Only in America
March 16, 2013

Two Howard University students are suing for admission to a sorority. Laurin Compton and Lauren Cofield say their "human rights" were violated by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which they charge did not admit them because they objected to a hazing ritual in which they were forbidden to wear the colors pink and green. Sorority members, they say, called them "weak bitches." The Week Staff

Art meets life
11:56 a.m. ET
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While it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase a piece of Leonardo da Vinci's artwork, his home can be bought for a fraction of the price. Da Vinci's Tuscan Villa and former residence is currently on the market for $14.6 million, CNBC reports. While that price sounds pretty steep, it's a relative bargain considering a piece of da Vinci artwork recently sold for $75 million — and that was after bargaining down from the original asking price of $200 million.

Da Vinci's Tuscan abode offers views of the Mediterranean Sea, and its garden walls were designed by the artist himself. Da Vinci lived in the five-bedroom house for only a short period of time in the early 1500s, but he wasn't the only famous owner of the home: Before serving as the artist's residence, the villa was a military fort owned Napoleon Bonaparte's sister, Princess Elisa Bonaparte, in the 19th century. Becca Stanek

shop til you drop
11:24 a.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images

Amazon just asked Black Friday to step aside and make room for the new biggest day of shopping: "Prime Day." On Friday, July 15, Amazon will celebrate its 20th birthday by offering gifts to everyone in the form of tons of new deals. The company announced the big day Monday, offering shoppers the promise that this Friday would be "filled with more deals than Black Friday." New deals will start appearing on the site at midnight and will be added as often as every 10 minutes.

But before shoppers get too excited about this upcoming online shopping extravaganza, take heed: These deals are only for Prime members. Alas, in the spirit of commerce, Amazon is using "Prime Day" as a chance to attract new Prime members through a 30-day free trial. Friday's shopping event will be open to Prime members in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria. Becca Stanek

gold star for texas
11:06 a.m. ET

All the demands to "remember the Alamo" have finally paid off. San Antonio's Missions have been picked by UNESCO as new World Heritage sites, and among them is the Alamo Mission — better known as the site of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo, a 13-day fight against the Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna that felled Davy Crockett.

The San Antonio Missions are the first Texan sites to be deemed by UNESCO as having "outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity," and join the Stonehenge, Taj Mahal, and Statue of Liberty as educational, cultural, and scientific landmarks. The nomination process for the San Antonio missions began in 2006, but amid the controversy of Southern heritage — and the ongoing Confederate flag debatesFusion notes that the Alamo's World Heritage designation arrives at a sensitive time for many Americans.

“Even though the Texans were fighting against a certain kind of tyranny, they were also fighting for an independent republic where slavery was legal,” North Carolina State University Historian James Crisp told Fusion.

Greece votes
10:58 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders thinks Greece made the right choice. In a statement of support on his website following the country's Sunday referendum, which concluded with the country rejecting austerity measures, Sanders applauded the Greek people "for saying 'no' to more austerity for the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly."

Sanders, often a contrarian himself in the Senate, added that he believes that the Greeks are absolutely right in their decision to reject a plan that "creates more unemployment and suffering," rather than "more jobs and income."

This is certainly not the first time Sanders has spoken out against austerity in Greece. Just on Wednesday, in an interview with The Huffington Post, Sanders criticized the International Monetary Fund and European policymakers for refusing to "work with the Greek government on a sensible plan to improve its economy and pay back its debt."

Now that Greece has rejected the eurozone bailout referendum, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to try to negotiate another deal with better terms for Greece. Becca Stanek

Attack of the economist
10:35 a.m. ET
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Thomas Piketty evidently never heard the classic Fawlty Towers line, "Don't mention the war."

After Greek voters overwhelmingly rejected a bailout deal in a referendum on Sunday, a testy June interview between economist Thomas Piketty and German newspaper Die Zeit began making the rounds. Famous for his inequality treatise Capital in the 21st Century — an unexpected bestseller in 2014 — the Frenchman pulled no punches with Germany and its hardline position towards Greece's debt. And yes, he wasn't afraid to mention "the war."

Here are his six most brutal takedowns:

1. "I am much more afraid that the conservatives, especially in Germany, are about to destroy Europe and the European idea, all because of their shocking ignorance of history."

2. "What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them."

3. "When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: What a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations."

4. "After the war ended in 1945, Germany’s debt amounted to over 200 percent of its GDP. Ten years later, little of that remained: public debt was less than 20 percent of GDP. Around the same time, France managed a similarly artful turnaround. We never would have managed this unbelievably fast reduction in debt through the fiscal discipline that we today recommend to Greece."

5. "If we had told you Germans in the 1950s that you have not properly recognized your failures, you would still be repaying your debts. Luckily, we were more intelligent than that."

6. "Those who want to chase Greece out of the eurozone today will end up on the trash heap of history."

You can read a full translation of Piketty's interview here. Nico Lauricella

Greek crisis
10:35 a.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

With Greek voters declaring "enough" to the harsh austerity measures that have kept their country in a deep recession for years, the possibility of Greece's exit from the eurozone is more likely than ever — an outcome that would shake the great European project of integration that has dominated the post-communist era. In a long article that is, all things considered, very sympathetic to the German position, Der Spiegel shows how Chancellor Angela Merkel, the most powerful official in Europe, allowed the crisis to metastasize into a debacle for the continent.

The main criticism is that Merkel allowed the situation to drift, failing to take a strong stance that would either allow Greece to leave the euro with minimal damage or soften the so-called troika's terms to keep Greece in the currency union:

Merkel saw what was happening, but she didn't have the courage to face the consequences. And there were alternatives. She could have offered Greece a safe and supported path out of the eurozone. That is the course of action that Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has supported internally for years. She could also have offered Greece a debt haircut. Had she done so at the right moment, she could at least have prevented the radicalization of Greek politics.

None of these options would have been free of risk. They would have required courage and money, and they would have opened up Merkel to attack. And that is something she didn't want.

So she hid behind the troika, behind the hated technocrats, thereby accelerating the rise of Syriza. Indeed, Tsipras is, to a certain extent, a product of Merkel's vacillating leadership style. In the Chancellery, people are expressing relief that Tsipras was unable to drive Europe apart and that nobody is blaming Germany for the current impasse. That may be true, but it is also a rather simplistic view. Success for Merkel is when nobody is pointing their finger at her. [Der Spiegel]

Read the whole article at Der Spiegel. Ryu Spaeth

10:24 a.m. ET

After Greece missed its deadline last week to make a $1.8 billion loan payment to the IMF, nearly 60 percent of Greeks voted "no" on a eurozone bailout referendum Sunday. The results of that vote could lead to the nation being forced out of the eurozone and into a future of prolonged economic uncertainty that could have global repercussions.

To put the prospect of a Grexit in perspective, here are four charts from Quartz that illustrate just how terrible, horrible, no good, and rotten the Greek economy really is. A helpful guide to reading the graphs: It's really, really not supposed to look like this.

Greek unemployment rates remains above 25 percent — far above the rest of the eurozone. Jeva Lange

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