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  • Israel has been hammered by a series of diplomatic rebuffs across Europe after the European parliament voted overwhelmingly for qualified recognition of the Palestinian state.

    The vote on Wednesday [December 17] came on the same day as a meeting of signatories to the Geneva conventions warned that Israel must respect international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories.

    The rare international meeting in Switzerland of the high contracting parties to the Geneva conventions was boycotted by Israel, the US, Canada and Australia.

    In a further upset for Israel, the EU’s second-highest court ordered the removal of Hamas from a terrorist blacklist, citing legal problems with the listing, though it added that the Islamist group’s assets would remain frozen for three months pending an almost certain appeal.

  • A Greek flag during a rally in Athens. - Yannis Behrakis | Reuters

    On Sunday, Greek voters decisively rejected a proposal from the nation's creditors to swap new refinancing of Greece's 342.5 billion euro in debt in exchange for tax increases and deep cuts in public spending, especially on pensions. With the unemployment rate stuck near 26 percent and the economy sinking deeper into a depression that has already cut gross domestic product by 30 percent since 2010, Greeks decided not to bet on the idea that more austerity would return their country to prosperity.

    Nonetheless, Greece missed a 1.6 billion euro payment on its debt last week and remains "in arrears,'' according to the International Monetary Fund, which, along with the European Central Bank and European Commission, represents Greece's creditors. Nearly all of Greece's debt is held by official creditors, who bought up most of the holdings of hedge funds and other private investors years ago. Until the default is fixed, the IMF says, it won't lend Greece more money. 

    With the nation once again running a budget deficit after briefly achieving a so-called primary surplus—meaning, a surplus before interest payments—Greece clearly needs more money soon. Here are some of the key questions and answers about what's going on—and what might happen next.

  • Photo: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP

    Despite the scaremongering and bullying from those in Brussels, we are waking today with Greece having delivered a resounding No

    That comes despite EU bosses saying that it would mean a Greek exit from the Euro, not to mention the heavy economic pressure placed on the Greek people to go along with the wishes of Brussels. It is a crushing defeat for those Eurocrats who believe that you can simply bulldoze public opinion. 

    Chief bully-boy Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, and other supposed leaders of the European Union did their best to terrify the Greek people into submitting to the wishes of the European Union. But they utterly failed. The fear espoused by the Yes campaign was rejected. Opinion polls that put the Yes side ahead just days before were way out, as thousands upon thousands of Greek citizens lined the streets chanting “Oxi”.

  • Road markings appear distorted as the asphalt starts to melt due to the high temperature in New Delhi, India. (EPA)

    21st century heatwaves

    The 2003 European heatwave led to the hottest summer on record in Europe since at least 1540. The heat wave began right after the Quartet (US, EU, UN, Russia) delivered the Road Map to Israel and the Palestinians on April 30, 2003. 

    ---

    This European summer could end up witnessing the continent's third significant heatwave of the century, following on from 2003 and 2006.

    On Monday, the heatwave continues in much of Europe, with high temperature warnings issued in Poland, Hungary, Switzerland and the province of Cordoba in Spain. There will be a resurgence of heat into northwest Europe later this week.

    Last Monday, June 29, Madrid's international Airport reported 40C, a first for June in records dating back to 1945. Cordoba, in southern Spain, reached a sizzling 43.7C on the preceding day.

    Last Wednesday, the temperature at London's Heathrow Airport nudged 36.7C - a July heat record for anywhere in the UK.

    Meteo-France says three French locations chalked up all-time highs last Wednesday, records that have already been reset in at least one of the previous 21st century heatwaves.

    In Boulogne-sur-Mer, 35.4C beat the previous record of August 11, 2003 (34.8C); in Dieppe, 38.3C beat the previous record of July 19, 2006 (37C); and in Melun, 39.4C beat the previous record of August 12, 2003 (38.9C).

     

  • Greece voted against yielding to further austerity demanded by creditors, leaving Europe’s leaders to determine if the renegade nation can remain in the euro.

    Sixty-one percent of voters backed Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s rejection of further spending cuts and tax increases in an unprecedented referendum that’s also taken the country to the brink of financial collapse.

    Tsipras described the result as a “great victory”, and said Athens would return to the negotiating table on Monday with a strengthened hand.

    As the euro fell to a four-week low in Asian trading and Tsipras’s supporters filled Athens’s central Syntagma Square waving Greek flags, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande called for an emergency leaders’ summit on Tuesday.

    The result turns the tables on Merkel and Greece’s other creditors, who must now decide if a financial rescue of the region’s most-indebted country is still possible. It significantly raises the chances of a Greek exit from the single currency, as the country’s banks run out of cash and its economy staggers toward all-out collapse.

     

  • Reuters/Reuters - A barbed wire is seen in front of a European Union flag at an immigration reception centre in Bicske, Hungary June 25, 2015. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

    Four great crises around Europe's fringes threaten to engulf the European Union, potentially setting the ambitious post-war unification project back by decades.

    The EU's unity, solidarity and international standing are at risk from Greece's debt, Russia's role in Ukraine, Britain's attempt to change its relationship with the bloc, and Mediterranean migration.

    Failure to cope adequately with any one of these would worsen the others, amplifying the perils confronting "Project Europe". 

    Greece's default and the risk, dubbed 'Grexit', that it may crash out of the shared euro currency is the most immediate challenge to the long-standing notion of an "ever closer union" of European states and peoples.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressed alarm at the emerging nuclear deal between western powers and Iran currently taking place in Vienna.

    Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that "what's coming out of the nuclear talks in Vienna is not a breakthrough, it's a breakdown."

    Netanyahu said that the world powers were conceding more and more with each passing day. 

    The emerging deal "will pave Iran's way to produce the cores of many atomic bombs and it will also flood Iran with hundreds of millions of dollars that will serve it in its aggression and its mission of terror in the region and the world," the prime minister warned.

    Netanyahu claimed that the emerging deal with Iran was worse than the nuclear deal that had been signed with North Korea which led to Pyongyang obtaining an arsenal of nuclear weapons.

  • A military exhibition displays the Shahab-3 missile under a picture of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, in 2008. (photo credit: AP/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

    The prospective nuclear deal with Iran would empower it to take over the Middle East and trigger a regional nuclear arms race, a senior Israeli official warned in an interview published Friday.

    Ram Ben Barak, director general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry and a leading candidate to be the next head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, told the Makor Rishon newspaper that “the deal which is about to be signed will allow Iran to decide by itself when it will be nuclear [armed], and that is the most problematic.”

    He said the lifting of sanctions would give Tehran “an ocean of money,” allowing it to buy influence across the Middle East and “advance to a position where no one will be able to threaten it and it will acquire control wherever it pleases.”

    Ben Barak noted that there is “almost no area in the Middle East today where Iran remains uninvolved: Iraq, where Iranian interests are in line with US interests, Lebanon, where Hezbollah is effectively an Iranian division, and Yemen, which was mostly conquered by Iran.”

  • Officials from the US and Iran during nuclear negotiations in Vienna on July 3, 2015. (AFP/POOL/CARLOS BARRIA)

    Jerusalem reacted furiously over reports Saturday that world powers were closing in on a long-sought pact that would see the lifting of sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.

    Officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office accused the six world powers negotiating with Iran of caving to the Islamic Republic’s demands, breaking even their own publicly stated “red-line” demands.

    “With each passing day, the concessions from the powers to Iran are growing and growing,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office read. “Concessions over the inspections regime, concessions on how sanctions will be lifted, concessions on the amount of centrifuges, research and development of advanced centrifuges and more.”

  • An American Flag flies at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., Tuesday, June 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    As the first rays of morning light wash over the eastern seaboard -- a flag is unfurled with broad stripes and bright stars.

    A soldier stands guard over sleeping heroes - known only to their Maker.

    A farmer in the heartland gathers his crop as golden wheat shimmers in the breeze. A rancher gallops along the Texas Hill Country -- herding his cattle to the stockyards. A river boat captain pilots his boat down the muddy waters of the Mississippi.

    A job for the Common Man

    In a Tennessee church house a candle flickers -- a preacher prays on bended knee -- asking God to bless our land -- to shed his grace on thee.

    A prayer for the Common Man.

    When the floodwaters rise and the storm clouds billow -- we stand ready to help -- feeding the hungry -- mending the wounded -- rebuilding homes and lives.

    Goodwill for the Common Man.

    And in some distant land a soldier stands guard defending our nation -- tending Lady Liberty's flame. They are young men and young women from our big cities and small towns -- willing to sacrifice their lives so that we can be free.

    A protector for the Common Man.

    We are the sons and daughters of the Common Man.

    We are noble people forged by freedom’s fire.

    We are an uncommon nation established by common men.

    We are proud Americans and this is our fanfare.

  • Years ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury told our then Secretary of State that the Iraq War was just an excuse for us to build an empire in the Middle East.  Islamist radicals have called us the Great Satan. 

    But as former Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “far from being the Great Satan, I would say that we are the Great Protector.  We have sent men and women from the armed forces of the United States to other parts of the world throughout the past century to put down oppression.  We defeated Fascism.  We defeated communism.  We saved Europe in World War I and World War II.  We were willing to do it, glad to do it.  We went to Korea.  We went to Vietnam, all in the interest of preserving the rights of people.

    And when all those conflicts were over, what did we do?  Did we stay and conquer? Did we say, “Okay, we defeated Germany. Now Germany belongs to us?  We defeated Japan, so Japan belongs to us”?  No.  What did we did?  We built them up.  We gave them democratic systems which they have embraced totally to their soul.  And did we ask for any land?  No, the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead.  And that is the kind of nation we are.” (October, 1980)

     

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Provocative Commentary


“The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.” 
― E.M. Bounds