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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Joanna Lumley's Greek Odyssey

In case you didn't see it last time round, here's episode 1 (4 episodes available, Telegraph Video)

More episodes


UK: Agricultural Policy Post-Brexit (BBC Radio 4, Farming Today); The Year Ahead

Farming Today This Week: Agricultural Policy Post-Brexit (listen, BBC iPlayer)

"Charlotte Smith hosts a panel of expert guests to discuss what a British Agricultural Policy might look like post-Brexit: They are Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee; Caroline Drummond, Chief Executive of Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF); and Guy Smith, Vice Chair of the National Farmers Union".

One of the sector's main concerns seems to be continued access to seasonal migrant labour, in order to stay competitive, and to undertake some of the jobs the British don't want to do - working in abattoirs, animal TB testing, poultry plucking and processing, fresh fruit and vegetable picking and harvesting.

If seasonal migrant labour is not available, farming may be driven abroad, one speaker warns; strawberries could be sourced from a more competitive California (with access to seasonal migrant labour) rather than from Britain.

The farming industry seems to favour a 'soft' Brexit. I'm not a farmer or food producer (I did once have a student vacation job as a strawberry picker in Somerset, but made almost no pocket-money), and seldom think about the detailed policy problems; I suppose we all want ready access to affordable food. As a casual listener to the debate, I wish the reasons for supporting a soft Brexit and discussions around EU membership and Single Market dilemmas were more edifying than access to seasonal migrant labour to staff the abattoirs.

Update 4 January 2017

Migrant farm workers may stay after Brexit but red tape goes - BBC News - The environment secretary says she is "absolutely committed" to ensuring that British farmers have access to migrant workers after Brexit.

Friday, 30 December 2016

A Greek Controversy - Οι πολίτες όμως έχουν κρίση!

I wasn't aware of this dispute until I read about in Kathimerini. Unfair, unbalanced and one-sided reporting? That seems to be the reaction within the Greek government.

FT - Greece: A question of independence (subscribe to read), 29 December, 2016- "Is Syriza cracking down on the country’s institutions or upending vested interests?"

"An authoritarian streak?...Within the country, there are fears that a culture of political interference in the public sector could be deepening, instead of improving…Now there are fears that Greece could become another front in the EU’s quest to beat back threats to core principles of good governance and respect for independent institutions".

See also this posting on The Greek Crisis blog. 

Kathimerini article

PM Tsipras replies to the FT - Απάντηση Τσίπρα στους FT: Υποκρύπτεται πολιτική σκοπιμότητα

From the Press Release from the Office of PM Tsipras: "...Είναι φανερό ότι όλα τα παραπάνω έχουν ενοχλήσει πολλούς: τραπεζικούς κύκλους, το διεφθαρμένο πολιτικό σύστημα, ολιγάρχες και μεγάλα μίντια. Αυτό όμως που προκαλεί εύλογα ερωτήματα είναι το γεγονός ότι οι συντάκτες της ηλεκτρονικής σελίδας των Financial Times δεν βρίσκουν να γράψουν ούτε μία λέξη για όλα αυτά. Η μονομέρεια, μάλιστα, των πηγών τους θα μπορούσε να οδηγήσει κάποιον κακόπιστο να κάνει λόγο ακόμα και για πολιτική σκοπιμότητα".

Tsipras walks tightrope of reform, FT

Οι πολίτες όμως έχουν κρίση!

Other views:

Grand Canyon Hike Challenge (Video)

From National Geographic

Thessaloniki Exhibition: Divided Memories and Reconciliation, Greece, 1940-1950; Διαιρεμένες Μνήμες 1940-1950: Η Ελλάδα της εποχής των πολέμων

A Goethe-Institut (Thessaloniki) exhibition which explores, through art, lived experience and history, the discordant, separate, divided memories of a critical and divisive decade, and eventual reconciliation...

Διαιρεμένες Μνήμες 1940-1950: Η Ελλάδα της εποχής των πολέμων,

"It took Thessaloniki seven decades to restore its memories, recognize its mistakes, and, above all, to apologize for a piece of its history that was silently buried under the foundations of its university. Three years ago, the city’s mayor, Yiannis Boutaris, erected a monument in a corner of the campus as a reminder that this was the spot where, for 500 years, the city’s once-large community of Sephardic Jews honored their dead. Then, the mayor spoke of the undue delay in breaking the silence and beginning to talk about the dark moments of the city’s history".


Corfu: Purim costume that belonged to Rachel-Sarah Osmo from Corfu, Greece

Kassiopi, Corfu, Privatisation of Land, Signed and Sealed; Ολοκληρώθηκε η ιδιωτικοποίηση της Κασσιόπης στην Κέρκυρα. Κέρκυρα: τέλος στο σίριαλ ιδιωτικοποίησης της Κασσιόπης

ΤΑΙΠΕΔ: «Έπεσαν» οι υπογραφές για την Κασσιόπη στην Κέρκυρα,

"Η συνολική έκταση του ακινήτου στην Κασσιόπη της Κέρκυρας ανέρχεται σε 490.000 τ.µ. και μεταβιβάζονται τα 438.228,89 τ.µ., εκ των οποίων άνω των 320.000 τ.µ. θα παραμείνουν προσβάσιμα στο ευρύ κοινό, ενώ στην υπόλοιπη έκταση ο επενδυτής θα έχει το δικαίωμα να αξιοποιήσει περίπου 35.000 τ.µ. για ήπια τουριστική ανάπτυξη".

"The total area of ​​the property in Kassiopi Corfu amounts to 490,000 square meters. and 438,228.89 sqm is being transferred, of which more than 320,000 square meters. will remain accessible to the public; regarding the rest of the land, the investor will have the right to build on about 35,000 square meters. for mild (moderate) touristic development".

Privatization of “Kassiopi” tourism project in Greece concludes after four years, Tornos News

To Vima item

Ta Nea - Κέρκυρα: τέλος στο σίριαλ ιδιωτικοποίησης της Κασσιόπης

HRADF Announces Completion of Kassiopi Privatization, Greek Reporter - "The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund on Thursday announced the conclusion of a privatization of the Kassiopi area on the island of Corfu".

Reuters: New York fund to invest 100 mln euros in Greek island resort

Mayor of Dorchester, New Year's Message; Poundbury; Queen Mother Square

 View from Dorchester - Councillor Tim Harries, Mayor of Dorchester, New Year's Message

"Regardless of your views on Poundbury - very much an integral part of  Dorchester and not a village near Dorchester as many in the media think - Queen Mother Square is an imposing addition to the development and really comes into its own when lit up after dark".

Other news, Dorset Echo : Research by Savills shows house prices are rising faster in Dorset than almost anywhere else in the country - "A report published by estate agents Savills predicts a 14 per cent house price increase in house prices in the next five years in the region".

Top ten most expensive streets, towns and areas in Dorset revealed, Dorset Echo
General trends and warnings:

London lags UK as house prices rise steadily in 2016, The Telegraph

Fears of a 'massive' global property price fall amid 'dangerous' conditions and market slow-down, The Telegraph

Birdsong Recordings: Tweets of the Day (BBC)

Better than the news bulletins:

A list of 386 birdsong Tweet of the Day episodes available, BBC Radio iPlayer

Try The Skylark

The Nightingale

The Blackbird

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Thomas More's "Utopia", 500th Anniversary of Publication

From Prospero, The Economist - "500 years on, are we living in Thomas More's Utopia?"

Terry Eagleton, The Guardian, 16 October 2015 - "Utopias, past and present: why Thomas More remains astonishingly radical"

16th century dreams: Thomas More, British Library

See also: "Realistic Utopias: The Ideal Imaginary Societies of the Renaissance, 1516-1630" by Miriam Eliav-Feldon, Oxford University Press, 1982.

Weymouth Sands, Bright and Ready to Welcome 2017


"The Sea lost nothing of the swallowing identity of its great outer mass of waters in the emphatic, individual character of each particular wave. Each wave, as it rolled in upon the high-pebbled beach, was an epitome of the whole body of the sea, and carried with it all the vast mysterious quality of the earth's ancient antagonist", John Cowper Powys.

Dorset Healthcare: £8.5million needed to fund gap

From Dorset Echo: "A DORSET health chief has admitted work needs to be done to find millions of pounds after the county lost out in a reallocation of NHS funding. The NHS Dorset CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) says it has to find an extra £8.5million next year after national changes to the pricing of the healthcare system".

Airline passenger details and hackers

From Alex Hern, The Guardian - Airline passenger details easy prey for hackers, say researchers
"Worldwide system used to coordinate travel bookings between airlines is insecure and easy to exploit, experts reveal"

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Greece: Rehiring Budget Threat, Risk of New Austerity Measures?

Parliamentary amendment paving way for rehirings , eKathimerini - "Tens of thousands of contract workers at municipalities around the country, whose jobs were hanging in the balance, could be hired on a permanent basis according to an amendment included in a zoning bill that was passed in Parliament before the Christmas recess".

Concerns Arise With Parliament’s Amendment Allowing Rehire of Municipal Contract Workers, Greek Reporter

Zen Beach with a Warm Breeze; Sunny Day with Gliding Seagulls; West Bay, Dorset

Fair gull on the tide, indeed,

of the same hue as snow or the white moon,

your beauty is without blemish,

 a piece like the sun, gauntlet of the brine.

You are light on the ocean wave,

Europe, The Year Ahead: Debating The European Model; David Rennie, NPR (US National Public Radio)

Transcript of the NPR interview with David Rennie

David Greene talks to David Rennie of The Economist magazine about the year ahead for Europe.

Extract (conclusion):

DAVID RENNIE: "What I would say to those voters is if you vote for those policies that sound like they will be kind of emotionally satisfying, that sound like they punish your enemies, you can do that. You can vote for that. That's your democratic right. But understand that that could come with costs. Understand that perhaps some of these demagogic leaders in some countries are promising you things that A, they can't deliver and B, will have costs that you don't yet understand. Because, you know, you can thump the table. You can be selfish. You can be much more aggressive. You can raise barriers, build walls, but there are costs behind those actions".

DAVID GREENE: "And what's the number one cost you would bring up if you were having a conversation with a voter like that?"

DAVID RENNIE: "Your job. If - I mean, the number one thing that all those voters bring up with all of us reporters who cover politics is good jobs and a better future for their kids. And that's exactly what I think is imperiled by this false promise of closure and closed borders and walls".


A different opinion, Ros Coward, The Guardian-  "People voted Brexit. But Cameron, Blair and other flawed leaders made it possible"

Kathimerini in Clacton-On-Sea, Brexit England

The Spectator, Bryan Appleyard, "How Brexit gave us a different class of snob - The losing half the population now regard the winning half with arrogant disdain!"

A Europe of two narratives, Euclid Tsakalotos, Open Democracy - "the rules-are-rules agenda will sooner or later lead to the break up of Europe".

Epirus: Drakolimni (Dragon Lake), Mt. Smolikas With Snow; Aghia Paraskevi; Η δρακόλιμνη σκεπασμένη με χιόνι...

From Epirus Gate - Η δρακόλιμνη σκεπασμένη με χιόνι...Dragon Lake with snow

When I last went to Dragon Lake (without snow):

Update: Snowfalls in Ioannina Prefecture

Πάγωσε το ποτάμι στους Κήπους Ζαγορίου, Ta Nea

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Ozzies on Poundbury (9news, Australia)

Poundbury - a short news video from an Australian perspective

Clare Foges on Boredom and the Populist Revolution

A good article by Clare Foges in The Times today (register to read) -
'I wonder whether what is “interesting” in our times might be driven in part by a deep desire for more interest in life. In short, by boredom...Bertrand Russell thought "at least half the sins of mankind" are caused by the fear of boredom...Our boredom thresholds have crashed...Yes, elections are meant to be about the sober business of weighing up competing arguments, but let's admit that some small part of us is exhilarated when the normal order is smashed to pieces'.

Australia, Flash Floods, Uluru

From The Independent

Record rainfall closes Australia's Uluru national park, The Telegraph

Last time I was there:

Greece: The Outlook for the Economy, 2017; Public Power Supply Outstanding Debts; DEH; Electricity Theft

From Kathimerini - Ανεξόφλητες οφειλές και άνοιγμα της αγοράς «βραχυκυκλώνουν» τη ΔΕΗ

Οι συνολικές ανεξόφλητες οφειλές από λογαριασμούς ρεύματος ξεπερνούν τα 2,5 δισ. ευρώ, ποσό που προσεγγίζει σχεδόν το 50% του τζίρου της

Μειώσεις στα τιμολόγια της ΔΕΗ από 1ης Ιανουαρίου 2017, Epirus Gate

All Eyes on the Euro Working Group Meeting, January 12, eKathimerini

Update, May 6, 2017, Greek Reporter: Greece’s National Electric Company PPC Dealing with Major Theft

"Electricity theft is costing Greece’s dominant power utility Public Power Corporation (PPC) about 170 million euros in lost income each year, the company said on Friday, citing estimates by the Greek energy regulator".

Barack Obama, Interview

"Barack Obama has said he believes he would have won a third term in office were he eligible to run in the 2016 presidential election, while also casting a skeptical eye at the UK Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership", The Guardian

Full Transcipt, CNN Politics, David Axelrod Interview

Corbyn hits back, The Guardian

Monday, 26 December 2016

Boxing Day, Portland Bill, Dorset

This year, we stayed in Dorset

From Thomas Hardy, The Souls of the Slain

The thick lids of Night closed upon me
Alone at the Bill
Of the Isle by the Race -
Many-caverned, bald, wrinkled of face -
And with darkness and silence the spirit was on me
To brood and be still.

No wind fanned the flats of the ocean,
Or promontory sides,
Or the ooze by the strand,
Or the bent-bearded slope of the land,
Whose base took its rest amid everlong motion
Of criss-crossing tides.


Sunday, 25 December 2016

Sweden: Säpo (Swedish Security Service) Warning About Foreign Arms-Spies; Focus on Sweden

A reality check for Christmas - Säpo varnar: Sverige i fokus för utländska vapenspioner, SvD

Säkerhetspolisen (Säpo)

Panos Karnezis on Artists and Writers Surprised by the Brexit Referendum Vote; Πάνος Καρνέζης

From BBC World Service, The Cultural Frontline ('The Stories of 2016 Through Art and Culture')  - Listen, BBC iPlayer, from 10.40-12,56 points

"Novelist Panos Karnezis reflects on why artists and writers were taken by surprise by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union".

The London-based Greek novelist asks himself whether 'self-important, self-referential' artists and politicians (especially those living in London) may be out of touch with the 'real world', and may need to hone their skills of observation and empathy. Their fingers weren't 'on the pulse'. A bit smug and insular, in short?

On Panos Karnezis

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas with William Barnes - "A-keepen up o’ Chris'mas".

I've just added this footnote to an email, written to my adult children in the USA and Bermuda:

"At least you're spared my traditional Christmas Eve renditions of two of William Barnes's Dorset dialect Christmas poems! Just in case you miss them, see....


More anon.

Statue of William Barnes, Dorchester (Photo JP)

Tim Laycock, playing the part of Barnes in The Year Clock

Whitcombe Church  

William Barnes took his first service here in 1847 and his last in 1885.

Berlin: Maike Schultz - Relief and Emptiness

From Svenska Dagbladet: Maike Scultz: "Lättnad och tomhet efter misstänkte terroristens död"

"När du söker svaret på dessa frågor i rollen som journalist finns det inte mycket utrymme för känslor. I nyhetsrummet ligger fokus på rapporteringen, på att vara objektiv och inte framkalla skräck. Jag var själv på julmarknaden på Breitscheidplatz när terrorattacken inträffade och sedan dess har jag varit i nyhetsrummet. Mitt fokus på jobbet har hjälpt mig att glömma scenerna i mitt huvud. Det är stor skillnad mellan att se foton på sin skärm och att befinna sig där mitt på gatan, när de tas. Jag minns kvidandet från en kvinna som fick första hjälpen alldeles intill mig. Det kunde lika gärna ha varit jag. Det kunde ha varit vem som helst av oss. Bara 50 meter och Kejsar Wilhelms minneskyrka skilde mig från att bli påkörd själv. Ett slumpmässigt beslut att dricka glögg på marknadssidan intill Kurfürstendamm och inte i en av stugorna längs Budapester Straße. Jag hade tur. Minst tolv andra, som kanske inte ville ha annat än ett glas varm glögg efter en lång dag, hade det inte".

Right-Click on text, select 'Translate to English'.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Merry Christmas ("Dig It, James, Dig It!")

A bluesy Christmas song. I still dig it! 

What does the ‘merry’ in ‘Merry Christmas’ mean? Oxford Today
Another favourite.

I once performed a version of this song at a British Embassy Christmas Party. Somewhere I have an out-take of the song which I recorded at the Sun Studio, Memphis. Listening to it again, it's no wonder that it remained "in the can". Maybe I should stick to "Blue Christmas" for a party piece. Or maybe not. Leave them to the King.

Dudley Brooks on piano! (Photo credit unknown: advice?)

High praise for guitarists James Burton and Scotty Moore on other recordings mentioned.

Key Issues for EU Citizens in Pre-Brexit Britain

From Chris Harris, Euronews

Five EU Citizens talk about life in Britain

The UK in a Changing Europe - "The authoritative source for independent research on UK-EU relations"

How many British Citizens live in other EU countries? - in 2015 1.2 million people born in the UK lived in other EU countries.

Helpful Creative Writing Blogs

From Penguin Random House Writers' Academy - "15 Top Creative Writing Blogs That Are Actually Helpful".

Northern Greece: People-Smugglers Back in Thessaloniki; Refuge Film; Refugee Crisis

From Deutsche Welle - "Brisk business for smugglers in Greece - After a period of quiet following the closure of the Balkan route, people smugglers have returned to northern Greece and profits continue to roll in. Pavlos Zafiropoulos reports from Thessaloniki".

See also: "Refugees combat cold, frustration in Greece - With the onset of winter authorities have yet to fully equip the refugee camps in northern Greece to help withstand the increasingly miserable conditions. Marianna Karakoulaki and Dimitris Tosidis report from four camps".

Inside the Forgotten Refugee Camp in Greece, Joe Banks,

Watch the Complete Film REFUGE Chronicling Human Stories Filmed On Location in Greece, Pappas Post

King Arthur's legendary Camelot castle?

King Arthur's legendary Camelot castle location 'discovered' by retired professor, The Independent

Not that my opinion matters, but I'll give the benefit of the doubt to Cadbury Castle, Somerset.

Tintagel still comes second.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall: Tales of King Arthur, National Geographic Traveller
There's no convincing evidence for the existence of King Arthur or any of the favoured sites.

I'm all in favour of "landscapes of the imagination". Keep looking! It's a good story.

"The Pound Has Only One Way to Go..."

We will see.

From Business Insider UK, Will Martin - "DEUTSCHE BANK: The pound only has one way to go — down"

And Deutsche Bank?

Stonehenge: Winter Solstice

From The Telegraph: Winter Solstice in pictures: Pagans, druids, and revellers celebrate at Stonehenge

Island Dispute, Turkey and Greece

Listen, BBC World Service iPlayer, Witness

"A Turkish cargo ship ran aground on a tiny rocky island in the Aegean Sea in December 1995. But a dispute between Turkey and Greece over who owned the island sovereignty almost brought the two nations to war. Agreement still hasn't been reached over the territory called Kardak by the Turks and Imia by the Greeks. Cagil Kasapoglu spoke to the former Turkish diplomat Onur Oymen and the former Greek foreign minister, Theodoros Pangalos, about the crisis".

Bermuda- Solving Water Scarcity

Listen to "My Perfect Country", BBC World Service

"The solution to the world’s water scarcity problem could lie in the tiny, remote island of Bermuda. The island has battled water saving problems since its colonisation as it has no natural water resources – and therefore no natural pure water. It relies on one source alone – rain water. That limited availability has created a nation of pioneering inventors who produced the Bermudian Roof. It catches every drop of rain, purifies it and stores it for daily use. As each Bermudian citizen is in charge of their own water supply – they have an ingrained sense of water conservation. Could other countries learn from their stringent attitude towards water – or could the Bermudian roof be installed across the world?"

Why houses in Bermuda have white stepped roofs, BBC News Magazine

"The Caribbean island of Bermuda has no fresh-water springs, rivers or lakes. So how did humans ever settle there? The secret is in the design of their houses, and particularly the white stepped roof which is still in use 400 years after it was first introduced"

Good article - except Bermuda is NOT a Caribbean island.

Unique solution to three problems, The Statesman  

On Life and Death, Llewelyn Powys

"Love life! Love every moment of life that you experience without pain." 

Llewelyn Powys (on his deathbed)

"No human being should ever wake without looking at the sun with grateful recognition of the liberty of another day; nor give himself to sleep without casting his mind, like a merlin, into the gulfs between the furthest stars." 

"Natural Happiness", Llewelyn Powys.

 “The unspeakable privilege of merely being above ground”.

Llewelyn Powys, “Death” in “Ebony and Ivory”. 

"Is it not absurd that we cannot be happy in our little life that is so soon over? Yet who can regulate the lone cry of the curlew or the cry of the eagle in the clouds!"

Llewelyn Powys, Letter to H. Rivers Pollock, 1930.

See also: Between Kenya and the USA, Discontented in Weymouth, Dorset

Monday, 19 December 2016

On Marrying a Foreigner...

From The Sunday Times Magazine, "How it feels to... marry a foreigner" by Christina Patterson

"Falling in love with someone from a different country, culture or religion can bring a lifetime of joyous adventure — but it is rarely plain sailing"

"I never liked the fish. I didn’t understand why we had to have pickled herrings on Christmas Eve, or why we had straw decorations on our Christmas tree instead of nice shiny baubles, and white lights instead of coloured ones. I certainly didn’t understand why, 12 days before Christmas, I had to wear a white nightie and a crown of battery-operated candles and carry a tray of ginger biscuits and sing a song. My mother just said this was what you did in Sweden and that she wanted us to know what Christmas should be like".

China: Beijing Smog Red Alert; Smoggy Days in London

From The Guardian - Beijing smog: pollution red alert declared in China capital and 21 other cities

China chokes on smog so bad that planes can't land, USA Today

Smog clouds put millions at risk in Delhi and Beijing, The Times

Smog refugees flee Chinese cities as 'airpocalypse' blights half a billion, The Guardian

Back in London:

The Washington Post - "Amid smoggy days in London, growing calls to clean up Europe’s toxic air"

"The city’s overreliance on diesel-powered vehicles has given it a dubious distinction: a global leader in nitrogen dioxide, a particularly noxious pollutant that shortens the lives of thousands of Londoners a year".

Beijing Update, 4 January 2017, Euronews - "Smog and fog alerts in Beijing are keeping people indoors and disrupting traffic".

The Economist - Why China’s air pollution is on the rise again, Jan 4th 2017 - "OVER the past month, successive waves of thick smog have blanketed northern and central China. With visibility severely reduced, authorities have cancelled flights, shut highways and imposed emergency factory closures" (subscribe or register to read).

From The Guardian - Beijing smog: pollution red alert declared in China capital and 21 other cities

China chokes on smog so bad that planes can't land, USA Today

Smog clouds put millions at risk in Delhi and Beijing, The Times

Smog refugees flee Chinese cities as 'airpocalypse' blights half a billion, The Guardian

Back in London:

The Washington Post - "Amid smoggy days in London, growing calls to clean up Europe’s toxic air"

"The city’s overreliance on diesel-powered vehicles has given it a dubious distinction: a global leader in nitrogen dioxide, a particularly noxious pollutant that shortens the lives of thousands of Londoners a year".

Beijing Update, 4 January 2017, Euronews - "Smog and fog alerts in Beijing are keeping people indoors and disrupting traffic".

The Economist - Why China’s air pollution is on the rise again, Jan 4th 2017 - "OVER the past month, successive waves of thick smog have blanketed northern and central China. With visibility severely reduced, authorities have cancelled flights, shut highways and imposed emergency factory closures" (subscribe or register to read).

More detail from The Economist:

"Over the past month, thick smog has blanketed northern and central China. In 2014 the government declared “war on pollution” and smog became a bit lighter. But a rebound in heavy industry since last spring, tracking a property-market rally, brought it back. The government is now trying to cool the property market—while hoping to avert a more serious slowdown. The war against pollution will only go so far".

Russian Ambassador to Turkey Shot in Ankara

From Hurriyet Daily News - - "Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, has been shot at an art exhibition in the Turkish capital of Ankara".

Update, BBC: Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov shot dead in Ankara

From RT - Russian ambassador to Turkey dies after gun attack in Ankara – Foreign Ministry

Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead in Ankara art gallery, The Guardian

Turkish police detain six after Russian ambassador shot dead, Reuters

Russia and Turkey, joined by Iran, announce intention to halt war in Syria, Washington Post

Greece: Ghost Companies in Bulgaria; «Φαντάσματα» 11.000 εταιρείες

From Greek Reporter

"The University of Bristol has conducted a survey which shows that a large percent of the Greek companies in Bulgaria are actually nothing more than ghost companies created to evade taxes. The survey showed that of the 14,000 Greek-owned companies in Bulgaria, only 3,000, or three out of four of them are actually active companies".

«Φαντάσματα» 11.000 εταιρείες στη Βουλγαρία, Kathimerini

Secrets of Corfu: the hidden depths (Lonely Planet); Epirus, "Secrets" of Ioannina and Zagori

Secrets of Corfu: the hidden depths of Greece’s holiday isle, Anita Isalska, Lonely Planet Writer

EU Citizens Resident in the UK; UK Citizens Resident in the EU

From The Guardian: comparative residence tables on the left of this article

"All At Sea", a clip from the opening scene of the old Alec Guiness film (1957)

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Bruce Springsteen on Desert Island Discs; PBS Newshour Interview

Happy listening! BBC Radio 4 (29 days left on BBC iPlayer)

Bruce's eight choices include "Hound Dog", "Like a Rolling Stone", "It's All Over Now", and "I Want to Hold Your Hand".

His comments - Which eight songs would Bruce Springsteen take to a desert island?

On "Hound Dog"

“When I heard it, it just shot straight through to my brain. And I realised, suddenly, that there was more to life than what I’d been living. I was then in pursuit of something and there’d been a vision laid out before me. You were dealing with the pure thrust, the pure energy of the music itself. I was so very young but it still hit me like a thunderbolt...It sounds great to this day. We still base our snare drum sound, one of the ultimate snare drum sounds, on Hound Dog.”

PBS Newshour Interview

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Jeremy Corbyn in Prague

From The New Statesman - Jason Cowley

"On a visit to Prague, Jeremy Corbyn opens up on Donald Trump, Russian war crimes, Brexit woes, anti-Semitism and the promised socialist transformation".

Prague - in the footsteps of Michael Foot?

Charles University, November 1988

Dorchester: The battle of Max Gate

From MailOnline - "The battle of Max Gate: Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes takes on Prince Charles over plan for 100-home housing estate backing onto house where Thomas Hardy wrote his greatest works".

From The Telegraph: Julian Fellowes at odds with Prince Charles over royal's plans for 100 houses next to Thomas Hardy's home

The First Car-Ferries, Corfu-Igoumenitsa

From Corfu History

Friday, 16 December 2016

UK: The South West Coast Path; The Jurassic Coast

Coastal Path, Episode 5, BBC 2, iPlayer

"Paul Rose explores the Jurassic Coast, taking a walk through some two hundred million years of the earth's history. He uncovers prehistoric treasures in Charmouth and greets hatching signets at Abbotsbury Swannery".

Dorset Apple Cake; William Barnes; Eclogue

THE GREAT DORSET APPLE CAKE BAKE OFF, Philip Strange, Marshwood Vale magazine

"What’s all the fuss about and what exactly is a Dorset Apple Cake?"

"There is also a reference to apple cake in a poem, Father Come Home (1834), by the Dorset dialect poet, William Barnes, and I suspect that apple cakes have been made in Dorset for a very long time".

"Your supper's nearly ready. I've a-got
Some teaties here a-doen in the pot;
I wish wi' all my heart I had some meat.
I got a little ceake too, here, a-beaken o'n
Upon the vier. 'Tis done by this time though
He's nice an' moist; vor when I were-a meakin o'n
I stuck some bits ov apple in the dough".

Some other Dorset apple cake recipes:

Another recipe

Full text of the Barnes poem:



O mother, mother! be the teäties done?
Here's father now a-comèn down the track.
He's got his nitch o' wood upon his back,
An' such a speäker in en! I'll be bound,
He's long enough to reach vrom ground
Up to the top ov ouer tun;
'Tis jist the very thing vor Jack an' I
To goo a-colepecksèn wi', by an' by.

The teäties must be ready pretty nigh;
Do teäke woone up upon the fork an' try.
The ceäke upon the vier, too, 's a-burnèn,
I be afeärd: do run an' zee, an' turn en.

Well, mother! here I be woonce mwore, at hwome.

Ah! I be very glad you be a-come.
You be a-tired an' cwold enough, I s'pose;
Zit down an' rest your bwones, an' warm your nose.

Why I be nippy: what is there to eat?

Your supper's nearly ready. I've a-got
Some teäties here a-doèn in the pot;
I wish wi' all my heart I had some meat.
I got a little ceäke too, here, a-beäkèn o'n
Upon the vier. 'Tis done by this time though.
He's nice an' moist; vor when I wer a-meäkèn o'n
I stuck some bits ov apple in the dough.

Well, father; what d'ye think? The pig got out
This mornèn; an' avore we zeed or heärd en,
He run about, an' got out into geärden,
An' routed up the groun' zoo wi' his snout!

Now only think o' that! You must contrive
To keep en in, or else he'll never thrive.

An' father, what d'ye think? I voun' to-day
The nest where thik wold hen ov our's do lay:
'Twer out in orcha'd hedge, an' had vive aggs.

Lo'k there: how wet you got your veet an' lags!
How did ye get in such a pickle, Jahn?

I broke my hoss, an' been a-fwo'ced to stan'
All's day in mud an' water vor to dig,
An' meäde myzelf so wetshod as a pig.

Father, teäke off your shoes, then come, and I
Will bring your wold woones vor ye, nice an' dry.

An' have ye got much hedgen mwore to do?

Enough to last vor dree weeks mwore or zoo.

An' when y'ave done the job you be about,
D'ye think you'll have another vound ye out?

O ees, there'll be some mwore: vor after that,
I got a job o' trenchèn to goo at;
An' then zome trees to shroud, an' wood to vell,—
Zoo I do hope to rub on pretty well
Till zummer time; an' then I be to cut
The wood an' do the trenchèn by the tut.

An' nex' week, father, I'm a-gwaïn to goo
A-pickèn stwones, d'ye know, vor Farmer True.

An' little Jack, you know, 's a-gwaïn to eärn
A penny too, a-keepèn birds off corn.

O brave! What wages do 'e meän to gi'e?

She dreppence vor a day, an' twopence he.

Well, Polly; thou must work a little spracker
When thou bist out, or else thou wu'ten pick
A dungpot lwoad o' stwones up very quick.

Oh! yes I shall. But Jack do want a clacker:
An' father, wull ye teäke an' cut
A stick or two to meäke his hut?

You wench! why you be always up a-baggèn.
I be too tired now to-night, I'm sure,
To zet a-doèn any mwore:
Zoo I shall goo up out o' the waÿ o' the waggon.

UK residential property in offshore structures; Inheritance tax

Spotted this link on Bermuda Legal blog:

UK residential property in offshore structures, The Wealth Lawyer UK blog

"The Government has confirmed its intention to make UK residential property held indirectly by non-doms through an offshore structure chargeable to UK Inheritance Tax (IHT). As planned, this will begin on 6 April 2017".

Lalibela. Ethiopia: Ethiopian Art & Architecture

Photos of Ethiopia on Facebook

Sample from Ethiopian Art & Architecture, a wonderful shot (name of photographer?):

Some of my own shots follow below (stills from my documentary

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Sweden - Lucia, The Bearer of Light

About the Swedish Lucia tradition

"Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia".

Last Year's Lucia (YouTube)

Even in Sweden - Hospital Emergency Departments, Waiting Times Too Long

From Svenska Dagbladet - Väntetiderna växer på Södersjukhuset: "Är extremt"

"Sällan har akutmottagningarna på Stockholmssjukhusen haft så många patienter som under hösten. Värst har läget varit på Södersjukhuset där nu hälften av patienterna tvingas vänta längre än vårdgarantins maxgräns på fyra timmar.

– Vi måste bli bättre på att hänvisa patienterna till rätt vårdnivå. Men den riktiga avlastningen kommer inte förrän våren 2018 då närakuten öppnar, säger Tomas Movin, sjukhusdirektör på Södersjukhuset".

Other news:

Swedish Six-Hour Workday Trial Runs Into Trouble: Too Expensive, Bloomberg - "Swedes looking forward to a six-hour workday just got some bad news: the costs outweigh the benefits. That’s according to the preliminary results of a two-year experiment carried out in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, the home of Volvo. To reduce the 8-hour days at the 68-nurse Svartedalen old people’s home, the city had to hire 17 extra staff at a cost of 12 million kronor ($2.2 million)".

Why Swedish workplaces aren't as equal as you think, BBC News, 21 May, 2017

Greece and the IMF: The IMF is Not Asking Greece for More Austerity; Clarification

An important clarification from the IMF:

From iMF Direct, Maurice Obstfield and Poul M. Thomsen -

"The IMF is being criticized for demanding more fiscal austerity, in particular for making this a condition for urgently needed debt relief. This is not true, and clarifications are in order".

"This does not mean that there is no further work for Greece to do on the fiscal side. Greece still needs to reform the structure of its taxes and spending—how the government raises its money and what it spends it on—because both are highly unfriendly to growth and equity. But the point of the measures we are calling for is not to generate more austerity and a higher primary surplus. To the contrary, the gains from these reforms should be used fully to increase spending or cut taxes to support growth. In our view, reforms like those we propose are indispensable: we do not believe that Greece can come close to sustaining even a modest primary surplus and realize its ambitious long-term growth target without a radical restructuring of the public sector. This should not—and cannot—happen overnight, but it is critical that a plan to create a more growth-friendly and equitable structure of the public finances over the medium term is adopted now.

Why is the currently agreed budget unfriendly to growth? While Greece has undertaken a huge fiscal adjustment, it has increasingly done so without addressing two key problems—an income tax regime that exempts more than half of households from any obligation (the average for the rest of the Euro Zone is 8 percent) and an extremely generous pension system that costs the budget nearly 11 percent of GDP annually (versus the average for the rest of the Euro Zone of 2¼ percent of GDP). Instead of tackling these difficult problems, Greece has resorted to deep cuts in investment and so-called discretionary spending. It has done so to such an extent that decaying infrastructure is hampering growth and the delivery of basic public services such as transportation and health care is being compromised".

PM Tsipras responds (Kathimerini):

Τσίπρας από Νίσυρο: «Ανόητοι τεχνοκράτες», δε θα ρωτήσουμε κανέναν για τα πλεονάσματα

Greek program is reliable, says EU spokeswoman in response to top IMF officials' statement, eKathimerini

'The IMF’s estimates were “erroneous" while the data it had provided was "false," Tzanakopoulos added.'

Η αποχώρηση του ΔΝΤ, στόχος του κ. Τσίπρα

Tsipras to propose to EU leaders that IMF be excluded or remain as technical adviser

Greece faces permanent crisis as IMF warns bail-out plan 'simply not credible', The Telegraph

Greece's row with eurozone deepens as markets remain flat ahead of US Federal Reserve meeting, The Telegraph

Euro Zone Freezes Debt Relief Measures after Tsipras’ Steps on Pensions, Island VAT, Greek Reporter

Greece’s Tsipras shifts back into anti-austerity rhetoric, The New Athenian

Greek Parliament Defies European Creditors with Parliament Vote on Christmas Payouts, Pappas Post

Greece's anti-austerity turn incurs creditors' wrath, The New Athenian

Schulz Sees ‘Reasonable Compromise’ on Greek Welfare Measures Before Next Eurogroup, Greek Reporter

Merkel to Tsipras: Only Creditors Will Decide on Greek Bailout, Greek Reporter

Greek PM tells Merkel ‘wounds of crisis’ must be healed, eKathimerini

«Παγωμένο» κλίμα στο Βερολίνο

Berlin gives Tsipras the cold shoulder

ESM Chief: Tsipras’ Announced Benefit Measures Undermine Bailout Objectives, Greek Reporter

Μάρτιο και βλέπουμε, λένε οι Βρυξέλλες, Kathimerini

No breakthrough imminent in talks between Greece, lenders. eKathimerini

German finance minister tells paper euro zone will fall apart if don't follow rules, Reuters

Μήνυμα Σόιμπλε προς Αθήνα: Αν δεν τηρούνται οι κανόνες, η Ευρωζώνη θα καταρρεύσει, Kathimerini

Schaeuble says eurozone will ‘fall apart’ if rules aren’t followed, eKathimerini

Reactions in Brussels, Kathimerini

No debt verdict at Euro Working Group. eKathimerini -

"A number or eurozone member-states raised objections on Tuesday to the coalition’s decision to award pensioners a 617-million-euro Christmas bonus and to freeze the value-added tax rise on some Aegean islands. Austria, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and Finland were among those that complained, while the German representative went as far as suggesting that the short-term debt relief measures agreed at the Eurogroup in early December should only be implemented after Greece and its lenders complete the second review".

Εντείνεται η κόντρα μεταξύ ΔΝΤ και Κομισιόν για την Ελλάδα, Kathimerini - Ομως, ακόμη πιο σημαντικά, για να λάβουν υπόψη τους οι εμπειρογνώμονες τα σχετικά εισοδήματα κατά την αξιολόγηση των συνταξιοδοτικών προγραμμάτων, πρώτα θα κοιτάξουν την αναλογία της μέσης πρώτης σύνταξης προς τον μέσο μισθό κατά τη συνταξιοδότηση (γνωστή επίσης ως “μεικτός δείκτης αντικατάστασης”). Αυτή η αναλογία είναι 81% στην Ελλάδα, σχεδόν στα διπλάσια επίπεδα απ’ ό,τι στη Γερμανία (43%), γεγονός που δείχνει ένα πολύ γενναιόδωρο συνταξιοδοτικό σύστημα. Και ενώ οι στοχευμένες κοινωνικές πληρωμές είναι όντως υψηλότερες σε πολλές άλλες ευρωπαϊκές χώρες, ένα από τα κύρια σημεία του blog μας ήταν ότι η Ελλάδα χρειάζεται απεγνωσμένα να αναδιαρθρώσει τα δημόσια οικονομικά της για να μπορέσει να ενισχύσει τις δαπάνες στις πληρωμές αυτού του είδους».

Σόιμπλε: Η Ελλάδα θα ήταν χρεοκοπημένη εδώ και καιρό χωρίς τη βοήθεια των δισεκατομμυρίων, Kathimerini

Differences Over Greece Between IMF-European Commission Intensify, Greek Reporter

Creditors Decide to Delay Greek Debt Relief Measures, Greek Reporter

Pensioners collect their controversial Christmas bonus payments from the government, Euronews.

EIB Allocates €1 Billion Credit Line to Greek Banks for SMEs and Youth Employment, Greek Reporter

"Government’s decision to counter the sacrifices of the pensioners does not violate its commitments", Greek News Agenda

‘Excessive Leniency to Greece Will Cost Europe €100 Bln’ Says German Paper, Greek Reporter

Greece's debt relief is back on after being frozen by worried creditors, The Telegraph

"President of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the country's creditors had agreed to go ahead with planned short-term debt relief measures. It came after he received a letter from the Greek finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, in which he said Greece would honour its bailout commitments".

Eurogroup's Dijsselbloem says Greek debt relief talks can resume, eKathimerini

Ντάισελμπλουμ: Ελήφθη η επιστολή Τσακαλώτου - Επαρκείς οι δεσμεύσεις της Αθήνας, Kathimerini
"So this is Christmas" - in the words of John Lennon:

"A very Merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear".

Greece Gears to Complete Bailout Program Review by January 26, Greek Reporter

Why the crisis in Greece has no end in sight - and another summer of stress is on the way, The Telegraph - 'The man once dubbed "the most hated man in Greece" is now warning that unless the country’s budget becomes more “growth-friendly”, the factors driving years of turmoil in Greece and three eurozone bail-outs will persist Poul Thomsen, head of the IMF’s European department and former Greek mission chief...;

Should the IMF get out of Greece? Bloomberg, Ashoka Mody