Damian Mac Con Uladh

Archive for September, 2014|Monthly archive page

Greece is the only EU country without guaranteed minimum income, report finds

In General, Greek crisis on 26 September 2014 at 10:36 am
poverty is the parent of revolution and crime

‘Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime’ – Aristotle. Graffiti in the Exarchia district of Athens (Photo: aestheticsofcrisis/Flickr)

Greece is the only EU country not to have implemented a guaranteed minimum income and is among the most sluggish in adopting programmes to address social inequality and aid citizens living in extreme poverty and social exclusion, a new report from the Parliamentary Budget Office (GPK) has found.

This is despite the fact that six in ten citizens are living in or at risk of poverty, the GPK report (pdf), which was published on Thursday, said.

“The demand for social responsibility on the part of citizens is pronounced but what the state offers is characterised by fragmentation and administrative problems. Thus the social safety net is characterised by inefficiency, while at the same time there is are no expectations that income lost due to the economic downturn will be replenished in the near future,” the report stated.

The government has said that, this month, a new €20m, six-month pilot programme will begin in 13 municipalities which will provide what it says is a minimum income. Monthly payments will range from €200 a month for a single person on no income to €400 for a married couple with two underage children with no other earnings.

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Vassilis Paleokostas: Greece’s Robin Hood?

In General on 25 September 2014 at 10:27 am


It certainly is the stuff of movies and now that an extensive and gripping feature article detailing his life, bank-robbing and kidnapping exploits and two helicopter prison escapes has appeared on the BBC, fugitive Vassilis Paleokostas (48) could certainly expect that someday his fascinating story could make it to the silver screen.

Researched and written by Los Angeles-based British journalist Jeff Maysh over many months, The Uncatchable takes an immersive approach to explain the biography of a man dubbed Greece’s Robin Hood, because of his legendary habit of distributing the proceeds of his crimes to people in need: from poor farmers, girls needing dowries and migrants.

For the article, Maysh spoke to many people who know Paleokostas, including his father, Leonidas, and Costas Samaras, aka the Artist, who was a mentor to the young Paleokostas and his brother. Alket Rizai, the Albanian hitman who fled with Paleokostas in the second helicopter escape, also spoke to Maysh from his prison cell.

The Trikala-born brigand, who remains at large, would certainly take great pleasure if a movie ever materialised, considering his life-long love for action movies, a passion that developed when his family moved down from the mountains in the 1970s and got electricity for the first time. Indeed, when police swooped in on him in 2008, they found a DVD of Ransom and the Al Pacino movie Heat, about two veteran bank robbers evading the cops.

Golden Dawn figures jailed for attempted murder

In General on 23 September 2014 at 10:38 am
Golden Dawn members outside the migrant detention centre in Corinth. Inset: Vasilis Siatounis (Photo: Ethnos.gr)

Golden Dawn members outside the migrant detention centre in Corinth in 2012. Inset: Vasilis Siatounis (Photo: Ethnos.gr)

An Athens court on Monday handed a former member of Golden Dawn’s central committee and local election candidate for the neonazi party a 11½-year prison sentence after it found him and an accomplice guilty of attempted murder and the possession and use of weapons.

The Athens mixed jury court found Vasilis Siatounis and Athanasios Stratos guilty of participating in a gang attack on the Antipnoia anarchist space in Kato Petralona on 30 June 2008, in which a Greek and a Spanish national were stabbed. Stratos received a 13½-year prison sentence for his role in the attack.

Four people were attending a Spanish language course at the centre, when a man wearing a helmet entered the room yelling “Greetings from Golden Dawn! You’re going to die, w*nkers!” He was followed by a group of 10-15 people holding knives and batons, who, following orders, set about attacking those inside, wounding two people, one of them seriously. According to the prosecutor, the room was left “covered in blood and unrecognisable” after the “cowardly invasion”.

Identifying Stratos as his assailant, one of the victims said he was hit on the head with a chair and was stabbed in the knee and buttocks. He subsequently spent 20 days in hospital and required eight blood transfusions.

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Video shows Golden Dawn’s No 2 teaching children to chant ‘Heil Hitler!’

In General on 22 September 2014 at 10:45 am
Photographs showing a younger Christos Pappas giving a Nazi salute against a Nazi flag backdop surfaced last October. Now a video has emerged of him showing young children how to give fascist salutes (Photo: Ethnos.gr)

Photographs showing a younger Christos Pappas giving a Nazi salute against a Nazi flag backdop surfaced last October. Now a video has emerged of him showing young children how to give fascist salutes (Photo: Ethnos.gr)

The deputy leader of neonazi Golden Dawn instructed young children on how to chant “Heil Hitler” and give the Nazi salute, according to a video recording made public by a leading Sunday newspaper.

In the video clip, published by Kathimerini, Christos Pappas can be heard encouraging a young boy, dressed in a traditional Greek costume and wearing a swastika armband, to say “Heil Hitler” while holding a small Nazi flag.

When the boy does as he is told, Pappas praises him by saying: “Well done, my brave man. Well done, my boy!”

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Samaras’ righthand man used SMS to tell Golden Dawn MPs how to vote

In General on 19 September 2014 at 10:15 am
Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris (L) and former cabinet secretary and close Samaras aide Takis Baltakos (Photo: Star.gr)

Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris (L) and former cabinet secretary and close Samaras aide Takis Baltakos (Photo: Star.gr)

Takis Baltakos, former cabinet secretary and right-hand man of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, maintained direct lines of communication with Golden Dawn, even to the point of instructing the neonazi party on how to vote in parliament and congratulating its MPs for their rowdy behaviour, a daily newspaper has revealed.

Baltakos was forced to resign in April after a video surfaced showing him engaged in what appeared to be a friendly conversation, in his parliamentary office, with leading Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris.

While Baltakos admitted to having “coincidental meetings” with Golden Dawn figures, a series of reports published in the Efimerida ton Syntakton (Efsyn) daily on Thursday and Friday show this interaction was “not limited to social contact and gossip”, according to Efsyn journalist Dimitris Psarras, who has authored a number of books on Golden Dawn.

He said Baltakos sent messages, via a conduit, to Kasidiaris advising him on how Golden Dawn MPs should vote on issues which were dividing the then three-way coalition between New Democracy, Pasok and Democratic Left.

Baltakos relayed his messages via Theodoros Zoubos, a research assistant in Kasidiaris’ parliamentary office. One message, sent by Zoubos to Kasidiaris on 5 February 2013, read: “Takis Michalolias and Takis Baltakos have just been to the office.”

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Irish films at this year’s Athens International Film Festival

In General, Greece and Ireland on 19 September 2014 at 10:00 am


Three Irish films feature in this year’s Athens International Film Festival, the 20th in the series.

They are Gold, a feature comedy directed by Niall Heery, psychological horror The Canal, directed by Ivan Kavanagh, and a documentary short, The Last Days of Peter Bergmann, directed by Ciaran Cassidy (Official Selection Sundance Film Festival).

On Friday 19 September at 7.30pm in the Odeon Opera cinema (Akadimias 57, Athens), there will be a bumper screening of two of the films, Gold and The Last Days of Peter Bergmann.

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Greece comes last in EU social justice index

In General, Greek crisis on 16 September 2014 at 10:34 am
An image from the report's cover

An image from the report’s cover

A report that found that Greece ranks last among the EU’s 28 members in terms of social justice has urged the government to do more to concentrate its efforts not only on returning to a stable path of growth, but also on improving participation opportunities for a broader portion of the population.

Published by the German Bertelsmann Foundation, the report (pdf) said while Greece, along with Spain and Italy, has a comparably high GDP per capita, it performed “far worse” in the social justice index rankings, which measures performance in poverty prevention, access to education, access to the labour market, social cohesion, non-discrimination, health and intergenerational equity.

“Greece is at the bottom of the ranking with a youth unemployment rate of nearly 60%, a rapid increase in the risk of poverty, particularly among children and youth, a health care system badly undermined by austerity measures, discrimination against minorities as a result of strengthened radical political forces, and an enormous mountain of debt that represents a mortgage on the future of coming generations,” the report found.

“The resulting diminution of prospects for broad swathes of society represents a significant danger to the country’s political and social stability. These developments illustrate that the cuts induced by the crisis are not administered in a balanced way throughout the population,” it noted.

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Government interference cited as state TV chairman and deputy resign

In General on 12 September 2014 at 9:51 am


Nerit, the new state broadcaster that the Greek government set up to replace what it said was its corrupt and wasteful predecessor ERT, has been plunged into another crisis following the resignations of its two top executives, which the main opposition claims is a result of the political interference at the station.

Nerit chairman and CEO Antonis Makrydimitris stepped down on Thursday, along with his deputy Rudolph Moronis, only four months after Nerit’s first chairman, George Prokopakis, was replaced two days after the station went on air.

In a message posted to Facebook some hours before his resignation, Moronis gave strong indications that Nerit’s independence was being compromised.

“If you declare that you want to create something independent, impartial and of good quality but you don’t mean it, don’t assign the job to someone who does,” he wrote.

Speaking to the TheToc.gr news site, Moronis added: “According to the prevalent opinion as I see it, it [Nerit] will neither be an independent nor quality broadcaster. And I have no reason to try in vain.”

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Filming The Road to Sparta

In Uncategorized on 11 September 2014 at 11:50 am


The past and present of an ancient race dating back to 490BC is the subject of a new short film whose makers are seeking €15,000 in crowdfunding to get from the road to the silver screen.

The Road To Sparta is about four individuals, including the great ultra-endurance runner Dean Karnazes, running the 2014 Spartathlon, a 246km ultramarathon between Athens and Sparta.

Today’s Spartathlon runners are following in the path of Pheidippides, the runner sent by the Athenians to Sparta in 490BC in a bid to raise reinforcements to fight the mighty Persian army in what was to be the Battle of Marathon.

According to the historian Herodotus, he arrived in Sparta “the next day”. In 1982, an RAF officer, John Foden, set out to see if that was possible. After he and two colleagues succeeded, the Spartathlon was born the following year.

The race starts at 7am at the foot of the Acropolis and passes through Elefsina, Megara, Kineta and Corinth, on its way towards the most historic of destinations in Sparta: the feet of the statue of Leonidas, the Spartan leader who found immortality with the 300 at Thermopylae ten years after the Battle of Marathon.

The brainchild of journalist Barney Spender, the 30-minute film will not be a straightforward sports documentary “but more of an artumentary where sport meets history meets music, a film of brain, brawn and beauty”.

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Same old shit

In Uncategorized on 9 September 2014 at 11:45 am

Kostas Kallergis on the depressing and stupefying spectacle that is Nerit, the new Greek state broadcaster that replaced what the New Democracy/Pasok coalition claimed was “a symbol of corruption and waste”. Well, one year one, Nerit is a thousand times worse than ERT and the same old hiring policies are continuing.

When the Crisis hit the Fan

Lots of you have asked me why I haven’t been writing any more in the past three or four (or five?) months of this blog’s hibernation. My answer is “same old shit”. Like this one.

It’s been a bit more than a year since the government decided to suddenly close down ERT, the public broadcaster. One of the main arguments was that the government wanted to create something new, a new broadcaster without the political dependencies of the past. Today they have proved (once more) what a big fat lie that was. So here’s the story.

There’s this journalist and anchorman called Nikos Evaggelatos. NERIT, which is the brave new sister of the old corrupt ERT, announced today that it’s hiring him for a news show. Credible Typologies blog wrote that initially NERIT’s BoD was a bit wary of the deal because (wait for it…) New Democracy approved him but…

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