A day in Organi, the poorest village in Greece

Source: Ekathimerini

In the village of Organi, in Rhodope, northern Greece, a Greek coffee cost just 50 cents but there are few places left where you can purchase one.

Only 501 residents remain there, and according to the tax office’s latest figures, it is the poorest village in the country.

Organi is located some 40 kilometers from the city of Komotini and the majority of its residents are Muslims, who prefer to be called Greek Muslims rather than by their ethnic title, Pomaks.

The road to the village meanders through beautiful woods and small fields of tobacco, which is the village’s main source of income.

The only other source is pensions, and in many cases entire families live off the pension of just one person.

Some money trickles in from abroad too, as a good many residents have found jobs in the Netherlands and wire money back home to support their families.

“I make about 3,000 euros a year from tobacco and with the subsidies this amount can reach about 5,000 euros,” 39-year-old Ismail Kulauz, a father of two, told Kathimerini.

“This is more or less all the money we have to live on each year. How do we get by? First of all, most people here have a vegetable garden — tomatoes, potatoes, beans. We spend very little money on food.

But, after paying social security benefits, fuel and other bills, there is very little cash left over. However, we somehow survive. I don’t buy new toys for the girls; we’ll borrow them from neighbors with older kids. You see, we all try to help one another.”

The men of the village who don’t work in the tobacco fields gather at the main square. The local school is nearby and there is a minibus which is used to bring in students from other villages.

There is also an ambulance parked on the square that is driven by a local volunteer in case of emergencies.

In the past, Organi’s young men would try to get jobs as seasonal farm workers in the Netherlands, but this option is no longer as easy as it once was.

“There is no future here. Most of us want to stay because this is our homeland, but the younger generation will be leaving en masse,” according to 20-year-old Hadji Arif Sedat, who we met at a local cafe, which has a television for screening soccer games and a foosball table.

It costs 50 cents for an hour at the foosball table and a bottle of beer costs 1.20 euros. Women do not visit the establishment, as it is frowned upon by the local Muslim community.

Other than this cafe, for entertainment, there are another three, as well as a taverna and a sandwich shop.

“You have to go to Komotini to have fun, but we can’t afford to pay for gas so we just end up hanging out here,” said Sedat, who is a student at the University of Istanbul.

The reason he chose Turkey for his studies, he said, was that it was the cheaper option. “I live in a dorm and the money I need there is a lot less than I would need if I studied in Komotini.”

Unlike the older men in the cafe, who have a more demure stance toward their relationship with the state, one young man is more vehement.

“Things are a little better today than they were in the past, when the Muslim population was often discriminated against because of political reasons. The things that we need today have to do with improving our quality of life.

We have been promised a dam or some kind of infrastructure to help irrigate the fields because this is a dry area and that affects production.

Before every election, we have a parade of politicians, but afterward, it’s like they just erase us from the map,” said Ahmet Hadjisarif as he offered us a hand-rolled cigarette containing local tobacco.

“Try it. It’s like this place: harsh but something we can call our own.”

Greek Orthodox Church divided over Golden Dawn

Source: digitaljournal

By Katerina Nikolas

The surging popularity of Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi) has prompted expressions of both support and opposition from representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Members of ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn recently protested against the performance of Terrence McNally’s controversial play Corpus Christ in Athens. Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros denounced the play as “blasphemous.”

Golden Dawn also advocated for and supported the arrest of a 27-year-old Greek man for blasphemy following Facebook comments they deemed “abuse, mocks and tries to humiliate the sacred form of the Greek Orthodox, Elder Paisios.”

Golden Dawn support patriotism, nationalism and the Greek Orthodox Church. Members of the church have now begun to speak publicly about the party, with church representatives divided in their opinions.

According to Gr. Reporter Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista has received threats from Golden Dawn after describing the party as “uncivilised” when it protested the McNally play. He took a clear position, saying “We all have to take a clear stand on the Golden Dawn issue… we have to preach the word of God, which has nothing to do with the acts committed by members of Golden Dawn.”

Protho Thema reported the Metropolitan Ambrosius of Kalavryta issued a 13 point statement expressing friendly feelings towards Golden Dawn. He said “I can not understand how and why the ideas of the Golden Dawn are subversive,” as he questioned why the dangerous ideas of SYRIZA and the KKE (Communist party) and not considered subversive.

Ambrosius went on to say that the “treacherous media….project and magnify any excesses of Golden Dawn” whilst remaining silent on the exploits of SYRIZA, recalling the hooded anarchists responsible for burning the Athens bank, resulting in the deaths of three bank employees.

Even as Ambrosius stressed “as Bishop, I have the right to belong to a political party of the entire political spectrum, from the far left to the far right” other Bishops spoke out against the political involvement of the church. Ethnos reported Archbishop Jerome of Athens declared the church does not allow any political party, left or right, to take its support. He also sent the clear message that “the Church does not need protectors and saviors.”

Golden Dawn released a statement saying it had never taken on the “role of protector of the Church.”

INVITATIONS TO MACEDONIAN EVENTS-ΠΡΟΣΚΛΗΣΕΙΣ ΣΕ ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΙΚΕΣ ΕΚΔΗΛΩΣΕΙΣ

Macedonian Invitation for Friday 2 November 2012 Chalcidice talk

Macedonian Invitation for Sunday 4 November 2012 Thessalonike talk.pdf

Macedonian Celebrations & Demetria 2012 Festival program Greek guide-Update 5 Oct.pdf

Macedonian Celebrations & Demetria 2012 Festival program English guide-Update 5 Oct.pdf

Αγαπητοί φίλοι

Στα πλαίσια των Μακεδονικών εκδηλώσεων “Δημήτρια 2012”, σας αποστέλνουμε 2 προσκλήσεις για τις τελευταίες ομιλίες που θα γίνουν την ερχόμενη εβδομάδα και όλοι είστε προσκεκλημένοι. Θα χαρούμε να μας τιμήσετε με την παρουσία σας!!

Σας αποστέλνουμε και όλο το πρόγραμμα (στα Ελληνικά και Αγγλικά) των Μακεδονικών Εκδηλώσεων για τα 100 χρόνια της απελευθέρωσης της Θεσσαλονίκης και της δυτικής Μακεδονίας (1912-2012) καθώς υπάρχουν και άλλες εκδηλώσεις στο υπόλοιπο διάστημα ως το τέλος του χρόνου με την λήξη του Α’ κύκλου για την επιλογή σας και παρουσία σας και σε αυτές.

Σας ευχαριστούμε πολύ

Ο Συντονιστής των Μακεδονικών Εκδηλώσεων “Δημήτρια 2012”

——————————————————

Dear All

In the cultural framework of the Macedonian Celebrations “Dimitria 2102” Festival, I am sending you 2 invitations for the last in a series of talks this coming week and you are all invited to these. We will be very happy to see you and honoured by your presence!!

We are also sending you the whole programme (Greek and English) of the Macedonian Celebrations for the 100 years of the liberation of Thessalonike city and western Macedonia (1912-2012) as there are other events until the end of the year in this 1st cycle of events for your perusal and presence as well.

Thank you

Macedonian Celebrations “Dimitria 2012” Coordinator

.

ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΙΚΕΣ ΕΚΔΗΛΩΣΕΙΣ «Δημήτρια 2012»


Γιορτασμοί για τα 100 χρόνια απελευθέρωσης της Θεσσαλονίκης και της δυτικής Μακεδονίας, 1912-2012

Ομιλία στα Ελληνικά του Δικηγόρου και ομογενειακού παράγοντα
Ιωάννη Θεοδωρίδη


με θέμα:
«Η Θεσσαλονίκη κατά την εκατονταετηρίδα, 1912-2012»
Κυριακή 4 Νοεμβρίου 2012
Μακεδονική Λέσχη του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου, 160 Livingstone rd, Marrickville
Ώρα προσέλευσης: 7.00μμ

για έναρξη στις 7.30μμ
Όλοι ευπρόσδεκτοι-Είσοδος ελεύθερη
Στο τέλος θα προσφερθούν καφές και γλυκίσματα
——————————————————–
MACEDONIAN CELEBRATIONS
“Dimitria 2012” Festival
Celebrations for the 100 years of liberation of Thessalonike & western Macedonia, 1912-2012
INVITATION
Lecture in Greek from Ioannis Theodoridis, lawyer and member of many Greek associations:
“Thessaloniki city during the centenary of 1912-2012”
Sunday 4 November 2012
Macedonian Club of Alexander the Great, 160 Livingstone, Marrickville
7.00pm gathering for 7.30pm start. All welcomed-Free entry
Πληροφορίες/Information: 0414 714 807 or macedonianfestivalsydney@yahoo.com.au

THERE ARE SOME THINGS I REALLY LOVE ABOUT GREECE

Source: intelligentlife.gr

Ακούγεται πολύ τον τελευταίο καιρό το όνομά του, καθώς το ‘Rebranding Greece’ τάραξε τα λιμνάζοντα νερά της ελληνικής πραγματικότητας. Η Κατερίνα Ξυδάκη και ο Κωνσταντίνος Παπατριανταφύλλου συναντούν τον αεικίνητο Peter Economides
Peter, ο κόσµος σε ξέρει σαν ένα πολύ επιτυχηµένο διαφηµιστή παγκοσµίως. Τι κάνεις στην Ελλάδα αυτή τη στιγµή, γιατί παραµένεις εδώ, σε µία από τις χειρότερες για τη χώρα περίοδο;

Είχα την τύχη, νέος σχετικά, να φτάσω αρκετά ψηλά στα διεθνή δίκτυα της διαφήµισης, πρώτα µε την McCann Erickson και µετά µε την TΒWA. Μια µέρα -ήµουν 44 χρονών- ήρθα εδώ, ρώτησα τον εαυτό µου πού ήθελα να ζήσω το υπόλοιπο της ζωής µου και απάντησα στην Ελλάδα! Για µένα, η επιλογή αυτή έχει να κάνει µε το πώς αισθάνοµαι µέσα µου για ένα µέρος, την έµπνευση που αντλώ από αυτό. Εξάλλου, έχω ελληνική καταγωγή, είχα ανέκαθεν µια ιδιαίτερη σχέση µε την Ελλάδα. Πριν ζούσα στη Νέα Υόρκη, όπου ο τρόπος ζωής είναι τελείως διαφορετικός, οι ρυθµοί εξαντλητικοί, εδώ τα πράγµατα είναι πιο ανθρώπινα… Το πρώτο πράγµα που έκανα λοιπόν όταν πήρα αυτή την απόφαση ήταν να µάθω ιστιοπλοΐα, να µπορώ να απολαµβάνω τις ελληνικές θάλασσες.

Στην αρχή έµεινα στην Πλάκα, µετά στην Καστέλα και τελικά κατέληξα εδώ, στη Βούλα, όπου θεωρώ απίστευτη τύχη ότι το σπίτι µου βρίσκεται δίπλα στη θάλασσα και ότι κάθοµαι στο µπαλκόνι µου και απολαµβάνω αυτή τη µοναδική θέα! Άλλωστε, τώρα πια, σε όποιο µέρος και να ζει κανείς έχει την ίδια πρόσβαση σε δεδοµένα, αγορές κλπ. Το πιο σηµαντικό είναι να αισθάνεται καλά, γιατί τότε µόνο έρχεται η έµπνευση, η δηµιουργία, η επιτυχία…

Η αλήθεια είναι ότι ακόµα και όταν έφτασε η κρίση στην Ελλάδα δεν σκέφτηκα ούτε για µια στιγµή να φύγω από εδώ, αυτό που σκέφτηκα όµως είναι το τι θα κάνω µε αυτό που έχω µπροστά µου, πώς θα το αντιµετωπίσω! Έκανα κάποια µεγάλα ανοίγµατα στο εξωτερικό και συνεχίζω να κάνω, αλλά η βάση µου πλέον είναι εδώ, στην Ελλάδα, µε πολλά ταξίδια φυσικά σε όλον τον κόσµο. Είµαι τυχερός που έχω ταξιδέψει πολύ και έχω τη δυνατότητα να συνεχίζω να το κάνω, γιατί τα ταξίδια σου  ανοίγουν το µυαλό, τους ορίζοντες.

 

Αςπάµεστο Rebranding Greece. Από µια παρουσίαση στην ΕΕΔΕ κατέληξε να γίνει talk of the town του χειµώνα!

Έχω κάνει πολλή δουλειά όλα αυτά τα χρόνια µε µάρκες όπως η Apple, η Coca Cola, η Nestle, η Unilever, έχω επηρεάσει εκατοµµύρια ανθρώπους στη ζωή µου ανά τον κόσµο, αλλά πραγµατικά, ακόµα και για µένα, όλο αυτό ήταν τεράστια έκπληξη. Με είχαν καλέσει στην ΕΕΔΕ σαν οµιλητή, όπου πήγα απλά για να µιλήσω γι’ αυτό που ξέρω, το branding και την Ελλάδα, όχι για να επηρεάσω κάποιους, ή να λανσάρω κάτι.

Τότε η Ελλάδα ήταν σε µια πολύ περίεργη φάση, ήταν η εποχή του ανοιχτού τσακωµού του Γιώργου Παπανδρέου µε τον Αντώνη Σαµαρά, όπου τους έβλεπα στην τηλεόραση και σκεφτόµουν ότι αυτό που γινόταν ήταν ανεκδιήγητο! Εκείνη την περίοδο µας παρακολουθούσαν εκατοµµύρια άνθρωποι και συνεχίζουν να µας παρακολουθούν και πρέπει να συνειδητοποιήσουµε όλοι ότι αυτή η απαράδεκτη, για περίοδο κρίσης, συµπεριφορά δύο πολιτικών αρχηγών διαµορφώνει µάρκα, γιατί µάρκα είναι η φήµη που έχεις! Πήγα λοιπόν στην ΕΕΔΕ χωρίς σκοπό να επηρεάσω κανέναν άλλον εκτός από τους παρευρισκοµένους, συγχρόνως όµως ήµουν και θυµωµένος µε αυτό που γινόταν!

Η ΕΕΔΕ πήρε την οµιλία µετά και την ανέβασε στο YouTube και έτσι είδα την απήχηση που είχε όλο αυτό, το οποίο έγινε πιο µεγάλο από εµένα, πιο µεγάλο από αυτό που περίµενα! Τελικά πήρε τον δρόµο του, µε τη βοήθεια πάντα των social media, που αυτή τη στιγµή έχουν τεράστια δύναµη. Γενικά όµως πιστεύω ότι η δύναµη του Rebranding Greece ήταν ότι η παρουσίαση ήταν εξαιρετικά απλή για να την καταλαβαίνουν όλοι, και συγχρόνως απόλυτα στοχευµένη. Εδώ πρέπει να αναφέρω ότι αγαπάω πολύ αυτό που κάνω, παθιάζοµαι, δίνω τον εαυτό µου κάθε φορά, προσπαθώ να βλέπω πάντα την ουσία των πραγµάτων και όχι την επιφάνεια. Επίσης, θέλω αυτό που παρουσιάζω κάθε φορά να είναι τέλειο, να εµπνέει, το ψάχνω µέχρι την τελευταία στιγµή, καθώς είναι κάτι “ζωντανό” που βρίσκεται συνεχώς σε εξέλιξη, διαµορφώνεται…

 

Νοµίζω πάντως ότι οι περισσότεροι Έλληνες είναι προβληµατισµένοι που αυτή την κρίσιµη για τη χώρα περίοδο δεν βλέπουµε πολλούς οραµατιστές. Όλοι µιλάνε για λύση, αλλά τη λύση πρέπει να την εµπνευστεί κάποιος, να πιστέψουµε σε ένα όραµα!

Η αλήθεια είναι ότι αυτό που γίνεται στην Ελλάδα δεν είναι τοπικό φαινόµενο, είναι παγκόσµιο. Υπάρχει έλλειψη οράµατος σε όλον τον κόσµο. Tα πράγµατα δεν είναι καθόλου καλά για το υπάρχον σύστηµα. Είναι αυτό που εγώ λέω “the big disconnect”, πράγµατα δεν συνδέονται πια, όπως παραγωγή και κατανάλωση, τράπεζες και δανειολήπτες, κυβερνήσεις και λαοί, κλπ. Το περίεργο είναι ότι αυτή η “disconnectivity” συµβαίνει σε ένα περιβάλλον που υπάρχει πιο ανεπτυγµένη “connectivity” και γι’ αυτό ακριβώς έχει συµβεί όλο αυτό, γιατί πλέον υπάρχουν τα social media, υπάρχει επικοινωνία, υπάρχει interactivity, βλέπουµε από άλλους, βλέπουν και οι άλλοι από εµάς, επηρεαζόµαστε, αντιδράµε! Δείτε Wall Street, Αίγυπτο, Τυνησία, Iσπανία, Ελλάδα…ΣΥΝΕΧΕΙΑ ΣΤΗΝ ΕΝΤΥΠΗ ΕΚΔΟΣΗ ΤΕΥΧΟΣ

 

 

Leader of the opposition Tony Abbott has reaffirmed the coalition’s support of negotiations between Greece and Australia on a reciprocal Work and Holiday Visa

Abbott reaffirms support to Greek community

Abbott reaffirms support to Greek community

Bill Papastergiadis, GOCMV president with Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition.

Leader of the opposition Tony Abbott has reaffirmed the coalition’s support of negotiations between Greece and Australia on a reciprocal Work and Holiday Visa in meeting held with the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria.

Mr Abbott and his chief advisor, met with President Bill Papastergiadis and GOCMV board members Kostas Tsoubakos and Nick Parthimos, where they discussed a range of issues pertaining to the Greek community in Australia.

They discussed community funding acknowledging further work needed to be undertaken to more efficiently allocate government resources to specifically target those Greek Australians most in need.

In particular, the need of a case officer to assist with Greek Australians returning to Australia and additional funding of an employee dealing with the Antipodes Language and Cultural Centre. Mr Abbott was sympathetic to explore how the Coalition can encourage the significant number of Greek speaking students to continue their Greek language education throughout their secondary schooling.

At the meeting, the GOCMV thanked Mr Abbott for his bipartisan support of the recent Federal Government grant of $2 million towards the new 14 Level GOCMV Cultural Centre to be built on Lonsdale Street.

They provided Mr Abbott with an update on the progress of the project and also invited him to attend next year’s Antipodes Festival.

Mr Abbott took on board the issues and needs of the Greek community, as expressed in the meeting, and said he was committed to further meetings between his office and the GOCMV and shadow cabinet to find a resolution for these issues.

He said he was committed to assisting Greek Australians and even looked towards his own ministry with the shadow cabinet position held by Sophie Mirabella and the parliamentary secretary position held by Arthur Sinodinos.

The men of Ikaria are four times likelier to live past 90

Source: NYTimes

The island devoid of death

The island devoid of death

The beautiful island of Ikaria: home to many centenarians.

10,000 islanders in Greece have a statistically better chance than you of living past 90. Most of them drink three glasses of wine a day, they smoke and some have even seen cancer disappear.

That is the anomaly of the people of Ikaria. Of course the usual suspects are there: the healthiness of the Mediterranean diet and more active lifestyles in the villages.

But in Ikaria, the Greek way of life was somehow sustaining them much longer than their city and island counterparts.

Ilias Leriadis, one of the island’s few GPs, says the strange frequency of longevity comes down to the local daily routine.

“People stay up late here,” Leriadis said. “We wake up late and always take naps. I don’t even open my office until 11 am because no one comes before then.” And the stress of being late is non existent. “Have you noticed that no one wears a watch here?” Mr Leriadis says.

“No clock is working correctly. When you invite someone to lunch, they might come at 10 am or 6 pm We simply don’t care about the clock here.”

Local Stamatis Moraitis has much to be thank his island home for. After the war, Moraitis found himself in America, seeking treatment for a war related injury. He later stayed, got married and had two children. Life was good and Moraitis was happy.

But luck would change for him. In 1976, he noticed he would struggle going up the stairs of his house. Confused he went to his doctor. Sadly, the results weren’t good. Moraitis had lung cancer. He was only given nine months to live. He was in his mid-sixties. He considered getting treatment, but decided against it.

With the high costs of funerals in America, he decided to move back to his island village, to be buried in his hometown by the sea.

Three and a half decades later, without any medical treatment, he’s 97 years old and cancer free. At 97, he shows no signs of dementia, he’s able and healthy. It has been found that Ikarian men in particular are nearly four times as likely as their American counterparts to reach 90 and are often in better health.

They suffered less depression and had about a quarter the rate of dementia. Studies found that Ikarians “consumed about six times as many beans a day as Americans, ate fish twice a week and meat five times a month, drank on average two to three cups of coffee a day and took in about a quarter as much refined sugar – the elderly did not like soda.”

They were also consuming high levels of olive oil along with two to four glasses of wine a day.

Their diet, mixed with the social nature of the island, and the simple way of living created the best form of longevity. As one of the locals puts it, “we just forget to die.”

Mass evacuations as US prepares for mega-storm Hurricane Sandy

Οχυρώνεται η Νέα Υόρκη έναντι του κυκλώνα «Σάντι»

Από το πέρασμα του Σάντι

Από το πέρασμα του Σάντι στο Buxton. Φώτο: ΑΑP via AP/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley

Με υποχρεωτική εκκένωση παράκτιων περιοχών στη Νέα Υόρκη, κλείσιμο σχολειών, δημόσιων χώρων και αναστολή κυκλοφορίας μέσων μεταφοράς, οχυρώνεται η πόλη έναντι του κυκλώνα Σάντι ο οποίος θα χτυπήσει σήμερα  με τους μετεωρολόγους να προβλέπουν ότι θα φέρει ισχυρούς ανέμους ή και πλημμύρες. Ανοιχτό παραμένει το αεροδρόμιο, μειωμένες όμως οι πτήσεις λόγω ακυρώσεων, κυρίως σε πτήσεις εσωτερικού.

Όπως ανακοίνωσε ο δήμαρχος Μάικλ Μπλούμπεργκ, τα σχολεία θα παραμείνουν τη Δευτέρα κλειστά ενώ κάποιες παράκτιες περιοχές της πόλης θα εκκενωθούν υποχρεωτικά λόγω της Σάντι.

Το μέτρο αφορά 375.000 ανθρώπους που κατοικούν στην Ζώνη Α της Νέας Υόρκης, ανέφερε ο δήμαρχος, περιοχή που περιλαμβάνει και το Μανχάταν.

Τη στιγμή της υψηλής παλίρροιας, η άνοδος των υδάτων μπορεί να φτάσει τα 3,3 μέτρα στον πορθμό του Λονγκ Άιλαντ και τον κόλπο της Νέας Υόρκης, από τις πλέον πυκνοκατοικημένες περιοχές της ακτής των ΗΠΑ, προειδοποιούν οι Αρχές.

Εν τω μεταξύ, διακόπτεται από τις 19:00 τοπική ώρα η λειτουργία του δικτύου των δημόσιων μέσων μεταφοράς, συμπεριλαμβανομένου του μετρό, για προληπτικούς λόγους εν αναμονή της άφιξης του τυφώνα Σάντι, ανακοίνωσε ο κυβερνήτης της πολιτείας Άντριου Κουόμο.

Εκτός από το μετρό, οι Αρχές αποφάσισαν επίσης να κλείσουν τα πάρκα, οι παιδικές χαρές και οι πλαζ.

Το αεροδρόμιο της Νέας Υόρκης θα παραμείνει ανοιχτό την Κυριακή, σύμφωνα με τις Αρχές, πολλές πτήσεις (κυρίως εσωτερικές) που ήταν προγραμματισμένες για τη Δευτέρα έχουν ήδη ακυρωθεί.

«Αν γυρίσει και απομακρυνθεί, τόσο το καλύτερο. Πραγματικά θα είναι πολύ καλά. Αλλά αν όχι, εμείς θα είμαστε προετοιμασμένοι γι’αυτό», σημείωσε ο Κουόμο.

Τα δημόσια μέσα μεταφοράς αναμένεται να ξαναρχίσουν να λειτουργούν περίπου 12 ώρες μετά το τέλος της καταιγίδας, διευκρίνισαν άλλοι αξιωματούχοι στην συνέντευξη Τύπου.

Όπως ακόμη έγινε γνωστό, εκατοντάδες πτήσεις ακυρώθηκαν την Κυριακή στα αεροδρόμια της Νέας Υόρκης όπως και σε άλλες πόλεις στην ανατολική ακτή της χώρας καθώς πλησιάζει ο τυφώνας Σάντι.

Η Air France ακύρωσε όλες τις πτήσεις της που προβλέπονταν για τη Δευτέρα προς τη Νέα Υόρκη και την Ουάσιγκτον, την ώρα που αμερικανικές αεροπορικές εταιρείες έχουν ακυρώσει εκατοντάδες εσωτερικές πτήσεις.

ΜΕΓΑΛΗ ΠΙΘΑΝΟΤΗΤΑ ΚΑΤΑΣΤΡΟΦΩΝ

Οι μετεωρολόγοι εκτιμούν ότι υπάρχει μεγάλη πιθανότητα για ισχυρή βροχόπτωση και ανέμους μεγάλης έντασης ακόμα και για χιονόπτωση κατά μήκος της πυκνοκατοικημένης ανατολικής ακτής των ΗΠΑ.

Κίνδυνος υπάρχει και για το εσωτερικό, μακριά από τις ακτές, κυρίως εξαιτίας από τις βροχοπτώσεις που μπορεί να προκαλέσουν πλημμύρες, διακοπές ρεύματος και άλλα προβλήματα που αναμένεται –αν φυσικά συμβούν- να επηρεάσουν εκατομμύρια ανθρώπους.

Εκατομμύρια άνθρωποι ζουν σε περιοχές που κινδυνεύουν να πλημμυρίσουν όταν η Σάντι φτάσει στην ανατολική ακτή προειδοποίησε σχετικά ο διευθυντής του Αμερικανικού Κέντρου Παρατήρησης Τυφώνων (NHC).

«Μην βασίζεστε στο γεγονός ότι αυτός είναι ένας κυκλώνας κατηγορίας 1 (δηλαδή της χαμηλότερης από όλους) στην κλίμακα της πεντάβαθμης κλίμακας Saffir-Simpson, προειδοποίησε, εξηγώντας ότι καλύπτει μια τεράστια περιοχή και αντιπροσωπεύει έναν πραγματικό κίνδυνο.

Τον Οκτώβριο του 1991, σημειώνεται, μια τεράστια καταιγίδα είχε προκαλέσει το θάνατο 13 ατόμων και ζημιές 200 εκατομμυρίων δολαρίων. «Όμως τότε οι ισχυρότεροι άνεμοι είχαν περιοριστεί στη νότια Νέα Αγγλία», σημειώνει μέλος του NHC. Με την «Σάντι», η περιοχή που θα πληγεί θα είναι πολύ μεγαλύτερη και οι ζημιές θα μπορούσαν να ανέλθουν σε δισεκατομμύρια δολάρια, εκτίμησε.

ΠΟΛΙΤΙΚΕΣ ΕΠΙΠΛΟΚΕΣ

Πέρα από τις κοινωνικές και οικονομικές επιπτώσεις, η επικείμενη άφιξη της «Σάντι» στις ανατολικές ακτές των ΗΠΑ δημιουργεί κίνδυνο για την συμμετοχή στην ψηφοφορία, κυρίως για τους εκλογείς που είναι αποφασισμένοι να ψηφίσουν εκ των προτέρων, δήλωσε ένας από τους βασικούς συμβούλους της προεκλογικής εκστρατείας του Μπαράκ Ομπάμα.

«Θέλουμε προφανώς μια απρόσκοπτη πρόσβαση στα εκλογικά κέντρα, επειδή πιστεύουμε ότι όσο περισσότεροι άνθρωποι ψηφίσουν, τόσο καλύτερο θα είναι το αποτέλεσμά μας», δήλωσε στο CNN ο Ντέιβιντ Αξελροντ και πρόσθεσε ότι «στο βαθμό που ο τυφώνας περιπλέκει τα πράγματα, αυτό είναι μια πηγή ανησυχίας».

Ο κυκλώνας Σάντι έχει ήδη διαταράξει το πρόγραμμα των δύο υποψηφίων ενώ απομένουν εννέα ημέρες για τις εκλογές, αναγκάζοντάς τους να ακυρώσουν δημόσιες συγκεντρώσεις σε πολιτείες που ενδέχεται να επηρεαστούν.

Ο πρόεδρος Ομπάμα ακύρωσε τις προγραμματισμένες δημόσιες συγκεντρώσεις την Δευτέρα στην Βιρτζίνια και την Τρίτη στο Κολοράντο για να μείνει στον Λευκό Οίκο και να παρακολουθεί την κατάσταση.

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Mass evacuations as US prepares for mega-storm Hurricane Sandy

Superstorm

This NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Sandy off the Mid Atlantic coastline moving toward the north. Picture: AP

NEW York authorities have ordered the evacuation of 375,000 people from low-lying coastal areas as the imminent arrival of Hurricane Sandy forces the entire eastern seaboard into lockdown mode.

Hundreds of thousands of residents in low-lying coastal areas are under orders to clear out and an AFP reporter said the beach resort of Rehoboth in Delaware was a ghost town as the deadline passed for mandatory evacuation.

Forecasters warned that New York Harbour and the Long Island Sound could see seawater surges of up to 3.35 metres above normal levels.

“This one will do us in”

Superstorm

Mark Palazzolo, owner of a bait and tackle shop on the Manasquan Inlet in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, sits next to wood he has used to board up his business in previous major storms. He said, “I think this is going to do us in.” Picture: Wayne Parry

Meanwhile one scared New Jersey resident’s words echo a growing atmosphere of fear as hurricane Sandy approaches: “I think this one going to do us in.”

Mark Palazzolo, who boarded up his bait-and-tackle shop in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, with the same wood he used in past storms, crossed out the names of Hurricanes Isaac and Irene and spray-painting “Sandy” next to them.

Frankenstorm Sandy

Frankenstorm Sandy

Snow storms, storm surges and power outages are all going to be massive as hurricane Sandy moves across the eastern coast of America

“I got a call from a friend of mine from Florida last night who said, ‘Mark. Get out! If it’s not the storm, it’ll be the aftermath. People are going to be fighting in the streets over gasoline and food.”’

America prepares

Many big cities from Washington to Boston are bracing for the onslaught of a superstorm that could menace 50 million people. And New York is directly in the firing line.

Forecasters warned that the megastorm could wreak havoc over 1300km from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. States of emergency were declared from North Carolina to Connecticut.

Stores have been emptied of bottled water and emergency supplies as residents prepare for possible power outages and disruptions to transport and services.

Superstorm

A shopper finds the bread shelves empty at a Supermarket in Manhattan Sunday. Picture: AP

 

Transport disrupted as Hurricane Sandy approaches

Qantas has been forced to cancel flights between Los Angeles and New York because of the looming storm.

Airlines canceled more than 7400 flights and Amtrak began suspending passenger train service across the Northeast. New York and Philadelphia moved to shut down their subways, buses and commuter trains Sunday night and announced that schools would be closed. Boston, Washington and Baltimore also called off school.

Grand central station

MTA Police watch over as the last people are cleared out of Grand Central Station in New York. Picture: AFP/ Timothy A Clary

At least twice as many train passengers as usual crowded the Amtrak waiting area Sunday morning at New York’s Penn Station. Many were trying to leave New York earlier than planned.

The noon and 1pm trains to Boston were sold out.

Ambulance evacuation

Ambulances line up near the Hoboken University Medical Center, where patients were evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy. Picture: AP /Julio Cortez

“We were told to get the heck out. I was going to stay, but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Hugh Phillips, who was one of the first in line when a Red Cross shelter in Lewes, Delaware, opened at noon.

Randall Ross, a bookseller from Shreveport, Louisiana, and his traveling companion, Mary McCombs, were waiting for an Amtrak train to Syracuse, the destination they chose after attempts to book flights through eight other cities failed.

“I just want to be somewhere else except New York City,” said McCombs, who will stay with friends in Syracuse until she and Ross can get a flight. “I don’t want to risk it.”

“Nature’s going to what it’s going to do

Despite the dire warnings, some souls were refusing to budge.

Jonas Clark of Manchester Township, New Jersey – right in the area where Sandy was projected to come ashore – stood outside a convenience store, calmly sipping a coffee and wondering why people were working themselves “into a tizzy.”

“I’ve seen a lot of major storms in my time, and there’s nothing you can do but take reasonable precautions and ride out things the best you can,” said Clark, 73. “Nature’s going to what it’s going to do. It’s great that there’s so much information out there about what you can do to protect yourself and your home, but it all boils down basically to ‘use your common sense’.”

Closing doors

As rain from the leading edges of the monster hurricane began to fall over the Northeast, tens of thousands of people in coastal areas from Maryland to Connecticut were under orders to clear out Sunday. That earlier included 50,000 in Delaware alone and 30,000 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where the city’s 12 casinos were forced to shut down for only the fourth time in the 34-year history of legalised gambling there.

 

New York crisis map

But New York remains the centre of attention.

Authorities warned that the biggest US city could get hit with an 3.35m wall of water that could swamp parts of lower Manhattan, flood subway tunnels and cripple the network of electrical and communications lines that are vital to the nation’s financial center.

New York called off school today for the city’s 1.1 million students and announced it would suspend all train, bus and subway service Sunday night because of the risk of flooding, shutting down a system on which more than 5 million riders a day depend.

 

Hurricane Sandy hits New York

The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will be closed completely Monday and possibly even Tuesday due to the imminent arrival of Hurricane Sandy, its operator said.

“In consultation with other exchanges and market participants, NYSE Euronext (NYX) will close its markets on Monday, October 29, 2012 and pending confirmation on Tuesday, October 30, 2012,” the operator said in a statement.

Earlier, the NYSE planned to suspend only floor operations, but continue electronic trading.

“We support the consensus of the markets and the regulatory community that the dangerous conditions developing as a result of Hurricane Sandy will make it extremely difficult to ensure the safety of our people and communities, and safety must be our first priority,” NYSE Euronext pointed out, after revising its earlier decision.

 

Frankenstorm

Officials also postponed today’s reopening of the Statue of Liberty, which had been closed for a year for $30 million in renovations.

Political response

In Washington, President Barack Obama promised the government would “respond big and respond fast” after the storm hits.

 

Obama Superstorm

President Barack Obama speaks during a briefing at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters. Picture: AP

“My message to the governors as well as to the mayors is anything they need, we will be there, and we will cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules,” he said.

He also pleaded for neighborliness: “In times like this, one of the things that Americans do is we pull together and we help out one another And so, there may be elderly populations in your area. Check on your neighbor, check on your friend. Make sure that they are prepared. If we do, then we’re going to get through this storm just fine.”

The storm forced the president and Republican rival Mitt Romney to rearrange their campaign schedules in the crucial closing days of the presidential race. And early voting today in Maryland was canceled.

Sandy’s movements

Timeline: What to expect from Hurricane Sandy

Shelters across the region began taking in people.

 

Storm Tracker

Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 120km/h was blamed for 65 deaths in the Caribbean before it began churning up the Eastern Seaboard. It is currently centered about 850km southeast of New York City, moving at 24km/h, with hurricane-force winds extending an incredible 280km/h from its center, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Sandy was expected to hook left toward the mid-Atlantic coast and come ashore late Monday or early Tuesday US time, most likely in New Jersey, colliding with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic.

Forecasters said the monster combination could bring close to 30cm of rain, a potentially lethal storm surge and punishing winds extending hundreds of kilometres outward from the storm’s center. It could also dump up to 60cm of snow in Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Superstorm Sandy

High winds blow sea foam onto Jeanette’s Pier in Nags Head, N.C. as wind and rain from Hurricane Sandy move into the area. Picture: AP

Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that given Sandy’s east-to-west track into New Jersey, the worst of the storm surge could be just to the north, in New York City, Long Island and northern New Jersey.

“This is the worst-case scenario,” Uccellini said.