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Fire burns at Barangaroo construction site, Sydney, Australia

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A large fire has started at the Barangaroo construction site overlooking Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, Australia. The construction company said fire broke out at about 2:10pm local time (0310 UTC) and appeared to have been caused by a welding accident in the basement of a building.

All site workers were evacuated without injury, according to Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Ian Krimmer. Large clouds of smoke were continuing to pour out of the building, casting a thick pall of smoke over the city skyline. Some nearby buildings have also been evacuated, including the KPMG building and offices of the Macquarie Bank.

Firefighters reported concern about a tower crane overhanging the building basement site. There were fears that the crane could buckle due to the heat and collapse. Firefighters were working to keep the base of the crane cool, and the stability of the structure was being monitored with lasers.

The Western Distributor motorway was closed to traffic, and Sydney Harbour Bridge partly closed. There had been major disruptions in traffic and multiple roads in the Sydney CBD (Central Business District) were gridlocked. People catching buses were advised to expect long delays.

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Australian Parliament hears reply to Budget

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Australian House of Representatives heard the traditional right-of-reply to the Budget released May 9, from the Australian Labor Party, led by Kim Beazley (Labor, Brand), plus Budget replies from minor parties in the Australian Senate.

While the Budget is politically popular, having as one of its main features significant tax reform, Beazley focused on the omissions in the Budget, such as the failure to address a skills shortage.

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Swiss reject single health insurance

Monday, March 12, 2007

24 of 26 Swiss Cantons rejected the proposal for a single health insurance system, in which premiums would be based on income and wealth. The vote on Sunday was the latest in a series of attempts to cut rising costs and ease the financial burden on citizens.

Around 71% of voters rejected the reform. Turnout was at about 46%, slightly above the Swiss average.

As expected, voters in the main German-speaking part of the country turned down the planned reform, which was supported by the centre-left but opposed by the centre-right as well as the business community, parliament and the government.

Opposition in the French and Italian speaking regions was less pronounced. The cantons Jura and Neuchâtel in the French speaking regions voted in favor of the proposed reforms.

Health insurance premiums are higher in southern and western Swiss cantons than in German-speaking areas.

The Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin said an important part of the Swiss Population appeared to be opposed to “a revolution” in health insurance but he said that he wanted current reforms currently under discussion in the Swiss Parliament to go ahead. He called on all sides, especially health insurers and the cantonal authorities, to make efforts to reduce spending on health insurance and aim for a greater cost efficiency. Currently Switzerland has 87 private insurers providing mandatory basic health care coverage for Swiss residents under a 1996 law. But costs have sky-rocketed. Over 100,000 people are not covered by health insurance due to non payment.

To win the battle of the cost of health care, everyone must place his or her private interests behind the interests of the general public. -Pascal Couchepin at a news conference

Opponents to the initiative argued that a single insurance system would lead to complacency and create a two-tier system, in which the wealthy would be the only ones available to afford to have additional private insurance coverage.

Supporters of the initiative said a single health insurer would increase the system’s efficiency and allow for annual savings of at least 300 million Swiss Francs (about $245 million) in administrative costs. Currently, the funding system is unbalanced, since many clients on low incomes use state subsidies to pay their premiums, according to the Green Party and the Social Democrats.

The initiative to unite all the insurance companies and introduce premiums based on wealth and income was the most recent in a series of attempts over the past ten years to reduce the public spending on health care. A proposal, similar to this recent proposal, to modify the funding system of the health insurance companies was rejected by 73% of voters in 2003.

Switzerland has the most expensive health system in Europe. Switzerland’s expenditure on health care was 11.6% in 2005, in front of Germany and France but behind the United States.

Learn more about Swiss Federal Council and Voting in Switzerland on Wikipedia.
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Different Uses Of Taser Guns

Submitted by: Cori N. Baker

A taser gun is not a deadly weapon unlike firearms. When fired towards a targeted person, it releases probes that sends electroshocks and incapacitates the individual for a couple of minutes. It can be used in direct contact on the skin or clothes of the person or fired at 15 feet or more, depending on the model purchased. Tasers have become popular today because of its function and use as self-defense weapon. However, taser guns have various uses in different fields today.

Consumer Use

Many civilians are considering the use of taser guns. This is because safety is becoming an utmost priority in these difficult times. Also, this is popular because it is a good alternative to firearms, which can be deadly when used. You can be protected with tasers without worrying if you are carrying a deadly weapon or keeping one at home with kids around. It also comes in 6 colors: black, red, yellow, blue, titanium, and pink taser.

Law Enforcement Use

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Taser guns have become essential in law enforcement. It is especially useful for crime prevention, domestic violence, and drug-related incidents. Bloodshed can be prevented with the use of a taser gun rather than any other type of firearm. In several states in America, officer injuries were reduced at up to 80%. Police departments are also reducing its workers compensation because there are less injuries and fatalities in line of duty.

Military Use

In situation of uncertainty, the military relies on taser guns for less lethal platform of force. It provides an alternative to deadly use of firearms and ammunition. Although a taser gun for military use is greatly different from a pink taser used by a civilian woman, it offers the same effect, which is to incapacitate a targeted person. But in the case of military tasers, there is a big improvement in terms of multi-functionality, range, control, and coverage.

Wildlife Management and Safety

The wildlife society and various associations in different states have found comfort in the use of taser guns. When working with wildlife animals, there s a certain danger involved, especially when these animals are in their vulnerable state trapped, entangled, or wounded. A wildlife professional may use a taser gun to briefly immobilize an animal to be able to care for his or her needs. No need for firearms that can cause greater damage. Furthermore, the wildlife professional will remain safe while working around the animals.

There are several models of taser guns for various uses. Civilians can use the basic, entry-level taser C2. Men can purchase the darker colors like black, blue, and titanium, while women might prefer a red, yellow, or pink taser for their personal use. High-end models are for military and law enforcement use and wildlife management. However, before purchasing, make sure you understand your state laws for any kind of restrictions or permits needed to carry such device. For professional use, be trained to use such devices for various cases and specific incidents. A taser gun is effective when used properly by the user.

About the Author: Cori N. Baker enjoys writing for which sells

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Still no action in standoff in Ontario town

Monday, April 17, 2006

Seven weeks after citizens of the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve repossessed land near Caledonia, Ontario, on February 28, the Ontario Provincial Police, who have authority from a court to arrest the protesters for contempt of court, have yet to act.

On April 11, more than 50 police cruisers, two paddy wagons, and several vans gathered outside an abandoned school on Unity Road in Caledonia. However, reports from last night are that visible police presence is minimal, with just a few police cruisers parked down the road from the protest site.

Before the site was blocked, Henco Industries had begun construction on 10 luxury homes out of a total of 71 scheduled to be built as part of the $6 million Douglas Creek Estates subdivision.

The tract of land under dispute was registered as a land claim by the Six Nations Band Council in 1987 but its status has yet to be settled. The land originally made up part of a large land grant given in 1784 to the Six Nations for services rendered during the American War of Independence. The government and the developer claim that the Six Nations surrendered title in 1841, but the Band disputes this.

The protesters are demanding a nation-to-nation dialogue with the Canadian government and continue to call for a peaceful resolution. Some protesters, however, have stated that if the OPP forcefully try to remove them, they will defend their land with force.

“If they break the peace, we’ll do what we have to do,” said protester Dick Hill. “Things are very tense. We are trying to defend our lands, which were taken from us. Every time we try to stand up for who we are and what we are, they come and drag us away.”

An injunction was issued to the development company a month ago that allowed for the protesters to be removed. Police have not enforced the injunction.

However, David Ramsay, Ontario’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister, said that the province was going to have a meeting with both protesters and developers in an attempt to address their concerns.

“This is a very serious situation. I have to be very hopeful that we’re going to see a peaceful end to this situation. We think we can resolve this by negotiating, and by talking so that’s what we’re doing,” added Ramsay.

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NSW Parliament passes alcohol-fuelled violence bill hours after drafting

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thursday morning, members of the Parliament of New South Wales, Australia, discussed drafts of two bills relating to liquor intoxication assault crimes starting at 10 o’clock in the morning (AEDT; 2100 UTC), and approved them later during the day: the Lower House approved at midday and the Upper House at 7pm. The new legislation imposes harsher penalties on behaviour under alcohol influence, and a set of other restrictions in the Sydney central business district (CBD).

The full formal names of the bills are Liquor Amendment Bill 2014 and Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014. The latter was assented, while the former was still pending assent from the Governor-General. The bills were cognate. The latter formally commenced on Thursday except for Schedule 5, maximum fines changes, subject to commence on a day appointed by proclamation.

The opposition said they would support the legislation before they saw it, citing support of any progress on such laws. The opposition leader, John Robertson, said “We will support the Government’s one-punch laws. The Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do something about alcohol-fuelled violence.”

The parties, while actively discussing the draft, did not support amendments raised during the discussion and the bill passed more quickly than usual, on the same day. However, Greens Member of Parliament (MP) John Kaye didn’t support the bills, naming some issues he didn’t expect the bill to address but found more important, such as “the dangerous promotions of deep discounting of alcohol, the failure to enforce responsible service of alcohol in venues and excessive liquor outlet density”.

One provision defined a new offense, assault causing death while intoxicated — by alcohol or other drugs — with an eight-year non-parole period. The penalty notice fines for misconduct and swearing in public were raised from AU$200 and $150 to $500, while the maximum fine for “continuation of intoxicated and disorderly behaviour following move on direction” — direction “to leave a public place and not return for a specified period” — was increased from 6 penalty units ($660) to 15 penalty units ($1,650).

The legislation also restricted sales of alcohol from bottle shops in the CBD until 10pm instead of midnight.

The bill was drafted in response to death of 18-year-old teenager named Daniel Christie on January 11, following eleven days in hospital after allegedly being punched by drunk Shaun McNeil, 25, at Kings Cross. He allegedly also attacked Daniel’s brother, Peter; McNeil’s court case has been adjourned until March.

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Tips On Choosing The Right Plumbers In Westchester County Ny

byAlma Abell

Running a household comes with so many challenges and knowing how to deal with those challenges is vital to the health of your home. There are so many different parts to a home and each one of them requires its own special attention. Among the most important parts of any home is the plumbing system and there are a variety of different things that can go wrong with it. When the time comes and you are facing issues with your plumbing, you need to find a reputable professional to help you out. The following are a few tips on choosing the right Plumbers in Westchester County NY.

Do They Have the Right Experience?

The first thing that you need to ask yourself is whether or not the plumbing company you are considering has the right experience to get the job done right. You need to make sure that a company has dealt with the issues that you are facing before because this will help to ensure the success of the repairs. The more you know about what a company can do for you and the problems you are facing, the easier it will be to choose the right one for the job.

How Long Will It Take Them?

Another important thing that you need to do when trying to choose the right plumber is to figure out how long it will take them. In most cases, the plumbing company will be able to look at the job you have and give you an estimate on the length of repairs. The more you are able to find out about how long the repairs will take, the better equipped you will be to get the right company for the job. You need to make sure that all time estimates are in writing to avoid any issues in the future. Contact Cassidy Plumbing for more information.

When in need of Plumbers in Westchester County NY, be sure to call on the team at Cassidy Plumbing. The team at Cassidy can get your repairs done in a fast manner without compromising the quality of the job. Visit for more information.

Interview with Liz Mumby, independent candidate in Australian by-election for the Victorian state electorate of Altona

Thursday, February 4, 2010

With a state by-election coming up in Victoria, Australia, many minor parties and independent candidates will be looking to gain a seat in the Legislative Assembly. Liz Mumby is one of the independents.

“I am a medical sales professional, a wife and mother and a small business owner,” says Mumby, the Division of Altona. “I don’t come from a political background, I live in the real world.” She argues that “we should not limit the debate to public transport issues just because the retiring member was the Minister for Public Transport.”

Wikinews reporter Patrick Gillett held an exclusive email interview with Mrs. Mumby.

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Chula Vista, California becomes model for blight control laws in the US

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The San Diego, California suburb of Chula Vista has responded to the recent housing crisis with an aggressive blight control ordinance that compels lenders to maintain the appearance of vacant homes. As foreclosures increase both locally and throughout the United States, the one year old ordinance has become a model for other cities overwhelmed by the problem of abandoned homes that decay into neighborhood eyesores.

Chula Vista city code enforcement manager Doug Leeper told the San Diego Union Tribune that over 300 jurisdictions have contacted his office during the past year with inquiries about the city’s tough local ordinance. Coral Springs, Florida, and California towns Stockton, Santee, Riverside County, and Murietta have all modeled recently enacted anti-blight measures after Chula Vista’s. On Wednesday, 8 October, the Escondido City Council also voted to tighten local measures making lenders more accountable for maintenance of empty homes.

Lenders will respond when it costs them less to maintain the property than to ignore local agency requirements.

Under the Chula Vista ordinance lenders become legally responsible for upkeep as soon as a notice of mortgage default gets filed on a vacant dwelling, before actual ownership of the dwelling returns to the lender. Leeper regards that as “the cutting-edge part of our ordinance”. Chula Vista also requires prompt registration of vacant homes and applies stiff fines as high as US$1000 per day for failure to maintain a property. Since foreclosed properties are subject to frequent resale between mortgage brokers, city officials enforce the fines by sending notices to every name on title documents and placing a lien on the property, which prevents further resale until outstanding fines have been paid. In the year since the ordinance went into effect the city has applied $850,000 in fines and penalties, of which it has collected $200,000 to date. The city has collected an additional $77,000 in registration fees on vacant homes.

Jolie Houston, an attorney in San Jose, believes “Lenders will respond when it costs them less to maintain the property than to ignore local agency requirements.” Traditionally, local governments have resorted to addressing blight problems on abandoned properties with public funds, mowing overgrown lawns and performing other vital functions, then seeking repayment afterward. Chula Vista has moved that responsibility to an upfront obligation upon lenders.

That kind of measure will add additional costs to banks that have been hit really hard already and ultimately the cost will be transferred down to consumers and investors.

As one of the fastest growing cities in the United States during recent years, Chula Vista saw 22.6% growth between 2000 and 2006, which brought the city’s population from 173,556 in the 2000 census to an estimated 212,756, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Chula Vista placed among the nation’s 20 fastest growing cities in 2004. A large proportion of local homes were purchased during the recent housing boom using creative financing options that purchasers did not understand were beyond their means. Average home prices in San Diego County declined by 25% in the last year, which is the steepest drop on record. Many homeowners in the region currently owe more than their homes are worth and confront rising balloon payment mortgages that they had expected to afford by refinancing new equity that either vanished or never materialized. In August 2008, Chula Vista’s eastern 91913 zip code had the highest home mortgage default rate in the county with 154 filings and 94 foreclosures, an increase of 154% over one year previously. Regionally, the county saw 1,979 foreclosures in August.

Professionals from the real estate and mortgage industries object to Chula Vista’s response to the crisis for the additional burdens it places on their struggling finances. Said San Diego real estate agent Marc Carpenter, “that kind of measure will add additional costs to banks that have been hit really hard already and ultimately the cost will be transferred down to consumers and investors.” Yet city councils in many communities have been under pressure to do something about increasing numbers of vacant properties. Concentrations of abandoned and neglected homes can attract vandals who hasten the decline of struggling neighborhoods. Jolie Houston explained that city officials “can’t fix the lending problem, but they can try to prevent neighborhoods from becoming blighted.”

Does Chula Vista’s solution save neighborhoods or worsen the financial crisis?
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CEO Robert Klein of Safeguard, a property management firm, told the Union Tribune that his industry is having difficulty adapting to the rapidly changing local ordinances. “Every day we discover a new ordinance coming out of somewhere”, he complained. Dustin Hobbs, a spokesman from the California Association of Mortgage Bankers agreed that uneven local ordinances are likely to increase the costs of lending. Hobbs advised that local legislation is unnecessary due to California State Senate Bill 1137, which was recently approved to address blight. Yet according to Houston, the statewide measure falls short because it fails to address upkeep needs during the months between the time when foreclosure begins and when the lender takes title.

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The Top Movers Of St. Paul

byAlma Abell

Moving is often stressful, back-breaking work. Whether you are moving down the block or across the country, the tension and effort are the same. Trying to coordinate home buying and selling while you attempt to remember to forward your mail, shut off utilities and then keep track of all your belongings can be more overwhelming than many homeowners are able to handle on their own.

Professional moving companies can remove a lot of the work and stress from the shoulders of harried homeowners. They can assist with how to appropriately pack belongings to ensure them a safe trip from one point to the next. Many will even assist with the task of packing itself. Once you are packed and ready to go, you will be able to concentrate on the task of getting yourself and your family to your destination while the movers wrangle your truckload of possessions.

When you choose the most qualified Movers of St. Paul such as Action Moving Services Inc., you will know your items are safe and secure. All of their movers are Certified Professional Movers and certified drivers through the American Moving and Storage Association.As top-rated Movers of St. Paul, they are able to help you move across the city, across the country or even assist you with an international move. They provide assistance for individual residential clients as well as offer a full range of corporate relocation services. They are even experienced at moving offices themselves, both within the St. Paul area or globally.

As certified professionals, they are also able to move other items such as museum exhibits and trade show items. They offer specially trained staff who are experts at packaging and moving delicate and valuable merchandise. They even provide environmentally controlled vans and expedited services for these materials.

You can call Action Moving Services for a full list of the services they offer. They can let you know the services they offer and give you a complete estimate on the services you require. As a Better Business Bureau accredited member and with many memberships in trade organizations, you know you can trust their services.

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