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Greece reveals new debt deal, pensioners line up at banks

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Athens/Berlin: The Greek government on Wednesday revealed its latest proposal for a debt deal with creditors to stave off a default and Grexit — exit from the eurozone — in the coming weeks even as thousands of pensioners lined up outside 1,000 bank branches opened to disperse pension payments.

The government dismissed media reports claiming that it fully accepted lenders’ offer ahead of a crucial Eurogroup teleconference rescheduled for Wednesday evening, Xinhua news agency reported.

Athens’ draft deal, which was submitted as Greece was declared in arrears to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday midnight. It sought a new two-year loan to deal with financing problems through the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and requested a further restructuring of Greek debt.

“The Greek government has tabled a new proposal with a series of amendments to the institutions in a bid to achieve a mutually beneficial agreement,” a statement issued to the media said.

“Reports that Greece has accepted all the terms of the creditors’ proposal are unfounded,” it was stressed.

Athens released the letter Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed to European partners and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

“The Hellenic Republic is prepared to accept this staff level agreement (as published on the European Commission website on June 28, 2015) subject to the following amendments, additions or clarifications, as part of an extension of the expiring EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) programme and the new ESM loan agreement for which a request was submitted on June 30, 2015,” Tsipras wrote.

“As you will note, our amendments are concrete and they fully respect the robustness and credibility of the design of the overall programme,” he added.

The Greek government requested that a 30 percent discount of VAT rates on islands be maintained, while agreeing to reduce the expenditure ceiling for military spending by 200 million euros ($222 million) in 2016 and 400 million euros in 2017.

The labour reform framework would also be legislated in autumn 2015.

Meanwhile, thousands of pensioners lined up early Wednesday morning outside 1,000 bank branches opened to disperse pension payments to those without bank cards, Efe news agency reported.

Capital controls imposed by the Greek government have left retirees restricted to withdrawing a maximum of 120 euros ($133.5) each week, while all Greek banks have been closed since Monday, and will stay closed until July 6, a day after the referendum on whether Greece should stay in eurozone.

Banks have committed to issue credit or debit cards for the pensioners as soon as possible.

The cards will allow retirees to withdraw 60 euros ($66.7) per day from ATMs, and also make payments in shops and gas stations, or any place that accepts the card.

In alphabetical order, 1,000 bank branches will open from Wednesday through Friday to serve pensioners, while banks of Piraeus, a Greek multinational financial services company, will remain open throughout, the Greek finance ministry announced on Tuesday night.

According to another Xinhua report from Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday there would be no negotiations over a new bailout programme to Greece before the country’s referendum on Sunday, though the door for talks remained open.

“We are waiting for the referendum. Before the referendum, there will be no negotiation over a new aid programme,” she told the lower house of German parliament in a special session, adding that “we can wait calmly… Europe is strong, much stronger than five years ago when the European sovereign debt crisis started.”

“The future of Europe is not at stake,” Xinhua news agency quoted her as saying.

On Saturday, Greek Prime Minister Alexia Tsipras said the country would hold a referendum on July 5 on the latest debt deal proposed by its international creditors.

Merkel on Wednesday reiterated that the door to talks with the Greek government “was always and will always remain open”, but she would not seek compromise at any cost.

“A compromise can only be reached when advantages outweigh disadvantages,” she said. “A good European is not someone who seeks an agreement at any price. A good European is rather the one that respects the European treaties and relevant national laws and help in this way to ensure that the stability of the eurozone is not damaged.”

Earlier on Wednesday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Greece’s latest proposals displayed no further clarity on what Athens wanted. As the second bailout programme for Greece expired on Tuesday midnight, the situation had totally changed, and there was no basis for a new deal with Greece at the moment, he said.

(IANS)

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Australian Man Jacob Welsh from Geelong, Melbourne raises $4,000 to bring stray dog home from Greece

Welsh said he and Chance became inseparable after he found her lying in a pile of broken glass on the side of a busy road in Greece

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Jacob Welsh with the dog. Image source: Facebook

Melbourne, Sept 6, 2016: An Australian man Jacob Welsh has raised $4,000 to bring a stray dog home from Greece.

Welsh is from Geelong, 75 km from Melbourne, raised the money on a popular crowd-funding Website, to bring the dog, which he named “Chance,” back to Australia, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

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The resounding success of the campaign guaranteed Chance would have a home for the rest of her life, said Welsh.

“Thank you! She will not spend another night on the street thanks to all the help we’ve received,” Welsh wrote on social media on Tuesday.

Welsh said he and Chance became inseparable after he found her lying in a pile of broken glass on the side of a busy road in Greece.

“I called her over to me and she hesitantly approached, I gave her a little pat and ever since then she has followed me wherever I go,” he wrote on social media earlier.

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“I didn’t have the heart to leave her on the street after that so since then I have been sneaking her into my apartment, which has a strict no-pets policy.

“The sad reality of her going back on the streets is becoming more and more real as my time left in Greece comes to an end.

“Australia’s laws are very strict with this kind of thing but I have done the research and it is possible, just very expensive. If you can spare a few dollars Chance and I would really appreciate it.”

Costs involved in bringing an animal into Australia include a rabies vaccine, pet passport, plane tickets, airport transfers, de-worming medication and a pet carrier box. (IANS)

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Sex Ratio Tipping towards Men: An Exhaustive Look at Swedish Demographics

Norway swung to a male surplus in 2011, four years before Sweden, while Denmark and Switzerland are nearing a sex ratio of 100

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Sweden. Image source: VOA
  • A National statistics agency, SCB showed 277 more men than women in 2015
  • European Union population statistics suggests women will remain in the majority in most European countries for decades to come
  • Despite a natural birth rate of about 105 boys born for every 100 girls, European women have historically outnumbered men because they live longer

The natural sex ratio at birth, as presented by World Health Organization, WHO, is 105 boys for every 100 girls. However, predominantly, in the West, women have always been more numerous than men because they live longer. Hence, it came as a surprise in Sweden, when, in March last year, the census highlighted the fact that there were 277 more men than women.

What’s more, the number has since then grown to a massive 12000, which is still not very big compared to 9.7 million, which is the current population of Sweden, but definitely perplexing. Many demographic analysts and population experts, like Tomas Johansson and Frencesco Billari, confess they were not expecting this event to occur so soon.

There is currently an excess of 12 million women in the European Union, which has a population of approximately 500 million as a whole. Eurostat spokeswoman Baiba Grandovska believes, however, that this gap between the number of men and women is likely to narrow in the coming years,  “mainly because of the decreasing gap in life expectancy.” This comes as a result of an overall change in the lifestyle of men as compared to their fathers.

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Increasing awareness of heart diseases, adverse effects of smoking and drinking and more sophisticated medical equipment has encouraged them to modify the way they live. Wealthier countries now offer safer desk jobs as compared to working in mines and the construction business.

In Sweden, particularly, the numbers are going a little crazy. There was an unusual increase in the sex ratio to 108 boys for every 100 girls born in the year of 2014. Beating that increase, the sex ratio is now an absurd 123 boys for every 100 girls among 16-17 year olds, which beats even the sex imbalance in China and India.

sex ratio

Valerie Hudson of Texas A&M University, who released these numbers, attributes this sudden rise in the sex ratio to the sudden wave of refugees, mostly adolescent boys, from Afghanistan, Syria and North Africa that have run away from their war-stricken homes to seek asylum in Sweden. BBC reports that Sweden has received more asylum applications than any other country in Europe -163,000 just last year.

The Scandinavian country also houses immigrant-friendly laws; any underage refugee receives stable housing and financial resources. News like this travels fast and many young men often lie about their age to avail of these services, a matter that has now become a pressing concern. The authorities are debating the application of age determination tests for better screening of underage individuals; however, this is still a sensitive topic in the Nordic country.

Adding to the appealing benefits of being an underage refugee in this country, they also enjoy the right to family reunification, through which the entire family can be brought to Sweden. Experts believe this right may work in favor of improving the sex ratio, as an invitation for the entire family into Sweden may mean that sisters and mothers arrive in Sweden, driving up the number of females.

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Security forces of Sweden fear that the country may not be prepared to adjust to the masculine nature of its society. There is an expected increase in the number of crime against women, somewhat following in the footsteps of India and China. Unsatisfied male bachelors, who may not find spouses in time, have a possibility of propagating harassment cases against women, and that is a scary prospect.

Annick Wibben, of the University of San Francisco dismisses this trail of thought, claiming that the concept of gender equality is so deeply embedded in the Swedish society, that it does not make sense to compare with Indian and Chinese populations. “The way in which masculinity works in different societies needs to be taken into account”, she said.

-by Saurabh Bodas

Saurabh is pursuing his engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. 

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Pune: a City that enjoyed the status of being ancient Greece

Pune has been home to various social reformers. It relates in many of ways to Ancient Greece

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Thoseghar Waterfalls - Satara, Pune Source: Wikimedia Commons
800px-University_of_Pune,_Pune
University of Pune. Wikimedia Commons

Shruti Pandey

A city commonly referred to as ancient Greece of India has a long history on its part. Let us explore by merging Greece of Europe and Greece of Asia as Aasish Chandorkar elucidates the tale of two cities in a recent article published in Swarajya magazine. Here is the summary of his point of view:

Right from the birth of Thales of Miletus in 620 BCE to the death of Aristotle in 322 BCE, Greece saw a paradigm shift in its ideology, varying from mythology to science, myths to facts and reasoning based thought process. The work of various modern minds of Greece eventually led to the establishment of modern city state of Athens and paved a way for Greece to become a nation that could conquer the world.

In the similar context, Pune also lived the idea of thought processing. The outcomes resulted into political awakening, creation of institutions for lasting social change and impelling great minds to initiate a mutiny against the British rule.

The foursome of Mahadev Govind Ranade, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Dhondo Keshav Karve and Gopal Krishna Gokhale did exemplary jobs over the mission. When Ranade shifted to Pune in 1873 ,at the designation of a Magistrate, their ideas came together to impinge upon a political and social awakening. It included thoughts to awaken nationalism, surge the freedom movement and bring about a social renaissance in the nation. Pune lost this momentum with the death of Tilak in 1920. The time between 1873 and 1920 was the “Golden Philosophical Age” of Pune which was tried to be rejuvenated by Maharishi Karve later on.

Also Read: Punjab through the ages!

Pune was also seen as the potential contender of being the capital of India after British sought a move to change the capital from Kolkata to anywhere else. Pune still resumes the legacy left behind by conglomerate of social reformers and thinkers who left behind a galaxy of ideas and theories. The ideology of Pune is still thriving and growing. Very few Indians are aware of the fact that many of the social and liberal thoughts are accredited to this city and its Golden philosophical age. It is still a hub of world class educational institutions and is still a home to writers who aspire to bring about a change.

Shruti Pandey is a third year engineering student at HBTI, Kanpur and aspires to bring a change through words. Twitter handle: srt_kaka

 

 

One response to “Pune: a City that enjoyed the status of being ancient Greece”

  1. There was a time when this city was called as a pensioner’s paradise- an ideal place for the people who want to spend a peaceful time after many years of hardships of life. The enviroment here is salubrious.