UPDATE 10PM ET 15 JULY 2015
The Greek parliament late on Wednesday voted in favor of a raft of strict austerity measures required for the country to qualify for a bailout from its creditors.
As the measures were being debated, riots broke out in Athens as an anti-austerity demonstration brought an estimated 12,000 protesters onto the streets.
more in tomorrow’s Note
MIDNIGHT 14 JULY 2015 – Greece set for bailout vote as IMF warns on debt relief
Greece heads for a crunch parliamentary vote on Wednesday as the deadline approaches for acceptance of sweeping austerity measures ahead of a European bailout.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has been trying to unite a fractured country – and his own party – behind the deal reached at the weekend, warned that the country’s banks could remain closed for a month, before any bailout could take effect.
Reuters reports, meanwhile, that the IMF has thrown something of a spanner in the works by warning that Greece will need much greater debt relief than its creditors have previously contemplated.
The IMF study, first reported by Reuters, said European countries would have to give Greece a 30-year grace period on servicing all its European debt, including new loans, and a dramatic maturity extension. Or else they must make annual transfers to the Greek budget or accept “deep upfront haircuts” on existing loans.
The Debt Sustainability Analysis is likely to sharpen fierce debate in Germany about whether to lend Greece more money. The debt analysis also raised questions over future IMF involvement in the bailout and will be seen by many in Greece as a vindication of the government’s plea for sweeping debt relief. A Greek newspaper called the report, which was initially leaked, a slap in the face for Berlin.
The New Statesman has the first interview with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis since his resignation.
* WORLD (AND OTHER WORLDS) *
Space scientists on Nasa’s New Horizons probe team are promising “bigger and better images” on Wednesday after an initial successful flyby of Pluto. The BBC reports:
Data in its first call home since Tuesday’s flyby suggest the spacecraft experienced no upsets as it hurtled past the icy world at 14km/s (31,000mph). The signal came through a giant dish in Madrid, Spain – part of a Nasa network of communications antennas.
The message took four hours 25 minutes to traverse 4.7 billion km of space.
Commentators and citizens have been digesting the Iran nuclear deal announced on Tuesday, and what it means for the future of the Middle East.
Elsewhere in the region’s troubled geopolitics, Charles Glass writes at The Intercept on the transformative nature of the Syrian refugee crisis.
To imagine that the long-term plight of millions of Syrian refugees in the Middle East and Europe will have no consequences is folly on a greater scale than predicting the Palestinian refugee problem would disappear after 1948. This is a political more than a humanitarian issue. For the refugee exodus to stop, the war must end.
US government officials said that none – that’s right, none – of the 21.5million Americans whose personal information was compromised two months ago in a breach of government data from the Office of Personnel Management has yet been formally notified. Meanwhile, an ex-NSA official called the OPM hack the “biggest counterintelligence threat in my lifetime.”
An FT investigation into cyber insecurity finds that, as budgets are cut, “US agencies responsible for vital national interests have been revealed to lack basic IT defenses.”
Karen Tumelty and Paul Kane at the Washington Post write on what the deal means for Hillary Clinton, saying that:
The 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner’s endorsement stands against nearly unanimous Republican opposition, led by denunciations from the large and growing field of GOP candidates. The clash offers further evidence that foreign policy could loom as a crucial issue in the election.
As Congressional Republicans organize their attack plan for the next 60 days, the agreement will also have serious implications for the GOP Presidential race. Eli Stokols and Katie Glueck at Politico write:
Looking past the initial race to react, the Iran deal brings two near-term shifts in the crowded Republican race.
One, it puts foreign policy even more sharply at the forefront of the campaign discussion. With Congress due to review the deal for the next couple of months, the issue of Iran and the larger Middle East turmoil will be very much a live one during the first Republican debates. That’s good news for those with foreign policy chops, and not-so-good news for those still studying up.
And two, it could give senators a perception edge currently enjoyed by governors, who typically are able to present themselves as the action-oriented executives. In this case, the senators get to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.
The aforementioned Ted Cruz will be in New York on Wednesday to meet with the man who, in some polls, is the current Republican “front-runner.” But before that, Donald Trump had a bit of a Twitter flap to deal with.
* MEDIA * The Guardian reported that Google had “accidentally” revealed data on its ‘right to be forgotten’ requests.
The data, which has not been revealed publicly until now, was found during an analysis of archived versions of Google’s transparency report and details the numeric breakdown of each request and associated link by country and issue type. The underlying source code has since been updated to remove these details.
In a strange-ish story on Tuesday afternoon, Twitter said that a report that it had received an offer to be acquired, was fake. The story appeared to come from Bloomberg, but ran on a domain that had only been registered on July 10, Reuters reports. Stock in Twitter spiked some 8 per cent on the report.
* BUSINESS * Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies before Congressional panels on Wednesday and Thursday. The Wall Street Journal looks at five topics that might come up.
Because Black Friday isn’t enough, Wednesday is Amazon’s self-styled “Prime Day” ostensibly to celebrate the company’s 20th birthday, but as Christian Camerota writes at Harvard Business Review,
[Marketing expert Sunil] Gupta said the main goal for Amazon in hosting Prime Day will clearly be customer acquisition, whether by attracting brand new customers through the sale’s buzz, or by getting occasional shoppers to make the leap to a Prime subscription. Not to be forgotten, current Prime subscribers will benefit from large savings on big ticket items. But the company may have other motives in mind, as well, such as fending off up-and-coming online retail competition. Many other companies (Walmart among them) have begun their own membership clubs that mimic Amazon’s low costs and reduced shipping rates. In these cases, however, Gupta believes Amazon has and can exploit a distinct advantage.
* SPORTS * The Anaheim Angels’ Mike Trout was named MVP of Tuesday night’s baseball All-Star Game in Cincinnati. The slugger – who is now the first player to win the award in consecutive seasons – led off the game with a home run off the LA Dodgers’ Zack Grienke as the American League went on to win 6-3.