Daily Archives: May 24, 2015

No Greek default but further Greek misery


The good news is that a Greek default will most likely be prevented, a deal will be reached with the country’s creditors and an extension will be granted for negotiations over the next bailout.

This is what has been decided by Angela Merkel, following pressure from Washington. The European Commission also played a pivotal role here, led by its president, Jean-Claude Juncker. The hard part will be implementation. To begin with, it will have to be accepted by certain powerful people and organizations that disagree with a “soft” agreement, chiefly German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and, to a lesser degree, the European Central Bank (ECB). The plan will work provided that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gets certain tax measures and a few other mini-reforms demanded by the institutions, through Parliament. Based on this scenario, we will get through the summer before crunch talks start in September.

The bad news is that European decision-makers are not afraid of the repercussions of a Greek accident. The IMF has said that this would be manageable, provided that the leading players are on the same page – which is already the case. The fear of a “revolutionary domino” effect, in other words, of the Greek model spreading to other European countries, is also non-existent. It was there in the past but no one takes it seriously any longer.

So why should our peers back us? While they don’t exactly pity us, they are concerned about Greece becoming a failed state. Those dealing with Greece in Washington, Brussels and Berlin believe that a bankruptcy, not to mention a Grexit, would completely destroy whatever is left of a dysfunctional state, such as security mechanisms and border controls. No one wants this, either because of Russia or because of the country’s location as a buffer with the Middle East.

So what will happen? Athens will agree to pseudo-reforms, Europe will accept them, these will never be implemented, we will get tiny cash injections and then we’ll wait and see. Behind this plan lies a profound lack of trust in Greece’s politicians and its so-called elite. They believe that no one is really championing reforms and society is unprepared for big changes. What they’re probably thinking is that they should just let Greece stay in the eurozone, barely surviving, sending a cash injection every now and then to keep us going and avoid even worse problems.

While this should come as a relief, it is also infuriating because I know what my country and its people are capable of when not dragging their feet in self-destructive introversion. I cannot bear the idea of Greece being treated as a small problematic state living on charity and fear. This is not to say that I would rather see Greece coming to a rift. There is another way and we Greeks will find it when the time comes.


Greece does not have the money to make June IMF repayment, warns interior minister


Greece cannot make debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month unless it achieves a deal with creditors, its interior minister said on Sunday, the most explicit remarks yet from Athens about the likelihood of default if talks fail.

Shut out of bond markets and with bailout aid locked, cash-strapped Athens has been scraping state coffers to meet debt obligations and to pay wages and pensions.

After four months of talks with its eurozone partners and the IMF, the country’s leftist-led government is still scrambling for a deal that could release up to 7.2 billion euros ($7.9 billion) in remaining aid to avert bankruptcy.

“The four installments for the IMF in June are 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion). This money will not be given and is not there to be given,” Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis told Greek Mega TV’s weekend show.

Asked about his concern over a credit event if Athens misses a payment, he said: “We are not seeking this, we don’t want it, it is not our strategy. Things have matured for a deal of logic.”

“We are discussing, based on our contained optimism, that there will be a strong agreement (with lenders) so that the country will be able to breathe. This is the bet,” Voutsis said.


Greeks back government’s red lines, but want to keep euro


Cash-strapped Greeks remain supportive of the leftist government’s tough negotiating style, according to a new poll published Sunday, but hope for a deal with creditors that will keep the euro in their wallets.

The poll conducted in May by Public Issue for the pro-government newspaper Avgi, shows 54 percent backing the SYRIZA-led government’s handling of the negotiations despite the tension with Greece’s international lenders.

A total 59 percent believe Athens must not give in to demands by its creditors, with 89 percent against pension cuts and 81 percent against mass lay-offs.

The SYRIZA-led government is locked in talks with the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to release a blocked final 7.2-billion-euro ($7.9 billon) tranche of its 240-billion-euro bailout.

In exchange for the aid, creditors are demanding Greece accept tough reforms and spending cuts that anti-austerity Syriza pledged to reject when it was elected in January.

According to reports, creditors are demanding further budget cuts worth 5 billion euros including pension cuts and mass lay-offs.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made clear on Saturday however that his government “won’t budge to irrational demands” that involve crossing Syriza’s campaign “red lines”.

Greece faces a series of debt repayments beginning next month seen as all but impossible to meet without the blocked bailout funds. Failure to honour those payments could result in default, raising the spectre of a possible exit from the euro.

That is a scenario Greeks hope to avert, with 71 percent of those polled wanting to keep the euro while 68 percent said a return to the drachma could worsen the economic situation.


Eurovision Song Contest: Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow wins


Swedish singer Mans Zelmerlow has triumphed at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna, beating Russia’s Polina Gagarina.

Zelmerlow won with his upbeat pop track Heroes, which was accompanied by innovative animated visuals.

Italy were third, followed by Belgium. Australia finished fifth in the country’s first Eurovision appearance.

The UK’s 1920s-influenced swing act Electro Velvet finished 24th out of the 27 participants with five points.

A record number of countries took part, including Australia – which was invited to compete for the first time to mark the event’s 60th anniversary.

The top of the leaderboard:

  • 1. Sweden. Mans Zelmerlow – Heroes. 365 points
  • 2. Russia. Polina Gagarina – A Million Voices. 303
  • 3. Italy. Il Volo – Grande Amore. 292
  • 4. Belgium. Loic Nottet – Rhythm Inside. 217
  • 5. Australia. Guy Sebastian – Tonight Again. 196

Electro Velvet said: “Obviously it is disappointing to finish on the right hand side of the board, but we have had the most amazing, brilliant, unforgettable time being part of this unique competition in this special year.

“We put our hearts and souls into representing our country and would like to thank everyone back at home and around the world that got behind us.

“It really means a lot and of course we also want to congratulate Sweden and Mans Zelmerlow on their well-deserved victory.”

Zelmerlow was the bookmakers’ favourite throughout the build-up to this year’s contest.

“I’m so happy and I want to say thank you for voting for me,” he told the crowd. “I want to say we are all Heroes, no matter who we love, who we are or what we believe in – we are all heroes.”

It was Sweden’s sixth Eurovision win – meaning they are now just one victory behind the contest’s record holders Ireland, who have won seven times.

The result also means the annual extravaganza will be held in Sweden next year – just three years after it last hosted the show.

This year’s contest was held in the Austrian capital’s Wiener Stadthalle following Conchita Wurst’s win last year.

But this year, the hosts, along with Germany, finished with zero points – the first time since 2003 that any country has drawn a blank.

Russian contestant Gagarina was beaten by Zelmerlow after being neck-and-neck for much of the voting.

Italian pop opera trio Il Volo, who have enjoyed chart success around the world, finished third. Belgium’s 19-year-old Loic Nottet managed fourth.

And it was a respectable night for Guy Sebastian, one of Australia’s biggest pop stars, who came fifth after being sent to represent his country.

After the show, Eurovision organisers revealed there had been irregularities with the votes from the juries in Macedonia and Montenegro.

The points awarded by each country are normally determined by a combination of a jury and a public vote.

A statement said: “The jury results of FYR Macedonia and Montenegro for the grand final have been excluded after consultation of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the contest’s independent voting observer, and upon the decision of the executive supervisor and the chairman of the reference group.

“In both countries, televoting applied for 100%. The exclusion of two juries will be further discussed in the next reference group meeting in June.”

Around 200 million viewers were thought to have tuned in to the event on television, and it was screened live in China for the first time.


Η Σουηδία νικήτρια της 60ής Eurovision, στην 19η θέση η Ελλάδα


Η Σουηδία και ο Μανς Ζελμερλέ με το τραγούδι Heroes αναδείχθηκαν νικητές του 60ού διαγωνισμού της Eurovision που πραγματοποιήθηκε στην Αυστρία.

Η Ελλάδα πραγματοποίησε εντυπωσιακή εμφάνιση με την Μαρία Έλενα Κυριάκου, αλλά δεν κατάφερε να φτάσει παραπάνω από την 19η θέση.

Η Κύπρος με τον Γιάννη Καραγιάννη και το One thing I should have done έμεινε στην 22η θέση.

Ο ανταγωνισμός Δύσης – Ρωσίας έκανε την εμφάνισή του και στη Eurovision, με τη ρωσίδα τραγουδίστρια να ακούει ακόμα και αποδοκιμασίες.

Ο Μανς Ζέλμερλοου και η ομάδα του παρουσίασαν ένα εξαιρετικό βίντεο με εφέ που εντυπωσίασε το κοινό της Eurovision.

Μετά τη νίκη του, ο νεαρός τραγουδιστής δήλωσε: «Δεν έχει σημασία ποιον αγαπάμε ή σε τι πιστεύουμε, είμαστε όλοι ήρωες».

Η πρώτη δεκάδα

1. Σουηδία (συγκέντρωσε 365 βαθμούς)
2. Ρωσία (δεύτερη με 303 βαθμούς)
3. Ιταλία (τρίτη με 292 βαθμούς)
4. Βέλγιο
5. Αυστραλία (τιμητική συμμετοχή για τα 60 χρόνια του διαγωνισμού)
6. Λετονία
7. Εσθονία
8. Νορβηγία
9. Ισραήλ
10. Σερβία

Ο τελικός ξεκίνησε με τη Φιλαρμονική Ορχήστρα της Βιέννης.

Στον τελικό έλαβαν μέρος συνολικά 27 χώρες. Οι 20 αναδείχθηκαν από τους δύο ημιτελικούς, ενώ οι υπόλοιπες επτά (Γαλλία, Γερμανία, Ιταλία, Ισπανία, Βρετανία, η διοργανώτρια Αυστρία, καθώς και η Αυστραλία που φέτος συμμετέχει τιμητικά) πέρασαν απευθείας στον τελικό.

To hashtag του διαγωνισμού στην Ελλάδα ήταν #eurovisiongr, ενώ το γενικό hashtag είναι #eurovision. Το δεύτερο έγινε γρήγορα trending topic στο Twitter.

Ο επίσημος λογαριασμός της Eurovision ανακοίνωσε ότι φέτος πραγματοποιήθηκαν 6 εκατομμύρια tweet σε σχέση με τον τελικό, ένα εκατομμύριο περισσότερα σε σχέση με το 2014.

Η Ελλάδα έδωσε το 10άρι της στην Κύπρο, ενώ 12 βαθμούς έδωσε η Ελλάδα στην Ιταλία. Δέκα βαθμούς έδωσε η Αλβανία στην Ελλάδα, ενώ η Κύπρος της έδωσε 8.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras must choose between Grexit or political mutiny


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras now faces an invidious choice: either he agrees to unpopular austerity measures and risks sparking a mutiny within his radical leftist Syriza party, or else he risks plunging the country into a deep economic crisis by leaving the euro zone.

Until last week, Tsipras was hopeful that European magnanimity – no doubt fuelled by Brussels’ anxiety as to the potentially dire consequences of a Greek exit from the euro zone, or “Grexit” – might allow Greece to receive much-needed aid money without the need to enact painful reforms.

But these hopes were dashed in Riga on Thursday night when German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, emphasised to Tsipras that Greece would have to agree policy measures that meet with the approval of the more hardline International Monetary Fund before it can unlock the €7.2 billion ($10.1 billion) that remains under its bailout program.

Tsipras’ anger was palpable in a speech he made to Syriza’s central committee at the weekend, in which he promised that his government would not accept “humiliating terms”.

“The overwhelming majority of Greek people want a solution and not just an agreement,” he fulminated, promising that Athens would not yield to “irrational demands” for pension and labour market reforms.

Short of money

But Tsipras has little time for such posturing because the country is running perilously short of money, with fears that it will be forced to default if it is unable to find the €1.5 billion it is due to repay the IMF by mid-June.

The problem is that although Tsipras is seen as sufficiently pragmatic and pro-European to appreciate the need for further compromise, any deal he reached with Brussels would need approval from Greece’s Parliament. And there’s no guarantee that Syriza’s 149 MPs – let alone the 13 MPs from its coalition partner, the right-wing populist Anel party – would fall into line.

Already, dissent within Syriza is becoming more vocal.

“The mandate that we received was to carry through our program. And not to stay within the euro zone regardless of the cost,” Syriza MP Costas Lapavitsas​ argued on the Greek television network Star earlier this month.

Syriza’s radical “Left Platform” faction, which represents about a third of the party, is also likely to mutiny at any cash-for-reforms deal. The faction’s leader, the popular Panagiotis Lafanzis, believes that Syriza should relinquish power if it is unable to reach secure a deal that does not entail austerity.

“There is nothing more repulsive or alien to me than the idea of power for power’s sake,” he told the Greek newspaper Kathimerini earlier this month. “If we cannot succeed, the best thing we can do is hand over the baton.”

But, he added, “we can, and will, succeed by showing determination, courage and dedication to our principles”.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott rules out same-sex marriage referendum

Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The Prime Minister has ruled out putting the issue of marriage equality to a referendum, saying it’s a matter for the federal parliament.

Visiting Brisbane on Sunday, Tony Abbott was asked whether it was time to let the public have their say on same-sex marriage, following the success of the yes vote in Ireland.

Mr Abbott said he took the issue seriously, saying there were “good people” on either side.

Tony Abbott during his visit to Brisbane.Tony Abbott during his visit to Brisbane. Photo: supplied

“There are a range of views inside the parliament, there are a range of views inside my party room, frankly there are a range of views inside my family,” he told reporters.

“Inside the Abbott family I’m probably the last holdout for the traditional position.”

Mr Abbott’s sister Christine Forster is a lesbian who has been with her partner Virginia Edwards since 2003.

While dining at a coffee shop in Brisbane Mr Abbott said his focus was on budget bills.While dining at a coffee shop in Brisbane Mr Abbott said his focus was on budget bills. Photo: supplied

The Prime Minister said a referendum was only held in Australia when there was a proposal to change the constitution.

“I don’t think anyone’s suggesting the constitution needs to be changed in this respect,” he said.

“Under the constitution, questions of marriage are the reserve of the commonwealth parliament… plainly this is a matter that could come before the commonwealth parliament if members of parliament wanted it to be raised.”

Mr Abbott said same sex marriage was “dealt with” when it came before the parliament under the Gillard government.

Libertarian senator David Leyonhelm has been pushing for the the Liberal party to allow a free vote on the issue, having introduced his own “Freedom to Marry” bill earlier this year.

Mr Abbott said there was scope for a free vote should the matter be raised again.

However, during his visit to Clayfield coffee shop Dolci Sapori, he said his focus in the next two weeks of parliament would be pushing through budget bills and promoting the benefits for small business, including the $20,000 immediate tax deduction.

Curiously, Mr Abbott did not use the phrase same sex marriage or marriage equality during his media conference, referring only to it as “this issue”.

“Not for a second do I want to underestimate the feelings people have on this issue, both for and against,” he said.

“But my priority as Prime Minister and the government’s priority in the coming fortnight is to give the small businesses of Australia the confidence boost they deserve.”


Hamilton Olympic on fire at Weston Workers, 3-1


Hamilton Olympic reached the top of the ladder after an emphatic win at Weston Workers this afternoon by 3-1.

Olympic hit the lead after 20 minutes of play through Jacob Bailey but just as they threatened to make it 2-0, Weston Workers managed to equalise just before the break.

Early in the second half Olympic won a penalty but Kane Goodchild was unable to convert the spot kick.

Olympic then piled on the pressure to score two wonderful headers through Kane Goodchild. Despite sustained pressure from Weston towards the later part of the game, Olympic were able to hold on to the score comfortably.

The win is the second away victory of the season and brings the club 1st spot on the table with 15 points.

Hamilton Olympic host bottom of the table  Charlestown City next Sunday at Darling St Oval.
Round 7:
Newcastle Jets Youth – Broadmeadow Magic (washed out)
Lambton Jaffas FC – Adamstown Rosebud 1-1
Maitland FC – Charlestown City 3-0
Weston Workers FC – Hamilton Olympic FC 1-3
South Cardiff – Edgeworth FC  1-3

1 Hamilton Olympic FC           15                                                                                         2 Edgeworth FC                         15
3 Broadmeadow Magic FC      14
4 Weston Workers FC              13

5 Newcastle Jets Youth            10
6 Lambton Jaffas FC                  9
7 Adamstown Rosebud FC        6
8 South Cardiff FC                      5
9 Maitland FC                             4
10 Charlestown City FC            3

Round 8 Fixtures:
2:30 PM/Saturday 30 May:

Adamstown Rosebuds vs South Cardiff
Lambton Jaffas vs Maitland FC
Edgeworth FC vs Newcasyle Jets Youth

2:30 PM/Sunday 31 May:
Hamilton Olympic FC vs Charlestown City
Broadmeadow Magic – Weston Workers


Γερμανία: 65χρονη γίνεται μητέρα τετράδυμων

Γερμανία: 65χρονη γίνεται μητέρα τετράδυμων

Μια 65χρονη Γερμανίδα γέννησε τετράδυμα σε νοσοκομείο του Βερολίνου, μετέδωσε το τηλεοπτικό δίκτυο RTL στη Γερμανία.

H Ανεγκρέτ Ράουνινγκ υπεβλήθη σε τεχνητή γονιμοποίηση και έγινε μητέρα για 17η φορά, καθώς έχει ήδη 13 παιδιά.

Τα μωρά, τρία αγόρια και ένα κορίτσι, γεννήθηκαν πρόωρα στην 26η εβδομάδα της εγκυμοσύνης και βρίσκονται σε θερμοκοιτίδες, όμως έχουν «καλές πιθανότητες επιβίωσης», ανέφερε το τηλεοπτικό δίκτυο.

Η Ράουνινγκ, η οποία πλησιάζει στη σύνταξη, είναι πλέον η μεγαλύτερη σε ηλικία μητέρα τετράδυμων, σύμφωνα με το RTL.

Η 65χρονη Ανεγκρέτ Ράουνιγκ, καθηγήτρια αγγλικών και ρωσικών, εκτός από μητέρα 13 παιδιών είναι και γιαγιά 7 εγγονιών.

Η γυναίκα, η οποία μεγαλώνει μόνη της τα παιδιά της αποφάσισε να μείνει πάλι έγκυος, όταν η μικρότερη κόρη της που είναι δέκα ετών της ζήτησε ένα αδελφάκι.

Προκειμένου να μείνει και πάλι έγκυος υποβλήθηκε σε πολλές θεραπείες τεχνητής γονιμοποίησης στην Ουκρανία, η τελευταία από τις οποίες στέφθηκε με επιτυχία.

Η περίπτωσή της προκάλεσε έντονες συζητήσεις στη Γερμανία, αναφέρει ο ανταποκριτής του BBC.

Η ίδια δήλωσε ότι πιστεύει πως όλοι πρέπει να ζουν τη ζωή που επιθυμούν να ζήσουν. Ερωτηθείσα εάν έχει ανησυχίες, η Ανεγκρέτ Ράουνινγκ είχε πει ότι πιστεύει ότι θα είναι υγιής και ότι δεν ανησυχεί για το τι σκέφτεται ο κόσμος.

Η γερμανίδα δασκάλα δεν κατέχει το ρεκόρ της μεγαλύτερης σε ηλικίας γυναίκας που γέννησε παιδί. Σύμφωνα με τα επίσημα στοιχεία, αυτό το ρεκόρ το κατέχει η Μαρία ντελ Κάρμεν Μπουσάντα Λάρα που γέννησε δίδυμα στην Ισπανία το 2006, σε ηλικία 66 ετών.


Η Γαλλία απαγορεύει στα σουπερμάρκετ να πετούν φαγητό

Η Γαλλία απαγορεύει στα σουπερμάρκετ να πετούν φαγητό

Ορισμένα γαλλικά σουπερμάρκετ ρίχνουν χλωρίνη μέσα στους κάδους σκουπιδιών όπου ρίχνουν τα περίσσια τρόφιμα -εικόνα αρχείου

Στο πλαίσιο της προσπάθειας για μείωση της σπατάλης τροφίμων, το γαλλικό κοινοβούλιο ψήφισε ομόφωνα να απαγορευτεί στα μεγάλα σουπερμάρκετ να καταστρέφουν ασφαλή τρόφιμα, και τα υποχρεώνει να δωρίζουν το περίσσευμα σε φιλανθρωπικές οργανώσεις ή να το στέλνουν σε παραγωγούς ζωοτροφών.

Τον περασμένο Φεβρουάριο, η Γαλλία κατάργησε τις ημερομηνίες «κατά προτίμηση έως» σε φρέσκα τρόφιμα, καθώς πολλοί καταναλωτές συγχέουν τη σήμανση αυτή με τις ημερομηνίες λήξεις.

Τον περασμένο μήνα, αναφέρει το Γαλλικό Πρακτορείο Ειδήσεων, βουλευτές πρότειναν ακόμα 39 μέτρα κατά της σπατάλης τροφίμων, ανάμεσά τους η προώθηση της σακούλας για τους σκύλους (“le doggy bag”) για τα περισσεύματα στα εστιατόρια.

Σε παγκόσμιο επίπεδο, το ένα τρίτο έως το ένα δεύτερο της παραγωγής τροφίμων καταλήγει σε χωματερές, μια σπατάλη ύψους 570 δισεκατομμυρίων δολαρίων το χρόνο σύμφωνα με τον ΟΗΕ.

Η νέα νομοθεσία που ψηφίστηκε την Πέμπτη απαγορεύει την καταστροφή τροφίμων στα σουπερμάρκετ με επιφάνεια άνω των 400 τετραγωνικών μέτρων. Μέχρι τον Ιούλιο του 2015, τα σουπερμάρκετ αυτά πρέπει να έχουν υπογράψει συμβόλαια για τη διάθεση του περισσεύματος σε φιλανθρωπικές οργανώσεις ή σε παραγωγούς ζωοτροφών και οργανικού κομπόστ. Σε περίπτωση μη συμμόρφωσης, οι υπεύθυνοι θα τιμωρούνται με πρόστιμα έως 75.000 ευρώ ή ποινή φυλάκισης ς μέχρι δύο ετών.

«Είναι σκανδαλώδες να βλέπει κανείς να ρίχνουν χλωρίνη σε κάδους των σουπερμάρκετ με πεταμένο φαγητό» σχολίασε ο Σοσιαλιστής βουλευτής Γκιγιόμ Γκαρό, εισηγητής της νέας νομοθεσίας. Αναφερόταν στην πρακτική ορισμένων καταστημάτων να καταστρέφουν εσκεμμένα τα τρόφιμα ώστε να μην συλλέγονται από τους κάδους σκουπιδιών.

Το νέο μέτρο εντάσσεται στο πλαίσιο της ευρύτερης προσπάθειας για μείωση τη σπατάλης τροφίμων στη Γαλλία κατά το ήμισυ έως το 2025. Σύμφωνα με στοιχεία της κυβέρνησης, ο μέσος Γάλλος πετά 20-30 κιλά τροφίμων το χρόνο, με συνολική ζημία έως και 20 δισ. ευρώ το χρόνο.

Η Γαλλική Ομοσπονδία Εμπορίου και Διανομής επέκρινε πάντως το νέο μέτρο, υποστηρίζοντας ότι τα μεγάλα καταστήματα αντιστοιχούν μόλις στο 5% της σπατάλης τροφίμων.