Let me introduce my penpal to the rest of the class.  George Tsopanakis is a communications student, Junior, at the American College of Greece.  He was also kind enough to send a few photos around the university a few other

Soccer Stadium outside the University

places

he took an interest in.  We got off to a somewhat slow start since like many students at Arizona State, but things have picked up after several weeks.  We have talked about a number of subjects including the including the terror events on September 11, 2001, how culture may affect what terrorism shows up, and local issues of both Greece and the United States.

One thing that I asked about due to culture difference is his preference between newspapers and tabloids.  For those who don’t know, from my experience as a summer study abroad in Switzerland (French area actually, despite the amount of German sourcesI have used in my papers) that the tabloids are substantially more popular than the newspapers for a number of reason such as most of the tabloids are free.  Their journalism tends to be a step above the NY Post but not as good as a broadsheet.  George told me he would prefer to support the broadsheets.  He told me two major broadsheets he prefers are the weeklies Kathimeri and Capital.

Just a couple weeks ago he told that Kathimerini published an article on the Secret Service and domestic terror threats to President Obama.  I thought that was impressive as I was unaware that anyone had paid attention outside the United States to such events like the incident in Phoenix where at one of Obama’s health care meetings a right-wing radical came with an automatic weapon to show his support for gun wielding rights.  Of course, there have been less ad-hoc threats such as those by white supremacist organizations.  Terrorism in the United States from domestic sources has generally been highly individualistic affairs, with very few individuals involved in the various plots such as Oklohoma City in 1985 and the Atlanta Olympic games bombings in 1996.

George made me aware of a couple of things that were going on in Greece as a side-effect of the United States’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  According to George there have been a number of illegal immigrants and refugees streaming into Greece from Iraq, Pakistan, and others, fleeing the conflict.

An IED exploded at the central square here a month ago.

The government has not been able to figure out how to deal with this so in a number of places rural tribal Pakistani culture has been imported without any mitigating effects.  At one point, George saw a number of Pakistanis fighting out on the street very violently; no one is sure how to deal with the situation.

Another topic I asked about were the recent protests (sometimes disrupting other people’s lives) by the various unions.  According to him, the major reason for the strikes and protests were largely the recent good weather rather than the current financial problems of the government; a point completely missed by ALL of the newspapers, radio, magazine, and television in the United States.  Not that much related to terrorism, but as one of his photos he sent, at least one union is associated with the Communist Party.  I cannot imagine the Communist Party there has been very happy about the proposed cuts in government spending especially in regards to salaries and benefits.

Union affiliated with communist party puts banner on Ministry of Finance building

On a lighter note, he informed me that a light joke that has gone around is that since the current Prime Minister was born in the United States and therefore is a US citizen (assuming he has not renounced it to assume office at any rate, I do not know the rules there) and could have become the President of the United States.  Hopefully the punchline is not related to exchanging political offices for a day.  Though I must admit that would be amusing.

Prime Minister of Greece, could have been President of the United States