Wikinews interviews Australian Statistician Brian Pink

Posted October 4th, 2019 by e76yKR

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is responsible for some of Australia’s largest surveys, including the Census of Population and Housing, held every five years. At its head is the Australian Statistician. The current Statistician, Brian Pink, started in his position on March 5, 2007, following the retirement of predecessor Dennis Trewin. Wikinews recently caught up with Brian Pink to talk with him about his first year in the position, as well as his previous tenure as Government Statistician at Statistics New Zealand, and the state of mathematical education in Australia.

((WikiNews)) : Good afternoon.

Brian Pink: Good afternoon.

((WN)) : And congratulations on spending a year as Australian Statistician.

BP: Yes, it’s gone very quickly. (laughs)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Every September, the Apple iPod is redesigned. Last year saw the release of the iPod Nano 5th generation, bringing a video camera and a large range of colours to the Nano for the first time. But as Apple again prepares to unveil a redesigned product, the company has released their quarterly sales figures—and revealed that they have sold only 9m iPods for the quarter to June—the lowest number of sales since 2006, leading industry anylists to ponder whether the world’s most successful music device is in decline.

Such a drop in sales is not a problem for Apple, since the iPhone 4 and the iPad are selling in high numbers. But the number of people buying digital music players are concerning the music industry. Charles Arthur, technology editor of The Guardian, wrote that the decline in sales of MP3 players was a “problem” for record companies, saying that “digital music sales are only growing as fast as those of Apple’s devices – and as the stand-alone digital music player starts to die off, people may lose interest in buying songs from digital stores. The music industry had looked to the iPod to drive people to buy music in download form, whether from Apple’s iTunes music store, eMusic, Napster or from newer competitors such as Amazon.”

Mark Mulligan, a music and digital media analyst at Forrester Research, said in an interview that “at a time where we’re asking if digital is a replacement for the CD, as the CD was for vinyl, we should be starting to see a hockey-stick growth in download sales. Instead, we’re seeing a curve resembling that of a niche technology.” Alex Jacob, a spokesperson for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents the worldwide music industry, agreed that there had been a fall in digital sales of music. “The digital download market is still growing,” they said. “But the percentage is less than a few years ago, though it’s now coming from a higher base.” Figures released earlier this year, Arthur wrote, “show that while CD sales fell by 12.7%, losing $1.6bn (£1bn)in value, digital downloads only grew by 9.2%, gaining less than $400m in value.”

Expectations that CDs would, in time, become extinct, replaced by digital downloads, have not come to light, Jacob confirmed. “Across the board, in terms of growth, digital isn’t making up for the fall in CD sales, though it is in certain countries, including the UK,” he said. Anylising the situation, Arthur suggested that “as iPod sales slow, digital music sales, which have been yoked to the device, are likely to slow too. The iPod has been the key driver: the IFPI’s figures show no appreciable digital download sales until 2004, the year Apple launched its iTunes music store internationally (it launched it in the US in April 2003). Since then, international digital music sales have climbed steadily, exactly in line with the total sales of iPods and iPhones.”

Nick Farrell, a TechEYE journalist, stated that the reason for the decline in music sales could be attributed to record companies’ continued reliance on Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, saying that they had considered him the “industry’s saviour”, and by having this mindset had forgotten “that the iPod is only for those who want their music on the run. What they should have been doing is working out how to get high quality music onto other formats, perhaps even HiFi before the iPlod fad died out.”

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When Jobs negotiated a deal with record labels to ensure every track was sold for 99 cents, they considered this unimportant—the iPod was not a major source of revenue for the company. However, near the end of 2004, there was a boom in sales of the iPod, and the iTunes store suddenly began raking in more and more money. The record companies were irritated, now wanting to charge different amounts for old and new songs, and popular and less popular songs. “But there was no alternative outlet with which to threaten Apple, which gained an effective monopoly over the digital music player market, achieving a share of more than 70%” wrote Arthur. Some did attempt to challenge the iTunes store, but still none have succeeded. “Apple is now the largest single retailer of music in the US by volume, with a 25% share.”

The iTunes store now sells television shows and films, and the company has recently launced iBooks, a new e-book store. The App Store is hugely successful, with Apple earning $410m in two years soley from Apps, sales of which they get 30%. In two years, 5bn apps have been downloaded—while in seven years, 10bn songs have been purchased. Mulligan thinks that there is a reason for this—the quality of apps simply does not match up to a piece of music. “You can download a song from iTunes to your iPhone or iPad, but at the moment music in that form doesn’t play to the strengths of the device. Just playing a track isn’t enough.”

Adam Liversage, a spokesperson of the British Phonographic Industry, which represents the major UK record labels, notes that the rise of streaming services such as Spotify may be a culprit in the fall in music sales. Revenues from such companies added up to $800m in 2009. Arthur feels that “again, it doesn’t make up for the fall in CD sales, but increasingly it looks like nothing ever will; that the record business’s richest years are behind it. Yet there are still rays of hope. If Apple – and every other mobile phone maker – are moving to an app-based economy, where you pay to download games or timetables, why shouldn’t recording artists do the same?”

Well, apparently they are. British singer Peter Gabriel has released a ‘Full Moon Club’ app, which is updated every month with a new song. Arthur also notes that “the Canadian rock band Rush has an app, and the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, led by Trent Reznor – who has been critical of the music industry for bureaucracy and inertia – released the band’s first app in April 2009.” It is thought that such a system will be an effective method to reduce online piracy—”apps tend to be tied to a particular handset or buyer, making them more difficult to pirate than a CD”, he says—and in the music industry, piracy is a very big problem. In 2008, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimated that 95% of downloads were illegitimate. If musicians can increase sales and decrease piracy, Robert says, it can only be a good thing.

“It’s early days for apps in the music business, but we are seeing labels and artists experimenting with it,” Jacob said. “You could see that apps could have a premium offering, or behind-the-scenes footage, or special offers on tickets. But I think it’s a bit premature to predict the death of the album.” Robert concluded by saying that it could be “premature to predict the death of the iPod just yet too – but it’s unlikely that even Steve Jobs will be able to produce anything that will revive it. And that means that little more than five years after the music industry thought it had found a saviour in the little device, it is having to look around again for a new stepping stone to growth – if, that is, one exists.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the oil and gas industry are creating earthquakes. New information from the Midwest region of the United States points out that these man-made earthquakes are happening more frequently than expected. While more frequent earthquakes are less of a problem for regions like the Midwest, a geology professor from the University of Southern Indiana, Dr. Paul K. Doss, believes the disposal of wastewater from the hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) process used in extracting oil and gas has the possibility to pose potential problems for groundwater.

“We are taking this fluid that has a whole host of chemicals in it that are useful for fracking and putting it back into the Earth,” Doss said. “From a purely seismic perspective these are not big earthquakes that are going to cause damage or initiate, as far as we know, any larger kinds of earthquakes activity for Midwest. [The issue] is a water quality issue in terms of the ground water resources that we use.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique used by the oil and gas industries which inject highly pressurized water down into the Earth’s crust to break rock and extract natural gas. Most of the fluids used for fracking are proprietary, so information about what chemicals are used in the various fluids are unknown to the public and to create a competitive edge.

Last Monday four researchers from the University of New Brunswick released an editorial that sheds light on the potential risks that the current wastewater disposal system could have on the province’s water resources. The researchers share the concern that Dr. Doss has and have come out to say that they believe fracking should be stopped in the province until there is an environ­mentally safe way to dispose the waste wastewater.

“If groundwater becomes contamin­ated, it takes years to decades to try to clean up an aquifer system,” University of New Brunswick professor Tom Al said.

While the USGS group which conducted the study says it is unclear how the earthquake rates may be related to oil and gas production, they’ve made the correlation between the disposal of wastewater used in fracking and the recent upsurge in earthquakes. Because of the recent information surfacing that shows this connection between the disposal process and earthquakes, individual states in the United States are now passing laws regarding disposal wells.

The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak.

“The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak,” Doss said. “A perfect case-in-point is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, that oil was being drilled at 18,000 feet but leaked at the surface. And that’s the concern because there’s no assurance that some of these unknown chemical cocktails won’t escape before it gets down to where they are trying to get rid of them.”

It was said in the study released by the New Brunswick University professors that if fracking wastewater would contaminate groundwater, that current conventional water treatment would not be sufficient enough to remove the high concentration of chemicals used in fracking. The researchers did find that the wastewater could be recycled, can also be disposed of at proper sites or even pumped further underground into saline aquifers.

The New Brunswick professors have come to the conclusion that current fracking methods used by companies, which use the water, should be replaced with carbon diox­ide or liquefied propane gas.

“You eliminate all the water-related issues that we’re raising, and that peo­ple have raised in general across North America,” Al said.

In New Brunswick liquefied propane gas has been used successfully in fracking some wells, but according to water specialist with the province’s Natural Resources De­partment Annie Daigle, it may not be the go-to solution for New Brunswick due its geological makeup.

“It has been used successfully by Corridor Resources here in New Bruns­wick for lower volume hydraulic frac­turing operations, but it is still a fairly new technology,” Daigle said.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with U.S. states to come up with guidelines to manage seismic risks due to wastewater. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA is the organization that also deals with the policies for wells.

Oil wells, which are under regulation, pump out salt water known as brine, and after brine is pumped out of the ground it’s disposed of by being pumped back into the ground. The difference between pumping brine and the high pressurized fracking fluid back in the ground is the volume that it is disposed of.

“Brine has never caused this kind of earthquake activity,” Doss said. “[The whole oil and gas industry] has developed around the removal of natural gas by fracking techniques and has outpaced regulatory development. The regulation is tied to the ‘the run-of-the-mill’ disposal of waste, in other words the rush to produce this gas has occurred before regulatory agencies have had the opportunity to respond.”

According to the USGS study, the increase in injecting wastewater into the ground may explain the sixfold increase of earthquakes in the central part of the United States from 2000 – 2011. USGS researchers also found that in decades prior to 2000 seismic events that happened in the midsection of the U.S. averaged 21 annually, in 2009 it spiked to 50 and in 2011 seismic events hit 134.

“The incredible volumes and intense disposal of fracking fluids in concentrated areas is what’s new,” Doss said. “There is not a body of regulation in place to manage the how these fluids are disposed of.”

The study by the USGS was presented at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America on April 18, 2012.

Thaksin ordered back to Thailand on stock-sale charges

Posted September 3rd, 2019 by e76yKR

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ousted and living in exile, with assets frozen in Thailand, former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ordered today by the Royal Thai Police to appear on charges related to the sale of some of his family’s stock holdings.

The order adds to mounting, increasingly complex legal troubles for Thaksin, the telecommunications billionaire who led Thailand until he was unseated in a coup last year.

Thaksin and his wife, Potjaman Shinawatra, who are both outside of Thailand, were both ordered to present themselves to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) by June 29 at the latest. A relative of Potjaman’s, Busaba Damapong, was also ordered to appear.

“If they intentionally fail to appear, we must issue an arrest warrant,” DSI chief Sunai Manomai-udom was quoted as saying by Agence France Presse.

Noppadol Pattama, Thaksin’s lawyer and spokesman in Thailand, could not say when his client would return.

“We will have to seek legal consultations among the lawyers. His security is only one factor. We will have to see what our options are and consult with him as well,” Noppadol was quoted as saying by Associated Press.

Last week, interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont and the junta’s leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, both said Thaksin could return to Thailand of his own free will, in order to appeal the seizure of his assets. But later, Sonthi said Thaksin might face harm if he returned too soon.

The latest charges relate to the transfer of shares in 2000 in a real-estate company called SC Asset to a British Virgin Islands-owned company called Win Mark. Police say the Shinwatras’ controlling ownership of SC Asset was illegally concealed through nominees. Potjaman’s relative, Busaba Damapong, served as executive director of SC Asset.

Through nominee companies and disclosed shares, Sunai said, the Shinawatra family owned 79.87 percent of SC Asset. “Not only did they have control of a majority stake but also control over board decisions,” Sunai told Associated Press.

They broke the law in failing to report their ownership in SC Asset and failing to report the transfer of the shares, Sunai said. They could face five years in prison and fined at least 500,000 baht (about US$15,000), Sunai added.

Thaksin is also supected of violating the prohibition on Cabinet members holding shares in publicly traded companies, and could face up to ten years in prison and a 1 million baht fine for that.

Potjaman and Thaksin were also charged yesterday over the purchase of a 13-acre tract of land along Ratchadaphisek Road near the Thailand Cultural Centre in Bangkok.

The Office of the Attorney General says Potjaman purchased the land in an auction that was possibly rigged. Valued at 2.1 billion baht before the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and 870 million baht after, Potjaman purchased the land in 2003 for 772 million baht.

The Attorney General’s office is recommending to the Supreme Court that the land be confiscated by the government.

Potjaman is also sought in Thailand to testify before the Assets Examination Committee (AEC) on the sales of her family’s Shin Corporation stock to Singapore-owned Temasek Holdings.

She sent word today that she is seeking medical treatment for headache and irregular heartbeat in Raffles Hospital in Singapore, and that she asked the AEC to delay the hearing.

Potjaman appeared in court last month to plead not guilty to charges of tax evasion in the sale of Shin Corp. stock to Temasek.

The AEC yesterday ordered an additional seven bank accounts seized after it was discovered that the accounts are controlled by the Shinawatra and Damapong families. The accounts contain 8 million baht that was feared missing last week after the AEC ordered 21 of Thaksin’s bank accounts frozen. The 8 million baht had been transferred just before the AEC’s order, to the other seven accounts.

Authorities have frozen a total of 52 billion baht, or about US$1.6 billion, frozen, money they say came from the Shinawatra family’s sale of Shin Corp. stock to Temasek. The stock sale prompted mass protests against Thaksin last year and was one of the factors in the coup that overthrew his government. The authorities also believe that the Shinawatras and the Damapongs have 73 billion baht from the stock sale remaining in Thailand, and officials are still hunting for another 21 billion baht to seize.

Monday, November 21, 2016

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn both spoke at the annual Confederation of British Industry conference today, talking about Britain after its planned ‘Brexit’ from the European Union, and future plans for business.

May formally announced plans to cut corporation tax from 20%, without giving details, in order to discourage businesses from leaving the UK post-Brexit. Corbyn said in his speech he believes investment by the government on things such as infrastructure improvements is shared ground between Labour and businesses but “businesses will need to contribute” meaning “some increase in corporation tax” under his administration.

Theresa May also toned down plans to put ordinary workers on corporate boards, a campaign promise from running to become leader of the ruling Conservative Party. She said she is working to create a “model that works for everyone” after consulting firms and the general public, with possible plans including panels or advisory committees. The General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress responded by saying “Theresa May made a clear promise to have workers represented on company boards […] This is not the way to show that you want to govern for ordinary working people.” Jeremy Corbyn also criticised this announcement saying “we need to see genuine employee representation at board level, which the prime minister promised, but I see is already backing away from.”

Theresa May also announced she wishes to spend £2Bn annually in research and development, as well as plans to start a small business research initiative to look into helping innovators get ahead. Jeremy Corbyn however said he plans to spend 3% of the UK’s GDP on R&D, significantly more than specified by May.

Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for the UK’s economy focussed on investment. Speaking at the conference he said “First and foremost, a Labour government will prioritise investing in our economy.” As well as the investment in research, Corbyn also promised funds for areas including house building and infrastructure. This would be controlled by the proposed “National Investment Bank”. Corbyn said “Our National Investment Bank will deliver long term strategic investment in our under-powered infrastructure and provide the patient finance that our businesses need across the country.”

May told the conference she would not give “a running commentary on every twist and turn” of the Brexit negotiations. This comes after allegation in the press that she she has no plan to keep under wraps, a claim that has been backed up by an alleged leaked internal government memo that talks about a “lack of overall negotiation strategy” within government.

Re-creation of 1919 cross-Atlantic flight is successful

Posted August 23rd, 2019 by e76yKR

Saturday, June 4, 2005Steve Fossett and his co-pilot Mark Rebholz successfully flew a custom-built replica biplane across the Atlantic from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada and landed on Sunday at a golf course in Clifden, in the west of Ireland.

The trip took approximately 17 hours, 45 minutes longer than the original flight back in June 1919, which was flown by British pilots John Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown, who on their original trip, crash landed in a swamp.

The trip was completely flown in a replica Vickers Vimy, a type of World War One bomber. This particular plane was also used to recreate a flight from Britain to Australia in 1994, and from England to South Africa in 1999.

G20 protests: Inside a labour march

Posted August 18th, 2019 by e76yKR
Wikinews accredited reporter Killing Vector traveled to the G-20 2009 summit protests in London with a group of protesters. This is his personal account.

Friday, April 3, 2009

London – “Protest”, says Ross Saunders, “is basically theatre”.

It’s seven a.m. and I’m on a mini-bus heading east on the M4 motorway from Cardiff toward London. I’m riding with seventeen members of the Cardiff Socialist Party, of which Saunders is branch secretary for the Cardiff West branch; they’re going to participate in a march that’s part of the protests against the G-20 meeting.

Before we boarded the minibus Saunders made a speech outlining the reasons for the march. He said they were “fighting for jobs for young people, fighting for free education, fighting for our share of the wealth, which we create.” His anger is directed at the government’s response to the economic downturn: “Now that the recession is underway, they’ve been trying to shoulder more of the burden onto the people, and onto the young people…they’re expecting us to pay for it.” He compared the protest to the Jarrow March and to the miners’ strikes which were hugely influential in the history of the British labour movement. The people assembled, though, aren’t miners or industrial workers — they’re university students or recent graduates, and the march they’re going to participate in is the Youth Fight For Jobs.

The Socialist Party was formerly part of the Labour Party, which has ruled the United Kingdom since 1997 and remains a member of the Socialist International. On the bus, Saunders and some of his cohorts — they occasionally, especially the older members, address each other as “comrade” — explains their view on how the split with Labour came about. As the Third Way became the dominant voice in the Labour Party, culminating with the replacement of Neil Kinnock with Tony Blair as party leader, the Socialist cadre became increasingly disaffected. “There used to be democratic structures, political meetings” within the party, they say. The branch meetings still exist but “now, they passed a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways, and they [the party leadership] just ignored it.” They claim that the disaffection with New Labour has caused the party to lose “half its membership” and that people are seeking alternatives. Since the economic crisis began, Cardiff West’s membership has doubled, to 25 members, and the RMT has organized itself as a political movement running candidates in the 2009 EU Parliament election. The right-wing British National Party or BNP is making gains as well, though.

Talk on the bus is mostly political and the news of yesterday’s violence at the G-20 demonstrations, where a bank was stormed by protesters and 87 were arrested, is thick in the air. One member comments on the invasion of a RBS building in which phone lines were cut and furniture was destroyed: “It’s not very constructive but it does make you smile.” Another, reading about developments at the conference which have set France and Germany opposing the UK and the United States, says sardonically, “we’re going to stop all the squabbles — they’re going to unite against us. That’s what happens.” She recounts how, in her native Sweden during the Second World War, a national unity government was formed among all major parties, and Swedish communists were interned in camps, while Nazi-leaning parties were left unmolested.

In London around 11am the march assembles on Camberwell Green. About 250 people are here, from many parts of Britain; I meet marchers from Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, and especially organized-labor stronghold Sheffield. The sky is grey but the atmosphere is convivial; five members of London’s Metropolitan Police are present, and they’re all smiling. Most marchers are young, some as young as high school age, but a few are older; some teachers, including members of the Lewisham and Sheffield chapters of the National Union of Teachers, are carrying banners in support of their students.

Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!’

Stewards hand out sheets of paper with the words to call-and-response chants on them. Some are youth-oriented and education-oriented, like the jaunty “Gordon Brown‘s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!'” (sung to the tune of the Lonnie Donegan song “My Old Man’s a Dustman“); but many are standbys of organized labour, including the infamous “workers of the world, unite!“. It also outlines the goals of the protest, as “demands”: “The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 and hour. No to cheap labour apprenticeships! for all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end. No to university fees. support the campaign to defeat fees.” Another steward with a megaphone and a bright red t-shirt talks the assembled protesters through the basics of call-and-response chanting.

Finally the march gets underway, traveling through the London boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. Along the route of the march more police follow along, escorting and guiding the march and watching it carefully, while a police van with flashing lights clears the route in front of it. On the surface the atmosphere is enthusiastic, but everyone freezes for a second as a siren is heard behind them; it turns out to be a passing ambulance.

Crossing Southwark Bridge, the march enters the City of London, the comparably small but dense area containing London’s financial and economic heart. Although one recipient of the protesters’ anger is the Bank of England, the march does not stop in the City, only passing through the streets by the London Exchange. Tourists on buses and businessmen in pinstripe suits record snippets of the march on their mobile phones as it passes them; as it goes past a branch of HSBC the employees gather at the glass store front and watch nervously. The time in the City is brief; rather than continue into the very centre of London the march turns east and, passing the Tower of London, proceeds into the poor, largely immigrant neighbourhoods of the Tower Hamlets.

The sun has come out, and the spirits of the protesters have remained high. But few people, only occasional faces at windows in the blocks of apartments, are here to see the march and it is in Wapping High Street that I hear my first complaint from the marchers. Peter, a steward, complains that the police have taken the march off its original route and onto back streets where “there’s nobody to protest to”. I ask how he feels about the possibility of violence, noting the incidents the day before, and he replies that it was “justified aggression”. “We don’t condone it but people have only got certain limitations.”

There’s nobody to protest to!

A policeman I ask is very polite but noncommittal about the change in route. “The students are getting the message out”, he says, so there’s no problem. “Everyone’s very well behaved” in his assessment and the atmosphere is “very positive”. Another protestor, a sign-carrying university student from Sheffield, half-heartedly returns the compliment: today, she says, “the police have been surprisingly unridiculous.”

The march pauses just before it enters Cable Street. Here, in 1936, was the site of the Battle of Cable Street, and the march leader, addressing the protesters through her megaphone, marks the moment. She draws a parallel between the British Union of Fascists of the 1930s and the much smaller BNP today, and as the protesters follow the East London street their chant becomes “The BNP tell racist lies/We fight back and organise!”

In Victoria Park — “The People’s Park” as it was sometimes known — the march stops for lunch. The trade unions of East London have organized and paid for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and tea, and, picnic-style, the marchers enjoy their meals as organized labor veterans give brief speeches about industrial actions from a small raised platform.

A demonstration is always a means to and end.

During the rally I have the opportunity to speak with Neil Cafferky, a Galway-born Londoner and the London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march. I ask him first about why, despite being surrounded by red banners and quotes from Karl Marx, I haven’t once heard the word “communism” used all day. He explains that, while he considers himself a Marxist and a Trotskyist, the word communism has negative connotations that would “act as a barrier” to getting people involved: the Socialist Party wants to avoid the discussion of its position on the USSR and disassociate itself from Stalinism. What the Socialists favor, he says, is “democratic planned production” with “the working class, the youths brought into the heart of decision making.”

On the subject of the police’s re-routing of the march, he says the new route is actually the synthesis of two proposals. Originally the march was to have gone from Camberwell Green to the Houses of Parliament, then across the sites of the 2012 Olympics and finally to the ExCel Centre. The police, meanwhile, wanted there to be no march at all.

The Metropolitan Police had argued that, with only 650 trained traffic officers on the force and most of those providing security at the ExCel Centre itself, there simply wasn’t the manpower available to close main streets, so a route along back streets was necessary if the march was to go ahead at all. Cafferky is sceptical of the police explanation. “It’s all very well having concern for health and safety,” he responds. “Our concern is using planning to block protest.”

He accuses the police and the government of having used legal, bureaucratic and even violent means to block protests. Talking about marches having to defend themselves, he says “if the police set out with the intention of assaulting marches then violence is unavoidable.” He says the police have been known to insert “provocateurs” into marches, which have to be isolated. He also asserts the right of marches to defend themselves when attacked, although this “must be done in a disciplined manner”.

He says he wasn’t present at yesterday’s demonstrations and so can’t comment on the accusations of violence against police. But, he says, there is often provocative behavior on both sides. Rather than reject violence outright, Cafferky argues that there needs to be “clear political understanding of the role of violence” and calls it “counter-productive”.

Demonstration overall, though, he says, is always a useful tool, although “a demonstration is always a means to an end” rather than an end in itself. He mentions other ongoing industrial actions such as the occupation of the Visteon plant in Enfield; 200 fired workers at the factory have been occupying the plant since April 1, and states the solidarity between the youth marchers and the industrial workers.

I also speak briefly with members of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small group of left-wing activists who have brought some signs to the rally. The Bolsheviks say that, like the Socialists, they’re Trotskyists, but have differences with them on the idea of organization; the International Bolshevik Tendency believes that control of the party representing the working class should be less democratic and instead be in the hands of a team of experts in history and politics. Relations between the two groups are “chilly”, says one.

At 2:30 the march resumes. Rather than proceeding to the ExCel Centre itself, though, it makes its way to a station of London’s Docklands Light Railway; on the way, several of East London’s school-aged youths join the march, and on reaching Canning Town the group is some 300 strong. Proceeding on foot through the borough, the Youth Fight For Jobs reaches the protest site outside the G-20 meeting.

It’s impossible to legally get too close to the conference itself. Police are guarding every approach, and have formed a double cordon between the protest area and the route that motorcades take into and out of the conference venue. Most are un-armed, in the tradition of London police; only a few even carry truncheons. Closer to the building, though, a few machine gun-armed riot police are present, standing out sharply in their black uniforms against the high-visibility yellow vests of the Metropolitan Police. The G-20 conference itself, which started a few hours before the march began, is already winding down, and about a thousand protesters are present.

I see three large groups: the Youth Fight For Jobs avoids going into the center of the protest area, instead staying in their own group at the admonition of the stewards and listening to a series of guest speakers who tell them about current industrial actions and the organization of the Youth Fight’s upcoming rally at UCL. A second group carries the Ogaden National Liberation Front‘s flag and is campaigning for recognition of an autonomous homeland in eastern Ethiopia. Others protesting the Ethiopian government make up the third group; waving old Ethiopian flags, including the Lion of Judah standard of emperor Haile Selassie, they demand that foreign aid to Ethiopia be tied to democratization in that country: “No recovery without democracy”.

A set of abandoned signs tied to bollards indicate that the CND has been here, but has already gone home; they were demanding the abandonment of nuclear weapons. But apart from a handful of individuals with handmade, cardboard signs I see no groups addressing the G-20 meeting itself, other than the Youth Fight For Jobs’ slogans concerning the bailout. But when a motorcade passes, catcalls and jeers are heard.

It’s now 5pm and, after four hours of driving, five hours marching and one hour at the G-20, Cardiff’s Socialists are returning home. I board the bus with them and, navigating slowly through the snarled London traffic, we listen to BBC Radio 4. The news is reporting on the closure of the G-20 conference; while they take time out to mention that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed the traditional group photograph of the G-20’s world leaders because “he was on the loo“, no mention is made of today’s protests. Those listening in the bus are disappointed by the lack of coverage.

Most people on the return trip are tired. Many sleep. Others read the latest issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Party’s newspaper. Mia quietly sings “The Internationale” in Swedish.

Due to the traffic, the journey back to Cardiff will be even longer than the journey to London. Over the objections of a few of its members, the South Welsh participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs stop at a McDonald’s before returning to the M4 and home.

Ottawa plans tax windfall to deal with budget surplus

Posted August 4th, 2019 by e76yKR

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Canada’s federal government has announced a new program that plans to share unexpected budget surpluses with ordinary citizens. It should be introduced in Ottawa as early as Friday.

The Surplus Allocation Act would share any surplus equally between tax cuts, new spending and debt relief. It would not replace Canada’s $3 billion emergency fund. Under existing law any surplus is funneled completely into debt relief.

The benefit would come as an amount added on to the income tax returns of that year. It would then be added on to the amount a person can earn tax-free for each subsequent year.

Along with the new home heating oil rebate program are considered to be pre-election maneuvering from the liberals. Paul Martin has promised an election within 30 days of the Gomery Commission Report’s release. The report is expected in February.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The eight times major golf championships winner Tom Watson announced on Saturday (July 27, 2019) that he would retire from competing at the Senior Opens level. Sunday’s last round at the British Senior Open Championship at the Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Course will be his last Open competition.

In an interview with the Golf Channel the 69-year-old stated: “Well, the ‘Why?’ is pretty simple. I can’t compete against these guys anymore. I don’t hit the ball far enough.” His decision might also be influenced to some degree by the medical condition of his wife Hilary, who has been battling pancreatic cancer since 2017. Watson stated that he would only compete in selected tournaments in the future, cutting back heavily on his schedule.

Watson can look back on a long and prestigious career. He started playing professional golf in 1971, after completing a degree in Psychology at Stanford. He has 70 total professional wins under his belt. His eight major championship wins include five Open Championships, two Masters titles, and one U.S. Open title. He was PGA Player of the Year six times. Only Tiger Woods was Player of the Year more often.

Last Sunday Watson finished tied for 64th at 9-over. He left the field with loud cheers from the crowd. They kept following him despite the bad weather. In the end he took off his hat and waved to the crowd as he walked off the field.

“There will be other people who will take the reins and they will do what I did. Life is full of passages, and I’ve passed through my career here, starting in 1975 to here in 2019. It’s amazing,” Watson told the BBC.

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Category:July 21, 2010

Posted July 27th, 2019 by e76yKR
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