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October 13, 2008

Wildfires rage north of Los Angeles

Wildfires rage north of Los Angeles – Wikinews, the free news source

Wildfires rage north of Los Angeles

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Santa Ana wind conditions as seen from space.
Image: NASA.

Two large wildfires burn uncontrolled north of Los Angeles, California. The blazes, known as the Marek fires, have burned over 3700 acres and caused the evacuation of more than 1200 people. Furthermore, at least 30 mobile homes were destroyed.

One confirmed fatality has been reported and described as an unidentified transient who had been using a cardboard shelter beneath a freeway overpass. However, the Associated Press reports a second related death from a traffic accident.

Authorities expect to order more evacuations before the fires can be brought under control.

Fires started Sunday due to Santa Ana wind conditions in the San Fernando Valley and Angeles National Forest on the northern outskirts of Los Angeles. Affected communities include Porter Ranch and the Lopez Canyon area.

Cquote1.svg The sparks were flying down on us. Cquote2.svg

—Evacuee Glenn Bell, age 50

Santa Ana winds as strong as 65 miles per hour fanned the flames, which jumped the eight-lane 210 Freeway. Both the 210 Freeway and 118 Freeway were closed during Monday morning rush hour. Firefighters have contained smaller blazes that occurred elsewhere in Southern California near the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita and in neighbouring Ventura County.

Local resident Glenn Bell told Reuters about his last minute evacuation. “The sparks were flying down on us,” he said, recalling how a locked gate nearly trapped him and his family, “and as I’m busting the gate… I see the cypress trees that are right next to our house on fire.”

Los Angeles County fire inspector Frank Garrido described the problem as “a blowtorch we can’t get in front of,” according to The New York Times. “Wind is king here, it’s dictating everything we are doing,” he continued.

Scott Stephens of the Center for Fire Research & Outreach at the University of California, Berkeley calls Southern California’s Santa Ana winds “some of the strongest, most severe fire winds in the world.”

Among the problems caused by Santa Ana winds, which blow from the nearby Mojave Desert toward the Pacific Ocean, is a tendency for hot embers to leapfrog and start new fires. Santa Ana conditions tend to occur from autumn through spring and can reach peak speeds of 70 miles per hour (113 kilometers per hour).



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Wikinews interviews Mike Lebowitz, Chairman of the Modern Whig Party

Wikinews interviews Mike Lebowitz, Chairman of the Modern Whig Party

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Monday, October 13, 2008

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

In the United States, there are two major political parties; the Republican and the Democratic. However, there are several other minor – commonly referred to as “third” – parties. One of these is the Modern Whig Party, which has been steadily increasing in popularity over recent months.

Last week, Wikinews reporter Joseph Ford was able to speak with MWP Chairman Mike Lebowitz about how his party was formed, what it stands for, and why you should consider joining. The interview can be read below.

Interview

Wikinews (Joseph Ford): What does The Modern Whig Party stand for?

Chairman Lebowitz: The Modern Whig Party is unique in that it minimizes traditional ideology and instead stands for common sense solutions and rational thought. In fact, this grassroots movement is a non-fringe, mainstream effort designed to cater to those individuals who find themselves cherry-picking between traditional Republican ideals and also traditional Democratic ideals. The fact remains that most people agree with various aspects of both major parties, but one or two issues or reasons ultimately compels them to identify with a specific political party. The Modern Whig Party offers a home for these independent-minded individuals. The general platform of the Modern Whig Party relates to fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and bold social progression.

Joseph Ford: How old is your party? How many members does it currently have?

Chairman Lebowitz: The age of the party depends on how one views our organization. The “Whig” name has been associated with American history and tradition since the early 19th Century. The old Whig Party was mainstream and middle-of-the-road during its time. It are those general aspects of rational thinking and common sense that we adopt in terms of the old Whig Party. But at the same time, we do stress that we are the “Modern” Whig Party. We recognize that we live in a different time. In that regard, the Modern Whig Party basic infrastructure was organized in 2007, and ultimately went public in April 2008.
Currently, the Modern Whig Party has well over 10,000 members. We realize this is a modest number in the grand scheme of things, but considering how quickly we have inspired these members to sign on offers evidence that this movement has a chance to catch on and grow. The Modern Whig Party was originally founded by Iraq/Afghanistan veterans as a veterans’ advocacy organization and our growth has occurred with minimal funding and can be regarded as a truly grassroots effort. It also is important to note that roughly 6,500 of these members are affiliated with the military. Our membership expanded so quickly based almost exclusively on word-of-mouth through the military ranks. Instead of trying to attract people to our Web site, we decided to come to them. What happened was that military members would send emails to their friends, who in turn would forward these emails to others. These emails described our movement and provided a means of merely contacting the national party, providing some basic information and ultimately becoming a member. Word of mouth among the military eventually caught the Pentagon’s attention due to the fact that the military is supposed to be apolitical, and the Modern Whig Party was ultimately featured in the Military Times newspapers. We have since expanded with members coming from all walks of life — military and non-military alike.

Joseph Ford: How does The Modern Whig Party differ from America’s major political parties (Republican, Democratic, Constitution, Green, Libertarian)

Chairman Lebowitz: The Modern Whig Party differs from the other political parties because our members come from across the political spectrum. Our common sense approach has found a way to reconcile actual common ground among individuals from all political stripes. The Modern Whig Party strives to remain mainstream and practical. Unlike other parties, we don’t expect our members to agree with everything, and in fact encourage them to remain independent minded. In a way, the Modern Whig Party is different in that it is designed to provide a palatable home to independents and those who want to be independent. Another element to look at is the diversity of our members. Our state leaders include retired Vietnam veterans, Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, attorneys, college students, a retired CEO, a prominent rock musician, a golf professional, teachers and many others.
What we have found is that even though someone is socially liberal, they also may be very conservative when it comes to other issues. Same for our conservative members. This goes back to our theory that most people find themselves cherry-picking between issues of both major parties, but ultimately end up on one side of the fence. In the end, we offer a realistic and mainstream home for those who want to pick and choose from various ideals and solutions from across the political spectrum.

Joseph Ford: Currently, are there any elected officials in the United States that are members of The Modern Whig Party?

Chairman Lebowitz: By design, we have held off on running or endorsing candidates this year. The established third parties are essentially marginalized because they consistently trot out candidates just to lose. Our goal is to avoid such traps as we attempt to build a mainstream and practical organization that in time will be strong and credible enough to actually be a force in politics and our communities.
Our plan from the beginning is to operate methodically and gradually. The Modern Whig Party leadership is comprised of people who are not deluded into thinking that we are somehow entitled to members. We also are not deluded into thinking that the majority of voters are ready to take that plunge and actually vote for a third party, let alone a group called the “Whigs.” We understand the reality, and perhaps that is our biggest asset. As we grow, our name will slowly filter back into the mainstream mentality. Our longterm strategy is nuanced but includes initially running a few candidates who are members of the Modern Whig Party but will initially run on the Democratic and Republican tickets. The plan is to run a few candidates on state and local ballots in 2009 and then support three candidates for Congress in 2010. If our members can win a few during this time, while at the same time our membership ranks continue to rise, we will have accomplished a winning track record from which to really make our move. We believe that we need to be innovative in order to succeed as we know the odds are stacked against us. But nothing ever came out of doing nothing.

Joseph Ford: Today, more Americans than ever before are disgusted with the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties. Many of these people are looking into joining another party. Why should they consider The Modern Whig Party?

Chairman Lebowitz: We have found that many Americans are frustrated with the established political parties because these organizations have moved to such ideological extremes that these groups no longer truly represent the majority of Americans. This means that people tend to either fit somewhere in the middle or they find themselves picking and choosing their stance on issues from all points of the political spectrum. In this regard, I should point out that not all of our members would classify themselves as moderate or centrist. The Modern Whig Party has members who are conservative and we also have many members who are liberal. I think it is a testament to our organization that people from all over the political spectrum can find common ground under the Modern Whig movement.
To this end, the Modern Whig Party offers a political home that actually encourages independent thought while also adopting rational, mainstream and common-sense solutions that takes all points of view into account. Are we deluded into thinking that we will become a major political force overnight? No. But what we offer is the fastest growing political movement in the country with a realistic plan to succeed based on mainstream and common-sense ideals.
Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

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Thailand protest cancelled at last minute

Thailand protest cancelled at last minute

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Thailand
Other stories from Thailand
…More articles here
Location of Thailand

A map showing the location of Thailand

To write, edit, start or view other articles on Thailand, see the Thailand Portal
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Last night saw police in Thailand holding a closed-doors meeting to discuss their planned response to the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s (PAD) planned demonstration. In reports from the Thai News Agency late in the day, the PAD had given assurances that the protest would be peaceful. Yet, this morning the protest has been postponed. According to the Bangkok Post this is to permit the PAD leaders to attend the cremation ceremonies of the two protesters who were killed in clashes with police on October 7.

Last Tuesday’s clashes between protesters and police saw the two fatalities along with over 400 injured. Fifteen of those hurt during the protest remain in hospital – seven of these are said to be in a critical condition, including one man at Ramathibodi Hospital who lost his right arm. An investigation into the incident is being carried out by a sub-committee appointed by Thailand’s Human Rights Commission; police were set to demonstrate the firing of tear gas to the committee on Sunday afternoon, this being an attempt to counter allegations levelled at police by the PAD that other explosive devices were employed.

In preparation for the planned rally, police had sought reinforcements, bringing the total number of officers stationed around their headquarters to over one thousand. Entrances to the building had been sealed amid reports that pro-government protesters were due to arrive in Bangkok.


Related news

  • “PAD plan protest for Monday; Thai political crisis ongoing” — Wikinews, October 11, 2008

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Global markets surge in value

Global markets surge in value – Wikinews, the free news source

Global markets surge in value

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Economy and business
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Markets worldwide have surged in value following efforts by governments to ease the effect of the ongoing financial crisis, which has recently caused a massive decline in the value of stock markets.

On Sunday, the fifteen countries from the Eurogroup – that is, those countries which use the euro as official currency – had agreed on a joint plan to face the crisis, which would consist in supporting financial institutions and by guaranteeing interbank loans.

The Eurogroup meeting was the last of many which took place during the weekend. The G7 nations had met in Washington at the same time that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank held their Autumn meetings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average index is one of the indexes that have done particularly well today, and it closed up 11.08%, well over 9,000 points. General Motors was the best performer in this index, with its value rising by 31.49%. The Nasdaq rose by 11.81%.

The FTSE 100 has today gone up in value by 8,26%, to take the index back over the four thousand mark. TUI Travel was the best performing company in this index. It went up by 41.25 points (21.48%), to take it to a new share price of 233.25. Some shares in the FTSE, however, have continued to fall dramatically. HBOS today dropped in value by 31.48%.

The Brazilian Bovespa index today went up by 14,66%, while the Hang Seng and Singapore Straits Times went up by 10.24% and 6.57% respectively.

Stocks exchanges in Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Toronto were closed due to national holidays.

Market data

22:00, Monday, October 13, 2008 (UTC)
  • DJIA
9.387,61 Profit 936,42 Profit 11,08%
  • Nasdaq
1.844,25 Profit 194,74 Profit 11.81%
  • S&P 500
228,14 Profit 23,30 Profit 11,37%
  • S&P TSX
9.065,16 Steady 0,00 Steady 0.00%
  • IPC
22.095,90 Profit 2.190,62 Profit 11,01%
  • Merval
1.215,990 Steady 0.00 Steady 0,00%
  • Bovespa
40.829,13 Profit 5,219.63 Profit 14,66%
  • FTSE 100
4.256,90 Profit 324,84 Profit 8,26%
  • DAX
5.062,45 Profit 518,14 Profit 11,40%
  • CAC 40
3.531,50 Profit 355,01 Profit 11,18%
  • SMI
5.956,32 Profit 609,10 Profit 11,39%
  • AEX
285,27 Profit 27,22 Profit 10,55%
  • BEL20
2.324,80 Profit 201,36 Profit 9,48%
  • MIBTel
17.125,00 Profit 1.687,00 Profit 10,93%
  • IBEX 35
9.955,70 Profit 958,00 Profit 10,65%
  • All Ordinaries
4.141,90 Profit 202,40 Profit 5,14%
  • Nikkei
8.276,43 Steady 0,00 Steady 0,00%
  • Hang Seng
16.312,20 Profit 1.515,29 Profit 10,24%
  • SSE Composite
2.073,57 Profit 73,00 Profit 3,65%



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Cook Islands rugby league player Adam Watene dies after training session age 31

Cook Islands rugby league player Adam Watene dies after training session age 31

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Cook Islands and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats rugby league player Adam Watene has died. The Wildcats announced the death of the 31-year-old earlier today. They reported he collapsed in the gym shortly after a training session.

A spokesman said, “The Wakefield Trinity Wildcats are sad to announce the sudden passing of Adam Watene. The circumstances surrounding Adam’s death were sudden and unexpected. Everyone at the Wildcats’ thoughts are with Adam’s family, and we ask for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time.”

Watene started his rugby league with the Castleford Tigers and was later signed by the Bradford Bulls. After a year of playing for the bulls of which he only made five first team appearances, he was allowed to sign for the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. He played a total of 28 games in the two seasons he was with the club.

The Wildcats also said “There will be no further comment from the club at this stage.” Watene is survived by his wife and two children.



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CanadaVOTES: Libertarian John Kittridge in St. Paul\’s

CanadaVOTES: Libertarian John Kittridge in St. Paul’s

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CanadaVOTES
Interview series
2008 Canadian federal election

ALBERTA
Calgary Southwest: CHP
Edmonton—Leduc: NDP
Yellowhead: CHP

BRITISH COLUMBIA
Langley: CHP*
Vancouver Kingsway: NDP

MANITOBA
Brandon—Souris: CHP

NOVA SCOTIA
Dartmouth—Cole Harbour: CHP

ONTARIO
Cambridge: NDP
Carleton—Mississippi Mills: NDP
Don Valley West: NDP
Elgin—Middlesex—London: NDP
Haldimand—Norfolk: LIB, CHP
Hamilton Centre: NDP i
Hamilton East—Stoney Creek: NDP i
Lanark-Front.-Lennox & Addin.: LIB
Parry Sound—Muskoka: NDP
Perth—Wellington: LIB
Prince Edward—Hastings: NDP
Simcoe—Grey: NDP
Thornhill: LIB i
Toronto Centre: AAEV*
Toronto—Danforth: LIB, AAEV
York—Simcoe: CHP

QUEBEC
Louis-Hébert: CHP
Westmount—Ville-Marie: NDP

SASKATCHEWAN
Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar: Lbtn

* Asterisks designate riding incumbents or registered political party leaders.
The letter “i” after a party abbreviation signifies an incumbent MP response.

To write, edit, start or view other Canada articles, see the Canada Portal

Monday, October 13, 2008

In an attempt to speak with as many candidates as possible during the 2008 Canadian federal election, Wikinews has talked via email with John Kittredge. John is a candidate in Toronto, Ontario’s St. Paul riding, running under the Libertarian Party banner. Libertarians are a minor, registered political party; they are looking to earn their first ever seat in the House of Commons.

Incumbent Carolyn Bennett of the Liberals is running against Libertarian Kittridge, Conservative Heather Jewell, New Democrat Anita Agrawal, and Justin Erdman, a Green. Bennett was the Minister of Health under previous Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Liberal government. Since it was created in 1935, the riding has been batted about between the Liberals and the now defunct Progessive Conservative party.

Libertarian Party of Canada logo

The following is an interview with Mr. Kittridge, conducted via email. The interview has had very limited editing, to eliminate in-text mentions of website addresses, but is otherwise left exactly as sent to Wikinews.

Interview

Why are you running for political office, why at the federal level, why this party, and why in this riding?

The mono-focus of our Party at both the Federal and Provincial level is less—MUCH less—government. I have been a member of various provincial and federal Libertarian Parties for almost 40 years and am committed to the proposition that “less government is better government.” I have observed the steady degradation of the Canadian character, the increasing limitation of our independence and the erosion of our economy as a result of inexorable “nanny state” control over the years. I want positive change and a better future with more self-reliance, more opportunity and an option-filled environment for the residents of St Paul, for all Canadians and, as a consequence for myself, my family and especially for my two-year old grandson.
St. Paul’s because it is an intensely interesting collection of neighborhoods full of passionate people who care. I respect my constituents and feel every one of them deserves a much better framework in which to express and achieve their potential than the pap offered by the mainline parties to buy their votes. Unfortunately most of them feel that more government, more regulations, more tax spending, more direction and fewer options constitute the solution to any and all of their concerns.
Like other Libertarians, I run to broaden the awareness of the less government option and of its desirability and practicality – also to deepen the debate and stimulate the people I talk with to think about a new way of doing things.

Previous to this campaign, have you been politically involved? How will you apply your previous work/volunteer/life experience to serving your constituents?

I ran as a Libertarian in last fall’s Ontario Provincial election but had not been particularly active before that other than as a party member. My day job is management consulting. I work in Canada and internationally with large clients, both public and private, to improve their processes and performance. I bring this results-focused, real-world perspective to the less-government debate. In the unlikely event of election, I would bring it to Ottawa – much in need of a house-cleaning and a strong dose of efficiency and effectiveness.

As you campaign around your riding, it’s likely that some issues are mentioned more often by voters, than other issues. What would you say are the three hottest topics this election, in your riding? What would you and your party do to address these issues?

People in St Paul’s seem to be most concerned about the economy (and pensions), health care and the environment.
  1. The economy would benefit from lower taxes, less government spending and meddling. Entrepreneurship could flourish and the economy grow. The political decision-making process cannot effectively be used to manage an economy. Libertarians would cease the pandering for votes, stop all corporate welfare, allow researchers and new business creators to benefit from their achievements (eliminating capital gains and dividend taxation among other things), dramatically simplify regulations, eliminate the restrictions on foreign investment in Canada, eliminate marketing boards, cut the civil service bureaucracy, etc. etc., etc. Short term, the concentration would be waste, dysfunctional and inappropriate programme spending and efficiency (easy targets in this environment). Longer term a broader and deeper elimination of programmes and an opening up of the market place to more options, competitors and innovators.
  2. Health care, in particular will benefit from new options, competition and an arena for open innovation. There is no moral, ethical, economic or technical justification for continuing to criminalize the open provision of health care options. Too many of our vulnerable parents, children, spouses, friends and neighbours are at risk to ignore the quality of care any longer simply to ensure that all Canadians have access to the same (poor) execution.
  3. The environment is somewhat different.
Where pollution and other environmental degradation is at issue we consider the problem in two aspects: (i) government controlled environment (crown lands, waterways, underground mineral rights, airspace, 200-mile-limit ocean waters off our coastline, etc.) and (ii) private property.
With respect to (i) Canadians and all other statist countries suffer the typical (and inevitable) “tragedy of the commons.” (When everybody owns it nobody owns it and it is treated accordingly. If and when legislation is passed to control it, the regulations are politically designed, favour special interest groups for political gain and the associated shenanigans produce an even worse outcome than existed prior to action being taken.) Hence clear-cutting, hence goldmine tailings in beautiful rivers, hence irrigation scemes [sic] despoiling wetlands, etc., etc.!
Real owners care AND are interested in the long term to cover their children’s children or their corporation’s future growth and success! Libertarians would sell these assets and create an ownership environment that would foster environmentalism, conservation and rational exploitation and / or enjoyment of natural resources.
With respect to (ii) our laws are adequate (or should be and certainly can be made to be) to protect private property from polluters and despoilers, whether individuals or corporations. Unfortunately they currently are not adequate to protect us from our own government’s encroachment, its’ pandering of rent seekers, or its’ political decision making. Hence pig farms in your back yard, hence mineshafts sunk in your back forty, hence a high rise or monster home erected across the street, etc., etc.!
Proper government provides an even playing field, applies the same rules to all players and dispenses justice even-handedly, quickly and appropriately. Libertarians would ensure that the relevant laws are actually applied and, in those areas of the regulations where change is required to catch up to technology, to cover omissions or to revise poorly structured statutes we would have it done.
Specifically with respect to atmospheric warming and CO2, once the pertinent regulatory environment had been tightened as noted above we would encouage cases to be brought to court in order to resolve the claims made and the degree to which action is indicated. The current state of the debate has been singularly one-sided and lacking of the true spirit and freedom of scientific inquiry. It would help to clarify it before any government (Liberal, Conservative, NDP or Green) tears the heart out of the economy of the country by taking draconian steps that may not even address the root cause of their concerns.
The programme suggestions currently featured in other party platforms would do more harm than good. Taxes are distorting and disruptive. Cap and trade encourages abuse. Government programs of redistribution inevitably fall under the spell of political decision making and are generally abused, if not corrupted outright. Setting emission levels at something that equates to about 40+% lower than today’s is to irresponsibly and knowingly lie to Canadians. Car emissions levels must be driven by cost-benefit considerations and cannot be dictated in an environment of unceretainty [sic] without, once again, distorting outcomes.
We would do none of these things, even if the jury weren’t still out on fundamental issues such as the causes and direction of atmospheric warming, the role of human produced CO2 (the “inverse,” after all, of the breath of life, O2), the possibility and potential impact of human CO2 control and its real cost. Libertarians would limit their involvement, as noted above, to providing a framework within which the issue could be resolved and addressed rationally by all the stakeholders.
Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Are there any misconceptions about you, your leader, or your party and platform?

Most people know very little about the party, the leader, myself or our platform. But one common misconception is that we are “extreme right wing.” We are not! Libertarians want to eliminate most of government involvement in both our economic and personal lives, letting Canadians live as free individuals and free traders. No rightist would ever subscribe to our principles. (Our principles are readily available on our web site.)

There are more ways than ever to get your message out, from the traditional campaign fliers and lawn signs, to new media like websites, Facebook, and YouTube. The tried-and-true routes get the message out to the masses much easier, but digital alternatives are much more measurable in how many are seeing or interacting with your campaign. What seems to be the most effective, from your experience?

The digital alternatives are proving effective for us. We are a “low” (generally “no”) budget organization / campaign. The various web options are an economical and practical way to spread our message and we have had, for us, a good electronic response.



Sources

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.


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UK parliment hit by airport protest

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:00 am

Monday, October 13, 2008

Police have been forced to close the main public entrance to the United Kindom Parliament after anti-airport expansion protesters tried to force their way in.

Demonstrators against the expansion of Stansted airport in Essex and Heathrow airport in west London, tried to get in to the building in Westminster.

Officers have made six arrests and have shut the St Stephen’s Gate entrance.

The government gave the go-ahead to Stansted’s expansion this month and a decision on Heathrow is due this year.

At about 6:30 GMT a group from the Stop Stansted Expansion marched to Parliament where they were stopped by police at the St Stephen’s entrance.

Police said none of the environmental demonstrators had managed to breach security.


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

UK parliment hit by airport protest

Filed under: Disputed — admin @ 5:00 am

Monday, October 13, 2008

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Jeremy Major Douche

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:00 am

Monday, October 13, 2008


Sources

Today in the chetopa library, a major phnoimenoum occurered. Jeremy Durr was being a major douche. unlike moat days of his douching, today he was being an even bigger one.

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Canadian scientists protest Harper\’s attacks on science

Canadian scientists protest Harper’s attacks on science

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Flag of Canada.svg

Day
Day 34 of the 2008 Canadian elections
Stories from the 2008 Canadian Federal Elections
National Parties

Bloc Québécois
Conservative Party of Canda
Green Party of Canada
Liberal Party of Canada
New Democratic Party

Le chef du Bloc québécois, Gilles Duceppe. Credit: Claude Boucher
The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Stephen Harper. Credit: The Conservative Party of Canada
Promotional photo of Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada. Credit: Grant Neufeld
Stephane Dion at a Liberal leadership convention rally for his supporters. Credit: ycanada_news
Jack Layton at Quebec party conference in 2006. Credit: Atrian

Citing actions taken by the Conservative government since winning a minority government in 2006, 85 scientists across Canada have signed an open letter to all national party leaders calling on them to state how they will ‘improve Canada’s track record’ regarding the objectivity of science. This is the second such initiative within the week, the letter on 7 October being signed by 120 scientists.

The scientists signing the latest letter represent hundreds of researchers such as Deans, Department Heads, Research Chairs, and research team leaders. They come from academic fields of Anthropology, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Biology, Community Health and Epidemiology, Criminology, Earth & Ocean Sciences, Educational Psychology, Environmental & Engineering Sciences, Land Resource Science, Medicine, Nursing, Philosophy, Physics, Psychiatry, Social Work, and Sociology.

Queen’s University climate researcher John Smol lamented the need for scientists to protest in a public forum. “I think scientists tend to be conservative when it comes to voicing their opinions. But as far as the environment is concerned, the problem is so bad and the consequences are so terrible if we do not act,” he told CBC News.

The Harper government was cited for actions across the academic spectrum, from nuclear safety to human health to climate science. A repeated charge is misreprestation and/or suppression of scientific finds, as well as acting to prevent the dissemination of research, to silence scientists.

Cquote1.svg While science is not the only factor to be considered in political decision-making, ignoring and subverting science and scientific processes is unacceptable. Cquote2.svg

—Canadian Scientists Against the Politicization of Science

Within the government’s own Environment Canada the Conservatives have been accused of muzzling the department, even interfering with the release of one researcher’s science fiction novel. The novel, entitled “Hotter than Hell“, deals with a not-too-distant future strongly affected by global warming. Then-Environmental Minister Rona Ambrose ordered the scientist not to attend talks to promote his novel where his job title was given.

“It’s absolutely Orwellian what’s going on here in science in Canada,” said environmental scientist Andrew Weaver in an interview with The Georgia Straight. Weaver, lead author on three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports and the recently published “Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World“, was not surprised when references to the UN’s IPCC reports were removed from Canadian government websites. He wrote in his book about new rules the Harper government put in place, requiring journalist questions for Environment Canada scientists be submitted in writing, and responses must first be presented to media-relations staff for editing and approval.

Vancouver’s Safe Injections Site project, Insite, a program designed to provide intravenous drug users with a medically-supervised location, is an internationally recognized model of successful harm-reduction public health policy, supported by both provincial and municipal governments. The national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, engaged in a campaign to undermine the project according to documents discovered in a Freedom of Information Act query, including financing politically-motivated research.

The conservative government has been antagonistic to the program since coming to power, and though losing its case at every level of courts has appealed the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruling which struck down portions of Canada’s drug laws as unconstitutional. The judge gave the government one year to pass replacement legislation which addresses the Charter Right of addicts to health care which may save their life.

Conservative Health Minister Tony Clement has questioned the ethics of physicians who support the harm-reduction model of Insite. “Is it ethical for health-care professionals to support the administration of drugs that are of unknown substance, or purity or potency — drugs that cannot otherwise be legally prescribed?” he said at the Canadian Medical Association’s annual meeting.

“The minister was off base in calling into question the ethics of physicians involved in harm reduction,” CMA president Brian Day responded. “It’s clear that this was being used as a political issue.” More than 80% of physicians support the harm-reduction model, he said.

HAVE YOUR SAY
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Aren’t the Conservatives in the right to press their ideologies, since that’s what the voting public elected them to do?
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