Government to announce in September Troodos communities development plan


The government of Cyprus will announce its development plan for the Troodos mountain communities in September, President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades has said.

Addressing on Thursday evening the "1st Festival of Friendship and Culture, Christos Lazaris", in Vassa Kilaniou village, the President also announced the government`s intention to make good use of the buildings of the Cooperative Banks to the benefit of the communities, for example by housing cultural centers or community councils. It is noted that state-owned Cyprus Cooperative Bank`s performing operations will be transferred to Hellenic Bank.

"I would like to assure you that the Government`s interest is particularly strong regarding mountain communities, small communities," he said.

In September, he added, "we will be in a position to announce the development plan for the Troodos mountain communities".

He said that through various infrastructure projects, the government wants to underline its interest in the revitalization of  abandoned communities.

Concluding, he made special reference to Chris Lazaris, in the memory of whom the festival took place.


Source: Stockwatch

Google staff demand more oversight of China search engine plan

Google is not close to launching a search engine app in China, its chief executive said at a companywide meeting on Thursday, according to a transcript seen by Reuters, as employees of the Alphabet Inc unit called for more transparency and oversight of the project.

Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told staff that though development is in an early stage, providing more services in the world’s most populous country fits with Google‘s global mission.

Hoping to gain approval from the Chinese government to provide a mobile search service, the company plans to block some websites and search terms, Reuters reported this month, citing unnamed sources.

Whether the company could or would launch search in China “is all very unclear,” Pichai said, according to the transcript. “The team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now, and I think they are exploring many options.”

Disclosure of the secretive effort has disturbed some Google employees and human rights advocacy organisations. They are concerned that by agreeing to censorship demands, Google would validate China‘s prohibitions on free expression and violate the “don’t be evil” clause in the company’s code of conduct.

Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability,” according to an internal petition seen by Reuters on Thursday.

After a separate petition this year, Google announced it would not renew a project to help the US military develop artificial intelligence technology for drones.

The China petition says employees are concerned the project, code named Dragonfly, “makes clear” that ethics principles Google issued during the drone debate “are not enough.”

“We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we’re building,” states the document seen by Reuters.

The New York Times first reported the petition on Thursday. Google declined to comment.

Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly, and their remarks at the company-wide meeting marked their first about the project since details about it were leaked.

Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects that raise substantial ethical questions.

Pichai told employees: “We’ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here” on Dragonfly, according to the transcript. He noted the company guards information on some projects where sharing too early can “cause issues.”

Three former employees involved with Google‘s past efforts in China told Reuters current leadership may see offering limited search results in China as better than providing no information at all.

The same rationale led Google to enter China in 2006. It left in 2010 over an escalating dispute with regulators that was capped by what security researchers identified as state-sponsored cyber attacks against Google and other large US firms.

The former employees said they doubt the Chinese government will welcome back Google. A Chinese official, who declined to be named, told Reuters this month that it is “very unlikely” Dragonfly would be available this year.

Source: Cyprusmail

Genesis Mining Compels Certain Customers to Upgrade BTC Mining Contracts

Iceland-based hashpower hosting service Genesis Mining is compelling some of its customers to upgrade their Bitcoin (BTC) mining contracts following this year’s significant cryptocurrency price decline, according to an August 17 statement.


In 60 days, the company will terminate services for open-ended contracts that mine less than the daily maintenance fee. Genesis claims that the downward trend of BTC around January and heavy decline in crypto mining in April and May resulted in a reduction of mining outputs.

If customers wish to continue using Genesis’ services, they have to upgrade their existing BTC mining contracts to premium five-year contracts. Genesis notes in the announcement:

“ a hashpower hosting service, we can only influence one out of the three main factors that determine mining rewards, and that is the infrastructure… The market price of Bitcoin and the mining difficulty are factors we cannot control.”

Genesis Mining was started in 2014, with locations in Bosnia and China. The company subsequently moved to Iceland and Canada due to the cold climate and cheap electricity rates.

In March, Genesis was issued a cease and desist order and asked to leave the state of South Carolina due to selling “unlicensed securities.” South Carolina demanded Genesis not only halt operations within its borders, but pay an “appropriate civil penalty for the wrongdoing.”

Since Bitcoin slid from it’s famed $20,000 peak last December, miners have struggled to stay above water as the combination of low prices and regulatory pressure continues to put a squeeze on the industry.

In June, Canadian provincial utility Hydro-Quebec proposed new rules, under which blockchain companies will be required to bid for electricity and quantify the jobs and investment they expect to generate per megawatt. The new regime seeks to allocate up to 500 megawatts, in addition to 120 megawatts of already existing initiatives.



Economy grows 3.9 per cent in Q2 – flash estimate

Cyprus’ economy grew 3.9 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of the year, according to a flash estimate published by the statistical service on Tuesday.

Based on seasonally and working day adjusted data, GDP the growth rate in real terms is estimated at 3.9 per cent, the service said.

The rise was mainly driven by hotels and restaurants, retail and wholesale trade, construction, manufacturing, professional, scientific and technical activities, and administrative and support service activities.

Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said the rise in growth in Q2 was a result of the hard work of the country’s productive forces and “confirmation that through difficult decisions, Cyprus remains on a course of stability and positive prospects.”

The minister said unemployment has dropped below the European average, disposable income, private consumption and investment are gradually rising, while recent decisive moves in the banking sector have bolstered confidence leading to three consecutive upgrades by rating agencies.

“We ought to continue the effort, collectively and responsibly,” Georgiades said.

Source: CyprusMail

Kontides wins Laser world championship

Cypriot sailor Pavlos Kontides has won the world championship for the second year running on Friday after winning gold in the Laser category at Aarhus, Denmark.

Kontides battled it out with Australia’s Matthew Wearn who was trailing by four points. The Cypriot only had to finish behind the Aussie to win the title.

“It’s a fantastic feeling. It was a difficult race against Mat,” Kontides said after the race. “I stayed behind at first but it didn’t get me down. I chased Mat and managed to conquer the title.”

Source: CyprusMail


Police warn of new cyberscam

Police on Tuesday warned the public about a new form of online fraud and extortion.

They said people receive e-mails where the sender claims to know and have access to codes and private information through malware.

The average person is usually convinced when the e-mail shows a password from one of their latest online website registrations.

The sender then threatens to release private information unless a large sum is paid in Bitcoins.

Police said users should never send money or personal data to any unknown individual and encourage the public to report all such incidents to the cybercrime unit.

Source: CyprusMail

AstroBank grows by 55% by acquiring USB Bank

In conformity with its growth strategy, AstroBank Limited announced that it has signed an agreement with USB Bank PLC to acquire the banking business including the staff of USB, excluding only certain assets. The agreement is expected to be completed before the end of the year following the necessary approvals from the regulatory authorities and completion of other formalities. The transaction will be financed from own resources and supported by a capital raise, primarily from AstroBank’s existing shareholders, currently at its final stages of completion.

According to a statement, with this acquisition, AstroBank strengthens significantly its position in the Cyprus market by leveraging the synergies it creates. More specifically, AstroBank, as a result will grow by more than 55% reaching Total Assets of more than €2 billion, with Gross Loans at €1.2 bln, Customer Deposits at €1.9 bln and Equity at €160 mln.

AstroBank looks forward to working closely with the management and staff of USB for a smooth transition and a combined effort, going forward, to develop the business for the benefit of the customers, the employees and the shareholders.


Source: Stockwatch

World’s largest passenger plane drops in to Larnaca

The world’s largest passenger plane, an Airbus A380, landed in Larnaca early on Thursday after departing from Denmark at 8.15pm the day before.


The plane, which ordinarily would be used to reach destinations far from Copenhagen, was reportedly used because tour operator Thomas Cook was left without an aircraft following a technical problem on the Greek island of Rhodes which left the operator short of a plane. The plane was leased from Hi-Fly, which is leasing it from owner Doric for almost six years.

While some airports need to upgrade to accommodate this type of planes, Larnaca is not one of them.

Though unusual, it is not the first time this type of plane has landed in Larnaca airport, a spokesman for airport operator Hermes said. “It happened a few times, and every time everything went well,” he said.

The Airbus A380 is a double deck four-engine jet plane. It has 550 square metres of floor space, and provides seating for 525 people in a typical three-class configuration or up to 853 people in an all-economy class configuration.

The service from Copenhagen to Larnaca would normally use an Airbus A321 with less than half the capacity of an A380.

Source: CyprusMail

Cyprus registers the largest annual unemployment drop in the EU

Unemployment rates in Cyprus further dropped to 8.2%  (7.6% for males and 8.8% for females) or 35 000 individuals, in June 2018, from 8.3% in May 2018 and 11% or 47 000 individuals in June 2017, according to eurostat.

That was again the largest annual decrase, (Cyprus from 11.0% to 8.2%), followed by Portugal (from 9.1% to 6.7%), Croatia (from 11.1% to 9.2%), Estonia (from 6.8% to 4.9% between May 2017 and May 2018) and Spain (from 17.0% to 15.2%). Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in all Member States. In June 2018, the unemployment rate in the United States was 4.0%, up from 3.8% in May 2018 and down from 4.3% in June 2017.

Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates in June 2018 were recorded in the Czech Republic (2.4%) and Germany (3.4%). The highest unemployment rates were observed in Greece (20.2% in April 2018) and Spain (15.2%).

Meanwhile the euro area (EA19) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 8.3% in June 2018, stable compared with May 2018 and down from 9.0% in June 2017. This remains the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since December 2008. The EU28 unemployment rate was 6.9% in June 2018, also stable compared with May 2018 and down from 7.6% in June 2017. This is the lowest rate recorded in the EU28 since May 2008.

Eurostat estimates that 17.105 million men and women in the EU28, of whom 13.570 million in the euro area, were unemployed in June 2018. Compared with May 2018, the number of persons unemployed increased by 4 000 in the EU28 and by 14 000 in the euro area. Compared with June 2017, unemployment fell by 1.657 million in the EU28 and by 1.146 million in the euro area

In June 2018, 3.415 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed in the EU28, of whom 2.412 million were in the euro area.

Compared with June 2017, youth unemployment decreased by 386 000 in the EU28 and by 266 000 in the euro area. In June 2018, the youth unemployment rate was 15.2% in the EU28 and 16.9% in the euro area, compared with 16.8% and 18.9% respectively in June 2017. In June 2018, the lowest rates were observed in Malta (5.5%), Germany (6.2%) and the Netherlands (7.2%), while the highest were recorded in Greece (42.3% in April 2018), Spain (34.1%) and Italy (32.6%).


Source: Stockwatch

Cyprus’ interests defended at International Arbitration Tribunal

The Law Office has successfully defended Cyprus’ interests in the proceedings commenced by Marfin Investment Group (MIG) against the Republic of Cyprus at the International Arbitration Tribunal, Attorney General Costas Clerides said on Friday.
Speaking at a press conference, Clerides said the Tribunal fully justified the positions of the Republic of Cyprus in the legal proceedings of MIG, Andreas Vgenopoulos and 19 other natural and legal persons from Greece, with which they were claiming compensation of €1.05 billion for the violation of provisions in the agreement between Greece and Cyprus for the mutual protection of investments, in relation to the former Popular Bank.
Clerides said the Tribunal ruled that the Republic of Cyprus had not violated any obligation emanating from the agreement and dismissed all claims. It furthermore ordered the claimants to pay legal expenses of €5 million.
Replying to questions, there was no right to appeal a ruling of the Tribunal, but only a mechanism for the revision of the decision for strictly restricted reasons.
He added that he expected the decision to be helpful in similar proceedings pending at the International Arbitration Tribunal.
Clerides thanked international law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom (UK) LLP, which took this very important case for the Republic of Cyprus in cooperation with the Law Office.
He also referred to the close cooperation between the Law Office, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance in handling the case and thanked everyone involved for their hard work over the past five years.


Source: Stockwatch

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