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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds
April 25, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Controversy has arisen over the reported presence of blue asbestos on the MV Freewinds, a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. According to the Saint Martin newspaper The Daily Herald and the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed in April and local public health officials on the Caribbean island of Curaçao where the ship is docked began an investigation into the presence of asbestos dust on the ship. Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft supervised work on the ship in 1987, and attested to the presence of blue asbestos on the Freewinds in an affidavit posted to the Internet in 2001. Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, gave a statement to Wikinews and commented on the recent events.

According to The Daily Herald, the Freewinds was in the process of being renovated by the Curaçao Drydock Company. The article states that samples taken from paneling in the ship were sent to the Netherlands, where an analysis revealed that they “contained significant levels of blue asbestos”. An employee of the Curaçao Drydock Company told Radar Online in an April 30 article that the Freewinds has been docked and sealed, and confirmed that an article about asbestos ran in the local paper.

Lloyd’s List reported that work on the interior of the Freewinds was suspended on April 27 after health inspectors found traces of blue asbestos on the ship. According to Lloyd’s List, Frank Esser, Curaçao Drydock Company’s interim director, joined Curaçao’s head of the department of labor affairs Christiene van der Biezen along with the head of the local health department Tico Ras and two inspectors in an April 25 inspection of the ship. “We are sending someone so that they can tell us what happened, where it came from, since when it has been there,” said Panama Maritime Authority’s director of merchant marine Alfonso Castillero in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

The Church of Scientology purchased the ship, then known as the Bohème, in 1987, through an organization called Flag Ship Trust. After being renovated and refitted, it was put into service in June 1988. The ship is used by the Church of Scientology for advanced Scientology training in “Operating Thetan” levels, as well as for spiritual retreats for its members. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by the Church of Scientology.

According to his 2001 statement, Lawrence Woodcraft had been an architect in London, England since 1975, and joined Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) in 1986. He wrote that he was asked by the Sea Org to work on the Freewinds in 1987, and during his work on the ship “noticed a powdery blue fibrous substance approximately 1 ½” thick between the paint and the steel wall,” which he believed to be asbestos. He also discovered what he thought was blue asbestos in other parts of the ship, and reported his findings to Church of Scientology executives. Woodcraft discussed his experiences in a 2001 interview published online by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a now-defunct organization which was critical of the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw responded to Radar Online about the asbestos reports, in an email published in an article in Radar on May 1. “The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards,” said Pouw. She stated that two inspections performed in April “confirmed that the air quality is safe,” and asserted that the inspections revealed the Freewinds satisfies standards set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Pouw told Radar that “The Freewinds will be completing its refit on schedule.” The Church of Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) had been planning a cruise aboard the Freewinds scheduled for May 8, but according to Radar an individual who called the booking number for the cruise received a message that the cruise had been delayed due to ongoing work on the ship. Citing an article in the Netherlands Antilles newspaper Amigoe, Radar reported on May 6 that a team from the United States and supervised by an independent bureau from the Netherlands traveled to Curaçao in order to remove asbestos from the Freewinds.

…if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff.

“I stand by everything I wrote in my 2001 affidavit,” said Lawrence Woodcraft in an exclusive statement given to Wikinews. Woodcraft went on to state: “I would also comment that if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff. Also panelling as well, basically strip the ship back to a steel hull. Also blue asbestos is sprayed onto the outer walls and then covered in paint. It’s in every nook and cranny.”

Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. Now magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds.

There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.

In a May 15 statement to the United Kingdom daily newspaper Metro, a representative for the Church of Scientology said that “There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.” The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Center notes that agencies have recommended anyone who has spent time on the Freewinds consult with their physician to determine if possible asbestos exposure may have affected their health.

Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in OK! Magazine. Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”

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Francis D’Souza, former Deputy Chief Minister of Goa, dies aged 64
April 22, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

On Thursday, Francis D’Souza, previously the Deputy Chief Minister of the state of Goa, India, died. He had been suffering from cancer. He was 64 years old.

D’Souza had relatively recently been dismissed from being a minister because of his health. He had advanced pancreatic cancer.

Goa’s government announced three days of mourning for D’Souza. Damodar Naik, spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party, said D’Souza had been an “iconic” leader of the party.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar tweeted he was “[e]xtremely pained to hear about the demise of my dear childhood friend, colleague and former Deputy Chief Minister (Dy CM) of Goa advocate Francis D’Souza. A wonderful human being and a leader loved by all. He devoted himself to public service. His demise is a great personal loss”. D’Souza worked with Manohar’s government, being the Deputy Chief Minister.

State Congress President Girish Chodankar called D’Souza “humble and soft-spoken”. The Aam Aadmi Party in Goa, in its statement, said he was a “gentleman politician”.

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New fossils from 10 million year old ape found in Ethiopia
April 21, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Researchers say that new, ten million-year-old fossils found in Ethiopia, prove that the theory that humans may have evolved from a species of great apes eight million years ago, may not be true, but that humans may have split from apes as long as 10.5 million years ago.

At least nine fossilized teeth, one canine tooth and eight molars, of a previously unknown species of apes found in Africa were discovered by a team of researchers from Ethiopia and Japan who then compared the 3-D make up of the teeth to other fossils that date back as far as 8 million years and found that the fossils are likely a “direct ancestor” of apes currently living in Africa and that the new ape fossils were that of a species of gorilla who ate mostly plants high in fiber.

Current fossils and research say that the evolutionary split from apes to humans occurred at least eight million years ago. The new fossils say that the split may have happened as long as 10.5 million years ago.

“Based on this fossil, that means the split is much earlier than has been anticipated by the molecular evidence. That means everything has to be put back,” said researcher at the Rift Valley Research Service in Ethiopia and a co-author of the study, Berhane Asfaw.

Despite the finds, other researchers are not convinced that the findings are correct.

“It is stretching the evidence to base a time scale for the evolution of the great apes on this new fossil. These structures appear on at least three independent lineages of apes, including gorillas, and they could relate to a dietary shift rather than indicating a new genetic trait,” said a Professor at the London Natural History Museum in the United Kingdom, Peter Andrews who also added, “but the fossil evidence for the evolution of our closest living relatives, the great apes, is almost non-existent.

Researchers have named the newly discovered species Cororapithecus abyssinicus whose remains were found in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, the same place where the remains of Lucy were discovered in 1974.

Zimbabwe prepares for election

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Zimbabwe prepares for election
April 20, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, March 28, 2008

A parliamentary election and a presidential election will be held in Zimbabwe on Saturday, March 29, 2008. The parliamentary election is for both the House of Assembly and the Senate. In the presidential election, Voice of America has reported that analysts in Zimbabwe have predicted a victory for incumbent Robert Mugabe.

With the last parliamentary election having been held in 2005, the subsequent election was initially planned to be held in 2010, but after an abortive plan to delay the 2008 presidential election to 2010, it was decided to instead bring the parliamentary election forward by two years so that it could be held concurrently with the 2008 presidential election.

The House of Assembly is being expanded from 150 to 210 members, all elected, in the 2008 election, while the Senate is being expanded to 93 seats, 60 of which will be directly elected (six from each province). There are 29 constituencies in Harare, 28 in Midlands, 26 in Manicaland, 18 in Mashonaland Central, 23 in Mashonaland East, 22 in Mashonaland West, 26 in Masvingo, 13 in Matabeleland North, and 13 in Matabeleland South, and 12 in Bulawayo. Unlike in past elections, when constituency voter rolls were used, ward voter rolls will be used in the 2008 election. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission delimited 1,958 wards.

On January 25, 2008, the specific date of the election was announced as March 29. A spokesperson for the faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai denounced this as “an act of madness and arrogance”, while the leader of the other MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, said that a free and fair election could not be held under the existing conditions, calling for a new constitution to be adopted prior to the election.

Prior to the election being held, ZANU-PF has already won two seats where it was unopposed: the House of Assembly seat from Muzarabani South, won by Edward Raradza, and the Senate seat from Rushinga, won by Damien Mumvuri.

While not inviting any observers from the European Union or the United States, Zimbabwe has invited 47 observer teams, including observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union, China, Russia, and Iran. On March 11, the arrival of the first 50 observers from SADC was reported, with more expected. SADC had already conducted a preliminary mission in February, in which its team looked at constituencies, their boundaries, and the number of candidates, and used that information to determine the number of observers that would be necessary.

There are about 5.6 million registered voters and there will be about 11,000 polling stations, compared to about 4,000 polling stations in the 2005 parliamentary election.

London Planetarium closes to make way for celebrity-themed show

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London Planetarium closes to make way for celebrity-themed show
April 18, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The London Planetarium, famous for its distinctive green dome and for being next to Madame Tussauds, will close this week to make way for a new celebrity-themed show opening in July. The Planetarium used to be an attraction in its own right, but in recent years has become simply a feature tacked onto the end of the waxworks tour, the original 45 minute show cut down to just over 10 minutes. The planetarium will be renamed ‘The Auditorium’ and will feature a show that “gets to the heart of celebrity”, being produced in collaboration with animation house Aardman Productions.

Famous astronomer Sir Patrick Moore has called the decision “most regrettable”, and many have commented that the change from space to celebrity is an unfortunate sign of our times.

To say ‘farewell’ to the planetarium, Tussauds have allowed free entry in its penultimate week, from 24th – 30th April. Visitors could enter through the group admissions entrance to see the show, running every twenty minutes. Unlike the queues for Madame Tussauds, which typically run right up the street, few people waited to see the planetarium show, even on the Saturday. The show, titled Journey to Infinity, was projected onto the inside of the dome using Digistar 3 digital projectors. It told the story of space, starting from Earth and zooming out to reveal the other planets in the Solar System, the Milky Way, the other galaxies and the rest of the universe. It ended with an optimistic message suggesting that humans would continue to explore space, going further than ever before.

The London Planetarium opened in 1958 on the site of an old cinema that was destroyed in the second world war. Evening laser performances called ‘Laserium’ were held between 1977 and 1990. A £4.5 million redevelopment saw it relaunch in 1995 with a new ‘Digistar II‘ monochromatic 3D projection system. This was upgraded to the full-colour ‘Digistar 3‘ system in 2004 which is currently in use.

The planetarium at the also famous Royal Observatory in Greenwich has also been closed since September 2004, however this is due to re-open in 2007 having received a £15 million redevelopment programme. It will be three times the size of the old planetarium, and has received backing from Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees, and the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor John Brown.

Starting A Bounce House Rental Business}

April 18, 2019 · Earthmoving Equipment · (No comments)

Starting a Bounce House Rental Business

by

Anne Ming

Aspiring Entrepreneurs are constantly looking for ways to expand their efforts. However, many of them try to break into markets where there is way too much competition. Out-of-the-box thinking is what has made many entrepreneurs who they are today, and what’s more innovative than renting out bounce houses?

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As with any new business, the first step is market research. This will obviously be a local market, so look around the paper and phone book to research competition. Check their prices, what they offer, their location, etc. Remember you are competing against established businesses, so it may be a bit hard to break in. See what you can do better, while still maintaining realistic profit margins. Get a business model started on paper, you will find that having a clear goal will go a long way towards building a successful business.When building your business model, consider equipment. At a minimum, you are going to need at least one bounce house, a trailer to haul it, and a vehicle to tow with. Since you are just starting out, used equipment is fine, as long as it is presentable. Remember in the business world your image is all you have to potential clients. If you purchase a bounce house used, make sure you clean it very well, and look over it for any potential damage. Preventative maintenance goes a long way in this business. After all, you wouldn’t want your bounce house breaking down while someone is paying to rent it.Next, figure out your cost of operation. If you were going to be doing all the work yourself, after the initial investment in equipment, your cost of operations should be fairly small. Things to include would be fuel, vehicle maintenance, bounce house maintenance, advertising, a dedicated phone line, insurance, and perhaps a website. Pay special attention to your advertising budget, as this is where you should invest the most. People need to know you exist in order to be able to buy from you. Now that you have everything on paper, organize it so you have a clear idea of what everything costs. You need to decide if you are going to pay everything out of pocket, or take out a loan. If you decide to take out a loan, make sure you re-factor the payments into your cost of operation. The bank you loan from is going to want to see this business model, so be sure to make it presentable. Show them exactly how long you plan to take to pay off the loan they give you, and how.If you decide to start a bounce house rental business, make sure to protect yourself from legal trouble. Take out insurance, and at a minimum make sure your company is a LLC to protect your own assets. If a child gets hurt on one of your bounce houses, the chances of a lawsuit are fairly high. Make sure you are protected!

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Fifteen people killed in attack on Nigerian college

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Fifteen people killed in attack on Nigerian college
April 18, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Officials said at least fifteen people were killed in an attack on a teachers training college in the Northern Nigerian city of Kano by a group of armed gunmen on Wednesday. Over 30 others were wounded.

News agencies have reported while there has been no claim of responsibility, suspicion will likely fall on the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. The group has previously targeted Western-style schools within the country, including past attacks on secondary schools.

According to official reports, police first approached the group in the area of the school, concerned about their unusual activity, and the attackers engaged police in a firefight. The attackers gained entry to the school and started throwing bombs.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan described the incident as a “dastardly attack”. He has already declared a state of emergency in three northern states, and is being criticized along with the country’s armed forces for failure to prevent extremist attacks.

A police spokesman said police killed two attackers at the scene.

China’s winter weather threatens food supplies

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China’s winter weather threatens food supplies
April 18, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Chinese official says harsh winter weather is threatening food production and adding to inflationary pressures. Political pressure is also building on the government for its failure to anticipate and solve the problems.

A top Chinese disaster relief official was quoted by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper Thursday as calling it the worst natural disaster since the People’s Republic was founded in 1949.

Tens of millions of Chinese have been affected by the snowstorms across the central and southern parts of the country. Hundreds of thousands are camping out in train stations, hoping the snowed-in trains will start running again to take them home for the lunar new year holiday. An unknown number of people are stranded on icy highways, cut off from adequate heat and food.

The situation is so serious that Premier Wen Jiabao has personally visited train stations in Hunan and Guangdong provinces in the past couple of days. He is telling stranded workers the government is trying to get transportation moving so they can get home for the holiday. But other officials have advised migrant workers to forget about going home, and stay in their places of work.

Officials say unusually low temperatures and heavy snowfalls have destroyed crops and greenhouses, and are severely affecting winter food production. Chen Xiwen is the deputy director of the Communist Party‘s leading financial team.

Chen says the impact of the disaster in southern China on winter crop production is extremely serious. He says the impact on fresh vegetables and fruit has been catastrophic in some places.

Prices for fresh fruit and vegetables have doubled in some of the worst-hit areas. The situation is exacerbating the rise in food prices that began last year.

China’s consumer price index rose nearly 5 percent for all of 2007, and was up 6.5 percent in December alone. A major part of the increase was in food prices.

Chen, however, says he does not expect inflation this month to get worse, despite the crop damage being caused by the snow.

Chen says winter grain and edible oils are grown mainly in the north, which is outside the storms’ reach, and winter wheat production will not be seriously affected.

Two weeks of ice and snowstorms have killed more than 60 people and caused more than three billion dollars in direct damage.

China’s top weather expert told state media Thursday the storms will last well into the new year holiday, which begins February 6.

The lunar new year is China’s most important holiday. Normally, tens of millions of people would be heading home at this time.

UN Secretary-General expresses concern about crises in Chad, Kenya, Sudan

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UN Secretary-General expresses concern about crises in Chad, Kenya, Sudan
April 18, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern about crises in Chad, Kenya, and the Sudan. The U.N. chief is recently back from Africa where he attended the African Union summit in Ethiopia and met with leaders in Kenya.

On rebel efforts to overthrow the government in Chad in recent days, the secretary-general welcomed an African Union initiative to have the leaders of Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo mediate the crisis. He says the United Nations will do its utmost to help resolve the crisis, urging the Security Council to act swiftly to help bring an end to the violence.

“It has devastating consequences not only for the people of Chad and Darfurian refugees seeking shelter there, but also for Darfur itself,” said Ban.

Mr. Ban told reporters the situation in the neighboring Darfur region of Sudan is no less troubling. He says the deployment of the AU-U.N. peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID, must be sped up and urged member states to properly equip the troops.

“UNAMID still lacks required aviation and ground transportation – chiefly helicopters. Additional troops will not make up for this shortfall,” said Ban. “Those countries that called for intervention in Darfur are under special obligation to deliver on their promises.”

While at the AU summit, Mr. Ban says he discussed some of the outstanding issues affecting the deployment with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and he expects the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to be signed this week. But Mr. Ban remained vague on whether some of the agreement’s sticking points – such as night flights, land agreements, and advance notice of U.N. movements – had been settled.

On Kenya, Mr. Ban says he has been deeply engaged in the post-election crisis and told political leaders during his visit there that they bear particular responsibility for the future of Kenya.

“I stressed to all the Kenyan leaders the need to stop the unacceptable violence and killings, and to resolve their differences through dialogue and democratic process. I also appealed to all the political leaders to think beyond their individual interests or party lines and to look to the future of Kenya as one country,” he said.

Mr. Ban also met in Nairobi with his U.N. predecessor, Kofi Annan, who is leading the panel of eminent Africans trying to mediate the crisis, and said they discussed his roadmap for the talks.

Security of U.N. personnel in Africa and elsewhere has been high on the secretary-general’s agenda, especially in the wake of the December bombing in Algeria that killed 17 staff members. Mr. Ban announced that he is naming diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi to chair an independent panel on safety and security of U.N. personnel and premises. Brahimi is an Algerian, but Mr. Ban says he has no concerns about his fairness or objectivity in heading up the panel.

Surgeons reattach boy’s three severed limbs

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Surgeons reattach boy’s three severed limbs
April 17, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005A team of Australian surgeons yesterday reattached both hands and one foot to 10-year-old Perth boy, Terry Vo, after a brick wall which collapsed during a game of basketball fell on him, severing the limbs. The wall gave way while Terry performed a slam-dunk, during a game at a friend’s birthday party.

The boy was today awake and smiling, still in some pain but in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery, according to plastic surgeon, Mr Robert Love.

“What we have is parts that are very much alive so the reattached limbs are certainly pink, well perfused and are indeed moving,” Mr Love told reporters today.

“The fact that he is moving his fingers, and of course when he wakes up he will move both fingers and toes, is not a surprise,” Mr Love had said yesterday.

“The question is more the sensory return that he will get in the hand itself and the fine movements he will have in the fingers and the toes, and that will come with time, hopefully. We will assess that over the next 18 months to two years.

“I’m sure that he’ll enjoy a game of basketball in the future.”

The weight and force of the collapse, and the sharp brick edges, resulted in the three limbs being cut through about 7cm above the wrists and ankle.

Terry’s father Tan said of his only child, the injuries were terrible, “I was scared to look at him, a horrible thing.”

The hands and foot were placed in an ice-filled Esky and rushed to hospital with the boy, where three teams of medical experts were assembled, and he was given a blood transfusion after experiencing massive blood loss. Eight hours of complex micro-surgery on Saturday night were followed by a further two hours of skin grafts yesterday.

“What he will lose because it was such a large zone of traumatised skin and muscle and so on, he will lose some of the skin so he’ll certainly require lots of further surgery regardless of whether the skin survives,” said Mr Love said today.

The boy was kept unconscious under anaesthetic between the two procedures. In an interview yesterday, Mr Love explained why:

“He could have actually been woken up the next day. Because we were intending to take him back to theatre for a second look, to look at the traumatised skin flaps, to close more of his wounds and to do split skin grafting, it was felt the best thing to do would be to keep him stable and to keep him anaesthetised.”

Professor Wayne Morrison, director of the respected Bernard O’Brien Institute of Microsurgery and head of plastic and hand surgery at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital, said he believed the operation to be a world first.