Greece draws battle lines over bailout

The new Greek government has taken a defiant stance on the country’s debt obligations, saying it will not negotiate existing bailout conditions with the three entities who put the 2010 agreement in place – the European Commission, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) – but rather wants direct talks with European leaders in a bid to cancel more than half the money Greece owes.

Greece:EPA                       (The Eurogroup’s Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Yanis Varoufakis at their tense press conference Friday night – EPA/Irish Times)

Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said the “logic” of austerity had been repudiated when the Syriza party, under new prime minister Alexis Tsipras, won Sunday’s election. German finance minister Wolfgang Schaubel, meanwhile, said that Germany “was averse to blackmail.

According to The Economist the stakes are high, and “it could all get very messy.” The paper says:

Greek voters may be living in a fool’s paradise if they think Mr Tsipras can deliver what he says, but the Germans too have to look at the consequences of their obstinacy.

Greece has a Feb 28 deadline with its lenders, so watch this space.

Peace talks between the sides in the Ukraine conflict were called off on Friday after an upsurge in heavy fighting in the east of the country.

US Central Command said a US air strike had killed an ISIS chemical weapons specialist near Mosul in Iraq last week.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that the CIA and Mossad killed a senior Hezbollah figure in an elaborate car bombing in Syria in 2008, details of which have just come to light.

Voting for a new President in Italy moves to its final decisive round on Saturday after a single candidate failed to emerge after lawmakers’ second vote on Friday.

Saudi Arabia postponed for a second time the flogging of blogger Raif Badawi. No reason was immediately given.

The outbreak of measles centered in California continues to spread, with more than 100 cases now confirmed.

* POLITICS * Mitt Romney eventually decided against a third run at the Presidency, saying in a conference call with reporters that it was “time to give the next generation a chance to lead.” The New York Times said:

The news on Friday that Mr. Romney would opt out of the race revealed as much about the party in 2015 as it did about the former Massachusetts governor’s weaknesses as a candidate. Republican leaders, especially the party’s wealthiest donors, are in an impatient and determined mood. They are eager to turn to a new face they believe can defeat what they anticipate will be a strong, well-funded Democratic opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

* BUSINESS * Shake Shack’s share price more than doubled on its NYSE debut, turning Danny Meyer’s “burger joint that began 14 years ago in a hot-dog cart [into] a $1.7 billion behemoth.”

Qatar Airways became the biggest shareholder in IAG, the airline group that owns British Airways and Iberia, and is in the process of bidding for Aer Lingus.

* MEDIA * Henry Blodget explains why Michael Bloomberg should buy The New York Times, even if it isn’t for sale.

The Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Futures Lab goes to meet Mashable and see how it’s attracting the “connected generation.”

Wired writes about investor Steven Klinsky and the “grand plan to give everyone a free year of online college.”

The AP’s “robot journalism” project is in full swing.

* SPORTS * Ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held his annual press conference, stressing that the organization had “done a lot of soul searching this year” and saying he had no intention of resigning. But the Commissioner again managed to draw the wrong kind of headlines with his responses to CNN reporter Rachel Nichols.

Meanwhile, Ben Affleck, Mat Damon and others admitted to being behind DeflateGate.

Ernie Banks’ memorial service will be held in Chicago on Saturday, what would have been his 84th birthday. The subsequent procession route will pass his statue, currently in Daley Plaza, and, of course, Wrigley Field.

wrigley(image: CelebrityFeed)


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