Somali pirates threaten to kill British hostages in days

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A middle-aged British couple who have been held hostage by Somali pirates for more than three months said on Friday, in a telephone interview with ITN, that their captors have threatened to kill one or both of them if a government ransom is not received “within four or five days.”

Paul and Rachel Chandler disappeared on October 23, 2009, while in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia while en route from the Seychelles to Tanzania. Their 38-foot yacht, the Lynn Rival, was later found abandoned. Days later, pirates confirmed they were in fact holding the couple hostage within Somalia’s borders.

A spokeswoman for the British Foreign Office told media in a statement on Friday that the government’s policy was to not “make or facilitate concessions to hostage-takers.” She added, the Office is, however, still closely “monitoring the situation” and “doing everything it can” to secure the couple’s safe release.

The Chandlers’ captors have demanded a ransom payment of US$7 million (£4.3 million), but the British government has refused to pay it, in line with their policy.

On Friday, the pirates granted the Chandlers separate telephone interviews with UK-based media outlet ITN. According to the interviews, the couple pleaded for help and alleged that they have been “physically attacked,” separated and “treated as a captive animal” in solitary confinement at the hands of their captors.

Rachel Chandler told ITN that “dying would actually be an easy way out” and how she wanted to see her husband “at least once before we die.”

The validity of these threats are not known. According to The Hindu, pirates often make empty threats of execution, but rarely harm the captives.

Piracy is especially rife in the waters near Somalia, a nation, due to an ongoing civil war, that has not had a functioning government in place since 1991. Islamic extremist groups, such as al-Shabaab, as well as various warlords and pirate gangs control most of the nation. The only exception is the besieged capital of Mogadishu, which is protected primarily by UN peace-keepers and other foreign troops.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, there were 406 reported pirate attacks worldwide in 2009, compared to approximately 290 the year before. During both years, more than 50% of these incidents occurred off the coast of the Horn of Africa.

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Crosswords/2005/September/5

Monday, September 5, 2005

Feel free to use the Wikimedia sites to solve our Wikinews crossword. Please do not fill it out online as it would spoil it for other people; print it out and fill it in at your own leisure!

< Previous crossword.
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Retirement Community Basics

Retirement Community Basics

by

Cara Larose

The time will always come when we all age up to retirement and have to find a kind of living that is suitable for us. Although we have our family to support us, the care that the can afford to give us is simply not enough since we have many demands in order for us to age happily and healthily. The cares we need are best met in a retirement home.

Some retired adults find it hard to leave home. Little do they know that this is often health-hazardous and it may even affect a family s relationship. When a fully-adult person stays at home, there is a big chance that the family won t be able to supply the nutritional and physical requirements that he or she needs. Other than that, he or she may not be given proper supervision that may cause misunderstanding and conflicts among family members.

A retirement home offers a community of retired people who are tended by dedicated staff that ensures that we mature further in a way that makes us remain healthy and happy. It offers us a chance to be with other people who are just like us and those who understands well what it must be to be like us. So it s best to live in one when the time comes.

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A retirement home is a community where adults aged 50 and above live so that they can maintain their active and healthy lifestyles. As you are admitted to one, you can be sure that you are being supervised so that you will be able to live comfortably and happily. There are several

retirement communities PA

all over the country, the trick is to find the best one.

Like

retirement communities PA

has, several homes out there offer their residents services such as house maintenance, leisure activities, medical care, and careful round-the-clock supervision. These communities make adult life convenient and fulfilling. Other than that, allowed visits from your loved ones will make it fun.

A retirement home charges a fee that depends on their location, amenities and services. As long as you know what you want and need, then living in

retirement communities PA

has will be worth it.

For more details, visit us at www.sherwood-oaks.com.

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Corruption blamed for Papuan rainforest destruction

Thursday, March 2, 2006

A new report on the commercial logging industry in Papua New Guinea (PNG) released by international forestry organization, Forest Trends, shows that the overwhelming majority of current commercial industrial forestry operations in PNG are ecologically and economically unsustainable.

Foreign logging companies are in open defiance of the law and cutting down Papua New Guinea’s rainforests, thanks to corruption and government inaction, the report alleges. Washington-based environmental group, Forest Trends, linked Malaysian loggers to Papua New Guinea’s political elite. It described working conditions as “modern-day slavery” and said forests were effectively being logged out.

While the PNG Government does have laws and regulations to ensure sustainable timber production, these were not being enforced, the report states. It identified “a political vacuum with no demonstrated government interest in controlling the problems in the sector.”

The report summarised independent reviews of the timber industry between 2000 and 2005. Forest Trends claimed corruption had devastated rural living standards and ignored the basic rights of landowners: “There are a few logging operations in the country which are deemed beneficial to both local landowners and the country, but they are lost in a sea of bad operators. The Government needs to support these companies, or risk having the international community boycott all of PNG’s exports.”

Natural forests are being chopped down unsustainably, mostly by Malaysian companies, the organisation says.

It reports that much of the labour is imported, and says that Papua New Guineans are not getting an acceptable return for the logging while one of the country’s precious natural resources is dwindling. Most of the timber is exported to China, and is often turned into products for export to Western countries.

If foresting continues in this manner, they warn, Papua New Guinea could be bereft of its natural cover in a decade.

“The system must be fixed,” said Michael Jenkins, President & CEO of Forest Trends. “The nexus between the logging companies and the political elite needs to be broken. One way to do this is to help local landowners better understand their rights and to establish a legal fund so that they can be defended. Papua New Guinea’s legal system does exist outside of political control and the courts have a track record of ruling against illegal logging.”

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Appalachia Mountains coal company plays State politics

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.

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Austria Travel 2009: A Driving Tour Of Upper Styria Including Mariazell

By Susanne Pacher

My first three days in Austria had already been action-packed, full of hiking excursions and culinary delights. My next adventure was going to be a full-day driving tour with my friend Gary, who had also grown up in Austria, but, like me, had emigrated to Canada more than 40 years ago.

Garys native region is Upper Styria, a mountainous and heavily wooded part of my Austrian home province. He came to pick me up in his rental car in my home town of Weiz and we drove past the rolling hills of Eastern Styria through the picturesque villages of Anger and Birkfeld. Driving further up into the mountainous country to stop at the mountain pass of Alpl from where we had a gorgeous view of the high mountain regions of Upper Styria.

On our way down from the mountain pass we drove down into the valley which hosts one of the regions most popular tourist destinations: Peter Roseggers Waldheimatschule, a rural school building that was attended by one of Austrias most famous poets of the 19th and early 20th century, Peter Rosegger. He was almost awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913 and to this day remains a popular local hero.

Continuing on our way into the Mrz River Valley we turned right onto the highway that connects Upper Styria with Vienna and drove towards the Semmering, a mountain pass at the border of Styria and Lower Austria. This mountain is most famous for the Semmering Railway that was completed in 1854 and connects Gloggnitz in Lower Austria with the town of Mrzzuschlag in Styria.

The Semmering Railway is in effect the first true mountain railway in the world, and it took six years to construct it. 14 tunnels and 16 viaducts, some of them two stories high, and more than 100 curved stone bridges overcome the challenging mountain terrain, and to this day, railway enthusiasts choose to travel on this still active route. The trains have to deal with an altitude difference of 460 m and a steepness of up to 2.5%. The extreme turning radii and gradients require special locomotives that could handle the challenge. The uniqueness of this mountain railroad was recognized with a UNESCO World Heritage site designation in 1998.

The construction of the railway made the entire Semmering region a popular tourist destination. Numerous large hotels and villas were built in the second half of the 19th century, and even members of the Austro-Hungarian nobility enjoyed the healthy climate of this high-altitude spa town. Well-known Austrian artists and writers of the era also spent their vacations here.

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The most stunning example illustrating the heydays of the Semmering Region is the Hotel Panhans, a historic grand hotel dating back to 1888. After an expansion in 1913, the Panhans was considered one of the largest hotels in Europe with more than 400 rooms and offered luxurious amenities to its high-calibre guests. Prior to the collapse of the Austrian monarchy in 1918, celebrity guests included writers, painters and architects such as Peter Altenberg, Gerhard Hauptmann, Oskar Kokoschka, Arthur Schnitzler and Stefan Zweig. After the first World War famous guests included the likes of Josephine Baker, Jan Kiepura, and Maria Jeritza.

Today, the region is also a popular winter sport destination. World Cup ski races are held regularly on the adjacent Hirschenkogel mountain. Bikepark Semmering is a mountain biking park and the ski lifts are available to off-road bikers from June to October. The Semmering region is enjoying strong tourism growth for both summer and winter tourism.

Having explored this historic spa town we turned around and drove back towards Mrzzuschlag. From this local district town we headed north into the Mrz River Valley, a deeply cut mountain valley, where we stopped in the village of Neuberg an der Mrz. This little town features a large Cistercian abbey from 1327. The Erzherzog-Johann-Kreuz (Archduke Johann Cross) has been adorning a rock wall above the village since the 1880s.

We continued on our drive through this remote mountain valley to the town of Mariazell, Austrias most important pilgrimage destination. Many miracles have been attributed to the Virgin of Mariazell, a carved wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary that was brought to this village in 1157. The church was later lavishly expanded in the Baroque style in 1644. Pilgrimages took place as early as in the 12th century, and today the Mariazell Basilica is visited by almost a million pilgrims every year. Pope John Paul II visited Mariazell in 1983 and a pilgrimage with 25,000 participants from the former Eastern Block countries took place in 1990 to celebrate the fall of Communism.

The pretty town has a picturesque main square that is surrounded by many historic buildings that today house a variety of restaurants and hotels. Many booths are selling religious trinkets and souvenirs. The surrounding area with the Brgeralpe mountain is a popular ski area which features one of the first cable cars ever built, dating back to 1928.

Heading further south we made our way towards the massive Hochschwab mountain, which dominates the area with its altitude of 2,277 metres. Dark clouds were now moving in on the horizon and soon the rocky limestone mountain was surrounded by an ominous dark sky. Shortly after the sluicegates of heaven opened up and we got caught in a downpour. We decided it was time for lunch and sat down on the outdoor patio of a restaurant which provided us with a great view of this Alpine peak.

Now hungry from our long excursion we had some typically Austrian meals: a Fritattensuppe (pan-cake strip soup), and a Wiener Schnitzel, the crispy breaded filet of pork that has become one of the hallmarks of Austrian cuisine. The restaurants garden featured mouflons (wild mountain sheep) and colourful ducks; this little zoo kept the tourists entertained.

After our hearty meal we continued our drive south into the mountain town of Aflenz, a popular spa town with about 1000 years of recorded history. We stopped briefly for some Austrian pastry at a local Konditorei (pastry shop) and walked into the Gothic-era church. Our drive continued further south to the town of Kapfenberg, a steel manufacturing town with a pretty city centre with a pedestrian zone.

Just above the city on a hill is the Fortress of Oberkapfenberg, a medieval castle that was first mentioned in historical records in the 12th century. The imposing thick-walled fortress underwent reconstructions in the 16th century to incorporate Renaissance architectural elements but started to fall into disrepair several hundred years ago. Finally in the 1950s the old fortress started to be rebuilt and was turned into a hotel. The fortress restaurant was opened in 1994 and today also features a predatory bird demonstration with eagles, vultures and falcons.

A local historical club uses the fortress to preserve history and knightly traditions in various performances. Annually a Witchs Night complete with a witches market, a witches fire and witches dance, clairvoyants and a fiery spectacle evokes medieval times. Various concerts, an arts and crafts market before Christmas and a Knights Festival keep the Middle Ages alive. A knights meal gives visitors a chance to experience medieval cuisine. Guests can even rent historic clothing and sit down in full medieval attire to enjoy the feast.

We were unlucky though, because on Mondays the fortresss restaurant is closed and we could not inspect this unique environment ourselves. The door to the terrace on the west hand side was open though, and we could enjoy a great view over the Mrz River Valley.

It was now getting dark and we had to make our way back to my home town. We chose to drive through the Mur Valley, one of the most important valleys in the Austrian town of Styria. Pretty towns like Pernegg or Frohnleiten are adjoining the river valley and make for popular destinations for local tourists. Other important local sites include the Drachenhhle bei Mixnitz (the Dragons Cave), a place where Paleolithic-age relics have been found. The nearby Brenschtzklamm, a steep rocky gorge featuring steep wooden ladders attached to sheer rocks, is very popular with hikers.

North of the provincial capital of Graz we turned left and drove back to my hometown and arrived just shortly before another thunderstorm started pelting the area with lemon-size hailstones. Exhausted from my full day of explorations I crashed into bed to rest up for another day of regional discoveries.

About the Author: Susanne Pacher is a Travel Journalist specializing in

Unconventional Travel

you can get tons of great unconventional and unique travel information and tips if you

Click Here

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Fire ruins historical building of Prague Exhibition Grounds

Friday, October 17, 2008

The left wing of the Industrial Palace (Pr?myslový palác) – central building of the Prague Exhibition Grounds (Výstavišt?) in the capital city of Czech Republic was destroyed by fire yesterday night. The fire began at the roof and flames were visible from kilometers away. Two hundred firefighters fought the fire and got it under control in less than three hours. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries.

The left wing of the Art Nouveau building was destroyed, the roof and most of enclosure walls collapsed. The amount of damage can rise up to 1 billion Czech crowns (approx. 40 million euro). Although a student music festival was organized in close surroundings, none were injured.

Mayor of Prague Pavel Bém promised the city will rebuild the Palace, but refused to comment immediately on the view of the new or renewed building.

The Industrial Palace was inaugurated in 1891. It was the biggest building on the exhibition grounds. Architect Bed?ich Münzberger used the glassed-in steel structures for the first time in the Czech lands. The building was 238 meters long and its main tower was 51 meters tall. It was used mainly for trade fairs and exhibitions, but also for concerts and other culture events.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, and could take a week to discover the cause. Press reports suggest the fire is connected to the October 9 murder of businessman Václav Ko?ka junior, whose father is engaged in the Incheba company and has been leasing the exhibition grounds since 2001. Václav Ko?ka senior is a friend of former Czech prime minister Ji?í Paroubek. However, authorities mentioned an accident – explosion of pressure gas cylinder – was the probable cause. Incheba said they have video of the explosion recorded from the security cameras.

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Four dead, more than a million in U.S. without power after Pacific Northwest storm

Friday, December 15, 2006

High winds and heavy rains have left 4 people dead, and much of the Seattle, Washington area is without electrical power. A number of large trees have been downed and heavy rains have caused minor flooding in many areas of the city. According to first-hand reports as many as 1 million people and several large organizations such as Microsoft are without power this morning.

Flood, storm, and strong wind watches were in effect last night as a rare thunderstorm system moved into the Pacific Northwest region, hitting areas from Seattle to Portland with high winds and heavy rains. Interstate 5 through Seattle was closed at its intersection with Mercer Street due to standing water. The State Route 520 floating bridge, a major conduit across Lake Washington to the technology-rich Eastside was closed and its drawspan opened to protect it from storm damage well into Friday. Local roads throughout the region were strewn with debris, especially evergreen branches and leaves. Authorities advised people to stay off the roads.

Four deaths were reported in connection with the storm as of Friday. A Seattle woman died in the basement of her home after floodwaters caused the basement door to close and jam shut. Two others died in outlying areas after tall Northwest evergreens fell on their vehicles, and a man in Grays Harbor, near the Pacific coast, died in his sleep after a tree fell on his mobile home. KOMO news reported a caller saying a 100-foot evergreen had fallen into his house.

Downed trees and high winds also brought down powerlines throughout Western Washington. Seattle City Light, the municipal electric utility for the city, reported a peak of 175,000 customers without power, most in the north and south ends of the city, as well as the east edge of town and the Green Lake area.

Puget Sound Energy, the electric utility for much of the Seattle metro area, reported 700,000 customers (over 66%) without power, with the area around Seattle the worst hit. PSE, which had already enlisted additional powerline workers from neighboring states, did not send crews out until mid Friday morning due to continued high winds. Estimates for power restoration were anywhere from a few days to over a week. Island County, at the mouth of Puget Sound, was completely without power.

Schools in Seattle and throughout its suburbs were closed Friday, many due to power outages. The city of Mercer Island, connected to the mainland only by Interstate 90, is reportedly inaccessible.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer failed to print due to power failures at the printing facility, which had redundant power feeds from both the Seattle utility as well as PSE. It is the first time in 70 years that the paper has not been printed. The Seattle Times, a competing paper under a joint operating agreement, managed to print only 13,000 copies of its regular circulation of over 200,000. The papers located alternate facilities to print a reduced version of their Saturday editions, and their joint Sunday issue was also expected to be reduced.

At Sea-Tac Airport, three terminals were shut down overnight due to the storm. Concourse A and the South Satellite terminal lost power, and a blown-out window caused Concourse C to also close. All terminals were back in working order by midday Friday. Many flights were delayed or cancelled. Likewise, in Oregon, Portland International Airport reported at least 40 flights cancelled. At Seattle’s Boeing Field, winds flipped a private plane over, colliding with another plane.

The Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers football game was delayed 15 minutes. A pre-game power surge temporarily took the Qwest Field’s video displays offline. The gridiron was plagued by standing water, as the stadium’s loudspeakers played “Who’ll Stop The Rain?” shortly before kickoff.

Thursday night’s storm comes after a previous regional storm in the Seattle area earlier in the week, in which trees in a few Seattle suburbs fell onto roads, powerlines, and two school buses. In those incidents no one was hurt, and there were a few spotty power outages.

This is the second serious storm to hit the Northwest since Thanksgiving, In late November, record-setting snowfall had a similar disabling effect on the region.

 This story has updates See Emergency declared in US state of Washington, eight additional casualties, many still without power 
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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with NDP candidate Glenn Crowe, Bramalea-Gore-Malton

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Glenn Crowe is running for the NDP in the Ontario provincial election, in the Bramalea-Gore-Malton riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Crowe did not reply to various questions asked.

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

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Importing From China? 3 Things To Watch

Submitted by: Rose Lee

China has been in the news lot lately with economists remarking on its rampant growth, calling it “the factory of the world”. However, it hasn’t all been positive press and some coverage of product safety and quality concerns, and the questionable integrity of some Chinese manufacture and trading firms, have left an image in some buyers’ minds of a place where nothing is safe and nobody can be trusted.

So are all the criticisms true? We decided to look at the three most common myths of buying products from China and see how valid they were.

1. “Chinese products are unsafe.”

This is a long-held belief that has been brought to the forefront of people’s minds again by several high-profile cases in the US.

Mattel enacted a massive toy recall in August 2007 because the toys had been decorated with lead paint, an illegal practice in many western countries. An estimated 10.5 million toys were recalled, which led people to question the safety of many other Chinese products.

Who is to blame in such cases?

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Some Chinese export companies say that people are looking in wrong place for answers and, instead of looking at manufacturer, we should look at the companies ordering the products.

Rose Li, Chinavasion public relations manager, said Chinese factories were only able to work to the specifications given to them by the customer.

“Chinese factories will view improved materials and certification as optional extras, which increase the price,” she said.

Ms Li said importers looking at sourcing products from China should first find out the end markets’ exact safety compliance standards before telling the manufacturer about the exact specifications they needed for the product.

She said it is also a good idea to buy a single item first to check that the product was safe and worked well to guarantee customer satisfaction.

2. “Chinese manufacturers will try to cheat you after you pay.”

If you search online for phrases like “china scammer” or “china fraud” you’ll immediately see hundreds of stories about people who have been cheated by fake sellers or dishonest dealers in China. But people with positive stories are less likely to speak out…. so perhaps when you look for negative stories, you’re getting a skewed picture.

Steve Wu, Chinavasion purchase specialist, recommended those using credit cards to do it through a third party payment handler like PayPal.

“That will prevent the seller from getting sensitive credit information from the buyer and allow the buyer to stop the payment if there are any problems with the deal,” he said.

Another key piece of advice offered by regular goods traders is to transfer money into company bank accounts and not personal bank accounts, and always keep a documented record of transactions to help dispute cases if things go wrong.

3. “There is no way to tell if a Chinese company is legitimate.”

This is a particularly big fear for exporters who buy online or over the phone and are afraid the company they are ordering their products in might not actually exist, or may be in financial trouble, leaving them no recourse if they pay for an order and that order does not arrive.

Analysing some case studies of people who’ve been scammed, certain patterns emerge. Seasoned importers will spot obvious danger signs at the beginning of each story that should have warned the buyer away at an early stage… before money changed hands.

Many Chinese manufactures are also registered in Hong Kong and can be checked online at icris.cr.gov.hk/csci/

About the Author: To get a complete, free, e-course on profiting from

China wholesale

, visit http://www.chinavasion.com now.

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