Golden Dawn MP Christos Pappas surrenders to Greek police

Source: theguardian

Far-right party’s parliamentary spokesman walks into police headquarters 24 hours after arrests of key members

Christos Pappas

Golden Dawn’s Christos Pappas is escorted by masked officers to the prosecutor’s office in Athens on Sunday. Photograph: Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

A Greek MP said to be the second in command of the far-right Golden Dawn party has surrendered after authorities arrested the organisation’s leader and other key members on charges of running a criminal gang.

Christos Pappas, the party’s parliamentary spokesman and unrepentant holder of many of its most hardline views, handed himself over to police more than 24 hours after an unprecedented crackdown on the neo-fascist group began.

Appearing at Athens’s central police headquarters in a taxi, the politician insisted the vehemently anti-immigrant party would “survive … the political persecution” it was being subjected to.

“I present myself voluntarily. I have nothing to hide, nothing to fear,” he told reporters waiting outside the building where five other Golden Dawn MPs, including Nikos Michaloliakos, its leader, were taken into custody on Saturday. “The truth will shine. Nationalism will win. We will wage a non-stop political struggle and we will survive.”

Like other members who appeared in court in handcuffs hours after their arrest, Pappas faces charges of murder, money laundering, extortion and intent to commit crimes.

His surrender came as officials in Europe, human rights groups, Jewish organisations and diaspora Greeks applauded the crackdown – the first to be conducted against sitting MPs since the collapse of military rule in 1974. Golden Dawn is often seen as Europe’s most violent political group and has been blamed for more than 300 attacks on immigrants in the three years since Greece plunged into economic crisis.

“We praise the Greek government for taking bold measures to bring the leaders of Golden Dawn to account for their actions and to safeguard Greece’s democracy,” said Anthony Kouzounis, the head of Ahepa, an association representing ethnic Greeks in the US, the world’s biggest diaspora community.

“The party’s extremist principles and paramilitary-like tactics perpetrated upon any individuals of a free, democratic society are alarming and are a true threat to Greece’s democracy.”

Emboldened by its meteoric rise in the polls, the party had begun to look abroad, establishing branches in the US, Canada and Australia in the hope that it could capitalise on the anger of diaspora Greeks over the financial meltdown.

Before this month’s murder of a Greek musician by a Golden Dawn supporter spurred the government into finally taking action, the organisation was scoring as much as 15% in opinion polls – more than double its vote when it took seats in Athens on the back of economic despair for the first time in June last year.

With six deputies now in custody, pending trial, the party’s executive power has been severely diminished and its parliamentary presence cut by a third. Byelections are expected to take place to replace the deputies.

As he was being hauled before the court, Michaloliakos shouted: “Golden Dawn will never die.”

But without its leader, the party seems rudderless. Tellingly, only a few hundred sympathisers heeded a call for support following the arrests, gathering outside police headquarters as the politicians were brought in.

The government of prime minister Antonis Samaras has pledged that the inquiry will continue. Arrest warrants have been issued for another 11 Golden Dawn members who are still at large.

The 10 Richest States In America: 24/7 Wall St.

Source: Huffington

Last year, household income remained effectively unchanged, according to data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is despite the fact that the U.S. added nearly 2.2 million jobs in 2012.

“The big story is that everything was stagnant over the year” said Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould. “We’re stagnant, and continue to be in a bad place.”

While the economy continues to struggle, residents in the wealthiest states continue to make far more than in the poorest. In 2012, Maryland remained the richest state in the country, with a median household income of $71,221. Mississippi was again the poorest, with an income of $37,095 — nearly half that of Maryland’s.

Despite the addition of jobs nationwide, median incomes remained stagnant in most states and were still generally below their 2008 levels, adjusted for inflation. Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation, explained that this has been the nature of the recovery. “We have an economy that continues to grow, with most of the gains going to the economic elite. I don’t see any bright prospects for the median worker, much less the poor.”

States with lower median incomes generally had much higher rates of poverty than the national rate. All of the 10 states with the lowest median income in 2012 also had among the highest poverty rates in the country. While 15.9% of Americans fell below the poverty line in 2012, nearly one in four Mississippians did.

Employment is one of the biggest factors affecting income. In some states with lower unemployment, a higher share of the households had steady income, which bolsters the state’s median. In many of the highest-income states, like New Hampshire, Minnesota and Hawaii, unemployment in 2012 was less than 6%, compared to a national rate of 8.1%.

Elise Gould, Director of Health Policy for Economic Policy Institute, explained that unemployment rates can have a significant effect on a state’s household income. “When we’re talking about average families and poor families, the vast majority of income comes from wages. So it’s about jobs.” Gould cautioned, however, that unemployment rates do not tell the full story.

Unemployment rates, for example, ignore those people who have given up looking for work or accept part-time work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while 8.1% of American workers were unemployed in 2012, 14.7% were underemployed, meaning they wanted to work full time but could not. This was an increase from roughly 10% in 2008.

The types of jobs available in each state also affect income. A review of Census Bureau industry composition data shows that people in most of the states with a higher median income were often more likely to be employed in information, finance, professional and other positions that tend to pay higher salaries. Maryland, the wealthiest state in the country, had the highest percentage of workers in professional, scientific and management positions.

At the same time, many of the low-income states had smaller percentages of these professional occupations and higher rates of employment in retail, manufacturing and transportation. The high proportion of manufacturing jobs in low-income states might be surprising, but, explained Danziger, the makeup of the manufacturing industry in the country has changed.

“There’s a difference between unionized auto company workers and non-unionized parts suppliers,” Danziger said. “Even when manufacturers haven’t cut wages, they are adopting labor-saving technological change.”

To identify the states with the highest and lowest median household income, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed state data on income from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey (ACS). Based on Census treatment, median household income for all years is adjusted for inflation. We also reviewed unemployment data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2012, as well as 2012 ACS data on health insurance coverage, employment and poverty.

Ancient Greek Site Threatened Amid Celebration

Source: nemeangames

While world leaders and top athletes lit the Olympic flame with pageantry drawn from antiquity, another important ancient site of athletic prowess sat overlooked and endangered.

Some 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Ancient Olympia where the flame lighting for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi went off without a hitch Sunday, the Nemea stadium and its humbler games are in danger of closing to the public because of crisis-hit Greece’s harsh budget cuts, according to a renowned American archaeologist who led excavations there for decades.

Stephen G. Miller, professor emeritus of classical archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley, arrived at Nemea in 1973, when the ancient site still lay buried beneath a highway and vineyards used by raisin farmers. Excavations there unearthed the temple and stadium, one of the four major sites where Ancient Greek games were held: Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia and Nemea.

The 71-year-old has held a revival of the Nemean games every four years since 1996, a lower-key, more egalitarian affair than the Olympics, in which athletes sporting white tunics engage in a no-prize competition with a relatively small but dedicated following.

“The idea is that anyone can feel like an ancient Greek athlete for 10 minutes,” he said, in a midweek interview at Nemea, standing at the stadium’s entrance tunnel, where graffiti from ancient athletes is still visible. “The thing I’m worried about is that this place is going to have to be closed.”

Seven of the site’s 10-member staff at Nemea have not have their contracts renewed. If they lose their final challenge in court next month, Miller said, the site will close. Staff shortages last year forced Nemea to close on weekends for 10 weeks.

“It’s sad for me that it’s come to this. There should be people crawling all over this place.”

Greece is suffering through its sixth year of recession, a financial crisis that has seen a surge in unemployment and poverty. Forced to make deeper cuts, the government has launched a program of mass state job cuts and involuntary transfers that have already made an impact on services from Athens to rural Greece.

Nemea, near the southern city of Corinth, is steeped in ancient history. The 2,300-year-old Temple of Zeus stands next to the ancient track and a museum built at the site.

“The treasure of Greece is its antiquities and the young archaeologists trained to look after those antiquities. Instead of making the investments that would have yielded archaeology an income producing venture, it’s always been shoved off to the side,” Miller said. “There’s no hotel here, no restaurant, no shop.”

Miller, who lives in Nemea and is popular in the nearby town, greets friends in accented but precise Greek. The road leading to the ancient site at Nemea has his name on it.

“My life’s work is right here,” he said. “For me, this is very personal.”