Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stop Turkish PR from Rewriting History of Armenian Genocide!

MSNBC is conducting a survey about whether the Armenian Genocide should be recognized.

As of a few minutes ago the numbers showed Yes 20%, No 80% thanks to a Turkish public relations campaign. The Armenian Genocide is a historical fact, and it should be recognized.

The most disgusting afront to humanity is the denial of tragedies - would it be acceptable for Germany to deny the Holocaust?

Let's make sure this poll reflects true public opinion and truth.

Vote now!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Obama/Biden Message to Greek-Americans

The following message to Greek-Americans was issued by the Obama/Biden campaign today; unfortunately, no parallel exists from the McCain/Palin ticket.

While it is best interpreted after reading it in its entirety, the following is particularly striking:
- Definite language about Turkish occupation in Cyprus
- Support of UN resolution about FYROM, which as of late supports Greek point of view, but could change
- Defense of Patriarchate not seen from McCain in past efforts
- Recognition that economics are Greek-American topics too


Barack Obama and Joe Biden have been true friends of the Greek American community throughout their careers in public service. Obama has worked closely with this community, especially the large constituency in Chicago, Illinois, and always supported the Greek community’s participation in the American political process. Obama and Biden greatly respect the major contributions Greek Americans have made to so many aspects of the American experience. They will continue to work closely with Greek Americans at home and reestablish America’s strong partnership with Greece and our other European allies abroad.

A Just and Lasting Political Settlement on Cyprus:

As president, Barack Obama will show U.S. leadership in seeking to negotiate a political settlement on Cyprus. He believes strongly that Cyprus should remain a single, sovereign country in which each of the two communities on the island is able to exercise substantial political authority within a bi-zonal, bicommunal federation. There must be a just and mutually agreed settlement of difficult issues like property, refugees, land, and security. A negotiated political settlement on Cyprus would end the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus and repair the island’s tragic division while paving the way to prosperity and peace throughout the entire region. It would also give Cypriots a firm foundation on which to build their future after many years of division and uncertainty. It would help foster better Greek-Turkish relations, strengthen Turkish democracy, reduce the risk of military conflict, and remove a major obstacle to Turkish membership in the EU.

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:

Barack Obama was one of three original lead co-sponsors of Senate Resolution 300, which urged that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia work with Greece within the framework of the United Nations process to reach a mutually-acceptable official name for that country and achieve longstanding United States and United Nations policy goals. Obama supports the UN-led negotiations and believes that there can and should be an agreement between Skopje and Athens on a mutually-acceptable name that leads to greater stability in the Balkans.

Ecumenical Patriarchate:

Barack Obama was one of 73 Senators who signed a letter to President Bush in 2006 urging him to press Turkey to restore the full rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Christian Church in Istanbul. He has sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a personal letter on the same matter. Senator Obama calls on Turkey to respect the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s rights and freedoms, including its property rights. Turkey should allow the reopening of the Patriarchate’s school of theology on Halki Island and guarantee the right to train clergy of all nationalities, not just Turkish nationals.

The U.S. Economy:

Despite their hard work, American families are finding it harder and harder each day to make ends meet. Barack Obama supports an immediate $50 billion emergency stimulus plan that would provide immediate assistance to help struggling local governments, continue needed infrastructure projects and protect jobs. Barack Obama will restore fairness to the tax code and provide 95 percent of American workers with a tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. Obama will fight for trade agreements that support American jobs and enforce good labor and environmental standards.

Affordable, Accessible Health Care to All:

There are 45.5 million uninsured Americans today. Obama will sign legislation by the end of his first term in office that will provide affordable, accessible health coverage to all Americans. His plan will save a typical family up to $2,500 every year on medical costs by modernizing our health care system.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hummus is to Lebanon as Feta is to Greece

Nearly three years ago the EU declared that Feta is Greek, no questions asked. Well, now it is hummus's turn! It turns out that Lebanon is tired of it's tasty spread being claimed by Mediterranean neighbors as their own.

While an argument can be made that all of us in the general vicinity have been building off of each other's culinary traditions over the last 2,000 years, I stand by the Lebanese on this one. Of course, I'd ask the same favor in return for tzatziki and taramosalata, okay?!

I'm particularly irritated at how SABRA, one particularly popular brand of hummus in the States, uses Greek accents to market the product with little actual connection. In fact, the name of the product itself, Sabra, is term used to describe a native-born Israeli Jew.

- Music on the website ... very Greek-sounding
- Images on website ... very Greek-inspired (Mykonos to be specific - thank you windmills!)
- Winning user-generated video ... very Greek-attired Evzone imitator

Frankly, it seems to me like a way to make the product more acceptable. Following the popularity of the Mediterranean diet and Greek yogurt, this is now a way to make the healthy, exotic connection. In my humble opinion, it is also a way to distance the product from the meaning of its name for fear that it might alienate some consumers.

In any case, I don't like it. I agree with Lebanon - hummus is Lebanese.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Mac's Foreign Policy Man on FYRO-Macedonia

As part of my promise to continue to search for the candidates position on what most deem Greek-related matters, I stumbled upon this piece originally posted on Hellenic News of America. If it is true, it not only brings McCain's foreign policy stance in to question, but also the notion that he is somehow a maverick candidate who despises DC's corrupt systems. I say this because Scheunemann's antics are a bit reminiscent of Tom Delay's inner circle around the time of the 2000 election.

Obviously this type of information is important to those that think it is important to know where America's next President stands on issues related to Greece, in addition to their stance on vital domestic issues.

I'd especially like to highlight that up until recently, I thought that the debate over the naming of FYROM was irrelevant; this changed when I saw propaganda masquerading as school textbooks that show FYROM's borders extending to the Aegean, including Thessaloniki. Under this olive tree, call yourself what you want, but don't go using that name to redraw maps or incite people to defend the concept that map defines.

We are all aware of the letters sent by FYROM Prime Minister Gruevski to Greek PM Karamanlis, to the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso,to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and many other world leaders regarding an artificial "Macedonian" ethnic minority in Greece. Following the veto to it's anticipated membership at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, FYROM's political leadership is in the process of transferring its dispute with Athens to the USA, with the objective of changing the breadth and the depth of the negotiations, which are currently being held under the auspices of the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations Matthew Nimetz, and of 'isolating' Greece as a country which severely violates human rights.The coordination of these activities, as well as the confrontation of the 'Greek Lobby' has been assigned to ORION Strategies, a company founded by Randy Scheunemann.Randy Scheunemann is the Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to John McCain and coordinator of the opposition to the 'Greek Lobby' and of the promotion of FYROM's propaganda, through ORION Strategies.

His relationship with the Republican Party's presidential candidate is an especially close one and they frequently travel together.

As a down payment, his company received US $300,000 from the organization United Macedonian Diaspora.

The aim of ORION Strategies is to establish a propaganda machine incorporating US government officials, operatives, diplomats and analysts.Randy Scheunemann was also instrumental in convincing President Bush to attack Iraq. And he almost succeeded in getting American troops involved in the Russia-Georgia conflict.

John McCain's current Senior Foreign Policy Advisor, Randy Scheunemann, is being paid by FYROM to lobby against Greece. He is coordinating Gruevski's letter writing campaign raising issues of an artificial "Macedonian" ethnic minority in Greece. Imagine what would happen if McCain becomes president.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Celebrating Greek Fashion Sense!

On a lighter note, xronia polla to Ms. Xanthipi Joannides, fashion director at GLAMOUR magazine.

While it is easy to remember when to celebrate the "name" days of Maria, Eleni, Kosta and Niko, there's also a wealth of beautiful names that fall under the radar but deserved to be cheered. Even more cheer-worthy? Her effortless style and chic without trying too hard!

Na sas xairomaste Kiria Joannidi!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Greek Texting Campaign Against Hunger

Stop by any Greek cafe, in Greece or abroad, and you're sure to see a collection of cell phones, keys and unfortunate habits (cigarettes) alongside a freddo or frappe. This week, Greeks have the chance to put those cell phones to good use.

ActionAid today launched a campaign in Greece to raise money to fight hunger, which affects children across the globe more frequently than we can imagine. You can help raise money for this worthwhile cause by texting AA (for ActionAid) to 19454. The campaign is supported by Cosmote, Wind and Vodafone.

Spread the word!

Facebook group already includes more than 1,000 members.

Thanks to Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis for alerting us to this effort.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Greeks for McCain? Like Iraqis for Bush

Last Saturday, I listened as esteemed Greek-American Charles Kapetanakis dialed into Aktina-FM to rally support for one of the organizations he chairs - Greeks for McCain. During the hour-long conversation, it became painfully clear that although Mr. Kapetanakis approached the broadcast with good intentions, he failed to bring with him little more than a few key messages available on the Arizona senator's website.

When it comes to an organization entitled "Greek for McCain," one would think that the chairperson would know or at least be able to refer to the candidates position on matters of importance to the Greek community. Would a group of Jewish faithful lobbying for a candidate not know his/her position on Israel? No, that would be considered an insult to collective intelligence.

Although given multiple opportunities, including a direct question from me, the chairman could not indicate the candidate's position on:

- Cyprus
- Turkey's treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarch
- Turkey's claim on oil in the Aegean

The only "key message" he repeated was that McCain stood for a strong war on terror (and that he was appreciate of the use of bases in Crete to fight that war) and for a strong NATO. And this is what is supposed to sway my Greek-American vote? Gimme a break!

As it turns out the show's host could shed a little light, which did not reflect well on the "heroic" candidate. It turns out that Senator McCain has not actively supported a single resolution proposed in Congress on behalf of issues important to many Greek-Americans. His only action on was to sign a single letter delivered to the President's cabinet. He's been in Congress since 1982! And before you point to a recent meeting the candidate had with leaders of the Orthodox church, know that days following this meeting McCain failed to lend his support to the same issues that had been discussed.

For any and every time, we've heard or uttered admiration for the Jews for sticking up for issues important to Israel, NOW is the time to show our strength for Greece.

Knowing that U.S. presidential elections can easily be decided by a few hundred votes in a few key states, now is the time to rally and to finally walk the walk we've been talking about for so long.

There are
3 million of us across the States who are able to impact this election in a way that is meaningful for the topics we hold dear.

Fellow Greeks in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Colorado and Connecticut.. are you listening?

Let's get out there and make some noise!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Brits Behaving Badly? or Just Pound Foolish?

While August, the month of European summer holidays, is coming to a close, the topic of British tourists behaving badly in the Mediterranean is openly on the table – and amid the pages of the New York Times and the Sun. Now, after a rash of headline-making incidents, local British consular authorities have launched campaigns to curb this “hedonistic hooliganism,” likely because those very consular authorities are taking on the financial burden for British citizens that have to be tended to after getting themselves in hot water.

But has the Mediterranean not always been a sunny getaway? Why now?

Beyond alcohol, economics and social behaviors are also be fueling this binge.

Economically the Brits have the strongest currency to spend. Combine a strong British Pound with a cheap air travel to sunny climates, and you have a volatile combination of young people in a place with significantly less restrictions than they’re used to and only a week or so to enjoy it. Well, the psychology is simple really. The same gluttony that fuels one to gorge at a buffet applies here.

Ultimately, regardless of how pale your skin might be, we all live in a world of entitlement where we’ve come to assume that money, above all else, talks louder. In this world, if I walk in the door with money in my pockets and you as a country or shop have invited me in, then I suddenly become the boss. It no longer matters if I embarrass myself or my friends, that I endanger lives, that I show little to no respect… because I should be regarded as important – I’m the customer. You need my money; you have to take the good with the bad.

Perhaps up to a point – but all good things in moderation as the Greek would say.

Alongside the British consular campaign to curb drinking, British and Greek governments should continue to crack down on tour organizers and establishments where this type of mayhem occurs frequently.

Bars and clubs can be held financially and even criminally responsible if a guest is over served and causes harm to self, others or property.

Consular authorities should not come to the immediate aid of patrons who find themselves arrested due to bar fights or accidents. Nothing like a hangover in prison to sober you up!

Local communities can consider fines for public intoxication or excessive noise. Proceeds should go to subsidize security personnel or special ‘street teams’ for commercial areas to ensure that rules are enforced.

Before you argue that an island getaway should not be a police state, I agree. But it should also not look or smell like the remnants of college frat party.

If that’s the kind of Greek you want, you should go to the other side of the pond.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What an Obama/Biden Ticket Might Mean for Greece and Greek-Americans

At 3 a.m. this morning I received a text message from Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama announcing that he'd chosen Delaware Congressman Joe Biden as his running mate. While all were sleeping under the olive tree when the news hit, I've spent the last few hours mulling it over to fully form an opinion on how this choice may affect a Greek vote for Obama.

So with some research under my belt and understanding of a few of the players' stance on matters up until now, I am actually supportive of the selection, which was not my first reaction rest assured.

While a pessimist might say that politicians should not be trusted for their words (and I would probably agree), I think that actions are a more appropriate litmus to show where preferences and inclinations exist. That's why, while initially agreeable, I am not casting a vote right now, since I'd prefer to really dig deep and understand how all electable parties have voted during the course of their political careers on matters important to me under this Greek olive tree, including FYROM, Cyprus, Aegean drilling rights and the treatment of the Patriarch in Constantinople.

I hope that as Greek-Americans we've learned not to be brand loyal to any party without a more important understanding of how each candidate and party have historically stood by us or preferred to stand for more mainstream ideals.

This video shows an interestingly range of passion and vocabulary used to sway the "Greek vote" earlier in the process, when Biden and Clinton were still in contention for the presidential nod. Interestingly enough, Biden speaks most passionately and least diplomatically for Greek causes, as does Obama, while Clinton seems to straddle the line of political correctness.

For a dash of entertainment, I also found the following "Macedonian" (please note I use quotes mockingly) reaction to the Biden VP news amusing. Perhaps if "Macedonians" see him as a Greek ally, we are on the right track. More so, something to research about McCain's staff!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Greek Children's Fund Sport Auction at Central on Friday, May 9th!

Hope you can make it out to this great sports event!

Even better than the memorabilia? The great cause the proceeds support!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Greek Man Key Whistleblower to Keep Skies Safe

While none of us appreciate the delays or hassle that comes with air travel recently, I am pretty sure we all appreciate efforts put in place to keep us safe.

Now it appears that the regulatory bodies in charge of ensuring air travel safety (FAA) in the United States have been turning a blind eye to airline problems that can put passengers at risk.

Thanks to a group of brave whistle blowers this story is now being addressed in media and in front of Congress. Special efxaristo to Charalmbos "Bobby" Boutris, one of the key voices that brought this topic to the forefront with Southwest's infractions earlier this year.

Although this job and his life are probably far from pleasant right now, Boutris stance against big industry on behalf of the flying public are something we should all be proud of. Bravo Bobby!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Istanbul? Constantinople?

For most people outside the eastern Mediterranean region, referring to Istanbul or Constantinople, conjures foot tapping to the famous "They Might Be Giants" song. Others of us take offense to the lyrics that say only Turks should care what the city is called. Particularly those whose families once lived and thrived in the city only to be forced out in the 1950s and 60s.

Today, March 28th, marks 78 years since the city formerly known as Constantinople to most, officially changed its name to Istanbul. This action was prompted by the newly-established Turkish republic to establish the city as its own entity, effectively aiming to limit connections to the city's historically Greek/Byzantine role.

The irony of it all?

The name Istanbul derives from the Greek "eis tin Poli" or "to the City". Similar to how many Americans refer to New York City as "the City", the same applies to Greeks past and present.

Just like the Pantokratora of the Agia Sophia, the lesson here is you can try to cover up history, but it cannot be erased.

Happy Birthday Istanbul... may we all get to go "eis tin Poli"!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

U.S. Democrats Living in Greece Urged to Vote

Americans living abroad now have a way to help decide the 2008 US Presidential Democratic nominee thanks to the first-ever Global Presidential Primary. An open letter addressed to US citizens living in Greece appeared in today's Kathimerini with information about the voting process.

Voting can take place in person, by mail, fax or online.

In person at the Hotel Grande Bretagne - EASIEST!
Friday, February 8th (3-8 p.m.)
Saturday, February 9th (11 a.m. - 7 p.m.)
Bring your current or most recent US passport

By Mail, Fax or Internet
Register TODAY (January 31st) at
Voting address is the last address for you (or your parents) in the States.
You will receive a voting ballot in the mail

For instructions in Greek, contact John Lewis at 6946.121.241.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Science Behind Athenian Siren

We all know that Greeks age well, but one undying symbol of Hellenic pride has not only managed to grow old gracefully, but also continues to prompt jealous rages between her admirers. Many Greek beauties may come to mind, but I speak of the lady of Athens, the Parthenon.

With her controversial Elgin marbles and new museum, she is a beautiful Greek siren that is enticing from both a cultural and scientific point of view. Today's
NY Times featured a PBS documentary that unveiled the level of detail and intricacy involved in erecting the marvel.

For instance, much like other beautiful Greek ladies, the Parthenon...

... is curvy! Despite the famous vertical columns, there’s virtually no straight line to be found.

... is tough to piece together and every part of her is unique! The blocks of marble are not interchangable. Since the lines are not technically straight, every piece is a unique part of jigsaw puzzle.

... is irresistable! And definately a wonder in our books.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

NY's Cosmos-FM to Host Kotsiras-Tsaligopoulou Concert in May

2008 is quickly becoming the year of amazing Greek concerts - at least for those near and around the New York metropolitan area.

In addition to the all-star Remos-Rouva tour in March, Cosmos-FM just announced a May concert with Greek vocal powerhouses Yannis Kotsiras and Eleni Tsaligopoulou.

Details are still trickling in, but so far we know:

When: Late May (likely the last week)
Where: Hunter College in NYC

Tickets will be sold in coming months at yet-to-be-determined locations, but you can reserve tickets and get more information now by calling Cosmos-FM at 718/204-8900 (and please tell them you heard it here first!)

Below two of my faves from these stellar artists...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

YouTube Solution to Fakelaki Problem

Kathimerini reported today that kickbacks, or the famous "fakelaki", cost Greeks 613 million euros in 2007 . On average, bribes to grease the ridiculous public sector amounted to just over 1,300 euros, while the private sector, such as lawyers and doctors (who should be stripped of their right to practice considering the insult to the "oath") received over 1,500 euros.

While the politicians point fingers for whose at fault (while scurrying to the bank to deposit some money themselves), the reality is that the only way out of this madness is broad scale sting operations to publicly humiliate, fine and even jail offenders. After all, wouldn't it be better to invest over 600 million euros in other ways.... reforestation, public works or employment programs?

Now, since it is likely that many in government (ha! if not all) benefit from this practice, I see the You Tube generation needing to take this into its own hands.
  • 1st stop - ALL major TV networks and other media for immediate and frequent airings
  • 2nd stop - Greece's treasury dept. to collect fines for the offense (fine should be a multiplier of fakelaki collected to account for amounts received in past 5 years plus taxes that should have been paid on this income).
  • 3rd stop - Percentage of fee returned to the sting operative as reward for helping remedy one of the country's most serious ills.
After all, if the hand is at risk of being punished, perhaps they'd think twice about putting it in the cookie jar.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Help Save a Little Girl's Life!

Four year old Michaella Tzakas, from Franklin Square, NY, was diagnosed with MDS leukemia 2 months ago. This brave little girl URGENTLY needs a bone marrow transplant.

Since her immediate family is not a match, the family is asking the community to help find a match to save their little girl. Just a quick swab of your mouth and you may be the perfect match!

Two N.Y. area churches are hosting bone marrow testing events to aid the family:

Saturday, January 19th, 2008 - 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Paul (Hellenic Room)
110 Cathedral Avenue in Hempstead, NY

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 - 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM
St. Catherine’s Greek Orthodox Church ( School auditorium)
22-30 33rd Street in Astoria, NY
718 728-1718

For more information, please contact the Greek Children's Fund at 718/777-5GCF.


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