Security Council renews UN force for six months The United Nations Security Council yesterday renewed the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force on Cyprus until December 15 and urged Turkish Cypriots and Turkish forces to lift restrictions imposed on it two years ago. The force of 1,195 troops and 35 civilian police was «essential to the ceasefire between the two sides,» despite progress in face-to-face talks between Cypriot leaders, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated in a recent report. WRONG WAY McRae punished for mistake in Acropolis Rally reconnaissance Scotland’s former world racing champion, Colin McRae, was yesterday punished with a yearlong probation after driving the wrong way during the Acropolis Rally. McRae’s co-driver Nicky Grist managed to persuade stewards that McRae’s crew had entered the race 6 kilometers ahead of the official starting point after misreading signposts – erected to help spectators gain access to the event – during the reconnaissance stage of the rally. FLIGHT DISRUPTIONS Air travel problems expected next week Thousands of air passengers are likely to face disruptions next Wednesday as air traffic controllers from Greece, Italy, Portugal and Hungary join a strike announced yesterday by the main French air traffic management union in protest against a plan to harmonize traffic management systems across the EU. Greek air traffic controllers are due to strike from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. while French action will be from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Gunman remanded A heroin addict, who went on a shooting spree through central Athens on Saturday after being evicted from a recovery program, was remanded in custody yesterday after telling an Athens magistrate he regretted his actions – which included firing shots outside the prime ministerial residence. Dimitris Aivadzidis, 38, denied any involvement in a firebomb attack outside an Exarchia detox center earlier this month. Marios Patsavos, 19, and Yiannis Niarakis, 36 – implicated in the same attack – were also remanded in custody yesterday after denying their involvement. Murderers convicted An Athens court yesterday gave life sentences, compounded by another 25 years in jail, to two men found guilty of the murder of a flower-shop owner during a robbery in April 1999, along with a catalog of crimes including other robberies and the supply of drugs. Andreas Legakis told the court his original confession to fatally shooting Michalis Goulis in the latter’s Athens flower store was actually a lie to cover co-defendant Dimitris Keramydas, who, he claimed, was the real killer. IKA action Social Security Foundation (IKA) clinics will be operating on emergency staff once again today, as IKA doctors stage the third of a series of seven 24-hour strikes planned for June. Union leaders are due to meet tomorrow to assess the impact of the first round of strikes, which are due to resume on June 18, 21, 25 and 28. University doctors University doctors can now run temporary afternoon surgeries outside the clinics or hospital units in which they are based, after yesterday’s approval by Parliament’s plenary session of an amendment to Education Ministry legislation on matters related to higher education. Doctors have been protesting for months over a law which forces them to choose between state or private hospitals. Tea warning Consumers should be wary of drinking herbal teas containing the natural extract Teucrium Polium L. (or amaranth) as it has provoked toxic hepatitis in five people in Thessaloniki over the last two years, the National Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF) said yesterday. The liver problems caused by the tea disappear gradually when its consumption is stopped, the EOF said, adding that it cannot ban its sale and distribution in Greece. Karamanlis Opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis met UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York late on Wednesday for talks which focused on Cyprus. Karamanlis said he reiterated his position to Annan that a solution to Cyprus’s political problem is not a precondition for the island’s EU accession.