Thursday, April 15, 2010

JP Morgan's altruism, profits and Europe

An article from Ovi magazine

When the entire world is reporting loses, when the number of unemployed international reaches sky heights and the number of people living in pennies is becoming uncountable; doesn’t anybody find it strange that banking companies like JP Morgan Chase reports $3.3 billions profits, 55% increased profits compared with last year?

And that was only the first quarter results. But let me she …isn’t JP Morgan Chase one of the banks that a year ago was begging for the help from the states? Wasn’t one of the banks that was expecting the end of the world if they didn’t have enough to survive and wasn’t one of the banks that was talking about the Armageddon, the end of civilization if people didn’t stop asking for salary rises and tax cuts? And please if you were worrying about Barclays stop worrying, they saw a good increase with Credit Swiss following very close.

OK fine, I’m falling in the populist trap but what the hell half of the people I know are looking for a job and the other half is worrying that they are losing their job; all of them know that the money they get are not enough but they know that the only thing that is going to change is that the value of their money is going to go further down the next few years. I suppose Mr. Soros has an orgasm by now! Well, if it is even good old Soros to have an orgasm after so long …well we should do our best!

By the way, wasn’t Angela Merkel a few months ago who did a whole fuss and she was ready to change the German constitution just to make sure that she can help the poor banks that suffered with the recession the very same who last week made another fuss about Europe helping Greece at least politically even though her negative attitude was hurting the Euro? Is Madame Chancellor going to make the same fuss about the banks’ profits nowadays? Is she’s going to ask them to help the European economy and the problems she faces and cleverly hides even Germany? I suppose that populism isn’t it?

Wasn’t JP Morgan Chase that devalued the Greek, Portuguese and Spanish economies among others and ended up these states to gat loans with higher interest than the one I pay for my mortgage? Wasn’t JP Morgan Chase with another altruistic institution Goldman Sachs that were screaming and threatening when China decided to use the Euro for their foreign exchanges a few years ago and aren’t they the two partners the pick of the spear nowadays in the war dollar against Euro with Greece and Portugal the first victims? But I suppose when these things coming from me are …populisms!

And what would have happened to all those institution if the European Unity had worked and if there was a real political unity among real partners and not what’s going on today, often makes you wander if after losing the elections Angela Merkel will not become vice president in JP Morgan or another similar banking institution! But I suppose this sounds like populism again despite the fact that the last chancellor when he decided that it was good time to follow the private sector he became vice president of another altruistic institution - energy that time - with great interests in Europe, the very same one that as chancellor had helped to enter the European market! I suppose that was populism also!

With announcement like that the international banking holders didn’t test the Europe and the European economy, they test the people tolerance and empty stomach has never been all during history a good adviser. 55% increase in profits from a company that survives due to people’s labour and the states’ tolerance is plainly provocative and a violence beyond acceptable and it will be ironic if Karl Marx becomes true after the failure of the soviet experiment and we will see the workers in Normandy, in Stuttgart and Yorkshire decide to demand their share the way Karl had foreseen it over a century ago! But I suppose that is also populism!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Parthenon Sculptures and the Acropolis museum

An article from Ovi magazine

Parthenon is a global monument and a symbol of western civilization. Parthenon stands in the middle of Athens, the city that took its name from the goodness protector of culture and education for 24 centuries. It will always be there, incised in the minds and the hearts of every human being on this earth, and this is what the trustees and the directors of the British Museum fail to recognize. It doesn’t matter what excuses they use for keeping the Parthenon Sculptures away from their natural place. For the people who visit the British museum, the exhibits will always be a result of receiving stolen goods, a result of receiving stolen monuments of the human civilization and that’s it.

acropolis01_400I’m proud to be born in the city that has this monument, but I never thought that I own it; I always felt that this monument belongs to everybody. This is why I often write and I strongly believe that a visit to the Acropolis should be free of charge. Everybody should be free to visit this monument and share the pride of being a member of this superior creature called human, be proud of being part of the history and be proud of having this history behind us. You see, I always believed that Acropolis represents all of us, and in the shapes of the marbled men and women are the foundations of our society, our culture, and our achievements.

Parthenon and the whole Acropolis were barbarically victimized during those 24 centuries, because it was often seen as a threat. It was always a symbol of faith, belief, and a way of life that threatened even the mighty Ottoman Empire. Even Christians didn’t dare to build a small church in the perimeters of the Parthenon, but in the end even they respected its quiet force and power. The Nazis, who in the 20th century didn’t respect human life, were forced to respect it and bow in front this magnificent monument.

It took an Englishman to do the worst barbarism of all. Lord Elgin’s crime was not only that he stole part of the Parthenon and destroyed parts of it, but he was fully aware of his act and the meaning of it. Lord Elgin proved that there is always a very dark side to human nature. Most people manage to handle it, but I blame human nature because I cannot believe that he did this act in order to preserve history, as often has been the excuse for it.

acropolis02If Lord Elgin wanted to preserve history, he could have started in England by protecting Stonehenge, a monument of 44 centuries that has often been vandalized by pagan followers, druids and their rivals. He could have put some of these rocks in his garden, like he did with some of the most beautiful amphora and examples of Greek art. If he wanted something more challenging, he could have gone after the Excalibur; he didn’t have to steal something that didn’t belong to his ancestors. I’m sorry to say, but the only motivation I can see behind his act is envy. Lord Elgin lived during a period when western civilization was searching for it roots, and it had turned to the Greek civilization, which had made royal palaces in Corinthian style, decorated with columns and Greek statuses. So he did what every thief does, he stole what he couldn’t have or create.

Now, whatever Lord Elgin’s family and his heirs want to believe, and whatever the British Museum says, Lord Elgin was judged and sentenced to be remembered as a barbarian in history. Somebody who stole something from all of us, and through his act he destroyed a big part of the rest. But what can you say about the trustees and directors of the British Museum today? They face an international outcry and still they stubbornly insist of being part of a crime, in legal terms being the other part of receiving stolen goods and having paid for it.

acropolis03The Parthenon Sculptures must return to their home, not only because they were stolen, but because it will be an act of apology for a barbaric act, and the British nation has proved many times that is not a barbaric nation. Lord Byron died in Greece fighting barbarians and protecting the same things Lord Elgin destroyed. T.S. Eliot wrote hymns and Shakespeare was inspired by the same culture. The British museum trustees and directors have no right to ignore their own culture by continuing this crime. The saddest part of all is that the British Museum itself continued the barbarisms over the Parthenon Sculptures. First they destroyed the top layer that was there to protect them, thinking that they were cleaning them by making them …more white. And later, only a few years ago, they used the exhibition hall that hosts the Parthenon Sculptures to organize big parties, where people were smoking cigars, drinking champagne and eating snacks! The trustees and directors not only have to apologize to Acropolis by returning the Parthenon Sculptures, but they have to apologize to the whole world for the stupidity and barbarism of some of their members.

The Acropolis Museum, Melina Mercury’s dream, is open and there is a space there, waiting for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures. Over the next days, weeks, months and years, millions of people will be reminded that there is something missing in the museum. Something that was stolen and it doesn’t matter what excuses the trustees and the directors of the British Museum will use. In the minds and hearts of people, the thing missing was stolen by a Brit, and it is now being exhibited brassily in the British Museum!

By Thanos Kalamidas

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Europe in question

An article from Ovi magazine

Only weeks before the European Elections, when European citizens elect their representatives into the common parliament, Europe celebrates Europe Day. This is a day that reminds all Europeans of the fundamental principles of the European Union, of peace and solidarity. The European principles guarantee a decent standard of living for all European citizens; they promote economic and social development. The principles also embrace environmental and regional differences. At least that is the theory, or perhaps what Schuman thought on May 9th 1950, when he deposited his declaration of a united Europe.

In May 1950, Schuman’s declaration seemed the next natural step for a Europe that was in ruins after an exhausting world war. The war had turned Europe into a battlefield for over five years, and left it without a youth only two decades after WWI. Financial competition was the new world reality, and the only way to deal with this was to unite forces. The European countries had the necessary industrial power to stand between the two giants and perhaps make a third pole in this game. A pole that could guarantee democracy and freedom – after all, the continent had learned the hard way what it meant to be without both. But yet again that was all in theory and the problems started very early.

First was the French veto against UK membership, because of its name – something which by the way should apparently be the same case now with FYROM. Later the competition between Britain and France caused more problems, with additional in and outs from the third major European player, Germany. Still, the EU continued to expand, including Greece and later Spain, Portugal and the Scandinavian countries. In 2009 we have 27 member states, with more waiting in the hallway for their full membership.

The aims of the EU were also questioned. For a long time Britain wanted a relaxed financial and commercial cooperation, with independent foreign and defence policies, while France, Italy and Germany wanted a more tightly knit relationship, like in the case of the United States of America. The unity has often been tested over the years, and one of the worst moments was during the last decade, when Iraq was invaded. Later the union expansion created tension, with ten new member states being added to an EU which was not prepared for such a massive expansion so quickly. This is an obvious crisis. There are other crises, which aren’t that apparent, such as the competition between the USA and Europe, the currency wars, and most importantly the industry wars, which have caused a lot of casualties on both sides.

The European Constitution remains another thorny issue, with only the top of the iceberg showing. Behind it are a series of other issues, mainly made up by the lack of coordination between the major players; a lack of EU leadership; and members with strong agendas that often conflict with the aim of a united Europe. Of course the general economic crisis and the dramatic unemployment rise don’t help much either. And yes, individuals form part of the problem as well, and in this case I’m not talking about Europe’s clown, Silvio and his family dramas.

First there is the European official leadership, Mr. Barroso, who often confuses his loyalties between the American administration and his real bosses – the European citizens. His Commission has become a bureaucratic monster that ignores the needs of the European citizens. Secondly there is a European Parliament that adds an unbelievable amount of meaningless legislations to the lives of people who have no clue why. This is part of the reality, but having said that, I don’t mean that there is no real work going on, especially in the Parliament. But everything they do is ruined by the executive parts of the Union taking over, such as the Commission President or the Council of Prime Ministers.

The European Parliament has voted on a series of laws aimed at protecting and defending democracy and human rights, but unfortunately politics, national agendas and geopolitical interests have often put an end to these. Euro-bureaucracy has become the worst enemy of euro-unity.

And the European Elections show exactly what the European governments think about a united Europe: for most of the European governments, the election is a good chance to promote their own work and on the same time measure their popularity.

What’s next? Well, Europe is suffering from an identity crisis, and it has to rebuild – or better rediscover – the aims of the union. Perhaps the European citizens need reassurance that the principals are still there. The citizens need to know that the European values still exist to protect and defend their interests and prosperity. Instead of having a Europe full of questions, we need a United Europe inspiring confidence and security.

By Thanos Kalamidas

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Flu of misinformation and hypocrisy

An article from Ovi magazine

Conspiracy theories are not my thing and I have to admit that I always laughed at most of them. After all, turning to conspiracy theories means that you’re having problems accepting logic, ignoring how crazy any theory might sound. Back in the eighties when HIV AIDS stormed into our lives, especially when the first celebrities were caught in the storm, conspiracy theories blossomed. CIA had created the virus and lost control; there was even a laboratory somewhere in the USA that had created the virus as a lethal weapon against gays. Everybody seemed to forget that even cancer has existed throughout history, but doctors only identified it the last three centuries, and started focusing on it and doing research.

Humanity has experienced a lot of illnesses throughout history, many of them lethal. Illnesses often also became the focus of superstition, for instance the plague was blamed on Satan and heretics during the medieval period, instead of the lack of hygiene in the growing cities. Recently, Robert Mugabe, Africa’s caricature Hitler, blamed British intelligence for the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, instead of his own inability to help the people with basic needs such as clean water and food. The common factor in these cases, and I suppose in the majority of all cases, is not any kind of conspiracy theory, but the lack of necessary action. With this I mean distributing the right kind of information to deal with the problem – which points directly at the states and this is not … a conspiracy theory!

There is no conspiracy theory behind the swine flu and scientists have, often cynically, used their logic to explain in detail how the flu started and how it expands. They have exhibited studies and statistics that are not new – there is nothing new about swine flu – and they have explained defences and all that with the help of the World Health Organization, WHO. Doctors have been warned and informed on local levels, and most of them are prepared to deal with it. But despite all the information, people have stopped eating pork, and the number of flu victims is increasing internationally, adding one dead in USA and twelve in Mexico.

When I wrote that people have stopped buying pork meat, I was not joking. Actually the US Government, joined by Russia, China and another fifteen countries, have imposed restrictions on pork products imports from Mexico – I suppose you never know what a well made pork chop might give you. The best of all was when American Vice President Joe Biden said in a televised interview that he would not let his family fly by plane or be in an enclosed public place, like a cinema, while this thing is still going on. Biden’s interview was broadcast in the news all around the world. I saw them in Finland, and especially these comments gave the message that if the American vice president prefers to keep his family indoors to protect them, I better not move from my room!

The swine flu, according to most scientists, is not lethal, and I trust they know what they are talking about. Its lethality depends on the prevention and treatment of suspected patients, as well as the patient’s immune system. But apart from babies and very young people, or if somebody has serious problems with their immune system, swine flu is not the only enemy. So here we have, once again, misinformation and mishandled situations, from the very people that are obliged to protect us from exactly these situations, leading us to widespread panic!

Because how is anybody supposed to react to Biden’s comments and the American administration’s restrictions on import of pork products from Mexico, if not with panic?

The Mexican government correctly demands explanations from the governments of the states that put on these restrictions. The Mexicans are demanding explanations based on a scientific basis, highlighting the fact that consumers are not likely to check the origin of the pork steak or pork sausage they buy from the supermarket - they will just quit buying any pork product! Amazing! The EU on the other hand, tries to be clever by using marketing tricks and changing the name of the flu from swine flu to …a novel flu virus! Wow, that will definitely solve all the problems! Personally I have to admit that I have never seen a sausage or a pork steak sneeze at me, and if I ever see that I will definitely start believing that aliens have taken over the main governments and that together with Hoover they are all responsible for J.F. Kennedy’s assassination!

What the World Health Organization has failed to protect us from is the flu of misinformation and hypocrisy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

St. Petersburg days in Helsinki

EU-MAN’s Permanent Gallery - St. Petersburg days in Helsinki

The European Union Migrant Artists Network (EU-MAN) cordially invites you to attend the grand opening of the permanent EU-MAN Gallery in Helsinki’s Cable Factory on Tuesday April 14th. Since the launch of EU-MAN in January 1997 there have been countless exhibitions in many countries displaying a huge variety of artworks created by the Network’s many active members, but this is the first time that a permanent exhibition has been established and it is an exciting prospect for everybody involved.

As a special part of this first exhibition, there will be a celebration of 200 years of relations between Finland and Russia. EU-MAN is participating in the “St. Petersburg days in Helsinki” event with a painting exhibition that includes works from 13 Russian artists and five artists that are members of EU-MAN in Finland. The certain exhibit will be open between the 14th and 24th of April.



The gallery’s opening and the exhibition is going to be attanted by Mr. Goubankov Anton Nikolaevich, Chairman of Culture committee of SPB and Mrs. Larisa Skobkina Curator, Chief of the Department of the newest currents of the Central exhibition hall of St. Petersburg “Manege”, so you have the opportunity to meet and talk with them.

So please join us as the 12 year-old EU-MAN organisation celebrates another first and is finally able to display an impressive selection of its members’ work.

The Russian artists:
Oleg Frontinsky
Larisa Golubeva
Rashid Dominov
Boris Zabirohin
Alla Geguerey
Lada Panyukova
Stas Kasimov
Nikolay Vasilyev
Andrei Chezhin
Lyudmila Chezhina
Dmitry Konradt
Dmitry Shaguin
Andrey Kouznetsov

The EU-MAN artists:
Andrea Bauer
Tigneh Negash
Nastaran Nasirzadeh
Amir Khatib
Thanos Kalamidas

EU-MAN Gallery Grand Opening
Tuesday April 14th
Cable Factory
Block B, Floor 3
Tallberginkatu 1
00180 Helsinki

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A German lullaby

An article from Ovi magazine by Thanos Kalamidas

And it did happen again and this time in Germany, with more victims - fifteen, the news say, including the boy that held the gun. The question remains, who put this gun in his hand and who triggered it! The answer is unknown and we are all waiting for the specialists and profilers to tell us what is going on; in the meantime nobody has given any answer to what happened in Finland a few months ago and in the States before that. The only fact is that young people are armed and are ready to shoot-to-kill in the places that should represent the dreams and the hopes of everybody, and they are doing that against the people who share their dreams and hopes.


A few months ago I wrote an article about what happened in Finland and hours after the hit in Germany, with the news bombing us with more information all the time, the only thing I can sense is that the main reasoning remains the same: there is a generation growing-up lacking an identity. Please don’t think that I make the mistake to compare generations, this generation is just different because they live in a different reality from my generation, for example - and again I’m saying that without judging - it is just different without that meaning that it is better or worst.

Germany goes through a huge crisis, perhaps the worst since the period between the two world wars. Unemployment has reached the same levels with the period Hitler was storming German politics with …solutions and the gap between the rich and poor is like a canyon nowadays. Something we actually often miss, the collapse of the Wall didn’t mean the end of problems, actually it was just the beginning and covering it under the happiness of unification didn’t mean that the problems disappeared, they just built up. The new Germany, the Germany of the 21st century, is facing a serious identity crisis balancing between the divided Germany of the Cold War, the Germany of WWII, the Germany of the industrial miracle of the '60s and '70s and the Germany of the two speeds at the end of the 20th century. In the middle is a new generation that tries to understand what is bad and what is good.

Using the words bad and good I’m not referring to anything metaphysical, but the confusing reality of the end of the 20th century for this generation. Think of it, from one day to the other the Wall collapses, actually the way it happened was painless and harmless yet a shock for all of us who had created endless myths about the mighty Soviet Bear; and the West Germans faced their own brothers but not exactly brothers to be the poor relatives nobody wants home for the party. At the same time, the stories and the propaganda of the evil Soviet regime becomes gigantic, turning the people to the other side, exactly the opposite. Neo-Nazi parties and groups are illegal in Germany but that doesn’t stop them increasing in numbers and members and the hate incidents become more dramatic every day. Oddly, the evil and bad guys compared to the other evil and bad guys don’t look so bad anymore and a young generation that sees dreams and hopes disappear in a world where only the few can make money – money nowadays is the only way to succeed – stand unable to react, numb and confused.

Finally, population movements and immigration became the nightmare, this generation feels like it is descended and neglected by a world that just doesn’t have time for them. And then you get a boy confused and most likely influenced from some fanatics with a gun. How did he find the gun? This is something for the police to find out and for the state to take the necessary measures and I said the same when the same happened in Finland without ignoring the fact that if somebody wants to find a gun they will find it legally or illegally. The point is that we must find the way to give to these kids their missing identity and the responsibility is collective. We all have our share. The problem is the same like it was a few years ago with the hooliganism it has just evolved and the need for a solution and action has become more urgent.

When you read on the news that fifteen people died, when you read analysis and statistics, when you deal with profiles and police investigation remember that the gunman was a seventeen year-old boy! Remember that he was an ordinary boy with good reports from the school and that he loved tennis. Remember that this boy was just like any seventeen year-old boy and instead of trying to blame him try to understand what led him and most importantly who armed his hand. Don’t try to analyze what was his relationship with his mother because he killed eight girls it was pour confidence and it has nothing to do with all the televised circumstantial psychologists, it was a seventeen year-old boy full of anger of a society that was deaf to his agony and try to think who triggered this frustration and transformed it onto murder.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pillorying dignity

An article from Ovi magazine by Thanos Kalamidas

It started late last week from a popular UK tabloid and gradually took over all the tabloids all around the world. By Sunday it is somewhere in all the media agencies all around the world, the issue a thirteen year-old boy and a fifteen year- old girl that became a father and mother. A boy who still spends most of his time playing computer games, football and going to school and a girl still playing with dolls and in the back garden with her friends were sexually active; so active so the girl was taking the pill and because she forgot to take it a few days she became pregnant.

But let’s get to the other elements one by one before we move to the new parents. Newspapers and especially tabloids live and thrive with stories like that and that’s the reason they literally hunt stories like that ignoring everything that has to do with human dignity, even the basic rules. So we all know – and by all I mean the whole world – the name of the boy and the girl, we all know their address and thanks to the tabloids we all had a look in their bedroom’s keyhole since all the tabloids left a lot of comments about their active sex life. I suppose a few perverts had a party with all the details that paraded in the pages of the tabloids.

Making Andy Warhol true these tabloids promise ten minutes fame to everybody pillorying the two kids because with all the photos and all the interviews with questions like “how you going to finance your new life” and answers like “what does ‘finance’ means” that’s exactly what they are doing ignoring that the boy is in the first grade and is not a surprise if he doesn’t know the meaning of the words. The media have acted like vultures over these young bodies and I’m sorry to say this is inexcusable and embarrassing but it seems like that everybody is ignoring it.

You see the tabloids after gave the chance to everybody to look into the keyhole they gave the opportunity for another blame game and a witch-hunt. So the conservative party – no I’m sorry, the most hypocrite part of the society doesn’t matter ideology - blamed the labour party and the socialists for the loss of morals. Every time I hear or read something like that I really freak out because usually it comes from people who haven’t got any sense of morals or dignity but they flag them to serve their opportunist agendas and cover their unbelievable scandals. I suppose their next suggestion is to involve the civil servants and take the baby away from the parents because they are too young completing a series of mistakes with a huge mistake.

The same people and many more will say that things like that didn’t happen in the past. This is the most amazing lie and unfortunately a lie most believe and repeat often. Things like that happened all throw the human history and they will happen in the future as well. Do you know what the difference is? The cover up and the acceptance of the fact since the accident were accompanied with a fast wedding something people today don’t think necessary. Or was it better when my thirteen-year old grandmother had her first child from a man she married just a year before with a man who was twenty years her senior? Or was my grandmother an exception? And my grandmother was lucky because she got married, how many others due to social differences were left alone with their newborn in a society that didn’t want the responsibility sending hundreds of kids in orphanages all around the world?

You don’t have to go far, just read the classics from the 19th and the 18th century to see all the examples, actually some of those classics are must to read for teenagers today. This is a very serious issue and it has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with morals but with the fact that two very young kids gambled their future due to lack of knowledge of the outcome of their acts. Otherwise that they were sexually active is not a crime! And unfortunately this is were it comes the family and the state especially the school. Let’s start from the bottom. Do you think that the teachers care or even if they care can they do something?

Unfortunately the raw answer is no, they cannot do something because most of them are hovered from exactly the same problems the parents have, insecure future, loans, credit cards and the fear of unemployment. Most of them in their hunt of survival have no time to take care of their own kids not the others’ kids. Their fears and insecurities coming with them in the classrooms living them dry to any kind of reaction. The family? Most of the time the family is absent, both parents work hard if they are lucky to cope with the necessary expenses, sometimes doing jobs they hate, humiliating and underpaid. The only time they have to deal with their kids is something like two three hours maximum a day.

I’ve read somewhere that the two families should be blamed for leaving their kids to sleep in the same room? Really? So if your twelve year-old son asks you to bring his friend to overnight the first thing you will think is that they are going to have an orgy in his room and not that they are going to pretend that they are reading and spend all the time in front the play station! If you think that they are going to have an orgy then there is something wrong with you. From the other side do you think if they want to do something you are going to stop them? You must have illusions and examples there are thousands all around us. The key for a good relationship with the kids is trust and information.

Information is the part where the state has failed, not that there are not the right books in the schools and there are not the right hours and teachers to teach the kids, what is missing is the right attitude. Our world has changed this is fact and the kids grow faster nowadays this is another fact and it is our obligation to arm the kids with this new future not preaching morals but explaining what nobody ever explained to my grandmother and obviously to those two kids, that there is a future that includes babies but first they have to make sure that they are armed to survive with dignity in this world. For this to happen we must have teacher who will not worry for their well-being but they will worry for these kids’ well-being. I’m emphasizing the role of the teachers because again unfortunately this is the thing that has changed radically nowadays; kids live more in the school yard than with their parents.

Finally the kids themselves. Personally I’m glad they kept the baby and didn’t escape to any easy solution and I really hope that this will not become the reason or the excuse to stop their studies but on the contrary and with the help of the families and the state will motivate them to study harder for a better future for them and their kid. And if we need desperately to blame somebody it would be a good start to begin with the media that like cannibals pilloried their dignity!