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December 10, 2009

Thousands of Indonesians protest against corruption

Thousands of Indonesians protest against corruption

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

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Several thousand people marched earlier today in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, to protest corruption in the country.

Most of them were students protesting the latest corruption scandal in the country. It involves allegations that a US$600 million government bailout was given to Century Bank on condition that some of the money be used to fund the president’s re-election campaign.

“Today’s aim is not to attack politically any party. We just want to send a message to our fellow countrymen […] that justice cannot be served while corruption is still rampant in our country,” said the organiser of the demonstration, Usman Hamid, as quoted by the Al Jazeera news agency.

The legislature is investigating the bailout and the possible roles played by Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani in orchestrating a deal. The government, however, denies the charges.

Thousands more demonstrated in other cities and towns across the country. Most rallies were without incident, but in the town of Makassar, located in South Sulawesi, students armed with rocks and wooden planks clashed with anti-riot police.

The news media report that police fired tear gas to break up the crowd after protesters tried to storm the provincial governor’s office. There was no immediate report of injuries or arrests among the 2,000 protesters.



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Oxford to use online voting for Professor of Poetry election

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

Oxford to use online voting for Professor of Poetry election

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

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The University of Oxford has announced that it plans to introduce online voting for the 2010 election for the position of Professor of Poetry. Under the current rules, voters have to visit Oxford on the day of the election to cast their vote. The proposals, which require the approval of the university’s governing authorities, would allow votes to be cast online or in person over a number of days. The hope is that overall turnout will improve: about 300,000 people were eligible to vote in the last election for the position as they were graduates or academics of the university, but less than 500 did.

The 2010 election follows the controversy of 2009, which saw candidate Derek Walcott withdraw before the contest after anonymous letters were sent to more than 100 Oxford academics giving details of an allegation of sexual harassment made against him in 1982. The eventual winner, Ruth Padel, resigned when it emerged that she had briefed student journalists about the allegations. Walcott described the election campaign as “low and degrading”.

Although the university has said that it wants to make the election “more accessible”, there are concerns that the changes will make the process worse. The director of the Poetry Society, Judith Palmer, said that changes would not address “the bigger problem”, as the election process is “notoriously bruising”. She added that many poets in the past have refused to consider running and said that these reforms would “probably increase the number of good candidates ruling themselves out.”

The post of Professor of Poetry dates from 1708, with the most recent holder being the academic Christopher Ricks. Former holders include Seamus Heaney and W. H. Auden. It has been described as the “second-best poetry job in England”, after that of Poet Laureate. The professor has to give three lectures during the year and to deliver every other year a speech giving thanks to benefactors during the ceremony for the presentation of honorary degrees. There is no obligation to write poetry for the university during the five-year tenure of the post, although past holders have taken steps to encourage student poetry. Padel would have been the first woman to hold the post.



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Official: Iraqi elections now set for March 7

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

Official: Iraqi elections now set for March 7

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

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Iraq has changed the date of its general elections for the second time in a day, with officials saying the vote will now take place on Sunday, March 7.

The presidential chief-of-staff, Nasser al-Ani, announced the date to reporters on Tuesday, hours after Iraqi officials had said the vote would happen on Saturday, March 6.

Officials have not explained the reason for the one-day delay. However, local media reports say Kurdish groups objected to the March 6 date because it coincides with the anniversary of the 1975 Algiers Agreement between Iran and Iraq.

The vote was originally set for January 16, but the government postponed the date because parliament took months to approve an electoral law the Iraqi constitution says must be in place 60 days before the vote. That law was passed on Sunday.



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Monster waves make way for rare surfing competition

Monster waves make way for rare surfing competition

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

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Massive waves pounded the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii Tuesday, allowing for a rare surfing competition to take place.

A competitor surfs on a massive wave during the rare competition Image: flickr.

The contest is known as the Eddie Aikau competition, named after a noted Hawaiian surfer who was lost at sea during the 1970s. It has only taken place eight times in the past 25 years.

Tens of thousands of spectators from across the state gathered to watch 28 expert surfers tackle the 40-foot waves. Competitor Jamie O’Brien said, “We were all stoked out there, smiling, laughing and having a good time.” He added, “This is like a natural arena out here for this and it’s amazing to be a part of it.”

The monstrous waves were caused by two cyclones to the northwest of the islands. Conditions have to be nearly perfect for the competition to commence.

The winner was 24 year-old Greg Long, a first-time entrant who took home a $55,000 prize.

The dangerous conditions inflicted one injury, but safety teams were on standby to deal with any accidents.



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Hubble telescope spots oldest galaxies ever seen

Hubble telescope spots oldest galaxies ever seen

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

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American and European scientists say the upgraded Hubble space telescope has spotted the oldest galaxies ever seen. The images were taken with the telescope’s new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) in August this year.

The galaxies are about 13 billion light years from Earth, meaning they formed less than one billion years after the Big Bang — the cosmological model of the initial conditions and subsequent development of the universe.

WFC3 was installed in May this year, during a mission by the space shuttle Atlantis to repair and upgrade Hubble. Experts say the new instrument will let them peer even further back in time, to when the universe was in its infancy. The more distant a galaxy is, the more its light is “redshifted” due to expansion of the universe. Light from the furthest galaxies is shifted to infrared wavelengths invisible to the human eye, but WFC3 can detect these.

The new image was taken in August, in the same region as a 2004 visible light image known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The 2004 photo previously showed the most distant galaxies, but the new infrared pictures from the WFC3 allow even more remote galaxies to be seen.

Cquote1.svg At these distances, you’re really looking back in time, like you have a time machine Cquote2.svg

—Ray Villard, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore

Capturing the image took four days, and the total exposure lasted 173,000 seconds. In the three months since, twelve scientific papers have been submitted on it. On Tuesday one of these confirmed the galaxies as the furthest ever seen.

They are also the oldest, with the light from them having taken around 13 billion years to reach Earth.

“At these distances, you’re really looking back in time, like you have a time machine,” said Ray Villard, of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. “Those things don’t exist anymore.”

The photo could be one of the ultimate achievements of the Hubble telescope, now almost twenty years old.

“These new observations are likely to be the most sensitive images Hubble will ever take,” said Professor Jim Dunlop of the University of Edinburgh.

The servicing mission in May extended the telescope’s life by around five years, but it is scheduled to be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope in 2014. This will use infrared imaging and have a greater collecting area than Hubble, and it is thought that it may be able make out objects from just 100 million years after the Big Bang.

“We’ve really pushed Hubble to its limits,” said Villard, “and we need a bigger space telescope to go back even farther. It shows us there are really exciting things to look for with the Webb telescope.”

The image, taken in August 2009, shows the oldest galaxies ever seen. br\ This image, taken in August 2009 by the Hubble telescope with its WFC3 upgrade, shows the oldest galaxies ever seen.
Image: NASA, ESA.

Astronaut working on Hubble during Service Mission 4, which included the installation of WFC3. br\ Astronaut working on Hubble during Servicing Mission 4 in May 2009, which included the installation of WFC3.
Image: NASA.

The Hubble Space Telescope, seen from Space Shuttle Atlantis. br\

The Hubble Space Telescope, seen from Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Image: NASA.

Another image from the WFC3, showing NGC 6302 — popularly known as the br\

Another image from WFC3, showing NGC 6302 — popularly known as the “Butterfly Nebula”
Image: NASA, ESA.



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Danish unofficial draft version of UNCCC treaty leaks, G77 reacts sharply

Danish unofficial draft version of UNCCC treaty leaks, G77 reacts sharply

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

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On the third day of the two-week Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the leaders of developing countries said that EU and US emissions cuts plans are not enough. After a Danish unofficial draft version of the future treaty leaked, they reacted with a demand of shift of emission cuts to developed world industries.

The host Danish government’s draft version of a treaty was published by UK newspaper The Guardian without the government’s consent. The draft says that “developing countries, except the least developed which may contribute at their own discretion, commit to nationally appropriate mitigation actions”. The quantitative consideration in it is that a 50% emissions cut globally (from 1990 levels) by 2050 should be achieved, with most industrialised nations implementing 80% cuts.

Cquote1.svg no developing nations are committed to emission cuts Cquote2.svg

—Kyoto protocol

Deputy Head of the Chinese delegation Su Wei recalled the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which includes the statement “no developing nations are committed to emission cuts or sharing of funding for mitigation and adaptation in poor parts of the world”. Su Wei said, “The EU position cannot be justified. The [Kyoto] protocol among other UNFCCC agreements stipulate clearly what developed and developing countries should do.”

In an interview with Politiken, a Danish daily broadsheet newspaper, the Chairman of Group of 77 commented on the event, mentioning the previous Denmark-Africa friendly political relations:

Cquote1.svg You need to listen to all countries. That’s what democracy is about, and that’s what you have been cheering in Denmark. What Prime Minister (Lars Løkke Rasmussen) does is contrary to the spirit of the developing aid, which Denmark has provided for Africa through many years. Cquote2.svg

A member of poverty-focused charity, Oxfam, Antonio Hill commented to the BBC, speaking positively about the idea of transferring finance from industrialised to developing countries — to help them curb their emissions and help them protect against the impacts of climate change. Antonio Hill said that otherwise industrialised nations had to offer considerably bigger cuts. Commentators say the G77 block statements are substantially reasonable, since many of emissions sources are geographically located in developing countries, but owned by citizens of developed countries.

Executive secretary of the UNFCCC Yvo de Boer said the document had no weight at the conference:

Cquote1.svg This was an informal paper ahead of the conference given to a number of people for the purposes of consultations. The only formal texts in the UN process are the ones tabled by the Chairs of this Copenhagen conference at the behest of the parties. Cquote2.svg

Head of the global climate initiative World Wide Fund for Nature Kim Carstensen commented on the event, pledging not to to distract to the ‘Danish text’ and to concentrate on subsequent official actions at Copenhagen:

Cquote1.svg The behind the scenes negotiations tactics under the Danish Presidency, have been focusing on pleasing the rich and powerful countries rather than serving the majority of states who are demanding a fair and ambitious solution. The Danish Prime Minister´s proposed text is weak and reflects a too elitist, selective and non-transparent approach by the Danish presidency.

We understand and share the frustration of the poor and vulnerable countries. We urge the Danish presidency to change its style and move to a cooperative and listening mode.

We also believe this was one of the political signals sent by COP President Connie Hedegaard in her opening statement yesterday.

Focus on the Danish text right now is a distraction from the negotiations that have just resumed for their final phase in Copenhagen. Talks must focus on the text that has so far been negotiated and not on new texts that are being negotiated in small groups.

Cquote2.svg



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  • The ‘Danish text‘ – Draft Copenhagen climate change alternative agreement
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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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