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November 29, 2006

Two fallen Canadian soldiers return home from Afghanistan

Two fallen Canadian soldiers return home from Afghanistan

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The bodies of two Canadian soldiers killed by a suicide bomber in Kandahar, Afghanistan were brought back to Canada. Both were from CFB Petawawa located in Petawawa, Ontario.

Their vehicle has intercepted on a road by a suicide bomber. A helicopter came helping all injured and possibly dead soldiers into it where they received medical attention somewhere safe. This time, their vehicle was blown up by a man’s car when he drived into them and detonated his car. Two Canadians were killed, the rest were injured.

Canadian, U.S., Dutch, and British soldiers stood at Kandhar Airfield Thursday to farewell Cpl. Albert Storm and Officer Robert Girouard. A piper played Amazing Grace as the Canadian flag-covered coffins were carried onto the C-130 Hercules aircraft for their flight home.

“It’s very hard for me to do it but I know my colleague, my friend and soldier, is going home to a restful place,” Cpl. Victor Thibault, 38, of Digby, Nova Scotia said to the Canadian Press. “He’s done what he had to do and I believe that’s good… He was a good friend. I will miss him,” he said.

Forty-four Canadian soldiers as well as one diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002. About 2,500 Canadian troops are serving in Afghanistan.

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Polonium 210 traces found on three British Airways aircraft

Polonium 210 traces found on three British Airways aircraft

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

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Traces of the radioactive substance, Polonium-210 have been found on two British Airways planes. The airline was alerted late Tuesday evening by the UK government that three of its planes were of interest in the investigation into the death of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko from radiation poisoning.

Two planes are located at the Heathrow Airport in the UK, and one at the Russian Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow.

The two Heathrow planes were forensically examined Wednesday and the presence of traces of a radioactive substance were confirmed. A British team consisting of what are thought to be police experts is leaving for Russia to test the third plane, according to the BBC.

The public health risk that passengers on the planes under investigation have been poisoned is very low. Up to 33,000 passengers are being urged to contact BA, NHS or their doctor if they have travelled on the 221 European flights which travelled all over Europe, including Russia as far back as “the end of October”. Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA, said: “I am advised that the health risk is actually very low.” 3,000 staff will also be checked out.

The Home Secretary John Reid is expected to make a statement to Parliament concerning the ongoing investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko on Thursday.

All three planes are Boeing 767s used for short haul flight which were taken out of service when the government contacted BA on Tuesday night.

Traces of Polonium-210 have been found at other places that Mr Litvinenko visited in London, Britain.

Pat Troop, chief executive of Health Protection Agency, said: “What we have heard is that it’s either traces or very low levels and what we have learnt so far in our investigation… is that where we have got these areas of low level radiation it doesn’t seem to pose a significant health threat.”

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New Zealand company planning for monorail in Wellington

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New Zealand company planning for monorail in Wellington

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

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SkyCabs International, a New Zealand company based in Auckland, New Zealand, has announced that it is planning to build a monorail in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington for about NZ$300 million.

SkyCabs International’s plans are to build a monorail service that starts in Johnsonville which then travels into the central business district (cbd) and then finally goes to Wellington International Airport.

The chief executive of SkyCabs, Hugh Chapman, said that it could be “…economically feasible.” And that the monorail would be “a real opportunity.” The monorail would also be environmentally friendly, according to Mr Chapman.

“SkyCabs’ cabs could run in opposite directions on both sides of the beam – instead of on the top as standard monorails do – at speeds of up to 80kmh and carrying 4800 people an hour in each direction. A monorail around Evans Bay and Oriental Bay would blow tourists’ minds,” said Mr Chapman.

SkyCabs is currently trying to raise $31.2 million so it can built a 600 metre track in Auckland to show investors and the public what the monorail will look like and how it will work as their technology is so far unproven and untested. The possible site is Rainbows End, a theme park in Auckland.

“Potentially, if we can prove it works, the market is about $25.4 billion a year,” Mr Chapman said.

Andrew Cutler, spokesman for the greater Wellington regional council, said: “SkyCabs had briefed some council staff on its ideas. However, given the council and Government recently committed to a $50 million upgrade of the Johnsonville rail line, SkyCabs would certainly not be constructing a Johnsonville-to-city monorail.”

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Hell Pizza condom advertisements: complaints upheld

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Hell Pizza condom advertisements: complaints upheld

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

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A record number of complaints, over 600, against the New Zealand restaurant chain Hell Pizza for its advertising campaign using condoms delivered via letterbox have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Family First “welcomes heavenly decision from ASA on Hells Pizza.”

Hell Pizza delivered sealed foil condoms in a cardboard box to households nationwide. On the outside of the box were the words: “Our pizza for meat lovers!” and the restaurant logo. The inside of the box included the condom and explicit instructions on how to use it. Hell Pizza delivered 70,000 condoms to households. An additional 100,000 were distributed to health and community groups who the chain said were “very supportive.”

Bob McCoskrie, director of Family First, said: “This is a victory for the protection of families from grubby advertising by companies like Hell’s Pizza, and is also a message to other companies who cross the line of what is decent and acceptable to our community. This is a pizza delivery company taking the moral high ground on sex education and telling parents how to give sex education to their kids, implying that all parents have failed at this, and kids as young as five should be exposed to this type of material.”

S. Nicholas filed a formal complaint and said in the complaint:” Any child can open the box take out these condoms and play with them. These are contraceptive devices, not playthings. The package also gave full instructions ‘how to use the condom’ in case some young person wanted to ‘experiment’! It shows lack of taste and is irresponsible.”

Other complainants said that it is inappropriate to promote food with a condom, the text “meat lovers” was offensive, that it undermined family values, and removed the right for families to teach sex education to their children. Condom use instructions that came with the advertising campaign were unnecessary and unacceptable and that there are health and safety issues if the condom broke during delivery.

The ASA said that three code of ethic rules were broken. They were basic principle 4, advertisements should follow a sense of social responsibility to both the consumers and society; rule 4, advertisements should not contain anything generally offensive and rule 5, advertisements should not contain anything that would cause serious widespread offence.

The agency Cinderella, acting on behalf of Hell Pizza, said that they “most certainly did approach this campaign with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society.”

Cinderella said: “From the very beginning, the company’s marketing activities were unconventional and memorable… HELL has built a successful brand by utilizing a limited marketing budget in ways that sought to grab attention and secure significant additional media coverage that would never have been able to be sustained using conventional, paid-for, advertising techniques.”

“LUST and sex are, in our experience, often found not far apart. One generally follows the other. And enjoying great food either before or after is also not such a stretch.”

Replying to the instructions that have to be printed, Cinderella said: “The terms are not really sexually arousing and the suggestion made by one hysterical complainant that they could then go and act out the instructions on the next door child is just not plausible and probably not even physically possible. It borders on insane to believe that this is a credible risk. …there has not been an explosion of sexual assault of children after being exposed to government health warnings.”

The ASA then considered all information given to them by both complainants and the advertiser.

The ASA agreed that the advertisements were in breach of basic principle 4 because: “Unsolicited, unaddressed delivery of a condom to letterboxes to promote a food brand did not meet [the basic principle 4] standard.” The standard “required all advertising to be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society.”

The ASA then reviewed whether or not the advertisement programme had breached rule 4 and rule 5. “The method of distribution was a key factor in considering whether or not the promotion had breached the Rules, taking into account the random context, medium, audience and product. The majority of the Board noted that it was difficult to target specific groups or ages using unaddressed letterbox distribution. In addition, it was concerned that such a method of distribution allowed any member of a household access to the advertising.” The majority of the ASA board did not find the instructions offensive but did agree that it would cause widespread offense. The advertisement programme is in breach of rule 4 and rule 5.

Some of the ASA board said: “…While the promotion had caused offence to some, this was offset by the possibility that the promotion had reached an audience that may not access the safe sex message via other media.”

The ASA decided to uphold the complaints, “complaints were unanimously upheld.”

“Our message to Hell’s Pizza is simple – stay out of the bedroom and get back into the kitchen,” Mr McCoskrie said.

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  • “Pizza ‘lust’ campaign attracts numerous complaints” — Wikinews, November 3, 2006

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Hare Krishna village in Kazakhstan – fears of further demolition

Hare Krishna village in Kazakhstan – fears of further demolition

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A number of properties in a Hare Krishna village in Kazakhstan were demolished on November 21, by the local authorities, causing international outrage by religious freedom groups and Hindu associations alike. Since the attack fears are now rising within the community of further demolition to the remaining properties, including the main temple structure.

“The community is in shock, but they are determined to defend their homes and place of worship,” community member Govinda Swami told Forum 18 News Service. He says destruction of the temple would be “devastating”.

The authorities in Kazaksthan claim that the Hare Krishna devotees had no official right to their homes. However human rights activists Ninel Fokina and Andrei Grishin, state in reply that while 13 out of the 66 Hare Krishna homes were destroyed on court orders, “the adjacent houses of other people who do not belong to the Society for Krishna Consciousness were left untouched even though their title deeds have the same status”.

The Hare village itself, known as ‘Sri Vrindavan Dham commune’ (named after Vrindavan forest in India is based in the Keskelen district, in the town of Seleksia, close to Almaty. It was the only village of it’s type run by Hare Krishna devotees in the country.

According to human rights activist Yevgeni Zhovtis: “Unfortunately Kazakh law does not prohibit evictions during the winter period and also does not oblige the court bailiffs to give those being evicted a few days notice,” “All the same, there were crude violations of the law. The court bailiffs had the right to evict the residents of the houses but not to demolish the buildings themselves. It was also a very crude violation to throw the belongings of the Krishna devotees into the mud. The court bailiffs were obliged to put the devotees’ belongings into store.”

Local journalist Grishin claims to have had his camera confiscated by the Police and to have been threatened “If I see you here again, I will personally smash your eyes, even though I am the hakim.”

Protests are being made by Hindu groups and members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness around the world in an attempt to halt any further demolition or other forms of alleged religious persecution. Groups within the UK have brought the issue to the attention of both Tony Blair, and the House of Commons.

One of the Indian political parties, Bharatiya Janata Party criticised the central government for keeping silence over the issue. The party is expected to follow the saffron brotherhood agenda in the second term of Rajnath Singh.

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Canada to revisit same-sex marriage issue next week

Canada to revisit same-sex marriage issue next week

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

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The Canadian House of Commons will re-open the debate on same-sex marriage next Wednesday, December 6th, when it debates a resolution to reconsider the Civil Marriage Act that was passed by the previous Liberal-led parliament in 2005. In the intervening election, the victorious Conservatives promised that if they were elected parliament would hold a free vote on whether to amend or repeal the Act.

Several surveys have suggested that MPs in the minority parliament will overwhelmingly reaffirm support for same-sex marriage once a vote has held. The pro-same sex marriage group Canadians for Equal Marriage estimates that the motion will be defeated by at least 35 votes. This has prompted supporters of same-sex marriage to urge that a vote be held as soon as possible while opponents of gay marriage have been urging the government to delay the vote until the next election, expected early in 2007, in hopes of the election of a Conservative majority that would repeal the act. A number of Conservative MPs and strategists have supported an early vote, however, in the belief that the same-sex issue would hurt the Tories in an election campaign by emphasizing a social conservative agenda that is unpopular in urban areas and Quebec.

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