Friday, May 14, 2010

News from the front

Thessaloniki central courts cordoned off afater bombing - Greece

I haven't posted for the last few days not because things have been quiet but rather that there has been so much happening that I haven't had time to keep the blog up to date. Today, for example a bomb went off inside the central court building in Thessaloniki at midday. I heard about this by chance when the woman sitting next to me in a cafe got news of the event from a friend on her mobile phone. I happened to be in the middle of a major computer meltdown caused by some virus and so lost valuable minutes before I could reach the courts which by then had beeen closed off. Still, where's there a will, there a way in, so I managed to bypass the security cordon and get quite close.

According to eye witnesses I spoke to the bomb went off while people were still inside the building despite a warning phoned into the Athens based Eleutherotypia newspaper,. I think some people thought the whole thing was some kind of practical joke, not an unreasonable assumption given the fact that such phoned in threats are common here in Greece and almost always prove to be a hoax.

However, the fact that those who planted the bomb were able to breach security in a building that is literally crawling with police officers during working hours is not going to look good, especially coming just hours after the bomb attack on the Kordyllios maximum security prison in Athens (For previous security breaches click here).

Greek protest banners.

During the week there were also a number of demonstrations and marches against the government's changes to the national pension scheme, most of which were throughly ignored by the mainstream Greek media who are quite happy to be the government's electronic cheerleaders, repeatedly parroting whatever is today's media line.

Much has been made of the fact that many very rich doctors with private practices in the upscale Kolonaki neighbourhood of Athens will be charged with tax evasion. This has been a staple diet of the TV news for the last few days, I suppose in the hope that by soaking the rich, at least symbolically then people will somehow accept the austerity package being foisted upon them. I doubt that even those who write this believe it will succeed but they faithfully carry out the orders of their "betters", no matter how absurd or untrue (for more on how the Greek media works check out this post).

Yes, you, capitalist running dog!

There is still a real sense of anger over what is happening and despite what the Vima newspaper opinion polls might purport to show there is no popular mandate for the massive eonomic changes being made. Whilst no one is happy with the present situation the cuts in incomes in conjunction with price hikes on everything from petrol to electricity bills has infuriated most Greeks I know and is the constant source of complaint in radio talk in shows and cafe conversations. Where Vima managed to find 55% support for the PASOK government's handling of the crisis is beyond me especially as other polls by internet news and the centre right Kathimerini newspaper show exactly the opposite.

Soon, however, we'll have student elections in Greece universities and other highter education institutes and these are often seen as an indicator of the general state of the country's political parties support. It'll be interesting to see how PASOK and New Democracy fare given their support in parliament for the EU-IMF rescue deal.

Also the scale of the general strike and protests planned for May 20th should show how much prime minister, Giorgos Papandreou has managed to convince ordinary Greeks to take their medicine.

No comments: