Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Greeks dress up for Carnival.

Fires in the street, loud explosions go off every few seconds and the place is full of people wearing masks. No, not a riot, but rather the Greek Carnivali in which people wear fancy dress, dance, drink and celebrate the last day before Orthodox Lent begins.

This year I found myself in a small, picturesque village in central Greece, visiting my daughter and her mother who have recently moved from Thessaloniki to be be closer to their family there and hoping to find a way of making a living, something that has become more and more difficult in the country's urban areas.

Economic woes aside, people took comfort in the plethora of traditions Greece still retains and for a while forgot all their worries and just laughed, danced and enjoyed the moment.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I get by with a little help form my friends - Huge thank you to all of everyone who helped.

Last week I asked people on Twitter and via my blog if they could help me out by chipping for a new (used) camera. My trusty Olympus E-450 is a great for daylight stuff but sadly lacking when it comes to night time and low light shooting.

As you've probably seen over the last few months the level of protest in Greece has increased dramatically and often this takes place at night. In many situations using a flash is not an option so I am unable to get the shots I would like but with this new camera that has been rectified.

Now thanks to people's generous contributions I was able to buy a used canon EOS 40D with a new 18-55mm lens and a Hoya lens filter.

Total cost was 415E or $551 most of which was paid for by your contributions.

This is a major step up for me and means I will be able to carry on my work even in the most demanding of conditions.



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pictures used without permission by El Mundo

A lion in winter by Teacher Dude's BBQ
A lion in winter, a photo by Teacher Dude's BBQ on Flickr.
Yesterday I received an email asking me to look at an article in the print edition of  the Spanish Daily El Mundo about the legendary Greek freedom fighter, Manolis Glezos, written by Greek journalist, Theodoris Georgakopoulos (See link to the journalist's site here)

It came as quite a surprise to see a picture I took in April 2008 was being used by the paper to illustrate the article.

The picture which appears on my Flickr page and on this blog is covered by various licences and is therefore not freely available. In the case of this blog images are covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Greece License. which allows activists and bloggers to use the pictures but requires commercial users to ask permission.

As I am not a professional photographer I am not really an expert on different aspects of copyright, however,El Mundo did not contact me in order to ask permission to use the photograph. As people who follow this blog are aware times are especially tough in Greece and like so many others my income has been drastically reduced over the last couple of years. When you see a large commercial operation unwilling to pay even a token fee for your work, it sticks in your throat. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Can you help?

Once again I am passing round the begging bowl in order to ask for your help, whoever you may be. I have run up against the limitations of the photographic equipment I have and while my Olympus E-450 is just fine for daytime shots, it's ability to take pictures at night or in low light situation is severely limited, meaning I either use flash (never a safe move in any tense situations) or put my camera down.

Now I have the chance to buy a used Canon ESO 40D from a friend for 300E, but that's more than I can get together in at the moment, for reasons that are obvious for anyone following the economic crisis in Greece.

To tell you the truth I feel terrible about asking for help again as I've done so in the past and was overwhelmed by people's generosity. Also when I look around the city and see the real want on display, spending money on something as frivolous as a camera seems somehow wrong. But yet I am asking for your assistance.

If you feel you can help please visit my Paypal account. using cpwefl2003@hotmail.com

If you won't fight for your own future, at least fight for the future of your kids

Friday, February 17, 2012

I protest, therefore I am - Protesto ergo sum"

Unpaid employees protesting outside one of Thessaloniki's culinary landmarks

Employees outside Hatzis patisserie, one of Thessaloniki's culinary landmarks, protesting over unpaid wages.

According to the demonstrators the owners of the business still enjoy a considerable degree of luxury whilst claiming that they do not have money to pay their staff.

Over the last year there has been an epidemic of such cases in both the public and private sector in Greece.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Greek protester wanders through clouds of tear gas holding a gallows - Thessaloniki, Greece

Taken during the anti-austerity protests in Thessaloniki, Greece that were violently ended when riot police attacked. The man was carrying a gallows and stayed behind even after tear gas cannisters starting landing in Aristotelous Square.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Greeks take to the streets over new austerity law - Thessaloniki, Greece

Sunday's protest rally saw a large turnout as about 20,000 people gathered in the central Aristotelous Square and then marched through down town Thessaloniki.

However, once the march returned to the Square violence broke out and police repeatedly attacked the rally, using tear gas and truncheons, often against people who had no involvement with any act of violence. (see video below).


If you want to do more than just survive, learn to fight like a Greek -poster

Monday, February 13, 2012

Greece is now in the austerity hot seat

Tear gas and violence put an end to Greek austerity demonstrations

Greeks take part in anti-austerity protest march - Thessaloniki, Greece

Last night's protest rally saw a large turnout as about 20,000 people gathered in the central Aristotelous Square and then marched through down town Thessaloniki.

However, once the march returned to the Square violence broke out and police repeatedly attacked the rally, using tear gas and truncheons, often against people who had no involvement with any act of violence. (see video below).

Riot squad units also lashed out indiscriminately at marchers outside the Olympion cinema which had been occupied yesterday by groups opposed to the latest round of austerity measures.

At least two people were injured in the attack including one man who was taken to hospital with head wounds received during the police charge.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

ΟΥΣΤ (get lost) It ends tonight - Message to the Greek government from it's own people

ΟΥΣΤ  by Teacher Dude's BBQ
ΟΥΣΤ , a photo by Teacher Dude's BBQ on Flickr.

Waiting for the Greek Götterdämmerung

Prime minister Lukas Papademos last night warned his fellow Greeks that failure to reach agreement on the latest austerity measures in parliament today would bring disaster to the indebted nation. Such dramatic talk in perhaps hardly surprising in the country that gave the world the word, apocalypse and reflects the fear those in power feel about the possibility that the legislation will not pass, or even worse will produce a wave of protest so intense that it will stall its implementation.

For the last three days there have been a series of strikes and marches against the latest cuts and job losses, but they are just a warm up for the big event which will take place later today at 5pm Athens times when people will start to gather for a series of nationwide rallies.

For over two years Greek voters have been told that austerity will save the country and yet all people have seen is a huge drop in living standards as the economy has collapsed and prices have soared. Caught between these two pincers many have despaired that will be able to survive financially as bills pill up and incomes from pensions and wages keep on falling.

Greek riot police outside finance minister's political office - Thessaloniki, Greece

The situation has not been helped by a political system that is widely despised as being both inept and deeply corrupt. This has been reflected not only in the falling poll figures for those parties in power but also the seemingly endless clashes between riot police and protesters that occur whenever government members are spotted in public.

Those who call upon Greeks to make more sacrifices are exactly those most unwilling to give up the priviledges they have accrued whilst in power, a fact that few outside parliament have failed to notice.

The reality is that Greece has ceased to be a sovereign nation in anything but name, it's economic policy, spending decision and hence the vast majority of decision usually made in the name of the nation state are being dictated by the country's creditors who have demanded a heavy tribute in return for their intervention.

Greek protester on anti-austerity demonstration in Thessaloniki, Greece

The fiscal policies being imposed have slashed GDP, pushed up unemployment and all but destroyed any real chance of the economy recovering for the forseeable future. In such a situation using talk of bankruptcy to scare people into supporting yet more of the same is simply not going to succeed as so many have, to all intents and purposes already been bankrupted.

What is left for the government and its supporters in the the media, (which to a large extent is controlled by domestic oligarchs heavily invested in the banking sector) are a series of crude threats warning of massive shortages in food and other basic goods should the country renege on its debt agreements.

Tonight in Athens's Syntagma Square we will see if the riot police can contain the groundswell of popular anger now building up. It will be a scene repeated in towns and cities across the country as people gather once more to say no to a future which holds nothing but poverty and decline for the next decade.

Anti - ACTA protest in Thessaloniki, Greece.

"ERROR 404 - Democracy Not Found". Anti - ACTA protest in Thessaloniki, Greece.

About 300 people gathered in the centre of Thessaloniki, Greece to protest against ACTA yesterday evening. The gathering is part of a European-wide series of actions against the anti-piracy bill.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Greek protesters occupy cinema in Thessaloniki, Greece

Taken after the end of the anti-austerity demonstration in Thessaloniki today. Protester occupied the Olympion cinema in the centre of the city and decided to use it as a launching pad for further anti-government actions planned for tomorrow.

Pensioner protesting - Thessaloniki, Greece

The sign reads

"Cuts in pensions.
There's no euros for taxes.
We are the tax dodgers.
You can arrest us.


The pensioners association


Which side are you on boys, which side are you on? - Greece

Minutes after anti - austerity protesters returned to the main body of the march Greek police grabbed and beat a photographer (see his Twitter feed here) for taking pictures of them.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Greek pensioner breaks down in tears during TV interview

When the interviewer asked him how the latest austerity measures had affected him the pensioner broke down in tears.

Thousands took to the streets of Thessaloniki, Greece for the latest in a series of protests aimed at overturning government plans to introduce yet more austerity measures.

More strikes and marches have been called for the next two days

Greeks take to the streets after austerity agreement

Taken tonight in the northern port city of Thessaloniki during a protest march against the latest round of austerity measures which have crippled the Greek economy. During the demonstration protesters briefly occupied two radio stations and read out messages on air calling upon people to join further demonstrations planned for the coming days.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

As Greece drifts towards disaster, what happens next?

Protest march in Thessaloniki, Greece in support of nationwide general strike by Teacher Dude's BBQ

As the negotiations between Athens and the country's creditors over the terms of the next austerity measures wind up there is a growing sense on the internet and in the streets that Greece is tipping over into disaster. While it's easy to get carried away by the hyperbole and hysteria that accompanies much of the reporting of the present situation the reality may indeed be living up to the feverish imaginations of headline writers. 

Unemployment has continued to climb as the number of businesses going under increases, in part the result of falling incomes and a series of crushing demands by Athens for more and more tax revenue. The irony is that each increase in either direct taxation such as that on properties or indirect via VAT has brought less and less money into government coffers. Yesterday's Greek Finance Ministry report showed that instead of an expected  rise in revenue Greece's income has dropped by 7%. 

At every single turn price hikes have resulted in fall of consumption, even for items as basic as heating oil, as people either do without or turn to alternative sources such as wood often illegally logged from the country's forests. 

Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, the European Union and in particular the German political leadership  is insisting on yet more cuts in public spending on pensions and health, more job losses and a drastic cut in the minimum wage. Hardly surprising, given this and the years of vilification the German right wing press Greeks are becoming more open to anti-German feeling, as witnessed by the burning of a German flag outside  parliament during yesterday's demonstrations in Athens. While many have been quick to condemn such actions such sentiments are the exception rather than the rule as anger, frustration and indignation replace calmer analysis.

Greek trade unionists march against latest austerity measures

In response to the latest cuts trade unions called a general strike for Tuesday with limited results, many public sector employees carried on working while the turnout for marches was low, with just a few thousand participating in Athens and Thessaloniki. Some argued that the last minute nature of the call combined with unusually low temperatures were to blame. However, I believe there is a growing despondency which has taken hold of people, the conviction that whatever they do nothing will change, feed by the fact that after two years of austerity and four years of economic decline marches, strikes and other protests have not succeeded in halting the malaise.

This, however, should not be mistaken for acceptance, no matter how grudging, of the new economic measures, anger over those and disgust with the current political system is greater than ever. It's is now an article of faith that no member of government can appear in public without presence of riot police units to protect them from their own voters, sometimes even members of their own party. What people lack is a focus for their frustration and the possibility that they can change the present situation.

With the dissolution of established forms of protests and dissent there is a growing danger that popular anger will explode in ways that cannot be directed or contained in the traditional way and with unpredictable consequences. With money drying up and families resources dwindling more and more people will be open to any suggestion, no matter how radical or extreme that offers them even a glimmer of hope for the future.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

No public protest is complete in Greece without presence of riot police

Taken during an anti-austerity protest march in Thessaloniki. 2000-3000 people took part in two separate demonstrations in the centre this morning.