OPINION

Short Cuts

Against all odds. Shepherd Vassilis Vassios was struck by lightning as he tended his sheep in the mountains near the northern Greek town of Sidirokastro and he survived to tell the tale. Twice. Vassios, 50, was caught in a storm and was struck by lightning. He remembers nothing after that, the Athens News Agency reported on Sunday. When he did not return home to the village of Agriani, his wife, Maria, contacted police and fellow villagers and told them that he was missing. They found him, and he is being treated for slight injuries at Serres hospital. Two years ago the same thing happened. Now Vassios and his wife have decided to build a chapel where the second strike befell him. The report did not say when the incident occurred. (28/8) Skyros quake. A moderate quake registering 4.5 on the Richter scale shook the Aegean island of Skyros at 0.45 on Tuesday. The island suffered extensive damage in a 5.7-Richter quake last month. (29/8) Looters. Panayiotis Mizouris, 22, a non-commissioned army officer, told police in Eleftheroupolis near Kavala in northeastern Greece on Tuesday that he had been attacked by three young men and robbed of his wallet, documents, his mobile phone and CD player after being injured in a car accident. (29/8) WWII reparations. An Athens court on Wednesday rejected a plea by the German State to suspend a decision to allow the auction on September 12 of German-owned institutes in Athens to compensate the relatives of World War II Nazi atrocity victims in the village of Distomo, Boeotia. The court of first instance ruled that there was no point in suspending the decision as an appeals court is to hear, on September 4, an appeal by the German state against the decision for the auction, which will involve the Goethe Institute and the German Archaeological Institute in Athens. (30/8) Bicycle trains. Passengers on the Athens electric railway (ISAP) from Piraeus to Kifissia will be allowed to take bicycles onto trains on Sundays and holidays, and on weekdays and Saturdays at all times except rush hours (6.30-10 a.m. and 1-4.30 p.m.), the ISAP management said on Wednesday. For some reason, bicycles are not allowed on the new metro network. (30/8) Bluff called. The Thessaloniki Hyatt Regency Casino has lodged a defamation suit against a gambler who claims to have been banned from entering the establishment because he kept winning at blackjack. The casino management said Varsamis Udjiolas had been banned for annoying casino employees. Udjiolas, who has sued the casino for allegedly trying to alter the terms of the game, told the press earlier this month that the casino is a victim-manufacturing plant. (30/8) Armed migrants. Three Turks believed to belong to a leftist organization outlawed in Turkey were detained on the island of Lesvos on Thursday, pending trial on charges of importing a weapon and ammunition into Greece. The three were detained on Tuesday and were found to have in their possession a handgun, cartridges and pamphlets related to their organization. Olmez Isah, 32, Hussein Tilmaz, 31, and Hussein Kiliz, 34, said they were members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a Marxist group also known as Dev Sol. A Kurd member of the group, Ibrahim Dokan, 28, was found murdered in an infirmary near Athens on August 11. He was being treated for injuries suffered under torture in Turkey. (31/8) Tourist coaches. Owners of the country’s tour buses have decided to begin an indefinite strike on September 5. In a statement on Thursday, following a meeting in which three federations covering 30 unions agreed on the strike, the bus owners complained that the Development Ministry (which is in charge of tourism) was doing nothing to help solve their problems. At the same time, a new bill on mass transportation that is being prepared will increase their problems, they say. If the government goes ahead with its intentions, tour buses, which were obtained without the slightest financial support from the government, will, in effect, be wiped out, the statement said. (31/8) And now the day that we have all been waiting for, since the Church of Greece decided to hold a petition for a referendum on the identity card issue, has arrived. Not bothering to conceal his pride over the fact that this number is 1,405 greater than the number of votes that PASOK won in the last election, Archbishop Christodoulos declares that 3,008,901 people have signed his petition. The people of God have spoken in a clear-headed and decisive manner, without any desire to enter a confrontation with the government, he tells a news conference. He speaks as if he is the winner of an electoral battle. Church leaders, crowing over the fact that they got more votes than the government, conveniently forget the fact that their petition went on and on, extending the original deadline so that even Greeks who live abroad would have the opportunity to sign during their Easter visit to their homeland. Anyhow, the gist of all this is that the government, secure in the fact that the Council of State has ruled that the option to record one’s religion on identity cards would not be constitutional, says simply that the issue is closed. – Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava unveils his plans and model for a pedestrian bridge over Mesogeion Avenue at its interchange with Katehaki Avenue. The model depicts something like an elegant Athenian trireme, with a tapering steel pylon reaching up into the sky, balancing with thick cables, as if it were a giant harp. In one of the most bland sections of a very bland, modern part of the city, we will suddenly have a daring landmark. – The Interior Ministry must have spies in every coffee shop, as it has suddenly got the message that in Greece we do not need any new laws, we just need one that will make it obligatory for all the others to be complied with. It doesn’t quite pass such a panacea, but it does add a new law aiming to ensure that new laws at least do not contradict old ones. Since the restoration of democracy in 1974, more than 2,500 laws and countless amendments have been passed. Most likely no one knows what on earth is going on. – The Greek and Turkish soccer federations announce that they have agreed to make a joint bid to host the Euro 2008 soccer championships. This is an historic moment. It also provokes reaction in Greece and Cyprus, with critics saying that it is incredible that while part of Cyprus remains under Turkish occupation Greece could consider such a partnership with Turkey. Maybe by 2008 we will see some genuine progress in solving the Cyprus issue. – UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan meets with Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in Salzburg, Austria, to try get him back to the negotiations aimed at someday solving the problem.