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Friday, May 17, 2013

Greece on the Road to Recovery, But Not Job Growth

The European Commission (EC) released a report on Friday saying that Greece’s six-year recession is likely to end in 2014, but that the recovery would not necessarily prompt job growth. The EC, the EU’s executive arm, estimates that unemployment should remain above 20 percent for at least another three years. The country has so far received €200 billion euros in aid packages while at the same time carrying out radical economic reforms such as wage and pension cuts and tax hikes. Unemployment currently stands at 27 percent, with youth unemployment at 64 percent. The EC also warned Greece that the country needs faster reforms to guarantee the forecasted recovery. “A failure to implement these reforms in time would thus amplify the social distress coming from very high unemployment and from the pressure exerted on the population by the prolonged recession and the wide-ranging economic and social adjustment”, said the report, based on data compiled by representatives from the Troika, as the group composed by the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank is known.

Syrian Peace Talks Should be Held Soon, Says UN Secretary General

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that the proposed international conference to find solutions to Syria’s civil war should be held as soon as possible. He was speaking after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi. “We should not lose the momentum. There is a high expectation that this meeting should be held as soon as possible”, said Ban. Lavrov agreed, saying “the sooner the better”, adding that Moscow “proceeds from the position that all the neighboring countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and the participants of the first Geneva conference, must be invited”, referring to a meeting held last June. On the possible use of chemical weapons within Syria, Ban said that he regretted a UN team of chemical weapons experts had not been allowed to enter the country to carry out a full investigation on the matter. While the team has been gathering information from different sources, said Ban, ” it is important – crucially important – to be able to conduct an on-site investigation”.

UKIP Leader Calls Scottish Protesters ‘Fascist Scum’

The leader of the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage, has attacked those who forced him to flee a press conference in Scotland as “fascist scum” who were filled with “total and utter hatred” of the English. Farage had to be bundled into a police van outside the Canon’s Gait pub in Edinburgh after a crowd of young activists forced him to retreat four times. “The fact that 50 yobbo, fascist scum turn up and aren’t prepared to listen, to debate, I absolutely refuse to believe is representative of Scottish public opinion. It is not. If this is the face of Scottish nationalism, it’s a pretty ugly nation. The anger, the hatred, the shouting, the snarling, the swearing was all linked in to a desire for the Union Jack to be burnt”, said Farage during an appearance on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond replied that Farage was “someone who is outside the context of normal politics” and that “we can frankly do without UKIP, who dislike everybody and know absolutely nothing about Scotland”.

Poll on European Homophobia Sparks Concern

A poll undertaken by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has found that one quarter of gay people surveyed has said they have suffered violent threats or attacks in the past five years, with poorer and younger respondents more likely to face discrimination because of their sexual orientation. The poll was carried among 93,000 people in the bloc and also in Croatia, which will join the EU in July. Among the findings in the survey are that Eastern European states have the highest levels of homophobic behaviour. In general, most of the hate attacks reported took place in public and were perpetrated by groups of more than one person, with attackers being predominantly male. More than half of victims said they didn’t report attacks to the police because they felt no action would be taken. Also, among younger respondents, two-thirds said they had tried to hide their sexuality in school. Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, head of the FRA’s equality and citizens’ rights department, told the BBC that despite the findings of the survey, there seemed to be a “pattern across Europe whereby things seem to be improving for the younger generation”.

Weekend Read: The Contradictions of Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson, the outgoing manager of Manchester United, is a committed socialist who accepted a knighthood from the Queen, furthered the aims of billionaires and facilitated the commercial globalisation of the game. In Grantland.

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