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SPOTLIGHT: GREECE REDUX

It's that time of year again: Greek anger and economic strife are making headlines: general strikes, bailout reviews, anti-austerity reforms. But a recent study looking to the recent past, published in Handelsblatt, a business newspaper from Germany (of all places), shows the Greeks have every right to be angry. Berlin-based economists found out what many had been saying long ago — namely that the successive bailouts to "rescue" a collapsing economy were in fact aimed at rescuing not the people of Greece but its banks and private creditors. To put it in crude numbers, less than 5% of the staggering 215.9 billion euros agreed upon in the first two (out of three) bailouts actually ended up in the coffers of the Greek state. How such a reality affects future decisions remains to be seen, as the stakes once again are rising:

  • A general strike that paralyzed large parts of the country entered its third and last day yesterday. The leftist government of Alexis Tsipras, which was first elected for its hardline anti-austerity stance, won a parliamentary vote to bring about what The Guardian says are the "toughest austerity measures yet."
  • Here is today's front page of Athens-based Ta Nea daily.
  • Outside the Parliament in Athens yesterday, protesters were throwing firebombs at police officers, who replied with tear gas, in the first signs of what could be another long, hot summer in Greece.
  • The controversial reform package narrowly approved by the Parliament, with 153 votes out of 300, plans to cut up to 40% of pensions and another increase in income, fuel and VAT taxes. This is part of a 5.4 billion-euro package of austerity measures demanded by Greece's creditors.
  • The vote was held ahead of an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers and IMF officials today in Brussels. Athens' creditors will complete the first review of Greece's third bailout of 86 billion euros, agreed to last summer. But the IMF is threatening to pull out of the rescue if the other lenders don't agree to cut part of Greece's debt.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PHILIPPINES VOTE

Voters in the Philippines are choosing their next president, and the winner could well be a more extreme version of Donald Trump. Rodrigo Duterte vowed, among other things to "forget the laws on human rights" and"butcher" criminals, something right groups say has been part of his anti-crime policy during his decades as mayor of Davao, allegedly leading tothe deaths of 1,000 suspected criminals. But for the editorial board of newspaper The Inquirer, Duterte "might prove to be the shock to the system the Philippines needs" to end rampant crime and corruption. The voting process was marked by several attacks on polling stations killing at least 10 people.



— ON THIS DAY

From Nelson Mandela to Vertigo, here's your 57-second shot of history.


CANADA WILDFIRE BURNING DOWN HOMES

The fire that started burning around Fort McMurray on the first day of May has already burned one-fifth of the cities homes, the local MP David Yurdiga told the BBC. More than 100,000 residents have been evacuated. Lower temperatures yesterday have already brought much needed help to the firefighters, and the weather is expected to continue to cool today.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

A day after he was targeted by a would-be killer and sentenced to prison for an article in his newspaper, Turkish editor Can Dundar recounts what happened — and what it means. An exclusive Cumhuriyet piece, brought to you in English by Worldcrunch: "At the moment that the photographers and camera operators started to approach me, I heard someone behind them shouting: ‘You are a traitor!'

I saw a hateful face from a few meters away, a face of the new generation.

Then there were gunshots. The smell of gunpowder in the air. As a reflex action, I dashed towards Yagiz, where the metal barriers were. ‘You are the target,' Yagiz was shouting. "Get away."

When I stared back from a few meters away, I saw more men with guns. In the heat of the moment, I couIdn't tell whether they were policemen or more attackers. It was then that I noticed Dilek: She was holding the attacker, pulling on him from his jacket."

Read the full article, No Assassin, Nor Erdogan, Will Silence Us — Can Dundar Recounts Shooting.


45%

As the debate over Brexit rages on, a new poll suggests that 45% of Europeans from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden also want to have their own referendum on EU membership. According to the same survey, France and Italy are the countries where an "out" vote would be the strongest.


NORTH KOREA OPEN TO RECONCILIATION

Just days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his country wouldn't use its nukes unless threatened by "invasive hostile forces with nuclear weapons," AP reports that the ruling Workers' Party pledged to push for a peaceful reconciliation of the Korean Peninsula and to modernize the economy. Does this mean Pyongyang is on the road to "normality"? If that's the case, the arrest and expulsion of a BBC reporter for referring to Kim Jong-un as "corpulent" suggests that road would be long.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Greek Break — Heraklion, 1984


SAUDI ARABIA DECREES

Saudi Arabia's King Salman issued more than 50 royal decrees on Saturday, bringing a sweeping change in the organization of the government, in a move partly aimed at reducing the country's dependence on oil. The reorganization also consolidates the position of deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, described as the world's most dangerous man. Read more from The New York Times.


— MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

TRIUMPHANT DEBUT FOR AXL/DC

Many AC/DC fans were worried when they first learned that Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose would replace Brian Johnson as the band's live singer. But critics (and video footage) of the new line-up's first concert in Lisbon show that even with a chair-bound Axl, AC/DC are rapturous musical T.N.T.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Along The "New Border" Of Ukraine, Annexation Has Just Doubled The Danger

Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Ukrainian territories in a ceremony in the Kremlin. In a village just a few kilometers away from what is now the Ukraine-Russia "border" in Putin's eyes, life continues amid constant shelling and the fear of what comes next.

Ukrainian soldiers are stationed in the village of Inhulka, near Kherson.

Stefan Schocher

INHULKA — The trail leads over a gravel road, a rickety pontoon bridge past a checkpoint. Here in the remote village of Inhulka near Kherson in southern Ukraine, soldiers sit in front of the village shop. Inside, two women run back and forth behind the counter, making coffee, selling sausages, weighing tomatoes. "Natalochka, where are the cookies," calls a dark-haired lady across the room.

But Natalochka, her colleague, is about to lose her nerve. "What kind of life is that?" she says, finally reaching up to grab the cookies from the top of a shelf. What kind of life can it be, she asks, when something is constantly exploding next to you and you don't know if you'll wake up in the morning.

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Inhulka is the center of a rural community. 1,587 inhabitants, as the village chief says, one school, one kindergarten, one doctor, two stores. Since March, nothing here is as it used to be. That was when the Russian army came to the village.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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