Greece Flag

Greece Pledges To Rehouse Migrants Made Homeless By Devastating Fires

After massive fires took out Europe’s biggest refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, the country pledged that they would rehouse any and all migrants that were made homeless within days. Notis Mitarachi is Greece’s migration minister, and recently spoke with local media outlets about their efforts to resettle more than 12,500 men, women, and children. He claimed that the Covid-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult to make this happen, however, it’s also the reason there’s such an urgency to get these individuals in a safe space, away from large crowds. 

“It’ll take a few days but all the affected people will be moved into this temporary location. We hope to have 5,000 beds ready by the end of the day.” 

Embed from Getty Images

The “temporary location” that Mitarachi was referring to is a large open plot of land that the military has been tirelessly working on building for these homeless migrants. Before anyone enters this temporary “mini community” they must be tested for Covid-19 as well. The community is set up on a former outdoor firing range, one of the largest plots of land they could find on such short notice. 

Last Tuesday, a series of fires completely obliterated a famously overcrowded migrant camp in Lesbos. Thousands of people were forced to flee into the surrounding countryside and fend for themselves until they could find some sort of safety. Many described making makeshift shelters alongside a long stretch of road so that they could remain in groups. This road led to Mytilene, the island’s port capital, that’s heavily policed. 

Beyond the sides of roads, other individuals have sought out shelter in churches, parking lots, and even cemeteries. Aid groups and authorities began bringing water and food to help these individuals, however, finding all of them after fleeing has proven to be difficult, as many don’t have the resources to make a phone call or receive help. Both the refugees and locals are also not too thrilled at the idea of relocating. 

Embed from Getty Images

Both groups of individuals are fearful of contracting Covid-19, and even though authorities are testing individuals before they enter the temporary camp, there’s still so much uncertainty regarding these refugee’s futures. Prior to the fires in Moria, 35 residents were diagnosed with the virus, leading experts to believe case numbers could very much be over 200 at this point. 

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prime minister of Greece, recently spoke with the media as well, and claimed that the combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and migration fire crisis has been an “explosive mix,” but also is aware that the fires that occurred in Moria could’ve been avoided if more refugee camps were made available. 

“I want to believe that this tragedy is a warning bell for all. I’ve requested that the EU be involved in the management of this new center wherever it is. I hope to see the flag of Greece and Europe at it.” 

Mitsotakis explained that human rights groups have been working tirelessly to improve conditions in these facilities, as they’ve long been underrun and dangerous. As of right now military authorities have been working with local government officials to continue to rehouse as many refugees as they can.

Man Running

Runners Coordinate to Support Australian Wildfire Relief Efforts

The historic and massive wildfires currently devastating Australia have inspired people around the world to raise money in order to aid in the relief efforts, as the resources necessary to combat the fires are overwhelming. The global running community is among those who are trying to help, as thousands of runners will participate in a virtual race taking place on January 18th and January 19th, with 100% of proceeds going towards relief efforts in Australia. The event, which anyone around the world with the Strava smartphone app can participate in, will consist of a 5k race and a half-marathon race, and the effort has already raised $345,000 with the event still more than a week away.

Embed from Getty Images

The idea was born when Samantha Gash, a 35-year-old endurance athlete from Australia, was watching the destruction unfold on TV and felt compelled to help in any way she could. Though she contemplated simply donating to existing organizations, she ultimately decided her efforts would be more successful if she tapped into the fundraising potential of the running community. In order to participate in the virtual event, people must enter in advance on the organization’s website and contribute a minimum of $50. Because of the large number of runners expected to participate in the event, Gash is working directly with Strava, an app that bills itself as a social network for runners, to ensure that the races go off without a hitch.

Embed from Getty Images

Thanks to the internet and the vast network of runners around the world wanting to pitch in to help Australia, the website reached dozens of countries, including the United States, New Zealand, and Germany within 48 hours of its launch. The organizers have already exceeded their wildest fundraising expectations, as their original goal was to raise just $20,000. Of course, you don’t have to be a runner to participate, as you can donate directly to relief efforts through the organization’s website even if you don’t plan to participate in the race.


Golden Globe

Celebrities Comment on Culture at 2020 Golden Globes

Last night’s Golden Globes ceremony offered a number of insights into the world of American culture as the event reflected the complex dynamic between technology, entertainment, and politics. 

As a likely consequence of fears about the impact of streaming services on the movie-going audience, Netflix won just two prizes despite holding 34 nominations, and director Sam Mendes, who won the Globe for best director, said that he hoped his prize for the World War I epic “1917” would mean that “people will turn up and see this on the big screen, the way it was intended.” Mendes’s comments mirror remarks made by Martin Scorcese, director of the acclaimed “The Irishman,” who asked audiences to watch his film in theaters if possible, despite the film being made possible thanks to a considerable investment from Netflix. As people increasingly abandon theaters for the convenience offered by mobile devices, directors fear that the cinematic experience afforded by a night at the movies faces extinction, as evidenced by their negative commentary on the nature of streaming services as well as the relative paucity of prizes award to Netflix and similar services.

Embed from Getty Images

The timing of the ceremony coincided with a number of significant political events, which celebrities unsurprisingly took the opportunity to offer their personal views on. In particular, climate change took center stage last night, as actors used their platform to draw attention to the wildfires currently devastating Australia and the world’s relative lack of action in the face of catastrophic global warming. Russell Crowe was not able to attend the ceremony as he was in Australia with his family, so Jennifer Aniston, who spoke on his behalf, pleaded with the world “to act” in the midst of this crisis in order to “respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is.” Joaqin Phoenix, too, addressed climate change while accepting his award for his performance in “Joker,” saying, “it’s really nice that so many people have sent their well wishes to Australia but we have to do more than that,” adding “we don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards.”

Coincidentally, the show took place the night before the first day of Harvey Weinstein’s trial; while nobody mentioned Weinstein by name, some celebrities addressed the problem of sexual misconduct and the value of speaking truth to power. Michelle Williams, who won the award for best actress in a limited series or TV movie for “Fosse/Verdon,” urged women to vote in their own self-interest in order to gain political power, saying “as women and as girls, things can happen to our bodies that our not our choice.” 

The new threat of war with Iran also became a subject for commentary during the show, as several actors and actresses expressed their opposition to the conflict and to President Donald Trump more generally. Patricia Arquette, while accepting an award for her role in “The Act,” criticized the president directly, saying that historians will characterize that night as “a country on the brink of war… and a president tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs including cultural sites.” She concluded by saying, “while I love my kids so much, I beg of us all to give them a better world.”

Embed from Getty Images

Last night’s ceremony functioned not just as a recognition for the talent featured in the entertainment world, but of the overall atmosphere of despair clouding the American public consciousness. This was perhaps best captured by Ricky Gervais’s nihilistic opening monologue, during which he repeatedly told the audience that he didn’t care, despite preemptively accusing his celebrity peers of hypocrisy for their political activism as they’ve done work for companies with questionable ethics like Apple and Amazon, and concluding his monologue by urging the audience to “donate to Australia.” Gervais went so far as to say, “if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech; you’re in no position to lecture the public about anything, you know nothing of the real world.” Such a scathing and nihilistic attitude is a consequence of the fatigue many of us feel in response to the extremity of recent political events, and as this fatigue continues, it is sure to manifest ever-more prominently in American culture.

Bushfire in Australia

Australia’s Bushfires Shut Down Capital City of Canberra

The bushfires in Australia have now claimed the lives of half a billion animals, 24 people, and caused extensive damage that’s almost unfathomable to imagine. These fires have been taking over the continent for a month now, and currently are burning over 13 million acres of land. Countless celebrities and individuals with high social media followings have been calling on everyone to donate what they can to relief efforts, as conditions are progressively getting worse every day. 

Recently, Canberra, the capital of Australia, was forced to shut down the Australian federal government department that is responsible for management of nationwide emergencies due to poor air quality conditions. Canberra had a rating of 340 on the Air Quality Index; for comparison, “good” air quality is considered anywhere from 0 to 50 on the Index scale. 

The Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Health branches that are located in Canberra have been closed and all non-essential staff have been told to evacuate. In general, the city has shut down most services due to the poor environmental conditions. This includes all childcare services, galleries, retail locations, schools, etc. Safety and health have now become the main priority for all living things nationwide.  

Embed from Getty Images

There’s approximately up to 200 active fires still burning in Australia, almost half remain uncontained. Australia is used to having a “fire season” alongside the winter months (January and February) however, the fires have already been blazing for over a month now, making this one of the worst fire seasons to date. Typically, fire season in Australia doesn’t affect residential areas and refreshes certain plots of land to grow new crops through the burning. Now, it’s uncertain what results will come following the containment of all the fires. 

“The crisis is not over, there are months to go. [I’m] establishing a $2 billion (1.39 billion American dollars) National Bushfire Recovery Agency to help people hit by the unprecedented bushfires get the support they needed. It’s a long road ahead and we will be with these communities every step of the way as they rebuild. The funds will be used to help get communities back on their feet by rebuilding roads, mental health support, and helping restore the local environment,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a release

Embed from Getty Images

Along with Prime Minister Morrison’s announcement, the New South Wales (NSW) police department also made a statement in which they claimed that they’re already taking legal action against 183 people for “bushfire-related offences.” The charges began in November, when the fires initially started, and the NSW police have stated 24 individuals have specifically been charged over “deliberately-lit fires” that spread out of control.  

The Australian Defence Force also made a statement this past weekend in which they said they would be increasing overall fire support and bringing in over 3,000 army reservists to help contain the natural disaster. One of the biggest Australian Navy vessels, HMAS Adelaide, is being used to evacuate up to 5,000 australians.

The conditions are growing worse. The photos online depict the entire continent to look like that of another planet. The sky is an amber red hue, smoke makes it impossible to see more than 100 feet in front of you, and citizens are constantly taking to the street to evacuate. There are countless resources that anyone from anywhere can use to help with relief efforts and all the sites are linked right here. As the fires continue to blaze and destroy the continent, more awareness is being brought to the devastation. Hopefully those with platforms continue to speak up, and those actually there remain safe and sound until this is completely contained.

Fire in the Amazon

Fighting Fire With Fire: How Smoke From Fires In Africa Are Keeping The Amazon Alive

“There have been a total of 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region. That’s more than an 80% increase compared with the same period last year. The Amazon is also often referred to as the planet’s lungs, producing 20% of the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere”