Greek PM Snubs Archbishop Elpidophoros who Apologizes for Turkey Event

Archbishop Elpidophoros apologized for the “pain I inadvertently caused to my Cypriot and Greek-American brothers.” Credit: Goarch

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis cancelled a scheduled meeting with Archbishop Elpidophoros in New York on Friday after the controversy the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in America caused with his presence at the inauguration of the Turkish Center last Monday.

Greek government sources have suggested that the reason for the cancellation was a scheduling conflict after the addition of a meeting with the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal to the Prime Minister’s diary.

However, Athens had expressed irritation over Elpidophoros’ presence at the ceremony for the opening of the Turkevi Center (Turkish House), presided over by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar was also present.

Government spokesman, Giannis Oikonomou, said on Thursday: “We were disturbed by the actions of the Archbishop. The Greek government expresses its dissatisfaction.”

On Tuesday, the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades also cancelled a scheduled meeting with Archbishop Elpidophoros in New York. The two leaders are in New York for the 76th UN General Assembly.

According to state broadcaster CyBC, the official reason given for the cancellation of the meeting was Anastasiades’ tight schedule, but reports said it was actually because the Archbishop had attended the opening of the Turkevi Center.

The Turkevi Center, which will become the hub of Turkish culture in the US, will also house the UN’s permanent mission for Turkey and the Turkish Consulate General.

Elpidophoros apologizes

In a long message through social media, Elpidophoros apologized for the controversy his presence at the Turkey event caused. “I sincerely regret the pain I inadvertently caused to my Cypriot and Greek-American brothers,” he said on Twitter.

The message by the Archbishop is as follows:

As a Greek from Constantinople, my family and I have experienced the terrible consequences of the uprooting from our ancestral homes, like many of my compatriots, but also those from Imvros and Tenedos, due to another escalation of the Cyprus issue in the 70’s. 

I have grown up with this pain, which is why I understand the pain of our Cypriot brothers, as well as their feelings and reactions. I consider them expressions of pain of people who lost everything: property, homelands, dreams, family, relatives. 

So I want to declare to everyone that my presence at Monday’s event could never be a recognition of a calamity, a refugee, an occupation.

My presence has always had the same constant orientation: honest and courageous dialogue, for a future with peace and protection of religious freedom. 

We are all united in defending our national interests, each in his own way and role. But united, committed to the same goal.

I sincerely regret the pain I inadvertently caused to my Cypriot and Greek-American brothers, especially to my beloved flock.

I pray for a just and lasting solution to be found in the martyrdom of Cyprus, as the Cypriot people expect it, based on international law and the protection of human rights, in accordance with UN resolutions, and I work for this purpose. 

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America stands for a century next to Hellenism everywhere, defending its expectations. Our unity is responsibility.


Twitter Will Let Accounts ‘Tip’ Each Other with Bitcoin

Twitter Bitcoin
Social media platform Twitter will start allowing its users to tip each other with Bitcoin. Credit: Deal Drop Images, CC-BY-2.0

Social media platform Twitter announced on Thursday that it will begin allowing its users to send and receive Bitcoin payments. The introduction comes as part of the company’s wider effort to monetize its site.

The popular platform will also move to authenticate its users’ nonfungible tokens– digital objects, most often artworks. Twitter is responding to the fact that users love to post the various NFTs they own on their own profiles, but there is currently no form of authentication to show that the person is posting an NFT they actually own.

Such information exists on the Ethereum blockchain, where NFTs are sold and minted, but there is not yet a way to connect this information with posts on Twitter.

There’s this growing interest among creators to use apps that run on the blockchain,” said Esther Crawford, a product executive helping to improve Twitter’s features. “We want to help creators participate in the promise of an evolving decentralized internet directly on Twitter.”

Twitter will allow Bitcoin payments in a bid to attract more content creators

Twitter hopes that its effort to enhance payment on the platform will attract more content creators, allowing them to monetize their pressence on the platform. Websites like YouTube, Twitch and Patreon offer veritable ways of monetizing content, but Twitter’s format allows content to reach larger and untapped audiences easier, with features that allow users to retweet and like posts onto other user’s timelines.

Although YouTube’s algorithm has long had a “related” and “suggested” video feature, many have complained that this algorithm is vulnerable to sponsored and ‘planted’ results, pushing smaller creators out of site from potential audiences.

Twitter will also be introducing something similar to Patreon and Twitch’s payment subscription features, dubbed “Super Follows” where followers can pay for exclusive content from creators.

Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey has long endorsed cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, frequently tweeting about it to his followers. Dorsey also has a passion for NFTs, and minted his first ever tweet on the blockchain, selling it for over $2.9 million.

NFTs have become a mainstay of the decentralized internet.

Many are jumping at the opportunity to make landmark moments in internet culture their own digital asset and transforming the blockchain into an immaterial museum in the process. Minting these moments as NFTs contextualizes them in a digital form that reflects the culture they produced.

NFTs have also faced backlash over their toll on the environment, a criticism they share with Ethereum and cryptocurrency at large. The debate over the energy usage involved in minting NFTs rocked the art world, causing heated denouncement from artists who believed the tokens to be a “ecological nightmare pyramid scheme.”


What Questions Did Ancient Greeks Ask the Oracles?

View of Delph
View of Delphi. In ancient times this was a sacred place that served as the seat of Pythia, the great oracle who was consulted about important decisions. Credit. Wikipedia/Public domain.

Ancient Greeks were curious people and they would frequently ask questions about the world and themselves, as the writings of philosophers of the times indicate. At the same time, in some aspects at least, they were like modern people who try to discern their own futures by searching for answers from astrologers, coffee grounds, tea leaves, or psychics.

In ancient days, Greeks went to oracles to obtain the answers they wanted. After extensive research, Professor Mika Kajava from the University of Helsinki found some of the most common questions ancient Greeks asked the oracles. 

Kajava found that the concerns and wishes of ancient Greeks were not very different from the ones modern Greeks have. And like today’s Christian Orthodox faithful who pray to God and ask for guidance and answers, the Greeks of the old days ran to the oracles asking very similar questions.

Priestess Pythia, the oracle of Delphi

The Delphic oracle was the most prestigious, with both kings and common people asking their questions about their future plans and waiting to receive a response about what the gods thought of them. The Pythia, who presided over the holy sanctuary of Delphi, is the best known priestess, or oracle.

Lycurgus Consulting the priestess Pythia at the Greek Oracle of Delphi
Lycurgus Consulting the Priestess Pythia at the Oracle of Delphi. Credit: Wikipedia/Public domain

Delphi became so busy that long lines would form on the certain days of the month on which the priestess could be consulted and, in later times, several oracular priestesses would operate at once. But consultants had to be careful how they interpreted the — often unclear — answers of the oracle.

Questions ancient Greeks asked of the oracles

“Will I be happy with the woman I’m marrying?” “Will I have children?” “Will I find a good job?” “Will my next journey to the colonies be dangerous?” “To which gods should I sacrifice to stay in good health?” These are some of the questions ancient Greeks asked the oracles — never getting a clear answer.

Some of the people visited the oracles asking questions in order to solve crimes and mysteries, expecting the wisdom of the gods and their representatives on earth, such as “Who stole my sheep?” “Who poisoned Aristovoula?” “Is the child my wife is carrying mine?”

A very common question ancient Greeks asked the oracles was: “To which god should I pray, in order to see my business prosper?”

But the answers were almost always enigmatic. King Croesus of Lydia asked the oracle whether or not he should go to war on his neighboring kingdom. The oracle replied that if he went to war, a great kingdom would fall. Croesus interpreted this as being his enemy’s — but it turned out to be his own kingdom.

When the Persian Army under Xerxes approached Athens, the Athenians wanted to know whether to fight the Persians, and of course they went to Delphi to ask the Pythia.  Ambassadors also consulted the oracles as to what policies were the best to pursue.

How Ancient Greece Shaped the Thought of Dante

Antonio Cotti’s “Dante in Verona,” also known as “Dante is Derided in Verona.” The influence of Greek thought on Dante and in turn his influence on later Greek poetry will be the focus of an upcoming series of conferences to be held in Athens and Nicosia titled “Dante and Greece.” Credit: Christie’s/ Public Domain

Dante, the beloved poet of Italy, who penned the monumental and immortal works Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, never visited Greece — but his thought was heavily influenced by the ancient Greeks and his poetry in turn influenced Greek and Cypriot poetry forever after.

An international conference titled “Dante and Greece” will take place on Monday, September 27, in Nicosia, Cyprus, followed by additional meetings in Athens on September 30 and then round table events in four Italian cities: Bari, Salerno, Milan and Ravenna.

It will end on November 20, 2021 at Dante’s tomb in Ravenna — a place of pilgrimage for all those who revere the poet — with a recitation of his verses in Greek.

Dante Led Toward Heaven by Virgil — a Devotee of Homer

Some of these individuals were drawn indirectly from Greek mythology and Homeric epics, while others were actual historic personages, down to Dante’s own time of the 1200s.

At that time, Greek was not only a language and civilization from the past, but also a present (and often rival) religious and political entity’s according to the organizers of the conferences. As they note, Latins related to each layer of these entities — ancient pagan, early Christian, and contemporary Byzantine — differently than did the Greeks.

The primary subject of the recent study was the search for the many elements of Greek thought that can be found in Dante’s works — especially in his “Inferno,” “Purgatorio” and “Paradiso,” part of his poetic cycle called the “Divine Comedy,” some of the greatest works of poetry ever written.

The meetings to be held in Nicosia and Athens will explore the extraordinary amount of influence that the 13th century poet had — and still has — on Greek and Cypriot poetry.

Dante wrote his vision of his own personal journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise in Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, peopling these realms with figures from history, including many of his personal heroes from the Greek past, including Homer, whom he lauded as “singing master of the earth.”

His Catholic worldview also heavily influenced his life and his writings, however, especially perhaps The Inferno.

Dante Believed only Reason Could Lead to Paradise

Dante, as a very well-educated man of the time, was very familiar with the history and literature of the classical world. In The Inferno, he expresses his admiration for Greco-Roman history, literature, mythology, and philosophy, but he still could not bring himself to say that his Classical forebears would be able to enter Paradise.

Dante believed that Virgil, as someone who lived before Christ, could not enter heaven because of that fact. While he admired the classical Roman world he firmly believed that no one other than Christians could enter heaven of salvation to God. In Canto II, however, Dante says he is unworthy to make the journey with Virgil.

The object of his undying love, Beatrice, who embodies the concept of Divine Love itself in Dante’s cycle of poems, uses Virgil to lead Dante through the realms because the Roman poet (who himself was  heavily influenced by the Greek poet Homer) embodies the concept of Reason.

It is only Reason, Dante believes, that can lead him as a Christian to reach Divine Love.

Virgil convinces Dante that he has indeed been sent by God to guide Dante through the terrors of Hell — indicating that the wisdom of the ancients, who lived long before Christ, was invaluable in finding one’s way not only through the world but to Heaven as well.

In Canto III of The Inferno, Dante and Virgil arrive not at a burning lake of fire, as Hell is often described in Christian sources, but a place that, at least at first, resembles the place where the dead dwelled according to Ancient Greek beliefs.

They arrive at the first river of Hell, Acheron, which was part of the Underworld, ruled by the Greek god Hades, according to Greek mythology.

Charon, the ferryman, is of course another figure from Greek mythology who has an integral part to play in the Inferno. In Canto IV, Dante and Virgil arrive at the first circle, Limbo, in which the souls of what he calls the “Virtuous Pagans” reside.

Dante acknowledges that, although they lived before the time of Christ, these brilliant and otherwise outstanding personages were “sinless” — but still they cannot be allowed into heaven as portrayed by the Christian church.

Jan Ziolkowski, the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin at Harvard University, served as Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection from 2007 to 2020. His scholarship has focuses on the literature, especially in Latin, of the Middle Ages.

Ziolkowski’s recently released book, “Dante and the Greeks”, published by Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in 2014, was the result of an interdisciplinary symposium that was held at Dumbarton Oaks in 2010.

Ziolkowski says of Dante that since he was the first poet to write in vernacular Italian rather than Latin, he “received the Latin Middle Ages but transmitted them in the vernacular” along with the writers Chaucer, Chrétien de Troyes, and the poets of the Romance of the Rose.

As Ziolkowski notes in Dante and the Greeks, “In the medieval or Byzantine period, the tensions between East and West (or Greek and Latin) modified, but did not diminish, as the ownership of Romanness itself came under dispute between the two linguistic, cultural and political regions, and differing theological positions on various issues pulled them into conflict.

“Just as in considering occasional cultural tensions between any two nations today, the question is whether shared characteristics and interests between seemingly opposed groups exceed the perceived differences.”

The twelve contributors at the upcoming conference will discuss the presence of ancient Greek poetry, philosophy, and science (including astrology, cosmography, and geography) in Dante’s writings, as well as the figures from the history of Greece who populate his works.

The conference, which can be accessed at this Youtube channel, was made possible with funding from the National Committee for Celebrations of the Seven Hundred Years Since the Death of Dante Alighieri and promoted by a series of Italian, Cypriot and Greek associations and institutions.

These include the Italian Philhellenic Society, the Italian Institute of Culture of Athens, the Athens and Nicosia committees of the Dante Alighieri Society, the SEPI Association and ETP Books publishing in Athens, the Lectura Dantis Metelliana, and the Department of Humanities and the Department of Human, Philosophical and Formation Sciences at the University of Salerno and the Department of Humanities at University of Bari.

The scientific director of the project is professor Irene Chirico from the University of Salerno. She will be joined by a prestigious scientific committee made up of professors Davide Canfora from the University of Bari, Paolo Cesaretti, from the University of Bergamo, Giulio Maria Chiodi from the University of Insubria, Chrysa Damianaki of the University of Salento, Rosa Giulio from the University of Salerno, Michael Pieris, from the University of Cyprus, and Ioannis Tsolkas and Gerasimos Zoras, from the University of Athens.

There will be a series of round table discussions held after the Athens and Nicosia conferences, where the results of the research will be discussed. The discussions will be streamed on the Youtube channel of the Philhellenic Society of Italy.

Andrea Cavallari, the Italian ambassador to Cyprus, will attend the meeting in Nicosia; while Patrizia Falcinelli, Italian ambassador to Greece, will attend the Dante event in Athens.


The Gambling Legend That was Nick the Greek

nick the greek gambling legend
Nick the Greek. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

“Nick the Greek” will forever be remembered as one of the most famous legends of gambling in the United States.

On Christmas Eve 1966, “Nick the Greek” took his last breath, leaving behind an almost-mythical life spent as the high-stakes “Gentleman of gambling.”

Many Greeks have made history in the United States, but Nick Dandolos is one of few who is remembered the most. Frank Sinatra and Aristotle Onassis were two of his biggest fans.

The story of Nick the Greek is the stuff that old Hollywood movies were made of. He went from rags to riches 75 times, and it is estimated that during his illustrious gambling career he won and lost more than 500 million dollars.

But as fate would have it in the end, the legendary gambler died penniless, without any property at all.

The life of gambling legend Nick the Greek

Nicholaos Andreas Dandolos was born on April 27, 1883 in Rethymnon, Crete. His family came from Smyrna and they were well-off. His father sold carpets and his godfather was a shipbuilder.

As a young man, Nick studied philosophy at the Evangelical School of Greece. At the age of 18, his grandfather gave him an allowance of $150 a week, a massive sum at the time, to go to the United States.

His first stop was Chicago, but after an unsuccessful relationship with a young woman, Nick the Greek pulled up stakes and moved to Montreal, Canada.

It was there that he began gambling when he met a horse racer who taught him the secrets of that sport of champions.

In just six months, the young Greek managed to win $500,000 — which he lost as easily and quickly as he had won.

It was when he returned to Chicago that he decided to become a gambler. He soon became a connoisseur of card playing and dice and started winning at card clubs.

The Greek gambling wiz became the master of the bluff. Card club owners tried to recruit him as they believed that it would be better to have him on their side of the table than as a player.

Nick the Greek was known to wager incredible sums

Nick the Greek soon became a legend at Chicago clubs because of the large sums he was gambling.

It was not unusual for him to win or lose $100,000 (some $6.5 million in value today) per day. On a roll of the dice or a game of poker, he would bet thousands. Soon the legend was born.

His wins were as gigantic as his losses. One time in New York, Nick the Greek lost $1.6 million on a dice tournament that lasted 12 days.

In another event, he left a seven-hour poker game with $500,000 in his pocket.

When gambling became legal in the state of Nevada in 1931, Dandolos moved permanently to Las Vegas.

The casinos in “Sin City” became his ultimate playground and he was one of its greatest attractions.

Despite generous offers by casino owners such as Benny Binion, as well as mafia bosses, Nick the Greek stayed independent and never worked for anyone.

Five-month-long poker game paved way for World Series of Poker

At some point, Binion invited Johnny Moss, the only other gambler who could match Nick the Greek, to play against him.

Binion took advantage of the situation to help promote his casino, the Horseshoe, by advertising the two poker giants’ competition at his place.

The whole world was watching and Binion would be the ultimate winner, because no matter which of the two players won, the crowds flocked to his casino.

The battle of the two poker giants lasted five months. At the time Dandolos was 57 and Moss 42. The game was exhausting and the two players only took breaks to eat and sleep.

In order to keep the audience’s interest, the two gamblers were confronted with a number of variations of the poker game.

Day after day, huge amounts of hands were changing, and thousands of people watched with bated breath.

And so one afternoon, as Nick was penniless — having lost $4 million — he stood up and said to his opponent: “Mr. Moss, I will have to let you go.”

Then he walked away, and, according to friends, found consolation in the writings of Plato.

Years later, that memorable battle would give birth to a current legend of gambling the World Series of Poker.

Nick the Greek at the center of many popular stories

Stories and anecdotes about the gambling legend have been widely told throughout the years.

In a historic poker game in New York, with VIP viewers like the King of Egypt, Farouk I, Nick was confronted on the table with the “godfather” of the New York Mafia, Frank Costello.

After Dandolos left the Italian mobster without a cent and made to leave, the mafia boss declared to him: “Greek, you leave the table because you are a coward!”

Nick then wisely asked King Farouk to shuffle the deck, while saying to Costello: “And now, amico, pull a card. The biggest one wins $500,000.” All the mafia boss did was light a cigar, pick up his coat — and leave, accompanied by his goons.

The next day the New York Times praised the Greek gambler as the undisputed poker king who had humiliated Costello. This is when Frank Sinatra, Telly Savalas and Aristotle Onassis became his friends.

But the Greek immigrant had many other famous friends already — even Albert Einstein.

As hard as it may be to believe today, Nick the Greek would indeed often go on a night out with the great physicist, but fearing that his patrons would not respect his brilliant friend, he would often introduce him as “Little Al from Princeton.” (Einstein was a member of the Institute of Applied Studies at Princeton University).

Einstein, however, reportedly enjoyed himself a great deal on these outings.

In another memorable incident of his adventurous life, Nick lost $300,000 on a New Year’s Eve game.

A few minutes before the New Year, he moaned: “I hope the change of the year will change my luck as well.” At dawn he won $1.25 million — which he then lost to the roulette and horse races.

The death of the great gambler

Near the end of his life, broke once again, Nick the Greek was found playing small-stakes poker games in California.

When an admirer asked him how he could play for pennies when a few years back he was playing for millions, Dandolos replied: “It’s still poker, isn’t it?”

The great Greek gambling legend was mostly playing for the game, not the money.

Over his career, he gave about $20 million to charity, which would today be equivalent to $400 million.

Dandolos continued to play in California until his death at the age of 83.

At the time of his death, some wealthy and influential friends got together and decided to give him the most elaborate funeral they could imagine, with a golden casket, and buried with all the respect and honors he deserved.

Everyone came to his funeral, all his famous and wealthy friends from the old days, from the biggest stars to royalty, from the most powerful mob bosses to the biggest gamblers.

Everyone from the heyday of gambling and show business was there.

The first one at the funeral, not surprisingly, was Frank Sinatra. Crying like a baby, Sinatra said in his eulogy, “Nick, you were so pure and honest that the only properties that you ever claimed were your charities.”

Why Greek Yogurt Is Considered the Best in the World

greek yogurt
Greek yogurt with honey and strawberries. The healthy dairy product has gained popularity around the world for its taste and nutritional benefits. Credit: Janine/ CC BY 2.0

In the last decade, there has been an astronomic rise in the demand for Greek yogurt, a healthy alternative to other yogurts, outside of its home country, especially in the United States.

Once hard to come by outside of Greece, the country’s famed healthy yogurt is now available in hundreds of flavors and varieties in supermarkets around the world.

And that’s only understandable, since the distinctively thick yogurt has long been lauded by doctors and nutritionists for its health benefits, and consumers love its taste and texture.

Many specialists recommend it to those looking to make positive dietary choices as a healthy and nutritious alternative to the standard, thinner yogurt.

Why? Quite simply, Greek yogurt has a lot more protein, and far less sugar than regular yogurt. This is due to the way it is made.

Is Greek yogurt healthy?

Traditionally, yogurt from Greece can be made with sheep’s or cow’s milk. Usually, the Greek yogurt people buy at the grocery store is made from cow’s milk.

The biggest difference between Greek yogurt and other yogurts is that Greek yogurt is strained, removing the whey and creating a creamier, thicker texture.

The higher protein and lower sugar content in Greek yogurt come from the straining process.

The high protein content can help you feel fuller for longer, and also makes the strained yogurt a good source of protein for vegetarians. It’s also packed with probiotics, which help with digestion.

Tzatziki. This beloved Greek dip is made with Greek yogurt, garlic, and cucumbers. Credit: Nikodem Nijaki /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The higher fat content may scare some health-conscious people away, but there are lower and non-fat options available for those who follow a low-fat diet.

Yogurt made the Greek way pairs well with both savory and sweet dishes, as it has a pleasant taste and texture, without being too sweet or too sour.

Additionally, it can be substituted for sour cream and heavy cream in nearly all recipes that call for that calorie-laden food, including dips.

Greek cuisine is loaded with recipes that include the super-thick yogurt, such as tzatziki and sweets that combine the yogurt with nuts, fruits, and honey.

It makes a great addition to smoothies, or even as a side dish for spicy and savory meals.
Its creamy, rich texture makes the Greek dairy product especially delectable, like a decadent dessert, despite the fact that it’s really a health food.

If you’re still buying regular yogurt, do yourself a favor and try Greece’s iconic yogurt instead. You can enjoy the creamy texture and delicious taste while also reaping the health benefits!

EU vs. Apple: The Fight Over Universal Charger Cables

EU Apple
Apple opposes EU regulation for universal chargers for its devices. Credit: Public Domain

How many times have iPhone users asked a colleague in the office for a charger, to no avail, as most of them carry the Android-based mini-USB, or USB/Type C adapters? Well, the EU has put forth a plan which would enable all mobile phone makers to agree to a universal charging cable.

As expected, Apple has raised major objections to the proposal.

The European Union on Thursday said it will impose a universal charger for smartphones, setting up a clash with Apple and its widely used iPhone connector cable. The European Commission believes a standard cable for all devices will cut back on electronic waste, but Apple says a one-size fits all charger will stop innovation and create more pollution.

“EU consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission. Brussels believes tech manufacturers, including Apple, should have done this already themselves.

“We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions,” said Vestgager. “Now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger.” The plan is that the already widely used USB-C charger and port will become the standard for all new devices being sold in the EU. Aside from ease of use, the EU Commission wants to reduce the amount of so-called e-waste.

Consumers currently have to decide between three main chargers to power their phones: Lightnings, for Apple handsets, micro-USBs, widely used on most other mobile phones, and USB-Cs, which are increasingly being used. That range is greatly simplified from 2009, when dozens of different types of chargers were bundled with mobile phones, creating piles of electronic garbage when users changed brands.

Apple strongly resisting EU charger regulations

Apple, which already uses USB-C connectors on some of its iPad devices and laptop computers, insists legislation to force a universal charger for all mobiles in the European Union is unwarranted. “We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,” Apple said.

On top of forcing tech companies to only sell devices with the USB-C port, they will also forbid them from including a charger in the sale, meaning consumers will be able to use chargers they already own. EU figures suggest 420 million phones and devices which would come under this directive were sold in 2020 alone.

EU offers tech giants transition period

The European Commission had long defended a voluntary agreement it made with the device industry that was set in place in 2009 and saw a big reduction in cables, but Apple refused to abide by it. In the commission’s proposal, which could yet be considerably changed before ratification, smartphone makers will be given a 24-month transition period, giving “ample time” for companies to fall in line.

Apple said that it believed the two year transition period would be a major worry for the industry as it could prevent the sale of existing equipment. They added that “unfortunately this legislation will disrupt a thriving ecosystem, create electronic waste, and greatly inconvenience users.”

The company says that innovation regarding chargers will be stunted if the EU imposes these measures.

The universal charger plan has been welcomed, however, by the European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation (ANEC). They released a statement saying “the present plethora of chargers – both within brands and among brands – represents unnecessary costs to the consumer and to the environment in the extraction of the raw materials for their construction and in their disposal.”

German Chancellor Merkel Exits with Good Reviews — But Not from Greece

Merkel Greece
Departing German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Credit: Michael Panse/Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is leaving office after 16 years, receiving favorable  assessment internationally, the same has not been forthcoming from Greece.

According to the Pew Research Center, the departing German Chancellor has been rated positively in almost all of the 16 advanced economies surveyed in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

However, Greece stands out as the nation where Merkel’s work is rated negatively by seven out of 10 Greeks.

Along with its Chancellor, the majority of Greeks do not have a positive view of the nation of Germany in regard to its overall influence in the European Union.

Specifically, only 30 percent of respondents in Greece believe in Merkel to do right in global affairs and only 32 percent have a favorable view of Germany.

angela merkel
Credit: Pew Research Center

Angela Merkel and Greece’s bailout

The economic crisis that led to the signing of the first bailout program in May, 2010 is the beginning of Greece’s disgruntlement with the European Union and Germany.

Germany, as the biggest economic power in the European Union, is viewed as the center of decision-making, even though the EU seat is in Brussels.

Greece signed the second bailout MoU with the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund — the so-called troika — in 2012.

It was then that Merkel and Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble became the main target by the Greeks for the austere measures implemented.

When the leftist Syriza party, with leader Alexis Tsipras, started gaining popularity in 2014, Merkel and Schaeuble became the red flag of the indignant Greeks.

One of the most famous pre-election quotes by Tsipras was “Go back, madam Merkel,” words he shouted at an election rally, receiving thunderous applause.

When Syriza came to power in January 2015 and Tsipras signed the third bailout program in July of that year with the blessings of Merkel, public sentiment in Greece became more sour.

For many Greeks, Merkel sacrificed their country to save the euro zone, because a Grexit would also mean a blow to the common European currency and the bloc as well.

It was a period when Germany and Merkel seemed like the source of all evils for Greece.

When the German Chancellor visited Greece in January 2019, violent protests broke out with demonstrators clashing with police.

Recession and the refugee crisis

Along with the signing of the third bailout program full of harsh austerity measures, Greece was hit by an enormous influx of refugees from Syria in the summer of 2015.

Along with the Syrian refugees, there was a huge inflow of undocumented migrants who took advantage of the overall turmoil and crossed over to Greece with the aim to move to richer Central and Northern Europe.

Germany and other European countries accommodated thousands of refugees and migrants. Yet, Greece had to bear the brunt of hundreds of thousands of stranded asylum seekers who had an easy entry point from the coasts of Turkey.

The March 2016 deal the EU signed with Turkey for the return of refugee from Greece to Turkey failed and created a serious problem for Greece as thousands overcrowded the reception camps on five islands.

Germany’s favoritism to Turkey

In the later years of the economic and migrant crisis, Turkey embarked upon a series of illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, and almost daily violations of Greek airspace.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other top officials make repeated statements against Greece, challenging the country’s sovereign rights in the Aegean.

At the same time, Turkey has violated Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone by drilling for oil and gas, while trying to separate the Turkish-occupied part from the rest of the island.

Repeated calls from the Greek side to the EU to implement sanctions against Turkey for its illegal behavior against two EU member states fell on deaf ears.

Greece is aware of the special relationship Germany has with Turkey as more than three million people of Turkish origin are naturalized German citizens. Also, Germany has substantial economic interests in Turkey.

Subsequently, Merkel has been accused by Greece for this favoritism, for prioritizing Germany’s economic wellbeing at the expense of two fellow EU member states.

Angela Merkel and World War II reparations

In April 2019, Greece once more opened the issue of war reparations from Germany, estimated to be the equivalent of 279-289 billion euros following an earlier Greek committee’s assessment.

Greeks suffered tremendously during the Nazi German Army occupation of the country from April 1941 through October 1944. Even today’s German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had recently described as “unimaginable” horrors.

Tens of thousands were killed in reprisals as Greeks mounted what historians would later hail as a heroic resistance against the Wehrmacht, with entire villages being wiped out between 1941 and 1944.

By the time the occupation ended, an estimated 300,000 people had died from famine and the country’s Jewish community had been almost entirely obliterated.

Berlin has long argued that recompense was delivered when, under a bilateral accord, it paid Athens 115 million Deutsche marks in 1960.

The Merkel government officially rejected once again Greece’s claim for war reparations  in October 2019, adding more power to the argument against the departing German Chancellor.

PM Mitsotakis Exalts Greek Economy in Meeting New York Leaders

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The Greek Premier interviewed by Bloomberg TV on Thursday. Credit: PM’s press office

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday in New York that the growth of the Greek economy may exceed an impressive 5.9 percent for the entire year.

In an interview for Bloomberg television, Mitsotakis hit an optimistic note on the prospects of the Greek economy, stressing that “the growth rate reached 16.2 percent in the second quarter of 2021 and a forecast of 5.9 percent may not be high enough.”

He also said that foreign investment interest remained high as well.

In the interview, the Greek leader, who is in New York for the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations, touched on several issues, including the climate crisis, energy cost, and relations with Turkey.

He spoke of Greece’s plans to manage the climate crisis, which had hit the Mediterranean basin hard, with the aid of EU Recovery Funds and foresaw that electricity bills would not rise very high in the next 3 to 6 months, while efforts were being made at Greek and EU level to absorb the repercussions of a global rise in cost.

He revealed that Greece may shut down coal-fired power plants even sooner than planned. “We said we would do it by 2028 …I think it will be possible to do it by 2025.”

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Greek PM Mitsotakis meets with Michael Bloomberg in New York on Thursday. Credit: PM’s press office

Asked about the soaring energy costs, he said the Greek government has taken steps to limit its impact on consumers. He also said that Greece has called for the creation of a European Union-funded mechanism to use revenue from additional sales of carbon permits to curb the impact of soaring energy costs.

“We have made a commitment to support electricity users in Greece. We are doing it by providing state funding but also encouraging electricity producers to absorb part of the cost increase,” he explained, adding that Greeks “will not see significant increases” in electricity bills in the next three to six months.

In terms of Turkey, he said relations were improved this year, but there were complicated legal issues related to marine zone delimitations. Similar issues with Italy and Egypt had been resolved through agreements with each country, he said, but in Turkey’s case the only resolution would come through International Law.

Collaboration with Turkey is also necessary, the Greek premier said, on the migration issue, to control migration flows and fight the human trafficking in the Aegean Sea successfully.

He also forecast that 2022 will be a bumper year for tourism in Greece.

Meeting with Microsoft’s Brad Smith

Mitsotakis also met with the President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, with whom, government sources say, he has an excellent personal relationship.

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The Greek Premier meets with Microsoft’s Brad Smith. Credit: PM’s Press Office

In 2020, Brad Smith announced a large investment in Greece, which is expected to reach one billion euros ($1.17 billion) and — as he noted — shows the company’s confidence in the Greek economy.

As part of the plan, Microsoft announced its intent to build new datacenters which will establish a Microsoft Cloud region in the country, adding Greece to the world’s largest cloud infrastructure footprint and delivering access to low-latency, enterprise-grade cloud services.

To support citizens in both their professional and personal ambitions, Microsoft also announced its plan to give digital technologies skills to approximately 100,000 people in Greece by 2025.

“It is an important day for Greece,” Smith declared, adding that this is “the biggest investment of Microsoft in Greece during the 28 years of its presence in the country.”

Mitsotakis to speak at the UN General Assembly on Friday

The issue of combatting the climate crisis will have a prominent place in the speech of the Greek Prime Minister at the 76th UN General Assembly, on Friday. Mitsotakis is expected to underline the important initiatives which have already been adopted by the Greek government to address the climate crisis, noting that decisive action is urgent, otherwise the consequences will be disastrous for everyone.

The Greek PM’s goal at the UN and during his scheduled meeting with business leaders, according to government sources, is to strengthen the dynamism and openness of the country, while emphasizing its leading role in the wider region, but also in Europe.

He will also show that Greece is firmly at the forefront of meeting modern challenges, taking initiatives for the new challenges, such as climate change and environmental protection.

Among the Prime Minister’s goals will also be the strengthening of relations with the Greek community. He will be meeting with members and representatives of the Greek Diaspora at a dinner on Thursday evening as well.

On Friday, Mitsotakis will visit Ground Zero in New York, where he will be given a tour of the brand-new St. Nicholas Shrine by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. It was built on the site of the old church destroyed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

New Conference to Shed Light on Greek War of Independence

Harvard University Massachusetts Hall. A new conference, beginning tomorrow, will shed new light on the glorious Greek War of Independence, begun 200 years ago this year. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

On the occasion of the Bicentennial of the Greek War of Independence, the George Seferis Chair of Modern Greek Studies at Harvard University and the Constantine Karamanlis Chair of Hellenic and European Studies of the Fletcher School of Tufts University are sponsoring an international conference called “New Perspectives on the Greek Revolution.”

Beginning on Friday, a group of eminent scholars from different disciplines will discuss their  important event in European history in a comparative and diachronic perspective. Special emphasis will be based on the broader cultural, political, and economic context of the Greek War of Independence.

The conference will take place from September 24-25, 2021.

Introductory remarks will be made by Stratos Efthymiou, Consul General of Greece in Boston, and professors Constantine Arvanitopoulos (the Karamalis Chair) and Panagiotis Roilos ( the Seferis Chair). The conference  will feature the following speakers: Preofessors Mark Beissinger, Alan Herinkson, Costas Douzinas, Patreica Higonnet, Christina Koulouri, Konstantinos Botsiou, Nikos Alivatsos, Sophia Laiou, AlexandrosKyrou, Dimitris Keridis, Elizabeth Prodromou, Spyridon Vlacholpoulos, Kostas Lavdas, Evangelos Prontzas, Kostas Kostas, George Alogoskoufis, and Petros Vamvakas.

The Greek War of Independence was waged after more than 400 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire.

In 1814, three like-minded Diaspora Greeks came together in Odessa, in present-day Ukraine, at that time home to a thriving Greek community.

The three men formed a secret society called the Filiki Eteria (The Society of Friends)  with the decidedly “unfriendly” purpose of initiating an armed uprising to rid Greece of the Ottomans.

The three founders were Nikolaos Skoufas, from the province of Arta, Emmanuil Xanthos, from Patmos and Athanasios Tsakalov, from Ioannina.

The Filiki Eteria recruited mostly Phanariot Greeks from Russia, local chieftains from Greece, and Serbs into its ranks.

Two of its early outstanding members were Alexandros Ypsilantis, a prince and high-ranking officer of the Imperial Russian Cavalry, and Moldovan lord Michael Soutzos.

Future Greek War of Independence leaders such as Theodoros Kolokotronis, Odysseas Androutsos, Dimitris Plapoutas and the Metropolitan Germanos of Old Patras joined the effort as well.

In October of 1820, Ypsilantis decided to begin the revolution in Moldova.

The Turkish army met Ypsilanti’s men at Iasi. The Sacred Band and the army of volunteers were slaughtered in the Battle at Iasi.

Nevertheless, the revolutionary seed of the Filiki Eteria was planted, and the slogan “Liberty or Death” began to be uttered more and more on the lips of Greeks. The tide had turned.

To see the full agenda of the conference and lineup of speakers, please visit the following link: tiny and tiny

To register for the conference please visit this site.

For those who would like to view the conference via Zoom, please register here.