Thursday, September 20, 2007

The U.S. economy and its currency as an instrument of world trade has suffered a series of major setbacks in recent months. Some analysts say that the Federal Reserve‘s September 18th dramatic rate cut to 4.75% from 5.25% may be a case of “too little, too late”, or that it was excessive and dooms the dollar.

Today, Saudi officials declined to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve for the first time in decades. According to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor for The Daily Telegraph, “it’s a signal that the oil-rich Gulf kingdom is preparing to break the dollar currency peg in a move that risks setting off a stampede out of the dollar across the Middle East.”

Hans Redeker, the Currency Chief at BNP Paribas, also stated today that Saudi Arabia’s move to not adjust their own interest rates in sync with the Fed’s cuts is a very dangerous situation for the US dollar. Redeker points out that “Saudi Arabia has $800bn (£400bn) in their future generation fund, and the entire region has $3,500bn under management. They face an inflationary threat and do not want to import an interest rate policy set for the recessionary conditions in the United States.”

Saudi central bank officials said that “appropriate measures” would be taken to stop the large capital inflows into the country. The Federal Reserve’s half-point rate cut has already caused a plunge in the world dollar index to a fifteen-year low, reaching the weakest level ever against the Euro at just under $1.40.

The Fed hopes that by making it cheaper to borrow, people will start spending and investing more. However, some analysts fear the cut will worsen inflation, making it harder to get personal loans, and further decrease confidence in the dollar around the world. There are already signs that global investors have started rejecting U.S. Treasury securities, and recent U.S. government data on foreign holdings show a decline in purchases of US securities from $97bn to just $19bn in July.

In response to Ben Bernanke‘s statements today about a potential mortgage and housing market crisis, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer said, “If adjustable mortgage rates go up, people may not be able to afford their mortgage payments.” Former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan said earlier this week that housing prices may fall by “double digits” as the subprime crisis bites harder, prompting households to cut back sharply on spending.

Jim Rogers, the economic commentator and former partner of George Soros, stated, “If Ben Bernanke starts running those printing presses even faster than he’s already doing, we are going to have a serious recession. The dollar’s going to collapse, the bond market’s going to collapse. There’s going to be a lot of problems.”

In recent months, the U.S. dollar has taken several other significant hits including Kuwait’s decision in May to also break its dollar peg, and threats by China to interfere with the U.S. economy, calling it their nation’s “nuclear option”. According to public sources, the Chinese government has begun a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of US treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions that seek to force a Yuan revaluation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

This article’s primary contributor, Patrick Gillett, is an alumnus of Sunshine Coast Grammar School.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A deal between Sunshine Coast Grammar School headmaster Nigel Fairbairn and the Independent Education Union of Australia has ended a week of uncertainty for 22 of the Queensland, Australia school’s staff.

Last week Wikinews obtained a list of 22 middle management teaching staff allegedly made redundant, or laid off due to restructuring. The restructuring is, apparently, designed to get teachers back into the classroom.

During the week, staff, students, alumni and parents had accused the headmaster of being dishonest and not “tak[ing] a single question” on the issue.

“At 10am there were 21 teachers with big question marks over their employment but by 1pm they had the assurance they would be able to apply for new positions before external applicants,” union secretary Terry Burke said. “Mr Fairbairn said it was clearly the school’s preference to continue the employment of existing staff. It is our view the existing staff are more than capable of taking on the new positions.”

Sunshine Coast Grammar is a private Christian school approximately 95 km (60 miles) north of the state capital, Brisbane.

Teachers at Sunshine Coast Grammar school have told the Sunshine Coast Daily that they received no warning of any pending redundancies. Independent Education Union of Australia representative and school careers counselor Maria Campanini said “teacher morale is very low and people are very disappointed and disillusioned”.

Ms Campanini said that staff were saddened by the handling of the situation by headmaster Nigel Fairbairn. “We got an email announcing a meeting and I thought it would just provide some feedback about the review,” Ms Campanini said. “But the 21 teachers whose jobs were directly affected were herded into a room, Mr Fairbairn read out a prepared statement, turned on his heel and left. He didn’t take a single question. We were just left sitting there in shock.”

An anonymous staff member told the Sunshine Coast Daily that, “Some teachers, who rely on the income and whose positions were abolished, were very distraught and they had to go to class. It appears we’re not valued in the school community, not to be even asked our opinion as to what might be the best outcome, to try and make it work.”

According to Ms Campanini, one of the teachers being made redundant is 30 weeks pregnant with another returning to work after maternity leave. “It’s really stressful for all the people involved,” Ms Campanini said. “People can understand the need for restructure when it’s explained, but we’re none the wiser.”

“When it all happened on Friday, it was morning tea time and a lot of us had to go back in the classroom and teach all afternoon,” the anonymous staff member said.

Parents have accused Fairbairn of constantly changing his version of events, with one telling the Sunshine Coast Daily that, “The school board does not have independent parents on the board, which makes no sense at all. From what I have gathered, Mr Fairbairn is not interested in having parents involved in the decision-making processes.”

Mr Fairbairn is trying to go into damage control and his story keeps changing. He’s told parents this restructure was not financially motivated but has told teachers the complete opposite thing. This is it. The gloves are off.

“Mr Fairbairn is trying to go into damage control and his story keeps changing,” said Julie Hopkins, another Grammar parent. “He’s told parents this restructure was not financially motivated but has told teachers the complete opposite thing. This is it. The gloves are off.”

Wikinews obtained a list of middle management staff allegedly made redundant, or laid off due to restructuring, by the Queensland, Australia school. Sources say that those staff have been told that they can apply for new positions that have opened up.

The list, published on the SCGS alumni Facebook page, contains the names of twenty-two staff members. Seventeen positions are reportedly being opened up, eight of which seem to significantly overlap the old ones.

Mr. Fairbairn “replaced the open and welcoming culture … with the tyrannical and oppressive one.”

The changes are, apparently, designed to get teachers back into the classroom. “We are not cutting subject choices and extracurricular activities, but retaining a student-driven curriculum that integrates with the new Australian Curriculum, in keeping with our commitment to teaching and learning opportunities,” said headmaster Nigel Fairbairn.

Wikinews understands that Fairbairn attracted criticism when he was a head teacher in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a former student claimed that Fairbairn “replaced the open and welcoming culture … with the tyrannical and oppressive one.” Fairbairn refused to comment on the criticism.

People are angry and shocked. I am aware of at least 10 families who have said they will pull their children out of the school – it’s that bad.

Fairbairn’s statement came under attack from 2009 graduates who, in a open letter posted on Facebook, said, “It is also hugely hypocritical to attack these teachers for not spending enough time in the classroom, when from firsthand experience the only time Mr. Nigel Fairbairn was ever sighted was during assembly (which he mysteriously stopped attending), never mind in the classroom, therefore, it is honestly astounding that he could make such unjust and incorrect statements.”

They also expressed embarrassment “to be associated with the name ‘Sunshine Coast Grammar School’ while you are at the head of the great community which Grammar once was.”

Four of the affected teachers “were the backbone of the school when [controversy surrounded founding headmaster John Burgess] happened,” a former prefect (student leader) said. “They got it through that crisis and this is the thanks they get.”

“People are angry and shocked,” they continued. “I am aware of at least 10 families who have said they will pull their children out of the school – it’s that bad.”

The student body has not ruled out protesting the schools plans. “It’s getting to that stage,” the former prefect said. “People are trying to look at it in an intelligent way but there is so much anger out there.”

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Europe has been hit by fierce wind and storms, with gusts over 150 kilometers per hour reported from the UK to Southern Germany. Most major motorways are blocked/shut due to lorries being overturned by the wind.

Most European Airports, Train and Motorways have been affected. Amsterdam has been cut off, with planes grounded, and the train system from Amsterdam city halted.

Contents

  • 1 Casualties and fatalities
    • 1.1 Western Europe
      • 1.1.1 United Kingdom
      • 1.1.2 Germany
      • 1.1.3 The Netherlands
      • 1.1.4 France
      • 1.1.5 Belgium
    • 1.2 Central and Eastern Europe
  • 2 Sources

According to the BBC, at least 45 people have been killed so far, with more deaths expected. Reports of numbers currently vary as the damage is assessed.

The casualties were distributed as follows:

  • United Kingdom: 13 (8 in North West England)
  • Germany: 13
  • Ireland: 7 – lost at sea
  • The Netherlands: 7
  • Poland: 6
  • Czech Republic: 4
  • Belgium: 2
  • France: 2
  • Austria: 1

The UK saw a total of eleven casualties, most of them in England. All incidents took place on January 18.

  • The first casualty of the storm was the chief of Birmingham International Airport who was killed around 05:45 GMT when his car windscreen was smashed by a falling branch in Shropshire.
  • In the London district of Kentish Town, a two-year-old boy died in hospital after receiving severe head injuries. These were caused by a wall collapsing onto the boy whilst he was walking with his childminder in the afternoon of January 18.
  • A female lorry driver was killed on the A269 in Yorkshire when her vehicle overturned and was blown into a canal.
  • A male lorry driver, who was a German national, was killed on the A55 in Chester in a similar incident.
  • The front-seat male passenger of a car on the A329 was killed when a branch hit the car near Streatley, Berkshire, the driver was injured.
  • A man was blown into metal shutters at an industrial estate in Manchester and died.
  • In Byley, Cheshire, a man was hit by a tree whilst working on a construction site.
  • An elderly man was killed at Humberside by a collapsing shed.
  • A woman in Stockport was killed when a wall she tried to shelter behind collapsed onto her.
  • In Lancashire, a man was hit by a falling canopy at a petrol station whilst refuelling and later died in hospital.
  • In Woofferton, Shropshire, a lorry driver collided with another vehicle and died on the scene.

Germany was the country most severely hit by the storm, with 13 casualties as of January 21, 2007. Most deaths occurred on the 18th and 19th of January, though some victims were only injured at first and later died in hospital.

  • In the Munich bourough Milbertshofen, an 18-month old child was severely injured by a patio door that had broken out of its hinges. The child later died in hospital.
  • Near Kirrlach in the state of Baden-Württemberg, a motorist tried to avoid a tree that had fallen onto the road and crashed into an oncoming vehicle. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
  • A 73-year old man was crushed by a barn door in Gersthofen in the district of Augsburg.
  • A fireman was killed in Tönisvorst in North Rhine-Westphalia whilst performing storm cleanup work.
  • A 36-year motorist was killed in Hildesheim by a fallen tree.
  • A motorcycle driver slid under a tree in Essen, dying in hospital on January 21.
  • On the B 55 near Lippstadt, a 23-year woman was killed when her car was hit by a falling birch tree.
  • A man was killed when the gable of a nearby building collapsed in Groß Rodensleben in the state of Saxony-Anhalt.
  • In Strausberg in Brandenburg, a 25-year man crashed into a fallen tree with his car.
  • Near Finnentrop, a man died after not noticing a tree that had fallen onto the road and crashing into it.

Seven people in the Netherlands were killed as a result of the weather. Two people died when a falling tree hit their car between Arnhem and Ede. A man near Oosterhout was killed in a collision with a truck. A motorcyclist died near Leersum after a collision with a tree, as well as a 17-year old boy on a moped in Sint Oedenrode. An 11-year old boy in Riel was blown in front of a car, which drove over him. The boy died on the scene. A 59-year old man in Staphorst was blown off of the roof of his barn, as he was repairing the damage caused by the storm. Six people were injured when a crane fell through the roof of a Utrecht University building. The National Crisis Centre has advised people to stay indoors, the first time such a warning has been issued.

In France, a driving instructor in Roubaix was killed when an electricity pole fell on top of her car. The student was severely injured. A 30-year old man died near Abbeville, when a swerving truck crashed into his car. A woman in Lille is missing after the roof of a store collapsed. There was significant damage to the cathedral at Saint-Omer.

Two people in Belgium fell victim to the storm; a 16-year old girl in Halle died when a wall she was standing by collapsed and a man died in the province of Liège after a tree fell on top of his car.

In Poland, a crane operator was killed in Katowice when a 25-metre-high (82ft) crane broke in half. By January 19 a total of 6 casualties and 19 people wounded have been reported, nearly 800 thousand households lack electricity due to the damage done by the storm, about 500 were damaged.

In the Czech Republic, a fireman died in Slune?ná (Liberec Region) when the wind threw a tree trunk on him while he was clearing the road with his colleagues. Two young men died in Vestec near Prague when a tree fell on their car.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Spanish hospital reported today that three premature babies have died within one week from the same infection. The babies, who were being cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit of Madrid‘s 12 de Octubre Hospital, all died after being infected with Klebsiella pneumoniae bacterium. Authorities also suspect that a fourth baby has become infected with the bacterium. The Spanish patients’ association ADEPA has asked the public prosecutor of the Madrid Region, Manuel Moix, to open an investigation into the matter.

This morning, hospital authorities stated that the first death occurred on 26 February. A baby born eight weeks prematurely and weighing just under one kilo died due to septic shock arising from the infection, which was unconnected with the symptoms of his premature birth, according to hospital reports.

Shortly afterwards, two babies in the same unit died on 2 March. They appear to have died from the same infection; however the hospital stated that they are still waiting for confirmation of the cause of death. A fourth baby has been found to have the bacteria on his skin, but as yet there is no confirmation of whether he has been infected. The hospital states that although the baby is in a serious condition, this is to be expected when a baby is born so premature, and that his condition is also due to other factors, unrelated to the bacterium, which have arisen since his birth.

The hospital authorities have asserted that all of the babies in its care are under close supervision, and are being periodically monitored by the Preventive Medicine Centre, in order that the most up-to-date information may be had on the state of any and all patients in the hospital.

To prevent further infections, the hospital has taken several measures. The first is of course rigorous medical hygiene. High-risk patients are referred to other hospitals. The hospital has been divided into two separate zones, one for those already infected and the other for those who have not yet been affected. As a consequence, 25 children who were staying in the hospital while the 3 premature babies died, remain separate from the others, to make sure newly admitted children are not exposed. The nursing staff has also been restricted to one or other of these two areas. Visits from specialists of other hospital services, and from families, has been restricted. Furthermore, an epidemiological study is being undertaken to determine the origin of the situation.

The newspaper El País reports that the bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae is to be found in hospitals as a matter of course and is often contracted by those who have been in hospital for prolonged periods (termed a nosocomial infection). The mortality rate from the bacterium is extremely high in those cases where it’s contracted by people with serious illnesses, as is often to be expected in the case of a premature birth, which can result in newborn babies weighing less than 500 grammes.

According to the Spanish daily, this type of bacterium is prevalent in hospitals throughout the world, but the incidence of infection in Madrid hospitals is lower than the Spanish average. The head of the Neonatal Unit at 12 de Octubre Hospital, Carmen Payás, explained that the bacterium is very adaptable “and keeps on learning”. The father of the dead baby, an Ecuadorian named Angel Marcelo, was quoted as saying that the progress of the baby had at first been “tremendous”, and that he had even been taken off the respirator, but that a few days later he began to cough up blood, dying soon afterwards.

The chair of ADEPA, Carmen Flores, has appealed to the Madrid public prosecutor to open an investigation into the situation and to find those responsible. ADEPA have suggested that the investigation centre on the number of casualties among infants in the hospital, and on the question of whether conditions in the neonatal unit were a direct contributor to the incidence of the infection.

José Quero, head of the Neonatology Department of the La Paz hospital in Madrid said that, “sadly enough”, this situation was “not something exceptional,” but rather something neonatologists have to watch out for.

Polish mine explosion kills 8

January 17, 2019 2:24 am | No Comments

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Methane gas was blamed for the explosion deaths of 8 miners in southern Polish‘s Halemba coal mine Tuesday, November 21. Officials say at least 15 are missing.

Rescue efforts were halted because dangerously high levels of methane gas returned, according to Zbigniew Madej, spokesman for state-owned Coal Co., which operates the mine.

The missing miners’ locater devices were not emitting signals, increasing rescurers’ concerns for their well-being. Grzegorz Pawlaszek, head of Coal Co., said the 15 missing miners’ fate is “not known,” but added that “there is a chance to find someone still alive.”

“This is a tragedy. People have died here,” Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said when he came to Ruda Slaska to see the blast.

Earlier Wednesday, a reconnaissance rescue team descended 3000 feet toward the blast scene, only to retreat because of safety concerns related to high methane gas levels. Rescue digging efforts were also halted because of explosion concerns.

The missing men were aged 21-59. One of the miner’s family members, Andrzej Pytlik, 30, remained on scene with his sister, hoping and waiting for news of her husband, Krystian Gaszka.

Pytlik, also a miner, said through teary eyes that, “I work in the mines and I know that hope is scant because that’s the truth.”

The explosion occurred in a closed portion of the mine where the now-missing miners were working to retrieve abandoned equipment. According to Pawlaszek, the value of the equipment was $23 million, adding that “It was new equipment and that is why we decided to retrieve it.”

He indicated that the recovery work was performed under the supervision of gas detection specialists, and that the bodies of the recovered miners were difficult to identify because of the severity of burns and because their ID tags were blown away in the explosion.

The Halemba mine, located in Ruda Slaska, has produced coal for nearly 50 years, has been fraught with safety concerns and has a track record of serious accidents. One of the oldest mines in Poland, it is centrally located in the industrial Silesia region.

Earlier this year, a miner was trapped underground in the Halemba mine five days after a cave-in. In 1990, 19 miners were killed and 20 hurt in a gas explosion, and five were killed in collapse in 1991.

Inside, priests and mining officials were comforting and counseling with distraught relatives. Outside, eight white candles flickered on a main gate wall.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hurricane Dennis regained strength during its north-westerly crossing of the Gulf of Mexico to surge into Florida’s western panhandle near Mobile, Alabama with Category 3 force that packed sustained winds of 120 mph.

Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Escambia were the first Florida counties hit by the eyewall of the hurricane at 3:25 EDT Sunday afternoon.The small storm eye of the powerful hurricane spared the region more major destruction.

The compact storm picked up travel speed from 14 to 18 mph as it came to within 3 hours of landfall, where the storm’s eye made for the Pensacola Bay. Its strength suddenly dropped from Category 4 before it struck land and moved swiftly inland. It continued to gain speed, traveling at 21 mph, while its strength sapped to Category 2 on a track into the Ohio Valley.

Residents of Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola who remained in the region, were told hours before the storm’s arrival that storm shelters were full, and they were urged to stay home or find other shelter. In Escambia County Florida, officials announced at 2pm they were no longer able to respond to 911 calls for help due to the high winds.

The storm came 10 months after Hurricane Ivan, which struck the panhandle and Mobile Bay region last year. Dennis landed just 50 miles east of Ivan’s, where recovery efforts from that storm were still ongoing. The Dennis landfall matched Ivan’s Category 3 wind speeds.

Power outages were reported in Mobile and across the panhandle. Florida governor Jeb Bush promised in a televised press conference that all efforts to restore power would be done as quickly as possible so that, “people can help themselves” recover from the storm. A hospital administrator at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola said it lost power at 2:30pm, and can operate 60 hours using back-up power generators.

Sunday evening, President Bush declared that Florida has major disaster areas, making the state eligible for FEMA assistance.

In Alabama, interstate highway I-65 was re-routed for northbound traffic only when an evacuation order was issued on Friday, by Governor Riley, for Mobile and Baldwin counties. Northern parts of the state, up into the southern part of Tennessee, were booked full with those who evacuated. A curfew lifted Sunday at 6pm in the city of Mobile.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast region was victim of the Category 5 storm, Hurricane Camille, in 1969.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Bre Payton, a 26 year old U.S. writer for the conservative online magazine The Federalist, and recurring pundit on the Fox News, Fox Business and One America News networks, died suddenly on Friday in San Diego, California, after contracting H1N1 flu and encephalitis. Colleagues reacted with surprise to the death and recalled Payton’s work ethic, Christian beliefs, and physical attractiveness. News of the death spread virally, becoming the sixth most trending topic in the United States on Google for the day.

According to an account on Caring Bridge, a day after she appeared on One America News on Wednesday, Payton was found unresponsive. She was hospitalized and admitted into the intensive care unit. After tests, doctors made the diagnoses. Her condition worsened until she died.

“We are devastated,” tweeted The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, “Last we saw her, she was her funny, smart, vivacious self. Now lost to us so suddenly.”

In a piece published yesterday, Domenech reflected on Payton’s role as a young conservative woman and described her as “distractingly beautiful for the men of Washington D.C. […] smarter than all of them, [and] would outwork them and outresearch them and outreport them”.

Payton joined the The Federalist in April 2015 after graduating from Patrick Henry College. In addition to One America News, she appeared on the Fox shows Your World with Neil Cavuto, Trish Regan Primetime, Fox & Friends, and Fox News @ Night.

“I cannot believe this,” tweeted Fox News @ Night host Shannon Bream, “[Payton] was such a beautiful light, smart and funny and kind and talented[…] Please pray for her broken hearted loved ones, who are undoubtedly reeling. She was far too young.”

Payton is survived by four siblings and her parents who have started a scholarship fund in her name to benefit “young, rising, Christian leaders.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Florida newspaper St. Petersburg Times published a series of investigative articles on Scientology on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, including exclusive interviews with former high-ranking executives within the organization. Four former Scientology executives stated that they witnessed the Church of Scientology‘s leader David Miscavige physically strike staff members numerous times.

The former executives speaking out include Mike Rinder, who served as head of the organization’s legal and public relations division the Office of Special Affairs, Mark Rathbun, former Inspector General of the organization’s Religious Technology Center, Tom De Vocht, former manager of the organization’s operations in Clearwater, Florida, and Amy Scobee, a former Scientology staff member in California who assisted in construction of Scientology’s Celebrity Centres. Rathbun supervised the Church of Scientology’s response to the Lisa McPherson case, after she died under Scientology care in 1995.

Regularly David Miscavige would in the middle of a conference physically assault, punch, slap or grab by the neck a number of executives.

Rinder said the impact was more one of humiliation than physical pain: “The issue wasn’t the physical pain of it (being assaulted by Miscavige). The issue was the humiliation and the domination. … It’s the fact that the domination you’re getting — hit in the face, kicked — and you can’t do anything about it.” Rathbun asserted Miscavige would assault executives during conferences. “Regularly David Miscavige would in the middle of a conference physically assault, punch, slap or grab by the neck a number of executives,” said Rathbun.

De Vocht said that Miscavige would “lose it” if he did not hear a satisfactory answer from his executives: “If it wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear, he’d lose it. If it was contrary to how he thought, he’d lose it. If he found it to be smart aleck, or it was a better answer than he had, he would lose it.” Scobee was critical of Miscavige’s actions while calling himself a “religious leader”. “You cannot call yourself a religious leader as you beat people, as you confine people, as you rip apart families. If I was trying to destroy Scientology, I would leave David Miscavige right where he is because he’s doing a fantastic job of it,” she said.

In its preparation for the investigation, The St. Petersburg Times staff met with attorneys and representatives for the Church of Scientology for 25 hours. According to the paper Miscavige was sought out by reporters for an interview from May 13, but they were informed he would not be available prior to July. Miscavige e-mailed the paper on Saturday, complaining that he was not interviewed. “I am at a loss to comprehend how the St. Petersburg Times can publish a story about me and the religion I lead without accepting the offer to speak with me,” wrote Miscavige.

Church of Scientology representatives denied the statements made by their former executives, and claimed the individuals left the organization after being demoted. They claimed the former executives were motivated by feelings of revenge and only speaking to the press for financial gain.

What they want to do is extort money from the church.

Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis acknowledged violence occurred within the ranks of Scientology management, but claimed that it was Rathbun and not Miscavige who carried out the assaults. In comments to the Associated Press, Davis referred to the statements made by former executives about Miscavige as “absolutely, unquestionably false”. Scientology representative Lyman Spurlock stated “What they want to do is extort money from the church. … and right now the St. Pete Times is their extortion vehicle… you’re just their lackeys. They’re using you.”

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The St. Petersburg Times reported Monday on the attention received by the investigative articles in other media. The Associated Press carried the story, and it was included in over 177 television and news websites including MSNBC, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as blogs and media sites for The Huffington Post, Gawker, L.A. Weekly, and The Village Voice. By Monday the first article in the series had received over 3,600 “diggs” at the social news website Digg and generated over 420 comments at the site. A post at the “On Deadline” blog of USA Today called the investigation “a fascinating three-part series”. “Juicy stuff from a mainstream newspaper coming out and hitting Scientology hard,” said biologist and University of Minnesota, Morris associate professor PZ Myers in a post to his blog Pharyngula. “I’m sure there are meetings going on in Clearwater right now where they’re plotting revenge,” wrote Myers.

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