USA visit – Simitis expected in Washington next month Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit the USA, most likely on January 9 and 10, at the invitation of President Bush, the government spokesman announced yesterday. Christos Protopappas said the two leaders would discuss international and bilateral issues. It will be Simitis’s second official visit to the USA. Winter Storm warning issued as weather deteriorates The Civil Defense Authority yesterday warned Greeks to take precautions against the new wave of bad weather which swept across the entire country last night. Drivers in Attica are urged to be particularly careful today, as snow and low temperatures have made the roads dangerously icy. Anti-skid chains have been declared essential in most parts of central and northern Greece. Temperatures yesterday dropped as low as minus 11 degrees Celsius in Katara. The Rio-Antirio ferry, closed on Monday due to strong winds, was reopened yesterday. Cotton protests Farmers call off roadblock plans Cotton farmers from Macedonia and Thrace protesting against low crop prices yesterday canceled plans to block highways with their tractors over the holidays. But they threatened to resume their campaign in early January. Taxi charges. Greek taxi drivers will get their Christmas bonus by charging 265 drachmas (0.78 Euros) extra for every trip they make over the holiday period, the Ministry of Transport and Communications announced yesterday. The extra charge will apply between December 20 and January 7. The forgotten spy. PASOK MP Panayiotis Kritikos yesterday asked Parliament to address the case of the former US State Department officer, Steven Lalas, imprisoned in the USA on charges of passing sensitive military information to Greece. Kritikos asked the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Public Order to instigate bilateral discussions following a resurrection of the Lalas case on Mega Channel’s Files program on Tuesday. Cigarettes ‘legal.’ The 13 million packs of allegedly contraband cigarettes seized in Thessaloniki on December 3 were legally traded produce, the president of Cyprus’s largest cigarette manufacturer claimed on Tuesday. CT Tobacco uses the port of Thessaloniki to transport its produce to destinations in the Balkans, and its trade partner Macotrans Ltd stores the cigarettes in Thessaloniki, said CT Tobacco President Christoforos Tornaritis. Airspace violations. There have been many violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter planes over the past few days, government spokesman Christos Protopappas confirmed yesterday. Airforce sources said around 70 Turkish F-16 planes conducted 25 separate violations of national air space and transgressions of the Athens Flight Information Region. ND chief in Yugoslavia. New Democracy President Costas Karamanlis yesterday met Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica in Belgrade. Karamanlis also met the newly elected Kosovo leader, Ibrahim Rugova, in Pristina and visited the Greek military brigade in Kosovo-Polje to round off his two-day visit to Yugoslavia. Discussions with both leaders concerned the promotion of peace and stability in the Balkans and economic aid. Kalavryta remembers. A remembrance service for victims of the World War II massacre at Kalavryta began yesterday. Over 1,200 men and boys were executed on December 13, 1943 by German soldiers. Copyright theft. Police yesterday arrested a 42-year-old businessman who Warner Brothers Pictures alleged was cashing in on the success of their box-office hit Harry Potter by selling stolen merchandise. Angelos Mitropoulos was caught by police who, posing as potential buyers, discovered 35,000 stolen envelopes containing Harry Potter stickers at Mitropoulos’s warehouse in the Peristeri district of Athens. Police also found 17,000 envelopes with stickers featuring the participants of the television show Big Brother. The merchandise has been returned to the relevant authorities at Warner Brothers and Big Brother respectively. Mitropoulos has been charged with copyright theft and forgery.