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Greek Parliament awards software contract February 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web, Technology.
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Greece’s Parliament awarded Globo PLC a one year contract, valued at 622,000 euros, to provide specialised software, services and equipment to digitalise and document newspapers, maps, books and other documents for the Parliament’s Library.

Globo said the contract is part of a 1.7 million euros project with the Greek Parliament and said it will provide the services along with its partners, Greece’s Info-Quest SA and AMS.

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Eurovision Song Contest conference to be held in Greece February 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life, Music Life Greek, Shows & Conferences.
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The University of Thessaly, in Volos, Greece, is organizing a pan European conference on the Eurovision Song Contest this coming weekend.

The conference is expected to attract a large number of fans from all over the country and the University is going to provide international fans with the opportunity to watch the conference online.

The conference, Singing Europe: Spectacle and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest, is organized by the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology of the University of Thessaly in Volos, Greece, in association with the The Society of Ethnomusicology, Special Interest Group for European Music, under the auspices of the Benaki Museum of Athens, Greece. It will take place in Volos, Greece, from 29 February to 2 March 2008.

A multitude of speakers from all over Europe and the USA will discuss the various aspects of the Eurovision Song Contest. The conference will be streamed live through the University’s website so that fans from around the country and the world have the opportunity to follow the presentations.

More details on the conference as well as the full schedule can be found at > http://extras.ha.uth.gr/eurovision/en/index.asp

The conference will be streamed live at >  http://extras.ha.uth.gr/eurovision/en/live.asp

Greece’s Motor Oil expands Corinth refinery February 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Energy.
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Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth SA is expanding its 110,000 b/d refinery in Corinth about 70 km from Athens.

The company let contract to Technip for engineering, procurement, and construction management of a 60,000 b/d crude oil distillation unit to be operational early in 2010. It estimates the investment at €180 million.

The expansion follows an upgrade centered on the addition of a 37,000-b/d mild hydrocracker brought on stream in November 2005. In that project Motor Oil also added a 32,000-b/d gas oil desulfurization unit and a 65,000-cu m/hr hydrogen production unit. The new unit will expand the total capacity of the refinery to more than 170,000 bpd.

Concert dates trickling through February 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Prospective shows in coming weeks and months are breaking the silence of a subdued winter > Pivotal indie-rock act Kristin Hersh plays Athens’s Kyttaro on March 27. Sister act CocoRosie, an innovative and popular act on the indie-folk circuit, is expected at the Gagarin Club in Athens on May 16, less than a year after last summer’s well-received show. Mark Knopfler, the former frontman of chart-toppers Dire Straits, has been booked for the Lycabettus Theater on June 15.

It has been one of the most subdued winter seasons in terms of imported concert activity, a stark contrast to last summer’s loaded agenda of shows – perhaps too many, considering the domestic market’s size and spending potential. A considerable number of those summer events did not fare well financially, which has probably proven detrimental to the wintertime business aspirations of local concert organizers. Some announcements, however, have trickled through for the coming weeks and months. But, come summertime, it remains to be seen whether the concert agenda will be anywhere near as densely packed as it was last year.

Imminent events include performances by indie-rock icon Kristin Hersh, formerly of the Throwing Muses, Michael Nyman, best known for his emblematic soundtrack work, and the veteran act Marianne Faithfull.

Bookings for spring and beyond – concertgoers should remain apprehensive of date changes or even cancellations here – include the whimsical indie-folk duo CocoRosie, preparing for a quick return to Athens after a strong show last summer, the long-running indie-rock act Dinosaur Jr, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, as well as Mark Knopfler, the former frontman of Dire Straits, who has put out a number of worthy solo albums since the demise of his chart-topping rock group of the late 70s and 80s.

Promoters have also announced dates for three giants of the hard-rock field, the domestic market’s most reliable and consistent crowd-puller for entrepreneurs seeking a safer investment. The hard-rock parade is scheduled to begin on May 18 when Kiss, a sensation of the 70s that is still going, has been booked to perform at Terra Vibe on the outskirts of northern Athens. Then, moving well into the summer, the Karaiskaki soccer stadium in Neo Faliron, southern Athens, which is also developing into an arena-rock venue, will host a double-header with Def Leppard and Whitesnake on July 1. Iron Maiden have been booked for a show at Terra Vibe about a month later, on August 2.

Hersh, who fronted the Throwing Muses, a pivotal American indie-rock act of the 80s and early 90s and has since put out a number of interesting solo albums, performs at the Kyttaro club in Athens on March 27. It rates as a definite highlight, irrespective of the sluggish concert activity here this winter. Though her former band’s work did draw a considerable following, Hersh’s debut solo effort, 1994’s “Hips and Makers”, an eerie all-acoustic effort, sold more copies than any other Throwing Muses releases, mostly because of major airplay for the song “Your Ghost” a duet featuring Hersh and REM’s Michael Stipe.

Nyman, who has provided the soundtracks to films by Peter Greenaway, including 1988’s “Drowning By Numbers”, 1989’s “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”, and 1991’s “Prospero’s Books” as well as Jane Campion’s “The Piano” a year later, performs at the Athens’ Badminton Theater on March 4.

Faithfull returns to Athens after a number of shows over the past decade for a night at the Pallas Theater on March 13.

CocoRosie, a prime act on the booming indie-folk circuit, have been slated for the Gagarin club on May 16.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, regular visitors here for over two decades, are expected in Athens at the open-air Lycabettus Theater on June 7, for the final night of a European tour that begins in Lisbon this April. The act, which is now set to release a new album, “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” also plays Thessaloniki’s Lazariston Monastery venue a night earlier.

Cave’s show in Athens will coincide with a gig at the Fuzz Club in Athens by Dinosaur Jr, a band that helped bring back the sound of raw-sounding rock guitar when it appeared to be fading – at least in mainstream music – in the 80s.

Knopfler, the former Dire Straits frontman, has been booked for a night at the Lycabettus Theater on June 15. Last time he performed here was in the mid-80s, with Dire Straits when they had become international chart-toppers with the hit-laden “Brothers In Arms” album. These days, Knopfler has settled for less polish to his sound, with country-blues material dominating his song book. Knopfler recently released a new solo album, “Kill to Get Crimson” following 2006’s “All the Road Running” a collaboration with Emmylou Harris.

Retrospective-tribute to Peter Watkins February 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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A well-known voice of dissent will be heard in Athens this week, as the Trianon Filmcenter organizes a tribute to Peter Watkins from February 28 to March 6.

Over the last 43 years, the British director has directed groundbreaking, innovative films, ranging from nuclear nightmares to global poverty, using documentaries or fiction to criticize contemporary sociopolitical reality. Watkins’s consistent wary stance toward the media and their role has, unfortunately, kept his films generally out of the public eye.

Essentially a retrospective of his works, the Athens tribute begins with the celebrated “War Game”, an Oscar winner for best documentary in 1966, it was banned by the BBC for two decades, leading to his most recent work “La Commune”. Produced in 2000, the latter narrates the story of the Paris Commune government of 1871. Also part of the upcoming tribute are “Edvard Munch” (1974) and “Punishment Park” (1971).

Born in Surrey, England, in 1935, Watkins began his career in advertising as an assistant producer and turned to amateur filmmaking in the late 1950s. In the mid-1960s, he was commissioned to work on two docu-dramas for the BBC, marking the beginning of his subversive course in filmmaking.

The Trianon Filmcenter, 21 Kodringtonos Street, Athens, tel 210 8215469.

Wind Hellas to merge with Tellas February 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Telecoms.
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Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris has three main priorities in Greece.

The first is to acquire a small local bank that will assist cell-phone network Wind Hellas to develop mobile banking applications; the second is the installation of an underwater cable to link Greece with Egypt; and the third is the incorporation of alternative land-line service provider Tellas into Wind Hellas, a process that has presented more problems than originally foreseen.

Sawiris recently told Greek journalists, “We are negotiating with a small-sized bank in Greece so that, combined with our investment in telecommunications and particularly in cellular telephony through Wind, we can develop mobile banking services.” He avoided giving the name of the bank, but noted that negotiations may be completed soon. Possible acquisition candidates are Aspis Bank and Millennium Bank. He indirectly rejected the possibility of a buyout of Geniki Bank, which belongs to France’s Societe Generale.

On the underwater cable, he said it is a $200 million investment, estimated to be complete by mid-2009, with his company having already secured a license from the Egyptian government.

Sawiris also stated that Tellas is a strategic asset, but has not garnered any returns yet. The merger with will proceed, but Tellas will maintain its separate status and name. He added that parent company Weather Investment has become one of the biggest telecom groups, with about 100 million customers in its 10 years of operation.

Greek forests are thriving despite fire February 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Nature.
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The expanse of Greece’s forestland is increasing, despite the impact of last summer’s devastating wildfires, according to new research.

Natural regrowth has increased by more than 25 percent in the country’s forests, compared to a rate of 18 percent in the 1950s, said Professor Spyros Dafis of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University. “However strange it may seem, forests in mountain areas are becoming denser,” Dafis said. He attributed the development to the disappearance of traditional settlements and the tendency of farmers to feed their animals in stables rather than grazing them outdoors. “There is less pressure on these forests,” he said. The area of Zagorohoria, in northwestern Greece, is a good example: It was virtually bare in the 1960s and is now covered in greenery, Dakis said.

The same does not apply to forestland on urban outskirts, which is dwindling due to increasing construction – both legal and illegal. “Forestland near urban areas or tourist spots has dwindled significantly as the land there is very valuable,” said Ilias Apostolides, a forestry expert.