Governments have collapsed. Bailouts have run into the hundreds of billions of euros. Greece is drowning in debt, Italy ousted longtime leader Silvio Berlusconi in a bid to claw its way out, and Spaniards rejected the ruling Socialists, hoping that political change might spare them the woes of their neighbors. Still, the two-year debt crisis builds. How did the eurozone get here? The graphics below paint part of the picture: untaxed shadow economies, low productivity, and deficit spending. While deficits have been curtailed significantly since 2009 due to austerity measures, some see deeper systemic problems. Take Greece. "For 10 years, investors basically believed that Greece was Germany," says Jacob Kirkegaard, of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. But, he says, Greece is "fundamentally a corrupt, dysfunctional government that is unable to raise enough tax revenue to pay for all of its expenses." Then there's Spain. The size of its debt relative to its economy is a manageable 67 percent, but sluggish growth undermines investors' faith that it can repay loans. Those who lost money in Greece are in no hurry to lose more in Spain.
As Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez struggles to make CELAC into an anti-US regional body, alternative group UNASUR is actually being productive, says blogger James Bosworth.
Ayman Zawahiri, the current Al Qaeda boss, released a recorded speech claiming credit for the kidnapping of veteran US aid worker Warren Weinstein.
Guest blogger Jason K. Stearns -- who is observing the elections in Bukavu -- provides a few results, and warns that charges of irregularities suggest the potential for violence ahead.
US officials are proposing new measures to force Cuba to release USAID worker Alan Gross from prison, but guest blogger Anya Landau French suggests trying something different.
In the United States more than 34 million tons of food is wasted annually. Much of it ends up in landfills, where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide.
Pakistan today authorized its border troops to return fire without first seeking permission, in response to last weekend's NATO airstrike that killed two dozen Pakistani troops.
Today's papers help make sense of the incomprehensible European debt crisis, and what European governments plan to do about it.
Every year, the group Transparency International releases its Corruption Perception Index, which measures the perception of corruption – misuse of public resources, bribery, and backdoor deals, to name a few – in countries worldwide. On a scale of 0 (most corrupt) to 10 (least corrupt), no country scores a 10 and more than two-thirds of the 183 countries on the index score below a 5. The US comes in at 7.1. The index is built using data from surveys examining enforcement of anticorruption laws, tracking of public funds, kickbacks in government contracts, etc.