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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-01-09
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Normal Post-Seismic Activity Recording Damages09 Jan 2006 13:43:00 (Last updated: 09 Jan 2006 20:39:37)
The post-seismic activity in the sea of Kythira is viewed as normal following the earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale, while the recording of damages, mostly on old and uninhabited buildings, is underway. School Building Organisation (OSK) panels detected problems in kindergarten in Kythira, in four schools in the Prefecture of Chania and two kindergartens in the Prefecture of Laconia. Twenty aftershocks have been recorded since Sunday afternoon, measuring between 3 and 5 on the Richter scale, most of which have not been felt. On Monday morning, Greek PM Kostas Karamanlis voiced his support towards those who faced problems because of the earthquake, while he congratulated all the competent bodies for their quick response. In the meantime, a quake between the islands of Crete and Kythira was a common secret, as per seismologists, since they are claiming a "seismic gap" had existed for years, so it was only a matter of time. Although there were different estimations, even conflicts as to whether there had been a prediction or whether a tremor can be predicted, everyone speaks of calm and alert.
PASOK and KKE Expressed Their Support
PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanasakis voiced his party's support to all the citizens who live on the much-affected areas, as well as "everyone's relief that the tremor's epicentre was such that did not caused greater and graver problems." Furthermore, Mr Athanasakis added, "The government seems to be satisfied over the state's response. The response was indeed sufficient as far as the gathering of information on the problems caused is concerned."
In an announcement, KKE expressed its solidarity to the quake-stricken and noted that the protection of the residents and their properties from earthquakes constitutes a major and immediate infrastructure work, which has been left behind due to ND and PASOK policies.
In the meantime, a panel of the Local Union of Municipalities and Communities in Attica (TEDKNA) is scheduled to visit Kythira on Tuesday. The Deputy Defence Minister Vasilis Michalioliakos and the Secretary General of the Ministry for the Interior Thanasis Vezyrgiannis will also visit the island on the same day.
Has Hit Before
Earthquakes had hit the specific area before. In 1903, in Mitata, Kythira, a 7.3 quake resulted in immense damages and fatalities. Four children were injured, two of which died. As seismologist Vassilis Papazachos notes in his book Earthquakes of Greece , a loud noise, similar to the firing of a canon, preceded the quake, while the aftershocks continued for a week. In Mitata, as well as the village Variadika, which was also destroyed, rifts were created in the ground, one of which was 200m long, 1cm wide and had a NW-SE direction. The schools and the church collapsed, despite the fact that they were newly-constructed. In addition, houses collapsed in Avlemona, while the village Kapsali was destroyed to the ground. The quake also caused damages in Lakonia, while rifts and landslides were recorded in Leonidio and Kynouria. In addition, damages were recorded in Corinth and on Santorini, while it was felt throughout Greece, along the Dalmatian Coasts up to Trieste, in Southern Italy, Sicily, Malta, Benghazi, Egypt, Asia Minor, Izmir and Istanbul.
Had Been Forecast
Honorary Professor Vassilis Papazachos of the University of Thessaloniki and his associates had forecast yesterdays earthquake back in 2002. They located the epicentre with a 30km deviation (a 100km deviation is acceptable scientifically), and the magnitude, with a 0.1 Richter deviation.
They published their paper in the scientific journal "Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America", pp 570-580. On p 577, the article mentions that the seismologists forecasted a strong seismic tremor, with an epicentre at 36.4N 23.0E, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale. As per Mr Papazachos, the epicentre of yesterdays quake was at 36.2N 23.3E and measured 6.9 Richter.
Sundays earthquake, however, greatly relieved the scientific team led by Mr Papazachos. "We had forecasted a quake with great probability and we were expecting it," he said. They had said that it would occur sometime in 2004, with a 2.5-year deviation. "The scientifically-acceptable deviation in predicting the epicentre is 100km," added Mr Papazachos, while he noted that the epicentre could have been on land. "If you forecast a very strong earthquake and it delays in occurring, this means that the accumulation of seismic energy in the area continues, which kept stressing us," he said.
However, Mr Papazachos team was not the only one that that forecasted yesterdays quake. According to the Technological Institute (TEI) of Crete, it was bound to happen for at least three years. In addition, estimates for an earthquake measuring between 6.7 and 7.4 Richter in the specific area sometime after mid-2005 had been voiced during the European Geophysics Society General Assembly in France in 2002, as well as the 10th International Convention of the Greek Geological Society, which took place between 15 and 17 April 2004 at the University of Macedonia Convention Centre.
The scientific announcements had been made by the Director of the Geophysics and Seismology Laboratory at TEI Crete, Philippos Vallianatos, and Lecturer Errikos-Andreas Tzanis of the University of Athens. "Out laboratory had been focusing its interest in the specific area for the last two to three years, after a series of scientific publications. It had already forecasted the expected magnitude two years ago. In fact, it had described the exact emanation of the seismic energy," declared Mr Vallianatos.
"In an announcement we made two years ago at the European Geophysics General Assembly and the Convention of the Greek Geological Society in April 2004, we were saying that we were expecting an earthquake in the area for the specific fault, sometime after mid-2005 and measuring 7.1 ± 0.4. We had made an earlier estimate at the European Geophysics Society General Assembly in 2002, while it was published in the approved European journal Natural Disasters and Geosystems in 2003," added Mr Vallianatos.
Furthermore, the seismic activity of the Kythira region was also mentioned in two scientific papers by professors at the University of Athens, who advised caution.
In the first paper, which was published in the "Bulletin of the Greek Geological Society" in September 2001, after processing historical, seismological and geological evidence, Lecturer Ioannis Fountoulis and his team spoke of seismic risk in the area between the Peloponnese and Crete, forecasting an earthquake up to 7.0 on the Richter scale.
In the second paper, which was presented at an international convention organised by the University of Athens in October 2002, Assistant Professor Panagiotis Papadimitriou spoke of the possibility of a strong quake north of Crete. He also noted that the consequences would not be that disastrous, because the epicentre would be located at a great depth, under the surface of the sea. The story was also published in the magazine E of the newspaper Eleftherotypia, on 31/10/2002.
According to seismologist Kostas Papazachos of the University of Thessaloniki, the energy that was released was immense, noting that the "coils of the seismographs at the Thessaloniki Geophysics Laboratory oscillated so much, that they marked the whole surface of the paper." If we want to comprehend the magnitude of the quake, we should consider that we escaped "20 Hiroshimas", stressed the seismologists.
The energy released was 33 times greater than the 5.9 Richter quake in Athens in 1999, 20 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb and equal to the electricity consumed in Greece in four days. In addition, the continent of Africa made a major 20-year leap, approaching Europe by 90cm, while, under normal circumstances, it approaches by 4.5cm annually.
The Day After in Chania
The situation in Chania, Crete, just one day after the strong quake, was reviewed during an emergency meeting of the Prefecture's relevant authorities this morning, chaired by Prefect Giorgos Katsanevakis. According to the evidence collected, most of the problems occurred in old houses, since 40 of those had cracks. However, there is no cause for alarm. Rocks were displaced at the Venetian Dockyard in the old city, while cracks appeared in the inner walls. In addition, minor damages were recorded at the Old Town Hall on Chalidon Street.
As of this morning, ten crews started recording the situation in public buildings and schools, which remained closed. Damages were recorded at the school for autistic children in Agios Giannis, the Primary School in Kalyvia, the Primary School in Kountoura and the 2nd Gymnasium of Chania. In addition, the Mayor of Souda asked that the 1st Primary School of Souda be inspected, as it is the oldest building in the area.
The Prefect of Chania announced that all the schools will open tomorrow, while a second inspection will be performed in the afternoon on those where problems were detected and a relevant announcement will be issued later. Furthermore, the Prefect asked the Ministry of Culture to fund a preservation programme for the monuments of the old city, while the President of the Western Crete Technical Chamber, Antonis Pittaridakis, claimed that 80% of the buildings in Chania sustained no damages whatsoever, despite the intensity of the earthquake. In addition, during the meeting, participants from Crete's Higher Education institutions asked for support, since their contribution in forecasting earthquakes is significant.
Kostas Synolakis, Professor at the Natural Disasters Dept of the Crete Polytechnic School, claimed that there was a significant delay in announcing the exact epicentre and magnitude of the quake.
The Day After
East Mediterranean Rocked
Damages from the Quake
Quake Rattles Greece
 Water Level Exceeded Safety Limit Efforts to Alleviate Situation in Evros09 Jan 2006 21:16:00
By Vagelis Theodorou
The authorities of the Prefecture of Evros remain on high alert, as the water level of the River Evros exceeded the safety limit. Nearly 4,400 hectares of cultivable land have been flooded and the Prefectures Civil Protection Department advised the residents living close to the river to keep away from the river and the levees. At the same time, the relevant authorities are vying to alleviate the levees from the pressure applied to them by the increased volumes of water by releasing controlled floods. In particular, at 7:30pm on Monday and after the interventions of the crews, the water level at Pyhtio measurement station dropped to 5.88m from 6.15m in the morning, with safety limit standing at 5.70m.
Still on Alert
The relevant authorities have reinforced the levee at Kornofolia, while they have opened two dam gates at Pythios valley. Later on, another controlled flood was released. "Our goal is to flood 700 hectares to alleviate the river, yet this is not a solution," argued the Prefect of Evros Nikos Zampounidis.
Although the interventions made so far have decreased the water level, the danger is still clear and present. Depending on the developments, the authorities do not rule out proceeding with controlled floods in further five sites across the river during the night.
The problem the area suffers with is international and the Greek side has asked for Bulgaria and Turkeys cooperation to better deal with it.
Translated by Areti Christou
River Evros Overflowed
 Signals From 24 Million Km Away New Record for NASA09 Jan 2006 18:53:00
By Vagelis Theodorou
Sources: Science - BBC
A NASA spacecraft, Messenger, en route to planet Mercury made a pivotal step in the field of interplanetary communications. Researchers of the NASA Goddard SpaceFlight Centre in Maryland, US, told Science that Messenger succeeded in sending a laser signal to Earth from 24 million kilometres away. Messenger blasted off in 2004 and is expected to orbit Mercury in 2011 to explore its atmosphere and map its surface. As per the researchers, the fact that Messenger was so successful from so very far away is an outstanding technological feat. Over the coming decades, laser beams will be a common ground in the interplanetary communications, since they are faster and can replace radio communications and microwave transmitters.
New Era for Interplanetary Communications
Furthermore, Messenger is equipped with a special organ that transmits laser beams and it then records the time the beam needs to reach the Earth and then go back to the spacecraft. The experiment appeared in Science was conducted last May aiming to test the laser beams. The spacecraft transmitted short laser pulses from a record distance, namely 24 million kilometres.
Thanks to Messengers success, the interplanetary communications are bound to enter a new era, since most space missions use microwave transmitters. The technology in question is to facilitate communication because the electromagnetic radiation is rather slow. For instance, Mars Odyssey spacecraft (blasted off in 2001 on a mission to detect metals and water in the form of ice on Mars) transmits data 128Kbit per second.
It is noted that researchers have created yet another communication network. In 1992, Galileo spacecraft detected two ground-based lasers from a distance of 6 million kilometres.
Read the story on other sources:
Guardian: Long-distance laser brings Mercury closer to Earth
 Not Human-to-Human Transmission Avian Flu Raises Concern in Turkey09 Jan 2006 16:51:00
By Annita Paschalinou
The World Health Organisation argued that the avian flu cases detected in Turkey have not been transmitted from humans to humans. There were no such indications, WHO argued, however, it confirmed four cases, among which the death of two siblings in the eastern town of Dogubeyazit. As per the Turkish Health Ministry, a total of 14 people were tested positive, including three siblings who finally died. On Monday, yet five new human avian flu cases were detected, four in the north of the country and one in the province of Van. Earlier, it was made public that the six-year-old boy, the sole surviving sibling of the family in Dogubeyazit, was released from hospital, since he was not infected with the virus. As per a UN official, no one can put the blame on Turkey for its delay response to the latest avian flu outbreak.
New Cases in the Centre and North of the Country
Earlier, on Monday, five new human avian flu cases were confirmed. Four were detected in northern Turkey, in the provinces of Samsun, Kastamonu and Corum, and a fifth one in the province of Van, eastern Turkey.
So far, however, it has not been clarified how many of the 14 cases are infected with the H5N1 strain of the avian flu virus.
What seem to raise concerns the most is that the virus, now present in the east, is moving to the centre of the country, as well as to the coastline of the Black Sea, where five cases were detected (provinces of Castamonu, Corum and Samsun).
On Sunday, three human cases were also confirmed in Ankara. They were infected with the H5N1 virus.
At the same time, Brussels officials argued that further 40 suspect cases are under investigation.
Number of cases per provinces
· Province of Van: 7 with three deaths among them · Ankara: 3 · Castamonu: 2 · Corum: 1 · Samsun: 1
The World Health Organisation has confirmed only two of the three deaths in the Turkish province of Van.
Translated by Areti Christou
Read the story on other sources:
BBC: Human bird flu spreads in Turkey
Reuters: Human-to-human spread not seen in Turkish bird flu: WHO
Bird Flu Cases in Istanbul
 Between the PM and the President of Republic Briefing on Review09 Jan 2006 12:44:00 (Last updated: 09 Jan 2006 22:28:32)
By Dimitris Alexopoulos
Sources: NET, NET Radio 105.8
In their scheduled meeting at the Presidential Mansion, the Prime Minister briefed the President of the Republic on the Governments intension to proceed with reviewing the Constitution. In statements after the meeting, Mr Karamanlis stressed the aim of the review is to provide more opportunities to all the citizens. At the same time, he stressed a wide and responsible dialogue would start in the coming days on the issue, and underlined the majority of citizens and political powers recognise the need of Constitutional Review. The Government is expected to release its proposals in March. These include establishing non-government non-profit universities, abolishing Parliamentarians incompatibility status and changing the article that defines forested areas. The Prime Minister is scheduled to meet with PASOK leader George Papandreou on the issue of Constitutional Review on Monday 16.
"The Prime Minister is dealing with the issue of Review employing communication terms, exactly as he did when discussing the budget in Parliament" underlined PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanasakis.
He further added that the Review is "a quite grave matter to be presented as the icing on the cake of the governments so-called reforms," while he reminded PASOKs positive stance and the relevant statements by George Papandreou in Parliament, where, inter alia, he suggested that the state-church relations be reviewed, referenda be held, Justice be enhanced and immigrants be granted the right to vote.
"We wish for the Main Opposition despite todays statements by its spokesman to tackle Constitutional Review with a sense of responsibility and seriousness," replied government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos.
"The Government and the Main Opposition are in perfect accord, since PASOK has not depicted any intention of defending the established constitutional rights. Instead it reduces itself to a pointless criticism against the governments handlings," pointed out SYNs youth department, while referring to the issues of education, environment protection and state-church relations, they called for decisive fights.
New Code for Municipalities and Communities
Later on, Mr Papoulias received the Minister of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation, who briefed him on the plan for the new Code for Municipalities and Communities, as well as matters relating to the review of the Constitution.
The two men also held a brief discussion about yesterdays earthquake in front of reporters. Mr Pavlopoulos told the President that no serious damages were recorded, according to the latest report he received today, while Mr Papoulias noted that the State reacted quickly.
Upon exiting the Presidential Mansion, Mr Pavlopoulos declared that he briefed the President on the main axes of the plan for the new Code. The first one is the adoption of democratic institutions in the context of Local Self-Government, including local referendums and the ability of citizens to control the Municipal Board through reports and questions. The second one relates to the finances of Local Self-Government Organisations, especially in matters of municipal and community businesses, so that the Organisations can meet future challenges, and mainly those relating to the 4th Community Support Framework.
Asked whether the review of the Constitution will tackle matters such as the separation of the State and the Church and changes in the election of the President of the Republic or his responsibilities, he clarified that the Government is not examining this possibility. "Those matters were discussed during the previous review. Our stance is known. Those matters will not be discussed," answered the Minister.
 PASOK on Tour for Municipal Elections09 Jan 2006 15:10:00
By Tina Valaoura
PASOK parliamentarian that leads the partys committee on the municipal elections Alekos Papadopoulos launched today a tour on Greeces constituencies. Mytilini, the capital city of Lesvos island, was his first stop.
At the same time, the committee is to present the list of prefectures and municipalities, where opinion polls are to be conducted to indicate the most popular candidates to run for mayors and prefects.
Mr Papadopoulos is scheduled to visit Macedonia the coming week, while he regularly briefs PASOK leader George Papandreou on the talks held by the partys committee on the municipal elections.
Translated by Areti Christou
 Handed Over to Karolos Papoulias First New Style Passport to President09 Jan 2006 12:11:00
By Dimitris Alexopoulos
Sources: NET - ANA
On Monday morning, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias, visited the Greek Polices passport directorate, where the Minister of Public Order, Giorgos Voulgarakis, handed him the first new style Greek passport, which is considered one of the most secure in the world. The passport carries the symbolic number 1, while Mr Papoulias voiced his satisfaction, as it would make travelling for Greek citizens easier, due to the new secure travel documents. In addition, pointing to Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, he added jokingly that, as frequent travellers, they both need secure passports.
In his speech, Mr Voulgarakis said that the secure passports are a bet which Greece has to win, in order to dismiss the feeling of inferiority it has in this sector.
On his part, the Chief of Police, vice general Giorgos Aggelakos, referred to the safety net provided by the new passports, as they cannot be forged.
As it was announced, 1,575 new style passports have been issued up until today by 138 different government agencies, including Consulates.
The number would have been greater if citizens submitted the correct documents needed for issuing the new passports.
The problems are mainly associated with the photographs, which do not fulfill the standards, but the agencies are making efforts to overcome the hitches.
Approximately 70% of the applications have been returned, due to those technical problems.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
 Despite International Reactions Iran Resumes Nuclear Research09 Jan 2006 10:14:00
By Dimitris Alexopoulos
Today, Iran announced its decision to resume research on nuclear fuel. This decision is expected to trigger intense international reactions, as EU and US officials have repeatedly voiced their opposition and have clarified to Tehran that such a fact would suffer a serious blow to diplomatic efforts aiming to settle the crisis. Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said Iran's decision is "a wrong step to the wrong direction that raises great concerns." At the same time, the UN's Security Council has warned that resuming research would be enough to lead to sanctions. International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Mohamed El Baradei stressed in an interview to be broadcast today on Sky Television that the world is "running out of patience with Iran".
Translated by Sofia Soulioti
Read the story on other sources:
BBC:Iran to resume nuclear research
 Al Qaeda Claimed Responsibility Double Suicide Attack09 Jan 2006 14:01:00 (Last updated: 09 Jan 2006 17:35:03)
By Tina Valaoura
A parade celebrating the 84th anniversary since the establishment of the Iraqi Police force, taking place at the police academy next door to the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, became the target of suicide bombers. At least 28 people lost their lives to the double suicide hit, while 25 sustained injuries.
As per first indications, the police estimate that the two bombers managed to get past a series of checkpoints and sneak in the heavily guarded compound - to detonate the explosives- dressed in police uniforms. Many high-ranking officials attended the celebration, including the US ambassador, the Iraqi Minister of Defence and Interior and the US military spokesman, who denied an Iraqi state television report that a mortar bomb had hit the parade ground. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack by posting an announcement on an Islamic website, normally used by insurgents. The authenticity of the announcement has not yet been confirmed.
This is not the first time the Interior Ministry is being attacked by Sunni insurgents, who accuse it of running Shia militia oppressing the minority Sunni Arab community. Authorities deny such accusations, however last November US soldiers discovered a bunker run by the Interior Ministry containing 170 prisoners, mostly Sunni Arabs, many of them showing signs of torture.
Translated by Sofia Soulioti
 Greek Economy's Priorities09 Jan 2006 14:54:00 (Last updated: 09 Jan 2006 19:45:37)
By Tina Valaoura
Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis described 2006 as a year of implementing the reforms and witnessing their results. Mr Alogoskoufis said that achieving a deficit drop below 3% remains a firm objective.
The Governments priorities for 2006 also include the Public Utilities and Enterprises (DEKO), since the relevant committee is to hold a meeting on the implementation of the new Bill on DEKO.
Privatisations, particularly in the banking sector, are a keynote priority, as well. The Greek Postal Savings Bank is to be listed to the Athens Exchange, the shares of the Agricultural banks are to be sold and the Emporiki Bank is to be further privatised.
During 2006 the dialogue on the social security issue is to continue, the bill regulating the taxation of natural persons is to be forwarded, new guidelines on the National Strategic Reference Framework is to be drawn up and the efforts on combating tax evasion are to be reinforced.
Furthermore, new legislative initiatives will emerge regarding the setting-up of an institutional body assigned to conduct fiscal inspections, the new framework for the better use of the states property and the new framework for the enhancement of the National Export Council.
Besides, the Economy Minister claimed that the efforts made to reinforce private investments have bore fruit, while he reiterated that the government is firmly oriented to the fiscal reorganisation and growth.
Finally, with regard to the revenue policy, Mr Alogoskoufis underlined that the greatest possible rises will be given.
Changes in the Banking Sector's Working Hours
In the meantime, the Economy Ministers proposal that banks housed in shopping malls remain open fuelled a new round of talks regarding the working-hour scheme in the banking sector.
Mr Alogoskoufis made it clear that the aforementioned proposal is nothing but his personal opinion and added that OTOE (Hellenic Federation of Bank Employee Unions) should cease intervening in a deregulated market, thus causing the strong reaction on the part of the bank employees.
OTOE President Dimitris Tsoukalas claimed that should employers raise such an issue, they must bring it up to the negotiations on the collective working contract, where all issues are expected to be discussed.
PASOK parliamentarian responsible for economy Vaso Papandreou accused the Economy Minister of lying. Mrs Papandreou wondered whether Mr Alogoskoufis ever speaks the truth "when he diminishes the net income of the labour and the pensioners, he diminishes investments and imposes austere measures, or when he promises better days?"
On the reorganisation of the banking system and of the Public Utilities and Enterprises, Mrs Papandreou reminded that it was PASOK that introduced the reorganisation. "We have been listening to announcements for two years, yet we see no results. In any case, the governments policy is mere intervention to the banking sector aiming to sell them out," PASOK parliamentarian pointed out.
Finally, regarding the Economy Ministers claims on the Athens Exchange, she argued that neither comments, nor intervention on the part of the government are needed.
On his part, SYN member Panagiotis Lafazanis stated that the governments policy is oriented towards a fiercer and more dangerous anti-social and neo-liberal one-way that demolishes social and labour relations.
 French Cuisine for Canines09 Jan 2006 11:46:00
By Vicky Keleri
A unique bakery, called "Mon Bon Chien", opened its doors recently in Paris, catering to barking rather than vocal orders. Its owner, Harriet Sternstein, decided to leave behind her award-winning career as a pastry chef in the USA and open up her own business in the City of Lights. However, the wonderful delicacies of the top American chef are not made for Parisians, but their dogs! Harriets inspiration for this venture was her labrador, Sophie-Marie, while "Mon Bon Chien" sells bacon biscuits in the shape of a cat and bone-shaped cookies made of foie gras.
As per Harriet, the citizens of the French capital were a little apprehensive at the start, however, as soon as their pets tasted her delicacies, they became regulars.
All the products are made on the premises, while they contain no salt, sugar or preservatives, so they are very healthy.
In addition, Harriet prepared special pastries for Christmas, while she is now working on a recipe for Valentines Day.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis