Athens: three metro stations closed due to protests Dec 6/2013

December 6, 2013

Police ordered the closure of three metro stations as early as 10 o’clock Friday morning due to demonstrations that will take place in order to commemorate the killing of teenager boy Alexanros Grigoropoulos by a policeman in 2008.

Metro stations <Syntagma>, <Panepistimio> and <Evaggelismos> are closed to passengers as of 10 pm and will open again most probably late at night.

School students will launch a protest at 11 am outside the Athens University in Panepistimiou Avenue. Another demonstration with march to the Greek Parliament will be launched at 6 p.m. at the same starting point.

Greek media report of the high possibility that more metro stations will be closed in the afternoon.

When metro stations are closed, wagons just pass through but passengers are not allowed to get off or in.

 

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Lobster and Crabs: Barroso hosts exquisite luncheon in honor of Samaras

December 5, 2013

Don’t be irritated by this provocative title served in an aura of flat populism and exquisite envy.  The President of European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, did not put a whole lobster on the plate in front of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

The delicate bites of lobster were methodically paired together with delicate scallops and fresh ricotta cheese inside baked  canelloni. Neither did a bunch of crabs land together with elegant crab knackers on the festive decorated table in the headquarters of European Commission.  Crab flesh was reportedly tender venture to the main course of  turbot fish in the aromatic company of truffle.

The dessert was rather modest, most likely in the sense to fit in the austerity policies of Brussels: a  light strawberry sorbet to cool the gourmet palate and fine choux dough eclairs filled with indulgent cream of passion fruit.

In the splendid atmosphere of Berleymont Building,  the elegant luncheon was served to honor the Greek and debt-ridden prime minister, who had flown to Brussels on Wednesday.

The report about the menu content was published in daily Ta Nea (via Real.gr), where the columnist notes: “Among others, I have to admit that those in Berleymont have no crabs in their pockets,” meaning the EC is not stingy…

2 in 10 Greek employees earn below €500, 1:3 Greeks live in poverty

December 5, 2013

Two statistics reports shed light into the economic situation of Greeks. One report published by the Greek Labor Ministry says that 2 out of 0 Greeks earn less than 500 euro per month. The second report published by EUROSTAT says that 3 out of 10 Greeks live below the poverty line and that the situation worse than in Greece is in Romania, Bulgaria and Latvia.

According to data about employment in Greece collected by the information system ERGANI the country’s private sector employes currently 1,371,450 people. In comparison 2,800,000 people were employed and insured at IKA social security fund for private sector employees before the crisis.

Two out of ten Greeks workers, ie 279,776 people receive a monthly salary below 500 euros per while 160,000 employees earn monthly salary between 1,000 and 1,500 euro.

79,76 % ( 1,091,674 ) received over 500 euros.

From this,  7.61 % earn 500-600 euros and

32.21 % earns 1000-1200 euro.*.

According to ERGANI, 20,24 % of employees work part time or on job rotation .

Now I will tell you how part time job looks in Greece now a days:

A part-time job can be 6 hours x 6 days per week = 36 hours per week, when full time job is considered to be 40 hours per week.

A part-time salary can be 250-300 euro, but it can be also 700 euro gross or more, depending on employer and skills.

Let’s say you get a part-time job for 750 euro gross. You will receive 550-600 euro net. For a basic apartment of 50 sqm you will pay 300 euro for rent.

If your partner is jobless or you live alone, or you live with a child or a parent… how you will spend the rest of your salary to pay for food, toiletries, telephone, water, electricity and heating … is  just history…”

As for the Eurostat report exploring poverty in European union,

23.5% of the Greek population lives in poverty

19.5% lives in needy condition

14.1%  lives in a family faced with the risk of unemployment.

In Romania, Bulgaria and Latvia poverty is some 40%.

According to Eurostat

“Poor” is someone, when income is below 60% of median national income.

“Living in need” means one is deprived of basic consumer goods.

In the utopian world of statistics, the European Union, “poor” is considered someone with less than 6,000 euro annual income. In the real world of Greeks, the Finance Ministry imposes taxes also to those with income below the 6,000 euro, an income tax based on fictitious criteria.

Now either the EU should revise the description of “poor” or the Greek Finance Ministry and the Troika – i.e. Greece’s lenders including the EU should consider to tax the real rich.

* should we assume that the rest earns more than 1,200 euro gross in Greece’s public sector nowadays? Or is this statistics similar to the pension statistics in the private sector, when the majority gets  900 euro per month one the paper, while the majority people like you and me know receives 500-600 euro pension?

Possible is also that the Ministry includes in this statistics  also the salaries of employees in the utility companies (Power, water etc), who normally receive salary levels or public sector and even more. But that’s the Greek statistics as everyone know…

PS Be patient! “Growth will come in 2014,” said PM Samaras on Wednesday.

The tragedy behind… jobless family almost burned in home without electricity

December 5, 2013

A fire broke out in the home of a jobless family of four living without electricity for two years. The 5-year-old child of the family and the grandmother were taken to hospital due to respiratory problems, the parents have reportedly suffered minor burns. It is not clear whether the blaze was due to candles or a make-shift stove.

The fire broke out short after 4 o’clock on Thursday morning in Kordelio suburb of Thessaloniki in Northern Greece. The smoke apparently woke up the family that managed to get out of home in time, escaping the worst. Fire brigades managed to extinguish the fire, while all four residents were taken to the hospital. The home was almost completely destroyed.

Electricity box without power consumption counter…

The fire reportedly broke out either from a make-shift stove or from candles, because the house had no electricity for at least two years, according to a statement by the major of Evosmos. Efstahios Lazaridis who stressed that some 700 families in his area have similar problems with power cut due to economic difficulties.

Greek media report, that the family was in dire economic situation living on meals from the Church and municipality soup kitchens. The family with origins in former Sowjetunion had no other income except for the child allowance of 40 euro per month, the grandmother told reporters.

“My children woke me up and we got out of the home,” the grandmother said. she added that neither her son nor his wife had a job.

“They had food Monday to Friday, but on weekends they had nothing to eat,” the landlord  told media. The family had not pay the rent of 150 euro per month for the last two years, neither the water bill. “I could not pay for their electricity too, so I went to Power Company and had the power cut,” the landlord said.

Neighbors claim that the parents were drug addicted.

In the heat of frustration and anger, the father armed with a knife tried to attack journalists covering the news outside the burned home. The father was detained and charges are to be brought against him for violating the “weapons law”.

The municipality Social Welfare will offer shelter to the boy and the grandmother.

Evosmos major, Efstathios Lazaridis stressed that some 700 families in his area have similar problems with power cut due to economic difficulties.

Speaking to private Skai TV residents stressed the tragic circumstances for many families in Kordelio-Evosmos municipality with 100,000 people. Almost 50% were without job and in Evosmos 800 families were without electricity. (nonewsnewsblogspotzougla.gr, newsit.gr, protothema.gr, ).

The tragedy in Kordelio occurred a week after 13-year-old Sara died of carbon monoxide poisoning after her mother had made fire in a make-shift stove so they could warm in a home without electricity.

According to Fire Brigades records, 65 people lost their life 2008-2013 (January) in Greece due to “alternative heating means” like fireplace, heating-oil, wood and gas stoves or make-shift stoves.

Theater play writer Vaggelis Leivadas, 90, was burned to death in November 2011 when an electric heater was turned over.

Annual heating cost for apartment 90-100 sqm in Athens:

natural gas 1,000 euro

heating oil 1,600 euro

Stand December 2013

source: zougla.gr

considering as minimum heating period December-February, it’s difficult for jobless households to find extra 300 euro to heat their homes.

With exorbitant prices for heating oil and natural gas – prices 30-40% higher than in the rest of Europe – many households cannot afford safe heating means and do whatever they can in order to sit at home without freezing feet and running nose.

 

 

 

 

Greek Ferry sailing in rough sea (video)

December 5, 2013

Where is this ferry sailing to  when the wind is blowing with intensity of 8 Beaufort? Blue Star “Ithaki” with 400 passengers sailing in the Aegean Sea between the island of Mykonos kai Tinos on Wednesday morning…

 

Standing in the cold for a bag of free food…

December 3, 2013

the picture is familiar. We saw hands raised to get a bag of free distributed vegetables and fruits two years. In Greece of deep recession and strict austerity measures the needs of people keep growing in alarming levels. People put their dignity aside and rush to get some free food.

Ελλάδα 2013: Χέρια απλωμένα για μια σακούλα τρόφιμα... VIDEO

This morning outside the Social Grocery in Kallithea suburb of south Athens. A large crowd of people in need awaits in the cold to get a paper with a number in order to get a bag of free food.

The people were much more than the organizers expected.

Oh! that’s Greece in December 2013.

CoE Commissioner Muiznieks: EU & Troika impose austerity measures without considering human rights

December 3, 2013

Finally! Someone from a European something-insitution decided top take up the issue “Austerity measures and Human Rights.” In a multi-page report, Nils Muiznieks, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe stresses that people, especially children are the victims in the altar of austerity measures and criticizes the European Union and the international lenders for composing bailout programs and loan agreements without taking into consideration the human factor and the protection of basic human rights for social protection, health and education.

Nils Muiznieks criticizes many of the European governments that imposed austerity measures that “they have forgotten their obligations to respect human rights, and particularly to protect the social and economic rights of the most vulnerable groups of the population . ”
At the same time, the commissioner denounces the behavior of international lenders stressing that they “failed to include the issues of human rights protection in many of the assistance programs implemented in European countries.”

In the research work of the Commission, which refers to the impact of its implementation of austerity measures on human rights, Muiznieks underlines also that

“national decisions on austerity measures and international bailouts lack transparency, public participation and democratic accountability. In some cases the onerous conditions prevented governments to invest in key programs of social protection , health and education.”

Muiznieks blames the EU -as a key factor to address the crisis and take decisions in economic governance – and the Troika for putting down conditions for bailouts and loan agreements without taking into account the impact of austerity measures on human rights.

“They should have had better take into account the impact of austerity measures on human rights, ” he emphasizes.

He describes the devastating consequences of the implementation of austerity measures on vulnerable population groups, especially children and young people.

” Youth unemployment in Europe has reached record levels,  while millions of families are suffering the consequences of the cuts to children’s aids and family benefits , health care and education.

The number of children who leave school to find work and support their families is increasing, thus creating the conditions of reappear of exploitation of child labor.”

The Commissioner stresses the urgent need to revitalize the European social model , which should be based on the foundations of human dignity , solidarity between generations and access to justice for all.

“Governments should make it a priority to reduce youth unemployment and to defend the social protection of long-term unemployed during the crisis,” concludes Commissioner Nils Muiznieks . (via protothema in GR and @Nils Muiznieks )

BTW: The CoE Commissioner seems to be unaware of the fact that the IMF strikes the health care first of all in order to get rid of the vulnerable. That’s traditional practices.

Οn 1. December 2013, Sara died from carbon monoxide poisoning when her mother put fire on a brazier so that the two could warm up in an apartment without electricity due to unemployment and debts in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece. Sara was only 13 years old.

PS Fine and good is Muiznieks’ report to finally talk about the things we have been talking about since three years. But I still have to ask him: “And?”

 

 

Athens: screams, faints and tear gas in school guards protest

December 3, 2013

Screams, fainting, detentions and fury spraying with tear gas were the elements of unbelievable scenes outside the Ministry for Public Administration Reform in downtown Athens. Laid-off school guards had gathered to protest being left without work.

Riot police repelled with force the school guards and made extensive use of tear gas. Two women protesters fainted.

Earlier police had detained 9 protesters who had managed to enter the ministry building.

There are claims that riot police also attacked reporters and photo-reporters. In other media, it has been reported that riot police hindered journalists.

Protesters were reportedly not more than 70 people of all ages.

Η ώρα της προσαγωγής του πανό ΦΩΤΟ NEWSIT

At the end a total of 13 protesters were detained, but also a …banner!

Ανοικτή η Βασ. Σοφίας μετά τη διαμαρτυρία των σχολικών φυλάκων

 

 

Stormy winds up to 9 Beaufort rage in Athens

December 3, 2013

With up to 9 Beaufort stormy winds have been raging in Athens since the early morning hours of Tuesday Trees were uprooted, shop signs were down,  garbage bins overturned, Christmas trees and decorations fell down.  Some streets have been closed to traffic due to damages caused by the wind. The Fire Brigade received more than 200 calls for cutting fallen trees.

Tree branch blocks trolley in downtown Athens

The roof of a gym in Glyfada

Fallen tree in Neo Psychiko

The bad weather front is expected to bring snow in the mountains around Attica and radical drop in temperatures. The wind is blowing North, North-West.

Some ferries and ship traffic has been halted as winds up to 10 Beaufort will blow in the Aegean Sea.

Greek media report that  in suburbs where trees were fallen residents rushed with saws to get wood for their fire place.

sources: newsit.gr, protothema & others

PS Keep calm and put some stones in your pockets if you have to walk outside.

To be or not to be … rector of Athens University

December 2, 2013

Dressed with a red cape the white-haired actor stands alone on the stage of a small theater hall in Paris, France. The stage is located in the Greek House, a culture institute, the actor performs in front of no more than 55 people.The play “Mark Aurelius” is been written and directed by the actor himself.

The man taken by his passion for the theater is Theodosis Pelegrinis, the rector at the Athens University. One of the universities on strike since two and a half months due to enforced lay-offs in administration personnel. Lectors, teachers and administrative personnel are on strike, students cannot attend classes, take exams or even matriculate.

But the passionate actor seems apparently to believe, that these problems are nonfiction banalities when compared to his world of dramatic monologue and powerful gesture when he tries to communicate with his audience. Not his students.

Pelegrinis gave this exceptional performance in Paris last Sunday. When the Education Minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos was reportedly trying to find a solution for the university and the personnel was announcing a further strike week.

On Monday, and after Greek newspapers and media reported about the Mark Aurelius performance, the Education Minister decided to refer Pelegrinis to Disciplinary Boards for misconduct.

“Unlike the other seven Rectors of universities affected by the measure of availability, the Rector of the National University of Athens Mr. Pelegrinis keeps the University closed due to inaction and inability to implement the decisions of the Senate,,” the Minister said in a statement.

The Minister’s decision is interpreted by Greek media as “paving the way for Pelegrinis’ suspension.”

I don’t agree with the measure of availability ordered by the Troika and applied by the Greek ministers for the sole reason that it causes people to lose their jobs and thus without previous evaluation of their work performance. However, I don’t agree  with Pelegrinis either, who prefers to fly to Paris and be Marc Aurelius than a responsible manager of a university on fire.

Between Education Minister and Pelegrinis, students are the hostages.

Students are more likely to miss this one semester. Especially for students from the country side and not wealthy families rent and living cost for six lost months is a huge burden.

A university teacher I know told me recently that it was a grave mistake to have universities closed. “They should be open and operate dismantled from administrative personnel, so that everyone would see what’s going on.”

 

 

 

 


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