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 41 
 on: Dec 18, 2014, 07:48 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Kurdish peshmerga forces launch offensive to retake Isis held areas

Two-pronged push was launched from Rabia, on the border with Syria, and Zumar, on the shores of Mosul dam lake
   
Agence France-Presse
The Guardian, Wednesday 17 December 2014 19.12 GMT   
   
Iraqi Kurdish forces launched a broad offensive on Wednesday aimed at recapturing areas near the Syrian border that have been held by Islamic State (Isis) for months, officials said.

Among the goals is the Sinjar area, which was home to many members of the Yazidi minority before Isis attacked in early August and forced most of them to flee.

The risk of a genocide against the Yazidis was one of the reasons Barack Obama put forward for launching a campaign of air strikes against Isis.

The two-pronged push was launched from Rabia, on the border with Syria, and Zumar, on the shores of Mosul dam lake, said senior officers in the Kurdish army known as the peshmerga.

“Peshmerga forces launched an operation to liberate some important areas in Sinjar and Zumar at 7am (04.00 GMT),” a peshmerga brigadier general said.

“The attack is ongoing and has the support of coalition jets which have been targeting Isis positions in Zumar and Sinjar (regions) since last night,” he said.

The peshmerga had already recaptured three small villages, the officer added.

The chief of staff of Massud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, said the aim was to reclaim the entire Sinjar area.

“The plan to liberate Sinjar was reviewed by the Kurdish leader and the peshmerga field commanders. God willing, we will liberate it soon,” Fuad Hussein said.

Sinjar was the scene in August of one of the most dramatic episodes of the assault on Iraq the jihadists launched in early June.

Isis fighters killed hundreds of residents, abducted and enslaved hundreds of Yazidi women and girls and forced tens of thousands of people to seek refuge on Mount Sinjar.

Civilians remained besieged for days in the searing summer heat with little to eat and drink.

The majority of those trapped on the mountain fled when Kurdish forces opened a corridor but, four months on, little has improved for those who are still on the mountain.

Yazidi fighting units that were formed in the wake of the August attack have struggled to control land in the Sinjar area and retreated to the mountain once again in September.

Their only lifeline has been army helicopters flying in daily with supplies and out with civilians who continue to seek refuge on the mountain as a result of Isis attacks on surrounding villages.

A few thousand people are still atop Mount Sinjar. Some are residents of the mountain but most are fighters, from various regional Kurdish groups or recently-formed Yazidi militias.

“We are ready, we are waiting for the advancing forces from Rabia and Zumar,” said Dawood Jundi, a field commander with the peshmerga.

 42 
 on: Dec 18, 2014, 07:42 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
All,

This, from an EA point of view, correlates to the fact that the transiting Saturn in Scorpio is conjunct the transiting S.Node of Mars in Scorpio. Methane gas correlates to Scorpio.

God Bless, Rad

 43 
 on: Dec 18, 2014, 07:40 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Snow Is Down and Heat Is Up in the Arctic, Report Says

By KENNETH CHANG
DEC. 17, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO — The Arctic continues to warm faster than the rest of the globe, and with greater repercussions, scientists are reporting.

The new findings appear in the Arctic Report Card, first published in 2006 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and updated annually. The report card catalogs the wide-ranging changes caused by the rising temperatures, in large part driven by emissions of greenhouse gases.

Snow cover, measured since 1967, was below average and set a record low in April in the Eurasian region of the Arctic. Sea surface temperatures are rising, particularly in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska, where the waters are warming at a rate of almost one degree Fahrenheit per decade.

The extent of Arctic sea ice, which retreats in summer, did not hit a record low in 2014. But it was the sixth lowest since satellite measurements began in 1979, and the scientists noted that the eight smallest extents have occurred in the last eight years.

“We can’t expect records every year,” Martin Jeffries of the Office of Naval Research, who edited this year’s report, said at a news conference here at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “It need not be spectacular for the Arctic to continue to be changing.”

With less sea ice and more open water, sunlight entered more of the ocean, leading to a bloom of tiny marine plants. On land, the greenness of the tundra continues to increase, the report said, indicating fewer snow-covered areas.

The decline in sea ice also diminished the number of polar bears in western Hudson Bay in Canada from 1987 to 2011, but populations appeared to be stable elsewhere. Polar bears rely on sea ice to travel and hunt.

In Greenland, scientists observed that melting occurred on almost 40 percent of the ice sheet during the summer, and in August, the ice sheet reflected less of the sunlight than at any time since the beginning of satellite observations in 2000. In a separate news conference, scientists reported that NASA satellite measurements have confirmed that a darker, less reflective Arctic absorbs more heat and accelerates melting.

The mass of the Greenland ice sheet, however, remained steady from 2013 to 2014, compared with major losses two years ago. The report card also noted the unusual jet-stream wind pattern last winter, often labeled the polar vortex, that led to frigid weather across much of the United States but balmy temperatures in Alaska.
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage

    Times Topic: Global Warming & Climate Change

The NASA reflectivity measurements found that since 2000, the amount of absorbed solar radiation in the Arctic during the summer months rose 5 percent. No significant change was seen for the rest of the planet. The Arctic areas with the greatest increases corresponded to the areas of declining sea ice. The change is equivalent to a 10-watt light bulb shining over every square meter, or 10.76 square feet, of the Arctic Ocean. In areas of greater warming, like the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska, the increase is 50 watts per square meter.

Many scientists expect the Arctic to become ice-free in summer by the end of the century, with some predicting that it could happen much sooner.

“I think the important point about the models is not to dwell on the fact that they differ, but it is to dwell on the similarities,” Dr. Jeffries said. “They all point in the same direction.” The decline of ice will continue to affect life in the Arctic. It will also open up shipping lanes and the possibility of oil drilling. “You don’t have to go to zero for these to become a big deal,” Dr. Jeffries said.

Year-to-year variability also remains large, so much so that it is not certain that the extent of sea ice will shrink in the near future.

“If someone asked me if sea ice is going to go up or down in a decade, I’d flip a coin,” said Jennifer Kay, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado. But she also had no doubts about the long-term trend toward a warmer Arctic with less ice.

“If it’s 30 or 40 years out,” she said, “I have no need to flip a coin.”

 44 
 on: Dec 18, 2014, 07:38 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Danger in the Skies as Russia, NATO Play Cat-and-Mouse

by Naharnet Newsdesk 18 December 2014, 07:06

Recent close shaves between Russian fighters and civilian aircraft highlight the dangers of the cat-and-mouse game being played out between Moscow and the West in European skies amid the crisis in Ukraine, analysts say.

In the latest incident, Sweden said Friday that a Russian military jet nearly collided with a passenger plane south of Malmoe shortly after take-off from Copenhagen International Airport.

Both countries called in their Russian ambassadors to protest, only to be told that a huge increase in Russian military activity in recent months was "a response to NATO's activities and escalation in the region."

Russia later accused Swedish authorities of being under the influence after smoking too much cannabis.

But such incidents are no joke for European authorities, with memories still fresh from the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine by a missile that the West alleges was fired by pro-Russian separatists.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has begun an investigation into a series of near-misses with Russian military aircraft not using the transponders which identify them and tell other planes of their position.

This practice is particularly dangerous, analysts said.

- Transponders turned off -

"While Russia claims that its military aircraft remain in international airspace, to do so while turning off transponders and swooping close to other aerial platforms is very dangerous," Brooks Tigner, chief editor and policy analyst at Security Europe, told Agence France Presse.

"That is disruptive to accepted international air safety rules and a risky game for Russia to play," Tigner said.

NATO aircraft, in contrast, usually keep their transponders on, he said.

"Safety is the top priority for aviation," the International Air Transport Association said.

"There are clearly established rules to ensure the safety of all aircraft when flying in controlled airspace. One of these is that all aircraft -- military and civil -- should have functioning transponders."

Russia and US-led NATO each stepped up their military activity and readiness as the Ukraine crisis plunged ties into a deep freeze reminiscent of the worst days of the Cold War.

A key development is that an increase in defence spending since 2008 has given Russia upgraded aircraft, said Douglas Barrie, military aerospace expert for the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

NATO has reported a "substantial increase" in Russian operations, with nuclear-capable bombers and fighter escorts out in force over the Baltic Sea and ranging far and wide into the Atlantic, prompting scores of intercepts by alliance aircraft along the way.

- Fears of disaster -

Video footage has shown some very close encounters and stoked fears of a serious misunderstanding or even a repeat of Cold War disasters such as the Russian shooting down of a South Korean passenger jet in 1993 with the loss of 269 lives.

Complicating the situation is the fact that because planes have avoided Ukraine's airspace since MH17 in July, air traffic in some other neighbouring regions has soared by more than 20 percent, according to Eurocontrol, the air traffic management organisation.

NATO foreign ministers agreed earlier this month that "at this time of tension there is a need for regular communications among NATO and Russian military to avoid any incidents."

"NATO military authorities should keep channels of military communications open and use them when necessary to avoid any possible misunderstandings related to military activities," it said.

The trouble is that Russia has not shown any interest in dialogue so far, the alliance said, and worryingly, there had not been any direct contact with Russia's top brass for more than six months.

Analysts said there is unlikely to be any immediate improvement in the situation.

"Russian and NATO aircraft have dogged each other for years but they always know where the other is because their radars lock on to the opponent with precision," said Tigner of Security Europe.

"This cat-and-mouse game is par for the course. The risk of escalation here is more political than military."

Source: Agence France Presse

 45 
 on: Dec 18, 2014, 07:33 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Erdoğan is crushing Turkey’s media in his bid for untrammelled power

The widespread arrest of journalists in Turkey has been condemned, but Erdoğan doesn’t care – a critical press is his main obstacle to re-election
   
Robert Ellis   
theguardian.com, Thursday 18 December 2014 11.44 GMT   
       
Sunday’s round of arrests in Turkey, which included the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s largest daily newspaper, Zaman, the head of a TV channel and other journalists, comes as no surprise, as President Erdoğan spoke on Friday of a showdown with government critics.

As I am a regular commentator on Turkish affairs in the Danish and international press – and a frequent contributor to Today’s Zaman, the English-language edition of Zaman – the government’s latest move comes uncomfortably close.

Zaman is considered to be the flagship of the Gülen movement, which has now been declared public enemy number one. Gülen-inspired public prosecutors and police officers have been accused by Erdoğan of forming “a parallel state” and attempting to overthrow the government, with allegations of corruption and malfeasance levelled against ministers and prominent businessmen in an investigation launched a year ago. In a series of reprisals, some 80,000 police officers have been reassigned to new positions, and on one day alone in June the same happened to 2,517 judges and prosecutors.

According to the Turkish Journalists Union, 845 journalists lost their jobs during last year’s Gezi Park protests, and in October a report published by the opposition CHP (Republican People’s party) stated that 1,863 journalists had been fired since the AKP (Justice and Development party) came to power in 2002. Now the turn has come to the Gülenist media.

Although I am not a member of the Gülen movement, Today’s Zaman has been scrupulously fair in allowing me to present my views without editorial interference.

The Gülen movement was instrumental in enabling the AKP to come to power and consolidate its grip on Turkey, but now Erdoğan has turned on his former ally, which has led to soul-searching in the Gülen camp and schadenfreude in other circles. Nevertheless, as columnist Semih Idiz has warned, now is not the time to try and settle old scores.

The EU Commission has in its latest progress report on Turkey noted that the handling of the corruption allegations raised last December raised serious concerns that they would not be addressed in a non-discriminatory, transparent and impartial manner. But that is the last thing Erdoğan intends to do. All charges against the suspects have been dropped and a media blackout has been imposed on the proceedings of a parliamentary investigation into the scandal.

Erdoğan’s aim is to gain a two-thirds majority in parliament in the forthcoming elections in June, which will pave the way to change the constitution in favour of an executive presidency and untrammelled power. The main obstacle is a critical press.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, and Johannes Hahn, commissioner for enlargement negotiations, have condemned the latest crackdown as “against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of”. Erdoğan, it seems, couldn’t care less.

 46 
 on: Dec 18, 2014, 07:31 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Geert Wilders on race hate charge over anti-Moroccan chant

Anti-Moroccan chant led by Party for Freedom leader in cafe in The Hague was broadcast nationally and sparked police complaints

Reuters
The Guardian, Thursday 18 December 2014 10.51 GMT   

Anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders will be prosecuted in the Netherlands for alleged discrimination and inciting hatred against Moroccans during election campaigning in March, prosecutors said on Thursday.

The charges stem from an incident in The Hague, when Wilders led an anti-Moroccan chant in a cafe, which was broadcast nationally and prompted 6,400 complaints to the police.

Wilders asked supporters if they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in their city, triggering the chant: “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!.” A smiling Wilders responded: “We’ll take care of that.”

In a later TV interview, he referred to “Moroccan scum”.

The prosecution statement on Thursday said Wilders, whose Party for Freedom (PVV) tops the opinion polls in the Netherlands, will face charges of “insulting a specific group based on race and inciting discrimination and hatred”.

Politicians may go far in their comments under the right to free speech, prosecutors said, but “that freedom is limited by the prohibition of discrimination”.

Wilders appeared unrepentant on Thursday, saying he had spoken “the truth”.

“I said what millions of people think and believe,” he said in a statement. “The public prosecutors should be going after jihadis instead of me. The PVV is the largest party in the polls and the elite apparently doesn’t like it.”

Prosecutors had initially appeared reluctant to press charges after losing a similar trial against Wilders in 2007.

Legal experts have argued they have a stronger case this time around because he specifically targeted Moroccans, rather than the religion of Islam.

Wilders, whose anti-Islam views have made him the target of death threats and who lives under 24-hour police protection, refused to respond to questioning when he was summoned by police to discuss the incident earlier this month.

He had said he expected prosecutors to drop the charges. It is not yet known when the case will go to court.

 47 
 on: Dec 18, 2014, 07:28 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
The Sochi Olympics legacy: ‘The city now feels like a ghost town’

The Russian winter games passed off successfully enough. But with Russia in political and economic turmoil, what next for the Black Sea resort – and its unfinished white elephants?

Shaun Walker
Wednesday 17 December 2014 19.41 GMT
The Guardian
   
The Winter Olympics in Sochi were meant to be the culmination of Vladimir Putin’s 14 years in charge of Russia; a sign that the country was able to host major world events, and the chance to create a world-class winter resort hub. In the end, the games were overshadowed by subsequent events in Ukraine, and Sochi itself was given a major makeover, but the alleged huge corruption involved in the construction and the “white elephant” nature of many of the stadia has left locals wondering if it was worth it.

That the games themselves went off more or less successfully was beyond dispute. The venues were impressive, even if the Olympic park lacked atmosphere, and the worries about excessive security proved unfounded. Dressing up the notoriously unhelpful and over-zealous Russian police in purple tracksuits worked a treat psychologically, and security procedures were on the whole unobtrusive.

Few athletes who made it to Sochi wanted to make an issue of Russia’s laws banning “homosexual propaganda”, and the games came and went largely without the issue coming up. It transpired that Sochi’s only gay club, far from being closed down by authorities ahead of the games, had been given preferential treatment by the mayor, who wanted to make sure it stayed open at all costs, to receive western journalists and gay athletes during the games and dispel the accusations of homophobia. The club, which features drag acts and is also popular among straight locals, remains open.

Russia was furious that western media made such a big issue of the fact that many of the hotels were not finished on time – journalists arrived to find the doors to their rooms being attached, or rooms with no heating, internet or phone reception.

Whatever the successes and pitfalls of Sochi, the Winter Olympics seem destined to be a mere footnote in the history books when people look back in years to come at 2014 in Russia. The games were eclipsed by events in neighbouring Ukraine: at the opening ceremony, Viktor Yanukovych was there draped in a Ukrainian flag, by the closing ceremony he had been deposed after snipers had killed more than 100 people in Kiev. Within a month, Russia had annexed Crimea, and any international goodwill accrued by the Olympics was vaporised and then some, as Russia and the west entered their frostiest period of relations since the end of the cold war.

Many Russian officials believed there was an organised campaign to discredit Russia over Sochi, and the lack of world leaders who travelled to the games was also seen as an obnoxious snub to Russia and Putin. More than one Russian official has suggested privately that if the reaction to Sochi had been different, Putin may have taken a less uncompromising line in Crimea and Ukraine.

When the Olympics left town, the next big showpiece event was meant to be the G8 summit in June, which would have seen Barack Obama and other world leaders travel to the Black Sea resort. Putin’s dacha is nearby, and he has hosted world leaders in Sochi for years, but holding the summit was meant to cement the city on the diplomatic as well as the sporting map. With the annexation of Crimea, however, Russia was kicked out of the G8, and the summit did not take place, and instead of G8 the town made do with F1, as the first Russian Formula One race was held in a newly built track in October.

Environmentalist Evgeny Vitishko remains behind bars, ostensibly for spray-painting a fence, though rights activists believe the three-year sentence he received was aimed at shutting him up before the Olympics and deterring others from protesting. Vitishko and a small, hardy band of colleagues had documented environmental abuses and official corruption in the run-up to the games. There has been no real investigation into the extraordinarily high costs behind the most expensive Olympics ever (most estimates are around the $50bn mark), which was widely believed to be down to corruption.

The main feeling for residents and visitors is that the spread-out nature of the stadiums and arenas, and the still-unfinished construction, gives areas of the city the feel of ghost town. With Sochi home to just 300,000 people, the vast majority of infrastructure had to be built from scratch. Whole residential districts were constructed. Many buildings were not finished in time for the games – and probably never will be.

However, with the deteriorating economic situation in Russia, there could be an unexpected bonus for Sochi, with the winter ski season in the nearby slopes shaping up to be better than anyone expected. With the rouble losing around 50% against the euro over the course of the year, holidays in Europe have become prohibitively expensive for many Russians, and skiing breaks in the Caucasus will be seen as an increasingly affordable alternative.

 48 
 on: Dec 18, 2014, 07:27 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Ireland’s health minister: abortion reforms ‘do not protect women enough’

Leo Varadkar would support extending access to abortions to Irish women with conditions such as fatal foetal abnormalities
 
Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
The Guardian, Wednesday 17 December 2014 19.01 GMT   
   
Ireland’s health minister admitted his government’s recent abortion reforms do not go far enough to protect women.

Leo Varadkar, who is also a medical doctor, said he would support extending access to terminations in Irish hospitals to women with conditions such as fatal foetal abnormalities but never abortion on demand.

Women who have been forced to seek abortions abroad, principally in England, have criticised their exclusion from the latest abortion legislation.

Varadkar’s intervention, which is highly significant given his seniority in cabinet and the Fine Gael party, came during a debate in the Dáil (Irish parliament) on a private members’ motion to further liberalise abortion laws and repeal Article 8 of the constitution giving equal rights to the mother and the unborn.

Terminations in Irish hospitals are limited only to women in cases where their lives are directly at risk if they go full term. The new law was also meant to include rape victims who are suicidal. However, earlier this year, a medical panel rejected pleas from a young asylum seeker to allow her to have an abortion in an Irish hospital. Known as Miss Y, her appeal was turned down even though she was the victim of rape back in her home country.

“Speaking as minister for health, and also as a medical doctor, and knowing now all that I do now, it is my considered view that the eighth amendment is too restrictive,” Varadkar told the Dáil.

“While it [the eighth amendment] protects the right to life of the mother, it has no regard for her long-term health. If a stroke, heart attack, epileptic seizure happens, perhaps resulting in permanent disability as a result, then that is acceptable under our laws. I don’t think that’s right.”

On cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, he said: “Similarly, it forces couples to bring to term a child that has no chance of survival for long outside the womb if at all. Forcing them, against their own judgment, to explain for weeks and months to all enquirers that their baby is dead.

“I have been present at stillbirths. I know it can be handled well and sensitively but I do not believe anything is served by requiring women or couples to continue with such pregnancies should they not wish to do so when there is no chance of the baby surviving.

 49 
 on: Dec 18, 2014, 07:25 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Swedish far-right leader: Jews must abandon religious identity to be Swedes

Jewish community leader condemns remarks by Sweden Democrats politician as ‘good old rightwing antisemitism’

David Crouch in Gothenburg
The Guardian, Wednesday 17 December 2014 17.19 GMT   

The leader of Sweden’s Jewish community has condemned as “good old rightwing antisemitism” remarks by a far-right leader who said Jews cannot be Swedes unless they abandon their Jewish identity.

Lena Posner Körösi, president of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, said the comments conveyed a message that Jews were untrustworthy and could not be considered real Swedes, “exactly like in 1930s Germany” from which her grandfather had fled.

Official Sweden and social media have been in uproar after Björn Söder, secretary of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats and deputy speaker in parliament, said Jews could become Swedish citizens but could not be Swedish unless they were assimilated.

Posner Körösi said the remarks showed “the mask is slipping” from the face of Sweden Democrats to reveal the essence of what they stand for.

“I am appalled that Sweden’s third largest party can express itself in this way about Jews and other minorities,” she said. “We have to take them really seriously. This not a small group of fanatics you can dismiss.”

The party took 13% of the vote in elections in September.

Söder claims he was quoted out of context. He also singled out the indigenous Sami people and Kurds in his newspaper interview, not just Jews. “Those who know me when it comes to Jews know I have long had a very strong commitment to both the state of Israel and the Jewish people,” he told Swedish Radio.

Söder had said in a newspaper interview it would be a problem if there were too many people in Sweden “who belong to other nations” and had non-Swedish identities. Paying immigrants to go home would also help to avoid “foreign enclaves” and instead “create a society with a common identity”, he said.

The Sweden Democrats have thrown Swedish politics into turmoil after they used their power of veto two weeks ago to block the government’s budget and force fresh elections in March. The party appears to be thriving on the sense of political crisis, with opinion polls suggesting it is set to increase its share of the vote to between 16% and 18%.

Last week the prime minister, Stefan Löfven, who leads a minority coalition with the Greens, accused the party of being “neo-fascist”. Löfven said he found Söder’s remarks “very, very scary”.

Söder faced calls from parties on the centre left to resign his post as deputy speaker. His remarks were criticised by a leading party colleague as “extremely vague”.

Sweden Democrat leaders have courted controversy in the past by claiming that Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s soccer superstar born of Yugoslavian immigrants in Malmö, was not truly Swedish. Niclas Nilsson, party leader in its southern stronghold of Kristianstad, told the Guardian last week: “Zlatan grew up in an area where there were not many Swedes, then he has moved from country to country, so he is a bit Swedish but also cosmopolitan.”

Willy Silberstein, president of the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism, told TT news agency: “I am a Jew, born in Sweden. I am as Swedish as Björn Söder.”

The Sweden Democrats did not respond to a request for comment.

 50 
 on: Dec 18, 2014, 07:22 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Greek election uncertainty fuels concerns over eurozone stability

Ballot of 300 MPs fails to yield clear result, with two rounds left to choose a winner and avoid eurozone instability

Helena Smith Athens
The Guardian, Wednesday 17 December 2014 20.55 GMT      

Early elections with the potential to destabilise the eurozone could be called in Greece next year, after the country’s 300 MPs failed to elect a president in their first round of voting.

In a ballot of MPs that disappointed government officials, 160 lawmakers backed Stavros Dimas, the conservative-led coalition’s candidate and former European commissioner.

“There are another two rounds ahead of us,” Antonis Samaras, the prime minister, said, emerging from the parliament after the vote. “I hold hope that a president will be elected. The conditions are difficult for the country, and I am certain that deputies are aware that the country must not enter troubled times.”

Earlier in the day, the embattled leader had warned that failure to elect a head of state could prove fatal for the country’s future in the eurozone.

“Tonight, the first vote for the election of the president of the republic will be conducted,” he had said in a statement. “A positive ballot by MPs should certainly not be considered as a vote in favour of the government but as a decision to defend the constitution and respect the institution of the President of the Republic.”

By electing a new head of state – and avoiding the general elections that would be automatically triggered if all three polls failed to back the government’s candidate – Greece would avert unforeseen political turmoil, Samaras said.

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