Fourth swine flu case in Greece (from NY)

The fourth case of the new H1N1 “swine flu” in Greece was confirmed by the Pasteur Institute in Athens on Friday.
According to the national Health Operations Centre, the new case involves a 23-year-old woman that arrived from New York on Thursday night having flu-like symptoms, such as a cough, aching muscles and a runny nose, while her fever was being kept in check by medication prescribed in the United States.
On arriving at Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos airport, the young woman acted on briefing material available to passengers and herself contacted the Hellenic Centre for Infectious Diseases Control, where she was submitted to tests.
After doctors obtained a sample for testing, they gave the young woman treatment and advised her to remain home and meticulously observe all the necessary hygiene measures. When the test result came back positive, they immediately sent a specially equipped ambulance to take her to the ‘Sotiria’ hospital in Athens, where she will be admitted for treatment and an epidemiological investigation.
In the meantime, the second and third patients diagnosed with swine flu in Greece, two travellers arriving from Edinburgh, are still in hospital for treatment but are considered to be doing well and will soon be discharged.
(source: ana-mpa)

Greece 2nd in Europe with clean beaches

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Greece is the runner-up to Spain, among 39 countries, in the number of ‘Blue Flags’ awarded for clean beaches, with 425 beaches and eight marinas this year receiving the prestigious awards, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature announced yesterday.
Blue Flags were awarded to 430 beaches and 8 marinas in Greece last year. They are awarded on a basis of 29 criteria including cleanliness of the coast and the sea, organisation, information, safety, and protection of the coastal environment.

Nia Vardalos and Alexis Georgoulis about “My Life In Ruins”

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We met the duo at the Press Day that Fox Searchlight had organized for their new movie, “My Life In Ruins”. We talked about being a tourist in Greece and the many restrictions that prohibit movie productions to go to Greece and film in the country’s monument’s, something that should change if Greece wants “more free publicity”.

Billy Zane’s New Hot Love-Making Scene

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Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu is going to be hot and bold on bed with Greek-American actor Billy Zane in a new Hollywood movie, titled ‘Chimera’ according to BreakingUpdate.com.

Director Tapan Saha and producer Daniel Silverman have approached the actress for their next film Chimera, which is a paranormal thriller.

Sources report that Bipasha has agreed to act in the film. Tapan Saha said, “Zane plays an American doctor, who takes up an offer in India to work in a hospital. There, he treats Bipasha. I’ve approached Shabana Azmi to play Bipasha’s mother. I’d want Anil Kapoor to play Billy’s Indian friend.”

Talking about the sizzling lovemaking scene, Saha said, “Bipasha has a love-making scene that Indian cinema hasn’t seen her doing before.”

Director Saha wants Anil Kapoor to play role of Billy’s Indian friend and Shabana Azmi to play Bipasha’s mother role.

Zane was born in Chicago, Illinois. His parents were Greek-American amateur actors and founders of a school for medical technicians.  His father’s family shortened their surname from Zanetakos.

BreakingUpdate.com reports that the flick is set to go on floors in July this.

Rachel Dratch Talks About “Her Life In Ruins”

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We met Rachel Dratch at the Los Angeles Press Day for “My Life In Ruins” at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hils. Her character in “My Life In Ruins” is an American who always thinks about America, but at the end Kim learns that the world is not just one country.

Journalist Lambros Papantoniou Passed Away at age 63

Lambros (right) with Condoleezza Rice

Journalist Lambros Papantoniou passed away at age 63 in Washington, DC. Lambros was a constant fixture in Washington, having been a diplomatic correspondent for several Greek and Greek-American media outlets for nearly 35 years.

Ian Kelly, State Department spokesman made the following statement “This is a sad day for all of us here. We learned this morning that our long-time friend and colleague Lambros Papantoniou passed away. Lambros was a veteran member of our press corps family here. And he was proud to say that he covered the State Department from Nixon to Obama. He loved his work here, and we loved him.”

The President of AHEPA in an email targeted to the organization’s members highlighted the importance of Papantoniou’s coverage for the Hellenic Issues in the US and abroad.
“His diligent work to explore U.S. foreign policy issues toward the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans at a multitude of press briefings and press conferences in Washington was immeasurable. Lambros always ensured that no matter the Hellenic issue; it was always raised before the spokespersons of Washington DC policymakers. We are truly indebted to his passionate work as a journalist. Moreover, Lambros was a personable and warmhearted individual, and we will sorely miss his presence at future gatherings and events in Washington and elsewhere. We also remember fondly his support of AHEPA and all Hellenic American organizations.”

Latest school to be hit by swine flu

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Melbourne Girls’ College in Richmond today confirmed a Year 9 student has tested positive to swine flu yet the school remains open.
The Victorian Department of Human Services (DHS) has provided her family members with the anti-viral drug Tamiflu and is currently identifying other students and
staff who have had prolonged contact with the girl.
Fotoula Margaronis, whose two daughters attend the college says that she is concerned but not panicking that her daughters are still at the school.
She received an email yesterday alerting her to the situation and directing her to the website in which the principal had posted information for parents.
Although one of her daughters is in the same year level as the student with the flu she is relieved that she is not in the same class and does not believe that she has had direct contact with the affected girl.
“I have not made contact with the school because I know that the principal knows what she is doing and the girls are in good hands. If there was any danger I know that she would send the girls home or close the school.”
Ms Margaronis does not believe that parents should keep their children at home just yet.
“I’ll keep an eye on my girls within the next 24 to 48 hours and if they come down with any symptoms I will act on it.”
Principal Judy Crowe has stated on the college’s website that “some people in our school community may be asked to enter into quarantine in the coming days.”
Ms Crow also said that the DHS would notify her immediately of the outcome
The latest school outbreak takes the national swine flu toll to 61, with Victoria’s acting Chief Medical Officer affirming that one in five Australians could contract the H1N1 strain.
Mr Brumby admitted that it was impossible to stop the virus spreading but that quarantining victims had successfully limited its spread.
Special clinics will be set up at the Royal Children’s hospital, the Austin Hospital in Heidleberg, and hospitals in the northern and western suburbs to help cope with the increasing cases.
The Premier said that the clinics would allow swine flu patients to be isolated from general waiting rooms.
“Concerned families have been heeding the advice of the government and health authorities that they should see a doctor if they are concerned about flu-like illness and this has led to a significant increase in visits to hospital emergency departments,” he said.
“Our advice is still for parents to take their children if they develop symptoms to their local doctor who will then refer them to the clinics if necessary.”
(source: neos kosmos)

Haidari Square in France

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A delegation of the city council headed by Mayor, Dimitris Maravelias was in the city of Villeneuve D’Ascq on May 9-10, for the inauguration of Haidari Square in an event organized by the municipal authorities of the French city, honoring Haidari and its history. Mayor Maravelias and the Mayor of Villeneuve D’Ascq, Gerard Caudron, unveiled the two rocks which had the following inscription:
“Haidari Square inaugurated on May 9 2009 by Gerard Caudron, Mayor of Villeneuve D’Ascq and Mayor Dimitris Maravelias, Mayor of Haidari”
The event concluded with Greek songs and dances by a local traditional group.
Later in the day, Mayor Maravelias and his counterpart placed wreaths at the monument of the 86 French soldiers who were executed in April 1944, during the withdrawal of German troops from the city.

Turkey Under Pressure by USA and Others to Reopen Halki Theological School

When U.S. President Barrack Obama visited Turkey last month, he raised the plight of a small religious school of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Halki seminary was closed by the government in 1971, and despite intense pressure by the church and diplomats the school has remained shut. But pressure is growing on Ankara to reopen the school.

Deacon Doratheos looks after the 165-year old Halki theological school, for the long-awaited time when it reopens its doors. “Here is one of the classes, when the school was at its height there were never more than 120 students. Very few students, good professors so they can have an excellent education. …We try to keep it clean and well for re-opening,” he said.

The school was closed in 1971, as part of legislation to close independent university institutions. But observers say the closure was as much to do with the then high tensions between Turkey and Greece over the island of Cyprus.

Doratheos says the school is crucial to the 60,000-member Greek Orthodox community. The school is the only institution in Turkey that can train priests, and Doratheos says without the school it is becoming increasingly difficult for the church to replace aging priests.

“Each church, each chapel must have its own priest. We cannot imagine a baby unbaptized or one who is dead not to have a priest to conduct the last prayers for him. All those graduates before hand from this school, they were very successful as priests as bishops and as patriarchs,” he said.

Supporters of the school’s re-opening recently got a boost when President Obama spoke in Turkey’s parliament. “For democracies cannot be static, they must move forward, freedom of religion and expression lead to a strong and vibrant civil society that only strengthens the state. Which is why steps like opening Halki Seminary will send such a an important signal inside Turkey and beyond,” he said.

The president’s call is echoed by the European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join. Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Spokesman Suat Kiniklioglu says the Turkish government does not oppose reopening the school, but only under certain conditions.

“I do not think it can be solved in the short term. In essence our government has no objection for the school to be reopened and for it to train … priests for the Greek Orthodox Church. But if the school was to function outside the national education umbrella there could be a multitude of other schools being set up that would seek similar exemption from the national education system. That is something we are not ready to do. But if the Greek Orthodox Church agrees to have the school part of the Turkish educational system there is no problem,” he said.

But the offer has been dismissed by the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Bishop Gennadios, says the school’s specialized role of training priests does not fit the country’s university structure.

“We would like have our school as it was before. It is not a medical school or school for engineers. It is school which is not just to train priests for our community here in Istanbul, but also other Orthodox churches around the world. And I think this is our right, to have our schools like our churches. And everything that is related to this community, which did not came from outside but is part of this land. They were born here. They are Turkish citizens. They serve in the army. They are loyal to society and as a Turkish citizens they have also their own rights,” he said.

At a local church a small service is being held by an aging priest. With no new priests there is growing concern about for the future of the Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul.

Speaking to worshippers, there is concern for the future and feelings of discrimination. This man’s view is typical.

As a citizen of Turkey of Greek decent it is necessary to practice my religion. There are priests who do not deserve this status, but are there just to fill the void. He says military schools are exempt from the ministry education and the church school has to be independent as well.

Ankara is under mounting diplomatic pressure from the United States and the European Union to reopen the school, and that pressure is set to increase with the church considering taking the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.

(source VOAnews.com)

The Agent

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For those of you who’ve been reading this column for the last few weeks, you’ve already read my quips about the state of the work ethic here in Hollywood compared to our beloved slow-moving Motherland. You may have even gained an insight or two that will help you out on this long and arduous journey toward your goal of a Hollywood career, if in fact that’s why you’re reading this. Or perhaps like me, you’re just one of those people who gains tremendous satisfaction reading about the struggles and comical tragedies of others because it makes you feel better about yourself and less alone.

So let’s not waste another moment and get to it then. I thought that by now after all my Hollywood horror stories it was only appropriate to talk about how one actually gets into an audition so that they too can have the chance to embarrass themselves. And I’m sure you know what that means. Yup, it’s time for us to go out and get ourselves an agent.

Ah, the Hollywood agent. That elusive, enigmatic creature that every actor spends what seems like half of their lifetime trying to find. Harder to catch than a gazelle, more slippery than a snake (no pun intended, of course – they’re not lawyers after all) a good agent is like finding a key to the city.

In the world of television and film an agent can make you or break you. Where a theater actor may be able to submit themselves to castings and even make a reasonable working career without an agent, there is little chance to do much of anything on the screen (either big or small) without representation – especially in Hollywood where the Agent is God.

I’ve been in the game long enough to know what kind of work this entails. Trying to find an agent is like, well…let’s put it this way. There are thousands of actors in LA. I mean it too – thousands! And there are probably a couple of hundred agencies. Of those couple hundred there are around thirty or forty good agencies. And of those thirty or forty good agencies, there are about ten or fifteen really good agencies. One need not be a mathematician to see the big picture here. The odds are obviously not in our favor – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

I can still remember the day I found my own agent; he was wry, sarcastic and delightful. He was also the only agent I met with who knew every play I had performed in, who recognized the years of study I had dedicated to my art, and who wanted to push me to do more than play a pretty woman. Now however, he calls me ‘old girl’ and talks about his prostate too much – the magic has died but we are still a hilariously good team.

All this reminiscing about my early career brings me back to the time I spent working at one of the top talent agencies in Athens. By some stroke of good fortune I was lucky enough to be hired as a booker in their talent division (despite the fact that I still couldn’t even answer a phone in Greek) and it was one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had. I would encourage any performer to do the same – you will see the business from the perspective of the people who you want to be hired by and it gives you enormous insight into what they’re looking for and why.

Working there I have to say that one thing that never ceased to amaze me is the sheer nerve of people. And I mean that – people are nervy! When I began acting I trained for two years before I even dared to call myself an “actor”. To me, that was a title reserved for someone with serious talent and experience. Apparently however, you either have it or you don’t. At least that’s what one young wannabe talent told me when he swaggered into the agency one sunny spring afternoon. Really, you don’t say?

At the talent agency there was one thing the staff agreed upon 100% – that we all hated Wednesdays equally. Why? Wednesday was walk-in day; the day when any overconfident, inexperienced, nervy person could drop by the agency without an appointment to see if they had any potential to work as a model or talent. What that really meant though was that every Wednesday was usually a big, fat waste of time. Sure there was the odd exception and we did find a small handful of talented, interesting young people who went on to do good work, but more often than not it was a bust.

Why? Because those people came in arrogantly unprepared, unwilling to work hard, unable to handle rejection and without even the slightest clue of what the business was all about. I could fill a book (maybe a series of books?) with stories about all the nervy little buggers who thought because they happen to have nice hair, or their mother’s told them they were special that they were entitled to a television career. But no-one likes someone who doesn’t work hard and expects things to come easy, especially in this business. It’s one thing to have no experience if you possess the ambition to learn and grow; it’s another thing if you don’t think you need it to begin with.

At that, back we go to Hollywood – the cradle of lazy actor/musician/producer/director wannabe’s on Earth who spend all day drinking coffee at Starbucks and working on their tans. After all, you never know when Steven Spielberg may be ordering his latte next to you? Except if you stop to think that Mr. Spielberg is probably too busy actually working to be going on a java run. Obviously though, neither country has a shortage of overconfident people.

What agent’s want is to see great training, special skills (a second language, martial arts, dialects), a good resume (even if it is indie and student films it shows you’re working at it), charisma, professionalism and fearless characters. They want to find someone special just as much as you want to be found. But it takes serious persistence and a lot of envelopes before you usually get that first meeting. Most important of all however and something that took me a long time to fully understand, is that this is a Business and therefore deserves the same level of professionalism as any other career. That means a resume, a headshot, and a cover letter. That means doing your research about that agency and the agent you want to submit to. Do they only take children? Do they have a theater division? Are they doing commercials also? Ask yourself who is the best fit even if it means hours of laboring over who and where you are best suited.

And then one day in the future maybe you too will find yourself retrieving your messages, writing down details for an audition and listening to your agent lament about his prostate. This is Hollywood babe, the place where everyone has a dream.