Nov 24, 2012

Lessons from the Greek Crisis 4: Because there are people who are hungry

"We must both have been hungry because we constantly led the conversation round to food. "What is your favorite dish, grandad?" "All of them, my son. It's a great sin to say this is good and that is bad." "Why? Can't we make a choice?" "No, of course we can't." "Why not?" "Because there are people who are hungry." I was silent, ashamed. My heart had never been able to reach that height of nobility and compassion. "

 ~Nikos Kazantzakis, Life and Adventures of Alexis Zorbas

film still from Zorba, the Greek

Nov 22, 2012

Greece is Not a Dog: the Arrogance of the Austerians

"One of the most extreme pronunciations came from Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a recent pre-election debate with Labour leader Diederik Samsom. Samsom openly asked Rutte whether, in order to save Greece and the euro, he would be willing to cough up the money for another bailout. (Obviously, it’s not about “giving” this money, it’s about expensive loans. But let’s leave that aside). No, Rutte yelled. Why not? Because it would be extremely unwise to say that now, for the Greeks would immediately slow down, sit back and stop privatizing and reforming. After all, they would count their blessings in advance, knowing full well that “someone would pay for them” again and therefore refuse to do anything whatsoever. And so Samsom had to be careful with his words, because the Greeks were listening along — and they would “now receive a completely perverse incentive” from the Labour leader.
 Rutte: “we have to keep them on a tight leash.”

Excuse me?
As if Greece were a dog. As if the Greeks were shitty little kids grabbing every opportunity to skirt their responsibilities. What an idiotic way of doing international politics. What an arrogant attitude toward people who are bending over backwards to stay inside of “Europe”. Rutte apparently has such a deep distrust and such a profound contempt for our fellow EU member state that we — from the point of view of Ruttian pedagogy — have to actively deceive them and, above all, should not let them know that they can count on any further bailouts if needed. As Prime Minister, Rutte has already made it known that he has “nothing to do with the Greeks”.

From a staggeringly to the point article (and insightful comments from readers) by Dutch journalist Ingeborg Beugel on September 11, 2012 at the Roar magazine

Oct 13, 2012

Opposition to George A.Papandreou Teaching Seminars at Harvard: The Ire of Hypocrisy

A Greco-American professor opposes the invitation by Harvard to George A.Papandreou, former prime minister of Greece during the height of the crisis, to teach seminars to its students on "ways to get out of a crisis" etc.

Worth reading:

Dear Mr. Trey Grayson, Director of Harvard School Institute of Politics,

 From the Website of the Institute, I was informed that the Fellows and Study group Program has organized a series of seminars /discussions, titled "Redesigning Europe", to be presented and led by George Papandreou ( ).

 Please understand that for the majority of Greeks who live in Greece and experience the hardships, as well as for Greek Americans who, in desperation and indignation are watching Greece drowning and do not know how to help, GEORGE PAPANDREOU IS A WANTED MAN. A man who should be investigated for treason, a man who, intentionally or unintentionally (unfortunately there is a lot of evidence for the former) bears the greatest responsibility for Greece's downfall and for the consequences on the Greek people, which range from closing their businesses and losing their jobs to ending up homeless or committing suicide. It is inappropriate for your prestigious institute, at these crucial times, to invite George Papandreou to offer his insights regarding "sovereign debt crisis", "solutions to global problems", "Will austerity make our economies competitive?" etc. Is he, seriously, the authority to talk about austerity and the impact on a country's competitiveness? Presenting himself as a "socialist", I doubt that he will advocate austerity measures as a means to increase a country's competitiveness. Yet, this is exactly what he dragged Greece into. Do you see the hypocrisy here?

Considering his recent "achievements", is George Papandreou a suitable person "to inspire students to consider careers in politics and public service", which is the mission of your Institute? Do you understand that inviting this individual to lead a study group in your institution (an invitation that honors G. Papandreou and indicates that you hold high respect for him and his views) is a slap in the face for the Greek people? Please do not allow these seminars to continue. Cancel these seminars on the basis that you received many complaints from Greeks, and your prestigious Institute cannot afford to organize and sponsor questionable programs.

 Thank you,
Vassiliki Aroniadou-Anderjaska,
Ph.D. Research Associate Professor
Dept. of Anatomy, Physiology, and Genetics and Dept. of Psychiatry,

F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine USUHS / HJF 4301
Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814

Jul 23, 2012

Hermes: The Summer Campaign is Shot on Aegina Island, Greece

The beauty of the pictures speaks for itself. The purity of line, the wisdom of time, the sparsity of luxury. All these are represented perfectly by the French sellier -which became the fashion and leathergoods luxe house- and the eternal Greek ideal. The mighty, sturdy olive, gigantic through the passage of the centuries, the clear skies, the flowing fabrics, the architectural lines, the "nothing in excess" spirit.

The campaign's motto? "Le Temps Devant Soi"...time before you.


The Three Major European Mistakes Towards the Greek Crisis

In a detailed article signed "Diogenes" by a group of professors of economics, bankers and specialists in the French economic paper Les Echos the three major mistakes perpetrated by the Europeans towards Greece are delineated. It is again made clear, as we have referenced in these pages before, that the euro crisis and the austerity put on Greece as a means to devalue the euro only benefits one party: the dollar (as attested by numbers). And furthermore, those who doth protest too much (i.e. the AngloSaxon press) are exactly the ones whose countries and institutions stand to gain the most.

Here is the English translation of the Les Echos article. Very worth a read:

"The European leaders who have accepted 21 July 2011 not to support Greece in exchange for a downgrading of its debt led us into an unknown world, and especially uncontrollable. Those referring to the Argentine crisis a decade ago forget one thing: the Argentine banking system was closed, like any national currency system. Foreign exchange position passed by the balance sheets of the central bank. The latter could unilaterally block the exchange to avoid capital flight. That's what she did. And without telling anyone: in these conditions the effect of surprise is essential. Those who lived through the devaluations of the franc remember: until the last moment the Minister of Finance denied any problem taking speculators by surprise.

By introducing the Euro, European countries have created an open system where money flows freely. Greek banks can safely transfer the assets of their clients in France, a bank in Anglo-Saxon, for example, that he not be allowed to change of the euro against the dollar or sterling. Using one of the benefits of the euro which allows citizens to use the same currency in all countries of the euro area, the Greeks could "nationalize" their savings in dollars and convert easily. It is therefore not possible to set up a special exchange control for the Greeks.

If we continue the argument, before anybody could do anything whatsoever, and this is almost a year while it lasts,in Europe there will remain but the debts of Greece and Spain. The assets will be elsewhere. It is these assets that are vital to restart their economies. European leaders were wrong - at least-three times.

By breaking the pact of solidarity of the single currency, with of course the excellent reason that the Greeks have lied. By taking action whenever insufficient but more expensive, they went back to the public in those countries without a solution. Letting time pass, they allowed the Greeks and Spaniards who were rich enough to take the necessary steps to get their assets out of their country.
To continue in the same way, all they need to choose between two options: do nothing or decide that Greece should leave the euro.

The big winners are therefore the dollar, the U.S. economy, which desperately needs cash to finance its deficits, and the Anglo-Saxon banks who take their commissions in the process. In a world where competition is fierce, victory belongs to those who demonstrate the ability to move, to decide to act against a Europe mired in its selfishness and its divisions."

Jun 19, 2012

"_________ is not Greece": Geez Louise, Spanking New Thought, huh!

In a lengthy catalogue, Business Insider quotes the times Greece has been used as the "black sheep" compared to which other countries seem much more...I don't know, tamer? more obedient? more organized? more secure financially? You take your pick.

The truth is this makes one fact and one fact alone crystal clear, if anyone had any doubts: Greece is unique. There's just no other place like it on god's green earth! When you'll about to close your eyes forever, won't you regret not having visited even once?

Just take a look!

pic: big blue..eternal white...Santorini, Greece via LaPartdesAnges on

Jun 2, 2012

“You send the money, you call it a ‘loan’ — you get it back and call it an ‘interest rate' ”

An interesting article published in the New York Times, stating the obvious: Most aid to Athens circles back to Europe.

This is a pretty good explanation on why the popular argument that Greece has received the biggest bailout program in history and should have got its act together by now is ignorant. The truth is, the average Greek and the Greek state don't even see most of this money given as "aid"; it all aids the pay of interest rates on the loans originally got! (and let's not start on how the original loans were scheduled with false fiscal numbers which were allegedly "cooked" by Goldman Sachs)

"As they pay themselves, though, the troika members are also withholding other funds intended to keep the Greek government in operationLast week, the Athens office that tracks revenue said Greece could run out of money by July. If so, Greece could default on its debts — except those due to the central bank, the monetary fund and the European Union.
“Greece will not default on the troika because the troika is paying themselves,” said Thomas Mayer, a senior adviser at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt.
In an elaborate payment system that began after the May 6 election that brought down the Greek government and is meant to ensure that the Greeks do not touch the cash, the big three creditors are now wiring bailout payments to an escrow account in Greece. There the money sits for two or three days — before much of it is sent back to the troika as interest payments on the Greek bonds that Europe accepted under terms of the bailout deal struck in February. About three-quarters of Greece’s debt, or $229 billion, is now effectively owned by one of the three troika members, according to estimates by the investment bank UBS."

May 31, 2012

Christine Lagarde: "My words were misunderstood"

Right.... Lagarde, head of IMF, took her words about the Greeks back. It was all a misunderstanding, silly! She called us all tax-evaders and we thought she called us all tax-evaders. What is it you don't understand, dumbhead?

*Her Facebook account got more than 36.000 comments on this particular "misunderstanding" bringing the retracting post up to the main search results through Google search for "Christine Lagarde Facebook".

May 12, 2012

"Germany Pays to Save Greeks" and Other Bedtime Stories

Former Greek prime minister George Papandreou says that when he asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for gentler conditions in 2010, she replied that the aid program had to hurt. "We want to make sure nobody else will want this!" Ms. Merkel told him.

Also read the very detailed and lengthy report on how the austerity plan has failed on the Wall Street Journal.

May 11, 2012

Lessons from the Greek Crisis 3: We Shall Dance...the Day we Get a Chance

"We shall dance, we shall dance
The day we get a chance
To pay off all the violins of the ball
We shall dance, we shall dance
The day we get a chance
To get a dime to buy back our souls
We shall dance, we shall sing
My dear love, O my spring
My love good days will come"

Greek singer Demis Roussos from 1971 sings with his emotional, sweet voice "We Shall Dance" in a rare

Greek progressive rock band Aphrodite's Child (including later day music stars Vangelis on keyboards and Demis Roussos in vocals) perform "Rain and Tears" in 1969.

"Rain and tears are the same, but in the sun you've got to play the game"

May 4, 2012

When Pre-elections Management Ignores Human Tragedy

The publication of the photographs and private data of the 17 (illegal) prostitutes who were found HIV-positive in Greece the other day and were sent to prison awaiting their trial (accused of spreading an incurable disease to the population) is part of a cunning but unethical political campaign on the part of the governing party, PASOK. This dawns upon anyone discovering the tragic stories of the girls and women (most of whom were also junkies, a couple of whom were brought into the country to prostitute, one of whom was impregnated by a client) who have been heavily exploited by other people, men in the system, in the majority of cases, who are allowed to escape scot-free.

Surely spreading AIDS is bad, but aren't the people who are prostituting these women responsible too? Aren't they responsible for encouraging them to engage in unprotected sex? And aren't the men who actually seek illegal prostitutes (in a country where prostitution is legal -one of very few in Europe as seen from the chart, refer to link for details- and there are regulated brothels where you know the women are routinely checked by a medical team every two weeks!) and engage in unprotected sex with them responsible as well?

Where does the exploitation of human being from human being end? And how far can political games in a ravaged by politicians country go?

Apr 22, 2012

Sarkozy: You Flunk on both Geopolotics 101 & Europolitics 101

Nicolas Sarkozy, in great part responsible for the direction of European politics since 2007, has come out with a preposterous suggestion: That France closes its borders to inter-European move from members of other countries of the European Union! After the economic and fiscal solitude that the German plan has suggested (and more or less practially implemented) for the countries of the European Union beginning 1st Jan.2013, mr.Sarkozy proposes exiting Schengen, the "contract" that allows members of all European Union countries to freely travel & work within the confines of the Union. In short, the last noble vision of our times is collapsing, if mr.Sarkozy has his way.

Not only that, but in order to "safeguard" his borders, he emphatically accused "the hole between Greece and Turkey" as the sole responsible party for the illegal immigration problem within Europe. Really??
Well, surely, for one, no one "invades" Europe through Norway, right? It's a matter of sheer geopolitical positioning that makes this very corner of Europe the pivotal point it is in the destiny of the continent. It has always been so, since the Persian advances in 5th century BC. Where's your historical memory, mr.Sarkozy? Were you absent that day in school?

Not to mention that there is no credible way of determining an immigrant's potential, goals, contribution and outlook beforehand!

Newsflash, mr.Sarkozy:
1. Not only does Dublin II (which the administrations of France and Germany have been instrumental in implementing because it suits them and getting Greece to sign under no subtle threats to sovereignity) force us to retain each and every illegal immigrant that enters our country, claiming asylum....(resulting in thousands of illegal immigrants who come in Greece with the hopes of entering the EU and traveling to other countries in the first place to find a decent job!)
2.....but people here in cahoots with your administration (and Germany's) are actually on the payroll making sure that the illegal immigrants in the port of Patras (and elsewhere) NEVER embark the ships to other countries and remain in a state of beggary and deliquency here (where no decent jobs can be found anymore thanks to your brilliant economic plans of the last 3 years!).
An intricate problem has arisen in Greece concerning illegal immigration where no sufficient or fair solution has been given so far.

Bottom line: You're just playing for votes, mr.Sarkozy. Cheap shot, absolutely no concern for people.

You have made us the dumbing block of Europe, the scapegoat for every ill. You deserve to be dumbed by your own people. They're not stupid, you know; it would be a gross mistake to think that they were.

Apr 13, 2012

Oh my sweet spring!

From the documentary by Vasilis Kesisoglou "Oh my sweet Spring" ("Ω Γλυκύ μου Έαρ"), named after the hymn of Good Friday. Ministry of Culture © 1984

Sung by the angelic Flery Dadonaki

Apr 11, 2012

Paying the Price of the Most Idiotic Economic Experiment in Modern History

"A terrible suffering has been unleashed upon the Greek people as a result of the Euro crisis, and the fiscal incompetence and corruption of the previous Greek government. The leaders of the richer, more powerful European nations, especially France and Germany, have imposed a bureaucrat called Lucas Papademos on the broken country, and demanded cuts to public spending, whose human toll Christoulas has now come to symbolise. Pay and pensions have been debauched; taxes have risen very sharply.

Greece is entering its fifth consecutive year of recession. As the journalist Peter Oborne has noted, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Britain's national output dropped around 10 per cent in total.
Since 2008, Greece's output has dropped 13 per cent. Some forecasters think it could drop 10 per cent further this year alone. [...]

What do we owe the Greek people? Sympathy, solidarity, and support – and an apology too, if you campaigned in favour of the euro. Right on our doorstep in Europe, the country that gave birth to the continent is paying the price of the most idiotic economic experiment in modern history."

From an article in the Independent, a propos the suicide of 77 year old pharmacist pensioner Dimitris Christoulas, who shot himself in Syntagma Square right across Parliament on Wednesday, 4 April 2012 due to incapability of coping with the austerity measures. "I can't look my children in the eye any more" he wrote in his suicide note. The government had made it impossible for him to survive on the pension he had paid into for 35 years. "I find no other solution than a dignified end before I start searching through the trash for food," further read the note. Christoulas in his suicide note referred to the puppet Tsolakoglou government which annihilated all traces of his survival. For those who didn't know it, Georgios Tsolakoglou was the prime minister of Greece during Germany's Nazi occupation during World War II.

Further reading: The aftermath and the political significance of Christoulas's suicide

A Greek tragedy. One of many.

Greece Named Best Place to Give Birth In

"8. Best place to give birth: Greece
Greece is the world's safest place to give birth, with a one in 31,800 risk of dying in childbirth. The UK is in 13th position, but the worst place to have a baby is thought to be the world's newest country, South Sudan. There are fewer than 20 midwives in the whole country."

From an article in the Independent.

Apr 6, 2012

Tonia Sotiropoulou: The next Bond Girl is Greek

Greek actress Tonia Sotiropoulou has signed on to join the cast of ‘Skyfall‘, the 23rd film in the long-running Bond series, as the next Bond girl, according to James Bond news site MI-6 HQ. According to the report, Sotiropoulou, 24, who currently lives in London, will make her first appearance in 'Skyfall' as Bond’s new love interest during the opening scenes. The scene, which is being filmed and set in Istanbul, sees 007 being smuggled to a new location after he is assumed to be dead.



                                                                click on any pic to enlarge

Mar 28, 2012

Lessons from the Greek Crisis 2

Lilika Nakou/Nakos, novelist, writes in Land of Boeotia (1967): "Our people has greatly suffered. You can even see it in the vocabulary: When we refer to making love, we say 'to tear our eyes out'. When we refer to eating, we say 'to get ourselves poisoned'. And when we refer to sleeping, we say 'playing dead'... "


How many words can contain the despair that people, young and old, poor and less poor, are reduced to through no personal fault nowadays? How can language contain rage?

Mar 24, 2012

Greek Black: Powerful Symbol, Impeccable Style

"When I finished primary school in Distomo I had to go to the Gymnasium in Livadeia. At the time, traveling by bus from Distomo to Livadeia was too long and lasted three hours. When my father and I got off the bus in the morning, I saw 10 girls in colorful skirts. I asked him: '' Why do the girls wear such colors, father?" I had hitherto never seen a woman or a girl NOT wearing black in Distomo, because of the Holocaust in 1944" recalls Thanasis Panourgias, Distomo's mayor today, then only a young child.

The testimony reflects the nightmare of the Holocaust June 10, 1944 in Distomo, where 223 people -including elders, women and children- were massacred by the fourth Constitution of Police SS in retaliation for the losses the Germans had by partisans of the 3rd Constitution of the 34th battalion of ELAS (National Lberation Front).

old lady in Crete

Black was (and still is) synonymous with mourning in Greece. For a very long time, there was always someone in the family mourning for the loss of other members; be it from famine, or war, or hostile acts related losses (the Civil War, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus) ; or some of these combined. The longest time of continuous peace in Greece has been a mere 48 years (since 1974). This is why there are so many little old ladies clad in black attire, all wrinkled up in folklore pictures circulating all over the net; they still mourn family members lost in Nazi atrocities  most  likely.

Manos Katrakis

The tradition in villages was that if you lost your parents it was customary to wear black for at least 40 days (though many opted for a lot longer); if you lost a spouse, habitually for 7 years (or as long as you considered yourself a widow after that); and if you lost a never got out of black, you wore it for life....

papa-Noufrakis (the priest head of Orthodox Mass at the St.Sophia in 1919 in Istanbul)

Black is also the colour of choice for the clergy. From head to toe. Solemn and in accordance to the suffering of the grieving parish. Every parish had their own grievers, you see. 

Cretan attire

Mourning sometimes gets to an almost nationalistic level. The classic Cretan attire is consisting of black shirt (morning for the losses in the Cretan war against the Turks), beige or midnight blue jodhpurs ("vraka", a classic rider's pair of pants), black boots and a black crocheted handrkerchief tied on the forehead (the "sariki"). The tassels on the latter are representing tears for the Greek holocaust at Arcadi monastery.
[I have to say, despite myself, I find the effect very virile-looking.]

Black looks exceptionally good under the intense sun, against the white houses and the blue sea (as does white) or the grey of the rock. This is probably why it ended up defining Greek style. All the other colours gain an added intensity under the sun, sometimes to the point of blinding. You just can't go wrong with black.

Elli Lambeti in A Girl in Black (1956)
dance performance En Attendant
dress by Elena Troulakis
Dress by Elena Troulakis

photos via,,,,,

Mar 23, 2012

This is Greece

It had to come to this: Someone needed to organise a positive campaign, rebranding Greece not as the den of political corruption (which it can be, sure), but as a cradle of working, enterprising, friendly people who put their minds where their heart is and never forget that they're first and foremost "of Greek education", a humanist one that encompasses anyone who is willing to partake in it*. This is Magic. This is Greece.

People (Greeks mainly) like to complain that we should change from the inside before even thinking about the outside, about mere appearences (about how the country looks to foreigners visiting, maybe?) Yes, there's certainly a point there. But an organic change isn't possible without really looking the part. Think about it. If you have a bad habit, like gnawing your nails or constantly picking your nose in public and everyone looks at you doing it, are you likely to cut out the bad habit? It becomes part of who you are. The outside becomes the inside and gets incorporated into your being; it ends up defining you! Conversely think how picking the brightest garment in the wardrobe sometimes uplifts our mood when that is as flat as the floor.

If you try to stop looking like that, though, if you restrain yourself, if you consciously make an effort to look good, if only for the times when someone is looking at you or for a set time you decide to set, you tend to pick up the good habit and extend it from the public domain to the private one; from the outside to the inside. And you bring on change. Organic change. Just in a different way that only looks superficial at the very start... This is indeed the very start on the path to greater things, mark my words.

Images are powerful things. They travel with lightening speed and influence our brain instantly.  Let's use images to bring on that change from the outside to the inside in ourselves. Let's re-invent ourselves by remembering what good qualities we always had but we have forgotten; not the folklore we exported so much, but the true spirit we had in our souls. Let's start today! Let's indulge in the magic.

Read Stephen's article on the Elgin Marbles

More to discover: This is Greece 

*“So far has Athens left the rest of mankind behind in thought and expression that her pupils have become the teachers of the world, and she has made the name of Hellas distinctive no longer of race but of intellect, and the title of Hellene a badge of education rather than of common descent.”~Isocrates, Panergyricus, 50, circa 380 BC (J. A. Freese Translation)

Mar 21, 2012

Lessons from the Greek Crisis 1


Sounds superficial and Coelho-like in its simplistic, humanist message, but spring will always come in the end. The sun always rises from the east. There's hope where people bask under the sun.
Imagine if this were the UK.

Mar 17, 2012

Folli Follie: the Crazy for Greece campaign

Folli Follie is a Greek fashion company of jewelry, handbags and petit maroquinerie with boutiques and corners all over the world (of which 100 in Japan and China alone). Their style has always been about good craftmanship on 925 silver and 14K gold or gold-plated pieces and quality leathers producing pieces that are cute, make a statement and adapt easily to busy working lives.

This spring they're campaigning with a back home message, choosing to shoot their campaign at Spetses island, off the Saronic coast south of Athens. The star of the campaign is Vietnamese-Chinese actress and model Gaile Lai, in three incarnations (rock, trendy, classy), getting caressed by the soft, warm sun of the Mediterranean.

Let it be...even that way is better than aping foreign "paradises" and setting the scene for consumerism that profits international conglomerates. At least I know who owns and who controls this brand.

Mar 14, 2012

Domna Samiou: The Keeper of Greek Folk Tradition Is Singing with the Angels

In Domna Samiou a modern Homer lived: taking a rich, oral tradition and compiling decade after decade, century after century of culture into an opus of incomparable magnitude.

Domna Samiou was born by Greek parents, refugees from Asia Minor. And it was her cultural background, steeped in traditional and at the same time cosmopolitan music from the region of Smyrni/Ismir, which prompted her to later immerse herself in music: byzantine music, the mother load of all folk music in the Eastern Mediterranean, through to Greek folk music and the music of magna Grecia. She travelled the lengths and breadths of Greece, from the high mountains of Rodopi and Pindos to the lowlands of Thessaly down to Crete and the islands, always carrying a small recorder and seeking the elders: the keepers of the great oral tradition ever since the Homeric times...

She died at 84, active and joyous to the end. May the earth that lies above you be light, oh Grecian one.

Folk song Tzivaeri, the mother's lament of migration

Cretan song "The Sound of the Chains" (As heavy as the irons hang, so will the black clothes)

Thracian folk song "If I were a bird to fly" (to go abroad and see my beloved again)

Note how similar the tenuta, the harmonies and the solemnity of the voice performance is with byzantine ecclesiastical hymns.

Song Black Sea, modern orchestration & additional lyrics mixed with a Thracian folk dance song) by D.Savvopoulos

"Φταίνε τα τραγούδια του, φταίει κι ο λυράρης
μα φταίει κι ο ίδιος του ο λαός γιατί 'ναι μαραζιάρης
Μαύρη θάλασσα κλειστή, μακρινές μου πεδιάδες
πίσω από τις συμπληγάδες"

The songs are to blame, the lyra player too.
But it's its people to blame most because they like lamenting to.
Black sea, closed, faraway lowlands
behind the Symbligades*.

*translation by me

Mar 5, 2012

Liberation: "Greece, the Cradle of a New World"

From an article in the French paper Liberation (appearing on this link in the original French). Translation from the French my own, links by me.


"No, although dramatic, what is happening in Greece is not a disaster. It can even be an opportunity. For the power of money has, for the first time, briskly exceeded the -until then- gradual, meticulous and carefully organized destruction of the public good and of human dignity. And that has happened in a land as famous for its philosophy of life -diametrically opposed to the Anglo-Saxon model- as for its relentless resistance to multiple oppressions that have tried to bring it to heel. The Greek does not dance and will never dance to goose-stepping, nor will he bend his spine down, regardless of the regimes imposed on him. He dances with his arms raised up, as if to fly towards the stars. He writes on the walls that which he wishes to read elsewhere. He burns a bank when that bank leaves him unable to afford even his traditional grill. The Greek is as much alive as the ideology that threatens him is leathal. And the Greek, even beaten to pulp, always rises in the end.

Yes, European finances wanted to make an example out of the Greek. But in their surliness to hit the country which seemed the weakest link in the euro-zone, in their excessive violence, their mask fell off. It is now more than ever, the time to point to all their true face: that of totalitarianism. For it is indeed that. And there is only one answer to totalitarianism: the fight, tough and uncompromising, until the point of armed combat, if necessary, since its very existence is at stake. We have a world, a life of values ​​to defend. Everywhere in the streets, they are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our parents who are hit before our eyes, even distant. We are hungry, cold, in pain alongside them. All the hits they have received are also likely hurting us too. Each Greek child who faints in their schoolyard calls us to indignation and revolt. For the Greeks, it is time to say no, and, for all of us to support them.

Because Greece is now leading the fight against financial totalitarianism, which is destroying the public property, threatening daily survival, spreading despair, fear and the cretinisation of a war of all against all, everywhere in the world.

Beyond an emotionally-driven anger, which lets off steam by destroying symbols of oppression, a lucid anger rises, that of resistance fighters who refuse to be dispossessed of their own lives for the benefit of the bank mafia and their logic of "mad money". With the direct democracy assemblies, the civil disobedience movement "I don't not pay (any more)" and the first experiences of self-regulation, a new Greece is emerging, which rejects the tyranny market on behalf of humans.
We do not know how long it will take for people to overcome their voluntary servitude, but it is certain that, faced with the ridicule of political cronyism in these corrupt democracies and the grotesque cynicism of the state-bankster, we will have a choice - against any profiteering - to manage our affairs ourselves.

Greece is our past. It is also our future. Let's reinvent it! In 2012, let's all be Greeks!"

Mar 3, 2012

This is the Greece we Love

Created by Kostas Golemis and Fotis Traganoudakis.
Music by Tania Giannouli (featuring lyra, cello, flute)

Feb 25, 2012

Iceland Compared with Greece against the Crisis: Why & How Greece was Led to Give Away Sovereign Rights

This just might be the most important post I will write on the Greek Outlook for some time, so pay attention.

Greek prime minister G.A.Papandreous hanging from a noose as a clown during protests in front of Parliament, 2011

"You can say with certainty that Iceland has the world record in remission households out of the crisis. The country has done everything needed in a crisis, following the book. Any economist would agree" said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets economist at Danske Bank in Copenhagen.

The measures taken by Iceland to revive the crisis of 2008, when the banks went into bankruptcy for the amount of 85 billion dollars, were supremely effective resulting in freeing the burden of debt once and for all.
Of course, to do all these Iceland played very intelligently its geostrategic "ace": When it bankrupt and rioting began in the peaceful country, when none of its Western allies give any assistance (Iceland being in NATO) the country began "courting" with Russia for a month.
Once the Prime Minister of Russia V.Poutin announced a program of economic assistance worth tens of billions of dollars to rescue the Icelandic economy "within 24 hours Britain and Norway said they will directly aid Iceland " as they eventually did.

To transport the issue from Iceland to the Crisis in Greece and to compare how differently the crisis was purposefully handled here:

I am reminding you that Greece had flirted with Russia indeed, closing the deal of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis natural gas pipe line, during the administration of Kostas Karamanlis. The then prime minister was soon cut short of his 4-year-spanning elected administration by the sudden eruption of the Vatopedi scandal in spring 2008 (and which has been contested successfully as fabricated, as you can see for yourself in multiple-sides testimonies). The Vatopedi scandal was communicated in the Greek media as causing a tremendously large damage to state funds, an image that was then transplated as such to the international media, but the official investigators appointed by the Greek state have not discovered any real Greek state monetary loss in the transactions.

The administration of George Papandreou was forwarded, winning the elections in autumn 2009. I use "forwarded" purposefully: An article in the New York based Greek newspaper “Ethnikos Kirikas” (National Messenger) was claiming back then that the #3 in power at the US Whitehouse was in Athens in the summer prior to the 2009 federal elections to make sure that Papandreou won the election from the then prime minister of the ND party Kostas Karamanlis! Why were the US interested in securing Papandreou on the seat of prime-minister?
Karamanlis had already vetoed FYROM's entrance in NATO alliance on grounds of national name dispute and false ethnic minorities claim arising from it. He had also rejected the UN's proposal on the Cyrpus issue (a proposal that would arguably bear a heavy toll on the divided island for the price of closure in the almost 40-year long division; a Carthaginian peace, if you will). Karamanlis was not the most well liked man in Washington, let's just say. Even democratic elections can be swayed by the power of the media and the media, local and international, were opposing Karamanlis right & left during that eventful period, probably directed by some higher power in cahoots with political and financial nuclei. (Greeks were furious at the spending of state money by corrupt politicians. The subsequent trials and proceedings have since resulting in absolving then ministers of punible blame, even though I'm absolutely certain there has been corruption that hasn't been tackled yet; but in other areas than those brought out to the light, which I find -shall we say- telling...).

This autumn-2009-emerging G.A.Papandreou administration was already in communications with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout and financial aid, according to Dominique Strauss-Khan himself (then head of IMF), even before they had got hold of the economical figures, before the elections!! Strauss-Khan is quoted by a French reporter on French TV as saying that: “when I say that the IMF came to Greece and we wrapped things up in 15 days I am obviously exaggerating. We wrapped things up in 15 days because we worked for months before that with Greek authorities" (watch the admission video in its entirety here, putting the frame of the talks in autumn 2009). Coincidence?

Essentially Papandreou therefore flat out LIED to the Greek people telling them repeatedly "there IS money!" pre-electorally to win the popular vote in autumn 2009, while simultansously speeding up processes that led up to the open intervention of the IMF in Greece months after it was secretly agreed upon. Why? Several VERY intriguing questions pop up!

The whole business has always presented in the same tone: "we are going to help 'save" Greece'. To which Greeks mutter between themselves: "please, don't save us any more!" Finally the international press is seeing how there is truth in that, comparing the Greek bailout to the Afghan War: "In Greece as in Afghanistan, there are profound negative consequences associated with both action and inaction. It's not clear that a good solution exists, but everyone feels compelled to muddle on anyway. There's a suspicion that, at best, all our planning will only delay the inevitable to a more convenient time: don't let Afghanistan collapse until the Taliban are a bit weaker, don't let Greece collapse until the rest of Europe is in recovery and able to absorb it." Interestingly Afganistan and Greece are two territories where opposition is difficult to curb; the first due to terrain and intricasy of local leaders nuclei, the second due to a long tradition of resistance & disobediance amongst the people.

The Burgas-Alexandroupoli project was eventually dropped, for reasons that appear unrelated to political machinations at first sight, at the end of 2011 (The official reason is declared as Bulgarian opposition of environmentalists).Though a project that was in talks since the mid-1990s, and several deals & details were signed collaterally by all countries involved during the mid-2000s (when Karamanlis was prime-minister), the construction of the actual pipe-line was scheduled to begin in October 2009. Coincidence? 
G.A. Papandreous was always very opposed to it, despite it being a project that would generate thousands of jobs in Northern Greece and would boost the economy tremendously. Why then? What did he discuss with Putin when abandoning the project in a visit to Moscow in 2010? The data linked talk about offers of financial aid by Putin at interests as low as 2-3%, investments throughout the country and benefits arising from the use of Neorion shipbuilding yard on Syros island. All these were rejected by Papandreou! Obviously no association with Russia whatsoever was intended, sought or evaluated positively by the Papandreous administration, despite being the leader of the Greek Socialist party (PASOK) nonetheless.

Proposals by China and the Arab world regarding huge investements in Greece that would have resulted in a tangible boost in the economy have ALSO mysteriously been rejected by the G.A.Papandreous administration without further justification. Coincidence?

The words "high treason" are on many Greeks' lips regarding the people involved.

G.A Papandreou (bottom left) and A.Samaras (upper right), mates in the same band.

Let's see the revealing timeline for a clarification of my point:

September 2007: Winning the elections for the second time, means another term of Kostas Karamanlis as Greek prime minister (scheduled span of administration: till early autumn 2011, i.e. 4 years, as per Greek constitution).

Spring 2008: The Vatopedi scandal erupts. Agressive local media coverage on claims of state being at a loss & implication of ministers.This is tranmitted as such through the international media as well.

October 2009: Karamanlis announces elections just one year and a month after being elected, is defeated by PASOK leader George A. Papandreou and resigns from the leadership of his party after 12 years.

November 2009: Papandreou definitely in talks with Dominique Strauss-Khan over intervention of IMF in Greece (according to Strauss-Khan'sown admission on video as detailed above)

February 2010: The Greek people is told that intervention from the IMF must be sought at all costs: "we're sinking", the prime minister says. Assurances that the package will ensure getting out of the crisis by 2011 are given.

Spring 2010: The IMF and the Troika arrive in Athens. An unprecented in the Western world in its severity austerity measures package is proposed and immediately implemented by the government. This isn't the last one: two more follow, the latest in February 2012, dropping the quality of living by a steep 50% for most people, leaving 1:3 of Greek living below the limit of poverty.

October 2010: Visit of Papandreou to Moscow when every proposition of aid/investing is rejected. Abadonment of the gas pipeline project.

June 2011: Strauss-Khan, head of IMF, is abruptly charged with a rape charge in New York city; he's prosecuted and sent to trial. The reactions are spanning the whole spectrum. (The case is eventually dropped because of lack of evidence, as per his lawyer Ben Brafman: "What happened in that room, so long as we have now confirmed that it wasn't criminal, is really not something that needs to be discussed publicly." Is it a coincidence it happened in New York? To a poor hotel worker of coloured skin too? The Wikileaks creator is also charged with rape in Sweden? Coincidence? Is -a foregone conclusion- the feminist protestation regarding issues of such sensitive nature (and of coloured rights against discrimination) an assured means to press -and press hard!- on certain public figures?
Straus-Khan is let off all too late: He has already lost the leadership of the IMF and has been absent from the crucial late-July 2011 Greek bailout decisions, plus he has damaged every chance of filing for French presidency in the elections against Sarkzy. Strauss-Khan incidentally is a philleline.)

July 2011: Large protests in Athens, the Greek capital, oppose the augmented demands of the IMF and the EuroGroup resulting in significant "hair-cutting" part of the debt, thus meaning Greece won't be able to get out in the free market to borrow money any time soon. The measures are passed through a flood of Greek "indignandos" at Syntagma square in front of the Parliament, protesting peacefully from all walks of life, the size of which Greece hasn't seen since probably the re-establishment of democracy in 1974.
Officials insist the measures are necessary if painful and by 2014 Greece will be out in the markets again, if they're implemented.

November 2011: In an unprecedented confusion about what will happen about the continuation or not of the course already taken, Papandreou throws everyone off with a suggestion of a Referendum of the Greek people as to whether they will vote "Yes" to austerity measures & thus stay within the Eurozone or "No" and therefore exit the Eurozone (and effectively the European Union as well, a situation dreaded by at least 75% of Greeks) He retracts the proposition in a matter of 24 hours, claiming he proposed it fearing of a military coup in Greece. This weirdly coincides with the long-scheduled change of military heads in all Greek arms. Coincidence? Papandreou manages to be therefore hurriedly invited at the Cannes G20 meeting, where further actions are decided for the "saving" of Greece by the powerful of the world and he has personal meetings with Sarkozy and Merkel.

December 2011: A new coalition government is enstated, not out of elective processes, but thanks to Papandreou finally stepping down from prime-minister (absorbing the public anger) in favour of Europe-&-US-approved & assigned Lukas Papademos. Papademos is the banker of the National Bank who was cognizant (and some say complicit!) to the machinations of former prime-minister Kostas Simitis who ~assisted by Goldman Sachs~ "cooked" the national economic figures at the time in order to meet EU standards and enter the Eurozone in 2001. What do Papademos, Mario Draghi (of the European Central Bank) and Mario Monti (assigned Italy PM) have in common? A connection to Goldman Sachs, as reported by London correspondent Marc Roche in French paper Le Monde. Coincidence?
Is Greece serving as the Trojan Horse for Goldman Sachs to destroy the European countries' solidarity? (as reported by Russian Pravda). That would be poetic justice. Or just the canary in the coal mine?

February 2012: A 3rd severe austerity measures package is sanctioned by the EuroGroup, in attendance of the infamous PSI (the acceptance of losses by private creditors holding Greek debt) and implemented in Greece amidst angered protests with the threat of imminent bankruptcy and exit of the Eurozone: This is the second Memorandum and its text effectually forsakes sovereign rights to just about any income-producing sector of the country (state companies, land, oil reserves, rights to potential exploration of natural resources etc) for the forseeable future ~a special bank account to creditors is opened that will be paid first before the state meets ANY other of its own needs (i.e. pensions, salaries, state work, medical needs through social security etc). The Eurogroup Memorandum in February 2012 is estimating Greece's sovereign debt by 2020 to be equal to the amount of debt the country had in 2009!!! A more permanent position of European officials supervising measures implementation is effectuated and FOUR more such job positions are announced! [Rejoice European Brussells clerk, you too can take your holidays ad inifinitum in sunny, beautiful Greece and get paid for it!!]

Bottom-line: Greece is officially becoming a protectorate of the European powers and the USA through a scheme that is just now becoming quite evident.

Kostas Karamanlis is totally silent for every matter of the political life in Greece and Europe ever since and rumour has it that he has been threatened by external political forces (as of yet unknown) for his and his family's lives. Coincidence? This rumour is as yet unsubstantiated but sounds logical enough; a vast amount of Greeks consider it a very plausible train of events and an explanation to the whole situation: ousting the undesirable for the puppet. 

Interesting factoid for further thought: The opposition leader Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy party and successor to Kostas Karamanlis, although severely opposing the memorandum, in the end voted for it in February 2012. Samaras and G.A Papandreou not only are both Harvard School alumni and friends at the time of their student days, they were also roommates at Amherst College. They also played in the same band, as attested by the photo above. Coincidence?

The conclusions, your own...

Feb 21, 2012

France & Germany Pressured Greece to Buy their Armaments Beyond the Country's Financial Means

"It is easily forgotten when Greece is criticised that there has been not very subtle pressure from France to buy six frigates," says Thanos Dokos, the director general of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy. [...]

Over much of the last decade, Greece – which has a population of 11 million people – has been one of the top five arms importers in the world. Most of the vastly expensive weapons, including submarines, tanks and combat aircraft, were made in Germany, France and the US.

The arms purchases were beyond Greece's capacity to absorb, even before the financial crisis struck in 2009. Several hundred Leopard battle tanks were bought from Germany, but there was no money to pay for ammunition for their guns. Even in 2010, when the extent of the financial disaster was apparent, Greece bought 223 howitzers and a submarine from Germany at a cost of €403m.[...]

The justification for Greece's large army – 156,000 men compared to 250,000 in the German army – is the perceived threat from Turkey, which requires the Greeks to keep some form of military parity with a nation with seven times as many people.

Mr Dokos says that fear of being labelled unpatriotic has prevented the opposition in parliament from seeking a in defence expenditure. There has never been a debate in parliament about how far a Turkish threat really exists."
~From an article in the Independent 

It seems to me the world is suffering from amnesia or gross ignorance. There can't be any other explanation.

To all those who say "it's the buyer to blame, not the vendor" and "Greeks are never accepting responsibility", just remember who was the prime ally of Turkey, a NATO member, very obviously and very flamboyantly till very recently: the USA. And just how far the USA is controlling arms dealings within Europe thanks to the NATO system.
And learn also that airborne "tresspassing" from Turkish aircrafts is a roughly DAILY phenomenon: air fights between Greek and Turkish pilots (who have lots of things in common and an enmity instigated by outside forces) every day in times of peace!!! Who orders those Turkish aircrafts to rise? Why? And how timely? As both nations are members of NATO the hypothesis is supremely interesting. Who's gaining from aircrafts that get destroyed in the process, unless it's the one who sells them to BOTH countries to begin with? Who's the warmonger?

At the height of the Cold War, both countries were encouraged by the US to keep themselves well armed - Piraeus, the port of Athens, was also the base for the American Sixth Fleet. However, when Turkey invaded Cyprus, the rest of the NATO countries kept mum and Greece was humiliated in the aftermath with hundreds of Greek Cypriots killed. Is it any wonder the Greeks spend money in arms?

Remember too that a very prominent Greek politician/former minister, prosecuted for usurping state money, is responsible for personally benefiting from importing German submarines, that still had technical glitches; deals that cannot now be cancelled by the state because of penalty clauses in the contracts! Who approved this on the German side? Why?

How about the telecommunications & transportation deal scandal between German Siemens and the Greek state, riddled with over-charges and kickbacks? Remember how EVERYONE was critizing how Athens might not be the safest place in the world for the summer Olympic Games of 2004 and they absolutely insisted on getting the Greek state to spend millions of euros into the highest possible security? (And in the end absolutely not a bleep on the radar happened....there was never any menace)
How many corrupted German officials were involved in this Siemenscandal? Where are they now? Why don't we hear anything about them? Why isn't money paid in German bribes returned to the Greek state?
Siemens is not beyond a shady past, after all...

And let's not forget: The Greek people have lived responsibly and frugally according to the IMF with household debt figures similar to Germany and much lower than the UK!!!

Who's leeching off the average Greek then?

cartoon from the Greek press: Reichenbach puppeteering Greek statesmen E.Venizelos and G.Papandreou via Merkel & Sarkozy photo from the same source.

Feb 19, 2012

"Only Greeks and Brits Were Left Standing": Why Europe Stands to Lose if Greece is Forced Out

Greek women & men from Greek People's Liberation Front during WWII

"there is also an ethical argument: modern Europe exists thanks to ancient Greece and modern Greece exists thanks to the European powers that guaranteed its independence in the early 19th century. Since then, Greeks have more than repaid their debt. They fought to defend western ideals and interests in every corner of the world – from the trenches of Europe, to the hills of Korea and the deserts of the Gulf. When Germans fell into the darkness of Nazism, when the empires of old (Belgium, Netherlands, France) surrendered within days, only Greeks and Brits were left standing. Ask those who were cowering from the pounding of Luftwaffe in the tube stations of London, during the long winter of 1940, and they will tell you that the only pieces of good news they were getting for months, were coming from the Greek mountains."

From an article on the Guardian on "What Europe Loses if Greece is Forced Out" mentioning several reasons beyond the ethical ones: Greece being the barrier to the tons of illegal immigration from Asia, the Nato efforts to assure stability in the Balkans, the undiminished geopolitical strategic point that Greece and Cyprus present in the area, betraying the sacrifices already made in the name of European directive.

"We should remember that those who sacrifice Greece on the altar of speculation, hoping that economic fascism will be satisfied with this small country and that they will escape ...those are the same ones who reliquinshed Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler in Munich in 1938, hoping that this new prey offered him would suffice, after they had already reliquinshed the democratic Spain."
from the Nantes announcement on "Je Suis Grec aussi, solidarité avec le peuple Grecque"

click to enlarge

The Dec. 1, 1940 New York Times editorial reported: “The hypnotism of gloom has become dangerous as the wishful thinking that preceded it in the prewar years. We can thank the people and soldiers of Greece for ridding our minds of a foul superstition…It will be the glory of modern Greece in history to have shattered the myth of invincibility of the Axis and to have given to all free men a new proof of the worth of courage.”

Further Reading:
"Heroes Fight Like Greeks, The Greek Resistance Against the Axis Powers in WWII" (Hardcover) by Ronald J. Drez
"Inside Hitler's Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941-44" [Paperback] by Mark Mazower

pics via the National Herald and

Feb 18, 2012

"I too am Greek!": Solidarity with the Greek People

Saturday 18th of February, International Mobilization Day: We are all Greeks! When one people is attacked, all people are attacked.

Thousands of people are coming out in the streets today all over the world (France, Portugal, Denmark, New York City) in solidarity to the Greeks, who are brought down to their knees by the demands of the Troika, the IMF, the European Central Bank and the leaders of the Eurozone by enforcing austerity measures the people cannot possibly meet.

A trilingual weblog called Je suis Grec/I too am Greek documents the solidarity idea of people against the powers that try to harness their sovereign rights and their free speech & right to protest. From the people who began a campaign for the symbolic claim for Greek nationality.

"I do not like violence. I do not think that very much is gained by burning banks and smashing windows. And yet I feel a surge of pleasure when I see the reaction in Athens and the other cities in Greece to the acceptance by the Greek parliament of the measures imposed by the European Union. [...] The joy is the joy of seeing the much-trodden worm turn and roar. The joy of seeing those whose cheeks have been slapped a thousand times slapping back. How can we ask of people that they accept meekly the ferocious cuts in living standards that the austerity measures imply? Do we want them to just agree that the massive creative potential of so many young people should be just eliminated, their talents trapped in a life of long-term unemployment? All that just so that the banks can be repaid, the rich made richer? All that, just to maintain a capitalist system that has long since passed its sell-by date, that now offers the world nothing but destruction. For the Greeks to accept the measures meekly would be to multiply depression by depression, the depression of a failed system compounded by the depression of lost dignity.The violence of the reaction in Greece is a cry that goes out to the world"

From a piece in the Guardian exploring the secret pleasure in seeing someone rebel against the "debtocracy system".

"Greece is at the cutting edge of the austerity measures that are being introduced across Europe. All the evidence shows that while these measures may protect the interests of the rich, they just make matters worse for the majority of the population. What happens in Greece today we will see in Portugal tomorrow and in Ireland the day after. In Britain, the coalition government is pursuing similar measures which will see workers' earnings reduced, see them working longer for a smaller pension, and the NHS dismantled, along with other public services."

From a piece in the Guardian on the solidary between European peoples.

pics via &

Why & How Iceland Has Resurfaced After the Bankruptcy in 2008 (Example for Greece?)

Compare and contrast with the situation of the Greek crisis. Similar track? Terrifically different courses of actions, to be sure. Could it be because Iceland is not a geopolitical corner of utmost importance as a way to the Middle East? Or a prime holiday spot for the rich & powerful to own like Greece can be? Could it be because someone had a wonderful idea about transforming a society into one where everything and everyone could be working in transparency? Could Iceland have been left to remedy things their way while Greece won't be?

What happened  to Iceland?

2008. The country's main bank is nationalized. The currency collapses, the operation of the stock market stops. The country is bankrupt.
2009. The protests in front of the parliament succeed and early elections and declared, causing the resignation of the Prime Minister and the entire government. The plight of the economy continues. A proposed law regarding the debt to the UK and to the Netherlands suggests for it to be paid several millions, drawn from all Icelandic families monthly for 15 years with a 5.5% interest rate, should be amassed.

2010. The people come out on the streets asking for a referendum. In January 2010 the president refuses to put the law into effect and announces there is demand for popular verdict. March is the month for the referendum and 'no' to pay wins by 93% of the votes. The government is beginning research on judicial responsibility for the crisis. They begin the arrests of bankers and executives. The Interpol issues an order and all involved bankers responsible for the crisis leave the country.

Amidst the crisis, a body is elected by citizens in order to write the new constitution. 25 people are elected, with no political dependence out of the 522 that were presented as candidates. The application requirement was being adults and be recommended by 30 people.The law-making body begins its work in February 2011 and will present a Magna Carta taking into account the unanimous recommendations of different meetings that take place throughout the country. It must be approved by the current parliament and the next revisioary administrationg that will result from the next election.
This is the brief history of the Icelandic revolution: resignation of the entire government, nationalizing the bank, a referendum on crucial economic decisions, the crisis magnates put in prison and rewriting the Constitution by the citizens.

Watch the documentary.