial American base during the Cold War. With a flight time of about an hour to the Soviet Union, the base hosted American fighters, bombers, tankers, and U-2 spy planes. And, like many NATO bases, it stored American nuclear weapons. NATO strategy was dependent on nuclear weapons as a counterbalance to the perceived superiority of Soviet conventional forces. The threat of a nuclear attack, it was assumed, would deter Soviet tanks from rolling into NATO territory. And granting NATO countries access to nuclear weapons would strengthen the alliance, providing tangible evidence that the United States would risk a nuclear war for NATO’s defense.

READ MORE…

Women Rule the World: Don’t Celebrate Yet, Feminists

Kathleen Geier writes for New Republic:

Theresa May hadn’t been sworn in as Great Britain’s prime minister yet, but already some feminists were uncorking the champagne. “Is Theresa May Britain’s most feminist Prime Minister ever?” asked The Telegraph’s Radhika Sanghani. May is “passionate about women’s rights,” gushed Catherine Meyer, a former treasurer of the Conservative Party. The Globe and Mail’s Elizabeth Renzetti even went so far as to urge feminists to “get over Theresa May’s politics” because feminism is “about the primacy of choice in people’s lives: In this case, Theresa May has chosen to dedicate her life to a set of conservative political beliefs.”

The celebratory mood—and the claims that May’s ascension represented a victory for women—echoed many feminists’ response to Hillary Clinton’s clinching of the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. “Pinch yourselves again, ladies,” Lowery wrote. “Come 2017, it won’t just be a woman running America. It could be women running America. And it will be women running the world.” Indeed, if Clinton wins, women will be leading the three largest economies in the West—the U.S., Germany, and the U.K.—and they will be running the Federal Reserve Board and the IMF.

We know what this means for the female leaders themselves: more power, influence, and wealth. What does it mean, though, for the women below them? Sarah Kliff and Matthew Yglesias, both of Vox, argued that Clinton’s election as president would be, in Kliff’s words, a “huge deal” for women, resulting in more female candidates and more pro-women policies. This echoes the argument that Sheryl Sandberg popularized in her best-selling self-help book, Lean In. “More female leadership will lead to fairer treatment for all women,” Sandberg wrote (emphasis hers). But the available evidence doesn’t support these bold assertions.

READ MORE…

Nice Attack: A Mass Murderer Becomes a ‘Terrorist’ Based on Ethnicity, Not Evidence

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Truck used in Nice attacks (photo: Andrew Testa/NYT)[…] Despite the absence of any evidence of a political motivation, or indeed any motive at all—generally considered to be a key part of any definition of terrorism—the New York Times story still referred to the Nice killings as “the third large-scale act of terrorism in France in a year and a half.” The killings, Higgins wrote, “raised new questions throughout the world about the ability of extremists to sow terror.”

Why is the Times willing to label the Nice deaths “terrorism”—a label that US media do not apply to all acts of mass violence, even ones that have much clearer political motives (FAIR Media Advisory, 4/15/14)? In part, they seem to be following the lead of French authorities: “French officials labeled the attack terrorism and cast the episode as the latest in a series that have made France a battlefield in the violent clash between Islamic extremists and the West.”

But quotes from French officials made it clear that such claims were little more than guesswork: The story reported that Prime Minister Manuel Valls “said the attacker in all likelihood had ties to radical Islamist circles,” citing Valls’ statement to French TV: “He is a terrorist probably linked to radical Islam one way or another.” Later Valls is quoted noting that the attack happened on the French national holiday of Bastille Day.

READ MORE…

After Nice, Don’t Give ISIS What It’s Asking For

Murtaza Hussain writes for The Intercept:

Not much is yet known about Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the 31-year-old man French police say is responsible for a horrific act of mass murder last night in the southern city of Nice. In the wake of the killings, French President Francois Hollande has denounced the attack as “Islamist terrorism” linked to the militant group the Islamic State. Supporters of ISIS online have echoed these statements, claiming responsibility for the attack as another blow against its enemies in Western Europe.

While the motive for the attack is still under investigation, it is worth examining why the Islamic State is so eager to claim such incidents as its own. On the surface, ramming a truck into a crowd of people gathered to watch Bastille Day fireworks seems like an act of pure nihilism. No military target was hit. Initial reports suggest that the killings may lead to French attacks on ISIS’s already-diminishing territories in Iraq and Syria. And French Muslims, many of whom were reportedly killed in the attack, will likely face security crackdowns and popular backlash from a public angry and fearful in the wake of another incomprehensible act of mass murder.

But the Islamic State’s statements and history show that such an outcome is exactly what it seeks. In the February 2015 issue of its online magazine Dabiq, the group called for acts of violence in the West that would “[eliminate] the grayzone” by sowing division and creating an insoluble conflict in Western societies between Muslims and non-Muslims. Such a conflict would force Muslims living in the West to “either apostatize … or [migrate] to the Islamic State, and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens.”

READ MORE…

Bastille Day Attack: Is the War on Terror a ‘Self-Fulfilling Prophecy’?

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak with Palestinian-American playwright Ismail Khalidi in Nice and French human rights and civil liberties activist Yasser Louati in Paris, about the Bastille Day attack that left more than 84 dead in Nice. (Democracy Now!)

Why Terrorists Keep Succeeding in France

Leonid Bershidsky writes for Bloomberg:

France is in the line of fire. Of the 16 terrorist incidents that took place in Western nations this year, five were in France, including the deadliest one — Thursday’s apparent lone wolf attack in Nice, which killed at least 84 people.

A little more than a week before the attack, a commission set up by the French parliament gave its version of the reasons for France’s endangered state in a massive report. Apart from an objective threat the country faces thanks to its colonial past and a failure to integrate North African immigrants, it also suffers from inadequate policing.

“All the French citizens who struck within the nation’s territory in 2015 were known, in one capacity or another, to judicial, penal or intelligence services,” the report says. “They have all been on file, watched, listened to or incarcerated along their path of delinquency toward violent radicalization.”

READ MORE…

The Death of the Middle Class Is Worse Than You Think

Chris Matthews reports for Fortune:

From Brexit to Donald Trump, if there’s anything that current events tell us, it’s that the man on the street is angry and wants change.

A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, with the chilling title “Poorer than their Parents: Flat or Falling Incomes in Advanced Economies,” shows just why this is the case. According to the paper, the trend in stagnating or declining incomes for middle class workers is not just confined to the United States, but is a global phenomenon hurting workers across the wealthy world.

The report found that as much as 70% of the households in 25 advanced economies saw their earnings drop in the past decade. The study tracked income brackets, not individual households, from 2005 to 2014. That compares to just 2% of households that saw declining incomes in the previous 12 years.

READ MORE…

Ministry for Brexit

Ministry for Brexit (Cartoon)

Francois Hollande Calls for Expansion of ISIS War to Include Syrian al-Qaeda Affiliate Nusra Front

AFP reports:

French President Francois Hollande called on Saturday for international action against an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, warning that the recent losses sustained by the Islamic State (IS) group could embolden other militant groups.

“Daesh [an Arabic acronym for IS] is in retreat, that is beyond dispute,” Hollande said after a meeting with the leaders of the US, Germany, Britain, Italy and Ukraine on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Warsaw.

But Hollande added: “We must also avoid a situation whereby as Daesh becomes weaker other groups become stronger.”

Hollande singled out al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front as particularly standing to benefit from the US-led military campaign against its arch-rival IS.

READ MORE…

Brexit: No Second EU Referendum Despite Petition, Says Government

Nicola Slawson reports for The Guardian:

The hopes of more than 4.1 million people who signed a petition calling for a second referendum on the EU have faded, after a response from the government saying it was a “once in a generation vote”.

Parliament must consider all petitions that reach a threshold of 100,000 votes for a debate and, although the decision has yet to consider the motion for a debate, the Foreign Office responded to the signatories by email on Friday evening, pointing out that over 33 million have had their say.

Referring to the wording of the petition, which asks for a second vote to be held because the vote to leave did not surpass 60% of the vote and the turnout was less than 75%, the government response states that the European Union Referendum Act did not include rules about minimum turnout.

READ MORE…

Some Pundits Think the Solution to Right-Wing Populism Is Less Democracy

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Foreign Policy: It's Time for the Elites to Rise UpThe core orthodoxies of neoliberalism are under attack by populist forces, and commentators are scrambling for a response. Some are suggesting more left-wing red meat. Others, a moment of self-reflection. But a number of pundits are doing that most noxious of political commentary pastimes—equating right and left responses to the failures of globalization and advocating that “elites” should fight back against the forces of inconvenient democracy.

First was Foreign Policy contributing editor James Traub (6/28/16), whose piece bore this cartoonishly Dickensian headline:

It’s Time for the Elites to Rise Up Against the Ignorant Masses

Magazine writers aren’t generally responsible for their headlines, but this one captured the flavor of Traub’s screed, which declared:

It is necessary to say that people are deluded and that the task of leadership is to un-delude them. Is that “elitist”? Maybe it is; maybe…it is now elitist to believe in reason, expertise, and the lessons of history.

READ MORE…

Obama Rebukes Poland’s Right-Wing Government

Rick Lyman and Joanna Berendt report for The New York Times:

President Obama chided Poland’s new right-wing leaders on Friday over moves that have effectively hobbled the country’s top constitutional court, the chief check on the government’s power, and urged them to do more to nurture democratic values and institutions.

The unusual public rebuke of a close American ally came after a private meeting between Mr. Obama and Andrzej Duda, Poland’s president, on the opening day of the NATO summit meeting in Warsaw.

“I expressed to President Duda our concerns over certain actions and the impasse around Poland’s constitutional tribunal,” Mr. Obama said. “I insisted that we are very respectful of Poland’s sovereignty and I recognized that Parliament is working on legislation to take important steps, but more needs to be done.”

The issue erupted shortly after the new government of the Law and Justice Party assumed power late last year. The Polish Parliament, dominated by members of the governing party, passed a law changing the way the top court was to function, making it almost impossible for it to overturn new legislation. The government then refused to recognize the court’s decision that the new law was unconstitutional.

READ MORE…

Growing NATO Buildup Echoes Cold War

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

All efforts to make this weekend’s Warsaw summit about the Brexit appear to have failed, and the US has shifted NATO’s focus back to increasing military buildups in Eastern Europe, all the while harping on about Russian “aggression” and the threat of a Russian invasion of the Baltic states.

NATO-Russia relations seem worse than at any time since the Cold War, with many fearing that the continued NATO escalation on the Russian frontier portends another protracted, and costly period of massive tensions with the Russians.

Russian officials, for their part, dismissed the buildup as part of NATO’s “anti-Russia hysteria,” saying the NATO leadership was “absolutely short-sighted” for continuing the moves. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov mocked NATO claims of Russian “aggression,” noting that “we aren’t the ones getting closer to NATO’s borders.”

READ MORE…

Is NATO Necessary?

Stephen Kinzer writes for the Boston Globe:

Secretary of State Dean Acheson signs the Atlantic defense treaty for the United States, April 4, 1949. Vice President Alben W. Barkley, left, and President Harry Truman converse during the signing. (AP Photo)Britain’s vote to quit the European Union was a rude jolt to the encrusted world order. Now that the EU has been shocked into reality, NATO should be next. When NATO leaders convene for a summit in Warsaw on Friday, they will insist that their alliance is still vital because Russian aggression threatens Europe. The opposite is true. NATO has become America’s instrument in escalating our dangerous conflict with Russia. We need less NATO, not more.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in 1949 as a way for American troops to protect a war-shattered Europe from Stalin’s Soviet Union. Today Europe is quite capable of shaping and paying for its own security, but NATO’s structure remains unchanged. The United States still pays nearly three-quarters of its budget. That no longer makes sense. The United States should remain politically close to European countries but stop telling them how to defend themselves. Left to their own devices, they might pull back from the snarling confrontation with Russia into which NATO is leading them.

Russia threatens none of America’s vital interests. On the contrary, it shares our eagerness to fight global terror, control nuclear threats, and confront other urgent challenges to global security. Depending on one’s perspective, Russia may be seen as a destabilizing force in Europe or as simply defending its border regions. Either way, it is a challenge for Europeans, not for us. Yet the American generals who run NATO, desperate for a new mission, have fastened onto Russia as an enemy. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter preposterously places Russia first on his list of threats to the United States. Anti-Russia passion has seized Washington.

READ MORE…

NATO Takes Over US-Built Missile Shield, Amid Russian Suspicion

Yeganeh Torbati and Robin Emmott report for Reuters:

NATO took command of a U.S.-built missile shield in Europe on Friday after France won assurances that the multi-billion-dollar system would not be under Washington’s direct control.

The missile shield, billed as a defense against any strike by a “rogue state” against European cities, is one of the most sensitive aspects of U.S. military support for Europe. Russia says the system is in fact intended by Washington to blunt its nuclear arsenal, which the U.S. denies.

“Today we have decided to declare initial operational capability of the NATO ballistic missile defense system,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.

“This means that the U.S. ships based in Spain, the radar in Turkey and the interceptor site in Romania are now able to work together under NATO command and control,” he said, adding that the umbrella was “entirely defensive” and “represents no threat to Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent”.

Russia is incensed at the show of force by the United States, its Cold War rival in ex-communist-ruled eastern Europe.

READ MORE…

Goldman Sachs Hires Former European Commission Chief Jose Manual Barroso

Reuters reports:

Goldman Sachs has hired former head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso to be an advisor and non-executive chairman of its international business, as the U.S. bank grapples with the fallout from Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Barroso served as president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, from 2004 to 2014 and was prime minister of Portugal from 2002 to 2004.

Goldman Sachs and other U.S. investment banks are seen as particularly vulnerable to Brexit since they rely on the EU’s “passporting” regime that allows them to offer services across the bloc while basing most of their staff and operations in the UK. Banks have warned that if their British outposts lose their “passports” they will have to move some employees and business units to alternative bases in the EU.

Goldman Sachs International, which Barroso will chair, is headquartered in London and of its roughly 6,000 staff fewer than 1,000 are based outside Britain.

READ MORE…

The United States and NATO Are Preparing for a Major War With Russia

Professor Michael T. Klare writes for The Nation:

NATO exercise[…] It’s hard to know where to begin when commenting on all this, given the atmosphere of Cold War hysteria. There is, first of all, the question of proportionality: are US and NATO moves on the eastern flank in keeping with the magnitude of the threat posed by Russia? Russian intervention in Crimea and eastern Ukraine is certainly provocative and repugnant, but cannot unequivocally be deemed a direct threat to NATO. Other Russian moves in the region, such as incursions by Russian ships and planes into the airspace and coastal waters of NATO members, are more worrisome, but appear to be more political messaging than a prelude to invasion. Basically, it’s very hard to imagine a scenario in which Russia would initiate an armed attack on NATO.

Then there is the matter of self-fulfilling prophecies. By announcing the return of great-power competition and preparing for a war with Russia, the United States and NATO are setting in motion forces that could, in the end, achieve precisely that outcome. This is not to say that Moscow is guiltless regarding the troubled environment along the eastern front, but surely Vladimir Putin has reason to claim that the NATO initiatives pose a substantially heightened threat to Russian security and so justify a corresponding Russian buildup. Any such moves will, of course, invite yet additional NATO deployments, followed by complementary Russian moves, and so on—until we’re right back in a Cold War–like situation.

Finally, there is the risk of accident, miscalculation, and escalation. This arises with particular severity in the case of US/NATO exercises on the edge of Russian territory, especially Kaliningrad. In all such actions, there is a constant danger that one side or the other will overreact to a perceived threat and take steps leading to combat and, conceivably, all-out war. When two Russian fighters flew within 30 feet of a US destroyer sailing in the Baltic Sea this past April, Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN that under US rules of engagement, the planes could have been shot down. Imagine where that could have led. Fortunately, the captain of the destroyer chose to exercise restraint and a serious incident was averted. But as more US and NATO forces are deployed on the edge of Russian territory and both sides engage in provocative military maneuvers, dangerous encounters of this sort are sure to increase in frequency, and the risk of their ending badly will only grow.

READ MORE…

After Brexit, US Hopes to Get NATO Focus Back on Russia

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

A major NATO summit is set to begin later this week in Warsaw, and while the plan was to spend the whole time harping on about “Russian aggression” and making more plans to add more ground troops to the Baltic states.

Then Brexit happened, and as with everyone else, that’s all a lot of summit goers want to talk about these days. Britain’s referendum was on leaving the EU, and not NATO, but that doesn’t mean a lot of officials aren’t predicting the move weakening the alliance, at least so far as joint NATO-EU operations go.

But with constant predictions from US officials of an imminent Russian invasion of Eastern Europe never panning out, the Obama Administration and other hawks on the Russia issue are looking to shift the focus of the summit back.

READ MORE…

Hacked Former NATO General Defends Plotting to Push Obama to Escalate Tensions With Russia

Naomi LaChance reports for The Intercept:

Former NATO commander Philip Breedlove defended himself on Saturday after The Intercept reported on leaked emails that showed him plotting to push President Obama to escalate tensions with Russia.  “I think what you see is a commander doing what commanders ought to do,” Breedlove told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Amanpour asked about emails—originally published by “hacktivist” website dcleaks.com—showing Breedlove seeking help from former Secretary of State Colin Powell on ways to get Obama to be more aggressive in defending the Ukraine against Russian invasion.

“I think POTUS sees us as a threat that must be minimized,” he wrote in a 2014 email, “ie do not get me into a war????”

READ MORE…

George Osborne is trying to turn post-Brexit Britain into a tax haven

Kirsty Major writes for The Independent:

george-osborne-1.jpgThe UK is finally catching up with its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies by inching ever closer to becoming a fully-fledged tax haven. And that’s without any of the sunshine to ease the pain.

Despite ongoing concern over corporate tax avoidance, George Osborne has announced that he plans to slash corporation tax from 20 to 15 per cent. The aim of the measure is to signal to multinational corporations that in spite of the uncertainty over Brexit, the UK is “open for business”. The new rate, if implemented, would give the UK the lowest corporation tax of any major economy.

In response to the announcement, the OECD’s head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans said: “A further step in that direction would really turn the UK into a tax haven type of economy.” Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has similarly warned that Osborne is “offering up Britain as a tax haven”.

READ MORE…

Bank of England: Post-EU referendum risks have ‘begun to crystallise’

Oscar Williams-Grut reports for Business Insider:

The governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney gives a press conference, his first since the leave result of the European Union referendum, at the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain Thursday, June 30, 2016.“The current outlook for UK financial stability is challenging,” the Bank of England warned on Tuesday.

The central bank’s Financial Policy Committee has released its biannual financial stability reportlooking at the financial health of Britain and assessing any changes to the outlook since the most recent report.

The TLDR is: Things look bad, and it is mostly because of the European Union referendum.

The report says Britain’s referendum on its EU membership remains “the most significant near-term domestic risks to financial stability.”

The Bank of England says that many of the potential risks it had identified in the run-up to the referendum had “begun to crystallise.”

READ MORE…

Europe’s Next Crisis: Why Everyone Is Finally Panicking About Italian Banks

Tyler Durden writes for Zero Hedge:

Back in May 2013, we wrote an article titled “Europe’s EUR 500 Billion Ticking NPL Time Bomb” in which we laid out very simply what the biggest danger facing European banks was: non-performing, or bad, loans.

We further said, that “Europe’s non-performing loan problem is such an issue that there is increasing bluster that the ECB may take this garbage on to its balance sheet since policymakers realize that bad debts and non-performing loans (NPLs) reduce the capacity of banks to lend, hindering the monetary policy transmission mechanism. Bad debts consume capital and make banks more risk averse, especially with respect to lending to higher risk borrowers such as SMEs. With Italy (NPLs 13.4%) now following the same dismal trajectory of Spain’s bad debts, the situation is rapidly escalating (at an average of around 2.5% increase per year).

The conclusion was likewise simple:

The bottom line is that at its core, it is all simply a bad-debt problem, and the more the bad debt, the greater the ultimate liability impairments become, including deposits. As we answered at the time – the real question in Europe is: how much impairment capacity is there in the various European nations before deposits have to be haircut? With Periphery non-performing loans totaling EUR 720bn across the whole of the Euro area in 2012 and EUR 500bn of which were with Peripheral banks.”

Now, three years later, the bomb appears to be on the verge of going off (or may have already quietly exploded), and nowhere is it more clear than in an exhaustive article written by the WSJ in which it focuses on Italy’s insolvent banking system, and blames – what else – the hundreds of billions in NPLs on bank books as the culprit behind Europe’s latest upcoming crisis.

READ MORE…

Narrative of Brexit Voters as Racist and Anti-Immigrant Ignores Anti-Austerity Sentiment: Interview with Michael Hudson

Sharmini Peries speaks to economist Michael Hudson who argues that a vote for the European Union is not a vote for socialism, but for a very right-wing, corporatist Europe where the laws will be made by bureaucrats acting on behalf of the large financial centers. (The Real News)

The Tory Leadership Election is a Sort of X Factor for Choosing the Antichrist

Frankie Boyle writes for The Guardian:

This current divide must be especially sad for the Tories. The idea that Europe, the place where they buy their cheese, the place where they took their first five mistresses on minibreaks, the place where they cried at Hitler’s bunker, this collection of potential second homes, this was the place that tore them apart. And so we have a Conservative leadership election, a sort of X Factor for choosing the antichrist. Already, the cast looks like the episode of Come Dine With Me they show in hell before Top Gear comes on.

Stephen Crabb has come under fire for links to a group that claims it can cure homosexuality, and, having had a quick look at him, he’s definitely cured me: his beaming face is like a grim party game where blindfolded children have to try to place the eyes on to an identikit photograph of a murderer.

The frontrunner, Theresa May, communicates something horrifying, not through her appearance, but rather her unique expression of unwavering, furious disgust. It is the expression some nameless, pitiless archon will wear 50 years from now as it signs a contract to rent out our city centres to pharmaceutical companies so they can crop-spray viruses and harvest antibodies from any survivors. It is the expression Lucifer wore when the other angels attempted an intervention. Surely May, of all people, could make a positive case for migration just by saying: “If you can’t see the potential of a free-moving workforce, simply imagine how great it would be if I fucked off somewhere else.” Bizarrely, it looks like she’ll be involved in a runoff against Andrea Leadsom, who was created by Nazi scientists as a response to Dame Vera Lynn.

READ MORE…