Posts tagged ‘Greece’

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

 

 

5.9 Earthquake shakes Cephalonia

 

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A 5.9 earthquake shook Cephalonia at 16.30 today, January 26 2014.

There are no reports of injuries but the earthquake was felt as far as Athens.

Cephalonia, in thesouth Ionian Sea lies in an earthquake prone area. It suffered great damages during the 1953 earthquakes that shook the island and its neighbor Zakynthos.

To pay or not to pay – Greeks paraphrase Hamlet

There are many Greeks from abroad as well as foreigners who criticize the attitude of Greek society to refuse to pay taxes. It may seem incomprehensible to citizens of other countries who see their taxes produce schools, hospitals, health care, old age care, infrastructure and all these amenities that reward a good citizen,  that we refuse to pay taxes or excel at tax evasion. Coming from a different country I was also surprised at first. But, when one starts listening to the simple people’s suffering due to the inefficiency of the state administration, when one sees the misery state indifference causes it becomes very hard not to commiserate.

Why pay taxes when the only hospital in Ikaria, a north Aegean island,  (built with money sent by the Ikariotes abroad and not by any government) is closing down?

Why pay taxes when the port in Othonoi, a small island near Corfu, is not usable and the fishermen lose their boats every now and then when the sea recedes.

Why pay taxes when, in today’s situation, scandals break out, with bankers lending money to their friends who in turn never return them and disappear.

Why pay taxes when one of the main road arteries, linking Corinth to Patras, is proclaimed death row and the tolls are exorbitant.

Why pay taxes when buses in Athens have no regular timetable and sometimes take as long as forty minutes to appear..

For those of you who can understand Greek I suggest you watch Mr. Manessis programe “60 minutes of Greece” on Alfa tv

http://www.alphatv.gr/shows/informative/60-ellada/webtv/shows

to learn how Greece survives outside Athens.

I do not claim that Greek society is innocent of all blame. We are guilty of having allowed politicians of the parties that have ruled the country to govern us without interference and without control. We are guilty of being naïve, gullible and easily led.

The main deficit in Greece is good governance. Till then I cannot, in good conscience, blame anyone for not paying taxes….

Tsipras probe into submarines deal “shakes” the unity of the two–party Greek government

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Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA President, announced his intention to ask for a probe into a submarine deal signed in 2010 and which he claims has “an aroma of scandal”. Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, present Chairman of PASOK and vice-chairman of the present Greek government was the minister of defence when the disputed deal was signed.

The bad feeling between Venizelos and Minister of Defence Avramopoulos resulted from the latter’s reply to Tsipras that this government has nothing to fear and that whatever “underhanded business” is of an earlier date.

Venizelos took this as a personal affront from Avramopoulos and replied, during the Parliament discussion that ensued, that it is not  a Minister’s job  to” describe situations. Neither are they there to play the good guy to the opposition but to bear responsibility and bring results”.

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The Prime Minister’s office took no sides and in spite of Avramopoulos’ clarification that he was referring to the Tsohatzopoulos’case,  Venizelos continues to feed the feud. The PASOK press office released to day a letter sent to Avramopoulos the day before the Parliamentary discussion giving him “directions” on how to deal with Tsipras accusations.

Earthquake shakes western Crete

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake took place at 16.00 today in the sea region of western Crete. It was so strong that it was felt in Athens as well. It actually felt like two earthquakes because it lasted quite long, or at least it seemed too long. Apparently it took place in 35 kilometres depth. There are no reports of damages so far but it is too early.

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After shakes are expected so I’ll keep you posted.

 

A mixed bag of news, thoughts and arguments

Today is the first really cloudy, autumn like day in Athens. News is rampant from all sides and citizens go about their business with their heads lowered and lost in their thoughts.

The prevalent mood is despair and insecurity. While the government announces that we are on the “road to development” the Troika talks about new taxes and austerity measures.

The neo –nazi formation of Golden Dawn is officially accused of being a criminal organization and its leader is in prison. According to news reports the Greek Parliament will tonight discuss and vote on removing the immunity of three Golden Dawn MPs so that they can be prosecuted. At the same time the Metsovion Polytechnic School staff is staging a concert in memory of the 32 year old anti-fascist rapper murdered by Golden Dawn thugs.

The news broadcasts are dominated by long and detailed reports on Golden Dawn acts: attacks against immigrants, actors, and speeches during which leading members of the fascist organization openly threatened democracy!! To the viewers the reporters’ “surprise” at the Golden Dawn doings is to say the least insulting since it is obvious that they knew the activities and just chose to keep silent.

Three out of eight Greek universities have submitted the names of their administrative staff that can be laid off. The European Commission has given the green light to the takeover of Olympic air (the private company that “bought” the state run Olympic airways) by Aegean air. In this way a state monopoly is replaced by a private monopoly system. In a press statement SYRIZA, major opposition party, underlines the fact that this constitutes a threat to the country’s cohesion.

On the other hand, .there are still people struggling to keep their spirits up and safeguard their livelihoods against all attacks. In Chalkidiki, in Macedonia, in Aghios Panteleimonas in Athens and so on. It is an unfair battle but let us hope that justice and right will prevail over greed and might.

 

Massive rally in progress in Athens center

A general strike of the private and public sectors is taking place today. A demonstration has also been called and is in progress as I write. 

The murder of the young antifascist activist, Pavlos Fyssas, has caused an additional rally for this evening together with a music concert outside the Polytechnic School on Patission street.