It has been a long while since my last post. I have no excuse. The situation in Greece, social, economic, political has been such that a general feeling of insecurity and uncertainty is prevalent.

I chose to tell you  two stories that have slightly changed my mood today:

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  One of Shedia’s vendors

A. The Greek street magazine Schedia (the raft) is now on its 6th year of publication and continues to come up with new events and activities to render our homeless compatriots visible again. The magazine is its first care and main source of revenue. In addition to the Homeless Soccer team they organize literary evenings, a cafe -network all over the country where homeless people can find a coffee waiting for them paid by other customers, thematic city tours and exchange visits with homeless fromuother countries who publish their own magazines.  They have a site but there is not much in English. For those of you who can read  Greek  http://www.shedia.gr/

B. Idomeni – the make-shift camp refugees have set up on their own near the Greece-FYROM frontier,  saw a gleam of light and joy today. Two young Syrian refugees decided to get married inspite of the difficulties and hardship they are facing. Friends and volunteers chipped in for the preparations and the women managed to form a heart of red rose petals on the newly weds bed in the tent they will share from now on. Does love conquer all? I don’t know but it sure made our hearts a little lighter today

 

 

All the President’s women – part two

TsarouhaThe Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace of previous governments has become part of the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform, a “demotion” according to right wing politicians, has been given to Ms. Maria Kolia – Tsarouha. Ms. Tsarouha was first elected in her home town, Serres, in 2000, with New Democracy. In 2012, after refusing to sign the second mnemonium, she was ousted from New Democracy and joined the Independent Greeks Party. It is considered common knowledge that Ms Kollia-Tsarouha belongs to the close circle of ex-Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, former President of New Democracy.

KountouraMs Eleni Kountoura is Deputy Minister for tourism. She has followed more or less the same route as Ms Kollia: from New Democracy to the Independent Greeks and now to the ministry. She is a graduate of the Gymnastics Academy of Athens and a champion athlete. True to their reputation Greek mass media concentrate on her international career as a top model….We are looking forward to her efforts to boost Greek tourism.

Rania Antonopoulou, deputy Minister for the reduction of unemployment comes from the academic sector. She gave up her teaching post in Bard College to offer her services to the most difficult task of this government: unemployment. Due to her long stay abroad she is not very well known in Greece.

antonopoulou

The percentage of women in the present Parliament is 23,5%, higher than in previous Parliaments but still not as high as the goal of 33% set by the Greek women’s movement.

All the President’s women…

(An old post that was never ….posted. Personal issues kept me away but today, seeing the attack on two of the President’s women I have decided to post it without corrections but with some additions. Hope you all had a good Easter holiday )

First of February: Athens is covered in an off white sandy veil. The miniature sand storm comes from Africa and it visits Greece regularly three or four times a year.

It is customary to wish each other “Kalo mina” – Happy new month – at the beginning of every month. This month the wish has a special meaning.

The new Greek government is a fact. Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) has won the elections and managed to form a government allying itself with right wing Independent Greeks party.

The composition of the government has been analysed according to the media’s assessment of each Minister’s news worthiness. Mr. Yannis Varoufakis, for example, has appeared on the BBC, Alexis Tsipras on every other tv station and/or newspaper. I want to speak about the members of the new government who have not reached tv star status.

zoi-konstantopoulouFirst of all in a 41 person government I counted 6 women plus the new Parliament Chairwoman, Ms. Zoe Konstantopoulou. Ms. Kostantopoulou is the daughter of a very prominent attorney (he was one of the judges in the Greek junta trial) and popular political figure, Nicos Konstantopoulos who headed Synaspismos, the major component of SYRIZA, from 1993 to 2004. Ms Zoe Konstantopoulou a well known lawyer in her own right has become famous for her spirited spats with opposition MPs during her first four years in Parliament. Everyone looks forward to her handling of her new post.

valavaniMs. Nantia Valavani, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Finances, is a graduate of the Economics University of Athens and holds a doctorate from the Communication and Mass Media dpt of the same University. Ms.Valavani combines the abilities of a competent economist with the sensitivity of a literary critic: she is one of the most prominent Bertolt Brecht scholars. Born in 1954 she took part in the anti-dictatorship resistance originally in her native Crete and later, as a student in Athens where she was arrested and imprisoned for months.

Tasia Christodoulopoulou, Deputy Minister for immigration, is a prominent lawyer and human rights activist.xristodoulopoulou

Mass disinformation media

 

With less than fifteen days to crucial national elections it is educative to watch the actions of the Greek mass media. Most of the nation-wide private channels operate with temporary licenses, with all the consequences this can have….. When SYRIZA asked in Parliament whether radio and television stations pay the required fees for the air frequencies used the government answer was cryptic…..  The abrupt shutting down of the public television signalled the most massive reaction to the government’s policies from citizens of all parties.

The picture today is disappointing  in the majority of nation wide private tv stations.  News reports are biased, foreign press reports are misrepresented, journalists coordinating panels are practically absent, allowing the loudest to rule the discussion and driving the public away… At a recent poll about what Greek people do most on their pcs the answer was “watch the news”. In a country where information technology is not an everyday word more and more people turn to internet sources to be properly informed about what happens in the world but in their own country too.

I found the best example in “Efimerida ton Syntakton” (it means the “Editors Newspaper”(http://www.efsyn.gr/arthro/mega-polemaei-den-metafrazei). They have a picture from MEGA channel’s news where the name of the rising, Spanish left wing movement “Podemos” is translated as “polemos” which in Greek means war!!! This “lapse” appeared to link SYRIZA with war!!

 

Lost in  the translation

Lost in the translation

According to SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras the connection between the present government, private banks and private radio and television organisations is cloudy to say the least. When healthy businesses are unable to find loans television channels, already debt-ridden, are given loans without any guarantees…

 

Greek style Menu 2015

Greek coffee shop menu

Greek coffee shop menu

 

A Greek coffee costs an egg, instant coffee (Nescafe) costs 2 eggs, iced Nescafe costs 2 eggs and a bag of ice, a plain tsipouro (ouzo type drink..) costs a bag of mountain grass – “horta” for those of you who understand Greek –but if you want your tsipouro to be accompanied by “meze”, which means fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese or salami it costs a bale of hay. Any other plain drink costs a chicken but a special drink goes up to a kilo of minced meat. The menu continues in the same vein but the best part is in the asterisk:” the above mentioned prices are valid for those who voted for PASOK. Nea Dimokratia voters pay double and all the others pay nothing!!”

The above menu is the biggest hit on Greek Facebook today. The coffee shop with the creative prices is in Ptolemaida, in Western Macedonia. It is indicative of the mood of the 25th January election. A sense of humor detoxifies all situations. Let’s keep it this way…

 

Five causes for resistance and solidarity in Greece today

We need to resist the totalitarian attitude of the Greek government who, in the name of an elusive “development” has started a war against anyone who disagrees with its measures. We need to express our solidarity and support to the many people suffering by this attitude.

  1. A modern Bethlehem has been set up in Syntagma Square: Syrian refugees, among them children and one pregnant woman, have started a hunger strike to be given traveling documents to reach other parts of Europe. A SYRIZA MP has expressed his decision to join them.
Syrian refugees on hunger strike

Syrian refugees on hunger strike

 

  1. Nicos Romanos, a 20+ armed robbery convict, has passed his University Entrance Exams while in prison but is being refused permission to attend classes. He is on hunger strike for over two weeks now and his health is in danger. Romanos first came to the limelight because he was with Alexis Grigoropoulos the night he was shot and killed by a riot policeman. In spite of the police efforts there is no proof that the young man was ever involved in terrorist activities.
Nikos Romanos at the time of his arrest

Nikos Romanos at the time of his arrest

  1. In Northern Greece the attacks on environment and on the populace trying to protect it continue. Largely ignored by the mainstream media the resistance of the people of Chalkidiki goes on.
Skouries demonstration

Skouries demonstration

  1. Police brutality is on the increase. After the uncalled attacks on the Disabled people’s demonstration last week there was further proof of it last night.

young girl attacked

  1. A trainer in the police Academy has come forward andstated that while teaching one of the cadets stated “I am a fascist and proud of it”. The most disturbing feature of the incident is that it was applauded by the rest of the class.

The bet for Greek society is how to resist efficiently, how to stand next to the suffering citizens without taking away their dignity.

One example by the newly elected regional government: Ms. Rena Dourou suggested to the Minister for Interior Affairs Mr.Dinopoulos to use 2.5 billion marked for festive activities to re-electrify poor households in their area. The proposal had been put forth by the audience in a popular tv show and became a reality. We could do more

Greek opinion polls show SYRIZA win: yet people prefer Samaras as Prime Minister!

 

Opinion polls in Greece depict, most accurately, the citizens ‘confusion and despair much more than anything else!

Let me share with you the latest one I found on TVXS (a site run by journalist Stelios Kouloglou, who was one of SYRIZA’s candidates for the European Parliament elections). It was conducted nationwide  by RASS from 29 to 31 October on behalf of iefimerida.gr.

opinionpollsnov2014

As you can see at the graph above, 26.4% of the electorate have chosen SYRIZA, New Democracy has scored 21.1% while the River, the newest addition to the Greek political scene led by Stavros Theodorakis, another journalist, comes third with 5.8%. The Communist Party of Greece reaches 5. 4% ,just 0.3% more than the extreme right wing Golden Dawn. The social democratic PASOK and the right wing Independent Greeks barely make it into Parliament while Democratic Left of Mr. Fotis Kouvelis stays out with 1%!.

On the other hand, the electorate appears divided on the question of early elections. 47.3 consider early elections a catastrophe for the economy while 46.1% hold the opposite view. Mr. Samaras is considered a better bet for Prime Minister by 35.2% while Alexis Tsipras follows with 27.9% thus choosing the leader of New Democracy ahead of the leader of SYRIZA, the party they are going to vote for!

One explanation for this division of public opinion is the role played by the mainstream mass media. According to most of them Greek economy is recovering and a change of government would destroy any chance of ending austerity! The result of this one-sided information has led to mistrust of the media and an increase of internet news sites which people seem to trust more.

The Greek people keep hearing that the Greek economy is recovering but fail to see this recovery mirrored in their living standards. Over taxation, repeated mistakes in its calculation coupled with increasing inefficiency of infrastructure in health care, transportation and education turn citizens into cynical, mistrusting people.