Greece on verge of general strike



A general strike in Greece is imminent after deputies approved a bill on the reform of the private-sector pension system, voting to raise the retirement age from 60 to 65. Socialist deputies and two independents late yesterday backed the measure, considered a key plank of the government's programme adopted in May to pull the country out of its financial crisis. The move was opposed by right-wing and far-left parties, including the communists. The new measure also requires 40 years of payments into the pension fund instead of 37 years previously. After yesterday's vote in principle, the bill was to be debated article by article before a second vote on the entire package late today, parliament's speaker Philippos Petsalnikos said. The prime minister George Papandreou stressed the importance of the measure, arguing it was vital for the viability of the current pensions system and to ensuring its future. A second bill proposing the same retirement age for public sector workers has been scheduled for a parliamentary vote next week, finance minister George Papaconstantinou told a parliamentary committee earlier yesterday. Both public and private-sector unions have denounced the plans, and have called a general strike and protests for today. Dozens of flights through Greece will be disrupted by the strike that will also paralyse other forms of transport and public services, officials said. Greece's main flight operators Olympic Air and Aegean will ground 34 flights and reschedule another 45, including to several international destinations, the companies said. A four-hour work stoppage from 7am GMT by air traffic controllers will also affect other carriers. "Nothing will fly during that four-hour period," a spokeswoman at Athens International Airport said. Ports will be closed, trains will be halted and urban transport in Athens will come to a standstill from the labour mobilisation which will also shut down banks, post offices and public services. Hospitals will operate solely for emergencies and no news broadcasts will be made as journalists have joined the action. The strike is the sixth this year against a broad austerity policy imposed by the Socialist government as it struggles to deal with a debt crisis that pushed the country to the brink of insolvency in May. The pensions reform was one of the measures required by the eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund in return for the 110-billion-euro rescue package for Greece that was agreed in May. * AFP

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

'Joker'

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix

Rating: Five out of five stars

'Will of the People'

Artist: Muse
Label: Warner
Rating: 2.5/5

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Spain drain

CONVICTED

Lionel Messi Found guilty in 2016 of of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying €4.1m in taxes on income earned from image rights. Sentenced to 21 months in jail and fined more than €2m. But prison sentence has since been replaced by another fine of €252,000.

Javier Mascherano Accepted one-year suspended sentence in January 2016 for tax fraud after found guilty of failing to pay €1.5m in taxes for 2011 and 2012. Unlike Messi he avoided trial by admitting to tax evasion.

Angel di Maria Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain star Angel di Maria was fined and given a 16-month prison sentence for tax fraud during his time at Real Madrid. But he is unlikely to go to prison as is normal in Spain for first offences for non-violent crimes carrying sentence of less than two years.

SUSPECTED

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid's star striker, accused of evading €14.7m in taxes, appears in court on Monday. Portuguese star faces four charges of fraud through offshore companies.

Jose Mourinho Manchester United manager accused of evading €3.3m in tax in 2011 and 2012, during time in charge at Real Madrid. But Gestifute, which represents him, says he has already settled matter with Spanish tax authorities.

Samuel Eto'o In November 2016, Spanish prosecutors sought jail sentence of 10 years and fines totalling €18m for Cameroonian, accused of failing to pay €3.9m in taxes during time at Barcelona from 2004 to 2009.

Radamel Falcao Colombian striker Falcao suspected of failing to correctly declare €7.4m of income earned from image rights between 2012 and 2013 while at Atletico Madrid. He has since paid €8.2m to Spanish tax authorities, a sum that includes interest on the original amount.

Jorge Mendes Portuguese super-agent put under official investigation last month by Spanish court investigating alleged tax evasion by Falcao, a client of his. He defended himself, telling closed-door hearing he "never" advised players in tax matters.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Jawan

Director: Atlee

Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Nayanthara, Vijay Sethupathi

Rating: 4/5

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

How tumultuous protests grew
  • A fuel tax protest by French drivers appealed to wider anti-government sentiment
  • Unlike previous French demonstrations there was no trade union or organised movement involved 
  • Demonstrators responded to online petitions and flooded squares to block traffic
  • At its height there were almost 300,000 on the streets in support
  • Named after the high visibility jackets that drivers must keep in cars 
  • Clashes soon turned violent as thousands fought with police at cordons
  • An estimated two dozen people lost eyes and many others were admitted to hospital 

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