Friday, April 12, 2024

El Capitan Oh My Capitan


I have a very good camera with an expensive lens.  I have no idea how to work it, except on intelligent setting. On our recent trip to some of the National Parks in the USA I took my tiny point and shoot. I have not used it for ages and forgot it had some special effect buttons. None of these pictures are AI, they are the result of me messing around.

I think, given the subject matter, any picture will have a degree of awe about it



El Capitan, Oh  El Capitan. It's not exactly what Whitworth, sorry Whitman, wrote but it's what went through my mind when I first saw the southeast face of the rock.

It’s rather magnificent.

7573 feet high, one sheer side facing southwest and the other to the south east.


On the opposite side of the valley is the prominence, The Half Dome, which reminded me a lot of Ben Nevis. It's like the big head of a bull elephant poking its nose in to see what’s going on.



We were in Yosemite, which Scots like to call Yosey-might, in Mariposa County, California, U.S.  There was a lot of snow.

I didn't find Sammity Sam.


People like to climb it. I believe so many people do that you need to ask permission. Some routes up the face are closed due to damage of climbers using the same ledges and holes to gain traction.

The first successful climb was on November 12, 1958. So climbing this, and the moon landing are not so far apart in history.

People now do all kinds of climbing from aided climbs, free climbs, free solo climbing. Climbing with one hand tied behind your back? With one eye closed?

You can hike it from the 'back' which is far more sensible.


The Native American name for the rockface is  “Tutokanula” or "Rock Chief"  and the loose Spanish translation of that is the name we call it today

Another version is that it’s a mistranslation of Inchworm due to the legend of the two bear cubs stuck at the top of the sheer rockface. Mother bear can’t get them down no matter how she tries. Other animals including mountain lions, deer all try to help up but it’s the inchworm that manages to climb the rock and rescue the little ones.

Different climbing routes have interesting names - Iron Hawk, Sea of Dreams, Golden Gate, Silence, Free Rider, Dawn Wall. The tempest, the Salathe wall, and The Nose.

 Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) is the measurement of how difficult  a route is. Many of them have been climbed once and never again, deemed just too dangerous.

There have been over thirty fatalities between 1905 and 2018 while climbing El Capitan, much less than I would have thought. Five of these have been since 2013 and that seems to be due to an increase in timed ascents, trying to gain sponsorship or for social media  fame.




 The first climbers spent 47 days pioneering the route. A typical modern party on The Nose will take 3-4 days to finish the climb. The first ascent under 24 hours was in 1975. Now that record is under 2 hours..

As the rock face is sheer, a climber might carry a portaledge. These are frame beds made from aluminium and they hang from an anchor. Given that on a climb like this, which could last more than a day, everything has to be carried up, including water. 

A gallon of water per person per day is recommended…. And that is heavy.



On the plus side, at  ground level there was lovely visitors centre that  had lovely vegan sandwich and chips.


These are just pictures from the wee camera.









I saw this and thought of a murder plot straight away.

Caro
 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Anyone want some elephants?

 Michael - Alternate Thursdays

Elephants on the Chobe River

The President of Botswana and his conservation minister are offering large numbers of elephants around. Especially to countries making noises about elephant conservation so that they can find out what it’s like to live with elephants as neighbors. The first offer was from Botswana’s wildlife minister, Dumezweni Mthimkhulu. In London last month to lobby members of Parliament, he offered Britain 10,000 elephants, saying “I hope if my offer of elephants is accepted by the British government, they will be kept in London’s Hyde Park because everyone goes there. I want Britons to have a taste of living alongside elephants, which are overwhelming my country. In some areas, there are more of these beasts than people.” (If “some areas” is the Chobe National Park this is hardly surprising or undesirable!)


Hyde Park.
Just add elephants and mix well...

Then, a few days ago the president of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, trumped this by offering Germany 20,000 elephants, although he was less prescriptive about where they should live.  How about the Black Forest? Probably the elephants would make themselves at home there, with plenty of tasty trees to eat and abundant water. They might find it a bit chilly in winter, but they seem to find Namibia okay, and the nights can get pretty cold there. What the local Germans would think about it is more of a question. And that’s the point.
Black forest. Good for elephants?

Although Minister Mthimkhulu eventually backed down and said that his offer was “rhetorical” (so no elephants for Hyde Park after all, I’m afraid), the president was more forceful, pointing out that Botswana had successfully transferred 8,000 elephants to Angola and some 500 to Mozambique, and stating that he wouldn’t “take no for an answer”.

Standard way to transport one elephant.
They are unconscious at this point.
How do you handle 8,000?

So what is causing the Botswana government to offer large parcels of pachyderms to countries all over the world? It worked with Angola and Mozambique, but I guess they actually wanted the elephants.

The fact is that Botswana does have a surfeit of elephants. The previous president, Ian Khama, had a policy that wildlife would earn its keep through high-end tourism. He banned trophy hunting, cracked down hard on poaching, and welcomed international tourists in droves. Nature took its course, and now Botswana has around 130,000 elephants, about a third of the world’s total population. To hear President Masisi tell it, it sounds as though you might bump into an elephant anywhere in Botswana, or more frighteningly, it might bump into you. In fact, much of Botswana is arid Kalahari scrub and that’s not where the elephants like to hang out. They are concentrated up in the north in the magnificent Chobe National Park, particularly along the Chobe and Zambezi rivers. 

Elephant in Kasane at night.

However, elephants are nomads, and in Kasane, a town on the Chobe River, you may well see elephants wondering around the town perhaps helping themselves to a tasty hedge. More seriously, they will help themselves to crops the surrounding people depend on for their livelihoods, and there have been some bad experiences with injuries and even deaths of local people. In the national parks themselves, the trees are groaning (or dying) under the browsing pressure of the huge animals.

Masisi has reversed Khama’s ban on trophy hunting and that’s what all the fuss is about. The UK has introduced legislation to ban the import of trophies from endangered species, and elephants qualify as endangered pretty much everywhere outside southern Africa. Germany is talking about doing the same thing. Botswana says that that will just make the elephant problem worse at the same time as depriving the country of important revenue supporting local people, conservation and wildlife management.

Traffic Jam.

Let’s unpack that a bit. First, there are only a few hundred hunting licenses issued in a year, so in reality that won’t make much of an impact on the population. However, trophy hunters want the best tuskers and that can have an impact on the long term tusk quality of the population. While it’s true that a trophy hunt of a couple of weeks will cost of the order of $50,000 (and very few tourists will spend anything like that sort of money), it’s arguable how much of that money makes its way down to the people living with elephants.

Elephants in Savuti. Not much left to eat...

On the other hand, alternate population control options include culling (i.e. hunting without trophies that costs money) and contraceptives that can also be expensive and hard to administer. (No, we are not talking about condoms here.) Botswana argues that banning the import of trophies, as the UK and Germany want to do, is interfering with Botswana’s internal affairs and wildlife management. They ask how hunting elephants for trophies is different from hunters heading off to shoot deer for their antlers, which is often described as supporting deer population control, and takes place every season in the UK and Germany among other countries.

Hmm.

 

My Third Act

 Sujata Massey


My sixth birthday


“I don’t want to talk about age.”

 

A smart, accomplished, and elegant woman friend said this to me recently. I still do not know her age and am not going to ask her again. I suspect that this lovely person believes she’d be treated differently if people knew; perhaps even rejected. 

 

My mother also doesn’t do much chatting about her age. She’s a vibrant woman, beautiful inside and out, who raised three daughters, traveled the world enthusiastically and is now retired from business life. Speaking candidly, she says that she sometimes has a feeling of irrelevancy because she's passed 80. In public, strangers seem to overlook her and don't take what she says seriously. 

 

Ageism is a word that is believed to have been coined in 1969 by the psychiatrist Robert N Butler, when speaking to a Washington Post reporter about some people’s reaction to the housing for the elderly poor being built in their neighborhood. And while this original example is quite macro in nature, there are so many micro-aggressions and other insults. I'm learning that people being treated as “old” rather than the people they feel like inside is painful.

 

My first experience was ageism was brought about by myself, to myself. I was 43 years old and standing in the checkout line at Giant Foods with my toddler daughter and a babysitter. The friendly asked if the 23-year-old babysitter was my daughter. I was horrified as being mistaken as someone who could have such an old child—that it meant I was likely fifty or some similarly grotesque age. And now, the irony is that I have a child who’s almost 23. 

 

And I am actually SIXTY years old. 




With dear friend Prem (over age 80 and long walks daily)


 

When I was much younger, I imagined certain stages so clearly. These included transforming into a college freshman; turning into a news reporter; becoming a bride; and being able to write ‘mother’ on a pediatrician’s form. I never let my imagination roam as far as becoming a grandma; and now, when I look at my young adult son, I ponder whether he will have a role in that someday.  

 

Then I sternly reprimand myself. Asking my son to make me into something else isn’t a strong way to live--it harkens to the other identity milestones. It was a college admissions officer who granted me entry as a student; an editor who hired me as a reporter; a boyfriend who asked if I’d marry him; and a judge who signed the papers allowing me to be an adoptive mother. 

 

My recent step up to becoming 60, though, is a solo accomplishment. And I’m surprised to report how good it feels to be here. I’ve heard the fifties is a very happy decade for many women in terms of professional life and personal freedom. Fitting the stereotype, this was the era that I started a new mystery series that was my most successful. I became very busy with books and the adjacent promotional responsibilities. But my longed-for decade of professional recognition was also the time in which my immune system battled two diseases and my family suffered many emotional hardships, including the loss of our daughter. I am glad to gently close the door on my fifties and embrace the Big 6-0.

 

And how strong I feel! I watch myself jumping on my small rebounder trampoline several times a week, light strength training, swimming and doing water-aerobics, and fast walking over hilly terrain with older women friends who are faster than me. I feel confident I'll get even stronger this year. Someday in the far future I might shuffle and have trouble walking. But not for a long time—and its quite possible that my experience of waning strength, body and mind, won’t be catastrophic. 




The crowd couldn't stop talking!


 

Dear friends Joff and Johnie, and my Tony

 

I asked Tony what he thought about me planning a significant 60th birthday party. He hadn’t wanted one for himself, but he liked the idea of my doing it, especially at a cozy Basque restaurant, La Cuchara, a few miles from our house. The invitations went out: not to every friend I have, but to the ones I’ve spent significant time talking about highs and lows with during recent years, as well as longtime friends from college and past jobs, and those in my family who were able to come. 



With my sisters, Rekha and Claire



 

In the four months before my party, I read a book called The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker. It's not a regular party planning book; it's about bringing meaningful connection to people through a host's work. I was intrigued enough to also take Priya's video course that aids in personalizing your own gatherings with plenty of cases to study and worksheets to dig deep into one's true motivations for bringing people together. I took it all to heart. The invitations I sent hinted that each guest should not bring gifts, but expect to share deep conversation. 

 

I greeted everyone at the door and handed them a paper with a random icebreaker question to ask someone they didn’t know. At the designated dinner tables, people were grouped and asked to answer a question or two of their choice. The first question asked them to talk about about a twist in their life and what personal strength they used to pull through. The second option was to share a piece of advice they wish they’d had at a younger age. As I went around the tables to make sure people were OK, a friend joked that I was being ‘very prescriptive,’ but by party’s end she was raving about the joyous communication the table conversation had brought her. And this was my secret intention all along: I wanted people to find strength and happiness in themselves. 



 

Cringing as Mom reads my 8th grade essay!



I sat with my husband, my mom and stepdad, and three other friends. The party buzzed with conversation at the six tables where friends and family sat. During dessert, many friends spoke aloud to the whole group on their thoughts about aging as well as our shared relationships.  I stood next to them and felt truly humbled by the sincere and loving tributes. 

 

In the days since the party, I’ve mulled over that feeling of being overcome during the tributes. I recognized not being able to accept praise is the very demon that makes people feel miserable about aging. If we positively credit to others, why can't we give ourselves credit, too? I always thought it was corny when people spoke of ‘loving themselves,’ but now I understand it’s not only a desirable trait, but one necessary for mental survival. 


 

My friend Betsy said that aging means living deeply. In my mind, this idea means accepting sadness and loss: feeling it, rather than pushing it away. I do that better at sixty than at twenty.  I’m also trying to remember to look at all the people around me with fresh eyes, noting their vulnerability and gifts. This generally results in good feelings and can transform an encounter.

 

I am a woman entering the third act of life. In books and movies, that final third is where the pace really picks up and a climax approaches. Of course, there will be a dénouement; but reading the ending before its time is never a good idea. 



Striding happily forward, Karin and Bharat


Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Rubber Trees: A Tale of 2 Henrys

 Ovidia--every other Tuesday

On the domestic front, renovations are pretty much done (and our bathroom looks Fantastic) except for a couple of things they promise will be done by the end of this week--or by the end of next week... 

On the work front I've wrapped up and set one project aside--well salted and spiced--to ferment (studying how kimchi is made wasn't a waste of time!) and will spend the next two weeks figuring out the next book... which will probably be set in a rubber plantation, hence today's post!

Growing up in Singapore in the 60's, there were rubber trees and rubber seeds pretty much everywhere.


I remember finding seeds like this in the field outside our primary school building. 

The fun thing about these rubber seeds was that if you rubbed them hard and fast on cement floors, they heated up enough to 'burn' when pressed against other people's arms or legs. (And no, I can't remember why we did that!)

Anyway, rubber trees were found pretty much everywhere and rubber was big business in the region, though there were no plantations in Singapore. And even though Hevea brasiliensis isn't indigenous to our region.

How that came about thanks to the 2 Henrys of today's post; Henry Wickham and Henry Ridley.

The first Henry, Henry Wickham, was a 'bio pirate'. 


In 1876, at a time when South America was the world's largest producer of rubber, Wickham smuggled 70,000 rubber seeds out of Brazil as "academic specimens". This was a term generally used to classify (dead) animal or plant specimens, not viable seeds. 

A museum in Peru (Museo Barco Historicos in Iquitos) describes Wickham's act as "the greatest act of biopiracy in the 19th century, and maybe in history" claiming the plantations Britain set up in her colonies as a result of his theft destroyed South America's rubber business.

Wickham and his rubber seeds arrived in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and 2,700 of the 70,000 seeds were successfully germinated.

Britain then sent rubber seedlings from London to British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Batavia in the Dutch East Indies (now Jakarta in Indonesia), British Malaya (now Peninsular Malaysia)... and in June 1877, twenty two rubber seedlings arrived at the Botanic Gardens of Singapore (now still Singapore) where they came under the care of the second Henry: Sir Henry Nicholas (H.N.) Ridley.


Henry Nicholas Ridley, a botanist by training and Scientific Director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens from 1888 to 1912. Shown above with the herring-bone method of tapping rubber that he invented. 

Unlike traditional incisions that tended to kill trees, his method allowed for just a section of the bark to be removed to tap latex without destroying the tree.


Nicknames like 'Mad Ridley' and 'Rubber Ridley' show Ridley's passion for promoting rubber and its huge economic potential. 

Ridley also researched the most suitable land and soil for planting, the ideal density per acre (instructing trees be planted 13 feet apart), the best method of raising seedlings, the most effective processing techniques, and the best means of packing and shipping processed rubber.



At the time, there was a huge demand for rubber in the West because of the exploding automobile industry and Dunlop's new pneumatic (rubber) tyres. But farmers were reluctant, because rubber trees took six years to come to maturity, compared to much quicker returns on tapioca, sugar and (especially) coffee. 

What really made rubber take off in our region was when the coffee plantations, a staple crop till then, were wiped out by disease--making rubber the best alternative.

In the forests of Amazonia, the traditional tapping method had migrant workers searching out wild trees and leaving them to die after tapping. Under Ridley's guidance, British run Asian rubber plantations were far more efficient and were soon supplying more than 90 percent of the world's rubber needs.

Rubber trees (like so many of us) are a non-native species flourishing here as a result of British colonisation.




Business and 'burning' seeds aside, they are beautiful trees and part of what we know of as home . 

Monday, April 8, 2024

In Memory of Kathi

 Annamaria in Sadness


The beautiful bride above became my sister the day this picture was taken. She was a delightful sister to me—strong, level headed, fun loving, brave, never trivial, always game. She gave us two beautiful children. Kathi was always a font of energy and wisdom. Far too young, she left us yesterday (Saturday) after a long illness.  Never to be forgotten, to be loved forever. 

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Guest Post: How I came to write "Falling Night" by Phil Clarke

Set in a fictional country, Phil Clarke’s first novel Falling Night is rich in the feeling of Africa in turmoil and how westerners need to face the situation if they want to have an impact. No one who wants to try to understand the conflicts of Africa should miss this book. Nevertheless, it’s also an optimistic story, showing that danger can change people for the better, and that one person can indeed make a difference.

Phil Clarke studied at the universities of Birmingham and York, where he gained Masters degrees in Engineering and Ecology. He spent most of the 1990s in Africa, both as a humanitarian aid worker and as a tropical forest researcher, about which he has written extensively. He then worked for nearly a decade as an executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), before founding the war crimes investigation agency, Bloodhound. Falling Night is based on his actual experiences, or those of his acquaintances, in the various wars that took place in Africa during the 1990s, but using fictional characters.

Protagonist Alan Swales is no hero and no saint. Bored by a successful, yet dull life in Britain, he decides to become an aid worker in Africa for the adventure. Plunged into a civil war waged by vicious warlords and their child soldiers, Alan has to make unexpected choices about the direction of his life. As the situation deteriorates, he hears rumours of a hidden genocide, which leads him on a dangerous quest for evidence in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles.

In today’s guest blog, Phil tells us of his own experiences in Africa, and what motivated him to write the story in the form of a novel.


Nyiragongo Volcano broods over Goma

The day I personally encountered genocide remains etched into my memory. It began with a descent into the Great African Rift, leaving Gisenyi in Rwanda to enter the empty, war-ravaged streets of Goma in Congo/Zaire where only soldiers moved among shuttered houses. From there, I traversed a rocky plain of jagged black lava that was littered with abandoned dwellings, from which hundreds of thousands of refugees had recently vanished without trace. Beyond, an active volcano loomed ominously above as we negotiated checkpoints controlled by heavily-armed rebels; at one, they detained a small group of refugees who had emerged from the surrounding forest, and whose terrified eyes testified to recent horrors that were too dangerous to voice. Their misery was exemplified by their tattered, brown rags, which provided scant protection from the lashing rain of a violent tropical storm that darkened the sky with dense clouds and drenched the air with gloom. As thunder and lightning erupted all around, I sensed God’s deep anger over what was happening.

Yet we — my team of fellow humanitarians — could not fathom what was actually going on. Confused by myriad impressions and rapidly changing events, we were unable to make sense of the chaos. Where were the million missing refugees? Why had they fled from safety? Who was supporting the rebels? What was their agenda? Would they allow us to bring help? Overriding the questions, there emerged a single certainty: extreme evil was afoot.

That was confirmed the following day, when gunmen opened fire at the relief centre I had just helped to construct; I was some kilometres away, unable to see the events reported in real time by my walkie-talkie that crackled fearful communications between colleagues. That evening, just after I returned to our base, an unexpected visitor showed up: a young French missionary priest on a red motorbike who had made a hazardous visit to the forest. There are hundreds of corpses, he said, three hours’ walk in; go another three hours, and the surviving refugees are huddled among the trees, waiting for help.

The assistance never came, for the refugees were driven ever further away. Over the following six months, half a million would succumb to disease, starvation, exhaustion, bullets, and the blows of sharp weapons as they were relentlessly hunted down over thousands of kilometres in the remote rainforest. Thousands of locals who belonged to the wrong tribe were also killed where I was working; some in their homes at night, while others were abducted and then executed in the prison or a nearby quarry. Murder was everywhere, yet my colleagues and I were prevented from witnessing it because the military authorities carefully shielded and hid all tangible evidence of their atrocities. But we continued to be troubled by rumours that were impossible to verify.


Abandoned refugee camp at Biaro

Until the day when colleagues arrived at a makeshift camp deep in the Congo forest. Tens of thousands of refugees had emerged from the jungle and had settled along a remote railway track to await international aid. They were in pitiable condition: human ruins wrecked by half a year on the run through inhospitable bush. For a few weeks, my organisation valiantly struggled to provide emergency medical relief, but many of the refugees were too weakened to reverse their decline, and they died under our care. Then the rebels blocked all access for three days. When my colleagues returned, they were shocked to find the camps completely empty, except for bullet cartridges scattered over the ground, and huge bulldozed mounds of freshly turned earth that stank of rotting flesh. The soldiers claimed the refugees had left by their own accord, but we knew that was impossible for the hundreds of hospitalised patients who had been too weak to move. The organisation therefore decided to publicly condemn the disappearances, well aware of the considerable danger it would impose on its staff. To mitigate that risk, my team was reduced, so that same evening, I was told I would be evacuated at first light. Five dark months in Congo/Zaire thus finished the following morning, with child soldiers rifling through my suitcase, searching for evidence that I might have tried to smuggle out that could incriminate the perpetrators of their atrocities. The youths were thorough, but were unable to examine my thoughts or confiscate my memories.

A psychologist sent by the organisation had predicted I would suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It normally takes a month after you get back, the Dutchman had said, but for Brits it takes two because of your stiff upper lip. Exactly two months after my return, the ordeal hit me like a huge truck, causing regular bouts of intense pain plus sleepless nights.


Sea view of Tabou showing the market

In those days it was not normal practice to seek professional counselling, so I reckoned the best way to heal would be to spend time in a pleasant, peaceful place; my mind envisaged a tropical beach lined with coconut palms but I did not have the means to make it happen. I did not tell the organisation, but providentially they then proposed a non-warzone posting on the shores of Côte d’Ivoire. Thus followed nine happy months in the vibrant environment of a West African cosmopolitan melting pot, working with Anglophone Liberian refugees in the small border town of Tabou with its Francophone residents and immigrants from Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, plus a collection of characters from different corners of the world who would have fitted in a Graham Greene novel. Two departing US Peace Corps volunteers invited me to take over an English language evening class for Liberian refugees; not wishing to impose Anglo-American grammar on their quaint version of English, I instead asked the students to write stories. The manuscripts they handed to me for marking provided a fascinating insight into their personal lives; about what it was like to flee their homes, how they earned a living as refugees, and the dreams they had for the future. Storytelling remains one of the most powerful tools of communication.

I started then to write my own story, both as a cathartic process to heal the mental scars of war, but also because I had a unique tale to tell of living through genocide, which was so carefully concealed that many colleagues refused to acknowledge its existence. I reordered my experiences to fashion a new narrative that would allow readers to embark on their own journey into the exciting and sometimes harrowing world of providing humanitarian aid in an African war zone. Fiction allowed me to weave in my anecdotes from other conflicts, plus those of friends, and I added observations about Africa’s lesser-known wildlife from an earlier time when I had worked as a tropical forest biologist. Falling Night took 25 years to reach publication; writing the book has been a long journey but in the process it has softened haunting memories and brought an amazing inner peace. Night will fall, because light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.



MurderIsEverywhere welcomes guest posts from mystery and thriller writers for the Sunday slot. If you would be interested in writing a post for us, contact Michael Sears at michaelstanley@michaelstanleybooks.com.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

A TRULY SHOCKING STORY

 


Saturday––Jeff

 

Hello to all from the rock & roll capital of northwest New Jersey. Yep, our farm got a taste of what Californians and Athenians take in stride as somewhat regular occurrences--earthquakes and aftershocks.  Blessedly, ours were relatively small and no one was injured (4.7 in the morning and 4.0 in the evening). 

 

I will not be posting about any of that, but I will be indirectly following up on Caro’s blog yesterday about Scotland’s new hate speech law “supposed to shore up offences that are aggravated by prejudice” but notably leaves out the misogynistic abuse of women from its protections.

 

If you recall, I’ve posted before about the May 2021 murder in Athens of a young wife and mother, Caroline Crouch (age 20), by her pilot/flight instructor husband, Babis Anagnostopoulos (age 32). The husband had concocted an elaborate story centered upon home invaders, not he, as responsible for his wife’s murder.  The murder rocked Greece to its core, and its solution earned deservedly great praise for the police plus a flood of demands for ending Greece’s proliferating domestic violence against women.

 

Now, there’s been a new femicide in Athens committed by her former domestic partner.  It, too, has captivated the nation and galvanized a call for meaningful protections for woman from domestic violence. 

 

This time, though, there is no praise for the police.  Only condemnation.

 

Kyriaki Griva

 

On Monday, a 28-year-old woman, Kyriaki Griva, presented herself at a police station in north central Athens pleading for protection from her 39-year-old ex-partner.  She claimed he’d once been the subject of a protective order, had a long history of stalking her, abusing her (including rape), and now was waiting outside her home. She asked for a patrol car to take her home, but because she refused to file a complaint, the duty officer told her that she had to call the police emergency line (100) to send a vehicle.

 

When she called that line and explained why she wanted a police escort, the emergency dispatch officer said to her, “The police car is not a taxi.”

 


She had spent eight minutes in the police station pleading for help denied her (in violation of procedures). When she stepped out of the station, her ex-partner was waiting for her.  He attacked her with a knife—caught on video––and she died as police stood around trying to decide what had happened.

 


Her killer did not flee and now is in a prison psychiatric ward awaiting trial, claiming he has “no memory of the crime.”

 


Six police officers, including the chief of the station, have been suspended, the emergency dispatch officer is under investigation for potential criminal charges, and the head of the Ministry of Citizen Protection, promises “the truth will be completely revealed.”

 

Kyriaki Griva was buried on Thursday.

 


May her memory be a blessing for eternity, and a CALL TO ACTION for domestic violence to be addressed in concrete legislative ways and meaningful diligence on the part of police when asked to intervene.

 

––Jeff

 

Jeff’s Upcoming Events

 

CrimeFest, Bristol UK

 

Panel THURSDAY, MAY 9, 2024 @ 17.00

“Overstepping the Mark: Abuses of Privilege and Power” with

Ajay Chowdhury, Alex North, Kate Ellis, Jeffrey Siger, Sam Holland (Moderator) 

 

Panel FRIDAY, 10 MAY 10 @ 17:10

“What a Thrill: Page-Turners and Cliff Hangers” with
Chris Curran, Antony Dunford, Charles Harris, Christine Poulson, Jeffrey Siger (Moderator)