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October 31, 2005

UN calls for further Syrian cooperation

UN calls for further Syrian cooperation – Wikinews, the free news source

UN calls for further Syrian cooperation

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Monday, October 31, 2005

This Tuesday the fifteen-member United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for Syria to cooperate fully with the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC). The Security Council demanded that Syria detain suspects indentified by the UNIIC until such time as they could be questioned. The resolution warns of “further action” if Syria fails to cooperate with the investigation.

Ministers from the United States, Britain, and France, were circulating a draft of the resolution with stronger wording on action in the event that Syria failed to cooperate. After the vote US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said: “With our decision today, we show that Syria has isolated itself from the international community through its false statements, its support for terrorism, its interference in the affairs of its neighbours and its destabilising behaviour in the Middle East.”

Russia and China had signaled they opposed wording the resolution in a way that threatened sanctions. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, told the council, “The commission itself believes that the investigation is yet to be completed and there is no final conclusion. Under such circumstances it is inappropriate for the council to prejudge the outcome of the investigation and to threaten to impose sanctions.”

The final wording was endorsed by all 15 members of the Security Council.

Syria had earlier rejected the findings of the UN investigation into the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

“It is a political statement against Syria based on allegations by witnesses known for their hostility to Syria,” Mehdi Dakhlallah, Syria’s information minister, told Aljazeera.

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Kansas School Board has copyright withheld over teaching Intelligent Design

Kansas School Board has copyright withheld over teaching Intelligent Design

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Kansas has been denied permission to use two key documents commonly used in the writing of science education standards for states, the National Science Education Standards (published by the National Research Council) and Pathways to Science Standards (published by the National Science Teacher Association). The respective organizations argued that they could not grant the state of Kansas permission to use these documents in the current form of the Kansas Science Educational Standards, as these overemphasize controversy between the scientific theory of Evolution and the argument of Intelligent Design. Moreover, the organizations criticize that the standards in their current form distort the definition of science. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has expressed its support for the decision to deny Kansas the use of copyrighted material, as “the proposed standards misrepresent both the content and the standing of evolution as a scientific organizing principle”.

Proponents of Intelligent Design have characterized the refusal as “an effort to censor the discussion of scientific criticism of Darwinian theory by intimidation and threat”.

This is likely to further delay the ratification of the final vote on the Kansas Science Educational Standards as they will have to be rewritten either to not violate any copyright restrictions or modify their account of evolution and outlook on science. According to University of Kansas professor Steve Case, rewriting the standards will be very difficult, as “there is copyrighted material on every page” of the current document.

This is the second time that Kansas was denied the right to use copyrighted materials in their state standards, following the case in 1999, when Kansas included Creationism, a precursor of Intelligent Design, into the school curriculum. A later school board overturned that directive.

The dispute in Kansas has brought nationwide responses, ranging from a rebuke by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to the creation of internet-sensation Flying Spaghetti Monster mythology (which is lobbying the Kansas School Board to give equal time teaching their creationism theory as well.)

See also

  • US state of Kansas in battle over “Intelligent Design” in education

Sources

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Bush nominates Alito to U.S. Supreme Court

Bush nominates Alito to U.S. Supreme Court

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Samuel Alito accepting his nomination

U.S. President George W. Bush nominated Judge Samuel Alito of New Jersey as Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court in a formal announcement at 8 a.m EST (13:00 UTC) this morning.

Bush called Alito one “of the most accomplished and respected judges in America” and stressed that he has “more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years.”

Alito is currently a judge at the 3rd Circuit Appeals Court in Philadelphia. He is viewed as a staunch conservative and has been compared to current Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.

The nominee, when and if confirmed, would succeed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who announced her retirement in July. This latest nomination process was made necessary when Harriet Miers withdrew herself from consideration after being met with harsh criticism among Democrat and Republican lines alike.

The debate over the conservative candidate is expected to be largely partisan, unlike the Harriet Miers nomination that was widely criticized by both legislative parties for her lack of judicial experience.

Alito, 55, has served on his circuit court since 1990 and was originally nominated by President George Herbert Walker Bush.

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Bush narrows choice to Supreme Court

Bush narrows choice to Supreme Court – Wikinews, the free news source

Bush narrows choice to Supreme Court

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Judge Samuel Alito

Reuters is reporting that President Bush is expected to announce his choice to replace Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court on Monday.

The Chicago Tribune reports that President Bush narrowed his short list of Supreme Court nominees to two, with a possible third. The two top individuals in consideration are Judge Samuel Alito of New Jersey and Judge Michael Luttig of Virginia. Judge Priscilla Owen of Texas may remain as a third possibility. Reuters late Sunday also listed Appeals Court Judges Michael McConnell, Edith Jones and Alice Batchelder as possibly under consideration. CBS added that the list may include Appeals Court Judge Karen Williams and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan.

The nominee, when and if confirmed, would succeed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who announced her retirement in July. This latest nomination process was made necessary when Harriet Miers withdrew from consideration.

Since Congress returned from summer recess, there have been significant changes at the court. When Justice O’Connor originally announced her intention to retire, President Bush nominated Judge John Roberts to replace her. However, when Chief Justice Rehnquist died in September from thyroid cancer, Roberts became the replacement for the Chief Justice.

Both Alito and Luttig are viewed by many as staunch conservatives with strong qualifications. The debate over either conservative candidate is expected to be largely partisan, unlike the Harriet Miers nomination that was widely criticized by both legislative parties for her lack of judicial experience.

Samuel A. Alito, age 55, has served as a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia since 1990. J. Michael Luttig, age 51, has served as a judge on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond since 1991. Both were originally nominated by President George Herbert Walker Bush.

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IBM partners with Google to produce a corporate desktop search program

Filed under: Archived,Computing,Google,IBM,Science and technology — admin @ 5:00 am

IBM partners with Google to produce a corporate desktop search program

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Monday, October 31, 2005

IBM and Google have partnered to start production on a desktop search program for corporate users.

Previously, IBM’s OmniFind could only look inside standard applications such as Oracle, and Google’s Desktop Search program didn’t have any extensive network capabilites. The end product of this collaboration will allow for searching managed databases, as well as many unmanaged files, such as personal e-mails, Microsoft Word documents, and rich media files, within corporate servers.

“Getting these two products together makes sense for both of us,” David Girouard, general manager of Google’s enterprise business unit. “If you want to have a good corporate search product, you have to have desktop search,” he said.

No exchange of money has been made between the two companies, and this announcement comes only a few weeks after Google announced its partnership with Sun Microsystems, Inc. Some speculate that Google is making a move to directly challenge Microsoft Corp. in the field of PC Desktop software.

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Hurricane Beta makes landfall in Nicaragua

Filed under: Archived,Environment,Hurricane season, 2005,Nicaragua,Weather — admin @ 5:00 am

Hurricane Beta makes landfall in Nicaragua

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Hurricane Beta hit the Nicaraguan coast early on Saturday, sending powerful rain and winds their way.

Although it lost some speed during landfall, Beta was still a Category 2 hurricane, with winds of up to 110 Mph (175 kph) and was expected to dump up to 15 inches of rain. Residents from the local coastal fishing villages rushed into flimsy makeshift shelters as the hurricane approached.

“We had a very bad night. The water leaked in, the children were cold. They brought us here without telling us anything. We don’t have food or water,” Norma Smith, a mother of six, said on Sunday morning.

Neighboring Honduras declared a national emergency, and planned to evacuate 125,000 people. However, residents in the isolated coastal regions are usually wary of outsiders, and many failed to heed the warnings.

“These people do not believe in danger until they really feel it,” said Col. Mario Perez-Cassar, the head of Nicaragua’s civil defense.

Emergency officials say there have been no deaths so far, but the projected path of Beta takes it straight across Nicaragua, raising the possibility of lethal mudslides in mountainous areas.

Beta, which was not expected to hit the United States, was the 23rd hurricane this year, more than any Atlantic season on record. This season has also seen more storms than at any point since record-keeping began in 1851. The previous record of 21 was set in 1933.

Last week Tropical Storm Alpha formed, the first time a letter from the Greek alphabet has been used because the list of storm names was exhausted.

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Canadian Immigration Minister outlines plan for application backlog, job vacancies

Filed under: Archived,Canada,Immigration,North America — admin @ 5:00 am

Canadian Immigration Minister outlines plan for application backlog, job vacancies

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Joe Volpe, Immigration Minister of Canada, has set a goal of 255,000 immigrants in 2006 and a longer term goal of 300,000 by 2010. In 2004, there were 236,000 new immigrants and in 2005 that number is expected to increase to 245,000. The Cabinet must approve the immigration target plan.

There are reportedly 700,000 applications currently in the queue and it can take up to four years for an application to be processed to its conclusion. Canada announced the new immigration plan to clear the backlog on April 18, 2005.

Volpe argues that Canada needs to begin thinking of the Immigration Department as vehicle for recruiting given the country’s demographics and associated labour needs.

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October 30, 2005

World Bank continues its support of Moldovan private sector development

Filed under: Archived,Economy and business,Europe,Moldova,World Bank — admin @ 5:00 am

World Bank continues its support of Moldovan private sector development

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

The World Bank approved a US$9.8 million Competitiveness Enhancement Project (CEP) for the Republic of Moldova Thursday. The approved amount represents a US$4.90 million credit and a US$4.90 million grant. The credit is offered under IDA terms, the World Bank Moldova Country Office has reported.

The overall objective of the Competitiveness Enhancement Project is to assist Moldova in enhancing the competitiveness of enterprises through improvements in the business environment and making adequate standards, testing and quality improvement services available to enterprises.

“The project will help the Government of Moldova to implement the business regulatory reform that had been started earlier,” said Irina Astrakhan, World Bank Task Manager for the Project. “It will also assist the government to begin modernization of the national standards and quality system, leading to improved competitiveness of the Moldovan economy in domestic and international markets and more attractiveness for foreign direct investment.”

The CEP Project has four components — business environment improvement; modernization of measurements, standards, testing and quality (MSTQ) system; facilitation of enterprise access to MSTQ services; and facilitation of access to finance.

“The Project will bring about unquestionable benefits to the economic environment in Moldova by focusing on stability within the framework of business regulation, the promotion of adequate legislation, access to product certification services in line with the standards set by the European Union, encouragement of an innovative potential for enterprises, and facilitation of access to funding by means of various up-to-date mechanisms”, said Mr. Valeriu Lazar, the Moldovan Minister of Economy and Trade.

The enterprise sector, especially SMEs, will be the primary beneficiaries of this project. The Ministry of Economy and Trade Business Regulatory Reform Commission and Secretariat, the Service for Standardization and Metrology, the National Institute for Standardization and Metrology, the Accreditation Center for Conformity Assessment of Products and other institutions of the MSTQ infrastructure will also be helped by the project.

The total cost of the CEP Project is US$14.3 million. In addition to the World Bank credit and grant, the project will also be financed by the Government of Japan in the form of grant amounting to US$4.5 million. The Project implementation period is 4 years, from January 2006 to December 31, 2009.

Since Moldova joined the World Bank in 1992, Bank commitments to the country total approximately US$592 million for 29 operations.

Sources

  • [1]” — “Infotag”, October 28, 2005
  • [2]” — “Moldova Azi”, October 29, 2005
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Opposing a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory

Opposing a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

A protest against a proposed nuclear waste dump is continuing this week in Australia’s Northern Territory. The traditional owners of the site in the Arrernte Nation say they will continue to protest against the facility near the Stuart Highway about 20 kilometres north of Alice Springs.

The Federal Government wants an operating licence for a new reactor in Sydney, to replace the ageing Lucas Heights facility. One of the key conditions for the operating licence of a new reactor is the establishment of a viable waste management plan. In July the federal government announced a short list of three locations in the Northern Territory as potential sites for a radioactive waste dump. The Government wants a facility to store and manage low and intermediate level radioactive waste resulting from the medical, industrial and research use of radioactive materials by Commonwealth agencies.

Traditional owners of Athenge Alhere – an estate group of the Arrernte Nation – have voiced their dissent to the nuclear dump and say they don’t want waste from Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor brought to their land. “Because the land we take care of, because all our ancestors lived in this land and hunted on this land as well, so it’s mainly because of the animals and the next generation of our kids and their children, so we still say no,” traditional owner Benedict Stevens said.

The Medical Association for Prevention of War condemned as “scaremongering” the claims by Federal MPs that the health of Australians would be in jeopardy if a nuclear waste dump was not imposed on the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth Government.

The three proposed sites include:

  • Fishers Ridge, a defence site 42km south-east of Katherine.
  • Harts Range, a defence site 165km north-east of Alice Springs.
  • Mount Everard a defence site 27km north-west of Alice Springs.

The NT Government cannot prevent the dump from proceeding, as all three sites are all on Commonwealth land. Although the Northern Territory Parliament has passed legislation banning the storage or transport of any nuclear waste, the Federal Government is able to use its external affairs power to override the legislation.

The Federal Government abandoned locating the dump in South Australia and Western Australia following local opposition.

A final decision is expected to be made by the end of 2006, with the preferred site to be operational by 2011.

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Explosions rock New Delhi marketplace

Explosions rock New Delhi marketplace – Wikinews, the free news source

Explosions rock New Delhi marketplace

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Map showing where three explosions occurred.
(red dots)

Three bombs shook the Indian capital of New Delhi on Saturday in crowded marketplace bazaars within minutes of each other, killing at least 61 people, according to recent reports. The national government is on high alert. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a statement in response to the attack, saying, “India will win the battle against terrorism.”

The BBC reports that ten people have been detained in the investigation into the blasts. Police say they are making progress into the investigation and that it appears the same group was behind all three incidents.

In addition to the reported deaths, 210 people have been injured in the blasts in central and south Delhi, according to recent reports. With Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights being celebrated Tuesday, the bomb blasts have sent ripples across the nation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed terrorists for the blasts, but verification of responsibility has not occurred. The blasts, first thought to be masterminded by Lashkar-e-Toiba, a group which India claims is supported by Pakistan, were later asserted by a group called “Inquilab”. The blast had all the hallmarks of being carried out by well-funded terrorist groups supported by Pakistan, however its foreign ministry said in a statement: “Pakistan strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in Delhi, which have resulted in the loss of a number of innocent lives.”

The bombings came just as India and Pakistan were beginning to recover from the shock of this month’s Kashmir earthquake.

Earlier violence

Last May, one person died and 49 were wounded by bombs at two Delhi cinemas; the attack was blamed on Sikh militants.

Delhi was the location of a terrorist attack in December 2001. The 2001 event was blamed on Islamic militant groups backed by Pakistan, although Hindu-Muslim conflicts have usually occurred in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Sources

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29 October 2005 New Delhi bombings
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