Monday, February 16, 2015

Today's Links

1--Obama administration intervenes against West Coast dock workers, wsws

2--Harper government to criminalize Canadian Pacific railway strike, wsws

3--Hostilities ease in eastern Ukraine on first day of cease-fire, wsws

Ahead of the ceasefire deadline, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, prime minister of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), had insisted that the terms of the ceasefire did not apply to the soldiers trapped in Debaltseve as they were considered to be on separatist-held territory. “Any attempt of the Ukrainian armed forces to unblock Debaltseve will be regarded as violation of the Minsk agreements; such attempts will be suppressed, adversaries will be eliminated,” Zakharchenko said.
The pro-Russian separatists have sent cell phone text messages to the several thousand Ukrainian soldiers it has encircled in Debaltseve, calling on them to turn in their weapons and surrender.

Eduard Basurin, a spokesman from the DPR defense ministry, reported that, while hostilities had largely ceased elsewhere, rebel-held positions northwest of Debaltseve had also come under attack by machine gun and rocket fire from Ukrainian forces early Sunday morning shortly after the ceasefire deadline. Basurin stated that separatist forces “were forced to open fire in response.”
“Over the past night and during the day on Sunday, the situation in the DPR was calm for the first time in months,” Basurin told reporters. “The ceasefire regime there did not come into force in due time. Ukrainian troops blocked in Debaltseve keep on trying to break the encirclement,” he continued. “Our positions, primarily at Logvinovo, were shelled from the town all through the night.”

Shortly after the ceasefire came into effect, Dmytro Yarosh, head of the fascist Right Sector militia and a member of parliament who has been leading fighting in the east, published a statement on the website of the National Guard of Ukraine indicating that the forces under his command were still fighting despite the ceasefire. He reported that two of his “finely armed and equipped battalions continue offensive near Debaltseve and have serious achievements militarily.” His statement was removed from the website several hours later.

In a statement published on his Facebook page Friday, Yarosh had denounced the ceasefire agreement and declared that the Right Sector militia “reserves the right to extend the active hostilities under its own operational plans.”
In southeast Ukraine the fascist Azov Battalion held positions it had gained before the ceasefire in operations against rebel-held positions east of the city of Mariupol. Three of the battalion’s fighters were killed and another 50 injured during fighting in the village of Shyrokyne on Saturday before the ceasefire took effect.
The government reported shelling in the government controlled village of Zolote northwest of Luhansk early Sunday morning. An elderly couple in the nearby city of Popasna was killed Sunday morning after a Grad rocket struck and collapsed their house.

4--A revealing Financial Times comment on the Greek debt crisis, wsws

Following the rejection of the Greek proposal at a meeting of the Eurogroup last Thursday, Münchau wrote that the Greek finance minister could expect a frosty reception when he once again confronted his colleagues in a “high noon” showdown.

“My advice to Yanis Varoufakis,” he continued, “would be to ignore the exasperated looks and veiled threats and stand firm. He is a member of the first government in the euro zone with a democratic mandate to stand up to an utterly dysfunctional policy regime that has proved economically illiterate and politically unsustainable. For the euro zone to survive with the current geographic remit, this regime needs to go.”

The publication of such a vigorous comment in one of the world’s major financial dailies points both to the considerable opposition in financial centres to the policies of the German government and to the fact that the Syriza program, far from representing some far-left agenda, is a thoroughly bourgeois program enjoying some measure of support in ruling political and financial circles....

Münchau does not make the point, but the position of Cochrane is significant. The University of Chicago is the centre of the most right-wing “free market” tendency in bourgeois economists, associated with Milton Friedman. The so-called “Chicago boys” were notorious for their restructuring of the Chilean economy under General Pinochet after the CIA-backed overthrow of the Allende government in 1973. The fact that representatives of this tendency should be considering ways in which Greece can defy the dictates of the EU is some measure of the opposition to German policies in US financial and economic policy circles.....

The German opposition is not fundamentally based on these factors. Rather, it is grounded in the fear among sections of the ruling elites that if it relents on austerity then it will have to ultimately take on responsibility not only for the debts of Greece but possibly, Spain, Portugal or even Italy. Such an outcome would seriously weaken Germany’s global economic position, especially in relationship to US finance capital, which inflicted considerable damage on the German financial system through the sub-prime crisis in 2007.

5--The War Next Door: Can Merkel's Diplomacy Save Europe?, Der Spiegel

6--Greece rejects six-month extension of EU bailout, talks stall, Reuters

"Some people's insistence on the Greek government implementing the bailout is unreasonable and cannot be accepted," the official said. "Those who keep returning to this issue are wasting their time. Under such circumstances, there cannot be a deal today."
European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters after the talks broke up after less than four hours that euro zone partners were willing to resume talks with Greece if and when it changed its position.
"It was clearly decided that if and once this request for an extension of the bailout is there, if there are certain commitments from the Greek authorities to stick to the programme, then the chairman of the Eurogroup will announce the next Eurogroup," Dombrovskis said...

Failure to reach a deal would raise fears that Greece could be forced out of the euro zone. The European Central Bank is due to review on Wednesday how much longer it is prepared to allow the Greek central bank to continue providing emergency funds to keep Greek banks afloat.
As the meeting in Brussels broke up, a senior Greek banker said Greece's stance boded ill for the markets and the banks.
“It is a very negative development for the economy and the banks. The outflows will continue. We are losing 400-500 million every day and that means about 2 billion every week. We will have pressure on stocks and bond yields tomorrow.”
An opinion poll showed 68 percent of Greeks want a "fair" compromise with euro zone partners while 30 percent said the government should stand tough even if it means reverting to the drachma currency. The poll found 81 percent want to stay in the euro.

7---Greek ‘revolution’ woke up Europeans, spreads like wildfire’, RT

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