Large creature loose in London suburb

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Police organized a search in the Sydenham Park area of south-east London after a local, Anthony Holder, was attacked by a 6ft long black animal while looking for his kitten in his back yard that borders a woodland.

Holder said the animal pounced, knocked him to the ground, and then he was “in its claws for about 30 seconds. Its teeth were out and I tried to defend myself and eventually I got the thing off my body.” Holder was scratched all over his body and suffered swelling and bruising to his hand and the back of his head. He called the police at about 2:15 am while the animal sat in the garden next door.

While Holder was being treated by paramedics, the Metropolitan Police conducted a search of the area. A citizen and a police officer saw the creature, believed by some to be a panther. Another officer also believed he saw the animal and reports it as approximately the size of a Labrador Retriever. The neighbourhood is being patrolled by an armed police response vehicle staffed by officers equipped with rifles and Taser stun guns.

Scotland Yard is currently seeking specialist advice from experts from the RSPCA and London Zoo. A spokeswoman said: “We are trying to establish exactly where the animal may have come from. In the meantime we are asking the public to be vigilant. If anyone does see the animal, do not approach it but dial 9-9-9 immediately.”

People are also being advised to keep pets indoors.

Sightings of big cats have increased in recent years. The notion of a large predator in London was initially dismissed by scientists, but evidence from footprints and droppings has led to other conclusions. The British Big Cat Society estimates 50 to 100 are currently loose across England. Livestock has supposedly been attacked a number of times. Farmers near Burford in Oxfordshire have offered a £5,000 reward for the capture of a large black creature suspected of killing livestock in the area. However, there have been virtually no human encounters.

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Liberal candidate Brian Jackson, Oxford

Monday, October 1, 2007

Brian Jackson is running for the Ontario Liberal Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Oxford riding. 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.

Wikinews interviews academic Simon Li?en about attitudes towards US Paralympics

Saturday, November 16, 2013

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On Thursday, with 110 days until the start of the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, Wikinews interviewed Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership, Sport Studies and Educational/Counseling Psychology at Washington State University Simon Li?en about attitudes in United States towards the Paralympics.

Licen has recently joined the Sport Management Program at Washington State University to develop its sport media and communication research and teaching contents. Originally from Slovenia, he served as the Director of Media and Communications of a WTA Tour event and was a member of the UNESCO Slovenian National Commission. He was also the Team Manager of the Slovenian wheelchair basketball national team.

((Wikinews)) : Why do you think the Paralympic movement has so little visibility in the US compared to other countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and even Canada?

Simon Li?en: Sports in the United States largely reaffirm existing relations of power in society. It emphasizes consumerism, the belief that success always goes to people who merit it due to their abilities, dedication and qualifications, and reinforces, rather than changes, existing ideas related to gender, ethnicity and nationality. Paralympic sport brings attention to athletes who are typically overlooked in American society because the majority of the population does not want to identify with people who are disabled. Although disability is not contagious, interest in disabled sports might put into question the masculinity of the males following it. Disabled athletes also challenge existing relations of power by displaying dedication, hard work and perseverance in different contexts than those most sports fans are accustomed to.
Other countries, including the ones you mention, have stronger social orientations in all aspects of society. Even though legislative support may be less strong than the one provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act, many social institutions including the media are more receptive to this form of diversity.

((WN)) : What do you think the impact will be for the Paralympic movement will be with the Games being televised live in the United States for first time?

Simon Li?en: The impact depends on a number of aspects. One of them is the channels that NBC as the broadcasting rights owner for the United States will use to air the Paralympic Games on. Will they be shown nationally or regionally, on NBC or on any of the company’s multiple cable networks? A second aspect is the parts or hours of the day the Paralympics will be shown. Remember that there is a nine-hour difference between Sochi and New York, and a 12-hour difference between Sochi and the US West Coast. So daytime events will be shown live in the United States in the middle of the night, and evening prime-time events will be shown — indeed live — in the morning U.S. time. So showing the Paralympics live on United States television might turn out to be less glamorous than it appears. A third important factor is the way the event will be mediated: will NBC have its best sports broadcasters following the event after having worked the Winter Olympics? Will they treat and announce the competitions as they do all others — for better and worse? Will they take it as an opportunity to educate viewers about disability and diversity while showing superb athletic performances without engaging in a discourse of pity? All in all, I think this is a terrific opportunity to improve sports coverage in a multitude of aspects; but we will have to wait until after the event to assess to what extent the broadcasters will meet these expectations.

((WN)) : What role should the media be playing in promoting the Paralympic Games? Why does the US media provide so little coverage of the Paralympics compared to other sports?

Simon Li?en: I don’t think the media should be promoting any sports event. I think the role of the media is to inform about the event and to cover it fairly. It is not just the Paralympic Games, or disable sports in general that yield very little media coverage; a recent study has shown that women’s sports only account for 1.3%–1.6% of televised news media. The situation improves considerably during the Olympic Games and prime-time Olympic coverage comes close to equal coverage of both men’s and women’s sport. Outside of that, however, U.S. media coverage is largely limited to the men’s four major leagues, college football and college basketball. Again, the media decide which sports to cover based on their perceived entertainment value and its potential of generating sponsor revenues. The Paralympic Games are complex to understand and its participants hard to identify with because there are less instances of dominating performances and long-standing rivalries, which are concepts that are understandable even to the casual fan.

((WN)) : What role does the fact that the Paralympics are about people with disability competing at sport play in the American public’s reception of the Paralympics?

Simon Li?en: I would speculate that the American public is largely indifferent to the event as it is currently represented in the media. The majority of people are oblivious of the Paralympic Games. They might greet an American medal winner as this would reaffirm the success, supremacy and tenacity of an American representative in a global field. In more general terms, however, the American public chooses to largely overlook disabled sports as the average able-bodied person likely does not want to be represented by, and thus identify with, a disabled person.

((WN)) : Is the fact the US Olympic Committee is the national Paralympic Committee a hinderance or help in the development of the Paralympic movement in the US?

Simon Li?en: In general terms, this is both an opportunity and a risk: it can activate its sizable financial, promotional and media influence to bring attention to the Paralympic movement, but at the same time might choose to push disabled sports to the side in order to accommodate influential sponsors. I am not familiar with the specific work done by the US Olympic Committee in terms of supporting, popularizing and expanding the Paralympic movement so I cannot speculate which way the actual work done by the USOC sways.

((WN)) : What conditions need to exist in the US for Paralympic athletes to get sponsorship similar to their Olympic counterparts?

Simon Li?en: Sport sponsorships are indeed strongly influenced by the media prominence of competing individuals. Individual disabled athletes have already been able to secure profitable sponsorship and endorsement contracts; perhaps the most notable example is Oscar Pistorius who was in this sense a true groundbreaker before falling off the pedestal due to his pending trial. This is even more true when one considers that not all Olympic athletes are able to secure profitable or even exaggerated contacts: an Olympic archery champion is less appealing than an Olympic champion javelin thrower, a female javelin thrower is less appealing than a male sprinter, and a Jamaican champion sprinter is less appealing than an American elite basketball player. Sporadic media appearances, such as those during the Paralympic fortnight, will hardly suffice to land disabled athletes major contracts; an athlete has to be in the constant media and popular spotlights to secure lucrative contracts. Until Paralympic athletes […] [are] able to achieve that kind of media presence, high sponsorships are likely to elude them.

((WN)) : Many countries provide federal money to support their Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Should the US consider this as a way of increasing visibility for the Paralympics, supporting increased opportunities for people with disabilities and increasing the US Paralympic medal count?

Simon Li?en: Focusing on the US medal count will successfully keep the Paralympic Games away from mainstream attention! A focus on the medal count as a means to establish supremacy is typical for American professional sports, and the Paralympics will never be able to beat the Olympic Games or the major leagues at their game. This is why the Paralympic Games should involve a different narrative.
Countries typically allocate governmental support to the more vulnerable groups in society because those who are strong can protect their interests through their vast financial and social means. In this sense, the United States should support participation in the Paralympic Games to promote adaptive sports in general and thus increase sports participation among people with disabilities. People with disabilities are among those who most benefit from participating in sports and physical activity due to their health and social advantage; however, they also have much fewer opportunities for sport participation and often require expensive adapted sports equipment. Public funds should contribute to their sport activity in general, and federal funding of Paralympic athletes could certainly provide an excellent example for local communities. Unfortunately, I fear that even the most progressive congresswomen and congressmen will be [reluctant] to increase that funding given the current federal budgetary situation.

Standard Operating Procedure changes at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In an investigation reported on first by Wikinews, Wikileaks today revealed another chapter in the story of the Standard Operations Procedure (SOP) manual for the Camp Delta facility at Guantanamo Bay. The latest documents they have received are the details of the 2004 copy of the manual signed off by Major General Geoffrey D. Miller of the U.S. Southern Command. This is following on from the earlier leaking of the 2003 version. Wikileaks passed this document to people they consider experts in the field to carry out an analysis trying to validate it. Following this, they set out to assess what had changed between 2003 and 2004; including attempts to link publicly known incidents with changes to the manual.

Wikinews obtained the document and did an in-depth analysis. The American Civil Liberties Union had previously made a request to view and obtain copies of the same document, but was denied access to them.

One of the first notable changes to the document relates to the detainees themselves. Previously they read the camp rules during admission processing. Rules are now posted around the camp in detainees’ languages. The English version of the rules is as follows:

  1. Comply with all rules and regulations. You are subject to disciplinary action if you disobey any rule or commit any act, disorder, or neglect that is prejudicial to good order and discipline.
  2. You must immediately obey all orders of U.S. personnel. Deliberate disobedience, resistance, or conduct of a mutinous or riotous nature will be dealt with by force. Be respectful of others. Derogatory comments toward camp personnel will not be tolerated.
  3. You may not have any articles that can be used as a weapon in your possession at any time. If a weapon is found in your possession, you will be severely punished. Gambling is strictly forbidden.
  4. Being truthful and compliance will be rewarded. Failure to comply will result in loss of privileges.
  5. All trash will be returned immediately to U.S. personnel when you are finished eating. All eating utensils must be returned after meals.
  6. No detainee may conduct or participate in any form of military drill, organized physical fitness, hand-to-hand combat, or martial arts style training.
  7. The camp commander will ensure adequate protection for all personnel. Any detainee who mistreats another detainee will be punished. Any detainee that fears his life is in danger, or fears physical injury at the hands of another person can report this to U.S. personnel at any time.
  8. Medical emergencies should be brought to the guards’ attention immediately.

Your decision whether or not to be truthful and comply will directly affect your quality of life while in this camp.

Of concern to groups such as Amnesty International who campaign for the camp’s closure, or Human Rights Watch concerned about prisoner handling under the prisoner of war aspects of the Geneva Convention, is the fact that policy for newly admitted detainees still allows for up to 4 weeks where access to the detainee by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) may be denied. In addition, guards are not to allow ICRC staff to pass mail to detainees.

A new process has been formed which allows guards to determine whether or not a detainee receives awards, or is punished. The form is called a GTMO Form 508-1 (pictured to the right). According to the manual, the form “is used to determine which rewards the detainee will lose or gain,” but “special rewards” can also be earned, outside of the process. One special reward is time allowed outside. Another special reward is a roll of toilet paper, but the detainee cannot share it with others. Doing so will result in “punishment” and confiscation of the roll. If the detainee already has a roll of toilet paper, he is not allowed to have another.

“Guards need to ensure that the detainee doesn’t receive additional toilet paper when the detainee already has it. The amount given to the detainee will be the same amount as normally distributed to the detainee,” states the manual.

No matter how bad a detainee may act, “haircuts will never be used as punitive action” against them, but they can have hair removed for health reasons. They can, however, be segregated from other detainees.

“If a detainee has committed an offense that requires segregation time, even if a segregation cell is not available, the detainee will receive a shave and a haircut for hygiene and medical reasons. If the detainee is IRFed, the haircut and shave will follow the decontamination process,” adds the manual. Barbers are also part of cell searches.

Despite these changes, a great deal of effort has gone into ensuring the furore over detainee abuse does not recur. Rules governing the use of pepper spray (Oleoresin Capsicum, or OC) appear at an earlier point in the manual with considerable expansion. Infractions such as spitting, throwing water at, or attempting to urinate on guards appear as explicitly listed cases where pepper spray may not be used. Extensive decontamination procedures are included in the document, including immediately calling for a medical check on any detainee exposed to pepper spray. This was not previously present.

As a counter to the clearer instructions on use of pepper spray, Wikileaks asserts that many of the stricter rules for guards (referred to as Military Police or MPs in the 2003 manual) aim to reduce fraternisation that may improve detainee morale and adversely influence any interrogation process. Guards are informed in the manual not to take personal mail and parcels within the detention blocks or at any other duty stations. All electronic devices except issued materiel are prohibited, and guards may face disciplinary action should they keep detainees apprised of current affairs or discuss issues in their personal lives.

Additional restrictions on the detainees’ chaplain are included in the revised document. Wikileaks speculated that many of these changes might have stemmed from the widely publicised case of James Yee. Captain Yee, a West Point graduate, served at the Guantanamo Bay base as a Muslim chaplain to the detainees and received two Distinguished Service medals for his work. Following discovery of a list of detainees and interrogators by U.S. Customs in Florida Yee was charged with sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage, and failure to obey a general order. Eventually all charges were dropped with national security concerns being raised should evidence be released.

The most notable changes surrounding the role of the chaplain include its removal as a permanent position on the facility’s Library Working group and its exclusion from the decision process on appropriate detainee reading material. Wikileaks contacted lawyers representing detainees in the camp to perform their own analysis. Their opinion of the changes were that the library operation had been considerably tightened up. Duplicate books are required for the individual four camps to prevent covert use of books to communicate between camps. Periodicals, dictionaries, language instruction books, technology or medical update information, and geography were additions to the prohibited material. Instructions indicate such books must be returned to the source or donor.

The revised SOP manual makes considerable progress on documenting procedures, even those that are remote possibilities. A lengthy addition details rules to follow in the event of an escape or escape attempt. Laced throughout this procedure is an emphasis on having any such incident fully documented and – wherever possible – filmed. The procedure is explicit in how to recapture an escaped detainee with minimal use of force. One additional procedure covers the admission of ambulances to the main base area. A detailed security protocol to ensure only expected and authorised traffic gains access is included, as is a procedure streamlined to ensure the ambulance arrives on the scene as quickly as possible.

Unchanged from the 2003 manual is the set menu of four ready-to-eat meals (Meal, Ready-to-Eat or MRE) issued to detainees. However, additional steps are to be taken for “MRE Sanitization”; supply personnel must remove anything that can damage waste disposal systems— presumably a military term for toilets. Under normal camp conditions, detainees should be fed hot meals as opposed to MREs, but no details on the variety of menu are included.

Wikinews attempted to get feedback on this. US Southern Command passed a query on to Rick Haupt (Commander, U.S. Navy Director of Public Affairs, Joint Task Force at Guantanamo) who responded that “questions were forwarded along with a request to authenticate the leaked document; a response is pending.” At this time no response to emails has been received from the ICRC or Human Rights Watch.

The Pentagon has requested that the document be removed from Wikileaks because “information with the FOUO (For Official Use Only) label is not approved for release to the public.” They then state that the document can be “made available through a Freedom Of Information Act request through official channels.”

 This story has updates See US military confirms authenticity of Standard Operating Procedures for Guantanamo Bay 

Australia’s Old Parliament House becomes heritage listed

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced on Tuesday that Old Parliament House in Canberra has been heritage listed. It is the 31st entry on the National Heritage List.

The listing acknowledges the role the building has in shaping Australia’s culture and protects it from being modified in any way which could affect its historic value.

Old Parliament House served as the home of Australia’s parliament from 1927 until 1988, when it was relocated to the present parliament house. From 1901-1927, parliament met in Melbourne in the Victorian Parliament House (the state parliament was relocated for 26 years). Before being known as Old Parliament House, the building was known as Provisional Parliament House – as it was intended to be used for 50 years before a permanent building could be built.

In the 61 years the building was used as the seat of parliament, the government changed only seven times, and several new political parties were formed (the Liberals, Anti-Communist Labor Party, and the Australian Democrats).

Mr Howard said the building played an important part in Australia’s political history. “Old Parliament House will always be an important part of our political history with its rich collection of original furniture, art and memorabilia helping to illustrate the story of Australia’s political customs and functions,” he said.

According to Mr Howard, the National Heritage List lists sites which have helped shape the country. “The National Heritage List contains places that have played an important role in the development of our nation, such as Captain Cook’s landing place in New South Wales, Port Arthur in Tasmania and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra,” said the Prime Minister.

The building currently houses Australia’s National Portrait Gallery, and serves as a venue for receptions and exhbitions.

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Libertarian candidate Larry Stevens, Kitchener-Conestoga

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Larry Stevens is running for the Libertarian Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Kitchener-Conestoga riding. 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.

President Bush to limit congressional oversight in PATRIOT amendment act

Sunday, April 2, 2006

President Bush signed the “USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006” into law. In the signing statement, Bush averred that he could withhold information about the administration’s controversial use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act powers and National Security Letters if he deemed that they impaired foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive’s constitutional duties. Lawmakers and Legal experts have questioned the president’s authority to contravene the Congress’s intent in such a way.

The Patriot Act reauthorisation bill specifically mandates the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to audit the administration’s use of investigative authority granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and National Security Letters and requires these audits to be submitted for congressional review.

In the signing statement, President Bush wrote “The executive branch shall construe the provisions of H.R. 3199 that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch, such as sections 106A and 119, in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive’s constitutional duties.”

This follows on the heels of the signing of the congressional ban on torture issued in January of this year, when the President declared that he would view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. A senior white house official told a Boston Globe reporter that “Of course the president has the obligation to follow this law, [but] he also has the obligation to defend and protect the country as the commander in chief, and he will have to square those two responsibilities in each case.” The official added “We are not expecting that those two responsibilities will come into conflict, but it’s possible that they will.”

Lawmakers tried to get a handle on President Bush’s use of signing statements in 2003, by passing a Justice Department spending bill that required the department to inform Congress whenever the administration decided to ignore a legislative provision on constitutional grounds.

Bush signed the bill, but issued a statement asserting his right to ignore the notification requirement.

Katrina raised gas prices higher than ever

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The retail price of gasoline has risen higher than ever in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The losses from the deadly hurricane include the destruction of oil refineries all around the Mexican Gulf area, and resulted in a cut of nearly 11 percent of U.S. refining capacity.

It is estimated that 897,605 barrels of oil production has been curtailed, an amount which accounts for nearly 59.8% percent of the Gulf of Mexico’s total daily output. Since Katrina, 17.1 million barrels have not been produced. There were 122 oil platforms shut down, out of 819 platforms in the Gulf.

The national average retail price for gas was $3.04 on Sunday. This exceeds the previous inflation-adjusted record of $3.03, set in March of 1981.

The survey was published by Trilby Lundberg, who publishes such surveys semi-monthly.

These prices are all “thanks to Katrina,” said Lundberg.

Lundberg also says that prices could drop in the next few weeks, as the hurricane damaged areas are repaired, and less gas is being purchased nationwide because of lowered demand due to higher prices.

Viktor Schreckengost dies at 101

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Viktor Schreckengost, the father of industrial design and creator of the Jazz Bowl, an iconic piece of Jazz Age art designed for Eleanor Roosevelt during his association with Cowan Pottery died yesterday. He was 101.

Schreckengost was born on June 26, 1906 in Sebring, Ohio, United States.

Schreckengost’s peers included the far more famous designers Raymond Loewy and Norman Bel Geddes.

In 2000, the Cleveland Museum of Art curated the first ever retrospective of Schreckengost’s work. Stunning in scope, the exhibition included sculpture, pottery, dinnerware, drawings, and paintings.

BC man is selling the boat from old TV series Gilligan’s Island

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A man named George Schultz in Parksville, British Columbia is selling the boat from old TV series Gilligan’s Island at the cost of $99,000. The cruiser, originally cost about $290,000 in the 1960s.

“There have been a couple of modifications, so it doesn’t look exactly like the original,” said Shultz, a boat broker who’s selling the 36-foot Wheeler Express Cruiser for fellow Parksdale resident Scotty Taylor. “But it’s still the original boat.”

Originally, the boat’s name was The Blue Jacket.

“Just for the show, for a stage name, it was called the S.S. Minnow,” Shultz said. The name was a reference to Newton Minnow, once chairman of the FCC.

“He just liked the boat, he wanted to restore it, it was a nice looking boat, a wooden boat, a classic and he likes classic boats,” said Shultz. “The hole in the hull was actually the least of the repairs – the interior needed a lot more work”.

Someone later stole the plaque on the boat, but the 46-year-old boat still has the round life preserver with S.S. Minnow emblazoned on it and the skipper’s chair.