As the next round of negotiations to try and keep Greece in the European Union get underway, a tangible solution is still not evident, but the sense of despair locally is palpable.

Looking out from the heart of the Cyclades at the glassily calm, crystal clear Agean Sea it takes some imagination to marry this most popular of tourist destinations with the desperation and turmoil that rocks the entire country - islands and all.

Greece extends bank closures; Chinese stock market rises after 10 days of falling prices; US and Japanese officials meet ahead of TPP meeting; Syrian refugees top four million; Nigerian troops arrest bombing 'mastermind' responsible for 69 deaths; and more

There's a lot of upside down politics in the Solid Energy saga, but at the end of the tunnel it's all about the next election

"Show me the money", John Key hooted at Phil Goff in the 2011 election campaign, painting Labour as a party of loose financial discipline. Can you trust a party that doesn't know how to get out of deficit, wants to tinker with vege taxes and create tax-free zones, he asked voters. And they said no.

Selling state-owned assets isn't a growth plan, in fact it makes debt worse

Whatever side of the politics you sit on asset sales, no-one except the government thinks this is a good time to sell. 

But they’ve already banked the $7 billion they expect from the sale. They need it to look real before the May budget, and be over by the next election. Timelines are being set by politics - not by the best interest of the country. 

Debt's bad, right? So why is National asking our best and brightest to take on more if they want to get smarter?

Steven Joyce is one of the smoothest operators in politics - whether you agree with him or not, he's gets is evidential ducks in a row and you can only guess at the number of spreadsheets he's crafted to back his decisions. Which is why the twisted nature of his student allowance reforms is kind of surprising.

How twisted, you ask?