Love in Portofino

 

 

How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Sir Clough Williams Ellis said when he built Portmeiron, Italianate village, in Wales,UK , inspired by Portofino’s beauty. Portofino, as the name indicates in Italian language,  is more than  a fine port of the Italian region of Liguria, its beauty is stunning!

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Driving down from the mountains of Liguria towards its coast someone needs to have real guts because the roads are very narrow with lots of turns and  twists. The picture above is  the only one I managed to take by succeeding for a moment to overcome my horror!img_1686

The same happened along the coast from Rapalo to Portofino, narrow twisted road populated with uncountable number of vespas! Along this road there were the most amazing  Italianate villas perched on the cliffs.  img_1712

The port itself is a tourist resort mainly for rich Americans arriving with their super yachts. Somehow I felt that the talented Mr. Ripley will make his appearance through the crowd.

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Portofino is beauty by itself but I had the same feeling as in Venice :  the buildings are going to collapse from moment to moment. The recession in Italy is going from strength to strength, for long time now, without showing any sign of recovery.  For that reason, it is worth  visiting  this part of  the Italian Riviera in the near future!

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Greece is the all-weather scapegoat of EU: A never ending humilation

Today EU threatens Greece over border controls! As a draft report of the European Commission says:  Greece has “seriously neglected” its obligations to control the external frontier of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone.

Some days ago at the ‘Annual Team Building’ of the Elite  at Davos, the Chief Accountant of the EU, Mr. Schauble  with his linguistic games referred to the democratic elected PM of Greece as an idiot!

As anyone can understand, Greece’s humiliation has no limits! Of course, this humiliation is reinforced by the strong opposition inside the country from the partisans of the left/ right wing and  ala Greek style neo-liberals(an interesting amalgamation of right wing people).

One thing is the common truth and the curse for the Greeks, they are not able to see themselves as an entity and being accompanied by their notorious low self esteem they are blaming each other (an ongoing attitude) for any governmental action.

The above combination is an easy target for the failed leaders of Europe and their politics.

Last year Angela Merkel, as formidable Hegemon of Europe -in terms of financial power only- announced without taking consideration the rest of the European countries  and mainly the countries that are the  entrance of the refugees-such Greece, which at the moment is an impoverished country- the acceptance of the Syrian refugees. Consequently, quite a few Europeans (Poland, Czech republic, Denmark, few German states, Britain) either closed their borders or started seizing the valuables of the Refugees (Denmark, some states of Germany…).

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It was a matter of serendipity by seeing the above two artefacts at the Victoria Gallery in Bath the other day and so ironic at the same time. The two figures represent Europe and Asia. Europe as an emancipated intellectual woman proud of the great achievement of the Enlightenment being accompanied by Asia, who is holding her ‘valuables for better or for worse’!

At the beginning of the 21st Century Europe’s leaders are trying to set aside their responsibilities by finding their all times scapegoat, Greece! The values of the Enlightenment have been replaced by the motto ‘show me the money’ for better or for worse.

 

 

 

 

 

Deauville in the movies

Belle Epoque and Deauville are two words chained together.  Someone who visits Deauville can feel strongly the joie de vivre of this era. The magnificent architecture of the houses, the well maintained  Promenade des Planches for big walks along the beach and the fact that the beach closets named after the Hollywood stars – a landmark for recognising the place as the setting for the film “Un Homme and Une Femme” by Claude Lelouch – show the prosperity of the place and the reason why the creative people used it as a setting of their work. For quite a long time, I had a very vivid memory of Jean Louis Trintignant’s racing car speeding on a huge sandy beach, somewhere in France, and meeting up with Anouk Aimee. That time, I was quite young and didn’t question about the name of the place,  only later in life  when I saw  “Private Lives” by Noel Coward in the theatre, I kept in my mind the name.  Deauville was the resort for the  international bourgeoisie of that time and it was connected to major European cities with fast trains. It was really well maintained place for  leisure and the   two main casinos in the area  kept entertaining the bourgeoisie. The Casino in Deauville was the original Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. Deauville was the setting of the film “Coco before Chanel” with Audrey Tatou and the birthplace of Chanel’s Clothing career. As well as, the town has been mentioned in one of the chapters of  Proust’s in Search of Lost Time.

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Le Promenade des Planches: The beach closets dedicated to the stars of Hollywood.

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Deauville Corniche.

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Deauville’s Townhall.

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Deauville beach.

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Casino Royale, Deauville

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Mansions along the beach of Trouville.IMG_4962

 

 

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A library at the Plage of Deauville.

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Shopping  in Trouville is a totally different experience from Deauville.

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A view of Trouville from the boat.

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Deauville has kept its international profile by hosting the American Film Festival and each year troops of celebrities come to visit the resort. Perhaps, Deauville’s  aura is due to the myth and exclusivity that stills offers to its residents.

For cinephiles and bookworms places like Deauville are a bonus for reviving our imagination even further. Somehow, it works as historical archaeological sites of the modern times!

Greek Crisis in the European Parliament at last! Repatriation of Democracy

At the moment the European Parliament debates the Greek crisis

where it has to be from the beginning and not behind closed doors.

The debate is taking place among the European leaders elected

democratically by their own people and not by Banks CEOs.

Some of the speeches of the parliamentarians so far.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council,

“Our inability to find agreements may lead to the bankruptcy of Greece and the insolvency of its banking system.

“I have no doubt that this will affect Europe, also in a geopolitical sense.”

“As Plutarch once said: “to find fault is easy, to do better may be difficult”… let us prove him wrong.”

Alexis Tsipras, Greek Prime Minister

“This is not exclusively a Greek problem, this is a European problem and European problems require European solutions”

“I’m not one of those politicians who claim that foreigners are to blame for all of Greece‘s woes.”

“Our proposals for financing our obligations & restructuring our debt will not burden European taxpayers.”

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament

He outlines his plans for reforms.

  1. End the clientelist system in Greek politics i.e. party cronyism and rewarding loyalists with jobs.
  2. Downsize the public sector.
  3. End privileges – privileges of the military, the orthodox Church, the Greek islands and the political parties.

Almost right! Shame he didn’t take part in the Troika’s reforms which the word “reforms” was translated as a pipeline which sucked money from Greece (the Greek loans) back into the Banks!

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Greece and the Propaganda of Fear

Greek crisis is  at its worst at this moment that I’m writing this post. Last Friday Tsipras rejected the disastrous offer of the eurogroup and  later that day announced a referendum of NAI/yes, OXI/no in order the Greek 2000people to decide by themselves if they want or not the austerity measures of the eurozone. The latter question is exactly what must be answered by the Greek people on the Referendum on July 5th. Manolis Drettakis, politician and  professor of economics, explains the issue of the referendum and the interference of the creditors-manipulation of the questions and spread the fear – in the internal affairs of Greeks  at his article  at

http://www.efsyn.gr/arthro/pragmatiko-noima-kai-oi-synepeies-toy-nai-i-toy-ohi.

Prof. Drettakis’ article makes obvious the staggering misinformation and manipulation of every Government act throughout this six months of its governance. This astonishing phenomenon of  propaganda doesn’t happen only lately and only from the creditors side but from almost all the MME in Greece which belong to the Greek oligarchs and they are in threat from this new leftist government. This propaganda against the government started days if not months before the election of  Alexis Tsipras’ government. The first day of Tsipras’ election, I remember, there were websites belonging to mass media Oligarchs portraying Tsipras as a traitor of Greece? He was never part of any corrupted government in the past – the main cause of today’s disaster. The same vicious war is against  the finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. I assumed their only fault was that they were fresh people in the government, not corrupted and they were trying to dismantle the old ruling class and the corruption which has  penetrated  every level of the Greek ruling class/elite.

The Referendum is looming on July 5th and Greece is in default as was announced by the IMF which didn’t extent the days by providing liquidity to the Greek Banks in order the Greek people exercise their democratic rights without fear. Now they were pushed against the wall, they are frightened of not having any money-only 60 euros per card/day is permitted. Tsipras encourages them to vote ΟΧΙ/NO and argues that with NO he will be able  renegotiate the austerity measures and to ask the haircut of the debt which isn’t viable something that IMF accepted with a letter ( see :  http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/02/imf-greece-needs-extra-50bn-euros ) yesterday.

The atmosphere in Greece is far from normal. There is Dihasmos/Division among Greek people and a lot of animosity among them. The NOs and YEs are half and half as the polls are predicting so far.

My thoughts are every minute with them and hoping for the best resolution. I know that the Greeks are resilient and great fighters and they will survive as they always do throughout the centuries.

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P.S. : There is a lot of support for the Greek people at the moment –

– A British man, Thom Feeney launches crowdunding campaign to pay Greece debts at  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/30/briton-crowdfunding-campaign-greece-debt-thom-feeney.

– A lot famous academics such as Prof Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty as I had mentioned in my previous post at : https://pinelopi.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/a-plea-for-sanity-greece.

A lot of American-Greeks such as  Nia Vardalos,  Arianna Huffington and more to come support the Greek people.

Nia Vardalos was sharing a letter by the Greek government at

http://wire.novaramedia.com/2015/06/in-defence-of-greece-6-myths-busted/

Arianna Huffington posts on her timeline the following photo which  is worth a 1000 words

German Debt Agreement of 1953, when creditors, including Greece, forgave much of German debt.

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A Plea For Sanity : Greece

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Honoré Daumier’ caricature of the king as Gargantua.

Yesterday, 26 economists with established world credentials signed the following letter and sent it to Financial Times. It is mainly about this very frail concept of our times called Democracy in Europe.

“We believe it is important to distinguish austerity from reforms; to condemn austerity does not entail being anti-reform.” Six months on, we are dismayed that austerity is undermining Syriza’s key reforms, on which EU leaders should surely have been collaborating with the Greek government: most notably to overcome tax evasion and corruption. Austerity drastically reduces revenue from tax reform, and restricts the space for change to make public administration accountable and socially efficient. And the constant concessions required by the government mean that Syriza is in danger of losing political support and thus its ability to carry out a reform programme that will bring Greece out of the crisis. It is wrong to ask Greece to commit itself to an old programme that has demonstrably failed, been rejected by Greek voters, and which large numbers of economists (including ourselves) believe was misguided from the start.
Clearly a revised, longer-term agreement with the creditor institutions is necessary: otherwise default is inevitable, imposing great risks on the economies of Europe and the world, and even for the European project that the eurozone was supposed to strengthen.
Syriza is the only hope for legitimacy in Greece. Failure to reach a compromise would undermine democracy in and result in much more radical and dysfunctional challenges, fundamentally hostile to the EU.
Consider, on the other hand, a rapid move to a positive programme for recovery in Greece (and in the EU as a whole), using the massive financial strength of the Eurozone to promote investment, rescuing young Europeans from mass unemployment with measures that would increase employment today and growth in the future. This could both transform the economic performance of the EU and make it once more a source of pride for European citizens.
How Greece is treated will send a message to all its eurozone partners. Like the Marshall plan, let it be one of hope not despair.
1.Prof Joseph Stiglitz
Columbia University; Nobel Prize winner of Economics
2.Prof Thomas Piketty
Paris School of Economics
3.Massimo D’Alema
Former prime minister of Italy; president of FEPS (Foundation of European Progressive Studies)
4.Prof Stephany Griffith-Jones
IPD Columbia University
5.Prof Mary Kaldor
London School of Economics
6.Hilary Wainwright
Transnational Institute, Amsterdam
7.Prof Marcus Miller
Warwick University
8.Prof John Grahl
Middlesex University, London
9.Michael Burke
Economists Against Austerity
10.Prof Panicos Demetriadis
University of Leicester
11.Prof Trevor Evans
Berlin School of Economics and Law
12.Prof Jamie Galbraith
Dept of Government, University of Texas
13.Prof Gustav A Horn
Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK)
14.Prof Andras Inotai
Emeritus and former Director, Institute for World Economics, Budapest
15.Sir Richard Jolly
Honorary Professor, IDS, Sussex University
16.Prof Inge Kaul
Adjunct professor, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin
17.Neil MacKinnon
VTB Capital
18.Prof Jacques Mazier
University of Paris
19.Dr Robin Murray
London School of Economics
20.Prof Jose Antonio Ocampo
Columbia University
21.Prof Dominique Plihon
University of Paris
22.Avinash Persaud
Peterson Institute for International Economics
23.Prof Mario Pianta
University of Urbino
24.Helmut Reisen
Shifting Wealth Consultancy
25.Dr Ernst Stetter
Secretary General, FEPS (Foundation fro European Progressive Studies)
26.Prof Simon Wren-Lewis
Merton College Oxford”

Things are happening for a reason

“Things are happening for a reason”  my auntie Eftalia was saying to soothe us when we were under pain or discomfort due to life’s unlucky circumstances. Until she died and she took her secret with her. We never found out what was this bloody reason for our occasional incidences of suffering throughout the years.

This age of austerity brings to my mind the famous auntie’s phrase, there must be a reason for all this suffering and I think, I have unlocked the secret code for the reason of the austerity.

 

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If there weren’t austerity how some anonymous would be able to buy Picasso’s “messy” painting to show off in their private drawing rooms and take immense satisfaction not so much from the view of the picture but from their glimpse in the surprised and envious faces of their visitors, in other words to satisfy his/her “Vanity Unlimited”?

If there weren’t austerity how  London would be able to be a no-no city for the middle class families-let alone the lower middle class- with an average salary?

If there weren’t austerity how could be able the global élite to exist – born rich, bankers, hi-tech internet wizard kids et al. – meet up all together at the exclusive resorts of Switzerland   and discuss about the hazards of the increasing gap between rich and poor either people or countries?

If there weren’t austerity how could be able the bankers to go from strength to strength and support the super power Merkel’s party? It’s what the Greeks say “κράτα με να σε κρατώ ν’ ανεβούμε στο βουνό – holding me tight to climb up to the mountain”.

If there weren’t austerity how then a leftist party would be able to come into power  in the most strangled by the austerity country, Greece? If there weren’t austerity maybe the Left wouldn’t never have the opportunity to reconsider its role and value  in the society and how to serve the needs of the real people. The Left has been haunted by its past, they weren’t able to see through and serve the needs of the ordinary people. It’s in the human soul the need to excel and make something better and yes, we (human beings) are not all the same and for that reason we have to give  a sort of platform to stand to those who are less fortunate in terms of intelligence, resources and cunningness.   It’s a big breakthrough what it’s happening at the moment for the role of the Left and Socialist in the society despite the huge attempt to strangle every effort of the Syriza’s leaders. The party leaders are a kind of traitors for the insiders – the well off, the cowards, the suspicious and scared Greeks – and the outsiders (the well off leaders of Europe).

The Greek Finance Minister with all his faults and weakness  with his comment “I cannot sign something that it will be disastrous for the Greeks” in the latest negotiation with the Eurogroup adds  a moral value in the human relationships and signals the importance of the innate human moral compass.

I cannot agree more with what Antonio Munoz Molina said “I have spent a great deal of my life being part of minorities. Some of the people I admire the most in the world have had the courage to defend, against wind and tide, minority viewpoints in those frightening times when any disagreement with universal conformity is identified as treason.”