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Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Letters: Threats to democracy in Greece

The crisis in Greece is posing serious threats to democracy and human rights (Report, 15 March). We are particularly concerned about the rise of fascism and racism. The government continues to tolerate the violence and hate speech of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn MPs attack democracy and display symbols of the military junta of 1967-1974; the party recruits supporters unopposed by the authorities, including schoolchildren. Members of the Greek police engage in violence against immigrants and protesters but have not been brought to account, despite calls from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and UNHCR.

Refugees and migrants face attacks from supporters of far-right groups; the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights recently called such violence "a real threat to democracy". European and constitutional law is persistently violated. Legislation is introduced through presidential and ministerial decrees, abandoning parliamentary accountability. Independent journalists are censored. We are deeply concerned that fundamental rights and freedoms for which the Greek people have fought for decades are being undermined.
George Bizos, Jon Cruddas MP, Prof Costas Douzinas, Maria Margaronis, Prof Peter Mackridge, Prof Donald Sassoon, Gillian Slovo and 837 others. Full list at www.thepetitionsite.com/375/381/293/initiative-for-democracy-in-greece/

• It was the Cypriot government – not the EU or the IMF – which insisted that small depositors be levied to save the banking system. Cyprus has been acting as the clearing house for Russian oligarchs for years. It was this group that the EU and IMF sought to target against fierce resistance from the Cypriot president. The real villains is the Cypriot government, which is hell-bent on protecting Russian tax cheats at the expense of their own citizens.
Andrew Byrne
Doctoral researcher in EU Politics, University of Edinburgh


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The close: Dow recovers, though Cyprus rejects bailout


Globe and Mail

The close: Dow recovers, though Cyprus rejects bailout
Globe and Mail
After a seesawing session on Tuesday, stocks ended the day relatively flat, after investors weighed uncertainty about the Cyprus bailout with another upbeat report on the U.S. housing market. The S&P 500 closed at 1548.34, down 3.76 points or 0.2 per cent ...
German Bunds Rise as Cyprus Tax Debate Starts; Greek Bonds SlumpBloomberg
European shares fall for 2nd day on Cyprus concernsReuters
US Stock Futures Dip; Eyes on Housing Data, CyprusWall Street Journal
BBC News -San Francisco Chronicle -Chicago Tribune
all 487 news articles »

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Boiled Greek coffee may be the secret to a longer life


Yahoo! News (blog)

Boiled Greek coffee may be the secret to a longer life
Fox News
Researchers from the University of Athens Medical School in Greece analyzed the link between Greek coffee and its potential benefits on cardiovascular health and found those who drank boiled Greek coffee had significantly better heart function, Counsel ...
The Greek Island Where People Live to Be 90 – Is it the Coffee?Yahoo! News (blog)
Greek coffee may be key to long life and good healthDeccan Chronicle
Greek coffee may be key to long lifeUPI.com
RedOrbit -IBTimes.co.uk
all 13 news articles »

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Shares end lower on Cyprus concerns, euro falls


Brisbane Times

Shares end lower on Cyprus concerns, euro falls
Reuters
By Ryan Vlastelica. NEW YORK | Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:24pm EDT. NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stock markets fell on Tuesday, extending the previous day's decline as investors continued to fret about Cyprus and the possible effect on the euro zone should ...
Wall Street Is Uneven After CyprusNew York Times
Stocks slip on worries over Cyprus rescueUSA TODAY
German Bunds Rise as Cyprus Tax Debate Starts; Greek Bonds SlumpBloomberg
Wall Street Journal (blog) -MarketWatch -CNNMoney
all 365 news articles »

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Greece Fourth in EU Road Deaths


Greece Fourth in EU Road Deaths
Greek Reporter
car_crash300 According to a European Commission report published on March 19, Greece remains fourth regarding deaths caused by road accidents. Lithuania, Romania and Poland are respectively the countries in the first three places. However, on a ...


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Give Cyprus more time, Greece tells EU


Xinhua

Give Cyprus more time, Greece tells EU
Huffington Post
ATHENS, Greece — Banking stocks in Greece were hammered Tuesday before Cypriot lawmakers rejected a bailout plan, while government officials here urged eurozone countries to give the Mediterranean island more time to come up with a viable solution.
Greece close to picking buyer for Cypriot bank unitsReuters
Paying for the gross mistakes of GreeceCyprus Mail
Cypriot banks' branches closed to Thursday in Greece, suspension of trading ...Xinhua
Anchorage Daily News -NASDAQ -Ahram Online
all 2,441 news articles »

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French minister resigns in face of tax-fraud probe





PARIS (AP) — France's budget minister, ensnared in a ballooning scandal over suspected tax fraud and money laundering, on Tuesday became the first resignation in President Francois Hollande's 10-month-old Socialist government.

Jerome Cahuzac, who had garnered Hollande's trust as point man to help boost tax revenues as France battles a lackluster economy and swelling budget deficit, asked to be removed from his post — and the president accepted, according to a statement from Hollande's office.

Earlier Tuesday, Paris prosecutors opened a judicial probe into a case of alleged laundering of money gained through tax fraud centering on Cahuzac — though investigators haven't turned up enough evidence to charge him by name.

The budget minister post is one of the most onerous government jobs in France at the moment, as the Socialist leadership battles to cut spending and raise new tax revenues to avoid the type of fiscal and debt pressures that caused major problems for fellow European Union members such as Spain, Greece and Italy — and rattled currency markets over the fate of the euro.


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The World's Riskiest Nations

By some standards, Cyprus is risky. So is Greece and Portugal. But outside of Europe, the U.S. and Japan there are places that make Cyprus look like Disney World.

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Auction held for Greek Peak, four potential buyers reportedly interested


Auction held for Greek Peak, four potential buyers reportedly interested
CNYcentral.com
The resort, which filed for bankruptcy last August, was scheduled to be sold at auction on Tuesday. The auction was closed to the media but Greek Peak President Al Kryger previously said there are several potential buyers who are interested in keeping ...


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Cypriot lawmakers reject deposits seizure bill





NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cypriot lawmakers on Tuesday rejected a critical draft bill that would have seized part of people's bank deposits in order to qualify for a vital international bailout, with not a single vote in favor.

Nicosia will now have to come up with an alternative plan to raise the money: the government could try to offer a compromise bill that would be more palatable to lawmakers.

Proponents of the deposit seizure argued it would have made foreigners who have taken advantage of Cyprus's low-tax regime share the cost of the bailout of the banks, which have been hit hard by their over-exposure to bad Greek debt.

Opponents say a blanket charge on people's bank accounts will hurt ordinary Cypriots more, and could shake the confidence of all in the country's banking sector.

Charalambous said Cypriot authorities believe depositors should be protected, but that a wholesale exemption for those below €100,000 would mean a "disproportionate" burden on large savers, and a "very detrimental" knock-on effect on economic growth.

"Because of the size of the estimated (bailout) needs, the burden on those above €100,000 would be such that it would again impact small people because it would destroy the ability of the country to attract foreign investment," Charalambous said.


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Cyprus lawmakers reject bank tax; bailout in disarray

An elderly man sits in front of a closed branch of Bank of Cyprus as a youth makes a transaction at an ATM in NicosiaBy Michele Kambas and Karolina Tagaris NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus's parliament overwhelmingly rejected a proposed levy on bank deposits as a condition for a European bailout on Tuesday, throwing euro zone efforts to rescue the latest casualty of the currency area's debt crisis into disarray. The vote by the small state's legislature was a stunning setback for the 17-nation euro zone, after lawmakers in Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy had repeatedly accepted unpopular austerity measures over the last three years to secure European aid. ...



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Cyprus's dramatic choice | Costas Lapavitsas

The troika plan presented to Cyprus would ruin the economy, and start a run on banks that may spread elsewhere

Cyprus is a small island economy with a hugely oversized banking system, and is thus similar to both Iceland and Ireland. Banks in Iceland speculated on derivatives; Irish banks gambled in real estate; Cypriot banks made large loans to the Greek government and Greek businesses. In all three, banks failed systemically and threatened the whole of the economy.

Still, Cyprus banks are small beer and did not pose a risk to international finance by themselves. The danger has arisen because of the troika of the EU, the ECB and the IMF. For a start, Cypriot banks have failed mostly because of troika policies. The troika obliged the Greek state to apply a haircut to its bonds in 2012. Troika policies also forced the Greek economy into depression in 2010-12, making it impossible for businesses and households to repay their debts.

When banks fail in a systemic way, the policy options are few. Ireland followed a certain path, determined by the troika and membership of the EMU. It supported its banks by using public funds, and protected large bondholders, who were other European banks. Irish public debt rose and the country faced austerity, privatisation and liberalisation. The result was a long-drawn out recession, falling incomes, and persistent unemployment. In effect, the costs of failed banks were brazenly shifted onto society as a whole.

Iceland followed a radically different path, as it is free of the troika and not a member of the EMU. It refused to increase its national debt and it thus let banks go bankrupt, shifting the costs on to shareholders, bondholders and depositors abroad. Iceland looked after small depositors, but also allowed its currency to devalue and applied capital controls. The country avoided a deep and protracted recession, and last year the economy grew at 2.5%.

The deal currently offered to Cyprus by the troika is along the path of Ireland – except much worse. Cypriot banks need €17bn; the troika is proposing that the Cypriot state should increase its borrowing by €10bn and that the rest should be obtained mostly by imposing a levy on deposits. This is a terrible plan.

The extra borrowing will raise Cypriot public debt well over 100% of GDP. The economy is already in recession and, with the extra austerity measures, including the inevitable blow to bank credit, contraction might be around 5% this year. It is likely that the increased national debt will need restructuring in the near future, meaning fresh loans and even more austerity.

The worst aspect of the plan, however, is the levy on deposits. In part, it is morally offensive as small depositors are merely savers who also use the money services of the banks. Why should they be charged for failed bank loans? But much worse is the plan's recklessness. Banks engage in a confidence trick: depositors must believe that their money is safe because, if they did not, they would rush to withdraw it and banks would go bankrupt. To harm the confidence of depositors is to invite a bank run, which might be panicky, as in the case of Northern Rock, or silent, if large depositors simply left.

As things stand, it is almost certain that there will be a bank run in Cyprus when the banks reopen, and hence the government has declared a bank holiday. The repercussions in Greece, where Cypriot banks also have large deposits, and in other countries of the eurozone can only be guessed. What is beyond dispute is that a precedent has been created in the EMU and depositors in peripheral countries with weak banks will take note. Bank runs can run for several days and panic can spread.

The troika proposed these measures because it did not wish to rescue large Russian depositors, some with shady backgrounds. This is certainly laudable, but the cure is worse than the disease. The plan will ruin the Cypriot economy, while delivering an extraordinary shock to confidence in European banks.

Cyprus now has a very tough decision to take. It is clear that it can expect no real solidarity from the EU, while being subjected to unfair rules that do not apply to anyone else. If it submitted to the plan, it would be entering a long and dark tunnel. But it could also reject it, seeking a different path. Above all, it must not be bullied by the fear of exiting the EMU. The country has other options, including shifting its international alliances. If it chose to reject the plan, the experience of Iceland would stand it in good stead. The arrogant and blinkered establishment of the EMU might at last take notice.

• Costas Lapavitsas wrote this article before the latest events in Cyprus, where MPs have rejected the bailout terms


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Pope Francis rallies the faithful with message of hope

Tens of thousands turn St Peter's Square into sea of flags and banners for new pontiff's inauguration mass

When the announcement of "Habemus Papam" came down from the loggia last Wednesday Mario Ruzzante, an Italian pensioner, had a nasty shock. "The cardinal said 'Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum … Ber-' and we thought he would say 'Berlusconi'!" laughed Ruzzante. He was joking, but it was a way of admitting that, at that point, he hadn't known much about the man who until that night had been the Argentinian cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.

On Tuesday, however, as Ruzzante and his friends took their place among the tens of thousands of pilgrims descending on Vatican City for his inauguration mass, all doubts had been cast aside. "We are here for our great pope who has opened our hearts. Who's like us – simple," said Ana Maria Corra, who had come more than 300 miles on a bus with Ruzzante and a group of Catholics from north-east Italy.

"He's a great pope already," she added. "Immediately."

In a sun-bathed St Peter's square, in front of a sea of flags, banners and the occasional bugle, the first Latin American and Jesuit pope celebrated his first mass as the Bishop of Rome. Delighting the crowds with a tour of the piazza in his white open-air jeep, he waved, kissed babies and got out at one point to bless a disabled man.

He later shook hands with a variety of visiting world leaders, including Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who – not for the first time – evaded an EU travel ban by listing his destination as the Vatican. In attendance were US vice-president Joe Biden, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Cristina Fern├índez de Kirchner –the Argentinian president who on Monday urged Pope Francis to intervene in a "dialogue" with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

The British delegation was low-key. The pope was met by the Duke of Gloucester, who is 21st in line to the throne. The archbishop of York led the Anglican church delegation. For the first time since the split between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches almost 1,000 years ago, the ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew, was also present. In a nod to eastern traditions, the gospel was read in Greek.

Sitting on a raised throne Francis received the symbols of the papacy: his fisherman's ring – in gold-plated silver rather than solid gold – and the lamb's wool pallium, which was draped over his shoulders. In a homily delivered entirely in Italian, the 76-year-old pontiff once again invoked Francis of Assisi, urging pilgrims and rulers alike to protect "each of God's creatures" and to respect the environment.

As for himself, he said, his primary duty was to serve. "[The pope] must open his arms to protect all of God's people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the smallest, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison," he said, growing particularly animated. Taking care of one's fellow man, he said, could "open up a horizon of hope".

The message – applauded in places by the amassed dignitaries and pilgrims – was heard loud and clear in the crowd.

"It was very powerful," said Julio Resende, 32, from Brazil. "He invited us to take care of humanity, of each other, especially the poor, the old, those in need."

For many who had come from far and wide to see him, the new pontiff has already won hearts through small gestures that have – they believe – spoken volumes about his intention for a different style of pontificate. "I love him. He connects with people really easily," said Charlie-May Hallam-Flaherty, 19, one of a group of students from St Mary's University College in Twickenham. "I'm just in awe of him."

Alice Murgia, 25, who had come with two friends all the way from Sardinia, agreed. "For us, we are young, and he is the first pope who feels close to us," she said, praising the way Francis had taken the minibus with the cardinals the night of his election and had wished them a "good evening" from the balcony of St Peter's that night. Now, said her friend Francesca Erdas, 23, their hope was "above all" that he could "bring a bit of clarity to what has been going on in the Vatican."

Others' hopes were more pragmatic – and political. Ramirez Marcos, originally from the Chaco province in north-eastern Argentina, stood in St Peter's square with a banner in Spanish that translated as: "The wound is open." Determined to see the Falkland Islands transferred to Argentinian control, he said he had had friends and family who fought in the war with Britain in 1982. Now, he said, he hoped Francis would acquiesce to Kirchner's words request for an intervention with Britain. Another Argentinian in the crowd, Susana Montaldo, said she hoped that the pope would, if not tackle the issue of Las Malvinas directly, at least give a broader message about "the existence of colonies".

She had spent around $2,000 on the airfare to come to Rome for the inauguration, she said. But it was worth every penny. "He's a hope for the Catholic church and for the whole world," she said, alluding to his work with the poor. "I come from the most unequal continent of the world, so for us it's important to work for … more justice for all. I think he has the charisma to have a good influence, to encourage people."


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Cypriot Official: Vote On Bank Deposit Seizure To Go Ahead

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- The Cypriot speaker of the house says a parliamentary vote on a plan to seize part of bank deposits will go ahead...

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To Many Yogurt Fans, It's All Greek


New York Times

To Many Yogurt Fans, It's All Greek
New York Times
You know Greek yogurt is having its moment when an artisan in Brooklyn is making it from an old family recipe, downtown mixologists are using it in a cocktail and chefs are pairing it with fried brussels sprouts and green cauliflower. Enlarge This ...
Powerful Yogurt Bounds into Marketplace with Official Expo West LaunchDigitalJournal.com (press release)

all 2 news articles »

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What's Behind the Sudden Solar Surge in Greece?

Taken by itself, Greece’s recent surge in solar installations might be seen as a long-awaited sign of relief after a seemingly endless economic slowdown. But like anything emerging from Athens these days, the sharp increase seen in January has to be viewed in a rather dismal context, including coming cuts in state support, the collapse of panel prices and most importantly, the long path to recovery and normalcy for the Greek economy.

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Stournaras assures Greek depositors Cypriot tax is a one-off


Kathimerini

Stournaras assures Greek depositors Cypriot tax is a one-off
Kathimerini
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras attempted to assure Greek depositors on Monday night that their savings will not face a tax similar to the one Cyprus is set to adopt. Speaking after a Eurogroup teleconference during which Nicosia was given ...


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Is The Greek Theatre Open Again?


Is The Greek Theatre Open Again?
Forbes
Casting the rule book aside the cash strapped Greek government is at it again. Specifically, they need a bailout of 5.8 billion Euros. To facilitate this, they are targeting local deposits, calling it a one-time bank fee. What's particularly ...


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German Bunds Rise for Fourth Day on Cyprus as Greek Bonds Slide


Economic Times

German Bunds Rise for Fourth Day on Cyprus as Greek Bonds Slide
Bloomberg
Benchmark yields dropped to an 11-week low as Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou told Greek Skai TV the Cypriot government is working on different scenarios to raise the 5.8 billion euros ($7.5 billion) set as a condition for a bailout, including a backup ...
Cyprus: Could There Now be a Run on Spanish, Italian & Greek Banks?Dale & Co.

all 30 news articles »

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Greece close to picking buyer for Cypriot bank units


DAWN.com

Greece close to picking buyer for Cypriot bank units
Reuters
ATHENS, March 19 (Reuters) - Greece is close to completing a deal for a Greek takeover of the local units of Cypriot banks, after at least two of the country's biggest lenders showed interest, government officials and bankers said on Tuesday. Greece ...
Greek banks hurt by Cyprus news, no sign of runsMiamiHerald.com
Greece 'ready' to absorb Cyprus bank subsidiariesDAWN.com
Cypriot banks' branches closed to Thursday in Greece, suspension of trading ...Xinhua
Ahram Online -Wall Street Journal
all 2,524 news articles »

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It's Greek to Me Tacoma serves breakfast pitas


Weekly Volcano (blog)

It's Greek to Me Tacoma serves breakfast pitas
Weekly Volcano (blog)
IT'S GREEK TO ME TACOMA: Still Greek to me, even after it moved across the street. Photo credit: Adrienne Kuehl. Recommend Blog Post Total Recommendations (0). Leave A Comment Read Comments. Clip Article Email Blog Post · Print Blog Post Share ...


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New restaurant embodies Greek native's love of food


New restaurant embodies Greek native's love of food
Your Ottawa Region
Just ask Greek-born Tim Karras of Renfrew, who came to Canada as a six-year-old and for whom food remains a treasured connection to his homeland. In fact, since his first job as a teenager, he has continued to work in nothing but the restaurant ...


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Fiscal Crisis Cuts Greek Arms Imports


Greek Reporter

Fiscal Crisis Cuts Greek Arms Imports
Greek Reporter
The Greek defense industry has also been suffering and two of its major companies are being eyed for a takeover by Qatar. Military officials said the country's security has been put at risk by the spending cuts of some 29 percent since 2010. Greek ...


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