Daily Archives: February 2, 2015

Καλοπέραση τέλος για τον Τζέρεμι, το πληγωμένο κοάλα

Καλοπέραση τέλος για τον Τζέρεμι, το πληγωμένο κοάλα

Ο πληγωμένος Τζέρεμι σε στιγμές μοναδικής περιποίησης (φωτ. AWMRRO)

 

Ο Τζέρεμι είναι ένα βασανισμένο κοάλα. Δηλαδή ήταν, καθώς δοκιμάστηκε σκληρά στις πυρκαγιές που έπληξαν την Αδελαΐδα, τον Ιανουάριο. Στο διαδίκτυο έκαναν θραύση οι εικόνες του Τζέρεμι να δέχεται «βασιλική περιποίηση» για να επουλωθούν οι πληγές του.

Όλα αυτά όμως τελείωσαν και ο Τζέρεμι επέστρεψε στο φυσικό του περιβάλλον.

«Βασικά, θα πρέπει πλέον να καταλάβει ότι τελείωσε το ρουμ σέρβις» είπε στο BBC η αρμόδια του κέντρου, όπου είχε μεταφερθεί με εγκαύματα το ζώο.

Πηγή:in.gr

Γερμανική οργή κατά παρουσιαστή που είπε «Ελλάδα γίναμε» όταν έπεσε το ρεύμα

Γερμανική οργή κατά παρουσιαστή που είπε «Ελλάδα γίναμε» όταν έπεσε το ρεύμα

H εισαγωγή του παρουσιαστή προκάλεσε σχόλια στα γερμανικά ΜΜΕ για τη διάδοση στερεοτύπων γύρω από την Ελλάδα

 

Η μεγαλύτερης θεαματικότητας εκπομπή στη γερμανική τηλεόραση το βράδυ της Κυριακής είχε θέμα την ελληνική κρίση στον απόηχο των εκλογών, και τίτλο «Πού οδηγεί η οργή των Ελλήνων;». Μία μικρή ατυχία στο ξεκίνημά της όμως ήταν εκείνη που σχολιάζεται περισσότερο στον γερμανικό Τύπο.

Η εκπομπή άργησε να ξεκινήσει επειδή υπήρξε διακοπή ρεύματος για 20 λεπτά. Το πρόβλημα θα τύγχανε κατανόησης, αλλά ο παρουσιαστής της εκπομπής Γκούντερ Γιάουχ θέλησε να ζητήσει με χιούμορ συγγνώμη για την καθυστέρηση: «Γίναμε Ελλάδα» είπε στους τηλεθεατές πριν συνεχίσει με τους καλεσμένους του (απέδωσε το πρόβλημα, επί λέξει, σε «συνθήκες Ελλάδας»).

Εκείνη την ώρα, το σχόλιο δεν έτυχε ιδιαίτερης προσοχής στο στούντιο. Ωστόσο, προκάλεσε αντιδράσεις και σχόλια τόσο στο Δαιδίκτυο παράλληλα με την εκπομπή όσο και στις γερμανικές εφημερίδες το πρωί της Δευτέρας.

«Πιο κατάλληλο θα ήταν να μιλά κανείς για “συνθήκες Γερμανίας” παρά για Ελλάδας» απάντησε η Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) στον παρουσιαστή, ξεκινώντας το κείμενό της με την υπενθύμιση άλλων περιστατικών διακοπής ρεύματος σε γερμανικό στάδιο. «Δεν κάνει κακό να ξεχνούμε ποιος χαρακτηριζόταν μέχρι πριν από μερικά χρόνια ο “μεγάλος ασθενής” της Ευρώπης» συνεχίζει, αναφερόμενος στο πώς αναφερόταν προ δεκαετίας η γερμανική οικονομία.

Επιτιθέμενη στα «στερεότυπα για την Ελλάδα», η FAZ -μία από τις πιο επιφυλακτικές αυτές τις ημέρες εφημερίδες απέναντι στην Αθήνα- επικρίνει με τον ίδιο τρόπο που επικρίνουν και άλλα ΜΜΕ (όπως, ενδεικτικά, το Spiegel) το αστείο του Γιάουχ ως μη παραγωγικό κλισέ την ώρα που χρειάζεται ουσιαστική συζήτηση γύρω από τις «συνθήκες στην Ελλάδα».

Ανάλογα, όπως αναφέρει από την πλευρά της η Handelsblatt, ήταν και τα σχόλια στο Twitter μετά το αστείο του Γιάουχ: «Μάλλον συνθήκες Γερμανίας ήταν κύριε Γιάουχ, τεχνολογία αιχμής και παρ’ όλα αυτά ακόμη στο σκοτάδι» σχολιάσαν γερμανοί χρήστες στο Twitter.

Πηγή;in.gr

Study reveals inadequacies in Modern Greek teaching

Study reveals inadequacies in Modern Greek teaching

If the Modern Greek language is to be preserved in Australia for years to come, Professor Anastasios Tamis urges changes must be made.

A new study into the teaching and learning of Modern Greek across Australia has revealed that the current approach and methods used are no longer adequate for maintaining the future use of the Greek language down under.

Professors Anastasios Tamis and Michael Tsianikas are the academics responsible for the study, which looks at all facets of Modern Greek education in Australia from 1997 to 2014, including the attitudes of parents and students.

The study revealed a number of compelling findings, one of which was the insufficiency and inadequacy of the teaching time allocated to language learning.

“We are devoting very limited time for Modern Greek teaching and learning, which has now been reduced almost to 95 minutes per week on average in both government and independent schools,” Professor Tamis told Neos Kosmos.

“It is humanly impossible, even if you are dealing with the most genius students, to teach any language in that time, let alone Greek, which necessitates 2,600 hours to learn,” he says.

Further findings showed that teachers are not well-accustomed with electronic teaching methods, which doesn’t allow for a contemporary interactive learning experience.

Other contributing factors included the attitudes of parents, their willingness to use Greek in the family home and the time they are willing to devote to their child’s education.

However, one of the biggest changes that must be made is the perception of Greek as a community language.

“The fallacy is that Greek is not a community language. Greek is not just a language spoken by the Greeks. As I say to my students, if you want to speak good English you have to learn Greek. This is how we should portray the language to the outside world,” he says.

The 91 pages of the study give an insightful view into the state of Modern Greek in Australia’s diaspora, with the contributing knowledge of Greek educators across the country.

Professor Tamis revealed he was not surprised by the findings.

“It’s a consequence of the actual historical, social and economic grievances of our community, and of course it is also the consequence of the lack perhaps of systemic thinking and policies about the future,” he explained.

“If you were to travel to Collins Street you will find out there are many heritage buildings there from the 18th and 19th centuries and the government is investing millions of dollars to preserve them, to make them look nice. The same thing has to happen with the Greek language.”

Prior to 2009 academics estimated that the Greek language would still have a strong base of usage within Australia until the year 2025. However, due to the economic crisis that has plagued Greece, and the estimated 80,000 Greeks that have migrated to Australia, another 10 to 15 years has been added to its expected lifespan.

Despite the findings, there is still hope for Modern Greek.

Professor Tamis proposes that “a real round table discussion must take place” with educators, institutions and community leaders to decide on future movements for the language, where modern technology should be encouraged and the amount of time students spend on language and the frequency of classes be increased.

Greek Australian parents are also urged to play their part and should to be made aware that Greek must return home as a family language.

“Unless we use those four elements I don’t see how the language is going to survive beyond 2040.”

source:Neos Kosmos

Στήριξη Ομπάμα στην Αθήνα: Ανάπτυξη, όχι άλλη λιτότητα

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Δήλωση στήριξης στην Ελλάδα έρχεται διά στόματος του Μπαράκ Ομπάμα εν μέσω των ευρωπαϊκών επαφών της νέας κυβέρνησης ΣΥΡΙΖΑ. «Δεν μπορείς να συνεχίσεις να πιέζεις χώρες που βρίσκονται σε ύφεση» δήλωσε ο Αμερικανός πρόεδρος μιλώντας στο δίκτυο CNN επισημαίνοντας ότι πρέπει να γίνουν μεταρρυθμίσεις στην Ελλάδα αλλά όχι με συνθήκες λιτότητας, αλλά ανάπτυξης.

Παράλληλα, ο Μπαράκ Ομπάμα πρόκειται να στείλει υφυπουργό Οικονομικών των ΗΠΑ στην Αθήνα, όπως μετέδωσε το Mega.

«Αυτό που είναι αλήθεια είναι ότι δεν μπορείς να συνεχίσεις να πιέζεις χώρες που βρίσκονται σε υφεση. Κάποια στιγμή πρέπει να υπάρξει στρατηγική ανάπτυξης, προκειμένου αυτές οι χώρες να μπορέσουν να αποπληρώσουν τα χρέη τους, να μειώσουν κάποια από τα ελλείμματά τους» απαντά ο Μπαράκ Ομπάμα στην ερώτηση του δημοσιογράφου Φαρίντ Ζακάρια «εάν συμφωνεί με τη δήλωση του νέου πρωθυπουργού της Ελλάδας ότι η λιτότητα δεν έφερε αποτέλεσμα».

Ο Μπαράκ Ομπάμα επισήμανε πως δεν υπάρχει αμφιβολία ότι η οικονομία της Ελλάδας είχε επιτακτική ανάγκη μεταρρυθμίσεων -«η συλλογή των φόρων στην Ελλάδα ήταν διάσημα τραγική» ανέφερε.

«Νομίζω ότι για να μπορέσει η Ελλάδα να γίνει ανταγωνιστική στην παγκόσμια αγορά, έπρεπε να δρομολογήσουν μια σειρά από αλλαγές. Είναι πολύ δύσκολο να γίνουν αυτές οι αλλαγές εάν το επίπεδο διαβίωσης των πολιτών έχει πέσει κατά 25%, αυτό δεν μπορεί να το αντέξει ούτε η ελληνική κοινωνία ούτε το πολιτικό σύστημα» σημείωσε.

Ο Αμερικανός πρόεδρος τόνισε ότι ελπίζει να παραμείνει η Ελλάδα στην Ευρωζώνη, και υπογράμμισε ότι αυτό θα απαιτούσε συμβιβασμούς από όλες τις πλευρές.

«Όταν η οικονομική κρίση στην Ελλάδα ενέσκηψε πριν από μερικά χρόνια, εμείς είχαμε ενεργό ρόλο στην προσπάθεια αντιμετώπισης της. Νομίζω ότι αναγνωρίζει η Γερμανία και άλλοι ότι θα ήταν καλύτερο για την Ελλάδα να παραμείνει στην Ευρωζώνη, από το να βρεθεί έξω από αυτή. Είναι μία κατάσταση που στις αγορές δεν αρέσει» ανέφερε.

Για την ανάπτυξη στην Ευρώπη σημείωσε πως η δημοσιονομική πειθαρχία είναι σημαντική, οι διαρθρωτικές μεταρρύθμισες είναι απαραίτητες σε πολλές χώρες, αλλά αυτό που μας δίδαξε η αμερικανική εμπειρία είναι πως ο καλύτερος τρόπος να μειώσεις τα ελλείμματα είναι να αποκαταστήσεις τη δημοσιονομική σταθερότητα, να αναπτυχθείς. «Όταν έχεις μία οικονομία σε ελεύθερη πτώση πρέπει να υπάρξει στρατηγική ανάπτυξης και όχι απλώς να γίνονται προσπάθειες πίεσης ενός πληθυσμού που δεινοπαθεί ολοένα και περισσότερο» κατέληξε.

Πηγή:in.gr

Greece: Cash may dry up earlier than thought


New government will likely compromise, but ELA money for banks could stop flowing sooner than expected.

The negotiations between the new government and the country’s international lenders got off to a rough start, as evidenced by the joint press conference between Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Whether this is negotiating tactics in a game of chicken or a fundamental change in Greek economic policy with unforeseen consequences remains to be seen. Still, a lot depends on liquidity, which may play a decisive role in the next few weeks or months.

We wrote last week that Alexis Tsipras has the opportunity to make history by becoming the country’s first leftist prime minister and a real reformer. We noted, however, he will have to change his view on many issues to become like Lula, the Brazilian leftist leader who became the darling of the markets. We highlighted two points to begin with: the handling of the extension of the existing program which expires on February 28 and the negotiations with the EU and the IMF since he did not recognize the troika and did not want to negotiate with it.

We posed the question because the Greek political parties usually tend to renege on their main pre-election promises when they take power. This is well known to voters and foreign observers of the Greek political scene. But Premier Tsipras has vowed to differ. He intends to keep his pre-election pledges and reportedly told the visiting Eurogroup president so last Friday.

So the new government does not recognize the troika and does not want to negotiate with it. To support their case, government officials point to a report issued by the economic committee of the European Parliament last year. The inquiry of the committee underlined the internal problems that the troika setup has had and questioned its democratic foundation. It also criticized the troika system for failing to adapt the policy measures to the particular circumstances of each bailout country.

In addition, Varoufakis made it clear that the new government will not seek an extension of the adjustment program which expires on February 28 since it considers it a failure. Instead, it will seek a new agreement, aiming to lower the annual primary budget surpluses to 1-1.5 percent of GDP. However, it is also clear the EU and particularly Germany take a different view and insist the coalition government, made up of SYRIZA and the rightist Independent Greeks party (ANEL), should honor the country’s bailout agreements.

Although the vast majority of analysts and others expected the negotiations to be tough, the turn of the events has taken them by surprise. This is more so since the government has vowed to stop some privatizations, hire back a few thousand public sector employees, raise the minimum wage and increase social spending – in other words, to roll back some of the structural reforms. This has prompted some analysts to question whether this is negotiating tactics in a game of chicken where the two parties head for collision and one of them blinks before it happens or if it signals something completely different.

A small number of Greek commentators, mostly from the left, have argued the new government is made up of ideologues who truly believe they can change Greece and Europe. According to them, the government will not back down from its pre-election promises. Instead, it will prepare the ground for a second election in the next few weeks or months, aiming for SYRIZA to obtain a majority in Parliament and implement its agenda without having to count on ANEL or others. This scenario is more complicated as it would involve geopolitics, though that is beyond the scope of this article.

In any case, a lot depends on whether the state has enough money to keep functioning as long as the standoff continues and how the public reacts to the news. Experts admit it is not easy to determine the funding needs of the state without knowing whether people and companies pay their taxes or/and social security contributions regularly. The evidence so far points to a shortfall in revenues. But an official estimated recently the state could cover its funding needs in February if it managed to borrow a total of 2.4 billion euros via two treasury bill auctions scheduled for the first two weeks of February. It could also cut government spending by scaling down the public investment budget and delay payments to suppliers and others to accommodate any revenue shortfall which is likely to arise. According to the same official, the financial situation will get tight as we approach mid-March.

However, his estimate was based on the assumption the Greek public will behave normally and the banks will continue to have access to the ECB and the emergency liquidity mechanism (ELA) of the Bank of Greece to replenish deposit outflows. The ECB is due to review the amount of ELA funds on Wednesday. The Bank of Greece requested 10 billion euros in ELA loans a couple of weeks ago but the ECB approved 7 billion according to various bank sources. Net deposit outflows are estimated at about 12 billion euros in the last two months.

Assuming there is enough liquidity for the state to cover its borrowing needs, the standoff between the government and the lenders could go on for a while, culminating either in a compromise or a breakup. However, liquidity could become scarce faster than projected if the ECB decides to limit Greek banks’ access to ELA loans next week. Although we still assign a higher probability to the compromise scenario, one cannot rule out the other.

source: ekathimerini.com

Varoufakis counting on ECB as Sapin says Greece needs new contract with eurozone

Greece is counting on the European Central Bank to maintain a financial lifeline while the week-old government in Athens negotiates new terms on its international bailout package, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said.

While the country is “desperate” for funds, it will forgo further disbursements of emergency aid until negotiating a “new social contract” with its creditors, he said. He set an end-May deadline for reaching a deal on a revamped rescue with the euro area and the International Monetary Fund.

“For that period, we’re not going to ask for any more loans,” Varoufakis told reporters today in Paris after meeting French Finance Minister Michel Sapin. “During this period, it is perfectly possible in conjunction with the ECB to establish the liquidity provisions that are necessary.”

The danger for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who won power on Jan. 25 following pledges to undo more than four years of austerity tied to emergency aid, is that both the country’s banks and the government could be left without funding as soon as next month. Greece has until end-February to qualify for an aid payment of as much as 7 billion euros ($7.9 billion) and hasn’t indicated any willingness to seek an extension.

Letting the review lapse under Greece’s 240 billion-euro aid program could result in its banks effectively being excluded from ECB liquidity operations while the government is still shut out of international bond markets.

At the moment, Greece has a special dispensation from the ECB because the country is considered to be complying with the bailout pact. That means its debt can be used in central-bank refinancing operations even though it is rated junk.

Varoufakis, whose Paris visit was the first of a series of trips to European cities to press his case, said he intends travel to Frankfurt to seek support for Greek banks from the ECB while a political accord on an aid overhaul is negotiated with the euro area and the IMF. He’s scheduled to see British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in London tomorrow.

A revamped rescue for Greece, where unemployment is more than 25 percent, would address a “humanitarian crisis,” the need for investment and the country’s debt mountain of about 180 percent of gross domestic product, he said.

“What this government is all about is ending the addiction” to funds that are tied to demands for austerity, Varoufakis said. The government is willing to “go cold turkey for a while, while we’re deliberating,” he said.

At the same briefing, Sapin said France would be willing to offer Greece debt relief in the form of longer repayment periods and lower interest rates while rejecting a writedown that Tsipras has demanded. That position mirrors the euro area’s stance.

“Anything that can alleviate the Greek debt burden will be welcome … but of course there is no question of cancelling the Greek debt,» Sapin said.

He added that this would simply mean that instead of the Greek taxpayer it would be for the European or French taxpayer to foot the bill.

Sapin said he wants to facilitate a new deal for Greece with its official creditors after hearing the country’s plans for economic revival.

Sapin said that it’s “legitimate” for Greeks to be concerned about their debt burden and the country needs investment to generate economic growth after meeting the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, in Paris on Sunday.

Greece’s creditors should offer the country a “new contract,” Sapin said.

Varoufakis said that Greece wants its debt repayments to be tied to economic growth and appealed to the European Central Bank to keep funding the country’s lenders until an agreement is reached. Varoufakis said he’ll arrange a meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble within the next 24 hours and also plans to visit Frankfurt.

Varoufakis appointed Lazard Ltd. as adviser on issues related to public debt and fiscal management on Saturday.

“There is a range of possible solutions: extending the maturities, lowering interests rates, and the much more radical solution, the haircut,” Matthieu Pigasse, the head of Lazard’s Paris office who has advisedGreece in the past, said in a Jan. 30 interview on BFM Business television. “If we could cut the debt by 50 percent” he said, “it would allow Greece to return to a reasonable debt to GDP ratio.”

He said Greece’s debt to public creditors was about 200 billion euros.

source: ekathimerini.com

Obama says Greece needs growth, not more austerity

As representatives of the new Greek government begin a round of visits to eurozone countries, President Barack Obama has suggested that Greece will not be able to recover from its economic crisis unless there is a let up in austerity policies.

“You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression,” when CNN’s Fareed Zakaria asked him about the case of Greece. “At some point, there has to be a growth strategy in order to pay off their debts and eliminate some of their deficits.

“There is no doubt that the economy of Greece was in dire need of reform,” he said in the interview broadcast on Sunday. “Tax collection was famously terrible. In order for Greece to compete in the world markets, they had to initiate a series of changes.”

However, the US president underlined that it is very difficult to carry out reforms when a country’s economy has contracted dramatically. Greece saw almost a quarter of its GDP disappear between 2008 and 2014.

“It’s very hard to initiate those changes if people’s standards of living are dropping by 25 percent,” he said. “Over time, the political system and society cannot sustain it.”

Obama also made reference to the compromise that would be needed by the SYRIZA-led coalition and the eurozone to reach a deal that would keep Greece in the single currency.

“My hope is that Greece will remain in the eurozone,” he told CNN. “I think that will require compromise on all sides. When the financial crisis in Greece flared up a few years ago, we were very active in trying to arrive at some sort of accommodation. I think there’s recognition on the part of Germany and others that it would be better for Greece to stay in the eurozone than be outside of it and the markets will obviously be skittish about this.”

Obama suggested that the eurozone needed to do more to stimulate growth and repeated that country’s that have been through deep recessions, such as Greece, should be assisted.

“More broadly I’m concerned about growth in Europe. Fiscal prudence is important, structural reforms are necessary in many of these countries but what we’ve learnt in the US experience… is that the best way to reduce deficits and restore fiscal soundness is to grow,” he said.

“When you have an economy that is in freefall there has to be a growth strategy and not simply an effort to squeeze more and more out of a population that is hurting worse and worse”.

source: ekathimerini.com

Γερμανικός Τύπος: Έκτακτο σχέδιο στήριξης της Ελλάδας από την Κομισιόν

 

Γερμανικός Τύπος: Έκτακτο σχέδιο στήριξης της Ελλάδας από την Κομισιόν

Έκτακτο σχέδιο στήριξης της Ελλάδας φέρεται -σύμφωνα με δημοσιεύματα του γερμανικού Τύπου- να καταρτίζει η Κομισιόν. Κατά τις πληροφορίες, η στήριξη θα δοθεί έως το καλοκαίρι και θα έχει ως αντάλλαγμα δομικές μεταρρυθμίσεις. Παράλληλα, δημοσιεύματα θέλουν τον επικεφαλής της Κομισιόν Ζαν-Κλοντ Γιούνκερ να επιθυμεί την κατάργηση της τρόικας, κάτι με το οποίο φέρεται μάλλον να συμφωνεί και το Βερολίνο.

«Ο Γιούνκερ θέλει να καταργήσει την τρόικα» είναι τίτλος δημοσιεύματος στην ηλεκτρονική σελίδα της γερμανικής οικονομικής εφημερίδας «Handelsblatt», με τον υπέρτιτλο «Ελλάδα-Συμβιβασμός».

«Πρώτα οι Έλληνες προκάλεσαν εντός της εβδομάδας πολλή φασαρία. Το Σαββατοκύριακο τα μηνύματα από την Αθήνα έγιναν πιο συμφιλιωτικά. Και τώρα ο πρόεδρος της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής Γιούνκερ είναι έτοιμος για έναν συμβιβασμό. Και το Βερολίνο μάλλον ακολουθεί» αναφέρει το δημοσίευμα.

Σύμφωνα με πληροφορίες της εφημερίδας, ο κ. Γιούνκερ σχεδιάζει να καταργήσει την τρόικα της Ελλάδας και «αυτό το τρίο να μην ξαναπάει στην Αθήνα».

«Πρέπει τώρα να βρούμε γρήγορα μια εναλλακτική για αυτό», επισημαίνει η εφημερίδα ότι ειπώθηκε σε κύκλους της Κομισιόν. «Με αυτό ο Γιούνκερ συμφωνεί με ένα κεντρικό αίτημα του νέου έλληνα πρωθυπουργού», τονίζει ο συντάκτης και προσθέτει ότι και η γερμανική κυβέρνηση είναι κατ’ αρχήν πρόθυμη να συμφωνήσει σε μια μεταρρύθμιση της τρόικας.

«Θα μπορούσαμε να παραιτηθούμε από τις επισκέψεις ελέγχου στην Αθήνα, οι οποίες εκλαμβάνονται από τους Έλληνες, ως εξευτελιστικές και αντ’ αυτών να τεθούν στην Ελλάδα πλέον μόνο πιο γενικοί οικονομικοπολιτικοί στόχοι» αναφέρει η εφημερίδα πως είναι η άποψη σε κύκλους της γερμανικής κυβέρνησης.

Μια τέτοια παραχώρηση είναι δυνατή όμως μόνο εφόσον η νέα ελληνική κυβέρνηση αποδεχτεί την έως τώρα συμφωνηθείσα πορεία μεταρρυθμίσεων και λιτότητας, τονίζεται.

Ο κ. Γιούνκερ, σύμφωνα με την Handelsblatt, θέλει να στηρίξει τον κ. Τσίπρα και σε ένα άλλο σημείο: Ο επικεφαλής της Κομισιόν δείχνει κατανόηση στο ότι ο νέος έλληνας πρωθυπουργός θέλει να αυξήσει τον κατώτατο μισθό, επισημαίνει ο συντάκτης και διευκρινίζει ότι ο κ. Γιούνκερ παραμένει κατηγορηματικά αντίθετος στο ενδεχόμενο κουρέματος του ελληνικού χρέους.

Πηγή:in.gr

 

2015 Asian Cup: The crowning moments of a magical tournament

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The Socceroos’ victory in the Asian Cup was the final piece in a jigsaw puzzle that had already wowed and captivated millions across Australia, and many more overseas.

The vibrant and passionate support in the stands, the quality action on the pitch and the near faultless organisation all contributed to a magnificent tournament.

This Asian Cup was an undoubted success, and it is yet another milestone in Australia’s rich history of hosting sporting tournaments.

The FFA should be hailed for its success, as should the Australian public, including our many diverse cultural communities, for creating a platform for the following narratives.

The Postecoglou Generation has usurped the Golden Generation
For a few seconds, it felt like 1997 all over again. It had echoes of Italy in 2006, and Japan 2011 was looming in the not too distant background. The demons of Australian football’s past flashed in front of everyone’s eyes when Son Heung-min’s equaliser slipped under Mat Ryan.

Yet the fight of this team, and the fervent belief instilled in them by Ange Postecoglou, shone through. That fleeting moment of despair was banished forever as the Socceroos put in an inspiring extra 30 minutes.

How they found the additional energy is quite inspirational, and the Socceroos in reality shouldn’t have made it through extra time. Robbie Kruse went down with what could yet prove to be a sickening long-term injury, and Ivan Franjic, who had played every minute of the Asian Cup leading into the final, soon followed.

But this was a time for champions and Ange’s charges proved themselves more resolute and more worthy than any side before them. Forget the Golden Generation, this is the team that won when it counted most, and with it a deserved place in the history books.

Proving the football haters wrong
There were many detractors in Australia leading into the Asian Cup, too many to account for. There were the established journalists with love for other codes, the members of the public who saw it as a non-event and Eddie McGuire of course, who’s sucking those lemons now.

There was the Victorian government, who didn’t bid for a semi-final match because they feared the pull of the Australian Open would overshadow the match. Even the organisers set a slightly modest crowd target of 500,000.

The most fervent football fans would be lying if they said they held no lingering doubts leading into the tournament, both about crowds and the Socceroos’ chances of winning. But at least they were there from the start, hoping and dreaming of success.

The crowds and the team proved the major doubters wrong, especially those who believed it wouldn’t even register for a sporting public that had the tennis and cricket to entertain them. How wrong they were, football is coming.

The people didn’t just turn up, they flocked
The previously mentioned modest aggregate target of 500,000 was easily smashed, with about 650,000 rocking up to Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

The lowest attendance was for a dead rubber between Qatar and Bahrain (4841), and that match was held in Sydney, not in the predicted trouble regions of Canberra and Newcastle.

In fact, of the dead rubbers played in those two cities, Newcastle drew almost 7500 to Oman versus Kuwait, while Canberra managed a massive 18,457 between China and North Korea. Quite astonishing.

The original target of 500,000 was ticked off following the quarter-finals, and the overall figure could have almost reached the heights of the 690,000 that turned up to the 2007 edition if the Socceroos had qualified for the semi-final in Sydney.

Impressive figures elsewhere included the 5.3 million that tuned in to at least five minutes of the showpiece between Australia and South Korea on ABC. Three million were watching during the final minute of extra time.

Canberra in particular proved the doubters wrong, and the city has put itself on the FFA’s radar for expansion in the A-League.

Showing FIFA, and Qatar, who’s boss
There is little doubt that we have blown Qatar completely out of the desert in terms of on and off the field exploits in the Asian Cup. The 2015 tournament’s success in the stands and the faultless organisation (save for the Brisbane pitch) easily outrivals the Qataris’ efforts in 2011. They managed to pull a paltry 405,000, along with reports of ticket mismanagement.

Then the Socceroos went and won the competition, following a quarter-finals appearance in 2007 and ticket to the final in 2011. Qatar, after losing all three of their group games in Australia, have now failed to make it to the knockout rounds in three of five attempts since 2000.

There is little doubt they were one of the competition’s biggest disappointments this year, having been tipped by many experts as dark horses. For a nation that has never qualified for a World Cup, this was their first chance since gaining the rights for the 2022 edition to show they have a team worthy of playing against the best.

They failed, and while it’s never nice to revel in an opponent’s misery, it feels good given the acrimonious World Cup bid and the constant controversy over its legitimacy and viability. Australia has shown that it deserved the World Cup rights, and while Sepp Blatter was beautifully booed during the trophy presentation, I’m still blaming that cartoon kangaroo.

Renewed interest in the Asian Football Confederation
While Asian football has never been huge in Australia – indeed it’s never even been moderately popular – there is no doubt a few players left their mark on our sporting world.

Omar Abdulrahman, who had rights to challenge Massimo Luongo for player of the tournament if he’d made the final, was the highlight in the foreign department. His silky skills, deft touch and first-time balls were just magical.

Iraq’s Yaser Kasim was another standout, though Swindon Town supporters have been well aware of his abilities, and Luongo’s, for some time. China’s goalkeeper Wang Dalei was also impressive, and not just because he took advice from Brisbane ballboy Stephen White to save a penalty against Saudi Arabia.

Uzbekistan’s Sardor Rashidov, Iraq’s central defender Ahmad Ibrahim and Iran’s Sardar Azmoun were some of the other relatively unknown stars to make a lasting impression on the 2015 Asian Cup.

Hopefully this sparks more interest from A-League clubs in Asian talent, and Australian football fans in the Asian leagues. A stronger relationship with our AFC counterparts is beneficial for everyone.

A win for multiculturalism
Ange Postecoglou, the man who just delivered Australia its first success in a major men’s football tournament, arrived in this country thanks to a bloody boat. Many of the men, women and children who made the Asian Cup such a success in the stands arrived in similar circumstances from war-torn countries.

It’s a clear sign of what different cultures can achieve in Australia, and what they can contribute to our society. They’re not freeloaders, they’re not extremists and they aren’t here to destroy the English language and the Australian way of life.

While I’m hopefully preaching to the choir on The Roar, let’s hope many people’s views on immigration were challenged, and altered, following the scenes in the Asian Cup.

Chinese football could be ready to fulfil its potential
Since Australia joined the Asian Football Confederation, the superpowers have been Japan, South Korea and the Socceroos. Now the region’s sleeping dragon, China, look ready to challenge that triumvirate.

Three wins out of three group games, against quality opposition, was a big surprise for a team expected to have to fight for second spot in Group B. A win against Australia in the quarter-finals would have been huge, but there are enough signs for this nation that they can finally find some sustained progress, which has faltered since their foray into the World Cup in 2002.

Similarly, it’s a case of what now for Japanese football. A terrible World Cup campaign, where they were expected to at least make the knockout stages, and now a premature exit in a competition they have dominate over the last 25 years, signals something of a crisis for Samurai Blue.

Smells like team spirit
One of the most heartwarming images from the scenes of the Socceroos’ victory celebrations was when Robbie Kruse entered the field on crutches. It was about an hour after he’d left the pitch on a stretcher in tears, a forlorn figure with another long-term injury on the cards.

His teammates gathered to embrace him, and while it was clear he was struggling to come to terms with this latest setback, there was always a Roos player with an arm around him throughout the euphoria.

One of his best mates at club side Bayer Leverkusen, Son, was also there to lend his support, even while trying to shake off the disappointment of an Asian Cup final loss.

Kruse was sorely missed during the Brazil World Cup, and was instrumental for the Socceroos in this tournament. An Asian Cup winner’s medal is just reward after fighting back from an ACL injury and hopefully we see him back sooner rather than later.

source:theroar.com.au

Greece Asks ECB to Keep Banks Afloat as Debt Deal Sought

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras began the hunt for allies against German demands for austerity as his week-old government appealed to the European Central Bank not to shut off the money tap.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said his country won’t take any more aid under its existing bailout agreement and wants a new deal with its official creditors by the end of May. While Greece tries to wring concessions on its debt and spending plans, it needs the ECB’s help to keep its banks afloat, Varoufakis said at a briefing in Paris late Sunday.

“We’re not going to ask for any more loans,” Varoufakis said after meeting his French counterpart, Michel Sapin. “During this period, it is perfectly possible in conjunction with the ECB to establish the liquidity provisions that are necessary.”

Tsipras, who issued a statement Saturday promising to stick by Greece’s financial obligations, is seeking to repair damage after a rocky first week. Bond yields spiraled and banks stocks plummeted after German Chancellor Angela Merkel stonewalled his plans to ramp up spending and write down debt. The Greek leader visits Cyprus on Monday before trips to Rome, Paris and Brussels.

He’s not scheduled to see Merkel, the biggest contributor to Greece’s financial rescue, until a European Union summit on Feb. 12.

Merkel wants to avoid getting drawn into a direct confrontation with Tsipras and is unlikely to agree to a face-to-face meeting with him at next week’s gathering of leaders, according to a German government official who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

Merkel’s Aim

The chancellor’s goal is to show Tsipras that he is isolated, the official said. What’s more, she sees little margin for maneuver on the conditions of any further support for Greece and is skeptical about Tsipras’s claims that he can raise revenue by cutting corruption and increasing taxes on the rich, the official added.

“Europe will continue to show solidarity with Greece, as well as other countries particularly affected by the crisis, if these countries undertake their own reforms and savings efforts,” Merkel said in an interview with Hamburger Abendblatt published Saturday.

While euro-area officials want Greece to stick to the austerity demands of its existing bailout agreement, Tsipras is seeking a debt writedown so he can increase public spending.

The danger is that the Greek financial system is left without funding long before Tsipras’s May deadline for a deal.

At the moment, the country has a special dispensation from the ECB because it’s considered to be complying with the bailout program. That means its debt can be used in central bank refinancing operations even though it is rated junk.

‘No Surprises’

“There will be no surprises if we find out that a country is below that rating and there’s no longer a program that that waiver disappears,” ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio said at an event in Cambridge, England, on Saturday.

Greek bonds have tumbled since Tsipras’s Jan. 25 election victory. Ten-year yields posted their biggest weekly increase since May 2012 and bank stocks have dropped 38 percent.

The French government has so far offered the strongest encouragement to Greece.

“It’s legitimate for them to say we want to discuss how we can lower the weight of this debt,” Sapin said Sunday. “We can discuss, we can postpone, we can alleviate. But we won’t cancel it.”

Obama’s View

U.S. President Barack Obama weighed in, questioning demands further austerity. “You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression,” he said on CNN Sunday. “When you have an economy that is in freefall there has to be a growth strategy and not simply an effort to squeeze more and more out of a population that is hurting worse and worse.”

Tsipras meanwhile has already started to roll back the austerity program. He asked for the resignation of Emmanuel Kondylis, chairman of the fund overseeing the country’s privatization program, and Paschalis Bouhoris, its chief executive officer, a spokeswoman for the fund said late Friday.

The Greek Finance Ministry on Saturday hired Lazard Ltd. to advise on its debt strategy. Prior to the appointment, Matthieu Pigasse, the head of Lazard’s Paris office who has advised Greece in the past, said a 50 percent haircut would give Greece a “reasonable” debt burden.

“We need time to breathe and create our own medium-term recovery program,” Tsipras said in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg News on Saturday. “Despite the fact that there are differences in perspective, I am absolutely confident that we will soon manage to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, both for Greece and for Europe as a whole.”

source:bloomberg.com