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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Greece teen already a leader, mentor

Greece teen already a leader, mentorRochester Democrat and ChronicleThat's why Milazzo nominated Trenton for the Greece Rotary Club's annual "Recognizing Outstanding Youth" program. And that's one reason why Trenton was one of nine youngsters honored in February as "Outstanding Youths." The town of Greece and the ...


Shocking Opulence Revealed As Ukraine Leader Flees Home

A vast country estate, marble-lined mansions, a private golf course and zoo: the unimaginable luxury of the private residence of departed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych flung open for all to see.

As parliament voted to oust Yanukovych Saturday and he fled to a pro-Russian bastion in east Ukraine after months of bloody protest again his rule, thousands of Ukrainians wondered awestruck around the breathtaking luxury of his abandoned property some 15 kilometres (10 miles) from Kiev after it was taken by demonstrators.

"I am in shock," said retired military servicewoman Natalia Rudented, as she looked out over the manicured lawns studded with statues of rabbits and deers.

"In a country with so much poverty how can one person have so much -- he has to be mentally sick.

"The world needs to see this and bring him to justice."

Cars backed up for kilometres and a large crowd queued patiently at the imposing wrought iron front gates to get a glimpse of the former leader's lavish lifestyle -- fit for even the most ostentatious billionaire oligarch.

"Don't worry, everyone will get to go inside -- it is big enough for all of you," an opposition activist standing atop a column shouted through a loudhailer. He warned people to stay off the lawn in case of landmines and to beware of provocateurs trying to damage the place.

"Welcome to Ukraine," he said as people shuffled by.

Guarded just hours before by elite security forces, the property -- the scale of which had been kept a closely guarded secret and appears to confirm suspicions of titanic corruption -- was now under the control of anti-Yanukovych activists, patrolling the area and keeping people out of buldings to avoid looting.

According to official declarations, Yanukovych's salary as president was around $100,000 a year. The luxury of the estate clearly showed wealth far beyond that.

At the entrance a sign was hung reading: "People, do not destroy this evidence of thieving arrogance."

Inside, visitors peered with disbelief through the windows of the palatial main house at the baroque, marble-covered living rooms decorated with gold icons and suits of armour.

A few boxes strewn around on the marble floors hinted at a hurried exit.

Amused or enraged, others posed for photos in font of towering faux-Greek columns and snapped pictures on their mobile phones of the collection of rare pheasants -- imported from as far as Mongolia and Sumatra.

For kilometres, they strolled along the waterfront promenade, up to the helicopter pad or over bridges and past horse paddocks to a vast garage housing a museum of soviet military vehicles.

The complex for staff -- who were nowhere to be seen -- was itself the size of a British stately home.

- 'Where's the golden toilet?' -

"Mum, where's the golden toilet?" five-year old Ross asked as his mother led him around the edge of a floating banquet hall built to look like an Elizabethan galleon.

"I also want a pirate ship like this for myself," he said.

"Don't worry, we've already seized this one," his mother Ivanova replied.

Some of the visitors were still fresh from the violent clashes that left scores dead this week and saw central Kiev turned into a war zone.

"It makes it feel even more worth it," said Bogdan Panchyshin, a hardware store owner from the Western city of Lvov.

"If only the hundred people who died could see it, I think they'd say the same," he said, still wearing a camouflage bullet proof vest.

As they emerged, people struggled to take in the breathtaking scale of Yanukovych's wealth.

"That house, that garden, that luxury," mechanic Viktor Kovalchuk, 59, as his wife shook her head in amazement.

"It should be turned into a hospital or an orphanage or something for the people killed or injured in the protests," Kovalchuk said.

"Whatever happens it needs to be given to the people. It was built with our money after all so it should serve us in the end."

Copyright (2014) AFP. All rights reserved.

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Greek austerity: 'Don't try this at home'

Greek austerity: 'Don't try this at home'Milwaukee Journal SentinelThey seem to think Greeks have been overtaxed. In fact, the opposite is true. Unlike the U.S., where only some of the rich evade taxes (as Warren Buffet has mentioned), Greece is more democratic in that nearly everyone evades them. Tax evasion ...


Olympiakos beats OFI 4-0 with Scepovic hat trick

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Marko Scepovic scored a hat trick to lead Olympiakos to a 4-0 victory at OFI in the Greek league Saturday.


Greek Restaurant Chain Branch Out to Kosovo

The Greek Group Vivartia proceeded in another strategic agreement in order to branch out its business in Kosovo’s market. In this way the group abides by its commitment for extroversion and continuous promotion of the Greek entrepreneurship in ...


Joachim Gauck: The Germans Wronged the Greeks

The President of Germany Joachim Gauck in a revealing interview with Deutsche Welle, admitted that in the past his country has treated Greece very cruelly. According to him, at the time being, resources available to Greece will create strong ...


Greek yogurt often named for process, not country

Greek yogurt often named for process, not countryAppleton Post CrescentFage, the maker of Greek yogurt, sued rival Greek yogurt manufacturer Chobani in Britain. Fage, based in Greece, claimed that Chobani, based in America, was misleading British consumers by labeling its product as “Greek yogurt,” when it was, in fact ...


EU Summit to Take Place in Athens

The leaders of the European right political parties are expected to make a gesture of multiple meanings and clear symbolism. The Summit of the European Union is under discussion to take place in Greece within the first ten days of May, just a few days before the European elections. The center right political parties of Belgium and Germany are planning for the Summit of EU to be conducted in Greece – a move which will signify clear political support towards the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for the forthcoming European elections. Their goal is to highlight the significant effort made by Athens in the economic field. During the EU Summit, the Greek prime minister is expected to be in constant contact with European leaders while the German chancellor Angela Merkel is also expected to visit Athens. In addition, a special meeting of the European People’s Party with the participation of leaders of European center-right parties will be conducted one day earlier, as a further move aiming to strengthen the pro-European profile of the Greek Prime Minister. At the same time, New Democracy will attempt to highlight the anti-European profile of SYRIZA’s president Alexis Tsipras.


Cephalonia’s Earthquakes Push Lixouri 20 cm Away

The second earthquake and the hundreds of aftershocks that took place on Cephalonia, Greece, resulted in Lixouri drawn about 20 cm away from the Paliki peninsula. According to the newspaper TA NEA, Greek scientists who processed the satellite data found that soil deformation in the area of the earthquake is at least three times bigger than the deformation of Attica’s soil caused by the earthquake of 1999 which was estimated at around 6 cm. The size of the deformation was captured by the German satellite – radar TerraSAR which runs every eleven days over every area of the Earth at a distance of 700 km. When the first earthquake took place on the island, scientists of the Geography Department of Harokopio University in collaboration with colleagues from the Greek Earthquake Planning and Protection Organization (EPPO) sent a letter to the authorities in order to give an urgent signal to the satellite to take a panoramic picture of the island on its way from the South to the North Pole. The analysis of the data showed that the surface of the ground in the center of the peninsula moved upwards and with a southern direction of 12 cm while Lixouri moved in the opposite direction for 6-7 cm. In Argostoli, the soil deformation was similar to that of Lixouri but much smaller. It moved just 2.5 cm. The satellite is expected to take new pictures of Cephalonia until mid March.


Good News for Real Estate Investment Companies in Greece

Good news for the real estate investment companies in Greece. As it seems, things have started to improve as the drop in prices of commercial properties in their possession is finally over. The first thing to indicate this new era in real estate investments was the return to profit of blue chip Eurobank Properties. Last week, the company, which only for the year 2012 had lost 28.1 million euros, announced that its after-tax profits reached 2.7 million euros for 2013, thus, putting an end to the three consecutive years of losses. According to industry insiders, even though the real estate market will suffer in the first six months of the year, it is expected to stabilize during 2014. A recent survey conducted by the Athens University of Economics and Business concerning the Greek real estate market of professional buildings, showed that 66.3 percent of experts predict that prices will continue going south for the next six months while 53.6 percent suggested that the demand will be less.


Rehn: Greece has accomplished a lot the last two years

The past few years Greece has achieved a lot in financial and structural reforms, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn acknowledges, but expresses reservations about the country’s exit to the markets before the European ...


Coalition leaders consider plan to reduce number of MPs by 50

The reduction of the number of lawmakers in Greek Parliament from 300 to 250 was one of the subjects discussed on Saturday by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Premier Evangelos Venizelos when the pair met at the Maximos Mansion, Kathimerini under... ...


New Zealand author David Cade chronicles 16 days spent in Athens

Summertime tourists to Greece pass hurriedly through Athens before shipping out to the islands. They’ve been warned that the city offers no seafront, no leashes for its dogs and no shortage of civil servants on strike. A Westerner finding Athens warm and ... ...


Trust in the Greek economy is gradually being restored

KathimeriniTrust in the Greek economy is gradually being restoredKathimeriniThis methodology is systematically being used for the first time for a regional emerging market such as the Greek one. Despite the possible disadvantage related to the Greek derivatives market's low trading volume, this index provides very useful ...


Greek Hour energizes morning crowd

Greek letters of all different colors were bounced up and down as Greek Hour kicked off this morning in the Bryce Jordan Center. The beginning of Greek Hour started with a video clip, representing each Greek organization in THON.


Suspect in four murders from a decade ago arrested

A 57-year-old man has been arrested in Kavala, northeastern Greece, on suspicion of murdering four people more than a decade ago. The man, who was arrested on Friday, is alleged to have killed three people on the island of Thasos in 2000 and a businessman... ...


NGO says 2,300 Greeks lose access to care every day

More than 2,000 Greeks a day are losing access to free or subsidized healthcare experts from the non-governmental organization Doctors of the World (also known as Medecins du Monde or MdM) have revealed. Speaking on Friday as part of a series of events or... ...


Austria should stand by Hypo creditors: Nowotny

By Georgina Prodhan

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria should not demand creditors of struggling state bank Hypo Alpe Adria take a "haircut" on the debt, central bank head Ewald Nowotny said, contradicting the country's finance minister.

Nowotny, who was on Friday put in charge of a task force set up to advise the government on how to wind down Hypo after its previous chief quit, said Austria's reputation was at stake if it did not stand by its obligations.

"I believe our model of how a state should behave should be, if you like, more like Germany, should be more like Holland, and not so much Greece or Cyprus," Nowotny told Austria's ORF radio in an interview broadcast on Saturday.

Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger had on Friday questioned whether investors who snapped up discounted Hypo debt "to try to make a quick buck" were worthy of protection.

Nowotny said: "When one has reached this decision in principle that a state honors its obligations, then one must recognize that this means also making payments to creditors that one personally does not agree with."

The resignation of Klaus Liebscher on Friday as head of both the Hypo task force and the bank's supervisory board piled more uncertainty on how Austria would deal with the problem of how to wind down Hypo, which it nationalized in 2009.

Nowotny said a state-owned "bad bank" was his preferred solution and one that should be put into practice as quickly as possible, but Spindelegger had said he had no favored option and again refused rule to out allowing an insolvency.

The split has highlighted market worries posed by Hypo, which Austria had to take over after a period of breakneck expansion in the Balkans pushed the bank to the brink of bankruptcy and threatened financial stability in the region.


The expansion was fueled by guarantees from Hypo's home province of Carinthia, of which 12.5 billion euros ($17.2 billion) remain, posing the danger that the province would be bankrupted if Hypo were allowed to become insolvent.

Ratings agency Fitch maintained its top rating and stable outlook for Austria on Friday but said Vienna's failure to lay out a clear strategy for Hypo raised "concerns about policy coherence and credibility in the near term".

Nowotny said he estimated the winding-down of Hypo would cost Austria around 4 billion euros on top of 4.8 billion it has already provided in aid and guarantees.

And he said it would be a "sensible arrangement" if Austria's other provinces, which are nervously eyeing Carinthia's position, would contribute to the federal government some 250 million euros they collect in bank taxes.

Nowotny denied that he personally, or the central bank, which was responsible for overseeing Hypo, were to blame for what he called the "real catastrophe" of the current situation, and reiterated that he believed the auditors had failed.

"I believe the main problem was simply that many of the balance sheets weren't right and the valuations weren't right," he said. "That is a process where the central role lies with the auditors."

Deloitte , Hypo's former auditors, had rejected the accusation in an email to Reuters saying: "Deloitte is surprised by the statement of Governor Nowotny. We are convinced that we have performed the audit of Hypo Group state of the art and therefore we completely reject these allegations."

($1 = 0.7275 euros)

(Additional reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by David Holmes)

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Greece Seeks to Lift Immunity From Remaining Golden Dawn Parliament Members

Jewish Daily ForwardGreece Seeks to Lift Immunity From Remaining Golden Dawn Parliament MembersJewish Daily ForwardIf parliament grants Thursday's request, all 18 of the party's lawmakers in the 300-member parliament will face charges, part of Greece's widespread crackdown on a party that prosecutors describe as a criminal organization. Among the nine lawmakers who ...Nostalgia for the Past Won't Cure Greece's IllsHuffington PostAll Golden Dawn MPs could lose Greece immunityBBC NewsFar-Right Party Officials in Greece Could Lose (blog) -New York Timesall 45 news articles »


Greek life is helping students be leaders of CSU

Greek life is helping students be leaders of CSURocky Mountain CollegianWe always question the image of Greek Life. One or two negative news makes us think Greek Life is making good college students a failure because our stereotypical image of Greek Life never changes. Well I am here to give another point of view about the ...


Stress Test: Greek Banks Show €5 Billion Capital Need

According to a second stress test conducted in the recent months by the Bank of Greece, the leading four banks of the country are expected to need a total of about €5 billion in extra capital. The Greek central bank conducted this second health check on the country’s top four banks (National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Eurobank), so as to assess whether last summer’s recapitalization worth €28 billion has left the banks capable of absorbing eventual future shocks, as bad loans keep rising. This estimate, which is based on the figures provided by the Bank of Greece for each bank, has to get the final approval of the troika, which is overseeing all financial transactions of the country on behalf of Greece ’s international creditors. “The estimate for the total capital need is about €5 billion,” said a senior bank official, declining to be named. The source didn’t say what individual banks would require. The results, which were expected to be published by early last month, were delayed due to the prolonged talks held with the inspectors of the troika, the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB). The officials of the Bank of Greece declined to provide any comments, saying only that the stress test results would be released soon.


Protecting the good NGOs

In most countries, nongovernmental organizations are a sign of a healthy civil society. The recent revelations in Greece concerning the embezzlement of sizable funds by two NGOs – on involved in de-mining and the other in firefighting – show that at least... ...


Greece’s prescription for a health-care crisis

President Obama’s health-care plan is, in fits and starts ... Last week, his situation went from bad to worse: A private doctor charged him $204 to read his medical tests and explain that cancer had metastasized to his liver.


Hardships of an African Immigrant in Greece

Loretta Makoli is an immigrant who has been living and working in Greece for 31 years. She is a representative of the United African Women organization. She has many stories to tell; stories about the difficulties that the immigrants who live and work in Greece face daily. “I know a mother whose child is in the hospital needing surgery. The mother has to sign for the doctors to proceed. She has no residence permit and thus she is afraid to go and sign,” stated Mrs. Makoli and she continues “being a mother myself, I hurt. I haven’t seen my child for 20 years because I cannot get a resident permit for him.” The Greek Alternate Minister of Interior Leonidas Grigorakos responded immediately to the organization’s call and he promised that the Greek Ministry of Interior will handle all the cases which have been submitted to the Ministry by political parties or organizations. “We are constantly making efforts to obtain residence permits but we always face obstacles. When a child is born here and it is time to go to school, the obstacles for the permit residence are huge even if the child’s parents are legal residents of Greece. Thus, the child is forced to quit school,” mentioned Mrs. Makoli  and she continued “Of course it is good that we left our country which was at war. It is good to be in Greece because we were saved. But do you know what it is to walk on the streets and hear others saying “You ruined Greece. You are criminals?!”


China Closes In On Piraeus

ATHENS – Greece’s fabled port of Piraeus, much of which is already controlled by the Chinese company Cosco, will go up for bid to investors as part of the country’s lagging privatization process as international lenders demand it be accelerated to sell off assets ad enterprises. The government said it had completed work on terms […]

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Greece Defies Troika, Cuts Energy Costs

In a rare sign of defiance, the Greek government said it would go against orders of its international lenders to cut the energy costs for two steelmakers.

The post Greece Defies Troika, Cuts Energy Costs appeared first on The National Herald.


DIKO Votes to Quit Coalition over Handling of Cyprus Talks

Goverment coalition party DIKO voted to abandon the ruling alliance just after midnight Friday, citing disagreement with the terms for the resumption of negotiations on the Cyprus issue, and accusing President Nicos Anastasiades of violating his pre-election pledges that helped secure the party’s support. The decision calls for the resignation of DIKO’s four ministers and three heads of semi-governmental organizations by March 4, but the party pledges to maintain a “responsible stance within and outside of Parliament.” The decision will be brought before the party’s Central Committee on Wednesday for final approval. In a statement issued after the marathon eight-hour session, DIKO listed the reasons for its decision and cites the party’s “history, principles and duty to the country’s citizens”, as well as “ethical and political imperatives”, as drivers for its decision to withdraw. The party has 4 ministers in the 11-member cabinet, including the energy and defense portfolios. Reports suggested that ministers were given until March 4 to resign so that they can collect the bonus they are entitled to when they complete one year in office. That falls on March 1. The reports sparked outrage, with people calling on Anastasiades to reshuffle his cabinet immediately. DIKO’s Executive Office was convened on Friday afternoon by leader Nicolas Papadopoulos to discuss the latest developments on the Cyprus problem. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 following a Turkish invasion after a coup led by supporters of the island’s union with Greece.(source: cyprus-mail)


International Meeting of ‘Doctors Without Borders’ (MSF) in Athens

The health risks that European citizens face during the economic crisis were revealed during a press conference in Athens on Friday by the presidents of ‘Doctors Without Borders’ (MSF) from four European countries: Greece, Spain, France and Germany. The press conference was organized in the framework of an international meeting taking place on Friday and Saturday in Athens under the auspices of the Greek EU Presidency, with the presidents, directors and managers of MSF from 14 countries (Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Greece, USA, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Japan and Argentina) taking part. MSF reported a significant increase in the number of Greek citizens lacking state health insurance, rising to 28 pct of the country’s population at the end of 2013. In Spain, it was estimated that 16 pct of the population had no access to medicines. In France, approximately 200,000 people have no right to medical care due to the complexity of the health system, and even in prosperous Germany, the health of uninsured pregnant women and children is at risk because their access to the health system is limited. The representatives of MSF called for open health systems for everyone, adding that “health is not a commodity” and expressed their solidarity with the citizens of Greece, where the health system is facing the most serious problems due to the economic crisis. As stated by the head of the Greek branch of MSF Liana Mailli: “Greece is in a very extreme situation due to cuts in health. In our country there is no longer such thing as a health system.” Mailli also stressed that about three million Greek citizens are uninsured and added as an example that an uninsured pregnant woman needs 650 euros for a normal birth and 1,200 euros for a caesarean, while a basic vaccination scheme for a child costs 1,400 euros. (source: ana-mpa)


Greek's Pizzeria Opens in Crystal Lake

Greek's Pizzeria Opens in Crystal LakePatch.comGreek's Pizzeria sells a variety of pizzas, sub sandwiches, "pizza shells" or calzones and pasta. According to Greek's Pizzeria's website, "the only thing Greek about the restaurant is the owner," but the business does offer a Greek's antipasto salad ...


SYRIZA Blasts Health Minister Georgiadis

Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis has been charged with failing to cut medicine costs and ignoring the plight of people most affected by the country's economic crisis.

The post SYRIZA Blasts Health Minister Georgiadis appeared first on The National Herald.


Samaras Meets NATO Chief, Hints FYROM Will Be Blocked Admission

Just after talks in the Greek capital with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras - without naming FYROM, which has been seeking entry into the alliance - that any country which wants to part of the defense umbrella has to be willing to uphold "democratic values."

The post Samaras Meets NATO Chief, Hints FYROM Will Be Blocked Admission appeared first on The National Herald.


Greek Islands: readers' tips, recommendations and travel advice

North-west Crete is glorious in April. The White Mountains, covered in snow, make a glorious backdrop to the flower-filled olive and orange groves. Drive up the mountain road to the Omalos Plateau, and see rare tulips and the Samaria Gorge.


Ayurveda not Greek to doctor from Athens

The HinduAyurveda not Greek to doctor from AthensThe HinduWhen modern medical practitioners in India try to laugh away ayurveda treatment system, here is a Greek physician who integrates both systems in his practice at his clinic in Athens. In the city as part of the Global Ayurveda Festival, Dr. N.G ...


A Lethal Cocktail Made in Athens: Austerity and Addiction

On Iasonos Street in downtown Athens, a popular hangout for drug addicts, 27-year-old Michalis is looking for his dealer to buy his fix. Like most of Athens’ drug users, he is constantly under pressure from police who, since last year, have tried to push drug users and sex workers out of the city centre. “Police and authorities treat us worse than animals,” Michalis claims. “The police forcibly put people in their van,” adds 48-year-old Spiros, a fellow drug user. “Once we are in the van, they drive us some 20 kilometres out of Athens and leave us there. Sometimes they will just open the doors and kick us out onto the highway – just like a garbage bag.” As Greece enters its sixth year of recession, the country’s social fabric is being torn by austerity measures that have contributed to a 40 percent decline in the average Greek income. Greece’s conservative-led government has cut spending and raised taxes in an attempt to lower its budget deficit. Now, 28 percent of the population is unemployed and some three million people – of a total population of 11 million – live below the poverty line. Greece has been forced to reduce its healthcare expenditures to below six percent of its gross domestic product – compared with about nine percent on average across the world’s developed countries – and public health spending dropped by 25 percent between 2009 and 2012. The Greek health system has cracked under the pressure, leaving thousands of people without access to basic medical care. A public health crisis? The results are stark. Data from the Athens-based University Mental Health Research Institute indicate that major depression rates have increased by 50 percent since 2009, affecting more than 12 percent of the general population in 2013. Meanwhile, drug and alcohol abuse has risen dramatically. In 2011-12, Greece experienced a major outbreak in HIV infections among injecting drug users. Slashing Greece’s social safety net has caused public health to deteriorate, say analysts, and young Greeks – of whom 60 percent are unemployed – lead the way. For instance, data from EPIPSI suggest that rates of drug use among teenagers have increased significantly in the last four years. At first, economically vulnerable Greeks were able to rely on their families for protection. But with no end in sight to Greece’s economic woes, even this support network is weakening. Vasilis Gkitakos, director of the Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals (KETHEA), one of Greece’s largest drug rehabilitation networks, said unemployment and drug use are the two major threats to the nation’s health. “As the hope for a better life and the motivation for treatment decreases but poverty rises, drug addicts increasingly tend to refrain from taking measures to protect their health and become more self-destructive,” says Gkitakos. “But the state fails to acknowledge, let alone to respond, to what is a public health disaster.” Reaching those in need Iordanis, a trained psychologist, has been doing street work in downtown Athens for the past 12 years. Together with Babis and Yorgos, both former drug users who now work as therapists for KETHEA, they walk the streets handing out free kits containing clean syringes, other drug preparation equipment and condoms. In one night, they often see up to 50 people with serious problems related to drug abuse. For most of them, Iordanis and his team are their only links to a world outside of addiction. The number of young women seeking the services of their mobile unit has significantly increased since the crisis began. Many have become prostitutes – among the easiest ways to finance an addiction – often consenting to unprotected sex for just a few extra euros. Tania M is one of them. The 26-year-old has prostituted herself to get money to buy drugs. So far, she has been sexually assaulted twice, resulting in a broken limb and the loss of four front teeth. Three months ago, Tania gave birth to a baby boy. She found out that she had contracted HIV when her newborn baby tested positive. The news of her baby’s health plunged Tania further into addiction. According to data from the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 86 children tested positive for HIV in 2012, compared with 37 in 2011. Society tends to label drug addicts as cruel offenders… This just doesn’t work. - Yannis Tentis, head of Kethea En Drasei Escaping from addiction But not all the news is bad for Greece’s drug users. In March 2013, Greece amended its drug laws, allowing milder penalties for users and a better framework for rehabilitation in prison. When the entrance gate to the Eleonas Thivon women’s detention facility shuts, a claustrophobic feeling of uneasiness fills the air. Some 500 women, aged between 16 and 85, are detained here, including 19 toddlers who live with their imprisoned mothers. More than half the women have a history of drug abuse. On the ground floor, a group called Kethea En Drasei offers rehabilitation to drug abusers in prison. Yannis Tentis, head of Kethea En Drasei, says jailing drug users offers society nothing but the feeling that lawbreakers are paying for their crimes. “Once the person joins the community, feelings that were frozen by chronic drug abuse emerge. This is when users realise that they may have other options in life than drugs. In the community, members are taught to manage their feelings,” Tentis explains. “Society tends to label drug addicts as cruel offenders, and then incarcerates them in an environment where cruelty and delinquency is a daily routine. This just doesn’t work.” Asma is a young troubled mother who participates in Kethea En Drasei. She was four months pregnant when convicted and her baby boy, today aged two, was born in prison. She suffers from panic attacks and epilepsy. “In prison, you are on your own,” she says. “But when I come to the community, I find a family”. (Photo Credit: Stylianos Papardelas)


TNH Salutes the Presidents: “Read my lips, no new taxes!”

TNH continues its salute to the presidents for the remainder of February: Greek-Americans remember the 1988 presidential race all too well. Democratic Presidential Nominee Michael Dukakis enjoyed a summertime lead over his Republican opponent, incumbent Vice President George H.W. Bush. Bush began to gain momentum late in the season, and when Dukakis said the next […]

The post TNH Salutes the Presidents: “Read my lips, no new taxes!” appeared first on The National Herald.


The Lost Children of Alexander the Great: A Journey to the Pagan Kalash People of Pakistan

The New York Times recently published an article that had a fascinating description of the Kalash, an ancient ethnic group living high in the remote mountains of Pakistan's Hindu Kush. For centuries this light-skinned, pagan people have claimed to be the long-lost descendants of Alexander the Great's world-conquering armies, which invaded this region in the fourth century B.C. The animist Kalash are outwardly different from the darker-skinned Pakistani Muslims who live in the lowlands below them, so it seemed plausible. However, there had been no proof of this remarkable claim until the geneticists quoted in The New York Times found that the Kalash people's DNA seems to indicate that they had an infusion of European blood during a "mixing event" at roughly the time of Alexander's conquests. This isolated people are thus most likely the direct descendants of the ancient Greek-Macedonian armies who set up outposts in this region 2,300 years ago. Few outsiders have visited this forgotten tribe, whose homeland is located near the inaccessible mountain border of Taliban-controlled zones of Afghanistan. But in 2010 I and a friend, Adam Sulkowski, made a journey to the snow-capped Hindu Kush in search of this ancient European pagan people living in an unstable Muslim country. This is our story.University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Spring 2010 For a number of years now, I have been teaching a class for the history department in which I do a "tour" of the great empires of antiquity, from pharaonic Egypt to Viking Europe. But for all my students' interest in the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians and the Romans, it is the exploits of Alexander the Great that inevitably lead to the most questions. Recently one of my students in History 101 asked me during class what happened to the far-flung garrisons of Greeks and Macedonians who were settled in the far corners of Alexander's vast empire. I told her that over the succeeding centuries they disappeared or were absorbed by succeeding waves of invaders. All that was left of the Greeks who left their Mediterranean homeland to settle in distant lands of Africa and Asia was the occasional coin, spearhead or amphitheater testifying to the conquests of one history's greatest leaders. But then, after some thought, I corrected myself and told her the legend of the Kalash people of Pakistan. High in the snow-capped Hindu Kush on the Afghan-Pakistani border lived an ancient people who claimed to be the direct descendants of Alexander the Great's troops. While the neighboring Pakistanis were dark-skinned Muslims, this isolated mountain people had light skin and blue eyes. Although the Pakistanis proper converted to Islam over the centuries, the Kalash people retained their pagan traditions and worshiped their ancient gods in outdoor temples. Most importantly, they produced wine much like the Greeks of antiquity did. This in a Muslim country that forbade alcohol. Tragically, in the 19th century the Kalash were brutally conquered by the Muslim Afghans. Their ancient temples and wooden idols were destroyed, their women were forced to burn their beautiful folk costumes and wear the burqa or veil, and the entire people were converted at swordpoint to Islam. Only a small pocket of this vanishing pagan race survived in three isolated valleys in the mountains of what would later become Pakistan. After class the student came to me and asked me if I'd ever visited the Kalash tribe of the Hindu Kush. Wistfully I told her I had not, but that it was my dream to do so. I remember her response vividly. "Dr. Williams," she said, "you're always telling us to get passports and get out see the world. Why don't you take your own advice and just do it?"Lahore, Pakistan, June 2010 A student's challenge can be a powerful thing, and in June my colleague from the business school, Adam Sulkowski, and I set out to travel into the Hindu Kush on the Pakistani-Afghan border to see this ancient race for ourselves. But when we arrived in Lahore after flying through Abu Dhabi, Rafay, our Pakistani host, reacted with caution toward our bold dream of visiting the lost descendents of Alexander the Great. "It's a dangerous, two-day journey off-road into the mountains," he warned us. "But that's not the most important obstacle you'll have to overcome. To get to the remote homeland of the Kalash, you need to cut through the Swat Valley." Rafay then pointed out our intended route on a map, and Adam and I groaned. Our dream was falling apart. We both knew that the Swat Valley was a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban. In 2007 the Taliban brutally conquered this beautiful, alpine-like valley and forced a puritanical version of Islam on the local people. They also used the valley as a springboard for sending suicide bombers throughout Pakistan. "But all hope is not lost," Rafay continued. "The Pakistani army just reconquered most of the valley this winter and have opened the main road through it. If you don't stray from the road and there is no fighting, you just might be able to pull it off." Nervous about the prospect of adding a journey through a war zone to our trip to the Kalash, Adam and I then traveled to the capital, Islamabad. There, after much searching, we found an ethnic Pashtun driver who claimed to have once traveled to the remote homeland of the Kalash. He not only knew the route but had a tough SUV to get us there. After haggling for the price of the trip, we set out driving across the burning plains of Pakistan, where the heat soared to 120 degrees. Finally, after traversing the country from the Indian border to the Afghan border, we arrived at the mountains. And what mountains they were. The Hindu Kush are an extension of the Himalayas and soar to 25,000 feet. As we drove into the tree-covered mountains, the temperatures blissfully began to drop. While we found respite from the heat, everyone grew tense. Saki, our driver, warned us that we were now in Taliban territory. We had entered the Swat Valley. We had not traveled far before we were stopped at the first of many Pakistani army checkpoints we would encounter. When the soldiers manning it discovered that there were two Americans in the truck, they strongly warned us to avoid leaving the road. One of them asked us to sign our names in a registration book and proclaimed that we were the first foreigners to enter the Swat Valley since the Taliban had taken it in 2007. That night we stayed in Dir, a Swat Valley village that locals claimed had briefly served as a hiding place for Osama bin Laden when he fled Afghanistan in 2001's Operation Enduring Freedom. Rumbur, Kalash Village, Pakistan The next day we made it safely out of the Swat Valley after crossing a mountain pass at 10,000 feet, and a nearby glacier. We were now in the scenic Chitral Valley. We drove up this valley for several hours before our driver grew excited. Gesturing to the dark mountains on our left, he said one word with a grin: "Kalash." With mounting excitement we left the main "road," crossed a large river and began to drive up a mountain trail straight into the mountains. This continued for a couple of hours before the narrow valley opened up and our exhausted driver announced that we had finally arrived in Rumbur, the most isolated of the Kalash valleys. Having made our way from Boston to Abu Dhabi to Lahore to Islamabad to Swat to Chitral, we had finally reached our destination in the high mountains on the Afghan border. It was now time to meet the Kalash. It did not take us long to find them. Adam was the first one to spot a Kalash shepherdess in the trees, wearing a stunningly bright peasant costume. After seeing the faceless burqas of the women of the Swat, the contrast between Muslim women and this Kalash woman could not have been greater. As we drove along we saw several more brightly clad Kalash women. But when we tried to take their pictures, they shyly ran off and hid behind trees. Worried that we might break some local taboo regarding photography, we continued on our way. Soon we entered the Kalash village of Rumbur. The wooden houses were built in steps above one another, going up the valley's walls, and the village square filled up with Kalash curious to see us. Among them was Kazi, the village holy man. Everyone stood back as he approached us and heard our request to stay with the Kalash for a few days and learn about their culture. Kazi, a wizened man with twinkling eyes, heard us out and thought about it for a while. After some thought he finally smiled and gave us his blessing. He proclaimed that as blue-eyed "pagans" (the Kalash believe that in worshiping the Trinity, Christians worship three gods), we were like the Kalash and therefore welcome to stay with them. With that, everyone's shyness was forgotten, and the village men and women proudly posed for photographs and allowed us into their homes. Once again, the contrast to the Pashtun Muslims in Swat and greater Pakistan was tremendous. The conservative Muslims of Swat had women's quarters in their houses where no outsiders were allowed. Here the women were free and dressed in beautiful folk costumes that seemed to belong to a different era. During our stay we hiked up into the mountains overlooking the Afghan border and were taken to the Kalash people's outdoor temples. There they made sacrifices of goats to their ancient mountain gods. Sadly, most of their ancient wooden idols had been stolen or defaced by neighboring Muslim iconoclasts who found them to be heathen abominations. We were also told that one of the local leaders who fought in the courts to protect the Kalash from such problems had recently been assassinated. On many levels we sympathized with the Kalash -- who were losing numbers to conversion to Islam -- as a dying race facing an existential threat. And I must say that after the heat, pollution and crowds of Pakistan proper, we found this pristine mountain enclave filled with incredibly hospitable farmers and shepherds to be a veritable Shangri La. Over and over again we were invited by smiling Kalash into their simple wooden houses for meals, where we talked about life beyond their remote valley. Most Kalash had only left their valley a few times in their life, usually to go to a neighboring Kalash valley for a marriage or to celebrate a great festival. On our final evening in Rumbur, the villagers held a great feast for us. We celebrated with the famous Kalash red wine. My most endearing memory of the mystical night was of Adam doing a snake dance with a local elder, snapping his fingers in rhythm and dancing lower and lower to the ground in the center of the clapping audience. The next morning we were woken to the sound of cows being led by children through the misty village. We said our goodbyes to everyone and drove out of Rumbur. As I looked back I saw several Kalash girls standing on a terraced hill above us and waving to us in their bright costumes. With our driver, a Pashtun Muslim who had never drunk before, recovering from the previous night's festivities, we took leave of our hosts and left this fragile mountain enclave to make our long journey out of the mountains. It was now time to reenter Pakistan proper, a land that seemed far removed in space and time from the ancient rhythms of the Kalash.For photographs of the Kalash pagans of Pakistan's Hindu Kush taken during this expedition, click here. (The journey begins in the Pakistani lowlands in Lahore.) For more of my journeys in Pakistan and Afghanistan, see my books The Last Warlord: The Life and Legend of Dostum, the Afghan Warrior Who Led U.S. Special Forces to Topple the Taliban Regime and Predators: The CIA's Drone War on al-Qaeda.


Saturday March 1

by  Associated Press Saturday March 1 by The Associated Press, Associated Press - 21 February 2014 20:19-05:00

Today is Saturday, March 1, the 60th day of 2014. There are 305 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1553 - League of Heidelberg is formed by Catholic and Protestant princes in Germany to prevent election of Philip of Spain as Holy Roman Emperor.

1562 - Some 1,200 French Huguenots are slain at Massacre of Vassy, provoking first War of Religion in France.

1692 - The Salem Witch trial begins in the American colony of Massachusetts.

1767 - King Charles III expels Roman Catholic Jesuits from Spain.

1790 - U.S. Congress authorizes the first census.

1799 - Turks and Russians complete conquest of Ionian Islands in Greece.

1815 - Napoleon Bonaparte lands in France, forcing King Louis XVIII to flee.

1829 - Brig. Gen. Juan Manuel de Rosas is sworn in as governor of Buenos Aires, rules Argentina until 1852.

1870 - War ends between Paraguay and combined forces of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

1896 - Ethiopian forces defeat Italians at Adwa, northern Ethiopia, ending Italy's quest to create a substantial African colony.

1919 - Korean independence is declared in Seoul and 2 million people rally, leading to brutal Japanese repression.

1932 - The infant son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh is kidnapped from the family home near Hopewell, New Jersey.

1943 - Britain's Royal Air Force begins systematic bombing of European railway systems in World War II.

1952 - Britain returns the North Sea island of Helgoland, occupied since World War II, to West Germany.

1954 - First conference of Organization of American States opens in Caracas, Venezuela; Puerto Rican nationalists open fire in the U.S. House of Representatives, wounding five congressmen.

1961 - U.S. President John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps.

1966 - Soviet Union lands one-ton spacecraft on planet Venus after three and one-half month flight.

1973 - Palestinian terrorists invade diplomatic reception in Khartoum, Sudan, and capture five diplomats.

1981 - Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands begins a hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland; he dies 65 days later.

1985 - Julio Sanguinetti is sworn in as constitutional president of Uruguay, ending nine years of military rule.

1988 - South African government introduces bill to outlaw foreign funding of political activity.

1989 - U.N. General Assembly approves $416 million for U.N.'s one-year plan to free Namibia from 74 years of South African rule.

1991 - Colombia's third largest rebel group, the Popular Liberation Army, formally lays down its arms.

1992 - Muslims and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina vote for independence from Yugoslavia, enraging Serb nationalists.

1993 - Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin closes the occupied Gaza Strip "for a number of days" after a Gaza Palestinian stabs to death two Israelis and wounds nine others.

1994 - Israel releases more than 500 Palestinian prisoners to coax the PLO back to peace talks.

1995 - The director of Russia's only national television network, Vladislav Listyev, is shot and killed as he enters his apartment building.

1996 - The United States approves a visa for Irish Republican Army political leader Gerry Adams.

1997 - About 5,000 neo-Nazis march through Munich to protest an exhibit on the army's involvement in World War II atrocities.

1998 - Serbian police sweep through ethnic Albanian villages in the troubled Kosovo province while the Albanians' leader appeals to the West to stop the violence. Twenty-four Albanians are killed by Serbian security forces in a few days.

1999 - Rwandan Hutu rebels, claiming they oppose American and British support of the Tutsi government in Rwanda, abduct eight foreign tourists from camps in the Ugandan rain forest and hack them to death.

2002 - U.S. space shuttle Columbia carries out a mission to repair and refurbish the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, so that the observatory would have enough power to operate fully for the rest of its projected 20-year life.

2003 - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described planner and organizer of the September 11 attacks is captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

2004 - Exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide claims he was forced to leave Haiti by U.S. military forces. Aristide, in a phone interview said that he was abducted from Haiti by U.S. troops who accompanied him on a flight to the Central African Republic.

2006 - Authorities regain control of Afghanistan's most notorious prison after four days of rioting allegedly sparked by al-Qaida and Taliban convicts. Six inmates are reported killed in the revolt.

2007 - Japan's nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denies Tokyo's military forced women into sexual slavery during World War II, backtracking from a past government apology.

2008 - Prince Harry returns to Britain after his secret deployment with the military in Afghanistan was cut short after 10 weeks by disclosures in the media on Feb. 28.

2009 - Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigns after the country's attorney general informs him that he plans to indict him on suspicion of illicitly taking cash-stuffed envelopes from a Jewish-American businessman.

2010 - Russia's president says Moscow is ready to consider new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear defiance and the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency warns that he cannot confirm that all of Tehran's atomic activities are peaceful.

2011 - Yemen's embattled president accuses the U.S., his closest ally, of instigating the mounting protests against him, but the gambit failsed to slow the momentum for his ouster as hundreds of thousands rally in cities across the country against him.

2012 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy takes refuge from a crowd of several hundred angry protesters in a cafe, as riot police swarmed in to protect him while he campaigned in the country's southwest Basque country.

2013 - Secretary of State John Kerry wades into the controversy over comments by Turkey's prime minister equating Zionism to a crime against humanity, rebuking the leader of the NATO ally by saying such remarks complicate efforts to find peace in the Middle East.

Today's Birthdays:

Frederic Chopin, Polish romantic pianist and composer (1810-1849); Theophile Delcasse, French statesman (1852-1923); Giles Lytton Strachey, English author (1880-1932); Yitzhak Rabin, former Israeli prime minister (1922-1995); Harry Belafonte, U.S. singer/actor (1927--); Dirk Benedict, U.S. actor/director (1945--); Ron Howard, U.S. director/actor (1954--); Roger Daltrey, British singer/songwriter (1944--); Javier Bardem, Spanish actor (1969--).

Thought For Today:

If you are able to state a problem, it can be solved — Edwin H. Land, American inventor (1909-1991).

News Topics: Business, Arts and entertainment, General news, International incidents, War and unrest, Protests and demonstrations, Legislature, Government and politics, Prison riots, Territorial disputes, Army, Diplomacy, International relations, Nationalism, Political and civil unrest, Prisons, Correctional systems, Law and order, Armed forces, Military and defense

People, Places and Companies: Yitzhak Rabin, Gerry Adams, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Shinzo Abe, Ehud Olmert, Nicolas Sarkozy, John Kerry, Harry Belafonte, Dirk Benedict, Roger Daltrey, Javier Bardem, United Kingdom, Palestinian territories, Haiti, Caracas, United States, Israel, France, Spain, Japan, Gaza Strip, Middle East, Russia, Columbia, Western Europe, Europe, Caribbean, Latin America and Caribbean, Venezuela, South America, North America, East Asia, Asia, Eastern Europe, Tennessee

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


Junior coalition partner poised to quit Cyprus government

A junior partner in Cyprus's center-right government said on Saturday it was poised to quit the coalition in disagreement over a decision to restart peace talks on the ethnically split island. A spokeswoman for the Democratic Party said members of its executive committee decided to recommend to its key decision-making body withdrawal from the government, which it has been a member of for a year. The central committee of the Democratic Party was scheduled to meet on February 26 to discuss the recommendation. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu relaunched stalled peace talks on the island on February 11 in an attempt to end one of Europe's longest-running conflicts.


Renzi New Italian PM – Greece is Watching

ROME (AP) — In a development whose consequences will be closely monitored in neighboring Greece, Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi formed Italy’s new government on Friday and said his broad coalition is aiming to give the economically-stagnant country some “hope.” At 39, Renzi will become Italy’s youngest premier when he and his Cabinet are sworn […]

The post Renzi New Italian PM – Greece is Watching appeared first on The National Herald.


Global NGOs Protest Greece ‘Attacks’

  ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Three leading non-governmental organizations in Greece are protesting “unprecedented attacks” on NGOs in the country following fraud allegations involving publicly funded local groups. The 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 […]

The post Global NGOs Protest Greece ‘Attacks’ appeared first on The National Herald.


Greece: Austerity fuels public health fears

Researchers say they have found more evidence that Greece’s financial crisis is taking a toll on the health of its citizens, including rising rates of HIV, tuberculosis, depression and infant deaths. Since the economic crisis hit in 2009, the ...


G20 Finance Ministers in Need of Some Old 'Know-how': Jobs and Decent Wages

Listening to optimistic talk of an economic recovery among the world's financial elites is a bit like hearing a smoker describe their latest heart attack as they light up another cigarette. As G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bankers responsible for 85 per cent of the global economy prepare to meet in Sydney this weekend they must confront the underlying problems that still stymie growth and prosperity for all. The talks have been characterised as traditional, with no new "know-how" from policy makers. Investment in infrastructure, adequate training, an end to precarious work, and reforms such as social protection, minimum wages and collective bargaining, are concrete steps governments must take to narrow the growing gap between the haves and have-nots. Anything else is merely a continuation of the complacency and fanciful thinking that characterised the World Economic Forum in Davos last month. At that event, in the rarefied air of the Swiss Alps, the widening gulf between rich and poor was lamented - after all, those present made up almost two-thirds of the world's wealth. There was even some recognition that such obscene inequality could put economies and democratic institutions at risk, though there was little or no discussion of how to set a new course. Pundits suggested the United States and United Kingdom economies were rebounding strongly, and that even the sick economies in Europe were finally on the mend. There were confident predictions the global recovery would strengthen significantly in 2014. Such forecasts gloss over the massive backlog of unemployment and stagnant worker incomes, which restrict consumption and represent a drag on aggregate demand. Data suggesting that deflation in Europe remained a distinct possibility were also ignored. Now just a few weeks later the official outlook appears far less rosy. Emerging markets are struggling to contain capital flight and their currencies are under attack despite the best efforts of central bankers to prop them up. Confidence in several large emerging economies has been shaken by a sharp slowdown in growth, concerns over political stability, the outlook for commodity prices and confirmation that the days of cheap and plentiful dollars are drawing to an end. The causes of this new crisis can be traced to deregulated global financial markets, which create boom and bust cycles for capital movements. After several years in which the emerging economies had to absorb massive inflows of capital from speculators seeking higher returns than they could expect at home these flows are suddenly reversed as foreign investors race for the exit, causing panic as they leave. In our globalised economy the consequences of these recent events in emerging markets will not be easily contained. They have already impacted on equity prices in advanced economies. The risks are particularly acute for the fragile southern European states that need to compete for tourists alongside emerging economies. In emerging economies large currency depreciations have just made these countries bargain destinations for holidaymakers. While prices in Greece, Spain and Portugal are edging upwards as the Euro strengthens. At a minimum, a real and enduring recovery will require re-regulation of financial markets and policies to correct the explosion in income inequality. These issues are now openly -- though superficially -- discussed, but no one is taking responsibility for implementing reforms that will reduce risk in markets or restore the middle class. Talk of policies that might actually help shift the massive income and power imbalances in our societies was confided in secret to the few representatives of civil society and trade unions at Davos. These were the subjects for stage whispers or quiet corners. Instead of dealing with rising income inequality in developed economies we can now expect pressure for reforms in emerging and developing nations that will exacerbate the already high levels of income inequality in these regions. Whenever there is a currency or financial crisis developing countries are told they must implement reforms to help attract foreign direct investment and capital inflows. Often this is accompanied by demands for further reductions in wages and labour costs. Workers and the poor are invariably expected to bear the weight of rectifying the results of poor economic management. During the economic upswing in emerging market,s workers in most countries did not receive their fair share of the gains in productivity or prosperity. This is why income inequality increased dramatically in many parts of Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. In a few Latin American emerging countries income inequality did marginally diminish, but this was from unacceptably high levels. Now as emerging economy currencies fall, the price of imports will increase rapidly and the cost of living for the poor will jump. It is the poor who suffer in these circumstances. They are the ones who cannot protect themselves and in a further economic tragedy more jobs might disappear. One clear step governments and central banks must take in Sydney is the introduction of country-by-country tax reporting by multinational corporations. In this way the G20 can show their resolve to end the complacent, business-as-usual approach and give meaning to the OECD Action Plan on "Base Erosion and Profit Shifting" endorsed at last year's summit in Saint Petersburg. If we are committed to strong, sustained and balanced growth lets forgo for once, asking the poor and the working class to carry the full burden of adjustment. Instead let us focus on protecting their jobs and real living standards. To the surprise of economists and policy makers, it might just work


2.16 Percent Drop in Uninsured Employment

During the high tourist season, the government only uncovered seven uninsured employees in Rhodes, three in Mykonos and none in Santorini, making it easy to assume that something in the process went wrong. However, it explains why the effort made by the Greek Minister of Labor Yiannis Vroutsis to eradicate the uninsured employment in Greece within six months is described by the media as extraordinarily successful. It was only last February that the Federation of Hellenic ICT Enterprises (SEPE) controls showed that uninsured employees came up to 40 percent. Today, after the operation of the “Artemis” system inspired by Mr. Vroutsis, the numbers have changed and the uninsured employment seems to have dropped to 2.16 percent. According to the data published by Mr. Vroutsis, in the period of time between September 16 2013 and January 31 2014, the Ministry operated controls in 7,878 enterprises, 684 of which were found to have engaged uninsured employees (8.68 percent). In a total of 49,126 employees of those enterprises, only 1,063 were uninsured (2.16 percent) while the fines imposed for the uninsured employment amounted to 10,839,987 euros. However, an analysis of the data shows that Mr. Vroutsis attempts to convey an ideal illustration that is far from the reality that employees experience daily. Someone could easily reach this conclusion if they are aware of the labor market on the Greek islands during the tourist season. Thus, the controls that took place from last September on the Greek islands – when the tourist season for islands such as Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Corfu and Rhodes is at its peak – showed that from Islands on the Aegean, only 16 employees were uninsured, in Crete the number reached 100, while on the Ionian Islands there were only 13.


21st International Education Fair Underway in Cyprus

The 21st International Educational Fair began today, February 21, with 295 exhibitors that will inform the public on matters related to higher education. The fair is organized by the Cyprus Ministry of Education. This year’s fair will present all Cypriot Universities and Institutions of Higher Education, along with other educational establishments from 19 countries. Australia, Bulgaria, Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, the U.S., Ireland, Spain, Israel, Italy, Canada, Holland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Finland will all be participating in the fair. In addition, Lithuania and Sweden will send representatives to the fair for the first time. SFA Chairman, Othon Theodoulou stated during a press conference that the Fair has contributed significantly to the society’s development over the last 21 years in operation. Eight Universities and eighteen institutions of Higher Education, including the University of Cyprus, Cyprus University of Technology, Open University and five private institutions the European University, the University of Nicosia, University of Technology Frederick, Neapolis University in Pafos and the University of Central Lancashire will represent Cyprus at the Fair. Among the Tertiary Education is the Higher Hotel Institute and the Research School of the Institute of Neurology and Genetics for graduate programs. Theodoulou also mentioned that the Greek Minister of Education is in attendance at the 21st International Educational Fair, as well as some representatives from Greece’s universities. From the remaining countries, there will be either direct or indirect participation from 169 universities and 25 colleges. The gates of the International Educational Fair will remain open until Sunday, February 23 and it will be held on the Cyprus International Fair Grounds. The exhibition will be inaugurated by the Minister of Education and Culture.


Real estate investment firms’ future looks better

Things are looking up for real estate investment companies in Greece as the slide in the prices of commercial properties they have in their portfolios appears to be coming to its end. The first clear sign of the new trend was the return to profit of blue ... ...


Greek Investigating Judges Question Golden Dawn’s Legitimacy

Radical developments concerning the Greek neo-Nazi political party Golden Dawn are taking place in the Greek political scene as the two investigating judges forwarded their verdict over Golden Dawn to the Greek Parliament. After this new ...


​Malaria returns to Greece as austerity wreaks havoc on healthcare

​Malaria returns to Greece as austerity wreaks havoc on healthcareRT (blog)Unemployment in Greece has more than tripled from 7.7 percent in 2008 to 24.3 percent in 2012, while long-term unemployment has reached 14.4 percent. In a country where health insurance is linked to employment, an estimated 800,000 have been left ...