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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.

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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.

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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.

Kimi Räikkönen will start first for 2007 European Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton suffers a crash

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Kimi Räikkönen will start first for 2007 European Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton suffers a crash
April 16, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen won the pole on the FIA Formula-1 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, Nürburg, Germany.

Kimi’s rival Fernando Alonso split the two Ferraris and will start between Kimi and Felipe Massa.

Lewis Hamilton suffered a serious crash in the third qualifying session after his tire broke in Schumacher‘s S-curve and he found himself out of the track running at a tangent to the safety wall. Race officials confirmed that Lewis had been “conscious and speaking”. Still, there are reasonable doubts about his fitness for the race Sunday.

BMW Sauber team drivers 4th and 5th, Mark Webber from Red Bull-Renault 6th, Heikki Kovalainen from Renault 7th and Toyota‘s 8th and 9th.

Before this incident Lewis was fifth, but dropped two the tenth place and will probably lose more with the car change if he’ll participate in the race. It seemes that his incretible series of 9 consecutive pole finishes have come to an end.

The race will feature Marcus Winkelhock, the German driver replacing Christijan Albers in Spyker.

Iraqi suicide bomber kills 121, injures over 200 others

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Iraqi suicide bomber kills 121, injures over 200 others
April 16, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Conflicting media reports say that at least 128 people have been killed and over 220, possibly over 350, were injured in Baghdad, Iraq after a truck packed with at least a ton of explosives blew up inside the Sadriyah market.

Officials say that the death toll will likely climb, and officials for the Iraqi Health Ministry say that 105 have been killed and over 330 injured.

The truck was supposed to be delivering food, oil and flour to the market when the driver detonated the explosives.

“It was a suicide attacker who entered the market at a time when it was packed with people. There are still bodies under the rubble,” said head of the Interior Ministry explosives department, Major General Jihad al-Jabiri.

“It was a strong blow. A car exploded. I fell on the ground,” said a young man with a bandaged head who was in the explosion.

Victims were trapped under piles of rubble, and the surrounding area was completely destroyed. At least 10 buildings have been leveled as a result of the blast.

No claim of responsibility for the blast has been made.

A curfew has been issued for the surrounding area which is set to expire at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday. All roads leading into and out of the area have been shut down.

This is the biggest attack to take place since November 23, 2006 when at least 215 people were killed when insurgents attacked a Sadr City Shiite slum.

CNN had recently confirmed that 373 people were injured, along with 128 (currently) killed.

News briefs:July 15, 2010

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News briefs:July 15, 2010
April 15, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)
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Eight men and several Spinka charities charged with tax fraud in Los Angeles

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Eight men and several Spinka charities charged with tax fraud in Los Angeles
April 14, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Eight men and five Brookyln-based Spinka charitable organizations have been charged with tax fraud and money laundering. Six have been arrested, and two are still at large.

The men charged are Naftali Tzi Weisz, 59, a Grand Rabbi from Brooklyn; Gabbai Moseh E. Zigelman, 60, also from Brooklyn and Weisz’ assistant; Yaacov Zeivald, 43, of Valley Village; Yosef Nachum Naiman, 55, of Los Angeles; Alan Jay Friedman, 43, of Los Angeles; Joseph Roth, 66, an international accounts manager at a bank in Israel from Tel Aviv; diamond merchant Moshe Arie Lazar, 60; and Jacob Ivan Kantor, 71, an attorney from Tel Aviv. The first six were arrested last Wednesday, and four of them have been released on bail. The FBI believes Lazar to be in Israel. Kantor is also believed to be in Israel according to other reports.

The charitiable organizations named as defendants in the charges are Yeshiva Imrei Yosef, Yeshivath Spinka, Central Rabbinical Seminary, Machne Sva Rotzohn, and Mesivta Imrei Yosef Spinka. The FBI alleges that these charities issued fraudulent receipts for bogus charitable contributions and were the beneficiaries of fees charged for transfers of funds as part of a money laundering conspiracy.

By a 37-count grand jury indictment that was unsealed on Wednesday morning, Weisz and Zigelman are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and other crimes, 19 counts of mail fraud, one money laundering conspiracy count, 11 counts of international money laundering, and one count of operating an illegal money remitting business. Zigelman is in addition charged with two counts of aiding in the preparation of fraudulent income tax returns. Zeivald, Lazar, Naiman, and Friedman are charged in the main conspiracy count and with operating an illegal money remitting business. Zeivald is in addition charged with one count of mail fraud. Roth is charged in both conspiracy counts; several mail fraud counts; and several international money laundering counts. Kantor is charged in both of the conspiracy counts and several international money laundering counts.

The charges laid are that over a period of 10 years the conspirators solicited USD8.7 million in contributions to these charitable organizations, promising to secretly refund to the donors up to 95%, allowing the donors to claim the full amounts of the donations as tax deductions on their federal income tax returns. According to the FBI, this was done in two ways: Some donors received cash payments through an underground money transfer network involving Zeivald, Naiman, Friedman, and Lazar, some of whom operated businesses in and around the Los Angeles jewelry district. Other donors were reimbursed via loans made from the United States branch of an Israeli bank, organized by Roth and Kantor and secured on funds secretly held in that bank in Israel, to which the donations had been sent via wire transfer.

Several of the Brooklyn charitable organizations are schools. One such is Yeshiva Imrei Yosef, a private Orthodox Jewish school for boys in grades PK–12 with 312 students, which is one of 5000 such organizations approved for charitable donations by the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles draws a parallel between these charges and the creation of bogus schools in the case of New Square, quoting Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, as saying “I think that in Eastern Europe, especially where corruption was rampant, it was very common for Jews to engage in, shall we say, ‘extra-legal activities’ when they believed they were doing so not for their personal gain but for the good of the community or for some higher purpose.”

His observation is that defrauding a corrupt government is part of the culture that has sometimes been carried in to the United States, and that people justify it when they believe that the money is going towards Jewish education. “I think the idea is that Jewish education is so important and so expensive and the folks say to themselves, ‘we’re forced to pay for public education which we don’t use’, and they manage to sometimes justify in their own minds these kinds of activities that are for the sake of a holy end.”

Sarna states that violating the law is not condoned by Jewish communities in the U.S., a sentiment that has been echoed in reactions from the Los Angeles Jewish community, such as that by Rabbi Meyer H. May, president of the Rabbinical Council of California: “One thing is clear: The Orthodox community deplores any attempt to defraud the government of the United States, and there is no excuse for it, and there’s no rationalizations that are acceptable. […] It’s against the Torah and it’s against our moral foundation. At the same time, regarding these specific individuals, they should be allowed to have a fair trial, as everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”

The FBI’s press release contains a similar reminder of the presumption of innocence.

Calls by the New York Times were unable to obtain any comments on the case from the defendants.

Wikinews interviews Kristian Hanson, producer-director of indie horror film ‘Sledge’

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Wikinews interviews Kristian Hanson, producer-director of indie horror film ‘Sledge’
April 13, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Just days away from Halloween, Wikinews interviewed Kristian Hanson, producer-director of independent slasher film Sledge. The film has been a recent source of discussion in horror fan circles, primarily due to its production budget of only US$800. Sledge is Hanson’s fourth film to direct, according to Internet Movie Database.

NRMA stands by “unsafe” smash repair system

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NRMA stands by “unsafe” smash repair system
April 9, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005NRMA, one of Australia’s largest insurers, has come under scrutiny following the release of a scathing report into its online smash repairs system.

The report by the New South Wales Government’s Staysafe committee found that NRMA’s online repair tendering system was “unsafe”. NRMA has said it has no intention of suspending the system despite the findings.

The report, which was released yesterday found that “[The] system of allocating damaged motor vehicles to smash repairers without the repairers physically inspecting the damaged vehicle before quoting for work … is an unsafe system in its current form”. According to committee member and Port Stephens MP John Bartlett the vehicles were “being repaired to the standard of a brick and the crumple zones at the front and rear no longer worked and all the impact was being felt in the cabin”.

According to the report “the system would lead to cost cutting and unsafe repair practices, with the quality of repairs lowered by encouraging smash repairers to take short cuts”.

According to NRMA, only minor “cosmetic” repairs are put through the system – however often there can be further damage which is only evident after a complete inspection. The NRMA system simply places photographs of the vehicles on its website where approved smash repairers bid to carry out repairs.

David Brown, head of claims and assessments at NRMA, said this of the report: “[W]e totally reject the findings of the report, in fact we find the report’s fundamentally flawed with no evidence of safety issues, and [it] has been prepared without seeing the system first-hand”. He further added that the system would not be scrapped.

Two-and-a-half tonnes of marijuana destroyed in Afghan school

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Two-and-a-half tonnes of marijuana destroyed in Afghan school
April 3, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The combined efforts of agents from the Afghan Commandos and Coalition forces have led to the discovery and destruction of two-and-a-half tonnes of marijuana in an abandoned school in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar on Friday.

Kandah?r province or Qandahar (??????,{??????) is one of the largest of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in southern Afghanistan, between Helamand, Oruzgan and Zabul provinces. Its capital is the city of Kandah?r, also spelled Qandah?r, (?????? or ??????), the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of 450,300 (2006 estimate). Kandahar City is located on the Arghandab River. The province has a population of nearly 890,000, with more than 300,000 living in its capital city. The main inhabitants of Kandahar province are the Pashtun people.

An improvised explosive device and an unexploded mortar round, both 100-meters away from the school, also were destroyed.Foot patrol by the combined forces yielded tips which led to the drug discovery. A Commando also discovered a large room filled with marijuana seeds. The marijuana was placed in two-foot-tall (0.6-meter) stacks that filled multiple 12ft-by-12ft rooms. Rust on the furniture suggests the Afghan schoolhouse may not have been used as such for a long period of time. No students or faculty were around at the time of the drug bust.

U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesperson, Col. Jerry O’Hara said that “using drugs to fund insurgent activity is bad enough; using a school as a drug warehouse is an attack on the future of all Afghanistan.”

Xinhua has reported that “according to a recent U.N. report, Afghanistan produces over 90 percent of the world’s opium as Taliban militants will benefit nearly 500 million U.S. dollars from opium trade in 2008.”

Meanwhile, coalition troops have killed four militants in Zabul Province. They also detained five suspects on Saturday. Adm. Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that “the United States would send between 20,000 and 30,000 more forces to Afghanistan by summer.” “Those forces will primarily move into the country’s south, where the insurgency is the most entrenched,” he added.