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Anti-whaling nations, including Greece and Cyprus, secure voting majority May 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Nature.
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The annual battle over the lifting of a moratorium on whaling has swung emphatically in favour of anti-whaling nations with the confirmation of Greece as the latest recruit to the International Whaling Commission.

A clear majority is again within grasp of opponents to whaling at the meeting of the commission in Alaska on May 28, when it will review whale conservation and management. Pro-whaling nations won an important symbolic victory at last year’s meeting, when, by a single vote, they passed a resolution saying the moratorium on commercial whaling was no longer necessary.

But a diplomatic offensive led by Britain to recruit more anti-whaling nations paid dividends in Europe, while environmentalists succeeded in Latin America. Greece’s membership was formally notified yesterday. Cyprus, Croatia and Slovenia, the other new European recruits, also oppose whaling.

So far Japan, the leading nation in favour of whaling, has failed to produce anything like the number of new pro-whaling members seen in previous years. Earlier this year the British Government formally appealed to non-member countries to sign up. The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said in a brochure it was a global responsibility of nations to protect whales for future generations.

The environmental group Sea Shepherd encouraged Ecuador to join. This capitalised on links between the two in the Galapagos Islands, where Sea Shepherd helps with fisheries patrols for the Ecuadorians. The dormant members Peru and Costa Rica are also reported to be attending the meeting in Anchorage, after paying arrears in subscriptions that would prevent them from voting.

On the pro-whaling side, only Laos is reported to have agreed to join the organisation at Japan’s request. News agencies reported from Tokyo that Japanese officials were unsure whether Laos would complete the formalities in time for the meeting.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare said that while it welcomed the revival of an anti-whaling majority, these nations would be unable to use their numbers to enforce a halt to Japan’s scientific whaling.

The fund’s Asia-Pacific director, Mick McIntyre, said a voting majority would prevent the whalers from shifting the agenda towards approving whaling. “It also means a three-quarters majority needed to overturn the moratorium on commercial whaling is even further out of reach,” Mr McIntyre said. “But it doesn’t do anything to stop Japan killing our humpbacks.”

Under the commission’s scientific research loophole, Japanese whalers plan to begin harpooning in the Antarctic humpbacks that migrate along the Australian coast in summer.

Highlights of the Euro Hit 40 May 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.
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May has become the month of the Eurovision Song Contest and it’s a tune from this annual televised music competition that highlights the Euro Hit 40.

The charts of 18 countries, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom, are taken apart and dissected each week to produce the chart known as the Euro Hit 40.

Many songs, particularly those that make the upper reaches in the chart are international hits from places like the United States and the United Kingdom, but there are also tracks from other countries, some of them in languages other than English. In Highlights of the Euro Hit 40 they try to reflect some of Europe’s homegrown music and musical styles.   Greece’s entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, on 10 and 12 May, was with the song “Yassou Maria”. As many of you will know, victory at this year’s song contest, the 52nd, went to Serbia, with Ukraine and Russia coming in second and third, respectively. However, this song from Greece notched up a worthy 7th place among the 24 countries in the final.

sarbel.jpg  Sarbel sang his way to 7th place for Greece

Greece was represented in the contest by Sarbel. Michael Sarbel, born 1981, represented Greece at the Helsinki Eurovision Song Contest with the song ‘Yassou Maria’. Michael, known professionally by the name Sarbel, was born and raised in London, England. Although he was the Greek representative at this year’s song contest, his roots actually lie in Cyprus, for his father comes from Cyprus, while his mother is Lebanese.

In his childhood in the UK, he performed with the English National Opera before he moved to the Greek island of Crete at the age of 18. His first major hit Se Pira Sovara came in 2004, since when he’s released two albums: Paraxeno Synesthima and Sahara. For more information on Sarbel, see the following external links >  



Greece’s transport sector a top energy user May 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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Energy use by the transport sector outstrips that by households and industry in Greece and it is at the top of EU league tables for percentage energy consumption on transport, according to a report by Athens News Agency on Thursday.

European Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs said on Thursday that Greece ranked sixth among the 27 EU member-states, with 39.3 percent of its energy consumption directed toward transport when the EU average was 30.4 percent.

The percentage of energy consumed by Greek households and Greek industry, by contrast, was 26.5 percent and 20 percent, respectively, with another 14.2 percent for other sectors, the Commissioner added, while noting that this was in line with trends in the rest of Europe.

According to Piebalgs, the figures run counter to generally held beliefs among Europeans, as recorded in a Eurobarometer poll last January, that industry has the largest share in energy consumption. This view is shared by 68 percent of Greeks that responded to the poll, who said that industry was the largest energy user, while 54 percent believe that more energy is spent on heating and only 38 percent believe the majority is used by transport.

Commenting on the Commissioner’s reply, Kostis Hatzidakis, European Parliament Member of the Greek New Democracy party, stressed the need for higher use of public transport in order to save energy. “The transport sector depends almost exclusively on oil, which is a source of energy with proven negative repercussions on the environment,” he said.

Pete Sampras wins his first ever game in Greece May 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Former world number one Pete Sampras has beaten Wayne Ferreira of South Africa to win his first ever game in Greece, where Sampras’s family is from. It was the first ever trip to Greece by Sampras and he won convincingly, 6-3, 7-6.

Sampras made his senior debut just two weeks ago and and said of the opening Athens Champion Cup game: “It could have gone either way in the second set. … You’d like to see a few more people but … the atmosphere was quite nice.”

The Champions Cup is organised by Jim Courier, and the Athens games mark the first time the Cup has ventured to venues outside the United States.

sampras_in_athens.jpg  Former tennis world No 1 Pete Sampras and his old adversary Jim Courier play below the Acropolis in Athens yesterday to mark the start of the Athens Champions Cup.

The tournament, which runs until Sunday at the Olympic Stadium tennis ground, will feature other veterans such as Pat Cash and Richard Krajicek. It is the first time that Sampras, whose parents are of Greek origin, has visited Greece.

Greece names squad for Euro 2008 matches May 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Greece’s coach Otto Rehhagel has called up uncapped Nikos Spiropoulos for the European champions’ Euro 2008 Group C qualifiers against Hungary and Moldova next June.

The 23-year-old full-back has enjoyed a fine season for club Panionios, who qualified for next season’s UEFA Cup by finishing fifth in the league. “I am happy because one of my dreams is becoming a reality,” he said. “It is an honour for every new player to take part in the national team. We have a long way to go but I believe the team has great potential and that in the end we will qualify.”

Greece is second in Group C with 12 points, one fewer than Turkey.

Full squad > Andonis Nikopolidis (Olympiakos), Costas Chalkias (Aris), Giourkas Seitaridis (Atletico Madrid), Michalis Kapsis (APOEL), Sotiris Kyrgiakos (Eintracht Frankfurt), Takis Fissas (Hearts), Yiannis Goumas (Panathinaikos), Loukas Vintra (Panathinaikos), Traianos Dellas (AEK Athens), Georgos Anatolakis, Vasilis Torosidis (Olympiakos), Nikos Spiropoulos (Panionios), Stelios Giannakopoulos (Bolton Wanderers), Angelos Basinas (Mallorca), Georgos Karagounis (Benfica), Costas Katsouranis (Benfica), Alexandros Tsiolis (Panathinaikos), Dimitris Papadopoulos (Panathinaikos), Dimitris Salpigidis (Panathinaikos), Angelos Charisteas (Feyenoord), Fanis Gekas (Bochum), Ioannis Amanatidis (Eintracht Frankfurt), Georgos Samaras (Manchester City), Nikos Liberopoulos (AEK Athens).