"On paper, the country's leaders in Athens would seem to be well-practiced reformers. But it is a course that led to the collapse of the Socialist government under Georgios Papandreou--and one that could ultimately destroy that of his successor, current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. His coalition came close to collapse last month in the wake of his unilateral decision to shut down public broadcaster ERT. The station is back on the air, but Samaras lost a coalition partner, leaving him with a majority of just a handful of delegates in parliament," writes David Böcking for Der Spiegel.
"When [EU officials] defend austerity, they do so from a framework of the European treaties, which tell them in great detail how fiscal adjustment must take place and what happens if it does not. It is not so much that they are in denial over the effect of fiscal austerity on unemployment. Some are, some are not. But it is outside their frame of reference. It is no surprise therefore that the system prescribes the wrong medicine," writes Wolfgang Münchau for the Financial Times.
"The more implausible austerity becomes as an economic remedy, the more unchallengeable it seems to become as a political mantra. Its most consistent advocate, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, is up for re-election this September. She is unlikely to change her tune--which is popular among German taxpayers--before that. Nor is she likely to change it if she wins another term," writes the New York Times' editorial board.
Chinese Activist Detained
Beijing police have taken prominent legal scholar Xu Zhyiyong into custody (SCMP), his lawyer said yesterday. While President Xi Jinping has prioritized anticorruption efforts, the arrest--one of dozens recently--has many fearing Beijing is cracking down on activists.
Panama Calls for UN Investigation of North Korean Ship
Panama called on the UN to investigate the North Korean ship seized at the Panama Canal, which was smuggling Soviet-era weapons from Cuba in apparent breach of UN sanctions (Reuters). U.S.-Cuba talks on migration went ahead as planned on Wednesday.