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Poll: Dual Citizenship Not So Bad, But Most Wouldn’t Switch.


Image: Poll: Dual Citizenship Not So Bad, But Most Wouldn't Switch

By Elliot Jager

Most Americans — eighty-six percent — remain proud of their countryaccording to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll.

It’s not that Americans are unrealistic about the challenges the country faces. While seventy-four percent are proud of America’s history, according to the poll, almost half thought the Founding Fathers would be disappointed with the way the country has turned out.

Nearly half of those surveyed, in fact, believe Americans should be able to hold dual citizenship with another country.

Nevertheless, fifty-nine percent still believe in American exceptionalism — that there is something special about the United States.

The idea of trading their U.S. citizenship for that of another country is anathema to most, with only 9 percent saying that they have considered giving up on America. During the second quarter of 2013, just over 1,000 Americans expatriated mostly for tax reasons,according to Forbes.

Some countries, including Greece and Israel, require their citizens to give up any other citizenship if they become elected officials or serve in the diplomatic corps. Andreas Papandreou had to renounce his U.S. citizenship to become the Prime Minister of Greece.

Between 3 million and 6 million Americans are said to currently live abroad.

Nearly half of those surveyed believe Americans should be able to be citizens of more than one country. In fact, “U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another,” according to the State Department. Just 4 percent of the Rasmussen sampling said they currently citizens of another country.

As for illegal immigrants who go on to become citizens, 54 percent said they should not be allowed to maintain dual citizenship. Republicans and older people tend to hold stricter views about dual citizenship than Democrats and independents.

About a quarter of those surveyed believed it is too easy for a foreigner to become a U.S. citizen. And most oppose granting automatic citizenship to the child of an illegal mother who gives birth here.

When done within the law, though, 68 percent think immigration is good for America.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Congressmen File Brief to Supreme Court to Keep Daily Prayers.


One of the longstanding Congressional traditions is to open daily House and Senate business with a prayer, but a case on the Supreme Court’s October docket places that practice in jeopardy, argues Sen. Marco Rubio.

Rubio, a Florida Republican, said in a statement on Monday that the upcoming Supreme Court case of Town of Greece v. Galloway “brings about an historic moment in the effort to preserve the fundamental American principle of religious liberty.”

Editor’s Note Health Benefits of Prayer Revealed!

Rep. Randy Forbes, a Virginia Republican and co-chair of the Congressional Prayer caucus, and 84 House members also announced on Monday  that they had filed an amicus curiae brief regarding the Galloway case.

The intent of the brief was to “call attention to the importance of this case for Americans of all faiths and world views who value the uniqueness of America’s promise of religious freedom.”

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana was the lone Democrat to sign the amicus brief.

In Galloway, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the use of public prayer before town meetings in the town of Greece was a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the Galloway case that the manner in which the opening prayer was determined violated the Establishment Clause.

“Government should be inclusive,” said Susan Galloway, 51, one of two women in the Rochester, N.Y. suburb challenging the practice.

“There are people who don’t believe, and they’re part of this country, too. We all have a right to be part of it and not feel excluded.”

In its ruling, the Circuit Court stated that “the town’s prayer practice must be viewed as an endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint. This conclusion is supported by several considerations, including the prayer-giver selection process, the content of the prayers, and the contextual actions (and inactions) of prayer-givers and town officials.”

The ruling further stated: “We emphasize that, in reaching this conclusion, we do not rely on any single aspect of the town’s prayer practice, but rather on the totality of the circumstances present in this case. The town’s process for selecting prayer-givers virtually ensured a Christian viewpoint.”

Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News, who recently traveled to the town of Greece, says the case marks the first time the court has considered legislative prayer since upholding the practice 30 years ago.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Jennifer Hickey

The Rise of the Antichrist.


Scripture Reading and Insights

Begin by reading Revelation 13:1-4 in your favorite Bible. As you read, ask God to help you understand His Word (Psalms 119:73).

In the previous lesson, we focused on Satan’s ousting from heaven and his subsequent persecution of the Jews. In today’s reading, we witness the rise of the antichrist, who will come into great power during the tribulation period. With your Bible still accessible, consider the following insights on the biblical text, verse by verse.

Revelation 13:1

I saw a beast rising out of the sea (13:1): Revelation pictures the antichrist as a beast 32 times. The image points to the brutal, bloody, uncontrolled, and wild character of this diabolical dictator. It also contrasts the antichrist from Christ, who is most commonly called the Lamb. The Lamb saves sinners, but the beast persecutes and executes the saints. The Lamb is gentle, whereas the beast is ferocious. The Lamb is loving, but the beast is heartless and cruel.

This beast rises out of the sea. The sea refers to the Gentile nations (Revelation 17:15), indicating that the antichrist will be a Gentile. “Anti” can mean “instead of ” or “against” or “opposed to.” So “antichrist” can mean “instead of Christ,” “against Christ,” or “opposed to Christ.” The antichrist is the “man of lawlessness,” the “son of destruction,” who will lead the world into rebellion against God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-10Revelation 11:7) and deceive multitudes (Revelation 19:20).

With ten horns and seven heads (13:1): We have seen that because animals use horns as weapons (Genesis 22:13Psalms 69:31), horns eventually became symbols of power and then of dominion, representing kingdoms and kings. Comparing this text with Daniel 7:16-24, we conclude that the antichrist will rise up from ten kingdoms that will constitute a revived Roman Empire, the final form of Gentile world power before Christ returns.

Some Bible expositors say the seven heads are the principal rulers of the antichrist’s revived Roman Empire. Others suggest that the seven heads may be successive world empires—Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the antichrist’s revived Roman Empire. Still others say the seven heads represent seven mountains (Revelation 17:9). A mountain can symbolize a kingdom (see Daniel 2:34-45). This may be a veiled reference to Rome, which was built on seven hills (Revelation 17:18). All these views support the idea that antichrist’s kingdom will be a revived Roman Empire.

With ten diadems on its horns (13:1): The ten diadems, or crowns, point to the dominion of the antichrist’s kingdom, which will eventually embrace the entire globe.

And blasphemous names on its heads (13:1): These point to the antichrist’s character—he will have a mouth full of blasphemy (Revelation 13:5-6) and will exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Revelation 13:2

The beast was like a leopard (13:2): Much of the imagery in this verse is from Daniel 7. The leopard was known for swiftness, cunning, and agility (see Daniel 7:6). This imagery in Daniel represents Greece under Alexander the Great, which had a swift, cunning, and agile army. Such will be the case with the antichrist as he comes into world dominion.

Its feet were like a bear’s (13:2): The bear in Daniel’s account refers to Medo-Persia (Daniel 7:5), well known for its strength and fierceness in battle (Isaiah 13:17-18). Such strength and fierceness will certainly characterize the antichrist and his forces.

Its mouth was like a lion’s (13:2): The lion in Daniel’s account refers to Babylon (Daniel 7:4), with lion-like qualities of power and strength. Babylon was known for its ability to move quickly (like a lion). Such qualities will characterize the antichrist.

A comparison of Revelation 13:2 with Daniel 7 reveals that the final world empire of the antichrist—a revived Roman Empire—will be rooted in all the previous empires. It will unite in a single kingdom the evil and power that characterized all the previous kingdoms.

To it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority (13:2): The ultimate source of the antichrist’s power is Satan.

Revelation 13:3

Seemed to have a mortal wound (13:3): Some Bible expositors believe this mortal wound refers to the pagan Roman Empire, which died in the past but will be revived in the end times. Others say a historical character of the past, such as Nero, Judas Iscariot, Mussolini, Hitler, or Stalin, will come back to life and fulfill the role of the antichrist in the end times.

Others say the antichrist will actually be killed and then resurrected. Still others say that perhaps the antichrist will be severely wounded, and Satan will supernaturally heal this wound. Perhaps he will simply appear to be killed, though he really is not, and through satanic trickery will appear to be resurrected.

The revived Roman Empire view seems unfeasible because Revelation 13:12 specifically refers to “the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.” The “first beast” is the antichrist. Then, inRevelation 13:14, we find a parallel reference to “the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.” This verse is interpreted most naturally as referring to a person—not a reincarnation of a past person, but a unique anti-God person of the future.

It is unlikely that the antichrist will actually be resurrected, but he may give the appearance of having been resurrected. Satan has supernatural abilities (John 12:312 Corinthians 4:4;Ephesians 2:2), but he is not powerful enough to resurrect people from the dead. Only God can create life (Genesis 1:1Genesis 1:21Deuteronomy 32:39); the devil cannot (see Exodus 8:19).

The devil has great power to deceive people (Revelation 12:9). He is a master magician and a superscientist. With his vast knowledge of God, man, and the universe, he is able to perform counterfeit miracles (2 Thessalonians 2:9).

Some theologians believe Satan may be able to perform limited “grade-B” miracles. But only God can perform “grade-A” miracles. Only God can fully control and supersede the natural laws He Himself created.

Satan will likely engage in a grade-B miracle in healing the wounded (but not dead) antichrist, or engage in some kind of masterful deception, or perhaps a combination of both. In any event, the antichrist will appear to be resurrected from the dead. 2 Corinthians 4:4 informs us that Satan can blind peoples’ minds. If Satan pulls off come kind of counterfeit resurrection, he may blind people’s minds so that they accept this as an indication of the antichrist’s power and deity and subsequently worship him.

If the antichrist only appears to be dead but is not genuinely dead, a scenario suggested by Bible scholar Walter Price becomes viable

The apostle Paul was stoned in Lystra, and the citizens “dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead” (Acts 14:19). While in an unconscious state, Paul “was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4)… At the same time he was thought to be dead, his spirit was caught up into the third heaven and there received a profound revelation from God. This same thing, in reverse, will happen to the Antichrist. The Antichrist…will be no more dead than was the apostle Paul. But just as the citizens of Lystra thought Paul was dead, so the Antichrist will be thought dead.1

Just as Paul’s spirit departed from his body and was taken to heaven, where he received further revelations, so the antichrist’s spirit may depart from his body and be taken into the abyss, where Satan will offer the world’s kingdoms to him.

The antichrist’s spirit will then return from the abyss (Revelation 11:7), reenter what appears to be a dead body, and thereby give the appearance of a resurrection from the dead. Mark Hitchcock suggests that while his spirit is in the abyss, the “Antichrist probably receives his orders and strategy from Satan, literally selling his soul to the devil, and then comes back to earth with hellish ferocity to establish his world domination over a completely awestruck earth.”2

The whole earth marveled as they followed the beast (13:3): This event will no doubt make headlines around the world. Internet videos of the event will go viral. Television reports of the event will be shown around the clock.

Revelation 13:4

They worshiped the dragon (13:4): During Christ’s three-year ministry, Satan tried to persuade Him to fall down and worship him (Matthew 4:9). Before that, Lucifer (Satan’s original name) sought to put himself in the place of God (see Isaiah 14:12-17Ezekiel 28:11-19). Satan will finally have what he has yearned for—worship

They worshiped the beast…”Who is like the beast?” (13:4): This contrasts with believers, who say to God, “Who is like you, O Lord?” (Exodus 15:11).

Major Themes

1. The genius of the antichrist. Scripture reveals that the antichrist will be a genius in intellect (Daniel 8:23), commerce (Daniel 11:43Revelation 13:16-17), war (Revelation 6:2Revelation 13:2), speech (Daniel 11:36), and politics (Revelation 17:11-12).

2. The antichrist mimics Christ. Christ is God (John 1:1-2John 10:36), and the antichrist will claim to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Christ did miracles (Matthew 9:32-33Mark 6:2); the antichrist will mimic such miracles (Matthew 24:242 Thessalonians 2:9). Christ is crowned with many crowns (Revelation 19:12); the antichrist is crowned with ten crowns (Revelation 13:1). Christ rides a white horse (Revelation 19:11) as does the antichrist (Revelation 6:2). Christ was resurrected (Matthew 28:6); the antichrist will appear to be resurrected (Revelation 13:3-14). Christ is a member of the holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14), but the antichrist is a member of an unholy trinity—Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet (Revelation 13).

Digging Deeper with Cross-References

BlasphemyExodus 20:7Leviticus 19:12Leviticus 22:32Deuteronomy 5:11Matthew 12:31-32;2 Thessalonians 2:4.

Satanic powerJob 1:12Luke 4:6Acts 26:18Ephesians 6:122 Thessalonians 2:9.

The worship of evil spirits (such as Satan)Leviticus 17:7Deuteronomy 32:172 Chronicles 11:15Psalms 106:371 Corinthians 10:20Revelation 9:20.

Life Lessons

1. Who is like the Lord? People will worship both the devil and the antichrist, saying, “Who is like the beast?” (Revelation 13:4). We, however, proclaim with the Scriptures, “Who is like you, O Lord?” (Exodus 15:11). The Lord declares, “There is none who can deliver from my hand” (Isaiah 43:13). The true God is incomparably great.

2. Test all things. We ought to consistently test all doctrines and religious ideas against Scripture. Even today, the spirit of antichrist is at work promoting heretical doctrine (see 1 John 4:1-32 John 1:7). Scripture often warns against being deceived by false doctrine (Matthew 7:15-16Matthew 24:4-11Acts 20:28-302 Corinthians 11:2-32 Timothy 4:3-4). We protect ourselves by testing all teachings against Scripture (Acts 17:111 Thessalonians 5:21).

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1. Have you ever been awestruck at how the Lord came through for you, such that you were moved to ask, “Who is like you, O Lord” (Exodus 15:11)?

2. Do you think you could ever be deceived by false doctrine? Why or why not? (See Acts 17:111 Thessalonians 5:21.)

Notes

1. Walter K. Price, The Coming Antichrist (Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1985), p. 145.

2. Mark Hitchcock, The Complete Book of Bible Prophecy (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1999), pp. 199-200.

  • By Ron Rhodes /President of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries

Taken from 40 Days Through Revelation. Copyright © 2013 by Ron Rhodes. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.

The book of Revelation begins and ends with guarantees that its inspiring message leads to blessing. Popular Bible teacher and author Ron Rhodes guides readers on an encouraging journey through this prophetic book, interpreting its picturesque language and revealing its reassuring promises. Each short chapter is perfect for a group Bible study or a personal quiet time. Readers who may have been confused or intimidated by Revelation will appreciate this easy-to-understand and practical presentation of its empowering truths.

OECD: Europe Remains Threat to World Economy.


The recession in Europe risks threatening the world’s economic recovery, a leading international body warned Wednesday.

In its half-yearly update, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that protracted economic weakness in Europe “could evolve into stagnation with negative implications for the global economy.”

The OECD again slashed its forecast for the 17 European Union countries that use the euro, saying it will shrink by 0.6 percent this year, after 0.5 percent drop in 2012. The OECD had predicted a 0.1 percent decline for the eurozone in its report six months ago — and this time last year, it forecast growth of nearly 1 percent for 2013.

The U.S. economy will continue to outpace Europe, the OECD said, with growth of 1.9 percent in 2013 and 2.8 percent in 2014. For global gross domestic product, the OECD forecasts an increase of 3.1 per cent for this year and by 4 percent for 2014.

Noting that eurozone policymakers have “often been behind the curve,” the OECD warned that Europe was still beset by “weakly capitalized banks, public debt financing requirements and exit risks.”

Meanwhile, the eurozone’s 12.1 percent unemployment “is likely to continue to rise further … stabilizing at a very high level only in 2014,” the OECD said.

The OECD report predicts unemployment will reach 28 percent in Spain next year and 28.4 percent in Greece.

The eurozone economy shrank 0.2 percent in the January-March period, the sixth consecutive quarterly decline, making it the eurozone’s longest ever recession.

Austerity measures have inflicted severe economic pain and sparked social unrest across the continent. Europe’s young people are especially suffering, with unemployment of around 50 percent in some of the hardest-hit eurozone countries such as Spain and Greece.

But OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria also noted that the tough reforms that those countries — to loosen their labor markets and make their public administrations more efficient — will soon bear fruit.

“In the periphery in particular, which was hardest hit by the crisis, that is where the reforms are taking place at the faster pace and where things eventually are, I believe, going to be looking better faster once we go through the acute stage of the crisis,” Gurria told reporters.

With a population of more than half a billion people, the EU is the world’s largest export market. If it remains stuck in reverse, companies in the U.S. and Asia will be hit.

Last month, U.S.-based Ford Motor Co. lost $462 million in Europe and called the outlook there “uncertain.”

Other major economies have faltered this year but none are in recession, like Europe. The U.S. economy grew 2.2 percent last year and China, the world’s No. 2 economy, is growing around 8 percent a year.

The OECD urged Europe to bolster its efforts to support economic recovery. While the European Central Bank‘s loose monetary policy has helped, “more can be done through further non-conventional measures” and the establishment of a Europe-wide banking union, the organization said.

In the U.S., the organization urged politicians to soften automatic across-the-board budget spending cuts to make them less harmful to growth, and said “a credible long-term fiscal plan needs to be put in place.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com Moneynews.

New Book: Recession Sparks Suicides in Britain, US.


LONDON — In a book to be released this month, professors David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu say suicide rates in both the United States and Britain. increased after the end of 2007, which marked the beginning of the recession in the United States.

They calculate there were 4,750 “excess” suicides during the slump in the United States, compared with average rates before the recession. For Britain, they estimate a 1,000-suicide rise.

They also say use of antidepressant medicine rose 22 percent in Britain from 2007 to 2009. The number of Spanish patients with clinical symptoms of minor depression who visited doctors climbed to 48 percent of patients from 29 percent between 2006 and 2010.

The rate of HIV infection has risen in crisis-stricken Greece by more than 200 percent since 2011, driven by increased drug use via injection amid a 50 percent youth unemployment rate and reductions in HIV prevention budgets, they say in “The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills.”

The Mediterranean nation also experienced its first malaria outbreak in decades following reductions to mosquito-spray programs.

Oxford University’s Stuckler and Basu, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University near Palo Alto, Calif,, argue there could have been another approach.

During the Great Depression, each $100 of relief spending from the New Deal led to fewer deaths and cut suicides, they say.

Sweden also suffered an economic crash in the 1990s, as did Iceland more recently. Both countries maintained social welfare programs and saw no spurt in deaths.

“What we’ve learned is that the real danger to public health is not recession per se, but austerity,” the authors said.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Thousands Rally Against European Austerity in May Day Protests.


ATHENS/MADRID — Trains and ferries were canceled and hospital staff walked off the job in Greece on Wednesday and thousands were due to demonstrate across Spain as May Day triggered protests against harsh government spending cuts.

Separately, Turkish riot police fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds gathering in central Istanbul for a rally on what has become a traditional labor holiday.

In Spain, where the unemployment rate stands at a record 27 percent, the two largest trade unions, CCOO and UGT, called on workers and the unemployed to join over 80 demonstrations across the country.

In a column in financial newspaper El Economista, CCOO Secretary General Igancio Fernandez Toxo criticized the government’s “huge irresponsibility” in allowing unemployment to rise to such levels.

Candido Mendez, head of UGT, said having more than 6 million people unemployed meant there had “never been a May 1 with more reason to take to the streets.”

In Athens, about 1,000 policemen were deployed to handle any violence during rallies and strikes called by public and private sector unions.

It is the latest in a long line of strikes and protests in the debt-laden country ravaged by its sixth year of recession and popular fury over wage and spending cuts.

“Our message today is very clear: Enough with these policies which hurt people and make the poor poorer,” Ilias Iliopoulos, general secretary of public sector union ADEDY, told Reuters. “The government must take back the austerity measures, people can’t take it anymore.”

Participation, however, was expected to be well below the levels of major protests last year when as many as 100,000 Greeks marched to the central Syntagma square chanting slogans.

Unions themselves expected turnout to be low in Greece with the traditional May 1 holiday falling just a few days before Greek Orthodox Easter, which meant public schools were shut and many workers had already left for vacation.

Public transport in Athens was disrupted with buses and subways halted, while ships and ferries stayed docked at ports after seamen also walked off the job. Bank and hospital workers also joined the one-day strike.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has sought to maintain a hard line against striking workers in a bid to show European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders — as well as the public — that he is determined to push through unpopular reforms.

TURKEY, RUSSIA

In Istanbul, thousands of police were stationed across the city center to block access to the main Taksim square as crowds of protesters converged in different parts of the city early in the morning attempting to storm police barricades.

The incidents followed the pattern of recent years, when May Day demonstrations in Turkey’s largest city have often been marked by clashes between police and protesters.

Authorities often use force to prevent the rally happening in the center of the city, having this year already denied large trade unions permission to march on Taksim, saying major construction work there would make it too dangerous.

Two officers were wounded by stones and metal objects thrown at police lines, state-run TRT television said, citing the Istanbul governor’s office.

In Russia, around 1.5 million Russians were expected to participate in May 1 parades — a fraction of the millions that used to march in the Soviet times.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Report: Anti-Semitic Incidents Surged in 2012.


Israeli researchers warned Sunday of a sudden upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks, topped by a deadly school shooting in France, noting a link to the rise of extremist parties in Europe.

The warnings emerge from an annual report on anti-Semitism in the world, released on the eve of Israel’s memorial day for the 6 million Jews killed by German Nazis and their collaborators in World War II.

The report noted a 30 percent jump in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism last year, after a two-year decline. It was issued at Tel Aviv University, in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress, an umbrella group representing Jewish communities across Europe.

The report recorded 686 attacks in 34 countries, ranging from physical violence to vandalism of synagogues and cemeteries, compared to 526 in 2011. It said 273 of the attacks last year, or 40 percent, involved violence against people.

The report linked the March, 2012 shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, where an extremist Muslim gunman killed four people, to a series of attacks that followed — particularly in France, where physical assaults on Jews almost doubled.

The report by the university’s Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry found little correlation between the increase of anti-Semitic attacks and Israel’s military operation in Gaza in November. While there was a spike in incidents at the time, it was much smaller in number and intensity than the one that followed the Toulouse school attack, said Roni Stauber, the chief researcher on the project.

“This shows that the desire to harm Jews is deeply rooted among extremist Muslims and right-wingers, regardless of events in the Middle East,” he said. An Israeli offensive in Gaza four years earlier led to a significant spike in attacks against Jews in Europe.

This year, researchers pointed to a correlation between the strengthening of extreme right-wing parties in some European countries and high levels of anti-Semitic incidents, as well as attacks on other minorities and immigrants.

They said Europe’s economic crisis was fueling the rise of extremist parties like Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece and Svoboda in Ukraine.

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, called for strong action by the European Union, charging that governments — particularly in Hungary — were not doing enough to curb these parties’ activities and protect minorities.

“Neo-Nazis have been once again legalized in Europe. They are openly sitting in parliaments,” Kantor complained.

Kantor, a Russian-Swiss businessman, said the EU should even consider expelling Hungary and Greece. “If they do not protect their own population against neo-Nazism, with all the lessons Europe had already, maybe there is no place for them in the European Union,” he told The Associated Press after the presentation of the report.

First, he said, his group has asked the European Parliament to hold a special hearing on Hungary. The parliament is planning the hearings, said parliament spokesman Jaume Duch.

The president of the parliament, Martin Schulz, has been openly critical of anti-Semitism in Europe.

There was no immediate reaction from European officials, but the chances of punishing any country for the results of a democratic election are slim. The EU has never suspended a member state, much less tried to expel one.

Golden Dawn swept into Greece’s parliament for the first time in June on an anti-immigrant platform. The party rejects the neo-Nazi label but is fond of Nazi literature and references. In Hungary, a Jobbik lawmaker has called for Jews to be screened as potential security risks. The leader of Ukraine’s Svoboda denies his party is anti-Semitic but has repeatedly used derogatory terms to refer to Jews.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Europe’s Financial Crisis Leads to Suicide Surge.


LONDON — The harsh spending cuts introduced by European governments to tackle their crippling debt problems have not only pitched the region into recession — they are also being partly blamed for outbreaks of diseases not normally seen in Europe and a spike in suicides, according to new research.

Since the crisis first struck in 2008, state-run welfare and health services across Europe have seen their budgets cut, medical treatments rationed and unpopular measures such as hospital user fees introduced.

Those countries that have slashed public spending the hardest — namely Greece, Spain, and Portugal — have fared the worst medically.

“Austerity measures haven’t solved the economic problems and they have also created big health problems,” said Martin McKee, a professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the research.

He said worsening health was driven not just by unemployment, but by the lack of a social welfare system to fall back on. “People need to have hope that the government will help them through this difficult time,” he said.

The paper was published online Wednesday in a special series of the journal Lancet.

McKee said Greece in particular was struggling. Based on government data, he and colleagues found suicides rose by 40 percent in 2011 compared to the previous year. Last year, the country also reported an exponential rise in the number of HIV cases among drug users, due in part to addicts sharing contaminated syringes after needle exchange programs were dropped.

In recent years, Greece has also battled outbreaks of malaria, West Nile virus and dengue fever.

“These are not diseases we would normally expect to see in Europe,” said Willem de Jonge, general director of Medecins Sans Frontieres in Greece.

In 2011, MSF helped Greece tackle a malaria outbreak that broke out after authorities scrapped spraying programs to kill mosquitoes.

“There’s a strong willingness in the government to respond (to health problems) but the problem is a lack of resources,” de Jonge said.

Outside Madrid’s Hospital Clinico San Carlos, several patients grumbled about deteriorating medical care.

“The cutbacks are noticeable in many ways,” said Mari Carmen Cervera, 54, an unemployed nurse. Cervera’s mother was initially admitted to the hospital with a serious heart problem that required surgery. Cervera says her mother was discharged too early and had to be brought back when she had trouble breathing one night.

“While she was [hospitalized], she wasn’t being properly washed by the nursing staff, so I had to do it myself,” she said. “I personally think what has happened to my mother is a consequence of negligence and I am going to make an official complaint as soon as [she] is well enough to come home again.”

Hans Kluge of the World Health Organization’s European office, advised countries against radical health reforms during an economic crisis. “In every health system, there is fat to cut,” he said, recommending countries start with straightforward measures such as buying more generic drugs or eliminating unnecessary hospital beds.

Still, McKee and colleagues found not all countries mired in debt are unhealthy. Despite massive losses in its banking sector, Iceland rejected a bailout deal prescribed by the International Monetary Fund.

McKee and colleagues didn’t find any bump in suicides and the population may even be healthier since it nearly went bankrupt — which could have been a result of global junk food chains pulling out of the country due to rising food costs.

Elsewhere, the researchers noted a drop in road accidents as more drivers opted for public transport. In turn, that has led to a shortage of organ donations and transplants, particularly in Spain and Ireland.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Source: NEWSmax.com

Greece ‘ready’ to absorb Cyprus bank subsidiaries.


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Athens is “ready” to absorb the subsidiaries of three Cyprus banks active in Greece, the Greek finance minister said as the eurozone sought to amend a controversial levy on the island nation’s bank deposits.

“We stand ready to take over the assets and liabilities of Cypriot branches in Greece,” Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said.

Cypriot bank subsidiaries in Greece are exempt from the levy, Stournaras added.

Greek stocks dropped 2.87 percent in midday trade on Tuesday with bank shares down 5.56 percent.

There are three Cypriot banks with subsidiaries in Greece: the Bank of Cyprus, the Hellenic Bank and the Cyprus Popular Bank (CPB).

A Greek banking source said “around a billion euros” would be required to finance the takeover for the three subsidiaries which have deposits of around 14.6 billion euros ($18.9 billion) in Greece.

Greece’s top three banks and the state-owned postal bank have all expressed interest in a possible purchase, the source told AFP.

“National Bank (NYSENBHC – news) , Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Hellenic Postbank have expressed interest,” the bank source said.

But further developments depended on a crucial vote on the bailout by the Cypriot parliament as the island’s bankers were “reluctant” to sell, the source said.

Under the original terms of a 10-billion euro ($13 billion) bailout package from the eurozone, all holders of bank accounts in Cyprus were to be hit by a one-off levy ranging from 6.75 percent to 9.9 percent.

On Tuesday, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said the eurozone had “unanimously” agreed to scrap the controversial levy on deposits below 100,000 euros for a bailout to the debt-hit nation.

All Cypriot subsidiaries in Greece were closed on Tuesday — the first day of business after a religious holiday on Monday.

The Athens stock exchange said it had also temporarily suspended trading in Bank of Cyprus and CPB shares.

The upheaval came just a few days after newly-elected Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades visited Greece last week to reportedly request financial assistance.

As part of its own EU-IMF rescue package reached last year, Greece obtained a partial reduction in debt owed to private creditors — which included Cypriot banks.

Anastasiades’ incoming administration wanted this taken into account during talks with international creditors for the Cypriot bailout.

At the time, Cyprus media reports had said Anastasiades would ask Athens to offer the recession-hit island up to three billion euros to help bail out its banks and ease the expected EU financial aid package.

Cypriot daily Phileleftheros had said this could be done by ring-fencing operations in Greece by Cypriot lenders so they could then receive Greek rescue cash.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

AFPAFP

Analysis: Cyprus rescue may set unwelcome euro zone precedent.


ATHENS/NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus hardly seems to have the sort of debt crisis that could provoke a domino effect across the euro zone; its economy is tiny and the bloc’s financial exposure to the island is modest.

Nevertheless, Cyprus is fast becoming a risk for efforts to tackle problems in the euro zone’s much larger economies because almost any way of solving the crisis – from restructuring its debts to imposing losses on banks – is likely to set a precedent for other troubled states.

The danger is that a rescue for Cyprus, which heads to the polls on Sunday, will hurt fragile confidence on financial markets and undermine progress that the euro zone has made in shoring up the rest of its “peripheral” members.

“It’s not a big issue in terms of financial exposure, but it sets a precedent for what happens in other countries,” said Jennifer McKeown, a senior economist at Capital Economics.

“At a time when financial market sentiment is just starting to improve, with the feeling that Greece is getting out of the woods and things are improving in Spain, it would be a real shame if they couldn’t come up with a solution for Cyprus.”

Cyprus applied for international financial aid eight months ago, after Greece’s sovereign debt restructuring caused huge losses for its banks. The island needs up to 10 billion euros to shore up the banks and a further 7.5 billion for its budget.

At first glance, Cyprus poses little threat to a bloc used to firefighting in far bigger economies such as Spain and Italy.

Its 18-billion euro economy accounts for less than 0.2 percent of the bloc’s output, while euro zone banks’ exposure to Cyprus – including lending to banks, companies and households – is estimated at less than 0.1 percent of euro zone GDP.

The biggest banks in Greece – the euro zone country with the closest ties to Cyprus – each have small retail units on the island but minimal exposure to its sovereign debt, several Greek bankers familiar with the matter said.

Even the possible size of a Cypriot bailout – 17 billion euros – is a fraction of the about 240 billion euros (207 billion pounds) that the euro zone and International Monetary Fund are pumping into the bloc’s problem child, Greece.

DEAD END SOLUTIONS

The trouble begins with the form of aid needed. A loan would push Cypriot debt to as much as 140 percent of its annual gross domestic product. This would make it hard for the IMF to take part in the rescue, as the Fund has rules against making loans to countries which it believes will not be repaid.

Debt relief for Cyprus would also be problematic because of the message it would send to the rest of the euro zone. Any restructuring along the lines of last year’s deal for Athens, when private bondholders were forced to accept heavy writedowns in the value of their Greek government debt – would belie policymakers’ promises that this was a one-off event.

It would also not work since most of the Cyprus government debt is held by Cypriot banks, which already need bailing out.

Imposing losses on bank depositors – an option ruled out by Nicosia and European officials this week – could similarly spook markets and prompt people to pull their savings out of banks in other weak euro zone countries.

“The way the euro area deals with Cyprus is going to provide a number of signals to the market as to what will happen next in future bailout cases,” said Platon Monokroussos, head of financial markets research at Eurobank in Athens.

Senior policymakers including European Central Bank executive board member Joerg Asmussen have begun warning against complacency on Cyprus.

The island’s financial troubles have loomed large in campaigning for this month’s presidential elections, where opinion polls show right-wing opposition leader Nicos Anastasiades – the most pro-bailout figure among the top three contenders – in the lead.

If successful, Anastasiades, who has criticised the incumbent left-wing government for stalling on a deal with the EU and IMF, would have to sign off on a bailout before June when the country has to make a 1.4 billion euro debt repayment.

“DUBIOUS PROVENANCE”

Even without the problems of structuring the aid, a bailout is proving tricky due to the country’s links to Russia, the disproportionately vast scale of its financial sector and German misgivings over its commitment to fighting money laundering.

Politicians in Germany, which funds a large part of euro zone rescues, are scathing about the island’s role as a magnet for Russian offshore funds they claim are of dubious provenance.

Plumped up with Russian money, an inflated Cypriot banking system hoarded huge quantities of Greek debt. When that was written down in early 2012, the island suffered mammoth losses. In bailing out Cyprus, the German logic goes, the euro zone will also bail out Russian oligarchs who park their money there.

Analysts expect a deal to avoid a Cypriot bankruptcy will be reached sooner or later, but talks have struggled on issues including the size of the banking system.

Latest data shows the Cypriot banking sector’s assets amount to about 146.2 billion euros – or about 820 percent of GDP – making it one of the biggest risks to the island’s economy.

Adding to its vulnerability is the relatively high level of private sector loans – worth 48.5 billion euros or 270 percent of the economy, data shows. Policymakers such as Asmussen have also pointed to Greek-Cypriot banking links as a route for possible contagion, though bankers on both sides play this down.

Greek bankers say the biggest risk they expect is a jump in bad loans in their Cypriot retail units due to a recession deepened by austerity measures that are likely to be demanded under bailout deal.

Retail exposure of Greece’s four biggest banks in Cyprus remains small. Together they held 10 percent of deposits and 13 percent of loans – while Cyprus’s two biggest banks in turn held less than 10 percent of deposits and loans in Greece, according to a Merit consultancy report based on 2011 data.

If Cypriot banks were allowed to fail, Greek depositors would risk losing their money – but the bigger fear remains panic in Greece from allowing major banks to fail rather than the impact from direct banking links, some bankers said.

“If that happens, then everybody will start thinking that Greece will be next,” said a senior Greek banker who declined to be named. “Trust will be shaken and that will trigger a bank run in Greece and the euro zone periphery.”

Policymakers such as Asmussen have said Nicosia will have to fulfils tough conditions for aid, including introducing more banking transparency.

But analysts warn that demanding too much from Cyprus could backfire and lead to speculation that it could leave the euro zone, just as fears of a Greek exit are easing.

“If Cyprus is given a very tough deal in which it is has to do much more austerity, then there will be a temptation to leave the euro zone and the question is whether markets can overlook that, given Cyprus is a very special situation,” said McKeown.

“There’s a risk that the departure of just one country – however small – leads to wider fears of a euro zone breakup.”

(Additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas in Athens; editing by David Stamp)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

ReutersBy Deepa Babington and Michele Kambas | Reuters 

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