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Battle begins over ‘refounding’ of Europe

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The European Union began a nine-day battle on Thursday over federal-style changes to save the debt-saddled eurozone, withFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy saying that Europe needs to be “refounded”.

In a landmark address in front of 5,000 supporters, Sarkozy said he would meet his German counterpart Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday to agree upon and announce a joint plan to take to the EU summit on December 8 and 9.

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The French leader warned the developed world was entering a “new economic cycle” dominated by debt reduction, and thus of tough times ahead.

“Europe will have to make crucial choices in the weeks to come,” he warned in the southern port city of Toulon, adding: “Europe is not a choice, it is a necessity, but it needs to be rethought, refounded.”

Merkel is to lay down her vision of how the EU should work, and her conditions, in a speech to the Bundestag lower house of parliament on Friday.

“France is fighting with Germany for a new treaty. More discipline, more solidarity, more responsibility … true economic government,” said Sarkozy, urging members to adopt a “Golden Rule” obliging them to balance their budgets.

The stability of the eurozone economy has been rocked by a sovereign debt crisis spreading from the eurozone’s highly indebted peripheral states like Greece and Ireland towards major economies such as Spain and Italy.

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European leaders have struggled to convince markets that they will be able to stave off the risk of a massive default that could bring down banks, cause a global credit crunch and bring down their single currency.

Next week’s Brussels summit is now seen as key to halting the crisis.

The European Central Bank and Bank of England cooled the air after shock action by central banks to shore up the global financial system boosted markets on Wednesday.

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The new ECB president Mario Draghi sent a strong message that there is no magic wand, telling the European Parliament that the central bank will not act beyond rules laid down by EU treaties and that its purchasing of devalued government bonds is “temporary and limited”.

The bank “should not be asked to do things that are not within the treaty”, he told the European Parliament. “It would be not legal, but also a mistake because… it would undermine the credibility in the ECB,” he added.

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Bank of England governor Mervyn King said that joint central bank action launched on Wednesday was merely “some temporary relief to liquidity problems” and that the underlying causes had to be “tackled directly by the governments involved”.

Britain is not a member of the eurozone, but as a member of the European Union and a financial centre, is highly exposed to the eurozone debt crisis, and King said the BoE had prepared a plan in case the single currency area breaks up.

Germany strongly backs the ECB line, arguing that the first condition of a solution to the debt crisis is cast-iron federal-type corsets controlling national budgets and economic reforms to release growth.

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“What we need first and foremost are automatic sanctions when (budget) stability rules are broken,” said German Minister Guido Westerwelle.

France however has pushed for the ECB to act as a lender of a last resort to eurozone governments to ensure that panicky markets do not push states into into insolvency.

Sarkozy said however that while the European Central Bank “is and will remain independent” he believes it will act to counter the threat of the eurozone crisis.

“I’m convinced that faced with the risk of deflation that is threatening Europe the central bank will act,” Sarkozy said, adding that it was up to the ECB to decide when and how to act.

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The catastrophic risks that Europe is running were highlighted by the EU’s Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn.

He declared Wednesday that monetary union “will either have to be completed through much deeper integration or we will have to accept a gradual disintegration of over half a century of European integration”.

Market tension remains high, with the euro firming but European stocks slipping on Thursday after a global rally at the central bank action the day before. Wall Street was mixed in afternoon trading.

Italy, at high risk of being the next and by far the biggest eurozone domino to need a bailout, said it is at risk of entering recession.

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This warning came as the new Prime Minister Mario Monti is putting together his master plan to reform the budget after consultations with EU officials, for presentation to his cabinet on Monday.

Germany and France have warned that if Italy’s finances become unsustainable the eurozone will break up.


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Watergate’s John Dean thinks Trump wrote part of his legal team’s brief — because it’s so terrible

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Former White House counsel for Richard Nixon, John Dean, explained that the legal brief out of President Donald Trump's White House was so bad that it had to have been dictated by Trump himself.

Saturday evening, Trump's legal team, chaired by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, filed their own form of a legal brief that responded to the case filed by Democrats ahead of Tuesday's impeachment trial.

The document called the proceedings “constitutionally invalid” and claims House Democrats are staging a “dangerous attack” with a “brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election.”

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WATCH: Prince Harry explains why he and Meghan are leaving the royal family — but promises ‘a life of service’

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Prince Harry posted a video from an HIV/AIDS fundraiser his mother once supported, where he explained his methodology for leaving his profile role as a royal.

"I will continue to be the same man who holds his country dear," said Harry.

He went on to say that he doesn't intend to walk away and he certainly won't walk away from his causes and interests. "We intend to live a life of service."

In the speech, he thanked those who took him under their wing in the absence of his mother

"I hope you can understand that it's what it had come to," he said for why their family intends to step back.

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‘You cannot expect anything but fascism’: Pedagogy theorist on how Trump ‘legitimated a culture of lying, cruelty and a collapse of social responsibility’

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The impeachment of Donald Trump appears to be a crisis without a history, at least a history that illuminates, not just comparisons with other presidential impeachments, but a history that provides historical lessons regarding its relationship to a previous age of tyranny that ushered in horrors associated with a fascist politics in the 1930s.  In the age of Trump, history is now used to divert and elude the most serious questions to be raised about the impeachment crisis. The legacy of earlier presidential impeachments, which include Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, provide a comparative historical context for analysis and criticism. And while Trump’s impeachment is often defined as a more serious constitutional crisis given his attempt to use the power of the presidency to advance his personal political agenda, it is a crisis that willfully ignores the conditions that gave rise to Trump’s presidency along with its recurring pattern of authoritarian behavior, policies, and practices.  One result is that the impeachment process with its abundance of political theater and insipid media coverage treats Trump’s crimes as the endpoint of an abuse of power and an illegal act, rather than as a political action that is symptomatic of a long legacy of conditions that have led to the United States’ slide into the abyss of authoritarianism.

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