ECB could pump €1tn into eurozone; Obama seeks $3bn for air war against ISIS; Twenty five years after the German wall

1 ECB could pump €1trn into Eurozone (Angela Monaghan & Phillip Inman in The Guardian) The European Central Bank is ready to pump up to €1tn of fresh stimulus into the flagging eurozone economy to ward off a dangerous deflationary spiral, ECB president Mario Draghi has signalled.

Draghi said that the bank’s governing council was unanimously willing to announce more unconventional measures, signalling the possibility of creating electronic money – or quantitative easing – should a deteriorating economy make it necessary. “Should it become necessary to further address risks of too prolonged a period of low inflation, the governing council is unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional instruments within its mandate”, he said.

Eurozone inflation is 0.4%, far short of the central bank’s target of close to 2%. Separately, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned in a stinging report that France, Germany and Italy must agree to jolt the eurozone economy back to life or face a long period of low growth, low inflation and an increasing debt burden.

2 Obama seeks $3bn for air war against ISIS (Straits Times) US President Barack Obama will ask lawmakers for an additional $3.2 billion to pay for the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including funds to train and arm Baghdad government forces, officials said on Thursday.

The funds will help cover the cost of replacing bombs in the weeks-long US-led air campaign against ISIS jihadists and assistance for Iraqi army troops and Kurdish forces battling the ISIS on the ground, two defence officials said.

The air war in Syria and Iraq – which commanders say could last years – has involved thousands of sorties and hundreds of bombing raids, at a daily cost of $8.3 million, according to the Pentagon. But independent analysts say the price tag is higher if the full cost of the air operations are taken into account, particularly numerous flights by sophisticated surveillance aircraft. According to the Pentagon, the air war – dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve – cost $580 million as of Oct 16.

3 Twenty five years after the German wall (Mahir Ali in Khaleej Times) It was 25 years ago this week that the wall came tumbling down. It didn’t exactly crumble until the bulldozers came to the party, but ordinary folks were able to begin chipping away at it with little danger of being shot down. No other structure defined the Cold War quite so solidly, and seemingly ineradicably.

Back in the early 1960s, when the wall was a novelty, young Germans got killed trying to climb over or dig under it. US president John F. Kennedy told his aides in 1961 that it wasn’t “a very nice solution, but a wall is a helluva lot better than a war”.

Just as the wall symbolised the Cold War, its downfall 28 years later was a crucial juncture in the remarkable transformation that occurred during the latter half of the 1980s, beginning with Mikhail Gorbachev’s ascent to the pinnacle of the Soviet hierarchy in 1985. Gorby, as he popularly became known in the West, had realised that the Soviet Union’s claim to being a workers’ paradise was substantially spurious.

The fact that many East European countries have veered to the opposite end of the ideological spectrum — with Hungary a clear example, while Poland and the Czech Republic have attracted ignominy by collaborating with the CIA’s extrajudicial activities — is one of many unfortunate consequences of the process that acquired unstoppable momentum 25 years ago this week.

And the existence, meanwhile, of pockets of nostalgia for the verities of the communist past across Eastern Europe and Russia is a reminder that the baby was thrown out with the bathwater, making it necessary for the post-capitalist path to be delineated once more.

It’s been a largely unrewarding process so far. It is not inconceivable, though, that shocks to the system roughly equivalent to the demolition of the Berlin Wall could usher in a more constructive phase in the progress of the 21st century.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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