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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

AP Interview: Greece buoyed by falling interest

Greece is regaining "lost credibility" shredded after the economic crisis, making a return to the bond markets possible for the first time in four years, the minister in charge of a massive public ...


Mosque Project Divides Opinion in Greece

Novinite.comMosque Project Divides Opinion in GreeceNovinite.comGreece has an "international obligation" to build a mosque in its capital, Athens Mayor has argued, amid opposition and parts of society's criticism at the project. Mayor Giorgos Kaminis made the announcement came after Aris Spiliotopulos, his main ...Greece: Athens mayor candidates split on mosque referendum proposalFox Newsall 39 news articles »


Greek Photographer Wins European Competition

Greek photographer, Nikos Christofakis won the pan-European photo competition on the financial crisis. The winning photo shows a beggar outside a Greek bank. He describes himself as a “street photographer” who doesn’t restrain himself at ...


Greek Fraud Cops Bust Bogus Invoices and Expenses

The Financial Crime Unit (SDOE) is still finding more and more people who are stealing from the state through their profession by


WSJ: Greece to Return to Bond Markets Wednesday

The Wall Street Journal reports that Greece is planning to issue a long-term bond on Wednesday, which will be the first since the


Escargot de Crète: Greece’s Snail-Farming Success Story

If you think snail-farming is a laughing matter then think again. Forget the image of our parents or grandparents hunched outside after


ONE ON ONE: González On European Depression Rather Than Recession

Felipe González remains the longest-serving prime minister of Spain, holding power in Europe from 1982 to 1996. His extensive experience in leadership makes him well placed to critique the way European leaders have dealt with the prolonged economic crisis, the effects of which have been felt everywhere, especially in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Italy. In this ONE ON ONE interview, Mr. Gonzalez argues that there are two fundamental problems facing Europe as it attempts to deal with a crisis that has left millions of young people without jobs. "First, we have made a mistake. We have to say clearly that we have made a mistake," he says. Mr. Gonzalez accuses European leaders of mistaking a debt problem with a liquidity problem, and failing to implement the structural reforms needed to promote growth and employment. "That's why the situation continues to worsen; both in the focus that has been given to the policies to face the crisis, and the structural reforms that are still pending," he says. "That's why we have to change the European policy towards the crisis. It's time to correct it." Mr. Gonzalez explains that the only possible solution to Europe's woes is to create policies that are capable of generating employment. "If there's not this policy of growth and employment, the youth will stop believing in Europe." Mr. Gonzalez warns against "this rampant nationalism that has taken over all of the European political landscape," and urges young people to be politically engaged. "Participate, mobilize, vote," he says, "Europeans should change things together."


European elections in Greece: the search for Ulysses

In Greece, European and local elections will be held together. Many voters are undecided and, according to polls, the new political formation To Potami (The River) is on the rise His name? Nobody. Nobody will be the next Greek prime minister, judging by ...


Greek Museum in Australia to Honor Greek Immigrants

Bingara, a small town in the New England region of New South Wales, Australia — about a seven hour drive away from Sidney and a four hour road drive from Brisbane — now hosts the Roxy Museum. The Roxy Museum, built to give visitors a journey ...


Greece Said to Plan Sale of Five-Year Notes Via Banks Tomorrow

Greece is planning to announce a sale of five-year notes via banks tomorrow, according to two people familiar with the matter, as the country that sparked Europe’s sovereign debt crisis returns from a bond-market exile.


Avramopoulos Hosts AHEPA Delegation

Greece’s Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos hosted an AHEPA Delegation at the Ministry of Defense on April 8. Avramopoulos emphasized to the Delegation that as Greece is now entering a growth trajectory, it is crucial for the Greek state and the Ecumenical Hellenism to coordinate their forces to carry the message and perspective around the world. […]

The post Avramopoulos Hosts AHEPA Delegation appeared first on The National Herald.


Italy's growth rate worse than that of Greece

Ed Adamczyk ROME, April 8 (UPI) -- The IMF reported Tuesday that Italy’s economy is expected to grow by only 0.6 percent in 2014 and 1.1 percent in 2015, a rate worse than that of Greece.


This Is What It Looks Like When Your Economy Collapses

This coming May will mark four years since the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund took control of the Greek economy. Although massively important, it’s an anniversary not many people will want to celebrate.


Greece T-bills Raise €1.3 Billion Amid Bond Rumors

On Tuesday, Greece managed to raise €1.3 billion with a sale of six-month treasury bills, while looking set to return soon to


BBC: Greece Still ‘a European Experiment’

Ahead of the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Greece on Friday, the BBC website features an article on developments since the German head of government’s last visit in 2010. The article mentions that Greek Prime Minister Antonis ...


Greece Plans to Issue Long-Term Bond on Wednesday

Business RecorderGreece Plans to Issue Long-Term Bond on WednesdayWall Street JournalGoogle+. LinkedIn. smaller; Larger. By. Ben Edwards And. Alkman Granitsas. April 8, 2014 9:59 a.m. ET. Greece is planning to issue its first long-term bond since its international bailout on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the matter.UPDATE 1-Greece sells 6-month T-bills at cheapest cost in four yearsReutersPiraeus Bank Chief Sees Profits, Investors Return to GreeceGreek ReporterGreece says drop in short-term borrowing costs favour planned bond issueCape Breton PostMinneapolis Star Tribune -Business Recorderall 33 news articles »


Soak up Greek culture in Tarpon Springs

Soak up Greek culture in Tarpon SpringsPalm Beach PostThe coastal fishing town has one of the highest percentages of Greek Americans in the country. An early settler named it Tarpon Springs for the great fish that lived in the bayou and would often leap out of water. (Turns out the fish were actually ...


Greek 10-year yields dip amid speculation of imminent debt sale

Greek 10-year yields slipped to daily lows on Tuesday, with traders citing a media report that the country is planning to issue its first debt in four years on Wednesday. Ten-year yields fell 2 basis points to 6.14 percent, reversing an earlier rise after Wall Street Journal said in its online publication Athens would issue the bond on Wednesday. Greek bonds slightly outperformed other euro zone ...


Gender Discrimination in the Greek Workplace up 25%

A report by by the Greek Ombudsman on gender equality in labor relations has found a 25 percent increase in gender discrimination in the workplace.


Tehran students protest at Greek Embassy over European Parliament's human rights resolution

TEHRAN, Iran - Scores of hard-line university students have gathered in front of the Greek Embassy in Tehran to protest a human rights resolution passed by the European Parliament.


Police union head: Officers fear speaking out

Tania Kambouri, a German police officer with Greek roots, wrote against a lack of respect shown to her and colleagues by members of Germany's immigrant community. Police union chair Rainer Wendt on why he supports her.


Greek borrowing costs decline ahead of bond issue

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's Finance Ministry says the lower cost and stronger investor appetite for the country's latest short-term debt issue bodes well for a planned return to bond markets in coming months.


Tsipras Blasts “Samaras Gate” Scandal

With Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras trying to downplay a secret videotape that showed a former top aide claiming charges against the


Greece says drop in short-term borrowing costs favour planned 1st bond issue in 4 years

ATHENS, Greece - Greece's Finance Ministry says the lower cost and stronger investor appetite for the country's latest short-term debt issue bodes well for a planned return to bond markets in coming months....


Google Honors Greek National Poet Dionysios Solomos

Google Honors Greek National Poet Dionysios SolomosGreek ReporterGoogle with today's Doodle has decided to honor the great Greek poet, Dionysios Solomos. The biggest search engine of the world did not forget the 216th anniversary since Solomos's birthday and the today's doodle depicts a woman figure upon the sea ...


Greek rebound is astonishing

Greek rebound is astonishingReuters UK (blog)Greece is undergoing an astonishing financial rebound. Two years ago, the country looked like it was set for a messy default and exit from the euro. Now it is on the verge of returning to the bond market with the issue of 2 billion euros of five-year ...Hugo Dixon: Greek rebound is astonishingBreakingviewsall 2 news articles »


Athens Mayor Backs Mosque

Athens' center-left mayor Giorgos Kamanis says Greece has an "international obligation" to build a mosque in the capital.

The post Athens Mayor Backs Mosque appeared first on The National Herald.


Greek T-Bill Sale Eyed for Bond-Issuance Signal

KathimeriniGreek T-Bill Sale Eyed for Bond-Issuance SignalWall Street JournalGreece sold €1.3 billion ($1.8 billion) in its regular short-term debt auction Tuesday, potentially laying the groundwork for a return to the longer-term bond market for the first time since it turned to international lenders for a rescue package in ...JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank Said to Manage Potential Greek Bond SaleBloombergGreek crisis legacy tests Samaras bidding to end market exileKathimeriniJ.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank Said to Run Greek BondNASDAQGlobalPost -ANSAmedall 59 news articles »


WORLD CUP 2014: Australia coach Postecoglou aiming to bring attacking football to World Cup

by  Associated Press Australia coach looking for positive play at WCup by JOHN PYE, Associated Press - 8 April 2014 05:19-04:00

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Ange Postecoglou cherishes memories of watching the 1974 World Cup on a small black-and-white TV with his dad, recalling how that shared experience when he was 9 helped transform him into an ardent Australia supporter.

Watching those late-night games was rare and precious father-son time in a migrant family struggling to come to grips with differences between their old life in Greece and living in Melbourne.

"It seemed the whole world was in bed and it was just my dad and I watching the Socceroos take on the world," Postecoglou recently wrote. "We rode every goal, miss and emotion. For me it seemed the greatest time ever."

That's why when other candidates may have perceived the Australian coaching job as something of a poison chalice, replacing a high-profile foreign coach after back-to-back 6-0 losses to Brazil and France only nine months ahead of the World Cup, Postecoglou saw it as a fantastic opportunity.

Australia has qualified for three consecutive World Cups, but the expectations have been diminishing with each trip. In Brazil, the Socceroos are grouped with both finalists from 2010 — defending champion Spain and the Netherlands — and Chile. Most critics don't expect them to earn a point.

"It's a chance for us to measure ourselves," Postecoglou told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "From my point of view, we're going to be very positive."

That's Postecoglou's way, and it's his interpretation of the Australian way.

"I know the Australian sporting culture," said Postecoglou, who played for the Socceroos, is a former national youth team manager and the most successful coach in the domestic A-League. "Having grown up in this country, I've got an awareness of what the public expects from its national teams. Our players will respond to that.

"We want all our teams to be attacking teams, and our players like to play that way," he added. "That's been my philosophy — to play attacking, be aggressive."

That kind of positivity was evident as an inexperienced Australia lineup raced to a 3-0 halftime lead in a recent friendly against Ecuador in London. The downside was the match ended in a 4-3 loss, with Australia down a man after goalkeeper Mitch Langerak was red-carded for a crude tackle in the second half.

"The philosophy I want to take moving forward — which I believe we need to take — is absolutely crystal-clear now," he said.

Postecoglou won two national championships with South Melbourne Hellas as a player, then guided the club to two titles as coach. After the national league was scrapped and recreated as the A-League, he won back-to-back titles with the Brisbane Roar before returning to Melbourne to coach the Victory. He wasn't there long before the Socceroos job became available when Holger Osieck was fired in October.

He watched Australia's "Golden Age" from the sidelines, inside the stadium when Australia qualified for the 2006 World Cup — its first since 1974 — on penalties in a shootout against two-time World Cup champion Uruguay. He watched the Socceroos' progress to the second round on TV, unable to go to Germany due to work commitments. Similar story in 2010, where Australia had a disappointing showing after an early thumping from Germany, when the defensive game plan was heavily criticized as being incongruous with Australia's style.

Very early in his tenure, Postecoglou said that the 2018 World Cup was more likely to be where Australia is again a genuine contender to reach the knockout stages. He thinks being the first home-grown coach in almost a decade might buy him some more time and patience with the Australian public, but he's not banking on it.

"I'm going to get measured like everyone else, local or foreign — success on the field is paramount," he said. "I want to build a successful team as quickly as possible. I can't control the general mood of the public, but if we play in the way I aspire us to play, the public will get behind the team."

News Topics: Sports, 2014 FIFA World Cup, FIFA World Cup, 2018 FIFA World Cup, Men's soccer, International soccer, Soccer, Events, Men's sports

People, Places and Companies: Australia, Melbourne, Oceania

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


European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme


The European Commission announced the winners of this year's European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme Awards in Hannover, Germany, last night. The six winning organisations were selected by an independent jury of environmental technology and eco-innovation experts. The winners all apply innovative solutions as a way of improving their environmental performance, demonstrating how important innovation is in the transition towards a circular and resource-efficient economy.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "It is a real pleasure to see the levels of creativity, excellence and engagement shown by the entries for the EMAS Awards 2014. Eco-innovation not only brings environmental benefits, but also makes sound business sense. So I am proud to congratulate all the EMAS Award winners for their outstanding achievements. Keep up the great work!"

This year's winners, selected from 29 entries, are VAS. & EK. KOTTARIDI G.P. (Greece), HR Björkmans Entrémattor AB (Sweden), Sächsische Bildungsgesellschaft Dresden mbH and Umweltbundesamt (Germany), Voestalpine VAE + Weichensysteme + HYTRONICS GmbH (Austria), Aeropuerto de Menorca Aena-Aeropuertos S.A. (Spain).

Private sector winners and their achievements

Micro-organisations: VAS. & EK. KOTTARIDI G.P. (Greece) produce barbecue briquettes made from Greek olive pits. This EU-patented product is a renewable source of energy and free of chemical additives. The briquettes are the first green product of their kind, produced in an innovative and environmentally-friendly manner from waste material.

Small organisations: HR Björkmans Entrémattor AB (Sweden), a pioneer in the floor-mat rental and laundry market, has developed an innovative mat washing system. The closed system, with its low washing temperatures, special detergents and a water reuse rate of up to 98%, brings sizeable energy and water savings, and significant reductions in both the volume of water used, as well as waste-water generated.

Medium-sized organisations: Sächsische Bildungsgesellschaft Dresden mbH (Germany) uses EMAS tofamiliarise future skilled workers in the chemical and waste disposal industries with corporate sustainability. SBG’s vocational teaching approach encourages students to transfer and reproduce EMAS skills and values, giving them tools to develop their own ideas for improving environmental performance. Students can then incorporate EMAS principles into their future jobs, spreading knowledge about environmental management to different companies.

Large organisations: voestalpine VAE + Weichensysteme + HYTRONICS GmbH (Austria) apply a holistic life cycle approach to engineering and producing railway turnouts (points). VAE has optimised its use of materials and logistics, as well as the recycling of turnouts. Other best-practice initiatives include the adoption of a CO2-neutral energy policy and an insistence that the companies' affiliates adhere to global Human Systems Engineering standards.

Public sector winners and their achievements

Small organisations: Aeropuerto de Menorca (Spain), managed by Aena Aeropuertos SA, has significantly reduced its water consumption by reusing waste water treated in a membrane bioreactor plant. The airport has also significantly reduced electricity use through an automatic climate and lighting control system.

Large organisations: Umweltbundesamt (Germany), the German federal scientific agency for the environment, built the first zero-energy public building in Germany, ‘Haus 2019’, in 2013. The Haus' shell is airtight and it gets its electricity from renewable sources, including photovoltaïcs and a heat pump that obtains energy from pumped groundwater. Haus 2019 fulfils the EU legal requirements on energy efficiency for public buildings six years in advance, and should encourage others to follow.


Greek Presidency marks International Roma Day


On the occasion of the International Roma Day on 8 April, Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, Charalampos Athanasiou underlined the EU’s commitment to the protection of Roma rights.

“The Greek Presidency affirms its determination to prevent and combat discrimination against Roma in all its forms and to facilitate the inclusion of Roma in the European societies”, Minister Athanasiou said.

Member States and the EU work together to promote the social inclusion and integration of Roma communities. As Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner, stated a few days ago: “A wind of change is blowing”.

“The issue of Roma integration is now on the radar of most Member States. National governments are working to advance the development and to fully implement the National Roma Integration Strategies”, the Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Hellenic Interministerial Committee on Roma issues, Ioannis Michelakis, stressed at the Roma summit in Brussels on 4 April.

The European Union and its Member States have adopted a strong legislative framework and specific policies and measures to combat discrimination. Such legislation should be fully implemented in all Member States.

Member States have to remain vigilant. “Crimes against Roma must be effectively and promptly investigated and perpetrators prosecuted. If there is a discriminatory motive behind an attack, it has to be identified and unmasked”, Minister Athanasiou said.

Protecting fundamental rights is a key priority for the Hellenic Presidency. “Democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights are non-negotiable principles and values of the EU”, Minister Athanasiou concluded.


Greece sells 1.3 bln euros of 6-month T-bills, yield falls

Greece sold 1.3 billion euros ($1.79 billion) of six-month treasury bills on Tuesday to roll over a maturing issue, the country's debt agency PDMA said. The T-bills were priced to yield 3.01 percent, down from 3.60 percent in a March auction.


UK recovery picks up pace, as IMF unveils new World Economic Outlook

International Monetary Fund publishes new forecasts later today, outlining the state of the world economy and the challenges ahead - a year after claiming Britain was 'playing with fire'.

Coming up, UK industrial production data, as service sector exports hit record high.

Sports Direct shares drop 6% after Ashley cuts stake

9.43am BST

Just in: Britain's industrial sector has recorded its strongest rise in industrial output since last summer, suggesting the UK recovery is gathering pace.

Manufacturing output surged by 1.0% month-on-month in February, the biggest rise since September 2013. And the third monthly rise in a row.

cracker of a UK manufacturing fig. up 1% m/m & 3.8 y/y...

9.28am BST

Greece's cleaning workers, laid off as part of government cutbacks, have become one of the emblems of public opposition to its austerity programme. Last November they famously forcing Troika officials to flee through a fire escape.

They're back in action this morning, gathering outside the finance ministry to prepare for a meeting with finance minister Yannis Stournaras.

The laid off cleaners waving black flags at FinMin ahead of meeting with Stournaras at 12:30 @dromografos #rbnews

Dock workers on 24h #strike today across #Greece to protest against planned privatizations. Demo at 16:00 in Athens #rbnews

Journalists & technical staff on 24h strike across media outlets. ESIEA union to stage a protest at 12:00 in Athens #rbnews #greece

9.13am BST

Some UK technology and high-growth stocks are coming under fresh pressure this morning, as fears of a tech stock rout linger.

Internet fashion retailer ASOS has dropped another 5%, and Ocado are down 3.3%. Semiconductor maker CSR has dropped 2.5%, but its larger rival ARM is the biggest riser on the FTSE 100, up 1.8%

European equities pare early session gains to trade lower Tuesday, pressured by fresh geopolitical drama together with declines on Wall Street overnight where tech stocks continued their descent amid worries about inflated valuations Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all registered fat losses.

The surprise is that its taken investors so long to catch onto the fact that a lot of high growth stocks are trading on stupidly high valuations as companies like Twitter, Facebook, Pandora and Zynga continue to get pummelled.

8.50am BST

In the financial markets, shares in UK retailer Sports Direct have tumbled 6% in early trading following the news yesterday afternoon that founder Mike Ashley had ditched £200m of shares.

The latest share sale by Mike Ashley will certainly improve liquidity in Sports Direct, given the limited free float, but it will be interesting to see what sort of institutional appetite there is for the stock in the 850p-870p range, after the recent spike in the share price over 900p and the shenanigans over Mad Mikes dealings in House of Fraser

8.31am BST

What a difference a year makes. Back in April 2013, the International Monetary Fund grabbed the headlines by warning that the UK was 'playing with fire', urging chancellor George Osborne to change his fiscal plans.

Osborne was stung by the criticism from IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard. But ever since, the UK economy has been on an upward path. Britain's independent Office for Budget Responsibility raised its growth forecasts last month; economists say the IMF has every reason to do the same later today.

8.18am BST

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the financial markets, the world economy, the eurozone and business.

A big day for economic data lies ahead, as International Monetary Fund gathers with economists and journalists in Washington DC to announces its new World Economic Outlook.

The quarterly poll of 8,000 firms by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) reports that service exports are at an all-time high and many key manufacturing balances are also at record levels, showing that growth is strengthening in the short term.

However the survey also warned the recovery must become more balanced in the months ahead as it is still too reliant on consumer spending.

Continue reading...


Piraeus Bank Chief Sees Profits, Investors Return to Greece

The prospect that Greece may be emerging from the darkness of a harsh economic and deep recession is seeing international investors putting money back into still-troubled Greek banks in expectations they will see profits, Piraeus Bank Chairman M ...


Rush: A non-Greek perspective

Rush: A non-Greek perspectiveThe Stanford DailyAs someone writing from a non-Greek perspective, I can honestly say that I'm extremely glad to have rushed and perfectly happy to be unaffiliated. Contact McKenzie Andrews at andrews7 “at” Greek life Rush Sororities sorority rush 2014-04-08.and more »


Greece Returns to Favor With Investors But Cleaners Protest

The fault line in Greece's unprecedented return to favor with investors runs the length of 5-7 Nikis Street in Athens. "They picked on us because they thought we wouldn't speak up," said Dimitra Manoli, 52, a mother of two who made 500 euros ($687) a month cleaning the tax office in the port of Volos, 320 kilometers from Athens. "The burden sharing has been extremely uneven," said Jens Bastian ...


Greece to Meet Tax-Income Targets for 2014, Revenue Chief Says

Greece to Meet Tax-Income Targets for 2014, Revenue Chief SaysBloombergGreece will overcome a first-quarter shortfall in tax income and meet its full-year targets as the economy recovers, said the official in charge of the country's public revenue. A tax-revenue hole of 200 million euros ($275 million) to 300 million ...


Hazing isn't inevitable in Greek life

Hazing isn't inevitable in Greek lifeDaily Illini"We do not joke about hazing” was one of the first things I was told when I joined my sorority. Upon hearing this I was immediately overcome with relief, as I realized that one of my worst fears would not become a reality during my time in the ...and more »


AGAPW Celebrates Woman of the Year

NEW YORK – The Association of Greek American Professional Women (AGAPW) celebrated Women’s History Month with their annual “Greek American Woman of the Year” Award Gala Honoring Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis in Midtown Manhattan on March 27. The guests were welcomed by AGAPW founder and president Olga Alexakos, who expressed great pride in presenting Tsakopoulos […]

The post AGAPW Celebrates Woman of the Year appeared first on The National Herald.


Are Greek elections harmful to the environment?

Solar energy producers freeze in fear of new Greek policiesGreece is a country of indescribable beauty. Foreigners may think that it is only blessed with beautiful islands,... US Midterms: President Obama’s green agenda at risk if Republicans ...


The Latino Enigma: Do Politicians Even Get Them?

In this week’s AGORA, Constantinos E. Scaros maintains that politicians are wrong to think Latinos are in favor of immigration amnesty. Dan Georgakas looks at it from a different perspective – that even illegal immigration is all part of a process that,  in the end, will work out ok – as it did with Greek-Americans. […]

The post The Latino Enigma: Do Politicians Even Get Them? appeared first on The National Herald.


“Have it Your Way” at…Lukumades

It’s safe to say that most of us have tried loukoumades – that deep fried, honey-drizzled and cinnamon topped dumpling, crisp on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside. In fact, in the U.S., loukoumades are particularly popular at Greek festivals and celebrations across the country. A young group of fellow Greeks in Greece […]

The post “Have it Your Way” at…Lukumades appeared first on The National Herald.


Greek Week kicks off with alumnus speech at Breslin Center

MSU’s Greek Week began Monday night and will continue through the week with dance-centered competitions.


Greece prayer case: Advocate Ellery Schempp visits

Greece prayer case: Advocate Ellery Schempp visitsRochester Democrat and ChronicleIn an interview Monday afternoon, he expressed concern that the principle enshrined in the 1963 Supreme Court case has been coming under attack in recent years, citing as examples the town of Greece's pending case in the Supreme Court as well as the ...and more »


Getty Museum returns ancient manuscript to Greece

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles says it is returning a 12th century Byzantine Illuminated New Testament manuscript to a monastery in Greece.


U.S. Ambassador To Spain: If She Runs, 'Hillary Clinton Will Be The Next U.S. President'

You don't often hear a traditionally educated diplomat making hard bets on politics. But James Costos, the U.S. Ambassador to Spain who was appointed six months ago, represents another type of diplomacy. By appointing Costos, President Obama followed Reagan's tradition of “rewarding” big donors with foreign posts. It were Costos' friendship with the president and his financial contributions to Obama’s reelection campaign that prompted Obama to appoint the businessman and former president at HBO. Costos, therefore, had no qualms about backing Hillary Clinton as a possible Democratic candidate and Obama successor in 2016. “If she decides to run, I have no doubts that Hillary Clinton will be the next U.S. president.” The ambassador has just started to tweet -- @JamesCostos, he has 317 followers -- and, since he came to Madrid, he posts both personal and official images of his new life in Spain on Instagram as @TheSerranoPost (e.g., his dog Greco, adopted in a shelter). What could sound like heresy for top-notch diplomats Costos considers an example of modern diplomacy, a concept he is an ardent supporter of. “I’m an ambassador 24 hours a day. The president asked this when he offered me the post: go out in the streets, travel, talk to the Spaniards, listen to them.” In only six months, Ambassador Costos has already seen two important diplomatic milestones: he was recalled for consultations when the NSA’s massive wiretapping in Spain was revealed, and he got Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy the first interview with Obama in Washington. Spanish diplomatic sources acknowledged that Costos plaid a crucial role in finally opening the doors of the Oval Office to the Spanish prime minister, more than two years after his inauguration. That is precisely one of Costos’ secret weapons: “I have a direct line with Obama. It’s a crucial link. And I can put Spain in the spotlight,” he assures HuffPost Spain in one of the renovated rooms of the embassy. A direct line with the East Wing, the private area where the Obama family lives and which his partner, Michael Smith, redecorated at the request of the first lady Michelle. It is where they had dinner upon their last visit; two weeks after the presidential couple had visited their mansion in Mirage Valley, California. This is the same mansion where the ambassador hosted Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia during their official trip to the U.S. last November. “Prince Felipe is the best ambassador for Spain: I have already told Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, minister of foreign affairs, that the prince should travel to the U.S. more often. And I would also love Princess Letizia to come and speak to school children, especially in California, where it’s important for Hispanic children to know the impact of their mother tongue.” Costos is taking Spanish classes -- only conversational, no grammar -- and says that he already understands much more than he speaks. About the the meeting between Obama and Rajoy, Costos says: “It was a clear signal for Americans that Spain had overcome the crisis, that’s it’s headed in the right direction. And President Obama wanted to congratulate Rajoy for his reforms while warning of the great challenge poised by high unemployment and the lack of credit access to secure the recovery.” Costos adds that he has noticed the growing interest of American investors in Spain. And his role in Madrid is precisely to turn this interest and opportunities into reality. “This is the moment,” he says. I ask him if there is any concern surrounding Catalonia’s independence movement and whether investment fund managers, often averse to to political uncertainty, have asked him about it. “It’s an internal affair. And it’s the companies that have to make strategic decisions. But I am convinced that I think it is the right moment, and I’m optimistic.” Just like there’s no way to gauge Costos' position on Catalonia -- he met Artur Mas in December, and he attended Barcelona’s Food Fair this week -- the ambassador also won’t comment on Judge Pedraz’s decision to keep proceedings open in the death of Tele 5 cameraman José Couso, where three U.S. soldiers are being tried. I ask him whether he’s aware that this is one of those open wounds that feed anti-American feelings within parts of the population. “I know that feeling exists, but I have never felt it in my travels in Spain, neither as an ambassador nor before.” Costos also doesn't want to risk new clashes if Edward Snowden, as warned, publishes more documents on U.S. spying on its allies. “The fact is that we share information to protect the security of both countries. We have met and discussed it, and we’ll continue to do it, for we have a sound relationship.” Beyond its soundness, military collaboration between Spain and the U.S. are going through some good times. The USS Donald Cook, the first of four destroyers to be deployed in Rota with the Aegis combat system (part of NATO’s antimissile shield) is already in the base. In addition, the U.S. got permission to extend and increase the Rapid Reaction Force -- 500 marines -- stationed at the Morón air force base. “After Benghazi [the Libyan crisis], the president needed a place where our marines could be available to act in North Africa. And it has been vital, strategic, for us that Spain has accepted to have that Rapid Intervention force in Morón,” says Costos. He reiterates that his government places special value in Madrid’s support in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis: “The government has been very clear about it, and we value especially that a strategic partner such as Spain is on our side.” Evidence of that harmonious relationship was Rajoy’s visit to the military cemetery in Arlington to pay tribute to fallen soldiers before his interview in the White House. “President Obama was moved by that gesture,” he says. Costos, the son of a marine who served in Camp David under president Truman, may have been moved, as well. Costos has also increased cultural exchanges, attracting more sponsors for Fulbright scholarships or turning the embassy into an art gallery, with a collection of almost 60 American paintings and art pieces that the ambassador’s partner is gathering; or promoting student workshops to prevent bullying, especially for gay children. The ambassador knows how hard it is for kids who feel different to come out of the closet -- he didn’t tell his family that he was gay until he was 25 -- which is why he tries to vindicate gay leaders so that they may be role models. The designation of Costos and of the ambassadors of Denmark, Australia, the Dominican Republic and the OSCE has been Obama’s most striking move in support of the gay community. “I am not a career ambassador, but I feel that all I have done throughout my life has prepared me for this moment,” he says before rushing to his desk, which stands under a painting by Catalan painter Antoni Tàpies. An intense agenda awaits him, including his first trip to Andorra; he’s also the ambassador to the Princedom. When the ambassador and his partner decided to adopt a dog -- they have three others, all of them rescued from the streets -- they contacted the National Association of Friends of Animals (ANAA) and paid them a visit. They were interested in greyhounds and podencos, which are particularly abused in Spain. They immediately liked Greco, the last of his litter to be adopted. Greco is a mutt who was born in the street. His mother had been abandoned and then rescued with her litter in a road near a village in Ciudad Real. He was named him in honor of Costos' background (his four grandparents migrated to the U.S. from Greece) and and of the the Spanish painter whose 400-year death anniversary is commemorated this year. Greco is less than one-year old. This post was translated from Spanish and was published on HuffPost Spain.


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