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November 7, 2006

Traders\’ one day strike in Indian capital

Filed under: Archived,Asia,India,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Traders’ one day strike in Indian capital

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Angry traders continued to protest against the Supreme Court’s order in favour of resuming the sealing drive in New Delhi. They damaged public property and blocked traffic during the protest.

Police halted over 1,500 traders from various part of the city who were vandalising public transport by blocking and pelting stones on the roads after the SC’s order to resume the drive.

According to CNN-IBN, the drive will affect about 5,40,000 shops and 27,00,000 traders across the city. Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), said that the resumption of the drive is a complete breakdown of the government and administration. So, they had to take extreme steps to oppose the drive.

The traders protested from all over the city including Kamla Nagar in North Delhi, Mayur Vihar, Vikas Marg, Seelampur in East Delhi, Green Park, South Extension, Lajpat Nagar in South Delhi, Rajouri Garden, Rohini in West Delhi and Karol Bagh in Central Delhi.

Most of the schools in New Delhi remained closed today, and the sealing drive was halted. The Group of Ministers, headed by Shivraj Patil are planning to meet with SC’s monitoring committee to work out the sealing schedule in the capital.

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Possible new stadium in Auckland for 2011 rugby world cup

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Possible new stadium in Auckland for 2011 rugby world cup

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

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Ministers are considering a new stadium for Auckland’s waterfront instead of an enlargement to the existing Eden Park.

Trevor Mallard, Minister for the Rugby World Cup, said: “Today a Cabinet committee has discussed the options and I hope to be able to announce a decision later this week or next.” He declined to comment any further.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the new stadium will cost around NZ$700 million compared to a $320 million upgrade of Eden Park. The Herald said that Mr Mallard, the Auckland City Council and Helen Clark, Prime Minister of NZ, all prefer a new stadium. “The decision is vital in order to deliver a world-class stadium which complements and enhances the city’s conference and major event-hosting potential, and which will also drive Auckland’s aspirations to be a world-class city,” Mr Mallard said.

Ms Clark said: “A site that is not surrounded by residential housing is an attractive proposition but the critical issue will be practical limitations.” She added: “Cabinet would not be hurried into making a decision.”

However Ports of Auckland (POA), owners of the waterfront land, said that there will not be a stadium before the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Geoff Vazey, Managing Director, said: “It simply can’t be constructed in time and the risks of pushing it through would be overwhelming. Before any land could be set aside for a stadium, the port would need an alternative site to conduct its business and it would be 2009 before building could even start. A decision made a couple of years ago would have been needed.”

Michael Cullen, Finance Minister, said that it would be possible to build the stadium, despite what critics are saying: “a number of sources have told us the stadium could be built by 2011.” No decisions have been made on the stadium proposal and he would not speculate on how the project could be financed.

The team analyzing the venues for the 2011 world cup said that it will need its report-back date extended by at least three weeks, possibly four. The delay is due to the need to assess technical and logistical matters.

Gordon Moller, Auckland architect whose company designed the Auckland Sky Tower, said that he doesn’t “believe a waterfront stadium is the way to go for the Rugby World Cup. An Eden Park upgrade makes more sense than a waterfront venue built from scratch and what is planned there is outstanding. New Zealand has a limited ability to fund infrastructure in large projects. Even Australia now has difficulty funding and filling stadiums it built for big events.”

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Paedophilia claims made against \”living god\”

Paedophilia claims made against “living god”

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Allegations of paedophilia made against Indian guru, Sathya Sai Baba are back in the limelight again, after the UK’s Sai Youth movement was recognised as an accredited partner of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.

The Baba’s followers deny the allegations, and the Sai Youth UK’s National Co-ordinator called them “totally unfounded”. Sai Baba attracts followers from many countries around the world who revere him as a “living god”.

Around 200 youth are due to fly to India on November 13th after receiving a “divine commandment” to carry out a month-long “humanitarian pilgrimage” that will coincide with the birthday celebrations of Sai Baba, who will be 81 on November 23rd.

Pressure has been mounting on the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme charity to break its association with the Baba’s organisation.

Background

Claims of sexual abuse by Sai Baba have been circulating for several decades, stating that such abuse takes place during private interviews at his base in Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh.

Large numbers of youth have travelled to India to visit the holy man and hear his teachings. Followers say that their experiences were “spiritually enriching”. Some former devotees who were interviewed in a BBC programme, The Secret Swami, claimed that the religious guru massaged their testicles with oil and coerced them into oral sex. During the last youth group pilgrimage in 2004, group interviews were granted to several young people although no abuse was reported.

The allegations are denied by the Baba’s followers and Sai Baba has never been charged with any offenses. The US State Department, however, issued a travel advisory in 2001 that warned of “inappropriate sexual behaviour by a prominent local religious leader”, which refers to the Baba, as officials confirm.

Duke of Edinburgh Awards

In July the UK Sai Organisation was awarded a certificate for their “invaluable contribution” to the Awards scheme at a garden party in Buckingham Palace. An official Sai Baba website hosted a news story about this event that was later removed after a personal intervention by Peter Westgarth, who stated that it contained misrepresentations of the events.

In the posting, Shitu Chudasama (National Co-ordinator for Sai Youth UK and a devotee) had spoken of giving a speech to “various dignitaries, diplomats, ministers [and] famous celebrities” at Buckingham Palace, and related that every listener was “hanging on to his every word”. Chudasama had also claimed to have had a private audience with HRH Prince Philip at St. James’s Palace sometime last year, where he attributed the inspiration and motivation of the Sai Youth to their leader.

Reactions

The humanitarian work carried out by the youth will consist chiefly of providing medical aid, and will earn them a Duke of Edinburgh award that is bestowed for projects that enhance personal development and welfare work.

In a response to DNA, an unnamed public relations officer representing Sathya Sai Baba confirmed that the youth would be arriving at the ashram in a fortnight. Speaking about the sex abuse allegations, he said: “We do not care what the [US State Dept.] advisory says. People and organisations can write whatever they want to believe. We have no more to say on this issue.”

Shitu Chudasama also stated that the pilgrimage was merely a humanitarian mission for the benefit of the improverished people in the local area, and that the sexual abuse allegations levelled against the Baba were “totally unfounded”. He continued: “We hope to have an interview with Sai Baba but it’s not guaranteed. If he wants to see us, he’ll call us.”

Tom Sackville, a former Home Office minister and chairman of FAIR told the Guardian: “”It is appallingly naive for the award scheme to involve young people and the royal family with an organisation whose leader is accused of paedophilia. Parents who plan to send their children on this month’s pilgrimage … should be aware of the danger their children are being exposed to.”

However, Peter Westgarth, chief executive of the Awards charity, said: “This is not the only religion accused of paedophilia. Young people who are participating on these trips are doing so because they choose to.” He continued: “The awards accredit the good work they do for poor people in India. We make no judgment about their religion. We would no sooner intervene here than we would the Church Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade.”

Conservative MP Hon. Michael Gove stated that he would compose a letter to the charity urging them to consider stricter controls and monitoring of organisations that they associate and work with. “As a society we need a more determined effort to identify and expose those religious cults and extremists that pose a direct threat to people, so that they do not enjoy patronage that should be directed elsewhere,” he said.

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New Zealand study finds circumcision cuts STD infection rate

Filed under: Archived,Disease,Health,Infectious disease,New Zealand — admin @ 5:00 am

New Zealand study finds circumcision cuts STD infection rate

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

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A new study released by Christchurch researcher from the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, David Fergusson, shows that “substantional benefits” come from a circumcision, a baby boy having his foreskin removed.

Mr Fergusson said that the rate of sexually transmitted diseases is halved due to circumcision, even after accounting for the amount of sex partners, unprotected sex and their family background. “Circumcision also reduces the risk of transmitting HIV and the incidence of urinary tract infections.”

The report, which was published in the international scientific journal Pediatrics, took 25-years to complete as it followed 510 males from birth until they were 25-years-old.

“The public health issues raised by these findings clearly involve weighing the longer-term benefits of routine neonatal circumcision in terms of reducing risks of infection within the population, against the perceived costs of the procedure,” Mr Fergusson said.

However the American Academy of Pediatrics has described the current study as “complex and conflicting.” The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the practice, which is why in the US the circumcision rate has been falling since 1999.

In New Zealand, only between ten and twenty percent of all males are circumcised, which is one of the lowest rates in the world. Circumcision is the normal practice in Samoa and Tonga and also among Jewish and Muslim men.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians said in 2004, “There is no medical reason for routine circumcision of newborn boys.”

The current study has made some health specialists reconsider their stance on the issue. “People feel passionate on both sides, but I’m going to recommend that we take another careful look at this,” said Jay Berkelhamer, US Academy of Pediatrics president and professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida.

Edgar Schoen, who has reconsidered his stance on the issue, he said: “The academy’s opposition is irresponsible. The benefits of circumcision far outweigh risks, and doctors should be telling parents that.”

“Even if it does bring down sexually transmitted disease, cutting normal tissue of an unconsenting minor is a human rights violation,” said Marilyn Milos, from anti-circumcision group, National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC).

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Midterm election polls open in United States

Midterm election polls open in United States

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

An updated version of this story including results and projected results is available as 2006 U.S. Congressional Elections

With the polls now open throughout most of the United States (US), voters are reporting long lines as US citizens line up to vote in the 2006 United States general elections, frequently referred to informally in the US as the “2006 midterm election”. Predictions of an unusually high level of voter turnout seem to be coming to fruition as voters throughout the country report longer than expected lines. One voter from Kansas City, Missouri reported a 90-minute wait, while voters in southwest Michigan reported that they had to park several blocks from the polls because of the crowds. Typically, fewer than 40% of registered voters go to the polls during non-presidential election years. The highest midterm voter turnout on record occurred in 1970, when 47% of registered voters went to the polls.

Wikipedia Learn more about election irregularities in the 2006 United States general elections on Wikipedia.

Electronic voting gets mixed reviews

A third of the states are using electronic voting systems for the first time. Although it was predicted that the electronic systems would be more efficient, reports are mixed about their effectiveness. Air America Radio reports that electronic voting machines in Delaware County, Indiana and Cleveland, Ohio have malfunctioned, frustrating voters and election workers. A report published on the USA Today website said election workers in some parts of Florida had resorted to using paper ballots when their electronic voting machines failed to work. National Public Radio reported that some electronic voting machines in Texas had to be turned off when they improperly gave votes to candidates not selected by voters. Problems were also reported in Maine, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

A voting problem of a different type was reported in Kentucky, where a Louisville poll worker is alleged to have physically assaulted a voter. Jefferson County clerk spokesperson Paula McCraney said that the voter wanted to press charges after being allegedly choked and pushed by the election worker. No information was available on what led to the incident.

Congressional control at stake

All seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the seats in the Senate are up for election. Polls on the eve of the election indicated that the Democrats were likely to take control of the House, with several estimates giving the party a gain of about 30 seats. In the Senate, where the Democrats need six seats to gain a majority, the outcome is less certain. At least five races are considered too close to call.

As of Wed Nov  8 01:24 EST 2006U.S. SenateParty           2006     2004    ChangeRepublicans     49       55      -3Democrats       46       44      +3Other           2        1       +1U.S. HouseParty           2006     2004    ChangeRepublicans     184      232     -24Democrats       223      202     +24Other           0        1       -1

“Six year itch”

Many political pundits expect Democratic gains during this election. Control of Congress has frequently changed hands during midterm elections held during a president’s second term. This trend coincides with recent polls that show Americans becoming further disillusioned with Republican control in the wake of growing discontentment about the Iraq War and a wave of scandals ranging from the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal to revelations about sexual improprieties involving Republican Congressman Mark Foley and White House confidant Ted Haggard. Many conservative evangelical Christians, the GOP’s most reliable voting block, have become disappointed by the scandals and may not vote in great numbers. Pat Buchanan, whose campaigns have often appealed to that voting block, told ABC News, “There’s the spending orgy, the arrogance of power . . . . The war in Iraq, failure to protect our border, hurting the working class in Ohio, for example, the list goes on and on. We’re more dissatisfied with the Republican Party than we’ve ever been.”

Campaigns turn nasty

Political advertisements turned nasty in the closing days of the campaign, with candidates from both parties turning up the heat on their opponents. MSNBC reported that the FBI was investigating calls made to voters in Virginia in an apparent attempt to intimidate and confuse voters. This follows a similar investigation in California, where staff in Republican Congressional candidate Tan D. Nguyen’s campaign office sent letters to Latino voters telling them that “You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time.” (Naturalized citizens are allowed to vote in elections.)

Candidates in both New York and Michigan reported that automated telephone calls had been made to voters in the dead of night, purporting to be from their campaigns. The candidates said their campaigns had nothing to do with the calls, and had been made fraudulently in an attempt to make voters angry at them.

It was unclear whether these calls were related to other calls, financed by the National Republican Congressional Committee, that had been made to voters in several states in the previous week. Those calls had generated complaints by voters from both parties who said they were repeated several times in the same day. In at least one state, the calls were pulled when the attorney general notified the NRCC that the calls violated state law.

A different kind of “robocall” was reported in Iowa, where three Democratic candidates for the state House reported that they had been the target of anonymous attack ad calls. The calls inaccurately claimed that the candidates support free health care and college tuition for illegal aliens.

In Nevada, Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Jim Gibbons referred to his opponent, Dina Titus, as “Dina Taxes”.

The negative campaigning even worked its way into local, non-partisan races. In Genesee County, Michigan registered voters received automated telephone calls accusing a candidate for probate judge of arson and fraud.

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Faith Hill says reaction to Carrie Underwood\’s CMA win was a joke

Faith Hill says reaction to Carrie Underwood’s CMA win was a joke

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Hill reacting, cropped from the full screen.

Faith Hill singing in a tribute concert for America’s armed forces for ABC’s Good Morning America

When the host was calling up the Country Music Award Female Vocalist Of The Year award, Faith Hill stood up and was in shock after hearing Carrie Underwood’s name. “What?!,” said Faith Hill directly into the camera as her smile turned into a look of shock.

“The idea that I would act disrespectful towards a fellow musician is unimaginable to me,” Hill said in a statement. “For this to become a focus of attention given the talent gathered is utterly ridiculous. Carrie is a talented and deserving female vocalist of the year.”

Underwood, 2005 former American Idol winner, did not take it seriously, according to her publicist, Jessie Schmidt.

“She was just messing around,” said spokesman Paul Freundlich. “She didn’t realize that the camera was rolling the whole time. … She just thought they were doing a shot when they read the nominees off.”

Gary Borman, Hill’s manager, said that it was just “a joke”.

Faith Hill had won the Female Vocalist Of The Year award in 2000.

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Britney Spears to divorce husband Kevin Federline

Britney Spears to divorce husband Kevin Federline

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Britney Spears performing at the National Mall during the Operation Tribute to Freedom.

In Los Angeles, California singer and actress Britney Spears, 24, has filled papers in Los Angeles County Superior Court to divorce her husband Kevin Federline, 28. A spokeswoman for the court, Kathy Roberts stated that the papers cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the divorce and have, according to the courts, been legally separated as of Monday, November 6, the same day that Spears appeared on Late Night with David Letterman. The fact that the papers were filed on the same day as the U.S. general elections prompted ABC News to speculate that the star may have been hoping to receive less attention amid national election coverage.

The two were married on October 6, 2004, according to the petition, a date that E! Online noted was in conflict with a photo spread in People, which gave their wedding date as September 18, 2004. The couple currently have two sons, the first named Sean Preston, 1, and a recent baby boy named Jayden James Federline who was born on September 12, 2006. Spears is attempting to gain both full legal and physical custody of both of the children with Federline having visitation rights.

It is also reported that Spears did not accept spousal support and waived her right to receive any, also asking that the legal fees incurred during the divorce be separated.

Neither Spears nor Federline has yet released a statement.

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No injuries reported after NASA Orbiter hangars evacuated after hydrazine leak

No injuries reported after NASA Orbiter hangars evacuated after hydrazine leak

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Two hangars at the Kennedy Space Center in which space shuttles are processed were evacuated when a leak of hydrazine was detected coming from Atlantis’s Orbital Maneuvering System. The leak was first discovered in Bay No 1, where Atlantis is being post-flight serviced. Nearly 150 people were evacuated from Bay No. 1 hangar and Bay No 2. Both the space shuttle Atlantis and Endeavour were inside the hangar when the leak was detected.

Hydrazine is a toxic fuel which combines with nitrogen tetroxide to provide power for the shuttle’s two maneuvering engines while it is in space.

A concentration of 60 parts per million was detected near Atlantis’s engines, which is not a dangerous level.

“That’s not what we consider a dangerous level. But with any reading above zero, we would take precautionary measures and evacuate the facility,” said Jessica Rye, a spokeswoman for Kennedy Space Center.

NASA said that no workers were exposed to fumes or injured.

“We wanted to make sure to take the employees who were around that area, make sure they were OK and there was no exposure to the hydrazine. Then what they’ll do is make sure the bay is ready for people to go back, and I would anticipate if people aren’t already back they will be shortly,” added Rye.

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Morning polling causes late students

Morning polling causes late students – Wikinews, the free news source

Morning polling causes late students

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Polling places opened at 13:00 UTC (8:00 AM EST) this morning in Palm Beach County, Florida for the United States midterm elections. Early voters wreaked havoc on the city streets, causing backups near polling locations and interrupting traffic flows to area elementary and senior high schools.

Due to the increase in traffic, some area school administrations asked teachers to accept late students without reprimand.

Florida will elect a Federal senator, all of its House membership, a Governor, various other officers and vote on various questions.

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Delta Blues wins 2006 Melbourne Cup

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

Delta Blues wins 2006 Melbourne Cup – Wikinews, the free news source

Delta Blues wins 2006 Melbourne Cup

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

File photo of Delta Blues in the mounting yard prior to another race

The Japanese owned Delta Blues ridden by Iwata Yasunari has won the AU$5.1 million 2006 Melbourne Cup. Trainer Katsuhiko Sumii also achieved the Quinella winning bet with stablemate Pop Rock, ridden by Damien Oliver, placing second in the race. Maybe Better came in at third, with Zipping posting a fourth place finish. Pre-race favourite Yeates missed the start, finishing seventh.

After the race, jockey Iwata joyfully shouted “Very happy, very happy. My biggest winner ever.”

Zabeat was the last finisher in a 23-horse field that was reduced in number after the early morning scratching from the race of Efficient with leg soreness.

Australians bet over $50 million dollars on the race, with Delta Blues paying $17.50 for the win, which made it the first horse from Japan to have won the race in the 145 year history of the Melbourne Cup.

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