Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Overpopulation Is Not the Problem? Really?

Last week, the New York Times published an opinion piece titled, "Overpopulation is Not the Problem." Written by Erle C. Ellis, an associate professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, the column dismisses as "nonsense" concerns that, "... by transforming the earth's natural landscapes, we are undermining the very life support systems that sustain us." Wow. That's a relief. When scientists around the world are warning that humanity is in danger of exceeding "planetary boundaries" and causing irreparable harm to the environment and its ability to sustain existing life forms, including human life, it is refreshing -- in the extreme -- to hear that we have nothing to worry about. While acknowledging that we live on a finite planet with finite resources, Ellis insists that there "is no such thing as a human carrying capacity." Other species on this planet suffer massive die-offs when their numbers exceed what nature can sustainably provide, but modern humans, according to Ellis, are an exception to that rule. Humans, in his words, do not have to "live within the natural environmental limits of our planet." In support of that bold proposition, he notes that at numerous times in the past 200,000 years humans have altered the natural environment so as to increase the carrying capacity for our species. When we hunted large animals to near extinction, we found ways to hunt and consume smaller species. When our hunter-gather lifestyles did not produce enough food, we domesticated animals and began growing crops. When traditional farming was not producing enough, we manufactured fertilizer and began irrigating our crops. And because we expanded our carrying capacity in the past, we can do so again in the future. However, as anyone on Wall Street will tell you, past performance does not guarantee future results. The fact that a value of a stock has doubled or tripled in the past does not mean that it can go on doubling or tripling on into the future. In nature, as in the financial world, there are limits to exponential growth on a finite planet. Sooner or later, what goes up ultimately comes down. And many times it comes down with a crash or a bang. Bubbles burst. So is there any danger that the human 'bubble' will burst? Ellis says, in effect, don't worry. "There is no environmental reason for people to go hungry now or in the future." In Ellis's worldview, we are gods who can shape the world to fit us, no matter how great the size of our population. He says, "The only limits to creating a planet that future generations will be proud of are our imaginations... " Such a view, of course, is not just silly, it is dangerous folly. The ancient Greeks had a term for it: hubris. The idea that our "imagination" gives us license to stop worrying about pumping too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or too much nitrogen into our oceans is ludicrous. Scientific advances may yet serve to limit greenhouse gas emissions or protect the oceans, but so far science has moved us in the wrong direction. Human ingenuity is, at best, a two-edged sword. Ellis insists that "The science of human sustenance is inherently a social science." More hubris. The idea that the "social sciences" will enable us to feed another 3 billion more people without inflicting further harm to the soil and water that we depend upon for our long-term survival is, sadly, laughable. Soil degradation and erosion, deforestation, desertification, and the depletion of underground aquifers are clear and present dangers to our ability to feed ourselves. We ignore them at our peril. Ellis concludes his opinion piece by saying that the "... the environment will be what we make it." Well, he is correct on that account: the environment is what we make of it... and so far we are making an enormous mess of it. Ellis, of course, is not the only person currently 'debunking' concerns about population and the ongoing destruction of the environment. Jonathan V. Last, who writes for the Weekly Standard, recently wrote a book ["What to Expect When No One's Expecting"] that urges Americans to produce more babies in effort to avoid a "demographic disaster." Just as there is a cluster of "climate-deniers," there are perfectly intelligent people who absolutely refuse to recognize the obvious: we are taking more from the Earth than the Earth can sustainably regenerate. Sooner or later, we will face a day of environmental reckoning that no amount of human imagination will manage to stave off.


Political Foes Unite Against Killing

The violent attack and murder were discussed in parliament, with the Minister of Justice Charalambos Athanasiou condemning the violence cultivated by Golden Dawn and that "with determination, the State will defend the rule of law and social peace". Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who was a resistance fighter against Nazis in World War II, said, "It is our duty not to allow any ...


Murder of Anti-Fascist Hip-Hop Artist in Greece Adds Fuel to Ongoing Labor Strikes

took to the streets in Greece's two largest cities on Wednesday , part of a broader series of labor union strikes and protests that began earlier this week.Joining secondary school ...


University of Alabama students march in wake of Greek system segregation ...

University of Alabama students march in wake of Greek system segregation (blog)Crowds of University of Alabama students are gathering on the school's campus in what they are calling the Final Stand at the Schoolhouse Doors, according to reporter Melissa Brown who is tweeting from the scene.and more »


Singer's killing spurs violence in Greece

One person, owing allegiance to far-right Golden Dawn party, arrested in connection with anti-fascist activist's murder.


Greek Cup to return with changes, more prizes

Cal State Long Beach’s second Greek Cup is right around the corner, arriving with a few tweaks designed to include cultural fraternities and sororities in this year’s competition. Last year, cultural fraternities and sororities felt out of ...


Greek public workers start 2-day nationwide strike

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Greece moves to ban far-right Golden Dawn party

Government to table emergency legislation after murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas at ultra-nationalist rally

The Greek government has hinted that it will seek to ban Golden Dawn after the far-right party was linked to the murder of a leading leftwing musician in Athens.

As violence erupted on the streets and demonstrators protested after the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas, a prominent anti-fascist, the public order minister, Nikos Dendias, cancelled a trip abroad saying the government would table emergency legislation that would seek to outlaw the group.

Amid renewed political tensions between the extreme left and right, the new law would re-evaluate what constituted a criminal gang, he said.

"Neither the state will tolerate, nor society accept, acts and practices that undermine the legal system," the minister told reporters, adding that the attack showed "in the clearest way the [party's] intentions".

Earlier in the day, police raided Golden Dawn offices across the country, with media reporting running street battles outside branches in Crete, Thessaloniki and Patras.

Voted into the Greek parliament for the first time last June, the neo-fascist Golden Dawn has been widely accused of employing violence to further its ratings in the polls.

The socialist Pasok party, the junior member of Antonis Samaras's two-party coalition, has campaigned openly for it to be banned, saying it should be considered a criminal gang.

The 34-year-old rapper died within minutes of being stabbed in the chest when he and a group of seven friends were set upon by around 30 black-clad supporters of Golden Dawn in the working-class district of Keratsini.

Eyewitnesses said the singer was stabbed several times by a man who suddenly appeared in a car after being phoned by members of the mob. The attack bore all the hallmarks of a premeditated assault, they said.

The alleged perpetrator, a 45-year-old man who was arrested when police rushed to the scene, later confessed to being a member of Golden Dawn. His wife, who was also detained, admitted having attempted to hide incriminating evidence, including party credentials linking her husband to the extremist organisation, when he called her, panic stricken, after the murder. Greek media cited police as saying the man was not only a sympathiser of Golden Dawn but visited its offices in Keratsini "five or six times" a week.

With parties across Greece's entire political spectrum condemning the killing, the far-right group vehemently denied it had any connection with the crime or the alleged culprit. In a rare intervention, the president, Karolos Papoulias, warned: "It is our duty not to allow any space whatsoever to fascism – not even an inch."

Fyssas, who performed under the stage name Killah P, would be the first Greek to have died at the hands of Golden Dawn, which until recently reserved its venom exclusively for migrants. Within hours of his death sending shockwaves through Greek society, the killing was being described as an "assassination."

Greece's third largest party and fastest growing political force, Golden Dawn currently controls 18 seats in the 300-member parliament. It appears to have been emboldened by its soaring popularity on the back of economic desperation.

In an atmosphere brittle with anger, uncertainty and fear, politically motivated violence has escalated, with the ultra-nationalists being blamed for attacks on communist activists last week and on a rightwing mayor in the south over the weekend.

Speculation is rife that the leadership of Golden Dawn may have lost control over a party whose grassroots supporters view themselves as soldiers in an armed struggle aimed at overthrowing a political establishment they blame for the country's woes.

"It is up to the government now to deal with Golden Dawn once and for all," said Giorgos Kyrtsos, a prominent political commentator. "We know very little about the inner workings of Golden Dawn, and whether its leadership has lost control [over its members]. But what we do know is that, for the first time, the government has them in a corner."

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Protesters, police clash in anti-fascist demos across Greece: media

Protesters clashed with police in anti-fascist demonstrations across Greece on Wednesday, sparked by the murder of a leftist musician by a suspected neo-Nazi, local media reported.


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Anti-fascist protests across Greece turn violent

KERATSINI, Greece (AP) — Violent clashes broke out in several Greek cities Wednesday after a 34-year-old musician described as an anti-fascist activist was stabbed to death by a man who said he belonged to the far-right Golden Dawn party.


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Hundreds Of University Of Alabama Students Marched This Morning To Protest Racism In Sororities

Hundreds of University of Alabama students, faculty, and staff marched this morning in protest of alleged racism and segregation in the school's Greek system.

The marchers held signs declaring "The Final Stand In The Schoolhouse Door," a reference to the 1963 "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" — former Alabama Governor George Wallace's failed attempt to prevent racial desegregation at the university.

The march comes a week after the Crimson White — UA's student newspaper — published a revealing expose of active attempts to bar black students from traditionally white sororities.

Protestors convened this morning at the steps of Gorgas Library, and marched to the Rose Administrative Building, where they were apparently joined by UA president Judy Bonner (seen in red below).

According to, Bonner plans to meet with the student organizers of the march to discuss their concerns.

Check out some pictures of the march below:

150-200 students for University of Alabama anti-racism rally. Pat D

— Alabama Public Radio (@ALPublicRadio) September 18, 2013

Stand at the School House Door 2013 #westand #uastands #standattheschoolhousedoor #2013 #60yearslater

— Morgan Daniels (@modaniels) September 18, 2013

And we march ... again! #UniversityofAlabama

— TMG (@MsTGoddess) September 18, 2013

#uastands #westand #againstracim

— Morgan Daniels (@modaniels) September 18, 2013


— A (@MeelMouse) September 18, 2013

100's of students and faculty on the steps if Rosé Administration

— Kelvin Reynolds (@Fox6Kelvin) September 18, 2013

Khortland Patterson speaking at @UAstands about the Greek racial divide at The University of Alabama #makechange

— Elisabeth Garcia (@LisGarcia519) September 18, 2013

Student leaders addressing Pres. Judy Bonner on steps of the Administrations office.

— Kelvin Reynolds (@Fox6Kelvin) September 18, 2013

Join the conversation about this story »



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Halba, Lebanon -Here, in the northern Lebanese district of Akkar, Catholic-Maronite, Sunni, Greek-Orthodox and Alawi villages are scattered all over the landscape. The Syrian border is a 15 minute drive to the north of the northern Lebanese town of Halba, and residents can hear shelling in Syria at night and episodes of sectarian strife occurring regularly. In Lebanon, religious dignitaries often give speeches on the inter-relatedness of the three Abrahamic religions, interfaith cooperation, solidarity and peace and love for everyone. Unfortunately such speeches are often just words. One recent event was different. Not just about words, it was about putting theory into practice in the face of a horrendous war raging just a few kilometres away by meeting face-to-face and urging communities to come together. During Ramadan this year, an Alawi Sheikh, a Sunni Mufti, a Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan and a Catholic-Maronite Monsignor, along with a group of over 100 Syrian refugees and 50 local Lebanese met to share a meal together. The unlikely group of diners gathered in front of a beautiful mountain top restaurant in the village of Miniara, near Halba for an iftaar (a meal after a day of fasting), showing that religious leaders and their communities can live in peace together if they want to. The group represented all major religious communities present in Akkar, and Syrian refugees who had arrived from Qusayr, Homs and other parts of the war-torn country just weeks earlier. And guests of honour included the Sunni Mufti of Akkar, the Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan of Akkar and Wadi Nasara (Syria), the Alawi representative for the Akkar district and a representative of the Maronite Archbishop of Tripoli. Out of the spotlight, but very much present, were refugees, both men and women of all ages and all socio-economic backgrounds: Moqtada, a math teacher who had his left leg shot to pieces three months ago; Hisam, the electrician with the sparkling eyes and firm handshake; Walid, 26-years-old and a star basketball player - if only he were not on crutches; Abdul-Karim, whose wife died on the 8-day march into Lebanon and who is now a single dad with 5 toddlers. Putting refugees together in one room with members of the Alawi community was no easy undertaking. The Alawis are often associated with Syrian President Bashar Assad's secular regime - one side of the violent conflict that has led many to flee Syria. And when the Alawi Sheikh stood up to address the room, with a member of his security team behind him, tensions in the room were palpable. And yet, the Sheikh's message of peace hit the refugees as sincere, and they applauded him, which seemed a bit like a miracle in itself. The refugees seemed thirsty for the truth of the atrocities they had faced to be acknowledged, and for the wider public and the dignitaries of the region to recognise their situation. Here in this safe space, they felt they were being taken seriously, opening the door for new opportunities for different faith communities to come together to address some of their shared concerns. That this should have worked in the Akkar district of all places is particularly significant. Akkar is both a safe haven for the swelling numbers of Syrian refugees, and, also a breeding ground for fighters. In Akkar, one of the poorest regions of Lebanon with the greatest number of refugees, potential for tension is greater than elsewhere in the country. The situation is fragile here. Yet, perhaps because of this, many people are also more conscious of the necessity of preserving peace at all cost. And this iftaar and other efforts by Relief and Reconciliation for Syria (R&R Syria), a group made up of concerned citizens in Europe and elsewhere, are showing that religious leaders and their communities can live together in peace. The next R&R Syria interfaith event will take place on 22 September on the occasion of the Christian holiday of Saint Mura, gathering all four religious communities and their leaders for a joint walk to a nearby Christian sanctuary, followed by a children's festival and a communal meal for hungry walkers.* Isabella Eisenberg has spent over ten years working on issues of refugee return, minorities and peacebuilding. She is Programme and Communications Manager for R&R Syria, based in Lebanon. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews). Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 18 September 2013. Copyright permission is granted for publication.


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