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Czech pub food eating experiment resulted in lost weight, lower cholesterol

Friday, March 10, 2006

On February 8, the same day Super Size Me opened in Prague, a Czech film company’s volunteer known as Karel Gustav Bozan began a 1 month diet of Czech pub food and beer in a Czech version called “Super Spek Me”; which translates loosely as “Super Flab Me”.

Zuzana Pudilova of Aerofilms described the volunteer at that time: “He is a well-built man between 45 and 50. He is almost 2 metres tall, he is not exactly thin but until now he has had quite a healthy lifestyle.”

Karel ate typical Czech pub food for an entire month with three rules: no vegetables or fresh fruit (unless they came with a meal) no exercise, and lots of beer.

Karel’s menu consisted entirely of typical Czech dishes. Obesity therapist, Iva Malkova, had warned at the beginning of the project: “People in the Czech Republic eat much more fat, especially animal fat than is recommended.” Pub meals in the Czech Republic often consist of such fatty items as goose with dumplings or sausages.

Yesterday the results were announced; Karel lost six kilos, his cholesterol went down and so did his liver enzymes, triglyceride and uric acid levels. His blood pressure did not change. At his interview with Radio Prague he said: “I feel good, great! The food was varied and there were even enough greens in the garnish. As for beer, I tried to alternate brands but I always settled it with Pilsner. I liked the experiment, it was all paid for by the distributor, Aerofilms. I would do it again, maybe they will propose it to me!”

Zuzana Pudilova of Aerofilms said: “The result of the experiment is surprising – both for us and the experts who monitored it. The medical report says our volunteer has lost weight and his blood sugar has dropped. So we have come to the conclusion that fatty Czech pub grub is not all that bad for you – which I guess wasn’t meant to be the result of the experiment at all.”

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Bikers begin descent on South Carolina resort for rallies

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina —This weekend is the kick-off for two motorcycle rallies held annually in the U.S. eastern seacoast town of Myrtle Beach. Enthusiasts this year are expected to meet or exceed the 170,000 bikers that arrived last year in droves to the small resort town of 23,000. Festivities span two weeks, and extend again this year into the Memorial Day.

Leading off is the week-long Harley rally, followed by the next week’s BikeFest. In and around town, both day and night are punctured by the sounds of bike engines gunned and revved at stop lights and in parking lots. Groups of cycle riders dominate the streets.

“By Friday night, the front parking lot will be a full line of motorcycles to the corner.” said motel owner Ranjan Patel. The Super 8 motel takes up half a block at its location in the heart of the downtown motel strip. “Both sides [of Ocean Blvd] are nothing but bikes.” Both she and her co-owner husband agree, the influx of bikers dwarf in size the numbers of tourists who visit during regular summer months for ocean-side and family amusement park attractions.

The highly accesorised bikes, decked with chrome and polished to show it, flashed the townscape. Choppers made a showing, but road hogs dominated the ridership, often going twosome. Many rally goers arrived on the scene with SUV’s or big pickup trucks towing cargo trailers loaded with cycles.

Growth in the sheer size of the two rallies led police to make changes in the handling of traffic flow. During BikeFest last year, the mostly black crowd that came in on the heels of the largely white Harley rally the week earlier, were faced with confusion when the two-lane Ocean Blvd was made one-way.

A branch of the NAACP in Conway, the next town over from Myrtle Beach, alleged discrimination by Horry County and Myrtle Beach Police. They claimed authorities and police used an overwhelming and aggressive police presence, combined with a restrictive one-way traffic pattern, to intimidate and discourage the participants in the rally.

An injunction was issued earlier this week by U.S. District Judge Terry Wooten, who ruled that bikers at both rallies be treated the same. Myrtle Beach city lawyers immediately filed an appeal to the ruling at the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying “the trial court erroneously determined that the plaintiffs would likely succeed on the merits; that is, that the city of Myrtle Beach intentionally treats Memorial Day weekend tourists differently from others similarly situated because of their race.”

A plan to submit an opposition to the notice has already been announced by Michael Navarre, an attorney for Steptoe & Johnson, who represents the NAACP civil rights group. “We certainly don’t think the judge has ruled erroneously,” Navarre said, according to The Sun News.

Traffic control and safety measures were in full swing Friday morning on US-17. Both directions of the 4-lane divided highway south of Myrtle Beach had traffic cones and parking barriers set up to control traffic. Large flashing road signs on each side of the highway warned cars to use the passing lane. The warning sign flashed a message that the right lane was for motorcycle use only. Police monitored the pull-offs near a Harley dealer’s lot where popular attractions were set-up in the immediate vicinity.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
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Police report drug haul seizure worth up to £30 million in Brownhills, England

Monday, December 2, 2013

Police in the West Midlands in England today said nearly 200 kilograms worth of drugs with value possibly as great as £30 million (about US$49 million or €36 million) has been seized from a unit in the town of Brownhills. In what an officer described as “one of the largest [seizures] in the force’s 39 year history”, West Midlands Police reported recovering six big cellophane-wrapped cardboard boxes containing cannabis, cocaine, and MDMA (“ecstasy”) in a police raid operation on the Maybrook Industrial Estate in the town on Wednesday.

The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated

The seized boxes, which had been loaded onto five freight pallets, contained 120 one-kilogram bags of cannabis, 50 one-kilogram bags of MDMA, and five one-kilogram bricks of cocaine. In a press release, West Midlands Police described what happened after officers found the drugs as they were being unloaded in the operation. “When officers opened the boxes they discovered a deep layer of protective foam chips beneath which the drugs were carefully layered”, the force said. “All the drugs were wrapped in thick plastic bags taped closed with the cannabis vacuum packed to prevent its distinctive pungent aroma from drawing unwanted attention.” Police moved the drugs via forklift truck to a flatbed lorry to remove them.

Detective Sergeant Carl Russell of West Midlands Police’s Force CID said the seizure was the largest he had ever made in the 24 years he has been in West Midlands Police and one of the biggest seizures the force has made since its formation in 1974. “The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated”, he said. “The drugs had almost certainly been packed to order ready for shipping within Britain but possibly even further afield. Our operation will have a national effect and we are working closely with a range of law enforcement agencies to identify those involved in this crime at whatever level.”

Expert testing on the drugs is ongoing. Estimates described as “conservative” suggest the value of the drugs amounts to £10 million (about US$16.4 million or €12 million), although they could be worth as much as £30 million, subject to purity tests, police said.

Police arrested three men at the unit on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. The men, a 50-year-old from Brownhills, a 51-year-old from the Norton area of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, and one aged 53 from Brownhills, have been released on bail as police investigations to “hunt those responsible” continue. West Midlands Police told Wikinews no person has yet been charged in connection with the seizure. Supplying a controlled drug is an imprisonable offence in England, although length of jail sentences vary according to the class and quantity of drugs and the significance of offenders’ roles in committing the crime.

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US Court of Appeals reduces sentence for former Philippines officer in spy case

Monday, February 9, 2009

Michael Ray Aquino, a former Philippines National Police officer serving six years imprisonment in McRae, Georgia for espionage could now be eligible for immediate release after a United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit judge panel Friday modified a United States District Court for the District of New Jersey‘s judgment, ordering a resentence of the accused under more lenient guidelines.

“I feel relieved for Michael Aquino and his family. We won the appeal. Michael will be resentenced. His new sentencing range will be 36-46 months (that is, essentially time served). Aquino has now served exactly 41 months in prison to the day on Feb. 9, 2009,” Aquino’s lawyer, Mark A. Berman, Esq. said. “The accused pleaded guilty to merely to possessing military secrets, and a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Walls erred in using harsher sentencing guideline reserved gathering or transmitting classified documents,” Berman added.

But Federal prosecutors had argued for Walls’ sentence, alleging “his guilty plea included acknowledging the stolen documents could have been used to harm the United States, making him eligible for the stiffer sentence,” Christopher J. Christie, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey submitted. “Crimes like these strike at the heart of our national security because they involve our keeping our secrets secret. These defendants will face the full weight of federal prosecution,” said US Attorney Christie.

“The arrests of Leandro Aragoncillo and Michael Ray Aquino affirm the FBI’s commitment to apprehending those who would seek to reveal classified information to foreign nationals,” explained FBI Special Agent in Charge Leslie Wiser Jr. Both accused were ordered in judicial custody without bail by United States Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz in September 2005.

“While Aragoncillo was an active participant in the offense, Aquino’s role was purely passive,” wrote Circuit Judge Maryanne Trump Barry in a written opinion promulgated Friday, in “US v Aquino” (No. 07-3202), an appealed case originating from D.C. Crim. No. 05-cr-00719. In the judgment, federal judges Barry, Michael Chagares and Jane A Restani, Chief Judge of the United States Court of International Trade, sitting by designation, have acknowledged that Judge William H. Walls’ interpretation of the harsher sentencing guideline was understandable, but the statute is imprecise. “Accordingly, we will vacate the judgment of sentence and remand for resentencing,” the panel ruled.

“The Honorable Maryanne Barry” is a United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit judge, daughter of Mary MacLeod Trump, who hails from Tong, Western Isles. Barry is the older sister of real estate mogul Donald Trump and the mother of David Desmond, who is a neuropsychologist and the author of the satirical novel Oliver Booth.

The espionage case was the first of its kind, obliging the Court to turn to the dictionary instead as a legal tool to resolve the landmark case. Circuit Judge Barry then used the 1993 version of the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary to define the word “obtain.” The pertinent part, pages 9 to 10 of the 13-page decision provides as follows:

First, Aquino never admitted—at least in so many words—that he “obtained” the documents found in his possession. According to Webster’s, “to obtain” means “to gain or attain possession or disposal of usu[ally] by some planned action or method.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1559 (1993). This has an active connotation. At his sentencing hearing, Aquino answered in the affirmative when asked whether he had “receiv[ed]” documents (App. 44) that Aragoncillo “was providing” (App. 45) or “transmit[ting]” (App. 46). At no point was “planned action or method” on Aquino’s part even suggested. While Aragoncillo was an active participant in the offense, Aquino’s role was purely passive. In short, there is no sound textual basis for selecting either § 2M3.2 or § 2M3.3 to address Aquino’s retention offense at Step One. Fortunately, at Step Two, the Sentencing Commission provided guidance that makes it functionally irrelevant whether we begin our analysis at § 2M3.2 or § 2M3.3. Critically, the District Court did not heed what the Commission had said.—”USA v. Michael Ray Aquino,” Case No. 07-3202, Circuit Judge Maryanne Trump Barry

Judge Walls sentenced Aquino to 76 months imprisonment for violation of 18 United States Code 793(e), punishable under the harsher United States Sentencing Guidelines, 2M3.2, (Gathering National Defense Information, which imposes 35 years sentence if top secret and 30 years, if not) instead of the more lenient 2M3.3 (Transmitting National Defense Information, etc.)

Because of the Barry decision which modified the original Hall’s sentence, Aquino now faces 37 to 46 months imprisonment when he is resentenced by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Since he has already served 40 months, he could be immediately released.

But since he was initially arrested in September 2005 for tourist visa rules violations, he will be delivered by the judicial authorities to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services when he leaves McRae Correctional Institution in Georgia. Aquino will be processed for deportation. McRae is a city in Telfair County, Georgia, United States.

Michael Ray Aquino was a former Deputy Directory of the Philippines National Police Intelligence Group and former senior superintendent of the now-disbanded Philippines Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force under former Philippines president Joseph Estrada.

On November 24, 2000, PR man Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito were kidnapped along the corner Zobel Roxas Street in Manila and the South Super Highway by gunmen believed to be members of the PNP. Four days after, the victims’ charred remains, consisting of burnt bones, metal dental plates and a ring, were later found in Barangay Buna Lejos, Indang, Cavite. Both victims were killed by strangulation.

P/Col. Glenn Galapon Dumlao, one of the accused, named former Po/Supt. Cezar O. Mancao II and former S/Supt. Michael Ray Aquino as the brains behind the crime. Mancao and Aquino were members of Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force or PAOCTF, headed by then Gen. Panfilo Lacson. Suspects Mancao and Aquino left the country after being implicated in the heinous crime. Dumlao disappeared afterwards but later resurfaced in the US.

In 2005, murder cases were filed in Philippine courts and arrests warrants were issued against accused Dumlao, Aquino and Mancao. Dumlao, a resident of Patchogue, New York was arrested and held without bail on November 20, 2008 by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge William D. Wall. On December 10, Dumlao was ordered extradited to the Philippines by Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Long Island, New York.

The initial hearing of the extradition case of Dumlao’s co-accused, Mancao II, now detained in Florida, was held on December 3, in the US District Court in Southern Florida in Fort Lauderdale. Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez had requested the US Justice Department to extradite Mancao and Dumlao to face murder charges in the Philippines. An extradition hearing has yet to be initiated for Aquino, although, as trusted officer of then PNP chief, now senator, Panfilo Lacson, was also requested for extradition by the Philippine government to face trial for the Dacer-Corbito double murder.

“Sir, the other day Leandro ‘Lean’ Aragoncillo called me. … He wants to talk to you and give you some updates on the political situation in the country,” wrote Aquino in an e-mail of January 2005 to his former boss Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson. “I find all the information that you are sending me very useful. I hope you will continue sending more,” replied Sen. Lacson in an e-mail he allegedly sent in January 2005 to Aragoncillo. “By no means would you show this information. … I will be affected severely. Again, please protect the source – Me,” said Aragoncillo in an E-mail he allegedly sent in August 2005 to former Philippines President Joseph Estrada.

In March 2005, Aquino was arrested by immigration authorities for overstaying his visa. He contacted his friend, Leandro Aragoncillo, a Philippine-born civilian FBI Intelligence Analyst, who worked in the White House (between 1999 and 2002) as “administration chief” of the security detail assigned to the Vice President (Gore and then Cheney). However, Aragoncillo’s efforts on Aquino’s behalf eventually led to Aragoncillo being investigated by the FBI. In the course of that investigation, evidence of espionage against the United States Government was uncovered.

According to reports complied by Filipino intelligence professionals, there were indications of a link between Aragoncillo and the French intelligence service, Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure. Frequent visits by Aragoncillo to Manila allegedly were interspersed with clandestine meetings between identified, French operatives and several “illegals” (i.e. unregistered agents) around 2002 to 2004.

“What it means is that there is a hole in White House security. There are two kinds of people at the White House: Those that have been very well-vetted and those that have been extremely well-vetted and have access to the top secret computer network. This man had access to the top secret computer network.” said Richard A. Clarke, a former White House adviser.

“The FBI said Aragoncillo was concerned about e-mailing from his personal account so many classified documents from FBI computers, and he asked one recipient, Filipino opposition Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, whether he was a nuisance. “The reply, court records say, came back two days later in a cell phone message intercepted by the FBI: “What you are sending are never a nuisance to me. They are in fact informative and very useful,” Clark added.

In September 2005, Aragoncillo, a retired US Marine Gunnery Sergeant with 21 years service was suspended by the FBI, and arrested for violation of Title 18 of the US Code, Sections 371 and 951, admitting espionage activities from August 2000 to August 2005, and taking files while working under VP Cheney from 2001-2002, including giving information to another country.

In July 2007, Aragoncillo, age 50, a naturalized US citizen residing in Woodbury, New Jersey was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for “transferring classified information to assist in overthrow of Philippines government.” Aragoncillo, admitted passing information by cellphone text messages and e-mail messages through Hotmail and Yahoo accounts, to Aquino, former President Joseph Estrada, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and opposition politicians, who wanted to oust Mrs. Arroyo, including former House Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella, according to court documents. He will be released from Federal Correction Institute in Big Spring, Texas on May 28, 2014.

The court fined Aragoncillo $40,000. “I never intended to cause harm or injury to the United States,” Aragoncillo told the judge. In July 2007, Sen. Panfilo Lacson as well as deposed president Joseph Estrada have admitted to receiving information from Aquino, but they denied any conspiracy. “Aquino is determined not to return to the country,” said Sen. Lacson, who admitted extending financial support to Aquino and his family.

In July, 2008, Sabina and Carina Dacer, the daughters of missing public relations man Salvador “Bubby” Dacer testified at the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC), after almost eight years of self-exile in the United States. “In his exact words he said, ‘mga anak, kung may mangyari sa akin, walang ibang may kakagawan noon kundi si Ping Lacson, (my daughters, if anything happens to me, no one but Ping Lacson is responsible)” Sabina Dacer told ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. “Hindi naman kilala ng daddy ko si Michael Ray Aquino as far as we know eh. So kung hindi siya kilala ng daddy ko, sino yung kilala niya na kilala ng daddy ko? (My dad does not know Michael Ray Aquino as far as we know. So, if my dad does not know him, whom does he know that my dad knows?)” Carina Dacer said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson has vehemently denied any involvement in the Dacer-Corbito murder case. “For the Nth time, I will assert the truth that I had nothing to do with it,” said Lacson in a text message. “They can lie and make people lie even under oath and before a court of law to make me look bad and guilty in the Dacer case. In fact, right after Dacer disappeared, the family sought my help… And I responded the way I should as a law enforcement officer at that time,” Lacson explained.

On Saturday, September 10, 2005, Aquino was also arrested at Queens, New Jersey and was charged with conspiracy and acting as an agent of a foreign official in the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, presided by U.S. District Judge William H. Walls. Aquino was accused of helping Aragoncillo transmit classified United States documents regarding President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to her opponents in the Philippines, including both former President Joseph Estrada and current opposition leader, Panfilo Lacson, who had been Aquino’s superior in the police force.

In an indictment of 6 Oct 2005 signed and filed by United States Attorney Christopher J. Christie, the Grand Jury sitting at Newark, New Jersey, accused Aquino with charges of – “knowingly communicating classified information by a government employee to an agent or representative of a foreign country (i.e. receiving classified information), acting as an agent of a foreign official without notification of the Attorney General, in violation of Title 18 of the US Code, Section 951, conspiracy to commit all of the above offenses in violation of Title 18 of the US Code, Section 371, and not cooperating with authorities, under Title 18 of the US Code, Section 2.

Under an eventual plea-bargain agreement, Aquino entered a plea of guilty to illegal possession of classified documents, but avoided the more serious charge of espionage which Aragoncillo received. On July 17, 2007, Aquino was sentenced to six years and four months in prison by U.S. District Judge William H. Walls. Federal prosecutors had sought the maximum 10-year term.

Aquino “did subject our nation to some peril,” ruled Judge Walls. “I am sorry for what I did. I never had the intention to harm the United States. I love this country,” said Aquino who addressed the court for three minutes before sentencing, and apologized. On November 21, 2008 his reduced sentence request was submitted to the appellate court.

Meantime, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is monitoring developments in the Aquino espionage case. “Of course we are interested in his case, but all we can do is to wait for the outcome of the case of Michael Ray in the US,” said a police official.

The Alliance for A Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines has criticized the judgment: “For the AJLPP the news of the release proves that the charade of injustice is ever present when it comes to the cabal of AFP men who served as worst human rights violator and proven puppets of the United States military like the Lacson boys,” the AJLPP said. “On the other cases of oppressed immigrants like the Baoanan case languishes in courts and not acted upon. So much for double standard of American justice system.” The AJLPP statement concluded.

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Questions raised over Mosquito device ahead of New South Wales trial

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A device known as the Mosquito, set to be trialed in New South Wales (NSW), Australia by RailCorp in a bid to deter vandals from areas frequently the target of graffiti, is attracting criticism. Wikinews reached out to several people about the trials.

The units work by emitting a high-pitched buzz, similar to that of a mosquito, which is generally only audible to those under the age of about 24. The aim is to repel young people who become irritated by the noise, as a prevention method against graffiti, loitering, and other crimes like theft.

The initiative was announced last month, but RailCorp has not revealed when it intends to test the technology to crack down on graffiti.

In an interview with Wikinews, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties Cameron Murphy this week labeled the strategy “ridiculous”. “All they’re going to do is wear headphones and these [devices] will make no difference at all.”

Thousands of units have been set up in the UK since they first became available about seven years ago, where they’re used to stop youths gathering near public areas like shops and train stations. The technology has a high usage rate in the UK, and the Council of Europe has called for a ban on grounds it violates human rights, calling it “highly offensive”.

A RailCorp spokesperson confirmed to Wikinews the devices would only be situated on railway land away from public areas.

Mr Murphy maintains the NSW government’s policy is “based upon discrimination” and it assumes the youth affected by the noise are those doing graffiti, without solid evidence to prove this.

NSW Liberal MP Gareth Ward told Wikinews, “very few crime fighting techniques are fool-proof,” and as people have found ways to get around CCTV, they’re like to do the same with this, which is why it’s only being trialed at this stage. He acknowledged the devices will be situated in areas where the general public shouldn’t be hanging around. “There are certain areas in the network where trains may not be travelling at a particular time and that’s when those devices will be turned on […] and I think that’s perfectly reasonable.” He remarked, “any young person who feels they’ve been aggrieved […] should feel free to contact the Minster for Transport.”

A mobile phone message tone based on the same mosquito sound has been touted as teacher-proof because teens should be the only ones able to hear it if it goes off during class.

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Oil rig in Gulf of Mexico sinks after explosion; eleven missing

Friday, April 23, 2010

The oil rig Deepwater Horizon sank yesterday after an explosion Tuesday night that left eleven people missing.

According to an officer from the US Coast Guard, the rig sank sometime in the morning. The rig had caught fire after an explosion of unknown origin occurred two days ago. 115 of the 126 workers on board the time of the explosion have been rescued after evacuating in lifeboats, either by the Coast Guard or from other ships in the area.

The remaining eleven have not been located, although Coast Guard officials have expressed optimism that they are still alive.

The environmental impacts of the explosion and subsequent sinking of the rig are unclear. While up to 13,000 gallons of crude oil per hour has been released from the rig, until now, the effects have been considered minimal, as it had been burned off in the fire. That does have the potential to change, though, according to David Rainey, vice president of the lessor of the rig, BP. The rig, built in 2001 by Hyundai Heavy Industries was owned and operated by Transocean.

The rig was located roughly 50 miles southeast of the coast of Louisiana, and was under lease to BP since 2007. It was completing the construction of a new oil well, and was constructing a layer of cement in the well to reinforce it. This is considered dangerous, as it has the potential to produce an uncontrolled release of case, called a blowout. While the cause of the explosion has yet to be determined, a blowout is considered a possibility.

One survivor of the explosion, who declined to give his name, told the The New York Times that he was lying in bed when the explosion happened. “It caught me by surprise. I’ve been in offshore 25 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” he recalled.

Stanley Murray, the father of another survivor named Chad, an electrician, said: “My son had just walked off the drill floor.” However, Murray said that a neighbor did not make it in time, adding that his son told him that the missing eleven workers could not have made it out alive. “The eleven that’s [sic] missing, they won’t find them,” Murray said.

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Thaksin still pervades Thai political landscape

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thailand’s fugitive ex-premier, Thaksin Shinawatra is in the news again today, phoning supporters in the country and appealing for no celebration of his sixtieth birthday at Sanam Luang outside the royal palace in Bangkok. This follows some red-shirted United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) supporters vowing to go ahead with the party despite Bangkok‘s Governor, Sukhumband Paribatra, saying he will deny any request.

According to Thailand’s English-language Bangkok Post, UDD leader Shinawat Haboonpad expressed determination to see the July 26 celebration go ahead, “… we will show our civil disobedience and ignore his order”.

The divisive impact of the populist Thaksin stretches back prior to him being ousted by a bloodless military coup in September 2006. As far back as 2005 figures within the Thai establishment were speaking against him; Thaksin used the courts to try and prevent dissemination of negative material, including the publication of a sermon by a respected Buddhist monk who compared him to Phra Devadhat, the Thai Buddhist equivalent of the devil. Bangkokians formed into the yellow-shirted anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) accusing the Prime Minister of corruption. Following the military intervention in 2006, and a groundswell of support among rural poor voters, the opposing pro-Thaksin groups formed into the UDD. Despite conviction in-absentia, Thaksin colours Thai politics, and has derailed efforts to stabilise the country’s political institutions.

This past week it has been the lead-up to the December 2008 dissolution of the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party (PPP) government that has resurfaced. The then-Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat was barred from politics and his PPP dissolved by the country’s Constitutional Court following anti-Thaksin yellow shirts occupying Bangkok’s international airport and stranding as many as 300,000 tourists in the country. Now the country’s Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya, a PAD leader, is facing pressure to step down for his part in the airport siege and blockade.

A report in Monday’s Bangkok Post indicates that Thai authorities continue to pursue Thaksin. The Interior Minister said that an attempt had been made to arrest Thaksin in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, but he had evaded capture and managed to return to Fiji where he remains in exile and a fugitive.

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Air Canada back in the black in 2010

Saturday, February 12, 2011

In the final quarter of 2010, airline Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) earnings rose to 134 million CAD, 42 cents per share, capping a sharp return to profitability in 2010.

The year resulted in the company’s highest-ever earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation, and rent (EBITDAR) of $1.39 billion, 707 million more than the previous year. Operating income for fourth quarter was reported as $85 million, which compared very favourably with an $83 million loss in 2009.

Only 21 months ago Air Canada was threatened with bankruptcy and using its financial weakness in negotiations with its employees, achieving status quo contracts. With labour contracts scheduled to end this month and next, the strong position of the airlines is expected to stiffen union resolve to share in the increased net revenues.

Those revenues were helped by increasing numbers of passengers and reducing costs, as well as foreign exchange gains. International travel, especially to the Pacific region, led the rises. US travellers through the main Toronto hub more than doubled, indicating the increase in foreign air traffic to and through Canadian airports.

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88th annual Brita Kongreso draws to a close

Monday, May 7, 2007

The 88th annual Brita Kongreso (British Congress) in Letchworth, England drew to an official close, Sunday, after a weekend of presentations, courses, lectures, and activities in Esperanto. With the final excursion to Cambridge (town of the Third Universal Esperanto Congress in 1907) taking place on Monday, the event will draw to a final close at the end of today.

The Brita Kongreso is an opportunity for Esperantists the world over to convene and spend the weekend being entertained, lectured, and socialising with other Esperantists in a relaxed atmosphere. This year, it was also host to a Guinness World Record attempt by French musician Jean-Marc Leclercq, a.k.a. jOmO, who successfully sang 25 songs in 25 different languages in an open air concert on Saturday, before providing evening entertainment within the main venue, Plinston Hall.

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PDPC President Rob Levin has died

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The president of the Peer-Directed Projects Center, Rob Levin, has today passed away after being hit by a car whilst riding his bike on Tuesday. He is survived by his wife Debbie and his son Benjamin.

Mr. Levin was known to many as “lilo”, his favoured IRC moniker. He entered a coma after being struck by the vehicle on Tuesday. It is believed he was not wearing a cycle helmet at the time of the collision. The incident is being treated as a hit and run.

A global notice on freenode was sent:

[17:18] -christel- [Global Notice] On the 12th September Rob Levin, known to many as Freenode's lilo,was hit by a car while riding his bike. He suffered head injuries and passed away in hospital on the16th. For more information please visit #freenode-announce

His funeral will be held in Houston, Texas. He was 50 years old at the time of death.

A special e-mail address, condolences[at]freenode[dot]net, has been setup for people to send their messages to. All messages sent to this address will be published in the online “Book of Memories” and passed on to his wife and family.

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