Daily Archives: January 21, 2014

On your bike!


Greek tourists Dimitris, Ada and daughter Aphrodite are travelling around Australia with two pushbikes and an open mind.

In times when the only topic that people around the world associate with Greece is crisis, the story of Dimitri and Ada brings a myriad of questions to your mind.
The Greek couple arrived in Australia in October last year, carrying their two pushbikes, some tents, three sleeping bags and their five-year-old daughter Aphrodite.
Born in Athens, the couple – Ada, candlemaker, and Dimitris, operator turned travel photographer – moved to Nafplio six years ago. They live in the countryside, and in a nowaday Greece of crisis and financial and social struggles, they choose a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle.
They cycle and keep the car usage low, they save energy and are building a house that won’t have electrical power; they collect rainwater. And they manage to travel. Sounds too alternative for a crisis hit country, but it’s true.
When I meet them, the inseparable trio has just pedalled 110 km in a day, from Geelong to Melbourne, crossing the limit of 60 km per day they had set so their daughter Aphrodite could keep up with pace.
“It’s all straight, no uphill or downhill at all,” is how the five year old describes the landscape from Geelong to Melbourne.
For bubbly Aphrodite, nothing seems to be tough. Placed in a seat on the back of her father’s bike, with her new purple helmet, she has her own cycle on long pedalling days. She sings, then eats a nut bar; has a nap leaning on her dad’s back. Her only demand is for the ‘portable house’ short stopovers to be where the swings are.
“I walk with my hands,” says Aphrodite, referred to her game of imitating the steps with her hands in the air, that she does when on a long cycling day.
Reasons behind the pushbike journey around Australia for this unusual Greek family were many, says Ada. First of all, it was the people who live in Australia that they love. After three trips to Australia, it has always been their wish to cycle the continent. But to do it with a five-year-old child seemed like an unachievable dream.
During two months on the road and over 1600 km cycled – the statistics of their journey when I meet them – many have stopped the trio, have taken photos with them, and shared the amazement at their decision to see and travel Australia on pushbikes, and with a five-year-old in the seat.
The amazement grows when they hear that the couple, apart from bike rides in the countryside and taking Aphrodite to kindergarten, could hardly be credited as professional or amateur cyclists.
That didn’t stop the cycling trio from pedalling from Adelaide, McLaren Vale, the Grampians and Great Ocean Road to Geelong and Melbourne, and New South Wales destinations, before they return to Greece at the end of January.
“Within two weeks we grew so much stronger, and the joy that we take just from living the landscape, wind pounding, and the rain is irreplaceable,” Ada says.
One of the rare things the couple will keep away from Aphrodite for now is going to the remote areas of central Australia they fell in love with on their previous trips. Like Uluru.
“It’s the heart of Australia, Uluru,” Dimitris says.
“But it’s difficult to take a child there, on the pushbike – to go out for miles, not seeing anything. One such trip you can describe as a trip to your inner self, to the centre. But for Aphrodite, that feeling at her age is something absolutely useless, isn’t it?” he says with a laugh.
Aphrodite agrees. She likes to have people around her, to make new friends. Once, while on a walk in the Australian bush, she wouldn’t stop questioning her parents curiously: “Where are the people? What are we doing here now? Why are we alone?”
Tourists from Greece of crisis
“Everyone can travel. It’s all about the priorities that each of us set. The one who is afraid does nothing,” Dimitris explains.
And in today’s Greece, crisis is mostly about fear.
“We dared. We closed our shop and said ‘we’ll be back’. When we shared the news with our friends, never before has their reaction been like that. Usually they would be amazed; wish us a nice trip. For the first time, they were numb, they all feared our decision, said that finances won’t endure,” Dimitris and Ada tell.
“In the Greece of today, people believe – keep what you have, because you may not be able to survive tomorrow. The crisis is not anymore the financial one as much as it is crisis of values, of people; it’s the psychological factor that people are facing. If we could actually remove the piece of the puzzle of what crisis actually is, we would have to look at the psychological factor.
“We are all going through difficult times; we’ve lost what we had. But at least you continue to fight, to live, to hope…”
One of the reasons the family embarked on the journey that their friends and family received with mixed emotions and fear, was their attempt towards an alternative and more sustainable lifestyle. With less energy, less waste of money, less car usage.
“There were some people who, during our journey, told us ‘You are doing it as it’s a cheap way to travel’. But it is all about the human eye. Yes, it’s cheaper, but first of all – for us – it’s about lifestyle,” Ada says.
Travelling on pushbikes gave the trio an opportunity to see Australia in a completely different light. To embrace its inside – the bowels of the big machine and how it works.
“We saw the cow, we met the one who grazes it and the one who transports milk, we saw the villages, from Adelaide to Warrnambol, and the whole of Victoria. We stayed in their backyards, in the villages with 30 residents, in provinces.”
The most important thing they have learned on their trip is that wherever you go, you carry yourself, but you also learn more about your inner self. And you realise that people are the same everywhere.

source: Neos Kosmos

Escaped N17 convict vows to return to armed action


Police redoubled their efforts to locate the fugitive November 17 convict Christodoulos Xeros after he posted a video on the Internet heralding his return to terrorism

Police redoubled their efforts to locate the fugitive November 17 convict Christodoulos Xeros after the 55-year-old posted a video and a letter on the Internet heralding his return to terrorism and appealing to members of leftist and anarchist guerrilla groups to unite in armed action in protest against ongoing austerity in Greece.

Xeros, who has been on the run since he absconded during a nine-day prison furlough that began on January 1, described himself as “a free member of November 17” in the letter posted on the Indymedia website and called on members of leftist and anarchist guerrilla groups to “unite” against politicians, unionists, journalists and police. “It is our duty to light the fuse,” he said, adding that he had “once again taken the decision to wield the guerrilla rifle against those who stole our lives and sold our dreams for a profit.”

In a video featuring Xeros speaking in front of a backdrop with pictures of Che Guevara, Greek independence heroes and a resistance fighter in World War Two, the fugitive called for immediate action. “What are we waiting for?” he said. “If we don’t react now, immediately, we will cease to exist as a nation, as a civilization.”

According to sources, the video and letter were probably compiled in two parts – on December 31, the day before Xeros left prison on his furlough – and on January 14, the date mentioned at the end of his letter. It was the seventh furlough granted to the 55-year-old, who was serving multiple life terms in Attica’s high-security Korydallos Prison following his conviction in 2003.

Speaking to reporters, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said he refused to comment on “the thoughts of whichever terrorist, especially those of Christodoulos Xeros.” “The only thing I can do is reassure Greek society that authorities are meticulously doing their duty to put in prison those who belong there,” he said.

Later, during a speech at an event organized by the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said his government would “not be stopped by the threats of terrorists.”

Source: Kathimerini

Wage ruling rattles Greek government



Leaked court decision deems salary cuts for armed forces, security services illegal.

A decision by the country’s highest administrative court, leaked to the media and expected to be made public over the next month, has deemed unconstitutional the wage cuts made to members of the armed forces and emergency services in 2012. This means the government is likely to be obliged to pay back those affected by the measure.

Although the exact details, and the repercussions, of the Council of State’s decision remained unclear, the news caused upheaval within the government amid concerns about where the money will come from to pay back withheld salaries. There were also worries that the decision could spur similar demands by other civil servants whose salaries have been cut as part of belt-tightening pledged by Greece to the troika. There are fears that the cost to the state coffers could be in excess of 400 million euros.

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said authorities would respect the court’s decision, once it has been made public and its reasoning elaborated. But other senior officials expressed concern. Andreas Papamimikos, the secretary of conservative New Democracy, which leads the ruling coalition, conceded that “we will have problems as regards where to find the money.” Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis was, characteristically, more outspoken. “No matter how many court decisions there are, we won’t suddenly be able to generate money,” he said.

According to sources, the court deemed unconstitutional the fact that the decision to cut the wages was voted through Parliament in December of 2012 but applied retroactively from August of that year. It remained unclear whether the decision to cut salaries has been deemed unconstitutional itself. If so, it could set a precedent for other groups of civil servants to seek similar rulings.

The decision regarding the armed forces and emergency service staff, as well as a similar decision in favor of judicial officials, are expected to be discussed during a new round of negotiations between the government and troika officials, who are expected in Athens at the end of the month.

According to sources, senior judicial officials Monday discussed other appeals including those by independent bodies whose staff want wage cuts to be deemed unconstitutional.

Source: Kathimerini

Diaspora entrepreneurs create a world first


George Delaportas

“Impossible is a word that does not exist in my vocabulary,” says George Delaportas, CEO and Enterprise Architect of Pandoo Technologies.
Pandoo TEK Inc. is located in Vancouver, Canada, and specialises in Research and Development of web-based technologies, products and services. George Delaportas and Michael Patellis founded the company in June 2013, and are currently presenting their flagship project, PANDOO, a web platform tailored to the needs of users and developers.
By accessing this alternative operating system through their web browser, users can run applications and entertain themselves in a way where they feel the internet is personalised. For web engineers, it provides an ecosystem for coding, testing, deploying and running applications, games and services without the need to buy third party software.
What makes the difference is that users have access to an infinite source of web apps, in contrast to their computer that runs software specifically coded for their current operating system and hardware.
Without computing power or hard disk limitations – as it offers unlimited cloud storage – it integrates all web apps in one place and is completely free.
Observing the needs of the market for evolution was what prompted the company to create this user-sensitive web.
“We don’t just invest in the future, we build it,” they claim their motto to be.
Canada-based Greek entrepreneur George Delaportas, CEO and enterprise architect of the company, completed his secondary studies in Kerkyra. After graduating from the Technological Educational Institute of Lamia, as an Informatics and Computer Engineer, he pursued a Master’s degree in Networking and Data Communications at Kingston University, London, followed by a PhD at the University of Piraeus in the Informatics Department, for which he requested a deferral in 2012.
He has been working in various programming languages since the young age of 14 and started in the field of computer science and engineering even before he obtained his first degree.
“Impossible, for me, is a word that does not exist.”
“I love my work because I like challenges. Software development has always been a challenge for me because in order to find more effective and innovative ways to optimise the final results I had to hack deep inside the core of each application,” says the 29-year-old.
The idea for PANDOO originated from George Delaportas and serial entrepreneur Michael Patellis, well-known for his business endeavours in the seaplane industry in Greece. They both live in Vancouver, Canada, where the company is based.
The rest of the members of the management team work remotely through the internet, from a number of other countries, including Greece, Holland, England, Serbia and Bosnia. This can give an initial explanation to the title of the product ‘PANDOO’ [in Greek meaning: everywhere].
“If your feet are touching the ground then your mind could reach the sky,” according to head market analyst of Pandoo, Yannis Sourvinos.
Even though the initial version of the idea was focused on the medical and pharmaceutical industry, Mr Delaportas was the person who suggested a total web solution integrating software systems all around the world and facilitating the use of personalised internet services, regardless of the device used.
“My point of view is that hard work and creativity in conjunction with knowledge is always more efficient than cleverness,” says the Greek entrepreneur.
Revenue for the project will come from advertising and promotional sources, as well as from fees and commissions for the purchase and creation of online applications.
For accessing a limited DEMO of the product, you may register at www.demo.pandoo.cc

source: Neos Kosmos

Cypriot youth meet in Sydney


Cypriot youth from around the world gets together – members of NEPOMAK in front of the Sydney Opera House

The executive meeting of the World Organisation of Young Overseas Cypriots (NEPOMAK) was held in Sydney, from 27-30 December last year.
Members of the Executive Council from around the world, as well as young Cypriots from across Australia, participated in the meeting that was officially opened at the Cyprus Hellene Club in Sydney, in the presence of the Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus, H.E. Andreas Hadjithemistos, and representatives of Cypriot Australian organisations.
Discussions of the NEPOMAK meeting, which takes place every two years in different parts of the world, focused on establishing new programs for its members and developing new partnerships.
The Executive Council also developed initiatives to help support Cyprus’ economic recovery, including building closer partnerships with the Cyprus Tourism Organisation to promote Cyprus internationally.
“We held workshops on how to get more young people involved with NEPOMAK and how to build up Cypriot youth groups around Australia, as well as what we as a Greek-Cypriot diaspora can do to help Cyprus during the financial crisis,” executive committee member of NEPOMAK Australia and New Zealand, Michael Christodoulides, told Neos Kosmos.
Following the official meeting, the Executive Council was welcomed at the Cyprus Community of Brisbane to meet representatives of the local community.
“We are exceptionally grateful to NEPOMAK Australia and the Cypriot communities in Sydney and Brisbane for the warm welcome that they gave us,” NEPOMAK President Christos Karaolis said.
“We put in place proposals for new programs that will ensure we continue to deliver on our core aims: supporting Cyprus and maintaining Cypriot culture and identity across the diaspora.”
NEPOMAK Australia and New Zealand President Dimitri Nicolaou was happy with the great success of the meeting.
“This year’s conference provided an opportunity to showcase and share the success stories of our Cypriot communities and the Cypriot youth here in Australia,” Mr Nicolaou said.
The global NEPOMAK meeting in Sydney and Brisbane brought together close to 40 representatives of Cypriot youth, from the United States, the UK and seven states/territories across Australia.
The World Organisation of Young Overseas Cypriots, NEPOMAK was founded in 2002 to promote awareness of the Cyprus issue and to bring young Cypriots together. It’s supported by the Cypriot Government, with branches in the UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Today, it counts over 1000 members globally, from 18 to 30 years old.
Every two years a conference of NEPOMAK is held in Cyprus while every alternative two years meetings of its Executive Committee are held in a regional member country.
Every year, in July, its flagship program NEPOMAK Discover Cyprus Program (NDCP), brings to Cyprus 18-22-year-old Cypriots from around the world.
“For three weeks, they have an intensive Greek language course, with weekend excursions around the island to learn all about Cyprus. The program is supported by the Cypriot government, the University of Cyprus and NEPOMAK Globally, who provide participants with subsidies for the airfares, accommodation and the program itself,” Mr Christodoulides said.
NEPOMAK Australia and New Zealand, founded in 2004, today has several hundred members. One of the most active members of the global NEPOMAK family, Mr Christodoulides says the Australian branch has continued to grow in representation over the past few years.
“We are basically the youth group of Cypriot communities in Australia and New Zealand. The numbers are increasing as we raise awareness – youth from Australia and New Zealand who participate in NDCP come back and they tell their friends about it; and now we also connect through our social media pages,” he said.
The Australian branch Annual General Meeting, or Summit, is held every year. This year it will take place in Melbourne, on a date yet to be released.
For more information about NEPOMAK or how to become a member, visit www.nepomak.org

source: Neos Kosmos