Greece Secretary

  • Save the Date, More Events, News, Post-Convention Wrap-Up

    Before we report on this past weekend's Dems Abroad Global Convention, please note a LOT of news:

    CHANGE THE DATE! AND THEN SAVE IT!

    DAGR Independence Day Celebration

    Where: ENOA, Ellinikon coast, Athens

    NEW DATE: SATURDAY, JULY 9

    Time: Doors open 7:30, with fun, food, fireworks and more fun after that!

    The baptism that had already booked the ENOA indoor space demanded they not have to compete with outside noise. We yielded to 'first come, first served' and have now confirmed for the 9th. We can start later and avoid the heat ... and dance after the fireworks! Better late than curtail the revelry! We might even invite the French since we're so close to Bastille Day. :)

     

    POLITICS AT THE BISTROT: How democratic are the Democratic primaries?

    MONDAY, May 23, 7-9 p.m.

    La Place Mignonne, Ethnikis Aminis 4, Thessaloniki

    Debate on US Democratic primaries, premiere of get-out-the-vote campaigns, selection of the best Vote-here signs, mock exit poll, masterclass in social media, and more. Not a DAGR event, but definitely of interest!

    Panel:

    Alec Mally (former US Consul General of Thessaloniki, Democrats Abroad Greece)

    John Koenig, via Skype (Former US Ambassador to Cyprus, Democratic Party delegate, WA)

    Michael Dukakis, via Skype (1988 Democratic Nominee for President, Northeastern University)

    With:

    Dimitris Savvaidis (AddArt),

    George Siakas (University of Macedonia Research Institute)

    Lansie Sylvia, via Skype (Here?s My Chance, Philadelphia)

    THE COFFEE PARTY aka Chapter to meet in Thessaloniki

    THURSDAY, June 9, 7 p.m.

    Macedonia Palace Hotel, Coffee Shop - Thessaloniki

    Thessaloniki Chapter, watch for emails w/details

     

    WORTHY GOAL: No more 'riders' slipped into unrelated bills!

    The North Carolina state legislature has slipped an anti-abortion 'rider' into a Motorcycle Safety bill. Well, yes, riders do show up on motorcycles! The bad news shows up in an excellent article on Reproduction Rights, which our DAGR Women's Caucus is discussing this month. Ask to join the group on Facebook or read the article here.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-war-on-planned-parenthood-20160406?page=2

     

    WORTHIER GOAL: Make Election Day a National Holiday

    In 2014, voter turnout hit a 70-year low. One reason is that Election Day is mid-week, and, with early/weekend voting cut in some states; many people can't afford to take time off to wait in line at the polling booths. By making Election Day a national holiday, every eligible American voter would be able to exercise their right to vote. This is also a proposed plank in the DA Platform draft, and President Obama has just come out in favor. PTP asks for a click in support.

    http://go.turnoutpac.org/page/s/Election-Holiday?source=MS_EM_PET_2016.05.16_B2_Election-Holiday_X__F1_S3_C1__all

    HALC - ELECTION PREFERENCE SURVEY

    If you'd like to let the Hellenic-American Leadership Council know how you stand on current elections, their short survey can be clicked athttp://hellenicleaders.com/WhereDoYouStand

    CONDOLENCES

    To the family and friends of former US Ambassador Monteagle Stearns, who died Saturday at the age of 91. Stearns, who served as the US ambassador to Greece from August 1981 through September 1985, during the premiership of Andreas Papandreou, was credited as being one of the US's most able diplomats in Greece and a true Philhellene. He was known to many members of DAGR and was also the first ambassador under whom former Chair Alec Mally served. Full article is on e-Kathimerini at

    http://www.ekathimerini.com/208681/article/ekathimerini/community/former-us-ambassador-to-greece-stearns-dies

    STATE DEPARTMENT JOBS POSTED

    The DOS Recent Graduates Program (RGP) is accepting applications from graduates of trade and vocational schools, community colleges, universities, and other qualifying educational institutions or programs. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion.

    Position

    Announcement Number

    Human Resources Specialist

    HRSC/ACWA-2016-0016

    Program Analyst

    HRSC/ACWA-2016-0017

    Budget Analyst

    HRSC/ACWA-2016-0018

    IT Specialist

    HRSC/ACWA-2016-0021

     

     

     

    A complete application must be submitted by 11:59PM (EST) on the closing date of the announcement to receive consideration.

    MORE JOBS - International Rescue Committee (IRC)

    Urgently seeking many social workers, translators (Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, Dari speakers are all needed), people with experience working with vulnerable women and children, psychologists and many other positions! Working in Greece to provide essential care and services to the refugees. These are paid jobs; contracts are 3-6 months with possibility of extension. Interested applicants please send CVs and inquires directly to molly.abbott@rescue.org.  All jobs and details are posted here: http://www.skywalker.gr/companyHomepage.aspx?companyID=11689

     

    DEMS ABROAD GLOBAL CONVENTION, Berlin 2016

    Four 8-hour days at the monitor have come and gone. Exhausting! Exhilarating! Very well conducted!

    Congratulations are in order for the international DPCA ExCom, Dems Abroad Germany hosts, and volunteers at every level of the operation. And special kudos are due the IT team that managed the WebEx connection.

    DAGR Chair Karen and Vice Chair Steve, as voting members of DPCA, attended all four days, starting with the Global AGM on Thursday. Also registered as ?electors? (any elected member of ExCom could register), we took part in the EMEA Regional Caucus on Friday, both in Sanders caucus room. (The carefully maintained mask of candidate neutrality has just been whipped off to reveal our true faces.) Treasurer Alec joined the Global AGM as well, but had not signed up as an elector. He also ran our Twitter and FB feeds as elections progressed over the weekend.

    Thursday began with work on the Platform to be discussed on Sunday. The DPCA AGM had required officers and committee reports, quite interesting actually. Then a discussion ensued on whether to have AGMs all in DC, alternating DC and worldwide, etc. Pros and cons on both choices.

    Those of you who've joined our local meetings via WebEx know there's a big screen where files and slides can be shown and, to the right, a video of the main meeting, a list of participants, and a type-chat facility.

    By Friday, we discovered chatting was risky. You had to be very careful not to send a private comment to 'everyone,' to keep the 'everyone' channel open for 'hand up to speak' queues and voice votes. Like this:

    "Aye/No," Send to everyone. Okay!

    "Young guy is sharp. Other one seems full of himself," Send to everyone. Whoops!

    Alec observed the Sanders Global Caucus on Saturday. (A thin veil drops quietly to the floor.) We tried to run Skype at the same time, but couldn't mute WebEx without muting Skype. So, we figured out we could open up Skype on laptops, then swing over to the desk-top screen to chat to 'everyone' or cast votes on delegate candidates. Check delegate hopefuls' bios on the DA Wiki. Post a screen shot to Facebook. Check that young alternate's Twitter feed. Multi-task! Yes!

    Coffee break, 10 minutes: pop yesterday's coffee in the microwave, throw in a load of laundry, wash breakfast dishes, check snail mail in lobby, grab cup, back to desk as the meeting reconvenes. Whew!

    Pledged Delegates are apportioned to the nearly 68-32% spread of the GPP vote. That meant of the 13 pledged delegates, 9 went to Sanders and 4 to Clinton.  EMEA also had more to elect than Americas and Asia-Pacific, as it had had a higher GPP turnout. Finally, each CC got the number (or fraction) of votes proportional to its turnout in its region. Complicated, but an algorithm handled it and we just clicked a radio button.

    Sunday, a few tempers frayed. One IL lawyer took exception to an off-hand reference to 'Chicago politics.' Another, also IL bar, smoothed ruffled feathers. (The DAGR elector from Ohio refrained from noting what neighboring states say about Chicago.) Delegate elections, left-over from Saturday, were finished. Affirmative Action goals were fairly met, 16 of 18 points fulfilled by the Sanders delegates.

    Election of 3 new DNC members (4-year terms) was accomplished. Platform work ran on until the room had to be cleared at 6 p.m. CET, and will be completed by WebEx in the next week.

    Speakers smiled at each other as they argued. The work UNITY was used 87 times (at least).

    The DA Delegation to the Democratic Nation Convention, July 25-28, including elected pledged delegates, new and current DNC members, and the International Chair and Vice Chair, is listed on the DA Wiki at

    http://wiki.democratsabroad.org/display/Berlin2016/DA+National+Convention+Delegation+-+May+2016

    CONVENTION IMPRESSIONS

    Steve: "Highlights for me ...

    1. The passion and earnestness of new, young candidates...new members to Democrats Abroad (perhaps even the DP)...their commitment to getting and staying involved.

    2. The conscientious and professional organization and leadership (of the process) throughout the global meeting.

    3. I came away from the experience feeling that there will be party unity (at least in DA) after the convention and support for our party's nominee. Obviously, strong feelings expressed in both camps...but I did feel that I could trust the representatives we elected (after fighting hard for their positions in Philadelphia) understand that electing a Democrat in November is our top priority. This was important for me, and was an idea that informed my own voting."

    Alec: "As many of you know, I declined to run for Chair in 2015 in part because I saw our party's nominations process as controlled by the DNC, thus the path to the coronation essentially foreordained.  The vitality and determination of the Sanders campaign over the last year has made me rethink many of my earlier views on how our party works and I was amazed to see a number of truly democratic candidate selection mechanisms/practices in action (not 100% but still?) at the Global Convention and the depth of support for Senator Sanders in Democrats Abroad globally.  Now however, the watchword going forward must be “Victory in Unity."

    Karen: "The DA Platform says it all! Progressive, sensible, do-able! Once or twice, someone wanted to remove a plank as it was too visionary, would never pass, etc. The plenary kept it in, to raise the issue and set a goal. There's a high level of expertise among members plus a lot of just well-informed people. Our work will become part of the DNC Platform -- and that's a floor fight you won't want to miss! With the nomination still wide open, everyone's worried about how to keep those bright, committed Sanders millennials on board should Clinton win. Well, the Platform is the key!"

    AND THAT'S THE NAME OF THAT TUNE!

    Winter Lesson Student Performances
    Dora Stratou Greek Dances Theatre, Philapappou

    Sunday, May 22, starts after dark, 9-ish, chair's group about 10:30-ish

    One of the senior 'beyond 3-yr certificate' classes will be performing dances from Avestades, Thrace. As this class is large, the program is double, an aerobic selection including: Tapino, Baidouska, Zonaradiko, Gaitani, Koulouriosto, and Mantilato. Your DAGR Chair will be the old lady about 5th from last in the circle.

    2016 seems to be speeding up, or at least our emails seem to be coming out more frequently. We hope it strikes a balance for you between enough-news and not-too-often.

    Till next time!

    Karen and the ExCom


  • WOMEN’S CAUCUS LAUNCHES FACEBOOK DISCUSSION GROUP

    We had the pleasure to meet many of you during the Global Primary at the Grand Bretagne in early March, and since then, the Women's Caucus has been busy! We have launched a DAGR Women's Caucus Facebook group.


    With our survey results and our new DAGR WC Facebook communication tool in place, we invite you to:

    -  join us in creating a community to explore the issues that concern us;

    -  promote well researched analysis;

    -  contribute to discussion to build a platform for our Women's Caucus.

    Some of you may have already been added to the Facebook group, as we were already connected on Facebook. Others of you we have tried to add through email searches. Everyone is welcome: If you have not received an invitation on Facebook and are an FB user, kindly respond to demsabroadgreece@gmail.com  to request access to the closed FB group and feel free to pass this news on to your DAGR friends.


    We hope that you will join us in our discussion and look forward to hearing from you on Facebook!


  • published Chair's Spring -Break Message in News 2016-05-04 15:55:33 -0400

    Chair's Spring -Break Message

    Every year, at this time, I’m struck by the rush to ‘the holiday break’ and I wonder about those who have to work through the break to help the rest of us enjoy it.

    • gas station attendants, bus drivers, ferry crews, pilots and flight attendants.

    • wait staff and counter help at restaurants and snack bars, porters and maids

    • cinema box office,  24-7 techies at our ISP, telephone operators

    • on-duty doctors, nurses, pharmacists, med techs and ambulance drivers

    • TV crews feeding that strange mix of religious films and Barbie animations

    • students reviewing a ream of notes for end-of-year tests

    • cooks in the kitchen or turning the spit

    Let’s give them all a thought, save them a plate, and maybe leave a little extra in the tip.

    If we’re among the privileged ‘free’ this week, we can catch up on our email, maybe even answer the important ones, reconnect with current events and renew our political savvy.

    The Dems Abroad Platform

    The 5-day Open Comment period has ended, with more than 3,275 entries made by Dems around the world. The final draft will be out on May 8 and then debated and voted on at the DA convention in Berlin (May 12-15). A worthy document, impressive. The section on Issues Affecting Americans Abroad is still up at http://www.democratsabroad.org/2016_draft_platform

    Attend the DPCA Convention

    We’re going to Berlin … via WebEx. And so can you! Chair and Vice Chair cast our votes. All DA members are welcome. Registration is required even for WebEx. Find the registration page here: http://www.democratsabroad.org/2016berlin

    DPCA asks a donation to cover meeting costs, but all Democratic Party meetings are free, so you can register without donating. Or gather a few Dem friends and share the donation. Information is continuously updated on the DA wiki at: http://tinyurl.com/hfshj6n

    Get Ready to Come Together

    Claims to the contrary, the presidential race is still in play. Depending on primaries over the next 1.5 months, it could go right to the wire in Philadelphia (July 25-28). Then, we reunite! Obama said it well this week:

    “… the good news for Democrats is that we know what we believe. … We have two fine Democratic candidates who, no matter their differences, share this same set of core beliefs that defines our party. And in November, we're going to make sure that one of them becomes our next president.”

    Looking forward, DAGR

    Keep an eye on the DA website Greece page or email or Facebook for details.

    • Women’s Caucus takes back Mothers’ Day on May 11.

    • Berlin Convention as above. Form up house parties to join one or more sessions.

    • Tax Seminar looks set for mid-June, just after our June 15 filing deadline.

    • Independence Day (aka FOJ) beach party on Saturday, July 2.

    • DNC Convention, July 25-28, Philadelphia!

    • Fall GOTV starts the 2nd week of September. Sign up now to lend a hand!

    Whether your holiday will be one of religious renewal or secular relaxation, make it the best possible. And come back with batteries charged for the rest of this fascinating election year.

    On to summer!

    Karen Lee, Chair


  • published Last Day to Comment on the DA Platform! in News 2016-04-27 10:42:59 -0400

    Last Day to Comment on the DA Platform!

    The Dems Abroad Platform is an impressive document. In addition to issues of wide interest – US domestic and foreign policy – it addresses those of material consequence to those of us living outside the US.

    On the down side, three obstacles stand in the way of its full passage.

      1. Our platform is melded into the Democratic Party Platform at the Convention and may or may not survive intact. Some planks may be amended or dropped altogether.

      2. The passage of any particular plank into law requires ongoing commitment from our elected officials plus energetic, unrelenting advocacy by DA, often in coalition with stateside interest groups.

      3. To accomplish points 1 and 2, we have to know what the Platform contains and how we will benefit from its passage. This raises the question: Do our members know the Platform? Do most of our ExComs and Chapter leaders know it?

    As one example, below is an account one member sent along regarding a ‘glitch’ in Social Security rules for Americans living abroad. When we checked, we learned there is a plank in the Platform, fairly consistent since 2012 at least, that covers this discrepancy. Who knew?

    The 2016 draft paragraphs in the Social Security, Medicare and Healthcare plank:

    FAVOR replacing the much harsher Foreign Work Test, applicable to Americans abroad, with the Annual Earnings Test, so that all Americans are subjected to the same rules regardless of residence.

    FAVOR examination of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) to establish a remedy that preserves the social security benefits fairly earned by Americans abroad through their working life.

    FAVOR elimination of the provision that now cuts off Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI) for persons who live outside the United States for more than 30 consecutive days.

    FAVOR elimination of the withholding tax on Social Security for Americans abroad.

    FAVOR negotiation and implementation of totalization agreements with all countries that have social security programs and which no such agreement is in place.

    Does this cover what we need? We can comment on it till 5 p.m. EDT (Washington DC time) Wednesday, 27 April. That’s today, midnight in Greece.

    To read the entire proposed Platform, go here:
    http://www.democratsabroad.org/2016_draft_platform

    For the personal account of how the Foreign Work Test rule impacts an eligible pensioner living abroad, read on.

    Foreign Work Test aka “If you win some, you lose some!”

    In 2012, I was entitled to apply for a reduced pension from Greece, the country I have resided in for some years, having married a Greek national and raised children here. A few months before, my husband died, leaving me with debts, amongst other problems one faces with the loss of a partner, and no prospect of a widow's pension. I was told that receiving a US pension meant that it would be calculated on totalization (the collaboration between the two countries) because I needed a few more credits to supplement the required amount and they would be taken from my Greek working credits. That also meant that the final pension would be smaller than expected. The amount I am entitled to is about 155 euros a month (at the time it was $178).

    Before I applied, I had to make an important decision based on a law that seemed unfair. I was in a quandary because I needed an income, and this law would restrict me from finding the work I needed to do to support myself and my son. If I postponed receiving this pension until I turned 66 when it wouldn't matter if I worked, I might not actually find work in today’s Greece which has been undergoing tremendous financial austerity and stress for several years now. People have suffered more than anyone who does not live here would ever know. It's the average person, the lower income person that gets hit the hardest. Pensions, salaries, wages have been cut and the average person cannot easily find work. Many businesses have closed. This is the climate I have been living in.

    The US law in question states that until a person living outside the US turns 66 they are not permitted to work over 45 hours a month. The reason supposedly is that currencies of each country are different. If they do work over, they have to pay the price: for any month that they go over 45 hours they will be penalized by having to pay the benefits back. If they consistently work over 45 hours a month their benefits will be suspended until they are 66. The clincher is that Americans living in the US and receiving a reduced pension are allowed to receive an aggregate of $14,000 a year before benefits are reduced.

    Now at the present time in Greece basic wages are pretty low. People are even working for 2 euros an hour. An average pay, if they are lucky may be 20 euros a day. Everyone has had a cut in pay. Those of us in foreign language education are lucky to be paid 10 euros an hour, which isn't really the case anymore. This law means we could only work about 11 hours a week. That would add up to 45 hours x 10 euros (if we were lucky) which amounts to 450 euros a month....x 12 months = 5,400 euros a year. One can easily see there’s a discrepancy between $5,400 and $14,000 a year (12,000 euros). An amount of 750 euros a month (9000 euros a year) used to be an average salary in Greece but, unfortunately, in many cases that has gone down to 500 a month or less. Even in better times, most foreigners living in Greece would not have made 12,000 euros a year.

    So the dilemma when I applied was whether I should accept the small, but stable amount coming in every month, supplementing it with various reported, non-permanent incomes, not to succeed 45 hours a month (it didn't matter if I was making 500 euros an hour, it just can't surpass the monthly hour limit) or to forgo the pension at that time and try to find more financially rewarding work, which is quite difficult and uncertain now, particularly because of my age. It is a very discouraging situation for foreigners living in Greece. At least the $150 pension was a constant and there was the hope that something else would come in.

    There is seasonal work I do twice a year; the hours are never the same and it only lasts a month each time. I depend on this money. With the 45-hour limit, this income will be penalized. 

    I was sent an initial report to fill out to see if I work 45 hours or less. I reported that I did and explained the situation. I failed to send the second, more in depth report they asked for, due to waiting for supplementary information from the seasonal employer, and also delayed it due to some serious circumstances in my environment. Just as I was writing to SSA, they informed me that my benefits would be cut because “you are working over 45 hours a week.” This, of course, is not the case. I have time to appeal, which I most certainly will do.

    However, at this time I am writing to Democrats Abroad to inform them that this is a law, seriously unjust for all Americans living abroad and one that should be changed. Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.

    ~ Name withheld by request


  • Tax Day in the US is Today … Outside the US, a Two-Month Extension

    April 15 is Tax Day in the US … the filing deadline for most US taxpayers. Those who don’t file today are likely businesses and other entities that operate on a fiscal year basis, rather than a calendar year.

    And then there are the canny old farmers, who never owe tax because they show a loss, year after year, due to depreciating (possibly rusting) farm equipment. Penalties and interest are mainly based on taxes owed; if you don’t owe and so don’t file … that pile of receipts on the dining table can turn into a regular ‘garbology’ dig.

    For Americans living abroad, however, the rules are a little different. If our income is from a foreign source, we usually file our host country taxes first and then carry the totals to our US return. For this reason, the filing deadline for taxpayers living outside the US is automatically extended to June 15. This allows time for the local filing deadlines, followed by the US one.  Note that you may have state income tax returns which don’t grant the automatic Federal extension, so be careful to check this.

    Americans with higher incomes, businesses abroad, or those with just slightly more complicated financial holdings usually retain an accountant or hire one for the tax reporting task. Likewise, those whose grasp of the host country’s legal language is light may benefit from professional help. It certainly relieves the anxiety inherent in second-guessing the correct transfer of figures from one country’s return to the US 1040.

    Adding to the anxiety is the notoriety gained in recent years by the FATCA and FBAR reporting requirements. The penalties for non-reporting can be stiff and ‘retro-active’ for those who return to the US after a long absence and years of non-reporting. Herein lies a special ‘hidden trap’ for those children of Americans who grow up abroad with US citizenship they’ve barely recognized and never used. In times, like the present, when host-country economies may be sagging, many look to the US as an alternative work place. Once in the US, they may find a surprise, in the form of those accumulated penalties from years of FATCA/FBAR non-compliance.

    The reporting rules hit different taxpayers in different ways. At the high end, it may mean either paying extra taxes or paying a professional to help avoid extra taxes. At the low end, for those marginally employed or receiving pensions, meager incomes may be further stressed by the need to pay an accountant. A number of organizations have taken up opposition. Some, such as Republicans Overseas, favor abolishing FATCA. Democrats generally see the ‘anti-money-laundering’ goals as important but seek less harsh treatment for taxpayers. And non-partisan groups such as American Citizens Abroad, encompass both views. Still, some Americans, in particular those with no plans to return to the US, have renounced their citizenship over the matter. With its tradition of being ‘the one passport everybody wants,’ the surrender of US passports has produced screaming headlines in the financial press back home.

    Democrats Abroad formed up a FATCA Task Force several years ago to seek solutions to the tax reporting difficulties. DA’s basic suggestion is ‘same country, safe harbor.’ If adopted as an IRS rule, this would allow those who live, earn and bank in just one foreign country and who owe no US tax above what they pay in the host country to file a simple statement with the IRS that they owe no US tax. Remember that in many countries income tax levels and tax brackets can be substantially higher than in ours.  In support of SCSH, lawmakers are being asked to sign on to a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and further solicited by door-knock campaigns whenever DA delegations are in DC.

    The next phase, encoded in the DA Platform and carried forward by the DA RBT Task Force, is Residence Based Taxation. The US is one of a tiny handful of countries that base tax obligations on citizenship rather than country of residence and that  chase delinquent citizens around the globe. Enacting RBT would require legislation. Because this is almost a matter of political philosophy in the US Congress and Treasury Department,  this is much more than a simple rule change and will take more time. In the meantime, US taxpayers abroad are faced with compliance, like it or not.

    More changes lie ahead, including one slated for January 2017 that’s expected to complicate relationships with foreign banks beginning this fall. To sort out the tangled mess, DAGR will be sponsoring a Tax Seminar at the end of May. Details TBA after the spring holiday break. It’s aimed at providing information for the self-filers as well as giving direction to those who need more professional help.

    ……………………

    So you want to go it alone, DIY your tax return, OR just learn more by reading the instructions, the US IRS has a full catalogue of the essential materials. And don’t forget that certain taxpayers abroad, mostly in lower income categories, now  have the ability to file their returns electronically.

    To download US Tax forms and publications, visit IRS at:

    https://www.irs.gov/Forms-&-Pubs

    Treasurer and Chair scrambled to put this one together. Enjoy!


  • DAGR Women's Caucus • SUFFRAGETTE MOVIE NIGHT AND SURVEY RESULTS

    Thank you to everyone who came to the film outing to see Suffragette and discuss the latest results of our on-going DAGR WC survey. Everyone enjoyed the film and expressed amazement that the history of the vote in England was so recent and violent! The film also highlighted the consequences women suffered for participating in the movement, with a story line that highlighted the lack of parental rights when women were seen to have stepped out of line morally. Fortunately, in the same decade that women's full voting rights came into law in England, women's custodial rights were instated as well. We have indeed come a long way in less than a century, in America as well, but there remains work to be done in order to protect women's improved condition and forge new advancements. Our progress depends on you and we hope that you will join us in our events to discuss, debate, propose and succeed in our efforts!

    Below are a few highlights from the on-going, anonymous survey that we reviewed over drinks and nibbles. There are three clear umbrellas of concern with regard to policy in the U.S.:

    • Woman's Health/Woman's Choice;

    • Employment/Equal Pay for Equal Work/Maternity Leave/Job Security/Equal Opportunity;

    • Education

    The survey also highlighted our expat woman's concerns while abroad.

    • Social Security

    • Taxes/Fbar

    • Language/Education and Integration

     


  • posted about Athens Votes in the Global Presidential Primary! on Facebook 2016-03-07 16:11:00 -0500
    Athens Votes in the Global Presidential Primary!

    Athens Votes in the Global Presidential Primary!

    I VOTED! And You Still Can, Too!

    Democrats in Greece who have not yet cast their ballot in the Global Presidential Primary have until midnight tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 8) to get in on the decision!

    Meanwhile, yesterday’s live Voting Center at the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens saw a steady flow of voters from doors-open at noon until 6 p.m. Among these were nearly 50 new members, joining to take advantage of the same-day voting.

    Unlike some GOP-controlled states back home, Dems Abroad, recognized as a state party committee by the national party, welcomes voter turnout and makes it easy to join and vote.

    Easy as the process is, eligibility and accountability are strictly observed, just as in any precinct in the US. DAGR’s routine, laid out by Voting Center Manager Steve Medeiros in concert with Country Chair Karen Lee, tailored the global DA rules to the layout and flow of the venue in the GB’s mezzanine conference room area. “The buck stops with us,” remarked Lee. “So, that skype session with Steve, that ended at 2 a.m. was worth it. Honing those station instructions before volunteer training on Saturday really paid off in practice.” The Chair and Vice Chair of each Country Committee are the voting members of the DPCA (Democratic Party Committees Abroad).

    Medeiros, Vice Chair of DAGR, noted, “You can read the rules over and over, but when you put them into a working plan for a particular venue, that’s when you digest the logic of the accountability process.”  

    After close, when the ‘vote tellers’ made the preliminary count, sign-ins and new-joins matched every ballot cast! The preliminary count of local ballots did not include the ‘remote’ ballots sent by members outside Athens, and will not be official till worldwide ballots are counted by DA.  Athens results were roughly 57% Sanders, 43% Clinton, with no votes cast for the other two names on the ballot, de la Fuente and O’Malley. The tally was immediately reported by phone to the International Chair, Katie Solon. The signed report was then scanned and emailed to central. Once voting closes on March 8 and all remote ballots sent by post are received, the actual ballots will be sent to DA global. One more physical count will be made of ballots from around the world. Final, official count results will be announced by DA on March 21.

    Remote ballots can be sent in by fax, email scanned attachment, or regular mail. Ballots sent via post office must be postmarked midnight on March 8. Democratic voters can still join DA and download a ballot and instructions at the DA website: http://www.democratsabroad.org/global_presidential_primary?e=e97bc892e2449f446a1c843ce4e3ef5c&utm_source=democratsabroad&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=glb3616lastapam&n=2

    Over 40 member-volunteers covered three shifts, while students from an ACS 10th grade history class helped usher voters. The students witnessed a typical – though possibly more fun than usual – US election site and learned much. They also helped with photos for live tweeting. Other photos were taken by a member volunteer, while video footage was also recorded throughout the day.

    As voters moved through the site, there was ample time for talk about the process, as well as about issues of the day and DAGR plans for the election season. Several new volunteers signed on and the Women’s Caucus netted close to 20 new names for its mailing list.

    A DAGR supporter rented the venue and provided sandwiches for volunteers, while the Grande Bretagne offered coffee and water. “The GB management and staff were superb, start to finish,” said Medeiros. “We can’t thank them enough!  Nor can we begin to thank our volunteers!”

    “Electoral law, party rules, state variations, process and schedules … it’s a lot to take in, let alone be competent to explain to others. But with phone banking just past, and these members helping again with the GPP, we’re getting quite good at it,” Lee added. “That’s the life blood of the organization, though, with members pitching in, gaining knowledge and confidence, moving up into leadership.”

    Volunteers will be recognized at DAGR’s Annual General Meeting, set for Thursday, March 21.

    Check out photos from the Voting Center on Facebook and Twitter.


  • posted about DAGR Women's Caucus - International Woman's Day March 8th on Facebook 2016-03-07 15:33:56 -0500
    DAGR Women's Caucus - International Woman's Day March 8th

  • published GPP Press Release - English and Greek in News 2016-03-05 12:34:31 -0500

    GPP Press Release - English and Greek

    4 March, 2016

    Americans Abroad help select Democratic Presidential candidate

    • Greece is one of more than 40 around the world hosting in-person voting, and globally we are seeing a massive surge of overseas citizen involvement in the campaign

    • U.S. Democrats living in Athens can vote in person for their favorite candidate on Sunday, March 6 at the Global Presidential Primary voting site

    • Americans living elsewhere in Greece can vote now by postal ballot, email or fax

    Demonstrating an unparalleled level of engagement in American politics this year, over 10,000 Americans overseas have already voted in Democrats Abroad’s Global Presidential Primary, with many more ballots to be cast between now and March 8.

    Unlike voters in the United Sates, Americans living abroad will have the opportunity to vote in their primary for another four days at local polling stations, or by emailing, posting or faxing their ballot.   The primary, which kicked off at Midnight on Tuesday, March 1 in Wellington, New Zealand, has been the subject of unprecedented interest by the public and the international media. The final results of the Global Presidential Primary, including delegate allocations, will not be announced until all ballots are counted on March 21.

    Voting centers report large numbers of Americans joining Democrats Abroad at their local voting center, showing proof of identity to volunteers, and casting a ballot.  U.S. Democrats in 111 cities, in 39 countries, will take part in the Global Presidential Primary before it runs its course. A full list of voting sites and times can be found at democratsabroad.org/gpp.

    How we work:  Democrats Abroad, the official arm of the Democratic Party outside the United States, has launched its campaign to help Americans citizens living abroad to nominate the U.S. Democratic Party’s Presidential nominee. (1) Any Democrat living abroad (2) can take part in the Global Presidential Primary by joining Democrats Abroad via its webpage or the dedicated voter registration/ballot request tool, VoteFromAbroad.org. Membership is free.

    There are two opportunities for Americans in Greece to vote in the Global Presidential Primary:

    • On March 6, Democrats living in or near Athens can vote in person at a dedicated Global Presidential Primary voting site. Site details and polling hours have been sent to members.

    • From now until March 8, Democrats who are unable to attend a voting site can vote remotely via postal ballot, email attachment or fax. Details at www.democratsabroad.org. (3)

    After March 8, the votes of Democrats living in over 190 countries worldwide will be counted. Any candidate receiving 15% or more of the primary votes cast will be awarded delegates in proportion to their support in the Global Presidential Primary.

    Democrats Abroad will have 17 delegate votes at the Democratic Convention, held in Philadelphia on July 25-28, 2016. (4)

    Democrats Abroad Greece (DAGR) Vice Chair and Voting Center Manager Steve Medeiros noted that a huge amount of work has gone into preparations. “This is a serious election, with all the legal safeguards we have stateside. But it’s also a chance for Democrats to meet up, something that’s sometimes difficult in a city as big as Athens. We’re really looking forward to Sunday.”

    DAGR Chair Karen Lee added, “Because Americans abroad hail from all 50 states, we usually vote for those who will represent our home states. But once every four years, the Democratic Party allows us to help choose the candidate we will all have in common, that is, the Presidential candidate. Casting our vote in this global election amplifies our voice in decisions that affect our lives as expats.  It’s a very special privilege. We’re looking forward to a great day on Sunday.”

    For more information on this event or for members of the press interested in visiting the polling sites, contact Alec Mally, Treasurer of Democrats Abroad Greece at almally@gmail.com or 697-379-4849

     

    4 Μαρτίου 2016

    ΣΥΜΜΕΤΕΧΕΙ ΣΤΗ ΔΙΑΔΙΚΑΣΙΑ ΕΚΛΟΓΗΣ ΤΟΥ ΥΠΟΨΗΦΙΟΥ ΓΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΠΡΟΕΔΡΙΑ ΤΩΝ ΗΠΑ

    • Η Ελλάδα είναι μία από τις 40 και πλέον χώρες στον κόσμο όπου οι Αμερικανοί πολίτες προσέρχονται στις κάλπες για να ψηφίσουν αυτοπροσώπως τον εκπρόσωπο του Δημοκρατικού Κόμματος.

    • Το ενδιαφέρον των Αμερικανών κατοίκων του εξωτερικού για συμμετοχή στην προεκλογική εκστρατεία  αυξάνεται σημαντικά σε όλο τον κόσμο.

    • Την Κυριακή  6 Μαρτίου ψηφίζουν τα μέλη του Δημοκρατικού Κόμματος στην Αθήνα στο εκλογικό τους κέντρο.

    • Οι Αμερικανοί που ζουν στις άλλες πόλεις της Ελλάδας όπου δεν υπάρχει εκλογικό κέντρο, μπορούν να ψηφίσουν ηλεκτρονικά, ταχυδρομικά ή με φαξ.

    Πάνω από 10.000 Αμερικανοί πολίτες που ζουν σε χώρες εκτός των ΗΠΑ, έχουν ήδη  ψηφίσει τον υποψήφιο της αρεσκείας τους στις Παγκόσμιες Προκριματικές Εκλογές ενώ πολλές ακόμα ψήφοι αναμένονται να καταμετρηθούν και στις υπόλοιπες χώρες από τώρα ως και τις 8 Μαρτίου που θα ολοκληρωθεί η διαδικασία, επιδεικνύοντας έτσι μια άνευ προηγουμένου προσήλωση στα Αμερικανικά πολιτικά δρώμενα.

    Αντίθετα με τους ψηφοφόρους που ζουν εντός των ΗΠΑ, οι Αμερικανοί του Εξωτερικού έχουν την ευκαιρία να συνεχίσουν να ψηφίζουν στα τοπικά εκλογικά τμήματα, με ηλεκτρονικό ταχυδρομείο, με μέσω ταχυδρομείου η με φαξ για 4 ημέρες ακόμα. Οι Προκριματικές Εκλογές που ξεκίνησαν στο Γουέλινγκτον της Νέας Ζηλανδίας την Τρίτη 1 Μαρτίου, βρίσκονται υπό το πρίσμα τόσο του κοινού ενδιαφέροντος όσο και του διεθνούς τύπου. Τα αποτελέσματα των Παγκοσμίων Προκριματικών Προεδρικών Εκλογών, συμπεριλαμβανομένων των αποτελεσμάτων για την κατανομή των εκλεκτόρων, θα ανακοινωθούν μόνο αφού θα έχει τελειώσει και η τελευταία καταμέτρηση στις 21 Μαρτίου.

    Τα εκλογικά κέντρα που έχουν στηθεί σε όλο τον κόσμο αναφέρουν χαρακτηριστικά ότι οι Αμερικανοί πολίτες προσέρχονται αθρόα με το διαβατήριό τους για να ψηφίσουν. Αναμένεται ότι μέχρι την λήξη της προθεσμίας, Αμερικανοί Δημοκρατικοί από 111 πόλεις 39 χωρών θα έχουν λάβει μέρος στις Παγκόσμιες Προκριματικές Προεδρικές Εκλογές. Οι τοποθεσίες στις οποίες λειτουργούν εκλογικά κέντρα καθώς και τα ωράρια λειτουργίας τους αναρτώνται στην επίσημη ιστοσελίδα του Κόμματος, democratsabroad.org/gpp.

    Πως γίνεται η διαδικασία: ΟΙ Δημοκρατικοί του Εξωτερικού, που είναι το επίσημο όργανο του Κόμματος των Δημοκρατικών, έχουν ξεκινήσει την προεκλογική εκστρατεία για την ανάδειξη του εκπροσώπου του Κόμματος για τις Προεδρικές Εκλογές. Οποιοσδήποτε Δημοκρατικός ζεί στο Εξωτερικό μπορεί να συμμετάσχει στη διαδικασία των εκλογών 1) με το να γίνει μέλος του Κόμματος μέσω της ηλεκτρονικής σελίδας του, ή 2) με το να εγγραφεί στους εκλογικούς καταλόγους και να ζητήσει το ψηφοδέλτιο του μέσω του VoteFromAbroad.org. Δεν υπάρχει καμία χρέωση για να γίνει κάποιος μέλος.

    Υπάρχουν δύο τρόποι για να ψηφίσει στις Προκριματικές Προεδρικές Εκλογές κάποιος Αμερικανός πολίτης που ζει στην Ελλάδα:

    • Είτε να προσέρθει στο Εκλογικό Κέντρο στις 6 Μαρτίου κατά την ώρα που θα αναγράφεται στο έντυπο που θα του αποσταλεί,

    • Είτε να στείλει ταχυδρομικά, ηλεκτρονικά ή με φαξ το ψηφοδέλτιό του συμπληρωμένο στην διεύθυνση www.democratsabroad.org έως τις 8 Μαρτίου (3).

    Οι ψήφοι των ψηφοφόρων του Δημοκρατικού κόμματος που ζουν σε 190 χώρες και πλέον εκτός των ΗΠΑ θα καταμετρηθούν μετά τις 8 Μαρτίου. Οι υποψήφιοι που θα λάβουν πάνω από 15%  επί του συνόλου των ψήφων, θα εξασφαλίσουν αντιπροσώπους ανάλογα με το ποσοστό των ψήφων που έλαβαν στις Παγκόσμιες Προκριματικές Προεδρικές Εκλογές.

    Οι Δημοκρατικοί του Εξωτερικού θα εκπροσωπούνται από 17 μέλη στο Συνέδριο των Δημοκρατικών στη Φιλαδέλφεια στις 25-28 Ιουλίου 2106.

    Ο Αντι-Πρόεδρος των Δημοκρατικών στην Ελλάδα κ. Στηβ  Μεντέϊρος  δήλωσε ότι έχει καταβληθεί πολύς χρόνος προετοιμασίας για τις εκλογές αυτές. « Οι εκλογές είναι σοβαρή υπόθεση και πρέπει να ακολουθήσουμε όλες τις  νομικές διαδικασίες. Εκτός από αυτό όμως, είναι μια ευκαιρία για να συναντηθούν οι Δημοκρατικοί και να γνωριστούν, κάτι που είναι δύσκολο σε μια μεγάλη πόλη όπως είναι η Αθήνα.  Ανυπομονούμε να έρθει η Κυριακή».

    Η Πρόεδρος των Δημοκρατικών κα Κάρεν Λη πρόσθεσε ότι « Επειδή οι Αμερικανοί που βρίσκονται εδώ κατάγονται από όλες τις 50 Πολιτείες, συνήθως προτιμούν να ψηφίζουν τα άτομα που γνωρίζει ο καθένας από την δική του Πολιτεία καταγωγής. Αλλά κάθε 4 χρόνια το Κόμμα των Δημοκρατικών μας δίνει την δυνατότητα να ψηφίζουμε  τον ένα κοινό για όλους υποψήφιο, τον Πρόεδρο.  Η ψήφος μας στις Παγκόσμιες Προκριματικές Προεδρικές Εκλογές διευρύνει την δυνατότητά μας να ακουστούμε ως εκπατρισμένοι Αμερικανοί, κάτι που είναι πολύ ιδιαίτερο προνόμιο. Γι αυτό έχει μεγάλη σημασία για μας η Κυριακή των Εκλογών και ανυπομονούμε να δούμε τα αποτελέσματα».

    For more information on this event or for members of the press interested in visiting the polling sites, contact Alec Mally, Treasurer of Democrats Abroad Greece at almally@gmail.com or 697-379-4849

     


  • published Women's Caucus - Suffragette‏ Movie in News 2016-02-19 13:18:46 -0500

    Women's Caucus - Suffragette‏ Movie

    The film Suffragette has finally come to town!

    Join the DAGR Women's Caucus on Wednesday, February 24 for the film and discussion!

    Odeon Opera

    Akadimias 57

    Wednesday - 8:15 p.m.

    Let's meet at the ticket booth at 8:00. We will go across the hall afterwards to Cafe Opera for a drink and discussion.
    Kindly fill out our 10 question survey beforehand and we can see the results together at Cafe Opera.
    The film is also showing in Kifissia if you would like to organize a group!
    If you want to check out the trailer you can view it here:

    https://youtu.be/FTSP_oEHcOE?list=PLIR3GeOfJwpX1DbX_oNu1iPrh03I3sbw3

    Call 694 260 2055 or email sarajanekleone@yahoo.com with any questions. 

  • published Join Us for the GPP in Greece! in News 2016-02-15 03:55:59 -0500

    Join Us for the GPP in Greece!

    Like Democrats Abroad around the world, DAGRs can nominate our candidates for the November election by voting in our home states. Or, as members of Democrats Abroad, we are also eligible to vote in the Global Presidential Primary. And there are good reasons why we should!

    This means we can vote on two different ballots, BUT we can only vote ONCE for each office. While it may sound confusing, it’s really quite easy. Here’s how:

    1. Register to vote in your home state and request your ballot. You’ll want the Primary ballot, now, and the General one sent in the autumn. Go to www.votefromabroad.org and follow the instructions.
    2. Ask for your ballot to be sent by email or fax for fastest delivery. When it arrives, follow the instructions that come with it to vote and send it back.
    3. On your state Primary ballot, mark the House and Senate candidates (or down-ballot races if your local election officlal determines you can).
    4. Leave the Presidential box blank on the state ballot!
    5. Vote for a Presidential candidate in the DA GPP, between now and March 8.
    6. In Greece, the Voting Center will be in Athens on Sunday, March 6. Come, vote, meet friends, and argue politics! Watch for email with the location and open hours.
    7. If you can’t make it to the Voting Center, you can order a GPP ‘remote ballot. ’ Download a remote ballot at http://www.democratsabroad.org/gpp and follow the instructions.

    Remember, however you decide to vote, you can only vote for each office ONE TIME. So, do NOT send in a GPP remote ballot and then try to vote again at the Voting Center ‘just to be sure.’ If you do, they’ll both be invalid. But, you can still come to the Voting Center and be part of the action. 


     Now it's YOUR turn to decide!

    Vote in the Democrats Abroad Global Primary!

     

    Sunday March 6th

     

    In Athens

    Hotel Grande Bretagne

    on Syntagma Square

    From noon to 6pm

     

    If you can’t make it to the Voting Center, you can order a GPP ‘remote ballot. ’

    Download a remote ballot at http://www.democratsabroad.org/gpp and follow the instructions.


  • DAGR Debate Watch DW6 Athens House Parties

    DAGR Debate Watch DW6 House Parties

    After upsets in IO and NH and with crucial tests in SC and NV ahead, the 6th
    Democratic Debate (pre-dawn Friday in central European timezone) may be the
    best one yet,. PBS carries it from the University of Wisconsin, with PBS
    NewsHour co-anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff moderating.

    Find a house party near you to watch it with friends!

    CENTRAL ATHENS 
    Friday, February 12, 7 p.m.
    House Party at Nikki Fellouris' home near the Hilton
    Wine provided - Potluck snacks! 
    For address, directions and other details, call:
    Nikki at 693 661 8493

    NORTHERN ATHENS
    Saturday, February 13, 7:30 p.m.
    House Party at Marion Kavallieros' home in Kifissia
    Wine provided - Potluck snacks! 
    For address, directions and other details, call:
    Marion at 694 615 9203

    If you'd like to host a party, reply here and we'll help put yours up on
    this page.


  • published DW6 House Parties in Greece in News 2016-02-11 09:17:24 -0500

    DW6 House Parties in Greece

    DAGR Debate Watch DW6 House Parties

    After upsets in IO and NH and with crucial tests in SC and NV ahead, the 6th
    Democratic Debate (pre-dawn Friday in central European time zone) may be the
    best one yet,. PBS carries it from the University of Wisconsin, with PBS
    NewsHour co-anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff moderating.

    Find a house party near you to watch it with friends!

    THESSALONIKI
    Friday, February 12, 7 p.m.
    House Party at Panos Karousakis' home in Panorama 
    Beer and wine provided - Potluck snacks! 
    For address, directions and other details, call: 
    Panos at 231 033 2565 or Kevin at 693 077 7237 or 231 091 6324

    CENTRAL ATHENS 
    Friday, February 12, 7 p.m.
    House Party at Nikki Fellouris' home near the Hilton
    Wine provided - Potluck snacks! 
    For address, directions and other details, call:
    Nikki at 693 661 8493

    NORTHERN ATHENS
    Saturday, February 13, 7:30 p.m.
    House Party at Marion Kavallieros' home in Kifissia
    Wine provided - Potluck snacks! 
    For address, directions and other details, call:
    Marion at 694 615 9203

    If you'd like to host a party, reply here and we'll help put yours up on
    this page.


  • published DAGR WOMEN’S CAUCUS Women's Choice in News 2016-02-03 04:25:39 -0500

    DAGR WOMEN’S CAUCUS Women's Choice

    We turn a spotlight on an issue which was solved on paper years ago. As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a landmark abortion case that could gut Roe v. Wade, it is important to know what is at stake.  Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (formerly Cole) is a case regarding a deceptive Texas law designed to shut down more than 75 percent of all women’s health clinics that provide abortion services in the state.

    Take a look at a preview of the startling new documentary, "Trapped", a film that addresses TRAP laws—Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers—and their impact on abortion providers in the South. The film was recently showcased at Sundance Film Festival and in the above link, you will see Amy Goodman interview the Director Dawn Porter and guests Willy Parker and June Ayers, who are fighting to keep abortion accessible in the South.

    For more information on the Supreme Court Case, The Center for Reproductive Rights is representing medical caregivers in their efforts to ensure women’s access to safe and legal abortion care and their website provides an excellent overview of the case and its implications. Follow this link for a captivating read.

    Good visuals on how recent legislation has severely limited women’s choice all across America can be seen through the following graphs - Learn more about their work at the Guttmacher Institute

     

     


  • published DAGR Thessaloniki Chapter in News 2016-02-02 15:55:20 -0500

    DAGR Thessaloniki Chapter

    Welcome to Democrats Abroad Thessaloniki!

    DA Thessaloniki is a chapter of DA Greece, the official country committee for US Democrats living in Greece. Watch this space for upcoming announcements of meetings and events - we have events planned throughout the year, and encourage anyone interested in participating to get in touch.

    If you have questions or would like to help with Democrats Abroad in Thessaloniki, please contact us.

    Democrats Abroad - Thessaloniki 
    chair-GR-Thessaloniki@democratsabroad.org

    Join Dems Abroad | Follow us on Facebook

    +

  • published DAGR WOMEN’S CAUCUS in News 2016-02-02 09:32:32 -0500

    DAGR WOMEN’S CAUCUS

    Hello from DAGR Women’s Caucus!

    Thank you to those of you who took the time to return our Survey Monkey – we look forward to exploring the results together later this month when we confirm the date and time to go and see Suffragette.  So watch this space!

    The link to the survey is still open if you would like to participate: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HQJ3GLQ

    In the meantime, there is a Japanese Film Festival this week featuring four films that explore the role of women in contemporary Japanese Society.

    The Film Festival Screenings take place at 7 p.m. on February 3, 5, 6 and 7 at the Alkyonis New Star Art Cinema in Athens and admission costs only 3 euros. There are English and Greek subtitles.

    Women's Caucus will meet on Sunday for the Sunday Film in front of the theatre at 6:30 .

    Alkyonis New Star Art Cinema, 42-46 Victoria Square, tel 210.822.0008, 210.822.0023


  • published Good News Two Times Over!!!!! in News 2016-01-30 06:01:49 -0500

    Good News Two Times Over!!!!!

    When something wonderful happens for our friends, we share their joy. And that is especially true this week. Our Vice Chair, Steve, and Tony, a retired doctor and his partner of nearly 34 years, finally saw their commitment recognized under Greek law. Adding to the moment, theirs was the first same-sex civil partnership (symfono symviosis) signed by Athens Mayor George Kaminis and officially the first in Greece.

    The news is spreading steadily now, and DAGR shares the joy, if not the credit. The country committee in Greece has exercised restraint in joining with LGBT activists locally, all the while supporting DA’s global effort. DA’s role, including participation in Pride events in more liberal countries, is to advocate for gender issues in the US. So, naturally, last year, when the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Dems Abroad, and its LGBT Caucus in particular, cheered.

    And so did we, even while worrying the decision might entice some of our supporters to take their spouses back to the US. With this new Greek law, our LGBT couples can choose to stay here, and DAGR can ‘come out,’ too. Potentially, this means a DAGR LGBT Caucus and participation as an organization in the next Pride event. There will be more events, because there will be many practicalities in the new laws (everywhere) to work through and because it takes a while for laws on the books to become laws of the heart.

    Let me return, for just a minute, to the personal level. Steve and I first worked together for the 2009 Inaugural celebration at ACS. We’ve cooperated closely for almost 10 months now at the helm of DAGR. And it has been a total pleasure; he’s one of the most thoughtful human beings I know … and a lot more self-disciplined that I am. I flare up, Steve smooths me out, and a happy medium goes forward. Oddly enough, despite a few meetings held at Steve’s place, I’ve never met Tony. In these recent months, he’s been gone a lot, volunteering with Doctors of the World in refugee centers around the country. We’ve had one or two long phone chats about the refugee reality, and from these I gather he’s at least the second most thoughtful human being. He’s also served on the mayor’s refugee advisory committee, so it seems Mr. Kaminis shares my take. Friends of theirs add to the chorus of ‘really, really good people; couldn’t have happened for nicer folks!’

    We thought it wise to check with Steve before ‘going to press’ with the news. He’s away on business this week, but here’s what he emailed back with the go-ahead, “We are really proud to be able to promote and celebrate social progress...and maybe along the way bring those Manolis in the closet out, so they can learn that they have power.”

    And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Doing what each of us -- as individuals and as members of a historically progressive political organization -- can do to make the world a more just place, where everyone has the means to live and the liberty to pursue a bit of happiness.

    To Steve and Tony, our heartfelt best wishes on this momentously happy occasion!

    Karen Lee

    DAGR Chair


  • posted about Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act of 2015 (DRIVE Act) on Facebook 2016-01-28 08:16:57 -0500
    Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act of 2015 (DRIVE Act)

    Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act of 2015 (DRIVE Act)

    DRIVE aims to provide funding for the federal transportation network as well as for investments in highway infrastructure. The recapitalization of the Highway Trust Fund, which faces financial difficulties, is another goal of the proposed legislation.

    One of the provisions included in the multitude of pages authorizes the revocation, or denial of renewal, of a US citizen’s passport if the citizen has an outstanding tax liability to the IRS of $50,000 or more. When the law is passed, it is expected to generate a considerable dollar amount per annum in tax revenue.

    thanks to Kat

    Regardless of revenue gains, this provision might very well cause problems to the nearly 110 million Americans who hold valid passports (a much larger number than what is commonly believed) and who could sometime along the way have to deal with tax debt. The problem is even worse when it comes to Americans living abroad (a rough estimate places the number somewhere between three and six million) who rely on their passports far more heavily than their fellow Americans living in the United States.

    If overseas Americans cannot renew their passports, or have them revoked, they will not even be able to travel back home and might see their lives thrown into disarray since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, currently codified as 8 U.S.C. § 1185, stipulates that: Except as otherwise provided by the President and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may authorize and prescribe, it shall be unlawful for any citizen of the United States to depart from or enter, or attempt to depart from or enter, the United States unless he bears a valid United States passport.

    The aforementioned provision could be tantamount to exile. What is more, this policy was not introduced after consultation with the American diaspora and, to exacerbate the problem, communication between the IRS and the overseas community is not what it should be mainly due to overseas IRS office closures and funding cuts.

    Another issue regarding the case is the fact that there seem to be questions of due process. It is not clear if citizens threatened with passport revocation or renewal denial will get to appear before a judge and have a fair and impartial hearing. Furthermore, taking into consideration that to err is human, is there a guarantee that no mistakes will be made and no person will be deprived of a passport due to some glitch in the IRS system? Will the Americans concerned be able to seek an injunction against the revocation of their passport if they are mistakenly branded as delinquent taxpayers? Will they be able to take any other course of legal action necessary in case they suffer damages due to passport problems? It appears to be rather difficult to sue the government due to the doctrine of sovereign immunity which holds it immune to damage claims unless it agrees to such litigation. Although certain kinds of lawsuits against federal employees are allowed by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), the process is complicated and time consuming.

    On a different note, one might see broader issues at play. Freedom of movement is governed by the United States Constitution under the Privileges and Immunities Clause and is seen by many Americans as a human right – whether it is movement within the US or internationally – that is fundamental to the pursuit of happiness. Such freedom is a characteristic of open societies, a valid passport being a means that makes it possible, and it is too important to jeopardize over tax debt or budget concerns.

    Although it is true that the administration can deny or revoke passports on grounds of foreign policy, national security or suspected criminal conduct, one should tread carefully when such matters are involved. For example, in Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116 (1958), the United States Secretary of State refused the issuance of a passport to an American citizen on the basis of suspicions that they intended to travel abroad to promote communism. The Court did not deal with the question of constitutionality in this case, but in an opinion by Justice William O. Douglas it held that the federal government may not restrict the right to travel without due process:

    “The right to travel is a part of the ‘liberty’ of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment. If that ‘liberty’ is to be regulated, it must be pursuant to the law-making functions of the Congress. . . . . Freedom of movement across frontiers in either direction, and inside frontiers as well, is a part of our heritage. Travel abroad, like travel within the country . . . may be as close to the heart of the individual as the choice of what he eats, or wears, or reads. Freedom of movement is basic in our scheme of values.”

    It also held that “the broad power of the Secretary under 22 U.S.C. § 211a to issue passports, which has long been considered ‘discretionary,’ has been construed generally to authorize the refusal of a passport only when the applicant (1) is not a citizen or a person owing allegiance to the United States, or (2) was engaging in criminal or unlawful conduct.”

    By Vassilis Fragiskos

    Editor’s note: In November, 2015, Dems Abroad (DPCA) wrote to members of Congress urging this provision be removed from the highway bill. DPCA continues to advocate for a careful review to reduce impacts on Americans living outside the US.


  • published Help Dems Abroad! Help the US Embassy! in News 2016-01-27 04:05:32 -0500

    Help Dems Abroad! Help the US Embassy!

    Double-Duty Voting Scores ‘Points’

    Dems Abroad in Greece have so many choices. We can vote a home state primary AND save the Presidential slot to vote in the DAGR Global Presidential Primary (GPP) in March. We can send our ballot back by regular mail and pay postage, or by courier and pay more, OR by Embassy pouch and … mail postage free! We just have to plan our moves.

    The US Embassy in Athens wants to get out the vote for 2016. Their goal is to encourage every eligible American voter abroad to exercise their voting right.

    To get the ball rolling, US citizen groups, including Dems Abroad and our Republican counterparts, were invited to an informational exchange yesterday (26 Jan) at the Embassy. Key Embassy Athens staff, including the Deputy Chief of Mission, the Consul General and the Voting Assistance Officer presented their outreach plans.

    Embassy Plans October Party

    Besides providing voting assistance (advice and computers) on site and through support out of Athens ‘wardens’, the Embassy is preparing a “voting party” in October for the General Election. Citizens in the Athens area can bring in their absentee ballots, address the envelope to their county board of elections, and ‘cast’ it in the box that will go out via the State Department pouch system.

    The envelopes will be counted, by destination address, along with those left in the Embassy drop-box. This will give Athens a tally of overall votes sent out and the spread of states they’re headed for.  We sensed there may be a little informal competition among Embassies and Consulates worldwide for highest per-eligible-capita and most states returned.

    The October party promises to be a lot like DAGR’s Global Presidential Primary Voting Center (GPP), with ‘serious fun’ adding to the ‘real polling station’ feel. Expect drum rolls when the Ambassador casts the first vote, and for the youngest first-voter, the oldest and so on. Expect DAGR to borrow a few ideas for the GPP on March 6!

    Embassy Efforts Enhance DAGR’s 

    The Consular Section role in voter assistance in no way diminishes DAGR’s efforts. While the Embassy is promoting use of the FVAP registration form, we Democrats can still use our own VoteFromAbroad.org (VFA form based on the FVAP).

    When we use the VFA site to register, the software keeps count. This predicts our members’ activity, but there’s no system, yet, to see how many ballots are actually voted and sent back.

    Beyond those who call in for help, the Embassy has no way of knowing who registered by VFA or other online sites or directly with their home county. But they DO know how many ballots are returned through their mail system.

    So, we can use VFA to register and the Embassy's diplomatic pouch to send ballots back, and that scores ‘good job’ points for both!

    DAGR was well represented at yesterday’s meeting, officially by the Chair, Secretary and one At-Large Rep. The Treasurer and three other members were in delegations from three other American organizations. We seem to be well dispersed across the community, in fact the total number of DAGR people in attendance (6) made us the largest group by far.


  • published DAGR's Launch of the Women's Caucus in News 2016-01-24 11:28:18 -0500

    DAGR's Launch of the Women's Caucus

    DA Greece WC Launch Nov 16, 2016

    Click on the pink link above to see the slideshow.


DA Secretary, responsible for Communications and newsletter for DA Greece.