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The Philistines were Likely of Greek Origin, According to DNA

Philistines Greek
The Philistine captives of the Egyptians as portrayed in a relief sculpture in the Medinet Habu Museum. Credit: Remih/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0

Philistines were very likely of Greek origin, as a new DNA study traces the origins of the ancient villains in the Eastern Mediterranean.

This is actually the first study of DNA recovered from an ancient Philistine cemetery, as scientists wanted to find the roots of the infamous people of the Hebrew Bible, according to a new report from the National Geographic.

In the Old Testament, Philistines are presented as being a different race from the Hebrews, coming from the “Land of Caphtor,” which is today’s Crete.

Likely originating out of Crete, the Philistines later took control of the shoreline of today’s southern Israel and the Gaza Strip, beginning in the 12th century BC.

A cemetery gives clues to Philistines’ origins

In 2016, scientists discovered an ancient cemetery near Ashkelon, Israel, containing approximately 150 dead bodies inside oval graves.

A groundbreaking 2019 genetic study showed that the genes of the buried belong to a European gene pool, unlike the Semitic Levantine gene pool of later inhabitants of the area.

According to scientists, there was a European-related gene flow that took place during the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age, which supports the theory that Europeans migrated to the Middle East.

The National Geographic report says that the DNA analysis from human remains covered three different time periods:

From a Middle/Late Bronze Age burial ground (about 1650-1200 BC), which pre-dates the arrival of the Philistines; infant burials from the late 1100 BC, following the arrival of the Philistines; and individuals buried in the Philistine cemetery in the later Iron Age (10th and ninth centuries BC).

The early Iron Age DNA samples include proportionally more “additional European ancestry” in their genetic signature — at roughly 14 percent — than in the pre-Philistine Bronze Age samples, which were 2 to 9 percent.

While the origins of the European genes are not conclusive, the most plausible are that they were from Greece, Crete, Sardinia, or the Iberian peninsula, experts believe.

Many researchers also tie the presence of the Philistines to the exploits of the Sea Peoples,  tribes that raided the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Late Bronze Age in the 13th century and early 12th century BC.

That supports the theory that the Philistines began as migrants from Europe — who were possibly Greek — who then settled in Ashkelon in the 12th century BC.

Philistines Greek
Philistine pottery in the Corinne Mamane Museum of Philistine Culture. Credit:Bukvoed/Wikipedia CC BY 4.0

Philistines often went to war against Israelites

Their arrival in the early 12th century BC is marked by pottery like that of the the ancient Greek world, as well as the use of an Aegean script, and their notable consumption of pork.

Archaeologists agree that the Philistines were different from their Hebrew neighbors, and there were frequent wars between these peoples.

In the Old Testament, Philistines are portrayed as war mongers, and enemies of the Israelites.

The giant Goliath, who fought against and was killed by a young shepherd who later became King David is the best known Philistine in the Bible.

Also, Delilah, the beautiful woman who seduced and cut the hair of the powerful Israelite Samson in order to drain him of his strength, is a Biblical example of the cunning of the Philistines.

The European genes of Philistines eventually disappear

In comparing DNA recovered from the cemetery at Ashkelon only a few centuries after the infant burials, scientists found that their European characteristics had disappeared.

The later Philistine burials were found to have genetic signatures very similar to local populations who had lived in the region before the arrival of the Philistines.

The DNA study shows that the European DNA of the Philistines disappeared within 200 years, most likely because they intermarried widely, and their genetic signature was diluted within the local population.

The findings reinforce the theory that the origin of the Philistine population was likely Greek, Cretan, or Sardinian.

Along with the archaeological discoveries, the DNA study solidifies the theory that Philistines were probably Greek — either from mainland Greece or Crete — who later mixed with local Levantine populations from the early Iron Age onward.

The Philistines were genetically assimilated to the local population, yet they retained their  distinct cultural traits that separated them from their neighbors for more than five centuries.

The Philistines lived in the area for more than five centuries, until they were finally conquered by the Babylonians in the year 604 BC — several years before the 598 BC conquest of the Hebrew people by the Babylonians and their subsequent exile there.

Top Ten Greek Wines That You Need to Try

Greek wine tasting in Santorini
Greek wine tasting in Santorini. Credit: Greek Reporter

In ancient times, Greece was among the noteworthy producers of wine, with the earliest evidence of producing dating back 6,500 years ago.

Greek wine had a high prestige in the Roman Empire and during the Middle Ages, and highly priced wines were exported from Crete, Monemvasia and other Greek ports.

The current situation presents a contrast to Greece’s wine heritage. Modern wines are beginning to emerge in the rest of the world due to their unique value, and they are also setting a trend in the world of wine lovers.

Regions and different kinds of Greek wines

To ensure the origin of the wine, a system of appellations was implemented, creating the Protected Geographical Origin (PGO) and Protected Geographical Identification (PGI), among others. Below are some of the must-taste Greek wines when exploring Greece’s unique flavors.

Assyrtiko wine of Santorini

Probably one of the country’s top wines, it is produced all over Greece but is native to the island of Santorini. A variety that maintains its acidity as it ripens, it results in a lean white wine with lemon flavors and a subtle bitterness and saltiness on the finish.

Assyrtiko labeled as Nykteri (nocturnal) are always oaked and offer more pineapple, cream and baked pie-crust notes.

Moschofilero wine of the Peloponnese

Moschofilero grows in the area of central Peloponnese, and it produces a dry, aromatic white wine offering a crisp character, with flavors of peach and sweet lemon. Aging, the wines develop notes of dried fruits and apricots.

Agiorgitiko wine of Nemea

This variety is native to Nemea, a wine region from the Peloponnese, better-known for this grape. Agiorgitiko wines are full-bodied with flavors of sweet raspberry, blackcurrant and nutmeg with subtle bitter herbs and smooth tannins. The rosé wines made with Agiorgitiko have spiced raspberry notes and a brilliant deep pink color.

Malagousia

Growing especially in Macedonia, Malagousia presents a special that results in full-bodied wines, with a balanced acidity and interesting aromas. This white grape variety is a rather recent discovery, brought back to life by a winery in northern Greece.

Xinomavro

Xinomavro translates as “sour black” and it is the main grape variety of Macedonia, mainly in the areas of Naousa and Amyndeo. Xinomavro presents a good aging potential and a rich tannic character. It is often compared to Nebbiolo due to is dark cherry and licorice notes.

Vidiano wine of Crete

One of the oldest Cretan white grapes, Vidiano is a rising star among the indigenous varieties of the island. It was nearly extinct until Cretan winemakers understood its potential and worked hard to revive its great complexity.

Vidiano produces elegant wines with a variety of white and yellow fruit, citrus fruit and white flowers aromas while remaining robust and full-bodied. Vidiano is one of those varieties that is making a statement in the international world of wine.

Savatiano

Also known as the Saturday grape, Savatiano is the main variety of white wine from the Attica region, with an important resistance to heat. Under cold fermentation, it can offer flavors of green apple and lime. If aged in oak, it is characterized by a more creamy mid-palate. When fermented without cooling, it makes retsina or rustic unresinated wines.

Mavrodaphne

The “black laurel” of Greece is a variety of grown mainly in the Peloponnese and Kephalonia. It is normally blended with the Black Corinth currant grape to produce a late harvest dessert wine with a distinct taste of raisins and chocolate, and high tannins. Some producers are blending it with other varieties, producing rich and full-bodied dry red wines.

Vinsanto – The most famous wine of Santorini

This sun-dried sweet wine comes from the island of Santorini and is made from three white grape varieties: Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri. It is a a wine with aromas of raisin, dried apricot, raspberry and maraschino cherries, which also offers stunning contrasts between sweet and bitter flavors caused by its noticeable tannins, something quite unexpected in a white wine.

Muscat wines of Samos

Muscat of Samos comes in different fashions, both dry and sweet, always with quite aromatic notes. Among the most popular Samian Muscat wine we count Vin Doux, fortified by 15 percent and with less acidity than other Samian varieties.

Another Muscat from Samos is Samos Anthemis, aged in oak for five years, which created an amber color and gives flavors of butterscotch, toffee and light molasses. Finally, Samos Nectar is made from sun-dried grapes and aged for three years in oak. This wine has intense aromas, a darker coffee-like color and presents a lower alcohol level than other Samian dessert wines.

A word on Retsina wine

The most famous wine tourists expect to taste in Greece is this white one infused with the sap of the Allepo pine tree. Retsina wines have aromas of linseed oil with a subtle piney, saline finish. Currently, young Greek wine producers are experimenting both with tradition and innovation in order to offer a new generation of Retsina.

Tollund Man: Revealing the Last Meal of an Iron Age Mummy

tollund man iron age mummy bog body
The “Tollund Man” is so well preserved that he was thought to have been a recent murder victim when he was found in 1950. Credit: Public Domain

The Tollund Man, an unfortunate victim of human sacrifice in Iron Age Denmark, is known as a “bog body,” one of a group of remarkably-well preserved ancient mummies found in Europe’s peat bogs.

Although found over half a century ago in 1950, scientists have now re-analyzed his stomach contents using the latest technology, and they were able to determine the contents of his last meal — barley porridge, flax seeds, and fish, a simple but nutritious meal for that time.

The 2,400-year-old remains of the Tollund Man, who was likely aged 30 to 40 at his time of death, were found in Denmark’s Jutland peninsula by two peat cutters working in the bog.

Bog body was a victim of ritual human sacrifice

His body was so free of decay that they believed he was a recent murder victim, because the leather noose used to kill him was incredibly still hanging around his neck. In actuality, scientists believe he was killed sometime during the period of 405 to 380 BC.

While some posited that he was an executed criminal, experts now theorize that he was the victim of ritual sacrifice. His body was carefully placed in the bog in a fetal position, and his mouth and eyes were closed after death, pointing to the ritual nature of his death.

Experts believe the area may have been an important ritual or religious site. Another naturally-mummified bog body, called the “Elling Woman,” had been found only 200 feet away from the Tollund Man just eleven months before.

She had also been hanged, and is thought to have lived in the Iron Age as well, but it is impossible to determine if she was killed around the same time as the Tollund Man.

Scientists at the time were able to determine that the man had eaten his final meal around 12 to 24 hours before his death by hanging, but they were unable to determine what exactly the contents of his stomach were at the time.

Tollund man, a mummy from the Iron Age, ate simple, nutritious last meal

tollund man iron age mummy
The Tollund Man, an Iron Age mummy found in Denmark. Credit: Chocho8/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

A group of Danish scientists, headed by Nina Hilt Nielsen, director of research at the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark, reexamined the contents of his stomach using current technology, which is much more advanced than that which was available in the 1950s.

Nielsen’s team used advanced technology to analyze microscopic proteins, plant particles, chemicals, and pollen samples from his large and small intestines, and were eventually able to determine that the Tollund Man had eaten a hardy meal of barley-based porridge, flax seeds, and fish before his death.

This is a surprising last meal for a victim of ritual sacrifice, as it does not include any luxurious ingredients or psychoactive substances and analgesics, which are often found in instances of human sacrifice.

There was one odd substance found in his meal, however. Scientists were able to determine that the man had consumed threshing waste, or bits of plant matter and seeds that are usually removed during the threshing process. Some experts believe the substance may have had a ritual aspect to it.

Although simple, the meal was extremely nutritious and filling, as it would have accounted for over half of the man’s daily calories.

Further analysis of the man found that he, however, was not in perfect health. The Tollund Man had been infected with three different parasites at the time of his death, which he likely contracted from eating undercooked meat.

Bog bodies: the stunningly-well preserved mummies of Europe

Bog bodies, found in peat bogs across Northern Europe and Britain, are incredibly well preserved. Some of the bodies found in peat bogs are extremely old, dating as far back as 8,000 BC, and others are as recent as World War II.

Some bodies are so well preserved that their facial hair and clothing is still in perfect condition. This is due to the fact that the peat serves as a refrigerating agent, as the substance is extremely cold, and there is little oxygen in the depths of bogs.

Additionally, sphagnum moss, found in peat bogs, impedes the chemical reactions that are necessary for the decomposition process. These factors make peat bogs the perfect places for natural mummification.

Five Remarkable Marine Animals of Greece (And Where to Find Them)

greece marine animals
Loggerhead turtle in Greece, one of the most majestic marine animals in the country. Credit: Funfood /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Greece’s waters are home to wide range of marine animals, ranging from whales to sea turtles.

By Cliff Blaylock

There is a great fascination among many of us when it comes to sea faring animals. Many remarkable marine animals can be found in the waters of Greece.

Perhaps it is the mystery that allures us. Whatever the reason may be, people cross continents, brave stormy seas and shell out thousands to catch glimpses of some of the sea’s most remarkable creatures.

Mediterranean Monk Seals

marine animals greece
Mediterranean monk seal. Credit: Vasillis Drosakis/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 4.0

The rarest of all the marine animals in Greece, the Monk Seal is a cave-dwelling species of the seldom-seen animal. With just over 600 animals left in the wild, this truly is a rare breed of seal.

Pushed this way by man, hunting and the destruction of their habitat, their numbers have been so greatly reduced that when a new seal colony was discovered, it was kept secret to protect the animals.

These animals are tough to find but a trip to the Alonissos Island National Marine Park in Greece is by far your best bet. A stable population feed in this stretch of water and the rest in the coast’s network of caves.

It might take you a while to spot one, but nowhere else in the Mediterranean is better for it.

Sperm Whales

MARINE ANIMALS GREECE
Sperm whales. Credit: Gabriel Barathieu/ Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

By far the largest marine animal in the sea surrounding Greece is the mighty Sperm Whale.

Capable of reaching 20 meters in length and 60 tons in weight, these squid fighting goliaths are an awe-inspiring sight to behold, above or below the water.

However, given their affinity for diving to great depths, you have to be pretty on the ball to find them.

There are two well-known locations for Sperm Whale sightings: the violent Hellenic trench and the Aegean Sea.

The former is your best chance of finding them, the trench’s deep waters are their favorite hunting spot. However, the swells in this area get pretty big and it is not recommended in anything other than large, fully equipped vessels.

Instead then, head out into the Aegean Sea on the eastern side of Greece. Your best chance of finding one is off the coast of the central islands, such as Mykonos, where the animal is spotted between the months of May and September.

Striped Dolphins

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Dolphins in the Gulf of Corinth. Credit: Oceancare/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Dolphins are on the must see list for many people and luckily they are found in abundance all over the world.

The difficulty however, is pinpointing these marine animals. Intelligent and quick, spotting a dolphin takes time, dedication and a whole lot of luck.

Some places are better for catching glimpses than others, and in Greece, that place is the Gulf of Corinth. A semi-closed off section of the Ionian Sea, this gulf is surrounded by beautiful scenery that worth a visit even without the dolphins.

However, dolphins are present here and if you are looking for a sighting, it is best to scour the coastal regions.

The sheltered nature of the gulf means the waters are often smooth and still, allowing for easier sightings.

Of course, it is entirely possible to catch sight of dolphins riding the waves of cruise ships or frolicking in the water wherever you are in Greece, but if you really want to see them first hand, this gulf is your best bet.

Loggerhead Turtles

turtle island marathonisi
A baby loggerhead in the waters of Zakynthos. Credit: Tony Hisgett /Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 2.0

Perhaps the easiest marine animals to find of all on this list, the Loggerhead Turtles of Zakynthos are a magnificent sight to behold.

Cumbersome and awkward as they come ashore to lay their eggs, but once in the water, these agile and sublime creatures float around gracefully.

While they are popular animals in aquariums across the world, to see one in the wild is really rather special.

As mentioned above, the best place to see these turtles is Zakynthos. Along its southern coast during the months of April, May and June, on the bay of Laganas, to be precise.

You might catch them laying eggs on the beach, although you are more likely to spot them out in the water, waiting for the right moment to make their nest.

Basking Sharks

marine animals greece
Basking sharks may seem scary, but these marine animals found near Greece are harmless to humans. Credit: Public domain

The second biggest of the shark family, but don’t let their name fool you. These harmless creatures swim about, mouth gaping, trying to swallow up any plankton and krill they can find.

Easy to spot, thanks to their dorsal fins and affinity for surface dwelling prey, you will spot them off the coast of Rhodes.

Unlike other sharks, who you might not be so tempted to get in the water with, this gentle tempered and slow moving fish makes for an incredible diving experience.

Most Influential Contemporary Greek-American Authors

Greek-American authors
Jeffrey Eugenides, a noted Greek-American author, was awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2003. Credit: US Embassy Dublin/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Contemporary Greek-American authors often write about topics that can range far and wide, but there is almost always a special nod to Greece that is embedded in their works that can be felt through the page.

Some authors of Greek descent can be found on bookstore shelves and in reading nooks across the world, and have beautiful, distinct messages and writing styles. Five of the most notable and influential Greek-American authors the world over are introduced below.

Most influential Greek-American authors

Jeffrey Eugenides 

Any list of authors of Greek descent would be remiss if it didn’t mention Jeffrey Eugenides, who is perhaps the most well-known Greek-American author still releasing work. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Eugenides has a unique voice and writing style and his books cover topics as varied as teenage mental health, immigration, and the decline of the American city.

Eugenides has had an extremely successful career. His first length novel, “The Virgin Suicides,” published in 1993, was turned into a 1999 Sofia Coppola film of the same name. His second novel, “Middlesex,” was published in 2002 and earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003.

Middlesex pays homage to Eugenides’ Greek roots, following an intersex man of Greek descent in modern Detroit. The first half of the book, however, has a different focus, instead following the early lives of the main character’s grandparents, who were forced to flee Asia Minor during the burning of Smyrna.

His third full-length novel, which was released in 2011, is titled “The Marriage Plot.” Eugenides once more acknowledges his Greek descent in the novel by making one of three main characters a Greek man from Detroit.

 Panio Gianopoulos

Greek-American authors
Panio Gianopoulos has authored two successful novels as well as having enjoyed a notable career as an editor. Credit: Facebook/@Panio Gianopoulos

Panio Gianopolous is a Greek-American author who was born and raised in Massachusetts. Gianopolous, who has worked as both an author and a book editor, has so far published two books, named “A Familiar Beast,” and “How to Break Into Our House and Where We Keep the Money.”

His first novel, “A Familiar Beast,” was the Amazon best book of the month and was a number one Indie book best seller. The novel follows a man named Marcus who watches as his life falls apart and accepts an invitation to visit an old classmate from high school named Edgar who is busy fighting his own demons. The pair plan a deer hunt which prompts Marcus to reevaluate his life.

His second work is a collection of nine short stories about love and dating named “How to Break Into Our House and Where We Keep the Money.” Although Gianopoulos is a successful author and editor in his own right, he is also well-known because of his wife, the  actress Molly Ringwald. Their children all have Greek middle names, clearly a nod to Gianopoulos’ own heritage.

George Pelecanos 

Greek-American authors
George Pelecanos, author of the “Nick Stefanos” trilogy of detective fiction. Credit: Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

George Pelecanos is a prolific Greek-American author, having written more than 20 books and screenplays. Born in Washington D.C., Pelecanos often incorporates parts of his heritage into his work, which mostly falls into the genre of detective fiction.

A lot of Pelecanos’ early work revolved around a Greek Washington D.C. detective named Nick Stefanos. His first three novels were in the first person and narrated by Stefanos, but Pelecanos subsequently chose to expand his work and began to write in the third person, introducing new characters such as crime fighter named Dimitri Karras.

On top of his twenty full-length novels, Pelecanos is also a decorated screenwriter and producer. Frequently collaborating with David Simon, a director and television writer, Pelecanos has written multiple episodes of Simon’s HBO series “The Wire.” Over the course of his long and successful career, he has also won a long list of accolades, including a Writers Guild of America Award for “Outstanding Dramatic Series.”

Arianna Huffington

Greek-American authors
The Greek-American founder of HuffPost, Arianna Huffington, is also the author of a long list of successful books. Credit: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Arianna Huffington’s last name may sound familiar, undoubtedly because she is one of the co-founders of the news media giant, and the former editor-in-chief of, “The Huffington Post.” She is also an author of multiple best-selling books, and many of her fifteen credited titles evoke Greek themes.

Some of her non-fiction novels include “Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend,” and “The Gods of Greece.” Huffington grew up in Greece before moving to the UK at the age of 16 and attending the University of Cambridge, studying economics.

Huffington is almost certainly the most influential Greek woman in media currently, and has now moved on from HuffPost, which was sold to BuzzFeed. She has started a new business which provides behavior change technology called “Thrive Global,” and her latest book “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder,” was an instant international bestseller.

Harry Mark Petrakis 

Harry Mark Petrakis was born in Missouri, the son of Greek immigrants to the United States. Petrakis, whose Greek name was Charalambos, had a long and successful career, publishing upwards of twenty novels throughout his lifetime before his passing in February 2021.

Many of Petrakis’ books centered on residents of Chicago’s Greektown, where he personally grew up. He was still producing works regularly as recently as 2015, and has a very varied bibliography, having authored fiction books, short story anthologies, and non-fiction books. His final book was a full-length autobiography titled “Song of my Life,” which was published when Petrakis was 91 years old.

In 1966 the Greek-American author became an international success with the publishing of his novel “A Dream of Kings,” which won him a nomination for the National Book Award for Fiction for the second year in a row. “A Dream of Kings” was on the “New York Times” Best Seller list for 12 weeks, translated into 12 languages, and made into a Hollywood film of the same name.

Two Killed in Brazen Attack on Ship Mercer Street off Coast of Oman

Mercer Street
The ship Mercer Street was attacked and two were killed, off the coast of Oman. Credit: Wikimedia

A ship called Mercer Street, with ties to Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group, was attacked off Oman, and two were killed in the brazen attack, according to authorities who announced the incident on Friday.

The oil tanker reportedly came under attack on Thursday off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, and two crew members were killed, marking the first shipping-related fatalities after years of assaults targeting shipping in the troubled region.

There was no immediate claim responsibility for the Thursday night raid on the Liberian-flagged tanker. However, a US official stated that it appears a so-called suicide drone was used in the brazen attack, raising the specter of a government or a militia group being involved.

Vessels from the U.S. Navy which were nearby rushed to the scene after the attack and subsequently escorted the tanker to a safe harbor in Oman, according to information provided by a London-based ship management company on Friday.

Mercer Street attack worst shipping-related violence since 2019

The assault was the worst maritime violence in regional attacks on shipping since  the year 2019. US, Israeli and other nations have blamed the attacks on Iran as its nuclear deal with the western world falls apart.

Making the situation even more precarious, Iran seems to be on the cusp of yet another lurch toward isolationism as it prepares to inaugurate as President a hard-line successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei next week.

The Thursday night attack hit the tanker, which was underway at the time, just northeast of the Omani island of Masirah, which is located over 300 kilometers (185 miles) southeast of Oman’s capital city of Muscat.

According to the London-based firm Zodiac Maritime, which is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group, the attack killed one crew member from the United Kingdom and another from Romania. No names were provided and there was no description of exactly how the attack played out.

However, at this point it appears that no other crew members on board were harmed in the assault on the oil tanker.

The Zodiac Maritime statement said “At the time of the incident the vessel was in the northern Indian Ocean, traveling from Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) to Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) with no cargo onboard.”

Per information from the website marinetraffic.com, using satellite data, the vessel had indeed been near where British officials maintain that the attack occurred. The last signal from the ship had been sent sometime on early Friday morning.

Zodiac Maritime stated that the Mercer Street’s owners were Japanese, but declined to name them. Worldwide shipping authority Lloyd’s List has the vessel’s ultimate owner as the Taihei Kaiun Co., which is a part of the Tokyo-based Nippon Yusen Group.

As of Friday afternoon, Zodiac Maritime stated that the Mercer Street was sailing under the control of her crew “to a safe location with a U.S. naval escort.” The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols the entire Mideast, did not respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press.

Mercer Street investigation underway by British, coalition forces

Reportedly, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations group said that an investigation was already underway into the brazen assault on the ship and that coalition forces were taking part in the effort.

A US official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that the attack appeared to have been carried out by a “one-way” drone but that other unmanned aerial vehicles also took part.

The official admitted that it wasn’t immediately known exactly who had launched the attack and declined to elaborate further on the incident.

He made his remarks after an earlier report emerged from private maritime intelligence firm Dryad Global, which stated that there was a drone sighting involving the vessel before to the attack.

Both Iran and Yemen’s Tehran-backed Houthi rebels have used suicide drones, or unmanned aircraft which are loaded with explosives that detonate on impact, in the past.

As of the present time, there have been no statements released from the Omani authorities. The sultanate is located on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula, along crucial shipping routes for oil and gas which are transported through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow opening of the Persian Gulf.

There was also no acknowledgement of the attack from officials in Israel. There have been other Israel-linked ships that have been targeted in the recent past, as a small-scale conflict continues between the two nations, which has seen Israeli officials blame the Islamic Republic for assaults.

Israel itself has been the center of suspicion recently in several major attacks targeting Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Just weeks ago, Iran’s largest warship sank under still-unexplained circumstances in the Gulf of Oman.

However, the attack on Thursday occurred just after the stalling of talks regarding Iran’s nuclear deal in Vienna.

The most recent series of ship attacks which authorities suspected were carried out by Iran started one year after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the accord in 2018.

Iranian media acknowledged the attack, quoting foreign press reports, offered no other comments on the incident.

However, the attack occurred just one night after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Kuwait remarks in which he warned Iran that the Vienna talks “cannot go on indefinitely.”

The attack is the second time this month in which a ship tied to Israeli billionaire Ofer appears to have been targeted. Early in July, the Liberian-flagged container ship CSAV Tyndall, which once also had ties to Zodiac Maritime, experienced an explosion — which is still unexplained — while it was underway in the northern Indian Ocean, according to information from the U.S. Maritime Administration.

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Vaccines for Teens 12 and Over Now Available in Greece

vaccinations for teens
Vaccines for teens 12 and over are now available in Greece. Credit: Public Domain

Greek health authorities announced that Covid-19 vaccines for teens 12 and over is now available in Greece, with the appointment platform for them going online as of Friday.

All vaccine appointments for teens can now be made from the platform at emvolio.gov.gr using Taxisnet codes. Appointments can be made by any parent who belongs to the same household as the child.

In addition, the youngster’s appointment can be booked at the citizen service centre (KEP) or in any pharmacy in Greece.

All minors must be accompanied at the vaccination centers by their parent or guardian.

European Union split in agreeing on efficacy, need for vaccines for teens

At present, European countries appear to be evenly split regarding the administration of coronavirus vaccines to teenagers.

As the fourth wave of coronavirus spreads across the continent — at the height of a tourist season that was hoped to restore the fortunes of tourism-dependent countries — Sixteen nations, including France and Italy, are now vaccinating minors over the age of 12 or plan to start in the near future.

A total of 17 countries in Europe have either decided against this practice or will only inoculate teenagers if they suffer from serious underlying health conditions.

At the end of July, another four countries remain undecided on the practice.

Whether or not to vaccinate children is an increasingly a hot topic in Europe as the spikes in confirmed coronavirus cases in some countries are continuing, thanks to the Delta variant, which was first detected in India.

Fourth wave of coronavirus tearing across France

The French government warned recently that France is seeing the more contagious Delta variant spreading fast across the country. “The risk of a rapid fourth wave is here,” said government spokesman Gabriel Attal at a media briefing earlier this month.

France is now in its fourth wave of COVID-19, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday, while vaccine hesitancy remains a problem there.

Castex said the 18,181 new cases recorded in the 24 hours to Tuesday afternoon represented a 140% jump on the previous week and claimed that 96% of these new infections were observed in unvaccinated people.

“We are in the fourth wave,” Castex told TF1 news. “The infamous Delta variant is here, it is here, it is the majority (of cases) and what characterises it from those that preceded it is that it is much more contagious.

“We must react and at the same time, the key is known, it is not completely new but the contagiousness of this Delta variant obliges us even more, we must vaccinate,” he said.

Eleven French regions are reporting that infection rates have jumped over the past seven days. France has been one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, counting 111,795 coronavirus-related deaths so far.

As of July 30, a total of 53.6% of all French people have been fully vaccinated, according to government health authorities. However, much like in the United States and elsewhere, France is battling vaccine hesitancy.

Last month, the country made teenagers eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination, but widespread vaccine hesitancy in the country remains a problem.

Risks vs benefits of coronavirus vaccines for teens

According to a study by the British scientific journal The Lancet, undertaken in seven countries and published in March, fewer than two out of every million children have died because of the coronavirus.

Many of those who remain opposed to the vaccination of teenagers say that the risks of adverse reactions — including reported heart inflammation episodes, which disappeared even with no treatment — still outweigh the benefits.

On its part, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), notes the important considerations for national public health authorities in the EU to consider when inoculating minors.

It maintains that adolescents would most likely experience few direct benefits from becoming inoculated, although it added that giving the shot to youngsters would of course increase overall population immunity, reducing the spread of the virus and its variants.

Andrea Ammon, the ECDC director, said in a press statement “As vaccination rollout progresses, we are arriving at the stage where vaccination of younger age groups such as adolescents needs to be considered.”

The European medical regulatory body says that factors guiding national health authorities in the bloc should include the incidence of the coronavirus in their populations at any given time. Agreeing with World Health Organization rulings, the ECDC says that countries should bear in mind that there still is a shortage of vaccines on the global scale for poor and developing nations.

Some of these countries have had very little success inoculating even their adult population until now.

The WHO maintains that it is more necessary at present to donate vaccines to developing countries so that they can finally inoculate their own adults who are at a much higher risk, and that it is less urgent to vaccinate teenagers and children, who are much less likely to suffer serious disease.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this year said that the prioritization of low-risk groups, such as children, in wealthy countries was a “moral catastrophe.

“I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents, but right now I urge them to reconsider, and to instead donate vaccines,” he stated.

However, the goodwill that may have been part of a response to that plea has dried up for the most part, as the Delta variant races across the Continent and the world, especially as it is so much more transmissible.

Reaching herd immunity in the countries of the EU is still not happening at the present time although the continent enjoys a higher rate of vaccination than the US as of this week. Epidemiologists now say that 80% of any population must be vaccinated for herd immunity to occur.

European governments move against vaccine hesitancy

Some European medical experts are still occupied by safety concerns regarding the vaccines, stating that more studies must be done to get a complete picture of the risks of inoculation for young people.

Calum Semple, a professor of child health at Britain’s University of Liverpool and an adviser to the British government, said in an interview that he is still not persuaded that the evidence is strong enough to support vaccination of teenagers. His opinion is that not only are they at a very low risk for the virus, but also “we don’t have complete safety data for the vaccines.”

Britain, like Germany, is currently vaccinating teenagers but only if they have serious health conditions. The government has still not made a decision on whether or not all teenagers should receive inoculations.

Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which advises the British government, will report soon on whether teenagers as a whole should receive shots, but reportedly it is leaning against that concept, fearing even the very rare side effects which have occurred in teens in other nations, including the US.

However, according to recent polls,  British parents overwhelmingly desire vaccinations for their children, hoping in part that this will stop the ongoing disruptions in schooling.

Great Britain’s Office for National Statistics showed in a recent survey that nine out of ten parents would “definitely” or “probably” vaccinate their children if the shots were available to them, with only 4% of parents objecting to the practice,

CDC: Delta Variant Spreads as Easily as Chicken Pox; More Severe

delta variant
The Delta variant is spreading quickly in Greece, and the unvaccinated are particularly vulnerable. Credit: Greek Reporter

An internal US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) document warns that the Delta variant of the coronavirus appears to spread as easily as chickenpox; not only that, but it also causes a more severe infection in those who contract it.

The slide presentation out of the CDC summarizes previously unpublished data that shows that those who are fully vaccinated might even spread the Delta variant of the coronavirus at the same rate as those who are unvaccinated.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who had previously warned that the US would undergo a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” confirmed the document’s authenticity, which was first revealed by The Washington Post.

The surprising news comes as states grapple with renewed masking mandates, and the federal government calls for mandatory vaccinations for workers, with draconian stipulations for those workers who refuse to be inoculated.

Vast majority of new Delta variant infections in unvaccinated

New outbreaks are occurring all over the US, with the vast majority of them in those who have refused to get the shot. In some areas, the rate of infection hovers between 98% and 99% of those who are unvaccinated.

At the same time, the issue of whether to get a third, or booster, shot of the vaccine is still on the table as the Pfizer corporation stated recently that they were indeed efficacious.

Their data shows that antibodies in those ages ages 18 to 55 increase by five times after getting a third dose of the vaccine.

The increase is even greater for older people ages 65 to 85, with eleven times as many antibodies in seniors who received a third shot. The data pool for these findings is currently limited to just twenty three people and has not yet gone through the extensive process of peer review.

The data was presented during a company earnings call this morning by Dr. Mikael Dolsten, who is the head of worldwide research, development and medical for Pfizer.

The nation of Greece is now inoculating all 12 to 15-year-olds and Israel is beginning its own campaign urging all eligible youngsters to get the shot, citing new outbreaks of the more infectious Delta variant.

Reinstated masking mandates are once again becoming a hot topic across the United States and the world, as scientists maintain that they help in stopping the spread of the virus although the vaccine offers a great deal of protection against all forms of it.

Even those who are fully vaccinated are now encouraged to wear masks in indoor public places in some states across the nation as a means of helping to limit the spread of the Delta variant to the unvaccinated.

The CDC is now recommending that everyone, including all students, staff and visitors, wear a mask in school this upcoming year, regardless of their own vaccination status.

Updated guidance, including new masking mandates, for fully vaccinated to fight Delta variant

Later today the CDC is expected to publish results from studies that will back Dr. Walensky’s decision to change the body’s guidance for those who have been fully vaccinated.

Earlier this week she said that the CDC now recommends that even fully vaccinated people mask up indoors in places where the transmission of the virus is known to be high. The new mandates may call for nationwide masking mandates, experts say.

“The measures we need to get this under control — they’re extreme. The measures you need are extreme,” Walensky told interviewers from CNN.

She added that the data in the report was not surprising, noting “It was the synthesis of the data all in one place that was sobering.”

The recently-revealed CDC slide presentation states plainly that the Delta variant is approximately as transmissible as chickenpox, a highly-transmissible disease of children.

On average, each chicken pox sufferer infects between eight or nine other people.

The original coronavirus had a transmissibility of approximately that of the common cold, with each infected case passing on the virus to two other people, on average. The rate of infectiousness is known as R0.

Walensky noted that “When you think about diseases that have an R0 of eight or nine — there aren’t that many.”

In an unwelcome new twist, the new research says that even duly-vaccinated people can carry as much virus in their bodies as unvaccinated people — even if they themselves do not have severe symptoms of the virus.

Unfortunately, this means they are just as prone to infect someone else as the unvaccinated people who become infected with the Delta variant.

Dr. Walter Orenstein, the chief of the Emory Vaccine Center, one of the people who actually saw the documents, told CNN “The bottom line was that, in contrast to the other variants, vaccinated people, even if they didn’t get sick, got infected and shed virus at similar levels as unvaccinated people who got infected.”

Still this does not mean that vaccinated people are at elevated risk of serious disease from the Delta variant themselves — a crucial selling point for the vaccine.

The document states that “Vaccines prevent more than 90% of severe disease, but may be less effective at preventing infection or transmission. Therefore, (there will be) more breakthrough and more community spread, despite vaccination.”

The slide show information indicates that vaccines indeed reduce the risk of severe disease or death by a multiple of ten times, and reduce the risk of infection by three times.

“The war has changed”

The CDC’s presentation includes data from three different reports that show that the Delta variant may indeed cause more severe disease in those it infects.

The presentation advises that the CDC itself must “acknowledge the war has changed,” recommending the unpopular vaccine mandates as well as reimposing universal masking requirements.

In the United States, which has large areas, particularly in the South, where there is widespread vaccine skepticism and hesitancy, there was an average of more than 61,300 new daily cases over the last week.

The US now has fewer vaccinated people than the EU, which for many months lagged behind the US in vaccination rates.

In June, the nation was enjoying a respite from the virus as vaccination rates up until then had continued to climb and the variant had not yet hit full force in the country.

Since then, infection rates have risen fairly steadily, as revealed by Johns Hopkins University data, from a 2021 low of 11,299 new cases on June 22.

JHU noted that as of Wednesday, the number of cases had risen in all but one state in the past seven days compared with the week prior.

CDC head Walensky noted on Friday that “The number of cases we have now is higher than any number we had on any given day last summer.

“The one thing I will say is I’ve been heartened in the past couple of days to see more people taking action in response to the fact that it’s bad — more organizations, businesses, states, localities taking the action that’s needed to get us out of this,” Walensky noted in the interview.

CDC falls down regarding releasing of breakthrough infection data

However, the slideshow was critical of the CDC itself when it came to the release and explication of information regarding the exact risk of breakthrough infections, an increasing area of concern for those who followed all the guidelines and duly received their shots as the CDC had recommended.

The CDC document discusses what it referred to as “communication challenges” regarding breakthrough infections, along with how the health authority must retool public health messaging to stress vaccination as the best protection against the Delta variant.

The slideshow information states that the agency must “improve (the) public’s understanding of breakthrough infections” and “improve communications around individual risk among vaccinated.”

On Thursday, President Biden had noted while announcing that all Federal workers must be vaccinated or face a raft of restrictions that “This is an American tragedy. People are dying — and will die — who don’t have to die.

“If you’re out there unvaccinated, you don’t have to die,” Biden stated in his remarks at the White House.

“Read the news. You’ll see stories of unvaccinated patients in hospitals, as they’re lying in bed dying from Covid-19, they’re asking, ‘Doc, can I get the vaccine?’ The doctors have to say, ‘Sorry, it’s too late.’ “

Greece Braces for Worst Heatwave in Years; Emergency Measures Announced

Greece Heatwave
Greece is getting ready for another brutal heatwave. Credit: Aasif Iqbal J – Flickr – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Greece is preparing for one of the worst heatwaves in the country’s recent history, and the country’s authorities are ramping up their efforts to address potential disruptions.

An emergency meeting was held on Friday in the headquarters of the Civil Protection Secretariat in Athens.

The minister of Citizens’ Protection Michael Chrysochoidis, along with the Alternate Minister of Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Chardalias, chaired the meeting with high-ranking officials.

”All together, the state, local governments, private sector, and citizens will work together to prevent unpleasant situations,” Chrysochoides told reporters following the meeting in Athens.

Greece Announces Emergency Measures for Heatwave

The Minister announced four steps that the government is going to take to prevent the worst.

Firstly, authorities now advise everyone in Greece ”to avoid every single activity that could cause a fire.” For this reason, in addition to the Fire Service, the government orders the Hellenic Police to assist in fire protection. Police officers will now conduct patrols to locate any outbreaks of fire so that the Fire Service would be able to rush to the scene much faster and control them more quickly.

Secondly, the minister urged the citizens to make ”targeted use of water and electricity,” so that the country does not experience water or power outages. Additionally, the National Health Service (ESY) has been put on high alert to address any inflow of people with heat-related diseases, such as heat exhaustion or heatstrokes.

Thirdly, further announcements will follow in regard to the facilitation of vulnerable groups. Traditionally in Greece, public and even private venues with air conditioning remain open 24 hours a day during heatwaves to welcome homeless or other vulnerable people who don’t have the means to cool themselves down.

Lastly, both private and public sector employees will have to be protected by the extreme weather conditions, with every employer having to make sure that they remain safe.

Additionally, the Civil Protection of the country is now urging all people in Greece to avoid all unnecessary travel.

Earlier on Thursday, the leader of the opposition, Alexis Tsipras, had urged the government to declare Monday, August 2 a national bank holiday so that people could stay at home and avoid being exposed to the dangerously high temperatures.

However, the government has not responded to this request yet.

Temperatures well above 40 degrees Celcius expected

This is not the first brutal heatwave the country has faced this summer; however, forecasts show that temperatures are supposed to skyrocket again to 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit) in some parts Greece, reminding many of the deadly 1987 heatwave.

Earlier this week, the National Meteorological Service of Greece EMY issued an urgent announcement to bring awareness to the dangers associated with the soaring temperatures Greece will face in the coming days.

From Tuesday onward, temperatures have been taking a gradual upward turn that won’t stop at least until next Tuesday.

This is due to the hot air masses which are traveling from north Africa to the countries of Italy and Greece and send thermometers skyrocketing in both nations.

This heatwave will be at its absolute worst beginning today, Friday, July 30, to Tuesday, August 3.

Meteorologist Klearchos Marousakis, interviewed on the Greek television channel OPEN, earlier this week said that the heatwave will be one of the worst Greece has ever seen.

“According to current data, this heatwave, at least in terms of its duration, will be reminiscent of the great heat wave of 1987,” Marousakis said.

However, he was quick to remind viewers of the significant strides that Greece and the world has made since 1987 which means that temperatures of this magnitude are no longer likely to have such tragic outcomes.

Greeks remember 1987 heatwave that killed 1,300

July 20, 1987 marked the beginning of the deadliest heatwave in modern Greek history which left 1,300 dead people in its wake.

The heatwave was of unprecedented duration, since the whole of Greece’s mainland was burning up for seven to eight days, with city temperatures exceeding 40 degrees. The continuous windless days, along with the high humidity, created a lethal combination.

According to newspapers at the time, temperatures did not fall below 30 degrees Celsius — even at night — during that meteorological event. Air conditioners and air coolers were also not widely used in 1987, leaving millions of Greeks at the mercy of the cruel phenomenon.

The majority of the victims were elderly people. Official figures spoke of 1,300 dead, with unofficial estimates rising to 1,500 victims. The greatest amount of casualties were recorded in the Attica region, amounting to 1,115 dead.

The press at the time painted a rather harrowing picture with screaming headlines of “Infernos” and “God Help Us.” Reporters wrote about overflowing hospital morgues and the transferring of dead bodies to Army camp morgues, while funeral homes did not have enough time to prepare the dead for burial.

Milwaukee Bucks Draft Greek Player Georgios Kalaitzakis

Milwaukee Bucks draft Georgios Kalaitzakis
Georgios Kalaitzakis has been drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks. Credit: Georgios Kalaitzakis/Instagram

Georgios Kalaitzakis has been drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in a draft trade with the Indiana Pacers. The Bucks selected the 22 year-old Kalaitzakis, who currently plays professionally in Greece with Panathinaikos. His contract with Panathinaikos is set to expire in 2022.

Kalaitzakis has a twin brother, Panos, who plays for the Lithuanian professional basketball league with Lietkabelis.

The Bucks’ GM Jon Horst spoke about the potential he sees in Kalaitzakis and what he expects from him now that he’s been drafted to the Milwaukee Bucks:

“He is to be determined, like a lot of times. You still have to figure out buyouts, you have to figure out contracts that will make sense. We’re excited about him from a skill-set standpoint and size – he’s 6-6, 6-7 – really versatile. Has played at a high level. Hasn’t played a lot of minutes but he’s played in a really competitive league and played for Panathinaikos. He’s got toughness. So I think there’s a place and a way for him to come over now, potentially, but he’s a development guy. We’re going to really invest in him the right way and try to bring him along the right way and develop him and try to figure out when that is and how that is. He’s an interesting guy. He’s kind of fun to watch and study and he’s got really great upside.”

Horst continued, “I think he’s willing to put in the work and he’ll do that and hopefully we can really help him develop and come along whenever that is, whether it’s this year or going forward. He’s an interesting guy. … For us and the way that we play, guys that can make reads off the second side of the ball and can make an open shot and have competitiveness and have size, we’ve done well with those guys.”

The Milwaukee Bucks’ huge season with Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns 100-94 in game six of the NBA finals to win the 2021 NBA Championship last week. Giannis Antetokounmpo once again led the team to a great game to secure the first Championship of his career.

Behind 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks from their superstar forward, the Bucks held off the Phoenix Suns to win the franchise’s first championship since 1971 on their home court.

They did so in front of a madhouse, sellout crowd of more than 17,000 fans inside Fiserv Forum — along with a truly remarkable 65,000 more fans assembled outside into the “Deer District” surrounding the building.

Antetokounmpo won the Bill Russell NBA Finals’ Most Valuable Player Award.

His 50 points were tied for the most all-time in a closeout game of the NBA Finals, per ESPN Stats and Information research, equaling Bob Pettit’s 50 points for the St. Louis Hawks at home in Game 6 of the 1958 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.