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Greece defeats Czech Republic 1-0 in friendly February 6, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Both teams field many new faces

Greece striker Giorgos Samaras, who recently moved to Scottish club Celtic from Manchester City in a loan deal, in action against the Czech Republic last night. He was one of just a few familiar faces selected by Otto Rehhagel for the international friendly played in Cyprus. Greece meets Finland today in its next test ahead of the Euro 2008 finals, where the National Team will defend its European title.

A second-half goal by striker Dimitris Salpigidis gave Greece a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in a soccer friendly played in Cyprus last night.

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel, preparing his team for the Euro 2008 finals this coming summer, took the opportunity to field six newcomers, five of whom are former Under-21 internationals.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Avraam Papadopoulos, Grigoris Makos, Christos Melissis and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos all made their senior-level debuts with Greece along with Nikos Spyropoulos.

Rehhagel and his Czech counterpart Karel Bruckner, who did not join his team in Cyprus after being struck by pneumonia, had mutually agreed in advance to field a number of young faces in last night’s senior-level friendly.

Salpigidis scored Greece’s winning goal in the 79th minute with a shot from the right that deflected over the goalkeeper and into the net. Though few scoring opportunities were created by either side, the game was fluent with both teams enjoying good spells of ball possession.

Rehhagel is expected to make more lineup changes in Greece’s next friendly game today against Finland.

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Greece’s five-year Internet catch-up plan February 6, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web, Telecoms.
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Greece plans to spend 3 billion euro ($4.4 billion) over the next five years to catch up with other European Union countries in the usage of high-speed Internet and new technologies.

About 2.5 billion euro will be spent to create a fiberoptic network that will give at least 2 million Greek homes access to broadband services, according to an e-mailed transcript of a speech yesterday by Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis.

“New communications technologies mean innovation, competitiveness, growth, quality of life,” Hatzidakis said. “Greece has been a laggard in the use of new technologies. It is now in our grasp to move forward.”

Greece has consistently trailed behind its European Union partners in broadband usage, hobbling foreign investment and competitiveness. Greek broadband penetration rose from 0.1 percent in 2003 to 7.1 percent in 2007, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That still lags the average of 18.8 percent for OECD countries, and places Greece behind new European Union member states such as Poland and Hungary.

The Greek broadband gap has been blamed on high prices for personal computers and Web connections and the lack of Internet and PC education in schools. Successive governments have also failed to make Internet usage relevant to the wider public. In May 2006, European Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding said Greece trailed Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Croatia and Egypt in providing government services over the Internet.

Financing for the plans will come from the Greek budget, European Union resources and the private sector, Hatzidakis said, without providing details. Building the new infrastructure will aid Greece’s ambitions to be an international communications hub, he said.

Greece’s geographic position may enable it to be a data transport point between Europe and the Middle East and Asia.

Cyprus issues new market risk guidelines February 6, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Cyprus’s banks have to comply with a new set of guidelines governing market risk management, the island’s Central Bank said yesterday.

The four main types of risks covered in a central bank circular are related to interest rates, equity, foreign exchange and commodities.

Banks, the circular said, must have suitable policies and processes that clearly allocate responsibilities regarding market risk and must set market risk limits proportional to their size.

Systems and controls have to be in place ensuring that all transactions are captured on a timely basis and that market positions are revalued at least on a daily basis.

The new set of guidelines adds to existing ones on the internal capital adequacy assessment process in market risk management. They are applicable to banks supervised by the Central Bank or incorporated in Cyprus, including their subsidiaries and overseas branches.

“The principle of proportionality acknowledges the fact that significant differences may exist between the activities of banks and, consequently, the risks emanating from their activities might not be similar,” the Cyprus’ Central Bank said.

According to the circular, banks have to manage their exposure to market risk both on a stand-alone basis and on a group basis. The banks must also measure market risk by performing scenario analysis, stress testing and contingency planning, as well as periodic validity testing.

Further, “the market data used to value trading book positions must be verified by a function independent of the lines of business, e.g. by the bank’s internal audit function,” the Cyprus’ Central Bank said.

Mont Parnes bets millions on overhaul venture February 6, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Tourism.
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The operators of the Mont Parnes casino are planning a further 250-million-euro investment which will include the reforestation of the surrounding area burnt last summer.

The budget for the radical facelift of the Mont Parnes tourism complex, just a short drive northwest of Athens, will be a quarter of a billion euros and work is expected to be completed in the next four years.

The owner of the complex, Hellenic Casino of Parnitha, yesterday presented its objectives and the actions planned for the restoration of the surrounding forest that was burnt last summer. Some 1 million euro will be devoted to the reforestation of the 61,200 square meters burnt last July. Chief executive Stephanos Theodoridis said that to date the sum of 70 million has been invested, mainly for the cable-car installation.

The casino adds 96 million each year to the state’s coffers, directly or indirectly. Once the investment is completed, it will provide more than 120 million. The number of employees will also increase from 1,300 to 1,900.

This year marks the 50th anniversary since work began on the complex’s main building. The project envisages the maintenance of the trademark Mylonas tower and the demolition of more recent additions to the complex. The owners aim to make the complex an example of modern environmental practice as the facelift plan includes green planted roofs, heat alternators, geothermal installations, photovoltaic systems, use of energy-saving appliances and light bulbs etc. The estimated total annual saving of energy from these innovations will be enough to supply an average Greek village with electricity and oil for about one year.

Cheesy tricks buying time for fake feta cheese February 6, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Greece.
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Three months or more after the irrevocable decision in Greece’s favor for the use of the name feta, an unorthodox war continues to rage on the shelves of Europe’s supermarkets.

The object of that war is the survival of fake “feta”, using all kinds of tricks to tell consumers that “this is feta” without actually saying it. Therefore, the packaging may carry the description “white cheese”, but on the supermarket shelf there may be a small label that reads “feta.” Another trick is the use of the word “feta”, which in various languages, such as Italian, means “slice,” to introduce a piece of white cheese as “feta” in reference to the slice on sale.

Although it is the European Commission that has imposed the law that only allows Greek goat cheese to be called feta since October 16, 2007, it is down to member states, in this case Greece, to follow up on the proper application of the law and report any violations.

Following a question by a Greek European Parliament member, the Commission stated that there has not been a single complaint from Athens on this matter, so no process can yet begin to root out Europe’s feta imposters.

Traffic killing heart victims February 6, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
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The inability of ambulances to reach hospitals quickly, due to Athens’s traffic problem, is resulting in around 1,000 heart attack fatalities every year, cardiologists told a seminar yesterday.

The improved coordination of the ambulance service, including the use of more motorcycles to weave through traffic jams, could avert these deaths, according to Dimitris Kremastinos, president of the Hellenic Cardiological Society. Six out of 10 fatal heart attack patients die before they reach the hospital, he said.

The National First Aid Center (EKAB) now has 15 motorcycles operating in Athens. In an extended network, motorcyclists would be stationed around Athens and informed of heart attack patients whom they would collect and take to the nearest ambulance or hospital. “It is a simple matter of coordination, we could start saving lives tomorrow” Kremastinos said.

Another 3,000 heart attack fatalities could be avoided every year if smoking bans were imposed in public places, medics said.

The remains of 10 Greek soldiers returned February 6, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Greek Diaspora.
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Soldiers carry the remains of 10 Greek soldiers, killed while fighting invading Turkish forces on Cyprus in 1974, which were returned to their relatives in Nicosia yesterday.

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The soldiers had been buried in a multiple grave in the aftermath of the invasion 34 years ago.