Friday, April 18, 2008

Police have been given seven days to question the suspected terrorist who was arrested in Bristol, United Kingdom today.

After the seven days, the suspect will have to be released or charged, unless an extension is granted.

The BBC has reported that the person who was arrested is approximately nineteen years old. He has been named as Andrew Ibrahim.

A representative of the Bristol Cultural Muslim Society commented on the developments, “We hope the individual concerned is innocent and that this turns out to be a false alarm.”

It has also recently been confirmed by the police that a suspicious object was found at the scene.

He was arrested in Bristol, United Kingdom on suspicion of terrorism earlier today. There was also a controlled explosion. Parts of the city were evacuated.

Avon and Somerset police have also recently said that “It is anticipated that due to the nature of the offences believed to have been committed, work at the scene may take a number of days.”

Rod Hansen, from the police force commented on the arrest. “This has been a large scale operation and we have called upon the expertise and professionalism of staff from CID, Operational Planning, Air Support, the Hi-Tech Crime Unit and our Community Engagement Team to name but a few. It is right that I acknowledge their fine efforts also,” he said

A Wikinews reporter visited the nearest main road, Henleaze Road in the hours after the arrest, to report on the incident. It was noted that there was a significantly higher number of police vehicles in the area, compared to the usual figure.

The Wikinews reporter also noted that there were several reporters gathered around the local police station. A large police van was also noticed outside the police station.



Monday, October 1, 2007

Brian Jackson is running for the Ontario Liberal Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Oxford riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

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.



Saturday, October 6, 2007

Brett McKenzie is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the London North Centre riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

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.



Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Stockholm —A well-known Swedish doctor and researcher at Gothenburg University has been prosecuted, together with the Vice-Chancellor and the President of the University Council, for failing to hand over sensitive data on patients to outside critics.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman, an official appointed by the Parliament, decided to press charges against Professor Christopher Gillberg, MD, Professor Gunnar Svedberg, (Vice-Chancellor) and Arne Wittlöv (President), for failing to comply with a court order from February 2003.

The court had ordered Gillberg and his colleagues to hand over sensitive data on patients and their relatives to two critics of their research: Eva Kärfve, a sociologist, and Leif Elinder, a pediatrician. The basis for the court’s decision was the section of the Swedish constitution relating to freedom of the press. Since the university was a public body, it was obliged to turn over any documents to any citizen upon request unless the document was protected by a specific paragraph in the Secrecy Law.

The university argued that the material should be protected by a paragraph referring to the confidentiality of information about patients. The courts decided, however, that they could hand over the data (about 70 shelf feet of documents) if they specified a proviso that would preserve confidentiality. The university was thus ordered to first write a proviso (set of conditions) for Kärfve and Elinder and then hand over the data.

Gillberg and the other members of the research group refused to comply. They referred to the promise they had given to the participants in their studies that all the data would be kept completely confidential. They also argued that the data was particularly sensitive since the research concerned psychological and psychiatric disorders among children, and that it was impossible to anonymize the data beyond possible identification. When they had pursued all legal avenues without success, someone apparently destroyed the documents in May 2004.

The Gillberg group received considerable support from other medical researchers and from their university. They felt that important clinical research could be jeopardized unless complete confidentiality could be promised to the patients.

Eva Kärfve stated that she was happy with the prosecution and that it would “strengthen the protection of research in Sweden.”



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wikinews reporter Iain Macdonald has performed an interview with Dr Isabella Margara, a London-based member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). In the interview Margara sets out the communist response to current events in Greece as well as discussing the viability of a communist economy for the nation. She also hit back at Petros Tzomakas, a member of another Greek far-left party which criticised KKE in a previous interview.

The interview comes amid tensions in cash-strapped Greece, where the government is introducing controversial austerity measures to try to ease the nation’s debt-problem. An international rescue package has been prepared by European Union member states and the International Monetary Fund – should Greece require a bailout; protests have been held against government attempts to manage the economic situation.



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered the budget today, an annually-held audit of the country’s finances deciding how taxpayers’ money should be spent. He set out plans to boost the housing market in his fourth budget, as well as stating the economy will grow by 0.6% — half his prediction four months ago.

George Osborne revealed plans to improve the housing market, including a “Help to Buy” shared equity scheme which would offer buyers who can place a 5% deposit on a new house, a 20% loan to buy it. He said: “This is a budget for those who aspire to own their own home”. He also offered a new Mortgage Guarantee, created in conjunction with mortgage lenders — the scheme would allow them to offer loans to homeowners without the need for a large deposit and offer guarantees to support up to £130bn of lending for three years beginning in 2014.

As a measure to attract investment to the British economy, he announced to reduce corporation tax from 21% to 20% taking effect from April 2015. The rate of corporation tax has fallen from 28% in 2010 to the current level of 21%. The United Kingdom is to have lower rates of corporation tax than the USA at 40%, France at 33%, and Germany at 29%.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) stated the government debt reduction programme to reduce the budget deficit will miss its targets. The government has forecast the total public sector debt will begin to fall by the financial year 2015/2016, while OBR says national debt will reach a high of 85.6% of GDP, £1.58 trillion, in 2016/17. Osborne defended the government efforts to reduce the deficit and said: “Our judgement has since been supported by the IMF, the OECD and the Governor of the Bank of England.”

In response to the Budget speech, the Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband said: “At the worst possible time for the country. It’s a downgraded budget from a downgraded Chancellor […] Debt is higher in every year of this Parliament than he forecast at the last Budget. He is going to borrow £200 billion more than he planned.”

The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls said to The Independent, “They are borrowing £245bn more in this Parliament, we said all along …said this two years ago, if they had moved more quickly with a sensible, targeted package of measures to kick-start the economy, which would have meant at that time more borrowing for a VAT [Value Added Tax] cut to bring forward housing investment, then we would have got the economy growing and the deficit coming down.”

The Business Secretary Vince Cable told the BBC in an interview, the “age of austerity” would probably end within the current decade, but made no more definite forecast.

The head of the British Federation of Small Businesses, John Walker, said: “The Budget opens the door for small businesses to grow and create jobs. The Chancellor has pulled out all the stops with a wide ranging package of measures to support small business. […] [W]e are pleased to see the scrapping of the 3p fuel duty due in September”.

Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of Unite the Union, criticized the budget for not helping working families. He said: “This is a Budget for the few by the few that attacks the many. Millionaires are days away from getting a £40,000 tax cut from the Tories, but George Osborne is using the budget to attack hard-working public sector workers. The worst chancellor in British history has gone further by giving big business another tax cut while staff caring for the sick get pay cuts. […] [H]e should have raised the national minimum wage by £1 and drop the senseless plan to give millionaires a tax break in a few days’ time”.



This is the online suicide letter authored by Andrew Stack, the man believed to be responsible for flying a light aircraft into a building in Austin, Texas. It was originally posted at Stack’s site, http://embeddedart.com/. The hosting company, T35, took the site offline per an FBI request. The note is reproduced here in its entirety.

If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.

While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!

How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than [sic] what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

How did I get here?

My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling [sic] from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.

Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.

On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.

The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.

In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.

Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.

For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report (http://www.synergistech.com/1706.shtml#ConferenceCommitteeReport) regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml).

SEC. 1706. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN TECHNICAL PERSONNEL.

(a) IN GENERAL – Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:

(d) EXCEPTION. – This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. – The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.

Note:

· “another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.

· “taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.

· “individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.

Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.

During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.

After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.

Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.

Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.

Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.

By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.

To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.

So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.

When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.

This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.

I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.

I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Joe Stack (1956-2010)

02/18/2010



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.

Contents

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


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The largest class action in Victorian history was commenced at the Supreme Court of Victoria on Friday the 13th by Slidders Lawyers against electricity distribution company SP AusNet and the Brumby Government in relation to the Kilmore East fire that became part of the Kinglake complex.

Because of the lawsuit, SP AusNet SPN.AX’s shares on Monday have dropped more than 13.36 per cent or 14.5 cents, to an intra-day low of 94 cents, was at 98.5 cents at 10:38 a.m. local time, before recovering slightly to be 7.5 cents lower at A$1.01 by 1144 AEDT (0003 GMT) or 6.9 percent in Sydney trading. Shares in SP AusNet closed 3.7 percent lower at A$1.045 on Monday.

Power supplier SP AusNet said it has asked the Victoria Court regarding the status of the class action proceedings saying the firm had insurance policies in place consistent with industry standards. “SP AusNet will continue to update the market as further information becomes available,” the company said.

The claim has focused on alleged negligence by SP AusNet in its management of electricity infrastructure. It maintains most of the power lines in eastern Victoria. Its fallen power line is believed to have sparked the blaze that tore through Kinglake, Steels Creek, Strathewen, Humevale, and St Andrews. The plaintiffs include thousands of angry Kinglake farmers, small business owners, tourist operators and residents who lost homes.

Leo Keane, the lead plaintiff in the class action has alleged “SP AusNet owed a duty of care to landowners to operate and manage power lines in a way that limited the risk of damage from bushfires.”

On Thursday Phoenix Taskforce had taken away a section of power line as well as a power pole from near Kilmore East, part of a two-kilometre section of line in Kilmore East that fell during strong winds and record heat about 11am last Saturday. It was believed to have started the fire there, since within minutes a nearby pine forest was ablaze, and within six hours the bushfire had almost obliterated nearly every building in the towns in its path.

“It is believed that the claim will be made on the basis of negligent management of power lines and infrastructure,” Slidders Lawyers partner Daniel Oldham said. The law firm has announced it was helping landowners and leaseholders get compensation for the 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2009 bushfires. “If you have been burnt by the recent bushfires, please register your interest using the form below as soon as possible,” the law firm’s website stated.

The Insurance Council of Australia has placed the cost of the bushfires at about $500 million. “That means keeping electricity lines clear of trees and in a condition that won’t cause fires. They must also have systems in place to identify and prevent risks occurring,” Melbourne barrister Tim Tobin, QC, said. According to the 2006 census, Kinglake had a population of almost 1,500 people.

But SP AusNet’s legal liability has been limited at $100 million under an agreement inked by the former Kennett government with private utility operators, when the former State Electricity Commission was privatized in 1995. Accordingly, the Brumby Government could be legally obliged to pay damages of the differences amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

SP AusNet Ltd said some of its electricity assets have been damaged by the Victoria bushfire. “As a preliminary estimate, it is thought that damage has been sustained to approximately one per cent of SP AusNet’s electricity distribution network, mainly distribution poles, associated conductors and pole top transformers,” SP AusNet said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). It explained that up to 6,000 homes and businesses on its network were without power due to bushfires, including the Kinglake complex fire, Beechworth fire, and fires across Gippsland including Churchill and Bunyip.

SP AusNet said the firm will cooperate fully and will assist in any fire probe. “We stand ready to assist the relevant authorities with their inquiries if it is necessary for us to do so now and in the coming months,” SP Ausnet spokeswoman Louisa Graham said in a statement.

“Our priority is to restore power to fire-affected areas as quickly as possible. We believe the claim is premature and inappropriate … SP AusNet will vigorously defend the claim. If the claim is pursued, SP AusNet advises that it has liability insurance which provides cover for bushfire liability. The company’s bushfire mitigation and vegetation management programmes comply with state regulations and were audited annually by state agencies,” Grahams explained.

Victorian Auditor-General Rob Hulls said “there was an ‘unseemly rush’ by some lawyers to sue before the cause of the fires had been fully investigated.”

“The government body had audited the network’s bushfire risk to make sure required distances between power lines and vegetation were maintained. Power companies had been given a clean bill of health, and electricity firms were judged to be ‘well prepared for the 2008-09 bushfire season.’ There were no regulations applying to the distances between poles supporting electricity lines and spans of one kilometre were not unusual,” a spokesman for Energy Safe Victoria explained.

Christine Nixon, the 19th and current Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police said investigations into the cause of the bushfires were ongoing. “I know people are angry, and so are all of us in this community. But we need to kind of have a sense that the proper processes are in place and we need to go through the investigation and through the court case,” Nixon said. “At this stage we are not able to confirm how it started. I understand there is some legal action that people are taking, but at this stage we’re still investigating its cause. But the whole circumstances of that fire are part of our Taskforce Phoenix, and as we move through that we’ll be able to tell the community more once we’re able to confirm or deny what we think is the cause of these fires,” Nixon added.

On Thursday, two people were arrested in connection with the fires, having been observed by members of the public acting suspiciously in areas between Yea and Seymour; although they were both released without charges laid.

Brendan Sokaluk, age 39, from Churchill in the Gippsland region, was arrested by police at 4pm on Thursday, in relation to the Churchill fires, and was questioned at the Morwell police station. He was charged on Friday with one count each of arson, intentionally lighting a bushfire and possession of child pornography. The arson case relates to 11 of the 21 deaths in the dire Gippsland fire, which devastated 39,000 hectares in the Latrobe Valley, Calignee, Hazelwood Koornalla and Jeeralang. Two teams of Churchill firefighters were almost lost in the inferno that remains out of control.

Mr Sokaluk joined the CFA Churchill brigade in the late 1980s as a volunteer fire fighter, left in the 1990s and attempted to rejoin twice, but was rejected. He failed to appear in Melbourne Magistrate’s Court Monday for a scheduled hearing, since the court reset the committal hearing on May 25. He is represented by lawyer Julian McMahon.

Magistrate John Klestadt has lifted the suppression order which kept the suspect’s identity a secret but identifying photographs were barred from being released. Mr Sokaluk was remanded in protective custody from Morwell to a cell in Melbourne for his own safety amid fears angry prisoners will target him and real risk of vigilante attacks. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years imprisonment if convicted on the arson charge.

“This is an extraordinary case. The level of emotion and anger and disgust that the alleged offenses have aroused in the community is unprecedented.” Mr Sokaluk’s defense lawyer Helen Spowart argued. The prosecution has moved the Court for more time to prepare its case, saying there would be up to 200 witnesses to interview.

Slater & Gordon has indicated that they were awaiting the report of the to-be-established Royal Commission, expected in late 2010, before initiating any claims.

Armed with a $40 million budget, the Royal Commission’s Chair Justice Bernard Teague will be assisted by former Commonwealth ombudsman Ron McLeod, who led the inquiry into the 2003 Canberra bushfires, and State Services Authority Commissioner Susan Pascoe. The Commission has said its interim report is due on August 17 while the final report will be submitted by July 31, 2010.

Judge Bernard Teague has announced Tuesday he will meet with fire victims and fire authorities within the next two weeks. “We want to do that as soon as possible – probably not next week but starting to have these discussions the week after,” he said.

Julia Eileen Gillard, the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and deputy leader of the federal Australian Labor Party (ALP) said the federal and Victorian governments would respond quickly to the royal commission’s report. “Everybody who has lived through this experience in Victoria and around the nation has asked the question: ‘Why? What can we do better?’. No one wanted to see the report “as a book on a shelf gathering dust,” she said.

Victoria bushfire experts, led by Forest Fire Victoria – a group of scientists and forestry experts – have condemned the government’s “Living with Fire” policy and the state’s failure to initiate serious fuel-reduction programs. The Victoria government had failed to seriously act on bushfire safety recommendations submitted last June by the Victorian Parliamentary Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

As death toll rises, evidence mounts of lack of planning prior to Australia’s worst bushfire. “Living with Fire” policy means Kinglake fire trucks were dispatched to an earlier fire in Kilmore, leaving Kinglake undefended. “Kinglake was left with no fire brigade and no police. The trucks had been sent to Kilmore. I’ve been in the fire brigade for 10 years. There was always a law—the trucks had to be on the hill. Because of the government we got gutted at Kinglake. They should have been getting generators ahead of the fire—so people would have had a chance of fighting it. As soon as the power went, I couldn’t keep fighting the fire at my place,” Rick and Lauren Watts, and their friend Neil Rao, spoke to the WSWS.

Rick has also criticized the lack of early warning communications systems, since emergency siren warnings in the town had been stopped some years earlier. Humevale resident Sina Imbriano who has six children was angry about the failure of state and federal governments to set up a recommended telephone warning system amid its “stay and defend or go” policy. Bald Spur Road residents Greg Jackson and his wife Fotini said the government’s “stay and defend or go” policy was “fruitless” since the critical issue was early warnings, but “they [the government] just won’t spend the money.”

Also on Friday, five law firms from Victoria’s Western Districts, including Warrnambool-based Maddens Lawyers and Brown & Proudfoot, held a meeting to discuss a potential class action in relation to the Horsham fire, which was also thought to have been started by fallen power pole that burnt vast swathes of land in Mudgegonga and Dederang, Victoria. The lawsuit will also focus on the fire that blackened about 1750 hectares at Coleraine.

Maddens senior attorney Brendan Pendergast said: “We don’t know who the defendant is at this stage. We are unsure who the electrical supplier is for that area but we should know in a few days. There were people who had their homes burnt to the ground and they will need to reconstruct, replace their contents,” he said. Maddens has initiated a register of affected landowners for the recent bushfires, saying the firm has included victims of the Pomborneit fire that burnt almost 1300 hectares in the proposed class action amid the CFA’s statement the blaze could have been deliberately lit.

Frances Esther “Fran” Bailey, Liberal member of the Australian House of Representatives (1990-93 and 1996-present), representing the electorate of McEwen in Victoria said the Country Fire Authority (CFA) had told her one of the power lines had broken before the fire.

“The local CFA [Country Fire Authority] told me on that Saturday, with those very high winds, one of the lines had broken and was whipping against the ground and sparked,” she said. “Whether or not that is the cause of that terrible fire that actually took out Kinglake and maybe Marysville, the investigations will prove that, but we’ve got to do better,” she added.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said the power line claim would be examined as part of the Royal Commission into the bushfire. “No stone will be left unturned. So, I think it’s important the Royal Commission does its work. And, the Royal Commission will, of course, look at all of the factors with the fires,” Mr Brumby said. At least 550 houses were incinerated and 100 people have been killed, leaving more than 1,000 homeless in the Kinglake bushfire and surrounding areas.

SP AusNet – Singapore Power International Pte Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Power Limited (51% interest in SP AusNet). SP AusNet’s electricity transmission and distribution networks, along with the gas distribution assets, enable it to deliver a full range of energy-related products and services to industrial and domestic customers in Victoria, Australia.

Singapore Power ( ?????????) is a company which provides electricity and gas transmission, distribution services, and market support services to more than a million customers in Singapore. As the only electricity company in Singapore, and also one of its largest corporation, SP was incorporated as a commercial entity in October 1995 to take over the electricity and gas businesses of the state provider, the Public Utilities Board. Since 1995, Temasek Holdings controls the entire company with a 100% stake. SP is involved in a major investment in Australia‘s Alinta in partnership with Babcock & Brown, after putting up a bid of A$13.9 billion (S$17 billion), beating out a rival bid by Macquarie Bank.

The devastating 2009 Victorian Black Saturday bushfires, a series of more than 400 bushfires across Victoria on February 7 2009, is Australia’s worst-ever bushfire disaster, claiming at least 200 deaths, including many young children, and is expected to pass 300. 100 victims have been admitted to hospitals across Victoria with burns, at least 20 in a critical condition, and 9 on life support or in intensive care. The fires have destroyed at least 1,834 homes and damaged many thousands more. Many towns north-east of Melbourne have been badly damaged or almost completely destroyed, including Kinglake, Marysville, Narbethong, Strathewen and Flowerdale. Over 500 people suffered fire-related injuries and more than 7,000 are homeless. It has scorched more than 1,500 square miles (3,900 square kilometers) of farms, forests and towns.

The Supreme Court of Victoria is the superior court for the State of Victoria, Australia. Founded in 1852, it is a superior court of common law and equity, with unlimited jurisdiction within the state. Those courts lying below it include the County Court of Victoria, the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (which is technically not a court, but serves a judicial function). Above it lies the High Court of Australia. This places it around the middle of the Australian court hierarchy.



Friday, October 6, 2006

The upcoming 2006 Brampton municipal election, to be held November 13, features an array of candidates looking to represent their wards in city council or the council of the Peel Region.

Wikinews contributor Nick Moreau contacted many of the candidates, including Curtis Grant, asking them to answer common questions sent in an email. This ward’s incumbent is Paul Palleschi, also challenging Palleschi is Vicky Colbourne, David Esho, Chuck Jeffrey, and Tejinder Singh.



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