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Greenpeace tries to thwart Chesapeake Bay fishing fleet

  • Posted on October 24, 2018 at 2:43 am

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Greenpeace activists scattered schools of menhaden bait fish in the Chesapeake Bay on Tuesday when fishing ships belonging to Omega Protein Corp. were about to drop their sceine nets.

The Omega fleet consisted of two spotter planes and four fishing boats with eight tenders. Greenpeace arrived with four fast moving out-board motor boats, manned by thirteen activists, who attempted to drive away the fish. The Coast Guard was called in and ended the confrontation peacefully.

The Houston-based Omega Protein Corporation is the largest processor and distributor of protein-rich menhaden and fish oil products in the United States. The company accounts for nearly 90% of the entire East Coast menhaden catch.

An Omega spokesman Toby Gascon said of Greenpeace, “They have now demonstrated that their real agenda is to put Omega out of business, even if it means risking the safety of Omega’s fishermen.” Their fleet is out of Reedville, Virginia, now a top U.S. fishing port due to the recent Omega processing plant opened there.

Chesapeake Bay menhaden are considered an important food source for fish species popular with sports fisherman. They are also, next to oysters, a prime filter feeder in bay waters. The bay oyster population has suffered drastic declines from disease over the last two decades. Studies of menhaden populations are still inconclusive as scientists try to determine the overall number of bay menhaden.

Greenpeace says the species is near historic lows and predators that depend on the fish as a food source, such as striped bass, show signs of suffering from malnutrition and poor body condition.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, had praise for Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, and the state’s Department of Natural Resources. They secured a commitment from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to seek a cap on commercial harvesting of Atlantic Menhaden.

A coalition of recreational anglers and environmentalists, called Menhaden Matter, also joined the debate by saying coast-wide population of Atlantic Menhaden has fallen to near record lows. They are also against an encroachment by Omega into Chesapeake waters.

The issue is a cap proposed by ASMFC on the menhaden harvest. The Board recommended a Draft Addendum to limit the menhaden harvest to 110,400 metric tons, which is the average over five years of consecutive declines in harvests for the species. The limit would apply to Atlantic and in-land waters of the species. The proposed cap is for years 2006 and 2007 and open to public debate.

ASMFC recently rejected an offer by Omega that would voluntarily cap their harvest at 135,000 metric tons annually for the next four years. They noted Omega also seeks to reopen some waters in Maryland and New Jersey which are currently closed to industrial purse seine operations. A public hearing is scheduled in Alexandria, Virginia in the next few days.

Omega says that ASMFC’s own reports indicate the population levels of Atlantic menhaden are healthy.

A Chesapeake Bay Foundation senior scientist, William J. Goldsborough, said, “I believe that a cap on the purse seine catch of menhaden at current levels, covering the total catch as well as removals from Chesapeake Bay, would be a prudent measure to adopt.”

Greenpeace tries to thwart Chesapeake Bay fishing fleet
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Retire To Asia And Why}

  • Posted on October 24, 2018 at 2:42 am

Retire to Asia – And Why

by

Brian Bees

In reading this article you may realize that the best part of your life could be in Asia, and the best time is now.

The theme of most retirement articles is the best place to retire in the USA. However, according to the AARP about 80 percent of Americans do not plan to move when they retire. Work a lifetime, and with the door open to have a fresh start in retirement, one just stays in the same town, the same house, the same routine. There must be a better quality of life in retirement, and there is! Nowadays, more retirees are not only moving from their house to another city or state, but are moving out of the United States. Over recent years I have had an increasing number of friends write to me about my life in Asia. The motives behind the questions have varied from political discontentment to financial. Many of the concerns are related to the high cost of living, including heating and A/C bills, taxes, grocery bills, the cost of gasoline, medical bills, dental bills, home repair bills, and list goes on. There is no doubt about it, the cost of living in the USA goes higher each day. Many of those who write to me are not really enjoying their Golden Years but are just getting by. If you are in the stage of retirement planning or are now retired that should concern you, as each day is precious and we should be enjoying life to its fullest. The best is yet to come. Travel with me down a different road of thought. I have lived in retirement for the past 7 years in Asia, in the beach resort city of Pattaya, Thailand. Being a tourist destination, you immediately picture an area with a beautiful bay view, fine restaurants, and entertainment galore. It is more than just that. It is so easy to get around the city using public transportation that my car sits in the driveway. We have modern shopping centers, movie complexes, health spa’s, fitness centers, golf courses, and even an IT center with 5 floors of computers, mobile phones, and electronics. Pattaya has not one, but two International Standard hospitals. Health care is affordable. Being a tourist city, the Thai staff in most stores and restaurants speak English, German, Russian, and other languages. Language is not a problem, but learning a little basic Thai is both fun and useful. A Hollywood movie with English sound track, shown in a high tech theater costs around $2.50. The air-conditioned city bus is 50 cents, private buses around 25 cents. A Thai food-bar meal runs around 75 cents. We have clubs that meet weekly where the foreign community can get together. They have Open Forums where newcomers to the community can ask questions. The glimpse just given is representative of life for foreigners in most Asian countries. A stress free, quality lifestyle on your retirement pension. Why Asia? Because Asia is the most exciting, the most user friendly continent on earth. Luxury living for pennies – not just “getting by” on your retirement pension. The United States and Europe are becoming almost impossibly expensive to live and retire in. Learn more about the Asian countries, which ones to consider for retirement, and why. If funds permit, plan a holiday visit to some of the countries of interest. Alternatively, the Internet is a great source of information. Also, one can join an Internet blog or group and gain information and tips from persons already living overseas. As I said in my opening, the best part of your life could be in Asia, and the best time is now.

To learn more, country by country, a “must read” is the Retire to Asia! E-Book. It is an instant-download that you can print. 67 pages of text and stunning photographs. Visit me at http://www.retiretoasia.net Brian Bees has lived and worked in Asia for 27 years and has been retired in Thailand for the past 7 years.

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Retire to Asia – And Why}

Students pass out forcing Michigan school to evacuate

  • Posted on October 24, 2018 at 2:18 am

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Catholic school in Michigan, United States was evacuated today after several students became sick during a church service.

Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Director Rick Matott said St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School evacuated its 860 students around 9 a.m. EDT today. At least three children had passed out during the church service. Two children reportedly had to be taken to area hospitals.

Medical crews and hazardous material experts responded to the school to determine the cause of the illness. However, it is still not known what caused the students to become sick.

Students walked to the nearby Oakland Community College campus while they waited for their parents to pick them up.

St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School is about 15 miles northwest of Detroit.

Students pass out forcing Michigan school to evacuate
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Two nuclear submarines collide in the Atlantic Ocean

  • Posted on October 24, 2018 at 2:10 am

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.

Two nuclear submarines collide in the Atlantic Ocean
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Levitra ads pulled by FDA

  • Posted on October 24, 2018 at 2:07 am

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has penned a stiff reminder to drug giants Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corp. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC: pull your 15-second “reminder” ad for the erectile dysfunction drug, Levitra, off TV.

FDA said there is no evidence Levitra is better than rival drugs Viagra from Pfizer, or Cialis, owned by Eli Lilly and Co., in producing results that make female partners happy.

Levitra and Cialis together control about 30 per cent of the market for such drugs, but Pfizer takes the majority share.

Reminder ads can only call attention to a drug, not claim it works better, or at all.

“In one of [the ad’s] scenes, the man strokes the woman’s hair and face as she affectionately puts her hand on his wrist,” the FDA wrote. “In the other, she puts her arms around his neck and they embrace.”

“The totality of the TV ad also represents or suggests that Levitra will provide a satisfying sexual experience from the female partner’s perspective,” the agency wrote.

Glaxo spokesman Michael Fleming said the drug makers would comply. Bayer developed Levitra and partnered with Glaxo to market the pills in 2001. Bayer recently turned its part of the promotion over to Schering-Plough Corp.

Shares of Bayer fell 75 cents to $32.96 on Friday. Shares of GlaxoSmithKline rose 32 cents to close at $47.82. Schering-Plough shares rose 8 cents to end at $20.65.

Levitra ads pulled by FDA
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Man charged with attempted murder in £40 million London jewel heist

  • Posted on October 23, 2018 at 2:22 am

Sunday, September 6, 2009

24-year-old Aman Kassaye, of no fixed abode, is to face a charge of attempted murder for his alleged role in an armed robbery that netted £40 million ($65 million) worth of jewelry from a London store.

Kassaye is the seventh man to be charged, and is also facing prosecution for conspiracy to rob the Graff store in New Bond Street, false imprisonment, and using a handgun to resist arrest. He will appear at Wimbledon magistrates court on Monday.

The other six men have already been remanded in custody until October 23, when they will appear at Kingston Crown Court. All are facing charges of conspiracy to rob, and two of them are also charged with a firearms offense.

43 diamond rings, watches, and bracelets were taken from the store. The theft occurred when two armed and suited men walked in and took an employee hostage. It has been reported they used prosthetic masks made from liquid latex but police have not confirmed this. Amateur footage also shows a shot was fired. No-one was injured.

The robbery is one of the biggest the United Kingdom has seen. After the crime a string of getaway vehicles was used, with police believing several more offenders assisted with this stage of the plan. Although The Telegraph claims no stolen property has yet been recovered, this is also unconfirmed by police.

Man charged with attempted murder in £40 million London jewel heist
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Broken pipes cause flood in Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, New York

  • Posted on October 23, 2018 at 2:16 am
 Correction — February 13, 2008 The break was a broken sprinkler head in a crawl space above the shop, according to Jeffrey A. Salmon Facilities Manager of the Martin House Restoration Corporation. Not a pipe. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Buffalo, New York —According to radio communications by the Buffalo, New York Fire Department, at approximately 10:15 p.m. EST two water pipes inside the Darwin D. Martin House, a National Historical Landmark, broke causing several rooms to flood.

The breaks were discovered in the gift shop area of the house but quickly began to flood other areas near the shop as firefighters had a difficult time locating the main shut off valves.

At 10:50 p.m., firefighters reported to have shut off “several main valves” stopping the flow of water. The cost of the water damage is not known, but covered several rooms. Recent sub-zero temperatures in the city is said to be the cause of the break. At the time of the call, the temperature was only 10°F with a wind chill of 4°F above zero. On Sunday the temperature was only 3°F with a wind chill of -23°F.

The house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, has seen rough times over the years, experiencing problems such as vandalism. The first half of the complex was built in 1903 and finished in 1905. After the pergola, conservatory, and carriage were demolished, restoration and rebuild began in 1992 and is scheduled for completion in 2008 or 2009.

Broken pipes cause flood in Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, New York
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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

  • Posted on October 23, 2018 at 2:02 am

Friday, May 16, 2008

Controversy has arisen over the reported presence of blue asbestos on the MV Freewinds, a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. According to the Saint Martin newspaper The Daily Herald and the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed in April and local public health officials on the Caribbean island of Curaçao where the ship is docked began an investigation into the presence of asbestos dust on the ship. Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft supervised work on the ship in 1987, and attested to the presence of blue asbestos on the Freewinds in an affidavit posted to the Internet in 2001. Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, gave a statement to Wikinews and commented on the recent events.

According to The Daily Herald, the Freewinds was in the process of being renovated by the Curaçao Drydock Company. The article states that samples taken from paneling in the ship were sent to the Netherlands, where an analysis revealed that they “contained significant levels of blue asbestos”. An employee of the Curaçao Drydock Company told Radar Online in an April 30 article that the Freewinds has been docked and sealed, and confirmed that an article about asbestos ran in the local paper.

Lloyd’s List reported that work on the interior of the Freewinds was suspended on April 27 after health inspectors found traces of blue asbestos on the ship. According to Lloyd’s List, Frank Esser, Curaçao Drydock Company’s interim director, joined Curaçao’s head of the department of labor affairs Christiene van der Biezen along with the head of the local health department Tico Ras and two inspectors in an April 25 inspection of the ship. “We are sending someone so that they can tell us what happened, where it came from, since when it has been there,” said Panama Maritime Authority’s director of merchant marine Alfonso Castillero in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

The Church of Scientology purchased the ship, then known as the Bohème, in 1987, through an organization called Flag Ship Trust. After being renovated and refitted, it was put into service in June 1988. The ship is used by the Church of Scientology for advanced Scientology training in “Operating Thetan” levels, as well as for spiritual retreats for its members. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by the Church of Scientology.

According to his 2001 statement, Lawrence Woodcraft had been an architect in London, England since 1975, and joined Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) in 1986. He wrote that he was asked by the Sea Org to work on the Freewinds in 1987, and during his work on the ship “noticed a powdery blue fibrous substance approximately 1 ½” thick between the paint and the steel wall,” which he believed to be asbestos. He also discovered what he thought was blue asbestos in other parts of the ship, and reported his findings to Church of Scientology executives. Woodcraft discussed his experiences in a 2001 interview published online by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a now-defunct organization which was critical of the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw responded to Radar Online about the asbestos reports, in an email published in an article in Radar on May 1. “The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards,” said Pouw. She stated that two inspections performed in April “confirmed that the air quality is safe,” and asserted that the inspections revealed the Freewinds satisfies standards set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Pouw told Radar that “The Freewinds will be completing its refit on schedule.” The Church of Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) had been planning a cruise aboard the Freewinds scheduled for May 8, but according to Radar an individual who called the booking number for the cruise received a message that the cruise had been delayed due to ongoing work on the ship. Citing an article in the Netherlands Antilles newspaper Amigoe, Radar reported on May 6 that a team from the United States and supervised by an independent bureau from the Netherlands traveled to Curaçao in order to remove asbestos from the Freewinds.

…if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff.

“I stand by everything I wrote in my 2001 affidavit,” said Lawrence Woodcraft in an exclusive statement given to Wikinews. Woodcraft went on to state: “I would also comment that if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff. Also panelling as well, basically strip the ship back to a steel hull. Also blue asbestos is sprayed onto the outer walls and then covered in paint. It’s in every nook and cranny.”

Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. Now magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds.

There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.

In a May 15 statement to the United Kingdom daily newspaper Metro, a representative for the Church of Scientology said that “There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.” The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Center notes that agencies have recommended anyone who has spent time on the Freewinds consult with their physician to determine if possible asbestos exposure may have affected their health.

Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in OK! Magazine. Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”

Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds
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Aerosmith sued over late cancellation of gig in Maui, Hawaii

  • Posted on October 20, 2018 at 2:30 am

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fans of the American hard rock band Aerosmith have launched legal action against the band in response to a late cancellation of a scheduled concert on the Hawaiian Island of Maui.

Attorney Brandee Faria filed a class action suit in Hawaii Circuit Court on October 19. The suit alleges that the band’s cancellation cost fans between US$500,000 (€349,944) and $3 million (€2.1 million) in travel and accommodation costs, as well as other related expenses.

The sold-out September 26 Maui concert – originally planned months before as the final show of a world tour that began in Brazil in April – was canceled by the band on the basis that they could not make it to the island in time after a September 24 concert in Chicago. The Chicago concert, which attracted 18,000 people, was rescheduled at the last minute after the original September 10 concert date had been postponed due to illness.

The band canceled the show at Maui’s War Memorial Stadium, which was set to be attended by 9,000 people, and apologized to fans. The band’s management company, HK Management Inc., gave no initial reason when they canceled on September 20, but blamed logistical reasons by the next day.

However, just days later, on September 29, the band traveled to the neighbor island of Oahu to play a corporate event in Honolulu for Toyota car dealers and private guests. An audience of 6,000 people celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Japanese automobile manufacturer at the University of Hawaii, with Toyota paying $500,000 (€349,944) to hire the campus. Aerosmith received $1 million (€700,000) to perform at the event. Faria alleges that Aerosmith abandoned the scheduled public concert on Maui in favor of the more lucrative corporate event on Oahu.

“…Defendants simply canceled the only public performance by Aerosmith in favor of the larger Chicago venue and the lucrative, private concert for the Toyota car dealers,” the complaint states.

Local officials had hoped the concert would attract other big names to the island.

Faria said that “I’ve had people contact me being out of pocket at much as $800 or $900,” adding that if the cancellation is found to be deceptive ticket holders may be eligible for a minimum of $1,000 each. The complaint also says that those aged 62 or over should receive at least $5,000 each. Currently about a dozen ticket holders are involved with the suit. If the action is approved by a judge, steps will be taken to contact everyone who purchased a ticket.

Aerosmith sued over late cancellation of gig in Maui, Hawaii
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Driver fined after following sat-nav to edge of cliff in West Yorkshire, England

  • Posted on October 19, 2018 at 2:48 am

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A driver has been fined after following the directions of his satellite navigation system, leading him to the edge of a massive cliff drop in West Yorkshire, England.

Robert Jones, who is 43 years old, appeared in Calderdale Magistrates Court on Tuesday, representing himself. He was prosecuted by Waseem Raja. Waseem told the court: “The defendant was using a TomTom satellite navigation system. The defendant followed that system to the letter, so much so it led him up a lane clearly unsuitable for motor vehicles.”

“The path was such it was not designed for use of motor vehicles yet Mr Jones slavishly continued to follow the satnav system to the point where his eyes and his brain must have been telling him otherwise to such a degree he was not exercising proper control of the vehicle.”

On March 22, 2009, Robert Jones was driving a BMW 5 Series and was trying to get to his home in Doncaster, South Yorkshire after staying with friends in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. He was unsure of the route home and so followed his satellite navigation system, which was in the car. He continued to follow instructions despite being told that the narrowing dirt track he was driving on was actually a road. At the time the petrol gauge in the car indicated that he had just seven miles of fuel left. Because of this, Jones was desperate to find a filling station. He became so distracted by the sat-nav that he didn’t realise his mistakes until he struck a fence on the edge of a 100 foot (30.5 metre) drop. The battery on his mobile phone had run out so he had to walk to a nearby village to get help.

In his defence, Robert told the court: “I might have been an idiot for taking the wrong road or carrying on but I have not driven without due care or attention. I’m sorry it happened. I certainly would not do it again. I drive 5,000 miles a week and I never have had a problem with it. I had no reason not to trust it.”

Jones was found guilty of driving without due care and attention. He was fined £370 (US$610) with £500 ($824) costs and ordered to pay a £15 ($24) victim surcharge. He also got six points on his licence and had to pay £1,000 ($1,624) in recovery charges.

Driver fined after following sat-nav to edge of cliff in West Yorkshire, England
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