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.

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.

Islamic State (ISIS) 14 year old Slaughters At Least 50 Kurds In Homicide Martyr Attack

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More blood on Obama’s hands. Instead of backing “moderate” al Qaeda in the Middle East, we should stood with the religious minorites now being ethnically cleansed from the region. Kurds, Christians, Yezidis — all of them. They should be given their own state in Iraq and Syria.

We should back this state.

Instead you have 14 year old boys blowing themselves up for a global movement that is unchecked and growing everyday in leaps and bounds.

ISIS Boy Reportedly Kills At Least 50 Kurds In Suicide Attack
The Islamic State released an image of a boy who blew up himself near the Turkish-Syrian border

By Gilad Shiloach, Vocativ, on Jul 06, 2015 (thanks to Van);

The Islamic State in Syria claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that was allegedly carried out by a 14-year-old boy, who killed at least 50 Kurdish militiamen in the northern part of the country.

Official ISIS media channels released a picture of the boy, who they identified as Abu Khattab al-Ansari. In the picture, he was wearing a military vest and carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. Online, ISIS’ supporters said the boy was only 14 and that his real name was Omar Hadid al-Muhammadi.

According to an official ISIS statement, the suicide attack was part of a larger offensive against a PKK Kurdish militia located south of Ras al-Ayn, a village on the Syrian-Turkish border.

ISIS is proud of its child soldiers. The terror group has released videos and images of them before, showing teenagers at executions and military training camps for children across Iraq and Syria.

– See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2015/07/islamic-state-isis-14-year-old-slaughters-at-least-50-kurds-in-homicide-martyr-attack.html/#sthash.0Pw2CLkK.dpuf

Muslim cleric who inspired Tunisia beach killer lives in UK on £50,000 benefits

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“Asked how he could justify milking the welfare state for so much, al-Sibai – who is under investigation suspected of benefit fraud – said: ‘Ask David Cameron, don’t ask me.’” That’s absolutely right. The UK is funding and enabling its own destruction.

Hani al-Sibai2

“Living here on £50,000 benefits, the hate preacher who inspired Tunisian beach killer: Cleric lives in five-bedroom home with wife and five children after thwarting deportation attempts for 15 years,” by Paul Bentley, Daily Mail, July 6, 2015:

A leader of the terror group behind the Tunisian beach massacre is living off benefits in Britain, the Mail can reveal.

Jihadi preacher Hani al-Sibai – who described the 7/7 terror attacks in London in 2005 as a ‘great victory’ – is one of the ‘key influencers’ of the Islamic fanatics believed to have recruited and trained gunman Seifeddine Rezgui.

But he is living on £50,000 a year in handouts with his wife and five children in a £1 million house in West London, after using human rights laws to thwart attempts to deport him for more than 15 years.

Days after the atrocity in Tunisia, the Mail found al-Sibai, 54, strolling in the sunshine outside his home.

Asked how he could justify milking the welfare state for so much, al-Sibai – who is under investigation suspected of benefit fraud – said: ‘Ask David Cameron, don’t ask me.’

Last night, there were furious calls to deport al-Sibai, who has also been linked to Islamic State executioner Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, is writing to Home Secretary Theresa May to demand an explanation as to why al-Sibai is still in the country.

‘It is extraordinary that successive governments have been trying but failing to remove someone who has these worrying links,’ he said.

‘The way he has foiled attempts to remove him are a cause for enormous concern.’

Tory MP Peter Bone added: ‘This is the sort of thing that drives my constituents mad. I expect the Home Secretary to deal with this urgently. There is a very strong case for him to be deported. He needs to be dealt with.’

The Mail last week revealed the links between the beach massacre in Tunisia and Islamic extremism in Britain.

Tunisian terror group Ansar al-Sharia – which authorities believe to have recruited and trained Rezgui – was founded and is run by extremist Saifallah Ben Hassine, who became a disciple of hate preacher Abu Qatada in London in the late 1990s.

Ben Hassine, who is said to have plotted the beach massacre from his base in Libya, is also believed to have had a key role in the plotting of 9/11.

Al-Sibai is a close associate of the group. He is cited at length in a 2013 report by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague, and is described as one of Ansar al-Sharia’s ‘key influencers’.

He is also noted for his connection to Ben Hassine, also known as Abu Iyad. ‘Al-Sibai’s involvement in international jihadism runs long and deep,’ the report states. ‘Al-Sibai has maintained his loyalty to Abu Iyad over the years. When Ansar al-Sharia held its Kairouan conference in May 2012, al-Sibai was one of several foreign scholars to address the audience by video.’

Al-Sibai and his family live in a three-storey, four-bedroom home in Ravenscourt Park. The rent for the housing association home is covered by the taxpayer. He parks his Toyota Corolla Verso – which cost £16,995 – in a dedicated disabled spot outside his house.

Al-Sibai and his wife are estimated to be on benefits of more than £48,000 a year – almost double the cap of £26,000. They are able to defy the limit because both are entitled to disability living allowance. Al-Sibai has also used public money to fund a series of legal cases against the Government to stop him being deported and to have his name removed from terrorist sanction lists.

Al-Sibai, who has written about ‘celebrating the anniversary of the martyrdom of Sheikh Osama bin Laden’, was last night under investigation on suspicion of benefit fraud.

The Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘People who commit, plan and support acts of terror will be prosecuted and anyone who has been deported or sent to prison will lose their benefits.’

The Home Office said: ‘We do not routinely comment on individual cases.’

– See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2015/07/muslim-cleric-who-inspired-tunisia-beach-killer-lives-in-uk-on-50000-benefits.html/#sthash.RSWswhyh.dpuf

Greece ‘48 Hours Away From Unrest’

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Hedge fund managers turned cautious on global equities in the run-up to Sunday’s vote

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras probably has 48 hours to resolve a standoff with creditors before civil unrest breaks out and ATMs run out of cash, hedge fund Balyasny Asset Management said.

Fund managers are questioning how the International Monetary Fund and Europe’s leaders can seal a deal with Athens following the “no” vote in a Greek referendum on Sunday. Sixty-one percent of voters rejected austerity, increasing the likelihood of an exit from the euro area.

“I don’t see a good resolution any time soon,” Colin Lancaster, senior managing director with Balyasny, a $9 billion fund based in Chicago, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The big question is whether the EU adopts a strategy of waiting them out. The hope would be that the unrest leads to a unity government or change in government.”

Balyasny ended its direct exposure to Greece three weeks ago, Lancaster said.

Hedge fund managers turned cautious on global equities in the run-up to Sunday’s vote, with sales of stocks sending a gauge of manager bullishness sliding. The Evercore ISI index of hedge fund long versus short bets was at 50.5 in the week ending July 1, down from 51.8 at the start of June, data from the New York-based research firm show.

The survey, based on 31 hedge funds with about $86 billion under management, tracks investments on a zero through 100 scale. Readings of zero show “maximum” short selling, or the sale of borrowed equities with the hope of profiting by buying them at lower prices later; 100 means “maximum” bullish bets. The index has dipped below 50 only twice in the past year.
Plan B

There’s little chance of Greece accepting a deal unless the country’s debt is restructured, Philippe Ferreira, global strategist at Lyxor Asset Management, a Paris-based unit of Societe Generale SA with investments in about 100 hedge funds, said in an e-mail. Investors should be cautious as European Union leaders may not have an adequate plan B if negotiations fail, he said.

Greece has been targeted by some hedge funds seeking returns in a market viewed as too risky for many traditional investors. John Paulson of Paulson & Co. bought bank stocks, while Perry Capital, Knighthead Capital Management and Monarch Alternative Capital purchased Greek debt. Randy Smith, who runs Alden Global Capital, started a Greek-focused fund in December.

Bruce Richards, co-founder of U.S. hedge fund Marathon Asset Management, said last week Tsipras will be gone within 30 days regardless of the outcome of the nation’s referendum.

A “no” vote would cause “rioting in the streets come weeks from now when the banks are closing and you have drachma,” he said in an interview on the television program “Wall Street Week.”

Europe’s leaders run the danger of setting a precedent for other governments if they agree to a writedown for Greece, said Savvas Savouri, chief economist at Toscafund Asset Management, a $3 billion London-based hedge fund.

“Other debt-burdened countries will campaign for the same treatment,” he said. “That is especially relevant with a Spanish election in December.”