Debt crisis: who brought athens to its knees – and who pays for it

Because refinancing on the financial markets has become too expensive, Greece has to lay down its arms and apply for EU aid. Not only the disrupted public finances have brought the country so far, speculators have also exacerbated the crisis. The German taxpayer has to pay that too.

In New York, some hedge fund managers are currently celebrating in a champagne mood: They recently met at a posh address in the US metropolis for a parade – to debate how best to bring the euro to its knees through the Greek crisis. That has paid off: within a few weeks, they have succeeded in making Athens ready for a storm through ever new rumors and speculations about the already ailing situation in Greece. Now Hellas had no choice but to capitulate. The speculators have thus achieved what they wanted – to worsen the situation so that the European Union now has to pay state aid and the euro is losing value.

For investors, that means gushing profits. Because with corresponding futures they had previously bet on falling euro rates. Now you will soon have the common currency where you want it: at times the euro was only quoted at around 1.32 dollars – a loss since the high of late November 2009 of almost thirteen percent. And a huge profit for the speculators who had bet on these low prices and are now making the rub.

Obama and medvedev pave the way for disarmament?

Gone are the days when nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States was one of the greatest threats to the world. Today it is considered more likely that other countries or terrorists will use nuclear weapons. But it is up to Russia and the US to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons. In London, Presidents Obama and Medvedev discussed steps there.

In order to contain the danger of the spread of nuclear weapons, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was adopted and signed at the end of the 1960s. While the nuclear-armed states committed themselves to complete disarmament, the states without nuclear weapons declared that they would renounce such weapons. 188 states now belong to the treaty and review conferences are held regularly. The last meeting in 2005 failed due to the willingness of those involved to introduce further disarmament steps.

Meanwhile, experts are concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons in regions like the Middle East and in countries like Pakistan, India and North Korea. Not only could the opposing states engage in an arms race with unforeseeable consequences. In domestically unstable countries like Pakistan, there is also the danger that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. Other states without nuclear weapons, however, criticize the fact that new barriers should be imposed on them while disarmament in the nuclear-armed states is not making progress.

Are fukushima and chernobyl comparable?

The truth, it is said, dies last. The problem with accidents like Chernobyl or Fukushima is that there is no such thing as the one recognized truth. Today, 25 years later, there is no general consensus on the health consequences of the Chernobyl reactor disaster. It follows from this: Of course, the consequences of Fukushima could exceed those of Chernobyl. Of course, that doesn’t say whether they really do that. Because what the consequences are is disputed.

Number of radiation deaths in Ukraine still unclear

Up to 800,000 cleanup workers were reportedly used at the time to clean up the exploded reactor in and around Ukraine. Allegedly only half were registered. How many got sick – nobody knows that beyond dispute. The Russian government then did everything it could to cover up the true extent of the disaster. One thing is certain: there has been significantly more thyroid cancer and leukemia in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia since then. It is undisputed that around 50 people died from radiation sickness. They had received very high doses of radioactivity in a short period of time. The total number of radiation deaths is over 4,000, but this is only a controversial minimum number for the most heavily polluted regions around the accident reactor. Environmental protection organizations cite far higher numbers overall, sometimes hundreds of thousands of deaths locally and across Europe. What is true?

The problem behind this is complex. Basically, it causes considerable difficulties in establishing statistically reliable connections between low radiation exposure and increased disease rates. Cancer can have many causes. Any additional radiation exposure may be the drop that brings the barrel overflowing and triggers an individual illness – at some point. Maybe decades later. And then legal and financial issues come into play alongside the suffering of the individual. Who will pay for my treatment? Who pays compensation? Who pays for the survivors? How are the nuclear power plants insured? Who will be evacuated, where and for how long? Every kilometer more evacuation zone costs. It quickly becomes clear that there is a lot of money involved. A lot of money. And whenever there is a lot of money involved, the truth comes under pressure.

Debt dispute: greek parliament votes for referendum

The crisis day for Europe ended with another signal of confrontation: the Greek parliament voted in the night for the controversial referendum on the reform demands of the European donors, Prime Minister Tsipras called for the "big no". The ECB will probably advise today whether there are still emergency loans for Greece’s banks. The Eurogroup had previously decided to phase out aid to Greece.

The Greek parliament has approved the government’s planned holding of a referendum on the claims of the creditors of the heavily indebted country. According to the parliamentary census, 178 members of parliament voted for the referendum that night in Athens.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had previously campaigned for the referendum and called on the population to say a "big no" to the demands of the creditors. At the same time, the Greeks should say "a big yes to Europe and solidarity". The head of government was convinced that a "proud no" would strengthen Greece’s negotiating position vis-à-vis the creditors. "The referendum will take place whether the partners want it or not," Tsipras said in parliament.

Decision in brussels: the list from athens is there

Now it has really arrived in Brussels: the list from Athens with which the Greek government explains the reforms with which it wants to satisfy the donors and keep its election promises. This was announced by the EU Commission.

When is it finally coming? The spokeswoman for the EU Commission, Mina Andreeva, had to listen to this question countless times yesterday and kept giving the same answer: "We haven’t received a list yet!" It should actually have been there yesterday, a list of plans and ideas for how the Greek government will meet the donors’ obligations – the prerequisite for extending the aid program for Greece and completing it successfully: "You have until midnight."

But even until midnight there was nothing in Brussels. It didn’t arrive until early in the morning, the list that was supposed to save Greece from bankruptcy. It is intended for the finance ministers of the euro zone. Until recently, the formulations were apparently worked on, in Athens and Brussels. Something leaked through: Athens wanted to stick to some social measures that were promised in the election campaign and cost a lot of money: for example, special grants for poorer pensioners. The minimum wage is to be increased.

Latvians clear accounts at swedbank

For fear of the Swedish Swedbank going bust, customers in Latvia have massively cleared their accounts. This was preceded by rumors spread across the Internet that the bank had liquidity problems. There is particular nervousness in Latvia about the closure of the Krajbanka two weeks ago.

Yesterday evening there was no more cash at around a third of Swedbank ATMs in Latvia, and customers had withdrawn the equivalent of around 15 million euros on Sunday. At the end of the week, rumors had spread on Facebook and Twitter that there was no more money at the Swedbank ATMs in Sweden and that the Latvian head of Swedbank, Maris Mancinskis, had been arrested. In the meantime, he assured the Latvian television station LNT TV that the rumors were "not only false, but absurd".

Swedbank spokesman Thomas Backteman also vigorously denied: "This is all completely out of thin air. Incidentally, it is a criminal offense in Latvia to spread such rumors. We are working closely with the authorities there and colleagues from other banks because we want to know who is behind it and how we can stop it. "

Debt crisis: hollande does not make any commitments to samaras either

Greek Prime Minister Samaras continued his European tour in Paris. But as in Berlin, there were no positive surprises for him here either: President Hollande acknowledged the future of the Greek euro, but he did not want to make any commitments before the Troika report.

French President Francois Hollande wants Greece to remain in the euro zone: "The question of whether Greece will leave the common currency or not does not arise for me. Greece is one of them."

The Greek people have already made great efforts and sacrifices. Europe must therefore continue to help Greece. The prerequisite, however, is that the Greeks stick to their austerity course: "The country has to prove that it is credible. The politicians have to show that they can implement the reforms to the end – but at the same time they have to be tolerable for the Greek people."