Lee Buchheit, fairy godmother to finance ministers in distress
Lee Buchheit, a lawyer at US firm Cleary Gottlieb, has been present at all the major debt crises of the past three decades. His reputation among investors is as a fearsome and aggressive litigator, but finance ministers in distress see him as something of a fairy godmother.[more inside]
On Saturday the EU mandated that all bank deposits in Cyprus pay a 6.75% "stability levy" on the first €100,000 and 9.9% on the excess to help pay for €6 billion of the €10 billion bank bailout. This is despite opposition from the Cyprus finance minister, who stated earlier this month that "there really couldn't be a more stupid idea" and more recently that "I wish I was not the minister to do this". The scale of the bailout is nearly 50% of Cyprus' entire GPD, and many officials are concerned that the money will go to Russian gangsters and oligarchs. The Saturday announcement lead to a run on the ATMs, which caused banks to restrict electronic transfers and set a €400 withdrawal limit. Most ATMs were out of money by the end of the day and a frustrated man threatened one bank with a bulldozer. The plan was scheduled to be voted on by parliament on Sunday, but it has been delayed to Monday and might not be passed by politicians who have heard complaints from their Cypriot constituents all weekend. The Cyprus President warned of total financial collapse and euro exit if it is not approved.
Perry Anderson's book length three part series on the history of India from the beginnings of its independence movement, through independence and partition into its recent history as a nation-state is the latest in a series of erudite, opinionated and wordy articles in The London Review of Books by the UCLA professor of history and sociology on the modern history of various countries, so far taking in Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, the EU, Russia, Taiwan and France. [more inside]
Labour, which had started the disasters of Cyprus by denying it any decolonisation after 1945, had now completed them, abandoning it to trucidation [by doing nothing when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974]. London was quite prepared to yield Cyprus to Greece in 1915, in exchange for Greek entry into the war on its side. Had it done so, all subsequent suffering might have been avoided. It is enough to compare the fate of Rhodes, still closer to Turkey and with a comparable Turkish minority, which in 1945 peacefully reverted to Greece, because it was an Italian not a British colony. In the modern history of the Empire, the peculiar malignity of the British record in Cyprus stands apart.The Divisions of Cyprus, an article in The London Review of Books by historian Perry Anderson, is an excellent history of Cyprus from 1878 to the modern day as well as a polemic against the way that outside powers have treated the island. [more inside]
A very expensive typo. For twelve hours on April 5, a business class fare on Alitalia from Toronto to Lanarca, Cyprus was $39 CAD instead of the usual $3900. Someone at farecompare.com with access to ATPCO airfare feeds found the error and posted the news to FlyerTalk, which started a stampede for tickets that lasted until the fare was belatedly corrected. Alitalia initially tried to cancel the already issued tickets, sparking debates debates over whether the obviously wrong fares should be honored. Alitalia eventually relented, and a lucky 500-2000 people (according to some guesses) will be flying to Cyprus for under $200 including taxes.
Arounder has an ongoing collection of high-quality full screen Quicktime VR panoramas of European cities, focusing on famous artistic and cultural landmarks (in Rome, Florence, Köln, Barcelona, Cyprus), with interactive maps and travel information. A collaboration with national tourist offices by Swiss company Vrway Communication, which also publishes Vrmag, a bi-monthly review of panorama photography, and the FullscreenQTVR directory in collaboration with the well-known panoramas.dk (previously mentioned on metafilter: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
The European Union welcomes 10 new members! As I write this, the celebrations have started as Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia become members of the EU today. While some folks are gonna party like crazy, others are warning of doom and gloom. What do you think? Will this have significant effects on global culture, politics, and economics - or will it merely represent a paper change within the rarefied world of European diplomats, with little other than localized effects on day to day life?
Cyprus the tiny island, smaller than Connecticut, fought over for millennia, divided by war between the Greeks and Turks. Is Cyprus finally going to come to a peaceful resolution and reunification, or will it be the lynch pin for the whole EU?