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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Greece: Estimates of Growth Rate; Wolfgang Schäuble and the IMF; Klaus Regling (ESM) on Past Mistakes

From Kathimerini - Πυρά από τον Σόιμπλε κατά του ΔΝΤ

"Ο κ. Σόιμπλε εξέφρασε με σφοδρότητα χθες την έντονη ενόχλησή του για τη στάση του Ταμείου, αμφισβητώντας τις προβλέψεις του για τον ρυθμό ανάπτυξης της οικονομίας, αλλά και συνολικά την επιτυχία των προγραμμάτων του. Κάτι που θέτει ερωτήματα για το κατά πόσον ο κ. Σόιμπλε εξακολουθεί να θέλει το Ταμείο στο πρόγραμμα. «Στην παρούσα φάση», είπε, «μαλώνουμε με το ΔΝΤ για το ποια είναι η σωστή εκτίμηση για την ανάπτυξη στην Ελλάδα τα επόμενα 40-50 χρόνια. Το Ταμείο δεν είναι έτοιμο να δεχθεί πάνω από 1% ανάπτυξη για τα επόμενα 40 χρόνια. Να γιατί όλα τα προγράμματα ήταν μάταια». Με 1% ρυθμό ανάπτυξης, είπε, η Ελλάδα δεν θα μπορούσε ποτέ να κλείσει την ψαλίδα προς τις άλλες χώρες της Ευρωζώνης".
"At this stage," he (Wolfgang Schäuble) said, "we're arguing with the IMF about what is the correct estimate for growth in Greece over the next 40-50 years. The Fund is not ready to accept more than 1% growth for the next 40 years. That is why all the programmes have been in vain. "With 1% growth rate, he said, Greece would never close the gap with the other Eurozone countries" (rough translation).

“Clarity” on Greece’s Debt Still Not that Clear, Greek Reporter

Debt forgiveness is not the solution for Greece, by Daniel Gros, The Greek Crisis

German FinMin Schaeuble: Greek Government Insists on Burdening the Weak

From The New Athenian - Greece raises pressure on Eurogroup for deal

"German FinMin Statement Exposes Greek PM’s False Promise on Greek Debt", Greek Reporter

ESM President: Greece woud have been Out of the Crisis if the 2015 Mistakes were Avoided, Greek Reporter

SHADOW ECONOMY - Where Shadow Economies Are Well Established, from Statista

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Dorset schools pushed to 'breaking point' on funding

From Dorset Echo - Headteachers speak out as schools pushed to 'breaking point' on funding

From an email received from Cllr Andy Canning (Prospective Lib Dem M.P. for West Dorset):

"According to policies already announced by Theresa May virtually every school in West Dorset is set to lose funding by 2019 at a time when the number of children is increasing. The Thomas Hardye School alone is set to lose over £850,000. That’s the equivalent of losing 24 teachers.Go to and insert the name of any local school to see for yourself how much they will lose".

Scotland, UK: SNP manifesto calls for referendum 'at end of Brexit process'

From BBC News

From The Guardian

From The Telegraph

From The Scotsman - Sturgeon: Timescale for indyref2 could be pushed back

From The Herald - SNP election win would reinforce independence poll mandate, says Nicola Sturgeon

Bronze and Wood

Before cleaning and restoration:

European Commission: Working paper "Essential Principles on Financial Settlement", EC Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU

Essential Principles on Financial Settlement, EC Draft Position Paper (pdf)

Working paper "Essential Principles on Financial Settlement" Origin: European Commission, Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU

European Commission, Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU - Citizens' Rights

Working paper "Essential Principles on Citizens' Rights", 24 May 2017 (pdf)

The Withdrawal Agreement should protect the rights of EU27 citizens, UK nationals and their family members who, at the date of entry into force of the Withdrawal Agreement, have enjoyed rights relating to free movement under Union law, as well as rights which are in the process of being obtained and the rights the enjoyment of which will intervene at a later date [for example pension rights]. I. General principles: The following general principles should apply in accordance with Union law, as interpreted by the Court of Justice of the European Union at the date of entry into force of the Withdrawal Agreement [including also interpretations given in cases pending on the date of withdrawal for which the Court's competence is maintained pursuant to the Withdrawal Agreement]: (1) Same level of protection as set out in Union law at the date of withdrawal of EU27 citizens in the UK and of UK nationals in EU27 including the right to acquire permanent residence after a continuous period of five years of legal residence; (2) Equal treatment in the UK of EU27 citizens as compared to UK nationals, and in EU27 of UK nationals as compared to EU27 citizens, in accordance with Union law; (3) Equal treatment amongst EU27 citizens by and in the UK in all matters covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, without prejudice to Common Travel Area arrangements between the UK and Ireland; (4) EU27 citizens or UK nationals who resided legally respectively in the UK or EU27 at the date of entry into force of the Withdrawal Agreement should be considered legally resident even if they do not hold a residence document evidencing that right. Documents to be issued in relation to these rights should have a declaratory nature and be issued either free of charge or for a charge not exceeding that imposed on nationals for the issuing of similar documents; (5) All citizens' rights set out in the Withdrawal Agreement should be granted as directly enforceable vested rights in both the UK and in EU27 as specified in Section IV.

European Union demands indefinite right to remain for unborn children of EU nationals in UK, Telegraph (via MSN)

EU sets out demands on post-Brexit people's rights, EU Observer

The verdict on Corbyn and May's studio grilling, Sky News, BBC

I didn't watch (couldn't watch), so here's a report from Sky News (via MSN).

From BBC News - General election 2017: Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May face TV grilling

Theresa May vs Jeremy Corbyn: who won? Our writers give their verdict, The Telegraph

Corbyn on defensive over manifesto while May labelled 'blowhard' by Paxman, The Guardian

Theresa May v Jeremy Corbyn TV debate: Labour leader refuses to back drone strikes on terrorists plotting to bomb the UK, The Telegraph

Labour and Tory leaders interviewed by Jeremy Paxman - as it happened

It would be extremely useful if we could learn the views and positions of all the party leaders on the two draft European Commission Documents (EC Negotiation Principles) on Citizens' Rights and the Financial Settlement, posted immediately after this.

Finally: True, or fake news? Labour's secret plans for £4,000 'garden tax': Land and levy plot could treble the average council bill, MailOnline

Humanising Corbyn, BBC, The One Show (Guardian extracts) - presenting his chatty and humorous side...

Iannis Smaragdis on his Film “Kazantzakis”; Καζαντζάκης

From Greek News Agenda - The film, based on Kazantzakis autobiographical novel “Report to Greco”, deals with the fascinating personality of Kazantzakis, one of the most prolific figures in Greek literature.

Καζαντζάκης - Official Teaser Trailer, YouTube

Η τελευταία συνέντευξη του Νίκου Καζαντζάκη

"Speak, almond tree,
Speak to me of God" -
Behold, the almond tree blossomed.

Mt. Athos, Christmas Eve, 1914,
(After Kazantzakis and Sikelianos).

Another Kazantzakis movie trailer (Vimeo)

An interview with European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström of Sweden (Spiegel Online); Post-Brexit Trade Agreement; People's Rights

The Spiegel Interview

Final Q and A:

SPIEGEL: The British now want to handle all of this on their own and have decided in favor of Brexit. Will there be a free trade agreement with Britain after it leaves the EU?

Malmström: The British will, of course, remain our friends and partners. But after Britain leaves, it will become a third country -- and no longer be part of the EU. We can talk about the contours of such an agreement. But it will take a number of years to negotiate the details. I think it is unrealistic to think that we will already have a trade agreement in place by April 1, 2019.

EU sets out demands on post-Brexit people's rights, EU Observer

Objective: For discussion at the Council Working party (Art. 50) of 30 May 2017 

Remarks: The attached working paper on "Essential Principles on Citizens' Rights" contains the main principles of the EU position in this regard, to be presented to the UK in the context of negotiations under Art. 50 

UK: Roman bath house found in Carlisle; The Fate of Dorchester's Roman baths

From BBC News

MailOnline report

It would be good if similar excitement could be generated about Dorchester's Roman baths. They were first excavated in 1977 - forty years ago!

On the Wollaston House excavations, Dorchester

Roman Baths dig remembered, Dorchester Voice, March-April 2015, pages 22-23 (pdf)


Monday, 29 May 2017

A Stony Village, with flowers

A short stroll, and a yoghurt with quince preserve jam to follow, and a cup of Greek mountain tea
(herbal tea infusion of dried flowers, leaves and stems of  the Sideritis species).

Corfu: Sea Surface

Συννεφιασμένη Κέρκυρα - Cloudy Corfu

Albania opposite

US and UK no longer fully reliable partners? Chancellor Merkel on "TrumpUndBrexit"; a Historic Split?

Historic split?

From Yahoo News

EU Observer report - Merkel: Europe cannot rely on its allies anymore

"I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands, of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbours wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia...The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days."

Angela Merkel: EU cannot completely rely on US and Britain any more, The Guardian

"Speaking after bruising meetings of Nato and the G7 group of wealthy nations last week, the German chancellor suggested the postwar western alliance had been badly undermined by the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election as US president".

Amber Rudd to Angela Merkel: You can depend on the UK

"Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she said: "As we begin the negotiations about leaving the EU, we will be able to reassure Germany and other European countries that we are going to be a strong partner to them in defence and security, and, we hope, in trade...We can reassure Mrs Merkel that we want to have a deep and special partnership so that we can continue to maintain European-wide security to keep us all safe from the terrorists abroad and those that are trying to be nurtured in our country."

Svenska Dagbladet: Historisk spricka – Merkel besviken på Trump

"Tysklands förbundskansler Angela Merkel talade på söndagskvällen och pekade på kommande samarbetssvårigheter både med USA och Storbritannien.

– Tiderna när vi kunde förlita på andra fullständigt är på väg ut. Vi inom EU måste ta vårt öde i egna händer, säger hon".

"Angela Merkel talade i München på söndagskvällen, just hemkommen från G7-mötet på Sicilien. Den tyska förbundskanslern underströk att västvärldens allians som upprätthållits sedan andra världskriget har blivit underminerad av brexit och faktumet att Donald Trump valts till USA:s president".

"The German Chancellor underlined that the Western alliance that has been maintained since World War II has been undermined by Brexit and the fact that Donald Trump been elected US president".

How to understand Angela Merkel’s comments about America and Britain, The Economist

"Her final audience comprised America and Britain themselves. However unfairly, many in the German elite talk about the election of Mr Trump and the vote for Brexit as a single phenomenon (call it “Trumpandbrexit”). Berlin tends to underestimate its own strengths, but it does believe it can help shape Trumpandbrexit at the edges with a combination of stick and carrot. Mrs Merkel has some carrots: insisting that Britain should not be punished for Brexit, resisting Mr Trump’s irritable barbs in Washington and enrapturing him during that visit with hair-raising talk of the dangers of global pandemics. But she also has sticks: reminding the British that they have conclusively forfeited the privileges of EU membership and stipulating that co-operation with Mr Trump will be “on the basis of shared values”.

From Spiegel Online: A Trans-Atlantic Turning Point - What Was Merkel Thinking?

"An historical turning point or mere campaign bluster? Chancellor Angela Merkel's Sunday speech on relations with Donald Trump's America has raised eyebrows the world over. What did she mean?"

From Washington Post: Following Trump’s trip, Merkel says Europe can’t rely on ‘others.’ She means the U.S.

"It was an unusually stark declaration from the normally cautious head of Europe’s most powerful economy, and a grim take on the transatlantic ties that have underpinned Western security in the generations since World War II. Although relations between Washington and Europe have been strained at times since 1945, before Trump there has rarely been such a strong feeling from European leaders that they must turn away from Washington and prepare to face the world alone".

Even Angela Merkel’s political rivals are on her side against Trump

‘The Germans are bad, very bad’: Trump’s alleged slight generates confusion, backlash, Washington Post

Merkel: Europe can no longer rely on US and Britain, Deutsche Welle (DW)

Cannes Film Festival: Swedish film, "The Square”, wins top prize, Palme d’Or award.

From Euronews

"A satirical view of the art world, directed by Ruben Ostlund".

Video clip 1

Video clip 2

Video clip 3

March of the Spirit - ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΙΚΟ ΕΜΒΑΤΗΡΙΟ - Μίκης Θεοδωράκης

Time to listen to this powerful work once again

It still has a message and a motivational force for us today.


Μίκης Θεοδωράκης

Ποίηση Άγγελος Σικελιανός

Τραγουδούν Μαρία Φαραντούρη, Αντώνης Καλογιάννης & Γιάννης Θεοχάρης...

I was at this inspirational oratorio performance (recorded live) at the Albert Hall in London on 29 June, 1970.

The original poem by Sikelianos

Another source of the text

"... μέσα στη λάσπη και μες στο αίμα Σου να πλάσει

τη νέα καρδιά που χρειάζεται στο νιο Σου αγώνα Ελλάδα!

«Ομπρός, βοηθάτε να σηκώσουμε τον ήλιο πάνω από την Ελλάδα,

ομπρός βοηθάτε να σηκώσουμε τον ήλιο πάνω από τον κόσμο!

Tι ιδέτε, εκόλλησεν η ρόδα του βαθιά στη λάσπη,

κι ά, ιδέτε, χώθηκε τ’ αξόνι του βαθιά μες στο αίμα!

Ομπρός παιδιά, και δε βολεί μονάχος του ν’ ανέβει ο ήλιος,

σπρώχτε με γόνα και με στήθος, να τον βγάλουμε απ’ τη λάσπη,

σπρώχτε με στήθος και με γόνα, να τον βγάλουμε απ’ το γαίμα.

Δέστε, ακουμπάμε απάνω του ομοαίματοι αδερφοί του!

Ομπρός, αδέρφια, και μας έζωσε με τη φωτιά του

ομπρός, ομπρός κ’ η φλόγα του μας τύλιξε, αδερφοί μου!»

Το Πνευματικό Εμβατήριο δημοσιεύτηκε στο 3ο τεύχος του περιοδικού «Ελεύθερα Γράμματα», στις 19.5.1945

Landscape Painting in Hardy Country

A pity that I shall miss this lecture, as it's very close to my own interests and to the topic of my own talks at the Dorset County Museum (30 April, 2014) and  at the Blandford Art Society (19 November, 2015).

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Son House

Death Letter Blues

Deep Mississippi blues!

I had the great privilege to see Son House perform live in London, at the 100 Club, June 30, 1970. Never forgotten. He was born near Clarksdale around 1902.

Son House - live BBC recording 1970

Son House - Full Live Performance

Walkin' Blues

My Black Mama

My Black Mama, Part 2

Preaching the Blues

Clarksdale Moan

Clarksdale (JP)

Parchman Farm (JP)

Athens Classic Marathon (The Authentic Marathon), November 12, 2017; "Run, Pheidippides, one race more!"

My daughter has registered to take part in the Athens Authentic Marathon. Very proud.

Race like a goddess! Run like fire once more! But not like Philippides...

Like 50,000 others (?18,000) from all over the world, she will be recalling the heroic efforts of Pheidippides, the long-distance (day-long) despatch- runner, soldier-courier or messenger (hēmerodromos).

Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due!

He flung down his shield, ran like fire once more...

So, to this day, when friend meets friend, the word of salute

Is still "Rejoice!"--his word which brought rejoicing indeed.

So is Pheidippides happy forever,--the noble strong man

Who could race like a god, bear the face of a god, whom a god loved so well...

We are hoping to go to watch the marathon in November:

The mountains look on Marathon— 
And Marathon looks on the sea; 
And musing there an hour alone, 
I dream'd that Greece might still be free 

According to Byron, in a note, the plain of Marathon was offered to him for sale for about £900....

"Was the dust of Miltiades worth no more? It could scarcely have fetched less if sold by weight".


Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Economist, Special Report on Water

For want of a drink - Finite, vital, much wanted, little understood, water looks unmanageable. But it needn’t be, argues John Grimond  The Economist, May 20th

"Team Trump and the Russians", The Economist

From Lexington's blog, The Economist

The European Union in Corfu and the Ionian Islands

I was given a bag of goodies (in Greek) in Corfu Town this morning -
 a notebook, a CD, a poster, various leaflets about the EU and my rights.
A pity the EU didn't fund similar handouts of freebies and
useful  information in the streets of British towns. 
A lot of Brits had little or no idea about the projects,
national and regional,  that the EU had helped to fund in the UK,
I suspect.

I welcomed the pack of material, which I shall read (in Greek) with interest.

Perhaps the most useful item was the good-quality hardback spiral notebook ("EU In My Region" on the cover) with its blank white pages, which I plan to devote to my thoughts and observations
 about the EU, Grexit and Brexit.

I was most grateful, as I was many years ago, when we were presented with a large sack of excellent rice, courtesy of the EU. That was in Epirus. 
I gathered then that most of the villagers fed their free sacks of rice to their animals, as they didn't like the taste of that variety of rice for their own consumption.
It's an expensive business, public relations, and it doesn't always have the desired effect.

I shall study my rights as a EU citizen (CD on left), 
wondering how long the English, Welsh, Northern Irish and the Scots will be able to enjoy them.

We're still included in the literature, for now. In the EU "Passport" (immediately above, on the right),
we should be proud that our most representative cuisine and favourite dishes are described as eggs and bacon, fish and chips, shepherd's pie and bangers and mash.

The three most famous Britons are listed as David Beckham, Paul McCartney and William Shakespeare.

Greek food, for comparison, is represented by mousaka, stifadho and galaktoboureko (dessert of semolina custard in filo).

Famous Greeks: Plato, Aristotle, Onassis, Alexander the Great.

Corfu Market: Lobster or Crayfish? Αστακός/αστακοί; Astakos/Astakoi - "Ασ' το εκεί!"

Ειναι ολοι αστακοί;

A witty villager, spying an expensive lobster on a Corfu fishmonger's market stall this morning, exclaimed to his wife:

"Αστακός!"  (Astakos)  - "Ασ' το εκεί!"  ("Leave it there!")

British Airways computer systems crash across the world sparking chaos at airports; Network-wide issues; IT outage

Update: our friends have managed to leave the airport and have gone home, without their luggage.

It seems doubtful that they will be able to fly tomorrow, either. "Complete madness and chaos at Heathrow".

Just heard from friends stuck at Heathrow - MailOnline: 'It's carnage': British Airways computer systems crash across the world sparking chaos at airports with huge queues and passengers stuck on planes

I was due to meet them in Corfu at 4.50pm Greek time:

British Airways – BA 654- SCHEDULED - 11:35 AM,  4:50 PM

No news.  BA online Flight Status still indicates a slightly earlier arrival at 1641!

Updated arrival (Local time)16:41
Saturday 27 May
Is the system still down? Obviously it is, as our friends have absolutely no news at Heathrow. They don't know how many hours they will have to spend there, having already checked in.

BBC News - British Airways: Computer problems cause flight delays

British Airways‏@British_Airways  - "We apologise for the current IT systems outage. We are working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible".

"Network wide system issues - Saturday 27 May", updated 27/05/2017 11.48 AM (UK time)


"We are experiencing network wide system issues which are impacting our operation as well as our contact centres and some aspects of, including online check-in...We are sorry for the inconvenience caused. Please try again later".

Hacking or lightning? British Airways cancels flights as major IT failure causes worldwide delays, The Guardian - "All BA planes grounded before 6pm BST on Saturday"; "no evidence a cyber attack had caused the outage".

It seems more and more likely that there was a cyber attack on BA's systems. This has been denied by the airline.

Poor passengers...many people stuck for hours inside aeroplanes on the runway. Even worse than in the terribly congested airport.

From The Sun - Havoc for British holidaymakers – but airline denies cyber attack

From The Guardian - BA said there was no evidence a cyber-attack had caused the outage.
The GMB union said the airline’s decision to outsource hundreds of IT jobs to India last year was behind the problems.

From MailOnline - an update

Update, Sunday,  BBC News - BA aims to resume most UK flights after IT failure

From Welcome to

Major IT system failure, latest information at 23.30 Saturday May 27

"Following the major IT system failure experienced throughout Saturday, we are continuing to work hard to fully restore all of our global IT systems.

Flights on Saturday May 27

We are extremely sorry for the significant levels of disruption caused to customers and understand how frustrating their experiences have been.

Affected customers can claim a full refund or rebook to a future date for travel up until the end of November 2017. Customers are urged to keep any food, transport or accommodation receipts and can make a claim in due course through our Customer Relations teams. There are a significant number of bags at Heathrow which we will be reuniting with customers via couriers as soon as we can. This will be done free of charge.

Please don.t come to Heathrow to collect your delayed bags, as they are in the process of being sorted for onward distribution in secure airside locations.

Flights on Sunday May 28

Although some of the IT systems have returned, there will be some knock-on disruption to our schedules as aircraft and crews are out of position around the world.

We are repositioning some aircraft during the night to enable us to operate as much of our schedule as possible throughout Sunday.

At this stage we are aiming to operate a near normal schedule of flights from Gatwick and the majority of our Heathrow services.

Please do not come to the airports unless you have a confirmed booking for travel.

We recognise the uncertainty that some customers may be feeling and have therefore extended our flexible booking policy.

If you are due to fly to/from Heathrow or Gatwick on Sunday May 28 or Monday May 29 and no longer wish to travel, even if your flight is still operating, you can rebook to travel up to and including 10 June".

IT meltdown, MailOnline

British Airways: turmoil continues after IT failure grounds flights, The Guardian

With great difficulty, my friends have managed to rebook, but not until Wednesday. They have to leave again on Monday: only five nights in Greece instead of nine, and they will only bring hand luggage. Huge inconvenience for everyone. At least they're coming...we fervently hope...

Disruption continues, 29 May, Euronews - "BA has however taken to Twitter to say it will be running a full schedule at London Gatwick today and intends to operate a full long-haul and some short haul services from Heathrow"

Alex Cruz's updated customer message - 28th May 2017

British Airways flight chaos lessens after weekend of disruption, BBC News

BA computer crash: passengers face third day of disruption at Heathrow, The Guardian

"Cancellations on Monday morning included flights to Stockholm, Vienna and Dublin, as well as several domestic routes. Delays were typically less than half an hour".

From The Economist: A computer failure at British Airways causes chaos

"For those caught up in the turmoil, it will simply confirm how the service standards of this national airline have deteriorated. Indeed in some respects it showed a chilling disregard for customers...The whole experience was alarming. The BA staff clearly were as poorly informed as the passengers; no one in management had taken control. No one was prioritising those passengers who had waited longest. No one was checking that planes were on their way before changing flight times. BA has a dominant position, in terms of takeoff slots, at Heathrow, Europe's busiest hub. On the basis of this weekend's performance, it does not deserve it".

From The Telegraph: The demise of British Airways? From computer failures to the end of free food - how it stopped being the world's favourite airline

British Airways chaos wipes £360m off the value of owner IAG as boss says he won't resign, Telegraph Business

What went wrong at BA? BBC News

Computer says no - British Airways botches its response to its latest technical woes, The Economist

British Airways says IT chaos was caused by human error, BBC News

Does British Airways' explanation stack up? BBC News

Update- The Telegraph, 28 July 2017, British Airways probe into IT power failure nears end as owner IAG enjoys soaring profits


Pensions - a global time bomb; World Economic Forum

From The Telegraph, Szu Ping Chan - Pensions are sitting on a global time bomb, warns WEF

"The world’s biggest economies are sitting on a $70 trillion (£54 trillion) pensions time bomb that will balloon to more than $400 trillion within four decades unless policymakers take urgent action, the World Economic Forum has warned. Analysis by the WEF showed the six countries with biggest pensions – the US, UK, Japan, Netherlands, Canada and Australia – as well as China and India – the two most populous countries in the world – faced a retirement savings gap of $428 trillion in 2050, up from $67 trillion in 2015".

"The WEF believes workers need to save between 10pc and 15pc of their annual salary to support a reasonable level of income in retirement. It warned that many workers faced a shock in later life, with current savings rates “not aligned with individuals’ expectations for retirement income – putting at risk the credibility of the whole pension system".

World Economic Forum report (pdf) -

Friday, 26 May 2017

Fairest Isle, All Isles Excelling...Henry Purcell, John Dryden

Fairest Isle, all isles excelling,
Seat of pleasure and of love,
Venus here will choose her dwelling,
And forsake her Cyprian grove.
Cupid from his fav'rite nation
Care and envy will remove...

Music inspired by legends - to take our minds off the reality of General Election campaigns, the exchange rate - and this week's tragic events - if only for a few short minutes:

YouTube - From "King Arthur" (libretto by John Dryden), Gill Ross, soprano, English Baroque Soloists

Enter Venus.


Fairest isle, all isles excelling,
Seat of pleasure and of love;
Venus here will choose her dwelling,
And forsake her Cyprian grove.
Cupid from his fav'rite nation,
Care and envy will remove;
Jealousy that poisons passion,
And despair that dies for love.
Gentle murmurs, sweet complaining,
Sighs that blow the fire of love;
Soft repulses, kind disdaining,
Shall be all the pains you prove.
Ev'ry swain shall pay his duty,
Grateful ev'ry nymph shall prove;
And as these excel in beauty,
Those shall be renown'd for love.

Eurogroup Transcripts, Greek Debt Sustainability

From Greek Reporter - Eurogroup Transcripts Reveal IMF Still Not Convinced of Greek Debt Sustainability

«Μύλος» το Eurogroup για το ελληνικό χρέος  - Euro2day,gr

Zagori (Greece) - Weather Forecast

Rainstorms to continue -


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Greece :Further Slide in Property Prices (Reuters)

"Greek property prices slide again as bailout jitters weigh", Reuters

Πωλούν ακίνητα έναντι 5.000 ευρώ - Properties being sold for as little as 5000 Euros? Or black money involved? Kathimerini

Greece: The Cost of Five New Highways

From Kathimerini - Προϋπολογισμός 4,97 δισ. για πέντε αυτοκινητοδρόμους, με τελικό κόστος... 6,27 δισ.

DNA Tests and Ancestry Sites (BBC Radio 4)

Are you descended from a Viking? If so, what is your Viking /Scandinavian DNA percentage?

This BBC Radio programme (from 12.15 am, UK time, 25 May, 2017) discusses ancestry sites and DNA tests, and how robust the results might be. The larger the database, the more comparative information there is, and the more helpful the results, it seems. Apparently the results are reasonably robust in terms of identifying genetic communities if one goes back 1000 years, but less accurate if one goes back only 200 years. But maybe your DNA will match with that of an unknown second cousin, and thus help you trace descendants of shared great-grandparents.

"The popular ancestry site that claims the right to make money out of your DNA forever" - BBC programme information.

Who retains the rights to the information and your personal DNA data? Do you really want to share the results? Can you opt out or delete the data?

"Y-Chromosome" DNA testing was once described as "genetic astrology", according to a speaker on this interesting feature on the consumer affairs programme You and Yours. 

Different companies' tests may come up with different results.

Worth a listen.

Cow-Power (with Bells), Zagori, Greece

"Give us a shove!"

On the threshing-floors (ta alonia)

Virginia Woolf, On Not Knowing Greek,1925; Johanna Hanink, On Not Knowing (Modern) Greek; Για την άγνοια των αρχαίων Ελληνικών

With thanks to June Samaras, Kalamos Books and Greek News Agenda, for bringing this topic, and the invaluable links and essays, to our attention.

On Not Knowing Greek, Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader

Johanna Hanink, On Not Knowing (Modern) Greek

Greek translation,. of Johanna Hanink's article,  Konstantinos Poulis

Βιρτζίνια Γουλφ «Για την άγνοια των αρχαίων Ελληνικών»

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

"Corfu Blues", book still available from The Hellenic Centre, London

Corfu Blues - the book - poems and essays inspired by Greece and the Balkans

"A positive contribution towards an understanding of modern Greece".

Athens News

"Informed by an invigorating enthusiasm, a level of scholarship which commands respect and a degree of empathy with another culture which offers insights to us all".

New Horizons

"He has internalised vast knowledge of Greek culture and here offers a compact but varied expression of it".

Kathimerini English Edition, 22 June 2006 

From an article by the late Cypriot poet and artist Niki Marangou
(O Filelevtheros, 27 July, 2006) :


"Γνώρισα τον Τζιμ Ποττς σε ένα συνέδριο στους Δελφούς και μου έκαναν εντύπωση τα καλά ελληνικά του και η γνώσεις που είχε για την ελληνική λογοτεχνία. Μίλησε τότε για την Κύπρο του 1953-56, για τον Ντάρρελ, τον Σεφέρη, τον Κάρντιφ, για λογοτεχνία και προπαγάνδα στα δύσκολα εκείνα χρόνια του αγώνα της ΕΟΚΑ.

Αυτές τις μέρες κυκλοφόρησε ένα βιβλίο του με τίτλο CORFU BLUES, Ars Interpres Publications. Πρόκειται για μια συλλογή ποιημάτων, τραγουδιών, συνεντεύξεων, άρθρων που έχουν σχέση με την Ελλάδα, στην οποία έζησε πολλά χρόνια και στην οποία επέλεξε να κατοικήσει. Τα θέματα ποικίλουν, από τα ρεμπέτικα μέχρι τον Λόρδο Βύρωνα, από τους συνταγματάρχες μέχρι τα Ζαγόρια και την Κέρκυρα. Επιπλέον ασχολείται με τις αγγλοελληνικές σχέσεις, αμφισβητούμενες θέσεις, και ρίχνει νέο φως σε άγνωστες πτυχές της νεώτερης ιστορίας της Ελλάδας. Μου έκαναν εντύπωση τα ποιήματα του. Εχουν μια απλότητα και μια αμεσότητα που σπάνια συναντά πια κανείς στις μέρες μας, όπου συχνά βουλιάζει το νόημα του ποιήματος σε μια ακατάσχετη λογιοσύνη".

OTHER BOOKS  FOR SALE - Cultural books available from the Hellenic Centre

Corfu Blues is also available direct from the publisher in Stockholm, Sweden - list of publications

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Zakynthos, Greece; Morbidity and Outcomes of Foreign Travellers in Zakynthos Island, Greece: A Retrospective Study

From journal, April 11, 2014

Authors: Eleni Plessa, Giannoula S. Tansarli, Dimitrios Xanthopoulos, Matthew E. Falagas

(Data from foreign travellers visiting Zakynthos, in the period May 1 to October 30, 2012).


"Two thousand six hundred and eighty-eight patients were included in the study. The mean age (±SD) of the patients whom the age was recorded was 29.6 (±18.3) and 51.5% of them were from 18 to 40 years old. Disorders of the respiratory tract (32.7%), dermatologic conditions (21.1%), musculoskeletal injuries (16.4%), and gastrointestinal disorders (16.3%) were the four most prevalent clinical categories among patients. Ear disorder was the most common syndromic description (14.5%) among which 81.2% were ear infections; otitis externa and otitis media were diagnosed in 8.5% and 3.3% patients in total. The most common specific diagnosis was gastroenteritis (14.3%). Insect bite and sunburn were the most common diagnosis (6.5% and 3.8%, respectively) among patients with a dermatologic condition. Ear infection was the most common diagnosis in pediatric patients".

Vitsa Steps, 150th Anniversary, 1868 -2018; Zagori, Epirus; Vikos Gorge; Πέτρινη Σκάλα Βίτσας - 150η επέτειος

See note 3, above, from Ioannis Nikolaidis' Monograph on Vitsa (1939; page 103), referring to the inscription on a plaque, stating that the construction of the steps (skala) in 1868 cost 4,500 grosia (Ottoman currency).

With thanks to the great Vitsa benefactors,  Alexios and Angeliki Papazoglou.
I have read, in To Zagori Mas, issue 459 (September 2016, page 9), that Angeliki made more than 25,000 grosia available for the construction of the stone steps along the route of the original path - but the author appears to suggest that this donation was made in 1872.

In his monograph on Vitsa (1939), Ioannis Nikolaidis also records the following information (page 156) and gives a date of 9 June 1861 concerning a different skala, of 'Kyralexina', from Aghios Nikolaos church down to the Voidomatis River:

There was  almost certainly a path joining the villages of Dilofo and Vitsa,
which led across the riverbed (when dry) and the bridge of Misios (constructed 1748)
 long before the elaborate and beautiful stone skala or mule-track and pedestrian steps were constructed.

See Ioannis Lambridis, Zagoriaka, Part 1, Athens, 1889 (written 1886), page 15, on the path through the gorge, by way of the Misios Bridge, between Kato Vitsa and Koukouli:

"Η Σκάλα κατασκευάστηκε το 1868"

Πέτρινη Σκάλα Βίτσας

School of Weaving in Ioannina: