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Greek violin soloist triumphs in Moscow April 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Classical.
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Bravo to Greek soloist Leonidas Kavakos and Russian maestro Valery Gergiev for their Easter Sunday concert

It was barely a few seconds after Leonidas Kavakos had put his violin down when the audience erupted in a standing ovation. The acclaimed Greek violinist performed in front of a 1,600-strong audience at the well-known Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire, at the premiere of the distinguished Moscow Easter Festival on Easter Sunday.

The Greek soloist interpreted Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, accompanied by the Kirov Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater and the ensemble’s artistic director, world-renowned maestro Valery Gergiev.

There was more than the audience’s applause: At the end of a difficult performance, Gergiev gave Kavakos a hug, while the rest of the orchestra cheered.

Among those present at the festival premiere were Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzkov who ascended the stage to give Kavakos a bouquet of flowers, a number of Ministers, representatives of Russia’s Patriarch Alexei as well as artists. Sadly, there was no official Greek representative.

Just a few minutes after the end of the concert, Kavakos was very moved when he talked to the media. “What else can I say? I am so happy to open this festival, next to this maestro, with this orchestra and in this concert hall which is sacred to a violinist because if you think about who has performed here, Richter, Shostakovich, you are filled with awe.”

On the subject of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, the Greek soloist noted that while he has interpreted the specific work a number of times, the Moscow experience was unique, thanks to the orchestra and its maestro.

“Gergiev is a musician in the true sense of the word,” he said. “He puts his talent to good use by searching for the political dimension of music. He has managed to get Russian politicians to act, as well as a number of people around the world who support his work through major productions.”


Attempt to purchase protected island of Dokos April 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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A Cypriot business group is interested in building a tourist resort on the listed site, which has valuable archaeological findings

dokos_island.jpg  Dokos is situated between Ermioni on the mainland and to the west of the Saronic island of Hydra.

Unconfirmed allegations have surfaced to the effect that the small islet of Dokos, in the Saronic Gulf, accorded protected status because of the valuable archaeological findings there, is to be sold for a holiday resort, according to reports in Greece and Cyprus. Residents of the nearby island of Hydra are concerned, as are archaeologists who have been excavating in the area for years. Although the reports appear to be without foundation, they recall methods used in other similar cases, in which there was pressure to lift a site’s protected status for the purpose of profit.

Although the entire island has been declared a protected zone, from time to time proposals have been raised regarding its “development”, in the sense usually understood in Greece to mean unrestricted construction.

This latest rumor has circulated in a way that is customary in the real estate business: A Cypriot firm, the Kerlengou Group of Companies, released an interview with its CEO Costas Kerlengou in the form of a sponsored page in the Cypriot daily Phileleftheros on December 24, 2006. Among the business plans Kerlengou discussed was the purchase of islands in Greece by the group’s subsidiary, Kerlengou Island Investments Plan Ltd. The news was also picked up by other Cypriot media. Kerlengou let it be understood that negotiations to buy Dokos were well advanced. The story spread to the Greek media, where Dokos was said to have already changed hands and that plans were ready for a 12,000-square-meter development, including a hotel, bungalows, marina and other installations.

The case is not unusual, particularly with regard to the way business firms leak “information” to the media. Greek daily Kathimerini spoke to Kerlengou, who said he had not yet bought land on Dokos, but claimed that negotiations with some of the owners, who hold 20-30 percent of the island, were at an advanced stage. He said the owners had told him that building restrictions on the island were no longer in force. Nevertheless, he had not sought to contact the Municipality of Hydra for information on the island’s protected status. The Municipality confirmed that.

“There has been a rumor that the island has been sold, but no candidate buyer has contacted us,” said both Hydra Deputy Mayor Giorgos Koukoudakis and Head of the Municipal Council Panayiotis Markantonis. A lawyer representing one of the owners at a meeting with Kerlengou told Kathimerini there were reservations regarding the seriousness of the undertaking; that Kerlengou had told the media he had bought Dokos even before he had contacted the owners.

“It is not the first time efforts have been made to build on Dokos,” said Manolis Tsakiris, head of the Hydriot Seal, an ecology group. “In the past, a building cooperative took recourse to the Council of State to try and lift the protected status but was defeated. Six or seven illegally built structures on the island have been condemned but not demolished. Recently a road was bulldozed through the wood, but local authorities have done nothing.”

Oldest shipwreck in the world > Dokos is a small rocky island of 12 square kilometers lying between Ermioni on the mainland and the Saronic island of Hydra. Known in antiquity as Aperopia, it was inhabited from the Neolithic period (4th millennium BC) and flourished after the 13th century BC with settlements in the areas of Myti Kommeni and Ledeza.

Ruins of Proto-Helladic, Late Helladic and Hellenistic settlements survive, along with Hellenistic and Byzantine monuments. In 1975 the oldest shipwreck in the world, the second Proto-Helladic period, 2700-2200 BC, bearing a cargo of pottery, was found near the island at a depth of 15-30 meters, and was excavated in 1989-1992.

Tellas launches package for companies April 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Telecoms.
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Tellas launches package for small and mid-sized firms

Alternative telecoms provider Tellas yesterday announced the launch of a new version of its Zisto package of services, especially designed for small and mid-sized businesses.

The package, which costs 54.90 euros a month, including VAT, offers basic ISDN BRI connection, broadband DSL connection 4 Mbps/1 Mbps with unlimited e-mail accounts, and remote access to the company server. It also includes seven free hours of city calls, one hour of free long-distance calls and one hour of free calls to mobile phones.

Related Links > http://www.tellas.gr/page.asp?gid=1&arid=165&lang=1

Measures to boost Santorini tourism April 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Cruises.
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Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia decided to strengthen the promotion of Santorini to eradicate any unlikely negative effect from the sinking of the Sea Diamond cruise liner.

She told local officials that the Ministry will allocate 100,000 euros toward the Aegean island’s promotion, while the Greek National Tourism Organization will undertake all expenses for Santorini’s participation in tourism shows.

Palli-Petralia also said that she will send personal letters to all accident survivors, inviting them to spend free holidays in Greece.

British model of dealing with hooligans ahead of Champions League final April 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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British model of dealing with hooligans being adopted in Greece > Greek police working with Scotland Yard ahead of Champions League final

Surveillance of groups of soccer fans will be heightened during the Champions League final, but the tactics used abroad will be used here for local matches as well.

Greek police officials have been in constant contact with Scotland Yard recently in view of the UEFA Champions League soccer final to be held in Athens on May 23. The police forces of Britain and Greece have set up a special operations network to gather and exchange information on the profiles of fans expected to travel here for the event. The network is also designed to provide up-to-the-minute information regarding departures to Athens of British hooligans, who may not have tickets for the final.

These procedures have been adopted on a permanent basis as part of a European Union agreement on the operation of agencies dealing with sports violence.

The fact that hardcore British fans will be traveling to Athens, the frequent violence linked to soccer and the possibility that incidents may mar this international event, coupled with the tension in Greece following the violent death of a soccer fan in Paeania, outside Athens, last month, have put collaboration between the Greek and British police forces on a new footing.

Against the background of the upcoming final, Greek Police officials recently invited counterpart organizations in Britain and the Netherlands to train Greek officers in dealing with hooligans.

“There is close cooperation as we are adopting their know-how in combating soccer violence,” explained a Greek senior official.

The same source said that as the final draws near, Scotland Yard officers would be coming to Athens more often, and British police officers would be accompanying the thousands of British fans at the final. This tactic has been used for some time, irrespective of the fans’ destination, because of violence involving British fans in several countries. British officers have a better understanding of the behavior of their country’s hardcore hooligans and a clear picture of their organization, leaders and associated risk factors.

This is the tactic which the Greek Police have apparently adopted to monitor Greek fans, with the participation of a group of ELAS officers and former athletes. “We will have them continually in our sights,” said a senior officer.

“We are exchanging information concerning the degree of risk posed by individuals preparing to come to Greece,” the same source said. “British police officers will arrive in Athens several days before the final to check fans’ accommodation and arrangements for their transport to and from the stadium, in order to prevent one group meeting up with another.”

British police representatives confirm this. A report in last Friday’s Guardian outlines preparations by the Greek authorities for “an unprecedented security operation.” Merseyside Police Chief Superintendent Dave Lewis has already confirmed they would support the policing operation of the hosts should Liverpool reach the final. UEFA spokesman William Gaillard said, “If it’s an all-English match, then we’ll need advice from the British police.”

New hope for smokers eager to kick the habit April 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
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Smokers looking to kick the habit will soon be able to receive extra help from the Champix drug, which has already had a high success rate in helping people to quit in other countries, officials said yesterday.

Champix, expected to go on sale in Greece in the next few days, acts on the brain’s receptors the same way that nicotine does, according to medical experts. It produces an effect that relieves craving and withdrawal symptoms, while also preventing any nicotine inhaled in tobacco smoke from having a rewarding and pleasurable effect.

Sources said that the Central Health Council is considering placing Champix on the list of drugs paid for by state funds for certain categories of smokers. The drug is considered to be very effective among heavy smokers, where the success rate is above 40 percent. It will only be available by prescription and the treatment normally runs for 12-weeks.

Online gamblers caught in net April 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Police & Crime.
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State betting company OPAP made good its threat to use the police to catch people who bypass its services and bet directly with foreign gaming firms via the Internet as nine people were arrested in Arta, western Greece, authorities said yesterday.

The nine suspects include the owners of three cafes, where the illegal betting was allegedly taking place. The cafes had been installed with computers running programs that linked users directly with an unnamed British betting company. Police said the suspects encouraged customers to use the foreign site to bet on games that were also available on the OPAP coupon. The other six people arrested were customers who allegedly engaged in illegal betting.

Sources said that a referee who officiates second- and third-division soccer games will also face charges as he allegedly put the cafe owners in touch with the British bookmaker.

OPAP has a monopoly in the Greek betting sector and warned last month after the arrest of a man in Athens who was operating a sports betting portal that it would take legal action against similar intermediaries as well as the punters themselves.

“The only company with the right to operate betting in Greece is OPAP,” the firm’s President, Sotiris Kostakos, told reporters yesterday. “Some people are getting rich unlawfully while the Greek state hemorrhages.”

OPAP and the police estimate the illegal betting market to be worth almost as much each year as the legal one, some 1.4 billion euros.

British bookmaker William Hill last week challenged OPAP’s monopoly by applying for a license to open betting shops in Greece. William Hill maintains that under European Union law, other companies should be allowed to compete for business in the Greek betting sector. The bookmaker is poised to take its case to the European Court of Justice.

OPAP is confident that the Greek authorities will refuse the application, while Kostakos suggested that the EU refers all such matters to the courts of the specific member states.