And gradually, the country that gave the world ‘democracy’ descends into another word it also created — ‘anarchy’. Understandably, no one on the tense, graffiti-splattered streets of Athens wanted to discuss this possibility ahead of the Greek election in case it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For many, though, it is hard to envisage how much further they can fall.
We are unlikely to see this nation implode in the immediate aftermath of the vote. The most probable outcome is more procrastination and horse-trading — just like the dithering that followed the last, entirely inconclusive election in May, since when Greece has been without a government. But deep down, everyone knows that the status quo cannot go on much longer.
Greece is on borrowed time. Ultimately, Greeks face a choice between swallowing the austerity package imposed by the EU’s German paymasters — punitive taxation and a purge of the public sector — or they can be relegated from the euro and return to a much-devalued drachma. The second option would see the country’s existing wealth cut by half. And while it might enable Greece to rebuild itself over time, the first months of that journey would be perilous as a bankrupt nation found itself unable to buy essentials such as medicines, not to mention food.
It is a nightmare scenario that some have called ‘Drachmageddon’. And it is one Britain will feel acutely as billions are wiped off the value of their shareholdings and pension funds as the markets tumble amid fears that Spain and Italy might be next. One thing is certain. Absolutely no one in Athens expects any improvement in the dismal situation that constitutes ordinary life in Greece today.
There is a palpable sense of poverty almost everywhere. Some areas have become feral no-go zones after dark. And yet, most surprising is the sense of calm, almost defiant resignation. There has been no stampede for petrol or food. True, people have been withdrawing cash at the rate of up to 800 million euros a day, and an estimated 70 billion euros is thought to have been squirrelled away in foreign bank accounts in recent months. But what is perhaps more surprising is that 170 billion euros are still sitting in ordinary Greek bank accounts. There have been no queues outside Athenian banks this week. In short, there is no panic. 'Perhaps this is what it feels like just before the volcano is about to explode. This election offers no clear solution, no clear choice between “in” or “out” of the euro. So many people have taken the view that what will happen, will happen.’
LARGEST QUAKES -
Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)
This morning -
6.1 SOLOMON ISLANDS
6.0 LUZON, PHILIPPINES
5.0 MAUG ISLANDS REG, N. MARIANA IS.
5.0 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.4 BISMARCK SEA
5.6 MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES
Italy Quakes Threaten Summer Tourism as Recession Bites - Italy's strongest earthquakes in three years and more than 1800 aftershocks are deterring tourists in the peak summer season.
Azerbaijan earthquake risk is significant - Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is at risk of a devastating earthquake similar to one that leveled the country's previous capital in 1859, researchers say.
Red alert declared over Kamchatka's Shiveluch eruption - The Shiveluch volcano on Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East has erupted ash rising to an altitude of 8 km above sea level.
TROPICAL STORMS -
In the Pacific -
-Post-tropical cyclone Carlotta was located about 90 mi [145 km] ENE of Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Carlotta is now a remnant low over the high terrain of Mexico. Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides possible for several more days.
-Super Typhoon 05w (Guchol) was located approximately 550 nm south of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.
Super Typhoon Sets Aim at Japan - Guchol, a tropical cyclone in the western Pacific, rapidly strengthened Saturday afternoon, local time. Winds are now in excess of 150 mph, making Guchol a super typhoon.
Tropical Storm Carlotta weakens over Mexico's Pacific coast, two children dead - Category 2 Hurricane Carlotta weakened into a tropical depression on Saturday after battering Mexico's Pacific coast. Hurricane Carlotta slammed into Mexico's resort-studded Pacific coast late Friday, toppling trees and lashing hotels.
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -
Chilean project aims to improve plant resistance to extreme weather - Chilean researchers are developing an antioxidant product to improve fruit resistance to cold spells.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / CLIMATE CHANGE -
The wildfire burning just west of Fort Collins, Colorado, has destroyed 181 homes.
Authorities in Greece have been battling wildfires in several locations near the capital Athens. More than 150 firefighters were called to tackle the fires which broke out on Saturday and spread in high winds. Three of them were reported injured. The biggest fire was reported to be near the town of Keratea, 50 km (30 miles) south of Athens.
It is believed the fire was started by sparks from welding work at a construction site. Four people have been arrested for accidentally causing the fire. High temperatures and strong winds have been hampering the effort to extinguish the fires "We are trying to coordinate and people are frustrated and very anxious as you can realise."
Another fire in the Athens suburb of Pallini damaged a factory, with at least two other fires reported near the capital. Greece has asked Italy, France and Croatia for help in the form of more firefighting planes. In 2007 Greece declared a state of emergency when more than 60 people died in a wave of forest fires.
SPACE WEATHER -
STRONG COMPRESSION OF EARTH'S MAGNETOSPHERE - As expected, a double CME hit Earth's magnetic field on June 16th around 0900 UT. Intitially, the impact appeared to be weak, but now the effects are growing. Analysts say the impact strongly compressed Earth's magnetic field, directly exposing some geosynchronous satellites to solar wind plasma. Geomagnetic storms and auroras are possible in the hours ahead.
CHANCE OF FLARES - Sunspot AR1504 has developed a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong solar flares and the huge sunspot is directly facing Earth. NOAA forecasters estimate a 65% chance of M-flares and a 5% chance of X-flares from AR1504 during the next 24 hours. So far the sunspot region fired off two M-class flares, and two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) on June 13th and 14th. A huge prominence has also popped up on the sun's western limb.