Four children among six Canadians killed in Israeli attack on Lebanon
July 20, 2006

July 19, 2006

Six Canadians, including four children who were killed on Sunday by an Israeli bombardment on a house in south Labanon have been identified.

Saja Al-Akhrass (8), Zeinab Al-Akhrass (6), Ahmad Al-Akhrass (4), and Salam Al-Akhrass (11 months) were in Lebanon for a summer holiday, visiting their extended family. They were killed when their house collapsed after being struck by an Israeli bombardment. Their parents, 36-year-old Ali Al-Akhrass and his wife Amira (23) were also killed in the attack. The family were residents of Montreal.

Six others were reported wounded in the attack.

"I lost my brother, I lost my sister, my nephew, the family of my nephew, my aunt, my uncle. Oh God," said Hussain El-Akras, brother of one of the victims. He told a Montreal news conference Monday that his family were begging the government of Canada to "put pressure on Israel to stop this barbaric behaviour."

The Israeli miltary statement on the incident said "The responsibility for any civilian casualties rests entirely with the Hizbollah terrorist organization" and "The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) requested and warned residents of the area not to stay within range of the launch sites". Israel says that Hezbollah disperses its weaponry among supporters in residential neighborhoods to avoid being targeted by the much larger, better-equipped Israeli Defense Forces.



Posted by MessedRocker | 2:53 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Indian Big Brother to have ban on "hanky-panky"

July 19, 2006

Producers of India's Big Brother have said that an upcoming celebrity edition will have a ban on "hanky-panky".

A spokeswoman for Endemol India told BBC News that contestants will have to remain chaste in the Big Brother house for three months. "Participants will be told to keep their hands to themselves," she revealed. "India is a conservative society and it is not ready for the raunchy scenes that so characterise the programmes in the West," she added.

And unlike other versions of Big Brother around the World, India's version will not be transmitted live in a bid to avoid showing unpleasant scenes which may cause controversy.

It is understood that up to twelve contestants will participate in the show, which is to be televised at the end of this year. The show's producers have said they want stars from Bollywood, Indian television and cricket to live in the Big Brother compound. The managing director of Endemol India, Rajesh Kamat, said both Hindus and Muslims may be chosen, but that issues between religions would not be talked about on the programme.

India is still quite a conservative society. Close acts like kissing are never seen on TV, and only a small number of couples cohabit before marriage.

In 2006, two housemates were removed from Australia's version of Big Brother after a female contestant alleged they had sexually assaulted her.

Big Brother was created in the Netherlands in 1999 and has sold to almost seventy different countries.


Posted by MessedRocker | 2:44 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Second quake in two days strikes Indonesia

An earthquake measuring 6.3 or 6.4 (according to preliminary data) on the Richter scale hit Indonesia today, days after a larger earthquake hit the same region and triggered a tsunami and killed at least 520 people. The earthquake struck the Sunda Straits separating the islands of Sumatra and Java. There are no immediate reports of damages. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that the quake posed no risk of a tsunami, being too small in magnitude.

The US Geological Survey has reported the magnitude of the quake as 6.0.



Posted by Nathan | 2:30 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Heatwave hits the UK and Ireland

July 19, 2006

Today has seen Britain's hottest recorded July day with temperatures hitting 36.5ºC (97.7ºF) in Wisley in Surrey. Warm air from the Gulf Stream is raising the temperature, and the hot weather is causing the asphalt on some public roads to melt, requiring gritting.Some schools stayed closed on Wednesday, while others shut at lunchtime. Many school sports days have also been cancelled.

People have been advised to drink plenty of water, not go out in the midday sun and keep curtains closed to cool rooms. People have also been asked to check the most vulnerable, including the elderly, the young and the sick. The RSPCA has also told pet owners to try and keep their pets cool.

The heat wave has also hit northern France and the Netherlands, with 4 people reported dead due to heatstroke.

However, some areas aren't basking in the heat. Lerwick in the Shetland Islands is currently cloudy with fog, at only 18ºC (64ºF)

Weather forecasters have said that while the temperatures are not going to rise any further, it will get more humid as a band of showers arrive this evening, with night-time temperatures at 19ºC in London and Cardiff, 14ºC in Edinburgh and 18ºC in Dublin.


Posted by Nathan | 2:29 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Row over NZ Police memo on issuing traffic tickets

July 19, 2006

According to a leaked memorandum, sent to New Zealand Police officers in the Levin district last year, they will be penalised if they do not perform well in the issuing tickets.

The penalties for not reaching the target will be:

  • Pay deductions, 20% loss of pay
  • Loss of additional training courses or specialised duties
  • 'Named and shamed'
  • Demotion

The requirement for issuing tickets is one per hour and the requirement for catching a drunk driver is one per ten hours.

Simon Power, Law and Order spokesman for the New Zealand National Party, said "It is very disturbing that police officers are being put under internal and financial pressure to write traffic tickets. And just yesterday Annette King told me in answer to a written question that police do not receive incentives, financial or otherwise, if they issue a particular number of tickets."

Two weeks ago a different memo was leaked which showed the police officers have quotas, which the Police Minister, Annette King, dismissed.

However if police officers are performing well the Area or District Commanders will be informed which could lead to extra benefits.

The police Central District Commander, Superintendent Mark Lammas, said that there was nothing wrong with the memo as it is reasonable for officers to be told they may not receive a pay increase if they consistently fail to enforce.


Posted by MessedRocker | 2:21 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Stem cell bills passed by US House and Senate

July 19, 2006

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 (HR810), approved by the US House of Representatives in 2005, gained a 63-37 approval in the Senate on July 17th, 2006, and will now be presented for presidential approval or veto.

Bill HR810 passed by the Senate as SB471, overrides the 2001 executive order signed by George W. Bush that banned funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for embryonic stem cell research of stem cell lines created after the executive order was issued. The new bill does not include a provision against privately funded research, which is legal under the law, only research funded by NIH.

The bill includes three ethical requirements for funded research. First, the stem cells were derived from human embryos that have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics, were created for the purposes of fertility treatment, and were in excess of the clinical need of the individuals seeking such treatment. Second, prior to the consideration of embryo donation and through consultation with the individuals seeking fertility treatment, it was determined that the embryos would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded. And lastly, the individuals seeking fertility treatment donated the embryos with written informed consent and without receiving any financial or other inducements to make the donation.

President Bush is expected to veto the bill as early as today, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said the veto would be "pretty swift". [1] This would be President Bush's first veto of his two terms in office.

As with any vetoed bill, a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate can override said veto, but the original vote (63-37) show that the Senate is more than likely to not get the override votes it would need. Even without the two-thirds original vote, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan has voiced support for a veto override. [2]

Two other bills, S2754 and S3504, the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act and the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act of 2006, respectively, were failed and passed in that order by the House of Representatives. S2754 was introduced to the House this afternoon and failed by a vote of 273-154, S3504 was passed unanimously by the House and is also expected to be on the President's desk this morning.


Posted by Nathan | 2:17 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Death toll rises in Indonesian tsunami

July 19, 2006

At least 550 people are now thought to have died after a tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Java on Monday afternoon. An earthquake, which measured 7.7 on the Richter scale, triggered the two-metre-high tidal wave.

As rescuers continue to pull dead bodies from destroyed beaches, homes and hotels, Indonesia’s government has been criticised for failing to inform residents that a tsunami was imminent.

After the underwater earthquake erupted, Japanese and US agencies issued tsunami alerts for parts of Indonesia and Australia, but the Indonesian government has admitted it was unable to pass warnings on to coastal areas like the small town of Pangandaran which was worst-hit. “Our system is not yet working properly. We are still developing a communication system especially for the regions,” said Fauzi, a government scientist.

In the wake of the 2004 Asian tsunami, which killed more than 130,000 people in the western province of Aceh, a warning system is being implemented there. However, Java has always been perceived as having a low tsunami threat, but Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalia said today that an early warning system will be installed on the island within three years.

Officials have said that almost all of the victims were Indonesians, but a Pakistani, a Swede and a Dutch citizen were among those who perished.

It is thought that 275 people are still missing. The army and police are searching affected areas with sniffer dogs and mechanical diggers in the hope of finding survivors. “We are looking for people who are still missing or buried under the rubble as well as clearing the debris," said Deden Rajab, an army officer.

Parents are also searching ferociously for their missing children. “The water was too strong,” said Irah as she dug through a pile of rubble with her hands in the hope of recovering her 6-year-old son. “Oh God. Eki, where are you?”

More than 50,000 people have been left homeless as a result of the devastating wave, and aftershocks are making worried residents flee to higher ground.

“People suddenly started running so I joined them,” 42 year-old Marino told the Associated Press.

Others have taken refuge in the hills since the disaster happened. “I am too scared to go down,” one elderly woman told the AFP news agency.

Earlier today, another earthquake caused buildings to shake in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, but there were no reports of injuries. Officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no new tsunami is expected.

Yesterday, survivors described the tsunami.

A Belgian tourist said he was in a beachside bar when the wave struck. "I saw this big cloud of dark sea water coming up to me," he said.

"When the waves came, I heard people screaming and then I heard something like a plane about to crash nearby, and I just ran," Uli Sutarli, a plantation worker who was on Pangandaran beach, told Reuters.

Indonesia is situated on the Pacific Rim of Fire where 90% of the world's earthquakes and 81% of the world's largest earthquakes occur.



Posted by Nathan | 2:11 AM | Permalink | 0 comments