Car bomb kills 11 in Pakistan

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Car bomb kills 11 in Pakistan

By | August 30, 2018

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Police reports say that a car bomb containing nearly 50kg of explosives, has detonated in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on Saturday, killing at least 11 people and injuring at least 30 others. The bomb exploded at a busy road in the Kashkal area. According to police, a school bus was passing at the time of the detonation which resulted in many of the deaths being children.

Around seventeen cars were damaged by the explosion, five of them catching fire.

“We received nine dead bodies. Two more people expired later. The condition of two people among the 31 injured is serious,” Doctor Hameed Afridi told the Agence France-Presse news agency from the main Peshawar hospital. According to a list of victims that was signed by Afridi, five men, four children aged eight to seventeen years old, and two women were among the casualties.

“We were sitting in our showroom when there was a huge blast,” said Mohammad Anis, the owner of a car showroom located near where the incident took place. “When I came out, I saw fire and smoke everywhere around me.”

No one or group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

U.S. develops parks above highways

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U.S. develops parks above highways

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In big cities, finding land for new parks is less of an expedition than an all-out land-rights battle with property owners. But some cities across the U.S. have found a slightly easier way to add to their greenspace. By utilizing the state’s air rights to the space above freeways that run below at ground level, cities can acquire 5 or 10 acres of parkspace essentially for free, such Freeway Park which occupies 5.5 acres above a freeway in downtown Seattle.

Of course, this free “land” is actually nothing more than open air above a freeway, requiring cities to pay the high construction costs of capping the roadway with land.

Such projects are currently being planned in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Dallas and San Diego. A recent article in Governing Magazine looks at more than two dozen highway deck parks that have been built or are under construction in the U.S. The article finds that even though the price of constructing parks on top of freeways can rise upwards of $500 per square foot, property values and local development boom once they are completed.

All passengers survive Toronto plane crash

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All passengers survive Toronto plane crash

By | August 28, 2018

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Today at 4:03 p.m. EDT (2003 UTC) Air France Flight 358, an Airbus A340 from Paris, crashed at the end of Runway 24L of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Following flights to Toronto were diverted to airports in Ottawa and Winnipeg.

Over 3 dozen people who suffered non-life threatening injuries were treated at hospitals. There were 297 passengers and 12 crew onboard.

Speaking at a press conference, Steve Shaw of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority said “As far as we know at this stage the passengers were able to flee the aircraft before the fire broke out.”

The plane, flying from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, apparently ran into trouble amidst severe thunderstorms that had caused take-offs to be suspended at the time of the crash.

The plane skidded 200 m past the end of the runway, through barriers and into the wooded Etobicoke Creek ravine near Highway 401, then burst into flames. The runway was recently constructed, and is the shortest at the airport (9000 feet).

The last major crash of an airliner in North America was American Airlines Flight 587. There has never been a fatality in the 14 years since the Airbus A340 first flew.

Closure of Guantánamo prison will take longer than expected

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Closure of Guantánamo prison will take longer than expected

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

The New York Times said on Wednesday that the Obama administration may not be able to close the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and transfer terrorism suspects held there until 2011 at the earliest.

The administration announced plans last week to acquire an under-utilized state prison in the Midwest state of Illinois to house up to 100 Guantánamo detainees. However, The Times says the United States Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay the state for the facility, which would cost about $150 million.

The report says the White House approached lawmakers on the United States House of Representatives Appropriations Committee several weeks ago about adding $200 million to the 2010 military spending bill for the project. Democratic leaders refused, defeating the request due to the project’s controversial nature.

The administration wants to buy the prison as part of efforts to fulfill President Obama’s order to close Guantánamo Bay. The president has acknowledged that the January 2010 deadline for closing the prison will not be met. The plan to close the prison and house the terror suspects in the U.S. has been met with fierce opposition by some members of Congress. Republicans say the closure of the prison and moving of inmates to American soil will make the country a greater target for terrorists.

The White House contends that the current prison at Guantánamo has become a terrorist recruiting symbol. It also pointed out that it would save taxpayers money as the Department of Defense currently pays $150 million to run the Guantánamo prison, while it will only cost $75 million to run the prison in Illinois.

However, some moderate Democrats have also raised concerns, Representative Loretta Sanchez, Democrat from California cited security concerns saying “[p]articularly making something on U.S. soil an attraction for Al Qaeda and terrorists to go after — inciting them to attack something on U.S. soil — that’s a problem, and we need to think it through.”

Senator Jim Webb, a Democrat from Virginia recently stated that suspects of terrorism “[d]o not belong in our country, they do not belong in our courts, and they do not belong in our prisons.”

Guantánamo, which now has some 200 inmates, has been harshly criticized by human rights advocates for the alleged abuse and mistreatment of detainees.

The Times says the Obama administration will not have another opportunity to secure funding for the Thomson Correctional Center until Congress takes up a supplemental appropriations bill for the war in Afghanistan. The bill is expected to be finished in March or April.

However, the newspaper says the administration is more focused on securing funding for the Illinois facility in appropriations bills for the 2011 fiscal year, which will not be debated until late 2010. Officials told the Times it could take eight to 10 months to install new fencing, towers, cameras and other security upgrades to the Thomson Correctional Center before any transfers take place.

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Canada’s Don Valley West (Ward 26) city council candidates speak

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Canada’s Don Valley West (Ward 26) city council candidates speak

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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

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 Don Valley West (Ward 26). Four candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Muhammad Alam, Bahar Aminvaziri, Orhan Aybars, Michele Carroll-Smith, Mohamed Dhanani, Abdul Ingar, Geoff Kettel, Debbie Lechter, Natalie Maniates, John Masterson, John Parker, David Thomas, Csaba Vegh, and Fred Williams.

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

Contents

  • 1 Geoff Kettel
  • 2 Natalie Maniates
  • 3 John Parker
  • 4 Csaba Vegh

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Elizabeth May elected leader of Canada’s Green Party

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Elizabeth May elected leader of Canada’s Green Party

By | August 26, 2018

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Elizabeth May has been elected leader of the Green Party of Canada today, winning the position with 2,145 votes or 65.34 per cent of ballot cast. She beat her nearest rival, environmental consultant and Green deputy leader David Chernushenko by a margin of almost 2 to 1. Jim Fannon, the third candidate, finished far back with only 29 votes. The new leader will replace Jim Harris, who stepped down after holding the position since 2003.

In her acceptance speech, May called on the federal government to give notice that Canada will withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement in order to force the United States to renegotiate the treaty.

May, a long-time environmental activist and former executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada takes over the party which received 4.5 per cent of the popular vote in the last federal election, enough to secure over $1 million a year in federal funding but not enough to elect any of its candidates to the Canadian House of Commons. Chernushenko won the highest vote percentage of any Green candidate in the January election winning 10% of the vote in Ottawa Centre.

“We draw pretty much equally from across the entire political spectrum,” Jim Harris told CBC News. “If you were a Progressive Conservative, as I was, where do you go? The Green party supports Kyoto. We were opposed to the war in Iraq and yet at the same time we’re fiscally responsible. This is something that’s attractive to people.”

“What we need to do is clearly build a method and a platform so that they are not voting for ‘none of the above’ but so that they are voting for ‘all my dreams,’ ” said May after her victory.

The race has brought new people to the party with membership rising from 5,517 to 8,694 in recent months.

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

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

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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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Bankruptcy Exemptions What Things Can You Claim As An Exemption When Filing?

By | August 25, 2018

Read An Opinion On:

By William Perry

What are bankruptcy exemptions, and how are they determined? First off, these are only for individuals filing for bankruptcy and not businesses, and they are something that allows you to keep up your standard of living by protecting some of your personal possessions from being taken by the court to pay off your debt.

As I’m sure you are aware, in bankruptcy what often happens is that the court will take away your possessions to liquidate them and pay off your debts. Knowing what the court can take away and what they can’t is very important to determining whether or not you should file for bankruptcy.

If they can take away basically everything you own, then obviously filing is a bad decision. However, if a lot of your things fall under bankruptcy exemptions, then it might be a smart thing to file, and get rid of your debts so that you can start over.

The way it works is, you can sometimes choose between the state and national bankruptcy exemptions, in the case of states who allow national exemptions. Each have their own rules on what can be considered an exemption and what cannot be.

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However, often times, you must go with the state exemptions, as certain states (the majority, actually) don’t allow national exemptions to apply to them.

It’s a long story, but for now that’s the way it is, and I will leave it at that. If you live in a state that allows national bankruptcy exemptions, you have to decide on which rules you want to go with, and can’t just take portions of each that apply to you. You have to choose one or the other.

This is basically how it works. First, when you claim something as a bankruptcy exemption, you have to show the value of it right now, and not when you first obtained it, since this is obviously the amount the court will get for it by selling it.

There are only certain things that can be claimed, of course, otherwise why not just keep everything? Since each state is different, for the purpose of this article I will cover the more prominent of the federal exemptions.

First, the equity of the main residence you live in is exempt for up to $17,400, and you can use this money to live somewhere else once you lose your current place. Pension and retirement plans can also be claimed should you claim them, life insurance that is at least $9300, and also unemployment benefits can’t be taken as well if you claim them.

There are quite a few other smaller things, and of course, your lawyer will be able to give you an extensive list, so that you can determine what you will have to lose and what you can keep. Remember, this only applies to chapter 7 bankruptcy, as with chapter 13, the individual follow a court ordered payment plan, and you aren’t discharged of your obligations, as you are with chapter seven.

Your lawyer will be able to help you with bankruptcy exemptions, so while this is an introduction to the topic, it is no substitute for a competent attorney who can explain to you the ins and outs of this somewhat complicated topic.

About the Author: Trying to decide whether or not to file for bankruptcy? Determining the bankruptcy exemptions you can claim is a good start. Also, for little known secrets on getting the best court deal and most importantly, achieving financial success, check out onlinebankruptcytips.com

Source: isnare.com

Permanent Link: isnare.com/?aid=346922&ca=Finances

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Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’

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Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a vault containing millions of seeds from all over the world, saw its first deposits on Tuesday. Located 800 kilometers from the North Pole on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the vault has been referred to by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso as a “frozen Garden of Eden“. It is intended to preserve crop supplies and secure biological diversity in the event of a worldwide disaster.

“The opening of the seed vault marks a historic turning point in safeguarding the world’s crop diversity,” said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust which is in charge of collecting the seed samples. The Norwegian government, who owns the bank, built it at a cost of $9.1 million.

At the opening ceremony, 100 million seeds from 268,000 samples were placed inside the vault, where there is room for over 2 billion seeds. Each of the samples originated from a different farm or field, in order to best ensure biological diversity. These crop seeds included such staples as rice, potatoes, barley, lettuce, maize, sorghum, and wheat. No genetically modified crops were included. (Beyond politics they are generally sterile so of no use.)

It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks.

Constructed deep inside a mountain and protected by concrete walls, the “doomsday vault” is designed to withstand earthquakes, nuclear warfare, and floods resulting from global warming. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called it an “insurance policy” against such threats.

With air-conditioned temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius, experts say the seeds could last for an entire millennium. Some crops will be able to last longer, like sorghum, which the Global Crop Diversity Trust says can last almost 20 millenniums. Even if the refrigeration system fails, the vaults are expected to stay frozen for 200 years.

The Prime Minister said, “With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilization.” Stoltenberg, along with Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, made the first deposit of rice to the vault.

“It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks,” Maathai said. The vault will operate as a bank, allowing countries to use their deposited seeds free of charge. It will also serve as a backup to the thousands of other seed banks around the world.

“Crop diversity will soon prove to be our most potent and indispensable resource for addressing climate change, water and energy supply constraints and for meeting the food needs of a growing population,” Cary Fowler said.

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2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne

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2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne

By | August 24, 2018

Friday, March 3, 2006

The possibility of large-scale protests in the face of the 3,000 journalists covering the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, has event organisers and the Government worried.

The group “Black GST” – which represents Indigenous Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty – are planning demonstrations at prominent Games events unless the Government agrees to a range of demands including an end to Aboriginal genocide, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the signing of a treaty.

The Black GST say they hope the focus of the world’s media will draw attention to the plight of indigenous Australians during the Games. Organisers say supporters are converging from across Australia and from overseas. Organisers say up to 20,000 people may take part in talks, rallies, colourful protests and many cultural festivities designed to pressure the Federal Government on Indigeneous rights issues. They want the Government to provide a temporary campsite for the supporters, saying “organised chaos was better than disorganised chaos.”

The 2006 Stolenwealth Games convergence, described by organisers as the “cultural festival of the 2006 Commonwealth Games,” was virtually opened on March 2nd with the launch of the official “Stolenwealth Games” website. Scoop Independent News and Perth Indymedia reported that the launch was held at Federation Square in Melbourne. The site contents were projected via wireless laptop by the Stolenwealth Games General Manager, and a tour of the website was given on the big screen. He said “overwhelming amusement was the response from the audience.” The group say permanent access points to the website are being set up at public internet facilities across Victoria during the coming weeks.

“Interest in the Stolenwealth Games is building all over the world and this fresh, exciting and contemporary site will draw in people from Stolenwealth Nations around the globe to find out about the latest news and events,” said a Stolenwealth Games spokesperson. “We have been getting many requests from around the world wanting to know about the Stolenwealth Games. We have provided many ways that individuals and organisations can support the campaign by spreading the word.”

The Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group (VTOLJG) which represents the first nation groups of Victoria, has announced its support to boycott the 2006 Commonwealth Games until the Government “recognises Traditional Owner rights.” The group asserts that culture has been misappropriated in preparation for the Games.

Organisers of the campaign say they welcome the formal support from the Traditional Owners. “While some seek to divide and discredit Indigenous Australia, this support is further evidence that the Aboriginal people are united in opposition to the ongoing criminal genocide that is being perpetrated against the Aboriginal people” said Black GST supporter and Aboriginal Elder, Robbie Thorpe.

“We now have endorsement from the VTOLJG and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for the aims and objectives of the Campaign and we are looking forward to hosting all indigenous and non-indigenous supporters from across Australia in March,” he said. The Black GST group have said “the convergence will be held as a peaceful, family-focussed demonstration against genocide, and for the restoration of sovereignty and the negotiations towards a Treaty.”

But the campaign has received flak in mainstream media, such as Melbourne’s Herald Sun, who wrote: “the proposal to allow BlackGST to set up an Aboriginal tent embassy at a site well away from the Commonwealth Games will be interpreted by some as the State Government caving in to a radical protest group. A major concern for the Government… is to protect the event from disruption… no chances should be taken…”

The Black GST has been planning the convergence for months, calling for Aboriginal people and their supporters to converge on Melbourne. The Melbourne-based Indigenous rights group have called on thousands of people concerned about the plight of indigenous Australians to converge on Melbourne during the Games, which they have dubbed “the Stolenwealth Games”. But the choice of Kings Domain has made conflict almost inevitable, as the area is one of the areas gazetted by the State Government as a “Games management zone”.

Under the Commonwealth Games Arrangements Act, any area gazetted as a management zone is subject to a range of specific laws – including bans on protesting, creating a disturbance and other activities. The protest bans will be in effect at different times and places, and offenders can be arrested. A spokeswoman for the Black GST, which advocates peaceful protest, said the site had been chosen because it was close to where the Queen will stay on March 15. “We figured that she is only in Melbourne for 27 hours or something like that so we thought we would make it easy for her to come next door and see us,” she said. “We are a very open, welcoming group, so she will be welcome to come and join us.”

Kings Domain is the burial site for 38 indigenous forefathers of Victoria. Black GST elder, Targan, said trade union groups have offered to install infrastructure at the site. The group initially worked with the State Government to find a suitable camp site, but the relationship broke down when the Government failed to meet a deadline imposed by the protesters. “While we are disappointed the ministers were not able to meet deadline on our request, we thank them for their constructive approach towards negotiations and the open-door policy exercised,” said Targan.

A spokesman for Games Minister Justin Madden said the Government was still investigating other sites. Victoria Police Games security commander Brendan Bannan said he was not convinced the Black GST represented the views of most indigenous people. “We are dealing with the Aboriginal community and they don’t seem to support it at all … the wider Aboriginal community don’t support disruption to the Games at all,” he said.

The Government was told that Black GST supporters would camp in Fitzroy Gardens and other city parks should it fail to nominate a site. A spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavan Jennings said the Government was taking the issue seriously, but had not been able to finalise a campsite before the deadline.

Under special Games laws, people protesting or causing a disturbance in “Games management zones” can be arrested and fined. While prominent public spaces such as Federation Square, Birrarung Marr, Albert Park and the Alexandra Gardens fall under the legislation, such tough anti-protest laws cannot be enforced in the nearby Fitzroy Gardens.

Games chairman Ron Walker has urged the group to choose another date for its protest march through the city, which is currently planned to coincide with the opening ceremony on March 15. The group believes that an opportunity to gain attention for indigenous issues was lost at the Sydney Olympics and has vowed to make a highly visible presence at the Games.

The Black GST said the Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy’s sacred flame, burning over many years at the Canberra site will be carried to Melbourne before the Games, and its arrival would mark the opening of the protest camp from where a march will proceed to the MCG before the Opening Ceremony.

Black GST claims supporters from all over Australia, including three busloads from the West Australian Land Council, will gather in Melbourne during the Games for peaceful protests.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings had offered Victoria Park to the protesters. Victoria Park, former home of Collingwood Football Club, where one of the strongest statements of Aboriginal pride, when St Kilda star Nicky Winmar in 1993 raised his jumper and pointed to his bare chest after racial taunts from the Collingwood crowd.

Black GST, which has labelled the Games the Stolenwealth Games, said the State Government had failed to find a suitable venue. Black GST may encourage protesters to camp in prominent parks such as Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens. Graffiti supporting the action has also appeared in central Melbourne.

Melbourne City councillor Fraser Brindley has offered his home to the Black GST organisers. “I offered my home up to people who are organising visitors to come to the Games,” he said. Cr Brindley will be overseas when the Commonwealth Games are held and has offered the free accommodation at his flat at Parkville. He said he agreed with the protesters’ view that treaties needed to be signed with indigenous Australians. “I’m offering it up to the indigenous people who are coming to remind Her Majesty that her Empire took this land from them,” said Cr Brindlley. Nationals leader Peter Ryan said: “This extremist group has no part in the Australian community.” Melbourne councillor Peter Clarke said the actions were embarrassing and that he would try to discourage him. “It’s not in the spirit of the Games,” he said.

Aboriginal elder, Targan, said the possibility of securing Victoria Park was delightfully ironic. “There’s a lot of irony going on,” Targan, 53, a PhD student at Melbourne University, said. “GST stands for Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty. We want the genocide of our people to stop; we want some sovereignty over traditional land, certainly how it is used, and we want a treaty with the government,” Targan said.

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