This shopping street in Greece used to be the 10th most expensive in the world — take a look at it now

ermou

When you think of the world’s most prosperous shopping streets, you probably don’t think of Greece.

But before the double whammy of the 2008 financial crisis and 2010-2012 eurozone crisis, Athens was home to some of the most prime retail space on the planet.

In 2012, Joe Weisenthal wrote a post about Ermou, which real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield said was the the world’s 10th most expensive retail space in 2007.

Three years later, I’m staying in a hotel on the exact same street, and like Weisenthal, I never would have guessed this was once such a prosperous area.

The price of retail space in the area has fallen by nearly half since 2007 and it’s lost a lot of its former glory — take a look. by 

I started on the western end of the street, near my hotel — it doesn’t look like this was ever part of the prime retail space.

I started on the western end of the street, near my hotel — it doesn't look like this was ever part of the prime retail space.

There’s a lot of graffiti.

There's a lot of graffiti.
The places at this end of the road certainly weren’t selling high-end goods.
The places at this end of the road certainly weren't selling high-end goods.

But the bars and restaurants on the side streets seem like they’re still doing OK.

But the bars and restaurants on the side streets seem like they're still doing OK.

Some places are shuttered, and look like they have been closed for quite a long time.

Some places are shuttered, and look like they have been closed for quite a long time.

This is a typical view of one of the side streets without any shops or places to eat on it.

This is a typical view of one of the side streets without any shops or places to eat on it.

Monastiraki, a square on the site of a 10th-century monastery, had a great view of the Acropolis.

Monastiraki, a square on the site of a 10th-century monastery, had a great view of the Acropolis.

Even further up the street, toward the prime shopping area, there were buildings that looked like they’d been left alone for a long time.

Even further up the street, toward the prime shopping area, there were buildings that looked like they'd been left alone for a long time.

Some looked like they had some sort of renovation work being done at some point, but there wasn’t much sign of that when I visited.

Some looked like they had some sort of renovation work being done at some point, but there wasn't much sign of that when I visited.

I passed a small ATM queue of Greeks trying to reclaim their deposits too.

I passed a small ATM queue of Greeks trying to reclaim their deposits too.

The Church of Panagia Kapnikarea is in the middle of the street — it’s an intact Byzantine church built in 1050, one of Athens’ oldest.

The Church of Panagia Kapnikarea is in the middle of the street — it's an intact Byzantine church built in 1050, one of Athens' oldest.

There was clearly more activity further up the road, but some stores were still shuttered.

There was clearly more activity further up the road, but some stores were still shuttered.

Weisenthal was shooed away from this Foot Locker in 2012 —but there were a few customers on the day I visited.

Weisenthal was shooed away from this Foot Locker in 2012 —but there were a few customers on the day I visited.

Sprider, a chain of Greek value fashion stores, closed down in 2013. Nothing had replaced this large outlet since then.

Sprider, a chain of Greek value fashion stores, closed down in 2013. Nothing had replaced this large outlet since then.

This Adidas store looked a little more full than when Weisenthal visited, but not much more full.

This Adidas store looked a little more full than when Weisenthal visited, but not much more full.

At the very end of the street you can see Syntagma Square, the focal point of the protests (and sometimes riots) of the last six years.

At the very end of the street you can see Syntagma Square, the focal point of the protests (and sometimes riots) of the last six years.

Plenty of the stores remaining at the most eastern part of the street would be recognisable to people from other countries.

Plenty of the stores remaining at the most eastern part of the street would be recognisable to people from other countries.

A Greek business lobby group says that without a bailout deal, 59 businesses are closing each day in the country.

A Greek business lobby group says that without a bailout deal, 59 businesses are closing each day in the country.

Back in 2007, it cost about $450 per square foot to rent retail space on Ermou, according to Cushman and Wakefield.

Back in 2007, it cost about $450 per square foot to rent retail space on Ermou, according to Cushman and Wakefield.

In their latest report, Ermou costs just $253 per square foot, a decline of nearly 50% from its heyday.

In their latest report, Ermou costs just $253 per square foot, a decline of nearly 50% from its heyday.

Even at this end of the street, some store fronts were pretty much abandoned.

Even at this end of the street, some store fronts were pretty much abandoned.

On a side street at the very eastern end of Ermou, I saw cleaners protesting against low wages.

On a side street at the very eastern end of Ermou, I saw cleaners protesting against low wages.

Will Ultra-Orthodox Jews Handle a Woman on the $10?

A sect that opposes showing female images debates what happens when dollars include women.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are wondering what sects that forbid displaying images of women are to do once a woman unseats Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill.

Haredim are Orthodox Jews who follow a very strict interpretation of Biblical laws and reject much of modern culture, with a minority going so far as to ban public images of women under modesty laws. That won’t be so easy when a woman is on the money they use. The Treasury Department this month announced plan to replace Alexander Hamitlon on the $10 bill by 2020 with that of a woman.

One letter writer posed the question of what the fringe ultra-Orthodox will dowhen the $10 is female to the editor of the Country Vue, a Haredi newspaper in upstate New York.

“Dear Editor, How are they going to handle this one? While we were all wondering how the newspapers will handle it if chas v’shalom Hillary Clinton was elected president and they will not be able to print up the picture of the United States… A new, more immediate problem has come up. What is the ‘frum’ world going to do with the new $10.00 bill once a woman is on the bill? Can they carry the picture or bring it into their house?”

The response was predictably tongue-in-cheek:

“There are two sides to every argument and that is why there are two sides to every dollar bill. I guess from here onward, when counting bills we’ll keep them all upside down.”

Some ultra-Orthodox papers have become notorious worldwide for attempts to erase women world leaders from their pages, pixelating their faces or, in some instances, replacing them with haphazard photoshop jobs of mens’ heads. In the most famous instance, perhaps, Yiddish-language paper Di Tzeitung removed Hillary Clinton from the famous Situation Room photo about Osama bin Laden’s capture.

It later apologized for altering the image despite fine print demanding that it not be altered, but not for re-imagining history.

What is the ‘frum’ world going to do with the new $10.00 bill once a woman is on the bill.

“In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status,” the paper told the Washington Post. “Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.”

More recently, Angela Merkel and other female world leaders disappeared from an image of the free speech march following the Charlie Hebdoattacks, published on the pages of Israeli paper HaMevaser.

Of course, $10 bills are hardly ubiquitous. ATMs typically spit out $20 Jacksons, while $1 Washingtons are easily the most numerous. (The second place honor, surprisingly, goes to $100 Franklins.)

Those whose modesty requirements disallow women can opt for a fistfull of ones instead.

But groups seeking such alternatives are fringe groups, even among the far right.

Most Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews are quick to say women—on money, TV, or in newspapers—don’t pose a problem for them.

Writing for the Five Towns Jewish Times on this subject, Rabbi Yair Hoffman dove into interpretational disputes around what counts as “histaklus”—looking, staring, or ogling—and what that means for what is allowed.

“Most [learned rabbis] seem to learn that it is, in fact, not halachically forbidden to look at pictures of women, but that it is strongly discouraged,” he wrote. “It could very well be that in modern times where there are a plethora of images there really is no concern that someone will go beyond the pale of what is acceptable and start ogling.”

It boils down to an individual interpretation, and the pixilation police are a minority.

“The policy that some haredi papers have in place regarding publishing photographs of women is just that: a company’s policy,” Ari Shafran, a Haredi rabbi who is the director of public affairs for the Agudath Israel organization, said. “There is no prohibition in Jewish religious law against depicting a woman’s face; and, certainly, not on using a product or currency that depicts a woman.”

“Haredim, believe it or not, use pancake mix featuring Aunt Jemima on the box and Canadian currency decorated with Queen Elizabeth,” he added.

Indeed, even Israeli currency has been feminized: Golda Meir, a former prime minister, appears on the 10,000 shekel banknote.

In fact, Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, head of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, is puzzled that the U.S. is so far behind the times.

“I think what’s interesting is why it took so long for it to happen in America, forgetting Judaism for a second,” she said.

Moreover, Weiss-Greenberg says the practice of hiding women is “a very recent innovation”—and one women within communities that practice it have voiced displeasure with.

“Historically, if you look at Yiddish newspapers, and you look at Haredi newspapers, they had pictures of women until very recently, until the last ten years,” she said. “This is a new way of doing things, of erasing women.”

Weiss-Greenberg thinks it may stem from the Jewish custom of occasionally putting up gates near where a transgression may occur.

“It’s this notion that in order to not transgress… we set up certain boundaries so that we don’t even get close to that situation,” she said. “But it’s only supposed to go so far.”

And for the vast majority of Jews, even ultra-Orthodox ones, she says this likely won’t be a problem.

“There’s a very large Haredi population in Israel… and this has not, you know, come up as an issue in recent years, certainly,” she said. “If they have a problem, they can send [the $10] my way.”

Those who do object, however, might do well to start stocking up on Lincolns. That is, if they don’t also object to looking a rasha—or wicked one—in the face.

“We all know it is forbidden to stare at the face of a rasha, and who’s to say that the men on these dollar bills are something to look at?” the Country Vue editor continued. “Get the picture?”

Jellyfish Uses Supercomputing Strategy to Find Food

The barrel jellyfish uses a complex search strategy to locate food, a new study finds.

The barrel jellyfish, isn’t just the largest jelly found in the waters around the United Kingdom, it’s also one of the animal kingdom’s most strategic searchers, according to a new study.

To locate the best possible meal in the vast waters of its marine habitat, the barrel jellyfish (Rhizostoma octopus) uses a strategy most commonly associated with the world’s fastest supercomputers — an approach known as fast simulated annealing.

For mathematicians, fast simulated annealing is an algorithm, implemented by a supercomputer, which can find optimal solutions to complex problems in a relatively short amount of time. For jellyfish, fast simulated annealing is a highly evolved search strategy categorized by a series of predictable movements that bring the jelly closer and closer to large numbers of plankton, its preferred prey.

This complex search strategy has never been observed before in nature, according to study lead author Andy Reynolds, a scientist at Rothamsted Research, an agricultural research center in the U.K.

Yet, other mathematical patterns of movement have been widely observed in the natural world, Reynolds said. The most common of these patterns, the “Lévy walk,” is a less complex version of the barrel jelly’s approach.

“A Lévy walk is random walk in which frequently occurring small steps are interspersed with more rarely occurring longer steps, which in turn are interspersed with even rarer, even longer steps and so on,” Reynolds told Live Science in an email. (The Lévy walk was named after French mathematician Paul Lévy, who was noted for his work in the theory of probability.)

While this may sound like a fairly complex way of searching for something, Reynolds said it’s similar to the way you might search for your lost car keys in the living room sofa and then, not finding them there, head over to the closet to check your coat pocket.

“This hierarchical nested pattern is highly effective when searching because once an area has been intensively surveyed, the searcher is relocated to another area and then begins a new bout of intensive searching,” Reynolds said.

Some of the species that have been observed using Lévy walks to locate their meals include sharks, penguins, honeybees, ants, turtles and even human hunter-gatherers.

But among these many species, the barrel jelly stands out because, in addition to exhibiting this Lévy walk pattern, it also engages several search methods that others species don’t seem to use.

Afghan conflict: At least 7 killed in powerful explosion in Kabul

AP Photo

A Taliban suicide bomber driving a car has targeted a Nato troop convoy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, reportedly killing one civilian and injuring 22.

The blast took place on the main road to the airport, close to the US embassy and the diplomatic quarter.

Two Nato troops suffered light injuries, an alliance statement said.

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Afghan security forces have taken on much of the task of battling Taliban militants since Nato ended major combat operations last December.

A smaller contingent of foreign troops remains in the country to provide training and support to local security forces.

More than 4,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting this year, prompting fears that the toll for 2015 could exceed that recorded last year.

Nato forces at scene of blast in Kabul

A massive plume of smoke was seen rising above the scene of the blast. A man named Ahmad Farhad told the Associated Press news agency that he seen a car attack the Nato convoy.

“I saw two to three damaged vehicles and wounded victims were everywhere and there was no one to help them,” he said.

One person was killed in the blast, the Afghan interior ministry said. The injured reportedly include women and children.

The blast struck a busy shopping area in Kabul (AP)

Casualty figures have fluctuated throughout the day, with earlier reports saying more people had died.

The latest attack will raise fresh questions over a peace process between the government and the Taliban that has just begun to take shape, says the BBC’s David Loyn in Kabul.

Last week, Taliban militants launched a high-profile assault on the parliament building, as legislators were preparing to select a new defence minister.

Earlier on Tuesday, militants carried out a suicide on a police building in Helmand province, reportedly killing two people and wounding more than 50.

Carlos Slim scraps project with Donald Trump after Mexico insults

Carlos Slim, Lifetime Honorary Chairman, Telefonos de Mexico, speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Carlos Slim, Lifetime Honorary Chairman, Telefonos de Mexico, speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 29, 2014.

A television company controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has canceled a project with real estate developer and TV personality Donald Trump after his comments insulting Mexicans, Slim’s spokesman said on Monday.

This is the third company to cut ties with Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the November 2016 presidential election.

NBC said earlier on Monday that it would no longer air the “Miss USA” and “Miss Universe” pageants due to his comments. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision [UVN.UL] also said on Thursday it would not air the “Miss USA” pageant.

Ora TV, a production company co-founded by Slim and TV personality Larry King and funded by America Movil , canceled a program it was working on with some of Trump’s companies, Slim’s spokesman and son-in-law Arturo Elias said.

“His statement was totally out of line…working with someone so closed-minded was not going to work,” Elias said, adding that the comments were racist.

Trump, earlier this month, described migrants from Mexico to the United States as drug-runners and rapists.

Telecoms magnate Slim is the world’s second-richest man, with a net worth of around $71.1 billion, according to Forbes. Trump is at number 405 on the list, worth $4.1 billion.

The Financial Times first reported the cancellation of the project earlier on Monday.

Government reconsidering Juncker’s last-minute proposal, sources say

Előkerülhetnek a drachmák. AFP PHOTO / DENIS CHARLET

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is reconsidering the last-ditch offer made by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, sources have told Kathimerini.

Kathimerini understands that the pressure caused by the closure of banks as well as the expiration of the Greek bailout program on Tuesday has caused some members of the government to urge Tsipras to accept Juncker’s offer.

Sources said the prime minister’s office has already informed the Commission that it is examining the proposal.

According to what is known of the proposal Tsipras would have to send a written acceptance of the version of proposals from the lenders published on Sunday, with a pledge to campaign for them to be accepted in the planned July 5 referendum.

The offer published on Sunday incorporated a proposal from Greece that would set value-added tax rates on hotels at 13 percent, rather than at 23 percent as originally planned in the lenders’ proposals. It was not immediately clear whether there would be any additional changes.

If the offer were accepted, the euro zone finance ministers could adopt a statement saying that a 2012 pledge to consider stretching out loan maturities, lowering interest rates and extending an interest payment moratorium on euro zone loans to Greece would be implemented in October.

The offer would be conditional on a letter to Juncker, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande arriving in time to arrange an emergency meeting of the Eurogroup on Tuesday.

Bosco verticale by stefano boeri greens milan’s skyline

bosco verticale by stefano boeri greens milan's skyline

stefano boeri‘s ‘bosco verticale’ has opened its door to residents, five years after construction started in milan’s emerging porta nuova district.

the project, which translates in english as ‘vertical forest’, comprises two landscaped towers that between them contain 113 apartments offering expansive views across the city.

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom

the design is characterized by its integrated vegetation comprising 1,000 different species of trees, shrubs and plants.

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom

in total, the scheme contains 780 planted trees, seeking to increase the site’s biodiversity, which may have been adversely affected during the project’s construction.

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom
the tower’s are located in close proximity to cesar pelli’s ‘unicredit tower’

the taller of the two towers climbs to a total height of 112 meters, with staggered concrete balconies protruding from each of the scheme’s façades.

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom

each individual dwelling features a private garden which protects interior living space from acoustic pollution,

dust particles, harsh winds and direct sunlight. at roof level, photovoltaic panels contribute to the self-sufficiency of the complex, while greywater from the building is filtered and reused to irrigate the site’s extensive flora.

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom
staggered concrete balconies protrude from each of the scheme’s façades

I think this is a prototype of a possible way to extend the natural sphere in a hyperdense urban context‘, stefanoboeritold designboom at the project’s opening.

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom

‘this is a not a unique way to implement biodiversity in an urban environment, but it is for sure one of the most environmental ways. so let’s see together what will happen.

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom

we are continuously asked by research centers from all over the world to follow what will happen. I think that every year we could have a moment of thought and discussion about the results – month by month, year by year.

see designboom‘s previous coverage of the project here.

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom
each individual dwelling features a private garden which protects interior living space

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom
the vegetation protects against acoustic pollution, dust particles, harsh winds and direct sunlight

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom
greywater from the building is filtered and reused to irrigate the site’s extensive flora

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom
living accommodation offers expansive views across the italian city

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom
at roof level, photovoltaic panels contribute to the self-sufficiency of the complex

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom
the scheme is envisioned as an extension of the surrounding parkland

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom
the twin landscaped towers can be seen from across the district

project info:

location: milan, italy
architects: boeri studio (stefano boeri, gianandrea barreca, geovanni la varra)

bosco verticale vertical forest stefano boeri studio milan designboom
landscape design: emanuela borio and laura gatti
developer: hines italia and coima
artistic direction: francesco de felice, davor popovic
final project: gianni bertoldi (coordinator), alessandro agosti, andrea casetto, matteo colognese, angela parrozzani, stafano onnis

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