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June 4, 2012

Keep Your Mind Sharp: TCC Current Events Update

This post originally appeared on http://thecamspuscompanion.com and was written by a staff writer.

We are college students, and therefore, we are really smart and know more than everyone else…ish. However, one thing college students tend to struggle with is awareness of current events. So, those of you interested in perpetuating your claim to omniscience might benefit from reading the following brief summaries of a few big news topics. While you might not want to immediately strike up a debate with your local politician using only the information from this article, you might be able, at the very least, to impress your boss or your parents’ friends.

To reiterate, the following are brief and condensed versions of news stories to give you a general idea of what is happening outside of Facebook and your respective campus. For more detailed information, some links are also provided below. Also, look out for weekly installments of current events on TCC for the rest of the summer!

Greece and the Eurozone

 Europe is supposed to be that place that always has its shit together and thinks its better than everyone else, right? Well, that doesn’t look like the case right about now, mainly due to Greece. Greece is part of the European Union, but it’s going through a bit of a political crisis and is in the midst of significant alterations to its government, which is also causing a lot of financial issues (major debt, high unemployment, etc). The talk now is that Greece is going to leave the European Union, not necessarily because it wants to, but because it cannot afford to stay. This would mean that it would start using its own currency again, and would withdraw from the support of stronger European banks. Removing itself from the EU could potentially result in the eruption of political and social chaos and things could get ugly. But since they are no longer part of the EU, that would be Greece’s problem.

While it seems that the European Union is pretty sick of pulling Greece’s weight (in terms of loans), Greece pulling out might not be in the best interest of the rest of European Union. While no one has ever up and left the EU before, there is speculation that countries with better economies, like Germany, face the risk of not getting any returns on the massive loans they have given out to save other Eurozone countries. But worse than this, Greece’s new currency, the Drachma would have a very low value, making it even harder for Greece to repay the billions of euros that it already cannot afford to return.

Failure to repay these loans will mess up the security and reliability of the entire European banking system, potentially resulting in another big credit crunch. And it gets worse. There is also now worry that other EU countries with bad financial situations, like Italy and Spain, will also struggle to repay their debts, and will start to amass more, requiring even further loans from EU banks—banks that are pretty unwilling to lend anymore money because of how much Greece has caused them to lose. On top of all this, unemployment rates are starting to climb to record numbers as a result of this debt crisis and businesses being forced to cut workers due to debts to the government. Not looking so good now, are you Europe?

Read more: BBC – Eurozone Crisis Explained

Gas prices

 If you are like me, every time you fill up your gas tank, a small piece of your soul withers and dies. But I have good news—gas prices are expected to get even higher as the summer progresses! Who can we blame for this? Well, if we want to point fingers, I guess we can blame the EU (and why not kick them while they are down), with aid from the U.S, because they set an embargo, effective in July, on Iran’s oil exports. And since 80% of Iran’s export revenue comes from oil, this really messes with their economy, so they have to significantly jack up the price of oil.

But the EU isn’t arbitrarily setting this embargo just to watch us suffer. This all ties into – wait for it – the production of nuclear warheads. In fact, the projected oil price hike isn’t guaranteed because negotiations are still ongoing between the EU (and other Western powers) and Iran in regards to uranium concentration. The Western powers want Iran to be more transparent about its nuclear energy use. Iran claims that they wish to reach maximum uranium enrichment so that they can better harness nuclear power for energy purposes.

The U.S and EU aren’t buying it, and they are enforcing this embargo so that they can try to more closely analyze Iran’s nuclear activity. If Iran lessens the amount of uranium enrichment it is currently seeking to attain, the EU may cancel the embargo. If not, the embargo will go into effect in July, and oil prices will increase dramatically (although EU states will certainly have it worse than we will in the US). Considering how important oil is to the Iranian economy, it might just give in and prices won’t change. But if not, you might want to reconsider your mid-July road trip.

Read more here: MSNBC – Iran, big powers agree to hold more nuclear talks in June

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