December 19th, 2018

Thai government reportedly planning Internet censorship

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Thai government reportedly planning Internet censorship

Thursday, January 26, 2006

According to a report in the Bangkok Post, the Thai government’s Public Relations Department is considering blocking the website of Manager Online as a possible instigator of “social chaos”.

The report claims that a document was submitted to the Communications Authority of Thailand urging a block be issued against the site as the current calls for participation in anti-government rallies by outspoken government critic Sondhi Limthongkul may be a threat to social order.

Other reports claim that CAT Telecom cut off a live satellite broadcast by Sondi on the ASTV satellite network on Tuesday evening during a discussion related to a planned anti-government rally on February 4.

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December 19th, 2018

Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

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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December 18th, 2018

Category:May 27, 2010

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Category:May 27, 2010
? May 26, 2010
May 28, 2010 ?
May 27

Pages in category “May 27, 2010”

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December 18th, 2018

BBC to cut Electric Proms for financial reasons

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BBC to cut Electric Proms for financial reasons

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

File:Bbcr2electricpromslogo.jpg

The BBC have announced they are to axe annual music festival Electric Proms from their schedule for financial reasons. The festival first took place in October 2006. The 2011 event will not go ahead, with last year’s festival being the last.

Bob Shennan, controller of BBC Radio 2, said he was “disappointed” with the decision to cancel the festival. He said “In the current climate, we are faced with making difficult decisions, including how best to deliver high-quality live music programming throughout the year in light of continuing efficiency savings. I feel that Radio 2 can achieve the same impact of the Electric Proms in an alternative, more cost-effective way. I’m disappointed that the lifetime of Electric Proms has come to an end, but very proud of its fantastically rewarding run of creating new moments in music for the past five years.”

During the festival’s five year run it has featured performances from stars such as Elton John, Neil Diamond, and Shirley Bassey.

The decision to axe the festival comes at a time when the BBC are planning a 20% savings cut. Last week BBC director general Mark Thompson announced 650 job losses after dropping five languages from the BBC World Service.

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December 18th, 2018

South American Community of Nations announced at Third South American Summit

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South American Community of Nations announced at Third South American Summit

December 2004

South American nations began the creation of an international economic and legislative bloc by a declaration made at the Third South American Summit on 8 December. Named the South American Community of Nations, the organization is a step toward greater coordination among South American states.

Two existing South American trade blocs, the Andean Community (Comunidad Andina) and the Southern Common Market (Mercado Común del Sur, or Mercosur), have been combined and three previously uninvolved states included to create the community.

The summit, held between 7-9 December at Cusco and Ayacucho in Peru, was attended by heads of state from Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. Foreign ministers attended for Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The summit was convened principally to sign the two-page Preamble to the Foundation Act of the South American Union on the second day of the summit. Although the Bolivian and Colombian presidents attended the summit, they did not attend the signing ceremony, this instead being done by representatives. Central American states Mexico and Panama attended the ceremony as observers.

The locations for the summit were chosen for their historical significance and their association with events that reflect well on South America. Cusco was the ancient capital of the advanced civilization of the Incas. Ayachucho was the site of an 1824 decisive victory against Spanish troops by the South American independence movement headed by Simón Bolívar. The First and Second South American Summits were held at Brasília, Brazil in September 2000 and Guayaquil, Ecuador in July 2002.

The community will include every state in South America with the exception of French Guiana, itself a territory of France. Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela join SACN from the Andean Community, a trade bloc established in 1969. From the more recent (1991) Mercosur comes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Guyana, Suriname, two small northeastern countries which had previously not participated in a South American trade bloc, will not immediately join the community. Chile will additionally join; it has, however, been cautious.

SACN is a more ambitious union than the previous Andean Community and Mercosur. It has been established to be more than a trade union. The “ultimate goal, which can hopefully be reached, in time, is the United States of South America,” explains Secretary General of the Andean Community Wagner. A common currency, tariff-free common market, and regional parliament are all proposed in the Cusco declaration.

Many disputes exist between South American nations that may be issues in advancing SACN.

The principal force behind SACN has been Brazil. The First South American Summit was held in Brazil through the efforts of Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Chile has been an associate member of Mercosur since 1996. It was a member of the Andean Community from its inception in 1969, but withdrew six years later when ruled by General Augusto Pinochet. With 70% of its GDP attributed to foreign trade, Chile has traditionally favored relations with the United States or the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum over South American agreements.

SACN’s short-term political and economic effects may be limited. The elimination of all trade tariffs has long been a goal of both the Andean Community and Mercosur, but has had little success.

However, 32 construction projects were approved at the summit. Worth US$4.3bn over five years, the projects focus on improving regional infrastructure. The largest is a US$700m road highway that will link Brazil and Peru across the Andes mountains. “These are anchor projects that will be carried out over five years,” said Wagner. “They were chosen because they do not serve merely as corridors between countries and zones, but also as a means of promoting development in border regions, which have traditionally been the poorest and most marginalised in our countries.” Wagner identifies 350 potential infrastructure projects of a combined cost of US$200bn.

Details of the South American Community of Nations are expected to be planned further at the first First SACN Summit in March or April of 2005 in Brazil. Work on a constitution is expected to begin in 2005. A Second SACN Summit of unspecified date is to be held in Bolivia.

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December 18th, 2018

MTV debuts ‘Logo’ cable channel targeting gay market

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MTV debuts ‘Logo’ cable channel targeting gay market

Saturday, July 2, 2005

MTV Networks launched a new cable channel to 10 million homes Thursday featuring movies, documentaries and original programming targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender audience becoming the first 24-hour digital cable network offered in the United States on several cable providers and satellite systems.

Logo will present original series, documentaries and specials as well as a library of over 200 lesbian and gay films. The cable channel is also teaming up with CBS News to cover lesbian and gay stories and headlines.

While the channel debuted Thursday, Viacom, the parent comany of Logo, had still not signed licensing agreements with several of the largest cable providers including Comcast and Cox. DirecTV signed a deal Wednesday making Logo available to 13 million households, and Time Warner and Atlantic Broadband have committed to carry the network.

Advertisers will include Orbitz, Tylenol, Motorola, Miller Lite, Lions Gate Films and Subaru wishing to market to the coveted 25-to-49 age range providing an opportunity to reach out to the lesbian and gay market.

Wikipedia has more about this subject:

Opposition to the new channel was expected with MSNBC quoting Janice Crouse, senior fellow at Concerned Women for America, a conservative public-policy women’s organization based in Washington, D.C., calling Logo “another example of an assault on children’s innocence, a means of legitimizing a homosexual lifestyle, mainstreaming homosexuality in a positive and appealing way.”

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) hails the launch of Logo.

“Logo has the potential to reach millions of American television viewers with images and stories that can play a vital role in broadening understanding of our lives, our families and our relationships,” says GLAAD Entertainment Media Director Damon Romine. “MTV Networks has a long history of groundbreaking gay and lesbian programming, and devoting an entire network to telling our stories gives us cause to celebrate.”

“What these networks provide is something new: an unprecedented opportunity for gays and lesbians to see ourselves depicted as we are, rather than as others see us,” Romine says. “At its best, television holds up a mirror to our lives, and the advent of these three networks means that LGBT viewers can now see themselves more accurately and fully reflected in that mirror.”

Many have wondered why it took as long as it did to introduce a national LGBT cable channel considering the success of mainstream network shows like “Will & Grace” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

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December 18th, 2018

PBS show asserts greenhouse gases, atmospheric pollutants dimming future

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PBS show asserts greenhouse gases, atmospheric pollutants dimming future

Saturday, April 22, 2006

This week, the Public Broadcasting Service aired a NOVA program titled “Dimming the Earth”, which presented research by leading scientists on the complex systems of our global climate and human activity’s effect on it. One of the largest interactions (or “inputs”) humans have with the atmosphere is the ever-increasing use of fossil fuels. Consumption has risen 2% per year for this decade.

Fossil fuels burnt in factories and automobiles send their waste into our atmosphere in two forms. The first is CO2 and other greenhouse gases, which have received substantial attention in the last few years because of the way they trap heat in the atmosphere. The second is the tiny particles of sulfur dioxide, soot and ash, which scientists call aerosols (basically smog). Research into understanding the negative health effects of air pollution has resulted in the development of catalytic converters for cars as well as devices to remove particulate solids from industrial waste before it reaches the air.

More recently, atmospheric scientists have come upon the phenomenon of the reduction of direct sunlight reaching Earth’s surface— observing a nearly a 5% decline between 1960 and 1990, with evidence of a recovery since then. This has been dubbed the “global dimming” effect, and is probably due to the way these aerosols act upon clouds. It is important to realise that this does not represent a net loss of this much sunshine to the climate system – if so, large temperature declines would have been observed. Instead, the sunshine is absorbed elsewhere in the system, with a much smaller net loss.

Clouds form when moisture gathers around airborne particles, such as pollen or dust. Clouds formed by the aerosol particles emitted by fossil fuel consumption are made of many more tiny droplets than “natural” clouds. These smog-created clouds have two notable effects: they shield sunlight from reaching Earth’s surface and, due to water’s reflective nature, the millions of tiny droplets suspended in them reflect light back into space, allowing even less light to reach Earth.

Many scientists now believe that global dimming caused by these pollutants has mitigated the temperature rises brought about by global warming. Over the last thirty years, Earth’s temperature has increased by about 0.5 oC.

In the absence of global dimming, however, the Earth might be 0.3 oC warmer than it currently is, suggesting that a “tug-of-war” exists between greenhouse gases and particulates released by burning fossil fuels. Efforts to mitigate the human health dangers of smog have allowed more heat into our atmosphere and brought about a sharper increase in global warming.

Dr. James E. Hansen, professor at Columbia University and the head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies [1], believes that if we continue on our current pattern, this warming could be as much as five degrees in the next thirty years and ten to fourteen degrees over the course of the century. Such a temperature rise would devastate life on Earth, likely bringing on a cascade of self-reinforcing warming effects. Earth’s forests drying and burning, a steady thawing of the Greenland and arctic ice sheets, and, most dangerous of all, a release of the methane hydrates that are now frozen at the bottom of the oceans, could remake the planet into something inhospitable to human life. Dr. Hansen warns that, according to his research, man has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming and other responses to human activity by Earth’s climate reach a “tipping point”, becoming unstoppable.

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December 16th, 2018

World’s first double arm transplant undertaken in Munich

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World’s first double arm transplant undertaken in Munich

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A 54-year-old German farmer who lost both arms in a farming accident six years ago has become the first patient to receive a complete double arm transplant. The patient, whose name has not been released, underwent the operation at the Klinikum rechts der Isar, part of the Technical University of Munich (Technische Universität München), last week; he is said to be recovering well.

The operation lasted 15 hours and was performed by a team of 40 specialists in Plastic Surgery, Hand Surgery, Orthopedics and Anesthesiology, under the direction of the head of the Plastics and Hand Surgery department, Prof. Hans-Günther Machens, Dr. Christoph Höhnke (Head of Transplants, Senior Physician; Plastics and Hand Surgery) and Prof. Edgar Biemer, the former Chief of Plastic Surgery at the Clinic.

In a press statement released by the clinic, it was revealed that the patient had been thoroughly physically checked and had psychological counselling prior to the surgery to ensure he was mentally stable enough to cope with the procedure. Since completion of the surgery, the patient has been on immuno-suppressant drugs to prevent rejection of the new limbs.

Following the surgery, the press release from the clinic’s press manager, Dr. Tanja Schmidhofer, included the following statement:

The flow of blood was [re-]started in intervals of 20 minutes because the anaesthetists had to make sure that the patient would not suffer from the blood flowing back from the transplanted parts. No significant swelling was seen, nor indeed any ischemia (lack of blood flow to the tissues). This is a testament to the surgeons who established a fully functioning blood flow…the main nerves, the Musculocutaneus, Radial and Ulnar nerves were all attached and sewn together, and finally an external fixator was applied, with pins in the lower and upper arms, avoiding the risk of pressure points and sores. The operation was successfully completed after 15 hours.

Without the immuno-suppressant drugs given to the patient, the risk of there being a Graft-versus-Host Reaction or GvHR, would have been significant due to the upper arm containing a large amount of bone marrow, consisting of ICC’s or Immuno-Competent Cells, which would have triggered a near total rejection of the new limbs. A GvHR is a condition which results in the cells from the transplant attacking the immune system of the body.

Indications from the clinic suggest that the double attachment went well, although it could be up to 2 full years before the patient is able to move the arms.

The donor arms came from an unnamed teenager, who is believed to have died in a car accident.

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December 16th, 2018

AEK Athens fans damage ferry-boat in Greece

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AEK Athens fans damage ferry-boat in Greece

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Angry fans of the AEK Athens football team damaged the ferry “Ierapetra” during the route from Heraklio, Crete, to the port of Rafina in Attica. About 700 AEK supporters boarded the ferry after the end of the Greek football cup final between Olympiacos and AEK which took place in Crete. The victory of Olympiacos over AEK, 3-0, angered the supporters of AEK, which is believed to be the catalyst for damage in both the stadium and the ship.

The Prosecutor ordered a preliminary inquiry into the incidents that took place onboard the Ierapetra. During the trip, a group of youths started breaking everything for no apparent reason. They caused extensive damage to the passenger lounges and the bars, while they responded to the crew’s pleas with cursing. A Greek police officer was injured in the leg by a flare, and a crewmember was also injured.

The owner of the ship, Dane Sea Line of Piraeus, estimates the cost of damage to the ship at €150,000.

The Greek media has accused the administration of Greek police and the Ministers of Public Order and Shipping of negligence in not doing more to prevent the events.

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December 15th, 2018

British Airways Flight 38 investigation focuses on fuel system

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British Airways Flight 38 investigation focuses on fuel system

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Investigators examining the wreck of British Airways Flight 38, a Boeing 777 that crash landed short of the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport in the first hull loss of a 777, are examining the aircraft’s fuel system as a possible factor in the crash. No-one was killed as the scheduled flight from Beijing, China lost power during final approach on January 17.

136 passengers and 16 crew were on board when power was lost to the two Rolls-Royce engines about two miles from the runway, at a height of 600 feet. Autopilot and autothrottle were engaged at the time, the latter having just commanded an increase of thrust to the engines when power was lost. Co-pilot John Coward, in control at the time, was subsequently praised for being able to glide the disabled plane to within 1,000 feet of the runway, clearing a number of houses along the way.

Subsequent investigation has revealed that not only did the engines not fail simultaneously, but neither failed completely, contradicting initial belief. A preliminary report by the United Kingdom’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) stated that after the autothrottle commanded more thrust “The engines both initially responded but after about 3 seconds the thrust of the right engine reduced. Some eight seconds later the thrust reduced on the left engine to a similar level… Both engines continued to produce thrust at an engine speed above flight idle, but less than the commanded thrust.” This situation prevailed until impact.

On Wednesday the AAIB stated that they were examining “All possible scenarios that could explain the thrust reduction and continued lack of response of the engines.” However, it also went on to specifically mention attention to the jet’s fuel system, saying “This work includes a detailed analysis and examination of the complete fuel-flow path from the aircraft tanks to the engine-fuel nozzles.” The AAIB also ruled out the plane having completely run out of fuel, stating that there was “adequate fuel” in the tanks when the plane crashed. In addition to the fuel required to get to the target destination or emergency alternative airport – whichever is further – aircraft typically carry between thirty and forty-five minutes worth of extra fuel as a safety margin.

Possible scenarios being examined include fuel contamination, coming either from fuel taken on at Beijing or leakage from an unknown source. In particular, a heavy contaminant at the bottom of the tanks would explain a lack of earlier problems on the flight, as the fuel levels would only have become low in the final stages of the trip. Another possibility is that a central part of the fuel system developed a leak, reducing the amount of fuel available to the engines.

It is known that, according to the AAIB, “the autothrottle and engine-control commands were performing as expected prior to, and after, the reduction in thrust,” suggesting that all software in the aircraft was functioning correctly and rendering a software failure unlikely, although this possibility also remains under investigation.

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