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A Holy row at Mount Athos March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Fishermen, residents protest plans to bar port activity at Mount Athos

Dozens of fishermen and residents on Saturday blocked the port of Ouranoupolis, the gateway to Mount Athos on the peninsula of Halkidiki, to protest government plans to restrict activity in the European Union-protected zone.

Protesters lined up 30 boats along the dock to obstruct vessels taking monks to and from Mount Athos, complaining that the planned measures would put local fishermen out of business. Locals also allege that the monastic community has encroached upon public land.

Rehhagel opts to stay with Greece March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Greece’s most successful and longest-serving National Soccer Team coach Otto Rehhagel has agreed to extend his contract and try to lead the side to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The Greek Soccer Federation announced the news in a written statement on Saturday after its President, Vassilis Gagatsis, held talks with the 69-year-old German who guided Greece to their unlikely Euro 2004 victory four years ago. No further details of Rehhagel’s contract were made public.

The German has been with Greece since September 2001 when his first game was a 5-1 home defeat to Finland. However, Rehhagel’s impact was evident just one month later when Greece almost scuppered England’s plans for qualifying for the 2002 World Cup by holding them to a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

Rehhagel then led the Greek team to just the second European Championships in its history, before shocking the world of soccer by making it to the final of Euro 2004 and beating hosts Portugal 1-0 in the final. Greece reached the upcoming Euro 2008 tournament as group winners. In total, Rehhagel has been at Greece’s helm for 78 games, winning 43, drawing 16 and losing 19.

Olympic Flame handed to China amid protests March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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31-03-08_flame1.jpg  Actress Maria Nafpliotou in the role of a high priestess holds the torch next to the altar with the Olympic Flame during the handover ceremony at a stadium in Athens yesterday. More than 2,000 uniformed and plainclothes police were deployed in the capital at the weekend to ensure the smooth handover of the flame.

31-03-08_flame2.jpg  Greek officials handed over the Olympic Flame to organizers of the Beijing Games yesterday amid minor protests by a pro-Tibetan group. The ceremony was held at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympics were staged in 1896.

31-03-08_flame3.jpg  Hundreds of police lined the flame’s route, scores of security vehicles followed the torch-bearers and helicopters hovered overhead, the strictest security measures since torch relays were launched at the 1936 Berlin Games.

31-03-08_flame4.jpg  “In 130 days the 2008 Beijing Olympics begin. We and the other nations of the world look forward to this moment,” said Beijing Games organizing chief Liu Qi before accepting the flame. The Games run from August 8 to 24.

31-03-08_flame5.jpg  Protesters holding Tibetan flags and shouting “Free Tibet” and “China out of Tibet” failed to break through the police cordon and get to the final torch-bearer entering the stadium. Police detained 21 Greeks and foreigners for staging the protests but said they would be released later. Several others were moved away from police cordons.

31-03-08_flame6.jpg  Thousands of Greek and Chinese spectators inside the stadium watched as Greek triple jumper Chrysopigi Devetzi carried the torch into the stadium lined with Greek and Chinese flags. Greek Presidential Guards and actresses dressed as ancient priestesses looked on. On Saturday and Sunday, about 2,000 police were deployed around Athens.

31-03-08_flame7.jpg  The torch will be officially welcomed in China today before beginning a worldwide relay, the longest ever, 130 days and covering 137,000 kilometers. Most of it will be on Chinese soil.

Olympic Flame handed over to China > photo gallery II March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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30-03-08_flame8.jpg  Greek actress Maria Nafpliotou in the role of the high priestess lights the altar with the Olympic flame at Athen’s Panathinaic Stadium, 30 March 2008, during the handover ceremony.

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30-03-08_flame10.jpg  The altar with the Olympic Flame is seen during the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame to China for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, at the Athens Panathinaic Stadium, 30 March 2008. 

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30-03-08_flame12.jpg  The cauldron with the Olympic flame burns as spectators watch at Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium on Sunday, March 30, 2008. The flame was handed over to the 2008 Beijing Olympics organizers.

30-03-08_flame13.jpg  President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Minos Kyriakou, handed over the Olympic Flame to Beijings’s Organizing Committee.

Olympic Flame handed over to China > photo gallery I March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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30-03-08_flame1.jpg  Mayor of Marathonas Spiros Zagaris (left) kindles a torch from the Olympic flame basin during the sixth day of the torch relay of the Beijing Olympic Games in Marathonas of Greece, March 29, 2008.

30-03-08_flame2.jpg  The altar with the Olympic Flame is seen at the Athens Acropolis, 29 March 2008. More than 2,000 uniformed and undercover police have been deployed in the Greek capital to secure the official handover of the Olympic flame, which arrived on the ancient Acropolis in Athens yesterday, ending the Greek leg of the torch relay before being flown to China.

30-03-08_flame3.jpg  Entrance to the Athens Panathinaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were held.

30-03-08_flame4.jpg  Torchbearer Greek Olympic silver medalist Chrysopygi Devetzi holds the torch with the Olympic Flame at Athens Panathinaic Stadium during the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame to China for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, 30 March 2008.

30-03-08_flame5.jpg  Torchbearer Greek Olympic silver medalist Chrysopygi Devetzi holds the torch with the Olympic Flame at Athens Panathinaic Stadium, 30 March 2008.

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Olympic Flame handed over to China March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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Thousands of spectators gathered in Athens for Sunday’s handover ceremony of the Olympic flame to organizers of the Beijing Games.

30-03-08_panathinaic_stadium.jpg  The Olympic Flame has been officially handed over to Chinese officials. The ceremony took place at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, amid tight security. It comes as demonstrations continue in numerous countries over China’s deadly crackdown on protesters in Tibet. On Saturday EU Foreign Ministers agreed on a joint response. The bloc called for an end to violence and urged China to hold talks on Tibetan cultural and religious rights.

However, the Ministers avoided any mention of the Beijing Olympics or calls for EU countries to boycott the opening ceremony in Beijing. A small group of pro-Tibet activists tried to stop the flame from reaching the stadium but were held back by police. Demonstrations were also held in other parts of Athens.

30-03-08_athens_torch1.jpg  Thousands of Greek and Chinese spectators cheered as Greek triple jumper Hrysopigi Devetzi carried the torch into the stadium, lined with the flags of both countries.

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30-03-08_athens_torch3.jpg  Greek Presidential Guards and actresses dressed as ancient priestesses looked on.

“It was an emotional experience for me,” Devetzi said. “I hope the flame will bring light to all athletes, especially those from Greece and that everything with the Games goes well.”

The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Minos Kyriakou, delivered the flame to chief Beijing organizer Liu Qi. The torch later left Athens on a specially equipped Air China flight expected to arrive in Beijing on Monday.

Witnesses say the protesters, waving Tibetan flags and chanting anti-Chinese slogans, were arrested in Athens Sunday while trying to break through police lines to stop a runner carrying the torch from reaching the handover site. Hundreds of Greek police officers were on alert, after sporadic protests last week along the torch relay route from ancient Olympia.

The torch will be flown from Athens to Beijing, where runners will carry it across much of the world in the run-up to the August Summer Games. Pro-Tibetan activists have vowed to shadow the torch on its journey. On one leg of the route, the torch is set to pass through Tibet on its way to Mt. Everest. Human rights groups are demanding a ban on that part of the journey, until Beijing agrees to permit an international investigation of the Tibetan unrest.

More photos from today’s ceremony follow shortly. Stay tuned!

Hellenic parade celebrates Greek independence in San Francisco March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Special Features.
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Some celebrants were dressed like heroic Greek freedom fighters from the early 19th century. Others donned the colorful, festive costumes of traditional dancers.

The Hellenic Cultural Parade in downtown San Francisco on Saturday culminated a weeklong celebration of all things Greek, from music to politics, history, philosophy, religion and food.

Led by a contingent of police officers on horseback, the parade drew sparse crowds along Market Street on its way to City Hall, but the revelers’ effusive spirit and cultural icons shone through.

“This is our way to remember and celebrate,” said George Katsoulis, an Oakland resident who carried the Olympic torch in the ancient Greek city of Argos in 2004. “To commemorate Greek independence day in any way is an honor. The music, the dance, the remembrance of our ancestors.” Katsoulis strode up Market Street, holding two symbols of peace, an olive branch in one hand and an unlit Olympic torch from 2004 in the other. Christine Diacou Hay of San Francisco revealed her Greek roots by shouting “Hronia pola!” – or long life, to the torch bearer.

This year’s celebration marked the 187th anniversary of Greek independence, dating to when rebels began their fight for independence after centuries of occupation by the Ottoman Empire.

“It was the beginning in Europe of nations waking up to self-determination, freedom, choice and democracy,” said Metropolitan Gerasimos, the head of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco. Gerasimos, who leads 175,000 Greek Orthodox faithful in seven Western states, wore a traditional black robe similar to those worn by Greek clergy when the church was suppressed by the Ottomans.

Jim Vorrises, Vice President of the United Hellenic Federation of California, said: “Every year we celebrate the same event, remembering the fight of our forefathers to secure independence and freedom of the Greek nation. Those people had faith in God, faith in themselves and destiny.”

This was the 10th annual celebration of its kind in San Francisco, though others said the local tradition of marking Greek independence goes back for decades.

Among the highlights of this year’s celebration was a float bearing a replica of the Acropolis, or Sacred rock, of Athens, with four Greek muses in white gowns, smiling and waving to the crowd. Another float featured a mockup of a wooden boat, variously described as the ship sailed by Ulysses. 

Near the steps of City Hall, hundreds of spectators were serenaded by a vibrant Greek solo. Dancers in ceremonial costumes from the Island of Crete performed before a reviewing stand filled with dignitaries including Xenia Stefanidou, the Consul General of Greece in San Francisco.

“They feel proud of their ethnicity,” said journalist Savas Deligiorgis, who presents a Greek American program on KVTO-AM 1400, a San Francisco radio station, “because they always fight for freedom, democracy and human rights.” Ted Giouzelis of San Leandro, who was born in Sparta and raised in Athens, praised people of Greek ancestry as “hospitable, hardworking and lovers of knowledge.”