"Sides near agreement on Iran arms, sanctions compact; Negotiators say key issues resolved" by Matt Viser Globe Staff July 12, 2015
VIENNA — The United States and five other world powers appear on the cusp of a historic deal with Iran. The deal could still get derailed or delayed, but several negotiators said many issues have been resolved, and an announcement could come as early as Monday. US officials have continued to urge caution and suggest that they could get 99 percent of the way there and still see the deal collapse.
Like they are hoping it does!
Acting like a bunch of Israelis is what they are doing.
You know, the "oh, wait, one more thing," tactic.
A deal could be a watershed event, given the deep distrust that has existed between Iran and the United States over the past 35 years, and would mark a signature accomplishment for Secretary of State John Kerry and his belief in using diplomacy to preempt war.
This is the same guy who voted for Iraq invasion and was for Libya?
Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, also reiterated his qualms about the emerging contours of the deal. “We have gone from preventing Iran having a nuclear ability to managing it,” Menendez said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“And at the end of the day, I hope that notwithstanding a deal, that the president makes a very clear statement to Iran that as it relates to the future, we cannot accept Iran having a nuclear weapon, period,” he added.
I guess obstacles are still in the way.
After a round of meetings that went late into the night on Saturday, progress was moving forward enough that there was talk of a deal being announced on Sunday, but Iranian and American officials said there were still final details to be worked out.
One sign of progress was that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia returned to Vienna, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China was also expected back.
Foreign Minister Philip Hammond of Britain returned to London on Sunday night, but was planning to be back in Vienna on Monday.
“I hope, I hope, that we are finally entering the final phase of this marathon negotiation,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France told reporters after arriving Sunday from Paris.
A senior State Department official also downplayed the idea that a deal would be announced on Sunday, but left open the possibility that it would come soon.
As of 3 p.m. EDT, nothing.
“We have never speculated about the timing of anything during these negotiations, and we’re certainly not going to start now — especially given the fact that major issues remain to be resolved in these talks,” said a senior State Department official.
On Sunday morning, Kerry engaged in some of the more leisurely activities that he has largely been unable to do amid the blizzard of late-night meetings and long days, but Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday harshly reiterated how he views the United States.
I don't care what Kerry does in his leisure time, and I care even less for the ax-grinding against the Ayatollah.
“The struggle with the arrogant power does not end after a deal; it will be continued,” Khamenei told a group of university students, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV.
“America is the quintessential arrogant power,’’ he said. “Be ready for struggle with the arrogant power.”
Was it mistranslated, and what did he say that was wrong?
Still, Iranian officials on Sunday were reportedly preparing for celebrations once a deal is announced.
Related: Iran Deal Would Prove American Independence
You can thank this guy:
"For Kerry, Iran accord holds wider Mideast importance" by Matt Viser Globe Staff July 11, 2015
VIENNA — “I think that there’s an opportunity here to galvanize people, hopefully, into a common-sense approach,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a recent interview with the Globe. “Who knows whether or not the Iranian agreement, if it were achievable, could open some doors into that?”
Some may want to keep them closed.
Kerry’s words are further evidence of the habitually optimistic outlook that helps drive his determination to negotiate throughout this weekend with the Iranians, a single historic deal seen as the linchpin for possible future diplomatic breakthroughs across the Middle East, particularly in combating the Islamic State group.
Why would the U.S. want to combat something it helped create?
It has been, in other words, a show of vintage Kerry: a belief, sometimes against evidence, that more hard work and more negotiation can bridge profound divides between mortal enemies.
Are we really mortal enemies? Do we have to be? I'm sorry about the Shah and Operation Ajax. Sorry about my government's covert terror against you all these years. Sorry about the Jewish War Pre$$.
Kerry has now spent more consecutive days negotiating abroad on one issue than any of his predecessors since Henry Kissinger spent 28 days seeking Middle East peace in 1974, according to State Department historians.
He's reached the top of the war criminal heap, yaaay!
On Saturday, negotiators continued meeting but with no sign of an imminent breakthrough, with Kerry writing on Twitter the two sides “still have difficult issues to resolve.”
What is with all the jerking around?
The possibility that an Iran deal could spawn further progress in the region excites Kerry. Creating stronger resolve in regional powers to fight the Islamic State would be at the top of the list of possible benefits, he said, and the countries meeting here could work to do more.
“That’s what I want to put to the test,’’ he said.
Why, oh why, did the U.S. have to create ISIS™?
If he successfully engineers a pact with the Iranians, it would represent just the sort of sweeping, legacy-building accomplishment that has eluded Kerry throughout most of his career, while giving the Obama administration a victory on a world stage.
Kerry has been stymied in multiple trouble spots, especially in Ukraine, Syria, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
In personal terms, Kerry is seeking an accomplishment that is bigger than winning his former US Senate seat, rising to his Cabinet-level job, or his belief in US leadership to make the world a better place — he wants the kind of exclamation point on a career that might make up for his stinging defeat in the 2004 presidential race.
I think I'm going to gag.
Aides and former negotiating partners describe him as an eternal optimist, playing the role of cheerleader during negotiating setbacks and constantly reminding them to be hopeful. Kerry has an enormous faith in his own ability to negotiate and cut big deals, using his personality, charm, and patience.
“In his inner self, I think he has a neon [sign] next to his mind saying, ‘Failure is not an option. Failure is not an option. Failure is not an option,’ ” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who spent countless hours with Kerry trying to achieve peace with the Israelis, said in an interview.
“He will do everything humanly possible to reach this agreement,” Erekat said.
And it still may not be enough.
But he has had a frustrating series of negotiating partners — from the Israelis and Palestinians to the Iranians and the Russians, a difficult cast on which to pin hopes for a legacy-cementing achievement.
And Kerry, who maintains his habit of hard work even as he hobbles around on crutches, has sometimes had to recognize that no amount of trying on his part can solve problems if his negotiating partners won’t go along.
An Iran nuclear agreement’s power to serve as a springboard for solving other regional problems would depend on the strength of the deal, and whether it is seen as providing a lasting promise of nuclear security, say specialists.
“It’s unfortunate. He comes so close, and then certain things in the world happen,” said Shahid Ahmed Khan, who served as finance cochairman of Kerry’s presidential bid and later traveled with him to India and Pakistan.
“But most likely, this deal will happen,” he added. “If this comes through, Kerry should be nominated for a Nobel.’’
Too bad the prize is worthless now after they gave it to Obummer.
But what Kerry supporters see as his strength — his endless energy and enduring optimism — his critics see as a problem, particularly given the negotiations with a regime that has been an avowed enemy of the United States.
“I’ll always give John credit for tenacity and trying,” Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who worked with Kerry on several issues, said in an interview. “But a lot of people feel sometimes that he gets too eager, that he can’t walk away. . . . John’s fatal flaw, I believe, is he wants things too badly.”
That would be Lindsey "Total War" Graham.
Graham, who is running for his party’s presidential nomination, credited Kerry for an interim deal — which put a freeze on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for modest sanctions — that has worked better than he expected. But he said the final deal, which could allow Iran to resume the pursuit of nuclear weapons after 10 or 15 years, would cause further disruption across the region.
“We went from dismantling their program to ensuring they are a nuclear nation,” he said. “We are about to launch a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”
Israel was the first!
Beyond that, they aren't dismantling anything. There was no weapons program. By law, the western allies should be helping Iran build the power plants. So the whole premise of his argument is flawed.
If the Iranian deal falls apart, there are few other major foreign policy challenges on the horizon that Kerry could turn to with much hope of success. He and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz have been working on some climate-change issues, but there are fewer big things — and less time to address them — left for him to tackle.
“Sometimes things have to align in history, at a moment in history, to be able to do something,” a senior US official said last week. “We are probably closer than we’ve ever been because there is more of an alignment of that moment in history. But whether it clicks into that final cube, we don’t yet know.”
OMG, it's forces outside ourselves deciding our destinies! What CRAP!
In the interview with the Globe in Boston last month, as he recuperated from a broken leg and prepared to return to the Iran talks, Kerry said he had begun sketching out new approaches on addressing the conflict in Syria and the Islamic State.
He's still saying Assad must go.
He said that while the negotiations with Iran have been tightly focused on curbing its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, “we’ve had some conversations about the region, obviously.”
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has also talked recently about the potential for continued cooperation, particularly on fighting the Islamic State.
“Entire countries are being torn to sheds by roving bands of hooded men with no regard for the sanctity of human life,” Zarif wrote on Thursday in the Financial Times, a London-based newspaper. “To deal with this alarming challenge, new approaches are an imperative.”
Some outside observers question Kerry’s premise, that a deal with Iran would change the complexion of the Middle East. But they say that whether he succeeds or fails, Kerry should quickly turn his attention to combating the threat posed by the Islamic State, which also is known as ISIL.
“If Kerry solves this one, he better get more serious about ISIL because we are flailing on that one, especially in Syria, where his hope for a diplomatic solution in dealing with [President Bashar al] Assad has in fact been part of the problem,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a foreign affairs specialist at the Brookings Institution.
“In fairness, an Iran nuclear deal would be a major accomplishment,” he added. “I see the contours of the deal as mediocre . . . but still much better than the alternatives. And I admire his doggedness and commitment.”
Especially after they broke his leg.
Yeah, heil(??), John.
Not one mention of Yemen, notice that?
Related: Airstrikes weaken Yemen rebels during ‘truce’
And the ground war has begun.
And they have a deal in Europe:
"Eurozone leaders work past deadline on Greek bailout" by Andrew Higgins and James Kanter New York Times July 13, 2015
BRUSSELS — European leaders demanded that Greece make new concessions and quickly adopt a raft of economic policy changes as they worked into Monday morning to overcome deep divisions and avert a historic fracture in the continent’s common currency.
Split among themselves on how hard to push the Athens government, the leaders negotiated past what had been an informal self-imposed deadline of midnight in an effort to devise a formula that could permit new bailout aid to keep Greece afloat while providing additional assurances that the country would do its part to get its finances in order.
The mood grew increasingly tense as it became clear the leaders were weighing steps that Greece’s left-wing government, while desperate for a deal to pave the way for new funding, would probably find difficult to sell at home.
Or anywhere else. The blog roll to the right is afire with stuff.
They included Greece temporarily exiting the eurozone and placing the proceeds from privatizations of Greek assets worth up to 50 billion euros in a fund in Luxembourg to help pay down Greece’s huge debt.
Similar options were first put forward in a policy paper prepared by the German finance ministry, and they have since stirred an angry response from some Greek officials. Among some supporters of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza party, the European demands were portrayed as humiliating and a further effort to force him from office.
Tsipras should step down anyway. He betrayed the people.
Going into the meeting, some of the European leaders said the priority was to hold Europe together, and others suggested they had so little trust in Greece to live up to its commitments that a deal would be difficult if not impossible. Failure to find some compromise could leave Greece unable to pay its bills or reopen its banks, forcing it to become the first country to leave the euro.
Such an outcome would throw into reverse a quest for ever-closer European unity stretching back more than half a century.
On the one hand I'm told it will be no big deal, economy will absorb and go on. Then I'm told the sky is falling and it's the end of the world.
With Greece’s banks all but broke, the European Central Bank was looking early Monday for any sign of progress in the talks that would allow it to loosen up its credit line to the Greek banking system and avert a collapse that could otherwise come within hours or days.
The options being debated by the leaders amounted to demands that Greece move quickly and forcefully to reestablish trust and credibility with its creditors after years of failure to follow through on promised changes and months of bitter wrangling over the country’s need for more money to keep it afloat.
The Greek people got so $crewed in all this.
But they also included the possibility of what a draft assessment of options by the eurozone finance ministers called “a timeout from the euro area,” accompanied by discussions about reducing Greece’s crippling debt load.
An assessment of Greece’s situation prepared over the weekend by the finance ministers put Greece’s financing needs at between 82 billion and 86 billion euros over the next three years. That sum is significantly larger than the 74 billion euros previously reported and is around 30 billion euros more than the 53.5 billion euros Greece requested Thursday for what would be its third bailout package since 2010.
Greece has more than 300 billion euros in debt.
In a sign of the rapid pace of events, a full summit meeting of the European Union’s 28 heads of state planned for Sunday was abruptly canceled. But the separate meeting of eurozone leaders went ahead, enveloped by dark warnings from the French president and others that failing to help Greece would mean a perilous retreat from the principles that have guided Europe since the end of World War II.
Now it is perilous! Banks want their money!
Arriving in Brussels for what was billed as a last-chance summit on Greece after months of ill-tempered and increasingly divisive debate, President François Hollande of France warned that failure to find an agreement to keep Greece in the euro would “mean a Europe that is in retreat, a Europe that no longer moves forward.” France, he added, “will do everything to find an agreement this evening.”
Hollande told reporters, “At stake is whether Greece will tomorrow be in the eurozone, and also at stake is Europe.”
Hollande’s pleas for European unity — joined by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy — contrasted with a far more skeptical and hardheaded position on Greece staked out by Germany. This exposed a rift between Paris and Berlin — a tandem that has traditionally powered European decision-making — over how to deal with a Greek crisis that Donald Tusk, president of the European council, has described as “the most critical moment in our history.”
That is really saying something!
Sunday’s summit in Brussels followed a swirl of dramatic events that began last Sunday when Greek voters rejected further austerity measures in a referendum and then careened in the opposite direction Thursday when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the radical left-wing party Syriza, submitted a plan to creditors that embraced tougher measures than those rejected by voters and his own party.
Some radical left wing!
And after he encouraged them all to vote no. What a bastard.
The week’s whiplash-inducing turns have turned the once taboo issue of “Grexit,” as Greece’s exit from the euro — or potentially even the EU — is widely known in Europe, into a serious possibility that has spooked ordinary Greeks and many others beyond its borders, including senior officials in the United States.
I just can't take any more disingenuousness from the propaganda pre$$.
With banks in Greece closed since June 29, and cash machines running out of money, possibly as early as Monday, the outcome of the Sunday showdown between leaders will weigh heavily on a decision in coming days by the European Central Bank on whether to increase or perhaps cut off emergency funding for Greek banks. Without an infusion of cash from the Frankfurt-based ECB, Greece’s banking sector will crumble and send the country crashing out of the euro.
That's how they extorted Tsipras.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, arriving for the summit meeting, acknowledged the economic plight of Greece was “extremely difficult” but said “there will not be an agreement at any price.” She added, “The most important currency has been lost — and that is trust.”
Yeah, it's why I no longer believe any version of anything as told by my propaganda pre$$. Too many lies for far too long.
Noting that “nerves are stretched tight,” the German leader demanded a coolheaded review of the options to ensure that “the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and that goes for the future of Greece as well as for the eurozone as [a] whole, and for the principles of our cooperation.”
Germany’s stand, which is shared by a number of other countries, has stirred alarm that Merkel has put domestic political calculations ahead of Germany’s postwar commitment to the European project.
Uh-huh. How Hitlerian of her.
A draft assessment prepared by eurozone finance ministers after yet another round of emergency weekend meetings in Brussels called on Greece to legislate separate sets of measures by July 15 that must include “the streamlining of the VAT system and the broadening of the tax base to increase revenue” as well as “upfront measures to improve long-term sustainability of the pension system as part of a comprehensive pension reform” program.
The bankers want your savings and more.
Greece would also need to legislate to ensure the independence of its state statistical agency, overhaul its civil justice system, and adopt European rules to ensure the orderly closure of failing banks. And it would have to accept “continued full involvement” of the International Monetary Fund in overseeing any bailout, despite considerable animosity in Greece to the fund.
How are the Greek people feeling about that?
Protesters stood behind a banner during an anti-EU demonstration in Athens Sunday calling for a ‘no’ to any agreement with creditors that would lead to further austerity measures (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images).
In Athens Sunday, a protester’s sign called for no further austerity (ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images).
That's two no votes at least, and that's all the coverage the people get in my banker's pre$$.
Related: The World Economy
Speaking of it:
"A strengthening US economy may prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates as soon as September, said Byron Wien, vice chairman of the advisory services unit at Blackstone Group LP. “I think the economy is going to do much better in the second half, and I think the Fed is dying to go,” Wien said Sunday on the television program “Wall Street Week.” Fed Chair Janet Yellen, in a speech Friday in Cleveland, maintained her call for an interest-rate increase this year. The probability of a rate increase in December moved up to 67 percent from 54 percent on July 8, according to futures data compiled by Bloomberg. For September, the odds increased to 33 percent from 21 percent. In January, Wien said the Fed would act before the mid- point of the year. “Obviously, I was wrong about that,” he acknowledged Sunday....
Yeah, you guys are always wrong, which becomes something else in itself.
"Across Asia, investments in technology startups have quietly escalated at the same swift pace and to the same heights as in the United States. In the first six months of this year, 46 Asian startups have had fund-raising rounds of $100 million or more, just short of the 48 in North America, according to the research firm CB Insights. The focus of investors in Asia — China and India in particular — reflects an increasingly decentralized reality in global technology investment. Asian banks, private equity firms, venture capital funds, and hardware and Internet giants are all willing to invest in domestic startups. And US investors are increasingly willing to back Asian players with advantages in their home markets. The turmoil in China’s stock market in recent weeks, though, raises new questions about whether the pace of investments will continue. The sharp rise of stocks in China over the previous year helped support many of the big fund-raising rounds. Kai-Fu Lee, chief executive of the startup incubator Innovation Works and a former vice president at Google, predicted that the downturn would not halt the big investments, even if there are some hiccups. He said even if valuations decreased a bit, any downturn would be cushioned by the large number of investors coming from America, and because many of China’s biggest tech stocks, like Alibaba, are listed on US exchanges."
Then what is with all the war talk?
UPDATES: Iran nuclear talks inch forward without a deal
"Even The Players Are Losing Faith In Their Own Shenanigans
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, the old saw goes. This one, alas, is a mélange of several old shit sandwiches bound in a liaison of subterfuge and seasoned with political absurdities. Having been fooled in this bistro before, citizen-patrons leave the table resigned to yet another bout of food poisoning as the music of universal upchuck rings across the European Union from Helsinki to Lisbon
What is on display more brightly and clearly than ever, though, is the utter fakery of international banking. The players have lost faith in their own shenanigans. They simply go through the motions now awaiting the political fallout, which is to say the revolt of the people who can still do arithmetic. So, now Greece can supposedly expect another $90bn-equivalent in new loans on top of the $350bn-equivalent already racked up. That’s rich. The loan repayment schedule must look like a map of Middle Earth.
Most perplexing — especially for those on summer hiatus in which time seems to be suspended — is the fact that the rescue package will take weeks, perhaps months, to gin up while Greece is right now so utterly paralyzed in bankruptcy that no goods can move, no bills can be paid, and the economy cannot deliver the necessities of daily life. The old refrain, “your check is in the mail” may not be so reassuring to folks who haven’t eaten for three days. Personally, I would expect the gasoline bombs to be flying around Syntagma Square before the middle of the week.
Has anyone noticed the eerie paucity of news emanating from the other hard-luck nations of the EU, namely Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland? The money hole that these deadbeats are in makes Greece look like a dimple in the sand. What, I wonder, is the message to them from the Greek negotiation melodrama? (Lend more money to real estate developers to build more houses and condos that will never be sold? That’ll work!) No, the entire EU debt fiasco harks back to the original meaning of “ring around the rosie” — a theme song of the Black Death. The eventual implosion of the European Union, and the banking system hugging its face vampire squid style, will be the financial equivalent of the Black Death. Kingdoms will fall and social systems will be turned upside down.
The agonizing wait for that outcome is obviously fraying the nerves of all concerned to the degree that all their exertions seem like little more than tragic and pointless exercises in futility — for instance, the terms arrived at in last weekend’s negotiations. Nobody has a shred of faith that they can or will be carried out. In effect, what they’ve done is put together a Potemkin framework allowing them to go just give up for a month or so and go on vacation.
That would, of course, set things up for a mighty financial convulsion in the autumn — history’s favorite season for ruin — when all the ministers and their factotums venture back to the dismal realities they left fermenting at the office. Of all the many things apt to happen, we can count at least on the current Greek government falling and a failure of Greece to make any gesture of repayment in their just-negotiated loan schedule. That would leave the “Troika” (the EU, the ECB, and the IMF) with zero credibility and initiate the epochal widespread repudiation of the entire EU loan structure — in short, the collapse of Europe.
That wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world, but it would be the end of nearly seventy-year period of peace, prosperity, and stability. The sorting-out would be epic. The standard of living across Europe would sink to the level of the 1830s. The fundamentals of banking and currency would have to be rebuilt from ashes. More nations will break up into smaller units. Western intellectual life would suffer immense shock as all the certainties of the Enlightenment project seemed to go up in a vapor of insolvency and political upheaval. You have to even wonder whether Europe could defend itself against an onrushing Jihad.
But these are admittedly gloomy thoughts for a morning so early in summer. Myself, I’m going to shop for an outfit to wear to Diddy’s annual party in the Hamptons. Coonskin caps may be oddly coming back in style as people all over America try to emulate Donald Trump and the furry creature that lives on the top of his head. Something tells me that the ladies will not be buying many Hillary-style pantsuits. Wouldn’t it be cunning if Diddy’s caterer came up with something like miniature Greek Pudding bites? That would bring a real frisson to the doings, something to chat about besides the marketing genius of Kim Kardashian.