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November 8, 2009

US House of Representatives passes universal health care bill

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US House of Representatives passes universal health care bill

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

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The United States House of Representatives has passed The Affordable Health Care for America Act or HR 3962, a bill which would ensure that 95–96% of US citizens receive affordable health care.

HR 3962 was passed with 220 yeas and 215 nays. Democrats in the house needed at least 218 votes to pass the bill. 39 Democrats voted against the bill, which contained the Stupak amendment. This amendment curtailed women’s abortion rights. One Republican, Representative Joseph Cao of Louisiana, voted for the bill.

The US Senate has drafted their own health care bill, S. 1679. It is not yet known when the Senate will vote on their version of the bill, but in the end both versions must be merged into one with both the House and Senate voting again.

The health care program associated with HR 3962 is estimated to cost over US$1 trillion over ten years, according to the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who states that it will result in “[…] not one dime added to the deficit.”

US President Barack Obama says that he is “confident” that the Senate will be able to come to an agreement and pass a completed bill. Obama added that he hopes to sign a “comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.”



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Two winning British EuroMillions lottery tickets worth £45 million each claimed

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Two winning British EuroMillions lottery tickets worth £45 million each claimed

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

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Two people have come forward to claim a share of the jackpot total of £91,141,671 (US$151,435,849.52) that was previously unclaimed from the EuroMillions lottery draw held on Friday, a lottery draw that is held in Europe across eight countries every Friday night.

The two people have yet to have been identified because they have not yet been given their money, as The National Lottery said. Camelot, who are the group who operate the lottery service said that lottery winners are given the option to remain anonymous if the winners wish to do so. The claims are also yet to be validated. As well as this, the banks in the country do not open until Monday. With the total of £45,570,835.50 (US$75,717,924.76) each, the two winners will break the record for the highest lottery jackpot win in the United Kingdom ever, and could each earn £2 million per year in interest alone.

If the winners are individuals rather than syndicates, they will also be the first-ever National Lottery winners to go into “The Sunday Times Rich List”, which is an annual compilation of the richest people in the United Kingdom that is published in the British broadsheet newspaper, The Sunday Times. Speaking to Sky News, compiler Philip Beresford stated: “It’s extraordinary that in the years we’ve had the lottery we haven’t had anyone at this level. If they’ve got any sense they’ll keep very, very quiet about it or go and live in Monaco, where they’ll just be one of 1,000-odd millionaires.” Beresford also spoke of how the winners should handle the situation of losing their jobs, if they wanted to do that. “You’ve got to plan it very carefully and do it over the months. Get yourself sacked, that would be the best way,” he said.

At present, further information cannot be released. A spokesperson for Camelot has said: “In our experience of previous EuroMillions winners it seems a greater number of them have been syndicates…but right now we can’t say whether these are groups or individuals.”



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Twelve dead after suicide bomb attack in Pakistan

Twelve dead after suicide bomb attack in Pakistan

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

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Pakistani officials have said that a suicide bomber struck a crowded market today in northwest Pakistan, killing an anti-Taliban mayor. At least eleven other people were killed in the blast, and dozens were wounded.

Initially, Mayor Abdul Malik was reported to have survived the attack in the Matni area on the outskirts of the city of Peshawar. The market was crowded with shoppers ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid.

Officials said that Malik, a former Taliban supporter, had switched sides and raised a militia to fight the Taliban. He had survived several attempts on his life since shifting his allegiance.

“Malik had survived several attacks on his life in the recent past, since he turned against the militants,” said the top Peshawar official, Sahibzada Anis. “But today the militants have finally killed him.”



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Thousands flee violence in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Thousands flee violence in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports more than 16,000 civilians have fled ethnic violence in the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The UNHCR says the refugees crossed the Oubangui River into neighboring Republic of Congo to find safety after their villages were burned.

The UN refugee agency reported that the mass exodus from the DRC’s remote Equateur Province took place last week. It says ethnic clashes broke out between the Enyele and Munzaya tribes over farming and fishing rights in the village of Dongo.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said that 60 people were killed, and the deadly fighting spread to surrounding villages, several of which were burned. He says 40 other people were seriously injured and some are being treated in hospital.

“The 16,000 DRC asylum seekers—who are mainly Munzayas—are staying in public buildings or with host communities across 11 villages alongside the Oubangui River,” he said.

“A UNHCR team is now visiting them and our initial assessment is that they need proper shelter, food and household items such as blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans. Since a thorough assessment is made, we will work together with the government to help them. Some are also in need of medical care, but an over-stretched mobile clinic run by a UNHCR partner cannot cope with all their needs at the moment,” he added.

The first clashes between the Enyele and Munzaya occurred in March. More than 200 houses were burned in the village of Munzaya, and more than 1,200 residents fled to safety in the Republic of Congo.

Mahecic reported that the UNHCR is very concerned about the intensity of the violence and its spread to nearby villages. He says the villages have been virtually emptied of their inhabitants.

He says this latest violence, which is taking place in the west of the DRC is unrelated to fighting going on in the east, which has displaced 1.7 million people within the country.

Before the current influx, the UNHCR spokesman said the Republic of Congo already was hosting some 9,000 refugees from the DRC who had previously fled there to escape civil war in their country.

According to Mahecic, when the DRC’s civil war formally ended in 2003, large numbers of refugees returned home. But, he says this last group of 9,000 refugees does not want to return to the homes they fled in the DRC. They say they wish to settle permanently in the Republic of Congo.



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South Korean workers protest against labour laws

South Korean workers protest against labour laws

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

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Thousands of workers in South Korea have staged protests to demonstrate against plans by the government to alter the labour laws in the country.

According to Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) figures, up to 150,000 people attended the protests, held on Saturday in the capital of Seoul, although the police estimated the smaller figure of 60,000.

Under the government’s new plans, it will start enforcing laws in 2010 to stop companies from giving wages to full-time representatives of unions, and will allow multiple unions for each individual workplace. Such plans have been delayed for a decade due to opposition from labour groups.

“We, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, are here to defend the labour unions and labour movement in this land. We will thwart the government’s policy by mobilising every means possible. If necessary, we will stage a general strike,” said spokesman for FKTUK, Kang Choong-ho.

Riot police were present at the demonstrations; however, it was reported that there was no violence or clashes, and protesters later dispersed peacefully.

Media contacted the South Korean Labour Ministry seeking comment regarding the rally, but the Ministry did not immediately respond.



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South African Vipers win Singapore Rugby Sevens

Filed under: Archived,Original reporting,Rugby,Singapore,Sports — admin @ 5:00 am

South African Vipers win Singapore Rugby Sevens

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Final started as tough bruising encounter with both teams putting bodies on the line.
Image: Bjorn Engelhardt.

South African Vipers completed a hat-trick to win their third consecutive Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens. Unbeaten throughout the two day tournament the South African team beat Fijian team Davetalevu by a margin of 24 points without allowing the Fijian team to score throughout the 20 minute final. In a replay of last years final, where the Vipers won 10-5, the mostly expatriate crowd rallied behind the Fijian team in an effort to create an upset against the Vipers who are the domestic development team of South African Sevens.

It was tough and tight start with both teams putting heavy tackles and showing strong defence until the sixth minute when the SA Vipers finally managed a fast run down the left wing to score a converted try. From that point is looked ominous for Davetalevu as the Vipers began to find openings in nearly every move and only passionate defence keeping the Vipers at bay from further scoring, finishing the first half 5-0.

SA Vipers rise high during a line-out.
Image: Bjorn Engelhardt.

Only two minutes into the second half the Vipers breached Davetalevu’s defence and scored a relatively easy try yet failing to convert. A few minutes later Vipers crossed again and then scored a further try down the favoured left wing to bring the margin to 24-0 which would be the final score. The talent and form of the South Africans clearly showed as they have been touring for the past months.

In the minor finals the Casuarina Cougars easily won the Bowl competition with a 17-0 defeat of Australian team East Arnhem Rugby. The Plate final saw a strong performance from Borneo Eagles to beat New Zealand team Oriental Rongotai by 31 to 5. Leading 12-5 at half-time the Eagles never seemed troubled during the final.

No Rugby tournament would be complete without the traditional New Zealand Haka.
Image: Bjorn Engelhardt.

The weekend was an emotional event for the Brunei Flying Kukris who recently returned from a tour of Afghanistan where they tragically lost two of their regiment. Serving out of Borneo the squad gathered before the commencement of their quarter-final to pay respect both to their own squadron but also in tribute to Remembrance Day which coincided with the weekend tournament. A minute of silence in respect to fallen soldiers was observed. Despite mixed results for the tournament the Kukris managed to qualify for the Jug Final. Kukris scored a try after full-time yet failing to convert a relatively simple kick that would have won the game for them. Final score was 21-20 with Singapore Barbarians taking the honours.

Fittingly on the Remembrance Weekend the Brunei Flying Kukris paid respect to their fellow and fallen soldiers at the Singapore War Memorial.
Image: Bjorn Engelhardt.

Featuring teams from thirteen nations from as far as Kenya, South Africa and Scotland the tournament has grown from success to success over the past years and now features on the calendar of major sporting events in Singapore. The tournament began in 1947 and an invitational event for Singapore and Malaysian teams and since grown into national and club teams from around the world are invited. It is hoped that the SCC 7s will soon feature on the International Rugby Boards 7s circuit according to club officials. The competition also included the return of the SCC Schools and Colleges tournament as well as the qualifying round for the International Rugby Board’s Womens Rugby World Cup.



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Soldier killed in explosion in Afghanistan, number of UK soldiers killed in country rises to 231

Soldier killed in explosion in Afghanistan, number of UK soldiers killed in country rises to 231

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

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Helmand Province, Afghanistan
Image: Rarelibra.

The Ministry of Defence has announced that a British soldier has been killed in an explosion in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. With this announcement, the total number of military personnel that has been killed in Afghanistan has now increased to 231.

The man was killed on Saturday afternoon after an explosion near the town of Sangin. He came from 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, and was serving with 4th Battalion, The Rifles. The soldier’s family have now been informed of the death, the Ministry said.

Lieutenant Colonel David Wakefield is the spokesperson for Task Force Helmand. “He died a soldier, doing his duty and among his fellow soldiers,” he said. “He will not be forgotten.”



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Iraqi parliament approves delayed election law

Filed under: Archived,Elections,Iraq,Middle East,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Iraqi parliament approves delayed election law

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

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Iraq’s parliament has passed a long-delayed election law required for national elections to be held next January. The law won approval on Sunday from 141 of the almost 200 Iraq lawmakers present after a tense, day-long debate.

The lawmakers overcame a key dispute about how to conduct the election in northern Iraq’s ethnically-mixed and oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Iraqi Kurds have long sought to incorporate Kirkuk into their autonomous region in northern Iraq. However, many of the city’s Arab and Turkmen residents oppose such a move and want to remain under the control of Iraq’s central government.

Iraq’s upcoming national elections are a crucial test for the country as it takes more responsibility for its own security ahead of a gradual withdrawal of US forces.

A spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, Qasim Al-Abood, said to the Al Jazeera news agency that it wouldn’t be possible to have the polls until January 23 at the earliest due to the delays.

“Unfortunately, we have lost time for January 16. We have sent a letter to parliament telling them we have lost that date. Still there is an opportunity to have the election in time, according to the constitution […] by the 31st of January,” he said, speaking to Al Jazeera.

It was not clear if the delayed passage of the law will give Iraqi authorities enough time to hold the elections as scheduled in mid-January. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had warned that Iraq could spiral into a new cycle of chaos if the elections do not go ahead.



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Germany wins 2009 Race of Champions in Beijing, Sebastian Vettel wins 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Germany wins 2009 Race of Champions in Beijing, Sebastian Vettel wins 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

File photo of Sebastian Vettel (2009)
Image: Ann64 at flickr.

File photo of Michael Schumacher (2007)

Seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher together with F1 racer Sebastian Vettel won the Nations Cup for Germany at the Race of Champions on Tuesday. The event was held at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing, China.

The winning duo beat the Brittish team of the new Formula One world champion Jenson Button and three-time World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx.

The individual contest was won by Mattias Ekstrom, former DTM champion, who defeated Schumacher on Wednesday.

Red Bull driver Vettel also won the FIA Formula One 2009 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix earlier on November 1st at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton was overtaken by Vettel after his first pit stop and then was forced to return to the pits soon after and quit the race after suffering a brakes problem.

Sebastian Vettel driving at 2009 Abu Dhabi GP
Image: Yuriy Lapitskiy.

Vettel’s teammate and winner of the previous Grand Prix Mark Webber came second and the current season champion Jenson Button won the third place on the podium for Brawn GP after pushing Webber very hard on the dying laps of the race with a gap of about half a second at the finish line.

Cquote1.svg There is only one step we can make for the team ranking, for the constructors, as well as for the drivers’ championship, for myself. So there is no question about the target. Cquote2.svg

—Sebastian Vettel

Rubens Barrichello was able to mantain 4th place, having been overtaken only by his teammate Button.

Nick Heidfeld took fifth in BMW ‘s final race. Both Toyota cars of Kamui Kobayashi and Jarno Trulli also drove the full race to finish on the back of Heidfeld. Sébastien Buemi closed the top eight for Toro Rosso.

Thus, Sebastian Vettel took the second place in the championship from Barrichello at the finale of 2009 season. Vettel claimed he will aim to become a champion next year. “There is only one step we can make for the team ranking, for the constructors, as well as for the drivers’ championship, for myself. So there is no question about the target,” Vettel said after the race.



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  • “Toyota quits Formula One” — Wikinews, November 5, 2009
  • “Mark Webber wins 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix, Jenson Button and Brawn win championship” — Wikinews, October 19, 2009

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Flooding kills 91 in El Salvador

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Flooding kills 91 in El Salvador – Wikinews, the free news source

Flooding kills 91 in El Salvador

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tropical cyclones – 2009

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  • Cyclone Mick wreaks havoc on Fiji
  • Flooding kills 91 in El Salvador
  • Hurricane Ida comes ashore in Nicaragua
  • Tropical Storm Mirinae kills 90 in Vietnam
  • Typhoon Mirinae heads towards the Philippines

Hurricane Felicia August 6 2006 0030 UTC.jpg

External/Inter-wiki links
  • 2009 hurricane season
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  • Wikitionary’s definition of a Tropical cyclone

Forecast track map of Ida

Flooding caused by torrential rain over several days has killed at least 91 people in El Salvador, according to officials. Sixty are still missing, more than 7,000 are in temporary accommodation and authorities expect to find more bodies. This brings the total up from the 50 reported earlier today.

The sea level has risen up to 1.2 metres (four feet) in some regions. “Unfortunately we have to report the number of dead has increased because of the rains, we now count 50 individuals,” said Jorge Melendez, head of El Salvador’s civil protection service.

The government has declared a state of emergency in five regions in El Salvador after three days of rain, according to Interior Minister Humberto Centeno. He listed the capital San Salvador and the San Vicente department as the hardest-hit regions.

Hurricane Ida over Nicaragua.

Rescue workers pulled bodies from collapsed buildings. “We rescued a man this morning who had fractures, and a little girl,” said local Cristian Aguilar. “My son and I crossed through the floodwater and brought them here, and now she is with her parents.”

There are conflicting reports as to whether Hurricane Ida is responsible for the flooding, with a spokesman for the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Florida attributing the rain to a separate, low pressure system.

Forecasters have warned that flooding may hit Cuba, and the NHC said that they expect Ira to produce “large and destructive waves”, with flash floods and mudslides in Central America and the Caribbean. The NHC also warns that Ida could reach the US’s Gulf Coast by Tuesday.

On Thursday, Ida reached 120kph (75mph), making it a Category 1 hurricane—the lowest level on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, a five-level scale that measures a hurricane’s intensity and potential for destruction—causing flooding in Nicaragua leaving thousands of people homeless. No casualties were reported.



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