Daily Archives: January 14, 2016

The blessed waters of Port Melbourne


Thousands of Orthodox Christians turned out for Epiphany Day celebrations across the country last Sunday in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.

Melbourne’s blessing of the waters ceremony, traditionally observed on January 6, took place at Port Melbourne Pier.


A number of men boarded the Carolina Anne, the boat transporting the participants out into the bay, with 16-year-old Lucas Fraccaro from Essendon emerging soon after with the blessed cross in hand.

The ceremony was officiated by Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis with the assistance of Bishop Iakovos of Militoupolis and members of the clergy.

The festivities continued in Port Melbourne, with everyone gathering to enjoy a feast of Greek food, along with entertainment throughout the day with live music and performances by the Manasis Dancing School.

Epiphany%20Day%2002A number of state representatives made an appearance on the day, including Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby; member for Albert Park Martin Foley; Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy; and the Consul General of Greece in Victoria, Christina Simantiraki.

source:neos kosmos

Arab-backed fund signs $434m deal to buy luxury Greek resort


The new agreement includes amended special zoning and spatial planning for the development of Astir Palace.

Greece’s privatisation agency said it signed a €400 million ($434.3 million) deal with Jermyn Street Real Estate Fund to sell Astir Palace, a luxury seaside resort outside Athens.

Greece’s top administrative court had blocked the sale of the Astir Palace hotel complex in March, saying the town planning scheme that Greece submitted violated Greek law, as the construction of a large number of residential buildings would harm the natural and urban environment.

“Jermyn Street Real Estate Fund has signed the new agreement to submit the amended special zoning and spatial plan for the development of Astir Palace,” the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) said.

The fund represents investors from Turkey, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait and other emirates.

The agency said the agreement ensured that the fund’s development plan for the resort was adjusted to the court’s opinion.

“The whole process is expected to be completed within the first half of 2016,” HRADF said.

The agency is expected to cash in about €100 million from the deal. The rest of the proceeds will go to National Bank, Greece’s largest lender, which owns about 85 per cent of the resort.

Privatisations have been a key condition of Greece’s international bailouts since 2010, but its state asset sales scheme has produced poor revenues due to bureaucratic delays and lack of political will.

So far, Athens has raised only about €3.5 billion from state asset sales versus an original target of €50 billion.

source:neos kosmos

Australia: Darling Basin Fishers and conservationists urge release of herpes virus to kill Murray river carp


Unlikely alliance says specialised disease will transform rivers and protect native fish species after exponential growth in numbers of the European invader.

Conservationists and recreational fishers have joined forces to support the release of a specialised herpes virus targeting carp in the Murray river.

Scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation have been testing the koi herpes virus in Australian native fish species, birds, amphibians and other animals found along the river for seven years to see if it is safe to release into the ecosystem.

“The virus doesn’t cause disease in any species that we have looked at,” said Dr Ken McColl, the project’s lead researcher. “It doesn’t even seem to multiply in other species. We are very confident that it’s only going to affect carp.”

The virus affects the fish’s skin and kidneys, which control its water balance. It spreads from direct carp-to-carp contact and takes about seven days to have a noticeable effect. Once the carp is visibly sick it usually dies within 24 hours.

“The virus comes along and makes a mess of those tissues and the carp basically drowns,” McColl said.

He said it was genetically unrelated to other herpes viruses, including those that affect humans, but was similar in affect and structure. “Virtually every species have their own specific herpes virus and very few of those viruses cross into other species,” he said.

In Europe, where the virus was discovered in the late 1990s, the result was piles of dead fish at carp fisheries. By 2004 the disease had spread to wild rivers in Britain, threatening the angling industry, which relies heavily on carp.

But McColl said the virus typically spread slowly down river systems, which would allow for the Murray to be cleaned of dead fish as it moved along. “We’ve even had some inquiries from commercial operations looking to collect the dead carp for use in fertilisers,” he said.

European carp were introduced to Australia in the 1800s but did not become a problem until the 1950s, when a species used in carp farms in Europe found its way into the river system. The carp population increased exponentially and the bottom-feeding fish, which is neither fished recreationally nor eaten in Australia, has been compared to rabbits in its effect on the environment.

“It’s said that they make up up to 90% of the fish biomass in parts of the Murray-Darling basin and, with that sort of population intensity, there’s not much chance for our native fish species,” McColl said.

“The main problem is the way they feed. They sort of rip plants out of the river bed and they make the water very muddy so that the plants can’t grow back and the native fish can’t breed.”

The acting campaign director for the Australian Conservation Foundation, Jonathan La Nauze, said half of the native fish in the Murray-Darling basin were listed as vulnerable or threatened, in large part because of carp numbers.

The ACF has formed an unlikely alliance with the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation, the Invasive Species Council, the National Farmers’ Federation and the National Irrigators Council to push for the release of the virus.

“We are united in calling for clearer, healthier waterways and fish communities,” La Nauze said. “Australia now has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to achieve this through broad-scale biological control using a naturally occurring virus that is specific to common carp.”

Allan Hansard, the managing director of the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation, said it was a “tremendous opportunity to transform our rivers”.

A proposal is being prepared for government approval by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre in Canberra.


Liverpool snatch a late equalizer 3-3 from Arsenal


Substitute Joe Allen scored a dramatic last-minute equaliser as Liverpool claimed a 3-3 draw with Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal.

The midfielder latched on to fellow sub Christian Benteke’s header to volley home at the death as an end-to-end clash finished all square. Roberto Firmino had given the home side an early lead with a shot on the rebound, but Aaron Ramsey swiftly levelled.

Firmino put Liverpool back in front with an impressive strike, only for Olivier Giroud to net either side of half-time to move on to 12 Barclays Premier League goals this season and seal what looked like would be a dramatic victory, before Allen’s last-gasp impact.

The draw means Arsenal have won one of their last five Barclays Premier League away games and now only top the table on goal difference from Leicester City, who won at Tottenham Hotspur, although Manchester City’s draw with Everton keeps Manuel Pellegrini’s men three points off the pace.

Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, has overseen victories in two of Liverpool’s last seven in the Barclays Premier League, dropping them down to ninth position, but will be buoyed to have escaped with a point.

In a match that sparkled from the word go, the first meaningful attack produced the opening goal in the 10th minute. Emre Can’s powerful effort from the edge of the area was only parried away as far as Firmino by Petr Cech, who was rooted to the spot as the forward sharply spun and shot left-footed into the back of the net.

But Arsenal responded within four minutes. Liverpool were unable to deal with a long clearance from Cech and Joel Campbell found space to slip an accurate pass through to Ramsey, with the midfielder’s low effort beating Simon Mignolet at his near post.

A thrilling game continued when Klopp’s men went back in front just five minutes later. After they had pressed the Arsenal backline high up the pitch to regain possession, James Milner fed Firmino 20 yards out and the Brazil forward took one touch before unleashing a brilliant strike into the top corner.

Arsenal, though, produced another response within six minutes. Ramsey had almost equalised when he raced on to Giroud’s flick-on and dinked a delicate finish over Mignolet, only to see Mamadou Sakho recover to head clear from the goalline. From the resulting corner, Giroud got the faintest of touches to Ramsey’s inswinging delivery and his effort somehow found its way through Mignolet’s legs.

Giroud missed an opportunity to put Arsenal ahead a few moments later when Campbell and Theo Walcott combined on the right, with the England forward’s cross cutting out Mignolet. The goal was gaping, but the France striker could only divert his effort back into the keeper’s hands.

Firmino almost had a hat-trick on the stroke of half-time when his left-footed shot on the turn had Cech beaten, but clipped the top of the crossbar after good work from Jordon Ibe down the right.

Alberto Moreno flashed an attempt over from a presentable opportunity early in the second half, while Walcott produced an excellent solo run at the other end before firing just wide.

But Arsenal moved ahead for the first time on 55 minutes when Hector Bellerin and Campbell combined to find Giroud in the area and he slickly turned Kolo Toure to plant a finish into the far corner.

Klopp brought on Benteke in an attempt to find a spark, as well as throwing debutant defender Steven Caulker up top, and the Belgian’s muscularity helped find parity as a knockdown fell at the feet of Allen, who swept home in front of a jubilant Kop to snatch a point.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “For 60, 70% of the game we played really well. The players created opportunities but they got two easy goals.
“At the end we made a real good game and needed luck to make the draw and I think we deserved it. It’s like a battery, at the beginning you play well and it goes down as the game goes on.

“It’s an explosion of goals but at the final whistle you cannot ignore there were problems. You have to speak about Roberto Firmino and both his goals were brilliant and he played for the whole time really good.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “I’m very disappointed but overall I cannot fault the effort and commitment of the team.

“We had a difficult start. At 3-2, we should have made it 4-2 and didn’t make the right decision in final third and Liverpool fought until the last second.

“I felt we had an apprehensive start. We had some bad memories from a few years ago and you could still see that in some players. We went 1-0 down and then we started to play. We come out of the game with a lot of positive but still some regrets.”


Heatwave warning issued for western and central western New South Wales


A heatwave is on its way for many parts of New South Wales, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has warned.

Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius are due in several areas over the next three days.

Tuesday’s forecast

Temp (C)
Sydney 36
Penrith 39
Newcastle 36
Dubbo 41
Tamworth 39
Griffith 41
Broken Hill 41
Bourke 45
Source: BoM
BoM warned parts of western and central western NSW are due to experience the highest temperatures, with the rest of the state expected to have temperatures in the mid to high 30s.

Meanwhile, Sydney and most of the state have avoided the worst of the storms that were forecast on Monday afternoon.

Severe thunderstorms with large hailstones, heavy rainfall and damaging winds were recorded near Maitland, Cessnock and the greater Newcastle and greater Wyong areas, the BoM said in a statement.

NSW Police have issued a warning ahead of the heatwave advising people to take care, especially if they were at a higher risk of heat illness, are older, live alone or are socially isolated.

A warning from NSW Health advised people to be hydrated, avoiding alcohol and hot or sugary drinks, limit their physical activity and try to stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day.

“Signs of heat-related illness include confusion, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, weakness, headaches and loss of sweating,” the police statement said.

“Look after those at higher risk, including contacting them to make sure they are coping and have taken appropriate precautions.

“People showing any of these signs should seek urgent medical attention through their GP or local emergency department.”

The NSW Rural Fire Service warned that given the hot and dry conditions forecast for much of the state, residents need to be prepared.

Reminder to be vigilant near the water

NSW Ambulance has called on everyone to be mindful of water safety after two separate incidents in backyard pools in Sydney which left one three-year-old child dead and another child, aged two, in hospital.

“Temperatures are set to rise this week and the warmer temperature often mean more drowning/near drowning as people flock to the beach, pools, lakes and creeks,” the statement said.

NSW Ambulance Chief Superintendent Alan Morrison said it was important not be complacent when children were near the water.

“It only takes a moment for a child to get themselves into trouble around water, so it is absolutely vital they are supervised vigilantly at all times,” Chief Superintendent Morrison said.

“When it comes to pools there should be strict adherence to safety guidelines including keeping gates properly closed, removing any items kids can use to climb fences, displaying a CPR chart at all times and knowing what to do in an emergency.

“Around water, ensure you know where children are at all times and always maintain visual contact with them.

“This remains just as important in public places such as a community pool or the beach; you should never rely on someone else watching the children in your care and ensuring their safety.”


Police operation underway at Sydney Opera House


TWO POLICE operations are underway at Sydney Opera House with the areas reportedly evacuated and some ferries cancelled.

A New South Wales Police spokeswoman told news.com.au she could confirm the two “police operations (were) underway” but said no further information was available at this time.

Police are reportedly clearing people from Sydney Opera House and some ferry services have been cancelled.

“The (opeartion) in Manly has been going on for a while,” she said.

There are reports a 1.20pm Manly ferry was cancelled as a result of the operation.

Some reports suggest the operations could be the result of a hoax.