News and Notes

A couple weeks of news on Greece, archaeology, Turkey, and Cyprus:

More on helicopter prison escapes: even the Canadians are doing it now. The top five. And Greece’s most notorious, Alket Rizaj, failed in his latest attempt.

Underwater photos of the Antikythera shipwreck site.

Check out Kostis Kourelis’ posts on the architects of Corinth.

Pseudo-archaeology in the Holy Land.

A Der Spiegel interview with the new Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister, Ömer Çelik, over the ongoing spat between the Turkish government and German museums.

On Constantinople Greeks and their culinary culture in Faliro.

Several prominent politicians have been indicted and even convicted of corruption recently, including:

Akis Tsohatzopoulos, former defense minister and PASOK heavy weight.

And the former mayor of Thessaloniki and some of his associates.

Greece has been reclassified as an “emerging market.”

Layoffs in the public sector remain the third rail of greek politics and seem to have stalled the talks with the troika over the next loan disbursement.

Greece spends more as a percentage of GDP on its military than any other country in the EU, but military cuts there are still difficult to carry out.

Transparency International notes that the percentage of Greek households asked to pay bribes dropped for a fourth consecutive year. 70% of requests for bribes came from the public sector, with 45% of these from hospitals and tax and town planning offices at 13% each.

Sparta is getting a solar power plant, part of a broader surge in solar power in Greece.

Parliament voted 205 to 3 to allow the prosecution of Ilias Kassidiaris, a leading lawmaker for Golden Dawn, for assaulting two female leftist politicians during a live TV talk show.

There are big plans to revamp central Athens. They look great. I hope they work out.

Tourism, which counts for 1/5 of GDP, is rebounding.

Charts comparing Greece’s economic path since 2007 to the US’s during the initial years of the depression. Greece is worse off by comparison.

The Greek state remains hopelessly inept at collecting taxes.

Laughter yoga has arrived in Greece as a means to cope with the inescapable crisis. Yes, it’s real.

On the growing Syrian refugee community in Greece. Same story–arrests, detention centers, asylum denials, and beatings at the hands of Golden Dawn members and supporters.

And see The New Athenian for a thorough overview of the new citizenship law proposed by Nea Demokratia.

Cyprus is now enveloped in a crisis of its own, which is ongoing. The latest here.  And more here on Friday’s developments.

Jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan has called for a cease fire between the Turkish government and the PKK. There’s hope that this is a first step toward a comprehensive peace plan which meets the demands of Turkey’s sizable Kurdish minority (some 20% of the population) for full civil rights and a certain level of autonomy.

Context from the BBC. Many factors are involved, including upcoming elections, the Syrian civil war, and the growing economic ties between the autonomous Kurdish north in Iraq (now Turkey’s second largest trading partner after Germany) and Turkey.

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