Σάββατο, 9 Μαρτίου 2013

My name is Margarita Papandreou

Maragrita Papandreou  is a former first lady of Greece. She contributed this personal perspective to EnetEnglish, has written a book, Nightmare in Athens, about the 1967-74 Greek dictatorship, and is now writing a memoir.

She is a woman who enjoyed Greece's nepotism at its best. As she claims: "I was the daughter-in-law of a Greek prime minister, the wife of a Greek prime minister and the mother of a Greek prime minister. "


Margarita's letter to the press


Over a month ago as I was climbing out of bed, my cell phone rang. The voice said, “Margarita, there are articles in To Vima and Proto Thema about you. Have you seen them?” I had stopped reading Greek newspapers or listening to Greek TV newscasts because they kept telling lies, and spewing out hatred, fear and anxiety. I don’t want this rage and bleakness in my heart. I know we are better than that. The caller told me that I was supposedly holding an account in Switzerland amounting to $550m dollars!
I shouted, “Is this a joke?”
“You are on the Lagarde list,” the phone caller added. Christine Lagarde is the managing director of the International Monetary Fund and former French finance minister. The list was for uncovering tax-evasion accounts of Greeks, and had been handed over to the “black money” unit of the Greek government for investigation. It was from this unit that bases most of its information on sheer gossip that my name was released to the newspapers. I responded, “Holy Cow,” using the slang of my childhood generation. “Another big lie!”
I had stopped reading Greek newspapers or listening to Greek TV newscasts because they kept telling lies, and spewing out hatred, fear and anxiety.

I have had a number of unexpected events in my life, in fact, I probably should be on Ripley’s list. I was the daughter-in-law of a Greek prime minister, the wife of a Greek prime minister and the mother of a Greek prime minister. My name is Margarita Papandreou. It used to be Margaret Chant, child of a working class family from Elmhurst, Illinois. Perhaps it is not so strange that an American woman became First Lady of Greece. It is consistent with the American dream mentality – a kind of rags to riches story. But I never contemplated the riches that were now assigned to me!

Perhaps it is not so strange that an American woman became First Lady of Greece. It is consistent with the American dream mentality – a kind of rags to riches story. But I never contemplated the riches that were now assigned to me!

I have been described as having high ambitions though. Once in a journey back to my home town as First Lady, I was interviewed by a young journalist from the Chicago Tribune. It was to be “a local girl makes good” story. His first question was “as a little girl running across the plains of Illinois, did you ever dream that you would be the wife of the prime minister of Greece?” When I was that age I didn’t even know Greece existed, nor was I contemplating marriage to anybody. I replied with mock seriousness, “ I dreamt I would BE the prime minister of Greece.”

This revelation was picked up by Greek newspapers, and soon I was charged with having ravenous ambitions, of training Greek women to deny their cultural upbringing and heritage (this referred to my founding of a grassroots feminist organisation), and that the prime minister must put strong shackles on me. It was an early lesson on the use and misuse of humor in public life. Or, at least, my type of humour.
Soon after the phone call from my friend, I had one of the Sunday papers in my hand. There it was, with a fairly nice photo of me, “Mother of George Papandreou involved in Lagarde list.” The second title next to my photo was “as beneficiary of a $550m account”. For quite a while now the Papandreou family has been targeted as the vulture of the entire economic crisis in Greece. The more specific target has been my son George, who, as head of the government, took a loan from the International Monetary Fund – a move that was critical to avoid declaring bankruptcy. He also started the reforms that were needed to bring us out of the crisis.
For quite a while now the Papandreou family has been targeted as the vulture of the entire economic crisis in Greece.

These included crackdowns on foreign accounts. Over 54,000 have been found with more money than they can account for. Rather than applaud, the reformer is being called to task. As life worsened, as jobs got lost, as salaries got cut and as pensions were chopped, there apparently had to be a boogey man, a scapegoat, or in this case, a whole family. Logical? No. But a population hurting, homeless and hungry, is unlikely to use logic in explaining fate. And the newspapers loved to play it up as well. My name had not yet been attacked. Now, it seems, was my turn.

Margarita Papandreou (C) and her son George (Eurokinissi)Margarita Papandreou (C) and her son George (Eurokinissi) I tried to consider what I would do, what my reaction should be to this absolutely untrue charge. Then I got to thinking, dreaming maybe, what could I do for Greece if I had that kind of money? Before I looked at the revenge or attack option, I let my mind wander, imagining different choices. I am an economist only through osmosis. My husband Andreas was head of the department of economics at the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to developing one of the best departments of economics, in competition with the one at Harvard, he was considered a member of the group of top American economists: Galbraith, Samuelson, Kaysen, Tobin, and others.
Something rubbed off on me. Yet I am still an amateur at putting all the pieces together and understanding the vocabulary ... flogged toxic financial derivatives, financial cliff, robo signing, expansionary fiscal expansion, austerity. Ah, that last one I know. We are living it today. I used to like that word when I thought it meant self-restraint, simplicity and self-discipline. As a child it fit my own developing philosophy. It comes from the word “austere”, and the synonyms for that word describe the situation our citizens confront today: harsh, relentless, morose, severe punishment. That last one is it. We are being punished. Not for something we have done – although we are part of the problem, but for a system, the capitalist system gone awry. Or maybe just doing its thing: exploiting the majority so the few at the top can get rich.
I am not going to analyse all of this. I leave that up to the professionals. But what I do know is that the austerity path does not work. And what makes eminent sense to me is that you can’t ask a country to pay back its debt and then rope its body. Let’s say as an illustration that a divorced father does not pay for a child’s care. You put him in jail, cutting him off from a job that provides income, and until he pays, he can’t come out. Does that make sense? On the austerity train, every shop that is obliged to close puts its employees on the bread line. Every new tax declared takes food from the mouth of a baby. And most of that money comes from the lower and middle classes. Now I am Margaret Chant, the 15-year-old after school waitress, the bus girl in the cafeteria of the University of Minnesota’s Student Union, the riveter in the Douglas Aircraft factory during the war, and I am crying out along with my fellow citizens, WHY US?
Every new tax declared takes food from the mouth of a baby. And most of that money comes from the lower and middle classes.

To return to my fantasy, with the money under my name, I would invest in growth, in the country’s future. I would propose a national development plan that would take advantage of our natural and human resources. It will have a vision, for example that our country becomes the center of health in the world. Instead of getting foreign money to pay back our debt, we will pay only when our economy is booming again. And I would be severe on reforms and needed changes of our institutions. I would demand a national audit to know where indeed people have lots of money.

I have two choices. I could start running over the plains ... or I could sue for slander ... My choice is the latter

As for me and the charge against me, I have two choices. I could start running over the plains, the mountains, and sea of this exceptionally beautiful country, with its exceptionally warm-hearted people singing a song from my native country’s 1950’s collection of music – “Make the World Go Away, (get off my shoulders),” though at 89 years of age and a serious fall a few years ago it is difficult for me to run anymore. Or I could sue for slander those who constructed this monstrous story.

My choice is the latter.
* Margarita Papandreou is a former first lady of Greece. She contributed this personal perspective to EnetEnglish, has written a book, Nightmare in Athens, about the 1967-74 Greek dictatorship, and is now writing a memoir

Παρασκευή, 8 Μαρτίου 2013

Celebrating the Greek woman act by Alexandra Valassis




Alexandra Valassis, an actress (actor) from the Greek Communtity of Montreal is playing at the new Montreal production "Palace of the End". Alexandra stated about her new role:

"When I first read this text I cried right through it. I thought to myself, "How am I going to get through this?" As an actor you have to go beyond that & tell the story, educate your audience & bring them along on a journey with you. This is not only a story about pain & suffering it's also a story about compassion for humanity in all its forms."



Montreal’s Waterworks Company is proud to present Judith Thompson’s Iraq War trilogy, “Palace of the End” at Espace 4001, 4001 Berri, March 14-24, 2013.
The production coincides with the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In this gripping triptych of monologues, Canadian writer Judith Thompson imagines the voices of three real-life figures who witness the unfolding disaster from very different times and places:
* A disgraced American soldier defends her actions as a prison guard at Abu Ghraib.
* A weapons inspector exposes the false case for war and, shortly afterwards, ends his life.
* An Iraqi dissident who survived torture in Saddam’s brutal prisons, witnesses her country’s descent into chaos.
Judith Thompson evokes the cruelty, moral ambiguity, and betrayal by the powerful that preceded and followed the invasion, retelling history through the insights of her all-too-human characters.
The Waterworks Company is the project of Montreal director Rob Langford. Previous productions include Sam Shepard’s “Cowboy Mouth” and Montreal writer John Dutton’s “Sane Men”. More recently, Rob directed Clint Earle’s philosophical farce “Adopolis” at the 2012 Fringe for Psychic Puppy Productions.
“Palace of the End” opens Thursday, March 14th. Showtimes are 8 pm Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays, and 2 pm on Sundays. Tickets are $15. There will be a special 2-for-1 price on the Sunday matinée presentation on Sunday, March 17th.

For tickets check here:

Πέμπτη, 7 Μαρτίου 2013

John Catsimatidis: Climbing mountains...

 
 
The National Herald
 
Commentary: Climbing mountains, all his life
By A. H Diamataris

He’s been climbing mountains all his life
It is the topic of discussion throughout the community: The recently announced candidacy of John Catsimatidis for Mayor of New York.
Will he be elected or not, I am often asked.
There are no prophets especially in politics. From one day to the next, a lot can happen. But here it is:
First, ...Catsimatidis will surprise a lot of people who do not believe, at this stage, that he has a serious chance of mayor.
That's mainly because he has the gift of being able to communicate with the average citizens. He is humble, he understands them, he knows their problems, despite the fact that he is rich.
Second, it is clear that he has decided to seek the office of mayor after serious thought and careful study of the political scene.
I recall that in the past he had expressed a desire to run for mayor, but pulled back after carefully weighing the facts.
Third, the community should support him monokouki –total support-not only because he has a Greek name, but also because he is a true member of the community.
See, for example, what he told Cindy Adams in yesterday’s New York Post:
“Look, I’ve climbed mountains all my life. I’m from little Greek island Nisyros, where I could’ve stayed a sheep herder. My busboy father, who never made waiter, moved here. To 135th Street. Today I live in that restaurant owner’s same Fifth Avenue apartment.
“I’ve always climbed mountains. Working in a supermarket, 80 hours a week, $1.10 an hour — cashiers got $1.20 — my tip was 2 cents a bottle, 10 bottles — then I borrowed money and bought the supermarket. In ’77, I started buying properties, one a month. I got a pilot’s license. Bought Roy Disney’s plane. Bought Capitol Airlines with offices in 15 cities. Board member Sen. Fred Thompson had me write a check to Al Gore, and that started me on politics.
“A trustee for my airline was trustee for an oil company. I bought that company. We wrote the deal on a napkin.
“Listen, I once made a landing by myself, with one engine out. I was alone. I don’t like being alone. But I don’t sweat. Other candidates did 10 times worse things than I’ve done. Make my day. Let them go after me.
“I’ve never said no to anybody. I’m 64. A New York Republicrat who wants the next century’s kids to believe in heroes again.
“In ICU, 10 minutes after coming out of the operating room, I wanted my BlackBerry. I love life. I love my family. I love New York City.”
And he loves the Greek-American community Greece and Cyprus

Τετάρτη, 6 Μαρτίου 2013

Fascism and hatred hit Greece

 

A prosecutor on Wednesday ordered an investigation into a documentary aired on Britain’s Channel Four showing a parliamentary candidate for the neofascist Golden Dawn calling for immigrants to be made into soap.

The documentary, titled ‘The Cleaners’ and shot by Greek film student Constantinos Georgousis, who followed Alexandros Plomaritis around Athens for a month last summer, shows party members talking openly about beating immigrants. It also shows Plomaritis saying, “We are ready to turn on the ovens,” and calling for immigrants to be turned into soap and lampshades.

Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris described the video as “tragicomic” and the opinions expressed as “laughable.”

Τρίτη, 5 Μαρτίου 2013

The Rich among the Richies are Greek!


Greeks who made it to the Forbe's list 2013

 

Three Greeks are on the annual list of the world's richest people compiled by American business magazine Forbes, which includes 1,426 names headed by Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim Helu and his family, with a fortune of $73 billion, followed by computing giant Bill Gates with assets worth $67 billion.

Greek banker and shipping leader Spiros Latsis , age 66, and his family rose in the ranking to the 412th spot this year from number 464 in last year's list, with assets of $3.3 billion. The second-wealthiest Greek on the list is British-born Aristotelis Mistakidis, 51, of Glencore International with a fortune of $2.7 billion, while art collector Philippos Niarchos, 59, came in 554th place with assets worth $2.6 billion.

Greek Americans in the Forbe's list 2013

1. John Paul DeJoria

John Paul DeJoria
Net Worth

$4 B As of March 2013


At a Glance

  • Age: 69
  • Source of Wealth: hair products, tequila, self-made
  • Residence: Austin, TX
  • Country of Citizenship: United States
  • Education: Diploma, High School
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: 4

Forbes Lists




 

2.John Catsimatidis

John Catsimatidis
Net Worth

$3 B As of March 2013


At a Glance

  • Age: 64
  • Source of Wealth: oil, real estate, supermarkets, self-made
  • Residence: New York, NY
  • Country of Citizenship: United States
  • Education: Drop Out, New York University
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: 2

Forbes Lists




3.George Argyros

George Argyros
Net Worth

$2 B As of March 2013


At a Glance

  • Chairman and CEO, Arnel & Affiliates
  • Age: 76
  • Source of Wealth: real estate, investments, self-made
  • Residence: Newport Beach, CA
  • Country of Citizenship: United States
  • Education: Bachelor of Arts / Science, Chapman University
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: 3

Forbes Lists




 

4.Michael Jaharis
Michael Jaharis

Net Worth

$1.9 B As of March 2013


At a Glance

  • Age: 84
  • Source of Wealth: pharmaceuticals, self-made
  • Residence: New York, NY
  • Country of Citizenship: United States
  • Education: Doctor of Jurisprudence, DePaul University; Bachelor of Arts / Science, Carroll College Wisconsin
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: 2

Forbes Lists




5.C. Dean Metropoulos
C. Dean Metropoulos
Net Worth

$1.2 B As of March 2013


At a Glance

  • Age: 66
  • Source of Wealth: investments, self-made
  • Residence: Greenwich, CT
  • Country of Citizenship: United States
  • Education: Bachelor of Arts / Science, Babson College; Master of Business Administration, Babson College
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: 2

Forbes Lists



Δευτέρα, 4 Μαρτίου 2013

Greece's Desperate Call

Greece's Desperate Call
Huffington Post

Justine Frangouli-Argyris


The Greek Foreign Minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, arrived in Ottawa on an official two-day visit last week where he held talks with his Canadian counterpart, John Baird. Amidst a climate of mutual respect and friendship, the officials emphasized the historic ties that bond the two nations and pointed to the fact that 2012 marked 70 years of formal diplomatic relations.

In an open invitation to Canadian business to explore the numerous opportunities available in Greece and especially its energy, mining, trade and tourist sectors, Mr. Avramopoulos asserted that the Greek government has made the long overdue necessary reforms to facilitate investment in the country.
Speaking to journalists, he declared:
"I briefed Mr. Baird on the deep changes we are making during this period in Greece -- deep radical changes -- because we have taken a decision through the crisis to lead our country in a new era. Changes that are putting us on the road to recovery and a return to growth... And we talked about the actions we are taking within the European Union to fight the wider European crisis. Investment is vital to Greece's return to growth... We also discussed the new potential for Greek-Canadian business co-operation in sectors where we can capitalize on the comparative advantages of both societies and both countries--sectors like energy, mining, trade and tourism."
Mr. Baird, on his part, praised the close working relationship of the two countries by way of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, delineating the key role of Greece in the region and declaring:
"Greece plays a very stabilizing role in the Eastern Mediterranean. They're obviously a good NATO ally. I think the biggest concerns we have in the Eastern Mediterranean is obviously the situation in Syria where I think we have like-minded views. Obviously security remains a significant concern whether it's the fight against terrorism, the recent events in Bulgaria, for example. Greece is a NATO ally and a like-minded security partner for Canada and we value our relationship."
Both the Canadian Foreign Minister as well as the Speaker of the upper house of the Canadian Parliament or Senate, Noël Kinsella, alluded to the fact that the Greek debt crisis has not been effectively addressed by Greece's European partners. Said Mr. Baird, "One is the fiscal side and the other is growing the economy," and, during a reception hosted by Mr. Kinsella in honor of Mr. Avramopoulos, the Speaker mentioned that the Greek Parliament has progressed by taking many measures but the Europeans are only now coming around to it.

It should be noted that Canada has always been clear about its insistence on a fiscal correction for Greece but has stressed that, on the other hand, economic development must take place as well. Through the words of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the government has continuously urged the European Union to tackle its economic problems by adopting policies that include strong stimulus measures alongside fiscal reforms: "It seems to me if you are going to have an economic entity like the eurozone, you have to be prepared to stand up for your neighbor in the eurozone," he has often stated.

Unfortunately, however, it appears that Canadian pleas have fallen on deaf ears as Greece continues to suffocate under ever-increasing measures of austerity demanded by its allies in the European Union. The country's descent into the economic abyss is evidenced by a gross domestic product that has contracted by over one-quarter over four years and by a rate of decline that continues to accelerate, exceeding, incredibly, 8 percent on an annual basis in the last three months of 2012.

Bravely, the Greeks forge on. Its leaders may, indeed, as the Foreign Minister said, be exploring and defining areas of potential foreign investment and fast-tracking new rules to eliminate much of the red tape surrounding these endeavors.

However, the inability of the government to implement measures to reduce rampant tax evasion continues to place an intolerable burden on the salaried and the retired and to discourage potential business.

Mr. Avramopoulos repeatedly called upon the Greeks of the Diaspora to invest in their homeland during his travels, claiming that the government has created an attractive place for capital inflows but, here, too, rules that stop the fiscal mistreatment of the expatriate community must be instituted if they are to heed his call.

Κυριακή, 3 Μαρτίου 2013

A tax punishment???


Kathimerini, Greece

Major bank loans for property purchases have become a new target in the fight against tax evasion, as authorities are petitioning banks to supply data on loans that have been issued to individuals or corporations whose financial capacity may not justify the size of the loan.

The aim of tax authorities is to identify cases where loans for the acquisition of a professional property or a home have been effectively used for the legitimization of illegal funds or for laundering money from tax evasion.

Tax inspections have already revealed hundreds of cases where loans have been used as a medium through which money acquired through illegal activities has been legitimized, which is why authorities are turning their attention to this category of credit transaction. Emphasis will initially be placed on loans of over 500,000 euros.

According to sources, banks are processing 10 times more demands a day than they were three years ago, taking on the role of tax inspectors. They also say that banks receive dozens of requests every day to open up account data that may date as far as 10 years back. Such demands come not only from the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) but also from the Bank of Greece, anti-money-laundering authorities, financial prosecutors and a variety of agencies that have joined the fight against tax evasion.

At the same time banks are also receiving requests from taxpayers who want certificates and documents identifying their revenues from interest on deposits from previous years, profits from stock transactions, bond revenues and the verification of banking transactions to justify the course of their money from as early as 2000.

As far as capital flight is concerned, SDOE has undertaken the task of tracing some 22 billion euros that was transfered abroad between 2009 and 2012 by 54,000 account holders.
SDOE’s efforts have so far uncovered some 24,000 cases of money being forwarded abroad that merit further inspection, with the account holders being summoned to explain why their stated incomes do not justify the size of their deposits. Finance Ministry sources admit, however, that tracking down the illegal money that left the country in 2009-2012 is no mean task, as depositors often offer vague explanations for their wealth, for instance that they had received very generous wedding gifts.

Meanwhile, authorities are also focusing on an institutional framework activated by the Bank of Greece that allows them to monitor the activity of bank accounts held by individuals categorized as being high or medium risk.

ekathimerini.com , Sunday March 3, 2013 (21:06)