Trump Says He Answered Written Questions in Mueller Probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday that he has answered written questions from special counsel Robert Mueller but hasn’t yet submitted them.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he answered the questions “very easily” this week about the special counsel’s ongoing probe into 2016 election interference and possible ties between Russia and the president’s campaign.

“You have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions,” said Trump in his latest swipe at the integrity of the probe. “But no, the questions were very routinely answered by me.”

The president did not say when he would turn over the answers to Mueller. The special counsel had signaled a willingness to accept written answers on matters of collusion but Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has said repeatedly that president would not answer Mueller’s questions on possible obstruction of justice.

Trump had huddled with lawyers at the White House this week but made clear: “My lawyers don’t write answers, I write answers.”

President Donald Trump answers a reporters question about the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller during a signing ceremony of the “Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act,” in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The president continued to maintain his innocence while launching a fresh round of attacks on the probe, saying “there should have never been any Mueller investigation” while claiming it was a waste of millions of dollars.

But he denied being “agitated” by the probe despite his outburst of critical tweets the day before.

“The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess,” Trump tweeted Thursday as part of a series of overheated morning posts. The investigators don’t care “how many lives they can ruin,” he wrote.

While the special counsel was publicly quiet in the run-up to last week’s midterm elections, his investigation has suddenly returned to the forefront of Washington conversation and cable news chyrons.

Rumors are reverberating that Mueller may be preparing more indictments and there has been widespread media coverage of two Trump allies — Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi — who say they expect to be charged.

Trump’s flurry of attacks came despite repeated warnings from his aides to refrain from targeting the special counsel.


By JONATHAN LEMIRE and CATHERINE LUCEY , Associated Press

President Donald Trump answers a reporters question about the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller during a signing ceremony of the “Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act,” in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Turkey Warns “Another Option” if Aegean Diplomacy Fails with Greece

Hinting at military action, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said if tensions with Greece over rights in the Aegean Sea aren’t figured out through diplomacy then there is “another option,” without being more explicit.

“Are we going to solve this problem with Greece via diplomacy or are we going to go to court? For us there is another option. If the national assembly and the state considers that option as well, then it will be a unilateral option,” he told Turkish lawmakers, said Kathimerini.

The “option” he referred to apparently was the cause for war which Turkey has said it will activate if Greece extends its territorial waters in the Aegean from 6 to 12 nautical miles as former Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias said it should do in the Ionian off western Greece.

Cavusoglu rejected any suggestion that Turkey forfeited islands to Greece after the crisis over the islet of Imia in 1996 that brought the two countries to the brink of war. “There have been no de facto or legal changes on any island,” he added.

Tensions have been rising between the countries all year, exacerbated by Turkey continuing to send fighter jets to violate Greek airspace and warships past Greek islands, including Imia again, and with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tossing taunts at each other.

International Community of the Holy Sepulchre Luncheon for Patriarch Theophilos in NYC

NEW YORK – The International Community of the Holy Sepulchre (ICoHS) hosted a luncheon for His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem at Gallaghers in Midtown Manhattan on November 15. The event introduced the organization to a select group of community members concerned about the situation in the Holy Land. Among those present, Fr. Alex Karloutsos, John Catsimatidis, John Metaxas and his wife Irene, Zenon Christodoulou and his wife Zacharoulla, and Ambassador Patrick Theros, a frequent contributor to The National Herald who currently represents the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the United States.

Russell Rook of the UK-based Good Faith Partnership welcomed everyone to the event, noting that it’s been a privilege to work for Patriarch Theophilos “and an even greater privilege to get to know him as a man of God, a great human being, and someone who is doing remarkable work.”

Patriarch Theophilos said, “It is a great honor for me to be invited and be amongst you,” and noted that “the churches in the Holy City of Jerusalem are facing the most challenging of times, developments are placing huge burdens on our communities, and as a consequence we are experiencing a level of unease and destruction that is unprecedented in our lifetime.

“For some time, a trend has been developing whereby our religious communities, holy sites, and church cemeteries have been subject to vandalism and desecration, certain national and municipal legislators have threatened our right to deal freely with our properties, and forces far beyond our control have undermined the vital services that we provide to the most vulnerable members of our community, and when we talk about our community, we don’t exclude Muslims and Jews.

His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem spoke about the Holy City at the luncheon. Among those present, Fr. Alex Karloutsos and John Catsimatidis. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

“This last year has been a time of heightened concern for the Christian communities of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, however we are never without hope. For a while, some suggest that we face an existential threat, we in truth know that the Holy Spirit itself, the One who rose Christ from the dead, creates and sustains the Church in Jerusalem and to the very ends of the earth. For all our troubles, the last years have taught us that we have faithful friends throughout the world in our hour of need we have been bolstered and heartened by the support and leadership of so many significant individuals and institutions around the world. They spoke up on our behalf and insisted that the United States recognize and support our Christian community in the Holy Land, this is why we say thank you with all our hearts, but it’s not just mere words, it’s the truth, this thank you is from our hearts. Members of Congress, the U.S. administration, as well as religious and political institutions, advocated on our behalf, we are truly and eternally grateful to them. In the face of these challenges we are grateful to Almighty God that the churches of the Holy Land are joining together, enjoy greater harmony, and share a renewed resolve, more than that we are reaching out to our brothers and sisters around the world as we witness and support the launch of the International Community of the Holy Sepulchre, ICoHS for short.

“ICoHS is an independent organization that will grow a community of Christians around the world, supporting brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. This community will work to strengthen the bones of the historical churches of Jerusalem with individuals and institutions around the world. ICoHS will help to raise awareness about the issues we are facing, enable people of faith to advocate on our behalf, and encourage Christians to discover the roots of their own personal faith through pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Most of all those community will help to ensure that people of all faiths can live well with one another and flourish and thrive together. ICoHS has the support and blessing of the churches of the Holy Land and, of course, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem that I represent, and, of course, I have the mandate of all the churches, gives its blessing and support to this holy, urgent, and necessary work. Jerusalem is the universal symbol of peace. The Holy City of Jerusalem is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious city that the three Abrahamic faiths call home.”

“While small in geography, Jerusalem is the spiritual capital of the world, nobody denies this fact. As our close friends and faithful supporters we hope you will become part of this International Community of the Holy Sepulchre and we look forward to welcoming you to the Holy City in the future. On behalf of the heads of the churches and the Christian community of the Holy Land, and the faithful of our respective communities, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your own determination to preserve and promote the vibrant Christian community in the Holy City. Your friendship, your prayers, and advocacy have become the lifeline to us and while it is a great privilege to join you here in New York City, I hope one day soon we will have the joy to welcome you to the Holy Land and to our beloved, Holy City of Jerusalem so we might walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ together.”

Austin Tiffany, ICoHS Executive Manager, spoke to The National Herald about the organization and its mission. Created to provide practical support for the Christian Community in the Holy Land, ICoHS will unite individuals and institutions and provide powerful and practical ways by which members can contribute to and advocate for the Christian presence in the region. Furthermore, ICoHS will help the Churches raise international awareness of the challenges that Christians face in the Holy Land while promoting peace and the flourishing of all people in the Middle East.

This community will benefit from regular communication, participate in special events, contribute to certain areas, and support specific projects.

ICoHS is a project of the Good Faith Partnership. More information is available online icohs.org and goodfaith.org.uk.

US Energy Official Visits Cyprus, Sees “Great Promise” in Eastern Med

NICOSIA (AP) — The United States sees “great promise” in developing energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, a U.S. state department official said Friday, as ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum began exploratory drilling off Cyprus’ southwestern coast.

Francis Fannon, the Assistant Secretary of State responsible for energy matters, said the U.S. will continue advancing energy development in the region as a priority.

“We view energy as a catalyst for cooperation and economic development to benefit all the people in the region and Cyprus has a meaningful role to that end,” Fannon said after a meeting with Cypriot Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis.

“We’re very excited about developments ongoing in the region and we see great promise.”

Fannon repeated Washington’s support for Cyprus’ own hydrocarbons search, adding that the ethnically divided country’s resource wealth should be shared with all Cypriots equitably as part of a reunification deal.

Turkey strongly objects to exploratory drilling off Cyprus because it claims it infringes its own rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the ethnically split island nation’s natural resources.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Francis Fannon, right, welcomes from Cyprus’ Energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis for a meeting at the Energy ministry in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. F(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

The Cypriot government — which Turkey doesn’t recognize — says drilling is it’s sovereign right and that any potential wealth will be divided fairly after a peace deal is reached.

Fannon was in Cyprus as part of a three-nation visit that includes Israel and Egypt where significant offshore gas deposits that neighbor Cyprus’ own waters have been discovered. In 2011, Texas-based Noble Energy discovered a field off Cyprus that’s estimated to contain 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. Earlier this year, Italian energy company Eni also said it has found a gas field southwest of Cyprus, but hasn’t given an estimate of its size.

Meanwhile, the Cypriot energy ministry said that the drillship Stena-Icemax will drill to a depth of nearly two kilometers (1.2 miles) below the seabed at the Delphyne-1 site off Cyprus where ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum are licensed to drill.

France’s Total is also licensed to carry out exploratory drilling off Cyprus.


By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS , Associated Press

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Francis Fannon, center, arrives at the Energy Ministry for a meeting with Cyprus’ Energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Fannon visited Cyprus as part of a three-country tour in the region as ExxonMobil is ready to start exploratory drilling in waters southwest of Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Greece’s Church Says Priests Should Keep State Jobs

ATHENS (AP) — Greece’s powerful Orthodox Church says it wants priests to remain civil servants, rejecting part of a recent government offer to switch a payroll system for clergymen.

The church’s governing Holy Synod said Friday that it had voted unanimously “to retain the existing payroll status of the clergy and laymen of the Church of Greece.”

Earlier this month, left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called on the church to back a series of government proposed reforms aimed at settling decades-old property disputes and moving priests off the state payroll to a separate publicly-funded structure.

Tsipras later said the move would free up 10,000 new positions in the public sector amid hiring restrictions that remain in place after the country’s international bailouts.

U.S. and Greece Mark Significant Increase in Educational Exchanges

ATHENS – The number of Greek students studying in the U.S. increased 3.3% during the 2017/18 academic year, while the number of U.S. students in Greece increased 21.1% during the 2016/17 academic year, according to U.S. Embassy’s press release.

Greece moved up four places and is now ranked 17th globally for study abroad destinations for U.S. students, with 4,351 U.S. students studying in Greece for the 2016/17 academic year compared to 3,592 the previous year.

Of the 2,395 Greek students in the U.S. on educational exchanges during the 2017/18 academic year, compared with 2,318 the previous year, almost half (1,165) attended graduate programs, 742 students attended undergraduate programs, and the rest attended other, non-degree programs.

“International students studying alongside Americans are a tremendous asset to the United States,” said Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, at the release of the 2018 IIE Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange on November 13, 2018. “We need to develop leaders in all fields who can take on our toughest challenges. We need people who can find solutions that keep us secure and make us more prosperous. We want to send a message that international education makes us stronger as a country.”

About Open Doors

Open Doors is published by the Institute of International Education (IIE), which has conducted an annual statistical survey on international students in the United States since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) since 1972. Open Doors also reports on the number of international scholars at U.S. universities and international students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs. Further details on the Open Doors 2018 surveys and their findings are on the Open Doors website. The full 100+ page report will be available in early 2019 and can be ordered from IIE Books. For more data, infographics and resources visit http://iie.org/opendoors.

Thank You, Paul Alexander

I had arrived early for my appointment.

As I often do, I opened our newspaper’s website on my phone to see what was happening in the world.

I wish I had not.

My eye went to the section where we publish the funerals:

Paul Alexander (Pavlos Alexandrou) from Atsiki, Lemnos.

Paul, a man whom I had not seen for some time but never forgot, because he once helped me, was gone.

Paul, was one of the executives at Olympic Airways in its heyday, during Aristotle Onassis’ time, at Kennedy airport, in the American Airlines building, where the Olympic offices were housed.

Back then, the airplanes were packed with passengers, and often, during the summers, due to overselling of seats – the so-called overbooking – several customers were forced to wait until the next day to travel. Some one had to calm them down.

Paul hired me to work there in the summer months as a Customer Service Agent.

And so I worked there for a few summers and not only was it about making money, but I also made lifelong friends

Paul actually was my father’s friend and a compatriot Lemnian. He thought highly of Paul, he distinguished him.

Interestingly enough, although with a difference of many years – my father in 1999 – they both left this world on the same day…

I remember the well educated Paul walking in the corridors of the airport, smiling, intelligent, helping those he could, especially the elderly. This was Paul.

Later, when the situation at Olympic… changed, Paul worked with his brother Gregory at their well-known, upscale travel agency, Crown Peters, serving expatriates for many years.

In recent years, he lived in Florida.

Thank you, Paul. Let the soil that covers you be light.

Former President of France François Hollande at the SNFCC

On Friday November 16th, 2018, former French President, François Hollande, visited the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) for the second time, following his first visit in September 2016, on the occasion of the Mediterranean EU countries’ Summit that was held in Athens.

On behalf of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), Mr. Hollande was welcomed by Ambassador Vassilis Kaskarelis, Senior Advisor to the BoD and Panos Papoulias, Deputy Group Director of Programs & Strategic Initiatives. During his visit, the former French President was given a guided tour of the complex, including the facilities of the Greek National Opera and the Greek National Library, as well as the Stavros Niarchos Park.

As a civic, cultural, environmental and educational landmark for Athens, but also for Europe as a whole, the SNFCC has become a venue for visiting dignitaries and Heads of States and Governments from Europe and beyond.

The SNFCC’s design, construction and full equipment is the largest single grant of the SNF. In February, 2017, following the completion of the SNFCC’s construction, the SNF delivered the SNFCC as a gift to the Greek State, the legal owner of the project. At the same time, the SNF announced its commitment to continue supporting the SNFCC for the following five years, through grants totaling up to €50 million for the implementation of public programming and for covering SNFCC’s operational costs.

Source: SNF

(Photo by Marilena Katsini)

Gianaris Opposes “Offering Massive Corporate Welfare” to Amazon

NEW YORK (AP) — For more than a year, cities around the country waited in suspense over whether they’d be chosen as Amazon’s second home.

The online retail giant held the promise of 50,000 jobs and the possibility of changing their fortunes. So the 20 finalists dangled tax incentives, showcased their workforce and even signed nondisclosure agreements to keep the process secret — doing whatever it would take to woo the company.

In the end, Amazon decided to go with a safe bet. On Tuesday, it announced that it had picked for its new East Coast headquarters the buzzy New York neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens as well as a suburb of Washington, in Arlington, Virginia.

“Offering massive corporate welfare from scarce public resources to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time of great need in our state is just wrong,” said New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris and New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Democrats who represent the Long Island City area, in a joint statement.

Amazon could have chosen a city looking to be revitalized, like Newark, New Jersey. Instead, it opted to be close to two of the nation’s centers of power. Both are waterfront communities away from overcrowded business districts, giving Amazon space to grow.

The reason Amazon gave: they are best suited to attract the high-skilled workers the company wants. The two sites will each get 25,000 jobs that Amazon said will pay an average of $150,000 a year.

The company will receive more than $2 billion in tax credits and other incentives. New York is forking over more than $1.5 billion, while Virginia and Arlington are offering about a third of that — $573 million. The hope is that Amazon will attract other companies and ultimately boost the local economies. But while many see it as an opportunity, not everyone is sold on the idea.

Amazon, which started as an online bookstore two decades ago, has grown to a behemoth that had nearly $180 billion in revenue last year. It now owns well-known brands, including grocer Whole Foods and online shoe-seller Zappos. It also makes movies and TV shows, runs an advertising business and offers cloud computing services to corporations and government agencies.

The company has more than 610,000 employees worldwide, making it the second largest U.S.-based, publicly-traded employer behind Walmart.

But it was the prospect of 50,000 jobs that led 238 communities across North America to pitch Amazon on why they should be home to the next headquarters.

New York is the nation’s financial and media powerhouse and has been working to attract technology companies. Google already has more than 7,000 workers in the city and, according to media reports, is looking to add 12,000 more in coming years.

Arlington is directly across the Potomac River from Washington. Large government contractors have offices and lobbying operations there. However, many of its 1980s-era office buildings have vacancies after thousands of federal employees moved elsewhere. Being near the nation’s capital could help Amazon with lobbying efforts as the company faces rising scrutiny from politicians.

Amazon said it will spend $5 billion between both locations on construction and other projects.

The new outposts won’t appear overnight. Amazon said hiring at the two headquarters will start next year, but it could take a decade or more to build out its offices.

Its New York location will be in a neighborhood of Queens that sits directly across from midtown Manhattan. Once a bustling factory and freight-moving area, many of Long Island City’s plants and warehouses closed as manufacturing left New York. The empty warehouses drew artists looking for affordable rents and businesses followed. Today, the neighborhood is made up of expensive, high-rise condos, with many more under construction.

Amazon’s Virginia offices will be in a part of Arlington that local politicians and Amazon are calling National Landing, an area around Reagan National Airport that encompasses Crystal City and Potomac Yard. Large parts are made up of vacant ’70s and ’80s-era office buildings. Among other challenges, Crystal City has fought to overcome a reputation for outdated architecture.

Virginia state Sen. Adam Ebbin, a Democrat who represents the area where Amazon’s new headquarters will be located, said that affordable housing may become an issue, but the announcement is a welcome development that will help increase the area’s tax base to help ease overcrowding in schools and address other pressing needs.

“I would say it’s a double-edged sword,” said Margo Williams, who lives in nearby Alexandria, Virginia. She said more workers in the area would increase tax revenues and bring better services for the community, but she worries traffic could get worse and the Metro more crowded.

Amazon said it will refer to the new locations as headquarters, even though with 25,000 jobs each, they would have fewer workers than its Seattle hometown , which houses more than 45,000 employees.

Seattle will remain one of Amazon’s three headquarters, and the company said that senior executives will also be based in the two new locations. It plans to hold company-wide events at the new locations, including shareholder meetings.

There were early signs that Amazon had its sights set on New York and northern Virginia. Among its 20 finalists, the company had selected two locations in the New York metro area and three in the D.C. area. Plus, CEO and founder Jeff Bezos has a home in Washington D.C., and he personally owns The Washington Post newspaper.

While it didn’t win the main prize, Nashville, Tennessee, won’t go empty handed. Amazon said the finalist city will be home to a new Amazon office with 5,000 jobs, focused on customer delivery and supply chain. Those jobs will also be paid an average of $150,000 a year, Amazon said.

“You know, this is a huge win,” said Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. “When we got this news, I think all of us were really, really excited about it.”

___
By JOSEPH PISANI , AP Retail Writer

Alan Suderman in Richmond, Virginia, Matthew Barakat in Arlington County, Virginia, Jonathan Mattise in Nashville, Tennessee, and Karen Matthews in New York contributed to this report.

Greece Says Troika Agrees No 2019 Budget, Pension Cuts Needed

ATHENS – It looks as if Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras will be able to stave off imposing more pension cuts he agreed would begin on Jan. 1, 2019 after the country’s European lenders said Greece doesn’t need to make more budget cuts.

That was based on the government saying it had met and exceed fiscal targets largely by not paying its bills and benefitting from an avalanche of tax hikes Tsipras imposed, reneging on promises to roll them back.

The Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) had mandated the pension cuts but Tsipras kept pushing for a reversal of his own agreement in a bid to restore popularity after plummeting in polls for breaking his word to reject more austerity, instead implementing more.

Eurozone members’ representatives at the Nov. 15 Euro Working Group (ΕWG) provided a tentative approval to the Tsipras government’s request to suspend pre-legislated social security cuts, Greek media reported.

The EWG said Greece will hit a goal of a 3.5 percent primary surplus, which also doesn’t include interest on 326 billion euros ($369.61 billion) in three bailouts, the cost of running cities and towns, state enterprises, social security and some military expenditures.

An official decision will have to wait until Eurozone finance ministers meet in Brussels on Nov. 14 and with the European Commission unveiling its recommendations on member-states’ draft budgets on Nov. 23.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)