Τετάρτη, 11 Ιουλίου 2012

marilena: The Search for an Antidote One Greek's Idea for Sa...

marilena: The Search for an Antidote One Greek's Idea for Sa...: The economy is in abysmal shape and state finances are disastrous. But former advertising executive Peter Economides has a plan to save ...

The Search for an Antidote One Greek's Idea for Saving His Country By Julia Amalia Heyer

Greece's economy is in appalling shape and no improvement is in sight. But...

The economy is in abysmal shape and state finances are disastrous. But former advertising executive Peter Economides has a plan to save Greece. He wants to transform the old Athens airport into a space where young Greeks can realize their business ideas. And give them an incentive to stay home.



It ought to be easy, says Peter Economides, as he sets his iPhone to silent mode and waves his hand in the direction of a row of windows. Behind the glass, his balcony juts out toward the water; pine trees frame the view of a thin strip of beach and the sea beyond.
Greece, Economides says with a sigh.
He knows that it isn't easy, despite the sand and the sea. Economides, 59, is wearing jeans, a T-shirt and Crocs, and he is sitting at a table made from the wing of an airplane. "If you can't convince yourself, you won't be able to convince others. Then you don't get the girls," he says. "And then you're the loser."
In this case, the loser, the one who feels bad and doesn't inspire the confidence of others, is called Greece. And Economides, whose name sounds straight out of a B-movie about the crisis, wants to change that. He is an advertising man by profession, and a very successful one at that. His ideas have won prizes in Cannes.
He sold Nescafé to the Chinese when everyone was betting that they would stick to tea. He convinced women to use Gillette razors and he was partly responsible for Apple's "Think different" campaign. He turned the slogan that initiated Apple's transition from a near-bankrupt insider company to a global technology icon into a formula for success -- worldwide. That was in 1997.
And now Greece.
At the moment, the country is in worse shape than Apple was in 1997. The sun shines almost every day in Greece, a country blessed with plenty of islands with white sandy beaches, and with places like Delphi, Olympia and the Acropolis, and yet its image couldn't be worse. Even though it's no more than a three-hour flight from the rest of Europe, tourists are avoiding the country. In May, bookings were 50 percent lower than at the same time last year.
The Desolate State of Greeks
But it isn't just foreigners who feel uneasy about the country. Greeks feel the same way. Some 87 percent of those polled are unhappy and worried about the future. A majority of 20 to 40-year-olds are thinking about leaving the country, and many have already left.
"It's devastating," says Economides, pointing that Greece has become little more than a horrifying headline, even in the minds of Greeks. He is worried about the desolate state of his countrymen. "We can't just continue to sulk and point our fingers at everyone else."
And while this is exactly what Greek politicians are doing, as they perform one tortuous maneuver after the next, people like Economides are trying to save what is worth saving. For Economides, those things are Greece's potential and ideas for a better future. By the time the institutions realize how bad things stand for the country and for Greeks, it'll be too late, says Economides.
His initiative is called "Ginetai," or "It can be done." More than just a mantra against the depression, it's also a plea for action. It is an important message in a country where people tend talk a lot, and loudly, but where little is actually accomplished. Economides wants to create a reserve, a protected space, where ideas can grow and be protected against adverse conditions -- against the crisis and against politics.
He envisions all of this unfolding in a giant building, an "open space" containing offices, studios and a cafeteria, a little like Google's headquarters in Switzerland or the Frank Gehry-designed former headquarters of the TBWA advertising agency in Venice, California, where Economides once worked. Those interested would apply by submitting a business plan and a written proposal. If accepted, they would receive a grant and -- an important perk given Greece's bureaucratic jungle -- receive legal counsel.

For the moment, the situation looks grim in the country.  More than half of 20th ..

'Soft Power'

Not a bad plan, one might think, for a country that, despite being part of the euro zone, is ranked a distant 100th on the World Bank's Doing Business Index. "The country is going to the dogs; we have to start somewhere," says Economides. He is familiar with creating incentives, the kind that encourage people to stay, especially young people. "We need the crazy ones, the ones who take their thinking to the next level," he says.
Greece is not an industrialized nation, and it will probably never export power drills or smartphones. And probably not even solar power because it lacks the necessary infrastructure. "The only thing we have," says Economides, "is our soft power." He is referring to creative people who haven't been ruined by nepotism and corruption yet. He raves about a Greek designer in London and a Greek researcher in Boston.
There are many other examples. But they are all abroad.
Stefanos Sitaras, a 22-year-old movie director, now lives in Los Angeles. When Sitaras was 16, German director Wim Wenders predicted that he would attain "immortality as a filmmaker." "To be successful, you have to leave Greece," says Sitaras. Sometimes the distance improves one's perspective on things. His native Greece is stuck in its fossilized structures and many Greeks don't even want to change, because that would mean fighting their weaker selves, "and that would be pretty painful," says Sitaras.
He is currently shooting a promotional clip for Athens with a few friends -- "My Athens," a filmed eulogy to his hometown. "It will probably be more successful through Facebook and YouTube than all the ads that the Tourism Ministry is running," he says.
Economides envisions creating space in his think tank for people like Sitaras, so that they won't have to leave their country to be successful anymore.
Even worse for the country, tourism is down, with some bookings in May 50th ..

The Great Emptiness

"Performance and achievement are bad words here," says Economides. He likes both, but he has nevertheless chosen to live in a country where a person can do fairly well merely by knowing the right people. Born to Greek parents in South Africa, Economides has also lived in Mexico and Hong Kong. In 1999, he left New York "for the sunsets along the Attic coast," as he puts it. He also left for the sea. Greece was an inspiring place at the time, says Economides. But then it joined the euro zone and with it came the lunacy of excessive borrowing and the phone calls from banks -- prior to Easter, Christmas and birthdays -- from people trying to convince you to borrow a few thousand euros to buy yourself a nice present. In the process, Greeks turned into foolish consumers, says Economides.
Three credit cards per person? "Five!"
The big party was followed by a great emptiness.
Greece used to have a different image, as a romantic place instead of as a home to junk and radicals. There were Callas and Onassis with their beautiful faces and their glamor, and even Zorba, the rogue, was popular abroad. But then the crisis happened, and Zorba the Greek came back like a boomerang. There had been too much fraud and deception. Greece had become the home of early retirees, people falsely claiming to be blind and farmers who drove Porsche Cayennes but no longer harvested their olives.
To explain that human capital is the most important currency for a bankrupt country, Economides is standing in front of a large LCD screen in a conference room at New York University on a Sunday in April. He is surrounded by members of the Greek America Foundation, most of them wealthy diaspora Greeks who have turned their good ideas into reality away from home. He wants to enlist their help to save Greece.
Economides is now wearing a jacket over his T-shirt and a serious expression on his face. Time is of the essence. "The others," he says, "are more cunning. They'll take away our young people." He shows a film called "Start up Chile," part of an initiative by the Chilean government, which is offering $40,000 to creative young people who are willing to move to Santiago and turn their business plans into reality.
Greece's sunny islands are also suffering.  Not only are foreign tourists ...

Finding the Right People

Economides' Ginetai is the antidote. He wants to surprise the world, positively for a change. Evangelos Venizelos, the head of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), thought it was such a good idea that he wanted to use Ginetai in his campaign, but Economides refused to allow it. He expects nothing from Greek politics, no matter what the name of its protagonists happen to be.
Greeks are deeply skeptical of their own political class, with 96 percent of the population having no confidence in their elected representatives, according to a poll. "We're just happy that they don't get in our way," says Economides.
Ginetai is to be financed through a private fund. Economides is negotiating with major corporations as well as with wealthy families, of which there are many in poverty-stricken Greece. The foundation of shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos has pledged €100 million to combat the crisis. Economides has to find the right people.
One of them is Spiro Pollalis. On a Friday in June, Economides and Pollalis were standing in front of the abandoned terminal at the old Ellinikon Airport in Athens. It was only 9 a.m., but it already felt as though someone were holding a blow-dryer over the area. Pollalis, 56, actually teaches architecture at Harvard University. But as of last fall, he is also the head of Hellenikon SA, a company charged with developing what is perhaps Greece's most valuable piece of real estate. He is in charge of more than six million square meters (1,483 acres), complete with a yacht harbor and ancient ruins.
There have been plenty of different plans for this small piece of prime real estate, three times the size of Monaco and 10 kilometers (six miles) from the Acropolis. It was to become a second Central Park or another Las Vegas, sold or leased for a huge amount of money. But, as is so often the case, nothing happened.
Many of the most successful Greeks are working outside the country.  In Athens, ...

Tougher than Ms. Merkel

Finnish architect Eero Saarinen designed the terminal, a concrete structure resembling a UFO that is now a protected monument. The glass façade looks out to the sea, Agina Island lies across the water. "This is it," says Economides.
The Saarinen building is to house Ginetai, while Pollalis, the architect, intends to build a model city on the remaining land. Economides envisions the development becoming a microcosm, one that could point the way for the rest of the country, a place where everything works -- or at least works as well as anywhere else.
Pollalis only applied for a sabbatical for the job in Athens. "I want to be able to go back at any time," he says. The Harvard professor is now standing on the flat roof of the Saarinen UFO. Three old Boeings are wasting away to his left, while the Olympic baseball field lies to his right. Ginetai is a beginning. Now it's up to the investors. "If we do nothing with all the money that we've received, then we didn't deserve it," he says. "I would be much tougher with us than Ms. Merkel is being."
On the way back to downtown Athens, Pollalis sits in his air-conditioned Mercedes while the traffic begins to back up outside. The best thing, he says, almost with a curse, would be to blow everything up and start all over again.
It isn't entirely clear whether the professor is only referring to the narrow arterial that connects southern Athens with the city center. Or whether he means more.

spiegel






Τρίτη, 10 Ιουλίου 2012

the paper - Το mixtape της Αθήνας από τους Imam Baildi | www.athensvoice.gr

the paper - Το mixtape της Αθήνας από τους Imam Baildi | www.athensvoice.gr

marilena: World Bodypainting Festival attracts 30,000 visito...

marilena: World Bodypainting Festival attracts 30,000 visito...

World Bodypainting Festival attracts 30,000 visitors











Getty Images



Getty Images











Getty Images









Getty Images

Δευτέρα, 9 Ιουλίου 2012

marilena: 'Peep show' at National Gallery inspired by Titian...

marilena: 'Peep show' at National Gallery inspired by Titian...: A classically-inspired peep show has been set up in the middle of the  National  Gallery. Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinge...

'Peep show' at National Gallery inspired by Titian

© The artist, courtesy of the Anthony Reynolds Gallery. Photograph, The National Gallery, London


A classically-inspired peep show has been set up in the middle of the National Gallery.
Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger took to Twitter to find six women, all called Diana, willing to take turns to be spied upon by the public while they sit naked in a mocked-up bathroom.
The work, also called Diana, is inspired by three paintings by Titian which form the centrepiece of the exhibition and features scenes from Greek mythology.

They tell the story of how the young hunter Actaeon stumbled upon Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt, bathing naked and was turned into a stag to be torn apart by his own dogs in revenge.
They are part of a series of six works created for King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century and were deemed so racy they were covered up with a curtain in the presence of the ladies of the court.
Visitors to Wallinger's work can look through peepholes, blinds and a keyhole to catch a glimpse of the women who perform the role of Diana working in two-hour shifts.
The National Gallery, London
Wallinger said: "Diana is about watching and being caught in the act and evolved out of my desire to find a way of representing Diana bathing in a contemporary way."
He said there were very few rules for what his models could and could not do but they had to behave "suitably goddess-ish".
The artist, who hit the headlines when he submitted a film of himself dressed up as a bear to the Turner Prize exhibition, said he did not consider making a film for this exhibition.
He said: "I wanted a real naked person for people to have that relationship with."
He said finding his real-life Dianas was difficult, adding: "I did it initially through emails and contacts and then finally Twitter was the key that unlocked it."
Essex-born Wallinger is one of a group of artists, choreographers and poets challenged by the Trafalgar Square gallery to create something inspired by the trio of paintings.
Other works at the exhibition, sponsored by Credit Suisse, include a robot rescued from a Polish factory and programmed by Conrad Shawcross and placed inside a glass box.
The show, called Metamorphosis: Titian is on at the gallery from this Wednesday to September 23.
PA




independent



marilena: WHAT A BEAUTIFUL ISLAND AND BLIND TAXI DRIVER SAY ...

marilena: WHAT A BEAUTIFUL ISLAND AND BLIND TAXI DRIVER SAY ...: With its blue waters and soft breezes, the island of Zante is the essence of a Greek paradise. It turns out it was also home to widespread ...

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL ISLAND AND BLIND TAXI DRIVER SAY ABOUT GREEK HOPES FOR SURVIVAL

With its blue waters and soft breezes, the island of Zante is the essence of a Greek paradise. It turns out it was also home to widespread scams of state benefits that help explain what is so deeply broken in modern Greece.
On Zante, seeing is believing (Anna Oates)



On Zante, seeing is believing (Anna Oates)
By Benoît Vitkine
LE MONDE/Worldcrunch
ZANTE - “But why do you want to talk about this? You should write about tourism instead!”
We’ve heard this one before, but Zante Island, with its 40,000 inhabitants and 500,000 summer visitors, indeed deserves the praise: the Ionian sea water is sometimes turquoise and sometimes deep blue, lined with fine-sand beaches and majestic cliffs. In the flowering mountain villages time follows the rhythm of men’s conversations as they sip iced coffee. Fish restaurants on the waterfront, bell tower shadows stretching over stone houses, the Insomnia or Bad Boy clubs open all night to the delight of English and Russian tourists…
That’s the post card. This winter, this island the Venetians dubbed “the Flower of the East” acquired a new, equally exotic nickname: “The Island of the Blind.” On Mar. 19, Stelios Bozikis, the mayor of Zakynthos (Zante in Greek) convened television crews to confirm that the island was under investigation from the Greek Health Ministry. The reason was the abnormally high number of blind and visually impaired people: 682 people were receiving up to 325 euros in government benefits. Each. According to the World Health Organization, that’s nine times the average in developed countries.
“I discovered this anomaly at the start of 2011, when the responsibility to distribute the benefits shifted from the prefecture to the town hall,” says Mayor Bozikis. “I wrote to Athens, but in the central administration they were dragging their feet. I was afraid that they wanted to bury the story, so I made it public.”
Keeping the silence
Who knew? Who were the blind people? In Zakynthos, restaurant owners shrug their shoulders; shopkeepers urge you to ponder instead the mores of the turtles that are famous on the island; and the old people holding their rosaries in the port are indignant that everybody - both “real” and “fake” blind people - was sent to the continent to take new eye exams.
The Island of the Blind seems to have become mute, and those most directly concerned have somehow all disappeared. “The people here were taken aback by the way all of Greece pointed its finger at them,” says Spiros Betsis, a local television journalist. “We all felt collectively punished.”
The control tests ordered by the Health Ministry yielded their results at the end of June, and only fifty or so blind and visually impaired people will get their benefits back. The others will have to pay back past benefits, and risk going to prison. The legal investigation and the testimonies paint the picture of a smoothly running operation that has probably been in place since 1998.
To get the benefits, the claimant had to obtain two stamps: one from the island’s only ophthalmologist, who worked at the public hospital, and one from the prefect, who has an administrative function but is elected by popular vote. The former put down his signature in exchange for 500 to 2,000 euros, the latter allegedly exchanged his stamp for guarantees of the votes of the beneficiaries and of their families. A summary of Greece’s woes, where petty corruption is rivaled only by voter manipulation.
Greek and international organization reports rank public hospitals as one of the most corrupt institutions. According to Transparency International, it is where 42% of bribes are dealt out, more than for taxes (16%). Amounts vary from 30 euros to cut a line to 30,000 euros for certain surgical operations. Athens has grappled with the problem only recently, though cases like Zante’s regularly make headlines: there are the Cephalonia Island amputees, the Thessalonica handicapped, the Viota region asthmatics…
Some doctors were collared, like the gynecologists who diagnosed asthma and depression. In Zante, the ophthalmologist is hesitant before he accepts an interview over the phone. Nikos Varzelis says it’s a “political conspiracy” led by the mayor and swears that he wanted to “help the poor, without receiving any money.”
Dyonisis Gasparos, the prefect, refuses to comment. In a local newspaper, this urologist, candidate for the right in the legislative elections on June 17, had explained that he “simply signed the certificates sent by the expert.” It is only in Gasparos’ home village of Keri on the southern edge of the island that people start to talk. Here, in the prefect’s stronghold, there are 48 “blind” people for 630 inhabitants. Including the most famous swindler, a taxi driver, in close competition with a bird hunter.
“I want my children to grow up in a normal country..”
How to recognize them? There isn’t a white cane in sight…On the beach at the foot of the village, the owner of the Rock Café wants to talk: “Because I work from dawn till dusk and I want my children to grow up in a normal country,” says Hristos Vatos. “Poor people weren’t the only ones who got the benefits, there were also café owners, prosperous farmers and even a hotel owner who had a pension for his heart while his wife had one for her blindness.”
Mr. Vatos says it’s easy to meet some of the fraudulent beneficiaries. He takes his phone and says a few words but takes it away from his ear as someone yells louder and louder into the receiver. “That wasn’t a good idea,” he says. How did these fake blind people react to the scandal? “Some were ashamed, but most weren’t: they had found a good scheme in a period where no one has money.” Did he know who they were? “We had doubts, no more.”
“We are in a village, of course everybody knew!” says his neighbor Giorgos Kiourkas, who runs a boat rental. “Here, tricking the State is a source of pride, it means we’re smarter than them.” He doesn’t have any names to give either - that’s another thing you don’t do on this island. The mayor has the same analysis. “People accused me of discrediting the island, but most people are starting to understand that fraud is serious, it’s one of the things that ruined this country.”
Read more from Le Monde in French.
Photo - Anna Oates
All rights reserved ©Worldcrunch - in partnership with Le Monde

marilena: More hospitalized on third day of Spain's running ...

marilena: More hospitalized on third day of Spain's running ...: CNN

More hospitalized on third day of Spain's running of the bulls By Al Goodman, CNN July 9, 2012 -

A man receives medical assistance after being injured during the first San Fermin Festival bull run.

People hold red handkerchiefs in the air during the opening ceremony Friday. The run in Pamplona started 400 years ago.

A participant gulps sangria Friday during the Chupinazo, which marks the first day of the annual event.

A reveler jumps from a fountain into the crowd at Plaza de Navarreria during the Chupinazo.

People try to escape the horns and hooves of the bulls on Saturday.

Runners push past each other to escape the bulls.

CNN

marilena: Δύο πολύ καλές από τους REUTERS

marilena: Δύο πολύ καλές από τους REUTERS: Women, wearing nylon masks, rest on the shore during their visit to a beach in Qingdao, Shandong province July 6, 2012. The mask, which ...

marilena: Δύο πολύ καλές από τους REUTERS

marilena: Δύο πολύ καλές από τους REUTERS: Women, wearing nylon masks, rest on the shore during their visit to a beach in Qingdao, Shandong province July 6, 2012. The mask, which ...

Δύο πολύ καλές από τους REUTERS

Women, wearing nylon masks, rest on the shore during their visit to a beach in Qingdao, Shandong province July 6, 2012. The mask, which was invented by a woman about seven years ago, is used to block the sun's rays. The mask is under mass production and is on sale at local swimwear stores. REUTERS-Aly Song

Women, wearing nylon masks, rest on the shore during their visit to a beach in Qingdao, Shandong province July 6, 2012. The mask, which was invented by a woman about seven years ago, is used to block the sun's rays. The mask is under mass production and is on sale at local swimwear stores. 
REUTERS/Aly Song



Brides speak to their grooms during a mass wedding ceremony in Amman July 6, 2012. An Islamic charity organized a mass wedding for 46 Jordanian and Syrian couples who are unable to afford expensive ceremonies. REUTERS-Ali Jarekji

Brides speak to their grooms during a mass wedding ceremony in Amman July 6, 2012. An Islamic charity organized a mass wedding for 46 Jordanian and Syrian couples who are unable to afford expensive ceremonies. 
REUTERS/Ali Jarekji




marilena: Pamplona July 9, 2012.....Τι να πει κανείς γι' αυτ...

marilena: Pamplona July 9, 2012.....Τι να πει κανείς γι' αυτ...: reuters

Pamplona July 9, 2012.....Τι να πει κανείς γι' αυτό....

Runners sprint in front of Cebada Gago ranch fighting bulls on Santo Domingo street during the third Encierro (Running Of The Bulls) at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 9, 2012. REUTERS-Eloy Alonso

Runners enter the bullring during the third running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 9, 2012. REUTERS-Susana Vera

A wild cow leaps over a group of revellers following the third day of the running of the bulls at the bullring during the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 9, 2012. REUTERS-Joseba Etxaburu

Spanish bullfighter Fernando Robleno goes for the kill during the second bullfight of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 8, 2012. REUTERS-Vincent West

Spanish bullfighter Javier Castano performs a pass to Navajito (Little Blade) during the second bullfight of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 8, 2012. REUTERS-Vincent West

A recortador performs a pass during a contest at Pamplona's bullring on the third day of the San Fermin festival July 8, 2012. REUTERS-Joseba Etxaburu

Steers enter the bullring during the second running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 8, 2012. REUTERS-Susana Vera

A steer attempts to break through the crowd of runner blocking the entrance to the bullring during the second running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 8, 2012. REUTERS-Susana Vera

Spanish bullfighter Antonio Ferrera performs during the first bullfight of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 7, 2012. REUTERS-Joseba Etxaburu

Revellers taunt a fighting cow in the Plaza de Toros following the first running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 7, 2012. REUTERS-Joseba Etxaburu

A fighting cow leaps over bull runners in the Plaza de Toros following the first running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 7, 2012.  REUTERS-Joseba Etxaburu

A crowd of runners wait for the start of the first running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 7, 2012. REUTERS-Susana Vera

Rejoneador (bullfighter on horseback) Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza performs at the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona July 6, 2012.  REUTERS-Joseba Etxaburu

Revellers on the town hall balcony hold up red scarves during the start of the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona July 6, 2012. REUTERS-Vincent West

reuters