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Leaked Facebook Papers Show the Company Did Not Act to Stop Capitol Riot Calls

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Facebook
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is accused of downplaying Facebook’s role in the Jan. 6 Capitol Riots after Frances Haugen’s leak of internal documents. Credit: World Economic Forum, CC BY-SA 4.0

The fallout from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s leaked internal documents continues. CNN reported on Friday that documents from the leak show that the company did less to stop the Jan. 6 Capitol Riots than they’d previously admitted.

Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg initially dismissed accusations that the company failed to stop the riots, telling Reuters that:

“We know this was organized online. We know that. We… took down QAnon, Proud Boys, Stop the Steal, anything that was talking about possible violence last week. Our enforcement’s never perfect so I’m sure there were still things on Facebook. I think these events were largely organized on platforms that don’t have our abilities to stop hate and don’t have our standards and don’t have our transparency.”

But the documents from Haugen’s leak tell a different story about the company’s efforts to stop the spread of information involved in the attack on the Capitol. Documents show that Facebook scrambled to control the information being spread on its platform long after the bulk of the activity had taken place, effectively trying to stop the rioters when it was already too late.

New documents show that Facebook was aware of its inability to stop harmful political groups

Haugen alleges that “Facebook misled investors and the public about its role perpetuating misinformation and violent extremism relating to the 2020 election and January 6th insurrection.”
Facebook has vehemently denied Haugen’s logic and says that she has selectively framed documents to distort the image of the company.
“The responsibility for the violence that occurred on January 6 lies with those who attacked our Capitol and those who encouraged them. We took steps to limit content that sought to delegitimize the election, including labeling candidates’ posts with the latest vote count after Mr. Trump prematurely declared victory, pausing new political advertising and removing the original #StopTheSteal Group in November,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement to CNN.
A crucial document in Haugen’s leak was an internal analysis of the methods by which the Stop the Steal and Patriot Party movements used Facebook to disseminate information.
“Hindsight is 20:20,” reads the analysis. “[A]t the time it was very difficult to know whether what we were seeing was a coordinated effort to delegitimize the election, or whether it was protected free expression by users who were afraid and confused and deserved our empathy. But hindsight being 20:20 makes it all the more important to look back to learn what we can about the growth of the election delegitimatizing movements that grew, spread conspiracy, and helped incite the Capitol insurrection.”
The analysis concluded that Facebook’s countermeasures were inadequate for contending with the popularity of Stop the Steal on its platform. The authors acknowledged that Facebook was incapable of seeing the users involved as a potentially dangerous group and instead treated them individually, which stifled the company’s efforts to stop the groups tremendously.
“Almost all of the fastest growing FB Groups were Stop the Steal during their peak growth. Because we were looking at each entity individually, rather than as a cohesive movement, we were only able to take down individual Groups and Pages once they exceeded a violation threshold. We were not able to act on simple objects like posts and comments because they individually tended not to violate, even if they were surrounded by hate, violence, and misinformation.”

The Fascinating History of the Greek Orthodox Community of Bangor, Maine

Greek Community Maine
Members of the Greek community of Bangor, Maine visiting their ancestral village of Vamvakou, Greece in 1949, including Nikos Niarchos, a member of the Niarchos shipping family, on the left. Credit: Public Domain

The small but thriving Greek community in Bangor, Maine has a rich history that dates back to the 1890s.

The history of large-scale Greek immigration to the United States goes all the way back to the second half of the nineteenth century, a time when millions of Europeans decided to leave the lands of their ancestors and search for a promising life in the New World.

Of course, the decision to emigrate to any foreign land has never been easy, no matter where one comes from.

The links between one’s homeland and his soul are extraordinarily difficult to break, so the Greeks who decided to move to America did indeed have some very serious reasons to make this momentous decision.

As has been the case from the very beginning of human history, one of the main reasons for immigration is economic and financial hardship, and this was true for most Greeks in the 1800’s.

The beginnings of Greek immigration to America

The Greeks living on the Peloponnesian Peninsula suffered a huge blow in the late 1800s due to the sudden and complete collapse of the currant crop there, on which many were entirely dependent. This had been a thriving industry for decades, which had even helped the newly-established Greek state to flourish through its huge exports to Great Britain.

However, a series of misfortunes led the industry to a complete collapse in the 1890s, which was followed hard on its heels by the bankruptcy of the Greek state in 1893 and ”Black 1897,” the year when Greece and the Ottoman Empire plunged into a thirty-day war, with devastating results for the small and financially-struggling country.

The situation in Greece’s rural areas was crushing, with people not even being able to afford the basics for their families, and southern Greeks, long accustomed to hardship, faced a life-changing dilemma: Either stay and continue to suffer, or emigrate and chase the American Dream.

Hundreds of thousands of Greek nationals made the wrenching decision to leave their country between 1890 and 1930, searching for a better life in the US, the country which was believed to provide endless opportunities.

The vast majority of the new immigrants established themselves on the East Coast of the country, and primarily in the Northeast, from New York northward.

The First Greek in Bangor, Maine

This is how the arrival of the first Greek in Bangor, Maine, the northeasternmost state of the US, took place in the late 1890s.

George N. Brountas was born in the small village of Vamvakou, in the Peloponnesian county of Laconia, the famed land of Sparta.

The economic hardships in the Peloponnese’s Vamvakou area led him to Athens at the young age of 12, where he found a job in his uncle’s shipyard. However, the economic crisis of the time, Greece’s default of 1893 and the growing financial depression led Brountas to the courageous decision to move to America.

Brountas first worked in the textile mills around Boston; however, he soon moved north, to the then small but thriving community of Bangor in Maine.

After years of hard work — and smart business decisions — Brountas opened the first Greek store in Bangor, called the ”Bangor Candy Kitchen.”

Soon, relatives and friends of Brountas’ came from Greece to live in Bangor, along with other Greeks from other parts of the country, such as Epirus.

Only a few decades after Brountas’ arrival in Bangor, scores of Greek families were living, working and prospering in this beautiful city in Maine. People living today remember a time when nearly every other restaurant in the city was owned by a Greek family.

The first Greek Orthodox community of Bangor

Of course, along with their great capacity for work and their remarkable drive to better themselves — for which they became well-known in Bangor — these Greeks brought with them their religious customs and beliefs to New England, a region which had of course been a bastion of English Protestant culture for centuries.

It was in the 1920s when the first Greek Orthodox parish was established in Bangor.

In 1926, members of the parish pledged $1,200 to organize the ”Saint George Eastern Orthodox Community of Bangor.” This sum represents approximately $20,000 in today’s currency.

Stavros Niarchos, one of the most prominent Greek shipowners of all time, also helped make the construction of the church possible by donating funds, since he had relatives from Vamvakou and may have known some of the members of the church who had left the village before heading to Maine.

The Floros family, another prominent clan in Bangor’s Greek community, sold a portion of their property on Sanford Street for the building of St. George’s, the first Orthodox church in the city and still the only one there of its denomination.

Construction of the wood-framed, white clapboard building was completed by 1930. Perhaps designed not to stand out among all the other houses along the street, it looked identical to thousands of New England’s typical white clapboard Protestant churches, with its Gothic windows and modest scale.

And it stands there to this day, serving as the meeting place for all the Orthodox Christians of Bangor.

Saint George’s has since become the center of the Greek and the Orthodox community not only of Bangor, but of the communities beyond, including a large number of Greek professors at the nearby University of Maine at Orono.

Greeks, Americans, Russians, Ukrainians, Egyptians and others from all backgrounds in the area who share the same religious beliefs come together to worship at St. George’s every week, making it the Orthodox Christian epicenter of the entire region.

However, the descendants of the original members of the Greek Orthodox community of Bangor, although present in America for over a century now, have never forgotten the birthplace of the founders of their church.

Even today, descendants of the families who emigrated from Vamvakou try to keep their connection with Greece alive. They have even established connections with the ”Vamvakou Revival” organization back in Greece, which is supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

This grass-roots group, comprised of young people who have returned to their ancestors’ village, aims to revitalize the beautiful mountain village of Vamvakou, which had become nearly deserted after almost all its population left it throughout the 20th century in an attempt to find better lives in large cities or abroad.

Along with their strong links back to their ancestral homeland, the members of the Greek Orthodox community of Bangor also keep alive the ancient traditions of the Orthodox Church.

The video below shows Thessaloniki native Dr. Lambros Karris, who is the head chanter, or protopsaltis, of the church, performing the beloved hymn ”Troparion of Kassiani” as he does each Holy Week before Easter. Dr. Karris, a priest’s son, sings the hymn with his own son Alexander Karris and Dr. Miltiades Zacas, who is originally from Lesbos.

Although many of the original parish members’ families have moved away from Bangor since the church was first established, some remain, and with many new American converts, together they keep this small treasure of a church alive and thriving.

Their unconditional love for their parish has inspired the members of the Orthodox community of Bangor to maintain a stunningly beautiful church which offers a spiritual shelter and home to all those who share the Orthodox faith.

This reminds us of a fundamental truth regarding religious and ethnic groups in America: It is not the sheer numbers of any community that makes a difference; it is the strength of their desire to maintain and preserve their priceless ancient customs, traditions and beliefs.

 

Alec Baldwin Addresses on Set Death, 911 Call Released

Alec Baldwin
Actor Alec Baldwin has made a statement on Twitter after accidentally killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0

Actor Alec Baldwin made his first public statement on the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on Friday. Baldwin published his statement on Twitter, expressing his grief over the incident and noting that he has been fully cooperative in the investigation into what caused his prop gun to kill her:

“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

The 911 call placed from the set after the incident took place has also been released. A distressed crew member is heard explaining the situation to the responder, and describes it as an “accidental shooting.”

Investigation into Alec Baldwin’s accidental shooting of cinematographer and director is still ongoing

The investigation has commenced in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where “Rust” was being filmed and where the incident took place. Investigators have not released much information about the case thus far, but no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed. Juan Rios, a spokesman for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, said that “We’re trying to determine right now how and what type of projectile was used in the firearm.”

It is currently not known exactly what gun was used on the set. There are typically strict safety protocols for the use of guns during film productions. Prop guns are real guns that are being used as props and are loaded with blanks. But these blanks are not 100% safe as they require gunpowder, cartridges, and paper or wax which is used to provide a realistic gunshot spark.

Larry Zanoff, who handled the guns on the set of Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Django Unchained,” but was not a part of the production of “Rust,”  told the New York Times that the majority of film sets only use blank ammunition, which consists of a cartridge case with no real bullet inside.

Multiple others involved with “Rust” have come forward to offer their condolences for Hutchins’ death.

Rust Movie Productions LLC, the production company creating the movie, said that everyone involved is “devastated” and that they plan on “fully cooperating” with the police department’s investigation:

“The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today’s tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna’s family and loved ones,” they said. “We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department’s investigation. We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event.”

John Lindley and Rebecca Rhine, the president and executive directors of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600, of which Hutchins was a member, made a statement on Hutchins death, saying that:

“We received the devastating news this evening, that one of our members, Halyna Hutchins, the Director of Photography on a production called ‘Rust’ in New Mexico died from injuries sustained on the set. The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event. This is a terrible loss, and we mourn the passing of a member of our Guild’s family.”

 

 

 

Ancient Greek Anaximander Drew First Map of Known World

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Anaximander
The Ancient Greek philosopher and geographer Anaximander, who was responsible for creating the very first map of the world. Credit:

The ancient Greek thinker Anaximander, who was born in the third year of the 42nd Olympiad, or 610 BC, and who lived until c. 546 BC, was a polymath, lending his prodigious talents to the realms of pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, geography, geometry, cosmology and politics.

He lived lived in Miletus, a city in Ionia, and belonged to the Milesian school, learning from his master Thales of Miletus. He succeeded Thales to become the second master of that school where he counted Anaximenes and possibly the great mathematician Pythagoras amongst his pupils.

Although little of his life and work is known today, the effect of it is very far-reaching, since  he is the first philosopher known to have written down his studies. Although only one fragment of his work remains, testimonies found in other documents after his death provide a portrait of the great man, who used rational thought to find his way through problems.

Anaximander tried to observe and explain different aspects of the universe, with a particular interest in its origins, claiming that nature is ruled by laws, just like human societies, and anything that disturbs the balance of nature does not last long.

Like so many thinkers of his time, Anaximander’s philosophy represented his far-ranging mind, and his life’s work included contributions across many disciplines. In astronomy, he attempted to describe the mechanics of celestial bodies in relation to the Earth.

He created a map of the world that contributed greatly to the advancement of geography, one which would form the basis of that used by later geographers and historians.

He was also involved in the politics of Miletus and was sent as a leader to one of its colonies. The third-century Roman rhetorician Aelian depicts Anaximander as leader of the Milesian colony to Apollonia on the Black Sea coast; some have inferred that he was therefore a very prominent citizen.

It is very likely that leaders of Miletus sent him there as a legislator to create a constitution or simply to maintain the colony’s allegiance.

In Lacedaemon, he participated in the construction, or at least in the adjustment, of sundials to indicate solstices and equinoxes. In his time, the gnomon used in the center of a sundial was simply a vertical pillar or rod mounted on a horizontal plane. The position of its shadow on the plane indicated the time of day.

Anaximander's map
The map created by Anaximander, the first person to create a likeness of the entire world. Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol/Public Domain

As it moves through its apparent course, the Sun draws a curve with the tip of the projected shadow, which is shortest at noon, when pointing due south.

The variation in the tip’s position at noon indicates the solar time and the seasons; the shadow is longest on the winter solstice and shortest on the summer solstice.

As the Byzantine-era encyclopedia the Suda seems to suggest, it is very likely that with his knowledge of geometry, Anaximander became the first Greek to accurately determine the equinoxes.

He was such a brilliant thinker that he was included in Raphael’s “School of Athens” painting, being depicted as taking notes from something the philosopher Pythagoras is telling him.

According to Apollodorus of Athens, the Greek grammarian who lived in the 2nd century BC, he was sixty-four years old during the second year of the 58th Olympiad, in 547–546 BC, and he died shortly afterwards.

Themistius, a 4th-century Byzantine rhetorician, stated that he was the “first of the known Greeks to publish a written document on nature.”

Anaximander cosmology
Anaximander’s cosmology. Credit: Dirk Couprie, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy/Bibi Saint-Pol /Public Domain

“Greek miracle” occurred when people began to use rational thought to explain universe

Anaximander’s theories were influenced by the Greek mythical tradition, and by Thales, who is considered to be the father of philosophy, as well as by observations made by older civilizations in the Near East, especially Babylon.

All these were developed rationally. In his desire to find some universal principle, he assumed, like traditional religion, the existence of a cosmic order; and his ideas on this used the old language of myths which ascribed divine control to various spheres of reality.

This was only to be expected, as it was a common practice for the Greek philosophers in a society which saw gods everywhere.

Some scholars see a gap between the mythical and the new rational way of thought — which is the main characteristic of the Archaic period, which lasted from the 8th to 6th century BC in the Greek city-states. This has given rise to the phrase the “Greek miracle,” the breakthrough in human thought which saw the use of rational means to explain the workings of the universe.

But if we follow carefully the course of Anaximander’s ideas, we can see there was not such an abrupt break as initially appears. The basic elements of nature,  including water, air, fire, and earth, which the first Greek philosophers believed made up the universe in fact represent the primordial forces that were imagined in earlier ways of thinking.

Their collision produced what the mythical tradition had called “cosmic harmony.” In the old cosmogonies — created by Hesiod, who lived from the 8th to the 7th century BC, and Pherecydes, from the 6th century BC, – Zeus established his order in the world by destroying the powers which were threatening this harmony (the Titans).

Rational ordering of universe sparked laying out of physical world along physical parameters

Anaximander’s rational ordering of everything he saw around him, beginning with these primeval forces, resulted in the drawing of an actual map of the world, showing all the regions that were known to the ancient Greeks of the time.

Anaximander explains how the four elements of ancient physics (air, earth, water and fire) are formed, and how Earth and terrestrial beings are formed through their interactions — and then, what the world we all inhabit looks like.

The one surviving fragment of Anaximander’s writing deals with the origin of the world and how it is ordered. It comes to us via Simplicius, who transmitted it as a quotation:

“Whence things have their origin,
Thence also their destruction happens,
According to necessity;
For they give to each other justice and recompense
For their injustice
In conformity with the ordinance of Time.”

Oldest prose document about the Universe and origins of life

Anaximander’s bold use of non-mythological explanations confirms that pre-Socratic philosophers were making an early effort to demystify physical processes.

His major contribution to history was writing the oldest prose document about the Universe and the origins of life; for this he is often called the “Father of Cosmology” and founder of astronomy.

Anaximander was the first to conceive a mechanical model of the world. In his model, the Earth floats very still in the centre of the infinite, not supported by anything. Its curious shape is that of a cylinder, or “A column of stone”, Aetius reports in De Fide (III, 7, 1). The flat top forms the inhabited world, which is surrounded by a circular oceanic mass.

Anaximander’s realization that the Earth floats free — without falling, and does not need to be resting on something — has been indicated by many as the first cosmological revolution and the starting point of all scientific thinking.

Such a model allowed for the concept that celestial bodies could pass under the Earth, which opened the way for the development of Greek astronomy.

Anaximander was also the very first astronomer to consider the Sun as a huge mass, and consequently, to realize how far from Earth it might be; he also was the first person to say that celestial bodies rotated at different distances. Furthermore, according to Diogenes Laertius (II, 2), he built a celestial sphere, or an orb representing the heavens.

His knowledge and work on astronomy confirm that he must have observed the inclination of the celestial sphere in relation to the plane of the Earth to explain the changing of the seasons.

Meteorological phenomena seen as physical — not actions of the gods

In accordance with his rational views, Anaximander attributed some phenomena, including thunder and lightning, to the intervention of elements, rather than to divine causes — coming very close to modern understandings of the weather. In his system, thunder resulted from the shock of clouds hitting each other; the loudness of the sound is proportionate with that of the shock.

He saw the sea as a remnant of the mass of humidity that once surrounded Earth.

Both Strabo and Agathemerus (later Greek geographers) claim that, according to the geographer Eratosthenes, Anaximander was the first to publish a map of the world. The map most likely inspired the Greek historian Hecataeus of Miletus to draw a more accurate version. Strabo viewed both as the first geographers after Homer.

Other maps had been produced in ancient times, notably in Egypt, Lydia, the Middle East, and Babylon. The concept of a world map comes from a late Babylonian tablet, which was created sometime after the 9th century BC, but it is based most likely on a much older map.

Anaximander’s map first to depict entire world as it was known

These maps indicated directions, roads, towns, borders, and geological features, enabling quicker and safer travel and transportation. Anaximander’s innovation, however, was to represent the entire inhabited earth, including the ocean(s) as they were known to the ancient Greeks.

The Aegean Sea, near the map’s center, was enclosed by three continents, themselves located in the middle of the ocean and isolated like islands by seas and rivers. Europe was bordered on the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and was separated from Asia by the Black Sea, (Lake Maeotis) and, further east, either by the Phasis River (now called the Rioni in Georgia) or the Tanais.

The Nile flowed south into the ocean, separating Libya (which was the name for the part of the then-known African continent) from Asia.

Although of course we can see many discrepancies in his re-creation of the world as it was known in that time, no one can doubt the incredible genius of the man whose life work formed the basis of all other cartographers, geographers and historians to come, including Hecataeus, Pausanias and Herodotus.

Philosopher Karl Popper called Anaximander’s conception that the earth was a free-floating entity in space “one of the boldest, most revolutionary, and most portentous ideas in the whole history of human thinking.” Surely his map of our world laid the cornerstone for all the geographical, and astronomical, discoveries that were made after him, even down to our day.

Greeks of Ukraine Celebrate Hellenic Heritage in Spectacular Festival

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Ukrainian-Greek children in traditional Greek dresses in the Mariupol “Greek Feast” festival. Images Credit: Bella Terzi / Facebook

The 18th “Great Feast”, one of the largest and most beloved cultural events of the Greeks of eastern Ukraine, was held in Mariupol on September 25.

This Pan-Ukrainian Festival of Greek Culture is held every two years under the aegis of the Federation of Greek Associations (OESO), in the Greek villages of the Azov region.

Credit: Bella Terzi / Facebook

The festival is dedicated to Donat Patritsa, a great son of the Greek national movement in Ukraine – a poet, novelist, translator, composer and inspirational figure.

Hundreds of representatives and crowds of the Greek Diaspora, along with other nationalities, gathered in Mariupol, the cradle of Ukrainian Hellenism. They enjoyed a glamorous spectacle, inspired by the rich linguistic, historical and cultural heritage of the Greeks of Azov.

Credit: Bella Terzi / Facebook

This year’s festival was particularly more festive and sparkling, due to the 200 years since the Greek war of independence celebrations. It coincided with the 30 years festivities for the Ukraine independence.

Credit: Bella Terzi / Facebook

The festival program included a great theatrical parade, dedicated to the history of Ukrainian Greeks, and their inseparable connection with Crimea and Greece.

Credit: Bella Terzi / Facebook

Thousands of representatives from 90 Greek communities, dressed in traditional Greek costumes, gave the audience unforgettable moments. They demonstrated the power of Greek culture and the unwavering love of Ukrainian Greeks for their various mother tongues.

Credit: Bella Terzi / Facebook

The thematic column of the parade was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution. The march of the Evzoni was held by students of the State University of Ukraine.

greeks ukraine
Credit: Bella Terzi / Facebook

The parade also had Greeks representing members of the “Society of Friends” and other historical figures – heroes of the 1821 war of independence.

The parade was followed by a 6-hour-long concert with the participation of vocal and choreographic groups from artistic groups by Greeks and various other nationalities. The concert reflected the celebration’s optimistic philosophy and its desire for unity, harmony and peace.

Greeks in Ukraine celebrate 200th anniversary of War of Independence

The event also included exhibitions of Greek artists, presentations and tasting of traditional Greek dishes, ethnic products workshops and more.

An integral part of the Festival has always been the popular traditional Greek folk wrestling. “Koures,” sees more than 40 wrestlers from different cities and villages of Ukraine competing vigorously for the traditional prize: a sheep.

Greeks have lived on the territory of modern Ukraine since antiquity and consider themselves an indigenous people. Countless remnants of ancient Greek civilization exist in Ukraine, among them Olbia, Panticapaeum, and Tauric Chersonesus.

Later historical Greek landmarks date from the Middle Ages. Between the 14th and 15th century, even a political state, called the Principality of Theodoro, inhabited by Greek speaking Crimean Goths, existed in Crimea.

greeks ukraine
Credit: Bella Terzi / Facebook

As a result, a distinct Greek community formed on the Crimean peninsula. Later they resettled to Mariupol in southern Pryazovia, and since then they have been known as Mariupolitan Greeks.

Today the descendants of these people make up almost 85% of the entire ethnic Greek population in Ukraine. They cherish their unique culture and endangered regional Greek dialects.

Greece Pushes For EU-Wide Response to Energy Crunch

Greece EU energy
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks to the press after the EU Summit on Friday. Credit: PM’s press office

Greece pushed for a EU response to the tackle the ongoing energy crunch at the summit of leaders that took place on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.

However, EU leaders shunned sweeping action by adopting a moderate list of measures such as direct income support for vulnerable households, state aid for struggling companies and reductions in taxes and special levies.

All these measures must be targeted, tailored and temporary, an opinion shared by Germany and other Northern member states, who are reluctant of forceful intervention.

Most north European countries argue that the situation is the result of free market dynamics: countries recovering from the pandemic around the world are thirsty for energy to kick start their economic activity but the stronger demand hasn’t been met by stronger supplies, leading to a pronounced hike in natural gas prices. The surge is expected to last until April.

Energy crisis needs “European solution”

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that price hikes in energy costs for consumers are a European problem, therefore it requires a European solution.

The Greek premier noted that “we requested that the European Commission evaluate the energy market the soonest possible, so as to suggest solutions against these sudden fluctuations in energy prices.”

Moreover, the Greek government has already proposed that natural gas storage be increased, and it has also put forth the idea for collective purchasing of natural gas, to increase the bargaining advantage against gas suppliers, he added.

President von der Leyen said leaders were open to exploring the creation of a strategic gas reserve for the bloc, the voluntary joint procurement of energy supplies and the decoupling of the electricity and natural gas prices, a cause championed by France.

Earlier in October Greece announced a series of measures that would offer households subsidies to cope with soaring energy prices. “In this unprecedented energy crisis, we will not leave anyone unprotected,” said Environment and Energy Minister Costas Skrekas at a joint press conference with Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.

Eastern Mediterranean could help EU energy demand, Greece says

Mitsotakis also noted that the Eastern Mediterranean basin may provide cheaper electricity in light of the recent electrical interconnection agreement between Greece and Egypt, Mitsotakis pointed out.

However, he said he did also point out to European partners that geopolitical developments also factor into price hikes, and that he stressed to all that the quickest renewable energy sources are practically strengthened into energy policies – the fastest energy security can be reached.

Regarding the migration crisis, Mitsotakis said he was satisfied of the fact that after Greece’s insistance, Turkey has received explicit insructions to keep up its 2016 agreement with the EU for the management of migration flows. He also mentioned that he called on the European Council and the European Commission to propose specific legal changes, measures and funding for a more efficient guarding of European borders.

Both Greece and Cyprus, he added, briefed the Council on the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

“Turkey has to choose between two paths, one being of sincere collaboration and the other of provocation,” Mitsotakis underlined.

Greek Tennis Champion Maria Sakkari Qualifies for WTA Finals

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Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari has qualified to play the WTA finals, becoming the first Greek tennis player to ever do so. Credit: Roland Garros

Maria Sakkari, the Greek tennis virtuoso, who is currently the seventh best player in the world, will debut at the season-ending championships, WTA finals. The 26-year-old qualified for the finals, after reaching the quarter-finals at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Friday.

Sakkari reached the quarter-final this season as her second round opponent Anna Kalinskaya was forced to withdraw in the second set. The score was 6-2, 1-0 in favor of the Greek player.

Having been defeated in the first round of the 2019 Kremlin Cup, Sakkari has returned strongly to the Russian capital this year. This is will be her eighth quarter-final match this season.

The Greek champion faced Simona Halep in the last eight, in Moscow on Friday. She advanced to the semifinals of the Kremlin Cup, overcoming Simona Halep in the “8” of the tournament with 2-0 sets.

Halep had reached the quarter-finals on the back of consecutive straight-sets victories. The former top player in the world defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-1, 7-6(4) to book her place in the last-8 of the WTA-500 event.

Maria Sakkari entered the match very strongly, making the break early in the service of the 30-year-old Romanian, who is number 12 in the world rankings. She won the first set 6-4 and the second set with the same score.

Sakkari held off a late surge from the Romanian, who broke back twice from 5-1 down in the second set. The rest of the top four seeds were all beaten on Friday, making the Greek a clear favorite for the event.

Sakkari to play Alexandrova for Moscow tennis trophy

Sakkari will now play Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova for the Moscow trophy. Alexandrova beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-4. It was the Belarusian’s first tournament after testing positive for Covid-19.

Sakkari continues a breakthrough season where she finished runner-up at the WTA 500 event in Ostrava, Czech Republic and reached the semi-finals at the Roland Garros French and the US Open majors.

“I’m very proud of myself and my team that we actually made it to the Finals for the first time. It is the first time in the history of Greece for a female tennis player,” Sakkari said.

“I was very hard on myself up until this year. Growing, and also getting older and more mature, you see certain things different. Being nice to myself was one of the most important things I’ve changed this year. Being nice during the games and the matches.”

Sakkari, ranked number seven in the world, is the fifth player after Ash Barty, Aryna Sabalenka, Barbora Krejcikova and Karolina Pliskova to qualify for the Finals so far. They will be held in November in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The event will be returning to its home in Shenzhen, China in 2022. The 2021 WTA Finals features the Top eight singles players and doubles teams on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals. It includes 51 WTA tournaments and four Grand Slams, competing in a round-robin format.

The singles champion will be lifting the WTA Finals Billie Jean King Trophy, and the doubles champions will be earning the WTA Finals Martina Navratilova Trophy.

Older Greek Couple Proves Love Lives on Beyond 80

older greek couple marriage
Mr. Nikos (87) and Mrs. Martha (85) say their wedding vows. Credit: Athens City Hall

An older Greek couple proved that love lives on beyond 80 by getting married at Athens City Hall on Wednesday.

On Wednesday evening, Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis posted a picture of the senior couple and himself performing the wedding ceremonial procedures on Facebook.

It is not often that we see people getting married at this age. The couple, identified only as Nikos and Maria, are aged 87 and 85, respectively. Yet love doesn’t look at birth certificates.

Love beyond 80
Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis performs the wedding ceremony for the octogenarian couple. The marriage of the older Greek couple shows the power of love. Credit: Athens City Hall

The mayor, full of admiration for the couple, described their marriage as a “wonderful love story,” writing on social media:

“Do you, Nikos, want Martha as your lawfully wedded wife?
⁃ OF COURSE!!

⁃ Do you, Martha, want Nikos as your lawfully wedded husband?
⁃ VERY MUCH SO!!

And somehow, tonight at the City Hall, two lives were united in marriage, 87 and 85 years old. Smiling, bright and truly happy.

This is a wonderful love story!”

Marriage of older Greek couple shows power of love

Nikos and Martha hold each other tight. They kiss tenderly. They look at each other with eyes full of love, like all newlyweds. The couple look happier than ever on the Mega TV report.

The two got married to seal their love and devotion with a tender promise: Το love each other and take care of each other.

Both Nikos and Martha have been widowed. They have been together happily for the past 16 years, but recently they decided that it was time to make things formal.

“I have been asking her to get married ever since the beginning, but she did not want to. A month ago she asked me: “Why don’t you marry me? Now I want to”. Well, since you want it now, I will marry you now,” Nikos replied.

For Martha this is the second marriage. Her first husband passed away, and a few years later she met Nikos, with whom she built a beautiful relationship.

“Why be alone?”

Martha confessed to Mega that after the death of her first husband she promised herself she would never remarry. “But (after a long while) I said, Nikos, it’s over, let’s have a wedding. I laughed when I said it, and yet I did it.”

“I said to myself, ‘Why be alone?’ I thought about it thoroughly and said I will do this thing that everyone does and everyone was very relaxed towards me,” she said.

“I was a dancer, I only went out with women friends when I wanted to dance. My husband had died and I was alone for 16 years. Now all you have to do is find a man, I thought to myself.

“I did not believe it. But he is a good man and that’s how I made a new start,” said the 85-year-old woman, proving there can be love beyond 80.

Mr. Nikos was a migrant in Germany

Born in 1934, Nikos left Greece at a young age to go and work in Germany. He became a textile engineer and worked in textile factories, settling down in his new country.

He got married, then opened a pub in Munich. He had stayed in Germany for 52 years, then he decided to return to his homeland.

He was a regular in the tavern where he first saw Martha. The rest is the stuff of many romantic novels.

“I met her in a tavern. There was a group of seven women and they were dancing together. “I danced with Martha and my mind got stuck on her from then on,” he said.

 

Greek Heritage Legislators Stand Against Turkey

Greek legislators Turkey
Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas (Lou) Raptakis presides over the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association to support Greece. Credit: image courtesy of World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association

With more than 200 politicians across 20 countries, legislators with a Greek heritage are taking a stand against Turkey to support Hellas with their efforts from abroad.

Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas (Lou) Raptakis is leading a group of dozens of
Hellenic-American State Legislators from around the country who are calling on US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to reject appeals from Turkey seeking the sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to upgrade their air force and requesting 80 modernization kits for their existing aircraft.

Raptakis Presides Over Association of Greek Heritage Legislators

Raptakis, aside from his elected position as a State Senator from Rhode Island for a decade, is currently the president of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (PADEE-WHIA), an interparliamentary organization of the Greek diaspora bringing together legislators of Greek origin from around the world.

WHIA was first established in 1996 and was formally established as an Association under Greek law in 2005. The purposes of PADEE-WHIA include: building relations and communication among members of legislator who are of Hellenic origin in non-Greek speaking countries; strengthening relations of friendship and co-operation between Greece and the respective countries of the Association’s members and their Parliament to bring forth and promote the principles of Greek language and Hellenic culture in their respective countries.

“We have an opportunity to make this organization a resource for all of its members, a vehicle for keeping Hellenes from all over the world connected to the work being done in different countries to promote issues of concern to Greece and Cyprus,” Raptakis said.

Raptakis and colleague State Senator Stephan Pappas, R-Wyoming, will arrive in Athens on Monday to participate in meetings with Greek leaders and the celebration of OXI Day on October 28th.

Raptakis and his colleagues, who are legislators of Greek heritage, noted that in July of 2019, Turkey was expelled from the F-35 fighter jet program after the Erdogan regime accepted delivery of the Russian S-400 missile system. They argue that Turkey’s behavior has only gotten worse and there is no compelling reason for the United States to reward a nation that is undermining U.S. security interests in the region and threatening NATO allies.

Mitsotakis Tassoulas Raptakis
Raptakis with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President of the Hellenic Parlaiment Constantinos Tassoulas in July. Credit: Image courtesy of World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association

Turkey Trying to Destabilize Mediterranean

“Turkey has been a destabilizing force in the eastern Mediterranean, seeking to intimidate its neighbors and playing the role of chaos agent in the region,” said Raptakis. “The Erdogan regime has violated a United Nations arms embargo in Libya, deployed its troops and Syrian militias in the region and undermined U.S. security interests.”

He added, ”To reward them now with a sale of new fighter jets would be unconscionable.”

Legislators of Greek heritage State Representative Leon Stavrinakis D-South Carolina and State Senator Spiro Mantzavinos D-Delaware also emphasized that “We need to see a sustained commitment by the Turkish government to stop playing the role of chaos agent in the region before providing them with additional tools to continue their aggressive actions.“

The World Justice Project recently ranked Turkey as one of the world’s worst countries for the rule of law, ranking 117 on a list of 139 countries. Turkey earned worst or second-worst scores in five of the eight categories, including open government and security.

In calling on the Biden administration to reject the F-16 sales, the legislators of Greek heritage, said such a deal would significantly undermine the long-standing US-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement recently renewed by Blinken and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

They said this agreement represents the best path forward in terms maintaining our strategic partnership and containing the territorial ambitions of the Erdogan regime.

Individual legislators will also have forwarded letters to their United States Senators and members of Congress which included the following at press time:
State Senator Andreas Borgeas R- California
State Representative Eleni Kavros Degraw D- Connecticut
State Representative Nicole-Ditria Klarides R- Connecticut
State Representative Spiros Mantzavinos D-Delaware
State Senator John Velis D- Massachusetts
State Senator Sandra Pappas D- Minnesota
State Senator James Ohrenshall D- Nevada
State Representative John Lemondes R- New York
State Representative Efstathia Booras D- New Hampshire
State Senator Maria Tzanakis Collett D-Pennsylvania
State Representative Steven Malagari D-Pennsylvania
State Senator Leonidas Raptakis D- Rhode Island
State Representative Leon Stavrinakis D- South Carolina
State Representative John Spiros R- Wisconsin
State Senator Stephan Pappas R-Wyoming

 

Angela Merkel to Visit Greece on “Oxi” Day

Angela Merkel Greece
Angela Merkel will be paying an official visit to Greece October 28-29. Credit: Kuhlmann /MSC, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Friday she will be paying a farewell official visit to Greece on October 28-29, coinciding with the national holiday of Oxi Day.

The visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Athens on October 28 and 29 is “an important sign of the close – and in the spirit of trust – cooperation between the two countries, including in the European context,” Deputy Speaker of the German Federal Government Ulrike Demmer said.

She added that there are many issues of common interest, such as addressing the challenges of climate, health and migration, in which Germany and Greece are working closely together.

Merkel will have dinner with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday (28/10) evening. She will also meet Mitsotakis on Friday morning (29/10) at the Maximos Mansion. A joint press conference is scheduled afterward at 12:30.

During the meeting with the Greek prime minister, bilateral relations, European and international policy issues and economic cooperation will be discussed, Demmer said.

The Chancellor, on Friday, will also be received by the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou and meet with the new representatives of Civil Society.

Last week, Merkel visited Turkey where she met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The German Chancellor quelled any fears about future relations between the countries by expressing that the incoming government, which will be formed from a coalition by multiple political parties, would continue the goodwill.

“We always have common interests, and that’s how the next federal government will see it,” Merkel stated during her visit.

Merkel receives praise for EU leaders

Merkel has been receiving praise from European leaders on Friday as she attended what is likely her last EU summit after a 16-year reign heavily influencing the bloc through major ups and downs.

Merkel has attended a staggering 107 EU summits that saw some of the biggest twists in recent European history, including the eurozone debt crisis, an inflow of Syrian refugees, Brexit and the creation of the bloc’s landmark pandemic recovery fund.

“She is someone who for 16 years has really left her mark on Europe, helping all 27 of us to take the right decisions with a lot of humanity at times that were difficult,” said Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre De Croo.

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel called Merkel a “compromise machine” who “usually did find something to unite us” through several marathon intra-EU negotiations. “Europe will miss her,” he said.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said he hoped Merkel, a “great politician,” would remain on the political scene “in one form or another.”

Angela Merkel not popular in 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.

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