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

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Salpingidis scores PAOK's late equalizer at Alkmaar

Supersub Dimitris Salpingidis denied AZ Alkmaar victory in the Netherlands on Thursday, as PAOK snatched a 1-1 draw in injury time in the game for the Europa League group stage. The Greeks were a good match for their hosts for the first hour of the game, ... ...


NBG, Piraeus to give investors clear picture of bad loans

Greek systemic banks are considering the creation of their own so-called bad banks that would absorb all the problematic elements of their portfolios – mainly bad loans – in order to achieve the more efficient management of delayed repayments. Their objec... ...


We will all be judged in the end

The judiciary’s handling of the Golden Dawn case will have a direct and decisive impact on Greece’s politics; only if the procedure is flawless will the neofascist group’s voters be swayed to seek other representatives. The investigation and trials will d... ...


Greece: Golden Dawn deputy head Christos Pappas remanded

The deputy leader of the Greek far-right party, Golden Dawn, Christos Pappas, has been remanded in custody on charges of organising a criminal group. The party's leader Nikos Michaloliakos, and one of its MPs, Yiannis Lagos, have been moved to a ...


Golden Dawn deputy held on remand

The deputy head of the Greek far-right party Golden Dawn, Christos Pappas, is imprisoned pending trial on charges of organising a criminal group.


Head of Greek far-right party denied bond

ATHENS, Greece, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The leader of Greece's far-right political party, Golden Dawn, was denied bond Thursday on charges he was a member of a criminal organization, officials say.


Greece must attract top R&D performers

KathimeriniGreece must attract top R&D performersKathimeriniGreece is still in dire straits. Some reform progress during the last three years has contributed to improving the economic outlook, but it has become clear that as much as the reforms are needed, the economy will not become prosperous simply by ...U.S. Government About To Pull A Greece? How Should Markets React?Seeking Alphaall 2 news articles »


Leader of Far-Right Party in Greece Is Ordered Held



Greek police will be rid of “any racist elements,” Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias tells Amanpour

Neo-Nazism is completely unacceptable.” Prosecutors are cracking down on Golden Dawn, charging the top leadership with running a criminal organization. The action is largely seen as a response to last month’s killing on an anti-fascist ...


Greek Turkey Pita Pockets

Greek Turkey Pita Pockets Makes 4 pitas Getting started Equipment you will need: medium frying pan, spatula, chef knife, cutting board, mixing bowl Do right away when you get home: thaw ground turkey if frozen (overnight) Ingredients 1 lb. ground turkey


Europe's Youth Unemployment Crisis In One Grim Map

Earlier this week Benja Serra Bosch, a highly educated 25-year-old Spanish man, became an unfortunate embodiment of Spain's youth unemployment crisis after a post he wrote on Facebook about cleaning toilets in London went viral.

Bosch is far from the only Spaniard forced to emigrate to find work (the unemployment rate for those under 25 in the country sits at a record high of 56%), and, worse still, the problem is hardly limited to Spain.

This map from Reuters shows the current levels for the crisis in Europe:

Spain is beaten, perhaps unsurprisingly, by Greece, but Croatia isn't far behind. Italy, Portugal and Cyprus also struggle. On the other side of the scale, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have youth unemployment rates that are just a fraction of Spain's.

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Olympic Flame receives warm welcome across Greece

Olympic Flame receives warm welcome across GreeceOlympicThe following day, huge crowds turned out in Thessaloniki as the Flame made its way to the city's Olympic Museum, where Torchbearers included Greek biathlete and cross-country skier Thanassis Tsakiris – who represented Greece at the 1988, 1992, 1994, ...


Mediterranean migrant deaths: a litany of largely avoidable loss

There is a divide between those who prioritise the saving of lives and those who insist on border enforcement

These days, it takes a blockbuster tragedy for migrant boats to reach the front pages – the quiet, regular additions to the Mediterranean's death toll encountered on an almost-weekly basis by rescuers, human rights activists and migrant communities themselves are simply far too humdrum to make the mainstream news. "The reaction of a lot of us this morning was just 'yet again, yet again' … except this time it's even worse," Judith Sunderland, a researcher with Human Rights Watch who specialises in migration, told the Guardian. "What's chilling is to think that this could have been prevented."

In the past two decades, almost 20,000 people are recorded as having lost their lives in an effort to reach Europe's southern borders from Africa and the Middle East. In 2011, at the height of the Arab uprisings, more than 1,500 were killed in a single year. Thursday's horrific scenes are only the latest in a long line of similar, albeit less dramatic, boat disasters – a litany of largely avoidable loss which inspired Pope Francis, on a visit to Lampedusa earlier this year, to inveigh against the rich world's "globalisation of indifference".

Activists and policymakers agree that a large portion of the blame for migrant deaths must lie with the unscrupulous criminal gangs who demand large payments for arranging people trafficking and often use dangerously overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels for the job. But on the question of how Europe should approach this problem, there is considerable discord, dividing those who believe far more needs to be done to prioritise the saving of lives, from those who fear any shift in emphasis away from border enforcement will only encourage people trafficking.

"If traffickers think they can smuggle people in with impunity, that's an incentive for smuggling to increase," said Christopher Chope, a Conservative MP and rapporteur for the Council of Europe's committee on migration. But critics claim that the enforcement posture adopted by both European nations and the continent's supranational agencies such as the border control force Frontex only serve to deny migrants vital humanitarian assistance and increase the risk of boat deaths.

"What we really don't see is a presumption of saving lives; what we get instead is every effort to shut down borders," said Sunderland, who pointed out that security crackdowns on land crossings such as the Greece-Turkey border only displaced migrant flows and often forced more boats into the sea. "The only hope is that this latest tragedy fundamentally shocks the conscience of Europeans and European decision-makers into adopting a real life-saving approach to migrants in the Mediterranean."

But more often than not attempts to forge a co-ordinated, effective European response to irregular migration by boat have stumbled. Following the Guardian's exposé of the "left-to-die" boat in 2011, in which 61 migrants were left to perish slowly at sea despite distress calls being sounded and their vessel's position being made known to European authorities and Nato ships, an in-depth inquiry by the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly found that a "catalogue of failures" had caused the deaths and recommended a fundamental overhaul of European policy on migration; at the same time the UN declared that all migrant vessels in the Mediterranean should be considered by default as in distress, and thus in need of rescue.

Yet although thousands of migrants have been rescued by the coastguards of southern European countries such as Italy and Malta, there still remains an absence of political will when it comes to ensuring that vulnerable migrants don't fall through the cracks of an intricate set of border and rescue policies and overlapping regions of legal jurisdiction. In August the Italian authorities ordered two commercial ships to rescue a migrant boat in the sea and then demanded the ship's captains transport the migrants back to Libya, a move that experts believe could discourage commercial captains from attempting rescues at all and may be in breach of international law.

At the end of this year, Eurosur – a new Mediterranean surveillance and data-sharing system developed by the EU which, among other things, would use satellite imagery and drones to monitor the high seas and the north African coast – is due to go live. European policymakers claim the technology will make a serious contribution to saving migrant lives on the sea, but sceptics say that the project is still primarily focused on preventing migrants reaching Europe at all, and legislation needs to be redrafted to put humanitarian concerns at the forefront of Eurosur's operations.

In the meantime, much more could be done to ensure that both national coastguards and commercial vessels have both the capability and incentives to be proactive when it comes to saving the lives of some of the world's most vulnerable people.

"A terrible human tragedy is taking place at the gates of Europe. And not for the first time," said Jean-Claude Mignon, head of the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, in response to Thursday's grim death toll. "We must end this now. I hope that this will be the last time we see a tragedy of this kind, and I make a fervent appeal for specific, urgent action by member states to end this shame."

Without a drastic increase in political will across the European continent, his wish is unlikely to be realised.

ItalyMigrationEuropeJack © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Four-month peak for bourse's benchmark index

Stocks on the Greek bourse posted a significant rise on Thursday following news that the leader of Golden Dawn would remain in custody pending trial. The benchmark index climbed to levels unseen since May 28, while turnover increased too. The Athens Excha... ...


Greece should re-examine mufti appointment, open mosques, in return of Halki reopening, says Davutoglu

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday that in return for the reopening of Halki seminary, a center of Orthodox teaching that Turkey closed in 1971, Greece would have to re-examine its stance on the appointment of muftis for the Musli... ...


Venizelos meets with UN envoy for Cyprus

Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos met with the United Nations’s special envoy for Cyprus, Alexander Downer, in Athens on Thursday to discuss recent developments in talks aimed at the reunification of the island, which has been split along ethnic ... ...


Four deny involvement in Halkidiki gold mine attacks

Four of 27 people summoned for questioning by police in connection with a string of attacks on a controversial gold-mining company in Halkidiki, northern Greece, on Thursday denied any involvement. The four individuals did not appear at the region’s centr... ...


Greeks curb intake of medicine due to crisis

One in three Greeks have reduced their intake of medicines as part of belt-tightening made necessary by the economic crisis, according to a new survey which also found that six in 10 feel the crisis has had a negative impact on their health. According to ... ...


European Court of Human Rights awards HIV+ ex-employee damages over unlawful dismissal

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) awarded a Greek man, identified only by his initials, I.B., more than 14,000 euros in damages over his unlawful dismissal after revealing to colleagues that he was HIV positive, it said on Thursday. The court foun... ...


US investor says is one of largest holders of Greek debt

US investor says is one of largest holders of Greek debtReutersLONDON (Reuters) - Investment firm Japonica Partners, which made a surprise offer for up to 4 billion euros of Greek government bonds in June, said on Thursday it was one of the largest owners of the bonds. U.S.-based Japonica, not previously known for ...Japonica Says Greek Government Bond Yields Falling to 5% in 2014BloombergGreek bonds: Europe's hidden gem?CNNall 3 news articles »


RED OCTOBER ARRIVES: A Look At The Geopolitical Risks That Could Shake Markets

Back in July and a few times since, Nomura's Alastair Newton flagged a few risks that would "feature significantly on markets’ radar," in October.

In a new report titled 'Red October arrives' he has an update on those issues.

U.S. — There is a "non-negligible risk" that the White House and Congress will fail to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling, with there being a technical default. But even if the U.S. passes the deadline for the deal there is a "very low probability of a default on Treasuries." There are two other big issues that have emerged between President Obama and Congress: President Obama's decision to seek congressional support for a military strike on Syria, and the election of Fed chair. Middle East and North Africa (MENA) — The Sunni-Shia tensions in the Middle East likely to increase it is likely that markets will demand "an additional perceived political risk premium on oil into 2014." Meanwhile, the negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme (E3+3, which refers to the combined diplomatic effort of the EU 3, namely France, Germany, and the UK, along with China, the U.S., and Russia) are set to pick up again on October 15 - 16 which is "encouraging." EU – Germany won't have "fully functioning governance" for a few weeks and this could complicate the Troika's (the European Commission, the IMF, and the ECB.) review of Greece, and the constitutional court's ruling on the ECB's Outright Market Transactions (OMT) programme. Meanwhile, the Italian government is expected to be "unstable" and "struggle to agree to the 2014 budget."  Turkey — While the protests in Turkey are not at the same scale as the protests seen this summer, they have become "more politicized and [are] seen as indicative of increasing polarization in Turkish society." Japan — Prime minister Shinzo Abe has yet to announce details of his 'third arrow of structural reforms' which are likely to face opposition from within his own party, once the Diet (Japan's parliament) reconvenes on October 15. 

Newton also warns that recent protests in Turkey and Brazil stemming from corruption and inequality surprised markets and raised concerns about where else we could see civil unrest. While he writes that timing is hard to predict,  there are at least ten other potential countries, namely, Argentina, India, Russia, Venezuela, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, and Thailand.

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KOUZINA: An Alexander Payne Favorite

Okay, this one's going to start a lot of arguments because every Greek claims to make the best spanokopita and everyone says their recipe is the best and was handed down by my yia yia's yia yia yia's yia yia. It also happens to be a favorite of just about every Greek and a lot of people who aren't, once they bite into a good and taste that moist spinach-feta-phyllo dough concoction. That includes renowned Greek-American director, producer and screenwriter Alexander Payne from Omaha, Nebraska, noted for real adult movies such as Sideways, Election, About Schmidt the Descendants and the upcoming Nebraska for his home state. He was in Greece this summer and said he'd love to make a movie with Greek characters. Undoubtedly they'd be as interesting and quirky as all the others in his films, all gems. So here's a recipe to satisfy him and all those hungry people who'll come running to the kitchen when they smell it cooking.


Golden Dawn: five things to know about Greece's 'neo-Nazi' party

Golden Dawn's vote increased sevenfold the following year. Golden Dawn is a product of fear, says Nikos Sotirakopoulos, a Greek research assistant at the University of Kent in Britain, who is currently organizing a series of debates in Athens on his ...


Japonica Says Greek Government Bond Yields Falling to 5% in 2014

The yield was last below 5 percent in December 2009 ... early 1990s for deals including an attempted buyout of food company Borden Inc., a failed $1.6 billion takeover of railroad operator CNW Corp. and the purchase of appliance maker Sunbeam ...


Greek Stocks: Three Criteria For Weathering And Winning

There is no population growth. GDP per capita has fallen sharply but at $22k is still c.75% higher than Poland’s and more than 50% higher than Russia’s,” write Klahr and Gratsova, adding that “the greatest natural resource currently is the beautifu ...


Troika Asks Hospitals to Improve Accounting System

During their recent discussions, the Troika asked the Ministry of Health for the improvement of accounting services and invoicing system of Greek hospitals as well as to make reports on medical supplies. In 2014 the Ministry of Health is expected to have a budget that reaches 4.483 billion euros in order to limit the cost of […]


Greek-American Film, "Hello Anatolia," Premieres in New York City

“I went knowing a lot about the Greek community’s past there,” Stamelos admitted, referring to grisly incidents like The Great Fire of Smyrna (present-day Izmir, a lively port city on the western peninsula of Anatolia), a monstrous blaze ...


Former minister's son detained in Greece

Former minister's son detained in GreeceCyprus MailGREEK PROSECUTORS yesterday decided that Michalis Michaelides, son of former Cypriot interior minister Dinos Michaelides, will remain detained in Greece until authorities there come to a decision regarding the graft inquiry against former Greek defence ...


Uneasy stalemate: Syria caught in deadlock as war of attrition drags on

While a ceasefire seems a distant prospect, the tide may have turned politically in favour of the Assad regime

Ten-year-olds on bicycles circled the dusty courtyard between the houses. Elderly neighbours in cheap chairs chatted outside their front doors.

But as we walked round the corner, silence fell. The road was empty. Jasmine blooms dropped on to deserted pavements. No children played on the rusty metal swings in an abandoned park.

In single file we followed the men in uniform to al-Zubair mosque, its window panes shattered, the minaret dimpled by shrapnel and bullets. Another group of men emerged in combat fatigues, urging us to stand away from the windows. Opposition snipers watched and fired from the buildings at the far end of the street, they warned.

This is the frontline in Tadamon, a district of closely packed blocks of flats on the south-eastern edge of Damascus. To the immediate south is the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and beyond that the sprawling district of rebel-held Ghouta, which came under gas attack in August.

All round Damascus there are similar battlelines, separating the city centre from poorer districts which were once farming and smallholder communities but are now dotted with shoddy breeze-block buildings that have mushroomed without permits being sought. Sometimes, as in Tadamon, the front goes through a poor area, splitting a community equally underprivileged on both sides of the line.

Among the home guard on bullet-riddled outskirts of Damascus

With his strong mane of wavy white hair, 70-year-old Abu Emad does not look his age. Wearing a lapel badge bearing President Bashar al-Assad's face, he commands a small unit of volunteers from a guard post near the mosque. They are part of the National Defence Force (NDF), a grandly named organisation of local people that was formed last year in almost every Syrian neighbourhood as a kind of home guard.

Abu Emad used to be a salesman. "I joined up because my eldest son was killed by a remote-controlled bomb attached to his car in February. We are defending our homeland," he said.

The frontline in Tadamon wobbled last November when the rebels managed to capture al-Zubair mosque and a few streets around it. Abu Emad pointed out where the rebels had fortified the building's north-facing windows with sandbags. But after a week the NDF men counter-attacked with army help and regained the lost ground. The frontline has been static ever since.

In the NDF headquarters on the second floor of a house on Tadamon's main street Abu Elie, the area commander, was working in an office with five pictures of Assad on the walls. He explained how the NDF consisted mainly of men with military experience, either as conscripts or from former army careers. The aim was to supplant the informal militias, known as the "shabiha", which were often accused of massacres, with a more disciplined and better armed force. Each man receives the Syrian equivalent of £60 a month.

In the hour that we talked we heard the boom of three outgoing tank rounds nearby. Asked if the army was firing, Abu Elie said the NDF also had tanks and mortars. "We do our own operations and we also work with the Syrian army. We are a parallel army. The tide of battle turned with the activation of the NDF. By protecting our neighbourhoods we took the burden off the army and let them do more extensive operations in more dangerous areas," he said.

The NDF has given the Syrian government new manpower but the steady increase in the number of Syrian rebels as well as foreign jihadist fighters has resulted in a stalemate on the Damascus battlefield. Neither side has made any significant gains for at least a year. A major government offensive on Ghouta in August, which coincided with the sarin gas attacks, has not won it any ground.

Abu Elie conceded that Tadamon was part of a wider Damascus deadlock. "We have the ability to advance, but we don't have complete intelligence about the other side. There's no need to lose more men and have more martyrs. Anyway, if we advance we can't hold the areas, so we just do hit-and-run attacks. It's a war of attrition." The break would only come, he believed, when the rebels stopped getting supplies of weapons from abroad.

The rebels appear to have more firepower than in February. Mortars regularly rain down on government-held areas. They may not have as much destructive force as the Syrian army's artillery, but they are as indiscriminate in their choice of victims.

In the last two weeks of August some 123 mortars landed in the Christian quarter of the Old City, an area with no military targets, Gregorios III, the Greek Catholic patriarch, said. The tessellated marble fountain in the courtyard in front of his church now has a hole the size of a large soup-plate. A mortar had crashed in the previous evening. Splinters of marble and metal shattered two cars parked nearby. One Tuesday last month another mortar landed outside the Old City walls, killing 15 people.

Many Damascenes who oppose the regime, including most of the activists who organised the street protests of 2011, have left for Beirut. Arrests continue, and those activists who remain in Syria avoid being seen with foreign journalists. As a result, the overwhelming mood in the capital is support for the government, either with genuine enthusiasm or out of fear of chaos if it falls.

There is widespread anxiety that Islamists now dominate the armed opposition. Their attack on the Christian village of Maaloula just north of Damascus a fortnight ago confirmed people's fears that the jihadists are no longer fighting only in Syria's north and east but are close to the capital.

The threat of US missile strikes led many government officials to send their families abroad. Senior figures in the regime requisitioned empty homes and moved their offices there. Their concern was not just about being hit but that the rebels would exploit the pandemonium to break through the frontlines and occupy the city centre. Now that the threat is off the table, better-off families are returning to Damascus.

The prospects of dialogue

At the border with Lebanon over recent days, there have been more people entering than leaving Syria.

By some estimates, given that large tracts of the north and east are in opposition hands, the government controls only a third of Syria. But as long as it is in charge of Damascus and the coastal strip there is no chance of collapse, mass defections or implosion.

The tide may be turning in its favour. The recapture of the town of Qusair in June was a big psychological boost for the government, as was British MPs' decision to block any UK role in Obama's air strikes. "I want to thank England's parliament and people for saving the situation. They understood it was all about destroying Syria," said Nizar Moussa, the governor of Tartous.

Safwan Koudsi, the leader of an old Nasserist and pan-Arab nationalist party allied with the government, said: "I believe the UK vote was very effective. Fewer and fewer countries are supporting this war. Now is the time for negotiations."

In government circles as well as among the regime's democratic opponents, talk centres on the much-delayed Geneva conference to end the war and find a political solution. Rajaa Nasser, general secretary of the National Co-ordination Body for Democratic Change, said his group did not take the armed opposition's refusal to attend Geneva seriously now that the US and Russia had agreed to reconvene the conference.

"The Syrian National Coalition [the western-backed opposition] is not independent. If the United States really wants Geneva, they will come. Qatar [one of the SNC's main supporters] will also have to agree," he said. He also expects pressure will be needed from Russia to get the regime to come to Geneva with serious proposals.

Diplomats working with Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, have been told that the government plans to call for a ceasefire when the Geneva talks take place. Qadri Jamil, the Syrian deputy prime minister, confirmed this to the Guardian. Although he later claimed he was not speaking for the government, his retraction can be interpreted as a sign of the issue's sensitivity while Assad's team prepares its agenda for Geneva.

At one level, a ceasefire is unrealistic since the jihadists will never accept one and could attack rebels from the western-backed Free Syrian Army if they do. But to propose a ceasefire makes sense for Assad, since it further divides the rebel camp, as well as looking sensible to Syrians and statesmanlike on the international stage.

Louai Hussein, who runs an opposition thinktank, Building the Syrian State, believes US pressure over chemical weapons was designed with an eye on Geneva in order to give Obama a military option that could stay on the table and be used as leverage.

It was, in his view, the second stage of a policy shift which began in May when the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, agreed to reconvene Geneva. "There are too many warlords and the US started to feel the conflict was getting out of control, and this was not in Israel's interest. They wanted stability. The Russians also want to restore control, so the two governments have to work together," he said.

Assad's victory in Qusair jolted the Americans, he argued. "After Qusair there was some kind of agreement between the US and Russia for the regime not to advance into other areas. The US, France and the Gulf Arab states talk of having a balance before Geneva." The US threat of air strikes was designed to create that balance.

The Geneva conference could promote a dialogue among Syrians which would produce a transitional government of national unity with ministers from the moderate opposition and the regime as well as independents. It would have to be accepted that Assad stayed on as president at least until his term ends in April, and perhaps beyond it.

Some analysts claim Assad is winning the military war. That is wrong. The battlefield is deadlocked and will remain so, as long as the rebels continue getting arms. But thanks to Lavrov and Putin and the growing international fear of the jihadists, Assad is winning the political war.

SyriaMiddle East and North AfricaBashar al-AssadJonathan © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


10 Stories That Show The Power Of 'The Machine,' University Of Alabama's All-White Secret Society

Over the past 30 years, the Machine — a secret society at the University of Alabama — has been suspected in cross burnings, election interference, and physical assaults on students. One former student blames the Machine for putting her under so much mental duress she was forced to transfer schools.

The 100-year-old organization has been the subject of many profiles and exposés, including a now-notorious 1992 Esquire cover story. According to Esquire, the Machine started out as a chapter of the Theta Nu Epsilon fraternity, which "believed that secrecy guaranteed selfless leadership. Logos showed a group of devils in hell, with flames licking around them. The fraternity's rites instilled secrecy with medieval earnestness."

At UA, the fraternity became known as "The Machine" — a reference to its methodical ability to routinely elect its own candidate to Student Government Association President. Its influence quickly expanded, and for a while the Machine was the primary vehicle for success in Alabama politics.

A Machine pamphlet from 1989 states:

One standard we base our membership on is the future usefulness of newcomers to our union and its members. We are proud of our history at the University. Theta Nu Epsilon has elected an SGA president 68 times in the 75 years of the SGA's existence. This is because the SGA is ours. Our brethren formed it in 1914.

The student group is now composed of representatives from 28 all-white UA fraternities and sororities.

Throughout its history, the Machine has garnered a reputation as an exclusively white advocacy group on a campus that has a troubled racial history. Spurred on by last month's fantastic look into segregation in the University of Alabama Greek system from student newspaper the Crimson White, we've researched the secret organization that may or may not be responsible for maintaining the school's racial divide.

Here are 10 stories that will show you how an all-white secret society has allegedly controlled the University of Alabama for decades:

1976 — Students Burn Crosses After A Black Candidate Wins SGA President

Cleo Thomas was the first — and remains the only — black candidate to win the SGA presidency, organizing a coalition of independents, black students, and white sorority members to beat the 1976 Machine candidate.

After Thomas was elected, the Crimson White reported "As many as 15 men cloaked in white sheets burned crosses, threw bottles and chanted various revolutionary tunes Thursday night in what some say was reaction to the election of the university's first black SGA president, Cleo Thomas." An eight-foot-tall cross was burned in front of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house.

In response to Thomas' victory, the Machine radically changed the makeup of its group. Realizing that sororities were a growing political threat, the Machine invited in Greek women for the first time, and extended membership to more fraternities to offset independent students' voting power.

1983 — The FBI Investigate An Independent Candidate's Home Phone Being Tapped

The FBI was called to Alabama in 1983 after newly-elected SGA President John Bolus — an independent — discovered that his home phone was tapped.

Bolus' roommate had found a phone cord attached to an outside box. "At the end of the wire was a jack that could be plugged into a tape recorder. There were beer cans all around," Bolus told the Crimson White.

Two students confessed to the FBI and the UA administration.

1986 — The Machine Breaks Into An Independent SGA Candidate's Office

Three years after Bolus' phone was tapped, independent candidate John Merrill had his office broken into, allegedly by two members of a Machine fraternity. Both of the students Merrill discovered in his office were allegedly associated with the campaign of the Machine candidate for SGA president.

The Machine candidate — who Merrill would go on to beat in the election — said that one of the students caught "just got a little excited and wanted so badly for me to win that he just got out of hand and made a mistake."

Additionally, one member of Merrill's campaign was allegedly beaten outside of an UA dormitory and hospitalized for rib injuries, while another was supposedly run off the road while driving to campus. Merrill's wife also allegedly recieved rape threats.

1989 — Greeks Force A Local Pizza Chain To Close

Popular Tuscaloosa eatery Bama-Bino Pizza was forced to close after the owner's son — an independant — ran for SGA president in 1989, causing Greeks to boycott the restaurant. Joey Viselli almost beat the Machine-backed candidate in what is considered a notoriously corrupt election year.

Viselli also faced threats of violence during the campaign, he told the Crimson White. "A couple of people jumped one of my campaign workers at his apartment. My mother was threatened in an extreme amount. We had bomb threats," he said.

"His daddy must have been dumb not to realize, 'Hey son, donʹt be stirring the waters up,'" one fraternity member later told Esquire.

1993 — Candidate Running Against The Machine Attacked With A Knife

In 1993, Minda Riley — a Greek candidate for SGA president not endorsed by the Machine — was assaulted in her home by knife-wielding man with panty hose stretched over his head to hide his face. The attack left her with "a golf-ball-size bruise on her cheek, a busted lip, and a knife wound on the side of her face," the Crimson White reported.

According to the student paper, Riley's brother — who in 1987 had been the Machine-backed SGA president — said he had "no doubt" the Machine or a Machine-backed candidate was responsible for the assault.

This was hardly the first time the candidate had been threatened. According to a profile of Riley in People magazine, "Over Thanksgiving a cross had been burned into her front lawn, accompanied by two notes left in her mailbox. 'Tonight crossbones burn, the next time your skeleton head will burn,' the identical notes read on one side. 'Machine rules, bitch,' they said on the other."

Following the attacks on Riley, the University of Alabama administration suspended the SGA until 1996. 

1999 — Machine Suspected In Racial Threats Against Black SGA Candidate

Three years after the SGA returned to campus, Fabien Zinga-Kanza, a black student who ran for president as an independent, was the target of racial threats, which he blamed on the Machine. Racial graffiti appeared on Zinga's campaign posters, and the candidate himself recieved late night phone calls from an anonymous male using racial slurs, according to CNN.

"What I vividly remember is when he says 'We are going to hang you from the tree,'" Zinga told CNN.

According to the Crimson White, these racist actions were "taken by many as proof that Zinga-Kanza posed a real threat to taking the coveted SGA presidential throne." 

2001 — Machine Supposedly Keeps A Black Student From Joining A White Sorority Two Years In A Row

In 2o0o and 2001, UA student Melody Twilley attempted to become the first black student knowingly admitted by a white sorority. Her uniform rejections both years from the white sororities were supposedly orchestrated by the Machine.

"'The Machine' is the linear successor to [former Alabama governor George Wallace], who proclaimed during his 1963 inaugural address: 'Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,'" USA Today wrote in 2001.

Twilley's situation was high-profile enough to attract the attention of the United States government, although no action was taken against the alleged discrimination. The then-chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights told USA Today, "I'm sympathetic, but with everything else that is going on, it's not really a major priority given what else we have on our plate concerning discrimination in our society."

2003 — Machine Offers Membership To A Less-Prominent Sorority If They Accept A Black Student 

The admission of a black female student into an all-white sorority in 2003 was a cause for celebration for many, as it was seen as the beginning of the end to a segregated system. However, Carla Ferguson's bid to Gamma Phi Beta was tainted by allegations that the Machine coerced the sorority into accepting her in order to dispel racist associations with the group, according to the Crimson White.

A former Gamma Phi member told the Crimson White that the Machine promised the sorority a spot in the secret organization, and that only the 10 members of the executive board were allowed to vote on Ferguson. These charges were adamantly denied by the sorority.

According to one comment on a Greek message board, "The Machine is getting sick of everyone telling them how racist they are, so they decided to de-segregate the sorority system this year. However, none of the 'top' chapters wanted to risk their reputations by bidding an African-American, so they wanted one of the not so prestigious sororities to do instead. They promised Gamma Phi entrance into the Machine as a bribe, which would theoretically raise their social standing on campus."

2004 — Machine Sorority Member Is Allegedly Threatened When She Runs For SGA Without The Group's Permission 

In 2004, freshman Emeline Aviki — a member of a Machine-associated sorority — decided to run for an SGA position without the secret organization's backing. Aviki told the Crimson White she recieved multiple threats after she decided to run, including being told, "'You f*cked up the day you started thinking against us.'"

Aviki recounted her first experience with the group to the Crimson White, saying, "After you pledge, the Machine rep tells you the gist of the Machine and comes out and says, 'You do what we say or else. You don't want to mess with us.'"

She said that at one point her house's Machine representative told the other sorority members that Aviki's life was in danger. Aviki eventually transferred to Duke University after her freshman year, citing "emotional and psychological toll" from the campaign.

2013 — Lawsuit Alleges Machine Involvement In Local City Election

The Machine's influence is not just limited to the UA campus. The New York Times reported last month that a losing candidate for the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education filed a lawsuit after a SGA president and Machine candidate was elected on a wave of Greek voting. 

UA sorority members were offered free drinks and limo rides if they voted in the City Board of Education elections, according to an email sent out to at least one sorority. Members were encouraged to vote for former SGA president Cason Kirby and fellow UA alumnus Lee Garrison, both of whom ended up winning their respective district.

Local news reported that some Greeks listed their fraternity house as their residence to vote in Kirby's district, even though they no longer lived there.

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Turkish Delight Democracy

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Greek anti-fascism protests put the left's impotence on display

What unifies demonstrations from Greece to France is the lack of a clear strategy. We need to rediscover the language of communism

I begin with a feeling, an affect, which is perhaps personal, perhaps unjustified, but which I nevertheless feel, given the information at my disposal: a feeling of general political impotence. What is currently happening in Greece is something like a concentrate of this feeling.

Of course, the courage and tactical inventiveness of progressive and anti-fascist demonstrators is cause for enthusiasm. Such things, moreover, are thoroughly necessary. But novel? No, not at all. They are the invariant features of every real mass movement: egalitarianism, mass democracy, the invention of slogans, bravery, the speed of reactions … We saw all of these same things, undertaken with the same energy – joyful and always a little anxious – in May '68, in France. We have seen them more recently in Tahrir Square in Egypt. Indeed, these things must have already been at work in the times of Spartacus or Thomas Münzer.

Let us set out, provisionally, from another point of departure.

Greece is a country with a very long history, one of universal significance. It is a country, whose resistance to successive oppressions and occupations has a particular historical density. It's a country where the communist movement, including the form of armed struggle, has been very powerful. A country where, even today, the youth set an example by sustaining massive and tenacious revolts. A country where, without a doubt, the classic reactionary forces are very well organised, but where there is also the courageous and ample resource of the great popular movements. A country where there are certainly formidable fascist organisations, but also a leftist party with an apparently solid electoral and militant base.

Now, everything in this country happens as if nothing could stop the utter domination of capitalism, unleashed by its own crisis. As if, under the direction of ad hoc committees and servile governments, the country had no alternative but to follow the savagely anti-popular decrees of the European bureaucracy. Indeed, with regard to the questions posed and their European "solutions", the resistance movement looks more like a delaying tactic than the bearer of a genuine political alternative.

Such is the great lesson of the times, inviting us not only to support the courage of the Greek people with all our strength, but also to join them in meditating on what must be thought and done so that this courage should not be, in a despairing way, a useless courage.

For what is striking – in Greece above all, but elsewhere as well, particularly in France – is the manifest impotence of the progressive forces to compel even the slightest meaningful retreat of the economic and state powers that are seeking to submit the people unreservedly to the new (though also long-standing and fundamental) law of thoroughgoing liberalism.

Not only are the progressive forces making no headway, and failing to score even a limited success, but also the forces of fascism have been growing and, against the illusory backdrop of a xenophobic and racist nationalism, now claim to lead the opposition to the European administrations' decrees.

My feeling is that the root cause of this impotence is not, at bottom, the people's inertia, a lack of courage, or a majority support for "necessary evils". Many testimonies have shown us that the resources for a vigorous and massive popular resistance exist. Nevertheless, no new thinking of politics has emerged on a mass scale from these attempts, no new vocabulary has emerged from the rhetoric of protest and the union bosses have finally managed to convince everyone that we must wait … for elections.

I think that what we are experiencing today is instead that the majority of the political categories activists are trying to use to think and transform our current situations are, as they now stand, largely inoperative.

After the sweeping movements of the 1960s and 1970s, we have inherited a very long counter-revolutionary period, economically, politically and ideologically. This counter-revolution has effectively destroyed the confidence and power that were once able to commit popular consciousness to the most elementary words of emancipatory politics – words, to cite a few at random, like "class struggle", "general strike", "revolution", "mass democracy"', and many others. The key word of "communism", which dominated the political stage since the beginning of the 19th century, is itself henceforth confined to a sort of historical infamy. That the equation "communism equals totalitarianism" should come to appear as natural and be unanimously accepted is an indication of how badly revolutionaries failed during the disastrous 1980s. Of course, we also cannot avoid an incisive and severe criticism of what the socialist states and communist parties in power, especially in the Soviet Union, had become. But this criticism should be our own. It should nourish our own theories and practices, helping them to progress, and not lead to some kind of morose renunciation, throwing out the political baby with the historical bathwater. This has led to an astonishing state of affairs: regarding a historical episode of capital importance for us, we have adopted, practically without restriction, the point of view of the enemy. And those who haven't done so have simply persevered in the old lugubrious rhetoric, as if nothing had happened.

Of all the victories of our enemy, this symbolic victory is among the most important.

Back in the day of the old communisms, we used to heap mockery on what we called langue de bois, or hackneyed, cliched language – empty words and pompous adjectives.

Of course, of course. But the existence of a common language is also that of a shared idea. The efficacy of mathematics in the sciences – and it cannot be denied that mathematics is a magnificent langue de bois – has everything to do with the fact that it formalises the scientific idea. The ability to quickly formalise the analysis of a situation and the tactical consequences of that analysis. This is no less required in politics. It is a sign of strategic vitality.

Today, one of the great powers of the official democratic ideology is precisely that it has, at its disposal, a langue de bois that is spoken in every medium and by every one of our governments without exception. Who could believe that terms like "democracy", "freedoms", "human rights", "balanced budget", "reforms", and so on, are anything other than elements of an omnipresent langue de bois? We are the ones, we militants without a strategy of emancipation, who are (and who have been for some time now) the real aphasics! And it is not the sympathetic and unavoidable language of movementist democracy that will save us. "Down with this or that", "all together we will win", "get out" "resistance!", "it is right to rebel" … This is capable of momentarily summoning forth collective affects, and, tactically, this is all very useful – but it leaves the question of a legible strategy entirely unresolved. This is too poor a language for a situated discussion of the future of emancipatory actions.

The key to political success certainly lies in the force of rebellion, its scope and courage. But also in its discipline, and in the declarations that it is capable of – declarations having to do with a positive strategic future, and that reveal a new possibility that remained invisible amid the enemy's propaganda. This is why the existence of sweeping popular movements does not by itself furnish a political vision. What cements a movement on the basis of individual affects is always of a negative character: the sort of thing that proceeds from abstract negations, like "down with capitalism", or "stop the layoffs", or "no to austerity", or "down with the European troika'", which have strictly no other effect than provisionally soldering the movement with the negative frailty of its affects; as for more specific negations, since their target is precise and they bring together different strata of the population, like "down with Mubarak", during the Arab spring, they can indeed achieve a result, but they can never construct the politics of that result, as we see today in Egypt and in Tunisia, where reactionary religious parties reap the rewards of the movement, to which they have no true relation.

For every politics becomes the regimentation of what it affirms and proposes, and not of what it negates or rejects. A politics is an active and organised conviction, a thought in action that indicates unseen possibilities. Watchwords like "resistance!" are certainly suitable for bringing individuals together, but they also risk making such an assembly nothing more than a joyful and enthusiastic mixture of historical existence and political frailty, only to become, once the enemy (who is far better politically, discursively and governmentally equipped) wins the day, a bitter redoubling and sterile repetition of failure.

It's not in the contagion of a negative affect of resistance that we might find what it takes to compel a serious retreat of the reactionary forces that, today, seek to disintegrate every form of thought and action that refuses to follow them. It is in the shared discipline of a common idea and the increasingly widespread usage of a homogeneous language.

The reconstruction of such a language is a crucial imperative. It is to this end that I have sought to reintroduce, redefine and reorganise everything that hinges on the word "communism". The word "communism" denotes three fundamental things. First, it denotes the analytic observation according to which, in today's dominant societies, freedom, whose democratic fetishisation we're all familiar with, is, in fact, entirely dominated by property. "Freedom" is nothing but the freedom to acquire every possible commodity without any pre-established limit, and the power to do "what one wants" is strictly measured by the extent of this acquisition. Someone who has lost any possibility of acquiring something does not, as a matter of fact, have any kind of freedom, as is plain to see, for instance, with the "vagabonds" that the English liberals of rising capitalism executed by hanging, without any qualms. This is the reason why Marx, in the Manifesto, declares that all the injunctions of communism can, in a sense, be reduced to just one: the abolition of private property.

Next, "communism" signifies the historical hypothesis according to which it is not necessary that freedom be ruled by property, and human societies be directed by a strict oligarchy of powerful businessmen and their servants in politics, the police, the military and the media. A society is possible in which what Marx calls "free association" predominates, where productive labour is collectivised, where the disappearance of the great non-egalitarian contradictions (between intellectual and manual labour, between town and country, between men and women, between management and labour, etc) is under way, and where decisions that concern everyone are really everyone's business. We should treat this egalitarian possibility as a principle of thought and action, and not let go of it.

Finally, "communism" designates the need for an international political organisation. It endeavours to set people's inventive thinking in motion, to construct, in a fashion unalloyed with the existing state, a power internal to any given situation. The goal is for this power to be capable of bending the real in the direction prescribed by the tying together of principles with the active subjectivity of all who have the will to transform the situation in question.

The word "communism" thus names the complete process by which freedom is freed from its non-egalitarian submission to property. That this word has been the one that our enemies have most doggedly opposed has to do with the fact that they cannot endure this process, which would indeed destroy their freedom, the norm of which is fixed by property. If that is what our enemies detest above all, then it is with its rediscovery that we must begin.

Have these verbal exercises taken us far afield from Greece and the concrete urgency of the situation? Perhaps. However, a politics [une politique] is always the encounter between the discipline of ideas and the surprise of circumstances. My wish is for Greece to be, for us all, the universal site of such an encounter.

• This is an edited extract of an article in Radical Philosophy

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Spain's new research budget fails to deliver

As Spanish researchers staged a mock funeral in Madrid, the government released its 2014 budget. But there was little good news for Spanish science

Last Friday it was the European Commission-backed Researchers' Night, and in Spain it was a pitch-black night. This event, intended to bring together science and society, was celebrated by Spanish researchers with a mock funeral in Madrid, near to the Congress. In the 2014 national budget released that day, the Spanish government had completely ignored the demands of Spain's scientific community, condemning the Spanish R&D system to a not-so-slow death.

During the last two weeks, representatives from the Spanish scientific community have met with all political parties in the Spanish Congress, including the leader of the opposition, with a proposition: a parliamentary agreement to guarantee the viability of the Spanish R&D system.

This request, signed by the Confederation of Spanish Scientific Societies, the Conference of University Chancellors, a wide range of Conferences of University Deans, most of the directors of the Spanish National Research Council centres, several grassroots scientific organisations and the two major trade unions, among others, contains four basic requests: (1) That public spending on R&D is restored to 2009 levels by 2016, to converge with the EU-27 average of 0.6% of GDP; this would require an annual increase of 636 million Euros for three years. (2) The elimination of the current restrictions on hiring in the public research system, which is resulting in the permanent loss of 90% of the tenured posts left vacant due to retirements. (3) The release of enough resources in 2013-2016 for the national research grants programme, and a guarantee that future calls for proposals will follow clear and sensible timelines. And (4), the creation of the national research agency as an autonomous and politically independent institution with a multi-annual budget.

While the goal of the last two points is to guarantee that we do not see a repeat of the chaos that the system has suffered in 2012 and 2013, the first two requests are focused on the longer-term revival of the system.

The 2014 budget for civil R&D spending (€2,250m) sees a modest increase of €128m over what was first announced in 2013. This is not only much smaller than the €636m increase requested by the community but - given that in late 2013 the government was forced to supply an extra €104m to avoid the collapse of the R&D system - does not represent any significant increase. Indeed, the largest fraction of the 2014 increase (€59.2m of the €128.3m extra) is accounted for by an increase in Spain's contribution to Cern (€35.6m of which actually cover overdue payments).

Only 1.7 of that €128.3 extra will go to increase the budget of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), which, with an estimated deficit (according to its president) of some €75m, will spend another year on the verge of bankruptcy.

The restriction on hiring researchers has been maintained for the third consecutive year. This freeze, together with the budget cuts and year-long delays in the grants and human resources programmes, are forcing talent to leave the system. Without much needed generational renewal in research institutes and universities, the Spanish system will continue to be less competitive in winning funding from EU research programmes and companies will continue to struggle to find researchers with whom to take advantage of European financial resources (like the Risk Sharing Finance Facility) that promote research and innovation activities in the private sector.

Only €10.3m out of the extra €128.3m for 2014 is allocated to the crucial budget line (the Fondo Nacional para Investigación Científica y Técnica) covering all grant funding and human resources programmes in the Spanish public research system. It was precisely this budget line which needed an emergency bail-out in 2013 to avoid triggering the collapse of the entire system. This budget will see a deficit in 2014 of €69m with respect to 2013. And needless to say, the new state budget allocates no resources whatsoever to the creation of the national research agency.

R&D should be one of the basic foundations of the Spanish economic recovery, supporting a much needed transition to a less volatile economic model based on production and generation of knowledge. It is well known that investment in R&D is correlated with GDP growth, and it may be no accident that the European countries that have had to be rescued or intervened (Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) are those that have invested less in R&D.

By not reforming and revitalising R&D spending, the government is contradicting its own claims that the Spanish economy has started down the path of recovery. The 2014 budget document boasts that one of the priorities of recent budgets has been research, development and innovation policies, allowing public investment in R&D to approach the EU average. It is very difficult to argue with a government that lives in a parallel universe: public spending in R&D has suffered a 33.1% decrease under the present administration (2012-2013 period) and Spain has fallen below EU standards in terms of R&D investment (both overall and public) and in terms of number of researchers per citizen.

In the numerous meetings held in Congress in the last two weeks, we found that all political parties in the opposition (progressive and conservative, nationalist and non-nationalist) support the scientific community's four requests, and agreed to support an act to articulate this commitment, with clear goals. This is a milestone because a three-year commitment would include the first year of the next government, whoever is in power. So Spain may yet move towards a more stable and transparent research system - but time is of the essence and to really secure the future of Spanish science, the governing party also urgently needs to come on board.

Amaya Moro-Martín is a Ramón y Cajal researcher at the Spanish National Research Council and spokesperson of the grassroots movement Investigación Digna. She is about to return to the US to work at Nasa

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