Greece | Saudi Arabia

James K. Galbraith: The IMF’s botched attempt to help (Bangkok Post)
James K. Galbraith: Europe’s malpractice of Greece / Der griechische Patient (Deutsche Welle)

Europe’s financial hospital has been busy for five years, dealing with victims of the world crisis and of the lending binge that came before it. Ireland, Portugal, Spain and (to a degree) Italy have filled the beds. They have taken the medicine, and followed the prescribed routine. Not one has fully recovered. But then again, none of those countries were ever lethally sick – at the worst, they suffered declines of 5 to 10 percent of GDP, and have been more or less stable for the past few years.
Greece is a special case. She was a weak patient to begin with. Her institutions were not strong. Her industries were not competitive. She binged on those pre-crisis loans. And when the collapse came, Europe and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) prescribed an exceptional dose of the standard drugs – perhaps three times more than was given to anyone else. The results were toxic. Greece has lost over a quarter of her income, she has 29 percent unemployment and her government has no cash reserves.
In any modern hospital, this patient would be on life support. Transfusions would be given. Intra-venous hydration, a feeding tube and an oxygen mask would be supplied…
But today’s Europe is a hospital with no ICU. Instead, the doctors have kept the patient in the ordinary ward. Every few days, they come in and check the charts. They see that there has been no change. And so they lecture the patient. She must exercise! She must take still more of the medicine! She must not expect special treatment! After all, they point out, look at the other patients! See how much better they are doing! And on and on…
After five years of this, with death in sight, the Greek people have decided to reject the treatments. They have asked, over the past four months, for meetings with the hospital directors, to see if the protocols can be changed. They have been told, no, not unless your doctors agree. But the doctors do not like to have their authority challenged. And just imagine – they report back to their chiefs – what would happen if we agreed? Soon the other patients might get ideas; think of what that would cost! So the treatments remain the same and the results get worse.

Paul Krugman: Avoiding Apocalypse (New York Times)

[W]hat if Greece abandons the euro and issues its own currency to keep cash flowing?
For sure there would be a sharp devaluation, which would lead to a spike in inflation. But would hyperinflation follow? Remember that Greece is running a large cyclically adjusted primary surplus — that is, given even a modest economic recovery it would not need to roll the printing presses to pay its bills. And a a devaluation would, other things equal, promote recovery.
I know that many people are telling stories about immediate collapse due to inability to buy raw materials, complete failure of exports to respond, and so on. They could be right. But I actually can’t think of any historical examples that fit this story — in particular, all the hyperinflations I know about involved governments too weak to collect taxes, and believe it or not, that’s not true of Greece despite all you’ve heard.

Buying Silence: How the Saudi Foreign Ministry controls Arab media (Wikileaks)

Documents reveal the extensive efforts to monitor and co-opt Arab media, making sure to correct any deviations in regional coverage of Saudi Arabia and Saudi-related matters. Saudi Arabia’s strategy for co-opting Arab media takes two forms, corresponding to the “carrot and stick” approach, referred to in the documents as “neutralisation” and “containment”. The approach is customised depending on the market and the media in question.

Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict (United Nations Commissioner on Human Rights)

The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict has gathered substantial information pointing to the possible commission of war crimes by both Israel and Palestinian armed groups.
“The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come,” the chair of the commission, Justice Mary McGowan Davis told a press briefing today, adding that, “there is also on-going fear in Israel among communities who come under regular threat”.
The 2014 hostilities saw a huge increase in firepower used in Gaza, with more than 6,000 airstrikes by Israel and approximately 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired. In the 51 day operation, 1,462 Palestinian civilians were killed, a third of them children. Palestinian armed groups fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars towards Israel in July and August 2014, killing 6 civilians and injuring at least 1,600.

Amira Hass: In Israel, we walk amongst killers and torturers / לווליד דקה (Haaretz)

In our homes, our streets and our places of work and entertainment, there are thousands of people who killed and tortured thousands of other people or supervised their killing and torture. I write “thousands” as a substitute for the vaguer “countless” – an expression for something that cannot be measured.
The vast majority of those who kill and torture (now as well) are proud of their deeds, and their society and families are proud of their deeds – although usually it’s impossible to find a direct link between the names of the dead and the tortured and the names of those who kill and torture, and even when it is possible, it’s forbidden. It’s also forbidden to say “murderers.” And it’s forbidden to write “lowlifes” or “cruel people.”
Me, cruel? After all, our hands aren’t covered with blood when we push the button that drops a bomb on a building housing 30 members of a single family. Lowlife? How can we use that word to describe a 19-year-old soldier who kills a 14-year-old boy who went outside to pick an edible plant? …
Every night, on average, the IDF conducts 12 routine raids. For the Palestinians, every nighttime raid, which often entails the use of stun grenades and gas and shooting, is a mini terror attack.

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