Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bring many forms and your stool

ekathimerini - It took 10 months, a fat bundle of paperwork, countless certificates, long hours of haggling with bureaucrats and overcoming myriad other inconceivable obstacles for one group of young entrepreneurs to open an online store. As e-commerce continues to gain ground apace abroad, and even Greeks seem to be warming to the idea of Internet shopping, opening an online store based in Greece is no job for the fainthearted.

.....Antonopoulos and his partners spent hours collecting papers from tax offices, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the municipal service where the company is based, the health inspector’s office, the fire department and banks. At the health department, they were told that all the shareholders of the company would have to provide chest X-rays, and, in the most surreal demand of all, stool samples. Hat tip Crusader Rabbit.

Back when the EU appointed the interim prime minister of Greece, many of us were worried that the democratic process was being pushed aside. After all there was no election, no voting, he was just 'appointed'. But then we didn't know how bad things really were in Greece. We knew they've been living off borrowed money and were essentially spending far more than they were earning. But it seems that's just scratching the surface.

I've had to deal with 3rd world bureaucracies in a previous life so I have an idea of what they're like. There are endless queues, lots of wretched forms asking all sorts of seemingly pointless and intrusive questions. There are many, many departments you have to trudge around to and it takes weeks and weeks if not months. And in many cases you had to grease the odd palm to get things moving again.

However bad as it may have been, they never ever asked for a stool sample for anything, let alone to open a store. No wonder the Germans as so angry.

It makes you wonder if the EU appointing a PM for the Greeks was such a bad idea, I mean they're freaking crazy asking for stool samples. If nothing else, it weakens their case for self-governance, especially when they owe others so much money.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pray for this Christian pastor

Fox News - A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, according to sources close to the pastor and his legal team.
Supporters fear Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two who was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years.
It is unclear whether Nadarkhani can appeal the execution order.
Those of us in the west have a freedom that is unheard of in other parts of the world, particularly in the middle east. Pray for this pastor and his family. He is a real Christian, one who found Christ our lord and one who does not renounce his faith even when surrounded by merciless enemies and facing certain death.

I have met a few Christians who have come from the middle east and I must say, they are the nicest people you could meet, humble, kind, welcoming and grateful to live in this country. I guess it must be because they know how lucky they are to escape from there. I often wonder why the west doesn't actively favor the Christian immigrants from there, from what I can see we could do far worse than them and we are.

I read in the article that Hillary Clinton and 89 members of Congress, along with the European Union, France, Great Britain, Mexico and Germany have called upon Iran to release Nadarkhani, which is great to hear, maybe president Obama can add his voice to them as well. This poor man needs all the help he can get.