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

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Farmers Protest Tax Reform Plans

ATHENS — About 4,000 Greek farmers and civil servants marched through the center of the city on Feb. 19 to protest planned increases in taxation on farming revenues. Brandishing banners and Greek flags, the protesters from various parts of mainland Greece and the island of Crete marched peacefully to Parliament. Farmers’ unions object to the […]

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Spyropoulos: SAE Died a Long Time Ago

CHICAGO, IL – In an exclusive interview with TNH, Theodore Spyropoulos, who served as SAE USA Regional Coordinator, proclaimed that the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) is dead. He said that “it died long time ago” and revealed that it cost Greeks huge amounts of money and “no accountability was ever given.” Even he cannot […]

The post Spyropoulos: SAE Died a Long Time Ago appeared first on The National Herald.


N.J. Pol Chatzidakis Defends Christie

Larry Chatzidakis knows cars, he knows roads, and he knows NJ politics. He spent over a decade in the New Jersey legislature, 42 years as an auto dealer, the last three as a Director at the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission, and was an early leader in banning cell phone use while driving. And when it […]

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Political minefield

Political minefieldThe Economist (blog)SCARCELY a week goes by in Greece without new allegations of corruption in the public sector. This time it was the foreign ministry's turn, after a 20-month police investigation found evidence of the widespread misuse of funds provided to about 600 ...


China's Way to Happiness

Richard Madsen is one of the modern day founders of the study of Chinese religion. A professor at the University of California San Diego, the 73-year-old’s works include "Morality and Power in a Chinese Village," "China and the American Dream," and "China’s Catholics: Tragedy and Hope in an Emerging Civil Society." He’s now working on a book about happiness in China. I recently spoke to Madsen in Chicago, where he was addressing a meeting of Catholic leaders who deal with the Church in China.Ian Johnson: Are people in China happy?Richard Madsen: According to one survey, the happiness level is diminishing. The pace of economic growth is not continuing like it was. You still have people becoming fabulously wealthy and crassly displaying it, but that feeds also into a deteriorating moral climate.This is the subject of your next book. My new research project is on searching for a good life in China in an age of anxiety. Where do they see their lives going? Where do they see China going? It’s aimed at tapping into people’s sense of meaning. I’m doing it with several other colleagues.Will this be a Chinese version of "Habits of the Heart," your 1985 book with Robert Bellah about happiness in the U.S.? That’s the hope. "Habits" was an attempt to get at the moral climate of America -- problems of American individualism amid declining expectations. America in the 1980s was going through a wrenching adjustment. First of all and crucially, American standards of living had begun to fall since the Vietnam War era. Actually I think they say that, in 1971, per capita income, adjusted for inflation, was starting to fall. And then America’s role in the world was challenged. That’s what undid Jimmy Carter’s presidency -- the Iranian revolution and things like that. There was a sense of a diminution of life prospects, and American optimism was threatened. There was uncertainty about where the country was going, and also a sense that older moral values were in decline. In China, it’s a bit different. But people’s lives are disrupted by urbanization, economic change, and so on. There’s also a collapse of Marxist ideology and a sense of dislocation. There is a need for new moral anchors.When you talk about this dislocation, is there a feeling that China has had 30 years of go-go growth and now is slowing down? Yes, absolutely. The sense that the government is thumping its chest and having this nationalistic tone, it’s a bit like whistling in the dark. We’re strong and great and all that, but at the same time the growth is starting to hit some snags. So that leads to a confusing situation.But how do you gauge happiness in a population of 1.3 billion people? There’s a whole new discipline now, stretching from psychology to economics, on happiness. You get economists who do these studies, such as happiness indexes in countries. How happy are you on a scale of one to 10, and they aggregate that. I think the happiest are the Danes and -- I’m of Danish origin -- but we Danes don’t expect that much out of life, so it’s easier to be satisfied. The problem with these things is they need to be contextualized. It’s about meaning, so it’s not just about pleasure and pain and how do you quantify it. It’s about what’s important to them in their life, how do they understand pleasant and unpleasant experiences in life? So we will rely mostly on interviews.Is the growing unhappiness feeding the religious revival in China? In the reform era, the revival of religion is probably a quest to return to a normal life, to carry out normal festivals, to do things in a normal way, which always had a religious element to it in China. In China, religion has always been more about practice than about belief. You do these things -- you sweep the graves of your ancestors because that’s what you do to remain in connection with your family. People have been dislocated from their villages, but there’s a sense that you have to maintain your roots. So they might go back and rebuild a temple or ancestral hall.Where do you see this revival now? Has it peaked already or is it continuing? I don’t think it’s peaked. I think there has been an outburst of it as people have had enough prosperity to afford it, along with the government’s relaxation. There was pent-up demand, but it’s still got a ways to grow. I somehow think that as China becomes more urbanized, and as that rural experience doesn’t have the same meaning it had in the past, it may be replaced by other spiritual quests. If you look at Taiwan, they’re gravitating toward humanistic Buddhism [a form of Buddhism that focuses on charity, public engagement, and NGO-type work]. They are leaving behind that old temple worship. If you go to the countryside you still see a lot of temples but not so much in the cities. That could happen in China too. Right now that’s harder due to restrictions on civil society, but it could happen.In your last book, "Democracy’s Dharma: Religious Renaissance and Political Development in Taiwan," you suggested religion was a building block of democracy in Taiwan. Does the Chinese government see religion as a threat in this way? When I talked about it in China once, a guy from the academy of sciences said: That’s the way it’ll be here, definitely! But it’s hard to know.You talked about Taiwan entering a sort of Axial Age -- a period of religious growth and creativity analogous to what took place roughly from 800 to 200 BCE when new ideas flourished in Greece, Israel, Persia, India and China. Yes, under Bellah’s influence I became very interested in that. I’m not sure if “axial” is the right word but there’s a lot of religious creativity in Taiwan and universalization of these values in very creative ways. So I was looking at the sources of this creativity. You find it when an old way of life is under great stress and yet it hasn’t broken down, so people have the need for creativity but also resources to do something. In China’s warring states period you had things falling apart and Confucius was looking for a new order, but they had traditions to build upon. Or in ancient Israel you had the tradition of prophets to build upon. There was great instability but key parts were alive. If the instability, or the attacks, or the invasion, destroys it, then there’s nothing left to work with. Usually in the past you’d see this creativity in the margins of empires. I suppose that would make sense in Taiwan too, on the periphery and with an old system that’s breaking down but maybe not as broken as in China. And it can spread to China. Not just China but around the world. Being successful in your own country isn’t necessarily key. It gets exported. Look at Tibetan Buddhism. It may well be destroyed in its homeland but through the Dalai Lama it’s gone global.Is that happening with Christianity in China today? The former TIME journalist David Aikman posits that China might become a Christian country. If you look at the growth and project that over the next 50 or 100 years, that would happen, but I would predict that the current trajectory will plateau out, like in Taiwan, in the range of 7 percent of the population. Maybe 10 percent. It’s a guess, a hypothesis. But other things like Buddhism are becoming more popular. People will look at other things for meaning and that will crowd out Christianity.The Catholic Church has not spread as quickly in China as evangelical Christianity. There are about 12 to 14 million Catholics, which in absolute terms isn’t insignificant, although it’s just 1 percent of the population. That pretty much tracks the population increase since 1949. In 1949 there were three million Catholics and now there are 12 million. The national population has about quadrupled so it’s about right. One of the strengths of the Catholic Church is it’s been tied to community and family, but it’s also a weakness too. It’s harder for outsiders to come into it. And the dependency on clergy also inhibits it. So for things like that it’s growing more slowly. And naturally you have the split of the official Catholic Church in China from the Vatican, which has created a schism between the official Church and the underground church [which is more loyal to Rome].Does all this mean that Christianity has failed in China? It hasn’t failed. What does success mean for a religion? Taking over the country? Or is it just becoming an accepted part of the plurality of understandings, and permanent in a sustainable way? You can definitely argue that it’s like that for Christianity in China today. We’re seeing new ways for people to find meaning in their lives. It’s definitely changing and broadening. Christianity is part of it.This article was first published on ChinaFile, an online magazine from Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations.


Three Out of Four Greeks are Without Jobs for 2.5 Years

The data on the effects of the Greek unemployment, conducted by research company Metron Analysis, show that 3 out of 4 people have been unemployed for about 2.5 years and the majority of them are high-level manpower. According to the survey, unemployment seems to mainly affect the wage workers and the self-employed while the majority prefer to seek employement in Greece. In particular, 72 percent of the unemployed stated that they would accept a job position even if that was lower than their expectations or qualifications. An even higher percentage of the unemployed (32 percent) believes that they would be better off if the Greek state exited the Eurozone. Today’s youth, when answering the question about whether they consider their lives better or worse than that of their parents, 44 percent of those polled stated that their lives seem worse, 36 percent stated that it seems better and 18 percent consider their lives to be identical to those of their parents. People between the ages of 24 to 34 appear to be the most pessimistic while people over the age of 65 seem to be the most optimistic. Regarding the psychological effects of unemployment, nine out of ten people feel insecurity and fear, six out of ten have feelings of aggression, four out of ten find that it has caused problems in their interpersonal relationships and only two out of ten stated that this situation makes them more determined to fight. About 74 percent of the unemployed claim that they are supported by their families, 18 percent that they depend on the dole, while 7 percent depend on charitable programs (soup kitchens etc.)


Flu Alert: 48 Greeks Dead from Flu Virus

The flu has been spreading rapidly in Greece and two more persons have died due to flu-related complications the last 24 hours, increasing the deaths to 48. Moreover, on Thursday, February 20, two new flu cases have been transferred to the intensive care units (ICU) of the hospitals. According to the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) that has been on the alert since the flu outbreak, 57 patients are now hospitalized in the ICU, from a total of 162 patients since the outbreak of the virus at the beginning of the year. The low vaccination coverage of persons prone to the virus and the late administration of antiviral medication are to be blamed for this critical condition in Greece. The KEELPNO specialists estimate that the flu virus is currently in high-activity. They suggest that people belonging to high-risk groups (children and infants, pregnant women, seniors, obese people, chronic patients) should get vaccinated against the flu and be administered with antiviral medication the moment they display flu-like symptoms. However, according to specialists, flu cases are expected to decrease within the next weeks because of the good weather predicted for the coming period.


Greek far-right faces new crime case

Greek investigating judges have asked for nine more MPs in the far-right Golden Dawn party to have their parliamentary immunity lifted.


Bank of Greece, The : Bank surplus a historic first

ATHENS: Greece posted its first current account surplus last year since official records began in 1948, following a sharp contraction in imports and a strong rise in tourism receipts, the Bank of Greece said yesterday. For the whole of last year, the ...


The Dark Power Of Fraternities

A yearlong investigation of Greek houses reveals their endemic, lurid, and sometimes tragic problems—and a sophisticated system for shifting the blame.


ECB Wins EU Court Ruling to Keep Greek Swap Information Secret

ECB Wins EU Court Ruling to Keep Greek Swap Information SecretBloombergThe first document is entitled “The impact on government deficit and debt from off-market swaps: the Greek case.” The second reviews Titlos Plc, a structure that allowed National Bank of Greece SA, the country's biggest lender, to borrow from the ECB ...and more »


Greek sections of ActionAid, Greenpeace, WWF say NGOs indiscriminately attacked over scandal

Three leading non-governmental organizations in Greece are protesting "unprecedented attacks" on NGOs in the country following fraud allegations involving publicly funded local groups.


Greek Sections of Global NGOs Protest 'Attacks'

Greek Sections of Global NGOs Protest 'Attacks'ABC NewsThe Greek sections of ActionAid, Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature say NGOs should not be victimized because of some entities' "lack of transparency and illicit aims." Thursday's joint statement follows police allegations of multi-million ...


Downside of bargain prices: Ultra-low inflation may be hindering growth in developed economies

by  Associated Press Downside of low inflation: A weaker global economy Associated Press - 20 February 2014 09:51-05:00

WASHINGTON (AP) — What the global economy could use right now is a dose of higher prices, though that might be unfathomable to people who still bear scars from the double-digit inflation of the 1970s.

Overall prices are barely budging because the economy is still weak. And the reverse may be true, too: Super-low inflation has likely slowed growth from the United States to Japan to Europe. It's why the world's central banks would like prices to rise.

Most people aren't likely to work up much anxiety about low inflation. After all, low inflation is surely preferable to runaway inflation. Back in 1980, U.S. inflation reached 13.5 percent.

Last year, overall U.S. prices inched up just 1.1 percent, according to the Federal Reserve's preferred gauge. Inflation has stayed below the Fed's 2 percent target for two years. On Wednesday, the government said its producer price index, which tracks prices before they reach consumers, had risen just 1.2 percent over the past 12 months.

Yet Ben Bernanke, the just-departed Fed chairman, has said policymakers worry as much when inflation is too low as when it's too high.

What's wrong with very low inflation?

Lots. When prices barely move, many people postpone purchases. Why rush, if the same price — or lower — will be available in six months? Collectively, these delays slow consumer spending, the economy's main fuel.

Ultra-low inflation also makes the inflation-adjusted cost of a loan more expensive.

And too-low inflation raises the prospect of something worse: deflation — a broad decline in prices, pay and the value of stocks, homes or other assets. Deflation can further restrain spending and even tip an economy into recession.

Just ask the Japanese.

Japan has been stuck in a deflationary trap for most of two decades. Its economy has barely grown. Fears have spiked that Europe might be next.

For now, prices in Europe are ticking up — barely. Inflation in the 18 nations that use the euro currency rose 0.7 percent in January from a year earlier. In Japan, consumer prices rose 0.4 percent for 2013. That counts for good news: It was Japan's first overall price increase in five years. Its central bank is trying to lift inflation to 2 percent.

So why is inflation so low across the developed world?

Blame a persistently subpar economy and a tough job market. When good jobs are scarce, businesses can hold down pay and prices. Companies can cheaply produce enough to meet demand.

"Prices have only gone down because nobody has any money to buy stuff," says Antonio Duarte, a retired postal worker in Lisbon, Portugal, who favors discount stores. "It's all about supply and demand."

Other trends have contributed. Most clothing and furniture in the United States comes from lower-cost manufacturers overseas. Technological innovation has improved the quality of TVs and smartphones while cutting their costs.

A more fundamental factor is at work, too: People believe inflation will stay low. And inflation expectations can be self-fulfilling. Suppose a company expects to pay 3 percent more for salary and materials next year. It will then raise its own prices 3 percent. The company's expectations would help produce 3 percent inflation.

Ask people if they're enjoying low inflation, and you may encounter puzzlement. Many of us don't feel it. One reason: Apart from the government's broad inflation gauges, many items have gotten much costlier over the past five or 10 years.

Low inflation does help when pay increases are weak. Consumers can stretch their dollars, yen and euros. In hard-hit European economies, such as Greece and Portugal, prices have actually fallen in the past year.

Ace Hardware CEO John Venhuizen says his company paid less to manufacturers for products it sells in 2013 than in 2012. That's helped offset other rising costs, such as health care.

"We are delighted," Venhuizen says. "There's far less price pressure than I would have anticipated five years ago."

Yet low prices pose a downside for some businesses. Big chains such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Bed, Bath & Beyond fought a brutal price war during the past holiday shopping season. The discounts got Americans to spend more. But 33 retail chains cut their profit estimates for the final months of 2013, according to RetailMetrics LLC.

By contrast, if retailers could raise prices, say, 3 percent or 4 percent, the extra revenue would allow them to pay employees more. And they wouldn't have to rely strictly on cost cuts to deliver profits.

Other businesses might also spend more. U.S. companies are sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash, according to the Fed. Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, notes that low inflation leads many businesses to hoard cash. Higher inflation, by contrast, would erode the cash's value. So businesses would be more inclined to spend — to hire or buy equipment.

Higher inflation would also make it easier for Americans to manage their debts. Laurence Ball, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins, notes that many car buyers have loans with rates of 2 percent or less. If inflation were 3 percent or more, pay would likely rise. The car loans would become cheaper to pay off.

In Europe, higher inflation could help resolve that region's economic crisis. Greece and other poorer members of the eurozone let wages and prices rise too high, and their goods became comparatively expensive. Now, they must reduce wages and prices, especially compared with stronger economies like Germany. If inflation were higher in the richer countries, it would help ease prices and pay in the poorer countries and encourage hiring.

In the United States, many economists have long feared that the Fed's efforts to stimulate growth would ignite inflation. Since 2008, the Fed has bought more than $3 trillion in bonds to try to keep loan rates low to encourage spending.

Yet to the surprise of many, all the money the Fed has pumped out hasn't caused prices to jump.

"It's a bit of a riddle," says Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Other economists note that most of the money the Fed has created is being held by large commercial banks as reserves. And consumers and businesses aren't clamoring for loans. Banks have tightened their lending standards. So the new money created by the Fed hasn't circulated through the economy, where it might have accelerated inflation.

Most economists foresee inflation remaining low for at least two more years. Fed policymakers have forecast that inflation will be just 1.7 percent to 2 percent in 2016.

They'd be happy to be wrong. An uptick in inflation "is a sign that growth is happening," says Alberto Cavallo, an economics professor at MIT.


AP writer Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report.


Follow Chris Rugaber on Twitter at .

News Topics: Business, Prices, Inflation, Monetary policy, Economy, Currency markets, Japanese yen, Car buying, Automobiles, Central banking, Deflation, Economic policy, Government business and finance, Government and politics, Government policy, Financial markets, Lifestyle, Banking and credit, Financial services, Industries

People, Places and Companies: Ben Bernanke, Jared Bernstein, Richard Fisher, Japan, United States, Europe, East Asia, Asia, North America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


good day sunshine Greece's economy is no longer tanking thanks to its sun and ...

BBC Newsgood day sunshine Greece's economy is no longer tanking thanks to its sun and ...QuartzDuring the peak of Greece's financial crisis, its current account deficit grew to around 18% of GDP; a heavy reliance on imports and borrowing from abroad put Greece in a precarious place when the bottom fell out of the European economy. (This is not ...More tourists help Greece achieve current account surpluseuronewsGreece posts first current account surplus since 1948BBC NewsGreece has first current account surplus in 66 yearsRTReuters UK -Washington Timesall 60 news articles »


Greek judges want Golden Dawn lawmakers' immunity lifted

Greek magistrates investigating the country's Golden Dawn party have asked parliament to lift the immunity from prosecution of nine of its lawmakers, clearing the way for criminal charges to be brought against them, court sources said on Thursday. Greece's third-most-popular party, Golden Dawn has faced a government crackdown since September, when an anti-fascist rapper was fatally stabbed by a ...


Composer Mikis Theodorakis hospitalized with pneumonia

Mikis Theodorakis, the acclaimed Greek composer and vocal anti-junta activist, has been hospitalized in Athens with pneumonia. The 88-year-old was running a high temperature caused by an acute respiratory infection on Wednesday, doctors at the private cli... ...


Study suggests Greece will need new 40-billion-euro bailout

An influential think-tank estimates Greece will need a third package of international bailout loans worth 40 billion euros ($55 billion) to reduce its debt burden to a sustainable level by 2030. Brussels-based Bruegel said in a study published Thursday th... ...


Greeks Gather to Celebrate Barbeque Thursday

The citizens of Athens, Greece, have filled the Varvakios market as the butchers of the market are offering a total of 1.5 tons of meat, while the municipality of Athens gives out wine in order to celebrate Barbeque Thursday the proper Greek way. Locals gather to the event forming long queues to enjoy their share of meat and wine. The Carnival season in Greece is also known as the Apokriés, a season which lasts about three weeks before Clean Monday. One of the season’s high points is Barbeque Thursday or Tsiknopempti as they call it in Greece, a day when people gather to enjoy roast beef dinners at taverns or friends’ houses; the ritual is repeated the following Sunday. Other Christian nations have similar customs too.  For example, in Germany they celebrate the Weiberfastnacht and in France the Mardi Gras. The Mardi Gras is for the Catholics what Clean Monday is for the Orthodox. On this special day, the municipality of Athens along with Varvakios market have organized barbecues so that the citizens of Athens can come together to celebrate this feast.  The event is expected to include many events and festivities.


PASOK, The 58, Plan Olive Tree Movement

With his once-dominant and former ruling party on the edge of extinction, PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos is aligning himself with The 58 Initiative, a group of academics and intellectuals who are trying to unify the country’s fractured center-left movement. Venizelos and The 58 leaders are due to meet to talk about creating a political group along the lines of Italy’s Olive Tree so that the Socialists can try to stave off what looks like a dismal showing in the May elections for Greek municipalities and the European Parliament. PASOK, a partner in the coalition government headed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. is registering at 3-5 percent in polls – lower in at least one. The major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) has taken the lead over Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives. Floundering and losing its base after its near-unconditional support for austerity measures the government is imposing on the orders of international lenders, PASOK hopes that tying itself to The 58 will keep it viable. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who opposes the pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions the government implemented, has predicted disaster for the ruling parties and said he will come to power if they are repudiated. That could leave PASOK gone, a precipitous fall for the party that won the 2009 elections with 44 percent of the vote. Venizelos, who earlier said he wouldn’t work with the initiative, now is due to meet its leaders on Feb 20 to discuss the new coalition’s name and symbol, criteria for joining the group and arranging a conference in early March. A second meeting is scheduled for Feb 21 with the participation of other political parties and movements that support the initiative, such as the Agreement for New Greece, formed by PASOK outcast and former minister Andreas Loverdos, whose party has failed to show up in surveys with any backing.  


Spotlight: Greek Non-Governmental Organizations Defraud State Money

Over the past few days, the spotlight is on Greek Non-Governmental Organizations that are responsible for defrauding state money and donations through unclear and opaque procedures. What comes as a bigger surprise, is that the Greek NGO “Voluntary Corp of Greek Firemen and Reforesters” responsible for wiping out 2.4 million euros, had received vehicle donations even from the German state. This all took place last November and the Parliamentary State Secretary of Germany Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, was sent by Chancellor Merkel to be present at the Greek-German meeting. This aspect of the case restores the questions that have arisen since the disclosure of the case concerning Mr. Tzevelekos’ NGO “International Demining Centre” in relation to the NGOs selection procedure for privileges and donations. The information indicates that the case has started unraveling, after complaints on NGO’s vehicles did not meet the requirements needed. At the same time, the training center was accused of not offering the necessary certification. It is worth mentioning that a file on felony fraud was formed for three members of the NGO board, who are accused of money laundering and bribery activities.


Immunity Lift Requested for the Rest of Golden Dawn MPs

The special investigating judges for the Golden Dawn case, Ioanna Klapa and Maria Dimitropoulou, have requested the Greek government to lift the parliamentary immunity of the rest of the party’s parliamentary group. More specifically, the investigators have requested the lift of immunity of nine more Golden Dawn MP – Nikolas Kouzilos, Polivios Zisimopoulos, Eleni Zaroulia, Konstantinos Barbarousis, Antonios Gregos, Artemis Mattheopoulos, Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos, Dimitrios Koukoutsis and Michael Arvanitis – who have not yet been implicated as suspects in criminal activities. However, the investigators requested their immunity lift as they believe that the rest of the Golden Dawn MPs should testify for the charges of participating in a criminal organization. Moreover, the investigators are planning on questioning six Golden Dawn MPs – Ilias Kasidiaris, Nikos Michaloliakos, Panagiotis Lagos, Giorgos Germenis, Nikolaos Michos, Panagiotis Iliopoulos and Efstathios Boukouras – for illegal possession and use of fire arms as well as for the supply of other members of the criminal organization with weapons. Serious Incident at the Parliament with Golden Dawn MPs What is more, the Greek Minister of Interior, Yiannis Michelakis and the PASOK MP, Nikos Sifounakis were verbally abused in the hallway of the Greek Parliament by Golden Dawn MPs, Nikos Michos and Polybius Zisimopoulos and Artemis Matthaiopoulos, who unleashed personal comments against the two of them. Shortly after and while people had gathered around Mr. Michelakis and Mr. Sifunakis, the MP Elias Kasidiaris accused the majority of the government’s MPs of regime abolition and treason. Golden Dawn’s reaction on the immunity lift issue included threatening insults from Artemis Matthaiopoulos which were heard in the hallway outside the entrance of the Parliament.


Greek NGO’s Rife With Problems

Greek investigators have found that 90 percent of NGOs getting government funding are "problematical," but not necessarily fraudulent.

The post Greek NGO’s Rife With Problems appeared first on The National Herald.


Study: Greece to need new $55 billion bailout

The StateStudy: Greece to need new billion bailoutThe StateAbout 4,000 people, including civil servant unions, took part in the peaceful demonstration outside of the House of Parliament. Greece's conservative-led government has committed to continue spending cuts and economic reforms in exchange for billions ...Bruegel Think Tank Says Greece Needs New €40 Billion BailoutWall Street Journal (blog)Handelsblatt reveals debt reduction plans for (press release)Greece's debt stood at 175.7% of GDP at the end of Business Newsall 4 news articles »


Greek Islands Among Top Ten European Islands

The residents of Cephalonia are still trying to recover from the significant disasters that the successive earthquakes have caused their island. However, they can find comfort in the fact that every tourist that had so far visited the island had completely fallen in love with it. This can only be taken as a sign that more tourists will be visiting the island in the future. Cephalonia is just one of the five Greek islands which are included in the top ten European islands. According to TripAdvisor, Naxos has conquered the tourists as they place it second on the list of top ten European islands. Cephalonia comes in the sixth place between Milos and Santorini. Last but not least is Paros in the tenth place. The list was formed based on the views of tourists who have already visited the islands. Greece is the country that gained the most places on the list, followed by Scotland and its islands. This is the list from TripAdvisor: Lewis and Harris, Scotland Naxos Gozo, Malta Orkney Islands, Scotland Milos Cephalonia Santorin The Isle of Mull, Scotland Capri, Italy Paros


UPDATE 1-Greece's DEPA to get backdated gas price cut from Gazprom-sources

Gazprom is the biggest supplier of Greece's state-run natural gas distributor DEPA. The two sides have been in talks for months, with DEPA seeking a cut of between 15 and 20 percent in the gas supply price and threatening to go to arbitration if ...


Mall Coming Near Plato’s Academy

ATHENS – With Greece’s few malls seemingly recession-proof as shoppers continue to flock to them, investors are taking a chance on another one, in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and planning a 300 million euro ($411.8 million) project. The venture is being put forth by the company BlackRock, which got a ministerial decision for […]

The post Mall Coming Near Plato’s Academy appeared first on The National Herald.


Firefighters Group Charged With Fraud

THESSALONIKI — Greek police say they are seeking criminal fraud and corruption charges against three senior officials in a volunteer firefighting organization. A police statement says the suspects allegedly tried to bribe local officials to use the services of the organization, which charged annual subscriptions of 2,000-12,000 euros ($2,700-$16,500). The statement said that, over the […]

The post Firefighters Group Charged With Fraud appeared first on The National Herald.


Greek judges seek criminal prosecution of another 9 lawmakers from Nazi-inspired party

Greek judges have asked Parliament to allow the prosecution of another nine lawmakers from the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn party, which is being investigated for alleged criminal activities.


Greece Seeks Criminal Charges for 9 Far-Right MPs

Greece Seeks Criminal Charges for 9 Far-Right MPsABC NewsGreece Seeks Criminal Charges for 9 Far-Right MPs. ATHENS, Greece February 20, 2014 (AP). Associated Press. Greek judges have asked Parliament to allow the prosecution of another nine lawmakers from the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn party, which is ...and more »


Greece has first current account surplus in 66 years

For the first time since official data begun in 1948 Greece posted a current account surplus of $1.65 billion last year. The money flow changed direction, as revenues from tourism jumped 15 percent and imports slumped to a long term low. It’s the ...


Buegel Think Tank Says Greece Needs New €40 Billion Bailout

Greece should get a new €40 billion bailout and the euro zone should be prepared to forego interest payments from the government if if the country’s debt remains too high, economists at a Brussels think tank argued on Thursday.


Malta and Greece share common perspectives

Malta Independent OnlineMalta and Greece share common perspectivesMalta Independent OnlineAs EU's leading maritime nations Greece and Malta share common perspectives on shipping and will build further collaboration, the Greek Minister of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told this paper in an interview. The ...


Greece, Turkey Join Anti-Terrorist Forces

The arrest in Athens of Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) leader Huseyin Fevzi Tekin and three other Turkish citizens in a February 10th raid highlighted the importance of regional counter-terrorism co-operation ...


EU defense ministers gather in Athens for informal meeting

EU defense ministers gather in Athens for informal meetingFox NewsATHENS, Greece – European Union defense ministers are gathering in Athens to discuss European military operations and cooperation in a two-day informal meeting, which will also be attended by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.and more »


Historic surplus for Greece as tourist spending hits a peak

Historic surplus for Greece as tourist spending hits a peakCITY A.M.RECORD spending by tourists in Greece has prompted a stark turnaround in the Eurozone state's current account balance, with data published yesterday revealing a first surplus since official data began in 1948. The balance – which measures the flow of ...


Farmers in northern Greece to hold noon rally in Thessaloniki

Farmers from all over northern Greece are due to converge at the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace in the center of Thessaloniki at noon on Thursday. The farmers from Serres, Imathia, Pella and Kozani will seek a meeting with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoro... ...


Tourism: 'Get married in Greece', new Athens campaign

(ANSAmed) - ATHENS, FEBRUARY 20 - The Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT) is planning honeymoon offers in order to increase the flow of Chinese tourists in Greece as GreekReporter website writes. Five trips to Greece with all expenses covered were ...


Ryanair: Greeks, Pay for Your Chance to be Hired

In a period of high unemployment, such as the one that Greece is going through with 60 percent of youth unemployment, the news that Ryanair is preparing to invest in it and open thousands of job positions seems almost too good to be true. The 2,800 job positions that Ryanair has promised to offer to the Greek people concerns the long-term future, provided that the investment in the Greek market will go as expected. What is more, the company Crewlink, will be assigned the evaluation and training of the job candidates. Candidates who will succeed in their training stage, will eventually sign a three-year contract with Crewlink and not Ryanair itself. It is Crewlink who will provide Ryanair with the airline crew needed. After succeeding at the evaluation stage, the candidate is expected to go through an interview process and if he/she succeeds, will then attend a six-week training program at the Crewlink facility in Germany. At this point, the candidate employee is expected to pay a mandatory 500 euros for enrollment in the training program and 700 euros for accommodation on Crewlink’s premises. Candidates who do not pass the training program will not be refunded the enrollment expense, even if they decide to abandon the program on the first day. Moreover, the candidate employee is expected to pay Crewlink tuition fees which range anywhere from 1,749 to 2,349 depending on the time of payment. The candidate employee will start receiving a salary after successful completion of training and official hiring.


Achilleion Palace’s Sculptures Declared Monuments

The sixty-one marble sculptures that adorn the halls, the terraces and gardens of Achilleion palace on Corfu, Greece, were declared monuments by the Central Council of Modern Monuments. The majority of frescoes, busts and statues created by noted or unknown sculptors of the 19th century are copies of work of arts that are kept at the Archaeological Museum of Naples and several museums in Rome. Most of the sculptures are at the same positions where Empress Elisabeth (Sissy) of Austria who was the first owner of Achilleion has placed them. To most famous of all the sculptures is “Dying Achilles” created by Ernst Gustav Herter in 1884. The sculpture was the Empress’ personal order to Herter and was initially placed at the Imperial Summer Palace in Vienna. The construction of the palace started in 1889 and was completed in 1891. Paintings, photographs, engravings, furniture, clocks and china are also included in Achilleion’s movable works of art, however, the sculptures are considered the most important artworks of the palace. (source: ana-mpa)


Ukrainian Tourists Arrive in Thessaloniki on Ellinair Maiden Flight

A new Greek airline, Ellinair, completed its maiden flight from Thessaloniki to Kiev and back at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, bringing 96 Ukrainian tourists to the main northern city. They were welcomed at the airport by owners Mouzenidis Group, while Thessaloniki Metropolitan Anthimos held a blessing ceremony by the aircraft, a four-engine RJ85 that had left Greece at 9:15 a.m. for Kiev. The Group plans to run two such airplanes from Thessaloniki and expects to add an A319 airbus, to be based on Corfu island in western Greece. The travel group, which runs 70 offices in Russia, the Ukraine and other Eastern European cities, brought half a million tourists to Greece from Russia and Eastern Europe and, based on current reservations, expects to surpass that number this year, Ellinair CEO Ioannis Mouzenidis said. About half of them usually head for northern Greece and Halkidiki peninsula (including Mt. Athos). Through the use of the two airplanes and agreements with other carriers, Ellinair plans to include schedules to and from the following cities, he said: Briansk, Voronezh, Stavropol, Kaliningrad, Riga, Meneralnye Vody, Odessa, Donetsk, Lviv, Moscow, Volgograd, Arkhangelsk, Astrakhan, Omsk, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Saint Petersburg, Perm, Samara, Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Astana, Kharkiv and Bari. (source: ana-mpa)


4.2 Magnitude Aftershock Felt in Cephalonia

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center reported that a 4.2 magnitude earthquake occurred at about 1:08am on Thursday at a depth of 2 kilometers and about 18 kilometers northwest of Argostoli, on the Greek island of Cephalonia. The Geodynamic Institute of Athens, Greece, on the other hand reported that a 3.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in the maritime area northwest of Lixouri, at a depth of about 5 kilometers.


"Greece has no plans to recognize Kosovo"

PRIŠTINA -- Greece "still has no plans to recognize Kosovo," and the Greek deputy prime minister confirmed this, Albanian language media in Priština are reporting.


Handelsblatt reveals debt reduction plans for Greece

Handelsblatt reveals debt reduction plans for (press release)While German and other EU officials deny the potential for a new aid package for Greece ahead of the EU elections, local press reports today reiterate that Greece is hoping that the certification of the 2013 primary surplus by the Eurostat in April ...


The Urgency of a Cosmopolitan Ideal as Nationalism Surges

ISTANBUL - Along the southern coast of Black Sea in a city called Sinop, the statue of an old man welcomes visitors from far and wide. Holding up a lantern he squints ahead, as though searching for something he has lost. He is none other than Diogenes the Cynic, the philosopher described by Plato as "Socrates gone mad." Behind him loom the remnants of an ancient castle, a section of which was turned into a prison. Numerous political prisoners have been incarcerated here, including some of Turkey's well-known poets and novelists. I have always found the contrast striking. On the one hand there is Diogenes, a free spirit who clearly enjoyed going against the grain. On the other hand, there is the penal institution whose primary purpose is to entrench the authority of the nation-state. Diogenes has his back turned to the castle walls, as if he wishes to see them no more." Diogenes, born in 412 BC, regarded himself as an inhabitant of the world -- a position he pitted against citizenship of the city-state. Ever since then 'cosmopolitanism' has been a part of our lexicon." Diogenes, born in 412 BC, regarded himself as an inhabitant of the world -- a position he pitted against citizenship of the city-state. Ever since then "cosmopolitanism" has been a part of our lexicon, although what exactly the term means has never been as open to debate as it is today. Given the myriad interpretations as to what cosmopolitanism is, it might be worth starting with what it isn't. This will inevitably lead us to nation-state and its identity politics. Every nation-state has nationalism as its underlying ideology. One might object that not every nation-state is nationalistic in the same way. How could we compare democratic, liberal, gender-egalitarian (relatively) Sweden with totalitarian, patriarchal North Korea? While that is true to a large extent, it is also true that there can be no nation-state, East or West, without a degree of flag-waving jingoism. This requires the systematic legitimization of a dichotomy between a supposed-us and a supposed-them, and the assumption that "us" is better than "them." All countries produce this hackneyed pattern time and again. However, if a regime is based on a well-functioning democracy and a robust civil society, other discourses can counterbalance the one-sidedness of nationalism. If the state in concern is far from being democratic and pluralistic, then chauvinism emerges as the dominant discourse. "One of the most cherished slogans of Turkish ultra-nationalism is 'love it or leave it!' You can come across this motto everywhere from football stadiums to street graffiti to social media." One of the most cherished slogans of Turkish ultra-nationalism is "love it or leave it!" You can come across this motto everywhere from football stadiums to street graffiti to social media. The tone is aggressive, high-handed and unyielding. An anonymous voice orders people to make a choice once-and-for-all: "If you love your motherland, you should not criticize it. If you insist on criticizing, it means you are not patriotic enough, in which case just pack up and go away." PURE VS. CONTAMINATED NEIGHBORHOODS In a popular novel that has been made into a TV drama, the two neighborhoods of Istanbul are diametrically set apart: the cosmopolitan Pera and Harbiye, and the traditional Fatih. The latter stands for purity. It is the abode of Muslim culture, homogeneity, honesty and virtue. In contrast, the former represents hybridity since it is here where cultures and languages and cuisines mingle. Thus Pera is portrayed as the source of debauchery, immorality, vice and sexually transmitted diseases. The message is clear. Select sameness over diversity. Select purity over hybridity. Those who make the wrong choice are deprived of their dignity. But the loss is bigger for women. They lose their modesty. In a similar vein, Le Front National in France describes one of its main aims as to defend everything that is French against the mixture of cultures and people. Like the Turkish far right, so does the French far right see cosmopolitanism as an erosion of national identity and therefore, a menace. Anti-cosmopolitanism thrives upon fear. Through its distorted lens, facts can be twisted, perceptions warped. A sexual or ethnic or religious minority that doesn't compose even a speck of the population can be depicted as a major threat. " Anti-cosmopolitanism thrives upon fear. Through its distorted lens, facts can be twisted, perceptions warped. A sexual or ethnic or religious minority that doesn't compose even a speck of the population can be depicted as a major threat." The oldest Greek newspaper in Turkey, Apoyevmatini, sells only 600 copies, given that the Greek minority has shrunk dramatically. Still, when the statue of Diogenes was erected, it sparked off debates. Some were upset that "a Greek philosopher" was being honored in Turkish land. The local head of the nationalist MHP party objected that "a man who was half naked and reported to masturbate on the streets" should be given recognition. That the statue was carrying a lantern to allude to how Diogenes had been looking for an honest man, was an insult to the decent people of Sinop. He further added that the incident reminded him of one of the forces that wanted to establish a Greek state in Black Sea region. Nationalism is adept at being powerful and playing the victim at the same time. Hungarian far-right Jobbik members often talk about "taking back their country" from Jews and Roma. Rejecting Western liberal values and the European Union, Jobbik leaders claim that Hungary has had a double identity, being both Western and Eastern, and it is time to choose. The party increased its votes over the last years, shocking international observers. In a world of shifting alliances and profuse ambiguities, simplicity and straightforwardness are the greatest appeal of totalitarian narratives. They offer clarity to the perplexed. Time and again, people suspected of being "cosmopolites" have been accused of being both rootless (not loving one's country) and heartless (not respecting one's ancestors). The same propaganda was used in the anti-cosmopolitanism campaigns in Stalin's Soviet Union. Most, but not all, of these campaigns targeted the Jewish population who were regarded as having complex belongings and thus not being patriotic enough. While nationalism thinks, speaks and commands in "either-or" terms, cosmopolitanism believes it is possible to be "both... and ..." While nationalism uses exclamation marks, cosmopolitanism ends each sentence with a comma. From a cosmopolitan perspective, every human being has multiple affiliations. A child born in the Netherlands to Moroccan parents does not need to choose either "Islam" or "Europe," despite what the likes of Geert Wilders claim. One can be simultaneously Muslim and European and so much more. An elderly Armenian in the diaspora can feel attached to multiple places; to America or Australia where he migrated, to Armenia where he perhaps plans to be buried and still to Anatolia, from where his entire family was forcefully deported. Rather than reducing human beings to a single label, cosmopolitanism insists on the reality of blended selfhoods. But it remains to define who is a cosmopolite. Is it someone who lives in multicultural megacities such as New York, London or Berlin? Is it someone who has more than one ethnic or racial heritage? Does having a Jamaican father and a French mother automatically make one a cosmopolitan? The answer to all is "no". Being a cosmopolite requires less hybridity than it means the appreciation of hybridity. It requires consciousness instead of blood and genes. Living in Brooklyn or Kreuzberg does not render one a cosmopolitan. If there is no mental/moral bridge between "I" and "humanity," there is no real cosmopolitanism. For this to exist, there has to be an understanding, and as Paul Rabinow said "an understanding suspicious of its own imperial tendencies." Pankaj Mishra's profound and powerful piece shows how we all are at a crossroads. None of the conventional ideologies of yesterday has the power to energize and address today's forms of political mobilization. There might be no normality in the non-Western world, as Mishra rightly says, but it is not only because of the legacy of imperialism but also because of lack of meritocracy, intolerance for diversity and top-down authoritarianism, all of which are present in Turkey, which has not been colonized in its history and is still not normal. COSMOPOLITANISM IS NOT MULTICULTURALISM Cosmopolitanism is not multiculturalism. Nor is it a romantic version of humanism or monolithic universalism. It is equally important to recognize that cosmopolitanism is not a foreign idea imported to the non-Western world in order to advance liberal capitalism and its values. The idea of being interconnected with fellow human beings is inherent in multiple Eastern cultures and traditions, including Islamic mysticism. The Sufi poet Rumi used to talk about living like a drawing compass. One leg of the compass would be based in the religion into which he was born while the other leg would spin together with all 72 nations. It was possible to be from "here" and "everywhere." It was possible to blend the local and the universal. Cosmopolitanism lost strength and credibility when it tried to balance itself on one leg. A new cosmopolitanism can stand up on both feet. " Instead of reducing ourselves to the binary opposition of identity politics, we need to do the exact opposite: multiply our attachments and affiliations." Instead of reducing ourselves to the binary opposition of identity politics, we need to do the exact opposite: multiply our attachments and affiliations. I am an Istanbulite and there is a part of me that is from the Aegean and the Middle East and Asia and the Balkans and East Europe and Europe and from nowhere and a global soul. The more definitions linked to the individual, the bigger the chance of my selfhood to overlap with someone else's selfhood. Overlapping selfhoods bring people closer and reduce tension, hatred and chauvinism. It is harder to hate another person when we believe we have much in common. But why insist on the value of cosmopolitanism when the concept and the theory can be abandoned altogether? The answer is because it is one of the best antidotes that humanity has come up with to the ongoing craze of xenophobia and bigotry. We don't have anything better to replace it with. Not yet. As Martha Nussbaum said the emergence of world citizens challenges "the spirit of identity politics which holds that one's primary affiliation is with one's local group." Fifteen years ago there was much optimism that in an increasingly globalized world, nationalism and religiosity would wither away vis-a-vis interdependence. That did not happen. While it is true that information technologies, easier transportation and capital mobility connect us like never before, ultranationalism and fundamentalism are on the rise. A single economic crisis is enough to turn even the most logical and moderate among us into xenophobes. The financial problems and political failures within EU nurtured a series of far-right movements across the continent. In Russia, India, Japan, Indonesia, across the Middle East and South America and Africa "the fear of the Other" is rampant. As Etienne Balibar once said, borders might be vacillating but that doesn't mean they are disappearing. If, as Balibar explains, borders are no longer the shores of politics, the need for a global civil society is an urgent one. Cosmopolitanism is not a bygone aspiration that can easily be discarded. It is an urgency. In a world characterized by economic and political interconnectivity but intellectual isolationism, cosmopolitanism whispers into our ears that there is another path. While extremists on all sides tell us that we are essentially and irretrievably different and have little, if anything, in common, the idea of universal citizenship sheds light on our common humanity. It might sound like an idealistic dream, but those of us coming from parts of the world that witnessed the demise of cosmopolitan ethics know well that the price of losing the dream is a major one.


British Embassy announces 2-million-pound migrant repatriation program in Greece

The British Embassy in Athens on Wednesday announced a program for helping local authorities repatriate some 1,500 irregular migrants over the course of the next year. The UK government has pledged 2 million pounds (2.43 million euros) for the scheme, whi... ...


Cause for optimism

The news that Greece last year achieved a current account surplus for the first time since 1948 shows that not only is it making remarkable progress, but also that it is in a position to regain the trust of its international creditors and the internationa... ...


British Government Funds Greece’s Project for Voluntary Return of Migrants

The Greek Minister of Public order and Citizen Protection, Nikos Dendias, jointly with the British Ambassador, John Kittmer, announced the launch of a 2 million pound assistance program for the voluntary return and reintegration of undocumented migrants to their countries of origin. The program will be implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in cooperation with the Greek Ministry of Public order and funded by the British government. The project aims to assist 1,500 illegal migrants to return voluntarily to their countries of origin, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, Morocco, Egypt, India, Nigeria and Sudan. The British Ambassador, John Kittmer, stated that funding for this program emphasizes the UK’s longstanding position that EU migratory pressures should be addressed through practical cooperation to build capacity in the Member States’ national asylum and migration systems. In his opening speech, Mr. Kittmer said: “The British Government is pleased to be supporting the IOM by funding this project. Our assessment is that the UK remains a primary final destination country for many of the irregular migrants in Greece and British funding for this program is ultimately about reducing illegal migration to the UK. This is why we are co-operating with the Greek Government as it faces the continuing challenge of illegal migration.” On behalf of Greece, the Minister Nikos Dendias said: “By funding another project in Greece, to provide return assistance to 1,500 third country nationals and reintegration assistance to 75 returning migrants; this time for 24 months and 2 million pounds, the UK Home Office and the Foreign & Common Wealth Office have demonstrated once again the UK Government’s ongoing commitment to support the Government of Greece’s efforts to manage migration more effectively and at the same time to provide migrants with safe and dignified alternatives to return home.


Turkey to receive Greek Cypriot officials in Cyprus peace talks

Turkey's Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Feridun Sinirlioglu will receive the Greek Cypriot negotiator, Andreas Mavroyannis on Thursday. According to a statement issued by Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, the Turkish ...


New greek council aims to last

New greek council aims to lastMinnesota DailyThe fourth and newest greek council at the University of Minnesota is building its foundation on campus. The National Pan-Hellenic Council — the member chapters of which broke off from the University's Multicultural Greek Council last semester — is ...PHC Junior Greek Council gives younger sorority members a leadership roleOregon Daily Emeraldall 2 news articles »