Australian man to be executed in Singapore

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Supporters of convicted Australian drug trafficker, Van Nguyen, gathered outside the State Library in Melbourne yesterday to display thousands of messages of opposition to his death sentence.

Callers to talkback radio in Melbourne were overwhelmingly against the death penalty of Nguyen, who immediately admitted his guilt and has cooperated with authorities since being caught smuggling heroin into Singapore. Many called for a boycott of Singaporean products.

25-year-old Nguyen was arrested at Changi Airport in 2002 for carrying heroin and sentenced to death in March. Nguyen claims he carried the 396 grams of heroin strapped to his body in an attempt to pay off his brother Khoa’s $30,000 legal debts.

The Singapore government have announced they will execute Nguyen at dawn on December 2nd. Singapore President S. R. Nathan rejected Nguyen’s clemency four weeks ago. The Melbourne salesman was sentenced to death under Singapore law which determines a mandatory death sentence for anyone found guilty of possessing 15 grams of heroin or more.

Nguyen’s mother was informed on Thursday by registered mail from the Singapore prisons service of the execution date. The letter stated that she should start making funeral arrangements. She will get to see her son in the three days leading up to the execution.

Despite repeated pleas for clemency from many thousands of supporters; religious groups; human rights organisations; the Pope; and the Australian Government – including Prime Minister, John Howard – Singapore officials have said Nguyen’s execution is irreversible.

Mr Howard had argued that Nguyen should be spared, citing mitigating circumstances in his case which pointed to the fact that he was not a serial drug trafficker but had merely been trying to pay off his brother’s debts.

The Victorian Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, says the Singaporean Government has shown no compassion whatsoever in its treatment of Van Nguyen and his family.

“What’s happening is brutal, is inappropriate. I, and the Victorian Government, vehemently oppose the death penalty in any circumstances”, he told ABC Radio. “This is a young kid who has assisted the police all the way… In any other country, he would get a discount in relation to the penalty. But because there is a mandatory death penalty for drug offences in Singapore, this young man may well be executed. It is just grossly inappropriate.”

“Singapore maintains that capital punishment is a criminal justice issue; it is the sovereign right of every country to decide whether or not to include capital punishment within its criminal justice system,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Singapore argues that there was no international consensus that capital punishment should be abolished. At the most recent meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 66 countries dissociated themselves from a resolution calling for the abolition of capital punishment.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong affirmed Singapore’s position by saying that it has to “stand firm on drugs to protect its citizens from the scourge and to ensure the country does not become a conduit for the trafficking of illicit drugs.”

In reply to a letter appealing for clemency from his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said: “Mr Nguyen imported almost 400gm of pure heroin which would have supplied more than 26,000 doses to drug addicts.”

No one will be permitted to see Nguyen on the morning of his execution. His body will be released to his mother.

Getting even with the law: Wikinews interviews New York City’s ‘Jimmy Justice’

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

“What bothers me is watching an officer write someone a summons and then commit the exact same violation with their official vehicle.

A civilian known as ‘Jimmy Justice’ who resides in New York City (NYC), New York, the largest city in the United States, has been videotaping NYC police officers and city workers, breaking the law while on the job.

Since 2007, he claims to have caught “hundreds of officers and other city employees violating the law,” and says he has them all on camera. He has posted his best confrontations with them to the video sharing website YouTube. As a result, Justice states that he has been asked to do a United States television show and Wikinews got an exclusive interview with him. For protection, Justice wished not to be called by his real name in fear of police retaliation.

Last year, Justice videotaped a police officer parking in front of a fire hydrant, but has only recently gained attention on social networking news sites such as Digg and reddit.com. So Wikinews contacted Mr. Justice, known as JimmyJustice4753 on YouTube, for an exclusive interview to find out what caused him to get revenge on the law.

On June 30, 2007, Justice caught officer E. Anderson of the NYPD, traffic division, parking directly in front of a fire hydrant while she went inside a restaurant to take a 15 minute lunch break.

“Do you think there is something wrong with parking a vehicle, blocking a fire hydrant,?” says Justice while following Anderson to her car after her meal.

“Mrs. Anderson I’m talking to you,” says Justice as Anderson ignores him. “You parked your vehicle blocking a fire hydrant. You are not allowed to do that. Somebody else would get a ticket for that. Why are you allowed to do it? You should be ashamed of yourself Mrs. Anderson.”

By this time, the incident has gained the interest of people nearby the scene and passing it. One unidentified woman, who claims to be a retired NYC police officer decides to intervene stating that people “are not supposed to film any police, [or] anybody employed with the police department because of the terrorism.” A short time later the woman walked off camera.

Since 2007 Justice says he has caught “hundreds of law enforcement officers and city officials” on “over 30 hours of video” violating laws from illegal U-turns in business districts to blocking bus stops and fire hydrants. Justice has only uploaded the “most colorful ones to YouTube” and recently, on April 8, 2008, Justice videotaped a NYPD tow truck officer blocking a hydrant while he also ate lunch inside a restaurant. According to NYC law, it is illegal for any vehicle to park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant and to park in front of a bus stop. It is also illegal for any person to make a U-turn in a business district. Fines for these violations can cost a driver up to US$115.00 for each violation occurred.

When Wikinews asked Justice why he decided to start filming the violations made by officials he answered, “what bothers me is watching an officer write someone a summons and then commit the exact same violation with their official vehicle. I started making these videos to remind the officers (and complacent civilians) that City employees have to abide by the same laws that they are paid to enforce. I plan on doing this and inspiring others to do this as well as a means of leveling the playing field against discourteous officers.”

“In NYC, the traffic cops are notorious for their draconian indiscretion in handing out summonses to civilians for petty violations. Obviously the laws are not enforced as a matter of public safety, but rather to raise revenue,” added Justice.

Justice makes little effort to get the violations on videotape saying “all I have to do to catch them is open my eyes.”

“The problem with abuse of authority is rampant in New York City. I take my video camera with me on the way to work and on the way to social events and band rehearsals and when I see action it takes me less than 4 seconds to have the camera out and in record mode,” states Justice.

His videos have drawn the attention of media and he has been featured on ABC’s ‘I-caught videos’ and Inside Edition. Justice also states that the popularity of his videos have gotten the attention producers in Hollywood, California and as a result, there are plans for a television show.

Since Justice began getting even with officials and their violations, he states that there has been a positive change in the communities.

“The publicity my videos have received has effected positive change in the community, but we still have a long road ahead of us,” added Justice.

As a result of his videos, at the time the NYPD launched an investigation into the violations, but it is not known if any officers were charged or punished. Justice himself has never been arrested, but has been assaulted.

“I have never been arrested for this yet but they have threatened me with arrest. I have been spit on, cursed at, assaulted, and I had 2 cameras broken already,” added Justice.

Large fires kill many in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Friday, June 4, 2010

At least 114 people have been killed by fires in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

According to local fire official Nazrul Islam, the fire started in an apartment complex when an electrical transformer exploded. The fire that started at about 20:45 local time on Thursday then spread to six or seven other buildings in the densely populated Najiranazar neighbourhood of old Dhaka.

The fire was brought under control after three hours of effort on Friday morning, leaving at least 114 dead and a further 40 injured of which 10 to 12 are in critical condition. The current casualties follows the death of 25 in a previous fire on Tuesday.

Witnesses said that fueling the flames were chemicals from illegal home-based factories in the Kayettuli neighborhood. Kayettuli is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Dhaka.

Chile’s President-elect’s battle with delinquency becomes personal

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Late on Thursday, at approximately 21:20 local time, the home of Cristián Larroulet, the nominated Ministry General Secretariat of the Presidency under President-elect Sebastián Piñera of Chile, was burglarized while his wife and son were home alone. Two suspects physically assaulted them, before making off with valuables.

Future Ministry Larroulet lives in the Santiago commune of Las Condes. Two subjects, presumed to be teenage delinquents, were surprised to find Larroulet’s wife, María Isabel Philippi, and son, Matías (aged twenty), on the premises. The two suspects, who used metal beams as weapons, proceeded to tie up their two victims with shoe laces, and assault them. Within ten minutes the suspects, whom the Chilean media describes as “anti-socials”, rampaged the home, leaving with jewelry, electronics including a laptop and an iPod, and other items.

Piñera arrived at the home at 00:10 hours on Friday in solidarity and support of Larroulet and his family. Both the identity and whereabouts of the two suspects is unknown at this time. The Chilean Carabineros (the uniformed national police) of the OS-9 force will continue with a full investigation. Larroulet stated on Friday morning that both his wife and son are in good condition following what he described as a “very raw experience.”

In the 1990’s, Chile’s crime rate was below that of the United States. In the past decade, however, Chileans have experienced an increase in violent burglary crimes, which are currently rated as moderate to high. One of Piñera’s main campaign promises was to combat crime in Chile, having posted billboards throughout the country reading, “Delinquents, your party is over.” Larroulet has criticized the politics directing citizen security under the current government party, the Concertación, stating, “I have no doubt that those governing the Concertación are missing a clearer political determination for combating delinquency,” adding “the importance is in condemning these acts and voice that combating delinquency is a priority for all Chileans.”

Greek debt deal reached

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A meeting in Brussels has produced a plan, supported by all 16 countries in the eurozone, to make available up to 22 billion euros in financing to support Greece, which is laden with debt.

The deal would come into force only if Greece was unable to borrow money from commercial lenders, and would require approval from all 16 eurozone countries. While no figures were included in the agreement, anonymous officials said the total package would be around 22 billion euros, of which European countries would provide two-thirds. The remainder would be supplied by the International Monetary Fund.

Germany and France were the architects of the document, which was subsequently approved by the other members of the eurozone. While it is seen as a partial retreat for countries such as France that previously opposed any IMF participation in the loans, it is nevertheless regarded as a breakthrough in negotiations. Germany had been insistent on relatively strong terms for the plan, a large amount of which was in the final version.

Despite the agreement, there are no plans for it to take immediate effect, as the Greek government has not requested financial aid, and officials said that they hoped the option would never have to be used. The president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, said that “the mechanism decided today will not normally need to be activated.”

Storing IP-addresses of Swedish copyright infringers deemed illegal

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Swedish organization Antipiratbyrån (The Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau) suffered a massive blow today when the Swedish government’s Data Inspection Board stated that the Bureau’s storage of Internet user’s IP addresses is illegal.

Antipiratbyrån is an organization representing the movie and software industry in Sweden, working to protect the intellectual property of its beneficiaries. This spring they started collecting IP-addresses of suspected copyright infringers. They used the collected information to press charges and to contact the suspect’s Internet service providers, demanding repercussions.

The Data Inspection Board’s press release established that the collection of IP-addresses is in fact a violation of the Swedish Personal Data Law, prohibiting electronic storage of information about individuals without their consent.

– If they don’t cease with the activities we might follow up with a penalty order, the supervising director Britt Marie Wester at the Data Inspection Board says to TT.

Both the Swedish organization Piratbyrån – celebrating the verdict as a great victory – and the CEO of Jens of Sweden – a Swedish manufacturer of MP3-players – have stated that they might file a class action suit against the Anti-Piracy Bureau, together with the individuals registered.

UN calls on international community to increase aid for Iraqi refugees

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on the international community to increase aid and assistance to the two countries shouldering the bulk of displaced Iraqis. Syria and Jordan have received the largest number of Iraqi refugees and are having difficulty coping with the numbers.

The appeal was made by UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond at a press conference on Friday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. He criticized governments for earlier expressing concern and pledging support for the refugees but not following through on promises. “Syria and Jordan have still received next to nothing in bilateral help from the world community,” said Redmond.

There are an estimated 2 million Iraqi refugees total in Syria and Jordan with the numbers increasing daily. Each day, Syria receives approximately 2,000 Iraqis and, of those, about 1,000 will stay for an extended time. There are a further 2 million displaced Iraqis who move and settle in safer areas within Iraq.

The large numbers of refugees is putting pressure on the infrastructure of the host countries, resulting in difficult living conditions for the inhabitants. Ron Redmond acknowledges that some US$70 million in donations have been received by the UNHCR, and a further $10 million promised since the Iraq displacement conference in April, 2007. He points out, however, that much more is required. “We stressed then and we say it again, donors must provide direct bilateral support to these host countries whose schools, hospitals, public services and infrastructure are seriously overstretched because of the presence of millions of Iraqis they have so generously welcomed,” said Redmond.

It is unconscionable that generous host countries be left on their own to deal with such a huge crisis. We strongly urge governments to step forward now to support them in dealing with this situation…

Schools are particularly difficult to set up and staff in a refugee situation. Syria has currently hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugee children, but only has resources for 32,000 students. Syria offers free access to public schools for refugees, but doesn’t have the infrastructure to cope. Some 14,000 Iraqi refugee children in Jordan attend school, out of the possible 250,000. The refugee children in Jordan don’t have access to public schools and instead go to private schools. UNHCR is partnering with UNICEF to provide 150,000 classroom spots in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, but the coordination of the required resources, such as buildings, teachers, and school supplies is proving difficult.

Health issues for the refugees is also a concern. UNHCR has set up three primary care medical facilities in Syria, with two more in the works. But approximately 10,000 Iraqis per month require a doctor’s attention, 3,000 of which require serious medical treatment.

Refugee situation in numbers
  • 2,000,000 in Jordan and Syria
  • 2,000,000 internally displaced
  • 750 in the United States
  • 14,000 out of 250,000 children in Jordan attend school

“It is unconscionable that generous host countries be left on their own to deal with such a huge crisis,” said Ron Redmond at the press conference. “We strongly urge governments to step forward now to support them in dealing with this situation and renew our call for international solidarity and burden sharing.”

The president of Refugees International, Ken Bacon, agrees that a more comprehensive approach to the situation is required and believes that it would be good investment for the United States to increase its aid to the region. “The United States ought to be pumping money into Jordan and Syria,” Bacon suggests. He feels that the sheer numbers of refugees can have a destabilizing influence in the Middle East. However, the complicated diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Syria has resulted in slow progress, according to Bacon, as bilateral discussions have not taken place and the UN is forced to mediate.

Both Jordan and Syria have put in place new entry and residency conditions, which has resulted in thousands of refugees being stranded on Iraq’s borders. Families have been separated based on a person’s age and type of passport held. Jordan and Syria have not signed on to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch has been critical of Jordan and Syria on their policy of returning refugees, saying they “are violating on a daily basis the most fundamental principle of refugee protection – nonrefoulement, which prohibits the return of refugees to persecution or serious harm.”

To gain access to Jordan, Iraqi refugees must be over 40 or under 20, and must prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves in the country. They must also be in possession of a new generation passport.

Nasser Hikmat Jaafar drove 900 km from Baghdad with his family to reach Jordan in mid-June, 2007. Half of his family was refused entry to Jordan. “They allowed entry just for my wife and two daughters and denied me and my three sons. They didn’t tell us the reasons, but just said they are fed up with men of such ages [between 20 and 40 years old],” said Jaafar. He changed plans and traveled with all his family to the Syrian border, a distance of approximately 500 km from Iraq’s Jordanian border.

Syria has less restrictions on gaining entry, but has imposed residency conditions. Refugees can only stay up to three months and must then leave Syria and re-enter to be eligible to stay for another period.

The United States government has a program set up for Iraqi asylum seekers in Jordan who meet specific criteria. If they meet the requirements, listed below, they may be eligible for resettlement under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

Interested asylum seekers are encouraged to apply directly with the U.S. Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) in Amman, Jordan, which is operated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Individual Iraqis and their immediate family that meet one of the conditions below may seek access through the direct program:

  • Individuals who worked on a full-time basis as interpreters/translators for the U.S. Government or Multi-National Forces (MNF-I);
  • Locally Employed Staff (LES) engaged by the U.S. Government under the authority of the Chief of Mission or the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA); or
  • Surviving immediate family members of interpreters/translators or LES.

According to the U.S. government information on the process, those individuals initiating a case with the OPE will not be guaranteed an interview for resettlement in the United States. Applicants would be screened for eligibility as per the requirements listed above and are subject to approval.

In a February 14, 2007 press briefing, U.S. Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula J. Dobriansky addressed the Iraq refugee crisis. “Our key immediate objectives are to assist internally displaced Iraqis and Iraqi refugees by building up the capacities of UN agencies and NGOs,” said Dobriansky. “This includes increasing opportunities for permanent resettlement for the most vulnerable Iraqis, to establish specialized programs to assist Iraqis who are at risk because of their employment or close association with the United States Government, to work diplomatically with regional governments through bilateral and multilateral channels to uphold the principle of first asylum,” she continued.

In the February press briefing, the U.S. committed to receive 7,000 Iraqi refugees by fiscal year end, September 30, but clarified that perhaps only half that number would be “travel-ready” subsequent to the interview process as described above. The U.S. could accommodate 20,000 to 30,000 Iraqi refugees per year without difficulty, according to Ken Bacon of Refugees International.

To date, the U.S. has allowed 750 Iraqi refugees into the country.

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Victoria Wyndham on Another World and another life

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Victoria Wyndham was one of the most seasoned and accomplished actresses in daytime soap opera television. She played Rachel Cory, the maven of Another World‘s fictional town, Bay City, from 1972 to 1999 when the show went off the air. Wyndham talks about how she was seen as the anchor of a show, and the political infighting to keep it on the air as NBC wanted to wrest control of the long-running soap from Procter & Gamble. Wyndham fought to keep it on the air, but eventually succumbed to the inevitable. She discusses life on the soap opera, and the seven years she spent wandering “in the woods” of Los Angeles seeking direction, now divorced from a character who had come to define her professional career. Happy, healthy and with a family she is proud of, Wyndham has found life after the death of Another World in painting and animals. Below is David Shankbone’s interview with the soap diva.

Contents

  • 1 Career and motherhood
  • 2 The politics behind the demise of Another World
  • 3 Wyndham’s efforts to save Another World
  • 4 The future of soap operas
  • 5 Wyndham’s career and making it as a creative
  • 6 Television’s lust for youth
  • 7 Her relationship today to the character Rachel Cory
  • 8 Wyndham on a higher power and the creative process
  • 9 After AW: Wyndham lost in California
  • 10 Wyndham discovers painting
  • 11 Wyndham on the state of the world
  • 12 Source

US rapper Mac Miller dies at home in Los Angeles

Sunday, September 9, 2018

On Friday, rapper Mac Miller was found dead in his bedroom at home in San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California, United States, according to reports. He was 26.

According to news website TMZ, a friend called emergency services from Mac Miller’s apartment, in regard to a cardiac arrest. According to the coroner, Mac Miller was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigation was ongoing to identify the cause of the death.

Reports said Mac Miller previously abused drugs, which reportedly affected his two-year relationship with singer Ariana Grande. They broke up in May this year.

Mac Miller was an US rapper, singer and record producer. He was born Malcolm James McCormick in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US in 1992. In 2007, at the age of fifteen, he released his first mixtape under the nickname “EZ Mac”. He later switched to name “Mac Miller”.