Crossrail set to only compensate £50 for land rights, London, UK

Friday, July 22, 2005

The British Parliament approved the first stage of the new Crossrail underground railroad through London as a £15 billion construction project earlier this month. Crossrail is the first major new train line to be built in London in decades.

The rail line being implemented as a hybrid bill in Parliament. After a second reading in Parliament, it was voted upon and decided that the government will commit to the project so that the line will be built.

The next issue before Parliament of to ensure that the implementation of the bill so it is consistent with private interests of neighborhoods to be affected by Crossrail. This is when residents can petition Parliament to change the way the line is constructed.

As a result of construction of the Crossrail line, hundreds of homes will have new tunnels excavated beneath them.

On contacting Crossrail, they have indicated approximately £50 will be offered to each landowner to buy all the land rights-of-way to build the train tunnel more than 9 meters below the residential buildings. The average value for properties in the affected areas is £350,000.

Under UK compulsory purchase laws to be used in this bill, the residents are entitled to the difference in the value of the whole property with and without a tunnel under it. If the offer given by Crossrail is not accepted by any of the residents, the residents can take the case to the Land Tribunal, where the fair value will be established.

This however, could be cost prohibitive. Crossrail does not indicate that it will attempt to assign a fair value in the original offer and instead is only going to offer around £50 per property in the hope that not many people take the matter to the Land Tribunal.

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New Ghanaian currency introduced

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

New currency notes are being introduced in Ghana today. The new currency, to be called the Ghanaian cedi, replaces the previous cedi which has been in circulation since 17 February, 1967.

The Ghanaian cedi will be exchanged at 10,000 old cedis to one new Ghanaian cedi. The exchange rate against the U.S. dollar starts at GH¢0.92 to one U.S. dollar. The new ISO code for the currency is GHS, and the new symbol, GH¢.

The change, which was originally scheduled by the Bank of Ghana to start on July 1, 2007, will instead start on Tuesday July 3, as the original date is Ghana’s Republic Day.

Monday, July 2, was declared a public holiday as the actual Republic Day fell on a Sunday. July 3, is thus the first day that the currency will be available to the public as banks open to the general public. This is because ATMs were shut down over the weekend so that the currencies could be checked and replaced in all of them nationwide. The old and new currencies will be used concurrently until the end of December 2007, when the old currency will cease to be legal tender.

This is the third Ghanaian cedi to be introduced in the country since 1965.

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Augusten Burroughs on addiction, writing, his family and his new book

Friday, October 12, 2007

I had an unofficial phone call from Gay Talese last Tuesday. He had just flown back from Colombia and he was cranky. “I’m happy to do an interview with you,” he said, “but what the hell could you ask me that’s not already out there? Have you even bothered to look?!”

“Jeez, Mr. Talese, lots of things,” was my response. I lied. The truth is that when I call people to interview them, I do not have a set of preconceived questions. My agenda is to talk to them and gain a sense of who they are; to flesh them out as humans. To find out what they think about the world around them at that moment. With Gay Talese I had little interest in talking about Frank Sinatra Has a Cold and with Augusten Burroughs I had little interest in discussing Running with Scissors. I want to know what they think about things outside of the boxes people have placed them in.

With a memoirist like Burroughs, even this is a challenge. What parts of his life he has not written about himself, other interviewers have strip-mined. When we met for dinner at Lavagna in the East Village, I explained to Augusten this issue. I suggested we make the interview more of a conversation to see if that would be more interesting. “Instead of you in the catbird seat,” I said, “let’s just talk.”

We struck an instant rapport. What set out to be an hour and half interview over dinner had turned into four hours of discussion about our lives similarly lived. I removed half of the interview: the half that focused on me.

Below is Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s conversation with writer Augusten Burroughs.


Contents

  • 1 On addiction and getting sober
  • 2 On the Turcottes and his mother
  • 3 On his work
  • 4 On the response to his work from addicts
  • 5 On belief in a higher power
  • 6 On the gay community
  • 7 On his new book, A Wolf at the Table, a memoir about his father
  • 8 On women’s breasts and tattoos
  • 9 On losing his hair
  • 10 Sources
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Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur pleads guilty to eight murders

Friday, February 1, 2019

Bruce McArthur, from Toronto, Canada, on Tuesday admitted his guilt in eight murders. McArthur pleaded guilty to each crime at the Superior Court.

Beginning in 2010 and continuing for seven years, McArthur murdered gay men; all but one victim was found dismembered in large planters at a house he had access to. The eighth was discovered in a nearby ravine. McArthur’s first victim of the eight was 40-year-old Skandaraj Navaratnam, a former boyfriend and employee of McArthur. The 67-year-old killer had kept a bracelet of Navaratnam’s.

Other items kept from victims include a notebook from one victim and further jewellery from another. A search of McArthur’s van found an alleged murder weapon, which was not publicly identified; inside McArthur’s home was a bag with syringes, a glove, duct tape, zip ties, and a bungee cord. Six of the murders were, according to agreed facts heard in court, “sexual in nature” and five of those involved ligatures.

Several of the deceased had links to an area of the city known as the Gay Village. Many were vulnerable, but the final victim, LGBT activist Andrew Kinsman, 49, was quickly reported missing. It is now known McArthur was twice interviewed by police during the killings before he was linked to them.

McArthur travelled selling socks and other undergarments. He also ran a small landscaping business.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 4. McArthur faces a mandatory life sentence with a minimum term of 25 years for first-degree murder; the prosecution can seek to run these consecutively.

Toronto Police, which indicated on Monday a “significant development” was likely at Tuesday’s hearing, face allegations they failed to react quickly enough to the series of disappearances. Some members of the local LGBT community have been critical; mayor John Tory on Tuesday suggested a broader probe into the surrounding circumstances may be required. National LGBT news source Daily Xtra?’s editorial director, Rachel Giese, said she felt Tuesday’s pleas might provide “some solace for the families and friends of the victims, and for the community more broadly,” but would not answer questions being asked of authorities.

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Broward County Sheriff’s police dog killed in shootout in Florida

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A man shot and killed a Broward County Sheriff’s Office police dog in Miami Beach after a two-county chase in Florida early Thursday morning.

The shooter, Delvin Lewis, 27, was firing shots at his girlfriend during a domestic dispute in Oakland Park. When police arrived, the suspect got into his car and fled, engaging roughly 20 cruisers in a 30-mile chase which ended near Mount Sinai Medical Center’s emergency room in Miami Beach. An exchange of gunfire followed in which Lewis reportedly killed the dog. ER doctors tried to save the animal but it was too late.

The shooter was also struck and has been taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he remains with no life threatening injuries.

According to a Mount Sinai spokeswoman hospital facilities are now accessible after the authorities locked down the area for three hours following the shooting.

Lewis has been arrested 26 times by Florida authorities including one in July 2003 in which he injured a police dog striking him repeatedly on the head with a cellphone.The suspect has been charged with aggravated assault with a motor vehicle on a law enforcement officer, aggravated fleeing and eluding, resisting an officer with violence and principal in the death of a police dog.

Hitting a police dog is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in jail, while killing a police officer is a capital offense which can lead to the death penalty.

Miami-Dade Police Department is handling the investigation which involves Broward Sheriff Office and Miami Beach police.

Lewis has been in and out of jail since 2000 and had been arrested for domestic battery in 2000 and 2004, when he beat a pregnant woman.

The dog, whose name was Oozi, was a 7-1/2 years old Belgian Malinois assigned to BSO’s Cooper City district. He was trained in narcotics and helped in hundreds of arrests in his career, including 35 this year.

Oozi and his partner, Deputy Gerald Wengert, were named BSO’s Employees of the month in May for their role in the apprehension of three burglary suspects.

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Delta Air Lines to cut up to 9,000 jobs

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced plans to cut 7,000 to 9,000 jobs by the end of 2007, approximately 17% of its employees.

CEO Gerald Grinstein will take a 25% pay cut. Executives have their pay cut by 15%. Other employees will have their pay reduced by 7 to 10%. Employees that make less than $25,000 a year will not be affected by these pay cuts.

Delta has already cancelled leases on 40 aircraft and they plan to reduce its fleet by at least 80 more. They plan to reduce domestic capacity by 15 to 20 percent and increase international capacity by 25 percent.

Delta is the third-largest airline in the US. They have lost 10 billion dollars since 2001 and are 14 billion dollars in debt. Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last Wednesday, joining United Airlines and US Airways. Four of the seven largest US carriers are operating under bankruptcy protection. Chapter 11 protection gives companies time to rearrange its finances while continuing to operate.

Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein said they intended “to move from being an unprofitable airline today to a profitable airline in just over two years”. “This means we will become a smaller, more cost-efficient airline, with a strengthened network and a stronger balance sheet.” These cuts should help save Delta up to $3 billion dollars.

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Eight men and several Spinka charities charged with tax fraud in Los Angeles

Monday, December 24, 2007

Eight men and five Brookyln-based Spinka charitable organizations have been charged with tax fraud and money laundering. Six have been arrested, and two are still at large.

The men charged are Naftali Tzi Weisz, 59, a Grand Rabbi from Brooklyn; Gabbai Moseh E. Zigelman, 60, also from Brooklyn and Weisz’ assistant; Yaacov Zeivald, 43, of Valley Village; Yosef Nachum Naiman, 55, of Los Angeles; Alan Jay Friedman, 43, of Los Angeles; Joseph Roth, 66, an international accounts manager at a bank in Israel from Tel Aviv; diamond merchant Moshe Arie Lazar, 60; and Jacob Ivan Kantor, 71, an attorney from Tel Aviv. The first six were arrested last Wednesday, and four of them have been released on bail. The FBI believes Lazar to be in Israel. Kantor is also believed to be in Israel according to other reports.

The charitiable organizations named as defendants in the charges are Yeshiva Imrei Yosef, Yeshivath Spinka, Central Rabbinical Seminary, Machne Sva Rotzohn, and Mesivta Imrei Yosef Spinka. The FBI alleges that these charities issued fraudulent receipts for bogus charitable contributions and were the beneficiaries of fees charged for transfers of funds as part of a money laundering conspiracy.

By a 37-count grand jury indictment that was unsealed on Wednesday morning, Weisz and Zigelman are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and other crimes, 19 counts of mail fraud, one money laundering conspiracy count, 11 counts of international money laundering, and one count of operating an illegal money remitting business. Zigelman is in addition charged with two counts of aiding in the preparation of fraudulent income tax returns. Zeivald, Lazar, Naiman, and Friedman are charged in the main conspiracy count and with operating an illegal money remitting business. Zeivald is in addition charged with one count of mail fraud. Roth is charged in both conspiracy counts; several mail fraud counts; and several international money laundering counts. Kantor is charged in both of the conspiracy counts and several international money laundering counts.

The charges laid are that over a period of 10 years the conspirators solicited USD8.7 million in contributions to these charitable organizations, promising to secretly refund to the donors up to 95%, allowing the donors to claim the full amounts of the donations as tax deductions on their federal income tax returns. According to the FBI, this was done in two ways: Some donors received cash payments through an underground money transfer network involving Zeivald, Naiman, Friedman, and Lazar, some of whom operated businesses in and around the Los Angeles jewelry district. Other donors were reimbursed via loans made from the United States branch of an Israeli bank, organized by Roth and Kantor and secured on funds secretly held in that bank in Israel, to which the donations had been sent via wire transfer.

Several of the Brooklyn charitable organizations are schools. One such is Yeshiva Imrei Yosef, a private Orthodox Jewish school for boys in grades PK–12 with 312 students, which is one of 5000 such organizations approved for charitable donations by the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles draws a parallel between these charges and the creation of bogus schools in the case of New Square, quoting Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, as saying “I think that in Eastern Europe, especially where corruption was rampant, it was very common for Jews to engage in, shall we say, ‘extra-legal activities’ when they believed they were doing so not for their personal gain but for the good of the community or for some higher purpose.”

His observation is that defrauding a corrupt government is part of the culture that has sometimes been carried in to the United States, and that people justify it when they believe that the money is going towards Jewish education. “I think the idea is that Jewish education is so important and so expensive and the folks say to themselves, ‘we’re forced to pay for public education which we don’t use’, and they manage to sometimes justify in their own minds these kinds of activities that are for the sake of a holy end.”

Sarna states that violating the law is not condoned by Jewish communities in the U.S., a sentiment that has been echoed in reactions from the Los Angeles Jewish community, such as that by Rabbi Meyer H. May, president of the Rabbinical Council of California: “One thing is clear: The Orthodox community deplores any attempt to defraud the government of the United States, and there is no excuse for it, and there’s no rationalizations that are acceptable. […] It’s against the Torah and it’s against our moral foundation. At the same time, regarding these specific individuals, they should be allowed to have a fair trial, as everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”

The FBI’s press release contains a similar reminder of the presumption of innocence.

Calls by the New York Times were unable to obtain any comments on the case from the defendants.

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Spelbound declared winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

An acrobatic group known by the name of Spelbound has been declared as the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010, a televised variety talent show competition broadcast on ITV in the United Kingdom. As the winning act of the show, Spelbound have won £100,000 (US$144,580, €120,313, A$175,079) and a place at The Royal Variety Performance, an annual gala evening that is attended by senior members of the British Royal Family.

In no particular order, the top three acts were revealed to be two dancers known by their stage name of Twist and Pulse, gymnastic group Spelbound and Kieran Gaffney, whose act involves playing on the drum kit. After Kieran Gaffney was revealed to be in third place, Anthony McPartlin, who hosts Britain’s Got Talent with Declan Donnelly, said to Kieran: “Well done Kieran. Kieran, you’re a star, you came back, you got all the way to the final. I know you’ve loved this. You’ve loved this, haven’t you?” In response to this, Kieran Gaffney stated: “Thank you very much. Thank you, everyone for supporting me. Thank you.”

Shortly afterwards, on the episode that was broadcast live on ITV1 on Saturday, Anthony announced: “After tens of thousands of auditons, five semi-finals and an amazing final, this…this is it. One of you is about to walk away with £100,000 and a place at this year’s Royal Variety Performance. The winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010 is…Spelbound!” Glen Murphy from Twist and Pulse commented about finishing in second place, stating: “Yeah, it’s amazing. I can’t even believe it. I can’t believe it at all.”

Alex Uttley, a 24-year-old member of Spelbound, commented on the gymnastic group’s victory, commenting: “Oh, my god. This is unbelieveable. We just want to say thank you to everyone out there. It just shows that all our hard work has paid off.” One of the coaches of Spelbound, named Neil Griffiths, stated about Spelbound: “Oh, they’ve worked so hard over the last few weeks. Um, since the semi-final, we…we really had to pull out the stops to try and up the game. They’ve not known they’ve worked in the gym from six in the morning till twelve…twelve o’clock of the night. I couldn’t have asked for more. Um, it’s a team of coaches. I don’t take all the credit myself. There’s, uh, two people up there that know who they are who’ve been fantastic.”

Spelbound consists of 24-year-old Alex Uttley, Nicholas Illingworth, aged 24, Adam Buckingham, aged 21, 20-year-old Adam McAssey, 19-year-old Douglas Fordyce, 18-year-old Edward Upcott, 18-year-old Leighanne Cowler, 17-year-old Katie Axten, 17-year-old Lauren Kemp, 15-year-old Jonathan Stranks, Abigail Ralph, aged 15, 13-year-old Hollianne Wood and Amy Mackenzie, aged 12. Bookmakers had previously predicted that Spelbound would be the most likely act to become the winner of the series.

The running order for the final started with Twist and Pulse. The second act to perform was Liam McNally, a 14-year-old singer. The running order subsequently continued with 40-year-old impressionist Paul Burling, singer Christopher Stone, aged 28, Tina & Chandi, a woman and dog dancing act, Connected, a five-piece singing group, Kieran Gaffney, aged 12, 22-year-old Tobias Mead, a dancer, 80-year-old singer Janey Cutler and Spelbound in that particular order.

Earlier on in the final, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has stated to Spelbound: “We are hosting the 2012 Olympics and I think ‘what a brilliant opening act’.” Fellow judge Piers Morgan also commented that “[t]he purpose of this show is to identify hidden great British talent. You are that act.” After Spelbound won in the final, another judge, named Simon Cowell, stated that “the right boys and girls won on the night” and that he could “only say on live TV that that was one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen. Seriously.”

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Asbestos victims file 6.6 billion yen class action lawsuit in Tokyo

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Construction workers and next of kin of deceased workers filed a lawsuit in Tokyo, Japan Friday seeking damages of approximately 6.6 billion yen (about US$64 million) from the government and manufacturers related to illnesses stemming from exposure to asbestos. 178 plaintiffs; including construction workers and family members filed the suit in Tokyo District Court against 46 building manufacturers and the Government of Japan.

According to the Mainichi Daily News, the class action suit is the first that has been filed in Japan related to health damages caused by asbestos exposure at construction sites. The plaintiffs hail from the Japanese prefectures of Tokyo, Saitama and Chiba.

The plaintiffs claim that the government and manufacturers knew of the dangers of asbestos inhalation but failed to take proper precautions, including ceasing to promote asbestos as a cheap fire retardant and banning production of the material.

They state that after inhaling asbestos in the workplace, 172 people have developed lung cancer or mesothelioma, and that almost half of those afflicted are now dead. Plaintiffs argue that the government and health ministry did not act quickly enough after international organizations issued warnings in 1972 that asbestos could be a carcinogen.

Plaintiffs also place blame with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry for sanctioning the use of asbestos under Japanese Industrial Standards, and with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport for approving the use of materials comprised of asbestos and other substances under Japan’s Building Standards Law.

We will do our utmost until we win the suit.

“We will do our utmost until we win the suit,” said Kazuo Miyajima, 78, who heads the group of plaintiffs. Lawyers for the plaintiffs released a statement saying: “We seek complete relief for the victims by clarifying the liability of the state and the manufacturers.”

Approximately 40 construction workers from Kanagawa Prefecture plan to file a similar lawsuit in June in Yokohama District Court.

After a 2005 revelation that residents who lived near a factory in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture developed diseases related to asbestos, the government implemented a law in 2006 which provides monetary assistance to asbestos victims and relatives of deceased family members. The plaintiffs argue that the amount of financial assistance given to families and victims of asbestos-related diseases is not sufficient.

Asbestos has been used in Japan as a fire retardant, for sound absorption, and for insulation. It was mixed in concrete and water and sprayed on walls and ceilings, but the practice of spraying asbestos in this manner was banned in Japan in 1975.

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