Demand for biofuel irrigation worsens global water crisis

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Monday, August 21, 2006

A report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) says rising demand for irrigation to produce food and biofuels will aggravate scarcities of water. “One in three people is enduring one form or another of water scarcity,” states the report compiled by 700 experts.

IWMI warns there has to be a radical transformation in the management of water resources – citing as examples Australia, south-central China, and last year’s devastating drought in India. Report authors claim that the price of water could double or triple over the next two decades. The report, backed by the United Nations and farm research groups, shows that globally, water usage had increased by six times in the past 100 years and would double again by 2050 – driven mainly by irrigation and demands by agriculture.

Record oil prices and concerns about rapid onset climate change are driving more countries to produce biofuels – from sugarcane, corn or wood – as an alternative to fossil fuel. “If people are growing biofuels and food it will put another new stress,” says David Molden, who led the study at the Sri Lanka-based IWMI. “The big solution is to find ways to grow more food with less water. Basically, more crop per drop,” Molden said. “The number one recommendation… is to look to improve rain-fed systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.”

The report says conquering hunger and coping with an estimated 3 billion more humans by 2050 will result in an 80 percent increase in water use for agriculture. Irrigation absorbs around 74 percent and is likely to surge by 2050.

“We will have to change business as usual in order to deal with growing scarcity,” said Frank Rijsberman, director general of the IWMI, of the report released at the 2006 “World Water Week” conference in Stockholm. Solutions included helping poor countries to grow more food with available fresh water via simple, low-cost measures, a shift from past policies that favoured expensive dams or canals, the report said.

According to Rijsberman, there are two types of shortages: those observed in regions where water is over-exploited, causing a lowering of groundwater levels and rivers to dry up; and those in countries lacking the technical and financial resources to capture water – despite its abundance.

Billions of people in Asia and Africa already faced water shortages because of poor water management, he said. “We will not run out of bottled water any time soon, but some countries have already run out of water to produce their own food,” he said.

The report said that a calorie of food took roughly 1 litre of water to produce, with a kilo of grain needing only 500-4,000 litres compared to a kilo of industrially produced meat taking 10,000 litres.

“Without improvements in water productivity the consequences of this will be even more widespread water scarcity and rapidly increasing water prices.” Rijsberman said water scarcity in Africa was caused by a lack of infrastructure to get the water to the people who needed it. “The water is there, the rainfall is there, but the infrastructure isn’t there,” Rijsberman told reporters.

Other recommendations for certain regions include the extension and the improvement of agriculture using rainwater, the introduction of cereal varieties that need less water as well as the development of irrigation systems.

But the priority, Rijsberman stresses, is to change mentalities and often outdated government policies. “Government policies and their approach to water are probably the most urgent that need changing in the short term,” he said.

There is, he says, enough land, water and human capacity to produce enough food for a growing population over the next 50 years, but one of the challenges is to provide enough water for agriculture without damaging the environment. “Agriculture is driving water scarcity and water scarcity is driving environmental degradation and destruction,” he said.

In Australia last week, Rijsberman said he would “not be surprised to see the price of water double or triple over the next two decades.”

Eleventh Docudays UA concludes

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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Eleventh International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival Docudays UA, in Kyiv, Ukraine, ended on Friday.

The Awards Ceremony was held in the Red Hall of the Kyiv Cinema House. There were 36 documentary films competing for prizes in three festival programs: DOCU/Short, DOCU/Right, DOCU/Life. There were also special prizes from Students’ Jury, Audience Award, and the Andriy Matrosov Award from Docudays UA Organizing Committee.

The special guest of the Awards Ceremony was a symbol of the festival — Nikita Mikhalko. He is featured on the official posters of the festival. Nikita was on Maidan Nezalezhnosti on February 19, in the morning. The picture of him was chosen by the organizers as the “image that would deliver the spirit of our [Docudays UA] festival to the best of its possible might”. The piece of movie where he is taking tangerines from a woman that morning has become the official trailer of the festival. The episode is featured in the opening film of the festival Euromaidan: Rough Cut. Thus Nikita and his burning glasses have become the symbols of the festival. The organizers decided to find out who the symbol of the festival was, and if he was alive. They have started looking for him and luckily, they were able to ask him to come as a special guest of the Awards Ceremony. Nikita had the opportunity to say on the microphone, “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine), and have the whole hall hollering back at him, “Heroiam Slava” (Glory to the Heroes).

The Eleventh Docudays UA Winners are (in the order of awarding):

Audience Award

The Audience Award went to Joanna, directed by Aneta Kopacz, Poland, 2013.

Student’s Jury Award

The Students’ Jury Award went to Tucker and the Fox, directed by Arash Lahooti, Iran, 2013, awarded for “an optimistic story about a life-long passion”.

DOCU/Short

Joanna, directed by Aneta Kopacz, Poland, 2013, received special mention. The jury chose it for “filmmaker’s ability to be both intimate and discreet”

Mom, directed by Lidia Sheinina, Russia, 2013, received special mention for “ability of the filmmaker to find in the closed world of one apartment ‘things that quicken the heart'”.

The main prize went to Liza, Go Home!, directed by Oksana Buraja, Lithuania, Estonia, 2012. The film was awarded for “filmmaker’s poetic sensibility and respect for other humans’ secrets”.

Andrei Zagdansky, a Ukrainian-American, was awarding. The other two members of the jury were Victoria Belopolskaya of Russia, and Stéphanie Lamorré of France.

DOCU/Right

No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, directed by Callum Macrae, UK, 2013, received special mention. The film was awarded for “the powerful use of video advocacy in global awareness-raising and opinion-shaping regarding the mass murders of civilians belonging to a Tamil minority in Sri Lanka”.

Captain and His Pirate, directed by Andy Wolff, Belgium, Germany, 2012, received special mention for “exceptional courage of the film crew and an outstanding presentation of international piracy phenomenon as presented by a victim and his prison guard”.

The main prize went to Mother’s Dream, directed by Valerie Gudenus, Switzerland, 2013. The jury awarded the film for “a highly sensitive, empathic, and artistic presentation of a controversial and socially resonant human rights problem, affecting the fates of women and children globally”.

Natalka Zubar of Ukraine announced the winners. The other two members of the jury were Andrzej Poczobut of Belarus, and Oksana Sarkisova of Hungary.

DOCU/Life

Crepuscule, directed by Valentyn Vasyanovych, Ukraine, 2014, received special mention. The film was awarded for “a visually and emotionally superior depiction of human resilience, sensibility, and interdependence”.

Night Labor, directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, USA, Canada, 2013, received special mention for “a provocative, atypical, allegorical description of industrial work and personal freedom”.

The main prize went to The Last Limousine, directed by Daria Khlestkina, Russia, 2014, awarded for “a dignified, compassionate portrayal of state-factory workers lost in transition, but not in humanity”. The jury mentioned the film was perfectly casted.

The whole jury was present: Boris Miti? of Serbia, Chris McDonald of Canada, and Simone Baumann of Germany.

Andriy Matrosov Award from the Docudays UA Organizing Committee

The Andrey Matrosove Award went to A Diary of a Journey, directed by Piotr Stasik, Poland, 2013.

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People are gathering. Image: Antanana.

A queue is forming. Image: Antanana.

The Red Hall of the Kyiv Cinema House. Image: Antanana.
The hosts of the event are the journalists Andrii Saichuk and Nataliia Humeniuk. Image: Antanana.
Nataliia Humeniuk, translator and photographer. Image: Antanana.
Nikita Mikhalko is featured on the festival poster and trailer. Image: Antanana.
The festival gift shop team is giving the Audience Award. Image: Antanana.
The film Joanna (director Aneta Kopacz, Poland, 2013) is awarded. Image: Antanana.
The representative of Aneta Kopacz is taking the prize. Image: Antanana.
The Students’ Jury: Viktor Kylymar, Oleksandr Shkrabak, Halia Vasylenko, Petro Vyalkov, Tetyana Chesalova. Image: Antanana.
Tucker and the Fox (director Arash Lahooti, Iran, 2013) is awarded. Image: Antanana.
The googles would help him to film even more. Image: Antanana.
The Festival diploma. Image: Antanana.
The cobblestone from Maidan Nezalezhnosti is the main festival trophy. Image: Antanana.
The trophy goes to Iran. Image: Antanana.
Andrei Zagdansky (Ukraine) announces the winners for DOCU/Short. Image: Antanana.
The first special mention: Joanna (Aneta Kopacz, Poland, 2013). Image: Antanana.
The representative of the director. Image: Antanana.
The 2nd special mention: Mom (director Lidia Sheinina, Russia, 2013). Image: Antanana.
Main prize: Liza, Go Home! (director Oksana Buraja, Lithuania, Estonia, 2012). Image: Antanana.
The journalist, director Natalka Zubar. Image: Antanana.
Special mention: No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka (director Callum Macrae, UK, 2013) Anthem of Ukraine. Image: Antanana.
Special mention: Captain and His Pirate (director Andy Wolff, Belgium, Germany, 2012). Image: Antanana.
Main prize: Mother’s Dream (director Valerie Gudenus, Switzerland, 2013). Image: Antanana.
Ambassador of Switzerland to Ukraine Christian Schoenenberger is taking the prize. Image: Antanana.
Chris McDonald (Canada), Simone Baumann (Germany). Image: Antanana.
Special mention: Crepuscule (director Valentyn Vasyanovych, Ukraine, 2014). Image: Antanana.
Boris Miti? (Serbia), Simone Baumann. Image: Antanana.
Special mention: Night Labor (directors David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, USA, Canada, 2013). Image: Antanana.
Main prize: The Last Limousine (director Daria Khlestkina, Russia, 2014). Image: Antanana.
The Last Limousine. Image: Antanana.
Daria Khlestkina. Image: Antanana.
The cobblestone from Maidan Nezalezhnosti is taken to Moscow. Image: Antanana.
Andriy Matrosov Award from the Organizing Committee. Image: Antanana.
A Diary of a Journey (director Piotr Stasik, Poland, 2013) is awarded. Image: Antanana.

After the ceremony The Last Limousine, the winning film of DOCU/Life program, was screened.

The festival was first held in 2003, called at that time Docudays on Human Rights. In 2006 the festival was accepted as part of the international Human Rights Film Network at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. It is usually held during the last week of March.

Perfect Wedding Ring On The Finger Or Through The Nose

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Submitted by: Daisy May

What a hassle and tedious task wedding planning can be especially if left till the last minute. Leading up to the wedding if crucial wedding plans are not adhered too then you can expect to run into problems. Overlooking things like the sending of invitations, booking a caterer or flowers are easily forgotten so therefore careful planning in advance is vital to ensure no last minute hic ups. A checklist with certain days and dates allotted to different jobs will make all preparations a lot less stressful.

By doing it this way you can tick off each job as you go along. Your wedding checklist should also include choosing your perfect wedding ring.

Simple sounds easy but when choosing a wedding ring it is not as simple as you would imagine. Much detail has to be taken into account to claim the perfect wedding bands. Careful thought needs to go behind the scenes before making a decision. This is a Jewelry piece that denotes together forever and is worn for that length of time – so choose carefully.

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Most crucial matters to be addressed is your budget when buying wedding rings. Check your bank to see if the balance allows you to purchase your jewelry piece. Because of the penny situation you may be limited on choice of precious metals.

Just because less in price does not mean less in loveliness, cheap cut gold or silver wedding rings hold as much beauty as that of the more expensive kind.

Most regular materials used are yellow gold. Gold rings still uphold the number one position for popularity in wedding and engagement rings but hot on the heels is white gold which also comes in stunning and unique designs. White gold can be very complimentary to other materials particularly platinum.

Material like platinum is commonly exchanged at the altar by happy couples in todays modern society. It is one of the hardest durable metals which makes it apt for his and her wedding rings. Platinum wedding rings symbolize endurance of love. However and take note, wedding rings made of this material are more costly. Bear in mind its durability where savings can be made if this is to be a lifetime Jewelry piece.

Precious metals will always come at a price but one worth considering is titanium which is noted as the wedding ring for the male species. Titanium is long lasting and a lot less expensive than platinum. Titanium wedding rings can be very deceiving in appearance and is easily mistaken for white gold.

Choosing wedding rings can prove to be an ordeal due to the vast variety of stunning and elegant designs so take your time and plan ahead.

Whether the perfect wedding ring sits on the finger or through the nose take the bull by the horns – now go get your man.

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wedding-organizing.com

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New law to help asbestos sufferers in Victoria, Australia

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

New legislation in Victoria, Australia will provide for greater compensation for victims suffering from effects of exposure to asbestos. The legislation is called “Bernie Banton law”, after the late campaigner for asbestos-related issues. The law will remove a restriction which prevented asbestos victims from making another claim after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Banton contracted mesothelioma after working for the Netherlands-based company James Hardie, and died in 2007.

Prior to the Banton law victims of asbestos exposure could seek compensation for asbestosis, a disease resulting from exposure which causes lung scarring, but were unable to seek compensation if they were later diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a cancer which develops in the sac surrounding the lungs and chest cavity, abdominal cavity, or the sac surrounding the heart. Patients with malignant mesothelioma generally do not have positive outcomes, and once diagnosed have six months to a year to live. Asbestos usage has been banned in Victoria, Australia since 2003.

Allowing an exception to the normal rule that court-awarded compensation is final will allow compensation for the true effects of asbestos exposure.

Victorian Premier John Brumby welcomed the legislation, saying: “Victorian workers deserve fair compensation for illnesses and injuries they have received just by doing their job.” Brumby acknowledged that Victoria had lagged behind other states in its asbestos compensation practices. “Allowing an exception to the normal rule that court-awarded compensation is final will allow compensation for the true effects of asbestos exposure,” explained Brumby.

Bernie Banton’s widow, Karen Banton, stood alongside John Brumby as the legislation was announced, and spoke out in favor of the law. “The uncertainty that these Victorian families have suffered up until this point, the dilemma of whether I claim and whether I wait … it would be a terrible choice to have to make,” she said. She said her late husband would have been honored by the legislation’s passage, and was appreciative that his name was associated with the cause of justice in the country. “I’m sure Bernie’s looking down from heaven, feeling very honoured and humbled that his name continues to be associated with the fight to correct injustice,” she said.

There’s a lot of asbestos around, this is a live issue for the community and we strongly welcome this initiative.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Victorian Trades Hall Council supported the legislation’s passage, as did Martin Kingham of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Victoria. Kingham said that in the past asbestos sufferers were wary about whether or not to make a claim: “They’ve had to gamble on whether to make a claim now and to cut off any compensation for more serious fatal illness or to, basically, sit it out and wait and see what happens to them and potentially not getting compensated for their original asbestosis.”

“There’s a lot of asbestos around, this is a live issue for the community and we strongly welcome this initiative,” said Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Victorian secretary Steve Dargavel. Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Brian Boyd called the legislation “a good and decent thing” but said more action was needed to better protect asbestos victims’ families. The additional claims are expected to help approximately 50 people each year. The legislation will be introduced in the State Parliament next year.

Satellite imagery shows viewing stand for North Korean nuclear test

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Sunday, May 8, 2005

According to American and foreign officials, White House and Pentagon officials are closely monitoring spy satellite imagery of North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Preparations seem to be made for testing a nuclear weapon, including the construction of a reviewing stand, most likely for scientists or North Korean officials. It would be the first test of a nuclear weapon by North Korea.

United States officials warned that the intentions of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il are unknown, and the constructions may turn out to be a show. The extent of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities are still unknown. According to the U.S. government agency CIA, North Korea may have one or two primitive nuclear bombs. According to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, North Korea may possess the material and equipment to manufacture up to six nuclear warheads. North Korea’s neighbours, however, have been thorougly briefed on the implications of a nuclear weapons test by North Korea.

North Korea is among the 188 countries to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, although they have later withdrawn again. This treaty states that only the United States, Russia, the People’s Republic of China, France, and the United Kingdom are allowed to have nuclear weapons. Kim Duk Hong, one of the regime’s most senior defectors, says that North Korea resumed the development of its nuclear weapon program as soon as the treaty was signed. Kim also stated that North Korea gained much of its expertise from Pakistan, and that only the death of Kim Jong Il and the destruction of his regime will stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

In October 2002, U.S. sources stated that during a visit by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, North Korea admitted to running a clandestine nuclear weapons program. This was widely seen as a violation of both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the 1994 U.S.-North Korea nuclear pact, which were signed during the Clinton administration. North Korean officials stated that the reactivation of their weapon of mass destruction program was in response to “imperialist threats” (presumably by the United States). The United States proceeded to stop shipments of fuel oil under the Agreed Framework.

In late December 2002 North Korea drove United Nations weapons inspectors out of the country, announcing plans to reactivate a dormant nuclear fuel processing laboratory and power plant north of Pyongyang, if the United States did not agree to a non invasion pact. This nuclear reactor is thought by U.S. officials to be the source for plutonium for two previously produced atomic bombs.

Wikinews interviews You-peng Wang of Taipei Electrical Commercial Association

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Besides becoming a political stomping ground for the Pan-Green and Pan-Blue coalitions, there are other changes from past years of Taipei Audio Video Fair (TAVF). With those changes in mind, Wikinews reporter Rico Shen interviewed You-peng Wang, chairman of the Taipei Electrical Commercial Association (TECA), the main organizer of TAVF, about the 60th year anniversary of TECA and the changes to the show.

US Federal Reserve prepares to take over AIG

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Federal Reserve took over American International Group (AIG) on Tuesday in an US$85 billion loan, in exchange for a 79.9% stake in the company.

A press release issued Tuesday stated that “the Board determined that, in current circumstances, a disorderly failure of AIG could add to already significant levels of financial market fragility and lead to substantially higher borrowing costs, reduced household wealth, and materially weaker economic performance.”

The deal allows AIG to draw up to US$85 billion in loans over the next 24 months to shore up the orderly sale of various divisions of the company without further interruption to the economy. In exchange, the Federal Reserve will have a 79.9% equity stake, primarily in the form of equity participation notes. The loan carries an interest rate of LIBOR plus 850 points. Should AIG fail, the loan is covered completely by company assets. Should AIG recover however, taxpayers could potentially recover large profits.

This news comes on the heels of the Federal Reserve refusing to bail out Lehman Brothers, forcing the company to file for bankruptcy on Monday after Bank of America(BoA) and Barclays PLC pulled out of negotiations over the weekend. The fact that AIG has thousands of divisions engaged in business across the globe sets them apart from the recent problems with other banks. AIG was built up over the last several years via the buyouts and mergers of many companies around the world, offering AIG’s stockholders a diverse base of income which allowed it to steadily increase profits.

It is this interconnectedness that had the Federal Reserve worried. Should AIG collapse, it could set off a global chain reaction in multiple markets. In an interview with the New York Times, former Treasury official Roger Altman said, “It’s the interconnectedness and the fear of the unknown. The prospect of the world’s largest insurer failing, together with the interconnectedness and the uncertainty about the collateral damage — that’s why it’s scaring people so much.”

While AIG, like many other banks, found itself embroiled in the middle of the sub-mortgage lending crisis, AIG has also been struggling to deal with controversies in other complex financial instruments such as credit default swaps. These markets have been exploding for several years, but due to lack of regulation by the government, recent reversals have seen AIG’s stock value tumble by over 90 percent in the last year.

NASA sets launch date for Space Shuttle Discovery

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

After almost two months of delay, NASA has set March 11 as the launch date for Space Shuttle Discovery. On February 22, NASA had stated that they indefinitely delayed the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, which was originally scheduled for takeoff on February 12. Launch was then further delayed until February 25 before being delayed indefinitely on February 22. NASA cited the need for additional time to evaluate the shuttle’s hydrogen fuel flow control valves.

Liftoff is set for nighttime on Wednesday, March 11, at approximately 9:20 p.m. (EST) from Launch Complex 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The official countdown to launch will commence Sunday, March 8.

“The team came through, worked hard and was efficient. It’s time now to step back and think of everything else we need to watch before launch on the 11th. There’s no better team than this one and I thank them for putting the right analysis together,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA.

NASA wanted to perform additional tests on the valves which control the amount of hydrogen fuel pumped into the external tank when the shuttle is taking off before making a decision to launch. When Space Shuttle Endeavour went into space in November 2008, one of the valves broke. NASA fears that if one breaks off on this mission, then it could damage the outside of the shuttle.

The current scheduled mission, STS-119, is set to fly the Integrated Truss Structure segment (“S” for starboard, the right side of the station, and “6” for its place at the very end of the starboard truss) and install the final set of power-generating solar arrays to the International Space Station. The arrays consist of two 115-foot-long arrays, for a total wing span of 240 feet, including the equipment that connects the two halves and allows them to twist as they track the sun. Altogether, the four sets of arrays can generate 84 to 120 kilowatts of electricity – enough to provide power for more than 40 average homes.

Commander Lee Archambault will lead Discovery’s crew of seven, along with Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.

Wikinews interviews spokesman for Greek far-left party Xekinima

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Wikinews reporter Iain Macdonald today interviewed Petros Tzomakas, a Greek far-left activist and member of Xekinima, which is the Greek division of the Committee for a Workers’ International. The party is a member of Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).

Tzomakas also sits on his local 5th Athens Municipal District committee, which is a joint effort by left-wing parties including SYRIZA, the Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow and a number of other political parties to oppose austerity measures proposed by the government. All left-wing parties in the country except the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) are involved. Tzomakas explained that the KKE prefers not to co-operate with other radical left-wing groups.

The interview comes amid tensions in cash-strapped Greece, where the government is introducing controversial austerity measures to try to ease the nation’s debt-problem. An international rescue package has been prepared by European Union member states and the International Monetary Fund – should Greece require a bailout; protests have been held against government attempts to manage the economic situation.

Man cuts off his own penis in UK restaurant

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An unnamed Polish man, 35, is being treated at a hospital in London, England after he cut off his penis with a knife at Zizzi’s pizza restaurant on Strand Street in the city of Westminster.

“We were called at 9.00 p.m. on Sunday to a restaurant on the Strand to reports of a man in possession of a knife. Officers attended to discover a man believed to be 30-40 years old suffering from an injury. He was taken to a south London hospital in a stable condition. No one else was injured and his injuries are believed to be self inflicted,” said a Scotland Yard spokesperson.

Police had to use CS tear gas on the victim in order to subdue him to get him to the hospital to receive medical attention.

Witnesses say that the man came into the restaurant, picked a knife up off the floor of the kitchen and then got onto a table and cut off his penis.

“At around 9 p.m. on Sunday, a man walked into the Zizzi restaurant on The Strand, down the stairs to the basement restaurant area and tried to enter a kitchen. Members of staff stopped him, at which he ran into a second kitchen area. The man then picked up a kitchen knife and slashed himself across the wrist and groin areas before running back into the restaurant, where he continued to stab himself,” said a spokesperson for the restaurant.

Surgeons are attempting to reattach his organ in what doctors call the first time this kind of surgery has been performed in the UK. It is not yet known if the operation was successful.

“If it doesn’t take, then you would have to re-amputate it. Attaching the penis is a very long, complex and painstaking operation,” said Francis Chinegwundoh, a urologist at St Bartholomew’s Hospital which is located in London. Chinegwundoh also said that that the victim will not feel his penis and it will not be possible for him to maintain an erection unless he uses a special machine, even if the operation were a success.

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