Monday, March 31, 2008

Far - right politician

Far - right politician, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Kyriakos Velopoulos - member of the far right LAOS party which has 10 members in the Greek parliament. The leader of the party, Giorgos Karatzaferis was quoted as saying in 2002;

"First of all, I am not a Jew. Can the prime minister say that of himself? Secondly, I am not a communist. Can Mr Karamanlis say that?” asked LAOS leader Giorgos Karatzaferis, speaking in Corinth on May 28, 2002. “Thirdly, I am not a homosexual. There aren’t many who can say that,”"

He is also the author of books claiming that the Mayans are in fact descendants of the ancient Greeks. Nice to know that such fine, upstanding educated folk are representing the people of Thessaloniki in parliament.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Glad to see the back of it

Smile, Big Brother loves you.

"Police had warned they would confiscate all banners, signs or objects that might be thrown and arrest anyone who showed signs of protesting."

According to the BBC the Greek police seem to have cancelled the Greek constitution and our civil liberties for the day. Obviously, the right to protest peacefully doesn't count if the Olympics games are involved. I'll be glad to see the back of the Olympic torch.

Greece bans foreign media from covering Olympic torch ceremony

According to reports by CNN and Associated Press the Greek government will not allow foreign media to cover the Olympic torch's Acropolis leg. Eager to avoid a repeat of the protest by French journalists during the ceremony to mark the lighting of the flame the Greek government has sought to control what the rest of the world sees.

No mention was made of protests by Danish activist outside the IOC offices in Athens nor similiar protests in Thessaloniki, northern Greece. However the state run NET channel did briefly show club wielding police threatening Greek demonstrators who had attempted to unfurl a banner along the route of the Olympic flame in Athens.

In a petition signed by hundreds of Greek journalists the Greek government was accused of aligning itself with China's totalitarian regime and "participating in a festival of hypocrisy". Their angry response was prompted by what they saw as attempts by the Greek state run media to censor pro- Tibetan protests in Olympia.

See here for the full text of the press release.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour is almost upon us

Earth Hour

In a little while we'll switch off all the appliances in the flat in order to observe Earth Hour. I hope you'll join us in this effort to raise awareness of the way we all are contributing to global warming.

"Earth Hour is an international event that asks households and businesses to turn off their lights and non-essential electrical appliances for one hour on the evening of 29 March at 8 pm local time until 9 pm to promote electricity conservation and thus lower carbon emissions. It may also help reduce light pollution, and in 2008, coincides with the beginning of National Dark Sky Week in the USA."

Olympic torch controversy rumbles on

As the Olympic torch reaches the final stage of the Greek leg of its journey the controversy over the Greek government run media's handling of protests continues to rumble on. Greek journalists have condemned efforts by the state run NET channel over what they claim were attempts to censor protests by the French based organisation, Reporters Without Borders during the ceremony to mark the lighting of the Olympic flame.

In a petition which appeared in the Greek newspaper, Eleutherotypia they argue that the Greek authorities government have "aligned themselves with totalitarian China" and that they are guilty of "participating in this festival of hypocrisy".

According to the Greek channel Skai, the state run media at first tried to ignore then play down the attempt by French journalist, Robert Mernard to unfurl a banner depicting the Olympic rings as handcuffs. Similarly, police intervention to thwart attempts by pro-Tibetan demonstrators to protest when the Olympic torch reached the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki were played down by state run nation and local media.

Here is a translation of the petition signed by thirty Greek journalists.

Press release

"During the ceremony for the lighting of the Olympic flame the democratic authorities in Greece aligned themselves with China's totalitarian regime.The police were impressively mobilised in order to hinder every protest over the state of freedoms in China and the continued bloody oppression in Tibet so insulting foreign and Greek citizens, amongst them journalists.

They have put on trial Robert Mernard, general secretary of the internationally known organisation, Reporters Without Borders which has effectively battled for human rights and freedom of people to be informed.

The state run NET channel, which was responsible for TV coverage of the ceremony, censored the majority of the scenes of protest and the violent intervention of the police. In addition he government representative branded the act of free and peaceful expression as "having nothing to do with spirit of the Olympics."

The truth is that totalitarian China, which tramples upon human rights, the Greek authorities which are participating in this festival of hypocrisy and ESHEA, which neither failed to denounce the violence and censorship nor stood by their outraged and presecuted colleagues, are in complete opposition to this supposed Olympic spirit.

We condemn the stance of the instigators and accomplices of this as it is bad for journalism, the country and the hypocrites that have covered it up, if only through their their silence. We are in solidarity with our foreign, persecuted colleagues. We shall all be coming to their trial."


Κατά την τελετή αφής της ολυμπιακής φλόγας οι Αρχές της δημοκρατικής Ελλάδας ευθυγραμμίστηκαν με την ολοκληρωτική Κίνα. Κινητοποίησαν εντυπωσιακά τον αστυνομικό μηχανισμό για να εμποδίσουν κάθε διαμαρτυρία για την κατάσταση των ελευθεριών στη χώρα αυτή και τη συνεχιζόμενη αιματηρή καταπίεση στο Θιβέτ, προπηλάκισαν ξένους και Έλληνες πολίτες και ανάμεσά τους δημοσιογράφους, οδηγούν σε δίκη τον Ρομπέρ Μενάρ, Γενικό Γραμματέα της διεθνώς γνωστής οργάνωσης Δημοσιογράφοι Χωρίς Σύνορα που μάχεται αποτελεσματικά για τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα και την ελευθερία της πληροφόρησης.

Ταυτόχρονα η κρατική ΝΕΤ, που είχε τη διεθνή ευθύνη για την τηλεοπτική κάλυψη της τελετής, λογόκρινε τις περισσότερες από τις σκηνές της διαμαρτυρίας και της βίαιης επέμβασης της αστυνομίας. Και επιπλέον ο κυβερνητικός εκπρόσωπος καυτηρίασε τις πράξεις ελεύθερης ειρηνικής έκφρασης ισχυριζόμενος ότι «δεν έχουν καμία σχέση με το ολυμπιακό πνεύμα».

Η αλήθεια είναι ότι σε πλήρη αντίθεση με το υποτιθέμενο ολυμπιακό πνεύμα βρίσκονται η ολοκληρωτική Κίνα που καταπατά τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, οι ελληνικές αρχές που μετέχουν σε αυτό το φεστιβάλ υποκρισίας, καθώς και η ΕΣΗΕΑ, η οποία όχι μόνο δεν κατήγγειλε τη βία και τη λογοκρισία, αλλά ούτε καν συμπαραστάθηκε στους προπηλακιζόμενους και διωκόμενους συναδέλφους.

Καταδικάζουμε τη στάση των πρωταγωνιστών και των συνενόχων αυτής της κακής, για τη δημοσιογραφία και τη χώρα, ώρας και τους υποκριτές που τους καλύπτουν έστω και με τη σιωπή τους. Είμαστε αλληλέγγυοι με τους διωκόμενους ξένους συναδέλφους. Στη δίκη θα προσέλθουμε όλοι.

Υπογράφουν οι δημοσιογράφοι:

Γιώργος Αγγελόπουλος, Δημήτρης Αλεξόπουλος, Νίκος Αμανίτης, Βάλυ Βαϊμάκη, Μανώλης Βασιλάκης, Ροζάννα Βούρτση, Θανάσης Γεωργακόπουλος, Bένα Γεωργακοπούλου, Ρούλα Γεωργακοπούλου, Διονύσης Γουσέτης, Περικλής Δημητρολόπουλος, Δημήτρης Δουλγερίδης, Ηλίας Κανέλλης, Τάκης Καμπύλης, Λίνα Καπετάνιου, Γκαζμέντ Καπλάνι, Άκης Καπράνος, Μιχαλης Κουντούρης, Έφη Κυδωνάκη, Αλέκα Κυφιώτη, Ιωάννα Λουλούδη, Μήτσος Μανιάτης, Σερίφ Μεχμέτ, Μιχάλης Μητσός, Πάσχος Μανδραβέλης, Στρατής Μπαλάσκας, Ανδρέας Μπελιμπασάκης, Νάσος Μπράτσος, Κίττυ Ξενάκη, Κατερίνα Οικονομάκου, Γιώργος Παγουλάτος, Aνδρέας Παπαγεωργόπουλος, Ανδρέας Παπαδόπουλος, Τέτα Παπαδοπούλου, Μαρίλια Παπαθανασίου, Θανάσης Παπανδρόπουλος, Πέπη Ραγκούση, Φίλιππος Σαββίδης, Σπύρος Σεραφείμ, Ήρα Σινιγάλια, Κώστας Σπυρόπουλος, Νίκος Σταθούλης, Κατερίνα Σχινά, Ριχάρδος Σωμερίτης, Kατερίνα Τασσοπούλου, Iάσων Τριανταφυλλίδης, Δημήτρης Τρίμης, Δημήτρης Χαραλάμπους, Όλγα Χαραμή, Λεωνίδας Χατζηπροδρομίδης, Τάκης Ψαρίδης.

Η συγκέντρωση υπογραφών δημοσιογράφων συνεχίζεται.
Να αποστέλλονται στο e-mail: manvas|at|

Click here to read the orginal Greek text.

Free Tibet-Tibetans Protest China's Torch Relay Greece Olympics Torch passing commercial Olympic flame target of more protests

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Olympic flame leaves Thessaloniki

Smile, Big Brother loves you.

"Amidst tight security and accusations by journalists of state sanctioned censorship the Olympic flame reached Thessaloniki, the Greece’s second city.However, the controversy and protests that dogged the flame’s lighting ceremony in Olympia were repeated when police detained and arrested demonstrators last night attempting to approach Aristotelous square, the flames eventual destination."

The Olympic flame reaches Thessaloniki

With enough policing to pacify a small state. Strange how the symbol of peace and friendly co-operation needs hundreds of police to ensure... peace and friendly co-operation.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fingerprinted fom the age of six


According to reports in the NEA newspaper the Greek authorities are on the verge of introducing the fingerprinting of children as young as six years old. As the country introduces the new biometric passport in line with Euopean legislation the Greek authorities have decided to join the hard core of states in Europe demanding even tougher anti - terrorist security measures.This includes the finger printing of children as young as six when issuing passports.

According to Syriza MP, Fotis Kouvelis this is a direct contravention of the Greek constitution and legislation concerning the protection of minors.

Fingerprinted fom the age of six

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The ghost of Mexico City comes back to haunt Beijing

Stop me if you've heard this one before. An authoritarian one party state uses blunt military force to squash a popular uprising. Hundreds are killed or injured and the government fears that attempts to burnish its image abroad by holding the Olympic games will be tarnished by images of dead protestors splashed across the world's media.

40 years on the Chinese government cannot be unaware of the bloody precedent of the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City when the army and police were used by the ruling PRI party to crush student protest just days ahead of the games in what later came to be called the Tlatelolco massacre.

With unrest in Tibet continuing and the Olympic flame the focus of protests in Greece this week it seems that history is indeed repeating itself. However, forty years on, in a world connected by instant TV coverage and wide access to the internet protests can be relayed around the globe in a matter of hours so giving ordinary people outside traditional media channels unparalleled access to information and a voice on the worldstage.

Attempts by the Greek state run TV channels to first ignore then play down the protest by the three French reporters at the ceremony marking the lighting of the Olympic flame proved ineffective when footage of the disruption, aired on foreign channels such as CNN and the BBC soon made its way onto Greek private channels and blogs.

While China still retains formidable control over what its citizen view on TV and the internet the up coming Olympic games will see this severely challenged, especially if there are protests over Tibet. As Tibet itself shows the Chinese attempts to control negative images and news coming out of the country are proving  much less effective than their Mexican predecessors.

In 1968 the true dimensions of what happened in the Plaza de la Tres Cultures were hidden from the world by the Mexican authorities to such as extent that the man responsible for an estimated 200 - 300 deaths, President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz was able to officially open the Games four days later.

It just may turn out the greatest threat to a Chinese PR triumph in August may not be the petrol bomb or  banner but rather the cell phone and the net.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Anthimos, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

"The self-styled “Macedonian warriors” have girded their loins for the fight but for the moment their message, coming mainly from the Thessaloniki Diocese, does not appear to be getting through to the majority of the population in northern Greece. The people there are certainly sensitive over the name issue but have been persuaded that hot tempers will do nothing to help the current critical phase of the talks."

Independence day in Greece

Stop in the name of love

Independence day in Greece

Click here for more background information.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

More coincidences

This picture was taken by George Bitsanis and we happened to be taking pics of the same demo. Cool. He got in contact with me and was kind enough to send some photos.


The strangest thing happened to me today. I was taking pictures in the centre of Thessaloniki when a guy came up and said, "Hi, you must be Teacher." It turned out that he was a reader of my blog based in Luxembourg who happened to be passing by.

To tell you the truth, at first I thought he was part of a security detail about to haul me off as there were loads of police around the place.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Guess who I bumped into.

Top of the range SUVs parked outside a swanky downtown hotel, vans full of riot police on Tsimiski St, wandering film crews and TV celebs mean just one thing. Some political bigwig from Athens is in town.

Greece passes pension reform bill

General strike brings Greece to a halt

Greece's parliament has narrowly passed the conservative government's controversial pension reform bill that triggered mass public protests.

The bill passed with 151 votes in favour, 13 against and 136 abstentions.

The reform is to eliminate most early retirement schemes, merge pension funds and cap auxiliary pensions.

The plans have outraged unions and civil servants. Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets on Wednesday in a series of strikes.

Athens clashes

As legislators debated the bill inside parliament, police and protesters clashed outside the building.

"The government is stealing the people's money. It's that simple," the leader of main opposition socialists, George Papandreou, said before his party's 102 deputies walked out of the vote.

"People have worked hard for their pension rights. Now, they are being taken away from them in the most arrogant way."

The conservatives have 152 MPs in the 300-seat parliament, but one did not vote due to illness.

A nationwide strike by civil servants on Wednesday paralysed transport and closed public offices.

Trade unions said millions of people took part in the 24-hour action, which was marked by clashes in Athens.

Re-elected last September, the conservative government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis wants to overhaul Greece's debt-ridden pension system.

It had warned the system faces collapse unless the sweeping reforms are implemented.

More than 130 social security and pension funds are to be merged into 13 funds, cutting administration costs.

The government also wants to raise the retirement age in some sectors, and give incentives to those who continue working after the retirement age, which currently stands at 65 for men and 60 for women.

A survey by the banking unions showed that 71% of the population opposes the pension reforms and 69% supports the strike.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Greece grinds to a halt

With the country in the grip of a massive 24 hour strike much of Greece's economic life has ground to a halt as workers groups as diverse as road cleaners and lawyers stopped work and protested. In addition the streets of most major cities have filled with uncollected rubbish and are nightly plunged into darkness by rolling power cuts. The conservative government's plans to reform Greece's problematic pension funds have continued to stir up a wave of protests which are expected to continue even after tomorrow's parliamentary vote on the reforms.

The government of Kostas Karamanlis insists that the Greece's aging population means that the only way to prepare for the future is to slim down the country's 133 pension funds to 13, reduce payments to those retiring early and increase the retirement age for other groups. Labor Minister Fani Palli-Petralia added that the changes would safeguard citizen's pension rights  for the foreseeable future.

Opposition leaders argue that the deficits in the contributions to the pension funds are the result of the unwillingness of many employers to pay contributions. Indeed the Greek state itself owes the nearly 8 billion euros in unpaid dues according to the Rizospastis newspaper.

Also the country has seen it's population increase by over a million during the last 15 year as many ethnic Greeks from the ex - Soviet republics moved to Greece along with immigrants from other countries such as Albania. Most are of working age, however, many work in agricultural and construction where, due to lax checks by the state and high levels of unemployment, businesses are able to avoid paying social security contributions.

An opinion poll carried out by VPRC showed that 69% of Greeks supported the strikes and over 70% disagreed with the government's reform plans.

Greece grinds to a halt Greece grinds to a halt Greece grinds to a halt Greece grinds to a halt Greece grinds to a halt Greece grinds to a halt Greece grinds to a halt Greece grinds to a halt Greece grinds to a halt

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