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New Year Musings January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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George Santayana, the philosopher, said, “A nation that does not know history is fated to repeat it.” The history of Greece can help us to see how freedom is won and how it is lost.

Ancient Greece was a small country and with limited resources. Her people were comparatively few in number and surrounded by dangerous tribes and they were always threatened by the greatest power in Asia, Persia.

But the Greeks were a highly civilized people whose greatest achievement was freedom. The Athenians were the only free people in the world. The great empires of antiquity, Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, splendid though they were, knew nothing of freedom.

Athens was the first democracy in the world and it was the most perfect form of democratic government, all citizens over 18 years old were members of the Assembly.

Not only did all free men share in the government, the love of the beautiful and the desire to have a part in creating it were shared by the many.

The Greeks had a passion for the use of the mind and children in school were impressed with the importance of thinking. All boys were trained to make them thinking citizens of a free state that had come into being through thought.

The Athenians were a strong people and they knew they were free because their country was free.

The Age of Pericles, the Athenian statesman, written by the historian Thucydides, is that of a state made up of self-reliant individuals who are closely bound together by a great aim, the commonwealth, each one so in love with his country that he wants most of all to give himself to her service.

Ideals have tremendous power. They stamp an age. The Greek ideals have had the power of persistent life for more than 2500 years.

Over the long centuries, however, a slackness and softness finally came over the Greeks contributing much to their ruin. In the end they changed to want security and a more comfortable life than they wanted freedom, and they lost all.

When the Athenians changed to wanting not to give themself to the state but the state to give to them, when the freedom they wanted most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.

All this was centuries later emphasized by the late U.S. president John Fitzgerald Kennedy who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

Sir Winston Churchill, one of the greatest statesmen in the history of democracy, gave the following speech on civilization, as developed under democracy.

“Civilization means a society based on the opinions of civilians. It means that the violence and the rule of warriors and despotic chiefs, the conditions of camp and warfare, of riot and tyranny, give place to parliament where laws are made and independent courts of justice in which over long periods those laws are maintained.

“In its soil grows continually freedom, comfort and culture and a wider and less harassed life is afforded to the mass of the people. The traditions of the past are cherished and the inheritance bequeathed to us by wise and valiant men becomes a rich estate to be enjoyed and used by all.”

Happy New Year 2007!


Cyprus > IT and Communication Technologies January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Internet & Web, Telecoms.
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Cyprus is an independent Republic, member of the European Union and of the Commonwealth and third biggest island of the Mediterranean Sea. The Cyprus Government has created a favorable offshore tax regime and has developed an adequate infrastructure in order to support the growth of the Internet.

As a result of the Government’s efforts, Cyprus has become a major European offshore jurisdiction with tens of thousands of offshore enterprises already installed. A New Industrial Policy has been adopted in order to promote high technology industries. This New Policy includes (i) the introduction of business incubators and the creation of a center for carrying out applied research and development, (ii) the creation of a foreign investors service center, which offers advice to foreign investors, and (iii) the introduction of schemes for the provision of State grants to assist technological upgrading and the launch of other IT related initiatives.

The Government also aims to attract foreign direct investments to facilitate technology and expertise transfer. The island’s geographical location, its good telecommunications links and its sophisticated business infrastructure should make it an attractive jurisdiction for e-businesses. However, Cyprus’ future integration within the European Union, which will lead to more legal certainty, also implies the end of the offshore regime.

Are the facilities adapted to the development of e-commerce?

  • Cyprus has a good business infrastructure, and English is widely spoken, although many documents need to be filed in Greek. The legal system is predominantly based on English law, and several facilities foster the development of e-commerce, including the following:
    Several Internet Service Providers and Hosting Services.
    On-line banking facilities and on-line securities dealing.
    The Cyprus Telecommunications Authority.

What is the role of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority?

  • The Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (“CYTA”) operates a virtually all-digital local network, a satellite telecommunications network and a fiber optic submarine cable system that links Cyprus with the rest of the world. CYTA also provides a variety of advanced telecommunications services, covering several customer needs for both voice and data communications, both fixed and mobile. The CYTA used to have a regulatory role, but this role has been transferred under the new law for the creation of the office of a Commissioner for Telecommunications and Postal Regulations adopted in April 2001. The Commissioner has amongst his responsibilities the granting of new telecoms and postal licenses and the authorization of telecommunications networks & services.

Is the tax regime favorable to the development of offshore e-businesses?

  • The Cyprus Government has worked hard since the seventies to create a favorable offshore tax regime while at the same time maintaining the domestic economy. The success of this programme is attested by the tens of thousands of offshore companies registered in Cyprus. However, the island’s prospective entry to the EU has meant a restructuring of the tax regime, which took place on January 1, 2003. Domestic and offshore companies alike now pay 10% tax, plus a 2% levy on wage bills, and a special contribution related to defense which in effect applies the 10% corporate tax rate to inter-company dividend and interest payments. It must be noted that Cyprus has double-tax treaties with several other countries, including most major “high-tax” countries, which makes it an attractive jurisdiction for certain holding and investment companies.

Related Links > http://www.ccci.org.cy/info_2.shtm (Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and http://www.cyta.com.cy (Cyprus Telecommunications Authority).

Xenakis’s structures and codes January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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The exhibition runs through April 7.

Constantin Xenakis is one of those artists whose work is packed with contradictions: trends and ideas of his time reflected in personal outlook, discipline and anarchy, images and symbols, paintings and installations, and action and pauses.

An exhibition of his work at the Herakleidon Experience in Visual Arts gallery in Thiseion offers but one reading of his multifaceted and multilayered work. The show runs to April 7.

Cairo-born Xenakis (born 1931) has lived between Paris, Berlin and Athens since the 1950s and has traveled extensively in many parts of the world. Extremely productive, with a slew of exhibitions on his resume, he is an artist bursting with ideas and creative energy and with a tireless enthusiasm for all things related to art and philosophical questioning. First and foremost, though, Xenakis is a warm, charming man who has lived among other great artists, especially in the 1960s and 70s, and reaped all the benefits of the synergy that existed in the art world at the time.

The work he is presenting in the Athens show until April focuses on structures and codes. The exhibition comprises some 60 pieces covering various periods of the artist’s output. Paintings, objects and some of his mobiles from the 1960s are a concise introduction to the artist’s personal idiom.

This exhibition represents the first time the Thiseion gallery is showing work that does not belong to the private collections of its founder, Pavlos Fyros.

Herakleidon, 16 Irakleidon street, Thiseion, tel 210 3461981.

Cypriot Baghdatis advances January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Four of the top six seeds have made it through the first round of the Qatar Open unscathed, with Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis the biggest name to progress through to the second stage.

Third seed Baghdatis was pushed by German Philipp Kohlschreiber but triumphed in two sets, 6-4 7-5, while Russian Mikhail Youzhny made light work of Italian Daniele Bracciali to win through 7-5 6-3.

Swede Robin Soderling took little time to dispatch of Belgian Kristof Vliegen, who was downed 6-3 6-3, while Britain Andy Murray came from a set down to defeat Italian Fillippo Volandri, 4-6 2-6 6-4. Murray was happy with his result considering he is currently battling illness but still took time to praise the performance of his Italian opponent.

“It was tough playing the first match of the season. He’s a hard guy. He’s been consistent. I had to play well to beat him,” Murray told the tournament’s official website, www.qatartennis.org.

“I was coughing a lot, waking up all night. I had a blocked nose also. It was difficult to play today but I am happy with the way I fought.”

World No. 12 Baghdatis said he was pleased with his first performance of the 2007 season but said it was no indication of what his fans can expect from him come the Australian Open, where he was a finalist last year.

“It was not easy playing a game after two to three months break. I am happy that I won. Considering it was also the first match of the year, it was very tough,” said Baghdatis. “I can’t promise of winning at the Australian Open or do better than the last year. I can only say that I will do my best.”

In other matches, Belgian Christophe Rochus defeated Spaniard Alberto Martin 6-4 7-5, Spaniard Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo knocked off local hope Sultan Khalfan 7-6 (7-5) 6-2, Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez dispatched of Italian Potito Starace 2-6 7-5 7-5 and Frenchman Gael Monfils triumphed over Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3 6-4.

On Tuesday, top seed Nikolay Davydenko will be in action on centre court when he meets Korean Hyung-Taik Lee while Croatian Ivan Ljubicic will meet German qualifier Denis Gremelmayr.

First round results from the Qatar Open
3-Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus)
bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) 6-4 7-5
4-Andy Murray (Great Britain) bt Fillipo Volandri (Italy) 4-6 6-2 6-4
5-Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) bt Daniele Bracciali (Italy) 7-5 6-3
6-Robin Soderling (Sweden) bt Kristof Vliegen (Belgium) 6-3 6-3
Christophe Rochus (Belgium) bt Alberto Martin (Spain) 6-4 7-5
Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (Spain) bt Sultan Khalfan (Qatar) 7-6 (7-5) 6-2
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Spain) bt Potito Starace (Italy) 2-6 7-5 7-5
Gael Monfils (France) bt Andreas Seppi (Italy) 6-3 6-4

Ljubicic, Baghdatis and Murray advance in Qatar January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Second seed Ivan Ljubicic beat 2002 champion Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco 6-3 6-4 on Wednesday to power into the quarter-finals of the $1 million Qatar Open. The Croatian next plays fifth seed Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, who put out French youngster Gael Monfils 6-4 6-2.

The other quarter-finals on Thursday pit third seed Marcos Baghdatis against Swede Robin Soderling, fourth seed Andy Murray with Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Belgium’s Olivier Rochus against top seed Nikolay Davydenko or Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman.

Cypriot Baghdatis outplayed Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-2 6-0 while Briton Murray cruised past Christophe Rochus of Belgium 6-1 6-3. Mirnyi went through with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Swiss qualifier Marco Chiudinelli, Soderling eliminated Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 4-6 6-0 6-3 and Olivier Rochus crushed Italian Federico Luzzi 6-1 6-0. Doha debutant Murray needed only 84 minutes to reach the last eight.

The young Scot’s fluid movement, excellent shot-making skills and effective baseline game helped him pull off several winners. Murray said he had been fighting a cold since landing in Doha. “I am less than 100 percent fit, maybe I am 80-85 percent. I still have a persistent cough,” he told reporters. “The last four days I have not been feeling that well. But it was good to have a fast match today, I am very happy with that.”

Baghdatis toyed with Ramirez Hidalgo in a one-sided match with the Spaniard. “It feels great to be in the quarter-finals of the first tournament of the new season,” Baghdatis said. “I’m moving very well and my serving is good. I’m really looking forward to the Australian Open later this month,” added last year’s Melbourne runner-up.

Erakovic beaten at ASB tennis classic January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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New Zealand No. 1 Marina Erakovic, has been knocked out of the ASB women’s tennis classic in Auckland.

She lost her second round match to 2003 and 2004 champion Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, after leading in the final set.

Erakovic, 18, had a three-set win over another former winner, Meilen Tu, on Tuesday in the first round, her first win over a player ranked in the world’s top 100. Defending champion, France’s Marion Bartoli, was also eliminated on Wednesday. She was beaten by fellow countrywoman Emilie Loit 7-5, 6-4.

Bartoli was joined in the list of deposed seeds by number three Daniela Hantuchova, the Slovak going down 6-1, 7-5 to French qualifier Virginie Razzano.

Top seed Jelena Jankovic is through to the third round following a straight-sets victory over Emma Laine of Finland. Argentine veteran Paola Suarez also booked her place in the last eight after a 7-6, 6-4 win over China’s Tiantian Sun.

Philippoussis to miss Australian Open January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Mark Philippoussis will miss the opening Grand Slam tournament of the 2007 season, the Australian Open, with a knee injury.

The home favourite, nicknamed “Scud” for his rocket serve, was widely expected to receive a wild card entry for the tournament, despite a world ranking of 112. However, the latest injury blow has ended the 30-year-old’s hopes of making the Melbourne event later this month and he may now require surgery on the tear to the cartilage in his right knee.

Philippoussis was forced to withdraw from his Hopman Cup singles match against Frenchman Jerome Haehnel in Perth yesterday and a scan today has revealed that the damage to his knee is bad enough to warrant an extended spell on the sidelines.

The Hopman Cup, which is a national team tournament, has been affected by a spate of injury withdrawals, both before and during the event.

Big names such as Venus Williams, Taylor Dent and Nicholas Kiefer all withdrew from the tournament with injury scares that could have caused problems ahead of the start of the official 2007 singles season. The Australian Open begins on January 15th and will come around too soon for Philippoussis to make an appearance.

The Melbourne native, who has always enjoyed playing at his home tournament, is said to be “disappointed” at the news but has expressed a desire to return to the tour after his layoff.