I have a hard time understanding the legal basis on which 9/11 Workers at New
York's Ground Zero are entitled to sue New York City or any other American
Institution or Organization for damages
. Since after 9/11, the US Government
declared war on a Foreign Enemy, it would seem reasonable to expect that all
people that have suffered during incidents that were related to that war would
be compensated by reparations that would be drawn based on an international
treaty designed to end the declared war. Therefore, based on international
precedent, assets from Al-Qaeda and supporting countries, like Afghanistan
and Saudi Arabia (and possibly others) should have been sought, based on
international law, after the conclusion of the war to cover costs related to the
deaths and suffering caused by the original attacks.
It sounds dubious, to say the least, that the attacked national entity, that was
not at fault for the attack by any standards whatsoever, is being called to
compensate the victims of the attack. (Maybe Bush and Cheney and Blaire
can answer as to why the conclusion of the war did not impose reparations
to the belligerent entities..instead of shamelessly declaring that they would
have fought that war in the same aimless way again...

It is very sad to realize the extremely poor quality of people employed by the
US military in positions of high responsibility
. The least that such a person
should be aware of is that baseless accusations on military matters for political
gain and political ingratiation may create a dangerous precedent. Obviously,
either Sheehan is unaware of this principle or, possibly, due to his service in
an army that has become increasingly and rapidly more progressive, he has
suffered a dementia out of his sorrow... This is further substantiated by his
(admittedly weak) argument that
since the end of the Cold War, European militaries
had changed
and his conclusion that "there was no longer a need for an active combat

It is very pretentious for Washington to claim that it strongly encourages and
supports a development that it really does not care very much about or, even
worse, maybe subtly discourages. If Washington and the administration really
had wanted something to happen, they would not have behaved like deeply
offended, but powerless poorer relations. They would have forcefully used the
means they possess (and they know they do) to execrise their strong influence
and, in the absence of progress, they would have withdrew completely taking
with them all their resources.

Either Erdogan is naive (which I do not believe to be the case) or Turkey has some
secret agreement with Iran in sharing the obvious technological and military advantages
of a nuclear arsenal
. Such an agreement would balance nuclear power in the region
versus that of Israel. Moreover, if such an agreement did not exist, Turkey would have
been the first country crying foul and backing international efforts and motions to
prevent an unstable and non-secular neighbour from developing a nuclear arsenal.

It is evident that anyone who tries to organize a hoax to fleece Toyota is at the
same time showing utter disregard for the well being of his fellow citizens in a
time of financial distress
. When communities are trying to save resources, using
911, government investigating capacity and the legal system in such a bogus
and inconsiderate way will hopefully backfire and induce the wrath of a public
tired of gimmicks for easy enrichment...

I would not be surprised to the least if some Californians try to take advantage of
the current situation with Toyota's vulnerabilities to try to enrich themselves
. After
all why would someone say "there's no intend at all to sue Toyota" if a law suit was
not at all in their minds when they answered the call?...

I feel compelled to write about a country
I feel compelled to write about a proud country
I feel compelled to write about a democratic country
I feel compelled to write about the only country that makes me proud to be a western democrat
I feel compelled to write about the only country where people are sovereign
I feel compelled to write about Iceland...

Can a government go against the decision of a referendum supported by 93% of the
people in a free and fair election? Is it not unconstitutional for a government to over
write the decision of such a huge popular majority? Where is then that government
drawing its legitimacy to govern from? From England, from the Netherlands or from
the merciless speculations of the capitalists of its failed banking system?

What do football officials define as refereeing? It turns out that they view refereeing
as a human-performed operation that, unavoidably, includes in its definition some
desirable and some, not so desirable, human errors that they consider part of the
. On the other hand, a more rational definition would be that refereeing is the
process that ensures enforcement, in an as accurate and as fair way as possible, of
the written rules of the game. It is my opinion that refusal to employ proven
technology that would help bring applied refereeing as close as possible to its ideal
definition is illogical and will end up alienating football fans from the governing

Gates does not have the moral authority to launch an investigation into the crimes
committed by Blackwater
. In fact, Gates should resign because this firm's damaged
reputation and his previous tenure in an era when this company was a state within
a state creates a huge issue regarding  conflict of interest when he alleges that he can
investigate the criminal behaviour of a company that he himself has appointed to
perform sensitive missions on behalf of the DOD in the recent past...

It is indicative of the fiscal situation that Greece has placed itself into that all
offers to support the Greek Emergency Fund set up by the government to receive
private contributions
are coming by people who have been or are employed by
the public sector and have rather inflated salaries. Even the ex-Minister of Finances,
that has been to an extent responsible for the mess, is offering to contribute
, even
though, as he openly admits, "aspirins" are not going to save us from the deep
hole that he has (in part) dug... Nana Mouskouri is also contributing her EU MP
pension. Although her offer is commentable, it makes you wonder how ironic it is
that a forum whose members are receiving a pension of €25,000/year for having
served for only 5 years is accusing the Greek state for financial excesses...

Romney is walking a dangerous populist path. He does it because it worked
for George W. But it is unfair to a president that has worked very hard to
mend America's image in the world and to make everyone understand and
accept the reality that, although America is militarily the most powerful
nation on earth, it is not the only one nor can it resolve the world's problems
by behaving as such. Romney is failing to appreciate the value and principles
of negotiation and, as a result, is an unfit choice for a presidential candidate.
Hopefully, people will get some realization  of this from the accusations
so carelessly expressed during his book tour...

Associated Press's Peter Enav and Debby Wu are either extremely naive or are
writing an article addressing idiots
. Nuclear related materials are not jeans or
toys; they cannot be lost by mistake or change hands in unlawful ways without
accompanying bribes changing hands accordingly. Moreover, the Chinese are
well-known to impose strict oversight by executing people that go so far as
to even taint toys and other minor products. If they had wanted to prevent
nuclear-related materials from reaching Iran through Chinese involvement,
many heads would have rolled, but notning drastic is being done...

Thailand's Supreme Court has ordered the seize of part of former Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra's family fortune, which was made illegally when he held
the post through corrupt dealings. In other countries, which will not be named,
officials make fortunes out of direct or indirect dealings with state offices and
funds and the courts have never ever recovered even a dime...

I am really upset at Greek politicians, like  Karatzaferis, who, instead of realizing
that Greece is in a very difficult situation indeed because of political, social and
economic problems that are domestic, keep comparing the Greek financial indices
with those of other countries as a means to provide excuses for the Greek troubles
The fact that some countries in the EU have higher public debt or higher deficits
than Greece does not make Greece's position, both of whose indices are very high,
any better. Moreover, as Karatzaferis admits, the real trouble lies with Greece
not being productive. So the real question is: How it is possible for a country with
very little industrial output and almost nonexistent heavy industry to be expected
to share the same currency and common fiscal policies with one of the biggest
exporters on earth, like Germany? And, moreover, how is it possible that all these
high-power and high-profile economists that were in charge of the EU affairs, both
on the Greek and the foreign side, not to have had this question when integration
was under scrutiny? Was this unbridgeable difference not taken into account, or
was it back then understood that when troubles hit, whch would have been almost
unavoidable, given the huge gap, some support and help would be forthcoming
from the strong to the weak?

I just read that Pangalos publicly attacked the caliber of the EU's current political
leaders, saying that those of the 80's, such as Thatcher, Kohl and Mitterand, would
have never permitted the current economic crisis
. He went on to say that today's
quality of leadership in the EU is "very, very poor indeed". It is my opinion that,
George Papandreou should ask Pangalos to resign before the gap between his
speaking and his thinking becomes so large that it creates even bigger than currently
existing problems to the Greek state and the Greek government's credibility. Men
with such poor political capabilities have no place in the political life of a country
with developed institutions. First, how does Pangalos know that the leaders of the
80's would have been able to weather a crisis? Second, how is he able to compare
leaders of the past with current leaders whose legacies are not yet well understood?
Moreover, I would suggest that a person whose own political life and circunstances
are really drowning in s**t does not have the mental or moral authority to pass a
light, severe judgement on leaders whose nations have been faring consistently
better than his own. Finally. Pangalos should not risk a judgement, being himself
a member of a government that, even though well-intentioned, may fail to stand
at the level required under current Greek predicaments. Taking all these issues into
consideration, a smart person, unlike Pangalos, should do better to think first and
speak last.

ΠΑΣΟΚ και ΝΔ, δε μας ενδιαφέρουν οι αλληλοκατηγορίες σας. Δε μας ενδιαφέρει
και δε θα μας βοηθήσει σε τίποτα να κλείσουμε κάποιους φυλακή, παρ' όλο που θα
έπρεπε κι αυτό να συμβαίνει σε μία ευνομούμενη πολιτεία... Αυτό που πραγματικά
προέχει είναι να αποκαλυφθούν οι μέθοδοι και οι κακοί πολιτικοί και άλλοι χειρισμοί
που οδήγησαν στον υπερδανισμό και στην απόκριψη των έγκυρων στατιστικών
στοιχείων ώστε να μην ξαναχρισημοποιηθούν στο μέλλον και να αποφεγχθεί
παρόμοιος επαναδιασυρμός της αξιοπρέπειας αυτής της πολύπαθης χώρας...

If that is what it takes, an outrageous insult and a slap in the face, for Western
powers to withdraw support for the Karzai government, now the abominable
dictator has given them what they need
. In the midst of Western troops fighting
a war that is not keenly supported by any of the Western electorates, Karzai in
a move that cries out for us to see how undemocratic and dictatorial his regime
has become, and how deceitful and slimy he is personally, has seized the power
to unilaterally make decisions on outcomes of elections in practice.

Israel "never responds, never confirms and never denies" against allegations of
uncivilized behavior. Israel is a nation that still lives in a political wild wild west,
above and beyond sensitivities of international law, and does not feel it should be
accountable to other nations for upholding basic standards of courtesy. But, at the
same time, Israel is expecting other nations to abide by these standards when they
are dealing with Israeli affairs...

A military analyst for Haaretz, Amir Oren, is calling for the chief of Mossad Meir
Dagan to resign over a clumsily executed assassination of a Hamas military commander
in Dubai
. If Dagan gets axed or officially reprimanded over this operation and, if Israeli
past is any indication of its future conduct of political business, then we will have in our
hands a future defense, foreign or prime minister of the state...

From time to time these ex's with questionable motives appear "selflessly" in the
press to tell us how "their" people should be helped
. Only "their" people's memories
are long and they do not wish to be helped by the offspring in the same way that they
had been helped by the fathers. One plundering of their nation and its resources was
enough; the wealth of Persia and not their advice is what needs to be returned...

I have a really hard time understanding where these guys are coming from amidst
these dismal figures and gloomy predictions for the Greek economy. They have to
understand that this has little to do with the Stability Pact, the common currency
or the EU. This has to do first and foremost with an ailing economy, a country that
is living beyond its means and with the necessity to put one's own house in order.
Enough rhetoric against
plotting dark foreign powers. Let us sober up and face the
dark aspects of our own selves and our own bad habits and make an effort to cope
with them by superimposing the good and noble ones.

Yulia Tymoshenko has had her turn in power and the results have been lackluster
at best. It would be a good sign of personal and political values and leadership to
let someone else have a shot for the sake of the Ukrainian people. Ukraine needs
in general new blood in its political life, something that is not offered by its new
President-elect, but, at least, peaceful and democratic changes in government may
help build some inertia that could encourage in the not too distant future some
well-educated and politically-minded young Ukrainians to participate in politics
and become the leaders that Ukraine so badly needs.

BBC has established a "Have your say" page about the financial crisis in Greece
that is putting pressure on the Euro and bringing into focus the financial health
of the Eurozone as a whole. Bradley from Carlisle, UK, has written "
We owe our
civilisation to Greece. Now in their hour of need, we should be there for them
". Anon from
London, UK, has written "
Yes we should help out Greece, we are all Europeans and should
show some solidarity with the EU
". As a Greek, I find both comments very moving,
but I also think that, viewed from the Greek point of view, reveal some of the
reasons that have led to this predicament in the first place: they reveal a culture
of entitlement and heavy reliance on others that has plagued the Greek political,
social and economic developments in at least the few decades that I have been
alive. If one tries to think about this relative to more familiar terms, it is always
moving and a source of strength, pride and empowerment to have one's family's
moral and financial backing to rely on. Over-reliance and the expectation of
continuous and unconditional support, however, are highly detrimental in
developing independence, self-pride and political and financial self-adequacy
and these are all some of Greece's shortcomings. This is clearly an analogy that
has to also be kept in mind as the EU leaders make their difficult decisions this
month in Brussels

I have been asked what the main reasons might be for the reluctance of defeated
politicians in those nations with lower quality democracies to concede an election.
Although each case is unique and complex and there is ample danger of over
simplification, there seems to be a predominant common factor. When a candidate
does not want to contribute to, but, rather, wants to profit from, the political
process and membership in the government, he/she is much more likely to steer
supporters towards unruly, rebelious and detrimental behavior. Whereas conceding
has the effect of elevating the quality of a democracy, disputing an electoral outcome
is usually more likely to result to a personal fame, gain, profit etc. Both Georgia and
Ukraine have been good examples of nations where, after much turmoil, it turned
out that the "revolutionary" candidates only meant well for themselves and
contributed rather little to the well-being of their countries and people.

It seems that, including the level of industrialization, and excluding financial
woes, which nowadays are equally accentuated almost everywhere, the other
major distinguishing feature between advanced and retarded countries (or in
more familiar terms, industrialized and developing) is the quality of their
democracies. Regardless of how free or how fair an election is, which, on
many occasions, may be a matter of debate, in retarded countries losing an
election has not yet become part of the culture. Iran, Sri Lanka and Ukraine
are but a few examples, where the immaturity of the political process is
manifested in this way. This contrasts astoundingly with the ovewhelming
majority of elections in all industrialized nations, where by the first hours
of the day after the election, the losers graciously admit defeat and the
incumbents graciously offer their congratulations and promise continuity
and support to the new governments. It is my opinion that this, seemingly
simple but, extraordinary difference should provide food for thought to
"statesmen" and "stateswomen" in the developing nations.

I would not repeat Bush's mistake and threaten to go to war over Iran's nuclear
ambitions; after all the west has not done the same with Israel and that has given
Ahmadinejad a righteous legal precedent and has revealed the weakness of the
western arguments. If the west, however, has any leverage for additonal sanctions,
I would impose them sooner rather than later. Iran is not going to come through
with its promises.
Any western diplomat that is hoping is doing so against all odds
and against all rational expectations.

It seems that lately, instead of "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" motto, the
new "What everybody knows about Vegas, no one should utter about Vegas" is
being tried by the Nevada lawmakers against the President
. Excesses and waste are
what have made Vegas notorious and the President is not telling us anything new;
just that people should be cautious and avoid them in the midst of financial crises
and a score of foreclosures and other personal financial problems. It is only that
the Nevada lawmakers are suffering  from a bout of acute ostrichism.

Jacob Zuma, under cover of tradition and culture , is spreading the sperm, the wealth
and, heaven only knows what else

As if two idiots were not enough in a single government, a third one considered
it his responsibility to emerge as a competitor. I am wondering when Benjamin
Netanyahu is going to realize that his choices are tarnishing the image of Israel
and of his government
and that urgent changes in his cabinet are needed.

If Greece is in fact a modern state, with responsible politicians and accountable
public officials, shouldn't there be a public inquiry to investigate the widespread
allegations that the then government cooked the financial books to convince its
European partners to admit it into the common currency?
What good does it do
to the Greek state to have these accusations, some by well reputed public officials,
hover over its credibility, while it is doing nothing to either prove them and hold
all responsible accountable or disprove them and convince everyone else that they
did not occur?

Η Μπακογιάννη μίλησε για "συμβιβασμένους αυλοκόλακες" και για "αμετανόητους
εραστές της παραπολιτικής και της ίντριγκας". Αν αναφερόταν στον εαυτό της και
την οικογένειά της, θα λέγαμε έχει το γνώθι σαυτόν. Αφού. όμως, μάλλον αναφερόταν
σε άλλους, πρέπει να πούμε "είπε ο γάιδαρος τον πετεινό κεφάλα"...

Sri Lankans are going to the polls on Tuesday. Will the elections be free and fair?

Armenia is trying to do what it can, on the one hand, not to betray the memories of
the massacred of the turn of the 20th century, and on the other, to establish solid and
friendly diplomatic relations with Turkey. Turkey should do the same and, also, play
a constructive role in Armenia and Azerbaijan reaching a permanent and viable
solution over Mountainous Karabakh. The Transcaucasus has been ravaged by war
upon war upon war from the birth of civilization there up to the modern times. Now,
it is up to all the modern states in the region to denounce war and to show that the
new millennium ushered in a new homo humanus, interested only in peace, prosperity
and cooperation for the common good. Let us spend our resources working for that;
let us not waste our resources in looking back and destroying even more than the
homo "sapiens" has already done

It is very tiring and politically and morally exhausting listening over and over again
to British politicians talk about "very reluctantly" and "profoundly difficult moral
and political dilemma" etc. etc.,
instead of coming out open and clean and honest
and admitting in a straightforward manner that THEY ERRED, that THEY WERE
PULLED into an improper and unlawful scheme by the worst and least informed
USA president of all time. They wish Britain had known better and I sympathize,
but their ignorance at the time is amplified by their reluctance to admit the plain

It is sad that a country, in which the military has this kind of behavior in the 21st
, which is highly dangerous but tolerated, has aspirations to join "soon"
the European family of states. I suppose, Mustafa Kemal failed to see that, unless
culture and education change drastically enough so as to render these moves
unacceptable, the facade of a westernized country will have to be held together
by artificial and not by natural means.

The same people kill each other because each prays to a different god for the same
Shame on Nigerians, shame on organized religion that tolerates, and even
encourages, conflict on many occasions. Shame on human beings of the 21st century
that have created a globe where, on one side half of the world is rushing to the help
of humanity when natural disasters strike and, on the other, the other half creates
human-caused and sustained disasters on huge scale.

Barack is now paying the price for being hesitant and not bold and liberal enough. The
constituency of the Liberal Lion has voiced its disappointment at his lack of decisiveness
to call on democrats to walk it alone when they could. They cannot anymore and this
is one of the president's deficiencies; him being unable to realize that the Bush years
had presented him with an opportunity for bold unilateral action for the good of this
country and its citizens. Consensus is a virtue but up to a point...

A quarter of a million souls... So hard to comprehend.

Mehmet Ali Agca should not be released into the public. He is unstable, he has already
caused great damage and, by all indications, he will continue causing additional damage.
Even though leniency and forgiveness should lie at the heart of every judicial system,
especially for petty crimes, the release of a serious repeat offender, who is mentally unstable,
should raise concerns about his suitability for return to normal life.

It is not that difficult for two cultured people to hold a friendly and polite conversation
in an atmosphere of mutual respect. It is very unfortunate and deeply disturbing that a
nation that needs skill in its foreign affairs leadership more than any other, has appointed
idiotic bigots in the relevant posts. Israelis should withhold their votes and throw them
out of office in their next elections, if their prime minister is not smart enough to reshuffle.
(By the way, notice the the third picture on the right is the smallest.)

Our President and his predecessors are doing what they can for humanity, and the
"religious", ultra-conservative right shows its lack of humanity...

I understand that journalism needs interesting headlines to sell. But, despite what the
BBC writes
, there are no reasons for celebrating or lamenting or anticipating "shadows",
"rivalries" and "major disagreements". Barack and Ms. Rodham Clinton practically
have in their hands the fortunes of this world in so many respects and they have to face
many major problems that need tackling. And he knows better than anybody else that,
to be successful, one needs to be cooperative, build consensus and work in harmony.
The era of Bush-Cheney, Powel-Ramsfeld chaos and its consequences is over and,
justifiably so, especially when seeing the different attitudes of today, the world feels
that these men did not have the interests of this country or of this globe at the forefront
of their minds.

What the heck is happening here? On the one hand, the Obama administration lends
to the culprit banks billions of dollars to rescue them, sending a clear encouraging message:
Continue being outrageous; usually it pays off and, if it does not, no worries; we'll pass the
cost of your foolishness on to the taxpayers. On the other, Obama gets pissed because the
banks heard his message clearly and they are now going back to their own pre-crisis ways.
So he wants to impose a bank tax on them "not to punish them" but "to stop abuses and
excesses from happening again"
. Does anyone else see a contradiction? Is anyone else as
in awe about Obama not even knowing what he is talking about as I am?

President Obama and Secretary Clinton are mobilizing the US Marines, the US Army
and the US Navy to provide relief and assistance to the survivors of the earthquake in
. I am thinking that, despite the horror and pain inflicted by this disaster, the new
decade is forcing us, in the West, to become again civilized. Our powerful armies and
the technology, training and education that are invested in them should not be used for
conducting wars anymore in the 21st century. They should be used exactly as our
President and Secretary of State are directing them to be, in moments of great stress
and anxiety for humanity to alleviate human suffering. For that, it is worth having
great armies and great leaders and great commanders in chief.

All salaries of employees in the public sector in Greece should be made public. These
data are not personal data. Since the funds are provided by the taxpayers, the taxpayers
have the right to know who gets what and how much. If PASOK and its leader have the
right intentions when it comes to transparency and meritocracy, then this reform should
be among the first that need to be carried out.

Several tens of thousands of people are feared dead in a catastrophic earthquake that
hit Haiti.

It is strange that a deputy foreign minister with such an idiotic and undiplomatic
personality is keeping his post
. This reflects
very badly not only on the credentials
of the government, the prime minister and the foreign minister, but also on a
nation, which historically, instead of punishing and demoting for questionable
behavior, has been rewarding and promoting abrasiveness and negligence...

It is a pity that the Healthcare Reform Bill has become a Health Insurance Restrictions
. No real reforms will be included; only some restrictions so that the health industry
does not arbitrarily deny coverage, does not rip covered people off and does not have,
in general, as its sole purpose business enrichment.

That is exactly what is sickening in many of our democracies. A president is accused
of overturning the wishes of the parliament and causing a referendum for a decision
on an issue.
I thought that the only legitimacy that a parliament has comes from it
representing the people. A fortiori, then, a direct decision by the people on any issue
should be exemplary and praise-worthy; not a matter of condemnation. This is NOT
a coup by a monarchy or an oligarchy; this is a constitutional decision that returns
power to the majority. Democracy is not something to be applauded only if it leads
to decisions we approve. Democracy is something to be applauded at all times because
it empowers people to decide for their own futures, for better or for worse.
BRAVO to Iceland's
A tough decision but always the right one to make.

I wish EU parliaments
had done the same with the Lisbon Treaty...

Japan's prime minister Yukio Hatoyama is forced to replace, due to health related
issues, finance minister Hirohisa Fujii by Naoto Kan.

A doctor wanting to continue practicing medicine is not a sufficient criterion for
him being allowed to continue practicing medicine
in a civilized country, where
voodoo medicine is not allowed and reasonable safety standards and safeguards
are supposed to be enforced...

Anyone that has been deeply disappointed and outraged by Blair's policies and
decisions in the middle east should read this summary of John Majors' interview
with BBC's Radio 4's Today program
. He puts forward very eloquently many of
the main arguments for Blair's idiocy and inadequacy, that many other less versed
people have been doing less skillfully.

Unfortunately, the new year starts with negative news. The US, which is proclaiming
itself to be the cradle of democracy and the avid supporter of transparency, has been
employing paramilitary units that have complete immunity against all crimes in its
conduct of war in Iraq. I am surprised I have to write this, but Blackwater and the
Obama administration tolerance towards these criminals fills me with shame when I
ponder over changes that should have come but never materialized
. Try and jail at
last these horrible domestic criminals that were made to believe that they could be
above the law during the Bush years.