Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman attorney Articles’

Germans Express ‘Frustration’ With Greece For Stalling Bailout Deal

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 02 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

No country is playing a more critical role in dealing with Greece than Germany. Germany has the most powerful economy in Europe. It’s home to the European Central Bank – the ECB – and it’s the key political dealmaker. German public opinion has been stacked against Greece from the beginning of this crisis, and many Germans feel that the Greeks deserve the consequences of their actions. To hear more about the German view, I’m joined now by Roman Pletter. He is deputy head of the business and economics section of the newspaper Die Zeit, and he joins us from Hamburg. Welcome to the program.

ROMAN PLETTER: Welcome. Hello.

SIEGEL: As we hear news about the very real fears and crises on the streets of Greece, how would you describe the mood in Germany?

PLETTER: Well, actually, it’s a mixture of frustration and indifference. I think frustration with the Greek government because many Germans feel like the Greece government were just playing them for several weeks when there was just enough time to get a deal done. But the other side is that in Germany itself, economically speaking, actually, it’s like living on an island at the moment. So unemployment is low. Growth is doing well. And I think we do not feel all the economic problems some other countries in the euro zone might face at the moment.

SIEGEL: When you say you feel like you’re living on an island, you feel like you’re living on a very pleasant island is what you are saying.

PLETTER: That’s right. And so I think there is no huge outrage about Greece. That’s not the case. Another side is that, of course, there are some politicians who think we have to rescue them because they fear that if the euro collapses, the whole euro zone and even Europe is an idea might be destroyed afterwards.

SIEGEL: Well, does maintaining the euro zone and maintaining the euro as a currency – does that trump whatever sense of fairness Germans might have, thinking that it’s only fair that Greece honor its obligations?

PLETTER: Well, I think that’s at the heart of the economic thinking of, for example, Chancellor Angela Merkel. She once said she wants to run the economy like a Swabian housewife, which refers to doing economic policy in a way like running your household. That means don’t spend more money than you have, and that’s what her conservative constituency expects from her. And given the fact that Germany had Social Security reforms 10 years ago, when former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder – he had to resign afterwards because people did not support these reforms. Now we are benefiting from these reforms. And many Germans think we had this hard time, and we expect the Greece people doing this themselves.

SIEGEL: But what – how did Germans react to the argument that, yes, Germany said, we should run this like a sound German household. On the other hand, by including Greece in the euro zone, you more or less said to an improvident member of the family go run up a bill. You can now borrow money is if you were a German, at very low rates.

PLETTER: I see your point, and I think that’s an argument often made by other countries criticizing Germany. The answer you would get from many German politicians is that when Greece joined the euro, they actually betrayed the other countries in the euro zone with delivering wrong numbers about their growth rates, about their economic situation. And they basically lied their way into the euro zone. And that’s something many people are still kind of struggling with. And that makes it so hard for many Germans to say, well, actually, we’ll bail out Greece anyway, but that’s a problem. In my personal opinion, that’s a problem because it’s very backwards-looking. It doesn’t help us in the future. Now we have to deal with the situation. They’re in the euro zone, and we have to deal with it.

SIEGEL: Roman Pletter of the newspaper Die Zeit in Hamburg. Thanks for talking with us today.

PLETTER: Thank you very much.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/01/419240766/germans-express-frustration-with-greece-for-stalling-bailout-deal?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Greece Moves Forward With Referendum On Proposed Bailout

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 02 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Greek prime minister said today he is willing to compromise to save his country from financial chaos. He said he’d work with European leaders on a new credit deal, but those leaders say they won’t talk about that until Greeks vote in a referendum Sunday. Greece’s previous loan deal expired yesterday. The banks are still closed, and the country is very close to broke. Joanna Kakissis has the latest from Athens.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: In a short televised address, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Greeks that he was still fighting hard for them.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALEXIS TSIPRAS: (Through interpreter) We have been fighting all these months to protect your pensions and to make sure you have respectable ones. The proposals the lenders tried to blackmail us into signing would have cut your pensions. And that’s why we declined, and that’s why they’re taking revenge on us now.

KAKISSIS: That revenge, he says, is the closing of Greek banks and the limit on cash withdrawals until at least next week. But economist Platon Tinios says the European Central Bank had been using Greek government bonds as collateral to finance the banks. And since the previous bailout expired yesterday, that collateral may now be worthless.

PLATON TINIOS: So that would mean really big problems for the banks. The amount of money that the banks have on which they can lend will almost disappear.

KAKISSIS: The bank closures are affecting Kostas Youderis. The small fabric factory where he works can’t pay him until the banks reopen and credit is restored. The prime minister says Greeks should not regard Sunday’s vote as a referendum on the euro, but Youderis says that’s exactly how he sees it.

KOSTAS YOUDERIS: (Speaking Greek).

KAKISSIS: “If we drop the euro and return to our old drachma,” he says, “we will all be crying in our mother’s arms. We will go right off a cliff.” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who leads the eurozone finance ministers, hinted that the blame for the crisis lay mostly with the Greek government, and he apologized to Greeks who feel like they’re expulsion from the euro is imminent.

JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM: Finally, I can just say that I’m very sorry about the situation, given the strong determination of the Greek people to be a part of Europe and to remain a part of the eurozone in which we fully support them.

KAKISSIS: Tsipras has asked Greeks to vote no on Sunday’s referendum in order to get a better deal from creditors. For NPR News, I’m Joanna Kakissis in Athens.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/01/419240759/greece-moves-forward-with-referendum-on-proposed-bailout?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Puerto Rico Says With Restructuring It Can Pay Off Debts

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 02 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We’ve been talking a lot about Greece’s financial crisis, but Puerto Rico has also been on the brink of financial collapse. Hundreds of millions of dollars in debt payments were due today, and media sources say that Puerto Rico did make those payments. But it’s still most likely the Commonwealth is not going to be able to pay off its entire debt, which totals $73 billion.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Earlier this week, the governor of Puerto Rico said he’ll seek a moratorium on paying back the loans in order to allow Puerto Rico to rebuild its economy. To find out more about the island’s debt burden and what it means for residents there, we called Luis Vega Ramos. He’s a member of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives.

LUIS VEGA RAMOS: We have cut spending in great terms during during the last two and a half years. We have reformed the banking system. We have enacted new tax measures for the people of Puerto Rico so we that can have more revenue. We’ve reduced operating expenses of the government close to $2 billion so far. And the only element of our public expenditure that is on the rise is still the payment of our public debt.

MARTIN: To say that you cannot pay back $73 billion in debt, understanding that you’re trying to restructure to be able meet some of those payments, what does this mean for Puerto Rico’s ability to secure international loans in the future?

RAMOS: Well, I mean, Puerto Rico can only secure loans, through our current political situation, through the U.S. municipal bond market. And the reality is that option has been practically non-available. So, in that sense, saying what we have said practically doesn’t change the possibility of Puerto Rico moving out and getting more financial loans. What we’re saying is we intend to pay, but we need to restructure the nature of those payments.

MARTIN: I understand this is a complicated question, but how did this happen – $73 billion in debt?

RAMOS: Well, it’s a combination of factors. Obviously, there is a financial crisis worldwide. To that, we also have to add some not-so-wise practices of borrowing money to use in operational expenditures instead of on capital improvements. And that’s like using the money to pay for the mortgage in order to buy perishable items.

MARTIN: As this financial crisis in Puerto Rico has unraveled over the past few years, there’s been a pretty steady exodus of Puerto Ricans to the United States and other places. Are you expecting that the fixes that you’ve outlined – are you expecting people to feel secure enough in Puerto Rico’s future that they come home? How is this likely to affect the lives of your residents and citizens who have dispersed?

RAMOS: That’s where I think our debt holders, by agreeing on new terms so that we can pay what we owe – that the money that we don’t have to pay up front can be used in certain, specific investments that promote the economy of Puerto Rico. The reason of development like aeronautics, like science and technology and medical – if we get an injection that permit us to develop those very important pockets of economic development, we’ll be in a better position to pay our debt holders. And we’ll also be in a better position to depend less and less and less on fellow subsidies for our working poor.

MARTIN: Luis Vega Ramos is a member of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives. Thanks so much for talking with us, sir.

RAMOS: Thank you very much – a privilege.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/01/419240842/puerto-rico-says-with-restructuring-it-can-pay-off-debts?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Puerto Rico’s Governor Seeks To Delay Debt Payments

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 01 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That’s the debt crisis in the Mediterranean. Closer to home in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is facing a fiscal crisis of its own. After years of borrowing to cover budget shortfalls, the U.S. territory is more than $72 billion in debt and faces some important deadlines tomorrow. The governor there, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, gave a televised address last night. In it, he warned residents that there would have to be sacrifices, and some of them would have to be borne by creditors. The governor is proposing a multi-year moratorium on debt payments.

NPR’s Greg Allen joins us now from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Greg, today, Puerto Rico’s bonds fell in value for the second day in a row, the first following an interview in which the governor called Puerto Rico’s debt, quote, “unpayable.” Is the governor threatening to default at this point?

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Well, bondholders might disagree, Rachel. But officials here say definitely not. They say – what they’re asking is in the best interest not just of Puerto Rico but also the bondholders and the hedge funds that hold Puerto Rico’s debt. What Puerto Rico wants is better terms from its lenders, even, as the governor said last night, a moratorium on debt payments for a couple of years until the island can get its economy going again. I spoke today to a representative from the governor’s party, Rep. Luis Vega Ramos. He’s – he compared Puerto Rico to a family that’s had a setback and can no longer pay their home mortgage. Here’s what he had to say.

LUIS VEGA RAMOS: That family does what Puerto Rico needs to do now. They put their best suit and tie. They go to the bank, and they say to the bank people, we’ve never missed a mortgage payment. We cannot pay you as it is right now. So in one pocket, I have my checkbook, and I can structure a new way of paying you. Or in the other pocket, I have the keys to the house.

MARTIN: OK, but is there any reason to believe that lenders in Puerto Rico want the keys to the house?

ALLEN: I don’t think they do. Lenders really just want their money. The main thing Puerto Rico has going for it at this point is that lenders – they don’t want assets like the island’s troubled power company. So the lenders are at the table negotiating, but something like a multi-year moratorium on debt payments that the governor’s asked for – that might be a bit of a stretch.

MARTIN: Puerto Rico has to make some big debt payments tomorrow. What are people saying? Does it have the money?

ALLEN: Well, clearly they have some. Puerto Rico’s reported to have paid off a $700 million short-term loan to a group of banks today. The head of the government bank has said they will have the cash to make a big debt payment tomorrow on general obligation bonds. But there’s other things going – out there. The island power company has a big payment due tomorrow and Puerto Rico officials have been doing last-minute negotiations with bondholders in that deal. It looks like they might have a deal where the power company pays much of what it owes and is able to postpone paying back part of the debt while negotiations continue there.

MARTIN: You’re there in San Juan, Greg. What’s it feel like walking around the city for average workers? What does it feel like to them?

ALLEN: Well, you know, it seems like a crisis to me because the way we report it. Then you get here, and you realize that things have been so bad for so long that I think for most people here, it’s just another day. In the governor’s address last night, he talked about pain and shared sacrifice. And we’ll have to see what that means because in the past, when there’s been big layoffs of government workers, cuts to education spending – things that did cause pain – there were big protests in the streets. So we won’t know until probably August or later. The governor’s appointed a working group to work something out with lenders, and we’ll see what they come up with and whether big spending cuts are going to be part of that picture.

MARTIN: NPR’s Greg Allen in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thanks so much, Greg.

ALLEN: You’re welcome.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/30/418924548/puerto-ricos-governor-seeks-to-delay-debt-payments?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

U.S. And Cuba Will Formally Re-Establish Diplomatic Relations

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 01 2015

A White House administration official confirms that the United States and Cuba have come to an agreement to formally re-establish diplomatic relations and open embassies in Havana and Washington.

The Obama administration will announce the agreement on Wednesday.

As NPR’s Krishnadev Calamur has explained, the U.S. imposed sanctions and then broke off diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro’s communist regime in the early 1960s.

Krishnadev gives us a little more history on the embargo and restrictions:

“The George W. Bush administration had tightened the embargo and increased travel restrictions, but Obama eased those soon after assuming office in 2009. And as CFR notes, ‘He went further in 2011 to undo many of the restrictions imposed by the Bush administration, thus allowing U.S. citizens to send remittances to non-family members in Cuba and to travel to Cuba for educational or religious purposes.’

“Cuba, too, is changing, as this story on NPR’s Morning Edition by Nick Miroff notes. Raul Castro has introduced modest changes to a country cossetted for decades by a socialist economic model. Obama has acknowledged these changes and called for a renewed approach to the nation.

” ‘We have to be creative,’ he said last month in Miami. ‘And we have to be thoughtful. And we have to continue to update our policies. Keep in mind that when Castro came to power, I was just born.’ “

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/30/418966890/u-s-and-cuba-will-formally-re-establish-diplomatic-relations?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Peru’s Pitmasters Bury Their Meat In The Earth, Inca-Style

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 01 2015

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A traditional pachamanca in Peru in 2012.

A traditional pachamanca in Peru in 2012.



Sam Grey/Flickr

What’s the epitome of summer for a lot of Americans? It’s communing around a grill, with friends and family, waiting for a slab of meat to cook to juicy perfection.

In Peru, people like to gather around heat and meat, too. Except the heat — and the meat — are buried in the ground. It’s called pachamanca, a traditional way of cooking that dates back to the Inca Empire. The pit cooking technique has evolved over time but remains an important part of the Peruvian cuisine and culture, especially in the central Peruvian Andes all year-round for family get-togethers and celebrations.

Imagine a cornucopia of dozens of potatoes and corn ears and giant slabs of well-marinated meat, stacked carefully in layers (like these carefully constructed Pizza Hut salad bar salads). Pachamanca is that cornucopia turned upside-down and sealed for hours.

Pachamanca is the combination of two words in the Quechua language: pacha, for earth and manka for pot. To make one, “you basically make a pot in the earth,” says Rosa Maria La Madrid, foodways coordinator of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which is held on the National Mall this year from June 24 to July 5 and this year has Peru as its central theme. Traditionally, you’d dig a hole in the earth. But since this pachamanca demo that happened Friday was on the National Mall, the team improvised by building a small oven with bricks above ground.

Big volcanic rocks serve as heat source, so instead of grilling your meat, you grill the rocks over fire for roughly an hour.

“It has to be volcanic rocks that can support all the heat or else the rock will burst,” La Madrid says. The rocks used for demonstration were lava rocks that came from a local gardening store, she says.

After the rocks are blazing hot, they become the bottommost layer of the pit. Then the first layer of food goes on: vegetables that need longer cooking times like potatoes, sweet potatoes and the Peruvian tubers yucca, oca and mashwa. The second layer is the meat — a whole lot of it.

“We use three to four types of meat,” La Madrid says, “The most common ones are chicken, beef and pork. You can also use lamb and mutton. We call these different types of meat Pachamanca flavors.”

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People throw potatoes into a pachamanca during the gastronomic fair Mistura in Lima in 2011.

Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images


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Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

People throw potatoes into a pachamanca during the gastronomic fair Mistura in Lima in 2011.

People throw potatoes into a pachamanca during the gastronomic fair Mistura in Lima in 2011.

Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Another layer of rocks — as hot as charcoal at this point — go on next. Then, it’s vegetables that need less cooking time, such as corn, fava beans in their pods, a little pot with cheese inside it and sweet Peruvian tamales.

After the food is in there, it’s time to cover it all up. Banana and plantain leaves go first to give some flavoring, and then craft paper (think your brown lunch bag), polyester fabric and some cotton fabric too. Lastly, soil is put on top. Traditionally, the soil covers almost all of the fabric, but here at the demonstration it was only sprinkled on for safety reasons.

A little cross and flowers go on top. Then, according to La Madrid, you designate someone to be the godfather and godmother for the pachamanca. It’s typically the person in charge and it’s their job to bring beer for everyone at the end.

Now, you can go grab that beer, or the sweet fermented corn drink chicha as the oven to does its magic for one to two hours. Seasoning slathered onto the meat is steaming and trickles down through the layers to every single potato at the bottom. When the pit is opened, even the steam that emerges is filled with a delicious smoky aroma.

“Sunday is for family and pachamanca is a very Sunday dish,” La Madrid says. It’s not only a family activity that involves many helping hands, but the big portions can easily feed a whole extended family.

Unfortunately, the food prepared at the demonstration is not for consumption, so the pachamanca made wasn’t served, although La Madrid said everything turned out well. It’s said that the meat is very similar to barbequed meat, a little charred on the outside but much more moist on the inside. There’s no extra sauces needed since the seasoning provides the flavor and the steaming helped spread the seasoning everywhere.

Pachamanca-style pit cooking also exists in other South American regions under a different name, such as curanto in Patagonia. Francis Mallman, an Argentine chef and guru of cooking with fire, praises pit cooking and its unique flavors in the documentary series Chef’s Table.

“The taste you get from this pit in the vegetables is amazing because they’re extremely moist and smoky,” Mallman says on the show.

So there you have it — a steaming pit full of ancient Inca traditions. Better start loading up on those volcanic rocks (which can be found at local gardening stores) if you want to try your hand at the recreating a Peruvian taste in your backyard.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/30/418845104/perus-pitmasters-bury-their-meat-in-the-earth-inca-style?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Like Greece, Cash-Strapped Puerto Rico Needs A Fiscal Lifeline

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jun 30 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Over the weekend, two dramas played out simultaneously in the world’s financial markets. In Greece, the government announced it would shut down the country’s banks after efforts to reach agreement with its European creditors ran aground. And in Puerto Rico, the governor of the U.S. territory announced that it could no longer pay its debts and would seek concessions from its creditors. As NPR’s Jim Zarroli reports, Puerto Rico’s debt troubles have a lot in common with those of Greece and there are also important differences.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Like Greece, Puerto Rico saw its economy weaken substantially during the past decade. Its unemployment rate soared. For a while, Puerto Rico borrowed heavily to keep up government spending, but over time, it couldn’t get out of the fiscal hole it had dug. David Tawil is president of Maglan Capital, which purchases distressed government debt.

DAVID TAWIL: Greece seems to have some pretty fundamental headwinds that it faces, you know, in terms of its economy, in terms of its tax collection, in terms of its pension burden. Puerto Rico has a lot of those same types of issues.

ZARROLI: Today, Puerto Rico was unable to pay its debts and its governor says he will ask its creditors for more time. While the Treasury Department isn’t commenting on Puerto Rico’s problems, there have been published reports that the island is seeking a loan from the federal government. With the bond markets all but closed to the commonwealth, any solution to Puerto Rico’s troubles is likely to involve some type of federal help. Economist Arturo Porzecanski teaches at American University.

ARTURO PORZECANSKI: What Greece is for the eurozone, that’s what Puerto Rico’s going to become for us. It is going to become a territory which we’re going to have to subsidize even more than before, give more tax breaks; eventually give federal aid.

ZARROLI: But there are important differences that mitigate Puerto Rico’s risk to the financial system. Puerto Rico is a tiny part of the U.S. economy, even smaller than Greece is to the eurozone. And because the island a U.S. territory, its banks are already guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. That prevents the kind of bank runs now plaguing Greece. David Tawil says the mutual funds and banks that invested in Puerto Rican bonds have had ample warning about the island’s troubles and many sold off their holdings at a loss long ago.

TAWIL: The fact that we – the market has had such a heads up for so long has allowed anyone who’s wanted to bail on the sinking ship, so to say, to get out. And those folks that see opportunity, you know, went in with eyes wide open.

ZARROLI: Many of those who still hold Puerto Rican bonds are distressed debt investors who bought them cheap and are hanging on in hopes of making a killing. If Puerto Rico isn’t the kind of systemic problem that Greece has been, it does present policy challenges to the federal government. Former IMF economist Andrew Wolfe is one of the authors of a report on Puerto Rico that was released today.

ANDREW WOLFE: The interesting dilemma I think for the U.S. Treasury is, you know, what type of assistance can they give and what precedent does it send to other distressed states, let’s say, that may come down the pipe.

ZARROLI: Wolfe says there are a lot of cities and states in fiscal trouble right now. As conditions on Puerto Rico deteriorate, they’ll be watching to see what kind of help Washington prides. And Washington will want to avoid sending signals that it’s ready to provide bailouts to all who find themselves in trouble. Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/29/418641161/like-greece-to-europe-puerto-rico-is-americas-sinking-ship?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

U.N. Holds Climate Talks In New York Ahead Of Paris Meeting

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jun 30 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Diplomacy comes in many forms, from secret backroom discussions to grand public speeches, and today, it has been more the latter at the United Nations in New York City. Diplomats from all over the world are there to talk about climate change. And NPR science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce is listening, and she joins us from U.N. headquarters. Nell, set the scene for us. What’s been going on there today?

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE, BYLINE: Well, there’s been a lot of talk, as you can imagine. I’m standing in a booth overlooking the meeting hall, which has got all these tables arranged in a horseshoe around a big screen. And basically, country after country has been having representatives talk. Just looking around the room – I’m looking at labels on the chairs – we’ve got Italy, we’ve got Indonesia, we’ve got India. People have spoken from China, France, Brazil, so a lot of countries here are making their views heard.

SIEGEL: And what’s the purpose of this meeting?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, the main purpose is to keep attention focused on the effort to get a serious global warming agreement – basically, an agreement to rein in the emissions of greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. And this is going to be the final agreement negotiated later this year in Paris. And it would be the first time that both developing and developed countries make commitments to try to contain their greenhouse gas emissions that’s supposed to take effect in 2020. And what’s happening now is not really negotiations, but just sort of trying to keep momentum going towards that goal.

SIEGEL: But there have been negotiating sessions before this. Are the countries anywhere close to a deal?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, there’s a lot of key issues unresolved. The last negotiation session was earlier this month and there’s a lot of key issues that are unresolved. At that session, they had this 90-page draft agreement that they were trying to sort of streamline and cut down into something more manageable. And at the end of about 11 days, they had cut it down to 85 pages instead of 90 pages, so there’s a lot left to do. And they’ve said here today that they hope to have another draft agreement presented to the group at the end of July, so a lot of people are worried that the pace is rather slow.

SIEGEL: Well, what are the major issues that the countries disagree on?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, there’s some really big issues, like how will countries be held accountable for the promises they make about what they’re going to do to try to control climate change and how will those promises be reviewed and sort of, you know, make sure people actually do what they say they’re going to? Another issue is finance. There have been pledges of, you know, a goal of $100 billion a year by 2020 that would help developing countries both adapt to climate change and sort of shift to strategies that would mitigate emissions. So where’s that money going to come from? Is it going to be public? Is it going to be public-private partnership? Other issues are what are the long-term goals? I mean, years ago, there was a goal set that they were going to try to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. But so far, people have been looking at the promises that countries have put forward as part of this negotiation, and they’ve said, you know, what we see so far is not going to get us to that goal. So what should the long-term goals be?

SIEGEL: As part of this process, countries have to come up with their own plans for what they’re willing to do to fight climate change. How many countries have actually submitted plans to the U.N. by now?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Well, there’s about 11 countries, plus the European Union, and so places like the United States, Russia and Canada have submitted their plans. They’re still waiting for plans from big players like Brazil and China. And here today, both of those countries said that they were working on their plans and hope to submit them soon.

SIEGEL: That’s NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce at the U.N. Nell, thanks.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Thank you.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/29/418641168/u-n-holds-climate-talks-in-new-york-ahead-of-paris-meeting?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Greeks Brace For The Fallout As Deadline Looms

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jun 30 2015

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A Greek demonstrator urges a “no” vote in Sunday’s referendum on whether Greece should accept international demands for additional financial austerity. He is holding an old 1,000 Greek drachma bank note during a rally in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki on Monday. Some Greeks say the country should leave the eurozone and go back to the drachma.

Giannis Papanikos/AP


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Giannis Papanikos/AP

A Greek demonstrator urges a no vote in Sunday's referendum on whether Greece should accept international demands for additional financial austerity. He is holding an old 1,000 Greek drachma bank note during a rally in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki on Monday. Some Greeks say the country should leave the eurozone and go back to the drachma.

A Greek demonstrator urges a “no” vote in Sunday’s referendum on whether Greece should accept international demands for additional financial austerity. He is holding an old 1,000 Greek drachma bank note during a rally in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki on Monday. Some Greeks say the country should leave the eurozone and go back to the drachma.

Giannis Papanikos/AP

Giorgos Koronis is welcoming tourists from the U.S. and England at the old Olympic Stadium in Athens, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896.

Koronis, 50, has worked for the state for 25 years, mainly at ticket counters at various tourist sites around the Greek capital. But today he’s struggling to smile.

He spent Monday morning at the ATM in line with a few retirees from his neighborhood, including his mother.

“Sixty euros — that’s how much I pulled out,” he says. That’s just under $70 and it’s the limit for Greek bank depositors amid the current crisis.

“Maybe tomorrow, though, I will only be able to pull out half of that,” he adds.

The international bailout program that has been keeping the Greek economy on life support ends Tuesday. An important payment of 1.6 billion euros, or $1.73 billion is due to the International Monetary Fund and Greece will miss it. Banks are closed and will remain shut until at least next week.

Greece’s anti-austerity government has asked Greeks to vote this Sunday on a new, though unfinished, bailout deal. The ATM withdrawals are limited so Greek banks — which are very low on capital — can stay solvent. Yet many ATMs are running out of cash, and all this is happening at the height of tourism season.

Greeks have been dealing with these crises for several years and have learned to cope with financial uncertainty. Still, Koronis and many other Greeks are worried this time. He’s a little angry at the government for asking him to vote in Sunday’s referendum on a bailout deal he says he doesn’t understand.

“I really hope it doesn’t lead to us getting out of the euro,” he says. “I’m afraid we are all going to go hungry if that happens. But even now, with the euro, all these cuts, I keep worrying my salary will be cut even more.”

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The Impact On Tourists

A group of American high school students from Saline, Mich., and their chaperones are at the stadium.

They arrived in Greece over the weekend. They can theoretically withdraw all the cash they want since their bank is not in Greece. But many ATMs are empty.

Dane Hoffman, 17, says the group spent the weekend in the ancient city of Olympia, where the Olympics were born. One ATM had a line filled with worried Greeks, he says.

“In Olympia, in that long line of people, some of the people in front of us were withdrawing all of the cash they could out of the ATMs,” he says. They were able to withdraw as much as they wanted before the restrictions went into effect Monday.

One of the chaperones, Kurt Trainor, 46, says shop owners in Olympia asked the Americans to pay in euros.

“They’re asking you not to use your credit card, just because they don’t know what’s going to happen, so they would rather have you use euros,” he says.

Bigger Problems Loom

Greek economist Platon Tinios says the problems will just get bigger as the week goes on. Tuesday is an important marker because of the debt repayment that Greece won’t be able to make to the IMF.

“It’s like an ice cube compared to the iceberg, which is catching up to us … which is the overall default,” says Tinios. “It’s an important milestone, not paying the IMF could place Greece in the company of pariah nations such as Somalia, Sudan and so on, but we probably won’t get there straight away.”

Manolis Spathis, a 29-year-old unemployed economist, says that even if Greece were to get an additional bailout offer, it should reject it. He was one of thousands outside Parliament on Monday evening urging Greeks to vote “no” in Sunday’s referendum.

He says the way out of the economic mess is clear.

“The only way is to get out of the euro,” he says. “I’m unemployed. And I don’t own my house. I have to pay rent. So in six months from now, if the situation doesn’t improve, I will be homeless.”

He’s not alone. Many Greeks are frustrated with the damage that imposed austerity has wrought on the country.

But public opinion polls show that most Greeks still want to keep the euro as their currency.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/06/29/417415623/greeks-brace-for-the-fallout-as-deadline-looms?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Greece To Close Banks, Impose Capital Controls Amid Looming Default

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jun 29 2015

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A security worker brings money to a National Bank branch in Athens on Sunday. Greeks have been withdrawing euros in anticipation of a possible default on the country’s debt payments early next week.

Marko Djurica/Reuters/Landov


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A security worker brings money to a National Bank branch in Athens on Sunday. Greeks have been withdrawing euros in anticipation of a possible default on the country's debt payments early next week.

A security worker brings money to a National Bank branch in Athens on Sunday. Greeks have been withdrawing euros in anticipation of a possible default on the country’s debt payments early next week.

Marko Djurica/Reuters/Landov

Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced Sunday that banks will be closed and capital controls imposed in order to stave off a run on the euro after negotiations with the country’s international lenders broke down.

He said the Athens stock market would also be closed.

However, Tsipras blamed the European Central Bank for the latest crisis after it decided not to increase the amount of emergency liquidity amid a run on the banks that saw people lined up at ATMs, many of which ran dry amid the onslaught.

“It is now more than clear that this decision has no other aim than to blackmail the will of the Greek people and prevent the smooth democratic process of the referendum,” Tsipras said in a televised address to the Greek people, according to The Associated Press.

“[Rejection] of the Greek government’s request for a short extension of the program was an unprecedented act by European standards, questioning the right of a sovereign people to decide,” he said.

“This decision led the ECB today to limit the liquidity available to Greek banks and forced the Greek central bank to suggest a bank holiday and restrictions on bank withdrawals,” Tsipras said, without elaborating on how long the bank holiday would continue.

On Saturday, Tsipras called for a national referendum on July 5 to decide the fate of a bailout package hammered out in negotiations led by Germany, the home of the ECB and the grouping’s strongest economy. Finance ministers with the European Union have rejected the surprise vote.

The premier’s remarks also come as the country’s opposition leader, Antonis Samaras, called for Tsipras to scrap the referendum and form a government of national unity.

A default on a 1.6 billion euro ($1.9 billion) debt due the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday could presage an exit from the eurozone and a return to a heavily devalued version of Greece’s former currency, the drachma.

As Joanna Kakissis reports from Athens for NPR: “Some European leaders say the Greek government closed the door on negotiations by calling a referendum. Others are pushing for a compromise to preserve the euro.”

As The New York Times reports:

“The central bank’s 25-member governing council, convened by conference call, was discussing how and whether to extend an emergency line of credit — currently worth more than 85 billion euros, or $95 billion — that in recent weeks has kept Greek banks from collapsing.

“Analysts say that without these funds, Greek banks would not have sufficient money to provide to panicky savers if they opened on Monday. Without a continued flow of money to consumers and businesses, Greece’s struggling economy would probably lapse deeper into recession.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew called IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and the finance ministers of Germany and France, urging them to “find a solution that puts Greece on a path toward reform and recovery within the Eurozone,” according to a statement.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/28/418276486/greece-tries-to-stanch-bank-run-ahead-of-looming-default?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world