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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-11-20

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Wintry Scenery
  • [02] Bush Pressures China
  • [03] Is Aspartame Dangerous?
  • [04] Incidents in the Centre of Athens
  • [05] Putin in Tokyo

  • [01] Cold Wave until Tuesday Wintry Scenery

    20 Nov 2005 12:34:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Winter will start setting in as of today, Sunday, and at least until Tuesday, with forecasts for low temperatures, strong winds and rain. Actually, the first snowfalls were recorded in Cholomontas, and the mountainous regions of Grevena and Florina. It is extremely cold throughout Greece, as the temperatures dropped by up to 10 degrees Celsius in many areas. According to the meteorologists, the lowest temperatures are expected in Kastoria, -7 degrees, while the mercury will drop to -6 in Kozani, -5 in Ioannina and -3 in Serres. In an emergency bulletin, the Hellenic National Meteorological Service (HNMS) warned of gusty winds in the seas, while the ships have been departing as scheduled up until now. Both the Greek Civil Protection Authority and the Interior Ministry are on alert to deal with any possible problems.

    However, despite the adverse weather conditions, scientists are declaring that Greeces climate is becoming warmer every year. According to a report by the Athens Observatorys climatic changes team, which recorded climatic changes from 1999 to 2004, the average temperature has increased by 2 degrees in Magnisia, 1.6 in Attica, 1.1 in Thrace, 0.6 on the islands of the Eastern Aegean and 0.4 in Crete. The director of the HNMS, Michalis Petrakis, declared on TV station NET, "An upward trend in the temperature is being observed over the last ten years, while, since 1995, the red line keeps increasing steadily."

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Related Links:

    Greek Civil Protection Authority

    [02] Call for Reforms Bush Pressures China

    20 Nov 2005 10:58:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    US President George Bush, who met with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in the context of his three-day visit to Asia, urged Beijing to increase the countrys social, political and religious freedoms. At the same time, Bush called on the Chinese President to rein the countrys trade surplus and review Chinas monetary policy, in view of the recent revaluation of the yuan. On his part, the Chinese President accepted Bushs invitation to visit the USA in the beginning of 2006, but he did not grant any concessions on the issue of human rights. However, he appeared more willing to collaborate in economic matters. At the same time, Hu Jintao stressed that China "will by no means tolerate so-called Taiwan independence." It should be noted that Taiwan has a defence agreement with the USA and Bush recently praised the country, speaking of a "free and democratic Chinese society." However, the US Presidents visit coincided with an agreement for the purchase of 70 Boeing 737 planes, worth some $5 billion, by eight Chinese companies.

    Focus of Trade

    Following the 90-minute meeting between the two leaders, Hu Jintao defended the "democratic rights" enjoyed by the Chinese.

    "China will continue to build up democracy with its own characteristics and improve its peoples human rights based on the actual situation and the aspiration of the people," added the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, who has been in power since 1949, clarifying that the countrys regime is not expected to change any time soon.

    At the same time, in an effort to appease the USA, as well as Europe, the Chinese President repeated his countrys pledge to reform its currency system. In fact, Bush asked China again this week to allow its local currency to follow the rules of the market.

    In addition, the two leaders agreed to "join hands", as noted by the Chinese President, to achieve a balance of trades, while Beijing declared it is ready to combat the illegal piracy of American goods.

    However, the US President did not manage to secure specific commitments on trade and economic matters, while the American trade deficit for transactions with China is expected to reach a record $200 billion this year.

    The US President commenced his visit in Beijing by attending a Sunday service at Gangwashi Church, along with his wife Laura, while, after meeting with Hu Jintao, he held discussions with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. On Monday, he will depart for Mongolia, the last stop of his tour of Asia.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Read the story on other sources:

    CNN: Bush asks China to expand freedoms

    China Daily: Hu holds talks with Bush; to visit US early next year

    [03] Study by Italian Scientists on Rats Is Aspartame Dangerous?

    20 Nov 2005 09:28:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    A study conducted by Italian scientists on rats has raised questions as to the safety of aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in thousands of dietary food products. As per Morando Soffritti and his team at the Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Centre in Bologna, Italy, rats that consumed aspartame, even in smaller quantities than those recommended, ran a higher risk of manifesting cancer. The scientists fed 1,800 rodents with aspartame as early as the age of 8 weeks. They then let them live out their lives and die of natural causes. After their dearth, they started performing tests. Although the methodology was described as unorthodox, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced they will be examining the new findings. On their part, the companies manufacturing sweeteners are claiming that although hundreds of millions of consumers have been using aspartame for at least 20 years, there have been no indications that it may cause cancer on humans.

    Sour Sweetness!

    As demonstrated by the Italian experiment, which was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives , the female rats manifested some types of cancers at a higher frequency.

    Specifically, 20% of the female rats had lymphoma or leukaemia, compared to 9% of the aspartame-free females, while male rats manifested those types of cancer only when fed higher doses of sweetener. In addition, the frequency of cancer in female rats increased at doses 20 to 500mm per kilogramme of bodyweight.

    The study in question was based on an unorthodox experimental protocol, since, in similar surveys, the rats are killed at the age of two to facilitate the statistical analysis. On the other hand, though, it reveals the development of cancer at an older age.

    However, even if the results are verified, the scientists do not know precisely how aspartame could cause cancer. Anyhow, the sweetener breaks into components that are found in natural foods. One explanation could be methanol, one of the components of aspartame.

    Aspartame was approved by the FDA in 1981, after a series of tests were conducted to examine the threat of cancer. The EFSA reviewed the substance in 2002, without, however, altering the results of the previous studies, which demonstrated that it was safe.

    It should be noted that the highest recommended limit for humans is 40mm per kilogramme of bodyweight daily. Practically, what this means is that someone has to consume over 28 cans of dietary soft drinks on the same day to exceed the limit.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Read the story on other sources:

    Nature.com: Aspartame linked to increased cancer risk in rats

    Related Links:

    EFSA

    FDA

    [04] At the Offices of Chrysi Avgi Incidents in the Centre of Athens

    20 Nov 2005 10:07:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Sources: ANA

    Serious incidents, which resulted in the injury of two people, were recorded on Saturday night outside the offices of Greek nationalistic group Chrysi Avgi, on 74 Solonos Street, Exarhia. At around 19:30, some 30 people, wearing hoods and helmets, attacked the building, throwing Molotov cocktails and causing damages to the offices and a parked car. Then, the perpetrators fled the scene, but someone opened fire against them with a semiautomatic. Police officers who rushed to the scene found a 32-year-old man injured by pellets, who was taken to hospital, as well as another 22-year-old who was wounded. In the early hours of the morning, the Police searched the offices of the extreme right-wing group and found six Molotov cocktails, which they confiscated. A search for the hooded perpetrators, as well as those who fired the shots, is underway. On their part, the two men who were injured declared that they were passersby; however, they are being detained and will appear before the Prosecutor.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [05] First Official Visit Putin in Tokyo

    20 Nov 2005 11:26:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Russian President Vladimir Putins first official visit to Japan aims at further reinforcing the trade relations, already amounting to $9 billion annually, between the two countries. Putin arrived in Japan on Sunday, accompanied by 100 important businessmen, for a visit that is considered extremely beneficial, since Japan needs crude oil and Russia has huge reserves. Actually, Japan has already invested on the Russian energy sector and is competing against China for participation in the construction of a pipeline, which will carry crude oil from Siberia to the Pacific. However, the issue of the Kuriles Islands, which are located on the borders between the two countries and have been causing territorial disputes since WWII, is expected to be the thorny matter of the three-day visit. The Japanese side believes that the 60-year row will not be resolved as PM Junichiro Koizumi declared that a deep gap remains on the specific issue. In addition, Foreign Minister Taro Aso proposed an agreement for the promotion of common economic programmes on the islands, since both countries insist that they have rights over the territory in question.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    Read the story on other sources:

    Mainichi Daily News: Putin's visit to Japan focusing on economy, avoiding territorial dispute

    Reuters: Putin in Tokyo for oil and territorial talks


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