Australian governments to meet for first COAG meeting of 2006 today

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will meet in Canberra today for its first meeting of 2006. Members of COAG are the Prime Minister, State Premiers, Australian Capital and Northern Territory Chief Ministers, and the President of the Australian Local Government Association. COAG is chaired by the Prime Minister.

On the agenda is a wide range of issues such as health, economic reform, regulation, and education.

The state leaders (all of whom are members of the Australian Labor Party), met last night to develop a strategy for dealing with John Howard, Australia’s Prime Minister.

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Best Solar Panels Brisbane For Homes System You’ll Be Surprised!}

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Princess Beatrice’s unlocked BMW stolen

Thursday, January 8, 2009

British royal Princess Beatrice, age 20, has become the victim of thieves, who stole her prized £17,000 black 1 Series BMW while she and her police bodyguard were shopping in Devonshire Place in Kensington — leaving the vehicle’s keys in the ignition.

The luxury car, which has a personalised number plate and contained some personal items, was a gift from her father, Prince Andrew, for her 17th birthday in 2005.

Media reports said that Beatrice was “extremely embarrassed” about the theft in a street in the West 1 area, which happened Wednesday just after 9am in London. She later joined her sister, Princess Eugenie, age 18, at a nearby pub. Metropolitan Police said Westminster officers were investigating the reports.

The BMW 1 Series (code names E82 and E87,) is a small-luxury car / small family car produced by the German automaker BMW since 2004. The 1 Series is the only vehicle in its class featuring rear-wheel drive and a longitudinally-mounted engine.

Princess Beatrice of York (Beatrice Elizabeth Mary; born 8 August 1988) is the elder daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York. Thus, she is fifth person and the first female in the line of succession to the thrones of sixteen independent states. When she was born, she was the first princess born into the immediate royal family since Princess Anne in 1950.

This is not the first time the Princess suffered a loss. In December, her Norfolk terrier Max went missing in Windsor, but reappeared three weeks later on Saturday, alive and well.

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People limited to 150 friends, despite Facebook, says academic

Monday, January 25, 2010

Human brains cannot manage more than 150 friendships – even with the advent of social networking websites like Facebook, Bebo and Myspace. This is the conclusion of Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford. Dunbar originally carried out research in this area in the 1990s, looking at social groups from modern offices back to ancient villages. He found that the neocortex in the brain, used for thinking and language, cannot cope with more than 150 friends – a conclusion known as “Dunbar’s number“. Groups of people tend to be limited to about 150 as, beyond that, social cohesion suffers. Revisiting the topic, Dunbar’s view is that this number has not increased even with online methods of keeping in touch with friends, like Facebook.

Dunbar compared the online activity of those with thousands of internet friends and those with hundreds, before concluding that there was no appreciable difference in their levels of activity. He defined a friend as someone that the individual cared about and made contact with at least yearly. “The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world. […] People obviously like the kudos of having hundreds of friends but the reality is that they’re unlikely to be bigger than anyone else’s”, he observed.

Another conclusion of his study was that women were better at keeping friendships going on Facebook than men – “girls are much better at maintaining relationships just by talking to each other. Boys need to do physical stuff together”. The full results of his study are due to be published later in 2010.

Dunbar, 52, has been an Oxford professor since 2007, having previously been Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Liverpool. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.

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Haiti relief efforts: in depth

Friday, January 15, 2010

Countries and relief organisations around the world are sending aid to Haiti, which was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Tuesday, affecting up to three million people, most of them in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Relief efforts, however, have been hampered by damaged or destroyed infrastructure, lack of shelter, and communications difficulties.

As of today, at least 300,000 people were estimated to be homeless in the capital, according to the United Nations; the organisation reports that one in ten buildings completely collapsed due to the tremors and resulting aftershocks. The UN said it believes 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed by the quake, while Haitian President Rene Preval said that seven thousand bodies were buried in a mass grave.

Port-au-Prince’s main airport remained open as of today, and relief airplanes were arriving faster than they could be unloaded, prompting fears that planes could run out of fuel while waiting their turn to land. As a result, all non-military flights out of the airport were restricted. Air traffic controllers from the US were present to help handle the flow.

The main port, meanwhile, was severely damaged, and unable to handle any cargo.

To see more images related to the disaster, you may wish to look at the companion article Haitian earthquake: in pictures.

Even with the amount of aid coming in, it is proving difficult to deliver it where it is needed; many roads have been blocked by rubble. Alejandro Lopez-Chicheri, a senior spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP), commented: “The roads, many of them are still to be opened, and on the ones that are open there are still people concentrated on the sides of the roads.” He described Haiti as being “completely on the ground”.

“This is a logistical challenge. Before the earthquake struck we were already assisting one million people here, we are considering it will be at least double that after this earthquake,” he told the Al Jazeera news agency.

The WFP has estimated that two million people will need food aid; however, only four thousand have so far been fed.

“The physical destruction is so great that physically getting from point A to B with the supplies is not an easy task,” said a WFP spokeswoman in Geneva at a news conference.

Transporting supplies was made even harder due to lack of communications. Telephone lines were down. “There have been a lot of criticism from local authorities about the relief efforts, but in all fairness, if we could catch a break and get some communication up and running, things would go a lot faster,” commented Louis Belanger, spokesman with the humanitarian aid group Oxfam International.

Looting has also been an issue. Delfin Antonio Rodriguez, the rescue commander from adjacent Dominican Republic, said to the Agency France-Presse news agency earlier today that “[o]ur biggest problem is insecurity. Yesterday they tried to hijack some of our trucks. Today we were barely able to work in some places because of that.”

Elisabeth Byrs, a UN humanitarian spokeswoman in Geneva described the desperation of those in the capital. “People who have not been eating or drinking for almost 50 hours and are already in a very poor situation. If they see a truck with something, or if they see a supermarket which has collapsed, they just rush to get something to eat.”

The WFP initially reported that its warehouses in the capital were looted, but this was later retracted. WFP spokeswoman Caroline Hurford told the BBC that “[a]pparently there were unconfirmed reports of looting taking place but once our teams got down to the dockside they were able to see that there was some mistake.”

The earthquake also destroyed Port-au-Prince’s main prison. According to International Red Cross spokesman Marcal Izard, 4,000 inmates escaped the jail and are now on the city streets. “They obviously took advantage of this disaster,” he said.

Haitian police were “not visible at all,” according to a UN spokesman, probably because they had to deal with lost family members and homes, further exacerbating the situation. Around 3,000 international UN peacekeeping troops were present to try to maintain law and order in lieu of the local police force.

Are you in Haiti? Have you been affected in some way by this disaster?
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According to a reporter for Al Jazeera, frustration among Port-au-Prince’s residents was increasing because they were not receiving enough help, and there was an exodus out of the city to try and find areas with more supplies. “A lot of people have simply grown tired of waiting for those emergency workers to get to them,” said Sebastian Walker. “Thousands of people are streaming out of the city towards the provinces to try to find supplies of food and water, supplies that are running out in the city.”

A spokesman for the Brazilian-commanded UN peacekeeping force, David Wimhurst, also commented that “unfortunately, they’re slowly getting more angry and impatient. I fear, we are all aware that the situation is getting more tense as the poorest people who need so much, are waiting for deliveries. I think tempers might be frayed.”

Photographer Shaul Schwarz for the TIME magazine reported seeing at least two roadblocks downtown, made of rocks and corpses. “They are starting to block the roads with bodies. It’s getting ugly out there. People are fed up with getting no help,” he said.

“We hear on the radio that rescue teams are coming from the outside, but nothing is coming,” said one resident, Jean-Baptiste Lafontin Wilfried, as quoted by the BBC.

“We need food. The people are suffering. My neighbors and friends are suffering,” said another resident, Sylvain Angerlotte, aged 22, as quoted by the Associated Press. “We don’t have money. We don’t have nothing to eat. We need pure water.”

Due to lack of buildings or shelter, many relief members were facing the same difficulties as were residents. “Even the aid workers themselves are sleeping in cars or in tents on the streets,” said Jamieson Davies, the international programmes director of the Caritas relief organisation, to Al Jazeera. She described the situation as being “extremely difficult”.

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The Sign Of Signs Who Is That Fool On The Corner With The Sign About The End Of The World?

By Rev Michael Bresciani

The Pope it is said condemned the use of the cross bow when it was first introduced. He apparently thought it could be the demise of the whole world because it was so deadly. When cannons were first invented some thought that marked the end of the world. Now we have a weapon that could bring an end to all life on the planet, the hydrogen bomb, and certainly there are people who still believe that it might yet bring about the end of civilization. Adding to this there has always been someone or some group insisting that their generation would surely be the last.

Who hasn’t seen the person wearing or carrying the sign that reads something like, Repent for the end of the world is near? Hollywood makes sure to show such people in the movies and usually they are depicted as neurotic and mentally deranged weirdoes who only need to be avoided and ignored. By now it is easy to understand why some Christians may he a little embarrassed to bring up the subject of the second coming of Christ. Add to this the fact that Jesus said that no one would know the day or the hour of his return and you have the right mix to produce the wholesale indifference that emerges among more and more of today’s believers.

The enemy certainly has been able to capitalize on these eccentric second coming enthusiasts with their spurious interpretations of scripture. But we would be foolish and remiss to allow him this victory because of the excess of a few, or our fear of embarrassment. The misinterpretation of a sign is possible with any theological position. One of the safest ways to be surer about the signs is to be patient and wait for them to unfold.

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It is alright to speculate and watch as things begin to materialize but hold back on some conclusions and give God space to show us what he is doing. We must always keep in mind that some of the Jews missed the coming of their messiah because they had nailed down an exact path for his appearance without allowing that some of their speculation may not have been exactly on the mark.

For example, it was well known that messiah was to come from Bethlehem but Jesus was from Nazareth. A little research, questioning and openness could have resulted in finding the rest of the story.

The birth of Christ was never meant to be a secret, and anyone making even cursory inquiries could have found out that he was actually born in Bethlehem. But many were clinging hard to their pet beliefs and would not allow themselves this knowledge. One might say that they missed salvation itself, not because they were so sinful but because they were so stubborn. They had created a formula, a viewpoint or a theory that by sheer force of time and repetition had become like an immutable law.

A lack of pliability in second coming doctrine is far more serious than rigidity in any other area of scripture. Much of eschatology is yet to unfold; being rigid about an unknown is foolishness on the level of finding moral guidance from the stories of ancient mythology. No one should think that guidance comes from make believe characters and events, unfortunately, they do! Many second coming buffs are also deriving some sort of guidance from events that haven’t occurred yet. The best answer to this dilemma is found in a single saying of the Lord Jesus concerning signs. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Mt 24:34

This verse could he called, the sign of signs. It is a capstone or the key to all the events preceding the second coming of Christ. Jesus knew the second coming would not take place in his generation so it had to be some future and seemingly unspecified generation. Yet, it is specified. That generation, is the generation in which all the other signs happen together. They cannot be spread out over millennia, centuries or even more than one single generation. This sign is what qualifies all the other signs. Simply put, if all the signs are happening concurrently, that is the sign that it is the last generation, and it will culminate with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here we are given a failsafe or a perfect way to keep from falling into error in today’s second coming doctrinal maze. If you haven’t checked lately, you might want to look again, because no generation in over twenty centuries has had all the signs happening at once, except this one.

About the Author: Rev Bresciani is the author of two popular Christian books. He has also written dozens of articles both online and in print. Please visit the website


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Billy West, voice of Ren and Stimpy, Futurama, on the rough start that shaped his life

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ren and Stimpy. Bugs Bunny. Philip J. Fry and Professor Hubert Farnsworth on Futurama. Sparx. Bi-Polar Bear. Popeye the Sailor Man. Woody Woodpecker. You may not think you have ever heard Billy West, but chances are on a television program, a movie, a commercial, or as Howard Stern’s voice guru in the 1990’s, you have heard him. West’s talent for creating personalities by twisting his voice has made him one of a handful of voice actors—Hank Azaria and the late Mel Blanc come to mind—who have achieved celebrity for their talent. Indeed, West is one of the few voice actors who can impersonate Blanc in his prime, including characterizations of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and other characters from Warner Bros. cartoons.

What is the fulcrum in Mr. West’s life that led him to realize a talent to shape personalities with his voice, and how did the discovery of that gift shape him? Wikinews reporter David Shankbone found that like many great comedians, West faced more sour early in life than he did sweet. The sour came from a physically and emotionally abusive alcoholic father (“I could tell you the kind of night I was going to have from the sound of the key in the door or the way the car pulled up.”), to his own problems with drug and alcohol use (“There is a point that you can reach in your life where you don’t want to live, but you haven’t made the decision to die.”).

I’m telling you stuff that I never said to anybody…

If sin, suffering and redemption feel like the stages of an endless cycle of American existence, West’s own redemption from his brutalized childhood is what helped shape his gift. He performed little bits to cheer up his cowed mother, ravaged by the fact she could not stop her husband’s abuse of young West. “I was the whipping boy and she would just be reduced to tears a lot of times, and I would come in and say stuff, and I would put out little bits just to pull her out of it.”

But West has also enjoyed the sweet. His career blossomed as his talent for creating entire histories behind fictional characters and creatures simply by exploring nuance in his voice landed him at the top of his craft. You may never again be able to forget that behind the voice of your favorite character, there is often an extraordinary life.

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with renowned voice actor Billy West, who for the first time publicly talks about the horrors he faced in his childhood; his misguided search for answers in anger, drugs and alcohol; and the peace he has achieved as one of America’s most recognizable voice actors.

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Lib Dems launch manifesto

Thursday, April 14, 2005

An exhausted Charles Kennedy returned to the election campaign to launch a twenty page Liberal Democrat manifesto targeted at disaffected Labour voters, promising a fairer tax system and withdrawal from Iraq.

Entitled The Real Alternative the manifesto pledges to reduce the lowest rate of income tax, but increase the rate on those earning over £100,000 to 50%. The party would also scrap the unpopular local council tax in favour of a new local income tax. The manifesto also promises to remove hidden “stealth taxes”.

Under this system the party claims the poorest 15 million (25%) of people in Britain would be better off, and the middle 50% would be paying no extra tax.

The manifesto promised to scrap the controversial university tuition fees, increase services for pensioners and add £100 a month to the state pension, and train 21,000 new primary school teachers and 10,000 new police. A Lib Dem government would make eye and dental checks free, and reduce the cost of prescription medicine.

The Liberal Democrats were the only one of the three largest parliamentary parties to have consistently voted against the Iraq war, and the manifesto has promised an exit strategy with a phased withdrawal of Britain’s 8,000 troops still in the country.

“We reject a foreign policy based on ‘my ally right or wrong’,” Kennedy said. “And we say that war should always be a last resort.”

Kennedy, who became a father on Tuesday, admitted he’d had little sleep before the manifesto launch, and stumbled while answering questions on the proposed tax system.

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Choosing A Roof That Meets Your Needs


Choosing a new roof for your home doesn’t have to be as complex as you think. There are a lot of companies that are knowledgeable enough that they can assist you with all your roofing needs and educate you through the entire process. Most roofing companies are both residential and commercial roofing companies Hendersonville. Regardless, you want to choose a company that has time for your new roof and provides quality. Additionally, when considering a roof, you must consider what type of material you want for your roof, the color, the warranty and you need to determine what accessories you think will be appropriate for your new roof.

Now you have many options when considering what materials to use for your roof. You can choose between wood, asphalt, metal and other materials. Each type of roof has its own benefits. Roofing companies Hendersonville typically have all the products and are willing to install them to your specifications. Recently, metal roofs have become very popular because they are long lasting, help conserve energy and increase the value of your home. Ask about all of your options before deciding on a roof for your home.

Choosing a color for your roof is one of the fun aspects of replacing a roof. You want to choose a color that’ll complement your home and make it more aesthetically appealing from the outside. Metal and asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors therefore choosing a color is simply what interests you the most.

Warranties are an important aspect when considering your new roof. The best option is the warranty that covers the roof for the longest time and provides more coverage options. Typically a warranty like this may be expensive. You should choose the warranty product that’ll best fit your budget and your household needs, it’s likely roofing companies Hendersonville will have a lot of warranty options.

Accessories will complement your roof and further ensure the stability of your roof. The accessories you choose will depend on the type of roof you choose. Fasteners, vents and guards are all accessories to consider. They all work to help secure the roof, creating value for you over time. You should ask your Roofing Company Hendersonville what options are best for you. They will be able to offer suggestions and provide more information about these options.

To learn more about why you need to consider reputable roofing companies in Hendersonville, visit

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