Fuel leak prompts 17,000-vehicle recall by Toyota
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Fuel leak prompts 17,000-vehicle recall by Toyota



Sunday, June 27, 2010

Toyota announced on Friday that it will recall around 17,000 Lexus vehicles in response to risks of the fuel tank in the cars leaking after a collision.

The Lexus HS 250h model was subjected to the recall following a US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation. Despite previously passing Toyota safety inspections, the conclusions of an NHTSA sub-contracted investigator were that; when the vehicles in question collided with an object at more than fifty-miles-per hour, more than 142 grams of fuel, the maximum allowed by US law, leaked from the crashed car.

According to Toyota, further tests did not show any additional failure of the fuel tank.

In response to the findings, Toyota issued a recall of all affected vehicles, since the company had no solution immediately available. The recall includes 13,000 cars already sold, as well as another 4,000 still at dealerships.

Toyota says it plans to conduct further tests to determine the cause of the leak. A Toyota spokesman, Brian Lyons, said that the company was “still working to determine what the root cause of the condition is.” It’s still unclear when exactly the recall will take place, or when dealerships will be allowed to sell this model again. Lyons said that Toyota is “working feverishly to get this resolved as soon as possible.”

Toyota isn’t aware of any accidents stemming from the leaking fuel tank in the affected vehicles, first introduced in the summer of 2009.


Ousted Honduran president says crisis deal has failed
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Ousted Honduran president says crisis deal has failed



Friday, November 6, 2009

An aide to ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said that a deal designed to end the country’s political crisis has failed, after interim leader Roberto Micheletti announced the formation of a new cabinet.

Micheletti said late on Thursday that he is installing a national unity government without the participation of Zelaya, who has declined to name any cabinet members. The two signed an agreement last week to resolve the four-month political standoff. A new government was set to begin Thursday.

Zelaya warned on Thursday the accord was at risk of collapsing unless the Honduran Congress held a vote to restore him to power immediately to serve out his term that ends in January. Honduras elects a new president on November 29.

Congress must vote on Zelaya’s restitution, but has not yet done so. The recently signed pact does not stipulate a deadline for the Congressional vote.

The United States, a major broker in the mediation efforts, said this week the next step in the political crisis is up to Honduras. The governments of several countries have threatened not to recognize the presidential elections if Zelaya is not first returned to power.

Zelaya was ousted in a military-backed coup in June, but returned to Honduras in September, where he has taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.


Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green candidate Marion Schaffer, Oakville
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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green candidate Marion Schaffer, Oakville



Monday, September 24, 2007

Marion Schaffer is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Oakville riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed her regarding her values, her experience, and her campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.


Australian States to launch high court battle against IR reforms
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Australian States to launch high court battle against IR reforms



Thursday, December 22, 2005

After months of threats from the states to take the federal government of Australia to the High Court of Australia over its Work Choices Act, New South Wales has formally lodged a writ with the High Court. Other states have indicated that they will follow the New South Wales government’s lead.

The 30-page Statement of Claim lodged by NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca and Solicitor-General Michael Sexton claims that the Work Choices Act is unconstitutional as the act extends the commonwealth’s powers beyond what the constitution has given them. The Howard government has argued that they have such powers under the corporations provision of the constitution. Mr Della Bosca argues that the corporations provision is there to protect individuals from corporations.

Mr Sexton said “The heart of the Commonwealth legislation is its reliance on the corporations power, and the question is whether that is valid in these circumstances. In other words, whether it’s possible to legislate in effect about industrial relations simply because the employer is a trading or financial corporation”.

The Howard government’s plan effectively collapses the state’s industrial relations systems, which differ greatly from the new system.


Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans graduate students
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Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans graduate students



See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list.Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NAICU has created a list of colleges and universities accepting and/or offering assistance to displace faculty members. [1]Wednesday, September 7, 2005

This list is taken from Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students, and is intended to make searching easier for faculty, graduate, and professional students.

In addition to the list below, the Association of American Law Schools has compiled a list of law schools offering assistance to displaced students. [2] As conditions vary by college, interested parties should contact the Office of Admissions at the school in question for specific requirements and up-to-date details.

The Association of American Medical Colleges is coordinating alternatives for medical students and residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. [3]

ResCross.net is acting as a central interactive hub for establishing research support in times of emergency. With so many scientists affected by Hurricane Katrina, ResCross is currently focused on providing information to identify sources of emergency support as quickly as possible. [4]

With so many scientists affected by Hurricane Katrina, ResCross is currently focused on providing information to identify sources of emergency support as quickly as possible.

Physics undergraduates, grad students, faculty and high school teachers can be matched up with housing and jobs at universities, schools and industry. [5] From the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Society of Physics Students, the American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society.

If you are seeking or providing assistance, please use this site to find information on research support, available lab space/supplies, resources, guidelines and most importantly to communicate with fellow researchers.

The following is a partial list, sorted by location.

Alabama |Alaska |Arizona |Arkansas |California |Colorado |Connecticut |Delaware |District of Columbia |Florida |Georgia |Hawaii |Idaho |Illinois |Indiana |Iowa |Kansas |Kentucky |Louisiana |Maine |Maryland |Massachusetts |Michigan |Minnesota |Mississippi |Missouri |Montana |Nebraska |Nevada |New Hampshire |New Jersey |New Mexico |New York |North Carolina |North Dakota |Ohio |Oklahoma |Oregon |Pennsylvania |Rhode Island |South Carolina |South Dakota |Tennessee |Texas |Utah |Vermont |Virginia |Washington |West Virginia |Wisconsin |Wyoming |Canada


Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life
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Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life



Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gay Talese wants to go to Iraq. “It so happens there is someone that’s working on such a thing right now for me,” the 75-year-old legendary journalist and author told David Shankbone. “Even if I was on Al-Jazeera with a gun to my head, I wouldn’t be pleading with those bastards! I’d say, ‘Go ahead. Make my day.'”

Few reporters will ever reach the stature of Talese. His 1966 profile of Frank Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, was not only cited by The Economist as the greatest profile of Sinatra ever written, but is considered the greatest of any celebrity profile ever written. In the 70th anniversary issue of Esquire in October 2003, the editors declared the piece the “Best Story Esquire Ever Published.”

Talese helped create and define a new style of literary reporting called New Journalism. Talese himself told National Public Radio he rejects this label (“The term new journalism became very fashionable on college campuses in the 1970s and some of its practitioners tended to be a little loose with the facts. And that’s where I wanted to part company.”)

He is not bothered by the Bancrofts selling The Wall Street Journal—”It’s not like we should lament the passing of some noble dynasty!”—to Rupert Murdoch, but he is bothered by how the press supported and sold the Iraq War to the American people. “The press in Washington got us into this war as much as the people that are controlling it,” said Talese. “They took information that was second-hand information, and they went along with it.” He wants to see the Washington press corp disbanded and sent around the country to get back in touch with the people it covers; that the press should not be so focused on–and in bed with–the federal government.

Augusten Burroughs once said that writers are experience junkies, and Talese fits the bill. Talese–who has been married to Nan Talese (she edited James Frey‘s Million Little Piece) for fifty years–can be found at baseball games in Cuba or the gay bars of Beijing, wanting to see humanity in all its experience.

Below is Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s interview with Gay Talese.

Contents

  • 1 On Gay Talese
  • 2 On a higher power and how he’d like to die
  • 3 On the media and Iraq
  • 4 On the Iraq War
  • 5 State of Journalism
  • 6 On travel to Cuba
  • 7 On Chinese gay bars
  • 8 On the literary canon
  • 9 Sources

Ozzy Osbourne’s personal possessions fetch $800,000 for charity
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Ozzy Osbourne’s personal possessions fetch $800,000 for charity



Sunday, December 2, 2007

American heavy metal performer Ozzy Osbourne, who became famous as the lead vocalist for Black Sabbath and later as a solo act, has raised more than US$800,000 for The Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program, founded by his spouse Sharon Osbourne at the Cedars Sinai Hospital, by auctioning off personal items.

A number of the items that he auctioned off over the two day period have been seen on his reality TV show The Osbournes, which featured home life with Sharon, Ozzy and their two children. Amongst some of the higher-priced items were a carved walnut Victorian-style custom built pool table which raised $11,250, a painting from Edourad Drouot which fetched $10,500, a pair of Ozzy’s famous round glasses which raised $5,250 and a dog bed given to Sharon by Elton John which sold for $2,375.

Some more famous items were also amongst the 500 lots offered. Ozzy’s black satin coat, complete with bat-wing cape, raised $3,300 and a hand-painted floral cup used regularly on The Osbournes made $1,625. A bronze plaque of a demon’s head that was regularly seen in its position adorning the front door of their house had been expected to go for $800 to $1,200instead raised $8,750. A wire model of the Eiffel Tower from on the kitchen table sold for $10,000, while skull-covered trainers Ozzy had worn reached $2,625. Bidders came from as far away as Germany to buy what they could from his mansion in Beverly Hills, California.

However, three cars included in the auction failed to attract bidders and did not sell. They were a 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur, estimated at $160,000 to $180,000, a 2005 Cadillac CTS-V sedan estimated at $30,000 to $40,000 and a 1950 Oldsmobile Futuramic 88 Club Coupe previously owned by author Danielle Steel estimated at $40,000 to $50,000. Sharon had earlier said of the cars “We’re not great car people. They really don’t do a lot for us.

Darren Julien, president of Julien’s Auctions, which organised the two-day sale, said “It did very well. It raised some good money for a very worthy cause.”

“For a celebrity garage sale, it was pretty spectacular.,” he went on. He also commented on the fact that there was fierce competition for the many artworks included. “We had Ozzy fans bidding against these sophisticated fine art buyers, which you don’t see every day. For the most part the metalheads were outbidding the art crowd.”


Plane crashes into office block in Austin, Texas/suicide note
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Plane crashes into office block in Austin, Texas/suicide note



This is the online suicide letter authored by Andrew Stack, the man believed to be responsible for flying a light aircraft into a building in Austin, Texas. It was originally posted at Stack’s site, http://embeddedart.com/. The hosting company, T35, took the site offline per an FBI request. The note is reproduced here in its entirety.

If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.

While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!

How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than [sic] what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

How did I get here?

My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling [sic] from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.

Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.

On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.

The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.

In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.

Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.

For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report (http://www.synergistech.com/1706.shtml#ConferenceCommitteeReport) regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml).

SEC. 1706. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN TECHNICAL PERSONNEL.

(a) IN GENERAL – Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:

(d) EXCEPTION. – This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. – The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.

Note:

· “another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.

· “taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.

· “individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.

Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.

During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.

After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.

Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.

Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.

Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.

By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.

To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.

So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.

When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.

This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.

I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.

I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Joe Stack (1956-2010)

02/18/2010


Iraqis begin second round of negotiations in Finland
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Iraqis begin second round of negotiations in Finland



Saturday, April 26, 2008

Representatives of Iraq’s main ethnic groups have begun a second round of negotiations in Finland to study successful negotiations in South Africa and Northern Ireland. The initial talks, in September last year, ended with the Helsinki I Agreement, which presented a series of recommendations aimed at bringing peace to Iraq.

The talks have been arranged largely by the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), a non-profit organisation founded in 2000 by then Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari. CMI has previously arranged a successful arrangement between Indonesia and rebels in the province of Aceh, ending 30 years of fighting with talks in which Ahtisaari was chairman. He is taking no role in the Iraqi negotiations.

“Senior leaders from all the major ethnic groups are represented,” said a CMI spokesman. 36 Iraqis are attending the seminar, entitled “Divided Societies”, as well as South African and Northren Irish representatives. The Iraqis include prominent Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds although the names of the participants, as well as the exact location and length of the event, have been kept secret. This mirrors last time, where the site, an isolated inn in the Southeast, was only revealed after the talks had ended. All previous African and Irish representatives have also returned, as well as several others.

Amongst those sent to explain their historic peace negotiations is Martin McGuinness, former Irish Republican Army commander, deputy leader of Sinn Fein and Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government’s senior Catholic. That government has been in place just under a year. Junior Irish government minister Jeffrey Donaldson, a Protestant lawmaker, is also present. Both participated in last year’s discussions.

Last year’s four-day event’s Helsinki I Agreement contained deals to aim for power sharing and to stop using violence to settle political disputes. CMI spokesman Quintin Oliver said that “All the participants are engaged in intense discussions with a considerable and detailed review of the Helsinki I Agreement and principles in light of the changed circumstances (being discussed in the second round),” and that the new talks began on Friday and will probably continue at least until Sunday.

As well as CMI, organisation for both sets of talks was handled by the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts and the Institute for Global Leaders at Tufts University in Massachusetts.


St. Anthony Foundation provides hope
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St. Anthony Foundation provides hope



Friday, September 23, 2005

On the corner of Golden Gate Ave. and Jones St. in the Tenderloin, San Francisco, right next to the Civic Center you can see a throng of low-income and homeless people lining up outside of St. Anthony’s Dining Room hall which opens up it’s doors everyday at 11:30 a.m. Volunteers dressed in St. Anthony Foundation shirts help keep the lines moving as hundreds of homeless and low income people shuffle their way towards the dining hall underneath the watchful eyes of a small statue of St. Francis of Assisi.

“There’s a lot of people who go hungry out here and it ain’t right.” says Jimmy Scott, a slightly brawny 44-year-old black man who has been living homeless in San Francisco for the past three years. “There are families out here with kids and everything and they have to walk around all night just to stay awake so they don’t get hurt or killed…Right here in the U.S. this is going on…it ain’t right.”

The dining hall, which has been open for the past 54 years, is owned by the St. Anthony Foundation which helps low income and homeless people and families in the Civic Center, Tenderloin, and SOMA areas with clothing, shelter, food, drug rehabilitation, and many other services. St. Anthony’s administrative offices are found at 121 Golden Gate Ave. with the majority of the foundation’s buildings on Golden Gate Ave. and Jones St.

“We are right in the heart of the homeless population of San Francisco,” says Barry Stenger, 55, who’s been working for the St. Anthony Foundation for one year, and is the Director of Development and Communications, “and people are pushed here because of the economic forces of San Francisco because it’s hard to be upper middle class in San Francisco.”

According to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, “San Francisco’s cost of living remains one of the highest in the country” with the average household income in San Francisco being around $76,400 and the average price of housing being $543,000. Average household income for the United States in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was $42,409 and the average price of housing for the United States according to the National Association of Realtors was $185,200 in 2004.

“We served our 32 millionth meal on Tuesday,” said Stenger, “and we serve 2,500 meals a day. Some of our people who work here actually get served [food] here because they spend all their money towards rent and medical costs.”

The St. Anthony Foundation was started by Fr. Alfred Boeddeker in 1950 one year after Fr. Boeddeker became pastor of St. Boniface church on Golden Gate St. where he was baptized as a child. During his lifetime, according to the foundation’s website, he was referred to as the “Patron St. of the Tenderloin” and had Boeddeker park named after him because of his, and his foundation’s, achievements with helping out the homeless and low income community.

“[St. Anthony’s] is a good thing,” said Jimmy Scott, “they provide a good service and they feed people and they clothe them and provide furniture when you get housing and give you groceries when you have AIDS. It’s a good little organization.”

“Our dining room is open 365 days a year.” Said Stenger. “Our other facilities are open seven days a week. We have a residence for senior women and our [free medical] clinic is open five days a week and we also have a furniture and clothing store. We have 12 programs all together.”

Some of those programs are the Father Alfred Center which provides 61 men two programs for getting out of drug and alcohol abuse, the Employment Program/Learning Center which helps participants in educational and employment opportunities and provides each one with a personal staff advisor, and a Senior Outreach and Support Services center which states its mission is to “promote independence, self determination, and alleviate isolation” for seniors who are 60 and older.

A few homeless people who were interviewed complained that St. Anthony’s had some staff who were rude and that they were kicked out of the dining hall; other homeless within the area refuted those claims saying St. Anthony’s has nice staff and only kicks people out who cause trouble.

“It’s a good place and good people. Everybody is so kind and so respectful and everything is under control.” Said John Henderson, a tall and skinny 57-year-old homeless black man who has only been living in San Francisco for close to two months because he recently moved there from Phoenix, Arizona. “It’s pretty cool because they’re under control because yesterday I saw at Glide [Memorial Church which also has services for the poor and low income] and they were handing out food boxes and people were just rushing in and the woman in charge there was freaking out and so she just sat down. That would never happen at St. Anthony’s.”

“And they clean too!” Henderson said laughing with a grin on his face referring to the fact that there are no drugs allowed in the premises. “Not that Glide ain’t clean if you know what I mean.”

“We [also] have a whole division that deals with justice education and advocacy to change the system that brings people to our doorstep.” Said Stenger. “We hear a lot of appreciation from the people we serve. We get a lot of testimony from our clients who have become clean and sober. Sometimes we have to push them a little to get them out the door because they love the [foundation] so much because it has changed their lives.”

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

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