News and Notes

Greece remains a reasonably common topic in the media because of the ongoing crisis there. Most of this news is, frankly, depressing–the economy has collapsed (26% unemployment), access to basic health care has been curtailed (or eliminated entirely for some), violence and crime are rising, a drug epidemic is sweeping the center, and social ties are strained, to say the least.

The price for heating oil has skyrocketed in Greece over the last two years (the government raised the taxes on heating oil 450% this fall alone), and now many residents are turning to wood burning for winter heat since they can’t afford the oil, which has affected the city’s air quality:

athens smog

On the drug epidemic in the center of Athens. The story  discusses the breakdown of the health care system in Greece as well as the nexus between the drug trade, immigration, and police corruption. The (drug) problem is strikingly obvious to anyone who walks around these neighborhoods.

Golden Dawn has now established ties with neo-Nazis in Bavaria and made its presence felt in Queens, NYC.

A call for real structural reform and introspection in Greece. Fair enough, and most Greeks are certainly aware of the need for reform (except perhaps the corrupt oligarchy that runs the country). But this is a challenging thing to do when the economy is imploding, families can’t pay heating bills, and the basic fabric of society is crumbling.

Panathinaikos–one of Greece’s two best soccer clubs–has fallen on hard times. The team is leaving Athens’ Olympic Stadium and returning to its original (and much smaller) one in the center, on Alexandras.

There has been a surge in violence in Athens led by leftist anarchists and right-wing fascists and evidence for police brutality keeps piling up.

See also this important story on police brutality, which details how tourists have been detained and beaten by the police in Athens. They were detained because of their skin color in the context of the “Xenios Zeus” operation. And F. Megaloudi notes here that most incidents go unreported because most Greek media are owned by the oligarchs who control the financial sector and have close relationships with Greek politicians. Journalists fear being fired for reporting such things.

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