Κυριακή, 11 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Greece today. In need of a spot of Drain-o...

The following is an article by Konstantinos Zoulas a reporter with the Kathimerini newspaper.
"Don't let any of the worms out!!!
"You buuuums!!!! Don't you dare step outside of these doors. Bums, you bums!!!
 Those of us who found ourselves at the Greek Parliament on Wednesday, covering the voting procedure, witnessed some incredible and hard to describe, scenes. The blonde lady who was screaming, while backed by dozens of her colleagues, also beside themselves, scaring us with their hooligan-style rage, inside the so called "temple of Democracy": "Geooorge, you go and barricade the other door!! Mitsos, you come with me!" shouted another. "None of those worms should be allowed out" agreed another lady, and the crowd kept getting bigger, surrounding the hall.

The "worms" as expected, looked scared, as the rebellious staff, reminded one of rats suddenly appearing n large numbers from everywhere, out of the closed "nests"of their offices, suddenly afraid that their "cheese" was in danger..

And when the first MPs showed their faces outside the Parliament hall, we reporters, were at a loss for words. It wasn't just that the staff was threatening to beat them up. The most shocking was the way they addressed them. Mr Chrisochoidis was suddenly "piss off", Michalakis", Mr Kammenos "Panoulis, you go and try those tricks elsewhere", Mr Kouvelis "Now lets see what your little party can do..." while our colleague Dim. Takis was slapped around for daring to lift his mobile phone in an attempt to save the  unprecedented mess for posterity's sake.

A little later a middle aged man, possibly their spokesman, beckoned to them and announced in a low voice: "Don't cheer, but we went to Vangelis, (meaning Mr Meimarakis, chairman of the Parliament) and what Stournaras will announce soon will allow us all to return to our desks."

You probably already know, how these hundreds of Parliament staff were appointed and what scandalous benefits they continue to get. All you have to do is take a look at the ultramodern daycare center set up inside the Parliament. Those of us there on Wednesday, felt that we were experiencing with frightening symbolism the reason behind the terrible plight our country is experiencing. It was as if suddenly our MPs had met "their match" in the faces of the exact people they had seen fit to appoint to cushy jobs within their "house"... That means their relatives, their "koumparous" (best men) and their fellow villagers. And for this we wondered if, at the end of the day, it really is impossible for those who got this country into its current state to be the ones who will save it from its fate...


A small note to explain some of the background for those not "in the know"...

Permanent staff at Parliament number 1340 people.
Add to that 1200 staff appointed and detached to various MPs offices.
Total cost of wages: 106 million euros. They receive two extra monthly payments making them the only staff in Greece to get paid 16 months a year!
A newly appointed staff member with basic education (ie cleaning staff) has a starting wage of 1900 euros.(net)
They have been repeatedly been exempt from various insurance changes and wage cuts.
They are pensioned off after 28,5 years of work and get a "golden handshake" equal to two monthly wages per year worked (100.000-150.000 euros)
Their insurance fund gets the benefit of all services housed in the Parliament (cafe/bar, restaurant, banking services) and also has the rights to the recycling.
The parliament also employs 74 special guards, but no one knows where they are posted.
Police officers stationed there get an extra bonus.
In the last five years the staff doubled! All the parties agreed silently to this.
Most of the staff are relatives of MPs, politicians, judges and policemen, while in certain cases even old politicians have been employed.
And many more benefits...
It is a commonly known "secret" that not all of the staff come to work. The reason is simple. If they did there would not be enough room for them.
For example there are not enough chairs. When someone gets up to go for a smoke, his place, behind a screen permanently stuck on Facebook, is immediately taken.

(The above details I got from another excellent article by Nikolas Vafeiadis, published on 26th of September 2010 and titled "In the depths of Parliament". It cost him his job.)

The scene described in the beggining, happened when the staff found out that the new memorandum, included cuts to their wages too (for the first time) Mr Stournaras is the Greek Minister of Finance.

My comment

I hate to say it, but there is no hope for Greece while these people remain in power. All the parties in our parliament play "the game". Whether Left, Right or Center they are just actors in a play set up to make the Greek people that someone is looking after their interest. Well they are not. The only interests they look after are their own, of their friends, of their relatives and of course, above all, of their "benefactors".
Even Syriza, the coalition of the left that looks set to win the next elections, is essentially what Greeks call "alli mia apo ta idia" (the same again) having had its numbers and votes sweled by the influx of renegade Pasok and various other party members who are looking to essentialy save their skins for another round of elections. Thay are all useless.
Greece's political system is like a blocked drain. Full of muck and ready to blow, showering shit all over everything. I just hope to God, that when eventually things settle down, there are enough people with enough brains and morals left to make good of a terrible situation. And that maybe we can live to see a new Greece, worthy of its history and people.

Peter Papageorgiou

Κυριακή, 28 Οκτωβρίου 2012

Greece vs Europe

(I should warn my readers this a sort of meandering post that started a while ago...and goes from one subject to another...I'm feeling a little pessimistic and it is not helping my writing...)

Having been born in England and grown up in Greece, I have often thought about the things Greeks have in common with Europeans and those that divide them. I was just going into my teens when we joined the European Union (known then as EOK). It was considered a great success on behalf of our politicians...

I still remember little snippets of conversations on the matter:

- "Greeks can never become Europeans"
- "Greeks don't want to be a part of Europe"
- "Being part of Europe will save us..."
- "Europe will support Greece..."

Well here we are 30 years later and it all feels like the lease has run out and we are potentially being evicted...

In 2006 I had the opportunity to travel to Luxembourg, visiting friends. On a day's outing in the car we would frequently cross a border or more, flitting from country to country, during the course of a day. Breakfast in Luxembourg, lunch in France, a late beer in Belgium, a quick run across one of the Moselle river's many bridges in order to say we'd been to Germany too...

For me this was where the idea of a United Europe really came to life.

Luxembourg was an eye opener. Very few obviously poor, one or two beggars in the streets, amazing schools, pretty clean cities, organised recycling, rubbish collection, the works.

One day we passed some roadworks and I saw the familiar steel rods in holes in the road with bits of tape tied to them and thought  "Myyy god, so dangerous, there must be a Greek overseeing the job..."

still better than here...

Yet further down the road along empty plots of land, I could see the pipes, cables and phone lines in waiting for development a few years or months later... seriously organised. I was stunned.

I remember chatting with friends trying to understand why we could not be Europeans. "Because Greeks cannot stand so much organisation", "Greeks are free spirits". "Greeks can never be just a part of the machine" (yes of course, I forgot they all want to be PMs...)

Yet, are things so different between us (well yes they are, but this is supposed to be an academic question so let it stand for a while...)

For example let's take one of those labels that the foreign press has liberally used against the poor, suffering  Greek people, of late...

Greeks are tax evaders. Well, yes they are. But so are millions of Europeans when they get a chance. How many rich Europeans keep offshore companies, yachts hidden abroad, or posing as charter yachts to hide their black money?
The rich tax-evade out of habit or greed. The poor do so out of need. And those Europeans, who do not tax evade, at least feel like they are getting something back . Good roads, good health systems, good schools, a government that may be as nepotist or corrupt as any Greek one, but importantly, keeps up appearances, at least to a certain extent. So the average European feels he is getting something for his taxes. And every now and then when someone slips up, he resigns and they get to feel a (potentially false) sense of justice, too. Things work and people keep quiet. Consumerism works and people keep even more quiet.

In Greece however all pretences have been dropped a long time ago.

The government wants taxes, the troika want taxes. But they are willing to give nothing. (not so much the troika as the government and all the governments before them.

I'll take a step back and give a few personal examples. In 2001, I paid 20000 euros income tax, when my income was supposedly 40000. (in reality half of this had gone back into the business in stock, but the system "caught me out")
As we were coming up to the Olympics then, I felt like a major sponsor and rightly so!

Throughout my business life I have paid more than 400000 in taxes and VAT. Yet I feel I have nothing to show for it. The roads are full of potholes, the hospital hasn't enough staff (at least it is next to my house now), the school my daughter goes to has not got enough classrooms so they rent 3 ex-bars from across the road, with no heating and not enough natural light. The school itself was built in 1952 and some of the windows are in such a state, the only solution was to screw them permanently shut! The Municipality doesn't have enough money to pay the streetcleaners, but it ca afford to spend 5000 euros on coffee a month! The list is endless... Corruption is rife...

At the same time, our politicians build villas, buy ever bigger cars and hold expensive weddings in France. Of course many tax-evaders do the same, at least the rich ones. The politicians and their cronies in the government share the loot, paid for by the average tax-payer (the guy who hasn't got enough money to hire the fancy accountant). While the average poor Greek is left trying to deal with Troika's demands for payment.

(Only last month I read about a businessman, mr Karouzos, with close ties to the government, (Mr Meimarakis is his koumbaros), who held a christening for his twins, in Crete, involving a chartered plane for the guests, chmamgne and caviar and may other extravaganzas! amomg the guests a public prosecutor. At the same time Mr Karouzos owed over 90.000.000 euros in fines for various tax frauds and omissions...)

Greece has been cursed. A beatiful country, full of good honest people, run by the worst and most corrupt politicians and system the world has ever known.

There is only one way to change this. Education. If people learn, it could be different.

All the above was written a few months ago. Today the 13th of October of 2012, Greece is still on the verge of bankruptcy, the Troika wants even more job cuts and pay cuts,  and to top it all off the ugly beast of Nationalism is rearing its head up, worse than ever...

I don't want to go into the current events... Golden frigging Dawn and the priesthood in hysterics over a Terence Mc Nally play, innumerous inconsequential matters, served by the totally corrupt media in order to keep the populace occupied with stupid matters, while the scene is being set for Greeks to lose everything they have...

I have bevome a little more cynic and pessimistic. There don't seem to be enough forward thinking people to make a difference. What could the consequences be?

I, and many others, fear that Greece, especially the urban centers will suffer greatly in the next few months. Already the price of heating oil is being hiked 30% up from last year. I for one will not be able to afford it. I'm switching to a woodburner and warmer clothes inside the house.
Since last September we set up a moneyless exchange of goods and services system, initially betwen friends but constantly expanding.

Last week I was in Athens taking part in the 1st Festival for Alternative and Solidarity-based economies. All over Greece alternative economies are sprouting, essentially barter, either direct or with the use of a virtual alternative currency.
The use of an alternative currency may sound complicated, certainly there has to be very good "book-keeping" but there is no interest involved and it is all based on good intentions... Imagine if currency were just a tool to facilitate exchange, and had no power. Remove interest and the possibility of accumulation and you have a tool by the people, for the people. And not a tool by the banks in order for them to make money and enslave people with...

Tomorrow it is the 28th of October. A National Holiday in Greece. As tradition has it there will be parades and flag-waving. Taditionally there always was a presence of government officials, high-ranking police and priesthood at the parades, all standing together under a pavillion, with the school-children parading in front of them, expected to turn sharply towards them as they pass and raise their hands in salute, showing their respect.

Since 2011, increasingly, kids have often opened their fingers in that familiar greek gesture of (dis) respect. Others have staged incredibly well executed exits from the parade or turned the other way.

 Have a look at 03:10 or so, to cut straight to the "chase"...hahah!!

In fact the phys-ed teacher in charge of the kids practice for the parade at a school that shall remain unnamed, essentially said to the kids, "I won't teach you what you are supposed to do to show respect, in the hope that the "officials pavillion" will be demolished by the crowd like last year".

Which brings me to last year...
I was there. After putting up this:

Ελευθερία η ΔΝΤ-Freedom or IMF , a play on the famous Ελευθερία η Θάνατος which was said during the revolution and has as many syllables as the lines in the Greek Flag...
 I joined my friends in the square, where as Dr Feelgood once sang "there's a riot going on.." The "minor state official" appointed to watch our parade, after being booed repeatedly, decided to take it upon himself and come and talk to the people booing him. This of course made them even angrier...a minor altercation ensued, the riot police moved in and the rioters were pushed back. Minutes later they regrouped and stormed the officials on their "pavillion" and managed to send them on their way in order for the parade to go on without their presence...
However our honorable Perifereiarchis, Mr Spyrou, managed to cancel the parade on his way out...

This year, today, the 28th of October, I watched the parade with the rest of the crowd... there were a few diehards shouting various anti-troika and anti-government slogans, and a very strong police presence.

At some point the antifascist protest march came up through the town to Pentofanaro, only to be met by a complement of riot police in full combat gear.

At the same time, most people were ther watching the parade, with their sunday clothes on, just like it was any other day...

In Athens the parade of schools (they hold a separate military one) was held in such a way that it was impossible for the parents to see their children marching. Such were the security measures... And in Thessalonika the military parade was watched only by officials...

More and more I feel that things are getting out of hand. Our completely corrupt government is passing law after law, taxing the poor to death. Only "the poor" are not those people you used to see sleeping on cardboard outside the train station anymore...

Greece's "poor" today, are your next door neighbour, your friend, their mother, their father... and tomorrow?

Most likely it will be us too...

Κυριακή, 27 Μαΐου 2012

Dreaming of Pirates...

My first childhood contact with the concept of Pirates, was through the story of Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Due to my name being Peter, I fantasized more about becoming the Pan himself than a Pirate...

Yet a few days ago there I was filling in my application to become a Pirate member and a few days later than that I am the Pirate Party's candidate for Corfu...

Why did I do this?

As some of you may know, I spent a large part of  last year, taking part in endless and varied conversations, in the "plateia", on facebook, and with many friends, all to do with the situation in Greece and possible solutions and proposals to get out of the "fix"... Certain themes kept cropping up again and again in these conversations, themes like Real Democracy, Transparency, Justice and Equality...

Since I was a teenager I had no great trust in elections. I don't consider we have ever been given any realistic choice. To make matters worse, the exisitng system has managed throughout the years, aided greatly by our indifference, to stack the odds in its favor, by voting in various ridiculous election by-laws. (An example of this is the fact that in the last elections, and in the 2nd electoral district of Athens, Syriza had a higher percentage than New Democracy, yet they got significantly less seats than them!)

I believe deeply that what we need is a change, not simply of government, but of the way the whole system works, even of the way we think.

The Pirate Party represents exactly this for me. The possibility of setting up something different, something "cleaner" and more fair to everyone.

Initially when I begun to read about it, when the Party was not yet set up in Greece, I found it a little strange.
There was no mention of their "positions"  as regards the "important national matters". And I got the feeling that the Pirates were more into "secondary"matters like digital rights, transparency, access to digital technology and copyrights.

I soon realised though that the "important national matters" are potentially not the ones that the usual media channels and newspapers make them out to be. In fact it is those "secondary" matters that are most important...

Being an active citizen, achieving full transparency in government, distinct separation of authorities (especially judicial), are the matters whose change will really change our lives.

Matters like "memorandum or not", "Euro or drachma" and "right or left", I am afraid are matters which are thrown at us in order to make us lose our time talking about them, while others make the decisions.

I don't in any way support that the memorandum and its apllication are not catastrophic for Greece, but neither can I say with any certainty whether we would be better of with the drachma than the euro.

What I would like is for us all to be able to decide together about these matters and not have others decide for us.

And that is exactly the reason why I have decided to support the Pirates in their campaign, to become a Pirate myself. Because this is a central part of the Pirate idea.

So I am a candidate to become an MP with the Pirate Party in Corfu.

I realise that most English speaking friends of mine probably don't vote in Greece, but I hope that those who know me and what I stand for, might put in a good word, only of course if you agree with the ideas...

Peter Papageorgiou

For those willing to find out more about the Pirate Party here a couple of links.

Pirate Party UK
Pirate Party Greece (in Greek)

Κυριακή, 13 Μαΐου 2012

Dear Europe...

Dear Europe,
I have finally decided to write you a letter. Your behavior the last few days, let alone the last few years (!) has been atrocious. You have shown very bad manners and terrible misjudgement.

You insisit that we accept these memorandums and loan agreements so that you may continue to lend us money that we apparently need to pay of our debts. You are upset because the elections last Sunday show that 2 out of 3 Greeks don't want to accept your memorandums and don't want your loans. You insist that they are misguided and you continue to hope that he politicians who ruined this country with your help, somehow have the legitimacy required to continue to rule it.

Well, Europe, I'm really sorry, but this is just not on...

You see , Europe, all this time you gave the country a lot of money to supposedly set up infrastructure and shore up the economy. The problem is Europe you gave the money to the WRONG PEOPLE. And now you want it back from me?

Dear Europe, I live on a small island in the Ionian. My house is only 5 minutes drive, away from my job. Yet in the short distance I cover to get to work, I see many examples of the stupid choices you made when handing out money and aid packages.

And by the way, Europe, who are these "markets"? I went to the market today and all I saw was a lot of fish and fresh produce. There was no money there to be marketed. Who could come up with such a silly idea, Europe? Selling money?

Money, dear Europe has no value. All it is a piece of paper. How can you sell it? And all this credit Europe. Where do you get it so you can extend it? Grow up Europe. You are playing games, but there are peoples lives at stake...

Europe, this has really got to stop. This experiment at the expense of the greek people has got to stop. Do you really want to see how far you can go? Do you really think the Greeks will take it sitting down? They have already shown a lot of patience...

And do you really think , Europe, that your own people, are not waking up? Europe, an excellent musician I very much like, once said:  "You can fool some people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all of the time" You should listen to that song, Europe. It's pretty cool...

In fact you should listen to a few of his songs... have a drink while your at it. Relax. Close your eyes and make believe you're lying on a beach, somewhere in the Mediterranean. Because you can only make believe.

Make believe money, make believe system, make believe banks, make believe jobs.

Fuck off Europe. Fuck off and leave me on my beach. It's mine, Europe. I'll fish off it and eat, I'll collect chorta and boil it and eat it. I'll share with your people, Europe, because they like me and I like them. But I'll not share with you, Europe. You don't play fair. I do not wish to be a part of your experiment.

Take your banks and your loans, your make believe money and make believe life and fuck off.

A Greek.

Παρασκευή, 17 Φεβρουαρίου 2012

Double default dilemma

Greeks are currently under extreme pressure. For the past months we have been bombarded with (mostly biased) information from the TV networks, both in Greece and abroad, but also by our "politicians", in an attempt to make us accept the fact that Greece is destined to become what looks, at first, to be a German run protectorate, but is more likely to be a country of servants to the European and World oligarchs...

Some Greeks said that this would happen, years ago...

On a political level we don't appear to have much choice. Our politicians are not interested in listening or heeding to what the people want. Last weekend hundreds of thousands hit the streets once more in protest to the austerity measures being voted in. TV networks consistently hide the number of people on the street by showing only footage of looted or burning buildings. The only real news is on the internet and to be found amongst friends. The rest is frankly bullshit.

So what are we supposed to do if they don't listen? The "conservative" voices (and I don't mean right wing, but conservative in a general way) say, wait for the elections. And here is one part of the dilemma. Because finally after years of it being only the extreme left wing who said it was so, the general public is realising that elections offer no solution.

The total of our existing parliament, even the left wing, communists, etc, is part of the game that has been played out in this country over the last 25 years or so. There is not a single politician who is not to some extent corrupt. Some of us who have read the second memorandum in its entirety, do accept that many of the measures included in it are correct, But how can we accept it to be implemented by the same bunch of corrupt politicians that brought us here in the first place. It would be like trusting an arsonist to put out the fire he started...

Greeks don't trust their politicians and they don'trust their political system anymore. Unfortunately they also don't have the "political" conscience that our ancient forefathers tried so hard to instill into everyone. Most Greeks are victims of messianism, waiting for some "leader"to save them...

They don't realise that it is the lack of control by the people on "authority" that leads to it's being abused at our expense.

And unfortunately, as the greek saying goes, "the fish stinks from the head down".

Just like our politicians are all corrupt so are a lot of the heads of the various public services etc.

Somehow we Greeks have to find a way to change the way that we are governed. A total reset is required...

The other dilemma we have been confronted with is the one thrown at us by our politicians and the so called "markets". Default and go back to the drachma or whatever or labour under a series of heavy austerity measures until 2020 (or more) in the hope that the economy may return to the level of 2009!!. In that year it was found out that the deficit was 120% which started us on this road to destruction. Even our PM couldn't find the balls to blatantly lie to us last Sunday, and say we would return to this number! Instead he said 120% or thereabouts (This morning the IMF announced it looks more like 129%!)

We are told that if we default it will be essentially the end of the world as we know it. But it already is!! There are a few voices who say this is not so, and I would chance it to say that a lot of Greeks agree. In any case, the feeling is better to go through hard times out of our own choice, and get through them by helping each other out as much as we can, than to accept to become a country of slaves to the German dream...

The problem is that nearly everyone feels currently as if they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Amongst the people on the street there is a widespread idea that in order to change, we have to change ourselves first. There are plenty of little inspirational slogans like "be the change you want to happen" etc. But our political system does not allow change. Elections are a dead end...

Will there be a revolution? I really wonder. I fear that there is still a large part of the population that are either too afraid to "free their minds" or have given up to such an extent that they can't be bothered to even think about it... For now they are not hungry, so it's ok... But I am afraid that as things get worse, there will be a stronger reaction. and unfortunately fear and hunger are not good advisors...

Greeks are a proud people. They (we) will never take this lying down. And in doing so I hope they will inspire people around the world to do so too.

The markets have ruled for too long...

Δευτέρα, 13 Φεβρουαρίου 2012

WTF is going on in Greece?

It is high time I wrote another article to update my english speaking friends on the current situation. In fact
I am way behind, but it has been a busy and eventful fall and winter...

Yesterday 199 Greek MPs voted in the 2nd austerity measures package which was a prerequisite in order for Greece to take advantage of the second bailout worth 130 billion (or, as some say has already been deemed necessary 145 billion!)

I am currently reading thorugh the memorandum. There is a lovely Greek expression that goes like this:

Θα σου βάλω τα δυό πόδια σε ένα παπούτσι!! which translates as I will put both of your feet in one shoe!

But bearing in mind Greece's love of bureaucracy if we were to compare Greece to a millipede due to its many many "feet" it is more like trying to put 999 feet in one shoe...

What it really means is I will put you in your place, I will make you do what you have to do...

And this is truly what the memorandum is. Mr Venizelos, our finance minister, rather candidly, and much to my amazement said at the beginning of his speech yesterday, that our European "partners" are essentially "neo-liberals" (why hide it?) and that they believe that neoliberalism has been a success in their respective countries. For this reason they wish to "show us the way" to apply neoliberalism in our country, in order for us to be successful too!

I read through the memorandum and I see quite a few proposals that would have been great for Greece (to a certain extent), if they had been applied years ago. But these measures NOW, when Greece has already suffered the failure of the first memorandum and lies stricken, in the deadly spiral of reccession, are not what we need.

We were "terrorised"by our finance minister and the Prime minister with the "terrible" specter of the return to the drachma. We were told that we will suffer the because there will be no money to pay wages, no money to import goods, no fuel (it is imported) no nothing. These are blatant lies. Yes we are sure that things will be difficult for a while, but I strongly believe that  most Greeks would rather go through a difficult time chosen
by them and with a visible end in sight rather than have a series of pointless memorandums full of good but unapplicable ideas, imposed on them by the same bunch of lying hypocrites who got the country messed up in the first place. And what is worse there seems to be no end in sight. Not even the Prime Minister could bring himself to say with certainty that the deficit would be below a certain level by 2020! He had to make do with saying "probably"!

I'd like to share a funny thing that happened to me yesterday. I was getting ready to take part in the protest and was looking for my wet weather gear as it has been raining for days and the same was predicted for yesterday evening. I couldn't finf mu "new" grey waterproof pants and grabbed an "old" yellow salopette I found in the wardrobe. As I went to stick my phone in the pcket, this is what I found...

I 'm going to take it as a sign...

By now you understand that I am one of those who believe that Greece would be better off going back to the drachma. Or even better coming up with something new! and if it was coin made by the people for the people's benefit and banks were not inovolved that would be even better... But i'll try not to daydream too much.

for the kind of clever solutions I believe in I would ask you to read this amazing story.

But why are greeks protesting so much if the memorandum is so good for them? Why are they out in the streets shouting for the polticians to step down? I wish I could offer a simple answer. I could go for the easy answer and say they don't know, they are ignorant or naive and they think they can just shoo away the politicians and their european counterparts just like they would some bloodsucking mosquitoes. But this would not be true.

Greeks are a proud nation. Greeks believe in things fiercely. To watch a couple of Greek friends have even a mild argument, is an excercise in keeping your cool. The funny thing is when they shrug at the end pat each other strongly on the back and wander off, for an ouzo or wine to continue the "argument".

One of my favourite Greek values is that of "filotimo" It means to be a friend of honesty. essentially to be honest, to do the right thing. "Filotimo" has become slightly "lost". And those who have lost it completely are the politicians. With very few exceptions, all politicians are corrupt. The few exceptions are really those who find themselves permanently in the minority, and mind you we are only talking about the really small ones!! All the rest have at least a few skeletons in their closets... As they say in Greece, "the fish stinks from the head [down]" and certainly greek bureaucracy is corrupt too. But the big money has been taken by the politicians ad=nd theoligarchy of media moguls and construction giants behind them.

So these corrupt politicians who for years skimmed the "till" or rather just stuck their hands in as far as they can go are justified in draughting up, voting and applying laws and memorandums that will cut Greece's already low wages and pensions even more, while at the same time their wages and benefits remain unchanged?
No way! They must either lead by example or leave.

I'm going to wrap it up somewhere her, but intend to come back with a little "analysis" on the political factions and groups currently on the streets and a little info about how things work in the riots...

But I would like to finish with a phrase I borrowed from an article of Mr Baxevanis, an excellent greek reporter.

He refers to the fact that greeks allowed corruption to run rife and also stopped using their better judgement when it came to making the necessary decisions. The phrase plays on the fact the word "crisis" (a greek word of course) means both crisis but also judgment (and that is where the english get "critic" from)

He says:
Για να φτάσουμε στην κρίση, έπρεπε να χάσουμε την κρίση μας. Μήπως για να βγούμε πρέπει να την ξαναποκτήσουμε;

"To get to the crisis we had to lose our judgment. Maybe to get out of it we have to find it again?"

and a video of the riots in Thessaloniki where you can get taste of how the riot police work against a peaceful crowd...