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Friday, July 5, 2013

USDA tries Greek yogurt in NY school lunches

USDA tries Greek yogurt in NY school lunches
Asbury Park Press
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking bidders to supply Greek yogurt for the National School Lunch Program in New York and three other states as a pilot program for the 2013-2014 school year. Schools in Arizona, Idaho and ...


Consumer patriotism good for Greek firms


Consumer patriotism good for Greek firms
Greek consumers are showing a clear preference for domestic products rather than imports, although the price factor appears to bear an ever greater significance – which Greek producers will need to take note of. It is, after all, consumers who, via ...


Help to Buy scheme fuelling housing market bubble, warns Labour

House prices are predicted to rise by 5% this year shutting out most first time buyers from property market

Property market experts who as recently as December were predicting flat or even falling house prices this year are rapidly backtracking as evidence mounts that confidence has roared back into the housing market.

Price rises averaging up to 5% across the country are now forecast for the year – and causing consternation among would-be first-time buyers, who already face a struggle to save for a deposit. An increase of that size would add £8,100 by the end of the year to last December's average price of £162,000 recorded by the Land Registry.

Property website Rightmove will next week double its prediction for growth in asking prices this year to 4%, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is poised to push up its forecast from 2% to "the 4% area".

High-end estate agent Knight Frank has reversed its forecast, saying that instead of a 1% fall in 2013 it expects prices could gain 3% by the end of the year.

Upmarket rival Savills said rises could be as much as 10 times the 0.5% it predicted at the start of the year.

At the beginning of the year forecasters including Hometrack and Nationwide predicted prices would fall.

Labour warned that home ownership was moving further out of reach for struggling first-time buyers and laid part of the blame on the chancellor, George Osborne, saying the Help to Buy schemes announced in his March budget were fuelling the rise in property values. Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey said: "The IMF, Office of Budget Responsibility and the Treasury select committee have all warned that the government's Help to Buy scheme will push up house prices but have limited impact on increasing badly needed affordable house building."

He added: "The truth is the government has failed to invest in building the affordable homes we desperately need and housebuilding has fallen to its lowest levels since the 1920s."

Rightmove's latest house price report showed that across England and Wales asking prices were up by 10.4% in the first six months of the year – growth in asking prices typically drops off in the second half of the year.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said a number of factors had given the market a bigger boost than expected – the Funding for Lending scheme, launched last summer, which has made cheap Bank of England funding available to lending banks; signs of economic stability internationally and at home; and Help to Buy, which backs purchases of new-build homes with government money. "Barring a raft of bad economic news, we expect these factors to continue to impact positively on the market," he said.

The Halifax said this week that property prices were rising at their fastest rate for three years. Its data followed a Nationwide survey last week revealing a 4% rise in prices in the first six months and the Bank of England reported this week that mortgage approvals were at a three-and-a-half-year high.

But the market remains skewed towards London and the south-east, with Nationwide reporting at the end of last month that the gap between the capital and the rest of the country is the widest it has ever been. The average London home hit a record of more than £318,000, almost twice the level in the rest of the UK when London is excluded, Nationwide said. Chartered surveyors CBRE have calculated the area of London where properties are worth more than £1,000 per square foot is growing outwards at a rate of 350 metres a year.

That area includes Kensington Palace Gardens, which property website Zoopla last month identified as Britain's most expensive address, with an average residential property price of £36m.

At such prices, Zoopla calculated, the area taken up by a doormat is worth more than £3,500.

Zoopla also identified Virginia Water, on the Surrey/Berkshire border, as the first town in the UK with an average property price of more than £1m.

At the other end of the scale, in Stoke-on-Trent and Liverpool, the city councils have launched projects allowing people to buy derelict homes for £1, while in Ebbw Vale and Tredegar in south Wales, property websites list page after page of homes for sale at less than £50,000.

The boom in the capital has been driven by overseas money coming into the prime central London market as investors look for a haven for their cash. But there are also signs that some of the uncertainty in foreign economies is driving cash into less expensive parts of the capital.

Charlie Perdios, manager of estate agents Anthony Pepe, based in the north London suburb of Harringay, said he had heard from a number of Greek and Cypriot investors looking for buy-to-let properties in the area. "They're cash buyers – always cash – looking for a home for the money they have managed to get out of the banks."

The Help to Buy scheme has been so successful in boosting demand for houses and mortgages that builders and lenders have begun to worry about a new property bubble that could burst when the scheme ends. The boss of housebuilder Taylor Wimpey warned the government needed to plan for a "sensible withdrawal" of the scheme rather than pulling the plug on it "overnight". "There needs to be an exit plan," he said. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds



Credit in Greece contracted 5.4 pct y-o-y in April

Total credit in Greece shrank by 5.4 percent year-on-year in April, with the pace of decline slowing from the previous month, Bank of Greece data showed on ...


Police turn to Epirus in Trikala fugitives manhunt

Police moved their attention from central Greece to Epirus in the northwest of the country on Friday as they attempted to apprehend at least two of six fugitives from Trikala Prison who are still on the run.Extra land and sea patrols were put in place to prevent the criminals from returning to their homeland, Albania.Police sources said that they were trying to track down Marian Kola and Ilir ...


The big shift right

nationalism, religion and violence in Greece and SE Europe , Skoutaris voices concern about the right-wing shift of the Greek political agenda as reflected in the government's decision to repeal the migrant citizenship law and the controversial decision to shut down public broadcaster ERT. "A far-right xenophobic agenda has become steadily more influential on the Greek political ...



The rise of the Golden Dawn and its campaign against groups it perceives to be anti-Greek -- leftists, immigrants, gays and lesbians -- has encouraged nationalist and far-right sympathisers to spread their ideologies through existing and new media outlets both online and off.On 6 June, for instance, the far-right ...


Benaki Museum Summer Festival On

For three weeks, the atrium of Benakis museum will not only turn into an ambient summer cinema, but also a comfortable and enjoyable concert venue. The festival starts next Tuesday, July 9 and will last until July 27. Sixteen screenings are going to take place, 12 from which will premiere in Greece, including: -Gala concert of opera star Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky in live broadcast ...


Greece to sell gas company DEPA in first half 2014 -source

ATHENS, July 5 | Fri Jul 5, 2013 1:07pm EDT
ATHENS, July 5 (Reuters) - Greece will sell its natural gas company DEPA in the first half of 2014, a timetable that could push back plans to sell the country's biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum, an official at the country's privatisation agency said on Friday.
Greece is under pressure to sell off assets to raise money to meet ...


Ex-BBC World Service journalist Yiannis Karavidas dies

Journalist Yiannis Karavidas, who worked for the Greek section at the BBC World Service and Skai TV and Radio, has died at the age of 58. The news was announced on Friday.Karavidas held the position of deputy editor and managing editor at the Greek section during the 1990s and the following decade. The cause of his death was not made ...


Simon Hoggart's week: Corfu's three colours blue, with Durrell's rosy tint

Much of Corfu's most famous book consisted of tiny grains of fact, puffed full of air and coated with sugar

✒We're just back from a short holiday on Corfu. Lovely. The sea was three colours: eggshell blue near the beach, royal blue for a hundred yards, navy blue stretching away to Albania. I even enjoyed the food. In the bad old days, tavernas would offer vine leaves wrapped round cold rice, or leathery stuffed peppers. Now you can get delicious scoff: seafood in garlic, chargrilled chicken, calamari that actually taste of the sea, delectable courgettes in paper-thin batter. You can drink pretty good Greek wine too, as well as gagging on retsina. But I still hate moussaka. Beef swimming in oil, slimy aubergines, and a sort of wallpaper paste on top.

✒We went for a boat trip down the coast, and passed the gigantic yacht Ilona, which is owned by Frank Lowy, the Australian billionaire behind the Westfield shopping malls. Later it sailed past our apartment, gorgeous yet sinister, as if a Bond villain were directing operations from the ward room. It has 28 crew to tend 16 guests. Bizarrely, it also has a helicopter on the aft deck, and that really is alarming: the chopper is retractable, and in 2007, off the Thai coast, the yacht's chief engineer, Christiaan Lentner, was crushed to death when the hatchway folded over his stomach. Six years later, his widow is still pursuing her claim, which depends on the technicality of which jurisdiction Mr Lentner died in. I wouldn't want to sail on the Ilona myself.

✒ I re-read the most famous book set on Corfu, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. As a boy, I thought it the funniest book I had ever encountered. And it's lasted too, so that Clare Balding could call her own recent bestseller My Animals and Other Family, assuming readers would get the reference. Durrell modestly told my friend the writer Valerie Grove that the book had "kept him in cheese". It was a huge hit and still sells today, 18 years after Durrell died (largely as the result of his alcohol intake).

But there is a puzzle. The book was published when he was 31, and it described often hilarious events that happened when he was between 10 and 14. These he can remember in the most astonishing detail: whole conversations reproduced as if verbatim, precise descriptions of how he caught the birds, snakes, toads and insects he brought home, minute by minute accounts of the mishaps the family faced. Yet he seemed to have completely forgotten that his big brother Larry (Lawrence Durrell, the novelist) didn't live with them at all, and instead had a house miles away with his wife. Many of the events described simply could not have happened, or if they did, in a very different form.

I met a charming, elderly woman who had worked with Durrell and she agreed that much of the book was fiction, or at least consisted of tiny grains of fact, puffed full of air and coated with sugar. Well, if you can't invent your own life, whose can you invent? But a little bit of my childhood died with the discovery.

✒When I feel low, like at the end of a holiday, I turn to the American website Old Jews Telling Jokes, which is exactly what it says on the web address. Here's one.

An elderly rabbi wants to try pork before he dies. But terrified that one of his flock might see him, he drives 50 miles to a posh restaurant. They offer him a whole suckling piglet, and bring it out on a silver tray with garnish and an apple in its mouth.

Just as he is about to tuck in, he is appalled to see Goldberg, the president of his congregation. But he recovers. "Hey, Goldberg, how about this restaurant? I order a baked apple, and this is how they serve it!"

Or, a guy goes into a supermarket and asks for half a lettuce. The clerk goes to the other end of the store and shouts to the supervisor: "What I do? There's an asshole here wants to buy half a lettuce!"

He turns round and, red-faced, sees that the customer has followed him down. "And this gentleman would like to buy the other half."

✒Breasts are in the news again. I hesitate to write about them, knowing the likely reaction of Guardian readers, but I must mention the helpful chart in the Daily Mail this week that depicted the cleavage of 15 female TV presenters, together with the time they appeared on screen. Only six are thought acceptable. The rough rule of thumb seems to be that the neckline may drop approximately 1.1 cm per hour of the day, but no more, so that the four inches shown by Nina Hossain at 10.30pm is still out of bounds whereas Lorraine Kelly's two inches is passable at 8.30am. What would we do without the Daily Mail's ruling on such vital topics?

✒Anna Duckworth bought a cat flap, marked: "This product will not prevent unwanted animals or people, including small children, from passing through the cat door." That must be a monstrous cat! And Roger Guedalla bought a product made in China: "This accords with green environmental protection standard, but thermostability, innocuous, invites respectfully feeling relieved about usage." It's a pair of kitchen tongs. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds



Bucks: Greek federation condemns slur of Milwaukee draft pick by leader of far ...

Bucks: Greek federation condemns slur of Milwaukee draft pick by leader of far ...
ATHENS, Greece — Greece's basketball federation condemned remarks by the leader of an extreme right Greek political party who likened a recent NBA draft pick to a "chimpanzee." The federation on Thursday described the remarks aimed at Giannis ...


FTSE 100 records best week since January after Carney boost but US jobs data takes the shine off

Better than expected non-farm payrolls figures send shares into negative territory for the day after bright start

One Canadian in a new job helped give the UK market its best week for more than six months, but several thousand Americans joining the workforce took some of the shine off shares.

Mark Carney, the ex-boss of Canada's central bank, made a strong impression in his first week as governor of the Bank of England, sending shares soaring and the pound plunging when he indicated on Thursday there would be no rise in interest rates for the foreseeable future. Investors had become increasing nervous about an increase in the cost of borrowing as the economy recovered, but Carney made a point of stamping on that idea.

So the FTSE 100 finished the week at 6375.52, a gain of 160 points or 2.6% since Monday morning and its best weekly performance since the first week in January.

But the index fell 46.15 points on Friday after better than expected US employment numbers - non-farm payrolls rose by 195,000 compared to expectations of a gain of 165,000 - reinforced the idea the US Federal Reserve would soon end its $85bn a month bond buying programme, removing a key support for stock markets.

The fall in sterling, which reached its lowest level for four months, was bad news for anyone planning a foreign holiday but should brings benefits to UK companies with overseas earnings. Analyst Gerard Lane at Shore Capital said the pound was still overvalued:

Sterling can (should or needs to, some would say) fall below parity with the euro and $1.30 to arrive at something close to fair value, i.e. some 20% below current levels. Sectors and stocks with UK located costs and overseas revenues would be natural beneficiaries, as would those listed entities with non-UK profits that translate these into sterling earnings and dividends.

All in all it was another volatile week for investors. The eurozone crisis reared its head again, with Portugal facing new uncertainty after two ministers resigned from the coalition government, seemingly in protest at the country's austerity measures. Meanwhile Greek politicians were locked in talks with representatives of the Troika of creditors - the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission - to hammer out a deal over cutbacks to meet the country's bailout targets.

On top of that came a military coup in Egypt, with violence erupting after protests against the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi.

With renewed worries about a slowdown in China and metal prices hit by a rising dollar, mining shares came under pressure. Glencore Xstrata dropped 17.9p to 256.85p while Antofagasta fell 50.5p to 784.5p and Rio Tinto lost 121.5p to £26.36.

Elsewhere Marks & Spencer added 2.9p to 462.7p ahead of next week's trading statement following a buy note from Panmure Gordon and amid vague bid speculation.

British Land built up a 7p gain to 591.5p after making a bet on the success of London's new Crossrail system.

The east-west rail line is due to open in 2018 and ahead of that, the property group has bought the bulk of an office, shops and hotel complex in Paddington near the Crossrail station. It has paid £470m to insurance group Aviva to take over the scheme, which it expects to grow in value as the area is redeveloped.

RSA Insurance rose 1.5p to 123p after analysts at JP Morgan Cazenove issued an overweight recommendation with a 132p price target:

We remain positive on the stock following management's decision to cut the dividend. High returns and growth opportunities in the international business combined with the prospect of a gradual turnaround in UK underwriting continue to underpin valuation. The stock continues to offer an attractive yield of 5% and 11% upside potential to our target price. The main catalysts for the shares are delivering on the underwriting targets, growing the international franchise, and addressing the challenging outlook for the UK motor lines.

But Whitbread slipped 89p to £31.067 after UBS cut from buy to neutral although the bank raised its target price from £29 to £31.50. Earlier in the week the leisure group unveiled plans for new compact hotels for its Premier Inn brand.

Elsewhere Inmarsat dipped another 4.5p to 665p after falling sharply earlier in the week in the wake of a rocket explosion in Russia. The communication group was not part of the launch, but the Proton rockets used were due to send its next generation of satellites into space by the end of the year, and analysts feared Tuesday's accident could lead to delays.

A number of housebuilders reported positive updates during the week, with sales boosted by the government's Help to Buy scheme. They included Persimmon, down 10p to £12.56 on profit taking, Taylor Wimpey, 1p lower at 102.8p, and Redrow, up 7.7p at 245.6p after Jefferies and Deutsche Bank raised their price targets for the company. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds



Ex-Greek Finance Minister Faces Fraud Charge

A Greek parliamentary committee has recommended that a former finance minister be indicted for allegedly wiping out the names of his relatives from a list of suspected tax cheats in the biggest tax evasion scandal in decades.


Greek Ambassador Optimistic Eurogroup to Approve Aid on July 8

Greek Ambassador Optimistic Eurogroup to Approve Aid on July 8
“The mobility of civil employees is the only open issue” in the Greek government's talks with the so-called troika that oversees euro-area bailouts, Angelatou said in an interview in The Hague yesterday. The Dutch finance minister, Jeroen Dijsselbloem ...

and more »


Portugal politicians try to save government

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The leaders of Portugal's governing coalition parties remained locked in negotiations Thursday as they attempted to repair differences that threatened to pitch the bailed-out country into turmoil and reignite concerns over Europe's debt crisis.

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, head of the senior coalition partner, and the leader of the junior partner, Popular Party chief Paulo Portas, met three times in 24 hours in an attempt to avoid the government's collapse in a dispute over austerity measures and other reported grievances concerning the relative standings of the two parties within the coalition.

Portugal's political stability, certainly compared with turmoil in Greece, has helped ease investor concerns over the country's financial fate since a 78 billion euro ($101 billion) international rescue two years ago.

The relatively calm backdrop helped lower Portugal's borrowing costs and allowed it to enact a raft of economic reforms which European Central Bank president Mario Draghi on Thursday described as "remarkable."

Investors had a different opinion, however, and Portugal's troubles helped send European and Asian stocks lower this week before recovering Thursday after the governing partners pledged to settle their differences.

After enduring two years of austerity, that have included sharp hikes in income taxes and in sales taxes and cuts in public sector pay and pensions, the country has been mired in recession and seen its jobless rate ratchet up to 17.6 percent.


EU Greek aid could be split

Mikkeli, Finland - The next tranche of international aid for Greece could be split into instalments, the EU's top economic official said on Friday, holding out the prospect of a continued hand-to-mouth existence for Greece that threatens to stifle its ...


Huge police search for Albanian prison fugitives

A large police operation was under way on Friday in the northern region of Epirus, northern Greece, bolstered by members of the force's elite EKAM squad in bid to find six out of a group of 11 Albanian prisoners that escaped from Trikala's prison in March and have been linked to at least two killings, of a police officer and a female motorist.On Thursday, police found two cars that were ...