Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Must See for all Greeks! The Promise of Tomorrow - Screening Tonight at the Rhode Island Film Festival

The Promise of Tomorrow, Part Two of the Greek Heritage Society's award winning series, The Greeks of Southern California — Through the Century, is the universal story of the Greek American experience as seen through the eyes of those who settled in Southern California.

The Documentary highlights the first and second generation of Greek Americans and the changing face of our community. Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis hosts and narrates the documentary, with additional narration by John Kapelos, as it explores the way in which the Greek American community has become an integral part of American history while maintaining a strong and unique Greek identity.

Related Article: The Promise of Tomorrow

Monday, August 9, 2010

Don't Miss Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's Interview Rescreening on CBS' 60 Minutes Tonight at 7pm!

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the 300 million-member Orthodox Christian Church, feels "crucified" living in Turkey under a government he says would like to see his nearly 2,000-year-old Patriarchate die out...

Tonight, Sunday, August 8 at 7 p.m. CBS will be repeating the 60 Minutes programme on Orthodox Christianity featuring His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians who constitute the second largest Christian church in the world, which first aired on Sunday, December 20, 2009. 

The segment focuses on the Orthodox Church, the most ancient Christian church, and its development from its earliest years to modern times in what is now the Republic of Turkey.

The Ecumenical Patriarch is in a unique position as a Christian leader in a Muslim environment. His All Holiness is the 270th successor to the see of St. Andrew the Apostle, who founded the 2000-year-old church of Constantinople (ancient Byzantium, modern Istanbul).  Despite hostility from some elements of Turkish society, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has been an outspoken supporter of Turkey’s modernization and acceptance into the European Union.  He has also worked for reconciliation among Christian churches and cooperation among Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and indeed all faith communities.

His All Holiness brought about Muslim leaders’ first condemnation of the 9/11 attacks on America as anti-religious acts. He was named 11th among the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine and was awarded the US Congressional Gold Medal for his efforts to promote human rights and religious tolerance.  He is the first international environmental leader recognized by the United Nations as a Laureate Champion of the Earth for his pioneering work to protect the environment. Affectionately known as “the Green Patriarch,” Patriarch Bartholomew has called upon leaders of all religious traditions to join him in this effort, noting simply “If life is sacred, so is the entire web that sustains it.”

His All Holiness made an historic extended visit to the U.S. last fall, where he participated in an environmental symposium in Mississippi, ministered to the five million Orthodox faithful in America, and met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and national religious leaders.  He is the author of Encountering the Mystery (Doubleday) and In the World, Yet Not of the World (Fordham).

Here is a short excerpt...

60 Minutes is the pre-eminent investigative television news show in the United States and has run on CBS since 1968.

The show will  also be broadcast on the 60  Minutes website: Click here

More information about Patriarch Bartholomew and his work for religious freedom, human rights, environmental conservation, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as texts of his addresses may be found here

To follow Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Twitter  click here 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

In Crete, 65 Years after Hiroshima, Two Hundred Thousand People Join Hands for Peace

Source: Ta NEA

As the sun sets today, the 7th of August, the day after the 65th anniversary of the tragedy of Hiroshima, a line of dancers will spread across the island of Crete on the national road from Hania to Agios Nikolaos...

They will form a  human chain embracing the island of Crete  for a length of 200,000 metres in an embrace which hopes to spread the word for peace and brotherhood to every part of the planet.

It is very fitting that this exceptional happening will be hosted by the island of Crete, whose civilisation is one of the oldest in the western world, and whose people contributed much to the Allied victory in the Second World War.

The organizers are the non-profit organization 'Planet Crete', and they hope that the event will make it into the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest one of its kind in the world, involving over 250,000 people, professional Cretan dancers and Friends of Crete.

During the event in Crete, similar events will be happening around Greece, in Syntagma in Piraeus and other cities, as well as in different parts of the world, from New Zealand to Alaska . 

Crete and the whole of Greece, with one voice or rather one step, will be sending out the message of love, peace and brotherhood to all the countries of the world,
inviting them to join in the dance and become “one with the dancers”.

Planet Crete hopes that this event will become an annual celebration of dance and brotherhood for the people of the world! 

Let's all help make it happen, in the way only we Greeks know how!

Let's all Dance!!


More information can be found at Planet Crete

Ta Nea newspaper (the source of our picture above) featured this wonderful event as follows:

Περισσότεροι από 200.000 άνθρωποι θα χορέψουν το Σάββατο στον ρυθµό του πεντοζάλη, σχηµατίζοντας µια ανθρώπινη αλυσίδα που θα «αγκαλιάσει» την Κρήτη από άκρη σ' άκρη, στέλνοντας µηνύµατα συναδέλφωσης σε όλο τον κόσµο....

Read entire article in Greek from Ta Nea  

...And it was a success! 

More than 150,000 people held hands, forming a human chain from one side of the island to the other, and danced!  

“We feel proud. We believe we’ve set a new world record,” Spyros Prevezanos, head of the organizing group Planet Crete told Reuters. 

Tonight we sent a message of hope, which is not related to money. We proved that there are more important values.”

A Guinness World Records spokesman said no record for the biggest Greek dance had previously been set and organizers of Saturday’s event said they expected their world record bid to be accepted...  

Read full article at Reuters

South Australian Premier Mike Rann - Macedonia is as Greek as the Acropolis - Cleared of Racism by Human Rights Commission !

 SOUTH Australian Premier Mike Rann has been cleared of 'racially vilifying' the people of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The Human Rights Commission found Mr Rann had no case to answer for claiming that FYROM was stealing Greek history and culture, an accusation the Premier made in a speech at a Greek festival in Adelaide last year, along with the statement that 'Macedonia is so much Greek like the Acropolis'.

In the speech, Mr Rann also accused FYROMian President Gjorge Ivanov of "stirring up trouble in a most dangerous way" with Greece.

The comments sparked a complaint to the HRC by South Australia's Macedonian community but judge Catherine Branson ruled it to be "lacking in substance".

"I stand on my record of racial and ethnic tolerance. I will not be intimidated by anyone from speaking forthrightly on behalf of historical truth," Mr Rann said.
Read more from  The Australian 

Thank you Premier Rann, for telling it how it is! 

History cannot be hijacked or changed...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Για την Ελλάδα, Ρε Γαμώτο!!!! For Greece, Dammit!!!

On the 6th August of 1992, a very significant Saint's day in the Greek Orthodox Church, Η Μεταμόρφωση του Σωτήρος, one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Olympic Games tοοκ place... 

Voula Patoulidou, became a Greek sporting legend when she was the surprise winner of the Women's 100 m hurdles race at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, gaining Greece's first Gold medal in Athletics and being the first Greek female gold medallist at the same time!!! 

Millions of Greeks around the world watched in amazement as Voula Patoulidou took advantage of USA track star Gail Devers' fall in the 100m hurdles, and lunged her body forward, crossing the line in 12.64 seconds, and breaking a Greek national record that still stands.

On completing that tremendous race, Voula Patoulidou immediately threw her hands in the air, celebrating what she thought was a silver medal...

When she watched the replay of the race on the stadium's big screen, she realised what the rest of the world already knew - that she had won the race and was a gold medallist! At that point, Patoulidou fell to her knees and put her hands over her face in astonishment. 

In the traditional interview to Greek journalists minutes after the race, Voula dedicated her medal to Greece with her historic

'Για την Ελλάδα, ρε γαμώτο!' 

 an expressive phrase that would remain immensely popular in Greece to this day, exactly 18 years later.

'For Greece, dammit!'

A few days earlier,  another young Greek had astounded the world when he won Greece's  first gold medal for weight lifting! During his 202.5 kilo clean and jerk lift he dedicated his victory to Greece and endeared himself forever in the hearts of Greeks all over the world, shouting  

"Για την Ελλάδα!"  "Yia tin Ellada!" "For Greece!" 

It was such an unexpected victory that  Greek television had to make emergency plans to cover the medal ceremony! 

That young man was none other than Pyrros Dimas, who, born in Albania to ethnic Greek parents, came to Greece in 1991 to wear the Greek colours. Pyrros went on to become a legend, winning three gold medals at three successive Olympics and a bronze at his last ever public appearance, at Athens' Magical 2004 Olympic Games. 

At the medal ceremony in Athens, the crowd gave the obviously moved Pyrros a standing ovation,  such an incredibly long, but well-deserved tribute, that the silver medal winner had to wait a full 15 minutes before his name could be called!

The Barcelona Olympics hold a special place in our hearts. They gave Greece an amazing double at a time when Greek success at the Olympics was so limited. Pyrros Dimas and Voula Patoulidou became instant national heroes, and, as in the days of the Ancient Olympics they were given a welcome fit for heroes on their return to Greece, at a wonderful ceremony attended by more than 100,000 people at Athens' original Olympic Panathinaikon Stadium.

For those of us who were lucky enough to be there, the atmosphere of that Olympic homecoming was something else - an incredibly moving and inspirational moment. 

It was a tribute, a thank you from heart from the people of Greece, a most fitting welcome for two young people, who inaugurated a new era for Greek sport and would inspire many many more in the years to come... 

Thank you Voula, Thank you Pyrros!

Σας Ευχαριστούμε! 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Greece Economic Recovery on Track - Joint Statement by the EU and IMF

Never has so much been said so succinctly to so many by so few...

In case you were wondering this is what the IMF said to the people of Greece and the international community today, after the First Review which has taken place over the last few days. 

The report was released by the IMF without bold print but we thought there were a few areas which merited emphasis...

What they didn't tell us is the 'cost' that it will have for the people and although they talk about structural reforms to clamp down on tax evasion,  we think they should have added a paragraph telling us that they strongly recommend that the Greek Government enforce a zero tolerance on corruption, and confiscate all properties whose existence is not justified by the owner's income, no matter how well connected that owner is...

Incidentally, is that an olive branch we see depicted in the IMF's logo? Wonder why?

Press Release No. 10/308
August 5, 2010

Staff teams from the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited Athens during July 26-August 5 for the first quarterly review of the Greek government’s economic program, which is being supported by a EUR 80 billion loan from Euro area countries and a EUR 30 billion Stand-By Arrangement with the Fund. The strategy and key policies remain as described in the May 2010 Letter of Intent and Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (see Country Report No. 10/111).

Our overall assessment is that the program has made a strong start. The end-June quantitative performance criteria have all been met, led by a vigorous implementation of the fiscal program, and important reforms are ahead of schedule. However, important challenges and risks remain.

The contraction in the economy is in line with May program projections: GDP is expected to decline by 4 percent in 2010 and some 2½ percent in 2011. Inflation is higher than expected—we have revised our estimate for 2010 to 4¾ percent—pushed up by indirect tax increases. With no signs of second-round effects, inflation is expected to decline rapidly.

In the fiscal area, the authorities have kept spending significantly below budget limits at the state level. This has offset slippages caused by problems in controlling expenditures at the sub-national level (local governments, hospitals, social security funds), and the overall deficit target for end-June was met. Going forward, to address potential risks to fiscal targets, it is critical to tighten expenditure control and monitoring, in particular at sub-national levels. Another key challenge is to further strengthen tax administration, including to reduce tax evasion by high-income and wealthy individuals. This is essential to secure tax revenues and to promote the overall fairness of the adjustment program.

In the financial sector, there has been a moderate deterioration in capital adequacy as nonperforming loans have increased in line with expectations. Recently, the CEBS stress tests covered more than 90 percent of Greek banking system assets and all but one state-owned bank passed, thus helping to reduce market volatility. We welcome that the government has commissioned a strategic review for the banking sector and a due diligence for state banks. The Financial Stability Fund (FSF), which is soon to become operational, will provide an important backstop to deal with potential capital shortfalls. In our view, the 10 billion euro earmarked for the FSF under the program remains adequate. Continued close monitoring of the financial sector will be important in the period ahead.

Impressive progress is being made on structural reforms. The mission welcomes Parliament’s approval of the landmark pension reform, which is far-reaching by international standards. Substantive labor market reform is also well underway. Implementation of recent tax reform and budget reform is key in order to consolidate fiscal consolidation. Other reforms that are scheduled for early implementation are transportation, where important progress has already been made with liberalization of road haulage, and energy. Restoring competitiveness and boosting potential growth remains critical to the program’s success. The challenge facing the government in this regard will be to overcome resistance from entrenched vested interests to opening-up of closed professions, deregulation, implementation of the services directive, and elimination of barriers to development of tourism and retail.

The Greek government is still unable to access international capital markets except for placement of short-term T-bills. However, market sentiments appear now to be improving. Taking advantage of the breathing space afforded by the large-scale international financial support, the key challenge facing the Greek authorities remains to establish a strong track record of policy implementation in order to regain access to international capital markets.

Next Steps. The staff-level agreement reached with the Greek authorities will pave the way for the conclusion of the first review under the loan facility agreement (euro area) and Stand-By Arrangement (IMF), subject to approval by the Commission, the Eurogroup, and the IMF’s management and Executive Board. Such approval will allow the disbursement of EUR 9 billion (EUR 6.5 billion by the euro area Member States, and EUR 2.5 billion by the IMF).

The mission for the next program review is scheduled for October, 2010.

Source: The IMF   


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