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A must read: Brain drain, suicide, mass poverty…Greece’s humanitarian catastrophe in nine charts

The people of Greece are facing more years of economic hardship following a Eurozone agreement over the terms of a third bailout. The deal includes more tax rises and spending cuts. Syriza promised to end what it described as the “humiliation and pain” of austerity…that will not be the case.

Alex Christoforou

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Post originally appeared on Zerohedge.

With the country having already endured years of economic contraction since the global downturn, The BBC asks, just how does Greece’s ordeal compare with other recessions and how have the lives of the country’s people been affected?

The long recession

It is now generally agreed that Greece has experienced an economic crisis on the scale of the US Great Depression of the 1930s.

According to the Greek government’s own figures, the economy first contracted in the final quarter of 2008 and – apart from some weak growth in 2014 – has been shrinking ever since. The recession has cut the size of the Greek economy by around a quarter, the largest contraction of an advanced economy since the 1950s.

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Although the Greek recession has not been quite as deep as the Great Depression from peak to trough, it has gone on longer and many observers now believe Greek GDP will drop further in 2015.

Dwindling jobs

Jobs are increasingly difficult to come by in Greece – especially for the young. While a quarter of the population are out of work, youth unemployment is running much higher.

Half of those under 25 are out of work. In some regions of western Greece, the youth unemployment rate is well above 60%.

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To make matters worse, long-term unemployment is at particularly high levels in Greece.

Being out of work for significant periods of time has severe consequences, according to a report by the European Parliament. The longer a person is unemployed, the less employable they become. Re-entering the workforce also becomes more difficult and more expensive.

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Young people have been particularly affected by long-term unemployment: one out of three has been jobless for more than a year.

After two years out of work, the unemployed also lose their health insurance.

This persistent unemployment also means pension funds receive fewer contributions from the working population. As more Greeks are without jobs, more pensioners are having to sustain families on a reduced income.

According to the latest figures from the Greek government, 45% of pensioners receive monthly payments below the poverty line of €665.

Plummeting income

The Greek people are also facing dropping wages.

In the five years from 2008 to 2013, Greeks became on average 40% poorer, according to data from the country’s statistical agency analysed by Reuters. As well as job losses and wage cuts, the decline can also be explained by steep cuts in workers’ compensation and social benefits.

In 2014, disposable household income in Greece sunk to below 2003 levels.

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Rising poverty

Like during all recessions, the poor and vulnerable have been hardest hit.

One in five Greeks are experiencing severe material deprivation, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2008.

Almost four million people living in Greece, more than a third of the country’s total population, were classed as being ‘at risk of poverty or social exclusion’ in 2014.

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According to Dr Panos Tsakloglou, economist and professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business, the crisis has exposed Greece’s lack of social safety nets.

“The welfare state in Greece has historically been very weak, driven primarily by clientelistic calculations rather than an assessment of needs. In the past this was not really urgent because there were rarely any particularly explosive social conditions. The family was substituting the welfare state,” he told the BBC.

Typically, if a young person lost his or her job or could not find a job after graduating, they would receive support from the family until their situation improved.

But as more and more people have become jobless and with pensions slashed as part of the austerity imposed on Greece from its creditors, ordinary Greeks are feeling the impact.

“This has led to many more unemployed people falling into poverty much faster,” Dr Tsakloglou said.

Cuts to essential services

Healthcare is one of the public services that has been hit hardest by the crisis. An estimated 800,000 Greeks are without medical access due to a lack of insurance or poverty.

A 2014 report in the Lancet medical journal highlighted the devastating social and health consequences of the financial crisis and resulting austerity on the country’s population.

At a time of heightened demand, the report said, “the scale and speed of imposed change have constrained the capacity of the public health system to respond to the needs of the population”.

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While a number of social initiatives and volunteer-led health clinics have emerged to ease the burden, many drug prevention and treatment centres and psychiatric clinics have been forced to close due to budget cuts.

HIV infections among injecting drug users rose from 15 in 2009 to 484 people in 2012.

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Mental wellbeing

The crisis also appears to have taken its toll on people’s wellbeing.

Figures suggest that the prevalence of major depression almost trebled from 3% to 8% of the population in the three years to 2011, during the onset of the crisis.

While starting from a low initial figure, the suicide rate rose by 35% in Greece between 2010 and 2012, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

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Researchers concluded that suicides among those of working age coincided with austerity measures.

Greece’s public and non-profit mental health service providers have been forced to scale back operations, shut down, or reduce staff, while plans for development of child psychiatric services have been abandoned.

Funding for mental health decreased by 20% between 2010 and 2011, and by a further 55% the following year.

The brain drain

Faced with the prospect of dwindling incomes or unemployment, many Greeks have been forced to look for work elsewhere. In the last five years, Greece’s population has declined, falling by about 400,000.

A 2013 study found that more than 120,000 professionals, including doctors, engineers and scientists, had left Greece since the start of the crisis in 2010.

20150717_Greece9

A more recent European University Institute survey found that of those who emigrated, nine in 10 hold a university degree and more than 60% of those have a master’s degree, while 11% hold a PhD.

Foteini Ploumbi was in her early thirties when she lost her job as a warehouse supervisor in Athens after the owner could no longer afford to pay his staff.

After a year looking for a new job in Greece, she moved to the UK in 2013 and immediately found work as a business analyst in London.

“I had no choice but leave if I wanted to work, I had no prospect of employment in Greece. I would love to go back, my whole life is back there. But logic stops me from returning at the moment,” she said.

“In the UK, I can get by – I can’t even do that in Greece.”

References:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-17/greece-now-full-blown-humanitarian-crisis-9-charts

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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By

Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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