Truckies could foot the bill for NSW Pacific Highway upgrade

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Just two weeks after a join statement by Australian federal roads minister Jim Lloyd and his New South Wales counterpart Joe Tripoldi that tolls may be used to fast track upgrades of the Pacific Highway, acting Prime Minister Mark Vaile suggested that truck operators could pay up to a $70 toll.

Mr Vaile claims that industry sources claim that it is $400 less for a B-double semi trailer to drive from Sydney to Brisbane via the Pacific Highway than the New England Highway (which is the national highway) because of the upgrades carried out over the past 10 years.

Mr Valie claims the transport industry would accept a $70 toll. “Anything we do is going to enhance their efficiency”. “Therefore the transport industry would be prepared to pay a toll – not just a $5 or $7 or $10 toll. For Sydney to Brisbane, who knows, (they could pay) a $50 to $70 toll, because these efficiencies are so significant now in running that sector.”

The federal and state governments have committed to converting the highway to dual carriageway between Sydney and Port Macquarie and Brisbane and Byron Bay within three years. The remainder of the highway (with the exception of the section replaced by the Sydney – Newcastle Freeway was scheduled to be completed by 2016.

Mr Vaile said that the New South Wales government should look at using public-private partnerships to fund upgrades between Port Macquarie and Byron Bay. He further hinted that regular motorists would still pay tolls, although they would be variable depending on the length of highway used.

Kathy and Greg Campbell who lost Greg’s mother and their daughters Becky, 9, and Jessy, 8, when a truck slammed into their car head on south of Buladelah said the number of trucks which use the single carriageway section is an outrage. Ms Campbell said that the federal government received AU$14 billion a year in fuel excise from motorists and the estimated cost to complete the highway upgrade was AU$8 billion.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Truckies_could_foot_the_bill_for_NSW_Pacific_Highway_upgrade&oldid=4510723”

Before You Build Your First Fire Of The Season, Schedule An Appointment For Fireplace Cleaning In Rockville

byAlma Abell

During the winter months, there is nothing like a crackling fire, in the fireplace. The room is warm and cozy, shadows dance on the walls and the golden embers glow long into the evening. A well designed and functioning fireplace can help you save on your winter heating bills, add value to your home, and draw your friends and family together around the fire. Whether you use your fireplace a few times a year or daily as a heating source it is essential to have your fireplace and chimney inspected every year.

The potential dangers caused by a damaged or aged fireplace system range from smoke billowing into your home, carbon monoxide poisoning and fire to the rest of your home. Before you build the first fire of the season you need to schedule an appointment for a Fireplace Cleaners in Rockville.

House fires occur when a fireplace has cracked or crumbling masonry allowing flames to escape the fire box. A damaged or blocked chimney can cause smoke to backup into your home. Raccoons and squirrels are often drawn to the warmth and small spaces of chimneys for nesting. Once this happens, you need to hire a professional to come out and remove the animals. When you purchase a home that has a fireplace, it is a good idea to have it inspected by a company that provides Fireplace Cleaning in Rockville.

Before the cold weather settles in and you want to light a fire, have someone come out to your home that does Fireplace Cleaning in Rockville. They will clean your fireplace from the bottom to top. Starting with the firebox, the area where the logs sit, they will clear away the area and inspect the masonry for any potential cracks or crumbling brickwork that needs to be replaced or repaired. They will also use a long handled traditional wire brush to scrub the inside of the chimney. This will remove creosote buildups that can cause chimney fires and scrub the flu. Afterwards, they will inspect the flu making sure it is in good repair and open allowing the fumes and smoke to escape. Once you have had your fireplace cleaned and inspected, you can sit back and enjoy your cozy fire with the assurance that you and your family are not only warm, but also safe.

Author Amy Scobee recounts abuse as Scientology executive

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wikinews interviewed author Amy Scobee about her book Scientology – Abuse at the Top, and asked her about her experiences working as an executive within the organization. Scobee joined the organization at age 14, and worked at Scientology’s international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005. She served as a Scientology executive in multiple high-ranking positions, working out of the international headquarters of Scientology known as “Gold Base”, located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Author_Amy_Scobee_recounts_abuse_as_Scientology_executive&oldid=4579695”

Anthrocon 2007 draws thousands to Pittsburgh for furry weekend

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — Local caterers get ready for big business, as almost three thousand fans converge on the David L. Lawrence Convention Center over the Independence Day weekend for the world’s largest ever furry convention, Anthrocon 2007.

Many hope to renew acquaintances, or meet new friends. Others look to buy from dealers and artists, or show off new artwork or costumes. Some attend to make money, or even learn a thing or two. But one thing unites them: They’re all there to have fun.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Anthrocon_2007_draws_thousands_to_Pittsburgh_for_furry_weekend&oldid=4606745”

2007 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Brackets

These are the complete brackets for the 2007 NCAA Men’s Division I National Basketball Tournament. All games are played at neutral sites. The higher-seeded team is designated the home team on the scoreboard and in the official scorebook, and will wear white jerseys on the court for the game.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=2007_NCAA_Men%27s_Basketball_Tournament_Brackets&oldid=2499592”

How Odd Is Life?

How Odd is Life?

by

Zack Mandell

Life is unpredictable. Life can be cruel. Life can be odd, especially if your name is Timothy Green (or his parents). There are so many families that would love to have a child of their own and so many children that would benefit from a family. Would it not be wonderful to be able to grow your own child out of the garden?

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I remember having a Cabbage Patch doll when I was young. They also implied that your ‘baby’ came from the garden and was yours to love, already named and dressed. I also loved the movie Pollyanna, still do actually. Mix these both together and you have ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green’. When a couple is told they could not have a baby and run into snags with the adoption process, they sit down and write a list of what they would want their child to be like. They bury the list in the backyard and a horrible storm rains down on the little box and a child is made… There are not that many movies made now days that make you cry or feel emotionally invested. But the way the characters invite you into the movie, to experience their lives, makes you feel an attachment. Sometimes we, as people, need to have a show provoke emotions we become desensitized to because of the selection of such graphic and violent movies. This is the one for that this year. We need more of them. The Odd Life of Timothy Green also encompasses a variety of subjects that we find in our society, like death, bullying, and love. They are all things we need to experience and embrace to be normal adults, but to address it in a movie makes it real. It makes us stand up and take notice and improve the quality of life for everyone we hold dear. Perhaps you will learn of difficulties your own kids are having because they will want to communicate with you, show you how much they love you, and appreciate more of what you do for them. A child can bring magic to your home if you let them. They are special gifts that many of us take for granted. Some never know that joy and adoption is so difficult to accomplish. The family unit should always be encouraged, a stronger bond formed with your kids. This movie will cater to that sweet side and you should leave the building feeling a new sense of gratitude. Let their magic infiltrate your existence, the way Timothy Green did. When contemplating the next movie you go see, make it this one, before it is gone from theaters. There are bad reviews out there, but I feel that Disney isn’t just about curtailing to the small children all of the time, they are reaching out to the adults as well who fight the sadness of building a family that doesn’t want to come. Parenthood is a noble profession. If it is your dream to have children, make that dream come true. Never give up.

ZacK Mandell is a freelance writer for

movieroomreviews.com

.

Article Source:

How Odd is Life?

Petition pressures City of Edinburgh Council to review clause affecting live music scene

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Live music venues in Edinburgh, Scotland are awaiting a review later this year on the 2005 licensing policy, which places limitations on the volume of amplified music in the city. Investigating into how the policy is affecting the Edinburgh music scene, a group of Wikinews writers interviewed venue owners, academics, the City of Edinburgh Council, and local band The Mean Reds to get different perspectives on the issue.

Since the clause was introduced by the government of the city of Edinburgh, licensed venues have been prohibited from allowing music to be amplified to the extent it is audible to nearby residential properties. This has affected the live music scene, with several venues discontinuing regular events such as open mic nights, and hosting bands and artists.

Currently, the licensing policy allows licensing standards officers to order a venue to cease live music on any particular night, based on a single noise complaint from the public. The volume is not electronically measured to determine if it breaches a decibel volume level. Over roughly the past year there have been 56 separate noise complaints made against 18 venues throughout the city.

A petition to amend the clause has garnered over 3,000 signatures, including the support of bar owners, musicians, and members of the general public.

On November 17, 2014, the government’s Culture and Sport Committee hosted an open forum meeting at Usher Hall. Musicians, venue owners and industry professionals were encouraged to provide their thoughts on how the council could improve live music in the city. Ways to promote live music as a key cultural aspect of Edinburgh were discussed and it was suggested that it could be beneficial to try and replicate the management system of live music of other global cities renowned for their live music scenes. However, the suggestion which prevailed above all others was simply to review the existing licensing policy.

Councillor (Cllr) Norma Austin-Hart, Vice Convenor of the Culture and Sport Committee, is responsible for the working group Music is Audible. The group is comprised of local music professionals, and councillors and officials from Edinburgh Council. A document circulated to the Music is Audible group stated the council aims “to achieve a balance between protecting residents and supporting venues”.

Following standard procedure, when a complaint is made, a Licensing Standards Officer (LSO) is dispatched to investigate the venue and evaluate the level of noise. If deemed to be too loud, the LSO asks the venue to lower the noise level. According to a document provided by the City of Edinburgh Council, “not one single business has lost its license or been closed down because of a breach to the noise condition in Edinburgh.”

In the Scotland Licensing Policy (2005), Clause 6.2 states, “where the operating plan indicates that music is to be played in a premises, the board will consider the imposition of a condition requiring amplified music from those premises to be inaudible in residential property.” According to Cllr Austin-Hart, the high volume of tenement housing in the city centre makes it difficult for music to be inaudible.

During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe during the summer, venues are given temporary licences that allow them to operate for the duration of the festival and under the condition that “all amplified music and vocals are controlled to the satisfaction of the Director of Services for Communities”, as stated in a document from the council. During the festival, there is an 11 p.m. noise restriction on amplified music, and noise may be measured by Environmental Health staff using sophisticated equipment. Noise is restricted to 65dB(A) from the facades of residential properties; however, complaints from residents still occur. In the document from the council, they note these conditions and limitations for temporary venues would not necessarily be appropriate for permanent licensed premises.

In a phone interview, Cllr Austin-Hart expressed her concern about the unsettlement in Edinburgh regarding live music. She referenced the closure of the well-known Picture House, a venue that has provided entertainment for over half a century, and the community’s opposition to commercial public bar chain Wetherspoon buying the venue. “[It] is a well-known pub that does not play any form of music”, Cllr Austin-Hart said. “[T]hey feel as if it is another blow to Edinburgh’s live music”. “[We] cannot stop Wetherspoon’s from buying this venue; we have no control over this.”

The venue has operated under different names, including the Caley Palais which hosted bands such as Queen and AC/DC. The Picture House opened in 2008.

One of the venues which has been significantly affected by the licensing laws is the Phoenix Bar, on Broughton Street. The bar’s owner, Sam Roberts, was induced to cease live music gigs in March, following a number of noise complaints against the venue. As a result, Ms Roberts was inspired to start the aforementioned petition to have Clause 6.2 of the licensing policy reviewed, in an effort to remove the ‘inaudibility’ statement that is affecting venues and the music scene.

“I think we not only encourage it, but actively support the Edinburgh music scene,” Ms Roberts says of the Phoenix Bar and other venues, “the problem is that it is a dying scene.”

When Ms Roberts purchased the venue in 2013, she continued the existing 30-year legacy established by the previous owners of hosting live acts. Representative of Edinburgh’s colourful music scene, a diverse range of genres have been hosted at the venue. Ms Roberts described the atmosphere when live music acts perform at her venue as “electric”. “The whole community comes together singing, dancing and having a party. Letting their hair down and forgetting their troubles. People go home happy after a brilliant night out. All the staff usually join in; the pub comes alive”. However licensing restrictions have seen a majority of the acts shut down due to noise complaints. “We have put on jazz, blues, rock, rockabilly, folk, celtic and pop live acts and have had to close everything down.” “Residents in Edinburgh unfortunately know that the Council policy gives them all the rights in the world, and the pubs and clubs none”, Ms Roberts clarified.

Discussing how inaudibility has affected venues and musicians alike, Ms Roberts stated many pubs have lost profit through the absence of gigs, and trying to soundproof their venue. “It has put many musicians out of work and it has had an enormous effect on earnings in the pub. […] Many clubs and bars have been forced to invest in thousands of pounds worth of soundproofing equipment which has nearly bankrupted them, only to find that even the tiniest bit of noise can still force a closure. It is a ridiculously one-sided situation.” Ms Roberts feels inaudibility is an unfair clause for venues. “I think it very clearly favours residents in Edinburgh and not business. […] Nothing is being done to support local business, and closing down all the live music venues in Edinburgh has hurt financially in so many ways. Not only do you lose money, you lose new faces, you lose the respect of the local musicians, and you begin to lose all hope in a ‘fair go’.”

With the petition holding a considerable number of signatures, Ms Roberts states she is still sceptical of any change occurring. “Over three thousand people have signed the petition and still the council is not moving. They have taken action on petitions with far fewer signatures.” Ms Roberts also added, “Right now I don’t think Edinburgh has much hope of positive change”.

Ms Roberts seems to have lost all hope for positive change in relation to Edinburgh’s music scene, and argues Glasgow is now the regional choice for live music and venues. “[E]veryone in the business knows they have to go to Glasgow for a decent scene. Glasgow City Council get behind their city.”

Ms Martina Cannon, member of local band The Mean Reds, said a regular ‘Open Mic Night’ she hosted at The Parlour on Duke Street has ceased after a number of complaints were made against the venue. “It was a shame because it had built up some momentum over the months it had been running”. She described financial loss to the venue from cancelling the event, as well as loss to her as organiser of the event.

Sneaky Pete’s music bar and club, owned by Nick Stewart, is described on its website as “open and busy every night”.”Many clubs could be defined as bars that host music, but we really are a music venue that serves drinks”, Mr Stewart says. He sees the live music scene as essential for maintaining nightlife in Edinburgh not only because of the economic benefit but more importantly because of the cultural significance. “Music is one of the important things in life. […] it’s emotionally and intellectually engaging, and it adds to the quality of life that people lead.”

Sneaky Pete’s has not been immune to the inaudibility clause. The business has spent about 20,000 pounds on multiple soundproofing fixes designed to quell complaints from neighboring residents. “The business suffered a great deal in between losing the option to do gigs for fear of complaints, and finishing the soundproofing. As I mentioned, we are a music business that serves drinks, not a bar that also has music, so when we lose shows, we lose a great deal of trade”, said Mr Stewart.

He believes there is a better way to go about handling complaints and fixing public nuisances. “The local mandatory condition requiring ‘amplified music and vocals’ to be ‘inaudible’ should be struck from all licenses. The requirement presupposes that nuisance is caused by music venues, when this may not reasonably be said to be the case. […] Nuisance is not defined in the Licensing Act nor is it defined in the Public Health Act (Scotland) 2008. However, The Consultation on Guidance to accompany the Statutory Nuisance Provisions of the Public Health etc (Scotland) Act 2008 states that ‘There are eight key issues to consider when evaluating whether a nuisance exists[…]'”.

The eight key factors are impact, locality, time, frequency, duration, convention, importance, and avoidability. Stewart believes it is these factors that should be taken into consideration by LSOs responding to complaints instead of the sole factor of “audibility”.He believes multiple steps should be taken before considering revocation of licenses. Firstly, LSOs should determine whether a venue is a nuisance based on the eight factors. Then, the venue should have the opportunity to comply by using methods such as changing the nature of their live performances (e.g. from hard rock to acoustic rock), changing their hours of operation, or soundproofing. If the venue still fails to comply, then a board can review their license with the goal of finding more ways to bring them into compliance as opposed to revoking their license.

Nick Stewart has discussed his proposal at length with Music is Audible and said he means to present his proposal to the City of Edinburgh Council.

Dr Adam Behr, a music academic and research associate at the University of Edinburgh who has conducted research on the cultural value of live music, says live music significantly contributes to the economic performance of cities. He said studies have shown revenue creation and the provision of employment are significant factors which come about as a result of live music. A 2014 report by UK Music showed the economic value generated by live music in the UK in 2013 was £789 million and provided the equivalent of 21,600 full time jobs.

As the music industry is international by nature, Behr says this complicates the way revenue is allocated, “For instance, if an American artist plays a venue owned by a British company at a gig which is promoted by a company that is part British owned but majority owned by, say, Live Nation (a major international entertainment company) — then the flow of revenues might not be as straightforward as it seems [at] first.”

Despite these complexities, Behr highlighted the broader advantages, “There are, of course, ancillary benefits, especially for big gigs […] Obviously other local businesses like bars, restaurants and carparks benefit from increased trade”, he added.

Behr criticised the idea of making music inaudible and called it “unrealistic”. He said it could limit what kind of music can be played at venues and could force vendors to spend a large amount of money on equipment that enables them to meet noise cancelling requirements. He also mentioned the consequences this has for grassroots music venues as more ‘established’ venues within the city would be the only ones able to afford these changes.

Alongside the inaudibility dispute has been the number of sites that have been closing for the past number of years. According to Dr Behr, this has brought attention to the issue of retaining live music venues in the city and has caused the council to re-evaluate its music strategy and overall cultural policy.

This month, Dr Behr said he is to work on a live music census for Edinburgh’s Council which aims to find out what types of music is played, where, and what exactly it brings to the city. This is in an effort to get the Edinburgh city council to see any opportunities it has with live music and the importance of grassroots venues. The census is similar to one conducted in Victoria, Australia in 2012 on the extent of live music in the state and its economic benefit.

As for the solution to the inaudibility clause, Behr says the initial step is dialogue, and this has already begun. “Having forum discussion, though, is a start — and an improvement”, he said. “There won’t be an overnight solution, but work is ongoing to try to find one that can stick in the long term.”

Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director of Music Venue Trust, said she is unable to comment on her work with the City of Edinburgh Council or on potential changes to the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy. However, she says, “I have been asked to assess the situation and make recommendations in September”.

According to The Scotsman, the Council is working toward helping Edinburgh’s cultural and entertainment scene. Deputy Council Leader Sandy Howat said views of the entertainment industry needs to change and the Council will no longer consider the scene as a “sideline”.

Senior members of the Council, The Scotsman reported, aim to review the planning of the city to make culture more of a priority. Howat said, “If you’re trying to harness a living community and are creating facilities for people living, working and playing then culture should form part of that.”

The review of the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy is set to be reviewed near the end of 2016 but the concept of bringing it forward to this year is still under discussion.

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Australian police seize one tonne shipment of ecstacy

Friday, April 15, 2005Police in Melbourne have seized over a tonne of ecstacy in a shipment of tiles from Italy. Four were arrested on Thursday and early Friday relating to the shipment, which the Australian Federal Police has called the biggest shipment of street-ready ecstacy pills in the world.

The four men were charged with aiding and abetting a prohibited import, according to ABC radio. Five million tablets were seized, with a reported street value of US$190 million (AU$250m). Two were additionally charged with attempting to possess a prohibited import.

Federal police were continuing to investigate a crime ring behind the shipment, a spokesperson told News24.com.

Federal Agent Mike Phelan said: “The AFP is now working with its counterparts in Italy and other parts of Europe to identify any overseas links with this latest seizure.”

X-rays taken of the shipment, which arrived in Port Melbourne earlier in the week, had revealed anomalies inside eight pallets which were stacked with tiles, said a report from Australian Associated Press.

Police then monitored the shipping container until it was delivered on Thursday to a suburban Melbourne factory, where two men were arrested, according to the News24.com report. Agents searched a dozen homes and businesses across Melbourne and arrested two more men early on Friday. All four suspects were due to appear in court later on Friday.

Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison praised the AFP, the Australian Customs Service and the Australian Crime Commission involved in the operation, which he told Australian Associated Press had been ongoing since January.

“This big seizure sends a very clear message to those who want to traffic drugs to Australia, you will be caught and face very serious penalties,” Senator Ellison told the news agency, saying the shipment “could have wreaked havoc”.

“Anyone who says this sort of seizure does not slow the supply of drugs is quite obviously out of touch with reality.”

The previous largest Australian ecstasy haul occurred in November 2004 in Sydney, when 1,800 pounds of ecstasy tablets and powder were seized, Australian Federal Police (AFP) told Reuters, compared to this shipment’s weight of 2,240 pounds.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Australian_police_seize_one_tonne_shipment_of_ecstacy&oldid=2515555”

Syrian citizen journalists risk death, targeted; city of Homs facing starvation

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Syrian forces have been shelling the Baba Amr district of Homs, Syria for almost a month. Civilians and journalists are amongst the dead, and Wikinews spoke to a local citizen journalist, attracting attention both from the world’s media and from the Syrian Armed Forces. According to Wikinews’ source, much of Homs is without water, and a city facing starvation.

Syrian forces began a ground assault on Homs February 4, using troops, and bombarding the city with tanks and artillery. To this day, the bombardment continues. Soldiers frequently clash with anti-government protesters, and ‘freedom fighters’ of the Free Syrian Army in violent, often deadly encounters. In the Baba Amr district of the city, “Omar” [for his safety, we only use his first name, Ed.], a citizen journalist with the Homs Media Center, created an account on the Bambuser website where users can stream live footage from PCs or mobile phones. He then pointed a camera out of his home, overlooking the city, and began broadcasting footage live on the Internet.

The violent, often deadly, events following may have, indirectly, resulted from this action. Journalists discussed in this article put their lives in jeopardy to give the world a record of events; in some cases, dying doing so. But, their deaths may not have been accidental; evidence suggests possible intentional targeting by Syrian government forces.

Omar usually began broadcasting just before sunrise. At 5:18 a.m. (EET) in Homs on February 9, Omar started his live broadcast; the sky still dark, with only a few lights flickering around the area. Sporadic gun and rocket fire between Syrian forces and the Free Syrian Army audible on the live feed. By sunrise, gun battles had ceased, the city silent except for the occasional rooster welcoming the morning sun. As daylight broke tanks inside the city, and artillery on its outskirts, began shelling buildings and other targets. Throughout the morning, rocket fire and tank shelling could be heard getting closer and closer to Omar’s position.

At approximately 07:40 EET, nearly two-and-a-half hours into the broadcast, the camera’s microphone records the audio of the brief, but distinct, ‘whistle’ of a rocket or shell as it sails through the air. It strikes close to the camera’s position, causing it to wobble an shake, nearly tipping over; smoke obscures the camera’s view, debris falling onto it whilst sounds of parts of nearby buildings collapsing are heard.

The camera continues to film, apparently undamaged. Omar’s house isn’t so lucky, suffering a direct hit from a rocket. Out of the camera’s view, people inside the house begin to scream. Less than two minutes later, a second rocket strikes the house just above and behind the camera’s position; again, causing it to shake. The sun casts the rising smoke’s shadow on the house next door as more debris hits the camera. Further screams are heard as rubble collapses around people inside. Those inside, running and shouting, now make up most of the broadcast audio; some begin to pray, whilst others bring round a car to carry out the injured or dead. Moments later another rocket is fired, residents screaming warnings to each other of another possible incoming strike. An explosion is heard, and smoke can be seen rising, center-right of the camera shot, from the rocket striking nearby.

A few minutes later, two men are seen coming out onto their balcony and looking in the direction of the house that was just hit. They talk, looking and pointing in the direction of Omar’s house, with the sound of gunfire in the area. At 07:50, they go back inside and out of sight.

Three minutes later a rocket is fired, striking that house, exactly where the two men were standing. It is unknown if they were killed or injured in the attack, but according to Omar the attacks around his home left five dead, three women and two men; Omar himself survives unscathed.

Despite the deaths in the February 9 attack, Omar kept his camera rolling whenever awake; but, that was about to change.

February 15 was a relatively quiet morning but, as sunrise gave way to the daylight, rockets began hitting targets in the city for the eleventh consecutive day. Shortly before 08:00 EET, a small plume of black smoke appears, left side of the live broadcast, an oil pipeline having sustained its first direct hit. Moments later, a second strike on the pipeline is in-shot, also to the left of the camera’s view. The acrid smoke from this strike quickly begins to grow.

Shortly after the second hit on the pipeline Omar enters the room, moving the camera to show both strikes. Twin plumes of thick black smoke are now visible rising in the distance. Omar states the oil pipeline sustained damage from an attack by Syrian military aircraft. From a United States Department of State satellite photo taken after the bombing, the pipeline is seen near a densely populated area of the city, with farmland lying to the west. The smoke from the pipeline fire blankets nearly all of the populated area, to the east, in range of the photo.

After repositioning the camera, Omar decided to leave his house to undertake some field work; a fortuitous move as Omar stated on his Twitter stream, “after we left the house” a rocket made a direct hit on it, leaving a hole in one of the sides. There were no injuries in the attack, the building being unoccupied at the time.

With sunset closing in and the pipeline still ablaze, Omar turned off his camera, not just for the night — indefinitely. Omar now believes he is in too much danger to broadcast further, tweeting: “[I] really am confused […] am worried to turn the live camera on. It’s become very dangerous.” Omar has since left his home.

Crucial as some of the live footage may be at getting pictures of bloodshed inside Syria out; for now, much of the output which ended up hosted on Bambuser has dried up. On February 17, the Syrian government blocked access to the website and its mobile phone application. Despite government action, some isolated examples of live footage continue making their way out of Syria, mainly from mobile phones.

Bambuser speculate that Syrian authorities’ move to block access may be a result of Omar’s live footage showing the oil pipeline fire on Feburary 15. That footage was rebroadcast on several major news networks, including CNN, BBC News, Al Jazeera and Sky News.

“We believe this footage was the trigger for the Syrian government to block access to bambuser.com and disable the possibility to broadcast live video with mobile phones on Syrian 3G,” said a Bambuser statement on their website. Bambuser has been blocked previously in other countries. Access to the site was blocked by Egypt in January 2011, during their revolution. Bahrain blocked the site six months ago, and it remains blocked to this day.

Bambuser’s statement continues: “Not only have we helped them get their message out, but they also say it means much in terms of morale for everyone in this situation. They [The Syrian people] know the world is watching, sharing and it gives them hope. No matter where in the world there is unrest, we at Bambuser always do our best to support and help observers”.

Omar is not alone in being at-risk; on February 18 a funeral for three men, shot and killed by Syrian forces during an anti-government protest the prior day, was being held in the central Mezzeh district of Damascus.

Over fifteen thousand people, including women and children, filled the streets paying their respects. After a prayer, during which mourners remained completely silent, the procession turned into a mass-protest. With mourners-turned-protesters marching down the streets, the sky over Damascus darkened and snow began falling. With the change of weather appearing to embolden the protesters, their chants grew louder.

Shortly thereafter, Syrian forces surrounded the front of the march, and opening fire with live rounds and tear gas. Panicked people quickly scattered, turning the once-peaceful march into a stampede. At least one was shot and killed. Dozens of others sustained injuries. This was the first time Syrian forces opened fire on protesters in central Mezzeh.Those people are just a small fraction of those who have been killed or injured since the uprisings began. It is estimated that from five thousand to upwards of seven thousand people have been killed since January of last year. As a result, on February 20, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced it was attempting to negotiate a cease fire by all parties “to facilitate swift Syrian Arab Red Crescent and ICRC access to the people in need.”

The ICRC wants troops to halt their attacks in cities that have seen the most fighting in order to deliver care packages. Bijan Farnoudi, a spokesman for the Red Cross, said discussions include “several possibilities” in which the packages can be delivered. Though the organization has been delivering food and supplies to as many cities and citizens as possible, heavy fighting in areas such as the Baba Amr district of Homs has made it increasingly difficult for aid to be delivered. Even while the Red Cross worked to negotiate a cease fire, reports out of Homs on February 20 said Syrian forces were amassing troops and tanks outside the city in preparation for an all-out ground invasion. According to Omar, the shellings continued, but on February 24, the Red Cross announced it was allowed to begin evacuating injured women and children from the city.

On February 21, a member of the Homs Media Center was killed by a rocket as Syrian forces continued their bombardment of the city for an eighteenth straight day. Rami al-Sayed was reported to have been severely injured by a rocket while attempting to evacuate individuals to a makeshift hospital, during what activists call the worst day of bombardment since Syrian forces began their attack on the city on February 4. According to Bambuser, he and three others were inside a car when it was hit by a mortar, immediately killing the others. Sayed bled to death at the hospital.

Sayed was a videographer “crucial in getting the truth out through his videos posted on the Internet. We will really miss him, especially the medical team who relied on him to document all the civilian injuries and deaths on video,” said Omar in an interview with CNN. Sayed also was one of the men affiliated with the account ‘syriapioneer’ on Bambuser. Like Omar, he would broadcast live footage of the events on the ground in Homs. Bambuser published the last known message sent out to friends and family: “Babaamr is facing a genocide right now. I will never forgive you for your silence. You all have just give us your words but we need actions. However our hearts will always be with those who risk their life for our freedom. … In a few hours there will be NO place called BabaAmr and I expect this will be my last message and no one will forgive you who talked but didn’t act.” Sayed, 26, had a daughter of 18 months. In December, a citizen-journalist cousin of Sayed’s, Basil al-Sayed, was also killed. In a statement to Wikinews Omar described Sayed as “my best friend” and they both have worked as citizen journalists for about “10 months”, around the beginning of the uprisings.

The killings didn’t end there. Another two journalists were killed February 22, whilst at the Homs Media Center. Marie Colvin, a Sunday Times journalist, and award winning French photographer Rémi Ochlik, were killed when rockets hit the center. At least two others were injured in the attack, French journalist Edith Bouvier and British photographer Paul Conroy.

The Syrian government denies involvement, saying their deaths were “absolutely not” caused “by Syrian armies.” The following day Bouvier made a video plea to Syrian forces that she be allowed to leave Homs to seek medical attention. Conroy stated, despite leg wounds, he was “OK.”

Omar was in a Skype conversation with a friend at the media center when the attack took place. He recorded the call’s audio using a web camera and posted the video on YouTube; sounds of explosions and possible gunfire can be heard throughout. Reports strongly suggest the media center attack was deliberate; radio communications between Syrian government forces indicate orders to attack the building — whilst making it appear individuals died caught in a gun battle with terrorists.

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What are your thoughts on the situation in Syria?Is the report from the Arab League credible in light of our video footage?How do you believe the international community should respond?
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It is because of situations such as that on February 16, the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) voted, “[…] overwhelmingly to call on both the government and allied forces and armed groups to stop all violence or reprisals immediately.” The UN GA press release expressed grave concern at the Syria’s deteriorating situation and, “[…] condemned a raft of violations carried out by the authorities, such as the use of force against civilians, the killing and persecution of protesters and journalists, and sexual violence and ill-treatment, including against children.”

Calling on Syria to abide obligations under international law, the UN GA “[…] demanded that the Government, in line with the 2 November 2011 Action Plan of the League of Arab States, and its decisions of 22 January and 12 February 2012, without delay, stop all violence and protect its people, release all those detained during the unrest, withdraw all armed forces from cities and towns, guarantee peaceful demonstrations and allow unhindered access for Arab League monitors and international media.”

137 nations voted for the General Assembly’s resolution, twelve opposed and 17 abstained. As with many UN GA resolutions, the findings and conclusions are non-binding.

Earlier, on February 4, the United Nations Security Council failed to pass resolution S/2012/77, supporting Arab League actions pursuing peace in Syria. This resolution was vetoed by Security Council members China and Russia.

The Arab League’s goal, according to their report on Syria, “is to protect Syrian citizens through the commitment of the Syrian government to stop acts of violence, release detainees and withdraw all military presence from cities like Homs, and an end to violence in Syria.” The League noted Homs, Dera‘a, Idlib, and Hama as the cities primarily affected by such incidents. The report claims all such incidents were caused by “armed groups” or “entities not mentioned in the protocol [report].”

Despite the League’s claim, live footage broadcast more than a month after the report was filed suggests the opposite as tanks continued to bombard cities like Homs. The League, in their report, go on to say Syrians “believe the crisis should be resolved peacefully through Arab mediation alone, without international intervention. Doing so would allow them to live in peace and complete the reform process and bring about the change they desire.”

Omar disagrees with the League’s conclusion that Syrians do not want international intervention. He believes if “the world” doesn’t act soon, many more will die from starvation. Medical supplies have not been making their way to makeshift hospitals and food is scarce. Much of the city is without water and Syrian forces continue their assault on the city. In a statement to Wikinews on Wednesday, Omar said “if they stay like this [the world] just watching us, people will die not because of the shelling, they will die because of starvation. We are surrounded. There is no food, no water and no medical supplies. If the world doesn’t do anything we will die from starvation. In the coming days I can see a massacre from starving.”

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Syrian_citizen_journalists_risk_death,_targeted;_city_of_Homs_facing_starvation&oldid=3863610”

The Importance Of Leadership Development

By Ray Subs

It’s easy to discount the importance of leadership development, assuming that corporate leaders either have what they take or they don’t and if they do they’ll learn as they go. If they don’t…well, if they didn’t have what it took they wouldn’t have been given a leadership role to begin with, right?

Not necessarily. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little leadership development.

There is no such thing as a natural born leader, which is why leadership development is so important. Anyone can have the fundamental requirements necessary for the leadership role. It’s how they develop them that matters.

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Leadership development is defined as an effort to enhance a learner’s ability to lead, an endeavor focused on developing the leadership abilities and attitudes of the individuals sitting at the top of the chain of command. Successful leadership development requires a lot more than the ability to give orders. It also requires diplomacy, top of the line people skills, a certain level of ruthlessness and an understanding of how much space there is and there isn’t between the executive suite and the mail room. A good leader doesn’t just lead. He or she leads by example.

Leadership development within a company should be addressed at both the individual and group level. Individual leadership development can be undertaken in both a hands-on and a classroom environment, and which method your organization chooses is entirely up to you. Through various exercises the individual learns to identify their strengths and weaknesses, using both to shape and mold their successful leadership style.

Individual leadership development is very important for individuals first entering the field and those who are having a difficult time taking up the reins of command. Additional leadership development offers them the opportunity to hone their skills, smooth over their weaknesses and learn to make the most of their current position rather than finding themselves stuck on the bottom rung of the ladder to success because of a lack of knowledge and personal resources.

Group leadership development is absolutely vital in any company, regardless of industry, because it teaches an executive team how to look, think and act like a team. For a business to run smoothly it’s essential that the executive team be able to operate like a well oiled wheel, cognizant of each other’s patterns, strengths, weaknesses and goals and able to work together to achieve success. Any leadership team that is rapidly ‘slapped’ together and tossed into the ring is going to fail almost instantly. It takes time and practice, and leadership development offers the opportunity for both.

Leadership development through books, activities, conferences and classroom studies is a vital part of any company’s success, which is why there are hundreds of books, seminars, conferences, workshops, boot camps and personal coaches devoted to that very goal. Never underestimate the importance of the team of people holding the reins in an organization, and don’t discount the need to allow those individuals to develop their leadership skills both inside and out of the office.

Leadership matters.

About the Author: Ray Subs is a public relations consultant for N2Growth, a company that specializes in helping businesses and their leaders grow and develop to find success in a competitive corporate environment. More information can be found at

N2Growth.com

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Source:

isnare.com

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