Left-wing EU parliament candidates debate in Cardiff

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cardiff, Wales —Labour, Plaid Cymru, and No2EU candidates for the Wales seats in the European Parliament met at Cardiff‘s Sandringham Hotel last night for the second of two pre-election hustings debates hosted by Cardiff Trades Union Congress. Cardiff TUC president Katrine Williams moderated as Derek Vaughan of the Labour Party, Jill Evans MEP of Plaid Cymru, and Rob Griffiths of the No2EU coalition, the tops of their respective lists, took questions from an audience of 22 composed largely of socialist activists and trade union members.

Candidates from the Tories, Liberal Democrats, and Green Party were not invited to the evening debate, although the Liberal Democrats did take part in the TUC’s debate earlier in the day. Ms Williams explained that the Liberal Democrats and Tories had been excluded because “we wanted to have candidates more representative of trade unions” but that not inviting the Greens had been “an oversight” due to the less prominent tradition of green politics in Wales. The BNP, UKIP and some minor parties also did not take part.

In opening statements, the three candidates discussed their records and their goals for the European Parliament. Mr Vaughan, leader of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, asserted the pro-organised labour credentials of the Labour Party, which has been under fire for several years from the left, and noted that Labour, which currently controls two of Wales’s four seats in the EU Parliament, has brought £1.5 billion to Wales, with a comparable amount to come in the future. Calling the BNP “Nazis” and comparing the British political situation to that in Germany in the 1930s, Vaughan called for the parties of the left to rally behind Labour in order to ensure that the BNP did not obtain any seats in Wales; but he expressed resignation to the likelihood that the BNP would earn a seat in North West England.

Ms Evans, meanwhile, who has been an MEP for ten years, announced her opposition to the pro-privatisation current in the EU and pledged that Plaid would support a new program of public investment and pro-organised labour revisions of EU directives, particularly the Posted Workers Directive.

Mr Griffiths, meanwhile, who is General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, took a position urging radical reform of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty, which he characterised as a re-branding of the European Constitution, would, he argued, enshrine neo-liberal policies in Europe and impose them on its member states in a way that was irreversible — “at least by any constitutional means”. Calling for a “social Europe” as opposed to a “United States of Europe“, Griffiths suggested that the creation of a European Defence Agency and the actions of the European Court of Justice were being used to turn the European Union into a capitalist “empire” akin to the United States.

Discussion of the ongoing UK parliamentary expenses scandal and its implications for MEPs, who draw salaries and expenses considerably higher than Westminster MPs do, dominated the early discussion. The Labour candidate expressed the position that the problems in accountability leading to the scandal had been fixed; his opponents noted that of the parties currently representing Britain in Brussels, only Labour has not yet disclosed their expenses (although Mr Vaughan states that the party will begin to do so soon) and Mr Griffiths furthermore declared that the scandal was part of a wider problem: the corruption of the political system by big business.

On the subject of a common European defence policy the three candidates supported widely differing views. The No2EU candidate stated plainly that he considers Europe not to be threatened, and said that a European defence force would be used for foreign adventures in Afghanistan, Africa, and elsewhere in the developing world while at the same time building up the armaments industry in Europe. Ms Evans, meanwhile, argued that the proper role of a common EU force would be as a “civil force” supporting conflict prevention and conflict resolution operations, and also called for the abolition of NATO. Mr Vaughan finished the second round of questioning arguing that a common European armed force should be an alternative to the “US-dominated” NATO, but also stated the importance of bilateral alliances in building up a common European defence force, citing the Franco-German Brigade of the Eurocorps as an example.

Debate ended on the contentious question of MEP salaries, with one member of the audience challenging the three candidates to pledge to accept a wage, if they won, equal to the average wage of their constituents. Ms Evans agreed that the set wage, currently £63,000 rising to £73,000 in 2010, was “too high”, but would not commit to a so-called “worker’s wage”, under heavy criticism from the audience. Mr Vaughan, following, called it “not fair” to ask MEPs to take such a pledge but asserted “I have never been motivated by money” and finished his part in the debate with a call to elect more left-wing socialist MEPs. Mr Griffiths, whose No2EU coalition has made a worker’s wage for MEPs part of their election manifesto, readily pledged to hold to a living wage, albeit not necessarily one equal to the average wage of his constituents, and described some of the difficulties associated with refusing an EU salary, noting that initially No2EU had proposed that its MEPs should draw no salary and claim no expenses from Europe but the coalition’s legal advisors had said that to do so would endanger the status of any of its members as MEPs.

Voting for the European Parliament elections in the United Kingdom takes place June 4.

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Interview with Reggie Bibbs on his life with neurofibromatosis

Friday, December 14, 2007

Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a genetic condition causing benign tumors (neurofibromas) to grow along certain types of nerves and, in addition, it can affect the development of bones or skin. There are several variants of the disease but type 1 and type 2 NF account for the vast majority of cases.

The disease manifestations can vary from very mild to severe. Major symptoms include growths on and under the skin; skin pigmentations called café au lait spots in type 1; acoustic nerve tumors and consequent hearing loss in type 2. Growths can affect nearly all parts of the body, and pressure on nearby structures can cause a wide variety of complications. There is a small risk that the tumors transform into malignant cancerous lesions.

NF is one of the most common single-gene human diseases; around 1 in 2,500-4,000 live births are affected by NF-1, whereas NF-2 occurs in about 1 in 50,000-120,000. Both type 1 and 2 are autosomal dominant conditions, meaning that only one copy of the mutated gene need be inherited to pass the disorder. A child of a parent with neurofibromatosis and an unaffected parent will have a 50% chance of inheriting the disorder. The gene responsible for NF-1 and possibly NF-2 is thought to function as a tumor suppressor gene.

In most cases of neurofibromatosis 1, patients can live normal and productive lives. In about 25-40% of patients there is an associated learning disability with or without ADHD. In some cases of neurofibromatosis 2, the damage to nearby vital structures, such as the cranial nerves and the brainstem, can be life-threatening. When tumors are causing pain or disfiguration, surgery is thus far the only proven beneficial treatment option.

Reggie Bibbs is a 43-year-old-man living in Houston, Texas. Mr Bibbs was born with a genetic disease called neurofibromatosis (NF), which causes him to develop tumors on his body (see infobox on the right). NF can be a subtle disease, but in Bibbs’ case it has left him with a disfigured face and deformed leg. But he is happy with the way he looks, and doesn’t want to change his appearance to please other people. He has launched a successful campaign entitled “Just Ask”, and that’s just what Wikinews did in a video-interview.

The interview was prepared by Wikinews reporter Michaël Laurent with the help of Bertalan Meskó (who has a popular genetics and web 2.0 blog). Their questions were sent to a close friend of Mr. Bibbs, Lou Congelio, who kindly conducted the interview.

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Obama responds to criticism over medical marijuana raids

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In a Rolling Stone magazine interview on Wednesday, United States President Barack Obama responded to recent backlash over his alleged policy shift on medical marijuana.

In January 2004, then-Illinois Senator Obama said, “The war on drugs has been an utter failure. We need to rethink and decriminalize our nation’s marijuana laws.” Since he took office as president, over 170 raids have been conducted on medical marijuana facilities across the U.S.

In the U.S. certain states have voted to allow for the use of marijuana for medical purposes, although it is still illegal to possess and consume under federal law. This has led to the recent raids and seizures on dispensaries by authorities with the federal government.

“What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana,” President Obama said. “I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law.”

On April 2, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) raided Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California. Oaksterdam provides courses in which students can learn about the horticulture and business aspects of the medical marijuana industry, but does not distribute marijuana. Authorities confiscated marijuana plants, records, computers and seized bank accounts held by that department of the university.

“In many respects [the raids in California] are not a surprise considering that these dispensaries and cultivation centers are in violation of federal law, and always have been.” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Along with the advocates at NORML, multiple lawmakers have written letters to President Obama criticizing his alleged shift on policy. The lawmakers have also called for the federal government to allow states to regulate themselves.

While medical marijuana is legal in California, as well as sixteen other states including Washington D.C., the Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as an illegal substance. California state law requires dispensaries to run as non-profit, and those who do make a profit are subject to getting raided by federal and local authorities. “If you grow a small amount at home or buy some off the street then he doesn’t care, that’s what they’ve said,” St. Pierre said.

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Wikinews interviews Fred Karger, U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate

Saturday, April 28, 2012

United States political consultant and gay rights (LGBT) activist Fred Karger of California took some time to discuss his Republican Party presidential campaign with Wikinews reporter William Saturn. Karger holds the distinction as the first openly gay person to seek the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party.

Before entering electoral politics, Karger worked as an adviser for such prominent Republicans and former U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Since retiring as an adviser in 2004, he has been involved in LGBT issues: opposing California Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state; and leading investigations of such same-sex marriage opponents as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormon Church).

In 2010, Karger first announced his intentions to seek the Republican presidential nomination, but did not officially announce until March 2011. One of his early campaign goals was to participate in a GOP presidential debate, but was never invited due to polling thresholds. However, Karger argued that he did meet the requirement for an August debate, but was still excluded after the organizers deemed polls he cited as inadequate.

So far, Karger has appeared on four Republican primary ballots including Puerto Rico, where he was able to top Congressman Ron Paul, who, at the time was one of the four major candidates in the race. Karger will next appear on the ballots in California on June 5, and in Utah on June 26.

Karger brands himself as “a different kind of Republican” that wants to open the party to outsiders. He backs gay marriage, is pro-choice on abortion, and wants to lower the voting age. However, he also holds some traditional Republican views: he favors a strengthening of the private sector and believes the U.S. should be steadfast in its support for the nation of Israel.

In talking to Wikinews, Karger discusses his personal political background and activism, the 2012 presidential election and his GOP campaign, as well as his political views on both domestic and foreign affairs.

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Harvard’s Berkman Center blog group develops blogging tutorials

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A discussion group about weblogs, or blogs for short, that meets at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society last week began releasing video tutorials about how to blog using various web and software tools.

Harvard University‘s Berkman Center hosts the blogging discussion group, which has met weekly for the past two years.

After months of discussion and collaboration on the new tutorials, at Friday’s evening meeting presenters showed off some of their early video tutorials, which stream recorded audio, and previously-captured video of a computer screen, along with simultaneous live audio from a microphone.

Participants learned how similar tutorials can be constructed using free software tools such as CamStudio. Audio of the session was made available on the World Wide Web.

Shimon Rura, a local software developer, presented a recent screen-capture + voiceover flash file he had made, demonstrating how to use a bookmarklet in the Frassle blogging package. Other participants discussed video demonstrations of how to podcast, and how to use specific blogging tools such as WordPress.

There was also disussion of a recent initiative to set up a Blogging101 site for distributing and translating these instructional materials. Rebecca MacKinnon, a noted blogger and Berkman Fellow, spoke about the BloggerCorps initiative to connect non-profits who want broader exposure with local blogging enthusiasts.

The meeting was held inside the main conference room in the Berkman Center’s Cambridge offices on Massachusetts Avenue.

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Types Of Industrial Air Compressors

By Mithul Mistry

Industrial air compressors are necessary in many lines of work. Industrial units unlike their at home counterparts are much larger. There are a variety of different styles of compressors that are made specifically for industrial use. Choosing the right air compressor can be a daunting task. When it is all said and done however, the right compressor can greatly aid in a variety of job related tasks. Many companies try to use smaller personal sized compressors and soon come to realize that they are not intended for repeated use, and are not large enough to get the tasks completed. Spending the extra money to obtain an industrial compressor in the first place can save hundreds of pounds and countless hours later.

Rotary screw industrial air compressors are one of the most common types of air compressors used for industrial applications. They are incredibly popular among business owners and employees alike because of their ability to operate 24 hours a day 7 days a week without stopping if necessary. These compressors are quite large and prior to purchasing a rotary screw compressor it is important to plan where the unit will sit. Although not inexpensive there are a number of jobs that require the use of an air compressor frequently during the work day if not on a constant basis. Choosing a rotary screw compressor is great for these types of jobs because of the fact that in can run continuously with no problems.

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It is important to purchase a compressor from a reputable company. Many companies offer refurbished units if cost is becoming a factor. Choosing a company that provides the compressor that suits your business needs as well as has a service agreement should there be an issue with the compressor is very important. Not only does the air compressor need to last a long time and be an integral part of your business, it will also need to be serviced occasionally. Choosing a company that offers a service contract with the purchase of an air compressor will make having the unit worked in quick and convenient.

Industrial compressors have many benefits in the workplace. When selecting the correct unit for the tasks at hand, you will find yourself satisfied. By having a great company standing behind the purchase of your air compressor you can rest easy knowing that should any repairs be required, the company will handle those. When making a large investment into your company with the purchase of an air compressor your want to rest easy that it will work as hard for you as you are working for your customers.

Most compressors are intended for industrial use are far superior to their non commercial counterparts. Do not try and save a few pounds by initially purchasing a less inexpensive unit. By selecting an industrial unit it will work adequately for a long time to come and not need replaced like overworked home units will. Remember with any large purchase you should always do you research and take independent advice.

About the Author: Excel Compressors, specialists in

Industrial Air Compressors

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Surveillance cameras in New South Wales schools cause alarm

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Installations of closed-circuit television (CCTV) security cameras into schools in the Australian state of New South Wales has alarmed teachers.

Over 50 schools in New South Wales already have surveillance cameras in playgrounds and outside dining areas. The concern from teachers arises from the pending installation of further cameras inside classrooms and also corridors.

Teachers have expressed concerns about privacy and misuse of the equipment. Senior vice-president of the New South Wales Teachers Federation, Bob Lipscombe, said that teachers are worried about the footage being used improperly, as well as the fact that both teachers and students would be filmed at work by the cameras.

The increase in security cameras being used in schools is an attempt to protect valuable schooling equipment from theft and damage, in particular computers in computer rooms. Lipscombe said that installations in computer rooms will potentially affect many teachers, as all subjects can be taught with the integration of technology.

CCTV surveillance is preferred by some schools over fitting alarm systems and physical bars on entrances to the room, as it is cheaper to install.

“[Teachers] are concerned about its improper use and that it may be taken out of context”

Lipscombe said that the Teachers Federation isn’t against CCTV systems provided they are operated properly and with appropriate consent. A solution proposed is to only have the surveillance system record during times when the room is unattended.

A spokesperson for the New South Wales Department of Education and Training has said that the footage obtained is confidential and used to assist police in investigating criminal activity.

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Study says poor African American women less likely to receive pap smears

Wednesday, December 28, 2005Black American women living in communities with high poverty rates are significantly less likely to be screened for cervical cancer, a study finds.

The Harvard School of Public Health’s Geetanjali Dabral Datta investigated the relationship between individual characteristics and larger socioeconomic factors and cervical cancer screening rates. The Febreuary 1 issue of Cancer carries the study. More than 40,000 black women from across the United States participated in the Black Women’s Health Study.

“African-American women have twice the mortality rate from cervical cancer as white women,” said Elizabeth Ward, the director of the American Cancer Society. “Researchers need to investigate how those differences are related to socioeconomic status. One of the big factors that may account for this finding is access to high-quality medical care. Often communities that have high poverty rates either lack access to good quality care, or people have to travel longer distances to obtain high-quality care.”

David L. Katz at Yale University’s School of Medicine said; “While this finding is not surprising, it is noteworthy just the same. No one should die of cervical cancer, because a simple screening test reliably finds the condition in its earliest stages when cure is almost universally achievable. Yet, several thousand deaths from this cancer occur each year in the U.S.”

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Whether Your Home Is A Cabin Or A Mansion, You’ll Be Comfortable With The Right Insulation Services!

byAlma Abell

Whether your home is a cabin in the woods or a mansion on a hill, you will want to be comfortable and cozy inside when the mercury rises on the thermometer or when old man winter is bearing down on you. In order to accomplish this, you must first ensure that cabin or mansion is properly insulated against the elements. When it comes to Insulation Services you want only the best for your personal domain.

With all of the insulating materials and new methods now available, how does one determine what type is best for their home, or even how much to install? Insulation can be blown-in or laid down as strips of fibreglass. There are terms such as R-Values, where “R” indicates resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-Value, the greater the insulating power.

Certified and experienced installers are able to insulate any part of your home, from foundation to roof, with state of the insulating techniques. The use of blown-in insulation provides the optimum insulating method by finding every gap, nook and cranny and filling it seamlessly. Not only will a well-insulated home keep you and your family more comfortable, but it also has many other benefits. It will also reduce your heating and cooling costs, add equity value to your home and provide you with peace of mind. Insulating your home reduces its environmental impact because you will be using fewer non-renewable resources each day. Another benefit of insulation is that of noise reduction. It is perfect for muffling the neighbours’ barking dog, children playing, busy street traffic or any other noises around your home.

One options is to enlist the services of Arrow Roofing &Siding Inc. This family owned and operated business has been making both families as well as businesses in the central Ohio and surrounding areas comfortable for more than 25 years. Arrow Roofing & Siding Inc. does more than simply provide a roof over your head and a beautiful exterior for your home. Their professional Insulation Services also ensure your comfort by keeping you and your family warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

News briefs: May 6, 2012

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