Wikinews Shorts: May 20, 2007

A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, May 20, 2007.

Full report: David Hicks transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Australian prison

After five years in U.S. military custody, David Hicks has returned to Australia. Hicks was taken to the maximum security Yatala Labour Prison, where he will serve the rest of his 9 month sentence.

His lawyer David McLeod told reporters: “David is well and he enjoyed the trip. … He was very glad to be back on Australian soil.”

The flight in a government-charted airplane took 24 hours and is estimated to have cost 500,000 Australian dollars. According to his lawyer, Hicks was grateful to the taxpayers for paying his repatriation.

Hicks pleaded guilty before a special military court to providing material support to the Taliban. He was sentenced on March 30 to seven years in prison, but only needed to complete nine months of his penalty, which expires in December.

Related news

  • “First Guantánamo Bay prisoner sentenced” — Wikinews, April 1, 2007

Sources

  • “Hicks spends first night on Aussie soil” — Herald Sun, May 21, 2007
  • “David Hicks back in Australia” — Herald Sun, May 20, 2007
  • Dan Silkstone. “‘Overjoyed’ Hicks touches down” — The Age, May 20, 2007

The New York Times reports that the United States are making monthly payments to Pakistan, totalling about $1 billion annually, for their efforts against Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. The so-called coalition support funds continued unchanged after President Pervez Musharraf decided to cut back on patrols along the border with Afghanistan.

“They send us a bill, and we just pay it. … Nobody can really explain what we are getting for this money or even where it’s going,” the New York Times article quotes a senior military official involved.

Sources

  • David E. Sanger and David Rohde. “U.S. Pays Pakistan to Fight Terror, but Patrols Ebb” — New York Times, May 20, 2007
  • “`US aid to Pak should be tied to performance on war on terror`” — Zee News, May 20, 2007

Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert declared that: “If the measured steps we are taking, in the political and military sphere, do not bring about the desired calm, we will be forced to intensify our response.”

Olmert held Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militants responsible for the escalation in rocket attacks on Israel over the past week. Israel answered with daily bombardments on Palestine for the past six days. Meanwhile, the ceasefire between Hamas and Fatah seems to be holding, after a week of increased factional violence in Palestine.

Related news

  • “Israel responds to Hamas rockets with air strike on Gaza, killing four” — Wikinews, May 17, 2007

Sources

  • Reuters. “Israel threatens stronger military steps in Gaza” — Stuff.co.nz, May 21, 2007
  • Jeffrey Heller (Reuters). “Israel to “intensify” Gaza strikes” — Swissinfo, May 20, 2007
  • AP. “Israel Strikes Hamas Militants Anew” — CBS, May 20, 2007
  • Sarah El Deeb (AP). “Israel strikes Hamas militants anew” — The Kansas City Star, May 20, 2007
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Australian government provides $15.8 million for North Adelaide Technical College

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Australian Minister for Vocational Education and Training, Gary Hardgrave has announced the government will provide AU$15.8 million to establish an Australian Technical College in North Adelaide. The minister said the government was entering into a partnership with the Archdiocese of Adelaide and consortium of industrial and manufacturing companies.

The North Adelaide college will be located in Elizabeth and be operated as an independent non-government school. The college is one of 25 to be established across the country.

Enrolments at the college will begin in 2007 and will offer courses in areas where identified skills shortages exist in the North Adelaide region, specifically – engineering, construction, electronics and cooking.

Mr Hardgrave said that the proposed college had been popular among the North Adelaide business community. “This important initiative has been well received by North Adelaide business and industry, and will help to address skills needs and provide opportunities for those in greatest need, including a lot of Indigenous students in the region,” Mr Hardgrave said.

“The fact that this College is being led by local employers, local government and other key stakeholders, means it will be truly industry and community driven,” he said.

Australian Technical Colleges were established to cater for year 11 and 12 students who wish to do an apprenticeship as part of their school education.

The Australian Education Union has expressed a number of concerns about the model put forward by the government. In a report, they claim that trade facilities at TAFE colleges (operated by state governments) will deteriorate as funding is diverted to the ATCs. The union is also concerned that ATCs are supposed to be selective VET schools. According to the union they will have selective entry and preferential funding. It is feared that teachers will be lured away from schools and TAFE colleges to higher paid positions in ATCs.

The Education Union suggested that the government invest in schools that already offer vocational education programs.

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Fire kills three and closes main transport route into Western Australia

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A fire in the Borrabbin National Park between Southern Cross and Coolgardie Western Australia, has so far burnt out 29,000 hectares and killed three truck drivers when the convoy they were travelling in was engulfed by the flames. Great Eastern Highway the primary road for all traffic from Perth heading to the East Coast of Australia has been closed. An alternate route is in place, police are diverting traffic at Norseman. The diversion adds 250 km(160 mi) for the journey to Perth.

The three truck drivers died on Sunday night after they joined a convoy that was released from Coolgardie after being told that the road was safe. Kieran McNamara director general of the Department of Environment and Conservation(DEC) admitted that it had been caught out by its decision to reopen the road at 8pm (wst) on 30 December.

Mr McNamara said “The decision was made with the advice from people at the firefront, and with the latest weather forecasts, and was judged to be the right decision and the safe decision at the time and in those circumstances… Regrettably and with hindsight, that’s not how it’s turned out.”

The driver of another truck in the convoy that was destroyed escaped with burns to his hands and was rushed through the fire front by firefighters to Yellowdine, another driver was rescued uninjured and return to Coolgardie, a spokesman for Whiteline transport the owners of this truck were thankful their driver survived unharmed saying the cost of the vehicle lost was about AU$400,000 plus cargo. Police confirmed that four trucks were destroyed by the fire.

Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia reported that they were fighting the fire without using water. All efforts were focused on building fire breaks with heavy machinery to contain the fire, that 90 volunteer fire fighters on the scene were there to defend the bulldozers.

The fire is still burning on a 150 km (90 mi) front, DEC spokesman says fire fighters are hoping to bring the fire under control with an expected cool change on Wednesday. The Weather Bureau has forecast temperatures to return above 40°C(105°F) by Thursday.

Local Police say that Great Eastern Highway will remain closed until the fire is under control and the damaged vehicles have been removed from the scene, at this stage its not expected to occur before Sunday.

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Police report drug haul seizure worth up to £30 million in Brownhills, England

Monday, December 2, 2013

Police in the West Midlands in England today said nearly 200 kilograms worth of drugs with value possibly as great as £30 million (about US$49 million or €36 million) has been seized from a unit in the town of Brownhills. In what an officer described as “one of the largest [seizures] in the force’s 39 year history”, West Midlands Police reported recovering six big cellophane-wrapped cardboard boxes containing cannabis, cocaine, and MDMA (“ecstasy”) in a police raid operation on the Maybrook Industrial Estate in the town on Wednesday.

The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated

The seized boxes, which had been loaded onto five freight pallets, contained 120 one-kilogram bags of cannabis, 50 one-kilogram bags of MDMA, and five one-kilogram bricks of cocaine. In a press release, West Midlands Police described what happened after officers found the drugs as they were being unloaded in the operation. “When officers opened the boxes they discovered a deep layer of protective foam chips beneath which the drugs were carefully layered”, the force said. “All the drugs were wrapped in thick plastic bags taped closed with the cannabis vacuum packed to prevent its distinctive pungent aroma from drawing unwanted attention.” Police moved the drugs via forklift truck to a flatbed lorry to remove them.

Detective Sergeant Carl Russell of West Midlands Police’s Force CID said the seizure was the largest he had ever made in the 24 years he has been in West Midlands Police and one of the biggest seizures the force has made since its formation in 1974. “The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated”, he said. “The drugs had almost certainly been packed to order ready for shipping within Britain but possibly even further afield. Our operation will have a national effect and we are working closely with a range of law enforcement agencies to identify those involved in this crime at whatever level.”

Expert testing on the drugs is ongoing. Estimates described as “conservative” suggest the value of the drugs amounts to £10 million (about US$16.4 million or €12 million), although they could be worth as much as £30 million, subject to purity tests, police said.

Police arrested three men at the unit on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. The men, a 50-year-old from Brownhills, a 51-year-old from the Norton area of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, and one aged 53 from Brownhills, have been released on bail as police investigations to “hunt those responsible” continue. West Midlands Police told Wikinews no person has yet been charged in connection with the seizure. Supplying a controlled drug is an imprisonable offence in England, although length of jail sentences vary according to the class and quantity of drugs and the significance of offenders’ roles in committing the crime.

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Author Amy Scobee recounts abuse as Scientology executive

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wikinews interviewed author Amy Scobee about her book Scientology – Abuse at the Top, and asked her about her experiences working as an executive within the organization. Scobee joined the organization at age 14, and worked at Scientology’s international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005. She served as a Scientology executive in multiple high-ranking positions, working out of the international headquarters of Scientology known as “Gold Base”, located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California.

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On the campaign trail in the USA, October 2020

Monday, November 2, 2020

The following is the sixth and final edition of a monthly series chronicling the 2020 United States presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

This month’s spotlight on the campaign trail: the Free and Equal Elections Foundation holds two presidential debates, three candidates who did not participate in those debates give their final pleas to voters, and three political pundits give their predictions on the outcome of the election.

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CEO of GM outlines plan for “New GM” after auto company declared bankruptcy

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In a New York press conference at 16:15 UTC, June 1st, Fritz Henderson, the Chief Executive Officer of General Motors, which filed for bankruptcy and Chapter 11 protection from its creditors earlier today, outlined a plan for what he called a “New GM”.

Speaking to the press under safe harbor provisions of U.S. law, Henderson described the events of today as a “defining moment” in the history of General Motors. Speaking to the public he said that “The GM that let you down is history,” and described a “New GM” that he expected to result from the bankruptcy process.

Henderson stated that he envisioned the bankruptcy process would take between 60 and 90 days. He stressed several times his view that the process would be one that is executed quickly, saying that not just a sense of urgency but “pure unadulterated speed” was his expectation of the process. He emphasized that “GM remains open for business” during the bankruptcy period, continuing to sell and to support its products, and that day one motions had been filed in the bankruptcy court in order to allow this.

Regarding the bankruptcy process he said, “We will do it right. And we will do it once.”

He stated that the plan for General Motors had the support of the United Auto Workers union, the Canadian Auto Workers union, the GM VEBA, and a majority of the unsecured bondholders of GM. He also mentioned that GM had already received €1.5 million in bridge financing from the German government.

In response to questions about the possibility of the United States federal government, a majority shareholder in the restructured company, dictating future product development and strategy, such as the sale of more fuel-efficient and green vehicles; he first observed that the federal government had already stated to him that it had “no real interest in running our business” and that he expected that still to be his job. Of the specific hypothetical scenario where the management of GM wants to make one type of car, because it thinks that it is the right thing for the business, and the U.S. government wants to make another type of car, he stated that “I don’t think it’s going to happen.” Expanding on that point he stated that he expected the “New GM” to focus upon “highly fuel-efficient and green technology”, and that operating both in accordance with U.S. environmental laws and in response to customer demand would naturally result in the New GM producing the types of vehicles that the U.S. government would encourage.

The “New GM” he also expected to focus on “four core brands”, and will size its dealership to match that. He stated that GM would offer a “deferred termination” package to dealers, to allow them to cease dealing in GM vehicles in a managed and gradual way.

He stated that the bankruptcy filings did not cover General Motors’ businesses in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, and Asia and the Pacific. Of GM’s profitable ventures in China, specifically, he stated that they were “a critical part of the New GM”. In response to questions of whether the New GM would import cars from China to the U.S., he stated the formative company’s core principle that “We build where we sell” applied in both directions, with GM building in China to sell in China and building in the U.S. to sell in the U.S., stating that this shortened supply chains.

He declined to predict when the New GM would return to profitability, stating that the goal was rather to lower the break-even EBIT point for the company. He also declined to speculate upon when the U.S. government would sell its stake in the company, saying that that was a question “better addressed to the U.S. Treasury”, and merely saying that he expected it to be “years, not months” when the U.S. Treasury felt it would give “the right return for taxpayers.”

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Florida judge awards Zimmerman $150,000 bond in Trayvon Martin shooting

Sunday, April 22, 2012

George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch captain who faces second-degree murder charges for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, took the stand Friday in a Florida courtroom for a bond hearing. While on stand, Zimmerman apologized to the parents of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

“I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not,” Zimmerman said addressing Martin’s family directly.

Judge Kenneth Lester granted Zimmerman with a US$150,000 bond, about €100,000, at the conclusion of the hearing. Zimmerman will also have to wear a GPS monitoring device. Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, said it will take some time to collect bail and that he expects Zimmerman to be released from custody within a few days.

Prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda argued Zimmerman should not have been allowed bond or if he was given bond that it should have been set at US$1 million, which is about €750,000.

A photograph obtained by ABC News could give credibility to Zimmerman’s story. The photo is of Zimmerman’s head, covered in blood. Zimmerman claims Martin had pummeled his head into the concrete during their fight. Robert Zimmerman, a former magistrate and the accused’s father, testified in regards to Zimmerman’s injuries after Martin was killed.

“His face was swollen quite a bit,” Robert Zimmerman said. “There was a protective cover over his nose, his lip was cut and there were two vertical gashes on the back of his head.”

During the hearing, O’Mara questioned State Attorney’s Investigator, Dale Gilbreath, who confessed that no clear evidence has been found that proves Zimmerman attacked Martin first.

I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not.

Zimmerman’s family insisted that Zimmerman was not a violent person.

“He’s absolutely not a violent person or a threat to the community,” said Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie.

Zimmerman’s wife and parents were fearful of their safety and testified through phone at the hearing. Shellie asked the court keep Zimmerman’s address secret once he is released for fear of his safety.

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Matt Smith revealed as 11th incarnation of Doctor Who

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Actor Matt Smith will be the next to portray the Doctor on the BBC television program Doctor Who. Smith will be the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor, taking over from actor David Tennant who will end his time with the series after filming four editions of the program through 2009. The Doctor comes from a race of Timelords, and has the ability to “regenerate” and change appearance when his health is failing. William Hartnell was the first actor to play the Doctor, from 1963–1966. Smith will become the new occupant of the Doctor’s time machine and spacecraft the “TARDIS” in 2010.

David Tennant will be a very hard act to follow, but I’m optimistic that the new Doctor will be just as good.

John Harper, founder of the Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society and a fan of the series, called the decision to cast 26-year-old Smith in the role “wonderful”. MP for Scarborough Robert Goodwill, also a fan of the program, told the Scarborough Evening News: “David Tennant will be a very hard act to follow, but I’m optimistic that the new Doctor will be just as good.”

He is possibly going to be one of the best Doctors we’ve ever had.

Matt Smith, 26, portrayed researcher Danny Foster on the political drama Party Animals, which aired on BBC Two in 2007. Fellow actor Andrew Buchan from Party Animals told The Guardian: “It’s a sublime bit of casting. He’s got that huge hair, a twinkle in his eye — Matt’s the king of geek chic. He is possibly going to be one of the best Doctors we’ve ever had.”

After a back injury got in the way of Smith’s goal of becoming a footballer, his drama teacher Jerry Hardingham at Northampton School for Boys encouraged him to pursue acting. Though Smith did not audition, Hardingham cast him in a school production of the play Twelve Angry Men. Hardingham later convinced Smith to join the National Youth Theatre, and he landed the lead role in the play Murder in the Cathedral, performing before members of the British Royal Family and other VIPs at the Westminster Cathedral.

David Tennant, 37, has portrayed the Doctor on Doctor Who since taking over for Christopher Eccleston in 2005. A major feature of his character’s stories involved a romantic interest in his companion in the TARDIS, Rose, played by actress Billie Piper.

Tennant announced his exit from the program on October 29, 2008, at the National Television Awards in the United Kingdom, during his speech accepting the outstanding drama performance award at the program. Doctor Who was recognized with the award for most popular drama program.

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“I love this part, and I love this show so much that if I don’t take a deep breath and move on now I never will, and you’ll be wheeling me out of the Tardis in my bath chair,” said Tennant in his address to the audience in attendance at the Royal Albert Hall. He was previously recognized at the National Television Awards for his role in Doctor Who with the award for most popular actor, in 2006 and 2007.

Tennant is currently performing the lead role in Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and his engagement at the Novello Theatre in Westminster, London is set to end on January 10. He portrayed Hamlet 60 times with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon prior to the production’s move to London.

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