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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stop the EU undemocratic ways of GM corn approval

Most EU citizens don’t want the GM (genetic modified) corn, but the European Commission (EC) and a few bigger states' politicians do, following some bizarre procedure called "comitology" and a German abstention, the EC power is forcing a genetically engineered maize into Europe’s agriculture.

Despite 19 of the EU’s 28 members voted against, the pro-GM Tonio Borg (European Commissioner for Health), claims that under a procedure known as "comitology" http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comitology, the EC shall approve the maize. (The content of this link has completed been changed in a very short time, indicating EC government employees working full-time to alter the contents of wikipedia and don't like people to know what is comitology, initially the link is http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comitology, it explains just the EC committee's strange and undemocratic ways of passing laws, without mentioning maize approval at all, but the initial text has disappeared in no time)

“If there is no negative qualified majority against the proposal then the Commission not may, but shall, adopt the proposal,” said Tonio Borg.  Read http://www.euronews.com/2014/02/11/gmo-corn-from-du-pont-dow-gets-green-light-in-europe/

UK, Spain. Finland, Estonia and Sweden voted in favour, while Belgium, Portugal and the Czech Republic abstained.  But the critical abstention was the big vote carrying Germany.  For some unknown reason, each vote did not carry the same weight, which cleared the way for the approval.

Read more details from http://www.gmeducation.org/government-and-corporations/p217267-will-a-bizarre-vote-finally-let-gmo-maize-into-europe.html

If 19 out of 28 is not a majority, I don't know what is?!

The European Parliament has long had a problem with the lack of transparency of comitology committees, stemming mainly from the fact that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are excluded from the comitology process. A broader concern has been voiced about the public accountability of comitology.  As sites of European governance which produce a vast amount of binding legislation, comitology's opaque mode of operation, unclear membership, and closed debate style has been the subject of criticism from academics for years.

When the majority of EU citizens don't want it, but the greed of those GM corporations is winning each battle, what's the use of going to the poll to vote for our EU parliament members if the EC can find some loopholes and impose regulations against citizens' wish?  Democracy is dead in Europe! 

We need a EU referendum on GM seeds if politicians only bow their heads to GM giants against people's will.

Health is a universal issue, if you are not a citizen of EU (say if you live in my home country, Taiwan), you should still read on because Taiwan often bases its regulations and testing standards on US.

The US has the revolving door problem i.e. former GM industry employees taking up FDA (Food and Drug Adm) posts to serve the commercial interests of the GM corporations instead of regulating to safeguard public health.  Click the first red section titled "Monsanto's Government Ties" on opening the link below http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/news.cfm

EU should block its revolving door problem http://www.alter-eu.org/revolving-doors/block-the-revolving-door because too many EU officials were former lobbyists and will work again in lobbying once they finish their terms in the public sector.  Over half of the 209 scientists sitting on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) agency's panels have direct or indirect ties with the industries they are meant to regulate. http://corporateeurope.org/efsa/2013/10/unhappy-meal-european-food-safety-authoritys-independence-problem

Proposal that individual EU country can ban GM crop is just a trap

"A new strategy on GM issues" - a report by the Brussels biotech lobby group EuropaBio (the name sounds like pro-organic but it is actually a pro-GM lobbying firm) concluded that a new approach is needed to break the standstill on GM crops in Europe. This includes an "amended nationalisation proposal" putting as a condition that member states can only apply for a national ban if they have first asked the company to refrain from marketing the GM crop in their country, and if the company has refused.  Read Biotech lobby's fingerprints over new EU proposal to allow national GMO bans http://corporateeurope.org/food-and-agriculture/2014/05/biotech-lobbys-fingerprints-over-new-eu-proposal-allow-national-gmo

Wind, birds, honey bees can carry GM seeds and cross-pollinate with natural seeds, thereby destroying the existing export credential of farmers who grow conventional seeds and always work hard to remove weeds without chemical sprays.  Wind, birds, and bees travel regardless of national borders, so if one country in EU says yes to GM seed, the neighboring country will be contaminated soon despite saying no.  Besides, with the entrance of GM seeds, more pesticide will be sprayed in European farms.

Unless the no-to-GM countries can seek monetary compensation for the contamination of GM seeds and of pesticide into their fields from those countries that say yes-to-GM, otherwise, it will be unfair to the majority of countries that had voted no.

Some US conventional seed farmers have experienced rejects by importing countries because their products have been tested to be GM contaminated, losing their exporting potential, and increasing their costs of pre-exporting analytical tests to ensure products are free from GM contamination, the US conventional farmers are in courts fighting for their rights against the GM industry.  Example, Japan Rejects Import Of U.S. Wheat: Polluted With GMOs http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/05/31/japan-rejects-import-of-u-s-wheat-polluted-with-gmos/ and Organic Farmers vs. Monsanto: Final Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court to Protect Crops from GMO Contamination http://ecowatch.com/2013/12/24/farmers-monsanto-gmo-contamination/
Chronology of the US conventional farmers' wars against Monsanto http://www.osgata.org/osgata-et-al-v-monsanto/

Allowing the initial testing of GM seeds to grow outside of a controlled environment (and all the time in undisclosed secret locations), allowing GM seed patenting - thus enabling GM corporations to control seeds and expand quickly to monopolize the seed markets (replacing conventional seeds with GM seeds leaving US farmers without a choice) while not carrying out independent longer-term studies of health effects of eating GM food, plus purposely disallowing clear food labeling (in favor of GM industry and against consumers' wish) are the biggest mistakes of the US authorities.

Although (most of) Europe does not grow GM corns, Spain does, and many animals are fed with imported GM corns too.  I checked the Corn Flakes box and it is produced in Spain, so I will stop buying it as I don't have confidence that I am feeding my children healthy food.  I also prefer local meat products.

The GM seeds have already contaminated the soil of farmers who grow conventional seeds around the globe (but mostly in US), in US 90% of corns are genetically modified, but recently their corns got sick easily, they started to realize the importance of seed diversity.

"No one is certain why Goss’s wilt has become so rampant in recent years. But many plant pathologists suspect that the biggest factor is the hybrids chosen for genetic modification by major seed companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta."

"My theory is that there were a couple of hybrids planted that were selected because they had extremely high yield potentials," said Dr. Robertson, whose research is financed by Monsanto and the Agriculture Department.

"They also may have been highly susceptible to Goss’s wilt."

Read the entire article Is Lack of Genetic Diversity and Crop Diversity Accelerating a New Epidemic in Corn http://www.seedmatters.org/is-lack-of-genetic-diversity-and-crop-diversity-accelerating-a-new-epidemic-in-corn/

With the US devastated by the recent corn disease, if the EU follows the same path and has the similar problem in future, that will be the beginning of the worldwide shortage of food and animal feed crisis.

Ecological farming is the better way to farm while keeping our environment free from toxic chemicals.  Read one example of eco farming in Vietnam http://www.gmeducation.org/government-and-corporations/p217582-no-gmos-and-no-pesticides:-vietnamese-farmers-use-flowers-to-protect-rice.html

What are the GM corns?

They are corn varieties resistant to glyphosate herbicides and the first variety was commercialized in 1996 by Monsanto, known as MON 810 - Roundup Ready Corn.

Roundup (glyphosate) is a weedkiller sold by Monsanto, by using the Roundup Ready Corn (MON 810), farmers can spray the entire field using Roundup to kill the weed but not the corn.  Since the MON 810 corn is genetically modified to resist Roundup, farmers spray pesticide when weeds come out while the corns adjacent to weeds are "eating" just as much pesticide.  This way, Monsanto has profited from selling both the Roundup weedkiller and the patented GM MON 810 corn seed.

Often the food and drug regulatory authorities approve new products base only on the (misleading) info provided by the GM industry without other independent studies by research groups unrelated to or not sponsored by the GM companies.

An independent study by the Séralini research team found that beyond 90 days of consuming the GM corn, rats have developed tumors.

Unfortunately not just democracy is dead in EU, scientific advancement and academic freedom are hindered by GM industry's greed.

In May 2013, six months after the Séralini study release, Elsevier (note: the publisher for FCT, Food and Chemical Toxicology) announced that it had created a new position, “Associate Editor for Biotechnology.” The person they hired to fill it was Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto employee who in addition was with the Monsanto pro-GMO lobby organization, the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) which develops industry-friendly risk assessment methods for GM foods and chemical food contaminants and inserts them into government regulations.

As one critical scientific website posed the obvious ethical sham of hiring Monsanto people to control GMO publications, “Does Monsanto now effectively decide which papers on biotechnology are published in FCT? And is this part of an attempt by Monsanto and the life science industry to seize control of science?"

Then on November 24, 2013, six months after Goodman took control of GMO issues at the Journal, Dr A. Wallace Hayes, the editor of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology decided to retract the study by the team of Professor Séralini. (threatened to lose his job?)

Read details of Séralini research and retraction of publication controversy http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-toxic-impacts-of-gmo-maize-scientific-journal-bows-to-monsanto-retracts-anti-monsanto-study/5360394

Séralini’s team studied the effect of a Monsanto GMO maize diet on the rats for much longer than Monsanto had in their study submitted to the EU European Food Safety Authority for approval. They did their study for the full two year average life-time instead of just 90 days in the Monsanto study. The long time span proved critical. The first tumors only appeared 4 to 7 months into the study. In industry’s earlier 90-day study on the same GMO maize Monsanto NK603, signs of toxicity were seen, but were dismissed as “not biologically meaningful” by industry and EFSA alike.  More details about the experiment and the corrupted EFSA officials see this http://www.globalresearch.ca/stench-of-eu-corruption-in-monsanto-gmo-whitewash/5316294

Monsanto’s analysis compared unrelated feeding groups, muddying the results. The June 2009 rebuttal explains, "In order to isolate the effect of the GM transformation process from other variables, it is only valid to compare the GMO…with its isogenic non-GM equivalent."

The (Séralini) researchers conclude from all three GMO studies that novel pesticide residues will be present in food and feed and may pose grave health risks to those consuming them. They have called for "an immediate ban on the import and cultivation of these GMOs and strongly recommend additional long-term (up to two years) and multi-generational animal feeding studies on at least three species to provide true scientifically valid data on the acute and chronic toxic effects of GM crops, feed and foods."  Read Three Approved GMOs Linked to Organ Damage by Rady Ananda http://zcomm.org/zmagazine/three-approved-gmos-linked-to-organ-damage-by-rady-ananda/

Not only eating the GM corn may cause health problem, the Roundup weedkiller was a health risk - used in gardens, farms, and parks around the world, Roundup contains an ingredient that can suffocate human cells in a laboratory, researchers say on Jun 23, 2009. Read Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weed-whacking-herbicide-p/

A Canadian study shows GM DNA can cross the placental barrier. They said it would never happen.
http://www.gmeducation.org/briefings/p149281-genetically-modified-dna-found-in-foetal-blood.html

Real scientific research should be one that quest for new knowledge, not one that covers up negative findings to serve the commercial interests of a special group.

The FDA researchers were fired, threatened, or relocated to other jobs when they wanted to do their job right.

The example below is related to the testing of milk safety with cows being injected with artificial hormone:

Veterinarian Richard Burroughs, who had a lead role in the review process, was shocked at how few tests the agency was requiring. Burroughs ordered more tests, but was soon fired. He said, “I was told that I was slowing down the approval process.”  Burroughs says that the science in the studies was well outside the expertise of FDA employees, but officials “suppressed and manipulated data to cover up their own ignorance and incompetence.”  Alexander Apostolou, director of the FDA's Division of Toxicology, says, “Sound scientific procedures for evaluating human food safety of veterinary drugs have been disregarded.” When he expressed his concerns at the agency, he was pressured to leave.”  Chemist Joseph Settepani testified at a public hearing about “a systematic human food-safety breakdown at the Center for Veterinary Medicine.” Prior to his testimony, he was in charge of quality control for veterinary drug approvals. Soon after, he was stripped of his duties as a supervisor and sent to work in a trailer at an experimental farm.

GM industry tried to bribe Canadian researchers into approval

While Monsanto's tactics have been fairly effective in the United States, they have tried equally hard north of the border. In 1998, six Canadian government scientists testified that they were being pressured by superiors to approve rbGH. The six were employed by Health Canada — the Canadian equivalent of the US FDA. Their job was to determine if the milk from treated cows was safe to drink. They didn't think so. In fact, they had compiled a detailed critique of the FDA's evaluation of rbGH, showing that the US approval process was flawed and superficial. However, senior Canadian officials and Monsanto tried to force the Canadians to approve it anyway.

According to the Toronto Globe and Mail (note: The Globe and Mail is a national paper circulated in Canada not just a Toronto local paper), “The scientists' testimony before a Senate committee was like a scene from the conspiratorial television show 'The X-Files.'” They told the senators that government scientists “often feel that their careers are threatened if they stand in the way of a drug they don't believe is safe,” and “managers without scientific experience regularly overrule their decisions.”
Dr. Margaret Haydon said that when she refused to approve rbGH due to her concerns for human health, she was taken off the study. The Ottawa Citizen reported that Haydon “recounted how notes and files critical of scientific data provided by Monsanto were stolen from a locked filing cabinet in her office,” and that she “told of being in a meeting when officials from Monsanto...made an offer of between $1 million and $2 million to the scientists from Health Canada — an offer that she told the senators could only have been interpreted as a bribe.”  Read details from A Short History of Genetically Engineered Bovine Growth Hormone by Jeffrey Smith http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/ViewPage.aspx?pageId=125

What European parliament needs to do without delay is to start an investigation into the corrupted EC officials and to stop the revolving door - enact a law that will effectively prohibit conflict of interest appointments.

And the UN should enact clear food labeling law for world trade, and prohibit seed patenting as it is against the nature.  Besides, GM seeds should not be allowed to contaminate the crops of disadvantaged nations by means of so called "foreign aids" because of disaster or famine, receiving ends should have a choice - advised if the "aids" contain GM crops.

A clear labeling law means for processed food the label should include ingredients' percentage followed by the country code, followed by a GM indicator.  If for a specific ingredient, it has a mixture coming from 2 different countries, immediate following the ingredient percentage, the first country code be written for the major supplier of the ingredient and the second country code followed since it is the secondary supplier, all ingredients must be clearly labeled with a GM indicator.

After all, if the GM food is so great as promoted by the GM industry, why it isn't in the menu at the cafeteria of Monsanto's facility?
Read Monsanto' canteen in UK does not serve GM food
http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/News/greenpeace-philippine-blog/eat-it-up-monsanto/blog/39039/

The GM food should not just stop at the EU border, it should be wiped out from our globe regardless of border.  We should start to revert back to green revolution, repecting the natural ecological system.

Related links:

You must read this: Continuing the Green Revolution:
The corporate assault on the security of the global food supply http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/4/food.html

Who grows what in GM seeds
http://www.genewatch.org/sub-532326
or another good source at the GM approval data base from the organization servicing the interests of the GM corporations http://www.isaaa.org/gmapprovaldatabase/default.asp

Revealed how seed market is controlled by Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow & DuPont http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/625294/revealed_how_seed_market_is_controlled_by_monsanto_syngenta_bayer_dow_dupont.html

The video of the Séralini research team from the left-side of this page http://www.gmeducation.org

Scientists' hidden links to the GM food giants: Disturbing truth behind official report that said UK should forge on with Frankenfoods http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2581387/Scientists-hidden-links-GM-food-giants-Disturbing-truth-official-report-said-UK-forge-Frankenfoods.html

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Taiwan or Thailand

Ταϊβάν ή Ταϊλάνδη

When people ask me where I am from, I answer: Taiwan.  But after listening to my answer, about fifty percent of the time they think I am from Thailand.

It is easily confused by people who do not know their geography well.  The Vancouver edition of the Metro Newspaper had a mistake on a title for a correct news report about the recent military coup in Thailand. This post by Brian Glucroft is very good to point out the above mistake http://www.isidorsfugue.com/2014/05/taiwans-government-not-overthrown-by.html?m=1

For people in doubt about the geographical locations of Taiwan and Thailand, just go to this link and "WAIT" for the map to show you where Thailand is, and then it directs you to show where Taiwan is, it gives you the answer so clearly that you should never make a mistake again http://www.mapcrow.info/Distance_between_Thailand_TH_and_Taiwan_TW.html

Taiwan http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Taiwan is an island (area including the surrounding small islands under its jurisdiction) 36193 / 8336 = 4.34 times the area of Crete http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crete.

By the way, the Greek language does not have a good phonetic translation of "Taiwan", it should have been translated as "Ταϊουάν" instead of "Ταϊβάν".  But it is hard to translate a place name in another language per http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exonym_and_endonym.  Afterall, in Taiwan they call Ελλάδα (Greece) "Σίλα" 希臘 but phonetically it should have been translated "strangely" as ㄝ拉打.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Greek fuel tax policy no gains only losses

Greeks need to stay warm while facing rising fuel costs amid unemployment.

Due to increased fuel costs, Greeks are burning woods to stay warm and this causes air pollution problem in major cities.  The concentration of fine air particles has risen 30 percent since the financial crisis began, leading to potential long-term health effects.

These fine particles, measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter, are especially dangerous because they can lodge deep into the tissue of lungs.
Read Greek Economic Crisis Leads to Air Pollution Crisis http://pressroom.usc.edu/greek-economic-crisis-leads-to-air-pollution-crisis/

The huge increase in demand for firewood has led to a surge of illegal logging.  Also, funds relating to environmental projects are being channeled away from the environment to cover the national debt.

Even some thousand-year-old ancient olive trees are being chopped down to feed fire places, a great loss for Greece's cultural heritage.  Read Protecting Crete's ancient olive trees from being fed to the fire
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite6_1_24/12/2013_533063

IOBE think-tank showing heating oil consumption has dropped by about three-quarters since 2009. In terms of revenues from heating oil tax, the government was more than 200 million Euros behind its target at the end of November.  Read Smog from fireplaces in Greek cities causes political headache http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_23/12/2013_533591

Read Creditors reject 15 pct reduction on heating oil tax http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_11/10/2013_522724

The end results are no gains and only losses summarized below:

1. There are no increased tax revenue from collecting heating oil tax, as a matter of fact, it is a disaster policy according to this analysis.  Read Quick and dirty analysis: Greek heating oil tax
http://www.udel.edu/johnmack/apec406/greek_oil_tax_analysis.html

2. During winter there is severe air pollution in major cities all over Greece causing environmental and health problems.

3. The chopping down of thousand-year-old ancient olive trees is a great loss for Greece's cultural heritage.  In Taiwan old trees are respected and protected as 神木 (literally translated as "God" wood).

If you don't believe that most Greeks cannot afford to pay for the heating oil, just remember that one in two companies are not paying employees in time from this link http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_18/12/2013_532809

This winter I have increased the frequency of food donation delivery to my local church.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mystras Byzantine Ruin

In my opinion, Lakonia is the most interesting area to visit in the whole Peloponissos peninsula. It has, from west to east, Diros cave, Vathia's stone tower houses, Mystra Byzantine ruin (much more north but probably not more east than Vathia), Elafonisos island's thick sandy beach, and Monemvasia's unique rock.

I happened to pass by Sparti Σπάρτη (English spelled as Sparta, 斯巴達 in Chinese) on my way back from Monemvasia, and since Mystras is about 6km west of Sparti, I decided to stop and pay a brief visit.  It was near noon, the climb was sort of tiring because the sun was quite strong and the temperature was very high.  An early morning visit in the summer or paying a visit in a different season will be easier for walking up the footpaths in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  There is no shade along the footpaths, so wearing sunscreen is recommended.  An adult entrance ticket is 5 Euro in 2013.

Here are some photos, to see all the 68 photos, please click this link.





















Monday, September 24, 2012

Photos from the 4th Aegina Half Marathon

ΗΜΙΜΑΡΑΘΩΝΙΟΣ ΑΓΩΝΑΣ ΔΡΟΜΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΑΙΓΙΝΑΣ

I took the photos of the Aegina half marathon race at the church less than 200 meters from the finishing line, it was a hot day without clouds, so it was not an ideal condition for the runners. Congradulations to all the runners who had crossed the finishing line.

I checked the official website, http://www.aeginamarathon.gr/ for the result, but it does not seem to have published the result yet, therefore sorry I cannot match the winners' names with the photos, but the photos are in the order as the runners passed by the church. I may have missed just a few athletes because (s)he may have run by too fast after another one and I was not ready to shoot.

These runners photos may be deleted later by me, say, after 6 months as these are not photos of interests to international readers. There was the Fistiki (Pistachio) Festival at the Aegina town for 3 days and this event combines tourism with atheletic competition, what a great idea!
















To see all the runners photos I took, go to this link.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A summary of this week’s news on Euro currency


The euro crisis has returned to haunt politicians and economists this week with Greece potentially facing bankruptcy, Spain getting closer to a bailout, and Germany risking its top credit rating. 

With prolonged economic weakness and spillover for the currency bloc, Greece will, with 90% chance as predicted by the Citigroup Inc., leave the euro zone in the next 12 to 18 months.  Read the detailed news in this link: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-25/citigroup-sees-90-chance-that-greece-leaves-euro.html

Ifo Institute for Economic Research has estimated that if Greece become insolvent and quits the euro zone, Germany should expect a loss of up to 82 billion euros, while if an insolvent Greece remains within the single currency bloc it would cost Berlin 89 billion euros.  Read the detailed news in this link and pay special attention to the paragraph at the end: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/25/us-germany-economists-euro-idUSBRE86O0FA20120725
So, it follows logically that German politicians will try to steer euro zone policies towards the direction which would minimize its country's loss.
After studying the Ifo report, German Economy Minister Philipp Rösler has drawn his conclusion - Greek exit from the euro had "lost its horrors" - making such a comment during his interview with ARD TV on Sunday. Some senior members in Germany's ruling coalition also agreed with him. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/german-economy-minister-roesler-criticized-for-comments-about-greece-a-846110.html

On Monday, the day after Rösler’s comment, the financial market reacted to the uncertainty of the currency - the euro fell to its lowest level against the dollar in more than 2 years.

The Domino effect of credit ratings

Also on Monday, the Credit ratings agency Moody's slashed its outlook for the creditworthiness of not only Germany, but also of the Netherlands and Luxembourg to "negative" from "stable."

Though Moody's maintained its triple-A ratings for all three countries, it said the increasingly uncertain outlook stemming from the European debt crisis was behind the changes.  Read detailed news from this link. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-press-on-moody-s-cut-to-german-credit-outlook-a-846322.html
A group of economists are calling for a radical restructuring of Europe and the euro zone to prevent a disaster of incalculable proportions.  Read “Economists Warn EU on Threshold of Catastrophe" http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/debt-crisis-economists-warn-of-euro-catastrophe-a-846327.html
NY-based Institute for new economic thinking, INET, on July 23 2012 released a report stating that politicians need to move decisively and timely to save the euro currency or else it could disintegrate.  Read the report “Breaking the deadlock: a path out of the crisis” 
http://ineteconomics.org/sites/inet.civicactions.net/files/INET%20Council%20on%20the%20Euro%20Zone%20Crisis%20-%2023-7-12.pdf

Europe, with many different languages and the unforgettable history of wars among them, although the Eurovision has members extending to Asia, it is skeptical that Europe has a united vision.

Without a political union, the monetary union doesn't seem to work.

By the way, when I visited Germany I was puzzled as to why a kilogram of peach from producers in Imathia Ημαθία were sold cheaper in Munich than in Athens, after transporting farther away? Who is controlling the pricing of fresh produce?

Meanwhile, in Greece people will continue to cope with austerity measures with bartering, euro money has no use here when people have very little income.

Other links:

You may also be interested in this previous post.


Not familiar with the EU organization’s jargons? Here is a quick reference http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3595155.stm

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tourism for scholars and academics 希臘另類旅遊學者為對象


Samos, which I blogged briefly, is one of the chosen destinations of a political tour package to be held in August.  

Political Tours, a UK-based company organizing holiday packages in countries facing political, financial, social and humanitarian upheaval, is organizing its first Greek tour.

The Greek package, which includes stops on the island of Samos, Athens, Perama and Corinth, will take a look at the effects of austerity measures, the role of corruption, issues of immigration, the rise of unemployment and tax evasion, among others.

I think the greatest potential for Samos is to have more organized agricultural tourism combined with marketing of its sweet wine.  I had bought and tasted both Samos' sweet wine and Ontario ice wine, they are different both in taste and in price and I like them both, but Samos sweet wine is more affordable. 

Another educational seminar combined with tourism had just finished - the Olympia Summer Seminars in July - studies of conflict, terrorism, counter terrorism, negotiating peace.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Monastery Paleopanagia near Astros Peloponnisos

Ιερά Μονή Παλαιοπαναγιάς κοντά από το Άστρος


There are many Orthodox monasteries in Greece.  The area that has many monasteries and enjoys autonomous status but allows only men to enter is called Agion Oros aka Mount Athos.

If you are an international tourist looking for a place with religious significance combined with natural landscape beauty, then my suggestion for you is to visit the suspended rocks - Meteora.  As a matter of fact, one of the 007 James Bond movies was filmed in Meteora.

However if you have very limited time, and you happen to be near Nafplio or Mycenae, then you may just want to visit some monastery nearby.  In this case, there are many monasteries in Peloponnisos in the mountain range of Parnonas Πάρνωνας. Parnonas are called by many as the Agion Oros of southern Greece.

The most visited monastery in this region is the Monastery of Malevi or in Greek Ιερά Μονή Παναγίας Μαλεβής, it is between the road from the town of Astros to the village of Agios Petros but close to the latter.  I have visited that monastery a few times, and have taken many pictures but since other people have posted on the internet, I see no urgency to document my photos.

This post is to record the photo images of the Monastery Paleopanagia Ιερά Μονή Παλαιοπαναγιάς about 7km southwest of Astros.  It is not the most visited monastery in the region by Greeks themselves.  I took a brief look on the internet and found just a video about this monastery, but since then there has been significant building improvements and additions to the compound, so I will make a pioneer effort to document the newer look of the monastery.



This is a new landmark on the road to the monastery, after here the road leads solely to the monastery and no where else

zoom in to an icon of mother Mary and infant Christ

the entrance to the monastery's courtyard

front view



nuns always maintain the monastery's garden well

the rear view blocked by the wall

the whole compound from the rear

chestnut trees are just outside the monastery

side view

also found near are the pomegranate trees, in Greek this fruit is called ρόδι

As you can see monasteries are often built in remote mountain areas because the nuns or monks want quietness to approach God by worshiping and praying, the road shown in the picture is an unpaved road, an alternative way to reach the monastery if you have a jeep

this is a small church structure at a lookout point not far from the monastery

Overlooking the town of Astros, whereas the far-away hill to the right is Paralio Astros

To see all the photos for the Monastery Paleopanagia near Astros, go to this link.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ikaria Samos Patmos Kalymnos Greek islands in the east Aegean

Ikaria (also spelled as Icaria)

In the map, Ikaria can be located to the east of Mykonos.  Mykonos is well-known to international tourists, but Ikaria not heard of.

Here is an awesome photo of the lightening display in Ikaria http://epod.usra.edu/blog/2012/02/lightning-display-on-ikaria-island-greece.html

People in Ikaria live longer life, after reading the link http://www.businessinsider.com/ikaria-greece-longevity-secrets-2012-7?op=1 some people made comments saying that this island is like a big retirement home. I disagree with this POV.

Old people in Ikaria live an active life carrying out basic tasks relating to their daily living, unlike those retirement homes in “advanced” western countries – where old people are being fed or served ready meals, and watched by health care professionals.  Certainly there are differences between the two worlds.  Old people take care of themselves here so Geriatrics is not needed in Ikaria.

After the war the Greek government used Ikaria to exile about 13,000 communists from 1945 to 1949, hence the island is also called “Red island” (Κόκκινο νισί).

Deprived of state funding, the Ikarians had relied on the Ikarians in the United States for help in building roads, schools and medical facilities. The quality of life improved gradually after 1960 when the Greek government began to invest in the infrastructure of the island and in the promotion of tourism.

Local panigiri festivals are quite interesting yet not well-known
http://www.island-ikaria.com/nightlife/panagiria.asp

Samos

Samos is the bigger island to the east of Ikaria.

If you plan to visit Ikaria, you should include the adjacent Samos, it is a family-oriented tourism spot with ancient ruins and museums, and there are ferry boats connecting the two islands.

Since I like mathematics, it is worth mentioning that the great mathematician Pythagoras (Πυθαγόρας) was born in Samos 570 BC.  He is credited with the discovery and proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.

Samos has very good sweet wines.

Patmos

Patmos is found to the south in between the island of Ikaria and Samos.

Patmos' theater play "Revelation" will go on live from July 26 to August 3, 2012.
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite4_1_16/07/2012_452347

Kalymnos

Kalymnos is located to the south east of Patmos, but visiting this island is better combined with Kos.

Kalymnos is also known as the “Sponge divers’ island”, traditionally Kalymnian sponge divers used no uniform or equipment and relied only on their abilities to hold breath in the sea.  After mid 80’s sponge industry has declined as there are not much sponges left in the region. You can read a good story of sponge diving here http://www.divingheritage.com/greecekern2.htm

Recent years Kalymnos has become famous for rock climbing festival in September. Just scroll down from this link and watch a video http://www.planetmountain.com/english/News/shownews1.lasso?l=2&keyid=39724

Another interesting link:
Earth science picture of the day, http://epod.usra.edu/blog/ is a great blog to follow.