Attica’s local authorities are showing an interest in organic techniques of managing their parks and gardens. Rendi municipality is leading the way, and many others seem keen to follow. Last week 12 of them participated in a congress organized by Rendi municipality on «Urban greenery and ecology.» The idea for the meeting started months ago, when local government officials from Rendi and Nikaia discussed running a training seminar to teach municipal parks and gardens employees organic methods of dealing with plant diseases. There was so much interest that the seminar grew into a congress, and eventually included the entire parks and gardens services of Athens and Peristeri, and gardeners from the municipalities of Piraeus, Kallithea, Nikaia, Korydallos, Perama, Salamina, Aegaleo, Tavros, Vouliagmeni and Moschato. The meeting was the first step toward drafting a common policy on the protection of the environment and in dealing with plant diseases by using organic methods. The story goes back to 1993, when horticulturalists in Rendi had to deal with a huge problem caused by a new disease that afflicted citrus trees. Not even the most powerful agricultural chemicals could cure the city’s citrus trees, which were covered with a sticky fluid. The solution came from Rendi’s horticulturalist, Anna Katsarou, who specializes in organic gardening. The problem was solved by cultivating plants that host a parasite-eating insect in the municipality’s parks. Since then Rendi has implemented a special organic program in its parks. Cleaner, more effective chemicals and organic fertilizers made from plants are used to deal with soil salinity, organic sprays to protect plants and useful insects to deal with pests and diseases. The results are already apparent. Nikaia and Korydallos municipalities expressed interest, and the latter made its first release of useful insects this week. The City of Athens has also expressed keen interest. Rendi, Korydallos, Nikaia and Moschato municipalities are already cooperating in an attempt to increase the range of plant communities, and they are using organic methods to combat disease, taking branches with useful insects on them from Rendi to the other municipalities. Thessaloniki Internet cafe-owners lugged hundreds of computers into the city center yesterday in protest at a bill, tabled in Parliament earlier this month, which will prevent them from offering their clients online computer games under a general crackdown on illegal gambling. Protesters claim their livelihoods are at risk and demand that their sector be exempted from the remit of legislation which deems electronic games in public places illegal and imposes fines of up to 75,000 euros and jail terms of up to 12 months on offenders.