UK Wikinews Shorts: July 8, 2013
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UK Wikinews Shorts: July 8, 2013



A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, July 8, 2013.


Arson suspected in Namdaemun gate fire in Seoul
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Arson suspected in Namdaemun gate fire in Seoul



Monday, February 11, 2008

Around 8:50 p.m. Korean Standard Time (11:50 UTC) on Sunday, a fire broke out at Sungnyemun Gate (more commonly referred to as Namdaemun Gate), one of the most iconic South Korean landmarks, located in the center of Seoul.

Approximately 30 firetrucks and 90 firefighters were sent to the site and were able to bring the initial blaze under control by around 10:30 p.m.

However, around 10:40 p.m., the fire rekindled at the second floor of the gate, as firefighters were in the process of extinguishing embers. By 11:00 p.m. the fire had spread over to the roof of the gate. The Korean Fire Department reports that the second blaze had started as the Department was seeking permission from the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration to dismantle parts of the gate in order to stop any possible further fires from spreading.

At about 12:40 a.m. of the 11th, the second floor had collapsed, and the fire was spreading to the first floor; at 1:50 a.m. the first floor collapsed.

Officials have yet to reach a conclusion on the origin of fire, and have presented three possibilities; arson, electric faults or accidental origins.

As the interior of the second floor of the Gate is off-limits to civilians, the Korean Fire Department initially eliminated the possibility of arson, and stated that an electric short or spark from the electric lighting could have been the cause. This possibility was later discarded as a firefighter reported, after examination, that there was no electric wiring on the second floor, as Korean Cultural Heritage Administration regulations prohibit it.

Three eye-witnesses have submitted testimonies. A taxi driver has reported seeing a man in his fifties climb up the staircase carrying a shopping bag, shortly after seeing sparks. Police have stated that the driver’s testimony differs in several crucial factors from the other two witnesses.

Firefighters have reported finding two cigarette lighters on the second floor, inceasing the possibility of arson as the cause.

Police have been unable to obtain evidence from the four closed circuit televisions(CCTVs) installed around the gate.

Officials of the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration have stated that restoration will take two to three years and will cost 20 billion won, equivalent of 21 million USD.

Officials report that no sprinklers or fire alarms were installed inside the gate, and only eight fire extinguishers were placed on both the first and second floor.

Namdaemun, built during the Joseon Dynasty, is the oldest wooden structure in Seoul and was entitled ‘National Treasure No. 1’ in 1962 after restoration.

In recent years, arsons started by evangelical Christians have damaged many Buddhist temples and Korean momuments.


Denny’s Super Bowl free ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’ brings 2 million diners
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Denny’s Super Bowl free ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’ brings 2 million diners



Friday, February 6, 2009

Denny’s 1,600 chain restaurants across North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, were slammed for eight hours Tuesday with hungry patrons standing on sidewalks for nearly two hours to take advantage of the $5.99 “Grand Slam Breakfast” giveaway.

Denny’s, a dining chain with annual revenue of about $900 million, has advertised in a TV commercial Sunday during the Super Bowl XLIII that it would give away its signature breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time Tuesday, at all its restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, while supplies lasted.

Denny’s Diner has promoted the iconic dish giveaway heavily, with a bold 30-second appeal ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl 43 on Sunday, plus another 15-second ad during the post-game show, offering a free breakfast to some 90 million viewers. In addition, it has placed a full-page ad in USA Today‘s Monday edition. The promotion was further announced on The Today Show and notices were also sent out to the chain’s “Denny’s Breakfast Club” members.

The NBC ad, which was bought to unveil a new promotion for customers squeezed by the recession, may have cost as much as $3 million, said Nelson Marchioli, CEO of Denny’s Corp. Super Bowl XLIII’s 30-second commercial time slot costs $2.4 million–$3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs.

The game was televised live by the US NBC Sunday Night Football and Canada’s CTV Television Network. BayTSP has reported that, “as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, commercials that initially aired during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII broadcast subsequently had been watched online more than 28 million times.”

“The promotion has a total cost of $5 million U.S., which includes $3 million for the commercial on NBC,” said a Denny’s spokesman, noting also that the company received about $50 million in news coverage, most of which was positive. According to a Denny’s representative, two million people walked through the restaurant chains’ doors Tuesday, and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour.

With the “Denny’s Feeds America” promotion, the company has reported 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning. Denny’s shares rose 6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.98 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range of $1.18 to $4.10 over the past 52 weeks.

“Denny’s free Grand Slam” has ranked in the top 10 Google searches early Tuesday and fell to No. 18 by the end of the promotion, while “denny s locations” was #9 on Google Trends, which tracks fast-rising searches. It has also held spots No. 1 (Denny’s) and 7 (Grand Slam) on Twitter‘s trending topics. It has generated much chat on Twitter, garnering 1,700 tweets on Tuesday, compared with its average of 59. Doritos, winner of the USA TODAY survey for best Super Bowl spot ad, had 933 mentions after reaching a peak of almost 3,300.

The idea of the TV ad was to get people to come in and re-evaluate Denny’s Diner. “A lot of people have forgotten what Denny’s is, or they think they know, while we’ve come out with a whole lot of new products. We felt like we needed to jump start the brand,” Denny’s Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark Chmiel said.

“We’re celebrating the Grand Slam this year,” Chmiel said. According to the company’s financial data, on January 15 Denny’s reported systemwide comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter were down 6.1 percent, compared to a 0.2 percent decline from the same period in 2007.

According to Robert Gonzalez, public relations company Hill & Knowlton spokesman, Denny’s has expected at least 2 million people to eat a free Grand Slam by the end of the promotion. “Every restaurant is packed with people and lines,” Gonzalez said. “Everything today is about fast. People are on the go, and they’re eating fast food. It’s cutting into sit-down dining,” he added.

“Each of the more than 1,500 Denny’s were planning to make about 100 Grand Slams an hour,” Denny’s spokeswoman Cori Rice said. It had predicted it will have served about 1,400 people per location, more than five times the normal volume. “Grand Slam Breakfast” is a four-item option on its menu, consisting of two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. It weighs in at 44 grams of fat, 56 carbohydrates and 770 calories.

Nationwide, Denny’s expected to sell about 2 million Grand Slams — about 15 percent of the annual tally. According to Mark Chmiel, chief marketing operator and executive vice president, the diner chain has reported approximately 2 million meals worth more than $12 million were given away nationwide and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour. It estimated it has earned about $50 million worth of public relations following the free Grand Slam campaign, Chmiel said.

The company is also experimenting with a Grand Slam Burrito and also has introduced for this year, a Grand Slamwich, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese between two slices of bread, with a teaspoon serving. “It already has shown strong consumer appeal,” said Chmiel. The company has received flood of e-mails and letters proving the positive impact of the Grand Slam campaign and commercials on its customers.

Chmiel also announced he’s planning a third major promotion in this year’s third quarter, which happens to include another major sporting event, the World Series. “That’s one we’re definitely looking at,” he said.

Jobless Paris Winslow of downtown San Francisco, California has joined the long line which stretched from the front door on Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, to the corner of Fourth and up the block. “The economy is getting kind of scary. This line looks like those pictures of soup kitchen lines during the 1929 Great Depression,” Winslow said.

“I came all the way from San Francisco for a free $6 meal, Isn’t that pathetic? A year ago, I never would have done this. These days I’m willing to put my ego on the back burner,” said Stephen Weller, a jobless contractor who waited with his dog, Emmett. California Denny’s restaurant managers have issued rain checks (for free chilled meals, as security backed by actual bacon) to anyone who failed to get in by the 2 p.m. deadline.

A big eater could also “Slam It Up” by adding any two additional items for 99 cents each to their meal. Customers on Tuesday were also handed “bounceback” coupon books that include offers for additional free menu items with purchases. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang has eaten five free Grand Slams on Tuesday at five different Denny’s Diners in four hours. He claims to have consumed 4,100 calories at Harwood Heights, 5:36 a.m, at Schiller Park, 6:22 a.m., at Franklin Park, 7:08 a.m., at Melrose Park, 7:41 a.m. and at Grand Slam No. 5 Oak Park, 8:57 a.m.

“The Grand Slam has always been a Denny’s favorite. This free offer is our way of reacquainting America with Denny’s real breakfast and with the Denny’s brand,” Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli said in a statement. In 1977s, the Grand Slam started as a baseball-related promotion in Atlanta, Georgia. Its normal price averages around $5.99. Marchioli said the event was also a way to kick-off its “Year of the Grand Slam” promotion. Denny’s claimed it has sold 12.5 million Grand Slams a year.

“The economy’s tough and people are jumping all the way to fast food to try to figure it out. We all use fast food, whether it’s for time or convenience or for money. But you can go to Denny’s and you don’t have to give up a real breakfast and that was the whole focus of our commercial,” Marchioli explained. McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has done well during this economic meltdown since the global recession pushes people toward less expensive dining options.

McDonald’s has announced plans Wednesday to open 175 new restaurants in China this year despite the global economic crisis, thereby increasing the number of outlets in China by 17 percent, from 1,050 currently. Last month, McDonald’s 2008 net profit has risen 80 percent from 2007 to 4.3 billion dollars.

Marchioli has also introduced Denny’s $4 Weekday Express Slam, which is a streamlined version of the Grand Slam. “I want to take back share. For too long, we have allowed others to take share, whether it was Starbucks or McDonald’s. They’re fine competitors and I don’t expect to take all their business from them, but I’d like a little bit back,” Marchioli noted.

According to Rafi Mohammed, author of “The Art of Pricing,” people love free. “It triggers a Pavlovian response in people,” said Mohammed. If Pavlov’s dogs salivate when a bell rings, Denny’s free Grand Slam breakfast has attracted 2 million hungry customers. “I believe free maximizes trial and doesn’t devalue a product as long as it is a rare event. Aside from the cost, the major downside is that it attracts customers who truly have no intention of coming back,” he added.

According to University of Portland consumer psychology professor Deana Julka, people flock to free promotions amid just a few dollars saving because there’s nothing in life for free. “So when there’s something out there that costs nothing, it creates a psychological rush. Especially in these times when people feel overtaxed or overburden, there’s an internal reward people feel by getting something for free,” she said. “It’s being thrifty and feeling like you beat the system. Free really hits the spot for a lot of people,” Julka added.

“Free is an emotional hot button. When free is concerned, there is no downside – or, at least, we don’t see the downside immediately. So we overvalue everything that is free. People love free stuff, particularly when money’s tight,” said Dan Ariely, a business professor at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

Experts, however, explained these moves need to be done sparingly, since giveaways can teeter in the balance between desperation and a well designed marketing ploy. “Giving your product away for free is not worth it because it undermines your brand value,” said branding expert Rob Frankel, saying people are attached to the idea of it being free, than the actual product itself.

Free giveaways are not anything new in the food industry. “It just feels good when you can get something for free and not have to worry about it coming out of your wallet,” Frankel noted. Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread all have had free coffee and food promos last year. “In November, Starbucks gave away free cup of coffee to anyone who came in on Election Day. Have you taken a look at how Starbucks is doing now?” Last week it has announced it would shut down 300 stores, in addition to the 600 it already planned to close.

On February 24, IHOP will be offering a free shortstack to every customer to encourage donations (in place of the cost) for Childrens Miracle Network. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is a United States-based restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods and is owned by DineEquity. The chain had more than 1950 restaurants in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Since 2006, IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration has raised over $1.85 million. In 2008, over 1.5 million pancakes (12 miles high if they were stacked) were given to customers for donations.

Denny’s (“Denny’s Diner”) is a full-service diner/family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand). The resto chain is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock.

Today, Denny’s operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny’s restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, seven Denny’s locations in New Zealand, and approximately 38 Denny’s diners in the United States. Denny’s headquarters is now located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation that acquired Denny’s in 1987.

Denny’s was historically notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993, though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.

In 2008, Denny’s has ceased to be in the ranks among the top diner chains in the $83 billion breakfast market, whose top five firms — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and IHOP — accounted for 22 percent of the volume. “A lot of consumers have written Denny’s off their let’s-go-there list,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a consulting firm.

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers (15–4) and the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals (12–8) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 NFL season. It was played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadiumin Tampa, Florida. It has an attendance of 70,774 and 98.7 million viewers. Pittsburgh earned its sixth Super Bowl win, thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins.


Endangered Luzon Buttonquail photographed alive by Philippines documentary
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Endangered Luzon Buttonquail photographed alive by Philippines documentary



Sunday, February 22, 2009

According to ornithologists, a rare Philippines buttonquail feared to have gone extinct was recently documented alive by a cameraman inadvertently filming a local market, right before it was sold and headed for the cooking pot. Scientists had suspected the species—listed as “data deficient” on the 2008 International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List Category—was extinct.

Last month, native bird trappers snared and successfully caught the Luzon Buttonquail (Turnix worcesteri or Worcester’s buttonquail) in Dalton Pass, a cold and wind-swept bird passageway in the Caraballo Mountains, in Nueva Vizcaya, located between Cordillera Central and Sierra Madre mountain ranges, in Northern Luzon.

The rare species, previously known to birders only through drawings based on dead museum specimens collected several decades ago, was identified in a documentary filmed in the Philippines called Bye-Bye Birdie.

British birder and WBCP member Desmond Allen was watching a January 26 DVD-video of a documentary, Bye-Bye Birdie, when he recognized the bird in a still image of the credits that lasted less than a second. Allen created a screenshot, which was photographed by their birder-companion, Arnel Telesforo, also a WBCP member,in Nueva Vizcaya’s poultry market, before it was cooked and eaten.

i-Witness: The GMA Documentaries, a Philippine documentary news and public affairs television show aired by GMA Network, had incorporated Telesforo’s photographs and video footage of the live bird in the documentary, that was created by the TV crew led by Mr Howie Severino. The Philippine Network had not realized what they filmed until Allen had informed the crew of interesting discovery.

Mr Severino and the crew were at that time, in Dalton Pass to film “akik”, the traditional practice of trapping wild birds with nets by first attracting them with bright lights on moonless nights. “I’m shocked. I don’t know of any other photos of this. No bird watchers have ever given convincing reports that they have seen it at all… This is an exciting discovery,” said Allen.

The Luzon Buttonquail was only known through an illustration in the authoritative book by Robert S. Kennedy, et al, A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines. This birders “bible” includes a drawing based on the skins of dead specimens collected a century ago, whereas the otherwise comprehensive image bank of the Oriental Bird Club does not contain a single image of the Worcester’s Buttonquail.

“With the photograph and the promise of more sightings in the wild, we can see the living bill, the eye color, the feathers, rather than just the mushed-up museum skin,” exclaimed Allen, who has been birdwatching for fifty years, fifteen in the Philippines, and has an extensive collection of bird calls on his ipod. He has also spotted the Oriental (or Manchurian) Bush Warbler, another rare bird which he has not seen in the Philippines.

“We are ecstatic that this rarely seen species was photographed by accident. It may be the only photo of this poorly known bird. But I also feel sad that the locals do not value the biodiversity around them and that this bird was sold for only P10 and headed for the cooking pot,” Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) president Mike Lu said. “Much more has to be done in creating conservation awareness and local consciousness about our unique threatened bird fauna. This should be an easy task for the local governments assisted by the DENR. What if this was the last of its species?” Lu added.

“This is a very important finding. Once you don’t see a bird species in a generation, you start to wonder if it’s extinct, and for this bird species we simply do not know its status at all,” said Arne Jensen, a Danish ornithologist and biodiversity expert, and WBCP Records Committee head.

According to the WBCP, the Worcester’s buttonquail was first described based on specimens bought in Quinta Market in Quiapo, Manila in 1902, and was named after Dean Conant Worcester.

Since then just a few single specimens have been photographed and filmed from Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet, and lately, in 2007, from Mountain Province by the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.

Dean Conant Worcester, D.Sc., F.R.G.S. was an American zoologist, public official, and authority on the Philippines, born at Thetford, Vermont, and educated at the University of Michigan (A.B., 1889).

From 1899 to 1901 he was a member of the United States Philippine Commission; thenceforth until 1913 he served as secretary of the interior for the Philippine Insular Government. In 1910, he founded the Philippine General Hospital, which has become the hospital for the poor and the sick.

In October, 2004, at the request of Mr Moises Butic, Lamut CENR Officer, Mr Jon Hornbuckle, of Grove Road, Sheffield, has conducted a short investigation into bird-trapping in Ifugao, Mountain Province, Banaue Mount Polis, Sagada and Dalton Pass, in Nueva Vizcaya.

“Prices ranged from 100 pesos for a Fruit-Dove to 300 pesos for a Metallic Pigeon. Other species that are caught from time to time include Flame-breasted Fruit-Dove and Luzon Bleeding-heart; on one occasion, around 50 of the latter were trapped! All other trapped birds are eaten,” said Hornbuckle. “The main trapping season is November to February. Birds are caught at the lights using butterfly-catching type nets. Quails and Buttonquails were more often shot in the fields at this time, rather than caught, and occasionally included the rare Luzon (Worcester’s) Buttonquail, which is only known from dead specimens, and is a threatened bird species reported from Dalton Pass,” he added.

In August, 1929, Richard C. McGregor and Leon L. Gardner of the Cooper Ornithological Society compiled a book entitled Philippine Bird Traps. The authors described the Luzon Buttonquail as “very rare,” having only encountered it twice, once in August and once in September.

“They are caught with a scoop net from the back of a carabao. Filipino hunters snared them, baiting with branches of artificial red peppers made of sealing wax,” wrote McGregor and Leon L. Gardner. “The various ingenious and effectual devices used by Filipinos for bird-trapping include [the] ‘Teepee Trap’ which consists of a conical tepee, woven of split bamboo and rattan about 3 feet high and 3 feet across at the base, with a fairly narrow entrance. ‘Spring Snares’ were also used, where a slip noose fastened to a strongly bent bamboo or other elastic branch, which is released by a trigger, which is usually the perch of the trap,” their book explained.

A passage from the bird-trap book, which explains why Filipinos had eaten these endangered bird species, goes as follows:

Thousands of birds appear annually in the markets of the Philippine Islands. Snipe, quails, wild ducks, silvereyes, weavers, rails, Java sparrows, parrakeets, doves, fruit pigeons, and many more are found commonly. Some of these are vended in the streets as cage birds; many are sold for food. Most of them are living; practically none has been shot. How are these birds obtained? The people possess almost no firearms, and most of them could ill afford the cost of shells alone. Nevertheless, birds are readily secured and abundantly exposed for sale. In a land which does not raise enough produce to support itself, where the quest for food is the main occupation of life, where the frog in the roadside puddle is angled, the minnow in the brook seined, and the all-consuming locust itself consumed, it is not surprising (though regrettable) that birds are considered largely in the light of dietary additions.Philippine Bird Traps, by Richard C. McGregor and Leon L. Gardner, 1930 Cooper Ornithological Society

A global review of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicates drastic decline of animal and plant life. This includes a quarter of all mammals, one out of eight birds, one out of three amphibians and 70 percent of plants.

The report, Red List of Threatened Species, is published by IUCN every year. Additionally, a global assessment of the health of the world’s species is released once in four years. The data is compiled by 1,700 experts from 130 countries. The key findings of the report were announced at the World Conservation Congress held in Barcelona, Spain.

The survey includes 44,838 species of wild fauna and flora, out of which 16,928 species are threatened with extinction. Among the threatened, 3,246 are tagged critically endangered, the highest category of threat. Another 4,770 species are endangered and 8,912 vulnerable to extinction.

Environmental scientists say they have concrete evidence that the planet is undergoing the “largest mass extinction in 65 million years”. Leading environmental scientist Professor Norman Myers says the Earth is experiencing its “Sixth Extinction.”

Scientists forecast that up to five million species will be lost this century. “We are well into the opening phase of a mass extinction of species. There are about 10 million species on earth. If we carry on as we are, we could lose half of all those 10 million species,” Myers said.

Scientists are warning that by the end of this century, the planet could lose up to half its species, and that these extinctions will alter not only biological diversity but also the evolutionary processes itself. They state that human activities have brought our planet to the point of biotic crisis.

In 1993, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson estimated that the planet is losing 30,000 species per year – around three species per hour. Some biologists have begun to feel that the biodiversity crisis dubbed the “Sixth Extinction” is even more severe, and more imminent, than Wilson had expected.

The Luzon Buttonquail (Turnix worcesteri) is a species of bird in the Turnicidae family. It is endemic to the island of Luzon in the Philippines, where it is known from just six localities thereof. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, in the highlands of the Cordillera Central, although records are from 150-1,250 m, and the possibility that it frequents forested (non-grassland) habitats cannot be discounted.

The buttonquails or hemipodes are a small family of birds which resemble, but are unrelated to, the true quails. They inhabit warm grasslands in Asia, Africa, and Australia. They are assumed to be intra-island migrants, and breed somewhere in northern Luzon in April-June and that at least some birds disperse southwards in the period July-March.

These Turnicidae are small, drab, running birds, which avoid flying. The female is the more brightly coloured of the sexes, and initiates courtship. Unusually, the buttonquails are polyandrous, with the females circulating among several males and expelling rival females from her territory. Both sexes cooperate in building a nest in the earth, but only the male incubates the eggs and tends the young.

Called “Pugo” (quail) by natives, these birds inhabit rice paddies and scrub lands near farm areas because of the abundance of seeds and insects that they feed on regularly. These birds are characterized by their black heads with white spots, a brown or fawn colored body and yellow legs on males and the females are brown with white and black spots.

These birds are very secretive, choosing to make small path ways through the rice fields, which unfortunately leads to their deaths as well, they are hunted by children and young men by means of setting spring traps along their usual path ways.

Buttonquails are a notoriously cryptic and unobtrusive family of birds, and the species could conceivably occur in reasonable numbers somewhere. They are included in the 2008 IUCN Red List Category (as evaluated by BirdLife International IUCN Red List of Threatened Species). They are also considered as Vulnerable species by IUCN and BirdLife International, since these species is judged to have a ten percent chance of going extinct in the next one hundred years.


Stranded Russian minisub is trapped by 60 tonne anchor
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Stranded Russian minisub is trapped by 60 tonne anchor



Friday, August 5, 2005

The Interfax news agency is reporting that a Russian minisub that was stranded underwater in the Pacific Ocean is trapped by two 60 tonne anchors.

The submarine propeller has snagged on the antenna of a sonar underwater coastal defense station, (or perhaps very long low frequency arrays, which can be thousands of yards) 623 ft below the ocean 43 miles off Kamchatka. “The anchor needs to be blown up” in order to be able to raise the AS-28 submarine, the commander of the Russian Pacific Fleet told Interfax.

“If the explosion is successful, the system will be raised to a depth of 100 meters and lit up by the Tiger [television camera], and we can at last be 100% sure that it’s the submarine, and deepwater divers will be able to continue work,” he continued.

The AS-28 submarine, with seven crew onboard, became entangled on Thursday while at a depth of 190 m.

Earlier reports that the submarine had been taken under tow have been proved false. Ships had attempted to trawl for the submarine in order to drag it into shallower water, but it is reported that they failed to capture the submarine.

The Pacific Fleet commander says that the crew have enough food and water to survive until Monday although oxygen will run out by Saturday. The three-man submarine was designed to supply the crew with a five day supply of oxygen, however with the seven man crew the supply has been greatly depleted.

Around ten Russian navy ships are attending, to be joined by four Japanese vessels on Monday. The US and UK navies are also flying in specialist rescue equipment, including two U.S. navy owned remotely-operated underwater robots capable of cutting through steel lines up to 1″ thick and one U.K. video array ROV. They will arrive on Saturday.

The crew have been using an underwater acoustic telephone to communicate with the surface, and are reported to be remaining calm. They have been told to keep still and to conserve the ship’s power supplies.

The same class of vessel, which measures 13.5 m by 3.8 m, was used during the ill-fated rescue attempt on the Kursk, which was lost with all hands almost exactly five years ago.


Edmund White on writing, incest, life and Larry Kramer
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Edmund White on writing, incest, life and Larry Kramer



Thursday, November 8, 2007

What you are about to read is an American life as lived by renowned author Edmund White. His life has been a crossroads, the fulcrum of high-brow Classicism and low-brow Brett Easton Ellisism. It is not for the faint. He has been the toast of the literary elite in New York, London and Paris, befriending artistic luminaries such as Salman Rushdie and Sir Ian McKellen while writing about a family where he was jealous his sister was having sex with his father as he fought off his mother’s amorous pursuit.

The fact is, Edmund White exists. His life exists. To the casual reader, they may find it disquieting that someone like his father existed in 1950’s America and that White’s work is the progeny of his intimate effort to understand his own experience.

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone understood that an interview with Edmund White, who is professor of creative writing at Princeton University, who wrote the seminal biography of Jean Genet, and who no longer can keep track of how many sex partners he has encountered, meant nothing would be off limits. Nothing was. Late in the interview they were joined by his partner Michael Caroll, who discussed White’s enduring feud with influential writer and activist Larry Kramer.

Contents

  • 1 On literature
  • 2 On work as a gay writer
  • 3 On sex
  • 4 On incest in his family
  • 5 On American politics
  • 6 On his intimate relationships
  • 7 On Edmund White
  • 8 On Larry Kramer
  • 9 Source

Finnish female politicians highlighted by World Bank’s 2012 gender report
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Finnish female politicians highlighted by World Bank’s 2012 gender report



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Earlier this week the World Bank released the 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development. The report noted relatively high numbers of women participating in Finnish politics, and credited the Council for Equality between Men and Women in Finland with progress.

Finland bucks the global trend; the report notes globally “the number of women holding parliamentary seats is very low, and progress in the last 15 years has been slow.” Female representation in national parliaments has risen from 10% in 1995 to 17% in 2009. By contrast, Finnish female parliamentarians accounted for 38.5% of new members in 1991, rising to 42.5% in 2011. Finland was one of just nine nations whose total female cabinet members stood at more than 40% in 2008. Globally, females accounted for 17% of ministers, representing a rise from just 8% in 1998.

Although not specifically mentioned by the report, since the millennium the positions of President and Prime Minister have both been held by women; Tarja Halonen became the nation’s first female President in 2000 and in 2010 Mari Kiviniemi was selected to be the second female Prime Minister. Women gained suffrage in 1906 with little opposition, ahead of the US and UK.

The cross-party Council for Equality between Men and Women in Finland dates back to the 1970s; the World Bank dismisses its role at that time as “primarily symbolic” with little in the way of staff, funding, or influence. In the 1980s it was handed statutory power for gender equality issues and has gone on to press for reforms in areas including sex work, job training, and quotas on political representation. The report calls the council a “success”.

Education, however, showed gender segregation by subject at the tertiary level; Finland was one of several countries singled out as examples of high gender segregation in economically developed countries, compared to lower levels of segregation in less well-developed nations. Finland is one of the four members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with the highest segregation by subject alongside Croatia, Japan, and Lithuania.

Finland has very high levels of education enrollment for both boys and girls, at almost 100% at primary level. Females are ahead of men in tertiary education enrollment, with 46% of men in the relevant age group enrolling in 1991 and 52% of women. By 2009 these numbers stood at 82% and 101% respectively.

Boys and girls were neck and neck with high scores in their 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment maths tests, both averaging around 540. Literacy also produced very high scores but with a gender gap; boys averaged around 510 while girls averaged around 560.

Internet access in Finland is high with men slightly ahead; for men and women alike access stands at around 85%. Finns have a legal right to a 1Mbps broadband connection and authorities plan to have 100Mbps connections for every citizen by 2015. The proportion of women teleworking at least 25% of the time has risen from around 7% in 2000–1 to 9% in 2005; the male figure was at 9% in 2005 and is now 15–20%. Rapid teleworking growth is a global trend but the report notes the female figures generally grew faster.

Marketplace activities also show gender disparity in Finland. Of activities performed by men and women, the female share stands at 41%, versus 63% for domestic activities such as housework. From 2006–9 services accounted for 87% of female and 56% of male employment. 10% of women and 37% of men were employed in industry and agriculture was only a minor employer, with 6% of male employment and 3% of female employment.

Life expectancy for Finnish men has risen from 71 years in 1990 to 77 years in 2009; in the same period, women’s life expectancy increased from 79 years to 83 years. The population stands at 5 million, representing a 0.4% annual growth rate from 2000 to 2010.


Nigerian jet attacks refugee camp, killing dozens
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Nigerian jet attacks refugee camp, killing dozens



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Nigerian Air Force jet fighter mistook refugees for rebels yesterday, Nigerian military said, firing on a camp in Rann, Borno State. Dozens of refugees and aid workers died.

The lowest estimate from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is of 50 dead. The BBC estimates at least 52 dead, while one Borno State official is attributed by AP as saying over 100 are dead. MSF say at least 200 were wounded.

The Red Cross said at least six of its staff died and twelve more injured. The impoverished region, in the northeast of the nation, has suffered severe famine as conflict interrupts agriculture. Farmers are unable to work owing to bombs on their land. The Red Cross said volunteers were at the camp, home to thousands, to distribute food.

The military said the Air Force was dispatched to deal with “remnants” of the Boko Haram militant group, which it claims to be in a final push against. Major General Leo Irabor, who led the operation, said, “Unfortunately, the strike was conducted but it turned out that other civilians were somewhere around the area and they were affected”. Irabor said two soldiers were amongst the dead and others were wounded.

Military spokesman General Rabe Abubakar said the military are “all in pain” after the disaster, adding “in a military operation such as this, from time to time these things do occur.” Irabor promised an investigation. President Muhammadu Buhari said he was saddened by “this regrettable operational mistake” and sought calm.

“This large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable,” MSF operational chief Dr Jean-Clément Cabrol said. The Red Cross said it has staff and facilities ready in neighbouring Cameroon and Chad to assist. “The whole camp is controlled by the army and no one can come in or out without being checked,” said MSF head of emergencies Hugues Robert. Robert added the group knew travel and work in the area was dangerous, and took precautions.

Helicopters have been evacuating the wounded, including a United Nations helicopter which brought four medical personnel and 400kg (900lb) of emergency medical aid, and left with eight wounded Red Cross workers. The UN is in the midst of an appeal for aid to the famine-hit region.


Student who planned to attend Rev. Jerry Falwell’s funeral arrested after homemade bombs found in car
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Student who planned to attend Rev. Jerry Falwell’s funeral arrested after homemade bombs found in car



Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A 19-year-old male student, who is now identified as Mark David Uhl, of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, was arrested after authorities were notified from a family member that he had packed his car trunk with home made bombs, and was planning to attend funeral services of the late Reverend Jerry Falwell who passed away on Tuesday last week.

A family member called police at approximately 11:00 p.m. [local time] on Monday evening saying that Uhl “mentioned some explosive devices he had made.”

The funeral services for Falwell were held at the Thomas Road Baptist Church, the first church Falwell founded, at age 22. It was attended by mourners numbering 6,000 in a chapel that exceeded its capacity to host all who came to attend. More room was made for a people who attended the funeral at the university’s basketball arena and football stadium.

Police do not believe that Uhl was going to target the funeral directly. Instead they believe he was going to target protesters of Falwell who were going to attend the funeral. The group is known as the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church and believed that Falwell befriended homosexuals, despite the fact that Falwell was against homosexuality.

“I do not believe it was their intent to disrupt the funeral service. We do not believe the Falwells were ever in any danger,” said Terry Gaddy, the Sheriff for Campbell County, Virginia who also said the bombs looked like “napalm” and were about “the size of soda cans.” Gaddy also said there were at least five bombs. Maj. Steve Hutcherson, who is also affiliated with the Campbell County Sheriff said “what appeared to be about six explosive devices” were found and that the “canisters were filled with liquid.”

Several students from the high school Uhl attended, who are believed to have helped make the bombs, are also being questioned by authorities. They are all believed to have been in the same Reserve Officer Training Corps class at Liberty University.


Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems
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Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the oil and gas industry are creating earthquakes. New information from the Midwest region of the United States points out that these man-made earthquakes are happening more frequently than expected. While more frequent earthquakes are less of a problem for regions like the Midwest, a geology professor from the University of Southern Indiana, Dr. Paul K. Doss, believes the disposal of wastewater from the hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) process used in extracting oil and gas has the possibility to pose potential problems for groundwater.

“We are taking this fluid that has a whole host of chemicals in it that are useful for fracking and putting it back into the Earth,” Doss said. “From a purely seismic perspective these are not big earthquakes that are going to cause damage or initiate, as far as we know, any larger kinds of earthquakes activity for Midwest. [The issue] is a water quality issue in terms of the ground water resources that we use.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique used by the oil and gas industries which inject highly pressurized water down into the Earth’s crust to break rock and extract natural gas. Most of the fluids used for fracking are proprietary, so information about what chemicals are used in the various fluids are unknown to the public and to create a competitive edge.

Last Monday four researchers from the University of New Brunswick released an editorial that sheds light on the potential risks that the current wastewater disposal system could have on the province’s water resources. The researchers share the concern that Dr. Doss has and have come out to say that they believe fracking should be stopped in the province until there is an environ­mentally safe way to dispose the waste wastewater.

“If groundwater becomes contamin­ated, it takes years to decades to try to clean up an aquifer system,” University of New Brunswick professor Tom Al said.

While the USGS group which conducted the study says it is unclear how the earthquake rates may be related to oil and gas production, they’ve made the correlation between the disposal of wastewater used in fracking and the recent upsurge in earthquakes. Because of the recent information surfacing that shows this connection between the disposal process and earthquakes, individual states in the United States are now passing laws regarding disposal wells.

The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak.

“The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak,” Doss said. “A perfect case-in-point is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, that oil was being drilled at 18,000 feet but leaked at the surface. And that’s the concern because there’s no assurance that some of these unknown chemical cocktails won’t escape before it gets down to where they are trying to get rid of them.”

It was said in the study released by the New Brunswick University professors that if fracking wastewater would contaminate groundwater, that current conventional water treatment would not be sufficient enough to remove the high concentration of chemicals used in fracking. The researchers did find that the wastewater could be recycled, can also be disposed of at proper sites or even pumped further underground into saline aquifers.

The New Brunswick professors have come to the conclusion that current fracking methods used by companies, which use the water, should be replaced with carbon diox­ide or liquefied propane gas.

“You eliminate all the water-related issues that we’re raising, and that peo­ple have raised in general across North America,” Al said.

In New Brunswick liquefied propane gas has been used successfully in fracking some wells, but according to water specialist with the province’s Natural Resources De­partment Annie Daigle, it may not be the go-to solution for New Brunswick due its geological makeup.

“It has been used successfully by Corridor Resources here in New Bruns­wick for lower volume hydraulic frac­turing operations, but it is still a fairly new technology,” Daigle said.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with U.S. states to come up with guidelines to manage seismic risks due to wastewater. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA is the organization that also deals with the policies for wells.

Oil wells, which are under regulation, pump out salt water known as brine, and after brine is pumped out of the ground it’s disposed of by being pumped back into the ground. The difference between pumping brine and the high pressurized fracking fluid back in the ground is the volume that it is disposed of.

“Brine has never caused this kind of earthquake activity,” Doss said. “[The whole oil and gas industry] has developed around the removal of natural gas by fracking techniques and has outpaced regulatory development. The regulation is tied to the ‘the run-of-the-mill’ disposal of waste, in other words the rush to produce this gas has occurred before regulatory agencies have had the opportunity to respond.”

According to the USGS study, the increase in injecting wastewater into the ground may explain the sixfold increase of earthquakes in the central part of the United States from 2000 – 2011. USGS researchers also found that in decades prior to 2000 seismic events that happened in the midsection of the U.S. averaged 21 annually, in 2009 it spiked to 50 and in 2011 seismic events hit 134.

“The incredible volumes and intense disposal of fracking fluids in concentrated areas is what’s new,” Doss said. “There is not a body of regulation in place to manage the how these fluids are disposed of.”

The study by the USGS was presented at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America on April 18, 2012.


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