NEWS

In Brief

CIVIL SERVANTS STRIKE

Flights, public offices, schools disrupted today due to protest Flights, public services, schools and hospitals are expected to be severely disrupted today when civil servants from all sectors join a 24-hour strike organized by their umbrella union, ADEDY, to secure higher salaries. Schools are likely to be understaffed and court cases scheduled for today could be suspended. Protesters object to the draft 2003 budget, which they say will reduce their income. Air traffic controllers joined the strike suddenly yesterday. As many flights are likely to be affected, passengers are advised to call their airline or Athens Airport at 210.353.0000. FETA CAMPAIGN Minister announces drive to promote and protect homegrown produce A campaign to promote and protect feta, along with dozens of other «protected designation of origin» products, will be launched in the new year, Deputy Agriculture Minister Fotis Hadzmichalis said yesterday, following Tuesday’s appeal by French farmers for the reversal of a European decision granting Greece exclusive use of the name «feta» for cheese. «We are not scared of appeals but we must not let down our guard,» said Hadzimichalis, adding, «We have won the feta war but the battle continues.» STORM WARNING State services on standby The army, local authorities and the Civil Protection Agency were on alert late yesterday following a forecast of heavy rain and storms after midnight. Rescue workers had been on standby along the banks of the flood-prone Kifissos River yesterday after heavy rain and strong winds affected most of Attica, but no major problems were reported. The weather is expected to improve from this afternoon but will worsen again on Saturday. Road tax Drivers have until the end of this month to acquire a road tax sticker for 2003, the Economy and Finance Ministry said yesterday. Private car owners can buy their stickers from most banks while stickers for commercial vehicles must be bought from tax offices. Fines for drivers caught without a valid sticker will be 30 euros for engines up to 785cc, and as much as the corresponding road tax for above 785cc. Shipping safety A European Commission blacklist of ships being held at European ports for violating shipping safety regulations does not include any Greek-owned vessels, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis said at a press conference yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s EU summit in Brussels focusing on the shipwreck of the Prestige tanker, which spilled 70,000 tons of fuel when it sank off Spain last month. However, the list of 66 ships includes 26 which have been registered in Greece, Anomeritis noted. The minister has denied any Greek links to the Prestige. Murder conviction A Yiannitsa court yesterday sentenced a 17-year-old youth to between 10 and 15 years in jail for the murder of a 68-year-old grocery store owner last year. The youth, identified only as I.A., had admitted to the December 2001 killing, saying his hatred of society and desire to resemble notorious Greek criminal Costas Passaris drove him to kill Anastasios Polatzidis in the latter’s store in the northern village of Paralimni. Roadworks Drivers will face disruptions on Kifissias Avenue next week due to the ongoing construction of the Faros underpass in Psychico, traffic police said yesterday. Traffic will be suspended on and off between midnight and 5.30 a.m. from Monday to Thursday. Olympic volunteers A total of 47,168 prospective Olympic Games volunteers have submitted applications to date, the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee said yesterday ahead of World Volunteer Day today. The volunteer profile is a young, multilingual Greek, according to the committee’s figures. Greek residents account for 61.35 percent of applications, with 12.01 percent made by Greeks living abroad, and 22.97 percent by foreigners. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of applications belong to the 18-34 age group, and 80 percent speak English as a second language. Good catch An Alexandroupolis fisherman who caught 6 tons of striped gray mullet off the coast of the northern port donated a large portion of his haul to the city’s old people’s home and chronic disease health center, the Athens News Agency reported yesterday. Such was the weight of the catch that Zafeiris Yiakis had to cut his nets and conduct several trips to bring it to shore, the ANA said.