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Australian Budget for 2006-2007 released
May 26, 2019

Tuesday, May 9, 2006The Australian Budget (Appropriation Bill No. 1) for 2006-2007 was released by the Australian Liberal PartyAustralian National Party coalition government treasurer, Peter Costello (Higgins, Liberal).

Costello noted the resilience of the economy against natural disasters and terrorism, and through “disciplined and prudent management” the Government was able to “repay Labor’s debt” of quoted 96 billion dollars of net debt and the Government was now “debt-free”.

Costello noted that the Government budget was in “surplus for the ninth time” with a forecast surplus of 10.8 billion.

Contents

  • 1 Infrastructure
  • 2 Tax reform
  • 3 Assistance to families
  • 4 Defence
  • 5 Conclusions
  • 6 Sources
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UN aid convoys face increasing attacks in Darfur
May 26, 2019

Friday, July 27, 2007

The United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) raised concerns about a dramatic escalation in attacks on food aid convoys by armed bandits in the Darfur region of Sudan. WFP says the attacks constrain its ability to feed the more than two million people in the area receiving aid.

Negotiations over a UN Security Council resolution authorising a joint UN-African Union security force for the region continue but full deployment could take up to a year.

“In the last two weeks, nine food convoys have been attacked by gunmen across Darfur,” said Kenro Oshidari, WFP Sudan Representative. “WFP staff and contractors are being stopped at gunpoint, dragged out of their vehicles and robbed with alarming frequency,” he said.

“These abhorrent attacks, which target the very people who are trying to help the most vulnerable in Darfur, must be brought under control,” he added.

A WFP official told Wikinews that the attacks and robberies have occurred in all regions of Darfur, and that the blame can’t be ascribed to a particular group. “Frequently the bandits are wearing uniforms but often in one group of bandits there may be more than one uniform. Thus, we are not pointing fingers at any one group.” said Emilia Casella, WFP Spokesperson for Sudan. “We are calling on all parties to respect the neutrality of humanitarian convoys and their drivers, who are delivering food to civilians who are victims of the conflict.”

“On July 20, a convoy traveling on the Tawilla-Kaura road in North Darfur was stopped by 16 armed men. The drivers were forced out of their vehicles and the robbers demanded 5 Sudanese pounds from each (roughly equivalent to US$2.50). Those who could not pay were beaten. Similar incidents have happened on the same road in the past two weeks.”

According to WFP, in 2007 so far, 18 WFP convoys have been attacked – “shot at, looted, drivers robbed and/or injured”. Four vehicles were stopped and the drivers and passengers robbed. Six vehicles were stolen, where the gunmen drove away with the WFP staff members still inside, though they were later released. “There were no major physical injuries, but naturally such experiences are very traumatic,” said Casella. “These incidents have occurred in all three of the Darfurs, in areas controlled by various groups or the government.”

In the week of July 15-21, there were five incidents in South Darfur, during which a total of seven trucks were looted of approximately 10.5 tonnes of food assistance.

The Darfur operation is the WFP’s largest humanitarian mission, with about 790 staff working to feed more than two million people every month.

The WFP indicated that it has been difficult to hire and retain the commercial trucking companies used to move food and supplies throughout the region due to the risks involved in the service. WFP Public Affairs Officer in Washington D.C. Jennifer Parmelee told Wikinews that “hiring reliable transport in other insecure environments, [such as] Afghanistan and Somalia, is extremely challenging.”

Air service is employed for remote locations and where delivery by road has become too dangerous.

Parmelee told Wikinews that the “increasing insecurity will almost certainly further constrain [WFP’s] ability to operate in Darfur – it already has.” WFP Spokesperson for Sudan, Emilia Casella, indicated that “humanitarian access is likely to be increasingly difficult due to insecurity.” However, the situation has not prevented all aid delivery. “Despite insecurity and access problems, WFP food assistance reached about 2.6 million people in Darfur last month,” said Casella.

A UN resolution on the deployment of a hybrid African Union (AU) and UN force of 26,000 troops is working its way through the UN. Britain and France presented revisions to the draft, which dropped a threat of “further measures” against Sudan for obstructing peace efforts, though Sudan’s ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, has objected to the revisions.

A deadline of December 31 exists to transfer authority in Sudan’s Darfur region from the AU to the proposed AU-UN force. Full deployment of all 26,000 troops would take up to one year.

The draft resolution would allow the use of force to protect the mission’s personnel and humanitarian workers and would “protect civilians under threat of physical violence”.

Jennifer Parmelee of the WFP suggests that the deployment of the hybrid force under such a mandate would be a positive development in the aid agency’s ability to carry out their humanitarian assistance. “Sure an expanded AU/UN peacekeeping force would help.” said Parmelee. “As it is, AU is stretched very very thin, and…is unable to accompany most of our convoys.”

According to WFP, there are approximately 12,000 humanitarian workers in Darfur, which is a drop in numbers even though the need for aid workers has increased.

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Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’
May 26, 2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a vault containing millions of seeds from all over the world, saw its first deposits on Tuesday. Located 800 kilometers from the North Pole on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the vault has been referred to by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso as a “frozen Garden of Eden“. It is intended to preserve crop supplies and secure biological diversity in the event of a worldwide disaster.

“The opening of the seed vault marks a historic turning point in safeguarding the world’s crop diversity,” said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust which is in charge of collecting the seed samples. The Norwegian government, who owns the bank, built it at a cost of $9.1 million.

At the opening ceremony, 100 million seeds from 268,000 samples were placed inside the vault, where there is room for over 2 billion seeds. Each of the samples originated from a different farm or field, in order to best ensure biological diversity. These crop seeds included such staples as rice, potatoes, barley, lettuce, maize, sorghum, and wheat. No genetically modified crops were included. (Beyond politics they are generally sterile so of no use.)

It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks.

Constructed deep inside a mountain and protected by concrete walls, the “doomsday vault” is designed to withstand earthquakes, nuclear warfare, and floods resulting from global warming. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called it an “insurance policy” against such threats.

With air-conditioned temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius, experts say the seeds could last for an entire millennium. Some crops will be able to last longer, like sorghum, which the Global Crop Diversity Trust says can last almost 20 millenniums. Even if the refrigeration system fails, the vaults are expected to stay frozen for 200 years.

The Prime Minister said, “With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilization.” Stoltenberg, along with Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, made the first deposit of rice to the vault.

“It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks,” Maathai said. The vault will operate as a bank, allowing countries to use their deposited seeds free of charge. It will also serve as a backup to the thousands of other seed banks around the world.

“Crop diversity will soon prove to be our most potent and indispensable resource for addressing climate change, water and energy supply constraints and for meeting the food needs of a growing population,” Cary Fowler said.

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US President Bush nominates Michael B. Mukasey as Attorney General
May 24, 2019

Monday, September 17, 2007

United States President George W. Bush has today nominated Michael B. Mukasey as Attorney General. If confirmed by the Senate, Mukasey, a former Chief Judge for the Southern District of New York, will replace Alberto Gonzales.

“He knows what it takes to fight this war effectively and he knows how to do it in a manner consistent with our laws and our Constitution,” Bush said, while announcing Mukasey’s nomination in the Rose Garden.

“I look forward to meeting with members of Congress in the days ahead and, if confirmed, to working with Congress to meeting our nation’s challenges,” Mukasey said in his comments.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who was among those who sought the ouster of Gonzales, said Mukasey “is certainly conservative,” but “seems to be the kind of nominee who would put rule of law first and show independence from the White House – our most important criteria.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: “A man who spent 18 years on the federal bench surely understands the importance of checks and balances and knows how to say no to the president when he oversteps the Constitution, but there should be no rush to judgment. The Senate Judiciary Committee must carefully examine Judge Mukasey’s views on the complex legal challenges facing the nation.”

Michael B. Mukasey was nominated as a federal district judge in Manhattan by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. He took the bench in 1988 and served in that position for 18 years, including a 6-year tenure as Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York from 2000 to July 2006.

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“No H5N1 virus” found in blood tests of suspected human Bird Flu cluster
May 24, 2019

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Preliminary tests performed on samples taken from six villagers in the Kabanjahe District of Sumatra in Indonesia have tested negative for the deadly H5N1 Avian Flu virus.

“Investigations by the ministry of health lab and Namru, too, on August 2 and 3 on all specimens collected from the suspected cases in Kabanjahe district came up negative,” said Indonesia’s health minister, Siti Fadilah Supari.

Final test results are expected in at least seven days from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. “The World Health Organization (WHO) requires human samples to be sent to one of WHO’s six collaborative centres. So, we only need to send them to CDC Atlanta as it has worked with the U.S. NAMRU-2 lab here,” added Supari.

Supari also stated that all individuals are suffering from the “common flu.”

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Oil spill hits Australia’s Sunshine coastline
May 23, 2019

Sunday, March 15, 2009

200,000 litres of oil leaked into waters off the coast of Brisbane from the Pacific Adventurer when their fuel tanks were damaged in rough seas on Wednesday. The figure is about ten times higher than the original estimate of twenty thousand litres of oil. The devastating diesel oil spill has spread along 60 kilometres (37 miles) of the Queensland coast. In addition, 31 containers with 620 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser flew overboard during the violent storm.

Questions are being asked why the Hong Kong cargo ship was out in seas with nine meter waves caused by Cyclone Hamish, a Category 5 tropical cyclone, as well as why the fertiliser containers were not properly secured. One of the overboard containers ruptured the hull of the Pacific Adventurer, causing between 30 to 100 tonnes of oil to spew from the severely damaged ship.

If the ammonium nitrate mixes with the heavy oil, an explosion could occur. None of the containers have been recovered. Some of these may float, but it is believed that they may have sunk which then may cause algal blooms.

Disaster zones have been declared at Bribie and Moreton Islands, and along the Sunshine coast.

The vessel’s owner, Swire Shipping, reported that a second leak began on Friday, when the ship began listing after docking at Hamilton for repairs. “As full soundings of the vessel’s tanks were being taken at the port to determine how much oil had leaked from the vessel, a small quantity of fuel oil escaped from the Pacific Adventurer,” it stated. The ship was brought upright, and a recovery vessel was used to suck up the oil from the water. The leak produced a 500m-long oil slick down the Brisbane River. Booms were placed around this oil spill so that a skimmer could clean up the second spill.

Swire Shipping could face clean up costs of AU$100,000 a day as well as fines up to AU$1.5million (US$977,000; £703,000) if found guilty of environmental breaches or negligence.

Sunshine Coast beaches are slowly starting to be reopened. The beach of Mooloolaba was still closed following reports of burning sensations from swimmers. 12 beaches remain closed; however, 13 have been reopened.

Over 300 state government and council workers are using buckets, rakes and spades in the clean up effort. Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbott says the majority will be gone by Sunday afternoon. The full environmental impact on wildlife is not yet known. One turtle and seven pelicans have been found covered in oil.

There are concerns that the drinking water of Moreton Island is at risk, as the island uses water from the underground water table near the oil spill site.

“Every bucketload of contaminated sand has to be removed from the island by barge, and each bucketload from a front-end loader weighs about one tonne. It’s just an impossible task,” said Mr Trevor Hassard of the Tangalooma Dolphin Education Centre.

The commercial fishing industry has suffered from the incident. Trawlers won’t resume operations until Sunday evening, and any catches will be tested for human consumption.

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Dell joins Microsoft-Nortel VoIP Team
May 21, 2019

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dell Inc. announced on Tuesday that it will partner up with the Microsoft-Nortel Innovative communications alliance (ICA) team to sell Unified Communications and VoIP products.

The announcement on Tuesday the 16th of October 2007 includes Dell selling VoIP, data and wireless networking products from Nortel and the Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and other unified communications products.

The partnership with both manufacturers should allow Dell to provide a pre-integrated solution.

In March 2007, competitors IBM and Cisco announced they would join in the competition for developing unified communications applications and the development of open technologies around the unified communications and collaboration (UC2) client platform an application programming interfaces (APIs) offered by IBM as a subset of Lotus Sametime.

“We want to make it simple for our customers to deploy unified communications so their end users can get access to all their messages in one place – whether its e-mail, phone or mobile device. This will pave the way for more business-ready productivity tools,” said vice president of solutions, Dell Product Group, Rick Becker.

  • Customers have four options:
    • Core Office Communication Server 2007 – provides instant messaging and on-premise Microsoft Live Meeting.
    • Office Communication Server: Telephony – enables call routing tracking and management, VoIP gateway and public branch exchange (PBX) integration.
    • Audio and Video Conferencing – allows point-to-point conference, video conference and VoIP audio conference.
    • Exchange Unified Messaging – provides voicemail, e-mail and fax in Microsoft Outlook, and anywhere access of Microsoft Outlook Inbox and Calendar.

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Thousands of trapped miners rescued in South Africa
May 21, 2019

Thursday, October 4, 2007

As many as 3,200 mine workers became trapped in the in Elandsrand mine, a gold mine in South Africa about 50 miles (80 km) west of Johannesburg in Carletonville, Gauteng, after an incident on October 3. All miners have been rescued, and none of them were injured. The mine is owned by Harmony Gold Mining Corporation.

The mining company says that a lift electrical cable broke on a basket that was carrying miners, trapping thousands at least 2,200 meters (1.3 miles) below the earth’s surface. Reports from MSNBC and the Guardian Unlimited say that the shaft may have collapsed when a water or air pipe burst. The rescue operation went well with no complications, with the rescue taking just under 24 hours to complete.

“They were underground when the accident happened and they were not able to surface because an electric feeder cable that is connected to the mine lift was severed,” said a spokeswoman for the mining company, Amelia Soares. The snap was caused by a “fatigued” air pipe which burst and fell down the shaft damaging the “steelwork and electrical feeder cords,” added Soares. “They are all in good condition.”

“They are all safe. There have been no injuries or deaths,” said CEO of Harmony mining, Graham Briggs who also said that the miners were previously contacted and were given “food and water.”

Earlier reports had stated that Lesiba Seshoka, a spokesman with the National Union of Mineworkers, said that the miners have not been heard from for hours and that they could have been enduring temperatures as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).

“This is a terrible situation. The only exit is blocked, probably by a fall of ground,” said Seshoka.

Rescue workers used a mine shaft that is next to the damaged one in an attempt to reach the trapped miners, and lifted them out, 75 at a time. There was no emergency exit in the shaft which is reported to have “not been maintained for ages,” added Seshoka.

“An escape route is the most important thing and they have failed miserably. They need to ensure that the shaft is maintained. This is why we have this disaster. Our main worry is for more than 3,000 people who are underground,” said National Union of Mineworkers for S. Africa chairman, Deon Boqwana.

Current reports say that “negligence” was the initial cause for the pipe burst and that there has been a history of negligence from the mine. “We suspect negligence. Because of continuous operations there is no time to make adequate checks,” said the President of the Miners union, Senzeni Zokwana to reporters during a news conference.

The Elsrand mine is currently under development and has been since February 2001 when Harmony bought the mine. Officials state that the mine will remain closed for a minimum of six weeks, while an investigation is performed, and the mine is deemed safe for miners to continue working in it.

The mine is located in the Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa, which is said to be the location of the largest area of raw gold on the planet.

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Annan invites Iraqis to exercise democratic rights
May 19, 2019

Saturday, January 29, 2005With just days to go before Sunday’s historic poll to choose a new government in Iraq, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has invited the people of Iraq to exercise their democratic rights.

The poll, the first free elections in a generation, faces disruption from insurgents who are totally opposed to democracy. Annan warned them not to interfere and promised continuing help from the UN for the country in the future.

Annan made his appeal in a pre-recorded message, broadcast on TV inside Iraq. “Elections are the best way to determine any country’s future; please exercise your democratic rights on Sunday,” he said. “Whatever your feelings about how the country reached this point, this election offers an opportunity to move away from violence and uncertainty toward peace and representative government.”

The UN has been providing advice and technical help to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI), as well as $100m funding for the poll and co-ordination of international assistance. A team of 40 experts has overseen the delivery of three million tonnes of election materials and helped the IECI and Iraqi officials prepare and maintain the voters register.

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Hurricane-force winds kill 15 people as storm hits Europe
May 11, 2019

Sunday, January 25, 2009

As a storm swept across parts of France and Spain on Saturday and Sunday, it left 15 people dead. Its winds were recorded up to 190km/h (118 mph), which are hurricane-force winds.

The storm made landfall near to Bordeaux, France at 5:00 am Central European Time on Saturday the 24th January. It traveled south-eastwards towards the south-east coast of France throughout Saturday morning, finally reaching there at 1:00 pm. It is expected to head north-eastwards over Italy and the Adriatic Sea, but without causing damage. Low pressure systems are fairly common in Europe at this time of year. Some reports have called it the storm of the decade; BBC meteorologist Alex Deakin said “Saturday’s storm is being described as the most damaging since that of December 1999 which killed 88 people.”

Four children aged between 9 and 12 died at a sports hall in Sant Boi de Llobregat, near Barcelona. The children intended on playing baseball, but sought shelter inside a covered area made of concrete with a corrugated iron roof. The structure collapsed, as a result of the wind. Local people and fire-fighters were at the scene in aiding children to escape the rubble. Three children died at the scene, a fourth died in hospital and 16 have been treated for injuries.

Other fatalities include a woman, who died after a wall collapsed and a man struck by a falling tree in the Barcelona area. In Landes, south-west France, a falling tree struck a driver; a 78-year-old man was hit by debris and another man, aged 75, was crushed by a tree. A wall crushed a man in Aigues de Busot in the south-east of Spain. A policeman was struck by a falling tree as he directed traffic in Burela and a sailor from a cargo ship died when the vessel got into trouble off the coast of Galicia. In Burgos, Spain, a woman was crushed by a door.

Approximately 1.7 million homes in France and tens of thousands of homes in Spain experienced power cuts. A woman, aged 73, died in France after a power-outage stopped her breathing machine. Road and rail links were blocked and airports closed. Airports in Bordeaux, Biarritz, Pau and Toulouse were shut, as well as train services, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded overnight.

Michèle Alliot-Marie, the French interior minister, stated that in addition to the 300 civil security agents located in the Landes region of France, another 715 agents would be deployed. She also expressed her intent to fly there today, after the high winds have decreased. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters he would travel to the affected area tomorrow. In Bordeaux’s Gironde region, 19 residents of a retirement home were evacuated by rescuers following its rooftop being blown away. Authorities have also evacuated campers from the pine forests in Landes.

Thousands were evacuated from nearby housing estates in La Nucía, north of Benidorm in Alicante, as the Spanish Army helped to fight a forest fire, which was started by a felled electricity pylon. There were also forest fires in the region of Catalonia, while Spain put emergency services on high alert. Waves over 20 metres high were registered off the northern coast of Spain and dolphins were stranded on beaches in the region as a result of high winds.

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