Archive March 2017

 - - - - N e w s   S n i p p e t s  March - - - -

'A Europe for the People and by the People' :Watch Alexis Tsipras addressing Transform Europe / Party of the European Left event at the University of Rome: ‘A Europe for the People and by the People’ - LA NOSTRA EUROPA 23 March 2017   VIDEO in English In a letter addressed to EU Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, Alexis Tsipras said we are at a critical moment because these days Greece is on the front line of a battle that concerns all of Europe. We are fighting to restore collective labour agreements in our country, to end the exemption status now and once and for all in the future. But as we move towards the Rome Summit, I assure you that Greece would like to celebrate, together with its partners, this 60 year anniversary and the great common achievements of our peoples. For this reason we intend to support the Rome Declaration, a document which moves in a positive direction. FULL LETTER (in English) GreekNewsAgenda (30-3-17)

Hunting Association Recycling competition : On Sunday, March 12th, hunters took part in an environmentally friendly action of clearing hunting areas of a range of plastics, collecting more than 10,000 caps and plastic bottles, cups etc. At the same time, it was an ongoing contest for members of the Hunting Association of Kalamata, about who scores the most cartridge cases with gift boxes of ten cartridges. At the end of the contest, they gathered more than 25,000 cases, which, upon request of the Association of the Waste Management Department of the Municipality of Kalamata, were sent for recycling.kalamata gr (30-3-17)

Extension of time for Forest Map amendments : Originally the public had 60 days to lodge protests about the new maps. However, in view of the huge outcry about the maps, the Government has approved the Ministry of Environment and Energy's request for an extension to 105 days. tharros  (25-3-17)

The process for the identification of uninsured vehicles will not begin before mid-May,as the Finance Ministry will first try to locate the vehicles with debts from road tax due for the years 2013-16. This emerged from a meeting between the president of the Athens Professional Chamber (EEA), , and the head of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue.  According to 2015 figures, of the 6.4 million registered vehicles, only 5.5 million have been insured. However, registered vehicles also include thousands that are off the road, have been stolen or are missing ekathimerini (25-3-17)

New luxury hotel planned for Kardamili : An increasing number of foreign newspapers and major tourist guides are including Messinia in their publications for European destinations.A further, reason why the general tourist image is favorable for Messinia is the number of luxury hotels which are being developed or are under construction. This includes Stone Village Resort AE company plans to build a five star hotel, with a capacity of 90 beds in the Kardamili area of West Mani. The unit will be constructed in an area of 21 acres. According to the design, the number of new employment positions to be created after the second year of operation is 31. tharros (25-3-17)

How millions in refugee funds were wasted in Greece: For a story of waste and suffering, it’s notable that some of the worst decisions in response to the refugee crisis in Greece were born of good intentions. An archipelago of some 50 small refugee camps was scattered over Greece in preference to concentrating asylum seekers in larger ghettos. As an idea it had merits. In practice it was disastrous. Many of these sites, which are in various states of closure, were clearly unfit for human habitation in the first place. CHART >  An ocean of funds for an archipelago of camps
The relationship between the government and its international partners has been soured by mistrust. And somehow a government that was, on paper at least, the most refugee friendly in Europe has presided over this ekathimerini (20-3-17)

Save the Children finds rising self-harm, depression in Greek camps: Children stuck in Greek migrant camps are cutting themselves, attempting suicide and using drugs to cope with “endless misery,” international charity Save the Children said on March 16th. Save the Children described conditions in overcrowded camps as “degrading” and “detention-like,” forcing asylum-seekers to fight for basic necessities such as blankets, a dry place to sleep, food, warm water and access to healthcare. ekathimerini (20-3-17)

Thousands of empty properties face the prospect of demolition: Hundreds of thousands of properties around Greece are at risk of seeing their value plummet even if the economy returns to steady growth in the coming years. Consequently, these properties may even be put up for demolition, property valuators and market professionals tell Kathimerini. The Hellenic Valuation Institute (ELIE), estimate that the number of empty properties of all forms is close to 500,000 around the country. This is expected to continue hampering the future recovery of the real estate market. Population decline, combined with the significant decline in household incomes, high unemployment, tax hikes, and pension and salary cuts, mean that construction activity is unlikely to recover any time soon, having already shrunk by 95 % since 2007. Prices have declined 42 % on average, in the last nine years. ekathimerini (20-3-17)

New road axis Patras - Pyrgos, (hopes to be!) open before Easter : MAP "...finally, after over a decade, and delays in the construction, people will be able to go to Patras a new way.... " tharros (19-3-17)

Maniots are different - DNA proves it! A recent study by the University of Washington in Seattle, of the DNA from 241 people from across the Peloponnese, most aged 70 to 90 years (the oldest 107 years old), whose grandparents were born between 1860-1880, shows results significantly different from the view of historians. According to the analysis of genetic material, there is a clear distinction between the Peloponnesian and the current Slav population. Instead, the Peloponnese appears to have significantly more common genetic heritage with the French (39-42%), Spaniards (53% to 62%) and Italians (85% to 96%), than with the Slavs ( less than 15%). Therefore, according to the researchers, the Peloponnesians are genetically very different from the Slavic populations and much more similar to the Southern European populations. Also, the new study confirms that genetic Mani and Tsakones differ from other Peloponnesians, and each other. In Deep Mani and South Tsakonia Slavic genetic origin does not exceed 1%, while the Italian is between 14% to 25%. Peloponnesians generally are genetically very close to the Sicilians and Italians. The Slavs are genetically as far from the Peloponnesians, as the populations of the Near East. Tharros (13-3-17)

Cremation in Greece a step closer: Unlike other countries, priests are public servants, like the military, the police, but the Church is still very much against cremation, even though it is legal in Greece. However, all the Greek-speaking Orthodox priests abroad offer the funeral service, knowing that then the deceased will be cremated. And now, Interior Minister Panos Skourletis, recently answering the question from SYRIZA MP Anna Vagena, announced legislation which will allow individuals to have cremation. The decision enables relatives, after the exhumation of the deceased, to incinerate the bones instead of paying every year, for the bones to be kept in ossuaries. tharros Note: for more information see Death & Dying in Greece (10-3-17)

Plan to eliminate fishing subsidies: At a recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, UNEP and FAO proposed a roadmap to eliminate harmful subsidies because there is growing concern that theses subsidies are encouraging overexploitation of fish stocks. In a  video A Man-made Tragedy: The Overexploitation of Fish Stocks, they highlight the global objective of '0 hunger by 2030'. Fish is an invaluable resource for food security, export and income generation. It is key to the livelihoods of millions of people, especially coastal populations. But although close to 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted, many countries spend billions of dollars in subsidies that contribute to overfishing. Removing subsidies is not the only solution, but is a crucial step to stop the tragedy already happening in the seas.(10-3-17)

Extension of state of emergency in Messinia: On March 8th, following the request of the Mayor of Kalamata, the 'state of emergency' declared after heavy rain on 6th & 7th of September 2016 for the Municipality of Kalamata and other regions of Messinia, was extended for another 6 months, as the consequences of the damage caused by the event, have not all been dealt with.This extension is until September 7, 2017. This decision will significantly facilitate the integration of damage restoration projects, caused by the floods of September 7, 2016. kalamata gr (10-3-17)

Americans Might Have to Get a Visa for Europe, as soon as May :The European Union Parliament wants to reinstate visas for Americans traveling into the 28-nation bloc, arguing that the U.S. still requires citizens of five E.U. member nations to apply for an entry visa. Lawmakers passed a non-binding resolution on Thursday (March 2nd) calling for the E.U. Commission to impose visas on U.S. citizens by May, ahead of the summer tourist season. "The vote stems from a transatlantic dispute over the fact that the U.S. currently requires citizens of Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland to obtain visas before visiting." E.U. lawmaker Filiz Hyusmenova said in a statement seen by Deutsche Welle following the vote. The Commission says that it will pursue a diplomatic resolution, which makes it unlikely that they would act on the vote by the May deadline. Furthermore, if the visa requirement was introduced, it would be temporary, the E.U. says. time.com (8-3-17)

Athens International Airport now carbon neutral: Eleftherios Venizelos, was recently certified by the independent carbon management program Airport Carbon Accreditation as being carbon neutral. This makes the airport the 25th certified carbon neutral airport in Europe. Dr Yiannis Paraschis, the CEO of Athens International Airport. said “By achieving carbon neutrality, Athens International Airport continues to tangibly demonstrate its commitment to the fight against climate change. We are proud to be among leading airports,  through our reduced ecological footprint thanks to the environmental awareness and complementary efforts of our colleagues and partners across the airport community. greek reporter (8-3-17)

Fire on Taygetos (photos & video): Shortly before 7 pm Saturday,  Fire fighters managed to bring under partial control a large fire that started at noon. The uncontrolled fire that broke out just before 3pm Saturday, in the region of Alagonia Taygetos, near the Geha camps, continues to burn, and the firefighters are hampered by the wind blowing in the region. Sunday morning about 50 members of the Fire Brigade, and 16 vehicles from Messinia, Arcadia and Laconia are still fighting the fire. Tharros (5-3-17)

Events for the "Maria Callas" year in 2017, 40 years after her death: The Alumni Association of the Music School "Maria Callas" is planning a series of great events throughout the course of the year, while on March 19th, the premiere of the famous documentary ' Our Callas' director Babis Tsokas, will be held in New York. The tour will continue in Chicago, Boston, and Montreal and Toronto in Canada. April will launch the film tour in Greece, where April 22 will be played in Kalamata, and 23 in Athens, and after the tour planned for Europe, is one in Australia and efforts are being made for Russia .. George Iliopoulos will make an educational trip throughout Messinia with the purpose of encouraging children at primary school, to come to the opera, love music and to get to know the great Messinan, Maria Callas Tharros (5-3-17)

Lower prices at Athens Airport hotel: The hotel 'Pantheon' near Athens airport has lowered its prices! Zorbas    (4-3-17)

Kalamata air link with Belgrade: Another city with flight links to Kalamata. AirSerbia will fly from Belgrade to Kalamata from June 15th to September 27th. It was also announced that there will be a meeting with major tour operators in the Serbian market (Odeon World Travel, Filip Travel, Ponte Travel and Eurojet), to support the new flight from Serbia to the Peloponnese. On April 25th Serbs tourist editors (press trip) will travel to the Peloponnese. Tharros (4-3-17)

No toll payment required, if only using the Kalamata ring road : To use only the perimeter road of Kalamata the users are not required to pay a toll, so the perimeter road can be used by citizens free of charge, effectively relieving traffic in the city center. This is emphasized in response to the Ministry of Infrastructure, when the question was tabled in Parliament .  Tharros (1-3-17)

Works to repair storm damage in W Mani

It has been announced that a budget of €223,000, has been approved for W Mani to carry out "Works on damage prevention and recovery from natural disasters". The work will be put out to tender. Interested parties can collect the tender documents for carrying out this work to the Town Hall of West Mani, Kardamili, until the last working day of the competition,  April 24th.

The work on rural and municipal roads of West Mani. In particular, the technical study, provided the following interventions:

- concreting works in different parts of rural and municipal roads of West Mani Municipality with the purpose of prevention, and dealing with the damage caused by natural disasters.
- Alter the level of the pavement in part of the central municipal road in Stoupa village Neochori ,(outside the house of Iannis Rapteas) to allow the draining of rainwater freely. Today rainwater stagnates at this point making the road impassable, after heavy rainfall.

In six months

- Rebuilding and repairing stone wall in the village Source Platsa, which collapsed from the heavy rainfall that hit the West Mani last September. The total execution time of the project has been set at six months from the date of signature of the contract. 

Tharros

Crack down on smoking in Greece

A recent circular from the Ministry of Health reinforces the ban on smoking in public places.

Also the use of tobacco products, new tobacco products, and all types of electronic cigarettes and herbal products, in private and public cars, when travelling with minors under 12 years old, will incur fines of 1,500 for private cars and €3,000 for drivers of public vehicles. In addition, drivers of such vehicles will have their the driver's license removed for a period of one month for each infringement, even if not committed by themselves, but a person on board.

Based on the Circular, unannounced inspections will be launched immediately in all health units, public services, and also in restaurants and cafes .

The circular clearly states that a fine will be imposed not only on the shopkeeper or the head of a unit, but also on the smokers themselves. The specific fines will be based on the law in force in the EU and endorsed by Greece, and will also apply to those who make use of new tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and herbal products for smoking. Tharros

Mani Forest maps protest in Athens

About 1,000 Maniots, from Athens, Gytheio, Areopolis, Stoupa, Kardamili and Kambos held a protest rally, on March 3rd, in Syntagma Square in Athens, demanding the immediate withdrawal of forest maps. Holding banners with slogans such as "Immediate withdrawal forest maps"  and flags with the cross writing "Victory or Death" ', A representative of the 'Mani Protest', and producer of organic products from Stoupa, George Peruzzi, told Agrotypos the following: "We have a problem, because about 80% of the Mani area in 1945 maps appear to be uncultivated rural areas,  and now "indirectly" the state comes  and tells us that our fields have been using forest and it is forbidden to use 'forest' for something else. We are not satisfied with the replies of the government parties. On March 17 we will hold protest in Areopolis and March 23 in Kalamata. Objections will not do, because there is no money. tharros


The next day:-
New legislation and improvements where problems have arisen, were announced by Deputy Environment Minister Socrates Famellos, which included an extension to the time allowed for opposition, and   improvements, in terms of forest maps which will exclude "agricultural polygons", ie areas which are agricultural and forest land.  tharros

Information Summary from PsM ► MARCH ◄ 2017

More Airlines using Kalamata Airport: Passenger numbers are expected to increase again during 2017, and the number of airlines using Kalamata airport and the number of destinations are also increasing. British Airways will fly to London until the end of October, and Easyjet up to October 26th. For a full list of Airlines, destinations, and the period during which flights will be available see KALAMATA AIRPORT

Glass recycling success: Generally, recycling in W Mani is still suffering many setbacks, but glass recycling is a success story. Use of the 'blue bells' for glass recycling, has grown steadily since they were introduced in 2015. In 2016, 42 tons of glass were collected from W Mani, making W Mani one of the most successsful municiaplities in Messinia Recycling matters

Local Health services: The petition to get more staff at the Ag Nikolaos Health Centre has had 259 on line signatures so far (we do not know the number of signatures on paper). Gaia are still very much needed as an alternative 'ambulance service' . Four times during February they provided transport for patients needing to go to hospital and on one occasion, had the added responsibility of carrying a very sick patients without a doctor on board, as there was no other doctor at the health centre. Recently, 18 new rural doctors have been appointed in Regional Health Centres and Clinics of Messinia, but is seems Ag Nikolaos is not getting any of them! Tharros

Gaia video collage: Kostas Xydeas has produced a  video collage of Gaia photos, which gives an impression of the people involved and the many ways Gaia helps our community. For people who have been in Mani for some years, the snaps of the early days of the Gaia Base are a reminder of how much Gaia has achieved since 2005. 

Revised plan for forest maps: The recent publication of draft forest maps, by the Greek Government, caused a huge outcry, as many areas shown as 'forest' are agricultural, and have been for some time. The public has been given a chance to 'correct' the draft maps, but were expected to pay for the privilege! Protests got very heated, and in Stoupa a burning book was thrown at a Forest Service jeep. The angry residents chanted to forest officials about the problems that exist with the forest maps of Mani .snippets10/2. Because of the level of proptest, the Government is trying to ease the situation by excluding some established areas of farmland from the revision process.snippets 26/2

Importance of the new Hellenic Space agency: With the launch this year of the satellite Hellas Sat, trading opportunities will be created which, according to information of the Ministry PSIPTE, will be used by a space policy company, corresponding to European standards. There are plans for research and scientific applications in the field of civil protection, Earth monitoring, fire prevention and fire fighting, illegal building. Minister for Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information Nikos Pappas, noted that it is simply inconceivable that Greece today should lack a space agency. Up to now, Greece has been one of the few European countries that do not have a body to utilize commercial, scientific and research rights, nor the plethora of research and scientific applications and resources available through the European Space Agency snippets 9/2

'4.1 Miles' is a Greek Documentary Nominated for a 2017 Academy Award :This documentary short film by Daphne Matziaraki, is about a coast guard captain on a small Greek island who is suddenly charged with saving thousands of refugees from drowning at sea. ‘When I returned home to Greece last fall to make a film about the refugee crisis, I discovered a situation I had never imagined possible. The turquoise sea that surrounds the beautiful Greek island of Lesbos, just 4.1 miles from the Turkish coast, is these days a deadly gantlet, choked with terrified adults and small children on flimsy, dangerous boats. I had never seen people escaping war before, and neither had the island’s residents. The scene was haunting.’ full article and video in NY times

New archaeological Museum open in Pylos: In the new space, in the Maizonos building of the fortress Niokastro Pylos, the new Museum of Pylos has opened, where unique archaeological exhibits and innovative modes of presentation, supported by digital applications, present the story of Pylia from the earliest Prehistory to Roman times. Educational support material is available suggesting interesting approaches, which can be used by students of Primary and Secondary Education, as well as individual visitors. Opening hours: 8: 00-15: 00 except Mondays snippets17/2

What else new?
Dioskouroi in Kardamyli is now open every day
• We have added the Veliu Brothers (stonemasons & builders) to our JOBS/SERVICES page
• W Mani will be one of the areas supported by the new Community Services mobile unit, to be funded by ESPA. snippets22/2

FOLLOW UP

MIAO/ΦΟΜ Annual General Meeting January 27th 2017 :
As always, MIAO would welcome help both financially and with offers of temporary fostering of animals and long term re-homing .
A few points from their AGM MIAO AGM 2016
• With limited resources,their main focus has to be cats and dogs
 They are getting more cats/kittens dumped, than they can cope with, so they cannot aways help with strays
• They rehomed over 40 dogs during 2016
• All rehomed dogs are vaccinated, wormed and sterilised.
• Regret that although the number rehomed in Greece is increasing, 90% go to Greek based foreigners
• Concern about the continuing opposition amongst some factions of the Greek community, towards the sterilising of cats and dogs
• Agreed that MIAO needs to give more support to members who are fostering
• Members to look for more locations for collecting boxes
• Various ways of linking MIAO fund raising with local events to be investigated


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