How Greece’s election could shape the global economy

JOHN PSAROPOULOS, Freelance Reporter, to Judy Woodruff:

There’s a lot of insecurity, particularly among the old, who remember the Second World War. They have actually lived through starvation, famine, occupation. They have been hoarding money and food in their houses expecting the worst after the election if Greece really were to leave the Eurozone.

Among younger people, there’s a slightly different attitude. People are really taking a hopeful attitude, but a rather fearful one. So really they’re just praying and hoping for the best. It is a time of enormous uncertainty. The election is too close to call. And no one really feels certain about what’s going to happen on Monday morning.


Interesting fact from @PaulSolman this morning.
If you didn’t know, this whole situation in Europe is a pretty big deal.

Interesting fact from @PaulSolman this morning.

If you didn’t know, this whole situation in Europe is a pretty big deal.

Greek PM Names New Finance Minister Amid Turmoil, Syrian Troops Seize Town

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has named Evangelos Venizelos as the country’s new finance minister, tasking him with addressing the country’s debt crisis, even as members of his own party have rejected austerity measures that Greece must take by the end of this month in order to receive an aid package from the International Monetary Fund and European Union. A $160 billion aid package passed last year, $17 billion of which is set to be disbursed in July. Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Athens this week to protest the measures.

Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

Papandreou faces a declining majority in parliament and is attempting to reshuffle his cabinet before a possible vote of confidence. According to the Washington Post:

The possibility that Papandreou will fail — and be unable to commit the country to an austerity program negotiated with the IMF and European officials — is considered one of the chief risks pushing Greece toward a default on its bond payments and what the Obama administration and others consider potentially calamitous economic fallout.

Greece’s woes have added to alarm in the United States and elsewhere as a growing number of countries face the reality of heavy debt.

Syrian Troops Take Northwest Town of Maaret al-Numan

After retaking the restive town of Jisr al-Shughour last weekend, Syrian troops, tanks and helicopters have seized the town of Maaret al-Numan, some 28 miles from the border with Turkey, causing some of the town’s 100,000 residents to flee and compounding an already growing refugee crisis in nearby Turkey.

Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of protesters turned out Friday as the three-month-old opposition movement continued to call for the ouster of President Bashar Assad. International criticism of Assad and the government’s crackdown has grown steadier; on Friday France and Germany called for heavier sanctions against Syria.

Though outside media have been restricted, witnesses report summary executions, detentions of prisoners in large-scale sweeps, and other human rights abuses. Human rights groups estimate 10,000 have been arrested in addition to the 1,400 killed around the country.

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Al-Qaida Names al-Zawahri as bin Laden Successor, Political Uncertainty in Greece

A month and a half after the death of Osama bin Laden in a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a statement attributed to al-Qaida said his deputy, Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahri, 59, has succeeded him as head of the organization. The group’s statement, which was posted on an Islamist website, said al-Zawahri would lead the fight against the U.S. and Israel.

(AFP/Getty Images)

Al-Zawahri said in a video euology earlier this month that “[t]he sheikh has departed, may God have mercy on him, to his God as a martyr and we must continue on his path of jihad to expel the invaders from the land of Muslims and to purify it from injustice.”

The BBC analyzes the succession:

The BBC’s Middle East correspondent, Jon Leyne, says priorities for al-Qaeda’s new leader may include attempting to to mount a big attack to show the organisation is still in business.

In addition, he says, Zawahiri will want to turn the wave of unrest in the Middle East to al-Qaeda’s advantage - perhaps building more of a power base in Yemen and working to intensify the instability there.

You can read a series of statements his statements, dating back to 1998, here.

Al-Zawahri, who was formally trained as an eye surgeon, was seen by many as the automatic successor to bin Laden. Analysts say he is effective as an organizer but is less charismatic than bin Laden.

Large Protests in Greece Fuel Political Uncertainty

After riots broke out in Athens, with protesters decrying austerity measures being considered by members of parliament, Prime Minister George Papandreou is looking to reshuffle his cabinet and shore up his Socialist Party, which has seen growing division over the issue in recent days.

Papandreou was expected to call an emergency session on Thursday.

The austerity measures being considered would need to be in place by the end of June in order for Greece to receive an aid package to address the country’s steep debt from the International Monetary Fund and European Union. The measures have been controversial within the government and have spurred the demonstrations, which police used tear gas to contain on Wednesday.

Reports: Town on Pakistan Border Stormed by Militants

Pakistani officials say an estimated 200 heavily armed militants crossed the border from Afghanistan and raided the town of Mamoond, injuring local residents. The attack comes weeks after a similar raid in the Upper Dir region of Pakistan, which killed 25 Pakistani troops.

The border area is a sore point for both countries, as well as NATO forces in the area, and Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas pose a difficulty for rooting out insurgents.

Blast Targets Police Headquarters in Nigeria

An explosion at the police headquarters in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, created a thick plume of black smoke and destroyed nearby parked cars, according to witnesses. A police spokesman said two people were killed in the attack.

The body of a suicide bomber is also said to have been recovered. Though there have been several recent bombings, the use of suicide bombers remains relatively rare.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but a militant Islamist organization known as Boko Haram has launched several recent attacks on government and police facilities.

Violence in Vancouver After Stanley Cup Loss

Fans took to the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday night, rioting and looting following the Canucks’ 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanely Cup finals. Vehicles — including several police cars — were set on fire and shop windows smashed in as disappointed and drunken fans gathered in Vancouver’s streets. There were no reports of serious injuries.

Vancouver’s mayor, Gregor Robertson, said “Vancouver is a world-class city and it is embarrassing and shameful to see the type of violence and disorder we’ve seen tonight.”

Video from the scene shows cars being destroyed in the street and rioters being arrested.