Greece Demands $300 Bil. from Germany over Nazi Occupation

As Greece gets closer and closer to dropping out of the Eurozone due to an inability to restructure its bailout agreement with the European Union and the various European governments, the left-wing Syriza government has demanded 279 million euros from Germany as reparations for the Nazi occupation of Greece during World War 2. With an outstanding debt of over 320 billion euros, this sum would go very far towards giving the Greeks government and people some relief from the harsh austerity measures that have been put in place so that bailout money keeps flowing into the country. The Syriza party was elected on the promise that it would overturn these harsh measures and so far it has been unable to do so, leading some to see this as a last-minute gambit.marilyn gardner milton, greece

That being said, the Greeks do have a strong argument for reparations due to the Nazi regime. It all began in 1941 and lasted 4 years as allied Axis troops from Germany and Italy moved into the country. During those 4 years, over 250,000 Greeks died. Many of those deaths were due to torture and executions and around 40,000 people starved to death in Athens alone. Along with the deaths of so many people, the Nazis also removed centuries of valuable artifacts from Greek museums and buildings as well as forcing Greek banks to loan them billions of today’s money; money that Germany has never paid back to this day.

The demand for reparations has already been noticed by the German government as being both close to the total amount of debt Greece owes as well as coming at a time when the Greek government is struggling to make any sort of headway in diplomatic talks about changing the terms of the outline deal. Both the German Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister have said that there will be no reparations coming from Germany to Greece and it seems as though it might stay like that. There is a history of successive Greek governments trying to get reparations from the Germans due to Nazi actions for years and they have never met any sort of success. The country has already set up a new panel to write a proposal for their demands and there has been talk of seizing German assets within Greece. Over 80% of Greeks think that they’re owed reparations and the fact that the German’s haven’t even returned much of the art and artifacts that were stolen means that there is strength to their claim.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Boris Nemtsov Was More Than Just a Man

Russia is a scary place for people who disagree with President Vladimir Putin and his allies. As Russia continues to isolate itself through actions in Ukraine and the constant testing of the defense response times of various NATO and Baltic states, those who speak out in favor of reconciliation and a calming of tensions face anger, threats of arrest, and sometimes violence that can lead to death. Putin’s reign has allowed a new and toxic strain of fascism and nationalism (ironically he claims to be fighting against fascism) to envelop Russian politics and everyday life as his supporters feel as though they have impunity to threaten and attack members of the opposition. This became even clearer after the murder of opposition figure, Boris Nemtsov.marilyn_gardner_milton_boris_nemtsov

Nemtsov was more than just an opposition figure who wanted to change the way Russia was being run. He started off as a politician and had a successful career under former president Boris Yeltsin and once Putin came into power, became a leading opposition figure who spoke out against the Kremlin. But Boris was also more than just an opposition figure striving to change the way Russian politics work. He was able to speak to people of all backgrounds and political beliefs and bring them together under a cohesive narrative that spoke to each one in a different way. Nemtsov had the ability to draw nationalists, communists, liberals, and all sorts of people from the fractious Russian opposition together under one banner aimed at forcing change in the Russian government.

While his death is going to be mourned for a number of reasons (all of which are fully deserved), it is this ability to speak across boundaries that is going to be the biggest blow to the Russian opposition movement. While the opposition movement will eventually recover from the death of Nemtsov and while this murder might force the Kremlin to tone down the anti-opposition rhetoric it has been spewing recently (it has called them traitors and is now doubt spurring the violence opposition members face), his death will most likely never be solved and will force all of those in the opposition to live in fear. The toxic political climate that Putin has created in Russia seems like it’s going to continue to get worse and I can only hope that no more people in the opposition get targeted and assassinated like Boris Nemtsov was. He has left a giant whole and the need to unify all of those against the Kremlin is now going to be that much more difficult.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

IS Burns Jordanian Pilot Alive in Video

Ever since it’s swift and brutal rise to power in both Syria and Iraq, ISIS has consistently been able to both shock and horrify the world through the use of social media and the filmed execution of hostages. While people were already in horror about how and what the terrorist organization have been doing, the latest video that they released has taken that horror to new levels and shown the world just how callous and barbaric the terrorist organization truly is. On Tuesday the terrorist group released a new video showing the fate of captured Jordanian fighter pilot, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, whose plane crashed in ISIS territory and was captured alive by ISIS fighters. The video shows al-Kaseasbeh locked in a cage and covered in petroleum before a masked ISIS fighter lights a trail of gasoline that engulfs the pilot, burning him to death while alive.

(Photo: Nasser Nasser, AP)

(Photo: Nasser Nasser, AP)

Lt. al-Kaseasbeh’s fighter jet either crashed in enemy territory or was shot down by ISIS militants in December and had been a captive since then. ISIS then tried to use him as a bargaining chip to secure the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman who was part of the triple bombing of Jordanian hotels in 2005. While the Jordanian government seemed open to the trade, ISIS would only give proof of live that al-Kaseasbeh was alive in return for al-Rishawi and wouldn’t agree to an actual trade. When the deadline for the trade passed with no side budging on their demands, ISIS released the video showing the execution of al-Kaseasbeh to the general public.

What ISIS was planning to accomplish with this video is unknown, other than the obvious desire to shock the west with examples of their brutality. The burning seems to have infuriated the country of Jordan and is going to lead to them taking a much more active part in the battle against the terrorist organization. The murder of al-Kaseasbeh followed the murder of two Japanese hostages as well, showing that ISIS is willing make enemies of countries who had previously had no part in fighting the group. Unfortunately, the video will also probably lead to more recruits signing up for to fight with the terrorists and that might’ve been the purpose for it the entire time.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

12 Dead in Attack of French Satire Magazine

Today the world woke up to a tragedy in Paris, France as news reports began trickling in about a massacre at one of France’s most esteemed and beloved satire magazines, Charlie Hebdo. It turns out that two or three masked gunmen armed with AK-47s and using what seems to be military training and discipline stormed the office of the magazine and began firing before engaging in a shootout with police, hijacking a car, and making a successful getaway. While we don’t know who was behind the attack, the attackers were heard yelling about how they had avenged the prophet as well as “Allahu akbar”, an arabic phrase meaning “God is great”. It is believed that the offices of Charlie Hebdo were attacked due to the magazine continuously poking fun at Mohammed and illustration cartoons of him, something that is forbidden in Islam.

Among the dead were a number of higher-ups in the magazine and possibly some of the policemen who initially responded to the attack and engaged the much-heavier armed terrorists before they managed to escape. It seems as though the attackers were looking to kill as many as they could as well as a certain group of cartoonists and editors at the magazine. Reports say that the attackers asked for editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier (also known as Charb) and well-known cartoonists Jean Cabut (aka Cabu), Bernard Verlhac (aka Tingous), and Georges Wolinski to make sure that they were amongst the dead before fleeing the building. While Charlie Hebdo has faced attacks in the past (it had previously been firebombed in 2011), this is the first time people have died. There is no other way to look at this attack than one on freedom of speech and democracy. While Islam is the only religion major to forbid the creation of human form in art, both Christianity and Judaism frown upon that sort of thing too.

With reports also claiming that one of the gunmen told a civilian that Al-Qaeda in Yemen was responsible for this, it seems as though it was an ideologically motivated attack. However until someone gets caught or takes credit publically, we won’t know the true reasons behind the attack and can only speculate. Our hearts go out to France and those who lost loved ones and we hope that those who did it will be caught soon and brought to the fullest extent of the law.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.