Spotlight: this week
Country Update: Italy
LGBT Catholic group gets special seating during Pope’s weekly address
Way to go Pope!
Three pilgrimages have been made to the Vatican under three different popes, but only one managed to treat the LGBT catholic group New Ways Ministry as VIPs.
Every Wednesday in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis, if in Rome, addresses his audience and greets them in their language before continuing with a prayer.
The VIP seat tickets came as a surprise as the Maryland-based New Ways Ministry group expected the same ordinary seats as they have been given before.
“People from our group were in tears,” said DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry. Although, Pope Francis didn’t voice any recognition towards the group during his speech, they were still very touched.
Pope Francis has been known for trying to soften the church’s stance on LGBT rights with his now-iconic question “Who am I to judge?” He has left a mark in many countries, with many more to go.
“Pope Francis is leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics all over the world. There are three times as many Catholics in the world than there are citizens in the United States. Like it or not, what he says makes a difference.” The Advocate Magazine
In other exciting LGBT news, .lgbt is now available as a domain for websites. The pioneer website created under the domain, http://www.outnow.lgbt, is a LGBT marketing service. This is a wonderful step for the LGBT community.
We are also hosting a LGBTQ survey and it would mean a great deal if you could take 2 minutes out of your time to fill our questionnaire.
Country update: Greece
Greece and Europe agree to a compromise
Greece’s economic crisis has been in the spotlight since joining the euro in 1999. Matters were only made worse when the country became the host for 2004 Olympics, which is estimated to have cost around €4.5 billion.
Under the new reform, Greece has now agreed to a compromise – an extension of the bailout deadline and has therefore escaped a major crisis – for now. This, however, is no long-term relief and Greece’s financial future remains bleak. To reach its primary surplus, Greece must curtail government spending, but in order to receive the €270 billion to save the economy through June, they had to present a cost cutting plan.
One of the solutions would be for Greece to exit the Eurozone, but what impact would that have for the expats?
- Living standards could fall by 80%
- Greece would simply run out of euros.
- Freeze on withdrawals and people taking money out of the country.
Greek economy in numbers:
- Unemployment is at 25%, with youth unemployment almost 50% (corresponding eurozone averages: 11.4% and 23%)
- Economy has shrunk by 25% since the start of the eurozone crisis
- Country’s debt is 175% of GDP
- Borrowed €240bn (£188bn) from the EU, the ECB and the IMF
Country update: USA
USA citizens have more trouble paying off student debt loans than their houses
America has been known for their high tuition fees – current student loan debt has skyrocketed to nearly $1.2 trillion. According to the Fed researchers, the number of borrowers rose 92% in the past 10 years, with more people borrowing larger amounts of money.
Some scary statistics:
- 39% owe less than $10,000.
- Median balance: $14,000
- 4% (1.8 million people): more than $100,000
This puts graduates in a rather grim position – student loan refinancing is possible, however, only available to those with a steady income and high credit scores. This loan rule is the same for expats as well as US citizens and there doesn’t seem to be any easy way out.
In 2014, The Washington Post released a guide to paying off your student loans, highlighting two main points: do your research and know your finances.