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July 31, 2016

Italy initiates €1.5million social media campaign to discourage migrants

Italy initiates €1.5million social media campaign to discourage migrants

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The Italian Interior Ministry has collaborated with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to produce an on- and offline media campaign aimed at discouraging refugees from entering Europe. The campaign, titled “Aware Migrants”, was launched Thursday, exposing high levels of violence and danger in transit, and discouraging migrants from attempting passage through illegal trafficking.

File photo of Angelino Alfano, 2015.
Image: European People’s Party.

The 1.5million campaign features videos on social media to target the 16–35 age demographic, believed to be most likely to attempt the move. The videos are to include testimonials from more than 150 refugees, citing rape, child abuse, and exposure as potential threats. Each video concludes with the phrase “Be aware, brother” or “Be aware, sister”. This slogan is also thematic in Malian musician’s Rokia Traoré‘s official campaign song: “Be aware brother, be aware sister”.

Italy’s Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano, said they will still welcome refugees fleeing war, but that others may be declined. Recent large numbers of arrivals and migrant deaths has been cited as the reason behind the campaign, with the Interior Ministry recording over 70,000 refugees arriving in Italy in the first half of 2016. Federico Soda, the Director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, asserts most of those migrants did not expect the level of danger involved in transit.

Migrants are invited to share their own experiences in response to the videos posted on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, in order to spread the warning to other potential migrants.



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April 3, 2013

Cyprus Finance Minister Michael Sarris resigns amid bailout talks

Cyprus Finance Minister Michael Sarris resigns amid bailout talks

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

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  • 3 April 2013: Cyprus Finance Minister Michael Sarris resigns amid bailout talks
  • 5 September 2012: Effect of sanctions ‘like war’ says Iran’s Ahmadinejad
  • 25 June 2012: Cyprus seeks EU bailout
  • 14 May 2012: Cyprus leader says no to second term
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Members of Committee for a Radical Left Rally protesting against austerity measures outside the House of Representatives in Nicosia, Cyprus in November 2012.
Image: Tco03displays.

Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris resigned yesterday due to public discontent with his handling of the negotiations over a bailout from international lenders and a state investigation into the circumstances that pushed the country close to a financial collapse. According to Cyprus based media organizations, Sarris has been succeeded by the current Labor Minister Haris Georgiades

Sarris attributed his resignation to the probe announced earlier today, admitting that he may also be targeted by judges as they try to find out why the country was forced to seek a bailout. “I believe that in order to facilitate the work of [investigators] the right thing would be to place my resignation at the disposal of the president of the republic, which I did,” said Sarris, who was appointed as minister only in February.

Sarris’s resignation came shortly after he signed a 10 billion (US$13 billion) rescue deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund that could see depositors with €100,000 lose up to 60% of their savings. An earlier version of the deal, which called for all Cypriot bank depositors to sacrifice part of their savings, was later scrapped following a wave of popular outrage.

The bailout deal includes measures that strip Cyprus of its status as a financial hub and force the local government to impose limits on cash transfers lest depositors try to channel their money to banks abroad.



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June 25, 2012

Cyprus seeks EU bailout

Cyprus seeks EU bailout – Wikinews, the free news source

Cyprus seeks EU bailout

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Monday, June 25, 2012

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Cyprus today became the fifth member state to seek access to funds from the European Union’s bailout fund. The Cypriots join Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and neighbours Greece.

The move was triggered after the Cyprus Popular Bank, the nation’s second-largest bank, asked the government for recapitalisation. The bank has been hit hard, as has the wider Cypriot banking sector, by exposure to Greek economics. A Greek restructure of 200 billion in debt has caused the bank a €3.65 billion loss, and money is being lost on loans domestically and to Greek customers.

Christofias meeting with Dmitry Medvedev of Russia in 2008. Russia has lent Cyprus money before and may do so again to alleviate the island nation’s problems.

Cyprus Popular Bank chairman Michalis Sarris today revealed talks are also underway with China about a possible loan. Low taxes and regulation have attracted large amounts of foreign money to Cyprus, including much Russian money, producing a banking sector far larger than most nations that size. Russia and China are both viewed by officials as possibilities to seek loans from, and Russia last year agreed to a €2.5 billion loan to allow Cypriot financial restructuring.

The bailout request comes within days of Cypriot president Demetris Christofias giving an interview to Greek newspaper To Vima in which the EU’s only communist leader criticised international bailout policies. He complained the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund acted like a “colonial force” by forcing nations receiving bailouts to agree to austerity measures.

Cyprus, due to take over the rotating EU presidency this week, hopes to limit the scope of its bailout to the banking sector. This is similar to Spain, and unlike the other bailed-out nations. Ratings agency Fitch today relegated Cyprus to “junk”, a reflection of how much money may be required.

“The purpose of the required assistance is to contain the risks to the Cypriot economy, notably those arising from the negative spillover effects through its financial sector, due to its large exposure in the Greek economy,” read a government statement. Former President George Vasiliou, an economist, recently claimed markets were failing to recognise the differences between Greece and Cyprus: “Cyprus’s problems are the result of a Greek tragedy, and the ratings agencies are not distinguishing between Greek-speaking people, whether we are in Athens or Nicosia“.

Cyprus has recently discovered large natural gas fields, and unemployment at 10% is below the likes of Greece (22%) and Spain (24%). Cypriot officials predict a growth in the economy, although the International Monetary Fund expects a contraction. There are also concerns a Greek withdrawal from the euro would damage confidence in investors, but Vasiliou predicts “if Greece has to exit the euro, it will not be the end of Cyprus.”



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May 14, 2012

Cyprus leader says no to second term

Cyprus leader says no to second term – Wikinews, the free news source

Cyprus leader says no to second term

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Greek Cyprus President Demetris Christofias started his first term in 2008.

Cypriot President Demetris Christofias announced today he will not run for a second term to represent the Republic of Cyprus, which is the Greek portion of the island.

The president cited the lack of progress in talks with the Turks over the Turkish-Greek Cypriot conflict as his main reason for stepping aside. In a televised national address, Christofias said, “A realistic analysis of the facts leads to the conclusion that there are no real hopes for either resolving the Cyprus issue or achieving substantial progress in the remaining months of my presidency.”

The United Nations had recently pulled out of hosting talks between the two parties because of the lack of progress.

Christofias said, “Taking as a fact that the Cyprus problem has not been solved and there does not appear to be definitive progress in the next few months … I will not seek re-election as president of the Republic of Cyprus.”

Christofias is making good on a campaign promise that if he was not able to make progress on resolving the conflict that he would step aside. The issue on UN reunification talks with the Turks divided Christofias and former president Tassos Papadopoulos in the 2008 election.

Every president of the Republic since independence in 1960 has sought a second term of office.

The island of Cyprus has been divided into two sectors since a coup by Greek unionists in 1974 was followed in response by a Turkish military invasion.



Related news

  • Ban Ki-Moon says Cyprus solution “possible”” — Wikinews, February 1, 2010
  • “Papadopoulos eliminated in Cypriot election” — Wikinews, February 17, 2008
  • “Greek-Cypriots vote for President” — Wikinews, February 17, 2008

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December 22, 2011

Cypriot court clears all of wrongdoing in Greek air disaster

Cypriot court clears all of wrongdoing in Greek air disaster

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cyprus
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  • 3 September 2013: Airlines plan reroutes around Syria as potential for US military intervention increases
  • 3 April 2013: Cyprus Finance Minister Michael Sarris resigns amid bailout talks
  • 5 September 2012: Effect of sanctions ‘like war’ says Iran’s Ahmadinejad
  • 25 June 2012: Cyprus seeks EU bailout
  • 14 May 2012: Cyprus leader says no to second term
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This computer generated image shows the unresponsive aircraft being shadowed by Greek fighter jets.
Image: Anynobody.

A two-year trial concluded yesterday in Cyprus with the court in Nicosia clearing former senior staff of Helios Airways of manslaughter. They, alongside the defunct airline, had been accused of responsibility for killing 119 in a crash near Athens.

All 121 on board Flight 522 were killed but the prosecution did not charge manslaughter in relation to the two flight crew, deeming them partially responsible for their own deaths. The accident remains the worst air disaster to befall both Greece and Cyprus. Most victims were Cypriot tourists.

The Cypriot jet left Larnaca on August 14, 2005. It was headed for Prague in the Czech Republic. Contact was quickly lost with the aircraft, which flew itself as far as the Greek capital on autopilot.

The Boeing 737‘s pressurisation system is believed to have been incorrectly set by maintenance and oxygen starvation had knocked out German Captain Hans-Jurgen Merten and Cypriot co-pilot Pambos Charalambous. They never checked the system before takeoff, which had undergone testing prior to flight.

An alarm had sounded both on the ground and in the air but had been ignored by those flying, as the same alarm was used for a different problem and the pilots therefore misinterpreted the alarm. This design would later be cited by victims’ relatives in a civil case against Boeing.

As the unresponsive jet entered Greek airspace two F-16 fighter jets intercepted. The air force reported back that the civilian craft’s pilots were slumped over the controls. Passengers were similarly incapacitated. The plane reached Athens International Airport — an intermediate stop in Athens was planned — by itself and then began circling the area awaiting human input.

That input eventually came in the form of a trainee pilot working on-board as a flight attendant. Investigators believe Andreas Prodromou had used multiple crew oxygen cylinders to be the last conscious person on board. The fighter pilots were able to watch him enter the cockpit.

Map of the flight path.
Image: Mysid.

F-16 pilot Panayiotis Athanasopoulos was the last person to see Prodromou alive. He previously told the trial of initially receiving no response when signalling the jet in an attempt to get the pilots to follow him, then discovering the flight crew unconscious. The captain was out of sight. He testified he also signalled people wearing oxygen masks in the passenger cabin with similar lack of response. Prodromou, 25, entered the cockpit as the jet began losing altitude.

After trying but failing to resuscitate Merten, the fighter pilots saw the trainee pilot take over the controls himself in a bid to save the plane. He was out of time. By then the aircraft had been in the air for two hours, and it ran out of fuel before it could reach the runway. Although many were deeply comatose from lack of oxygen, everyone on board was still alive when the plane crashed into a mountain at Grammatiko, north of Athens.

Athanasopoulos says he gesticulated to Proprodomou and signalled him to land upon getting his attention. The trainee pilot simply pointed downwards, after which he “looked ahead and did not look towards me again as the plane went down”. The airliner struck the ground levelly on its underside after straightening out moments before impact. It was torn apart.

The following year saw an air accident report primarily citing human error, and an inquiry by ex-Judge Panayiotis Kallis. The Kallis report was never made public. Helios, which was renamed Ajet Airways, closed down in 2006. Helios and Boeing were sued by victims’ relatives; they sought 76 million but reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum. The accident report had also blamed Boeing for an “ineffectiveness of measures” over the dual-purpose alarm system.

The five defendants were charged in 2008. The defunct airline and four senior staff members each faced 119 counts of manslaughter, and alternative counts of causing death by a reckless, thoughtless or dangerous act. This gave a total of 1,190 charges. Manslaughter carries a potential life sentence with up to four years available on the lesser charge. “The charges concern two of the three most serious offences under the Cyprus penal code,” deputy attorney general Akis Papasavvas said at the time.

The prosecution case was that the pilots were unfit to fly and the defendants were negligent in letting them at the controls. The state prosecutor therefore needed to prove the actions of Merten and Charalambous caused the disaster, as well as that those in the dock were responsible for their employment and aware — or ought to have been aware — of inadequacies in their competence.

The prosecution had noted the accused failed to seek references from Jet2, Merten’s last employer. He lost that job owing to failings in his duties and was later the subject of Helios co-pilots’ complaints. Charalambous was considered unlikely to achieve promotion to pilot and his ability to handle stress was questioned at trial.

A file photo of the aircraft from less than a year before it crashed.
Image: Alan Lebeda.

In reaching a majority decision, two of the three judges noted Helios chief executive Andreas Drakos and managing director Demetris Pantazis would be acquitted even if the prosecution proved its case as they were not responsible for employing the pair. This fell to co-accused operations manager George Kikkides and chief pilot Ianko Stoimenov.

In any event, the verdict described “a dead-end for any procedure of identifying the competence of Merten” with only Jet2 among his previous employers being known to have a negative view of him. Subsequent official evaluations rated both him and Charalambous suitably competent to fly.

“The lack of any causal association between the defendants and the negligence they were charged with for the fatal accident completely disconnects the defendants with the accident,” said the 170-page verdict. “Regardless… [of] how the charges are viewed, they remain groundless and without supporting evidence. It’s judged that this reason is sufficient to dismiss all charges and acquit all defendants.”

Assize Court President Charis Solomonides read the decision: “we conclude, without reservation, that no case has been proven prima-facie against all the defendants in all the charges they face and therefore, all the defendants are acquitted and charges are dropped.” Solomonides made repeated mention of an inability for the prosecution to link the pilots’ actions to those on trial, and noted that therefore no assessment had been made of their performance that day.

Judge Nicolas Santis dissented. Nonetheless, he too had criticisms of the prosecution. He said they failed to properly define ‘competence’ and called very few experts to testify. Victims’ relatives shouted in the courtroom after he finished reading his opinion; cries included “killers!” and “is this justice?”.

Victims’ relatives had in fact predicted the acquittal and blamed the state for what they characterised as a poorly presented case. Relatives’ Committee president Nicolas Yiasoumis said “It was common knowledge that proceedings were weak due to the phrasing of the charges.” There were also renewed calls for publication of the Kallis report. Yiasoumis claimed the Kallis report reached different conclusions to those used at trial, and said “We did not believe they could be convicted on the basis of the argument that they had not employed the appropriate staff.”

Attorney General Petros Clerides initially said an appeal will be decided upon once the decision has been read, and that the Law Office was presently studying it. Yiasoumis said relatives may take Cyprus to a European court over the case once Cypriot legal matters are concluded. Clerides has now confirmed an appeal will be filed, which the prosecution has two weeks to do. He defended the performance of those who prosecuted “this titanic case”. The appeal would be to the Supreme Court.



Related news

  • Cypriot court begins Greek air disaster trial” — Wikinews, September 17, 2009
  • “Cyprus charges five over 2005 air crash that killed 121” — Wikinews, December 23, 2008
  • “Cyprus to charge five over 2005 plane crash that killed 121” — Wikinews, November 4, 2008
  • “Coroner makes first post mortems of Athens airliner crash victims; text message was a hoax” — Wikinews, August 15, 2005
  • “Cypriot plane with 121 on board crashes in Greece” — Wikinews, August 14, 2005

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March 19, 2011

US and UK forces join Libyan attack

US and UK forces join Libyan attack – Wikinews, the free news source

US and UK forces join Libyan attack

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

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After French aircraft began missions over Libya, attacks from the United States and United Kingdom have begun.

Upwards of 110 Tomahawk missiles have been fired by US and UK warships and submarines in the Mediterranean Sea. Targets include the capitol of Tripoli and military installations around the country. The attacks have been code-named “Operation Odyssey Dawn.”

In addition to French aircraft, David Cameron said that British aircraft are also taking part in airstrikes. Cameron said that “Gaddafi has made this happen. He has lied to the international community. He has promised a ceasefire. He has broken that ceasefire. He continues to brutalise his own people. The time for action has come.”

Gaddafi has issued a letter to several international leaders in which he said that “Libya is not yours. Libya is for the Libyans. The security council resolution is invalid. You will regret it if you dare to intervene in our country.”



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  • “French aircraft on flights over Libya; US missiles launched at targets” — Wikinews,

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March 17, 2011

UN Security Council approves Libya no-fly zone

UN Security Council approves Libya no-fly zone

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

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The United Nations Security Council has approved the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya after a vote on Thursday evening.

A meeting in New York City resulted in the approval of a resolution that would mark the beginning of “all necessary measures short of an occupation force to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas” in Libya. The vote on the measure passed with ten of the fifteen members of the Security Council in support and Russia, China, India, Germany and Brazil absenting.

The resolution had been proposed by the United Kingdom, France and Lebanon. In his remarks introducing the measure before the Council, Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said that “[w]e cannot let these warmongers do this, we cannot abandon civilians.”

Air attacks on government forces in Libya could take place within hours, flown by the French and British air forces, after NATO meets to review plans for military action.

In response to the vote, a statement aired on Libyan state TV said that “[a]ny foreign military act against Libya will expose all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean Sea to danger, and civilian and military [facilities] will become targets of Libya’s counterattack.”

Libya’s ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, also said that government troops planned to move against Benghazi Thursday night. “No more fear, no more hesitation, the moment of truth has come. […] There will be no mercy. Our troops will be coming to Benghazi tonight.”

The UK ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said after the vote that “[t]he international community has come together in deploring the actions of the Gaddafi regime and demanding that the regime end this violence against the Libyan people.”

In Benghazi, rebels celebrated the passage of the resolution with fireworks after a live broadcast of the vote was shown on an outdoor projection.



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October 4, 2010

Moderate earthquake hits Crete, Greece

Moderate earthquake hits Crete, Greece – Wikinews, the free news source

Moderate earthquake hits Crete, Greece

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Location map generated by the United States Geological Survey.
Image: USGS.

An earthquake hit the island of Crete in Greece on Sunday morning. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre measured it as magnitude 5.4, and reported the earthquake occurred at a depth of 60 kilometers, 132 kilometers southeast of Iraklion. The earthquake took place at 18:21:01 local time (15:21:01 UTC).

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the earthquake had a magnitude of 5.0, and that it occurred at a depth of 28.8 kilometers.

According to the USGS, the epicenter was centered 125 kilometers east-southeast of Iraklion, Crete; 220 kilometers southwest of Rodos, Dodecanese Islands; 230 kilometers east-southeast of Chania, Crete; and 405 kilometers southeast of Athens.

USGS noted that an aftershock occurred at 15:35:36, with a magnitude of 4.4, at a depth of 35 kilometers.



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May 31, 2010

Nineteen activists killed by Israeli commandos aboard aid convoy bound for Gaza

Nineteen activists killed by Israeli commandos aboard aid convoy bound for Gaza

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