Fires burn across eastern Australia amid summer heatwave

Sunday, January 13, 2013

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Despite earlier cooler weather, heatwave conditions are expected to resume in New South Wales, Australia. Local weather service forecasts expect temperatures to rise above 40°C (104°F), as-experienced earlier in the week. The percentage of uncontained fires jumped as high as 20%. On Friday, local fire authorities have declared total fire bans across Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Fire crews at the east coast of Australia are readying to battle an increased rate of bushfires during the weekend.

Uncontrolled fires have also been burning across the states of Tasmania, Victoria, and Queensland.

Extremely hot weather and strong winds played havoc with the fires early in the week. A minor change in the weather assisted crews on Thursday but the high temperatures are set to return on Friday and through the weekend.

Thirty devastating fires in Tasmania are now being controlled after burning 130 properties and 110,000 hectares of land throughout the past week.

In Victoria there are two significant fires being fought with several others now under control but concerns remain for the weekend with the temperature forecast to rise to 42°C in the north of the state.

Queensland firefighters continued to battle fires north of of the capital Brisbane on Bribie Island, with at least 22 fires still burning throughout the state.

New South Wales has 120 fires burning as of Friday with 370,000 hectares of land, 10,000 livestock and one property already destroyed.

…an awful lot of fireline for firefighters to monitor…

Deputy Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Rob Rogers briefed reporters on the bushfires at the Rural Fire Service Headquarters on Friday.

“They are very large, all either in excess or very close to 10,000 hectares (and) in some cases 100 kilometres of fireline.That’s an awful lot of fireline for firefighters to monitor and obviously that’s going to be troubling over today and particularly tomorrow when it will be even hotter.”

One fire at Dean’s Gap in New South Wales had authorities concerned due to its proximity to an old military range that contains unexploded ordinances at Tianjara plateau. Firefighters have used earth moving equipment to create containment lines and specialised gel to protect the range.

Diy Lawn Care Learning How To Do It Properly

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By Mr.Andrew Caxton

DIY lawn care is easy to achieve just as long as you consider the basics that are needed.

When it comes to making a lawn look healthy, people automatically think that it needs professional gardeners in order to be able to achieve great results. However this is certainly not the case. By having a little bit of knowledge about lawn care, you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to turn your lawn into something that you can really feel proud of.

DIY lawn care can help to save you a lot of time and money; especially if you are clued up about the certain issues that are important for maintaining a healthy lawn. It certainly is not a difficult task just as long as you do preserver with it and that you regularly apply the care that is needed.


Tips for DIY Lawn Care

In order to have the best possible lawn, it is important to know certain tips that will enable you to create the perfect results that you are after.

The first basic care tip is to ensure that you regularly mow the lawn and although this seems obvious, a lot of people do take it for granted. It is not always about how many times you cut the grass, but it is more about how you do it and what you do afterwards. A good tip is to leave the grass clippings on the lawn as although it may seem messy, it really helps to provide a great source of nitrogen for the grass. As well as the mowing of the grass, watering it is essential too; but make sure that you do not over-water the grass and always do it as evenly as possible.

Fertilizer is also something that you should definitely consider if you want to maintain a healthy lawn and one of the best types to use is compost. The great thing about compost is that it works very well on most types of lawns and it also helps to supply nutrients to it too, which promotes healthy growth.

To help your lawn to receive a better flow of water, air, nutrients and fertilizer, aerating is a crucial process that you should not miss out. If the ground becomes hard or compacted, this is when your lawn needs to be aerated.

Overall these tips are a great way to help you to take the proper care that is needed in order to have a healthy, good looking lawn. You can do this all yourself without having to acquire the help of a professional.

About the Author: Andrew Caxton is a syndicated columnist on different resources like . You can find more information and

resources on scotts lawnmowers

at his website.


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CanadaVOTES: CHP candidate Steven Elgersma running in Haldimand—Norfolk

Friday, September 19, 2008

On October 14, 2008, Canadians will be heading to the polls for the federal election. Christian Heritage Party candidate Steven Elgersma is standing for election in the riding of Haldimand—Norfolk.

Wikinews contacted Steven Elgersma, to talk about the issues facing Canadians, and what they and their party would do to address them. Wikinews is in the process of contacting every candidate, in every riding across the country, no matter their political stripe. All interviews are conducted over e-mail, and interviews are published unedited, allowing candidates to impart their full message to our readers, uninterrupted.

Alex Necochea and Bryn Bennett: the ‘Guitar Heroes’ of Bang Camaro

Monday, October 8, 2007

When a fan connects with a band, it’s often during moments like a drive down a highway at night reflecting on some aspect of his or her life; sitting at home after a fight with a girlfriend; singing in the shower; or celebrating at a party with her friends. Music becomes a soundtrack to an individual’s life, and a connection with the musician forms when the listener is able to peg a perfect moment or feeling to a song. Boston-based mega-member rock group Bang Camaro‘s fan base claims a different level of interaction: they often have learned to play their music before they ever had a moment associated with it. Bang Camaro found fame on the video game Guitar Hero II, where an aspiring rock god uses a guitar-shaped peripheral to play rock music as notes scroll towards him on the screen.

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone journeyed to the Bowery Ballroom to talk to the two founding members of Bang Camaro, Alex Necochea and Bryn Bennett. But when shows up at the same time as Wikinews to do an interview, the band must split up. Below is our conversation with Necochea about touring, influence, politics, throwing his corpse out of a plane and flatulent women.

David Shankbone: How’s the tour going?

Alex Necochea: The tours is going great! We just played in Poughkeepsie last night with the OCC house band.

DS: Poughkeepsie, huh?

AN: Yeah! [Laughs] Poughkeepsie, it’s kind of a dark town. Not much of a built-in crowd there.

DS: What kind of crowd is there?

AN: From what I could tell, we played for a lot of Guitar Hero fans and people who heard about us through friends of friends, or came across us on MySpace. That sort of thing. But for the most part a lot of the kids we meet are anywhere between…well, I guess at a club like that they have to be over 18, but usually they are just much younger kids who are video game fans, who have heard about us through Guitar Hero II.

DS: What’s that like to have a fan base that comes from primarily video games? Have you noticed a difference between being known as a local band playing in your city and being known through video games? How would you compare the audience?

AN: It’s different. In our hometown it started off as just a big word of mouth thing. We had twenty guys in the band, so everybody had friends-of-friends. We started a groundswell that way. But when we get out of town, not in New York so much, but when we go to Chicago and Milwaukee and places like that they generally tend to be much younger people. It’s a really big thrill for Bryn and I in that we are meeting kids who are just like us: young video game fans, aspiring musicians, usually males who picked up guitars. They come to us and say, ‘Nobody plays guitar anymore like you guys do!’ or ‘My parents used to listen to music like that!’ It’s just a big thrill for us to meet young kids like that who remind us of ourselves when we were kids.

DS: How does it feel to be looked-up to by the kids, by America’s future?

AN: [Laughs] It’s terrifying! [Laughs]

DS: Do you see parents at the show?

AN: Oh, yeah, oh yeah. Parents with their kids—

DS: That must reduce the crotch grabbing.

AN: [Laughs] Yeah, a little bit of macho posturing. I tell you man, it’s a really big thrill, just to go out and play in towns we’ve never been to. Kids come out and they know all the songs. We’ve had situations where we’ve played New York and girls are in the front row singing along to our guitar solos. Like, wow…we’re on stage playing and we can hear them singing back at us. Something else Bryn and I have noticed is at larger festival shows when we get to the end of our shows we play Push Push Lady Lightning, the kids would just light up and start air guitaring! But not actually playing air guitar, but playing air guitar hero–like, they knew where all the notes were!

DS: Which is a lot different for audiences of many bands.

AN: Absolutely! I can’t imagine other bands having the same experience, because we come from such a unique perspective that a large part of our music is driven by the instrumentals, and that sort of thing.

DS: Your fans are so engaged with your music, far more than most bands have. Most bands they have fans who feel their music speaks to them, but your fans can say, ‘I learned to play guitar on your shit and not on Eleanor Rigby!’

AN: It’s an honor. It’s still unbelievable to me. I had a message from a friend of mine who was at Guitar Center and he heard one of the kids cranking out one of our songs when he was trying out the guitar. To me, it’s like we made it.

DS: At this point of your career, you’re not playing stadiums, but you’re also not playing Otto’s Tiki Lounge on a Tuesday night. When you reflect upon it, what do you think about?

AN: In the past two years, since Bryn and I started this project, we’ve both been playing in bands locally in Boston for years. We had some mixed success, we played large venues in and around Boston. We got to the point where we said fuck it, we just want to have some fun and we’d laugh a lot going over old Ozzy Osbourne stuff we listened to as kids, just giggle about it. Bang Camaro started that way, something for us to do and invite our friends to come sing on it. Now, just two years later, it’s amazing what happens when you stop trying. It’s something not contrived or born of any desire to reach an audience. We just did it for fun, and that spoke to people more than anything else we worked on.

DS: Do you have other areas of your life where you’ve been able to apply that?

AN: [Laughs] You mean as an ethos? Don’t try? [Laughs] You know, not really. I have found the greatest success in the things I have put most of my effort into. This band has been a complete unique experience in that respect, at least in terms of trying to forge a ‘career in music.’ Bryn and I had gotten to the point where we thought maybe this wasn’t the way to go. Bryn was going to go back to his career as a video game programmer and I was just going to find something else to do. So not really, I don’t really apply that in any other portion of my life.

DS: What are some dream projects you’d like to work on?

AN: As a musician, obviously for me it would be to meet and work with some heroes of mine since I was a kid. Like Mutt Lang; he always made my favorite records. At the same time, it has also been a dream of mine to meet people like Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse. Those guys made honest sort of rock n’ roll, for lack of a better comparison, the way people like John Lennon or Bob Dylan would. To me those are the artists of my generation. It would be my dream one just to meet those guys and two just to work with them on some level. I’d also be lying to say that it would just be my dream to take this project with twenty of my best friends and take it as far as we can take it. So far in my life it’s been the most rewarding thing.

DS: In the creative process it’s so difficult to be original today. Everything has been done. Do you ever let that trip you up, the Simpsons Did It problem?

AN: No, not really. I found I would end up falling into that cycle playing in indie rock bands, just trying to come up with the next thing, like Radiohead they stopped using guitars and things like that. Trying to kick the ball forward a little bit instead of kicking it side to side. With this band we don’t get hung up on that. We originally just started it as a celebration of the things we loved when we were kids. We’re not out here trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re fortunate in that when we were putting the project together we wanted that big vocal sound. What set us apart was how we went about doing that. We just invited all of our friends because we didn’t want to multi track everything ourselves. Soon after we had to figure out how to pull it off live, and people would approach and say ‘we heard you have this crazy project with all these people.’ The project grew into the live monster it is out of necessity. We’re not rich people, we don’t have refrigerators and the big tour bus. Speaking of dreams, maybe one day we’ll have a tour bus. For now, we travel in two very smelly vans.

DS: If you could choose your own death, how would you die?

AN: [Laughs] I would want to steal what I heard a mutual friend of ours said. He said when he died–it’s not how he died, but this is what I heard–he said when he’s dead, he wants his corpse to be dressed up like Superman and thrown out of an airplane. I thought that would be fitting. But I’m not ready to think about death, not just yet.

DS: You guys have been described as Metal and Glam rock. What would you describe your sound as?

AN: I would call us anthem rock. We’re really not heavy metal. I think our focus is more on writing great singles, as best as we can make them. Pop music. That’s just something Bryn and I grew up on. We’re big fans of melody and big driving hooks, that sort of thing.

DS: Would you say anthem rock more in the Mötley Crüe vane or more in the T. Rex vane?

AN: I would say half and half. Our influences don’t just stop with hair metal and things like that. We draw on things like Thin Lizzy, Boston, bands like that. Not necessarily virtuosic sort of musicianship, but things that are put together. We like to spend the time when we are writing our songs that we are taking all the extraneous crap out of it. We just want to make good, hook-drive pop music.

DS: Does the war in Iraq affect you artistically at all?

AN: [Laughs] No, not at all. No, you could say I’m just like everybody else. I read the paper and blogs, and I’m just as horrified as everybody else. I’m definitely not a fan of this war.

DS: If you had to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan, where would you fight?

AN: Oh, the fight was definitely in Afghanistan. Iraq was a much different animal.

DS: Are you more inspired by things in nature or things that are man made?

AN: I would probably have to go with nature. I’m a student of science. I have a degree in environmental geology. When I was 19/20 years old I went through all the regular existential questions people that age go through: why am I here and my place in the universe, that sort of thing.

DS: Did you answer any of them?

AN: Oh, God! I play rock guitar in a twenty man band!

DS: That’s important for a lot of people – you see your audience. You’re giving a lot of inspiration to a lot of people. You don’t know who you might be inspiring to pursue music.

AN: [Laughs] Oh, kids, don’t be like me! I would definitely go with nature over man made.

DS: What’s your favorite curse word?

AN: Fuck.

DS: What’s your favorite euphemism for breasts?

AN: Big guns.

DS: Have you used that recently?

AN: Actually, I think I did use that in the last week, and no comment.

DS: I read that you named the band after fast women and fast cars.

AN: [Laughs] Who told you that? No, Bang Camaro were two words out of the English language that were the two sexiest words we could think of. We put them together and they roll off the tongue. Bang Camaro. It says a lot more than it means.

DS: What sort of qualities do you look for in a woman?

AN: I need a girl who is going to make me laugh. I need a woman who is smarter than I am. A woman who will always keep me guessing. Absolutely. Calling me out for my own jerky bullshit. I like a girl who is fiercely independent, knows what she wants, and doesn’t need me.

DS: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

AN: Oh, man, I’m going to get in a lot of trouble for saying Obama. I would probably go with Obama. There’s just something in his rhetoric and his oratory that is a lot more inspiring than Hillary. Hillary, to me, represents not much of a changing of the guard.

DS: What would be the greatest of misfortunes to befall you?

AN: [Chuckles] Oh, if I were to die alone. No, probably one of my greatest fears is injuring or maiming any of my appendages, to be honest.

DS: Do you have any special things you do to make sure you don’t injure or lose an appendage?

AN: [Chuckles] I don’t keep my hands in my pockets when I am running down stairs.

DS: That’s a conscious choice?

AN: Yes, that’s a conscious choice.

DS: What if you are just walking down stairs?

AN: [Chuckles] You can’t realign the stars, man. Shit will happen, shit will happen.

DS: What possession do you treasure most?

AN: That’s a good question. Probably my cat. I love my cat more than anything.

DS: What’s your cat’s name?

AN: Sadie.

DS: Like Sexy Sadie?

AN: Yeah, like Sexy Sadie. That’s exactly what I named her after. Big John Lennon fan, so I couldn’t resist.

DS: What trait do you deplore most in other people?

AN: I’m a lover, not a fighter. Jealousy, greed. But I try to look for the best in everybody. Who knows.

DS: What do you think are the greatest threats to humanity?

AN: Humanity itself. You can typically read anywhere that humanity is a virus, a plague, on Mother Earth. I really think the greatest threat to humanity is not a meteor or comet hurtling toward the planet, it’s us. We’ll be our own undoing. Bad politics, the spread of…oh, man, I could get in trouble…

DS: Who would you get in trouble with?

AN: No, I don’t know who I could get in trouble with. But I definitely think that capitalism is something that having gone unchecked for so long isn’t doing right in delivering civil freedom. It’s not delivering on its promises. Then again, I play in a rock band and people come pay to see me. I understand it works on both levels.

DS: What would be a bigger turn-off in bed: a woman who spoke in a baby voice, or someone who was overly flatulent?

AN: Oh God! I’d go with the baby talk, man.

DS: You’d prefer the baby talk?

AN: No, I would go with the flatulent woman. At least she’s real.

DS: Have you ever been faced with either scenario?

AN: No, I don’t think women should be flatulent.

DS: At all? Not even if she lets out a little giggle afterwards?

AN: Yeah, well, so be it.

DS: What if she was really flatulent?

AN: Like, extremely flatulent? I’d go more for the flatulence. Baby talk…that’s a real boner killer. Sorry, man.

DS: And you’ve never had a baby talker?

AN: No, not since high school.

DS: In high school?

AN: Oh, yeah. She had to go.

DS: What if she was Dutch oven flatulent?

AN: Is it really one or the other? Can I just go gay?

DS: You can always go gay. It’s the new millennium.

AN: Yeah, well, I’d probably end up with a baby-talking overly flatulent man, I’m sure.

Hurricane Emily is second strike for Jamaica

Monday, July 18, 2005

The outer bands of the Category 4 storm Hurricane Emily started to affect Jamaica shortly before 8:00am Saturday. Increasing winds and rain swept the island nation throughout the afternoon as the eye of the storm passed 100 miles off the southern coast. Utility poles were downed and storm debris closed the seaside highway to the international airport. Other roads were reported closed as well.

While islanders did not get through the two storms unscathed, and 4 people were left dead, the Land and Environment Minister Dean Peart told reporters, “Mercifully, Jamaica was spared the worst”.

Buses were sent by officials to southern coastal areas to evacuate residents from the flood prone region, but most refused to leave and preferred to ride it out beside 8 foot waves that pounded areas of the coast line. Wind gusts of 155 mph doubled over palm trees in the capital city of Kingston.

At a southern penninsula seaside fishing villiage, Port Royal residents boarded up and prepared for the worst again, as surfers gathered nearby to take on the challenge of 15 to 18 foot waves. “If I’m going to die, it’s going to be right here,” said a local resident Gordon Murphy, 39, with his 2-year-old son. “What’s next?” he joked, “[Hurricane] Franklin?”

Many shops and businesses stayed open as long as they could, classifying it as another inconvenience despite its near Category 5 strength. Instead of the possible disaster that many prepared for, by late afternoon, Emily had all but disappeared. Light scattered showers in some areas of the island were the only remnant, as residents went about their lives after the second hurricane scare in as many weeks.

Supplies that many stocked for Dennis and Emily may yet be put to use. Many wonder what storms are yet to come. Authorities say this will be one of the most active hurricane seasons in history. Emily was the strongest and earliest to form this year since records, dating back to 1860, have been kept.

Earlier, Emily stuck Grenada on Thursday with nearly a direct hit. A national disaster was called the day after its winds ravaged hundreds of homes and killed at least one man.

Opening A Martial Arts School? Don\’T Forget Insurance For Martial Art

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Opening a Martial Arts School? Don\’t Forget Insurance for Martial Art



It s exciting to start a new business, but you must ensure that you have the right insurance before you open the doors. If you are in the martial arts business, this should be one of the most important measures to have in place. Whether you are opening a Karate school or running Kung Fu classes in a fitness center, you will need to consider the right policy to protect your clients, yourself and your business.

Insurance for martial arts is usually something you will need to organize yourself even if you run your classes in another establishment. Even if the fitness center you are using has their own liability insurance in place, they may not cover your classes and may insist that you get your own private insurance. Never assume that they already have insurance for martial arts in place or that it automatically covers your business.

Accidents do happen and someone can allege that they were injured due to your negligence, resulting in a lawsuit against your business.


A lawsuit for your company could be catastrophic if you don t have the right insurance for martial arts at your fitness center or training school. Your dream of a successful business could quite easily be over before it even starts.

Don t Leave Your Students Safety to Chance during Martial Arts Insurance is Key

You owe it to your students to provide them with comprehensive insurance. Plus, having the right insurance policy is also a great way to attract more business. Martial arts training requires students to trust a trainer; and what better way to get your students to trust you than showing them you care about their safety?

It s easy to find the right level of insurance for your martial arts business, but you should consult a specialist insurance company to get the best policy. This is because this type of insurance policy often involves clauses that are specific for the sport. Never buy martial arts insurance from a company that doesn t usually offer this service as standard.

Find a company specializing in insurance for martial arts that can give you a great deal and ensure that your business and your students are adequately protected. It costs nothing to obtain a quote and it could be the best thing you do for your business this year. Don t get complacent about safety when it comes to martial arts-insurance is key.

Sports and Fitness Insurance are the experts to contact when you need a cost effective and comprehensive martial arts instructor insurance policy. The company is a preferred general liability provider for renowned and respected fitness organizations such as Curves , and ICOA, Independent Club Operators Association. For more information, call 800-844-0536 or

martial arts school insurance


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Air safety group says airport was operating illegally without license when Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 crashed

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Australian air safety group claims that Yogyakarta International Airport was opearating illegally with no license when Garuda Indonesia Flight 200, a Boeing 737, crashed at the airport, killing 16 Indonesians and five Australians.

Flight Safety Pty Ltd had been asked to carry out an independent investigation by an anonymous client after the March 2007 disaster, which occurred when the aircraft landed at excessive speed and shot off the end of the runway. Flight Safety has now announced that they have found Yogyakarta International had been granted a five year license but this would be withdrawn after twelve months if several conditions were not met. Since these conditions remained unchanged, the license effectively voided six months before the disaster, claim Flight Safety. One of the conditions was extension of the runway and provision of an adequate Runway End Safety Area (RESA).

The group adds that it also conducted checks on Solo International Airport and Semarang International Airport, and that these airports also had invalid Airport Operating Certificates. The final report was not released at the time as the client in question felt it ‘too sensitive’, and Flight Safety says that it was rapidly covered up three months later when it leaked in Indonesia.

The group says it notified the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and that they in turn said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) – who assisted in the crash investigation – was in control of the situation. However, Flight Safety claim that when approached, the ATSB denied knowing about it. Allegedly, the ATSB had missed the licensing discrepancy because they only checked the front page of the airport’s license and did not conduct a detailed analysis of the small print.

Flight Safety claim that the Indonesian Director of Aviation Safety told them that the situation had been rectified. However, the group have now conducted a re-audit and say Solo and Yogyakarta airports both remain illegal. They go on to accuse the ICAO, ATSB and Indonesian Director of Aviation Safety of “keeping quiet” and described them as ‘compromised’.

Flight Safety go on to claim that the survivors of the crash and relatives of the deceased have not been informed either, and say that this will have a serious effect on the compensation process and on any insurance claims. Crikey, an Australian news service, also suggested that AU$12 million of aid promised by Australia to help Indonesia improve air safety is also being misused. All Indonesia’s air carriers are currently on the list of air carriers banned in the EU.

An official statement by Flight Safety head Chris Weir concluded “It [the group’s findings] should now be exposed as the safety issues remain unresolved.”

Mardjono Siswo Suwarno of the National Transport Safety Committee, the body responsible for investigating the disaster, denied that Yogyakarta Airport was illegal, saying “At that time [the license] was still valid, but the RESA was not long enough… But still in the [Garuda] case, even if the RESA length was adequate, the plane would have still overrun because the speed was 1.8 times normal speed.”

The final report found that the pilot-in-command, who has been arrested and charged over the crash, attempted to land after fifteen Ground Proximity Warning System activations to tell him he was landing too fast, and says that although a longer runway and full-sized RESA wouldn’t have stopped an airliner traveling at such excessive speed it could have reduced the toll of deaths and injuries.

The directors of Yogyakarta and Solo airports claim that since the re-audit they have taken steps to improve safety and rectify any problems, but have not actually admitted their airports were illegal. Indonesian director general of air transportation Budi Mulyawan Suyitno said that although local budget limitations have prevented some airports from being improved there are no problems currently at Yogyakarta, with improvements including declaration of a RESA for 140 metres of the 2,250 metre runway and stationing Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting trucks at the airport.

UK retailers MFI and Woolworths collapse

Friday, November 28, 2008

Two major retail chains in the United Kingdom — general retailer Woolworths Group and furniture vendor MFI Group — have entered administration. Entertainment UK — which distributes videos and DVDs to retailers and are owned by Woolworths — have also entered administration.

“The boards of Woolworths PLC and Entertainment UK Ltd have concluded that there is no longer any prospect of those businesses being able to operate as a going concern,” said a Woolworths statement.

Woolworths, who sells household goods, music and other items, owns 815 stores nationwide, and MFI owns 111. MFI CEO Gary Favell said he had “secured the future of the MFI business” in September when he led a management buyout, but cracks rapidly appeared. Favell revealed administrator Kroll were to take control of the property division and half the stores were surrendered to the administrators. He also asked landlords to grant a three-month period of no rent for the ‘new’ MFI, which only some agreed to, leaving Kroll to seek payment for the rest.

Now the entirety of MFI is in administration, with MCR as the administrator. “Closing down sales” have been announced by MCR. Analysts predict that while in the short term consumer confidence will be damaged by the collapse, in the middle term it will help the situation as excess competition and capacity are removed. MFI employs 1,500 people.

The administrators for Woolworths and Entertainment UK are consultancy firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. “In the last 24 hours we have received expressions of interest from a number of parties for both the retail and wholesale businesses,” said Deloitte partner Dan Butters. “We are working hard to ensure that any sale of the business, in whole or part, will preserve jobs.” The 25,000 Woolworths employees have their positions safe until Christmas.

Shares in Woolworths have been suspended at just over a penny each. The firm also owns 2Entertain, a DVD publishing joint venture with BBC Worldwide, and book wholesalers Bertram Books. Both are currently operating as usual, although Woolworths is seeking to sell 40% of 2Entertain to the BBC.

“The important thing is in the long run that employees in this company – where the businesses and the shops are not going to stay open in the longer term – can get other jobs quickly,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. “That’s why we’re going to move in immediately to give advice to employees.”

Indonesia warns Australia over West Papuan asylum seekers

Friday, February 3, 2006

Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia has warned that relations between the two neighbors could be “strained” if the Howard Government grants political asylum to a group of refugees from the troubled Indonesian province of West Papua.

The 43 West Papuans, pro-independence activists and their families, arrived on Cape York, Australia on January 18 after a five-day voyage in an outrigger canoe. They were later taken to an immigration detention facility on Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory in the Indian Ocean.

A spokesman for the group says they fear they will be killed if returned to Indonesian-controlled Papua, where a pro-independence movement has been operating since the 1960s.

Jakarta’s ambassador warned of strained relations if they are granted asylum. Indonesia’s ambassador, Teuku Mohammad Hamzah Thayeb, said the group had nothing to fear from Indonesian authorities. Asked if granting asylum to the group would strain Australia/Indonesia relations, Thayeb said: “I would hope it will not, but it certainly would have an effect. That’s why we have to manage this together and find a solution.” President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also guaranteed the group’s safety should they return.

Queensland National Senator Barnaby Joyce, who met with the 43 refugees on Christmas Island, said they appear to have a genuine asylum claim and had been persecuted because of their Christian beliefs. “There are documented cases of members within their families being shot,” he said. “There’s certainly on the record experiences of them being jailed and tortured so I think they would be under risk if they went back,” he said.

The group, which includes seven children, arrived carrying a banner accusing Indonesia of terrorism and genocide in the province. Indonesian troops have been repeatedly accused of rights abuses in Papua province, which was taken over by Jakarta in 1963. Over 100,000 Papuans, one-sixth of the population, have died in military operations.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said, “if they ask for protection we will consider the claim appropriately and if it is appropriate to offer it, we will offer it.”

The leader of the asylum seekers, Herman Wainggai, says the Indonesian military treat indigenous Papuans “like animals”. Mr Thayeb disagreed: “We have changed fundamentally within ourselves,” he said.

Indonesia offered Papua special autonomy in 2001 in an effort to quell unrest from the Melanesian population in the resource-rich area. Mr Wainggai described the Papuan autonomy as a “sham”, and said there have been many reports of the Indonesian military “murdering and raping people, and destroying villages since autonomy came into force.”

Papua controversially became an Indonesia province after a vote in 1969 overseen by the United Nations called the “Act of Free Choice”. The Act of Free Choice was drafted by the UN and gave every adult the right to vote on the issue of independence. However, only 1022 people hand-picked by the Indonesian authorities were allowed to vote. Reinforcing the dubious nature of the poll, the voters gave 100 per cent approval to become part of Indonesia.

Indonesia’s ambassador said there was no reason for the West Papuans to seek asylum as they were not criminals.

The Australian Greens said the Indonesian ambassador’s assurances that West Papuan asylum seekers would be safe if they returned home should not be believed.

“The new Indonesian Ambassador’s assurances about the safety of West Papuan refugees if they are returned to Indonesia are not credible,” Senator Nettle said. “The escalating repression of the independence movement and generalised suppression of the people of West Papua is well documented.”

“The Australian government should not give in to Indonesian pressure,” Senator Nettle said.

Senator Joyce said the group of native West Papuans were Christian, which meant they are ethnically, religiously and politically isolated after an influx of Indonesians to the province.

How Many People Die An Hour Smoking?

By Andrew Collier

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) embarked on a major 50 state anti-smoking effort ( The thrust of the program is to enhance public education and to develop a national anti-smoking policy. Simply stated, the goal is to reduce the death count (and related illnesses) from smoking in the United States. Currently some 444,000 people die annually from direct and indirect tobacco diseases.

Men still dominate the statistics with about 270,000 fatalities per year (averaged between 2000 and 2004); female deaths totaled 174,000 during the same period.

This means that during an average 10-year period, nearly 4.5 million people in the U.S. alone will die prematurely due to the use of cigarettes.

Results globally are equally staggering. According to a study led by researchers at the University of Queensland and the Harvard School of Public Health, around 5 million people died from smoking-related causes in 2000. Men were even more likely than women to succumb to smoking-related diseases. In developing countries, for example, more than 80 percent of deaths were among men.


While these numbers are impressive, consider adjusting them to an hourly time frame. Using an average of 365.25 days per year (incorporating leap years), an average year has 8766 hours. This means that almost 51 people die due to smoking every hour in the U.S. That’s about one person every minute.

Globally, the smoking-related death toll is around 570 people per hour or almost 10 people per minute.

Smoking does more than kill, however. Statistics amassed by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and others show that smoking brings along many other negatives (e.g., reduced quality of life, shortened life spans, loss of productivity, increased sick days, greater risk of heart and lung disease and increased risks associated with pregnancy and childhood illnesses).

In fact, in 2000, the CDC estimates that about 8.6 million people were suffering from at least one chronic disease due to current or former smoking. Many of these people were actually suffering from more than one smoking-related condition – chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.

Thus, the efforts to curtail smoking are based on a solid health footing.

But, the CDC anti-smoking effort provides other insight into smoking across the U.S. Using a “smoking prevalence” index (the percentage of people in each state who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smoke regularly), the CDC found that the region from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi-Alabama Gulf Coast and from the Appalachians to the Mississippi River fared the worst. West Virginia topped the scales at 26.5 percent. But, Indiana (26 percent), Kentucky (25.2 percent), Missouri (25 percent) and Oklahoma (24.7 percent) led the Nation. Utah (9.3 percent) and California (14 percent) had the lowest smoking incidence.

Many of the lowest smoking states used one or more of the stop/prevent smoking strategies that the CDC has outlined in the past. These include increasing the price of tobacco products, enacting and enforcing smoke-free laws, curtailing tobacco advertising and promotion, enacting anti-smoking media campaigns, limiting access to tobacco products and encouraging and offering assistance to smokers to quit.

Further testimony to reducing cigarette use is linked to groups that promote nonsmoking as part of their religion. Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists have much lower rates of lung and other smoking-related cancers than most other groups

Quitting pays generous dividends, too. The CDC notes that the risk of developing most smoking illnesses lowers the longer one quits and younger one is when they do quit. In fact, people who stop smoking at younger ages gain the greatest benefits. Quitting by age 35 eliminates 90% of the risk due to tobacco use. Still, as the CDC notes, “The argument that ‘it is too late to quit smoking because the damage is already done,’ is not true.”

The message is clear – smoking is hazardous to your life; quitting (or never starting) is better for you, your loved ones, your friends and your co-workers.

About the Author: Discover a sure fire way to stop smoking quickly at

The Smoking Answer


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