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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-08-12

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM meets with new Armed Forces leaders
  • [02] GDP down 0.2pct down in Q2
  • [03] Perseid meteor shower: Fireworks show with shooting stars
  • [04] Siemens CEO extradition
  • [05] Unemployment at 8.5pct
  • [06] Biggest cocaine haul
  • [07] ASE : Marginal rise

  • [01] PM meets with new Armed Forces leaders

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met on Wednesday with the new leaders of the country's Armed Forces chosen recently by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA).

    Karamanlis met with the new joint chiefs of staff (GEETHA National Defence General Staff) chief Gen. (air) Ioannis Yiagos, the new Airforce General Staff (GEA) chief Lt. Gen. Vassilios Klokozas, and the new Army General Staff (GES) chief Lt. Gen. Fragoulis Fragos.

    No statements were made after the meeting, which was also attended by national defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis.

    [02] GDP down 0.2pct down in Q2

    Greece's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by 0.2 percent in the second quarter of 2009 against the corresponding quarter in 2008, according to figures released on Wednesday by the national statistics service ESYE.

    ESYE attributed the negative growth rate in GDP to a substantial reduction in investments and exports, but added that a significant decrease in imports had offset the reduction in GDP.

    [03] Perseid meteor shower: Fireworks show with shooting stars

    Inhabitants all over the planet, including Greece, will be treated on Wednesday and Thursday night to a cosmic fireworks display put on by shooting stars.

    The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year as Earth passes through a trail of dusty debris left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet, and is named after the northern constellation of Perseus from which it appears to radiate.

    Earth entered the stream of debris on July 31 this year, but the meteor shower peaks on August 11-12, when Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream.

    The meteor shower can be seen with the naked eye, while best viewing time is between midnight and 5:00 a.m. The early morning hours are the most optimum for viewing this year, due to a 55 percent waning gibbous moon, given that lunar glare reduces night vision and makes it harder to see the "stars" of the show, the Earthgrazers, which are meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like stones skipping across the surface of a lake, dotting the display with colorful bursts.

    According to astronomers, the Perseids, the most famous of all meteor showers, are due to comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which makes a full orbit around the sun every 130 years.

    The phenomenon is visible chiefly in the Northern Hemisphere, where the Perseid meteors can start being seen as early as July 23, when one meteor every hour or so may be visible. During the next three weeks, there is a slow build-up to five Perseids visible per hour at the beginning of August and 15 per hour by August 10, reaching a peak of 60-80 meteors per hour by the night of August 12/13 and then rapidly decline to about 10 per hour by August 15. The last night meteors are likely to be seen from this meteor shower is August 22, when an observer might see a Perseid every hour or so. In the Southern Hemisphere, only the fortunate few who are marginally south of the equator can see it, as the Perseid radiant does not climb above the horizon.

    [04] Siemens CEO extradition

    The Munich appeals court has decided to extradite Siemens Hellas fugitive former CEO Michalis Christoforakos to Greece, the Greek justice ministry announced on Wednesday.

    A ministry announcement said that justice minister Nikos Dendias was informed on Wednesday by telephone by Areios Pagos (Greek supreme court) prosecutor Ioannis Tentes that the Munich court of appeals has decided to turn over Christoforakos to the Greek authorities "for offences committed after March 18, 2003, in execution of a European arrest warrant issued by Greek justice".

    Athens special examining magistrate Nikos Zagorianos, who is investigating the Siemens bribery and kickbacks scandal in Greece, had issued a European arrest warrant for Christoforakos on May 21 after the latter failed to show up for testimony claiming, through his lawyer, that health reasons did not allow him to travel from Munich to Athens.

    Christoforakos, who was arrested in Germany in mid June under a European arrest warrant issued by Greece, has German nationality and a German passport. Shortly after his arrest, Greece submitted an extradition request to the German authorities.

    [05] Unemployment at 8.5pct

    Unemployment was running at 8.5 percent in Greece in May 2009, against 6.6 percent in the month in 2008, according to figures released on Wednesday by the national statistics service ESYE.

    According to the figures, the number of unemployed reached 420,401 in May 2009 from 324,777 in May last year.

    The biggest percentage of unemployment was recorded among youths, in the 15-24 years age bracket, which reached 25 percent in May 2009 from 18.6 percent in May 2008.

    Unemployment stood at 11.2 percent in May against 9.9 percent in May 2008 in the 25-34 age bracket, at 6.8 percent in May (5.1 percent in May 2008) in the 35-44 age bracket, 5.3 percent (3.4 percent in May 2008) in the 45-54 age bracket, 4.0 percent (2.7 percent in May 2008) in the 55-64 age bracket, and 1.6 percent (0.8 percent in May 2008) in the 65-74 age bracket.

    Unemployment was greater among women (11.5 percent) than men (6.3 percent).

    By region, the largest unemployment rates in May 2009 were recorded in Sterea (central) Greece (11.7 percent), eastern Macedonia-Thrace (10.3 percent), and central Macedonia (10 percent), while the lowest rates were in the Ionian Islands region (5.7 percent) and Crete (6 percent).

    The number of employed totaled 4,553,998 in May 2009, against 4,612,670 in May 2008.

    [06] Biggest cocaine haul

    Five members of an international drug trafficking ring have been arrested in the biggest cocaine haul ever in Greece, it was made known on Wednesday.

    The economy and finance ministry's financial crimes service (YPEE) said that a team of its Attica prefecture narcotics and guns squad had a month earlier detected and seized 400 packets of cocaine totaling 447 kilos of the drug hidden in a container in the port of Piraeus.

    This is the biggest cocaine haul in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe, the announcement said.

    The drugs, originating from Bolivia, were hidden in specially-made hiding spaces in the container, which was filled with scrap aluminum.

    The announcement said that five people were arrested: a Greek national permanently residing in Belgium, one of the masterminds of the operation; a Bulgarian national, who had set up a company in Thessaloniki and was to take delivery of part of the cocaine shipment; a Greek customs broker who was responsible for clearing the container through customs; and two Greek women, one of which coordinated the customs clearance and cargo transport procedures.

    Authorities also found in the possession of the five detainees and seized: 75,800 euros in cash, 3,214 US dollars, 37 SIM cards from undeclared card cell-phones, a luxury jeep, and import documents for the containers.

    Commenting on the drug bust, considered a huge success of the Greek law enforcement authorities, economy and finance minister Yannis Papathanassiou congratulated the financial crimes squad and customs authorities on their big success, as well as all those who contributed to the operation.

    He said that the YPEE, with its recent big and smaller successes in the battle against tax evasion, "and today against the drug rackets", are increasingly proving on a daily basis that it is a public service of strategic importance, capable of contributing the utmost in a critical time for the country.

    Deputy minister Antonis Bezas said that "we have open accounts with smuggling and narcotics trafficking", and pledged that "the efforts will continue".

    Caption: The packets of cocaine totaling 447 kilos of cocaine at Athens police headquarters on Wednesday 12 August 2009. ANA-MPA/SYMELA PANTZARTZI

    [07] ASE : Marginal rise

    Equity prices posted a marginal rise on Wednesday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index up 0.02 percent, standing at 2,277.01 points at 14:25 p.m., and turnover at 87.1 million euros.

    Individual sector indices were moving mostly upward, with the biggest gains in Health, up 2.18 percent; Banks, up 0.79 percetn; and Financial Services, up 0.52 percent.

    The biggest losses were in Commerce, down 2.88 percent; Chemicals, down 2.36 percent; and Food & Beverage, down 1.91 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was up 0.36 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was down 0.24 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was down 0.28 percent.

    Of the stocks moved, 85 were up, 106 were down, and 38 were unchanged.

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