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

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jimmy the Greek restaurant closes in Stafford County

Fredericksburg.comJimmy the Greek restaurant closes in Stafford CountyFredericksburg.comJimmy the Greek, a Stafford County restaurant that served Greek and American fare since 2006, closed its doors over the weekend. Owner Demetrios Zotos, who has been involved in other area restaurants since 1980, said keeping the business open with ...


First Heatwave of Summer to Hit Greece in the Next Days

Greek ReporterFirst Heatwave of Summer to Hit Greece in the Next DaysGreek ReporterThe first heatwave of the summer to hit Greece is expected within the next few days country with temperatures reaching 39C. The heatwave will initially hit Western Greece with temperatures escalating to 34C. On Wednesday temperatures will reach 36C-38C ...


Greece makes record heroin bust, arrests tanker crew

KathimeriniGreece makes record heroin bust, arrests tanker crewReuters UKATHENS (Reuters) - Greek coastguards said on Sunday they had discovered a record two-tonne haul of heroin and arrested 11 crew from a Togo-flagged tanker that they suspected had brought it into the country. Officers working with U.S Drug Enforcement ...Second massive heroin seizure made in Greece in just over a weekKathimeriniTwo tonnes of heroin seized in Greece3News NZGreece makes huge seizure of heroinThe Japan TimesGreek Reporterall 86 news articles »


Feds look at Greece warehouse to house border kids

Feds look at Greece warehouse to house border kidsRochester Democrat and ChronicleShould warehouse space in Greece be used as temporary shelter for minors who entered the country illegally? Federal officials are looking at space at 1600 Lexington Ave., in the Lexington Commerce Center, for just that purpose, according to Greece ...


Golden Dawn Nazi Salute Pics Surface

Leaders of the extremist Golden Dawn party who have denied being Nazis, have shown up in photos giving a Nazi salute in front of a Swastika flag.

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The 7 Biggest Buts In History

As you've hopefully learned by now, popular stories are often taller than they are truthful. And tall tales sometimes contain big buts. That missing context, the needed assterisk, makes the legend far less impressive. So let's get to the bottom of this. If you like to know the truth, if you like big buts and don't like lies, then read on.1. Maria sang with the von Trapp children...BUT she didn't actually introduce them to the sound of music. It shouldn't be too surprising that a movie that turned World War II into a musical was historically inaccurate, but unfortunately it's a bit worse than you probably thought. The whole crux of "The Sound of Music" is that the new governess to the von Trapp family, Maria Kutschera in real life and Maria Rainer in the movie, teaches the reluctant children about the wonders of music, challenging their humorless father. In fact, the von Trapp family was already very musical due to their "doting" father who would often play the violin, accordion and mandolin, and their mother who played the piano and violin before her death. Apparently, the real life Kutschera's nun-esque goodness was also an exaggeration, as she was prone to swings of rage. On top of this, Kutschera was only tutor to one of the von Trapp children who was overcoming scarlet fever -- oh, and that whole over-the-mountain Nazi escape thing never happened. Kutschera did teach the children how to sing madrigals, however.2. Ben Franklin harnessed electricity with a kite in a thunderstorm... BUT he didn't actually hold the kite or stand outside. Anybody who's taken a U.S. history class has an image of a daredevil Benjamin Franklin taking a kite with a key into a thunderstorm to harness the mysterious power of electricity. That's not exactly how it went down. Accounts of the event all differ slightly, as Franklin only made a passing reference to the experiment in his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, at the time and later told the story only slightly more vividly to his friend Joseph Priestley in Priestley's book, History. What most likely happened: With the help of his 21-year-old son William, Franklin probably tied the kite and key to a stake outside and then went to a nearby barn to avoid getting wet in the storm. To control the kite, Franklin held on to a dry silk ribbon which he had attached to the kite and would prevent any chance of getting electrocuted himself. It's also probably worth noting that Franklin was not the first to conduct this experiment, although it's unclear whether he knew about the previous attempts.3. The CIA successfully saved six Americans in the Argo operation... BUT Canada actually did most of the work. If you watched Ben Affleck's Academy Award-winning version of this event, you have a pretty skewed idea of how this went down. According to Jimmy Carter, the president at the time, the Canadians were way more responsible than the CIA in this operation. Talking with Piers Morgan after the film came out, Carter said, "90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian. The movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA." And instead of Affleck's character, Tony Mendez, being the hero, Carter said, "The main hero, in my opinion, was Ken Taylor who was the Canadian ambassador who orchestrated the entire process." The operation was originally called "The Canadian Caper." But in the movie, the Canadians' involvement is made out to be a mere boost to the Americans' dazzling ingenuity. Oh Canada, how could you ever forgive us?4. Armed with just a sling, David the shepherd boy conquered the giant Goliath...BUT that sling had the same fire power as a handgun. There are limited historical accounts and archaeological evidence to verify what truly happened in the fight between David and Goliath, but the story as we know it could use a clarification as big as a gargantuan Philistine. Goliath was a heavily armored, slow-moving giant. David, not just a shepherd boy but perhaps also an official shield-bearer to King Saul, chose no armor and was equipped with a sling... with roughly the same power as a handgun, according to Malcolm Gladwell's latest book. Just as you don't bring a knife to a gunfight, you don't bring a heavy bronze weapon to a sling fight. On top of all this, Goliath may not have even been that tall and may have been partially blind. Evidence of how this brief fight went down is scarce, but if Gladwell is right, you can imagine David would've been able to get an easy shot at the lumbering Goliath's oversized head.5. Only 300 Spartans faced the Persians... BUT those Spartan soldiers were accompanied by thousands more Greek soldiers. The famed Battle of Thermopylae, in which an army of Greeks defended their city-states from a Persian invasion, is believed to have pitted roughly 100,000-150,000 Persian troops against 6,000-8,000 Greek soldiers, 300 of which were Spartan soldiers in the royal guard, accompanied by an additional unknown number of Spartan slaves. Led by King Leonidas of Sparta, the Greeks fought bravely to keep the Persian forces at bay in the coastal pass of Thermopylae. But when their battle position was compromised, Leonidas sent most of the surviving soldiers home to prevent a massive slaughter. About 300 Spartans stayed to fight... along with 1,500 other Greek soldiers and most likely the Spartan slaves, too. Were these still ridiculous battle odds? Sure. Were the Greeks essentially destined to die, as Leonidas' oracle predicted? Absolutely. But the popular 2006 movie version makes it seem as though the 300 Spartans only fought alongside a few dozen Greek soldiers against a million CGI Persians.6. Betsy Ross is known for creating the first American flag... BUT hers wasn't really the first, and she probably didn't make it on her own. Betsy Ross may have been a seamstress who helped create the American flag, but her role was probably far more minimal than the legend makes it seem. The story of Ross' involvement wasn't developed until years after her death and came only from her family, who said she used to speak of the visit from George Washington in her upholstery shop often. If that legend is to be believed, Ross' main contribution to the flag was to take Washington's design with six-point stars and change them to the more easily produced five-point versions, according to Professor Marla Miller of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Many seamstresses were approached to work on the flag, and it's unclear who contributed what, although the original design may have come from Francis Hopkinson, a New Jersey representative to the Continental Congress. Apparently, the myth of Ross is "as credible as Parson Weems' fable about little George Washington cutting down the cherry tree."7. We think of Thanksgiving as a peaceful celebration between Pilgrims and Native Americans... BUT an early "thanksgiving" actually marked a brutal Native American massacre. You were probably taught that Thanksgiving commemorates the peaceful joining of the Pilgrims and Native Americans... but that's not the only "Thanksgiving" the early Americans took part in. The original autumn feast held by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony in 1621 celebrated the colony's first harvest with the Wampanoag. But another "thanksgiving" was less pleasant: 16 years after the Pilgrims broke bread in Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop is said to have declared a day of thanksgiving after the bloody victory of the Puritans over the Pequots. According to Francis J. Bremer in "John Winthrop: America's Forgotten Founding Father," after the English colonists successfully attacked and burned down Mystic Fort, killing more than 500 Native Americans, Winthrop "appointed a day of thanksgiving" complete with a feast for those who participated in the battle. Celebrating a "day of thanksgiving" wasn't something new -- Winthrop declared others for other happy occasions, such as when the Puritans survived the first brutal New England winter. Nonetheless, celebrating the murder of Native Americans is a bad look. They might have even been -- dare we say it -- assholes.Bonus: The name might be Sir Mix-a-Lot... BUT he has definitely never been knighted. You hopefully knew this one.


All quiet on the Welsh front: reliving the horrors of Mametz

It was a five-day fight for a square mile of Somme trees that left thousands dead. Now National Theatre Wales are recreating the Battle of Mametz Wood on a sheep farm

It was the sound of the gunfire that caught you, they said: something between a muffled rumble and a roar, felt in the stomach long before you got anywhere near battle. After a while, you got used to it. Only when it stopped did you start to worry.

The last place you'd expect to hear the guns of the western front would be on a sheep farm in Monmouthshire. But that's reckoning without National Theatre Wales. Having summoned to life such unlikely events as a re-enactment of Christ's Passion in industrial Port Talbot and ancient Greek tragedy in the Brecon Beacons, this summer NTW is attempting an even more audacious challenge: making site-specific theatre from the first world war.

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SYRIZA’s Central Committee Adopts Alexis Tsipras’ Strategy

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras addressed the main opposition party’s Central Committee raising two dilemmas and calling on its members to decide whether they will let the government get worn out or try to cause early polls by preventing the election of a new Greek President of the Republic . Earlier in the day, SYRIZA’s Central Committee concluded its deliberations and approved by majority the draft policy plan, which was in the line of Tsipras’ strategy. Tsipras said that SYRIZA’s political planning should be determined within weeks or even days, as unexpected developments in Greece may occur at any time. The party has two strategic options in front of it, Tsipras said. One is to let the government wear out, which could take until 2016 and have a catastrophic impact on the country. The second is to try and force early elections within 2014, an option that was supported by Tsipras himself. On the President of the Republic’s elections and SYRIZA’s tactics, Tsipras said this was not a technical issue but mainly a political one. He added that preventing the election of the President is an important decision that cannot be done on a central and institutional level but based on political and other initiatives. In this context, SYRIZA will take initiatives according to its policy commitments, he said, citing as an example the gathering of signatures on the submarines issue.


Remembering Andreas Papandreou, 18 Years Later

It was eighteen years ago, on June 23, 1996 that Andreas Papandreou, the man who founded a movement – the PASOK Socialists – and set in motion a runaway patronage scheme that bankrupted Greece, passed away. But he hasn’t been forgotten. Papandreou, an American-educated politician who turned on the United States – at least publicly – and returned to Greece to try to build a dynasty, passed away from a stroke. His party would rival its rivals, the New Democracy Conservatives, to control Greece, but in the end evaporate after agreeing to rule with them. His death caused widespread sorrow across the country while thousands of people attended his funeral to say goodbye to a provocative man who resurrected many Greeks – giving big pension hikes that ironically are now dismantled with the consent of PASOK. He fought with the U.S. over NATO and American miltary bases while putting on a show of defying the United States to curry favor with voters and found himself within a single court vote of being ousted from office over a bank scandal in which it was charged he stole countless millions. Andreas Papandreou was born in February 5, 1919. He was the son of George Papandreou, who had also served as Prime Minister, and Sofia Mineyko daughter of the Polish aristocrat, Zygmunt Mineyko. He served two terms as Prime Minister of Greece, from October 21, 1981, to July 2, 1989, and from October 13, 1993 to January 22, 1996. A poll conducted by Kathimerini newspaper in 2007 showed that the first four years of Papandreou’s government after Metapolitefsi (fall of the junta) were voted as the best government Greece ever had as his party started a hiring binge that went on for decades. In a poll for the Real News newspaper in 2010 and the research company ALCO in 2013, he was voted as the best prime minister since 1974. The achievements of his governments include the official recognition of the Greek Resistance against the Axis, the establishment of the National Health System and the Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP), the passage of Law 1264/1982 which secured the right to strike and greatly improved the rights of workers. The Constitutional amendment of 1985–1986 strengthened parliamentarism and reduced the powers of the President of the Hellenic Republic, which today’s New Democracy-PASOK administration wants to bring back.  His governments introduced many progressive reforms such as the legalization of civil marriage, allowing voting for 18-year-olds, introduction of the simple monotonic orthography (1982), changes in family law such as the establishment of gender equality and letting married women keep their family names and the prohibition of anachronistic institution of dowry. During his terms he enhaced the Greek Armed Forces, recognized the genocide of Greeks of Pontos and granted permission to the refugees of the Greek Civil War to return to Greece. Apart from being a politician he was also a “star” as the media were very interested in his life. His first wife was Christina Rasia, a Greek American psychologist. After their divorce he married an American, Margarita Chant, with whom he had four children. His last wife, a stewardess, was Dimitra Liani. Papandreou also had, with Swedish actress and TV presenter Ragna Nyblom a daughter out of wedlock, Emilia Nyblom. 


Only one in four Greeks will go on vacation, survey finds

Only 25 percent of Greeks will go on vacation this summer according to a nation-wide survey published on Monday. The survey was carried out by INKA consumer protection group between June 2 and June 16 on a sample of 791 people. Only 198 of those surveyed ... ...


'Small PPC' bill to go to Parliament on Thursday, amid reactions

A draft bill aimed at paving the way for the break-up and partial privatization of Greece's national electricity producer, Public Power Corporation (PPC), is due to go to Parliament on Thursday. The “Small PPC” plan foresees the splitting of production ca... ...


Greek School in International List of Alternative Education

The Greek elementary School of Nature and Colors located in Fourfouras in the region of Rethymno, Crete, was included in the global list of alternative education schools along with the Summerhill, the Sands School, the Sudbury, the Waldorf, the Forest Schools and others. The school has set different goals that separate it from regular schools.. The School of Nature and Colors is considered every teacher’s dream as it stands apart from the traditional educational methods. According to the school staff, there are no discounts on educational goals and teachers do not rely solely on the school handbook to achieve them. The children in kindergarten are taught statistics and even natural sciences, but with creative methods including play. The primary goal of the teachers in the School of Nature and Colors is to teach children how to express themselves and be creative. They believe that it is important for the children to learn how to behave from a young age and adapt to the notion of the team in order to be able to deal with difficult situations. According to its website, the School of Nature and Colors is “a school where each and every student should discover his best self and would learn how to surpass it. A place where students can see their problems as opportunities to learn and feel the power of their choice.” Some of the innovative projects carried out by the students are “,” a short films project, a program of teleconference between schools, and a robotics program.  


Jerry Delakas: View a Newsstand

NEW YORK – On a warm Saturday in April, Gerasimos (Jerry) Delakas, clad in a fisherman’s hat and a red and green plaid flannel, sweeps cigarette butts and gum wrappers from the cement surrounding his corner newsstand in Astor Place. Above him hangs a sign with the word “victory” cut out from paper that, in the last […]

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Chobani's Greek-ness Challenged in a Suit

With $1.5 billion in sales expected this year, Chobani Inc. has shaken up the industry and brought plaintiffs' attorneys out of the woodwork. "None of the Products sold in the U.S. are made in Greece or made by Greek nationals even though Defendants market themselves as "America's Top Greek Yogurt," claims the complaint on behalf of two New Yorkers. "Our fans also understand that, like English ...


Soccer-Greece, Ivory Coast hope for third time lucky

By Gideon Long FORTALEZA, Brazil, June 22 (Reuters) - Greece and Ivory Coast are both appearing at their third World Cup and neither has ever reached the second round, but that could change on Tuesday when they meet for the first time in their final Group C clash. The Ivorians have the better chance of going through, having taken three points from Japan in their opening match. The former ...


Pension Funds at the Edge of Bankruptcy

The social security system in Greece is in a bad shape, as the assets of the pension funds don’t exceed 4.5 billion euros, except from the seamen’s (NAT) and the farmer’s pension funds (OGA). It is estimated that from 2016 the reserves of pension funds won’t be enough to cover pension needs. The financial problems of Greek insurance funds are due to the reduction in statefinancing, the drop in the number of employed people and the increasing number of pensioners. The situation is expected to become more difficult in the following years. It is estimated that the pension system will require additional resources of 900 million euros in 2016, 1.88 billion euros in 2017, 2.15 billion euros in 2018, 2.40 billion euros in 2019 and 2.67 billion euros in 2020, in order to cover its needs. Figures presented by the Greek Social Security Funds (POPOKP) 30th Congress of Employees, showed that social security funds in the country have recorded losses of 33 billion euros during the past six years of the financial crisis . At the same time, the funds foresee that their budgets in 2014 will show a deficit that may exceed 2 billion euros.  


The Peacemakers of Crete

The 85 year-old Christos Chnaris from the Greek island of Crete, is considered a respected man as he has helped dozens of blood feuds, the so-called vendettas, to come to an end, as he has helped many rival families to reconcile. Vendetta is a murder committed in order to avenge another murder or an insult usually between families.  It is often seen in Mani in the Peloponnese and the island of Crete. Christos Chnaris, is a peacemaker since the 1960s. As he says, in every village on Crete there are at least two or three men acting as peacemakers.  A beating, a violation of territory, a rustling, even a misunderstanding could end up to a vendetta without the intervention of the peacemakers. Only in the case of a murder there can not be a reconciliation. The Cretan peacemakers often help authorities or play a key-role in decision making by courts.  Lawyers in Crete estimate that the peacemakers have prevented dozens of new felonies. Three years ago, in the village of Amari in Rethymno, Greece, during a gunfight between families, a man shot his rival in the knee.  When the two families appeared in court they had already been reconciled. The defendant was charged with grievous bodily harm and not with an attempted murder. According to Chnaris the peacemakers are very few. The role of a peacemaker is usually undertaken by prestigious men of over 30 years old. A compromise is often validated with a baptism, while negotiations may last several months.


Hellenic Post Buyers Line Up

A privatization push to unload state enterprises under pressure from international lenders now has Greece’s postal system, Hellenic Post (ELTA) on the block, with prospective buyers looking for a takeover despite another delay. The Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) wants Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to speed the pace of selling off state companies and properties but it still continues to lag. The privatization authority TAIPED, four years after it was supposed to have sold 50 billion euros in state enterprises, has gotten rid of less than 10 percent and still hasn’t put together a plan to sell the state mail service, awaiting guidelines from its consultants while ELTA’s management is trying to cut its operational costs. CVC Capital Partners, which mostly manages capital from the US, is interested in a controlling stake in ELTA, having already bought into the postal companies of Denmark and Belgium, the newspaper Kathimerini said, citing unnamed sources. The Belgian postal company (De Post/La Poste) has also expressed an interest in ELTA during talks with Greek authorities. Other suitors may be the Dutch mail company TNT Post and France’s La Poste. Government officials said Athens’s target is to find a European strategic investor, as is the case with most Greek companies that are up for privatization, but it has been difficult to get interest in many enterprises that are bleeding money and bloated with deadwood patronage hires. Unlike in the United States and some other countries, Greek postal office workers and delivery persons don’t wear uniforms and most post offices close at 2 p.m. and aren’t open on Saturdays. The system has received complaints that delivery people don’t always put the mail in mailboxes but toss it in hallways and yards of apartments.    


Greek Islands Eager to Satisfy Partiers

Greece’s islands are among the most popular holiday destinations in the world and offer a vast majority of activities to satisfy even the most demanding visitors. The islands’ 24/7 party culture attracts more and more visitors year by year, and with tens of Greek islands to choose from, we’ve made picking your ideal location a bit easier by listing a few of our favorite destinations below….. Corfu As the second largest of the Ionian islands, and one of the most popular holiday destinations for foreign young party lovers, Corfu has become so famous that its main party resort, Kavos, has even become the subject of a British documentary series. An ideal destination for the younger crowd, the island sees a host of superstar DJs and big names play Corfu’s club scene each summer. Rhodes The large island of Rhodes, located in the northeastern Aegean Sea, perfectly combines lively nightlife with sandy beaches and cultural heritage sites, making it the ideal island for satisfying every wish. The areas of Old City and Lalysos offer a night scene slightly more cosmopolitan than elsewhere, with a mix of sophisticated clubs, wine bars and a popular casino, while the area of Faliraki is another popular option. Crete The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete is not only beautiful but also a place to do some serious partying. If you’re looking for a really wild nightlife, Hersonissos and its neighboring town of Malia — known as the island’s party capital — are the areas you want to check out. Hit the famous strips full of bars, eating spots and clubs, and enjoy good times until the wee hours of morning. Zakynthos The southernmost Ionian island has been a popular destination among young tourists for years. When the sun goes down, young and lively partiers will find bustling nightlife in the resorts of Argasi, Tsilivi and Laganas. For those who enjoy partying on boats, Zakynthos is also home to a variety of booze cruises.


Greek Pension System Will Go Bust After 2016

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' hopes for an economic recovery could be derailed in 2016 - next scheduled national elections - when money to fund pensions will run out. With austerity measures creating record record unemployment, there aren't enough workers paying into the retirement system.

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U.S. Firm Eyes Greek Post Office

An American company is one of the bidders for the Greek postal system ELTA being put up for sale as part of a lagging privatization push.

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Greek yogurt companies trying to hide amount of sugar in products: suit

Trendy Greek yogurt companies are playing hide the sugar with consumers, a pair of federal lawsuits claim. Barry Stoltz, of Westchester, and Allan Chang, of Queens, blasted yogurt giants Chobani...


Classical language lessons: the Coalition's latest nostalgic fantasy

Latin and Greek are a means of demarcating privilege, through a shared language of educational exclusivity.' Photograph: Alamy Christopher Pyne's announcement that the ancient languages of Latin and classical Greek are to be returned to the Australian ...


Greece vs. Japan ends in stalemate

There was no separating Greece and Japan at the Estadio das Dunas on Thursday as the two sides shared the spoils in a 0-0 stalemate.


Is Greece losing its reform drive?

Hugo Dixon is Editor-at-Large, Reuters News. The opinions expressed are his own. Is Greece losing its reform drive? Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has stuck to a harsh fitness programme for two years. But just as it is bearing fruit, he has sidelined ...


Greek police violate human rights, says Amnesty

Greek police are accused of using excessive force against protesters with impunity, which is deeply rooted in the country’s culture, according to Amnesty International. Nearly 50 people were arrested by December last year, including the leader of the neo ...


World Cup Coaches have Drastically Varying Styles

SAO PAULO (AP) — In the perfect picture of contrasting coaches’ styles at this World Cup, Alejandro Sabella of Argentina stood near midfield dressed in a suit that looked appropriate for Wall Street, while Bosnia’s Safet Susic stood nearby looking like he was headed for a workout. Plenty of coaches are setting high standards for style this World Cup, with fitted jackets, gleamingly shined shoes and ties in the national colors. Others look like they want to be comfortable exhorting their players and yelling at referees. Croatia’s Niko Kovac, a doppelganger of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, has been a style star, wearing a fitted suit in the opener against host Brazil in Sao Paulo, but then losing the tie and jacket for a game in steamy Manaus. “Very simple. For me, managing Croatia is a matter of great pride,” Kovac said Sunday in Recife. “It’s a holiday for me every day, and our custom back in Croatia is, when it’s a holiday, you put on your Sunday clothes, and that’s it.” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli and Costa Rica’s Jorge Luis Pinto certainly planned their World Cup wardrobes thoughtfully. Each dapper in their dark suits, they brought some serious style to their postgame handshake Friday in Recife. Then, there’s U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, a German who has turned California casual in his staple khakis and an untucked navy blue polo. He won’t wear red, though nobody really knows why, and team officials have never seen him in a tie — only a suit jacket when the occasion calls for him to go more formal. Prandelli’s Dolce&Gabbana dark suits are classic, with a small Italian flag badge on the pocket. “They have dressed us since 2006, when we won the Cup,” said Demetrio Albertini, the head of the Italian team’s delegation in Brazil and a vice president of the Italian football federation. “It’s a great Italian brand and we’re honored to wear their suits.” Dolce&Gabbana published a book featuring photos of the Azzurri in formal and casual wear, in “a blend of tradition and national pride.” Proceeds go to a charity to aid a small Brazilian fishing village outside Natal, where Italy plays its third Group D match against Uruguay. Prandelli and Kovac are joined by German coach Joachim Loew on the World Cup’s best-dressed list. Loew wears a fitted dark button-up shirt with his sleeves rolled up and the top button undone, and gray slacks. The German federation has clothing contracts with Hugo Boss and Adidas, and Loew typically wears the Hugo Boss look for game days. “It is very interesting to see the difference in styles between the more traditional and fashionable. To me the most evident was the more natural shoulder of the Europeans and the South Americans versus the traditional Americans,” said Robert Nelson, Sales Director Brand Manager for the company Vince Camuto in New York. “Collar width and the mixing of colors was the next call out. The fashion confident wore narrower lapels, some with narrow peak and paired with narrow shirt collars and narrow ties. Stronger colors like the deeper shades of blues and deeper shades of grey, give these colors a more modern feel.” Greece coach Fernando Santos wore a dark suit and matching narrow tie for his game against Japan. When a ball came out of bounds toward him, he didn’t hesitate to boot it with his dress shoes. Mexico coach Miguel Herrera has mixed it up, protecting himself from the pouring rain in an athletic jacket at Natal on June 13. When the weather cleared up, he switched to a dark suit and green tie for Mexico’s match with Brazil. Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli dances around the sideline in a white athletic polo tucked into gray polyester workout pants by Puma with sneakers. No matter their formality, these coaches are getting noticed by a world audience. “The coaches who have a role with FIFA World Cup soccer this year are quite diverse and distinct and can be cited as a great visual illustration of the global men’s market,” said Tom Julian, men’s fashion director at The Doneger Group, a retail merchandising and consulting firm based in New York. “The mix of looks at the World Cup of soccer is welcomed, and it can allow for new ideas and product concepts to come to life.” Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Greece, DEA Seize More Heroin

Greek Coast Guard officials say they have uncovered a nearly 1-ton stash of heroin at a warehouse in an eastern Athens suburb.

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Draghi: Recovery remains uneven and vulnerable


The President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi gave an interview in Telegraaf on June 21. ECB President stressed that Eurozone's recovery is ongoing but it remains uneven and vulnerable. President Draghi said:

When Mario Draghi took over as President of the European Central Bank in November 2011, he stepped into the eye of the hurricane. The euro area was confronted with serious problems. After the financial misery in Greece, Portugal and Ireland, larger countries like Spain and Italy were also threatening to collapse. Panic was widespread, both among politicians and among investors.

As of his very first day in office as the President of the central bank, the Italian had to take crisis measures. The most serious concerns are a thing of the past, but Europe is still experiencing economic woes. Draghi remains outwardly calm despite the turbulence he has had to deal with. Did he ever have doubts about taking on the job? “No, no, I never hesitated. Things happen.”

Mario Draghi is 66 years old and has a further five and a half years ahead of him in Frankfurt. He met the reporters of De Telegraaf for an exclusive interview on the 35th floor of the ECB tower. In the near future, he will be moving to gleaming new premises, but at the moment he is still surrounded by what his predecessors Jean-Claude Trichet and Wim Duisenberg have left him. “Only the books are different – they are mine.”

He is happy to take up the Dutch debate on the euro. He doesn’t think much of politicians who promise the earth outside the single European currency. “Some people think we should move back in time, thirty or forty years back. I prefer to go forward.” And that also means to continue to build up Monetary Union because it has by no means been completed.

Minister Dijsselbloem said recently that the crisis was over. What is your view?

“The recovery has now been ongoing for around nine months. It is still weak and unevenly distributed across the euro area. And it is vulnerable. Accidents could happen in the global economy that can quickly change the situation. That might be a disruption on the financial markets, or geopolitical risks. In addition, unemployment has now been stabilising for some six months. Very slowly it has been going down. Also in crisis countries such as Portugal. But the level of unemployment is still very high. That alone poses a risk to the recovery because it leads to lower consumer demand.”

You would thus define a recovery as any growth above zero?

“No, but economic activity is gradually, though slowly, picking up. Both manufacturers’ and consumers’ confidence has been quite good in recent times. However, in the first quarter of this year we saw slower growth.”

The troubles in Iraq are causing oil prices to surge. How much of a risk is that?

“Our mandate is to ensure price stability. If inflation in the medium term is higher than the target of close to, but below, 2%, we are concerned. But we are also concerned if it is far lower. We are constantly asking ourselves why inflation is so low in the euro area. Initially, this was due to lower energy and food prices. Later, US dollar prices of these products stabilised, but the euro appreciated, causing inflation to fall still further. Higher oil prices are sure to have an impact on inflation, at least if we do not experience a further appreciation of the euro. But it is also good news for the countries that produce energy, as in the case of the Netherlands with its gas.”

At least if the winter is not too mild, since that cost the Netherlands quite a bit in terms of gas sales at the beginning of the year.

“Yes, indeed. Is it not remarkable that the significant fall in economic activity in the Netherlands in the first quarter was due primarily to this fact? Many people simply don’t realise just how large the energy sector is. Incidentally, one has to acknowledge that too low inflation, while being generally negative for growth and especially so in the euro area, does support real disposable incomes. That is one of the reasons why consumption in the euro area is rising.

Compared with the United Kingdom and the United States, economic activity in Europe is still rather weak.

“Our recovery is in an earlier stage that that in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. That is why the ECB adopted a number of policy measures on 5 June: a lower interest rate (and for banks a negative deposit rate), the introduction of support for banks that is linked to the provision of credit, the so-called TLTROs and preparations for a programme for purchases of packaged corporate loans, asset-backed securities. In April, I already said in Amsterdam that there are three situations that could induce the ECB to take action. One was an unwarranted tightening of the monetary policy stance that is reflected in an increase in short-term interest rates. That could lead to higher medium-term interest rates, and thus also impact economic growth and price stability. The second was an ongoing deterioration of lending. That was also a matter for our attention because lending has now been weak for a very long time. The third development was a deterioration of the prospects for price stability over the medium term.”

And all three occurred at one and the same time?

“No, we responded primarily to the first two. We have not seen any deflation in the sense of prices declining across the whole spectrum in the euro area, with households and firms postponing consumption and investment because they are waiting for lower prices. What we do see is that low inflation persists for a long time. If it lasts too long, adjustment in the crisis countries is made more difficult. In a situation of low inflation, wages in these countries need to really decline in absolute terms in order to improve their competitiveness.”

Does the fact play a role that debt weighs more heavily when inflation is low?

“Certainly, that is yet another consequence of low inflation. The reduction of debt levels, which is of great importance in large parts of the euro area, becomes more difficult in the event of low inflation.”

Private and public sector debt?

“Yes, both private and public debt.”

Low interest rates are detrimental for savers, and for people’s pensions. How would you answer such concern?

“It is a very understandable concern. Many life insurance policies and pension plans promised far higher value at the time they were agreed.”

How long will interest rates continue to remain low?

“We have prolonged banks’ access to unlimited liquidity up to the end of 2016. That is a signal. Our programme in support of bank lending to businesses will continue for four years. That shows that interest rates will remain low over a longer period. But thereafter they will increase when the recovery will firm up.”

If the United States were already to raise interest rates in spring 2015, would Europe have to wait until spring 2017?

“We will have to wait and see what happens, but the extension to the end of 2016 is a signal. Incidentally, the United States has reduced the growth figure for the first quarter.”

In view of the impairment of pension entitlements, people are spending less because they have to set more aside.

“We do not see this. There is no lack of spending in the countries that are affected most by the low interest rates. I understand the concerns about the low interest rates, but on the other hand, they are what leads to more investment and higher growth. And we need to take into account precisely which interest rate we are talking about. These pension products invest in government bonds with long maturities. Many of the reasons why interest rates on government bonds are low have nothing to do with the ECB. They are low because countries such as the Netherlands and Germany have become safe havens. Prior to the crisis, life insurers invested in bonds issued by all countries, both “core” countries and ‘non-core’ countries. The interest earned on their investment was thus higher because weaker countries had also been included. The crisis created financial fragmentation in that insurers all used government bonds issued by their own countries to fulfil obligations. That caused insurers in the north to be confronted with low yields. Returns in the south were particularly good. Once there is renewed confidence in the euro area, the northern countries will no longer be the only safe havens. Money will then again flow freely and the recovery of confidence will lead to higher yields in the northern countries. Besides that, we have to conduct monetary policy for the whole euro area. We cannot consider only one single point of interest.”

Do you have any understanding for the fact that people in the north feel that they are having to pay for the mistakes made by the south?

“I am well aware of this conflict. Some months ago, I held a lecture on Monetary Union in the United States. I said then that there were major imbalances between various euro area countries, large debtor and large creditor countries. I said that it was never a goal of Monetary Union to create permanent creditors and permanent debtors. That would have to change in order to have a balanced Union. An American in the audience responded to this by saying ‘what you are saying does not hold water because here in the United States, the State of Oklahoma has always been a debtor, while New York has always been a creditor, and that is no cause for us to worry. So why should you be worried about it?’ I think that this touches on the heart of the matter. The debts of US citizens are all treated equally, irrespective of where they come from.”

Because the United States is a political union.

“Indeed. The Dutch have a problem with paying for the Greeks, but not with paying for other Dutch. But let’s look at that ‘paying’. It is not at all clear what some countries have really paid for other countries. In Greece, there was a write-off on debts held by the financial sector, but there was no further default. It has cost the euro area countries far more to save their own banks.”

Will Greece ever be able to repay its debt?

“If Greece continues with its structural reforms, restores order to its public finances and improves its competitiveness, growth there will increase. If that happens, Greece will be able to do so. Greece has less debt to service over the next five years than Belgium. Much of Greek debt has a very low interest rate and very long maturities.”

The ECB has taken many measures, but has not undertaken any quantitative easing, i.e. has not purchased bonds. What needs to happen before you would start doing so?

“That would be the answer to the third situation that I mentioned in Amsterdam, a deterioration of inflation expectations over the medium term. At the moment, however, we are focusing on the measures announced on 5 June.”

Is it legally possible to buy up government bonds? There is still a court case pending on this issue.

“This is indeed possible within our mandate, namely if the purchases are aimed at ensuring price stability. We are not permitted to provide Member States with monetary financing.”

You were very happy about the unanimity of the decision taken on 5 June. Would a unanimous decision also be possible on quantitative easing?

“Any guess would be premature. Quantitative easing can include not only government bonds, but also private sector loans. We will discuss that when the time comes.”

Your statement ‘whatever it takes’, to save the euro at any cost, made at the time of the announcement of a new government bond purchasing programme, marks a turning point in the euro crisis. Do you feel that you no longer need to follow through on it?

(Smiles) “In contrast to both the initial purchases of government bonds and possible quantitative easing, the programme of Outright Monetary Transactions (OMTs) is aimed at a very specific risk, namely the so-called tail risk of the euro area falling apart.”

Did you ever fear that that might happen?

“In July 2012, there were more than enough reasons for concern. In my short statement in London, I said that one of the mistakes many people make is to underestimate how much political capital has already been invested in the euro. I was very much aware of that fact. Just before I made that statement, the political leaders had fully committed themselves to the euro at the European Summit, within the scope of which the Banking Union was created.”

Are the OMTs some kind of nuclear bomb, a threat that will never be carried out?

“The markets reacted in a way that made it unnecessary to use the programme. The spreads between the interest rates [on bonds] of southern euro area countries and Germany narrowed sharply. That was something that could not have been achieved by any other monetary policy measure.”

Were you surprised by this effect?

“By the magnitude of the effect? Yes, certainly. We were all surprised.”

Or were you relieved that you had merely had to promise action without following through with it?

“In order to be credible, we also had to be sure that we could actually use the instrument. We were not bluffing, most certainly not.”

The other side to the coin is that you bought so much time for politicians that they no longer needed to implement reforms so rapidly. Do you also see this other side?

“Yes and no. We have a mandate to safeguard price stability. We are not responsible for how politicians make use of the time they have. I do not want to mix the responsibilities of the central bank with those of governments. But look at the extent of the reforms undertaken by governments since 2012. You will then need to admit that considerable progress has been made. Take Spain, for example, which has restructured its banking sector and reformed the labour market. Portugal is another example and Ireland yet another. And even in Greece progress has been remarkable.”

You have said repeatedly that the euro is an irreversible project. It is understandable that you say that, but is this not something for politicians to decide?

“Our mandate is to ensure price stability. There was more than enough evidence that a collapse of the euro would endanger price stability, and therefore our action was squarely within our mandate.

You saved the euro. In doing so, did you not take a political decision?

“No, certainly not. The issue is by no means political. My statement in July 2012 was aimed at price stability. There was unjustified uncertainty about the future of the euro, not political uncertainty but a financial one. Unjustified speculative expectations about a break-up of the euro had been selffulfilling in a vicious spiral for several months. They had produced a very high level of interest rates. These rates were harming the real economy and the banking sector. The consequence might have been a new credit crisis and the impairment of our monetary policy, and therefore of our ability to maintain price stability. There has far too often been criticism that it was a political decision, but that is simply not true.”

Much has been undertaken to close the gaps in Economic and Monetary Union, stricter budget rules and a banking union. Is everything now in place?

“The banking union is a major step forward in the direction of a more complete monetary union. The crisis has shown that the economic policies of one country have a clear impact on other countries. Economic policy cannot be a purely national matter. Where fiscal policy is concerned, a certain degree of Union-wide discipline is already given. But the marked imbalances between euro area countries are due to a lack of structural reforms in some countries. The next step to be taken is to subject structural reforms, too, to Union-wide discipline.”

Current economic policy coordination in the euro area is merely a first step?

“Yes, indeed, it is merely a first step.”

What will the second step look like?

“That is a matter for the political domain to decide. In the case of the budget agreements, sovereignty has been shared among Member States. That should also be done with respect to the labour market, competitiveness, bureaucracy, agreements on the internal market. Sovereignty needs to be shared at a level other than the national sphere. That is where I stop. Because now there are several options for politicians to choose from. You could grant greater powers to the European Commission, or to the Member States within the European Council, or you could create new European institutions. That is not for me to decide.”

The contention of some politicians that EMU is complete is thus not correct?

“No, far more is necessary for a perfect monetary union.”

Is a budgetary authority necessary at the euro area level, a fund for the compensation of weak countries?

“That is a highly political issue. Compliance with existing rules would be enough. But it is clear that my predecessor in office, Trichet, made a strong case for a budgetary authority.”

Returning to your example of the State of Oklahoma, would that not be a form of financial solidarity that is needed in the euro area?

“There is at least one difference. The United States is a single country, the euro area is not. Given the more complex structure, we must seek a design that best ensures that economic policy is regarded as being of common interest.”

Do you understand the concerns about such a transfer of powers? The outcome of the European elections can also be viewed against that background. Do you have a solution to this issue?

“Are we really so sure that it would have been better if we all still had our own currency? Would we have been better off over the past ten, fifteen years? In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, we experienced a whole number of currency devaluations with often high inflation as a result. We currently have a formidable degree of price stability, a low rate of inflation. That offers enormous opportunities for growth and job creation. It is not the fault of the euro that economic policy went wrong in some countries. But let us please conduct that debate. It is important as such. Some people feel that we should turn time back thirty or forty years, but I prefer to move forward.”

Do you understand that people see the euro as the cause of the crisis,of un and employment?

“The crisis and the unemployment are the result of a very severe financial crisis and partly also of wrong economic policies. The euro may have masked it but it has not caused it. We must end the crisis in Monetary Union and enable it to create prosperity and jobs again.”

That sounds terrific, but the many EU Summits on growth and job creation have all led to nothing. What needs to be done?

“That is a complicated issue. We cannot accept the present because we currently have low growth and insufficient job creation. On the other hand, we should not dream of a past that cannot be brought back and that cannot by any means be clearly taken to be better. We must work for the future in order to achieve not only stability, but also growth and employment.”


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