Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The International Monetary Fund released 1.72 billion euros ($2.29 billion) in aid for Greece on Monday after completing a review of the country’s performance under the international rescue program.

The latest disbursement means that Greece has received a total of roughly 8.24 billion euros ($10.94 billion) from the IMF under the bailout coordinated with the European Union and the European Central Bank in March 2012.

On Friday, the 18-nation eurozone gave the green light for the release of 4.0 billion euros in bailout funds for Greece after it had met program conditions.

Twice bailed-out Greece still faces a funding shortfall of some 3.8 billion euros late next year but its troika of international creditors are not overly concerned, a senior EU official said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“There is a program financing gap of about 3.8 billion to the end of 2014,” the European Union source said, adding that in the eyes of the experts involved, this figure was “not enormous.”

The Greek bailouts agreed by the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are financed through mid-2014, the official said.

Greece was first bailed out for 110 billion euros in 2010 but when that failed, got a second rescue worth 130 billion euros plus a private sector debt write-off totaling more than 100 billion euros.

In exchange, Athens has had to implement draconian austerity measures, including drastic cuts to pensions and civil service payrolls while the economy has remained stuck in recession for some six years.

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)