Friday, August 12, 2011

File:Kareen overington.jpg

Former Australian Member of Parliament Karen Overington has died at the age of 59. Her death followed a long battle with ill health. Overington was the Member of Parliament for Ballarat West with the Labor Party from 1999 until she stood down in 2010. During her political career, Overington worked to improve living standards for the community’s disadvantage.

Tributes have flown in for Overington from both her political colleagues and opponents. Premier of Victoria Ted Baillieu said “On behalf of the Victorian Coalition government, I express sincere condolences to family, friends and parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the Parliament, Karen was always a passionate representative of the Labor Party, the people of Ballarat and the people of Victoria.”

Opposition leader Daniel Andrews also commented: “She stood up for her community, lobbying strongly to deliver better education, health and other services that have made a real difference to families in Ballarat West.” Sharon Knight, the woman who won the parliamentary seat in Ballarat West after Overington stood down, praised her, saying, “she epitomised a real local member.”

Overington is survived by her two children.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Massey Energy Co., the fourth largest coal producer in the U.S., filed a federal lawsuit against the Governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin.

Massey’s CEO Don Blankenship alleged that Gov. Manchin acted in retaliation against the company’s coal mining operations because the company spent $650,000 in an advertising campaign to defeat the governor sponsored pension bond proposal. The $5.5 billion bond proposal, intended to shore up the state’s sagging pension plan, was defeated in a special election held in June.

The Massey lawsuit, filed last Tuesday on July 26 in the U.S. District Court in the W.V. southern district, was referred to by Gov. Manchin as having less to do with the bond proposal than with the newly increased state “severance tax” on coal. Nearly 40 million tons of coal production will be subject to the 56-cent tax.

According to Blankenship, that tax amounts to $22.4 million in additional costs for the company, but he denied the increase has anything to do with the lawsuit.

The company reported profits that almost tripled during the second quarter compared to a year ago. Of the company’s rosy earnings picture, Blankenship urged states to “show some frugality” by not placing tax burdens on coal to solve state budget shortfalls. He said his company is “playing a role” because there was no need for the bond sale and the state can afford to make payments into the pension system.

Blankenship acknowledged during a conference call the now-rescinded June 30 permit by the W.V. Department of Environment Protection (DEP). At issue was the department’s permit for mining operations near the Marsh Fork Elementary School, in Sundial, W.V. The school rests at the base of a mountain selected by Massey for “Mountain Top Removal” (MTR) mining techniques. Along with the mining equipment, a coal preparation plant and a sludge pond were established on the mountain. Protest groups, mainly the Coal River Mountain Watch and Mountain Justice Summer, presented a list of demands to Massey officials that included shutting down the preparation plant, ceasing all MTR mining above the Marsh Fork Elementary School, and abandoning plans for a second coal silo near the school. They also ask that the Marsh Fork school be cleaned up or relocated. The state permit for a second coal storage silo was rescinded by the DEP the same day Massey filed the Manchin lawsuit.

Gov. Manchin in June said that Blankenship could expect tougher state scrutiny of his business affairs since the Massey media campaign against the pension bond proposal. “I think that is justified now, since Don has jumped in there with his personal wealth trying to direct public policy,” he said at an appearance at an American Electric Power event in Putnam County.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Several new developments have occurred surrounding the loss of Philippine ferry MV Princess of the Stars, which capsized and sank on June 21 during a severe storm. The loss near Sibuyan island during Typhoon Fengshen, known locally as Frank, killed more than 800 of those on board.

Ship owner Sulpicio Lines has sued Del Monte Philippines for failing to declare a cargo of the dangerous pesticide endosulfan that was on board. Sulpicio yesterday sued the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMO) for allegedly making comments contributing to negative publicity surrounding the line and asked a court to stop the body continuing its investigation, saying it no longer had any authority. Today, that request was denied.

Another outcome of today’s proceedings is a deadline for Sulpicio to recover the ship. The company has ninety days to ensure the recovery operation is complete.

Yesterday, an eight-page complaint was filed against Del Monte at Manila City’s regional trial court. It alleges that Del Monte violated the line’s terms by failing to inform Sulpicio that the shipment included edosulfan. The line notes that any toxic cargo should have been declared. Suplicio is seeking PHP5.5 million from the company for alleged negligence.

“Due to Del Monte’s deceit and non-disclosure, plaintiff was led to believe that the subject shipment of Endosulfan was a regular cargo. Had defendant Del Monte disclosed the toxic nature of the cargo, plaintiff would not have loaded the same on board a passenger-cargo vessel, be it MV Princess of the Paradise or MV Princess of the Stars,” said a statement by Suplicio.

The exact total sought as damages is P549,661.11, which accounts for the correct rate for shipping if the toxic cargo had been declared, plus double rates as punitive measures. On top of those damages sought is P3 million to cover specialist recovery required for the chemical, P1 million in moral damges for lost corporate goodwill and damage to Sulpicio’s reputation, P500,000 in moral damages for Sulpicio marketing vice president and shareholder Jordan L. Go, P200,000 in exemplary damages and P300,000 in legal costs.

The discovery that the ship was carrying the endosulfan shipment, which totaled 10 metric tons, led to a ban on fishing in the nearby town of San Fernando and an emergency cessation of search and rescue activities, which were mostly being conducted by divers. The pesticide is banned in many countries and is subject to various regulations in the Philippines. Water samples from the wreck site show that thus far the pesticide has not leaked.

A specialist joint team is set to arrive soon from the European Union and the United Nations Environmental Programme to assist with opearations relating to the pesticide, which is a neurotoxin.

The Philippine Coast Guard yesterday awarded some 42 staff divers and six civilian volunteer divers for their work at the Princess of the Stars. They were particularly praised for being keen to return to work. They are awaiting the results of tests for exposure to endosulfan.

Endosulfan is one of the items set for retrieval in a new deadline set by the government task force overseeing the disaster. Sulpicio must also recover the remaining bodies and the unused fuel on board within 90 days.

Sulpicio had initially offered to have the job done in 164 days, but Transportation Undersecretary Elena Bautista rejected this proposal, saying “Out of humanitarian reasons, I told them not to prolong the agony of the victims’ relatives all the way to Christmas.” Sulpicio was given until Wednesday to name the salvage contractor who would be responsible for recovering the ship, after which they were to submit their retrieval plans to the International Maritime Organisation.

Sulpicio was also given the option of simply towing the ship closer to shore to do the recovery instead of refloating it, which they have opted for. In Bautista’s words: “Based on the Sulpicio report this morning, their plan now is to just tow the vessel to the shore, get the hazardous materials out, get the fuel out, and get the people out and I think that would be more cost-effective and most practical because that can be done, maybe within a month, as compared to refloating, which would probably take three months.”

Sulpicio is currently considering three different potential salvors, which remain unnamed. They have been told that the company needs to have expertise suitable enough to ensure marine life is not harmed and hazardous materials are not spilled. There is a possibility that the planned towing will damage nearby coral. It is already confirmed by the coastguard that oil onboard cannot leak. Most of the 250,000 litres of bunker fuel are in the service tank, which is considered safe. Only the small amount of oil in the base tank may leak but oil spill containment booms are already in place should this occur.

The government has said that, had Sulpicio not made provisions to get the salvage done, then they would have performed the operation themselves. Had this occurred, Sulpicio would have been charged for it, with the bill estimated at P100 million.

One aspect of another legal case was resolved today. Sulpicio had questioned the authority of the BMI to conduct investigations, instead saying only the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) had the right to do so, and pointing to a separate inquiry started by MARINA. However, a hearing today found that the BMI and MARINA serve different roles. The BMI’s role is solely to determine the cause of marine accidents. MARINA’s purpose is more concerned with regulations, and is mainly investigating the role of Sulpicio themselves. “We are looking at why we should not cancel the company’s franchise,” explained MARINA Administrator Vicente Suazo Jr.

Both investigations are ongoing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

While it was just a joke, the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia doesn’t find a recent “Mother Goose and Grimm” comic terribly funny.

In what the coffee growers association calls “an attack on national dignity and the reputation of Colombian coffee,” the characters in a comic strip by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mike Peters call into question the relationship of Colombian coffee growers and the crime syndicates of Columbia.

The cartoonist is being sued not only for “damages [to] the intellectual heritage” of the coffee, but also “moral compensation. A public manifestation,” to the tune of $20 million.

At the start of a week-long series of strips, a dog character named “Ralph” finds out that part of chemist and food storage technician Fred Baur‘s remains was buried in a Pringles can, upon his last wishes. Baur’s best known innovation, among multiple, was the patented can and packing method for the Pringles potato chip. The character theorizes what other remains might be interred in their food packaging. Eventually, the dog states that “when they say there’s a little bit of Juan Valdez in every can, maybe they’re not kidding.”This play on an old advertising slogan refers to fictional character Juan Valdez, created by the Federación Nacional.

In a statement Peters says:

I had no more thought to insult Colombia and Juan Valdez than I did Pringles, Betty Crocker, Col. Sanders, Dr. Pepper and Bartles & Jaymes. The cartoon is meant to be read along with the rest of the week as a series of which the theme is based on the fact that the inventor of the Pringles can had his ashes buried in one.

I thought this was a humorous subject and all of my Mother Goose & Grimm cartoons are meant to make people laugh. I truly intended no insult.

Julio Cesar Gonzalez, El Tiempo newspaper’s famous cartoonist, told the BBC that the lawsuit is “a real waste of time.”

In 2006, the Federación Nacional sued Café Britt over their advertising campaign titled “Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican coffee. In a counter-suit, Britt presented an affidavit from a Costa Rican man named “Juan Valdez”, acknowledging that he drinks Costa Rican coffee, and that the name is too generic to be exclusive. A variety of legal challenges and charges from both sides were eventually dropped. The phrase was actually first used in a 1999 speech by Jaime Daremblum, then-Costa Rican ambassador to the United States.

Mother Goose and Grimm appears in over 800 newspapers worldwide; Peters has won the Pulitzer for his editorial cartoons for the Dayton Daily News. Thirty years ago, his editorial cartoon about electricity prices featured Reddy Kilowatt, an electricity generation spokescharacter. The Daily News defended that comic image in the United States Supreme Court, winning on the basis that “the symbol was not selling a product”, and thus the satire was legally permissible.

Peters drinks Colombian coffee.

Submitted by: Winifed Churchill

The POWER of solar power is being recognized by companies around the world. They are developing products that are being tested in real life as well as in experimental situations.

As with many other emerging technologies, demand is driving developers and manufacturers to address what consumers want – and that is less expensive energy. As new products and ideas are introduced, they will be placed on the fast track.

The buying public, especially the younger generations, want their children to have better options in safe and inexpensive power, clean air, safe sources of water, pristine forests and parks in short the best. And we know it is our responsibility to return the environment to this condition. For the most part, we of the older generation know what those things are and we must keep asking for solutions from our scientists and engineers.

In Mexico a solar dish is being tested. It is made up of multiple mirrors that focus the energy of the sun creating heat which is transmitted to an engine filled with hydrogen. The expanding and contracting hydrogen gas drives pistons which power a generator which creates electricity.

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A new thin-film technology is being used on the windows of high-rise apartment buildings and skyscrapers to collect the sun’s power for use in the buildings. It is attractive and not nearly as expensive as regular solar panels.

The same thin-film or thin-membrane technology may allow solar power to be used to produce electricity in areas where it is very cold, very hot, or even when it is cloudy. This technology generates less power per area, but it also uses less polysilicon which makes it cheaper to produce and more durable and attractive as a facade for skyscrapers and the roofs of houses. Thin-film is attracting major manufacturers around the world.

New solar technology is using crystalline silicon cells for solar power panels. They are gradually getting smaller and less expensive. For example a tiny row of these solar power cells can run a retail store’s calculator for an entire work day and these same cells can be placed onto a roll-able mat and rolled out when needed.

One criticism of solar energy is that it cannot be relied upon for a steady supply of energy, but there are projects underway which are addressing that issue. I don’t doubt for a minute that solutions will be found very soon.

In short, solar technology is going the way of the computer industry or cell phones. The first computers filled entire rooms and did little more than crunch numbers. Now you get the same functionality available in personal computers on tiny cell phones. The main reason for this phenomenon is the invention of silicon chips. The new silicon cells for solar panels may bring a similar revolution to solar power making it a reliable, clean source of energy.

The sun is not likely to go the way of fossil fuels! Man’s ingenuity and persistence WILL find the answers! And now that universities and industry leaders are joining forces to accelerate and commercialize research in solar energy, I’m convinced that we will all be using more solar powered products in the very near future.

About the Author: I am excited about the new technologies emerging in the solar energy field. At


I am collecting info and solutions that may be useful. Visit WiniAnn’s Blog at

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Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is St. Paul’s West (Ward 21). One candidate responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include John Adams, Tony Corpuz, Joe Mihevc (incumbent), and John Sewell.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The United States House of Representatives has passed the bipartisan US$152 billion economic stimulus package that gives one-time rebates to United States citizens, US$600 for individuals or US$1,200 for couples plus US$300 for each child. US$300 checks would be sent to people on low-income including retirees on Social Security which was not included in the original bill backed by President George W. Bush. The plan would begin to decrease rebates for citizens with taxable incomes of US$75,000 for individuals and US$150,000 for couples. The checks would go out to more than a 130 million Americans according to Treasury secretary Henry Paulson.

The House overwhelmingly approved the more broad Senate amended bill which included the low-income portion mentioned above along with provisions that would keep illegal aliens from receiving a rebate check. Despite some opposition from some Congressmen, such as John B. T. Campbell III of California’s 48th congressional district, the plan passed overwhelmingly 380–34.

Campbell called the plan “wealth redistribution” and noted it did not have safeguards to prevent illegals from receiving these rebates and also claimed that stimulus plan would increase the deficit more and noted the cause of the looming recession was because of “credit problems.”

The United States Senate voted hours earlier on the bill which passed in the Senate, 81–16. after having to shed some incentives included by Senate Democrats which caused the bill to fail. Some of the incentives that were left out of the plan in a compromise to gain Republican support were demands for benefits for long-term unemployed workers and stipulation that would allow low-income citizens to pay off heating bills and let home builders pay off losses off the current year against previous tax years.

President Bush approved of the package, noting in a statement, “This plan is robust, broad-based, timely, and it will be effective, this bill will help to stimulate consumer spending and accelerate needed business investment.”



Sunday, November 6, 2016

The following is the sixth and final edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the Free & Equal Foundation holds a presidential debate with three little-known candidates; three additional candidates give their final pleas to voters; and past Wikinews interviewees provide their electoral predictions ahead of the November 8 election.


  • 1 Summary
  • 2 Free & Equal Debate
  • 3 Final pleas
  • 4 Predictions
  • 5 Related articles
  • 6 Sources



Monday, June 27, 2005

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that “non-neutral” displays of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms violate the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of religious neutrality, but that “historical” displays are permitted.

In the case McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, the court ruled that the display of the Commandments in Kentucky county courthouses constituted an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. However, in the case Van Orden v. Perry heard at the same time, the court permitted the display of the Commandments in a monument at the Texas state capitol.

In the Texas case, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, writing for the majority, wrote that:

Texas has treated her Capitol grounds monuments as representing the several strands in the State’s political and legal history. The inclusion of the Ten Commandments monument in this group has a dual significance, partaking of both religion and government.

However, in the Kentucky decision, the Court ruled that the history of the Ten Commandments’ display in the courthouse was evidence of religious (and not historical) intention and that the reasoning given in legislative resolutions was not reflective of the counties’ actual intentions in their displays. Justice Souter wrote for the majority, drawing specific attention to the character of the display:

The display’s unstinting focus was on religious passages, showing that the Counties were posting the Commandments precisely because of their sectarian content. That demonstration of the government’s objective was enhanced by serial religious references and the accompanying resolution’s claim about the embodiment of ethics in Christ.

Proponents of displaying the Commandments hold that they represent the bedrock of Western legal tradition. Opponents hold that the ancient Biblical rules, which begin I am the Lord thy God, represent religious dogma, not law.



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