Friday, December 31, 2010

Global Greeks: Tom Hanks, One of Hollywood's Best - I Feel 110% Greek!


We thought we would end this very difficult year for Greece on a positive note and dedicate our final post to one of the world's favourite actors  - the one and only, Tom Hanks! 
 
Tom Hanks is one of those people who doesn't really need any introduction - you've probably seen at least ONE of his movies and you can read all about him in any celebrity or movie magazine. Not just a famous Hollywood actor and producer, over and above all that, for us, Tom is a philhellene and a Global Greek in every sense of the word.

What you may not know is that Tom is married to Global Greek actress and producer Rita Wilson , although how you could  avoid knowing this particular fact if you have even a drop of Greek blood in you, beats us... his love for Greece is well-known and documented and his holiday home in Antiparos have made him and Rita as local as the locals. He and Rita are regulars in the audience at the Ancient Epidaurus Theatre each summer, and they got a guided tour of the New Acropolis Museum in the Summer of 2009 by the Minister of Culture, just after it opened to the public. 

In fact, we happened to see him at Epidaurus last year enjoying Dame Helen Mirren's performance of Racine's Phedre.


Tom is very much part of the Los Angeles Greek Community and is very forthcoming in his support of Greek issues every opportunity he gets. 

The Rebuilding of St Nicholas at Ground Zero is one of these issues and we were very pleased to hear him add his voice to those asking for the church to be rebuilt. 




More recently, he spoke to  Hollywood Greek Reporter, Anastasios Papapostolou, at the premiere of the mini series "The Pacific". 

He talked about his new movie with Nia Vardalos and said a couple of things about being Greek which we particularly loved and think are worth noting and sharing too! 

I think every Greek I've met is a spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Tourism (GGW note: so true!)
   on being asked by HGR whether he had been approached to be spokesman for Greece's Ministry of Tourism...

It's joyful to be married to a Greek. Come on, it's fantastic!     
          on being asked if it is hard to be married to a Greek...

 I feel 110% Greek being married to a Greek. I'm more Greek than a Greek  because I had the good sense to marry a Greek! Some Greeks marry non-Greeks...can you believe that?    
         on being asked how Greek he feels...

Watch the interview with Anastasios Papapostolou, Hollywood Greek Reporter - you'll enjoy it!


Thank you for your support Tom - We're really glad you feel 110% Greek! 
Funnily enough, that's how we feel about you too, and feel great knowing you are one of our Global Greeks, not just in name but in deed!

Kali Xronia! Happy New Year! 

Let's hope that 2011 will be the Year of Greece and its turnaround - in every way!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

NA TA POUME?... ΚΑΛΗΝ ΕΣΠΕΡΑΝ ΑΡΧΟΝΤΕΣ....It's Christmas Eve in Greece and Around the World

Nikiforos Lytras' Famous Painting of Children 
Singing Christmas Carols in Greece
Kalanda  (1872)

One of my favourite Christmas traditions in Greece is the Kalanda or Christmas Carols. 

Early tomorrow morning, on Christmas Eve , our daughter and her schoolfriends will do the rounds of the neighbourhood to sing the Kalanda... a tradition that has come down to us almost entirely intact through the ages, untarnished by commercialism and cynicism. 

In Greece especially, young children in twos or in groups go from house to house to sing the Kalanda, the traditional Christmas carol  'Kalin Esperan Arhontes'.

Usually accompanied by a musical instrument such as a triangle, a recorder, a harmonica, accordion or guitar, this is a wonderful tradition which has come down through the ages almost entirely intact!  

There is nothing more beautiful than the sound of children's voices happily and eagerly asking you as you struggle to open the door bleary-eyed (yes, they come out THAT early...)

Na Ta Poume?, Shall we Sing to you?
 
In response,it is customary to give the children sweets and a little cash, so most children love to do it, thus raising the pocket money they need for Christmas...so check the pile of coins that you have ready to make sure you have enough!!!

In some of our communities around the world, the Kalanda  are sung by members often as a way of raising funds for the community's  projects, something we thoroughly enjoyed doing each Christmas as children growing up on the other side of the world. It was always fun visiting all the Greek Community homes and being welcomed with a warm smile, a treat and some cash for the Community coffers! Volunteers from the cradle...

SO....  

NA TA POUME?  :) 


Καλήν εσπέραν άρχοντες
κι αν ει - κι αν είναι ο ορισμός σας,
Χριστού τη θεία γέννηση,
να πω, να πω στ' αρχοντικό σας.

Χριστός γεννάται σήμερον
εν Βη - εν Βηθλεέμ τη πόλει,
οι ουρανοί αγάλλονται,
χαίρε - χαίρετ' η φύσις όλη.

Εν τω σπηλαίω τίκτεται,
εν φα - εν φάτνη των αλόγων
ο βασιλεύς των ουρανών
και ποι - και ποιητής των όλων.

Πλήθος αγγέλων ψάλλουσι 
το "Δόξα εν υψίστης"
και τούτο άξιον εστί, 
η των ποιμένων πίστης.

Εκ της Περσίας έρχονται 
τρεις μάγοι με τα δώρα,
άστρο λαμπρόν τους οδηγεί 
χωρίς να λείψει ώρα.

Έφθασαν εις Ιερουσαλήμ, 
με πόθον ερωτώσι
που εγεννήθη ο Χριστός, 
να παν να τον ευρώσι.

Δια Χριστόν ως ήκουσεν
ο Βασιλεύς Ηρώδης,
αμέσως εταράχθει 
κι έγινε θηριώδης.

Ότι πολλά φοβήθηκε 
δια την βασιλείαν,
μη του την πάρει ο Χριστός 
και χάσει την ουσίαν.

X R O N I A    P O L L A.... 
K A I    T O U    X R O N O U !!!

Καλά Χριστούγεννα σε Όλους! Merry Christmas To All Our Friends Around the World!



With the immortal Nikos Xylouris singing one of the most beautiful 
Byzantine hymns ever written and which will be heard in every single Greek Orthodox Church on Christmas Day
as we celebrate the Birth of Christ

we at Global Greek World wish all our friends around the world

Καλά Χριστούγεννα και Καλή Xρονιά με Υγεία, Χαρά και Ειρήνη!
Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year!





Η Παρθένος σήμερον, τον υπερούσιον τίκτει,
και η γη το Σπήλαιον, τω απροσίτω προσάγει.
Άγγελοι μετά Ποιμένων δοξολογούσι.
Μάγοι δε μετά αστέρος οδοιπορούσι.
Δι ημάς γάρ εγεννήθη, Παιδίον νέον, ο προ αιώνων Θεός.


Today the Virgin gives birth 
To him who is above all being, 
And the world,  to him whom we can never reach,
offers  a cave. 
Angels and shepherds give glory to him,
and the wise men journey guided by the star. 
For a little child has been born to us,
God of all ages.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Lesser Known Greek-New Zealand-French Connection : New Zealand's RMS Mataroa



On December 22, 1945, the New Zealand R.M.S. Mataroa set out on
an odyssey from Piraeus, carrying more than 130 young Greek scientists
and artists, all French Government scholars.
The initiative was taken by the serving director of the French
Institute,  Octave Merlier, in an effort to ensure the safety of
many promising Greek intellectuals from the ravages of the
impending civil war which would devastate Greece.

The passenger list reads like a who's who of Greece's intelligentsia,
some of her most well-known Global Greeks -  philosopher,
economist and psychoanalyst Cornelius Castoriades, first woman
president of the Sorbonne and  eminent Byzantinologist,
Helene Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, and philosopher Kostas Axelos,
were just a few of the passengers.
 
Tomorrow, December 22 - 65 years later -  the French 
Embassy in Athens along with the French Institute
will be commemorating the NZRMS Mataroa’s historic
journey at the French Institute Library, in Athens - hopefully in
the presence of as many of its remaining passengers as possible! 

During the ceremony, French Ambassador Christophe Farnaud
will also unveil a commemorative plaque listing the names of the
passengers and announce the establishment of an Octave Merlier 
Scholarship.

Source: Greek News Agenda

Looking At the Positive Side of the Economic Crisis - Made in Greece by Greek Canadian Stavroula Logothettis

 Stavroula Logothettis
Source: Made in Greece

Stavroula Logothettis is a Greek Canadian journalist and actress who came 'home' along with the Olympics in 2004. You may remember her as the 'perfect' older sister Athena in fellow Greek Canadian Nia Vardalos' big film hit ' My Big Fat Greek Wedding'!

Stavroula came back to Greece after being asked to do a series about Greece in the run-up to Athens'  historic Games by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.  The entire Games experience was a life-changing one for Stavroula (as it was for most of the people who were involved) and it made her want to come back to live in the land of her birth.

All went well for a while, she even managed to get a great spot on ERT 's Satellite Programme for Greeks Abroad, ERT World. Today she is unemployed, one of the ever increasing number of victims of Greece's economic crisis but is optimistic, as many of us are, that the economic crisis will serve as a new starting point and provide the reasons for the many changes which need to be made in Greece.

Stavroula has put together a great video on many of the positive movements that have sprung up, like a phoenix from the ashes of this crisis; voluntary groups like SWAP or the Atenistas , a non-political group that takes action to improve Athens.

 

The Atenistas, incidentally, have managed to change a lot in their relatively short life... like cleaning up some derelict lots in central Athens and turning them into parks, cleaning up the beach at Neo Faliro, 'taking back' Omonia Square for the people of Athens to enjoy;an Omonia Square, which, along with all the surrounding streets has been criminally neglected and  been allowed to sink into the quagmire of drug use , drug dealing and prostitution, becoming a battle ground between the various illegal immigrant groups that have taken up 'shop' in the area, instead of the once vibrant, buzzing central square it once was!

Source: Atenistas

Stavroula's video, called Made in Greece, is bright, upbeat and informative and looks at the positive aspects of the financial crisis...

Thanks Stavroula! Thoroughly enjoyed it! :)




Source: www.protagon.gr -  Thanks to Marianna K for referring it!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Greece and the Priviliges of Parliamentary Life...Ioannis Kapodistrias, Where Are You?



A lot has been written about Greece's Members of Parliament and their privileges as well as whether in fact the 300 MPs which Greece has today should be drastically reduced. If we consider that around half of Greece's work force have taken great cuts in salaries and pension payments especially in the public sector, the wide range of benefits which MPs seem to still be getting are an insult to the  intelligence of the general public...  

This coupled with the government's very apparent unwillingness to take action against well-known tax evaders and to further investigate major scandals such as the Siemens corruption case and the Vatopedio land swap, the unbelievable case of former Minister Tsohadzopoulos (who, along with his family members, appears to have interests in several highly valuable properties including the one he lives in on one of the most expensive streets in Athens, close by the Acropolis, on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street) and other such cases of social injustice is adding fuel to the fire of the unrest and dissatisfaction in Greece. 

During the demonstrations that took place in Athens last week,  one of the more moderates,  former Minister of Transport Kostis Hadjidakis was attacked and beaten. Hadjidakis,  apart from being involved in the privatisation of Greece's national carrier, Olympic Airways during his tenure as Minister, is not one of those MPs who appear to have provoked or been involved in any of the major scandals that have plagued Greek public life recently, and the attack took many by surprise. 

No one can condone such an action but it is increasingly obvious that resentment of the 'untouchable' status and lack of accountability or responsibility that Greece's MPs  have seems to be escalating dangerously. 

The system of benefits enjoyed by Greece's Members of Parliament, past or present, along with hundreds of Parliamentary employees is facing increasing scrutiny by the people. The people are being asked to sacrifice much of the basics in their daily lives, simply because public funds were squandered, or at best, mismanaged,  by the very people who were elected to office to safeguard them and to work for the benefit of the public good,  but were too busy looking after their personal interests, as well as those of their closest and dearest, to the detriment of the public good.  

In times of economic turmoil such as the crisis Greece is going through when people are being asked to sacrifice more and more,  it is only fair that those in power lead by example, and in Greece this surely does not appear to be the case, despite the torrent of rhetoric around us!

In September this year, Nikos Vafiadis took a walk down the hallowed corridors of Parliament and wrote a very revealing analysis of these benefits in the daily Kathimerini titled   'Even the... corridors have privileges'  Και οι... διάδρομοι έχουν προνόμια...

'Το 2010 οι 300 της Βουλής θα μοιραστούν το ποσό των 42,5 εκατ. ευρώ. 

Συνεπώς ο μέσος όρος των μηνιαίων αποδοχών τους ανέρχεται σε 10.000 ευρώ. Το 50% της βουλευτικής αποζημίωσης φορολογείται αυτοτελώς και μόνο το υπόλοιπο 50% προστίθεται στα τυχόν άλλα εισοδήματα. Περίπου 35 εκατ. ευρώ θα μοιραστούν μέσα στο 2010 οι συνταξιούχοι βουλευτές ή οι σύζυγοι και οι άγαμες θυγατέρες θανόντων βουλευτών. Αλλο ένα κονδύλι 4,3 εκατ. ευρώ προορίζεται για τις συντάξεις των πρώην πρωθυπουργών. Σημειώνεται ότι για την κατοχύρωση βουλευτικής σύνταξης απαιτούνται μόλις 4 χρόνια, ενώ όσοι έχουν πρωτοεκλεγεί πριν από το 1993 συνταξιοδοτούνται από τα 55 τους χρόνια. Ο πρόσφατος σαρωτικός νόμος για το ασφαλιστικό δεν άγγιξε στο ελάχιστο τους επαγγελματίες της πολιτικής.

Επιπλέον, στους πρώην πρωθυπουργούς αλλά και στους πρώην προέδρους της Βουλής παραχωρούνται γραφεία μέσα στο Κοινοβούλιο, ακόμη και στην περίπτωση που δεν έχουν επανεκλεγεί βουλευτές, όπως είναι η περίπτωση του Κώστα Σημίτη. Τον πιο ευρύχωρο και ηλιόλουστο χώρο στον δεύτερο όροφο, με εξαιρετική θέα στον Εθνικό Κήπο, εξασφάλισε πρόσφατα ο Κώστας Καραμανλής.

Οσοι βουλευτές είναι άνω των 65 χρόνων λαμβάνουν ταυτόχρονα και βουλευτική αποζημίωση και βουλευτική σύνταξη. 

Οι συνταξιούχοι βουλευτές είναι οι μοναδικοί Ελληνες που έχουν τη δυνατότητα να λαμβάνουν παράλληλα και δεύτερη σύνταξη από το επάγγελμα που ασκούν ή ασκούσαν, εφόσον δεν εργάζονται στο Δημόσιο, ή και τρίτη στην περίπτωση που ήταν συνδικαλιστές, πρώην δήμαρχοι ή πρώην νομάρχες (χορηγίες). 

Μέσα στην τριετία 2010-2012 υπολογίζεται από το Γενικό Λογιστήριο του Κράτους ότι μπορεί να δοθούν στους συνταξιούχους βουλευτές άλλα περίπου 80 εκατ. ευρώ που διεκδικούν αναδρομικά, λόγω των αναδρομικών αυξήσεων που πήραν πρόσφατα οι δικαστές (έχουν πάρει ήδη το 25%, ενώ το υπόλοιπο 75% θα καταβληθεί το Μάιο του 2011), όταν οι τελευταίοι αύξησαν τους μισθούς τους κατά περίπου 80%. Αποτελεί πάγια μέθοδο η διεκδίκηση εκ μέρους των συνταξιούχων βουλευτών των αυξήσεων που λαμβάνουν οι ανώτεροι δικαστικοί, οι οποίες μετά την τελική δικαίωσή τους επεκτείνονται και στους εν ενεργεία βουλευτές....'

You can hear much of this article in the video that follows...



We have said it before, but we will say it again! Greece's politicians, from the political leaders down, should be leading by example if they want to be treated with respect...

  • They should take voluntary cuts in their salaries and benefits - anything else is pure hypocrisy and will fuel even greater resentment and dissatisfaction.
  • They should send their children to public schools instead of sending them to exclusive private schools...maybe then, we would see a revamp of the education system for the benefit of all students.
  • They should go to the IKA doctors...maybe if they had to wait in line from 5 in the morning to see a doctor, or fill a prescription, maybe then they would comprehend the anguish of the old age pensioner who has worked hard all his life only to see his contributions disappear.
  •  They should go to the public hospitals, not as public figures but incognito and see the dire results of the major shortages in staff and supplies  - maybe then they would provide for hospitals that allowed both staff and patients to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Above all, they should be following the example of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the First Governor of Greece and one of our Global Greeks, who selflessly refused to touch public money, judging that his income and personal wealth was sufficient for him to live on... 

The only problem is, there aren't too many Kapodistrias around...unfortunately!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Global Greek Humour: When is THIS 'Closed' Profession Going to Open Up???

 Source: not sure possibly www.periergos.gr but TBA
Thanks to Vangelis T for passing it on.
 
Goodnight Uncle, 
Good night Nephew. 
Goodnight Mum, 
Goodnight Daughter. 
Goodnight Grandad. 
Goodnight Grandma. 
Goodnight Grandson. 
Goodnight Dad. 
Goodnight Son. 
Goodnight Godfather... 

and so it goes, Greece's most famous 'Closed' Profession...
the Greek Vouli also known as Parliament!


A wonderful take off of the goodnight scene on the classic TV show the Waltons... Greek style...


Love it! :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Greek PM George Papandreou & Nicholas Christakis - Two Global Greeks in Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers

Foreign Policy  100 Top Global Thinkers for 2010

No 79 ....George Papandreou 
'for making the best of Greece's worst year'


... that's the description under Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's name which comes in at number 79 on Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2010..while another of our Global Greeks, Harvard Professor, Dr Nicholas Christakis comes in at number 83! 

Congratulations to both of them! This is the kind of news we at Global Greek World love to read and share!

The list which is described as 'a unique portrait of 2010's global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who think them' includes US President Barack Obama, Microsoft's Bill Gates, IMF's Dominique Strauss -Kahn, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Foreign Policy's listing goes on to say the following about the Greek PM:

'Even before the 2008 financial crisis, the Greek economy was running on borrowed time, an ossified system that predictably buckled under the weight of the crash. When George Papandreou took office as Greece's prime minister in October 2009, he found that the budget deficit was not 6 percent, as his predecessor had claimed, but 12.7 percent, four times that allowed by the eurozone's rules. (GGW note... it has since climbed to 15 percent !!)


Papandreou has spent 2010 telling Greeks hard truths about the unsustainable nature of their welfare state -- and sounding an international warning that Greece is the canary in the European coal mine. The Minnesota-born son of a former socialist prime minister, he has rolled out an austerity plan that will raise taxes and rein in the bloated public sector, a package ambitious enough to convince Europe to keep Greece afloat even as it has provoked riots in Athens. And he has argued that the disaster should be a wake-up call for the threat sovereign debt poses far beyond Europe's borders. 

"It's not an issue of countries acting on their own," he said. "We need a more coordinated strategy not only in Europe but around the world."'


No 83... Dr Nicholas Christakis  
along with long time collaborator, Dr James Fowler
'for proving that social networks are more than tweets and pokes' 


In naming Greek American physician and sociologist, Dr Nicholas Christakis in 83rd place, Foreign Policy notes the following:
'Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler's 2009 book Connected explained how our weight, emotional well-being, and physical health are influenced by hundreds of people, most of whom we will never meet. This year they proved that their research has the potential to improve the largest social network of all: our global health-care system. In a paper released in September, Christakis and Fowler devised a way to predict the spread of infectious outbreaks. By assessing the most interconnected people in a social network, they reasoned, they could predict the spread of a virus before it hit the entire population. And the idea worked: By monitoring the spread of swine flu through Harvard University's undergraduate population in the winter of 2009, the researchers got a two-week jump on understanding the full extent of the epidemic. 

"If you want a crystal ball for finding out which parts of the country are going to get the flu first, then this may be the most effective method we have now," said Fowler '

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