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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-05-16

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Strike in Place of Public Holiday
  • [02] Robotic Jockey
  • [03] Phanar Asks for Resignation
  • [04] Dora's Attack against PASOK
  • [05] Message to Ankara
  • [06] Alavanos-ADEDY Meeting
  • [07] Assessment of Academic Staff
  • [08] Changes in Pensions
  • [09] Proposals for Reforms
  • [10] The War of the Auction Houses

  • [01] Chaos in France over the Abolishment of Pentecost Strike in Place of Public Holiday

    16 May 2005 19:45:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    Sources: Le Monde, Le Figaro

    A torrent of social reactions broke out in France, following the governments decision to abolish the Pentecost public holiday, for a good cause, as it claimed. As per the decision, this change will facilitate the saving of funds for the elderly. The measure was considered anti-populist by the unions and the employees, who decided to go on strike as a protest. As a result, 22% of high school teachers did not turn up to work, while approximately 22% of the doctors in Paris hospitals went on strike. The Pentecost strike also created chaos in public transport and the prefect offices. At the same time, though, the vast majority of private businesses operated as usual.

    Are the French Egotists?

    The governments decision to declare the Pentecost holiday as a day of solidarity towards senior citizens prompted intense discontentment among French employees.

    Essentially, the workers were called upon to work for free, so that their wages could fund the elderly and the people with special needs.

    The government announced that out of the 2 billion euros that will be raised today, 1.2 billion will be given to the elderly and the rest to people with special needs, through an agency established for that purpose: the national solidarity fund for autonomy.

    This measure, which was passed as a law, only managed to convince a handful of the French.

    The unions spoke of a technocratic idea, while even senior citizens representatives declared that a lot more is needed to sensitise society over the fate of the elderly and the people with special needs.

    Have the French citizens demonstrated indifference and egotism towards the problems of the elderly by participating in the demonstrations?

    In his article in the newspaper Le Monde, sociologist Jean Yves Boulin answers no to the abovementioned question.

    As per Mr Boulin, the solidarity of French employees is inarguable, while he reminded everyone of their response to the tsunami victims.

    As he added, there are deeper reasons for the French employees stance, including flexible timetables at work and lack of personal life due to work commitments.

    As per the French sociologist, the employees are giving a fight daily to balance their work with caring for their children, parents and grandparents, while by abolishing the 35-hour week, the government practically left them with no time off to fulfil those duties.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [02] As of 2007 in all Qatari Races Robotic Jockey

    16 May 2005 18:29:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    It is the size of a young boy, it is very light and it has proven a great rider. It is the robotic jockey! Its name is Kamel and its role is quite significant, as it forms part of a grandiose plan, funded by Qatari sheiks, in an effort to provide a solution to the use of young boys in the very popular and traditional camel rides. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 boy jockeys, some as young as 4, who are either bought from their parents or kidnapped from their home countries, are brought to countries of the Gulf, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, to ride. Most of the times, the boys are underfed on purpose, so as to remain light. Kamel was successfully tested a few weeks ago during a camel race in Doha, in an effort to stamp out the use of underage jockeys in races by 2007, a fact that is also applauded by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

    Kamel and the Camels

    Alexandre Colot of Swiss robotics firm K-Team is the developer of Kamel, which took a year to be assembled and cost approximately US$1 million. It weighs just 27kg, is equipped with a GPS satellite beacon and shock absorbers for the rough ride, while it operates on remote control. The result is that the robot can take commands within a range of a kilometre, while the camel handler follows the rider in a vehicle. Finally, to prevent camels from rejecting the mechanical rider, the handlers will spray the robots jersey with traditional Arabic perfume used by trainers before strapping the machine to the camel.

    The first public appearance took place a few weeks ago in Doha and was completely successful, while the gathered crowds looked ecstatic. The robot covered a distance of 2.5km, and reached speeds of up to 40kmph, without any problems.

    "We cant stop these races. They are part of our history and tradition, so we have tried to find an alternative. [] Improve the speed, the weight, the aerodynamics, to reach the ultimate goal of completely phasing out children used as jockeys," Sheik Abdullah bin Saud, the Qatari official in charge of the project, said.

    It is estimated that a total of 20 Kamels will be ready to start racing by next October, while in the future, a factory will be set up in Qatar to assemble the robots and train the handlers.

    However, the great challenge would be to convince the fans that this change would not ruin the quality of the show, which is accompanied by hundreds of thousands in bets. Colot remains optimistic, though. "It will take time, and well train some of them to use the robot by June. Were 10 seconds slower than the fastest time recorded for a 5-kilometer race," he mentioned. Well, good luck to the Kamel!

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [03] Bartholomew's Appeal to Eirinaios Phanar Asks for Resignation

    16 May 2005 18:23:00 (Last updated: 16 May 2005 22:20:08)

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Rapid developments in the thriller with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. On Monday afternoon, during a meeting in Phanar attended by Mr Eirinaios representative, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarch of Alexandria, Theodoros, asked for Mr Eirinaios resignation, deciding that it was the only solution to the deadlock situation in the Jerusalem Patriarchate. Mr Eirinaios representative, the Metropolitan Bishop of Nazareth, Kyriakos, rejected all accusations and asked for more time. The intervention of the two top Hierarchs was welcomed in Jerusalem, while according to sources, the Holy Sepulchre Brotherhoods official reaction is expected on Tuesday. Now the interest will focus on the Ecumenical Patriarchates Holy Synod, which will convene on Tuesday in order to set a date for the convocation of a Major Synod, which will decide on Mr Eirinaios fate.

    Holy Sepulchre Brotherhood Satisfied

    Others who participated in the meeting, which took place in the Ecumenical Patriarchs office, included: the Metropolitan Bishops of Pergamos, Belgium, Karpathos, Toronto, Ikonion, Philadelphia and Sevasteia, as well as the Synod head secretary, Archimandrite Elpidoforos.

    The Metropolitan Bishop of Nazareth claimed that all the allegations against Mr Eirinaios were false and that the Patriarch never signed any leases, while he asked Mr Bartholomew to intervene in order to reconcile all sides.

    According to sources, Mr Bartholomew clarified that the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not operate as a judge and that Mr Eirinaios would have to resign, even if he is right, for the sake of peace in Church and as a matter of dignity.

    On Tuesday, Phanars Holy Synod will convene to discuss the crisis with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, while it is expected to decide on officially recognizing the three-member committee temporarily assigned to administrate the Patriarchate.

    It should be noted that Mr Eirinaios refused to attend a meeting in Istanbul for the second time, a fact that has annoyed the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Actually, Mr Eirinaios other representative, Archimandrite Eirinaios, was not allowed entry to the meeting and had to wait in the Ecumenical Patriarchates courtyard.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related News:

    Eirinaios Will Not Go to Phanar

    [04] Mayor of Athens in Thessaloniki Dora's Attack against PASOK

    16 May 2005 21:31:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    Sources: MPA

    Dora Bakoyannis harshly criticized PASOK. Speaking from Thessaloniki, the Mayor of Athens accused the Opposition party of deceiving the citizens whilst it was in government, for the sole purpose of staying in power. "Without a doubt, they will try to undermine any great reforms we attempt to make, through consistent and permanent alliances with unions and vested interests," she stressed, attributing lack of identity and leadership to the Opposition party. Referring to the progress of the governments policies, she declared that significant reforms have been made in just a few months. However, she asked for solidarity and unity between government members, noting that the required solidarity has not been achieved in many of the cases.

    Honesty towards Citizens is a Priority

    Speaking at an event hosted at the I. Vellidis convention centre, Dora Bakoyannis pointed out that the greatest duty and political priority of the New Democracy government is "to tell the truth to the Greek citizens," and to "put an end to a long period of populism and hypocrisy."

    As she noted, the politicians hesitate to tell people the truth. "Many issues would have been resolved had the politicians been honest towards the citizens," she stressed, while she urged the government to proceed with the necessary structural changes immediately, without turning back.

    Mrs Bakoyiannis also referred to the role of the party in realising the governments policies.

    She pointed out that the party groups have to remain politically active, stressing that "The party was not and will not become a guardian of personal objectives and self-interests."

    Specifically for Thessalonki, the Mayor of Athens declared that significant work has been done in just a few months.

    "The government worked well, made decisions and provided solutions, which the governments of PASOK did not carry out in a decade," she mentioned.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [05] Respect for Human Rights Message to Ankara

    16 May 2005 17:44:00 (Last updated: 16 May 2005 22:19:24)

    By Betty Savourdou

    Sources: NET- NET 105.8- ANA

    On Tuesday, during the 3rd Summit Meeting of the EU Council in Warsaw, the European leaders reaffirmed their faith to the common European ideals and Human Rights, while they evaluated the ways to counter organised crime. From the Summit Meeting, Kostas Karamanlis sent a clear message to Turkey to respect human rights, making reference to the case of Greek-Cypriot teacher Titina Loizidou, whose property in occupied Turkey has not been returned yet. The PM noted that in this manner, the credibility of the Strasburg Court is being endangered. Moreover, the Prime Minister held consecutive meetings with the President of Slovenia, the President of the Ukraine and the Turkish PM. Later tonight he will attend a dinner hosted by the PM of Poland.

    Meetings with Socrates and Erdogan

    During their meeting on the sidelines of the Summit, Mr Karamanlis and his Spanish counterpart Jose Socrates pointed out the need to draft a common policy, so that Greece and Portugal may receive the largest possible sum from the 4th Community Structure Framework.

    Furthermore, the Greek PM met briefly with his Turkish counterpart. According to information, Messrs Karamanlis and Erdogan discussed the inauguration of the new gas pipeline, which will take place towards the end on June in Evros. Actually, Mr Erdogan declared that the meeting was very good and took place in a friendly environment, stressing that Mr Karamanlis insists on his will to improve the Greek-Turkish relations, a fact also constitutes an aim of the Turkish side.

    New Conditions and Challenges

    The main aim of the two-day discussions, that will be completed tomorrow, is for the investigation of future goals and the reinforcement of the European Council.

    In his statements, the Greek PM made reference to the aims and the priorities of the EU Council, which include combating terrorism, protecting the minorities and fighting corruption and organised crime.

    The foundations of the EU Council, which was born from the ashes of World War II and aiming at the effective protection of human rights, are strong and based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law, stated Mr Karamanlis during his speech, while at the same time he made reference to the need of the Organization to "effectively meet the new challenges of our era and our reunified continent."

    As the PM stated, a large part is the reinforcement of the European Human Rights Court, while its decisions should be immediately fully and uncoditionally executed by all Member-States.

    "One of the major priorities of my government is to combat corruption. In this context, we welcome the efforts of the Council to find a common way to combat the challenges set by corruption, organised crime and drug trafficking," noted Mr Karamanlis.

    As far as the fight against terrorism is concerned, the PM stated that the Council has already joined the international anti-terrorism effort, "However, our work towards that direction should be reinforced by all means, always keeping in mind the greatness of the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the cross-cultural and interreligious dialogue."

    In closing, Mr Karamanlis noted that the new, still emerging European architecture requires close cooperation between the EU Council and other institutions such as the EU, OSCE and the UN.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    Related News:

    Kostas Karamanlis in Warsaw

    [06] Support of Public Sector Employees Demands Alavanos-ADEDY Meeting

    16 May 2005 14:51:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    President of the party Alekos Alavanos expressed SYNs support in the positions of the Public Sector employees, after his meeting with the Presidency of ADEDY. Mr Alavanos stated that our county is one of the most expensive countries, for the cost of living, in the EU and has great tax burdens, while he described the Public Sector as an "unsparing employer," since its owes large money sums to IKA and has a "particular relationship" with contract workers. Furthermore, the President of SYN opposed any attempt to reunite the state with party criteria and asked for meritocracy. From his part, ADEDY President Spiros Papaspiros stated the need to reinforce the wages of the employees and stated his support for consistency in the Public Administration.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [07] Bill Made Public Assessment of Academic Staff

    16 May 2005 16:35:00 (Last updated: 16 May 2005 20:00:01)

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Today, Education Minister Marietta Giannakou made public a new bill for the assessment of academic staff in Greek Universities and Technological Institutes. As per the bill, the assessment will be taking place every four years and will be both internal and external. The internal assessment will be conducted by members of the academic assessment unit, while the external will be organised by an independent body and will be conducted by independent expert committees. The majority of the independent body will be made up of university professors, student representatives and representatives of research institutes and professional bodies. "The aim is to safeguard the quality of higher education," stressed Mrs Giannakou, criticising the reactions of university academic staff, who have called a three-day strike from 17 to 19 May.

    Quality in Higher Education

    On Thursday, the bill will be presented at the EU Education Ministers Summit, in Bergen, Norway, while it has been marked as urgent and is expected to be implemented as of September 2006.

    The same bill will also establish a system of transferring credit units, which will better serve students, as well as a "degree annex", a file containing all information about a students curriculum, which will be accompanying the degrees.

    "Everyone will be assessed," stressed Mrs Giannakou, pointing out that the provisions of the bill do not constitute a penalty, but a tool towards improving higher education.

    PASOKs section head for Education and Culture, Maria Damanaki, appeared in favour of the assessment, while KKE described the bill as "a key lever towards privatisation and the stranglehold of higher education institutes by monopolies." On the other hand, SYN spoke of "a strong blow to the autonomy of public universities," while it urged the Government to withdraw the bill.

    In the meantime, universities throughout the country will remain closed from 17 to19 May, due to the strike called by university academic staff, who are reacting to the new assessment bill.

    POSDEP (Panhellenic University Union of Teaching and Research Personnel) accused Mrs Giannakou of not discussing the bill with academic staff, while it spoke of downgrading university studies, breaking the academic unity of educational programmes and customising university degrees.

    Commenting on the reactions, the Minister accused the academic staff of "unreasonableness" and added that she is not willing to engage in "deaf dialogue".

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [08] Minimum Age Limits Set Changes in Pensions

    16 May 2005 15:05:00 (Last updated: 16 May 2005 22:18:41)

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Sources: NET

    An Economy Ministry bill, which will be submitted in Parliament in the coming weeks, provides for new reforms concerning the pensions of public sector employees. As it was stated, whoever is transferred to another post will be able to choose their Social Security fund, while the men will be able receive their deceased wifes pension. Public Sector pensioners will receive a raise of 20 to 47.60 euros, along with a normalization benefit, while retired officers will receive a raise of 60 to 228 euros. The minimum pension is increased from 295 euros to 307.45 euros monthly, while the normalization benefit starts at 15 and may even reach 55 euros, depending on the pension.

    Compensation of Debts

    The new clauses concern 170,000 Public Sector pensioners, 90,000 retirees and MPs who abandoned their occupations due to the incompatibility clause.

    The Parliament will pay the contribution of the MPs in question, so that their term in office will count towards the body they were insured prior to their election.

    Regarding Public Sector benefits, these will be readjusted, so that a 4% raise, which was awarded in the beginning of the year, would apply per case.

    Meanwhile, the bill will provide employees and freelancers the opportunity to buy off up to 150 days of social security insurance, provided they are over the age limit and are missing stamps.

    Furthermore, with regard to TEVE, any outstanding debts will be compensated with 20 monthly pensions.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [09] In Economy and Employment Terms Proposals for Reforms

    16 May 2005 14:36:00

    By Athina Saloustrou

    Greece ranks 44th among the 60 most developed countries, as far as its economy competition is concerned. The serious insufficiency is recorded in the yearly report, which was presented today at Zappeion Hall, under the aegis of the Ministry of Development and the participation of relevant social bodies. In the report which was drafted by the Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE), among others, the restriction of wage raise in the level of productivity in the public and private sector, a change in employment relations, freeing of "closed" occupations, full privatization of banks is proposed. However, as the Minister of Development Dimitris Sioufas stated, the government will not adopt KEPEs proposals but will discuss them. The content of the report has caused a reaction by GSEE and ADEDY. From his part, Mr Sioufas described the low competition of the economy a serious and chronic problem, and added that the government is making a coordinated effort with special programs and political initiatives in order to overcome it.

    Radical and Structural

    The report proposes the establishment of regulations for the flexibility in the employment market, the cost of overtime and the arrangement of work hours. Also, in the report, the public sector is accused of low effectiveness and waste of funds, while it is noted that the lack of competition in the function of public organizations has contributed to the creation of the phenomenon and has resulted to the fact that many public services often function as pressure groups for the claim of increased income or funds, or as centers of a large number of employees in positions that are not necessary.

    The broadening of opening hours of stores, the ban of a profit percentage, opening hours in pharmacies, the mandatory fees of rotaries, engineers, architects and lawyers are also proposed.

    In addition, in the report conditions of decreased competition in many products and services markets are noted. Furthermore, it is noted that in the electric power department, competition is non-existent, since DEI has the monopoly, while for fuels it is noted that the prices before the tax are configured in the highest levels in Europe, a fact that is due to the prices being configured by the Hellenic Petroleum Company. In closing, it proposed the entrance of private in the departments of health, transport and Higher Education Institutes.

    Reactions

    In his speech during the presentation of the report, Minister of Development Dimitris Sioufas noted that the report is a basis for a discussion, an exchange of views and the concern that it was drafted by KEPE and was not guided by the government or the Competition Council Specialists Committee.

    He stated however, that everyone should analyze the facts and start a dialogue and a composition of views, since there is no time for disputes.

    In his speech, the Minister of Development made reference to the measures that have been taken for the improvement of competition, among others, that include the new development and tax bill, the increase of funds for the entrepreneur program, the establishment of new programs for trade and services, the simplification of the procedures of founding processing industries and the bill for the reinforcement of the Competition Committee.

    He stated that the first one hundred plans in the context of the development bill have been submitted, while describing the situation that the current government received he said that the Greek economy during 2001-2005 has gone down 19 places, in the standings of the International Management Institute as for the indicator of competition.

    Deputy Minister of Economy Christos Folias said that with the development bill the climate has improved, but many more actions have to taken, and announced that in the coming month the bill for the collaboration of public and private sector will be submitted, while for the 3rd Community Support Framework he said that an investigation is taking place in order to conclude where there are insufficiencies and later a review of the program will be submitted to the European Commission.

    GSEE representative Petros Rinaldos Rilmon expressed his opposition over the fact that the report does not include and indicator for Social Continuity and the environment, while the President of GSEVEE Dimitris Asimakopoulos also stated his opposition in the proposal of the broadening of the opening hours of stores.

    Vice President of SEV Dimitris Daskalopoulos stated that the time has come for the proposals to be made into actions with the cooperation of all bodies and the representative of KEPE that drafted the report noted that this a scientific, technocratic and unbiased document.

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    [10] "Rock, Paper or Scissors" for 17,8 Million Dollars The War of the Auction Houses

    16 May 2005 15:37:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    What does impressionism and modern painting have in common with the childrens game of "rock, paper or scissors?" Up to now nothing at all, but recently they acquired something in common. The indecisiveness of a Japanese entrepreneur that was faced with the dilemma "Sothebys or Christies," let lady luck decide.

    Mr Takashi Hashiyama, except for being a multimillionaire and the President of a large company was also the owner of four pieces of valuable artwork. One fine day, he decided to auction the pieces but he realized he could not decide which of the two great auction houses, Sothebys and Christies he should chose.

    "As both companies were equally good and I just could not choose one, I asked them to please decide between themselves and suggested to use such methods as rock paper scissors. I sometimes use such methods when I cannot make a decision,"stated Mr Yashiyama and meant every word.

    Since the Japanese entrepreneur decided to be represented by lady luck, the two auction houses willingly complied. This game of "rock, paper or scissors," of the century, as it was described by the World Rock Paper Scissors Society (yes, it does exist,) was set up. The options were studied and the choice was taken. Christies chose scissors and Sothebys paper. Taking into account the rules of the game that state "rock breaks scissors, scissors cuts paper and paper covers rock," the triumphant winner was Christies that auctioned four works by C&#233;zanne, Picasso, Van Gogh and Sisley. The paintings were sold for 17.8 million dollars and the people of Christies smiled with satisfaction. And with good reason since the "financial" company advisor proved also known as rock, paper or scissors was on their side. As far as Sothebys is concerned, surely it will have better luck next time!

    Translated by Eirene Nisiriou

    Related Links:

    World Rock Paper Scissors Society

    Christies


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