World View: Hollande Lowers France’s Retirement Age

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

  • Kofi Annan tries a new Syria peace plan involving Iran, as his first one collapses
  • Hillary Clinton cool to working with Iran in Kofi Annan peace plan #2
  • Syria regime perpetrates a new massacre in Hama
  • France's Hollande lowers retirement age back to 60
  • Politicians condemn U.S. confirmation of Stuxnet virus authorship
  • Moody's cuts ratings on German and Austrian banks
  • Eurozone officials haggle over how to bail out Spain

Kofi Annan tries a new Syria peace plan involving Iran, as his first one collapses

Kofi Annan's six-point "peace plan" for Syria, announced in six weeks ago, has been a disaster for Syria, and arguably has actually increased the violence. It provided a figleaf for Syria's president Bashar al-Assad to actually perpetrate increasingly brutal violence while saying that he supports the peace plan, and for Russia, China and Iran to continue to provide political support and weapons to allow Assad to continue to his extermination policies. Particularly after last week's horrific slaughter in Houla, the figleaf has dissolved, and it's clear to pretty much everyone that the Annan plan is at best worthless.

Annan's new proposal is for the creation of a "contact group" of of nations:

  • The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- U.S., Russia, China, France, Germany
  • Prominent members of the Arab League - Saudi Arabia and Qatar
  • Turkey
  • Iran

The main object of Annan's new proposal is to get Russia to commit to the idea of forcing al-Assad to step down. Russia has, in fact, hinted that they would not object to al-Assad stepping down, provided that Russia's commercial interests are protected in whatever new regime takes its place.

However, it's very unlikely that Iran will cooperate with this plan. Iran has been vigorously supporting al-Assad's violence for reasons that go well beyond commercial interests -- Iran, Hizbollah and Assad are the main Shia belligerents in the growing Shia versus Sunni conflict in the Mideast. Reuters

Hillary Clinton cool to working with Iran in Kofi Annan peace plan #2

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was cool to the idea of bringing Iran into the discussions over a peace plan for Syria:

"It's a little hard to imagine inviting a country that is stage managing the Assad regime's assault on its people."

The new Kofi Annan peace plan would give Iran new political prominence, at a time when there are serious disagreements over Iran's nuclear enrichment programs. However, this comes at a time when Russia's president Vladimir Putin says that he wants to act as mediator between the U.S. and Iran. AFP and Moscow Times

Syria regime perpetrates a new massacre in Hama

Syrian activists said Wednesday pro-government militia and security forces killed at least 78 people, including women and children, in the central province of Hama. They said some of those killed in the villages of al-Kubeir and Maazarif were stabbed to death and at least 12 bodies were burned. The Bashar al-Assad regime followed its standard pattern: Gangs of "Shabiha" criminals and thugs armed with guns and knives carry out the attack after regular Syrian troops shell the area. VOA

France's Hollande lowers retirement age back to 60

France's new Socialist Party president François Hollande is reversing one of the austerity measures passed by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. Hollande issued a decree lowering the retirement age from 62 to 60, allowing some workers to retire at age 60 on a full pension. Sarkozy's administration had raised the retirement age from 60 to 62 after France face worldwide ridicule for allowing people at age 60 to retire with a full pension in the midst of a financial crisis. One of Hollande's campaign promises was to promote economic growth, but it's hard for me at least to see how letting people retire at age 60 with a full pension promotes growth. Expatica France/AFP

Politicians condemn U.S. confirmation of Stuxnet virus authorship

As we reported last week, U.S. officials confirmed authorship of Stuxnet computer virus that attacked Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Both Democrats and Republicans have been condemning this security leak, since it's an admission of an act of cyber-warfare, and it invites a retaliatory attack. Republicans were particularly critical, especially John McCain, accusing the President Obama's administration of purposely leaking the information in order to strengthen his foreign policy credentials in an election year. Whatever the reason, this official confirmation is a potential disaster. The Hill

Moody's cuts ratings on German and Austrian banks

The Moody's credit rating agency downgraded the credit ratings of six German banks because of "the increased risk of further shocks emanating from the euro area debt crisis, in combination with the banks’ limited loss-absorption capacity." Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank, is still being reviewed by Moody’s and could also have its rating cut. According to Moody's, these German banks have only a small cushion of equity to withstand shocks -- such as might occur if Greece leaves the eurozone. Telegraph

Eurozone officials haggle over how to bail out Spain

Although Spain's politicians are insisting that Spain has no intention of requesting an EU bailout, few people doubt that Spain banks will, in fact, require a bailout very soon. The haggling going on behind the scenes is over how the bailout is to take place. Normally, Spain would receive a bailout, and would use the money to recapitalize its banks, but Spain does not want to do that, since the debt would be Spain's books, and the bailout would come with annoying austerity demands. Instead, Spain wants the bailout money to go directly to the banks. German officials are opposed to this for obvious reasons -- an individual bank could declare bankruptcy at any time and avoid repaying the debt, something that's much more difficult for a nation. Independent