Sugar, flour, rice: panicked Greeks stock up on essentials

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Athens (AFP) – Greeks were hoarding cash and food Saturday amid mounting fears the economy could collapse, cracking open their wallets only to stock up on essentials and stripping supermarket shelves in the process.

Mothers, elderly men and university students were spotted pushing heavily overloaded trolleys or coming out of shops weighed down by bags of food, with essentials such as sugar, flour and pasta top of the list.

In the well-off area of Glyfada in Athens residents appeared to have panicked, thrusting everything from vast rolls of toilet paper to multiple packs of lentils into their carts.

“Most people are buying food now because they fear the worst,” said Andreas Koutras, a 51-year old who works in finance, referring to a referendum Sunday on Greece’s bailout which could seal its financial fate.

AFP photographs showed rows upon rows of empty shelves in supermarkets and shoppers said they were taking no chances, snapping up canned milk, chocolate and rice — anything non-perishable that could be stored.

Middle-aged toy shop assistant Marilena, who was praying for customers on what is usually the busiest shopping day of the week, said her family was buying “food, only food, nothing else. Only what’s necessary”.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged people to vote ‘No’, insisting that rejecting a bailout deal offered by the austerity-hit country’s international creditors will put it in a stronger negotiating position.

His right-hand man, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, has promised banks will re-open after the vote — but with so much uncertainty surrounding Greece’s future, many doubt him.

Nikos Archondis from the Panhellenic Exporters Association (PEA) told AFP “certain supermarkets are very concerned because they cannot forecast how the situation will evolve”.

Stocks of meat, cheeses, fruits and vegetables “risk running low in the following weeks”, he said.

– Run on medicines –

Reports that medicines were also flying off the shelves were supported by pharmacist Yannis Triantaphilou.

Priorities were “food and medicines” and he had seen “an increase of customers in the pharmacy”.

Although the boost in business was welcome, Triantaphilou said if the banks did not re-open on Tuesday, “I don’t know how we are going to work, if companies will provide medicines”.

With anti-bailout ‘No’ voters tied neck and neck with the ‘Yes’ camp, fears a financial disaster may be brewing were compounded by frustration over the decision taken by many shops to refuse card payments.

With government-imposed capital controls capping ATM withdrawals at 60 euros ($67) per day, the number of banknotes in circulation has dropped dramatically, especially the smaller denominations.

Customers want to save their cash, but businesses are also desperate to get their hands on it.

Fortunately, “we have learned to live with less money,” says Marilena, “because the last four to five years were very difficult for most of people.”

“But we have needs, we adjust of course… but we cannot go any further,” she said.

Like many Greeks, taxi driver Theodor Veletzas said he believed there was more at stake than a new deal, and the situation risked getting worse.

The referendum, he insisted, would effectively decide whether his country stayed in the eurozone or not. And he feared what would happen if the ‘No’ camp won.

“There are no banknotes in circulation. Shops are closed and people have no notes with which to buy food. I hope people will vote on Sunday to stay in Europe. We don’t want another adventure”, he said.

STATS: Mainstream Media Devotes FIVE TIMES More Time To Confederate Flag Flap Than To ISIS Threat

What’s more important, The Dukes Of Hazzard or US Citizens joining ISIS?

BY STEVE WATSON

Analysis by the Media Research Center shows that the three big US news networks devoted at least twice as much air time during their main evening shows to outrage over the Confederate Flag than they did to the news that several American citizens have recently been recruited by the Islamic State terror group.

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The stats for June show that ABC was the biggest offender, devoting FOUR TIMES more air time to some Americans taking offense to the Confederate flag, in the wake of the Charleston shooting.

In total, in the month of June, the evening news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC covered the ISIS threat for only 17 minutes, 35 seconds, while a whopping 37 minutes and 18 seconds was scheduled for the ‘racist’ flag issue.

The Media Research Center also notes that because the Confederate flag debate didn’t begin until June 19, yet ISIS recruitment has been ongoing for the whole month, the flag ‘debate’ actually received FIVE TIMES more coverage (186 seconds per day vs 35 seconds per day).

The flag issue was dragged on and on and hyped by the networks, as companies like Walmart, Amazon, Apple, EBay and Google all vowed to pull products with any links to Confederate flags, because they were deemed to be threatening and offensive.

Meanwhile, throughout June, there were at least six reported cases of American citizens joining ISIS, and several intelligence agency alerts and warnings regarding the growing influence of ISIS inside America.

It is believed that the FBI have made at least 30 arrests on US soil this year of ISIS linked or influenced individuals.

Despite the elevated threat, The Obama administration last week blocked attempts by its Middle East allies to assist Kurds fighting Islamic State jihadists in Iraq.

High level officials from Gulf and other states have charged that Obama will not listen to pleas to arm Kurds, which is ironic given that so called “moderate rebels” were openly armed in Libya and Syria, leading directly to the rise of ISIS and it’s stockpiles of weaponry.

But wait… what about how frightening and offensive THIS is:

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EU Security Head: “Political Islam” is the Future of Europe

Sharia law for the west?

by Paul Joseph Watson | July 6, 2015

As the threat from ISIS extremists grows, the European Union’s head of foreign affairs and security policy Federica Mogherini has caused consternation by asserting that “political Islam” is a firm part of Europe’s future.

Responding to last month’s brutal Islamist terror attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France, Mogherini dismissed the idea of a clash of civilizations and shot back at critics of mass immigration.

“Islam belongs in Europe. It holds a place in Europe’s history, in our culture, in our food and – what matters most – in Europe’s present and future,” wrote Mogherini, before adding, “I am not afraid to say that political Islam should be part of the picture. Religion plays a role in politics – not always for good, not always for bad. Religion can be part of the process. What makes the difference is whether the process is democratic or not.”

In promoting “political Islam” as part of the future of Europe, Mogherini is violating the very notion that western democracy is supposed to be based on the fundamental principle of separation of church and state (or mosque and state in this case).

Since the zenith of “political Islam” is Sharia law, the legal system derived from the teachings of Islam, she is also promoting the imposition of a system that represents one of the most repressive forces on the planet, subjugating women and allowing for extra-judicial murder such as stoning and beheading, both of which are practiced in Saudi Arabia, a country which exemplifies “political Islam”.

“She was not referring to the Muslims who divide Europe into “us” and “them” by saying, “We will conquer your Rome,” writes Robert Spencer. “She was referring to those who say that such people should be resisted. For even though she says, “Da’esh is Islam’s worst enemy in today’s world,” she has no plan to distinguish its many, many thousands of adherents among Muslims in Europe from those who reject it. And so she and her ilk are heading Europe toward a future of chaos and bloodshed.”

Mogherini’s comments will do little to dispel concerns that world leaders are hesitant to fully acknowledge the threat posed by ISIS, and the fact the group’s campaign of terror is very much Islamic, for fear of appearing politically incorrect.

Indeed, the current debate about how to stop ISIS is not centered around combating the ideology (lifted straight from the Koran) that motivates ISIS’ thousands of fighters and its millions of supporters, but an obsession with not calling the group “Islamic”.

Last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that ISIS instead be referred to as “Da’esh” because “Islamic State” was offensive to Muslims.

Greece crisis: Varoufakis’ deputy appointed as finance minister

Euclid Tsakalotos has been appointed as the new Greek finance minister following the resignation of Yanis Varoufakis, Greek presidency official said. Greek media reported he will be sworn in at an official ceremony at 20:00 local time (17:00 GMT).

Tsakalotos “will be sworn in with the political oath as finance minister,” the presidency official told Reuters.

READ MORE: Varoufakis resigns as Greek finance minister ‘to aid deal’

Tsakalotos was previously the deputy foreign minister responsible for international economic relations.

Speaking at a joint press conference at the Ministry of Finance in Athens on Monday, the former minister and the newly appointed one both praised each other’s work.

While Yanis Varoufakis said there was “something common” between the two, particularly mentioning “a repulsion towards a lack of arguments,” Tsakalotos spoke highly of his colleague’s achievements while occupying the post.

The Greek people “wanted to trust a government that will offer a sustainable solution. We wouldn’t have reached this point without Yanis Varoufakis. I cannot imagine that any other minister of finance would have achieved for the entire Europe to be talking about a sustainable solution, for the entire planet to be discussing that something is going on in this country,” Tsakalotos told reporters, as cited by Ruptly.

READ MORE: Greece replaces Finance Minister Varoufakis as lead in debt talks

It’s not the first time Tsakalotos has taken over from Varoufakis. He was appointed to negotiate with creditors at the end of April when the Syriza government replaced Varoufakis. On the sidelines of the talks the former finance minister was often referred to as ‘impossible’ do deal with.

Like many others in the leftist ruling party, he is more a professor than a politician. Tsakalotos is a graduate of St. Pauls School, London, and then Oxford University, where he studied Economics, Politics and Philosophy, and the University of Sussex in the UK. Most recently he has been Professor at the National University of Athens.

In contrast to Varoufakis, who was an outsider, Tsakalotos has been a member of Syriza for almost a decade.

Greek referendum fallout LIVE UPDATES

His appointment is hardly out of the blue. When resigning on Monday, Varoufakis said he hoped Tsakalatos would take over.

“I am leaving and I will see you tomorrow with Mr. Tsakalotos,” Varoufakis said on leaving the finance ministry on Monday. When asked whether Tsakalotos would be the new finance minister, Varoufakis said: “I hope so.”

Greece and its troika of international creditors – the IMF, the ECB and the European Commission have been negotiating with the Syriza government over a bailout deal since the end of January when it came to power on promises to end the austerity cuts. They have so far failed to find compromise, as the Greek Government doesn’t want to accept further pension cuts and increase taxes as much as the creditors insist.

On Tuesday eurozone members will make another attempt to find a solution to the deadlock at an emergency summit where they’ll discuss the Greek referendum result. The EU President Donald Tusk and president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker are expected to talk at a European Parliament session in Strasbourg on July 7 at 13:00 GMT.

US to pay salaries of Governor Saakashvili’s team in Odessa, Ukraine

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The US government will pay the salaries to the staff of Georgia’s former President Mikhail Saakashvili, who is now serving as a new governor of Odessa Region, Ukraine, Saakashvili said, adding that California police will also train Odessa’s officers.

“Within the framework of Odessa’s anti-corruption pressure, the US government agreed to provide funds for the salaries of the new team of [Mikhail] Saakashvili,” Saakashvili wrote on his Facebook page after the meeting with Geoffrey Pyatt, the US Ambassador to Ukraine.

He added that American police officers from California “will train new Odessa police.”

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READ MORE: US promises Ukraine help to become gas exporter

Pyatt has repeatedly voiced his support for Saakashvili. Earlier in July he said that Washington “fully supports Mikheil Saakashvili and his team, and we will do everything so that they can succeed.”

READ MORE: US military instructors deployed to Ukraine to train local forces

US authorities have recently been sending other instructors to train local forces in Ukraine. In April, paratroopers of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, arrived in the western Ukrainian city of Lvov to provide training for Ukrainian government troops. Pyatt then posted on Twitter several pictures of the US paratroopers marching through the airport in the city.

READ MORE: Ex-Georgian president, wanted at home, becomes governor in Ukraine

Saakashvili became governor of Odessa Region back in May. He was personally appointed by President Petro Poroshenko.

He was also given Ukrainian citizenship under Poroshenko’s personal decree, published on his website, as the Ukrainian constitution says that only a citizen can become an official at governor level.

Saakashvili left Georgia in autumn 2013, days before his presidential term expired. He has been living abroad ever since.

In spring 2014, Georgia’s new ruling coalition accused Saakashvili of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state budget. Georgia’s prosecutors have started an investigation into the case. However, Saakashvili denies the charges against him, saying the funds went towards attracting foreign investors to the country.

Apart from embezzlement, Saakashvili has several other cases ongoing against him. He is accused of abuse of power during the crackdown on anti-government protests in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on November 7, 2007. He was also allegedly involved in the attack on the opposition TV station Imedi, which was seized by Georgian special forces on the same day, and the appropriation of the founder’s assets.

In February 2015, Tbilisi issued an extradition request for Saakashvili, but Kiev authorities rejected it.