|Monday, 23 October 2017|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-03-21
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Terrorist Squad Probes Bomb Hit at Aliens' DivisionSunday, 21 March 2010 14:18
One of the security cameras of the police building has recorded the movements of those who planted a bomb a bust stop outside the building housing the Aliens' Division. The footage is under investigation, while according to information, the perpetrators were two.
The terrorists reached the place on a car. The co-driver stepped out and left a bag with the explosive device at the bus stop. The police officials are trying to figure out the moves of the terrorists before and after the hit. The blast caused serious damage to a shop situated opposite the Aliens' Division. Police is investigating whether the last three terrorist hits are associated with each other. Source: NET, NET 105.8 News item: 34577
 Ban Ki-moon: Gaza Suffers Because of Israeli BlockadeSunday, 21 March 2010 13:20
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Sunday urged Israel to end a three year-long blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and called on Palestinians to heal their political rifts
Ban's visit to the blockaded territory follows a trip made by the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who entered the coastal enclave last week.
"The Palestinian people are living under very difficult circumstances where normal lives are restricted by closures security checks and road blocks," Ban said.
The U.N. chief was visiting the Gaza Strip for the second time since Israel ended its three-week offensive against Islamist militants in January 2009 and toured areas where hundreds of houses and factories had been destroyed.
In the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis Ban visited a building site of 150 homes funded by the United Nations and said Israel had recently approved the flow of construction materials need to complete the project.
"This is a positive, welcome step and I believe that we need far more ... I have repeatedly made it clear to Israeli leaders that their policy of closures is not sustainable and is wrong ... It causes unacceptable suffering," Ban said.
While it opens some crossings to allow goods for international relief agencies and some private companies, Israel has refused to allow materials that can also be used to make weapons and tunnels such as some chemicals, cement and steel.
Israel has kept a tight blockade on the coastal enclave since June 2007 when Hamas Islamists seized the coastal enclave from rival secular Fatah forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Gaza blockade has fueled unemployment which now stands at more than 50 percent among the 1.5 million population.
Ban also appealed for a prisoner exchange so that Palestinian prisoners and Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit can be released.
Shalit was captured by Gaza militants in 2006 and Hamas has demanded Israel free hundreds of the thousands of militants in its jails in exchange for the soldier.
Although he did not meet any of Gaza's Hamas rulers, the Islamist group deployed hundreds of armed security men along Ban's route to confront any possible threat by radical Islamist groups that share the same ideology with al Qaeda.
Source: Reuters News item: 34576
 Midair Turkish ProvocationSunday, 21 March 2010 12:24
A new midair provocation occurred Sunday morning over the Greek island of Farmakonisi. Turkish fighter jets harassed yet again a Greek helicopter. The Turkish jets were intercepted by Greek Mirage 2000 after flowing over Farmakonisi.
Interception and Dogfights
Yet another Turkish interception took place Sunday morning against a Greek military helicopter. Two Turkish fighter jets approached the helicopter while it was flying above Farmakinisi and within the Greek airspace.
The Turkish fighters were immediately intercepted by two Greek Mirage 2000.
On their way back to the Turkish airspace, the Turkish jets flew above Farmakonisi and left the Athens FIR.
Earlier, Turkish radars had told the helicopter that was on a Frontex mission to leave the area, claiming it had entered the Turkish airspace.
The helicopter continued its mission and landed at the airport of Kos 35 minutes after the incident.
The Greek Foreign Minister was briefed on the incident.
Source: NET, NET 105.8 News item: 34574
 Anti-War March outside the White HouseSunday, 21 March 2010 11:51
Thousands of demonstrators gathered Saturday in Washington to protest the seventh anniversary of the US-led invasion on Iraq. Anti-war demonstrators even reached the White House wavering banners and chanting slogans against the huge financial cost of the war. Under tight security, the demonstrators carried coffins draped with the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan, symbolizing in this manner the killings of civilians. About five people were arrested.
"Obama policies in Iraq and Afghanistan are as criminal as Bush's," said Iraqi Veterans Against the War member Mathhis Chiroux, 26, referring to President Barack Obama's continuation of the two-front war his predecessor George W. Bush began.
"The US machine produces war regardless of who is president. We are killing innocents," he added..
Larry Syverson, 61, carried a photograph of his soldier son, Branden, currently deployed in Afghanistan. "I am here to remind the Americans there are two wars going on," he said. But despite the colourful, often vociferous demonstration, there was little awareness elsewhere of the Saturday milestone in the Iraq war.
Besides mentioning the anniversary in passing, US media focused almost exclusively on the political brinkmanship preceding Sunday's vote in the House of Representatives for Obama's flagship health care reform bill.
According to the independent icasualties.org Website, 4,385 American soldiers have perished in Iraq since the invasion of the country was launched in March 2003. Another 1,024 have died in Afghanistan. Source: AFP
News item: 34573
 Crucial Test for SarkozySunday, 21 March 2010 10:00
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right party faces heavy losses in regional elections on Sunday that could affect the pace of reform as maneuvering begins before the 2012 presidential campaign.
The center-right suffered one of its worst losses in years in the first round of the ballot, with Sarkozy's UMP party scoring 26 percent compared to 29 percent for the Socialists and 50 percent for leftist parties combined.
High abstention levels, which saw more than one in two voters stay home, and a surge in support for the far-right National Front, which won almost 12 percent, underlined the gloomy message for the government ahead of the final runoff.
The second round of voting kicked off at 8 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Sunday and was expected to run into the evening. A relatively high abstention rate of around 55 percent could be expected, according to some polls.
Fears about job losses, immigration and security, as well as resentment about issues such as bank bailouts and executive pay have all fed attacks on Sarkozy.
The president's popularity has dived since he won plaudits for his energetic handling of the financial crisis in 2008.
He has already promised a pause in reform next year and a heavy loss in the last midterm election before 2012 could make him more cautious about pushing potentially painful cuts in the big projects which remain in 2010.
The president is planning a major overhaul of the pensions system, including raising the retirement age, and he also needs to rein in France's public deficit, which is expected to reach 8.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2010.
Source: Reuters News item: 34567
 In Quest of Common Front within EurozoneSaturday, 20 March 2010 21:23
Diplomatic fever is running high in search of a solution before 25 March as to the kind of the aid that should be given to Greece's ailing economy. Ongoing talks have yet to reach a breakthrough, since Europe remains split. The EU has the means for a quick and coordinated aid, said Olli Rehn in his interview. German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not rule out the European Commission head's proposal that provides for bilateral loans to Greece, although she said that such a move is not yet necessary. Sounding on the same page, Wolfgang Schaeuble did not make it clear whether Berlin is willing to be part of that move. In the meantime, the Greek opposition parties have not stopped lashing out at the government's handlings.
A really tough "diplomatic poker" game has been in full swing just a few days before the 25 March EU summit.
Given Berlin's tough stance on Greece, the EU summit is to put the cohesion of the European construction to a serious test.
"The EU has the means for a quick and coordinated help"
The EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn, however, has confirmed the Commission's willingness to assist Greece.
In his interview with Welt am Sonntag paper, Olli Rehn stressed that the European Commission is ready to make a specific proposal on that matter, further adding that the standby aid package will bring along obligations for Greece.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, implied she would not say no to bilateral loans to Greece, however, she stressed that such a move is not yet necessary.
"I don't see that Greece needs money at the moment and the Greek government has confirmed that. That's why I'd urge us not to stir up turbulence in the markets by raising false expectations for Thursday's council meeting," she said.
"I believe that, as long as Greece doesn't need help, this issue doesn't have to be at the forefront of our talks," Merkel added. "Aid will not be on the agenda at the meeting on Thursday because Greece says itself it doesn't need help right now."
Nevertheless, Merkel and her Finance Minister alike assured they will do anything in their power to safeguard stability within the single currency union.
Germany will not raise obstacles to bilateral loans to Greece, said Wolfgang Schaeuble, without, however, making it clear whether Berlin intends to be a part of that move.
There is no collective body to ensure EU's aid to Greece, argued he, also noting that the EU nations will accept a coordinated bilateral aid with strict fiscal discipline and on a voluntary basis.
Wolfgang Schaeuble then went on to add that Athens could take out a loan from the International Monetary Fund.
In the meantime, government officials keep saying that Greece did what it had to do and that now its time Europe made its move.
The best for Greece is to keep searching for a solution within the EU, underlined US ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard in his interview with Proto Thema paper.
Former Prime Minister Kostas Simitis favoured an EU-brokered solution to Greece's fiscal problems and suggested the issuing of EU bonds.
Harsh Reaction by Opposition Parties
"Resorting to the International Monetary Fund is a despair solution. Such a solution would deliver the first blow to the eurozone," argued Conservative deputy and section head for economy Christos Staikouras.
"Our attention should be focused to help the people not lose its morale. The path is going to be really tough, as the measures will be constant," commented KKE (Greek Communist Party) head Aleka Papariga.
"Europe has to choose: either to cement its credibility by offering its backing to Greece, or to become Merkel's tool by obeying to her barren perspective," underlined LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) spokesman K. Aivaliotis.
The government, through a deeply anti-social, unfair and ineffective policy, is dragging Greece into social bankruptcy and depression, stressed SYN (Coalition of the Radical Left).
Source: NET, ANA/MPA News item: 34564
 The Goals of Taxation PolicySaturday, 20 March 2010 19:55
A bill envisaging the reform of Greece's taxation system will be tabled by the government in parliament next Tuesday. The main principles of the draft law were presented to by finance minister George Papaconstantinou to the Inner Cabinet on Thursday.
With the new tax bill, the government will introduce a single, more progressive tax scale for all incomes aimed at redistributing tax burdens between low and medium incomes, lowering tax burdens for personal incomes up to 40,000 euros and introducing a 45 percent tax scale for incomes higher than 100,000 euros.
Source: ANA/MPA News item: 34563