Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Keeping an eye on Greece’s southern border

Even though I haven’t been following events in Greece and Cyprus that assiduously recently, I suspect both countries are still going. I note that Greek doctors and chemists are on strike and sick people are being deprived of treatment and medication. Seems par for the course. Only two more years of the idiot Christofias and his moronic AKEL government. I’m counting the days, though it’s quite unclear at the moment who will replace him; hopefully, not another country bumpkin pining for the Soviet Union. Interesting what’s happening in Egypt and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East. A more self-confident and assertive Arab world would represent good opportunities for Greece and Cyprus and challenge Turkey’s neo-Ottoman ambitions, its ridiculous dream of creating an Ottoman Commonwealth. Having Islamists seize power would be a much more dangerous scenario, and probably draw us into ever-closer relations with Israel. Greece’s tardiness in sorting out its EEZ with Egypt couldn’t show up any better the deficiencies of Greek foreign policy. 

15 comments:

John Akritas said...

Greece, for the foreseeable future, is going to have problems keeping out refugees/migrants from south and east, regardless of the turn of events in Egypt, which will be bad for Greece if, as seems likely, the country takes an Islamist direction and finds common cause with an Islamist Turkey. And Egypt isn't a nation of 80m Muslims; there are also 10m Orthodox (Oriental) Copts who, like a lot of Christians in the Middle East, are favourably disposed towards Greece and Greeks, not that we've been doing anything to cultivate ties and advantages.

John Akritas said...

The Kemalists spent decades trying to lift the Turks out of Islamic backwardness, but as soon as the Turks had a chance to express their real affiliations they plumped for the Muslim worldview. What makes you think that Egypt – a far more Islamic society than Turkey already – will resist the temptation to revert to type? A few thousand internet-savvy middle class Cairenes won't decide the future of Egypt. The Islamic masses in the city slums and the countryside will do that. It's a shame; because Greece could have done with Egypt developing a regional rivalry with Turkey.

Hermes said...

Socrates, the movie by the great Roberto Rossellini. Very good. Highly recommended.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-261160500537418464#

lastgreek said...

No man in Australia is wiser than Hermes :-)

John Akritas said...

Socrates is an excellent film, H. I just watched it. Good recommendation.

Hermes said...

John, do you know how to save a Google video file so I can retain it with the subtitles? When I download it with Realplayer the subtitles disapear.

John Akritas said...

I've had the same problem downloading the film, H, i.e. film downloads without the subs. There are a couple of ways around this that I know of. The simplest one is to download the subtitles for the film, which I found here:

http://www.opensubtitles.org/en/subtitles/3150857/socrate-en

Just click 'Download (zip)' on left of page.

In the downloaded folder, there should be a file named: 'Socrate (R.Rossellini 1970).srt'.

You should now have two files: the srt file you just downloaded and the actual file of the film from before downloaded off google, subtitle-less.

If you don't have the VLC media player, you now have to get this. It's a free download, and is much better than RealPlayer, Quicktime and so on.

I have a Mac, so VLC might operate differently if you have a PC; but presuming it's the same for both Macs and PCs, this is what you do now:

1. Open VLC
2. Go to File, then Open File
3. In the dialogue box, click Browse and find the file of the actual film; highlight it; click Open.
4. Back in the dialogue box, check Load subtitles file, then click Settings.
5. A new dialogue box opens. Click Browse, and locate the srt file with the subtitles you just downloaded. Highlight the file, click Open. Then click OK to close the second dialogue box and OK to close the first one.
6. The film should now start with subtitles.

I don't know if you have the film as an flv file or an mpeg. I initially downloaded the film as an flv, then converted it to an mpeg. It's just that I've noticed on playback, the flv file doesn't have subtitles for the first minute or so, but it's fine with the mpeg version. Don't know why.


There is also a way to burn the subtitles (srt) file onto the film, so you can play it on players other than VLC. The way I know is to use FFmpeg, another free software programme. I won't bore you with the details unless you want me to; suffice it to say that I've tried to burn the subtitles and it works, except I've got a file that is 585mb and I don't know where to upload it for you to access and download. I'll work on this.

Hermes said...

Thanks a lot John. By the way have you watched the 1821 Skai doco; and more importantly, have you watched some of the discussions around it? You can download the full episodes in one file from youtube.

Hermes said...

If you are a bit of a fan of Russian film this site has some excellent films by Tarkovsky, Sukorov, Eisenstein, Quiet flows the Don, etc:

http://www.youtube.com/user/IgorRusland

John Akritas said...

I'd been looking for the skai series, and will watch it. I've also just found it on skai's own TV player – http://www.skai.gr/player/tv/ (scroll down to bottom of page). I saw the Karabelias, Theodorakis programme on Ardin and thought maybe K. was exaggerating about the awfulness of the documentary, but having just seen the first fifteen minutes of the first episode on youtube, clearly he was not. Quite frankly, I felt embarrassed that on the Skai doc. Greeks were saying such stupid things – i.e. the Turks brought peace, prosperity and freedom of religion. What the hell's going on in Greece? They've all gone mad.

I like the look of the Russian film channel on youtube. I'm a little ignorant of Russian cinema.


I've also managed to upload a subtitled version of Socrates, which you can download as an MP4 and play on RealPlayer, QuickTime, etc. What you have to do is this:

1. Go to this address: http://download.uzeik.net/eng.php
2. In the box, next to the Download! button, paste this: http://blip.tv/file/4769400
3. Beneath the box, where it currently says YouTube, scroll down to Blip.tv
4. Click Download!
5. After a few seconds, in the left corner, Download Link appears.
6. Using control+click on Mac or right click on PC, click on Download Link for pop-out menu.
7. Choose download linked file, or download linked file as…
8. An MP4 file should now download to your desktop. The picture quality is not great and the font size of the subs is a little large, but otherwise this works.

lastgreek said...

What the hell's going on in Greece? They've all gone mad.

Didn't you get the memo from the Greek Ministry of Education, J? Occupation, subjugation, and humiliation was good for the Greek nation. F*cking retards!

On another mad note ...

Greece reassures IMF on privation

ATHENS, Greece, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said Greece was committed to privatizing services to comply with terms of its international bailout.


Btw, they---the banksters---are trying to sucker in the Greeks to sell off their state land, you know, at bargain basement prices! It shouldn't be too long before a ball-less, prostate-less Greece obliges the thieves.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2011/02/14/Greece-reassures-IMF-on-privatization/UPI-10621297704818/

John Akritas said...

privation – you mean privatisation, LG, or maybe not. 'Greece reassures IMF on privation' also makes sense.

To be honest, I'd like to know what this 'state land' and these 'state assets' are before rushing to the mountains with my toufeki. Is it the state-run casinos Pasok is keen to run on behalf of the Greek people? State-run hotels? Have they privatised OPAP yet? And all those Olympic installations and Ellinikon – is the Greek state still 'running' these? If so, why? I thought Soviet economics was dead. Even the Cubans are privatising. Not that I'm advocating an Anglo-Saxon model; I'm just wondering what the Greeks want. Surveys nearly always reveal that the countries with the most competitive economies are Sweden, Denmark, Norway – i.e. thoroughbred social democracies, which don't seem to have the same hang ups Greek leftists/social democrats have about private enterprise. Or maybe the only private enterprise Pasok approves of is that practised by the half dozen mafia families that run the Greek economy.

lastgreek said...

Yes, thank you, J---I meant "privatisation." Unfortunately, when I copied and pasted the headline I lost a few of the letters in the process :-)

I'd like to know what this 'state land' and these 'state assets' ...

Regarding Greek land per se, I am going to say this: Greek land should not be for sale to foreigners. For Greeks only---that is, Greeks by birth or heritage.

As for state assets ... it all depends on the price, doesn't it? I can assure you that the banksters want to "buy" them on pennies on the dollar. Otherwise, there would be no interest.

And ... only fools sell productive assets.

An example: The government of the province Saskatchewan some 15 years ago sold the government-owned potash corporation for c. $100 million. Sounds like a lot of money, yes? Well, today said company is worth over $40 billion! Potash is an incredible resource in which the world can not do without. No potash, no food. Why did they sell? They got duped, not to mention the heavy lobbying by private corportations.

Now take another Canadian province, the province of Quebec ... Hydro-Quebec is a government-owned electrical utility. There have been repeated attempts by lobbyists to get the government that is in power to sell it into private hands. All successive Quebec governments have so far refused. Why? Because they'd be insane if they did; it's an incredible cash cow.

Now, governments screw up, waste ... you name it---but whom would you rather have run, let's say, your nuclear power plants, the government or some private corporation?

Anyway, as I am starting to lose my train of thought here (curious to check spot silver in the Asia market ... invested up to my ears in silver), the only thing I am adamant about is the land: Greek land should not be allowed for sale to foreigners. If that makes me a commie, so be it: I am a commie :-)

John Akritas said...

Well, LG, regarding potash in Saskatchewan, isn't the point that under state control the company was worth 100m dollars and under private ownership it's now worth 40bn? Clearly, as a state enterprise, the company was being badly managed, underachieving or whatever.

Generally, it seems to me that Greece wants the social part of the European-standard social market economy without the market bit. Besides, I read yesterday that Greece is being pushed to sell off $50bn worth of assets whereas the debt is £355bn, which means privatisation is not going to make a dramatic impact on the debt. Actually, Greece's real problem is ideological – Greeks just don't want to accept the rules of the game when it comes to having a free market economy. Profit, business, private enterprise are swear words.

lastgreek said...

J, why do you take the $100 million figure as a fair market price? There was no market---that is, no price discovery mechanism---to determine what the selling price should have been. That was a b/s price. The lobbyists simply bought off the politicians who put their selfish interests ahead of their citizens (nothing new there, of course). Many of these politicains, btw, would later work for said corporation. Not surprisingly, when BHP Billiton made an offer above market price to acquire said corporation, i.e., Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (POT) last year, POT's CEO told BHP to buzz off. He said something to the effect that BHP's offer was humiliating. No kidding it was. POT has inventory reserves that go into the next freakin' century!

Btw, it was the government of Saskatchewan that had built the mine from scratch, paying for all the infrastructure. All of it, including the roads leading up to the mine ... lol Then again, what's new with corporations using the public trough, eh? Heck, even the computer---software and hardware---was created at public expense. You think we have Bill Gates to thank for the personal computer? More like the American taxpayer (who is up to his wazoo in debt) who footed the bill.

Generally, it seems to me that Greece wants the social part of the European-standard social market economy without the market bit.

Ok, you're killing me now, J ;-)

The banksters nearly blew up the financial markets of the world two years ago, remember? They were bailed out courtesy of the American taxpayeer via the Fed. Fraud and corruption all the way through. How many banksters arrested? Yes, arrested. Trillions of dollars of the world's wealth destroyed. I ask you again: How many were arrested?

If I am not mistaken, they all got millions of dollars of bonuses instead. Many were even promoted to government

In a real, capitalist market those who screw up fail---they don't get bailed out. That's how capitalism is supposed to work if I remember my Economics 101 course.

And one more thing about the Euro banksters (who basically are no different than their American counterparts except that the Euro banksters are not as clever) . . . before they start to lecture Greece, they should preface all their lectures by reminding all of us how much bailout money they themselves received from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Sorry, Euro banksters but the "welfare cat" is out of the bag!

Greeks just don't want to accept the rules of the game when it comes to having a free market economy.

And who accepts the rules? The banksters? The U.S. Government? (Canada has been fighting the Americans in the courts for decades over their unfair trading practices. Every time judgment is rendered in favour of Canada, the Americans appeal---for the umpteenth time!)

The Greeks have figured it out, J: There is no such thing as a level playing field.