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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

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.”

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Atari Melbourne Project revealed

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Melbourne, Australia —Australia’s oldest video game development studio is working on a PlayStation®2 port of Eden Games’ Test Drive: Unlimited, the latest in the Test Drive series.

Atari Melbourne House has been at the centre of recent speculation after head of studio Andrew Carter took charge earlier this year, and details about their current project have been limited.

A source inside the studio has confirmed that the title in development is a PS2 port of Eden’s next-generation Xbox 360 game.

Although Melbourne House established a strong reputation for driving games with the acclaimed Test Drive: Le Mans (Sega Dreamcast), recent ventures away from the genre such as Men In Black II: Alien Escape and Transformers: Armada (targeted at the high end of the market) have failed to make an impact.

However, speculation about the studio’s long term future took another turn this week when Atari CEO James Caparro resigned. Although the ambitious natural disaster themed The Big One was cancelled when former CEO Bruno Bonnell took a back seat in November last year, the project – known inside the studio as Bonnell’s “pet” – might be revived now Bonnell has been appointed interim CEO in the wake of Caparro’s resignation.

“Who knows, it might be [The Big One], it might be another port,” the source said.

Two senior game designers have resigned from the studio in the past month.

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6.0 magnitude earthquake rocks eastern Turkey

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck Basyurt, in the Elazig province or eastern Turkey at 04:32 AM (02:32 GMT) on Monday. According to local Kandilli observatory, the quake struck at a depth of five kilometres; the epicenter was near Karakocan town in the same province.

The pre-dawn earthquake killed at least 40 people and almost 100 were injured. The village of Okcular was worst hit, claimed the press secretary for the provincial governor, Ozcan Yalcin. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, nearly five hours later, a magnitude-5.5 aftershock hit the province. 40 other aftershocks followed shortly, the highest of them being 4.4 magnitude, according to sources.

While no deaths were immediately reported, the government’s crisis management center soon put the toll at seventeen with another 60 injured according to the officials at Ankara, the capital. It was soon confirmed that at least 39 were dead; the toll is expected to rise. At least four of the victims were children.

Muammer Erol, the provincial governor of Elazig, stated Okcular, Yukari Kanatli and Kayali accounted for majority of the dead. He told CNN Turk that “villages consisting mainly of mud-brick houses have been damaged, but we have minimal damage such as cracks in buildings made of cement or stone”.

Okcular, the largest of the affected villages, accounted for at least seventeen of the dead. The village has a population of 800, and the majority of the dwellers live in mud-brick homes built on hillsides. About 25 to 30 houses were demolished in this village. “The village is totally flattened,” Hasan Demirdag, local administrator, told NTV.

Yadin Apaydin, the administrator of Yukari Kanatli, said his village had been severely affected. “Everything has been knocked down – there is not a stone in place,” he told CNN’s Turkey sister network, CNN Türk.

“Many houses have collapsed. Search and rescue teams have been sent to the area,” said the prime minister’s office in a statement. Injured people are being rushed to local hospitals according to sources. At least 100 people have been taken to hospital. Some who panicked after the first quake jumped from balconies or windows were injured.

Rescue workers, consisting of policemen as well as civilians dug with shovels to rescue people from the debris. The Turkish Red Crescent is also sending tents and blankets to be distributed. Neighboring districts are providing ambulances to assist the victims. Cemil Cicek, deputy Prime Minister of Turkey has left for the disaster area. Health Minister Recep Akdag, Housing Minister Mustafa Demir and State Minister Cevdet Yilmaz are accompanying him.

According to CNN Türk, the tremor of the earthquake was felt in the adjacent provinces of Bitlis and Diyarbakir, causing residents to panic.

Turkey lies on highly active fault lines and earthquakes often hit the nation. A 7.4-magnitude earthquake in Istanbul killed 20,000 people in August 1999. Most of the earthquakes that hit Turkey are usually minor.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with independent candidate Charles de Kerckhove, St. Paul’s

Monday, October 1, 2007

Charles de Kerckhove is running as an independent in the Ontario provincial election, in the riding of St. Paul’s. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

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Microsoft Taiwan, IGS, GameFlier, and Softstar win the Popular Game Voting of 2008 Taipei Game Show

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

During the fourth day of the 2008 Taipei Game Show, held at the Taipei World Trade Center, visitors voted for their favourite participating companies and games at the “Popular Game Voting” competition.

According to the organizer Taipei Computer Association (TCA), this is the first-ever vote. It has two main categories, quality of the game itself and quality of the presentation at the convention. In the game section there were four categories: leisure game, PC console game, online RPG, and upcoming games. Balancing the vote, booth setup and stage activity were included. If a company won an award in this category, its notoriety is expected to rise and the company could see a great deal of opportunities to market games or its brand to the world.

Aside from the presentation class, winners from the game class were decided by votes from on-site, local gaming magazines, and the official website.

In the end, Microsoft Taiwan won all of the categories of the popular presentation class. In the game voting class, International Games Systems Inc. (IGS) won both popular leisure and upcoming game categories. Soft-World and Softstar Corp. respectively won popular online RPG and PC console game categories.

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Kennedy Center names 2007 honors recipients

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Kennedy Center announced that its 30th presentation of the Kennedy Center Honors would go to pianist Leon Fleisher, comedian Steve Martin, singer Diana Ross, director Martin Scorsese and musician Brian Wilson. The Center was opened to the public in 1971 and was envisioned as part of the National Cultural Center Act, which mandated that the independent, privately-funded institution would present a wide variety of both classical and contemporary performances, commission the creation of new artistic works, and undertake a variety of educational missions to increase awareness of the arts.

In a statement, Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said that “with their extraordinary talent, creativity and perseverance, the five 2007 honorees have transformed the way we, as Americans, see, hear and feel the performing arts.”

Fleisher, 79, a member of the Peabody Institute‘s music faculty, is a pianist who lost use of his right hand in 1965 due to a neurological condition. He became an accomplished musician and conductor through the use of his left hand. At 67, he regained the use of his right hand. With the advent of Botox therapy, he was once more able to undertake two-hand performances in 2004, his first in four decades. “I’m very gratified by the fact that it’s an apolitical honor,” Fleisher said. “It is given by colleagues and professional people who are aware of what [an artist] has done, so it really is apolitical — and that much more of an honor.”

Martin, 62, a comedian who has written books and essays in addition to his acting and stand-up comedy career, rose to fame during his work on the American television program Saturday Night Live in the 1970’s. Schwarzman praised his work as that of a “renaissance comic whose talents wipe out the boundaries between artistic disciplines.” Martin responded to the honor saying, “I am grateful to the Kennedy Center for finally alleviating in me years of covetousness and trophy envy.”

Ross, 63, was a product of Detroit‘s Brewster-Douglass Projects when as a teeager she and friends Mary Wilson and Florence Ballardis formed The Supremes, a ground-breaking Motown act. She portrayed singer Billie Holiday in the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues, which earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award. “Diana Ross’ singular, instantly recognizable voice has spread romance and joy throughout the world,” said Schwarzman. Ross said she was “taken aback. It is a huge, huge honor and I am excited to be in this class of people.”

Scorsese, 64, is one of the most accomplished directors the United States ever produced, whose work includes Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, Cape Fear, The Last Temptation of Christ and The Departed, for which he won a 2006 Academy Award for Best Director after being nominated eight times. Scorsese said, “I’m very honored to be receiving this recognition from the Kennedy Center and proud to be joining the company of the very distinguished individuals who have received this honor in years past.”

Wilson, 65, along with his brothers Dennis and Carl, formed the Beach Boys in 1961. They had a series of hits that included “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” Their 1966 album Pet Sounds is considered one of the most influential recordings in American music. “This is something so unexpected and I feel extremely fortunate to be in the company of such great artists,” said Wilson, who is currently on tour.

The Kennedy Center’s board of trustees is responsible for selecting honorees for “lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.” Previous honorees, including Elton John and Steven Spielberg, also submitted recommendations. A wide variety of people were under consideration, including Emanuel Ax, Evgeny Kissin, Renee Fleming, Laurence Fishburne, Francis Ford Coppola, Melissa Etheridge and Kenny Chesney.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will attend the center’s presentation at its opera house on December 2, 2007, which will broadcast on December 26 on CBS.

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British TV presenter Rico Daniels tells Wikinews about being ‘The Salvager’

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rico Daniels is a British TV presenter living in France who is known for his two television series — The Salvager — whilst he still lived in the UK and then Le Salvager after he moved to France. Rico has been in a variety of jobs but his passion is now his profession – he turns unwanted ‘junk’ into unusual pieces of furniture. Rico’s creations and the methods used to fabricate them are the subject of the Salvager shows.

Rico spoke to Wikinews in January about his inspiration and early life, future plans, other hobbies and more. Read on for the full exclusive interview, published for the first time:

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Adoption Certification In Phoenix, Az: Tips For Adoptive Parents

byadmin

When you are preparing to adopt a child, and waiting for that adoption certification in Phoenix, AZ, to come through, it can be stressful and at times downright emotional. You need to realize that adoption is a long journey, from being fingerprinted to going through the home study. You need to take a deep breath, and just realize that after all of this is over, you will be bringing home the child that you have always dreamed about having. Below you will find some tips on how to move through the adoption process as quickly, and painlessly, as you can.

The first thing you need to do while you wait for that adoption certification in Phoenix, AZ to come through is to wait out the waiting game. It can take a long time for an adoption to be approved, and it will drive you crazy if you sit and think about it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Keep yourself busy, go on with your normal life, and it will happen a lot sooner than you think.

If the child you are looking to adopt isn’t a newborn, then you will want to find out as much about his, or her, life as you can. Talk to your caseworker, the orphanage director, and anyone else who would know about the child’s life. Remember that the more you know, the more you will have in common with an older child, which can sometimes be very tricky to get to know.

As tempting as it might be to go overboard on the nursery, or room, of the child that you are adopting, it is best to keep it simple. You want the room to be calm, not overly stimulating. For an older child, it might be too much, too soon. Besides with an older child, you can always take them with you, and let them choose some of their own things to decorate their room with. It will give them more of an “at home” feeling than just coming into a room that has already been completed. Deciding to adopt a child is one of the most selfless things that a family can do, follow the tips above and you will be fine.

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Murray loses to rank 50 Zverev in Australian Open’s fourth round

Monday, January 23, 2017

Yesterday, German tennis player Mischa Zverev defeated Scottish player and current world number 1 Andy Murray in the Australian Open’s 4th round. 50th ranked Zverev is to face Roger Federer in his first ever Grand Slam quarter-final.

Zverev won the first set 7–5, with seven aces total through the match. Last year’s runner-up Murray made a comeback in the second set serving ten aces in the match. Zverev took on the next two sets, winning it 6–2 and 6–4 to advance to the quarter-finals of the tournament. Murray committed 28 unforced errors in the entire match — two more than Zverev. The match lasted over three and half hours.

Zverev won 65 net points out of 118. Murray won just 29 out of 44. Zverev won two out of three break points, Murray registering none. Murray has played against Zverev on four occasions previously, winning all four.

After the match, Murray said, “I’ve had tough losses in my career in the past. I’ve come back from them. This is a tough one. I’m sure I’ll come back okay from it. But right now I’m obviously very down because I wanted to go further in this event, and it wasn’t to be.” Murray congratulated Zverev and said, “He deserved to win because he played great when he was down, and also in the important moments”.

Federer defeated Japanese player Kei Nishikori 6–7, 6–4, 6–1, 4–6, 6–3. The seven-time Wimbledon Champion has featured in 48 Grand Slam quarter-finals before.

Murray has lost five Australian Open finals, four against Serbian player Novak Djokovic. Current world number 2 Djokovic was eliminated in the second round of the tournament. This is the first time in last fifteen years that neither world number 1 or 2 has competed in the Australian Open’s quarterfinal in the men’s category.

Murray has never won the Australian Open title but the Scot would still be world number one, because of Djokovic’s early exit. 1715 points separates Murray from six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic who completed his Grand Slam last year.

       MEN’S SINGLES FOURTH ROUND
1
2
3
4
 
(1) Andy MURRAYGBR
5
7
2
4
 
(50) Mischa ZVEREVGER
7
5
6
6
 

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Final launch of Space Shuttle Discovery delayed until at least Thursday

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Space Shuttle Discovery’s final launch on the STS-133 mission to the International Space Station has been delayed at least an additional day. Launch is now targeted for 3:29 PM EDT on Thursday.

The launch was originally scheduled for this past Monday, but was delayed two days because of helium and nitrogen leaks on board the shuttle.

Technicians are now working to repair technical glitches discovered yesterday on a main engine control computer.

The weather outlook, however, appears to be unfavorable for the new targeted launch day; there is an 80 percent chance of undesirable weather, according to the NASA space shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters.

The mission management team (MMT) is meeting today to discuss and troubleshoot Discovery’s newfound electrical problems.

STS-133 is scheduled to be an 11-day mission to the International Space Station to ship supplies to the crew, as well as additional components for the orbital outpost’s construction, including the Permanent Multipurpose Module and the third of four ExPRESS Logistics Carriers. The mission is the 133rd of the Space Shuttle Program and the 39th of Discovery.

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