This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.
- Hillary Clinton calls Russia and China ‘despicable’ over Syria veto
- Saudis walk out of Syria conference, demanding military response
- Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez flies to Cuba for urgent surgery
- Greece launches ‘voluntary’ bond swap deal for private investors
- Greek politicians transfer €2 billion euros out of Greece
- Nuremberg’s Bratwurst prices triple, thanks to Iran
Hillary Clinton calls Russia and China ‘despicable’ over Syria veto
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton blasted Russia and China at a Friday press conference for blocking any attempt in the U.N. Security Council to criticize the violence by Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad against his own people:
“It’s quite distressing to see two permanent members of the Security Council using their veto while people are being murdered — women, children, brave young men — houses are being destroyed. It is just despicable and I ask whose side are they on? They are clearly not on the side of the Syrian people.”
Russia and China have expressed the concern that any Security Council criticism of the violence in Syria would lead to military action by the Arabs, Turkey and the West, and that any such military action could trigger a wider war in the region. CBS News
Saudis walk out of Syria conference, demanding military response
Dozens of nations attended the “Friends of Syria” conference in Tunisia on Friday, convened to discuss what to do about the escalating bloody, murderous violence by the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad against his own people. Noticeably absent were Assad’s allies, Russia and China. However, the “all talk, no action” nature of the conference caused the delegation from Saudi Arabia, led by Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, to walk out of the conference, saying that Assad had lost the authority to govern.
“There is no other means but transferring power either voluntarily or by force. Is it justice to offer aid and leave the Syrians to the killing machine? My country will not take part in an action that will not lead to the quick protection of the Syrians.”
When asked about providing arms to the Syrian opposition, he said, “I think it’s an excellent idea.” Several delegates called for Arab League military intervention. Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said:
“We want this meeting to be a start to stopping the violence in Syria and this cannot be done except after the formation of an international Arab force to maintain security, the opening of secure humanitarian corridors to bring aid to the Syrian people and the application of Arab League decisions.”
Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez flies to Cuba for urgent surgery
Clasping the hand of his youngest daughter, Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez bid an emotional farewell to his political allies and troops standing at attention at the Miraflores presidential palace:
“I say this from my gut: With cancer or without cancer … come rain, thunder or lightning … nobody can avoid a great patriotic victory Oct. 7 [the date of the presidential election].
Long live Chávez!
Our (founding) father Simon Bolivar once said, ‘I am a man of troubles.’ I say as a son of Bolivar, I too am a man of troubles. We are a people of troubles. Let the troubles come and add like the cross of Christ to the definitive liberation of the country. With the cross of Christ, one must sometimes bear pain as a spur to love. It is fuel for love.”
He departed Venezuela on Friday for Cuba for urgent surgery to remove a tumor he says is probably malignant. AP
Greece launches ‘voluntary’ bond swap deal for private investors
Greek PM Lucas Papademos on Friday (Kathimerini)
Greece’s parliament has approved the “collective action clause” (CAC), which retroactively changes the terms of Greek bonds issued in the past. On Friday, Greece announced the launch of the program to track down private investors in Greek bonds and convince them to “voluntarily” lose about 75% of their investment by exchanging their bonds for shiny new bonds worth 75% less. Since most of the private investors are national banks, including Greek banks, it’s expected that there will be a great deal of “voluntary” participation in the exchange. For those who don’t want to participate, the CAC will force them to participate. Greek officials have been saying that they expect 90% participation in the voluntary program, and I have no idea whether that’s just bullshit or they really believe it. We should know soon, because the bond exchange program must be completed by March 12.Financial Times (Access) and Kathimerini
Greek politicians transfer €2 billion euros out of Greece
Outrage is growing over the news that Greece’s MPs (members of Parliament) have transferred €2 billion euros abroad during the last two years, since Greece’s financial crisis began. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told Parliament that he’s acquired information relating to bank transfers for the last year. “The list includes politicians, and relatives of politicians, with transfers in excess of 100,000 euros.” Venizelos noted however that the list of names would not be made public as the individuals will be summoned to provide explanations. “Some of the cases might involve health problems or relatives making legal and normal commercial exchanges.” Kathimerini
Nuremberg’s Bratwurst prices triple, thanks to Iran
Nuremberg Bratwurst (Spiegel)
Possibly the best bratwurst in the world is Nuremberg bratwurst, made from sheep’s intestines, stuffed with minced pork meat, spiced with marjoram. Yum. Over the centuries those sheep’s intestines have come from Iran to local butchers. “There are other countries of origin,” including Turkey and New Zealand, according to a master butcher. “But traditionally the best sheep’s intestines come from Iran.” But Iran’s sheep intestine costs have skyrocketed, tripling the cost of producing the bratwurst. The price increases are blamed on instability in Iran, fewer sheep being slaughtered in the country, and more competition from places like China, which is stepping up its sausage production. Spiegel