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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-09-29

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Saturday, September 29, 2001

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gas masks sale up in Cyprus
  • [02] Cassoulides rules out Cyprus hosting Afghan talks
  • [03] Commonwealth summit cancellation 'unfortunate' for Cyprus efforts
  • [04] Stelios to sink £15 million into failing Internet chain
  • [05] CSE ends the week on positive note
  • [06] Iranian held after police find cocaine
  • [07] International call rates to tumble from Monday
  • [08] Latest 'virus' is a hoax

  • [01] Gas masks sale up in Cyprus

    By Elias Hazou

    GROWING concerns over the consequences of bio-chemical warfare following the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington have led to increased sales of gas masks and protective suits in Cyprus, as well as in the US and UK.

    Alarm bells sounded over the past few days by government officials in a number of countries and by international organisations subsided yesterday, with even the World Health Organisation toning down its warnings on the hazards of a bio-chemical terrorist attack.

    On Thursday, WHO director-general Gro Harlem-Bruntland told a gathering of health ministers in Washington DC that the use of killer diseases by terrorists against the West was no longer unthinkable.

    Earlier this week, US Attorney-general John Ashcroft said the FBI had indications that a bio-chemical attack was a possibility, with the Federal Aviation Authority quickly moving to ground all crop-spreading aircraft.

    In Cyprus, sales of gas masks and other protective gear have increased over the past few days, although not on a massive scale.

    A salesperson at a military supplies and outdoors items store told the Cyprus Mailthat people had called in to enquire about bio-chemical protective gear.

    There has been an increase in demand for gas masks and chemical suits, but not on a massive scale,"she said. The masks are priced at £70, while the suits cost around £60. She said the store had already placed orders for more gas masks." But it must be said that this gear cannot provide full protection against germ warfare,"she noted.

    Her opinion was echoed earlier this week by World Medical Association experts, who said that assessing whether a bio attack had taken place would only be possible until after people began to fall sick.

    The masks are sold with a filtering device and can provide protection against chemical agents, such as mustard gas, for around 24 hours. They can also be fitted with water and food-intake devices.

    Despite being a commercially available item, strict regulation governs the supply of gas masks to retailers. Special permission is needed to import such protective gear, according to the store salesperson.

    She referred to an incident a few years ago when a US manufacturer refused to export masks to Cyprus due to the island's proximity to the Middle East. He had explained that this was a measure to prevent terrorists of Middle Eastern extraction gaining access to such equipment.

    The government recently approved the purchase of 3,500 gas masks, of which 1,000 would be made available to civil defence staff. But the orders were placed prior to the September 11 attacks, sources said.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said the issue had been over-hyped. " I think we need to realise that Cyprus is not the centre of the universe, "remarked Cassoulides. " Let's not go overboard here... Cyprus is not a prime target for terrorists."

    Asked whether Cyprus authorities were planning to set up an agency on the lines of the Centre for Disease Control in the United States, Health Ministry sources yesterday told the Cyprus Mailthat the ministry was " looking into the matter; we are staying on top of this,"but did not elaborate.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Cassoulides rules out Cyprus hosting Afghan talks

    By Jennie Matthew

    CYPRUS has said it won't host any talks concerned with ousting the Taliban regime from Afghanistan, because of fears that the island might become a target for terrorist attacks.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides made the announcement yesterday, after reports that Afghanis meet in Cyprus next weekend to declare their opposition to terrorism and the Taliban regime.

    " We don't want to appear, under the circumstances, to be taking part or encouraging any sides in Afghanistan, because of the threat that Cyprus would become a target of terrorist attacks,"he told the Cyprus Mail .

    Former Afghan Foreign Minister Homayun Jarir told the Cyprus Maillast week that the Peace in Afghanistan movement had invited the international community to a meeting in Cyprus to replace the purist Taliban with a broad coalition government.

    Jarir said a delegation had been sent to the US to invite American officials, and that contact had also been made with the British, Russian, Saudi and Pakistani governments.

    But Cassoulides said yesterday that the government had received no request for the Cyprus meeting.

    " If the Afghans come to us, we will reply. After thinking twice, I think the best thing is to cut it down abruptly,"the Minister told the Cyprus Mail .

    He said the government had taken the decision without advice from any foreign power.

    But a spokesman for Jarir in Cyprus was yesterday unaware of the Minister's comments.

    He said Jarir was to arrive on the island on Tuesday, ahead of the meeting scheduled for next weekend.

    Afghan bureaucrats, politicians, academics, Taliban sympathisers and foreign diplomats have held regular meetings at the Nicosia Hilton to promote a democratic alternative to the Taliban regime.

    The group, which wants to replace the Taliban with a broad coalition government, has been recognised by the United Nations and invited to proximity talks.

    The Peace in Afghanistan movement was last here in August, but Cassoulides said the situation had changed since the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11.

    " Cyprus does not with to host any sort of meeting associated with the conflict in Afghanistan and Cyprus wants to avoid taking sides,"he said.

    " We do not accept or encourage this. We are a small country with our own problems, we are occupied and we have to be especially careful,"he said.

    Asked if the government would refuse permission for all further Peace in Afghanistan meetings, Cassoulides said no decision had yet been taken.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Commonwealth summit cancellation 'unfortunate' for Cyprus efforts

    By Melina Demetriou

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday the cancellation of the Commonwealth Summit would be a blow to the country's diplomatic efforts.

    The Commonwealth yesterday postponed its summit in the Australian town of Brisbane after the leaders of Britain, Canada and India pulled out because of the international tension in the wake of the suicide hijacking attacks on the United States.

    The summit had been scheduled to take place from October 6 to 9, but because three key participants pulled out, the Commonwealth decided to put it off.

    The Summit is hoped to be rescheduled for early next year.

    A four-member delegation from Cyprus -- made up of President Glafcos Clerides, Foreign Minister Cassoulides and the Foreign Ministry's heads of the Commonwealth and Cyprus offices, Andros Kakouris and Tassos Tzionis -- was planning to participate in the meeting.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail , Cassoulides yesterday described the development as " unfortunate"for Cyprus and for the other countries that had been due to be represented at the summit.

    " It is unfortunate that two big events, one in New York (Cyprus talks scheduled to begin on September 12) and one in Brisbane were cancelled. I was supposed to meet with many heads of Islamic and other states on the sidelines of those meetings,"the minister said.

    The delegation was due to fly to Australia a couple of days before the summit was due to kick off and return to Cyprus on October 10 or 11.

    " We understand there was a serious reason for the summit to be called off. If it was taking place, we would happily go,"a Foreign Ministry source said yesterday.

    " The Cyprus Problem would have been among issues to be discussed at the meeting,"he noted.

    Asked whether the development was a blow for efforts to solve the Cyprus Problem, the source said: " I cannot connect the two. The summit was cancelled for reasons irrelevant to the Cyprus Problem."

    The meeting of heads of governments of the Commonwealth, a club composed mainly of former British colonies, would have been the largest gathering of world leaders since the devastating attacks in New York and Washington over two weeks ago.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Stelios to sink £15 million into failing Internet chain

    By Jean Christou

    EASYJET founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou is to put £15 million of his own money into his Internet café chain easyEverything, a day after he reduced its share price from £1 to one penny.

    The Cypriot-born boss of the global chain of Internet cafés announced his decision to slash the value of yet unlisted shares from £1 to 1p on Thursday. Some of the shares had been handed out free as bonuses but others offered as share options ahead of a float in which employees could invest up to £10,000. The devaluation meant that staff given what they thought was a £20,000 bonus would instead have shares worth £200. Those who sank £10, 000 into share options would see their investment now worth £100.

    In response Haji-Ioannou, reckoned to be worth £800 million, was quoted as saying: "That's capitalism. They still have shares, they are just a lot less valuable. This is an Internet company. We used to think they were valuable. Now they are not."

    EasyEverything saw pre-tax losses rise from £1.8 million to £13.4 million in the year to September 2000 after it opened 21 stores in eight countries.

    It will close outlets and be renamed as "easyInternetCafe" following the refinancing.

    Haji-Ioannou's stock purchase will leave him owning 99 per cent of the equity. Maurice Kelly, chief executive of easyEverything, who previously owned three per cent of the shares, has left the company, as has John Sands, the IT director.

    EasyEverything was valued at £100 million 18 months ago when it was expected to float. Hewlett-Packard, the technology company, and Apax, the venture capital firm, each made a £10 million loan to easyEverything last year, with an option to convert the loan into shares at £7 each up to May 2003. The debt is now expected to be repaid in instalments from next year.

    Haji-Ioannou defended the refinancing as the only way of keeping the company in business.

    "This company had run out of cash. It could not meet the payroll this month. Other people would have just pulled the plug. I am going to take another roll of the dice," he said.

    Haji-Ioannou will take day-to-day control of the company and push through cost-cutting measures including the closure of cafés in Antwerp and Rotterdam, and a review of its Rome cafe. The chain will refocus on London, New York and Paris.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] CSE ends the week on positive note

    CYPRUS STOCKS ended the week on a positive note yesterday, edging up four per cent to close at 112.3 points.

    Blue chips significantly outperformed the general index, clocking up gains of 5.29 per cent to 456.9 points. Volume improved yesterday, standing at 6.3 million.

    Banks, insurance and IT companies led the way, recording increases of 5.1 per cent, 6.9 per cent and 5.2 per cent respectively.

    All three main banks made the most-active list with Laiki in first place, jumping nine cents to 1.31. Bank of Cyprus gained seven cents to 1.72 and Hellenic five cents to 79 cents.

    In all, 105 stocks recorded gains compared with 38 which declined.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Iranian held after police find cocaine

    A 57-YEAR-old Iranian man was yesterday arrested by drug law enforcement officers in Limassol after 220 grams of cocaine were found in his possession.

    According to police sources, the bust was part of a wider operation to crack down on a ring of narcotics smugglers and dealers. Police were cagey on providing details about the case, saying that investigations were still under way.

    Prior to his arrest, the suspect had been under surveillance for a number of days, a police spokesman said.

    The Iranian man has been remanded in custody and is being questioned. Police believe the suspect, whose visitor's visa expired a few days ago, has associates in other towns.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] International call rates to tumble from Monday

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE CYPRUS Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) is slashing the rate of international calls by up to 54 per cent starting on Monday.

    CyTA aims to reduce international rates, keeping in line with its plan to streamline its charging policy, from both landlines and mobile phones.

    Landline calls will be reduced by up to54 per cent, mobile CyTAGSM phone charges will be reduced by up to 49 per cent and the prepaid mobile SOEASY package will see rates cut by up to 43 per cent.

    Landline calls to Greece will now be charged at 11 cents per minute peak time and nine cents per minute off peak. Calls to the UK and USA will be set at 12 cents a minute during peak hours and 10 cents off peak, a reduction of four cents during the peak times and two cents off peak. Rates to Germany and Russia will be 17 cents and 25 cents during peak times and 14 cents and 20 cents off-peak.

    CYTAGSM subscribers will find calls to Greece three cents cheaper per minute, resulting in a peak rate of 17 cents and an off-peak rate of 15 cents. UK and USA rates will both be reduced to 18 cents during peak times and 16 cents off-peak. Calls to Germany and Russia will see charges set at 23 cents and 31 cents during peak hours and 20 cents and 26 cents off-peak, respectively.

    SOEASY mobile subscribers will also find a considerable difference in phone rates. Greece will now stand at 31.9 cents per minute at peak times and at 29.7 cents off-peak. The UK and USA will be fixed at 33 cents per minute peak and at 30.8 cents off-peak and Germany and Russia reduced to 38.5 cents and 47.3 cents peak and 35.2 cents and 41.8 cents off-peak, respectively.

    CyTAGSM and SOEASY rates are charged per second instead of per unit, with a minimum charge of up to 20 seconds. This minimum charge also applies to calls to the INMARSAT, EMSAT, THURAYA and IRIDIUM satellite systems.

    Off peak hours are between 9pm and 8am daily and all day Saturday and Sunday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Latest 'virus' is a hoax

    By Rita Kyriakides

    One of the latest warnings circulating about a catastrophic computer virus is actually a hoax.

    E-mails being received by users all over the world with the title " Virtual Card for You"are in fact a hoax that should be ignored.

    The text contained in the warning claims the virus has been discovered and classified by Microsoft and McAfee but a search of these websites points towards the list of hoax viruses.

    The virus is described as 'the most destructive ever!' and claims no defence has been developed.

    Its supposed effect is the " destruction of Sector Zero from the hard disk, where vital information for its functioning are stored" .

    The message pleads with users to distribute the warning to the greatest amount of people possible.

    Computer technicians always warn users against opening e-mail attachments unless they come from a known and trusted source and suggest users have anti-virus software installed with the latest updates.

    For a list of hoax viruses go to the Symantec website at www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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