Honda wins car, truck of the year, unveils Fit
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Honda wins car, truck of the year, unveils Fit

Monday, January 9, 2006

Honda’s Civic and Ridgeline truck won the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards at the International Auto Show in Detroit. This is the first time a company has won both awards in the same year. The finalists were the Ridgeline, the Ford Explorer SUV and the Nissan Xterra. The awards are intended to recognize vehicles for their innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction, and value.File:Ford Explorer.jpg

Honda also unveiled its latest model the Fit, a US version of the Honda Jazz sold in nonUS markets. The Fit comes with a 109 horsepower engine, antilock brakes, six air bags, fold flat seats, full iPod connectivity, 90.1 cubic feet of passenger and cargo space, and 33 mpg for the city 38 mpg for the highway. A sport package will also include Honda’s first steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The car will go against another two new Japanese subcompacts, the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and will have to wrestle away sales from the category’s current top seller Chevrolet’s Aveo.

The car will start selling in April for around $13,000 to $14,000 as a 2007 model. The company plans to sell 33,000 units of the hatchback in 2006.

Many automakers expect industry wide sales in the US to be between 16 and 17 million units. Honda, which is Japan’s third largest automaker, hopes to gain US market share with the redesigned Civic and the Fit. Honda hopes that the company’s auto sales will rise 4% this year. The fuel-efficient Civic helped increase US market share to 8.6 percent last year, some of those sales were taken from Ford as gas prices rocketed to $3 a gallon. The US market is extremely important for Honda as it receives 64% of its operating profit from the US.

England: Fire at London Zoo kills aardvark, meerkats believed dead
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England: Fire at London Zoo kills aardvark, meerkats believed dead

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Fire broke out at London Zoo on Saturday morning, severely damaging a cafe and shop and killing an aardvark. Zoo officials said four meerkats were missing and were also presumed to be dead.

The fire, mostly in the Animal Adventure cafe and shop, also spread to a nearby petting area. Reportedly, 72 firefighters with ten fire engines fought the blaze for about three hours starting shortly after 6:00 am to bring it under control. A spokesperson for the Fire Brigade stated that when they arrived, the fire was already “very well developed”. According to the ambulance service, two people were treated for minor injuries, six for smoke inhalation, with one taken to hospital. A statement from the zoo said, regarding animal fatalities, “Sadly our vets have confirmed the death of our nine-year-old aardvark, Misha. There are also four meerkats unaccounted for at this stage, and we have limited access to site to confirm this.” Other animals were said to be apparently unaffected.

The zoo reported quick response by zoo security guards and by animal care staff who are housed at the zoo, which is in Regents Park; they moved animals to safety. A dog walker, Adnan Abdul Husein, told the BBC he had first noticed heavy smoke and alerted zoo security guards.

Zoo officials initially said the zoo would be closed “until further notice” but later announced it would reopen today, Christmas Eve.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal
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Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

Father accused of trying to sell daughter, child star of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
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Father accused of trying to sell daughter, child star of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rafiq Qureshi, the father of Rubina Ali, a child star of the Academy Award winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, has been accused of trying to sell his daughter. Qureshi was brought in for questioning by Indian police after a British news agency made accusations that he tried to sell his daughter. Ali played the character Latika.

Ali was the youngest actress in the movie, only 9 years old. She currently resides in a very poor area of Mumbai with her step-mother, father, and brother. Funds have been set up for Ali’s education and the local government has agreed to give housing to the children in the family.

News of the World says the alleged sale came to light during a sting operation performed by the news agency. They allege that Qureshi tried to sell his daughter for US$290,000 (£200,000) to his brother-in-law Rajan More.

“On Sunday, Rubina’s mother Khurshid complained to us that her ex-husband was trying to sell her daughter, saying she saw some reports on television to that effect,” said deputy Indian police commissioner, Nisar Tamboli to Reuters. Police say he tried to sell Ali to his brother-in-law because the family was not happy with the amount of money Ali was getting from her role in the film. More says Ali is not happy with living with her father.

“I have to consider what’s best for me, my family and Rubina’s future. We’ve got nothing out of this film,” said Qureshi as alleged by News of the World who also alleges that Ali’s brother Mohiuddin was in on the plan.

The family denies any wrongdoing and denies they tried to sell Ali.

“We never thought that we would have to face this. We are poor people, for us, our children are everything. Why would we give her away like that?,” said Moinuddin Qureshi, the uncle of Ali.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the incident.

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World’s most expensive hotel-casino opens in Las Vegas
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World’s most expensive hotel-casino opens in Las Vegas

Friday, April 29, 2005

The world’s most expensive hotel-casino ever has opened in Las Vegas, Nevada. The casino, which was designed and built over a period of five years, cost US$2.7 billion to construct. The hotel stands nearly fifty stories above the Las Vegas valley, with a 180-foot tall mountain in front of the main entrance.

Numerous lavish touches contributed to the high expense of the development. The sign in front of the Wynn property has an unusual mechanical design, with a large piece containing the Wynn logo, which can move vertically up or down as different announcements are presented.

“I think it’s going to start a shift of power. It’s been the south for a long time. Things will start moving to the north because of Wynn Las Vegas, Sheldon Adelson with the expansion of the Venetian, the New Frontier — that whole area will become the new hot area of Las Vegas for the next decade or so,” gaming expert Anthony Curtis told Las Vegas KLAS TV.

As the property opened to the public, developer Steve Wynn greeted visitors at the front entrance.

“It’s always fascinating to watch people enter the thing and get their first moment after we open the doors,” Wynn told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Analysts are not too concerned about the cost of the Wynn development. Wynn paid off the cost of The Mirage hotel-casino in 18 months, much earlier than the planned seven years for which the debt had been scheduled for repayment.

“If you remember the opening of The Mirage in 1989, Wynn needed to make a nut of $1 million a day. Everyone thought he was nuts; ‘couldn’t be done,’ they all said,” Las Vegas history department Chairman Hal Rothman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Wynn sold his interest in Mirage Resorts to MGM Grand (which became MGM Mirage and is now run by Kirk Kerkorian) for US$6.4 billion back in 2000, then turned around and purchased the property for the Wynn hotel-casino for US$275 million. The property was previously the home of the Desert Inn.

The hotel has 2,359 rooms, and a few hundred deluxe suites and “parlors” for high rollers. The casino has 1,960 slot machines and 137 table games on a 111,000 square foot casino floor. A FerrariMaserati dealership and the Le Reve stage show, featuring a million gallon water tank, round out the expensive offerings.

A round of golf will go for US$500 on the elaborate golf course located behind the main building.

All of these specifications add up to a record construction cost of over one million US dollars per room. Other expensive Las Vegas properties cost a fraction of the price, such as the Bellagio, which cost half the price at US$533,000 per room. The most expensive hotel property in the world was previously the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, Hawaii, which cost US$775,000 per room.

“Yes, (Wynn) may be in over his head, but then he has found ways to survive before,” Las Vegas professor Bill Thompson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Several of Wynn’s largest competitors spoke with admiration of the property and looked forward to its impact on Las Vegas.

“I’ve never understood the hand-wringing about something new, especially in Las Vegas and Atlantic City,” Harrah’s Chairman and CEO Gary Loveman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Other casino bosses from the Mandalay and the MGM Mirage had positive comments as well, hoping to pick up some new business from the development.

“It’s a positive in terms of bringing more visitors,” Mandalay Resort Group President and CEO Glenn Schaeffer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“Steve will build a great property and bring new people to town. If we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, then we’ll pick up some of that business also,” MGM Mirage Chairman and CEO Terry Lanni told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Thousands of visitors gathered for hours in front of the property before it opened. Security guards had to monitor the number of visitors entering the building.

“I think it’s spectacular,” David Schwartz, coordinator of the Gaming Studies Research Center at the University of Nevada Las Vegas told Reuters.

“People were pushing and shoving,” Las Vegan Kathie Anderson told Associated Press.

“There is nobody in the world who creates such entertaining and beautiful casinos,” British billionaire Richard Branson told Associated Press from the casino floor. “I would say every other casino must be nervous. He’s lifted the bar dramatically,” Branson said.

“This would be hard to top,” Las Vegan Marlene DeMarco told Reuters.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Family Coalition Party candidate Tad Brudzinski, Newmarket-Aurora
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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Family Coalition Party candidate Tad Brudzinski, Newmarket-Aurora

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tad Brudzinski is running for the Family Coalition Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Newmarket-Aurora riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

He did not answer the question “Of the decisions made by Ontario’s 38th Legislative Assembly, which was the most beneficial to your electoral district? To the province as a whole? Which was least beneficial, or even harmful, to your riding? To the province as a whole?”

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.

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De Soto State Park}

DeSoto State Park

by

Nova Sisk

DeSoto State Park is one of Alabamas most popular parks. The 3,500 acre park atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama offers beautiful mountain scenery including woodlands, streams, and waterfalls. The scenic Little River runs through the park. DeSoto State Parks original facilities were constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) from native stone and logs. The park offers visitors a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy.

The park has more than 20 miles of hiking trails, some of which are also open to bicyclists. Trails vary in difficulty from easy to strenuous. The Azalea Cascade Trail and the Wildflower Trail are particularly scenic. The Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail is handicapped accessible. This trail provides people of all abilities access into a beautiful area of hardwoods and azaleas and culminates in a lookout deck over the Azalea Cascade.

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A number of scenic waterfalls are located in DeSoto State Park. There are trails leading to Laurel Falls, Indian Falls, Lodge Falls, and Lost Falls. Many of the smaller falls in the park are dry during the summer months. DeSoto Falls is located six miles upriver from the main part of the park. At DeSoto Falls the Little River drops over 100 feet into a gorge. The dam above the falls was built in the 1920s to provide power to the area. This dam was Alabamas first hydro-electric dam.

Fishing is allowed in the Little River above the dam at DeSoto Falls. Fly-fishing is popular with anglers looking for bluegill and redeye bass. Swimming and wading is allowed in the Little River. The parks Olympic sized swimming pool is open during the summer season, with life guards provided. Some other park amenities include a playground, campground, picnic areas, a country store, and a nature center with exhibits and live animals.

The parks Mountain Inn Restaurant, overlooking the Little River, is located in the original stone lodge built by the CCC. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The seafood buffet offered on Friday nights is popular with visitors. A Saturday night buffet is offered seasonally from April through November, and there is a Sunday lunch buffet with salad bar year round.

DeSoto State Park is located on County Road 89, approximately eight miles northeast of Fort Payne, Alabama. The day use areas of the park are open daily from 7am to sundown. From its beautiful spring wildflowers to its spectacular fall colors, DeSoto State Park offers scenic beauty year round.

Nova Sisk is the director of sales for Hampton Inn $ Suites

Scottsboro hotel

. The Hampton Inn & Suites Scottsboro hotel in Alabama is located in the mountain/lakes region of northern Alabama surrounded by majestic mountains and rich valleys, located minutes from Lake Guntersville. For more information visit: http://www.hamptonscottsboro.com

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DeSoto State Park}

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G20 protests: Inside a labour march
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G20 protests: Inside a labour march
Wikinews accredited reporter Killing Vector traveled to the G-20 2009 summit protests in London with a group of protesters. This is his personal account.

Friday, April 3, 2009

London – “Protest”, says Ross Saunders, “is basically theatre”.

It’s seven a.m. and I’m on a mini-bus heading east on the M4 motorway from Cardiff toward London. I’m riding with seventeen members of the Cardiff Socialist Party, of which Saunders is branch secretary for the Cardiff West branch; they’re going to participate in a march that’s part of the protests against the G-20 meeting.

Before we boarded the minibus Saunders made a speech outlining the reasons for the march. He said they were “fighting for jobs for young people, fighting for free education, fighting for our share of the wealth, which we create.” His anger is directed at the government’s response to the economic downturn: “Now that the recession is underway, they’ve been trying to shoulder more of the burden onto the people, and onto the young people…they’re expecting us to pay for it.” He compared the protest to the Jarrow March and to the miners’ strikes which were hugely influential in the history of the British labour movement. The people assembled, though, aren’t miners or industrial workers — they’re university students or recent graduates, and the march they’re going to participate in is the Youth Fight For Jobs.

The Socialist Party was formerly part of the Labour Party, which has ruled the United Kingdom since 1997 and remains a member of the Socialist International. On the bus, Saunders and some of his cohorts — they occasionally, especially the older members, address each other as “comrade” — explains their view on how the split with Labour came about. As the Third Way became the dominant voice in the Labour Party, culminating with the replacement of Neil Kinnock with Tony Blair as party leader, the Socialist cadre became increasingly disaffected. “There used to be democratic structures, political meetings” within the party, they say. The branch meetings still exist but “now, they passed a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways, and they [the party leadership] just ignored it.” They claim that the disaffection with New Labour has caused the party to lose “half its membership” and that people are seeking alternatives. Since the economic crisis began, Cardiff West’s membership has doubled, to 25 members, and the RMT has organized itself as a political movement running candidates in the 2009 EU Parliament election. The right-wing British National Party or BNP is making gains as well, though.

Talk on the bus is mostly political and the news of yesterday’s violence at the G-20 demonstrations, where a bank was stormed by protesters and 87 were arrested, is thick in the air. One member comments on the invasion of a RBS building in which phone lines were cut and furniture was destroyed: “It’s not very constructive but it does make you smile.” Another, reading about developments at the conference which have set France and Germany opposing the UK and the United States, says sardonically, “we’re going to stop all the squabbles — they’re going to unite against us. That’s what happens.” She recounts how, in her native Sweden during the Second World War, a national unity government was formed among all major parties, and Swedish communists were interned in camps, while Nazi-leaning parties were left unmolested.

In London around 11am the march assembles on Camberwell Green. About 250 people are here, from many parts of Britain; I meet marchers from Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, and especially organized-labor stronghold Sheffield. The sky is grey but the atmosphere is convivial; five members of London’s Metropolitan Police are present, and they’re all smiling. Most marchers are young, some as young as high school age, but a few are older; some teachers, including members of the Lewisham and Sheffield chapters of the National Union of Teachers, are carrying banners in support of their students.

Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!’

Stewards hand out sheets of paper with the words to call-and-response chants on them. Some are youth-oriented and education-oriented, like the jaunty “Gordon Brown‘s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!'” (sung to the tune of the Lonnie Donegan song “My Old Man’s a Dustman“); but many are standbys of organized labour, including the infamous “workers of the world, unite!“. It also outlines the goals of the protest, as “demands”: “The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 and hour. No to cheap labour apprenticeships! for all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end. No to university fees. support the campaign to defeat fees.” Another steward with a megaphone and a bright red t-shirt talks the assembled protesters through the basics of call-and-response chanting.

Finally the march gets underway, traveling through the London boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. Along the route of the march more police follow along, escorting and guiding the march and watching it carefully, while a police van with flashing lights clears the route in front of it. On the surface the atmosphere is enthusiastic, but everyone freezes for a second as a siren is heard behind them; it turns out to be a passing ambulance.

Crossing Southwark Bridge, the march enters the City of London, the comparably small but dense area containing London’s financial and economic heart. Although one recipient of the protesters’ anger is the Bank of England, the march does not stop in the City, only passing through the streets by the London Exchange. Tourists on buses and businessmen in pinstripe suits record snippets of the march on their mobile phones as it passes them; as it goes past a branch of HSBC the employees gather at the glass store front and watch nervously. The time in the City is brief; rather than continue into the very centre of London the march turns east and, passing the Tower of London, proceeds into the poor, largely immigrant neighbourhoods of the Tower Hamlets.

The sun has come out, and the spirits of the protesters have remained high. But few people, only occasional faces at windows in the blocks of apartments, are here to see the march and it is in Wapping High Street that I hear my first complaint from the marchers. Peter, a steward, complains that the police have taken the march off its original route and onto back streets where “there’s nobody to protest to”. I ask how he feels about the possibility of violence, noting the incidents the day before, and he replies that it was “justified aggression”. “We don’t condone it but people have only got certain limitations.”

There’s nobody to protest to!

A policeman I ask is very polite but noncommittal about the change in route. “The students are getting the message out”, he says, so there’s no problem. “Everyone’s very well behaved” in his assessment and the atmosphere is “very positive”. Another protestor, a sign-carrying university student from Sheffield, half-heartedly returns the compliment: today, she says, “the police have been surprisingly unridiculous.”

The march pauses just before it enters Cable Street. Here, in 1936, was the site of the Battle of Cable Street, and the march leader, addressing the protesters through her megaphone, marks the moment. She draws a parallel between the British Union of Fascists of the 1930s and the much smaller BNP today, and as the protesters follow the East London street their chant becomes “The BNP tell racist lies/We fight back and organise!”

In Victoria Park — “The People’s Park” as it was sometimes known — the march stops for lunch. The trade unions of East London have organized and paid for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and tea, and, picnic-style, the marchers enjoy their meals as organized labor veterans give brief speeches about industrial actions from a small raised platform.

A demonstration is always a means to and end.

During the rally I have the opportunity to speak with Neil Cafferky, a Galway-born Londoner and the London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march. I ask him first about why, despite being surrounded by red banners and quotes from Karl Marx, I haven’t once heard the word “communism” used all day. He explains that, while he considers himself a Marxist and a Trotskyist, the word communism has negative connotations that would “act as a barrier” to getting people involved: the Socialist Party wants to avoid the discussion of its position on the USSR and disassociate itself from Stalinism. What the Socialists favor, he says, is “democratic planned production” with “the working class, the youths brought into the heart of decision making.”

On the subject of the police’s re-routing of the march, he says the new route is actually the synthesis of two proposals. Originally the march was to have gone from Camberwell Green to the Houses of Parliament, then across the sites of the 2012 Olympics and finally to the ExCel Centre. The police, meanwhile, wanted there to be no march at all.

The Metropolitan Police had argued that, with only 650 trained traffic officers on the force and most of those providing security at the ExCel Centre itself, there simply wasn’t the manpower available to close main streets, so a route along back streets was necessary if the march was to go ahead at all. Cafferky is sceptical of the police explanation. “It’s all very well having concern for health and safety,” he responds. “Our concern is using planning to block protest.”

He accuses the police and the government of having used legal, bureaucratic and even violent means to block protests. Talking about marches having to defend themselves, he says “if the police set out with the intention of assaulting marches then violence is unavoidable.” He says the police have been known to insert “provocateurs” into marches, which have to be isolated. He also asserts the right of marches to defend themselves when attacked, although this “must be done in a disciplined manner”.

He says he wasn’t present at yesterday’s demonstrations and so can’t comment on the accusations of violence against police. But, he says, there is often provocative behavior on both sides. Rather than reject violence outright, Cafferky argues that there needs to be “clear political understanding of the role of violence” and calls it “counter-productive”.

Demonstration overall, though, he says, is always a useful tool, although “a demonstration is always a means to an end” rather than an end in itself. He mentions other ongoing industrial actions such as the occupation of the Visteon plant in Enfield; 200 fired workers at the factory have been occupying the plant since April 1, and states the solidarity between the youth marchers and the industrial workers.

I also speak briefly with members of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small group of left-wing activists who have brought some signs to the rally. The Bolsheviks say that, like the Socialists, they’re Trotskyists, but have differences with them on the idea of organization; the International Bolshevik Tendency believes that control of the party representing the working class should be less democratic and instead be in the hands of a team of experts in history and politics. Relations between the two groups are “chilly”, says one.

At 2:30 the march resumes. Rather than proceeding to the ExCel Centre itself, though, it makes its way to a station of London’s Docklands Light Railway; on the way, several of East London’s school-aged youths join the march, and on reaching Canning Town the group is some 300 strong. Proceeding on foot through the borough, the Youth Fight For Jobs reaches the protest site outside the G-20 meeting.

It’s impossible to legally get too close to the conference itself. Police are guarding every approach, and have formed a double cordon between the protest area and the route that motorcades take into and out of the conference venue. Most are un-armed, in the tradition of London police; only a few even carry truncheons. Closer to the building, though, a few machine gun-armed riot police are present, standing out sharply in their black uniforms against the high-visibility yellow vests of the Metropolitan Police. The G-20 conference itself, which started a few hours before the march began, is already winding down, and about a thousand protesters are present.

I see three large groups: the Youth Fight For Jobs avoids going into the center of the protest area, instead staying in their own group at the admonition of the stewards and listening to a series of guest speakers who tell them about current industrial actions and the organization of the Youth Fight’s upcoming rally at UCL. A second group carries the Ogaden National Liberation Front‘s flag and is campaigning for recognition of an autonomous homeland in eastern Ethiopia. Others protesting the Ethiopian government make up the third group; waving old Ethiopian flags, including the Lion of Judah standard of emperor Haile Selassie, they demand that foreign aid to Ethiopia be tied to democratization in that country: “No recovery without democracy”.

A set of abandoned signs tied to bollards indicate that the CND has been here, but has already gone home; they were demanding the abandonment of nuclear weapons. But apart from a handful of individuals with handmade, cardboard signs I see no groups addressing the G-20 meeting itself, other than the Youth Fight For Jobs’ slogans concerning the bailout. But when a motorcade passes, catcalls and jeers are heard.

It’s now 5pm and, after four hours of driving, five hours marching and one hour at the G-20, Cardiff’s Socialists are returning home. I board the bus with them and, navigating slowly through the snarled London traffic, we listen to BBC Radio 4. The news is reporting on the closure of the G-20 conference; while they take time out to mention that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed the traditional group photograph of the G-20’s world leaders because “he was on the loo“, no mention is made of today’s protests. Those listening in the bus are disappointed by the lack of coverage.

Most people on the return trip are tired. Many sleep. Others read the latest issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Party’s newspaper. Mia quietly sings “The Internationale” in Swedish.

Due to the traffic, the journey back to Cardiff will be even longer than the journey to London. Over the objections of a few of its members, the South Welsh participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs stop at a McDonald’s before returning to the M4 and home.

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US: Evidentiary documents released in Golden State Killer case
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US: Evidentiary documents released in Golden State Killer case

Friday, June 1, 2018

On Friday, the Sacramento, California County Superior Court in the United States, with Judge Michael Sweet presiding, publicly released approximately 123 heavily redacted pages from an 800 page document related to the trial of 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo, in the Golden State Killer (GSK) case. The high profile case prompted the defense to motion delaying the release on the grounds of jury tainting.

From 1974 to 1986, there were 12 murders, 45 rapes, and 120 burglaries ascribed to the GSK. Many of these crimes were initially attributed to separate suspects, and California investigators coined such nicknames as “East Area Rapist”, “Original Night-stalker”, “Visalli Ransacker”, and “Diamond Knot Killer”. All these identities were later determined to be the GSK. DeAngelo is currently being charged with first degree murder with special circumstances, and is being further investigated for the 1975 first degree murder of Claude Snelling.

GSK’s alleged victims include 18-year-old Janelle Lisa Cruz on May 4, 1986; 35-year-old Cheri Domingo on July 27, 1981; 27-year-old Greg Sanchez on July 27, 1981; 24-year-old Keith Harrington on August 21, 1975; 27-year-old Patti Harrington on August 21, 1975; 21-year-old Brian Maggiore on February 2, 1978; 20-year-old Katie Maggiore on February 2, 1978; 44-year-old Dr. Robert Offerman on December 30, 1979; 35-year-old Debra Manning on December 30, 1979; 35-year-old Lyman Smith on March 13, 1980; 33-year-old Charlene Smith on March 13, 1980; 45-year-old Claude Snelling on September 11, 1975; and 28-year-old Manuela Witthuhn on February 5, 1981.

Law enforcement used DNA and other evidence to link the twelve known murders attributed to the GSK to suspect DeAngelo. Any DNA from rape kits and burglaries that predates 1970 is only admissible in court for murder cases because of California’s statute of limitations. The DNA evidence allegedly implicating DeAngelo was not found through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database, which catalogs 20 sections of DNA from local, state, federal, and some international agencies making a unique profile for 16 million individuals, but CODIS did rule out other GSK suspects, like Paul “Cornfed” Schneider and Joe Alsip.

Instead, law enforcement used a nuance investigative technique, comparing GSK’s DNA profile against the open-sourced GEDmatch’s genealogical DNA database. The GEDmatch’s database flagged a GSK blood relative and, with other evidence, DeAngelo was suspected of being involved with GSK’s crimes. The genealogical website methodology is not unique to the GSK case. GEDmatch’s database was also used to identify 51-year-old William Earl Talbott II in the 1987 rape and homicide of Jay Cook (20) and Tanya Van Cuylenborg (18) in Seattle, Washington.

The newly released documents reveal DeAngelo’s DNA was not collected via a warrant but rather from the door handle of his personal vehicle as he was shopping in a local Hobby Lobby on April 18. A secondary sample was collected from a tissue found in the garbage on April 23. The door handle and tissue DNA were compared to a semen sample from a known GSK murder that had been confirmed using the CODIS’s 20 section DNA profile standard. On April 24, DeAngelo was arrested for the twelve GSK murders. A warrant for DeAngelo’s Citrus Heights, California residence disclosed dozens of wedding rings, photographs, driver’s licenses, and other objects allegedly taken from victims as trophies.

Public defender David Lynch, tasked with defending DeAngelo, motioned for the 800 documents to be sealed until trial to prevent the jury from becoming tainted. Lynch has also questioned the validity of certain search warrants for undisclosed reasons. Prosecutors from Sacramento, Ventura, Orange, and Santa Barbara counties have not determined the best way to prosecute DeAngelo considering the complexity, age, and multiple jurisdictions of the case.

DeAngelo was, until 1979, a police officer in small California towns. After allegedly stealing a hammer and dog repellent, DeAngelo was subsequently fired from the Auburn, California police force. He later became a truck mechanic near Sacramento.

[edit]

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Details emerge on how al-Zarqawi’s location was pinned
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Details emerge on how al-Zarqawi’s location was pinned

Friday, June 9, 2006

Someone said to be an informant within Abu Musab al-Zarqawi‘s trusted circle told Coalition forces the insurgent leader was going to have a meeting, it has emerged. This information appears to have led US F-16Cs to a safehouse in the Iraqi town of Hibhid, where the Jordanian and five others, including a child, were killed on Wednesday.

“We had absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Zarqawi was in the house. There was 100 percent confirmation,” Caldwell said.

The informer is said to want the insurgency to pursue a strategy within the Iraqi political process, which in the informer’s view was in contrast to tactics executed by al-Zarqawi’s leadership that involved ethnic killings.

It was one of the last in a long line of breadcrumbs leading the hunt for the Iraqi government’s most-wanted murderer to the doorstep of an attractive isolated house in Hibhid.

In a late-April video al-Zarqawi had been shown spraying bullets from a machine gun with a horizon in the background. This is said to have revealed the general location of al-Zarqawi, found near Diyala province, in the north east of Iraq. The ethnically mixed region had seen an upsurge in violence and over days preceding the airstrike.

Murders had included a number of decapitated heads left in fruitboxes. Al-Zarqawi had been known for kidnapping and video beheadings of westerners in Iraq.

Another al-Zarwaqi insider also had given vital clues to the investigators before the final tip-off. A former customs clearance officer in Rutba identified as Ziad Khalaf al-Karbuli had named Sheikh Abu Abdul-Rahman as al-Zarqawi’s spiritual advisor and gave-up contact details.

Ziad Khalaf al-Karbuli had appeared on Jordanian television, May 23, to confess his links to al-Zarqawi, and to his murder of a Jordanian driver and his kidnap of two Moroccan embassy employees in 2005. The vital clue about Abu Abdul-Rahman was not broadcast.

With details from the al-Karbuli interrogation the gunsights got closer to al-Zarqawi. “Through painstaking intelligence effort, they were able to start tracking him, monitoring his movements and establishing when he was doing his link-ups with Zarqawi, ” Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said of the investigators.

The US search for the Sheikh included the use of remote controlled aircraft, it was revealed.

However; it is said neither the al-Karbuli information nor the al-Zarqawi betrayer lead the Americans to press the fire button on al-Zarwaqi’s two-story home. Al-Zarqawi was hard to catch because he reportedly eschewed trackable cell-phones in favour of high-tech Thuraya-made satellite phones to communicate.

The death certificate was signed by the secret informant who said both Sheikh Abu Abdul-Rahman and al-Zarqawi would be in Hibhid, Wednesday night.

For the elusive insurgent who had previously escaped attempts to bomb him, the execution came after comparison of this source’s information with tracks of the location of satellite phone users.

The location found was beside a property with a courtyard surrounded by fields away from other buildings. It appears then the US command made the decision to strike at an address in the small town, near Baqubah.

US special forces were on the scene to photograph the dead al-Zarqawi at 6:17 p.m., two minutes after two 500lb bombs were dropped. Al-Zarqawi was said to be alive and being given medical assistance when he died of wounds sustained in the bombing.

The announcement of the killing was made Thursday by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said to viewers of Iraqi television the $25 million bounty for information leading to the death or capture of al-Zarqawi would be “honored.”

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