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Greece Drama, Nuke Deal Close, Blatter Blasts Sarkozy

Greece Drama, Nuke Deal Close, Blatter Blasts Sarkozy

Photo: Wang Yuguo/Zuma

GREEKS SAY “OXI,” VAROUFAKIS SAYS BYE-BYE

Greek voters overwhelmingly rejected a bailout-extension that would prolong or increase austerity measures, with more than 61% voting “Oxi,” the Greek word for no. The result, which was followed by large celebrations across Greece is a major defeat for the European Union and the Eurogroup, where leaders had insisted a “no” vote would mean Greece leaving the single currency area. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hailed the vote, and said his country was instead ready to return to the negotiating table to try to find a deal that would keep Greece in the Eurozone. See how 37 newspapers around Europe and the worldfeatured the Greek story.

  • In an unexpected development, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis announced early Monday morning that he was stepping down from his post, despite Syriza’s clear victory. “I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings,” Varoufakis wrote in a blog post entitled “Minister no more,” suggesting Eurozone pressures had led him to resign and suggesting the move might help Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the upcoming negotiations. His expected replacement is Oxford-educated economist Euclid Tsakalotos, who has had a lead role coordinating negotiations. Tsakalotos is said to be closer to Syriza’s left and more radical than his predecessor.
  • It’s still unclear whether Greek banks will reopen Tuesday as planned and a European Central Bank decision on whether to continue providing liquidity to Greek banks will be crucial.
  • The reaction of other Eurogroup leaders at a meeting tomorrow will also indicate if a new, austerity-free deal and a debt relief are possible, with Germany particularly eager to avoid a Greek-scenario in other struggling and debt-ridden economies such as Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy. A spokesman for the German government said that it was up to Greece to make new proposals, but ruled out a debt cut.
  • Analysts believe that yesterday’s vote has increased the possibility of a Grexit. In his New York Times column, Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman goes one step further and says leaving the Eurozone would be “the only plausible escape route from Greece’s endless economic nightmare.”

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Writing in leading French business daily Les Echos Nicolas Barré warns of the consequences of Sunday’s ‘No’ vote in Greece. “The result is disastrous. From now on, the European Central Bank (ECB) is on the front line, having to play the firefighter for a state that deems the debts it owes to its European neighbors illegitimate, but is also in a rush, every day, like it did again on Sunday evening, to ask the ECB a few extra billions to save its banks.This performance cannot go on. If a referendum took place in Europe, how many countries would still accept to support Greece?” Read the full article: Greece, The Tragic Meaning Of That "No"


U.S. TEAM WINS WOMEN’S WORLD CUP

The United States won the Women’s Soccer World Cup, beating Japan in Sunday’s final 5-2.


BAGHDAD ACCIDENTALLY BOMBED

At least seven people were killed in Baghdad this morning after an Iraqi warplane bombed the capital by mistake. Security officials quoted by AFP blamed “technical problems.”


IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL IN SIGHT?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a deal with Iran on the country’s nuclear energy program could be reached by Tuesday’s target date, though progress still has to be made “on several of the most difficult issues,”The New York Times quotes him as saying. Speaking from Vienna, he warned that “this negotiation could go either way.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed similar feelings late yesterday and said negotiators were “making efforts to resolve some remaining differences,” news agency Tasnim reports.


BOKO HARAM BOMBS CAP BLOODY WEEK

A twin explosion at a crowded mosque and a Muslim restaurant in the central Nigerian city of Jos yesterday evening killed at least 44 people, AP reports, citing an emergency agency official. The attack, believed to have been carried out by Islamist group Boko Haram, came hours after a suicide bomber killed 5 worshippers in a church in the country’s northeastern region. About 250 people have died in Boko Haram attacks over the past week.


1 MILLION

Pope Francis arrived yesterday in Ecuador where he will today celebrate a mass that is expected to draw more than 1 million worshippers. The nine-day Latin American tour will then take the pontiff to Bolivia and Paraguay.


MORE DILMA-SPYING REVELATIONS

The NSA’s spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff went beyond her personal phone and included the presidential plane’s telephone as well as the numbers of top political and financial officials, Wikileaks and The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald reported on Saturday. The revelation is ill-timed for Dilma, coming just one day after she returned from a week-long visit to the U.S., two years after cancelling a similar state visit following initial revelations she was spied on.


ANTI-ISIS COALITION BOMBS GROUP’S SYRIAN “CAPITAL”

The U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition conducted a series of airstrikes in the ISIS Syrian stronghold of Raqqa that CBS News says were “rare in their intensity” with 16 reported strikes. At least 23 ISIS fighters were killed in the attack, the BBC quotes the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying. The Syrian army is meanwhile gaining ground on the western front, with AFP reporting that troops backed by Lebanon’s Shia Muslim group Hezbollah are moving closer to taking the last city on the Lebanese border held by their opponents.


ON THIS DAY


French researcher Louis Pasteur and American rapper 50 Cent are part of our 57-second history report for July 6.


VERBATIM

“Please, be kind,” The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart told the audience in Chicago, closing up what the legendary band said would be their last concert. Read the full story from The New York Times.


BLATTER BLASTS SARKOZY AND WULFF

In an interview with Germany’s Welt am Sonntag, FIFA President Sepp Blatter (who may or may not be on his way out later this year as a corruption probe around him tightens) said former French and German Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Christian Wulff influenced the December 2010 vote that awarded Qatar the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Read more in English from France 24.

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Coronavirus

Where Lockdowns For LGBTQ Meant Moving Back In With Homophobic Relatives

The confinement experience could turn brutal for those forced to live with relatives who would not tolerate a member of the family living their sexual orientation openly as a young adult. Here are stories from urban and rural India.

At a Rainbow pride walk in Kolkata, India

Sreemanti Sengupta

Abhijith had been working as a radio jockey in the southern Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, 2020. When the government imposed a nationwide lockdown, Abhijith returned to the rural Pathanamthitta district , where his parents live with an extended family, including uncles, cousins and grandparents.

Eighteen months later, he recalled that the experience was "unbearable" because he had to live with homophobic relatives. "Apart from the frequent reference to my sexual 'abnormality', they took me to a guruji to 'cure' me," Abhijith recalled. "He gave me something to eat, which made me throw up. The guru assured me that I was throwing up whatever 'demon' was possessing me and 'making' me gay."


Early in 2021, Abhijith travelled back to Thiruvananthapuram, where he found support from the members of the queer collective.

Inspired by their work, he also decided to work towards uplifting the queer community. "I wish no one else goes through the mental trauma I have endured," said Abhijit.

Abhijith's story of mental distress arising from family abuse turns out to be all too common among members of India's LGBTQ+ community, many of whom were trapped in their homes and removed from peer support groups during the pandemic.

Oppressive home situations

As India continues to reel from a pandemic that has claimed more lives (235,524) in three months of the second wave (April-June 2021) than in the one year before that (162,960 deaths in March 2020-March 2021), the LGBTQ community has faced myriad problems. Sexual minorities have historically suffered from mainstream prejudice and the pandemic has aggravated socio-economic inequalities, instigated family and institutionalized abuse, apart from limiting access to essential care. This has resulted in acute mental distress which has overwhelmed queer support infrastructure across the country.

Speaking to queer collective representatives across India, I learned that the heightened levels of distress in the community was due to longstanding factors that were triggered under lockdown conditions. Family members who are intolerant of marginalized sexual identities, often tagging their orientation as a "disorder" or "just a phase", have always featured among the main perpetrators of subtle and overt forms of violence towards queer, trans and homosexual people.

Calls from lesbians and trans men to prevent forced marriages during lockdowns.

Sappho For Equality, a Kolkata-based feminist organization that works for the rights of sexually marginalized women and trans men, recorded a similar trend. Early in the first wave, the organization realized that the existing helpline number was getting overwhelmed with distress calls. It added a second helpline number. The comparative figures indicate a 13-fold jump in numbers: from 290 calls in April 2019-March 20 to 3,940 calls in April 2020-May 2021.

"Most of the calls we have been getting from lesbians and trans men are urgent appeals to prevent forced marriages during lockdowns," said Shreosi, a Sappho member and peer support provider. "If they happen to resist, they are either evicted or forced to flee home. But where to house them? There aren't so many shelters, and ours is at full capacity."

Shreosi says that the nature of distress calls has also changed. "Earlier people would call in for long-term help, such as professional mental health support. But during the pandemic, it has changed to immediate requests to rescue from oppressive home situations. Often, they will speak in whispers so that the parents can't hear."

Lack of spaces

Like many of his fellow queer community members, life for Sumit P., a 30-year-old gay man from Mumbai, has taken a turn for the worse. The lockdown has led to the loss of safe spaces and prolonged residence at home.

"It has been a really difficult time since the beginning of the lockdown. I am suffering from a lot of mental stress since I cannot freely express myself at home. Even while making a call, I have to check my surroundings to see if anybody is there. If I try to go out, my family demands an explanation. I feel suffocated," he said.

The pandemic has forced some queer people to come out

Sumit is also dealing with a risk that has hit the community harder than others – unemployment and income shortage. He's opened a cafe with two other queer friends, which is now running into losses. For others, pandemic-induced job losses have forced queer persons from all over the country to return to their home states and move in with their families who've turned abusive during this long period of confinement.

Lockdowns force coming out

According to Kolkata-based physician, filmmaker and gay rights activist Tirthankar Guha Thakurata, the pandemic has forced some queer people to come out, succumbing to rising discomfort and pressure exerted by homophobic families.

"In most cases, family relations sour when a person reveals their identity. But many do not flee home. They find a breathing space or 'space out' in their workspaces. In the absence of these spaces, mental problems rose significantly," he said.

Not being able to express themselves freely in front of parents who are hostile, intolerant and often address transgender persons by their deadname or misgender them has created situations of severe distress, suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

Psychiatrist and queer feminist activist Ranjita Biswas (she/they) cites an incident. A gender-nonconforming person died under suspicious circumstances just days after leaving their peer group and going home to their birth parents. The final rites were performed with them dressed in bangles and a saree.

"When a member of our community asked their mother why she chose a saree for someone who had worn androgynous clothes all their life, she plainly said it was natural because after all, the deceased 'was her daughter,'" Biswas recalls.

The Indian queer mental health support infrastructure, already compromised with historical prejudice, is now struggling

David Talukdar/ZUMA

"Correctional" therapy

In India, queer people's access to professional mental healthcare has been "very limited," according to community members such as Ankan Biswas, India's first transgender lawyer who has been working with the Human Rights Law Network in West Bengal.

"A large majority of the psychiatrists still consider homosexuality as a disorder and practice 'correctional therapy'. It's only around the big cities that some queer-friendly psychiatrists can be found," Biswas said. "The pandemic has further widened the inequalities in access to mental health support for India's LGBTQ community."

Biswas is spending anxious days fielding an overwhelming amount of calls and rescue requests from queer members trapped in their homes, undergoing mental, verbal and even physical torture. "We don't have the space, I just tell them to wait and bear it a little longer," he said.

Medical care is dismal

Anuradha Krishnan's story, though not involving birth family, outlines how the lack of physical support spaces have affected India's queer population. Abandoned by her birth family when she came out to them as a trans woman in 2017, Anuradha Krishnan (she/they), founder of Queerythm in Kerala who is studying dentistry, had to move into an accommodation with four other persons.

Isolation triggered my depression

"I am used to talking and hanging around with friends. Isolation triggered my depression and I had to seek psychiatric help." Living in cramped quarters did not help with quarantine requirements and all of them tested positive during the first wave.

What is deeply worrying is that the Indian queer mental health support infrastructure, already compromised with historical prejudice, is now struggling, placing more and more pressure on queer collectives and peer support groups whose resources are wearing thin.

During the 10 months of the first wave of the pandemic in India in 2020, Y'all, a queer collective based in Manipur, received about 1,000 distress calls on their helpline number from LGBTQ+ individuals. In May 2021 alone, they received 450 such calls (including texts and WhatsApp messages) indicating a telling escalation in the number of queer people seeking help during the second wave.

As India's queer-friendly mental health support infrastructure continues to be tested, Y'all founder, Sadam Hanjabam, a gay man, says, "Honestly, we are struggling to handle such a large number of calls, it is so overwhelming. We are also dealing with our own anxieties. We are burning out."

Sreemanti Sengupta is a freelance writer, poet, and media studies lecturer based in Kolkata.

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