September 25, 2023

Stefanos Kasselakis: ex-banker who lit up Greek politics to lead Syriza

Neophyte is light on policy and has a CV some leftists may find hard to endorse, but he has captivated this socially conservative countryAt midday on Monday, Stefanos Kasselakis, a shipping executive and former Goldman Sachs trader, walked through the corridors of the Greek parliament to be crowned head of Syriza, the country’s once radical leftwing party.No one could have seemed more out of keeping with a political force so steeped in the turbulence of Greece’s blood-soaked postwar history. But Kasselakis, a seemingly permanent smile on his lips, has defied all odds. After lighting up the skies of the country’s staid political scene with a campaign high on the vigour of social media, the 35-year-old Greek American has not only emerged as the winner of the two-round race to lead Syriza – gaining 56.69 % of the vote – but has proved he is far more than a shooting star. Continue reading...
September 25, 2023

Weather tracker: South Africa hit by storms and unseasonably low temperatures

Temperatures 10-15C below norm forecast in South Africa while risk of wildfires rises in Australia after unusual spring heatwavesA level 9 orange warning was issued by the South African Weather Service for the Western Cape before heavy rain that moved over the country at the weekend. This is due to a cut-off low system that intensified on Sunday, leading to widespread thunderstorms and strong winds. More than 100mm of rain was due to fall in 24 hours. Gale-force winds were also expected to affect the western coast on Monday, possibly leading to storm surges. Temperatures were forecast to drop as this system passes over, falling up to 10-15C below the seasonal average.After the devastation caused by Storm Daniel in Greece at the start of the month, Greece is expecting yet more heavy rain later this week. Greece’s Hellenic National Meteorological Service has put out an adverse warning for rain starting on Monday, with the heaviest and most widespread downpours expected on Wednesday. These heavy rains will affect western, central and northern regions, and could lead to some localised flooding, and perhaps trigger landslides. It follows a weekend of high temperatures in the region, with peaks in the high 30Cs. Continue reading...
September 24, 2023

Quest for new leader of Greek opposition Syriza intensifies as runoff begins

Newcomer Stefanos Kasselakis beat former minister Efi Achtsioglou in first round of vote to become head of leftwing partyStefanos Kasselakis: the political outsider hoping to revive the Greek leftThe unexpectedly electric quest to elect a new leader of Greece’s main opposition party, the leftwing Syriza, has intensified as a runoff poll gets under way.Voters began casting ballots at more than 500 polling stations nationwide in a race that has pitted a party cadre and former labour minister, Efi Achtsioglou, against a Greek American entrepreneur, Stefanos Kasselakis. Continue reading...
September 24, 2023

Should we borrow from other cultures? Of course we should, just as we always have | Yascha Mounk

Cultural appropriation is the bogeyman of our time. Let’s celebrate the joy of cross-pollinationHuman beings have, ever since they developed distinct cultures, always worried that their purity might soon be blemished. In ancient Greece, Therpandrus caused offence by adding an extra string to his lyre. In 16th-century China, the emperor ordered all seafaring ships destroyed because of fears about the cultural changes that foreign trade missions might induce. In 19th-century Germany, the composer Richard Wagner worried that Jews might spoil the authenticity of German culture.Traditionally, it has been the right that opposed and the left that defended new cultural influences. But, in recent years, many progressives have also started to worry about ways in which cultures might cross-pollinate. While they celebrate a great variety of traditional cultures, they now warn about the dangers of “cultural appropriation”.Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a letter of up to 250 words to be considered for publication, email it to us at Continue reading...
September 24, 2023

‘Capitalism is dead. Now we have something much worse’: Yanis Varoufakis on extremism, Starmer, and the tyranny of big tech

In his new book, Technofeudalism, the maverick Greek economist says we are witnessing an epochal shift. At his island home of Aegina, he argues it’s no longer the global finance system that shapes us, but the ‘fiefdoms’ of tech firmsWhat could be more delightful than a trip to Greece to meet Yanis Varoufakis, the charismatic leftwing firebrand who tried to stick it to the man, AKA the IMF, EU and entire global financial order? The mental imagery I have before the visit is roughly two parts Zorba the Greek to one part an episode of BBC series Holiday from the Jill Dando era: blue skies, blue sea, maybe some plate breaking in a jolly taverna. What I’m not expecting is a wall of flames rippling across a hillside next to the highway from the airport and a plume of black smoke billowing across the carriageway.Because even a modernist villa on a hillside on the island of Aegina – a fast ferry ride from the port of Piraeus and the summer bolthole of chic Athenians – is not the sanctuary from the modern world that it might once have been. The house is where Varoufakis and his wife, landscape artist Danae Stratou, live, year round since the pandemic, but in August 2023 at the end of a summer of heatwaves and extreme weather conditions across the world, it feels more than a little apocalyptic. The sun is a dim orange orb struggling to shine through a haze of smoke while a shower of fine ash falls invisibly from the sky. A month later, two years’ worth of rain will fall in a single day in northern Greece, causing a biblical deluge and never-before-seen levels of flooding. Continue reading...
September 19, 2023

Global heating made Greece and Libya floods more likely, study says

Report says climate change made rainfall heavier but human factors turned extreme weather into humanitarian disasterCarbon pollution led to heavier rains and stronger floods in Greece and Libya this month but other human factors were responsible for “turning the extreme weather into a humanitarian disaster”, scientists have said.Global heating made the levels of rainfall that devastated the Mediterranean in early September up to 50 times more likely in Libya and up to 10 times more likely in Greece, according to a study from World Weather Attribution that used established methods but had not yet been peer-reviewed. Continue reading...
September 19, 2023

My trip to a Greek island idyll where electric vehicles rule

The Dodecanese island of Astypalea is waving goodbye to petrol and diesel in a groundbreaking project that has been welcomed by local peopleAfter my seven-hour ferry journey across rolling azure seas, it’s a relief to be back on land. Along with a handful of locals returning from Athens laden with boxes of bougatsa custard pies and neat bags of shopping, I’ve arrived on the Dodecanese island of Astypalea – known as the butterfly island because of Mesa Nisi and Exo Nisi, its two wing-shaped islands linked by a narrow strip of land. You can break the journey in Naxos or Mykonos. But despite the length of the journey, nothing can beat the pleasure of leaving the bustling port of Piraeus and arriving on a peaceful Greek island by boat.Traditionally, the inhabitants of this rugged island, which is one of Greece’s remotest and poorest, scratched a living from agriculture and fishing. Nowadays, most of the island’s 1,300-strong population are pinning their hopes on tourism. Many believe this will be boosted by the Greek government’s groundbreaking agreement with the Volkswagen Group to transform Astypalea into “a model island for climate-neutral mobility”. As part of the plan, cars are being replaced by electric vehicles (locals and local businesses have been given substantial grants – sometimes for more than two-thirds of the cost – to buy them), and a series of innovative ride-sharing and on-demand public transport schemes have been introduced. “Astypalea will be a future lab for decarbonisation in Europe,” Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s CEO has said. “We will be researching in real time what motivates people to switch to e-mobility.” Continue reading...
September 16, 2023

‘People feel unprotected’: Greeks lose faith in state after Storm Daniel and a summer of wildfires

Before the catastrophe in Libya, the cyclone brought devastation to Thessaly – and there are fears the climate crisis will bring moreThe whiff of death permeates the once fertile plain of Thessaly. Thirteen days may have elapsed since Storm Daniel pummelled Greece – a prelude to the fatal descent it would make on Libya – but even now, as the flood waters slowly recede, families bury loved ones and the authorities begin to catalogue the scale of the destruction, it is clear the agricultural heart of the country has been devastated beyond recognition.What remains is a broken land, rain-sodden and bruised, covered with the detritus of all that fell foul of the storm, animate and inanimate, fish, birds, bees, dogs, cats, livestock, buildings, bridges and roads. Continue reading...
September 15, 2023

The week around the world in 20 pictures

Storm Daniel hits central Greece, Russian shelling in Bakhmut, an Israeli army raid in the West Bank and a muddy Burning Man festival: the most striking images this week Continue reading...
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