Clontarf teenager’s close encounter with a solitary dolphin in Sydney Harbour captured

Source: TheDailyTelegraph

Alex Hayes had a close encounter with the solitary dolphin, which has been hanging around the northern beaches.

Alex Hayes had a close encounter with the solitary dolphin, which has been hanging around the northern beaches. Source: Supplied

TEENAGER Alex Hayes had a close encounter with this dolphin while swimming at Clontarf.

He and his mum Helen were at the harbour beach near Clontarf Reserve on Wednesday afternoon when the dolphin came up to them and about a dozen other swimmers.

The teen spent the next three hours swimming with the dolphin, and capturing the moment on film.

“Oh my god. It was amazing. It was such a good experience,” he said.

“It just kept coming back. It was just once in a lifetime. It was such an amazing creature.”

The dolphin is understood to be the solitary dolphin, which has been spotted around Pittwater and the northern beaches.

 Alex Hayes playing with a dolphin at Clontarf Picture: Supplied

Alex Hayes playing with a dolphin at Clontarf Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

Organisations such as Marine Mammal Research and ORRCA have raised concerns the animal is not linking up with other dolphins.

Mrs Hayes said they to were concerned about the dolphin’s welfare.

“Most of us are worried as to why he is alone,” she said.

“I think he thinks humans are his pod, which is a bit of a worry.”

 Alex Hayes with a dolphin at Clontarf.

Alex Hayes with a dolphin at Clontarf. Source: Supplied

MMR, which has been tracking the dolphin for about a year, has warned the public to keep their distance from the dolphin.

The organisation website states that engaging with the dolphin “may be hazardous to both the dolphin and humans.”

The dolphin could attack or bite a person, MMR states, and interaction with humans could make it less inclined to join a dolphin pod.

Alex Hayes playing with a dolphin at Clontarf Picture: Supplied Source:

MMR said people were not heeding their warnings, with reports someone even roped the animal at Sussex Inlet, trying to be towed by it.

MMR researcher Michelle Blewitt said the dolphin could potentially kill or seriously injure someone if it were provoked.

“It can turn from a happy, smiling dolphin to a an aggressive, wild animal, which it is,” she said.

“They kill sharks, so they can definitely kill a human.”

She understood people interacting with the dolphin was almost inevitable, but said authorities may have to act if warnings go unheeded.

Anyone who sees the dolphin is asked to call MMR on 0431 465 073.

Skull, 1.8 million years old, may rewrite human evolution after being found in Dmanisi Georgia

 

A WELL-PRESERVED skull from 1.8 million years ago offers new evidence that early man was a single species with a vast array of different looks.

With a tiny brain about a third the size of a modern human’s, protruding brows and jutting jaws like an ape, the skull was found in the remains of a medieval hilltop city in Dmanisi, Georgia, said the study in the journal Science.

It is one of five early human skulls – four of which have jaws – found so far at the site, about 100 kilometres from the capital Tbilisi, along with stone tools that hint at butchery and the bones of big, saber-toothed cats.

Lead researcher David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum, described the group as “the richest and most complete collection of indisputable early Homo remains from any one site.”

The skulls vary so much in appearance that under other circumstances, they might have been considered different species, said co-author Christoph Zollikofer of the University of Zurich.

Early Human

In this photo taken October 2, 2013, in Tbilisi, Georgia, David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgia National Museum, holds a pre-human skull found in 2005 in the ground at the medieval village Dmanisi, Georgia.

“Yet we know that these individuals came from the same location and the same geological time, so they could, in principle, represent a single population of a single species,” he said.

The researchers compared the variation in characteristics of the skulls and found that while their jaw, brow and skull shapes were distinct, their traits were all within the range of what could be expected among members of the same species.

“The five Dmanisi individuals are conspicuously different from each other, but not more different than any five modern human individuals, or five chimpanzee individuals, from a given population,” said Mr Zollikofer.

“We conclude that diversity within a species is the rule rather than the exception.”

skull

A reconstruction of the early homonid from the Georgian skull find.

Under that hypothesis, the different lineages some experts have described in Africa — such as Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis — were all just ancient people of the species Homo erectus who looked different from each other.

It also suggests that early members of the modern man’s genus Homo, first found in Africa, soon expanded into Asia despite their small brain size.

“We are thrilled about the conclusion they came to. It backs up what we found as well,” said Milford Wolpoff, a paleontologist at the University of Michigan.

Mr Wolpoff published a study in the journal Evolution last year that also measured statistical variation in characteristics of early skull fossils in Georgia and East Africa, suggesting a single species and an active process of inter-breeding.

Skull find

The fossilised remains of the early homonid were uncovered in a small stone grotto near the city of Dmanisi, Georgia.

“Everyone knows today, you could find your mate from a different continent and it is normal for people to marry outside their local group, outside their religion, outside their culture,” Mr Wolpoff said.

“What this really helps show is that this has been the human pattern for most of our history, at least outside of Africa,” he added.

“We don’t have races. We don’t have different subspecies. But it is normal for humans to vary, and they have varied in the past.”

But not all experts agree.

Early Human

This 2005 photo provided by the journal Science shows a pre-human skull found in the ground at the medieval village Dmanisi, Georgia.

“I think that the conclusions that they draw are misguided,” said Bernard Wood, director of the hominid paleobiology doctoral program at George Washington University.

“What they have is a creature that we have not seen evidence of before,” he said, noting its small head but human-sized body.

“It could be something new and I don’t understand why they are reluctant to think it might be something new.”

In fact, the researchers did give it a new name, Homo erectus ergaster georgicus, in a nod to the skull as an early but novel form of Homo erectus found in Georgia.

Early Human

In this photo taken October 2, 2013, ancient skulls and jaws of pre-human ancestors are displayed at the Georgia National Museum in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The name also retracts the unique species status of Homo georgicus given to the jaw that was found in 2000 along with other small, primitive skulls.

The jaw lay a few metres from where Skull 5, belonging to the same owner, was later discovered in 2005.

Co-author Marcia Ponce de Leon said Skull 5 is “perfectly preserved” and “the most complete skull of an adult fossil Homo individual found to date.”

Its discovery, in such close quarters with four other individuals, offered researchers a unique opportunity to measure variations in a single population of early Homo, and “to draw new inferences on the evolutionary biology” of our ancestors, she said.

Dmanisi skulls 1 - 5 and landscape

3D scan images of a selection of skulls found at the Dmanisi dig site. Picture: University of Zurich

Theodora Greece: Princess Turned Actress Talks Hollywood Life

 

Source: Dailymail

As Her Majesty’s goddaughter, she was  once tipped as a bride for Prince William. Now Princess Theodora is a star in the world’s most popular soap

Picture the scene: Her Majesty the Queen settling in for the afternoon, shoes off, TV on, chocolate biscuits at the ready, watching her goddaughter Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark on the popular American soap The Bold And The Beautiful.

‘It’s a very nice image,’ admits Theodora, ‘although somehow I don’t think the Queen is a big Bold And The Beautiful fan.

I should get some DVDs to her as it doesn’t air in the UK, but I think she’s probably too busy to watch.’

The Queen's goddaughter Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark stars on the popular American soap The Bold And The Beautiful

The Queen’s goddaughter Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark stars on the popular American soap The Bold And The Beautiful

The Queen may not have time to keep up with the most-watched soap opera in the world, but viewers in America have been treated to the sight of her goddaughter, an actress who goes by the stage name Theodora Greece, stalking the offices of the show’s resident baddie Bill Spencer (played by Don Diamont) as his trusted secretary, Alison.

The ups and downs of the Royal Family have often been likened to those of a soap opera; now one of their member has actually gone and joined one.

The daughter of the former King Constantine II of Greece and Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, Theodora was born in 1983, ten years after the Greek monarchy was abolished and exiled.

The fourth of five children, she was raised in London and speaks with a perfect English accent. She made headlines as a baby when, after bursting into tears during her christening, Theodora was only quieted when her godmother calmed her down by stroking her forehead.

‘And ever since then she’s been a very hands-on godparent,’ says Theodora. ‘She’s always very interested in what I’m doing and encouraging. She has a great sense of humour too, and is a great personal inspiration to me because she’s such a tireless worker.

The Danish Royal Family and their guests arrive for a Galadinner at Christiansborg Palace

The Danish Royal Family and their guests arrive for a Galadinner at Christiansborg Palace

‘I don’t get to see her very much at all, maybe once a year, because I live in LA now and she’s so busy, but she’s very involved and full of good advice. And like all godparents, of course, she always gives great presents!’

Theodora grew up in Hampstead with Princes William and Harry as her playmates. ‘My father is William’s godfather and Princess Diana was my younger brother Philippos’ godmother, so we were all pretty close. We had lots of fun during the summer holidays and I just remember running around Highgrove and playing in the tree houses with them.’

She boarded at the all-girls Woldingham School in Surrey, and it was there that her passion for acting first flourished. ‘I was very shy when I was young,’ she says, ‘and so I started acting in school plays because I thought it might bring me out of my shell.

‘In my first play, I was Bugsy Malone and I loved it, I just never stopped. My parents loved coming to see me in things, especially my dad.’ The Queen, too, has always encouraged Theodora’s acting aspirations, which are coming to fruition after a series of small parts in independent films such as The Lightkeepers, with Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother Blythe Danner.

Pretty, blonde and bubbly, 29-year-old Theodora appears to have wandered in from Hollywood central casting and, given her royal lineage, directors must be falling over themselves to hire her. ‘Well, I’ve always gone to auditions as Theodora Greece, I try to stay anonymous. I’ll sometimes try and pass myself off as American too, just because I want to get parts because of my ability.’

Theodora went for the role of Alison last year thinking it would be a one-off part, ‘but they must have liked me because I’ve been there ever since.

She couldn't make the Royal Wedding but watched it with her friends until 4amShe couldn’t make the Royal Wedding but watched it with her friends until 4am

Bill Spencer is the villain of the show and Alison gets to see what he’s up to. They have a sort of Bond-Moneypenny relationship and his evil ways rub off on Alison, so that’s fun to play.’

Having lived in Los Angeles for the past three years, Theodora missed this year’s Jubilee celebrations, ‘although I watched it all on BBC America’, she says.

But she did get back to watch the Olympics and says, ‘I absolutely loved the Bond sketch with the Queen. I thought it would have been a lookalike actress, so when she turned around I was shocked. She was a good sport and it’s a great example of her sense of humour.’

She only sees her godmother once a year but says she buys great Christmas presents

She only sees her godmother once a year but says she buys great Christmas presents

Of course, the Queen could have ended up as more than just a godmother to Theodora. As royalty (albeit exiled), the young girl was touted as a possible match for Prince William, something which amuses her even now. ‘I grew up knowing him, so I don’t think that was on the cards,’ she says.

‘My parents and elder brother [Crown Prince Pavlos] went to his wedding last year, but because I was in LA  I couldn’t go. But I did have one of my best friends over and we sat there at 4am watching it on TV.’

Theodora is currently single, but dating. And sounds far too busy for all that anyway, what with her soap work and an upcoming part in the big screen re-make of the 60s TV series The Big Valley, opposite Richard Dreyfuss and Lee Majors.

‘I was cast about a year and a half ago, so I hope the film finally gets made. I’d love to carry on doing what I’m doing and hopefully move on to making movies and getting leading roles. I may as well admit it,’ she says, ‘I’d love to win an Oscar one day. That’s my ultimate ambition.’

And as busy as she is, no doubt even Princess Theodora’s godmother would stay in to watch that particular event on TV.

 

The movie Kostas (1979, 90″), directed by Dutch-born filmmaker Paul Cox, will be screened at the Greek Film Society Sydney (GFSS).

Australian movie Kostas to be screened in Sydney

Australian movie Kostas to be screened in Sydney

A scene from the movie Kostas.

The movie Kostas (1979, 90″), directed by Dutch-born filmmaker Paul Cox, will be screened at the Greek Film Society Sydney (GFSS).

Kostas (Takis Emmanuel) is an exiled journalist from Greece in the 1970s, and Carol (Wendy Hughes) a middle-class divorcee.

They meet by chance in Melbourne in Kostas’ taxi.

Despite the cultural and social divide, they fall in love.

The movie is an early feature from the Australian film revival that deals with a postwar cross-cultural story.
Filmed in Melbourne, Kostas is a love story in which a Greek and an Australian struggle with the barriers of their cultural differences.

It is set against a background of Melbourne’s Greek community and the lifestyle of an Anglo-Saxon divorcee.
When: Wednesday 16 October at 8.00 pm.
Where: The Greek Atlas Community and Cultural Centre, 96 Illawarra Road, Marrickville (Sydney).
For more information and a detailed program, check Greek Film Society Sydney’s blog http://greekfilmsocietysydney.com, or contact 0402 564 722 and 0450 155 194.

The Rembetika Quartet take you back to the Greece of the 1920s, with their impeccable rembetika performances every Wednesday night in Melbourne

The passion of rembetika

The passion of rembetika

Melbourne’s Lonsdale Street is not much of a Greek precinct anymore, some say. It has become a pocket of Greek-themed shops, without the same soul of yesteryear when it was a thriving hub.
Still, for me, it’s the only place where – as if you were in Melbourne’s sister city Thessaloniki – you’ll have your most memorable night out with the sounds of rembetika. The sum of ten tables gather around musicians at Tsindos tavern and the night begins.
For the last three years, Tsindos tavern has been featuring unconventional and spontaneous rembetika nights, every Wednesday. 

The day is set, yes, but the spontaneity and unstaged feel with which the Rembetika Quartet play is inevitable.
Their audience is those in love with rembetika. Without a doubt, it is a niche one; everyone can listen to rembetika, but not everyone can live its lyrics.
Sometimes it’s just random tourists who pass the tavern and wish to be a part of the warm atmosphere taking place behind Tsindos’ windows that face Lonsdale street.
With a limited number of tables – or at least the tables in the close proximity of the bouzouki, baglama, oud and guitar, and mesmerizing voice of Jenny Theologidis – you can expect to be turned away from the door if you don’t come early.
If you come to a Rembetika Quartet show more than once, and then they don’t see you for a while, be prepared to answer the unpleasant question – where have you been for so long? It is a kind of loyalty that runs between the musicians and the faithful audience. It is not talked about; it’s implied. And once you hear Con Kalamaras, Jenny Theologidis, Wayne Simmons and ‘Borsta’, the current members of Rembetika Quartet, playing, you just want to stay loyal to them.
Just as those who wrote and sang rembetika songs in 1920s Greece stayed loyal to their burnt homes and uprooted past in Asia Minor.
“It’s a really good parea,” Con Kalamaras tells Neos Kosmos about the group he has been playing with the last three years.
“We play rembetika from the 1920s to 1950s. We share the same interests, and YouTube links and new songs as well. The number of songs that we have learnt together is incredible,” Con says, with the excitement of a child in his voice.
With some members of the quartet having full-time jobs, it is after hours that they pursue their musical passion through rembetika. Their rehearsals consist of learning how to play new songs through YouTube links they send to each other. The songs are ones they have a special bond with, or songs that their fans – as far away as the UK – ask them to play. The practice comes to fruition every Wednesday – as the performance is, as Con says, worth ten rehearsals.
“We try to practice, but normally we just send each other the links, and we just decide what key we are going to play the song in, and that’s it. And every time when we play – it’s a premiere, even for us.”
Though he works at a radio station as a marketing and events manager, Con says it is the passion that gets you out of bed in the morning. In the case of Rembetika Quartet – it’s rembetika in its purest form.
It comes as a surprise once you witness their impeccable performance, to find out that it was given by Melbourne-born Con, Jenny and Borsta; and one Aussie, Wayne Simmons, who is, as Con puts it, more Greek than Greeks.
“I just think the music and lyrics are so beautiful, and it’s far beyond anything coming out now. Even the recordings from the ’20s and ’30s, they almost make you want to cry. Maybe it reflects the hardships that people who wrote or performed the songs went through.”
The Greek urban music, that grew out of particular urban circumstances, rembetika resonates with the crowd. Its lyrics reflect the harsh realities – crime, drink, drugs, poverty, prostitution as well as death, displacement, exile and nostalgia.
“When you have people that have been ripped out of their homes, and they are singing about it – then I believe it. With any art form, if I’m not convinced, I’m just not interested. And that’s what I like about rembetika,” Con says.
Three things have been consistent in the quartet’s career at Tsindos – their love for rembetika, their faithful audience and the choice of rembetika song they play. Alongside celebrated rembetika songs, the quartet tends to play the more rare and less known ones. That’s their way, Con says, not only to bring back ’20s and ’30s rembetika but also to, very importantly, strike a balance.
“You can introduce people to music they wouldn’t have heard of. We get to play the music that suits the audience, but on the other hand you don’t want to play just cheesy music to make everybody happy.”
“You never know who is going to be in the audience; even if it’s only one person, you have to make sure you play as for 20,000 people.”
Rembetika Quartet performs live at Tsindos tavern (197 Lonsdale Street) every Wednesday from 7.30 pm. To watch them perform on YouTube, visit their YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/rebetikamusicmelb/videos

Diana Costarakis, Fla. woman, tried to have daughter-in-law killed in murder-for-hire plot, cops say

Source: cbsnews

Diana Costarakis

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – Diana Costarakis, a 70-year-old Florida woman, was arrested after soliciting an undercover detective to kill her daughter-in-law, authorities said.

Costarakis, of Middleburg, was being held without bond in the Duval County Jail on Saturday on charges of criminal solicitation and criminal conspiracy, both capital felony crimes, jail records show. She is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 31. The records did not list any attorney for her.

According to a police report from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Costarakis offered an undercover detective $5,000 on Wednesday when they first met at a Home Depot. She gave him $500 as the first payment as well as a photo of the daughter-in-law, her address, and a description of her car, the report said. Costarakis gave the detective another $1,000 on Thursday and told him her daughter-in-law wore diamonds and other expensive jewelry that could be stolen and sold, with the proceeds being used toward the final payment. The diamonds could not be traced, she told the detective, according to the report.

When asked if Costarakis wanted her daughter-in-law dead, she said, “If you don’t, I will,” according to the police report.

She was later taken into custody.

Costarakis told police that her daughter-in-law was a drunk and a bad mother to her 6-year-old granddaughter, the police report said.

Angela Costarakis told CBS affiliate WTEV that she had no idea her mother-in-law wanted her dead.

“She just told me three weeks ago, gave me a big old hug and said, ‘I’m glad we’re great friends,'” Angela Costarakis said.

She said the incident has disrupted her whole world and she feels sorry that her daughter will be the one that is affected most.

“She loves her grandmother,” she said.

The police report said Diana Costarakis claimed her daughter-in-law was leaving her son and moving to Denver with her granddaughter. Angela Costarakis told another station, WJXT, that wasn’t true.

Steve Tsoukalas tells of the llove for the (Opera) House he built

Steve Tsoukalas

Steve Tsoukalas, one of the original workers during the building of the Opera House / Pic: Robert Barker Source: The Daily Telegraph

Steve Tsoukalas

Steve Tsoukalas, who has been working at the Sydney Opera House for 40 years. Source: The Daily Telegraph

THE Sydney Opera House turns 40 this year but Steve Tsoukalas’ love affair with it has gone on even longer.

It was 49 years ago when a then 19 year old sailed into Sydney and past the foundations of the Opera House.

Four years later he got a job in charge of a scaffold team working high on the sails.

Today he is the Opera House’s unofficial custodian – and the last person to help build the national icon who still works there.

Mr Tsoukalas, 68, maintains the Opera House brass and concrete interior.

He knows every nook and cranny of its labyrinthine passageways, reels off complex engineering details and even sought personal approval from architect Jorn Utzon’s son Jan before using his own recipe to clean hand prints off the concrete interior walls.

Every morning at 5.15am, long before the house fills with tour groups, Mr Tsoukalas watches the sunrise from the northern foyer before beginning his day fretting about wear and tear, corrosion and fungus invading the roof tiles.

“It’s so peaceful, you’ve got the time to think and remember,” he said with tears in his eyes. “I think about how it was and how it has become. How the city, Kirribilli, the Botanical Gardens were. It’s so different and you try to bring memories back and you pass your time, sometimes with tears. There are sad moments because time is running out. I don’t want to lose this job, this building.

“I saw the Opera House from the boat when I arrived here, I thought the building was something unbelievable.”

When he started as a scaffolder at 23, little did he know then that one of the most iconic buildings in the world would become his life’s work.

“It was a dangerous job because you worked so high,” he said. “I started here in 1968, the same year I married my darling, and for the past 45 years we’re been together.

“I don’t want to retire because, when you are in love, it’s deep in your heart. If you love the building, you have to think about the building.”

Mr Tsoukalas, who has been asked to train a new generation of Opera House caretakers, fears no one can feel the same way about the job.

“Today’s young people have tendency to do the work with one hand and have a phone in the other. They won’t love this building like I do,” he said.

The Sydney Opera House

Qantas will match the NSW Government dollar for dollar on advertising and marketing campaigns for the next three years. Source: Supplied