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Wikinews interviews Amber Merritt Australian Paralympic wheelchair basketballer

Thursday, September 6, 2012

London, England— Tuesday, following her team’s 62–37 win over Mexico in the quarter-finals at the North Greewich Arena, Wikinews interviewed Amber Merrit of the Australian women’s national wheelchair basketball team.

In their next match, the Gliders will face the victors from the United States versus Canada, having suffered their first loss of this year’s Games to Canada on Sunday night by seven points.

((Laura Hale)) I’m excited to see you in London, because you were so fantastic in that interview.

[Wikinews previously interviewed Merrit, and teammates in July. —Ed.]

Amber Merrit: Thank you.

((WN)) Which state are you from?

AM: I’m from WA. [Western Australia —Ed.]

((WN)) You wheel change! What was wrong with your wheel?

AM: I smashed out three spokes. Someone hit me, and I lost three spokes in my chair.

((WN)) was that because you were playing really aggressively against Mexico?

AM: Yeah, or they were playing really aggressive against us.

((WN)) Watching that game it didn’t seem that they were playing that aggressive, in terms of they came in with set pieces; they weren’t doing the full-court press; they didn’t seem prepared for your offensive and defensive tenacity. ((Hawkeye7)) You kept on all holding them out, where they weren’t even getting across the centre line

AM: I think we have a really physical style of basketball where we’re going to press, and when we press we try to stop chairs and make sure they don’t get over that halfway line. They’re going to come out and play as hard as they can against us and sometimes there is that odd mishap where they might smash a few spokes cause they hit us. It happens.

((WN)) You tipped a lot in previous games. You haven’t tipped so much in this series.

AM: No, I’ve managed to keep my balance this time. Or maybe they haven’t hit me hard enough to put me down on the floor.

((WN)) Part of the appeal of wheelchair basketball, and I feel guilty admitting it, it watching you guys tip.

AM: And fall out. It’s embarrassing but I like it.

((WN)) You’ve got your next game coming up, which is going to be against the winner of the United States or Canada later today

AM: We’re not 100% sure yet who that’s going to be.

((WN)) Looking forward to meeting them?

AM: Yeah! Looking forward to coming up against them.

((WN)) Who would you prefer?

AM: I don’t know if I have a preference, to be honest. Whoever its going to be, we’re still going to go out there and play as hard as we can and take it to them as a team.

((WN)) Do you think you’ve been adequately prepared coming in to this, with your tournament in Sydney, your tournament in the Netherlands?

AM: Yeah, I think we’ve come in very well prepared for this tournament. We’ve been together for a while now as a team. Of course we had the Gliders and Rollers world challenge. We also went to Arnheim in the Netherlands for a pre-tournament, and we’ve trained together in Cardiff. And then after Cardiff we came in to London; so we’ve had that time together as a team and we’re doing really well.

((WN)) Does that give you an advantage over other teams?

AM: I’m not sure, because I don’t know what other teams have been doing behind the scenes as their training.

((WN)) Thank you very much.

AM: No worries!

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Trial ‘soon’ for aid worker who facilitated release of Italian journalist in Afghanistan

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

An Afghan doctor, Rahmatullah Hanefi, who works for the Italian non-governmental organization (NGO), Emergency, will go on trial in Afghanistan for his alleged role in the March, 2007 slaying of Afghan interpreter and reporter, Adjmal Nashbandi.

Italian journalist, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, his driver and interpreter were kidnapped by the Taliban in Helmond Province, Afghanistan on March 5, 2007. During the ensuing negotiations for Mastrogiacomo’s release, his driver, Sayed Agha, was killed by their Taliban captors. Mastrogiacomo’s interpreter, Adjmal Nashbandi, was later executed by the Taliban. The release of Mastrogiacomo was controversial and criticized at the time for the exchange of five Taliban prisoners in return. Hanefi mediated negotiations, reportedly, with the Taliban for the release of Mastrogiacomo.

Afghanistan’s ambassador in Rome said Tuesday that Hanefi would be put on trial “soon”. It was not revealed what the specific charges against Hanefi are, but it has been suggested that the offence may be accessory to murder in the death of Nashbandi. “Hanefi’s case will come to trial soon, maybe in a week, and a lawyer will be nominated to assist him,” said Musa Maroufi, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Italy. He added that “no execution will be carried out” against Hanefi.

In April, Emergency closed the three hospitals it operates in Afghanistan. The NGO has denied that Hanefi had anything to do with Nashbandi’s death. In a news update on its U.S. website Monday, Emergency suggested that their international staff were forcibly removed from the hospitals by Afghan authorities.

“Continuing under a pretense of normalcy in this situation would provide services so inadequate as to endanger our patients,” said Emergency in the news update. They have decided “to suspend all activity until conditions allowed for the return of… international staff” and suggested a clarification was required from the Afghan government “concerning intimidating threats” allegedly made by the government.

Emergency is pressing for the release of Hanefi.

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Canada’s Beaches—East York (Ward 32) city council candidates speak
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Beaches—East York (Ward 32). Four candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Donna Braniff, Alan Burke, Sandra Bussin (incumbent), William Gallos, John Greer, John Lewis, Erica Maier, Luca Mele, and Matt Williams.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.


  • 1 Sandra Bussin (incumbent)
  • 2 William Gallos
  • 3 Erica Maier
  • 4 Luca Mele

SpaceX delays Falcon 1 launch again

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SpaceX delays Falcon 1 launch again
Author: RdBXvzh4

11 Dec

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

SpaceX Corporation has postponed the launch of the maiden flight of their Falcon 1 rocket again at their Kwajalein launch facility. Although not as damaging as the previous delay on November 11, this is certainly a significant set back for Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX.

A full engine test was conducted on the rocket, and the launch pad equipment which holds the rocket on the launch pad after engine firing seemed to work as planned. This safety equipment is designed to keep the rocket from causing damage or being destroyed in the event that some equipment malfunction occurs immediately after the rocket engines start. Under similar circumstances with other rockets the entire rocket together with its payload would have been destroyed due to a computer report of malfunction.

The exact reasons for failure were not disclosed by SpaceX, but Elon Musk said on his web site, “I will post a longer update next week, after we have enough time to finish forensics of recent events and formulate next steps.”

China steps up anti-gambling campaign

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China steps up anti-gambling campaign
Author: RdBXvzh4

11 Dec

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Beijing (??; pinyin: B?ij?ng) –Chinese President Hu Jintao is stepping up a government campaign to eradicate illegal gambling in China, detaining over 4,000 gamblers in an effort to clean up the public image of the Communist party.

Cadres and officials within the party have been caught using illicit funds, sometimes embezzled from local, state-run organizations, to gamble at casinos set up in border-towns within North Korea, in Macau, and in other popular gambling resorts outside of the direct control of the mainland government.

To assuage any fears that this latest campaign extends to ordinary working-class citizens, Deputy Public Security Minister Bu Jingfu has announced that ordinary citizens need not worry about being prosecuted for “friendly” games of mahjong. He did not specifically address whether mainland citizens should reconsider visiting the numerous mahjong gaming parlors which dot urban centers throughout the country.

“The whip that is used to beat wolves should not be used to beat sheep,” stated Bu Jingfu.

China allows a “social welfare” lottery, for which citizens can purchase tickets that help to fund social programs. However, this legal form of gambling is mostly favored by lower-income players who don’t have the opportunity to travel to the lavish gaming casinos frequented by the wealthier class of businessmen and party officials who can travel across the border on easily obtained one or two-day visas.

Despite relatively harsh penalties for those who are caught participating in illegal gambling operations, a number of provinces are well-known for hosting high-stakes gamblers in illegal, underground operations that are run on the mainland under the noses of local authorities. To combat these operations on a national level, the Public Security Ministry has sent 13 “inspection teams” to these provinces in an attempt to crack down on these operations.

One historian believes that China’s government, which in its various forms has tried to stop avid gamblers for thousands of years, will have no better luck with its current campaign, than it has in the past.

“It is really hard to get rid of gambling,” said Guo Shuanglin, a professor of history at People’s University in Beijing.

Guo explained, “There were strict laws against gambling in almost every dynasty in China. Take the Song Dynasty, for example, when gamblers were sentenced to death. In the Ming Dynasty, gamblers’ hands were chopped off. Even in the period of the Republic of China, they had a very strict anti-gambling law.”

As far away as Las Vegas, casino operators are seeing a shift in demographics for their most elite players, called “whales”, who are known to bet upwards of US$50,000 a hand. Since the 1980s, Las Vegas has seen a shift from Japanese businessmen to Chinese players, who now make up over 50% of the high-end clientele at some Las Vegas casinos.

Shen Mingming, a Beijing University expert on Chinese gambling, is skeptical that China’s government can sustain a long-term campaign against gambling.

“It means long hours for the police, and it cannot be sustained,” he said. “When the campaign is over, these organizations just quietly come back to life. Can you keep doing these campaigns every few months?”

However, this time China’s government has set up a special telephone number, to encourage citizens to turn in government officials who are embezzling government funds for illicit gambling runs.

China has recently conducted a series of high-profile arrests of corrupt officials who are caught gambling with public funds, two of whom used tens of millions of dollars to fund their gambling lifestyle.

The government has also made one special arrest to show that even high-level officials are not immune to prosecution due to their party position. Cai Haowen, who had been groomed by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, was arrested this month on an overnight train in Jilin (??; pinyin: Jílín) province, while fleeing authorities for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars and losing it all while gambling.

Finally, China is starting to crack down on the easy visa programs which have permitted so much traffic to gambling emporiums outside of mainland government control. The new visa program requires that records be kept of the identity of the visa holder. This new visa requirement has started to have a noticeable effect on some border-town casinos, leaving a number of properties with idle employees and few Chinese customers.

One year on: Egyptians mark anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak

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One year on: Egyptians mark anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak
Author: RdBXvzh4

11 Dec

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Across Egypt hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets for the day, marking exactly one year since the outbreak of protests leading to 83-year-old longstanding ruler Hosni Mubarak’s downfall. The country’s decades-long emergency rule was partially lifted this week; meanwhile, a possible economic meltdown looms and a newly-elected parliament held their first meeting on Monday.

Despite the new parliament, military rule introduced following Mubarak’s fall last spring remains. Echoing the demands from a year ago, some protesters are demanding the military relinquish power; there are doubts an elected civilian leader will be permitted to replace the army.

The brief unity against Mubarak has since fragmented, with Secularists and Islamists marking the revolution’s anniversary splitting to opposing sides of Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square and chanting at each other. Initial demonstrations last year were mainly from young secularists; now, Islamic parties hold most of the new parliament’s seats — the country’s first democratic one in six decades.

Salafis hold 25% of the seats and 47% are held by the Muslim Brotherhood, which brought supporters to Cairo for the anniversary. Tahrir Square alone contained tens of thousands of people, some witnesses putting the crowd at 150,000 strong. It’s the largest number on the streets since the revolution.

Military rulers planned celebrations including pyrotechnics, commemorative coins, and air displays. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces took power after last year’s February 11 resignation of Mubarak.

Alaa al-Aswani, a pro-democracy activist writing in al-Masry al-Youm, said: “We must take to the streets on Wednesday, not to celebrate a revolution which has not achieved its goals, but to demonstrate peacefully our determination to achieve the objectives of the revolution,” — to “live in dignity, bring about justice, try the killers of the martyrs and achieve a minimum social justice”

Alexandria in the north and the eastern port city of Suez also saw large gatherings. It was bitter fighting in Suez led to the first of the revolution’s 850 casualties in ousting Mubarak. “We didn’t come out to celebrate. We came out to protest against the military council and to tell it to leave power immediately and hand over power to civilians,” said protestor Mohamed Ismail.

“Martyrs, sleep and rest. We will complete the struggle,” chanted crowds in Alexandria, a reference to the 850 ‘martyrs of the revolution’. No convictions are in yet although Mubarak is on trial. Photos of the dead were displayed in Tahrir Square. Young Tahrir chanters went with “Down with military rule” and “Revolution until victory, revolution in all of Egypt’s streets”.

If the protestors demanding the military leave power get their way, the Islamists celebrating election victory face a variety of challenges. For now, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi — whose career featured twenty years as defence minister under Mubarak — rules the nation and promises to cede power following presidential elections this year.

The economy is troubled and unemployment is up since Mubarak left. With tourism and foreign investment greatly lower than usual, budget and payment deficits are up — with the Central Bank eating into its reserves in a bid to keep the Egyptian pound from losing too much value.

Last week the nation sought US$3.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF insists upon funding also being secured from other donors, and strong support from Egypt’s leaders. IMF estimates say the money could be handed over in a few months — whereas Egypt wanted it in a matter of weeks.

The country has managed to bolster trade with the United States and Jordan. Amr Abul Ata, Egyptian ambassador to the fellow Middle-East state, told The Jordan Times in an interview for the anniversary that trade between the nations increased in 2011, and he expects another increase this year. This despite insurgent attacks reducing Egyptian gas production — alongside electricity the main export to Jordan. Jordan exports foodstuffs to Egypt and has just signed a deal increasing the prices it pays for gas. 2011 trade between the countries was worth US$1 billion.

The anniversary also saw a new trade deal with the US, signed by foreign trade and industry minister Mahmoud Eisa and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. President Barack Obama promises work to improve U.S. investment in, and trade with, nations changing political systems after the Arab Spring. Details remain to be agreed, but various proposals include US assistance for Egyptian small and medium enterprises. Both nations intend subjecting plans to ministerial scrutiny.

The U.S. hailed “several historic milestones in its transition to democracy” within a matter of days of Egypt’s revolution. This despite U.S.-Egypt ties being close during Mubarak’s rule.

US$1 billion in grants has been received already from Qatar and Saudi Arabia but army rulers refused to take loans from Gulf nations despite offers-in-principle coming from nations including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. Foreign aid has trickled in; no money at all has been sent from G8 nations, despite the G8 Deauville Partnership earmarking US$20 billion for Arab Spring nations.

A total of US$7 billion was promised from the Gulf. The United Kingdom pledged to split £110 million between Egypt and Arab Spring initiator Tunisia. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development says G8 money should start arriving in June, when the presidential election is scheduled.

The African Development Bank approved US$1.5 billion in loans whilst Mubarak still held power but, despite discussions since last March, no further funding has been agreed. The IMF offered a cheap loan six months ago, but was turned away. Foreign investment last year fell from US$6 billion to $375 million.

Rights, justice and public order remain contentious issues. Tantawi lifted the state of emergency on Tuesday, a day before the revolution’s anniversary, but left it in place to deal with the exception of ‘thuggery’. “This is not a real cancellation of the state of emergency,” said Islamist Wasat Party MP Essam Sultan. “The proper law designates the ending of the state of emergency completely or enforcing it completely, nothing in between.”

The same day, Amnesty International released a report on its efforts to establish basic human rights and end the death penalty in the country. Despite sending a ten-point manifesto to all 54 political parties, only the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (of the Egyptian Bloc liberals) and the left-wing Popular Socialist Alliance Party signed up. Measures included religious freedom, help to the impoverished, and rights for women. Elections did see a handful of women win seats in the new parliament.

The largest parliamentary group is the Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, who Amnesty say did not respond. Oral assurances on all but female rights and abolition of the death penalty were given by Al-Nour, the Salafist runners-up in the elections, but no written declaration or signature.

“We challenge the new parliament to use the opportunity of drafting the new constitution to guarantee all of these rights for all people in Egypt. The cornerstone must be non-discrimination and gender equality,” said Amnesty, noting that the first seven points were less contentious amongst the twelve responding parties. There was general agreement for free speech, free assembly, fair trials, investigating Mubarak’s 30-year rule for atrocities, and lifting the state of emergency. A more mixed response was given to ensuring no discrimination against LGBT individuals, whilst two parties claimed reports of Coptic Christian persecution are exaggerated.

Mubarak himself is a prominent contender for the death penalty, currently on trial for the killings of protesters. The five-man prosecution team are also seeking death for six senior police officers and the chief of security in the same case. Corruption offences are also being tried, with Gamal Mubarak and Alaa Mubarak accused alongside their father Hosni.

The prosecution case has been hampered by changes in witness testimony and there are complaints of Interior Ministry obstruction in producing evidence. Tantawi has testified in a closed hearing that Mubarak never ordered protesters shot.

Do you believe Egypt’s current military rulers will allow a peacful transition to civilian rule?
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Hisham Talaat Moustafa, an ex-MP and real estate billionaire, is another death penalty candidate. He, alongside Ahmed Sukkari, was initially sentenced to death for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim. A new trial was granted on procedural grounds and he is now serving a fifteen-year term for paying Sukkari US$2 million to slit 30-year-old’s Tamim’s throat in Dubai. Her assassin was caught when police followed him back to his hotel and found a shirt stained with her blood; he was in custody within two hours of the murder.

The court of appeals is now set to hear another trial for both men after the convictions were once more ruled unsound.

A military crackdown took place last November, the morning after a major protest, and sparking off days of violence. Egypt was wary of a repeat this week, with police and military massed near Tahrir Square whilst volunteers manned checkpoints into the square itself.

The military has pardoned and released at least 2,000 prisoners jailed following military trials, prominently including a blogger imprisoned for defaming the army and deemed troublesome for supporting Israel. 26-year-old Maikel Nabil was given a three year sentence in April. He has been on hunger strike alleging abuse at the hands of his captors. He wants normalised relations with Israel. Thousands have now left Tora prison in Cairo.

Tips For Finding The Best Kosher Caterer In New Jersey

byAlma Abell

Whether it be a wedding, a bar mitzvah, or a special event, food is often the center of attention. When planning a special event, many people seek the help of a kosher caterer in new jersey. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to find the right caterer for the job. Not only does the food need to be superior, but also the caterer needs to be able to carry out all of the kosher laws to ensure there are no issues with cross contamination. With this information, people can have an easier time of finding the right caterer for their special event.

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Before one begins looking for a Kosher Caterer In New Jersey, they need to make sure they know their budget. A caterer will need to know how many people will be attending, what types of food are desired, and the budget one has for the event. Providing this information will allow a caterer to be able to inform their potential client if they will be able to provide the catering services they are looking for, within the budget needed.

A caterer should be able to handle both a sit-down dinner or a buffet style event. For large, less informal gatherings, many people prefer a buffet style event so their guests can choose from a wide variety of dishes. A client should be able to choose from a variety of menu items to help plan their menu to meet their tastes and those of their guests. If a caterer offers very few options, it will behoove a person to seek services elsewhere.

Reading through customer reviews and asking for references can be beneficial in allowing a person to make a sound decision for their catering needs. If a caterer is not willing to offer references or has only been catering in the area a short time, they may not be the best choice.

If you are planning a special event, now is the time to reserve your caterer. Contact exquisite affairs and allow them to discuss your special event so they can help you to make it an unforgettable one. Call them today for more information.

RSA: cautious welcome to Stern Review

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RSA: cautious welcome to Stern Review
Author: RdBXvzh4

9 Dec

Thursday, November 2, 2006

The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) gave what it called a “cautious welcome” to the Stern Review on the economics of climate change.

The leader of the RSA’s CarbonLimited Project, Matt Prescott, agreed that this needed global co-operation, but urged the British government to expand the notion of carbon trading downwards to the level of the individual when drafting the Climate Change Bill.

The RSA has produced the first mock-up of personal carbon trading online. There, members of the public can obtain an estimate of their own carbon ‘footprint’ by entering their gas and electricity consumptions, car and air mileages, on the RSA’s Carbon DAQ web site.

The RSA suggest that a personal target of 5 tonnes of carbon emission per annum should be achievable.

The RSA has a three-year project to investigate the feasibility of personal carbon trading. It has initiated research, conducted open public debates and is co-ordinating various trials.

Personal carbon trading entails allocating to each individual an equal share of the overall sustainable level of carbon emissions. There would be an open market that would enable those who had not used up their share to sell their surplus to those who need, or can afford, an entitlement to emit more than their ration.

Ford offers US$78 million for Romanian auto plant

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Ford offers US$78 million for Romanian auto plant
Author: RdBXvzh4

9 Dec

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ford Motor Company, the U.S. car maker, will reportedly pay €57 million (US$78 million) for a 72.4 percent stake in the Romanian assembly plant Automobile Craiova, a Romanian official said Friday.

“The offer of Ford Motor Company for a 72.4 percent stake is €4.1556 per share or €57 million overall,” said Sebastian Vladescu, head of the State Property Agency (AVAS), after opening Ford’s improved offer. Vladescu added that the contract may be signed on September 12, during the auto show in Frankfurt.

The Romanian government bought back the Craiova-based car maker from Daewoo Motors, in late 2006 for US$51 million. As the Korean company was bankrupt, the government had to pay another $10 million for debts stemming from past loans. Ford is the only bidder for the purchase of the factory.

According to Washington Post, many auto-part makers have set up in the new European Union member country, attracted by cheap labor, favourable tax rates and the rising output of Renault’s Dacia plant. The vice president of Dacia, Constantin Stroe, said that the price Ford offers is not important. “It’s important to have the factory working as soon as possible”, he added. “With this production facility, Romania will become an important auto production center in Europe”, concluded Stroe, cited by HotNews.

Boxing great Muhammed Ali dies aged 74

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Boxing great Muhammed Ali dies aged 74
Author: RdBXvzh4

7 Dec

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Legendary boxing great Muhammed Ali died on Friday aged 74 in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States. A family spokesperson said Ali had been admitted with respiratory problems. The former heavyweight champion lived with Parkinson’s disease for decades, diagnosed in 1984.

Born on January 17, 1942 as Cassius Marcellus Clay, he changed his name to Muhammed Ali after his 1964 conversion to Islam. In his professional career, Ali won 56 out of 61 fights — including 31 consecutive wins. He won the World Heavyweight Championship three times and had also won an Olympic gold medal in the light-heavyweight category.

Often considered the greatest boxer of all time, Ali was the world heavyweight champion in the 1960s and 1970s. His famous fights with George Foreman in 1974 when he won his title back and against Joe Frazier are considered by many as two of the greatest fights in the sport’s history. Ali had also defeated Sonny Liston to claim the championship title.

Ali was also known as a political activist. He came under considerable controversy after his decision to refuse the Vietnam War draft.

He lit the flame in the 1996 Olympics hosted in Atlanta.

His funeral is to be in Kentucky.