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A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, July 9, 2007.

On July 9, 2007, Sony Computer Entertainment America announced the release of an 80GB hard drive version of its PlayStation 3 video game console, priced at US$599.

Sony also announced a price drop to US$499 for its current 60GB model. Jack Tretton, Sony Entertainment America chief executive, said, “Our initial expectation is that sales should double at a minimum.”

Sources

  • “Sony cuts Playstation price in US” — BBC News Online, July 9, 2007
  • Scea. “Sony Computer Entertainment America Introduces New 80GB PLAYSTATION(R)3” — prnewswire, July 9, 2007

Nigerian gunmen have released three-year-old Margaret Hill, after holding her captive for four days. The toddler has since been reunited with her parents. She is reportedly in good health but covered with mosquito bites and also hungry, having not eaten recently.

The kidnappers had threatened to kill the toddler unless a ransom was paid or Mr. Hill came to take her place. The family claims no ransom was paid for her freedom. She was kidnapped from her car on July 5, on her way to school. Her driver was stabbed trying to protect Margaret.

Sources

  • “Nigeria kidnappers free UK girl” — BBC News Online, July 8, 2007
  • “Nigerian captors release British girl” — CNN, July 8, 2007

Thursday, April 14, 2005

An exhausted Charles Kennedy returned to the election campaign to launch a twenty page Liberal Democrat manifesto targeted at disaffected Labour voters, promising a fairer tax system and withdrawal from Iraq.

Entitled The Real Alternative the manifesto pledges to reduce the lowest rate of income tax, but increase the rate on those earning over £100,000 to 50%. The party would also scrap the unpopular local council tax in favour of a new local income tax. The manifesto also promises to remove hidden “stealth taxes”.

Under this system the party claims the poorest 15 million (25%) of people in Britain would be better off, and the middle 50% would be paying no extra tax.

The manifesto promised to scrap the controversial university tuition fees, increase services for pensioners and add £100 a month to the state pension, and train 21,000 new primary school teachers and 10,000 new police. A Lib Dem government would make eye and dental checks free, and reduce the cost of prescription medicine.

The Liberal Democrats were the only one of the three largest parliamentary parties to have consistently voted against the Iraq war, and the manifesto has promised an exit strategy with a phased withdrawal of Britain’s 8,000 troops still in the country.

“We reject a foreign policy based on ‘my ally right or wrong’,” Kennedy said. “And we say that war should always be a last resort.”

Kennedy, who became a father on Tuesday, admitted he’d had little sleep before the manifesto launch, and stumbled while answering questions on the proposed tax system.

byAlma Abell

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Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

Buffalo, New York —Savarino Construction Services Corp. has proposed a $7 million hotel project at the Forest and Elmwood Avenue intersection, according to The Buffalo News. The proposal calls for a 5-story, 45,000 square-foot 80-room hotel with underground parking for at least 50 vehicles, and 4,500 square-feet of retail space on the lower level.

Hans Mobius, the owner of the five properties to be purchased in the plan (1109 to 1121 Elmwood), reportedly signed a contract with Savarino to assemble the development.

“We saw a huge opportunity to bring something to the Elmwood Village that will make sense and bring a service that’s currently not available,” said Eva Hassett, vice president of Savarino. “Elmwood is such a wonderful place to eat, shop, walk and spend time. We believe this project will add to that vibrant environment.”

Some business owners in the area see it differently. Wikinews interviewed 2 of the 4 owners whose business’s would be demolished if the development goes through.

Nancy Pollina, of Don Apparel at 1119 Elmwood, who found out about the development only yesterday, said she is “utterly” against the proposal. Her apparel shop has stood at the same location for nearly 14 years. She has volunteered in the community, and helped create several gardens around bus shelters in the city, and served on Forever Elmwood Board for six years as head of Beautification. Patty Morris co-owns Don Apparel with Pollina.

“To say this is a good looking project, I want to say the emperor has no clothes. This [project] does not take into consideration the needs of the college students. I have been told by college students, these shops here, are the reason they leave the campus,” said Mrs. Pollina.

Buffalo State College is 500-feet from the intersection.

Michael Faust, the owner of Mondo Video said, “Well, I do not really want to get kicked out of here. The landlord was very open, and the deal he made with me when I moved in here was ‘the rent is cheap and I [the landlord] will not fix anything and that will not change.'” Faust said he first learned of the development plan, “about 48 hours ago. I found out on Tuesday when the Buffalo News called and asked for my opinion on this.” Faust has not said if he will make plans to relocate. “We have to see if this [house] is going to get knocked down first,” said Faust.

An “informational” meeting, where citizens can voice opinions and learn about the proposal, will be held on Tuesday February 21, 2006 at 5:00pm (eastern), at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center Gallery at Buffalo State College, Rockwell Hall.

Executive director of Forever Elmwood Corporation, Justin P. Azzarella would not comment on whether or not the organization supports the development, saying, “you will just have to come to the meeting.”

Forever Elmwood Corp. is designed to preserve and protect the unique and historic nature of Elmwood Avenue and its surrounding neighborhoods and encourage neighborhood commercial revitalization. The organization was founded in 1994.

Nearly two years ago, the Forever Elmwood Corp. assisted in the blocking of the demolition of the Edward Atwater house at 1089 Elmwood next to Pano’s Restaurant which is at 1081 Elmwood. Owner Pano Georgiadis wanted to expand his restaurant onto the property where the house now stands, but the Common Council denied his permit to demolish saying the house is a historical landmark and needs to be protected. Georgiadis, who has a bleeding ulcer, said that all the court cases landed him in the hospital. “I got a bleeding ulcer, and since then, I don’t care about this house anymore, or this city. I just go to work every day. I think [preservationists] are parasites,” said Georgiadis.

Georgiadis will not be attending Tuesday’s meeting saying, “I will be out of town.”

In 1995 Hans Mobius proposed a plan to develop a Walgreens, that was to be placed in the same location, but residents and business owners shot down the proposal. Walgreens eventually withdrew its request for a variance after pressure from the community.

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Buffalo, New York —In an unanimous vote, the City of Buffalo‘s Planning Board voted to table the Elmwood Village hotel Proposal, postponing voting on legislation for up to 30 days.

The Board said its decision was due to the lack of public involvement, saying that there have not been enough meetings.

The Elmwood Village Hotel is a proposed project by Savarino Construction Services Corporation and was designed by Karl Frizlen of The Frizlen Group. The hotel would be placed on Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo, New York. In order for the hotel to be built, at least five buildings, that include both businesses and residents, must be demolished.

The Forever Elmwood Corp. is a Buffalo-based non-profit organization founded in 1994. Justin Azzarella, the Executive Director for the organization voiced support for the proposal, stating: “I am here today to lend Forever Elmwood’s support the hotel project. Particularly, Forever Elmwood is encouraged by the fact that this building follows the more stringent Elmwood Village Design Guidelines. We have been speaking with Savarino Construction, and they have promised us [Forever Elmwood] that they will engage the community further, including the surrounding Block Clubs and businesses. For that reason, while Forever Elmwood is in support of this project and the type of project that it is, we are asking also that the project be tabled so that the community can be further engaged. Specifically the surrounding Block clubs which include the Granger, Claremont, Asland and The Lincoln Parkway Block Clubs.”

“Because of the excellent work that Karl does and the game plan that they have, I think its an ideal use of this particular location. I think that this particular type of development needs to be encouraged and promoted as opposed to roadblocked,” said a man who owns five properties near the proposal site.

However, Evelyn Bencinich, a resident of Granger Place and whose house would be located directly behind the hotel said, “My property value will be depreciated or non-existent because no one is going to want to live behind a multi-story hotel. We are facing up to a year of noisy and dangerous demolition and construction. Children, pets and even drunk rebellers could wander on site and get hurt. Traffic tie-ups caused by large machinery and garbage bins is inevitable. Where will pedestrians walk? We could experience increased unsanitary flooding in our yards and basements due to the digging and cementing for the underground parking garage. Rats will be displaced into the immediate neighborhoods and be in great abundance. Once we get past the year of nightmare construction, what if you build it and they don’t come? We could ultimately have a seven million dollar rooming house on our corner.”

Patty Morris, co-owner of Don Apparel with Nancy Pollina at 1119 Elmwood also asked that the project be tabled saying, “this has only been public knowledge for less than two weeks and the public never saw the redesign. How can you vote on anything that no one has seen yet? The Board cut off Morris saying, “so specifically you don’t have any problem with it [the design] you just…” Morris then said, “Oh I am totally against this project, but thats besides the point isn’t it.”

The planning board is also concerned that the current design may still be too big.

At one point Board member Susan Curran Hoyt said, “we know you’ve cut down your number of rooms on this project, but we still see it doesn’t seem to fit the description of a ‘botique’ hotel,” and asked Eva Hassett, Vice President of Savarino Construction, “we wonder if you could reduce the rooms further.”

“One thing I didn’t talk about was the price levels of these rooms and that will be important to know. The room rate will be somewhere between US$120 and $160 a night, which is about the same price of the Hampton Inn down town and the smaller you make the hotel, the more expensive the rooms will get. We believe that we’ve made a good compromise in terms of the size of the hotel and perhaps botique means different things to different people,” said Hassett.

The board was also concerned that there is not enough parking asking, “are there alternative plans for valet parking off-site, in the event that you have a full hotel or a large event going on?”

“We are exploring several possibilities with respect to additional parking for valet and parking near-by,” replied Hassett. “We are also exploring the possibility of using the rear of 1105 Elmwood for additional parking, which would give us an additional ten or eleven spaces.”

The new design has a total of 55 parking spaces for 72 rooms, with 39 of them underground and the rest on ground level.

Hassett also said that a “parking study” will be done on the area.

Concerns that the second floor of the hotel will be too close to the property of 605 Forest were also brought up. The board asked how far the hotel would be from the property and Karl Frizlen replied saying it would “be approximately five feet from the property line,” but he also admitted that, “I do not know exactly how close the house next door” will be from the hotel, but did say “I think the house is about four or five feet away from the property line and we [the hotel] sit right on the property line.”

The board is concerned the setback from the property is not enough saying the space between the building and the hotel is “pretty narrow.”

The City’s Common Council also agreed to table the proposal also citing the need for more public engagement and the need for more organizations to respond including the Buffalo Preservation Board and the Office of Historic Preservation.

During that meeting, Hassett also said the proposal to try and get a variance to obtain the properties of 605 and 607 Forest were “now off the agenda.”

The Common Council is expected to meet and hold a public hearing about the project and the rezoning of the properties to be demolished (1119-1121 Elmwood) on Tuesday March 7, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall. At the moment the properties are not zoned for a hotel.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Beginning Monday morning, many BlueFrog and Blue Security users began receiving an email warning them that if they did not remove their email addresses from the Blue Security registry, they would begin to receive huge amounts of unsolicited email. As quickly as four hours after the initial warning message, some users began to receive an unprecedented amount of spam. Most of the messages were simply useless text. Users reported that Blue Security’s website was unavailable or extremely slow in responding.

Blue Security is an online community dedicated to fighting spam. As they became more popular, their member list increased substantially. The members’ email address is encrypted and added to a list of e-mail addresses that wish to stop receiving spam. Blue Security maintains the encrypted list, which uses an encrypted hash function. Spammers are encouraged to remove all addressed from their email list that are also in Blue Security’s Do Not Intrude Registry by using free compliance tools available at Blue Security’s web site.

According to Blue Security’s web site, “A major spammer had started spamming our members with discouraging messages in an attempt to demoralize our community. This spammer is using mailing lists he already owns that may contain addresses of some community members.” Reportedly, Blue Security has received complaints from users about spam allegedly sent from Blue Security promoting their anti-spam solution and web site.

Blue Security states they are “an anti-spam company determined to fight spam and as such never has and never will send unsolicited email.” There are also reports of non-users of BlueSecurity/BlueFrog receiving the warning emails, which now seems is also being sent to email addresses of people who have never added their email address to Blue Security’s Do Not Intrude Registry.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A fire on Sunday night in the seven-storey carpark for the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England destroyed almost all the vehicles parked inside and led to cancellation of the final evening of the Liverpool International Horse Show and evacuation of nearby blocks of flats. The blaze reportedly started with a parked Range Rover Discovery.

Investigators with the fire brigade stated that they believe the fire began with an accidental engine fire in the Range Rover at about 4.30 pm. The first call was made at 4.42 and firefighters arrived eight minutes after that. Ultimately twelve engines and 85 firefighters were involved in combatting the blaze. Aerial appliances were used and also three high-volume pumps. Fed by the fuel in vehicles parked inside, the temperature of the fire in the carpark is believed to have reached as high as 1,000°C. It was too hot to be extinguished with water from hydrants, so a high-volume pump was used to draw water from the River Mersey, and two more were brought from other fire brigades in the region.

The carpark has seven storeys and a capacity of 1,600 vehicles, and approximately 1,300 were parked in it when the fire broke out. According to Dan Stephens, chief fire officer for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, almost all of them were destroyed, with the exception of a few parked on the top level and at corners. “With these very high temperatures, you were never going to put the fire out without the whole building taking hold. The speed at which the fire spreads means you simply aren’t going to put it out,” said Stephens.

The carpark itself was severely damaged; according to Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool. It is not in danger of collapsing but will have to be demolished, which will be difficult with the many burned-out cars still inside it, Anderson told the BBC.

According to Stephens, there were no serious injuries: one woman injured her hand, and two people were treated for smoke inhalation. A spokesman for the Echo Arena also stated that all animals were safe. All horses were successfully evacuated from the carpark and then removed from the stables after smoke spread to them. Six dogs were also rescued unharmed, two on a lower level in the early stages of the fire and four that had been left in a car on the top level, freed by firefighters on Monday after the fire was put out.

The final evening of the four-day Liverpool International Horse Show had been scheduled to begin at 7.30, and had to be cancelled. Many attendees were stranded in the city on New Year’s Eve night. Merseyside police directed people to the Pullman Hotel, where Red Cross assistance was available, and the Liverpool City Council set up an assistance centre at the Lifestyles Gym. A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers has said that insurance companies will “move very quickly” to reimburse owners whose vehicles were destroyed.

Nearby blocks of flats were evacuated because of the smoke. Eyewitnesses reported hearing what they at first thought were firecrackers, then “multiple explosions”, “bangs and popping”, “the bangs of car windows exploding”. People reported leaving everything in their cars, including their cellphones, and running for their lives.

Mayor Anderson tweeted that cuts to fire services over the last two years made it significantly harder to fight the fire and might have caused it not to be controllable. He also suggested that fire safety in multi-storey carparks had not been sufficiently considered and that installing sprinklers in them might help stop future fires before they become unmanageable, in a letter to Nick Hurd, a member of Parliament.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

The Seabourn Spirit, a cruise ship sailing off the coast of Somalia, narrowly escaped an attack by gunmen believed to be pirates.

The pirate attack occurred on Saturday, when two boats approached the ship and began firing automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades, injuring one crew member.

The crew took evasive action and escaped safely by employing an acoustic bang which caused the gunmen to flee believing they were under fire.

302 passengers and crew, mostly from the United States, Canada, and Australia, were onboard when the gunmen opened fire. The attack took place 160km (100 miles) off the Somali coastline, which has a reputation for pirate activity.

Deborah Natansohn, president of the Seabourn Cruise Line told CNN Radio, “The occupants of those boats did not succeed in boarding the ship and eventually turned away … our captain and crew did a terrific job taking responsive action.”

Edith Laird, from Seattle, told the BBC, “My daughter saw the pirates out our window. […] There were at least three RPG that hit the ship, one in a stateroom four doors down from our cabin.”

According to Mike Rogers, a passenger from Vancouver, the captain opted not to sound the alarm and instead announced the attack over the speakers, fearing the sound would drive people to the deck and place them in the line of fire.

Natansohn has stated that the company will re-evaluate future trips to the area.

The Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) is planning on highlighting the incident and its potential costs for tourism on Monday.

Pirate attacks have been an increasing problem in the area, with 23 hijackings and attempted seizures recorded by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). Two of the attacks were on ships carrying aid for the United Nations World Food Program. One attack involved a ship carrying 935 tons of rice for Asian tsunami victims. The crew had been held for three months before being released. According to the IMB, the pirates – mostly made up of the Horn of Africa’s former navy as well as former fishermen – represent a serious threat to commercial shipping.

Somalia has been a volatile area since the ousting of former dictator Mohamed Said Barre. The country has been operating without a central administration since 1991 and is now controlled by warlords.

Australian media has speculated that the attack on the ship may be an act of terrorism rather than one of piracy.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

According to a report from the Red Cross today, about 60 people were still missing after a house collapsed during a heavy rain storm on Friday in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

Ten were known dead on Saturday, and a surviving man was dug out of the house after ten hours. The house was reportedly just two years old and had at least six floors. Local building has widespread problems with poor materials and not following Kenyan construction rules.

Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said on Saturday, hospitals had treated 80 people.

Another seven people reportedly died in the storm. Kenya’s Red Cross said the flooding affected more than 800 homes.