Ozzy Osbourne’s personal possessions fetch $800,000 for charity

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Ozzy Osbourne’s personal possessions fetch $800,000 for charity

Sunday, December 2, 2007

American heavy metal performer Ozzy Osbourne, who became famous as the lead vocalist for Black Sabbath and later as a solo act, has raised more than US$800,000 for The Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program, founded by his spouse Sharon Osbourne at the Cedars Sinai Hospital, by auctioning off personal items.

A number of the items that he auctioned off over the two day period have been seen on his reality TV show The Osbournes, which featured home life with Sharon, Ozzy and their two children. Amongst some of the higher-priced items were a carved walnut Victorian-style custom built pool table which raised $11,250, a painting from Edourad Drouot which fetched $10,500, a pair of Ozzy’s famous round glasses which raised $5,250 and a dog bed given to Sharon by Elton John which sold for $2,375.

Some more famous items were also amongst the 500 lots offered. Ozzy’s black satin coat, complete with bat-wing cape, raised $3,300 and a hand-painted floral cup used regularly on The Osbournes made $1,625. A bronze plaque of a demon’s head that was regularly seen in its position adorning the front door of their house had been expected to go for $800 to $1,200instead raised $8,750. A wire model of the Eiffel Tower from on the kitchen table sold for $10,000, while skull-covered trainers Ozzy had worn reached $2,625. Bidders came from as far away as Germany to buy what they could from his mansion in Beverly Hills, California.

However, three cars included in the auction failed to attract bidders and did not sell. They were a 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur, estimated at $160,000 to $180,000, a 2005 Cadillac CTS-V sedan estimated at $30,000 to $40,000 and a 1950 Oldsmobile Futuramic 88 Club Coupe previously owned by author Danielle Steel estimated at $40,000 to $50,000. Sharon had earlier said of the cars “We’re not great car people. They really don’t do a lot for us.

Darren Julien, president of Julien’s Auctions, which organised the two-day sale, said “It did very well. It raised some good money for a very worthy cause.”

“For a celebrity garage sale, it was pretty spectacular.,” he went on. He also commented on the fact that there was fierce competition for the many artworks included. “We had Ozzy fans bidding against these sophisticated fine art buyers, which you don’t see every day. For the most part the metalheads were outbidding the art crowd.”

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U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

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U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

November 17, 2017 · Filed under Uncategorized

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The English National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London has threatened on Friday to sue a U.S. citizen, Derrick Coetzee. The legal letter followed claims that he had breached the Gallery’s copyright in several thousand photographs of works of art uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, a free online media repository.

In a letter from their solicitors sent to Coetzee via electronic mail, the NPG asserted that it holds copyright in the photographs under U.K. law, and demanded that Coetzee provide various undertakings and remove all of the images from the site (referred to in the letter as “the Wikipedia website”).

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of free-to-use media, run by a community of volunteers from around the world, and is a sister project to Wikinews and the encyclopedia Wikipedia. Coetzee, who contributes to the Commons using the account “Dcoetzee”, had uploaded images that are free for public use under United States law, where he and the website are based. However copyright is claimed to exist in the country where the gallery is situated.

The complaint by the NPG is that under UK law, its copyright in the photographs of its portraits is being violated. While the gallery has complained to the Wikimedia Foundation for a number of years, this is the first direct threat of legal action made against an actual uploader of images. In addition to the allegation that Coetzee had violated the NPG’s copyright, they also allege that Coetzee had, by uploading thousands of images in bulk, infringed the NPG’s database right, breached a contract with the NPG; and circumvented a copyright protection mechanism on the NPG’s web site.

The copyright protection mechanism referred to is Zoomify, a product of Zoomify, Inc. of Santa Cruz, California. NPG’s solicitors stated in their letter that “Our client used the Zoomify technology to protect our client’s copyright in the high resolution images.”. Zoomify Inc. states in the Zoomify support documentation that its product is intended to make copying of images “more difficult” by breaking the image into smaller pieces and disabling the option within many web browsers to click and save images, but that they “provide Zoomify as a viewing solution and not an image security system”.

In particular, Zoomify’s website comments that while “many customers — famous museums for example” use Zoomify, in their experience a “general consensus” seems to exist that most museums are concerned with making the images in their galleries accessible to the public, rather than preventing the public from accessing them or making copies; they observe that a desire to prevent high resolution images being distributed would also imply prohibiting the sale of any posters or production of high quality printed material that could be scanned and placed online.

Other actions in the past have come directly from the NPG, rather than via solicitors. For example, several edits have been made directly to the English-language Wikipedia from the IP address 217.207.85.50, one of sixteen such IP addresses assigned to computers at the NPG by its ISP, Easynet.

In the period from August 2005 to July 2006 an individual within the NPG using that IP address acted to remove the use of several Wikimedia Commons pictures from articles in Wikipedia, including removing an image of the Chandos portrait, which the NPG has had in its possession since 1856, from Wikipedia’s biographical article on William Shakespeare.

Other actions included adding notices to the pages for images, and to the text of several articles using those images, such as the following edit to Wikipedia’s article on Catherine of Braganza and to its page for the Wikipedia Commons image of Branwell Brontë‘s portrait of his sisters:

“THIS IMAGE IS BEING USED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER.”
“This image is copyright material and must not be reproduced in any way without permission of the copyright holder. Under current UK copyright law, there is copyright in skilfully executed photographs of ex-copyright works, such as this painting of Catherine de Braganza.
The original painting belongs to the National Portrait Gallery, London. For copies, and permission to reproduce the image, please contact the Gallery at picturelibrary@npg.org.uk or via our website at www.npg.org.uk”

Other, later, edits, made on the day that NPG’s solicitors contacted Coetzee and drawn to the NPG’s attention by Wikinews, are currently the subject of an internal investigation within the NPG.

Coetzee published the contents of the letter on Saturday July 11, the letter itself being dated the previous day. It had been sent electronically to an email address associated with his Wikimedia Commons user account. The NPG’s solicitors had mailed the letter from an account in the name “Amisquitta”. This account was blocked shortly after by a user with access to the user blocking tool, citing a long standing Wikipedia policy that the making of legal threats and creation of a hostile environment is generally inconsistent with editing access and is an inappropriate means of resolving user disputes.

The policy, initially created on Commons’ sister website in June 2004, is also intended to protect all parties involved in a legal dispute, by ensuring that their legal communications go through proper channels, and not through a wiki that is open to editing by other members of the public. It was originally formulated primarily to address legal action for libel. In October 2004 it was noted that there was “no consensus” whether legal threats related to copyright infringement would be covered but by the end of 2006 the policy had reached a consensus that such threats (as opposed to polite complaints) were not compatible with editing access while a legal matter was unresolved. Commons’ own website states that “[accounts] used primarily to create a hostile environment for another user may be blocked”.

In a further response, Gregory Maxwell, a volunteer administrator on Wikimedia Commons, made a formal request to the editorial community that Coetzee’s access to administrator tools on Commons should be revoked due to the prevailing circumstances. Maxwell noted that Coetzee “[did] not have the technically ability to permanently delete images”, but stated that Coetzee’s potential legal situation created a conflict of interest.

Sixteen minutes after Maxwell’s request, Coetzee’s “administrator” privileges were removed by a user in response to the request. Coetzee retains “administrator” privileges on the English-language Wikipedia, since none of the images exist on Wikipedia’s own website and therefore no conflict of interest exists on that site.

Legally, the central issue upon which the case depends is that copyright laws vary between countries. Under United States case law, where both the website and Coetzee are located, a photograph of a non-copyrighted two-dimensional picture (such as a very old portrait) is not capable of being copyrighted, and it may be freely distributed and used by anyone. Under UK law that point has not yet been decided, and the Gallery’s solicitors state that such photographs could potentially be subject to copyright in that country.

One major legal point upon which a case would hinge, should the NPG proceed to court, is a question of originality. The U.K.’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines in ¶ 1(a) that copyright is a right that subsists in “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works” (emphasis added). The legal concept of originality here involves the simple origination of a work from an author, and does not include the notions of novelty or innovation that is often associated with the non-legal meaning of the word.

Whether an exact photographic reproduction of a work is an original work will be a point at issue. The NPG asserts that an exact photographic reproduction of a copyrighted work in another medium constitutes an original work, and this would be the basis for its action against Coetzee. This view has some support in U.K. case law. The decision of Walter v Lane held that exact transcriptions of speeches by journalists, in shorthand on reporter’s notepads, were original works, and thus copyrightable in themselves. The opinion by Hugh Laddie, Justice Laddie, in his book The Modern Law of Copyright, points out that photographs lie on a continuum, and that photographs can be simple copies, derivative works, or original works:

“[…] it is submitted that a person who makes a photograph merely by placing a drawing or painting on the glass of a photocopying machine and pressing the button gets no copyright at all; but he might get a copyright if he employed skill and labour in assembling the thing to be photocopied, as where he made a montage.”

Various aspects of this continuum have already been explored in the courts. Justice Neuberger, in the decision at Antiquesportfolio.com v Rodney Fitch & Co. held that a photograph of a three-dimensional object would be copyrightable if some exercise of judgement of the photographer in matters of angle, lighting, film speed, and focus were involved. That exercise would create an original work. Justice Oliver similarly held, in Interlego v Tyco Industries, that “[i]t takes great skill, judgement and labour to produce a good copy by painting or to produce an enlarged photograph from a positive print, but no-one would reasonably contend that the copy, painting, or enlargement was an ‘original’ artistic work in which the copier is entitled to claim copyright. Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”.

In 2000 the Museums Copyright Group, a copyright lobbying group, commissioned a report and legal opinion on the implications of the Bridgeman case for the UK, which stated:

“Revenue raised from reproduction fees and licensing is vital to museums to support their primary educational and curatorial objectives. Museums also rely on copyright in photographs of works of art to protect their collections from inaccurate reproduction and captioning… as a matter of principle, a photograph of an artistic work can qualify for copyright protection in English law”. The report concluded by advocating that “museums must continue to lobby” to protect their interests, to prevent inferior quality images of their collections being distributed, and “not least to protect a vital source of income”.

Several people and organizations in the U.K. have been awaiting a test case that directly addresses the issue of copyrightability of exact photographic reproductions of works in other media. The commonly cited legal case Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. found that there is no originality where the aim and the result is a faithful and exact reproduction of the original work. The case was heard twice in New York, once applying UK law and once applying US law. It cited the prior UK case of Interlego v Tyco Industries (1988) in which Lord Oliver stated that “Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”

“What is important about a drawing is what is visually significant and the re-drawing of an existing drawing […] does not make it an original artistic work, however much labour and skill may have gone into the process of reproduction […]”

The Interlego judgement had itself drawn upon another UK case two years earlier, Coca-Cola Go’s Applications, in which the House of Lords drew attention to the “undesirability” of plaintiffs seeking to expand intellectual property law beyond the purpose of its creation in order to create an “undeserving monopoly”. It commented on this, that “To accord an independent artistic copyright to every such reproduction would be to enable the period of artistic copyright in what is, essentially, the same work to be extended indefinitely… “

The Bridgeman case concluded that whether under UK or US law, such reproductions of copyright-expired material were not capable of being copyrighted.

The unsuccessful plaintiff, Bridgeman Art Library, stated in 2006 in written evidence to the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport that it was “looking for a similar test case in the U.K. or Europe to fight which would strengthen our position”.

The National Portrait Gallery is a non-departmental public body based in London England and sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Founded in 1856, it houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. The gallery contains more than 11,000 portraits and 7,000 light-sensitive works in its Primary Collection, 320,000 in the Reference Collection, over 200,000 pictures and negatives in the Photographs Collection and a library of around 35,000 books and manuscripts. (More on the National Portrait Gallery here)

The gallery’s solicitors are Farrer & Co LLP, of London. Farrer’s clients have notably included the British Royal Family, in a case related to extracts from letters sent by Diana, Princess of Wales which were published in a book by ex-butler Paul Burrell. (In that case, the claim was deemed unlikely to succeed, as the extracts were not likely to be in breach of copyright law.)

Farrer & Co have close ties with industry interest groups related to copyright law. Peter Wienand, Head of Intellectual Property at Farrer & Co., is a member of the Executive body of the Museums Copyright Group, which is chaired by Tom Morgan, Head of Rights and Reproductions at the National Portrait Gallery. The Museums Copyright Group acts as a lobbying organization for “the interests and activities of museums and galleries in the area of [intellectual property rights]”, which reacted strongly against the Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. case.

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of images, media, and other material free for use by anyone in the world. It is operated by a community of 21,000 active volunteers, with specialist rights such as deletion and blocking restricted to around 270 experienced users in the community (known as “administrators”) who are trusted by the community to use them to enact the wishes and policies of the community. Commons is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a charitable body whose mission is to make available free knowledge and historic and other material which is legally distributable under US law. (More on Commons here)

The legal threat also sparked discussions of moral issues and issues of public policy in several Internet discussion fora, including Slashdot, over the weekend. One major public policy issue relates to how the public domain should be preserved.

Some of the public policy debate over the weekend has echoed earlier opinions presented by Kenneth Hamma, the executive director for Digital Policy at the J. Paul Getty Trust. Writing in D-Lib Magazine in November 2005, Hamma observed:

“Art museums and many other collecting institutions in this country hold a trove of public-domain works of art. These are works whose age precludes continued protection under copyright law. The works are the result of and evidence for human creativity over thousands of years, an activity museums celebrate by their very existence. For reasons that seem too frequently unexamined, many museums erect barriers that contribute to keeping quality images of public domain works out of the hands of the general public, of educators, and of the general milieu of creativity. In restricting access, art museums effectively take a stand against the creativity they otherwise celebrate. This conflict arises as a result of the widely accepted practice of asserting rights in the images that the museums make of the public domain works of art in their collections.”

He also stated:

“This resistance to free and unfettered access may well result from a seemingly well-grounded concern: many museums assume that an important part of their core business is the acquisition and management of rights in art works to maximum return on investment. That might be true in the case of the recording industry, but it should not be true for nonprofit institutions holding public domain art works; it is not even their secondary business. Indeed, restricting access seems all the more inappropriate when measured against a museum’s mission — a responsibility to provide public access. Their charitable, financial, and tax-exempt status demands such. The assertion of rights in public domain works of art — images that at their best closely replicate the values of the original work — differs in almost every way from the rights managed by the recording industry. Because museums and other similar collecting institutions are part of the private nonprofit sector, the obligation to treat assets as held in public trust should replace the for-profit goal. To do otherwise, undermines the very nature of what such institutions were created to do.”

Hamma observed in 2005 that “[w]hile examples of museums chasing down digital image miscreants are rare to non-existent, the expectation that museums might do so has had a stultifying effect on the development of digital image libraries for teaching and research.”

The NPG, which has been taking action with respect to these images since at least 2005, is a public body. It was established by Act of Parliament, the current Act being the Museums and Galleries Act 1992. In that Act, the NPG Board of Trustees is charged with maintaining “a collection of portraits of the most eminent persons in British history, of other works of art relevant to portraiture and of documents relating to those portraits and other works of art”. It also has the tasks of “secur[ing] that the portraits are exhibited to the public” and “generally promot[ing] the public’s enjoyment and understanding of portraiture of British persons and British history through portraiture both by means of the Board’s collection and by such other means as they consider appropriate”.

Several commentators have questioned how the NPG’s statutory goals align with its threat of legal action. Mike Masnick, founder of Techdirt, asked “The people who run the Gallery should be ashamed of themselves. They ought to go back and read their own mission statement[. …] How, exactly, does suing someone for getting those portraits more attention achieve that goal?” (external link Masnick’s). L. Sutherland of Bigmouthmedia asked “As the paintings of the NPG technically belong to the nation, does that mean that they should also belong to anyone that has access to a computer?”

Other public policy debates that have been sparked have included the applicability of U.K. courts, and U.K. law, to the actions of a U.S. citizen, residing in the U.S., uploading files to servers hosted in the U.S.. Two major schools of thought have emerged. Both see the issue as encroachment of one legal system upon another. But they differ as to which system is encroaching. One view is that the free culture movement is attempting to impose the values and laws of the U.S. legal system, including its case law such as Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., upon the rest of the world. Another view is that a U.K. institution is attempting to control, through legal action, the actions of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

David Gerard, former Press Officer for Wikimedia UK, the U.K. chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, which has been involved with the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest to create free content photographs of exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum, stated on Slashdot that “The NPG actually acknowledges in their letter that the poster’s actions were entirely legal in America, and that they’re making a threat just because they think they can. The Wikimedia community and the WMF are absolutely on the side of these public domain images remaining in the public domain. The NPG will be getting radioactive publicity from this. Imagine the NPG being known to American tourists as somewhere that sues Americans just because it thinks it can.”

Benjamin Crowell, a physics teacher at Fullerton College in California, stated that he had received a letter from the Copyright Officer at the NPG in 2004, with respect to the picture of the portrait of Isaac Newton used in his physics textbooks, that he publishes in the U.S. under a free content copyright licence, to which he had replied with a pointer to Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp..

The Wikimedia Foundation takes a similar stance. Erik Möller, the Deputy Director of the US-based Wikimedia Foundation wrote in 2008 that “we’ve consistently held that faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works which are nothing more than reproductions should be considered public domain for licensing purposes”.

Contacted over the weekend, the NPG issued a statement to Wikinews:

“The National Portrait Gallery is very strongly committed to giving access to its Collection. In the past five years the Gallery has spent around £1 million digitising its Collection to make it widely available for study and enjoyment. We have so far made available on our website more than 60,000 digital images, which have attracted millions of users, and we believe this extensive programme is of great public benefit.
“The Gallery supports Wikipedia in its aim of making knowledge widely available and we would be happy for the site to use our low-resolution images, sufficient for most forms of public access, subject to safeguards. However, in March 2009 over 3000 high-resolution files were appropriated from the National Portrait Gallery website and published on Wikipedia without permission.
“The Gallery is very concerned that potential loss of licensing income from the high-resolution files threatens its ability to reinvest in its digitisation programme and so make further images available. It is one of the Gallery’s primary purposes to make as much of the Collection available as possible for the public to view.
“Digitisation involves huge costs including research, cataloguing, conservation and highly-skilled photography. Images then need to be made available on the Gallery website as part of a structured and authoritative database. To date, Wikipedia has not responded to our requests to discuss the issue and so the National Portrait Gallery has been obliged to issue a lawyer’s letter. The Gallery remains willing to enter into a dialogue with Wikipedia.

In fact, Matthew Bailey, the Gallery’s (then) Assistant Picture Library Manager, had already once been in a similar dialogue. Ryan Kaldari, an amateur photographer from Nashville, Tennessee, who also volunteers at the Wikimedia Commons, states that he was in correspondence with Bailey in October 2006. In that correspondence, according to Kaldari, he and Bailey failed to conclude any arrangement.

Jay Walsh, the Head of Communications for the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the Commons, called the gallery’s actions “unfortunate” in the Foundation’s statement, issued on Tuesday July 14:

“The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. To that end, we have very productive working relationships with a number of galleries, archives, museums and libraries around the world, who join with us to make their educational materials available to the public.
“The Wikimedia Foundation does not control user behavior, nor have we reviewed every action taken by that user. Nonetheless, it is our general understanding that the user in question has behaved in accordance with our mission, with the general goal of making public domain materials available via our Wikimedia Commons project, and in accordance with applicable law.”

The Foundation added in its statement that as far as it was aware, the NPG had not attempted “constructive dialogue”, and that the volunteer community was presently discussing the matter independently.

In part, the lack of past agreement may have been because of a misunderstanding by the National Portrait Gallery of Commons and Wikipedia’s free content mandate; and of the differences between Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia Commons, and the individual volunteer workers who participate on the various projects supported by the Foundation.

Like Coetzee, Ryan Kaldari is a volunteer worker who does not represent Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Commons. (Such representation is impossible. Both Wikipedia and the Commons are endeavours supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, and not organizations in themselves.) Nor, again like Coetzee, does he represent the Wikimedia Foundation.

Kaldari states that he explained the free content mandate to Bailey. Bailey had, according to copies of his messages provided by Kaldari, offered content to Wikipedia (naming as an example the photograph of John Opie‘s 1797 portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose copyright term has since expired) but on condition that it not be free content, but would be subject to restrictions on its distribution that would have made it impossible to use by any of the many organizations that make use of Wikipedia articles and the Commons repository, in the way that their site-wide “usable by anyone” licences ensures.

The proposed restrictions would have also made it impossible to host the images on Wikimedia Commons. The image of the National Portrait Gallery in this article, above, is one such free content image; it was provided and uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence, and is thus able to be used and republished not only on Wikipedia but also on Wikinews, on other Wikimedia Foundation projects, as well as by anyone in the world, subject to the terms of the GFDL, a license that guarantees attribution is provided to the creators of the image.

As Commons has grown, many other organizations have come to different arrangements with volunteers who work at the Wikimedia Commons and at Wikipedia. For example, in February 2009, fifteen international museums including the Brooklyn Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum established a month-long competition where users were invited to visit in small teams and take high quality photographs of their non-copyright paintings and other exhibits, for upload to Wikimedia Commons and similar websites (with restrictions as to equipment, required in order to conserve the exhibits), as part of the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest.

Approached for comment by Wikinews, Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, said “It’s pretty clear that these images themselves should be in the public domain. There is a clear public interest in making sure paintings and other works are usable by anyone once their term of copyright expires. This is what US courts have recognised, whatever the situation in UK law.”

The Digital Britain report, issued by the U.K.’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport in June 2009, stated that “Public cultural institutions like Tate, the Royal Opera House, the RSC, the Film Council and many other museums, libraries, archives and galleries around the country now reach a wider public online.” Culture minster Ben Bradshaw was also approached by Wikinews for comment on the public policy issues surrounding the on-line availability of works in the public domain held in galleries, re-raised by the NPG’s threat of legal action, but had not responded by publication time.

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Australia/2006

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Australia/2006

November 15, 2017 · Filed under Uncategorized

Contents

  • 1 January
  • 2 February
  • 3 March
  • 4 April
  • 5 May
  • 6 June
  • 7 July
  • 8 August
  • 9 September
  • 10 October
  • 11 November
  • 12 December

[edit]

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Turkish ship on fire off Croatia

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Turkish ship on fire off Croatia

November 13, 2017 · Filed under Uncategorized

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Croatia’s sea and transport ministry said the UND Adriyatik, a Turkish freight ship caught fire in the Adriatic Sea 13 nautical miles west of the town of Rovinj on the early morning hours of February 6, 2008. An SOS was launched at 4.04 local time. It said that the 193-metre long ship was sailing from Istanbul in Turkey to Trieste in Italy and was carrying 200 trucks and nine tons of dangerous material, in addition to between 100 and 200 tons of ship fuel, causing fears of environmental damage. An official said Croatian fire-fighting planes and ships were trying to extinguish the blaze. As the fire started inside the ship, there was no way of extinguishing it from the outside. The ship’s 22 crew members and nine passengers were rescued by the Greek ship Ikarus Palace that was sailing nearby and were on their way to Venice.

There were fears of an explosion if the fire was to reach the fuel tanks. Also, the water currents were pushing the ship towards the Croatian coast. However, reports said the fire was diminishing by the end of the day.

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Pakistani military launches ground offensive against Taliban and al-Qaeda

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Pakistani military launches ground offensive against Taliban and al-Qaeda

November 9, 2017 · Filed under Uncategorized

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pakistani officials say the military has launched its much anticipated ground offensive against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the South Waziristan tribal region. Fierce fighting has broken out and dozens of casualties are reported on both sides.

This mountainous district forms part of the Afghan border, which United States officials call the most dangerous place in the world. It is considered to be a stronghold for the Taliban. An attack by US drones on this area killed the former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud and it shelters the new leader Hakimullah Mehsud. It is also has training camps for suicide bombers. The US has put pressure on the Pakistani government to deal with militancy in the area.

30,000 troops which had been moved into the area over the past few months moved out of their bases in and around South Waziristan on Saturday, hours after top military and political leaders were briefed by army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayanimain in the capital, Islamabad. The troops advanced north towards the Mehsud stronghold of Makeen, west towards Kunigaram, Saam and Baddar, and east towards Kotkai, Spinkai Raghzai.

Pakistan has experienced a wave of terror attacks, including suicide blasts targeting international and security organizations, coordinated attacks around the country’s cultural center, Lahore, and an assault on the army’s headquarters near Islamabad. Some 175 people have died in the past two weeks. The government has blamed the Pakistani Taliban, which is based in South Waziristan, for the violence.

“The recent upsurge of terror incidents in the country were condemned and it was agreed that these elements pose a serious threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the state […] In the given circumstances, the national consensus is reaffirmed to establish and maintain the writ of the state to weed out these elements,” said Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

these elements pose a serious threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the state

Hours ahead of Saturday’s offensive, Pakistani authorities imposed a curfew and turned off mobile phone service in parts of South Waziristan in the district of Wana, as well as in Shakai and Tiarza.

Despite the military’s superiority in numbers, former security chief of the tribal regions, Mahmood Shah, told the Voice of America (VOA) news agency it would not be an easy battle. “This 30,000 against 10,000 is a conventional battle,” he said. “The militants do not fight conventional battles.” He also said he expects the military will face an enemy deeply entrenched in the mountainous and remote region. He also cautions that militants will likely launch suicide attacks elsewhere.

Top army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas has stated that the offensive could last up to two months, but that because of impending climatic conditions they would try to complete the attack by snowfall. A formal announcement on the start of the operation is expected by Prime Minister Gilani.

Officials have said that four soldiers were wounded during clashes and that remote-controlled bomb attacks killed two soldiers in North Waziristan and one in South Waziristan. The three soldiers’ bodies have been taken to Ramzak. There are also unconfirmed reports of militant deaths.

A senior military official has said that initially the objective is to establish footholds, but that they would mobilise three divisions of the military, paramilitary and police, with the final total rising up to 60,000 troops. According to a senior government official in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt, the objective is to remove all militants from the area. He also said that “[t]his has been in the works for a long time. It was only a question of timing and the timing was decided. Troops were in place and they moved in.”

This is not the first time the military has launched an offensive in the tribal region. But those previous operations were not successful, mainly because militants killed sympathetic tribal leaders and opposition political parties refused to offer their support.

Experts estimate the number of militants between 10,000 and 12,000 from the Tehreek-e-Taliban movement in South Waziristan and up to 25,000 across Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt, with up to 5,000 Uzbek fighters supporting the Taliban.

For the past several months since the anti-Taliban offensive in and around Swat Valley, the military has built up its forces around South Waziristan.

Manuel Bessler, head of the United Nations’s Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan, told Voice of America that many civilians have fled the area. “We had IDPs, internally displaced people, since May about 77,000, up to 80,000,” he said. “Now with this more intense fighting and military operation inside [South] Waziristan, we have a daily outflow of 70 to 100 families from the area.” Official figures put at 90,000 the people displaced from South Waziristan since August.

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Truck bomb kills at least 80 in Afghan capital city center

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Truck bomb kills at least 80 in Afghan capital city center

November 9, 2017 · Filed under Uncategorized

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In what Afghan president Ashraf Ghani called “a crime against humanity,” earlier this morning, local time, a septic tanker truck filled with explosives detonated not far from the German embassy in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan area, during the city’s morning commute. According to the country’s health ministry, at least 83 bodies have been found and over 450 have been wounded. The ministry’s spokesperson, Ismail Kawasi, said most of the victims were civilians, including children.

It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is

“The attack demonstrates a complete disregard for civilians and reveals the barbaric nature of the enemy faced by the Afghan people,” Ghani said in an official statement. “The terrorists, even in the holy month of Ramadan, the month of goodness, blessing and prayer, are not stopping the killing of our innocent people,” he said. General John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan congratulated city security forces for preventing the truck from coming any closer to important government buildings and embassies.

This attack was unusual, though not unheard of, because of the sheer volume of the bomb involved. According to Kabul’s police chief, General Hassan Shah Frogh, “The blast was so huge that it dug a big crater as deep as four meters” (13 feet) and it damaged buildings as far as one mile (1.2 km) away.

Though an initial report by Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish claimed the site of the detonation as near one of the gates to the Afghan Presidential Palace, it was actually closer to the German embassy, which sustained considerable damage, according to NBC. Germany currently has more than 950 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and helped the Afghan security personnel in their training. “It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is,” said police spokesperson Basir Mujahid.

The Taliban has denied any association with this attack. Western countries have been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for about 15 years, including the U.S., Germany, and Britain, but many of these countries withdrew much of their forces before 2015. Since then, the Taliban has come to control about 40% of Afghanistan, per U.S. estimates.

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Indonesian anti-corruption chief convicted of murder

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Indonesian anti-corruption chief convicted of murder

November 8, 2017 · Filed under Uncategorized

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Indonesian court has convicted the former head of the country’s anti-corruption agency of murder. The prosecution of Antasari Azhar and three others has been controversial, with some fearing the so-called “Judicial Mafia” played a role.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) already saw a proven plot to discredit it and frame its senior members. Shortly after Azhar’s arrest in May last year police came to take away Bibit Rianto and Chandra Hamzah, two deputy commissioners, to face trial for corruption. The trial, instead, unveiled a plot to convict the men of offences they had not committed. Protests in the street ensued, and locals gave corrupt officials the joint nickname of the “Judicial Mafia”.

The scandal resulted in the resignations of a chief detective and a deputy attorney general; the KPK had begun probing the attorney general’s office and that of the national police. During Azhar’s time as chair the KPK has exposed bribery at the former and prosecuted an in-law relative of the president during the country’s election preparations, with a jail sentence being the result.

The defendants had claimed political elements orchestrated a conspiracy to see the quartet convicted. The judges disagreed, with judge Herri Swantoro telling the court, “Defendant Antasari Azhar has been legitimately proven guilty of participating in persuading the carrying out of a premeditated murder.” The court’s judgement ran to 179 pages.

The case saw the four accused of plotting the March 2009 murder of tycoon Nasruddin Zulkarnaen, shot dead in his car by a motorbike assassin in Jakarta. Zulkarnaen was Azhar’s golfing partner and the businessman was alleged by the prosecution to have been blackmailing the KPK leader, who is a former prosecutor.

Azhar is alleged to have had an affair with one of Zulkarnaen’s wives, a golf caddie. With Zulkarnaen threatening to inform the press and parliament, Azhar is alleged to have plotted murder with several other officials. Police commissioner Wiliardi Wizar was accused of locating the assassins used; he claimed his senior had ordered him to testify he had been told by Azhar to kill Zulkarnaen.

Media mogul Sigid Haryo Wibisono stood accused of financing the contract killing, and businessman Jerry Hermawan Lo of arranging a meeting with the gunmen. All three were convicted alongside Azhar, who received an eighteen-year prison sentence. Wizar was jailed for twelve years, Wibisono for fifteen and Lo for five. All intend to appeal the verdicts.

One person who feels the court got it wrong is a human rights lawyer who defended Bibit and Chandra. “I think that this is all still a mystery,” said Taufik Basari. “I don’t think the judge had all the necessary facts to warrant a verdict of eighteen years.”

Despite the conviction of his relative, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono retained the presidency last June by a landslide majority. Originally elected in 2004, Yudhoyono has used an anti-corruption stance in his campaigns, heaping praise upon the KPK which Azhar was head of from December 2007 until his arrest.

The four new convicts join five men convicted of the murder in December. Alleged to have comprised the gang behind the shooting, they received sentences varying from seventeen to eighteen years imprisonment.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Progessive Conservative candidate Tyler Currie, Trinity-Spadina

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Progessive Conservative candidate Tyler Currie, Trinity-Spadina

November 7, 2017 · Filed under Uncategorized

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tyler Currie is running as an Progressive Conservative candidate in the Ontario provincial election, in the riding of Trinity-Spadina. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

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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No hotel previously on site of proposed Buffalo, N.Y. hotel location

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No hotel previously on site of proposed Buffalo, N.Y. hotel location

November 7, 2017 · Filed under Uncategorized

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Buffalo, New York — The Common Council requested on Tuesday that a picture be found on what many thought was the site of a previous hotel.

The Proposed Elmwood Village Hotel would be placed on the intersection of Elmwood and Forest. It was suspected by residents and business owners in the area that hotel once stood in the same spot.

The Elmwood Village hotel is a proposed development by Savarino Construction Services Corp. In order for the project to proceed, at least five buildings (1119-1121 Elmwood) would need to be demolished. All five houses are currently occupied by businesses and residents.

After some research, a freelance journalist writing for Wikinews was able to determine that there was never a hotel on the proposed Elmwood Village Hotel site. However; there was a temporary hotel located on the northeast corner of Elmwood and Forest.

Buffalo was the host of the Pan-American Exposition from May 1 until November 2, 1901. It was a fair designed to feature the latest in technology, including electricity. There was a midway, athletic events, and had African, Eskimo, and Mexican villages. However; what is likely the most famous event that took place at the exposition was the assassination of then President William McKinley on September 6, 1901. He was shot by Leon Czolgosz just outside the Temple of Music and died eight days later while in the home of John Milburn on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Just a short time later, Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated on September 14, 1901 at the Wilcox House on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Nearly eight million people attended the exposition.

During that time several hotels and rooming houses were built around the exposition including The Elmwood at 717 Elmwood, the Hotel Elmhurst at Forest and Lincoln Parkway, Hotel Gibbs 1005-1021 Elmwood, the R. Palmerton Merritt at 441 Forest and The Norman at 422 Forest. None of these hotels or rooming houses exist today.

Probably the most famous hotel that was built during the exposition was the Statler’s Pan-American Hotel built by Ellsworth Milton Statler A freelance journalist writing for Wikinews has obtained the only known reproduction photo of the hotel [pictured at the top]. The hotel stood on the northeast corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo, had 2,100 sleeping rooms and accommodations for 5,000. At the time, the Statler was the largest hotel [based on the number of rooms] ever constructed. It was also the largest temporary hotel. It was three stories high, plastered on the inside, made mostly of wood and was covered with ornamental staff on the outside, which made it semi-fireproof. Every room was an outside room and was well lighted and ventilated. It was located within one block of the exposition’s main entrance.

The Statler was built for only one thing, the exposition. Work began in 1900 and finished just before the beginning of the exposition. When the exposition ended in November, the hotel was taken down.

Maps from 1894 show that there was no hotel, let alone any buildings or houses on the intersection. However; research did show that the homes 1119-1121 Elmwood, the buildings that would be demolished to build the Elmwood Village Hotel, were built sometime before 1915 but were not on the intersection prior to 1902.

Based on research conducted at the Buffalo Historical Society, it was concluded that between the years of 1890 and 1902, no other major hotel existed in the area. In fact, research had shown that almost every hotel built in the area, existed only during the time of the exposition.

Research also indicated a hotel or a rooming house at 1089 Elmwood around 1901-1903. The only known name of the hotel was the John C. Hill Hotel. The hotel was in the house now called the Atwater House. The house was the first house to be built on the east side of the block.

The Atwater House is currently vacant and owner Pano Georgiadis wants to demolish it to expand his restaurant. The house was built by 1894 and the original owner and builder of the house is currently unknown. Its earliest known occupant was Edward Atwater who in 1862 founded the oil refinery company of Atwater & Hawes in Buffalo. The site of this company was recently uncovered in the Canal District during an archeological dig.

At the moment, current research does not show any connection between the two men.

The exposition was a commercial failure and what profit Statler did make on the hotel, went to build another temporary hotel for the 1904 St. Louis Exhibition. That hotel was successful and the profit made from it was used to build the first permanent Statler Hotel at 107 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. The hotel is no longer in operation, but small offices are currently operating in parts of the building.

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Scottish judge criticises medical care of murdered baby

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Scottish judge criticises medical care of murdered baby

November 5, 2017 · Filed under Uncategorized

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A judge in the High Court in Aberdeen, Scotland has criticised the care doctors gave to baby Alexis Matheson. Lord Uist made the comments while sentencing Mark Simpson, who was yesterday convicted of murdering the six-week-old girl.

Simpson, 29, will serve at least twenty years of his life sentence after he attacked Alexis — the child of his then-girlfriend Ilona Sheach, who he blamed for Alexis’s wounds — over the course of a month. The child suffered broken ribs and brain damage. Lord Uist said staff at Woodside Medical Group might have been able to prevent the death but failed to realise the baby was being hurt deliberately.

Whether the death of baby Alexis could have been prevented had she been so referred is a matter which, in my opinion, merits a very full inquiry

Sheach had initially been unable to get an appointment at Aberdeen-based Woodside for her daughter; instead, Dr Mohammed Athar spoke on the phone with Sheach and prescribed three drugs without seeing the infant. When she did see a doctor the following week despite being, said Lord Uist, “seriously concerned” for Alexis’s health, the doctor she saw — Linda Mackay — believed Sheach’s explanation the baby was constipated. She felt Alexis’s blood-red eyes were due to straining; a consultant neurosurgeon testified at trial that this did not explain the subconjunctival haemorrhages in the eyes.

That consultant felt a referral to a paediatrician would have been approrpiate. A consultant paediatrician told the court if Dr Mckay had phoned one Alexis would have been urgently hospitalised. These circumstances have led to calls for legislative changes, according to The Scotsman, which compared the death to the recent Baby P case in neighbouring England. Lord Uist also made this comparison, saying “Scottish health authorities have to treat this case with a similar degree of importance and urgency” to “[t]he Baby P case down south”.

Lord Uist was “very disturbed” that “nothing was done” following Dr Mackay’s assessment. He also criticised the delay in seeing a doctor, saying “[i]t is my opinion the appointments system operated at this surgery may require urgent review so as to ensure children requiring urgent attention receive it by being seen by a doctor.”

He continued “[w]hether the death of baby Alexis could have been prevented had she been so referred is a matter which, in my opinion, merits a very full inquiry. The training of GPs, and also health visitors, to detect signs of non-accidental injury may be a matter that requires further consideration.”

The same day as these comments, Crown Office announced that a fatal accident inquiry will occur. “These are very serious criticisms by Lord Uist of the way the health services operated,” said Scottish Conservatives health spokesman Murdo Fraser. “Clearly, there were serious failings in relation to this baby’s treatment and lessons have to be learned from this case.”

The health board stated “NHS Grampian and the Woodside Medical Practice would like to extend their condolences to Alexis’s family. We understand that Lord Uist has issued a statement that it is critical of perceived failings in the care given to Alexis. We will consider these comments very carefully.”

The Scottish Government has also taken note. “We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Alexis Matheson,” according to a spokeswoman. “We continue to monitor the situation very closely, and will await the findings of the fatal accident inquiry. Following this we will work with the health board to determine any necessary changes and ensure that any lessons are learned.”

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