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April 26, 2006

Two suicide bombers attack peacekeeping base in Egypt

Filed under: AutoArchived,Egypt,Middle East,Politics and conflicts,World — admin @ 5:00 am

Two suicide bombers attack peacekeeping base in Egypt

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Just days after the bombings in the Egyptian resort town of Dahab, two more suicide bombers struck a Multinational Peacekeeping Forces base near the Gaza border. The attack occurred at around 1300 GMT. The number of casualties is not known at this time with the spokesperson for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) and Egyptian security forces giving conflicting reports. According to Major Nathan Bond, an MFO spokesman, no peacekeepers were injured in the attack. However, Egyptian security personnel maintain that one Norwegian, one New Zealander and four Egyptians were killed in the bombing.

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Tony Snow named new White House press secretary

Tony Snow named new White House press secretary

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday named Tony Snow, a former news anchor and talk show host for the Fox News network, as his new press secretary.

Bush said in a press conference, “I’m confident Tony Snow will make an outstanding addition to this White House staff. I am confident he will help you do your job. My job is to make decisions, and his job is to help explain those decisions to the press corps and the American people.”

Snow said in response, “These are times that are going to be very challenging. We’ve got a lot of big issues ahead, and we’ve got a lot of important things that all of us are going to be covering together, and I’m very excited and I can’t wait.”

Snow, 50, replaces Scott McClellan, who submitted his resignation last week.

Before joining Fox News in 1996, Snow was a speechwriter for Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush. At Fox News, Snow was a weekend news anchor and host of “The Tony Snow Show” on Fox News Radio. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist for the Detroit News from 1993 to 2001.

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Study claims recreational ecstasy use and depression unrelated

Study claims recreational ecstasy use and depression unrelated

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ecstacy pills

A new study published in the May 2006 issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology and conducted at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette finds no significant link between Ecstasy (MDMA) use and depression.

Ecstacy: common street drug

A common street drug, Ecstasy is found mostly in tablet form, and often taken in a nightclub setting. Its psychological effects include making users affectionate, giving them the impression of heightened senses in response to music, and overall euphoria. Physically the drug acts as a stimulant, a mild diuretic and causes hyperthermia, which is why, in combination with physical exertion leading to perspiration, users often drink large amounts of water to prevent dehydration.

Paxil: a common anti-depressant

Serotonin: neurotransmitter that moderates mood

Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter, also known as 5-HT or 5-hydroxytryptamine, implicated in controlling mood. In fact, most well known anti-depressants, such as Paxil or Prozac, are believed to work by stabilizing the level of serotonin in the brain (SSRIs). Ecstasy is believed to increase the levels of serotonin because of its effects on mood. Research in lab animals has provided evidence that it causes long-term post-use serotonin depletion. A common hypothesis among many researchers is that drop in serotonin levels below normal could be recognized by a corresponding decline in mood.

Sixty-four participants took part in the study. One half of the participants between the age of 18 to 45 were obtained by word of mouth or over the Internet. The other half consisted of controls that had no experience taking ecstasy, recruited from introductory psychology classes at the university.

According to the study, participants filled out a questionnaire about their personal and drug use history. The personal history questionnaire queried the gender, age, psychiatric background, and current anti-depressant drug usage. Alternately, the drug history questionnaire explored the lifetime usage and usage habits of a wide variety of substances, including specific questions about abstinence from ecstasy and the most ecstasy taken by the participant in 12 hours.

Two tests were performed to assess psychiatric function: the Beck Depression Inventory-II(BDI-II) and the Shipley Institute of Living Scale(SILS) [1].

The BDI-II is a 21-question self-assessment that according to many sources is empirically valid for highlighting the presence and severity of depressive symptoms, and meets the requirements of the DSM-IV, which is the standard reference that mental health professionals use to diagnose psychological disorders.

The SILS is administered to assess cognitive abilities. It was developed in 1940 as a measure of general intellectual functioning, and is still administered in its original form.

According to the study there was no significant difference in the BDI-II scores between the control and experimental groups. Furthermore, no significant correlation was found between any of the conditions of ecstasy use.

This study seems to go against the consensus that MDMA reduces serotonin levels and causes some measurable damage. However, there are other studies in the same journal that go into more detail about individual usage habits and harm reduction strategies that need to be considered alongside the data presented with this study. The study claims that when experimental groups are gathered via the Internet, they could be biased (more available information, taking less) and adopt different harm reduction strategies than average users.

However, according to Professor David Nutt at University of Bristol, one could conclude Ecstasy causes less harm, and has less societal costs than alcohol.



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References

  1. Graeme Senior. “Shipley Institute of Living Scale” — University of Southern Queensland, October 22, 2001

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Others named in lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal

Others named in lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal

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Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story

Image of verified petition/complaint.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Buffalo, New York — A copy has been obtained of the lawsuit filed against the City of Buffalo for allegedly fast-tracking a seven million dollar hotel proposal.

The Elmwood Village Hotel is a 72-room, seven-million-dollar hotel proposed by Savarino Construction Services Corporation and designed by architect Karl Frizlen of the Frizlen Group. Its construction would require the demolition of at least five buildings, currently at 1109-1121 Elmwood, which house several shops and residents. Although the properties are “under contract,” it is still not known whether Savarino Construction actually owns the buildings. It is believed that Hans Mobius, a resident of Clarence, New York and former Buffalo mayoral candidate, is still the owner. The hotel is expected to be a franchise of the Wyndham Hotels group.

According to official court documents, there are more defendants than previously thought. Documents state that not only Buffalo’s Common Council and Planning Board are named in the lawsuit, but also the Mayor of Buffalo, Byron W. Brown, Savarino Construction Services Corporation, Hans J. Mobius and his son Hans S. Mobius owners of the properties at stake, Pano Georgiadis, owner of Pano’s Restaurant on Elmwood, and Cendant Corporation, the parent company of Wyndham Hotels are also named in the suit.

According to the lawsuit, during the length of the trial, Savarino Construction along with their employees, Hans Mobius and his son are not allowed to make any alterations or “engage in the physical alteration” of any of the said properties, 1109-1121 Elmwood and 9999 Forest. The suit also states that the owner of 605 Forest, Pano Georgiadis is also to follow the same rule.

The suit also states that Hans Mobius, his son and employees or “agents” are not allowed to “take any step, lawful or otherwise, to terminate [the] petitioners, Nancy Pollina and Patricia Morris,” owners of Don Apparel at 1119 Elmwood “tenancies.” Although the business is owned by Pollina and Morris, they are without a lease.

Land use and zoning of proposed site of Elmwood Village Hotel, April 2006.

Within the suit it states that the rezoning of the properties 1119-1121 Elmwood and 605 Forest, by the Common Council, from a ‘R3’ Dwelling District to a C2 commercial zone “constitutes as impermissible ‘spot-zoning'” and is “not in accord with a well-considered plan for the development of the community and is null and void.” According to the suit the courts of New York have defined spot-zoning as “the process of singling out a small parcel of land for a use classification totally different from that of the surrounding area, for the benefit of the owner of such properties and to the detriment of other owners.” The suit also states that the proposed site for the hotel is different from the surrounding properties because none of the zoning classifications, ‘EB’ [Elmwood Avenue Business District], ‘R3’ [Dwelling District], ‘R1’ [One Family District] and ‘R2’ [Dwelling District], permit the construction and operation of a hotel.

It is alleged that Savarino Construction “failed to utilize forms obtainable from the city clerks office, failed to include an accurate map or survey showing the location of all buildings and structures and failed to include the names and addresses of each of the owners of the properties to be rezoned.”

Site plan or zoning referral to Erie County, New York and reply to municipality.

It is also believed that recommendation in regards to [hotel] compatibility, different land uses, traffic studies, community character, population density, relations between other residents and business owners, public convenience, governmental efficiency, and achieving and maintaining a satisfied community, were to be sent to Erie County’s Planning agency and was to refer Savarino’s rezoning application and site plan to the agency, however; the lawsuit alleges that although a referral was given to Savarino, it “does not appear that the ‘full statement of such proposed action’ was forwarded to the County [Agency].”

The suit also alleges that the Common Council “failed to wait the ‘statutorily-mandated’ 30-days after the County’s Planning Agency’s receipt” of recommendations from the Council. The County’s Planning Agency replied to the recommendations, however; the Agency replied on March 27, 2006, just six days after the Council made its recommendations, falling well short of the “statutorily-mandated” thirty days. The Agency’s reply however, did not support or oppose the recommendations or hotel proposal.

Public hearings are required to be registered by the City clerk to the City Planning Board, and according to the suit, “no record” of the Public hearing on March 7, presenting the initial proposal to the public, was made within the City’s Clerk office or Planning Board.

Comments from Erie County Division of planning on the SEQRA.

The suit also alleges that the Common council and Planning Board also violated the State’s Environmental Quality Review Act or SEQRA and the City’s Environmental Review Ordinance by allowing the Planning Board to be the “lead agency” instead of the Common Council. A lead agency is an involved agency principally responsible for undertaking or approving an action and therefore responsible for determining whether an Environmental Impact Statement or EIS is needed, according to the SEQRA regulations. The suit also states that the hotel proposal “constitutes an action under the SEQRA” because the project could “affect the environment by changing the use, appearance or condition of any natural resource or structure that requires one or more approvals from an agency or agencies” and that the Common Council and Planning Board are “obliged to comply with both the letter [recommendations] and spirit of the SEQRA review process” which include identifying the areas of environmental concerns and taking a “hard look” at them. The suit also claims that the Common Council has the “sole authority to grant Savarino Construction’s rezoning request” and “to approve the special development plan,” but it also claims that the Planning Board is “an involved agency” but that it is “clearly subordinate to that of the Common Council” therefore the decision made by both the Council and Planning Board to allow the Planning Board to be the ‘lead agency,’ is in “violation” of the State’s SEQRA and “renders all determinations” made by the Planning Board and Common Council on March 14, 21, and 28, 2006, “void and unauthorized.” It goes on to say that the Council “proceeded without or in excess of their jurisdiction, and/or made a determination in violation of lawful procedure, affected by an error of law, and/or in an arbitrary and capricious manner.” It also states that unless the requirements of the SEQRA are met, then the petitioners have the right to “seek a temporary restraining order” from the Court if circumstances require it.

The suit also states that a failure to grant a preliminary injunction, through the courts, will result in “irreparable injury” to the petitioners and that the Council and Planing Board have failed to comply with the requirements of the SEQRA and have violated several other state laws and city codes.

So far, Savarino Construction has not responded to any calls or e-mails. District councilman Joseph Golombek also has not responded. Georgiadias was unavailable for comment.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place at 9:30 a.m. on June 8, 2006 in the Supreme Court building at 50 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, on the 8th floor, part 31.

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Sri Lankan Army Chief critically injured in LTTE suicide bombing

Filed under: Asia,AutoArchived,Politics and conflicts,Sri Lanka — admin @ 5:00 am

Sri Lankan Army Chief critically injured in LTTE suicide bombing

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A female suicide bomber from the militant separatist group LTTE disguised herself as a pregnant woman and detonated a bomb inside the Sri Lankan Army HQ in Colombo yesterday evening. Eight soldiers were killed in the attack and Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka was severely wounded.

The Sri Lanka Air Force launched retaliatory strikes against rebel positions this morning at 00:30 GMT. This attack threatens to put an end to the uneasy ceasefire between the Tamil rebels and the Sri Lankan government that has been in place since 2002.

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Security alert shuts down West London

Filed under: AutoArchived,Europe,United Kingdom — admin @ 5:00 am

Security alert shuts down West London – Wikinews, the free news source

Security alert shuts down West London

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Several suspect packages were found in the Shepherds Bush area of West London this morning, which led to many roads in the area being closed, along with the Hammersmith and City tube line.

The area re-opened shortly afterwards, after Bomb Squad experts determined the packages were safe, and a woman walked into Hammersmith Police Station and admitted placing the packages as “works of art”.

Police are still advising motorists to avoid the area, due to heavy traffic.

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Germans and Arabs establish a search engine that competes with Google

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:00 am

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Seekport, a German and Saudi founded technological company, began to start on a web-search engine dedicated to the Arabic language called Sawafi. According to Arabic marketing officials, it is predicted to compete with the popular web-search engines, such as Google or Yahoo. Sawafi’s goal is to be as successful as the Chinese web-search engine, Budai, which in China, which has made a great improvement to its marketing businesses. Although internet access is low in the Middle East, Sawafi wishes to reach the other Arab communities in North America or Europe.

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Alabama postal workers and customers become ill, suspicious substance found

Filed under: Alabama,AutoArchived,North America,United States,Wackynews — admin @ 5:00 am

Alabama postal workers and customers become ill, suspicious substance found

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

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Six workers in the post office in Hueytown, Alabama developed breathing problems and 23 were sent to the hospital after a chemical used in the manufacture of fishing lures leaked from a package.

The post office, located five miles west of downtown Birmingham, Alabama, was evacuated, and Hueytown firefighters in hazardous materials attire inspected the chemical. The chemical was found to have leaked from an inadequately designed package, evaporated quickly leaving a garlicky scent, and discolored the flooring tile in the post office. Workers complained of symptoms ranging from breathing difficulties to vomiting to burning in the throat.

The chemical was later identified as “J.J.’s Magic,” a yellow dye for soft plastic fishing lures which contains garlic oil as a fish attractant. The manufacturer confirmed that a two-ounce bottle of the product was sent to a customer in suburban Birmingham and speculated that the container may have cracked in transit.

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