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Greece to get a second satellite system May 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV, Technology, Telecoms.
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HellasSat should soon expand further, say the Communications Minister and President of OTE – Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation. 

Greece is about to acquire a second satellite system, as Communications Minister Michalis Liapis and OTE Telecom’s President, Panagis Vourloumis, effectively revealed yesterday.

Speaking at the event held in Athens by the European Satellite Organizations Association (ESOA), Liapis called HellasSat a key tool for promoting the digital strategy of the government. He added meaningfully that the HellasSat company should expand its activities in the future.

Vourloumis expressed a similar view in his speech to ESOA members, saying that “in the future, we will seriously examine the option of extending our activities in this sector of satellites, either on our own or through cooperation.”

He then made it clear that this summer the HellasSat management will introduce a new business plan to the OTE board, including the proposal for the acquisition of a second satellite system. This plan, Vourloumis said, is essential for OTE in order for it to amortize its investment in HellasSat, as it cannot do so by itself.

Both Liapis and Vourloumis made positive comments about developments at HellasSat: “I should note that in the last few years, a considerable amount of work has been done at HellasSat, including its streamlining,” said the Minister, adding that the company has now begun to make a profit, enjoys international recognition and has clients in 30 countries.

In the same vein, the OTE head said that after some teething problems, HellasSat is now well-organized and utilizes 80 percent of the satellite’s capacity. He also noted that the company has further scope for growth. OTE will assess all its options, the purchase of an existing satellite system and cooperation with another satellite company, and choose the best approach. Vourloumis invited Liapis to help to contribute in that direction, for the country to benefit from the development of satellite communications. The Minister maintains the authority to approve any change in the share status of HellasSat.

The ESOA event, titled “50 Years European Union: 50 Years Satellites” took place in Athens on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first satellite, Sputnik, being launched in September 2057. The celebration of the anniversary coincided with the Champions League final beamed across the world from Athens via satellite.

The new ESOA President and HellasSat CEO Christos Protopapas said that more than 20,000 television channels, including 4,400 in Europe alone, broadcast via satellite. ESOA members also stressed the new role of satellites for the global awareness of broadband technology, as they are a flexible and economical means of broadcasting to remote areas. “The use of satellites is not restricted to broadcasting,” said Protopapas, as new technologies allow everyone to come closer to the Information Society.


New Athens metro extension opens May 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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The Monastiraki-Egaleo metro Line 3 connecting the centre of Athens with the outlying southwest working-class district of Egaleo opened to the public.

Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias hailed the project’s completion and the new underground mass transit link between the centre of Athens and its western suburbs.

The long-awaited expansion of metro service to Egaleo includes three stations, Keramikos, Eleonas, and Egaleo, while the 4.2-km-long distance separating with Egaleo with Syntagma will be covered in seven minutes and finally link Athens’ western suburbs directly with the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, Greece’s largest facility. 

In addition, noted archaeological findings during construction will be displayed at the Egaleo and Eleonas stations.

Souflias stressed that a 450-car capacity underground garage will soon be constructed under Estavromenos Square in Egaleo, while similar parking spaces will soon be constructed in Keramikos and Eleonas as well.

The expansion of the metro service to the adjacent Haidari district will be ready by the end of 2008, while an 8.2 km-long metro line expansion to the port of Piraeus, Greece’s primary commercial and passenger shipping hub, is also underway with seven stations planned.

After the metro service expansion to Piraeus is eventually completed, Line 3 from the airport to Piraeus will be 50kms long, while next year additional Line 2 stations in Peristeri will be ready, namely, the City Hall and the Anthousa Stations.

UPDATE > Friday, 25 May 2007

Confusion over metro extension > The extension of Metro Line 3 to Aegaleo was declared open by Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias yesterday but nobody seems to have informed the operating company, which said that it still needs to conduct a few more days of safety tests, daily Kathimerini reports.

Souflias visited Aegaleo station yesterday and told journalists that all three stations on the Line 3 extension, Aegaleo, Kerameikos and Eleonas, would open to the public today. However, moments later the metro operator, AMEL, issued a statement saying that commuters would not be able to use the stations until next week because safety checks had not been completed. To add to the confusion, the company constructing the extension, Attiko Metro, said that all the safety tests had been carried out.

The Public Works Ministry is responsible for overseeing Attiko Metro, whereas AMEL falls under the purview of the Transport Ministry. The project has already suffered several delays. Souflias said last year that the 553 million extension would open by April this year. In April, officials said it would open in early May.

UPDATE > 30 May 2007

The latest extension to the metro was opened on Saturday as the underground train line spread westward with three new stops added after Monastiraki in central Athens. The 4.2-kilometer extension includes three new stations, Kerameikos, Eleonas and Aegaleo, and is expected to be used by some 80,000 commuters each day. Metro officials described initial commuter traffic on the extension as being satisfactory but did not give any figures.

There was confusion last week over the opening date of the new line. The Public Works and Environment Ministry had announced the new extension would be operating as of last Thursday but Transport Ministry officials said that a few more days would be needed to complete final safety tests. The next scheduled extension to the metro is expected in late 2008 with the western line going one stop further to Haidari.

Related Links > www.ametro.gr

Toronto Festival welcomes European films > Eh! U Meet the Europeans May 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas, Movies Life.
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The Embassies, Consulates and Cultural Institutes of the member states of the European Union are proud to present Toronto’s 3rd Annual European Union Film Festival, “Eh! U Meet the Europeans” featuring acclaimed new and recent films from across greater Europe.

This year’s festival will be exciting, with entries from 23 of the European Union’s 27 members. With a line-up that includes an abundance of national hits, international successes and prize winners, as well as important first features by new talents, we are thrilled to illustrate the richness and creativity of European cultural life and to show a full slate of exciting premieres from across the Atlantic.

Greek filmmaker Lucia Rikaki will be traveling to Toronto, Canada, this weekend to present her latest feature, «Hold Me» at «Eh! U Meet the Europeans,» or the 3rd Annual European Union Film Festival of Toronto.

Starring Katerina Lipiridou as the 33-year-old Julia, Rikaki’s drama draws its inspiration from Internet blogs and is about a successful radio presenter who creates a blog, inviting people to share their stories of loss and, through the forum, tries to reach out to strangers, knowing that there is someone special to be found.

For the purposes of the film, Rikaki did indeed create such a blog and has selected stories posted by the users as the raw material of her screenplay. The plot takes a supernatural turn as Julia discovers that she has a knack for penetrating people’s thoughts and predicting their futures.

In «Honey and Wine,» Cypriot filmmaker Marinos Kartikkis also looks at the life of a woman haunted by her past. Starring Androula Irakleous and Elena Dimitriou, «Honey and Wine» tells the story of two women who forge a life-changing relationship after being brought together by a mundane event.

Both these Greek-language films will be screened among another 21 at the Toronto event. The festival will also include a panel discussion on Sunday on «The State of European Cinema,» to be held at the Toronto Goethe Institute. The panel is composed of Nicole van Kilsdonk from the Netherlands and director of the entry «Johan», Rikaki and France’s Frederic Schoendoerffer, director of «Crime Insiders». The discussion will coordinated by Angelica Fenner, film professor at the University of Toronto.

Come and enjoy 18 days of European Culture!
• All films in the original language, with English subtitles
• 18 yrs +
• Reservations taken 2 weeks in advance, tickets also available at the door
• Pay what you can, support the next EU Film Festival!

Screenings at >
The Royal, 608 College Street @ Clinton
& Goethe-Institut Toronto, Kinowelt Hall
163 King St. W. @ St. Andrew subway, 416 5935257

Related Links > http://www.eutorontofilmfest.ca/eu/2007/festival

The annual Hellenic Festival begins this month May 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Festivals, Hellenic Athens Festival.
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Greek National Opera bridges the gap with a production of ‘Carmen’ for today > Hellenic Festival opens with Bizet’s opera, updated and at a specially prepared Herod Atticus Theater 

Denyce Graves has been cast as Carmen for three of the production’s five evenings, June 1, 3 and 5. Richard Crawley co-stars as Don Jose on June 1 and 3. ‘Carmen’ opens May 31.

The annual Hellenic Festival begins on the final day of this month with a production of “Carmen” by the National Opera at the Herod Atticus Theater. The finishing touches are being put to the venue specifically for this performance, which appears to have received the mandatory approval of the Central Archaeological Council. Besides the May 31 premiere, a further four performances of Georges Bizet’s opera will be staged at the venue on June 1, 2, 3 and 5.

“We were interested in making the audience feel it is part of the action in the performance, as if they are participating,” noted the production’s stage and costume designer, Alison Chitty, referring to the changes made at the ancient venue. “We shifted the story of Carmen to the year 2007 to establish a closer relationship with our audience,” she added at a recent news conference, which included a presentation of the modified theater.

The stage has been elevated and extended forward to the fifth row of seats. The modernized production’s special effects will include a motorbike to be ridden by Carmen as well as the bodies of two cars, currently under construction.

According to the National Opera’s artistic director, Stefanos Lazaridis, the idea of staging an updated “Carmen” at the Herod Atticus was first contemplated a year and a half ago.

“I had thought about what I could do at the Herod Atticus. You’ve got to respect the venue for what it is, but you mustn’t use it like dead background,” noted Lazaridis. “A solution needed to be found. This wall that reminds of so much can be transformed in line with the nature and needs of each production. Carmen did exist. This is a true story. I felt the need to connect these different time-related aspects, a merger of now and then, the 19th century work, the ancient theater, and us.”

One of the most popular operas of our times, Carmen, a work far ahead of its time, was written in 1875 by the Frenchman Georges Bizet. The music and libretto conjure up two highly credible lead characters, the beautiful, fiery Gypsy Carmen, who defiantly insists on her right to make her own choices, and the respectable Don Jose, who is transformed from a tepid lover to a passionate and jealous man, unable to accept the independence of a woman for whom he has abandoned everything.

Denyce Graves and Victoria Maifatova will alternate as Carmen over the production’s five-night presentation. Graves is scheduled to perform June 1, 3 and 5 and Maifatova, May 31 and June 2. The role of Don Jose will be performed by Richard Crawley, June 1 and 3, and by Michael Wade Lee, May 31, June 2 and 5.

Related Links > http://www.greekfestival.gr/athens_fest/home_page?lang=en

Olympiakos to the water polo’s Euro Final Four May 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Aquatics.
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Olympiakos advanced to European water polo’s Final Four tournament with an impressive 11-9 away victory last night against Hungarian club Honved, one of the continent’s most respected and successful.

The Piraeus team went into last night’s second leg of this home-and-away quarterfinal encounter having defeated Honved by the same score in Piraeus. Defeat by a one-goal margin or better would have sufficed to secure Olympiakos its Final Four place.

Olympiakos trailed by a one-goal margin, 9-8, at the end of the third quarter, but kept a clean sheet in the final term and scored three times to ensure victory and its Final Four place. The Piraeus club had won the European title in 2002 after upsetting Honved in the final of a Final Four tournament in Budapest. To date, the achievement remains the Greek team’s only Champions League title.

Olympiakos took on Honved, a traditional powerhouse in European water polo, just days after triumphing in the Greek Cup with an 11-5 win over regional Piraeus rival Ethnikos.

With the exception of Olympiakos’s match-winning surge in the final quarter, last night’s contest remained an open contest. The Final Four candidates were tied, 3-3, at the end of first quarter. The Hungarians led 7-5 at half time and 9-8 at the end of the third term.

Visiting fans added zest to the city of Athens May 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Athens swayed to the song of vociferous supporters, here for the UEFA Champions League Final

liverpool_fans.jpg  Vociferous Liverpool fans of all ages in Syntagma Square warming up for last night’s Champions League final in Athens. AC Milan fans seemed happy to stay in the shadows.

Liverpool and AC Milan were roared on by their passionate fans at the Olympic Stadium last night in the final act of an exciting few days, after which Athens will feel a little duller. The city has swayed along to the vociferous fans, particularly those from England who serenaded Athenians with renditions of Liverpool’s traditional anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and the more recently adopted version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Street peddlers wore Liverpool and Milan colors to attract business and Gypsy musicians walked up and down Plaka’s pedestrianized areas trying to play Cash’s tune on their accordions, a true sign that visiting fans had injected new enthusiasm into the lifeblood of the city. The only disappointment was that more fans of the two teams could not have been inside the Olympic Stadium to witness the match. The two sides were only allocated 34,000 of some 64,000 tickets.

A 27-year-old Englishman was arrested yesterday after allegedly selling 28 forged tickets for 58,000 euros. Two French nationals were arrested in Athens while allegedly trying to sell tickets for 1,200 euros each. Police are also searching for a taxi driver who drove away with the luggage and match tickets of an English family after they refused to pay their taxi drive from the Airport to their hotel, amounting 90 euros. Also 43 VIP tickets allegedly went missing from a suite at the Inter-Continental Hotel.

It is estimated that around 20,000 English fans arrived in Greece without tickets. Many of them made Syntagma Square their temporary home and turned it into a poppy field of replica red Liverpool shirts. The square’s marble steps were wet from a mixture of beer and rain.

There were concerns that heavy drinking may have led to skirmishes between rival fans but these fears were proved largely unfounded. AC Milan fans also proved to be in good spirits and seemed happy to stay in the shadows.

Liverpool’s American billionaire co-owner Tom Hicks said yesterday that looking down from a rooftop restaurant on the singing Liverpool fans in central Athens and then looking up at the Parthenon, he realized: “This is as good as it gets.” Athens enjoyed the experience as well.

Greek PM signs pension deal with Australian counterpart May 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Politics, Vote For Return Greek Marbles.
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Greek PM seeks support on Marbles

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Australian counterpart John Howard yesterday signed a deal granting tens of thousands of Greek Australians who have returned to Greece access to medical benefits and an Australian pension.

“I believe we will resolve an issue which has been pending for decades,” Karamanlis said in Canberra, adding that “at least 60,000 ethnic Greeks will benefit directly.”

Karamanlis and Howard also discussed bilateral trade and education links and reaffirmed the strong relationship between their nations, forged during World War II. Howard stressed “the very deep ties that exist between Australia and Greece.”

Karamanlis sought Howard’s support for Athens’s ongoing efforts to secure the return to Greece of the Parthenon Marbles, currently in the British Museum. Howard said he had discussed the issue many times with British Prime Minister Tony Blair but stopped short of explicitly expressing support for Greece’s efforts. “Ultimately it is a bilateral matter between Greece and the United Kingdom,” he said. Karamanlis subsequently told reporters, “It’s a matter of reunification of a very important monument of global dimension.” “We will not spare any effort to communicate with all our friends in government, but also to the people, to reach a satisfactory solution,” he said. Earlier this week, Morris Iemma, the Premier of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, backed Greece’s efforts to retrieve the Marbles.

Karamanlis and Howard also discussed international issues, including Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and Greece’s dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) regarding the latter’s official name. Karamanlis expressed his gratitude for Australia’s support on “priority issues for Greek foreign policy,” including the problem with FYROM. It was unclear what comments Australian officials had made on the issue.