Dec 10 2017

Mass wedding held against racism in Belgium

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

When Wouter Van Bellingen became the first black registrar in Belgium, he knew there would be negative reactions, but he admitted that he didn’t expect them to be “so direct, so soon.” In February, three couples refused to pledge their wedding vows in front of the first black alderman of the city of Sint-Niklaas, because of the colour of his skin. After the racist incident, Van Bellingen told himself: “If people don’t want to marry, then that’s not my problem, it’s the problem of those people.”

But then someone gave him the idea to react with a positive signal against racial discrimination. Together with local NGOs and the Center for Equal Opportunities and against Racial Discrimination, he decided to organise a multicultural group marriage happening to, as mayor of Sint-Niklaas Freddy Willockx describes it, “forge this stupid racist behaviour into an unparallelled positive signal against racism and for tolerance.”


  • 1 A positive signal against racism
  • 2 It started small
  • 3 The couples
  • 4 Multicultural activities during the event
  • 5 The 5 challenges
  • 6 The event in pictures
  • 7 Related news

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Dec 10 2017

NASA says Martian soil could sustain life

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

The scientists behind the Mars Phoenix Lander project announced that the soil on Mars was more alkaline than expected and could sustain life.

Scientists at NASA or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration claimed that they were “flabbergasted” by their discovery on the possibility that life could grow on Martian soil.

“It is the type of soil you would probably have in your back yard, you know, alkaline. You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well. … It is very exciting for us,” said Sam Kounaves, the lead wet chemist at NASA.

The project did not elaborate any further if there was indeed life on Mars, down to the microbe level and instead stated that their discovery was only preliminary and more analysis will be needed.

There was still no evidence in the soil that “would preclude life,” and instead of an assumption of a toxic environment, Martian soil is actually, “very friendly.”

The discovery was made after the Mars Phoenix Lander scooped up Martian soil for analysis. The lander touched down on Mars on May 25, 2008 and has been conducting several survey projects.

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Dec 10 2017

Australian National Archives release Loans Affair documents

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Saturday, January 1, 2005

The National Archives of Australia have, as part of their standard document release cycle, released thirty year old documents from the Whitlam government.

The centre piece of the 1974 archives are a series of documents from the Australian Cabinet and the Treasury pertaining to the attempt to obtain a $US4 billion loan by the Whitlam government from the Middle East. The obtaining of these loans and the scandal generated became collectively known as the “Loans Affair,” and contributed significantly towards the dismissal of the Whitlam government by Sir John Kerr the following year.

The documents from Treasury, which include descriptions of both the loan itself and the people involved in arranging them, are scathing. The “Points that might be made” document of December 13, 1974 clearly states that Treasury believed the distinct possibility that the loans might be part of “a confidence trick of major proportions”. Minutes from another meeting five days later state the “incredulity” on the part of the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York regarding the viability of the loan.

Those documents now available comprise the beginning of the Loans Affair, from the initial offers to the end of 1974. The remainder of the Loans Affair documents, as well as everything else from 1975 will be released on January 1, 2006.

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Dec 09 2017

World’s biggest polluters won’t cut back on fossil fuel

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Six of the world’s major polluters, who participated in this week’s Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6 or APPCDC), have launched a multi-million dollar fund to develop clean-energy, but stressed they will be heavily reliant on polluting fossil-fuels for generations to come.

Green groups, labelling the talks a sham, have condemned the climate talks which were held in Sydney, Australia as a “coal and nuclear pact” between the big polluters and fossil-fuel firms. Australian climate change observers have attacked the AP6 outcomes as grossly irresponsible, saying the Federal Government is willing to accept the reality of runaway climate change.

A communique released by the AP6 states: “We recognise that fossil fuels underpin our economies, and will be an enduring reality for our lifetimes and beyond” – the document said. Green groups say the pact has missed a vital opportunity to commit to renewable energy sources. They say the two-day meeting failed to make any serious commitments in combatting global warming.

Combined, the United States, China, Japan, India, South Korea and Australia, account for around half the globe’s greenhouse gases. The six countries set up the summit as an ulterior method of tackling global warming outside the Kyoto Protocol by, they say, focussing on “clean-energy technology.”

Nuclear Power, clean coal technologies, geosequestration and industry-driven environment funds were some of the proposals raised at the summit. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol the six nations have not set any targets to cut greenhouse gases.

Climate change observers have broadly criticised the AP6 as a waste of time. Australian Climate Institute’s Clive Hamilton says the meeting did little to cut greenhouse gas emissions. “I think really this conference is about trying to protect the long-term future of the coal industry,” he said. “If you look at the sort of business people who have a seat at the table at the conference in Sydney, they overwhelmingly represent the polluting industries rather than those that will at some time in the future replace them – the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.”

CSIRO chief scientist Dr David Brockway says the technology required to reduce greenhouse emissions is not viable for industry.

“It has to be borne in mind that anything we are going to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and intensity from the Australian economy will come at a cost,” he said. “What we are doing at the moment is doing research to try and reduce the size of that additional cost. I would say in a five to 10 year timeframe a number of these technologies will become viable.”

An AP6 communique issued at the end of the conference said reductions in greenhouse gases must be achieved without hindering economic growth – “the partnership aims to mobilise domestic and foreign investment into clean and low-emission technology by fostering the best possible enabling environments,” it states. Some of the world’s big mining and energy firms attended the talks and pledged to improve efficiency.

Green groups, who were left out of the conference, say the talks were aimed at subverting Kyoto – which obligates some 40 developed countries to cut greenhouse emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels during 2008-2012. “Basically, they haven’t agreed to do anything in terms of serious commitment,” said Monash University climate change expert Professor Amanda Lynch. The United States and Australia refuse to sign Kyoto claiming its mandatory greenhouse gas cuts would threaten economic growth.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said, “experience has taught us that seeking arbitrary targets doesn’t result in achieving practical solutions to global climate change.” Mr Howard stressed the importance of maintaining economic growth to alleviate poverty, while cutting greenhouse emissions.

He said the summit had injected “an overdue dose of realism into the debate about climate change. We believe it is possible to tackle issues of greenhouse gas emissions and the challenge of climate change without reducing living standards,” he said. “The world will go on using fossil fuels for many years into the future because it’s more economic to do so. So therefore it’s elementary commonsense that you should try and make the use of fossil fuels more greenhouse gas sensitive, you should try and clean up the use of fossil fuel,” he said.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have dismissed Mr Howard’s comments as misleading and irresponsible. The WWF’s chief executive Greg Bourne said, “in my whole business career, I have never seen a more misleading public statement as that… If the statements made today become a reality, this will lock us in to a four-degree rise in global average temperatures, when two-degrees is considered extremely dangerous,” he said. “There couldn’t be anything more irresponsible than to knowingly embark on a path towards massive increases in emissions and runaway global warming.”

The AP6 nations said in the final communique that the eight public/private partnership taskforces created at the conference, will draw up action plans by the middle of 2006 on issues including renewable energy, power generation, cleaner fossil fuels and coal mining.

Environmentalists said the Sydney pact was doomed to fail because it did not impose targets on its members which comprise nearly half of humanity. The New South Wales Nature Conservation Council said the group’s voluntary approach was a “licence for government and business to do nothing”. “Without any incentives or penalties there is no reason for industry to move away from burning polluting coal and oil,” said the council’s Cate Faehrmann.

The AP6 countries encompass: 49 per cent of world GDP; 48 per cent of the world energy consumption; 48 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions; and 45 per cent of the world’s population.

Many scientists say global warming is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and will cause more intense storms, droughts and floods. Current levels of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere are higher now than at any time in the past 650,000 years, research from Antarctic ice cores shows.

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Dec 09 2017

Efforts to cap Deepwater Horizon oil spill delayed again

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 Correction — May 11, 2011 This article incorrectly describes BP as ‘British Petroleum’. In fact, such a company has not existed for many years as BP dropped this name when becoming a multinational company. The initials no longer stand for anything. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

An attempt to cap the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has hit yet another obstacle, reported officials from British Petroleum (BP).

Friday night’s attempt to install a 6-inch (15.2cm) tube into the leaking drill pipe was only the latest in a series of efforts by BP to stop or slow down the spill. Previously, the oil company had tried to enclose the pipe with a large container dome, and then lowered a smaller “top hat” container dome. The siphon tube method is designed to reduce the amount of oil flowing into the ocean, but is not a permanent solution to stopping the leak altogether. It will draw the oil from the broken pipe to a tanker at the surface, said BP.

The tube was to be inserted into the broken pipe by robotic submarines, but the attempt on Friday to do so was unsuccessful, causing it to be taken back up for changes. The problem was a metal frame on the tube, which had changed position and this prevented the tube sent down from the drill ship Discover Enterprise from connecting. The tube had not been inserted into the leaking drill pipe before it was brought back up.

BP said that it would try again Saturday night (local time) to slow the leak using a reconfigured tube. If this attempt is unsuccessful, they will use the smaller dome to cap the leak, and may also try to plug the leak by covering it with trash, mud, or concrete. The company is already in the process of drilling relief wells to completely stop the leak, but this is expected to take several more months. The amount of oil currently leaking from the pipe is disputed, and BP said it has spent several hundred million US dollars in response to the oil spill.

BP was also given permission yesterday by the US Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency to use chemical oil dispersants to combat the spill.

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Dec 09 2017

Teaching Your Child To Forgive}

Published by under Child Education

Submitted by: Kalyani Sankaranarayana

Children are often asked to forgive: forgive their sibling for grabbing a toy; forgive mom for being late; forgive a friend at school for pulling out their hair. When we teach a child about forgiveness, do we really insist on the repetition of words like sorry and I will never repeat this again or are we really particular in teaching them to let go of things?

It is important for children to understand compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. By instilling the virtue of kindness in our child, we help the child to use an essential life tool in navigating through childhood and adolescence in an easier way. Holding on to anger will lead to anxiety and depression for children and adults. The earlier forgiveness is taught, the earlier we can groom the child to grow up as an individual free of anxiety and depression.

There is also a misconception that forgiving means forgetting, which might bring on the fear that it will happen again. In order to forgive sometimes we need to look beyond the action and understand the person. Helping your child understand a possible trigger for the persons actions encourages compassion and forgiveness. Here are some thoughts which we as parents can ponder on to inculcate forgiveness in children.

Understanding the feelings of your Child

Before asking our child to forgive, let go or excuse a behaviour, it is first important to identify the feeling your child is experiencing. Is he or she frustrated, angry, embarrassed, or disappointed? The child first needs to understand how he/she feels before they really forgive. Instead of asking our child to immediately accept their siblings Im sorry, have them clearly express how they feel. For example, your child should be able to say, Sam, I am really upset that you have taken my notebook without my knowledge. Next time, please let me know when you need one.

Give It Time

We cant force our children to forgive someone. If we pressure them to say something when they dont mean it, nothing gets solved. Explain the importance and the benefits of forgiving, however the actual act must come from their heart and not our demands. Give it time.

Perspective : able to see things from the other side

We need to teach our kids proper perspectiveto be able to see things from the other side. For instance your child has a good friend who has suddenly stopped talking to your child She feels lonely and betrayed. All your daughter knows is what shes feeling, but thats only half the story. Help her to think about what her friend might be feeling. What made her keep away from your daughter. We dont know. Lets insist to our children that we should not jump to conclusions. Forgiving is much easier when we know the whole story and not just half of it.

Be the example

Let us be the living role model and show our child how you forgive others.

Treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. is the basis of all human morality and the underlying tenet of all faiths and religions. This should be the first lesson you teach your child. Lets reinforce this Golden Rule to our children. Forgiveness is the natural result of its application. The important lesson is to keep trying, making efforts, understanding forgiveness, loving and kindness. Compassion and love heal.

About the Author: Kalyani Shankar is a mother of twins and works as a German Linguist in an MNC. Amidst the jam packed busy life of a working mother, she looks forward to spending quality time with her kids when back home. Kalyani loves to introduce thought-provoking and fun activities that interest children. As a Balvikas spiritual educator for children, she strives to include Spirituality and its Relevance in daily life situations and mentors parents on the same lines.


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Dec 09 2017

Canada’s Don Valley East (Ward 33) city council candidates speak

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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Saturday, November 4, 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 Don Valley East (Ward 33). One candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Zane Caplan, Shelley Carroll (incumbent), Jim Conlon, Sarah Tsang-Fahey, and Anderson Tung.

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

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Dec 09 2017

Kosovo: voters go to the polls for the first time since independence declared from Serbia

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Voting polls opened in Kosovo at 7am (0600 UTC); the first time since declaring independence from Serbia last year. Both ethnic Albanians and the minority Serb population may vote for local mayors and councillors, a move seen as testing the government’s capacity to organise its own democratic elections. The territory was run by the United Nations mission before its split from Serbia in February 2008.

On Friday, President Fatmir Sejdiu stressed the importance of the elections. And, calling on the 1.5 million eligible voters to mobilise, said “[t]his Sunday should prove to the world that Kosovo is a stable country that produces peace and stability in the region”.

This Sunday should prove to the world that Kosovo is a stable country that produces peace and stability in the region

The Kosovo police have tightened security, and the 13,000 Kosovo Force troops — a NATO-led peacekeeping force — are on standby, according to its commander, General Markus Bentler. Local and international observers will monitor polls.

The main concern is the number of citizens who will vote, as only a 40% turnout level is expected. According to the BBC, most of the 120,000 Serbs oppose Kosovo’s independence. The government in Belgrade and the Serbian Orthodox Church have called for a boycott.

Polling stations are due to close at 7pm (1800 UTC); the first unofficial results are expected late Sunday evening.

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Dec 08 2017

British Columbia could get an earthquake, survey warns

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Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Geological Survey of Canada is reporting that there is a higher probability that a major earthquake could strike the south coast of British Columbia within the next week. The alert comes after seismologists began monitoring a grouping of small tremors moving north along the cascadia subduction zone from nearby Washington State.

The phenomenon is called Epesodic Tremor and Slip (ETS), and it occurs on average every 14 months. ETS is causing the fault to begin moving in the opposite direction, in this case, Vancouver Island is actually shifting to the west, instead of to the east. This causes an added pressure on the strained fault line, and leads to the higher probability that a major earthquake could occur.

The Cascadia subduction zone, running from Vancouver Island to northern California is one of the most volatile geologic fault lines in the world. Unlike the well known San Andreas fault, which has the potential of generating earthquakes in the 7–8 range, the Cascadia fault line has the potential of releasing mega quakes in the magnitude 9 range – the size of the Sumatra quake that killed over 250,000 people, mostly from the tsunamis it triggered.

A quake of that magnitude could devastate a wide area, including Vancouver, British Columbia, Victoria, British Columbia, and Seattle, Washington, a denselypopulated area with close to 6 million residents.

The Canadian geological survey points out, however, that this is only a higher probability, and the chances of a cataclysmic earthquake in the next week is still relatively low.

Vancouverites often are unaware of the potential risk right below their feet.

“Living in Los Angeles, we always got those little reminders every time the ground rumbled. We are indeed living in Earthquake Country. Up here, though, we don’t get them as often, so I think people really forget that we live in an earthquake zone. And because we don’t get those little shocks from time to time, that stress is just building and building, and who knows, these little tremors we’re getting now, might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

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Dec 08 2017

Australian state of Victoria swears in new cabinet

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Friday, August 3, 2007

At 11:20 a.m. in the Australian state of Victoria, the Governor David de Kretser started the ceremony for the swearing in of the new Brumby’s cabinet, attended by family and friends of the ministers. This comes a full week after the resignation of Steve Bracks from the top position, and his deputy John Thwaites.

The ministers and their portfolios are:

  • John Brumby has the role of Premier as well as the ministries of Multicultural Affairs and Veterans Affairs,
  • Deputy Premier Rob Hulls has the Industrial Relations and Racing,
  • Gavin Jennings Environment and Climate Change, and Innovation
  • Lynne Kosky has Public Transport and the Arts,
  • John Lenders is the new Treasurer,
  • Justin Madden retains his portfolio of Planning minister,
  • James Merlino takes on multiple roles of: Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs, Sport and Recreation and Youth Affairs
  • Maxine Morand Children and Early Childhood Development
  • Lisa Neville has Mental Health, Community Services and Senior Victorians,
  • Tim Pallas retains Roads and Ports,
  • Bronwyn Pike changes to Education,
  • Tony Robinson has the multiple portfolios of Gaming, Consumer Affairs and the Minister Assisting the Premier on Veterans Affairs,
  • Theo Theophanous retains Industry and trade and major projects, gains minister for Information Technology but loses Small Business,
  • Richard Wynne has Housing, Local Government and Aboriginal Affairs,
  • Peter Batchelor has Energy and Resources, and Community Development,
  • Bob Cameron retains Police and Emergency Services, and the Corrections portfolios,
  • Joe Helper retains both Agriculture, and Small Business,
  • Tim Holding has the Water, WorkCover, Finance, Tourism and Major Events and the TAC Ministries,
  • Jacinta Allan has the Regional and Rural Development, and Skills and Workforce Participation from the Education Ministry.
  • Daniel Andrews has Health

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