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Poverty skyrockets as SYRIZA claims economic "recovery"

Panteion University study projects sharp increase in poverty as new pension cuts and tax withholdings are due to take effect.

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While the SYRIZA-led Greek government celebrates its latest “success story” and claims that the Greek economy is on the upswing and about to exit the memorandum agreements, reality on the ground tells a different story.
According to a new study by Panteion University professor Savvas Rompolis, a new wave of crippling poverty and unemployment is in store for Greece beginning in 2019.
Today, 48 percent of the Greek population, some 5.1 million people, are said to live under the poverty level of €382 per month. Included in this are 1.5 million Greeks who live in conditions of extreme poverty, with an income of less than €182 per month.
Despite these sobering figures, Rompolis’ study foresees a new and dramatic increase in poverty in Greece beginning in 2019. With new cuts slated for 2019-2020, the average pension will drop from the current €722 per month to €480 per month, while a planned decrease in the tax-free threshold slated for 2020 will further decrease the average monthly pension to €450.
 
 
According to government data, one in three pensions at the present time does not surpass €500 per month. Pensions in Greece have been hammered by the “radical leftist” SYRIZA government’s so-called “Katrougalos Law,” which delivered 22 cuts to pensions which had already been battered by the two initial memorandum agreements and austerity cuts of the previous PASOK and New Democracy governments.
The aforementioned law is named after current alternate foreign minister and former social insurance minister Giorgos Katrougalos, a “constitutional law expert” and one-time activist who had participated in the “protests” of the “Indignants” in Syntagma Square in Athens, including in an infamous roundtable discussion with “radical” (but pro-austerity) economist Yanis Varoufakis, the “Marxist” current non-elected finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos, and supposed “pro-Grexit” crusader Dimitris Kazakis. At that time, Katrougalos decried the austerity being imposed on the Greek people. Once in government, he imposed it and deepened it.
Cuts of 18 percent in the so-called “personal difference” (the gap between the pension amount as calculated with the old and new system) are slated to be enacted in December 2018, while pension increases have been postponed until 2023 at the earliest and will be indexed to the growth rate and to the “personal difference.” In other words, a real increase in the amount a pensioner receives will not take place until the full amount of the “personal difference” is eliminated. If the pensioner happens to pass away before this takes place, tough luck!
In all, the Katrougalos cuts are slated to lead to pensions that are 40 to 50 percent lower than the already-battered pension amounts of 2014.
Also foreseen in the coming years is an increase in the working population that will nevertheless find itself living below the poverty level. Those who will be employed in “flexible” labor schemes are expected to receive monthly wages of €200 to €300 on average, less than the annual poverty rate of €4,150.
As for Greece’s supposedly declining unemployment rate? It looks like another myth. One previous full-time position is now being shared among 2-3 part-time workers. It is said that today, one in three salary earners in Greece are employed on a part-time basis.
At the same time, the working population, as of January 1, has faced an additional 1.5 percent decrease in their wages as a result of an increase in tax withholdings, while in 2020, a further decrease in wages is expected, as the tax-free annual income threshold will be further reduced, to €5,700.
This new generation of poverty-level workers, earning an average of €327, has grown significantly under the “radical leftist” SYRIZA-led government, and it bears noting that this average monthly income is less than the already-paltry unemployment benefit of €360.
In all, yet another “success story” for the “anti-austerity government of the people.” A success story of crippling unemployment, poverty, and hunger. But of course, Greece still has the euro…

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Archons of Greek Orthodox Church issue toothless letter about abortion law

The good news is the Archons did say some good things in reaction to the New York abortion law. But there was no consequence.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In relation to our previously published piece about Governor Andrew Cuomo signing abortion into the New York State Constitution, we noted that at the time of the article’s writing, no entities within the Orthodox Church in any jurisdiction issued any kind of statement condemning this law. Of all fourteen universally acknowledged Local Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church was particularly of note, since their Archons awarded a humanitarian award known as the Athenogoras Award to extremely liberal, pro-abortion politicians, Andrew Cuomo being one of these.

Well, the Archons did issue a statement yesterday:

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Condemns New York’s New Abortion Law

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, strongly condemns the State of New York’s new Reproductive Health Act that was passed on January 22, 2019. This new law allows abortions up to the moment of birth and gives people who are not doctors the right to perform abortions.

The Order also deplores the celebratory atmosphere surrounding the new law, as One World Trade Center was lit pink to commemorate the passage of the law, as if it represented a great advance for the rights of women. The rights of no human being are ever advanced at the expense of another. The State of New York will not truly have respect for the rights of women until it once again restores legal protections for every human being, from his or her first moment of existence until natural death.

Hailed as progress, New York’s Reproductive Health Act is not actually an advance, but a regression, a return to a time of barbarism when the weak were at the mercy of the strong and had no protection from legal structures or governing authorities.

The Order implores New York’s legislators to reconsider this dangerous new law and reinstitute protections for all human life, no matter how weak and vulnerable. Only when such protections exist can any society truly prosper.

Rev. Alexander Karloutsos
Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Spiritual Advisor of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle

Is this enough?

It does not seem to be so. Governor Cuomo and his award, along with pro-abortion Roman Catholic Vice President Joe Biden, also received this award at the same time Governor Cuomo did.

What did not happen in this letter was that neither politician was named, nor were the four (out of five) Greek Orthodox politicians in the New York State Assembly that voted FOR this law.

Neither did the Archons move to rescind the Athenagoras Awards they gave to Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Biden. This move appears to be still far too politically calculated, and keeping with the tragic, curious and distressing behavior of the leadership within the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Monomachos.com is a popular blog site whose editor, George Michalopulos, is undoubtedly one of the giants among those Greek Orthodox who seriously uphold at the notion that the Church ought never compromise herself. Yet, he was very happy with the letter that is shown above because for him it represented a “180-degree turnabout” in terms of the history of the Archons’ behavior, which he noted elsewhere as smacking of “the feeling that their primary job is to raise money for Istanbul.”

He neglected to mention the lack of mention of the Awards, but perhaps understandably, his surprise at any sort of traditional statement by this group was leading to exuberance where perhaps it is not deserved.

The Greek Orthodox Church seems to have an overall alignment with very liberal figures, and it is unclear as to why. But this tendency of people that are considered good and faithful Greek Orthodox churchgoers to align with liberal politics in the United States is very different than the sharply conservative tendencies of Russian Orthodox churchgoers, or Greeks or Romanians in the US.

The other rather liberal church is the US is the Orthodox Church in America, but this group does tend to involve itself in social causes in the US – especially abortion – in a very conservative, if rather feeble, manner. They do make their presence known at the annual March for Life and this is of great value.

We wish to name all the Greek Orthodox elected New York assembly members here, with their votes regarding the state abortion measure:

Michael Gianaris             (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Andrew Gounardes         (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Nicole Malliotakis           (R)                            – No. (and she is a woman!!)
Aravella Simotas             (D)                            – Yes.
James Skoufis                  (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.

This measure enshrined abortion at any point in a woman’s pregnancy as a constitutional right. The law stipulates several following procedures are now “rights:”

  • The law allows non-physicians to perform abortions.
  • The law allows abortion through the third trimester.
  • and the law repeals protections for babies that survive abortions (this means that if the baby gets delivered alive, it will still be killed.)

This is a barbaric law, and a resounding victory for people aligned with some very dark ideas about life and death. It is a tragedy, and while the Archons’ letter condemning it is at least a token statement, it really wants a full-throated response from the Christian world.

In fact, even Muslims and religious Jewish people ought to be outraged as well. All the Abrahamic religions understand that only God is the author of life. In this viewpoint, people do not themselves create life. We only cooperate with God to bring it into existence, by his blessing.

But we can cause death, and this power is influenced by forces that are not interested in God, traditional values, family, children or anything of the sort.

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Greek MPs pass Prespes deal with 153 votes in 300-seat House

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year.

The Duran

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Via Ekathimerini


Greece’s parliament on Friday ratified a landmark accord that changes the name of neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ending a decades-old dispute and opening the way for the ex-Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and NATO.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who hammered out the deal with his FYROM counterpart last year, secured the parliamentary majority needed to get the accord approved with support from independent and opposition lawmakers.

“Today we are writing a new page for the Balkans. The hatred of nationalism and conflict is giving way to friendship, peace, and cooperation,” Tsipras wrote on his social media account.

FYROM has already ratified the deal, brokered last year, and its prime minister promptly sent a tweet hailing the Greek parliament’s vote.

The settlement seeks to end a 28-year old row between Athens and Skopje over the use of the term “Macedonia” by renaming the tiny Balkan state “Republic of North Macedonia” to differentiate it from Greece’s northern province of Macedonia.

Greece’s European Union allies welcomed the ratification.

“They had imagination, they took the risk, they were ready to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted. “Mission impossible accomplished.”

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year. A general election is due by October, and his party is trailing the opposition New Democracy by up to 12 points.

The debate in the Greek parliament was heated, with voting almost interrupted on Friday when an MP for the right-wing Golden Dawn Party, asked to cast his vote, responded: “No to treason!”

Several MPs in favour of of the accord reported attempts to intimidate them.

Many Greeks fear the agreement could lead to territorial claims against Greece and say it constitutes an appropriation of their country’s ancient cultural heritage. Macedonia was the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Protests against the deal have at times turned violent this week, and on Thursday evening police fired teargas to disperse crowds outside parliament. Smaller groups of people braved heavy rain on Friday to demonstrate outside the parliament.

New Democracy slammed the agreement.

“This deal should never have been signed or brought to parliament for ratification,” party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament. “It is a national defeat … a national blunder that is an affont to the truth and history of our country.”

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