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November 30, 2009

Soviet statue returns to Moscow

Soviet statue returns to Moscow – Wikinews, the free news source

Soviet statue returns to Moscow

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Monday, November 30, 2009

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Soviet Pavilion at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

File:Worker and Kolkhoznitsa.jpg

Worker and Kolkhoznitsa as seen in Moscow in 1999
Image: Adam Baker.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

On Saturday, Worker and Kolkhoznitsa, a giant statue of Soviet times, was returned to a pedestal in Moscow, Russia. It was done after a long five-year restoration process since the monument was dismantled in 2003. The statue was initially expected to return in 2005, but when the Expo 2010 was awarded to Shanghai instead of Moscow the restoration process was stalled due to a shortage of funds.

The 24.5-meter high Worker and the Kolkhoz Woman holding a hammer and a sickle, the symbols of the Soviet Union, steel monument by Vera Mukhina and Boris Iofan was first showed at an exhibition in Paris in 1937. It was later returned to Russia after the exhibition and installed to a place just outside the Exhibition of Achievements of the People’s Economy. The monument became a recognisable symbol of the Soviet Union after it was chosen as a Mosfilm studio logo in 1947 featuring in the opening credits of many Soviet films produced by the studio.

It’s expected that the statue would now last for centuries. Plans for the future of the monument included construction of an exhibition hall in the statue’s pedestal. One of the rejected projects was to introduce a parking lot beneath the statue’s square.

Earlier this week, on Monday, an exhibition of Vera Mukhina works was opened in St. Petersburg’s Russian Museum, presenting more than 200 of her sculptures, graphic works, and decorative and applied arts, including the several sketches and studies, as well as the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman monument’s model.

The official monument reopening ceremony is scheduled for December 3–5.



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Prime Minister of Vanuatu loses seat over paperwork error

Prime Minister of Vanuatu loses seat over paperwork error

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Monday, November 30, 2009

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Edward Natapei, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu has lost his position and parliamentary seat over a paper work blunder. Natapei was in Trinidad and Tobago at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and his staff failed to file the paperwork that notified the parliamentary speaker of his absence.

Under Vanuatu law, since he missed three consecutive sittings of parliament without notifying the speaker in writing, he must forfeit his seat. In order to comply with the law, Natapei would have needed to submit a signed explanation for his absence to the speaker. The last time a similar event occurred was in the 1980s when a Member of Parliament lost his job for failure to notify the speaker of his absence. Despite appealing the forfeiture, he was not reinstated.

Natapei is now on his way back from Trinidad and Tobago. The nation is currently being run by a caretaker government. Members of Parliament are set to vote for a new Prime Minister next week.

Natapei was elected Prime Minister on September 22, 2008, as President of the socialist, Anglophone Vanua’aku Pati party. After 14 months in office, he now holds the record for the shortest term as prime minister in Vanuatu’s history. He first served as Prime Minister from 2001–2004.



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Porfirio Lobo wins Honduran presidential elections

Porfirio Lobo wins Honduran presidential elections

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Monday, November 30, 2009

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Porfirio Lobo, a wealthy rancher, has won the presidential election in Honduras, with about 56% of ballots cast, according to results. Election officials say voter turnout was high, in spite of a call by ousted President Manuel Zelaya to boycott the poll. Lobo declared victory after election results showed a broad lead for the candidate from the opposition National Party.

Speaking at a rally late Sunday, Lobo told supporters he will work to improve security, create new jobs and restore international ties. Lobo noted that he wants to bring about profound changes that will enable Honduras to return to the place it was four years ago, before Zelaya took office.

“The people will never be defeated, they will always go forward. Today they demonstrated to the world another test of their abilities and determination,” said Lobo at his acceptance speech.

Election officials said about 62% of voters took part in the vote, which eclipsed turnout figures from the 2005 election. The official numbers contradicted earlier claims from Zelaya, who said his supporters estimated that less than half of registered voters took part.

The ousted leader called on voters to boycott the election, saying the de facto government is illegitimate. Zelaya has been living inside the Brazilian embassy as Honduran officials seek to arrest him on charges of abuse of power and treason.

“We took a sample at the polls and the rate of abstentions was over 60 per cent in most cases,” Zelaya commented to the Al Jazeera news agency. “This means the election had low turnout, which means it did not enjoy the support of the majority of the Honduran people.”



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LHC sets new particle energy acceleration record

LHC sets new particle energy acceleration record

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Science and technology
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Large superconducting magnets at the LHC. The magnets were made at Fermilab, an American laboratory specializing in particle physics.
Image: gamsiz.

The world’s Large Hadron Collider accelerated its protons to an energy of 1.18 TeV at 00:44 GMT+1 today. This set a new world record, surpassing the 0.98 TeV record set at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory’s Tevatron collider, which was commissioned in Chicago in 2001. The event came ten days after the LHC collider restart.

Yesterday at 20:48 UTC, one proton beam was accelerated to 1050 GeV (1.05 TeV) in LHC. Three hours later, the next record was set by two beams of opposite direction, 1.18 TeV each.

The CERN researchers are delighted with the quick progress and are happy with the excellent performance of the machine. Steve Myers, director of accelerators and technology at the Cern particle physics laboratory near Geneva, commented on LHC optimistically, comparing it with the twenty-year old Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP): “I was here 20 years ago when we switched on Cern’s last major particle accelerator, LEP. I thought that was a great machine to operate, but this is something else. What took us days or weeks with LEP, we’re doing in hours with the LHC. So far, it all augurs well for a great research programme.”

High proton beam energy is needed to get many proton-proton collisions. However, all elements of the system need to be monitored carefully, and sudden energy increases are undesirable to ensure that the machine operates within normal parameters, in order to avoid a repeat of the superconductive magnet quench and consequent six-tonne liquid helium leak catastrophe on September 19, 2008, nine days after the first start. The damage caused by the leak, and the subsequent repairs and upgrades to the LHC that were needed, caused a delay of more than a year in the commissioning of the collider.

“We are still coming to terms with just how smoothly the LHC commissioning is going. It is fantastic. However, we are continuing to take it step-by-step, and there is still a lot to do before we start physics in 2010” said Cern’s director general Rolf Heuer.



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Iran to build ten new uranium enrichment plants

Iran to build ten new uranium enrichment plants

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Monday, November 30, 2009

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Iran announced earlier today that it plans to build ten new uranium enrichment plants. Iranian media reported that the Cabinet approved the construction of the plants just two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) censured Iran for its nuclear activities.

The proposed facilities, reported to be similar to Iran’s main nuclear plant at Natanz, would vastly increase the nation’s capacity to produce enriched uranium. Iranian media quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that Iran should get to the point where it can produce 250 to 300 tons of nuclear fuel each year.

“We should reach a position where we can produce from 250–300 tonnes of nuclear fuel a year. To do this we must employ new centrifuges with a higher speed,” he commented.

Ahmadinejad said the new Iranian-designed centrifuges used to enrich uranium will have higher speeds than those currently being used. He added that Iran “is not joking around with anyone” when it comes to defending its nuclear rights.

The announcement seems to make good on a warning earlier in the day that pressure on Iran would force it to reduce its cooperation with the IAEA. Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said western pressure may force parliament to review the country’s stance toward the UN nuclear agency.

Iranian Members of Parliament said that “we consider the behaviour of the IAEA to be that of double standards and political. We want it to give up this double standard which has tarnished its reputation.”

The five-plus-one group of nations working on the Iran nuclear issue — the US, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany — all voted Friday for the IAEA censure of Iran for defying international demands to freeze uranium enrichment and for secretly building a nuclear facility. The move appeared to take many officials in Tehran by surprise.

The tensions coincide with problems over an IAEA proposal to send Iran’s uranium abroad for enrichment, part of a plan to ease some concerns that Iran might be pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying that the programme is for civilian purposes only. The country has offered counter-proposals to the deal, but the IAEA has not accepted any of them.

An unnamed US official said that “if [the plant construction is] carried out, [it] would constitute yet another violation of Iran’s continuing obligation of suspension of all enrichment-related activities. There remains a fleeting opportunity for Iran to engage with the international community, if only it would make that choice.”



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Boat accident in Democratic Republic of the Congo kills at least 73

Boat accident in Democratic Republic of the Congo kills at least 73

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Monday, November 30, 2009

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A boat sank in the western Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, killing at least 73 people, according to reports.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says the cargo boat was carrying passengers, as well as logs, when it sank in Lake Mai-Ndombe in the Bandundu province, apparently due to inclement weather. Local reports say the vessel was not authorized to carry passengers.

The Red Cross announced 272 people survived the accident, but others remain missing and it is feared their bodies are trapped underneath the sunken barge.

“We are at 272 survivors and 73 dead. These are bodies that we have found along the shores of the lake. There are still some people missing. But we don’t know how many because there was no ship’s manifest,” said Dominic Lutula, the president of the Congolese Red Cross, said to the Reuters news agency.

Boat accidents are fairly common in the Democratic Republic of Congo because vessels are often overloaded and not properly maintained. The country has many rivers but few paved roads, forcing many people to rely on boats for transportation.



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Five dead, ten critically injured after van carrying children rolls on Louisiana highway

Five dead, ten critically injured after van carrying children rolls on Louisiana highway

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Monday, November 30, 2009

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A file photo of a van similar to the one in the accident
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Five people are dead and ten more are in a critical condition after a minivan packed with children rolled over on Louisiana’s Interstate 10 highway yesterday. The vehicle’s driver lost control after a blowout near Baton Rouge.

The vehicle’s driver, who was among the dead, and a front-seat passenger were the only ones wearing seatbelts. There were thirteen children travelling in the back although there were not enough seatbelts and the van likely only had enough rear seats for ten, according to the Louisiana State Police.

The front driver’s side tire on the GMC Safari blew out as the vehicle moved west. The driver lost control of the swerving van, which sideswiped a delivery truck travelling alongside before bouncing across to the center median, where it flipped. It rolled around 200 feet (75 yards) across the median before landing upright in the opposite lanes. Most of the occupants were ejected and four dead children were found lying in the median. No other vehicles were involved and the trucker pulled over uninjured.

Cquote1.svg I just saw the vehicle flip about three or four times and kids flying everywhere Cquote2.svg

—Eyewitness

Several of the victims were members of the same family from Harvey, 75 miles from the wreck. A three-year-old was amongst the dead. The survivors have been taken to two Baton Rouge hospitals and all are in a critical condition. A CNN photograph showed debris strewn around the scene. “I just saw the vehicle flip about three or four times and kids flying everywhere. It looked to be about 10 to 11 kids out of the car,” said eyewitness Tammy Hall.

Although drugs and alcohol are not believed to have been involved police have confirmed samples will be taken from the driver to check. The road was closed for two-three hours in both directions. None of the victims have yet been publicly identified.



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November 29, 2009

Obama declares tougher emission targets before Copenhagen summit

Obama declares tougher emission targets before Copenhagen summit

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

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Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama, taken shortly before he assumed office.

Barack Obama has set tougher emission targets in a White House speech. He said, the USA intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions “in the range of” 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. Obama will attend the Copenhagen international climate meeting next month, and is going to offer these figures as an official climate change policy.

Obama has also set interim targets for better intermediate control. These are a 30% cut by 2025 and a 42% cut by 2030. But Obama’s climate change speeches aren’t going very far: Mr Obama is not planning to be present at the summit during the last days, when the world leaders might most possibly finally make a treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

To compare, the European Union speaks about cutting its emissions by 20% cut by 2020 and 80% by 2050. But the starting point of the EU and of most of other nations is 1990, while Obama’s numbers are in terms of 2005 emissions. The plans proposed by Obama are with a steeper end compared with EU, thus making a slower start.

Emissions cuts targets

Year USA in terms of 2005 USA in terms of 1990 European Union in terms of 1990
2020 17% 4% 20%
2050 83% 80% 80%

Observers say some accumulation effect can be caused by domestic policies, which take long to implement on a proper scale, but then give a faster emissions cut. Such policies can include improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, industries-specific limitations, etc.

The White House announcement also contains the list of US representatives at the Copenhagen conference:

  • President Barack Obama
  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
  • Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
  • Energy Secretary Steven Chu
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
  • Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren
  • Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner

A schedule of US Center presence was made up for certain dates in December, so that the exact ways to achieve the cuts will be discussed.



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November 28, 2009

Suspected bomb derails Moscow-St Petersburg train, kills at least 25

Suspected bomb derails Moscow-St Petersburg train, kills at least 25

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An express train travelling from Moscow to St Petersburg in Russia derailed yesterday, leaving at least 25 people dead and 100 more wounded. Authorities suspect a terrorist attack after a possible bomb crater was found beside the line.

File map of Russia’s location in Europe.
Image: David Liuzzo.

The trainwreck occurred in the countryside of Tver, near Bologoye. Around 650 passengers were on board the Nevsky Express which was travelling during peak time along one of Russia’s most-traversed rail routes. Ninety of the injured are hospitalised, with hundreds of rescue workers attending and three victims being airlifted by helicopter.

Survivors say they heard a loud bang just before the crash. “There was an explosion under the locomotive,” the driver said as he called the Emergencies Ministry from his mobile phone. “I do not know what we hit. We are derailed. The locomotive and carriages, I do not know yet what else, everything is in smoke.”

The prosecutor-general has launched a terrorism investigation. Vladimir Yakunin, head of state-owned Russian Railways, said the chief line of enquiry is “To put it simply, a terrorist attack.” “There is objective evidence that … a blast from an explosive device is one of the explanations for the Nevsky Express incident,” he said.

Cquote1.svg There was an explosion under the locomotive. I do not know what we hit. We are derailed Cquote2.svg

—Train driver’s emergency call

The Interfax agency reported the crater was a metre wide. Russian journalists reporting from the scene were unable to locate it. President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered a full investigation and assistance for the victims. The Health Ministry said that over a dozen people remain missing.

Russian railway infrastructure is poorly maintained and plagued by negligence and alcohol abuse, according to The Guardian. There is also a high concern of terrorism, especially from rebels in Chechnya. Two Chechnyan rebels are accused of a 2007 bombing that derailed a train on the same line, wounding 27 people.



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Namibia votes in presidential election

Filed under: Africa,Archived,Elections,Namibia,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Namibia votes in presidential election – Wikinews, the free news source

Namibia votes in presidential election

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

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Voters are heading to the polls today in Namibia to elect a president and parliament The ruling South West Africa People’s Organization is expected to win presidential and parliamentary elections, but a new opposition party is mounting a challenge.

Voters turned out in large numbers before dawn to cast their ballots. Local journalist John Grobler said many waited for hours to vote because of logistical problems. “Voting is slow in just about all the polling stations, but especially so at the polling stations where they don’t have any laptop computers to verify the potential voters on the actual roll, which means they have to go to the physical paper. And that, of course, takes time,” he said.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba is running for a second five-year term. His South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), which has governed Namibia since independence nearly twenty years ago, is expected to win a two-thirds majority in parliament.

However, SWAPO is being challenged by a new party, the Rally for Democracy and Progress. The RDP was formed two years ago after its leader, Hidipo Hamutenya, lost his bid to become SWAPO leader upon the retirement of Namibia’s first president, Sam Nujoma.

Voting will continue for a second day on Saturday and preliminary results are expected sometime next week.



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