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from MacroScope:

ECB in the dock

Protestors left some barbed wire in front of the euro sign landmark outside the headquarters of the ECB before its monthly news conference in Frankfurt

The European Court of Justice holds a first hearing on the legality of the European Central Bank's Outright Monetary Transactions programme. There won’t be anything definitive today but it serves to rekindle debate about the limits of the ECB’s powers.

In February, the German Constitutional Court asked the European Court to rule on the legality of OMT, the mechanism that drew a line under the euro zone crisis when it was unveiled in 2012. The court may give guidance about how best to make a final ruling which is expected in late spring next year.

The scheme has never been deployed because the mere threat of action prompted government borrowing costs to tumble to record lows. Now, the debate is centred on whether the central bank should start printing money to ward off a deflationary downward spiral.

If its bond-buying scheme was thrown out by the EU court, or German participation rejected by Germany’s constitutional court – something most legal experts think is unlikely – it would put a serious crack in the edifice and perhaps prompt markets to start testing the euro zone’s defences once again.

from The Great Debate:

Staying on the sidelines: In fight for Kobani, Turkey doesn’t see any good guys

Turkish Kurds watch the Syrian town of Kobani from near the Mursitpinar border crossing

ISTANBUL -- Mayhem and civil war in Syria has become a grim spectator sport on the Turkish side of the border. Turkish Kurds gather on the hilltops overlooking the smoldering Syrian town of Kobani, under siege from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. They cheer and sing patriotic songs, certain that the town’s defenders, Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units, hear them and take heart.

But they are not just there to watch. It is all part of a well-organized effort to stop the Islamic State from gaining reinforcements and new fighters from the Turkish side of the border. The simple truth is that Turkey’s Kurds do not believe their government is impartial in the fight. Many believe Turkey is actively conspiring to bring about the destruction of a “free zone” of Kurdish aspirations.

from MacroScope:

A first for British politics

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP drinks a pint of beer in the Gardeners Arms pub in Heywood near Manchester

By this time tomorrow, the anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party is likely to be celebrating its first member of the Westminster parliament. Polls have just opened in the deprived seaside town of Clacton where the sitting Conservative lawmaker switched to UKIP and called a vote.

A second member of the ruling Conservative party has now defected to UKIP and will force another by-election before long leaving the party on tenterhooks over who might be next. Many fear they will lose their seats at the May 2015 general election as UKIP splits their vote.

from MacroScope:

Shocking German figures

A new Mercedes AMG GT super sports car rim is seen during a factory tour for journalists at the Mercedes AMG headquarters in Affalterbach

After a stunning fall in German industrial orders for August – the 5.7 percent monthly drop was the largest since the global financial crisis raged in 2009 – industrial output for the same month has just plunged by 4.0 percent, also the biggest fall in five years.

After Europe’s largest economy shrank in the second quarter there had been hope of a pick-up in the following three months but the thrust of recent data suggests it will be lucky to achieve any expansion at all.

from MacroScope:

Turkey poised to intervene?

Iraqi Shi'ite militia fighters stand atop destroyed vehicles belonging to Islamic State militants outside Bo Hassan village near Tikrit

Turkey's parliament has voted to give the government a green light to order military action against Islamic State as the insurgents tightened their grip on a Syrian border town, sending thousands more Kurdish refugees into Turkey.

There is little sign of it being put into imminent use but the vote gives the government powers to order incursions into Syria and Iraq to counter the threat of attack "from all terrorist groups". By common consent, western air strikes alone are unlikely to vanquish IS and there is a great deal of doubt that Syrian and Iraqi forces can best them on the ground.

from The Great Debate:

NATO allies must work closely together, but do their missile defense systems?

Patriot_missile_launch_b 

Since few nations can go it alone militarily, alliances are now crucial for ensuring security. To mount a common defense, allies need weapon systems that can operate together. In military parlance, the ability to work with other systems and  share data with them as if they were one system is known as “interoperability.”

Poland and Turkey, both members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, are shopping for an air- and missile-defense system, and interoperability should be front and center in their impending procurement decisions (7.5B Euro and 2.9B Euro, respectively).

from Photographers' Blog:

Abandoned on the border

Suruc, Turkey

By Murad Sezer

A new crossing point was set up along the Turkish-Syrian border last week by the government of Turkey, where humanitarian agencies and the Red Crescent offered first aid and registered the new arrivals.

The frontier was normally a hive of activity, with wailing children and families desperately trying to carry whatever they could manage across the dusty terrain. Heavily armed security officers patrolled the border and police would search bags before the refugees passed into Turkey.

from Full Focus:

Fleeing the Islamic State

Refugees from Syria flood into Turkey and Lebanon to escape advancing Islamic State militants.

from Photographers' Blog:

Fleeing Islamic State

Suruc, Turkey
By Murad Sezer

Tens of thousands of Kurdish Syrians have fled Islamic State and flocked to the Turkish border. Most of them are from the Syrian border town Kobani and its surrounding villages, where the group’s fighters have launched attacks, but other refugees have travelled from further away.

A Kurdish Syrian refugee waits for transport during a sand storm on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc

They arrive at the border, tired, miserable and desperate for water, but many have to wait days before they are allowed to cross into Turkey.

from MacroScope:

Britain back on board for action in Iraq

An Iraqi SWAT trooper covers his ears as he fires a mortar bomb during clashes with Islamic State militants, north of Muqdadiyah

U.S. air strikes in Syria continued overnight with a monitoring group saying at least 14 Islamic State fighters were killed.

Having sat out so far, Britain said it would join strikes against militants but only in Iraq for now – which has asked for such help – not Syria. IS holds swathes of land in both countries.

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