NEWS

In Brief

BAD BOOKS

High school teachers unhappy with curriculum material, survey shows Many high school teachers are unimpressed with the quality of the textbooks they are obliged to work with, according to a survey of members of the State Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OLME). According to respondents, many of the books do not cover the material pupils need to learn for examinations and they fail to stimulate critical thinking. Textbooks used for Ancient Greek and history were ranked particularly low by teachers. Some maths and philosophy text books also scored poorly. Visa-free travel US says talks with Greece have stalled after draft pact pullout Negotiations to allow Greek citizens to travel to the US without visas have stalled, a senior US official told a Congressional panel late on Wednesday. Greece backed out of a draft agreement last month, according to Department of Homeland Security official Richard Barth. The US passed a law last year aimed at expanding its visa waiver program and Greece had been set to be its first member. Talks have been complicated by the European Union's objection to member states negotiating individually with the US. Brussels would prefer to negotiate entry for all new members at once. Contaminated oil Suspect retailers may be closed down The Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) is examining shutting down businesses involved in the recent sale of contaminated sunflower oil in the Greek market. The food oil was found to contain mineral oil, a by-product of the distillation of petroleum. Authorities are expected to announce today the results showing how toxic the sunflower was. It is believed that two-thirds of the contaminated oil has been recalled from the market. Price protest The Consumer Institute (INKA) called on consumers to boycott the Greek market yesterday in protest at rising prices. In a statement, INKA appealed to consumers «not to spend even one euro as an expression of their objections to high prices.» The spiraling cost of living is a matter of survival for many consumers, according to INKA's president Giorgos Lehouritis. Worthless degrees Authorities have recommended to the Education Ministry canceling all study diplomas issued by the Evropi private vocational school in Arta, northwestern Greece. Authorities have launched an investigation into the technical college, which is believed to have issued more than 2,000 undeserved certificates between 1999 and 2005, at a price, even to students that did not study there. Power play Appeals prosecutor Christos Markoyiannakis yesterday recommended that the five board members of the Public Power Corporation's workers' union GENOP-PPC should face charges of impeding the company's operation and causing blackouts when its members went on strike in March. A court of first instance prosecutor recommended less than three weeks ago that no charges be brought because the union was merely exercising its right to strike. Scapegoat defense Former judge Constantina Bourboulia took the stand yesterday in the seventh month of her continuing corruption trial and denied any part in an alleged trial-fixing ring, claiming that she had been «an easy target.» Bourboulia is alleged to have been part of a group of lawyers, prosecutors and judges that fixed the outcome of trials for money. But Bourboulia told the court in Athens yesterday that she had never taken a bribe. She accused former Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras of making her a scapegoat. Embezzler jailed A former employee of the Theagenio Hospital in Thessaloniki was yesterday given an 11-year jail sentence for embezzling 380,000 euros from its coffers. The man, who was not named, was found to have tampered with insurance claims so that he could pocket some of the money paid by insurers to the hospital. The scam was discovered in December 2004.

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