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January 31, 2008

Schwarzenegger endorses McCain for U.S. Presidency

Schwarzenegger endorses McCain for U.S. Presidency

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

2008 United States Presidential Election
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2008 U.S. Presidential Election stories

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Sen. John McCain

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his support for Arizona Senator John McCain’s presidential bid Thursday morning.

Schwarzenegger called McCain “a great American hero and an extraordinary leader” and praised him for his ability to cross party lines. “I think Senator McCain has proven over and over again that he is reaching across the aisle to get things done,” Schwarzenegger said.

Also present was former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who recently dropped out of the race and pledged to support McCain.

“This is a man who is moving us into our future,” Giuliani said. “He understands how to do it and also understands how to keep us safe in a time of peril.”

Schwarzenegger said he also admires Giuliani and only decided to endorse McCain after Giuliani had dropped out.

“It’s all Rudy’s fault. Both of them are friends of mine and this is why I really didn’t want to endorse anybody,” Schwarzenegger said.

The announcement came at a solar panel factory. McCain used this as an opportunity to discuss his views on greenhouse gas emissions and environmental technology, which have come under criticism from others in the Republican Party.

“We don’t have to have increased costs to Americans,” McCain said. “In fact, with the development of green technologies, we can have reduced costs to the American consumer with the development of new technologies.”

California is one of the 24 states whose primary will be held on February 5, also known as Super Tuesday. Nearly 15% of the delegates needed to receive the Republican nomination will come from California. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were also campaigning in the state on Thursday.



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Getting the exclusive lowdown on The Lowdown

Filed under: Archived,Interview,New Zealand,Original reporting — admin @ 5:00 am

Getting the exclusive lowdown on The Lowdown

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Zealand
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The Lowdown, is a youth-targeted website aimed at helping young New Zealanders get through depression and other mental illnesses, and curbing New Zealand’s high suicide rates. Wikinews’ Gabriel Pollard spoke to Candace Bagnall who manages the Ministry of Health’s National Depression Initiative which runs The Lowdown.

Cquote1.svg The Lowdown is one of many attempts to improve access to services to young people in need. Cquote2.svg

—Candace Bagnall

The Lowdown is a service that allows young people to talk about how they’re feeling while facilitating the new ways of communication easily adopted by those aged 13-24 years, the demographic of The Lowdown. Young people can talk with the team via email and mobile phone texting, and they also have the opportunity to talk with other similar like-minded people through the on site Internet forum. Ms Bagnall said that research undertaken proved that text and email were the most “effective” ways of communicating with youth. “We also consulted and pre-tested with young people.”

Texting is the preferred method for communication.

Ms Bagnall said they were unsure how much the service – which started December 6, 2007 – would cost annually, but expected it to be near the half-million dollar mark due to the recent nature of the site and on going development.

They do not receive any free services from Internet providers and mobile phone companies. However this isn’t a worry for them because, as Ms Bagnall says, it is a “public service, not a commercial one so it is not trying to run at a profit.”

The Lowdown is always able to be reached. A trained health professional is available between midday and midnight each day, including Christmas Day. Ms Bagnall said, “They work shifts and have their holidays at other times.”

There are six staff members at The Lowdown. However, Ms Bagnall says, “The Ministry is aware of gaps […] in the number of health professionals available to young people. The Lowdown is one of many attempts to improve access to services to young people in need.”

Not only do they have health professionals on staff, but they also have support from celebrities. Local New Zealand celebrities accompany the exploration of the site giving helpful advice; sharing their own personal experiences and stories on depression; and home grown music provided free of charge. “The musicians were extremely generous with their time and music. They were very supportive of the purpose of the website and didn’t get paid for their contributions, but their music is being promoted through the site.”

An average of 320 visitors per day have visited the depression-focused help site between January 1 and January 23, 2008. Ms Bagnall said that most of those accessing the service are in the targeted market. “The service has been running for only a few weeks so we don’t have accurate figures yet and we don’t know the ages of site visitors unless they access the help services.”

New Zealand has high suicide statistics for both youth and older people. Each year there are 500 suicides, of which young people account for 100. Compared to other OECD countries, males between 15 and 24 years of age have the second highest suicide rate behind Finland. New Zealand is placed third behind Finland and Japan for females of the same age group. Age-standardised rates for males are fourth highest in the OECD, the fifth highest for females.

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China\’s winter weather threatens food supplies

Filed under: Archived,Asia,China — admin @ 5:00 am

China’s winter weather threatens food supplies

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

China
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A bus in China during a 2006 winter storm.
Image: sarcozona.

A Chinese official says harsh winter weather is threatening food production and adding to inflationary pressures. Political pressure is also building on the government for its failure to anticipate and solve the problems.

A top Chinese disaster relief official was quoted by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper Thursday as calling it the worst natural disaster since the People’s Republic was founded in 1949.

Tens of millions of Chinese have been affected by the snowstorms across the central and southern parts of the country. Hundreds of thousands are camping out in train stations, hoping the snowed-in trains will start running again to take them home for the lunar new year holiday. An unknown number of people are stranded on icy highways, cut off from adequate heat and food.

The situation is so serious that Premier Wen Jiabao has personally visited train stations in Hunan and Guangdong provinces in the past couple of days. He is telling stranded workers the government is trying to get transportation moving so they can get home for the holiday. But other officials have advised migrant workers to forget about going home, and stay in their places of work.

Officials say unusually low temperatures and heavy snowfalls have destroyed crops and greenhouses, and are severely affecting winter food production. Chen Xiwen is the deputy director of the Communist Party’s leading financial team.

Chen says the impact of the disaster in southern China on winter crop production is extremely serious. He says the impact on fresh vegetables and fruit has been catastrophic in some places.

Prices for fresh fruit and vegetables have doubled in some of the worst-hit areas. The situation is exacerbating the rise in food prices that began last year.

China’s consumer price index rose nearly 5 percent for all of 2007, and was up 6.5 percent in December alone. A major part of the increase was in food prices.

Chen, however, says he does not expect inflation this month to get worse, despite the crop damage being caused by the snow.

Chen says winter grain and edible oils are grown mainly in the north, which is outside the storms’ reach, and winter wheat production will not be seriously affected.

Two weeks of ice and snowstorms have killed more than 60 people and caused more than three billion dollars in direct damage.

China’s top weather expert told state media Thursday the storms will last well into the new year holiday, which begins February 6.

The lunar new year is China’s most important holiday. Normally, tens of millions of people would be heading home at this time.



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Brechin thrown out of Scottish Cup after dispute

Brechin thrown out of Scottish Cup after dispute

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Brechin City, a Scottish football team, was today ejected from the Scottish Cup following two separate disputes over two cup-tied players.

Hamilton Academical filed a complaint about the incident to the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and they decided to stage a replay of the match. However upon hearing of the second player, the SFA decided to remove Brechin from the competition and fine them £10,000. Hamilton will go through to play Aberdeen in the now delayed Sixth Round at Pittodrie.

Brechin secretary Angus Fairlie said: “It’s certainly a big blow. It was an oversight but a very expensive mistake. We thought we would have a big pay day against Aberdeen but still have to pay win bonuses.”

The replay match was won by Brechin 2-1 in extra time, after a 0-0 draw in the first encounter.



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January 30, 2008

Zimbabwe opposition calls for constitutional reform, may boycott elections

Zimbabwe opposition calls for constitutional reform, may boycott elections

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

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The opposition party of Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has announced that it wishes for constitutional reform to take place before the planned March election. The party has warned that they may boycott the planned elections, as well as saying in a press release that they believe the current election to be a “farce”. The party also said that they believed the planned date for the poll did not allow enough time for fair elections to take place.

The election, which was announced by Mugabe last week, are due to take place on March 29. The planned election have been announced to be for the parliament the Senate and the Council.

The MDC has not stated that it will not definitely boycott the elections and it has encouraged people who are eligible to register to vote. Hon Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the MDC said that “the MDC is preparing for elections but obviously the situation on the country shows that the country is not ready for the polls.” He added that be believed “there are a lot of deadlock issues that are not yet resolved. ” He also said that “As a party, we [the MDC] remain faithful to the dialogue process and the electoral process but a lot of sticking issues should be resolved as a matter of urgency.”

Later in the speech Hon Biti criticized the elections being announced for March by saying that he thinks “the call for elections in March is irresponsible and is an affront to the dialogue process which is still taking place.” He continued by saying he hopes “SADC will deal with this matter urgently because as a party, we remain committed to the peaceful resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis because Zimbabweans are tired of the national crisis which has them surviving on less than US20 cents a day.”

Zanu-PF, the ruling party of Zimbabwe, responded to the calls for constitutional reform by saying it would be considered after the elections. Patrick Chinamasa, a representative of the party said “As far as we [Zanu-PF] are concerned, the dialogue that is being facilitated by South Africa is still ongoing. As ZANU-PF we are committed to an irreversible process that will result in the presentation of a draft constitution for national consultation. We would like whatever document comes out of the national consultative process to be subjected to a referendum and, if people accept it, only then will the country put in place a new constitution.”



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McCain captures Florida, Giuliani drops out

McCain captures Florida, Giuliani drops out

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2008 United States Presidential Election
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2008 U.S. Presidential Election stories

Senator John McCain

United States Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has won the State of Florida’s Republican Party primary election, edging out former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney by five percent (36 versus 31%). With this win, Sen. McCain is now clearly the frontrunner going into next week’s Super-Tuesday primaries.

One time GOP front-runner Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who placed a lagging third in Florida, the state he based his campaign on, dropped out of the race Wednesday, largely because he had no previous primary wins and dwindling support.

The mayor endorsed McCain, a long time friend. McCain was quoted saying: “I want to thank my dear friend, my dear friend Rudy Giuliani, who invested his heart and soul in this primary and who conducted himself with all the qualities of the exceptional American leader he truly is”.

Democratic Senator and former First Lady Hillary Clinton, also from New York, won the Democratic primary in Florida; however, due to Democratic Party policy, the state has been stripped of its delegates.



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Major League Baseball: Twins trade Cy Young winning pitcher Johan Santana to Mets

Major League Baseball: Twins trade Cy Young winning pitcher Johan Santana to Mets

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Santana pitching against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field, May 6, 2005

In a deal announced Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins have traded pitcher Johan Santana to the New York Mets. The trade is yet to be finalized, pending a physical examination and agreement on a contract extension, but an agreement is expected to be made before 5:00 EST Friday.

In exchange for the three-time all-star and two-time Cy Young award winner, the Twins would receive outfielder Carlos Gómez, and three right-handed pitchers, Philip Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey.

Santana is reportedly looking for a 6 to 7 year deal worth around US$150 million, and has been on the trading block for some months now. This trade comes just days after the Twins signed multi-year contracts to two of their other stars, Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau. Cuddyer signed a three-year, $24 million deal, and Morneau was given $80 million over six years.

Santana has a 93-44 in his 6 season career with the Twins, recording over 235 strikeouts per season the past 3 seasons. He is one of 14 players to have won the Cy Young more than once, in 2004 and 2006, and he was a MLB All-Star in 2005, 2006, and 2007.



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John Edwards drops out of US presidential race

John Edwards drops out of US presidential race

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2008 United States Presidential Election
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2008 U.S. Presidential Election stories

John Edwards

Former United States Senator John Edwards announced today that he is quitting the United States presidential election. Edwards made this announcement during a speech in New Orleans, Louisiana, that was scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EST (UTC-5) today.

This decision comes after Edwards lost his home state of South Carolina to Barack Obama.

“Today, I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency,” Edwards said.

“Now, I’ve spoken to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. They have both pledged to me and more importantly through me to America, that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency,” he continued.



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Police arrest former NFL player Alonzo Spellman

Police arrest former NFL player Alonzo Spellman

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Alonzo Spellman, a former National Football League player, was arrested Tuesday in Tulsa, Oklahoma after a twenty minute car chase with police. Officers used “spike sticks” that flattened three tires on Spellman’s car, but he refused to get out until officers fired pepper-spray pellets into the vehicle.

Spellman was hospitalized and had to attend psychiatric evaluations after being involved in a police standoff at the home of his publicist in 1998. In 2003 he was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to interfering with the crew of a Delta Air Lines flight from Cincinnati to Philadelphia.

Spellman, a six-foot, 300 pound first round draft pick out of Ohio State made his NFL debut in 1992 with the Chicago Bears. He was also a team member of the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, recording 43 sacks in 123 games. Spellman agreed to a contract with the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena Football League (AFL) in October of 2005.

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January 29, 2008

Venezuelan police arrest bank robbers, free hostages

Filed under: Archived,Crime and law,Hugo Chávez,South America,Venezuela — admin @ 5:00 am

Venezuelan police arrest bank robbers, free hostages

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

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The four gunmen who were holding as many as 60 hostages in a bank in Altagracia de Orituco, Venezuela, cut a deal with police that allowed them to drive off with five hostages after freeing the remaining.

The Governor of Guárico Eduardo Manuitt, in explaining the deal to media, said that the robbers would not be followed.

However, after the ambulance had been allowed to drive to the outskirts of Caracas, police surrounded the vehicle and arrested all four of them. The five hostages are said to have been freed, though there are no reports of injuries as of yet.

Cquote1.svg This nightmare is over Cquote2.svg

—Gov. Eduardo Manuitt

After the ambulance was surrounded, roadside negotiations were begun, Manuitt told state television. The gunmen released three hostages before surrendering their weapons, after which they were ordered to the ground and arrested. “This nightmare is over,” he said.

The four suspects are said to be male and all in their twenties. They were armed with pistols and a hand grenade. They had threatened to kill the hostages if police stormed the bank.

Earlier estimates thought there were 30 hostages, but freed hostages have suggested there were as many as 60. Among the hostages were a pregnant woman, a two-week-old infant and several children.

During the standoff, hostage Vanessa Saavedra managed to call Colombia’s Caracol Radio by cell phone, saying: “We don’t want them to shoot … We don’t want them to open fire. Please.”

The siege has called attention to the problem of crime in Venezuela. The country has been facing one of the highest rates of gun-related deaths in the world. President Hugo Chávez has made promises to deal with the problem.



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