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Best & Worst of the Week nominees

Friday, July 5, 2013  |   |  Tags:

Continuing HALC’s “Best & Worst” of the week series, here are the nominees for this week. Every Friday, HALC’s Facebook community votes on who should win each category. The results are announced on our Facebook page every Monday. The nominees are:


1. Journalist Paul Kendall

The European economic crisis has resulted in a lot of shoddy journalism in publications around the world, so it’s refreshing to see a journalist who leaves the hype at the door and presents the facts as they are on the ground. The Telegraph’s Paul Kendall dispelled media myths on Cyprus and said country is slowly back on track:

Not only were the warnings about cashpoints and credit cards out of date by the time we got there (nowhere we went during our week on the island refused plastic) but the prospect of being mugged seemed faintly ridiculous. Cyprus has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe and we didn’t feel threatened anywhere, even when we were wandering around towns after midnight.

In fact, the Cypriots seemed to be taking the crisis in their stride, displaying a resilience forged in hard times, before the economic boom, when many of them lived off the land and led much simpler lives.

Yiannis Vosku, the owner of Sovos, a popular restaurant next to Paphos’s covered market, summed up the opinions of many people I spoke to.

“Worse things have happened to us in the past and we survived,” he told me. “Most Cypriots are very hard working and we will work hard to rebuild the economy again.”


2. Greek athletes

The second spot on our Best of the Week nominee list goes to the Greek athletes who participated in the 2013 Mediterranean GamesThey won an impressive 59 medals:

Greek sports can feel proud that in such lean times as today’s it has collected as many as 59 medals in the 2013 Mediterranean Games that concluded on Sunday in Turkey.

In the event which Greece was originally to organize at Volos and Larissa, before it decided to pull out of hosting it, the country’s representatives in the sporting field did more than was expected of them.

Greece collected a total of 15 gold medals – including six in track and field – plus 18 silver and 26 bronze medals, taking the sixth spot among participating countries.


3. The new generation of Greek farmers

Young Greeks aren’t just giving up as a result of the economic crisis. They’re finding ways to survive and even thrive. The new generation of Greek farmers round out our Best of the Week nominee list for turning to the land to help their families and their communities:

Many Greeks own farmland that went fallow after their parents and grandparents moved from the countryside to cities during the nation’s post-World War II economic boom. Now, after years of crushing austerity, ever more are turning to their agrarian roots as a backup plan. […]

The unrest barely touched a pastoral estate in northern Athens that belonged to the first queen of Greece, Amalia of Oldenburg. Students in the agriculture class were calm, saying that they had finally found a path that depended little on their leaders. With olive trees taking a prominent role in Greek myths, the advertising copy for farming here was written thousands of years of ago.

Most of the 96 students have professional degrees ranging from dentistry to civil engineering. All are unemployed, and most have given up finding a job in their area of expertise anytime soon. So they have turned to farming as a business. Some plan to move out of expensive Athens and into the countryside, reversing the migration of their ancestors decades ago.

Stournaras declared himself “very happy” on Wednesday as he signed an agreement with the consortium behind TAP.

“I believe this will bring jobs to Greece,” said Stournaras. “If this goes ahead, it will help Greece become an energy hub in the wider area.”


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1. Golden Dawn’s Nikos Michaloliakos

The leader of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn is such a repeat nominee on our Worst of the Week nominee lists, perhaps we should just always reserve a spot for his outlandish behavior. This week, Golden Dawn’s Nikos Michaloliakos earns the top spot on our Worst list for calling basketball start and NBA recruit Giannis Antetokounmpo a “chimpanzee”:

The Hellenic Basketball Federation (EOK) has strongly condemned remarks by the leader of Golden Dawn who likened recent NBA draft pick Giannis Antetokounmpo to a “chimpanzee”.

The EOK on Thursday described the remarks as “unacceptable and racist”.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, an 18-year-old Greek shooting guard and the Athens-born son of Nigerian immigrants, was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks.

He was received on Wednesday by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at his office.

Nikos Michaloliakos, the leader of Golden Dawn, likened the 2.06m player to a “chimpanzee” in a television interview on Tuesday.

On the show, Michaloliakos, referring to Antetokounmpo, asked whether “if you give a chimpanzee in the zoo a banana and a flag, is he Greek”.

Antetokounmpo was selected in 15th place in this year’s 60-player NBA draft, announced in New York on June 27. He was seen celebrating the news at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, crossing himself in the Orthodox Christian fashion, waving a Greek flag and hugging family members who were also present.


2. Forest Preserve District of Cook County

Countless of Greek Americans have picked dandelions and other greens in fields over the years, but John Taris of Chicago received a $75 ticket from a forest preserve officer for picking those horta. That lands the Forest Preserve District of Cook County a spot on our Worst of the Week list:

With so much crime in the Chicago area, from murderous gangbangers to those thug mobs and everything in between, it’s nice to know that law enforcement finally cracked down on Public Enemy No. 1:

He’s John Taris, 75, retired tailor and notorious dandelion picker.

Now this alleged criminal is facing a $75 fine for the terrible crime of picking a weed that most Chicagoans hate.

A few weeks ago he was hunted down by a Cook County Forest Preserve cop and caught red-handed in possession of dandelion greens. For an old man barely making it on Social Security, finding $75 to pay the ticket will be tough.

“They make me a criminal for picking dandelions in Chicago,” Taris told me the other day. “And all I wanted was something to eat.


3. German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel lands the last spot on our Worst of the Week list for ruling out any future Greek debt haircut:

“Greece has made progress thanks to the very reform-oriented government of [Prime Minister Antonis] Samaras,” she said. “I expect that debt sustainability will continue to be a given.”

Asked whether a new haircut on Greek debt would be needed, following the private sector involvement (PSI) in early 2012, the German chancellor said, “I don’t see that.”

Merkel also defended her decision to insist that the International Monetary Fund be involved in Greece’s bailout by saying that the organization had experience of dealing with indebted countries that helped the eurozone shape the programs. Last month, the IMF’s review of the Greek program suggested that the debt restructuring should have taken place much earlier, in 2010.

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