Europe hit by debt crisis. Can it be saved?
Is it up to the two heavy hitters in the Euro-zone, Germany and France to come to the rescue, yet again? Or to at least formulate some kind of plan to save a scheme that unites everyone through a common currency.
With debts rising across the great expanse that the Euro-zone equates to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy try desperately to hammer out a common accord on the euro debt crisis.
With a meeting of eurozone leaders now in progress honing what could be seen as a rather shaky plan of action, a debt structure has been resolved to the tune of E159 Billion which will prevent Greece from going into freefall and therefore, the rest of the entire Euro-zone.
Portugal and Ireland have already been given their lifeline. Essentially it has been agreed that the eurozone's €440bn bail-out fund (EFSF) should be turned into what amounts to a European Monetary Fund, and potentially into an EU Treasury conception.
This brings a sigh of relief across the common divide, with the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King commenting that any financial crisis in the euro-zone posed the most serious and immediate threat to the UK's financial system.
US President, Barack Obama had also stressed the need to tackle the debt crisis in stabilizing any Global economic recovery.
The Euro hit the ground running back in 2002 and became the currency that everyone wanted to have and make.
Now we see a crisis engulfing the entire Euro-zone as country after country hits the skids.
It wasn't that long ago when Greece and it's remarkable and beautful islands was the number one spot for tourists from the rest of Europe. But that was before they adopted the Euro.
Our currencies then - even when transferred into Drachma - gave us excellent value and helped Greece gain economic strength; that is, after the removal of the 7 autocratic 'Colonels' and Greece's final return to democracy. WHAT WENT WRONG?
Granted, the world recession hasn't helped, but before that even occurred Greece adopted the Euro and in doing so decided to inflate their 'Holiday' costs. Westernization mixed with a lot of 'Greek Greed' took holidays to this historic and beautful land - holidays which were once affordable - quite 'literally' out of the range of all those, except the very well off.
The tourist industry started to collapse. Hotels became near empty along with the delighful beaches on the countless Islands...and yet, still, the Greeks never saw the writing on the wall - they were cutting off their noses to spite their faces but failed to see the signs. 'The Tourists always came back every summer... and they would again,' the Greek's thought. Then the shock. The tourists had woken up!
It is always easy to blame the politicians, although, corruption and the greasing of pockets has always been a staple diet amongst the special 'few' in Greece. However, it is a country which has relied heavily on tourism and they did have it extremely good for so long, but they didn't dream that the influx of tourists would ever stop, so the blame should really be directed at themselves.
Oh yes, there are still some resorts that do well - like the upmarket Myconos, the Greek version of Ibiza, in fact Ibiza at it's best could never match Myconos at it's best - or Santorini, the awesome romantic Greek version of the Isle of Capri, but Athens particularly is struggling and recovery may be many summers and also moons away.
The face of narcissism and death. Grief stricken parents have buried their children way before their lives had a chance to take on any indelible meaning. Young, vibrant people mewn down before their life's journey even got started. A coward had his way and got his day and how you ask, for all the blood shed, anguish and loss, could that person ever pay.
Flower tributes laid by the people of Norway in commemoration of that fateful afternoon. A mark as grave as 9/11 to all in New York.
It is now known that 32 year old Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian gunman who took the lives of 77 people in a combined bomb blast and gun attack in Norway, had emailed his 1,500 page hate manifesto to over 1,000 addresses 90 minutes before the first attack struck.
The UK was the biggest group of recipients to recieve the document. It's aim, to encourage more anti Islam supporters to take up arms against what he called, "a creeping world wide problem."
Breivik, described as a right wing fundamentalist who harboured extremist, nationalistic leanings when it came to Muslim views and integration. Breivik, who has confessed to the attacks. His methodical orchestration, which was years in the planning, for full and concise effect on an unarmed and unguarded public. It was both calculating and devastatingly psychopathic in the wake in the realisation of the massive death toll.
The capital was already coming to grips with the horrendously damaging bomb blast that cut through bricks and mortar killing seven. The focus of the blast was aimed at the buildings around the government quarter reducing it to rubble, twisted metal and a tremendous smattering of glass that was sent hundreds of metres away from it's origins from the powerful force of the intense explosion.
While emergency services were reeling from the capital's mayhem, the perpetrator confidently and pathologically continued on with his course of action to the quiet confines of the Summer vacation island of Otoeya, just outside Oslo, where hundreds of students were spending their vacation at a youth camp dedicated to furthering their studies on politics and sports related activities.
The blonde gunman was dressed in police uniform on the pretense that he required information leading to the arrest of any suspects over the capital's bomb blast.
Then, when the students had all gathered around, he systematically mowed them down with his assault weapons. His hour long rampage did not discriminate as he shot at anything that moved. Bodies fell like flies to the ground and even when people took to the waters in order to swim away to safety, the barrel of a long range rifle was purposefully aimed in their direction, killing at every stroke.
The hunter, hunting a defenseless prey. Easy marks who could not retaliate. An inadequate bully and a narcissistic coward who gave up when the going evened out.
The wonders of Greece and now a new wonder,
'What Went Wrong?'
Zagreb: The European Commission has now finalised it's plans for financial support for ongoing reforms in the Western Balkans, Turkey and Iceland for the period of 2011–2013. The plans, called 'Multi-Annual Indicative Planning Documents' (MIPDs) outline a revised strategy for funding under the instrument for Pre-Accession assistance (IPA) and will focus on areas such as reform of the judiciary and public administration, regional cooperation, fight against organised crime and corruption. The funds should act as a catalyst to drive forward reform in the enlargement countries.
The EU assistance will also directly impact upon the daily lives of citizens by contributing to improved rule of law, governance, social conditions and economic prospects. It is agreed that Croatia will be the 28th Member of the EU in 2013. Croatia's past, as far as history tells us, is Slavic, with strong Russian roots, but modern history has been extremely eventful. Yugoslavia changed it's name once again after World War II.
The new state became the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia and United Croatia and several other states together under the communistic leadership of Marshall Tito. A man who would not bow to the west and although a satellite of Russia - Tito often refused to bend to the wishes of the Kremlin and it seems the Russians were always too wary to take him to task.
Tito's rein, while autocratic, was, in many ways, fair. He saw the value of opening up the Adriatic Coast for Tourism. And, although his communistic values stayed intact, the free enterprise activities of the casinos and nudist beaches of the Adriactic filled his coffers and helped him keep the citizens of Yugoslavia relatively content. But after the death of Tito and with the fall of communism throughout eastern Europe, the Yugoslav federation began to crumple. Croatia held it's first multi-party elections since World War II in 1990. Long-time Croatian nationalist Franjo Tudjman was elected President, and one year later, Croatians declared independence from Yugoslavia.
Conflict between Serbs and Croats in Croatia escalated, and one month after Croatia declared independence, civil war erupted.
The United Nations mediated in a cease-fire in January 1992, but hostilities resumed the next year when Croatia fought to regain one-third of the territory lost the previous year. A second cease-fire was enacted in May 1993, followed by a joint declaration the next January between Croatia and Yugoslavia.
However, in September 1993, the Croatian Army led an offensive against the Serb-held Republic of Krajina. A third cease-fire was called in March 1994, but it, too, was broken in May and August 1995 after Croatian forces regained large portions of Krajina, prompting an exodus of Serbs from this area.
The death of President Tudjman and the election of a coalition government in 2000, brought significant changes to Croatia. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Racan, it progressed into the Dayton Peace Accords, regional co-operation, refugee returns, national reconciliation, and democratization. Since then, Croatia has grown into a thriving nation with economic power.
The Oslo killer, Andres Behring Breivik, re-enacts
his day of mayhem.
Determined, methodical and remorseless to the end
With his own bullet proof vest and kept on a tight police leash, Anders Breivik, the man responsible for Norway's worst atrocities since the second world war, was taken to Otoeya island to re-enact his hour of murderous mayhem and therefore help piece together vital evidence of that day's events.
The 32 year old displayed no remorse while taking part in the eight-hour reconstruction of his island massacre, police said Sunday. "He was not unaffected, but he showed no remorse for his actions."
Croatia - next in line as the 28th member
of the EU in 2013
By Jan Mosse
By Anne Hunt
By Anne Hunt
By Anne Hunt
Highlights in Europe
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Four days in Athens last month - coupled with three other visits this year to that economically struggling part of Europe, finally convinced me the country where I spent so many of my teenage holidays - on voyages to idyllic and romantic 'Shirley Valentine' type Islands of joy and revelry - making hay while the sun was up - and while the sun was also down, has now somehow lost it's potency for progress.
This is the country that first gave us politics - as we know it today - and centuries before the birth of Christ, Spartan women had more rights than many countries give their women today. Women could own property and did in fact own more than a third of the land in Sparta and they could dispose of it as they wished.
My apologies to Helen of Troy, Maria Callas, Nana Mouskouri and many other famous ladies who put this ancient civilization on the map along with those Spartan Women when I say that it is the men of modern Greece who have lost the plot. Or, did they indeed become part of the plot and send all their life's earnings to some discreet 'nod-nod-wink-wink' bank in Switzerland and the Caymans?
While there has been many moments in Greek history when the men have had moments of great glory, from the early Spartan period to the holding of the first Olympic Games and they fought valiantly - not only against the Otterman Empire - but resisting the Germans in World War Two. But since Western Europe and many parts of the affluent world discovered Greece and it's sun-drenched Islands, stamping it as their dream holiday back in the 1950's period, an element known as 'Greek Greed' suddenly emerged.
In fairness to the Greeks, while they have still some of the best sailors in the world, many saw the potential of their 300 magnificent Islands, so one could say they fell under the spell of the western rules of 'Supply and Demand.'
Any country that has an entire division of police named as the 'Tourist Police' indicates the importance the country placed on tourism as a main source of income. And, not forgetting, how tourists are so easily preyed upon.
Are the glory days truly over for Greece and it's wonderful Islands?
By Anne Hunt