Category:August 3, 2010

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Author of My Billion Year Contract reflects on life in elite Scientology group

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wikinews interviewed author Nancy Many about her book My Billion Year Contract, and asked her about life working in the elite Scientology group known as the “Sea Org“. Many joined Scientology in the early 1970s, and after leaving in 1996 she later testified against the organization. Published in October, Many’s book has gone on to become one of the top selling new books on Scientology at Amazon.com.

Study reports that 28% of broiler chickens struggle to walk

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

A recently released report written by people from the Royal Veterinary college, the University of Warwick, and the University of Bristol has found that 27.6% of chickens reared for human consumption struggle to walk, although a “considerable variation in walking ability between flocks,” was reported. The study reported that “27.6 per cent of birds represented by this survey had a gait score of three or above.”

The study also stated that the month in which broiler chickens were least likely to have severely damaged legs was March, with it being most likely in the month of September. The study also said that the chickens which were tightly packed into a small area were more likely to have difficulties walking than chickens that were given more space.

The report finished by saying that “consumers currently know little about how broiler chickens are reared but can be shocked when presented with information about current commercial practices,” and that “Since the sustainability of intensive broiler production depends on continued consumer acceptance of the farming practices involved, the broiler industry will need to work with the scientific community to develop more robust and healthier genotypes and to ensure that optimal husbandry and management practices are fully implemented.”

Scores killed and wounded as violence escalates in Iraq

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Monday, June 20, 2005

Intense violent turmoil in Iraq continued Sunday and Monday when attacks across the country killed more than 80 people. A busy restaurant frequented by police officers was the target of the deadliest attack: a suicide bombing that claimed 23 lives and wounded more than 36 others.

“There were a number of policemen outside the restaurant having tea from Alaa, the tea man. There were two tables with chairs around them where the policemen were sitting. Then a suicide bomber came close to them and blew himself up,” said a 29-year-old witness, Qusay Kaabi, according to the Washington Post. “It was a very loud explosion, and the restaurant was filled with smoke and dust.”

The New York Times reported that, in an aura of resignation, older men just 80 yards away resumed curbside games of checkers even before workers finished cleaning away chunks of flesh. “It’s Iraqis who die like this, not Americans,” Muhammad Jasem, 25 and unemployed, told the Times. “We never saw this kind of thing before they came.” In the capital city alone, more than 600 civilians have perished in the six weeks since Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari named his Shiite-led cabinet on April 28.

In Tikrit on Sunday, a man killed himself and five Iraqis while targeting a U.S. military base in a car rigged with explosives. Early Monday, a suicide attacker in Ibril detonated his vehicle in a crowd of police recruits. Local officials confirm the blast killed 15 and wounded 100, some severely. The city was cited just yesterday by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as one of many relatively stable areas of the country.

The surge in violence has occurred while U.S. Marines and Iraqi troops battle insurgents near Karabilah on the Syrian border. British and American warplanes pounded targets to support a 1,000 Marine force. A Marine statement also said patrols in the devastated city of Fallujah came under attack Sunday. According to the statement, 15 insurgents were killed while the attack was repulsed.

U.S. Postal Service running out of money

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tensions are running high at the U.S. Postal Service as it faces an enormous budget shortfall. Even after announcing it was cutting 3,000 jobs, the beleaguered government agency is still quickly running out of money.

Postmaster General John Potter asked the United States Congress for help on Wednesday, once again bringing up the possibility of reducing mail delivery from six to five days a week. The service reduction would save approximately $3.5 billion this year.

Another way to cut costs could include changes to how it pays for its employee retirement plan, which would save a further $2 billion. Closing small and rural post offices is another possibility that has been discussed.

Many measures have already been taken to stem the agency’s losses. Construction of new facilities has been put on hold and existing ones put up for sale, millions of man-hours have been cut, and executive salaries have been frozen.

House Oversight Post Office Subcommmittee chairman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.) has expressed reluctance with the plan to reduce service, saying “With the Postal Service facing budget shortfalls the subcommittee will consider a number of options to restore financial stability and examine ways for the Postal Service to continue to operate without cutting services.”

Other than cost cutting, Congress could also appropriate taxpayer dollars to fund the struggling Postal Service, which currently does not rely on public funding outside of a subsidy for international voting mail and services for the blind.

If nothing is done, the USPS will soon run completely out of money, and may be unable to pay many of its bills. Salaries are the agency’s highest priority to continue paying, though other debts may have to wait to be paid, said Potter. Last year the Postal Service lost $2.8 billion.

Canadian annual seal hunt begins amid controversy

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, opened the Canadian seal hunt amid protests by animal rights groups, at a time when bans on seal product imports are becoming more prevalent internationally.

Seal hunters along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence are allowed to catch a maximum of 270,000 Harp Seal pups from a total estimated population of 5.5 million. 8,200 is the allowable catch of Hooded seals from an estimated population of 600,000, and seal hunters may catch 50,000 grey seals from an approximate population of 300,000.

The Harp seal pups may be killed as soon as they have molted their white pelts, which occurs 10 to 21 days after birth.

It is reported that Russia has shut down the seal hunt on its shores. The United States, Netherlands, and Belgium ban the import of seal products. The European Parliament committee has endorsed a ban on seal product imports by the 27 European Union (EU) member states, in the form of a proposed bill that would still allow the Canadian Inuit to trade in seal products for first nation cultural purposes. All members of the EU must approve the bill for it to become law.

“While we are extremely disappointed that the European Parliament has called for a ban of the trade of seal products, our position remains that any ban on a humanely conducted hunt, such as Canada’s, is completely without merit. We will continue to explore all legal and diplomatic options and we will exercise our rights to their fullest extent under international trade laws if and when it becomes necessary and appropriate.”

“Sealing is a significant source of income in many small, isolated coastal communities throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the North, and creates critical employment opportunities for processing plants, as well as fuel, food and equipment suppliers in coastal communities,” said Minister Shea.

“Our government will continue to defend the rights of Canadian sealers to provide a livelihood for their families through our humane, responsible and sustainable hunt,” she said. “It represents as much as 35 per cent of a sealer’s annual income and is important for thousands of families at a time of year when other fishing options are limited at best.”

The first area to open up to the seal hunt was the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where 30 percent of the catch is allowed.

Sixteen observer permits have been issued. “The majority of the observers are people who protest against the seal hunt, but there are journalists and other observers as well. We try to make sure there’s an even proportion of sealing activity and observer activity,” Mr. Jenkins, Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesman said. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is going to observe and record the commercial seal hunt.

“It’s devastating to be here, to know the commercial seal hunt has started again. It’s clear that a change is on the horizon with the European Parliament voting on a proposal to ban seal-product trade in the EU and many people in the Canadian sealing industry believe that could spell the beginning of the end of the commercial seal hunt,” commented Rebecca Aldworth, director of the Canadian chapter of Humane Society International.

2008 YODEX Review: Varied competitions, Vast creations

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Monday, May 26, 2008

The 27th Young Designers’ Exhibition 2008, recognized by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) as the largest show of student creations, recently ended Sunday May 18. It was held at the Taipei World Trade Center. Improvements and expansions were seen with 107 academical and industrial units. Different design competitions participated and showcased their products and also received awards.

It’s no doubt that companies related to design and cultural industries want to discover creative talents from academical units in this exhibition. However, most companies still try to showcase different conceptional and applicative products in order to promote Taiwan’s designs into the world market. A typical example is Fora Series, a photo-voltaic product series by the Tsann Kuen Trans-nation Group.

Before entering into their careers, students participated in this show and showcased varied styles that differ from the usual industrial businesspeople. To get more opportunities and in order to interact with the design and cultural industries, students also participated in vast competitions and tried to get the top places. Some students also tried to design conceptional products in conjunction with industrial designs, especially in some design competitions.

In summary, not only did the 2008 YODEX, have companies which can discover talents and showcase achievements of industrial design in the exhibition, but students can make their stages to showcase excellences from their creations in several competitions related to YODEX.

Wikinews Shorts: April 19, 2007

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A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, April 19, 2007.

Contents

  • 1 Compensation sought for New Zealand’s Internet outage
  • 2 Peruvian farmers issue warning to government
  • 3 Missile shield to feature in talks
  • 4 Water cuts possible as Australia faces drought
  • 5 Russian plans for Bering Strait tunnel received with skepticism

Wikinews reported previously on an Internet outage in New Zealand that lasted for over five hours. Telecom New Zealand, the company that owns and operates the “local loop”, said that they will review compensation for its customers on a case-by-case basis.

A wholesale ISP is attempting to give its subscribers compensation for the outage. CallPlus says that it is asking Telecom for the thousands of dollars it needs to pass on to its affected customers. They doubt Telecom will give them the money needed.

Related news

  • “Outage leaves tens of thousands of New Zealanders without Internet” — Wikinews, April 18, 2007

Sources


Farmers in Peru striking over the Peruvian government’s stance on coca, have issued an ultimatum. The ultimatum appears to be: negotiate within 24 hours, or face roadblocks indefinitely.

The protests come in response to a coca eradication drive and measures Peruvian president Alan García is taking against cocaine production in the country.

Peruvian police have arrested the leader of the Shining Path rebel group, Jimmy Rodríguez on charges of organising anti-government protests.

Sources


Meetings are underway at NATO headquarters in an attempt to reassure Russia that the missile defence plans pose no threat. The United States maintains the system is to protect against missiles from rogue states, whereas Russia sees the system as compromising its strategic interests in the region.

In today’s talks NATO allies encouraged the United States to make the planned anti-missile shield capable of covering all of Europe. They did this without committing themselves to joining the project.

Reaction to the proposed system in European states has been mixed.


Irrigation water to a substantial proportion of Australia’s farming regions could be cut due to drought conditions, Australian PM John Howard has warned.

Mr Howard’s comments concerned the Murray-Darling Basin, one of the largest systems in Australia. “If it doesn’t rain in sufficient volume over the next six to eight weeks, there will be no water allocations for irrigation purposes in the basin”, adding that the drought conditions could continue until May 2008.

He continued “It is a grim situation, and there is no point in pretending to Australia otherwise,” he said. “We must all hope and pray there is rain.”

Sources


Russia, in coordination with the government of the United States and Canada, is planning to build a tunnel from Russia to Alaska, Viktor Razbegin, deputy head of industrial research at the Russian Economy Ministry, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday.

The tunnel is budgeted to cost US$65 billion and would take 10 to 15 years to build. The tunnel is to provide train and automobile transport between Alaska and the Russian Far East, and to carry petroleum and natural gas pipelines, and high-voltage electrical cable.

The proposed tunnel is 64 miles long, or about 100 kilometers, in total, and is designed to link with two islands in the Bering Strait. The project is expected to have a very positive economic effect in the area.

Derek Brower, an energy market expert, called the project “absurd” and suggested the Russian government is playing political games to threaten its European customers to sign energy deals.

“I’ve never heard of this plan,” said Sergei Grigoryev, Vice President of oil pipeline monopoly Transneft.

“To be honest, anyone who look[s] at the map will realize that the project is too hard to implement,” an anonymous government source told Reuters.

Sources


Category:May 26, 2010

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Gay marriage banned in three states; other ballot measures decided

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Voters in California, Florida and Arizona voted on Tuesday to ban gay marriage, bringing about a victory for conservatives on a day which did not bring many conservative wins.

Meanwhile, voters in Colorado, South Dakota and California voted on measures which would have restricted abortion in those states. In Massachusetts and Michigan, voters passed measures that loosen marijuana laws. Finally, in the state of Washington a measure was passed that allows physician-assisted suicide.

The California ballot measure, Proposition 8, overturns the recent June ruling by the California State Supreme Court in the case In re Marriage Cases which reversed a 1977 statute passed by the California State Legislature and a 2000 ballot measure, Proposition 22, which also banned same-sex marriage by defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The wording of Proposition 8 is identical to Proposition 22. It was noted that many of the African-Americans and Latinos who cast their votes for Obama, also voted for the measure. The measure passed at 52% to 48%.

Lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres noted, “This morning, when it was clear that Proposition 8 had passed in California, I can’t explain the feeling I had. I was saddened beyond belief. Here we just had a giant step toward equality and then on the very next day, we took a giant step away.”

Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen.

Singer Melissa Etheridge, who is also a lesbian, stated that she would no longer pay taxes due to the passing of Proposition 8, announcing in a blog post, “Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen.”

Also in California, voters rejected a measure which would require parental notification for a minor to receive an abortion. The measure was rejected with the same percentage as Proposition 8, 52% to 48%. Meanwhile in Colorado, voters rejected a measure that would define life as beginning at conception. While the measure did not specifically mention abortion it would have required legislators and courts to confront legal rights for fetuses – effectively preventing abortion. The measure was defeated in a wide margin, 73% to 27%

In South Dakota, voters also defeated an anti-abortion measure which would have outlawed abortion in all cases except in the case of rape, incest or if the mother’s health was in serious question. If passed, the law would most likely have been challenged as unconstitutional.

In Michigan, voters approved a measure which legalizes medical marijuana. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, voters approved a ballot question that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana in which the possession of an ounce or less would be punishable by a $100 fine. The measure will also require minors under the age 18 to participate in and complete a drug awareness program and do community service. Failure to do so, would net the minor a $1,000 fine.

“Tonight’s results represent a sea change. Voters have spectacularly rejected eight years of the most intense government war on marijuana since the days of ‘Reefer Madness,'” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “The people were ahead of the politicians on this issue; they recognize and want a more sensible approach to our marijuana policy,” said Whitney Taylor, the chair of Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, which backed the Massachusetts proposition.

Also, in Massachusetts, voters overwhelmingly, in every single Massachusetts city and town, rejected a ballot measure which would have eliminated the state income tax by 2010, the ballot measure was sponsored by the Committee for Small Government, which is headed up by two libertarians, Michael Cloud, a Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2002 and Carla Howell, Libertarian Party candidate for governor in the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial election.

The last time the income tax elimination measure was on the ballot was in 2002, where it was defeated, narrowly by 45.3%. This stunned supporters of the income tax, who mounted a fierce campaign against the measure this time warning Massachusetts residents that repealing the income tax would have drastic effects on the state’s finances, leading to cuts in services, education and local aid.

Finally, voters passed a question which bans dog racing in Massachusetts, which will lead to the closure of Massachusetts’ two greyhound racing tracks, Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park and Wonderland Greyhound Park.

The campaign against dog racing was headed up by the Committee to Protect Dogs and endorsed by GREY2K USA and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals along with other animal protection organizations who claimed that dog racing was inhumane as the dogs were stuffed into cramped cages and endured injuries. The measure was opposed by the park owners including George Carney who owns the Rayham-Taunton park and Charles Sarkis, a restaurateur who owns Wonderland.

“We did it. We did it for the dogs,” said Carey Thiel, executive director of GREY2K USA. “For 75 years, greyhounds in our state have endured terrible confinement and suffered serious injuries. We’re better than that,” Thiel added.

One campaign supporter, Sandy Bigelow noted, “It means everything. We’ve worked so hard for the dogs and they heard us. It feels so good. Oh, God, it feels so good.”

George Carney said of the results, “It’s not a very pleasant thing right now. Some of these people have been here 40 years. Here’s a company that did nothing wrong, paid their federal taxes on time, paid the town on time. The town is going to be a severe loser, and a lot of people here dedicated their life to the company.”

We did it. We did it for the dogs.

Both sides used emotionally-charged advertisements, the anti-racing side showing “sad-eyed greyhounds,” while the pro-racing side highlighted the workers who would be out of work when the tracks close.

Both measures must now come before the Massachusetts Governor’s Council for approval.

A ballot initiative approved by voters in the north-western state of Washington will make it the second state to permit physician-assisted suicide. Initiative 1000 follows the ten-year-old example of the Death With Dignity Act of neighboring Oregon, and will allow physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication for a terminally ill patient to administer themselves. It was approved by a margin of 16%, and the ‘Yes’ campaign outspent the ‘No’ campaign by more than three-to-one. The law comes into effect in 2009.

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