Wikinews 2014: An ‘Original reporting’ year in review

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Wikinews 2014: An ‘Original reporting’ year in review

Wednesday, December 24, 2014With the English-language Wikinews continuing to increase the amount of original content published, we take a look back at some of the eighty-plus original reports from our contributors during 2014.

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United States begins testing equipment for demolition of a major VX nerve gas stockpile

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United States begins testing equipment for demolition of a major VX nerve gas stockpile

October 14, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Testing began on a chemical reactor at the Newport Chemical Depot near Terre Haute, Indiana on Friday morning. If successful, the reactor will be put to use destroying the large VX nerve gas stockpiles stored at the facility over the course of the next two years. After the disposal project experienced several delays, the facility announced it would begin pumping VX into a completed disposal unit for testing. The unit consists of a chemical reactor in which the VX will be mixed with water and sodium hydroxide, heated to 194°F while mixed with paddles. The resulting chemical, called hydrolysate, is chemically similar to commercial drain cleaners and has similar properties. If the test is successfully completed , the unit will continue processing the VX until the entire stockpile has been neutralized, a process projected to take two years. Administrators expect to complete testing on May 10, 2005.

According to the controversial plan, the finished waste product would be shipped to New Jersey for final reprocessing. The inert chemical would then be emptied into the Delaware River where natural attenuation would occur.

Residents near the proposed river disposal site in New Jersey oppose this idea. The contractor for the final component of this disposal would be the DuPont Corporation.

NCD is a bulk chemical storage and destruction facility in west central Indiana, thirty miles north of Terre Haute. Originally founded during World War II to produce RDX, a conventional explosive, it later became a site for chemical weapons manufacturing during the Cold War. It is now used to securely store and gradually neutralize part of the US stockpile of VX.

VX was manufactured by the U.S. in the 1950s and 60’s as a deterrent to possible Soviet Union use. It was never deployed, and the manufacture was halted in 1969 after an order signed by then-president Richard Nixon.

In 1999, the Army announced it awarded a disposal contract to Parsons Infrastructure & Technology, Inc., a business unit of Parsons Corporation. Some 220 civilian Parsons employees work at the facility, which is supervised by an Army officer reporting to the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, and a board of civilian government overseers called the Indiana Citizens’ Advisory Commission, some of whose members are appointed by the state governor.

Security at the facility is controversial. A private security service, supplemented by a complement of Indiana National Guard soldiers, guarded the facility until April 14, 2005, when the soldiers were withdrawn. An Indianapolis television station has questioned security measures in some of its special reports.

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G20 protests: Inside a labour march

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G20 protests: Inside a labour march

October 12, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Wikinews accredited reporter Killing Vector traveled to the G-20 2009 summit protests in London with a group of protesters. This is his personal account.

Friday, April 3, 2009

London – “Protest”, says Ross Saunders, “is basically theatre”.

It’s seven a.m. and I’m on a mini-bus heading east on the M4 motorway from Cardiff toward London. I’m riding with seventeen members of the Cardiff Socialist Party, of which Saunders is branch secretary for the Cardiff West branch; they’re going to participate in a march that’s part of the protests against the G-20 meeting.

Before we boarded the minibus Saunders made a speech outlining the reasons for the march. He said they were “fighting for jobs for young people, fighting for free education, fighting for our share of the wealth, which we create.” His anger is directed at the government’s response to the economic downturn: “Now that the recession is underway, they’ve been trying to shoulder more of the burden onto the people, and onto the young people…they’re expecting us to pay for it.” He compared the protest to the Jarrow March and to the miners’ strikes which were hugely influential in the history of the British labour movement. The people assembled, though, aren’t miners or industrial workers — they’re university students or recent graduates, and the march they’re going to participate in is the Youth Fight For Jobs.

The Socialist Party was formerly part of the Labour Party, which has ruled the United Kingdom since 1997 and remains a member of the Socialist International. On the bus, Saunders and some of his cohorts — they occasionally, especially the older members, address each other as “comrade” — explains their view on how the split with Labour came about. As the Third Way became the dominant voice in the Labour Party, culminating with the replacement of Neil Kinnock with Tony Blair as party leader, the Socialist cadre became increasingly disaffected. “There used to be democratic structures, political meetings” within the party, they say. The branch meetings still exist but “now, they passed a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways, and they [the party leadership] just ignored it.” They claim that the disaffection with New Labour has caused the party to lose “half its membership” and that people are seeking alternatives. Since the economic crisis began, Cardiff West’s membership has doubled, to 25 members, and the RMT has organized itself as a political movement running candidates in the 2009 EU Parliament election. The right-wing British National Party or BNP is making gains as well, though.

Talk on the bus is mostly political and the news of yesterday’s violence at the G-20 demonstrations, where a bank was stormed by protesters and 87 were arrested, is thick in the air. One member comments on the invasion of a RBS building in which phone lines were cut and furniture was destroyed: “It’s not very constructive but it does make you smile.” Another, reading about developments at the conference which have set France and Germany opposing the UK and the United States, says sardonically, “we’re going to stop all the squabbles — they’re going to unite against us. That’s what happens.” She recounts how, in her native Sweden during the Second World War, a national unity government was formed among all major parties, and Swedish communists were interned in camps, while Nazi-leaning parties were left unmolested.

In London around 11am the march assembles on Camberwell Green. About 250 people are here, from many parts of Britain; I meet marchers from Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, and especially organized-labor stronghold Sheffield. The sky is grey but the atmosphere is convivial; five members of London’s Metropolitan Police are present, and they’re all smiling. Most marchers are young, some as young as high school age, but a few are older; some teachers, including members of the Lewisham and Sheffield chapters of the National Union of Teachers, are carrying banners in support of their students.

Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!’

Stewards hand out sheets of paper with the words to call-and-response chants on them. Some are youth-oriented and education-oriented, like the jaunty “Gordon Brown‘s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!'” (sung to the tune of the Lonnie Donegan song “My Old Man’s a Dustman“); but many are standbys of organized labour, including the infamous “workers of the world, unite!“. It also outlines the goals of the protest, as “demands”: “The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 and hour. No to cheap labour apprenticeships! for all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end. No to university fees. support the campaign to defeat fees.” Another steward with a megaphone and a bright red t-shirt talks the assembled protesters through the basics of call-and-response chanting.

Finally the march gets underway, traveling through the London boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. Along the route of the march more police follow along, escorting and guiding the march and watching it carefully, while a police van with flashing lights clears the route in front of it. On the surface the atmosphere is enthusiastic, but everyone freezes for a second as a siren is heard behind them; it turns out to be a passing ambulance.

Crossing Southwark Bridge, the march enters the City of London, the comparably small but dense area containing London’s financial and economic heart. Although one recipient of the protesters’ anger is the Bank of England, the march does not stop in the City, only passing through the streets by the London Exchange. Tourists on buses and businessmen in pinstripe suits record snippets of the march on their mobile phones as it passes them; as it goes past a branch of HSBC the employees gather at the glass store front and watch nervously. The time in the City is brief; rather than continue into the very centre of London the march turns east and, passing the Tower of London, proceeds into the poor, largely immigrant neighbourhoods of the Tower Hamlets.

The sun has come out, and the spirits of the protesters have remained high. But few people, only occasional faces at windows in the blocks of apartments, are here to see the march and it is in Wapping High Street that I hear my first complaint from the marchers. Peter, a steward, complains that the police have taken the march off its original route and onto back streets where “there’s nobody to protest to”. I ask how he feels about the possibility of violence, noting the incidents the day before, and he replies that it was “justified aggression”. “We don’t condone it but people have only got certain limitations.”

There’s nobody to protest to!

A policeman I ask is very polite but noncommittal about the change in route. “The students are getting the message out”, he says, so there’s no problem. “Everyone’s very well behaved” in his assessment and the atmosphere is “very positive”. Another protestor, a sign-carrying university student from Sheffield, half-heartedly returns the compliment: today, she says, “the police have been surprisingly unridiculous.”

The march pauses just before it enters Cable Street. Here, in 1936, was the site of the Battle of Cable Street, and the march leader, addressing the protesters through her megaphone, marks the moment. She draws a parallel between the British Union of Fascists of the 1930s and the much smaller BNP today, and as the protesters follow the East London street their chant becomes “The BNP tell racist lies/We fight back and organise!”

In Victoria Park — “The People’s Park” as it was sometimes known — the march stops for lunch. The trade unions of East London have organized and paid for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and tea, and, picnic-style, the marchers enjoy their meals as organized labor veterans give brief speeches about industrial actions from a small raised platform.

A demonstration is always a means to and end.

During the rally I have the opportunity to speak with Neil Cafferky, a Galway-born Londoner and the London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march. I ask him first about why, despite being surrounded by red banners and quotes from Karl Marx, I haven’t once heard the word “communism” used all day. He explains that, while he considers himself a Marxist and a Trotskyist, the word communism has negative connotations that would “act as a barrier” to getting people involved: the Socialist Party wants to avoid the discussion of its position on the USSR and disassociate itself from Stalinism. What the Socialists favor, he says, is “democratic planned production” with “the working class, the youths brought into the heart of decision making.”

On the subject of the police’s re-routing of the march, he says the new route is actually the synthesis of two proposals. Originally the march was to have gone from Camberwell Green to the Houses of Parliament, then across the sites of the 2012 Olympics and finally to the ExCel Centre. The police, meanwhile, wanted there to be no march at all.

The Metropolitan Police had argued that, with only 650 trained traffic officers on the force and most of those providing security at the ExCel Centre itself, there simply wasn’t the manpower available to close main streets, so a route along back streets was necessary if the march was to go ahead at all. Cafferky is sceptical of the police explanation. “It’s all very well having concern for health and safety,” he responds. “Our concern is using planning to block protest.”

He accuses the police and the government of having used legal, bureaucratic and even violent means to block protests. Talking about marches having to defend themselves, he says “if the police set out with the intention of assaulting marches then violence is unavoidable.” He says the police have been known to insert “provocateurs” into marches, which have to be isolated. He also asserts the right of marches to defend themselves when attacked, although this “must be done in a disciplined manner”.

He says he wasn’t present at yesterday’s demonstrations and so can’t comment on the accusations of violence against police. But, he says, there is often provocative behavior on both sides. Rather than reject violence outright, Cafferky argues that there needs to be “clear political understanding of the role of violence” and calls it “counter-productive”.

Demonstration overall, though, he says, is always a useful tool, although “a demonstration is always a means to an end” rather than an end in itself. He mentions other ongoing industrial actions such as the occupation of the Visteon plant in Enfield; 200 fired workers at the factory have been occupying the plant since April 1, and states the solidarity between the youth marchers and the industrial workers.

I also speak briefly with members of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small group of left-wing activists who have brought some signs to the rally. The Bolsheviks say that, like the Socialists, they’re Trotskyists, but have differences with them on the idea of organization; the International Bolshevik Tendency believes that control of the party representing the working class should be less democratic and instead be in the hands of a team of experts in history and politics. Relations between the two groups are “chilly”, says one.

At 2:30 the march resumes. Rather than proceeding to the ExCel Centre itself, though, it makes its way to a station of London’s Docklands Light Railway; on the way, several of East London’s school-aged youths join the march, and on reaching Canning Town the group is some 300 strong. Proceeding on foot through the borough, the Youth Fight For Jobs reaches the protest site outside the G-20 meeting.

It’s impossible to legally get too close to the conference itself. Police are guarding every approach, and have formed a double cordon between the protest area and the route that motorcades take into and out of the conference venue. Most are un-armed, in the tradition of London police; only a few even carry truncheons. Closer to the building, though, a few machine gun-armed riot police are present, standing out sharply in their black uniforms against the high-visibility yellow vests of the Metropolitan Police. The G-20 conference itself, which started a few hours before the march began, is already winding down, and about a thousand protesters are present.

I see three large groups: the Youth Fight For Jobs avoids going into the center of the protest area, instead staying in their own group at the admonition of the stewards and listening to a series of guest speakers who tell them about current industrial actions and the organization of the Youth Fight’s upcoming rally at UCL. A second group carries the Ogaden National Liberation Front‘s flag and is campaigning for recognition of an autonomous homeland in eastern Ethiopia. Others protesting the Ethiopian government make up the third group; waving old Ethiopian flags, including the Lion of Judah standard of emperor Haile Selassie, they demand that foreign aid to Ethiopia be tied to democratization in that country: “No recovery without democracy”.

A set of abandoned signs tied to bollards indicate that the CND has been here, but has already gone home; they were demanding the abandonment of nuclear weapons. But apart from a handful of individuals with handmade, cardboard signs I see no groups addressing the G-20 meeting itself, other than the Youth Fight For Jobs’ slogans concerning the bailout. But when a motorcade passes, catcalls and jeers are heard.

It’s now 5pm and, after four hours of driving, five hours marching and one hour at the G-20, Cardiff’s Socialists are returning home. I board the bus with them and, navigating slowly through the snarled London traffic, we listen to BBC Radio 4. The news is reporting on the closure of the G-20 conference; while they take time out to mention that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed the traditional group photograph of the G-20’s world leaders because “he was on the loo“, no mention is made of today’s protests. Those listening in the bus are disappointed by the lack of coverage.

Most people on the return trip are tired. Many sleep. Others read the latest issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Party’s newspaper. Mia quietly sings “The Internationale” in Swedish.

Due to the traffic, the journey back to Cardiff will be even longer than the journey to London. Over the objections of a few of its members, the South Welsh participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs stop at a McDonald’s before returning to the M4 and home.

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Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

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Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

October 12, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A robotic system at Stanford Medical Center was used to perform a laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery successfully with a theoretically similar rate of complications to that seen in standard operations. However, as there were only 10 people in the experimental group (and another 10 in the control group), this is not a statistically significant sample.

If this surgical procedure is as successful in large-scale studies, it may lead the way for the use of robotic surgery in even more delicate procedures, such as heart surgery. Note that this is not a fully automated system, as a human doctor controls the operation via remote control. Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is a treatment for obesity.

There were concerns that doctors, in the future, might only be trained in the remote control procedure. Ronald G. Latimer, M.D., of Santa Barbara, CA, warned “The fact that surgeons may have to open the patient or might actually need to revert to standard laparoscopic techniques demands that this basic training be a requirement before a robot is purchased. Robots do malfunction, so a backup system is imperative. We should not be seduced to buy this instrument to train surgeons if they are not able to do the primary operations themselves.”

There are precedents for just such a problem occurring. A previous “new technology”, the electrocardiogram (ECG), has lead to a lack of basic education on the older technology, the stethoscope. As a result, many heart conditions now go undiagnosed, especially in children and others who rarely undergo an ECG procedure.

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Earth Day 2009 celebrated around the globe

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Earth Day 2009 celebrated around the globe

October 11, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today is the 39th observance of Earth Day in the northern hemisphere. Earth day is celebrated in Autumn on November 30 in the southern hemisphere. Senator Gaylord Nelson initiated the first Earth Day in April 1970 in the United States, and it is now celebrated by over 1 billion people in over 170 countries worldwide. Earth Day is the biggest environmental event which addresses issues and educates people on environmental awareness on a global scale.

This year, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will beam high-definition images to the NASA website and television. By doing so, NASA hopes to increase appreciation of global climate issues. There will also be a Washington exhibit relating to environmental issues viewed from space as well.

At the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center activities will focus on their slogan for Earth Day 2009, “Just One Drop … PRICELESS” and will demonstrate how the Environmental Control Life Support System operates as used on the International Space Staton (ISS).

Amongst the many festivals, WorldFest is a solar powered music celebration held in Los Angeles, California. Buenos Aires will also feature its second Earth Day event featuring a music festival as well.

“We are in a new era of energy innovation,” said Daniel Yergin at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) forum. Lithium-ion batteries are providing electric storage solutions for electric cars such as the Chevrolet Volt and the Dodge Circuit EV. Algae fuel is a new form of biofuel, but is still under development.

“Energy Smackdown” was a competitive household activity which compared energy usage between 60 separate households across three cities in or near Boston. The various competitors came up with a variety of innovative methods to cut their carbon footprint, installing solar electric panels, geothermal heat pumps, wind turbines, and using a caulking gun to seal the home from drafts.

“In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.” is a United States Department of Energy (DOE) estimate.

Miami is installing a smart grid which will use individual household smart meters to allow energy consumers know via a web site, their exact home energy usage. “To me these are prudent and smart investments that will easily pay for themselves. It will show the nation how to address environmental, energy, and economic challenges all at the same time.” said Miami mayor Manny Diaz.

Cal Dooley, CEO of the American Chemistry Council ACC, says the plastic bag industry is prepared to spend US$50 million to revamp their manufacturing facilities and will collect 470 million pounds of recycled plastic every year to make plastic bags of 40% recycled content. The ACC is providing a donation to the Keep America Beautiful environmental organisation, both of whom endorse this new project. The Earth Day Network (EDN) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) would like to see an end to the use of plastic bags, however. “We don’t want people to use disposable bags. We want people to use reusable bags,” says Darby Hoover of the NRDC.

Calgary researchers will begin field surveys to help save the “Northern Leopard Frog (Rana Pipiens). “Northern Leopard Frogs are threatened in Alberta, but endangered in British Columbia,” said Dr. Des Smith, Primary Investigator and Research Scientist with the Calgary Zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research. “It is essential to develop new monitoring techniques for Northern Leopard” said Breana McKnight, Field Team Leader and Endangered Species Researcher.

The traditional Earth day ceremony of planting trees is garnering further attention in Japan as Koichi Nakatani, the nation’s Tree Planting Father travels from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

Students can take part in an Earth Day photo contest sponsored by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies which will feature images and scientific student research for the environmental change depicted in each photo submitted.

“Earth Day should be about teaching about the environment every day,” said Sean Mille director of education for EDN, “We emphasize taking action for your classroom, school, district or community.” 25,000 schools across America made use of the environmental curriculum developed by the National Civic Education Project, the Green Schools Campaign and the Educator’s Network. Lesson plans are broad and varied and may focus on water pollution, recycling, composting, using chemistry to convert cafeteria left-overs into biodiesel or ethanol fuel or converting go-carts to operate on biodiesel or ethanol fuels in shop class.

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Eurovision ’04 winner Ruslana discusses her paths as singer, spokesmodel, stateswoman and source of inspiration

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Eurovision ’04 winner Ruslana discusses her paths as singer, spokesmodel, stateswoman and source of inspiration

October 10, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Monday, March 30, 2009

First becoming famous in her native Ukraine in the 1990s, long-haired self-described “AmazonRuslana gained international recognition for winning the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Wild Dances,” inspired by the musical traditions of the Hutsul people of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains.

In the five years since, Ruslana has decided to use her name and public status to represent a number of worthy causes, including human trafficking, renewable energy, and even the basic concept of democratic process, becoming a public face of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution and later serving in Parliament.

Currently, she is on an international publicity tour to promote her album Wild Energy, a project borne out of a science fiction novel that has come to symbolize her hopes for a newer, better, freer way of life for everyone in the world. She took time to respond to questions Wikinews’s Mike Halterman posed to her about her career in music and her other endeavors.

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with past Eurovision contestants, which will be published sporadically in the lead-up to mid-May’s next contest in Moscow.

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Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax dies

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Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax dies

October 9, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ernest Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, died in his Lake Geneva, Wisconsin home on Tuesday at the age of 69 due to heart problems.

Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor was the first role-playing game, a genre in which players describe their characters in thorough detail and can attempt almost any action the character plausibly could. Gygax, then a close friend of Arneson, worked with him during 1972-73 to develop the extensive set of rules (in this case three volumes) that such a game requires. This became the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons. He also fleshed out the default setting for the game, a “sword-and-sorcery” world inspired primarily by fantasy fiction such as Three Hearts and Three Lions. He then founded TSR Inc. to publish the game; although it was a runaway success, financial difficulties ultimately forced the company to sell itself to Wizards of the Coast, which currently publishes the game and is now a subsidiary of Hasbro.

Although not involved with later editions of D&D, Gygax later worked on other role-playing games and wrote fantasy novels. He also designed niche-market board games.

Dungeons & Dragons is considered a tabletop RPG, since it is played with pen, paper, dice and miniature figures. It inspired other tabletop RPGs (such as GURPS), as well as video RPGs (such as the Final Fantasy series). The most recent form of RPG is the massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game, such as World of Warcraft. An estimated 20 million people worldwide have played the game. Magazines, print and web comics and independent bands have been dedicated to the game, as have thousands of fan websites.

Gygax’s death comes mere months before the scheduled release of the 4th Edition of D&D in June, as well as a scheduled “GM Day” among D&D fans on the internet.

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Wikinews Shorts: April 19, 2007

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Wikinews Shorts: April 19, 2007

October 9, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

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

Contents

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

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

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

Related news

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

Sources


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

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

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

Sources


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

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

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


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

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

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

Sources


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources


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Oil spewing from crack in seafloor of Gulf of Mexico was fifty feet from Deepwater Horizon well

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Oil spewing from crack in seafloor of Gulf of Mexico was fifty feet from Deepwater Horizon well

October 7, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Monday, July 19, 2010

After an investigation, Wikinews has learned that oil spewing from a rupture in the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico on June 13 was 50 to 60 feet from the Deepwater Horizon leak.

A nearly four and a half minute video posted on YouTube on June 13 was from the Viking Poseidon ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) 1. It shows oil and methane leaking from the seafloor at around 2:48 a.m. on June 13. The ROV monitors the leak for a minute and even gets covered in a plume of oil and sand before it moved on to the next spot. Smaller eruptions were seen as the ROV traveled, making the leak locations vary from 50 to 60 feet from the damaged well.

Until now, there was no way to determine the location of the ROVs in relation to the previously leaking Deepwater Horizon well. Alexander Higgins, an independent computer programmer, developed the ‘Gulf Oil Spill ROV UTM Distance Calculator.’ Using the coordinates for the location of the Deepwater Horizon, and the location of the Viking Poseidon on June 13, Wikinews was able to determine that the first rupture and leak was approximately 50.45 feet from the leaking well or “21.56 feet [n]orth and 45.61 feet [w]est” of the Deepwater leak point.

Higgins told Wikinews how he created the calculator, and says it is “very accurate,” but that the tool would “not give you accurate measurements over a large distance, e.g. from the well head to New Orleans.”

“This tool was created using java script that uses basic Pythagorean theorem ( A 2 + B 2 = C 2 {\displaystyle A^{2}+B^{2}=C^{2}} ) to calculate the distance between two points. The distance is simply ( N 1 ? N 2 ) 2 + ( E 1 ? E 2 ) 2 {\displaystyle {\sqrt {(N_{1}-N_{2})^{2}+(E_{1}-E_{2})^{2}}}} . ROV coordinates match the location within a few feet when looking at the well because obviously the ROV can not be over the exact center because that is where the BOP is,” said Higgins.

BP, who owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon, has denied that any oil or methane gas is leaking from the sea floor. On July 16, Kent Wells, the senior vice president of BP, said on their official Twitter page that “4 ROVs using sonar scanning [are] looking for anomalies in seabed floor. No indications any oil or gas escaping.” Seismic tests were conducted on July 16; Admiral Thad Allen of the United States Coast Guard said that “no anomalies” were found, but also that the tests were “not comprehensive.”

On Sunday, Wikinews contacted BP, who authenticated the video, and asked if any ROVs were sent back to the crack and leak location on June 13 for further investigation. According to their office in London, England, they “sent ROVs to investigate and monitor that and no further signs of oil or gas were found.” They also stated that they “have continued to monitor” and “have also carried out seismic surveys. Nothing found to give concern.” Wikinews also asked if they could confirm the location of the leak and crack, but no response was given.

However, on July 18, the Associated Press reported that there was “seepage” coming from the area at the bottom of the Deepwater well head. For the past two days, ROV cameras showed bubbles coming from the base of well. BP said it would test the bubbles to determine what they are and as of Sunday, COO of BP Doug Suttles says the bubbles are not methane, but further tests are being conducted. “If you can imagine, it is not an easy operation to collect those bubbles so that they can be tested to see what their make-up is.”

Since the June 13 video surfaced, other videos have been posted to YouTube allegedly showing some of the ROVs being tossed around by large amounts of oil seeping through the seafloor. One video showed an alleged eruption spraying oil and debris around the BOA DEEP C 2 ROV before it was tossed from side to side. It then immediately retreated to the surface. Some of the cracks on ocean floors, where oil has leaked from, have occurred naturally. One such oil spill in California in 2005 was the result of a naturally occurring crack in the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Some of those cracks can cause oil to leak through at a rate as high as 5,000 gallons a day, with most of the oil not even reaching the water’s surface. In the Gulf of Mexico, oil leaks through natural cracks at a rate several times less than leaked from the Deepwater well.

“The Deepwater Horizon site releases 3 to 12 times the oil per day compared to that released by natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico. By May 30, the Deepwater Horizon site had released between 468,000 and 741,000 barrels of oil, compared to 60,000 to 150,000 barrels from natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico over the same 39 day period,” said Cutler Cleveland, a Boston University professor at the university’s Department of Geography and Environment.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill started on April 20 after an explosion on the rig. Efforts to put out the fire failed and the rig subsequently sank to the bottom of the Gulf. On April 22, an oil slick appeared on the surface of the Gulf. BP capped the leaking well on July 13 which effectively stopped oil from leaking into the Gulf. The company has been running a pressure integrity test on the 150,000 pound cap for 48 hours. Earlier on July 17, they announced the test would continue for another day. BP hopes for the well’s pressure to rise to or above 7,500 PSI. As of Saturday morning the well’s pressure was just above 6,700 PSI. BP fears anything lower than the expected PSI could mean a leak in the cap or elsewhere, such as oil or methane seeping up from the seafloor.

“We are feeling more comfortable we have integrity. We will keep monitoring and make the decisions as we go forward. The longer the test goes the more confidence we have in it,” said Allen.

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Real Estate Washington’s Foreclosure Rescue Plan}

October 6, 2018 · Filed under Financial Services

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Submitted by: Mark Walters

Can distressed home owners expect a foreclosure rescue plan to save the day?

Glad you asked, because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp has been working on just such a plan, It’s is designed to rescue between two and three million homeowners. By the time you read this the plan will probably have hit the street in some form.

The key element of the foreclosure rescue plan is to motivate banks to rework real estate loans rather than foreclosing on homes. Your generous government will remove the bank’s risk by providing a partial federal guarantee for any losses on all the modified mortgages that meet certain criteria.

Remember that $700 billion bailout fund? That’s right, the one that passes out a few million to any Wall Street firm that made money losing investments. Well the foreclosure rescue plan would use between $40 billion and $50 billion of that money to underwrite the rescue.

Couple this plan with the recent announcement by some of the United States’ major banks that they are halting real estate foreclosures and reworking many mortgage loans. All this should halt the slide in real estate values, right? Maybe not

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Douglas Elmendorf is a real smart guy and former Clinton advisor. Good old Doug says, “Even an ambitious program of mortgage modifications will not prevent a further decline in house prices.”

“It might prevent an overshooting of house prices on the downside. But houses still look overvalued relative to people’s rents or incomes, and it’s going to be very difficult to sustain house prices at their current level.”

History has shown that any market must have a complete correction before it can begin moving to the up side, so it should come as no surprise that any attempt to keep home values artificially high will just postpone the inevitable and delay the eventual recovery.

The bad news is that foreclosure sales have continued to drive price declines and fueled an increase in sale transactions in key local markets across the nation and there is no sure end of foreclosures in sight.

The Federal Reserve reports that the nation’s troubled economy has scared the pants off of foreign and domestic banks. They further tightened access to mortgage credit recently. A survey of 55 domestic and 21 foreign banks indicated that the large majority of domestic banks reported tightening their lending standards on prime, nontraditional and subprime residential mortgages over the past three months.

Lending standards have even increased on prime mortgage loans. When it comes to prime mortgages about 70% of the banks tightened lending requirements. It should be no surprise that 90% of the banks tightened the screws on nontraditional mortgages.

Tighter lending standards generally lead to reduced borrowing, which explains why 50 percent of domestic lenders experienced weaker demand for prime residential mortgages. 70% even indicated weaker demand for nontraditional mortgage loans and jumbo loan products.

While lenders have been making it more difficult for potential home buyers to qualify for mortgage financing interest rates have been inching up. That’s a double whammy for home prices. If people can’t afford or qualify for a mortgage they can’t buy a home.

The final result is fewer buyers for an increasing number of homes for sale. Can those financial geniuses in Washington really come up with a foreclosure rescue plan that doesn’t do even more damage to what’s left of the free market? I wouldn’t bet on it.

About the Author: Mark Walters is a third generation real estate investor andis offering a Free copy of his big guide to finding private and

hard money loans for real estate

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Mark also offers

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