Πέμπτη, 4 Απριλίου 2013

Golden Dawn unmasked by Montreal filmmakers!

Montreal filmmakers exposing Golden Dawn in 29 minutes

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Peter James (L) and Philippos Balabanos (R) on the set of Dichotomous with members of the cast and crew
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The actual filming of Dichotomous - an official selection at the 2013 Greek Film & Foto Week in Toronto next month - could be made into a documentary about two Greek Canadian filmmakers in Montreal determined to make it against all odds.
There was controversy: The film, which is about the rise of Greece’s right-wing anti-immigrant nationalist party Golden Dawn in North America, sparked plenty of debate. And there were a number of unpredictable twists and turns: After unsuccessfully seeking funding for the film on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, the two Greek Canadian filmmakers, Philippos Balabanos and Peter James, struggled to complete the film on a very tight budget and even tighter shooting schedule. Cast and crew took a 100% pay cut.
The behind-the-scenes drama continued when the film was initially disqualified from the Greek Film & Foto Week because it was 14 minutes too long.
“In the end, everything worked out,” says Balabanos. “We waited to hear what the Greek America Foundation would decide to do with us.”
The Greek America Foundation decided to make Dichotomous one of its featured shorts for the Greek Film & Foto Week.
“Going into the shoot, I had a nagging feeling that we may have made too big of a film,” says Balabanos. “Peter had warned me there was no way we were going to do it, but I thought we had to go ahead and make the film. There was no way we could cut it to 15 minutes. We cut as much out without taking away from the story or the meaning of it. I think it was always meant to be a 29 minute story.”
Five locations, three days, one message
Dichotomous tells the story of Nick Dysmas (Peter James), a Greek Canadian photojournalist who has been covering the rise of the Golden Dawn in Greece. When he returns to his hometown of Montreal, he learns that Golden Dawn have opened a local branch. Through a twist of fate, his road converges with the local Golden Dawn leader known only as The Chief (Constantine Kourtidis) and the two find themselves on a path which tests their beliefs and endangers everything they hold dear.
It’s the first film short produced in Canada to address the growing popularity of Greece’s extreme (also described by critics as Neo-Nazi) Golden Dawn party among Greek expatriate communities.

James and Balabanos (photo, L-R) shot the film over three days at five locations across Montreal.
“As far as the actual making of the film, I have to say it was a weird experience,” says Balabanos. “It was just chaos. I wouldn’t call it fun, but it was satisfying.

“I hadn’t realized just how little people know about Golden Dawn’s origins,” he adds. “They only know what they hear on TV. They don’t know about Golden Dawn’s longterm goals, which is all on their website.”
Most members of the local Greek community are still very “hesitant” about the film, which is scheduled to premiere in Montreal on April 6 (see below for more details) . “People are supportive, but are keeping their distance,” says Balabanos. “I can understand this because Golden Dawn has ties with the Greek government and they are an official party.”
“We stuck to our story,” adds James. “We didn’t go to any extremes. We did not make this movie to - excuse my language - piss off Golden Dawn or anything like that. But we knew there would be some backlash... There were some rumblings from one of the local chapters [of Golden Dawn] when were making the film. Some people weren’t too happy.”
Both James and Balabanos say they are “very proud” of the film and hope that “it will speak to at least a few of the young minds which have been washed up into the terrifying phenomenon which is the Golden Dawn”. Even if it doesn’t, they say “it's a hell of ride with some great twists along the way".
Hope for Greece fundraiser
Balabanos and James have decided to dedicate the premiere screening of Dichotomous in Montreal (De Seve Theatre) on April 6 to the people of Greece.
A large part of the proceeds from the sale of the tickets will be donated to the Greek America Foundation’s Project Hope for Greece (a nationwide fundraising effort to support a range of charities and important institutions in Greece that are responding to the crisis in substantive and systematic ways and working to solve important problems for the people of Greece).
The April 6 screening is sponsored by PHOS films, carpe noctem pictures, the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal and the Greek America Foundation.
Ten dollars of every $15 admission ticket sold will be donated to Project Hope. The rest will be used to cover the cost of the screening.

Τετάρτη, 3 Απριλίου 2013

NY still in winter mood

We spent the Easter weekend in NYNY and we enjoyed every moment of it. The city still lives its winter, the trees are not green yet, the wind was strong, the temperatures were low.

Nevertheless, the windows are full of spring colors, the new spring/summer collections are out already and you smell orange blossoms in the air.

I am madly in love with Manhattan.

 Fulton Market has not recovered yet from Sandy
 Trees are still bare

 Central Parc still has the winter look
 New World Center tower is almost ready
 Plazza hotels is a landmark of the American Metropolis
 A view from the Parc
 Touring around
 I love midtown NY
 A blend of Art Deco and new ear architecture downtown NY

 Mercer's kitchen is the best bistrot in Soho. The manager (in the middle) is Greek and looks like Antonio Banderas!
 The Stock Exchange has had some highs lately
 Lonely in the Central Parc
 Homeless are still around
 Wall Street

Πέμπτη, 28 Μαρτίου 2013

Germany:Europe's Greedy Boss!

Justine Frangouli-Argyris
Huffington Post

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem's comments after a painstaking, last-minute bailout deal for Cyprus was reached in the wee hours of Monday morning sent shivers through global financial markets. The recently appointed president of the influential Eurogroup, responding to questions from Reuters' and the Financial Times' correspondents, praised the plan as a template for resolving the area's banking problems and indicated that other eurozone countries could restructure their weak financial institutions along similar lines.
With this striking turn of events, it appears that Germany and its northern allies have, once again, forced a new set of humiliating rules on their troubled southern European partners. Using Cyprus as a scapegoat, the Germans have brought the whole banking sector in the periphery to its knees by demanding that uninsured depositors bear the brunt of any bank recapitalization.
Thus, as shocked major account holders in Cyprus' second largest lender, Laiki Bank, witness the disappearance of a chunk of their savings, the island nation's European neighbors must be terrified as to when they will have a restructuring imposed on them under the threat of bankruptcy and exit from the euro.
There can be no doubt that the Germans' insistence on such brutal terms was an act neither simple nor random in nature. Fundamentally changing the rules under which economies operate across the continent by requiring that insolvent banks be rescued by their major clients, depositors will now be recognized as investors who must assume risk in order to hand over their savings. As such, what wealthy entity, be it a large corporation or fund, for example, would dare hold its assets anywhere but in the safe lands of the north?
Germany has benefited enormously from its European experiment. With nearly two-thirds of its exports going to the eurozone, its economy has flourished with very low unemployment and steady growth. However, once the weaker members, having spent recklessly acquiring all the Germans had to offer, come calling for assistance, they are greeted with demands of savage cutbacks.
For, from the outset, Angela Merkel was adamantly unwilling to use the tools at her disposal to improve the lot of those in need. She refused to issue so-called "eurobonds" to pool the debt of the 17 eurozone states and rejected the notion of the European Central Bank acting as "lender of last resort," measures that would serve to significantly bring down the cost of servicing the struggling members' debt.
She fought against big increases in the size of the European Stability Mechanism, leaving it far short of the required funds should Italy or Spain find themselves unable to borrow on the open market. She called for the implementation of endless austerity in Greece, slashing wages and pensions and raising taxes, knowing full well that such measures during difficult times can only have tragic consequences.
By fomenting this never-ending economic crisis, Germany is able to provide a weak euro to keep its heavy industries humming and to borrow at negative real interest rates, allowing it to save at least 15 billion euros in interest costs over 10 years according to a study by the Kiel Institute.
Not ones to stop while ahead, it seems that the Germans have found a new weapon to add to their arsenal. With their southern partners' economies collapse resulting in these nations being unable to purchase many imported goods, Germany has decided to pursue the only assets left to be had, namely the funds remaining in their banks.
By extorting billions from Cyprus, shutting down the Cypriot "offshore" economic model and exposing all the perimeter nations' depositors to huge potential losses, they are forcing all the monies in the eurozone northward.
Wars can be fought on the ground in the trenches and through the air with fighter planes but this occupation has taken on the color of money!

Τετάρτη, 27 Μαρτίου 2013

High Heels For Six published by Amazon.com

Cover designed by Nflekto
A book review by Jeanie E. Warnock, PhD. (English Literature, University of Ottawa)


As editor and co-translator of High Heels for Six by Justine Frangouli-Argyris, I was drawn to the novel by the rich layering of its narrative and the psychological complexity of its characterizations. Alternately set in turbulent post-war Greece and the heart of cosmopolitan Montreal, the novel chronicles the lives of six schoolgirl friends, reunited after more than twenty years of separation. Boldly unfolding the success—and failure—of twentieth-century feminism in liberating women’s desire, Frangouli-Argyris’ novel explores the travails of the female spirit in post-modern society.


After a devastating family tragedy, seventeen year-old Julia is sent away from her home in the islands of Greece to distant relatives in Montreal, Canada. Tormented by memories of her dead father’s eyes, Julia turns her back on her past and refashions herself as the cherished wife of a wealthy French Canadian. Only her paintings, increasingly well-received on the world art scene, hint at the depths of the anguish that drive her, the dark rivers of blood that flow through the landscapes of her canvas—and her psyche. An unwilling immigrant who accepts the pain of exile in order to survive, Julia cannot forget her long-lost friends and makes a fateful decision to fulfill their childhood promise to meet again at the age of forty.


Modelling her novel on a real life tragedy from the past, Frangouli-Argyris sketches out the lives of the six women in a series of intertwining vignettes that join past to present and reality to desire. With dextrous strokes and a flair for the unexpected, she lays out the overlapping lives of the women: serious, scholarly Athena, who embraces communism, astrophysics and love with an equal fervour; earnest and dutiful Maria, finally stirred to an unexpected rebellion; bright, brittle Kate, whose glittering exterior conceals a shame she cannot speak; delicate ballerina Amy, who drowns a broken heart in oceans of fat; and wild Nancy, whose passionate love affairs cannot calm her restless spirit or the black depression that haunts her.


But it is in its depiction of the relationship between her two central characters, Julia and Nancy, that the novel achieves its greatest power, and Frangouli-Argyris presents a moving picture of the way the dead and the absent may continue to influence the lives of the living. Separated for twenty years, the spirits of the two friends have remained intertwined, their connection symbolized by a child’s pair of high heel shoes and their lives doubled like a mirror reflection.


Masterfully crafted, the novel brings the six friends together for a reunion that explores both the fulfillment and the betrayal of their childhood dreams.  Central to this coming together are a series of paintings done by Julia herself, entitled “The Schoolgirls” and envisioning her adult friends as glamorous, successful twenty-first century women.  As art encounters reality and past confronts present, the six friends are compelled to reassess their lives and the choices that have defined them. Have they achieved the freedom denied their mothers and become capable of acting on their desires? Or have the promises of feminism been a shifting and ultimately treacherous mirage?


The truth, Frangouli-Argyris suggests, ultimately rests in the pictures themselves and the capacity of love and art to transform human existence. While Julia’s idealized images of her long-lost school friends seem far off the mark, the pictures reveal the enduring essence of the love that has survived more than twenty year’s absence. It is the women’s loyalty to their schoolgirl friendship that has sustained them—and that finally gives Julia the courage to lay her past to rest and forgive her father.


---Jeanie E. Warnock, PhD. (English Literature, University of Ottawa)


Τρίτη, 26 Μαρτίου 2013

Export limits and a ban of cashing cheques in Cyprus

Cyprus to bring in weekly cash curbs

BBC Gavin Hewitt


Cyprus finance ministers are planning to impose a weekly limit on cash withdrawals, the BBC has learned.

The country's draft capital controls include export limits on euros and a ban on cashing cheques, says Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason.

In addition, fixed-term deposits will have to be held until maturity.

Cyprus's finance minister earlier confirmed that depositors with more than 100,000 euros could see 40% of their funds converted into bank shares.

But Michalis Sarris also said that Cypriot depositors with less than 100,000 euros in their accounts "will not be hit".

"The exact percentage is not... yet decided but it is going to be significant," he told the BBC.

Bank of Cyprus chairman Andreas Artemis later handed in his resignation.

Media reports said his letter would be examined by the bank's board of directors when they convened in the afternoon.

His resignation suggests the country's financial establishment is still reeling, says the BBC's Europe correspondent Chris Morris, reporting from Nicosia.

In other Cyprus-related developments:

  • The Department for Work and Pensions has said British pensions will not be paid into Cypriot bank accounts for the foreseeable future and has advised expats to open UK accounts
  • Piraeus, Greece's third-biggest lender, said it has signed an agreement to acquire all of the deposits, loans and branches owned by the Greek subsidiaries of three Cypriot banks - Bank of Cyprus, Laiki, and the Hellenic Bank - for 524m euros (£445m)
  • The head of the eurozone group of finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said there were no apparent signs of increased withdrawals of savings from peripheral to core countries in the region as a result of the Cyprus crisis.
Capital controls

The final size of the loss faced by investors will depend on how the government decides to protect pensions, Mr Sarris said.

He confirmed that all Cypriot banks will remain closed until Thursday and that capital controls will be placed on the size and the amount of money people will be allowed to withdraw once the banks have reopened.

These restrictions would "probably be a bit stricter" on the country's two largest banks, Bank of Cyprus and Laiki, and would remain in place until the banking system "stabilises", he said.

The exact details of this "two tier system" would be hammered out with the banks later on Tuesday, he said.

Mr Sarris is expecting "some bleeding, some outflow" of funds once the banks reopen, but believes that once EU bailout funds begin flowing "in a matter of weeks", confidence will return.

Although the economy would be badly hit by the economic crisis, Mr Sarris admitted, he maintained that it could benefit from "an energy boom", referring to the exploratory Aphrodite gas fields off the southern coast of the island.

"Yes, there will be a problem but we will overcome it in a relatively short period of time", he said. He also said his government had renegotiated more favourable loans terms with Russia.

The Cypriot authorities had said all but the biggest two banks would open on Tuesday.

Banks have not been open since 15 March. Their reopening had been expected after Cyprus agreed a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU) that releases 10bn euros in support.

Eurozone bailouts

It was conditional on Cyprus itself raising 5.8bn euros, most of which looks likely to come from depositors with more than 100,000 euros (£85,000) in Bank of Cyprus and Laiki or Popular Bank.
'Unique case'
Members of the European Central Bank (ECB) have been emphasising their view that Cyprus is an isolated case within the eurozone, and that the proposed rescue plan would not be applicable to other eurozone countries.

Speaking to reporters at a conference in Prague, Ewald Nowotny, member of the ECB's governing council, said: "Cyprus is a special case. It is no model for other instances" - a view earlier expressed by Benoit Coeure, ECB executive board member.

On Monday, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the eurozone's finance ministers, had spooked the markets when he suggested Cyprus's bailout could serve as template for crises elsewhere - comments he later retracted.

Many analysts had been concerned that the Cyprus crisis would spread to the wider eurozone had the country been forced to give up the single currency.

There were fears that the country's possible exit from the euro would trigger a loss of confidence across the single currency bloc, and prompt investors to withdraw from other troubled economies, such as Greece.

Do you have funds in Cyprus banks? How is the banks' closure affecting you? What is your reaction to the bailout? Send us your comments and experiences using the form

Δευτέρα, 25 Μαρτίου 2013

A disatrous deal for Cyprus

Unfortunately, Cyprus instead of sticking to its guns, it was finally forced to accept a most disastrous agreement made by troika. Cyprus's economy is going to recession and nothing will be the same again for the island of Aprhodite.

It is unfortunate that Germany is so greedy and  France is so indifferent. After the blunt robbery of Cyprus's banks Europe is going to be dismantled sooner than later.


Cyprus bailout: Deal reached in Eurogroup talks

Gavin Hewitt
Eurozone finance ministers have agreed a 10bn-euro bailout deal for Cyprus to prevent its banking system collapsing and keep the country in the eurozone.

Laiki (Popular) Bank - the country's second-biggest - will be wound down and deposit-holders with more than 100,000 euros ($130,000; £85,000) will face big losses.

However, all deposits under 100,000 euros will be "fully guaranteed".

Officials warn the island faces a deep recession with many businesses to shut.

Bondholders and those with deposits of more than 100,000 euros face significant losses; perhaps 40% or more”

"It's not that we won a battle, but we really have avoided a disastrous exit from the eurozone," he said.

There will be relief in Cyprus that small depositors have been protected, but the deal comes at a heavy price, BBC correspondents say.

The chairman of the Cypriot parliament's finance committee, Nicholas Papadopolous, said the agreement made "no economic sense".

"We are heading for a deep recession, high unemployment. They wanted to send a message that the Cypriot economy ought to be destroyed, and they've succeeded in a large part - they've destroyed our banking sector," he told the BBC.

EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn conceded that the "depth of the financial crisis in Cyprus means that the near future will be difficult for the country and its people".

Financial markets in Asia and Europe rose in early trading on news of the agreement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told his government to look at restructuring a 2.5bn-euro loan extended to Cyprus in 2011.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says suspicion has been growing in Russia that Europe is using the banking crisis to target Russian money in Cyprus.

Cash cap

Bailout deal

  • To qualify for 10bn-euro bailout, Cyprus must raise 5.8bn euros

  • Its biggest bank - Bank of Cyprus - to be restructured

  • Second biggest bank - Laiki - to be wound up and split into a "good" and "bad" bank

  • Accounts holding under 100,000 euros will be protected in both banks

  • Deposits of more than 100,000 in Bank of Cyprus are frozen for now

  • Level at which funds on big deposits will be taxed is still to be set

The deal came after hours of tense negotiations between Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and the "troika" of EU, European Central Bank and IMF leaders.

Under the agreement all deposits of less than 100,000 euros will be secured.

Laiki will be split into "good" and "bad" banks, with its good assets eventually merged into Bank of Cyprus.

The percentage to be levied on large deposits in the Bank of Cyprus - the island's biggest lender - will be resolved in the coming weeks, the president of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, told a press conference overnight in Brussels.

Cyprus government spokesman Christos Stylianides told state radio the level could be set at "around 30%".

Banks in Cyprus have been closed since last Monday while politicians and officials tried to work out how to raise 5.8bn euros to qualify for the bailout. Many businesses are only taking payment in
On Sunday, Bank of Cyprus further limited cash machine withdrawals to 120 euros a day.

With queues growing outside cash machines across the island, Laiki also lowered its daily limit to 100 euros, Cyprus News Agency reported. The bank's previous limit had been 260 euros per day.

The details of the reopening of Cyprus's banks are to be discussed on Monday.

German pressure

A week ago, the Cypriot parliament rejected a planned bank levy that would have taken 6.75% from small savers and 9.9% from larger investors. The proposal caused widespread anger among ordinary savers.

In response, the European Central Bank (ECB) had said it would cut off funds to Cyprus's banks by Monday unless a new deal was reached.

There is concern on the Mediterranean island that a levy on large-scale foreign investors, many of whom are Russian, will damage its financial sector.

Correspondents say Germany has pushed hard for a levy on investors who have benefited from high interest rates in recent years, rejecting a Cypriot plan to use money from pension funds.

A Cypriot attempt to secure Russian help was unsuccessful.


Κυριακή, 24 Μαρτίου 2013

Cyprus on the brink of bankruptcy?

Dramatic developments in Brussels! Tragic moments for Cyprus!

Cyprus president lands in Brussels for crisis talks

Nicos Anastasiades to meet governments and IMF for talks that could lead to Cyprus becoming first to leave single currency
Nicos Anastasiades
Nicos Anastasiades enters talks in Brussels faced with the threat that the ECB will cut off a funding lifeline if there is no rescue deal. Photograph: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

The Cypriot president is expected in a snow-bound Brussels later on Sunday for a showdown with European governments and the International Monetary Fund that is likely to determine whether the island, teetering on the brink of insolvency, becomes the first country to be kicked out of Europe's single currency.

Nicos Anastasiades is to see Christine Lagarde of the IMF and Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank, as well as the presidents of the European commission and European council, Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy, who have cancelled an EU-Japan summit to return to Brussels because of the Cyprus emergency.

Anastasiades is expected to unveil new proposals to hit wealthy Cyprus banking clients with heavy levies on their deposits in order to come up with about one-third of the €17bn bailout the country needs.

A week ago he insisted on minimising the levy to less than 10% to prevent foreign investors, mainly Russians and British, pulling their money out of Cyprus. Now he is being forced to double that levy to 20%, according to reports from Nicosia late on Saturday, while sparing all savers with less than €100,000.

With the stakes never so high for Cyprus, the European Central Bank is threatening to pull the plug on short-term funds propping up the Cypriot financial sector on Monday unless a last-minute deal is struck that satisfies the island's increasingly hawkish eurozone creditors, led by Germany.

The eurozone's biggest economy is determined that the island deflates a bloated financial sector that exceeds the size of the Cypriot economy by a factor of eight.

"It is well-known that I won't allow myself to be blackmailed, by no one or nothing," said the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. "I'm aware of my responsibility for the stability of the euro. If we take the wrong decisions, we'll be doing the euro a great misservice," he told a German Sunday newspaper.

Anastasiades's meetings in Brussels will be followed by an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers in the eurogroup on Sunday evening. It will also be attended by Lagarde, the European commissioner Olli Rehn and top officials from the European Central Bank – which will be the crucial venue for striking a deal.

In talks on Saturday in Nicosia with the "troika" of EU, ECB and IMF officials, according to Reuters, Anastasiades conceded a much bigger confiscation of wealthy depositors' cash. Anyone with more than €100,000 in Bank of Cyprus, the country's biggest bank, would lose 20%, while similar deposits in other banks would be hit by a 4% levy.

The proposed deal would still need to pass the Cypriot parliament, which last Tuesday unanimously rejected an agreement to tax savers. The parliament is expected to convene quickly if the Cypriots and the eurogroup reach agreement on Sunday evening.

"There are only hard choices left," said Rehn.

"We are undertaking great efforts. I hope we have a solution soon," Anastasiades tweeted.

Schäuble said Cyprus could not avoid very tough times. "But that is not because of European stubbornness, but because of a business model that no longer functions," he said.

The eurozone's terms for an agreement could not be changed, he added, also insisting that depositors with savings under €100,000 had to be spared.

A senior policymaker at the ECB also served Cyprus notice that it would be given little leeway in the crucial talks by predicting that the island's financial woes would not tip its eurozone peers into economic crisis.

Ewald Nowotny, the head of Austria's central bank, echoed the view of his German counterparts in an interview this weekend, warning that the Cypriot economic model – with its reliance on offshore banking and Russian money – was unsustainable.

"This system is certainly no longer able to continue," said Nowotny.

Speaking in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Österreich, Nowotny indicated that failure to agree a deal by Monday's deadline – when the ECB has threatened to cut off financial assistance to Cyprus – would not trigger a systemic crisis across the eurozone.

"We see clear signs of improvement in Spain, Portugal and Ireland. I see no massive economic problems in Italy as well, so I do not believe that it will come to contagion," he said, reiterating that Cyprus accounts for only 0.2% of eurozone GDP. Nowotny also ruled out the prospect of the Cypriot depositors' haircut being implemented on Austrian savers. "Austrian savers' money is absolutely safe," he said.

The original rescue deal for Cyprus collapsed last week when legislators rejected proposals that included a levy of 6.75% on all deposits below €100,000. Observers have warned that the haircut has damaged public trust in the euro project, because deposits under €100,000 are protected across the European Union.

Cypriot banks hold €68bn in deposits, including €38bn in accounts of more than €100,000. With so much of the Cypriot banking system predicated on deposits rather than wholesale debt funding, officials at the IMF, the ECB and the EU have told the Cypriot government that depositors must carry some of the pain of a bailout, or risk their savings being wiped out altogether.