Παρασκευή, 9 Μαΐου 2014

European Elections and Greece: An Unpredictable Scenario


By Justine Frangouli-Argyris

In Greece, today, no one can foresee what will transpire nationally after the European elections later this month given the fact that the far-left party (Syriza) is leading in public opinion while the once dominant socialists (Elia/Pasok) are polling a paltry 7 %.

According to a recent poll conducted by Pulse for the weekly review Pontiki, the opposition Syriza holds a statistically significant lead over the governing rightist New Democracy party of 2% .

Shockingly, the fascist Golden Dawn party, on whose legality the Greek Supreme Court will shortly rule, continues to hold onto third place with the newly formed Potami, or “River,” led by popular journalist Stavros Theodorakis, placing fourth among the electorate.

Following is a detailed summary of voting intentions in Greece for the 2014 Euro-elections (as published in Pontiki):

Syriza 22,5%





 

The unpredictable outcome may threaten the stability of the current coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy and Evangelos Venizelos' Pasok, causing great concern among the Hellenes of the Diaspora as everything may eventually be at stake. For, even if Syriza does not triumph on election day, how can the government continue to cling to power with its coalition partner falling to 7% among voter preference?

According to Mr. Anthony Diamantaris, the publisher of the historical New York daily, The National Herald, “the upcoming elections will likely have historical significance since it is possible that they may determine the future of the country and, in turn, become a silent referendum on whether Greece wants to remain inside or outside the euro. The political system is exhausted. Understandably, the people seem to be looking for new, more hopeful political forces. This, however, entails the risk of the prevailing of extreme political forces--from both sides of the political spectrum—and the empowerment of individuals completely unprepared to handle current critical national issues. And, of course, should no decisive result ensue, anarchy would be the worst of all possible consequences. As for the Greek community in America, I think that we are closely watching the developments with pain, sorrow and worry and, as always, in solidarity with the sorely suffering people of Greece."

Dr. Stefanos Constantinidis, Professor of Political Science at Montreal's UQAM University, notes that "these elections will be a first taste of what will follow in national elections in Greece. They will outline eventual developments for the Greek political system and the future of Samaras’ government. We are in front of political readjustments. The outcome will be judged by whether Syriza and New Democracy can hold onto their percentages or if one of the two can come away with a decisive victory."

How this will affect the stability of the government is a matter of concern to the political analysts of Europe.   As Constantinidis states,"It will also depend on the percentages of the other parties. parties. If Elia/Pasok collapses, for example , it will create a different outlook for the current government and the political system '

The Hellenic Diaspora in North America, despite the fact that it may have limited in-depth knowledge of the upcoming electoral game and its impact on the Samaras–Venizelos government, is well aware of the following key points:

1) that Syriza, with the endless internal confusion amongst its partners, is losing ground whereas it could have developed a momentum that could overturn today’s political balance;

2) that New Democracy, with the help of its EU partners and encouraging recent macroeconomic data, may be on the verge of benefiting from a “post-austerity season,” as international markets continue to show improving stability in Greece;

3) that the fascist party, Golden Dawn, continues to be dangerously popular even though its leaders have been indicted and jailed;

4) that the infant River party was formed in order to attract disillusioned center-leftists and, in effect, in order to syphon votes from Syriza;

5) and that Evangelos Venizelos of Pasok, by remaining in a centre-right coalition government in spite of his leftist roots, has sacrificed his political future on the altar of the country's stability and paid a princely sum by seeing his base migrate to the support of others (mainly Syriza).

It turns out that May 25th, the day of European parliamentary elections in Greece, will be a day of judgment on the country's future in the European Union after all.

Σάββατο, 26 Απριλίου 2014

Meliti Kontogiorgi, a Lefkadian artist in Cohoes NY!

One of us from Lefkada, Meliti Kontogiorgi is currently presenting her work at a gallery in CohoesNY. The artist is interested in the way the narratives of mass culture and collective imaginary are shaping our identities, how relations of power and violence interfere in the process and what is our reaction when facing those challenges.


The Foundry presents: VAS: Meliti Kontogiorgi
April 26, 2014

VAS: Meliti Kontogiorgi: The Foundry for Art Culture & Design
119 Remsen Street, Cohoes

Saturday, April 26- Sunday, June 1


Viewing : Gallery Hours
Saturdays + Sundays : 1-4pm

Artist Reception : Saturday, April 26 : 6-9pm

According to French novelist Michel Houellebecq, the world is a brutal place; the artist must accept this and respond with increased brutality. Through her work Meliti Kontogiorgi deals with this brutality by directly confronting it in an attempt to cancel it out.

The main themes of her work are the construction and functioning of the mechanisms of representation. She is interested in the way the narratives of mass culture and collective imaginary are shaping our identities, how relations of power and violence interfere in the process and what is our reaction when facing those challenges.

Meliti’s methodology regarding the mechanisms of representation is to treat them with increased absurdity. She reduces them to absurd constructions, in order to contradict and cancel the status of the representation itself. After all, if we can’t accept brutality, we can react to it by acknowledging its senseless and absurd nature, using irony and the ridiculous as a defense. It is with this diverting process that she creates protective screens to confront reality, building little shelters of sensitiveness.
Viewing : Gallery Hours
Saturdays + Sundays : 1-4pm

For additional information, please call (518) 229-2173

Παρασκευή, 18 Απριλίου 2014

My Spiritual Greek Easter!



By Justine Frangouli-Argyris

The Greek Orthodox celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus as the ultimate celebration of Christianity. The Resurrection, Jesus' return to life following his crucifixion, symbolizes the purification of the soul and a spiritual uplifting, consistent with the onset of nature's spring. Throughout Holy Week, Orthodoxy is in grieving for Christ's ascent to Calvary and his crucifixion but on the day of the Resurrection there is the cleansing from sin and the restart of the human race.

But what does the Resurrection mean for the Greek Orthodox? What is the spiritual breadth of that great day for Christianity?

According to the Orthodox religion, the Resurrection of the Lord shows how Christ, the only begotten Son of God out of love and charity, came to save the sinners. It all began with the commitment of the Lord himself to rebuild mankind. It continued with his holy life. Our Lord, through words and deeds, "revealed the true virtues that restore mankind to paradise lost." And it ended in his sacrifice and his passion through which he offers people forgiveness from sins and the restoration of the original communion with God.

On the Day of Resurrection, the Orthodox celebrate the brilliant rebirth of Jesus Christ because in this day the uncreated and imperishable light of the Lord, the Creator and Redeemer of the world, shines from the grave. Christ is the true light that enlightens every man coming into the world. He is the light that shines in the darkness, a light that darkness can not conquer. It is the light that gives life, true, infinite, eternal life. Those who acquire it are rendered the ability to become children of God, to know his glory, to savour the power of his grace.

The "Great and Sacred" Easter is the feast of feasts, the predominant glorious moment of Orthodox Christianity. It is the great day that brings more joy, more exquisite brilliance and glory, because it shows the divine light that radiates through the deified human nature of the risen Christ. Thanks to the Resurrection of Christ, human nature appears dressed with the resplendent garment of divine immortality and eternity and opens the way for the Resurrection of all.
In light of the Resurrection, our fears are diminished, our doubts defeated and our faith strengthened as Paul the Apostle teaches: "We,...We believe...knowing that Christ is risen so we can rise though Christ."

In light of the Resurrection, we can clearly distinguish the most compelling evidence of the unconditional love of God, the definitive evidence of eternal life that will inspire us and encourage us to walk the path of repentance, penance and sacrifice. In light of the Resurrection, we can reinvent the way towards a more authentic existence, the way to another purer life.

Whoever is impregnated by the light of the Resurrection is not daunted by pain nor sorrow nor disease, as heavy and difficult or even fatal as it can be, because none of this can detract from the final abolition of the death and the reinvention of life.

The light of the Resurrection leaves no disappointment and no barrier to besiege us but makes us move towards building the unshakeable foundation of the Lord. Because God forgives, we find the strength to forgive. Because God loves us, we find the strength to love.

This year, however, the Resurrection is not only spiritual in nature for Greece. After a devastating economic crisis that began in 2010, the country is showing signs of growth and a primary budgetary surplus and was recently able to tap the financial markets, floating a five-year bond at 4,95% that was many times oversubscribed. This year, the Greeks will roast their lambs once more in the feast of the Resurrection of Christ but also in the Resurrection of their country's economy and their hearts.

Τετάρτη, 16 Απριλίου 2014

"Unfolding" memories by Demetrios Papakostas. A must see exhibition!

Dévoilements" / "Unfolding"  DEMETRIOS PAPAKOSTAS
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INVITATION
english to follow…..
DEMETRIOS PAPAKOSTAS
 
« Dévoilements »
23 avril à 2 mai  2014

Vernissage
le jeudi  24 avril à 17h

 
Déclaration de l’artiste

J’ai travaillé, par intermittences, depuis deux ans sur une série de tableaux appelée « Dévoilements ». Mon esprit, au départ, jonglait avec des images telles que ouverture ou révélation; ouvrir un récipient, pénétrer dans une pièce ou même simplement marcher le long d’un grand couloir. Chacune de ces actions comporte un certain mystère pour moi, et s’accompagne souvent de l’impact qui se crée au moment d’entrer dans un espace inexploré ou un état d’esprit inconnu.  

Suivant le diagnostic de démence de mon père qui m’a conduit à passer du temps avec lui à l’hôpital, je me suis souvent demandé comment ils pouvaient se sentir, lui et les autres comme lui lorsque, confus par moments, ils ne se rappellent plus de l’endroit où ils se trouvent ou comment ils ont pu échouer là; j’ai songé à quel point tout cela devait être terrifiant pour eux. Cet événement m’a amené à découvrir mes propres anxiétés et inhibitions face à mes initiatives et à la capacité d’être à l’écoute de mon instinct quant aux chemins qui s’ouvrent à moi.

Cette exploration d’avenues nouvelles s’est manifestée dans ma démarche artistique par un regard différent et des perspectives de recherche inédites. Au gré de ces inspirations, de nouvelles possibilités d’utiliser la surface, l’espace et la forme ont surgi et ont nourri les conversations sur l’expérience de la couleur et sa perception spatiale. En faisant surtout appel aux formes géométriques, ce processus s’est révélé être une voie d’accès à l’expression de la mouvance et à la découverte de l’inattendu. « Dévoilements» reflète les phases changeantes de cette exploration.
“Unfolding”
April 23rd. to May 2nd. 2014
 
Artist Statement

 Over the past two years I have been working intermittently on a series of paintings titled “Unfolding”. My initial thought had to do with the idea of opening up or revealing; a container opening, stepping through a door or even walking down a long passageway. Each of these actions carries a certain mystery for me including the impact of entering into an unknown space or state of mind.

Ever since my father was diagnosed with dementia and having to spend time in the hospital with him, I often wonder how he and many others like him feel, at times being confused, not remembering where they are, or how they got there must all feel very frightening. This event has fuelled my own anxieties and inhibitions I have about moving forward and finding insights to the roads I choose to pursue.

My artistic choices, the roads chosen and progressing forward began to show up as exploration of new ways. Leaning into the process, possibilities for using surface, space and form, initiated conversations around the color experience and perception of color-spatial. Using primarily geometric forms, this expression then becomes a gateway conveying movement and the discovery of the unexpected. “Unfolding is the ongoing expression of all of this searching.
Exposition / Exhibition
23 avril à 2 mai / April 23rd. to May 2nd. 2014

Vernissage
le jeudi  24 avril à 17h

April 24th. at 5 pm


Rencontrer l’artist / Meet the artist 
Le samedi 26 avril à 13h
Saturday, April 26th. at 1:00 pm

 
 
Galerie Espace  4844 Boul. St.Laurent Montreal,Qc
Heures: 13h – 19h tous les jours
Hours: 1:00 – 7:00 pm everyday
 

info: Tel.; 514 886 8827

 www.demetriospapakostas.com
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Παρασκευή, 4 Απριλίου 2014

How Parti Quebecois Fell Into Its Own Trap!

Quebec crucial elections

Justine Frangouli - Argyris

 
Pauline Marois, the premier of Quebec and leader of the Parti Québécois, had a carefully prepared recipe whose ingredients entailed calling early elections, handily winning the race and creating her party’s first majority government in over a decade. Buoyed by positive poll numbers showing her in a commanding position, she confidently proclaimed April 7th election day, expecting to garner full power in the National Assembly.

 

At the outset, Marois touted her highly controversial Quebec Charter of Values, which aimed to abolish the wearing of religious symbols amongst select public officials in the line of duty, that was popular among the electorate as it encouraged the French-Canadians’ historical march towards secularization.  Already distant from the Catholic Church, this new charter was to accelerate Quebec’s path toward secular status by diminishing the symbols of other religions and cultures, thereby creating the perfect scenario for a solid Parti Québécois victory.

 

However, a nonchalant Madame Marois, in an attempt to appease the radical hardcore of her party that continues to aspire for nationhood, began musing about another referendum aimed at independence for the province.  Not only did she begin openly discussing the plebiscite as if the provincial election had already been won, but her controversial stance regarding the fait accompli of a majority government led her to announce to a disbelieving electorate that an independent Quebec would retain the Canadian dollar and a seat at the Bank of Canada as a sovereign nation in a political and economic union similar to that of the European Union.

 

Pauline Marois’ election campaign was suddenly out of control. Instead of putting forth a plan for the future of the economy and a sound fiscal policy for the province, her focus resulted in a frenzy for Quebec independence. 

 

As if the swirling rumours of an upcoming post-election referendum were not enough, the premier unveiled what she believed to be her ace in the hole in the name of star candidate and Quebecor media magnate Pierre Karl Peladeau who quickly pump-fisted on air that Quebec was ready to claim its independence and that he desired that his children live in an independent Quebec.

 

Pauline Marois brought Monsieur Peladeau into the political game in a quest to inspire confidence among the business world for Quebec independence.  However, this proved a fatal mistake as the Parti Québécois is a left-leaning political entity and the entry of Pierre Peladeau into the fray alienated many supporters who evidently did not take warmly to the inclusion of a tycoon among their ranks, especially one feigning social interventionism on behalf of the weak.

 

In fact, Pierre Peladeau’s track record in his dealings with the unions at his media empire never endeared him with the voters of Quebec and the Parti Québécois’ traditional blue collar base as he presided over a bitter, two-year lockout of his employees that ended with 75% of those locked out eventually losing their jobs. The suspicion with which Peladeau was viewed peaked while at the same time exposing the premier, who refused to make the details of her personal wealth public by claiming that she had submitted copies of her tax returns to the National Assembly’s ethics commissioner, as emanating from the same elite circles of Quebec’s plutocracy.

 

Today, mere days before the election, Pauline Marois’ campaign is in freefall and badly trailing her rival, Liberal Philippe Couillard, in the polls. By choosing to openly flaunt the card of an unwanted referendum and sovereign Quebec, she is caught in her own trap.  And by inadvertently bringing to light the aspect of her privileged profile, she has fallen out among the province’s populace.

 

Regardless, whoever is elected premier on Monday has a daunting task ahead.  For, Canada’s French-speaking province is saddled with lower economic growth and higher unemployment than the rest of the country and is struggling with a huge debt load that continues to spiral out of control, swelling from 37.6 billion dollars in 1990 to 175.5 billion today and leaving no illusions about impending cutbacks to the bloated public sector and government spending.

 

 

 

 

Τρίτη, 11 Μαρτίου 2014

Violence Against Women Lurks Everywhere!

Justine Frangouli-Argyris
Huffington Post



I had known my girl friend for many years. We had formed a close bond since my arrival in Montreal, our families socialized on a regular basis and our children grew up playing together. She seemed to lead a perfectly normal life in a middle-class home complete with big car and big smiles in the annual Christmas photos.

Until, one day, she knocked on my door and I could barely recognize her. Pale and weak, she was a mere shadow of herself. Stunned, I asked what was wrong and, amidst streaming tears, she revealed that she had been subjected to a life of perpetual martyrdom during her 15 years of marriage and that her husband had raped her emotionally and physically, even to the point of threatening her life.

I was shocked. How could my friend from across the street, a successful corporate lawyer, who, along with her husband, a CEO in a big international company, formed an enviable power couple that looked to fit so well together, be hiding so much violence and so much pain? Immediately, I offered her a place to stay and, a few days later, when she had composed herself, took her to a skilled family lawyer to begin divorce proceedings.

This story awakened me from the deep slumber of my orderly life. Soon, I began to come across other similar tales of human excess and it was then that I realized that behind every locked door of every house hid a potentially unknown story.

I became aware, that, according to Statistics Canada, half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16, an alarming number for a society that claims to be progressive and vocal about the equality of the sexes and human rights.

My experience was greatly enriched by a recent visit to the "Shield of Athena," an organization created to offer support, guidance and shelter to women who suffer physical and mental violence within their family environment. Founded in 1991, "The Shield of Athena" has provided the women of the Greek and other ethnic communities of Montreal with information and assistance through a public awareness campaign in their language of origin.

Its director, Melpa Kamateros, explained that the organization was formed by a group of Greek women in order to offer services to the women and their children who are victims of domestic violence.
"At first, we began with the Greek community but now we serve women from 17 different ethnic communities as our social workers and personnel speak 17 languages.We are a non-profit organization for victims of family violence that provides emergency shelter and professional services to battered women and their offspring. Our support, intervention and prevention services are culturally and linguistically adapted to meet the needs of most of Montreal's major ethnocultural communities."
 
 Melpa Kamateros goes on: "At first, we had to confront the dilemma of Greek battered women who were reluctant to discuss the violent situations at home, partly because they did not speak the language but also because it was a social stigma to divorce their husbands. However, the extreme violence of men who are alcoholics or addicted to violence often ends up forcing these helpless ladies to seek out "The Shield of Athena." 

"Eventually, we were able to develop extended support services and counselling for the victims. We hired skilled professional social workers to listen to the women's problems and provide them with psychosocial support. Also, with our access to a team of professional lawyers and knowledgeable bureaucrats, the organization supports those who seek legal action and state resources in their quest to escape from an environment that is very violent," she concludes.

In extreme cases of violence, "The Shield of Athena" provides shelter for the battered women and their children for a limited period of time. There, they can stay during a transitional period until they recover mentally and find their way back to a normal life. The shelter can accommodate a few mothers and children at the time and it's often the police, the community or a friend who will bring the victims to us. Today, 40 percent of the women are of Greek origin while 60 percent come from other communities as the new ethnic communities are experiencing serious problems of domestic violence. "The Shield of Athena" has broken the language barrier with our social workers and liaisons able to provide guidance in 17 languages.

On the occasion of International Women's Day, which was celebrated March 8th, it is sad that violence against women and children still lurks in the developed countries. However, I would like to say that violence is not a shame for those who suffer it but that it is shameful for those who practice it.

Follow Justine Frangouli-Argyris on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Justinakion