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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-05-05
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 "I Did not Lie about Iraq"05 May 2006 10:13:00
By Betty Savourdou
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld faced a fury of disapproval and heckling during a speech in Atlanta, where a former CIA analyst accused his of lying to justify he invasion in Iraq. While addressing an audience at the Southern Center for International Studies, Rumsfeld was asked by former analyst Ray McGovern, "Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?" Rumsfeld denied ever lying, claiming that the Bush administration gave the world their "honest opinion" when they said that Iraq had weapon of mass destruction. Moreover on Thursday, the US Senate approved a Bill securing funds for US operations in Iraq in Afghanistan. Specifically, the Senate approved $109 billion, exceeding by far the funds requested by the White House and ignoring Bushs threats of vetoing additional funds.
"No Weapons of Mass Destruction"
When the former CIA analyst asked Rumsfeld how the Iraqi invasion was planned, the Defence Secretary stated he was not in the intelligence business, adding that both Bush and the State Secretary spent many weeks with CIA people analysing intelligence on the Iraqi arsenals. Rumsfeld also claimed that the two men "gave the world their honest opinion," but admitted, "It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction."
Ray McGovern interrupted Rumsfeld again to remind him of his allegations that he was aware of the whereabouts of Saddam Husseins weapons of mass destruction.
"I did not," Rumsfeld retorted. "I said I knew where suspect sites were."
"You said you know where they were, near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and north, east, south and west of there. Those are your words," McGovern shot back. "Id just like an honest answer. Were talking about lies," McGovern added.
"Well, firstly, I did not lie," responded the US Defence Secretary.
Rumsfelds speech was interrupted a few times by hecklers, including one who carried a sign saying: "Guilty! of war crimes!"
One woman whose son was a US soldier killed in the war asked if the Pentagon was making sure American troops were better equipped for combat.
"You bet," Rumsfeld said. "And Im so sorry about your son."
At one point, Rumsfeld was praised by an audience member who said he had followed Rumsfelds career and wondered what in his upbringing had shaped his positive outlook on life.
"I guess one thing Id say is that my mom was a schoolteacher and my dad read history voraciously. And I guess I adopted some of those patterns of reading history," Rumsfeld replied.
It should be noted that according to official Pentagon figures, the US has lost 2,411 soldiers in Iraq, while another 17,874 have been injured.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
Read the story on other sources:
CNN: Showdown over must-pass spending bill on the horizon
CNN: Hecklers interrupt Rumsfeld speech
BBC: Rumsfeld heckled over war in Iraq
US Defence Department
 After the Heavy Loss in Local Elections Blair Prepares for Reshuffle05 May 2006 08:03:00 (Last updated: 05 May 2006 11:16:35)
British Prime Minister Tony Blair will begin reshuffling his cabinet on Friday, after his ruling Labour Partys heavy loss in local elections. Many cabinet ministers, including FM Jack Straw and Deputy PM John Prescott, arrived at 10 Downing Street early on Friday. The Labour Party lost at least 200 seats in Thursdays local elections, gathering just 26% of the votes, and finishing behind the Conservatives (40%, +213 seats) and the Liberals (27%, -16 seats). Labour also suffered losses to the far-right British National Party, which made gains most notably in east London and northern and central Britain, after campaigning on a fiercely anti-immigrant agenda.
 Urges USA for Direct Talks Annan's Call for Iran05 May 2006 07:08:00
By Vivian Papastefanou
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the USA to enter direct talks with Iran, saying this step could lead to an acceptable resolution of the crisis. In an interview on public television, Annan said the Iranians may have been holding back in previous negotiations with EU powers Britain, France and Germany, and might be more forthcoming if the United States were at the table. "If everybody all of the stakeholders and the key players were around the table, I think it would be possible to work out a package that would satisfy the concerns of everybody," noted Annan. At the same time, the UN Security Council is continuing its diplomatic deliberations over Irans nuclear agenda. The representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council met on Thursday afternoon in New York for an hour to discuss the resolution draft whereby Iran will be asked to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. The talks between the ambassadors of the USA, Russia, France, Britain and China took place behind closed doors and at the same time, experts from the 15-member Security Council participated in a separate meeting.
Security Council Continues Deliberations
After the end of the meeting, French Ambassador Jean Marc de la Sabliere declared it was an honest and useful discussion. At the same time, he mentioned that they will be convening on Friday once again, adding that things are moving at a fast pace.
On the other hand, US Ambassador John Bolton said he was looking forward to the Security Council plenary session on Friday afternoon, to see how far they have progressed.
As per a top State Department official, the resolution draft will probably be put to the vote on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of the five permanents members of the Security Council and Germany will meet in New York on Monday. The resolution draft will only be ratified if it receives nine of the 15 votes, provided none of the permanent members vetoes it.
At the same time, Iranian Ambassador Javad Zarif accused Britain and France of creating a crisis with the draft that asks Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment programme. "Iran does not respond to threats and intimidation," declared Zarif, underlining that the West is trying "to create a crisis where a crisis is not needed and which can be avoided simply by allowing serious, reasonable, sober discussion."
In the meantime, the price of oil has dropped significantly, prompting analysts to speak of a "technical correction" by the market, despite concerns over Iran. In New Yorks forward market (NYMEX), crude oil for June deliveries dropped by $2.34, closing at $69.94 per barrel. It should be noted that it is the lowest price recorded since 13 April.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
 Prime Minister is "Non-Existent" G. Papandreou Against the Government04 May 2006 23:17:00
On Thursday, speaking at his partys Parliamentary Group meeting, the President of PASOK referred to current political issues. George Papandreou explained PASOKs positions and requested the intensification of pace of oppositional action, whilst attacking the Government and Prime Minister, who he described as "non-existent" and referred to the issues of the wiretaps, the Justice, the Review of the constitution and the social security issue, over which he presented his partys proposal.
Mr Papandreou noted that the Greek citizens are deeply disappointed by the new-right Government of Mr Karamanlis, who views the State as a servicing tool for his followers. He rejected the invitation of the PM to a dialogue, noting that Mr Karamanlis is not seeking interlocutors but accomplices to his policy, while accusing him of not having the courage to say that he cannot implement what he promised.
The President of PASOK accused the Government of aiming at appropriating power and creating a State for the few and powerful and spoke of a secret plan and programme, which as he said is tough and anti-populist.
He described the developments in the Justice as worrying and referring to the extrajudicial ring he accused the Government of choosing the road of political party exploitation and that instead of purgation it is proceeding to a vested interest system.
Referring to the social security issue, Mr Papandreou said that its solution cannot arise from cuts in pensions, while he noted that part of the pensions are unacceptably low. In his partys proposal on the social security issue, Mr Papandreou referred to the gradual unification of funds in three primary social security funds, establishing a national minimum pension for all, revaluating the list of heavy and health hazardous occupations, discouraging voluntary redundancy and encouraging further employment.
 For the Location of the 26 Sailors Futile Search05 May 2006 11:22:00 (Last updated: 05 May 2006 13:29:07)
By Vivian Papastefanou
The search between the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, south of the Cape of Good Hope, is continuing with no results so far. The search is taking place for locating the 26 sailors, among whom 4 Greeks who went missing following the sinking of cargo ship Alexandros T on Wednesday night. A C-130 helicopter and a salvage vessel are participating in the search and have been scanning the region as of dawn. The missing persons are Captain Panagiotis Vlismas, Second Mate Giannis Karaminas, 1st Engineer Nearchos Boukouvalas and 2nd Engineer Ilias Efstratiou. The relatives of the Greek sailors reported that the ship often presented faults, while speaking of a delay of the ship owning company in informing the authorities.
 Weak Tremor in Corinth Gulf05 May 2006 10:49:00
An earthquake registering 4.6 on the Richter scale was recorded at 9:16am on Friday in the Corinth Gulf, south of Delfina and north of Derveni. The tremor was also felt in the prefectures of Fokida, Corinthia and Attica. The Director of the National Observatory of Athens, Gerasimos Papadopoulos, eased concerns, declaring that it was an isolated, medium-sized tremor, similar to the ones felt daily throughout Greece.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
National Observatory of Athens
 Council of State Ruling Permanent Status for Contract Workers05 May 2006 08:39:00
Sources: NET 105.8
Tens of thousands of Greek contract workers in the public sector have breathed of sigh of relief. After years of suspense, the 3rd Division of the Council of State deemed the Interior Ministrys decree (also known as Pavlopoulos decree) constitutional, by a marginal majority (3-2). The judges ruled that the provisions of the presidential decree, which converts fixed-term employment contracts into permanent, were acceptable as per the revised Constitution. The two members who voted against argued that none of the contract workers should gain permanent status, even if they covered fixed and permanent needs.
Translated by Vicky Ghionis
 Bush's Reassurance USA Backs Israel05 May 2006 08:25:00
Speaking at the 100th anniversary gala of the American Jewish Committee, US President George Bush said the United States would not waver in its commitment to the security of Israel and would have no contact with Hamas leaders of the Palestinian government until the group recognises the Jewish state. "Americas commitment to Israels security is strong, enduring and unshakable," Bush said. "Hamas has made it clear that they do not acknowledge the right of Israel to exist, and I made it clear that so long as thats their policy we will have no contact with the leaders of Hamas," he concluded.