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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-05-30
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Greek FinMin: "No More Tough Measures"Sunday, 30 May 2010 15:19
Greece won't need any more tough fiscal measures, assured Greek Finance Minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou in his interview with a Sunday paper, further stressing that the government is determined to solve the problems so that the economy can recovers and the people start feeling sage again. The Finance Minister predicted a gradual recovery would come into being as of 2011.
Optimism over Economy
In his interview with Sunday paper Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia, the Greek Finance Minister predicted that the country would not need to take additional measures.
"Greece won't need additional tough measures. As far as I am concerned, have in mind that I am a rather stubborn person and there is only one choice before my eyes, to meet our goals," underlined the Minister, who defended the talks held between the government and the troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund). He then focused his attention to the government's determination to solve the problems of the Greek economy.
Papakonstantinou repeated his objections to the re-negatiation of the debt, claiming that such a solution could be detrimental to the country and would lead to a much deeper recession.
The Greek Finance Minister estimated that Greece would experience the greatest recession in 2010. However, he predicted that after that point recovery would gradually commence.
Source: NET, NET 105.8, ANA/MPA News item: 37088
 ND Holds Intra-party VoteSunday, 30 May 2010 12:15
Main opposition New Democracy party members are voting Sunday the heads of the party's local organizations. ND President Antonis Samaras cast his ballot on Sunday morning in Kifisia district. In his comments, he spoke of a bold movement to reach out to the society, since, as he added, ND is the only party that has employed such procedures that involve the people.
Ballots have been placed in the offices of ND's local organization, as wells as in municipal and prefectural offices. The vote kicked off at 1000 hours on Sunday morning and it will run through 1900 hours. All ND members are eligible to vote.
"Since ND decided to reach out to the society to elect its president, today it is electing the president of each local organization. Today is a great day and we are proud to be the only political party that has employed such procedures," argued the ND head before casting his vote.
Former Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis cast his ballot in Rafina without making any comments.
Party officials said turnout was pretty satisfactory.
In the meantime, a Public Issue survey suggested that the majority of the respondents said that the main opposition party is moving in the wrong direction. About 61% of the ND supporters hailed Samaras' decision to have Dora Bakoyannis kicked out of the party, while 54% of them feared unity within the party could be torpedoed. Finally, the vast majority of them held Kostas Karamanlis responsible for the party's current situation.
Source: NET, ANA/MPA News item: 37087
 "Top Kill" Operation FailsSunday, 30 May 2010 11:15
BP Plc gave up on its failed "top kill" effort to smother a Gulf of Mexico oil leak on Saturday and focused on a plan to cap a piece of equipment at the wellhead and corral spewing oil and gas.
"We do think it will capture the majority of the oil if it works. We can't guarantee that," BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said of the next step at a daily briefing on Saturday with the U.S. Coast Guard. He said it could take four days or longer to show results.
Suttles said the top kill, or the pumping of heavy fluids and materials into a failed blowout preventer to quell the leak in the well, did not stop the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf.
Although Chief Executive Tony Hayward said on Friday that BP would not know until Sunday whether the top kill was a success or failure, Suttles said company and government officials decided on Saturday to give it up and move on.
"It was an option we felt was best to pursue based on the information we had," he said. "Obviously we didn't know."
Hayward said in a statement that he was disappointed that the top kill failed, but BP is ready to move immediately to the containment cap.
"Based on what we know now, we believe the containment cap is the most effective way to minimize the impact of the oil leak on the Gulf ecosystem and the people of the region," Hayward said.
Coast Guard Admiral Mary Landry, who spoke at the briefing alongside Suttles, said the only certain solution is a relief well that is being drilled to intercept and plug the leaking well far beneath the seabed.
Source: Reuters News item: 37085
 "Agatha" Hits GuatemalaSunday, 30 May 2010 10:55
Guatemala was hit by the season's first tropical stormed called "Agatha." The heavy rainfalls, the landslides and the floods Agatha has brought to Guatemala have claimed at least 12 lives. Another 11 people have been reported as missing, while as many as 3,500 were forced to flee their houses. Among the victims are four children who were buried alive when a mudslide crushed their home in San Jose Pinula.
Agatha is also to be blamed for showers in El Salvador, where authorities have confirmed one fatality.
A spokesman for Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said that the tropical storm is expected to cause even greater damage to the country than that caused in 1998 and 2005.
The government is considering declaring the country, as well as the region near the Pacaya volcano which erupted on Wednesday. The volcano eruption forced authorities to close the international airport for five days. News item: 37084
 "Easy Rider" Passed AwaySaturday, 29 May 2010 20:21
Hollywood legend Dennis Hopper, better known as the lead actor in the 1969 "Easy Rider" film, passed away at the age o 74. Hopper, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last October, breathed his last early on Saturday at his Los Angeles home surrounded by family and friends.
His first Hollywood role was along with James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" in 1955. He also landed key roles in several other major Hollywood productions, including Apocalypse Now, Rumblefish and Blue Velvet. He had been nominated for an Oscar award twice in his career.
Source: NET, ANA/MPA News item: 37080
 Tough Negotiations on Pension ReformsSaturday, 29 May 2010 19:01
The Greek Employment Minister is fighting a touch battle for two changes in the pension reforms. Citing the actuarial report that has been approved by the International Labour Organisation, Andreas Loverdos is trying to convince the EU experts to not adopt troika's recommendations, whereby Greeks should draw their pension after 40 years of contributions. Another thing he is trying to fight against is the troika's will to have the pension reforms come into force in 2015 instead of 2018.
Three Scenarios on 40 Years of Contributions
The Greek Employment Minister has suggested three options lest the recommendation whereby 40 years of contributions should be required before workers are entitled to a full pension.
However, both the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund sent a letter last week requesting additional measures, including:
* basic pension at the age of 65
* revision of the list with the unhealthy occupations, and
* cuts in widow's/widower's pension below the age of 50
News item: 37079
 Kostas Simitis Says No to ND's ProposalSaturday, 29 May 2010 18:28
Former Prime Minister Kostas Simitis' reply to ND's proposal, whereby he should be called to testify for the Siemens case, was negative. ND's proposal came after former transport minister Anastasios Mantelis admitted to receiving money as a "pre-election donation" from the Greek branch of the German electronics and engineering giant. Simitis' response that dropped hints at ND President Antonis Samaras caused the main opposition New Democracy party's strong reactions.
Following the recent revelations, political parties in Greece are determined to break off ties with anyone who followed the corruption path.
Former Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, in a statement teeming with hints at Antonis Samaras, declined to testify before the committee investigating the Siemens case, as ND had proposed, speaking of a move that only meant to create impressions.
"When a former prime minister is suggested to take part in a hearing without evidence and witnesses that relate to him personally, speculations and undocumented assumptions and accusations will prevail. The point, however, is the truth and not personal or party wrangling. ND's proposal means nothing but to boost Mr Samaras' image as a leader. The committee of inquiry has to deal with more serious issues," stressed the former Prime Minister.
Simiti's response caused ND's fierce reaction, with its officials being unable to understand why Mr Simitis was annoyed.
'New Democracy targeted no one. It believes, however, that we all have the duty to help so that all the scandalous cases that cast a shadow over public life can be effectively cleared," said ND.
Source: NET, ANA/MPA News item: 37078