Apple Refreshes iPad Lineup, with Larger Entry-Level Model

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple has unveiled a new iPad that’s thinner and slightly larger than its current entry-level tablet.

The new iPad Air will cost $499 and sport a screen that measures 10.5 inches diagonally. That compares with the standard, 9.7-inch iPad at $329.

Apple has a higher-end Pro model starting at $999. The new iPad Air has several features found in older Pro models, but not the latest. For instance, the iPad Air has a home button with a fingerprint sensor, while the latest Pro ditches that to make more room for the screen.

Apple is also refreshing its 7.9-inch iPad Mini.

Erdogan Shows NZ Attack Video in Weekend Rallies

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — Turkey’s president has shown parts of a video taken by the attacker who killed 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand to comment on what he called rising Islamophobia.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed the clips during campaign rallies for March 31 local elections. The video, which was blurred but had clear sounds of automatic gunfire, was shown to thousands of people at the rallies and was aired live on Turkish television.

Erdogan used the video to comment on attacks on Islam and rising Islamophobia. He referred to a manifesto by the suspected attacker, Brenton Tarrant, in which he threatened Turks and vowed to make Istanbul “Christian owned once more.”

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said Monday he told his Turkish counterpart the video doesn’t represent New Zealand.

A mourner lights a candle during a vigil to commemorate victims of Friday’s shooting, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

ACS Athens to Honor Stephanie E. Joannides in Alumni Achievement Award Event

WASHINGTON – ACS Athens (American Community Schools) will honor alumna Stephanie E. Joannides, Senior Superior Court Judge, Anchorage Alaska, class of ‘71, with this year’s “Lifetime Achievement Award,” acknowledging her professional achievements, exemplary leadership with ethos, and service to humanity, according to ACS Athens press release.

The event will take place on April 6, 2019, at the Capital Hilton, Washington D.C., at 6:30 pm. Professor Nicholas Burns, former US Ambassador to Greece and ACS Athens parent, will be the guest speaker at the Award Ceremony.

Stephanie E. Joannides, received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Santa Clara and a law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law, in Spokane, Washington. She has worked as a State Prosecutor in Juneau, in the Office of the Statewide Chief Prosecutor in the Criminal Division and in the Attorney General’s Special Litigation Office in Anchorage. She served as a judge on the State District Court, the State Superior Court and as a pro tem judge on the Alaska Court of Criminal Appeals from 1994 to 2011. Since then, she has been on senior status, presiding over civil and criminal cases, being involved in a variety of court projects and committees and sitting pro tem on the Criminal Court of Appeals.

“With its 2nd Alumni Achievement Awards Event, ACS Athens takes the opportunity to invite members of its community across the globe and prominent professionals from all areas to this landmark event for a meaningful celebration, bringing together people who are changing the world!” ACS Athens says.

“The ACS Athens Alumni Achievements Awards celebration was introduced in 2017 with the recognition of two ACS Athens alumni for their accomplishments. Dr. Scott Parazynski, class of 1979 (CEO of Fluidity Technologies, Physician, U.S. Astronaut, Inventor, Speaker) received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Dr. Anna Kaltsas, class of 1996 (Clinical Research, Infectious Diseases, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College) received the Emerging Young Leader Award.”

Awarded alumni Dr. Anna Kaltsas and Dr. Scott Parazynski among the ACS Athens Board Members Tim Ananiades, Suheil Sabbagh, Nick Karambelas and ACS Athens President Dr. Stefanos Gialamas. (Inaugural Global Alumni Awards Dinner, April, 2017)

The event took place in New York and marked the beginning of a tradition of recognizing alumni who have impacted the community with their outstanding life’s work and celebrating the legacy of ACS Athens. The recipient of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Scott Parazynski reflected: “I spent some of my formative high school years in Greece, and greatly benefitted from the amazing education, people and extracurriculars of ACS Athens. There’s no doubt that my college success stemmed from my stellar teachers there, and this led to further advancement into medical school and eventually into a wonderful career as a NASA Page 2 of 2 astronaut. I was humbled to receive one of the first ACS Athens Alumni Achievement Awards, but there are many other standout alumni out there changing the world who are richly deserving of this recognition!”

Event Information:
Date: Saturday, April 6, 2019
Time: 6:30-11:00 pm
Location: Capital Hilton, 1001, 16th Street NW, Washington DC
Cost: $250 USD per person. Proceeds will go to alumni scholarships.
Register online at: www.acsathensglobal.org

Tim Ananiades and Dr. Anna Kaltsas (Inaugural Global Alumni Awards Dinner, April, 2017)

 

Turkish-Cypriot Journalist Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

For her work writing about the fate of people missing on Cyprus since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion, Turkish-Cypriot investigative journalist Sevgül Uludağ was nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

Anna Agathangelou, a political sciences professor at Canada’s York University, made the nomination, the Cyprus News Agency said, with the reporter having spent more than 18 years trying to discover the fate of the missing.

The Committee on Missing Persons on Cyprus (CMP) said that 1,510 Greek-Cypriots and 492 Turkish-Cypriots from 1974 and a 1963-64 conflict still haven’t been accounted for with the legitimate Cypriot government saying Turkey hasn’t co-operated.

In a joint statement, Cenk Mutluyakali, chief editor of the Turkish-Cypriot newspaper Yeni Duzen and Cenk Mutluyakali, Editor of the Greek-language Politis welcomed the nomination of  Uludağ — who writes for both.

They also praised her work as a journalist to help build mutual understanding between the two communities on this issue. “This candidacy also honours her work and efforts for peace and conciliation in Cyprus,” they said.

Born in Nicosia in 1958, Uludağ has taken her work beyond writing to, trying to find possible burial locations, and researching and writing about their painful and tragic stories.

She has also set up a hot line so that readers from both communities can provide any information they may have on the issue anonymously.

The journalist has also brought relatives of missing from the two communities together, helping to establish a bicommunal association of relatives of the missing and victims of war called Together We Can, in-Cyprus said.

The CMP said 681 Greek-Cypriot missing and 246 Turkish-Cypriots have been identified but that of 1,254 sites excavated looking for remains, 1200 had none, showing the task.

Greek Bailouts Over, But Economic Crisis Isn’t

Three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($370.2 billion) ended for Greece on Aug. 20, 2018 after eight years but the effects are lingering with the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA – claiming a recovery – admitting it has failed to rein in tax cheats or corruption.

The monies from the original Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-International Monetary Fund (EU-ECB-ESM) – the IMF was replaced by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) in a third rescue package of 86 billion euros ($97.66 billion) in 2015, propped up an economy brought to near ruin by runaway spending and patronage and governments working hand-in-hand with oligarchs and business interests.

That created a crisis and brought austerity in big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings that saw the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shrink 25 percent and create an exodus of scores of thousands leaving to find work and a better life elsewhere.

“I still think the crisis exists. It’s more than in one field now, (it’s) not only (a) financial crisis, but it’s a crisis of our values … I don’t think it’s better now … it is really a stressful period for Greece,” Stavros Dimopoulos, a 23-year-old university student told CNBC in Athens.

Greece had been surviving on the bailouts and when they ended, on a 22-billion euro ($24.98 billion) cash buffer from the third until seeing a full market return. Two 3-billion euro ($3.41 billion) test bond sales and another 10-year bond in March were sold successfully, but at interest rates more than three times higher than the bailouts.

A man sells snails at Varvakios market in Athens, Monday, April 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

“We love our city, we love our weather, we love the Greek people, but we are scared and afraid in a way, because the situation is not that good,” Dimopoulos told the news site about he and his friends feel, echoing many previous sentiments since 2010 by others.

“We have to try harder and harder to make our own money … Sometimes we are talking (about going) abroad: If it is going to be better for us to leave Greece or if it is going to be better to stay in Greece and try harder. It is in our minds.”

Many of the country’s best and brightest, entrepreneurs and the young have gone for good, although some have trickled back amid signs of a slow recovery, missing their homeland, family and friends while many said they won’t return except to visit.

In 2016, about 20,000 people aged between 25 and 29 left Greece, as well as about 14,000 from 20-24, data from analytics company Oxford Analytica showed, a rate more than two times higher than before that period.

“Some kids are educated, and they don’t find jobs, so they are going to (the rest of) Europe, which is a loss for Greece. But we hope they come back again in 20 years,” 57-year-old Nikolas told CNBC.

THE BIG HITS

With Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, reneging on campaign promises, burying workers, pensioners and the poor with an avalanche of taxes, raising the corporate rate to 29 percent and hard-core elements in his party trying to keep out investors he said are key to a recovery, Greece’s rebound could be long in the making.

FILE – People walk in front of the Greek Parliament, in central Athens, on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

The loans won’t be paid back until 2060 and Tsipras, in an election year, has been trying to wiggle out of some reforms and austerity measures that drove down his popularity ratings so far he’s now double digits behind to the party he easily defeated, New Democracy, twice in 2015.

Income tax for those earning more than 40,000 euros ($45,427) is 45 percent and 22 percent for the first 20,000 euros ($22,714,) although many rich have secreted their money away in foreign bank accounts and pay little, or no, taxes and get away with it.

The government has responded with a barrage of confiscation of bank accounts of debtors to the state and now planning raids on safe deposit boxes while failing to force all companies and professionals to give receipts and use Point-of-Service debit and credit card machines so tax cheats can’t accept only cash to hide their income.

Greece’s unemployment rate is still the highest in the Eurozone with successive governments doing next to nothing about it despite promises to have jobs programs. Tsipras raised the minimum wage by half what it had been cut, four years after he said it would and too late to help those who’d already left the country.

The jobless rate is still about 21.7 percent but the government crowed that’s an improvement although there are more than 881,000 people without a job, not counting those who fell off rolls when benefits expire after a year.

The IMF’s country report on Greece this week said the government intends to pay off as much as 60 percent of its debts to the agency of 9.5 billion euros ($10.79 billion) in the first two bailouts. Paying 4.6 billion euros quickly ($5.22 billion) could save tens of millions of euros in interest.

Land Rush: Greece Finally Expects Registry Done by 2021

More than 20 years after it was begun, Greece expects to finally become the last  country in the European Union to have a land registry identifying who owns what properties, although in remote areas some pieces of land were passed down from ancestors without specific borders designated.

The haphazard system has even seen some members of the Diaspora cheated out of their properties while it’s been difficult for the government to ascertain who legally owns what land and with runaway unlawful building even on state lands that hasn’t been stopped.

A rush is on to make people provide documentation so that the registry can be finished by 2021, the news agency Reuters said, with the government spending hundreds of millions of euros on the project.

The lack of a complete record of property ownership across the country is a major barrier to investment, tax collection and growth. The biggest land registry in the country opened on March 13 in Athens, which has nearly half the country’s population of nearly 11 million.

The aim is to speed compilation of a nationwide database as Athens residents will be able to register their assets in rural Greece without having to travel outside the capital as had been the case before, making them take long, arduous treks to their family properties and villages in the mountains and on the islands.

The new registry is a 3,000 square meter (32,000-square foot) office complex to the north of Athens with a green metal roof that was built to host gymnastics events at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Staff at the new center and in smaller offices outside the capital are trying to establish an electronic database that will cover the whole country by 2021, a deadline agreed with Greece’s foreign creditors who had pushed for a legal system of designating properties.

“(Preparations) are now at their peak, we are optimistic that it will be completed by 2021,” Aria Ioannidi, the project manager,  told Reuters from the new office.

The project began in 1998 but by 2010, when Greece signed the first of what turned into three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($370.2 billion), it was alone with Albania as being the only countries in the EU without a registry.

In Greece, only about 30 percent of titles deeds have been electronically registered, hampered by a lack of offices and infrastructure and many believe without being squeezed by the creditors that it wouldn’t have gone any further.

“If we didn’t have the Troika (of lenders) to put pressure on us it would have taken us another 10 years to finish it,” an official who participates in the project told Reuters. That was in reference to the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) although the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) took part in two first rescue packages of 240 billion euros ($272.54 billion) before the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA got one for 86 billion euros ($97.66 billion) in 2015.

More than 3,000 people have already signed up to register assets at the new Athens registry but there’s been frustration at having to deal with yet another notorious Greek bureaucracy, a system that can make patience wear thin at long waits at public offices.

“It’s costly and time-consuming, I’m here since early morning and I haven’t finished yet,” Athanasios Theos, 67, holding a paper bag full of documents, told the site. “We registered our home and some land plots decades ago in the tax offices, we are paying property tax since day one and now they are asking us for more money to register them here,” he said.

Amnesty Group Projects Refugees Welcome Message on Acropolis

Amnesty International said it was behind projecting a light image on the side of the Acropolis stating Humanity First, Refugees Welcome, as a stunt to draw attention to the March 18 third anniversary of an essentially suspended swap deal between the European Union and Turkey which has seen more than 70,000 stuck in Greece.

“Three years after the EU-Turkey deal was implemented, it is vital that this call for humanity is seen not just across Athens, but across the whole of Europe,” said Fotis Filippou, Campaigns Director for Europe at Amnesty International.

“The situation facing thousands of migrants and refugees on the islands is a scar on the conscience of Europe. Anyone looking up at the Acropolis can see thousands of years of civilisation. Anyone who’s looking towards the refugee camps on the Greek islands will see that our leaders have learnt nothing.

“It is time for our leaders to put humanity first. They must end the tragedy thousands of people are facing as a result of the EU-Turkey deal and act now to ensure that those trapped in abject misery on the islands are finally moved to safety on the mainland and on to other European states,” the group added.

The swap deal was instituted in 2016 as hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and strife in the Middle East, especially Syria’s civil war, went to Turkey as a jumping-off point to reach more prosperous EU countries before the borders were shut to them.

That has seen more than 70,000 abandoned in Greece, with 15,000 on islands near Turkey which has continued to let human traffickers send more, although in lesser numbers, and with Greece and the EU blaming each other for not doing more to deal with the problem.

Most of those in Greece, locked out of the EU, are seeking asylum, overwhelming the ability to deal with them as many have been in camps and detention centers for two years or more in facilities human rights groups, including Amnesty International, said were unfit.

Amnesty said the deal was supposed to show cooperation and return ineligible asylum seekers although only about 1 percent have. Instead, the group said, “What ensued in practice is a containment policy, trapping people in the Greek hotspots for extended periods of time,” and little hope of seeing a quick resolution.

The group said most of those in camps in islands such as Lesbos, Samos and Chios are staying in overcrowded camps, many sleeping in unsuitable tents and containers, facing risks to their safety and security. The camp on the island of Samos  houses more than 4,000 people, a number exceeding its capacity by more than five times, it added.

The deal was supposed to see one Syrian refugee sent to an EU country for every one returned from Greece to Turkey but the group said figures show only over 8,000 resettlements of Syrians have been carried out in 2018, while around 3.6 million remain in Turkey. Out of 32,494 total sea arrivals to Greece in 2018, returns to Turkey amounted to only 322.

6th International Marathon of Rhodes to Be Held on April 14

RHODES, Greece – The 6th International Marathon of Rhodes that will be held on Sunday, April 14.

Members of the board of the organising committee estimated that this year’s race will be the best and most successful to date as athletes from 45 countries have already confirmed their participation.

“The International Marathon of Rhodes is the top sports event of the South Aegean region. The race has the official approval of AIMS and IAAF, which guarantee the international recognition of the race,” said the president of the organising committee Marietta Papavasiliou.

Rosemary, Acacias and Oleanders Planted to Form “Fire-Resistant Zone” around Sheikh Sou Forest

THESSALONIKI – The first step toward creating a “fire-retardant” zone to protect Thessaloniki’s Sheikh Sou forest, on the outskirts of the city suburbs, was taken on Sunday with the planting of 1,500 flame resistant rosemary, acacia and oleander shrubs on the side of a road that skirts the city, passing through the trees.

The planting was organised by the Central Macedonia region and covered more than a kilometre of the road, from the Philippou junction to Philyro.

“We are creating a fire-resistant fence, a zone to check fires, aiming to slow the spread of a fire that might start in the suburban forest of Thessaloniki. It is the first in a series of actions by the Central Macedonia Region for fire protection in Sheikh Sou,” said Central Macedonia governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas.

According to the deputy governor, Voula Patoulidou, more planting will follow on the next stretch of the road up to the Triandria junction, as all these points were suggested by the fire brigade as being most at risk for a fire starting.

Eight Persons Arrested for Clashes at Athens Olympic Stadium

ATHENS – Eight individuals have been arrested for their involvement in serious clashes that broke out during the Panathinaikos-Olympiacos football match at the Athens Olympic Stadium (OAKA) on Sunday evening, for the Greek Superleague.

The match was interrupted at the 70th minute when the score was 0-1.

The authorities have a video of the violent incidents, in which the faces of the attackers are visible.

With the new sports law that is in effect, the prosecutor will press charges and impose special restrictions on the individuals arrested (ban on their entry into sport venues), until their case is tried in court. If they violate these restrictions, they risk a prison sentence.