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As Greek football drama unfolds, gun-wielding oligarch takes over major pro-SYRIZA newspaper

As Greek football faces expulsion from international competition, Ivan Savvidis remains free after storming football pitch with a gun, buys major newspaper.

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A day after the PAOK-AEK football match erupted into mayhem, as an armed Ivan Savvidis, the oligarch owner of PAOK, stormed the pitch after a controversial reversal by the referee, Greek football, and by extension the Greek political system, remains mired in confusion.
Yesterday’s “derby” between the two frontrunners of this season’s Super League never finished, after a goal scored in the 90th minute by PAOK was initially allowed, then later waived off. An unhinged Savvidis angrily stormed the pitch while brandishing a weapon, threatening the referee’s life while urging his players to return to the locker room. As it happens, the match never continued, but two hours later, the referee decided from the locker rooms to reverse his previous reversal, allowing the goal scored by PAOK and including it in his official match report sent to the Super League’s head offices.
In the aftermath of this unprecedented issue, which made headlines worldwide and once again thrust Greece into the negative limelight, more confusion has begun to set in, while the hypocrisy of the current SYRIZA-led government has once again become evident.
One day after Savvidis stormed the football field while openly carrying a weapon and threatening the life of the referee, he continues to walk free and to make pronouncements against all those who have purportedly “wronged” PAOK. Indeed, the fact that Savvidis is still a free man today was the subject of an official announcement released by the National Union of Police Employees, openly questioning why Savvidis was not arrested when, by law, weapons are not allowed in Greek stadiums and when even police officers are not allowed to be armed inside sporting facilities.
Also questioning the impunity with which Savvidis is apparently allowed to operate is New Democracy’s second-in-command, former health minister Adonis Georgiadis, himself under investigation as part of the so-called “Novartis scandal” which could easily be classified as a SYRIZA witch hunt against its political opposition and an obvious distraction from other more politically inconvenient matters. In a televised interview on Monday morning, Georgiadis openly asked “what sort of hold does Savvidis have over [prime minister] Tsipras?”
Part of the answer as to why Savvidis remains free may come from the hold he now has over the current government and over public discourse in Greece via his newly-acquired media holdings. Just last year, Savvidis purchased 100 percent of national broadcaster Epsilon TV. Today, following the mayhem which transpired on the football field and certainly apropos of nothing, Savvidis completed his takeover of the pro-SYRIZA national newspaper Ethnos.
To give you an example of just the type of brazen propaganda Ethnos is serving up, consider the front page of its Monday edition (pictured below), which made no mention of the weapon Savvidis was brandishing, but which stated as fact to its readers that PAOK’s goal was legitimate, while being sure to include a quotation from SYRIZA’s deputy minister of athletics about “cleaning up” football.

Savvidis’ ownership of Ethnos and Epsilon TV is in addition to his major business holdings, which include everything from factories, to soft drink producers, to luxury hotels, to the leadership of a consortium which recently took over ownership of the port of Thessaloniki, privatized by the same SYRIZA which at one time, prior to its election, was promising to abolish all such privatizations.
Instead of punishing Savvidis, the SYRIZA-led government’s first order of business on Monday was to issue an order immediately halting matches in the Greek Super League and the Football League (Greek football’s second division). This has become SYRIZA’s “go-to” option every time whenever deemed politically expedient to appear to be taking action against corruption and violence in the ranks of Greek football.
Beginning in 2015 and again in 2016, the SYRIZA-led government postponed matches in the Greek Super League after various violent incidents occurred. In 2016, this postponement and the government’s efforts to push through “reforms” in the structure and governance of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) led to Greek teams — both at the club and national level — to be formally threatened with expulsion from international competition by the sport’s international governing body, FIFA. SYRIZA eventually backed off, though many of its “reforms” were passed — reforms which SYRIZA has since used to tout its “cleanup” of Greek football.
This “catharsis” has been such a success that last season, during yet another government-imposed suspension of league play, the Greek Cup final between PAOK and AEK at a neutral site in Volos, a match which was not covered by this suspension, was marred by gang warfare and violence between “fans” of the two sides, resulting in multiple injuries and tremendous material damage to the Panthessalian Stadium and the surrounding environs.
SYRIZA’s “law and order” seemingly was not applicable to PAOK and AEK, both owned by oligarchs favorable to SYRIZA, and both teams received fairly lenient punishment. On the other hand, in a match last season between Panathinaikos and PAOK at the former’s home pitch in Athens, the match was suspended after a spectator threw a can of beer at a PAOK player. Panathinaikos, a team facing severe economic difficulties, was harshly punished, with a deduction of points both in last season’s final standings and in this season’s table as well, plus a hefty fine. The fine, plus lost proceeds from Panathinaikos’ non-qualification to the lucrative UEFA Champions League — which was a direct result of the points that were deducted — have contributed to the team’s near-bankruptcy this season.
Despite all of this, we are supposed to believe that this year’s suspension of league matches will be an effective action against violence and corruption in the football world. This from the same government which imposed the very personnel in the national football federation which, in a ruling issued at 1 am on an early Sunday morning, overturned a previous decision and allowed Sunday’s PAOK-AEK match to take place in front of spectators, following an incident in PAOK’s previous home match where a spectator hurled an object at the opposing team’s coach, injuring him.
Punishment in Greece, at least on the part of the SYRIZA-led government, comes “a la carte” or is levied across the board, whether one is guilty or not and depending on the government’s whims and petty interests. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that aside from the indefinite suspension of league matches, the government is also reportedly examining the expulsion of Greek club teams from international competition for two years.
In other words, all teams, all owners, all players and all fans will be punished for the actions of an out-of-control gun-wielding oligarch and the state’s own inability (or lack of desire) to effectively curtail violence and corruption. Why should, for instance, Panathinaikos, a team that despite teetering on the edge of bankruptcy has managed to be in position to qualify for European competition next season, be punished? Why should this year’s surprise team, Atromitos FC, which is eyeing a position as high as third place in this year’s league table and a place in the UEFA Europa League, be punished? Why should all teams, and the Greek economy at large, be denied the revenues that would come as part of the participation of Greek teams in European competitions?
And who told the SYRIZA-led government that it would be able to implement such an “a la carte” prohibition of Greek participation in international football competitions, one in which Greek clubs would not compete for two years but an exemption would be made for the national team? Is this SYRIZA’s decision to make — or that of the sport’s governing bodies, FIFA and UEFA?
Indeed, FIFA is reportedly already threatening EPO and the Greek government with a “Grexit” of Greek football from all international competitions, at both the national and club level, if the issue of violence in the ranks of Greek football is not effectively and immediately dealt with. And such a “Grexit” would likely be for more than two years, impact both club and national teams (including Greece’s junior-level national teams, who more than anyone are not at fault for the ills of Greek football), and would mean that Greek teams would be classified at the lowest ranks of club and national team rankings, which would mean that once club teams and the national squads are reinstated by FIFA and UEFA, they will face very tough draws for European and international competitions, making the recovery of Greek football even more of an uphill battle, with further economic consequences possible as well.
These are the “solutions” eyed by the “law and order” government of SYRIZA, instead of, you know, arresting those who storm the football pitch with guns, instead of mandating the installation of surveillance cameras in close intervals at every Greek stadium, instead of making an example out of hooligans who are arrested and charged with violent acts, and instead of getting its tentacles out of the way and moving mountains in order to boost teams owned by its favored oligarchs, and in particular Ivan Savvidis and PAOK, under the guise of “catharsis” and “rooting out corruption.”
Instead of doing any of the above, SYRIZA has payed lip service to fighting violence and corruption, has put Greek football at grave risk (never before had Greek teams faced expulsion from international competition before the SYRIZA-led government came to town), and has continuously turned a blind eye to both corruption and violence when it has involved its favorite oligarchs.
Furthermore, it has quite knowingly and purposefully played upon the emotions of Greek football fans, and particularly the fans of AEK and PAOK, who have long felt “cheated” at the hands of perennial Greek champion Olympiacos. Fans of these teams have often become the most vocal supporters of, say, a Greek football “Grexit,” as their hatred of Olympiacos and the supposed “establishment” is so great and so deeply rooted that they are openly willing to cut of their nose to spite their face. As with the numerous other schisms in Greek society which have become increasingly apparent during the years of the crisis, such as the divide between employees in the public and private sector, or the division between the political “left” and the political “right,” one understands how such divide-and-conquer strategies play into the government’s hands.
These concerns were reflected in the positions adopted by AEK and Olympiacos in the aftermath of Sunday’s incident and the subsequent suspension of Greek league play. In a statement released Monday, AEK’s management openly questioned whether this time around, justice will serve or if “negotiations” will take place once again. Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the management of Olympiacos, the postponement of Super League matches was characterized as “serving only the interests of those who delivered irregularity and lawlessness to Greek football.”
However, these concerns are likely to fall on deaf ears. In “radical leftist” SYRIZA’s Greece, one can lose their home for a debt of 1000 euros to the Greek state, “unlicensed” chestnut vendors are arrested and jailed, and Greek soldiers are left to languish in Turkish prisons with no apparent diplomatic effort to secure their release, while maniacal gun-toting oligarchs do as they please — including owning television stations, newspapers, and most likely, the government itself.
 
 

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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Erdogan accepts Syria DMZ off-ramp, in deal with Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 111.

Alex Christoforou

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The deal struck in Sochi averts a large scale Syria’s offensive on Idlib, as Turkey gives it guarantee to monitor what will effectively become a demilitarized zone.

According to the agreement, troops from Russia and Turkey will enforce a new demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Idlib, from which ISIS/Al Qaeda rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month.

Speaking alongside Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the 15 to 20 km-wide zone would be established by October 15th. The DMZ would require a complete “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib, including the rebranded Al-Qaeda affiliated Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Putin also noted that heavy weapons would be withdrawn from the DMZ by all opposition forces by October 10th, which is a move supported by the Syrian government.

The Russian President described the agreement as a “serious result” further saying that “Russia and Turkey have confirmed their determination to counter terrorism in Syria in all its forms”.

Erdogan said both his country and Russia would carry out coordinated patrols in the demilitarized zone:

“We decided on the establishment of a region that is cleaned of weapons between the areas which are under the control of the opposition and the regime.”

“In return, we will ensure that radical groups, which we will designate together with Russia, won’t be active in the relevant area.”

According to Al Jazeera Iran’s foreign minister has hailed an agreement between Turkey and Russia to avert an assault on the Syrian rebel-held Idlib province, as an example of “responsible diplomacy”.

An agreement to halt plans for an offensive on the last major rebel-held stronghold was announced in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday after a meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On his Twitter account, Zarif wrote: “Intensive responsible diplomacy over the last few weeks-pursued in my visits to Ankara & Damascus, followed by the Iran-Russia-Turkey Summit in Tehran and the meeting (in) Sochi-is succeeding to avert war in #Idlib with a firm commitment to fight extremist terror. Diplomacy works.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the agreement reached in Sochi, which for now avoids full scale conflict in Idlib, Syria. Who won, who lost, and which interests were met with the DMZ agreement?

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Via Xinhuanet

An anticipated Syrian military offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib is on hold after Turkey and Russia reached a deal following Ankara’s guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, experts said.

The deal was reached Monday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, as the two sides agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib, the last rebel stronghold.

This agreement brings Turkey to a position of giving a guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, the experts said.

“Moscow is convinced that it would not be able to handle the burden of a humanitarian tragedy in case of a military offensive in Idlib,” said Metin Gurcan, a Turkish security analyst with the Istanbul Policy Center of Sabanci University.

Russia has also secured its airbases in northern Syria, including its airbase in Hmeymim as a guarantee by Turkey under the Sochi agreement, he said.

Gurcan recalled a trilateral summit of Turkey, Iran and Russia held in Iranian capital Tehran early September, which ended without agreement as Erdogan’s call for a ceasefire in Idlib was rejected by Moscow and Tehran.

Erdogan’s proposal for a ceasefire by all parties in Idlib was rejected by Putin on the grounds that those groups were not represented at the table there, he said.

“Now Turkey has given a guarantee on behalf of radical groups which Putin earlier said that ceasefire cannot be discussed because they were not represented at Tehran meeting,” Gurcan said.

Now everyone is curious how Turkey has given guarantee to Moscow and how will those radical groups accept a proposal for demilitarization by surrendering heavy weapons and withdrawing from the demilitarized zone, Gurcan noted.

“Ankara has given this promise relying on its military power on the ground and on its capacity to convince armed opposition groups,” he said.

Turkish army has reinforced its presence in Idlib in the past few months, and Turkey has 12 military outposts with 1,200-1,300 troops on the border line of the province separating the rebel stronghold from the pro-Iran militia-controlled South of Aleppo and the government-controlled southeast, Gurcan said.

Rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, in the region are gathered with Turkish backing under the banner of the “National Front for Liberation.”

Putin and Erdogan agreed on Monday in Sochi to create a 15-20 km buffer zone along the line of contact between rebels and regime troops by Oct. 15.

The agreement entails the “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib as well as “heavy weaponry from this zone,” Putin said at the joint press conference after signing the deal with Erdogan.

By the end of the year, transportation routes between the key port of Latakia and Aleppo as well as the city of Hama must be restored, Putin added.

The Russian leader also said all heavy weapons had to be withdrawn from the zone by Oct. 10, according to Erdogan’s proposal.

Ankara has been warning against any military offensive by Russia-backed Syrian regime forces in Idlib, warning that it would lead to a humanitarian crisis and refugee influx to the Turkish border.

Turkey and Russia, along with Iran, are guarantors of the Astana deal which declared ceasefire in four de-escalation zones in Syria, including Idlib.

Turkey will deploy more troops in Idlib province after the Sochi deal, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

“We will need extra troop reinforcements. Turkey and Russia will patrol on the border areas. Civilians and moderate (opposition) will stay here,” Cavusoglu said.

Another outcome of the Sochi deal is that Turkey and Russia prevented a possible attack by the United States in Idlib, Naim Baburoglu from Aydin University said.

He recalled that the U.S. was giving signals that it wanted to intervene in the situation in Idlib, if Syrian government troops launch an assault on the rebel stronghold.

Washington recently threatened to take swift and decisive actions against any use of chemical weapons in Idlib.

“This agreement showed that the U.S. has room for maneuver only in the east of Euphrates and Manbij region,” Baburoglu said.

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Pat Buchanan: “The Late Hit” On Judge Kavanaugh

Wha exactly is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


Upon the memory and truthfulness of Christine Blasey Ford hangs the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his reputation and possibly his career on the nation’s second-highest court.

And much more. If Kavanaugh is voted down or forced to withdraw, the Republican Party and conservative movement could lose their last best hope for recapturing the high court for constitutionalism.

No new nominee could be vetted and approved in six weeks. And the November election could bring in a Democratic Senate, an insuperable obstacle to the elevation of a new strict constructionist like Kavanaugh.

The stakes are thus historic and huge.

And what is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

When she was 15 in the summer of ’82, she went to a beer party with four boys in Montgomery County, Maryland, in a home where the parents were away.

She says she was dragged into a bedroom by Brett Kavanaugh, a 17-year-old at Georgetown Prep, who jumped her, groped her, tried to tear off her clothes and cupped her mouth with his hand to stop her screams.

Only when Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, laughing “maniacally,” piled on and they all tumbled off the bed, did she escape and lock herself in a bathroom as the “stumbling drunks” went downstairs. She fled the house and told no one of the alleged rape attempt.

Not until 30 years later in 2012 did Ford, now a clinical psychologist in California, relate, in a couples therapy session with her husband, what happened. She says she named Kavanaugh as her assailant, but the therapist’s notes of the session make no mention of Kavanaugh.

During the assault, says Ford, she was traumatized. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.”

Here the story grows vague. She does not remember who drove her to the party. She does not say how much she drank. She does not remember whose house it was. She does not recall who, if anyone, drove her home. She does not recall what day it was.

She did not tell her parents, Ford says, as she did not want them to know she had been drinking. She did not tell any friend or family member of this traumatic event that has so adversely affected her life.

Said Kavanaugh in response, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Mark Judge says it never happened.

Given the seriousness of the charges, Ford must be heard out. But she also needs to be cross-examined and have her story and character probed as Kavanaugh’s has been by FBI investigators as an attorney for the Ken Starr impeachment investigation of Bill Clinton, a White House aide to George Bush, a U.S. appellate judge and a Supreme Court nominee.

During the many investigations of Kavanaugh’s background, nothing was unearthed to suggest something like this was in character.

Some 65 women who grew up in the Chevy Chase and Bethesda area and knew Kavanaugh in his high school days have come out and spoken highly of his treatment of girls and women.

Moreover, the way in which all of this arose, at five minutes to midnight in the long confirmation process, suggests that this is political hardball, if not dirt ball.

When Ford, a Democrat, sent a letter detailing her accusations against Kavanaugh to her California congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, Ford insisted that her name not be revealed as the accuser.

She seemingly sought to damage or destroy the judge’s career behind a cloak of anonymity. Eshoo sent the letter on to Sen. Diane Feinstein, who held it for two months.

Excising Ford’s name, Feinstein then sent it to the FBI, who sent it to the White House, who sent it on to the Senate to be included in the background material on the judge.

Thus, Ford’s explosive charge, along with her name, did not surface until this weekend.

What is being done here stinks. It is a transparently late hit, a kill shot to assassinate a nominee who, before the weekend, was all but certain to be confirmed and whose elevation to the Supreme Court is a result of victories in free elections by President Trump and the Republican Party.

Palpable here is the desperation of the left to derail Kavanaugh, lest his elevation to the high court imperil their agenda and the social revolution that the Warren Court and its progeny have been able to impose upon the nation.

If Kavanaugh is elevated, the judicial dictatorship of decades past, going back to the salad days of Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black and “Wild Bill” Douglas, will have reached its end. A new era will have begun.

That is what is at stake.

The Republican Senate should continue with its calendar to confirm Kavanaugh before Oct. 1, while giving Ford some way to be heard, and then Kavanaugh the right to refute. Then let the senators decide.

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