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Greek Voting, Foot And Mouth, Flu Jabs, People On Bikes

  • September 17th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

eu-flag-reduced4.pngThe weekend has seen the government re-elected in Greece; British authorities handling the latest foot and mouth outbreak; some progress with bird flu vaccines, and a lot of bike riding to “save the streets”.

HONKING AND SHOUTING IN ATHENS

Sunday saw Athens going through some ritual election fever, cars honking and crowds shouting to commemorate the return of the conservative Nea Demokratia (New Democracy Party) for a second term of office.

The Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis emerged with a reduced, and narrow parliamentary majority; the opposition Pasok (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) also lost some ground — two left-wing parties and a small rightist formation the beneficiaries.

Nea Demokratia, elected in 2004, has overseen a period of strong economic growth and improving employment.

It received criticism for a financial scandal over management of government bonds, and for slow official responses to the recent forest fires in which 65 people lost their lives.

The party had a term in office, 1989-93, during the slow electoral decline of Pasok rule, under the late Andreas Papandreou — before its landslide election victory in 2004.

Turn-out in the election, called six months early, was 70%.

MORE FOOT AND MOUTH

British management of the latest foot and mouth out break is under critical watch from Brussels.

The highly contagious disease was found at a new site in Surrey (12.9.07); animals were culled and a ten kilometre surveillance zone set up.

Restrictions have since been eased (15.9.07) to allow controlled transport of cattle, pigs and sheep out of the zone for slaughter.

A senior European Union official has been quoted by the Sunday Times as saying the British research station where the disease outbreak is believed to have started would be examined to check on biosecurity standards.

The official praised the work of the station but said it should be closed if standards were not met.

HELP FROM FAR AWAY?

A veterinary team from Australia has been offered in case help is wanted with the foot and mouth outbreak this time.

The agricultural weekly, the North Queensland Register, says the Australian Veterinary Association has trained 100 practitioners to join an Australian Veterinary Reserve, to work on emergency situations at home and overseas.

BIRD FLU PROTECTION

Moving closer to health problems of the human species; researchers operating with European Union financial backing have reported promising results from their preliminary trials of a new vaccine for avian influenza.

They said (14.9.07) the trial of the H7N1 influenza (“bird flu”) vaccine showed it was safe and well tolerated in healthy volunteers.

The European Commission has also announced support for eleven new collaborative projects for work against the disease, to a value of EU 27-million (A$44.88-million; dcerates.com).

STREETS FOR PEOPLE

Car drivers are being urged to go by bicycle or public transport this week (16-22.9.07), as part of a world-wide energy and environment campaign called “Streets for People”.

It is being supported by the European Union and government authorities in Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Ecuador and Thailand.

Over 133 million people in more than 1,324 towns and cities are being urged to join car pools, or walk, or find other safe alternatives to taking the car – with cars in Europe contributing 10% of greenhouse pollutant gases.

Car-free Days are being planned for Saturday (22.9.07).

Reference:

Elena Becatoros, “Greek leader declares election victory”, Associated Press, 16.7.09.

Nea Demokratia (Home), http://eu.nd.gr/… (17.9.07)

Richard Woods and Brendan Montague, “EU scorns British foot and mouth errors”, The Sunday Times, London 16.9.07

“Australian vets ready to fight UK foot and mouth”, The North Queensland Register, Townsville, FarmOnline 17.9.07. http:nqr.farmonline.com.au/ … (17.9.07)

European Commission, “EU celebrates its 6th European Mobility Week: ‘Streets for People'”, 13.9.07, IP/07/1328. http://www.mobilityweek-europe.org (17.9.07)

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