Canada’s Scarborough East (Ward 43) city council candidates speak

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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Scarborough East (Ward 43). One candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Paul Ainslie, Amarjeet Chhabra, Mujeeb Khan, Glenn Kitchen, John Laforet, Abdul Patel, Jim Robb, and Kumar Sethi.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

England: Multi-storey carpark in Liverpool gutted by fire, 1,300 vehicles destroyed

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

A fire on Sunday night in the seven-storey carpark for the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England destroyed almost all the vehicles parked inside and led to cancellation of the final evening of the Liverpool International Horse Show and evacuation of nearby blocks of flats. The blaze reportedly started with a parked Range Rover Discovery.

Investigators with the fire brigade stated that they believe the fire began with an accidental engine fire in the Range Rover at about 4.30 pm. The first call was made at 4.42 and firefighters arrived eight minutes after that. Ultimately twelve engines and 85 firefighters were involved in combatting the blaze. Aerial appliances were used and also three high-volume pumps. Fed by the fuel in vehicles parked inside, the temperature of the fire in the carpark is believed to have reached as high as 1,000°C. It was too hot to be extinguished with water from hydrants, so a high-volume pump was used to draw water from the River Mersey, and two more were brought from other fire brigades in the region.

The carpark has seven storeys and a capacity of 1,600 vehicles, and approximately 1,300 were parked in it when the fire broke out. According to Dan Stephens, chief fire officer for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, almost all of them were destroyed, with the exception of a few parked on the top level and at corners. “With these very high temperatures, you were never going to put the fire out without the whole building taking hold. The speed at which the fire spreads means you simply aren’t going to put it out,” said Stephens.

The carpark itself was severely damaged; according to Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool. It is not in danger of collapsing but will have to be demolished, which will be difficult with the many burned-out cars still inside it, Anderson told the BBC.

According to Stephens, there were no serious injuries: one woman injured her hand, and two people were treated for smoke inhalation. A spokesman for the Echo Arena also stated that all animals were safe. All horses were successfully evacuated from the carpark and then removed from the stables after smoke spread to them. Six dogs were also rescued unharmed, two on a lower level in the early stages of the fire and four that had been left in a car on the top level, freed by firefighters on Monday after the fire was put out.

The final evening of the four-day Liverpool International Horse Show had been scheduled to begin at 7.30, and had to be cancelled. Many attendees were stranded in the city on New Year’s Eve night. Merseyside police directed people to the Pullman Hotel, where Red Cross assistance was available, and the Liverpool City Council set up an assistance centre at the Lifestyles Gym. A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers has said that insurance companies will “move very quickly” to reimburse owners whose vehicles were destroyed.

Nearby blocks of flats were evacuated because of the smoke. Eyewitnesses reported hearing what they at first thought were firecrackers, then “multiple explosions”, “bangs and popping”, “the bangs of car windows exploding”. People reported leaving everything in their cars, including their cellphones, and running for their lives.

Mayor Anderson tweeted that cuts to fire services over the last two years made it significantly harder to fight the fire and might have caused it not to be controllable. He also suggested that fire safety in multi-storey carparks had not been sufficiently considered and that installing sprinklers in them might help stop future fires before they become unmanageable, in a letter to Nick Hurd, a member of Parliament.

French National assembly to approve copyright bill

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Monday, March 20, 2006

The French National Assembly is to adopt a bill, known as DADVSI (« Droits d’Auteurs et Droits Voisins de la Société de l’Information », “author’s right and related rights in the information society”), tomorrow. This bill reforms the French code of intellectual property (CPI) and other laws, mostly in order to implement the 2001 European directive on copyright.

The directive mandates legal protections of Digital rights management (DRM) measures against circumvention. DRMs are “digital locks” that prevent users from freely copying or playing contents, in order to enforce the copyright of the authors, artists, publishers and producers. The initial draft of the bill, proposed by Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, made circumvention of DRMs, or even facilitation thereof, a felony (délit), with a maximal penalty of 3 years in prison and/or a €300,000 fine as with counterfeiting. Since DRMs, circumvention and facilitations were not legally defined, it was feared that the law would effectively prevent competitors from creating players, especially based on free software, compatible with major systems such as Apple’s iPod or Microsoft’s Windows Media Player — or even to prevent the creation of any free software capable of loading files with DRM capabilities, that is, potentially most future text, audio or video file formats.

The initial draft also conserved the threat of a counterfeiting felony conviction for those exchanging copyrighted files on the Internet. This was judged to be unfairly repressive and unrealistic. In France, it is commonplace for Internet users to have broadband up to 16 megabits per second in cheaply priced (€30 a month or lower) ADSL packages, often comprising VoIP phone and television ; millions of users, especially the young, are believed to use peer-to-peer file sharing software. Lawmakers, from both the majority UMP party and the opposition, found it unwise to turn millions of citizens into potential felons. As a consequence, the Minister proposed a “gradual” scheme where mere downloading of one file would be punishable by a €38 fine, which was adopted as an amendment. It remains to be seen how the law will be enforced.

With respects to DRMs, lawmakers from both the majority UMP party, the centrist Union for French democracy and the opposition adopted amendments that make it compulsory for publishers of DRM-encumbered content to give the specifications to whomever would like to implement a compatible player. This proposal was decried by some US news sources as targeting Apple Computer’s iTunes system, tied to the iPod players. It is yet unknown, though, if these amendments would apply to companies that choose not to claim the new special protection awarded to DRMs by the law, which enable them to sue those who implement software meant to circumvent their protections.

Lawmakers also expressed concerns that the proposed law would weaken existing legal exceptions to copyright, especially the right for users to make copies of copyrighted files for private use (CPI L122-5).

The lawmaking process was quite a bumpy one. In December, lawmakers adopted a surprise amendment that would legalize peer-to-peer sharing as “private copy”, much to the dismay of the Minister of Culture. The amendment, proposed by a bipartisan coalition of majority UMP and opposition lawmakers, was the first in a series that would have established a system known as the “global license” through which Internet users would have paid a flat fee in exchange for an authorization to use peer-to-peer services. The fees collected would be redistributed to authors and performers. In March, the Minister tried to withdraw article 1 of the law, which was the one that was amended to his dislike, but the next day he had to reintroduce it because withdrawing it may have been unconstitutional. The Assembly then voted the article down and adopted an Article 1 “bis”, essentially an amended version of article 1 without the legalization of peer-to-peer sharing.

The law, initially presented as an uncontroversial, technical text, soon became a hot topic. Some lawmakers, both from the opposition and the majority, decried intense lobbying by the entertainment industry. Some amendments were nicknamed the “Vivendi Universal amendment”, from the name of a major entertainment company that some lawmakers and commentators claim has inspired them. UMP lawmakers such as Bernard Carayon denounced pressures and even blackmail from some powerful lobbies.

The Assembly will very probably adopt the bill on March 21, despite the opposition of some UMP, UDF and opposition lawmakers. The bill will then be sent to the French Senate for further amendment and approval. Since the government declared the bill to be urgent, it is probably that after examination by the Senate, the bill will be sent to a mixed Assembly/Senate commission for harmonization, then finally voted. Given that some UMP and opposition lawmakers have voiced concerns about the constitutionality of some episodes of the lawmaking process, it is likely that the bill will get sent to the Constitutional Council for constitutional review. Finally, president Jacques Chirac is likely to sign it into law.

State Farm Insurance allegedly destroying papers

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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.

Violin Strings Choosing The Right Strings For The Instrument

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Violin Strings – Choosing the Right Strings for the Instrument

by

Trisha Marie

Since no two violins are a similar, each kind of violin string will sound differently on various instruments. Determining which strings to make use of also depends upon what type of music you’re playing as different strings will provide, or detract from, the specific needs from the instrument.

For instance, there’s a vast difference in the requirements of a classical violinist and a country fiddler. There can also be great variations in the unique styles of each player, as well as the instrument being played. The responsiveness, volume, playability and sound will all vary with the kind of strings chosen.

Basically, violin strings come in three types: gut, steel core and synthetic core. Modern gut strings possess a sheep gut core and therefore are covered with silver or copper wire. Providing complex overtones combined with an abundant, warm sound, gut strings remain a well known choice with those playing earlier pieces. The drawback to with them, however, is they tend to respond to varying weather conditions and require more tuning until they are adequately stretched.

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Steel core is the violin string of choice for players of non-classical music. They offer a clearer and more direct sound with fewer overtones than gut strings. The pitch is also more stable plus they are usually more durable. Steel core violin strings are great selections for beginners because of their bright, crisp sound.

Synthetic core strings didn t arrive on the market before 1970 s. Many brands of synthetic strings made of nylon and other composite materials make their way onto instruments since that time. These are popular simply because they provide the pleasant sound of gut string with a more stable pitch.

Another essential consideration when shopping for the right strings for your instrument and type of play is the violin string gauge. Various thicknesses and tensions can be found in most string brands and the various gauges will determine the type of sound you produce. A thicker string will produce greater volume and center tone, while a thinner string will give you a shorter, crisper sound.

If you are new at altering your violin s strings then purchasing them in a music store may be so as at first. Most stores usually provide free string change in a purchase package, although strings in a music store are usually very costly because of inventory along with other expenses.

If you’re confident with altering your own strings, or know someone who changes them for you, then you definitely should shop around online where violin strings are available much cheaper. Make sure to factor in the shipping expense when you compare violin string prices from various sources.

Trisha Marie is an expert writer and has a passion for music.

Dominant Violin Strings

are a good string for paid musicians and students alike. We also have a vast collection of

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PlayStation 3 will be used to help cure cancer and Alzheimer’s

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Monday, August 28, 2006

The upcoming Sony PlayStation 3 game console is going to assist scientists in finding cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease using the Folding@home distributed computing program.

Folding@home is run by the Pande group of Stanford University (America) to research protein folding, this is the process whereby proteins build themselves inside the cells in the body. Analyisis of how proteins fold (specifically how the folding goes wrong) can give insights into how diseases form. The simulation processes used in the research take months just for a single protein so the data is split into small packets (called workunits by the community) and distributed to volunteers around the world. By downloading a program called a ‘client’ users can receive units and perform the simulations on them – results are then sent back to the Stanford servers.

Currently more than 150,000 computers run the folding ‘client’ worldwide. The new client can be downloaded to the users PlayStation 3 console and will then begin to calculate “work units” when users are not playing games. Since the PS3 has a ‘Cell’ processor with a total of 8 cores the calculations should be performed faster than on a PC. With this new program scientists aim to create a super computer faster than IBM‘s BlueGene/L System (which currently calculates more than 280.6 trillion bits of information per second). The new calculations are expected to process a thousand trillion bits of information across the whole project every second.

A statement on Folding@home’s website explained further: “Using the Cell processor of the PS3, we should be able to do more folding than what one could do on a PC. Also, since the PS3 has a powerful GPU, the PS3 client will offer real time visualization for the first time.”

The new program is part of an expansion of the project and the first of 2 new clients that have been developed. The second, scheduled for release later on, will utilise a computer’s graphics card (supporting only ATI graphics cards at first) to perform folding calcualtions.

“We will release more details on all of this as the new software rolls out,” said the statement, “We are beta testing the ATI GPU client software internally at the moment and will likely announce an open beta in four to five weeks (end of September).”

The Pande group noted their ultimate aim as being to create an even faster super computer, with the ability to process over a million trillion bits of data every second: “The PS3 client and GPU client are together part of our new broader goals to push Folding@Home to the next stage, reaching calculations on the petaflop to 10 petaflop scale.”

The PS3 client is expected to be available at the end of September.

Israel Journal: The Holy Land has an image problem

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone is currently, courtesy of the Israeli government and friends, visiting Israel. This is a first-hand account of his experiences and may — as a result — not fully comply with Wikinews’ neutrality policy. Please note this is a journalism experiment for Wikinews and put constructive criticism on the collaboration page.

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

At 70 miles per hour halfway to Kennedy Airport the scent of alcohol filled the back of the cab when the driver turned around and said, “There is no traffic. It is good. Quick.” It was fitting. Up to that point I sat staring out the window thinking about all the warnings my family and friends gave me about taking care of my safety in Israel. Although I have traveled a good deal and never found a place I visited to be as it was depicted in the American media–Cuba is nothing like it is portrayed–the intonations to steer clear of pizza parlors and buses weighed on me. “Whatever you do, David, don’t go to Gaza or take a bus! Don’t. Go. To. Gaza,” my mother said several times, “Just, you know, there’s a war going on over there. If you see anyone praying to Allah and sweating, run!”

Until the cab driver turned around and smiled through his boozy breath, my mind had raced with thoughts of my life ending head bowed on Al-Jazeera, surrounded by gunmen forcing me to denounce my country. I thought about Gay Talese, desperate to go to Iraq, who told me he would tell “the bastards” to “go ahead, make my day” because he would die doing what he loved: working on a story. Strangely, I found solace in my drunken driver to distract me from these thoughts, and instead I thought about Carolyn Doran, the former Wikimedia COO who has caused a firestorm for the foundation when they hired her unaware that not only is she a quadruple-convicted drunk driver, but that she also shot a boyfriend.

My flight from Kennedy to Tel Aviv had the hallmarks of a caricatured bad flight: Despite my request for an aisle, I found myself in a center seat. To my right was a morbidly obese woman in a purple beret breast-feeding her baby. In the seat to my left was another infant in a baby seat, and to his left was his mother holding yet a third baby in her lap. When I woke two of the babies were suspended from the wall in what looked like airplane baby crib trampolines. Surprisingly, it was one of the better 11 hour flights I have had. All three babies slept through the entire trip and when I woke from one nap I found myself lying against what felt like memory foam, but turned out to be the obese woman, whose largess had spilled over our hapless arm rest and into my seat. It was…not unpleasant.

Upon arrival at our hotel in Tel Aviv we were given exactly ten minutes to shower and change before we had to leave to have dinner with Dr. Yossi Vardi–the father of Israeli invention, as he is known. Jimmy Wales had introduced me to him over e-mail, and I had done my research on the man who funded and sold the ICQ network. On the bus over there Stacy Perman and David Saranga spoke about how Israel is trying to brand itself today. In particular, Perman, who writes for Businessweek, mentioned a spread in Maxim Magazine that Saranga, who is in charge of media relations for the Israeli consulate in New York, was responsible for arranging. Its theme was “The Women of the Israeli Army” and featured buxom, beautiful scantily-clad Israeli girls from the armed forces. It rubbed Perman the wrong way. “The spread seemed so Lowest Common Denominator to me. What was the thinking behind that?” asked Stacy.

Saranga had no apologies for appealing to the male libido in his never-ending drive to sell Israel. “Look, I would love for Maxim’s 2.5 million readers to pick up that magazine and read about Israeli technology and our wonderful culture here. But in truth, they are not so interested in that. When we approached Maxim they asked why they should do it; after all, there are beautiful women every where. Why Israeli beautiful women? We said, ‘But Israel is the only army where women are actually fighting alongside the men.’ So they did it. Not with guns and ammunition, but just the…beautiful women of the Israeli army. When we tested how that piece worked, we found it was very, very successful.”

But what is success? The issue, Saranga explained, is Israel has an image problem. Saranga is one of the key people in the Israeli Foreign Ministry working to create a new brand name for the holy land. Indeed, one scheduled dinner for the journalists on this trip is hosted by Ido Aharoni, whose title is Head of Israel Brand Management Team. A country’s brand name is what this trip is all about. More accurately, about rebranding.

When people think of Israel, Saranga explained, they think the same things my friends and family think: it is dangerous, it is a place where you may be blown up. It is difficult to find in the American media stories that travel outside of Israeli-Palestinian-Lebanese conflict narrative. The effect, according to Saranga, has been that people do not want to come to Israel. It is too dangerous and even if safety is not an issue, it does not look like a fun place to go. According to the test research the Israeli government has conducted, people see Israel as a place that is deeply religious–it is, after all, a Jewish state–and besides holy sites such as the Temple Mount and retracing the steps of Jesus Christ, most secular American thrill seekers think there is little for them to do.

In reality, Israel is a multi-dimensional and pluralistic society with a large Arab—the majority of whom identify themselves as Palestinian—population in one of the most stable democracies in the Middle East. This trip, however, is mostly modeled to show the technology journalists what is by any measure one of the most thriving centers of innovation in the world. What we won’t see is Israel’s Arab side. When I suggested to Saranga that I would like to venture to the Jaffa Market, Tel Aviv’s thriving Arab bazaar, he looked at me perplexed, “Why would you want to go there?!” When I replied that it would be a good place to look for things to buy people back home, he still did not see why I would choose to go there. It was only when I mentioned it would also be good for photography–another purpose for this trip–did he say, “Well, that’s true. I suppose it has color.”

At dinner Dr. Yossi Vardi discussed the future of Israeli technology and pointed out that after California and Boston, Israel attracts the highest amount of venture capital incubator dollars in the world. After his speech, he turned to me with what the standard complaints I hear about Wikipedia; namely, that it is not always accurate and it is arbitrary in how it decides what is notable (in particular, the article on a product he is financing, Fring, has been deleted five times, he said, despite being a market leader). “How do you decide what is right and what is notable?” asked Vardi.

It was the same question raised by the Haaretz reporter when he interviewed me later that night for an article about my trip. With both Vardi and Haaretz I brought up the on-going Santa Claus battle on Wikipedia, in which I was heavily involved. Several editors do not want us to point out that Santa Claus is not real (think of the children!) or, absent outright supporting the myth, that we should hide he is made up. The problem is that Wikipedia is not responsible for supporting cultural myths, but to explain them.

“But I believe in Santa Claus” replied Vardi. “Who are you to say he is not real?” It is a question that was raised in the Santa talk page discussion, and a difficult challenge to answer. And like the pro-Santa editors on the Santa Claus discussion, Vardi asked “What about God? Can you say that God does not exist?” But are Santa and God really the same beyond an academic philosophical discussion, I replied. God is typically taught to explain aspects of the world around us that we can not explain ourselves through our knowledge and technology. Santa, on the other hand, is a story parents know to be false. They tell their children to believe in something and then make an elaborate effort to support something they know is not true (milk and cookies consumed; gifts given by Santa; Father Christmas tracked on the Air Force website). Eventually, the time comes when parents reveal to their children that he never existed; it was them all along eating those cookies.

“But perception,” Dr. Vardi responded, “is reality. So who are you to say? It is the question of the tree falling in the woods and whether anyone hears it.” I responded that to take knowledge to such academic and philosophical realms is fine for spirited dinner conversation, but useless when trying to engage in practical pursuits. “After all, Dr. Vardi, how would you ever solve an engineering problem if all it takes for reality to be formed is to believe something to be true? You must come across many people who believe fervently that products they are developing will be successful; do you invest based upon their beliefs? The question is always whether a tree falling makes a sound. The question is never framed as, ‘Has the tree fallen?’ It’s a given.”

Cnaan Liphshiz, the Haaretz reporter, relayed similar concerns about Wikipedia as Vardi, although less philosophical. Are we a reliable source of information? “The short answer is no,” I said. He looked at me surprised “The problem with such a question is not whether Wikipedia is reliable, but is any one source of information reliable? Studies continually show that Wikipedia is reliable at redacting information and presenting what others say to be true. But are our sources right? No person should rely upon one source for anything. They should seek several sources to form an opinion. Does Wikipedia do a better job of presenting several opinions than The New York Times or Fox News? Yes, I believe they do.”

My presence on this trip, I offered Haaretz, raised the interesting question that Web 2.0 presents: how did the Israeli foreign ministry decide on David Shankbone to report for Wikinews and Wikipedia on this trip? 25% of the answer lies in my accreditation with Wikinews and that I am able to be an original source of reporting. But 75% of the reason rests upon my contributions to Wikimedia projects, which made me stand out over other contributors. Between my photography and my interviews, I have done high profile projects on Wikipedia and its sister projects. So can other commoners like me take off to Israel when we make worthwhile contributions to high-profile Web 2.0 sites like Wikipedia? Maybe. The challenge for firms, governments and organizations today is to figure out who amongst a morass of disparate and sometimes bizarre user names can actually produce substantive work. The answer is that those who want to contribute information to the public sphere need to expend time to find who out there in Web 2.0 is worth contacting, and whether people in Web 2.0 can even do anything for them. This is the same advice I gave the Rubenstein Public Relations company (who manages PR for the Tribeca Film Festival), which is how the Israelis found me.

On a trip like this, what are the Israelis’ goals for Wikimedia? For David Saranga, it goes back to the rebranding of Israel. They simply want people to highlight aspects of their country that do not involve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hence, we are here to look at Israel’s technology sector in a head-spinning array of meetings. This made Wikipedia and Wikinews, influential sources of information that attempt to present the world as it is, an attractive option. “The fact is, there is so much going on in Israel today that nobody knows about because the media does not write stories about Israel outside of the conflict,” said Saranga. The opportunity to have someone from the Internet’s major encyclopedia visit the Weizmann Institute, the Technion and some of the holy sites was golden for them. Just don’t go to the Arab parts and whatever you do, don’t go to Gaza.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

Car bomb explodes near MI5 army base in Northern Ireland

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Monday, April 12, 2010

A car bomb has exploded outside an army base in Northern Ireland that is the headquarters for MI5 domestic security services. The attack has been claimed by dissidents from the Real Irish Republican Army, a more radical splinter group of the IRA.

According to police, Real IRA members hijacked a vehicle from a taxi driver in Belfast; Al Jazeera reports it was commandeered at gunpoint. A bomb was planted in the car, which was then driven to the rear of the Palace Barracks.

The explosion comes several hours before the Northern Ireland Assembly was scheduled to appoint its first justice minister, and only minutes after the Belfast power-sharing administration regained control over justice and policing in the province for the first time in nearly four decades.

An Ulster Unionist member of the Belfast Policing Board, Basil McCrea, commented on the explosion, saying: “It’s obviously people trying to make a statement about the transfer of policing and justice powers. We are going to have to expect more of this over the next period of time […] There will be people who will try to disrupt the process,” as quoted by the BBC.

He commented that he believed the incident was a “one-off” occurrence, and said he tried to reassure concerned locals in the area.

Police said IRA dissidents held a Belfast taxi driver at gunpoint in his home and used his vehicle to carry the bomb to the rear of Palace Barracks. Witnesses report hearing an explosion shortly after midnight local time; Al Jazeera puts the precise time of the detonation at 00.24 local time (23.24 UTC). One man was hospitalised following the bombing, although there are no reports of deaths.

According to a local journalist, security has cordoned off the area near the explosion.

Direct Tv Reviews For 2011 And What People Are Saying This Year

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By Jason Jennnings

The Direct TV reviews for 2011 have been mostly unchanged from the reviews of 2010 with the exception of the loss of channels that had affected some areas. Direct TV reviews 2011 show that most customers are happy with the picture quality and the amount of channels available. Most of the negative reviews of Direct TV have to do with the loss of picture during storms or poor customer service.

For a short period Direct TV was in contract negotiations with Fox networks. Many of the reviews from that time period show customers that were dissatisfied with losing their favorite shows. These reviews were scattered across the country and appeared to affect more rural areas that urban. Direct TV reviews of this time period show many unsatisfied customers with the way that these negotiations were handled. Overwhelmingly, the Direct TV reviews gave the company very high marks in HD quality and picture. In fact, many stated that it is hard to live without HD once you have enjoyed it.

Stream direct TV reviews were mixed across the board with many wondering if this service is a scam. Stream direct TV offers the opportunity to get 4500 channels for as low as $49.95, which is a onetime payment. This company offers the chance to never pay monthly cable bills again. Since Stream Direct TV comes in through your internet your picture quality is highly dependent on your internet quality. In rural areas the picture quality may be low if you do not have access to high speed internet.

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Stream Direct TV offers a chance to get access to a lot of channels for less than many pay for an individual month of other cable services. Stream Direct TV has been around for over 7 years and has a good history. Stream Direct TV reviews shows consistent quality of picture and service that is not weather affected. This may allow more access to TV without having to go scrap the snow off the dish. The bottom line is that it is a scam.

The Direct TV reviews 2011 clearly shows a consistent pattern with Direct TV for offering quality TV that offers you exceptional HD services with many channels to chose from. The downfalls of Direct TV seem to be standard to any satellite TV service, slow channel changing and TV reception that goes out when the weather gets bad. Satellite TV in general is getting more popular for those who do not want or do not have access to cable TV.

Whether you choose Direct TV or Stream Direct TV is a personnel choice. You will need to weigh these positive and negative reviews. If money is a large consideration in this choice then Direct TV may be the answer for you. Whatever you decide it is clear the Stream Direct TV offers is a scam and it should be avoided at all cost. Think about it can you really expect to pay 50 dollars for unlimited HD quality channels for life. I don’t think so and you should not be fooled by this either.

About the Author: Find more information and

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at the authors website where he has reviewed the best

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US Senator Rand Paul blocks synthetic marijuana legislation

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is the lone holdout preventing a vote on synthetic marijuana legislation in the US Senate through a procedural block that is allowed under the rules. Until Paul lifts his block, the Senate will not be able to act on legislation that has already passed the US House of Representatives last December. Wikinews has investigated the block on the legislation.

Synthetic marijuana can be sold over the counter in some places and it is commonly known by brand names, such as “K2” or “Spice”. Other types of synthetic “designer” drugs, like “bath salts”, belong to a class of substances that are in some cases legal, though they create a health hazard, because they are declared not meant for human consumption.

At issue in the legislation is the amount of chemical substances banned, the criminalization of substances, the authority of the federal versus the state government to makes those decisions, the extent to which the product is a threat or hazard to public health and safety, and the effect such a law would have on the research of these substances. All of these issues were debated in the House. Paul has made an issue of the long prison sentences for marijuana. His critics claim he is going too far by blocking legislation. Paul, a Republican who has libertarian leanings, has argued that the states should have the authority to ban drugs.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states have a ban on both synthetic cannabinoids and substituted cathinones while 39 states have a ban on synthetic cannabinoids. Rand’s home state of Kentucky bans both. But legislation is not a perfect solution; in Cass County, Michigan, four teenagers between the ages of 13 and 14 had an emergency after using synthetic marijuana, but even though Michigan bans both, police are not sure that the substances are illegal. Chemists have to conduct tests on the products.

Although Paul is framing the issue as a legal one, the medical community has turned its attention to this new phenomenon’s impact on public health and safety. In an article that appeared in the March 2012 issue of Pediatriacs, medical researchers led by Dr. Joanna Cohen analyzed the cases of three teens who were hospitalized and treated as emergencies after an incident of synthetic marijuana use. One 16-year-old girl lost her motor skills and was unresponsive yet she had an exceptionally high heart rate and abnormal blood pressure. An 18-year-old boy was extremely sweaty, had a high heart rate and was agitated. And a 16-year-old boy had a speech dysfunction, as well as symptoms of agitation and confusion. The doctors who wrote the study say people are using this product because they believe it can give them a high similar to marijuana, however, the new drug can bring on both psychological symptoms, like psychosis and paranoia, and physical ones, such as convulsions.

One out of every nine high school students has reported use of synthetic marijuana, according to Monitoring the Future released in December 2011. The annual survey can be used to spot new trends in substance use among youth and the report included synthetic marijuana for the first time in 2011.

Poison centers noticed a sharp increase in calls reporting incidents due to synthetic marijuana. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in 2010 centers nationwide took 2,906 calls for synthetic marijuana cases, but by 2011, they took 6,959 calls. The problem is noticeable to local health officials, like in Syracuse, New York, which is Senator Chuck Schumer’s state, where 120 cases were reported and one health professional called it “a significant public health concern.” New York has a ban on substituted cathinones but not synthetic canabanoids, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Although the US Drug Enforcement Agency placed five substances that fall under synthetic marijuana into Schedule I on March 1, 2011, its emergency powers only last one and a half years and its ban has not stopped other substances from being used instead. Schedule I is a running list of banned chemicals.

… let us move forward with a vote

Three of Paul’s Senate senior colleagues say Paul should drop his block. Senators Chuck Grassley, Chuck Schumer, and Amy Klobuchar are sponsoring bipartisan legislation that aims to ban synthetic marijuana as a serious health threat. The legislation is bipartisan as Grassley is a Republican , while both Schumer and Klobuchar are Democrats. Senator Schumer, in an editorial for the New York Daily News, advocated tackling synthetic marijuana at the national level rather than at the state. Schumer’s argument is that states have tried to ban the ingredients commonly found these products but the manufacturers have the flexibility to alter the ingredients to bypass the law. Schumer said the federal government needs a proactive rather than a reactive stance against drugs. “All we need is one senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, to release his block on this legislation,” wrote Schumer. “We’re urging him to do the right thing, and let us move forward with a vote.”

Before the Senate took up the issue, similar legislation had already passed in the House. The House voted 317–98 in favor of the Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011 on December 8, 2011. Pennsylvania Congressperson Charles Dent sponsored the legislation that would add ingredients found in synthetic marijuana to Schedule I. Dent’s legislation included chemicals that are not even found in the United States at this time, but he argues that synthetic marijuana is too great of a public health threat to dismiss.

Standing in opposition to the legislation, Virginia Congressperson Bobby Scott and several fellow Democrats argued Dent’s legislation was bypassing a process for the banning of drugs that was already in place and established. Scott also argued some of the substances banned by the legislation were not even present in the United States but so far only in Europe. His colleagues argued researchers would lose the ability to conduct research freely on these substances and, as Scott noted, the legislation was seeking to ban substances but without any research to back it up.

Grassley’s legislation is named for David Rozga, an Iowan who committed suicide after using synthetic marijuana. In his speech, before the Senate, Grassley said Rozga’s situation inspired him to put forward the legislation.

For some families, the issue has also become an emotional one, as they have lost a loved one. Karen Dobner, a mother from Aurora, Illinois, is blaming Senator Paul for any deaths that may still occur because he is holding up a legislative solution to a problem that she says killed her own son. When her son Max was in college, he tried a synthetic marijuana product and had a panic attack. Dobner believes the car crash that killed her son would not have happened had he not been experiencing the symptoms of the designer drug. Now Dobner keeps calling Paul’s office begging him to stop his hold.

Senator Paul’s office was contacted by both phone and email about this report but it did not respond.

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