06 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective



Greek referendum: optimism fades as eurozone says gulf has widened

Eurozone commissioner says referendum no vote has further complicated talks despite resignation of Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

Workers dismantle euro sign sculpture in front of the former ECB headquarters in Frankfurt.

Workers dismantle euro sign sculpture in front of the former ECB headquarters in Frankfurt. Photograph: Ralph Orlowski/Reuters

Hopes of a truce between Athens and its creditors after the Greek referendum’s resounding rejection of the terms of the bailout were fading fast, as European leaders said the gap between the two sides had widened.

The surprise resignation of the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis earlier on Monday had initially boosted hopes of a breakthrough, but the optimism proved shortlived.

“The no result unfortunately widens the gulf between Greece and other eurozone countries,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, the most senior European official in charge of the euro. “There is no easy way out of this crisis. Too much time and too many opportunities have been lost.”

Dombrovskis said “Greece is and remains part of Europe”, but declined to say whether that included being in the euro.

Greece had received €184bn (£130bn) in bailout funds since 2010, he said, adding that the no result made finding a solution more complicated. “In the euro area we have 19 democracies, not only one democracy,” said Dombrovskis, a former prime minister of Latvia, one of the newest entrants to the currency union.

The German chancellery warned that conditions for new talks with Greece had not been met.

“The government takes notice of the clear no vote and respects it,” Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said. “However, in light of the decision by the Greek citizens, the conditions to start negotiations on a new aid programme are not met yet.”

Merkel will head to Paris for crisis talks with her counterpart François Hollande, in an effort to forge a common Franco-German response, setting the stage for an emergency summit of all 19 eurozone leaders on Tuesday…………………….


Greece debt crisis: Banks to stay closed on Tuesday and Wednesday – live updates

Tsakalotos sworn in as finance minister

The deed is done. Euclid Tsakalotos has just been sworn in as the new Greek finance minister, by president Prokopis Pavlopoulos.



Not just Detroit: residents of nearby Michigan city face $11,000 water bills

Highland Park, a small hamlet surrounded by the city of Detroit, has endured a water war of its own with daunting, if not more severe, consequences

Highland Park, Michigan, is facing a crisis over water.

Highland Park, Michigan, is facing a crisis over water. Photograph: Carlos Osorio/AP

On a recent evening in June, a dozen activists crammed inside the kitchen of Emma Fogle’s home in Highland Park, a small hamlet surrounded by the city of Detroit.

Their city is under siege, they say, faced with the predicament of being cut off from a municipal water supply. The group convened the meeting over deep-dish pizza and soda to hammer out a three-day march to call attention to the issue, set to take place this weekend. In a city whose finances have been controlled by the state of Michigan on and off since the turn of the century, the group had a general consensus on who’s to blame.

“The state does not want us to have water,” says Fogle, a 74-year-old retired Ford worker.

Since last year, the tribulations of neighboring Detroit’s water shutoff program have drawn significant attention worldwide, as tens of thousands of residents faced the threat of the city turning off their tap for owing as little as $150 in overdue water bills.

But Highland Park has endured a water war of its own with daunting, if not more severe, consequences. Thrust into financial insecurity after decades of disinvestment, the city has a problem that residents say they simply cannot afford: Years of dysfunctional service – inconsistent billing, faulty meters, a constantly changing staff – have resulted in some receiving water bills as high as $11,000. (The median income in the city is $19,311.)……………….



Lawyer for environmental group ‘interrogated repeatedly’ at US border

Environmental activists for Deep Green Resistance in seven states say they have been questioned and harassed by US federal agents at work and at home

Larry Hildes

Larry Hildes at a protest in 2007. Photograph: Supplied

Deanna Meyer lives on a sprawling 280-acre goat farm south of Boulder, Colorado. She’s been an activist most of her adult life and has recently been involved in a campaign to relocate a prairie dog colony threatened by the development of a shopping mall in Castle Rock.

In October of last year, an agent with the Department of Homeland Security showed up at her mother’s house and later called her, saying he was trying to “head off any injuries or killing of people that could happen by people you know”.

Meyer was one of more than a dozen environmental activists, many of them members of the environmental group Deep Green Resistance, contacted by the FBI, DHS and state law enforcement investigators in late 2014. In one case they wanted to know if Deep Green Resistance was a front group for another organization involved in violent activity or sabotage.

Now the activists’ lawyer, Larry Hildes, seems to have been swept up in the investigation himself. On several occasions, Hildes says, he has been detained at border crossings for lengthy interrogations and questioned about Meyer.

The story was first reported in January but, until now, members of Deep Green Resistance had not spoken publicly about the wave of visits, which began with a call to the parents of an activist in Clearwater, Florida, on 1 October. Eight members of Deep Green Resistance and two other activists not affiliated with the group who were contacted around the same time have since come forward to the Guardian.

The activists recounted a mix of FBI visits from October to December as agents showed up at their workplaces, their homes, and in some cases contacted their families seeking information about Deep Green Resistance – and, in one case, asking a member if she was interested in “forming a liaison”. They were also purportedly interested in activist work surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline………….


A year after the war, Gaza grieves for its child casualties

At a school where six boys were killed during last summer’s Israeli offensive, the loss is an open wound. For other young Palestinians, the scars are psychological

Bullet and shell holes on a house in Gaza. Three-quarters of Gaza’s children experience unusual bedwetting regularly, and nine in 10 report constant feelings of fear, says a Save the Children report.

Bullet and shell holes on a house in Gaza. Three-quarters of Gaza’s children experience unusual bedwetting regularly, and nine in 10 report constant feelings of fear, says a Save the Children report. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Rex

The walls of the office of Salim Abu Rous, headmaster of the Doha boys’ secondary school in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, are decorated with medals and trophies. He has photo albums of the boys in football teams and other clubs.

About 1,000 pupils attend his school, arriving in two shifts – so many that he struggles to remember the names of all the boys killed in last summer’s war.

“I remember Haitham Abdul Wahab,” he says finally, flicking through one of the picture albums to try to find him. “He was a good boy. He was well loved in the school. He was killed at his uncle’s house with his brother and mother.”

Six pupils from the Doha school were killed in the war, more than from any other school in Gaza. In total, more than 550 Palestinian children died during the conflict. Across Gaza, schools lost pupils and teachers, and thousands were injured.

Salim Abu Rous’s difficulty in remembering all the dead boys is understandable given some had not long transferred into his large school.

A sandstorm over ruined buildings in Gaza.

A sandstorm over ruined buildings in Gaza. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Corbis

But there is another, grimmer, reason. “There were so many deaths in the last war,” he says – so many it was hard to process them. The consequence is that, on an institutional level at least, it appears as though the boys have been almost erased from the school’s memory.

But in their homes in neighbourhoods and villages across the Rafah area – which saw some of the heaviest attacks of the 50-day war – the anguish is still raw.

Anas Muamar was 16 when he was killed on 20 July last year………………



Keep it in the ground

Join us and more than 226,000 others in urging the world’s two biggest charitable funds to move their money out of fossil fuels

To Bill and Melinda Gates, founders of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Jeremy Farrar and Sir William Castell, director and chair of the Wellcome Trust:

Your organisations have made a huge contribution to human progress and equality by supporting scientific research and development projects. Yet your investments in fossil fuels are putting this progress at great risk, by undermining your long term ambitions.

Climate change poses a real threat to all of us, and it is morally and financially misguided to invest in companies dedicated to finding and burning more oil, gas and coal. Many philanthropic organisations are divesting their endowments from fossil fuels. We ask you to do the same: to commit now to divesting from the top 200 fossil fuel companies within five years and to immediately freeze any new investments in those companies.



Photo highlights of the day: eagles and kingfishers

The Guardian’s picture editors bring you a selection of the best photographs from around the world including the start of the Pamplona festival to Wimbledon’s manic Monday


Athens, Greece
Elderly people argue with a bank worker as they wait to be allowed to withdraw a maximum of €120 for the week. Follow our live news on Greece Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/AP

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