Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Friday, May 16, 2014

Scientists Express Concern About Mild Cases Of MERS

By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO, May 16 (Reuters) - Scientists leading the fight against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome say the next critical front will be understanding how the virus behaves in people with milder infections, who may be spreading the illness without being aware they have it. Establishing that may be critical to stopping the spread of MERS, which emerged in the Middle East in 2012 and has so far infected more than 500 patients in Saudi Arabia alone. It kills about 30 percent of those who are infected. It is becoming increasingly clear that people can be infected with MERS without developing severe respiratory disease, said Dr David Swerdlow, who heads the MERS response team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "You don't have to be in the intensive care unit with pneumonia to have a case of MERS," Swerdlow told Reuters. "We assume they are less infectious (to others), but we don't know." The CDC has a team in Saudi Arabia studying whether such mild cases are still capable of spreading the virus. Swerdlow is overseeing their work from Atlanta. They plan to test the family members of people with mild MERS, even if these relatives don't have any symptoms, to help determine whether the virus can spread within a household. Cases of the disease, which causes coughing, fever and sometimes fatal pneumonia, have nearly tripled in the past month and a half, and the virus is moving out of the Arabian peninsula as infected individuals travel from the region. Since late April, the first two cases of MERS have been reported on U.S. soil. Dutch officials reported their first two cases this week. Infections have also turned up in Britain, Greece, France, Italy, Malaysia and elsewhere. Since MERS is an entirely new virus, there are no drugs to treat it and no vaccines capable of preventing its spread. It is a close cousin of the virus that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, which killed around 800 people worldwide after it first appeared in China in 2002. Because MERS patients can have "mild and unusual symptoms," the World Health Organization advises healthcare workers to apply standard infection control precautions for all patients, regardless of their diagnosis, at all times. "Asymptomatic carriers of diseases can represent a major route for a pathogen to spread," said Dr Amesh Adalja of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "Just think of Typhoid Mary," he said, referring to the asymptomatic cook who spread typhoid fever to dozens of people in the early 20th century. NOT EVEN A COUGH Milder symptoms played a role in the second U.S. case of MERS, a man who started having body aches on a journey from Jeddah on Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast to the United States. It took the patient more than a week before he sought help in an emergency department in Orlando, Florida. Once he arrived, he waited nearly 12 hours in the ER before staff recognized a MERS link and placed him in an isolation room. The patient did not have signs of a respiratory infection, not even a cough. Dr Kevin Sherin, director of the Florida Department of Health for Orange County, believes that made it less likely that he could spread the infection. Hospital workers have tested negative, but the health department and the CDC are still checking on hundreds of people who might have been in contact with the patient. A CDC study published earlier this week looked at some of the first cases of MERS that occurred in Jordan in 2012. Initially, only two people in that outbreak were thought to have MERS. When CDC disease detectives used more sensitive tests that looked for MERS antibodies among hospital workers, they found another seven people had contracted MERS and survived it. That suggests there may be people with mild cases "that can serve as a way for the virus to spread to other individuals, which makes it a lot harder to control," Adalja said. Scientists are especially concerned because a lot of recent cases of MERS are among people who did not have contact with animals such as camels or bats that are believed to be reservoirs for the virus. "If they don't have animal contact, where do they pick it up? Potentially, asymptomatic cases," said Dr Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota. (Additional reporting by Sharon Begley in New York; Editing by Michele Gershberg)


PM confident about coalition's future as Greeks vote in first round of local elections

The country’s governing coalition may grow in numbers after the May 25 European Parliament elections, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Friday as Greece prepares for the first round of local polls Sunday. With speculation growing about whether the New D... ...


Bond turmoil forces gov’t to revoke tax

The Finance Ministry is scrambling to abolish a regulation concerning a retroactive capital gains tax on Greek bonds held by foreigners, following the impact on Greek debt in the market. Reports say that in view of sovereign bonds’ soaring yields this wee... ...


Retirements spike due to uncertainty

Thousands of public and private sector employees in Greece are considering the option of retirement due to fears that the as yet still favorable regulations in the country’s social security system could be abolished depending on the result of this month’s... ...


New direct flights to New York’s JFK and Shanghai

The number of direct flights Athens is on the rise, with Delta Airlines scheduled to start its daily summer service linking the Greek capital with New York’s JFK tomorrow. Meanwhile the Greek Tourism Ministry has announced that the first direct flights be... ...


Greek Publisher to Revive Greece’s Literature in Turkey

A newly founded Greek publishing house in Istanbul will be reviving the long multicultural tradition of Greek literature in the former Byzantine capital city by translating and distributing on the Turkish book market Greek literature. Istos, which stands ...


Istanbul publishers revive Greek and Turkish links

Turks' interest in Greek literature is finding a new home in Istanbul where translations and original works in Greek and Turkish are hitting the bookshelves. ISTANBUL A Greco-Turkish publishing house in Istanbul is at the forefront of a revival in Turkey ...


Major Arrests in Three Police Operations

Greek police arrested members of three criminal gangs believed to be responsible for a recent spate of armed robberies in the Attica region. Police arrested a 25-year-old male member of a gang that allegedly committed nine armed robberies and attempted robberies in Megara and Alepochori, in Attica, in just two hours. The gang also allegedly shot at police when trying to steal a getaway vehicle. The defendant was prosecuted yesterday, while police are still looking for the other members of the gang. In the second case, three members of another criminal gang were arrested trying to escape an armed robbery in southern Attica. The gang are suspected of robbing shops and OPAP kiosks, as well as detonating explosions in stores and vehicle thefts. In the third case, the police arrested three men of Georgian origin accused of several armed burglaries of elderly peoples’ houses. According to the police, the gang didn’t hesitate to use physical violence against the elderly to get them to give up their hidden valuables and money. The defendants have already participated in three robberies and the police are investigating their involvement in other criminal activities.  


Elections 2014: Three New Polls, Three Different Results

Three Friday polls on Greece’s local and European elections gave three different results. ALCO’s poll for newspaper Proto Thema gave main opposition party SYRIZA a 1.5% lead in European Parliament elections over Nea Dimokratia, whose Antonis Samaras is considered the most popular political leader. According to the poll, SYRIZA is first with 24.7%, followed by Nea Dimokratia with 23.2%, Golden Dawn with 7.7%, To Potami with 7.6%, Olive Tree with 5.4%, KKE with 5.3%, Independent Greeks with 4.7%, Democratic Left 2.5%. The most popular political leader is Antonis Samaras with 34%, Stavros Theodorakis with 29%, Alexis Tsipras with 28%, Fotis Kouvelis with 23%, Dimitris Koutsoubas with 20%, Panos Kammenos with 16%, Evangelos Venizelos with 13% and Nikos Michaloliakos with 8%. Another poll by e-Voice on behalf of website shows that Nea Dimokratia is leading SYRIZA by 0.9% in European elections. Nea Dimokratia polled23.1%, SYRIZA 22.2%, Olive Tree 7.3%, KKE 7.1%, To Potami 6.3%, Golden Dawn 6.2%, Independent Greeks 3.6% and Democratic Left 1.6%. Almost 90% of respondents said they will vote in the May 25 elections. Palmos Analysis opinion poll for the website TVXS shows SYRIZA leading with 25.3% followed by Nea Dimokratia (20.3%), Golden Dawn (5.7%), To Potami (5.4%), Olive Tree (4.9%), KKE (4.6%), Independent Greeks (3.6%), Democratic Left (2.6%), LAOS (1%) and Ecologist Greens (0.9%).


All Set for Greek Local Elections 2014

The general rehearsal for the transmission of the first round in the local elections was successfully completed. The first estimation on the results is anticipated to be transmitted at 11 p.m. Leading authorities of the Ministry of Interior watched as the test was conducted and the election results were received from  polling stations. They also paid a visit to the singular logic office, which is located on the 4th floor of the Ministry of Interior. “The transmission of the results will be highly reliable, with no delays. The Ministry of Interior is fully prepared to hold the forthcoming local and European elections to their full extent and deliver their results as smoothly as possible,” stated the Greek Minister of Interior Yiannis Michelakis.


Elia Kazan’s Life Revealed in Letters

“The reason I can’t write you about what I’m ashamed of,” Elia Kazan wrote in 1955 to his wife, Molly Day Thatcher, “is because I’m ashamed of it.” He was referring to his affair with Marilyn Monroe. “I’m ashamed of it. I’m ashamed I hurt you ever. On the other hand I resent being made […]

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Juncker Says Tsipras Not Worthy

Former Eurozone chief Jean-Claude Juncker says SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras isn't worthy to lead Greece or be European Commission President - a job Juncker wants too.

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Greece Needs Heraclitus, Someone With Character

Thucydides, Pericles, Socrates, and Aristotle are the preferred references in the search of the logic, in understanding politics in modern Greece - but Heraclitus is the man.

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Juncker Says Tsipras Unfit To Lead Greece, EU

Former Eurozone chief Jean-Claude Juncker, a candidate for European Commission President, said after a debate with rivals for the post that Greece’s major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader wasn’t fit to lead his country and ...


Investors continue to pull out of Greece over political risks

Fears regarding Greece’s political stability in this election period saw investors feeling overexposed to the Athens market continue their flight on Friday, forcing major losses on the bourse for the second day in a row. The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) genera... ...


Drug kingpin netted in Greece to be extradited to Canada

A Canadian police investigation into a racket producing fake Canadian passports for underworld figures has been linked to two brothers believed to be major players in the cocaine trade. Robby Alkhalil, who is also wanted in Canada and in Italy in connecti... ...


Vartholomaios to end Germany visit with Dachau tour

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios will end a nine-day official visit to Germany on Monday with a visit to the Dachau concentration camp, where thousands of Jews perished in World War II. The spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church met with German P... ...


Kaklamanis explains how he almost became Greek PM

PASOK veteran Apostolos Kaklamanis revealed in a statement on Friday that on November 8, 2011, he accepted an offer from then Prime Minister George Papandreou to become interim premier after the latter’s aborted effort to hold a referendum on Greece’s sec... ...


Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn says Greek program 'unbearable'

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has called the economic policy implemented in Greece during the crisis “unbearable.” Speaking on a French TV show late on Thursday, Strauss-Kahn said that the troika ... ...


Greek yields near 2-month high amid tax and political uncertainty

* Greek yields hit highest in nearly 2 months before retracing * Greece considering scrapping controversial tax liability LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - Greek bond yields rose to their highest in nearly two months on Friday as the tiny market was hit for a second day by uncertainty over a tax on foreign holders of Greek debt and the stability of the government going into EU elections. Two finance ...


Symbol of Greece's protests, fired cleaners win case against government in court

They were a symbol of protest against austerity measures in Greece: Cleaners fired from their jobs at the Finance Ministry and tax offices who for months heckled bailout inspectors and joined daily public protests holding their mops and broomsticks.


Greek festival, Camp Hill Kite Festival and more things to do this weekend ...

Greek festival, Camp Hill Kite Festival and more things to do this weekend ...Penn LivePennsylvania Greek Festival: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. May 16-17, noon-5 p.m. May 18 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 1000 Yverdon Drive, Camp Hill. Free., 717-920-1579. What's new at the Greek Festival? Gettysburg Bluegrass ...


Ancient Skeleton Reveals 1st Americans

The skeleton and DNA of a teen girl who died thousands of years ago, found in an underwater cave, are giving clues about the first Americans.

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Greek local elections: 40,000 candidates

Both the local elections - with close to 40,000 candidates - and European elections have Greece's ruling New Democracy party worried.


Greek Photographer Wins Prestigious Birdlife Contest

Nikos Fokas has won first prize in the Handbook of the Birds of the World photo contest, bagging a prize worth 6,800 euros in equipment and subscriptions. The photo depicts a pallid swift (scientific name : apus pallidus), a migratory bird that spends ...


Greece's Papandreou Says Deflation, Debt Hurting Europe

Greece's Papandreou Says Deflation, Debt Hurting EuropeBloombergPapandreou, who was Greece's prime minister from September 2010 to November 2011, said the pending European elections will highlight these problems. To contact the reporter on this story: Saijel Kishan in New York at To contact ...and more »


ELSTAT: Greece’s Economy Still Shrinking, -1.1% GDP Q1 2014

Greece’s economy shrank by 1.1% in the first quarter of 2014, said Greece’s Finance Ministry May 15, citing ELSTAT data. Last year, the recession shaved 6% from Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to ELSTAT, so this year’s data ...


Trade-Ideas: National Bank Of Greece (NBG) Is Today's "Dead Cat Bounce" Stock

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link. Trade-Ideas LLC identified National Bank of Greece (NBG ...


The Golden Dawn factor should not be underestimated

Everyone’s attention is turned to the electoral face-off between New Democracy and SYRIZA, with speculation on who will prevail and what will happen the day after. The outcome of the May 25 elections will determine developments in Greek political parties ... ...


Ahead of EU vote, local ballots to test Greek government

Ahead of EU elections on May 25, Greece's embattled government faces a first test in municipal and regional elections on Sunday as the country struggles to return to growth following years of economic crisis. The local elections, to be held on May 18 and ... ...


PM sees road project generating thousands of new jobs

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday visited the construction site where a junction linking the Ionia Odos highway to Mesolongi in western Greece is under way and declared that more than 4,500 people would be employed on the project by the end of the ... ...


Greece mulls scrapping tax liability for foreign bondholders for 2012-13

Greece plans to scrap the tax liability on capital gains for foreign holders of Greek bonds booked over 2012-13, to soothe investor fears that Athens was planning to collect the tax retroactively, two finance ministry sources told Reuters. The government was forced to deny on Thursday that it instituted a retroactive tax on foreign holders of Greek bonds after a government tax circular helped ...


A Slacker’s Guide to Losing Weight Without Trying

If the idea of counting calories or following a strict diet just makes you want to reach for a candy bar, then you'll love these expert-approved ways to drop pounds.


Ancient Skeleton Of Teenage Girl, 'Naia,' Sheds Light On First Americans (PHOTOS)

NEW YORK (AP) - Thousands of years ago, a teenage girl toppled into a deep hole in a Mexican cave and died. Now, her skeleton and her DNA are bolstering the long-held theory that humans arrived in the Americas by way of a land bridge from Asia, scientists say. The girl's nearly complete skeleton was discovered by chance in 2007 by expert divers who were mapping water-filled caves north of the city of Tulum, in the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula. One day, they came across a huge chamber deep underground.Story continues below. "The moment we entered inside, we knew it was an incredible place," one of the divers, Alberto Nava, told reporters. "The floor disappeared under us and we could not see across to the other side." They named it Hoyo Negro, or black hole. Months later, they returned and reached the floor of the 100-foot tall chamber, which was littered with animal bones. They came across the girl's skull on a ledge, lying upside down "with a perfe ct set of teeth and dark eye sockets looking back at us," Nava said. The divers named the skeleton Naia, after a water nymph of Greek mythology, and joined up with a team of scientists to research the find. The girl was 15 or 16 when she met her fate in a cave, which at that time was dry, researchers said. She may have been looking for water when she tumbled into the chamber some 12,000 or 13,000 years ago, said lead study author James Chatters of Applied Paleoscience, a consulting firm in Bothell, Washington. Her pelvis was broken, suggesting she had fallen a long distance, he said. The analysis of her remains, reported Thursday in the journal Science by researchers from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Denmark, addresses a puzzle about the settling of the Americas. Most scientists say the first Americans came from Siberian ancestors who lived on an ancient land bridge, now submerged, that connected Asia to Alaska across the Bering Strait. They a re thought to have entered the Americas sometime after 17,000 years ago from that land mass, called Beringia. And genetic evidence indicates that today's native peoples of the Americas are related to these pioneers. But the oldest skeletons from the Americas - including Naia's - have skulls that look much different from those of today's native peoples. To some researchers, that suggests the first Americans came from a different place. Naia provides a crucial link. DNA recovered from a molar contains a distinctive marker found in today's native peoples, especially those in Chile and Argentina. The genetic signature is thought to have arisen among people living in Beringia, researchers said. That suggests that the early Americans and contemporary native populations both came from the same ancestral roots in Beringia - not different places, the researchers concluded. The anatomical differences apparently reflect evolution over time in Beringia or the Americas, they said. The finding does not rule out the idea that some ancient settlers came from another place, noted Deborah Bolnick, a study author from the University of Texas at Austin. Dennis O'Rourke, an expert in ancient DNA at the University of Utah who didn't participate in the work, said the finding is the first to show a genetic link to Beringia in an individual who clearly had the anatomical signs of a very early American. He said he considered the notion of multiple migrations from different places to be "quite unlikely." Last February, other researchers reported that DNA from a baby buried in Montana more than 12,000 years ago showed a close genetic relationship to modern-day native peoples, especially those in Central and South America. An author of that study, Mike Waters of Texas A&M University, said the Mexican finding fits with the one in Montana. There are so few such early skeletons from the Americas, he said, that "every single one of them is important." However, Richard Jantz, a retired professor of forensic anthropology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, said he still believes early settlers arrived by boat from east Asia before any migration occurred via Beringia. That's based on anatomical evidence, he said. The argument in the new paper "leaves a lot of unanswered questions," he said in an email. ___ Online: Journal Science:


Court Orders Cleaning Ladies Rehired

An Athens court has accepted an appeal by 3975 Finance Ministry cleaners who lost their jobs in a government scheme and said they must be rehired.

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THI Seeks Resurgence of Greece

NEW YORK – The Hellenic Initiative (THI) was founded in 2012 as a nonprofit secular institution by Hellenic business and community leaders around the world to harness the power of the Diaspora in support of the resurgence of Greece. Yeoman’s work was done by a small initial staff working with THI’s board of directors and […]

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Greek Food Festival continues in Montgomery

The 24th annual Greek Food Festival continues this Friday in Montgomery.


Juncker says rival for EC spot Tsipras not fit to lead Greece

Jean-Claude Juncker, the center-right candidate for European Commission president and former Eurogroup chairman declared on Friday that SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, his leftist rival for the top EC post, would not make a good Greek Prime Minister as he w... ...


Portugal's bailout ends but austerity stays as Europe tries to leave crisis behind

by  ER/Associated Press A thousand days on from its near-economic collapse, Portugal is ready to stand on its own again and is promising not to go back to its bad old spend-happy ways.

On Saturday, after an internationally-mandated makeover, Portugal will become the second country that uses the euro as its currency, after Ireland, to officially shake off its bailout shackles.

Three years ago as the debt crisis fires were engulfing Europe and threatening to derail the whole euro currency project, Portugal's government was down to its last 300 million euros ($413 million) and facing the imminent prospect of bankruptcy.

To avoid that ignominy, sclerotic Portugal — like overspending Greece and overleveraged Ireland before it — asked and got an emergency financial rescue package from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund.

As with Athens and Dublin, the 78 billion euro bailout came at a price: Lisbon had to submit to a three-year program of deep spending cuts and reforms that stripped away welfare and labor entitlements.

Now, unlike Greece which had to negotiate a second bailout, the Portuguese government says it doesn't need any more help because investors have shown an appetite to lend money to the country at an affordable rate.

Despite a 0.7 percent quarterly contraction in the first three months of the year that the Portuguese government blamed on production stoppages at major exporting factories, Portugal's economy has shown signs of life too over the past year or so.

Its recovery is seen by European political leaders as evidence that the much-maligned austerity prescription was the right medicine for the country's ills. For many Portuguese, though, the success has come at an unacceptable price and the straitened times are set to continue.

Why is Portugal able to stand on its own feet?

Portugal last month breathed a sigh of relief when investors demonstrated renewed faith in the country's prospects when flocking to its first sale of long-term government debt since the crisis erupted.

Though the 750 million euros raised was relatively minimal, the ease at which the auction was conducted stood in marked contrast to the prevailing environment in the early part of 2011, when investors wouldn't touch Portugal's debt offerings with a 10-foot pole. Paying only around 3.6 percent is manageable, certainly when compared with the near 17 percent or so investors wanted three years ago.

"The main goal of the bailout program — to get reasonably-priced financing from markets — has been accomplished," said Alvaro Almeida of Porto University's Economics Faculty.

A key step in meeting that target was reducing the budget deficit — the amount the country spends beyond how much it receives in taxes and other revenue. At the end of 2013, that was down at 4.9 percent of the country's annual gross domestic product against 10.1 percent three years earlier.

Growth has also resumed after a three-year recession that sent unemployment sky-rocketing, particularly among the young. The IMF is predicting growth of 1.2 percent this year, just shy of the average in the 28-country European Union average of 1.6 percent.

What's pleasing many, particularly those that advocated the austerity program, has been the unexpected improvement in the country's exports, which rose by 27 percent between 2010 and 2013. Foreign sales by the traditional footwear and textile industries grew 40 percent and 11 percent respectively over the same period as companies belatedly modernized.

One of the purposes behind the austerity program was to make goods and services more competitive in international markets.

Consumers are also feeling a bit perkier. Passenger car sales, for example, jumped 40.5 percent in the first quarter, compared with an average 8.4 percent rise across Europe, according to the Portuguese Automobile Association.

And Portugal had a record year for tourism in 2013, with 14.4 million visitors staying at hotels — 4.2 percent up on the previous year.

Are there risks of a relapse?

Though Portugal has made great strides in getting a grip on its public finances, it still has a way to go. Portugal's so-called fiscal adjustment — matching current spending with income — is only about two-thirds complete. The target is for a zero deficit in 2018.

The first quarter economic contraction highlighted the fragility of the recovery especially in such an interconnected economy such as the eurozone.

Unsurprisingly then that Finance Minister Maria Luis Albuquerque has sought to dampen any sense of euphoria — there won't be any return to the bad old ways when Portugal's economy driven by cheap credit related to its membership of the euro camouflaged deep-rooted problems.

"It's not like we've struck oil," Albuquerque said recently. "The Portuguese economy is still fragile ... structural reforms start to bear fruit after three years, but they're not completed after three years."

Government debt remains high, at 129 percent of GDP last year, way above the EU average of 87.1 percent. That is one of the long-term worries that have kept Portuguese bonds classified as junk by the three main international ratings agencies.

And politically, there is no broad, cross-party endorsement for the path to follow like there was with the 2011 bailout agreement.

Ahead of next year's general election, the main opposition center-left Socialist Party has a clear lead in opinion polls. Its leader, Antonio Jose Seguro, insists measures must be redirected towards growth instead of cuts to "reduce inequality and create jobs."

But the worst is over, isn't it?

When the Portuguese wake up on May 18, their economic lives will be no different from the day before.

"The future will be very demanding," Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho warned.

And in a further reality check, President Anibal Cavaco Silva pointed out that Portugal won't have paid back 75 percent of its bailout loan until 2035 — and until then, it will be subject to close financial monitoring by its foreign creditors, who want to ensure they get their money back.

"Portugal: 20 years a slave," as one local newspaper had it.

That's hardly a headline that's going to create a buzz in a country that seen living standards tumble and over 200,000 people, feeling their aspirations crushed, emigrating over the past three years.

Some 2 million adults — about one-fifth of the population — lived on around 400 euros a month last year, according to the National Statistics Institute. It is a low-wage economy that seems out of place in 21st-century western Europe.

Many Portuguese have protested, marched and staged strikes, but they couldn't stop the austerity policies.

"I just feel like everything is going on above my head, I don't have much of a say in anything," said Susana Marques, a Lisbon city council gardener who earns the national minimum wage of 485 euros a month. "All I can do is keep trying to make ends meet."


The World Map of Exportable Products

Using data from the CIA Factbook, labeled all countries in the world with their highest valued export, creating a world map of exportable products. The map shows the main source of income of each country and also the vast differences between the continents. As expected, most countries in Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa mainly export some form of petrol or natural gas. Europe, meanwhile, is considered the world’s workshop, exporting all kinds of machinery and motor vehicles, although Belgium’s economy is founded upon its diamond trade, precious metals and minerals, while Portugal is based on agriculture. The Balkans export natural resources and clothing. Greece and Cyprus, along with Greenland and various countries in Africa and Latin America, are in the “green team” of exporters of food, beverages and agricultural products. The only countries whose exports are purely based on technological and electronic products are the U.S.A, China, Japan and Finland, while Myanmar is the only economy based mainly on exporting wood, deforestation being the military’s junta’s main contribution to global trade.  


More Tourists, More Hotels in Athens Center!

It appears that the increase of tourism in Greece will lead to the creation of more hotels in the Athens city center and especially in the capital’s main squares, Syntagma and Omonoia. The Greek Ministry of Defense has decided to restart the process for the long-term rental of Hotel La Mirage, which belongs to the Hellenic Air Force’s Mutual Benefit Fund, creating hopes that the hotel will grace Omonoia Square after more than five years.  The Hellenic Air Force’s Mutual Benefit Fund has been paying for the building’s maintenance and security since La Mirage closed in July 2008, so the ministry has ordered a negotiations committee to undertake the project of the hotel’s rental. As there will be no set price, extra caution will be taken in the evaluation of the company to undertake the hotel’s operation, including renovation expenses. A unit of the Electra Hotel group will be housed in the former building of the Education Ministry, in Mitropoleos street, near Syntagma Square. The hotel group, which also maintains two more units close to Syntagma is planning to create a six story building that will be leased for about 40 years, with the option of an extension. Furthermore, a boutique hotel owned by Benakopoulos hotel group will open in central Athens by 2015. The unit with a capacity of 50 beds, will be located in Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, in a building owned by the company. It is estimated that the project will cost 7.5 million euros.


Samaras Says Tsipras Destabilizes Greece

On the eve of elections for municipalities and EU Parliament, Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras said SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is trying to destabilize Greece just as it’s recovering from a crushing economic crisis. Greeks go to the polls on May to elect leaders of municipalities and polls show New Democracy slightly ahead, but behind in the May 25 elections for the European Parliament. Samaras’ coalition partner, the PASOK Socialists, are near dead last despite aligning themselves with a new center-left political movement called Elia, or Olive Tree. Samaras spoke out as PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos – who is his Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister – said the government needs a broader coalition as it teeters with only a two-vote majority in Parliament and Venizelos being challenged after taking the party to the edge of extinction after backing more austerity measures. “I want to publicly accuse Mr. Tsipras, in front of the Greek people, of undermining the national effort,” Samaras told an audience in Thessaloniki. “While all Europeans are preparing to elect representatives for the European Parliament, Mr. Tsipras is calling on Greeks to bring down their government.” Samaras argued that Tsipras is putting the possibility of an economic recovery this year at risk. Tsipiras said while Samaras has declared he’s creating a “success story,” that big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings have created a social tragedy of record unemployment and deep poverty. Samaras went straight after Tsipras. “He sees the elections as a vehicle for destabilization… at a time when more than ever we need to follow a steady path to capitalize on what we have achieved through so many sacrifices,” added the premier, as he expressed his support for New Democracy’s candidate for Central Macedonia Governor, Yiannis Ioannidis. In two TV interviews, Venizelos, apparently desperate to stay in power, said that he would approach President Karolos Papoulias after the elections to discuss the prospects for forming a broad “unity government” no matter how PASOK and Elia fare. Venizelos suggested that Samaras should bring back a previous coalition member, the Democratic Left (DIMAR) that quit last year in protest at the firing of all 2,653 workers at the now defunct state broadcaster ERT, a move that Venizelos backed, further eroding the Socialist base but elevating him. DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis has already flatly ruled out coming back and his party is floundering below the 3 percent threshold needed to win seats in Parliament if early elections are held before the government’s term runs out in 2016. Tsipras said the ruling parties will be repudiated and that national elections will have to be called, which he said would bring him to power. He has vowed to seek revisions to the terms of 240 billion euros ($330.7 billion) in two bailouts from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) or default, a prospect that frightens EU leaders. “The government must make an effort to rally all political forces,” Venizelos said, indicating that the common goal should be to project an impression of unity. He had said that if PASOK and Elia don’t do well at the polls that the government could fall because Samaras can’t rule without him. Venizelos appealed to those “flirting with” the idea of voting for SYRIZA not to do so, even as a protest, saying that would be “a dangerous game.” He added: “If someone thinks SYRIZA will bring back all that was lost between 2010 and 2014, they are mistaken,” referring to the austerity measures that financially crippled most Greeks.  


Finance Ministry’s Cleaning Staff Suspensions Deemed Unconstitutional

The First Instance Court of Athens has annulled the dismissal of 397 cleaning staff from the Greek Ministry of Finance, as their suspension was deemed unconstitutional. According to the court’s decision the cleaners must be reinstated in their positions immediately, without delay. The cleaners who had camped outside the Ministry of Finance in Athens Greece a few days ago, were excited with the outcome and celebrated their victory. Their lawyer, Yannis Karouzos said that the court decision must be executed immediately, irrespective of the Greek State’s intention to appeal adding  that the government’s suspension scheme violates constitutional rights. The court order is highly important, as it will open the floodgates for actions and appeals by other groups of public sector employees who have been suspended.  The 595 cleaners of the Finance Ministry were suspended in September 2013 and faced dismissal nine months later, on the day that the local government elections will be held, on May 18. The Greek government decided to extend the suspension period for employees who applied for a transfer.


Samaras Says Tsipras Greek Danger

On the eve of elections for Greek municipalities and the European Parliament. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is trying to destabilize Greece.

The post Samaras Says Tsipras Greek Danger appeared first on The National Herald.


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