Dozens of flights grounded, public transport disruptions There will be no metro or railway services today as public transport employees join a 24-hour strike called by public utilities to protest the government’s privatization plans. Aircraft will remain grounded as air-traffic controllers and Olympic Airlines crews join the action. Ferries will also remain anchored in port. Bus, trolley bus and tram services will additionally be disrupted as employees stage work stoppages from dawn until 8 a.m. and from 10 p.m. until the end of the shift. Motorists are advised against entering the city center as thousands of striking workers are expected to hit the streets. Vatopedi probe Monks to testify next week Two senior clerics from a Mount Athos monastery implicated in the exchange of land between the monastery and the state were yesterday given until next Tuesday to prepare their testimony before facing an investigating magistrate. The Vatopedi Monastery’s abbot Ephraim and another monk, Arsenios, are believed to have been behind negotiations that led to the state relinquishing its rights to 200 hectares of prime real estate near Lake Vistonida in northern Greece. Prosecutor steps in A preliminary judicial investigation has been ordered following allegations that a building permit for homes on a plot of land on the island of Elafonisos, in the southern Peloponnese, was not issued in accordance with the relevant provisions of law. The building permit was issued after the plot’s owners asked to have the land, formerly classified as forest, reclassified as farmland. Celestial fame A 34-year-old scientist from Larissa, central Greece, has become only the second Greek to have an asteroid named after him. The International Astronomical Union a few days ago honored Thessaloniki University physics lecturer Kleomenis Tsiganis by giving his name to an asteroid which until now was known as 1999 RC 221. The asteroid, which has a diameter of roughly 5 kilometers and lies not far from Mars, from now on will be called 21775 Tsiganis. No release An appeal for parole by the former bishop of Athens, Panteleimon, on the grounds of ill health, has been rejected in court. The cleric is serving a six-year sentence for embezzling 190,000 euros from a monastery at Nea Makri between 1995 and 1996. The case came to light after several nuns at the monastery made known their suspicions about the misappropriation of public donations. Banks defrauded Police in Attica said yesterday that they had arrested four Greeks believed to have swindled at least 700,000 euros from various banks by using forged documents to secure loans. According to police, the gang members would approach homeless citizens, promise to help them find shelter and employment and then use their personal details to apply for the bank loans.