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Neola North wildfire in Utah blamed for three deaths

Monday, July 2, 2007

A wildfire in the Ashley National Forest has been blamed for three deaths and has led to the evacuation of about 500 residents of the communities of Whiterocks, Farm Creek, Paradise and Tridell in eastern Utah.

The fire broke out on Friday, June 29 at around 9:00 a.m. local time in Duschene county, north of Neola by state route 121, and proceeded to spread westward into Uintah county.

To date, the cause of the wildfire is unknown. An early report by public safety officials claimed it was caused by a faulty power line or transformer. However, a later announcement by Moon Lake Electric Association CEO Grant Earl disputed this.

By Saturday morning, the fire had spread across approximately 46 square miles of land and been blamed for three fatalities: George Houston, his son Tracy Houston, and Roger Roberson, all from Farm Creek. Eleven year old Duane Houston, George’s grandson, was able to escape the fire with only minor injuries.

The communities of Whiterocks, Farm Creek, Paradise and Tridell, consisting of approximately 500 local residents, were evacuated by Sunday, and at least five homes are known to have been destroyed. Those without family or friends to provide lodging have been relocated to the Ute Indian Tribe’s auditorium in Fort Duchesne and Union High School in Roosevelt.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency became involved in the management of fire fighting efforts on Sunday, and a specialized regional wildland fire team, the Rocky Mountain Type One Management Team, had begun to converge on the Uinta Basin to assist with the firefighting, along with about 100 members of the Utah National Guard.

Reports that same day claimed the fire was 5% contained, but that it had split into at least two separate smaller fires. Authorities declared their intention to prevent the fire from moving eastwards into Dry Fork Canyon and the town of Tridell.

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May
27

New Zealand medical student funding to be reviewed

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New Zealand medical student funding to be reviewed

Monday, February 20, 2006

The New Zealand government has announced that it will be reviewing funding for medical and dentistry students at Otago and Auckland Universities to certify the institutions’ standards and help staff retention.

The dean of Auckland University’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Professor Iain Martin says the review “can’t come soon enough”.

The Medical Students Association welcomes the review. It says that it has been worried about student debt for years “High debt encourages too many graduates overseas, or into high paying areas of practice at the expense of areas like general practice”

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May
26

News briefs:June 8, 2010">
News briefs:June 8, 2010

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May
26

Election in Moldova instigates rioting mob demanding recount">
Election in Moldova instigates rioting mob demanding recount

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Protests which began Monday escalated to a riot on Wednesday consisting of over 10,000 people in Chi?in?u, the capital of Moldova, protesting the results of Sunday’s 2009 Moldovan parliamentary election, which showed an apparent, narrow victory for the Communist Party (Partidul Comuni?tilor din Republica Moldova, PCRM). Demonstrators claim the victory was the result of electoral fraud.

The demonstration escalated to a “flash mob” of between 10,000 to 15,000 communicating via online tools like email, micro-blogging tool Twitter, and social-networking website Facebook. “We sent messages on Twitter but didn’t expect 15,000 people to join in. At the most we expected 1,000”, said Oleg Brega of the activist group Hyde Park.

Police deployed tear gas and water cannons, and fired blanks into the crowd. The rioters threw stones at the riot police and took control of the parliament building and presidential office. A bonfire was built out of parliamentary furniture and all windows below the 7th floor were broken.

Approximately one hundred protesters and 170 police officers are reported as injured. There have been conflicting reports as to whether a female protester died during the altercation.

193 protesters “have been charged with looting, hooliganism, robbery and assault,” said an Interior Ministry spokesperson. This announcement sparked another protest by those demanding the release for those detained.

There is wide speculation about who was to blame for the rioting.

President Vladimir Voronin has expelled the Romanian ambassador from Moldova, blaming Romania for the violent protests. “We know that certain political forces in Romania are behind this unrest. The Romanian flags fixed on the government buildings in Chisinau attest to this” said Voronin. “Romania is involved in everything that has happened.“ Voronin also blamed the protests on opposition leaders who used violence to seize power, and has described the event as a coup d’état.

Protesters initially insisted on a recount of the election results and are now calling for a new vote, which has been rejected by the government. Rioters were also demanding unification between Moldova and Romania. “In the air, there was a strong expectation of change, but that did not happen”, said OSCE spokesman Matti Sidoroff.File:Dorin Chirtoaca.jpg

“The elections were fraudulent, there was multiple voting” accused Chi?in?u mayor Dorin Chirtoac? of the Liberal Party. “It’s impossible that every second person in Moldova voted for the Communists. However, we believe the riots were a provocation and we are now trying to reconcile the crowd. Leaders of all opposition parties are at the scene,” said Larissa Manole of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) proclaimed the PCRM to have won 61 seats in initial counts, enough to guarantee a third term in power for Voronin, who has held the position since 2001. But the Central Election Commission has received evidence of election violations, according to RIA Novosti, and upon recounts conducted of disputed polls, the commission reported that the Communists achieved 49.48% of the Moldovian vote, giving them 60 parliamentary seats — one short of the total needed to win the presidential election. “The electoral commission also granted opposition parties permission to check voter lists, fulfilling one of their chief demands,” said Yuri Ciocan, Central Election Commission secretary.

Voronin will step down in May, however his party could elect a successor with 61 parliamentary seats without any votes from outside parties as well as amend the Constitution. With the PCRM garnering 60 seats, the opposition will have a voice in the presidential election for a new successor.

The western part of Moldova was a part of Romania from the Romania’s independence until the region was detached by the USSR in 1940 to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. On independence in 1990 the country sought union with Romania but the eastern, Russian- and Ukrainian-inhabited areas of the country declared themselves independent from Moldova and formed the state of Transnistria and movement toward union was halted.

Moldova is Europe’s poorest country, where average income is less than $250 (£168) a month. The country’s neighbours are Romania and Ukraine. Romania is a European Union (EU) state.

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May
26

UK minor faces charges for calling Scientology ‘cult’ at protest">
UK minor faces charges for calling Scientology ‘cult’ at protest

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

News media in the United Kingdom are reporting that a boy under the age of 18 was served with a court summons by City of London Police because he held a placard calling Scientology a “cult” at a peaceful protest on May 10. Human rights activists have criticized the decision to issue the 15-year-old the summons as an affront to freedom of speech, and representatives for the City of London Police force explained the actions of the police.

Individuals from the group Anonymous were protesting Scientology in the fourth protest in as many months, as part of the anti-Scientology movement Project Chanology. The Project Chanology movement began when the Church of Scientology attempted to get a leaked Scientology promotional video featuring Tom Cruise removed from websites YouTube and Gawker.com.

Members of Anonymous were motivated by the actions of the Church of Scientology, and bombarded Scientology websites and were successful in taking some of them down. Anonymous later changed tactics towards legal measures, and held international protests against Scientology on February 10, March 15, April 12, and most recently May 10.

At the May 10 protest, the 15-year-old boy was present and held up a placard which stated: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult,” with a mention at the bottom of the sign to the anti-Scientology website Xenu.net. He attended the protest held outside the Church of Scientology building on Queen Victoria Street, near St Paul’s Cathedral in London. In a post made by the boy on the anti-Scientology website Enturbulation.org, he stated: “Within five minutes of arriving I was told by a member of the police that I was not allowed to use that word, and that the final decision would be made by the inspector.” The website describes itself as “A Source for Information on Dianetics and the Scientology Organization”. Using the pseudonym “EpicNoseGuy” at the Enturbulation.org message board, the boy goes on to describe how he was “strongly advised” by police to remove the placard.

City of London Police cited section five of the Public Order Act 1986 to the boy, which deals with “harassment, alarm or distress“. In response, the boy cited a 1984 judgment given by Mr. Justice Latey in the Family Division of the High Court of Justice of Her Majesty’s Courts of Justice of England and Wales, in which Latey called Scientology a “cult” and said it was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”. In the actual 1984 judgment made by Judge Latey, he stated: “Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious. […] In my judgement it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. […] It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.” According to the boy’s post at Enturbulation.org, the City of London Police told him he had 15 minutes to remove the sign in question. He was given a court summons by the police about a half-hour later, and his sign was removed and taken by the police as evidence.

I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech.

In videos of the May 10 protest posted to YouTube, City of London Police can be seen telling protesters not to use the word “cult” in their signs. Protesters discussed the issue with police and stated that they had checked with lawyers and verified that criticizing religion was a valid form of protest. The police warned protesters that if they violated police instructions regarding usage of signs “you will be prosecuted”. A female police officer read a form statement to the 15-year-old and stated: “I’ve been asked, if you could remove it [the sign] by 11:30, if not then I’ll have to come back and either summons you or arrest you.” The boy read Mr. Justice Latey’s 1984 judgment to the police, and then said: “I’m not going to take this sign down.” He told fellow protesters: “If I don’t take the word ‘cult’ down, here [holding up his sign], I will be either, I think, most likely arrested or [given] a summons. I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech, besides which I’m only fifteen.”

After the boy was given a summons one of the protesters asked a member of the City of London Police force: “Are we allowed to say Justice Latey says Scientology is a cult?”, to which the police officer responded: “I’ve already had this discussion with people. Direct quotes by individuals, I haven’t got a problem with.”

This barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain’s free speech traditions.

“This barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain’s free speech traditions. After criminalising the use of the word ‘cult’, perhaps the next step is to ban the words ‘war’ and ‘tax’ from peaceful demonstrations?” said Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti in a statement in The Guardian. The boy has appealed for help in order to fight the potential charges and possible legal action from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Ian Haworth of the United Kingdom-based Cult Information Centre also commented on the actions of the City of London Police to The Guardian, saying: “This is an extraordinary situation. If it wasn’t so serious it would be farcical. The police’s job is to protect and serve. Who is being served and who is being protected in this situation? I find it very worrying.”

News of the summons issued to the UK minor has received significant attention on the Internet, hitting the front pages of websites Slashdot, Digg, and Boing Boing on Wednesday. The story has also been discussed in hundreds of blog postings, including sites related to the tech-sector and others related to civil liberties.

City of London police had received complaints about demonstrators using the words ‘cult’ and ‘Scientology kills’ during protests against the Church of Scientology on Saturday 10 May.

In a statement given to publications including The Guardian and The Register, a representative for the City of London Police explained the rationale for the summons: “City of London police had received complaints about demonstrators using the words ‘cult’ and ‘Scientology kills’ during protests against the Church of Scientology on Saturday 10 May. Following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service some demonstrators were warned verbally and in writing that their signs breached section five of the Public Order Act 1986. One demonstrator, a juvenile, continued to display a placard despite police warnings and was reported for an offence under section five. A file on the case will be sent to the CPS.”

“City of London Police upholds the right to demonstrate lawfully, but we have to balance that with the rights of all sections of the community not to be alarmed, distressed or harassed as a result of others’ actions,” said City of London Chief Superintendent Rob Bastable in a statement given to The Register and The Daily Telegraph. Unlike the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police Service (the territorial police force responsible for Greater London excluding the City of London) has not raised an issue with protesters using the word “cult”, according to Londonist.

… if we receive a file we will review it in the normal way according to the code for crown prosecutors.

A spokesman for the CPS told The Guardian that they did not give City of London Police specific instruction about the boy’s protest sign. The spokesman said that the CPS gave the City of London Police “general advice” about the laws governing protests and “religiously aggravated crime”, but did not give advice about this specific case. “… if we receive a file we will review it in the normal way according to the code for crown prosecutors,” said the CPS spokesman.

The City of London Police has faced controversy in the past for its close association with the Church of Scientology. When the City of London Scientology building opened in 2006, City of London Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley praised Scientology in an appearance as guest speaker at the building’s opening ceremony. Ken Stewart, another of the City of London’s chief superintendents, has also appeared in a video praising Scientology. According to The Guardian over 20 officers for the City of London Police have accepted gifts from the Church of Scientology including tickets to film premieres, lunches and concerts at police premises. Janet Kenyon-Laveau, spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology in the UK, told The Guardian that the relationship between the City of London Police and Scientology was mutually beneficial, and said that Scientologists conducted clean-up campaigns in urban areas affected by drug use problems. A City of London Police spokesman released a statement in November 2006 saying: “We are conducting a review to ensure that all members of staff are aware of the force policy on accepting hospitality and to assess whether clarification or amendment of this policy is necessary.”

Each of the Project Chanology international protests against Scientology has had a theme: the February protest called attention to the birthday of Lisa McPherson, who died under controversial circumstances while under the care of Scientology, the March protest was arranged to take place two days after Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard‘s birthday, the April protest highlighted the Church of Scientology’s disconnection policy, and the May protest highlighted the Scientology practice of “Fair Game” and took place one day after the anniversary of the publication of Hubbard’s book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Another international protest is planned for June 14, and will highlight the Church of Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” or “Sea Org”.

 This story has updates See No prosecution for UK minor who called Scientology a ‘cult’ 

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May
23

Tom Cruise orders €14,500 takeaway meal">
Tom Cruise orders €14,500 takeaway meal

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Tom Cruise this week took the delivery service to a whole new level. Celebrating his 43rd birthday with numerous guests at a party in the USA, Cruise decided to call up his three favorite chefs, all living in Italy, to prepare a meal.

Cruise decided to fly all three chefs out to the United States at a cost of €14,500. According to the Daily Mail the chefs cooked the celebrity tagliatelle ragu, veal, and chocolate tiramisu.

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May
23

U.S. House rejects Senate version of payroll tax cut">
U.S. House rejects Senate version of payroll tax cut

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yesterday, the United States House of Representatives voted to effectively reject the Senate version of a bill, passed with bipartisan support, to extend a payroll tax cut two months past its year-end expiration date. The House voted instead to create a conference committee to settle differences between members of both bodies.

Although the tax cut extension itself has support among Republicans and Democrats, lawmakers disagree on how Congress should go about compensating for the cost of extending the cut and the policy changes it would entail.

During an appearance yesterday, President Obama condemned opposition to the Senate-passed version of the bill, accusing Republicans in the House of trying to negotiate on matters unrelated to the bill. Republicans, in response, say there is still time to negotiate the bill, insisting that lawmakers ought to concentrate on a year-long plan rather than a two-month extension. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, however, says he will not agree to negotiate the tax cut extension until the Senate-approved bill is passed by the House.

If the tax cut is not extended and instead expires on December 31, approximately 160 million Americans will be affected by the tax increase; President Obama insists the only way to prevent the tax hike beginning January 1 is for the House to pass the Senate bill. In response, House Speaker and Republican John Boehner wants Obama to “call on the Senate to return” to negotiate. The Senate, shortly after passing the bill, adjourned for the Holiday break.

Also included in the bill is a provision that would require President Obama to make a decision regarding the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a pipeline that would transport oil from Canada to Texas.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi blamed the congressional year-end impasse on “Tea Party Republicans.” In a letter to President Obama, Speaker Boehner requested he galvanize the Senate to negotiate on the bill’s provisions, writing “The differences between the two different bills can be quickly reconciled to provide the American people the certainty of a full-year bill. There are still 11 days before the end of the year, and with so many Americans struggling, there is no reason they should be wasted. You have said many times that Congress must do its work before taking vacation”.

 This story has updates See U.S. Congress reaches deal on payroll tax cut extension, December 23, 2011 

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May
23

Former Trump advisor, Paul Manafort, receives second sentence in U.S. Federal Court">
Former Trump advisor, Paul Manafort, receives second sentence in U.S. Federal Court

Friday, March 15, 2019

A former advisor for U.S. President Donald Trump was sentenced in U.S. Federal Court on Wednesday. Paul Manafort was sentenced by Judge Amy Berman Jackson to 73 months in federal prison and to also pay financial restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of US$6.16 million.

Manafort’s charges involved unregistered foreign lobbying and witness tampering. Judge Jackson clarified in the proceedings that her sentencing decisions were not connected to or impacted by the sentence Manafort received in a separate case for which Manafort was sentenced last week. However, as part of her admonition, Judge Jackson stated, “Saying I’m sorry I got caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency.”

In last week’s action, another federal judge sentenced Manafort to a 47 month prison term. After his conviction in that case last summer, Manafort agreed to help with Robert Mueller’s investigation. However, some months later, the judge in that case determined Manafort had lied and violated that deal. That conviction was related to Manafort’s lobbying business.

In 2018, while preparing for his first trial, Manafort was kept in solitary confinement at least 23 hours per day. In that trial, he faced 18 counts of fraud pertaining to his financial reporting for his pay while working on a foreign campaign in Ukraine.

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May
22

Fire breaks out at Chester Zoo, England">
Fire breaks out at Chester Zoo, England

Monday, December 17, 2018

A fire occurred on Saturday at Chester Zoo in Cheshire, UK, in a building the zoo says is the largest indoor zoological exhibit in the UK, at 11:30 a.m. local time (UTC). The only injury reported was a case of smoke inhalation. Some of the animals living there died.

Chester Zoo opened in the early 1930s. It is now home to around 21 thousand animals from 500 species. Nearly two million people annually visit Chester Zoo, reportedly the largest annual draw of any zoo in the UK not in London. However, the fire caused it to shut down on Saturday.

The monsoon forest habitat, where the fire occurred, housed, amongst other creatures, crocodiles, orangutans, macaques, and birds. In an attempt to replicate the conditions of South East Asia, it was kept at a temperature of 26.6°C (about 80°F). Reports passed on by witnesses indicated zoo personnel evaluated at least 40 animals from the area. The zoo reopened on Sunday.

Although all the mammals reportedly survived, some of the frogs, insects, and small birds housed there died. The fire spread very quickly and strong winds helped the fire spread so fast. Reports suggested the fire was caused by an electrical fault.

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May
21

Transport for London wins first Anti-Social Behaviour Order against graffiti vandal">
Transport for London wins first Anti-Social Behaviour Order against graffiti vandal

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Billy Murrell, a persistent graffiti vandal from South East London, has become the first recipient of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) granted to Transport for London (TfL) by Greenwich Magistrates. The civil order also bans him from the top deck of buses throughout England and Wales for three years.

Murrell, a 17-year-old from Plumstead, has a history of convictions for criminal damage on public transport, including vandalising a Tube carriage in Brixton station and for damaging buses and other public property using marker pens.

This is Transport for London’s first Anti-Social Behaviour Order against a graffiti vandal — TfL was granted the power to apply for Asbos by the Home Secretary in September 2006.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Order was issued at Greenwich Magistrates Court on 12 September and also bans him from carrying any permanent marker pens or any glass cutting equipment on London Underground, railway property or any other transport provider’s property.

Metropolitan and Transport police have been made aware of Murrell’s Asbo, and have distributed his photo.

In detail, Murrell is prohibited from:

If without reasonable excuse the defendant does anything which he is prohibited from doing by this order, he shall be liable to a detention and training order, which has a maximum term of 24 months – 12 months of which is custodial and 12 months in the community

Upon turning 18 he will be liable to imprisonment up to five years.

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