<div class=RU486 Abortion pill hearings begin in Australia
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RU486 Abortion pill hearings begin in Australia

Friday, February 3, 2006

An Australian Senate inquiry into the abortion pill “RU486” has started public hearings in Melbourne. A controversial conscience vote on the issue to overturn laws which prohibit Australian women’s access to the drug, will be held in Federal parliament on February 9.

The Senate committee is considering a bill to remove ministerial control of the abortifacient drug Mifepristone – or RU486. Health Minister Tony Abbott says the issue of whether to allow women access to the drug “is one of principle.” Abbott, who is against abortion, insists he is the right person to control the drug’s use in Australia.

Besides its use internationally as an “abortion pill”, there may also be a small chance that it may help treat various other medical disorders including prostate cancer, breast cancer, and inoperable brain tumours amongst other conditions. Mifepristone is effectively banned in Australia, with Minister Abbott controlling whether it is made available.

The bill, sponsored by a group of female senators and MPs, would hand Mr Abbott’s powers over to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – the body that controls all other pharmaceutical drugs in Australia. The bill seeks to have the TGA determine the drug’s availability and not the Health Minister.

Democrats Leader Lyn Allison, said she was “cautiously confident” the parliament will overturn the current arrangements when the conscience vote takes place. “Those who are in favour of the bill are saying this is a choice that ought to be available to women and that on the basis of the studies that have been done overseas it is at least as safe as surgical termination,” Senator Allison said.

Reproductive Choice Australia (RCA)say that medicine is placed at the whim of politics, saying that over 80% of Australians are pro-choice. A national survey found 87% of women aged 18 to 49 support a woman’s right to choose.

RU486 is available in much of western Europe and North America, but was effectively banned in Australia under laws initiated by now-retired pro-life senator Brian Harradine.

Christine Read, medical director of family planning group FPA Health, said Misoprostol, also known as Cytotec, is across the world to invoke contractions to expel the fetus after a woman had taken RU486. “It is used extensively in obstetrics and gynaecology for termination of pregnancy and to induce labour, so it’s used in the medical management of miscarriage,” Dr Read said.

Dr Sharman Stone, said yesterday the issue was not about Misoprostol, but rather that “the TGA should make the decision about any drugs – that is its job. Any other conversations about other drugs are simply irrelevant to this argument,” Dr Stone said.

Family First senator Steve Fielding says lifting a ban on RU486 would pave the way for do-it-yourself home abortions. “RU486 is different to other drugs in that it is an abortion drug which could see do-it-yourself home abortions,” he said in a statement. “The question is, should policy be made by bureaucrats or our elected leaders?

Senator Fielding claims Australians are worried about the high number of abortions in Australia, as reflected in submissions received by the Senate committee.

On Monday the committee will move to Sydney for a final day of hearings.

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<div class=UK PM’s speechwriter awaits sentence
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UK PM’s speechwriter awaits sentence

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

An English lawyer has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. He faked a legal judgment and sent it to a father who was pleading in Taunton family court to be able to remain involved in his child’s upbringing. The lawyer, London barrister Bruce Hyman, now awaits his sentence. The judge indicated that he could receive a prison sentence. Bruce Hyman is well-known in media circles, having produced The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on BBC Radio. He also produced a series with Clive Anderson, at Above the Title Productions, called Unreliable Evidence.

The father, a former City financier, had attended a series of court hearings in order to make suitable arrangements to see his child following an acrimonious divorce. Shortly before one of these hearings he received an email, ostensibly from a self-help group to which he belonged, which had attached a Court of Appeal case that appeared favourable to an application he had made for the judge to stand down from the case. The father, who was representing himself, duly showed the case to the judge. At this point, Bruce Hyman, the lawyer representing the former wife, claimed to the judge that the case was a forgery, which indeed it turned out to be.

After confirming that the self-help group had not sent him the email, the father then embarked on some detective work his own. The fraudulent email was traced via its header to a dial-up internet connection and a phone number belonging to a shop in London. The shop was able to recover CCTV footage which showed a man sending the email from an Apple laptop. The man turned out to be Bruce Hyman.

Sentencing of Hyman is due in Bristol Crown Court on the 19th of September.

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<div class=Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control
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Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A robotic system at Stanford Medical Center was used to perform a laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery successfully with a theoretically similar rate of complications to that seen in standard operations. However, as there were only 10 people in the experimental group (and another 10 in the control group), this is not a statistically significant sample.

If this surgical procedure is as successful in large-scale studies, it may lead the way for the use of robotic surgery in even more delicate procedures, such as heart surgery. Note that this is not a fully automated system, as a human doctor controls the operation via remote control. Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is a treatment for obesity.

There were concerns that doctors, in the future, might only be trained in the remote control procedure. Ronald G. Latimer, M.D., of Santa Barbara, CA, warned “The fact that surgeons may have to open the patient or might actually need to revert to standard laparoscopic techniques demands that this basic training be a requirement before a robot is purchased. Robots do malfunction, so a backup system is imperative. We should not be seduced to buy this instrument to train surgeons if they are not able to do the primary operations themselves.”

There are precedents for just such a problem occurring. A previous “new technology”, the electrocardiogram (ECG), has lead to a lack of basic education on the older technology, the stethoscope. As a result, many heart conditions now go undiagnosed, especially in children and others who rarely undergo an ECG procedure.

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<div class=Kuwait donates US$500 million to Katrina relief efforts
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Kuwait donates US$500 million to Katrina relief efforts

Sunday, September 4, 2005

On Sunday, the country of Kuwait pledged US$500 million in oil products and other aid to United States Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. It is the single largest donation given to help the victims of hurricane Katrina.

Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah explained, “The humanitarian aid is oil products that the devastated (U.S.) states need in these circumstances, plus other humanitarian aid to lessen the devastation these three states have been subjected to.”

Al Sabah also stated that “It’s our duty as Kuwaitis to stand by our friends to lighten the humanitarian misery and as a payback for the many situations during which Washington helped us through the significant relations between the two friendly countries.” Kuwait is in fact one of the U.S.’s strongest allies in the Middle East, due to the U.S. protection of Kuwait in 1991 during the Gulf War.

Kuwait’s donation was followed by a $100 million donation from Qatar, a small, U.S. friendly peninsula jutting out into the Red Sea.

These donations were brought on as the 22 members of Arab League (based in Egypt) asked Arab countries to donate to the Katrina relief efforts, and sent their deepest condolences to the U.S.

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<div class=SpaceX delays Falcon 1 launch again
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SpaceX delays Falcon 1 launch again

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

SpaceX Corporation has postponed the launch of the maiden flight of their Falcon 1 rocket again at their Kwajalein launch facility. Although not as damaging as the previous delay on November 11, this is certainly a significant set back for Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX.

A full engine test was conducted on the rocket, and the launch pad equipment which holds the rocket on the launch pad after engine firing seemed to work as planned. This safety equipment is designed to keep the rocket from causing damage or being destroyed in the event that some equipment malfunction occurs immediately after the rocket engines start. Under similar circumstances with other rockets the entire rocket together with its payload would have been destroyed due to a computer report of malfunction.

The exact reasons for failure were not disclosed by SpaceX, but Elon Musk said on his web site, “I will post a longer update next week, after we have enough time to finish forensics of recent events and formulate next steps.”

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<div class=Andrea Muizelaar on fashion, anorexia, and life after ‘Top Model’
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Andrea Muizelaar on fashion, anorexia, and life after ‘Top Model’

Monday, November 26, 2007

In the 18 months since Andrea Muizelaar was crowned winner of the reality TV series Canada’s Next Top Model, her life has been a complete whirlwind. From working in a dollar store in her hometown of Whitby, Ontario, to modeling haute couture in Toronto, she had reached her dream of becoming a true Top Model.

But at what cost? Unknown to casual television viewers, Muizelaar had been enveloped in the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, which inevitably became too much for her to bear. She gave up modeling and moved back to Whitby, where she sought treatment for her disorder, re-entered college, and now works at a bank. Where is she now? Happy and healthy, she says.

Recently Andrea Muizelaar sat down with Wikinews reporter Mike Halterman in a candid interview that stretched to nearly two hours, as she told all about her hopes and aspirations, her battle with anorexia, and just what really happened on Canada’s Next Top Model.

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<div class=Magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia felt up and down U.S. east coast, Pentagon evacuated
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Magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia felt up and down U.S. east coast, Pentagon evacuated

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A 5.8 earthquake struck 4 miles southwest of Mineral, Virginia, 80 miles south of Washington D.C., at 1:51 p.m. EDT (17:51 UTC) and lasted for 15–30 seconds. The quake had a magnitude of 5.8 with an epicenter 27 miles (43 km) east of Charlottesville, Virginia. A 2.8 aftershock was reported at 2:46 pm EDT (18:46 UTC).

According to Twitter reports, the quake was felt inland as far as Cleveland and Toronto and along the coast from Boston to Georgia. Police sergeant James Ryan, from South Brunswick, New Jersey stated that “The 911 line is flooding with calls right now. People want to know what happened. They want to know if there was an explosion.”

The United States Capitol and The Pentagon in Arlington were evacuated, as were police headquarters and city hall in New York City. Numerous minor injuries have been reported in Washington, D.C.; however, none of them are serious. There have been confirmed reports of damage at the Washington National Cathedral and the Smithsonian Castle. The Pentagon was also damaged when a burst pipe caused flooding. The North Anna Power Station lost offsite power and had to shut down, turning to four diesel generators to maintain cooling of the facility. Both the JFK and Newark airports were briefly shut down and the control towers were evacuated. A release from Amtrak stated that trains will be operating at reduced speed, but no damage has been found on any rail lines. The Washington Metro is also operating on reduced speed, with some stations closed down, while lines are evaluated.

In Boston, it was reported that the building at 111 Devonshire Street appeared to be leaning onto the adjacent building at 50 Milk Street, with fears that it could collapse. The street was blocked off while the Boston Fire Department investigated. However, it was determined that the buildings had always appeared like that. Nevertheless, the Boston Fire Department investigated the roof and the inside of 111 Devonshire St. After 30 minutes, the building was determined to be safe.

This is the second strongest earthquake to originate in Virginia since records have been kept, after the one recorded on May 31, 1897, near Giles County, which was estimated at a magnitude of 5.9.

The Dow initially dropped 50 points after the earthquake struck, but later increased over 100 points.

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The Pentagon was evacuated moments after a 5.8 earthquake was felt throughout the US east cost. Image: U.S. Navy.

A crowd of evacuated businesspeople on Wall Street in New York City. Image: Alec Tabak.

Federal employees evacuated buildings at 13th and C Streets in Washington, D.C.Image: US Department of Agriculture.
The office of the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, D.C. was also evacuated.Image: Antonio Zugaldia.
Building occupants evacuate onto Market Street in Philadelphia.Image: Douglas Muth.
Damage to the Embassy of Ecuador in Washington, D.C. Image: William Neuheisel.
People gather on Vermont Avenue, outside the headquarters of the US Department of Homeland Security, in Washington, DC. Image: Tim1965.
A building in McLean, Virginia sustained some damage to its ceiling. Image: Claire Schmitt.
A crowd of evacuees in McLean, Virginia. Image: Claire Schmitt.
After the earthquake, there were concerns that 111 Devonshire St. in Boston appeared to be leaning onto the adjacent 50 Milk St with fears it may possibly collapse. It turned out the buildings have always appeared like this. Image: Patrick Mannion.
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<div class=Scientology protest group celebrates founder’s birthday worldwide
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Scientology protest group celebrates founder’s birthday worldwide

 Correction — March 19, 2008 The next protest is scheduled for April 12, 2008. The article below states April 18 which is incorrect. 

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Internet group Anonymous today held further protests critical of the Church of Scientology.

The global protests started in Australia where several hundred protesters gathered at different locations for peaceful protests.

In a global speech, the Internet protest movement said Scientology “betrayed the trust of its members, [had] taken their money, their rights, and at times their very lives.” The protesters welcomed the public interest their protests have led to, and claimed they witnessed “an unprecedented flood of Scientologists [joining] us across the world to testify about these abuses.” The group said it would continue with monthly actions.

In a press statement from its European headquarters, Scientology accused the anonymous protesters of “hate speech and hate crimes”, alleging that security measures were necessary because of death threats and bomb threats. This also makes the Church want to “identify members” of the group it brands as “cyber-terrorists”.

Wikinews had correspondents in a number of protest locations to report on the events.

Anonymous states that the next protest is scheduled to take place on April 18, which happens to be the birthday of Suri, the daughter of Tom and Katie Cruise.

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<div class=Vestas protesters sacked with immediate effect
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Vestas protesters sacked with immediate effect

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eleven of the 25 workers at the Vestas factory in Newport, Isle of Wight, England who have been carrying out a sit-in since Monday July 20 have been sacked with immediate effect.

According to one of the protesters known as “Mike”, the occupiers were given their dismissal notices concealed under slices of their evening meal of pizza. The company said that the protesters have had ample opportunity to air their point of view, and had no choice but to sack eleven of the twenty five workers that they had positively identified; and that given that the fact that the action constituted a “fundamental breach” of trust, that the eleven would not be entitled to redundancy packages. A press release from the company said that Vestas “saw no other choice than to dismiss the 11 employees, who the company has positively identified as the employees currently participating in the occupation of the factory.”

The protesters remained upbeat, vowing to continue their occupation and have called upon the UK government to save the 625 jobs and to nationalise the Danish owned factory. Occupier Ian Terry told the BBC that if the occupiers are forced out, they plan to leave the building “peacefully”.

Vestas management were dealt a setback today in ending the occupation as Newport County Court ruled that the papers accusing the occupiers of aggravate trespass and requiring they surrender the office they occupy by July 29 were improperly served. The case has been adjourned until Tuesday August 4. In court, Judge Graham White said he was “distinctly uncomfortable” with what he perceived as Vestas’ effort to “get around the rules” in retaking the factory from the occupiers.

Legal representation for the Vestas workers had been offered by Bob Crow, secretary of the RMT trade union. Crow has pledged the “full solidarity” of the RMT and seven other unions with the workers occupying the plant.

Vestas management has also been providing the occupiers with hot meals in an apparent response to Crow’s announcement, made on July 24, that the RMT was planning on airlifting food into the factory by helicopter. Crow is meeting today with Ed Miliband, the Environment Minister.

Earlier in the week, Miliband pledged £6 million in funding to an expansion of Vestas’ Isle of Wight research and development centre, which currently employs 110 workers and could, said the Minister, be expanded to employ 40 more.

Rallies continued throughout the week in support of the Vestas occupiers. Since the occupation began, the Vestas workers have received declarations of support and solidarity from a wide swathe of the British left, including but not limited to: political parties Green Party, Respect, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, the Alliance for Workers Liberty, and the Communist Party of Britain; the TUCG group, which brings together the BFAWU, FBU, NAPO, NUJ, PCS, POA, RMT, and URTU; and environmental groups Greenpeace, the Campaign against Climate Change, Climate Camp, and Workers’ Climate Action, who claims credit for initiating the campaign to occupy the factory. Attendees of the Big Green Gathering, a large annual environmentalist rally which was due to take place starting today but was suddenly canceled on Sunday, are being encouraged to go to the Isle of Wight and take part in support rallies for Vestas instead.

Speaking to Wikinews about the “redgreen” coalition supporting the occupation, a spokesman for the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty said: “We think this struggle is important on at least three grounds — it is central to the struggle for jobs, it is central to the struggle for the environment, and it is central to the struggle for rebuilding the labour movement.”

Photographs shared with Wikinews by the occupiers show the occupiers, mostly young men, talking, carrying out everyday tasks, and keeping in touch with the outside world via mobile phones. The use of mobile telephones in the Vestas occupation has given the press remarkable access to the occupiers and provided an effective platform for relaying their demands and feelings to the media. In contrast, Vestas’s designated media contact for the United Kingdom is on vacation. Attempts to reach Vestas Newport factory manager Patrick Weir, whom a Vestas representative at the company’s Danish headquarters stated was handling press inquiries regarding the occupation, received no reply.

Vestas plans to close the factory on July 31, citing the difficulties of obtaining planning permission for wind farms in the United Kingdom. All blades manufactured at Vestas’ Newport plant are sent to the United States. 1900 employees of the company in Northern Europe face job losses, 625 of them in Vestas’s plants in the south of England.

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<div class=UK Mobile Data Network Collapses
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UK Mobile Data Network Collapses

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

London, UK — The Vodafone GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) Mobile Data Network within the UK was off the air for several hours, but Vodafone staff were unable to supply any details as to how or why this had happened. The incident seems to have originated within Southern England, but spread “nationwide” within a short period.

Customers were therefore unable to access data services for a protracted period, including WAP browsing from mobile phones, email from personal devices like Blackberries and Windows Mobile Messengers, and full access over data cards from laptops.

Some criticism has been levelled at the company for failing to provide an easy source of information on the problem, with the only realistic option being to queue for a response from a call centre, as no information could be found on their public-facing website. This practice, whilst far from unique to Vodafone within the telecommunications industry, contrasts poorly with the common practice for most ISPs (Internet Service Providers), who conventionally provide a “system status” page on their website.

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.

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