Mass evictions from Oakland’s public housing

Monday, May 15, 2006

Due to an Oakland housing official’s acts of fraud, 34 poor families face eviction from Lockwood Gardens, by order of the Oakland Housing Authority.

Fear and panic have set in at some of East Oakland’s public housing units, as police agents from the Oakland Housing Authority have been making late-night visits to tenants, and demanding that the families pack up and move within a five-day period.

After refusing to pack up and run, more than 30 families are facing mass eviction by the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) from their public housing units at Lockwood Gardens, a Hope VI Project on 65th Avenue in East Oakland.

The OHA is claiming that at least 34 families currently facing eviction from Lockwood Gardens are unlawful occupants (squatters) who have illegally gained possession of the housing units. OHA officials have served them 30-day, forcible-detainer eviction notices in an effort to remove them.

On April 28, the first three cases out of 34 families facing eviction were headed for Alameda County Superior Court, but the court hearings have been delayed repeatedly as Judge Winifred Smith moves to consolidate all the cases.

In defense of some of the evictees, Oakland’s Eviction Defense Center has teamed up with attorney Bob Salinas, of Sundeen Salinas & Pyle, to file a demurrer seeking dismissal of evictions on behalf of the first three families that were served forcible-detainereviction notices. Lockwood Gardens has 372 units; and it is part of a revitalization project of East Oakland’s public housing properties, and a partial recipient of $26,510,020 in grant funding from the Hope Vl program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The revitalization funds were divided between three public housing projects in 1994 and 1996, and renovations have since taken place to demolish and rebuild the three locations into modern housing units in Oakland’s eastside neighborhoods.

Laura Lane, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center, is also representing a number of the families facing eviction at Lockwood Gardens and those cases will head to court at a later date.

Currently, out of the 34 families facing eviction, the Eviction Defense Center (EDC) is representing nine families in court, and the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) is representing 12 families. One family has already been frightened into moving away fromtheir public housing unit by the OHA; no one seems to know if the remaining seven families facing eviction have moved away or are seeking legal representation elsewhere.

Jennifer Bell of Goldfarb and Lipman is the General Counsel for the Oakland Housing Authority, and is leading the charge in court to evict the 34 families from their housing units in East Oakland.

During an April 24th interview with David Lipsetz, a Senior Policy Analyst with the Oakland Housing Authority, he blamed the tenants for what is occurring and accused all the families of committing fraud to move into public housing. At first, 29 families facedeviction, although that number has slowly risen to 34 as new families are served with eviction notices.

“The OHA has served eviction notices to 29 families at Lockwood Gardens because none of the families applied for, or got onto the waiting list to move into their public housing units,” said Lipsetc. “The tenants worked with a former clerk to gain access to theunits. The OHA does not have any files on the families, and the OHA does not believe that any of the families signed a lease before moving into those units. Forcible detainers are standard procedure for those that have illegally moved into the OHA’s public housing units.”

Lipsetz said that the OHA just recently discovered that the 29 families who are now living in those housing units did not match the names of the clients on the OHA list waiting to move into those units.

“As far as we can tell,” said Lipsetz, “there were no signed leases, no files established for these families, no security deposits have been paid before moving in, and those families got ahead of all the other families on the waiting list to move in.”

Contrary to what Lipsetz stated on behalf of the Oakland Housing Authority, the facts reveal that the families have all signed Leases, Tenant Agreements To Maintain A Drug-Free Environment, Occupant’s Responsibility statements, Lease Compliance forms anda host of other documents before moving in otheir public housing units. Those documents were all counter-signed by a host of clerks and managers working for the OHA. The soon-to-be-evicted tenants’ Billing Summaries, Tenant Leases and Notices have a host of names on them, such as Kim Boyd, an OHA Supervisor; Donald McShane, an OHA Manager; and Alice Ferguson, another OHA Manager.

In addition, as important as it may be that low-income tenants should not jump in line ahead of one another to move into this much-needed subsidized housing, most housing authorities across the nation recently have said the hell with their waiting lists, and allowed Hurricane Katrina’s victims to jump in ahead of all of those already waiting in line for housing.

A web page called “HUD’s Public Housing Program” has a section titled “WHEN WILL I BE NOTIFIED?” HUD’s website states: “If the HA determines that you are eligible, your name will be put on a waiting list, unless the HA is able to assist you immediately.” Theweb page may be found at

After discovering that the families facing eviction did indeed sign leases and other documents before moving into Lockwood Gardens, suddenly no one at the OHA would go on record to comment about the signed documents that contradicted the accusations of OHA spokesman David Lipsetz.

The documents clearly reveal that the 34 families facing eviction at Lockwood Gardens have all beenchecked out, and qualified as being eligible to move into those units, regardless of what the OHA may say at this point.

The entire controversy appears to have been triggered by acts of deception and fraud on the part of an official of the Oakland Housing Authority, Carolyn Wilson. “The police have been looking for Carolyn Wilson of the Oakland Housing Authority ever since shedisappeared recently,” said Ms. Kelly, a resident of Lockwood Gardens who prefers to use only her last name for this story.

“I moved into Lockwood Gardens on October 27, and Carolyn Wilson’s name is on my lease,” said Kelly. “I first received a message from the OHA at my mother’s home, telling me that a unit was available at Lockwood Gardens, and I went to their office location on 65thAvenue to fill out the necessary forms to move in. I supplied birth certificates, photo IDs, Social Security numbers, income statements and everything else asked of me to qualify for moving in. There’s no way that I committed fraud by following through witheverything being asked of me by the Housing Authority.”

Kelley said she and her young child were disturbed by an unexpected, late-night arrival of OHA police at her door.

“I am a 41-year-old woman with an 11-year-old child, and I am very frightened by the way the OHA has been treating me,” she said. “I was terrified recently when the OHA Police showed up at my door around 10 p.m. at night, accusing my family of committing fraud to move into this townhouse; and they served me a five-day notice to surrender my home to the OHA, or else.”

Officer Jerold Coates, a 13-year employee of the OHA Police Department, and Officer Malcolm Williams are involved in the investigation taking place at Lockwood Gardens. According to Ms. Kelly, “Officer Coates told me that Carolyn Wilson was demanding that everyone must pay her $500 to $1,000 to move in, and he wanted to know how much I paid her before moving in. I denied payingMs. Wilson anything extra to move into Lockwood Gardens.”

Kelly added, “From what I am being told by others is that Carolyn Wilson of the OHA skipped town with everyone’s security deposits of $500 to $1,000 for each family involved in the scam, and that the OHA will not receive a subsidy from HUD for the familiesfacing eviction in those units, because the OHA believes that the wrong families are residing in those housing units.”

One of the families that moved into Lockwood Gardens, and is now facing eviction, moved away from another public housing location in Oakland in order to move into the Hope Vl project on 65th Avenue. It takes permission to move from one location to another in public housing, and managers or staff at the OHA had to give their blessings before this family was allowed to relocate to Lockwood Gardens.

Jorge Aguilar, an attorney for the Eviction Defense Center, has his own understanding of what is going on. “An agent of the Oakland Housing Authority defrauded nearly 30 families of the most vulnerable segment of the community,” he said. “They are now trying to cover their wrongful act by evicting those families. The OHA is trying to circumvent Measure EE [Oakland’s Just Cause for eviction measure]. The irony is that the OHA is using forcible detainers to evict, which have traditionally been used to defend tenants fromlandlords using self-help evictions.”

Aguilar recently witnessed the human suffering already caused by the OHA’s eviction threats and rough handling of the families involved. He said, “During a recent interview with one of the families facing eviction, a little boy started crying and stated thatthe police came by and tried to take my bedroom away from me.”

Another Lockwood Gardens tenant named Winou Wakeyo said, “I’m from Jimma, Ethiopa, and I moved into Lockwood Gardens on November 22, 2005. I work 12 hours a day on Sundays for a pastor who told me to come here to find housing, and I did everything the HousingAuthority asked of me before moving in. A big policeman came by recently late at night with a five-day notice telling me that I must surrender my home to the Housing Authority. There were two policemen. It scared me very much, and someone later told me to find a defender to save my housing, and I contacted the Eviction Defense Center for help.

“I do not understand the customs of this country, and I asked my defender what I did wrong, and I was told that someone stole some money. The Housing Authority stopped accepting my rent for April, and about two weeks ago, they suddenly sent back the rent that Ipaid for March, and I do not understand why they are doing this to me.”

Laura Lane, an attorney for the EBCLC, said, “The Oakland Housing Authority seems to be in a complete disarray. The management has failed to adequately screen, train or supervise its employees. But when the employees make mistakes or fail to follow the law, theOakland Housing Authority’s response is to blame the tenants, blame the attorneys, blame the federal government — blame anyone but the Oakland Housing Authority. There is an utter failure to accept personal responsibility.”

After it became apparent that many families were seeking legal help to fight the evictions, a meeting was held on March 20 at the East Bay Community Law Center for the victims of the housing scam. When the tenants started sharing what had occurred to them,most of the families involved suddenly realized that Carolyn Wilson of the OHA had stolen their security deposits, and skipped out of town.

Tenants at Lockwood Gardens believe that there may be another 40 families or more to face eviction, since they learned that OHA police are also investigating other public housing properties in Oakland that may be caught up in the housing scam.

As recently as April 22, OHA police were back at Lockwood Gardens pounding on the tenants’ doors, and demanding to know if the families have moved yet.

“This time the police were not satisfied to know if my family had moved yet,” said Kelly, “but they wanted to know if any of us noticed any other families moving out of here lately. Considering the way they have been treating us, I don’t think we have to tell them anything at this point, and they need to talk to my attorney if they have any further questions.”

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Pigs fed contaminated pet food; meat sold to consumers

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The contaminated pet food that was recalled after it was found to contain a harmful industrial chemical called melamine, has been used as pig feed at a hog farm in Ceres, California, located in the United States.

At least seven urine samples taken from pigs at the American Hog Farm, were tested and the results came back positive for the chemical melamine. At least three samples from the feed used to feed the pigs were tested and those results also came back positive for melamine.

Reports say that at least 100 pigs from the farm were slaughtered and sold from the “custom slaughterhouse” that is operated on the farms site. The meat is then sold to different places as “individual orders” and is not sold commercially for supermarkets. The affected meat goes as far back as April 3 and the company is asking anyone who bought it to return the product or throw it out.

Despite the sale, California State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Breitmeyer says that no evidence has turned up to suggest that the meat that was sold entered the human consumption chain.

“There is no evidence that any products from this farm have entered the food supply. The risk to people right now is minimal,” said Breitmeyer who also said that pet food from bags or boxes that have been torn or ripped, is sometimes reused as feed for small farms.

California’s Department of Food and Agriculture investigated the company and found that it had received the contaminated pet food from Diamond Pet Foods, which supplies retailers with the pet food Natural Balance, one of the over 100 recalled brands of pet food. Authorities then quarantined the farm to further investigate the situation.

At least 1,500 pigs are on the farm.

As of the moment, no other farms are being investigated, but officials say that other farms may also be affected.

“In the course of our investigation, we may find similar situations in other parts of the country,” said head of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Sundlof.

The FDA is continuing to investigate and Sundlof says that there is a possibility that the contamination of the pet food may be intentional.

“It would certainly lend credibility to the theory that it may be intentional. That will be one of the theories we will pursue when we get into the plants in China,” said Sundlof.

Last month, Menu Foods was the first to recall all of its 60 million products of dry and wet dog and cat food after pets began to fall ill and in some cases died of kidney failure. The FDA found melamine in samples of Menu Foods pet food and in samples of wheat gluten, imported from China, which was used as an ingredient.

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Searching For Wheelchairs: Exploring The Option Of Online Shopping}

Submitted by: Mark Twan

For those who are unable to walk as a result of an injury, a debilitating sickness or a disability, the wheelchair is an absolutely essential tool. A wheelchair can help people in these conditions feel much better about themselves by allowing them to be more independent, in the case of those who are capable of propelling themselves, and allow them to have more contact with the world around them that they would not be able to experience otherwise, mostly in the case of those who need help to move around. The wheelchair provides freedom, and lessens the burden of stress and sadness that can accompany the situations that lead to their necessity in peoples lives, which enormously improves their outlook on their situations and helps them get out and experience the world regardless of what ails them.

The trouble with finding the right wheelchair is the fact that there are so many for sale, in many different shapes and sizes, to accommodate for many different conditions. Where do you start looking for the one that suits you or your loved one the best? The common option is to visit local medical supply stores, who have a wide array of options. These stores exist everywhere, and have great customer service to help you find exactly what youre looking for. But if you dont have crutches, or a cane, or a walker, or are simply not able to leave your home, then its difficult to determine which one is suitable for you. Fortunately, there is another option; online shops.

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There are countless options to choose from, when it comes to online medical supply outlets. But the good thing about shopping for wheelchairs online is that youre able to research all the different kinds of wheelchairs that are available, and pick the one that would be the most useful for your situation. A good example of this type of website is In their catalog, you can see the wheelchair styles broken down into different categories, and from there, you can choose the make and model that interests you the most. In terms of weight capacity, there are many Standard Wheelchairs that cater to the majority of people of average build, Lightweight Wheelchairs and Ultra Lightweight Wheelchairs for those on the smaller side, and a variety of Heavy Duty Wheelchairs for those who require more strength and support.

Should you need one that is built to hold more weight than more common wheelchairs and are built to endure for many years, you might want to take a look at the EC Wheelchair selection. There are Combination Wheelchairs that allow an easy switching process to go between wheelchair and transport chair functions, so you can move yourself, and also have someone else move you quickly, if needed. For those who are implored not to move their bodies in and out of a wheelchair too often, theres also the option of Reclining Wheelchairs, which are crafted with hydraulic mechanisms that offer a smooth transition from an upright position all the way back to a horizontal position, to help you feel more comfortable when sleeping. If Power Mobility is what youre after, you can take a look at their selection of Power Wheelchairs, helping you get around without the need to push yourself. Looking for popular, reliable brand names? They carry both Sentra Wheelchairs and Viper Wheelchairs, in various models. If you already own a wheelchair and are curious about add-ons and upgrades, they also have Wheelchair Accessories and Wheelchair Front Rigging, which help you customize your vehicle to suit any purpose you require. And for those in need of Shower Chair Commodes and/or Shower Wheelchairs, there are several makes and models to choose from as well. Regardless of what you might purchase, you can rest assured that you dont have to worry about shipping costs, either; offers free shipping to any part of the United States.

Before your family members head out to medical supply stores to find a wheelchair for you, it would be a good idea to invest some time in looking for a good wheelchair online. Who knows, you might even find better equipment online, and save some money on the side. Youll be spending a large amount of time with whichever wheelchair you decide upon, so its wise to do some research online and see whats available. This way, youre guaranteed to find exactly the right one that will let you live comfortably and happily.

About the Author: It is recommended to visit

to know more about medical equipment.


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Emmanuel Macron wins French presidential election race

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

On Sunday, En Marche! candidate Emmanuel Macron won the second round of the 2017 French Presidential election, winning about 66.1 percent of the votes, defeating Front national’s Marine Le Pen with the final result declared yesterday. Winning the race with a significant vote difference, Marcon tweeted, “Everyone told us that it was impossible. But they did not know France!” ((fr))French language: ?Tout le monde nous disait que c’était impossible. Mais ils ne connaissaient pas la France !

With this victory, winning almost twice as many votes as Le Pen, 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron became the youngest President-elect of the Republic of France. In the first round of the election, held on April 23, no candidate won the absolute majority. The abstention rate increased from 22.23% to 25.44% in the second round, AFP reported, the first such second-round increase since 1969. He won the presidential race in the continuing state of emergency which was announced after the November 2015 Paris attack.

Known for her anti-European and anti-globalisation programme, far-right leader Le Pen managed to win about twice as many votes as her father and founder of the Front national party Jean-Marie Le Pen who lost to Jacques Chirac in 2002. Front national won the highest number of votes in their history.

In his speech in front of the glass pyramid near the Louvre Museum, Macron said, “I understand the divisions of our country that have led some to vote for extremists. I understand the anger, the anxiety, the doubts that a great part among us have also expressed.” ((fr))French language: ?Je sais les divisions de notre nation qui ont conduit certains à un vote extrême. Je sais les colères, les doutes, l’anxiété que certains ont exprimé. He also added, “I will defend France, its vital interests, its image, I promise you in front of you. I will defend Europe, our civilisation is at stake, our way of being free. I will work to re-establish the bonds between Europe and the citizens. I address to the nations of the world, the salvation of fraternal France.” ((fr))French language: ?Je défendrai la France, ses intérêts vitaux, son image. J’en prends l’engagement devant vous. Je défendrai l’Europe, c’est notre civilisation qui est en jeu, notre manière d’être libre. J’oeuvrerai à retisser les liens entre l’Europe et les citoyens. J’adresse aux nations du monde, le salut de la France fraternelle. Macron said he would serve as per the motto of France — Liberté, égalité, fraternité ((fr))French language: ?Liberty, equality and fraternity. Acknowledging the “immense” awaiting task, he said, “I will do everything I can in the coming five years to make sure you never have a reason to vote for extremism again”.

“Congratulations Emmanuel Macron! Let’s meet soon, and keep working to grow and strengthen the deep ties between Canada and France” ((fr))French language: ?Félicitations Emmanuel Macron! Rencontrons-nous rapidement et continuons à renforcer les liens de fraternité entre le Canada et la France, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted. German chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Macron via a telephone call.

French parliamentary elections are to be held in June, and Emmanuel Macron, who describes himself as “neither left nor right” does not have a party in the parliament. En Marche! was formed last year. Marine Le Pen tweeted that Front national “must renew itself to live up to this historic opportunity and expectations of France” ((fr))French language: ?doit se renouveler pour être à la hauteur de cette opportunité historique et des attentes des Français.

Current president, François Hollande announced he would not run for re-election in December.

“Everyone told us that it was impossible. But they did not know France!” ((fr))French language: ?Tout le monde nous disait que c’était impossible. Mais ils ne connaissaient pas la France !—Emmanuel Macron
20,753,798 10,644,118
Emmanuel Macron – En Marche! Marine Le Pen – Front national
Data from Ministère de l’Intérieu.
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Law center helps defend open source

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Eben Moglen, Columbia University Law Professor, will head the newSoftware Freedom Law Center (SFLC). An initial 4 million dollars has been provided by Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) to fund the project.

The law center will provide free legal service for open source projects and developers. In 2004 OSDL established a separate $10 million Linux Legal Defense Fund providing legal support for Linus Torvalds, Linux kernel creator and end user companies subjected to Linux-related litigation by the SCO Group. The new law center will not be affiliated with the OSDL.

“This is about taking care of the goose that laid the golden egg and not letting wolves come in the middle of the night and steal it away,” Moglen said during a press conference. “This is a legal firm not involved so much in litigating and defending as it will be for counseling and advising and nurturing non-profits and to prevent millions of dollars in litigation.”

Moglen will serve as chairman and director-counsel of the non-profit organization. Also on board as directors are: Lawrence Lessig, law professor at Stanford Law School; Daniel Weitzner, director of the World Wide Web Consortium‘s technology and society activities; and Diane Peters, general counsel at the OSDL. Daniel Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation, will help manage as legal director.

Moglen, one of the world.s leading experts on copyright law as applied to software, will run the new Law Center from its headquarters in New York City. The Law Center will initially have two full-time intellectual property attorneys on staff and expects to expand to four attorneys later this year. Initial clients for the Law Center include the Free Software Foundation and the Samba Project.

Other services provided by the SFLC include: asset stewardship, to avoid intellectual property claim conflict; license review and compatibility analysis; legal consulting and lawyer training.

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Climber dies on Mount Cook

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mark Vinar, an Australian climber from Perth, has been presumed dead after falling over half a kilometre from New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook. He is said to have lost his footing whilst descending the Zurbriggen Ridge.

His brother, Miles Vinar, was rescued by an alpine rescue team after being stranded for two days on a ridge on the mountain and airlifted by helicopter to Plateau Hut in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park on early morning Saturday.

Guides at Plateau Hut became concerned for the two brothers on Friday, when the latter did not return as was scheduled.

Police reports say that the two brothers were descending the ridge, with Miles Vinar going first: “Miles had to climb down using an ice pick and crampons. He instructed Mark about it, but for some reason Mark lost his footing and fell backwards and started rolling. He went behind some rocks, then appeared again rolling down the hill. He went down about 500 metres and then disappeared,” said Omarama police constable Les Andrew, adding that Miles was certain that it was poor that he was obliged to take cover in the snow and wait for rescue.

“There is no sign of the missing climber and it is presumed he has either fallen into a crevasse and become buried, or has been buried under snow and ice debris,” stated the New Zealand Department of Conservation, adding that there had been thirty centimetres of fresh snow.

Mark Vinar is the seventieth person to die on Mt Cook in a century, as well as the ninth to die on Zurbriggen Ridge. This is the second death on the mountain in only eight days: Kiyoshi Ikenouchi, a Japanese climber, died after being stranded on Mt Cook for a week, just hours before help arrived.

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Finding The Right Online Real Estate Program

byAlma Abell

Real estate is a great option for those seeking a change of career. A job in realty can often give you flexibility in your work day and workload. If you have a family or are currently working in another field, however, finding the time to obtain your license and complete your education can be difficult.

Online real estate programs are a great way for you to take the necessary coursework conveniently in the comfort of your own home. Whether you are new to the field and need a sales agent pre-license course or you’re looking to get your broker license, online education can provide you with the flexibility you need. Those who are continuing their education can also take advantage of convenient online courses, making it easier than ever before to keep up with all of your necessary coursework.

Online courses are not only more flexible than traditional classroom settings, they generally provide added features that a regular real estate program does not. Most classes include audio and video presentations as well as content reviews throughout the duration of the course. Online real estate programs are great if you are a working parent or have other responsibilities that can be difficult to juggle.

These online programs not only provide flexibility for your busy life, they also provide you with 120 hours of state-required education. You will use a PDF textbook covering real estate law, preparing you for your future career. Instructors are available in person and by phone during the week and by email during the evenings and weekends. Chapter quizzes and review exercises will help you know what you should study, and there are several comprehensive practice exams to help you prepare for the final test.

The path to your new career in real estate begins with your education. You must take the required classes before you can obtain your license, so finding a program that works for your schedule and budget is key. Online real estate programs even provide payment options similar to those in a traditional setting, making it easier than ever before for you to start the career of your dreams. No matter what your education level, or what your current job is, you can benefit from one of these online programs.

Take the first step to starting your new career in real estate. Click here and select one of the many online real estate programs that fit your needs. Online real estate programs can help get you on the path to a more exciting and fulfilling career.

Raids take place as enquiry into failed UK bombings continues

Friday, July 6, 2007

Australian police have questioned four more people in connection with the failed bombing attempts in London and Glasgow, seizing computers and other evidence in several raids.

The four being questioned are all doctors, working in hospitals in Perth and Kalgoorlie. They are reported to be of Indian origin, and have all been linked to the UK’s National Health Service. Two of the men arrested in the UK have similarly been linked to Western Australian hospitals, to which they had applied for jobs, receiving multiple rejections.

Police have been granted an extra 96 hours to question Mohammed Haneef, who was arrested at Brisbane International Airport on July 3. They will be examining several thousand files stored on Haneef’s laptop and a mobile telephone SIM card which had been left with a suspect.

Raids have also taken place in Cambridge, UK, at which four of the arrested suspects are believed to have lived and met in 2005.

The four men being questioned in Australia have not currently been placed under arrest, but are described as having links to the UK by the Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty.

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Wikinews Shorts: November 13, 2008

A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, November 13, 2008.

 Contribute to Wikinews by expanding these briefs or add a new one.

A new study has found that people storing extra fat around their waist have a strongly increased chance of early death, even if their overall weight is average. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine today, found that for each addition 5 cm on the waist, the chance of early death is increased by between 13% and 17%.

In the study, 360,000 people from across nine countries in Europe were surveyed.

One of the study’s authors, Professor Elio Riboli of Imperial College London, commented on the findings. “We were surprised to see the waist size having such a powerful effect on people’s health and premature death,” he stated.


  • “‘Love handles’ raise death risk” — BBC News Online, November 13, 2008
  • Ian Sample. “Waist, not just weight, shows risk of premature death, study says” — The Guardian, November 13, 2008
  • Tobias Pischon et al. “Abstract: General and Abdominal Adiposity and Risk of Death in Europe” — New England Journal of Medicine, November 13, 2008

The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has today lifted its ban on unusually shaped fruits and vegetables, in what the EU’s agriculture commissioner has called “a new dawn for the curvy cucumber and the knobbly carrot”.

The regulation has previously been criticized as an example of the EU’s bureaucracy by critics of the organisation.

The products affected by the deregulation are apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocadoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, water melons and witloof/chicory.


  • “EU slices up ‘ugly fruit’ rules” — BBC News Online, November 13, 2008
  • “Europe Relaxes Rules on Sale of Ugly Fruits and Vegetables” — New York Times, November 13, 2008

A vase purchased at a car boot sale for £1 has sold for £32,450, following advice from experts on the BBC‘s Antiques Roadshow television program. The vase was sold in an auction at Christie’s.

The vase was found to be a 1929 work made by the French designer Rene Lalique.


  • “Car boot sale vase nets £32,450” — BBC News Online, November 13, 2008
  • “£32,449 profit for car boot sale vase by Lalique” — Times Online, November 13, 2008

Recent anonymous press briefings by US State Department officials indicated that its arms control division may punish Blackwater Worldwide for improper paperwork.

The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls has the power to fine or agree voluntary penalties with exporters of certain weapons, who do not follow correct procedures. Blackwater Worldwide, a private military company, exported automatic weapons to Iraq that became the subject of a federal investigation first disclosed in 2007.Concern was expressed by the unnamed officials that paperwork errors may make the weapons untraceable, and that some reached Iraq’s black market.


  • “Blackwater Faces Millions in Fines for Weapons Shipments (radio show transcript)” — Democracy Now!, November 13, 2008
  • Knight Ridder / McClatchy Newspapers. “Blackwater faces Fines over Arms Deal” —, November 13, 2008
  • Dan Friedman, Congress Daily. “Blackwater could face sanctions for improper arms shipments” — Government Executive, November 7, 2008

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Turkish Parliament approves military action in Iraq

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On Wednesday, Turkey’s Grand National Assembly voted 507-19 to authorize sending troops into northern Iraq to pursue Kurdish rebels. Although the authorization is valid for one year, Turkish officials made clear that it would not necessarily result in military action. Both the United States and Iraq have recently warned Turkey against such an incursion.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an said that although the motion does not indicate that a military operation is imminent, it is necessary for Turkey to be able to respond to bomb attacks which have been blamed on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels in Iraq. Turkey has been asking for help in dealing with the PKK for months, and the Turkish public has grown frustrated with America’s perceived lack of action on the issue.

Both the United States and Iraq have recently warned Turkey against an incursion into Iraq. “The Iraqi government calls on the Turkish government to pursue a diplomatic solution and not a military solution to solve the [problem] of terrorist attacks which our dear neighbor Turkey has witnessed from the PKK,” Iraq government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh said earlier this week. White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe called on Turkey “to continue their discussions with us and the Iraqis and to show restraint from any potentially destabilizing actions.”

Responding to the motion, U.S. President George W. Bush urged Turkey not to carry out an attack, saying “[we are] making it clear to Turkey it is not in their interest to send more troops in… there is a better way to deal with the issue.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad defended Turkey’s decision and criticized the U.S. position, saying “It is important to note that the powers that have invaded Iraq are those primarily responsible for the terror activities and attacks because they control the country.” “We certainly support and back the decisions by the Turkish government in combat against terror and terror activities,” he said.

Murat Karayilan, the leader of the armed wing of the PKK, warned Turkey of the consequences of an attack in an interview with The Times. “If the Turkish Army attacks Iraqi Kurdistan we will struggle and resist against this until the end,” he said. Karayilan nevertheless said he hoped that the crisis could be resolved peacefully but continues attacks on Turkish soldiers, killing 12 in an ambush yesterday.

U.S.-Turkish relations have been strained recently after a U.S. House of Representatives resolution passed committee, labeling the World War I era killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as “genocide”. Turkey strongly disputes these claims. Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the US House of Representatives will vote on the resolution “soon.”

President Bush criticized the resolution at a press conference on Wednesday, saying “One thing Congress should not be doing is sorting out the historical record of the Ottoman Empire.”

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