May 312020
 


Monastiraki Square deserted due to lockdown, Athens, Greece 2020

 

Well, actually, there is no Automatic Earth in Athens right now. But we’re working on it. And I have had a hard time finishing articles recently for some reason. It may be because it’s virustime, and it’s certainly because of the lockdown. People are social animals, and I am no exception. Living alone and working alone makes it more extreme.

Not that I have changed my mind on lockdowns; they are the only option to tame the virus under the circumstances. Still, a lockdown must be executed properly, to make it “as close to impossible as possible” for the virus to jump to new hosts, and that has only been done in very few places, either because politicians and “experts” don’t understand how and why, or they find it too inconvenient. But enough about that for the moment, even as today’s new global cases top 130,000 in yet another new record.

 

In mid-December I went from Athens to Holland, where I still rent a small apartment though I’ve been spending most of my time in Athens. I thought I’d stay a few months in the Lowlands, do some of the everyday -or every year- stuff that needs doing, taxes, medical things etc., and return to Athens in spring.

I had a ticket back to Athens from Holland on April 1, which I had bought early February, when things still seemed somewhat normal. But as the date approached, of course, we moved ever further away from normal. If I had booked a few weeks earlier, things might have worked out, but Greece implemented a very strict lockdown, so it wouldn’t have been much fun.

I could change the ticket for free until two weeks before departure, after which the cost for changing it would be close to the original ticket price. So I changed it. By then, there was a two-week mandatory full quarantine in place for new arrivals in Greece. Not very tempting, but more importantly I was thinking I didn’t want to become a burden on the Greek healthcare system.

Which according to some has shrunk by 75% (imagine that) due to EU-mandated austerity. I was thinking the odds of Greece and the Greek system being overwhelmed were much higher than that it would happen in Holland. Boy, was I wrong. The irony is that it is exactly this that made Greece adopt the strict lockdown measures it did, as early as it did, and faring so much better because of it.

For 2 months, until 2 weeks ago, everyone who was out in the street had to carry a piece of paper detailing why they were out (try that in the US!). The only valid reasons to be out were shopping for food or medicine. All stores other than supermarkets and pharmacies were closed anyway. Greece was early and strict. They didn’t feel they had a choice.

And even if so much of the healthcare system has been bulldozed, the core is still very strong, that is a major factor. The professionals (experts) running the system and advising the government are of a very high caliber, which is more than one can say of many other countries.

 

 

 

 

In Holland, it’s been a very different story. It was late to the game, and when it did decide on a lockdown, it called it an “intelligent” lockdown. Like Dutch people are smarter than others. Which, of course, people like to hear. Most stores have remained open (though not public transport), there was no mass testing, only people with obvious symptoms were tested, and the Dutch version of the CDC still maintains today that face masks don’t actually work (i.e. we are more intelligent than 4.5 billion Asians).

Like in many other countries, the lack of testing and masks really only had one reason behind it, and it wasn’t that they would not work, or that anyone believed they didn’t, it was that they didn’t have any. And then when a government says they’re not needed, the pace at which they are purchased abroad or can be produced domestically slows down too, even with all the high tech industries in the country. That way you sort of boil in your own fat.

We’re 5 months into the pandemic, and only now can one get tested without already being on the verge of death [Update May 31: still no test available without symptoms, asymptomatic carriers be damned. Should I fake symptoms?]. And only now are masks obligatory in public transport. This means the virus has become pretty much embedded, though perhaps not yet endemic, in the population.

It’s a giant gamble with the lives of your citizens when you try to hide your failure to acquire the necessary tools and implement the needed procedures, behind stories about how well “we” are really doing. The kind of gamble that politicians should at the very least by forced to quit for, but that is not going to happen.

But, more irony, they’re real popular. People buy the narrative that “this is the best we could have done”, and hang on to their lips every day for a shred of good news. That happens in many countries, of course, and, yes, it has a function: if you want to do a lockdown, above all you need a sense of unity. That it is used to hide lies and failures is almost an afterthought.

I don’t try to point out to people here -the few I see- anymore that their government has done a terrible job; they all watch the same news, and they’ve all bought the same “we’re in this together” kool-aid. Which, again, does serve a purpose, but it’s also very false. Here are the latest numbers from Worldometer:


Holland:
17.3 million people,
46,257 cases of COVID19, and
5,951 deaths.


Greece:
10.7 million people,
2,915 cases and
175 deaths.

I don’t even have to do the percentages, do I? The “successful” and “intelligent” Holland not only, 5 months in, still has an “official” worse “deaths per million population” rate than the US(!), the Dutch numbers also invariably come with the official addition that “real” numbers of both cases and deaths are much higher due to the lack of testing.

Almost as if they’re proud of it. As if it’s a waste of time to try and keep track of how and where the virus is spreading in your society, something you won’t ever know if you only test and count people who are already in hospital or dead.

 

High time for a more uplifting story. In early March, as Greece lockdown measures took hold one by one, almost all of the social kitchens were quickly shut down. But not the people the Automatic Earth has been supporting for 5 years running with your kind help. “Our” crew changed strategy as cooking in the street was no longer an option, and started preparing meals in a central place, only to drive down and hand them out fully ready in the familiar places near Monastiraki square and the Piraeus port.

And because so many other social kitchens had closed and the homeless still needed to eat (always the first to bear the brunt, no exception this time), they made -and make- a lot more meals as well than they were used to doing, and worked 4 days instead of 2, preparing some 700 meals every week.

It’s not just many more meals, but every meal takes much more time and energy to prepare than usual; each has to be packaged separately, because of course fears were that the homeless would be most susceptible to the virus. In short, they’ve all been working their behinds off. Everyone talks about heroes, and these people are mine. Let me show you with a few pictures:

Here’s Monastiraki square, deserted (with the Acropolis on top of the mountain):

 

 

Some of the crew preparing meals in the central place:

 

 

And posing (that’s Tassos doing his finest Greek Zorro):

 

 

Then there’s of course -some of- Da Boyz:

 

 

The usual hot meal in the big pot:

 

 

But lots of other things too, all individually wrapped:

 

 

Which then end up in these crates before they’re loaded into cars to be distributed.

 

 

I love this picture, these are some of the things served on Greek Easter, April 19, because the homeless, too, should celebrate:

 

 

And then the packages are handed to the people in central Athens:

 

 

And at the port of Piraeus:

 

 

Greece, like other countries, is slowly easing its lockdown, first the stores opened, last week it was terraces at bars and restaurants, and next week it will be the inside of these places too.

“The Crew” is not yet back to cooking in the streets, that will take a bit more time. I’ve been keeping in close touch with them, and it’s high time to replenish the supermarket “checks” I last arranged for in December. First thing I’ll do when I get there. Been offering it all the time, a bank transfer might have worked, but so far they manage.

Air traffic is resuming as well, bit by bit. When I changed my ticket in mid-March, I had no idea what would be realistic, and picked June 16 “out of a hat”. Not a bad guess, it turns out. June 16 became 17, and 2 days ago the Greeks said Holland is a risk country, so no flights before July, but this morning they changed that again, to mandatory testing at the airport followed by a night in a designated hotel; it now looks as if this might actually happen. Then again, 17 days is an eternity in virustime of course.

And in the process I’ll get tested, something I can’t get done in Holland. I’ve been holed up in an area of Holland with very few infections, but I’ll still have to do the train-airport-plane routine to get to Athens, all places where the danger of being infected is -relatively- high. Holland is a country the size of a postage stamp, and it still today averages more new cases than Greece has had total deaths.

 

As always when I write about the Automatic Earth in Athens project, I ask you to support it. There are still a few hundred dollars left, but I want to buy at least €1000 worth of supermarket checks, so the crew can fill their by now empty pantries and cupboards and do something extra for the clients, who haven’t had an easy time.

The way it goes is simple and identical to how we’ve always done this: you can donate through our Paypal widget at the top left corner of the site. Any donations that end in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the crew, other amounts go to the Automatic Earth, which also badly needs support, and which you can of course also support via Patreon, see top right corner of the site.

I am honored and proud to be associated with these people, and proud of the bonds we have forged since 2015, and I think you should be too. Together, we support the most vulnerable people, homeless and refugees, in a city still overflowing with vulnerable people (with many more added because of the virus), and we do it through a crew that doesn’t cease to amaze with their selflessness.

I don’t remember if I ever mentioned this, but a few years ago I was talking to a guy who did a project on Lesbos, maybe still does, and we were saying: many years from now, when looking back on your life, what will you be most proud of? We both concluded that this would certainly among the top in the list: supporting the weakest members of society. But I can’t do it without your help, which has been amazing all this time, and which I hope will continue in the same way that I am determined to continue to support this wonderful little shimmer of light.

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. Since their revenue has collapsed, ads no longer pay for all you read, and your support is now an integral part of the interaction.

Thank you.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Home Forums Automatic Earth (Not) In Athens

This topic contains 9 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  shnorb 4 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #59387

    Monastiraki Square deserted due to lockdown, Athens, Greece 2020   Well, actually, there is no Automatic Earth in Athens right now. But we’re wor
    [See the full post at: Automatic Earth (Not) In Athens]

    #59388

    Bill7
    Participant

    “It’s all Bullsh*t” – 3 Leaks that Sink the Covid Narrative In recent days a series of leaks across the globe have further shown the “official line” on coronavirus does not hold water:

    “It’s all Bullsh*t” – 3 Leaks that Sink the Covid Narrative

    #59389

    boscohorowitz
    Participant

    Best post ever, Raul, you socialistic libertarian bazooki mensch. I’ll dig up some dough soon.

    #59390

    John Day
    Participant

    Ilargi: “We’re 5 months into the pandemic, and only now can one get tested without already being on the verge of death [Update May 31: still no test available without symptoms, asymptomatic carriers be damned. Should I fake symptoms?].”
    Tell them you just lost your sense of smell, food doesn’t taste right, and it’s raw and dry in your nose and throat.
    That should get you tested.

    #59391

    John Day
    Participant

    http://www.johndayblog.com/2020/05/showdown-on-titanic.html
    Paul Craig Roberts on coronavirus as a sort of probe into the political realities of the USA in 2020.

    The Campaign Against HCQ


    ​ ​At a time when accurate information is essential, the waters are instead muddied by disinformation in the service of political, ideological, and profit agendas. The irresponsibility of those putting their self-interests first is extraordinary. It indicates that the social bond between people that made America a country has been dissolved by greed, multiculturalism, and Identity Politics. America has become a country without a common interest. It is a narcissistic state.
    ​ ​This article is limited to the campaign against HCQ. HCQ—hydroxychloroquine—has been in use for 65 years for the prevention or treatment of malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is officially labeled a safe drug. Many doctors treating Covid patients have found and reported HCQ, when used early enough together with zinc and the antibiotic azithromycin to be an effective and safe treatment.
    I have reported and made available many of the reports of HCQ’s efficacy and safety. See for example:

    Professor Didier Raoult Releases the Results of a New Hydroxychloroquine Treatment Study on 1061 Patients

    The Cure that Works Is Opposed by Fauci and CNN and Big Pharma

    80 Patients and Staff Members Come Down with Coronavirus at Texas Nursing Home – 39 of 39 Saved by Hydroxychloroquine Treatment

    Dogmatic Medical Orthodoxy Attempts to Discredit Effective Covid-19 Treatment

    Was an Effective Cure for Covid-19 Withheld?

    ​ ​MYSTERY surrounds why an anti-malaria drug is not being tested as a Covid-19 treatment in combination with zinc, which doctors say is crucial for efficacy.
    ​ ​As we reported recently, President Trump revealed he was taking hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) alongside zinc after reports that many doctors are doing the same to help ward off Covid-19.
    ​ ​Criticism of the President rose sharply after a non-randomised study published in the Lancet said that HCQ provided no benefit to hospitalised Covid-19 patients while being linked to increased deaths.
    ​ ​What the mainstream media did not point out is that the Lancet study failed to test HCQ with zinc. Other experts have found zinc to be vital for efficacy in this context.
    ​ ​Zinc, available as an over-the-counter supplement, has long been seen as an immune-system booster that helps develop immune cells, or antibodies, and can strengthen the body’s response to a virus.
    ​ ​American infectious disease specialist Joseph Rahimian explained that, in relation to Covid-19, zinc ‘does the heavy lifting and is the primary substance attacking the pathogen’. HCQ is said to work as a delivery system​ ​for zinc in fighting coronavirus.

    Malaria drug and zinc, the missing link

    ​Charles Hugh Smith: Social Media’s Plantation of the Mind (explains PCR’s observations above, maybe?)
    In the classic Plantation, everything is managed by those in charge to benefit the owners. Workers are forced to buy their necessities at The Company Store, and since the entire town and plantation is owned by the corporation, there’s no private ownership of land or housing; everyone is a serf, beholden to the owners, and since costs are artificially high at The Company Store (due to the lack of competition), the serfs have to go into debt to survive: they become debt-serfs…​
    To perfect this colonization of the mind, social media has persuaded users that they no longer need unfettered access to the entire World Wide Web/Internet: we’ll give you everything you want right here on our Plantation of the Mind…
    Once you control the politics of experience, the user isn’t even aware that what they now consider “obvious” has been molded by the plantation owners to maximize their private profits. In social media’s Plantation of the Mind, users are assured they have complete access to everything that is “fact” and “safe,” when in reality everything they see has been filtered to the benefit of the Plantation owners and their political allies in the state hierarchy.
    https://www.oftwominds.com/blogmay20/social-media-plantation5-20.html

    ​Indian Punchline looks at the effects of coronavirus on a crumbling global empire, which is losing face. Thanks Eleni.
    ​ ​The sluice gates have opened, as it were, on world politics after the ‘timeout’ through the past 2-3 months due to Covid-19. The spectacle of America’s epic war with Covid-19 under President Donald Trump’s watch creates a range of emotions in the world community — ranging from sympathy and pity to horror and derison.
    This will have consequences.
    ​ ​The pandemic has accelerated the main currents of international politics: the US’ national security strategy vis-a-vis Russia and China, the two ‘revisionist’ powers in Washington’s crosshairs; the Russia-China entente that has become an increasingly significant factor in global politics; the steady unraveling of the transatlantic alliance; and, most important, the decline of the US as a hegemonic superpower.
    ​ ​The most dramatic template is, unsurprisingly, the US-Russia-China triangle. The US-China tensions have increased and so is Washington’s prolonged standoff with Russia. This is driving Moscow and Beijing toward each other.​..
    ​ Clearly, against the backdrop of the reset of the Franco-German axis lately and taking into account Germany’s traditionally strong relations with China, the French move to harmonise with China over Hong Kong can be seen as a calculated move to differentiate Europe’s policies vis-a-vis rising China from those of the US.

    Covid-19 impacts global alignments

    #59392

    WES
    Participant

    Big drug dealers hate HCQ because it doesn’t leave it’s customer dead and broke.

    Their drugs are much more efficient at killing off customers and extracting money from their estates.

    #59393

    slatzman
    Participant

    wonderful post. I donated to our friends in Greece as well as upped my Patreon pledge, i hope others can see to do the same.

    Your site is one of the first i log into every morning to start my day with some reality.

    thanks for all you do
    cheers

    #59394

    graffiti
    Participant

    Good onya Raúl from Australia. You do great work both through this informative site and socially through your activities in Athens. We have similar organisations here in Australia but they are financed by State and staffed by full time employees and a bunch of volunteers. I am currently volunteering 3 days a week to assist mainly elderly and disabled. This is necessary because our volunteer group has dropped from 60 strong to just 3 due to Covid19. Many volunteers are retired and in the vulnerable category so they have stopped volunteering. I often question our government’s motives behind financing our organisation. On a good day I tell myself it is a good service which incidentally creates employment and economic activity due to the large number of permanent employees, vehicles, buildings etc. On a more cynical day I think it is the State abrogating some of it’s responsiblity to citizens who are past their sell by date. Does a farmer slaughter the hen that has stopped laying or the milk cow that no longer produces milk? It’s a complex issue and I take my hat off to you.

    #59395

    WES
    Participant

    Dr. D is going to be hard pressed to out do John Day’s offerings today!

    #59396

    shnorb
    Participant

    I feel you RE living alone and working alone! Hang in there my friend! Appreciate your work.

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