Wikinews interviews specialists on China, Iran, Russia support for al-Assad

Monday, September 23, 2013

Over the past week, diplomatic actions have averted — or, at least delayed — military strikes on Syria by the United States. Wikinews sought input from a range of international experts on the situation; and, the tensions caused by Russia’s support for the al-Assad regime despite its apparent use of chemical weapons.

File:Ghouta chemical attack map.svg

Tensions in the country increased dramatically, late August when it was reported between 100 and 1,300 people were killed in an alleged chemical attack. Many of those killed appeared to be children, with some of the pictures and video coming out of the country showing — according to witnesses — those who died from apparent suffocation; some foaming at the mouth, others having convulsions.

Amongst Syria’s few remaining allies, Iran, China, and Russia continue to oppose calls for military intervention. In an effort to provide a better-understanding of the reasoning behind their ongoing support, the following people were posed a range of questions.

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Immigration Detainees on Hunger Strike in Oxford UK

Thursday, June 15, 2006

One hundred and twenty detainees at an immigration removal centre in Oxford, UK, are on hunger strike. The protest started when some detainees refused breakfast on Wednesday 14th June 2006. A letter from the hunger strikers explaining why they are seeking to draw attention to their plight in this way has been reproduced in full below.

Those detained at the centre are mostly men who have sought asylum in the UK and whose asylum applications have been rejected. These people are then held without knowing how long they will be detained for – some end up being held for many years while awaiting deportation.

The removal centre, known as Campsfield, or Campsfield House is approximately 5 miles north of Oxford and has been in operation since 1993. It was managed on behalf of the UK Government by Global Solutions Limited, until may 2006 when it was taken on by GEO UK, the centre has a capacity of 198. Only males are detained at Campsfield.

According to the campaign group Barbed Wire Britain Over 2,600 individuals, mostly asylum seekers, are detained indefinitely in the UK without trial and with no automatic right to bail.

There have been reports in the UK press of the state taking people to detention centres without notice, in the early hours of the morning using excessively heavy handed tactics, taking children out of schools and separating families.

Many UK people and politicians express their disgust at the way detainees are treated, yet it continues. Perhaps this action by the detainees themselves will further highlight their plight and result in more UK electors writing to their MPs and demanding improvements to the way in which rejected asylum seekers are treated.

“We are detainees at Campsfield removal centre in Oxford. Most of us have been here for a long while now. There are people who have been detained for up to two years and down to three months. We are cramped in here like animals. We are treated like animals and moved around different detention centres like animals. The immigration service have taken husbands from their families and taken people who ran away from persecution in their various countries, and dumped everyone in here.

Once you are put in here the immigration service forget you. There are detainees who have applied to go back to their own countries that are still being held here for months without any news about their cases, just so that the private security companies get more money.

Detainees are asked to seek asylum and then refused. The immigration service also ask detainees to apply for bail. When you get a bail hearing date all of a sudden they serve you with removal papers that are not valid. There are many of these situations. In most cases the immigration service don’t take you to your court hearings. And then they tell the judges you refused to turn up, just so the hearing goes ahead in your absence. Many detainees have been served with removal papers and travel documents but nothing happens on the removal day.

Campsfield has become a slave house. We detainees are treated like slaves, to do odd jobs for officers. Detainees are handcuffed to see doctors or dentists in hospitals or clinic appointments. We have some racist security officers who make racist comments to detainees and go out of their way to make you feel like committing suicide. Detainees have to be at the point of death before they get to see the doctors.

The food is not worth eating. Even dogs would refuse to eat what we eat. But we don’t have a choice; every single day we eat the same food (the food we eat is rice, chicken, sandwiches, and left-over eggs)”.

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Search for child abductor continues in Australia

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New South Wales Police are continuing the search for the man who abducted a six year old girl for a short period of time from the front yard of her Mount Austin home in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia on Sunday morning.

The girl was playing in her front yard, when abducted by a man at approximately 11:30am (AEDT) on Sunday.She tried to cling to a tree but the man overpowered her, placing her under his arm and then into the rear of his cab. The girl’s screams alerted her mother and neighbours, with her mother getting a hold of the rear tray of the Toyota Hilux and being dragged along the road before losing her grip.

It is believed a witness followed the vehicle for a short distance until losing sight of it.

The abductor returned the girl to a nearby street approximately 90 minutes after the abduction.

The child is physically unharmed and currently undergoing medical examination

Superintendent Rod Smith told the media that the girl was “physically unharmed” but undergoing a “medical examination” with the family of the girl “suffering severe shock”.

The man is described to be in his 40s with a solid build and receding light hair, driving a late model Toyota Hilux, white in colour with silver standard wheels and a yellow barrel in the tray. The car is believed to have plates starting with BD or DB.

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Surgeons reattach boy’s three severed limbs

Tuesday, March 29, 2005A team of Australian surgeons yesterday reattached both hands and one foot to 10-year-old Perth boy, Terry Vo, after a brick wall which collapsed during a game of basketball fell on him, severing the limbs. The wall gave way while Terry performed a slam-dunk, during a game at a friend’s birthday party.

The boy was today awake and smiling, still in some pain but in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery, according to plastic surgeon, Mr Robert Love.

“What we have is parts that are very much alive so the reattached limbs are certainly pink, well perfused and are indeed moving,” Mr Love told reporters today.

“The fact that he is moving his fingers, and of course when he wakes up he will move both fingers and toes, is not a surprise,” Mr Love had said yesterday.

“The question is more the sensory return that he will get in the hand itself and the fine movements he will have in the fingers and the toes, and that will come with time, hopefully. We will assess that over the next 18 months to two years.

“I’m sure that he’ll enjoy a game of basketball in the future.”

The weight and force of the collapse, and the sharp brick edges, resulted in the three limbs being cut through about 7cm above the wrists and ankle.

Terry’s father Tan said of his only child, the injuries were terrible, “I was scared to look at him, a horrible thing.”

The hands and foot were placed in an ice-filled Esky and rushed to hospital with the boy, where three teams of medical experts were assembled, and he was given a blood transfusion after experiencing massive blood loss. Eight hours of complex micro-surgery on Saturday night were followed by a further two hours of skin grafts yesterday.

“What he will lose because it was such a large zone of traumatised skin and muscle and so on, he will lose some of the skin so he’ll certainly require lots of further surgery regardless of whether the skin survives,” said Mr Love said today.

The boy was kept unconscious under anaesthetic between the two procedures. In an interview yesterday, Mr Love explained why:

“He could have actually been woken up the next day. Because we were intending to take him back to theatre for a second look, to look at the traumatised skin flaps, to close more of his wounds and to do split skin grafting, it was felt the best thing to do would be to keep him stable and to keep him anaesthetised.”

Professor Wayne Morrison, director of the respected Bernard O’Brien Institute of Microsurgery and head of plastic and hand surgery at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital, said he believed the operation to be a world first.

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Queensland state Green party to run environmental lawyer in treasurer’s electorate

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Queensland Greens will run an environmental lawyer against incumbent treasurer Andrew Fraser at this years Queensland state election in Australia. Larissa Waters will be the party’s candidate for the seat of Mt Coot-tha.

Ms Waters says she is hoping that the premier does not call the election in May, as she [Ms Waters] is expecting her first child that month.

“I am giving that a fair bit of interest,” she said. “Luckily we have a pretty good branch in Mt Coot-tha.”

Ms Waters received a 6 per cent swing at the 2006 election in the Brisbane Central electorate, which was then held by then premier Peter Beattie. She then missed out on a federal senate spot by a narrow margin.

While acknowledging Mr Fraser’s abilities, Ms Waters questions whether he was still in touch with the electorate.

“This has been the greenest electorate in Queensland is the past few elections,” she said. “And Andrew Fraser is just not green enough for this electorate. It think it is more important that he is more connected with the people of his electorate than schmoozing.”

The Greens unveiled its policy to open two solar power stations last weekend.

“We can tackle climate change and create long-term jobs, but Labor can’t see that because they are blinded by the interests of their big donors – the urban development and coal industries,” Ms Waters said.

“The Greens want to give the community and the environment a voice back in State Parliament.”

Queensland’s unicameral parliament is currently made up of 58 Australian Labor Party (ALP) members, 25 Liberal National Party (LNP) members, one member each from The Greens and One Nation and four independents.

Ms Waters believes there is a general dissatisfaction with both the ALP and LNP and promotes the Greens as an appropriate balance of power, similar to that of the party’s federal senate members.

Acknowledging the steps taken by the premier on reforming laws to protect the Great Barrier Reef, she has said that “[i]t is long overdue. But the package doesn’t cover the complete range of issues. We need both ‘stick and carrot’ in our approach in this area.”

Her campaign will be officially launched today on Mt Coot-tha.

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India test-fires ‘Astra’ missile

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

India successfully test fired the Astra, meaning “weapon” in Sanskrit, air-to-air missile from a specially-made launcher at about 9:45 am. The launch occured at launch pad number two of the Integrated Test Range complex in Chandipur, 230 kilometres (143 miles) north-east of Bhubaneshwar, Orissa.

The single-stage, solid fuel Astra missile, developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), is a high-end tactical missile comparable to the contemporary BVR (Beyond Visual Range) missiles and is capable of engaging and destroying highly maneuverable supersonic aerial targets.

It is designed to intercept enemy aircraft at supersonic speeds in head-on mode at a range of 80 km and in tail-chase mode at 20 km. It is capable of carrying conventional payload of 15 kilograms. The missile has a solid-propellant engine and is capable of achieving speeds of around Mach 4, four times the speed of sound.

The missile which has a range of 25 km (15 miles) can be fitted into any fighter aircraft. It is intended to be eventually integrated with the IAF’s Sukhoi-30MKI, MiG-29, Mirage 2000, Jaguar, and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft.

S.P. Das, head of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Orissa said “It was a very good flight. The test was conducted to prove the control system,” after the missile hit targets accurately.

Sources at the ITR claimed the tests on the missile’s navigation, control, air frame, propulsion and other sub-system have been validated.The complex missile system would undergo some more trials before being made fully operational. They hope to introduce it in India’s arsenal by 2011.

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UK pay freeze on public sector employees will end next year

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

On Monday, United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak revealed in a media briefing that he will confirm in his Budget, scheduled for half-noon Wednesday, an end to the partial pay freeze on 2.6 million public sector employees introduced last November, alongside a 6.6% increase to the National Living Wage.

Sunak used the fall in wages during COVID-19 to justify his “pause” in public sector employees’ pay that exempted 2.9 million National Health Service workers and those earning under GBP24 thousand per year, but applied to 2.6 million teachers, police, civil servants and members of the British Armed Forces. While a pay rise is in order from spring next year, the precise details are pending consultation by independent advisers and pay review bodies, according to the i. The Guardian writes some 5.7 million public sector employees could see a pay rise.

In addition, about two million on minimum wage, including some from the above 5.7 million, could benefit from an increase in the national minimum and national living wages. According to the i and The Guardian, the National Living Wage applicable for over-23s will increase by 59p to GBP9.50 an hour from next April, about GBP1000 for a full-time worker, in line with recommendations from independent advisory board the Low Pay Commission. The National Minimum Wage for those aged 21 to 22 will rise 82p to GBP9.18 an hour, and the Apprenticeship Rate will go up 51p to GBP4.81 an hour.

However, according to senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies Tom Waters: “While this boosts earnings for full-time minimum wage workers by over £1,000 a year, those on universal credit will see their disposable income go up by just £250 because their taxes rise and benefit receipt falls as their earnings increase.” Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury and Labour MP Bridget Phillipson said the offer was “underwhelming”, and “[m]uch of it will be swallowed up by the government’s tax rises, universal credit cuts and failure to get a grip on energy bills”. UK inflation rose 2.9% the year to September, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Phillipson contrasted Sunak’s measures with those of a Labour government, according to The Independent: “With a new deal for workers, exploitative practices like zero hours contracts banned, Fire and rehire outlawed, a minimum wage of at least £10 an hour and fair pay agreements, a Labour government will transform work and raise standards.”

However, the Daily Mirror says Mr Sunak is considering a rise to GBP10.50 an hour, and the qualifying age for the National Living Wage lowered from 25 to 21 by the next election in 2024. This would match or exceed Labour’s pledge of “a decent income that you can raise a family on”: an increase of the “minimum wage to at least £10 an hour”.

Mr Sunak said during the media briefing that Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle would later call “riding roughshod” over parliamentarians, that it was “[t]he economic impact and uncertainty of the virus” that led to the “difficult decision to pause private pay”, which “[a]long with our Plan for Jobs, this action helped us protect livelihoods at the height of the pandemic. And now, with the economy firmly back on track, it’s right that nurses, teachers and all the other public-sector workers who played their part during the pandemic see their wages rise.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had announced at the Conservative Party conference his intent to create a “high-pay, high-skill economy” after Brexit, but it may take years for salary growth to catch up with mounting financial pressures, according to the i.

According to The Guardian, analysis by the Resolution Foundation indicates those impacted by the freeze earned nearly 8% less than their private sector counterparts. The differential widened to 0.6% for all public sector employees, including those exempt. The Office of National Statistics writes total private sector pay grew 8.3% from June to August 2021, while public sector pay grew only 2.5%.

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United States to expand ‘information operations’ against terror

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that U.S. public diplomacy efforts need to do more in the media to communicate a message friendly to democracy.

“We’ll need to do all we can to attract supporters to our efforts and to correct the lies that are being told, which so damage our country, and which are repeated and repeated and repeated,” Rumsfeld said in an address to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York city on Friday. He said that insurgent groups have learned to use media and its new satellite and Internet technologies, and are working 24/7, to manipulate public opinion.

Rumsfeld called for the need to implement a “strategic communications framework” to present news information in Afghanistan and Iran. He warned, ” …the [news] vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place.” He said there was a need for communications training of military public affairs officials. The Department of Defense would begin with an emphasis on using out-sourced media expertise found in the private-sector, as was done with the controversial use of Lincoln Group who placed pro-democracy stories in Iraqi media in a business arrangement with the U.S. military.

Rumsfeld was critical of the U.S. media for its sharp response to that program at his address in New York, which he said had the effect of stopping that military effort. In an appearance on the The Charlie Rose Show, a televised program taped earlier and then aired by PBS last Friday, the same day as his New York address, Rumsfeld said “When we heard about it, we said, ‘Gee, that’s not what we ought to be doing.’ … They stopped doing that.” But in a Los Angeles Times report, a Lincoln Group insider and a U.S. commander in Iraq, General George W. Casey, said the program was still in existence.

The White House has signaled a shift towards the use of media in the “War against Terror”. The U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Senate testimony on Wednesday last week that $10 million is already appropriated to support political dissidents, labor union leaders and human rights activists in Iran. The Bush administration will be asking for an additional $75 million in funding for the 2006 fiscal year to expand the program.

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Recalled pet food found to contain rat poison

Friday, March 23, 2007

In a press release earlier today, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker, along with Dean of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Donald F. Smith, confirmed that scientists at the New York State Food Laboratory identified Aminopterin as a toxin present in cat food samples from Menu Foods.

Menu Foods is the manufacturer of several brands of cat and dog food subject to a March 16, 2007 recall.

Aminopterin is a drug used in chemotherapy for its immunosuppressive properties and, in some areas outside the US, as a rat poison. Earlier reports stated that wheat gluten was a factor being investigated, and officials now state that the toxin would have come from Chinese wheat used in the pet food, where it is used for pest control. Investigators will not say that this is the only contaminant found in the recalled food, but knowing the identity of the toxin should assist veterinarians treating affected animals.

The Food Laboratory tested samples of cat food received from a toxicologist at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University. The samples were found to contain the rodenticide at levels of at least 40 parts per million.

Commissioner Hooker stated, “We are pleased that the expertise of our New York State Food Laboratory was able to contribute to identifying the agent that caused numerous illnesses and deaths in dogs and cats across the nation.”

The press release suggests Aminopterin, a derivative of folic acid, can cause cancer and birth defects in humans and can cause kidney damage in dogs and cats. Aminopterin is not permitted for use in the United States.

The New York State Food Laboratory is part of the Federal Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and as such, is capable of running a number of unique poison/toxin tests on food, including the test that identified Aminopterin.

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Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students/LA-ND

See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list and for an alphabetically arranged listing of schools.

Due to the damage by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding, a number of colleges and universities in the New Orleans metropolitan area will not be able to hold classes for the fall 2005 semester. It is estimated that 75,000 to 100,000 students have been displaced. [1]. In response, institutions across the United States and Canada are offering late registration for displaced students so that their academic progress is not unduly delayed. Some are offering free or reduced admission to displaced students. At some universities, especially state universities, this offer is limited to residents of the area.

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