Six teenagers die in car accident in Victoria, several others injured

Monday, February 27, 2006

Six teenagers were killed in a horrific road accident near Mildura in north-western Victoria, Australia late at night on February 18.

Cassandra Manners, aged 16, Stevie-Lee Weight, 15, Cory Dowling, 16, Shane Hirst, 16, and his sister, Abby Hirst, 17, died at the scene. Josephine Calvi, 16, was flown to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where she later died of head injuries. Seven other teenagers were injured, including 15-year-old Marco Medici who is now in a stable but critical condition in The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.

The accident occurred after the teenagers left a 16th birthday party and walked along Myall Road, Cardross, south-east of Mildura. A car allegedly came speeding around a bend, hit the gravel on the side of the road, lost control and struck the group. The alleged driver, later identified as 34-year-old Thomas Graham Towle, fled the scene on foot, leaving his 10-year-old daughter and four-year-old son in the car. Towle was later arrested by police in Redcliffs. He was taken to Mildura police station for questioning.

Towle has been charged with six charges of culpable driving causing death, four charges of negligently causing serious injury, one charge of failing to stop and one charge of failing to render assistance after an accident. Towle faced Mildura Magistrates’ Court on February 20. Magistrate John Dugdale remanded him into custody to reappear before the court on June 26.

Meanwhile, the town of Mildura and surrounding areas is in deep mourning. Premier Steve Bracks said the State Government will provide $AU40,000 for counselling and support services.

Around 3,000 people attended the funeral for Josephine Calvi today. Funeral services for the other five teenagers were held last week.

London court jails man after Dark Web ricin sting

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mr Justice Saunders today imprisoned a man for eight years at the Old Bailey in London after an FBI sting in which he tried to buy ricin on the Dark Web.

Everyone needs to know that the possession of a chemical weapon is extremely serious and long prison sentences will follow

Mohammed Ali, 31, from Liverpool, was convicted at trial of attempting to possess a chemical weapon. He told the jury he was “curious” about the Dark Web, which is a largely hidden and difficult to police section of the Internet. Ali said he didn’t realise he had done anything illegal.

Ali was prosecuted under the Chemical Weapons Act 1996 after sending an undercover agent a message reading “Hi, would you be able to make me some ricin and send it to the UK?” He bought 500mg, which has the potential to kill about 1,400, but was sent a dummy package. Counter-terror police in the UK liaised with the FBI.

The powder, which Ali paid for in BitCoin, was actually harmless. Hidden inside a toy car, the package was treated with markers and his face glowed under ultraviolet light, indicating he had handled it. The judge said today there was “real risk” involved.

Ali told his trial he had discovered drugs and guns for sale. Computer analysis showed he had looked up ricin and other poisons; he said he went for ricin simply because it had appeared in Breaking Bad. He also searched for small animals after being advised to test it on a rodent; a to-do list on his computer included “paid ricin guy” and “get pet to murder”.

Mr Justice Saunders said the case called for “a deterrent sentence”, which “will appear harsh to the defendant and his family.” “Everyone needs to know that the possession of a chemical weapon is extremely serious and long prison sentences will follow.”

Choosing The Right Type Of Deck Just For You

Choosing the Right Type of Deck Just for You by Cal GoldenSo you have decided to add beautiy and functionaloty to your home by adding a deck. Wonderful choice. With all of the different types and designs availble, having an understanding of them can make your decision alot easier.Ground-level DecksThis the most common form mof deck. As the name implies, these decks are built on the ground and are normally up to a height of four to five feet. Unless a pit is dug to hold the joists and supproting foundation, the lowest deck would be approximately one foot off the ground. If the wood lies directly on the ground without a supporting foundation, it is a patio.High-rise DecksHigh-rise decks are usually built in response to site conditions such as access to an upper-level doorway or the desire to catch a certain view of the surrounding area. These decks superior structures when exposure to the sun and breeze are important. The height of this type of deck makes necessary the proper sizing of the supporting columns and bracing, which is an extremely important facor for stability and safety.Mulitlevel DecksA multilevel deck offers a unique response to the solution of many problems at the same time. It can allow for varied usage based on the criteria for sun/shade, privacy, and breeze. When used for a party or other entertainment, a multilevel deck will let more intimate groupings of people to gather and form.This type of deck is often extremely attractive and enhances the apperance of a home significantly.Load-bearing DecksAs the name imples, a load-bearing deck must support an unusual amount of weight. In other words, more than the normal backyard variety deck. These structures are normally built to solve such problems as how to house a motor vehicle in a carport built over a hillside. When the cost of excavation to level an area is prohibitive, this type of deck might be the only economical solution to the problem. The materials used in this deck and suppporting columns and foundations are substantially stronger than the average backyard deck. It is advisable to seek the advice of a professional if this is the kind of deck you need to construct.Rooftop DecksIf your yard condition is crowded, a rooftop deck might be the one for you. Many houses are built with the upper windows that could be converted into doors. Perhaps you have an attic that could be transformed into a family room. A rooftop deck is a natural extention for this type of environment.This type of deck plays on the house’s existing foundation. Stability concerns are usually not a major factor in building this deck.Roofs can be either flat or sloped. It is easier to construct a deck on a nearly level roof. A sloped deck requires additional supports to achieve a level condition, whereas a nearly level roof deck can be leveled with simple blocking.A prime concern in building a rooftop deck is avoiding damage to the roof and not impeding the run-off of water when it rains. For sloped roofs, your deck structure will make it impossible to replace the roof in years to come. It is avisable to replace the roof before adding the deck. Be certain that the supports or fasteners for your deck do not pierce nor wear away the roofing to cause leaks.For more tips on wood deck plans please visit Deck Designs where you will find information on composite decks, deck awnings, deck benches, and deck contractors.Article Source: eArticlesOnline.com

Canterbury farmers to get aid because of snow

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The New Zealand government officials have announced that it will give NZ$160,000 in aid to help farmers who were affected by the huge amounts of snow in Canterbury, New Zealand two weeks ago.

The aid package will provide four regional offices for co-ordination, food supplies and ongoing support.

The Federated Farmers for mid Canterbury say that the aid will be a start to what looks like a tough winter. President of the mid Canterbury Federated Farmers Rupert Curd says, “It is too early to say exactly how much help the relief package will provide.”

The snow has not yet reached a crisis point.

The Insurance Council has estimated the cost of the snow storm has reached $35 million so far. Chief Executive of the Insurance Council says, “There has been damage to homes, commercial premises both on farms and in town and vehicles. Businesspeople who have been without power are also claiming for loss of income.”

The Minister of Agriculture Jim Anderton has said that they are not ruling out giving further aid.

Wikipedia founder embroiled in affair and financial allegations

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

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

The implosion of a relationship between Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and journalist Rachel Marsden has resulted in controversy and international headlines. Associated Press and ABC News have also reported on questionable activity by Wales involving Wikimedia Foundation expenses. The Wikimedia Foundation is a donor-supported non-profit organization which runs Wikipedia.

Marsden had contacted Wales two years ago about concerns she had over the article about her on Wikipedia, and Wales determined the article was not compliant with Wikipedia’s standards. The tech blog Valleywag revealed Wales had a personal relationship with Marsden, and posted supposed transcripts of their instant message conversations on its site, www.valleywag.com. Wales and Marsden met in February, and The Times reported that “An apparent transcript of their conversations before that meeting suggests that, although Mr Wales had withdrawn from the editing process, he was still influencing the editors.” The Times quoted Wales from the chat logs as having stated to Marsden “The truth is of course a much worse conflict of interest than that; but that will do.” — in reference to his conflict of interest regarding Marsden’s article on Wikipedia.

Wales posted a public statement on Saturday on Wikipedia addressing the matter, and stated that his relationship with Marsden was over: “First, while I find it hard to imagine that anyone really cares about my sex life, the facts are: I am separated from my wife. I considered myself single at the time of my one meeting with Rachel Marsden on Feb. 9, 2008 … I am no longer involved with Rachel Marsden. Gossipy stories suggesting that I have been in a relationship with her ‘since last fall’ are completely false … I care deeply about the integrity of Wikipedia, and take very seriously my responsibilities as a member of the board and as a member of the Wikipedia community. I would never knowingly do anything to compromise that trust.” With regard to the conflict of interest in Marsden’s article, Wales had acknowledged to a team of Wikipedia editors in February 2008 that he and Marsden “became friends … and that we would be meeting about that,” and stated “I recused myself from any further official action with respect to her biography.”

On Sunday, The Canadian Press reported that Marsden had posted photos of herself on Ebay, and was selling items that Wales had left at her New York City apartment. In her Ebay posting, Marsden stated: “Hi, my name is Rachel and my (now ex-) boyfriend, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, just broke up with me via an announcement on Wikipedia … It was such a classy move that I was inspired to do something equally classy myself, so I’m selling a couple of items of clothing he left behind, here in my NYC apartment, on eBay. Jimbo was supposed to come visit me in a couple of weeks and pick up some of his stuff, but obviously that won’t be happening now.” Marsden told The Canadian Press “It didn’t really help matters that Jimmy chose to announce the breakup to the entire world via Wikipedia (which apparently now is an online encyclopedia that doubles as a personal soapbox?) rather than to me directly (which he did much later, in an instant message discussion).”

I care deeply about the integrity of Wikipedia, and take very seriously my responsibilities as a member of the board and as a member of the Wikipedia community. I would never knowingly do anything to compromise that trust.

Marsden placed a t-shirt and sweater which she said were left at her apartment by Wales up on Ebay, and started the bidding for each at ninety-nine cents, with the auctions set to end on March 12. By Monday, bidding on the t-shirt had reached US$300, and by Tuesday the highest bid had reached $12,200. In an email to The Globe and Mail, Marsden stated “My only focus right now, to be really honest, is on my career and finding a way to get back into print, TV, or radio here in NYC,” she wrote. “All of this other personal stuff is just an unfortunate distraction.”

Jay Walsh, the Wikimedia Foundation’s head of communications, told the San Jose Mercury News that Wales’ actions in relaying Marsden’s concerns about her Wikipedia article to a team of trusted editors was within his “routine” role. When asked by the San Jose Mercury News if Wales’ actions regarding the Marsden article could compromise his role with the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia, Walsh responded “No, absolutely not.”

On Tuesday, ABC News carried a story by Wired News reporter Megan McCarthy regarding allegations of “excessive spending” by Wales, and Associated Press also reported on questions involving Wikimedia Foundation expenses. McCarthy reported that former Wikimedia executive Danny Wool, who had left the foundation last year, criticized Wales’ use of Wikimedia Foundation expenses in a blog post. Wool stated that Wales had tried to expense $300 bottles of wine, a $1,300 dinner for four at a Florida steakhouse, and visits to Moscow massage parlors to the foundation, and that the foundation rescinded Wales’ corporate credit card in 2006. Wool also stated that Wales paid the foundation $7,000, after being short $30,000 on receipts for expenses.

Wool told EPICENTER that “There were occasions where he used [the Wikimedia Foundation] for personal advancement under the guide [sic] of the mission. And, as someone who was in there for the mission part of it, I found that rather distressful.” Wool commented in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle: “Originally, it was carelessness … But as things developed, it became more apparent and obvious that he was taking advantage of the foundation credit card. It was almost like his personal piggy bank.”

Jimmy has never used Wikimedia money to subsidize his personal expenditures. Indeed, he has consistently put the foundation’s interests ahead of his own.

In an instant message exchange with Associated Press, Wales denied that the Wikimedia Foundation had taken away his corporate credit card, and asserted that he had made the decision to stop expensing business travel for the foundation. Wales highlighted a statement by the foundation’s executive director Sue Gardner: “Jimmy has never used Wikimedia money to subsidize his personal expenditures. Indeed, he has consistently put the foundation’s interests ahead of his own.” In an email to Associated Press, Brad Patrick, a former attorney for the Wikimedia Foundation, stated “Danny seems interested in blogging his way straight to a lawsuit”.

Florence Devouard, who chairs the Wikimedia Foundation, told Associated Press that Wales had been “slow in submitting receipts,” and that the foundation had rejected Wales’ expense at the Florida steakhouse. Devouard told fellow foundation board members in a private email that she had convinced Associated Press that “the money story was a no story,” and told Wales “I find (it) tiring to see how you are constantly trying to rewrite the past. Get a grip!” Wales told Associated Press: “The board, the current executive director, the previous executive director, and independent auditors have reviewed our books and publicly agree that all of my expenses were appropriate and fully accounted for.”

Media reports speculated on how the controversy would end up being represented in Wikipedia itself. On Wednesday, the St. Petersburg Times wrote: “Wales’ Wikipedia page said only this about Marsden: ‘Wales had a brief relationship with Canadian journalist Rachel Marsden.'” An article in The Australian surmised: “History will decide whether Mr Wales broke his own principles, but before that happens there may well be a Wikipedia page devoted to the controversy.”

ONCE defeats Getafe 86-36 in Spain’s top level wheelchair basketball league

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Saturday in a game played at Colegio San Agustin in Madrid in Spain’s top level wheelchair basketball league, CD Fundosa ONCE decisively beat Getafe BSR 86–36. ONCE, with 2012 Summer Paralympics Australian international Bill Latham and British international Terry Bywater, came into the game with a multi-game winning streak in which they averaged 79 points while holding their opponents to an average of 31.5 points.

Coming to the game with several loud chanting fans and a drum, Getafe scored the first point of the game about 15 seconds into it off a free throw made by Polish player Krzysztof Bandura. ONCE got the ball, and quickly scored 2 points.

With 8:34 left in the first quarter, Getafe led 3–2. Cuidad Real local Francisco S. Lara was doing a lot of early shooting and rebounding for Getafe.

By the time there was 6:42 left in the first quarter, ONCE had pulled ahead with an 8–5 lead. Gexto native Carlos Medina kept his team in it, scoring two points with 5:10 left in the first. Terry Bywater tried a behind the back pass at 4:45 left in the first that resulted in turning the ball over to Getafe. With 4:08 left in the first, Bywater made a 3 pointer that tied the score up at 13–13. Shortly after that, ONCE had a player get a personal foul, turning the ball over to Getafe who were unable to hold onto it.

With 2:20 left in the first, ONCE led 15–13 and a timeout was called. Players took the opportunity to re-hydrate. From this point, ONCE never lost the lead. A few seconds after the timeout, they made a 2 pointer to bring the score to 17–13. They built on that for a score of 19–13 with 1:00 minute left in the first. Bywater committed a personal foul in the remaining minute, falling over in his wheelchair while committing it.

With a few seconds left in the first, ONCE scored and Getafe was unable to get a shot up in the remaining seconds. The first quarter ended 21–13.

Getafe scored first in the second quarter. ONCE was unable to answer back on their run down the court, with Getafe getting the ball back and also being unable to score. The start of the second saw ONCE more aggressive than Getafe, earning a few personal fouls.

The Getafe coach verbally expressed his frustration his team’s lack of rebounding at 7:42 in the second. Shortly after that, he made a substitution. By the time there was 7:09 left in the second, ONCE led 26–17. They added another two points at 6:09 to bring the score to 28–17.

With 5:17 left in the second, ONCE forced a turn over, and made a substitution with Spanish international Paul Zarzuela coming out. Getafe committed personal fouls at 4:00 and 3:46 left in the second. With 3:39 left on the clock, the score was 30–17. Jerez de la Frontera native Alejandro Zarzuela made a pair of free throws shortly after that to bring the score to 32–17.

Getafe took a timeout, and made a substitution, bringing in Virginia Perez, the team’s only female player. With 3:11 left in the second quarter, Spanish international Rafael Muiño scored an easy layup for ONCE to bring the score to 34–17. With 2:47 left, Getafe made another substitution, taking Swiss international Maurice Amacher out.

Getafe sent ONCE to the free throw line at 2:31 but ONCE was unable to make either basket. With 2:29 left in the second, Zarzuela needed a wheel change. At 2:17, Connecticut native Ryan T. Martin shot an air ball. At 2:09, Bill Latham was at the line for ONCE, making his first free throw but missing his second. With 1:44 left, Getafe scored for the first time since the eighth minute of the second quarter. Getafe fouled Latham, who went to line and successfully converted the three-point play.

With 1:11 left in the second and the score at 41–19, the Getafe coach threw his clipboard on the ground. With less than a minute left in the half, Getafe spent a lot of time playing with the ball and almost had a shot clock violation, before turning the ball over. ONCE capitalized on it to score, ending the half with a score of 43–19.

The third quarter started with Getafe possession, but the team quickly turned the ball over, followed by Canary Islands native Daniel Serapio committing a foul against ONCE. At 9:21 left in the third, the first points of the quarter were scored, bringing the game to 45–19 in a three point play that Latham successfully finished to bring the score to 46–19. At 8:49, Medina took a shot for Getafe and missed. ONCE got the rebound, only for Getafe to foul them. At 8:33, Getafe made a substitution, taking Serapio out and putting Madrid native Angel Silvela in. At 8:00 left, Getafe got their first points of the quarter when Medina made two points to bring the score to 46–21.

At the 7:29 mark in the third, Getafe got a rebound off an ONCE shot turned the ball over to ONCE who then scored two points bringing the score to 48–21. At 7:11 left, Czech player Petr Tucek subbed out after his behind small wheel came off.

ONCE subbed three people in at the 6:17 mark, bringing in Madrid native Carlos Vera, Barcelona native Jaume Llambi, and Pablo Zarzuela. Alejandro Zarzuela scored one of his two free throw attempts at 6:09 to bring the score to 49–23. ONCE scored another basket at the 5:39 mark. Getafe’s Medina made a pass to no one at 5:18, but his team managed to get the ball back — but were unable to get their own rebound. Getafe made a substitution at the 5:01 mark, with Lara coming in for Madrid native Jose Angel Mingo.

Pablo Zarzuela went to the free throw line for ONCE, missing both shots for score of 52–23. He recovered his rebound, missed with Latham getting the rebound and making the shot at the 4:34 mark in the third.

Bandura got a shot up for Getafe at the 4:29 mark but missed. ONCE scored 2 points at 4:05 to bring the score to 56–23. Bandura scored Getafe’s next points at the 3:29 mark for the game to be 58–25. At 3:07, the score is 58–27. At the 2:28 mark, Rodríguez gets an ONCE rebound, Latham gets the ball, shoots and misses. ONCE got their own rebound and scored 2 points to bring the game to 60–27 at the 2:15 mark. They quickly got another 2 points, and a timeout was called at 1:57 left in the third. Tucek had successfully re-attached his wheel but was not subbed in. Getafe’s Iranian international Morteza Gharibloo made a three point shot attempt that was an airball at the 1:36 mark, with ONCE picking the up the rebound. ONCE turned the ball over, with Getafe regaining possession only to lose it because of a shot clock violation. The third quarter ended 62–27.

45 seconds into the fourth quarter, ONCE subbed Vera out, bringing Alejandro Zarzuela in. Tucek scored for ONCE at the 9:05 mark. With 8:45 left in the game, Martin took a shot and missed. At the 8:36 mark, a technical was called against Getafe with Bywater taking both shots. Making both, the score was then 66–29. Latham scored for ONCE at 8:23. Swiss international Philipp Häfeli was double teamed, and fouled at 8:07. By the time 6:59 was left in the game, the score was 72.33. Latham scored for ONCE at the 6:15 mark following a missed shot by Rodríguez.

Llambi went to the line for a pair of shots at the 6:02 mark, missing both free throws. At the 5:43 mark, Latham was fouled. Rodríguez brought the ball in for his team. Bywater put up a three point shot, but missed. Gharibloo got the rebound for Getafe, took a shot and also missed.

With 4:54 left, ONCE scored for the score to be 76–34. At the 3:24 mark, Spanish international Almudena Montiel entered the game for the first time following a timeout. Montiel was the only woman on the ONCE team. ONCE then scored with 3:14 left in the game, bringing the score to 80–34. The game would go on to end 86–36 following a basket made by Llambi with 0:15 left in the game.

Next week, ONCE is scheduled to play Adapted Sports Cai Zaragoza in a fourth round game played at home.

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ONCE warming up before the game.Image: Laura Hale.

The opening tip off.Image: Laura Hale.

Getafe inbounds the ball.Image: Laura Hale.
A Getafe player gets assistance after falling over.Image: Laura Hale.
Bywater inbounds the ball.Image: Laura Hale.
Bywater takes the technical shots for ONCE.Image: Laura Hale.
Play media

Getafe fans cheering for their team.Image: Laura Hale.

Nine Peruvians rescued from collapsed mine

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nine Peruvian miners were extracted from a collapsed copper mine Wednesday morning after spending six days underground. They were trapped under the Cabeza de Negro mine in Ica, Peru since the cave-in last Thursday.

It’s pretty ugly inside.

The rescue operation over the weekend was delayed by another cave-in. Workers used shovels, pickaxes, and wheelbarrows to remove more than 26 feet of earth. The only source of communication and provisions including food, water, and oxygen was a tube set in place before the shaft collapsed. Inside the mine, the men told jokes to maintain their spirits. “It’s pretty ugly inside,” said Edwin Bellido, one of the freed miners. “We slept on the ground on muddy plastic.”

President Ollanta Humala welcomed the miners as they ascended from the mine. The event rekindled Humala’s efforts to convert Peru’s illegal mines into government-recognized entities that could be regulated for safety. “This should lead us to reflect that we have to avoid these kind of risks because the results will not always be like today,” said Humala.

The nine men trapped in the southern mine will be alright after they get over dehydration and dizziness, the president said. Mining accidents killed more than 50 individuals last year in Peru’s illegal mines.

The Villas Of Bali}

The villas of Bali

by

Nigel FineEvery year there are millions of people who visit Indonesia and almost every person visit this country for Bali. The western world has always looked Bali as the last paradise on earth where the traditional society has remained insulated from the modern world. This image has only been accentuated by the Balinese people who are known to exude warmth.There are many places of interest in Bali. In you are looking to spend your time amidst the quaint villages; you could visit Ubud, famous for its terraced rice fields and rich cultural heritage. If white pristine beaches interest you, you could spend your time in Lovinia or Kuta. If you are a shopaholic, there’s Seminyak which is every shopper’s paradise.However, to enjoy the many pleasures of Bali, you need to enjoy it with complete solitude. There are many resort hotels in Bali that offer the best in world class luxury. But if you wish to enjoy the place without being disturbed by other tourists, then the best option is to hire a villa.The modern traveler today, wants the best value for money, where he would be given personalized services and facilities. Also, privacy is the main reason why people choose villas over resorts. You could play your favorite music on a loud speaker and still not be bothered about disturbing others. These villas have understood that every traveler has a different consideration and try their best to provide facilities that are well suited according to the person’s taste. Among the customized service that most villas offer are services like babysitting, personal butlers, round the clock security, housekeepers and even gardeners. From in-villa dining, in-villa spa- treatments, in-villa cultural activities they go that extra mile to make your trip a memorable one. All you have to do is choose the best activities from the menu. There are many tour operators that organize sightseeing tours, but these are pre planned packages that have a little of everything. If would like to spend some extra time by the sea, you wouldn’t be able to. However, almost all the villas offer to take tourists on a sightseeing tour where you can plan your tour according to your choice. You can also be assured of being treated like royalty. All this can be enjoyed at affordable rates. These villas can be rented from as low as $ 50/night to $ 1500 and above/ night.The best way to understand Balinese culture is to book you in one of the many villas that are strategically placed in the heart of the villages of Bali. You could take a morning walk around the villages and learn more about their art, architecture and their tradition. There are many villas that even offer to impart classes on Balinese food. All these facilities have made the villas of Bali the choice of many tourists.

The author of this article has great knowledge about the

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Bali villas

. He has helped many people out there to get the best

Bali villa deal

at affordable prices. He well knows the fact that there are several things to be considered while choosing the Bali villa. He has written many articles on choosing the Bali holiday villa.

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US Senate advances health care reform bill

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The US Senate has voted by 60 to 40 votes to close debate on landmark health care reform legislation backed by President Barack Obama but unanimously opposed by Republican lawmakers. Now, the divided chamber appears to be heading towards a vote to pass the bill on Thursday.

All 100 senators were gathered in the Capitol building for a key procedural vote on health care reform legislation. All 58 Democrats in the Senate, plus the two independents who normally vote with them, voted for cloture, which limits the length of debate. All forty Republicans unanimously opposed the cloture.

The bill would extend health insurance coverage to 30 million US residents who currently lack it, and forbid insurance companies from practices such as denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Most residents would be required to purchase health insurance for the first time, with subsidies provided to those who cannot afford it.

“We’ll get this [bill] passed before Christmas and it will be one of the best Christmas presents this Congress has ever given the American people,” said Democratic senator Tom Harkin.

“This country, the greatest and richest the world has ever seen, is the only advanced nation on earth where dying for a lack of health insurance is even possible,” said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid.

Most Republicans, however, said they believed the bill is too expensive and would not correct the current problems with the US’s health care.

If the bill passes in the Senate, that version will have to be merged with a more liberal version passed by the House of Representatives which includes a government-run alternative, not included in the Senate version.

Two nuclear submarines collide in the Atlantic Ocean

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Nuclear ballistic missile submarines Triomphant, from France, and HMS Vanguard, of the British Royal Navy, collided deep under the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of the night between February 3 and 4, despite both vessels being equipped with sonar. The collision caused damage to both vessels but it did not release any radioactive material, a Ministry of Defence (MOD) official confirmed Monday.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said nuclear security had not been breached. “It is MOD policy not to comment on submarine operational matters, but we can confirm that the U.K.’s deterrent capability was unaffected at all times and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety. Triomphant had struck ‘a submerged object (probably a container)’ during a return from a patrol, damaging the sonar dome on the front of the submarine,” he said.

A French navy spokesman said that “the collision did not result in injuries among the crew and did not jeopardise nuclear security at any moment.” Lack of communication between France and other members of NATO over the location of their SLBM deterrents is believed to be another reason for the crash.

According to Daily Mail, the vessels collided 1,000ft underwater in the Bay of Biscay (Golfe de Gascogne; Golfo de Vizcaya and Mar Cantábrico), a gulf of the North Atlantic Ocean. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Punta de Estaca de Bares, and is named for the Spanish province of Biscay, with average depth of 5,723 feet (1,744 m) and maximum depth is 9,151 feet (2,789 m).

Each submarine is laden with missiles powerful enough for 1,248 Hiroshima bombings, The Independent said.

It is unlikely either vessel was operating its active sonar at the time of the collision, because the submarines are designed to “hide” while on patrol and the use of active sonar would immediately reveal the boat’s location. Both submarines’ hulls are covered with anechoic tile to reduce detection by sonar, so the boats’ navigational passive sonar would not have detected the presence of the other.

Lee Willett of London’s Royal United Services Institute said “the NATO allies would be very reluctant to share information on nuclear submarines. These are the strategic crown jewels of the nation. The whole purpose of a sea-based nuclear deterrent is to hide somewhere far out of sight. They are the ultimate tools of national survival in the event of war. Therefore, it’s the very last thing you would share with anybody.”

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB, ADC of the United Kingdom, the most senior serving officer in the Royal Navy, said that “…the submarines came into contact at very low speed. Both submarines remained safe. No injuries occurred. We can confirm the capability remains unaffected and there was no compromise to nuclear safety.”

“Both navies want quiet areas, deep areas, roughly the same distance from their home ports. So you find these station grounds have got quite a few submarines, not only French and Royal Navy but also from Russia and the United States. Navies often used the same nesting grounds,” said John H. Large, an independent nuclear engineer and analyst primarily known for his work in assessing and reporting upon nuclear safety and nuclear related accidents and incidents.

President of the Royal Naval Association John McAnally said that the incident was a “one in a million chance”. “It would be very unusual on deterrent patrol to use active sonar because that would expose the submarine to detection. They are, of course, designed to be very difficult to detect and one of the priorities for both the captain and the deterrent patrol is to avoid detection by anything,” he said.

The development of stealth technology, making the submarines less visible to other vessels has properly explained that a submarine does not seem to have been able to pick out another submarine nearly the length of two football pitches and the height of a three-story building.

“The modus operandi of most submarines, particularly ballistic-missile submarines, is to operate stealthily and to proceed undetected. This means operating passively, by not transmitting on sonar, and making as little noise as possible. A great deal of technical effort has gone into making submarines quiet by reduction of machinery noise. And much effort has gone into improving the capability of sonars to detect other submarines; detection was clearly made too late or not at all in this case,” explained Stephen Saunders, the editor of Jane’s Fighting Ships, an annual reference book (also published online, on CD and microfiche) of information on all the world’s warships arranged by nation, including information on ship’s names, dimensions, armaments, silhouettes and photographs, etc.

According to Bob Ayres, a former CIA and US army officer, and former associate fellow at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, however, the submarines were not undetectable, despite their “stealth” technology. “When such submarines came across similar vessels from other navies, they sought to get as close as possible without being detected, as part of routine training. They were playing games with each other – stalking each other under the sea. They were practising being able to kill the other guy’s submarine before he could launch a missile.Because of the sound of their nuclear reactors’ water pumps, they were still noisier than old diesel-electric craft, which ran on batteries while submerged. The greatest danger in a collision was the hull being punctured and the vessel sinking, rather than a nuclear explosion,” Ayres explained.

Submarine collisions are uncommon, but not unheard of: in 1992, the USS Baton Rouge, a submarine belonging to the United States, under command of Gordon Kremer, collided with the Russian Sierra-class attack submarine K-276 that was surfacing in the Barents Sea.

In 2001, the US submarine USS Greeneville surfaced and collided with Japanese fishing training ship Ehime Maru (????), off the coast of Hawaii. The Navy determined the commanding officer of Greeneville to be in “dereliction of duty.”

The tenth HMS Vanguard (S28) of the British Royal Navy is the lead boat of her class of Trident ballistic missile-capable submarines and is based at HMNB Clyde, Faslane. The 150m long, V-class submarine under the Trident programme, has a crew of 135, weighs nearly 16,000 tonnes and is armed with 16 Trident 2 D5 ballistic missiles carrying three warheads each.

It is now believed to have been towed Monday to its naval base Faslane in the Firth of Clyde, with dents and scrapes to its hull. Faslane lies on the eastern shore of Gare Loch in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, to the north of the Firth of Clyde and 25 miles west of the city of Glasgow.

Vanguard is one of the deadliest vessels on the planet. It was built at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd (now BAE Systems Submarine Solutions), was launched on 4 March, 1992, and commissioned on 14 August, 1993. The submarine’s first captain was Captain David Russell. In February 2002, Vanguard began a two-year refit at HMNB Devonport. The refit was completed in June 2004 and in October 2005 Vanguard completed her return to service trials (Demonstration and Shakedown Operations) with the firing of an unarmed Trident missile.

“The Vanguard has two periscopes, a CK51 search model and a CH91 attack model, both of which have a TV camera and thermal imager as well as conventional optics,” said John E. Pike, director and a national security analyst for http://www.globalsecurity.org/, an easily accessible pundit, and active in opposing the SDI, and ITAR, and consulting on NEO’s. File:Triomphant img 0394.jpg

“But the periscopes are useless at that depth. It’s pitch black after a couple of hundred feet. In the movies like ‘Hunt for Red October,’ you can see the subs in the water, but in reality it’s blindman’s bluff down there. The crash could have been a coincidence — some people win the lottery — but it’s much more possible that one vessel was chasing the other, trying to figure out what it was,” Pike explained.

Captain of HMS Vanguard, Commander Richard Lindsey said his men would not be there if they couldn’t go through with it. “I’m sure that if somebody was on board who did not want to be here, they would have followed a process of leaving the submarine service or finding something else to do in the Navy,” he noted.

The Triomphant is a strategic nuclear submarine, lead ship of her class (SNLE-NG). It was laid down on June 9, 1989, launched on March 26, 1994 and commissioned on March 21, 1997 with homeport at Île Longue. Equipped with 16 M45 ballistic missiles with six warheads each, it has 130 crew on board. It was completing a 70-day tour of duty at the time of the underwater crash. Its fibreglass sonar dome was damaged requiring three or four months in Drydock repair. “It has returned to its base on L’Ile Longue in Brittany on Saturday under its own power, escorted as usual by a frigate,” the ministry said.

A Ballistic missile submarine is a submarine equipped to launch ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Ballistic missile submarines are larger than any other type of submarine, in order to accommodate SLBMs such as the Russian R-29 or the American Trident.

The Triomphant class of strategic missile submarines of the French Navy are currently being introduced into service to provide the sea based component (the Force Océanique Stratégique) of the French nuclear deterrent or Force de frappe, with the M45 SLBM. They are replacing the Redoutable-class boats. In French, they are called Sous-Marin Nucléaire Lanceur d’Engins de Nouvelle Génération (“SNLE-NG, literally “Device-launching nuclear submarine of the new generation”).

They are roughly one thousand times quieter than the Redoutable-class vessels, and ten times more sensitive in detecting other submarines [1]. They are designed to carry the M51 nuclear missile, which should enter active service around 2010.

Repairs for both heavily scraped and dented, missile-laden vessels were “conservatively” estimated to cost as much as €55m, with intricate missile guidance systems and navigation controls having to be replaced, and would be met by the French and British taxpayer, the Irish Independent reported.

Many observers are shocked by the deep sea disaster, as well as the amount of time it took for the news to reach the public. ”Two US and five Soviet submarine accidents in the past prove that the reactor protection system makes an explosion avoidable. But if the collision had been more powerful the submarines could have sunk very quickly and the fate of the 250 crew members would have been very serious indeed,” said Andrey Frolov, from Moscow’s Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

“I think this accident will force countries that possess nuclear submarines to sit down at the negotiating table and devise safety precautions that might avert such accidents in the future… But because submarines must be concealed and invisible, safety and navigation laws are hard to define,” Frolov said, noting further that there are no safety standards for submarines.

The unthinkable disaster – in the Atlantic’s 41 million square miles – has raised concern among nuclear activists. “This is a nuclear nightmare of the highest order. The collision of two submarines, both with nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons onboard, could have released vast amounts of radiation and scattered scores of nuclear warheads across the seabed,” said Kate Hudson, chair of Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

“This is the most severe incident involving a nuclear submarine since the Russian submarine RFS Kursk K-141 explosion and sinking in 2000 and the first time since the Cold War that two nuclear-armed subs are known to have collided. Gordon Brown should seize this opportunity to end continuous patrols,” Hudson added. Despite a rescue attempt by British and Norwegian teams, all 118 sailors and officers aboard Kursk died.

“This reminds us that we could have a new catastrophe with a nuclear submarine at any moment. It is a risk that exists during missions but also in port. These are mobile nuclear reactors,” said Stephane Lhomme, a spokesman for the French anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucleaire.

Nicholas Barton “Nick” Harvey, British Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for North Devon has called for an immediate internal probe. “While the British nuclear fleet has a good safety record, if there were ever to be a bang it would be a mighty big one. Now that this incident is public knowledge, the people of Britain, France and the rest of the world need to be reassured this can never happen again and that lessons are being learned,” he said.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP for Moray has demanded for a government statement. “The Ministry of Defence needs to explain how it is possible for a submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction to collide with another submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction in the middle of the world’s second-largest ocean,” he said.

Michael Thomas Hancock, CBE, a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and a City councillor for Fratton ward, and who sits on the Commons defence committee, has called on the Ministry of Defence Secretary of State John Hutton to make a statement when parliament sits next week.

“While I appreciate there are sensitive issues involved here, it is important that this is subject to parliamentary scrutiny. It’s fairly unbelievable that this has happened in the first place but we now need to know that lessons have been learnt. We need to know for everyone’s sakes that everything possible is now done to ensure that there is not a repeat of the incident. There are serious issues as to how some of the most sophisticated naval vessels in the seas today can collide in this way,” Mr. Hancock said.

Tory defence spokesman Liam Fox, a British Conservative politician, currently Shadow Defence Secretary and Member of Parliament for Woodspring, said: “For two submarines to collide while apparently unaware of each other’s presence is extremely worrying.”

Meanwhile, Hervé Morin, the French Minister of Defence, has denied allegations the nuclear submarines, which are hard to detect, had been shadowing each other deliberately when they collided, saying their mission was to sit at the bottom of the sea and act as a nuclear deterrent.

“There’s no story to this — the British aren’t hunting French submarines, and the French submarines don’t hunt British submarines. We face an extremely simple technological problem, which is that these submarines are not detectable. They make less noise than a shrimp. Between France and Britain, there are things we can do together….one of the solutions would be to think about the patrol zones,” Morin noted, and further denying any attempt at a cover-up.

France’s Atlantic coast is known as a submarine graveyard because of the number of German U-boats and underwater craft sunk there during the Second World War.