OhmyNews forum discusses experiences in citizen journalism

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Seoul —

The OhmyNews International Citizen Reporters’ Forum (see previous report) concluded on Saturday with several speeches and a visit to sponsoring companies in South Korea’s technology sector. Some invited “citizen reporters” from around the world extended their stay by several days to tour the country. Since the conclusion of the conference, presentations and transcripts have been published on the OhmyNews web site. [1]

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Canada’s Don Valley West (Ward 25) city council candidates speak

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 Don Valley West (Ward 25). Three candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include John Blair, Robertson Boyle, Tony Dickins, Cliff Jenkins (incumbent), and Peter Kapsalis.

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

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Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan stops hunger strike, due to be released

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Khader Adnan, a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement, has stopped his hunger strike. According to media reports on Monday, Adnan ceased his strike after achieving an agreement with Israel entailing his release from administrative detention. Adnan’s strike lasted over 50 days, and he was in mortal danger for the last couple of weeks. Due to his severe deterioration, Israel was forced to hospitalize him, and placed him in Assaf Harofe hospital in Israel.

Jawd Boulos, Adnan’s lawyer, said Adnan is due to be released on July 12. Adnan began his hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention, which began last July, demanding Israel either release or charge him. During his hunger strike, Adnan refused medical aid and relied only on water for sustenance, not taking any minerals or salts.

Last week, the PIJ threatened to end its cease-fire with Israel, should Adnan die under Israeli custody. Ahmed al-Aouri, a PIJ member, told al-Araby newspaper “the Islamic Jihad Movement — in which Khader Adnan is a leading member — will not be bound by any truce agreement if he comes to any harm.”

The PIJ is a militaristic Palestinian Jihad movement. Adnan, 37, is an active member of the PIJ in the West Bank, and has been its spokesperson there. As a result of his activity, since 1997 Adnan has been arrested reportedly around ten times, and has gone on several hunger strikes, one of which lasted 28 days, while another lasted 66 days and after his release he went on strike for another 12 days as a token of sympathy for the remaining Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Palestinian_prisoner_Khader_Adnan_stops_hunger_strike,_due_to_be_released&oldid=3898604”

Finnish trio shot dead in Brazil

Monday, December 5, 2011

Savonlinna, from file. Image: SM.

It has emerged that three Finnish nationals have been shot dead in Brazil. Their bodies were found near João Pessoa in a sugarcane field on Friday.

The three were from Savonlinna but two of them — a married couple — owned a second home nearby where they spent winters. The retired surgeon, 72, and his wife, a retired gynaecologist, 68, had been trying to sell the nearby property. The third victim was a nurse, 60. All were from Savonlinna.

The bodies were found in Paraiba beside a road connecting Taquara and Pitimbu. G1 has reported local police are questioning five people and treating all the deaths as homicides. The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation does not plan to get directly involved but is helping the investigation with background information.

Local cash, a Finnish credit card, a mobile phone, and jewellery had all been left after the crimes. There were blood traces inside the house. The Helsingin Sanomat suggests a financial dispute relating to the house sale may have been the motive.

The couple has spent the last five winters in Brazil, but Finnish ambassador Jari Luoto called the area in question “dangerous and restless.”

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Finnish_trio_shot_dead_in_Brazil&oldid=1339880”

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with NDP candidate Felicite Stairs, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke

Monday, September 24, 2007

Felicite Stairs is running for the Ontario NDP in the Ontario provincial election, in the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed her regarding her values, her experience, and her 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.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Ontario_Votes_2007:_Interview_with_NDP_candidate_Felicite_Stairs,_Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke&oldid=518294”

Denny’s Super Bowl free ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’ brings 2 million diners

Friday, February 6, 2009

Denny’s 1,600 chain restaurants across North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, were slammed for eight hours Tuesday with hungry patrons standing on sidewalks for nearly two hours to take advantage of the $5.99 “Grand Slam Breakfast” giveaway.

Denny’s, a dining chain with annual revenue of about $900 million, has advertised in a TV commercial Sunday during the Super Bowl XLIII that it would give away its signature breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time Tuesday, at all its restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, while supplies lasted.

Denny’s Diner has promoted the iconic dish giveaway heavily, with a bold 30-second appeal ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl 43 on Sunday, plus another 15-second ad during the post-game show, offering a free breakfast to some 90 million viewers. In addition, it has placed a full-page ad in USA Today‘s Monday edition. The promotion was further announced on The Today Show and notices were also sent out to the chain’s “Denny’s Breakfast Club” members.

The NBC ad, which was bought to unveil a new promotion for customers squeezed by the recession, may have cost as much as $3 million, said Nelson Marchioli, CEO of Denny’s Corp. Super Bowl XLIII’s 30-second commercial time slot costs $2.4 million–$3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs.

The game was televised live by the US NBC Sunday Night Football and Canada’s CTV Television Network. BayTSP has reported that, “as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, commercials that initially aired during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII broadcast subsequently had been watched online more than 28 million times.”

“The promotion has a total cost of $5 million U.S., which includes $3 million for the commercial on NBC,” said a Denny’s spokesman, noting also that the company received about $50 million in news coverage, most of which was positive. According to a Denny’s representative, two million people walked through the restaurant chains’ doors Tuesday, and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour.

With the “Denny’s Feeds America” promotion, the company has reported 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning. Denny’s shares rose 6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.98 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range of $1.18 to $4.10 over the past 52 weeks.

“Denny’s free Grand Slam” has ranked in the top 10 Google searches early Tuesday and fell to No. 18 by the end of the promotion, while “denny s locations” was #9 on Google Trends, which tracks fast-rising searches. It has also held spots No. 1 (Denny’s) and 7 (Grand Slam) on Twitter‘s trending topics. It has generated much chat on Twitter, garnering 1,700 tweets on Tuesday, compared with its average of 59. Doritos, winner of the USA TODAY survey for best Super Bowl spot ad, had 933 mentions after reaching a peak of almost 3,300.

The idea of the TV ad was to get people to come in and re-evaluate Denny’s Diner. “A lot of people have forgotten what Denny’s is, or they think they know, while we’ve come out with a whole lot of new products. We felt like we needed to jump start the brand,” Denny’s Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark Chmiel said.

“We’re celebrating the Grand Slam this year,” Chmiel said. According to the company’s financial data, on January 15 Denny’s reported systemwide comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter were down 6.1 percent, compared to a 0.2 percent decline from the same period in 2007.

According to Robert Gonzalez, public relations company Hill & Knowlton spokesman, Denny’s has expected at least 2 million people to eat a free Grand Slam by the end of the promotion. “Every restaurant is packed with people and lines,” Gonzalez said. “Everything today is about fast. People are on the go, and they’re eating fast food. It’s cutting into sit-down dining,” he added.

“Each of the more than 1,500 Denny’s were planning to make about 100 Grand Slams an hour,” Denny’s spokeswoman Cori Rice said. It had predicted it will have served about 1,400 people per location, more than five times the normal volume. “Grand Slam Breakfast” is a four-item option on its menu, consisting of two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. It weighs in at 44 grams of fat, 56 carbohydrates and 770 calories.

Nationwide, Denny’s expected to sell about 2 million Grand Slams — about 15 percent of the annual tally. According to Mark Chmiel, chief marketing operator and executive vice president, the diner chain has reported approximately 2 million meals worth more than $12 million were given away nationwide and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour. It estimated it has earned about $50 million worth of public relations following the free Grand Slam campaign, Chmiel said.

The company is also experimenting with a Grand Slam Burrito and also has introduced for this year, a Grand Slamwich, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese between two slices of bread, with a teaspoon serving. “It already has shown strong consumer appeal,” said Chmiel. The company has received flood of e-mails and letters proving the positive impact of the Grand Slam campaign and commercials on its customers.

Chmiel also announced he’s planning a third major promotion in this year’s third quarter, which happens to include another major sporting event, the World Series. “That’s one we’re definitely looking at,” he said.

Jobless Paris Winslow of downtown San Francisco, California has joined the long line which stretched from the front door on Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, to the corner of Fourth and up the block. “The economy is getting kind of scary. This line looks like those pictures of soup kitchen lines during the 1929 Great Depression,” Winslow said.

“I came all the way from San Francisco for a free $6 meal, Isn’t that pathetic? A year ago, I never would have done this. These days I’m willing to put my ego on the back burner,” said Stephen Weller, a jobless contractor who waited with his dog, Emmett. California Denny’s restaurant managers have issued rain checks (for free chilled meals, as security backed by actual bacon) to anyone who failed to get in by the 2 p.m. deadline.

A big eater could also “Slam It Up” by adding any two additional items for 99 cents each to their meal. Customers on Tuesday were also handed “bounceback” coupon books that include offers for additional free menu items with purchases. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang has eaten five free Grand Slams on Tuesday at five different Denny’s Diners in four hours. He claims to have consumed 4,100 calories at Harwood Heights, 5:36 a.m, at Schiller Park, 6:22 a.m., at Franklin Park, 7:08 a.m., at Melrose Park, 7:41 a.m. and at Grand Slam No. 5 Oak Park, 8:57 a.m.

“The Grand Slam has always been a Denny’s favorite. This free offer is our way of reacquainting America with Denny’s real breakfast and with the Denny’s brand,” Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli said in a statement. In 1977s, the Grand Slam started as a baseball-related promotion in Atlanta, Georgia. Its normal price averages around $5.99. Marchioli said the event was also a way to kick-off its “Year of the Grand Slam” promotion. Denny’s claimed it has sold 12.5 million Grand Slams a year.

“The economy’s tough and people are jumping all the way to fast food to try to figure it out. We all use fast food, whether it’s for time or convenience or for money. But you can go to Denny’s and you don’t have to give up a real breakfast and that was the whole focus of our commercial,” Marchioli explained. McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has done well during this economic meltdown since the global recession pushes people toward less expensive dining options.

McDonald’s has announced plans Wednesday to open 175 new restaurants in China this year despite the global economic crisis, thereby increasing the number of outlets in China by 17 percent, from 1,050 currently. Last month, McDonald’s 2008 net profit has risen 80 percent from 2007 to 4.3 billion dollars.

Marchioli has also introduced Denny’s $4 Weekday Express Slam, which is a streamlined version of the Grand Slam. “I want to take back share. For too long, we have allowed others to take share, whether it was Starbucks or McDonald’s. They’re fine competitors and I don’t expect to take all their business from them, but I’d like a little bit back,” Marchioli noted.

According to Rafi Mohammed, author of “The Art of Pricing,” people love free. “It triggers a Pavlovian response in people,” said Mohammed. If Pavlov’s dogs salivate when a bell rings, Denny’s free Grand Slam breakfast has attracted 2 million hungry customers. “I believe free maximizes trial and doesn’t devalue a product as long as it is a rare event. Aside from the cost, the major downside is that it attracts customers who truly have no intention of coming back,” he added.

According to University of Portland consumer psychology professor Deana Julka, people flock to free promotions amid just a few dollars saving because there’s nothing in life for free. “So when there’s something out there that costs nothing, it creates a psychological rush. Especially in these times when people feel overtaxed or overburden, there’s an internal reward people feel by getting something for free,” she said. “It’s being thrifty and feeling like you beat the system. Free really hits the spot for a lot of people,” Julka added.

“Free is an emotional hot button. When free is concerned, there is no downside – or, at least, we don’t see the downside immediately. So we overvalue everything that is free. People love free stuff, particularly when money’s tight,” said Dan Ariely, a business professor at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

Experts, however, explained these moves need to be done sparingly, since giveaways can teeter in the balance between desperation and a well designed marketing ploy. “Giving your product away for free is not worth it because it undermines your brand value,” said branding expert Rob Frankel, saying people are attached to the idea of it being free, than the actual product itself.

Free giveaways are not anything new in the food industry. “It just feels good when you can get something for free and not have to worry about it coming out of your wallet,” Frankel noted. Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread all have had free coffee and food promos last year. “In November, Starbucks gave away free cup of coffee to anyone who came in on Election Day. Have you taken a look at how Starbucks is doing now?” Last week it has announced it would shut down 300 stores, in addition to the 600 it already planned to close.

On February 24, IHOP will be offering a free shortstack to every customer to encourage donations (in place of the cost) for Childrens Miracle Network. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is a United States-based restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods and is owned by DineEquity. The chain had more than 1950 restaurants in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Since 2006, IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration has raised over $1.85 million. In 2008, over 1.5 million pancakes (12 miles high if they were stacked) were given to customers for donations.

Denny’s (“Denny’s Diner”) is a full-service diner/family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand). The resto chain is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock.

Today, Denny’s operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny’s restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, seven Denny’s locations in New Zealand, and approximately 38 Denny’s diners in the United States. Denny’s headquarters is now located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation that acquired Denny’s in 1987.

Denny’s was historically notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993, though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.

In 2008, Denny’s has ceased to be in the ranks among the top diner chains in the $83 billion breakfast market, whose top five firms — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and IHOP — accounted for 22 percent of the volume. “A lot of consumers have written Denny’s off their let’s-go-there list,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a consulting firm.

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers (15–4) and the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals (12–8) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 NFL season. It was played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadiumin Tampa, Florida. It has an attendance of 70,774 and 98.7 million viewers. Pittsburgh earned its sixth Super Bowl win, thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Denny%27s_Super_Bowl_free_%27Grand_Slam_Breakfast%27_brings_2_million_diners&oldid=1521034”

US Senate unanimously passes genetic nondiscrimination bill

Thursday, April 24, 2008

In a unanimous 95-0 vote Thursday, the United States Senate passed a bill that would forbid employers and health insurance companies from discriminating against someone based on information learned through genetic testing.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, described by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy as “the first major new civil rights bill of the new century,” will now be sent back to the House of Representatives, where it could be approved as early as next week. President George W. Bush, who would have to sign the bill for it to become law, has voiced his support for the legislation.

The bill forbids employers from firing, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating against employees based on genetic information, such as a family history of a hereditary disease. It also makes it illegal for employers to request genetic information of an employee or the employee’s family.

Health insurance companies are also addressed in the bill, which forbids them from requesting genetic information or using such information to set premium rates or determine enrollment eligibility. However, insurance companies would still have the right to base one’s health coverage on the actual presence of a genetic disease.

Americans can now be confident that their genetic information cannot be used by health insurers or employers in harmful or hurtful ways.

“For the first time we act to prevent discrimination before it has taken firm hold and that’s why this legislation is unique and groundbreaking,” said Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, who sponsored the bill along with Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Mike Enzi. Snowe fears the threat of discrimination may discourage people from undergoing genetic testing, which can help to diagnose a wide range of diseases and lead to lifesaving therapy.

Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center, reports that 92 percent are worried that information gained in genetic testing may be used against them. “After a very long wait,” she says, “Americans can now be confident that their genetic information cannot be used by health insurers or employers in harmful or hurtful ways.”

One part of the bill addresses this concern. “Federal legislation establishing a national and uniform basic standard is necessary to fully protect the public from discrimination and allay their concerns about the potential for discrimination,” the bill reads, “thereby allowing individuals to take advantage of genetic testing, technologies, research, and new therapies.”

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn initially blocked Senate action on the bill, warning that it could potentially lead to excessive lawsuits against employers and insurers. But after changes were made to the bill to ease his concerns earlier this week, he supported the legislation and allowed the Senate to vote on it. “We certainly improved the bill from a liability standpoint,” said Coburn, an obstetrician.

Similar bills were unanimously passed by the Senate in 2003 and 2005, but in both years the bill stalled in the House. The current bill was passed in the House of Representatives a year ago by a 420-3 vote. A genetic nondiscrimination bill was first introduced 13 years ago by New York Representatives Louise Slaughter, who says the House will “get it out to the White House as quickly as we can.”

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=US_Senate_unanimously_passes_genetic_nondiscrimination_bill&oldid=629679”

Feared toll of Indonesian floods, landslides up to 130; dozens missing as bridge swept away

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Heavy rains in Indonesia yesterday triggered widespread flooding and landslides across the nation. It has emerged that last night a bridge was swept away by the swollen river it stretched across, leaving around 40 to 50 people missing in Madiun, East Java. Meanwhile, the total toll of those known or feared to be dead has reached 130.

According to local police chief Supardi in a telephone conversation with Xinhua the flood waters weakened a foundation, resulting in the collapse. At least twenty motorcyclists, car drivers and passengers are thought to be dead, but as of midnight, no bodies had been recovered. However, three bikes have been retrieved. 100 rescuers have been dispatched to the scene. Continuing heavy rain forced the search to be abandoned temporarily.

Java as a whole is the worst affected island; in addition to the bridge collapse most of the landslides occurred in two Central Java districts. Health ministry official Rustam Pakaya told reporters that at least 28,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes in central Java, although exact figures are not yet available. The Red Cross commented that 45,000 East Javanese people have been similarly displaced. Thousands are seeking shelter in mosques and other public buildings.

Landslides buried houses and made roads impassable, while hundreds police officers, military personnel, local officials and volunteers have been digging with farm tools and even their hands to search for survivors. Heavy machinery is available but the road conditions have prevented it arriving at the areas where it is required. Jakarta has dispatched aid in the form of five tonnes of biscuits and instant meals, ten tonnes of baby food and multiple boats.

Heru Aji Pratomo, head of the disaster management centre in the worst-hit district of Karanganyar has confirmed the recovery of twelve more bodies. This brings the total confirmed death toll in the area to 48. He said that most bodies were recovered from three metre deep mud and required heavy digging machinery to retrieve. 28 remain missing.

Local resident Siswo told AFP “Suddenly I felt my house shaking, and I thought it was an earthquake. When I got outside, I saw that the houses next to mine were already covered by earth,” and that it struck twelve neighbouring houses.

In the next district, Wonogiri, disaster management centre head Sri Mubadi told reporters they had retrieved two more bodies, reaching a total of six, with eleven more missing. He also confirmed that they currently have no access to heavy equipment.

In Tawangmangu about 1,000 rescuers were also searching for bodies and survivors without the aid of heavy machinery. Three more bodies were retrieved today.

Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir toured a Karanganyar village, at which time he commented that he felt the disaster had been caused as a form of divine revenge, saying “This was likely caused by immoral acts going on here,” and “This could be a lesson to be learned.” The 69-year-old served two years after being linked to the 2002 Bali bombings, before having his conviction overturned last year.

Chalid Muhammad, director of Walhi, an Indonesian environmental group, had a different opinion. “For five consecutive years landslides and floods have occurred in Java, claiming many lives. The main trigger is ecological destruction caused by deforestation, forest conversions and chaotic spatial planning,” Chalid told Reuters.

“There have been no adequate efforts by the government to protect the people from disasters. When the landslides happened officials were on holiday and there was no access of heavy equipment to the affected areas.”

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Feared_toll_of_Indonesian_floods,_landslides_up_to_130;_dozens_missing_as_bridge_swept_away&oldid=3130535”

Iranian International Master Dorsa Derakhshani discusses her chess career with Wikinews

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

In February 2017, the Iranian Chess Federation announced two teenage chess players, Dorsa Derakhshani and her younger brother Borna Derakhshani, were banned from representing the national team. The federation announced their decision although Dorsa Derakhshani had previously decided and informed the chess federation she did not wish to play for Iran.

Dorsa Derakhshani is currently 21 years old and holds the International Master (IM) as well as Woman Grand Master (WGM) titles. Her brother, Borna, plays for the English Federation and holds the FIDE Master title.

Dorsa Derakhshani was banned since she did not wear a hijab, an Islamic headscarf, while competing at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival in January 2017. Under the laws of Islamic Republic of Iran, hijab is a mandatory dress code. Her brother Borna Deraskhsani was banned for playing against Israeli Grand Master (GM) Alexander Huzman at the same tournament. Iran does not recognise the existence of Israel, and previously, Irani athletes have avoided playing against Israeli athletes.

Mehrdad Pahlavanzadeh, the president of the country’s chess federation, explained the decision to ban the players saying, “As a first step, these two will be denied entry to all tournaments taking place in Iran and in the name of Iran, they will no longer be allowed the opportunity to be present on the national team.” ((fa))Farsi language: ?????? ????? ?? ??? ??? ?? ??? ????? ?? ?? ???? ???????? ?? ?? ????? ? ?? ??? ????? ?????? ??????? ????? ??????? ? ???? ???? ???? ?? ??? ??? ?? ??????? ????. He further stated, “Unfortunately, something that should not have happened has happened and our national interest is paramount and we have reported this position to the Ministry of Sports.” ((fa))Farsi language: ????????? ?????? ?? ????? ????????? ?????? ??? ? ????? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ?????? ???? ? ?? ??? ???? ?? ?? ????? ???? ?? ????? ?????.

IM Dorsa Derakhshani, who currently studies at Saint Louis University in the United States and plays for the United States Chess Federation, discussed her chess career, time in Iran and the 2017 controversy, and her life in Saint Louis with a Wikinews correspondent.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Iranian_International_Master_Dorsa_Derakhshani_discusses_her_chess_career_with_Wikinews&oldid=4703628”

Police report drug haul seizure worth up to £30 million in Brownhills, England

Monday, December 2, 2013

Police in the West Midlands in England today said nearly 200 kilograms worth of drugs with value possibly as great as £30 million (about US$49 million or €36 million) has been seized from a unit in the town of Brownhills. In what an officer described as “one of the largest [seizures] in the force’s 39 year history”, West Midlands Police reported recovering six big cellophane-wrapped cardboard boxes containing cannabis, cocaine, and MDMA (“ecstasy”) in a police raid operation on the Maybrook Industrial Estate in the town on Wednesday.

The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated

The seized boxes, which had been loaded onto five freight pallets, contained 120 one-kilogram bags of cannabis, 50 one-kilogram bags of MDMA, and five one-kilogram bricks of cocaine. In a press release, West Midlands Police described what happened after officers found the drugs as they were being unloaded in the operation. “When officers opened the boxes they discovered a deep layer of protective foam chips beneath which the drugs were carefully layered”, the force said. “All the drugs were wrapped in thick plastic bags taped closed with the cannabis vacuum packed to prevent its distinctive pungent aroma from drawing unwanted attention.” Police moved the drugs via forklift truck to a flatbed lorry to remove them.

Detective Sergeant Carl Russell of West Midlands Police’s Force CID said the seizure was the largest he had ever made in the 24 years he has been in West Midlands Police and one of the biggest seizures the force has made since its formation in 1974. “The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated”, he said. “The drugs had almost certainly been packed to order ready for shipping within Britain but possibly even further afield. Our operation will have a national effect and we are working closely with a range of law enforcement agencies to identify those involved in this crime at whatever level.”

Expert testing on the drugs is ongoing. Estimates described as “conservative” suggest the value of the drugs amounts to £10 million (about US$16.4 million or €12 million), although they could be worth as much as £30 million, subject to purity tests, police said.

Police arrested three men at the unit on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. The men, a 50-year-old from Brownhills, a 51-year-old from the Norton area of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, and one aged 53 from Brownhills, have been released on bail as police investigations to “hunt those responsible” continue. West Midlands Police told Wikinews no person has yet been charged in connection with the seizure. Supplying a controlled drug is an imprisonable offence in England, although length of jail sentences vary according to the class and quantity of drugs and the significance of offenders’ roles in committing the crime.

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