Transactions to be disrupted as staff launch 48-hour walkout from today Banking transactions will be subject to disruptions today and tomorrow as staff join a 48-hour strike called by the country’s umbrella bank workers’ union. Staff are protesting imminent pension reforms that fail to fulfill their demands for a single supplementary pension fund. Unionists, who yesterday accused the government of using blackmail tactics, are to meet today to discuss the possibility of launching a second two-day strike from Thursday. INTENSIVE CARE 150 beds empty ‘due to lack of staff’ A total of 150 beds in the intensive-care units of Greek state hospitals remain empty due to a shortage of nurses, the Greek Society of Intensive Care Medicine said yesterday. As many as 40 patients per day are trying to secure a bed in intensive care while 150 beds in fully equipped units lie empty, a spokesman for the society said. Teachers demonstrate French and German language teachers from state secondary schools are to stage a demonstration outside the Education Ministry on Mitropoleos Street from 1 p.m. today in protest at government plans to reduce foreign-language tutoring by one hour per week – as of September – to allow for an extra hour of Ancient Greek. Doping ruling Disgraced sprinter Katerina Thanou and her coach, Christos Tzekos, were yesterday granted unconditional release after testifying before an investigating magistrate in connection with doping tests missed by Thanou and a suspicious motorbike accident on the eve of the Athens Olympics. Turtles released Residents of Glyfada watch as municipal officials release two loggerhead turtles into the sea yesterday. The turtles’ release was organized by the municipality in cooperation with the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece (Archelon) to mark World Environment Day which was celebrated on Sunday. Illegal antiquities A 52-year-old man has been arrested after about a hundred ancient artifacts, dating back as far as the prehistoric era, were discovered in his Thessaloniki home, police said yesterday. The unnamed man has been charged with illegally trading in antiquities three times before, police said. The dozens of items confiscated included a funerary mask made of gold foil and a very early coin from Aegina. Molotov attack Unidentified arsonists yesterday threw two Molotov cocktail bombs at a police patrol car parked for repairs in a workshop near the Pedion tou Areos park, Athens police said. No one was injured but the car sustained significant damage after a fire broke out. Irenaios A letter from Jordanian Interior Minister Awni Yarfas, asking former Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem Irenaios to hand over his diplomatic passport, was made public yesterday. The letter was dated May 31, the day after rebel churchmen in Jerusalem elected a caretaker leader to replace the scandal-mired Irenaios. Cyprus talks United Nations special envoy for Cyprus Kieren Prendergast met with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in Ankara yesterday for exploratory talks ahead of a possible relaunch of peace negotiations. Greek-Turkish ties Turkish justice minister Cemil Cicek is due in Athens today for talks with his Greek counterpart, Anastassis Papaligouras.