Jumat, 06 April 2012

Around the horn in Greece - IMF comments , Greek bank recap holding up election date - now perhaps May 13th


by George Gilson6 Apr 2012
The IMF chief's warning that Greece has not definitively avoided bankruptcy captured much press attention
The IMF chief's warning that Greece has not definitively avoided bankruptcy captured much press attention

IMF chief Christine Lagarde’s warning that Greece has not definitively avoided bankruptcy captured press attention, as the seemingly endless sacrifices of the Greek people are obviously not enough to avert a more formal default.
The IMF, the organisation that best manages to destroy the social fabric of societies, is concerned that the Greek elections may jeopardise implementation of the bailout programme.
At least it had the courtesy to allow Greece to hold elections, although everyone knows that political, social and economic policy is determined by the country’s creditors, and not the Greeks themselves.
Louka Katseli dropped a political bombshell in her claim that it was not the troika that demanded the essential abolition of collective bargaining, but rather George Papandreou and his two finance ministers – Yiorgos Papakonstantinou and Evangelos Venizelos. One might say that Katseli, a former labour minister, wants to torpedo Pasok so as to help her fledgling Social Pact party, which has not polled well so far.
But she had voted down the relevant article (37) on labour relations in the new bailout memorandum, which was the reason she was expelled from Pasok.
If the charge is true, it proves what many already believed – that the domestic political and business classes are persuading the troika to take anti-labour measures that they may not have insisted on otherwise.
“Greece has not yet definitively averted bankruptcy” read Kathimerini’s headline, quoting from Christine Lagarde.
“They are withdrawing their money from Switzerland” declared Ta Nea’s headline, referring to Greek depositors. The report said that many depositors fear that a Swiss-Greek agreement may lead to them being taxed on their deposits. But the fact is that the bilateral agreement is quite a way off.
“Patients face a Golgotha at pharmacies” declared Ethnos’ headline on the new national health agency, the National Organisation for the Provision of Health Services (EOPYY).
The new fund owes two billion euros, and hence insured patients will no longer have credit at pharmacies. One recent report said that a woman who needed a drug for cancer could not get it, because the pharmacist would have had to pay 4,000 euros up front to get it from the supplier, and of course no one will do that.
“Scenario for elections on May 13 is on the table” read another front-page title. That would be a one week postponement from the May 6 date that has been floated so far. The reason reportedly is a delay in the recapitalisation of the banks.


Ferry strike confirmed for April 10-11
6 Apr 2012
Seamen will hold a strike on April 10-11 (Photo: Reuters)
Seamen will hold a strike on April 10-11 (Photo: Reuters)

Seamen on Friday said they will go ahead with a 48-hour strike, on April 10-11, after talks with the government ended in deadlock.
The strike will spell misery for many travellers to the islands around Easter, which falls on April 15 in Greece and the rest of the Orthodox world, one week ahead of elsewhere.
The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) said it deemed the outcome of talks with the shipping minister as "unsatisfactory" and would carry out the strike, despite appeals and pressure from tourism and business groups. (Athens News/gw/dmcu)



Photojournalist seriously injured by riot police in Athens

 A photograph of Marios Lolos in Syntagma Square on Thursday night.
A photojournalist covering an anti-austerity protest in Syntagma on Thursday night was due to undergo surgery on Friday after being allegedly beaten by riot officers during clashes between rioters and police in a rally sparked by the suicide on Wednesday morning of a pensioner in the square in front of Parliament.
Marios Lolos, the president of the Greek Photojournalists' Union, sustained serious head injuries after being repeatedly beaten with batons, according to witnesses.
The photojournalist was due on Friday to undergo surgery at Hygeia Hospital for life-threatening cranial injuries.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Greek Photojournalists' Union decried «the barbaric and unprovoked attack,» saying that Lolos and other photojournalists have been «targeted» by riot police.
«Systematic and repeated attacks against people of the press when they are doing their jobs, which violate even the most fundamental of human rights, cannot be seen as arbitrary; even the most naive can surmise that they are meant to gag the press,» the union's statement said.
Lolos is the third reporter in two days to have been injured in clashes at Syntagma Square.
On Thursday, a reporter with NET state television made allegations that he had been rough-handled by riot officers during the first protest following the 77-year-old pensioner's suicide on Wednesday, while private channel Antenna also said that one of its journalists was hit with a baton on the back of the neck by riot police on the same day.
In October last year, Tatiana Bolari, a photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, was beaten repeatedly by a riot officer while covering a large anti-austerity protest, with images of the attack making their way around the world.
Last June, journalist Manolis Kypraios permanently lost his hearing when a policeman threw a stun grenade at him during a riot in Syntagma, prompting reactions from human rights groups.
The chief of the Greek police said on Thursday that an investigation would be conducted into allegations of excessive use of force by riot officers.
Press unions on Friday held a rally at the Citizens' Protection Ministry on Katechaki Avenue to protest the latest attack.


Anti-austerity protesters clash with police again

Police clashed with demonstrators for a second day on Thursday night at the site where an elderly man shot and killed himself in downtown Athens and left a note blaming the country's harsh austerity measures for his suicide.
About 1,000 people gathered in the capital's main Syntagma Square to leave flowers, candles and messages for the late retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas, and several dozen youths dressed in hoods and crash helmets smashed paving stones with hammers and threw the rubble at riot police.
The protesters chanted «Killers! Killers!» as police responded with tear gas and flash grenades during the clashes, which lasted about 20 minutes.
Christoulas, 77, shot himself in the head on Wednesday in Syntagma Square next to parliament -- rekindling anti-austerity protests that have frequently turned violent over the past two years.
The suicide occurred during morning rush hour, and the tree under which he died was quickly covered with Greek flags and notes blaming government-imposed austerity for his death.
Neighbors and acquaintances said Christoulas was politically active, joining a string of anti-austerity protests at Syntagma Square last year, but did not appear to have debts or visible financial problems.
"He was quiet, a bit of an introvert. He lived alone and took the tube,» said neighbor Irene Economou. «He had put up a banner on his balcony with the sign 'I won't pay,'» referring to an anti-austerity movement that has called for free use of toll-roads and public transport. «I had heard he was very political.» [AP]



News bites @ 9
by Damian Mac Con Uladh6 Apr 2012
The Antikythera Mechanism, which went on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens on Thursday. Don't miss it! (Eurokinissi)
The Antikythera Mechanism, which went on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens on Thursday. Don't miss it! (Eurokinissi)

1. MORE TRIBUTES, MORE CLASHES Fresh clashes broke out on Thursday night at the Syntagma Square protests, in the wake of pensioner Dimitris Christoulas' suicide near parliament. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades at rioting youths, who smashed paving stones with hammers and threw the debris at police. Protesters shouted abuse at police and chanted "Killers!" as the site of the man's death was covered in small flags, candles and flowers.
2. JOURNALIST ATTACKED The police are under fire after the head of the Press Photographers Union, Marios Lolos, had to undergo emergency brain surgery after he was struck with a baton by riot police. In a statement, his union said he had suffered a "traumatic brain injury" when a riot policeman struck him from behind. Lolos is the third journalist to be injured by policemen in two days.
3. FERRY TALKS DEADLOCKED Ferry workers have failed to break a deadlock in talks with the government to try and prevent an Easter strike. Leaders of the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) said they were "some distance" from the proposals they received at a meeting on Thursday with Shipping Minister Anna Diamantopoulou. The PNO is planning a strike on April 10-11, spelling misery for Easter travellers. Union officials are expected to meet again on Friday, with Diamantopoulou maintaining that her dialogue with PNO is ongoing.
4. FILTY SPORTING FACILITIES Training facilities used by the country's Olympic athletes are being targeted by looters, and have often been left without heating and cleaning services, the Hellenic Amateur Athletic Association (SEGAS) has warned. SEGAS suspended all domestic competition on Wednesday, with Sevastis warning the ban could be extended to international competition unless the funding crisis is resolved. He added he had made contact with the culture ministry, but warned that time was running out for the government to come up with a solution, as parliament is expected to close next Wednesday before the general election. "We have about 10 days to fix this," he said. Earlier, the government's top sports official, Panos Bitsaxis, said there was no chance of Greece missing the Olympics.
5. HUNT FOR FILES The finance minister on Thursday informed parliament that he had ordered a search of archives of the General Accounting Office for evidence to support the state's claims against Germany for outstanding war reparations. Filippos Sachinidis said that ministry officials had already found dossiers with details of Greeks who had received compensation from Germany in the 1960s, while the search of the archives would continue and any documents found would be utilised and converted to digital form in order to ensure that it would not be lost.
6. BANK RECAPITALISATION Bank shareholders are under pressure from the government to contribute billions of euros to recapitalise the lenders so that the government can avoid taking them over. Investors will find out by April 20 the details of the financial support package on offer from the government, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said on Thursday. The government desperately wants to keep the banks in private hands. The terms are likely to determine whether shareholders decide to take part. If they balk at the offer, the indebted Greek state could end up owning the banks.
7. BUSINESSMAN OF THE YEAR The country's businessman of the year in 2011, according to prize giver Hellenic Management Association (EEDE), is George Kotsalos, chief executive of insurance company Interamerican. Addressing the award ceremony, the EEDE's head said the country was suffering not because of the difficult economic situation but because of a lack of clear vision. Konstantinos Labrinopoulos stressed that Greece must abandon the model on which this society lived and continues to live for the past 60 years. “The only thing that must remain stable is human values, those values that differentiate people from other living things,” he added.
8. BASKETBALL They may have lost the football championship in shame, but Panathinaikos are back in basketball's Final Four in the Euroleague, after beating Maccabi 86-85 in a nailbiter at the Olympic stadium. Dimitris Diamantidis scored the crucial free throw to end the night with 25 points after dominating the game. Sarunas Jasikevicius was the distant runner up on the Greens' scoreboard with 13. With just 10 seconds left, Maccabi trailed 85-82, but Guy Pnini was fouled on a three-point try and sank all three shots from the free throw line. Defending champions Panathinaikos now head to Turkey to face CSKA Moscow at the May 11-13 event, while Olympiakos take on Barcelona.
9. MEMORY BANK Do you recall firsthand what the world was like before 1950? Are you interested in hearing about it? Then you might be interested in the Memoro: The Bank of Memories project, a non-profit initiative which collects, classifies and shares online the stories and experiences of people born before 1950. In a word, it's the online version of the stories that grandparents used to tell their grandchildren. Set up in Italy in 2007, it began collecting testimony in Greece last year. On its website, you can hear witness recall all sorts of experiences, such as the Second World War and emigration.

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