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June 14, 2011

Fire in central London causes traffic chaos

Fire in central London causes traffic chaos

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Smoke still coming from the roof of Marconi House at about 2.30 p.m. local time, over 3 hours after the alert was raised.
Image: Bencherlite.

A fire on Aldwych, in central London, England, has led to serious traffic problems in the area since this morning. Many roads have been closed for some hours while firefighters attempt to extinguish the blaze. There are no reports of any casualties.

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The blaze is at Marconi House, a ten-storey building currently being converted into flats and a luxury hotel, near the church of St Mary le Strand, King’s College London and Somerset House. The alert was raised at about 11 a.m. BST (10 a.m. UTC). About 75 firefighters in 15 fire engines were sent to the scene, from depots including Homerton and Whitechapel in east London and Old Kent Road in south-east London. Ambulances, including hazardous response teams, and police officers are also in attendance.

Local roads, including Waterloo Bridge and parts of the Strand, have been closed to traffic, causing significant disruption to travellers. At least ten bus routes are affected, and the London Underground is accepting bus tickets for travel within the affected area.

The cause of the fire is unknown at present, but is located in the roof of the building. The smoke could be seen from large parts of central London, and was still coming from the roof some hours after it started.

When Wikinews returned to the area at 7.45 p.m. local time, traffic was still prevented from passing the building although the pavement on the south side of Aldwych (furthest from Marconi House) had been reopened to pedestrians. The scene was still under the control of the London Fire Brigade (LFB), with police cars and ambulances still in attendance. Waterloo Bridge and the Strand were still closed to vehicles, with about fifteen fire engines or LFB command vehicles parked close by and many hosepipes running across the road. Some smoke could still be seen coming from the roof of the building, but less than before. Some damage to the roof was also visible.

Smoke as seen from Waterloo Bridge

Smoke as seen from Waterloo Bridge at about 2.30 p.m.
Image: Bencherlite.

Emergency services on the scene at about 2.30 p.m.

Emergency services on the scene at about 2.30 p.m.
Image: Bencherlite.

The scene at about 7.45 p.m, with London Fire Brigade hoses running along the closed road.

The scene at about 7.45 p.m, with London Fire Brigade hoses running along the closed road.
Image: Bencherlite.

Marconi House, under conversion into a hotel and flats, is at the west end of Aldwych, by the north end of Waterloo Bridge.

Marconi House, under conversion into a hotel and flats, is at the west end of Aldwych, by the north end of Waterloo Bridge.
Image: Bencherlite.



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May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden killed in U.S. operation in Pakistan, White House says

Osama bin Laden killed in U.S. operation in Pakistan, White House says

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Monday, May 2, 2011

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File photograph of Osama bin Laden.
Image: FBI.

U.S. officials last night said Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader and orchestrator of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and embassy bombings in 1998, had been killed by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan near the capital Islamabad.

White House officials say that four others were killed in the forty-minute raid that began at 2000 UTC yesterday—including a woman said to have been used as a human shield. One of those shot is thought to be bin Laden’s son. An American helicopter was lost due to mechanical failure, but no U.S. forces or civilians were killed.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced the news in a statement late last night. “I can report to the American people and to the world, that the U.S. has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” Obama said. He confirmed he had been told in August of a lead to the location of bin Laden, and approved the operation last week. The operation involved a “small team of Americans”, Obama said.

The operation, led by the CIA, occurred nearly ten years after the 9/11 attacks. CIA director Leon Panetta notified U.S. legislators Sunday about the news. His body was verified using several methods, including DNA testing with DNA from a dead sister’s body, stored in a Boston, Massachusetts hospital, as well as facial recognition. However, staff at the hospital in question—Massachusetts General Hospital—have not been able to “find any evidence” of the body ever being stored there. U.S. officials said his body was then buried at sea at around 0600 UTC today, “in accordance with Islamic law and traditions” and because of the difficulty of finding a country that would accept the remains of the world’s most wanted man. Saudi Arabia, the country in which Osama bin Laden was born, refused a U.S. offer to take the body.

Celebrations in U.S.; European Parliament says world is ‘safer’

Following the President’s announcement, people started gathering in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., Times Square and Ground Zero—the site of the World Trade Center—in New York, to celebrate; singing the national anthem. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, said he hoped the death of bin Laden would “bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001”.

The U.S. government is reportedly expecting al-Qaeda to soon release what they are likely to call a “martyr tape”—an audio recording made by bin Laden to be broadcast after his death.

Although the death of the 54-year-old bin Laden, who was the most wanted person in the world, was greeted with celebration in the U.S., analysts have warned that al-Qaeda will “undoubtedly” launch a retaliatory attack. “I think the significance of what has happened cannot really be overstated,” John Gearson, director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London, said.

President Obama’s announcement of the news.

“There will be concerns that there could be some sort of retaliation, that al-Qaeda may well want to demonstrate that they are still strong and still in the game.” He warned that U.S. officials may “lose their focus” after such a major victory, “and that will provide an opportunity for the remnants of al-Qaeda to reform and grow stronger.”

Cquote1.svg I can report to the American people and to the world, that the U.S. has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden. Cquote2.svg

—Barack Obama

Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, appealed to Islamic militant fighters to use the opportunity of bin Laden’s death to abandon their groups. “Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance: you cannot wait us out,” she said. “You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon Al Qaeda and cooperate in a peaceful political process.”

The president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, said that “we have waken up in a safer world”, with the news bringing “safety to millions of people”, whilst U.S. senator John McCain sought to remind the American people to “be mindful that al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies”. The Kremlin reiterated that “revenge is inescapable for all terrorists”, and that “only a joint struggle against global terrorism can bring a result”.

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, sought to remind people bin Laden was “the world’s most prominent leader”, going on to say that “it was of great importance that he was still alive and active, and it is unequivocally a good thing that he is no longer able to pursue terror, murder and mayhem in the world”. Mentioning that security at British embassies worldwide have been increased in the wake of the news, he reiterated that the death of the al-Qaeda leader was a “serious blow”, and that, “like any organisation that has suffered a serious blow, they will want to show in some way that they are still able to operate”.

Americans gather at Ground Zero—the site of the World Trade Center—in New York to celebrate the death of bin Laden.
Image: rxb.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, welcomed the news, along with many other European countries. He praised the “tenacity” of the U.S. attack, congratulating the “major blow” the move dealt to al-Qaeda. Eight French citizens were killed last week in a bomb blast in Marrakesh, and, although no group has yet claimed responsibility, it is speculated that al-Qaeda were behind the attack. Sarkozy paid homage to them, as well as other around the world, saying the “victims received justice today and France has thoughts for them and their families”.

Cquote1.svg It is unequivocally a good thing that he is no longer able to pursue terror, murder and mayhem in the world. Cquote2.svg

—William Hague, British Foreign Secretary

Pakistani involvement

Pakistani officials were not informed of the planned raid, with the White House saying this was “essential to the security of the operation and our personnel”. However Obama emphasised that cooperation with Pakistan had helped in finding bin Laden. The operation, described by one senior White House official as “a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimise collateral damage”, was not intended to take bin Laden alive. “It was a kill mission”, said one security official. Bin Laden died after being shot in the head.

Witnesses in Abbottabad have described how the U.S. forces carried out the raid on the compound, which had significant security features, including walls up to 18-foot high topped with barbed wire. “We saw four helicopters at around 2am. We were told to switch off lights of our homes and stay inside,” one witness, who lives in the town of Bilal in Abbottabad, said. The man confirmed he had seen the wreckage of the U.S. military helicopter which crashed after experiencing mechanical difficulties.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the U.S. “operation was conducted [by] U.S. forces in accordance with declared U.S. policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the U.S. forces, wherever found in the world”, noting that almost “30,000 Pakistani civilians” had been killed in terrorist attacks in recent years, with the “nation fully united in [its] resolve to eliminate terrorism”.

Cquote1.svg We saw four helicopters at around 2am. We were told to switch off lights of our homes and stay inside. Cquote2.svg

—Witness in Abbottabad, Pakistan

However, Pervez Musharraf, a former president of Pakistan, criticised the U.S. involvement, describing the operation as a “violation of [Pakistani] sovereignty,” and saying the raid was a “a failure of both Pakistani and U.S. intelligence”; he stressed it would have been “far better” if the Pakistani Special Services Group had carried out the attack. Musharraf went on to say he was “surprised” bin Laden was found in Abbottabad, but added the terrorist leader “had declared war against Pakistan”, and that the news came as a “victory for the people of Pakistan and all the peace loving people of the world”.

The news that bin Laden was hiding just a few hundred metres from Pakistan Military Academy, a similar institution to the U.S. West Point Academy or the UK Sandhurst, has been met with embarrassment on behalf of the Pakistani government, and scepticism from others. “This is a serious blow to the credibility of Pakistan”, according to one Pakistani security analyst. Earlier today, Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai maintained he knew bin Laden was in Pakistan: “For 10 years we told NATO and the world community but for ten years they didn’t listen to our voice. They burned Afghanistan for ten years but Osama was in Islamabad.”

Photograph of Obama and his national security team awaiting updates on the strike mission, yesterday.
Image: The White House.

Whilst many governments worldwide welcomed the death of bin Laden, more than 800 people marched in the Pakistani city of Quetta, paying homage to bin Laden and burning a U.S. flag. According to the organizer, “Bin Laden was the hero of the Muslim world and after his martyrdom he has won the title of great mujahed“. At the march, pro-Taliban and anti-United States sentiments were chanted, before the protesters dispersed peacefully.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan have denied that bin Laden has been killed, although in a conference call to several Pakistani media outlets, a rebel spoksperson threatened to seek revenge: “If Bin Laden attained martyrdom, then we will avenge his death and we will attack the governments of Pakistan and the United States and their security forces”.

Although no images of bin Laden’s body have been released, the Obama administration is, according to ABC News, in possession of gruesome photographs: a “massive head wound” where he took a bullet, with “blood and brains clearly visible”.

The price of oil has dropped following the announcement after speculation that the death of bin Laden will lower the risk of supply disruption in the Middle East, with a barrel of crude oil for June delivery falling by $1.92.



Related news

  • “”Osama to Obama”: Bin Laden addresses US President” — Wikinews, January 25, 2010
  • “Pakistani prime minister says Osama Bin Laden not in the country” — Wikinews, December 3, 2009

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January 1, 2009

Mathematician Martin Taylor awarded knighthood

Mathematician Martin Taylor awarded knighthood

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Martin J. Taylor
Image: Martin Taylor.

Pure mathematics professor and Vice President of the Royal Society Martin Taylor is among the scientists honoured in the British New Years Honours List. Professor Taylor, who becomes a Knight Bachelor for services to science, headed the SCORE group, which consisted of science teachers who advised the government on how to boost school pupils’ interest in the sciences.

Taylor is known in mathematics for his work on the properties and structures of algebraic numbers. In particular he proved in 1981 the Fröhlich Conjecture. Albrecht Fröhlich was his PhD supervisor at King’s College London. The conjecture relates the symmetries of algebraic integers to the behaviour of certain analytic functions called Artin L-functions.

At the young age of 33 he was appointed to a chair in pure mathematics at UMIST and continued in this position until the merger with the Victoria University of Manchester in 2004 when he became a professor in the School of Mathematics of the newly formed University of Manchester.

Taylor has received numerous honours including the London Mathematical Society Whitehead Prize in 1982 and shared the Adams Prize in 1983. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1996. He was President of the London Mathematical Society from 1998 to 2000. In 2003 he received a Royal Society Wolfson Merit award and he became Chairman of the International Review of Mathematics (Steering group). In 2004 he was appointed Physical Secretary and Vice-President of the Royal Society and in 2006 he awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Leicester, the university in the town of his birth.

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August 4, 2005

Former UK MP Mo Mowlam \’critically ill\’

Former UK MP Mo Mowlam ‘critically ill’ – Wikinews, the free news source

Former UK MP Mo Mowlam ‘critically ill’

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Thursday, August 4, 2005

Former Labour Party MP and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam, 55, is reported to be critically ill at King’s College Hospital, London.

According to a King’s College Hospital spokeswoman, Ms. Mowlam is “critical but stable,” and added that her family did not want further details disclosed.

Ms. Mowlam survived a brain tumour in the 1990s, which saw her lose her hair, forcing her to wear a wig.

Many state that her charismatic personality played an important role in the Northern Ireland peace talks, leading to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and an IRA ceasefire.

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June 30, 2005

Undercover investigation into protests planned for July\’s G8 summit

Undercover investigation into protests planned for July’s G8 summit

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Scotland on Sunday published, this Sunday, the results of an undercover investigation into the protests planned for the 31st G8 summit. The investigation of the “anarchists and dissenters” of the movement lasted six months and was carried out by Scott McCulloch, on behalf of the Scottish newspaper’s broadsheet Sunday edition.

McCulloch’s report details the training camps of the protest groups that were held this weekend in preparation for the summit next month. Attendees were expected to learn how to cut or climb over fences and how to avoid injury from attacks by guard dogs. Factories making tubes that protesters use to lock themselves to other protesters are also being set up according to the report on the investigation. Massive road blocks are planned in an attempt to disrupt the summit.

The protests are expected to be coordinated from a central point at the Ecovillage in Forthbank, close to the city of Stirling in central Scotland. An area of land owned by the Council was approved as the location for the ecovillage by Stirling Council on Friday 24 June. The site is intended to be a solar powered campsite for an allegiance of groups making up a possible total of 5000 people. A license to hold the event at Forthbank was sought by Convergence 2005 after two other proposed sites had already been disallowed by the Council.

Despite last minute objections raised by Central Scotland Police, the Council decided that Forthbank would be the least disruptive location for the protesters to gather, and noted that security measures had been taken. Security measures are already visible at other camps, including a steel barrier around the campsite at Craigmillar, Edinburgh. More serious security measures, designed to protect the attendees of the Summit, will involve warships and army helicopters, according to an editorial by Murdo MacLeod in the Scotland On Sunday on Sunday 26. The paper also reports that Mike Smith, from King’s College London, says that security fences and police snipers are expected to be surrounding the area of the Summit.

The summit itself is taking place in Gleneagles, which is 20 miles away from the main campsite in Forthbank. The ecovillage is expected to open at the start of July.

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