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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-12-09
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM meets with visiting Alexandria PatriarchPrime minister George Papandreou on Wednesday met with visiting Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, who was accompanied by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece.
During the 40-minute meeting, the discussion focused on the Alexandria Patriarchate's missionary work and on the Greeks abroad.
Theodoros also invited the prime minister to visit the Patriarchate, and presented him with a silver vase made by children in Egypt, decorated with a dove of peace, noting: "I give this (vase) to you symbolically, because you always bring peace and work for peace".
Papandreou, in turn, presented the Patriarch with a silver vase decorated with an ancient Greek trireme, stressing that "it symbolises the Greece of the seas and continents".
Theodoros had a series of meetings on Tuesday afternoon with the leaders or representatives of the Greek political parties, whom he briefed on the problems faced by the African peoples and the Patriarchate's activities.
Caption: Prime Minister George Papandreou receives Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II at the Maximos mansion in Athens on Wednesday 9 December 2009. ANA-MPA/PANTELIS SAITAS
 Greek astrophysicist and NASA robotics expert to be honouredDr. Thanasis (Tom) Economou, an astrophysicist at Chicago University and NASA robotics expert, is the recipient of the Athens Information Technology's (AIT) first Niki Award, which will be presented on Monday evening in Athens.
Dr. Economou, a Professor of Astrophysics and Senior Scientist at the University of Chicagoâs Enrico Fermi Institute, has been building instruments for interplanetary spacecraft since the mid-1960s. Currently he is associated with three of NASAâs robotic missions: the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Cassini mission to Mars, and the now-complete Stardust mission to Comet Wild-2, which has been redirected to a second cometary target.
Dr. Economou also built the Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer that successfully performed the first chemical analysis of Martian rocks aboard the Mars Pathfinder rover in 1997. Working in the laboratory of Anthony Turkevich, he contributed to the alpha backscattering experiment of three robotic Surveyor space probes that landed on the moon in 1967-68. With Turkevich during the 1970s and 1980s, he also conducted basic nuclear physics research on the subatomic structure of matter using the most advanced particle accelerators at Los Alamos, Argonne and Fermi National Accelerator laboratories. During the 1990s they performed an important double beta decay experiment of Uranium-238 to Plutonium-238, suggesting for the first time that neutrinos consist of a small quantity of mass.
In August, NASA announced that microparticle samples from the tail of Comet Wild-2 'trapped' by instruments designed by Economou on the Stardust spacecraft contain the substance glycine, a fundamental building block of life. "Glycine is an amino acid used by living organisms to make proteins, and this is the first time an amino acid has been found in a comet," according to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "Our discovery supports the theory that some of life's ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts."
The Athens Information Technology (AIT), founded in 2002, is a prestigious, non-profit Center of Excellence for Research and Graduate Education, with exclusive collaborations in education and research with the Carnegie Mellon and Harvard universities in the US and Aalborg university in Denmark.
To date, AIT has presented post-graduate titles to 450 graduates who today are internationally recognised executives and/or research experts, as well as more than 300 scholarships and financial aid to honor students from 21 countries, while the Centre's life-long learning courses have been attended by more than 2,500 senior executives from the public and private sector in SE Europe and the Middle East.
The Friends of AIT established in September the annual Niki Award to honor Greek scientists, and scientists of Greek descent, who are recognized by the international community for their contribution to the world of science and technology and who inspire new scientists to follow in their footsteps.
The Niki (Victory) award, a statuette crafted by the sculptor Costas Ananidas, is inspired by the statue Niki of Samothrace from the prow of a ship and represents the goddess as she descends from the skies to the triumphant fleet. Her right arm was originally raised, cupped round her mouth to deliver the shout of "Victory!" The most likely battle commemorated by this monument is believed to be the Battle of Kos, in 255 BC, in which Antigonus II Gonatas of Macedonia won over the fleet of Ptolemy II of Egypt. Victory by Greeks who have overcome difficult challenges is demonstrated throughout history and the world to this day, according to AIT.
The Niki 2009 Award will be presented to Dr. Economou by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece during a special ceremony in a central Athens hotel on Monday, December 14, at which Carnegie Mellon University president Dr. Jared Cohon will be the keynote speaker, while the proceeds of the event will be donated to the AIT Scholarships, Awards and Financial Assistance Fund. Attending the Ceremony will be representatives from major Greek scientific and academic institutions, businesses, banks, organizations, diplomatic corps, the media, and interested individuals.
 Greece, Russia boost transport tiesVisiting Russian transport minister Igor Levitin and Greece's minister of infrastructure transport and networks Dimitris Reppas on Wednesday discussed further development of bilateral cooperation in the sectors of road, rail and air transports.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Reppas noted the traditional good relations between Greece and Russia, and announced that a committee of experts of the two ministries has been set up which will have completed its work in 2010 aimed at the signing by the two ministers of a new agreement on road transports, which he said will boost the trade cooperation and economic relations between the two countries.
On air transports, the two ministers stressed their determination to improve the existing framework, aimed at boosting tourism movement between Greece and Russia.
Regarding rail transports, Reppas did not rule out the prospect of a Thessaloniki-Moscow route being established within 2010, with a frequency of two routes weekly.
Levitin, in turn, described his talks in Athens as very satisfactory, stressing that the dialogue on the transports sector will continue, adding that there is a series of topics that could be advanced so as to facilitate the work of the transport companies of both countries.
Caption: Russian transport minister Igor Levitin (L)
 Almunia on Greek economyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA) -- EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia on Tuesday issued a written statement regarding the Greek economy, noting that "... We take note of the fact that the sustainability of public finances in Greece draws the attention of financial markets and rating agencies ... A difficult situation in one euro area member state is a matter of common concern for the euro area as a whole".
 ASE opening: PlungeEquity prices were declining at the opening of trade on Wednesday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index down 3.20 percent, standing at 2,109.09 points at 11:15 a.m., and turnover at 124.2 million euros.
Individual sector indices were moving downward across the board, with the heaviest losses in Banks, down 4.52 percent; Food & Beverage, down 3.47 percent; Construction, down 2.76 percent; Commerce, down 2.75 percent; and Raw Materials, down 2.54 percent.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was down 2.95 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was down 2.52 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was down 1.54 percent.
Of the stocks moved, 14 were up, 104 were down, and 16 were unchanged.
 Áthens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
The state of the Greek economy and the downgrading of its credit rating by Fitch Ratings, the plunge on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) and the government's proposals on social security, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Social security: 10 changes in pensions".
APOGEVMATINI: "Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos' statement shocked parliament: Unemployment has skyrocketed to 20 percent".
AVGHI: "Government 'retiring'.... social security!".
AVRIANI: "The downgrading barrage of the country's credit rating .....paralyses the economy, plunges the Stock Market and sends away the investors from abroad".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "SOS plan includes strict austerity -New measures on the way".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The speculators unsheathed their knives - Suffocating pressure and downgrading of Greek economy".
ESTIA: "The lack of confidence in the Greek economy must be reversed as soon as possible".
ETHNOS: "The turbulence in the economy brings the series of credibility ratings downgrading".
IMERISSIA: "Under siege - New downgrading, government in a quandary".
KATHIMERINI: "Markets sound the alarm bell - Concern of repercussions on the euro".
LOGOS: "Fitch's bomb on Greek economy - Downgrading of Greece's credit rating".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Downgrading gives rise to chain reactions".
NIKI: "We are being attacked by foreign speculators".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Workers rise up, they are dismantling the social security system".
TA NEA: "Markets pressing for harsh measures - Greece downgraded to Class B ".
TO VIMA: "The nine keys of the new social security system".
VRADYNI: "Stock Market, bonds and credibility collapsed - Greek Economy downgraded to B' class for the first time in the last 10 years".
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