US Supreme Court allows ‘light’ cigarettes lawsuits

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The United States Supreme Court on Monday ruled that “tobacco companies that marketed ‘light’ and ‘low tar’ cigarettes may be sued for fraud.” The 5-to-4 judgment is expected to open the way for dozens of lawsuits claiming billions of dollars in damages.

In the certiorari ruling penned by Justice Stevens, the Court held that a class action brought under state law prohibiting deceptive advertising generally was not preempted by federal law regulating cigarette advertising. The lawsuit claims that tobacco makers who manufacture “light” and “low tar” cigarettes had deceived smokers into thinking the products are safer than regular cigarettes. Former United States Solicitor General Theodore Olson, now working with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, argued the case for the petitioners, Altria Group and Philip Morris USA.

Several smokers in recent decades switched to light cigarettes, with fervent faith they posed less of a danger to their health. But scientific or medical researches have shown this common-sense view is wrong. Although mechanical tests showed “light” cigarettes emitted less tar when burned, actual smokers inhale about the same amount of tar when they puff on a light cigarette, the studies found. The cigarette business faces more than 30 class-action lawsuits from smokers and ex-smokers who seek billions of dollars in damages and claim they were deceived by the marketing of light and low-tar cigarettes.

Respondents Stephanie Good and 2 others are Maine residents and for over 15 years smoked Marlboro Lights and Cambridge Lights cigarettes, which are manufactured by petitioners Altria Group and Philip Morris USA. They sought damages compensation for economic rather than medical harm, claiming they had overpaid for cigarettes based on fraudulent advertisements suggesting that light cigarettes were safer than regular ones. The Labeling Act requires tobacco companies to indicate rotating warnings on their packaging and advertising. “No requirement or prohibition ‘based on smoking and health’ shall be imposed under state law with respect to the advertising or promotion,” the law provides, and only if the labeling requirements on cigarettes are obeyed.

In the case, the Court applied the pertinent Federal laws, in question, Title 15 U.S.C. § 1334(b), the “Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act” and Me. Rev. Stat. Ann., Tit. 5, § 207 (Supp. 2008), the “Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act” (MUTPA). It held that “the Labeling Act neither expressly nor impliedly pre-empts respondents’ fraud claim.” The landmark decision allows the lawsuit to proceed on the merits upon remand to the trial court below. The ruling strikes a blow against a broad effort by U.S. corporations to limit their exposure to lawsuits filed under federal law.

The court also dismissed Philip Morris’s argument that the Federal Trade Commission‘s mid-1960s endorsement of machine testing of cigarette tar and nicotine levels “should relieve the company of liability for alleged fraud.” In November, the FTC officially dropped its endorsement of the Cambridge Filter Method, saying it is flawed because “the machine doesn’t take into account the way smokers adjust their behavior.”

The Supreme Court in a June ruling, said 8 to 1 that “a case filed in a state court alleging a defective catheter was pre-empted by a federal statue providing regulation of medical devices to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” The court also ruled in 1992 in ‘Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc.’ that “the phrase ‘based on smoking and health’ in the Labeling Act did not apply to pre-empt suits under state laws based on the ‘general duty’ not to make fraudulent statements.”

Justice Clarence Thomas said that “some kinds of fraud claims against cigarette makers may go forward, just not those concerning smoking and health. Thus, if cigarette manufacturers were to falsely advertise their products as ‘American-made’ or ‘the official cigarette of Major League Baseball,’ state-law claims arising from that wrongful behavior would not be pre-empted. Forbidding lawsuits based on health claims, would not mean consumers lack protection, as tobacco marketing is subject to regulatory oversight.”

Altria’s associate general counsel, Murray Garnick, in a statement, said “we continue to view these cases as manageable, and the company will assert many of the strong defenses used successfully in the past to defend against this very type of case.”

 

Physicist John Wheeler dies at age 96

Monday, April 14, 2008

Theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler died of pneumonia at his residence in Hightstown, New Jersey yesterday. Wheeler is most known in the popular culture for popularizing the term “black hole” to describe stars which had become so dense that nothing, not even light, could escape their gravitational pull. Although Wheeler initially objected to the idea, he later accepted the idea and coined the term “black hole” to describe such objects.

Wheeler was also known for his work along with Richard Feynman and others in the Manhattan Project, which produced the first nuclear fission bomb. He was later involved in the work to build the first fusion bomb. As much as he was known for his research, Wheeler was known for his skill and accomplishment in teaching.

Wheeler was born July 9, 1911, in Jacksonville, Florida and went on to earn his doctorate in physics at the early age of 21. He then went on to work in Copenhagen with Niels Bohr and later returned to the United States to become part of the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Wheeler continued to work in physics after the war and was involved in the United States Matterhorn project to build a hydrogen bomb before the Soviet Union. His politics were more militaristic than many of his fellow scientists at the time, in that he supported the Vietnam War and the building of the hydrogen bomb.

For a long time Wheeler was at Princeton University as the doctoral adviser for many prominent physicists including Kip Thorne and Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman. Wheeler went on to the University of Texas at Austin in 1976 when Princeton’s mandatory retirement age neared.

Wheeler continued to work until near his death. Physicists both young and old have paid tribute to Wheeler; cosmologist Max Tegmark told the New York Times that Wheeler had been “the only physics superhero still standing”.

He is survived by three children, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

 

Bat for Lashes plays the Bowery Ballroom: an Interview with Natasha Khan

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bat for Lashes is the doppelgänger band ego of one of the leading millennial lights in British music, Natasha Khan. Caroline Weeks, Abi Fry and Lizzy Carey comprise the aurora borealis that backs this haunting, shimmering zither and glockenspiel peacock, and the only complaint coming from the audience at the Bowery Ballroom last Tuesday was that they could not camp out all night underneath these celestial bodies.

We live in the age of the lazy tendency to categorize the work of one artist against another, and Khan has had endless exultations as the next Björk and Kate Bush; Sixousie Sioux, Stevie Nicks, Sinead O’Connor, the list goes on until it is almost meaningless as comparison does little justice to the sound and vision of the band. “I think Bat For Lashes are beyond a trend or fashion band,” said Jefferson Hack, publisher of Dazed & Confused magazine. “[Khan] has an ancient power…she is in part shamanic.” She describes her aesthetic as “powerful women with a cosmic edge” as seen in Jane Birkin, Nico and Cleopatra. And these women are being heard. “I love the harpsichord and the sexual ghost voices and bowed saws,” said Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke of the track Horse and I. “This song seems to come from the world of Grimm’s fairytales.”

Bat’s debut album, Fur And Gold, was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize, and they were seen as the dark horse favorite until it was announced Klaxons had won. Even Ladbrokes, the largest gambling company in the United Kingdom, had put their money on Bat for Lashes. “It was a surprise that Klaxons won,” said Khan, “but I think everyone up for the award is brilliant and would have deserved to win.”

Natasha recently spoke with David Shankbone about art, transvestism and drug use in the music business.


DS: Do you have any favorite books?

NK: [Laughs] I’m not the best about finishing books. What I usually do is I will get into a book for a period of time, and then I will dip into it and get the inspiration and transformation in my mind that I need, and then put it away and come back to it. But I have a select rotation of cool books, like Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Little Birds by Anaïs Nin. Recently, Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch.

DS: Lynch just came out with a movie last year called Inland Empire. I interviewed John Vanderslice last night at the Bowery Ballroom and he raved about it!

NK: I haven’t seen it yet!

DS: Do you notice a difference between playing in front of British and American audiences?

NK: The U.S. audiences are much more full of expression and noises and jubilation. They are like, “Welcome to New York, Baby!” “You’re Awesome!” and stuff like that. Whereas in England they tend to be a lot more reserved. Well, the English are, but it is such a diverse culture you will get the Spanish and Italian gay guys at the front who are going crazy. I definitely think in America they are much more open and there is more excitement, which is really cool.

DS: How many instruments do you play and, please, include the glockenspiel in that number.

NK: [Laughs] I think the number is limitless, hopefully. I try my hand at anything I can contribute; I only just picked up the bass, really—

DS: –I have a great photo of you playing the bass.

NK: I don’t think I’m very good…

DS: You look cool with it!

NK: [Laughs] Fine. The glockenspiel…piano, mainly, and also the harp. Guitar, I like playing percussion and drumming. I usually speak with all my drummers so that I write my songs with them in mind, and we’ll have bass sounds, choir sounds, and then you can multi-task with all these orchestral sounds. Through the magic medium of technology I can play all kinds of sounds, double bass and stuff.

DS: Do you design your own clothes?

NK: All four of us girls love vintage shopping and charity shops. We don’t have a stylist who tells us what to wear, it’s all very much our own natural styles coming through. And for me, personally, I like to wear jewelery. On the night of the New York show that top I was wearing was made especially for me as a gift by these New York designers called Pepper + Pistol. And there’s also my boyfriend, who is an amazing musician—

DS: —that’s Will Lemon from Moon and Moon, right? There is such good buzz about them here in New York.

NK: Yes! They have an album coming out in February and it will fucking blow your mind! I think you would love it, it’s an incredible masterpiece. It’s really exciting, I’m hoping we can do a crazy double unfolding caravan show, the Bat for Lashes album and the new Moon and Moon album: that would be really theatrical and amazing! Will prints a lot of my T-shirts because he does amazing tapestries and silkscreen printing on clothes. When we play there’s a velvety kind of tapestry on the keyboard table that he made. So I wear a lot of his things, thrift store stuff, old bits of jewelry and antique pieces.

DS: You are often compared to Björk and Kate Bush; do those constant comparisons tend to bother you as an artist who is trying to define herself on her own terms?

NK: No, I mean, I guess that in the past it bothered me, but now I just feel really confident and sure that as time goes on my musical style and my writing is taking a pace of its own, and I think in time the music will speak for itself and people will see that I’m obviously doing something different. Those women are fantastic, strong, risk-taking artists—

DS: —as are you—

NK: —thank you, and that’s a great tradition to be part of, and when I look at artists like Björk and Kate Bush, I think of them as being like older sisters that have come before; they are kind of like an amazing support network that comes with me.

DS: I’d imagine it’s preferable to be considered the next Björk or Kate Bush instead of the next Britney.

NK: [Laughs] Totally! Exactly! I mean, could you imagine—oh, no I’m not going to try to offend anyone now! [Laughs] Let’s leave it there.

DS: Does music feed your artwork, or does you artwork feed your music more? Or is the relationship completely symbiotic?

NK: I think it’s pretty back-and-forth. I think when I have blocks in either of those area, I tend to emphasize the other. If I’m finding it really difficult to write something I know that I need to go investigate it in a more visual way, and I’ll start to gather images and take photographs and make notes and make collages and start looking to photographers and filmmakers to give me a more grounded sense of the place that I’m writing about, whether it’s in my imagination or in the characters. Whenever I’m writing music it’s a very visual place in my mind. It has a location full of characters and colors and landscapes, so those two things really compliment each other, and they help the other one to blossom and support the other. They are like brother and sister.

DS: When you are composing music, do you see notes and words as colors and images in your mind, and then you put those down on paper?

NK: Yes. When I’m writing songs, especially lately because I think the next album has a fairly strong concept behind it and I’m writing the songs, really imagining them, so I’m very immersed into the concept of the album and the story that is there through the album. It’s the same as when I’m playing live, I will imagine I see a forest of pine trees and sky all around me and the audience, and it really helps me. Or I’ll just imagine midnight blue and emerald green, those kind of Eighties colors, and they help me.

DS: Is it always pine trees that you see?

NK: Yes, pine trees and sky, I guess.

DS: What things in nature inspire you?

NK: I feel drained thematically if I’m in the city too long. I think that when I’m in nature—for example, I went to Big Sur last year on a road trip and just looking up and seeing dark shadows of trees and starry skies really gets me and makes me feel happy. I would sit right by the sea, and any time I have been a bit stuck I will go for a long walk along the ocean and it’s just really good to see vast horizons, I think, and epic, huge, all-encompassing visions of nature really humble you and give you a good sense of perspective and the fact that you are just a small particle of energy that is vibrating along with everything else. That really helps.

DS: Are there man-made things that inspire you?

NK: Things that are more cultural, like open air cinemas, old Peruvian flats and the Chelsea Hotel. Funny old drag queen karaoke bars…

DS: I photographed some of the famous drag queens here in New York. They are just such great creatures to photograph; they will do just about anything for the camera. I photographed a famous drag queen named Miss Understood who is the emcee at a drag queen restaurant here named Lucky Cheng’s. We were out in front of Lucky Cheng’s taking photographs and a bus was coming down First Avenue, and I said, “Go out and stop that bus!” and she did! It’s an amazing shot.

NK: Oh. My. God.

DS: If you go on her Wikipedia article it’s there.

NK: That’s so cool. I’m really getting into that whole psychedelic sixties and seventies Paris Is Burning and Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Things like The Cockettes. There seems to be a bit of a revolution coming through that kind of psychedelic drag queen theater.

DS: There are just so few areas left where there is natural edge and art that is not contrived. It’s taking a contrived thing like changing your gender, but in the backdrop of how that is still so socially unacceptable.

NK: Yeah, the theatrics and creativity that go into that really get me. I’m thinking about The Fisher King…do you know that drag queen in The Fisher King? There’s this really bad and amazing drag queen guy in it who is so vulnerable and sensitive. He sings these amazing songs but he has this really terrible drug problem, I think, or maybe it’s a drink problem. It’s so bordering on the line between fabulous and those people you see who are so in love with the idea of beauty and elevation and the glitz and the glamor of love and beauty, but then there’s this really dark, tragic side. It’s presented together in this confusing and bewildering way, and it always just gets to me. I find it really intriguing.

DS: How are you received in the Pakistani community?

NK: [Laughs] I have absolutely no idea! You should probably ask another question, because I have no idea. I don’t have contact with that side of my family anymore.

DS: When you see artists like Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse out on these suicidal binges of drug use, what do you think as a musician? What do you get from what you see them go through in their personal lives and with their music?

NK: It’s difficult. The drugs thing was never important to me, it was the music and expression and the way he delivered his music, and I think there’s a strange kind of romantic delusion in the media, and the music media especially, where they are obsessed with people who have terrible drug problems. I think that’s always been the way, though, since Billie Holiday. The thing that I’m questioning now is that it seems now the celebrity angle means that the lifestyle takes over from the actual music. In the past people who had musical genius, unfortunately their personal lives came into play, but maybe that added a level of romance, which I think is pretty uncool, but, whatever. I think that as long as the lifestyle doesn’t precede the talent and the music, that’s okay, but it always feels uncomfortable for me when people’s music goes really far and if you took away the hysteria and propaganda of it, would the music still stand up? That’s my question. Just for me, I’m just glad I don’t do heavy drugs and I don’t have that kind of problem, thank God. I feel that’s a responsibility you have, to present that there’s a power in integrity and strength and in the lifestyle that comes from self-love and assuredness and positivity. I think there’s a real big place for that, but it doesn’t really get as much of that “Rock n’ Roll” play or whatever.

DS: Is it difficult to come to the United States to play considering all the wars we start?

NK: As an English person I feel equally as responsible for that kind of shit. I think it is a collective consciousness that allows violence and those kinds of things to continue, and I think that our governments should be ashamed of themselves. But at the same time, it’s a responsibility of all of our countries, no matter where you are in the world to promote a peaceful lifestyle and not to consciously allow these conflicts to continue. At the same time, I find it difficult to judge because I think that the world is full of shades of light and dark, from spectrums of pure light and pure darkness, and that’s the way human nature and nature itself has always been. It’s difficult, but it’s just a process, and it’s the big creature that’s the world; humankind is a big creature that is learning all the time. And we have to go through these processes of learning to see what is right.

 

Wikinews interviews U.S. Libertarian presidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wikinews held an exclusive interview with Wayne Allyn Root, one of the candidates for the Libertarian Party nomination for the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

Root is the founder and chairman of Winning Edge International Inc., a sports handicapping company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, he is an author and a television producer, as well as an on-screen personality both as host and guest on several talk shows.

Root, a long-time Republican, declared his candidacy for the Libertarian Party on May 4, 2007.

He says he is concerned about the qualities of many who run for president, and fears that they do not know the needs of American citizens. He also says that they cater to big businesses instead of small ones.

He has goals of limiting the federal government and believes that the US went into Iraq for wrong reasons. A strong supporter of the War on Terror, he feels that it was mishandled. He has conservative values and came from a blue collar family in New York. He graduated from Columbia University with fellow presidential hopeful Barack Obama in 1983.

Root believes that America is in trouble and hopes to change that if elected.

 

Building collapses, leaving four dead in Hong Kong

Monday, February 1, 2010

A decades-old building collapsed along Ma Tau Wai Road in Hong Kong at about 1:30pm on Friday, local time. That building was located at 45J, Ma Tau Wai Road in Hung Hom. A shop on its ground floor was undergoing renovations when the building collapsed. The street was full of dust afterwards. Firefighters arrived at the scene to search survivors and they asked residents in the buildings nearby to evacuate the area. Those buildings included 45G and 45H.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang called for an investigation into the cause of the building collapse. He aimed at preventing similar incidents. The government required all old buildings with similar structures to undergo inspection, according to Secretary for Development Carrie Lam.

The government has confirmed that four people were dead in the incident. Rescue efforts ended on Saturday morning when the government confirmed that no one was missing. Lam visited the scene on Saturday afternoon and sought advice from the police and Buildings Department. The police has started its investigation into the incident. Secretary for Labour & Welfare Matthew Cheung said that the government would do its best to meet the victims’ needs.

The collapsed building was more than 50 years old. The government had inspected its five-storey structure before the incident and had ordered repairs. After the tragedy, the government announced that it would inspect buildings older than 50 years in one month. The government has restricted access to buildings at 45G and 45H as they were in danger.

 

Category:July 14, 2010

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Viktor Schreckengost dies at 101

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Viktor Schreckengost, the father of industrial design and creator of the Jazz Bowl, an iconic piece of Jazz Age art designed for Eleanor Roosevelt during his association with Cowan Pottery died yesterday. He was 101.

Schreckengost was born on June 26, 1906 in Sebring, Ohio, United States.

Schreckengost’s peers included the far more famous designers Raymond Loewy and Norman Bel Geddes.

In 2000, the Cleveland Museum of Art curated the first ever retrospective of Schreckengost’s work. Stunning in scope, the exhibition included sculpture, pottery, dinnerware, drawings, and paintings.

 

Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Buffalo, New York —A proposed hotel that was supposed to be built at the corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo, New York is apparently off the table. The former proposal was going to be called The Elmwood Village Hotel and would have consisted of 72 rooms and cost between $7 to $10 million American dollars to build.

Today several unknown individuals were seen removing a sign that was dedicated to the “Elmwood Village Gateway,” which signifies the beginning of the Elmwood Village at the formerly proposed project’s location.

Nearly an hour later the men replaced the sign with a different and unexpected sign: “For Sale: 5 commercial parcels and 1 carriage house, By: Owner.” Those 5 “parcels” are 1109-1121 Elmwood and 999 Forest Avenue, which is located in an illegal alley, according to the City of Buffalo, behind the 5 other properties on Elmwood. Hans Mobius owns all properties named in the sale.

Sam Savarino, CEO of Savarino Companies never owned the properties and has repeatadly told Wikinews in exclusive interviews that he still had a “contract to buy the properties” and on October 2, 2006 told Wikinews in an exclusive interview that he “extended” the “agreement to purchase the property[s] and will have it under contract for what we hope is a sufficient period of time.”

“He [Mobius] is undoubtedly concerned because he has lost some tenants and is a bit impatient. I think he has properly portrayed the situation,” said Savarino in an exclusive interview with Wikinews.

Savarino also says that there may be “legal issues” to work out now, before anything else can move forward, regarding the proposal.

“There are some legal complexities that must be sorted out before anything can happen there,” added Savarino.

The welcome sign was; however, not removed entirely. The sign was placed, facing the same direction of north, on the side of the Forest Plaza Art Gallery, a new art gallery located on the corner of Forest and Elmwood.

Nancy Pollina, owner of Don Apparel which was located at 1109 Elmwood, but closed on October 14, 2006 considers this a possible “victory” in regards to the lawsuit filed against the hotel to stop it from being built, alleging that several laws were broken, including not performing an Environmental Impact Study before the proposal was approved by the city, during its approval and the proposal was “rushed.” Patricia Morris, who operates Don Apparel with Pollina, Angeline Genovese and Evelyn Bencinich, owners of residences on Granger Place which abut the rear of the proposed site, Nina Freudenheim, a resident of nearby Penhurst Park, and Sandra Girage, the owner of a two-family residence on Forest Avenue less than a hundred feet from the proposed hotel’s sole entrance and exit driveway, were also plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They filed the suit with a lawyer representing them, Arthur J. Giacalone, on April 25, 2006 in New York State Supreme Court, but the case has never gone to a courtroom.

Giacalone believes that a press release issued in July regarding the project was nothing but a statement to “save face,” but that the placement of the for sale sign might be a way of convincing Savarino to speed up the sale of the properties.

“I thought all along that Savarino’s July press release might be no more than an effort to save face. But we have no way of knowing. Similarly, Mobius might have put the for-sale sign up in an attempt to pressure Savarino into closing the deal. There’s no way to tell,” said Giacalone in an exclusive interview with Wikinews.

In regards to the lawsuit, Giacalone thinks it may now be in “limbo.”

“The lawsuit still sits in limbo,” added Giacalone.

 

Homeowner’s Insurance In Mt. Juliet: A Multifaceted Insurance Policy

byAlma Abell

If you own a home in the Mt. Juliet area, you know how important that house is to you. It’s probably represents the largest purchase you’ve ever made and when you invest that kind of the money into a home, you want it to be as protected as possible. For that reason, people choose to have insurance policies to protect their home. Some people choose these policies, other people are required to have them, especially if their home is still under financing. Regardless of the reasons, Homeowner’s Insurance in Mt. Juliet is important to have. It’s also important to know what to look for in a home insurance policy.

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Is important to understand that Homeowner’s Insurance covers a number of different things. For an example, should the structure become damaged by fire or a weather-related event. It’s also important to understand that a home insurance policy will protect you against accidents that happen at your home where somebody becomes injured. If the injured party decides to sue you, your home insurance policy will offer compensation to avoid legal action.

Home insurance also protects your home and your possessions against theft should your home be burglarized. Home insurance will cover the repairs of your home in similar fashion to Renter’s Insurance which will also cover the loss and the replacement of personal possessions like televisions, jewelry and other items that are typically stolen.

It’s also important to understand what home insurance doesn’t cover. Perhaps one of the biggest issues is flood damage. Unfortunately, most homes are subject to flooding in one way or the other. Whether your home is in an area that is susceptible to floods or whether your home as most homes can be is at risk of flooding effects of flash flooding, most home insurance policies don’t cover floods. That’s why extra insurance is going to be needed to make sure your home is protected outside of the standard home insurance policy.

There is a wide range of different coverages provided by Homeowner’s Insurance in Mt. Juliet that can be important in protecting your home and your possessions. If you’re thinking about buying a home and you need a home insurance policy or you’re unhappy with your current policy, you should look around and compare different policies to see which one offers you and your home the best protection. Visit their website

 

Nineteen activists killed by Israeli commandos aboard aid convoy bound for Gaza

Monday, May 31, 2010

 Notice — August 24, 2015 The title of this article states nineteen were killed, whereas the body more accurately reflects the facts of the time by recording between nine and nineteen deaths. The correct figure at the time was in fact nine deaths. 

Between nine and nineteen Free Gaza Movement activists died today in international waters when Israeli Defense Force commandos boarded vessels attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Benjamin Netanyahu gave the death toll to be at least 10. Israeli television says that 19 people were killed and 36 were wounded in the confrontation.

The six vessels, called the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, were carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid destined for the Gaza Strip, including water purifiers, prefabricated homes and medical equipment. Passengers include several European members of parliament and MPs from Germany, Belgium, Algeria and Israel.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that “the organizers are well-known for their ties with global jihad, al-Qaida and Hamas. They have a history of arms smuggling and deadly terror.” The Israeli military had declared it would not allow the ships to reach Gaza and said the activists were a “provocation intended to delegitimise Israel”. The Israeli Navy had been transmitting messages throughout the night ordering them to turn back, stating: “If you ignore this order and enter the blockaded area, the Israeli navy will be forced to take all the necessary measures in order to enforce this blockade,” and that the Gaza region was a protected military zone.

Huwaida Arraf, one of the organizers, had said that the flotilla was “fully prepared for the different scenarios” that might arise, and organizers were hopeful that Israeli authorities would “do what’s right” and not stop the convoy. She said, “we fully intend to go to Gaza regardless of any intimidation of threats of violence against us,” and that “they are going to have to forcefully stop us.”

The pre-dawn boarding took place in international waters around 150 kilometres (90 miles) off the coast of Gaza. Footage from on the flotilla’s lead vessel, the MV Mavi Marmara, and video released by the IDF, showed armed Israeli commandos boarding the ship from helicopters and fighting with activists. According to the Israel Defense Forces, the activists attacked the commandos with batons, knives and axes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said;

They were mobbed. They were clubbed, they were beaten, stabbed. There was even a report of gunfire and our soldiers had to defend themselves, defend their lives or they would have been killed.

A spokesman for the flotilla, Greta Berlin accused Israeli troops of indiscriminately shooting at “unarmed civilians”. Israel said troops found weapons aboard the Gaza flotilla which were used against the IDF. The allegations were rejected by both the Free Gaza Movement, IHH and Egypt’s foreign minister, who said the boats had been searched before they left port.

The images are certainly not pleasant. I can only voice regret at all the fatalities

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon said he was “shocked by reports of killings and injuries of people on boats carrying supplies for Gaza” and called for “a full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place” and urged Israel to “urgently provide a full explanation”. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for three days of mourning to commemorate what he called the “massacre” of protesters. Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader in Gaza, has dubbed the Israeli action as “a crime”.

Turkey’s prime minister describes Israeli raid as ‘state terrorism’ and said Israel violated international laws. Some of the ships were sailing under Turkish flags and media reports indicate that Turkish nationals are among the dead. Turkey demanded an “urgent explanation” from Israel and warned of “irreparable consequences” after the incident. Netanyahu said the raid was self defense. Turkey is withdrawing its ambassador to Israel and is calling on the U.N. Security Council to convene in an emergency session about Israel.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has called on Israeli authorities to launch a “full inquiry” into the killing. She “reiterates the European Union’s position regarding Gaza – the continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counterproductive.” Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he was “deeply concerned” and France said “nothing can justify” the incident. Sweden, Austria, Greece and Spain have said it was important to “quickly establish” what happened, and have summoned the Israeli ambassadors.

The British Foreign Secretary William Hague has called on the Government of Israel to open all crossings for aid to enter Gaza and said Israel should “address the serious concerns about the deterioration in the humanitarian and economic situation and about the effect on a generation of young Palestinians?.” Russia calls attention to the fact that the Israeli interception of a Gaza-bound international aid flotilla took place in international waters, which it said represents a gross violation of international law.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek has urged the international Middle East mediators Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union to persuade Israel to end its blockade of Gaza. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Europe. In Greece and France there was clashes with police. There were protests in cities around the Ireland, UK and Italy. In the Middle East there were protests in Turkey, Lebanon and Iran.

The White House said that the United States “deeply regrets” the loss of life and injuries and was working to understand the circumstances surrounding this “tragedy”. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, comprising of 57 countries, described the flotilla incident as “a serious escalation and a flagrant violation of the international law and human values.”

The media has not been given access to the politicians, activists and journalists who were in the convoy or information about deaths and injuries. Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld police say it will deport the roughly 50 of the 671 activists in the flotilla except those who refuse to cooperate. The other activists have been sent to jail in the southern desert town of Beersheba after refusing to identify themselves and will remain in detention.

Irishman Dennis Halliday, a former assistant secretary general of the United Nations and the Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, are aboard the only boat left in the convoy, the Irish MV Rachel Corrie vessel, named after Rachel Corrie. The vessel is now on the way to the Gaza Strip. The Irish Prime Minister Mr Cowen said he believed Israel’s blockade of humanitarian assistance to Gaza was illegal under international law.