Monthly Archives: January 2014

Why is such a newspaper allowed to exist?

I’ve been thinking for quite some time now to start posting the front pages of what is probably the shittiest newspaper in Greece. It’s called Eleftheri Ora (Free Time?) and it’s the single most antisemitic, conspiracy-loving, anti-immigration, nationalist piece of toilet paper circulating in Greek news stands. It has a very low circulation (maybe some hundreds) but, still, it is there in its effort to spread all kinds of bullshit ideology, urban legend, conspiracy theories and general crap.

Today’s cover made me finally start this column in my blog where I shall be posting their front pages so that you can see what kind of newspaper Eleftheri Ora is. I will be using the same comment at the end of every post about this newspaper, “Why is such a newspaper allowed to exist?” since such a paper would be banned or fined to death in probably all the countries of Europe. I’m not really into banning things, I am the romantic guy who believes that an educated society can reject racist ideology or stupid antisemitism. But Greece, like the rest of EU, has the relevant laws that would forbid a paper like this to be published, hence the question; Why is such a newspaper allowed to exist?

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Today’s front page (on the top) has a headline saying “All young Greek women who had sex with Albanians are at risk for cervical cancer – 75% of Albanians examined had Hepatitis!!!”

From now on, I shall place all posts on Eleftheri Ora under the category tag “WTF” which can also be found on the menu bar.

One Sunday morning

Good morning!

One of my girlfriend’s Facebook friends posted this photo at 6.30 this morning.

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Patras, Greece. 19/1/2014 Photo by Dimitris Gkioulos

Dimitris Gkioulos wrote next to the photo: Two hours ago, a woman living across the street from where I live was burnt from a fire created by a heating device. I woke up to her desperate cries “Fire! Fire!”. Now let’s calmly continue our day…

Due to the continuing austerity and the ridiculous tax on heating oil, people in Greece are forced to use cheap and often dangerous ways to heat themselves during the winter. Burning wood in fireplaces or even braziers has been the solution for many of them. As a result, the extensive use of firewood has caused tens of deadly accidents so far and, in the case of areas surrounded by mountains like the Athens basin, it is also responsible for the phenomenon of smog. See my post here (“Greece is on fire or the alter of austerity“) for more on this topic.

Meanwhile in Athens, the smog keeps haunting the city. I’ve even noticed that the traditionally minimalist weather reports are now enriched by a new qualitative index. Smog risk. In the UK you have the windchill factor, in Greece we have the smog risk. A number working in the subconscious, telling you whether you can exercise in the open air, dry your washed clothes outside or simply take a stroll in the local park for some fresh air.

Some days ago, early one morning, I took these photos. This is how smog looks like on a bright sunny day in Athens.

Update: I just noticed that there was also a relevant blog post about the fire accident in Patras. Here’s the link and here’s the translation:

4am in the morning and you jump out of your bed to a desperate cry “Fire! Fire!”. You go out to the balcony and you see this [see photo above]. And then the neighbours tell you about yet another brazier next to you, yes another victim, a woman. I didn’t ask what was her name, how old she was, if she had friends, children, grandchildren, dreams or just pills and stress about her pension. I was ashamed. That’s what it was. And when I returned home the air was smelling burnt flesh. Your fucking culture…

ps. She was 62 years old. Yet another victim (the count is lost) of the undeclared war. The war is always a class war but, right now, we must just shut up.

Apple buys Greek island of iOS?

A hilarious thing happened to me yesterday. A foreign photojournalist asked me whether Greece has sold any of its islands in its effort to reduce its debt. Before I answer he said “Oh yes, it has sold one indeed. I’ve read a year ago that Apple bought a Greek island. And they then renamed it after its operating system for iPhones!” [ie iOS]. I started laughing and told him that this is not a true story but he didn’t believe me. I told him that this was definitely some kind of internet hoax, that the government can sell only small, tiny, uninhabited islands and that the Greek island of Ios, which exists indeed, has inhabitants who have been owning properties on the island for generations and that they wouldn’t sell them collectively to Apple. He understood the logical argument but he still didn’t seem eager to believe me. “But I’ve read it somewhere, I’m sure about it!” he insisted.

For the history of it, Ios is an island of 2.000 inhabitants in Cyclades island complex. It has always been called like that – according to Herodotus Ios is the burial place of Homer.

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A map of Cyclades islands (detail from a 1785 map by English map maker William Faden). Ios was called Nios at that time.

I posted this incident on my Facebook profile and kept laughing all night with the comments of my friends. We noticed that near Ios there is also the island of Milos (Milo in Greek is the word for Apple). We imagined some smartphone competition with another Cycladic island, called Andros (for Android users). And that IKEA might soon buy the island of Kea. All real, inhabited islands bearing huge marketing possibilities for the global brands. One of my friends spotted that the Ios hoax comes from an April fools’ day joke of a Swedish website (of Dagens Industri financial newspaper), published in April 2012. They were even joking about Magganari, one of the islands most famous beaches, being renamed to iBeach.

During our work with the photojournalist we interviewed a Greek woman who was saying that the crisis is in South Europe only for the moment. That the northern countries will soon have their own financial crisis and all the goodies that come with it. And then I imagined Finland in crisis. Desperate for cash to repay its debt and having its already high suicide rate quadrupled by the economic turmoil. And then, the Finnish state will decide to sell its province of Karelia to a Greek tobacco industry who will liberalise smoking laws, allowing a fag even during open heart surgeries.

Ultra Low