Greece

The Telegraph leads with Crippled Greece yields to overwhelming power as deal looms

Greece’s Left-wing Syriza government has agreed to draconian austerity terms rejected by the Greek people in a landslide referendum just five days ago, capping one of the most bizarre political episodes of modern times. The surrender was confirmed by the Greek parliament by 251 votes to 32, with eight abstentions including several senior members of the ruling Syriza party.

Prime minister Alexis Tspiras sought to put the best face on a painful climbdown, recoiling from a traumatic fight that would have led to Greece’s ejection from the euro as soon as Monday. He implicitly recognised that the strain of capital controls and economic collapse has been too much to bear.

“We are confronted with crucial decisions. We got a mandate to bring a better deal than the ultimatum that the Eurogroup gave us, but we weren’t given a mandate to take Greece out of the eurozone,” he said.

The Guardian says “Greek MPs back new austerity plan as nation faces day of judgment

Greece faces its day of judgment on Saturday when eurozone countries must decide whether to open negotiations on a third multi-billion euro bailout for the insolvent country in five years – or whether it is cut loose and plunged into financial collapse.

A weekend of what is billed as “last-chance” summitry is to decide Greece’s fate after the government of Alexis Tsipras caved in to creditor demands for further austerity measures in return for the promise of limited debt relief. With the support of France, he tabled 13 pages of economic and tax reform pledges as the basis for talks on a new bailout worth more than €53bn over three years.

In the early hours of Saturday morning the Greek parliament voted to back Tsipras’s proposals. Despite a rebellion by some of his own MPs, Tsipras was given the backing of 250 out of 300 MPs to negotiate this weekend.

The Independent finds a completely different angle with “Greek debt crisis: Goldman Sachs could be sued for helping country hide debts when it joined euro

Goldman Sachs faces the prospect of potential legal action from Greece over the complex financial deals in 2001 that many blame for its subsequent debt crisis. A leading adviser to debt-riven countries has offered to help Athens recover some of the vast profits made by the investment bank.

The Independent has learnt that a former Goldman banker, who has advised indebted governments on recovering losses made from complex transactions with banks, has written to the Greek government to advise that it has a chance of clawing back some of the hundreds of millions of dollars it paid Goldman to secure its position in the single currency.

Germany

The Guardian also covers the German side of the Greek coin with “Splits widen in Merkel’s coalition over proposals for Greek economic reforms

Germany’s ruling coalition appears to be deeply split over Greece’s latest reform proposals ahead of a climactic meeting of EU leaders at the weekend. While senior Social Democrats (SPD), the junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, welcomed the list of concessions from the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, members of her own conservative bloc were scathing about Greece’s position.

As financial experts digested the plan from Athens, the joint chief executive of Berlin’s stock exchange, Artur Fischer, said that business leaders in Germany felt Greece had squandered its credibility, and that if Merkel agreed to a third bailout for Greece, she could also be signing up to the continuation of the crisis for years to come, thereby risking her chancellorship.

“This is the toughest time in her chancellorship so far. Can she resist the voices of opposition within her own party to push through a third bailout in the Bundestag that most of them are against?” said Fischer.

Western Power

Charles Moore in the Telegraph strays away from Defence and considers the decline of Western power, and our role in it, in “As the world’s dangers escalate, Britain’s world view is shrinking

In the case of Iran, a regime led by fanatical but wily ayatollahs is wringing concession after concession out of the world’s only superpower (plus countries such as Britain described as participants but acting like bystanders).

Much the same applies to Russia. A big power led by an ultra-nationalist bully has worked out that it can do almost anything it wants in its chosen sphere, and the West dare not stop it. At international gatherings with his adversaries, Vladimir Putin can hardly stop himself laughing out loud.

Why should all this be? The West has weakened itself financially because of the credit crunch and politically because of Iraq and Afghanistan, but it remains the freest and richest civilisation in human history. Even with the rise of China, it also remains the most powerful.

Part of the answer is that our opponents know what they want, and we don’t. The Greeks want other people’s money. Iran wants the Bomb. Putin wants his neighbours. We are more confused.

Wind Energy

The Independent runs a cheerleader piece for wind turbines with “Denmark produces 140 per cent of its electricity needs through wind power

Due to an unusually windy day, wind farms in Denmark managed to produce 140 per cent of the country’s electricity needs. By Thursday evening, the Nordic nation’s wind turbines were producing 116 per cent of Denmark’s electricity needs, a figure that rose to 140 per cent in the early hours of this morning.

As reported by The Guardian, 80 per cent of the surplus power was shared between Germany and Norway, with Sweden taking the 20 per cent left over. The figures were noticed by the paper on energinet.dk, a site which shows the power output of Denmark’s wind farms in real-time.

(Editor: But what happens on days when it produces <1% of the nation’s energy?)

Labour Leadership

The Guardian reports that “Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership bid helped by Unite members’ vote push

Jeremy Corbyn’s prospects in the Labour leadership election were boosted when it was confirmed that about 30,000 Unite members have signed up as registered party supporters, making them eligible to vote in the contest.

The trade union has been supporting the leftwing candidate. He was initially seen as on the fringes of the four-way race, but he is gaining so much support that he is being taken more seriously.

Corbyn has the second highest number of Labour nominations by constituency parties of the contenders, with a total of 28 compared with 25 for Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, and 36 for Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary.

EU Regulation

The Telegraph carries a story “David Cameron to demand opt-out on EU work law in referendum negotiations

David Cameron will demand that Britain is able to ignore most of the employment rules imposed on the UK by Brussels as part of his renegotiation with the European Union, it can be disclosed.

The Prime Minister will open up open a major new front in his battle with the EU ahead of Britain’s in-out referendum by seeking to restore opt-outs on the Social Chapter that were jettisoned by Tony Blair.

It means that Britain would no longer be forced to abide by the Working Time Directive, which for eurosceptics has become a totemic symbol of Brussels’ interference in the British economy.

The Mail also covers this in Cameron demands an opt-out on EU job laws: Prime Minister will seek to scrap maximum 48-hour working week in the social chapter

(Editor: We have to ask, how long before the Schulz/Juncker steamroller crushes this idea?)

EU Immigration

The Express reports on: Population overload: Britain now houses almost one in eight of ALL EU residents

On January 1 this year, 64.8million people were living in the UK, about 13 per cent of the total number inside the EU. Despite its tiny size, Britain now has the third largest population in Europe behind Germany and France, the European Commission statistics show. And it is more densely populated than both.

Together with Italy, the four countries are now home to more than half the EU’s 508million residents. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the UK population grew by more than 400,000 last year.

Over half of the staggering increase – the same as a city the size of Manchester – was due to migration. Booming birth rates among migrant mothers was another major factor.  More than 2.3million citizens from other European countries are now living in Britain.

Boundary Changes

The Independent reports that “Tory MPs fear losing seats if David Cameron cuts constituencies

Conservative MPs will start to learn next week whether their constituencies are at risk of being scrapped as David Cameron presses ahead with the biggest redrawing of the political map for a generation.

The move to reduce the number of parliamentary seats from 650 to 600 risks a rebellion among Tory MPs who believe the House of Commons should remain at its current size.

Some had hoped the plans would be abandoned following their election victory, but the Prime Minister has signalled his determination to deliver on a promise in the party’s manifesto.

Islamic Extremism

The Mail asks “Is hate preacher on £50,000 benefits REALLY too disabled to work? Jihadi who inspired Tunisia beach massacre caught lifting heavy items, pushing a wheelchair and driving

Carrying heavy items to his car and pushing a wheelchair, terror preacher Hani Al-Sibai does not seem to have severe mobility problems. Yet he is claiming £50,000 a year in disability and other benefits as he defies efforts to kick him out of the country.

Now Al-Sibai, a ‘key influencer’ of the group behind the Tunisian beach massacre, could have his handouts from the taxpayer slashed after the Mail took these photographs casting doubt on his claim to be severely disabled. Al-Sibai, who has fought deportation from the UK for more than a decade, insists he is too unwell to work, cannot walk without severe discomfort and requires help with basic care, such as washing, dressing and using the toilet.

However the photographs caught Al-Sibai walking with apparent ease in the sunshine. He carried a heavy scanner under one arm and pushed a wheelchair to his car before throwing it into the boot. And he mocked a Mail report earlier this week that exposed his benefits-funded lifestyle, telling friends: ‘It says I live in a house worth one million. I correct it for them – one and a half million.’

The Express has a different take on the topic with “Most British Muslims are APPALLED by ISIS. So how can they help fight this evil movement?” It starts with an apology:

Earlier this week Express.co.uk ran a story which incorrectly claimed up to half of British Muslims ‘could support ISIS’. This article was based on a national poll commissioned by a rival newspaper, the results of which both publications interpreted incorrectly. Within a few hours we realised our error and quickly removed the article, but it should never have been published and we apologise unreservedly for any upset caused. Among those who strongly objected to the story was Haras Rafiq, the Managing Director of the counter-extremist Quilliam Foundation, who we accept was quoted out of context in the piece. Here, we give Mr Rafiq full right of reply and ask him to address one of the most challenging questions facing Britain today…

Mr Rafiq says:

British Muslims like me have more in common with the rest of British society than with the barbaric jihadist terrorists in ISIS, so why is it that we’re always asked to condemn the brutality that ISIS exhibit?

Well, I think it is because ISIS has something to do with my faith, Islam. They distort it beyond recognition, take literalist interpretations that many lazily fail to question, and commit acts of violence in its name. They don’t act in my name, nor do they adhere to the same interpretation of Islam that I do, but they get away with saying they do, because too many of us are too quiet in response.

So that’s the first thing we can do, as British Muslims, we can stand up and defend our faith from Islamist extremists. My Islam is completely compatible with human rights. My beliefs aren’t out of place in 2015 Britain. Maybe I should shout a little louder about that.

(Editor: Whether his claims are valid or not will no doubt be hotly debated!)

Housing

The Mirror reports that “Half a million homes beat the £1m price tag as London leads a housing boom

More than 500,000 people have homes that are worth at least £1million. There are 10,958 streets with property millionaires, including 4,735 in London, 234 in the North West, 146 in the West Midlands and 99 in Yorkshire and Humber.

Kensington Palace Gardens in the capital, whose residents include Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich and steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, is the most expensive street in the UK with the average property costing more than £42million.

There are 13 streets in Britain where the average house price is over £10 million, all of which are in London. Kensington Palace Gardens is ranked as the country’s most expensive street overall, with homes there worth £42.6 million on average.

Cardiff

Raheem Kassam, Editor of Breitbart London reports from Cardiff: “Migration and Big Government are turning Cardiff into a high tax hell

Labour’s Cardiff City Council has said that it needs to raise taxes year on year in order to make up a budget shortfall of around £56million in 2016, possibly rising to £145million by the end of the 2019. Instead of cutting costs and creating greater efficiencies for the city, the Labour-run council is talking about raising council taxes by a whopping 4.5 per cent, against an average rise of 0.9 per cent for England.

The council has been plagued by mismanagement for years, with profligate and wasteful spending at the heart of its problems. Just one week ago, the former deputy leader of Cardiff council, Ralph Cook, attacked his Labour Party colleagues, stating: “The leadership doesn’t understand how to co-ordinate the group or run the city… There are sufficient silent people in the group who let it happen.”

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