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Friday, September 7, 2012

Greece's Main Opposition Syriza Leads in Polls


Greece's Main Opposition Syriza Leads in Polls
Wall Street Journal
ATHENS--Greece's anti-bailout leftist Syriza party would win if elections were held today, while ultranationalists Golden Dawn would become the third-largest party in parliament, a poll showed Friday. According to a survey prepared by VPRC polling ...
Neo-Nazis Now Third Most Popular Party in
Greek Poll Shows Anti-Bailout Syriza Ahead in Voter PreferenceBusinessweek
Support for Greek far-right party surging, poll saysReuters UK

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Outside pearly convention gates, the 2012 election remains an ugly affair

DNC aftermath sidelined by weak jobs numbers in reminder that all is not so happy and energetic as the past week in Charlotte

After the party, the hangover. Just eight hours after Barack Obama made his case for another term in the White House, received with such fervor from the 20,000 Democratic supporters assembled in front of him that it brought back memories of the euphoria of 2008, the latest job figures landed with a thump.

"I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy; I never have," Obama told the packed arena in Charlotte. The job figures made the same point even more eloquently: fewer than 100,000 jobs created in August when twice as many were needed; jobless rate down to 8.1% but mainly because many Americans have given up the search for work.

If Obama hadn't had an early sighting of the job figures, as some pundits suspected, then he certainly pitched his speech on the assumption they might be bad. It was designed, in its language and theatrics, to be the antidote to the paean to hope and change that a bushy-tailed Obama delivered four years ago. "I was a younger man" then, Obama said almost wistfully.

There was no Greek temple this time, no rallying cry of the "fierce urgency of now", and though he talked about hope he did so apologetically, lamenting that hope had been tested "by one of the worst economic crises in history". He went so far as to say he was "mindful of my own failings" – a stunning admittance from a man famously assured of his own abilities.

None of that seemed to matter for the faithful in the arena, though, who cheered and chanted as though it were early 2008 all over again and the great recession still lay ahead. Even the thousands of supporters who were turned away from the arena after the larger stadium event was cancelled refused to be dampened by disappointment: they screamed at Obama as he was beamed onto screens in front of them in the spill-over ballroom into which they had been relegated.

Conventions are a form of theatre, and in purely thespian terms Obama won the battle hands down. His performance on Thursday night resonated with committed Democrats on a level that Mitt Romney could only dream of. Republican delegates assembled in Tampa the previous week were notably muted by comparison.

This was partly a simple reflection of the audience itself: hardcore Democrats remain far more enamoured of Obama than the conservative base is of Romney. And Obama had a Tony award-winning supporting cast in Michelle, who played the emoting wife more convincingly than her first lady challenger Ann Romney, and Bill Clinton, who once again proved himself to be the Laurence Olivier of political soliloquizing.

But running for the presidency is not just about stagecraft, even in the era of the TV soundbite. Outside the bubble of the convention centers in Charlotte and Tampa, away from the auto-cues and the flag waving, there are millions of Americans out of work and millions more anxious that they could lose their jobs.

Which is why, for all the razmattazz and barnstorming inside the arena, outside it the 2012 election remains an ugly affair, fought through teeth and nail and certain to be agonisingly close to the bitter end. The latest polls put the two candidates as essentially tied at around 48%.

Delegates from the key battleground states where the election will be won or lost – Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia – are fully aware that the made-for-camera stardust of the conventions has nothing to do with the real-life struggles they are fighting on the ground.

Every morning this week Democratic volunteers from each of the 50 states have been coming together in their own gatherings to discuss not high-falutin political rhetoric or the ubiquitous convention lip service paid to the American dream, but the brass tacks of how to win on 6 November.

Take the breakfast held at 7.30am by the Ohio delegation in a hotel room 10 miles outside Charlotte. The coffee was bitter, the bacon burnt and the eggs cooked to the consistency of a bouncy ball, but the conversation was serious and the atmosphere dour and determined.

"It's close, very very close," one delegate replied when asked about how the race looked in Ohio. The buckeye state is shaping up to be in 2012, as it has in so many previous presidential races, the quintessential swing state upon which the entire election could hang.

Its economy is doing rather better than the national average – at about 7.2% – thanks in part to the Obama administration's rescue package for the car industry. Against that, voters have been pummelled now for months with a blitzkrieg of negative attack advertising paid for by billionaire conservatives and their controversial Super Pacs.

There is so much noise from the election blaring at them from their TV and computer screens that many voters have already switched off. Delegates who I talked to feared that a feeling of a pox on both your houses was setting in that could suppress turn out in November and make it difficult for either party to drive home its message.

So the picture from Ohio looks very different from the scenes of happy Democratic party activists streaming out of the arena on Thursday night. As they started on their long drives home to Akron or Denver, Las Vegas or Des Moines as though they had received a shot in the arm, that Obama's rousing words had pumped them full of energy.

Which is just as well. As the race enters its final 60 days, they are going to need all the muscle power they can muster. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Greece bans nepotism by cabinet members

Greece's new government yesterday banned cabinet ministers from giving close family members jobs as assistants or advisers, responding to popular anger after the speaker of the house gave his daughter a parliamentary post.


Tsipras: ‘I wish we had become Argentina’

The leader of Syriza told parliament on Friday that he wished Greece “had become Argentina”.

Alexis Tsipras made the remarks when asking a parliamentary question during the prime minister’s question time about the proposed government sell off of Hellenic Postbank.

Antonis Samaras was not in the chamber for questions and his place was taken by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.


6-day work week in Greece?

Greece's creditors outline a new austerity demand in a leaked e-mail.


A third runway at Heathrow would be an off-the-scale betrayal | Zac Goldsmith

David Cameron will pay a high price if he opts for the unfair and unpopular non-solution that Heathrow expansion represents

The prime minister believes we face a crisis over aviation capacity in London. As a result, he has put Heathrow's third runway back into the mix. Given the "no ifs, no buts" pledge he made before the election, it's a major leap. Combined with the removal of the well-respected transport secretary, Justine Greening, and the equally respected aviation minister, Theresa Villiers, both of whom resolutely defended the government's stated opposition to Heathrow expansion, all this points to an imminent U-turn.

Why else would the government have announced (yet another) aviation review that will not report until the summer of 2015? After all, if we face a crisis of undercapacity, it is surely odd that the only policy we have in place is an absolute commitment to do nothing for three years. There is only one explanation: the government believes it can press on with a third runway, and without fronting up to the electorate.

This matters for countless reasons. First, political promises need to mean something. As William Hague has said, there's no justification in U-turns unless the facts change significantly, which they have not. If there is a pre-election U-turn, my colleagues will struggle at the next election to persuade voters that their manifesto is worth the paper it's written on.

I don't actually believe we will see bulldozers this side of the election. That would represent an off-the-scale betrayal, and would be noted by voters everywhere. It would also be logistically difficult to pull off. But unless the government is clear with voters it will be assumed that it is wedded to a post-election green light.

A decision to expand would be the wrong decision, on every level. Despite the scaremongering, it remains a fact that Heathrow already has more flights to business destinations than any other airport in Europe. More passengers fly in and out of London than any other city in the world. We are well-connected, we have ample capacity, and we are starting from a position of strength. The problem is that we don't use that capacity well. If we want to preserve Heathrow's hub status, we need to stop clogging it up with point-to-point flights to places such as Cyprus and Greece, which between them account for 87 weekly flights, and contribute nothing to overall connectivity.

We also need to discourage operators guarding their slots by flying half-empty planes. Heathrow has terminal capacity for an extra 20 million passengers, and with fuller and, in places, bigger planes, we'd be able to accommodate many more. In addition, we need to encourage a shift from air to rail wherever possible. Every week, for example, there are more than 300 flights from Heathrow Brussels, Manchester, Newcastle and Paris. In time, a better high speed rail network will help.

These measures would relieve pressure on Heathrow, but by improving links to other airports, we can do more. For example, Stansted is massively underused, by nearly 50%, and with proper rail links to the City, it would be the natural place for business flights. There is no reason why we couldn't facilitate a two-hub approach, with Heathrow catering (broadly speaking) for western-facing flights, and Stansted catering for eastern business flights.

It has been argued that these measures are inconvenient and complicated. But subjecting 2 million residents to aerial bombardment is far more inconvenient. And making room on London's roads for an extra 25 million road passenger journeys to and from Heathrow is far more complicated.

Always on the look out for the quick answer, the government appears to have been seduced by vested interest. But it will pay a high price if it opts for the deeply unfair, and unpopular non-solution that Heathrow expansion represents. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Heated exchanges in parliament over electronic IDs

The interior minister has responded sharply to comments made in parliament on Friday that Golden Dawn was fighting for “for a free Greece” and that it would not allow the government's "terrorism to pass".

The comments were made by Christos Pappas, a Golden Dawn MP, during a debate on the government’s plans to introduce electronic ID cards, which he described as an “attack” on the Greek people and society.


Britain hopes gas finds can help heal Cypriot split

The Daily Star

Britain hopes gas finds can help heal Cypriot split
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the prospect of sharing the resources could persuade politicians to end the bitter dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the island split by war in 1974. Up to now, the natural gas discoveries in the ...
Cyprus Gas Discoveries May Help Overcome Divisions, Hague SaysBusinessweek

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Eurozone pulls back from the brink of catastrophe -- again


Eurozone pulls back from the brink of catastrophe -- again
Los Angeles Times
The shaky governing coalition in Greece, the Eurozone's most debt-laden economy and scene of protests over draconian budget cuts, announced last week that it had agreed on another $14.5 billion in spending reductions for the next two years.
Greece still in ICU, but European debt a good betInvestmentNews
ECB life vest does not fit GreeceKathimerini
Euro leaders step up talks as they await central bank's planBoston Globe
DailyFX -CNN
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Greece may pass new troika test but bailout seen on the rocks

Greece may pass new troika test but bailout seen on the rocks
ATHENS, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Greece hopes a major state sell-off this autumn will persuade international inspectors arriving on Friday to keep the country's aid lifeline open despite scant progress on reforms promised in return for the cash. The so ...


Greece's Derek Whitmore leaves Rochester Americans for St. John's

Greece's Derek Whitmore leaves Rochester Americans for St. John's
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
The Rochester Americans unveiled their "third” sweater on Thursday — the same day Greece native Derek Whitmore officially became an ex-Amerk. Whitmore wasn't offered a new contract by the Buffalo Sabres this summer, so he will be signing a 25-game ...

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At least 30 children among 61 dead after migrant boat sinks off Turkey (blog)

At least 30 children among 61 dead after migrant boat sinks off Turkey (blog)
The Greek island of Samos is clearly visible from Ahmetbeyli, which lies in a popular coastal region frequented by foreign and Turkish holiday makers. More news from around the world on About 130,000 immigrants cross Greece's porous sea ...
Migrant boat sinks off Turkey, children among 61 deadChicago Tribune
Scores of Migrants Die After Boat Sinks Off Turkish CoastNew York Times

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France wants Greece, Spain debt 'solution' by next month

Global Economic Intersection

France wants Greece, Spain debt 'solution' by next month
Sydney Morning Herald
France says it wants the European Union (EU) to find a solution for debt-hit Greece and Spain at next month's EU summit. "In the short term, we must address the issues on the table," Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said in Brussels on Thursday.
France wants solution for Greece, Spain by OctoberEconomic Times
The euro zone can still blow up even after unlimited purchasesCredit Writedowns

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