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Sea Ice Appears in Greece as Polar Temperatures Sweep Country

Sea ice Greece
Sea ice appeared in northern Greece as sub-zero temperatures follow blizzard. Credit: Greek Reporter

Sea ice, usually found in remote polar oceans, appeared on Tuesday in northern Greece as the country is hit with sub-zero temperatures.

A video uploaded from the village Sagiada in Thesprotia, Epirus, shows a thin layer of ice on the surface of the sea which is a rare phenomenon at least in Greece.

Sea Ice usually occurs in the Arctic and Antarctic, Not Greece

Sea ice is simply frozen ocean water. It forms, grows, and melts in the ocean. In contrast, icebergs, glaciers, ice sheets, and ice shelves all originate on land. Sea ice occurs in both the Arctic and Antarctic.

The village of Sagiada on the shores of the Ionian Sea is the westernmost point of mainland Greece.

The river Thyamis flows into sea 4 km south of the village. There are plains in the southern part of the municipal unit and mountains on the Albanian border. The village Sagiada is 10 km west of Filiates, 15 km northwest of the capital of Thesprotia, Igoumenitsa.

The lowest temperature recorded in Greece was -18.1 ° C.

The sea ice appeared as Greece is trying to recover from the heavy snowstorms that swept the eastern parts of the country including Athens and the Greek islands.

The Meteo.gr weather service reported that in the early morning hours of Wednesday it recorded low negative temperatures in most of the mainland, with the lowest value being recorded in Lefkochori, Fthiotida with -18.1 ° C.

According to a press statement, 288 meteorological stations of the network of automatic meteorological stations in Greece recorded negative minimum temperatures, of which 44 meteorological stations recorded temperatures below -10 ° C.

The following map, with the color scale, presents the minimum temperatures in the early morning hours of Wednesday 26/01/2022, as recorded by the network of automatic meteorological stations of the National Observatory of Athens / Meteo.gr.

temperatures Greece
Credit: Meteo.gr

Trump Discovers “Trumpcoin” 5 Years on and Threatens to Sue

Trump
Former President Donald Trump has discovered the existence of a Trump-themed cryptocurrency five years after its inception. Credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY 2.0

Former President Donald Trump finally discovered “Trumpcoin,” a cryptocurrency bearing his name, five years after its inception.

Trump’s son Eric Trump aired his father’s grievances with the coin on Twitter Tuesday, posting “Fraud Alert: It has come to our attention that someone is promoting a crypto currency called “TrumpCoin” (Symbol “TRUMP.”) This has NOTHING to do with our family, we do not authorize the use and we are in no way affiliated with this group. Legal action will be taken.”

Despite the intense backlash from the Trump family, the coin itself has always claimed to be in support of Trump and his followers:

“The TrumpCoin Patriot loves Freedom, God, Family and feels a sense of pride in contributing to society, They stand up against corruption, support integrity, preserve our individual rights in a free society and respect those flags around the world that represent freedom,’ the cryptocurrency’s statement read.

Trumpcoin’s founders replied to the family’s tweet threatening legal action by asserting that they never claimed to be in business with the former president or his family.

Trump: Bitcoin “Seems like a scam”

Trump has frequently spoken out against cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin, in public and on Twitter, casting doubt on the digital currency’s sustainability.

“I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air,” he tweeted in 2019.

“We have only one real currency in the USA, and it is stronger than ever, both dependable and reliable. It is by far the most dominant currency anywhere in the World, and it will always stay that way. It is called the United States Dollar!” another tweet read.

Trump has also argued that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are  “potentially a disaster waiting to happen” during an appearance on Fox Business.

When asked if he himself has invested in Bitcoin, Trump stated that he “likes the currency of the United States” and argued that cryptocurrencies hurt the US dollar.

The US “should be invested in our currency” rather than in cryptocurrencies, Trump claimed.

He highlighted that the nature and origins of Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies remain cloudy, stating: “They may be fake. Who knows what they are? They certainly are something that people don’t know very much about. I have not been a big fan,” the former US President said.

On the same program in June of 2021, Trump stated that Bitcoin “seems like a scam,” and that there should be more regulations placed on Bitcoin so that it does not compete with the US dollar.

“I want the dollar to be the currency of the world,” Trump stated.

“I don’t think we should have all of the bitcoins in the world out there. I think they should regulate them very very high, but the currency should be the dollar,” Trump insisted.

The comments angered proponents of cryptocurrencies, some of whom have made millions playing the cryptocurrency market.

Stefanos Tsitsipas Cruises Through to His Third Australian Open Semifinal

Stefanos Tsitsipas Australian Open
Stefanos Tsitsipas eyes a place in the final of the Australian Open. Credit: Instagram/Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas put a flawless performance to defeat Italian Jannik Sinner 6-3 6-4 6-2 on Wednesday and advance to his third Australian Open semifinal.

The Greek champion improves could face a rematch of last year’s Aussie Open semi-final against Daniil Medvedev, if the Russian beats Felix Auger-Aliassime later on Wednesday.

After surviving an up-and-down five-setter against American No. 1 Taylor Fritz, the World No. 4 maintained an elite level throughout the two-hour, five-minute contest on Rod Laver Arena.

Tsitsipas, who won all four of his breakpoints, did his damage early in each set. On serve, he was pushed as far as deuce just once and never faced a breakpoint.

“Jannik is a very good player. So I tried to focus on my best shots and it paid off more than I thought,” Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. “I am very, very happy with the way I served today and the way I came in and used my tactics in today’s match structure. Having the crowd support is truly unbelievable.”

Heavy rain forced a 20-minute delay as the roof was closed and the court dried.

“It is part of the game,” Tsitsipas said on the roof closing. “I knew I was heading towards the right direction with the game I managed to create from the start of the match. The conditions changed when the roof was closed, slightly faster. I tried to adapt to these new conditions and it just worked.”

Tsitsipas will now await the winner of the match between Medvedev and Auger-Aliassime—the night-session opener in Laver. The opposite men’s semi-final will see sixth seed Rafael Nadal take on Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, with both matches scheduled for Friday in Melbourne.

Tsitsipas hopes to go a step further in Australian Open this year

Tsitsipas hopes to go better than his previous performance at the Australian Open where he reached the semi-finals in 2021.

Tsitsipas started his 2021 Australian Open campaign with a comfortable straight sets win over Gilles Simon, before surviving a five-set thriller with Thanasi Kokkinakis.

He then beat Mikael Ymer in straight sets before being given over a walkover by an injured Matteo Berrettini.

In the quarterfinals, Tsitsipas became only the second player along with Fabio Fognini at the 2015 US Open to beat Rafael Nadal in a grand slam match from two sets to love down.

Attiki Odos CEO Resigns After Athens Blizzard Fiasco

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Attiki Odos stranded Athens
Cars stranded in Attiki Odos the ring road of Athens following the blizzard. Credit: Greek Reporter

The CEO of Attiki Odos, the Athens ring road where thousands of people were trapped in their cars on Monday night following a blizzard, resigned on Tuesday.

Vassileios Chalkias offered his resignation after the fiasco and Attikes Diadromes SA, the parent company of Attiki Odos SA, accepted.

In a statement, Chalkias said that the last few motorists have been freed from the Attiki Odos tolls motorway, where some 1,200 cars were stranded during the Elpis snowstorm that hit the country on Monday.

Having served as the company’s CEO since 1999, Chalkias said he feels “honored to have headed the emblematic Attiki Odos project,” and wished all the best to his successor.

The company’s board appointed traffic manager Aristophanes Papadimitriou to assume Halkias’ duties until the due election of a new CEO.

Attiki Odos Athens stranded
Fireman trying to move a stranded car at Attiki Odos on Tuesday. Credit: Greek Reporter

5,000 motorists stranded in Attiki Odos, Athens

An operation by the Army, the Fire Brigade, the police, as well as volunteers from the Red Cross and Τhe Smile of the Child has been in progress since Monday afternoon to help some 5,000 motorists who were stranded for hours on the Attiki Odos in freezing temperatures.

Attiki Odos Athens
An abandoned taxi at Attiki Odos. Credit: Greek Reporter

Some motorists reported being trapped in their cars for more than 20 hours, while other outraged social media posts showed dozens of people trudging through heavy snow, including parents carrying young children, as they abandoned their cars and trucks on the side of the road and took to walking in search of help and shelter.

Attiki Odos SA offers compensation

Attiki Odos SA, the company responsible for the privately-managed highway, issued an apology and said that it will be compensating thousands of toll-paying motorists who became trapped on the highway in their cars and trucks during Monday’s blizzard.

According to reports, the company will offer compensation of 2,000 euros to every user of the Attiki Odos highway who became snowbound.

The decision was reportedly taken following a telephone call from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who demanded answers as to why the highway’s emergency response mechanism failed so dramatically.

Six regions of Greece under lockdown for second day

Authorities in Greece announced on Tuesday that the lockdown in Athens and the Greek islands due to the heavy snow will continue for a second day on Wednesday.

Six regions of Greece, including Attica, Viotia, Evia, the Cycladic and Sporades archipelagos and Crete will be under “obligatory holiday”, Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said.

That means all public administration offices will be closed, except primary and secondary level local government offices, the Armed Forces and security personnel, public health facilities and other services that are needed during emergencies.

All schools in the public and private sector at all levels of education – including preschool and distance learning – will not operate through Wednesday.

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Powerful Explosion Rocks Central Athens

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Athens explosion
A powerful explosion shook Athens on Wednesday morning. Credit: Twitter/pentzouridis pan

At least one person was injured from a powerful explosion in central Athens early Wednesday which damaged an office block and smashed nearby storefronts.

The pre-dawn blast occurred 200 meters from the ancient Temple of Olympian Zeus on the busy Syngrou Avenue.

The blast caused a fire on the mezzanine floor, which spread to the first floor, while extensive damage has been done to other buildings in the area due to the shock wave. The wreckage caused damage to many vehicles.

According to reports, the building is under renovation, and it was empty.

The blast was heard throughout the suburb of Koukaki and in areas of the South.

A taxi that was passing by at the time of the explosion was actually moved by the shock wave while it was in motion, while the taxi driver and the passenger were in a state of shock.

Firefighters were using aerial ladders to look for anyone possibly trapped inside the damaged buildings. As dawn broke, they forced their way into damaged stores to free several people trapped inside.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

Traffic was halted in the area.

This is a developing story

Greek-American Cartoonist Stephan Pastis Explores Sublime, Ridiculous

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Stephan Pastis
Greek-American cartoonist Stephan Pastis now has his work syndicated in more than 650 newspapers worldwide. Credit: Facebook/Stephan Pastis

First generation Greek American Stephan Pastis once was a high-powered lawyer in San Francisco — before he chucked it all to become an author and one of the US’ foremost comic strip artists.

Now, with his “Pearls Before Swine” syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate, his cartoons, featuring Rat, Pig, Zebra and their neighbors, the “Dumb Alligators,” are seen in 650 newspapers worldwide.

Pastis is at times acerbic, with his constant observations about the unending failings of human nature, and at others sweet, such as when Rat finds himself under a raincloud and his friend Pig comes and shares the rain with him, asking “What are friends for?”

Stephan Pastis
Comic strip artist Stephan Pastis gives his barbed insights into human nature via his comic “Pearls Before Swine,” which is syndicated nationwide. Credit: Facebook/ Stephan Pastis

Pastis portrays minutiae of everyday life in cartoons, books and film

Absurdities are often plumbed in Pearls Before Swine, such as the scene showing Zebra and Rat settling down to watch a disturbing television nature series involving the grisly death of a zebra by alligators, and their neighbors — who are of course alligators — are seen celebrating through the window.

He also writes children’s books, with the “Timmy Failure” series, beginning with “Mistakes Were Made” all the way through the seventh book, It’s the End When I Say It’s the End,” which debuted at #4 on The New York Times Best Seller list for Children’s Middle Grade Books.

He also has a blog, on which he shares more musings, such as the 11-hour-long airport hell he was subjected to recently, and a range of calendars, such as this gem, which sums up how many are feeling about the new year: “The 2022 Pearls Before Swine ‘Crumple-Up-Each-Day-and-Hurl-it-in-Anger’ Rage Control Calendar.”

The son of Greek immigrants, Pastis was raised in San Marino, California. He started cartooning as a child; idolizing the brilliant author and animator Charles Schulz, his mother brought him pens and paper to amuse him when he was “sick a lot” and had to stay in bed.

He attended the University of California at Berkeley, earning a B.A. in political science in 1989. Pastis attended law school at UCLA, but kept drawing all that time, coming up with the first Pearls Before Swine character, Rat, during a boring class in law school.

“When I wrote for him (Rat) it seemed pretty honest. It was the first character where I could really say what’s on my mind. When I put it on paper, it’s my voice. So it works for me.”

Pastis is known for his forays into other comic strips, combining unlikely characters who sometimes take their own speaking bubbles into the strips drawn by other creators. One such recent compilation is when Pig and Rat get into a political discussion about millionaires and political power in the United States — and the “Family Circus” characters, not known for their countercultural leanings, bring home the point.

Notwithstanding the seemingly incongruous nature of the two comic strips, their creators are quick to reassure readers that they are both good friends in real life.

From 1993 to 2002, Pastis was an insurance defense litigation attorney in the San Francisco Bay area, but he quickly became disenchanted with the legal profession. in the mid-1990s he revisited his earlier ambition of becoming a syndicated cartoonist by submitting various concepts to agencies.

Pearls Before Swine borne out of earlier comic strip called “Rat”

The character of Rat came from Pastis’ earlier strip, Rat. The character “Pig,” who is Rat’s opposite, had been featured in “The Infirm,” a strip about an attorney who numbered an evil pig farmer among his clients.

One day in 1996, Pastis drove to an ice rink in Santa Rosa, California where Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, had his coffee every day. That turned out to be one of the major turning points of his life.

The meeting did not begin auspiciously, however, as Pastis blurted out: “Hi, Sparky (Schulz’s nickname), my name is Stephan Pastis and I’m a lawyer.” Schulz turned pale, thinking Pastis was there to serve him with a subpoena. But he recovered, and Pastis remembers Schulz’s graciousness:

“I was a total stranger to him, and he let me sit down at his table and we talked for an hour. I took a picture with him. He looked at some of the strips that I had been doing and gave me some tips. Man, I was on cloud nine,” Pastis recalls.

In addition to the universally-beloved Peanuts strip, Pastis drew inspiration from the iconic workplace comic strip, “Dilbert.”

“What worked for me personally was to study the writing of Dilbert,” Pastis says. “I just bought a bunch of Dilbert books and studied how to write a 3-panel strip. Then I showed them to a group of people who were acquaintances in order to get their honest assessment of which ones were funny and which ones weren’t.”

Pastis selected 40 of the best strips for the new strip, but fearing more rejection, let them sit on his counter for the next two years. Only in 1999 did he overcome his fears and submit them to three different syndicates, including United Features.

United took the unprecedented step of first running the strips on Comics.com to gauge reader response. When Scott Adams, Dilbert’s creator, endorsed the strip, the response “went through the roof” Pastis states.

Eight months later, he gleefully quit his law practice. He considers his dissatisfaction with law helpful, however, insofar as “humor is a reaction to and defense against unhappiness.”

Fifteen years later, Pearls appears in more than 650 newspapers worldwide.

Pearls Before Swine books

Pastis’ first compilation of strips, or “treasury,” called Sgt. Piggy’s Lonely Hearts Club Comic, was published in 2004. In addition to the content of the previous books, “BLTs Taste So Darn Good” and “This Little Piggy Stayed Home,” and Sunday strips in full color, Pastis included responses from readers in that work.

He continues to release the treasuries about every year and a half. Each book in the series is subtitled “A Pearls Before Swine Treasury.” Recently, treasuries became the main format for the Pearls Before Swine books.

Pastis lives in Santa Rosa, California, with his wife Staci and two children, where he is on the board of the Charles Schulz Museum.

“Schulz is to comic strips what Marlon Brando was to acting. It was so revolutionary. Before “Peanuts”, the writing was physical, over the top, but Sparky goes inside the soul. His influence on me is enormous. I’ve taken his backgrounds, the front porch, the beach and the TV beanbag. Rat is Lucy, Goat is Linus and Pig is Charlie Brown. Sparky is a template. Whether or not you know it, he’s the template,” the Greek-American author states.

In 2011, Pastis co-wrote the Peanuts special “Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown.”

Pastis’ “Timmy Failure” book series

On February 25, 2013, Pastis released his first book aimed at younger readers, called “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made.” Modeled after the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Timmy Failure follows the exploits of a young detective-to-be and his polar bear friend, Total, as they solve crimes in their neighborhood.

A sequel, “Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done,” was released on February 25, 2014. Subsequent books in that series include We Meet Again, Sanitized for Your Protection, The Book You’re Not Supposed To Have, The Cat Stole My Pants and It’s The End When I Say It’s The End. Pastis says that this latest work was the last in this series.

In April 2017, Disney started work on a Timmy Failure movie with Tom McCarthy directing and co-writing with Pastis. The movie, which was filmed entirely in Portland, Oregon, was released on Disney’s family-oriented streaming service Disney+ in January 2020.

Pastis was nominated for the National Cartoonists Society Newspaper Comic Strip Award for  2003, 2006. He won the 2003 and 2006 awards. He was also nominated for The National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year for every year since 2008. Pastis won the 2018 Reuben Award.

One recent Pearls Before Swine cartoon represented the zeitgeist of these times in our weariness over the pandemic, punctuated by a panel that ended that harkened back to a familiar scene from Peanuts, with Lucy taking the football — once again — after she promised for the umpteenth time to hold it so it could be kicked.

“So the pandemic is really over?” Pig asks Rat. “No more new waves, new strains, new lockdowns?” Rat answers in the affirmative both times. After Pig asks for further confirmation, saying “So we can plan ahead again? Weddings,  parties, meetings?” he is again reassured that all is well.

After Rat says that indeed things are just fine this time, Pastis goes into Peanuts mode, showing Lucy taking away the football at the last second, with Pig landing, dizzy, at her feet.

Mikis Theodorakis Wrote the Most Beautiful Music on the Holocaust

Mikis Theodorakis mauthausen trilogy
Mikis Theodorakis wrote the “Mauthausen Trilogy,” which is widely considered one of the most beautiful pieces of music about the Holocaust. Credit: Greek Reporter Illustration

Mikis Theodorakis, the Greek composer who passed away on Thursday in Athens at 96, is credited for writing the most beautiful music on the Holocaust.

The “Mauthausen Trilogy,” also known as “The Ballad of Mauthausen” is a cycle of four arias with lyrics based on poems written by Greek poet Iakovos Kambanellis, a Mauthausen concentration camp survivor.

The Mauthausen Cycle, one of the best-known compositions inspired by events at the Mauthausen concentration camp, is popular in Israel, and has been used to promote peace and cooperation worldwide.

The ballad reflects Kambanellis‘s own experience at Mauthausen, including his love for a Lithuanian-Jewish woman, as it recounts the love affair between a young Greek prisoner and his Jewish love amidst the atrocities they witnessed at the camp.

Passionate lyrics, haunting melody

The music critic of the Baltimore Sun writes: “Theodorakis had the genius to set this poem with melodic elements from the hymn for Palm Sunday of the Orthodox Church, creating an exquisite, haunting and passionate melody that moves Kambanellis’ affecting words to an even higher level.”

Jerry Silverman, in his book “The Undying Flame: Ballads and Songs of the Holocaust,” writes that “we can be (similarly) enthralled by the passionate lyrics and haunting melody of “Asma Asmaton”” and “(Kambanellis) also wote a cycle of four poems based on episodes in his book, which were lovingly set to music by Mikis Theodorakis”. Silverman also calls Asma Asmaton “extraordinarily moving”.

Sophia Richman, in her book “Mended by the Muse: Creative Transformations of Trauma,” writes: “The song cycle is a requiem for Holocaust victims and raised the consciousness of all Greeks. Its sublime melodic lines, extended harmonies and rhythms, forced listeners to ask, “What happened to our Jews?”

Richman also mentions that the composer “created songs that have entered the pantheon of acclaimed song cycles.”

In a supreme irony, approximately one year after the release of his ballad, during the premiere of the Mauthausen song cycle in London in 1967, Theodorakis was imprisoned in Greece by the recently installed Greek military junta and his music was banned in the country.

The Mauthausen Trilogy was performed by Joan Baez and several Israeli artists in Hebrew.

Kambanellis poem “Song Of Songs”

Beyond the bleak and frozen square,
above the yellow linen star,
no heart will ever beat again
because the beautiful have lost
their way to paradise.
All the whys have lost their reason,
braves the will to fight.

If there is a God in heaven,
where was he, sleeping?

Oh, children of Auschwitz,
oh, children of Dachau,
oh, come tell me what became of love,
oh, come tell me what became of love,
oh, come tell me what became of love.

They journey past the land of no returning
where no one could imagine or endure
and there, love begged of God
to sleep no more.

Above the tortured, blackened valleys,
beyond the northern crimson sea,
no bird could ever sing again
because the bitter moon has wept away
the summer sun.
You can rake away the ashes,
but the deed is done.

If there is a God in heaven,
where was he, sleeping?

Oh, children of Mauthausen,
oh, children of Belsen,
oh, come tell me what became of love,
oh, come tell me what became of love.

If there is a God in heaven,
where was he, sleeping?

When a Greek Woman Met the Jewish Family She Saved During Holocaust

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Melpomeni Dina meets a member of the Mordechai family whom she helped escape in 1943, at the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem. Credit: Screenshot/Youtube

In 2019, 92-year-old Melpomeni Dina, from the town of Veria in northern Greece, met for the first time in Jerusalem the descendants of a Jewish family she helped save during the Holocaust.

One by one, the 40 descendants of the Mordechai family leaned down and warmly hugged the elderly Greek woman to whom they owe their very existence, as she sat in her wheelchair, wiping away the tears which continuously streaked down her face.

Clutching the hands of those she hid, fed and protected as a teenager more than 75 years ago, 92-year-old Dina said she could now “die quietly,” according to a report from the Associated Press.

“The risk they took upon themselves to take in an entire family, knowing that it put them and everyone around them in danger…” Sarah Yanai, now 86, who was the oldest of the five siblings Dina and others sheltered, was quoted as saying.

Greek woman helped save Jewish family from Holocaust

holocaust jewish greek
Melpomeni Dina reacts as she is reunited with Holocaust survivors and siblings Sarah Yanai (L) and Yossi Mor (R)Credit: Screenshot/Youtube

The Mordechai family once lived in Veria, Greece, near Thessaloniki, where nearly the entire Jewish community was annihilated within a space of a few months, in one of the most brutal actions of the Nazis.

When the Nazis began rounding up Jews for deportation in early 1943, the family’s non-Jewish friends provided them with fake identity cards and hid them in the attic of the old abandoned Turkish mosque nearby.

They hid there for almost one entire year, while often hearing screams and cries outside the building — the sounds of other Jews being rounded up by the Nazi troops. But eventually, they were forced to leave this safe hiding spot because their health was declining in the cramped, unventilated attic of the mosque.

That was when Dina and her two older sisters took the family of seven into their own single-room home on the outskirts of the city, sharing with them their own meager wartime food rations.

One of the Mordechai children, a 6-year-old boy named Shmuel, became gravely ill at one point and had to be taken to a hospital, despite the risk of exposing his identity. He unfortunately died there at the facility.

Shortly after that, an informant cruelly informed upon the Mordechai family, disclosing their location.

Dina and her orphaned and impoverished sisters provided the Mordechais with clothing before their departure, and then they and their relatives helped them flee, taking them in various directions outside the city.

Yanai, the oldest, headed for the woods; another went to the mountains; and the mother of the family headed out on foot with her youngest two surviving children in search of another hiding spot.

The family miraculously was able to reunite together after liberation and with difficulty even made their way to Israel, where the children thrived and eventually came to raise successful families of their own.

Yossi Mor, now 77, was just an infant when his family was taken in, but he said he could still remember a few things, including when his older brother died and the kindness they encountered from their rescuers — who gave them various forms of refuge for nearly two years.

“They fed us, they gave us medicine, they gave us the protection, everything, they washed our clothes,” he said, before gesturing toward Dina. “She loved me very much.”

Mor and Yanai had been able to meet with Dina in Greece years ago. But the younger generation of their extended family, which included grade-school children in pigtails and soldiers in uniform, had never met their family’s rescuer before the moving ceremony.

The emotional encounter was arranged by the organization “Righteous Among the Nations,” which awards Israel’s highest honor to those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

More than 27,000 people, including some 355 from Greece, have been recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations.”

Here is the full story of how Dina courageously helped save the Jewish family so many years ago in Veria.

Greek-American with MS Fights for Handicapped Access in Miami Springs

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Greek-American Theodore Karantsalis, a retired librarian and journalist, is suing Miami Springs, Florida for its lack of curb access and handicapped parking spaces. Credit: Floridabulldog.org

A Greek-American man who has multiple sclerosis and who must use a wheelchair is fighting a war for handicapped access that most believe was decided long ago with the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990.

Living in Miami Springs, Florida, 60-year-old Theodore Karantsalis is now mostly confined to his apartment complex since the curbs around his building do not have cutouts for wheelchairs — nor are there any handicapped parking spaces.

This situation has been ongoing for the last five years, despite the near-ubitquitous handicapped access features that have been the norm for decades all over the United States. The city of Miami Springs continues to wage a legal war against Karantsalis, hinging their argument on the point that he waited too long in taking action against the city.

Handicapped access in the US assured by Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Karantsalis, a retired librarian and local journalist, is continuing the fight that he began with his 2008 suit against the city. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during that year, he must use a wheelchair in order to go anywhere at all. In order to use a sidewalk with the necessary cut-out curb, he first must roll out the main driveway of his apartment complex, and enter the street, which is not safe.

That is the crux of his argument, which he says is an illegal situation under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

Back in September of 2021, then-Federal Judge Ursula Ungaro dismissed Karantsalis’ lawsuit, filed by attorney Matthew Dietz, ruling that a four-year statute of limitations had expired for him to file his claim — since he was diagnosed with MS in 2008.

The oral arguments that were part of the September 2021 case can be accessed here.

Case awaiting trial once again – city says problem rectified

However, the U.S. Appeals Court for the Eleventh Circuit has now reversed the prior ruling, remanding his case back for trial, since his disability progressively worsened between 2017 and 2019 to the point that he could no longer walk. That was when the city violated his rights under the ADA by failing to accommodate his needs, the Appeals ruling stated in November.

“His ADA injury is the City’s denial of the benefits of its public services,” the November 12 order reads. “Stated another way, Karantsalis could not have sued the City before he lost his mobility and his ready access to and use of the City’s public services.”

The case of Karantsalis v. the City of Miami Springs raises many questions about statutes of limitations, progressive disability, and advocacy, the Greek-American man’s friends say.

After his MS symptoms improved, he withdrew his lawsuit, thinking at the time that that alone would have affected the outcome of the suit. However, by 2019, Karantsalis’ MS symptoms had worsened once again and he needed a wheelchair to go anywhere at all.

It was then that he refiled his suit, alleging that the city and the its facilities, programs, and services were inaccessible to him.

The district court threw out his suit, however, saying that the four-year statute of limitations, which was triggered before or during the 2008 suit when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, had expired.

Finally, in November, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s ruling, stating that Karantsalis did not have to wait to sue until his disability finally resulted in a loss of mobility.

On January 12, 2022, a discussion featuring Karantsalis and his ADA case was broadcast on SoundCloud and is available here.

Meanwhile, the retired librarian and former local journalist says that he still faces unsafe surroundings when he tries to leave his home since the city has still taken no action as of this week. “It’s really tough for me to go out of my house,” Karantsalis told Florida Bulldog in an interview, pointing out “I need to roll down my driveway into a busy street. It’s not safe. All I am asking is for them to fix the sidewalk.”

Dietz, a Miami lawyer who specializes in disability cases, said legal counsel for the city of Miami Springs has indicated the city will amend its sidewalks and designate handicapped parking spaces in its public facilities soon.

However, Dietz stated that the city is only doing so in order that Karantsalis’ complaint can be dismissed.

“If they are going to fix it then it will be moot,” Dietz told interviewers from Florida Bulldog, adding “I have not seen any proof of it. And I have requested all the plans, all the documents and all the notes that demonstrate they are going to make the fixes.”

The attorney charged that said the city’s new decision was only adopted in order to avoid paying monetary damages and lawyer’s fees to Karantsalis. “This is a common tactic by municipalities when they are sued over ADA compliance,” Dietz opined.

For its part, Miami Springs City Manager William Alonso stated to the press that the city doesn’t comment on pending litigation. However, Christopher Stearns, a private attorney hired by Miami Springs to fight the Karantsalis case, said in an email “All of the alleged barriers identified in the plaintiff’s complaint have long been remedied.

“The City invites any individuals who believe that any architectural barriers exist to present them to the City’s Disability Advisory Board, where they will be addressed promptly.”

After Karantsalis had voluntarily withdrawn his earlier complaint, he received assurances from Miami Springs officials that they would fix the sidewalks near his house, as well as other public rights of way, he recalled in the Florida Bulldog report.

“At the time, the then-city attorney said he didn’t foresee a problem and that they were looking to make things right as far as ADA compliance goes,” Karantsalis said. “The city manager at the time also promised the city would do the right thing. That was more than 10 years ago.”

Now, the disabled Greek-American man spends “most of my days in my room,” he says, unable to use the city’s new gymnasium because it is “improperly configured to adequately serve persons with mobility impairments,” he says, adding “My doctors encouraged me to get out.

“My dermatologist said it’s important for me to get a little bit of sun and my neurologist said getting in the pool would also be good for me.”

Dietz explained the situation by saying that municipalities would rather fight an ADA lawsuit than simply resolve the issues because such cases are covered by insurance carriers.

“Most of these cases should be relatively simple to resolve,” Dietz said, adding “It’s the same attorney under the same insurance policy that represents these cases. So there is an incentive to litigate.”

Karantzalis’ case is now before Miami federal judge Cecilia Altonaga.

An online presentation discussing the arguments of the case, the case findings, and what this case means for people with disabilities and the ADA may be accessed here.

 

2000 Year Old Fetus Found Inside Egyptian Mummy

2000 year old fetus
A 2000 year old fetus was found inside an Egyptian mummy recently by Polish researchers. Credit: A. Ledo/Warsaw Mummy Project

A 2000-year-old fetus was discovered in the belly of an Egyptian mummy by Polish reseachers recently, the first time in history that such a find has ever been recorded.

The Warsaw Mummy Project, headed by bio-archeologist Marzena Ożarek-Szilke from the University of Warsaw, and archaeologist Woljclech Ejsmond from the Polish Academy of Sciences, conducted the research that led to the groundbreaking discovery.

They found that the fetus itself was preserved, like its mother, as a result of being “pickled,” keeping it intact over the millennia since she died.

The mother’s body acidified after her death, according to a report in Science Alert.

The research project stated on its blog that “The foetus remained in the untouched uterus and began to, let say, ‘pickle’. It is not the most aesthetic comparison, but conveys the idea. Blood pH in corpses, including the contents of the uterus, falls significantly, becoming more acidic, and concentrations of ammonia and formic acid increase with time. The placement and filling of the body with natron significantly limited the access of air and oxygen.”

The researchers added that “the end result is an almost hermetically sealed uterus containing the fetus. The fetus was in an environment comparable to the one which preserves ancient bodies in swamps.”

Embalmed fetus
An image of the preserved fetus inside his mother, an Egyptian woman whose body had been embalmed and mummified. Credit: Warsaw Mummy Project

The comparison here is reminiscent of the “Tollund Man,” a Danish man who researchers believe was sacrificed and whose body was placed in a swamp in Denmark. When his remains were found in the bog in 1950, his body had been so remarkably well preserved that the authorities believed he had been a recent murder victim.

Incredibly, the leather noose used to kill him was incredibly still hanging around his neck. In actuality, scientists believe the man had been killed sometime during the period of 405 to 380 BC.

The Egyptian fetus was preserved in not one but two ways, however; not only was the body mummified by acidity — which dried up after she was embalmed — but the mother’s body was also covered in natron, drying it out afterward.  This process resulted in the mineralization of both bodies.

2000 year old fetus
A 2000-year-old fetus was found inside an Egyptian mummy by a team of researchers recently. Credit: General Electric/A. Andrzejewska/WMP/Affidea

The scientists stated that in the past, radiologists always look for bones when examining mummies — but this discovery points to the fact that in the future, “it is more important to study the shape of soft tissue in the pelvic area” since the soft bone structure of fetuses is difficult to detect radiologically during the first two trimesters.

The team stated on their blog “The change from alkaline to acidic environment led to partial decomposition of the foetal bones, especially to washing out minerals – of which there was not much anyway, because mineralisation is very weak during the first two trimesters of pregnancy and accelerates later.”

Explaining how this occurs, the researchers compared the process of “bone demineralisation in (an) acidic environment” to what would happen to an egg after being placed in acid.

“The eggshell is dissolving, leaving only the inside of the egg (albumen and yolk) and the minerals from the eggshell dissolved in the acid. A similar dissolution of bones occurs in the acidic environment of bogs. The bog bodies sometimes do not have bones because of a similar process,” they explained.

Obviously, the jaw-dropping discovery leads to speculation that a great many other female mummies were also pregnant at the time of their death, and therefore other mummified fetuses do exist in institutions around the world. This, they said, was what they considered “he most important part of their find.

Ożarek-Szilke stated “It is still difficult to draw any conclusions as we do not know if this is the only pregnant mummy. For now, it is definitely the only known pregnant Egyptian mummy.”

Referring to her as “The mysterious lady,” the scientists are still puzzled over another aspect of her embalming, in which all her other internal organs were removed except for the uterus holding the fetus.

However, they never lost sight of the humanity of hte mother and fetus, saying “Although the pregnant mummy became recently a kind of a ‘celebrity’ and from the scientific point of view the whole research is fascinating, we should not forget that we are dealing here with a human tragedy that we must respect.

“The Mysterious Lady died together with the unborn child, and by examining her, we restore their memory. We remember that it was a long-lived person who had her dreams, probably loved ones and was loved. Now she reveals to us the secrets she took with her to the grave,” the scientists concluded.