Tag Archives: greek

Children ‘dumped in streets by Greek parents who can’t afford to look after them any more’

Children ‘dumped in streets by Greek parents who can’t afford to look after them any more’

By Lee Moran

Children are being abandoned on Greece’s streets by their poverty-stricken families who cannot afford to look after them any more.

Youngsters are being dumped by their parents who are struggling to make ends meet in what is fast becoming the most tragic human consequence of the Euro crisis.

It comes as pharmacists revealed the country had almost run out of aspirin, as multi-billion euro austerity measures filter their way through society.

Athens’ Ark of the World youth centre said four children, including a newborn baby, had been left on its doorstep in recent months.

One mother, it said, ran away after handing over her two-year-old daughter Natasha.

Four-year-old Anna was found by a teacher clutching a note that read: ‘I will not be coming to pick up Anna today because I cannot afford to look after her. Please take good care of her. Sorry.’

And another desperate mother, Maria, was forced to give up her eight-year-old daughter Anastasia after losing her job.

She looked for work for more than a year, having to leave her child at home for hours at a time, and lived off food handouts from the local church.

She said: ‘Every night I cry alone at home, but what can I do? It hurt my heart, but I didn’t have a choice.’ She now works in a cafe but only make £16 per day and so cannot afford to take her daughter back.

Centre founder Fr Antonios Papanikolaou told the Mirror: ‘Over the last year we’ve had hundreds of parents who want to leave their children with us. They know us and trust us.
‘Over the last year we’ve had hundreds of parents who want to leave their children with us. They know us and trust us.’

– Fr Antonios Papanikolaou

‘They say they do not have any money or shelter or food for their kids, so they hope we might be able to provide them with what they need.’

Further evidence of Greeks feeling the pinch of austerity measures is the lack of aspirin and other medicines now available in the country.

Pharmacists are struggling to stock their shelves as the Greek government, which sets the prices for drugs, keeps them artificially low.

This means that firms are turning to sell the drugs outside of the country for a higher price – leading to stock depletion for Greeks.

Mina Mavrou, who runs one of the country’s 12,000 pharmacies, said she spent hours each day pleading with drug makers, wholesalers and colleagues to hunt down medicines for clients.

And she said that even when drugs were available, pharmacists often must foot the bill up front, or patients simply do without.

Meanwhile, talks about private sector creditors paying for part of a second Greek bailout are going badly, senior European bankers said tonight.

That raises the prospect that euro zone governments will have to increase their contribution to the aid package.

‘Governments are mulling an increase of their share of the burden,’ said one banker, while another said ‘Nothing is decided yet, but the bigger the imposed haircut the less appetite there is for voluntary conversion.’

A third senior banker told Associated Press: ‘Private sector involvement is going badly.’

There are suggestions in euro zone government circles that ministers are coming to the realisation they may need to bolster Greece’s planned second bailout worth 130 billion euros if the voluntary bond swap scheme, which is a key part of the overall package, falls short of expectations.

Stumping up yet more money would be politically difficult in Germany and other countries in the northern part of the currency bloc.

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Bible’s Authors Decoded

Bible’s authors decoded by computer

A group of Israeli researchers has built a computer algorithm to decode one of the most important books in Western culture: the Bible.

The results accord generally with the consensus of scholars that the book contains writing styles defined as “priestly” and “non-priestly.”

The scientists developed an algorithm able to analyze the writing styles found in different parts of the “five books of Moses,” or Pentateuch, that is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The algorithm compared sets of synonyms (called synsets) in blocks of text, along with “function” words, such as prepositions. It then looked at the distribution of the most common words in the Bible. By finding sets that were similar in any two blocks, it was able to group them according to the style they were written in.

The synonyms were identified using Hebrew roots that were translated the same way in the King James version, based largely on the work of the 19th century scholar James Strong.

Computer scientist Moshe Koppel of Bar-Ilan University, a member of the team that developed the algorithm, noted one interesting result: the synonyms for “God” weren’t that important. “Some of the (synonyms) that do the heavy lifting on the Pentateuch had been noted before by scholars, but the most famous synset — names of God — actually didn’t help at all.”

That may sound counter intuitive, but Koppel said there are about 150 different sets, so the fact that a word of historical significance doesn’t help determine authorship isn’t that shocking.

To test out the algorithm, the researchers used it to analyze two well-known books of the Bible, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who scholars agree had two different authors. They cut the text up and mixed them together at random. The algorithm managed to separate the two with near 99 percent accuracy, demonstrating that the method worked.

Koppel stressed that the algorithm can’t say exactly how many authors the Bible has (or doesn’t have). But it can say where styles change. That alone can shed light on debates over authorship. Generally speaking current scholarship divides the Pentateuch into two writing styles: priestly and non-priestly. The algorithm in most areas divided the text the same way, so that would seem to show that the division is valid.

But there was one big caveat: the researchers had to tell the algorithm how many stylistic “families” they wanted the text to be split into. While asking for two gave a result that agreed generally with scholarly consensus, dividing the text into more than that seemed to stray from it.

University of Pennsylvania professor of linguistics Mark Liberman, who wasn’t connected with the research, noted the big innovation was the use of synsets rather than just the location of words or their frequencies.

“The key to making such methods work is to hit on features (words or constructions or word-senses or whatever) that genuinely differentiate the authors,”
he said. “In their experiment on un-munging Jeremiah and Ezekiel, they found that word distributions did not work well; but synonym choice (as estimated in a clever way) did work.”

That could make the algorithm useful for analyzing other historic texts. Because it uses criteria not subject to interpretation. Ignoring what the writer “meant,” it can quickly zero in on what was actually written. It can also pick up more subtle changes in word use and distribution than a human can, since it can instantly check through hundreds of synonym sets.

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