In Athens, a Candlelight Vigil held on the steps of Constitution Square, for the 17 victims of the Parkland Florida school shooting, echoed the school walkouts that occurred across the US on March 14th.
Democrats Abroad Greece (DAGR) honored the students and teachers killed on February 14th in Parkland, Florida, victims of another mass school shooting. DAGR joined the groundswell across the globe to push US legislators to better regulate the sale and licensing of guns in the USA. As 17 candles were lit, the names of those gunned down on February 14th, were recited and DAGR members and onlookers huddled around the vigil.
DAGR Chairperson Karen Lee stated: "We're turned our attention from grief to honoring the dead, demanding effective political action to achieve common-sense gun regulation in the US." She added "This is an American problem that will require action by US politicians, but we welcomed any of our friends here who wanted to show their support for our effort."
On March 24th, DAGR staged a Virtual March on their FaceBook and Twitter accounts with the hashtag #MarchForOurLives and #MarchForOurLivesGreece asking members and friends to post their selfies with signs they would carry in an actual March. A few members met at DAGR HQ, while another small gathering took place at L’Ovelha Negra in Moschato suburb, with performance by local musicians.
Although DAGR enthusiastically supported a ‘live’ March For Our Lives, organizers opted for virtual. The march had been set globally for the day before Greek Independence Day, THE MAJOR NATIONAL holiday with patriotic marches and security issues in Athens and Thessaloniki, both on March 24th and March 25th.
For the virtual march, participants posted selfies with signs demanding better gun regulation from US lawmakers. Members were also encouraged to register from abroad and request their absentee ballots for the upcoming midterms and to contact their members of congress with their views on gun control.
The luncheon meeting, held at Hermeion restaurant in Athens and online via WebEx, was quorate plus six guests. Three amendments to the DAGR Bylaws were approved by members voting at the 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM), March 4.
The more controversial amendment set in place a mechanism for dealing with ‘sexual harassment,’ including verbal bullying, among members. That is, it specifically disallows harassment based on gender among board (ExCom), volunteers and general membership and requires ExCom to deal with any complaints received. This amendment was encouraged by global DA, after passage of a similar amendment to the DA Code of Conduct. This amendment was passed with two dissenting votes.
Two other short amendments concerned dates. One tweaked the days ballots are sent in advance of an AGM/election of officers, when mail or electronic vote is used. This brings our date in line with global DA guidance. The other specified that the DAGR AGM in local election years is to be held by 31 January, starting in 2019. This is two months earlier than the previous date, March 31, which may still be observed in even-numbered years. It was proposed in order to minimize the period the bank account is ‘frozen’ at year’s end, until newly elected ‘responsible persons’ are documented to the bank. These amendments were approved unanimously.
Two guest speakers
On the program, Leonidas Gontzes, Associate Dean and instructor of History, Government & Politics, and International Relations, Empire State College, SUNY, led a lively discussion on “Who Americans Vote For Affects the Whole World!” Gontzes brought four of his students – one Greek, two other Europeans, one African – who expressed their positive impression of our transparency and member engagement.
An unexpected bonus was a visit by Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis, on his way back from the Delphi Economic Forum. After brief remarks on state politics and Dem prospects November, he fielded questions and comments. Raptakis sits on the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee and is vice chair of the Rhode Island Senate Committee on Special Legislation & Veterans' Affairs.
Notes for next year
Overall, this was a warm, lively – and tasty – Sunday luncheon. Is Sunday preferable to a weeknight? Feedback is needed. Our WebEx connection was slightly better than last year’s, but still had audio problems. These arise from connecting our limited equipment into (random) venues’ systems, distance to WIFI hubs, as well as possible interference from nearby WIFI. Dedicated equipment may be a solution. The goal is to make the AGM available and convenient, so as many members as possible can participate!
A SIMPLE MARCH THAT SNOWBALLED INTO A MOVEMENT
A few hundred or so participants gathered on the steps of historic Constitution Square in central Athens Greece with a backdrop of the parliament building to celebrate the anniversary of the Women’s March on Washington 2018 on Sunday, January 21st.
A handful of speakers made statements, read poetry and offered inspiration. Many participants wore black, showing solidarity for the #metoo movement. The march in Athens was co-organized by Democrats Abroad Women’s Caucus and the Women’s March Athens, an independent group of international and Greek residents.
Coming together across seven continents – and in Greece – participants took a stand for a world that is equitable, tolerant, just and safe for all; January 21st, marked the one-year anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.
Last year, in the largest joint demonstration in history, women and men, of all backgrounds, ages, and races, came together, 5 million strong. The Women’s March on Washington became an organic groundswell the day after the 2016 election, when a grandmother in Hawaii proposed to 40 of her friends to go march in Washington, D.C. The issues they raised, however, were not limited to the US, and the idea quickly grew into a movement with “sister marches” across the US and around the world.
The march was a proactive international movement to defend women's rights and those of others in response to the rising rhetoric of far-right populism around the world. The march is committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion.
In Athens, the 2018 Women’s March began at 4 p.m. in Syntagma Square. The broad 2018 theme was “Look Back, March Ahead,” focusing on human rights. Globally, Democrats Abroad followed a theme of “March to the Ballot Box” and efforts to encourage Americans outside the US to register and vote.
Athens organizers decided on “Together We Rise” to emphasize the common interest Greeks and foreigners, women and men, have in a world in which the human rights and dignity of each person are protected and our planet is safe from destruction.
Karen Lee, Chairperson of DAGR, co-organizers of the march, said, “Blatant misogyny sent American women into the streets last year. This year, it’s determination that drives us. I think women everywhere have seen how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. But we’re awake now, we’re talking, engaging, informing ourselves. When women have full parity, others get it, too. So, today, we march in solidarity for human rights for all; tomorrow, we vote. And then we do it again the next year. We’re not going back.”
Maria Kostaki, of Women’s March Athens, said the local slogan, “‘Together we Rise,’ reminds everyone that it is up to us to do our part….and make our voices heard as one.”
Kostaki added, “Last year, shocked by what the election of Donald Trump meant for the world, I scrambled to organize the sister march of the Women’s March on Washington here in Athens. This year, I continue to participate because one single protest does not make a movement, it does not create change. The effort is ongoing, constant, even when we are not gathering in protest to voice our demands as humans. My aim is to get more of the Greeks to join us this year, as this is not about the United States, it’s about women’s rights, human rights, all over the world.”
Several speakers addressed the crowd on the steps of Constitution Square before they took the march to streets, chanting, waving banners and holding signs high in the air.
A vacancy in the office of the Treasurer for Democrats Abroad Greece (DAGR) in early November of 2017 mandated a special election. Members of DAGR were notified according to protocol of a special election, held electronically.
In early January, Nicholas Loisos, who has served as both a writer for articles published in DAGR’s newsletter, as well as IT aficionado for WebEx and any number of computer issues requiring expertise, easily waded into the office of Treasurer. Numbers and computing are his forte, so he was a natural.
Navigating numbers and his quest to finalize establishing a Greek bank account became priorities. To date, DAGR has an official bank account with Eurobank so that members can easily conduct financial transactions on-line or via the bank in person. This will make events so much more streamlined for all the members as payments can be made in advance for events as opposed to waiting in line to make a cash exchange. And receiving donations will be much more easily enabled!
Nick is a native of New York, a California voter but has lived, studied and worked in a variety of locales in the USA and Europe. He presently resides in Athens full-time.
Democrats Abroad GreeceAthens Chapter
will be celebrating Thanksgiving on Sunday November 26th
It’s FALL, y’all! And that means it’s time to
enjoy indoor time with friends over great food
and maybe even “talk a little turkey!”
Guest Speaker: Sophia Kouvelaki
Executive Director, The Home Project, Athens
Providing housing and services
for unaccompanied minors who are refugees
Holiday Recipe Contest Winner TBA – Have you sent yours in yet?
Turkey-of-the-Year pick is preparing for plucking
Friends and family are welcome to this holiday that celebrates immigration so beautifully with thanks and appreciation for bridging cultures. Bring Yiayia and Papou, the kids and your Greek friends as well. No time like the present to be inclusive by example.
The menu is full of delightful dishes and the program will tickle your turkey bone!
Served Family Style the menu includes: homemade breads, green salad with pomegranate walnuts, turkey with pine nut dressing, (vegetarian option—Spanakopita), sweet potato puree, scalloped corn and cranberry sauce, red or white wine in a carafe for 4, soft drinks, and pumpkin pie with raisins.
€25 per person, including VAT
Tips will be collected separately.
15 Pandrosou and 7 Mnisikleous
PLEASE RSVP by Wednesday, November 22nd 9 pm
Just complete the RSVP form and hit the Submit button at the bottom.
Payment for your party will need to be made in cash, at the door by any member of your group with a US passport. AthChap has worked out a speedo sign-in to minimize delays!
Holiday Recipe Contest – Deadline Friday!
Well-known cookbook author Diana Farr Louis is standing by to help choose the winners. The recipe contest deadline is coming up soon—November 17th. Submissions are being accepted, in these categories: soup, salad/appetizer, entrée, side dish, dessert. Send to Marion Kavallieros or Ted Theo at the emails below. [email protected], [email protected].
Make a Day of It!
There are Holiday Happenings all over Athens on the 26th—the AWOG Bazaar is on from 11 am until 7pm at the War Museum as well as the Anglican Bazaar at Zappeion. The DAGR Thanksgiving Luncheon will make for a delicious break between bazaars!
This summer has been slated for resistance activities in the US and around the world that are both serious and fun to put on and do.
The DNC is helping Dems Abroad global to help our country committees print and distribute postcards for our members to send to Senators and Representatives.
These are distributed free of charge, though from 4th July and on, you’ll have to buy your own stamp. A donation toward future efforts will not be refused. :)
Senators at https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
Representatives at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Search further for regional offices that may be less busy and more effective.
Size your stamp first! Then, address your card
Post card ‘uncovered’ to US costs €.80. Some stamps, e.g. Theodorakis, are huge.
Post card in an envelope to US costs €.90 and may be impounded to search for ‘contaminents.
Write your message
Be brief. They won’t read your ‘prose’ very carefully. But do make your point, e.g.:
- · Hands off Obamacare!
- · Medicare for ALL!
- · Protect our National Monuments!
- · NO tax cuts for the wealthy!
Keep an eye out for breaking legislation. Send a card. You’ll feel better for it!
THIS WEEK: Healthcare is still very much ON THE TABLE!
It is likely the GOP will try to push through the vote in the Senate that was delayed before the holiday break. Any delay in passing the atrocious AHCA legislation means that their equally bad “fund the rich” tax package will also be delayed. In the best of possible worlds, AHCA will die entirely and we can look at healthcare proposals that actually help American families live a productive life, free of pain and the worry of not being able to care for loved ones. Here’s the main picture.
For all men, women and families.
- · The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 14 million more people would be uninsured in 2018 under the new plan than under current law.
- · By 2026 the number of uninsured would reach 51 million Americans. While the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has made strides to cover more Americans, it is estimated that 28 million would still not have health insurance in 2026. Either way, we have a long way to go.
- · Many believe that it is time to explore other options for how we provide healthcare in the United States. National Nurses United and The Sanders Institute have published a paper that speaks to the current state of healthcare in the US and explores the option of a Medicare-for-all single payer system. We may not all agree, but it is an option to consider.
From DA Women’s Caucus, the main issues re women’s health.
Healthcare is key to women’s well-being and economic stability.
- · Repealing the Affordable Care Act will disproportionally impact women, particularly low to moderate income women and women of color.
- · The repeal bill would eliminate critical protections in the Affordable Care Act that prohibit discrimination against women in the provision of health care.
- · Insurers would no longer be required to provide women coverage for services such as maternity care and they would be allowed to charge women more that coverage if they do offer it.
- · And it will erode women’s access to reproductive healthcare by dismantling no-copay birth control and defunding the organizations that provide this care.
DAGR is distributing Resistance Summer Post Cards to key volunteers around the country. If you’d like to get a few (20) to write or share with any Americans you know, just ask your Chapter officers or send a note to the Secretary.
Concordia Europe Summit and DAGR
Last week, June 6-7, DAGR Treasurer Alec Mally, retired Greek diplomat Dimitris Tsikouris, and I attended the two-day Concordia Europe Summit. Our invitation came not without some effort and most particularly that of DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake. His willingness to help was a result of the effort our global leadership has made to put DA on the DNC radar.
Finding sustainable, long-term responses to refugee flows around the world was the focal point. Cooperation, particularly trans-Atlantic, and support for international institutions that promote that cooperation were pointed to as essential.
Greece was chosen as the setting for this first Concordia event in Europe because of the particularly heavy refugee aide burden the country has shouldered in the midst of its own economic crisis. Also, note that the Logothetis family, central to Concordia founding and support, is proud of its Greek heritage.
Initially, we wanted to be at the Summit to greet former Vice President Joe Biden. Well, we managed to sit in the same room. Mr Biden was whisked in and out, on a tight schedule. There were no selfies with the V-POTUS! What we got instead was a crash-course in what can be done to make the world a better place … as well as quite a few people wondering if Mr Biden might not be persuaded to run in 2020.
Alec covered Mr. Biden’s remarks for New Europe magazine, “Concordia European Summit: Joe Biden tries to contain Trump’s transatlantic shockwaves”. He said there were so many great quotes, it was hard to decide, but here’s a sampler:
Vice President Biden’s remarks were clearly intended to calm European fears of precipitous American disengagement from the world under the Trump Administration, as well as to address some specifics of the U.S.-Greece relationship, both recurring themes of the Concordia European Summit:
--A strong Greece is essential to U.S. security. The same rationale President Harry Truman used in 1947 when requesting aid for Greece and Turkey applies today. Quoting Truman: “The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms.”
--President Truman did not refer to charity or moral superiority when he asked Congress to allocate aid to Greece, it was a case of self-interest to protect the welfare of the United States over the long haul, and it worked.
--Biden said the U.S. needs Greece back on its feet, and on a sustainable footing which will allow for job creation. “That requires debt forgiveness, in my view.” (No further elaboration)
--On challenges in the region: Biden believed a Cyprus solution is tantalizingly close.
You can read the rest of the article at New Europe. Be sure to include #Concordia17 in shares and tweets.
On to the Conclusion
While prepared to be skeptical of the emphasis on P3 (public-private partnership), I was pleasantly disappointed. Rather than profit, the emphasis was on duty, service and best practices. George Logothetis, summed it up, straight from the heart, without notes or teleprompter. Watch the livestream; his eyes never leave the audience.
It’s going to take some time to sort out everything I heard, and I will be reviewing the recorded livestream. It’s recommended if time permits. Mostly very agreeable, a few points less so, but thought-provoking – and encouraging – throughout.
by Karen Lee, DAGR Chair
Concordia Live Stream
These videos are of whole sessions, each about 4 hours long. Allow time for them to load and buffer and then use the slider to skip to parts you may want to watch.
Afternoon Session (4 hrs 53 mins)
Video w/out sound starts at about 16 min
Meeting opens at 26 min, video about Concordia, remarks by founders
Remarks by President Provopoulos at 37 minutes, interpreter’s voice.
Morning Session (4 hrs 15 mins)
Video w/out sound starts at about 15 min
Meeting convened at 26 mins
Former V-POTUS Biden is introduced by Mike Manatas at 29 mins
George Logothetis stirring speech at 39 mins
Round-table on future of Europe at 1:54:00
Afternoon Session (4 hrs 15 mins)
Video w/out sound starts at about 7 min
Archibishop Bartholomew introduced at about 8 mins
PM Tsipras closing address (interpreters voice) at about 3:36:00
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Love trumps hate: The Democratic Party supports the protection of the civil rights of the LGBQT community. DAGR shows its support by participating in Athens Pride. We will staff a booth during Pride events in Syntagma Square, promoting our support of LGBQT issues and seeking out US citizens in Greece to become DAGR members and future voters in the 2018 midterm elections. Athens Pride is a day devoted to commemoration, celebration, education, promoting action and engagement -- and fun!!
Volunteer to help us staff the DAGR information booth in Syntagma Square, from 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. You can staff the booth for an hour-long shift and then spend time enjoying the festivities. For more information, email Steve Medeiros, DAGR Vice-Chair. To volunteer, fill out the form!
Be part of the evening's celebration in the Athens Pride Parade
Join DAGR marching behind our "Love trumps hate" banner. The parade begins at 7:00 and runs for about 90 minutes. Bring your good will and your progressive energy (and a big smile!); wear comfortable shoes and rainbow colors (a rainbow pin or button is fine!). You may be moved to dance; there's usually some great music in the parade.
To let us know that you will be joining us for the parade, just tick the “18:00 and join the parade” box on the volunteer form. You may also RSVP (parade participation) on our Facebook page
We will follow up with specific information about meeting time/place.
You can learn more about the Athens Pride organization on their website.
Prepping for Pride
What's a parade or march these days without clever and pungent posters stating principles, points of protest and expressions of community and solidarity? We will march in Saturday's parade behind a rainbow banner. You might want to make your own statement. If so, join us for a sign-making get-together at Steve's home in central Athens.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Have some refreshments, talk politics --- with a focus on LGBTQ issues, make your perfect sign.
Tick “Yes, I’m in!” at the bottom of the volunteer form and we’ll send you the address and directions.
See you there!
Wildlife under threat
Separated by a week, Earth Day’s March for Science and this Saturday’s Climate March are connected by the interactions we collate together as ‘environment.’ Climate change and unpredictability affect wild species as habitats are destroyed or altered and food supplies diminish. The presence of wild species, however, is more than the iconic natural world we draw reassurance from. Each plant or animal plays its role in the chain of life, enhancing or controlling other species. The balance has been thrown off, and efforts to restore balance are again under threat.
DAGR Issues Chair Kristin Zissis lists the crucial threats that have come up in just the first 100 days of the Trump administration.
During Donald J. Trump's first 100 days in office, the environment and in particular wildlife have been fodder for the Republican grist. First there was H.J. Resolution 69, written by Alaska Rep. Don Young, overwhelmingly approved by Republican senators 225 to 193 and signed into law by President Donald Trump (remember how he defended his sons' torture and killing of endangered species for sport) this past March. This bill legalizes the shooting or gassing of hibernating bear, wolf and coyote mothers along with their sleeping pups and cubs, the spotting and shooting of bears from aircraft and trapping of bear, wolves and wild dog in steel-jawed leg traps and snares in Alaska wildlife sanctuaries.
In addition, the Obama-era prohibition of lead ammunition on federal lands and waters, issued the day before Trump's inauguration, has been rescinded by Ryan Zinke the new U.S. Interior Secretary. Conservation groups say that lead ammunition can poison wildlife, especially predatory birds who feed off carcasses (California Condor, Bald Eagle, etc). The National Rifle Association applauds the move as economically supporting the sport of hunting. The gutting of the EPA (killing Obama-era regulations on industrial poisoning of water supplies) and the proposed border Wall (which threatens 111 endangered species through the disruption of their migratory patterns) further threaten the environment and wildlife. According to Dr. Shonil Bhagwat, a senior lecturer in Geography at the UK's, Open University, the Concrete Wall, in particular, would "split animal populations, making it harder for them to breed and increasing the risk of diseases. Species at risk include ocelots, bears, bighorn sheep, the US’s last remaining wild jaguars, and the bald eagle – the national bird of America."
Finally Dow Chemical is lobbying the Trump administration to "set aside" 10,000 pages of findings that three commonly used pesticides (chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion) are harmful to about 1,800 threatened or endangered species. The EPA now run by Scott Pruitt, climate-change denier, who said he would reverse “an Obama-era effort to bar the use of Dow's chlorpyrifos pesticide on food after recent peer-reviewed studies found that even tiny levels of exposure could hinder the development of children's brains.” It should be noted that DOW CEO Andrew Liveris serves as an adviser to President Trump and has donated $1 million to underwrite inauguration festivities.
Earth Day 1970: The Way It Was
Left: An Earth Day poster of 1970 by Ralph Bently. I had this poster in my dorm room at college for several years. Annie R
Right: One of hundreds of posters, by hopeful humans worldwide.
Retrospective on the first Earth Day March, by Dr. Annie Rassios, Grevena
Perhaps we should go back to the time of the first Earth Day. It was a very troubled time, more troubled perhaps even than today if you can believe it.
We were stuck in the midst of the Viet Nam war: we were losing our schoolmates to the war, to the first wave of recreational drug use, social unrest and race riots were nearly daily phenomena. The killings at Kent State followed the first Earth Day by just a matter of days, showing how “afraid” the authorities were of “us.”
So there we were, about a hundred of us if I recall correctly, marching from our high school into downtown to “protest” for our love of the Earth: we had all read Rachel Carson’s The Silent Spring. Once the local businesses we passed figured out we weren't war protesters (this time), we were accepted, smiled at, treated with somewhat of a condescending acceptance by people passing by in their immense V8’s – this was also the time before the oil crisis, when smog levels were at their worst, when it was perfectly okay to dump mine wastes into streams, and only Lady Bird Johnson seemed concerned that the USA was becoming an eyesore.
20 million Americans participated in rallies and rather innocuous protest marches such as ours under the urging of US Senator Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970. There wasn't much we could do about the war in Viet Nam except yell; there wasn't much we could do about civil unrest except to naively believe in the power of love. But maybe, just maybe, we could save the planet. We believed we could just by marching down Main Street.
Hard to imagine, but it was, believe it or not, Richard Nixon who, following the Earth Day protests, created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Subsequent administrations have been hacking at these ever since. It was the ‘70s when recycling centers began to appear and be utilized and when the “crazy” environmental movement took shape.
The Earth today seems even more threatened than ever before. Maybe that little march of ours in 1970 was useless and silly, but I like to believe that maybe it did help to initiate the age of environmental awareness. We did not save the planet, at least, not yet.
Call me "crazy"...