Thursday, 29 January 2015

"Let us therefore brace ourselves..."

'If SYRIZA survive the tough beginning, a looming change in European attitudes to austerity politics in Europe might vindicate their struggle.' SYRIZA are inexperienced in government and up against such powers and carrying such hopes in Greece and across Europe. I would have thought that the most important requirements within this government along with Odyssesian agility is courage. ("Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves etc".) For us watching and, in some cases, directly experiencing this bold attempt to end Greece's 'fiscal waterboarding', the trickiest thing will be sorting out the truth amid the media blitz that arises from the fact that we are seeing a small country, a truly 'forlorn hope', charging the agents and agencies of mainstream economics. Tsipras and his cabinet are up against current economic science, present economic faith and almost universal economic common-sense. But all these things, for which we can see no clear alternative, means imposing upon Greece a prolonged version of what the Treaty of Versailles - so very understandable, such common sense - did to Germany in 1919. We have a dear friend in Greece who pays her bills, obeys the law, pays all the latest taxes, and works work works. 'There is not a morning I do not wake up scared" she says. In the case of Greece economic 'common sense' is not working. Some people use language and interpretations of events in Greece as though they have nothing to do with this. That is not the case. Let's have some tunes? Hallelujah
"We need to stop this carnival of tax evasion and tax avoidance" Alexis Tsipras

Sunday, 25 January 2015


Μαγουλιά ...from the village website for Ano Korakiana

Ψαρόσουπα με λαχανικά «σβησμένα» με κρασί και «μαγουλιά» λυθρινιού, συνοδευόμενη από άσπρο κρασί και το Τριώδιο ακόμη δεν άρχισε…Στην τηλεόραση, τα τελευταία τηλεοπτικά σποτ των πολιτικών κομμμάτων, λίγο πριν την κάλπη...On TV, the latest TV spots for political parties just before the ballot in the village. They will be voting on Democracy Street today.
Polling on Democracy Street, Ano Korakiana ~ 25th Jan 2015

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My personal connections to beloved Greece means the matter intensifies my interest, but this turn of events - like many in Greece in modern times - has implications. Greece's connection to the EU and the Euro always had more to do with the symbolic significance of Hellenic membership, than economic logic. Alexis Tsipras is an attractive bright idealist, leader of Syriza with government-forming support in the polls.
He thinks there is an economic alternative to austerity. My neighbours in Ano Korakiana like this man's thinking. At previous elections they saw him as too young, even naive, lacking in experience. Inside the polling booths, they may yet have reverted to older politicians and parties, rather than support Tsipras' avowed policy to renegotiate the policies of austerity - conditions affecting Greece worse than other PIIGS. Syriza is about to form a government that will challenge the neo-liberal economic method and faith we've inhabited since Mrs Thatcher read Hayek's Road to Serfdom* in 1944 and took it to heart, and pursued its message with conviction for most of the free world.
Our trust in the power of markets is lessening these days but while many. including me, can explain our mistrust - especially the visible facts of market failure and its consequences, we tend to keep 'a-hold of Nurse For fear of finding something worse'.
Syriza's going to have a go. If it elects a workable government under Tsipras so is Greece! Tsipras without becoming a useless, and dangerous, populist (not impossible given the despair of so many in Greece) must, to succeed, sell to his fellow citizens and the rest of Europe 'the big idea' that there's something better for Greece than the horrid prescription of continuing austerity.
Those, who like me, don't trust, communism or the bureaucratic fumbling of state socialism, are attracted to Tsipras' more moderate nostrums - ones that focus on bringing government authority to ameliorating the toxic effects of market externalities.* We've heard the poetry. it stirs!
...Mario Cuomo's famous dictum that you campaign in poetry but govern in prose...The poetry of campaigning is lofty, gauzy, full of possibility, a world where problems are solved just because we want them to be and opposition melts away before us. The prose of governing is messy and maddening, full of compromises and half-victories that leave a sour taste in one's mouth.
But I hesitate to test my intuitions and hopes of alternatives to austerity to the rigorous prose of government - especially as I am quite comfortably off. especially as I'm alright.

It's a complicated case, hence Tsipras' vagueness - along with all aspiring political leaders - about what he will do as Prime Minister. He's been effective in opposition. I cannot see him being as effective in government. He wants to keep Greece in the euro. He wants Greece to withdraw from the bailout agreement. Samaras has given his main opponent little time to turn that popular adversarial vision ("the future begins today") into a reality that will get votes on polling day. But then I'd far rather have Tsipras than Golden Dawn. There's an easy opinion!
I am too far imbued with the painful principles of neo-liberalism to believe in practical alternatives to continued austerity. Is there one? Margaret T did well. "I can see no alternative - TINA!"; perhaps there are alternatives in those Scandinavian welfare states with small, still relatively homogeneous populations. Whether there's an alternative that can work for the rest of us, the rest of the world is asking.
*Hayek's case for free markets includes the view that where market activities damage third parties - negative externalities (corruption, harm to the environment, 'exploitation of ignorance') there's a place for the intervention of government. 
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Exit poll as promised around 19.30 in Greece, 17.30 here in UK

  • French Tart What does it mean?
    59 mins · Like · 1
  • Heather Skinner it's the spread across the various exit polls "from %" on the left column "to %" on the right - IF Syriza actually has polled 39.5 % they MAY have enough seats (151) for an overall majority to make a government on their own, parties that poll 3% or over (which in this case includes the extreme right Golden Dawn) will also have seats. If Syriza cannot form a government on their own, they will have to form an alliance with one or more of the other parties
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Syriza Rides Anti-Austerity Wave to Landslide Victory in Greece
by Eleni Chrepa & Marcus Bensasson
Bloomberg NewsJanuary 25, 2015

Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza brushed aside Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s party to record a landslide victory in Greece’s elections, after riding a public backlash against years of budget cuts demanded by international creditors, exit polls showed.
Tsipras’s Coalition of the Radical Left, known by its Greek acronym, took between 36% and 38% compared with 26% to 28% for Samaras’s New Democracy in Sunday’s election, according to an exit poll on state-run Nerit TV showed. To Potami, formed less than a year ago and a potential Syriza coalition partner, tied for third place with the far-right Golden Dawn on 6% to 7%.
The projected victory, by a wider margin than polls predicted, may be enough for Syriza to govern alone. It hands Tsipras, 40, an overwhelming mandate to confront Greece’s program of austerity imposed in return for pledges of €240 billion ($269 billion) in aid since May 2010. The challenge for him now is to strike a balance between keeping his election pledges including a writedown of Greek debt and avoiding what Samaras repeatedly warned was the risk of an accidental exit from the euro.
Syriza, in a statement read out by a party official, said the victory was “historic” and one that represented hope.
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From the poll in Ano Korakiana, above average support for Syriza:
Αποτελέσματα βουλευτικών εκλογών
Γράφει ο/η Κβκ   
Αποτελέσματα βουλευτικών εκλογών 25ης Ιανουαρίου 2015, στο χωριό μας:
Ψήφισαν: 735
Ακυρα-Λευκά: 13
Έγκυρα: 722


ΣΥΡΙΖΑ: 314 (43,5%)
Ν.Δ.: 162
ΚΚΕ: 63
ΑΝ.ΕΛ.: 36
Χρυσή Αυγή: 27
ΚΙ.ΔΗ.ΣΟ: 16

New Corfu MPs: SYRIZA, Stefano Samoilis and Fotini Vaki for SYRIZA, Stefanos Gikas for ND

<Το Νησί των Συναισθημάτων>

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

<Δεν είμαι ο Τσάρλι!>

Lt. Franck Brinsolaro   Officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe   Officer Ahmed Merabet

To quote Aaron Sorokin's angry, even menacing, Colonel Nathan Jessup 'most men and women sleep "under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide"'. Writing Internal Polity 20 years ago I was first struck by Joseph Conrad's observation that...
Few men realize that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings. The courage, the composure, the confidence; the emotions and principles; every great and every insignificant thought belongs not to the individual but to the crowd: to the crowd that believes blindly in the irresistible force of its institutions and of its morals, in the power of its police and of its opinion. (Conrad, An Outpost of Progress in Cosmopolis (London) Vol. 7, No.XVIII (Jun 1897), p.611)
"I'm sorry we drew him again" Renald 'Luz' Luzier - the man who missed the fatal editorial meeting on 7th July because he overslept 30 minutes - chooses a much more conditional relationship with the 'blanket'; does not draw his emotions, principles, composure, courage and confidence from faith in the force and morals of social institutions or the power of the police. Many, including me, do - more than most of the time I want to admit.

Article in Dragoumanos ~ 12 Jan 2015 (English translation below)
Σε όλο τον κόσμο, και σίγουρα σε ολόκληρο to Twitter, οι άνθρωποι δείχνουν την αλληλεγγύη με τους δολοφονηθέντες δημοσιογράφους του σατιρικού γαλλικού περιοδικού Charlie Hebdo, διακηρύσσοντας σε μαύρο και άσπρο ότι μοιράζονται πάρα πολύ τις τιμές που αποδόθηκαν στους γελοιογράφους που σκοτώθηκαν. Συναισθηματικά και ηθικά είμαι απόλυτα με την εν λόγω συλλογική ηθική – αλλά στην πραγματικότητα εγώ και σχεδόν όλοι όσοι δηλώνονουν την αλληλεγγύη τους δεν είναι «Τσάρλι», γιατί απλά δεν έχουν το θάρρος τους.
Εξωφρενικά και – υπό το φως του βάρβαρου τέλους τους – από αμέλεια γενναίος. Το είδος του απίστευτα θαρραλέου ανθρώπου που πραγματικά αλλάζει τον κόσμο. Όπως σημειώνει ο Τζορτζ Μπέρναρντ Σο, ο «λογικός άνθρωπος προσαρμόζει τον εαυτό του στον κόσμο, ενώ ο παράλογος άνθρωπος επιμένει να προσπαθεί να προσαρμόσει τον κόσμο στον εαυτό του“, και ως εκ τούτου, «όλη η πρόοδος εξαρτάται από τον παράλογο άνθρωπο“. Ο Charlie Hebdo ήταν ο παράλογος άνθρωπος. Έδωσε τη μάχη, που έχει σε μεγάλο βαθμό αφεθεί στην αστυνομία και στις υπηρεσίες ασφαλείας.
Είναι ένα εύκολο πράγμα να διακηρύξει κάποιος την αλληλεγγύη μετά τη δολοφονία τους και αυτό είναι συγκινητικό να βλέπει κανείς μια τέτοια συλλογική απάντηση. Αλλά στο τέλος – όπως και τόσα άλλα παραδείγματα hashtag ακτιβισμού, όπως το #bringbackourgirls η εκστρατεία εναντίον των απαχθέντων Νιγηριανών μαθητών- δεν θα κάνει τη διαφορά, εκτός από το να μας κάνει να νιώθουμε καλύτερα. Κάποιοι βγήκαν στους δρόμους, αλλά οι περισσότεροι από αυτούς που δηλώνουν ότι είναι Charlie το έκανε αυτό μέσα από την ασφάλεια ενός κοινωνικού απολογισμού των μέσων ενημέρωσης. Εγώ δεν τους επικρίνω για την επιθυμία να κάνουν αυτό. Απλά, δεν νομίζω ότι οι περισσότεροι από εμάς έχουν κερδίσει αυτό το δικαίωμα.
Πολλοί, αν όχι οι περισσότεροι, δημοσιογράφοι αυτο λογο κρίνονται. Θα στηρίξουν την δημοσίευση εικόνων που ξέρουν πως θα θέσει σε σοβαρό κίνδυνο τον εαυτό τους ή την οργάνωσή τους – και μετά τα γεγονότα αυτής της εβδομάδας μπορεί κανείς να τους κατηγορήσει δύσκολα; Οι εταιρείες έχουν καθήκον μέριμνας για το προσωπικό τους και οι άνθρωποι έχουν καθήκον να φροντίζουν τον εαυτό τους και τις οικογένειές τους.
Είναι επίσης λογικό να μην δίνει κανείς περιττές αφορμές. Αλλά θα ήταν ανέντιμο για τους περισσότερους συγγραφείς και σκιτσογράφους να ισχυρίζονται ότι θα χλευάσουν πρόθυμα τον προφήτη Μωάμεθ, όπως θα έκαναν και για τον Ιησού. Μπορώ να εκφράζω τη λύπη μου για το γεγονός ότι τα μέσα μαζικής ενημέρωσης φοβούνται να δημοσιεύσουν μια επιθετική γελοιογραφία του προφήτη, αλλά θα ήθελα πραγματικά μία σε κάθε άρθρο που έγραψα; Γιατί παρ όλα τα γενναία μας λόγια για το πώς θα κερδίσει η ελευθερία, για το πώς δεν μπορούν να φιμώσουν σάτιρα, η σάτιρα φιμώθηκε.
Για να είσαι ο Τσάρλι θα πρέπει να είσαι έτοιμος να αψηφήσεις τις πραγματικές απειλές θανάτου και επιθέσεις με βόμβες μολότοφ. Να επιμείνετε, όπως οι δημοσιογράφοι που δολοφονήθηκαν, εν όψει των δεδομένων κινδύνων για τη ζωή σας, ενώ εργάζεστε υπό αστυνομική προστασία (οι νεκροί περιλαμβάνουν δύο αξιωματικούς). Να συνεχίσεις να δημοσιεύεις γελοιογραφίες και ανέκδοτα που ξέρετε ότι θα πυροδοτήσουν εκείνα τα άτομα που χρειάζονται μόνο λίγο υποκίνηση για να σκοτώσουν. Απαιτείται να αγαπάτε τη ζωή σας και τους φόβους για την οικογένειά σας λιγότερο από την απόλυτη αρχή της ελευθερίας. Πρέπει να είστε τόσο αποφασισμένοι να πολεμήσετε το φασισμό των φονταμενταλιστών που σας κρατούν από το να δημοσιεύσετε , όταν η ορθολογική σκέψη σας λέει να σταματήσετε. Αυτοί οι άνθρωποι δεν ήταν μόνο σατιρικοί. Ήταν μαχητές της ελευθερίας που εσκεμμένα προκαλούσαν έναν εχθρό που ήξεραν να είναι θανατηφόρος.
Κάθε χρόνο δεκάδες δημοσιογράφοι σκοτώνονται και πολλοί άλλοι τραυματίζονται εκτιθέμενοι στα πιο επικίνδυνα μέρη του κόσμου, εκθέτοντας κτηνωδία, εγκλήματα πολέμου και την αδικίας. Πέρυσι, 66 εργαζόμενοι στα μέσα ενημέρωσης έχασαν τη ζωή τους, σύμφωνα με τους Δημοσιογράφους Χωρίς Σύνορα – το ένα τρίτο από αυτούς στη Συρία και την Ουκρανία. Αυτοί οι άνθρωποι και κάποιοι πιο τυχεροί συνάδελφοί τους θα μπορούσαν να διεκδικήσουν το θάρρος να είναι ο Τσάρλι – αν και ούτε ακόμη και αυτοί θα τολμούσαν να είναι τόσο ανοιχτά προκλητικοί και οι περισσότεροι, πολύ σωστά, καταβάλουν κάθε δυνατή προσπάθεια για να ελαχιστοποιηθεί ο κίνδυνος για τους εαυτούς τους.
Αλλά εμείς οι υπόλοιποι, σαν εμένα, που κάθονται με ασφάλεια σε ένα γραφείο στη Δυτική Ευρώπη – ή όλοι όσοι σε άλλα επαγγέλματα που ποτέ δεν θα προτίθενται να λάβουν το είδος των κινδύνων που αυτοί οι Γάλλοι δημοσιογράφοι πήραν καθημερινά – δεν είμαστε Τσάρλι. Είμαστε απλά χαρούμενοι ότι κάποιος άλλος είχε το θάρρος να είναι.
Je ne suis pas Charlie. Δεν είμαι ο Τσάρλι, δεν είμαι αρκετά γενναίος

Κείμενο μεταφρασμένο από την Google και SB -.text translated by Google and SB
Je ne suis pas Charlie. I'm not Charlie, I'm not brave enough. All over the world, and certainly around to Twitter, people show solidarity with the murdered journalists of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, proclaiming in black and white that share too the values ​​attributed to cartoonists killed. Emotionally and morally I am totally with that collective morality - but in fact I disown their solidarity. I am not 'Charlie' because I just do not have the courage.
Wildly and - in light of the brutal end - recklessly brave. The kind of incredibly courageous people who really changed the world. As noted by George Bernard Shaw, the 'reasonable man adapts himself to the world, while the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself,' and therefore 'all progress depends on the unreasonable man.'  Charlie Hebdo was the unreasonable man. He engaged in a battle which has largely been left to the police* and security services.
It is an easy thing to proclaim a solidarity after the murder and it is heartwarming to see such a collective response. But in the end - like so many other examples of hashtag activism, like #BringBackOurGirls campaign against Nigeria's abducted students - will not make a difference, except to make us feel better. Some took to the streets, but most of those who say they are Charlie did this through the security of a social media account. I do not criticize them for wanting to do this. I just do not think that most of us have earned that right.

I was in Trafalgar Square last Thursday; parked my bicycle in the wet to gaze

Many, if not all, journalists will resist the publication of images they know will seriously endanger themselves or their organisation - and after the events of this week can one blame them? Companies have a duty of care for their staff and people have a duty to care for themselves and their families.
It also makes sense, on some occasions, not to give in. But it would be dishonest to claim that most writers and cartoonists will willingly mock the Prophet Muhammad, as they have Jesus. Should I regret the fact that the media are afraid to publish an offensive cartoon of prophet, Would I really like one in every article I wrote? Because for all our brave words about how to win freedom; about how satire cannot be silenced, it has been.
To be Charlie I should be ready to defy actual death threats and attacks with Molotov cocktails; should insist on continuing to work, as did the murdered journalists, despite the availability of public information about their lives; to continue under police protection (the dead include two officers); to continue to publish cartoons and jokes that you know will trigger those individuals who need just a small incitement to kill; to love your life and fears for your family less than the absolute principle of freedom. You must be utterly determined to fight fascism fundamentalists, keeping to your post when rational thought tells you to stop. These people were not only satirical; they were freedom fighters who deliberately confronted an enemy they knew could kill them.
Every year dozens of journalists are killed and many others injured as bystanders in the most dangerous parts of the world, while exposing brutality, war crimes and injustice. Last year, 66 media workers were killed, according to Reporters Without Borders - one third of them in Syria and Ukraine. These people and some more fortunate colleagues could claim the courage to be Charlie - although not even they dared to be so openly provocative, and most rightly make every effort to minimise risk to themselves while continuing to work.
But the rest of us, like me, sitting safely in an office in Western Europe - or all those in other professions - would never intend to take the kind of risks these French journalists took daily - we're not Charlie. We are just happy someone else had the courage to be.
...and see the experience of Roberto Saviano, the brave journalist and 'unreasonable' man, who who exposed the global iniquity of the crime families of Naples where Linda and I were in January 2013. Eloquent Roberto Saviano struggled to find the words to describe, ‘to construct…an image of the economy’... picturing what ‘it leaves behind…as it marches onward’.
‘The most concrete emblem of every economic cycle is the dump (Ch.10 in Gomorrah: Land of Fires pp.282)…the true aftermath of consumption. The south of Italy is the end of the line for the dregs of production, useless leftovers, and toxic waste.’
From his confined world surrounded by security everywhere he goes Saviano writes tellingly of the fate that awaits unreasonable men and which I can see already being done to the dead at Charlie Hebdo...'There’s another fear, worse than anything else. It’s the fear of being discredited. It’s happened to everyone who has ever been killed for what they believe in. It’s happened to everyone who has reported crimes or told uncomfortable truths. They did it to Don Peppe Diana, the priest who was shot dead in Casal di Principe in 1994 for preaching against the mafia and threatening to refuse to give the sacraments to Camorra members.' Well organised crime doesn't involve, most of the time having to go through the messy business of killing people. You pay off those you can bribe. The others - the brave and principled - you discredit; make it look, to shallow opinion, as if their target is actually involved in gang activity, that all he or she seeks is celebrity, that this is a child molester, drug-dealer, or whatever's currently the worst to be in public dis-esteem. It's easy enough isn't it? My god! I read a comment on the Saudi whipping of Raif Badawi - another 'unreasonable man' - for blogging about free speech and secularism; arrested in Jeddah and charged with 'insulting Islam through electronic channels' and 'going beyond the realm of obedience'. "He knew the rules in Saudi. What did he expect?"

Note BBC newsletter on whether it has been or is always unacceptable within Islam to depict the Prophet. There are different rulings between Shia and Sunni.
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While thousands demonstrate for tolerance and decency in a hyper-diverse Europe, other movements have been afoot gaining support...
When up to a dozen world leaders and roughly 1.5 million people gathered in Paris on Sunday to mourn the murder of 10 editors and cartoonists of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and seven other people by three French-born Islamic radicals, they wanted to demonstrate that Europe will always embrace liberal and tolerant values.
But the more telling event may turn out to be a counter-rally that took place at a 17th-century town hall in Beaucaire, France, that was led by Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front. In Beaucaire, the crowd ended Le Pen’s rally by singing the French national anthem and chanting, “This is our home.”
Le Pen is at the forefront of a European-wide nationalist resurgence — one that wants to evict from their homelands people they view as Muslim subversives. She and other far-right nationalists are seizing on some legitimate worries about Islamic militancy — 10,000 soldiers are now deployed in France as a safety measure — in order to label all Muslims as hostile to traditional European cultural and religious values. Le Pen herself has likened their presence to the Nazi occupation of France....
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Meanwhile in Handsworth in Birmingham - a Monday of street cleaning with Handsworth Helping Hands volunteers with neighbours in Hutton Road
Waseem, Carol, Denise, Hendrina, Mahmood, Mike, John, Ruth, Jimoh, Linda, Simon & Oscar dog (photo: Waseem Zaffar)

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