Daily Archives: March 17, 2016

Greece rejects parts of Australia’s travel advice


Greece is a very safe government and Canberra’s latest travel advice for those travelling to Athens is not reflective of that, according to the CEO for Greeks Abroad, Mihalis Kokkinos, who is currently touring Australia.

According to travel advice on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, petty crime is a serious issue in Greece and is on the increase in tourist areas.

Mr Kokkinos says every tourist that has visited Greece knows it’s a safe country and that they do not feel threatened or intimated.

The travel advice tells Australians to exercise particular caution around tourist attractions in central Athens and the islands and to be “extremely cautious on bus and train as pickpocketing, bag snatching and even the slashing of luggage resulting in theft of personal belongings are regular occurrences”.

It also says that Australians should be vigilant when walking alone in isolated areas after dark, especially in the Athens suburb of Omonia and the two railway/bus stations of Larrissa and Peloponissos.

According to the travel advice tourists have been the victims of serious physical and sexual assaults in Greece, including in Athens and on Greek islands.

It advises Australians to be aware that racially-motivated and homophobic attacks have also been reported in Greece.

Mr Kokkinos says that Australia has every right to advise its citizens but pointed out that Greece is a very safe country and attracts many millions of tourists every year.

The travel advice reminds Australians that capital controls exist in Greece and that they should have sufficient cash in various denominations to cover emergencies and unexpected delays.

It also warns them that protests and demonstrations can occur in cities across Greece with little warning and Australians are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.

source:Neos Kosmos

Caving in to the right on Safe Schools could undermine Turnbull’s greatest asset


The prime minister faces a backroom insurrection over the Safe Schools program, but any action other than to stare it down could cripple the leader.

Here’s a curious thing.

February was not the first time Coalition parliamentarians raised objections to the Safe Schools program in their party room. But when Nationals Barry O’Sullivan and George Christensen and Liberal Cory Bernardi previously waved Safe Schools material around in the closed-door meeting and said they couldn’t believe it was being federally-funded, Tony Abbott was prime minister. The then education minister, Christopher Pyne, dismissed the call, saying the government didn’t as a rule trash funding agreements already in place. And nothing more was said.

But now Abbott has signed the petition against the program and publicly called for its defunding. (Christensen and Bernardi say it has resurfaced now because “more information has come to light” which is a neatly circular argument since it is them and their fellow conservative objectors who have been spruiking the new “information”.)

When Turnbull was first confronted by objections to the program he tried to assess and consider the alternative views. He commissioned a review of the program’s content by a respected academic. It has not yet been released but has been discussed with backbenchers.

It largely endorsed the program’s content and it is also understood to have recommended clearer advice for parents, which most people would probably welcome.

But this has not appeased the opponents, even though the disempowering of parents was their first line of attack against the program.

And that is not surprising because their objections run far deeper than that. They see it as “indoctrination” (unlike, apparently, the $240m school chaplaincy scheme), as “social engineering” and being somehow linked to paedophilia, and also to a “Marxist agenda” and “the sexual liberation of young people”, which is, in their view, also a very bad thing. They want it defunded, because apparently if students are not taught tolerance and understanding regarding gender issues, they’ll go away. Or, as Christensen suggests, gay teenagers could just choose to ignore their sexuality.

Consulting and bridge building and considering alternative views are all good things for a leader to do, to a point.

But when a leader is confronted by a rebellion motivated by an ideological agenda apparently incompatible with their own, a blatant and wilful misinterpretation of facts and an obvious parallel agenda of undermining their authority, they really have no choice but to take a stand.

Alongside these ideological objections to the program is an obvious political aim. To undermine Turnbull. To cripple his leadership authority. To stop him governing in his own voice. Turnbull’s political capacity has already been drained by concessions to the right on issues such as marriage equality and climate change.

The conservative MPs’ views are obviously contrary to the prime minister’s and to those of his education minister, Simon Birmingham. If they succeed in forcing Turnbull to back down once again – using a “petition” to convince him to set up a parliamentary inquiry to give every critic a platform to broadcast their inflammatory claims – the prime minister will appear compromised and weak. If they don’t succeed, they’ll keep running the insurgency campaign, backed by the christian lobby and conservative columnists, leaving his government looking divided and chaotic.

Of course Turnbull has faced this dilemma before, in 2009, when many of the same Coalition conservatives took aim at his policy on climate change. He stood up to them then famously saying he was not prepared to lead a party that wasn’t as committed to tackling climate change as he was. He lost his job.

But his greatest weapon in regaining the leadership was his popularity, as measured in opinion polls. And his popularity was based on a perception that he was a centrist, a different kind of politician, a man true to his convictions.

It is still unclear how he will deal with the rightwing push this time. The strongest thing he was prepared to say on Thursday was that “every member” of the parliament should “choose their words carefully” when discussing it.

Caving in to the right this time would further undermine what was at the outset the prime minister’s greatest asset. It would set a terrible precedent for the conduct of the marriage equality plebiscite, another conservative-inspired policy forced upon Turnbull despite his previous public objections. And if Turnbull has to govern at the whim of the conservative wing of his party, the religious right and the opinions of News Corp columnists, what would be the point of it?


Barcelona complete last-16 triumph over Arsenal


Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal (agg: 5-1)
Neymar, Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi were all on target as the holders reached the last eight for the ninth season running.

Overcoming a 2-0 deficit at the Camp Nou was always a daunting prospect, but Neymar’s 18th-minute opener effectively killed the tie off. Laurent Koscielny was at fault, caught in possession as he tried to dribble out of defence. Barcelona were on it in a flash. Suárez collected the ball and found Neymar with time and space to fire in.

For a spell the fight left Arsenal, who had begun brightly even if they were indebted to a fantastic stop from David Ospina to deny Lionel Messi just before the opener. Barcelona attacked with trademark alacrity, but as the half wore on and Alex Iwobi – on his first start in the competition – lively there were chances, too, at the other end.

Six minutes after the restart Elneny curled in a superb effort and the flames of hope flickered, only for Suárez to douse them with an acrobatic effort that came off his shin and flew into the top corner. Danny Welbeck hit the bar, Marc-André ter Stegen denied Alexis Sánchez and Olivier Giroud but the game was up, Messi making doubly sure. Barcelona march on.

Analysis from Graham Hunter at the Camp Nou

Key Man: Luis Suárez
There were candidates. A host of them. Bronze probably goes to David Ospina, whose save from Messi in the first half was as good as you will see this season. Perhaps a tie between Neymar and Alexis for silver. But Luis Suárez is at the top of the podium. Besides his usual tireless work there was a first-class assist for Neymar and then, as Arsenal threatened, a Herculean mid-air volley.

Tactical template
Long before the result was settled Arsène Wenger’s side provided a tactical template for how teams – at least the elite clubs remaining in this competition – could test the reigning champions. They pressed high and kept a quick tempo, hustling and hassling without the ball and always quick to pass and move with it. Given their injuries, there were positives for Arsenal – and maybe others.

Barcelona’s competitive spirit
Before last season’s final, Luis Enrique told me that he felt the most important part of what would be a trophy treble had been the competitive atmosphere every day in training. At the weekend he said, “It doesn’t matter who I turn to in my player group, whoever plays is competitive.” Exhibit 1: Jérémy Mathieu. In for the suspended Gerard Piqué, he played with calm, authority and made two goal-saving blocks.


Bayern break Juve hearts in roller-coaster drama 4-2



Bayern 4-2 Juventus (aet; agg: 6-4)
After Thomas Müller forced extra time, substitutes Thiago Alcántara and Kingsley Coman capped a remarkable Bayern comeback in the round of 16.

Two goals in three extra-time minutes from substitutes Thiago Alcántara and Kingsley Coman decided a roller-coaster UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie in Bayern München’s favour, as an initially excellent Juventus display foundered amid a dramatic finale to an already see-saw encounter.

In a direct reversal of the Turin first leg, and at a ground where Bayern had won their preceding nine UEFA Champions League home matches, Juve led 2-0 through Paul Pogba and Juan Cuadrado’s first-half goals only to be pegged back just short of the final whistle. For all Bayern’s possession football, the hosts were revived by headers from crosses – Robert Lewandowski’s 73rd-minute conversion of a Douglas Costa centre, followed by Thomas Müller nodding in Kingsley Coman’s wicked 91st-minute delivery.

That paved the way for Thiago, who finished off a one-two with Müller by rifling past Gianluigi Buffon with 108 minutes on the clock. Some 120 seconds later Coman – ironically, a player on loan from Juventus – broke to fire in the irreversible fourth.

That turnaround made a distant memory of the brilliant start from Massimiliano Allegri’s men. Pogba’s fifth-minute breakthrough stemmed from Sami Khedira’s positive forward pass which, via a miscontrol from David Alaba under pressure from Stephan Lichtsteiner – and with Manuel Neuer stranded – the Frenchman finished comfortably.

With Juve pressing high, Bayern were rattled and it was no surprise when Juve struck again on 28 minutes. Álvaro Morata’s brilliant surge upfield was rewarded with a classy finish by Cuadrado. The Bundesliga leaders were being outgunned by opponents missing Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini; Cuadrado could have made it three.

Josep Guardiola’s men had scored at least three goals in each of their last seven home fixtures in the competition. Similar was needed here and Lewandowski eventually weighed in with one. Müller then levelled the tie, before the substitutes finished the job in extra time.

Bayern bounce back with superb second half
If the Bavarians were in a state of shock at 0-2 down, they would have been dead and buried had Morata finished one of his three second-half chances. But the Coman substitution gave the Bundesliga leaders a new lease of life and once Lewandowksi made it 2-1, it was inevitable they would get another.

Brave Juventus unable to hold on
Knowing they required an away goal, Juventus took the game to Bayern and were rewarded immediately. They unsettled the hosts with a magnificent first-half showing and will rue not converting their opportunities for a third, but in the end they were unable to resist the Bayern goal machine.

Key man: Kingsley Coman
His 60th-minute introduction proved the catalyst for Bayern’s comeback, injecting pace and energy into the home attack. He wreaked havoc with his crossing and supplied the crucial assist for Müller’s equaliser before putting the match out of sight with Bayern’s fourth.


Αυστραλία:Αβέβαιο το πολιτικό μέλλον του ομογενή βουλευτή, Νίκου Βαρβαρή


Κύκλοι του Φιλελεύθερου Κόμματος θεωρούν σίγουρη την αποχώρησή του.

Η πρώτη θητεία του ομογενή ομοσπονδιακού βουλευτή, Νίκου Βαρβαρή, που εκλέχθηκε στην έδρα Barton Νέας Νότιας Ουαλίας, εικάζεται ότι θα είναι και η τελευταία του – προς το παρόν τουλάχιστον. Ο κ. Βαρβαρής, το 2013 κατάφερε να κερδίσει την έδρα, με προβάδισμα 0,3%, κάτι που, όμως, εκτιμάται ότι δεν πρόκειται να συμβεί στις επόμενες εκλογές. Η ανακατανομή των εδρών από την Εκλογική Επιτροπή καθιστά πλέον την έδρα του Barton ως έδρα που θα περάσει στα χέρια του Εργατικού Κόμματος.

Υψηλόβαθμα στελέχη του Φιλελεύθερου Κόμματος σε δηλώσεις τους στο κρατικό δίκτυο ABC ανέφεραν προχθές ότι πιστεύουν ότι ο κ. Βαρβαρής δεν πρόκειται να διεκδικήσει την έδρα στις επόμενες εκλογές. Ανέφεραν, επίσης, ότι ο κ. Βαρβαρής συζητά με το κόμμα του, αν υπάρχει η πιθανότητα να λάβει το χρίσμα για κάποια άλλη έδρα, ή αν μπορεί να παίξει κάποιον άλλο ρόλο στις επόμενες εκλογές.

Τέλος να αναφέρουμε ότι το Εργατικό όμμα ανακοίνωσε την υποψήφια που θα κατεβάσει στην έδρα Barton, η οποία είναι η υπαρχηγός του Εργατικού κόμματος στη Ν.Ν. Ουαλία Linda Burney. Να σημειωθεί ότι αν τελικά η κ. Burney καταφέρει να κερδίσει την έδρα Barton θα είναι η πρώτη ιθαγενικής καταγωγής γυναίκα που εκλέγεται στο ομοσπονδιακό κοινοβούλιο.

Αξίζει να σημειωθεί, ότι αν τελικά ο κ. Βαρβαρής αποφασίσει να μην διεκδικήσει την συγκεκριμένη έδρα στις επόμενες εκλογές, θα είναι το 24 μέλος της κυβέρνησης του Συνασπισμού που αποχωρεί από τον πολιτικό στίβο κατά την τελευταία τριετία.

Πηγή:Νέος Κόσμος

Αυστραλία:Νέοι κανονισμοί για την χορήγηση βίζας σε συντρόφους


Όσοι μπαίνουν ως εγγυητές για χορήγηση βίζας σε σύντροφο και δεν τηρούν τις υποχρεώσεις τους θα τιμωρούνται αυστηρά.

Με στόχο την τιμωρία θυτών οικογενειακής βίας και άλλων αυστραλών πολιτών που μπαίνουν εγγυητές για χορήγηση βίζας σε συντρόφους τους και δεν τηρούν τις υποχρεώσεις τους προς αυτούς, η ομοσπονδιακή κυβέρνηση εισήγαγε χθες στο Κοινοβούλιο μεταρρυθμίσεις στη σχετική νομοθεσία.

Οι σχετικές τροποποιήσεις προβλέπουν αυστηρά πρόστιμα αλλά και την δίωξη των συγκεκριμένων πολιτών. Σύμφωνα με τον υπουργό Μετανάστευσης Peter Dutton αυτή τη στιγμή αν κάποιος μπει εγγυητής για την χορήγηση βίζας σε σύντροφο, δεν γίνεται κάποιος έλεγχος για το παρελθόν του και για το αν ο συγκεκριμένος πολίτης έχει διαπράξει στο παρελθόν αδικήματα που σχετίζονται με την ενδοοικογενειακή βία. Το νέο νομοσχέδιο μεταξύ άλλων θα προβλέπει τον έλεγχο του εγγυητή και στην περίπτωση που διαπιστωθεί ότι έχει βεβαρημένο παρελθόν δεν θα έχει το δικαίωμα να μπει ως εγγυητής.

Εν τω μεταξύ όσοι αυστραλοί πολίτες έχουν ήδη μπει εγγυητές για χορήγηση βίζας στον σύντροφό τους ή κάποιο άλλο μέλος της οικογένειάς τους και δεν τηρούν την βασικότερη των υποχρεώσεών τους, που είναι αυτή της «παροχής στήριξης», προς αυτό θα τιμωρούνται αυστηρά από το νόμο.

Πηγή:Νέος Κόσμος

Angelina Jolie in Lesvos


The UN goodwill ambassador will reportedly visit the refugee camps in Moria and Kara Tepe.

The famous Hollywood actress and activist is expected to arrive in Lesvos today to review the refugee situation on the island.

The former UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador was appointed as Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 2012 and has been conducting more than 40 field visits yearly addressing the issue of people displaced by conflict around the world.

Angelina Jolie Pitt’s itinerary following her arrival at the Odysseas Elytis airport in Lesvos has not yet been revealed, however, she is expected to visit two main camps in Kara Tepe and Moria according to ANA-MPA.

“We cannot manage the world through aid relief in the place of diplomacy and political solutions,” Jolie said whilst in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley prior to her departure for Greece.

Lebanon alone hosts well over a million Syrian refugees, who now account for nearly a fifth of its population. The Hollywood actress, visited refugee camps tormented by the heavy rain in the area stressing that “the international community must address the root causes of the global refugee crisis.”

source:neos kosmos

Australia among the world’s happiest countries: report


Denmark overtook Switzerland to reclaim the mantle of the world’s happiest place, according to a report released on Wednesday, with Australia also finishing in the top 10.

The World Happiness Report, prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, showed Syria, Afghanistan and eight sub-Saharan countries as the 10 least happy places on earth to live. Burundi came in last.

The report found that inequality was strongly associated with unhappiness – a stark finding for rich countries like the United States, where rising disparities in income, wealth, health and wellbeing have fuelled political discontent.

Denmark topped the list in the first report, in 2012, and again in 2013, but it was displaced by Switzerland last year. In this year’s ranking, Denmark was followed by Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. Most are fairly homogeneous nations with strong social safety nets.

At the bottom of the list of more than 150 countries was Burundi, where a violent political crisis broke out last year. Burundi was preceded by Syria, Togo, Afghanistan, Benin, Rwanda, Guinea, Liberia, Tanzania and Madagascar. All of those nations are poor, and many have been destabilised by war, disease or both.

The US came in at 13, Britain at 23, France at 32, and Italy at 50.

“There is a very strong message for my country, the United States, which is very rich, has gotten a lot richer over the last 50 years, but has gotten no happier,” Professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of the SDSN, said.

“The message for the United States is clear. For a society that just chases money, we are chasing the wrong things. Our social fabric is deteriorating, social trust is deteriorating, faith in government is deteriorating,” he said.

Of the world’s most populous nations, China was 83rd, ahead of India at 118th.

The report, now in its fourth edition, ranks 157 countries by happiness levels using factors such as per capita gross domestic product and healthy years of life expectancy.

It also rates “having someone to count on in times of trouble” and freedom from corruption in government and business.

The survey showed that three countries in particular, Ireland, Iceland and Japan, were able to maintain their happiness levels despite external shocks such as the post-2007 economic crisis and the 2011 earthquake because of social support and solidarity.

Professor Sachs pointed to Costa Rica, which came in 14th and ahead of many wealthier countries, as an example of a healthy, happy society although it is not an economic powerhouse.