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Posts Tagged ‘Yannis Behrakis

Haunting Images Of Refugee Crisis

Pulitzer winner Yannis Behrakis

Two teams of photographers working for The New York Times and Reuters received the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography on Monday for documenting the journeys of migrants and refugees.

The photographers followed hundreds of thousands of people traveling from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to Europe over the past year, shining a light on the harsh realities of the trip and the thin line between hope and desperation along the way.

Among the winners were Yannis Behrakis, Alkis Konstantinidis and Alexandros Avramidis, three Greeks working for Reuters who captured the fight for survival within their own country’s borders. Their work took them from the shores of the Aegean islands to the port of Piraeus to the Greece-Macedonia border.

Their voice was heard through our photographs and our stories,” said Pulitzer winner Yannis Behrakis.
huffingtonpost.com

Behrakis, an award-winning photographer who serves as Reuters’ chief photographer in Greece, wrote on his Facebook page that this is the first time Greece is taking home a Pulitzer. He said he’s proud of sharing the prize with two younger colleagues he considers to be his students.

“With many personal sacrifices we achieved what we wanted, which was to become the voice of these people that come to this dot of land in the Aegean, seeing it as their last hope,” Behrakis told Athens News Agency. “The people on the islands welcomed them, showed them love and us journalists, who were there a very long time, finally became [like] life vests for them. Their voice was heard through our photographs and our stories.”

The photographers’ Pulitzer-winning images for Reuters can be seen below. Please note that some of them may be disturbing to viewers.

    • Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters
A Macedonian police officer in the Greek border town of Idomeni raises his baton to stop migrants from entering Macedonia on Aug. 22, 2015.
An overcrowded raft carrying Syrian refugees drifts in the Aegean Sea after its motor broke down off the Greek island of Kos on Aug. 11, 2015.
    • Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
An Afghan migrant jumps off an overcrowded raft onto the Greek island of Lesbos on Oct. 19, 2015.
    • Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
A Syrian refugee holds onto his children as he struggles to walk off a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos on Sept. 24, 2015.
    • Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
Amoun, a blind 70-year-old refugee who lived in the town of Aleppo in Syria, rests on a beach moments after landing on the Greek island of Kos with 40 other people on Aug. 12, 2015.
    • Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
An Afghan migrant looks out a bus window after reaching the port of Piraeus in Greece. He and 2,500 other migrants arrived by passenger ferry from the island of Lesbos on Oct. 8, 2015.
    • Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
Migrants and refugees near Idomeni, Greece, beg Macedonian police to allow them across the border during a rainstorm on Sept. 10, 2015.
    • Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
Syrian refugees walk through the mud as they cross the border from Greece into Macedonia on Sept. 10, 2015.
    • Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
A Syrian refugee kisses his daughter as he walks through a rainstorm towards Greece’s border with Macedonia on Sept. 10, 2015.
    • Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
A Syrian refugee holding a baby swims toward shore after their dinghy deflated off the coast of Lesbos, Greece, on Sept. 13, 2015.
    • Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
A Syrian refugee tries to catch his breath as he stands in a crowded line to register at a stadium on the Greek island of Kos on Aug. 12, 2015.

 

Buy Experiences, Not Things

Live in anticipation, gathering stories and memories. New research builds on the vogue mantra of behavioral economics.

Northern lights over a camp north of the Arctic Circle, October 2014 Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

47% of the time, the average mind is wandering. (I think that ratio is little)

It wanders about a third of the time while a person is reading, talking with other people, or taking care of children.

It wanders 10 percent of the time during sex.

And that wandering, according to psychologist Matthew Killingsworth, is not good for well-being. (I must be good, otherwise we all die early on from stress)

A mind belongs in one place. During his training at Harvard, Killingsworth compiled those numbers and built a scientific case for every cliché about living in the moment.

In a 2010 Science paper co-authored with psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, the two wrote that “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” (Depending where the mind is wandering toward)

For Killingsworth, happiness is in the content of moment-to-moment experiences.

Nothing material is intrinsically valuable, except in whatever promise of happiness it carries.

Satisfaction in owning a thing does not have to come during the moment it’s acquired, of course. It can come as anticipation or nostalgic longing.

Overall, though, the achievement of the human brain to contemplate events past and future at great, tedious length has, these psychologists believe, come at the expense of happiness. Minds tend to wander to dark, not whimsical, places. Unless that mind has something exciting to anticipate or sweet to remember.

James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He writes the health column for the monthly magazine and hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk. | More

Mean self-reported ratings
(Kumar et al, Psychological Science/The Atlantic)

Waiting for an experience apparently elicits more happiness and excitement than waiting for a material good (and more “pleasantness” too—an eerie metric).

By contrast, waiting for a possession is more likely fraught with impatience than anticipation. “You can think about waiting for a delicious meal at a nice restaurant or looking forward to a vacation,” Kumar told me, “and how different that feels from waiting for, say, your pre-ordered iPhone to arrive. Or when the two-day shipping on Amazon Prime doesn’t seem fast enough.”

Gilovich’s prior work has shown that experiences tend to make people happier because they are less likely to measure the value of their experiences by comparing them to those of others.

For example, Gilbert and company note in their new paper, many people are unsure if they would rather have a high salary that is lower than that of their peers, or a lower salary that is higher than that of their peers. With an experiential good like vacation, that dilemma doesn’t hold. Would you rather have two weeks of vacation when your peers only get one? Or four weeks when your peers get eight? People choose four weeks with little hesitation.

Experiential purchases are also more associated with identity, connection, and social behavior. Looking back on purchases made, experiences make people happier than do possessions.

It’s kind of counter to the logic that if you pay for an experience, like a vacation, it will be over and gone; but if you buy a tangible thing, a couch, at least you’ll have it for a long time.

Actually most of us have a pretty intense capacity for tolerance, or hedonic adaptation, where we stop appreciating things to which we’re constantly exposed. iPhones, clothes, couches, et cetera, just become background. They deteriorate or become obsolete.

It’s the fleetingness of experiential purchases that endears us to them. Either they’re not around long enough to become imperfect, or they are imperfect, but our memories and stories of them get sweet with time. Even a bad experience becomes a good story.

When it rains through a beach vacation, as Kumar put it, “People will say, well, you know, we stayed in and we played board games and it was a great family bonding experience or something.”

Even if it was negative in the moment, it becomes positive after the fact. That’s a lot harder to do with material purchases because they’re right there in front of you. “When my Macbook has the colorful pinwheel show up,” he said, “I can’t say, well, at least my computer is malfunctioning!”

“At least my computer and I get to spend more time together because it’s working so slowly,” I offered.

“Yes, exactly.”

“Maybe we should destroy our material possessions at their peak, so they will live on in an idealized state in our memories?”

“I don’t know if I’d go that far,” he said. “The possibility of making material purchases more experiential is sort of interesting.”

That means making purchasing an experience, which is terrible marketing-speak, but in practical terms might mean buying something on a special occasion or on vacation or while wearing a truly unique hat. Or tying that purchase to subsequent social interaction. Buy this and you can talk about buying it, and people will talk about you because you have it.

“Turns out people don’t like hearing about other people’s possessions very much,” Kumar said, “but they do like hearing about that time you saw Vampire Weekend.”

I can’t imagine ever wanting to hear about someone seeing Vampire Weekend, but I get the point.

Reasonable people are just more likely to talk about their experiential purchases than their material purchases. It’s a nidus for social connection. (“What did you do this weekend?” “Well! I’m so glad you asked … “)

The most interesting part of the new research, to Kumar, was the part that “implies that there might be notable real-world consequences to this study.”

It involved analysis of news stories about people waiting in long lines to make a consumer transaction. Those waiting for experiences were in better moods than those waiting for material goods. “You read these stories about people rioting, pepper-spraying, treating each other badly when they have to wait,” he said.

It turns out, those sorts of stories are much more likely to occur when people are waiting to acquire a possession than an experience. When people are waiting to get concert tickets or in line at a new food truck, their moods tend to be much more positive.

“There are actually instances of positivity when people are waiting for experiences,” Kumar said, like talking to other people in the concert line about what songs Vampire Weekend might play. So there is opportunity to connect with other people.

“We know that social interaction is one of the most important determinants of human happiness, so if people are talking with each other, being nice to one another in the line, it’s going to be a lot more pleasant experience than if they’re being mean to each other which is what’s (more) likely to happen when people are waiting for material goods.”

Research has also found that people tend to be more generous to others when they’ve just thought about an experiential purchase as opposed to a material purchase. They’re also more likely to pursue social activities.

So, buying those plane tickets is good for society. (Of course, maximal good to society and personal happiness comes from pursuing not happiness but meaning. All of this behavioral economics-happiness research probably assumes you’ve already given aw9% of your income to things bigger than yourself, and there’s just a very modest amount left to maximally utilize.)

What is it about the nature of imagining experiential purchases that’s different from thinking about future material purchases?

The most interesting hypothesis is that you can imagine all sort of possibilities for what an experience is going to be. “That’s what’s fun,” Kumar said. “It could turn out a whole host of ways.”

With a material possession, you kind of know what you’re going to get. Instead of whetting your appetite by imagining various outcomes, Kumar put it, people sort of think, Just give it to me now.

It could turn out that to get the maximum utility out of an experiential purchase, it’s really best to plan far in advance. Savoring future consumption for days, weeks, years only makes the experience more valuable.

It definitely trumps impulse buying, where that anticipation is completely squandered. (Never impulse-buy anything ever.)

That sort of benefit would likely be a lot stronger in an optimistic person as opposed to a pessimistic person. Some people hate surprises. Some people don’t anticipate experiences because they dwell on what could—no, will—go wrong. But we needn’t dwell in their heads.

Everyone can decide on the right mix of material and experiential consumption to maximize their well-being. The broader implications, according to Gilovich in a press statement, are that “well-being can be advanced by providing infrastructure that affords experiences, such as parks, trails, and beaches, as much as it does material consumption.” Or at least the promise of that infrastructure, so we can all look forward to using it. And when our minds wander, that’s where they’ll go.

 

 

 

Winning an Election Does Not Mean Winning Power

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on Syriza and the struggle for a better Europe.

Alexis Tsipras and Pablo Iglesias at a Syriza rally this month. Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

Alexis Tsipras and Pablo Iglesias at a Syriza rally this month. Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

Syriza’s expected victory in tomorrow’s Greek elections is part of a crescendo of anti-austerity movements across Europe. Throughout the upsurge, many formations have connected with one another, secure in the knowledge that they’re fighting the same enemy.

Though the approaches of the two parties differ, Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras has developed a particularly close relationship with his counterpart in Spain, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, appearing at demonstrations together and conferring in private.

The following, translated by Dan DiMaggio and edited for clarity, is a speech Iglesias delivered at a Syriza event in October.


Good evening. Change is in the air in Greece. Change is in the air in Southern Europe. Brothers and sisters, it’s an honor to speak in front of you today.

It’s an honor to be in Athens just a few months before this country will finally have a popular government headed by Alexis Tsipras. This government will be the first in a series of governments which are destined to recover the sovereignty and dignity of the people of Southern Europe.

Brothers and sisters, we are called upon to reconstruct democracy — European democracy — against the totalitarianism of the market.

Some will want to call us euroskeptics. To all those hypocrites, I want to remind them today, from Greece, from a country that was a model of anti-Nazi resistance, that the best of the European democratic tradition is antifascism.

And that our program to recover our social benefits and our sovereignty is inspired by the example of our grandparents who confronted this horror and fought for a democratic Europe that could only be based on social justice and liberty.

Many things unite the Greek and Spanish people to lead a new European project. But today I want to highlight the historic example of our populations in the antifascist resistance and the struggle for liberty and democracy.

They’ve wanted to look down on us as “Mediterraneans.”

They’ve called us “PIGS.” They’ve wanted to turn us into a periphery.

They want us to be countries of cheap labor forces.

They want our young people to be the servants of rich tourists.

Today we say that we are proud to be from the South, and that from the South we are going to return to Europe and to all its peoples the dignity that they deserve.

But I don’t want my speech today to be a compendium of sterile encouragement. We are among comrades, and it’s time now to accept responsibility for the difficulty of the tasks confronting us.

I just got back from Latin America.

There I was able to meet with Evo Morales, with Rafael Correa, and with Pepe Mujica. I am sure that many of you were excited when you saw State of Siege by Costas Gavras and learned about the Tupamaros. Today, an ex-guerrilla, a Tupamaro, is president of Uruguay.

I also met with many government ministers and political leaders. Among them was the son of Miguel Enriquez, leader of the MIR, who died in combat in 1974 in Chile. It was moving to remember the Chilean experience — the experience of democratic socialism to which we also aspire.

But upon seeing the son of Enriquez, I remembered what Salvador Allende said to the young members of the MIR: “We haven’t chosen the terrain. We have inherited it.

We have the government, but we don’t have power.” That bitter clarity of Allende is something I also found among our brother-presidents in Latin America.

What we have ahead of us is not going to be an easy road. We first have to win the elections — and only afterwards will the real difficulties begin.

The polls say that in Greece Syriza will win the next election. In Spain the polls say that we have already passed the Socialist Party, that we are competing to become the second strongest electoral force in the country, and that every day we are seen more and more as the real opposition force.

We already have more than 130,000 members, and we will leave our constituent assembly next month with our organizational muscle ready. It will be hard, but it’s entirely possible that Podemos in Spain, like Syriza in Greece and Sinn Fein in Ireland, will lead a political change. But it is essential that we understand that winning an election does not mean winning power.

To speak of fiscal reform, an audit of the national debt, of collective control over the strategic sectors of the economy, of defense and improvement of public services, of the recovery of sovereign powers and our industrial fabric, of employment policies through investment, of favoring consumption, and of ensuring that public financial entities protect small and medium enterprises and families is what any social democrat in Western Europe would have talked about thirty or 40 years ago.

But today, a program like this means a threat to the global financial powers. There is a worldwide party that is much stronger than the Third International was. It’s the party of Wall Street, which has functionaries everywhere. These functionaries have many ID cards.

Some have cards from New Democracy, others from Pasok, others from Merkel’s CDU, others from the Socialist Party in Spain or France. Juncker, Merkel, Rajoy, Samaras, Hollande, and Renzi are all members of the same party — the party of Wall Street. They are the Finance International.

This is why, no matter how modest our objectives are, no matter how wide the consensus in our societies regarding them is, we must not lose sight that we are confronting a minority with a lot of power, with very few scruples, and fearful of the electoral results when their parties don’t win. Don’t forget that the powerful almost never accept the results of elections when they don’t like them.

Brothers and sisters, we have a historic task of enormous dimensions ahead of us. What we have to do goes far beyond getting electoral support. We are called upon to defend democracy and sovereignty, but what’s more, we have to defend them on a terrain, like Allende said, that we ourselves have not chosen.

That’s why we have to deal with sectarians strictly. Revolutionaries are not defined by the t-shirts that they wear. They are not defined by converting theoretical tools into a religion. The duty of a revolutionary is not to take pictures of themselves with a hammer and sickle — the duty of a revolutionary is to win.

That’s why our duty is to get closer to civil society. We need the best with us. We need the best economists, the best scientists, the best public sector workers, in order to manage the administration and carry out viable and effective public policies.

Patriotism is not threatening someone, or believing you are better because you have another skin color, or because you speak a language, or because you were born where your mother’s water broke.

The true patriots know that to be proud of your country is to see that all the children — no matter where they come from — go to schools clean, clothed, well-fed, and with shoes on their feet. To love your country is to defend that your grandparents have a pension and that if they get sick that they are attended to in the best public hospitals.

We also need to strengthen our ties with workers in the public finance office, and all other public offices. Some believe that it’s the leaders who make the hospitals, schools, media, and transportation work. They are not the ones who make sure that public facilities are clean, so that they can be used — it’s a lie.

It’s workers who take countries forward. And I know that many who work in public administration wish that people like us were governing, so that they could do their jobs, and that they are sick of corrupt and useless leaders, like we have had up until now.

We must finally work together — in Europe and for Europe. It’s not necessary to read Karl Marx to know that there are no definitive solutions within the framework of the nation-state. For that reason we must help each other and make ourselves be seen as an alternative for all of Europe.

Winning elections is far from winning power. That’s why we must bring together everyone who is committed to change and decency, which is nothing more than turning the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into a manual for government.

Our aim today, unfortunately, is not the withering away of the state, or the disappearance of prisons, or that Earth become a paradise.

But we do aim, as I said, to make it so that all children go to public schools clean and well-fed; that all the elderly receive a pension and be taken care of in the best hospitals; that any young person — independently of who their parents are — be able to go to college; that nobody have their heat turned off in the winter because they can’t pay their bill; that no bank be allowed to leave a family in the street without alternative housing; that everyone be able to work in decent conditions without having to accept shameful wages or conditions; that the production of information in newspapers and on television not be a privilege of multi-millionaires; that a country not have to kneel down before foreign speculators.

In one word: that a society be able to provide the basic material conditions that make happiness and dignity possible.

These modest objectives that today seem so radical simply represent democracy. Tomorrow is ours, brothers and sisters.

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