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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-08-04

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

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] Blinking Shuts Down Brain
  • [02] State-Private Sector Partnership
  • [03] 43,000 to Switch Off the Lights
  • [04] Immigration Bill Passed
  • [05] Heat Before the Storm
  • [06] Calm After the Storm
  • [07] "Highspeed 5" Hits the Water
  • [08] Al Qaeda Airs New Video
  • [09] Bus Shooting in Israel
  • [10] Turkey Insists
  • [11] 3.9% Inflation in July
  • [12] Thessaloniki Welcomes the New Artists
  • [13] Mobile Phone Sales Skyrocket
  • [14] Batman Deluxe
  • [15] The Beckhams Get Branded

  • [01] Study by British Researchers Blinking Shuts Down Brain

    04 Aug 2005 19:33:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Sources: BBC - Nature Journal

    How is that we blink for about 10 to 15 times a minute and fail to notice any change in what we see? A study conducted by a team of British researchers from University College in London, which appears in Current Biology, promises to shed light to this mystery. As per the study, the brain shuts down parts of the visual system each time we blink. The researchers noted that a special devise helped them to monitor how the blinking affects the brain. A vital part of the brain is shut down, therefore it is unable to see the darkness that is instantly created when blinking. This is the case even when there are small light inputs, while people appear not to be bothered by these mini blackouts. "We are rarely aware of our blinks, even though they cause a similar reduction in the amount of light entering the eye, and this gives us an uninterrupted view of the world," stated the head of the team Dr Davina Britstow.

    Everything Goes Dark

    The optic fibre shed light to the eyeballs through the roof of the mouth by using a powerful beam of light that made the head look red. Thus, the retina in the eye remained lit even when the volunteers blinked.

    The researchers showed that blinking makes activity in the visual cortex that processes the visual messages sent by the eyes cease. Similarly, activity also ceases in other parts of the brain, which are activated when people are conscious of visual facts or objects.

    The head of the researchers claimed that the temporary shutdown of parts of the brain may also be a neural mechanism aiming at preventing the brain from realizing the blink and that everything has gone dark. Furthermore, Dr Bristow argued that certain parts of the brain are also suppressed when we tickle ourselves. Surprisingly enough this is not the case when other people tickle us.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [02] Bill Was Submitted to Parliament State-Private Sector Partnership

    04 Aug 2005 18:00:00 (Last updated: 04 Aug 2005 21:32:03)

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    The partnership between the Public and the Private Sector, which paves the way for the construction of major infrastructure nationwide, is expected to give a boost to the Greek economy. The relevant Bill drafted by the Economy Ministry was submitted to Parliament on Thursday. Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis presented the new reforms and he spoke of an instrumental reform that relates to the construction of new infrastructure as well as to the provision of better state-run services at a lower cost. The new reforms enable the private enterprises to take on infrastructure projects, including the guarding of public premises and the operation of computing systems in public services. They are also expected to take on part of the risks connecting to the funding and the availability of each service. PASOK described the Bill as bureaucratic, centralized and ministry-oriented. On its part, KKE accused the government of "Securing the ruthless contracts with decision taken in Parliament."

    Aiming at Attracting Private Investment

    The government is expecting that the new reforms are to attract private investments. The overall construction cost of a project or a service should not exceed 200 million euros, while the Interdepartmental Committee is to approve larger sums.

    The partnerships, which enable the Public Sector to incorporate the know-how and the novelty of the Private Sector, are excluded form all activities, including national defence, justice and reforming, that the Constitution has exclusively assigned to the government

    At the same time, the Economy Ministry clarified that the partnerships are to be viewed as optional, while shortly after the Law passes, minor projects are to be put forward.

    Mr Alogoskoufis noted that over the last 16 months, the government has launched a string of initiatives to enhance business and to improve productivity so that the Greek economy becomes extrovert and competitive.

    Opposition Lashed out Criticism

    The Bill introduced by the Economy Ministry fuelled strong reactions on the part of the Opposition parties.

    PASOK spokesperson Nikos Athanasakis underscored that the Draft Bill contains many vague elements that "run contrary to transparency and pave the way for nepotism. They also cater for dealings aiming at serving particular interests."

    He also mentioned that the forecast regarding the expansion of the collaboration and the provision of services, mostly in the fields of health and education, do not give clear answers. He then went on to accusing the government of submitting the Bill with a 17-month delay. He, finally, underlined that the partnerships have already been implemented successfully by the previous PASOK governments, citing the construction of Attica Road. "The citing of such characterizations is quite impressive, especially when he himself confesses to not having the time to thoroughly read the Bill," answered government spokesperson Thodoris Rousopoulos.

    "Employees will pay for the construction and operation of public infrastructure by the private enterprises, both as taxpayers and users," said KKE.

    Meanwhile, KKE accused the ruling party of continuing the anti-populist policy implemented by the previous PASOK governments, and proposed a state-run body friendly to the citizens needs be established so that "Public projects can be viewed as social goods rather than commodities."

    SYN also expressed its objection to the Bill. SYN parliamentarian Panagiotis Laphazanis accused the government of "Deciding to sell out all public services and infrastructure to benefit the interests of the private enterprises," and "It paves the way for the full submission of the state to the private enterprises," a policy that has been launched by previous PASOK governments.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [03] 43,000 to Switch Off the Lights

    04 Aug 2005 16:52:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    "Wanted: Person - irrespective of sex, age or educational level - to switch off the lights at the Town Hall." This is what the employment ad that might be placed by the Staffordshire County Council in the UK should read, as the council created a job for someone to make sure all the lights are switched off in the building. The Council offers the hefty salary of 43,000 euros annually to the lucky person who will be responsible for turning everything off at the end of the day. It all started when the locals complained that the lights and the computers were left on all night, wasting taxpayers money. So, the County Council created the post in question and defended the high salary, estimating that the power bill would rise by about 1.5 million euros in the next year, so the job would be cost effective. However, many of the locals are reacting to the exuberant pay, while eyebrows were also raised within the Council. "Its common sense to just tell people to turn of the lights. This is a lot of taxpayers money and the post needs to more than pay for itself to be considered a success," noted Councillor Robert Simpson.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [04] Bill Voted by Parliament Immigration Bill Passed

    04 Aug 2005 20:56:00


    Amidst disputes, triggered by PASOKs amendment regarding the awarding of Greek citizenship to Greek expatriates from Albania residing in Greece for at least three years, the 2nd Recess Section of Parliament adopted articles 45-98 of the Immigration Bill. The first 45 articles were adopted on Wednesday. At the discussion, the reforms on the issues of family reunion and handling of trafficking attracted Oppositions criticism. Opposition rapporteurs requested a bolder handling of the family reunion be provisioned. PASOK rapporteur Mr Vlatis underscored that the reforms in question "Subject the immigrants in Greece to the torment of divided families." On his part, KKE rapporteur Mr Skopelitis pointed out, "The reunion becomes more difficult, if not impossible," while Athanasios Leventis of SYN asked the time when immigrants enter Greece be proven by other documents apart from Visa.

    Harsh Tongue on Trafficking

    Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos repeated his decision to apply the legalizing procedures only to those immigrants whose entrance in Greece meets all legal prerequisites and therefore own a visa.

    "We should not forget that illegal immigration entails dangers we must pay particular attention to. We should not underestimate the fact that international terrorism finds ways through our omissions," said the Minister and added, "We are obliged to find a golden mean, for we have the democratic values and the courage to put forward more favourable provisions on deportation than the ones we had in power previously."

    "Trafficking victims need unconditioned protection," maintained PASOK parliamentarian Angela Gerekou, who went on to criticizing the provisions that allow the trafficking victims only one-month deadline to cooperate with the authorities. KKE spokesperson Orestis Kolozov also drew his attention to the aforementioned problem and argued, "The Bill does not aim at helping the victims. Instead, it uses them to fight the illegal mechanisms."

    Dispute Over PASOK's Amendment

    The dispute between the government and PASOK, following the latters amendment, was rather fierce.

    Minister of the Interior Mr Pavlopoulos made it clear that the issue is disturbed by the Albanian authorities refusal to consent to a bilateral pact. PASOK MP Grigoris Niotis argued that the Constitution of the neighbouring country secures that the Albanian citizenship cannot be revoked unless the Albanian citizens themselves renounce it.

    The conflict escalated when ND parliamentarian Levteris Zagoritis accused PASOK of "unbelievable irresponsibility" that equals to "shame".

    PASOK parliamentarian spokesperson Charis Kastanidis requested permission to speak but it was refused, resulting in his blaming the Parliament Board for "lack of neutrality."

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Voting for Immigration Bill

    [05] Weather Changes as of Thursday Afternoon Heat Before the Storm

    04 Aug 2005 16:26:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Summer continues playing its tricks, since the weather is changing as of Thursday afternoon and the scorching heat will be replaced by showers and thunderstorms. According to an emergency dangerous weather bulletin, the Hellenic National Meteorological Service forecasts local thunderstorms and strong winds, mainly in Macedonia, Epirus, the northern Ionian Sea, Thessaly and Western Sterea, while the temperatures will drop significantly. Similar weather conditions are forecast for Friday and Saturday in the same areas, including mainland Greece and the northern Aegean. The Civil Protection General Secretariat is on alert so as to intervene in case bad weather creates serious problems, while it advised citizens to take the necessary self-protection measures. According to the meteorologists, the weather is expected to improve as of Sunday, while the temperate will reach the normal levels for the season around next week.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [06] Calm After the Storm

    04 Aug 2005 15:58:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ANA

    The adventures of the excursionists, who wish to spend their holidays on the Greek islands, came to a halt today. All shipping routes from Piraeus Port are being held undisturbed. Regarding the food supplying of the Aegean island, the engagement of the Navy seems to be providing a temporary solution to the problem. For the time being, Greek Navy ships will be transporting goods to the islands. Ikaria and Samos landing ships have already transported amounts of goods and food supplies to the islands of Santorini and Paros, and are returning to the naval dockyard in Salamis. In the morning, Rhodes landing ship set sail to the islands of Ikaria and Samos.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [07] "Bonus Miles" Programme "Highspeed 5" Hits the Water

    04 Aug 2005 15:51:00

    By Anna Kourti

    Greek shipping company Hellenic Seaways new ship, Highspeed 5, was inaugurated on Thursday afternoon, at the marina of the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) exhibition centre, while the ceremony was attended by the Mercantile Marine Ministrys General Secretary, Ioannis Tzoanou. The passenger-vehicle carrier Catamaran will be performing the following routes: Piraeus-Paros (in less than 2.5 hours), Piraeus-Syros (in 2 hours and 15 minutes), Piraeus-Mykonos (in 3 hours) and Piraeus-Tinos (in 3 hours and 35 minutes). The shipping company is also implementing a "Bonus Miles" programme, thus providing passengers who travel with its ships for over 1,000 miles to claim gifts (in tickets) amounting to 10% of the value of the tickets they paid to travel those 1,000 miles. Furthermore, multi-route tickets will be available. These will be a package of 20 tickets (departure-arrival) at a 20% discount and 10% off the value of the tickets paid by passengers, depending on the mileage they travelled, as well as another package of 20 tickets at a 10% discount.

    The main characteristics of Highspeed 5 are: 85m long, 21.2m wide, average speed of 38-42 knots, capacity of 809 passengers in three classes (economy, business and VIP) and capacity of 154 vehicles. The ship was built in Australia in 2005.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [08] Warns of New UK, US Attacks Al Qaeda Airs New Video

    04 Aug 2005 16:38:00 (Last updated: 04 Aug 2005 22:42:26)

    By Vivian Papastefanou

    AL Qaeda threatens more attacks against Britain and the USA due to their policy. In a video ran on Al Jazeera TV station, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaedas No. 2 man, argued that Blairs policy is to bring more destruction to the British. "I am telling you that Blair brought you destruction in the middle of London and more will come," he said. In the same video, he also warned the Americans of "such horror that you will forget the horrors of Vietnam." "What you saw in New York and Washington and what you are seeing in Afghanistan, are just the initial losses. Should you continue the same hostile policy, you will experience things that will make you forget this horror," he concluded. US President George Bush commented on al-Zawahiris statements late on Thursday night. "The statements of al-Qaedas No. 2 man clearly demonstrate that Iraq is part of the war against terrorism and that we are in war," Mr Bush stated and he noted, "We fight the terrorists in regions including Iraq so that we will not have to fight them in our country."

    "You Will Not Dream of Security"

    He also referred to the truce that Osama bin Laden offered to the European countries in 2004, requesting they pull out from Afghanistan and Iraq should they want to live in peace. The Europeans had rejected his proposal.

    "To the people of the crusader coalition, our blessed Sheikh Osama has offered you a truce so that you leave Muslim land. But, as he said, you will not dream of security until security becomes a reality in Palestine and until all your infidel armies leave Prophet Mohammads lands," he argued.

    "Our message to you is clear, strong and final. There will be no salvation until you pull out from our land, stop stealing our oil and resources and end support for infidel Arab rulers," Zawahri concluded.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [09] 3 Fatalities and 3 Injured Bus Shooting in Israel

    04 Aug 2005 18:28:00 (Last updated: 04 Aug 2005 19:29:46)

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Sources: Reuters

    An Israeli soldier was the perpetrator of the attack on a bus in northern Galilee, Israel. The gunman opened fire against the passengers of a bus following a conflict. Three passengers were shot dead and further three were injured. The Israeli was arrested and he is been questioning. Israeli authorities have ruled out the possibility that it is an anti-Israel attack.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [10] On Not Recognising Turkey Turkey Insists

    04 Aug 2005 17:19:00 (Last updated: 04 Aug 2005 20:26:22)

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced his desolation over the statements made by French PM Dominique de Villepin, who said that Ankara should recognise Cyprus before entering into accession talks with the EU. The Turkish PM further announced that his country would not be accepting any new conditions for opening discussions. Meanwhile, he noted that Turkey is fervently preparing for the negotiations, adding that French President Jacques Chirac has reassured him that the recognition of Cyprus prior to 3 October is not necessary. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy responded harshly to Ankaras fierce reactions, describing the countrys stance as unacceptable, while he repeated that recognising the Republic of Cyprus was a necessary precondition for the commencement of accession talks. "Not wanting to recognise one country in the Union while wanting to join, thats not acceptable. We would like there to be an extensive discussion on this question within the EU." Douste-Blazy told Le Monde newspaper in an interview. At the same time, the European Commission issued a warning for Ankara over religious freedom.

    Respecting Religious Freedom

    The European Commission sent a letter to Turkey protesting against the countrys legislation regarding religious institutions, for it runs contrary to the standards the EU has set on the rights of non-Muslim communities.

    "Turkey has a long way ahead before it meets all standards and enters the EU. Religious Freedom is a key priority for us and it will be a pivotal element for the negotiations," said a European Commission spokesperson. However, the commencement of accession talks, which is scheduled for October 3, is not under threat.

    Turkey is being working on a new Draft Bill that is expected to limit the restrictions regarding the assets of non-Muslim communities, including the Greek-Orthodox one. However, diplomats of the EU have said that the aforementioned Bill remains stagnant. On his part, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew has recently voiced his desolation over the Ankaras stance on issues that relate to the Patriarchate.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related News:

    Ankara Statement is One-Sided

    France Obstructs Turkish Accession

    [11] .5% Growth Rate for Economy 3.9% Inflation in July

    04 Aug 2005 20:18:00

    By Annita Paschalinou

    As per National Statistical Service of Greece, due to the different date that marked the commencement of the summer sale period as well as the rise in oil prices, Julys inflation amounted to 3.9% compared to that of 3.3% recorded in June. At the same time, the gross domestic product rose to 3.5% in the second quarter of 2005. However, investments dropped by 4% as opposed to the corresponding quarter in 2004. The completion of the Olympic projects is to be held accountable for this fall.


    The rise in inflation fuelled reactions on the part of PASOK and GSEE (Greek General Confederation Of Labour).

    "While inflation keeps rising and high prices torment the Greek houses, the government remains an onlooker," Nikos Athanasakis pointed out.

    On its part GSEE issued an announcement with which it blamed the government for lack of sufficient measures. "The first results from the increase in VAT, which escalated high prices, are reflected on the rise in the inflation that is spreading and sucking the income of wage earners and pensioners."

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [12] The First Meeting Thessaloniki Welcomes the New Artists

    03 Aug 2005 15:40:00

    By Vivian Papastefanou

    Thessaloniki welcomed the new artists who will be competing at the Greek Song Festival on 6 October in a friendly and warm atmosphere. During a Press conference organised by the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and ERT, the journalists had the opportunity to meet the artist for the first time. Parts of the original songs were also heard during the interview. Apart from the artists, others who attended the meeting included ERTs President and CEO Christos Panagopoulos, ERTs Commissioned Board Member Giorgos Chouliaras, the Director of ERTs Second Programme, Margarita Mytilinaiou and the President of ERT3 Dimitris Tsamis. Mrs Mytilinaiou presented the artists and the songs.

    Aiming at Promoting New Artists

    Both TIFs Commissioned Board Member, as well as ERTs President voiced their satisfaction over the songs chosen. Mr Nikos Kassimatis also declared he was very pleased with the collaboration between TIF and ERT over this initiative, underlining, "We will all gain something from this Song Festival," while he noted that Thessaloniki embraces the concept. Mr Christos Panagopoulos stressed that ERT aims at promoting new artists and new styles of music, as well as paving new ways for Greek songs.

    On his part, ERTs Commissioned Board Member Giorgos Chouliaras underlined, "Our aim is to spice up Thessaloniki with this Festival." Meanwhile, he mentioned that all the songs would be ready by 22 August, at which time they will start being played on TV and the radio, while he added that they will all be accompanied by video clips. He also added that the songs of the established artists would be ready by 25 August.

    Mr Chouliaras announced that the Festival would take place in PAOKs Indoor Hall, where a large and specialised team is already working on the entire technical infrastructure.

    With regard to the hosts, he noted that they have not picked out any names yet, however, they are holding discussions, while he revealed that it would be a man and a woman. Meanwhile, he mentioned that many surprises are in store for both nights. He did say, though, that on the first night, an adaptation of all the songs that have taken part in the Festival would be heard, but with a more contemporary beat. In addition, a small part of the second night would be dedicated to Stavros Kougioumtzis, with many important artists singing songs written by him.

    Answering to questions regarding the selection process and the reactions appearing on ERTonlines forum about the Festival, ERTs President noted that nothing was done on purpose, while the forum is open to anyone wishing to express their opinion.

    He also mentioned that such reactions were expected, since some of the artist who were not selected feel they were wronged. In addition, ERTs Commissioned Board Member underlined that it is a healthy reaction, which is not frowned upon.

    On his part, TIFs Commissioned Board Member pointed out that these reactions offend the Festival and the artists, who are established in the music sector and happy to support this effort.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [13] One Billion Sales in 2009 Mobile Phone Sales Skyrocket

    04 Aug 2005 11:33:00

    By Thanasis Karlos

    The sales of mobile phones will exceed one billion annually by the year 2009, since they are now considered a basic necessity. It is estimated that 2.6 billion people all over the planet will own at least one mobile phone by then, as per the Gartner research group. Specifically, 1.04 billion phones will be sold in 2009, as opposed to 779 million that are expected to be sold this year and 674 million that were sold in 2004. In comparison, approximately 200 million computers and 200 million TV sets are sold annually.

    Price Will Drop to $161 by 2009

    "Mobile phones could go on to be the most common consumer electronics devices on the planet," noted Ben Wood, research vice-president for mobile terminals at Gartner.

    "China and India alone will account for nearly 200 million units in 2007, with the Indian market surpassing China in 2009 to reach 139 million units," said Ann Liang, Gartners principal analyst for mobile terminals in the Asia-Pacific region.

    The average wholesale price of a mobile phone will decline from US$174 in 2004 to US$161 in 2009, while at he same time, phones will keep getting more complex and become ever-more packed with features.

    "The profit margins will shrink dramatically, both in the mature, as well as the emerging markets. Many small players will be forced to abandon," underlined Ben Wood.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [14] Batman Deluxe

    04 Aug 2005 14:55:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    People of all ages would do anything to live in Batmans cave even for one day. Wishful thinking? Not anymore. The management of Hotel Hilton in Buenos Aires decided to make the dream a reality and converted Room 538 on the 5th floor of the luxurious establishment into a place Bruce Wayne would feel right at home. And since apart from crime fighter, Mr Wayne was also a millionaire, the services offered are five-star, while the cave is the fancier ever.

    It is dark and equipped with all sorts of gadgets, toys and TVs, constantly screening movies starring the superhero, promising guests an unforgettable stay.

    It is actually a theme room, dedicated to the lovable Bat, created in collaboration with Warner Bros, which holds the rights to the movies. Everything is in there. High-tech equipment, uniforms, as well as a secret passage leading to the adjacent suite, from where parents can keep an eye on their bat-child next door. Upon departure, the children receive a commemorative certificate by the masked hero.

    It should be noted that the Argentinean Hilton in Puerto Madera has made theme rooms a tradition. Last year, the same room was painted pink and was equipped with all of Barbies accessories, in a joint effort with toy company Mattel.

    The venture was quite lucrative, so the management decided it was time to cater for little boys. Coinciding with the release of Batman Begins, they seized the opportunity and joined in the Batmanmania. "Anyway, Batman is the coolest superhero," commented a Hilton spokesperson.

    Maybe next year, Room 538 could become Harry Potters hangout.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [15] The Beckhams Get Branded

    04 Aug 2005 15:46:00

    By Ilias Papaioannou

    David and Victoria Beckham decided to have their love forever etched on their skin, so as to commemorate their 6-year wedding anniversary. So without second thoughts, the British star of Real Madrid and the former Spice Girls singer added yet another tattoo to their body, which is probably the most significant of them all. "I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me, who grazes sheep in rose-like pastures," is inscribed on Davids arm and Victorias neck. It should be noted that the message is written in Hebrew, as Davids mother is of Jewish descent. The fruits of their 6-year marriage are their three sons, Romeo, Brooklyn and Cruz, whose names are tattooed on Davids body.

    Turbulent Relationship

    In spite of all that, rumour has it that with this move, the famous showbiz couple is trying to breathe new life into their turbulent relationship, which has been rocked by scandals in the past. What is more, David Beckhams shenanigans recently with Rebecca Loos and Sarah Marbeck brought jealous Victoria on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

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