Daily Archives: March 5, 2014

Η Καμπέρα είναι η καλύτερη αυστραλιανή πόλη

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Σύμφωνα με την ετήσια έρευνα του Property Council of Australia

Η Καμπέρα είναι πλέον η πιο βιώσιμη πόλη της Αυστραλίας ξεπερνώντας την Αδελαΐδα.

Σύμφωνα με την ετήσια έρευνα του Property Council of Australia, με τη συμμετοχή 4.500 ανθρώπων από τις δέκα μεγαλύτερες πόλεις της χώρας, η αυστραλιανή πρωτεύουσα ψηφίστηκε ως η καλύτερη, γιατί παρέχει στους κατοίκους της όλες τις απαραίτητες υπηρεσίες, εύκολη διακίνηση, υψηλό επίπεδο παιδείας και υγείας, ασφάλεια, σωστή πολεοδομία, δημόσιες συγκοινωνίες, ευκαιρίες απασχόλησης και ψυχαγωγία.

Στην ψηφοφορία ακολουθούν η Αδελαΐδα και το Χόμπαρτ, ενώ στην τελευταία θέση είναι το Ντάργουιν.

Πηγή: Νέος Κόσμος

Δραστικές κλιματολογικές αλλαγές στην Αυστραλία

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Προκαλούν ακραία καιρικά φαινόμενα

Τα ακραία καιρικά φαινόμενα στην Αυστραλία αυξάνονται, καθώς τα επίπεδα του διοξειδίου του άνθρακα στην ατμόσφαιρα εξακολουθούν να ανεβαίνουν, σύμφωνα με τελευταία ανάλυση του CSIRO και της Μετεωρολογικής Υπηρεσίας, όσον αφορά το πώς το κλίμα της χώρας έχει αλλάξει τα τελευταία δύο χρόνια. Από το 1950 και εντεύθεν, οι καύσωνες έχουν μεγαλύτερη διάρκεια, είναι εντονότεροι και παρατηρούνται συχνότερα σ’ όλη σχεδόν τη χώρα.

Παράλληλα, σύμφωνα με την ανάλυση, παρατηρείται ότι,  το διοξείδιο του άνθρακα στην ατμόσφαιρα είναι πυκνότερο και πιθανόν να έχει φθάσει τα υψηλότερα επίπεδα κατά τα τελευταία δύο εκατομμύρια χρόνια, ενώ τα τελευταία δύο χρόνια έχει φθάσει τα υψηλότερα επίπεδα που σημείωσε ποτέ.

Η αντιπρόεδρος του CSIRO, Dr Helen Cleugh, θα πει χαρακτηριστικά ότι «τα τελευταία δύο χρόνια παρατηρήθηκε το μεγαλύτερο άλμα στα επίπεδα του διοξειδίου του άνθρακα. Πέρυσι, ο μέσος όρος σε παγκόσμια κλίμακα έφτασε τα 395 μέρη κατά εκατομμύριο, το οποίο είναι πάνω από 40% υψηλότερο από ό,τι ήταν πριν τη βιομηχανική εποχή».

Η θερμοκρασία του αέρα και των ωκεανών είναι ένα βαθμό υψηλότερη από ό,τι ήταν πριν εκατό χρόνια, αναμένεται, δε, να αυξηθεί περαιτέρω, θα σημειωθούν δε περισσότερα ακραία καιρικά φαινόμενα και λιγότερες κρύες μέρες.

Να σημειωθεί ότι οι περισσότερες επικίνδυνες για πυρκαγιές μέρες, σημειώθηκαν στη νοτιο – ανατολική Αυστραλία. Σύμφωνα με την ίδια μελέτη, τα επίπεδα της θάλασσας ανυψώθηκαν κατά 22.5 εκατοστά από το 1880, αφότου ξεκίνησαν οι σχετικές μετρήσεις. Τα επίπεδα της θάλασσας στη Βόρεια Αυστραλία έφτασαν πάνω από τα επίπεδα του παγκόσμιου μέσου όρου παγκοσμίως που αγγίζουν τα 3.2 χιλιοστά το χρόνο. Η μελέτη παρουσιάζει, επίσης, μείωση στη συχνότητα των τροπικών κυκλώνων, αύξηση όμως στην ένταση και την καταστροφική τους μανία.

Στο σημείο αυτό θα πρέπει, εντούτοις, να τονιστεί ότι οι επιστήμονες του CSIRO, διευκρινίζουν ότι απαιτούνται περαιτέρω έρευνες προκειμένου να επιβεβαιωθεί αυτό, προσθέτοντας ότι δεν έχουν απόλυτη εμπιστοσύνη στις προβλέψεις του μέλλοντος. Εκείνο που εννοούν, όπως θα πει ο Dr. Cleugh, είναι ότι θα χρειαστεί να μελετηθούν οι διάφοροι παράγοντες οι οποίοι θα μεταβληθούν μελλοντικά και οι οποίοι θα επηρεάσουν τη συχνότητα των τροπικών κυκλώνων. Πρόκειται για ένα από τα φαινόμενα που είναι δύσκολο να προβλέψεις ποια θα είναι η ένταση και η συχνότητά τους. Αυτός και ο λόγος που συνεχίζουμε τις έρευνες, ώστε να είμαστε σε θέση να «προβούμε σε μια ακριβέστερη πρόβλεψη».

Πηγή: Νέος Κόσμος

Teachers conference supports Gonski reforms

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Curriculum review designed to divert attention from schools funding, claim unionists

The full Gonski funding over six years, as initially planned and implemented, is the minimum requirement if all schools are to deliver the level of resources needed in order to give every child a high quality education. This is what is highlighted at the 2014 conference statement of the Australian Education Union (AEU), headed nationally by NSW teacher and unionist Angelo Gavrielatos.

The Australian Education Union, representing 190,000 teachers and allied educators in schools, colleges and early childhood centres, held its annual conference last weekend in Melbourne and vouched to continue to campaign in support of the Gonski reform as we go into the May federal budget. Failure to implement the Gonski recommendations, said the union, will leave up to 20 per cent of public schools across Australia without an adequate level of resources and will perpetuate educational inequality.

In relation to the announced review of the national curriculum, the AEU believes that this ideologically driven review is principally designed to divert public attention from the failure of the Abbott government to commit to the full six years of Gonski funding as agreed between the former Labor federal government and five state and territory governments.

In the 2014 conference statement the Australian Education Union rejects the autonomy of schools as advocated by federal education minister Christopher Pyne and accuses the federal government of adopting market driven policies in the TAFE sector, while at the same time they highlight that the federal government cuts in recurrent funding to the Vocation Education and Training (VET) resulted in a drop of 6 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

Addressing the 2014 AEU Conference in Melbourne was George Alevizakis, a member of the Executive of the Federation for Greek Secondary School Teachers (OLME). In his address, Mr Alevizakis stressed that education and health are public goods and informed the Australian delegates that since the onset of the crisis in Greece, education funding has been reduced by 33 per cent, while teachers wages have been slashed by 38 per cent to 45 per cent for the newly appointed teachers, who are now expected to start work with a gross monthly salary of 640 euros.

source: Neos Kosmos

More transparency for Bank of Greece

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Despite disagreement with troika, that sees needs up to 9 bln euros, the central bank will put them at 6 bln

The Bank of Greece intends to publish local banks’ capital requirements by this Friday despite the disagreement noted in the second meeting between Governor Giorgos Provopoulos and troika mission chiefs in Athens on Tuesday.

The chief inspectors from the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund insisted in Tuesday’s meeting that the capital needs of domestic lenders amount to 8.5-9 billion euros, according to the stress tests conducted on their loan portfolios by BlackRock Solutions late last year. Provopoulos however countered that the BoG’s calculation of the banks’ needs was based on BlackRock’s findings and that the central bank had followed a conservative approach to ensure the reliability of the exercise.

Sources say that the Bank of Greece has determined the capital needs of the banking sector at around 6 billion euros. Eurobank and National will each require over 2 billion euros, while the requirements of Piraeus Bank and Alpha will be marginal. Besides the four systemic banks, the BoG report will also include the needs of Attica Bank and Panellinia.

Tuesday’s meeting also examined the time frame that banks should be given to amass the necessary funds. There was no definitive decision on that either, but banking sector sources estimate that the process will have to be concluded before November, when the results of the new Pan-European stress tests will be issued by the ECB.

Notably, the ECB has made it clear that the issue of recapitalizations is the exclusive responsibility of the national regulatory authority, which will have the final say on the matter. After all, the BoG constitutes an independent institution which is not under government control and therefore its policy cannot be the object of political negotiations between the government and the troika.

Bank officials add that the local market will not respond negatively even if the troika publishes its disagreement with the results issued by the BoG.

Source: Kathimerini

 

London calling for Downer

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Refocusing: Former UN special envoy to Cyprus Alexander Downer is tipped to become Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK. Photo: AAP/Alan Porritt.

Is the Cyprus situation better for Alexander Downer’s efforts?

While the age of entitlement seems well and truly alive with Alexander Downer’s much anticipated shoo-in to the job of Australia’s High Commissioner in London, to say the jury is out over what Mr Downer achieved during his time as UN Special Envoy to Cyprus might be an understatement.

The former foreign minister won praise from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for playing an ”indispensable role” since 2008 in efforts to resolve the longstanding dispute between Cyprus’ two communities, whose leaders issued a joint declaration earlier this month to relaunch negotiations for a settlement.

Mr Downer said that while the statement was way short of a solution, in his view it marked one of the best agreements since the 1974 conflict that separated the island.

After more than five years of shuttle diplomacy between Australia, the US and Cyprus in the envoy role, the statement created a line in the sand for the former Coalition minister, and offered an opportunity to step back: an unsurprising move given an increasingly frosty relationship with Cyprus’ Greek Cypriot community.

Downer described the job as “…fascinating, a hugely complex and difficult issue”. It was a diplomat’s response. Uninterested in a return to parliamentary politics, he said he would devote himself to other pursuits: a consulting company, teaching at the University of Adelaide and doing his bit for SA’s Liberal party in the run-up to the state election. But the pull of high office in one of the plum diplomatic postings is something most would find hard to resist. Mr Downer’s appointment to the UK capital would see him return to the city of his youth in a role previously occupied by his father, Sir Alexander, who held the post from 1963 to 1972.

Downer’s end of term report – as far as the Cyprus diaspora in Australia is concerned – is mixed, a C grade at best.

PASEKA president Constantinos Procopiou told Neos Kosmos: “It is certain his task was not an easy one considering the facts on the ground, and the arrogance of the one side as they had the advantage of military might.”

If the UN was to invest in another post aimed at finding a lasting settlement to the Cyprus dispute, Mr Procopiou suggested the envoy would do well to “redirect the negotiating parties to the agreed principles for the solution.

“Should one party deviate, he or she should advise the UN on the facts and the real reasons for any failure of the negotiations.”

Dr Michális Michael – senior research fellow at La Trobe University – believes that Alexander Downer’s legacy as envoy is limited.

“By the end of his tenure, Downer’s relationship with the Greek Cypriots had all but collapsed,” said Dr Michael, who is deputy director of the Centre for Dialogue “President Nicos Anastasiades said in a televised interview that Downer had lost confidence amongst the great majority of Greek Cypriots as an honest broker. The observation was followed by Downer postponing a meeting with the president.

“After six years, Downer – like so many before him – became tired and frustrated over the gridlock that is the Cyprus problem.”

source: Neos Kosmos

Help for Hellas

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THI chairman Andrew N. Liveris.

The Hellenic Initiative (THI), a global effort aimed at helping Greece, will be launched in Sydney this month

The New York based global non-profit and secular institution The Hellenic Initiative (THI), whose vision is to mobilise the global diaspora and the Philhellene community of the world to invest in the future of Greece, is to be launched on 26 March in Sydney, according to Neos Kosmos sources. The Australian launch of The Hellenic Initiative (THI) will be hosted by journalist Helen Kapalos and will have as its featured speaker THI’s chairman, Mr Andrew N. Liveris AO, the highly respected Australian of Greek heritage who serves as chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company. The Australian launch aims to bring together a select group of industry and community leaders of Greek heritage from around Australia who have been recognised for their individual and community achievements.

THI was launched in the northern summer of 2012 in Athens and in New York is headed by Darwin born and Queensland educated Andrew Liveris, and claims as its president and honorary patron the former President of the United States of America Bill Clinton.

Launching the initiative in 2012, founding member and chairman Andrew Liveris said that “by combining the support and expertise of the global diaspora and Philhellene community – Oli Mazi(All Together) – The Hellenic Initiative will provide immediate and vital support in ensuring the prosperity of established and new organizations, and more importantly, encourage ongoing education, entrepreneurism and investment that will provide a sustainable foundation for the country’s future.”

Matching words with action, as it was reported last October in Neos Kosmos, THI has put together a $100 million private-equity investment fund for small and midsize businesses frozen out of the capital markets. It is expected that this fund will be able to start making investments from this year onwards as well as attempting to address the financing needs of start-up companies in Greece.

The strategy of THI, an impact investment fund, focuses on three pillars: crisis relief, entrepreneurship, and economic development.

The fund aims to provide growth equity to small and mid-sized companies, since they are the back bone of the Greek economy and their success is critical if Greece is to recover.

Fellowships for early and mid-career Greek professionals that enable them to stay for 12 months in leading U.S. businesses, entrepreneurship programs, and initiatives of crisis relief along with partner organisations in Greece are some of the other programs of THI.

The driving force of the founding members of The Hellenic Initiative is their belief that Greece needs all those who can help today more than ever. This is a long term commitment, vow its founding members, all influential business leaders in the U.S.A.

“If not us, who? Join us”, is their moto.

source: Neos Kosmos

Naxos among best islands in world

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Naxos has been recognized amongst the world’s top island destinations in three categories, by travelers on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, in its Traveler’s Choice Islands awards 2014.

More specifically, Naxos was ranked number six in the Top 10 Islands in the World category, number two in the category Top 10 Islands in Europe, and in the category of Top 10 Islands-Greece, Naxos came in as first.

“A spot of white in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, the island of Naxos is a unique blend of ancient ruins and beach culture,” travel review site, Tripadvisor, said referring to the largest island of the Cyclades group.

“Naxos is the childhood home of none other than Zeus, king of the gods. Upon arrival in Naxos, hike over a causeway to Palatia, where the Portara, a stone gateway to an ancient temple that no longer exists, stands alone, the symbol of the island. At sunset, the views of the island, and the sea beyond, are breathtaking.”

In its second year, the annual awards recognize more than 100 islands globally, including top 10 lists for Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, South America, the South Pacific, and the U.S.

According to TripAdvisor, Travelers’ Choice Island winners are determined based on the quality and quantity of the most highly-rated hotels, restaurants, and attractions listed for each island on TripAdvisor gathered during a 12-month period.

source: Neos Kosmos