Must-Reads from Around the World

Euro zone finance ministers and the IMF reach a deal on a bailout for Greece, shadow banking in China raises concerns about massive loan defaults, and the remains of Yasir Arafat are exhumed as part of investigation into his death

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Greece Bailout Deal — The International Monetary Fund and euro zone finance ministers have reached a deal on a bailout for Greece, reports the BBC. The agreement cuts the country’s debt by 40 billion euros ($51 billion) and paves the way for the next installment of bailout loans–some 44 billion euros–to be delivered on Dec. 13. “In return, Greece has had to impose several rounds of austerity measures and submit its economy to scrutiny,” notes the BBC.

Portuguese Prison Hardships — Portugal’s budget cuts and economic difficulties have overburdened the country’s prisons, reports the New York Times, resulting in overcrowding, a shortage of necessities and abuse. The southern European country is in its fifth year of economic hardship and “money is tight for managing the prisons, let alone expanding capacity, as the government chops away at spending to meet targets set by its international creditors,” writes the Times. Many Portuguese can no longer afford to pay various fines and are consigned to 3-6 months in prison, which has led to overcrowding. Budget cuts have led to a shortage of basic items like shampoo and toilet paper in prisons and some guards now overcharge the inmates to pocket the difference.

China’s ‘Shadow Finance’ — The Wall Street Journal examines the risks of China’s growing ‘shadow finance,’ which refers to all types of credit outside formal bank lending. Shadow finance, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., totals about 20 trillion yuan ($32 billion), or about a third of the country’s total bank-lending market today. Experts said shadow banking could lead to massive loan defaults because the sector is not transparent and lightly regulated. In some cases, state banks could be held liable for defaults “if bank representatives didn’t adequately evaluate the products’ risks for their clients,” writes the Journal.

Sao Paulo Violence – According to Amnesty International, police involvement in revenge killings in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has not been investigated properly, writes the BBC. Ninety state police officers have already died this year while 571 civilians were killed in October. A public security spokesperson denies the claims, arguing that “Sao Paulo authorities rigorously enforced the law by arresting and expelling offenders in all sections of the police.” The spokesperson has called Amnesty’s statement “equivocal.” There has been growing conflict in Sao Paulo between the police and a criminal faction known as the PCC since May.

Arafat Exhumed – The remains of Yasir Arafat, former president of the Palestinian Authority, were exhumed from his tomb in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday morning, reports the New York Times. Russian, French and Swiss experts have taken samples from the grave as part of an investigation into whether the former Palestinian leader was poisoned. Arafat died from a reported stroke in a Paris hospital in 2004 at the age of 75. In July 2012 Arafat’s widow, Suha, called for an exhumation in an interview with Aljazeera following a report that her husband may have been poisoned with polonium. Mrs. Arafat has requested that the French authorities open up a murder inquiry.

Mexican Police Force – The Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, who will take office this Saturday, has demonstrated that one of his first actions in office will be to demote the country’s police force, reports the Los Angeles Times. His Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is already pushing through legislature that would eliminate the Public Security Ministry, home to the federal police. It plans to transfer control of the police over to the Interior Ministry. The federal police force has grown to 36,000 men and women during outgoing President Felipe Calderon’s six-year term, but remains plagued by corruption and poor policing skills.

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