Human Rights group seeks judicial remedy for Philippine torture victims

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Human Rights group seeks judicial remedy for Philippine torture victims

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Hong Kong based Asian Human Rights Commission or AHRC appealed to the Philippines government to seriously pursue judicial options against victims of torture in the country.

The AHRC press statement was issued as part of the commemoration of the United Nations‘ International Day in Support of Victims of Torture calendared every June 26.

AHRC is a regional non-governmental organization monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984

The statement claimed that the Philippines Constitution specifically prohibits torture but there was no specific law against it, The group also lamented that, “there no judicial remedy for a violation of this right, torture has also not been declared a crime in the Philippines.”

An appeal was also conveyed to the Supreme Court to plan and implement remedies for torture victims and appealed to the country’s law makers to enact a law specifically banning and criminilizing any acts of torture.

AHRC compared the Philippines to Sri Lanka, wherein both countries are signatories to the Convention against Torture Act of 1994 of the United Nations.

The group cited that, “Sri Lanka has already complied with its obligation under the convention, the Philippines, which has signed and ratified the same U.N. convention against torture, has not done so despite being a party to the convention since June 1987.

Posted by 5MD3yc on January 19th, 2019

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Gevaert and Hellebaut win golden medal at European athletics championships

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Gevaert and Hellebaut win golden medal at European athletics championships

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Kim Gevaert and Tia Hellebaut both won their finals last night in Gothenburg at the European Championships in Athletics. For Gevaert, who already won the 100m sprint three days ago and held third place in the world ranking, 22.68 seconds in the 200 metres was enough to haul in a second golden medal. Russians Yuliya Gushchina (22.93) and Natalya Ruskova (23.09) had to settle for silver and bronze. Hellebaut jumped over 2.01 metres and then only needed one attempt to cross 2.03 metres, unexpectedly winning the high jump event. Favourite Kajsa Bergqvist only finished third, after Venelina Veneva from Bulgaria, who also made 2.03 metres but needed two jumps to succeed.

As Gevaert crossed the finish line cheering, Hellebaut came to congratulate her carrying a Belgian flag. Indeed, the victory of the two 28-year old Belgian women was historical: while Hellebaut bettered the Belgian record, Gevaert was the first Belgian athlete ever to win two golden medals at the European championships. The last women to crown herself in both sprint events was Russian Irina Privalova in 1994. Francis Obikwelu also brought in a sprint double victory for Portugal on Thursday.

Gevaert credited her victory partly to Hellebaut’s medal: “I screamed when my friend Tia won the high jump,” Gevaert told the gathered European press. “Seeing her gave me so much motivation two minutes before my own start.” And she continued: “I wonder what is going on right now in Belgium with three gold medals. It is wonderful for such a small country.” Hellebaut admitted that her achievement was “…beyond all expectations.”

Gevaert succeeds Muriel Hurtis as European Champion. Hurtis didn’t make it past the semi-finals. Four years ago, it was Hurtis who held off Gevaert, who had to settle for silver then. “I was a lot better than four years ago in Munich, when I was four years younger and much more nervous,” Gevaert explained.

Posted by 5MD3yc on January 19th, 2019

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US president Obama, Congress call for blocking of executive bonuses at AIG insurance company

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US president Obama, Congress call for blocking of executive bonuses at AIG insurance company

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

United States President Barack Obama stated Monday that insurance giant AIG is in financial trouble due to “recklessness and greed,” and called for legal action to stop the company from giving out millions of dollars in bonuses to its executives.

“It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay,” Obama said. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat.”

Obama’s statement comes after reports surfaced last weekend saying the insurance agency, which is in deep financial trouble, had paid US$165 million to executives in bonuses, after receiving $170 billion as part of a government bailout plan.

AIG has said that the bonuses have to be given out, as the company is legally required by contract to do so. A representative with the National Economic Council, Lawrence H. Summers, also said that the bonuses were required to be given out. If AIG had refused to give out the bonuses, employees could file a lawsuit against the company for the money.

“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said in a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Saturday.

Liddy said that he asked Geithner “to use that leverage and pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.”

“I want everybody to be clear that Secretary Geithner’s been on the case,” Obama said. “He’s working to resolve this matter with the new CEO, Edward Liddy, who, by the way, everybody needs to understand, came on board after the contracts that led to these bonuses were agreed to last year.”

If the bonuses cannot be stopped, the U.S. Congress says they want AIG to reimburse the government. Congress is looking to impose stiff new taxes on the pay, or ordering the company to return the money which was originally granted from a government bailout. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, senator Richard Shelby promised that the treasury will recover all of the money. Several U.S. senators along with Liddy have sent letters to AIG asking for the bonuses to be renegotiated, something AIG agreed to and says they will reduce future bonuses by 30%. Senators state that if Libby does not respond by renegotiating the bonuses, the Senate Finance Committee will propose an excise tax. Not only will an excise tax be proposed on AIG, but all companies receiving bailout money and their employees who receive bonuses.

What is the highest excise tax we can impose that will stand up in court? Let’s find out.

Numerous House Democrats have introduced legislation which would place a 100% tax on any bonuses of over $100,000 from companies that are receiving government bailout funds. Meanwhile in the Senate, a bipartisan proposal by Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) would levy a special 90% excise tax on AIG’s bonuses. Asked Senator Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee: “What is the highest excise tax we can impose that will stand up in court? Let’s find out.”

Posted by 5MD3yc on January 19th, 2019

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Manitoba’s flood creating hazardous conditions

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Manitoba’s flood creating hazardous conditions

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Red River at Winnipeg is almost clear of ice blocks and ice jamming, however there are still dangers from the Red River flood.

Ice blocks which were as high as two storey buildings were ripping out trees, fences and railway ties. “You’ll see huge pans of ice standing vertical, up to 20 feet (6.1 m) high,” said Steve Topping, an official with the provincial Water Stewardship Department. “Ice was shoved up on the shore and took out trees with a very devastating effect. It has changed people’s view of the river.”

“It is incredible, the force. One piece of ice pushed out of the river about 20 feet. You watch the force push this up right in front of your eyes,” said Dean North, of the Selkirk Golf and Country Club.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police are ticketing sight seers who are driving through road closure signs and approaching excavators, cranes and crews breaking up the ice. Vehicles, people, boats, and kayaks are getting in the way.

An eight year old boy is in critical condition after slipping on a culvert Thursday. He was pulled underwater by the speed of the flowing water and remained under for about five to ten minutes until adults could rescue him. The air ambulance supplied by Alberta’s STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) remains in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“This is not a spectator sport. It’s not about getting the best pictures for the family albums. I know floods are seen as a bit of an event, but some of the instances I’m hearing about, people should give their head a shake, they really should,” said Steve Ashton Manitoba Emergency Measures Minister, “Those who fall into the river or get into trouble in another way would be not only endangering themselves but the emergency response crews trying to rescue them. I don’t want to see a situation … where we’re trying our darndest to prevent flooding and save lives and somebody [who] decides to go have a white-water experience ends up killing themselves.”

Early Easter Sunday morning floodwater reached the rural municipalities of St. Andrews and St. Clements north of Winnipeg. Residents were sent an evacuation advisory Good Friday, however some residents remained. Rescue efforts commenced Saturday night to find those stranded and unable to leave as their vehicles cannot travel in the swollen overland floodwaters. Some people were rescued from roof tops as entire houses were swept off of their foundations by the large ice blocks hurtling down the river.

Highways in the area remain closed. Neil Gobelle, of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation said to “definitely continue to watch the Red River Valley and north of the city up in the Selkirk area. Things are changing quite a bit, quite quickly, so we’ll keep an eye on those areas.”

As of Easter Sunday, Winnipeg is expected to be ice free on the Red River. The River rose 4 feet (1.2 m) in the course of 24 hours. Rain is in the forecast and the higher temperatures of 17 °C (62.6 °F) will cause melting of snow and ice.

A weather system caused by La Niña is being watched by the United States National Weather Service and its potential effects between April 16-18 for residents along the Red River Valley. “We want people to be aware there is a very real possibility of the river going higher than what is out there,” said Mark Ewens, data manager at the NWS, “To have spring floods like this back-to-back is just an unfortunate series of events that have come along to plague us this spring. We’re wanting people to understand that this is a potentially serious problem.”

Posted by 5MD3yc on January 19th, 2019

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Iraqi activist forced to change t-shirt with Arabic peace slogan

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Iraqi activist forced to change t-shirt with Arabic peace slogan

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi peace activist who lives in the United States, was forced to change his T-Shirt, which bore an Arabic slogan, because it was found “offensive”.

The incident took place in JFK airport in New York. The activist Jarrar reported in his blog RaedInTheMiddle that he had checked-in his bags and was issued a boarding pass. After waiting near the gate to board his jetBlue airlines flight, and after having to gone through a secondary search, two officials approached him.

“People are feeling offended because of your t-shirt,” Raed reported that one of the men said to him. The writings on the T-Shirt said in both Arabic and English: “We will not be silent”.

Raed asked why this has offended anyone, and insisted his right to freedom of expression was violated.

According to Jarrar, one of the inspectors said, “You can’t wear a T-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads ‘I am a robber’ and going to a bank”. The airport official, unable to read Arabic, was unyielding to protests by Jarrar that the English language version of the Arabic was accurate, and suggested he wear the shirt inside out.

“Many people called and complained about your t-shirt. Jetblue customers were calling before you reached the checkpoint, and customers called when you were waiting here in the boarding area”, Jarrar was told after he complained.

One employee from JetBlue offered to buy Jarrar a T-shirt to replace the one he was wearing, since the activist had none other after his bags were checked. Refusing at first, he agreed to wear one with “New York” written on it.

The officer on the scene commented that it need not have gone from one extreme to the other: wearing a T-Shirt with an Arabic peace slogan on it, to wearing one with ‘New York’. There is no reason to hate New York if you are an Arab speaking peace activist, according to Jarrar.

“I feel very sad that my personal freedom was taken away like this. I grew up under authoritarian governments in the Middle East, and one of the reasons I chose to move to the U.S. was that I don’t want an officer to make me change my t-shirt. I will pursue this incident today through a constitutional rights organization, and I am sure we will meet soon,” Raed said.

He was issued another boarding pass, with a different seat at the back of the plane.

JetBlue said it was investigating the incident but a spokeswoman said: “We’re not clear exactly what happened.” The spokeswoman also said the airline does not forbid Arabic T-shirts, but that it does take into account the concerns of its passengers.

The American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee said the US Transportation Department and the Transportation Security Administration were also investigating the incident after the committee lodged complaints on behalf of Jarrar.

“We Will Not Be Silent” is a slogan adopted by opponents of the war in Iraq and other conflicts in the Middle East.

It is said to derive from the White Rose dissident group which opposed Nazi rule in Germany.

Posted by 5MD3yc on January 17th, 2019

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Telecom New Zealand to sell Yellow Page Group

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Telecom New Zealand to sell Yellow Page Group

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Telecom New Zealand has announced that it is going to sell its Yellow Page Group business and is expecting at least NZ$2 billion. The Yellow Page Group includes the Yellow Pages, White Pages (which includes both offline and online services), New Zealand Retirement Guide and New Zealand Tourism Online.

However Chief Financial Officer, Mark Bogoievski, will not comment on how much the reserve price is.

The company says that the money they get from selling the directories will be used to repay almost $3.5 billion worth of debt.

Theresa Gattung, Chief Executive of Telecom, said: “There has already been considerable interest shown in the future of Yellow Pages Group based on recent media speculation. We expect that the sale should be completed by the end of this financial year.”

The Yellow Page Group generates $250 million worth of revenue per annum and employs 600 people.

Ms Gattung said: “In the long term the business will be dominated by the global players. It’s really prudent off us to take this opportunity to see what value we can get looking at the sale of this business at this stage.”

Analysts are warning Telecom that it would miss out on the digital media possibilities. “It looks to me that it is a bit of a panic reaction in order to generate some quick cash,” said, telecommunications expert, Paul Budde, “I think it’s a short-term sort of strategy to generate some cash, but it will undermine its long term strategy to move from the old Telecom’s world into the new digital media world.”

Ms Gattung said that the privacy of the individuals will be kept, “obviously we’re only going to sell to a very reputable party.”

Telecom is also hinting at cutting hundreds of jobs to invest in new technology to beat off competition.

Posted by 5MD3yc on January 17th, 2019

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Deadly illegal sexual enhancement products appear on the Singaporean market

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Deadly illegal sexual enhancement products appear on the Singaporean market

Friday, April 11, 2008

New ‘deadly’ sexual enhancement products have been found in Singaporean markets and can cause serious side effects on users.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) announced the presence of the illegal drugs, known as Power 1 Walnut, Santi bovine penis erecting capsule, Zhong Hua Niu Bian and fake Cialis, which have been discovered over the past 3 months. Santi bovine penis erecting capsule has been found to contain high amounts of glibenclamide, a potent drug used to treat diabetes. The tablets also contain sildenafil and tadalafil – potent western medicines used to treat erectile dysfunction. Zhong Hua Niu Bian also contains sildenafil and glibenclamide.

High consumption of the tablets can be potentially deadly as the glibenclamide in the capsules can lead to drastically reduced blood sugar levels which can lead to seizures, stroke, coma or death. Consuming half of a Power 1 Walnut capsule has led to unconsciousness and frothing at the mouth.

Consumption of Power 1 Walnut has led to the death of a middle age man last week who fell into a coma. Currently, one death and two cases of coma have been reported from the total of 89 hospitalised cases linked with the consumption of the illegal drugs. It has been revealed that patients obtained the drugs by purchasing them from illegal peddlers located in various parts of Singapore.

The HSA has advised people to stop consuming the drugs and to report on any cases of consumption to them.

Posted by 5MD3yc on January 17th, 2019

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Workers at Swansea auto parts plant vote to strike

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Workers at Swansea auto parts plant vote to strike

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Workers at the Linamar automobile parts factory in Swansea, Wales voted by a wide margin today to strike, after an dispute over the firing of one of the worker’s union organisers remained unresolved.

An 88% turnout resulted in a vote of 139 in favor of striking to 19 against.

Canada-based Linamar took over the plant from Visteon in July 2008. Shortly after the takeover, Linamar offered 208 of the plant’s 360 workers voluntary redundancy, hoping to transfer work to Mexico; 140 accepted. Linamar claims to have no long-term plans to close the plant. On April 28, however, Linamar fired political activist and union convener Rob Williams. Upon Williams’ firing, he refused to leave the Visteon plant. The police escorted him from the building as the day shift workers at the plant staged a spontaneous walkout. Williams was temporarily reinstated after emergency negotiations between Unite and Visteon management, but his dismissal was made permanent a week later.

Unite, Williams’s trade union, describe Williams’s firing as an “illegal” “attack on the union” and has brought the matter to the attention of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Williams himself told left-wing newspaper Socialist Worker: “They have sacked me because they want to weaken the union and intimidate the shop floor.”

Workers at the plant also say Linamar is breaking a promise made to the union when the plant was taken over to keep Visteon’s terms and conditions, particularly to establish a final pension scheme for workers who were part of the company before its 2000 spin-off from Ford.

Linamar has not given comment to the press on the dispute as of this writing.

Rallies in support of Williams, who is also running for European Parliament on the No2EU ticket, and of the union have drawn sizeable crowds, with about 90 at the most recent rally include three Members of the Welsh Assembly representing the ruling coalition of the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru as well as the Liberal Democrats, on May 17 outside the Visteon plant in Swansea.

Linamar Swansea has close ties with Visteon factories in Enfield, Belfast and Basildon. Workers at those three factories recently won a victory against Visteon by occupying their plants and locking management out when redundancies were announced in April.

Posted by 5MD3yc on January 16th, 2019

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Rocketeers find possible impact crater in Nevada

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Rocketeers find possible impact crater in Nevada

Friday, March 9, 2007

Imagine coming back from a camping trip in the desert. Then a few months later you notice in your photos from the trip that you camped inside a giant impact crater so big that no one documented it before. Could it happen?

During several trips to the Black Rock Desert, mostly while supporting the Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team for suborbital space rocket launch efforts, Ian Kluft KO6YQ noticed some oddities in rock formations. He had a little experience with volcanoes, and some rocks in the area looked unusual. There seemed to be some lava here and there – but where was the volcano? He observed that even a large caldera should have mostly volcanic rocks. He then noticed some curved geographic structures in satellite imagery which made him curious if it might be an impact crater.

A TV documentary about meteor impacts mentioned some characteristics of impact craters. He went to the Internet to learn more. He noticed some of his own pictures of the area had cone shaped structures which might be “shatter cones” due to an impact shock wave that passed through the rocks. Discussion with others produced suggestions and volunteers who joined the effort. More circular features in satellite photographs were found. Igneous dikes through white layers of rock had been described and were visible in many photos.

The possible impact crater is 30 miles (48 km) wide east-to-west and 40 miles (64 km) north-to-south centered around 40.984045 N, 118.916016 W. That is in northwestern Nevada halfway between Reno and the Oregon border. The apparent ancient geological structure is so old that much of it is eroded away. The forces that eroded the Black Rock Desert itself, whether glacier or stream, have apparently cut through the crater rims and floor to do it.

Following an expedition to the area in late January, more possible shatter cones were observed in one of the rock samples collected. These are only formed by the shock wave of an impact event or nuclear explosion. The nearest nuclear test was underground at Sand Springs Range in central Nevada. Atmospheric tests at the Nevada Test Site were at the southern, and opposite, end of the state. So that points toward an impact if confirmed. But professional geologists will want to have the final word on confirming them.

In addition to shatter cones, rock samples were thought to contain shocked quartz because the criss-cross fractures looked like examples in online documents. But this group of volunteers doesn’t have equipment for proper photography of shocked quartz. If found, that would be another way to prove the impact origin of the rocks.

Columnar jointed columns hundreds of feet tall appear on some bluffs in locations that appeared consistent with part of a slowly cooling crater floor. But that alone only helps as part of a bigger picture, because volcanoes can have lava cool in columnar joints as well.

They also found local geological studies which described oddities which could be explained by an impact event. Layers of rocks in the mining district called Sulphur left geologists with a mystery about the cause of chemical alterations since 1980. The group compared it with information in online geological texts like “Traces of Catastrophe” by Dr Bevan M French of the Smithsonian Institution. Layers of impact ejecta seemed to explain the rock layers better than the previous theory about acid uniformly cooking the rocks across the region, and only in one layer of rocks. A separate 1980 study 40 miles away identified an immense air-fall tuff layer in the Soldier Meadows area as having been deposited in a single unit, yet couldn’t locate the volcano which produced this enormous volume. Fault diagrams published online by a mining operation at Sulphur on the edge of the circular structure from the satellite photo also look like curved terraced faults in the wall of a crater.

The mining geologists who wrote papers from 1980 to 2002 had not mentioned the possibility of a crater. But they were each gathering single puzzling pieces of information. A larger image seemed to be forming when putting the pieces together. The group hopes the information will be helpful to geologists who do further work in the region.

The theory hasn’t been put to any test by professionals yet. Some responses point out that the elliptical region reported as the possible impact crater could also be the volcanic caldera that the 1980 study was looking for. If so, such a large volcanic caldera would still be a significant discovery for the region.

This will remain officially a mystery for a while until the professional geologists get to study it. There is a lot of information available online for those who are interested.

Posted by 5MD3yc on January 16th, 2019

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Australian Tax Office warns against tax return scam

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Australian Tax Office warns against tax return scam

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has warned against a fraudulent email claiming to be from the ATO. The email, which is similar to previous scams, uses the ATO logo and has the subject line of ‘Notification – Please read’, ‘Australian Taxation Office – Please read’ or other variations.

The email directs recipients to a bogus website that looks similar to the ATO website and requests credit card and personal details.

“People should be wary of unsolicited emails claiming to be from the Tax Office,” says Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo.

“As an extra precaution we recommend you type internet addresses directly into your internet browser rather than clicking on links embedded in emails,” added D’Ascenzo who also stated that anyone who receives the email should delete it immediately.

Anyone who believes they may have fallen victim to this scam are urged to contact their credit card provider.

The ATO Says that it does not send any unsolicited emails.

Posted by 5MD3yc on January 15th, 2019

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