Another imposing compendium with momentous headlines after the jump from Greece, the Ukraine, Latin America, India, China, Japan, environmental woes, and the latest Fukushimapocalypse Now!

We begin at home with a notable intellectual property crime from South China Morning Post:

Prosecutors in US Midwest charge six Chinese with plot to steal seed corn

Court hears some suspects were found on their knees in farmers’ fields stealing ears of corn patented by one of world’s leading crop developers

From Daily Ticker, a windfall:

Denver Post Marijuana Editor: Pot to Generate $40 Million in Tax Revenue

Beginning January 1, residents of Colorado should be able to legally purchase recreational marijuana. Colorado joins Washington as one of the first states to give the drug a greenlight purely for pleasure. Washington is set to begin sales later in 2014.

So what will this mean for Colorado’s businesses and economy? We consulted the Denver Post’s marijuana editor Ricardo Baca (yes, that’s his real job and title).

Quartz covers a significant move:

Upstate New York could get its very own multi-billion dollar, 600-acre Chinese city

The Catskills, in upstate New York, are known for their natural beauty and quaint lifestyle. But they could become a lot flashier, thanks to one businesswoman’s proposal for the area: a multibillion-dollar “China City of America,” complete with an amusement park, mansions, a casino, retail centers, a college, and more.

Creator Sherry Li says the plan would attract domestic and foreign tourists, residents, and investors. Back in May, she introduced her concept to Thompson, a town of 15,000 people 90 miles north of New York City. At that initial council meeting, she spoke of the 3,000 jobs that would be created and emphasized the development’s family attractions—Chinese Zodiac themed areas, buildings and rides that correspond with 16 different Chinese dynasties.

From the Los Angeles Times, infrastructural momentum shifts:

Foes of bullet train are gaining momentum

In recent weeks, the $68.4-billion project has been dealt major blows by a state court judge and federal regulators.

The state’s strategy of tapping $3.2 billion in federal money to begin construction of an ambitious bullet train project may be legally flawed and could put the state in financial jeopardy, key lawmakers say.

After recent legal rulings that bar the use of state money for the project, legislators from both political parties say that even the use of federal funds is questionable and the entire project needs to be reassessed.

From the San Francisco Chronicle, a gesture:

Boy, 8, opens lemonade stand to feed homeless

Lately, 8-year-old Conall Lane of Burlingame has been asking a lot of questions.

A few months ago he saw transients living on the streets of San Francisco with their tattered sleeping bags and shopping carts and wanted to know why they couldn’t go home.

“Because they have no home,” his mother, Olga Lane, told him.

From USA TODAY, others have homes:

Sky’s the limit: New towers for the rich soar in New York

The 432 Park penthouse has sold for $95 million; two duplex apartments at One57, now nearing completion, also are under contract, each for more than $90 million. Even a studio apartment on a lower floor at 432 Park (designed for staff — a maid or butler) costs $1.59 million.

Such prices seem incongruous in a nation that has yet to recover from the 2008 financial crisis; that lost its lead in skyscraper construction decades ago; and that suffered a terrorist attack in 2001 that seemed to dampen enthusiasm for high-rise living.

And these mansion-size apartments with 30-mile views will go unoccupied much or most of the time. Not since the Gilded Age, when Vanderbilts and Astors spent only a few months each summer at their marble Newport “cottages,” will so much expensive space be so little inhabited.

From Newsfeed, a criminal excuse for the one percenter:

The Affluenza Defense: Judge Rules Rich Kid’s Rich Kid-ness Makes Him Not Liable for Deadly Drunk Driving Accident

He got 10 years probation for causing a wreck that devastated three families

For most people, conviction for vehicular manslaughter due to drunk driving warrants a lengthy sentence, but not in the case of Ethan Couch, a wealthy young man from the state of Texas.

The Keller, Tex., 16-year-old has a rare condition that a judge believes is best remedied with anything but dealing with the consequences for causing a DWI wreck that killed four people, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Couch suffers from “affluenza,” according to his lawyers, a term which means that his wealthy parents pretty much let him get away with everything. The defense saved him from a 20-year sentence; State District Judge Jean Boyd bought it at his sentencing on Tuesday and gave Couch probation instead.

Another perspective from the London Daily Mail:

Teenager who was paralyzed when his drunk driving friend killed four pedestrians is suing the driver’s ‘affluent’ family for $20m as doctors never expect him to recover

Ethan Couch, 16, faced 20 years behind bars for klling four people in a car crash but walked away with 10 years probation Tuesday

Youth pastor Brian Jennings; mother and daughter Hollie and Shelby Boyles; and 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell all died in the June 15 accident

Sergio Molina, now 16, was in the back of Couch’s pickup truck and survived the accident but is now paralyzed and was in a coma

A psychologist called by the defense blamed Couch’s behavior on ‘affluenza’ claiming his parents gave him too many freedoms

Molina’s family are now suing Couch and his father’s business- as the car was owned by the company- for $20 million

On to Canada and red ink from CBC News:

Personal debt ratio hits record high of 163.7%

Statistics Canada reported Friday that the level of household credit market debt to disposable income increased to 163.7 per cent in the third quarter from 163.1 per cent in the second quarter.

That means Canadians owe nearly $1.64 for every $1 in disposable income they earn in a year.

Policymakers are fixated on the debt ratio in part because it was at above 160 per cent that households in the United States and Britain ran into trouble about five years ago, contributing to defaults and the financial crisis that triggered the 2008-09 recession.

Aviation Week takes a flyer:

IATA Predicts Highest-Ever Industry Profit

Next year will be the most profitable ever for the airline industry in absolute terms, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts.

IATA upped its profit forecast for 2013 and 2014 based on several factors that are benefitting the industry. The group believes that the industry will post a combined net profit of $19.7 billion in 2014, $3.3 billion higher than the last forecast in September. This year is also going to be better than expected as profits will rise to $12.9 billion, up from the previous prediction of $11.7 billion.

Deutsche Welle shows remorse:

Amnesty International deplores ‘pitiful’ EU response to Syrian refugees

Human rights group Amnesty International has slammed the EU for what it calls a ‘pitiful’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis. It called on the bloc to greatly increase its intake of people fleeing the civil war.

New Europe decides:

Landmark ruling for countries that do not yet allow gay marriage

Gay civil partnerships couples must be granted same benefits as hetero ones Court says

Employees who enter into a civil partnership with a partner of the same sex must be granted the same benefits as those granted to their colleagues upon their marriage, where marriage is not possible for homosexual couples, the European Court of Justice has ruled it was announced on December 13.

Quartz hovers:

Holding pattern

The euro zone isn’t creating jobs, but at least it’s no longer losing them

It could be better, but it could also be worse. That’s the story of the latest data  on employment in the euro zone. In the third quarter, as in the second, there was no change in the number of people with jobs in the region. As a percentage of the population, employment is still lower than it was a year ago, but not by as much as before.

More from Reuters:

Euro zone employment shows no change in third quarter

he number of people with jobs in the euro zone was unchanged for the second consecutive quarter in the three months to September, showing the bloc’s economic recovery has not yet filtered through to the labor market.

But euro zone employment was shrinking more slowly than a year ago on a year-on-year basis — it contracted 0.8 percent in the third quarter against -1.1 in the previous three months, data from the EU’s Eurostat showed on Friday.

Xinhua declines:

EU real agricultural income per worker down by 1.3 pct

The real agricultural income per worker in the 28 member states of EU has decreased by 1.3 percent in 2013, after an increase of 0.3 percent in 2012, according to first estimate issued Friday by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

The decrease is mainly the result of higher increase in real terms in input cost (+0.8 percent) than in the value of the output of the agricultural sector at producer prices (+0.1 percent).

EUbusiness questions:

Europe’s ‘crisis after the crisis’ poses uncertainty in 2014

Is Europe on the verge of a popular uprising? The question was asked by one of Greece’s most respected newspapers as another year of painful austerity drew to a close.

If public anger does explode on the streets, wrote Kathimerini, it will not be provoked by politicians or labour unions, but come from ordinary people who “never imagined themselves doing such a thing”.

Desperation is weighing not just on Greece, but on countries across Europe facing the same paradox: despite the end of the Great Recession, people continue to struggle with the daily reality of unemployment and poverty.

ANA-MPA campaigns:

Tsipras: European Left the only alternative to ‘barbaric neoliberalism’, rise of far right

The European Left is the only alternative to “barbaric neoliberalism” and the rise of the far right, Greek main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, head of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party, stressed in his address to the European Left’s 4th Congress in Madrid on Saturday. He predicted that 2014 will be a year of change.

Tsipras, who is to be formally nominated as the EL’s candidate for European Commission president at the end of the two-day congress on Sunday, stressed that the alternatives were clear:

“Either we stay motionless or we move forward. Either we consent to the neoliberal status quo and pretend that the crisis can be resolved by policies that have recycled it, or we proceed to the future with the European Left,” he stressed.

Reuters divides:

Austria’s Freedom aims to enlarge Eurosceptic bloc

A core of six Eurosceptic parties is aiming to win over another four right-wing parties to create a new political group in the EU parliament, the leader of Austria’s Freedom Party said.

In the run up to May’s EU-wide elections to the parliament, momentum is building to create a grouping of nationalist parties which would entitle members to more office space and support staff as well as EU funds for meetings and publicity.

On to England with woe from The Guardian:

Number of homeless in England has risen for 3 years in a row, report says

185,000 a year affected, say Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, because of benefits cuts and a shortage of housing

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Crisis found almost one in 10 people experience homelessness at some point in their life, with one in 50 experiencing it in the last five years.

The London Telegraph inflates:

Tenant plight: rents rise twice as fast as mortgage costs

The average monthly spend on rent will soon overtake the average mortgage cost, official figures suggest, making it even harder to buy

The data, from the Office for National Statistics, looks at the average sums paid for housing in the form of both mortgage and rent. It covers the years 2010 to 2012 and shows that during that period the average rent paid – £121.50 per week rising to £136 per week – rose 12pc.

Mortgage costs rose from £130.80 to £138.60, or a 6pc increase.

The Irish Times has more:

UK property market could go “scalding hot”

Bank of England economist says recovery in housing market is down to improved availability of credit

MercoPress worries:

Bank of England concerned about potential for a UK housing market bubble

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said he is concerned about the “potential” for a UK housing market bubble, but will tighten lending requirements if necessary. Meanwhile, a survey suggested house prices will continue “surging ahead”.

Deutsche Welle doubts:

UK economy: Is all that glitters really gold?

As people in Britain throng the high streets hunting for Christmas presents, critics of the government’s claims of a solid recovery warn the economic upswing is not as solid as the Chancellor claims.

The London Telegraph bemoans:

Why Britain is in the wrong type of recovery

An accompanying graphic explains why:

Sky News demands:

Migrants Told ‘Speak English Or No Benefits’

A tougher test is to be introduced for migrants looking to claim benefits amid fears of an influx of Romanians and Bulgarians.

Migrants who cannot speak English well enough to get a job face being denied benefits under a new tougher test, the Work and Pensions Secretary has said.

The Guardian takes us to Ireland and a qualification:

Bailout exit does not mark end of Ireland’s financial crisis, says Noonan

As Ireland prepares to become the first country to exit eurozone bailout, there are still several reasons why its finance minister Michael Noonan thinks the crisis is not over just yet

More from BBC News:

Ireland’s tough economic policies to continue, says finance minister

The Irish Republic’s exit from its bailout rescue is a “milestone” but not the end of the road, the country’s finance minister has said.

Michael Noonan told a press conference marking the exit that Ireland’s deficit and debt was still far too high.

Numerical concern from the Irish Times:

Trade data is weaker than expected

Decline in pharmaceutical exports pushes trade surplus down

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) this morning released weaker than expected trade data, with the trade surplus for the first ten months of the year down by 12.2 per cent, driven by a 6.4 per cent fall in exports.

While Independent.ie builds up:

Builders get biggest boost since 2006

THE construction industry is on course to record a first full calendar year of growth since 2006. New figures show that in the first nine months of the year activity in the sector is up 15.5pc.

However, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) says 2013 is likely to be the worst performing year on record for home building. Home building currently stands at around 7.5pc of what it was at the peak of the boom. Building projects are mainly being undertaken for business purposes.

On to Iceland and a demurral from the Reykjavík Grapevine:

PM Criticises IMF’s Criticism Of Debt Relief Package

Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has dismissed concerns from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that his debt relief package could stress the economy, saying that the IMF does not have a good track record “in many, if not most, countries”.

“This isn’t really new,” the Prime Minister said. “The IMF has expressed opposition to public debt relief in recent years. For my part, I have many times said I am completely opposed to the politics of the IMF, which has unfortunately not done especially well by homes in many, if not most, countries where the IMF has gotten involved.”

Norway next, and a refusal via TheLocal.no:

Former bishops resign after gay marriage call

Two former bishops have resigned from the body that represents priests in Norway in protest at its decision to call for gay church marriages.

Per Lønning and Fredrik Grønningsæter, the former bishops of Fredrikstad and Bodø respectively, said they had no choice but to resign their membership of the Norwegian Association of Clergy, which represents 95 percent of the country’s priests.

TheLocal.no airs an eccentric view:

‘Legalize polygamy’: Progress youth wing

Youth activists from Norway’s governing Progress Party have voted to push for men and women to be allowed to marry as many partners as they desire, in a move described as “a pretty bad idea” by the party’s national leadership.

“We want a neutral law that says that everyone should be able to marry whoever they want, and how many they want,” Katrine Jakobsen Solberg, head of the Progress Party youth wing in the country of Hedmark, said shortly after voting through the proposal at the group’s annual meeting.

Sweden next, and a puzzler from TheLocal.se:

Foreign-born Swedes join anti-immigration party

Men with roots outside of Sweden are increasingly attracted to the tough migration stance of the minority Sweden Democrat party, with one new Persian-Swedish member telling The Local why he decided to join.

TheLocal.se again, with a note of regret:

Sweden ‘open’ to slave trade reparations

Sweden’s top diplomat in the Caribbean said an effort by a group of countries in the region to seek reparations from former colonial powers for the effects of the Atlantic slave trade should be “taken seriously”.

Earlier this week, a commission by regional governments to look into seeking reparations for “native genocide, the transatlantic slave trade and a racialized system of chattel slavery”, identified Sweden as one of eight European countries that should “address the living legacies of these crimes.”

Germany next with a decision from Reuters:

German SPD members vote to join Merkel despite misgivings

Germany’s Social Democrats voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining a “grand coalition” with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives on Saturday, clearing the way for a new right-left government that will take office on Tuesday.

The SPD said 76 percent of its grassroots members who took part in the unprecedented postal ballot voted to join forces with the conservatives despite initial misgivings. The SPD said 256,643 voted “yes” while 80,921 voted “no”. Some 32,000 ballots were invalid.

Another decision from EUobserver:

Schaeuble to stay on as German finance minister

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new cabinet will keep Wolfgang Schaeuble as finance minister and see the return of Frank-Walter Steinmeier as foreign minister, according to Bild newspaper. The formal announcement will be made Sunday after the Social Democrats present the results of a party vote on the Grand Coalition.

BBC News trolls:

Porn users targeted by German law firm over copyright

Thousands of Germans are reported to have been sent letters asking them to pay a fee for porn they are alleged to have streamed illegally online.

Law firm Urmann (U+C) is acting on behalf of Swiss copyright protection firm the Archive, and is asking for one-off payments of 250 euros (£210).

On to Spain with El País declining:

Spaniards’ wealth compared to EU partners falls to levels of 1998

New figures reveal that Spain’s GDP per capita figures for 2012 are at 96 percent of the EU average

Spain hit its peak in terms of GDP per capita compared to other EU countries in 2007, when it exceeded the average by six percentage points. The economic crisis, however, from which Spain is yet to emerge, put paid to that prosperity.

El País again, with an excuse:

Economy Ministry official defends merits of wage moderation

Spain’s secretary of state for trade, Jaime García-Legaz, on Thursday said it was a “mistake” to believe that a rise in salaries would guarantee more consumer spending, which would, he argued, come once the labor market recovered.

The Guardian reports with a withdrawal:

Spain’s EuroVegas plan: US casino operator pulls plug

Proposed $30bn mega-resort outside Madrid abandoned after Spanish government rejects some of Las Vegas Sands demands

A US casino operator has abandoned plans to build a $30bn (£18bn) mega-resort, dubbed EuroVegas by the Spanish press, bringing an end to one of Spain’s largest investment projects in recent years.

Las Vegas Sands, led by 80-year-old American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, had proposed a project outside Madrid that was to include 12 hotels, six casinos, a conference centre, golf courses, cinemas, shopping malls, bars and restaurants.

More from El País:

Eurovegas not coming to Madrid after company demands rejected

Casino tycoon Adelson wanted guarantees of financial compensation in the event of future legislative changes

Sources familiar with the situation said that some of the conditions imposed by representatives of the business tycoon Sheldon G. Adelson were laid out at the last minute, and have no precedent in any other of the countries where Adelson owns similar mega-resorts. Providing compensation for future legislative changes, thereby ensuring that the company’s profits do not fall, would have violated European competition laws. But company officials said the conditions were not negotiable.

El País doubly declines:

Home sales continue to decline despite price drops

Buyers finding it hard to secure loans, say experts

From RT, separation anxiety:

Spain ‘won’t have enough tanks’: Catalonia to vote on independence, defy Madrid

The Catalan regional parliament has set November next year for a referendum on the Spanish province’s independence. The government in Madrid blandly said the vote won’t happen, but activists wonder how it might be stopped.

Catalonia’s four pro-independence parties, which hold a majority in the regional parliament, announced Thursday that the rich industrial Spanish province will hold a referendum on whether to gain greater autonomy or even total independence from the country’s central government.

New Europe takes us to Portugal and the upbeat:

Portuguese PM optimistic about bailout exit

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho on Thursday expressed cautious optimism about the country’s bailout exit, saying that the country was in right conditions to exit the bailout program.

“The effort we’ve taken all this time didn’t indicate that the country will have to find help abroad,” the prime minister told national broadcasters TVi and TSF in a live interview.

Xinhua seeks egress:

Troika say Portugal to exit bailout program next year

Portugal’s international lenders believe that the bailedout country will exit from the bailout program mid next year when it expires, according to Portuguese lawmakers on Friday.

Miguel Frasquilho, spokesperson of Portugal’s ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), said the troika has left Portugal a very “positive message”that the country will exit the program in a “favorable” way and “on the date scheduled” for June 2014.

The Portugal News predicts:

More jobs and more pay?

Projections issued this week by the Bank of Portugal have confirmed an outlook of a gradual recovery of the Portuguese economy for the period 2013 to 2015. The institution caught many observers by surprise when it forecast both increased jobs and a rise in wages paid to workers in the private sector. However, the news has received a mixed reaction. While the Government said the forecast “is good news”, the largest opposition party, the PS, said the outlook “lacked credibility”.

On to Italy and a a dose of the dour from Europe Online:

Standard & Poor’s pours cold water on Italy government growth hopes

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) on Friday poured cold water on the Italian government’s hopes to lift the country out of recession, saying that the eurozone’s third-largest economy was set to grow at less than half the rate expected by authorities.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta has been touting the news this week that gross domestic product (GDP) stopped shrinking in the third quarter of 2013 as the end of a record-length recession. His grand coalition government expects GDP growth of at least 1 per cent next year.

TheLocal.it declines to pay:

Italy’s government to scrap party funding

Italian prime minister Enrico Letta said on Friday that the coalition government had agreed to scrap public funding for political parties.

The announcement came via his Twitter account ahead of a cabinet meeting on Friday morning.

And from the London Telegraph, another March on Rome?:

‘Pitchforks’ plan Rome march as Italian government survives confidence vote

Italian government wins confidence vote but the real threat comes from the Pitchfork movement, a loose coalition of disaffected Italians calling for the coalition to be toppled

The emergence of the movement only deepened the sense of crisis in Italy, as it faces zero economic growth, 40 per cent youth unemployment, growing poverty, questions over the long-term viability of Mr Letta and surging anger over taxes, austerity and the perks enjoyed by a cosseted political class.

More from The Guardian:

Italy hit by wave of Pitchfork protests as austerity unites disparate groups

Demonstrations point to frustration with traditional politics, with minister warning parliament of a country in ‘spiral of rebellion’

They blocked roads and stopped trains,occupied piazzas, clashed with police and closed shops. From Turin and Milan in the north to Puglia and Sicily in the south, Italy was hit this week by a wave of protests that brought together disparate groups and traditional foes in an angry show of opposition to austerity policies and the government.

TheLocal.it shocks:

Italy is a ‘slave of Jewish bankers’

Andrea Zunino, a spokesman for Pitchfork, the movement behind a wave of anti-austerity protests across Italy this week, said the country is a “now a slave of the bankers, like Rothschild” and that “five of the world’s six richest people are Jews”.

The farmer, from Biella in northern Italy, made the comments during an interview with the daily newspaper, La Repubblica.

Linkiesta sees a parallel:

Fascism at the end of a pitchfork

The “Forconi movement” – meaning pitchfork waving protesters – that has been paralysing Italian cities for days has taken almost everyone by surprise. But their non-partisan protests against austerity and elites hide echoes of the start of Mussolini’s authoritarianism.

Here’s the accompanying editorial cartoon by Mauro Biani:

‘March on Rome’

After the jump, the Greek meltdown, Ukrainian crisis, Moscow anxieties, Indian economic woes, Bangladeshi turmoil, Chinese neoliberalism, Japanese economic anxiety, environmental woes, and the latest Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . .

Greek Reporter gives our first Hellenic headline:

German Social Democrats Propose New Memorandum for Greece

Even before the appointment of the new coalition government, the German Social Democrats are making their intentions for Greece clear.

Carsten Schneider, the parliamentary spokesman of SPD, spoke to the Financial Times and clarified: “It is evident that there will be a new support program with conditions.”

ANA-MPA palavaers:

Government-troika continue talks on prior actions

The heads of the EU-IMF troika mission representing Greece’s creditors continued talks with Greek government ministers on Saturday regarding the four prior actions that must be met so that Greece can received the next tranches of bailout loans.

The four key issues that need to be wrapped up are: the restructuring of two Greek defence industries, Hellenic Defence Systems (EAS) and Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELVO), and the state mining and metals industry Larco; planned layoffs and public-sector downsizing; repaying state debts to the Athens and Thessaloniki water companies EYDAP and EYATh; and a new code of practice for lawyers.

The two sides must also make progress on the remaining issues concerning a bailout tranche of 4.9 billion euros.

New Europe demands:

And Tsipras demands debt relief

Greece to Troika – don’t push us

The Greek government and opposition leader warned Commissioner Rehn and the Troika not to continue applying pressure to the country, as a German newspaper says austerity is “sowing populism.”

The warning comes as Greece prepares to take over the presidency of the EU on 1 January 2014.

But To Vima sells it off:

Minister of Finances and troika agree to expedite privatizations

Stournaras and troika will meet again to discuss primary residence auctions, food VAT and EAS restructure

The Minister of Finances Yannis Stournaras met with the IMF, EU and ECB representatives this morning and came to an agreement to expedite the privatization procedures. According to the agreement between the Minister and troika representatives, the Greek state will have to collect about 1.3 billion euros from the privatizations this year

From MacroPolis, a banking plus:

Banks’ reliance on Eurosystem funding eases for seventh straight month in Nov

Greek banks’ Eurosystem funding, the combined liquidity they have received from the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Greece (BoG) Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) mechanism, marginally eased by 0.33 billion euros in November, according to the BoG’s monthly financial statement.

Monthly movement reflects an increase in ELA funding by 1.46 billion euros to 9.42 billion and a drop in ECB funding by 1.80 billion to 60.68 billion.

Greek Reporter surges ahead:

New Poll Shows SYRIZA in the Lead

A Metron Analysis opinion poll carried out on behalf of the newspaper “Avgi,” gives SYRIZA a 1.2 percent lead over New Democracy. Golden Dawn seems to be stable in third position with 7.2 percent, while the Democratic Left is below 3 percent which is the threshold needed to be in parliament.

In particular, the opinion poll places SYRIZA first with 21.2 percent. Second is New Democracy with 20 percent, followed by neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn in third place with 7.2 percent. The Independent Greeks party (ANEL) is fourth with 4.8 percent while PASOK is in fifth with 4.5 percent. Right behind the coalition party is the Greek Communist Party (KKE). DIMAR has just 2.7 percent and would therefore in theory be out of Parliament.

MacroPolis spots a potential schism:

SYRIZA’s left wing sticks to belief Greece should leave euro

The challenge SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras faces in balancing his effort to prepare his party for power while taming or satisfying its more radical elements has been emphasised again after the group’s left wing rekindled the debate about Greece leaving the euro.

A statement by the Left Platform, a faction within SYRIZA led by MP Panayiotis Lafazanis, on Sunday called for SYRIZA to reconsider its position on the euro.

Kathimerini English finds a strong ally for the number three polling party:

Leader of Greece’s Golden Dawn party lists ‘friendly’ bishops in video

Video footage of Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos discussing with friends which Greek Orthodox bishops helped the neo-Nazi party, including getting elderly people to vote for it in last year’s elections, was found on one of the computers seized by authorities from the homes of the group’s MPs.

It emerged on Friday that magistrates investigating Golden Dawn have seen the video, which was posted on some news websites.

And from Greek Reporter, Golden Dunderheads:

Golden Dawn Protests Against Mosque in Athens Greece

Supporters and members of the Greek Neo- Nazi party, Golden Dawn, attended a marching protest against the construction of a Mosque in central Athens.

Thirteen years after the project was announced by the Greek government, an architect for the construction of the Mosque has finally been chosen. Five previous attempts to find a builder had halted due to hostile reactions of extremist and fanatical Greek Orthodox Christians. In order to pray, the community of Muslims are using apartments; the construction of a Mosque will help the Muslims who live in Athens congregate.

The Mosque will be constructed without a minaret in an attempt to minimize the reactions among the fanatical Christians.

Neos Kosmos spolts an austerian symptom:

Thousands of children unvaccinated

Thousands of children in Greece have been left unvaccinated because they and their parents have no health insurance, the Greek section of an international humanitarian aid organisation has said.

“Uninsured children who are unvaccinated are in imminent danger. Apart from the threat to their own health, they face exclusion from school because there are directives saying unvaccinated children cannot attend school, Nikitas Kanakis of Médecins du Monde said, in an interview with Sto Kokkino radio.

And from Kathimerini English, rejection:

Amnesty slams Greece for pushbacks

Police and coast guard accused of ill-treating Syrian asylum-seekers

Greek police and coast guard officers are systematically ill-treating would-be refugees from Syria, according to an Amnesty International report published on Friday which documents firsthand accounts of pushbacks after violent beatings and confiscations of personal belongings without any due process.

The report by the human rights watchdog, titled “An International Failure: The Syrian Refugee Crisis,” quotes a 32-year-old Syrian man describing how he and his mother, part of a group of 35 people, were pushed back to Turkey by the Greek coast guard on October 6.

Greek Reporter again, with a paternal plea:

Father’s Desperate Plea for Heater

A 42 year-old, unemployed father published an advertisement asking for a heating device in order to heat his home.

The ad read: “Please, I need a heater. I’m unemployed, I have two children and my house has no heating. I’m not doing this for me but for my children. I can’t see them suffering from the cold.”

And To Vima alarms:

POMIDA claims real estate tax is non-constitutional

Real estate owner federation believes tax will kill off middle class, construction and real estate market

The nationwide federation of real estate owners POMIDA has responded to the government’s real estate tax bill which was submitted in Parliament yesterday and commented that it will bring an end to the middle class, the construction sector and the real estate market. The federation notes that the government’s tax bill is unconstitutional since it prohibits taxpayers from appealing to the courts without having acquired a certificate for a Directory of Financial Services.

On to the Ukraine, first with a suspension from FRANCE 24:

Kiev mayor suspended amid pro and anti-government rallies

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich Saturday gave into one of the demands of the protestors gripping the capital Kiev by suspending the city’s mayor.

Kiev city chief Oleksandr Popov and deputy head of the National Security Council Volodymyr Syvkovych will both be removed from duty while an investigation is carried out into an alleged abuse of office over a violent police crackdown on protesters last month.

BBC News liberates:

Ukraine court frees protesters held after Kiev clashes

A Ukrainian court has freed nine people arrested during clashes between pro-EU protesters and riot police, a key demand of the protest movement.

The nine were arrested during a violent crackdown on 30 November to drive protesters away from the presidential administration in the capital Kiev.

Deutsche Welle draws the line:

Protesters prepare for more confrontation

Some degree of calm has returned to Ukraine following massive police intervention against anti-government protesters in Kyiv. However, fearing renewed police actions, demonstrators have reinforced their barricades.

And Quartz sees opportunity:

Crisis capital

“Buy when there’s blood on the streets”—investors in Ukraine are taking the advice literally

Baron Rothschild’s purported adage on investing, “buy when there’s blood in the streets,” is generally taken as a euphemism by contrarian investors. But as the anti-government protests in Ukraine enter their fourth week, with sporadic bouts of violence, some bond investors are taking the advice literally.

CNN profers:

Ukrainian President offers amnesty to protesters

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych offered amnesty to the protesters detained after mass anti-government rallies in Kiev, the President’s office said Friday.

Yanukovych said authorities should “release the arrested people and even those who have already been convicted. We should put an end to this conflict.”

Xinhua compromises:

Ukrainian authorities, protests leaders reach moderate understanding over crisis

The first talks between Ukrainian authorities and opposition since start of pro-European protests ended Friday with moderate understanding between the sides.

The negotiators from the authorities were led by President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, and the opposition by three protests leaders — Vitali Klitschko, Arseny Yatsenyuk, and Oleg Tyangybok.

And there’s this from Spiegel:

Ukraine Protests: Kiev Makes U-Turn on EU Association Deal

The government of embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has signaled that an association agreement with the EU may now be signed after all. The reversal follows weeks of street protests in Kiev and mounting Western pressure.

euronews rallies with loaded language:

Protesters gathering in Kyiv ahead of mass demonstrations on Sunday

Supporters of both the opposition and government in Ukraine have been streaming into Kyiv ahead of mass rally’s planned for Sunday. The country’s Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, addressed thousands of demonstrators gathered at Europe Square just hundreds of metres from the heart of the anti-government protests.

He told the crowd that they have to “fulfil certain conditions” such as legalising same-sex marraige. He then asked whether Ukranians “were ready to adopt an equal rights law for sexual minorities?” An overwhelming “no” could be heard from the thousands of government supporters.

Bloomberg prepares:

Ukraine Braces for Competing Protests as Talks Fail

Ukrainians are bracing for competing demonstrations in Kiev tomorrow pitting the anti-government camp against supporters of President Viktor Yanukovych.

And the Christian Science Monitor takes offense:

Russia cries foul over Western embrace of Ukraine’s demonstrators

Russian officials and media see Western condemnations of police behavior in Kiev as hypocritical, and are not impressed by their Western counterparts’ visits to protest camps.

On to Russia, with a crackdown from the Moscow Times:

Putin, Facing Sputtering Economy, Declares a Tax Crackdown

President Vladimir Putin capped off a year of aggressively seeking to fill the government’s coffers by announcing Thursday that the government would begin to tax Russian offshore companies and no longer support foreign-registered enterprises.

Praising Russia’s improving business environment, Putin also used his annual Constitution Day speech to highlight the strategic importance of developing businesses in Siberia and the Far East and the need to lift export barriers, reform the education system and provide tax breaks to regions that support business development.

Spiegel offers this interpretation:

Russia in Stagnation: Putin Speech Hints at Big Problems

In his annual state of the nation address on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about the need to rein in corruption and called for technological progress. But he also hinted at the bigger problems that will plague his country in years to come.

And Aviation Week rearms:

Pace Of Russian Rearmament Quickens

A massive modernization push is imminent for Russian aerospace defense: The air force alone could receive 4.5 trillion rubles ($136 billion) over 10 years, about one-quarter of the overall drive to upgrade Russia’s Soviet-era weaponry.

While the Moscow News goes for the banksters:

Russian regulator shuts three more banks in crackdown

Russia’s financial regulator revoked the banking licenses of three mid-sized banks Friday as authorities expand a banking sector crackdown

And the Moscow News displays intolerance:

Star of Russian ‘Scrubs’ urges burning gays alive

A star in Russia’s popular answer to US medical sitcom “Scrubs” has added to mounting mood of homophobia in the country by saying he wants to burn gay people alive as they pose a danger to his children.

“I’d put them all alive in the oven… it’s a living danger to my children,” Ivan Okhlobystin said at a chat with fans in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

On to Latin America with bowl full of angry from MercoPress:

Pot fumes: Mujica calls UN official, ‘liar’, after he accused Uruguay of ‘pirate attitudes’

President Jose Mujica reacted furiously to the accusation of Uruguay as a ‘pirate state’ from the UN official in charge of drugs’ control, who was protesting the legalization of marihuana and because allegedly he was never received by the Uruguayan leader. Mujica bluntly replied, leaving aside all nice talk, “tell that old man to stop lying and stop showing off to the stands”.

Greek Reporter delivers an ally:

Greek Former PM George Papandreou Favors Marijuana’s Legalization

In an article entitled “An innovative approach to the use of marijuana,” which was uploaded on Mr. George Papandreou’s personal website, the former Prime Minister of Greece congratulates Uruguay’s government on how it handled the issue of marijuana’s legalization.

In fact, the former Prime Minister refers to it as an “innovative approach” which releases abusers from the grip of the drug cartels.  He goes on to describe it as “a gesture of immense impact.” He also suggests that the approach of the leftist government of Uruguay “should be closely followed not only because of its openness, but for the lessons that can be learned in dealing with the major issue of drugs.”

The Argentina Independent lays off:

Public Prosecutor Suspended for ‘Abuse of Power’

Public prosecutor José María Campagnoli was suspended from his duties yesterday for “abuse of power” and “poor performance” by an impeachment tribunal.

The suspension request came from Attorney General Alejandra Gils Carbó, who accused Campagnoli of abusing his authority by improperly conducting a parallel investigation into the alleged capital flight by a financial firm belonging to businessman Lázaro Báez, who had close ties with former president, Néstor Kirchner.

MercoPress divides:

Argentina: compensation to security forces that helped contain police protests and looting

Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich confirmed on Friday that President Cristina Fernández will announce next week an “economic and financial recognition” to the members of national security forces following the deployment of 12,000 agents across the country to counter the impacts of the police protests and lootings that hit almost all Argentine provinces over the past days.

And BBC News protests:

Thousands march for sacked Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro

Tens of thousands of people in Colombia have been taking part in a demonstration in support of the sacked mayor of Bogota, Gustavo Petro.

Colombia’s Inspector General, Alejandro Ordonez, announced on Monday that Mr Petro would have to leave office over the alleged mismanagement of the capital’s rubbish collection service.

MercoPress tapers, sort of:

Brazil to lower economy stimulus beginning with subsidized credit lines

Brazil will raise interest rates on some state-subsidized credit lines in 2014 withdrawing part of the stimulus that helped boost investments but also hurt public finances this year. Interest rates on loans for the purchase of capital goods and trucks will climb to 6% per year, from 4%, while a special credit line for exports will climb to 8% from 5.5%.

On to Asia, first with a warning from the Financial Express:

Indian stock market lacks depth, over-dependent on FIIs: Assocham study

The Indian stock market lacks depth and is excessively dependent on Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs), while retail investor participation is poor, according to an Assocham study.

“The result of lack of depth in the market is that it has become a bourse for the global hot money investors who are driven by a set of issues, especially the tapering timings of the US Federal Reserve,” the study said.

The Economic Times limits:

Chidambaram says some functions of RBI need to be revisited

Finance Minister P Chidambaram today pitched for limiting the Reserve Bank’s mandate to monetary policy formulation and banking regulation, and for delegating its other functions to government or other regulators.

“It (RBI) is the monetary authority and it will be a regulator of banks, but all other functions I think should be revisited and we should ask ourselves whether RBI is the best authority to discharge those functions or is there any other authority in the system which can take over those functions or is it necessary to create a separate authority,” Chidambaram told a panel discussion on the occasion of celebrating the 20th anniversary of NSE here.

The Financial Express pares:

Reserve Bank of India likely to cut policy rates at its June 17 meeting: Experts

Barclays further added that we expect the repo rate to be cut to 7 per cent (another 25 bp cut).

And the Economic Times recalibrates:

RBI panel on monetary policy may set CPI as main gauge: Nomura

Japanese brokerage Nomura today said the Reserve Bank committee on monetary policy framework may declare ensuring price stability as the prime objective of the central banks’ policy.

“We expect the committee to recommend a move towards price stability — low and stable inflation as the sole policy objective — instead of t

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