Archive for Greece

Not So Golden Dawn

Now, this is getting interesting:

Greek police are investigating a statement by an unknown group claiming responsibility for the killing of two members of the far-right Golden Dawn party.

The group, Fighting Popular Revolutionary Forces, said the Nov. 1 killings were retribution for the slaying of a left-wing activist rapper by a Golden Dawn member in September.

The group threatened to keep killing Golden Dawn members and their supporters.

The Zougla (Jungle) news website said it reported the statement Saturday after receiving an anonymous phone call saying it could be found on a USB stick in a plastic bag at an Athens location.

A member of the police counterterrorism division said it is studying the statement which wasn’t from any known terrorist group.

What better way to make a name for yourself? Though their action might have had unintended consequences:

Support for Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party has grown since two members were gunned down by unknown assailants this month, an opinion poll released on Saturday showed.

The poll by ALCO, for Sunday’s Proto Thema newspaper, conducted on November 12-15, put support for Golden Dawn at 8.8 percent, up from 6.6 percent in a previous poll carried out a month earlier, still below the 10.8 percent it enjoyed in June.

Golden Dawn denies accusations of violence and rejects the neo-Nazi label. It denies any involvement in the killing.

Hey, it’s not us you have to convince. Talk to the… what’s their name? Fighting Popular Revolutionary Forces. Tell it to them.

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Profligacy Kills

Isn’t that the real lesson here?

If austerity had been a clinical trial, it would have been stopped. As public health experts, we have watched aghast as a slow motion disaster arose from austerity policies in Europe, while politicians continue to ignore the evidence of their disastrous effects.

Austerity was designed to shrink debts. Now, three years after Europe’s budget-cutting began, the evidence is in: severe, indiscriminate austerity is not part of the solution, but part of the problem — and its human costs are devastating.

But suicides and depression are not unavoidable consequences of economic downturns: countries that slashed health and social protection budgets have seen starkly worse health outcomes than nations which opted for stimulus over austerity.

Greece, for example, is in the middle of a public health disaster. To meet budget-deficit reduction targets set by the European Central Bank, European Commission, and International Monetary Fund (the so-called troika), Greece’s public health budget has been cut by more than 40%.

As Greece’s health minister observed, “these aren’t cuts with a scalpel, they’re cuts with a butcher’s knife.” The spending was reduced to 6% of GDP, a figure lower than the UK, at 8%, and Germany, at 9%.

As a result, HIV infections have jumped by more than 200% since 2010, concentrated in injection drug users, as needle-exchange program budgets were cut in half. There was a malaria epidemic in Greece — the largest in 40 years — after mosquito-spraying budgets were slashed.

More than 200 essential medicines have been de-stocked from some pharmacies as the state’s drug budget was reduced and pharmaceuticals companies exited the country in arrears.

Since 2008 there has been a rise of more than 40% of people who report being unable to access healthcare that they believe to be medically necessary, the majority concentrated in pensioners.

I’m awfully sorry to read these statistics, truly I am, but how is austerity to blame? Austerity is the natural successor to profligacy. Austerity is what happens after you run out of money. Profligacy is how you run out.

Two of my favorite Maggie Thatcher quotes (at least I think they’re hers) are: “the facts of life are conservative”; and “the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s [Germany's] money”.

I added Germany, if you couldn’t tell. So, why don’t these Drs. Goody-Two-Shoes blame Germany for the outbreak of malaria? Why shouldn’t Angela Merkel take the hit for the HIV epidemic, rather than the junkies themselves who pass needles around like joints?

Silly, of course, but expect it. Greece is Detroit on a national scale (before America becomes Detroit on a national scale). Detroit was put into receivership after losing two-thirds of its population and just about all of its ability to fend for itself. The situation is humiliating and demeaning, depressing and dehumanizing—but it’s all that’s left.

Detroit is lucky there’s a Michigan (and a federal government). Greece is lucky there’s a Germany (and an EU). The history of species teaches us that behavior like Greece’s and Detroit’s almost always leads to extinction. “People who report being unable to access healthcare that they believe to be medically necessary” should consider themselves blessed they are around to “believe” anything. Especially when their “beliefs” have been the problem all along.

Besides, there’s always a silver lining in destitution:

My fiancé and I receive a CSA farm share every week, and this week we got bok choy that had been pulled from the ground in central Massachussetts the same day. When shopping at a supermarket, it’s easy to forget that our vegetables are grown in the dirt – our obsession with cleanliness and sanitation has seeped into our food, and any produce that’s not squeaky clean is discarded or ignored by consumers. Again, it’s important to remember that this concern for cleanliness is not without merit – we know what happens when contaminated food gets into the retail pipeline – but though many microbes live in the earth, soil is not the source of most infectious disease.

A little rinse with water (clean, sanitized water from a municipal water system) was enough to remove most of the dirt on the bok choy, but what about the microbes that hitched a ride? Many environmental bacteria form biofilms that can prevent easy removal, and a cursory hand-scrub isn’t likely to do the trick. During most of human evolution, humans have been consuming microbes from the environment, and it’s clear that this exposure shapes the populations of microbes in our guts. A experimental link between microbes consumed in the diet and specific health conditions has not been shown, but it’s quite plausible that at least some of the observations linked to the hygiene hypothesis aren’t just due to passive microbial encounters, but because of what we put in our mouths.

I don’t think the Greeks (or Detroiters, either) are heavily into bok choy, but the point applies to all produce it seems to me. And with Detroit turning ever more ghettos into community gardens, they would do well to heed this advice.

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Corfu 4 U

Hey Troy! You can have the place for a song now!

The beach is the longest on the Greek island of Rhodes – four miles of crystal waters, flanked by a gently sloping pebble shore. The 18-hole golf course that flanks it is lined with olive trees and wild flowers, and there is scarcely a hotel or high rise in sight.

Mr Georgas has played here for over 30 years. And now he thinks the government should sell it.

“We are like a bankrupt housewife forced to sell the silver, to save the family,” he said. “Greece has no choice.”

The sale of the coast at Afandou is part of the Greek government’s desperate attempts to raise money by privatising its vast portfolio of state-owned assets – the largest firesale in history. Some 70,000 lots are for sale, ranging from pristine stretches of coast through to royal palaces, marinas, thermal baths, ski resorts and entire islands. Only last Wednesday, bidding closed for a stake in the state gambling company.

I understand my utopia of limited government serving the basic needs of the people, and otherwise leaving them to get on with it, is not everyone’s glass of ouzo—but a state gambling company? From the look of things, the state is a gambling company:

Rhodes is unique in having nearly a third of its land owned by the government, a legacy of being occupied during the Italian invasion in 1912 and later having ownership of that land passed over to Athens when it became part of the modern Greek state. Yet that hasn’t stopped the inspectors from Athens fanning out across the country to see what else they could auction off.

And I wasn’t kidding about Corfu:

To that end, the royal palace on Corfu, where Prince Philip was born, is now also for sale. So too is a large coastal estate which, the government boasts on its website, is next door to land owned by the Rothschild banking dynasty.

It’s still not clear how Greece will get out of this mess. But it’s pretty clear how they got into it.

I’m kind of interested in bidding on the Parthenon, but I’d want some modern conveniences thrown into the deal.

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Why Can’t We Be More Like That Nice Continent Europe?

It’s a persistent refrain among liberals. They have socialized medicine in Europe, why can’t we? They have gun control in Europe, why can’t we? They boycott Israel in Europe, why can’t we?

Aggie and I argue against each suggestion on its individual demerits. We also argue for the American system on its own merits.

But we could settle the argument without any argument at all. You want Europe so bad, why don’t you live there?

G’ahead, they’re gathering in anticipation and hanging the bunting for you.

Tens of thousands of neo-Nazis rallied in Athens in support of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party, in the movement’s largest demonstration of support since its rise to power in last June’s general election.

Men dressed in military uniforms, holding torches, donning swastikas and chanting anti-immigrant slogans, marched through central Athens in what was reportedly a memorial event paying tribute to the party’s “fallen soldiers,” The International Business Times reported.

“This is a day of remembrance. It’s a day to remember that Golden Dawn is here to stay. And so long as it does, there will be hope for the country,” Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kassidiaris told supporters.

Hundreds of riot police and security officials were deployed to the scene of the march, which took place near the prime minister’s office and the Turkish embassy in Athens, according to The Times.

I’ve been pretty dismissive of Golden Shower—Dawn, I mean (there I go again), but tens of thousands of antisemites and neo-Nazis deserve my attention if not my respect.

This is Europe, folks, where fascism was born and seemingly never dies.

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Dynamic Duo

OMG, BTL hasn’t been this excited by a twosome since he imagined Mark Steyn and Caroline Glick in a romantic clinch!

Santelli butchers the name, but otherwise he and Farage speak the same language. As far as I can tell, those who disagree just have their fingers stuffed in their ears, humming to drown out the noise.

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Don’t Drink the Drachma

You can’t make this stuff up:

Antonis Samaras, the prime minister who was sworn in on Wednesday, cancelled meetings and will undergo surgery on Saturday after he was found to be suffering from a detached retina following a routine eye examination.

Of greater concern was the condition of the country’s new finance minister, Vassilis Rapanos, who was rushed to hospital after collapsing from apparent exhaustion. Mr Rapanos, 65, who is known to suffer from a long-standing illness, was in a stable condition last night.

The men’s ill health was emblematic of the strain being placed on millions of ordinary Greeks as the eurozone struggles to find a solution to the financial crisis.

What about the Golden Shower Party? They seem pretty healthy:

An immigrant rights group on Thursday accused a Greek far-right party of being behind hundreds of violent attacks on immigrants as part of a stepped-up “terror campaign” aimed at driving them out of the country.

Leading activist Petros Constantinou told a news conference that the number of such attacks had ballooned since Sunday’s crucial national election, which saw the extreme Golden Dawn party nab 18 seats in parliament.

“There’s a huge pogrom underway now that has been organized by Golden Dawn gangs, with fascist and racist attacks in neighborhoods and in subway and bus stations,” said Constantinou, coordinator of the United Against Racism and Fascist Violence Movement. “Right now we have dozens of injured, stabbing victims.”

Constantinou said Golden Dawn’s strong showing in the poll has emboldened it to step up such violence, and he accused police of covering up for the party.

I have no quarrel with Greece. I just fine it ironic that the birthplace for Western democracy should become its latest graveyard.

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Antiquity is Destiny

Egypt:

Egypt’s military leaders issued a constitutional decree Sunday that gave the armed forces sweeping powers and degraded the presidency to a subservient role, as the Muslim Brotherhood declared that its candidate had won the country’s presidential runoff election.

The bold assertion of power by the ruling generals followed months in which they had promised to cede authority to a new civilian government by the end of June. Instead, activists and political analysts said, the generals’ move marked the start of a military dictatorship, a sharp reversal from the promise of Egypt’s popular revolt last year.

Faced with a choice between Hosni Mubarak’s ex-prime minister and an Islamist candidate, Egyptians entered their latest round of elections in an atmosphere of suspicion, resignation and worry.
Graphic

Key events leading up to the first presidential election since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

The declaration, published in the state gazette, had been expected, but its details indicate that the military has asserted far greater authority than observers had anticipated. Under the order, the president will have no control over the military’s budget or leadership and will not be authorized to declare war without the consent of the ruling generals.

Greece:

Two elections, two interim prime ministers and 221 days since Greece last had an elected government, Greek President Karolas Papoulias will ask the leader of the center-right New Democracy party Monday to try to hammer out a coalition.

The pro-bailout New Democracy party claimed “a victory for all Europe” after topping Sunday’s parliamentary elections, a vote seen as a referendum on the survival of the continent’s common currency.

New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras now finds himself facing a new round of coalition talks, six weeks after a previous election that failed to produce a government.

Sunday’s results were substantially similar to the results of the vote in May, which left no party able to cobble together a working majority government.

Mesopotamia:

The elusive quest for peace in Syria is now crippled with setbacks, as a U.N. observer mission has suspended operations and attempts to rescue civilians trapped in violence have proved futile.

Dozens of people were killed Monday, including “entire families trapped under rubble” when regime forces shelled the city of Douma, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.

“Nobody can rescue the victims because of the continuous shelling,” the group said.

Greece is spinning its wheels; Egypt is spinning its revolver cylinder; Syrians are spinning in their graves. Same [bleep], different millennium.

Isn’t any ancient civilization prospering?

Since you ask…

Israel’s Weekly Good News to 17th June 2012
In the 17th June 2012 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:

· Medical robots from an Israeli company have performed brain surgery on humans.
· Israel’s delegation to the Rio+20 summit has the answer to the world’s environment problems.
· The Israeli inventor of micro-irrigation has won the World Food Prize.
· An Israeli company has developed a process to generate energy from Aluminium (Aluminum)
· Natural gas has started flowing from one of Israel’s new gas fields – just in time for summer.
· Israel Opera staged Bizet’s Carmen at the magnificent Dead Sea fortress of Masada.

Hardly as dramatic as riots in the streets of the ancient cities of Athens, Cairo, and Damascus—but oh well.

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Today Souvlaki, Tomorrow Moussaka!

Have you been following the Golden Shower—sorry, Dawn, Golden Dawn—Party in Greece?

You’re missing something:

The Greek prosecutor’s office issued a warrant Thursday for the arrest of a well-known politician videotaped throwing a glass of water at a colleague and slapping another.

Ilias Kasidiaris of Greece’s far-right party Golden Dawn caused a national uproar with his actions during a popular morning television talk show. Police are looking for Kasidiaris, also the party’s spokesman, but no arrest has been reported.

Kasidiaris and other candidates appeared on ANT1 TV to discuss the June 17 elections.

Rena Dourou of the Coalition of the Radical Left, also known as Syriza, stated that Kasidiaris’ party would take Greece back 500 years, video shows. Kasidiaris is then seen tossing the water glass. But things did not end there.

When a candidate from the Communist Party of Greece, Liana Kanelli, stood and waved a newspaper toward Kasidiaris and told him to get out, things got worse. Kasidiaris responded by slapping Kanelli three times, ANT1 TV’s video shows.

Kanelli is a well-known former journalist and was a deputy in the Communist Party for many years.

Well then, clearly she had it coming.

From beating up Jews to beating up girls—must be in the Nazi DNA. I’ve been comparing the Greek Nazis to the German Nazis along the lines of Karl Marx’s old line that history repeats itself, first as history, second as farce. But ol’ Karl and I are wrong: it repeats as Jerry Springer.

They’re clowns, but I hope none of you is laughing.

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European History

I’m sorry to lean on my main man, Karl Marx, so frequently, but he did get a few things right:

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

Two newly elected Greek MPs from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party were among six people briefly detained after an attack on a Pakistani immigrant, a police source said, according to the Agence France Presse (AFP).

The two lawmakers, Ilias Panagiotaros and Ioannis Vouldis, as well as leader Nikos Michaloliakos’s daughter, were taken into custody but released shortly after due to a lack of evidence after the incident in Athens late Friday, according to the source.

The 31-year-old Pakistani man was assaulted by a group in helmets taking part in a motorbike demonstration “that started off from the headquarters of a political party,” police said in a statement.

The Golden Dawn Party, known for its unabashed anti-Semitism and anti-foreigner platform, won 7 percent of the vote, receiving 21 seats in parliament, in the May 6 elections.

Michaloliakos has claimed that Nazi concentration camps did not use gas chambers to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust. As well, “Mein Kampf” is sold at party headquarters and the party’s symbol closely resembles a Nazi swastika.

That the Golden Shower—sorry, Dawn—party is an offshoot of Germany’s Nazis, while itself rebelling against German hegemony in Europe, is indeed farcical. Of course, even farce can cave a man’s skull in.

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Freedom for Myopia!

Exhibit ZZZ for why Mark Steyn is The Man:

The Eurovision Song Contest doesn’t get a lot of attention in the United States, but on the Continent it’s long been seen as the perfect Euro-metaphor. Years before the euro came along, it was the prototype pan-European institution, and predicated on the same assumptions. Eurovision took the national cultures that produced Mozart, Vivaldi, and Debussy, and in return gave us “Boom-Bang-a-Bang” (winner, 1969), “Ding-Ding-a-Dong” (winner, 1975), and “Diggi-Loo-Diggi-Ley” (winner, 1984). The euro took the mark, the lira, and the franc, and merged them to create the “Boom-Bang-a-Bang” of currencies.

How will it all end? One recalls the 1990 Eurovision finals in Zagreb: “Yugoslavia is very much like an orchestra,” cooed the hostess, Helga Vlahovic. “The string section and the wood section all sit together.” Shortly thereafter, the wood section began ethnically cleansing the dressing rooms, while the string section rampaged through the brass section pillaging their instruments and severing their genitals. Indeed, the charming Miss Vlahovi? herself was forced into a sudden career shift and spent the next few years as Croatian TV’s head of “war information” programming.

Fortunately, no one remembers Yugoslavia. So today Europe itself is very much like an orchestra. The Greek fiddlers and the Italian wind players all sit together, playing cards in the dressing room, waiting for the German guy to show up with their checks. Just before last week’s Eurovision finale in Azerbaijan, the Daily Mail in London reported that the Spanish entrant, Pastora Soler, had been told to throw the competition “because the cash-strapped country can’t afford to host the lavish event next year,” as the winning nation is obliged to do. In a land where the youth unemployment rate is over 50 percent, and two-thirds of the country’s airports are under threat of closure, and whose neighbors (Britain) are drawing up plans for military intervention to evacuate their nationals in the event of total civic collapse, the pressing need to avoid winning the Eurovision Song Contest is still a poignant symbol of how total is Spain’s implosion. Ask not for whom “Ding-Ding-a-Dong” dings, it dings for thee.

It gets serious now, but let’s not bother with demographic death spirals and societal decline. Let’s just remember Helga Vlahovic as she was:

One hundred Greek grandparents have 42 Greek grandchildren. Is it likely that 42 Greeks can repay the debts run up by 100 Greeks? No wonder they’d rather stick it to the Germans. But the thriftier Germans have the same deathbed demographics. If 100 Germans resent having to pick up the check for an entire continent, is it likely 42 Germans will be able to do it?

Look around you. The late-20th-century Western lifestyle isn’t going to be around much longer. In a few years’ time, our children will look at old TV commercials showing retirees dancing, golfing, cruising away their sixties and seventies, and wonder what alternative universe that came from. In turn, their children will be amazed to discover that in the early 21st century the Western world thought it entirely normal that vast swathes of the citizenry should while away their youth enjoying what, a mere hundred years earlier, would have been the leisurely varsity of the younger son of a Mitteleuropean Grand Duke.

I was sad to learn that Helga Vlahovic died a few weeks ago, but her central metaphor all those years ago wasn’t wrong. Any functioning society is like an orchestra. When the parts don’t fit together, it’s always the other fellow who’s out of tune. So the Greeks will blame the Germans, and vice versa. But the developed world is all playing the same recessional. In the world after Western prosperity, we will work till we’re older and we will start younger — and we will despise those who thought they could defy not just the rules of economic gravity but the basic human life cycle.

Helga Vlahovic got while the getting was good.

PS: A little commentary of my own.

When the Permanent Student Class realizes the gravy train will never reach the depot (metaphor alert!), they react accordingly. No silly, not by getting a job! Not for them! Besides, their sainted Obama has seen that there aren’t any.

No, they take to (and sh*t in) the streets. The Occupy Movement is our version of Greek riots and French truck strikes. What do you mean I have to pay for my degree in transgender interpretive yodeling? You one-percent bastard! If the government’s skint, find a “millionaire or billionaire” to pay me my “fair share.”

The are contemptible, sure, but pitiable too. This is what they’ve been taught, after all. To come of age and learn the world really doesn’t give a damn about their unique and special talents must be a hard slap in the face indeed. Woozums.

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Greece Fire

Europe, Europe, Europe… maybe you need another continental conflict to settle your differences:

Leftist leader Alexis Tsipras gave up his attempt to form a new government on Wednesday, pushing Greece closer to its second election in a few weeks, after voter rejection of an EU/IMF bailout plunged the country into crisis.

Last Sunday’s election, in which voters vented rage against mainstream parties over debt cutting measures imposed in exchange for the bailout, has caused deep political deadlock and brought European threats to eject Greece from the euro.

Radical Left Coalition leader Tsipras, given the second mandate to try to form a government since the election, gave up after both mainstream parties, conservative New Democracy and Socialist PASOK, refused to join an anti-bailout coalition.

The biggest party, New Democracy, had already failed to form a workable coalition and the baton will now pass to PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.

The neo-Nazis are open to courting last I heard. Why won’t anyone talk to them?

Oh, that’s why:

Just weeks ago, the idea that Greece would leave the euro zone was almost unthinkable. Now, with Greece’s newly empowered political parties refusing to abide by the terms of the country’s international loan agreement and Europe’s leaders talking tough, that outcome is looking increasingly likely.

Germany’s devotion to the euro and the European Union runs extremely deep and cuts across the political spectrum. But the frustration with Greece here is undeniable. There is a growing conviction that it is up to Greece to follow through on its commitments, that Europe is done negotiating.

“Germans are now predominantly of the opinion that they would be better off if Greece left the euro zone,” said Carsten Hefeker, a professor of economics and an expert on the euro at the University of Siegen. “If the country really is continuing on the path they are taking now, it would be hard to justify keeping them in. How do you deal with a country that says we don’t want to keep any of the commitments we have made?”

No question why this man is gloating:

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My Big Fat Greek Fascists

And I thought the European elections meant a return to socialism.

Silly BTL:

Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn warned rivals and reformers Sunday that “the time for fear has come” after exit polls showed them securing their entry in parliament for the first time in nearly 40 years.

“The time for fear has come for those who betrayed this homeland,” Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos told a news conference at an Athens hotel, flanked by menacing shaven-headed young men.

“We are coming,” the 55-year-old said as supporters threw firecrackers outside.

According to updated exit polls, the once-marginal party will end up winning over six percent of the vote and sending 19 deputies to the 300-seat parliament on a wave of immigration and crime fears, as well as anti-austerity anger.

Exulting in the apparent breakthrough, Michaloliakos quoted Julius Caesar: “Veni, Vidi, Vici” — I came, I saw, I conquered.

Michaloliakos said his party would fight against “world usurers” and the “slavery” of an EU-IMF loan agreement which he likened to a “dictatorship”.

“Greece is only the beginning,” he shouted at reporters….

Oh Europe, again? Today Santorini, tomorrow Mykonos and Lesbos! Maybe you should turn into Eurabia after all. You might behave yourself under a Caliphate.

Who do you think the Golden Shower party means by “world usurers”, by the way? One has one’s suspicions, doesn’t one?

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