George Lucas plans Bay Area park featuring Yoda and Indiana Jones statues

Source: Hitfix

Star Wars fans might soon have another Yoda statue in the San Francisco Bay area to visit.

Filmmaker George Lucas plans to help build a small park in Marin County that would feature a bronze sculpture of the popular Star Wars character, along with one of Indiana Jones.

Lucas’ estate manager, Sarita Patel, said the Yoda statue would be similar to one in San Francisco’s Presidio neighborhood. That one — a full-sized replica of the Jedi sage — lies atop a fountain outside an arts center where Lucas moved most of his operations in 2005. It has become a big draw for fans.

Lucas applied for a permit Wednesday to demolish a building on the site of the planned park in San Anselmo, the town where he lives, the Marin Independent Journal reported (http://bit.ly/YsKH3u)

He announced over the summer that he planned to donate the land where the building sits to the San Anselmo Chamber of Commerce, and donate the statues for the proposed park. Lucas has since also agreed to pay for the building’s demolition.

The chamber hopes to raise $150,000 to $200,000 to create the park.

San Anselmo Town Manager Debra Stutsman said the demolition application, which includes a historical analysis of the building, will be reviewed by the town’s Planning Commission and Historical Commission.

The building, as well as a fresco inside, date back to 1945.

Patel said Lucas plans to donate the fresco to the Spanish consulate in San Francisco.

Lucas built his film operation in Marin County and had planned to put up a palatial new digital media production studio there. But he abandoned those plans earlier this year in the face of opposition from neighbors and what he said were delays in the approval process.

Australia is World’s 2nd Best Birthplace

Source: ibtimes.co.uk

A pregnant mother living in Australia is in one of the best places in the world, according to a recent survey done by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit.

In a survey by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, the resource-rich nation, out of a possible 10 satisfaction points, scored 8.12, just 0.1 behind Switzerland, the world’s best country for a baby to be born into next year. The US, which topped the 1998 list, came in 16th.

Next in the top five were Norway, Sweden and Denmark, all Scandinavian states. New Zealand landed on the seventh place with a score of 7.95, while the last at the 80th spot was Nigeria with 4.74 points.

The list, the first after 24 years, was compiled based on a combination of surveys. Respondents were basically asked how happy they are, with objective determinants about the quality of life. On the 1998 index, Australia ranked 18th.

“Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too,” Laza Kekic, the unit’s director of country forecasting services, said in a statement.

The Economist’s Intelligence Unit used indicators such as geography, demography, social and cultural characteristics, government policies and the state of the world economy.

Australia in 2011 placed second to Norway in the annual United Nations Human Development Index.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard introduces National Disability Insurance Scheme legislation

Source: ABC

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has introduced into Parliament legislation establishing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The bill sets out the structure and eligibility criteria for the scheme and will be voted on early next year.

Ms Gillard says she believes the scheme will be the greatest change to Australian social policy in a generation.

“The scheme to be established by this bill will transform the lives of people with disability, their families and carers,” she said.

“For the first time they will have their needs met in a way that truly supports them to live with choice and dignity.”

Labor has announced $1 billion to establish the scheme, but long-term funding still remains unclear.

Proposed by the productivity commission, the NDIS aims to shift funding for disability away from a welfare to one based on social insurance, to which all taxpayers contribute.

Instead funding of being allocated to service providers, individuals will instead be given direct access to funding, which they can then administer either directly or through brokers.

The focus of the scheme will be on early intervention, building on the concept that significant initial financial outlay can offset greater costs incurred if problems are left untreated.

The scheme aims to cover 360,000 people with a profound or severe disability, with a separate National Injury Insurance scheme to cover people who suffer a catastrophic injury.

Ένας Σερραίος φαβορί για πρόσωπο του Versace!

Source: Star

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Ένας 22χρονος Έλληνας, ο Ηρακλής Κόζας, είναι φαβορί για την νέα παγκόσμια καμπάνια του οίκου Versace και, μάλιστα, μπήκε στους τρεις επικρατέστερους ξεπερνώντας μοντέλα από όλη την Ευρώπη!

Ο 22χρονος πέρασε από κάστινγκ μαζί με μοντέλα από κάθε γωνιά της Ευρώπης προκειμένου να βρεθεί το νέο πρόσωπο του γνωστού οίκου μόδας.

«Είμαι πολύ χαρούμενος! Δεν ξέρω ποιο θα είναι το αποτέλεσμα, μόνο και μόνο όμως που κατάφερα να είμαι στους τρεις επικρατέστερους, είναι πολύ σημαντικό για μένα», λέει ο ίδιος στην εφημερίδα «Espresso».

Με καταγωγή από τις Σέρρες, ο Ηρακλής ζει μόνιμα στη Θεσσαλονίκη και «οργώνει» πασαρέλες και φωτογραφικούς φακούς, με αποτέλεσμα εδώ και περίπου έξι μήνες να είναι με μια βαλίτσα στο χέρι.

Πρόσφατα δε, πρωταγωνίστησε στη νέα καμπάνια της «Modus Vivendi», υποδυόμενος τον hot ψαρά!

«Είναι δύσκολη περίοδος για όλους. Αναλόγως πως θα κυλήσουν τα πράγματα, θα εξαρτηθεί και αν θα μετακομίσω μόνιμα στην Αθήνα. Ποτέ δεν προγραμματίζω τι θα κάνω στη ζωή μου.

Πάντα κοιτάω να κάνω αργά και σταθερά βήματα», αναφέρει ο σέξι μελαχρινός.

Τονίζοντας ότι έχει βαρεθεί τα one night stands, ο Ηρακλής παραδέχεται ότι είναι φρεσκοχωρισμένος: «είμαι μόνος μου εδώ και ενάμιση μήνα. Πέρασα δύσκολα μετά τον χωρισμό μου, όμως, τώρα είμαι καλά και κοιτάω μπροστά».

Κι αν ενδιαφέρεσαι, το μοντέλο αποκαλύπτει πως ζητάει από μια γυναίκα χιούμορ, αυθορμητισμό, ειλικρίνεια και ανεξαρτησία, ενώ επισημαίνει πως ο ίδιος δίνεται 100% στη σχέση του!

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Community issues top the Greek Consultative Committee agenda

Maria Vamvakinou MP
Federal Member for Calwell

Steve Georganas
Federal Member for Hindmarsh

MEDIA RELEASE
28 November 2012

Aged care, supporting the Greek Language and community mental health were top priorities for discussion at the second meeting of the Greek Ministerial Consultative Committee yesterday.

Speaking at the second meeting of the committee to be held at Parliament House, Canberra, co-chair Maria Vamvakinou MP said the committee had the opportunity to personally meet with the Minister for Education Peter Garrett and the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler to discuss their concerns.

The committee also raised issues with a senior advisor for Families and Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin.

Ms Vamvakinou said she was pleased the committee was the first to have high level discussions about issues affecting the Australian Greek Community.

Co-chair Steve Georganas said the meeting was essential in providing a further platform for Greek community members to share their views with the Government.

The committee also had the opportunity of meeting with the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic His Excellency Haris Dafaranos.

The committee was then invited to the opening of an exhibition of art by Theofilos –a folk painter of neo- Hellenic Art at the Hellenic Club in Canberra.

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You can find a copy of the Australian Education Bill here:

We’ve developed fact sheets to help answer your questions about what the National Plan for School Improvement will mean for you and your schools.

Fact Sheets
Better Schools: National Plan for School Improvement
A new way of funding our schools
Helping great teachers do a great job
More information about your school
Support for students who need it most
Helping schools improve results
Information for teachers and school principals
Information for parents
What happens next
Australian Education Bill 2012

http://t.co/aEj9x12q

Report on launch of the Alexander the Great exhibition

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Ο Μέγας Αλέξανδρος έφθασε στο Σύδνεϋ
Με ιδιαίτερη λαμπρότητα εγκαινιάστηκε την Παρασκευή η πολυ-αναμενώμενη έκθεση «Μέγας Αλέξανδρος: θυσαυρούς 2500 χρόνων» στο Αυστραλιανό Μουσείο στο Σύδνεϋ. Έντονο το Ελληνικό στοιχείο ανάμεσα στου καλεσμένους με τον νέο Πρέσβη της Ελληνικής Δημοκρατίας, Εξοχότατο Χαράλαμπο Δαφαράνο, η κυρία Δαφαράνου, ο κ. Γενικός Πρόξενος Βασίλειος Τόλιος και η κυρία Τόλιου, και ο Πρόεδρος του Συλλόγου Ελληνο-Αυστραλών Εκπαιδευτικών, Δρ Παναγιώτη Διαμάντη.

Την έκθεση την εγκαινίασαν η Κυβερνήτης της Νέας Νοτίου Ουαλίας, Professor Marie Bashir. Χαιρετισμοί απύθηναν ο Πρέσβης της Ρωσσικής Ομοσπνδίας, κ. Βλάντιμιρ Μοροζόβ, καθώς και στελέχη του Μουσείου Ερμιτάζ Αγίας Πετρούπολης και του Αυστραλιανού Μουσείου.

Όπως τόνισε ο Ρώσος πρέσβης, η έκθεση στάλθηκε από την Αγία Πετρούπολη στα πλαίσια των εορτασμών των 70 χρόνων από την σύναψη διπλωματικών σχέσεων Ρωσίας-Αυστραλίας.

«Αυτή η έκθεση παρουσιάζει διάφορες πτυχές του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου», δήλωσε ο Διευθυντής του Αυστραλιανού Μουσείου, κ. Frank Howarth. «Η κληρονομιά του μέσα από τον Ελληνισμό είναι αυτά που επηρέασε – σχέδιο, πολιτική, αρχιτεκτονική, αισθητική – καθώς και αυτούς που τον θαύμαζαν, όπως ο Ναπολέων, η Βασίλισα Χριστίνα της Σουηδίας, και η Μέγα Αικατερίνη της Ρωσίας.»

Σύμφωνα με τον κ. Howarth, «ολόκληρη η έννοια του Ελληνισμού, το τι αποτελούσε ο Ελληνικός πολιτισμός» εκφράζετε με ένα μεγάλο κομμάτι της έκθεσης: το χρυσό επιτραπέζιο ρολόϊ με την μορφή του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου, εμπνευσμένο από την έναρξη του απελευθερωτικού αγώνα των Ελλήνων, της Εθνικής Παλιγεννεσίας του 1821. (βλέπε φωτό)
Από την Ελληνική Ορθόδοξη Κοινότητα ΝΝΟ παρεβρέθηκαν ο πρόεδρος κ. Χάρυ Δανάλης, ο κ. Μιχάλης Τσιλίμος και άλλα στελέχοι του φορέα. Η ΕΟΚ ΝΝΟ ήταν ένας από τους χορηγούς της εκδήλωσεις για τα εγκαίνια της έκθεσης.

Σημειώνουμε ότι είναι η δεύτερη φορά που το Αυστραλιανό Μουσείο φιλοξενεί έκθεση με θέμα τον Μακεδονικό Ελληνισμό. Η πρώτη ήταν το 1988, όταν, στα πλαίσια των εορτασμών για τα 200α γεννέθλια της Αυστραλίας, η Ελλάδα έστειλε έκθεση ευρυμάτων από την αρχαία βασιλική νεκρόπολη στην Βεργίνα.

Έντονο το Ποντιακό στοιχείο
Όπως θα αναμενόταν, το Ποντιακό στοιχείο είναι πολύ έντονο στην μεγαλοπρεπή έκθεση αρχαιοτήτων. Μεγάλο μέρος της έκθεσης αποτελείτε από αρχαία Ελληνικά ευρήματα από τις Ελληνικές πόλεις στις βόρειες ακτές του Ευξείνου Πόντου.

Για παράδειγμα, στην φωτό απεικονίζετε ένας γόρυτος από το Βοσπορικό Βασίλεο (σήμερα ανατολική Κριμέα και ακτές της Αζοφικής Θάλασσας). Χρυσό δημιούργημα του 350 με 325 πΧ, το 1863 ανακαλύφθηκε σε τύμβο Σκύθων στο Chertomlyk της νοτίου Ουκρανίας.

Ο γόρυτος απεικονίζει την ανακάλυψη απο τους Οδυσσέα και Διομήδη, του ήρωα του Τρωικού Πολέμου, Αχιλλέα, ανάμεσα στις γυναίκες της Σκύρου.

Το μοναδικό αυτό αντικείμενο συνδέει τα στοιχεία της έκθεσης, με επίκεντρο το πρόσωπο του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου: πανάρχαιες Ελληνικές ιστορίες, Ελληνικές αποικίες στα άκρα του τότε γνωστού κόσμου, επίδραση πολιτιστική στους γύρους ‘βάρβαρους’, …

Συλλόγοι
Η ΑΧΕΠΑ ΝΝΟ και η Ποντιακή Αδελφότητα ΝΝΟ «Ποντοξενιτέας» διοργανώνουν ομάδες για να επισκεπτούν την έκθεση. Καλούντε ΟΛΟΙ οι παροικιακοί φορείς να κατέβουν στον ιστορικό αυτό χώρο δίπλα στο Hyde Park, να δηλώσουν όσο ποιό δυναμικά γίνετε την Ελληνική παρουσία.

Θέλετε να προωθήσετε την ιστορική αλήθεια για την Ελληνική ταυτότητα της Μακεδονίας; Αγοράστε εισητήρια για την έκθεση και δωρίστε τα σε μη-Ελληνικής καταγωγής φίλους και γνωστούς για Χριστουγεννιάτικα δώρα!

Η μεγαλειώδης έκθεση «Μέγας Αλέξανδρος: θυσαυρούς 2500 χρόνων» θα βρίσκετε στο Αυστραλιανό Μουσείο στη γωνία William και College Streets στο Σύδνεϋ μέχρι τις 28 Απριλίου 2013. Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες, τηλεφωνήστε στο 136 100.

Extinct wombat climbed trees like a koala

Fossils have shed light on a wombat-like creature that once lived in Australia’s rainforest canopies.

Nimbadon is thought to be a tree-dwelling marsupial that lived 15 million years ago. (Illustration: Peter Schouten)
FOSSILISED REMAINS OF AN early relative of the wombat suggest that the marsupial lived in treetops around 15 million years ago.

The ancient bones, uncovered in an outback Queensland cave in the 1990s, could be the remains of the largest known tree-climbing marsupial, according to new research.

Scientists from the University of New South Wales and the University of Adelaide examined the skeleton of the species, known as Nimbadon lavarackorum, which was discovered at the Riversleigh World Heritage fossil field. The research revealed that the 70kg marsupial was equipped with powerful limbs to scale tree trunks.

Dr Karen Black, a palaeontologist from UNSW’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, says it was a surprise discovery given the animal’s hefty size and close ties to the wombat.

“To have a wombat-like animal up a tree was pretty amazing,” Karen says. The largest tree-climbing marsupial alive in Australia today is the Bennett’s tree kangaroo, which can weigh up to 14kg.

Extinct marsupial climbed trees like a koala

The scientists compared the Nimbadon skeleton with bones from living animals such as the koala, brushtail possum and Malayan sun bear. Honing in on the limbs, hands and feet, the study found the Nimbadon had the most in common with the koala.

“It had highly-mobile shoulder, elbow and wrist joints, so it was flexible for grabbing branches and climbing,” says Karen. “It also had very large hands and feet with opposable thumbs, and massive claws almost identical to a koala’s.”

Karen says these traits suggest that Nimbadon behaved similarly to the modern-day koala, using the same trunk-hugging method to climb trees.

But Karen says the team also found some highly unusual characteristics. The Nimbadon had relatively short hind limbs, suggesting it may have hung from branches like a sloth or orangutan.

The marsupial also sported a unique bulbous snout. “Maybe it was detecting rainforest fruits with its big nose, so it possibly could have played a role as a large seed disperser in Australia’s rainforest, which no living marsupial in Australia does,” Karen says.

Fossils reveal Australian fauna evolution

It is believed the Nimbadon died out about 15 million years ago. It was around this time that Australia’s rainforests began to recede, gradually being replaced with drier landscape.

Associate professor Rod Wells, a palaeontologist at Flinders University in Adelaide, says piecing together Australia’s early fossil record, dating back to eras such as the Miocene period, is no easy task.

“This paper represents a step beyond phylogeny [the family tree of a species],” Rod says. “It is important in that it gives us an all too rare insight into the biomechanics and behaviour of a middle Miocene marsupial, arguably Australia’s largest arboreal herbivore.”

Rod hopes further research will lead to greater insights into the evolution of Australian mammal and marsupial fauna.

The findings were originally published in scientific journal PLOS ONE.

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The years and years of notes, eventuated as the book Do You Know Who I Am?

The cover of Adrianne’s book, Do You Know Who I Am?

As the daughter of Greek Cypriot parents, author Adrianne Roy would jot notes about what it was like for first generations living in England; identity struggle, dramatic events and the search for independence in what she coins a “man’s world”.

The years and years of notes, eventuated as the book Do You Know Who I Am? “The book is about the journey of that generation of Cypriots who left their sun-baked rural villages of Cyprus in the ’40s and ’50s and sailed for England hoping for a better life and found themselves in smoggy cramped post-war London with its newfound language barriers and culture clashes. It is a comedy, but with dramatic undertones which shows how those Cypriots slowly became anglicised. It is both historic and nostalgic.”

The book has already been optioned by an English film production company to turn it into an international feature film. The screenplay is currently under commission and the producers expect the script to be ready by the end of this year. “I want to put our island on the world map,” says the author. “I want the world to see our peoples journey and how inspirational they are.

It was a daunting prospect for those who uprooted from their homeland to seek a better life in a far away country with no money in their pocket, no education and no language and surviving against the odds through hardship. “In times where there were no conveniences or technology they got on with it with humour and never complained.” Humour is a large part of the book, as is the journey of the migrant.

“It was the humour that kept that generation of English Cypriots going through very hard times,” she explains. “You can hide sorrow and hardship behind humour and this is the essence of my book. The title also has a double meaning : many Cypriots use that phrase as a form of egoistic humour but underneath it hides the sadness of living a double life not knowing whether you are Cypriot or English.”

Adrianne has already started on her second book and has well and truly given up her career in law, which she has been working in for over 15 years.

“To me, writing is my fulfilment in life. Like some people have hobbies for example the gym, sports, gardening; for me writing is my hobby. It is my pleasure and my therapy.”

To purchase Do You Know Who I Am? go to amazon.co.uk

Dr James Arvanitakis was presented with the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year this week

Dr James Arvanitakis was presented with the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year this week. The lecturer from the University of Western Sydney was recognised for his innovative teaching methods that captivate and engage his students.

And now, the Greek Australian lecturer has been invited to South Africa and Europe to expose other educators to his methods of teaching. Dr Arvanitakis says he recognised for three reasons.
One is his ability to bring theoretical concepts to life and adds “it doesn’t matter if they were written in the 1800’s or today what I do is bring them to life and show how they are relevant to people in their everyday experiences”.

The second thing is he makes learning fun. For example, he has made students participate in flash mobs to showcase chaos theory and globalisation. And thirdly, he has taken his teaching to the community and spends a lot of his time and school and community education places talking about the power of a university education and teaching.

As a lecturer, Dr Arvanitakis embraces new media and social media wholeheartedly and says that “strategically”, all universities need to do, as it has revolutionised the tertiary education industry. “The lecture is almost like the physical newspaper – we all love it, but we realise we have to change to survive. I think universities are also with that.”

And he doesn’t see new media as a competition, rather he uses it to his advantage. In his lectures, he allows Facebook to be active and text messaging to allow students who would otherwise be too shy to pose a question to do so using these mediums.

This gives them a way to educate and learn using new media. However, he also says the way the content is delivered is dependant on the course itself but says a combination of new media and the face-to-face model of delivering a lecture are both needed and are almost expected by students.

“I teach a subject called ‘contemporary societies’, and you can’t teach that without engaging with that concept – new media, new ways of communicating,” he says. The child of Greek migrants, Dr Arvanitakis says his parents instilled in him the importance of an education. And this he has carried throughout his years to today where he says he is “blown away by the positive response of the students” as well as receiving this accolade.

With the $50,000, the lecturer plans on developing new ways to deliver content and educate students. One such way is to develop an online game where students can learn about sociology whilst engaging in something similar to Angry Birds.

He has also been invited to lead teaching symposiums in South Africa, Canada and Europe and also wants to invest the money in putting together different and innovative ways to teaching such as videos.