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Greeks Brace For The Fallout As Deadline Looms

Jun 29, 2015

Giorgos Koronis is welcoming tourists from the U.S. and England at the old Olympic Stadium in Athens, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896.

Koronis, 50, has worked for the state for 25 years, mainly at ticket counters at various tourist sites around the Greek capital. But today he's struggling to smile.

He spent Monday morning at the ATM in line with a few retirees from his neighborhood, including his mother.

At Pride events in New York City this weekend, the emotional excitement about marriage equality was evident. But many people also were thrilled about the practical considerations.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency made a mistake when it told electric power plants to reduce mercury emissions. The high court says the EPA should first have considered how much it would cost power plants to do that.

The decision comes too late for most power companies, but it could affect future EPA regulations.

Mercury in the air is a health risk. When you burn coal or oil, you create airborne mercury that can end up in fish we eat and cause serious health problems.

"It was Greek to me."

Shakespeare used that phrase in one of his tragedies to suggest that a complicated matter was beyond understanding.

Many Americans may be muttering those words again as this week's Greek tragedy plays out.

The situation in Athens really is complicated, but it's also important. So let's walk through the basics together, and then consider what it might mean to Americans.

Here's what has happened so far:

-- The Greek government has way too much debt and can't pay its creditors.

It's T minus four days until exam day, and Travis Driscoll is practically living at his desk.

"Each day, I'm easily here for five hours," he says. "I haven't done much of anything else but studying for the last two months."

Driscoll is one of 13,000 medical school applicants across the U.S. taking the new Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT. He's got stacks of science books on his desk to help him prepare and a rainbow of biochemistry charts pasted to the walls: glycolysis, citric acid cycle, electron transport chain, mitosis, meiosis and DNA replication.

The Supreme Court has placed a stay on a lower court's ruling that upheld new abortion standards in Texas, to give opponents of a controversial 2013 law time to take their case to the nation's highest court.

The stay is temporary: If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, the stay will be lifted and the law will take effect. If the justices agree to hear the case, the stay would remain in effect until a ruling is issued.

The next time you dab wasabi on your sushi or spread mustard on your hot dog, take a moment to thank a caterpillar. It may sound unlikely, but the critters play a critical role in creating the sharp, pungent flavors that give those condiments a savory kick.

The Supreme Court ruled last week that states cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions. The historic decision was welcomed by many, but there was much criticism, too, especially in some conservative states.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Donald Trump following comments Trump made about Mexican immigrants. Trump's controversial remarks came as he was announcing his bid for the Republican Party's presidential nomination.

NBC said in a statement that:

The world needs to count its girls!

That's the message that President Obama sent earlier this month when he signed the Girls Count Act into law. Congress had previously approved the act by unanimous vote.

There are 220 million children around the world who are uncounted. They were not registered at birth, and they don't have birth certificates.

In the longest leg of its planned around-the-world flight, the Solar Impulse took off from Nagoya, Japan, and is now headed to Hawaii. The plane is powered solely by the sun's energy that's stored in batteries; the current trip is expected to last 120 hours — five days and five nights.

Ah, the bread basket. You sit down for a nice meal out, and there it appears: piping hot, giving off a waft of yeasty divinity.

Who can resist?

There's a reason this age-old tradition prevails. Even in the era of paleo and gluten-free, there are still hordes of us who will gladly nosh on crusty, chewy, soul-warming bread.

But the downside may be more than just some extra calories. Turns out, eating all those carbs before a meal can amp up our appetites and spike our blood sugar.

Sri Lanka, a palm-fringed island in the Indian Ocean, is in the sixth year of peace. But as the country prepares for elections in August, the legacy of its long civil war still casts a shadow.

The intervening years have been especially painful for the families of the thousands who disappeared in three decades of conflict and remain unaccounted for.

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

The Supreme court has ruled against an Obama administration effort to limit toxic mercury emissions from power plants, saying the costs of compliance should be taken into account at the very earliest stages of the regulatory process.

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The right to marry in any state won't be the only gain for gay couples from last week's Supreme Court ruling. The decision will likely boost health insurance among gay couples as same-sex spouses get access to employer plans.

The logic is simple. Fewer than half of employers that offer health benefits make the insurance available to same-sex partners who aren't married. Virtually all of them offer coverage to spouses.

U.S. states' efforts to counter extreme gerrymandering won a victory Monday, as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a bipartisan Arizona panel that draws the state's districts. The court's vote was 5-4; Chief Justice John Roberts dissented, as did Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the majority, in which her citations included James Madison writing in The Federalist Papers.

Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, says the sedative used in Oklahoma's lethal injection cocktail does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Here's the background to the case, in the words of SCOTUSblog:

A 20-year-old woman who suffered burns to 90 percent of her body in Saturday's explosion at a music event in Taiwan has died, the first fatality in the disaster at the water park that burned 498 people. Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the colored powder sprayed from the stage during a rap performance to catch fire.

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David Sweat, one of two convicted murderers whose escape June 6 from a New York prison sparked a statewide manhunt, is in critical condition after being shot Sunday by a state police sergeant.

Sgt. Jay Cook spotted Sweat walking down a rural road near the town of Constable, N.Y., near the border with Canada, and ordered him to stop. When Sweat tried to flee, Cook shot him twice, authorities said.

"The nightmare is finally over," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a Sunday news conference.

Updated at 11:42 a.m. ET

European leaders are warning Greeks who vote "no" in Sunday's referendum will be choosing to leave the eurozone, the bloc of countries that uses the common currency.

"It is democracy, it is the right of the Greek people to decide what they want for their future," French President Francois Hollande said in Paris. "What is at stake is whether or not Greeks want to stay in the eurozone (or) take the risk of leaving."

The comment was echoed by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who said on Twitter:

This month we reported the findings from our nationwide investigation into the forces driving the nation's rising high school graduation rate. We found some solid educational approaches — and some questionable quick fixes.

Tunisia was in shock after at least 38 foreign tourists were killed Friday at a beachside hotel, apparently by one man: Saifeddine Rezgui, who was in turn killed by police.

Amid the horror, there was defiance in the air in the seaside town of Sousse. Hundreds of foreign tourists decided to stay, and were out on the beaches. And local residents held a patriotic demonstration, waving the red national flag and chanting about unity in a palm-fringed square.

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Updated at 7:45 p.m. ET

Investigators continue their examination of a fire at the Glover Grove Baptist Church of Warrenville, S.C.

Fires damaged Glover Grove and some other black churches in the days following nine shooting deaths at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, raising concerns that the incidents were hate-inspired arsons.

Now, in the case of Glover Grove, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has released the following statement, saying it still doesn't know how the blaze started.

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And in other news, an unmanned supply rocket blasted off yesterday in Florida headed to the International Space Station.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROCKET LAUNCH)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Three, two, one. Mission sequence start and lift off.

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