Greece’s latest annual survey of living standards, published on Monday by the country’s independent statistical agency Elstat, highlights the deepening impact on households of a wrenching six-year recession. Some figures leap off the page, even though observers in Athens are used to a flow of gloomy statistics. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
General Sir Philip Chetwode, deputy chief of Britain’s Imperial General Staff, warned in 1919: “The habit of interfering with other people’s business and making what is euphoniously called ‘peace’ is like buggery; once you take to it, you cannot stop.”
After changing the constitution so he could run again, Evo Morales has just won another term as president of Bolivia – his third – in a landslide vote. The former union leader won majority control of the Congress and the Senate. He also dominates the judiciary. He now has consolidated control of the country. Any successes or failures over the next five years will therefore be Morales’ alone. The biggest question is if this will be it – or, in five years time, if he will seek a fourth term. Read more
I suspect that many people’s first reactions to the news that Malala Yousafzai has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize will have been similar to mine: joy that Malala had got the award, but slight puzzlement that it has been given to her jointly with Kailash Satyarthi, a much less-famous Indian campaigner. Read more
Brazil at the crossroads
The first round of voting in Brazil’s presidential elections is over and the incumbent Dilma Rousseff will face a centre right candidate Aécio Neves in the second round. Gideon Rachman discusses the differences between the candidates and what is at stake with Joe Leahy and Jonathan Wheatley
For a country that so recently harboured ambitions as a great regional power, Turkey is offering an unedifyingly feeble spectacle on its border with Syria, as the merciless fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) close in on the besieged Kurdish town of Kobani. This could be a defining moment for the Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the man who has dominated its politics like no other since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who forged the republic out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.
Despite President Erdogan’s regional swagger, and Turkey’s possession of the second largest army in Nato, the country’s neo-Islamist leadership appear unwilling or unable to prevent a bloodbath at Kobani happening within sight of their tanks. This refusal to act could also sabotage an Erdogan legacy project of a peace settlement with Turkey’s large Kurdish minority, a probable casualty of Kobani as Kurds rise across the region in fury that Ankara is not just watching the town’s defenders being massacred by the jihadi fanatics of Isis but obstructing others trying to aid them. Read more
With protests now into their second week in Hong Kong, many are asking what it will now take to get the city back to normal. While schools and government offices are back open, many key roads in three of Hong Kong’s main business districts remain behind the barricades. Though protester numbers have dwindled, previous efforts to remove them have merely served as a rallying cry. So what’s the likely endgame? Read more
By Gideon Rachman
Is Vladimir Putin a wimp? The Russian president has a macho image and has shocked the west with his annexation of Crimea. But, in Moscow, there are hardliners who seem frustrated that he has not gone further.
The similarities are many: a former British colony, a population ruled by a political party that’s been in power for about half a century, a postage-stamp sized land mass and a big Asian financial centre that is attracting global capital.
Singapore and Hong Kong share much in common. But this weekend the big difference is that Singapore’s streets are quiet, with traffic flowing as normal, while Hong Kong is on edge as the Occupy movement mobilises masses of protesters against widely unpopular electoral arrangements foisted on its people by Beijing.
Singapore, a tightly governed island nation, has been watching closely what has been happening over the past week in Hong Kong. Read more