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Thursday, October 11, 2012

IMF Says Greece, Spain Need More Time to Achieve Targets

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Thursday that Greece and Spain should be given more time to reduce their budget deficits. “Instead of front-loading heavily, it is sometimes better, given circumstances and the fact that many countries at the same time go through the same set of policies with a view to reducing their deficit, it is sometimes better to have a bit more time”, said Lagarde during a news conference in Tokyo during IMF and World Bank biennial meeting. “This is what I have advocated for Spain, and this is what we are advocating for Greece, where I said repeatedly that an additional two years were necessary for the country to actually face the fiscal consolidation programme that is considered”, continued Lagarde. A report on Greece’s progress on its cost-cutting efforts is expected next week from the troika.

Greece Has More Unemployed or Economically Inactive Than in Full Employment

Greece unemployment hit a record of 25.1 percent in July, with youth unemployment reaching 54.2 percent according to the country’s statistical authority. The numbers also revealed that the sum of those unemployed or economically inactive in the country was now greater than those in full employment, 4.6 million versus 3.7 million people. “This is a very dramatic result of the recession”, said Angelos Tsakanikas, head of research at Greece’s IOBE economic research foundation. He said he did not expect figures to improve for at least another year. In July 2008, a year before the crisis struck Greece, the country’s unemployment levels were at 7.4 percent.

Russia Protests Plane Interception

The Russian government has accused Turkey of needlessly endangering Russian lives after Turkish fighter jets intercepted a Syrian passenger plane and forced it to land in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Turkish intelligence suspected the Syrian Arab Airline plane had been carrying Russian weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime. “The lives and safety of the passengers were placed under threat”, said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement, adding that Russian diplomats were not allowed to contact the 17 Russian nationals on board the aircraft. None of the passengers were arrested by Turkish authorities. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the plane was carrying Russian-made munitions and that the arms were destined for Syria’s defence ministry.

Gunmen Kill U.S. Embassy Security Team Member in Yemen

A Yemeni security officer employed by the U.S. embassy in Sana’a was shot dead by masked gunmen as he walked to work on Thursday. Yemeni authorities said the shooting appeared to have been orchestrated by Al Qaeda. “This operation has the fingerprints of Al Qaeda, which carried out similar operations before”, said a Yemeni source to the Reuters news agency. Qassem Aqlan was walking to work when the gunmen, who were riding a motorcycle, shot him near his house, close to the centre of the Yemeni capital. A neighbour of the victim said strangers had been watching his house before the attack. It is thought Aqlan might have been targeted because he was part of the team investigating the attack on the U.S. embassy last month during protests against an U.S.-produced anti-Islam movie.

Chinese Author Mo Yan Wins Nobel Literature Prize

Chinese author Mo Yan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday by the Swedish Academy. “Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner or Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition”, said the Academy in notes released after the announcement. Mo said he was “overjoyed and scared” after being contacted by the Nobel Prize organisers.

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