Daily Archives: June 5, 2015

MasterChef Australia:Anna Polyviou’s elimination challenge


Anna Polyviou at the Masterchef kitchen.

Shangri-la Hotel’s executive pastry chef punks the MasterChef Australia contestants with the country’s best dessert.

Dubbed the ‘punk princess of pastry’, Melbourne-born chef Anna Polyviou made her debut on MasterChef last Monday.

The 36-year-old was in charge of the most difficult and stressful elimination challenge Channel 10 has featured so far.

Polyviou had the three contestants try to remake her award-winning carrot cake, which took her own team of 10 professional pastry chefs more than 30 attempts to perfect.

The recipe was a 12 element, 40 step, three-hour-long kitchen ordeal for MasterChef gals Rose Adam, Jacqui Ackland and Fiona Grindlay.

George Calombaris’ former apprentice, who returned after she won herself a scholarship to London before heading to Paris to train with renowned chocolatier Pierre Herme, introduced the perfect pressure tests.

Fiona was the one sent home on the night, but Anna Polyviou will be coming back for some more bitter-sweet challenges.

source:neos kosmos

IMF payment missed as debt crisis deepens


Brinkmanship in Brussels: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. Photo: EPA/Yannis Kolesidis.

The Tsipras government has told the International Monetary Fund that it will delay the first of four debt repayments due in June.

The €300m payment is due today and Athens will now have to pay €1.5 billion ($2.2 billion) in total by 30 June – the date on which its bailout deal with the EU and IMF runs out.

Greece is trying to reach a deal to unlock the final tranche of bailout funds worth €7.2 billion ($10.5 billion), but the IMF, European Union and European Central Bank say significant differences remain between the two sides.

An IMF spokesman said that under a precedent dating back to the 1970s, governments could ask to amalgamate “multiple principal payments falling due in a calendar month … to address the administrative difficulty of making multiple payments in a short period”.

The last country to bundle together IMF debt repayments was Zambia in the 1980s.

After talks in Brussels this week Prime Minister Tsipras reiterated that an agreement with Greece’s international creditors was “in sight”.

However, head of the eurozone’s finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem described the gap as being “still quite large”.

Tsipras rejected proposals put forward this week by Greece’s creditors in talks with Mr Dijsselbloem and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

The key sticking point relates to ‘primary budget surpluses’ – the amount by which tax revenues exceed public spending. Athens wants lower primary budget surplus targets.

International creditors have asked for pension cuts, a reduced civil service, VAT reform, fewer tax rebates and more private sector investment.

The Syriza leader described such actions as “points that no-one would consider as a base for discussion.”

Greece has presented a 47-page plan on how to overhaul its economy without resorting to harsh austerity measures. Tsipras has said that Greece’s reform proposals “remain the only realistic plan on the table.”

Any eventual deal between the creditors and the government would have to be approved by the Greek parliament, and could even be derailed by Syriza’s radical left wing.

Tsipras is under pressure to reject any plan that would deliver public service cuts and further tax hikes, with some Syriza officials saying they would rather hold snap elections than be forced to deliver more austerity measures.

As the postponement of the IMF repayment was announced, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis took to twitter, inviting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Greece to deliver a message of hope.

“She could use the opportunity to hint at a new approach to European integration, one that starts in the country that has suffered the most, a victim of both the eurozone’s monetary design and of its society’s own failings,” he wrote.

“Hope was a force for good in post-war Europe, and it can be a force for positive transformation now.”

source:neos kosmos

Australia opens investigation into 2022 World Cup bid

Australia opens investigation into 2022 World Cup bid

Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy (left) submitting his country’s official bid book for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Photo: Reuters

SYDNEY — The Australian police said yesterday that they are investigating corruption claims surrounding Australia’s failed bid for the 2022 World Cup, which involve former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago.

Senator Nick Xenophon was among those who asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate the claims after Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy defended his group’s payment of A$500,000 (S$521,200) to the CONCACAF regional football federation in North America, an amount Lowy said on Wednesday was “misappropriated” by then CONCACAF president Warner.

Warner was among 14 key football figures charged with corruption by United States authorities last week.

Australia spent about US$40 million attempting to win hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup, but received just one vote when Qatar secured the rights in December 2010.

“We ran a clean bid,” Lowy said in an open letter on Wednesday following the announced resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter. “I know that others did not, and I have shared what I know with the authorities, including Michael Garcia who undertook a two-year investigation into the 2022 World Cup bid.”

He defended the US$500,000 payment made by Australia to CONCACAF during the bidding process, ostensibly for the funding of a feasibility study into a Centre of Excellence in Trinidad and Tobago.

Lowy said subsequent inquiries “found Jack Warner had committed fraud and misappropriated the funds” and said Australia only agreed to a smaller payment rather than the US$4 million that was requested.

“We asked CONCACAF to give us our money back because it wasn’t used for the purpose we intended, and were advised by FIFA to wait until the inquiries were complete,” Lowy said. “Those inquiries are still ongoing.”

On Wednesday, Warner made a televised address saying he would prove a link between FIFA and his nation’s elections in 2010. “I will no longer keep secrets for them who actively seek to destroy the country,” he said. “The die is cast. There can be no turning back. Let the chips fall where they fall.” AP


FIFA boss Sepp Blatter’s investment portfolio curiously empty

Evidence of ex- FIFA Chief Sep Blatter's personal property cache is one of the hardest to uncover.

Evidence of ex- FIFA Chief Sep Blatter’s personal property cache is one of the hardest to uncover.

New York apartments for pussy cats, waterfront Miami boltholes and diamond-studded luxury cars – enter the murky, flashy world of soccer’s kingpins.

Hand-in-hand with professional sport and fat salaries is sex, power and, often, prestige real estate.

In the case of the FIFA corruption scandal, a bulging portfolio of huge mansions, from Florida to Costa Rica, are allegedly linked to finance connected to the FBI’s probe.

But when it comes to Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president who has quit amid the bribery bombshell, his personal portfolio seems curiously empty.

World football’s ex-chief is only rumoured own a 30-bedroom mansion in his home country of Switzerland and to be chauffeured in a diamond encrusted Bentley.

But of all the world’s high-profile sports administrators, evidence of Blatter’s personal property cache is one of the hardest to uncover.

Swiss media reports that he bunkers down in a one-bedroom apartment in Zurich, just three minutes from the FIFA head offices.

Of all the executives entangled in the FBI probe, it’s former American FIFA bigwig turned FBI informant Chuck Blazer who lived the largest.

Blatter is rumoured to be driven around in a diamond encrusted Bentley.

Blatter is rumoured to be driven around in a diamond encrusted Bentley. Photo: Nick Dimbleby


He allegedly enjoyed island getaways, celebrity company and private jets.

But it’s how he lavished luxury on his pets that points to the depth of his wealth and which, a US newspaper alleged following an investigation, he long enjoyed with impunity.

Blazer’s cats got the cream, living in a $6000-a-month apartment, with views of Central Park, in Donald Trump’s flash Trump Tower in New York.

FIFA bigwig turned informant, Chuck Blazer reportedly rented out an apartment in Trump Tower, New York City just for his cats.

FIFA bigwig turned informant, Chuck Blazer reportedly rented out an apartment in Trump Tower, New York City just for his cats. Photo: Sasha Woolle


Blazer is understood to have rented the neighbouring $18,000-a-month apartment, while his felines had the run of their own pad on the 49th floor.

The vice-president of FIFA Jeffrey Webb, US prosecutors allege, used illicit funds to buy a palatial plantation-style manor with six bedrooms in Georgia.

It is one of several properties owned by Mr Webb mentioned in the indictment, which claims a wire transfer made to him – used to finance a new pool at the Georgia home – was from an American sports marketing firm which was chasing a lucrative commercial rights deal with FIFA.

Late last week The Telegraph covered the extensive property empire which the allegedly corrupt FIFA officials had amassed over time.

US officials claim more than a dozen homes were purchased or obtained illegally, with some registered to offshore companies.

Authorities suspect the properties, including a plush Miami condo, are connected to money mixed up in the FIFA bribery enquiry.

US authorities have charged 18 officials following a four-year investigation into bribes linked to World Cup votes, tournaments sponsorship contracts and television rights.


Manchester United target Gareth Bale stuns Real Madrid with controversial demand

gareth bale

GETTYGareth Bale apparently wants to play as a left-winger for Real Madrid

GARETH BALE has told Real Madrid to play him in Cristiano Ronaldo’s position, according to reports in Spain.
The forward joined the La Liga giants in 2013 from Tottenham for a world record transfer fee of £85million, £5m more than Ronaldo’s move from Manchester United in 2009.

Bale’s first year in the capital was a hit, with the Welshman scoring 22 goals in 44 appearances and winning both the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

However, fans and pundits alike were quick to lay the blame at Bale’s feet for Real’s failures this season, with speculation linking him with a summer switch to Manchester United as a result.

And Spanish paper Marca claims that Bale has now told the club that he wants to be deployed as a left-winger, the position in which he made his mark at Spurs, after spending almost all of his time at the Santiago Bernabeu on the opposite flank.

Unfortunately for Bale, Ronaldo currently occupies his preferred side, and it is added that the Portugal international refuses to play through the middle.



Liverpool FC mainstay threatens Anfield exit after ‘unacceptable’ contract offer

Martin Skrtel has cast doubt over his Liverpool future after revealing he rejected an ‘unacceptable’ contract offer.

Skrtel rose to prominence during the infancy of Brendan Rodgers’ tenure and went on to become an automatic choice in the Reds’ starting line-up.

But with a year remaining on his existing deal at Anfield, the Slovakian has broken his silence on the impasse in negotiations after turning down the offer of a new deal.

“It’s unacceptable for me,” he told Akulne.

“think that contracts like this offered to players who are much older than me or the player who had some health problems.

“The contract which has been offered to me is unacceptable, so I did not sign it. I have one year left and there has been some speculation about the interest from other clubs.

“We will see what happens.”


Ο Ολυμπιακός ανακοίνωσε την απόκτηση του Μιλιβόγεβιτς

Ο Ολυμπιακός ανακοίνωσε την απόκτηση του Μιλιβόγεβιτς

Τη φανέλα του Ολυμπιακού θα φορά σε… μόνιμη βάση πλέον, ο Λούκα Μιλιβόγεβιτς. Ο Σέρβος μέσος που αγωνιζόταν ως δανεικός από την Αντερλεχτ στη σεζόν που ολοκληρώθηκε, αποκτήθηκε με μεταγραφή από τους πρωταθλητές Ελλάδας.

Την είδηση ανακοίνωσε πρώτος ο σύλλογος των Βρυξελλών: «Ο Λούκα Μιλιβόγεβιτς οριστικά στον Ολυμπιακό. Σήμερα, η Άντερλεχτ και ο Ολυμπιακός Πειραιώς έφτασαν σε συμφωνία για την οριστική μεταγραφή του μέσου Λούκα Μιλιβόγεβιτς. Ευχόμαστε κάθε επιτυχία στον Λούκα Μιλιβόγεβιτς για αυτή τη μεταγραφή».

Λίγο αργότερα, ακολούθησε η λιτή ανακοίνωση των «ερυθρολεύκων»: «Η ΠΑΕ Ολυμπιακός ανακοινώνει την απόκτηση του ποδοσφαιριστή Λούκα Μιλιβόγεβιτς από την Άντερλεχτ».

«Ανυπομονώ για τις νέες προκλήσεις»

Ο Λούκα Μιλιβόγεβιτς λίγο μετά την ανακοίνωση της είδησης πως θα συνεχίσει να αγωνίζεται με την φανέλα του Ολυμπιακού για τα επόμενα τέσσερα χρόνια, αφού οι «ερυθρόλευκοι» τα βρήκαν σε όλα με την Άντερλεχτ, δήλωσε σχετικά στην επίσημη ιστοσελίδα των Πειραιωτών: «Είμαι χαρούμενος που θα συνεχίσω και τα επόμενα χρόνια να ”μάχομαι” φορώντας την αγαπημένη μου ερυθρόλευκη φανέλα!

Νιώθω ενθουσιασμένος που έχω τη δυνατότητα να αγωνίζομαι για έναν σύλλογο υψηλού επιπέδου, όπως ο Ολυμπιακός και να τα δίνω όλα σε κάθε ματς. Ανυπομονώ για τις νέες προκλήσεις που θα συναντήσουμε με τον Θρύλο»!


Golden Dawn trial set to resume on June 8, at Korydallos

The trial of Golden Dawn leaders and members was adjourned yet again Thursday and is to resume on Monday at a specially designed courtroom at Attica’s high-security Korydallos Prison despite objections by local authorities and residents to the choice of venue.

As with all the sessions since the trial opened on April 20, lawmakers of the neofascist party were conspicuous by their absence from court Thursday. Defense lawyers representing the MPs and dozens of party supporters and members asked that alleged victims of GD should not be allowed to appear in court as civil claimants.

In what appeared to be a symbolic move, judges allowed the mother and sister of Pavlos Fyssas, a leftist rapper murdered in 2013 by a self-professed Golden Dawn supporter, to address the court as civil claimants. It remained unclear when the court would rule on the defense lawyers’ request.

Local authorities and residents have lobbied for the landmark trial to be moved to another venue but the government has said this cannot be done until September, by which time a space is to have been designated at the Athens Appeals Court.

The presiding judge, Maria Lepeniotou, said Thursday that the trial would continue at Korydallos Prison until further notice, adding that she had asked the leadership of the Greek Police to increase security.


Athens, Skopje to work on improving trust

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias (left) welcomes Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Fatmir Besimi of FYROM.

 A Greek Foreign Ministry official will travel to Skopje in the next few days to discuss confidence-building measures with the government in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias revealed on Thursday.

Kotzias informed journalists that Foreign Ministry political director Petros Mavroidis would be making the trip after he met with FYROM’s Deputy Prime Minister Fatmir Besimi in Athens on Thursday. Kotzias said he may reveal more about the measures when he visits Skopje later this month as part of a tour of the Western Balkans.

“I would be getting ahead of myself – as I would like to do – if I mentioned measures, because we have to agree on them first,” said the Greek diplomat. “As I always say, when one is negotiating, it isn’t good to talk about it.”

Kotzias praised Besimi, a member of FYROM’s Albanian community, as a “young, talented politician.” “We always tell our European partners that realistic and reasonable voices like Mr Besimi’s must be listened to with care in Europe,” added the minister.

Besimi said that he sees an opportunity for Greece and FYROM to resolve their differences and welcomed Kotzias’s decision to visit Skopje. “Neighbors have no other choice but to be good friends,” said the visiting envoy.


IMF payment put off as lenders wait for new proposals

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis leaves the Maximos Mansion after a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday.

Greece asked the International Monetary Fund on Thursday for the right to delay a 300-million-euro payment due on Friday, with lenders expecting Athens to send counterproposals to the demands presented to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras late on Wednesday in Brussels.

The news of the Greek government’s request to bundle all four tranches totaling 1.6 billion euros due to the IMF this month into one payment by June 30 came ahead of a teleconference call expected to take place late on Thursday night between Tsipras, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

Wednesday’s talks between Tsipras and Juncker, in which Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem also participated, failed to result in an agreement. The Greek prime minister indicated that he deems some of the creditors’ demands as unacceptable. He cited the request to scrap a benefit for low-income pensioners (EKAS) as one of the measures his government could not consider.

The proposals presented to Tsipras include demands for slashing spending on pensions by up to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product this year. Creditors also demanded Athens raise 1.8 billion euros, or 1 percent of GDP, by increasing value-added tax to 11 percent for items including drugs and 23 percent for items including electricity.

The Greek prime minister said that the idea of increasing VAT on electricity by 10 percentage points from its current rate of 13 percent was a nonstarter.

The proposal also calls for a hike in healthcare contributions and a cut in the fuel subsidy. The lenders further demanded Tsipras not make any unilateral moves to restore collective bargaining rights or raise minimum wage level to pre-crisis levels, as he had pledged before the January 25 elections.

The institutions are now expecting a set of counterproposals from Greece so that a new round of talks can take place.

There had been no official comment from the Greek government on Thursday regarding its decision to bundle repayments to the IMF. But, according to sources, the request was submitted to the Fund by the Bank of Greece. The aim of authorities, it appears, is to gain some time and reach an agreement with creditors that would loosen liquidity restrictions.

June 30, the day on which Greece’s extended bailout expires, now gains additional significance as Greece will then face a 1.6-billion-euro repayment to the IMF.

Sources indicated that even if Greece were not to honor its repayments to the IMF this month, it would still have insufficient funds to pay salaries and pensions through June.

Had Greece decided simply not to make the payment that had been due on Friday, that would have likely provoked upheaval in the markets and banks. Regrouping the repayments, however, amid indications that the two sides have converged in negotiations, was deemed to be a less disruptive move.

Confirming the Greek request on Thursday, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice referred to rules allowing debtor countries to regroup “multiple principal payments falling due in a calendar month.” Those rules were last invoked in the 1970s by Zambia.

Earlier in the day, IMF chief Christine Lagarde had said she was “confident” Greece will make Friday’s debt repayment. As regards the proposal made to Greece by its creditors during talks on Wednesday, she said it “clearly demonstrated significant flexibility on the part of the institutions.”