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OPEN LETTER: American Journalists & Their Employers

A Rant by Samson Soledad . . .

How could this be happening? We are actually proving Plato’s original thesis about the degeneration of government through its five forms.

You probably never gave it much thought, but in Book VIII of his Republic, Plato thought it all through, and his conclusion about the future was not very optimistic. 

In case you forgot, Plato postulated that a government would devolve through five phases- Aristocracy > Timocracy > Oligarchy > Democracy > Tyranny. We don’t need to dwell on the first three phases as our founding fathers left Europe to get away from them.  They arrived to begin anew with a democratic republic.   But in just 250 years, we are clearly passing from the fourth to the fifth phase.  But how is this possible? Those founding fathers based our republic on the Hellenist principles that created western civilization. Did the old Greek see something we cannot see? Who is to blame?  Why am I writing this letter to you?

Obviously, you journalists cannot see it, or you would have written this letter yourselves.  Yes, you, journalists! What Plato saw and attempted to warn us of in his discussion of an ideal republic, was us.  The idea of democracy is a powerful potion that elevates humanity into the neighborhood of the gods.  But as the Plato prophesied, the fly in the ointment was us.

People! So why am I blaming the journalists and their enablers? Because you were supposed to be our best and brightest.  You were the chosen ones who were supposed to expose those in power who succumbed to the dark side.  Your annoying tenacity, wit, and ability to identify our failings were the qualities that were meant to keep those who even considered a dark side to “just say no” to avoid something worse. Democracy does not devolve into tyranny on its own.  Human weakness is what locks in its destiny.  

Specifically— corruption, arrogance and greed! It was your job to use those annoying traits you were blessed with to save us from ourselves. Your “job” was to be relentless  in pursuit of our representatives, so they would not begin to “believe their own bull****.” You failed miserably!

It wasn’t your job to ignore those who shared your own delusion of what was best for us.  It was your job to police our leaders and savage them with the truth so that once exposed, they would be driven into obscurity- which is worse than hell to a politician. And those of you who employ those annoying misfits, you were not supposed to allow your keepers of the faith to feed your own delusion.  You sold your soul for those pieces of silver that would allow you to boast about that fur sink in your kitchen.  But how many pieces of silver will it take to stop?

Your own arrogance blinds you from seeing that the end of democracy will be your end as well. Tyranny employs its own form of journalism, and you are not part of that future. And you academics- you sold your soul as well. Emboldened by the narcotic known as tenure, you soiled those young annoying minds at the altar of celebrity and the fantasy of a ruling class. And for what? A reserved parking space and a fancy curriculum vitae to mask your own insecurities? You continue to dismiss and diminish those who make up the great “unbathed” masses. We are the working stiffs who are only called upon to vote every so often to keep the game “rigged” against ourselves.  We actually believe in foolish ideas like the golden rule and equal protection under the law. You were supposed to be our champions and not let those arrogant narcissists from destroying our precious ‘shining city upon a hill.’

But perhaps it’s not too late!  We beg you to think back to your own beginnings.  Of how you decided to be principled and be a hero of the people- of doing what was right!  Your solitary job is to be that incessant attack dog of those who seek office or will do anything to play just another inning. It doesn’t matter which side of the two-party church you prefer.  There is no difference between the two sides once someone achieves political office.  There is only the obsession to remain there. This is our last chance to save ourselves, and it can only happen if you, the journalists, convince us to vote ‘no confidence’ to anyone who abuses our trust. 

Look around!  You are outraged when one of you is beheaded, or locked away in some gulag. Your very existence depends on you exposing people’s dark side to the light of day and to us, the great “unbathed.” Your time is running out!

Respectfully,

Samson Soledad, 

one of the unbathed!

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Racism: an Anger Management Tool

A Rant by Samson Soledad . . .

Racism!  It’s been a human trait for thousands of years.

Today, politicians harp about how we must join together to eliminate it once and for all. Look around!  Does it seem to be getting any better?  

So what is it about racism that makes it an incurable scourge of humanity? In order to understand why it hasn’t gotten any better, we must first understand what racism is and more importantly what it is not. For example, when a wealthy white elitist pig, enjoying the company of his brethren swine, makes a disparaging remark about the minority waiter that hasn’t shown sufficient deference to the importance of the person he is serving, this is not racism. This is merely a delusion of someone who has been brought up to believe he is entitled to raise himself up by knocking others down, or he is merely trying to to compensate for having a small sex organ, or any other possible feeling of inferiority. So what is racism? 

Racism is the prejudiced hatred of a person strictly because of that person’s race, color or creed. It is a white person discriminating against a black, brown, yellow or red person. Or for that matter, any one of that group discriminating against any one or more of the others.  On its face, when you identify what it really is, it sounds ridiculous– even to a racist. Hatred based upon skin pigmentation or a culture where that pigmentation is prevalent, points directly to the ignorance or compelling stupidity of the hater. 

Hatred in its pure form is actually a very useful and powerful emotion.  In fact, hating a person of any race or color because he/she is a complete ass is completely justified and an acceptable emotion.  Let me explain.  If a loosely-defined “normal” person hates someone, there is a reason for that hatred (whether justified or not).  When it occurs in a stable person, it actually serves as a release of frustration allowing the boxing-up of the anger into a therapeutic focus.  It is why stable people don’t go postal.  Of course, in an unstable person, the release can be much more violent, but that is a matter for another conversation.

All of us have hundreds of hatreds, annoyances, obsessions and biases that in today’s bizarre politically-correct madness would qualify as racist.  The modern preferred method of dealing with this phenomenon is to keep it within the confines of your head and heart, while you show distaste for anyone who speaks his/her mind truthfully. On paper, telling someone you hate them is still protected behavior, but to those who fear the truth exposing their own skeletons, it is anathema. Have we forgotten these are only words and not sticks and stones? 

Are we in complete denial that the fundamental protected right of American citizens is to say exactly what they think or feel, whether or not it offends someone else?  Have we devolved into a nation of crybabies, wimps and bedwetters that were weened away from their pacifiers before they were ready? What’s the solution?  Simple! Let us all say what we please. 

Civilized, caring humans will basically default to the golden rule.  Intelligent (as opposed to smart) people, will suddenly have a license to say whatever they like to justify them being over-educated and yet still flaunt their innate stupidity.  “Real” smart people will refrain from discriminating against others for fear the object of their discrimination might be uncivilized and retaliate.  Or, in the alternative, these really smart people will see the fallacy in the object of their hatred. And,of course,  ignorant people who choose not to learn how to evaluate their hatred, will continue to enjoy their bliss. Problem solved!

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Flawed Notion of Justice: A Jury of Peers

A Rant by Samson Soledad . . .

I’m sitting in the cavernous jury lounge after having drawn the winning lottery ticket known as a jury duty summons. Given the opportunity to participate in our incredible democracy, I have barely managed to remain conscious during the government-produced film on the privileges and benefits of my service on a jury.  When the film finally suggests that jury service is a great way to meet new friends, I cannot dismiss the sudden powerful vision that our government should not be permitted to produce videos of any sort.

The right of a trial by a jury of one’s peers is a very compelling notion.  Of course, when it was first devised, most of our population had first-hand experience with the sort of justice permitted by a monarch seeking to squeeze taxes out of his colonies. As I look around the lounge, I can sense that there are individuals who believe in the process and are genuinely willing to serve their community.  But most are just trying to get through their forced detention on a day they cannot work, pick up their kids from school or figure a way to make their car payment.  So I sit, surrounded by last year’s magazines, pondering the wisdom of a system where one’s peers decides the fate of the combatants in their quest for justice.

The indoctrinator in the front of the lounge, has assured us that all we need to bring is our common sense and to remain open-minded until the end of the trial.  The assurance includes a fool-proof method of filtering out those who have a bias that could affect their objectivity.  That method is the Voir dire of jurors to dismiss those who have an apparent bias. But wait a minute!   Somehow over the last 200 odd years, an industry has appeared and flourished known to the legal profession as jury consultants.  Again, the notion is that they are schooled in the psychology of jurors to learn who will possess a bias that will be swayed by a lawyer’s arguments.  These jury consultants are not being paid a small fortune to find the most objective and fair jurors.  No, they’re being paid to find the jurors that will have a bias or proclivity to support your argument.  Most often, that is synonymous with finding the most malleable juror who will choose a side that supports his own biased emotion.  So much for a jury of one’s peers.

The indoctrinator also suggests that the alternative, a professional jury, is one that is subject to taint and corruption.  But does that really make sense?  Let’s take a look at the concept of a professional juror.  Have you ever seen a 21 year-old judge?  Of course not!  A 21 year-old does not have the maturity, life experience or education to oversee the laws of our judiciary.  So the first obstacle for a lawyer is the roll of the dice that secures a judge in his case.  The lawyers all know the biases and proclivities of all the judges on the bench.  Whether a flaming liberal or a heartless fascist, our lawyer is forced to construct his case with the judge’s biases in mind. Not so with the jury.  Here they employ jury consultants to orchestrate their rejections of the jurors least likely to be swayed by their arguments.  The process uses statistical analysis to determine their best shot at . . .  winning!   Forget justice!

So let us consider the alternative of the professional juror.  They could be chosen, perhaps even using those same jury consultants, except with a different agenda.  Their agenda would be to find those most likely to to be qualified and objective to serve on a jury.  Next, they would be educated and licensed to be knowledgeable in the laws and judicial processes they must use to decide a case.  And they would be paid for their service.  Yes, paid!  In criminal cases the cost would be borne by the taxpayers, but in civil trials, it would be by the parties in the case.  What would keep them from being corrupted?  Like the lawyers who plead their cases, the loss of their license and the challenging, intellectually stimulating profession they had qualified for. Like the selection of their judge, lawyers would be subject to the jury chosen by an impartial computer. 

There would still be the opportunity to reject a juror that had a conflict of interest, but the new professional jury would be committed, objective, knowledgeable and capable of actually finding a just decision. We did it this very same thing with our military.  We used to draft our young men to go to war.  Most of the draftees weren’t committed to being warriors.  We fought our wars by overwhelming numbers of men and machines to blow the enemy to oblivion.  Our enemies used the very same technique. Then, we evolved to have an all-volunteer military.  The change created a military comprised of those who were endowed with the sensibilities of a warrior.  Forged with a proud sense of patriotism, and a military education, they take their responsibility seriously.  They are proud to serve in the best military on the planet.  Why is it insane to think that a professional jury pool wouldn’t place people committed to justice, to take their positions as seriously as our soldiers?

Here’s an idea. . . Instead of changing the system all at once, why not try it out in one city or county.  See how it works!  Have monitors checking, asking questions and a panel of our best and brightest, to conclude whether this system would be a better alternative to drafting jurors under penalty of fines and imprisonment. There would no longer be a need for a cavernous jury lounge.  A computer-selected jury and alternates would just show up for their assigned trial.  And the computer could even be programmed to select jurors with experience in the likely subject matter to be covered in the trial.  Imagine a jury where the jurors actually know as much about the trial process as the lawyers. It would no doubt require the lawyers to construct a case for a more capable, committed jury, but I suppose the extra work would be a justification to raise their hourly rates.

Oh hell!  Was that my name they just called over the loudspeaker?

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Rep. Maloney Meets with Daughters of Penelope to Discuss Priorities at Home and Abroad

Dec 8, 2016  | Press Release 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, met with the Hellenic women’s philanthropic group Daughters of Penelope today to discuss its work and meet the new Grand President, Jan Spanos.

“I was so pleased to hear from the Daughters of Penelope and its Grand President, Jan Spanos, today to discuss issues that are important to the Hellenic American community. I look forward to working with the group on causes I have championed for many years, including family leave for the birth of the child, an increased childcare tax credit, and returning the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful home in Athens, Greece. These are issues that we must continue to make national priorities.

“During our meeting, we also had the opportunity to discuss the Daughters of Penelope’s recent trip to Athens in which they saw firsthand the adverse effects of the ongoing economic crisis, particularly on children and families. I will continue to advocate for our country’s support for Greece as they work to rebound economically. I am proud that this year we were able to work with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) so that the agency is now open to reviewing proposals for projects in Greece. This is just one avenue through which we can increase investment in Greece and I will continue to explore other ways the U.S. Government can support the Greek economic recovery.”

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Reps. Maloney and Bilirakis Call on President Obama to Reaffirm U.S. Commitment to Greece’s Economic Recovery and Territorial Integrity During Upcoming Visit

Nov 14, 2016  | Press Release 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, applauded President Obama and his administration in a letter today on his upcoming trip to Greece and the Administration’s continued support for Greece. In the letter they also asked the President to consider four key topics of concern to the Hellenic American community as he meets with Greece’s leaders. The full letter can be viewed here and the full text is below.

In the letter, the Representatives thanked the President for his “consistent dedication to the Greek economic recovery” and applauded that this “visit will serve to solidify confidence for our Greek allies and the world that the U.S. government will continue to support Greece through the challenges it faces today.”

They also asked the President to consider discussing four key topics during his meetings with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and other high-level Greek officials; (1) debt relief for Greece and appointment of a U.S. Special Envoy to spearhead the U.S. government response to the Greek economic recovery, (2) additional steps to attract foreign investment to Greece, (3) assistance with the refugee crisis, and (4) condemning threatening Turkish rhetoric in the region.

Congresswoman Maloney represents one of the largest Hellenic communities in the United States and outside of Greece and Cyprus. Congressman Bilirakis is a second generation Greek and devout Greek Orthodox Christian, proudly carrying his family’s heritage into his work on the Caucus.   

First created in 1995, the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues is a bipartisan group of concerned Members of Congress working to foster and improve relations between the United States and our important allies, Greece and Cyprus.  The Caucus brings Congressional attention to key diplomatic, military, and human rights issues in a critical part of the world.

Full text of the letter below:

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Obama:

 

            We write to applaud your recently announced plans to travel to Greece on November 15, 2016, as part of an international trip that also includes Germany and Peru. We thank you and your Administration for your consistent dedication to the Greek economic recovery and believe that your visit will serve to solidify confidence for our Greek allies and the world that the U.S. government will continue to support Greece through the challenges it faces today. As co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, we firmly believe that the U.S. relationship with Greece is vital. We are strongly committed to ensuring that the partnership between our two countries remains strong. In that spirit, we respectfully ask that you consider the following topics in your discussions with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and other high-level Greek officials.

 

Debt Restructuring and U.S. Special Envoy

 

            A strong Greek recovery is undoubtedly in the best interest of the U.S. As Greece continues to reform its economy, we urge you to continue to encourage Eurozone leaders to consider a debt restructuring that will foster economic growth. We also ask that you consider appointing a special envoy or representative to lead the U.S. government’s engagement in Greece’s economic recovery.

 

Over a year ago, Eurozone leaders were forced to respond to Greece’s impending default on its debt to the IMF and its European creditors. To avoid a Greek exit from the Eurozone, which would have had devastating repercussions for Europe and the U.S., the parties negotiated a bailout package and aggressive set of reforms to overhaul the Greek financial system and allow the country to regain fiscal stability. Over the last several months, the Greek Parliament has made steady strides in passing and implementing such reforms to reduce government spending and increase revenues.

 

For nearly seven years, the Greek people have suffered from an economic recession and a high rate of unemployment. We appreciate the comments that you, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and others have made in support of debt relief for Greece, as the IMF has characterized the country’s debt as unsustainable. Greece should have an opportunity to restructure its debt in an effort to support more economic growth and further stabilize its financial situation. We believe a designated envoy would best enable coordination between various agencies in support of this goal, as well as the goal of a stronger Greek economy.   

 

Additional Foreign Investment Opportunities 

 

            Foreign investment is an important component in Greece’s economy that has been largely missing in recent years. We urge you to consider and discuss other ways to attract foreign investment to Greece that builds upon some steps your Administration has already taken. After many months of consultation with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), we were encouraged when the agency declared that it will consider investment proposals for projects in Greece with high development potential, despite its relatively high income per capita compared to other countries in which OPIC typically operates. OPIC’s policy clarification has been met with enthusiasm by the Hellenic community in the U.S. and abroad. We hope you will discuss additional steps the U.S. and its international partners can take to support foreign investment in Greece, such as increased cooperation on trade or engagement in Greece’s growing energy sector.

 

Assistance with the Refugee Crisis

 

            As you discuss the refugee crisis, which has put significant strain on Greece’s resources especially as the country simultaneously manages its financial woes, we hope you will recognize generosity Greeks have demonstrated during this significant inflow of refugees and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to provide technical support to the Greek authorities. During the largest migration of refugees since World War II, Greece received over 850,000 refugees in 2015 and 170,000 so far in 2016, with hundreds more arriving every day. Greek authorities as well as the Greek people deserve recognition for their sincere efforts to welcome a large volume of refugees at their shores. In October 2015, several Hellenic Caucus members joined us on a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson asking that the U.S. provide Greek authorities with technical assistance to effectively manage and monitor the flow of refugees. We appreciate that Administration officials have made several visits to Greece, including to the Greek Islands, and we are hopeful that level of cooperation and support will continue.

 

Condemn Threatening Turkish Rhetoric and Support Cyprus Reunification

 

            Finally, we urge you to make clear that the U.S. condemns the provocative rhetoric by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan towards Greece and discuss actions to stabilize this critical region, including the reunification of Cyprus that the U.S. has consistently supported. President Erdogan recently claimed that the Greek Islands in the Eastern Aegean Sea are Turkish territory. These comments violate the provisions of the nearly 100-year-old Treaty of Lausanne, a peace accord that established Turkey’s modern-day borders, and are unfortunately in line with past assertions and actions taken by the Turkish leader that threaten Greece’s sovereignty.  The U.S. must make clear that there simply is no legitimacy to President Erdogan’s claims and strongly support efforts to stabilize the Eastern Mediterranean region, which must include the complete removal of Turkish troops from the northern third of Cyprus.

 

              Again, we commend you for your decision to visit Greece in the coming days. We appreciate the opportunity to share with you the issues that concern the Hellenic American communities we are privileged to represent. Thank you for your consideration of these important matters as they relate to our relationship with Greece.

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Rep. Maloney Introduces Legislation Calling for Parthenon Marbles to Be Returned to Greece

Sep 26, 2016  | Press Release 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, introduced a resolution today calling on Great Britain to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. The Marbles were removed from Greece 200 years ago by Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin and transported to Great Britain. The Marbles were part of a frieze that wrapped around the Temple of Athena. In 1816, the British Parliament voted to purchase the Marbles and they now reside in the British Museum. Despite years of efforts by the Greek Government to retain the Marbles, it has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its British counterparts to return the Marbles to Greece. Representative Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) are original co-sponsors of the Concurrent Resolution.

“The Parthenon marbles are some of Greece’s greatest examples of artistic expression and beauty, and should be on display in their country of origin,” said Rep. Maloney. “They are vital pieces of Greek history that belong to the Greek people. The people of Greece as well as the visitors who travel from all around the world to experience the magnificence of the Acropolis should be able to enjoy the Marbles. This resolution calls upon Great Britain to finally return these treasures to their rightful home.”

“Art provides a window into history and its expression is liberty,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “The Parthenon Marbles were made by the citizens of Athens under the direction of renowned artist Phidias to celebrate the pride and majesty of the City of Athens. To not house and view these citizen contributions in the city they were originally intended does a disservice not only to the people of Athens, but also to the civilization that paved the path for modern democracy and freedom. I sincerely hope to see these original works and other important elements of Hellenic history finally returned to their rightful owner for future generations of proud Greeks to enjoy.”

“The Parthenon Marbles are a national symbol and source of pride for Greece,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “These sculptures were taken from Greece, and that is where they belong. Great Britain should do the right thing and reunify the Parthenon temple’s treasures in their homeland.”

 

BACKGROUND

The Parthenon, largely regarded as one of Europe’s greatest architectural wonders, is the preeminent symbol of Greek cultural heritage, including its art, architecture, and democracy, and of the contributions that ancient made to civilization. More than 100 pieces of the Parthenon Marbles were removed from the site between 1801 and 1816 and now reside in the British Museum. The Greek people have sought the return of these pieces since it won independence from Ottoman rule in 1830.

res were taken from Greece, and that is where they belong. Great Britain should do the right thing and reunify the Parthenon temple’s treasures in their homeland.”

 

 

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Reps. Maloney and Bilirakis Host Joint Meeting with Ambassador Pyatt to Discuss the Future of Greece and the U.S.-Greece Relationship

Sep 14, 2016  | Press Release 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, yesterday hosted a joint meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, ahead of his swearing in on September 28, to discuss the future of Greece and the relationship between Greece and the United States. Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Dina Titus (NV-01), Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Anna Eshoo (CA-18) and John Sarbanes (MD-03) also joined the meeting.

“It is my honor and privilege to represent one of the largest Hellenic communities in the United States and outside of Greece and Cyprus, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Greece to discuss the issues of concern to the American Hellenic community,” said Rep. Maloney. “I was happy to hear Ambassador Pyatt’s strong commitment to maintaining the extremely important relationship our countries share, as well his plans to provide U.S. support to Greece as it recovers and rebuilds its economy. There are many ways the U.S. can assist Greece, including attracting foreign investment through agencies like the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). At the urging of Rep. Bilirakis and myself, OPIC released a statement of policy confirming that the agency will accept proposals for investment projects in Greece that will benefit both investors and the Greek people. The economic recovery of Greece is vital not only to its people but also to the region and our allies throughout Europe. As the Ambassador said in our meeting, ‘Europe can’t succeed if Greece doesn’t succeed.'”

“I was very encouraged by our meeting between newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoff Pyatt to Greece and Hellenic Caucus members,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “Having previously served as our ambassador to the Ukraine, Ambassador Pyatt is no stranger to challenges and will bring a wealth of experience to his new post. I am confident that he will continue to represent the United States abroad to his utmost, and I look forward to working with him to ensure our longtime strategic ally in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece, is the beneficiary of economic, energy, and defense security that is fostered by the United States and other  regional allies like Israel and Cyprus.”

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Reps. Maloney and Bilirakis Urge Turkish Pres. Erdoğan to Preserve and Reinstate Christian Liturgy Tradition in Panagia Sumela Monastery

Sep 9, 2016  | Press Release 

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, sent a letter to Republic of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raising concerns about the abrupt revocation of a license for the annual Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Assumption at Panagia Sumela Monastery in Trabzon on August 15, 2016. A copy of the signed letter can be found here.

The members expressed their concern over “reports of government-sponsored religion suppression and interference with the peaceful worship at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey” and urged the President “to take action to alleviate fears that this recent license revocation is a precursor to a longer term prevention of use of the Panagia Sumela Monastery by the thousands of Orthodox Christians who have traveled to Trabzon to take part in the celebration of the Feast of the Assumption there since it reopened in 2010.”

Reps. Maloney and Bilirakis urged President Erdoğan to once again allow the peaceful gathering in observance of the annual Christian celebration moving forward and noted, “Partnership and cooperation on human rights are critical to achieve 21st Century prosperity. With rising violations of freedom of religion or belief around the globe, we must strive to advance this fundamental freedom for everyone everywhere.”

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Rep. Maloney Appeals to NBC to Correct the Record on Greek-Macedonian History Reported During Olympic Opening Ceremonies

Aug 18, 2016  | Press Release 

Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12) and her Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues Co-Chair Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) sent a letter to NBCUniversal CEO Stephen B. Burke expressing concerns raised by comments made about Macedonian history during NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremonies of the XXXI Olympiad on Friday, August 5, 2016. The letter can be seen here and the full text is below.

In the letter, the members note that “NBC commentators inaccurately associated Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great to the nation of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) by mentioning these two figures of Greek history during the presentation of the team from FYROM. In doing so, the broadcast strongly implied that these Greek figures descended from FYROM, when in fact, they are Greek.”

The two co-chairs go on to explain that “by not strictly using the name FYROM during the Opening Ceremony, the commentators undermined the position of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which recognizes FYROM as the nation’s interim name.” 

Rep. Maloney plans to reintroduce a resolution, when Congress comes back into session in September, urging the FYROM to work within the framework of the United Nations process and in good faith with Greece to achieve longstanding United States and United Nations policy goals of resolving the name dispute. The resolution also encourages the United States to work with its NATO allies to uphold previous decisions at NATO Summits, with regard to the enlargement issue. A version of this resolution has beenintroduced since 1993.

Congresswoman Maloney represents one of the largest Hellenic communities in the United States and outside of Greece and Cyprus.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Mr. Burke:

We are writing to express our concerns and the concerns of our constituents sparked by comments made about Macedonian history during NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremonies of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad on Friday, August 5, 2016. 

During the evening telecast, NBC commentators inaccurately associated Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great to the nation of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) by mentioning these two figures of Greek history during the presentation of the team from FYROM. In doing so, the broadcast strongly implied that these Greek figures descended from FYROM, when in fact, they are Greek. Furthermore, by not strictly using the name FYROM during the Opening Ceremony, the commentators undermined the position of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which recognizes FYROM as the nation’s interim name.

Philip II and Alexander the Great were, as your commentators noted, from the ancient city-state of Macedonia, which was Hellenic – a historical fact confirmed by historians and classicist scholars. Even an unintended implication of separation between the history of ancient Macedonia and the history of Greece has inadvertently inserted the Olympic Games into a sensitive geopolitical issue which could strain relations with Greece, our steadfast ally, and the Greek American community. 

As co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, we have long advocated for a permanent name for FYROM that respects and represents history. Historically inaccurate and incendiary commentary on an international stage is an impediment to resolving the dispute. We urge NBC to issue an on-air correction during the Closing Ceremony.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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Rep. Maloney Applauds OPIC Policy Clarification In Light of Greek Financial Crisis

Jul 28, 2016  | Press Release 

WASHINGTON, DC – After months of consultation between Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the agency has issued a documentfor investors clearly stating that the group is open to reviewing proposals for projects in Greece. Congresswoman Maloney, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, staunchly advocated for this statement and applauds OPIC’s work on this important matter. She and Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) released a letter last year encouraging OPIC to make such changes.

“This OPIC statement of policy is a welcomed sign of United States support for Greece and its economic recovery,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “After attending a White House roundtable last August with Greek-American leaders to discuss efforts to assist Greece during its financial crisis, I joined Rep. Gus Bilirakis in a letter to OPIC President & CEO Elizabeth Littlefield inquiring as to the agency’s capacity to attract foreign investment to Greece. I want to thank President Littlefield for her willingness to find ways OPIC could support capital investment in Greece in light of the country’s extraordinary financial circumstances. This document will be invaluable to Greek Americans and others who wish to do business in Greece with a focus on economic development. I am also proud to commend the American Hellenic Institute for bringing this potential opportunity to the forefront. The U.S. Government has strongly supported, and must continue to support, Greece as it works to rebound from its economic crisis and this creative step with OPIC, benefiting both investors and the Greek people, will help achieve that goal.”

Following an August 6, 2015 roundtable discussion with Greek-American Leaders, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Caroline Atkinson, and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss efforts to assist Greece during its financial crisis, the Congresswoman released a letter co-authored with Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), encouraging the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to explore ways in which it can actively encourage investment in Greece to stimulate economic growth and stability.

 “Our role as co-chairs of the Hellenic Caucus is to meaningfully enhance the US-Greece relationship in a way that mutually benefits both nations. Greece has always been an important geostrageic ally of the U.S. sitting at a crossroads to the Middle East where ongoing hostilities threaten peace in the region. That is why it all the more important for Greece to remain a steady and reliable partner in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “Encouraging private investment in Greece is an excellent way to ensure economic stability through job creation and revenue generation for a nation in dire need of relief. Greece is working to free itself from economic volatility, and anything we can do to spur private investment through OPIC will significantly help our steadfast ally and well serve the United States and our EU allies.”

“We congratulate Rep. Carolyn Maloney and her staff for their diligence and hard work over the last year as they continued bringing Greece to the forefront and engaging with OPIC to underscore the importance of the agency’s ability to operate in Greece,” AHI president Nick Larigakis stated. “This provides opportunities to attract potential U.S. investors at a time when Greece is struggling economically and when investment is critical to Greece’s growth and its ability to emerge from this financial crisis.”

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