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 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...



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 

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: -  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 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 '

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Melina Mercouri - The Woman Who Should Have Been Mayor of Athens

 Honouring Melina Mercouri - the Last Greek Goddess
The Poster created for her Mayoral Campaign in 1990  was later issued 
as part of a set of commemorative stamps in her honour

The local elections in Greece recently saw a change of power in Greece's two main centres, for the first time since 1986...

In the capital, Athens the sitting Mayor, Nikitas Kaklamanis, a former Minister with Nea Democratia, was defeated by outsider Giorgos Kaminis, the former Ombudsman whose candidacy was supported by PASOK and the left coalitions...whilst Yiannis Boutaris, of the reknowned Boutari Wines, on a similar basis, ousted Nea Dimokratia's sitting Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos in Thessaloniki...

As the elections came and went and a new Mayor was elected for Athens, some of us couldn't help but think of the only woman who really deserved to have been the Mayor of Athens but wasn't, Melina Mercouri, the ultimate Athenian, the last Greek Goddess, someone who loved the city and would have done wonders for Athens' image and identity...

Her vision was focused on showcasing Greece's rich heritage - emphasising the beauty of Athens' many classical and historical monuments, uniting  Athens' many Archaeological sites, reuniting the Parthenon Sculptures, and adding culture and poetry to everyday living and education...

One thing is for sure, she certainly wouldn't have allowed her beloved Athens to get to the level it is today, with scenes such as the one pictured below an everyday occurrence which totally mars the beauty of the newly restored Athenian Trilogy buildings in one of the most beautiful streets of Athens, Panepistimiou... and not only!

Photo by Alexandros Filippidis which appeared in the Kathimerini on Sunday 
14 November 2010  in the article  Athens Is Losing its Symbols

Melina, born Maria Amalia Mercouri in Athens in 1920, was the daughter of Stamatis Mercouris, a former cavalry officer, member of Parliament for the Democratic Socialist Party of Greece and former Minister for Public Order of Greece, and the granddaughter of Spyros Mercouris, one of the most successful Mayors of Athens.

Melina worshipped her paternal grandfather who played such a significant role in her early childhood. In turn, Spyros Mercouris adored his granddaughter and took her with him almost everywhere he went - the sight of a young Melina with her grandfather was an endearing one, and one which would inspire the song Melina Melinaki which also became very popular in France.

A well-known and talented actress, Melina was internationally acclaimed for her portrayal of a woman of pleasure in Never on Sunday,  a film which was a milestone in Greek film history but she also had many other performances in her repertoire, both in films and in the theatre, modern and classical. 

During the years of the Military Junta in Greece, while in exile abroad, Melina also recorded several albums which became very popular... her sultry, husky voice giving the songs an extra special dimension. 

One of the most popular was a 1973 album with fellow Global Greek, composer Vangelis,  'Si Melina M'Etait Contee', which featured this song , one of her most beautiful ...  

 Athenes, ma Ville

Ma ville,c'est bon ne plus te voir en rêve
Ma ville, regarde le soleil se lève
Je te salue, toi mon ami, ma soeur
belle endormie mais qui attend son heure

Ma ville, écoute au creux de tes ruelles
Ma ville la voix  de tes enfants t'appelle
réveille-toi réveille-toi
Athèna Athèna

réveille-toi  réveille-toi
Athèna Athèna

Ma ville que c'est un joli jour pour naitre
dore le pain Pâques est enfin venue
tire le vin qui fait chanter tes rues

Ma ville écoute au creux de tes ruelles
ma ville la voix de tes enfants t'appelle
réveille-toi réveille-toi
Athèna Athèna
réveille-toi réveille-toi
Athèna Athèna
réveille-toi réveille-toi
Athèna Athèna
réveille-toi réveille-toi
Athèna Athèna
réveille-toi réveille-toi
Athèna Athèna

Famous for her anti-dictatorship stance during the Military Junta, she was deprived of her Greek citizenship and denied entry into Greece from 1967 to 1974. Her response to that was a simple
'I was born Greek and I will die Greek. 
Mr Pattakos was born a dictator and a dictator he will die

Her biography, appropriately enough, has the same name, I Was Born Greek...

When democracy was restored to her homeland Melina returned to Greece and entered politics, becoming Minister of Culture in the first PASOK Government and retaining that position until she died, except for a short break between 1990 and 1993. From that position she took on the British Museum as she campaigned long and hard for the return of the stolen Parthenon Sculptures now on display in the British Museum. 

Melina didn't live to see her dream become reality. She died in 1994 but her cause was rapidly gaining support around the world and her vision of a Museum to house the Repatriated  Sculptures materialised on 20 June 2009  when the magnificent New Acropolis Museum opened its doors in Athens. 

The pressure on the British is unrelenting and grows daily, with the London Olympics in 2012 an ideal moment for initiatives to be taken. 

Melina, our immortal Melina, will be waiting, just as we are...  as she said when she addressed the UNESCO Conference in Mexico in 1982...

'You must understand what the Parthenon Marbles stand for us. They are our pride. Our sacrifice. Our ultimate symbol of nobility. It is a requiem to our democratic philosophy, our ambition and our name. They are the essence of our Hellenic Being. 
If you ask me whether I will be alive when the Marbles return to Greece, I tell you, yes, I will be. 

But even if I'm not, I will be born again.

When the Sculptures come home to Athens, so will I'

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Remembering 17 November 1973 - Εδώ Πολυτεχνείο! Εδώ Πολυτεχνείο!

Εδώ Πολυτεχνείο! Εδώ Πολυτεχνειο! Σας μιλά ο Ραδιοφωνικός Σταθμός των ελεύθερων αγωνιζόμενων φοιτητών, των ελεύθερων αγωνιζόμενων Ελλήνων... 

Today is the 17th of November and in Greece it marks the culmination of the 3 day anniversary commemoration of the events and the victims of the Polytechnic student uprising against the Junta in 1973.

We dedicate this post to all those involved who fought and resisted the dictatorship so that the future generations could enjoy the benefits of freedom and democracy in the land which invented them; to all those who resisted so that the future generations could enjoy the ideals they fought for, namely the right to

 (Bread - Education - Freedom) 

ideals which seem as relevant today as they did then,  as Greece and her people struggle for economic survival in one of the most difficult periods seen in the last 30 years...

The great Nikos Xylouris' presence inside the Polytechnic in November of 1973 was catalytic, rallying the students and the people who gathered outside the gates with the depth and the power of his distinctive voice ...

His song Pote Tha Kanei Xasteria, was a call to battle, a rally to resistance against the Junta and the 7 year old dictatorship. 

This song, this call is as relevant today as it was then, because as Greeks we need to take stock and determine where we go from here. 

We have all played a role in allowing our society to get out of hand, not that we have all taken part in or benefitted from the corruption endemic in Greece today, but we have allowed it to happen... by not protesting, by not resisting, by giving in to all the shallowness around us we are almost as guilty as those who accepted the bribes or squandered public funds.

We need to take the 'opportunity' that this economic crisis has given us to re-examine the values our modern Greek society has acquired, focus on what is important in our lives and reset our objectives, rediscovering our values, ethical as well as economic, such as work and family and a host of other values intrinsic to Greece and important to Greeks...

If we do that, and do it fast, we have every hope of improving things dramatically and leaving something better for our children just as our parents did for us ... 

It is up to us!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Global Greek Maria Menounos: As a First Generation Greek American, I Desperately Wanted to Do Something to Help Greece...

Maria Menounos with her Mum and Dad at the end of their run in the Kallimarmaro Stadium
 Photo Source: Maria Menounos via

Gorgeous and multi-talented Greek American Maria Menounos, actress, journalist and television presenter, Access Hollywood and NBC News Correspondent, is one of our wonderful Global Greeks who always does her bit for Greece, the land her parents left to emigrate to the US in the 1970's. 

Her love for Greece brought her to Greece in 2006 to host the Eurovision Song Contest along with Sakis Rouvas, something she did with a lot of love, taking a few days off from her busy work schedule so that at the end of the contest she could enjoy some quality time with her relatives in the Peloponnese.

Just recently she anchored a great little video clip called "Heck Yeah! We Invented Democracy" for the Greek American organisation Next Generation Initiative, featuring many prominent Greek Americans who had a great time getting together to encourage Americans to do get out and "Vote, it's the Greek thing to do"

At the end of October this year, she came to Athens to take part in the Marathon of Marathons, the 2500 year celebrations for the Marathon. Not only did she host the celebration at the Zappeion Centre but she also participated, accompanying both her parents in the 5 kilometre run!

We listened to a visibly moved Maria speaking to reporters after she finished the 5 kilometre run with her parents and declared that she would love to come back and do the Classic 42.195 kilometre Marathon one day, in fact she said,  everyone should come to Greece for the Classic Marathon!  

We were thrilled that she participated, along with George Papandreou, the Prime Minister of Greece and a lot of other people, famous and not so famous, and we loved what she had to say shortly afterwards, to her friends on Twitter...

Finished the 5k marathon today w/my parents.I didn't know that the 5k finishes thru the original olympic stadium..omg it was so moving!!

I almost lost it coming thru-such a historic day-truly honored to have participated-i recommend the classic athens marathon to all!

A few days later she wrote  an exclusive diary for magazine and we thought we would share it with you ...

"Believe it or not, the economic conditions in Greece are even worse than those in our country's. As a first generation Greek American, I desperately wanted to do something to help. That something came in the form of hosting the 2010 Greek marathon. 

This year was the 2500th anniversary commemorating the mythic run of Greek messenger, Pheidippides, from the Battle of Marathon to Athens. Way back in 490 BC., Pheidippides job was to spread the word that Athens had defeated Persia at the battle. 

In 2010, it was my job to spread the word that the Greek marathon is THE premiere marathon in the world and that Greece, despite its economic setbacks, is THE premiere vacation destination and tourist attraction as well. 

After all, what other marathon is so authentic and rich in history? 

And what other country offers travelers such a wide range of assets from gorgeous island paradises to ancient historical wonders to a booming night life? I can't think of many. 

Yet, as awe-inspiring as Greece and the marathon was and is, it was my decision to run the 5K portion of the race that may have given me the most inspiration.

Honestly, I wouldn't even think to attend this event without my parents. As Greek natives who moved to the United States in their twenties, this was an experience they could not miss. Growing up in mountain villages that lacked electricity and running water, this was quite their triumphant return. 

However, what truly inspired me, and what I hope inspires others, is the fact that they decided to actually run the race with me. 

Mind you, these are not the parents who play tennis, do aerobics or have gym memberships. 

They are working-class folk. Dad, Costas, was a janitor and a handyman. Mom, Litsa, was a cafeteria worker. They had kids to feed in a foreign culture whose language they did not speak. 

What compounded their struggles was the fact that Dad's a Type I diabetic, prone to severe low blood sugar attacks. He's had the disease for forty years and has even been pronounced dead on more than one occasion due to its effects. As you can guess, there just wasn't room for extracurricular activities like exercise. 

Yet, this 66-year-old diabetic and his 56-year-old wife, who battled medical setbacks of her own including thyroid issues and a deviated septum, were determined, despite everything, to help the cause and to show their support by running the race. They lacked exercise experience and they lacked youth but had something, perhaps, more valuable. They had their minds in the state of 'possibility.'....

Thanks Greece, and thanks Mom and Dad, for reminding me to keep MY mind in possibility when I want to give up. I hope others out there can be reminded, too."

Read the rest of the article here...

Thank YOU,  Maria

Thanks for the generous and unstinting support that you and your parents, along with the rest of our Global Greeks, have given, and continue to give our homeland, especially at times like these ...We're keeping our minds in the state of possibility too! We know Greece will overcome!

Ευχαριστούμε πολύ! Νάσαι Πάντα Καλά!

To read more about Maria, Click Here

To follow Maria on Twitter, Click Here

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Misappropriation of National Symbols: United 'Macedonia' Diaspora Issues VISA Card With Alexander the Great Portrait

 VISA Card - United 'Macedonian' Diaspora

The pictured VISA card appears to be the latest provocation by an increasingly intransigent FYROM in its continuing battle with Greece over what it sees as its exclusive right to appropriate the name 'MACEDONIA' , by claiming the great Hellene, Alexander the Great as its own, and by so doing putting another obstacle on the road of any possible resolution of the name dispute.

Alexander the Great has been a feature of Greek history, art and culture, even coins and notes for a very, very long time, long before the establishment of FYROM and  its historially unfounded claims, that its inhabitants are the direct descendants of one of our most glorious Global Greeks!

It appears that the US  based United 'Macedonian' Diaspora has had this VISA card issued (we don't know the bank) featuring the detail above from the famous floor mosaic below.

Floor Mosaic - Battle between Alexander the Great and King Darius III
Source: Wikipedia

The mosaic depicts a battle between the armies of Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia, and was found at the House of the Faun in Pompeii.  The portrait of Alexander shown sweeping into battle at the left of the mosaic on his famous horse, Bucephalos, is one of his most famous and internationally recognised and acknowledged. The breastplate he carries in the battle depicts Medusa, the famous Gorgon, and his wavy hair is typical of royal portraiture as established in Greek art of the fourth century B.C.

As negotiations continue between Greece and FYROM on a long-term-one-name-for-all-uses solution, FYROM knows that without an acceptable solution it will be very difficult if not impossible for FYROM to be admitted to the European Union and NATO, as well as other International Organisations, yet they continue to create obstacles to this. 

This weeks' EU report on accession progress effectively said that FYROM cannot join the EU until the name dispute with Greece is resolved, but it doesn't seem to worry their leader Gruevski at all.  

If it hadn't been for President GW Bush and the US fanning FYROM's over inflated ego, by  recognising it as 'Macedonia'  for reasons known only to them, FYROM would have been obligated to put some water in their irredentist wine by now.

As it is, each such move by FYROM or their 'friends' just aggravates an already difficult situation. 

As Alec Mally *, a former US Diplomat in the region commented recently,

'I can only say most of the time we have engaged, we tilted badly towards Skopje and failed. They move deeper into self created purgatory with each new statue and renamed airport. Skopje has lost a lot of time. Gruevski was elected on a highly nationalistic platform, and he deserves zero support from Washington or fact he should be snubbed. I hope the Greek lobby in the US can make it clear to Secretary Clinton that US re-engagement is a waste of energy.

The Greek lobby should indeed act quickly to nip this particular provocation in the bud but let's all help! 

It is up to us in the Global Greek Community, and especially the Greek American Community to point out the futility of such moves by FYROM who have every reason to want a resolution to the name dispute but seem to be doing everything they can to sabotage it.
There's nothing like a bit of pressure  so ACT NOW!

Mobilise all of our sitting Greek American representatives such as Olympia Snowe, John Sarbanes, Niki Tsongas, Zack Space, Dina Titus, Gus Bilirakis, Charlie Christ,  Suzanne Kosmas and Shelley Berkeley  all members of the Hellenic Caucus.  

Mobilise the Greek American organisations, AHEPA, AHI, the Pan Macedonian Association and others. 

Write to your local congressman/woman or senator, to Secretary Clinton even, pointing out that this is an unacceptable move by a US based organisation and that appropriating your neighbour's national symbols and passing them off as your own is not exactly conducive to peaceful coexistence, on any level!

PS You could also contact VISA asking them what it was thinking of to allow one of its partner banks to issue a card with a 'forged' identity? 

Ask VISA what they would it do if someone decided to issue a card with the word VISA written on it but without getting the proper authorisation? 

Maybe then it will get the message that it should never have allowed a card with misappropriated symbols to be issued! 

 *Alec Mally is currently Executive Director for Global Economics at Foresight Strategy and Communications, Athens.


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