Left-wing EU parliament candidates debate in Cardiff

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cardiff, Wales —Labour, Plaid Cymru, and No2EU candidates for the Wales seats in the European Parliament met at Cardiff‘s Sandringham Hotel last night for the second of two pre-election hustings debates hosted by Cardiff Trades Union Congress. Cardiff TUC president Katrine Williams moderated as Derek Vaughan of the Labour Party, Jill Evans MEP of Plaid Cymru, and Rob Griffiths of the No2EU coalition, the tops of their respective lists, took questions from an audience of 22 composed largely of socialist activists and trade union members.

Candidates from the Tories, Liberal Democrats, and Green Party were not invited to the evening debate, although the Liberal Democrats did take part in the TUC’s debate earlier in the day. Ms Williams explained that the Liberal Democrats and Tories had been excluded because “we wanted to have candidates more representative of trade unions” but that not inviting the Greens had been “an oversight” due to the less prominent tradition of green politics in Wales. The BNP, UKIP and some minor parties also did not take part.

In opening statements, the three candidates discussed their records and their goals for the European Parliament. Mr Vaughan, leader of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, asserted the pro-organised labour credentials of the Labour Party, which has been under fire for several years from the left, and noted that Labour, which currently controls two of Wales’s four seats in the EU Parliament, has brought £1.5 billion to Wales, with a comparable amount to come in the future. Calling the BNP “Nazis” and comparing the British political situation to that in Germany in the 1930s, Vaughan called for the parties of the left to rally behind Labour in order to ensure that the BNP did not obtain any seats in Wales; but he expressed resignation to the likelihood that the BNP would earn a seat in North West England.

Ms Evans, meanwhile, who has been an MEP for ten years, announced her opposition to the pro-privatisation current in the EU and pledged that Plaid would support a new program of public investment and pro-organised labour revisions of EU directives, particularly the Posted Workers Directive.

Mr Griffiths, meanwhile, who is General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, took a position urging radical reform of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty, which he characterised as a re-branding of the European Constitution, would, he argued, enshrine neo-liberal policies in Europe and impose them on its member states in a way that was irreversible — “at least by any constitutional means”. Calling for a “social Europe” as opposed to a “United States of Europe“, Griffiths suggested that the creation of a European Defence Agency and the actions of the European Court of Justice were being used to turn the European Union into a capitalist “empire” akin to the United States.

Discussion of the ongoing UK parliamentary expenses scandal and its implications for MEPs, who draw salaries and expenses considerably higher than Westminster MPs do, dominated the early discussion. The Labour candidate expressed the position that the problems in accountability leading to the scandal had been fixed; his opponents noted that of the parties currently representing Britain in Brussels, only Labour has not yet disclosed their expenses (although Mr Vaughan states that the party will begin to do so soon) and Mr Griffiths furthermore declared that the scandal was part of a wider problem: the corruption of the political system by big business.

On the subject of a common European defence policy the three candidates supported widely differing views. The No2EU candidate stated plainly that he considers Europe not to be threatened, and said that a European defence force would be used for foreign adventures in Afghanistan, Africa, and elsewhere in the developing world while at the same time building up the armaments industry in Europe. Ms Evans, meanwhile, argued that the proper role of a common EU force would be as a “civil force” supporting conflict prevention and conflict resolution operations, and also called for the abolition of NATO. Mr Vaughan finished the second round of questioning arguing that a common European armed force should be an alternative to the “US-dominated” NATO, but also stated the importance of bilateral alliances in building up a common European defence force, citing the Franco-German Brigade of the Eurocorps as an example.

Debate ended on the contentious question of MEP salaries, with one member of the audience challenging the three candidates to pledge to accept a wage, if they won, equal to the average wage of their constituents. Ms Evans agreed that the set wage, currently £63,000 rising to £73,000 in 2010, was “too high”, but would not commit to a so-called “worker’s wage”, under heavy criticism from the audience. Mr Vaughan, following, called it “not fair” to ask MEPs to take such a pledge but asserted “I have never been motivated by money” and finished his part in the debate with a call to elect more left-wing socialist MEPs. Mr Griffiths, whose No2EU coalition has made a worker’s wage for MEPs part of their election manifesto, readily pledged to hold to a living wage, albeit not necessarily one equal to the average wage of his constituents, and described some of the difficulties associated with refusing an EU salary, noting that initially No2EU had proposed that its MEPs should draw no salary and claim no expenses from Europe but the coalition’s legal advisors had said that to do so would endanger the status of any of its members as MEPs.

Voting for the European Parliament elections in the United Kingdom takes place June 4.

Over 60 illegal miners die in South African mine fire

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Over 60 miners were killed in an abandoned gold mine shaft near Welkom, in the Free State province of South Africa, after a fire broke out inside the mine.

36 bodies from the Harmony Gold mining company Eland mine shaft were brought up earlier on the weekend from depths up to 1.4 kilometers (1 mi). On Tuesday, 25 more bodies were recovered by other illegal workers.

“We suspect there was a fire on the 18th of May. We never saw any smoke. Over the weekend [30 May] we were informed by other illegal miners that people had died,” said Tom Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Harmony’s South Region, “The bodies are not burnt. It seems more of a case of gas or smoke inhalation. I don’t know if there are any more bodies down there, we just have to wait.”

The workers may have died from poisonous gasses, smoke inhalation, suffocation, cave-ins or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Harmony gold mine will not send anyone in to the mine as the conditions are extremely dangerous and abandoned shafts are without safety equipment. Illegal workers may gain access bypassing security at one mine site, and exit via a series of interconnected underground tunnels many miles away.

Harmony is internationally the fifth largest gold mining company and has bought up old, abandoned mines.

Police were seeking relatives to help identify the bodies, and are instigating an investigation into the circumstances.

Almost 300 “gold pirates” were arrested over the past two weeks at the Eland mine shaft alone. Thousands of illegal workers can be underground, and remain working for weeks and months continuously. “These are ex-miners and unemployed people – we need to target the syndicates,” said Smith.

There are over 4.18 million unemployed in South Africa due to the economic decline, and another 1 million may soon join the ranks.

Susan Shabangu, the minister of mining, extended her condolences.

Welkom, with a population of over 400,000 is located 160 kilometers (99 mi) northeast of Bloemfontein, the provincial capital.

Nine jailed over sexual abuse in Bradford, England children’s home

Saturday, March 2, 2019

On Wednesday, nine men were jailed due to sexual abuse and rape of two teenage girls at a children’s home in Bradford, England. A tenth defendant was found not-guilty.

The nine men were prosecuted for 22 different crimes. These included rape and inciting child prostitution.

Judge Durham Hall QC said they “appear not to have shown any respect for the minimum standards of decent behaviour.” Prosecutor Kama Melly QC said the victims were “ripe and vulnerable to manipulation” and had been used “to satisfy [the accused’s] sexual desires”.

One of the victims decided to allow her name to be made public. She said she did this to show victims “there is nothing to be ashamed of”. One of the victims said the men thought they were “nothing but a toy to play with”.

Bradford Council stated, “The Safeguarding Board will look closely at this case to see if there are any lessons we can learn that could help us keep young people safer”.

NASA scientist: Chile earthquake may have shifted Earth’s axis, shortened day

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A scientist for NASA has said that the recent magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile, which killed at least seven hundred people, may have moved the Earth’s axis, and caused the day to shorten.

Richard Gross, a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, computed how the globe’s rotation should have been altered by the earthquake; he and fellow scientists determined that the day had been shortened by approximately 1.26 microseconds (a microsecond is one millionth of a second).

Gross commented about his findings to the Bloomberg news agency in an email, saying: “[t]he length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds. The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (equal to approximately eight centimeters or three inches).”

Gross compared the Chile earthquake with the 9.1 magnitude Sumatra earthquake in 2004 which generated a tsunami. According to him, that temblor shortened the day by 6.8 microseconds and moved the axis by about 2.3 milliarcseconds.

The scientist noted that the Chilean earthquake moved the Earth’s axis more than the Sumatran one, despite not being as strong for two reasons. The first, he said, is because it was located in the mid-latitudes of the globe, which made it more effective in altering the axis. The other reason was that the Chilean earthquake fault was steeper than that in Sumatra, which results in more vertical motion and thus more change in the figure axis.

In an interview with Bloomberg Radio, David Kerridge, the head of Earth hazards and systems at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, Scotland, described how the earthquake may have caused such a change in the axis. “It’s what we call the ice-skater effect,” Kerridge explained. He then described how when an ice skater executes a spin, if the skater pulls in his or her arms, the skater’s rate of spin will increase. “It’s the same idea with the Earth going around. If you change the distribution of mass, the rotation rate changes.”

Four Russian stores hit with gas attacks

Monday, December 26, 2005

In Russia’s second largest city, St. Petersburg, four gas attacks left more than 70 people ill. Devices with wires, timers, and glass vials of a gas determined on scene to be methyl mercaptan were found in outlets of Makisdom, a home improvement chain store. The chemical is both naturally occurring and manufactured and is used as an oderant for detection of propane or natural gas leaks.

Store officials have said that they had received threats that sales would be disrupted before New Year’s. Russians traditionally give gifts on the holiday. Police officials said they believed a commercial dispute or a prank not terrorism.

The local emergency hospital was overflowed from the influx of ill people from the attacks. Valentina Matviyenko, Governer of St. Petersburg, said that those who sought medical help were not suffering any further medical problems.

A custodian at one of the stores found the devices and alerted police. The devices were found at another store with their vials broken. The devices in the two other stores were carried outside by employees and covered with buckets. The police explosives experts defused them.

When You Need Root Canals

byAlma Abell

If you don’t care of your teeth now, you are going to find yourself dealing with the consequences. You need to brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day for two minutes at a time while flossing at least once a day and using a high-quality mouthwash. If you don’t follow the rules, you are going to find yourself with a good amount of dental work that needs to get done. In some situations you may just get away with a couple of cavities here and there; in other situations you may have to deal with something as serious as root canals. While a cavity may only give you a bit of dull pain, an abscess and infection is much more pronounced. You can’t focus on anything when it comes to the pain of an abscess, which leads to the need for a root canal. If you find yourself in pain and you need to get dental attention right away, you need to find a professional that you know you can trust.

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Just because you are in pain going into a root canal doesn’t mean that the procedure itself has to hurt. In fact, despite what you have no doubt heard, getting a root canal doesn’t hurt. Is it awkward and uncomfortable? Sure. Any time that someone is doing an hour worth of work on your teeth, it is going to be uncomfortable. In terms of pain, though, all you should feel are the Novocain shots that proceed it. When you get the right person doing a root canal, you shouldn’t feel anything at all during the procedure. Sure, your mouth will be tired being open for so long, but the sharp pain should be gone.

Just like you want Gentle dentistry for your entire family, you also want to go with a gentle dentist to handle your root canal. Whether you are looking for a one-off speciality dentist to do your root canal, or you are looking for a brand new dentist to take care of all of your dental care, you want to do a good amount of research before you do it. When you know you need a root canal, or several root canals, look for specialists who take care of them. One option you are going to want to consider is going to be Carrier Dentistry. You can find more at Carrierdentistrytx.com.

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News briefs:June 8, 2010

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Learning At An Artwork School: Inside Layout

Submitted by: Benbe Hancock

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The Best Interior Structure Courses

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