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October 9, 2006

Tropical Storm Norman forms southwest of Baja California

Tropical Storm Norman forms southwest of Baja California

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Monday, October 9, 2006

Hurricanes – 2006

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Recent hurricanes in 2006
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The National Hurricane Center Tropical Prediction Center has upgraded Tropical Depression 15-E to Tropical Storm status. The storm, now officially Tropical Storm Norman, is the 15th named storm of the 2006 Pacific hurricane season. The storm currently has maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour. Norman is located well to the southwest of Baja California, and is currently tracking north at 7 miles per hour.

The storm is expected to slowly curve to the northeast as it slowly strengthening, then slowly weaken when it moves over colder waters. There is a chance that it could bring winds and rain to Baja California before it dissipates.

All individuals who may be impacted by this storm are urged to track its progress as it develops over the next few days.

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Russia estimates larger yield for N. Korea nuclear test

Russia estimates larger yield for N. Korea nuclear test

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Monday, October 9, 2006

North Korea’s nuclear program
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Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, said Monday in televised comments that North Korea’s nuclear test has been confirmed and yielded as much as 15 kilotons of TNT; which was the size of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. That would be far greater than the force estimated by South Korea’s geological institute of just 550 tons of TNT. Other international estimates have ranged from the sub-kiloton range — less than equivalent to a thousand tons of TNT — to upwards of 12 kilotons.

Other Asian neighbors said they registered a seismic event, but Russia is the only country which said its monitoring services had detected a nuclear explosion.

“We know the exact site of the test. The ecological situation is normal, including on Russian territory in Primorye.” Ivanov said, referring to the Russian province that borders North Korea.

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North Korea claims it has conducted a nuclear test

North Korea claims it has conducted a nuclear test

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Monday, October 9, 2006

North Korea’s nuclear program
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According to South Korea-based Yonhap News service, and the Associated Press, North Korea has announced that it has successfully conducted its first nuclear test.

Location of a 4.2 earthquake, allegedly caused by the nuclear test.

North Korea first announced it possessed nuclear weapons in 2005, though because it had not conducted a nuclear test its nuclear capability remained ambiguous. The United States, Japan, China, and South Korea have all urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. North Korea released a statement on October 3 saying that it would soon conduct a nuclear test, and also emphasized that it would neither use nuclear weapons first nor aid other countries in nuclear proliferation. The state claimed that it would only use the weapons as a deterrent against the United States and its allies. In 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said that they “would not tolerate” a nuclear North Korea. China and Japan have also expressed concern.

U.S. officials have reported that the government of the People’s Republic of China was given a 20-minute advance warning that the test was about to occur. The PRC sent an emergency alert to Washington through the United States embassy in Beijing and President George W. Bush was told shortly after 10 p.m. that a test was imminent by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

Rumors of an impending nuclear test have circulated since North Korea announced its weapons capability. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that North Korea may have up to 10 or 12 nuclear devices already built.

According to North Korea’s Central News Agency, the country conducted an underground nuclear test successfully without any radioactive leakage. Underground tests, if they fully contain the nuclear blast, can result in a minimum of nuclear fallout contamination. If confirmed, the nuclear test by North Korea would be the first nuclear test since the dual Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests of 1998.

The U.S. Geological Service has recorded a magnitude 4.2 event in eastern North Korea at 01:35:27 (UTC), or 10:35:27 North Korean local time.

U.S. President George W Bush speaking at the White House ahead of an emergency closed session of the UN Security Council called the action “unacceptable … North Korea has defied the will of the international community and the international community will respond.” He also described it as “a threat to international peace and security. The United States condemns this provocative act.”

Bush contacted the leaders of Russia, China, Japan and South Korea, the other nations that have been engaged in negotiations with North Korea. All have already denounced the action. China using the harshest language yet against its old war time ally, calling the test “brazen”. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisted on “decisive action.”

Some experts are speculating that the test may push the United Nations to back sanctions against the North Koreans, Japan’s U.N Ambassador Kenzo Oshima has told reporters in New York that the United States is drafting the resolutions, which could range from trade restrictions to monetary dealings and even a sea based blockade. The sitting members have strongly condemned the nuclear test.

In the first significant reaction to the announcement the South Korean government has decided to suspend a scheduled shipment of its emergency relief aid to its northern neighbor. An official from the Unification Ministry said “A ship was scheduled to depart … carrying 4,000 tons of concrete on Tuesday, but we decided to delay the shipment under the current circumstances.”

The yield of the device has not been conclusively confirmed. Fox News has reported the yield at below 4 kilotons, citing a unspecified senior Bush administration official; however, Russian military sources estimate the yield as between 5-15 kilotons. The Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources stated its estimate of the yield as 550 tons, but later scaled it up to 800 tons.

A senior seismologist at the Australian Seismology Research Centre said that a 4.2 magnitude quake would roughly correspond with a one kiloton explosion, but would not say it was conclusive, since it depends on the type of rock that the test was set off in.

It has been reported that the Korea Exchange, South Korea’s main stock exchange, suspended trading for five minutes upon hearing news of the test.

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New Zealand seventh in Czech Republic A1GP feature race

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New Zealand seventh in Czech Republic A1GP feature race

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Monday, October 9, 2006

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The New Zealand A1GP team, with racer Jonny Reid, placed seventh in A1GP feature race and picked up four championship points in the second round at Brno track, Czech Republic.

New Zealand managed to secure themselves first place in the qualifying race by being fastest in all four qualifying segments with a time of 3:30.053, Germany second with 3:30.524. This put New Zealand in the pole position to start the sprint race.

When racing for the 20 minute sprint race started Germany and New Zealand ‘locked horns’ before the very first corner. It ended with both cars crashing out of the race.

This crash made both New Zealand and Germany start from the end of the track for the feature race.

New Zealand managed to crawl their way back to get seventh place, but dropped to fourteenth place from twelfth, out of 23 competing nations, on the leader board with only five points.

David Sears, Engineering Team Director for both Germany and New Zealand, said: “Reid and his German counterpart Nico Hülkenberg were warned about keeping apart…but still ended up making life difficult for themselves.”

Sears added: “To finish first you must first finish and the track is incredibly wide here at Brno, so why New Zealand and Germany should be rubbing wheels on the very first corner is anyone’s guess. To recover and finish strongly was encouraging for Jonny and the car certainly has the raw speed and looks to be one of the quickest going around. That’s the pleasing part amid the disappointment and we now need to refocus and prepare for the next month’s round in China.”

“We were so much quicker than the other teams in qualifying that it would be criminal to be banging wheels when a great result is there for the taking.”

The next A1GP race takes place on November 12 in Beijing.

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Municipal elections in Belgium: Flemish Interest halted in Antwerp but advancing elsewhere

Municipal elections in Belgium: Flemish Interest halted in Antwerp but advancing elsewhere

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Monday, October 9, 2006

Antwerp city hall

In the 2006 municipal elections in Belgium, the political party Vlaams Belang (“Flemish Cause”) advanced in almost all municipalities, just like the last elections. But its rise was brought to a halt in the cities Mechelen and also in its stronghold Antwerp.

Vlaams Belang is considered by observers and opponents as a far right party, supporting Flemish independence from Belgium and restricted immigration.

Just one week before the elections, Antwerp was the scene of the 0110 concerts, organised against racism, extremism and gratuitous violence. The event was spurred by a series of acts of “pointless violence” during the last year (the murder of Joe Van Holsbeeck, the case Hans Van Themsche and the events surrounding Guido Demoor. However, Vlaams Belang asked many musicians to boycott the event, because it “only targets Vlaams Belang”. The party considered the concerts as a direct attack by the political establishment. Since 1989, the other parties have instituted a cordon sanitaire against Vlaams Belang, forcing them into the opposition, notwithstanding their increasing electorial success.

Cartoon from a Vlaams Belang electoral brochure, showing a white man waiting in line to vote for Vlaams Belang (VB) in a line full of immigrants, thinking “More than ever, Vlaams Belang“. This was the first ballot since immigrants were given voting rights in municipal elections in 2004.

In 2004, three organisations that were at the heart of the Vlaams Blok party were condemned for incitement to hate and discrimination, and the party reformed consequently and changed their name to Vlaams Belang, although the party top remained unchanged.

During the last poll in 2000, Vlaams Belang became the largest political fraction in Antwerp, with 33% of votes. However, the other parties, calling themselves the “democratic parties”, adhering to the cordon sanitaire, joined together to prevent Vlaams Belang from entering into power.

On Sunday, the political cartel SP.A-Spirit obtained 35,5% of votes in Antwerp, which was 15,5% more than in the 2000 elections, while the cartel Vlaams Belang – VLOTT got 33,5% of votes. Before the elections, Vlaams Belang had set the target for Antwerp at 35% of the votes.

The electorial success of SP.A-Spirit was accompanied by a loss of votes for the coalition partners in Antwerp. Filip Dewinter, the leader of Vlaams Belang, called SP.A leader and mayor of Antwerp Patrick Janssens a cannibal, because his party seemed to have consumed the other members of the majority. Patrick Janssens received 71 289 personal votes (71% of the party’s total), while Dewinter, last year’s champion of personal votes in Antwerp, got 62 642 votes on his name.

In many countryside towns, Vlaams Belang participated in the elections for the first time, and immediately scored around 10%. In Schoten, Lier (both not far from Antwerp) and other places, Vlaams Belang became the largest fraction, and the question remains if the cordon sanitaire will be upheld in these communes.

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Controversy follows after Canadian PM skips vote for hockey game

Controversy follows after Canadian PM skips vote for hockey game

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Monday, October 9, 2006

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Controversy is being expressed over Stephen Harper’s decision to skip the House of Commons vote for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change on Wednesday for a hockey game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Liberal MPs say that this reveals Mr. Harper’s true attitude toward the environment. “It shows the importance he gives to Kyoto and climate change,” said Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez. “What kind of example does that send to Canadians?”

Harper was with his ten-year-old son Ben cheering on for the Toronto Maple Leafs and sat in seats in the platinum level of the Air Canada Centre, next to Larry Tanenbaum, head of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Leafs. Also seated with Mr. Tanenbaum was Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and his wife, Terri.

“You know I’m dead meat if I make those kind of predictions in hockey,” said Harper, who must juggle support from voters in six Canadian NHL cities. “I think Ben will be cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Harper told The Canadian Press. “That’s his team.”

Harper and his son met with the members of the Toronto team after the game was finished.

Opposition MPs say that “the decision to put pucks over Parliament shows that environmental issues rate as a low priority for Mr. Harper, who had no other reason to be in Toronto the day he attended the NHL season opener between the Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators.”

Members of Parliament and the prime minister are not required to attend votes in the House of Commons and routinely miss them when dealing with other business. If Mr. Harper was there, his vote would not have changed the outcome.

The PM will be writing a whole book on the history of the game. But demands of his day job have slowed down the project.

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France to ban smoking in public places

France to ban smoking in public places – Wikinews, the free news source

France to ban smoking in public places

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Monday, October 9, 2006

No smoking

France’s flag

France is to ban smoking in all public places in February 2007, the French prime minister, Dominique de Villepin has announced. However cafés, nightclubs and restaurants will not be required to comply until January 2008.

An offence would result in a fine of 75 euros for the person(s) responsible and 150 euros for the premises where the offence occurred.

When announcing the new law in a television interview, he stated his reason as being the “public health”:

“We started on the basis of a simple observation – two figures: 60,000 deaths a year in our country linked directly to tobacco consumption and 5,000 deaths linked to passive smoking. It is an unacceptable reality in our country in terms of public health”

Public places will include stations, museums, government offices and shops, but not streets or private places such as houses or hotel rooms. He also stated that the country would pay for one-third of the costs of anti-smoking treatments:

“That would represent the first month of treatment,” he said. “There are also other solutions, for example the creation of closed, ventilated spaces, where (food and drink) service is not authorised in order to protect employees,” he added.

File:Dominique villepin.jpg

Dominique de Villepin, Prime Minister of France
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

A BBC survey made in France, a country notorious for its use of tobacco suggests that 70% of the people support the ban.

The European Union‘s most enthusiastic smokers are found in Greece, Cyprus, and Portugal, according to findings published in May this year. When the law activates, France will join Ireland and Italy, which have passed similar measures. Italy, for example, has very strict measures, such as a minimum fine of 150 euros for smoking in public places with additional charges leveled if the offender was near a pregnant woman or a child under 13. Repeat offenders could be fined more than 275 euros, and imprisoned if they continued. In Switzerland, the canton of Ticino is the only canton in the nation to have banned smoking in restaurants. In the The Netherlands, smoking is banned in NS railway stations.

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Jamie Lee Curtis quits acting

Jamie Lee Curtis quits acting – Wikinews, the free news source

Jamie Lee Curtis quits acting

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Monday, October 9, 2006

Jamie Lee Curtis, 47, has stated that she will end her acting career, but said that she will continue writing.

“I’m not an actor anymore,” she told Access Hollywood host Nancy O’Dell. “I really don’t imagine I’ll do that again.” She later said in the conversation, “I’m just focused on my family and just can’t imagine anything that’s going to pull me away from them right now.”

Curtis appeared on the Access Hollywood show to promote her newest children’s book, Is There a Human Race?. The interview she participated in with O’Dell will appear on the show’s weekend episode.

The picture book writer had this to say about ending her acting career, “No. I don’t want to be somebody else anymore.”

The last film Curtis starred in was the 2005 film The Kid & I.

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Craig Lowndes and Jamie Wincup become \”Kings of the Mountain\”

Filed under: Archived,Australia,Auto racing,Oceania,Sports — admin @ 5:00 am

Craig Lowndes and Jamie Wincup become “Kings of the Mountain”

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Monday, October 9, 2006

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On Sunday the 888 Race Engineering team of Craig Lowndes and Jamie Wincup took out this year Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and took the first ever “Kings of the Mountain” trophy – in honour of Peter Brock – home. The race was plagued with 10 safety car appearances with a little over a third of the field be wiped out, with Mark Skaife, the race favourite, being knocked out in the first lap. It’s the first year this Peter Brock Trophy is given to the winners.

The top ten result were as follows:

  1. Craig Lowndes/Jamie Whincup : Team Betta Electrical : Ford Falcon
  2. Rick Kelly/Todd Kelly : Toll HSV Dealer Team : Holden Commodore
  3. James Courtney/Glenn Seton : JELD-WEN Motorsport : Ford Falcon
  4. Russell Ingall/Luke Youlden : Caltex Racing : Ford Falcon
  5. Steven Richards/Paul Dumbrell : Jack Daniel’s Racing : Holden Commodore
  6. Paul Morris/Steve Ellery : Siromet Racing : Holden Commodore
  7. Steve Owen/Tony Longhurst : Autobarn Racing : Holden Commodore
  8. Nathan Pretty/Paul Weel : Super Cheap Auto Racing : Holden Commodore
  9. Alex Davison/Grant Denyer : APVC Racing : Ford Falcon
  10. Jason Bargwanna/Craig Baird :WPS Racing : Ford Falcon

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