As a result of the stagnation in the eurozone, the economic crisis in Russia has worsened considerably. Faced with a looming recession, the Kremlin is preparing massive cuts in social spending. The signs of an incipient recession have been mounting in recent months. Due to falling oil prices, the rouble has fallen against the dollar since March by a total of about 13 percent. For this reason, there was a run on foreign exchange offices in Moscow in early June. The shares of several large companies and banks, including those of state-owned Gazprom, crashed on stock markets by up to 20 percent.
Just over a week after the European Union summit, at which the government leaders spoke of growth and an end to austerity, all European governments are preparing to implement massive cuts across the continent along Greek lines. In Greece itself, despite the deep recession, further cutbacks are being pushed through.
Last Friday, Andonis Samaras delivered his first substantial parliamentary speech as the new Greek prime minister. He not only assured the so-called troika—the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—that Greece would fulfill all previously agreed cuts, which include cutting 150,000 public sector jobs. He also announced further privatizations and structural measures.
The two-day European Union summit concluded Thursday with an agreement, reached after 14 hours of acrimonious talks, to provide short-term relief to besieged Spanish and Italian banks by allowing the EU bailout fund to directly aid euro zone banks. Previously, the rules governing the 500 billion-euro European Stability Mechanism (ESM), slated to come on line next month, restricted EU lending to national governments.
Circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to grievous bodily harm, a German court has ruled. The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled on Tuesday that the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents”, a judgement that is expected to set a legal precedent. “The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised,” the court said. The case was brought against a doctor in Cologne who circumcised a four-year-old Muslim boy on his parents’ wishes.