Saturday, November 03, 2012

Ομιλία της Ηλέκτρας Κούτρα σχετικά με το πρόβλημα των μεταναστών #NoJusticeGr

This is a speech by Electra Koutra about the refugees and the conditions they are held in Greece. The speech is in Greek but translated and transcribed below.

At the end of September 2010, the UN High Commissionaire for Refugees spoke of the situation in a European country using for the first time ever the term “humanitarian crisis”.

These are cases I’m handling. Afghan refugees, Hazaras, one of the planet’s most suffering ethnicity  The conditions in which these people enter Europe and are detained and the living conditions after their detention are considered to be, legally speaking, inhuman and degrading and as such they are forbidden by article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights hereafter referred to as ECHR. Here we can see some families. It is an activist project I’ll tell you about later on.

Let me introduce you to the subject. Europe is an attractive destination for refugees exactly because it guarantees specific rights to them by means of its legislation and international commitments. This practically means that all EU member states provide in their legislation – International, European and member state laws alike- that since a person claims to be a refugee that is, enters an EU country and asks for asylum – we, Europe, are supposed to be a safe ground for refugees- that country is bound to offer the so called “reception conditions” which include providing a shelter, food, clothes access to healthcare and education structures, access to the labour market, interpretation, legal aid.

This is the package that an EU member state is legally bound to offer as reception conditions to any asylum seekers who enter its territory since the very moment they claim to be refugees and ask for asylum regardless of the fate of the claim. In Greece these things fall under legislation as much as under imagination. By no means can this happen here.

To be more specific we have a reception capacity of 900 people 900 beds let's say while the refugees here those who have already applied for asylum, the so called "backlog" are at this very moment about 55,000. And it is estimated that twice as many, i.e. another 100,000 people have entered the country, live among us but have not yet managed to gain access to the asylum procedure that is, they haven’t even managed to apply for asylum and they live next to us in extremely harsh conditions since no right of theirs has come into force – not even “in papers”. So they wait in the row to ask for asylum or, practically, they wait for a chance to escape Greece and seek refuge in another EU country. So, this is how it is.

However, what is oxymoron, and I want to talk to you about it today is that, at this very moment Greece is handling 90% of EU’s refugee flows. Yes, that is actually true. This happens because yes, of course, we are a small, poor country at the EU borders. Before telling you why this is happening I should first mention something that many of you are not aware of: In Greece 99.96% of all asylum claims are rejected. Yes, 99.96%. 99 point then 9 and then 6. A huge divergence from the average rejection rates in the EU countries, right? This practically means that not Greece, but EUROPE has no asylum today given that the critically vast majority of refugees who choose Europe as a land of Refuge are stuck here.

So there is no Asylum in Europe at this very moment. And I am saying this openly. One does not have to be an expert to understand it. 90% of Europe’s asylum seekers are stuck here, where there is no refuge. And then they are refouled, directly or indirectly, to their countries of origin. I won’t go into legal details. So, we have this difficult issue. The question is what we can do about it. Oh, let me first mention that the situation is aggravated by the fact that IF an asylum seeker manages to leave Greece for another European country the Europeans will send them back to us. They put them in special flights and send them back to Greece in order for their asylum claim to be processed by the Greek authorities.

This happens because of a European legislation. I’m saying that because besides the fact that Greece has the EVIDENT responsibility for what is happening there is also a sheer responsibility of the other European countries and there is also a clear responsibility of Europe’s institutions. So, a European Regulation has been voted whose name is "Dublin II" defining which member state is to examine an asylum claim submitted in Europe. And THAT state, according to the Regulation is the EU state that the asylum seeker first entered and, in 90% of the cases that state, is once again Greece because of its geographical position. This is how all these desperate people are stuck in Greece. Hardly any of those wishes to remain in Greece, because it is natural: they would be "pervert" to choose a life under these circumstances.

To introduce you to the solution, I will first tell you a story. The meaning of my presence here is to tell you that when governments don’t do certain things –which they should civilians CAN do them instead. And that’s the concept of my presence here. A couple of months ago – as I mentioned earlier, I’m not saying things the way I had planned to - the Finnish Asylum Agency paid me a visit. They had come to Greece to check out the reception centers and, instead, they found the detention centers we have in their place. They had met with a couple of concerned institutions including the Hellenic Action For Human Rights whose I’m honoured to be the President in their effort to be informed about the condition of the refugees by our legal department – unfortunately it comprises by myself only and I wish there were more of us in it. All 18 people who visited me at my office were visibly shocked by the conditions they came across and the way we treat the refugees. And they did nothing to hide their shock.

Then a strange thing happened: although at my public interventions I am kind of harsh about the crimes that the refugees undergo I unexpectedly felt the need to defend Greece. It was as if I was the accused in an international court of law knowing I was guilty but there existed some very important extenuating circumstances in my support which I had to present and fight for. One of those was the complicity of my very judges.

So at that point, a bit upset as I was with their rebuke for they were talking about our "crimes" I asked them how many refugees enter Finland per year that beautiful, prosperous, well-organised and model country in asylum matters. Their answer was: "No more than 4,500". “Give me a break, guys. That’s as many as we get in 10 days”, I said which was every one to two weeks back then. "And you can see that these people live in conditions that are forbidden by the third article of the ECHR i.e. these so-called inhuman and degrading conditions which we, all EU countries, guarantee that something like that will NOT happen to anyone within our territory OR within our jurisdiction!

While saying that, I followed my own train of thoughts to realize that we can also find a state's jurisdiction in its embassy abroad. I went on to say: "What would you do if I took all those people from the parks where you witnessed them living deprived of everything and brought them to the embassy of Finland?

You are a public agency yourselves and you know what happens -the “crimes” you said are being committed. So, what would you do if I asked you not merely for asylum because you could reply it is not provided by your national legislation but for a humanitarian visa for asylum-related reasons? Why? Because otherwise these people will be exposed to the conditions you condemn. We all do so, much as sometimes there are no means to face a situation. But you can, can’t you? That caused quite a stir. The head of the delegation literally mumbled that nothing like that had ever happened before - but it has asylum requests to embassies, in the army and aboard ships have been applied again - anyway, "it has never happened", he said "and in any case we couldn’t deal with such high numbers".

Of course they couldn’t -and shouldn't- deal with these numbers for no EU country should be left ALONE to deal with these numbers! This is a European matter, it is of common interest and it should be handled as a matter of shared responsibility. As a matter of fact, the Regulation itself speaks about burden sharing and solidarity. The reality is nothing like that the other EU countries return refuges to Greece despite the 700-odd appeals to the European Court for Human Rights for interim measures, that have suspended removals of asylum seekers. Those who had the chance to do so presented their case to the European Court of Human Rights and were not returned to Greece. The Court estimated they would probably be in danger here. Each country is autonomously responsible for refugees not being endangered by their removal. And despite the appeal of Mr. Hammarberg's himself the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights who said: "DO NOT return refugees to Greece" and "Dublin II Regulation should be immediately suspended" until it is finally abolished and we have come up with a way to reasonably handle this phenomenon. Because human rights are blatantly violated in this case.

Nevertheless, other EU member states return refugees to Greece where they certainly know they will suffer such violations. So that was when this activism began the very same afternoon if not 5 minutes after they walked out of my office- i started looking for the legal meaning of "jurisdiction" so as to be certain that this can happen if an embassy is surely within the jurisdiction of the sending state if i can do that thing, take the refugees there.

You see, I'm very close to these people's suffering so I could see a solution there. And, legally speaking, it is a solution. There is a clear legal basis on that the embassy’s territory falls under the administration of the embassy's country. Visa issuing is undoubtedly within its jurisdiction. I am asking them to issue visas for the refugees and protect them by keeping them into the embassy and not letting them back out in the streets of Athens because, as I'm telling them, this would legally equal to returning them to Greece by plane that is, exposing them BACK to the violation which we all have GUARANTEED to prevent.

However, none of that has been accepted. We have been to many embassies. The claims to the embassies are not over yet but we've already had the first written rejection so now we can and will go to the European Court for Human Rights. This time - and that's the interesting part - we are not against just Greece although it is exactly because Greece is violating the ECHR that the other state is also in fundamental rights' violation. So, this time we are against the state of the embassy too thus taking a little step towards honesty and towards assuming our responsibilities. All Europeans. It's not over yet.

Let us see some pictures again These are 24 refugee families typical refugee cases in terms of ethnicity, they belong to one of the most vulnerable ones on the planet. 723 of these families include children and one is an unaccompanied minor who regularly, 2 to 3 times a week gets raped at the park where he lives. These are our children, who we take to the embassies where they are not welcome. To be honest, we did not expect an embassy to officially keep them because that would be a move of diplomatic significance but they could, even off the record, have protected them until announcing the official response. No, they asked them to leave and we already have the negative answer. We are waiting for others too. In every single such rejection we will be turning to Strasbourg's Court and, whatever the outcome this is a situation that may sensitize and may also force people face their responsibilities. At the same time I should say a few more things about these people.

All of them are families that entered the country at the end of last summer passing through the borders at Evros. There The UN Commissioner could not perform its autopsy in detention centers. It was impossible because of the filth. These people are there with their children. They are detained there, some for a few days, others for more. Fortunately, not for too long. The refugees are so many that they can’t keep them. Imagine that many of them are kept in police station yards. I don't know what they'll do with the cold weather. Fundamental human rights are being violated not only for the refugees, but for the police officers too. There is no doctor –officers are in danger too; the refugees are so many and detention conditions are so cruel that at some point they will even be lynched. They use the same unsafe vehicles that the refugees are transferred with.

Anyway the problem is systemic. It’s not only one group that is suffering; Greece is suffering as well. Just imagine those 450 people who enter Athens every day holding a small paper that says: ‘Agios Pandeleimonas’ or ‘Plateia Attikis’ square in Athens, that still has "room" for them. Just imagine them entering a small city flooding in its few streets and squares, without access to asylum. They are like goasts in the Greek state. Imagine them in a small city, sleeping in parks without food, without a job, no rights whatsoever. Just think that only those who entered the country in 2010 equal the population of Volos, the fifth biggest city in Greece. So, these are some of these families very vulnerable they are in danger because they are Hazaras, just because they belong to an ethnicity. It is something that they couldn't change. If we send them back they will get killed for their ethnic origin is very obvious on the features of their face. Here they are near Omonoia Square, waiting for their meal. They're already there early in the morning but they eat around noon if they are lucky enough to get a meal - and that's the only one in the day. They haven't got a place for a shower, they live in the parks and their living conditions are humiliating. I don’t want to depress you. It is positive that something can be done about this. At the same time - and this can be far more dynamic than the embassy activism - which is kind of a "law trick" - but one with a proper basis - and I believe that it will probably have a good "fate'. We have also worked out a project, one to-the-point proposal that could become European legislation. And what does this proposal say? What should be happening to refugees when they enter Greece. Where to go, how to seek asylum and how to be forwarded to other EU countries. Because the issue here is NOT to stop Europe from returning refugees to Greece. Actually, this is the debate in Europe. This is what we are supposed to be striving for. But what does really matter? Those 100 people per month who are sent back? Those 10,000 who are waiting to be returned but haven't been yet?

THAT IS NOT THE ISSUE! The real issue is that it is actually impossible to seek asylum in Greece. Even if an asylum seeker manages to apply Greece cannot guarantee asylum seekers' rights. It is impossible! So other EU member states MUST acknowledge that and decide what they are going to do about it. They must understand that "NO REFUGE IN GREECE" means "NO REFUGE IN EUROPE". They must put the record straight about it all. Laws are not just a show-off. They must be applied. Otherwise, if they wish to they will have to suspend the relative international conventions all of which, though, are related to the "image" of the rule of law and admit: "We do NOT accept refugees in Europe!" instead of saying: "Greece stinks!". "Europe is NOT a land of refuge any more!". We know that it's not, but they should admit it! That's the point. Otherwise, they should assume their responsibilities which is something they can do rather easily.

Political will is needed, of course. As far as political will is concerned and the proposal we have worked out, which is like a draft law concerning what will be happening after the entry of an asylum seeker in the EU and how refuges will be resettled in other EU countries instead of being flown back to Greece. Upon entering Greece, and since they are on EU ground the refugees will be the ones to choose the country to process their claim and the ONLY reason why that country will refuse access to its territory will be their refugees' settlements being overcrowded to the point of threatening the refugees’ rights.

So, this is a new model a different perspective on the situation that could bring about an immediate solution. The interesting part here is how the civil society can be activated and how magic is its meeting with the information society In today's context with the clever social networks and the internet the proposal we have worked out or even just one specialist could have invested time on it saying proudly: "I can solve the problem on my own"."Just on my own." "I will do it! I can!" Even this could turn out to be European legislation a proposal which is called "citizens' initiative and is about drafting a law and addressing it to EU institutions within a matter of just a few hours! It would only take 1,000,000 votes i.e. signatures of citizens residing a competent number of EU member states. You probably realize that, on a European level is a very small number allowing you to validly promote your draft law to the EU institutions and just tell them: "Here it is!" thus forcing them to examine it. So that is happening at the same time as our embassy activism. End of time, isn't it?

I have to finish, so I'd like to tell you that maybe if each one of us was "activated" in this way we would be able to see the European Union in action not only as a monetary union or as something imposed on us but as a Europe of its Citizens a Europe just as what it claims to be a place of security, of peace of Justice even a place of common dreams. I mean, if every single one of us is personally involved and activated one will be able to see common goals being achieved. And I truly believe this!

All the best to you. Thank you!


Friday, November 02, 2012

Beautiful and strange country - Όμορφη και παράξενη πατρίδα

Lyrics: Odusseas Elutis
Music: Dimitris Lagios
First version: Giorgos Ntalaras

A beautiful and strange country
like the one that luck gave me, I 've never seen

He throws the net to catch fish. he catches birds,
he sets a boat on the ground, a garden in the water,
he cries, kisses the dirt, migrates,
ends up by himself**, he becomes a man

A beautiful and strange country
like the one that luck gave me, I 've never seen

He tries to grab a stone, he throws it away
he tries to poke in it, he makes miracles
he takes a little boat, he reaches the oceans
he asks for a revolution, he asks for tyrants

A beautiful and strange country
like the one that luck gave me, I 've never seen

Στίχοι: Οδυσσέας Ελύτης
Μουσική: Δημήτρης Λάγιος
Πρώτη εκτέλεση: Γιώργος Νταλάρας

Όμορφη και παράξενη πατρίδα 
ω σαν αυτή που μου 'λαχε δεν είδα 

Ρίχνει να πιάσει ψάρια πιάνει φτερωτά 
στήνει στην γη καράβι κήπο στα νερά 
κλαίει φιλεί το χώμα ξενιτεύεται 
μένει στους πέντε δρόμους αντρειεύεται 

Όμορφη και παράξενη πατρίδα 
ω σαν αυτή που μου 'λαχε δεν είδα 

Κάνει να πάρει πέτρα την επαρατά 
κάνει να τη σκαλίσει βγάνει θάματα 
μπαίνει σ' ένα βαρκάκι πιάνει ωκεανούς 
ξεσηκωμούς γυρεύει θέλει τύρρανους 

Όμορφη και παράξενη πατρίδα 
ω σαν αυτή που μου 'λαχε δεν είδα

Thursday, November 01, 2012

What if

What if home is not home any more?

What if the country you were born in and lived most of your life was only a figment of imagination and the truth was much uglier?

How much of this ugliness is yours and how are you responsible for the situation? 

Where do you go from here? I am scared and ashamed. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No surgery for me today...

I was scheduled have laser eye surgery today but didn't do it. I am sick with a cold, nothing serious just the usual: runny nose and sore throat but unfortunately the doctor said my eyes are too dry and sent me home. So my four days off were for nothing and I have to reschedule. Oh well ...  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Πότε θα κάνει ξαστεριά - Νίκος Ξυλούρης #NoJusticeGr

Στίχοι: Παραδοσιακό
Μουσική: Παραδοσιακό
Ερμηνεία: Νίκος Ξυλούρης

Πότε θα κάμει ξαστεριά,
πότε θα φλεβαρίσει,

να πάρω το ντουφέκι μου,
την έμορφη πατρόνα,

να κατεβώ στον Ομαλό,
στη στράτα του Μουσούρου,

να κάμω μάνες δίχως γιους,
γυναίκες δίχως άντρες,

να κάμω και μωρά παιδιά,
να κλαιν' δίχως μανάδες,

να κλαιν' τη νύχτα για νερό,
και την αυγή για γάλα,

και τ' αποδιαφωτίσματα
τη δόλια τους τη μάνα ..

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Χρυσή Αυγή = Μαύρη Νύχτα #NoJusticeGr

Θα μπούμε στο Ράιχσταντ για να εφοδιαστούμε από το οπλοστάσιο της Δημοκρατίας με τα όπλα της. Θα γίνουμε βουλευτές για να εξουδετερώσουμε το πνεύμα της Βαϊμάρης, χρησιμοποιώντας το ίδιο. Εάν η Δημοκρατία είναι τόσο ηλίθια ώστε να μας δώσει το ελεύθερο και μάλιστα και βουλευτική αποζημίωση γι’ αυτά, είναι θέμα δικό της. Κάθε νομικό μέσο, μας είναι ευπρόσδεκτο για την ανατροπή των σημερινών καταστάσεων. Εάν πετύχουμε στις εκλογές να βάλουμε εξήντα έως εβδομήντα αγκιτάτορες του κόμματος στα διάφορα κοινοβούλια, μελλοντικά το ίδιο το κράτος θα εξοπλίσει και θα υποστηρίξει οικονομικά τον αγώνα μας. Και ο Μουσολίνι είχε μπει στο κοινοβούλιο. Κι όμως δεν άργησε να οργανώσει την πορεία προς την Ρώμη. Ερχόμαστε ως εχθροί. Όπως ο λύκος που πέφτει σε κοπάδι προβάτων, έτσι ερχόμαστε.

Γιόζεφ Γκέμπελς, 30 Απριλίου 1928
Η Γερμανία δεν ξεπέρασε ποτέ την ήττα του Πρώτου Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου. Οι όροι της ειρήνης ήταν εξαιρετικά επαχθής με αποτέλεσμα η οικονομία να μην ανακάμψει και ο λαός πεινούσε. Όταν εμφανίστηκε ο Χίτλερ ήταν ο σωτήρας που θα έβγαζε την χώρα απο την δύσκολη κατάσταση γιατί οι υπόλοιποι πολιτικοί δεν μπορούσαν. Ο λαός υπέφερε και έψαχνε απο κάπου να πιαστεί. Κάτι δηλαδή σαν την Ελλάδα του σήμερα. Έχω αρχίσει να φοβάμαι πολύ.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Disappearing London 01

Disappearing London 01 by AlexanderMacedon

Re: Δεν ανήκω εδώ

Δεν ανήκω εδώ << Ο άνθρωπος του μετρό
Ξένος είσαι εκεί που σου λένε ψέματα και σε κοροιδεύουν άρα ο τόπος σου είναι εκεί που σε σέβονται. Μην το ψάχνεις, αυτά που αγάπησες δεν υπάρχουν στην Ελλάδα αλλά ο κόσμος είναι μεγάλος. Κοίτα και αλλού. Κι αν η Ελλάδα έχει ομορφίες και αν έχει ιστορία υπάρχουν και άλλες πατρίδες όμορφες. Αν η Ελλάδα δεν σε θέλει, πίστεψέ με σου αξίζει κάτι διαφορετικό

Όλα μαζεύτηκαν στο μυαλό μου 
που πάει να σπάσει
Όλα μαζεύτηκαν στην καρδιά μου
και μ΄έχουν κουράσει
Φώτα έσβησα πόρτες έκλεισα
πριν τρελαθώ
Κάτι μέσα μου 
κάτι έσπασε δεν είμαι εδώ

Δε θα μείνω τη ζωή μου 
στους άλλους να δίνω
να πονάω δεν αξίζει
η καρδιά μου σελίδα γυρίζει
Μου ανήκει η ζωή μου
κι ότι αγάπησα με τη ψυχή μου
και για σένα και για μένα
είναι λάθος να ζούμε στο ψέμα
Δε θα μείνω

Όλα μαζεύτηκαν στη ζωή μου
και άλλο δεν πάει
Όλα μαζεύτηκαν στη ψυχή μου
κι απόψε ξεσπάει
Οτι έγινε και δεν έγινε
δεν μ΄αφορά
Όλα τέλειωσαν θέλω μέσα μου 
να΄μαι καλά

Δε θα μείνω τη ζωή μου 
στους άλλους να δίνω
να πονάω δεν αξίζει
η καρδιά μου σελίδα γυρίζει
Μου ανήκει η ζωή μου
κι ότι αγάπησα με τη ψυχή μου
και για σένα και για μένα
είναι λάθος να ζούμε στο ψέμα
Δε θα μείνω

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sometimes life sucks ...

Sometimes life simply doesn't work for you. In the last couple of days I discovered that:

  1. The test I submitted didn't cut it and I got an F. Thankfully I can rewrite it.
  2. My mobile phone died on me. I cannot charge it and I have to buy a new one.
  3. My computer needs a new antivirus
  4. My computer doesn't charge properly. 
  5. I need to diet. My clothes don't fit me any more.

Most of these problems could be fixed with money. Unfortunately I am a little sort on that at the moment.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

5 Creepy Things London Did to Prepare for the Olympics

On July 27, the London Olympic Games begin, and for 17 long days everyone on Earth will pretend to be interested in track. And for some reason, LOCOG (the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), normally responsible for ensuring that all the events start on time and all poles are properly vaulted, have instead seized their chance to change laws, build urban fortresses, revoke civil rights and swamp the streets with enough high-tech weaponry for an Iron Man sequel. It's all in the name of anti-terrorism and public safety, of course, but the London 2012 Olympics will be the most sinister sporting event ever held outside of Battle Royale, thanks to stuff like ...

#5. Surface-to-Air Missiles ... on Apartment Buildings

At some point during the planning stages of this sporting event, someone in the fetid bowels of LOCOG headquarters stood up and said, "So, we've got the sod laid and ensured that we have enough seating and bathrooms. Now, how many rocket launchers do we think we need?"

That's right: To protect the London Olympics, they're installing high-grade surface-to-air missiles ... on top of residential buildings.

While other Olympics contented themselves with Tasers and stern, disapproving looks, LOCOG security hurtled screaming past the event horizon of sanity and started transforming apartment buildings into launch pads. Ostensibly, the missiles are intended for use against low-flying aircraft, such as suicide-bombing planes or those goddamn pigeons from Mary Poppins. But the residents of the Fred Wigg Tower, and several other soon-to-be-weaponized apartment buildings, probably take little solace in the fact that they'll be hosting Starstreak missiles 10 feet above their living rooms. Because even if the best case scenario plays out and missile flames don't burn their houses down, they'll still have to deal with collateral damage from an intercepted target. The remains of any stricken aircraft will have no place to fall but directly on top of residential London, gently dusting the inhabitants with a fine layer of fucked. That's all assuming, of course, that it actually works. The newest Starstreaks have zero combat efficacy data, rely heavily on operator skill and might be foiled by bad weather.

But what are the odds of bad weather happening in a place like London?

#4. The Biggest Military Buildup in London Since World War II

During WWII, there were warships docked on the river Thames, right in the center of London. It was a sobering sight, having those war machines looming over a major metropolis. But those were dark days, requiring drastic measures: There was also an operating Royal Air Force base in the capital back then, and all air traffic control was taken out of civilian hands and given to the Ministry of Defense. That's exactly the sort of thing we'd expect to happen during the largest, most destructive war in human history. That's not exactly the sort of thing we'd expect from, say, the security team at a Ping-Pong match.

But apparently the London 2012 Olympics features some seriously, awesomely dangerous new sports, because all of those things are coming back for the first time since the Blitz. During the games, 13,500 troops will be deployed in London just for the run time of the Olympics -- that's 4,000 more than they had on the ground in Afghanistan in 2011. And these aren't the across-the-pond versions of the National Guard or anything -- Britain's most badass commandos, the Royal Marines, will be checking tickets at the shot put and waving around those little parking attendant glow sticks. Also, fresh from its last deployment in Libya, the HMS Ocean will be docked in the Thames.

That's the largest ship in the Royal Navy. Not to mention all the fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships and pilotless drones clouding the skies. On land, sea and air, it will be what the British government calls "maximum" military presence.

For the Olympics.

It's often said that the Olympic Games are a platform for a country to show what it's proudest of off to the world. If that's true, then apparently London is that creepy kid from middle school who invites you over to his house to look at his knife collection.

#3. Empty Roads for the Rich

It's an unfortunate happening, no doubt chock-full of enough wacky shenanigans to staff a Rob Schneider movie, but sometimes athletes have missed their events at past Olympics. But not this year: London has designated special lanes in the city not just for athletes, but for Olympics officials, people working for sponsoring companies and, hey, what the hell, anyone else rich enough to buy their way in.

Not allowed behind London's velvet off-ramps, however, are ambulances carrying such trivial things as blood for donations and elderly people in need of dialysis. True, ambulances carrying people in need of emergency medical care will be able to turn on their sirens and use the special lanes if they absolutely have to, but unless you're firmly heading toward the light, you'll just have to sit in the unmanageable Olympics traffic with the rest of London.

Do try not to cough on any of the McDonald's or Coca-Cola employees as they zip past you, laughing and sipping champagne while bombing around their 39 miles of VIP roadways.

#2. Big Brother Is Watching You (You, Specifically)

In Great Britain, everyone is a film star. That's because, while Brits are only around 1 percent of the global population, they're being watched by 20 percent of the global CCTV cameras. That's more camera surveillance than even communist China. But it's not enough to just have one camera for every 14 people at the London Olympics. So LOCOG is not just installing more surveillance equipment, they're also making it smarter.

The city of London is being wired up with a new range of scanners, biometric ID cards, number-plate and facial-recognition CCTV systems, disease tracking capabilities, new police control centers and checkpoints. All of which will now be under a central control, and yes, that is exactly as sinister as it sounds. This means the cameras are capable of tracking beyond one location -- no more frantically checking every screen, trying to pick up somebody who's walked out of frame. Because the computer does that for you. It can now track individual human beings from camera to camera and plot their progress, location and habits on a live, constantly updating map of Your Business.

And don't think you can get away in a lucky fog or sudden drizzle. CCTV isn't nearly as effective on days when it rains (which you'll remember from our hilarious accidental missile explosion joke earlier is every single day in London), so new thermal imaging technology is being introduced to the CCTV cameras. And not just to watch for suspicious terrorist behavior, like excessive hand wringing and sinister mustache twirling -- they'll also be used to prosecute people selling counterfeit Olympics goods.

That's right: They're arming Big Brother with Predator vision just to stop people from hawking unauthorized Wenlock shirts.

Because there's such an insane demand for merchandise of that adorable angry amorphous robot with the all-seeing eye. Kids just can't get enough of him; he's like Dora the Explorer ... if she were furious, a robot and always watching you.

#1. Berlin Wall 2: Wall Harder

The organizers of the London 2012 Olympics have surrounded the stadium with a wall, which is, yeah, probably not entirely in the spirit of nations crossing borders to come together as one world community. But it's just a stupid wall, right?


Except that it's 11 miles long.

Oh, also it's electrified; touch it and you will get a 5,000-volt shock.

And it's a uniform six meters in height across its entire length, more than two meters taller than that puny one in Berlin.

And it's going to be patrolled by those 7,500 Royal Marines, unmanned drones, 55 dog teams, 900 day/night surveillance cameras and 1,000 armed U.S. diplomatic and FBI agents on special assignment.

Which probably doesn't seem like that big of a deal to you, until you remember that these Olympics are not being held in an empty field 200 miles from society. They're right smack in the middle of one of the largest, most populated cities on Earth. Which means that the giant, imposing, electrified and locked down Barrier of Death that comprises one of the most militarized borders in history, rivaling even the DMZ and the infamous Berlin Wall ... runs right through your quaint little jogging path.

Read more: 5 Creepy Things London Did to Prepare for the Olympics |

Monday, July 09, 2012

Rules to remember in life

1) Forgive your enemies but remember the bastard's name

2) Money cannot buy happiness but it's more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than on a bicycle

3) Help someone when they are in trouble and they will remember you when they are in trouble again

4) Many people are alive only bacause it's illegal to shoot them

5) Alcohol does not solve any problems, but then again neither does milk.

Feel free to add your own at the comments ...

Sunday, July 08, 2012

In 200 BC by Constantine Cavafy

"Alexander son of Philip, and the Greeks except the Lacedaemonians--"

We can very well imagine
that they were utterly indifferent in Sparta
to this inscription. "Except the Lacedaemonians",
but naturally. The Spartans were not
to be led and ordered about
as precious servants. Besides
a panhellenic campaign without
a Spartan king as a leader
would not have appeared very important.
O, of course "except the Lacedaemonians."

This too is a stand. Understandable.

Thus, except the Lacedaemonians at Granicus;
and then at Issus; and in the final
battle, where the formidable army was swept away
that the Persians had massed at Arbela:
which had set out from Arbela for victory, and was swept away.

And out of the remarkable panhellenic campaign,
victorious, brilliant,
celebrated, glorious
as no other had ever been glorified,
the incomparable: we emerged;
a great new Greek world.

We; the Alexandrians, the Antiocheans,
the Seleucians, and the numerous
rest of the Greeks of Egypt and Syria,
and of Media, and Persia, and the many others.
With our extensive territories,
with the varied action of thoughtful adaptations.
And the Common Greek Language
we carried to the heart of Bactria, to the Indians.

As if we were to talk of Lacedaemonians now!

Στα 200 π.Χ. του Κωνσταντίνου Καβάφη

«Αλέξανδρος Φιλίππου και οι Ελληνες πλην Λακεδαιμονίων --»

Μπορούμε κάλλιστα να φαντασθούμε
πως θ' αδιαφόρησαν παντάπασι στην Σπάρτη
για την επιγραφή αυτή. «Πλην Λακεδαιμονίων»,
μα φυσικά. Δεν ήσαν οι Σπαρτιάται
για να τους οδηγούν και να τους προστάζουν
σαν πολυτίμους υπηρέτας. Αλλωστε
μια πανελλήνια εκστρατεία χωρίς
Σπαρτιάτη βασιλέα γι' αρχηγό
δεν θα τους φαίνονταν πολλής περιωπής.
Α βεβαιότατα «πλήν Λακεδαιμονίων».

Είναι κι αυτή μια στάσις. Νοιώθεται.

Ετσι, πλην Λακεδαιμονίων στον Γρανικό·
και στην Ισσό μετά· και στην τελειωτική
την μάχη, όπου εσαρώθη ο φοβερός στρατός
που στ' Αρβηλα συγκέντρωσαν οι Πέρσαι:
που απ' τ' Αρβηλα ξεκίνησε για νίκην, κ' εσαρώθη.

Κι απ' την θαυμάσια πανελλήνιαν εκστρατεία,
την νικηφόρα, την περίλαμπρη,
την περιλάλητη, την δοξασμένη
ως άλλη δεν δοξάσθηκε καμιά,
την απαράμιλλη: βγήκαμ' εμείς·
ελληνικός καινούριος κόσμος, μεγας.

Εμείς· οι Αλεξανδρείς, οι Αντιοχείς,
οι Σελευκείς, κ' οι πολυάριθμοι
επίλοιποι Ελληνες Αιγύπτου και Συρίας,
κ' οι εν Μηδία, κ' οι εν Περσίδι, κι όσοι άλλοι.
Με τες εκτεταμένες επικράτειες,
με την ποικίλη δράσι των στοχαστικών προσαρμογών.
Και την Κοινήν Ελληνική Λαλιά
ως μέσα στην Βακτριανή την πήγαμε, ως τους Ινδούς.

Για Λακεδαιμονίους να μιλούμε τώρα!

Κωνστταντίνος Π. Καβάφης (1931)

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Waiting for the Barbarians by Constantine Cavafy (1864-1933)

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn't anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city's main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don't our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people's faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.
And now, what's going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

Περιμένοντας τους Βαρβάρους του Κωνσταντίνου Καβάφη (1864 - 1933)

Τι περιμένουμε στην αγορά συναθροισμένοι;
Είναι οι βάρβαροι να φθάσουν σήμερα.
Γιατί μέσα στην Σύγκλητο μιά τέτοια απραξία;
Τι κάθοντ' οι Συγκλητικοί και δεν νομοθετούνε;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα.
Τι νόμους πια θα κάμουν οι Συγκλητικοί;
Οι βάρβαροι σαν έλθουν θα νομοθετήσουν.
Γιατί ο αυτοκράτωρ μας τόσο πρωί σηκώθη,
και κάθεται στης πόλεως την πιο μεγάλη πύλη
στον θρόνο επάνω, επίσημος, φορώντας την κορώνα;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα.
Κι ο αυτοκράτωρ περιμένει να δεχθεί
τον αρχηγό τους. Μάλιστα ετοίμασε
για να τον δώσει μια περγαμηνή. Εκεί
τον έγραψε τίτλους πολλούς κι ονόματα.

Γιατί οι δυό μας ύπατοι κ' οι πραίτορες εβγήκαν
σήμερα με τες κόκκινες, τες κεντημένες τόγες·
γιατί βραχιόλια φόρεσαν με τόσους αμεθύστους,
και δαχτυλίδια με λαμπρά γυαλιστερά σμαράγδια·
γιατί να πιάσουν σήμερα πολύτιμα μπαστούνια
μ' ασήμια και μαλάματα έκτακτα σκαλισμένα;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα·
και τέτοια πράγματα θαμπόνουν τους βαρβάρους.
Γιατί κ' οι άξιοι ρήτορες δεν έρχονται σαν πάντα
να βγάλουνε τους λόγους τους, να πούνε τα δικά τους;
Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα·
κι αυτοί βαριούντ' ευφράδειες και δημηγορίες.

Γιατί ν' αρχίσει μονομιάς αυτή η ανησυχία
κ' η σύγχυσις. (Τα πρόσωπα τι σοβαρά που έγιναν).
Γιατί αδειάζουν γρήγορα οι δρόμοι κ' οι πλατέες,
κι όλοι γυρνούν στα σπίτια τους πολύ συλλογισμένοι;

Γιατί ενύχτωσε κ' οι βάρβαροι δεν ήλθαν.
Και μερικοί έφθασαν απ' τα σύνορα,
και είπανε πως βάρβαροι πια δεν υπάρχουν.
Και τώρα τι θα γένουμε χωρίς βαρβάρους,
οι άνθρωποι αυτοί ήσαν μιά κάποια λύσις.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Immigrant or exile?

exile1. Enforced removal from one's native country.
2. Self-imposed absence from one's country.

1. A person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another.

I am not an immigrant - I am an exile.
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