The Global Security News: 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites): Eurasia Review: The EU Has Destroyed Greece Beyond Repair – OpEd

By Dr. John C. Hulsman*

On paper, the just-concluded Greek parliamentary elections were a
triumph for investors. The leftist, populist Syriza party of Prime
Minister Alexis Tsipras has been replaced by the far more acceptable (in
investors’ eyes) center-right New Democracy (ND) party of Kyriakos
Mitsotakis.

The ND won an impressive 40 percent of the overall vote, and a dominant
parliamentary majority of 158 of the 300 seats in the new Greek
Parliament, even as Tsipras and Syriza slumped to 32 percent and 86
seats in total. This dominant victory — at least at first glance — would
seem to give Mitsotakis the electoral mandate he needs to desperately
remake a Greek society that has endured nothing less than an economic
nightmare for the past decade.

Again, on the surface, Mitsotakis is saying everything right. His
electoral platform called for market-oriented structural reforms. First,
the new premier pledges to cut taxes by the start of 2020. Second, the
ND wants to digitize sclerotic Greek public services on the lines of
Estonia’s ground-breaking reforms, making public administration faster,
better and more accountable.

Third, Mitsotakis wants to remove onerous government-imposed private
barriers to public businesses. Fourth, if this highly ambitious program
is enacted and successfully put in place, Mitsotakis pledges to attract
the desperately necessary foreign investment to get Greece off its knees
and back on its economic feet.

Without delving beneath the surface, all this sounds wonderful. And yet
context is everything in political risk analysis. Mitsotakis’ famous
victory has less to do with his platform and much more to do with being
the beneficiary of the growth-starved Greek electorate, tired of both
Syriza’s empty promises and a decade of depression. For the Tsipras
government was, in retrospect, undermined fatally in August 2015, when
the premier saw his domestic credibility vanish as he and Syriza
endorsed European Central Bank (ECB) austerity measures to enable a
third $94 billion bailout.

This came after Tsipras was elected on a strict anti-austerity platform
and a month after Greek voters — in a July 5, 2015 referendum —
decisively opposed the German/EU/ECB-led pressure for Athens to adopt
further austerity measures in return for the further bailout of $94
billion. In return, Greece was required to become little more than a
vassal state of Brussels, ignoring the democratic will of its people and
implementing further tax reform, privatizing public assets, cutting
public spending, and reforming its antiquated labor laws.

Even though it is undoubtedly true that some of these economic
prescriptions were absolutely necessary, in ignoring the referendum and
forcing Tsipras to cravenly cave in to German pressure, the EU showed
itself to be more about Germany and the other great powers protecting
their interests (in this case those of the feckless German banks that
had so unwisely loaned the Greeks money) rather than heeding the popular
will of its members. Sham democracy indeed.

What every side in the Greek tragedy can agree on is that the country
has been in an economic nightmare since October 2009. That was the month
that then-newly elected Prime Minister George Papandreou dramatically
revealed that, contrary to Greece’s own accounts up until that point,
the country’s budget deficit was actually a whopping 12 percent of gross
domestic product (GDP), which was later revised up to 15 percent. This
bolt from the blue prompted credit ratings agencies to downgrade Greek
sovereign debt to junk status by early 2010.

Even after all these years, it is simply indisputable that the tough
economic remedies forced on Greece by Germany, the EU and the ECB have
yet to really work. It is true that, in August 2018, Greece finally
exited its third bailout program, and it now owes the EU and the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) an unimaginable $330 billion. Greek
public debt remains — after the three bailouts designed to “help” the
country — an Everest-like 180 percent of GDP, while Greece has solemnly
committed to running budget surpluses until the highly improbable year
of 2060. Overall, the Greek economy is fully 25 percent smaller now than
when the crisis began.

Even in 2018, while GDP grew at 2.1 percent (it has since slipped to 1.3
percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019), overall
unemployment remained at the depression-era level of 20 percent, while
youth unemployment rose to a stratospheric 40 percent in March 2019.
Perhaps most devastatingly of all, the IMF continues to predict that
Greece will require further bailouts before its economy can be made
sustainable once again.

Frankly, the IMF’s prescription passes Einstein’s test for insanity — to
advocate doing the same thing over and over again and somehow expect a
different result. The result here is clear: The EU has destroyed Greece
beyond repair, making it an economic colony even as it has decisively
failed — and here of course the Greek people are also hugely to blame —
to salvage its economy.

Tellingly, many of Mitsotakis’ hoped-for economic reforms are subject to
IMF and ECB overlordship and review before they may go into effect.
Europe, economically sclerotic, is losing even the veneer of democratic
governance. Greece has been ruined beyond repair, both economically and
politically. Who is next?

  • Dr. John C. Hulsman is the president and managing partner of John C.
    Hulsman Enterprises, a prominent global political risk consulting firm.
    He is also senior columnist for City AM, the newspaper of the City of
    London. He can be contacted via www.chartwellspeakers.com.

Eurasia Review

1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites)

The Global Security News

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The Global Security News: 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites): Eurasia Review: More Women Using Cannabis Daily Before And During Pregnancy

The number of women using cannabis in the year before they get
pregnant and early in their pregnancies is increasing, and their
frequency of use is also rising, according to new data from Kaiser
Permanente.

The research, published in JAMA Network Open, examined self-reported cannabis use among 276,991 pregnant women (representing 367,403 pregnancies) in Northern California over 9 years and found that cannabis use has increased over time.

From 2009 to 2017, the adjusted prevalence of self-reported
cannabis use in the year before pregnancy increased from 6.8% to 12.5%,
and the adjusted prevalence of self-reported cannabis use during
pregnancy increased from 1.9% to 3.4% (rates were adjusted for
demographics). Annual rates of change in self-reported daily, weekly,
and monthly-or-less cannabis use increased significantly, though daily
use increased most rapidly.

Among women who self-reported cannabis use during the year before
pregnancy, the proportion who were daily users increased from 17% to
25%, and weekly users increased from 20% to 22%, while monthly-or-less
users decreased from 63% to 53% during the study period. Similarly,
among women who self-reported cannabis use during pregnancy, the
proportion who were daily users increased from 15% to 21%, and weekly
users from 25% to 27%, while monthly users decreased from 60% to 52%.

“These findings should alert women’s health clinicians to be
aware of potential increases in daily and weekly cannabis use among
their patients,” said lead author Kelly Young-Wolff, PhD, MPH, a
research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. “The
actual numbers are likely higher, as women may be unwilling to disclose
their substance use to a medical professional.”

In addition, the prevalence of daily and weekly cannabis use may
have risen even further in the past year and a half following
legalization of cannabis for recreational use in California in 2018,
Young-Wolff said.

The data come from women’s initial prenatal visits at Kaiser
Permanente in Northern California, which usually take place at around 8
weeks gestation, and do not reflect continued use throughout pregnancy.
Investigators were unable to differentiate whether self-reported
cannabis use during pregnancy occurred before or after women were aware
that they were pregnant.

While the current findings are based on women’s self-reporting, the
results are supported by the Kaiser Permanente research team’s December
2017 JAMA Research Letter showing an increase in prenatal cannabis use
via urine toxicology testing. In this newer study, the authors focus on
trends in frequency of use in the year before and during pregnancy.

Some women may use cannabis during pregnancy to manage morning
sickness, the authors noted. The authors’ previous work published in
JAMA Internal Medicine in 2018 found women with severe nausea and
vomiting in pregnancy were nearly 4 times more likely to use cannabis
during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Women may get the impression from cannabis product marketing and
online media that cannabis use is safe during pregnancy, said
Young-Wolff. However, there is substantial evidence that exposure to
cannabis in pregnancy is associated with having a low-birthweight baby,
and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends
women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy discontinue cannabis
use because of concerns about impaired neurodevelopment and exposure to
the adverse effects of smoking.

“There is still much that is unknown on the topic, including what
type of cannabis products pregnant women are using and whether the
health consequences differ based on mode of cannabis administration and
frequency of prenatal cannabis use,” Young-Wolff noted.

More research is needed to offer women better, specific advice,
said study senior author Nancy Goler, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist
and associate executive director of The Permanente Medical Group.

“There is an urgent need to better understand the effects of
prenatal cannabis exposure as cannabis becomes legalized in more states
and more widely accepted and used,” Dr. Goler said. “Until such time as
we fully understand the specific health risks cannabis poses for
pregnant women and their fetuses, we are recommending stopping all
cannabis use prior to conceiving and certainly once a woman knows she is
pregnant.”

The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Young-Wolff and Kaiser Permanente Division of Research colleague
Lindsay Avalos, PhD, MPH, have received a new 5-year grant from NIDA to
support further research on maternal cannabis use during pregnancy. They
plan to study whether prenatal cannabis use is associated with
increased risk of adverse maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes using
data from urine toxicology testing, self-reported frequency of prenatal
cannabis use, and mode of cannabis administration. They will also test
whether legalization of cannabis for recreational use in 2018 and local
regulatory practices (such as retailer bans) are associated with
variation in prenatal cannabis use.

Eurasia Review

1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites)

The Global Security News

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Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The FBI News Review: “fbi” – Google News: Seattle FBI searches home of ousted King County commissioner – KING5.com

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Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites)

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1. New York and Brooklyn from Michael_Novakhov (111 sites): Twitter Search / NYDailyNews: New Yorkers brace for a heatwave. A look at Saturday’s cover… https://trib.al/zYyp3kM pic.twitter.com/xdameZb7Yn

New Yorkers brace for a heatwave.

A look at Saturday’s cover…
https://trib.al/zYyp3kM 

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1. New York and Brooklyn from Michael_Novakhov (111 sites): Twitter Search / NYDailyNews: “Dispatches,” created by “How I Met Your Mother” star Jason Segal is the latest acting project for OutKast’s Andre 3000. He’s starred in ABC’s critically acclaimed “American Crime” and the 2013 Jimi Hendrix biopic “Jimi: All Is By My Side.” https://trib.al/T5RqMff

“Dispatches,” created by “How I Met Your Mother” star Jason Segal is the latest acting project for OutKast’s Andre 3000. He’s starred in ABC’s critically acclaimed “American Crime” and the 2013 Jimi Hendrix biopic “Jimi: All Is By My Side.” https://trib.al/T5RqMff 

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