Syriza Wins Greek Election, Europe Reacts

Syriza Wins Greek Election, Europe Reacts

As expected, Greece’s anti-austerity party Syriza secured a resounding victory in yesterday’s general election but came just two seats short of an absolute majority in the parliamentary assembly. But the far-left party has already struck a coalition agreement with the right-wing Greek Independents, which also rejects the austerity policies that have plunged much of the country’s middle class into poverty. In his victory speech, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras (pictured above) said that “Greece is leaving behind the austerity, the catastrophe and is moving forward with optimism, hope and steady steps.” Newspaper To Vima praised yesterday’s result, saying it was “a historic opportunity” for Greece but warned that after a hard-fought campaign, “the polarizing conflict, the division, the fear must give way to hope.” Many foreign newspapers chose to echo Tsipras’ words that Greece had turned a page. See our selection of front pages here.

  • The euro hit an 11-year low in early trading this morning but has since recovered as “investors digested what Syriza's election victory in Greece meant for the Eurozone,” the BBC explains. European stock markets also rose slightly after early losses.
  • Pondering what Tsipras might or might not achieve in power, the Financial Times looks at whether his legacy will be similar to that of “reformist” Lula da Silva or more like “radical and populist” Hugo Chávez but predicts that he is unlikely to enjoy two consecutive terms.

U.S. and EU leaders have threatened to impose new sanctions on Russia after a rocket explosion in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol killed at least 30 people and left more than 80 others wounded Saturday, Voice of America reports. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Sunday that intercepted radio conversations and phone calls prove that pro-Russian rebels were responsible for the attack. Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko denied that but acknowledged his fighters were trying to take control of the city. Meanwhile, there are reports that 500 miners are trapped underground near Donetsk after a Ukrainian artillery left the mine without power.


On this day in 1905, the world's largest diamond was found. Time for today's 57-second shot of history.

Terrorist group Boko Haram has expanded its territory in northeastern Nigeria by gaining control of Monguno, killing and setting houses on fire as government soldiers fled the town of 100,000 people, CNN reports. The troops reportedly regrouped in the even more strategic city of Maiduguri, where they faced another attack Sunday. According to AP, more than 200 fighters from both sides were killed. This comes less than three weeks before a crucial presidential election. Speaking from Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos where he met with incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it was “absolutely critical that these elections are conducted peacefully.” Read more from Nigeria’s newspaper Punch.

Some 140 million people in Pakistan were left without electricity during a blackout on 80% of the country over the weekend. Officials say rebel attacks on a transmission line short-circuited the national electricity grid. But according to newspaper Dawn, many experts doubt the claims, instead blaming poor management and “financial and oil squeezes.”

After claiming in a video to have executed one of its two Japanese hostages, ISIS now says it no longer wants a $200 million ransom but instead the release of an Iraqi woman facing the death penalty in Jordan for terrorism, The Yomiuri Shimbun reports. China’s Global Times, meanwhile, blamed the hostage’s death on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying that it was “more or less the price that Japan has paid for its support to Washington.”

As Caixin’s Chen Lixiong reports, a mini boom in Chinese-language studies has hit Cambodia, which trades not only with mainland China but also counts many ethnic Chinese among its business leaders. “China is Cambodia’s leading source of investment, accounting for some 20% of the $40 billion of investment projects ratified by the Cambodian government between 1994 and 2011,” the journalist writes. “Meanwhile, mainland China is also one of the country’s most important trading partners. Since 2000, China’s exports to Cambodia have increased 15-fold. The Chinese government has also been providing large amounts of foreign aid to its southeastern neighbor, including a governmental complex called the ‘Friendship Building’ completed in 2010.”
Read the full article, It Pays To Learn Chinese, In Cambodia.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi announced “a breakthrough understanding” yesterday that could unlock billions of dollars of investments from U.S. companies in nuclear trade with India and its booming economy, USA Today reports. Obama’s three-day visit marks an important step in establishing a strong partnership between the two countries, which Obama said could be “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”

More than 1,800 flights have been cancelled for today in the northeastern part of the U.S., and widespread power outages are expected as a monster winter storm approaches. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for the greater New York City area with forecasts of up to three feet of snow by Tuesday morning. “This could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio warned. Read more from The New York Times.


Documents published by WikiLeaks show that Google waited almost three years to notify three journalists working with the organization that their emails and metadata had been handed over to the U.S. government as part of a probe into WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange. WikiLeaks lawyers say the failure to notify the journalists prevented them from protecting their privacy rights. Google defended its actions by saying that it was under a gag order from the U.S. government, The Guardian reports.

Apple will announce this week that it sold more iPhones in China than in the U.S. in 2014, a first that the Financial Times describes as “the shifting power balance of the smartphone market.”

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Queen Elizabeth II with UK PM Boris Johnson at a reception at Windsor Castle yesterday

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where chaos hits Syria, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is accused of crimes against humanity and a social media giant plans to rebrand itself. For Spanish daily La Razon, reporter Paco Rodríguez takes us to the devastated town of Belchite, where visitors are reporting paranormal phenomenons.



• Syrian violence erupts: Army shelling on residential areas of the rebel-held region of northwestern Syria killed 13 people, with school children among the victims. The attack occurred shortly after a bombing killed at least 14 military personnel in Damascus. In central Syria, a blast inside an ammunition depot kills five soldiers.

• Renewed Ethiopia air raids on capital of embattled Tigray region: Ethiopian federal government forces have launched its second air strike this week on the capital of the northern Tigray. The air raids mark a sharp escalation in the near-year-old conflict between the government forces and the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that killed thousands and displaced over 2 million people.

• Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A leaked draft government report concludes that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro should be charged with crimes against humanity, forging documents and incitement to crime, following his handling of the country's COVID-19 pandemic. The report blames Bolsonaro's administration for more than half of Brazil's 600,000 coronavirus deaths.

• Kidnappers in Haiti demand $17 million to free a missionary group: A Haitian gang that kidnapped 17 members of a Christian aid group, including five children, demanded $1million ransom per person. Most of those being held are Americans; one is Canadian.

• Putin bows out of COP26 in Glasgow: Russian President Vladimir Putin will not fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate summit. A setback for host Britain's hopes of getting support from major powers for a more radical plan to tackle climate change.

• Queen Elizabeth II cancels trip over health concerns: The 95-year-old British monarch has cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland after she was advised by her doctors to rest for the next few days. Buckingham Palace assured the queen, who attended public events yesterday, was "in good spirits."

• A new name for Facebook? According to a report by The Verge website, Mark Zuckerberg's social media giant is planning on changing the company's name next week, to reflect its focus on building the "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet.


"Oil price rise causes earthquake," titles Portuguese daily Jornal I as surging demand coupled with supply shortage have driven oil prices to seven-year highs at more than $80 per barrel.



For the first time women judges have been appointed to Egypt's State Council, one of the country's main judicial bodies. The council's chief judge, Mohammed Hossam el-Din, welcomed the 98 new judges in a celebratory event in Cairo. Since its inception in 1946, the State Council has been exclusively male and until now actively rejected female applicants.


Spanish civil war town now a paranormal attraction

Ghosts from Spain's murderous 1930s civil war are said to roam the ruins of Belchite outside Zaragoza. Tourists are intrigued and can book a special visit to the town, reports Paco Rodríguez in Madrid-based daily La Razon.

🏚️ Between August 24 and September 6, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, more than 5,000 people died in 14 days of intense fighting in Belchite in north-eastern Spain, and the town was flattened. The fighting began on the outskirts and ended in house-to-house fighting. Almost half the town's 3,100 residents died in the struggle. The war annihilated centuries of village history. The town was never rebuilt, though a Pueblo Nuevo (or new town) was built by the old one.

😱 Belchite became an open-air museum of the horror of the civil war of 1936-39, which left 300,000 dead and wounds that have yet to heal or, for some today, mustn't. For many locals, the battle of Belchite has yet to end, judging by reports of paranormal incidents. Some insist they have heard the screams of falling soldiers, while others say the Count of Belchite wanders the streets, unable to find a resting place after his corpse was exhumed.

🎟️ Ordinary visitors have encountered unusual situations. Currently, you can only visit Belchite at set times every day, with prior booking. More daring visitors can also visit at 10 p.m. on weekends. Your ticket does not include a guaranteed paranormal experience, but many visitors insist strange things have happened to them. These include sudden changes of temperature or the strange feeling of being observed from a street corner or a window. Furthermore, such phenomena increase as evening falls, as if night brought the devastated town to life.

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We still cling to the past because back then we had security, which is the main thing that's missing in Libya today.

— Fethi al-Ahmar, an engineer living in the Libyan desert town Bani Walid, told AFP, as the country today marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The leader who had reigned for 42 years over Libya was toppled in a revolt inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and later killed by rebels. Some hope the presidential elections set in December can help the country turn the page on a decade of chaos and instability.


Iran to offer Master's and PhD in morality enforcement

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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