Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Press Freedom:Collateral Damage

I was following the #G20 hash on Twitter in order, like the UK police, to keep abreast of the latest developments concerning the G20 summit protests in London when I came across a short documentary, Press Freedom: Collateral Damage which shows the increasingly systematic harassment of camera operators, photographers and journalists by the police in Britain. As the National Union of Journalists site says;

"The NUJ had already submitted written evidence to the committee’s Policing and Protest inquiry. In his oral evidence, Jeremy highlighted issues such as journalists being denied access to report on demonstrations, the removal and deletion of data and the excessive use of stop and search powers against journalists.

He also highlighted some of the violent consequences faced by journalists going about their work, including details of past physical assaults.

The committee went on to question Jeremy about the surveillance of journalists by the police’s Forward Intelligence Team, which was set up to monitor the activities of people under suspicion of criminal activities."

I remember talking with a reporter here in Thessaloniki and they told me the same kind of thing; that the police have been becoming more aggressive in there treatment of photographers and people with video cameras.

I suppose that this is another spin - off connected with the rise of the internet and the ability of people to post their own stories to a wider audiences. In the past only a few could get their news out, usually via the mainstream press. As a result there were ways of making sure that potentially embarrassing images of police misbehavior could be quietly surpressed with an appeal to the editor/owner's sense of civic duty combined with veiled threats concerning the possible difficulties their journalist could face getting access to police sources in the future. Nowadays, however, such obstacles can be easily circumvented by posting such material on a site which means that everyone carrying a camera maybe a potential "enemy".

In addition the rise of citizen journalism means that many of those who cover demos, protests and the like are not subject to the traditional rules of engagement that covered reporters in the past and so unburdened by a political line set down by the channel/paper/station are free to report what they see.

Ανοιχτή Σύγκλητος στο Α.Π.Θ

Ψήφισμα για τη διευθέτηση του θέματος των εργολαβιών στο Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης (ΑΠΘ) εξέδωσαν οι πρυτανικές αρχές, έπειτα από ανοιχτή Σύγκλητο που πραγματοποιήθηκε για το θέμα αυτό.

Στο ψήφισμα αναφέρεται ότι το ΑΠΘ δεσμεύεται να ασκεί όλα τα δικαιώματα που του παρέχει ο νόμος αναφορικά με τις τρέχουσες συμβάσεις εργολαβίας, ώστε να μην παραβιάζεται από τους εργολήπτες η κείμενη νομοθεσία (εργατική και ασφαλιστική) για τους εργαζόμενους στο πανεπιστήμιο με εξαρτημένη σχέση εργασίας, να τηρούνται οι συναφθείσες συμβάσεις και να ασκεί τα νόμιμα δικαιώματά του, όταν διαπιστώνει ότι υπάρχουν παραβιάσεις των συμβάσεων.

Ανοιχτή Σύγκλητος στο Α.Π.Θ

Monday, March 30, 2009


Priest, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Clarinet player

Call on the Greek government to set up an independent commission of inquiry

Greek police shot and killed 15-year-old Alexandros-Andreas (Alexis) Gregoropoulos in Athens on 6 December 2008. A longstanding history of human rights violations committed by police in Greece was highlighted by the shooting and by the conduct of officers policing subsequent demonstrations in December 2008 and January 2009.

Following these events, Amnesty International has received numerous reports of such violations by police in the context of policing the protests, including excessive use of force and firearms, torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and denial of prompt access to legal assistance. Complaints of such violations have also been received from children.

Amnesty International believes that the authorities' response to the killing of Alexis Gregoropoulos and the protests which erupted in the aftermath of his death should not end with the ongoing police and judicial investigations.

In this context, a strong message must be sent to the Greek government that no one can be above the law - especially those charged with enforcing it.

Take Action. Join Amnesty International in urging the Greek government to set up an independent commission of inquiry, mandated to investigate the full circumstances surrounding the death of Alexis Gregoropoulos and the police response to the demonstrations and the riots that began on 6 December.

Έκθεση "καταπέλτης" κατά της ΕΛΑΣ

Για "σοβαρές παραβιάσεις ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων" επικρίνει την ελληνική αστυνομία η Διεθνής Αμνηστία και καλεί την κυβέρνηση να κάνει έρευνα.

Σε έκθεση της που δημοσιοποιήθηκε τη Δευτέρα, η Διεθνής Αμνηστία αναφέρει ότι η αντίδραση της αστυνομίας στις ταραχές του Δεκεμβρίου στην Αθήνα υπήρξε "το αποκορύφωμα της συνταγματικής παραβίασης στην προστασία των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων".

Υποστηρίζει επίσης ότι μετά τον τερματισμό των ταραχών τον Ιανουάριο έλαβε πολλές καταγγελίες (για την παραβίαση ανθρώπινων δικαιωμάτων από την αστυνομία) τις οποίες έθεσε υπόψη του υπουργού εσωτερικών Προκόπη Παυλόπουλου.

Η ελληνική κυβέρνηση δε έχει απαντήσει στην έκθεση της Διεθνούς Αμνηστείας.

Ωστόσο, διπλωματικές πηγές υποστηρίζουν ότι η αστυνομία επέδειξε εξαιρετική αυτοσυγκράτηση, αν λάβει κανείς υπόψη τις περιστάσεις.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A song for the G20 summit - London

With the G20 summit in London almost upon us any suggestions about a suitable official anthem?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour - 2009 Greece


Earth Hour is almost upon us

Earth Hour

Here in Greece Earth Hour will start in about 20 minutes (8.30pm). We'll be switching off the power in a while. Join us.

Making the world safe for Gucci

The press here in Thessaloniki has been full of stories on the recent clamp down on crime. According to the Greek national daily newspaper Kathimerini, the authorities carried out 1912 checks, reported 386 violations and made 67 arrests. I happened to be in town at the time and as far as I can tell the police's efforts seemed to be once again a "round up the usual suspects" affair in which the plain clothes and uniformed officers chased the African street vendors who sell knock-off bags and other accesssories in the centre.

In the meantime last night thieves attempted to steal a ATM located inside the Praktiker DIY super store by throwing a hand grenade at it, two large stores were attacked midday in the centre, a bank was firebombed in Euosmos and the body of a young woman was found floating in the harbour.

I think we're moving more and more towards a model of law and order that befits a banana republic in which the kind of crime that affects ordinary people is met with indifference and incompetence but in which public order offenses get the lion share of police time and resources. Perhaps this government is, in fact despite its chronic inability to plan more than five minutes ahead, getting ready for the future, knowing full well that there is going to be massive resistance to the inevitable cuts in public services and that the rich are going to be more and more the target of protests as times get harder.

According to the Kathemerini and Eleutherotypia the government is planning to double the number of riot police.In addition the Athens police authorities are creating rapid response teams to police the upscale shopping districts in the centre of the capital even while crime rates in the rest of the city are going through the roof.

The present conservative New Democracy administration cannot fund a US style New Deal because they have already borrowed heavily and even more recklessly lied about financial fundamentals such as the extent of the country's debt load and growth projection to such an extent that the government's macro - economic data is now considered unreliable by EU auditors and potential creditors. The result is that future loans can only be secured at cripplingly high interest rates and that the government will have no alternative but to sell off public assets and cut spending. Both of which will lead to massive public unrest.

Hence the increase in riot police units.

On the other hand, it is comforting knowing that in a world beset by crisis and mayhem the market for high end Italian accessories remains safe under the vigilant eye of the authorities.

New City dress code goes into effect ahead of G20 demo

How not to look like a banker

City workers are being advised by police to dress down during the G20 summit next week, in case they're targeted by protesters.

For the latest updates on the G20 demonstrations check out the #g20 hash on Twitter and "G20" on blog search engines such as Technorati. These are great resources for anyone who wants to get an impression of what's going on in the streets as well as the news rooms.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring is here

Spring is here, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Acrobatics in Modiano

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Europe's financial frostbite

It suddenly occurred to me that Europe is responding the current economic crisis in a manner akin to the way human body reacts to extreme cold. In the case of frostbite blood flows away from the extremities such as fingers and toes to the areas nearer the chest.

It seems that those economies further from the continent's economic core seem to experiencing something similar. Capital seems to be flowing away from the peripheries towards the continent's "heart". Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, much of Eastern and South Eastern Europe are heading towards deep recession with massive declines in economic output. Let's hope that we avoid the next step;

"In extreme cold, or when the body is exposed to cold for long periods, this protective strategy can reduce blood flow in some areas of the body to dangerously low levels. This lack of blood leads to the eventual freezing and death of skin tissue in the affected areas."

Using Youtube to teach EFL/ESL

Recently I have been using short video clips from the internet in my lessons. Nothing too long, just two to three minutes of real life listening practice which helps students to get used to a variety of speaking styles and subjects. As you can imagine the possibilities are endless as far as teaching opportunities are concerned, but here is one idea that can be applied quickly and with very little preparation.

The videos should be short (60 - 120 seconds), visually varied (not just talking heads) and ideally about subjects the students have knowledge of.

Lesson plan

1 Explain to students that they are going to see a short news story but without sound. Their job is to make guesses about what is happening. If the class is upper intermediate and above the students do this individually, otherwise they work in groups.

2 The individuals/groups work with others to compare their guesses.

3 Now tell them that they are going to be reporters and find out more about the story for their local newspaper. To do so they have to ask five questions with these words;


4 Students write down questions, you might want to help out at this point as this is a problem area for many learners.

5 Now play the video again this time with sound and students write down their answers. If the answer wasn't covered then get the students to think of their own.

6 Now explain to the them that they are going to write the headline and first paragraph to the story. You might want to do yourself as an example.

Follow up exercises

- Write the rest of the story.

- Students video an interview with each other pretending to be those involved.

- Find their own stories to show the class next lesson.

- Follow up the story from other sources on the internet.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

25th March parade - Thessaloniki

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

If you thought that Contest 2 was fun, just wait for Contest 3

New strategy will train shop and hotel managers to tackle terrorist threats

Home secretary Jacqui Smith urges 'civil challenge' to those who undermine British values

Home secretary, Jacqui Smith, said that there would be a greater emphasis on tackling terrorism through "civil challenge". She told Radio 4's Today programme: "Where people may not have broken the law but nevertheless act in a way that undermines our belief in this country, in democracy, in human rights, in tolerance, and free speech, there should be a challenge made to them, not through the law but through a civil challenge." She added: "We should argue back, we should make clear that those things are unacceptable. And I think that the vast majority of communities from all different religious and other backgrounds support those shared values and want to make that challenge." Smith denied that the move represented a switch in strategy but added: "It's tougher in defending the values that we share, values that terrorists seek to undermine when they attack us."

Click here to read the rest of the article from Guardian.

Βρετανοί πολίτες εκπαιδεύονται στον εντοπισμό τρομοκρατών

Εξήντα χιλιάδες Βρετανοί πολίτες εκπαιδεύονται από την MI5 ώστε να μπορούν να εντοπίσουν τρομοκράτες και να προλάβουν ξαφνικές επιθέσεις, όπως δήλωσε ο Βρετανός πρωθυπουργός Γκόρντον Μπράουν.

Σε άρθρο του σε κυριακάτικη εφημερίδα, ο Βρετανός πρωθυπουργός δήλωσε ότι οι πολίτες δεν θα πρέπει να έχουν καμία ψευδαίσθηση ότι η μεγαλύτερη απειλή της χώρας είναι οι "δολοφόνοι πράκτορες του μίσους" οι οποίοι εργάζονται για λογαριασμό της Αλ Κάιντα. Για το λόγο αυτό, έχει τεθεί σε εφαρμογή ένα πρόγραμμα εκπαίδευσης 60.000 Βρετανών, για τη δημιουργία ενός δικτύου πολιτών για τον εντοπισμό τρομοκρατών. Το πρόγραμμα εντάσσεται στο πλαίσιο μιας νέας σειράς αντιτρομοκρατικών μέτρων, με τίτλο “Contest Two” και ετήσιο κόστος 3,5 δις λίρες ετησίως.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

25th March parade - Thessaloniki

25th March parade - Thessaloniki

Monday, March 23, 2009

Συγκέντρωση διαμαρτυρίας για το φυσικό αέριο

Συγκέντρωση διαμαρτυρίας για το φυσικό αέριο

Τη μείωση των τιμολογίων φυσικού αερίου ζητούν τα μέλη της «Επιτροπής Κατά της Ακρίβειας-STOP» που συγκεντρώθηκαν έξω από τα γραφεία της ΕΠΑ ΑΕ.

Συγκέντρωση διαμαρτυρίας, έξω από τα γραφεία της Εταιρίας Παροχής Αερίου (ΕΠΑ ΑΕ) Θεσσαλονίκης, στη συμβολή των οδών Μπότσαρη και Παπαναστασίου, πραγματοποίησαν το πρωί μέλη της «Επιτροπής Κατά της Ακρίβειας- STOP» και πολίτες, που ζητούν μείωση των τιμολογίων του φυσικού αερίου.

Η Επιτροπή αποφάσισε να συνεχίσει τις κινητοποιήσεις για την ικανοποίηση των αιτημάτων της σχετικά με το θέμα, θεωρώντας ως «πρώτη νίκη» τις ανακοινώσεις του υπουργείου Ανάπτυξης, σχετικά με αναμενόμενη μείωση 20% (μέχρι τα τέλη Μαρτίου σε σχέση με τον Ιανουάριο) στα τιμολόγια των καταναλωτών της Θεσσαλονίκης. Επισημαίνει, ωστόσο, ότι η εξαγγελθείσα μείωση αφορά σε μία χρονική περίοδο που η ζήτηση για φυσικό αέριο είναι ούτως ή άλλως περιορισμένη.

Στη συνέλευση των πολιτών που πραγματοποιήθηκε έξω από τα γραφεία της ΕΠΑ αποφασίσθηκε νέα συγκέντρωση διαμαρτυρίας, αύριο το πρωί στις 10, έξω από τις εγκαταστάσεις τηλεοπτικού σταθμού, σε εκπομπή του οποίου θα συμμετάσχει εκπρόσωπος της εταιρίας, προκειμένου να δώσει διευκρινίσεις για την τιμολόγηση του φυσικού αερίου.

Αποφασίσθηκε, εξάλλου, η εντατικοποίηση της προσπάθειας για συλλογή υπογραφών για το θέμα, καθώς και κινητοποίηση στο υπουργείο Μακεδονίας- Θράκης, το απόγευμα (7μ.μ.) της επόμενης Δευτέρας. Η επιτροπή ζητεί τη διαμόρφωση της τιμής του φυσικού αερίου σε επίπεδα τουλάχιστον 20% κάτω από τη σημερινή τιμή του πετρελαίου, καθώς και επιστροφή στους καταναλωτές χρημάτων από τους λογαριασμούς του χειμώνα.

www.kathimerini.gr με πληροφορίες από ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ

Συγκέντρωση διαμαρτυρίας για το φυσικό αέριο

American film maker beaten by ultra - nationalists

An American documentary film maker was attacked and beaten during a political rally last night in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. The critic and film maker was visiting the city in order to attend a documentary film festival and was passing by the rally by the far right LAOS party in the central Agias Sophias square when he was set upon by 8 to 10 ultra-nationalists carrying iron bars and clubs who according to police reports, were most likely party supporters. According to the victim's account the attack was probably provoked by the fact that the assailants thought he was a photographer.

Click here for report from the Makedonia newspaper in Greek.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Greek prison uprising spreads to women's jail

Women prisoners in Thiva, Greece have refused to return to their cells and early reports speak of fire inside the jail complex. The uprising is the second in as many days in Greece as yesterday inmates in Hania, Crete also refused to obey prison officer's orders and occupied parts of the jail in protest over conditions. According to latest accounts units of the riot police in Hania are on high alert and the situation remains tense as prisoners refused to be locked in their cells last night.

The incident in Thiva was sparked off by the death of a fellow inmate and activist, Katerina Goulioni under as yet undetermined circumstances while being transferred to another jail. The situation was further exacerbated when ministry of justice officials refused to allow inmates to talk with prison rights groups today.

According to other prisoners quoted in the national daily newspaper, Ta Nea Goulioni 41, was found dead with her hands bound behind her back and with blood on her face. She had taken a leading role in the prison hunger strike that took place last November and had campaigned viciferously against the policy of enforced body cavity searches in Greek jails.

According to information provided by the Greek Ministry of Justice, Katerina Goulioni died of a heart attack. The official coroner’s report is expected next week.

Reports from Indymedia Athens also speak of tensions in the maximum security Korydallos prison in the Greek capital with prisoners in several wings threatening hunger strike.

Last November nearly two thirds of prisoners in Greek jails boycotted food in protest over conditions. The action ended when the then minister of justice agreed to comply the inmates list of demands, however, prison rights groups charge the government has reneged on its agreement after Nikos Dendias took charge of the ministry of justice this year.

Conditions in the country's prison system have regularly been condemned by organisations such as Amnesty International and The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Amnesty International has called on the Greek authorities to carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the full circumstances of the death of Katerina Goulioni; and into the complaints that she had lodged about the treatment of women prisoners.


Flickred and explored

Flickred and explored, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Just heard on the BBC World Service.

"Jane Goody's educational career went nowhere, she became a dental nurse."

Sorry, so being a nurse is some kind of dead end job, a testament to academic failure? I hope the reporter who wrote this remember those thoughts the next time they need medical treatment. On the other hand they are now asking their Kabul correspondent about the significance of Goody's death to people in Afghanistan. Civil mayhem, armies of occupation, rampant poverty and what you want to ask is what some participant in a reality show half a world away means to you? Are they completely mad?

I find the interest in Goody's controversial life and death baffling. I guess I must be losing touch with my roots when I consider massive economic dislocation, global ecological meltdown and recurrent conflict are more important than the the demise of a Big Brother candidate.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Today's anti - war demo - Thessaloniki, Greece

All Along The Watchtower

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sci - Fi Friday - Invaders From Mars (1953)

"One night, a small boy, David MacLean (Jimmy Hunt), sees a flying saucer land near his home. His scientist father (Leif Erickson) goes to investigate; when he returns, there is an unusual mark on the back of his neck and he behaves in a different, cold and hostile manner. Gradually, David realizes that there is a conspiracy in which the people of the town are one by one becoming cold and inhuman."

Wiki - Invaders From Mars

What on (Google) earth is Teacher Dude doing?

I've just found out that I'm on Google Earth. The first thought that crossed my mind was that I know I've put on a few pounds over the years, but not so many as to be visible from space surely? Actually, my picture was taken by the Google Maps Street View Car as it was making its way through Bristol last summer. They have a picture of me taking a picture of them so I guess we are even.

View Larger Map

Smile, you're being Googled.

Thanks to Talkie Tim for letting me know about this.

Learning the power of numbers

"Ok children. Who can tell me about decimals?

If you steal 10,000 euros they put you in jail.

If you steal 10,000,000 they put you on TV.

If you steal 10,000,000,000 they put you in charge."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Car bomb goes off in Athens

A car bomb exploded outside the offices of the Greek Land Registry in central Athens this evening. The device went off at 9.30pm opposite in the headquarters of the police in the Greek capital. At first there was confusion over whether the explosion was caused by a gas leak or a bomb, however, police reports now talk of a explosive device. No casualties have been reported despite the size of the explosion.

The placing of a bomb just 200 metres from the HQ of the Athens police just days after the government had announced a series of tough anti - terrorism measures is likely to lead to political fallout for the embattled ruling New Democracy party.

Tags: | | | | |

Είμαστε 'ολοι κουκουλοφόροι τώρα - We are all hoodies now

The government has now amended the law so that anyone covering their face while committing a crime will receive between two and ten years extra on their sentence. This generously includes disturbing the peace, which can mean anything from rioting to speaking back to the police. In addition it is now an offence to insult an officer of the law if you have covered your face.

As you can see from these examples of legalistic buffoonery the government has lost the plot over law and order. They have resorted to ridiculous knee - jerk responses as they are at a loss to deal with rising crime and a wave of political violence. What can you say about law enforcement when you read that a bank was robbed three times by the same guy who ran the kiosk opposite. Or that the present government averages one major corruption scandal every three months?

I just hope that the law concerning the wearing of masks also includes the supporters of right wing extremist groups I saw operate with impunity during the December riots. The police here in Thessaloniki seemed to have no problems with youths wearing masks and throwing rocks as long as the target was the "right one". See here for video I took of the police standing by just metres away while groups of right wingers lob rocks into the Aristotelion university of Thessaloniki.

The reality is that the government is running scared and that they have been made to look stupid by a number of lapses in security such as the escape by helicopter for a second time from the country's maximun security, Korydallos prison and the latest disturbances in central Athens which took place under the noses of the police. The sense of panic seems amost palable and I think we are likely to see a growing list of "tougher"( read authoritarian) law and order measures as those in charge seek to give the impression that are doing something.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Athens bank robbed four times in one month

The Agrotiki bank in the Athens suburb of Dafni was the target of its fourth robbery in a month when two armed men rushed into the building and seized an undisclosed amount of money from employees this morning. The two robbers escaped in a truck, evading local police.

Not only has the hapless branch been the victim of hold ups, it was also burnt out after an arson attack during the riots and protests that swept Greece last December.

Now Public

Order trumps Law

Following last week's policing fiasco in Athens in which a group of 40 youths went through the upscale Athens shopping district of Kolonaki, smashing shop windows, cars and banks within spitting distance of hundreds of officers on duty, the ruling New Democracy government has announced that it wants to change the law to penalise more severely people who cover their faces during a crime (just wait for next year's Carnavali!!!) and to abolish the asylum laws that prevent police entering university grounds without the permission of the dean.

How exactly such measure will deal with the raising level of crime in the country is a little hazy, but still, government ministers can sound tough on TV and that is what really matters. On the other hand the mundane job of actually detecting and preventing crime seems to be a matter of little import as seen by the fact that over the last week or two there has been a spate of ATM thefts here in Thessaloniki.

Now you's think that yanking a cash dispenser, weighing who knows how much out of a building would be an easy offence to prevent. I mean it's not as if you can slip the machine in your pocket or jump in the back of a fast car with it, now is it? Yet there have been a number of successful and unsuccessful incidence by thieves using cranes. I mean how fast can you make your getaway in a truck? So far there have been no arrests, no details or descriptions have been released, no calls for eye witnesses etc, etc, etc. I'm sure that the culprits must be thinking that they are onto a winner here since they have tried the same trick three times in less than two weeks.

But as I've realised the Greek police don't do "Law". "Order", yes and plenty of it. But "Law", no thanks, too much like hard work if you ask me.


The government is considering making insulting a public official a criminal offence and punishing people who wear a mask during crime with up to 10 years extra on their sentence. BTW The Agrotiki bank in the Athens suburb of Dafni was robbed this morning for the fourth time in a month.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Barkleys Bank Über Alles

"Barclays Bank obtained a court order early today banning the Guardian from publishing documents which showed how the bank set up companies to avoid hundreds of millions of pounds in tax.

The gagging order was granted by Mr Justice Ouseley after Barclays complained about seven documents on the Guardian's website which had been leaked to the Liberal Democrats' deputy leader, Vince Cable.

The internal Barclays memos – leaked by a Barclays whistleblower – showed executives from SCM, Barclays's structured capital markets division, seeking approval for a 2007 plan to sink more than $16bn (£11.4bn) into US loans."

Barclays gags Guardian over tax

Copies of the original memos outlining how the bank avoided paying tax to the British government can be found and downloaded from Wikileaks.


Unfortunately, the Wikileaks site has been taken down by the Australian government but you can still find the memos here at www.techcrunch.com.

The internet, like Soylent Green is people

The pieces are gradually falling into place as far as teaching EFL/ESL and the internet are concerned. More and more of my students have access to broadband connections, the price of laptops is falling to a little as 200 - 300 euros for basic models and there is a raft of free applications that we can utilise. As a result I have been able to put into practice lesson plans from a few years ago and see if they actually work in real life learning situations.

A couple of years ago I wrote abut using the opening sequence to the the film Soylent Green as a template for a lesson (click here). This week one of my students created his own version of the opening sequence. Check it out for yourself.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Manolis Glezos

Manolis Glezos, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Alternative forms of information and Democracy

Stelios Kouloglou

Live at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. No Wi-Fi, however, the event started on time and has an interesting list of speakers (Click here to see the details). Here are my first unfiltered thoughts, please forgive any mistakes, I'll clean them up later.

Paraschos Mandravelis, journalist with Kathimerini. Interesting idea that new technologies at first copy existing formats, e.g TV was simply radio with pictures in the beginning. Likewise the alternative journalism follows the existing mainstream media. True up to a point, as much of what is written is simply copy and paste from newspapers and other news sites. I think this is to expected, considering that blogging and other such forms have recently made their appearance in Greece. Most blogs are less than two years old and thousands discovered them just months ago.

On the other hand there were bloggers and other contributors who went out into the streets in December, talked to those taking part in the protests and disturbances at a time when most mainstream coverage consisted of long distance pictures and analysis by those who were even further from the scene. The media formed a closed system, almost entirely self - referential.

Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

In a sense they reminded me of Hitler and his high command locked away in their bunker at the end of WW2, cut off from the madness flowing around them giving orders to armies that no longer existed. A fantasy of war and of command. Similarly, the media talked and analysed the riots and protests that swept Greece last December using fragments of evidence, endless discussions based on a single act or image but with no background, nobody thought to go out and ask the most obvious question.

Why are you doing this?

Actually, there were media outlets who were asking people exactly this but they were outside the country. It was strange that whilst Greek TV presented an endless line - up of so called experts, the foreign news service found and interviewed young Greeks taking part in the events. It took the local media a week before to cotton on to the fact that they were participants willing to talk. I guess that didn't fit in with the idea of "mindless violence" and "looting" much of the established media were selling at that point.

The debate covered the idea of reliability of sources but how reliable can a news media source be when those who contribute have at the back of their mind that what they write or say may threaten their jobs? How much self - censorship goes on when people have to weigh up the choice: either the next mortgage payment or the truth?

Article 14 of the Greek constitution was raised time and time again. Nearly 800 words, only three of which outline the freedom of the press. The remaining 700 odd deal with what you can’t say, including laws which belong on the books of North Korea, such as it is a crime to insult in any way the president of the country or that only those licensed by the state may practice journalism.

Such legislation must be the envy of many an authoritarian state. Ironically, just minutes before the conference started. I faced this dilemma when I went to take photographs of a car being pulled out the water here in the port. The cops asked me if I was a journalist i.e. do have permission to take pictures in a public place? Am I properly accredited to comment on what I see?

Diving for cars

The idea that people may use the internet to spread untruths and lies. What if somebody insults me on the net? What next? Shall we monitor all phone calls in case somebody is spreading wicked rumours about me? What about bugging bars and cafes to ensure that people are not spreading malicious lies? They have a model of press freedom that resembles Henry Fords ideas about car manufacture. You can say anything you like as long as I agree with it.

The issue of anonymity was also raised and once again the idea that if someone puts their name on an article or publication is somehow an magical guarantee of quality . On the other hand members of the audience expressed views on internet anonymity that would warm the hearts of Kim Il Sung or the leadership of such progressive regimes as Iran, Sudan or China.

The real fear is not the possibility of liable or slander but the feeling of terror that if you give people the chance to tell you their opinion, they will. No longer would the anger or frustration felt by many with those in charge be contained. It would explode, unfiltered onto the public domain, an explosion of rage that can not be mitigated or hidden.

If you can control what people see or read what kind of government are you?

“We are living through a crisis in confidence in the mainstream media." Fabio Wuytack.”

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sherlock Holmes Vs Exarchia

The Greek government has invited British anti - terrorist experts to help with investigations into the recent spate of attacks throughout the country. According to the Greek newspaper, Kathimerini on Sunday, Sir Ian Blair, ex - head of Scotland Yard is due to arrive in the Greek capital today.

Picture captioned using Speechable.com.

Athens calls in Scotland Yard to deal with recent attacks

The Greek government has invited British anti - terrorist experts to help with investigations into the recent spate of attacks throughout the country. According to the Greek newspaper, Kathimerini on Sunday, Sir Ian Blair, ex - head of Scotland Yard is due to arrive in the Greek capital today in order to assist in the re-organisation of the Athens's anti-terrorist unit which has so far failed to make headway in the series of bomb and gun attacks that have occured since the massive unrest in December that followed the police shooting of 15 year old Alexis Grigoropoulos.

In recent months Greece has seen a resurgence of terrorist attacks on police, banks and government targets. The recent bombing of Citibank in Athens and the destruction of nine carriage belonging to the Athens subway system in an arson attack have added to a sense of public insecurity which has damaged the ruling New Democracy party's standing in the opinion polls in what is shaping up to be a pre-election period.

So far they have been no arrests connected with any of the dozens of attacks that have taken place since December.

In addition the rampage on Friday by approximately 40 youths through the centre of Athens's upscale Kolonaki shopping district which resulted in damage to luxury cars, banks and shops took place under the noses of hundreds of riot police on duty in the vacinity. The incident which was widely reported on Greek TV has added to the widely held impression that the police has lost control of the security situation.

Greece's anti - terrorism unit was itself at the centre of more controversy when a list of 82 possible terrorist targets was leaked to the press. The publication of the list which included journalists, politicians and judges led to the suspension of four of the unit's six section chiefs earlier this week.

Blair's arrival in Athens marks the second time British police have worked with their Greek anti - terrorist counterparts. In 2000 members of Scotland Yard were invited to help with the investigation into the murder of British military attaché, Stephen Saunders who had been assasinated by the revolutionary group, 17th November.

Originally on Now Public.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Griots - Greek riots and protests

Griots, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Going through shots from the riots and protests in December I came across this one take on the first day when demonstrators attacked a police station in Ano Poli after their march had been repeatedly tear gassed outside the ministry of Macedonia and Thrace in Thessaloniki.

Red Star Salonika

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sci-fi Friday - They Live (1988)

John Carpenter's 80's sci-fi b-movie classic, They Live seems all the more topical given the recent economic meltdown whose effects are rippling across the globe tearing jobs out of the system as it goes. As IMDB puts it;

"Nada, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like "Stay Asleep", "No Imagination", "Submit to Authority". Even scarier is that he is able to see that some usually normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued."

Also the movie has one of my favourite quotes.

"Nada: I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum. "

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Who speaks for Earth?- An ESL/EFL lesson plan

Inspired by Carl Sagan's seminal 80's TV series, Cosmos and the recent remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Lesson Plan

1 Ask students if they have seen The Day The Earth Stood Still. Divide the class into those who have and have not. Those who have seen the film work together on how to explain the plot of the film in English, those who haven't, write down a list of questions to ask.

2 Form groups of three and four with members from both sides and get them to swap information.

3 Show the trailer for the movie.

4 Now explain that the human race has been called upon to defend itself in some kind of galactic court and that 12 people will be chosen to represent our species. The student's task is to decide how to choose the representatives. Will the selection be based on nationality, education, religious affiliation, random choice ?

5 The groups present the reasons for their choices and then the class decides on a method which everyone can agree on.

6 For homework students work on our case. What can be said in our defence?

Thesssaloniki paramedics protest over lack of equipment

The ambulance crews were demonstrating in order to demand new vehicles and protective suits. Of the 220 new ambulance ordered in 2007 not one has been assigned to Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city and home to 10% of the population of the country.

See here for a report in Greek from Kathimerini.

On the other hand the massive medical equipment scam which has cost taxpayers billions since 2004 has gone unpunished despite a government report submitted to then minister of health, Nikos Kaklamanis in 2006 outlining the way in which companies supplying hospitals pumped up prices. For example, A titanium screw, for instance, cost 18 euros in Cyprus, but was bought for 159 euros by Greek hospitals.

Nor has present health minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, been inclined to act on the report.

See here for a report in English from Kathimerini.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Μπαμπά, τι θα πει, "δωρεάν παιδεία";


, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ο Αλέξης ζει

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Welcome to Dude TV

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Guess who it is.

Lydia, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Today was a chance to cook, bake and spend time with Lydia. So we made some souzoukakia (Greek meat balls in tomato sauce) and lemon cake for afters.