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LIBERO (Italy), DIE WELT (Germany), HEUTE, KLEINE ZEITUNG (Austria)

The tiny Greek island of Icaria is considering a referendum to break away from debt-saddled Greece, and become part of Austria, according to several European press reports. Icaria, which has a population of 8,000, could decide to become independent after its 100-year treaty with Athens expires later this year, Italian daily Libero reported.

The island, which is closer to mainland Turkey, became independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, though the freedom lasted a mere five months, before becoming part of Greece in November of that year. It derived its name from Icarus, the son of the master craftsman Daedalus in Greek mythology, who famously fell into the sea nearby after flying too close to the sun.

Fast forward to today, where they are faced with tough economic difficulties brought on by Greece's debt crisis, Icaria's citizens are disillusioned with Athens' austerity measures.

Berlin-based daily Die Welt reported that a spokesperson for Icaria's mayor Stafrinadis Christodoulos, said: "Athens has forgotten us, therefore we're thinking about an accession to Austria."

Austria's daily Heute was warmed by the prospect of their very own beach in the heart of the Aegean Sea, with an online poll showing 83% in favor of annexation.

But the sun-deprived Austrians shouldn't trade in their snowboards for water skis too soon. Austria's Kleine Zeitung reported that the Greek embassy in Vienna issued a statement stating: "Article 12 of the Lausanne treaty of 1923 confirms that the islands of the eastern Aegean, including Ikaria, belong to Greece."

Is this about modern Greek finances gone awry, or is Icaria telling another eternal tale of hubris?

An ancient monastery in Icaria (Wikipedia)

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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