Australian scientists confirm Chinese horseshoe bats responsible for SARS virus

Source: ABC

ABCThe SARS virus appears to have originated in horseshoe bats from China.

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus which killed 774 people originated in horseshoe bats from China, scientists have confirmed.

SARS killed nearly 10 per cent of the people it infected during the 2002-2003 pandemic, mainly in China and Hong Kong.

A research team, which included scientists from the CSIRO in Geelong, found a very close relative of the virus in faecal samples from horseshoe bats.

Researcher Gary Crameri said scientists long suspected bats were the origin of the virus.

“We’ve been looking at bats for the past eight years, looking for this particular virus,” he said.

“Although a lot of groups across the world have been, this particular virus can affect humans like the original one and that’s really been the key to this particular virus.”

Mr Cameri said it was possible the bats had developed a productive relationship with the virus over many years.

“But when they spill out into other mammals, like humans, they can be devastating,” he said.Â

Mr Crameri said the focus had been on finding the virus’s origin and other similar viruses, rather than a vaccine.

“It’s key for us to get a clear understanding of bats and the role that not only them, but other animals will play in future health scenarios,” he said.

Mr Crameri said SARS bats do not pose a risk to people in general, but he encouraged people to be wary when handling them.

“The less we encroach on their environments, the better,” he said.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome also originated in bats

While SARS is now under control because wet markets are being controlled by authorities, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), caused by another coronavirus, is currently a problem.

Mr Crameri says the MERS virus, which also appears to come from a microbat, binds to human cells via a different receptor and is less infectious than SARS, although kills a higher percentage of those it infects.

Bats are an ancient animal that diverged from other mammals 80 million years ago and Mr Crameri said this could explain why they carry a high number of pathogens that they themselves are unaffected by.

“The bats and the viruses have evolved together,” he said.

Experts have welcomed the new research.

“To this point, no one had been able to find the SARS coronavirus in bats,” Sanjaya Senanayake, an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Australian National University, said.

“Of the 40 or so new infections in humans discovered in the last 40 years, most have come from animals.

“Now that animals, including bats, and humans live closer together as our population expands globally, the opportunity for direct transmission of these dangerous viruses becomes more and more of an issue.”

Professor Charles Watson, John Curtin Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University, says the recent outbreak of MERS reminds us coronaviruses are a potential cause of major human epidemics.

“The 2002 coronavirus pandemic, caused by the SARS coronavirus… was a serious public health threat, with over 8,000 cases worldwide,” he said.

“While the MERS… outbreak has so far infected less than 200 individuals, it is clear that the coronavirus must be carefully watched.”

The research has been published in the journal Nature.

Mosman carve-up divides residents

Source: SMH

Michael Evans looks at what a divide will mean for residents.

It’s one thing to come from the wrong side of the tracks: it’s another entirely to come from the wrong side of Military Road.

A proposal to split Mosman into five is being considered by the Geographical Names Board, which wants community feedback before making a decision.
Dividing the suburb that began as a whaling station may yet spark more wailing.

As secessionist moves go, subdividing Mosman might not appear to hold a candle to the annual threat of Western Australia breaking away from the rest of the continent.

Nor does it bear the gentle disdain of the citizens of Queens Park splitting from their more salubrious neighbours in Bondi Junction in 1992. (And we all know whose property prices benefited from that move.)

But for residents of Mosman, home of the lower north shore’s haves and have yachts, these are uneasy times.

Dividing the suburb that began as a whaling station may yet spark more wailing.

A great number of residents are set to be moved out of Mosman – at least in name.

For years, the ties binding residents have been obvious: rugby, rowing, the professions and Volvos.

According to the census data, nearly 7 per cent of working Mosman residents are engaged in the legal or accounting professions; nearly 6 per cent in financial services. The median weekly household income is $2465 and the median monthly mortgage repayment is $3033.

It’s where company directors bump into investment bankers and trip over their lawyers picking up their gluten-free spelt loaf on a Saturday morning.

But the suburb has become unwieldy. Since 1997, residents of Clifton Gardens, Beauty Point, Balmoral, Georges Heights and the Spit have technically lived in Mosman – although they were able to use traditional locality names if they wished.

No more! Mosman will be rent asunder – with obvious concern over the impact on property prices.

But the blow-ins visiting Balmoral Beach will now more easily be able to find the $35 four-hour parking meters.

After all, you can take the investment banker out of Mosman, but you can’t take Mosman out of the investment banker.

Greek Film Festival Marks Its Twentieth Anniversary

Source: thelowdownunder

The Greek Film Festival (GFF) marks two decades when it kicks off in Brisbane tomorrow night before making its way to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra throughout November.

The festival kicks of with opening night movie What If… by writer/director Christoforos Papakaliatis. His debut feature, Papakaliatis is well known in the Greek TV arena. A Sliding Doors type of story, Demetris (also played by Papakaliatis) faces two very different paths, one as a bachelor and one as a man in love, each hinging on whether or not he takes his dog for a walk one particular night.

Box office gold in Greece, festival director Penny Kyprianou says it was the perfect choice for opening night. “It’s very accessible, with a bit of romance and drama, and it offers a different perspective to the Greek financial crisis; how financially that situation affects love and relationships.”

Marking the anniversary, Kyprianou has selected a hit list of nine festival favourites from past years, including two from writer/director Constantinos Giannaris, One Day In August and From the Edge of The City. The New York Post branded the latter a Greek version of My Own Private Idaho. Tassos Boulmetis’ A Touch Of Spice will also return to reignite the taste buds.

The Greek diaspora have their voices heard during GFF too, with closing night given over to French Greek filmmaker Costa-Gavras. Le Capital stars popular French comedian Gad Elmaleh. “Gavras is well-known for political thrillers,” Kyprianou says. “This looks into the corporate banking world and its very quick success and then demise. He’s an amazing storyteller.”

One of Kyprianou’s top picks this year is the kooky The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas, written and directed by Elina Psykou. Antonis, a veteran TV host plagued by plummeting ratings, stages his own kidnapping to revive public interest. “Of course things go awry,” she says. “It’s a very original story and I think it will appeal to people who enjoy dark humour.”

For the fourth year running GFF incorporates the Greek-Australian Short Film Festival, showcasing nine shorts back-to-back in one meaty session. Australian audiences will get a second chance to see Melbourne-based filmmaker Natalie Cunningham’s You Know What I Love You, after it screened at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival.

A simple affair that follows a day in the life of Cunningham’s 94-year-old Greek-speaking grandmother, Giannoula Panagiotopoulos, it’s a heart-warming glimpse into a life that will be instantly recognisable to Greek Immigrants and yet has a certain universality.

“Yes, it’s in Greek, and she has her own particular experience, but I think it speaks to so many people,” Cunningham says. “We’re very close and I’ve spent my whole life listening to her stories. I’m studying at the VCA, and we had the task of making a ten-minute short last year, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a film about her.”

Cunningham and assistant director Kylie Beale spent the entire day shooting, including capturing a gold moment involving a rather large log for the fire which Giannoula deals with ingeniously. “You can imagine the volume of material we had to work with, and all the memories. It was really hard to get it down to 10 minutes.” Maybe there’s a feature in it? “She’s got enough stories.”

Stephen A Russell

For more information about the 20th Greek Film Festival, go to

Greek Central Archaeological Council lists Megara as preservation site

Source: Ekathimerini

The Greek Central Archaeological Council (KAS) on Wednesday unanimously voted for an area of 4,000 hectares in the western Attica region of Megara to be listed for protection as an archaeological site.

Located in the northern section of the Corinth Canal opposite the island of Salamina, Megara was a significant trading hub in antiquity, with the new archaeological area including two ancient ports.

Despite initial concerns regarding the size of the site and the difficulties that its full excavation would entail, KAS on Wednesday said that the protection of significant antiquities found at the site merit its full protection.

Such significant finds include Roman-era baths, an aqueduct, impressive fortifications, graves containing valuable burial offerings and an ancient agora, among others.

The decision by KAS will mean that all the separate excavation sites that have emerged at intervals from the 1930s to the present will be encompassed in the 4,000-hectare zone.

Documentary: First Aboriginal in the Battle of Crete


“Odyssey of a Warrior” is a documentary about Reg Saunders, the first Aboriginal Officer who took part in the battle of Crete currently being filmed and produced by journalist Michael Sweet.

Saunders’ Cretan years, where he experienced the selfless courage of the Cretan people, are central to the film and informed his views on social justice ever after. The film will use footage already shot in Crete – where Saunders’ daughters recently met the villagers who saved their father’s life – a deeply emotional and dramatic event – symbolizing a powerful contemporary multicultural message of kinship.

About this film
The story of Reg Saunders MBE (1920-1990) – the Australian army’s first Aboriginal Officer is a story of courage, humility and huge adventure.

This film tells Saunders’ life story – from growing up in Lake Condah Mission in western Victoria to leaving Melbourne on a troopship as a 19-year-old Digger in the opening days of WWII. It tells of his time in Crete in 1941 – fighting the Nazis, and then going on-the-run – an extraordinary chapter in his life, when, with the help of mountain villagers, he evaded capture for a year.

Deliverance from the hands of the Germans in Europe meant that he would go on to fight in the jungles of New Guinea, and after WWII in Korea. In each case, his return to civvy street was a harrowing indictment of Australian society at the time.

This war hero – loved by those he led, who fought for his country out of a sense of duty and pride – returned to a society blighted by injustice.

Out of uniform he suffered the indifference and outright hostility of a society where institutional racism was endemic.

After challenging the genocidal evil of the Nazis, the Japanese as they advanced towards Australia, and the communist uprising in Korea – Saunders had one last opponent to fight – Australia’s own inequitable system of entrenched racial prejudice.

As the nation’s social conscience and political system began to evolve and intervene on the welfare of all Australians, in 1969 Saunders took up a position in the newly-created Office of Aboriginal Affairs as one of its first liaison officers.

There he helped change the behaviour of the Australian public service in its interactions with Indigenous people.

A multi-layered story this drama-documentary will use rarely-seen archive material, dramatic reconstruction, and sequences filmed in Greece and Victoria.

The film will use footage already shot in Crete – of Saunders’ daughters recent meeting the villagers who saved their father’s life – a deeply emotional and dramatic event – symbolising a powerful contemporary multicultural message of kinship.

In Crete, Saunders witnessed the selfless courage of another ancient rural people. The experience informed his views on social justice ever after. His experiences in Crete are central to the film.

This documentary is made with the assistance and support of the Saunders family and has exclusive access to personal records, documents and photographs.

AUD $100000
AUD $140000
40 minutes

This film is about the importance of strong, mutually supportive multicultural retionships in Australian society – it is about the evolution of Aboriginal rights, but it is also a story of Australia’s rich history of South European migrant culture that stemmed from the bonds created in war.

Reg Saunders is an important role model and his story has never been documented on a canvas it deserves for the screen.

A deeper knowledge of the story of Reg Saunders and his legacy. Measurable outcomes relate to the educational outreach activities related to the production including monitoring the level of distribution of the film on DVD. The producer will approach Australian broadcasters with a view to acquiring the film when complete.

The intention would be for the film to be comercially distributed on DVD/Blu-ray as well as broadcast. The producer will seek distribution in schools as a teaching material for Australian High schools’ curriculum.

Writer/Director Mike Sweet is a former documentary director and producer of BBC TV documentaries. He has also made radio documentaries for the ABC (ABC Radio National).

Full details of Mike Sweet’s broadcast documentary productions can be found at

Mike Sweet’s work for the BBC (The Slate arts series) was nominated for a ‘Race in the Media Award’ by the UK’s Commission for Racial Equality. His other broadcast and production credits include:

The Slate – Six Postcards from Another Wales. [BBC]
The Slate – William’s Story. [BBC]. Both films dealt with multicuturalism in the UK.

Double Dragons – Hong Kong Handover special [BBC]
La Musique du Salon Deben Bhattacharya. [ETV – Bangladesh/France coproduction]
Witness 19.2.42: The bombing of Darwin [for Darwin City Council/Dept of Veterans’ Affairs]
Target Darwin [Online/iPad production for Fairfax Media]

ABC Radio National documentary production credits:
Producer: By Design: ‘Searching for Beni’. Hindsight: ‘The Road to War’.
BBC Radio credits: ‘A Different Dragon – Hong Kong Handover’.
South Asia Today.

See more at:

Braith Anasta leads Greece to victory

Braith Anasta leads Greece to victory

By Terry Liberopoulos
at Mac Stadium, Budapest

Wests Tigers’ Braith Anasta showed why he is a quality player after he led Greece to a 90-0 whitewash over Hungary at Budapest on Sunday.

Anasta piled on 46 points for the Greeks, who included eight players from the Greek Rugby League domestic competition. He scored four tries and kicked 15 goals from as many attempts, many of them wide out.

“I was really nervous before the game. I talked to my mum and brother before the game and I was emotional,” said Anasta.

“To play for Greece was a proud moment for me, for my dad and grandparents. It was the first time I was in Greece and I loved it.”

Greece took just three minutes of play to open their account when Sebastian Sell scored after a backline movement.

It was 12-0 after 10 minutes of play after Kristian Aroutsidis scored wide out. Anasta kicked the conversion from the sideline.

Terry Constantine scored two tries in three minutes, Mitchell Zampetides scored a brace and Anasta went over for his first of his four pointers as Greece established a 42-0 lead at half-time.

Anasta scored two quick tries early in the second half before Nake Ioannis, one of the eight players chosen from Greek domestic competition, burrowed over from dummy half to score in the 52nd minute. Anasta added the extras and Greece were cruising at 60-0.

Adam Bouris added two tries while Terry Conastantinou crossed for his third try of the game.

Sell scored in the 73rd minute and it was fitting that Anasta finished the scoring when he latched onto an intercept to score with two minutes remaining.

The positive to come out of the game was the way the local Greek players performed.

“The European and International Federation need to put resources into countries like Greece and Hungary,” said Anasta.

“The passion for the game in Greece was incredible. They want to play Rugby League and we need to help them.”

Greece 90 (Braith Anasta 4, Terry Constantinou 3, Mitchell Zampatides 2, Sebastian Sell 2, Adam Boris 2, Nake Ioannis , Kristian Aroutsidis tries; Anasta 15 goals) d. Hungary 0 at Mac Stadium, Budaprest, Hungary.
Referee: Radoslav Novakovic. Half-time: Greece 42-0. Crowd: 1013.

‘In Time’: 20th Century Fox sued by Greek screenwriter

Source: digitalspy

A screenwriter has filed a lawsuit in which he alleges that 20th Century Fox stole his idea for the 2011 film In Time.

The science fiction thriller, which stars Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake, shows a future in which people stop ageing once they reach 25. Time then becomes currency, which they must purchase in order to survive.

Justin Timberlake in 'In Time'

© PicSelect

Justin Timberlake in ‘In Time’

The lawsuit, which was obtained by TMZ, claims that Odysseus Lappas wrote a screenplay in 1996 entitled Time Card.

Lappas claims that he had registered his script, which tells the story of a world in which humans must buy more time or they will die aged 25, with the Writers Guild of America.

He states in his filing that he gave the script to 20th Century Fox, who offered him $80,000 (£50,000) for the rights. However, Lappas turned the offer down after the studio refused to let him direct or produce the film.

The studio then went ahead and made In Time, which was “uncannily similar to Time Card“, the Greek screenwriter’s suit alleges.

Lappas is seeking damages worth $4.5m (£2.8m) from the studio.

With a budget totalling $40m (£25m), In Time has grossed $173m (£107m) worldwide to date.

Watch Justin Timberlake talking to Digital Spy about In Time below: