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Member Since 10 Jun 2009
Offline Last Active Nov 03 2010 06:35 AM

Topics I've Started

Corruption In Greece?

29 October 2010 - 09:52 AM

Look at the list on below link and find Greece on nr.78.....


Crete: Decline And Fall Of The Mediterranean Diet

07 July 2010 - 05:10 AM

By Margot Krijnen, Maastricht University

About 45 years ago, the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and cancer was very low in Crete: until recently, in the valley of Messara, only one third of the national Greek level and much, much lower than in the Netherlands. Today, these diseases occur almost as often in rural Crete as in the rest of the country. No wonder the Cretan people became concerned. Media coverage about this strange increase of diseases led to a public outcry for thorough investigation. What was going on? Did it have to do with environmental factors, pollution? Was there a factor that could and should be controlled? The Cretan prefecture commissioned a study. Dr. Constantine Vardavas conducted the research and earned his PhD on the subject at Maastricht University.

What exactly was the famous Mediterranean diet?
“It consisted of bread, fruit, vegetables, wild greens, olive oil, some fish, few dairy products and hardly any red meat,” says Constantine Vardavas. “In fact, only seasonal products from the region that the people harvested from their own open air cultivation. That required hard physical work on the land. The key aspect of the diet was olive oil, which accounted for up to 40% of the daily calorie intake. Moreover, their Orthodox Christian religion prescribed almost 200 annual days of fasting, when they were not allowed to eat foods of animal origin, dairy products, and fish. So, part of the year the Cretans consumed an almost vegetarian diet.”

How did you approach the study?
“We recruited 662 farmers, aged between 18 and 79, took blood and fat samples and submitted them to a thorough clinical examination. Moreover, we asked them to write down exactly what they ate every day and how much physical exercise they had. In other words, we performed a complete clinical, dietetic and lifestyle assessment on each of them. The results were stunning. We found that the famous Mediterranean diet no longer existed. Over the past 45 years, the consumption of fruits and vegetables had dropped from 655 grams per day to 400 grams per day, while the meat intake jumped from 35 grams per day to 124 grams per day. We could monitor this alteration in dietary habits by comparing adipose ‘fat’ composition among farmers in 1962 and in 2005. This comparison indicated a decrease in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and an increase in saturated fatty acids in the human fat. Just as you can tell a tree’s age from looking at its rings, looking at the fat composition in the human body gives you clear insight in the person’s dietary habits.”

How did this happen? What made the Cretans change the diet they had adhered to for centuries?
“The changes were brought along by a combination of factors. There was the tourist industry boom in Crete in the seventies, the introduction of mass super markets with imported food, and the fact that the Cretans were no longer as strict about fasting. Whereas in the 1960’s farmers cultivated and consumed their own produce, they now grow commercially profitable foods and spend less time cultivating their own fruit and greens. They found out that it is much easier to go to the supermarket and buy food rather than actively cultivate the produce they need to sustain an entire family. So, their lifestyle has become much more sedentary. In the sixties, the farmers walked on average 12 kilometres per day to their fields. Now they drive there in their four-wheel drive cars. Even the shepherds, the healthiest people ever on Crete, now use their motorbikes to go their herds.”

Your research has definitely proven the effectiveness of the original Mediterranean diet?
“Adherence to this diet has been shown to have a protective effect on the development of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality. It lowers the blood pressure, increases the good cholesterol HDL, and lowers the bad cholesterol LDL. We believe that the magic ingredient with the beneficial effects is the concurrent interaction between all the micronutrients and vitamins. A good example of the power of the Mediterranean diet is the fact that smoking habits never changed on Crete. Already in the sixties, the studied Greek farmers smoked, and they still do. Their diet used to protect them from developing the diseases that come along with smoking, as it counterbalanced the negative effects of smoking on health. Now that the diet no longer exists, the Cretans get the same diseases as the rest of the world.”

How did the participating farmers respond to the results?
“They were, of course, startled when they realized they had let their health to slip through their fingers. They all received a folder with their blood test results and the assessment of their dietetic lifestyle, but also with a proposal on how they could improve their health status by implementing basic personal guidelines. We actually also managed to locate and treat a few developing cancers. For sure, the population got a strong wake-up call!”

What will be done with the conclusions of your research?
“Our findings and those of other studies on the Mediterranean diet were brought forward and a call for action was made in Greece. Consumer knowledge is extremely important and information should be provided from childhood on. In Greece, there are no comprehensive health education lessons in schools. Because of the great increase in obesity, the great lack of physical activity, and the smoking rates, we have had discussions with the Ministers of Health and Education to include health promotion as a core lesson in primary schools and to educate teachers to become proper role models in the schools. Perhaps we can convince the Greek population of the future to go back to the famous en beneficial Mediterranean diet. The diet of great health.”

Constantine Vardavas PhD defended his thesis “Public Health implications of the Mediterranean diet; its interaction with active and passive smoking” at Maastricht University on May 27th. His promotor was prof. Wim Saris, from the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences. Contact: [email protected]

Tourism Must Be Protected

02 July 2010 - 12:19 PM

Tourism must be protected

It is impossible to measure the extent of the damage done to Greece’s image abroad by recent events such as the deadly firebombing of a Marfin Egnatia Bank branch in central Athens during the street protests on May 3 in which three employees died of smoke inhalation.

In addition to this tragedy, we now have the ongoing blockade of ports by disgruntled seamen and the earlier, irrational blockade of hotels by other protesters who would not allow paying patrons to enter or leave the establishments.

Athens and a number of other linked destinations are already beginning to feel the brunt of the port closures, as thousands of tourists have canceled their cruise reservations in fear of these actions and the disruptions they can cause to their travel plans.

The impact on tourism, Greece’s biggest industry, should be taken seriously into account by the government the next time it sees a group breaking the law, because the country’s economy simply cannot bear anymore blows.

Source: Ekathemerini, today

The Dark Side Of Greece's Economic Ills

21 January 2010 - 09:47 AM

Read this:

Press article By Paul Moss
BBC News, Athens

Greece's finances are in a critical state, with its total debt exceeding the country's annual GDP

He was a rather gentle-looking man - kind enough to meet me late in the evening, and he even helped me find my hotel.
But the world described by the architect I spoke to in the centre of Athens, was shabby, dishonest, and shameless.
His company helps design government buildings. And being chosen to do this work requires, he said, a certain bending of the rules.
"To win the contract for a public building, you do a favour for the public officer," he said.
"You can give a job to someone that is related to them, or you may help him construct his own property. This is the way things work here in Greece."
That is a commonly expressed sentiment here, that this is "just how things are done".
But what is new is a sense that there may be terrible consequences to Greece's rampant corruption.

Tax dodging

Greece's finances are in a critical state. Its total debt now exceeds the country's annual GDP. Its credit rating is slipping. And now the European Union is keeping it under a close watch.
As a member of the euro, Greece is supposed to stay within strict deficit boundaries. At the last count, the country was more than four times over the limit.
"Corruption and our economic difficulties - they are bound together," said Constantinos Bacouris, chairman of the Greek branch of Transparency International.
His organisation campaigns all over the world against government and business malpractice.
But in the case of Greece, Mr Bacouris argued that corruption, and also widespread tax evasion, have been crucial in dragging the country into its present mess.
"We estimate that 30% of GDP is not declared," he said. "We would be in a much healthier situation if our citizens declared all their income, we wouldn't have this huge economic problem."


The Greek government is all too aware of this issue. Indeed, tackling tax evasion and corruption are central pillars of its latest economic plan.
The problem is that this administration is only the latest that have made similar promises, but to little effect.
"I understand the cynicism," said Greek Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou.
But he insisted that this time things will be different.
"People will be watching us - the international markets, our European allies, to see if we are serious about tackling the problems," he said.
The difficulty Mr Papaconstantinou has is that he is not only trying to change widespread habits. He is also attempting to impose swingeing austerity measures in order to cut the country's deficit as quickly as possible.

'Squeeze the fat cats'

There will be reductions in the allowances awarded to public sector workers, and a change to the way pensions are funded. And the government is also planning to cut back public spending.
These would be hard to get past the Greek public at the best of times. But the fact that they are being introduced by the socialist Pasok Party, has provoked widespread fury.
"We will go the streets all of us, with very big demonstrations," warned George Panagatis, a left-wing activist in the north of Athens. "We will demand from the government to stop these measures."
I suggest to his friend Ilias Janopolis that the measures might be necessary for Greece to avoid bankruptcy. But he has an alternative.
"The government should tax the rich instead," he insisted. He quoted approvingly a British slogan: "Squeeze the fat-cats!"
Mr Janopolis and Mr Panagatis are not alone.
Next month, public sector workers are planning to down tools for a day in protest at the cutbacks.

Private sector unions are considering whether to join in, and turn the event into a full-scale general strike.
For the novelist and commentator Miltos Frangopolis, this is just one sign of the obstacles faced by any government, when it tries to alter a way of life that is deeply-rooted in history.
"Greece developed very quickly, and it makes it much easier for fast development when you don't have many rules," he said.
"And this became a habit. It will be a big struggle within the Greek government trying to regulate things, but also a struggle within the Greek psyche. At this time, it's hard to be optimistic."

Acute Lack Of Staff Affects Museums

14 January 2010 - 06:50 PM

Acute lack of staff affects museums

Several important museums and archaeological sites across the country have been closed to the public or are displaying only a section of their exhibits due to chronic understaffing, the Culture and Tourism Ministry admitted yesterday.

A decision by the ministry to cancel a recruitment drive for 2,584 full-time employees and the expiry of the short-term contracts of another 4,000 staff has left several major cultural landmarks without the necessary guards and administrative personnel to operate normally. According to ministry sources, the recruitment drive was suspended due to “irregularities” in the process. One source remarked, “Everyone had tried to find positions for their children and other relatives.”

The Greeks are urging the goverment to create jobs: well there are.....
The number 1 asset for Greece to attract tourists: their ancient history, to be seen on archeological sites and museums....

By the way.....when is the archeolocigal museum in Heraklion (the main attraction for tourists coming to Crete) fully open again?
I asked the tourist information office in Heraklion last month and they answered that it was not there "task" to inform people about that matter!!

Nobody cares, but complains....