May 20 2012

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Greek cash withdrawals raise fear of run on banks

 A leftist leader’s call to nationalize banks has unnerved middle-class Greeks, whose withdrawals are fueling a drain on deposits of about $1 billion a day from an already threatened financial system.

Eva, a well-groomed pensioner, grasps her creamy white purse, glancing impatiently at her gold Cartier watch as she waits for the manager of an Athens bank. She is offered tea, cookies and orange juice, none of which the state bank usually provides, and none of which Eva accepts.

“I’m concerned,” says the 82-year-old, who declined to give her last name because she was involved in a private transaction. “I’m thinking of withdrawing all my savings.”

Greek banks have been bleeding money since inconclusive elections this month, and the rise of a Marxist-Leninist leader bent on bustingBerlin’sausterity crusade, plunged the country into the biggest political crisis in decades and raised the specter of a devastating default.

 By Anthee Carassava, Los Angeles Times

Sunday’s Headlines:

G8 summit: lack of new funding to fight poverty disappoints NGOs

Afghans ‘not ready’ as US starts pull-out

Politicians look East to study as West closes doors

The vain search for dialogue in a battle-scarred Syria

Los Angeles Lives by Car, but Learns to Embrace Bikes


G8 summit: lack of new funding to fight poverty disappoints NGOs

$3bn announcement by Obama goes only a small way to fulfilling $22bn pledge dating back to 2009

    Ewen MacAskill in Chicago

   guardian.co.uk, Sunday 20 May 2012 03.01 BST

Aid agencies have expressed disappointment over the failure of the G8 to commit significant amounts of new money towards the goal of removing the threat of hunger from tens of millions of people.

The G8 at L’Aquila in Italy in 2009 pledged $22bn to help end hunger for 50 million people through to the end of 2012. But the G8 summit at Camp David in the US has offered no further cash pledges, other than $3bn from the private sector announced by Barack Obama on Friday.

 Afghans ‘not ready’ as US starts pull-out

British soldiers are on full alert as a bloody Taliban backlash is predicted, Jonathan Owen reports. Nato powers meet in Chicago to review policy

 Sunday 20 May 2012

British soldiers in Afghanistan face a surge in attacks by Taliban fighters seeking to exploit an imminent withdrawal of US marines in the region where they are based. Experienced US soldiers are to be replaced by a fledgling Afghan army corps despite the American belief that there isn’t a single Afghan military unit in the replacement force which is able to act independently.

The withdrawal plan is revealed in a new report by the US Department of Defense published before this weekend’s Nato summit in Chicago. It describes the plans as “the biggest challenge for the remainder of 2012”.

 Politicians look East to study as West closes doors

 The love affair that politicians have with international universities is stronger than ever – depending on which side of the political divide one is on – with both Western and Eastern countries enrolling children and wives of Zimbabwe’s political elite.


The first family has Bona Mugabe, who is now studying for a master’s degree in Singapore. Before that she was studying in Hong Kong for a degree in Business Administration.

Bona follows in her mother’s footsteps. The First Lady, Grace Mugabe passed a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese with a university in China last year.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Dr Gideon Gono, had three children, namely Pride, Praise and Passion, studying in Australia until there were calls to deport them because of their father’s role in Zanu-PF.

 The vain search for dialogue in a battle-scarred Syria

Often in politics it comes down to one man. In Syria, it is Bashar al-Assad.

By Lyse Doucet BBC News   20 May 2012

Everywhere we travelled in Syria last week the president’s name was invoked.

“Bashar must go!” was the constant refrain in impromptu protests we saw in neighbourhoods in Damascus and Homs.

At other times on some streets, Syrians would whisper tersely: “We can’t talk to you.” Then with a gesture of a knife slitting their throat, they would add: “Bashar would kill me”.

But there was another narrative too.

Los Angeles Lives by Car, but Learns to Embrace Bikes



LOS ANGELES – It was a warm April morning in downtown Los Angeles, and there was not a car on the road. For five hours, the streets were commandeered by nearly 100,000 people on bicycles – old and young, wearing spandex and silly hats, dogs and babies perched on handlebar baskets – in a celebration that produced a sight that once would have seemed inconceivable in this city of cars.

It was the fourth time this city closed its streets for the event known as CicLAvia, and it was the largest one yet.

These days in Los Angeles, there are midnight bike rides, East Side bike rides, women’s bike rides and nude bike rides rolling out nearly every day. In the past 18 months, close to 40 miles of bike paths and lanes have been created across the city and the City Council passed a measure to prevent bicyclists from being harassed by motorists.

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