Locally designed, low emissions car launched in Qatar

Friday, November 30, 2012

Qatari non-profit organization Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD) launched a low emissions car at the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 18) in Doha. The car was designed and developed in Qatar.

Revealed during a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Centre, the car in addition to an internal combustion engine, includes an automotive thermoelectric generator designed to capture waste heat to produce hydrogen. GORD expects the heat waste collecting system to be compatible with any gasoline or compressed natural gas car.

GORD chairman Dr Al-Horr summarised the key concepts of the invention in a statement saying, “Our car produces electricity at no cost by capturing thermal waste energy, reducing costs and eliminating the need for an external source of electricity. Also, bulky compressed-hydrogen cylinders are a thing of the past, as our concept accomplishes the production of hydrogen by using water through fuel cells integrated within the car.”

Most of the energy in Qatari vehicle comes from the the car’s gasoline tank, supplemented by a thin film photo-voltaic panel on the roof. Normally in a combustion engine, chemical energy stored in a fuel, such as gasoline, is converted into heat energy through combustion. This heat energy is then converted into mechanical energy, manifested as an increase in pressure in the combustion chamber due to the kinetic energy of the combustion gases. The kinetic energy of these combustion gases are then converted into work; because of the inefficiencies in converting chemical energy into useful work, internal combustion engines have a theoretical maximum effiecincy of 37% (with what is achievable in day to day applications being about half of this). Of the chemical energy in the consumed fuel used by an internal combustion engine 40% is dissipated as waste heat. However, the Qatari vehicle uses a thermoelectric generator to convert this waste heat into electricity. Such generators are used in space vehicles, and produce electricity when thermoelectric materials are subjected to a temperature gradient, the greater the gradient the greater the amount of electrcity produced. In the GORD vehicle the electricity produced is used to electrolyse potable water to produce hydrogen which can be introduced into the vehicle’s existing fuel system.

The researchers showed that the heat waste collection engine caused a decrease in the car’s emissions, including a decrease of carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions by more than 50%, the fuel efficiency increasing by 20%. On its website, GORD said that the heat waste collector engine is universal, “Any car can be adapted to accommodate the system as it doesn’t alter any electro-mechanical systems”.

State Farm Insurance allegedly destroying papers

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Zach Scruggs, a lawyer for United States Senator Trent Lott, says that State Farm Insurance Company is destroying records related to claims for damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The records allegedly contain information saying that State Farm fraudulently denied insurance claims made by its policy holders, including Lott, that had homes there were damaged or destroyed when Hurricane Katrina came ashore on the Gulf Coast.

Scruggs said that Lott has “good faith belief” that many employees of the insurance company in Biloxi, Mississippi are destroying engineer’s reports that were inconclusive as to whether or not water or wind was the main cause of damage to the buildings affected by the hurricane.

Lott is among thousands of home and/or business owners who had their property damaged or destroyed during the hurricane and had their claims denied because State Farm claimed that their policies don’t cover damage caused by floods or water that was driven by the wind.

State Farm has not issued a statement on the matter so far.

One killed, many boats damaged in storms on Spanish island of Majorca

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One person has been killed and dozens of boats have been severely damaged or sunk by storms on the Spanish island of Majorca.

The storms hit the island frequently last week, and the weather finally calmed on Sunday.

In San Telmo, a 62-year-old man died when he tried to save his sinking yacht. Winds of up to 60 mph were reported with gusts reaching 75 mph.

Boats could be seen sinking into the water for several days after the storm, with people unable to rescue them due to the conditions.

Local residents stated that they were the worst to hit the island, which has a large number of ports, in ten years, with the clean up effort continuing into this week.

US dog attack owner charged with involuntary manslaughter

Friday, March 25, 2005 A Spotsylvania County woman, whose three dogs allegedly attacked and killed her elderly neighbor, was freed Wednesday by posting a $10,000 bond. Dianna Large, 36, received one felony charge of involuntary manslaughter and three misdemeanor charges in an indictment issued last week.

In her first appearance before a judge, she answered Circuit Court Judge William H. Ledbetter questions with simple “Yes sir.” and “No sir.” responses. The short hearing, held Thursday, formalized the charges against her. The involuntary manslaughter charge, a first in the severity of punishment being sought on a dog owner in the Virginan state of USA, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.

State procecutor Wiliam Neely said that Large knowingly let her three Pit Bull dogs run free, and that an animal control agency person had warned her to keep them under better control. She also a violated a county ordinance requiring owners of dangerous dogs to post a warning sign to visitors. The prosecution also noted that none of the three male dogs were neutered.

The Animal Control Department of Virginia maintains a dangerous dog registry. It contains a list of owners whose dogs are deemed dangerous to society. The link to the registry was moved to a more prominent position on the county web page following the attack.

National Museum of Scotland reopens after three-year redevelopment

Friday, July 29, 2011

Today sees the reopening of the National Museum of Scotland following a three-year renovation costing £47.4 million (US$ 77.3 million). Edinburgh’s Chambers Street was closed to traffic for the morning, with the 10am reopening by eleven-year-old Bryony Hare, who took her first steps in the museum, and won a competition organised by the local Evening News paper to be a VIP guest at the event. Prior to the opening, Wikinews toured the renovated museum, viewing the new galleries, and some of the 8,000 objects inside.

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Dressed in Victorian attire, Scottish broadcaster Grant Stott acted as master of ceremonies over festivities starting shortly after 9am. The packed street cheered an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex created by Millenium FX; onlookers were entertained with a twenty-minute performance by the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers on the steps of the museum; then, following Bryony Hare knocking three times on the original doors to ask that the museum be opened, the ceremony was heralded with a specially composed fanfare – played on a replica of the museum’s 2,000-year-old carnyx Celtic war-horn. During the fanfare, two abseilers unfurled white pennons down either side of the original entrance.

The completion of the opening to the public was marked with Chinese firecrackers, and fireworks, being set off on the museum roof. As the public crowded into the museum, the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers resumed their performance; a street theatre group mingled with the large crowd, and the animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex entertained the thinning crowd of onlookers in the centre of the street.

On Wednesday, the museum welcomed the world’s press for an in depth preview of the new visitor experience. Wikinews was represented by Brian McNeil, who is also Wikimedia UK’s interim liaison with Museum Galleries Scotland.

The new pavement-level Entrance Hall saw journalists mingle with curators. The director, Gordon Rintoul, introduced presentations by Gareth Hoskins and Ralph Applebaum, respective heads of the Architects and Building Design Team; and, the designers responsible for the rejuvenation of the museum.

Describing himself as a “local lad”, Hoskins reminisced about his grandfather regularly bringing him to the museum, and pushing all the buttons on the numerous interactive exhibits throughout the museum. Describing the nearly 150-year-old museum as having become “a little tired”, and a place “only visited on a rainy day”, he commented that many international visitors to Edinburgh did not realise that the building was a public space; explaining the focus was to improve access to the museum – hence the opening of street-level access – and, to “transform the complex”, focus on “opening up the building”, and “creating a number of new spaces […] that would improve facilities and really make this an experience for 21st century museum visitors”.

Hoskins explained that a “rabbit warren” of storage spaces were cleared out to provide street-level access to the museum; the floor in this “crypt-like” space being lowered by 1.5 metres to achieve this goal. Then Hoskins handed over to Applebaum, who expressed his delight to be present at the reopening.

Applebaum commented that one of his first encounters with the museum was seeing “struggling young mothers with two kids in strollers making their way up the steps”, expressing his pleasure at this being made a thing of the past. Applebaum explained that the Victorian age saw the opening of museums for public access, with the National Museum’s earlier incarnation being the “College Museum” – a “first window into this museum’s collection”.

Have you any photos of the museum, or its exhibits?

The museum itself is physically connected to the University of Edinburgh’s old college via a bridge which allowed students to move between the two buildings.

Applebaum explained that the museum will, now redeveloped, be used as a social space, with gatherings held in the Grand Gallery, “turning the museum into a social convening space mixed with knowledge”. Continuing, he praised the collections, saying they are “cultural assets [… Scotland is] turning those into real cultural capital”, and the museum is, and museums in general are, providing a sense of “social pride”.

McNeil joined the yellow group on a guided tour round the museum with one of the staff. Climbing the stairs at the rear of the Entrance Hall, the foot of the Window on the World exhibit, the group gained a first chance to see the restored Grand Gallery. This space is flooded with light from the glass ceiling three floors above, supported by 40 cast-iron columns. As may disappoint some visitors, the fish ponds have been removed; these were not an original feature, but originally installed in the 1960s – supposedly to humidify the museum; and failing in this regard. But, several curators joked that they attracted attention as “the only thing that moved” in the museum.

The museum’s original architect was Captain Francis Fowke, also responsible for the design of London’s Royal Albert Hall; his design for the then-Industrial Museum apparently inspired by Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace.

The group moved from the Grand Gallery into the Discoveries Gallery to the south side of the museum. The old red staircase is gone, and the Millennium Clock stands to the right of a newly-installed escalator, giving easier access to the upper galleries than the original staircases at each end of the Grand Gallery. Two glass elevators have also been installed, flanking the opening into the Discoveries Gallery and, providing disabled access from top-to-bottom of the museum.

The National Museum of Scotland’s origins can be traced back to 1780 when the 11th Earl of Buchan, David Stuart Erskine, formed the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; the Society being tasked with the collection and preservation of archaeological artefacts for Scotland. In 1858, control of this was passed to the government of the day and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland came into being. Items in the collection at that time were housed at various locations around the city.

On Wednesday, October 28, 1861, during a royal visit to Edinburgh by Queen Victoria, Prince-Consort Albert laid the foundation-stone for what was then intended to be the Industrial Museum. Nearly five years later, it was the second son of Victoria and Albert, Prince Alfred, the then-Duke of Edinburgh, who opened the building which was then known as the Scottish Museum of Science and Art. A full-page feature, published in the following Monday’s issue of The Scotsman covered the history leading up to the opening of the museum, those who had championed its establishment, the building of the collection which it was to house, and Edinburgh University’s donation of their Natural History collection to augment the exhibits put on public display.

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Selection of views of the Grand GalleryImage: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand GalleryImage: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand GalleryImage: Brian McNeil.

Closed for a little over three years, today’s reopening of the museum is seen as the “centrepiece” of National Museums Scotland’s fifteen-year plan to dramatically improve accessibility and better present their collections. Sir Andrew Grossard, chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “The reopening of the National Museum of Scotland, on time and within budget is a tremendous achievement […] Our collections tell great stories about the world, how Scots saw that world, and the disproportionate impact they had upon it. The intellectual and collecting impact of the Scottish diaspora has been profound. It is an inspiring story which has captured the imagination of our many supporters who have helped us achieve our aspirations and to whom we are profoundly grateful.

The extensive work, carried out with a view to expand publicly accessible space and display more of the museums collections, carried a £47.4 million pricetag. This was jointly funded with £16 million from the Scottish Government, and £17.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Further funds towards the work came from private sources and totalled £13.6 million. Subsequent development, as part of the longer-term £70 million “Masterplan”, is expected to be completed by 2020 and see an additional eleven galleries opened.

The funding by the Scottish Government can be seen as a ‘canny‘ investment; a report commissioned by National Museums Scotland, and produced by consultancy firm Biggar Economics, suggest the work carried out could be worth £58.1 million per year, compared with an estimated value to the economy of £48.8 prior to the 2008 closure. Visitor figures are expected to rise by over 20%; use of function facilities are predicted to increase, alongside other increases in local hospitality-sector spending.

Proudly commenting on the Scottish Government’s involvement Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, described the reopening as, “one of the nation’s cultural highlights of 2011” and says the rejuvenated museum is, “[a] must-see attraction for local and international visitors alike“. Continuing to extol the museum’s virtues, Hyslop states that it “promotes the best of Scotland and our contributions to the world.

So-far, the work carried out is estimated to have increased the public space within the museum complex by 50%. Street-level storage rooms, never before seen by the public, have been transformed into new exhibit space, and pavement-level access to the buildings provided which include a new set of visitor facilities. Architectural firm Gareth Hoskins have retained the original Grand Gallery – now the first floor of the museum – described as a “birdcage” structure and originally inspired by The Crystal Palace built in Hyde Park, London for the 1851 Great Exhibition.

The centrepiece in the Grand Gallery is the “Window on the World” exhibit, which stands around 20 metres tall and is currently one of the largest installations in any UK museum. This showcases numerous items from the museum’s collections, rising through four storeys in the centre of the museum. Alexander Hayward, the museums Keeper of Science and Technology, challenged attending journalists to imagine installing “teapots at thirty feet”.

The redeveloped museum includes the opening of sixteen brand new galleries. Housed within, are over 8,000 objects, only 20% of which have been previously seen.

  • Ground floor
  • First floor
  • Second floor
  • Top floor

The Window on the World rises through the four floors of the museum and contains over 800 objects. This includes a gyrocopter from the 1930s, the world’s largest scrimshaw – made from the jaws of a sperm whale which the University of Edinburgh requested for their collection, a number of Buddha figures, spearheads, antique tools, an old gramophone and record, a selection of old local signage, and a girder from the doomed Tay Bridge.

The arrangement of galleries around the Grand Gallery’s “birdcage” structure is organised into themes across multiple floors. The World Cultures Galleries allow visitors to explore the culture of the entire planet; Living Lands explains the ways in which our natural environment influences the way we live our lives, and the beliefs that grow out of the places we live – from the Arctic cold of North America to Australia’s deserts.

The adjacent Patterns of Life gallery shows objects ranging from the everyday, to the unusual from all over the world. The functions different objects serve at different periods in peoples’ lives are explored, and complement the contents of the Living Lands gallery.

Performance & Lives houses musical instruments from around the world, alongside masks and costumes; both rooted in long-established traditions and rituals, this displayed alongside contemporary items showing the interpretation of tradition by contemporary artists and instrument-creators.

The museum proudly bills the Facing the Sea gallery as the only one in the UK which is specifically based on the cultures of the South Pacific. It explores the rich diversity of the communities in the region, how the sea shapes the islanders’ lives – describing how their lives are shaped as much by the sea as the land.

Both the Facing the Sea and Performance & Lives galleries are on the second floor, next to the new exhibition shop and foyer which leads to one of the new exhibition galleries, expected to house the visiting Amazing Mummies exhibit in February, coming from Leiden in the Netherlands.

The Inspired by Nature, Artistic Legacies, and Traditions in Sculpture galleries take up most of the east side of the upper floor of the museum. The latter of these shows the sculptors from diverse cultures have, through history, explored the possibilities in expressing oneself using metal, wood, or stone. The Inspired by Nature gallery shows how many artists, including contemporary ones, draw their influence from the world around us – often commenting on our own human impact on that natural world.

Contrastingly, the Artistic Legacies gallery compares more traditional art and the work of modern artists. The displayed exhibits attempt to show how people, in creating specific art objects, attempt to illustrate the human spirit, the cultures they are familiar with, and the imaginative input of the objects’ creators.

The easternmost side of the museum, adjacent to Edinburgh University’s Old College, will bring back memories for many regular visitors to the museum; but, with an extensive array of new items. The museum’s dedicated taxidermy staff have produced a wide variety of fresh examples from the natural world.

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At ground level, the Animal World and Wildlife Panorama’s most imposing exhibit is probably the lifesize reproduction of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. This rubs shoulders with other examples from around the world, including one of a pair of elephants. The on-display elephant could not be removed whilst renovation work was underway, and lurked in a corner of the gallery as work went on around it.

Above, in the Animal Senses gallery, are examples of how we experience the world through our senses, and contrasting examples of wildly differing senses, or extremes of such, present in the natural world. This gallery also has giant screens, suspended in the free space, which show footage ranging from the most tranquil and peaceful life in the sea to the tooth-and-claw bloody savagery of nature.

The Survival gallery gives visitors a look into the ever-ongoing nature of evolution; the causes of some species dying out while others thrive, and the ability of any species to adapt as a method of avoiding extinction.

Earth in Space puts our place in the universe in perspective. Housing Europe’s oldest surviving Astrolabe, dating from the eleventh century, this gallery gives an opportunity to see the technology invented to allow us to look into the big questions about what lies beyond Earth, and probe the origins of the universe and life.

In contrast, the Restless Earth gallery shows examples of the rocks and minerals formed through geological processes here on earth. The continual processes of the planet are explored alongside their impact on human life. An impressive collection of geological specimens are complemented with educational multimedia presentations.

Beyond working on new galleries, and the main redevelopment, the transformation team have revamped galleries that will be familiar to regular past visitors to the museum.

Formerly known as the Ivy Wu Gallery of East Asian Art, the Looking East gallery showcases National Museums Scotland’s extensive collection of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese material. The gallery’s creation was originally sponsored by Sir Gordon Wu, and named after his wife Ivy. It contains items from the last dynasty, the Manchu, and examples of traditional ceramic work. Japan is represented through artefacts from ordinary people’s lives, expositions on the role of the Samurai, and early trade with the West. Korean objects also show the country’s ceramic work, clothing, and traditional accessories used, and worn, by the indigenous people.

The Ancient Egypt gallery has always been a favourite of visitors to the museum. A great many of the exhibits in this space were returned to Scotland from late 19th century excavations; and, are arranged to take visitors through the rituals, and objects associated with, life, death, and the afterlife, as viewed from an Egyptian perspective.

The Art and Industry and European Styles galleries, respectively, show how designs are arrived at and turned into manufactured objects, and the evolution of European style – financed and sponsored by a wide range of artists and patrons. A large number of the objects on display, often purchased or commissioned, by Scots, are now on display for the first time ever.

Shaping our World encourages visitors to take a fresh look at technological objects developed over the last 200 years, many of which are so integrated into our lives that they are taken for granted. Radio, transportation, and modern medicines are covered, with a retrospective on the people who developed many of the items we rely on daily.

What was known as the Museum of Scotland, a modern addition to the classical Victorian-era museum, is now known as the Scottish Galleries following the renovation of the main building.

This dedicated newer wing to the now-integrated National Museum of Scotland covers the history of Scotland from a time before there were people living in the country. The geological timescale is covered in the Beginnings gallery, showing continents arranging themselves into what people today see as familiar outlines on modern-day maps.

Just next door, the history of the earliest occupants of Scotland are on display; hunters and gatherers from around 4,000 B.C give way to farmers in the Early People exhibits.

The Kingdom of the Scots follows Scotland becoming a recognisable nation, and a kingdom ruled over by the Stewart dynasty. Moving closer to modern-times, the Scotland Transformed gallery looks at the country’s history post-union in 1707.

Industry and Empire showcases Scotland’s significant place in the world as a source of heavy engineering work in the form of rail engineering and shipbuilding – key components in the building of the British Empire. Naturally, whisky was another globally-recognised export introduced to the world during empire-building.

Lastly, Scotland: A Changing Nation collects less-tangible items, including personal accounts, from the country’s journey through the 20th century; the social history of Scots, and progress towards being a multicultural nation, is explored through heavy use of multimedia exhibits.

Donald Trump elected US president

Friday, November 11, 2016

On Tuesday, Republican Donald Trump won the 2016 United States presidential election. Republicans also kept control of both houses of Congress. Trump is to take the presidential oath in January.

Trump won at least 290 electoral votes, while Clinton won 228, according to the AP (Associated Press) — 270 were required vote to win the election — though Clinton won more national popular votes, 47.7% compared to Trump’s 47.4%. Trump won the crucial electoral votes of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. The electors of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had not supported a Republican presidential nominee for more than a quarter century, but in this election between them they provided Trump 30 electoral votes.

According to law, the citizens vote for an elector in the state who promises to vote for a particular candidate. In most states, the candidate who wins most votes in a state wins all electors of the state. Different states have varying numbers of electors, which depend on the state’s population. Since there are 538 electors in the US, one needs to win an absolute majority of the electors, that is, at least 270. Due to the electoral college, a candidate can win the presidential election even if he/she receives lesser national popular vote.

In her concession speech on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton said, “We owe him [Donald Trump] an open mind and a chance to lead.” Clinton also said, “We’ve spent a year and a half, bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that We believe that the American Dream is big enough for everyone, for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities; for everyone.”

President Barack Obama had called Trump “uniquely unqualified” during the election campaign, but, after the president-elect victory of Trump, Obama met him in the White House yesterday and said, “My number one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our president-elect is successful.” After the meeting, Trump tweeted, “A fantastic day in D.C. Met with President Obama for first time. Really good meeting, great chemistry. Melania liked Mrs. O [Michelle Obama] a lot!”

Following the unexpected result of the election, people protested in various US cities, often chanting “Not my president”. On Wednesday, more than 60 people were arrested in New York, and a crowd blocked the entrance of Chicago’s Trump Tower. Lily Morton, a 17-year-old student protester, said yesterday, “This generation deserves better than Donald Trump […] The queer people, colored people, women, girls, everyone that is going to be affected by this, we need to protest to help them. There is still love in this country.”

During the voting, huge traffic on the Canadian immigration website resulted in a site crash, officials said. Justin Trudeau tweeted, “I’ve just spoken with President-elect Trump – and we agreed to meet soon to keep building the Canada-US relationship.” ((fr)) French language: Je viens de parler au président élu Trump; nous avons convenu de nous rencontrer bientôt pour continuer à bâtir la relation Canada-É. U.

Last year, after the Paris attack in November, Trump commented on Muslims saying, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” He also said, “our country can not be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad.” But after winning the president-elect, the statement on Trump’s website was removed, and it redirected to the donation page.

Trump partisans defended Trump saying those proposed actions were to insure safety rather than targeting any religion. Though the statement disappeared from the web site, various defences of it are still there.

Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto congratulated Donald Trump and tweeted, “I congratulate the US on its electoral process and reiterate to @realDonaldTrump [Donald Trump] our willingness to work together for our bilateral relationship.” ((es)) Spanish language: Felicito a EUA por su proceso electoral y le reitero a @realDonaldTrump [Donald Trump] la disposición de trabajar juntos en favor de la relación bilateral. . Mexican currency, the peso, dropped 13% in value as Trump won. Trump had proposed to abandon the trilateral US–Mexico–Canada NAFTA agreement (North American Free Trade Agreement) and to build a wall at the US–Mexico border. Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu said Mexico would not pay for this wall.

Previously in 2016, Mexico reinforced the peso three times by increasing its benchmark interest rate.

70-year-old Donald Trump will be the oldest US president to first enter the office. No woman has ever been the US president.

228 20 290
Hillary Clinton Not yet determined Donald Trump

Candidates Votes Vote share  % votes
Donald J Trump 60,072,551
47.4%
47.4%
Hillary Clinton 60,467,601
47.7%
47.7%
Other 6,180,948
4.8%
4.8%

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green Party candidate Lloyd Helferty, Thornhill

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Lloyd Helferty is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Thornhill 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.

Election in Moldova instigates rioting mob demanding recount

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Protests which began Monday escalated to a riot on Wednesday consisting of over 10,000 people in Chi?in?u, the capital of Moldova, protesting the results of Sunday’s 2009 Moldovan parliamentary election, which showed an apparent, narrow victory for the Communist Party (Partidul Comuni?tilor din Republica Moldova, PCRM). Demonstrators claim the victory was the result of electoral fraud.

The demonstration escalated to a “flash mob” of between 10,000 to 15,000 communicating via online tools like email, micro-blogging tool Twitter, and social-networking website Facebook. “We sent messages on Twitter but didn’t expect 15,000 people to join in. At the most we expected 1,000”, said Oleg Brega of the activist group Hyde Park.

Police deployed tear gas and water cannons, and fired blanks into the crowd. The rioters threw stones at the riot police and took control of the parliament building and presidential office. A bonfire was built out of parliamentary furniture and all windows below the 7th floor were broken.

Approximately one hundred protesters and 170 police officers are reported as injured. There have been conflicting reports as to whether a female protester died during the altercation.

193 protesters “have been charged with looting, hooliganism, robbery and assault,” said an Interior Ministry spokesperson. This announcement sparked another protest by those demanding the release for those detained.

There is wide speculation about who was to blame for the rioting.

President Vladimir Voronin has expelled the Romanian ambassador from Moldova, blaming Romania for the violent protests. “We know that certain political forces in Romania are behind this unrest. The Romanian flags fixed on the government buildings in Chisinau attest to this” said Voronin. “Romania is involved in everything that has happened.“ Voronin also blamed the protests on opposition leaders who used violence to seize power, and has described the event as a coup d’état.

Protesters initially insisted on a recount of the election results and are now calling for a new vote, which has been rejected by the government. Rioters were also demanding unification between Moldova and Romania. “In the air, there was a strong expectation of change, but that did not happen”, said OSCE spokesman Matti Sidoroff.

“The elections were fraudulent, there was multiple voting” accused Chi?in?u mayor Dorin Chirtoac? of the Liberal Party. “It’s impossible that every second person in Moldova voted for the Communists. However, we believe the riots were a provocation and we are now trying to reconcile the crowd. Leaders of all opposition parties are at the scene,” said Larissa Manole of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) proclaimed the PCRM to have won 61 seats in initial counts, enough to guarantee a third term in power for Voronin, who has held the position since 2001. But the Central Election Commission has received evidence of election violations, according to RIA Novosti, and upon recounts conducted of disputed polls, the commission reported that the Communists achieved 49.48% of the Moldovian vote, giving them 60 parliamentary seats — one short of the total needed to win the presidential election. “The electoral commission also granted opposition parties permission to check voter lists, fulfilling one of their chief demands,” said Yuri Ciocan, Central Election Commission secretary.

Voronin will step down in May, however his party could elect a successor with 61 parliamentary seats without any votes from outside parties as well as amend the Constitution. With the PCRM garnering 60 seats, the opposition will have a voice in the presidential election for a new successor.

The western part of Moldova was a part of Romania from the Romania’s independence until the region was detached by the USSR in 1940 to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. On independence in 1990 the country sought union with Romania but the eastern, Russian- and Ukrainian-inhabited areas of the country declared themselves independent from Moldova and formed the state of Transnistria and movement toward union was halted.

Moldova is Europe’s poorest country, where average income is less than $250 (£168) a month. The country’s neighbours are Romania and Ukraine. Romania is a European Union (EU) state.

House approves Senate amended economic stimulus package

Friday, February 8, 2008

The United States House of Representatives has passed the bipartisan US$152 billion economic stimulus package that gives one-time rebates to United States citizens, US$600 for individuals or US$1,200 for couples plus US$300 for each child. US$300 checks would be sent to people on low-income including retirees on Social Security which was not included in the original bill backed by President George W. Bush. The plan would begin to decrease rebates for citizens with taxable incomes of US$75,000 for individuals and US$150,000 for couples. The checks would go out to more than a 130 million Americans according to Treasury secretary Henry Paulson.

The House overwhelmingly approved the more broad Senate amended bill which included the low-income portion mentioned above along with provisions that would keep illegal aliens from receiving a rebate check. Despite some opposition from some Congressmen, such as John B. T. Campbell III of California’s 48th congressional district, the plan passed overwhelmingly 380–34.

Campbell called the plan “wealth redistribution” and noted it did not have safeguards to prevent illegals from receiving these rebates and also claimed that stimulus plan would increase the deficit more and noted the cause of the looming recession was because of “credit problems.”

The United States Senate voted hours earlier on the bill which passed in the Senate, 81–16. after having to shed some incentives included by Senate Democrats which caused the bill to fail. Some of the incentives that were left out of the plan in a compromise to gain Republican support were demands for benefits for long-term unemployed workers and stipulation that would allow low-income citizens to pay off heating bills and let home builders pay off losses off the current year against previous tax years.

President Bush approved of the package, noting in a statement, “This plan is robust, broad-based, timely, and it will be effective, this bill will help to stimulate consumer spending and accelerate needed business investment.”