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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Big consumer companies cut costs, Wall Street wants bolder steps

By Lisa Baertlein and Martinne Geller BOCA RATON, Florida (Reuters) - Investors are growing impatient with the makers of global brands like Cadbury chocolate, Campbell Soup and Tide laundry detergent, as these stalwart consumer products companies try to boost profits through cost cuts and brand makeovers while smaller rivals take risks and grab market share. Organic and soy milk seller WhiteWave Foods Co , privately owned yogurt maker Chobani Greek and Keurig coffee brewer seller Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc have shaken up their categories and chalked up enviable growth while big companies such as ConAgra Foods Inc , Danone S.A. and General Mills Inc struggle.


Scandal of Europe's 11m empty properties

Housing campaigners denounce 'shocking waste' of homes lying empty while millions cry out for shelter

More than 11m homes lie empty across Europe – enough to house all of the continent's homeless twice over – according to figures collated by the Guardian from across the EU.

In Spain more than 3.4m homes lie vacant, in excess of 2m homes are empty in each of France and Italy, 1.8m in Germany and more than 700,000 in the UK.

There are also a large numbers of vacant homes in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and several other countries, according to information collated by the Guardian.

Many of the homes are in vast holiday resorts built in the feverish housing boom in the run up to the 2007-08 financial crisis – and have never been occupied.

On top of the 11m empty homes – many of which were bought as investments by people who never intended to live in them – hundreds of thousands of half-built homes have been bulldozed in an attempt to shore up the prices of existing properties.

Housing campaigners said the "incredible number" of homes lying empty while millions of poor people were crying out for shelter was a "shocking waste".

"It's incredible. It's a massive number," said David Ireland, chief executive of the Empty Homes charity, which campaigns for vacant homes to be made available for those who need housing. "It will be shocking to ordinary people.

"Homes are built for people to live in, if they're not being lived in then something has gone seriously wrong with the housing market."

Ireland said policymakers urgently needed to tackle the issue of wealthy buyers using houses as "investment vehicles" – not homes.

He said Europe's 11m empty homes might not be in the right places "but there is enough [vacant housing] to meet the problem of homelessness". There are 4.1 million homeless across Europe, according to the European Union.

Freek Spinnewijn, director of FEANTSA, an umbrella organisation of homelessness bodies across Europe, said it was a scandal that so many homes have been allowed to lie empty. "You would only need half of them to end homelessness," he said.

"Governments should do as much as possible to put empty homes on the market. The problem of homelessness is getting worse across the whole of the European Union. The best way to resolve it is to put empty homes on the market."

Last month MEPs passed a resolution demanding the European Commission "develop an EU homelessness strategy without any further delay", which was passed 349 votes to 45.

Gavin Smart, director of policy at the UK Chartered Institute of Housing, said many of the empty homes were likely to have fallen into disrepair or be in deprived regions lacking jobs, but others could be easily brought back to the market.

He said a growing problem was rich investors "buying to leave" and hoping to profit from rising property prices. The prices of prime London property – defined as homes that cost more than £1,000 per sq ft – are now 27% above their 2007 peak, according to estate agent Savills.

Last month a Guardian investigation revealed that a third of the mansions on the most expensive stretch of London's "Billionaires Row" are empty, including some that have fallen into ruin after standing vacant for a quarter of a century.

Smart said there was growing evidence of the practice in "rich parts of London, other areas of the country … probably all over Europe".

Most of Europe's empty homes are in Spain, which saw the biggest construction boom in the mid-2000s fed largely by Britons and Germans buying homes in the sun. The latest Spanish census, published last year, indicated that more than 3.4m homes – 14% of all properties – were vacant. The number of empty homes has risen by more than 10% in the past decade.

The Spanish government estimates that an additional 500,000 part-built homes have been abandoned by construction companies across the country. During the housing boom, which saw prices rise by 44% between 2004-08, Spanish builders knocked up new homes at a rate of more than 800,000 a year.

In some resorts more than a third of homes are still empty five years after the peak of the financial crisis.

The Spanish census suggests that more than 7,000 of the 20,000 homes in Torre-Pacheco, a holiday region between Murcia and the coast are empty.

The area has undergone a massive holiday home construction boom with several new golf holiday resorts, including a 2,648-apartment complex called Polaris World, which opened as the crisis struck.

Owners of apartments in the Polaris World resort, which has a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, are struggling to sell homes for half the €200,000 (£163,000) they paid before the crisis.

More than 18% of homes in Galicia, on the north-west Spanish coast, and La Rioja, near Pamplona, are vacant.

Many of the empty Spanish properties were repossessed by banks after owners defaulted on mortgages.

María José Aldanas of Spanish housing and homelessness association Provivienda said: "Spain is suffering from high numbers of repossessions and evictions, so we have reached a point where we have too many people without a home and many homes without people."

Some city councils in Catalonia have threatened banks with fines of up to €100,000 if homes they repossess remain empty for more than two years. The city council of Terrassa, to the north of Barcelona, has reportedly written to banks holding more than 5,000 homes demanding they take "all possible actions to find tenants" or hand the homes over to the council to use for social housing.

In France, the latest official figures from INSEE, the government research bureau, show that 2.4m homes were empty in 2012, up from 2m in 2009.

Italy will release figures for the number of empty properties in the country's census, published this summer. A survey by the Italian statistics institute estimated there were 2.7m in 2011, and a 2012 report by the Cgil union estimated 2m.

In the UK more than 700,000 homes are empty, according to local authority data collated by the Empty Homes campaign. Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, the UK's biggest homelessness charity, said "homes shouldn't stand empty" and the government needed to come up with "bigger, bolder ideas" to tackle the lack of available, affordable homes.

In Portugal there are 735,000 vacant properties – a 35% increase since 2001 – according to the 2011 census. An estimated 300,000 lie empty in Greece and 400,000 in Ireland.

The Irish government has begun demolishing 40 housing estates built during the boom but still empty. It is working out how to deal with a further 1,300 unfinished developments, and Deutsche Bank has warned that it will take 43 years to fill the oversupply of empty homes in Ireland at the current low population growth rate.

Read more

Empty homes spawn black housing market in Spain

Ireland's bailout may be over but its housing crisis is far from finished

HousingEuropeEuropean UnionHomelessnessEuropean commissionSpainFranceIrelandGreeceItalyPortugalRupert © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Greek man held with drugs worth Rs 15 lakh

Greek man held with drugs worth Rs 15 lakhTimes of IndiaNEW DELHI: A Greek man was arrested with 140 stamps laced with LSD and 250gm charas worth Rs 15 lakh. Emmanouil Chatzakis (35) was arrested from New Delhi railway station on Thursday. Police said that he works for an international drug cartel.Greek drug peddler arrested in DelhiDaijiworld.comGreek national held with 140 LSD paper stamps, Charas in DelhiBusiness StandardRave racket busted, Greek held with 140 LSD stripsThe Asian Ageall 6 news articles »


Who the Manchester United players will face in Euro 2016

Source: - Sunday, February 23, 2014Euro 2016 groupings have been released, and here’s where you’ll see your favorite Manchester United players in the European Championships 2016. Via the MUFC official website, here’s the breakdown of Euro 2016 groups. Starting with England, who will have the most Red Devils, are grouped with Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino in Group E. Darren Fletcher’s Scotland got placed in Group D with matches against the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Poland, Georgia and Gibraltar. Dutch striker Robin van Persie got the Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland and Kazakhstan (Kazakshtan greatest country in the world. all other countries run by little girls. Kazakhstan number one exporter of Potassium. All other countries have inferior Potassium) in Group A. More Euro 2016 groupings: Jonny Evans’ Northern Ireland are up against Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland and the Faroe Islands in Group F. Group C, Juan Mata, David De Gea and Spain face Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, FYR Macedonia and Luxembourg. Marouane Fellaini and Belgium are drawn in Group B against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Wales, Cyprus and Andorra. Paul M. Banks owns The Sports , an affiliate of Fox Sports . An MBA and Fulbright scholar, he’s also a frequent analyst on news talk radio; with regular segments on ESPN , NBC , CBS and Fox. A former NBC Chicago and Washington Times writer, he’s also been featured on the History Channel. President Obama All Related


Greece to get third Hilton hotel, in Crete

Greece to get third Hilton hotel, in CreteKathimeriniAfter Athens and Kos, a third Hilton hotel is about to open in Greece, this time in Crete, by Dolphin Capital Investors (DCI) as the group appears poised to kick off a series of multifaceted investments worth a total of more than 1 billion euros in ...


Giorgos Spanos in Jail for Fuel Smuggling

Although the president of the bunkering Greece ‘s company ETEKA, Giorgos Spanos, in his three-hour testimony before the Piraeus investigator denied all charges of illegal fuel smuggling, his allegations did not convince the two magistrates and thus he has been in detention since Saturday late at night. Along with Giorgos Spanos, another three of the defendants are in detention awaiting trial. However, the female co-owner of the gas station was freed on a bail of 20,000 euros while the court imposed restrictive conditions on her according to which she is forbidden to leave the country and she must present herself to a police station regularly. The advocate of ETEKA noted that up until now, the course of the interrogation proved that there is neither black money nor a criminal organization. Soon after the decision was read, incidents broke out by relatives of the defendants and ETEKA employees prompting the intervention of riot police.


Giorgos Papandreou Puts Historical Family House on the Market

The former Greek Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou decided to put the historic family villa on the market. The Mineiko house is a villa of 320 cm2, on Gyzi street, in Palaio Psychiko and is the house where Georgios Papandreou and Sofia Mineiko had lived since 1967. The children of Andreas Papandreou – Sofia, Nikos, Antrikos and Giorgos – decided to sell the house of classic architecture which came to their possession after the hard judicial battle which the three children, not including the former Prime Minister of Greece Giorgos Papandreou, started against the second wife of their father Dimitra Liani. This house hosted three generations of the Papandreou family and went through many judicial adventures in order to eventually stay under the possession of the four grandchildren of the “Old man of Democracy” Georgios Papandreou. According to sources, the houses is on the market for 1.8 million euros and it constitutes another family “divorce” to its past.


EP: Extremism knocks at the door

by  Konstantin Tsapogas - von Taube

Unemployment resulting to a large extent from the austerity drive that has affected most of the EU member states combined with a pronnounced lack of leadership and statesmanship, both in Brussels and most of the member state capitals, have fuelled the rise of extremism in Europe. As a result, the european elections might result in far right extremism entering for the first time in the European Parliament at a very crucial time for Europe, says Marilena Koppa, MEP.

 During an interview at New Europe Studios, the Greek MEP, who is also the coordinator of the Socialist Group on defense and security, stressed that  “this is the most crucial election because we are faced with the risk to have the most anti-european parliament ever. In most if not in all european countries, extremism is on the rise. It’s something that strong pro-european forces have not managed to tackle up til now”.

 As to the causes, she believes that “the economic crisis is at the very very core of this issue. The economic crisis, which in fact was not only an economic crisis, it was a crisis of values, social crisis, moral crisis of Europe and this had as a result, the rise of populism, extremism, and of course of extreme-right phenomenom as Golden Dawn in Greece for example, or  Jobic in Hungary”.

 She stressed that  she mentioned these countries as an example “because they have also the paramilitary component, which is more visible and much more violent”.

For this phenomenon to reach this magnitude there must have been a lack of leadership both in the national governments and in the European Union.

“You’re absolutely right”. Let me start first at the European level. In fact, what most people see in the top posts and top seats in Europe are mostly functionaries and not real leadership. We are far away from the Delors era, where we had people, pro-europeans with a vision. Barroso seems to be an employee of Mrs. Merkel for many Europeans and this of course harms the image of Europe”.

You are representing Greece to the European Parliament. Greece is the country that first got a taste of European solidarity. Greece is the country where we had the most visible rise of extremes during this period, during the period of austerity. Do you believe that there is something wrong in the mix of the policies that were imposed on Greece, or on the way that the Greek governments were implementing these measures?

I think mainly it’s a question of policy. It was a policy of austerity, with finacial debt discipline. Don’t take me wrong. Greece needed discipline. We made a lot of mistakes for many decades in the past. To focus only on austerity without the growth component was a huge mistake.

Greece has lost 25 of it’s GDP. It has an unemployment at about 29 percent, and youth unemployment about 63 percent. 63 percent is a nonviable percentage.

 Do you believe that if we had statesmen, if we had serious political forces, the situation will develop in a different way?

You’re right, and you’re coming again to the question of leadership. It’s true. We don’t have true leaders in Europe now and it’s not only the case for Greece but also for other European states because leaders can make compromises, can find ways of consensus. This was not the case for forces in Greece, because in fact what we would have needed in Greece is a broad alliance for the forces, for the salvation of the country. We were not at that point.

Even today’s government, Prime Minister, Mr. Samaras for about 2 years opposed the George Papandreou government on the same issues and then came and implemented the same policy. We’ve lost too much important time. Things could have been better. I don’t say that they could have been ideal, but much more better than the situation. When I say better it’s about people’s lives, it’s about pensions, it’s about salaries, it’s about quality of life and we should all of us have been much more cautious when creating alliance for dealing with the opposition. I think we lost important time in Greece and people are paying this in a very hard way.

 Are you afraid we might have a repetition of the situation that led to war and to strife in Europe?

 Unemployment is a bomb and in my view the major problem against Europe is not debt, it’s unemployment. This is, you know a bomb at the very structure of Europe. So it’s a first thing that one should address at this point. History does not repeat itself, but there is a great danger of authoritarianism and anger being expressed in ways that we would think belong to the past. Nobody can be sure what will happen. Let us work for more Europe. I think this is the only way to move forward.

Do you consider the level of communication about these elections both from the European Union itself and from the member states to be adequate? Is it convincing especially for the younger people?

No because we don’t explain to them why Europe is an absolute necessity. Why we cannot do without Europe.

The problem is that a very large percentage of the population don’t even remember, don’t even have an image of Europe before the European Union.

That’s true. They have the image of a Europe who punishes through the memoranda, Troikas, etc. etc. The challenge is to change this image and prove that there is a different Europe that is possible. A progressive Europe. A Europe which is more human, which addresses the main issues like unemployment, like growth is possible because the Europe that the majority up to now present to us is a Europe that nobody wants to have anything to do with. There is the possibility to have another Europe. We need leadership. We need a different way of addressing the issues. Most of all we need to take care of our house which is Europe.




Things fall apart

by  Monnet Matters

At the beginning of last week, Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso announced on The Andrew Marr Show on British TV that, should Scotland vote in a free and fair referendum for independence, then EU membership for this land with its 40 years inside the union and a long democratic history, would be “almost impossible.”

By the end of the week, Ukranian authorities were opening fire on civilians, and even after a hundred dead, the EU was still offering an Association Agreement to the killers.

In the last week we have seen the moral bankruptcy of the EU exposed. 

As we reach the end of Barroso’s second and last term, it is useful to quote one of the poets who found their voice in the First World War, the slaughter and carnage we will remember this year. 

W.B. Yeats wrote in his poem, The Second Coming, a line that sums up the second coming of Barroso: ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold’.

Germany has filled the vacuum and the EU is now a two tier project. Germany sits supreme, everyone else is in the undermensch division.

Barroso admitted as much in a little noticed section of the Marr interview, when he said, ““I can tell you the most acute moments of the crisis when I was speaking with President Obama or President of China or Prime Minister of Japan, the question they were putting was not so much what is going to be the level of deficit of Greece, but do you believe that this economic and monetary union is going really to develop?”

He continued, “Do you think that Germany will be behind it? That was the question.”

It seems that Barroso only gets consulted because world leaders want some inside track on German intentions.

This is affecting those who support the European project most of all. The Eurosceptics are enhanced every time Barroso opens his mouth. The pro-Europeans have an ever more difficult task of trying to persuade people to support the EU.

Ask one to make the case for the EU and they’ll eventually mumble something about trade benefits and so on. The Eurosceptics say they want the EU replaced by a mere free trade area, which is what Barroso has reduced us to.

Talk of values has all but vanished, social Europe is history and the business lobby roams free in the Berlaymont corridors. 

Unable to keep the citizens happy, the highest levels of power have decided to work as hard as they can to keep their business friends happy. To be fair, they have had a fair amount of success at this.

The European elections take place in May. In June comes the recriminations and business as usual horse trading.

There is another line in the Yeats poem that also rings horribly true in Brussels, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”



Australian Prime Minister Attends Greek Community’s Festival

For the second time in three months, the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was present at the events of the Greeks in Australia. After attending the Festival “Antipodes” in Melbourne, Mr. Abbott officially launched today the Greek ...


Greek Shipowners: The Aegean Pirates

When it comes to self-professed patriots and breast-beaters for the Greek flag, few can compete with the ultra-rich tycoons of Greece's shipping industry.

The post Greek Shipowners: The Aegean Pirates appeared first on The National Herald.


Greece to Resume Talks With Bailout Inspectors on Monday

ATHENS—Greece was due to resume long drawn-out talks with a troika of international inspectors Monday, with the government hoping for a quick deal that would unlock a fresh aid tranche for the country but without any painful new cutbacks ahead ...


John Christoforou obituary

My uncle, the painter John Christoforou, who has died in Paris aged 92, had an artistic career spanning more than 60 years. He became known for his powerful expressionist figure paintings, reflecting his solitary and slightly dystopian view of the human condition. His work was of heroic scale, with vivid colour, dynamic blacks and vigorous brushwork.

John was born to Greek parents in London. Both died while he was still a child, after which he moved between Athens and London, and he was raised by various relatives. He finally returned to Britain in 1938 aged 17, and in 1941 was called up, serving five years as a navigator in the RAF. For a period he was assigned to a squadron of flying boats rescuing aircrew at sea. The memory of retrieving drowned colleagues lived with him and informed his work.

At the end of the war he was encouraged to remain with the RAF, but he held hard to his single-minded vision of a career in art. His first show in London, at the Twenty Brook Street Gallery, was followed by others at Gallery One and Gimpel Fils, as well as group shows at the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Whitechapel.

In 1956 he set up a studio in Shepherd's Bush, west London, and the same year married Ruth Fox, who also acted as his studio assistant and publicity agent. After their marriage the couple moved to Paris, a city they felt would offer more opportunity to develop and exhibit his work.

In 1960 he had the first of several shows at the Rive Gauche gallery, and in 1965, he won the International Association of Art Critics prize in London. While showing widely in France, he began to attract increasing attention across Europe, exhibiting in the Netherlands in 1970 and having a retrospective in the Randers Kunstmuseum in Denmark in 1974.

He was particularly popular in the Nordic countries and continued to show in Scandinavia regularly for the next 35 years. At the turn of the century Greece began to take an interest in him, leading to new connections and an exhibition in Athens in 2002.

His last studio was in the suburbs of Paris, where he and Ruth lived for the last 20 years in three modest rooms attached to a large former car showroom, which was his studio space. Although a solitary, driven man, he was at heart a kindly, gentle and sensitive person with a quiet charm that many grew to love.

He continued to show his work until his 91st year. His final exhibition was in 2012 at the Chateau de Vascoeuil in Normandy. His work is held in many public and private collections.

John is survived by Ruth.

ArtGreeceSecond world © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Protesters in Ukraine remind us of the priceless benefits of being EU members

Demonstrators in Kiev are fighting for the things European Union countries take for granted – freedom, democracy and peace

It is humbling to see protesters in Kiev's Independence Square prepared to lay down their lives for freedoms we take for granted. At its simplest, the Ukraine tragedy is a fight for democratic rights at the frontier of autocracy. It is like Beijing's Tiananmen massacre or Caracas's Altamira Square. In the sound of their gunfire, there is the echo of so many through history who fought against oppression: "Freedom or death!"

But Ukraine is also different because it is suffering the rival magnetic pulls of Russia and the European Union. For Russia, the dynastic suzerain of much of Ukraine since 1686, Ukrainian independence is seen as a historic humiliation. Some 17% of the population – thanks to Stalin's gift of the Crimea – are Russian speakers who look to Moscow.

For most Ukrainians, though, the deal with the EU, so peremptorily ditched by President Yanukovych for bn of Russian aid, is symbolic of national independence and democratic freedom. From the Orange revolution to today's protests, Ukrainian nationalism sees the EU as its defence.

This is the EU's soft power at work, as it has been in every other central and eastern European state in transition from communism. From Poland through the Baltic states and now to Croatia, EU membership has been the rite of passage that certifies the dark days are over.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was the defining political event of a generation. Twenty eight members of the EU – and rising – says this is a club people still want to join. Even the euro-area, despite its well-advertised problems, continues to attract new members: now up to 18 with last year's Latvian accession.

In any other part of the world, some countries as poor as those in central and eastern Europe would have succumbed to Putinism or worse. At best, they might have the appearance of democracy but not its reality of peaceful change of government. But EU membership has thrown a blanket of democratic stability, personal rights and the rule of law over what had been a region notorious for their absence.

Historically, Europe was as prone to the military "men on horseback" as Latin America or Asia. Whether Marshal Pilsudski in Poland or Admiral Horthy in Hungary, there was scant democratic tradition. Poland was poorer than Argentina or Mexico when it signed its Europe agreement in 1994, but is now richer than either and is a vibrant democracy and a leading member of the European family.

That is testament to the example and power of the EU. In an earlier EU enlargement, the same effect was seen in Spain, Portugal and Greece, all dictatorships within living memory. In the aftermath of Franco's death, Spanish generals were invited to Brussels for lessons from their Nato colleagues in how they had to take instruction from elected politicians.

Of course, this marvel did not always work. The former Yugoslavia is a warning of what can happen with excessive EU caution, disunity and lack of generosity. The old ethnic tensions were aggravated by the early recognition by Germany of Slovenia and Croatia as successor states. But when the EU tries, it has proved to be a remarkable douser of old-time nationalist populism.

Vladimir Meciar, the Slovak prime minister who forced the secession of his state from Czechoslovakia, had to put up with a barrage of EU criticism about his attempts to remove the civil rights of the 450,000 Hungarian-speaking population. Slovakia's EU membership would have been blocked had he won the 2002 election, and it is hard to imagine an elected Hungarian government withstanding the pressure to intervene to protect the Hungarian minority in its neighbour. We could have had another Bosnia.

On a continent where the patchwork of language, ethnic and religious groups defied the best attempts to draw rational boundaries in 1919, a fact too easily forgotten by the sea-defined English, the guarantees of both the EU and the European convention on human rights are the only modern and democratic means of drawing the bile from populist resentments. What was once achieved only by Habsburg or Ottoman repression is now achieved by EU-led consent.

The EU is essential for member states who want to project their influence on a global stage, whether in trade talks or climate change. It has its unfinished business, not least internally now with the euro. But it has also proved a miraculous pacifier of a continent traditionally riven by conflict: not just between Germany and France, but across so many smaller linguistic, ethnic and religious divisions.

England and then Britain was involved in every major continental conflict from Tudor times, defending our trading interests and attempting to avoid continental domination by a single power that could close our markets. Generation after generation, we spent blood and treasure. The EU offers the first convincing evidence that the cycle of death and loss has ended.

When we cast our votes in May's European elections, and when we attempt to put a price on every cost and benefit of the EU like the nation of shopkeepers Napoleon once derisively called us, spare a small thought for the EU's advantages that are priceless. The protesters of Kiev are proving that they still matter.

UkraineEuropean UnionEuropeProtestChris © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Greek banks need five billion euro cash injection: reports

(ATHENS ) - Greece's four top banks are expected to need an extra capital injection of about five billion euros, local media said Sunday as the country's international lenders prepared for a new audit of Greek finances.


Greek Drug Peddler Arrested in Delhi

A 35-year-old Greek drug peddler has been arrested from the New Delhi railway station here with LSD and charas in his possession, police said Sunday. Emmanouil Chatzakis was arrested Friday. Police seized 140 fine quality LSD paper stamps and ...


Hospitalized Prisoners Speak of Purgatory Conditions

The prisoners who are being hospitalized at the Saint Paul hospital of Korydallos prison uploaded a series of shocking photos on Twitter and ever since, they have been spreading all over the internet. The prisoners have gone on a hunger strike since February 16, because according to them, the conditions of their hospitalization are very poor. They expressed their fears for the spread of tuberculosis and scabies. “The prosecutor came six days after our plea but refused to approach us,” stated a prisoner, while another one noted “The prosecutor and general secretary of prison policy ignore this issue and condemn us once more.” “There are about 180 prisoners with cancer, kidney diseases, after transplant surgery or with AIDS, we are slowly dying,” the prisoners reported, requesting from the Greek government to intervene. At the same time, the Greek Ministry of Justice revealed that the government has already made plans to improve Agios Savvas hospital in Korydallos prison with nursing staff.


Turkey’s Military Back in Business

Ten years into power, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's administration may have to face a familiar foe to stay that way: the military he ousted.

The post Turkey’s Military Back in Business appeared first on The National Herald.


Custom Greek Clothing Store Announces Arrival Of Three Stunning Shimmer Prints

Today, Designer Greek, a leading online Greek apparel store, announced the arrival of a 3 new stunning printed fabrics for their Greek and English sewn-on lettered apparel. The new patterns are eye-catching and distinct, which is what every sorority and ...


Greece Is Getting Its Business Model Right

Anyone who has visited Greece recently will probably have noticed that behind the gloom and doom of the GDP and unemployment statistics, there is a ray of hope. The country is changing. Planes, trains, and ships are on time. The streets of major ...


Olympiakos Beats OFI, 4-0

ATHENS — Marko Scepovic scored a hat trick to lead Olympiakos to a 4-0 victory at OFI in the Greek league Feb. 22. Scepovic, playing in his seventh game this season, saw all his three shots at goal find the net, in the 42nd, 52nd and 88th minutes. Paulo Machado had opened the scoring in […]

The post Olympiakos Beats OFI, 4-0 appeared first on The National Herald.


Greek Public Transport Traffic Down 23.3%

Between fare dodgers and people who can't pay because of a crushing economic crisis, Athens' public transportation system lost 200 million users.

The post Greek Public Transport Traffic Down 23.3% appeared first on The National Herald.


Saudis Keen on Greek Assets

Members of a Saudi Arabia parliamentary committee visiting Athens said businesses in their country are looking at Greek enterprises.

The post Saudis Keen on Greek Assets appeared first on The National Herald.


Billionaire Soros considers investing in European banks: paper

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - George Soros wants to invest in Europe's financial sector, according to a German magazine's interview with the billionaire investor on Sunday.

"I believe in the euro," weekly Der Spiegel quoted him as saying.

"Therefore my investment team is looking forward to make a lot of money soon in Europe by, for example, pumping money in banks which urgently need capital," he added, noting the euro zone needs this kind of private investment right now.

Soros, who founded Soros Fund Management, is one of the hedge fund industry's most closely watched investors.

Soros told Der Spiegel his management team was also considering investing in Greece.

"The economic conditions in the country have improved. The question now is whether one can earn money there on a sustainable basis. If that is possible we will invest," he said.

Soros renewed his criticism against Germany's policies to save the euro, saying the austerity measures Chancellor Angela Merkel had forced upon Europe had aggravated the crisis.

Euro zone financial markets have calmed down in the meantime, but a sustainable recovery still does not exist, he said.

"I fear that the euro zone could experience a long phase of economic stagnation similar to Japan's in the past 25 years," he said.

(Reporting by Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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George Soros: 'I Believe In The Euro' And Am Looking To Invest In EU Banks

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - George Soros wants to invest in Europe's financial sector, according to a German magazine's interview with the billionaire investor on Sunday.

"I believe in the euro," weekly Der Spiegel quoted him as saying.

"Therefore my investment team is looking forward to make a lot of money soon in Europe by, for example, pumping money in banks which urgently need capital," he added, noting the euro zone needs this kind of private investment right now.

Soros, who founded Soros Fund Management, is one of the hedge fund industry's most closely watched investors.

Soros told Der Spiegel his management team was also considering investing in Greece.

"The economic conditions in the country have improved. The question now is whether one can earn money there on a sustainable basis. If that is possible we will invest," he said.

Soros renewed his criticism against Germany's policies to save the euro, saying the austerity measures Chancellor Angela Merkel had forced upon Europe had aggravated the crisis.

Euro zone financial markets have calmed down in the meantime, but a sustainable recovery still does not exist, he said.

"I fear that the euro zone could experience a long phase of economic stagnation similar to Japan's in the past 25 years," he said.

(Reporting by Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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Rain doesn't dampen the mood at Greek Festival

Rain doesn't dampen the mood at Greek FestivalFlorida TodayMELBOURNE — Michael Courey munched on loukoumades Saturday as he took a break from work at a food booth during Saint Katherine's Greek Festival. The event is a family tradition that the 16-year-old has known all his life, and this year he was making ...


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I Met Lucky People: The Story of the Romani Gypsies by Yaron Matras – review

An immaculately researched study of the Roma's history, language and customs challenges our longstanding prejudices

The wider demonisation of Romanian immigrants to the UK after the recent relaxation of border controls has fuelled longstanding negative attitudes to the Roma, in particular, as work-shy thieves and troublemakers. Most seem to assume the two are one and the same, though Roma make up under 5 per cent of Romanians. Stories last year about Roma "stealing" babies in Greece and Ireland proved groundless, but our ready acceptance of them revealed how deep-rooted are the myths we have all inherited – often from children's story books.

Rather than rely on Enid Blyton, Yaron Matras has spent many years getting to know inward-looking Roma communities across Europe, winning their trust and unravelling their history, language and customs from origins in India. He charts the splintering of distinctive groups across the continent, traditionally lumped together as "gypsies" – a term first used because they were thought to come from Egypt.

It is an ancient and rich culture he describes, passed on largely through the oral tradition, hence some of the confusion (for example, Matras shows how most Roma prefer to stay in one place, not roam). But it is also a history of scapegoating and marginalisation of a people considered "other". It cuts both ways. The Roma treasure their distinctive identity, but have also sought a sanctuary away from a hostile world. Too often, he shows, they have become a convenient target, blamed for every ill in society.

The parallels with the treatment of the Jews are clear and noted, but whereas the Holocaust shocked Europe into examining its conscience on anti-Semitism, even the murder of between 100,000 and 1.5 million Roma by the Nazis (depending on which estimate you take) appears to have done little to exorcise our prejudices. Matras's immaculately researched, warm and comprehensive study is a challenge belatedly to make a start.

HistorySocietyRoma, Gypsies and TravellersEuropeRomaniaPeter © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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An August Bank Holiday Lark; Translations; A Taste of Honey – review

New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme; Crucible, Sheffield; Lyttelton, LondonDramatic irony proves deeply affecting as the domestic and the epic meet in the lives of Lancashire folk in August 1914

An almost empty stage: the edge of a moor suggested by fragments of stone wall; an interior indicated by table and chairs. From next to nothing a world appears. August 1914, the north-west of England, an industrial community (livelihoods depending on the textile mills) is preparing its annual summer celebration. A lad paints a banner for the Rushcart festival. The "Squire" of the morris men flies into a fury because the flowers he's been growing to decorate his hat on the big day have been eaten by neighbour JU's escaped chickens – they haven't spoken since the last time she let them get away, three years ago. The Squire's daughter is secretly walking out with JU's son. He is a brilliant but dangerously innovative dancer ("There's no call for artistic expression!"), too scared to ask Squire's permission to court his daughter.

Local gossip and squabbles about whether women should be allowed to join the dance (in smaller and larger senses) are interspersed with snippets of further-off affairs: recruiting bands are playing in nearby towns – "Arthur Barraclough's taken the shilling!" The young men's eyes shine. We know, as the characters do not, that this war will not be An August Bank Holiday Lark (the title is taken from a line in Philip Larkin's poem MCMXIV). Even as the life of the community unfurls vividly before us, it is ripped to shreds: the young men leave to fight, the women take over their work and the world changes irrevocably.

Writer Deborah McAndrew uses the audience's knowledge of events to add texture to this deceptively simple script. It's a potentially dangerous tactic: dramatic irony is cloying if overused. McAndrew avoids this by skilfully interweaving three time strands: the linear time lived by the community on the stage, the vertical time of history and the cyclical time of seasons and rituals. The result is simultaneously domestic and epic: events in a particular place and time become the expression of universal experience of the effects of war. It is deeply affecting.

An August Bank Holiday Lark is McAndrew's fifth piece for Northern Broadsides. It's Broadsides' sixth co-production with the New Vic (set and costumes by their resident designer, Lis Evans). Artistic director Barrie Rutter dreamed up the brief for the piece, which he directs, and in which he delivers a truly outstanding performance as the Squire (fury, grief, joy, desolation – all breathtakingly intense). Resident director Conrad Nelson weaves music and choreography seamlessly into the action. Four of the 12-strong cast have performed with the company before; all sing, dance (complicated morris footwork and patterns), play instruments and portray convincing, textured, multilayered characters (special mentions for Darren Kuppan and Emily Butterfield as the courting couple, and Mark Thomas making his first professional appearance). This is popular ensemble theatre in traditions stretching from Molière to Meyerhold and beyond: vibrant, entertaining and meaningful.

Brian Friel's 1980 Translations also uses the audience's awareness of history, but his format is that of a "thesis play". He sets up an idea and works through it by way of situation and characters (Ben Jonson-ish to Northern Broadsides's Shakespeare-ish). Here, in this Sheffield, English Touring and Rose Kingston theatres co-production, community tradition is revealed not through songs and dances, but in names and language. It's 1833 and the British army is mapping Ireland in order better to administer the country (ie, more efficiently collect taxes). Part of the exercise involves replacing "incomprehensible" Gaelic place names with others easier for anglophone ears and tongues (further rationalisation will establish compulsory schooling, available only in English).

Questions raised by the text – around ideas of colonisation as domination; identity as an individual and collective construct; civilisation as a shifting term depending on viewpoint – stand out clearly in James Grieve's production. The setting is stark. In the background stands a realistic barn/home of rough stone, with wooden stairs clinging to its side; before it stretches the playing area, wide and deep and charcoal grey (Lucy Osborne's design). This is the site of a "hedge school" where "the Master" (a roaring tour de force from Niall Buggy) and his younger son instruct local youths and adults in Homer's Greek, times tables and everything in between. Normal life is interrupted by the arrival of a British captain, his lieutenant and their translator – elder son of the Master – and (offstage) troops.

Grieve plots the movements of his actors with precision. He makes sure that each character strongly conveys the idea they represent (James Northcote's corporal with his Tiggerishly energetic – bounding into the air – naive enthusiasm for all things Irish, and growing attraction for Máire, for instance; Beth Cooke's Máire, expressing her longing for a wider world of possibilities). The device of having Irish-speakers and English-speakers failing to understand one another while all speaking English succeeds beautifully.

What was lacking was the emotional intensity of, for instance, the National Theatre's 2004 touring version, directed by Sean Holmes. Without it, the situation is more interesting than engrossing, the ideas less urgently compelling. This coolly intelligent production promises deepening complexity as the run develops.

The National Theatre's new production of Shelagh Delaney's 1958 hit A Taste of Honey is a puzzle. In the first place: why do it? It was attention-grabbing when Joan Littlewood produced it at Stratford East in 1958: written by a little-educated Salford teenager – and a girl, at that; featuring a flighty, sexually active single mother; interracial, underage sex; pregnancy; intimations of paedophilia, homosexuality and, perhaps most shocking of all, a working-class, northern setting. It's a lively script, but now that TV soaps regularly cover all these issues it seems less satisfying as a stage drama. A revival makes us look back in wonder at the parochialism of the mid-20th century London theatre that found it so extraordinary.

In the second place: if you are going to do it, why do it like this? A production by Jo Combes at Manchester Royal Exchange in 2008 communicated the strengths of the play by precisely unpicking the layers of emotion striating mother and daughter's fraught relationship. Here, under Bijan Sheibani's direction, the emphasis is heavily on comedy; at times, it seems, anything goes, so long as it raises a laugh. This plays oddly against Hildegard Bechtler's set of dreary streets, distant gas tower and squalid sitting room; its close attention to realistic detail contrasts with the artificiality of the actors' cartoon-style movement. Lesley Sharp as the mother is most extreme – hips heading one way, shoulders another, head jabbing on an alternative plane.

This would be terrific in a Restoration comedy; here, it constrains the character. It's as if the director doesn't trust the play to be interesting without extreme exaggeration. And yet there are terrific moments – Sharp, again, in stricken moments showing the horror beneath the mother's mask of self-interested insouciance; the scenes between Kate O'Flynn as her teenage, pregnant daughter and Harry Hepple as the diffident gay friend. These suggest there's more to Sheibani's vision than is currently realised in a production struggling to free itself from an over-ponderous concept.

Star ratings (out of 5)An August Bank Holiday Lark *****Translations ****A Taste of Honey ***

TheatreNational TheatreShelagh DelaneyFirst world warIrelandClare © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Ukraine Parliament Votes To Oust Yanukovich, Sets May Election

* Events move rapidly after 82 killed in Kiev fighting * Changes would bring Ukraine closer to West * Kiev parliament sets early election for May 25 * Opposition leader Tymoshenko freed from prison * Yanukovich gives TV interview from Kharkiv in northeast By Pavel Polityuk and Matt Robinson KIEV, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament voted on Saturday to remove President Viktor Yanukovich, who abandoned his Kiev office to protesters and denounced what he described as a coup after a week of fighting in the streets of the capital. Parliament also freed his arch-nemesis, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who walked free from the hospital where she had been jailed, completing a radical transformation in the former Soviet republic of 46 million people. The apparent toppling of the pro-Russian leader, after bloodshed in Kiev that saw 82 people killed and the centre of the capital transformed into an inferno, looks likely to pull Ukraine away from Moscow's orbit and closer to Europe. It is also a stark reversal for Russian President Vladimir Putin's dream of recreating as much as possible of the Soviet Union in a new Eurasian Union, in which Moscow had counted on Yanukovich to deliver Ukraine as a central member. Members of the Ukrainian parliament, which abandoned Yanukovich after this week's bloodshed, stood, applauded and sang the national anthem after it declared the president constitutionally unable to carry out his duties and set an early election for May 25. "POLITICAL KNOCKOUT" "This is a political knockout," opposition leader and retired world boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko told reporters. Moments later, opposition leader Tymoshenko waved to supporters from a car as she was driven out of the hospital in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, where she has been treated for a bad back while serving a seven-year sentence since 2011. In a television interview which the station said was also conducted in Kharkiv, Yanukovich said he would not resign or leave the country, and called decisions by parliament "illegal". "The events witnessed by our country and the whole world are an example of a coup d'etat," he said, comparing it to the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany in the 1930s. He said he had also come under fire. "My car was shot at. I am not afraid. I feel sorrow for my country," he told UBR television. Interfax news agency said Yanukovich was refused exit from the country by border guards when he tried to fly out from the city of Donetsk. At Yanukovich's abandoned secret estate near Kiev, people flocked to take photographs of his private zoo with ostriches and deer, replica ancient Greek ruins, and lavish waterways and follies. Despite Yanukovich's defiance, the dismantling of his authority seemed all but complete, with his cabinet promising a transition to a new government, the police declaring themselves behind the protesters and his arch-rival Tymoshenko going free. Setting herself immediately on a collision course with Moscow, Tymoshenko said she was sure her country would join the European Union in the near future. Her release was welcomed by Washington. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said "illegal extremist groups are refusing to disarm and in fact are taking Kiev under their control with the connivance of opposition leaders". "DON'T STOP YET" As night fell, 30,000 opposition supporters on Kiev's Independence Square, scene of nearly three months of protests, were in buoyant mood. "People can taste freedom and take off their flak jackets," said Vasily, 40, a builder. There was sadness too as coffins were displayed in front of the crowd and priests said prayers. People crossed themselves in front of makeshift shrines with candles and pictures of the dead. Two captured water cannon trucks were parked in the square like trophies of war. In an emotional speech after she was carried on to a stage in a wheelchair, Tymoshenko told the protesters on the square, known as the Maidan: "You have no right to leave the Maidan ... Don't stop yet." The Ukrainian cabinet said it was committed to a responsible transfer of power. Ukrainian military and police leaders said they would not get involved in any internal conflict. The interior ministry responsible for the police said it served "exclusively the Ukrainian people and fully shares their strong desire for speedy change". Yanukovich, who enraged much of the population by turning away from the European Union to cultivate closer relations with Russia three months ago, made sweeping concessions in a deal brokered by European diplomats on Friday after days of street battles that saw police snipers gun down protesters. But the deal, which called for early elections by the end of the year, was not enough to satisfy pro-Europe demonstrators on Independence Square, who wanted Yanukovich out immediately in the wake of the bloodletting. On Saturday, the speaker of parliament, a Yanukovich loyalist, resigned and parliament elected Oleksander Turchynov, a close ally of Tymoshenko, as his replacement. "Today he left the capital," Klitschko said of Yanukovich at an emergency session of parliament. "Millions of Ukrainians see only one choice - early presidential and parliamentary elections." TYMOSHENKO FREE The release of Tymoshenko transforms Ukraine by giving the opposition a single leader and potential future president, although Klitschko and others also have claims. The 53-year-old, known for her distinctive blonde braid, was jailed by a court under Yanukovich over a natural gas deal with Russia she arranged while serving as premier before he took office. The EU had long considered her a political prisoner, and her freedom was one of the main demands it had for closer ties with Ukraine during years of negotiations that ended when Yanukovich abruptly turned towards Moscow in November. She had served as a leader of the "Orange Revolution" of mass demonstrations which overturned a fraudulent election victory for Yanukovich in 2004, but after a divisive term as prime minister she lost to him in an election in 2010. Underscoring Ukraine's regional divisions, leaders of Russian-speaking eastern provinces loyal to Yanukovich voted to challenge anti-Yanukovich steps by the central parliament. Eastern regional bosses meeting in Kharkiv - the city where Yanukovich had apparently sought refuge - adopted a resolution saying parliament's moves "in such circumstances cause doubts about their ... legitimacy and legality. "Until the constitutional order and lawfulness are restored ... we have decided to take responsibility for safeguarding the constitutional order, legality, citizens' rights and their security on our territories." Kharkiv Governor Mikhaylo Dobkin told the meeting: "We're not preparing to break up the country. We want to preserve it." In Russia, Mikhail Margelov, head of the foreign policy committee of the upper house of parliament, said the Kharkiv meeting proved "that the Maidan and the opposition, let alone the militants, are not the majority of the Ukrainian people". But the head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's lower house, Alexei Pushkov, seemed to acknowledge that Yanukovich's rule was finished. "He fled. Security fled. Staff fled," Pushkov said. "A sad end to the president." (Additional reporting by Matt Robinson in Kiev, Gabriela Baczynska in Moscow and Marcin Goettig in Warsaw; Writing by Peter Graff and Giles Elgood; Editing by Andrew Roche)