9 US soldiers killed in Iraq bombing; 20 others wounded

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A suicide car bomber detonated explosives at a U.S. military outpost in the Province of Diyala in the city of Baqubah, Iraq. It killed at least 9 United States soldiers and wounded at least 20 other soldiers. 15 were treated at a medical post and later released to return to duty. The remaining 5 were transferred to another medical center where they will receive further medical attention.

“We have seen a lot of recent attacks up in Diyala… that have been part of the fight for the province,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Garver, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq.

A militant group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq claimed in a statement they posted on a website: “Two knights from the Islamic State in Iraq … [in] two booby-trapped trucks hit the heart of the Crusader American headquarters in the region of Diyala.”

At least 3,333 American troops have been killed since 2003 when the U.S. invaded Iraq.

 

Finnish terrestrial analogue TV network shut down

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The terrestrial analogue television broadcasts in Finland ended in September 1, 2007, at 04:00 local time, marking the transition to the digital DVB-T standard. DVB broadcasts were started in 2001, Users of terrestrial TV are no longer able to receive the formerly nationally available TV channels – YLE TV1, YLE TV2, MTV3, and Nelonen – without set-top boxes or TV sets with built-in digital receivers. SVT Europa is also no longer available in analogue networks.

Cable networks are permitted to make the analogue mode available until the end of February 2008.

While over 75% of households already use digital TV, as of mid-August, over 220 000 households that depend on terrestrial broadcasts have not yet purchased a set-top box. There are also areas where digital terrestrial broadcasts are not yet available. This is being remedied through relay transmitters that will be set up over the following months.

 

British Government warns against tax breaks for Scientology

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The new British coalition government has warned local authorities in the United Kingdom not to provide tax breaks to branches of the Church of Scientology. After an investigation by The Guardian newspaper revealed that several local authorities have granted Scientology tax breaks worth over a million pounds, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles intervened to urge councils to end the practice.

Pickles noted in a statement that Scientology was not officially recognised in the UK as a religion or a registered charity and was not eligible for tax relief. Pickles commented, “I do not believe the majority of the public would want their own council to be giving special tax breaks to such a controversial organisation.”

I do not believe the majority of the public would want their own council to be giving special tax breaks to such a controversial organisation.

The minister’s intervention followed the disclosure by The Guardian that at least four local authorities have given Scientology lucrative tax discounts on branches in their areas. These included:

  • The City of London Corporation, which gave an 80% tax exemption worth £1.3 million to the flagship Scientology centre in the City of London. The corporation justified the exemption on the basis that Scientology could be considered to be a charity either for the advancement of religion “or other purposes beneficial to the community”. It said that it feared being sued by the organisation if it discontinued the exemption.
  • Westminster City Council granted 80% rates relief to the Scientology Celebrity Centre in the Bayswater district of London. This saved Scientology £165,303 over the past ten years, though as of July 2010 the centre is no longer in use. The council determined that Scientology was a “non-registered charity” that is “beneficial to the community”.
  • Birmingham City Council awarded the Church of Scientology Religious Education College an 80% tax discount on the grounds that the property was an educational institution.
  • The City of Sunderland gave the Church of Scientology’s branch in the city tax relief worth £30,000 over five years.

Camden London Borough Council refused to disclose whether and how much tax relief had been granted to the Scientology branch in the London Borough of Camden. Other local authorities, including Manchester City Council and Mid Sussex District Council, said that they charged Scientology the full commercial rate.

In response to The Guardian report, Eric Pickles issued a statement saying that Scientology should not receive privileged tax status and did not deserve to do so, “Tolerance and freedom of expression are important British values, but this does not mean that the likes of Church of Scientology deserve favoured tax treatment over and above other business premises. The Church of Scientology is not a registered charity, since the Charity Commission has ruled that it does not provide a public benefit. Nor are its premises a recognised place of worship. Councils may award charitable relief. They should take into consideration the Charity Commission’s rulings when weighing up whether to do so. I do not believe the majority of the public would want their own council to be giving special tax breaks to such a controversial organisation.”

Scientology is very popular with those who have visited our churches…

The controversy was the latest in a series of disputes involving Scientology’s tax status in the UK. Scientology is not officially recognised as a religion. The Charity Commission for England and Wales rejected an application in 1999 by Scientology for charitable status, ruling that its activities did not meet the “public benefit” test. However, in 2000 Scientology obtained exemption from Value Added Tax (VAT) on the grounds that its services were educational and non-profitable. It successfully sued HM Revenue and Customs for the return of £8 million in overpaid VAT.

A spokesman for the Church of Scientology told The Guardian, “Scientology is very popular with those who have visited our churches, met with Scientologists and observed or utilised our numerous community activities that effectively address drug abuse, illiteracy, declining moral values, human rights violations, criminality and more. Local council authorities, government bodies in this country and many others, and the European court of human rights have all recognised the religious nature of Scientology or the fact that Scientologists are actively helping those in their communities as a direct reflection of their religious beliefs.”

Birmingham City Council told the local Sunday Mercury newspaper, “We have noted Mr Pickles’ comments and will take them on board.”

 

Oil spill spotted along Mississippi River

Sunday, September 4, 2005

In Louisiana, southeast of New Orleans, two storage tanks estimated to be filled with up to 160,000 barrels (6.7 million gallons) of oil are reported to be leaking into the Mississippi River. It was first noticed on September 1, 2005 by an aircraft flying overhead. Officials are not certain whether the tanks are the cause of the leak or how full the tanks are. Inspection of the storage tanks from the ground is impossible due to flooding in the area.

In comparison, the Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska leaked between 11 and 35 million gallons of oil.

Due to massive efforts directed toward search and rescue in New Orleans, the Coast Guard has not been able to look into the matter.

 

Smoke from massive warehouse fire in Buffalo, New York USA can be seen 40 miles away

Monday, May 14, 2007

Buffalo, New York —A massive warehouse complex of at least 5 buildings caught on fire in Buffalo, New York on 111 Tonawanda Street, sending a plume of thick, jet black colored smoke into the air that could be seen as far away as 40 miles.

As of 6:40 a.m., the fire was under control, and firefighters were attempting to stop it from spreading, but could not get to the center of the fire because of severe amounts of debris. Later in the morning, the fire was extinguished.

“The fire is mostly under debris at this point. It’s under control, but it’s under some debris. We really can’t get to it. We’re just going to have to keep on pouring water on it so it doesn’t spread,” said Thomas Ashe, the fire chief for the North Buffalo based fire division who also added that at one point, at least 125 firefighters were on the scene battling the blaze. One suffered minor injures and was able to take himself to the hospital to seek medical attention.

Shortly after 8:00 p.m. as many as 3 explosions rocked the warehouse sending large mushroom clouds of thick black smoke into the air. After the third explosion, heat could be felt more than 100 feet away. The fire started in the front, one story building then quickly spread to three others, but fire fighters managed to stop the flames from spreading onto the 3 story building all the way at the back.

According to a Buffalo Police officer, who wished not to be named, the fire began at about 7:00 p.m. [Eastern time], starting as a one alarm fire. By 8:00 p.m., three fire companies were on the scene battling the blaze. Police also say that a smaller fire was reported in the same building on Saturday night, which caused little damage.

At the start of the fire, traffic was backed up nearly 4 miles on the 198 expressway going west toward the 190 Interstate and police had to shut down the Tonawanda street exit because the road is too close to the fire.

At one point, traffic on the 198 was moving so slow, at least a dozen people were seen getting out of their cars and walking down the expressway to watch the fire. That prompted as many as 10 police cars to be dispatched to the scene to force individuals back into their cars and close off one of the 2 lanes on the westbound side.

One woman, who wished not to be named as she is close to the owner of the warehouse, said the building is filled with “classic cars, forklifts, and money” and that owner “does not have insurance” coverage on the property. The building is not considered abandoned, but firefighters said that it is vacant.

Officials in Fort Erie, Ontario were also swamped with calls to fire departments when the wind blew the smoke over the Niagra River and into Canada.

It is not known what caused the fire, but a car is suspected to have caught on fire and there are reports from police and hazmat crews, that there were also large barrels of diesel fuel being stored in one building. Firefighters say the cause of the blaze is being treated as “suspicious.” The ATF is investigating the fire and will bring dogs in to search the debris.

 

Category:Mining

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England: Multi-storey carpark in Liverpool gutted by fire, 1,300 vehicles destroyed

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A fire on Sunday night in the seven-storey carpark for the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England destroyed almost all the vehicles parked inside and led to cancellation of the final evening of the Liverpool International Horse Show and evacuation of nearby blocks of flats. The blaze reportedly started with a parked Range Rover Discovery.

Investigators with the fire brigade stated that they believe the fire began with an accidental engine fire in the Range Rover at about 4.30 pm. The first call was made at 4.42 and firefighters arrived eight minutes after that. Ultimately twelve engines and 85 firefighters were involved in combatting the blaze. Aerial appliances were used and also three high-volume pumps. Fed by the fuel in vehicles parked inside, the temperature of the fire in the carpark is believed to have reached as high as 1,000°C. It was too hot to be extinguished with water from hydrants, so a high-volume pump was used to draw water from the River Mersey, and two more were brought from other fire brigades in the region.

The carpark has seven storeys and a capacity of 1,600 vehicles, and approximately 1,300 were parked in it when the fire broke out. According to Dan Stephens, chief fire officer for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, almost all of them were destroyed, with the exception of a few parked on the top level and at corners. “With these very high temperatures, you were never going to put the fire out without the whole building taking hold. The speed at which the fire spreads means you simply aren’t going to put it out,” said Stephens.

The carpark itself was severely damaged; according to Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool. It is not in danger of collapsing but will have to be demolished, which will be difficult with the many burned-out cars still inside it, Anderson told the BBC.

According to Stephens, there were no serious injuries: one woman injured her hand, and two people were treated for smoke inhalation. A spokesman for the Echo Arena also stated that all animals were safe. All horses were successfully evacuated from the carpark and then removed from the stables after smoke spread to them. Six dogs were also rescued unharmed, two on a lower level in the early stages of the fire and four that had been left in a car on the top level, freed by firefighters on Monday after the fire was put out.

The final evening of the four-day Liverpool International Horse Show had been scheduled to begin at 7.30, and had to be cancelled. Many attendees were stranded in the city on New Year’s Eve night. Merseyside police directed people to the Pullman Hotel, where Red Cross assistance was available, and the Liverpool City Council set up an assistance centre at the Lifestyles Gym. A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers has said that insurance companies will “move very quickly” to reimburse owners whose vehicles were destroyed.

Nearby blocks of flats were evacuated because of the smoke. Eyewitnesses reported hearing what they at first thought were firecrackers, then “multiple explosions”, “bangs and popping”, “the bangs of car windows exploding”. People reported leaving everything in their cars, including their cellphones, and running for their lives.

Mayor Anderson tweeted that cuts to fire services over the last two years made it significantly harder to fight the fire and might have caused it not to be controllable. He also suggested that fire safety in multi-storey carparks had not been sufficiently considered and that installing sprinklers in them might help stop future fires before they become unmanageable, in a letter to Nick Hurd, a member of Parliament.

 

Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed further

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

Friday, March 10, 2006

Buffalo, New York —The Common Council of Buffalo voted on Tuesday to send the Elmwood Village Hotel proposal “to committee for further discussion”, after citing the need for more public involvement.

The Elmwood Village Hotel is a development proposal by the Savarino Construction Services Corporation, a project designed by the architect Karl Frizlen of The Frizlen Group. The hotel would be placed on the southeast corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo.

To make way for the project, at least five buildings located at 1109 to 1121 Elmwood Ave would be demolished. At least two properties on Forest Avenue could also be demolished. The Elmwood properties, according to Eva Hassett, Vice President of Savarion Construction, are “under contract”, but it is unclear if Savarino Construction actually owns the Elmwood properties. Hans Mobius, a former mayorial candidate, is still believed to be the current owner the properties. Mobius also owns 607 Forest Avenue.

The properties 605 and 607 Forest Avenue could also be included in the proposal according to Hassett.

“We would use a Special Development Plan to rezone 1119-1121 Elmwood and 605 Forest to a C-2 zoning category,” stated Hassett. It is possible that Savarino Construction may try to obtain a variance for 605 Forest, which would allow them to enforce eminent domain, should the hotel be allowed to go forward.

The building at 607 Forest was also discussed to be rezoned, but it is unclear what the plans would be for that property. During the February 28 Common Council meeting, Hassett stated that the properties 605 and 607 were “now off the agenda”.

Pano Georgiadis, owner of Pano’s Restaurant at 1081 Elmwood, owns the property at 605 Forest and attended Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

“Having a hotel is a bright idea. We all love the idea of a hotel, but the way that it is presented, is wishful thinking. This hotel does not fit. It’s like putting two gallons of water in a gallon jug, it does not fit. At the last meeting, the architect admitted that they are planning to put the undergound parking lot and the hotel, right at the property line. If I open my window, I will be able to touch the wall, that goes fifty feet high”, said Georgiadis.

“There is a problem having a seventy-two room hotel and fifty-five parking spaces. That means that all the other cars will spill all over the neighborhood. The footprint is simply too small. If you have a bigger [parking] lot, and a smaller hotel, I will welcome a hotel. I have a parking lot at my own business, and I am chasing people all day long. Remember, the city says it has ‘zero tolerance [for illegal parking]’. Try telling that to the guy from Albany who came to see his kids, that are going to Buffalo State, who would get tickets totaling over a hundred dollars”, added Georgiadis.

The city’s Planning Board is scheduled to meet on March 14, 2006 at 9:00 a.m. about the proposal. Although a discussion will take place, no vote is expected to be taken.

At the moment, none of the properties are zoned for a hotel. Savarino Construction plans on asking for a C2 zoning permit. If that does not work, they plan to implement a new zoning plan called a “special development plan” which would allow for only a hotel on the site. That zone would not be able to be changed.

“This [project] justifies Mobius’s refusal to invest in any maitenance[sic] or improvements”, on the properties said Clarence Carnahan, a local resident. “Where were the Council persons over the years? Where were the city inspectors over the years, to make sure that he maintained and improved his properties? The government was supposed to be protecting, not being preditorial. I see a predatorial issue here when it comes to this hotel. Over the years: Why has the local government been disfunctional when it came to Mobius’s properties? Refusal to invest in improvements, doesn’t that sound like a slumlord? Maybe I am missing a point here, but what kind of messages does this send to other slumlords that havn’t[sic] been jailed or fined? It’s [the hotel] trying to be pushed through.”

Carnahan also presented signs for residents and or business owners who are opposed to the hotel, that could be placed in windows or on stakes in the yard. Some of the signs said, ‘No tell hotel’, ‘Hans off, no hotel’, ‘It takes more than a hotel to make a village’. and ‘Keep Elmwood free, no hotel’. Carnahan plans on making more signs for a protest to be held on Saturday March 18, at 2:00 p.m. (EST) on Elmwood and Forest. Some signs were given to individuals after the meeting.

“First things first, Hans is the problem, and I don’t think it has been addressed. Let’s roll back the clock on this project. What can we do with Hans? There is such thing as eminent domain, which could be of greater interest to the community, to seize the property at its lowest assessed value”, said Nancy Pollina, co-owner of Don Apparel with Patty Morris at 1119 Elmwood. “There are so many ideas that have not been explored and we are about to give this parcel away, to a big developer.”

Mobius has not returned any calls by Wikinews regarding the situation.

A freelance journalist writing for Wikinews has obtained a letter, exclusively, addressed to one of the five business owners from Hans Mobius stating:

There is a proposal to develop my property which you are currently renting. Because of opposition to this development, it does not look like it will happen. I will let you know if there any changes.

Despite the letter, there have been no plans or decisions made to end the proposal.

To date, none of the business owners or residents of 1119-1121 Elmwood have received an eviction notice.

Business owners and residents gave an indication of what they would like to see happen at the corner; a project similar to one done locally last year. There, developers renovated two buildings on Auburn and Elmwood Avenues, merging the buildings into one thus allowing for more shop space. Among some of the shops to move in after the development were Cone Five Pottery, The Ruby Slipper, and Abraham’s Jewelers. Prior to the renovation work, the left building in the picture was boarded up for several years. Many of the concerned locals would like to see a similar development on Forest and Elmwood.

Rocco Termini, a developer in Buffalo, proposed a similar design at the February 28 community meeting

In an interview after the February 28 meeting, Termini stated, “I will be willing to take a look at this myself, or I would be more than happy to be partners with Sam, Sam Savarino”, who is President and Chief Executive Officer of Savarino Construction Services Corp.

So far Savarino Construction has no plans to team up with Termini.

 

Bryan brothers announce retirement from Davis Cup

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

On Sunday, the Bryan brothers announced their retirement from the United States’ Davis Cup team. Twins Bob and Mike Bryan have participated in the tennis tournament representing the US for almost fourteen years.

Mike and Bob Bryan hold the record of winning sixteen grand slam titles together. The 38-year-old duo made the announcement via Instagram with Bob saying, “Mike and I want to formally announce our decision to step down from our role as active members of the U.S. Davis Cup team”. They won the Davis Cup for the USA in 2007 calling it “one of the greatest highlights” of their career and first represented the country in 2003.

The duo defeated their compatriot Brian Baker and his Croatian partner Nikola Mekti? 6–3, 7–6 in the Australian Open’s Round of 16 today. They have won six Australian Open together. They have won an Olympics gold medal in London in 2012 and one bronze medal in Beijing in 2008. In mixed-doubles, Bob betters the two winning seven Grand Slams as compared to Mike’s four.

The United States is to play against Switzerland in the upcoming Davis Cup tournament next month.

 

Florida man charged with stealing Wi-Fi

Update since publication

This article mentions that Wi-Fi stands for “Wireless Fidelity”, although this is disputed.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

A Florida man is being charged with 3rd degree felony for logging into a private Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) Internet access point without permission. Benjamin Smith III, 41, is set for a pre-trial hearing this month in the first case of its kind in the United States.

This kind of activity occurs frequently, but often goes undetected by the owners of these wireless access points (WAPs). Unauthorized users range from casual Web browsers, to users sending e-mails, to users involved in pornography or even illegal endeavours.

According to Richard Dinon, owner of the WAP Smith allegedly broke into, Smith was using a laptop in an automobile while parked outside Dinon’s residence.

There are many steps an owner of one of these access points can take to secure them from outside users. Dinon reportedly knew how to take these steps, but had not bothered because his “neighbors are older.”