The following assignments, written for NYU, are intended for readers who are not familiar with the economic situation in Greece.

Please visit my Greek news blog written with a colleague for more reportage concerning Greece.

Measures to strengthen EU borders requires citizen passport checks, targets Greece

15 Nov. 2015

NEW YORK— The European Commission announced new measures today to protect the external borders of the Schengen by implementing the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Mandatory passport checks at the Schengen borders will now be required for EU citizens. The European Border and Coast Guard agency is authorized to intervene with uncooperative states.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency is an extension of Frontex and member states’ authorities. The plan applies to the Schengen states and the borders of EU member states, “which have not yet acceded to the Schengen area, but are bound to do so,” according to a press release. The agency has fifteen hundred border guards, provided by unnamed EU states, which can be discharged in a matter of days.

Greece will be significantly affected by the proposals due to its geographical position. In an interview with ERT, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Kotzias is concerned that “[the commission] is rushing a great deal on certain things.”

“The problems have to be resolved in a democratic manner, within the framework of the treaties,” Kotzias said. “We have said that the process and regulation for Frontex can certainly change, but any change must be in line with articles 72 and 79 of the Treaty on the European Union, which prioritizes each member state’s sovereign interests with regard to defending its security and the immigration issue.”

Additionally, mandatory passport checks could result in even longer waits at Greek borders. The commissioners address the issue of inefficiency, stating, “In principle, since controls on documents and persons can be carried out in parallel, authorities should be able to consult relevant databases without delaying border crossings.”

But it is evident that Greece is in need of border control and that the European Border and Coast Guard Agency is a potential solution. “The new border guard system will replace the EU’s largely toothless Frontex agency, which has failed to tackle the flows of people on routes including Turkey to Greece and through the Western Balkans,” according to Ekathimerini (via AFP).

In September, Greece called on the EU for migration aid, resulting in Frontex to deploy officers to the state.

The commission states that the plan is temporary. “These are the costs of a riskier world and we cannot avoid them,” said President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

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A brief history of the crisis

Focus: austerity

15 December 2015

What we refer to as the “crisis” today spans back decades, but the harbinger of economic calamity was in 2009 when the federal government discovered that the deficit was 15.7% of GDP (Eurostat). To stay in the Eurozone, Greece’s deficit had to be 3% or lower (Stability and Growth Pact of Europe).

The first bailout package was €110 billion in 2010. Today, Greece’s debt is even higher. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), Germany, France, and other European nations paid for the bailout package. To pay off the package, and in an attempt to spur the economy, austerity measures were implemented.

Austerity measures dramatically cut pensions, health care services, government salaries, and access to electricity, and raised VAT. From 2010 to 2012, seven more austerity packages were put in effect. Packages were implemented less frequently after 2012, but to this day and for decades to come, Greece will suffer from poverty and unemployment (currently at 25.9%). Austerity led to public demonstrations and riots.

In January and September 2015, momentous parliamentary elections were held. Alexis Tsipras was elected Prime Minister and led SYRIZA, both new to parliamentary leadership. The cabinet was reelected in September though most members remained in their positions. In less than one year, Greece largely rebuilt its politics.

Additionally, there were momentous events and referendums in 2015. Greeks voted “OXI” (“NO”) to more austerity measures and another bailout package (this one for €86 billion) in the July referendum. On July 30, Greece missed a payment to the troika (the three committees who organize loans to Greece: the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission). Four weeks ago, more austerity measures commenced despite promises to end the agony.

Today, the opposition to SYRIZA, New Democracy, increases. The country is changing in other ways: thousands of refugees are living and passing through Greece. The future of Greece is questionable and changing quickly.

This report has been translated to Greek. See below.

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Μία μικρή ιστορία για την κρίση

με μια συγκέντρωση στη λιτότητα

Δεκ. 15 2015

Η κρίση έχει μια μακρά ιστορία, αλλά άρχισε το 2009, όταν η κυβέρνηση έβρισκε πόσο κακό το έλλειμμα ήταν. Το έλλειμμα ήταν 15,7% του ακαθάριστου εγχώριου προϊόντος (ΑΕΠ). Να μείνει στην ευρωζώνη, χρειάστηκε 3%.

Λοιπόν, το πρώτο πακέτο διάσωσης συνέβηκε στο 2010. Ήταν €110 δισεκατομμύρια. Σημέρα, είναι περισσότερα. Το IMF, η Γερμανία, η Γαλλία, και η άλλα πληρώθηκαν για το πακέτο διάσωσης. Να πληρώνεται για το πακέτο διάσωσης, και να επιδιορφώνει την οικονομία, το IMF, το κοινοβούλιο, η Γερμανία, και η άλλα έκαναν τα μέτρα λιτότητας.

Τα μέτρα λιτότητας κόβονται τις συντάξεις, την ασφάλιση υγείας, το ηλεκτρισμό, τους μισθούς, και αύξηση τον ΦΠΑ και την βενζίνη, και άλλα. Υπάρχουν 7 πακέτα λιτότητας απο το 2010 μέχρι το 2012, και πίο πολλά τώρα. Πακέτα εφαρμόστηκαν λιγότερο συχνά μετά το 2012, αλλά σήμερα και για πολύ καιρό, η Ελλάδα θα υποφέρουν από τη φτώχεια και την ανεργία (σήμερα 25,9%). Αυτό οδηγεί σε διαμαρτυρία.

Τον Ιανουάριο και τον Σεπτεμβρίου στο 2015, υπήρξαν σημαντικές εκλογές. Ο Αλέξης Τσίπρας ήταν εκλέχθηκε τον Ιανούαριο, και μια νέα κόμματα υπάρχει στον κοινοβούλιο. Το ηγετικό κομμα είναι ΣΥΡΙΖΑ. Το νέο υπουργικό συμβούλιο εκλέχθηκε τον Σεπτέμβριο. Σε λιγότερο από ένα χρόνο, η Ελλάδα άλλαξε πολλές πολιτικές.

Υπήρξαν σημαντικά γεγονότα στο 2015. Οι Έλληνες ψήφισαν ΟΧΙ στο δημοψήφισμα, αυτό σημαίνει οτι άλλο πακέτο διάσωσης (για ογδόντα έξι δισεκατομμύρια ευρώ) και άλλη λιτότητα. Τον 30 Ιούλιου, έχασε την πληρωμή της τρόικας. Πριν από 4 εβδομάδες, περισσότερα μέτρα λιτότητας άρχισαν.

Σήμερα, η αντιπολίτευση να ΣΥΡΙΖΑ, η Νέα Δημοκρατία αυξάνεται. Η χώρα αλλάζει και με άλλους τρόπους: χιλιάδες πρόσφυγες μένουν και διέρχεται από την Ελλάδα. Το μέλλον της Ελλάδα είναι αμφισβητήσιμη καί αλλάζει γρήγορα.

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The following works have been published online. Click the headlines to see more.

Washington Square News

Student poet wins publishing deal

When CAS sophomore Moumita Basuroychowdhury bravely submitted her personal diary to the Oblongata Chapbook Contest, she did not expect anything to come of it. However, Basuroychowdhury’s won first prize — a publishing deal.

Basuroychowdhury’s first book, “Live Nude,” was released on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on Feb. 28.

“Live Nude” is a 48-page book of poetry with a few short stories that draw from entries in Basuroychowdhury’s diary.

The Oblongata Chapbook Contest is a national competition held by the Medulla Review Publishing. The contest was open to works of experimental poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Basuroychowdhury’s competitors included many experienced and published poets and authors.

“Live Nude” was created during Basuroychowdhury’s Impossible Writing class in fall 2012.

“I was supposed to send in an assignment but I accidentally sent in my diary,” she said. “A classmate complimented it. Most of what is published now was submitted to the contest.”

Basuroychowdhury started writing at the beginning of high school and said she knew she would be a writer from a young age.

“I was aiming to write a book farther down the line,” she said. “I didn’t think I would have a published book of poetry because I didn’t think I was a poet.”

Basuroychowdhury, who is currently studying at NYUDC, describes her style as surrealist. She cites poets Sylvia Plath and Charles Bukowski as inspirations for her work.

“These influences really shape my writing,” said Basuroychowdhury.

Seth Borenstein, a professor of journalism at NYUDC and Basuroychowdhury’s current teacher, is very impressed with his student’s poetry.

“[Her poetry] is vivid and vibrant, it uses verbs strongly, and doesn’t rely on adjectives and adverbs,” Borenstein said. “If you’ve read her poetry, you’re not surprised that she won.”

Borenstein was also surprised to find out that Basuroychowdhury was a poet, especially as an economics major.

“She does not fit the stereotype of a poet,” he said. “She is a little shy, and in the world of economics, we don’t expect strong and vivid writers.”

CAS junior Omid Golmohammadi is familiar with Basuroychowdhury’s poetry. He said that “Mowgli” is one of his favorite poems from the book. “Mowgli” is a poem about a little girl in which the narrator’s strong personality shines through.

“I see her fierce stubbornness, her immense curiosity and her independence,” Golmohammadi said.

Another of Golmohammadi’s favorites from the book is the short story “Clock Tower.”

“It was just such an amazing piece of social commentary told from the point of view of a clock tower,” Golmohammadi said. “By the end of it, I was actually sad and I felt for a clock tower. And that is what good writing is supposed to be like.”

Basuroychowdhury keeps 10 different journals and avidly posts her work on Tumblr. She said she plans to submit her work to more contests and is interested in trying slam poetry. She advises aspiring poets to carry around a journal and to never be afraid to have someone else read what they have written.

“Chances are, it’s good,” Basuroychowdhury said.

(Disclaimer: Moumita Basuroychowdhury has been a contributing writer for WSN.)

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 3 print edition. Madeleine Ball is a contributing writer. Email her at features@nyunews.com.

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Beatles return to New York City in library exhibition

Fifty years after their first visit, the Beatles have returned to New York City, this time  in the form of an exhibition curated by the Grammy Museum at the New York Public Library. The exhibition, Ladies and Gentlemen… The Beatles! covers the history of the Beatles’ influence in America, from the band’s premiere on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964 to their final full concert in 1966 at Candlestick Park, San Francisco.

Museum curator and NYU alumna Barbara Cohen-Stratyner said the items featured in the exhibition are a project of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles that were brought to the NYPL. She said the tour of Ladies and Gentlemen… The Beatles! complements the Beatles’ 50-year anniversary appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” on Feb. 9, 1964.

“The exhibit displays the profound impact of pop music in America,” Cohen-Stratyner said.

As museum-goers enter the exhibit, “All My Loving” plays over the speakers. The collection begins with the band’s influences and moves chronologically through the band’s time in the United States. The exhibit includes concert footage, newspaper headlines from the era and rare photographs. There are installations and interactive pieces such as a vocal booth, a replica of a 1964 teenage girl’s bedroom and audiovisual history lessons.

One of the most notable items is George Harrison’s guitar.

“People tiptoe around it,” Cohen-Stratyner said.

The exhibit also features an interactive lesson on drums from Ringo Starr.

Neil Offen, from Chapel Hill, N.C., visited the museum and said he was most fascinated by the interactive drum.

“It makes you feel like you’re a part of the band,” Offen said. “[The exhibit] combines memorabilia, music and Beatle fandom all in one.”

Myra Yousef, a New York City resident and exhibit visitor, said she was impressed by the details included in the replica of a teenage girl’s bedroom, including catalogues and posters by the nightstand.

“I love [the recreation],” Yousef said. “It’s accurate.”

Offen said the showing could have benefited from expanding the exhibit’s scope.

“The exhibit is focused on only [a] few years,” Offen said. “You don’t get a sense of how the band started or, more interestingly, ended.”

The exhibit will remain at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, 40 Lincoln Center Place until May 10. Admission is free.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 24 print edition. Madeleine Ball is a contributing writer. Email her at features@nyunews.com. 

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The following is a press release for a Connecticut State Senate candidate. More here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

17 June 2014

Phil Sharlach Nominated to Run for 26th Senatorial District

Weston, CT— Wilton resident and business executive Phil Sharlach has been nominated by delegates at the Connecticut Democratic Party’s Convention to be the 26th District Senatorial candidate. The 26th Senatorial District includes Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

Thirty plus years of experience at Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (G.A.O.) highlight Mr. Sharlach’s successful career in management and consulting. Mr. Sharlach developed the organizational and financial management plan for the breakup of A.T.&T. His consulting experience with many industries allows him to tackle inefficiencies of the state budget, government operations and tax burdens faced by constituents of the 26th district.

“I am listening to the 26th district. Our senatorial district is the financial backbone of Connecticut. I can advocate for and receive a greater share of the services and funds from our state government. My experience has shown that we can improve upon the revenue stream in compliance with existing legislation,” said Sharlach.

Wilton D.T.C. member Jason Cutler applauded Sharlach’s nationwide business acumen.

“As a management consultant, he built business strategies for NutriSystem, Weight Watchers and Verizon, and developed a strong skill set for the 26th district. Sharlach has the talent and ability to dig into budget items and think creatively.”

In 2006, Sharlach retired and immediately used his corporate background to assist others. Mr. Sharlach currently serves on the board of Area 9 Cable Council where he has been an advocate for greater transparency in government. He is an active adviser for SCORE, a non-profit business consulting service that trains entrepreneurs to launch small businesses. A veteran himself, Mr. Sharlach has long supported veteran mental health care with OnGo Health. He was the recipient of the 2014 Patient Support Award by Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield County on May 20.

“We are ready to win this race for Phil. Our towns deserve proactive leadership with a strong focus on local business and commitment to creative thinking. We welcome Phil to the team,” said Susan Cocco, Ridgefield D.T.C. chair.

Mr. Sharlach graduated from Quinnipiac University in 1968 and served in the U.S. Army until 1974. He has lived in Wilton for 30 years with his wife Suzanne on Snowberry Lane in Wilton. They have two sons, Steven and Darren and three grandchildren.

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