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March 31, 2009

Volunteers and food needed for flooded Manitoba, Canada

Volunteers and food needed for flooded Manitoba, Canada

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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Local municipal and provincial volunteers in Manitoba, Canada are exhausted in their efforts to divert the rising waters of the Red River of the North.

It has been hard work with little sleep for the residents who live on the shores of the Red River to shore up their defences with sandbags, build dikes, clear frozen culverts and break ice jams

Volunteers to spell relief for local volunteers and food are desperately needed.

“It’s a week now we’ve been doing this … you’re talking four, five, six public works guys. In my one community we’ve got 25 volunteer firefighters and those guys have been going 24/7, so of course it’s wearing them down.” said Paul Guyader, Manitoba’s emergency measures coordinator.

“We’re dealing with one of the biggest floods the province has ever seen,” said Steve Strang, mayor of St. Clements, Manitoba “We’ve put out hundreds of thousands of bags already. The municipalities are working very well, we’re working with the provincial government, we’ve brought in every possible resource we could to address this issue. The volunteerism within the community has been phenomenal.”

The Portage Diversion has taken some spring waters from the Assiniboine River and diverted the flow to Lake Manitoba.

Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation has been totally evacuated, as well as many homes near the Canada – United States border.

Map of the Red River of the North drainage basin, with the Red River highlighted.
Image: Kmusser.

The cold weather is freezing the ice jams into place. Guyader has had 2 Amphibex Excavators operating on the river breaking up ice.

The Red River is right now 16.7 feet (5 metres) above spring ice conditions. The Red River Floodway gates cannot be opened with the current ice jams.

“If we operate now, we can get ice jamming going into the floodway, jamming up against the St. Mary’s bridge, as such, the floodway capacity would be reduced and would cause higher water levels in the city of Winnipeg.” said Steve Topping, Manitoba Water Stewardship spokesman

The floodway was constructed in 1968 following the 1950 flood to divert the overflow spring flooding waters of the Red River. The floodway has been widened the since the 1997 “flood of the century” and the expansion is expected to be completed this spring. As well Manitoba built permanent dikes around communities within the flood plain since the last two major floods..

The Red River waters will crest between the beginning of April to mid April, at which time also the weather should be warming up. Communities are bracing for higher water levels, more ice jams as well as melting snow in the warmer spring temperatures.



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US home prices drop at record levels

Filed under: Archived,Economy and business,North America,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

US home prices drop at record levels – Wikinews, the free news source

US home prices drop at record levels

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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According to data released on Tuesday, home prices in the United States plunged at the highest rates ever recorded in January.

The S&P/Case Shiller index of home prices in twenty major cities in the US announced that values of homes have slumped over 30% since their peak in 2006 across the country. Regional variations have resulted in larger losses in states such as Nevada and Florida. In the year to this January, prices fell by 19%.

“There are very few bright spots that one can see in the data. Most of the nation appears to remain on a downward path,” said the chairman of S&P’s index committee, David Blitzer, in a statement.

Consumer sentiment also slumped, with the Conference Board’s index of confidence rising only slightly from last month’s all-time low, reaching 26.0.

“Job conditions are terrible. There is a general sense of uncertainty because people are peppered with bad news around the world,” said Brian Bethune, an economist for IHS Global Insight.



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U.S. Congress considers lifting Cuba travel ban

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U.S. Congress considers lifting Cuba travel ban

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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Senator Mike Enzi, a Republican from Wyoming

Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota

In the United States Senate on Tuesday, Senators Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota, and Mike Enzi, a Republican from Wyoming, introduced the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act” (S.428), a bill that would lift the travel restrictions that have prevented U.S. citizens from visiting Cuba since the early 1960s. The bill is co-sponsored by 20 senators, and the House of Representatives is considering a companion measure, H.R. 874, introduced by Representatives Bill Delahunt and Jeff Flake. The House measure has 121 cosponsors.

Senator Dick Lugar, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, spoke in favor of the bill, saying that the United States’ embargo on Cuba had “failed to achieve its stated purpose of bringing democracy to the Cuban people.”

Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a Democrat and a second generation Cuban-American, opposes the bill, arguing that free travel by Europeans, Canadians and the citizens of other Latin American countries has not helped to democratize the island nation. “The regime has not opened up,” said Sen. Menendez. “On the contrary, it has used resources to become more oppressive.”

The United States has not had diplomatic relations with Cuba since 1961, and has maintained a trade embargo on the country since 1962. President Barack Obama has spoken in favor of changing U.S. policy towards Cuba, but has not offered specific details.

The United States Chamber of Commerce issued a press release supporting the bill. “The US embargo on Cuba is a 50-year failure, and lifting the ban on travel is a good first step toward a more rational policy,” said Myron Brilliant, an officer of the organization. Other organizations issuing press releases in support of the bill include the U.S. Rice Producers Association and the non-profit Center for Democracy in the Americas.



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New romantic comedy film to star Drew Barrymore, Justin Long

New romantic comedy film to star Drew Barrymore, Justin Long

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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Drew Barrymore will star in the romantic comedy “Going the Distance” alongside Justin Long.

Drew Barrymore and Justin Long have been cast in a romantic comedy called Going the Distance.

The New Line Cinema film is to be directed by documentary filmmaker Nanette Burstein, who made the films The Kid Stays in the Picture and American Teen. It will be Burstein’s feature film debut.

Going the Distance, written by New Line staffer Geoff LaTulippe, will focus on a couple dealing with challenges arising from a cross-country romance. Media reports did not indicate a release date had been determined.

The film is being produced by Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot via their independent production company, Offspring Entertainment.

Barrymore and Long last appeared together in the 2009 film, He’s Just Not That into You, which grossed $145 million worldwide. The duo dated in real life, but broke up in July after dating for about a year.



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Jenson Button wins 2009 Australian Grand Prix, Brawn teammate comes second

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

Jenson Button wins 2009 Australian Grand Prix, Brawn teammate comes second

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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File photo of Jenson Button (2007) Photo credit: Marney Reaney at flickr

Albert Park, Melbourne

Brawn-Mercedes driver Jenson Button has won the FIA Formula One 2009 Australian Grand Prix on the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit at Albert Park and Lake, in Melbourne, Australia.

After winning the pole position, Button lead his competitors and had control of the race throughout. His teammate Rubens Barrichello experienced some problems on the start and dropped down several places, but Barrichello managed to come in second at the end of the race.

Team McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, raced his Mercedes-engined car to third place at the chequered flag. Gearbox problems in the qualification session forced the team to change it and face a penalty by closing the starting grid. Hamilton secured third place after a collision with Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and Robert Kubica of BMW Sauber, in their chase for the podium.

Timo Glock’s Toyota and Fernando Alonso’s Renault finished behind Hamilton, just off the podium.

Nico Rosberg’s struggle was rewarded by taking 6th place for the Williams team after starting 5th. Drivers for Toro Rosso, two Sébastiens — Buemi and Bourdais — were the last to earn points, coming in 7th and 8th place, respectively.

Button and his team, Brawn GP, are now leading the drivers and constructors championships as a new entry formed by Ross Brawn on March 6 from the remains of the former Honda team.

Rubens Barrichello testing BGP 001, 2009 (Photo credit Jose Mª Izquierdo Galiot)

Debutant Formula One team BrawnGP, previously known as Honda Racing, placed 9th in the 2008 season was on a brink of quitting the sport, but successfully changed ownership to Ross Brawn this month and hired former Honda drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. The team already shown surprising pace on the tests in Barcelona and now qualified and won the race on the first and second place.

Controversial rear diffuser of BrawnGP car (Photo credit Jose Mª Izquierdo Galiot)

The team is involved in a situation against the rear diffuser of the car as well as Williams and Toyota teams. After a brief investigation of the cars the FIA officials reported that the cars weren’t illegal. Still, the protest of some teams would be heard at the FIA International Court of Appeal on April 14, 2009.[1]

Williams driver Nico Rosberg and both Toyota drivers Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli as well as Robert Kubica from BMW Sauber and German Sebastian Vettel, who moved from Torro Rosso to Red Bull Racing prior to this season also shown high pace in the classification and the race.



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Forces capture Somali pirates who mistakenly attacked naval ship

Forces capture Somali pirates who mistakenly attacked naval ship

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Commercial tanker? The German Navy’s Spessart, seen entering New York Harbor in this photo, was shot at by pirates

A group of ships from several navies gave chase to a small pirate boat, leading to a capture, in the Gulf of Aden, Somalia. The pirates had fired upon a tanker of the German Navy, the Rhön-class FGS Spessart, in the mistaken belief she was a commercial vessel.

A small pirate skiff approached the tanker and opened fire upon her. However, sailors on the Spessart fired back. The skiff fled, and the German supply ship gave chase. After requesting assistance from other vessels in the area, Greek, Spanish, Dutch and United States warships all joined the chase. A Spanish marine aircraft and two US Marine Cobra helicopters were also involved.

The pirates are now aboard the frigate Rheinland-Pfalz

After a five-hour chase the Greeks were able to board the pirate boat, capturing the seven people on board. Their weapons were seized and they have been transferred to German frigate Rheinland-Pfalz for questioning pending possible prosecution. Assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades were among the weapons seized.

A Spokesman for NATO said “Poor judgment by the pirates turned out to be a real opportunity for seven nations representing three task forces to work together and strike a momentous blow for maritime safety and security.” A spokesman for the German Ministry said the incident “showcased the incredible international naval capabilities” and “highlighted the complexity of counter-piracy operations”.



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Fireball lights up sky across Canadian prairies

Fireball lights up sky across Canadian prairies

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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Sightings of bright meteors have taken place frequently in recent months.
Image: Toad43.

A bright object, likely a meteor, was seen shooting across the sky and was sighted by residents across the Canadian prairies early Tuesday morning.

At approximately 6:30 a.m. local time (MDT) the object appeared to early morning travelers, commuters and joggers.

“It kind of glowed green, and it looked like it was falling very, very quickly. It just kind of reminded me of a falling star or something,” said Cheryl Cook-Taylor, who was traveling to work in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.

“It kind of disintegrated. It was traveling north to south. Very bright. I actually thought it was a plane taking off from the airport and then bits started falling off. Really quite an amazing sight,” said another witness to the phenomenon.

Newspapers and radio stations across Saskatchewan and Alberta have been inundated with callers reporting the fireball. It has been described as a bright green, yellow and blue streak flashing across the skies which then broke into pieces. A geologist from the University of Calgary, Dr. Alan Hildebrand, says the object was likely a meteor that was between 10 and 100 kilograms in size. The light show lasted around ten seconds.

On November 20, 2008 prairie skies were previously lit up by a fireball. A huge meteorite had disintegrated, and pieces were found near the border city of Lloydminster.



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UN agency condemns new Afghan “Shia family law”

Filed under: Afghanistan,Asia,Crime and law,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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An act signed into law by Afghan President Hamid Karzai last month dramatically rolled back the rights of women in that country, according to human rights groups and a United Nations report on the bill by the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

The Afghan government has not provided a copy of the text of the Shia Family Law to the UN or to other outside groups requesting it, citing “technical problems”, however, the UN and opposition politicians say that the bill contains numerous provisions restricting the rights of women, such as giving their husbands priority in court; requiring the husband’s permission to leave the house, obtain education or employment, or to see a doctor; and reserving the custody of children to male relatives.

In its most controversial provision, though, the law’s Article 132 requires wives to submit to their husbands’ sexual demands, and says that a husband can expect sex with his wife once in every four days except in the event of illness. The United Nations argues that this is equivalent to spousal rape. Spousal rape is specifically prohibited in 45 countries worldwide and may be prosecutable by existing rape statutes in others.

The circumstances of the bill’s passage have raised questions as well, with Senator Humeira Namati saying that the bill was not read out or debated in the House of Elders, the Afghan National Assembly‘s upper house and Shinkai Zahine Karokhail of the House of the People stating the bill received only limited debate in the lower chamber. “They wanted to pass it almost like a secret negotiation,” Karokhail told the Guardian. “There were lots of things that we wanted to change, but they didn’t want to discuss it because Karzai wants to please the Shia before the election.” Namati calls the new law “worse than the Taliban”.

Women in burqas cross a market in Parwan Province, Afghanistan.

According to Karokhail and others, the law received Karzai’s support in order to boost his popularity among Afghanistan’s Shi’a population, which comprises an estimated ten per cent of the country, ahead of an upcoming election in August. A Monday ruling by the Afghan Supreme Court has allowed Karzai to remain in power in the interval between the expiration of his term on May 21 and the upcoming Afghan presidential election in August. It is unclear whether the law would apply only to Shi’a persons or to all Afghans.

Nonetheless some changes were made to the bill; the proposed minimum age of marriage for girls was raised to 16 from aged 9 and temporary marriage is not provided for. MP Shukria Barakzai says that “before this was passed family issues were decided by customary law” and that the new law, while not perfect, is an “improvement”. MP Senator Humaira Namati defended the bill as well, saying it protects women’s rights: “Men are stronger and women are a little bit weaker; even in the west you do not see women working as firefighters.”

A spokesman for Mr Karzai gave reporters no comment.


Sources

  • Jerome Starkey “Afghan leader accused of bid to ‘legalise rape'”. The Independent, March 31, 2009
  • Jon Boone “‘Worse than the Taliban’ – new law rolls back rights for Afghan women”. The Guardian, March 31, 2009
  • Ben Farmer “Hamid Karzai signs law ‘legalising rape in marriage'”. The Daily Telegraph, March 31, 2009
  • “U.S. welcomes Afghan Supreme Court’s ruling to extend Karzai’s term”. Xinhua, March 30, 2009
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.

South Downs to get National Park status in UK

Filed under: Archived,England,Environment,United Kingdom — admin @ 5:00 am

South Downs to get National Park status in UK

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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The South Downs, an area of chalk downland in southern England is to gain National Park status under measures announced earlier today.

A view of the Downs as they stretch away along Southern England.
Image: Elsie esq..

In the announcement, Environment Secretary Hillary Benn was quoted as saying “It is fitting that in this year, the 60th anniversary of the radical legislation that gave birth to National Parks, we are celebrating an addition to the family.”

The designation has not been met with approval by some. Nigel Waterson, an MP for nearby Eastbournce, alleges to Channel 4 News that “ministers have ignored the views of almost all local authorities in the area, as well as local people.”

The new park and associated management is expected to be in place in two years’ time.

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77 names added to slain journalist memorial in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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The names of 77 reporters, photographers and broadcasters were added to a memorial to honor slain journalists in the Newseum in Washington, D.C..

“These 77 individuals were brought together in a fellowship that none of them would have chosen, a fellowship created by their commitment, their courage and, ultimately, their sacrifice,” said Chris Wells, vice president of the Freedom Forum, which runs the Newseum.

The Newseum Journalist’s Memorial contains the names of 1,913 journalists dating back to 1837. Thirteen of the names added Monday were journalists killed in Iraq in 2008, which has been the most dangerous country for journalists since the Iraq War began in 2003.

Mexico was the second deadliest country for journalists last year, with five journalists being killed due to drug violence. According to Newseum records, Mexico had not been so dangerous for journalists in at least five years.

Among the slain journalists in Mexico was Armando Rodriguez, a reporter who covered crime along the border of El Paso, Texas, for 10 years. He was shot to death in his driveway while sitting in his car with his eight-year-old daughter.

“These murders strike at the heart of democracy by silencing speech and by depriving a community of the information it needs to conduct its affairs,” said Newseum chairman Alberto Ibarguen.

The Newseum, a journalism museum in Washington, D.C..

Another was Magomed Yevloyev, who ran the independent Russian news site Ingushetia.org, which the Russian government tried to shut down. Yevloyev was shot while in police custody; authorities said he tried to take an officer’s weapon.

Some of the journalists added to the memorial were killed in accidents, rather than murders or war zones. Tom Borrelli, a sports writer for The Buffalo News, died after falling down a set of metal stairs at a high school football stadium and landing on his head.

“I hate more than anything that it had to come to this, but it did come to this,” said Borelli’s widow, Karen. “And the honor is just tremendous. He would say he didn’t deserve it, but he did.”

Steven Shoob, a broadcaster with WTOC-TV in Georgia, was also added to the memorial. Shoob was struck by a car while covering an accident story in Savannah in July 2008.

Among the new names, 62 journalists were killed in 2008 and 15 were killed in prior years, including Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter Sarah Park, who died in 1957 in a small plane crash while covering a tsunami.

The name of the youngest journalist on the memorial was added Monday. Ryan Rendleman, 22, of the Daily Egyptian of Southern Illinois University Carbondale who died in April 2008 when a tractor-trailer hit his parked car while he was on assignment.


Sources

  • “Savannah News Anchor Killed Covering Story”. WSB-TV, July 22, 2008
  • Jerry Zremski “Sportswriter Borrelli’s name added to memorial at journalism museum”. The Buffalo News, March 30, 2009
  • Matt Butner “Steven Shoob honored at journalism memorial”. WTOC-TV, March 30, 2009
  • Brett Zongker “77 names added to slain journalists memorial in DC”. Associated Press, March 30, 2009
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.
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