Category : Greece

(WSJ) David Studdart–The Strange Rites of the Ancient Olympics

Like doping scandals today, rigged outcomes and cheating, though not common, certainly did tarnish the ancient Games. Visit Olympia, and you can still see the bases of the “Zanes,” bronze statues of Zeus erected from fines imposed on cheating athletes, with inscriptions naming and shaming the culprits. But nothing diminished the allure of the Olympics. Only Christianity could overcome them. With the banning of pagan practices by the Roman Emperor Theodosius in A.D. 391, their days were numbered, and by 425 the Olympics were no more.

For well over a thousand years the Games survived seismic shifts in politics and society, not to mention long-raging wars. Their religious focus undoubtedly played a major part in their longevity. And they evolved, too, with new contests being introduced (those for heralds and trumpeters were perhaps the most bizarre) while others (such as the mule race) were phased out.

But it was more than all that, and here we arrive at the continuing appeal of the modern Games as well. The philosopher Epictetus put his finger on it. Even as he noted “the cacophony, the din, the jostling, the shoving [and] the crowding” of the ancient Games, he had to admit that “you are happy to put up with all this when you think of the splendor of the spectacles.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Greece, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sports, Theology

(BBC) Paris attacks 'ringleader' Abdelhamid Abaaoud evaded Athens police in January

Greek police tried to capture the suspected ringleader of the Paris terror attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, in January but the operation failed.

A Belgian anti-terrorism source told the BBC the Athens operation planned to target Abaaoud before anti-terror raids in Belgium, but that did not happen.

Abaaoud had been directing the Belgian cell by phone from Athens.

Abaaoud died in a battle with French police five days after the 13 November Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, France, Greece, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Bp David Hamid–Ecumenical coordination in Athens is growing for the sake of refugees

Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, of St Paul’s Athens, reports on the emerging ecumenical cooperation in Greece with regard to assistance for refugees. This emerging coordination is a fruit of much Anglican initiative.

On the morning of Thursday 15 October six Christian agencies and Churches came together in the offices of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR), Athens, to learn what each one was doing in the face of the refugee crisis. They were able to share information on the resources that each may have and to explore the possibility of working more cohesively and effectively.

Around the table were Apostoli (the centre for the welfare work of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens), International Orthodox Christian Charities, the Jesuit Refugee Service, Caritas, the Salvation Army, the Greek Evangelical Church, the Anglican Chaplaincy in Athens (who joined by representatives of Anglican Alliance and Us) and a representative from UNCHR. All welcomed greatly the opportunity to be informed of what each Church was doing and something of the resources each could bring to the table.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Greece, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

John Cochrane The Grumpy Economist: Greece Again

My main thought: what about the banks? The minute Greece reopens its banks, it’s a fair bet that every person in Greece will immediately head to the bank and get every cent out. The banks’ assets are largely Greek loans, which many aren’t paying — why pay a mortgage to a bank that’s already closed and will probably be out of business soon anyway — and Greek government debt; mostly Treasury bills that only roll over because banks hold them. They can’t sell either, so the banks will instantly be out of cash.

The deal reported in today’s papers really barely mentions that problem. But that is the problem of the hour.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe, Greece

(Economist Erasmus Blog) The euro, theology and values–The meaning of redemption

When big questions, like the future of Europe, hang in the balance, it can be tempting to toy with grand theories about the ways in which religion affects culture and economics. A famous one was put forward by Max Weber (pictured), who posited a link between capitalism and Protestant ideas of guilt and salvation. Such theories usually contain a grain of truth, but religious determinism shouldn’t be pushed too far because there are always exceptions.

Still, as religious-determinist theories go, an interesting one was put forward by Giles Fraser, a well-known left-wing priest of the Church of England, in a recent radio broadcast. He suggested that behind the financial standoff between Greece and Germany, there was a theological difference (between western and eastern Christians) in the understanding of how humans are reconciled with God.

As Mr Fraser recalled, traditional Protestant and Catholic teaching has presented the self-sacrifice of Christ as the payment of a debt to God the Father. In this view, human sinfulness created a debt which simply had to be settled, but could not be repaid by humanity because of its fallen state; so the Son of God stepped in and took care of that vast obligation. For Orthodox theologians, this wrongly portrays God the Father as a sort of heavenly debt-collector who is himself constrained by some iron necessity; they prefer to see the passion story as an act of mercy by a God who is free. Over-simplifying only a little, Mr Fraser observed: “the idea that the cross is some sort of cosmic pay-back for human sin [reflects] a no-pain-no-gain obsession with suffering,” from an eastern Christian viewpoint.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Christology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, G20, Germany, Greece, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Globe and Mail) Greece bailout deal keeps country in the euro, but for how long?

Greece has received a tentative reprieve from exiting the euro, but the harsh austerity demands piled onto the recession-damaged country may still ultimately force it out the door, economists say.

Some of them think the chances of a Greek exit form the euro ”“ Grexit ”“ have not in any way diminished now that Greece and its creditors have tentatively approved a three-year, €86-billion bailout package that will boost Greece’s debt, increase taxes and trigger privatizations at what will likely be fire-sale prices.

In a note published Monday, Manulife chief economist Megan Greene said the deal, if approved by both sides and the national parliaments of the euro zone countries “will almost certainly be a failure for both political and economic reasons. The immediate risk of Grexit may be slightly lower following the summit conclusions this weekend, but the overall risk of Grexit is materially higher.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(FT) Wolfgang Münchau–Greece’s brutal creditors have demolished the eurozone project

The fact that a formal Grexit may have been avoided for the moment is immaterial. Grexit will be back on the table when you have the slightest political accident ”” and there are still many things that could go wrong, both in Greece and in other eurozone parliaments. Any other country that in future might challenge German economic orthodoxy will face similar problems.

This brings us back to a more toxic version of the old exchange-rate mechanism of the 1990s that left countries trapped in a system run primarily for the benefit of Germany, which led to the exit of the British pound and the temporary departure of the Italian lira. What was left was a coalition of countries willing to adjust their economies to Germany’s. Britain had to leave because it was not.

What should the Greeks do now? Forget for a moment the economic debate of the last few months, over issues such as the impact of austerity or economic reforms on growth, and ask yourself this simple question: do you really think that an economic reform programme, for which a government has no political mandate, which has been explicitly rejected in a referendum, that has been forced through by sheer political blackmail, can conceivably work?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Germany, Globalization, Greece, History, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(AP) Greece reaches deal with creditors, avoids euro exit

Greece reached a deal with its European creditors Monday, pledging stringent austerity to avoid an exit from the euro and the global financial chaos that could have followed.

The deal calls for Greeks, already reeling from harsh measures and economic decline, to cut back even further in exchange for more loans without which its financial system would surely collapse. The deal, which still needs approval from Greece’s parliament, will be the country’s third bailout in five years.

To get to a deal, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had to overcome the fundamental mistrust of many of his allies among the 18 other countries that use the euro, known as the eurozone. Just a week earlier, at his urging, Greeks had voted in a referendum to reject many of the measures he agreed to Monday, and the deal forced him to renege on many of his election promises.

“We managed to avoid the most extreme measures,” Tsipras said. “Greece will fight to return to growth and to reclaim its lost sovereignty.”

Read it all.

Update: Politico also has a summary article on the deal there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Telegraph) Greek deal in sight as Germany bows to huge global pressure for debt relief

The contours of a deal on Sunday are starting to emerge.

Syriza has requested a three-year package of loans from the eurozone bail-out fund (ESM) – perhaps worth as much as €60bn ”“ and is reportedly ready give ground on tax rises and pension cuts.

Germany’s subtle shift in position comes as the United States, France, and Italy joined in a united call for debt relief, buttressed by a crescendo of emphatic statements by Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund.

“Greece is clearly in a situation of acute crisis, which needs to be addressed seriously and promptly. We remain fully engaged in order to find a solution to restore stability, growth and debt sustainability,” said Ms Lagarde.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Germany, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

([London] Times) Merkel faces rebellion in Berlin over Greek bailout

More than 100 MPs in Angela Merkel’s conservative party group have already written Greece out of the euro, even as its government scrambles to cobble together a plan acceptable to creditors.

The size of the rebellion in her own ranks ”” the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union faction ”” limits the German chancellor’s ability to soften her position against Greece and all but kills off its hope of a huge debt write-off as part of the new bailout plan it needs to prevent a banking collapse.

Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has been given until midnight tonight to submit plans justifying another multibillion-euro loan deal to keep Greece afloat or face a future outside the euro, with the EU already preparing humanitarian aid for the Greek people.

Announcing its intention yesterday to seek a three-year bailout, Greece said it wanted to make its €323 billion debt mountain “sustainable and viable over the long term”, code for the cut of 30 per cent demanded by Mr Tsipras.

Read it all 9requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Germany, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(London Times) Make concessions by tomorrow or you’re out, Greece told

The German Red Cross said today it was willing to rush medical and other humanitarian aid to Greece as the country’s economy teetered on the brink of collapse.

“We are ready in every respect,” spokesman Dieter Schutz told Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper. “Pensioners, the poor, the sick and refugees” have been hit hardest, he said.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, who will chair the summit said: “I have no doubt that this is the most critical moment in the history of the EU. This will affect all Europe also in the geopolitical sense.”

President Hollande of France, the most optimistic of eurozone leaders on finding a solution, said: “What is at stake is the place of Greece within the EU and therefore the eurozone.”

Read it all (requires subsciption).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

Do not Take Yourself Too Seriously Department–Monty Python football: Greece versus Germany


ROFL.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Greece, Humor / Trivia, Movies & Television, Sports

(AI) Walter Russell Mead–After The “No” Vote, Soft Grexit Landing Now EU’s Best Option

There are, as many European and American writers have been commenting lately, sound geopolitical reasons to prevent the worst from happening in Greece. Migration issues, NATO issues, energy issues, terrorism, Russia: an angry, inflamed, suffering and radicalized Greece on a kind of Venezuelan path to national destruction could make life much more difficult for Europeans and Americans both. These considerations should be enough to command some attention and resources from policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic sufficient to avert worst case scenarios for the Greek people.

For Grexit to be a step forward rather than a step back, Western and Greek leaders need to become more creative and forward-looking. Washington needs to stop bleating platitudes about the evils of austerity and to start thinking hard about bolstering an alliance that remains critical to its global position; Brussels and Berlin need to move beyond anger at Greek tactics to a sober calculation of Europe’s interests; the Greeks need to reflect on the cost of being represented at a grave hour of national crisis by inexperienced politicians who none of their counterparts in Europe trust or respect.

But Brussels and Berlin (and Paris, Rome and Madrid) need to realize something else. Greece’s problems under the euro have been worse than anyone else’s, but Greece is not totally unique. There are deep design flaws in the euro and the common currency has not worked nearly as well as any of its proponents hoped. The discussion over the future of Greece needs to be delinked from the discussion over the future of the euro””but that doesn’t mean that the future of the euro doesn’t need to be discussed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(PS) Mark Roe–Europe and Greece on the Brink

…the risks have not been eliminated. The margin for error for the major banks and other financial institutions is narrow. Because they are still not strongly capitalized, modest losses from direct defaults and indirect losses from companies with business in Greece can threaten bank equity, causing bankers to cut back on lending. A few miscalculations in a major institution could have substantial repercussions. Making matters worse, central bankers have only a limited capacity to buoy the economy, as interest rates are still near zero.

The second channel through which risk and loss can spread from Greece is other heavily indebted countries, like Spain and Italy. So far, the financial markets have not panicked over the ability of these countries to repay their bonds. But a shift in the political situation ”“ especially in Spain, where the left-wing Podemos party is doing well in the polls ”“ could change that in an instant.

Finally, a Greek default and exit from the eurozone could unleash unpredictable political forces with a knock-on effect on the European economy. After all, it was the first wave of austerity in Greece that led to the election of Syriza, a left-wing party that few had expected would ever govern.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(NPR) Hours From Greek Bailout Vote, 2 Sides Evenly Divided

Greece’s prime minister has put his political clout behind the “no” camp in a referendum to decide whether the country should accept the terms of an international bailout. But the people appear to be evenly split on the issue, according to two new opinion polls.

One survey, conducted by the respected ALCO institute just 48 hours before the referendum that could decide Greece’s economic fate and future in the eurozone, gives the “yes” camp 44.8 percent against 43.4 percent for the “no” side, according to Reuters.

But a second poll, conducted by Public Issue and published in the ruling party’s newspaper, reports a 0.5-percentage-point lead for those opposed to the bailout.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector