Damian Mac Con Uladh

Archive for October, 2014|Monthly archive page

Unicef: Greece suffers ‘great leap backwards’ in child poverty

In Greece on 29 October 2014 at 11:09 am
(Graphic: Unicef)

(Graphic: Unicef)

Child poverty rates have more than doubled in Greece since 2008, affecting two in every five children, the UN’s child agency has said, in a report that underlines the negative impact of austerity measures on children, particularly in the Mediterranean region..

A report (pdf) issued on October 28, as thousands of children were taking part in school parades across Greece, Unicef found that 40.5% of children in Greece were living households were income is below the poverty line in 2012, the highest rate in world’s 41 most affluent countries.

Unicef said that 2.6m children have sunk below the poverty line in these countries since 2008, bringing the total number of children in the “developed” world living in poverty to an estimated 76.5m.

In 23 of the 41 countries analysed, child poverty has increased since 2008, with Iceland experiencing the greatest jump, followed by Greece, Latvia, Croatia and Ireland, where the difference was more than 50% on pre-crisis levels.

In Greece’s case, the child poverty rate jumped 17.5 points, from 23% in 2008 to 40.5% in 2012. The country also witnessed a trebling in the proportion of children who are income poor and severely deprived.

The report said that in Greece and Spain, poor children were further below the poverty line in 2013 than they were in 2008. Children in migrant households were more adversely affected, with poverty rates increasing by 35 percentage points compared with 15 percentage points for all other children.

The report also found that the 2012 median Greek household incomes for families with children sank to 1998 levels – the equivalent of a loss of 14 years of income progress. In real terms, that meant that the since 2008, the percentage of households with children unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish (or a vegetable equivalent) every second day increased by 18% Greece in 2012.

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Urgent appeal for donations to help traffic accident victim (9)

In Greece on 23 October 2014 at 12:39 pm


The family of a young boy who suffered life-threatening injuries in a hit-and-run incident on a central Athens boulevard over two years ago has issued an urgent appeal to raise the necessary funds for specialised operations that would help him speak and feed himself again.

On 12 July 2012, David Maciorowski, who is now nine, his twin sister and his mother were razed down while walking on Patision Avenue by a motorcyclist, a permanent non-commissioned Greek Navy officer, who fled the scene before turning himself in a few hours later, at the urging of his father.

The 21-year-old, who ran a red light, had also injured a cyclist prior to ramming into the twins and their mother.

Among his serious injuries, David suffered severe damage in his mouth cavity leaving him unable to speak or feed himself properly. He is missing a substantial piece of bone in his buccal cavity and is in need of continuous and painful surgeries that have been delayed.

The first major surgical intervention was undertaken in July, thanks to the voluntary efforts of a surgeon and donations from members of the public. However, the family needs at least €20,000 to cover the cost of the other specialised operations, such as a bone transplant to the jaw, that would allow David speak again and lead a normal life.

According to reports, since the accident the Maciorowski family has received no assistance from the state nor from the family of the motorcyclist, who was released on bail after surrendering himself to police.

He was due to appear on criminal charges before a naval court martial last May, but the hearing was cancelled due to the elections held in that same month. A date for the civil case has yet to be scheduled.

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Trial over 2012 torture of Egyptian bakery worker postponed again by Greek court

In Greece on 22 October 2014 at 10:22 am
Waled Taleb waits to testify to an examining magistrate in Piraeus courthouse on November 9 (Photo: Eirini Vourloumis)

Waled Taleb waits to testify to an examining magistrate in Piraeus courthouse on November 9 (Photo: Eirini Vourloumis)

The trial of a baker, his son and two accomplices accused of torturing an Egyptian worker on the island of Salamina in November 2012 was postponed for the fifth time at a Piraeus court on Tuesday.

Judges at Piraeus criminal appeals court rescheduled the trial to 10 March 2015 after the court-appointed interpreter failed to show up, citing “personal reasons”.

On 4 November 2012, Walid Taleb, then 29, was found beaten black and blue on a village street on the island. He had a ring and chain around his neck. He accused his employer, his son and two accomplices of chaining him up and torturing him for 18 hours in a stable.

The four defendants are charged with abduction, robbery, inflicting unprovoked bodily harm and offending sexual dignity.

“‘You will die here and here you will be buried.’ The son told me that his father had a gun and that he would kill me,” Walid told this reporter after his ordeal. He added that he was certain he would never leave the stable alive.

Walid Taleb was found beaten on a street in Salamina on 4 November 2012

Walid Taleb was found beaten on a street in Salamina on 4 November 2012

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A parent’s worst nightmare on Kos

In Greece on 21 October 2014 at 12:28 pm
Loukas didn't get the 'care he deserved', says his mother Sarah Spanos (Photo: Sarah Spanos/Facebook)

Loukas didn’t get the ‘care he deserved’, says his mother Sarah Spanos (Photo: Sarah Spanos/Facebook)

The mother of a toddler from the island of Kos who died en route to hospital in Athens earlier this month after suddenly falling ill hours before has blamed the “terrible standard of healthcare” on the island for his unexpected death.

Sarah Spanos, originally from the UK, believes her “very happy healthy little boy” Loukas, who was only 18 months when he died, didn’t get the care he deserved on the Dodecanese island, where the local hospital has been without a paediatrician for four years, leaving parents to rely on local private doctors. In recent years, islanders have repeatedly highlighted the effects of austerity cuts on public healthcare on the island, said to be the birthplace of Hippocrates, leaving the local hospital understaffed.

Loukas was pronounced dead at around 5.30am on October 4 in an Athens hospital, 14 hours after his mother noticed that he had a temperature.

“Every detail of that night will haunt us forever,” says Sarah, who eight years ago moved from the UK to Kos after meeting her husband Dimitris, whom she married four years later.

Deeply concerned for the wellbeing of their other son, they have now decided to return to the UK as a result of losing Loukas. “Our life has been destroyed. We must leave our family, our home, everything we love to keep our remaining child safe,” she says.

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Youth vote for Golden Dawn for racist/supremacist reasons, study finds

In Greece on 20 October 2014 at 12:19 pm
Golden Dawn has also been targeting future voters, as this photograph shows

Golden Dawn has also been targeting future voters, as this photograph shows

Young people who voted for Golden Dawn in 2012 did so out of ideological conviction and not for reasons stemming from the economic crisis, a new study from a leading Athens university shows.

Conducted by researchers at the Panteion University, the study also found that the level of identification among Golden Dawn’s young voters with its aims was higher than for youth who backed other parties. These voters generally view Golden Dawn as a “nationalist party”, rejecting as “despicable” its description as “fascist” or “neonazi” even though they recognise that there are ideological affinities between it and fascism.

For them, Golden Dawn is a “patriotic-nationalist” party, which “puts the Greeks above everything else”. The almost total identification with the party’s “nationalist” ideology, expressed through the pride these young voters feel as Greeks pride, stems from the belief that Greeks are superior to other people historically and culturally.

“When we had civilisation, others were living in trees,” one male voter aged 24 told the researchers, repeating a phrase often found in Golden Dawn’s “theoretical” texts.

In the June 2012 elections, Golden Dawn was the second most popular party in the 18–34 age group.

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All Golden Dawn MPs should face criminal trial, prosecutor recommends

In Greece on 17 October 2014 at 10:28 am

All 18 MPs elected with the neonazi Golden Dawn party in 2012 should stand trial for membership of a criminal organisation, a prosecutor said on Thursday, in a massive 698-page report submitted to judges.

In total, prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos, who is handling the Golden Dawn case, recommended that 67 out of a total of 81 people accused in the case be indicted on criminal charges. As one of the accused was underage at the time, he should face the juvenile court.

Of the remaining 14 people, Dogiakos said there was insufficient evidence against nine of them but that three should face misdemeanour charges.

“A party that seeks to achieve its goals through the use of physical or armed force is not legal,” Dogiakos said in his report, stressing that the courts have the right to judge a political party as a criminal organisation.

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Countdown to free wifi nationwide in Greece begins

In Greece on 16 October 2014 at 11:50 am
Images like this replacing the flame with a wifi signal in New Democracy's old logo appeared on social media following Antonis Samaras' 2013 promise

Images like this replacing the flame with a wifi signal in New Democracy’s old logo appeared on social media following Antonis Samaras’ 2013 promise

It was 4 November 2013. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had granted a rare media interview and was clear and emphatic when asked by his interlocutor, Mega TV’s Yiannis Pretenteris, “what hope could the government give to young people?”

“Today, I can promise that we will have in Greece free wireless wifi internet, in all of Greece, in a year,” Samaras said.

When Pretenteris interjected to tell Samaras that he would need to follow through on this, Samaras replied confidently that he wouldn’t have said it if he couldn’t do it.

“It will happen! And I’ve looked into it, in order to say it,” he added.

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Greece’s heavily indebted coalition parties move to ringfence state funding from seizure

In Greece on 16 October 2014 at 10:29 am
The maths. 2013: New Democracy +Pasok = €270m

Debt to democracy: “2013: New Democracy +Pasok = €270m” (Screengrab from a video on party debt produced by the Drasi party)

Coalition parties New Democracy and Pasok, which combined owe over €270m to the country’s banks, on Wednesday successfully tabled an amendment that will ringfence 40% of state funding to political parties from seizure.

In a last-minute intervention, the heavily indebted parties introduced the amendment to a draft bill on political funding on the grounds that it was to safeguard the “minimum guaranteed revenue for and the sustainability of parties”.

The opposition voted against the amendment, arguing that it was specifically tailored to serve the needs of the heavily indebted coalition parties. However, none of the opposition parties called for a roll-call vote on the amendment.

In recent years, Pasok’s and New Democracy’s debts have left both parties struggling to pay their employees’ wages and social insurance, rent and other bills. Given its plummeting political fortunes in recent years, Pasok by far faces the greatest problems as its state financing has decreased accordingly.

The move by the ruling parties to protect a significant portion of state funding from possible seizure is being widely viewed within the context of the strong possibility of snap elections between now and spring.

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New film follows the transformation of the Agora from democracy to the market

In Greece, Greek crisis on 15 October 2014 at 1:56 pm


A hard-hitting documentary about the Greek crisis will have its world premiere world premiere on November 9 at the upcoming Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival (CPH:DOX), which runs from 6–16 November 2014.

Entitled Agorá, the 90-minute film is by award-winning Greek journalist and filmmaker Yorgos Avgeropoulos, who created the successful Exandas documentary series that ran on ERT public television until the station’s closure by the coalition government in June 2013.

AGORA – From Democracy to the Market [Trailer] from Small Planet Productions on Vimeo.

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Family of murdered Golden Dawn member demand party stop using his image

In Greece on 15 October 2014 at 10:44 am


The family of one of two Golden Dawn members who were shot dead in a gun attack last year is seeking a court injunction to ban the neonazi party from using his name image for political purposes.

Manos Kapelonis, 22, and Yiorgos Fountoulis, 26, were standing outside a Golden Dawn branch office in the northern Athens suburb of Neo Iraklio when a masked man opened fire, killing one on them instantly and leaving the other fatally wounded. A third man was injured in the 1 November 2013 attack.

Accoring to a report in Ethnos newspaper, Kapelonis’ parents and sister have now asked Athens first instance court to prohibit Golden Dawn from using their dead son’s name and image for political purposes, which they say is “absolutely incompatible with the nature of his beliefs and ideals and is offensive to his personality”.

The case is due to be heard on 23 November. On Tuesday, the court officials rejected to give the family a temporary injunction banning the party from using Kapelonis name and image until the case comes before court.

Since the killing, Golden Dawn has erected banners depicting Kapelonis and Fountoulis on party offices across the country as well as on a roadside billboard on highway south of Athens. Their faces also appear as backdrops in Golden Dawn televised broadcasts. Kapelonis’ family says that these giant images of their deceased loved one, which they see regularly, causes them immense emotional pain.

In May, Lampros Fountoulis, the father of Yiorgos Fountoulis, the other victim of the attack, was elected an MEP for Golden Dawn.

Two weeks after the double murder, a group styling itself as the Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces claimed responsibility for the attack, for which no one has been arrested.