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Body of missing teenager Amber Dubois found

Monday, March 8, 2010

The skeletal remains of 14-year-old Escondido, California teenager Amber Dubois were found north of the Pala Indian Reservation Saturday morning, police said. Dubois disappeared February 13, 2009 while walking to Escondido High School. The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office made a positive identification through dental records.

According to Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher, police were following a lead when they came across the remains. Maher declined to say what the lead was or to describe in detail the site where the remains were found. He also refused to reveal whether John Albert Gardner III, suspect in the murder of Chelsea King, is being linked to the Dubois case.

Amber’s father, Maurice Dubois, made a statement thanking those who had helped in the search for Amber. “The entire community, everybody who helped out with the search effort, and above all our huge volunteer corps, they are the most dedicated people and without them we couldn’t have done anything,” he said.

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Reports say body of missing US soldier found in Iraq

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reports say that the body of a United States soldier has been found in the Euphrates River in Iraq and that it is the body of one of three U.S. soldiers who were believed to be taken captive by Iraqi insurgents on May 12.

The U.S. military has not confirmed that the body is that of a U.S. soldier, but it does confirm that the body is in the custody of the U.S. military.

“We are in possession of the body. We have not identified the body. We will give the truth to the families first,” said U.S. military in Iraq public affairs officer, Maj. Webster Wright who also added that internet connections in the area have been cut off to stop the spreading of rumors about the body.

Iraqi civilians found the body and immediately called Iraqi Police who then called the U.S. military. The body is reported to have two bullet holes in the head, one in the chest, and is dressed in a U.S. military uniform. Reports also say that the body had a tattoo on the left hand or arm of the unidentified remains.

A patrol boat police officer, who claims to have seen the body, told Reuters that the head showed signs of torture. Also, he deemed that deceased was killed about a week ago.

On Monday May 12, a patrol of U.S. soldiers were attacked and at least 4 were killed along with one Iraqi soldier. Three others were believed to have been kidnapped. The body was found in the town of Musayyib by Iraqi Police about 40 miles south of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

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The Missing Link To Healthy Eating

Submitted by: Chris Gray

http://About.com reports this week on a recent survey proving that 90% of us think our diets are healthy when, in reality, they aren’t.

According to the survey, a healthy diet means avoiding sugary drinks and fatty foods while eating the recommended servings of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. While many respondents claimed to have healthy diets, most ate more fat and drank more sugary drinks than they should, while not getting enough fruits and vegetables.

So, what’s the reason for this gap between what we think we’re doing and what we’re actually doing? Local fitness expert Chris Gray checks in on this topic revealing that this problem is extremely common, and is the reason for many people s unfortunate failures in accomplishing fitness and health goals.

Every year in the month of January alone countless Americans set their eyes on a new fitness goal only to fall back into their old habits before February 1st. In fact less than 20 percent of those who resolved to be fit will still be committed in 30 days, why is this?

Gray explains that over 90% of the time the reason is improper nutrition.

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Over a period of 13 years the local fitness expert says he has seen countless people all but kill themselves in the gym only to result in very little noticeable changes because they thought they were eating healthy when they really weren’t.

The missing link to results producing healthy eating is education!

Today everything you hear, read, or see on TV says something different about what s healthy to eat and what s not. Unfortunately for those who have no formal education in nutrition and who don t have a professional coach to guide them, they are left to fend for themselves in a vast sea of misinformation. Gray says another common problem is many people really do think they eat healthy when in reality they are not even close.

Gray explains that 90% of your fitness results will come from the food you put in your mouth everyday, therefore it s safe to say that it s critical to learn your way around a kitchen when setting your sites on a fitness goal. Failure to do so will prove to be a regrettable mistake in the end. Investing in a proven nutrition program backed by experience and results is the best way to avoid this common pitfall and finally get the results you ve been looking for.

Here are the top 5 guidelines to lasting health:

1. Support – To keep you motivated, it’s essential to find a support group, others in your situation who know what you’re going through and can help you at every step

2. Tools – Believe me it’s so much easier to exercise and eat healthier when you have a step-by-step plan to follow. If you stick with it a few weeks, soon your new healthy lifestyle becomes a habit

3. Knowledge – Knowledge is key. You need to understand YOUR body first and foremost. Then you know what YOU should eat, how YOU should exercise and so on…

4. Expert Advice – When it’s your health at stake, it’s always best you seek knowledge through an expert. Someone with real life experience and know how.

5.Reward – When you achieve a goal, reward yourself. If you want a new coat, say – “Okay, I’ll get it after I’ve dropped X pounds” or whatever your goal is.

Chris Gray

About the Author: Punch Kettlebell Gym is a premier personal training center that progresses by going back and taking cues from the strong men of generations past. We use kettlebells, rocks, sandbags, ropes, and logs to get the job done. Personalization is our highest priority.

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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.

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Study finds marijuana use leads to brain development in rats

Saturday, October 15, 2005

In the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation,researchers announce that they have found that cannabinoids promoted a generation of new neurons in rats’ hippocampi. The study held true for both a plant-derived and a synthetic cannabinoid. The hippocampus is a part of the brain that contributes to learning and memory. In particular, it has been shown that the hippocampus is essential for the formation of new episodic memories.

“This is quite a surprise, chronic use of marijuana may actually improve learning memory when the new neurons in the hippocampus can mature in two or three months,” said Xia Zhang, with the Neuropsychiatry Research Unit of the University of Saskatchewan.

“Our results were obtained from rats, and there’s a big difference between rats and humans,” added Zhang, “So, I really don’t know yet if our findings apply to humans. But our results indicate that the clinical use of marijuana could make people feel better by helping control anxiety and depression.”

Zhang and his co-workers performed behavioral tests on two purified cannabinoids. The test results indicated that these two cannabinoids have anti-anxiety and antidepression-like effects in rats that may depend on the ability of cannabinoids to promote the production of new neurons in the hippocampus. Marijuana contains a complex mixture of chemicals including cannabinoids and may have somewhat different behavioral effects than the purified cannabinoids tested so far.

Previous studies examining the effects of cannabis have highlighted negative aspects of the drug’s use, such as short term memory difficulties, increased heart rate, nausea, and (in a very small percentage of people) hallucinations. Long term studies about cannabis use tend to be controversial as the data is seen to be biased or flawed. The most agreed upon effect of long term cannabis use is lung damage. However, proponents argue that the correlation between cannabis consumption and lung cancer is misleading suggesting that cannabis use may correlate with tobacco use or that the data is not being properly analyzed.

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PM John Howard’s nuclear push causes alarm

Monday, May 22, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian nuclear debate

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has announced he wants a “full-scale nuclear debate”, and three of his senior federal government frontbenchers – Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane, and Environment Minister Ian Campbell – have all suggested Australia, which has around 40 per cent of the world’s known uranium reserves, should consider enriching uranium – a step in processing that would allow it to be used as reactor fuel as well as for nuclear weapons.

However there is strong opposition for nuclear power in the Australian community. The Australian Greens have rejected the Prime Minister’s assumption that nuclear power might be ‘desirable’ for Australia. The Greens say they challenge Mr Howard to show “true leadership on climate change and nuclear non-proliferation.

Greens climate change and energy spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said Mr Howard was “playing politics” by floating the idea and testing public opinion before developing a government position.

“Instead of pandering to US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair – the two most unpopular leaders in the world today – Prime Minister Howard should demonstrate real leadership and put some authenticity into the government’s response to climate change and terrorism,” Senator Milne said. “Nuclear power and nuclear proliferation are a threat to both.”

Senator Milne challenged advocates of nuclear power to explain what they will to do about nuclear waste, how large a public subsidy they are prepared to pay to prop up nuclear power, and why the Sustainable Development Commission was wrong when it recommended last month against expanding nuclear power in Britain.

“Australians have already had to subsidise uranium mining companies to clean up after mines have closed, while last week’s Budget papers revealed that ANSTO can’t estimate the cost of decommissioning the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor,” Senator Milne said. “When will advocates of nuclear power admit that it is too slow, too expensive and too dangerous to be a solution to climate change? Nor is there any safe way to dispose of the waste. It is not even safe to transport, a concern supported by the head of the International Energy Agency…” said Senator Milne in a media release.

“Instead of turning to nuclear power, Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, invest in renewable energy, adopt a national energy efficiency target and improve public transport.

“Several studies examining options to achieve deep cuts in Australian greenhouse emissions all show this goal can be achieved, cost effectively, without resorting to nuclear power,” said Senator Milne in a media release.

Greens leader Bob Brown says the Prime Minister is sending a message of approval for Indonesia to become a nuclear power. “Australia and our region are essentially nuclear-free. Mr Howard is abandoning that security to grab uranium profits and facilitate an Australian role in nuclear enrichment,” Senator Brown said. “This robs Australia of its moral strength to argue against Indonesia resurrecting the Soeharto plan for 12 nuclear reactors and to advance its interest in Russian-built floating nuclear power stations.”

“This will make our region much less secure for the next generation of Australians,” Senator Brown said. “John Howard has talked up regional terrorism. Now he is promoting nuclear power proliferation in our neighbourhood. At best his logic is faulty, at worst he is taking Australia into a future unnecessarily menaced by the nuclear threat,” Senator Brown said.

Labor MP Kelvin Thomson says John Howard’s push towards nuclear power generation could heighten the risk of a terrorist attack. “The problem with nuclear power is that more of it that is around, the easier it is for terrorists to get access to it and I’m not satisfied that in this day and age we can be absolutely certain that terrorists can’t access it,” Mr Thomson said.

Mr Thompson said the Government should be focussing its interest on “much safer and environmentally-friendly” abundant renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power. Mr Thomson said Australia was a potential world-leader in solar power. “Surely you exhaust all the other alternatives first before you say let’s go down the nuclear road,” he said.

“The problem with nuclear power is that more of it that is around, the easier it is for terrorists to get access to it,” he said. “I’m not satisfied that in this day and age you can be absolutely certain that terrorists can’t access it.”

Union leader Bill Shorten, a federal Labor candidate at the next election, believes the issue is unpopular with the electorate. A survey in 2005 found 47 percent of Australians supported nuclear power and 40 percent opposed it.

Professor Frank Muller from the University of New South Wales, said the framework to manage nuclear power needs to be put in place first. He says it could take decades before a nuclear power plant could operate. “So it actually takes even longer to provide a greenhouse benefit than it does to build a power plant,” he said. Professor Muller says nuclear power stations are expensive to build, and safety is a major issue.

Opposition environment spokesman Anthony Albanese said: “John Howard’s nuclear fantasy is Australia’s nightmare,” Mr Albanese told reporters. “Intractable problems with nuclear energy when it comes to economic costs, safety, disposal of waste and contribution to nuclear proliferation remain up to some 50 years.”

Mr Albanese said that if Mr Howard was serious about nuclear power he should say where a nuclear power plant would be built, and where the waste it produced would be stored. “If he’s so confident that nuclear energy is safe… I’m sure he’ll have coalition MPs volunteering to have a nuclear reactor in their electorate and to store their waste in the electorate,” he said.

Mr Albanese said the current Labor policy remained opposed to nuclear energy in Australia.

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Eastern Conference wins 2008 NBA All-Star Game

Monday, February 18, 2008

Eastern Conference 134 128 Western Conference

The Eastern Conference defeated their Western Conference counterparts at the 2008 National Basketball Association All-Star Game held at New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday. The final score was 134-128.

The East took an early 11 point lead in the first 5 minutes, due to an injured Kobe Bryant only playing 2 minutes before sitting on the bench for the rest of the game. “There’s one player we really, really missed, and that was Kobe,” said West coach Byron Scott. The West later reduced the lead to 2 points, but at halftime, the East led 74-65.

The West trailed by 13 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but rallied behind New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, who had seven assists in the final period. With 2:48 remaining, Brandon Roy scored a layup on an assist from Paul, giving the West a 122-119 lead, their biggest lead of the game.

The East then answered back with two three-pointers from Ray Allen, before Chris Paul tied the game with a three-pointer of his own. However, the East would then take the lead and the game with layups from Dwyane Wade and Allen, as well as a driving dunk from LeBron James. A Brandon Roy three-pointer put the game within three points with 8.7 seconds left, but 3 free throws from Ray Allen sealed the win for the East.

“The fourth quarter was crazy,” said Chris Paul. “We were down 13. We picked up the intensity. We took the lead a few times but Ray Allen was unbelievable the way he shot the ball. And that last dunk by LeBron, we had two people on him but that still wasn’t enough.”

With 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists, James was named the All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career. Some television commentators also considered Ray Allen a likely choice for the award, with 14 of his 28 points coming in the final 3 minutes of the game. “I think Ray Allen had a heck of a shooting night,” James said after being presented the award.

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10 Things Every Senior Gardener Should Know

10 Things Every Senior Gardener Should Know

by

Jimmy

As you age stress from loneliness or life changes can impair your immune system and make you susceptible to disease. Using medications may be helpful short term but sometimes it becomes apparent that a person under severe stress requires help at an emotional level. Gardening has therapeutic benefits for older people, more so when they make a vegetable garden with specially adapted garden tools where after they can benefit from the nutrition. There is no doubt that when an older person is deeply relaxed, certain positive physiological changes occur.

For seniors, the gentle exercise and enjoyment gardening offers, brings about a reduced heart rate, better digestion, lower blood pressure and a calmer breathing rate. Gardening contributes to improving the oxygen uptake of all cells in the body, and for the person in a wheelchair, the person with disabilities as well as for the senior who feels inadequate, gardening improves self esteem as well as feelings of well-being . However there are 10 things every senior- and disabled gardener should know about the use of

gardening equipment

and simple tips and advice on being safe, comfortable and pain free in the garden.

What Every Senior Gardener Should Know

Wearing sunscreen and a hat and working in the garden early in the morning or in the late afternoon is advised. For seniors who can\’t get out sideto garden, basins of varying sizes can be used to cultivate plants and make gardening easier.

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Seniors should have cuts and insect bites attended to immediately and only walk on non-slip walkways.

Special, light weigh gardening equipment can prevent wrist pain. Specialized spades and forks for instance are designed to position the wrist at an angle so that stress is reduced.

Wearing protective gardening gloves as well as protective shoes is important.

Seniors should steer away from power tools and use lightweight gardening tools with ergonomic designs that require less effort and which are easy on the hands. Sharp tools also require less effort. Some garden tools are specially designed for the elderly and come with attachable extension poles.

Today, hanging baskets are available with pulley systems to raise and lower them for people in wheelchairs and for the elderly who have trouble standing.

Benches placed in shady areas where older folk can sit down, have a glass of water make it easy to get their breath back in between weeding, pruning and digging activities.

Gift ideas for women to make gardening easier might include a useful garden apron with handy storage pockets or a pouch to carry small garden tools with ease.

Copper plant markers also make great gifts for seniors, particularly for those with Alzheimers. Use a permanent marker to write the name of the plant on it to remind seniors of the names of the plants they love tending to.

Raised garden beds are an excellent idea for disabled and elderly gardeners who find bending difficult. These garden beds are made from things like car tires, sleepers or bricks.

Happily Ever After

Gardening is one of life\’s simple pleasures in a hectic world, and seniors as well as those with disabilities needn\’t let pain and stress deprive them of the pleasure of nurturing flowers and vegetables. For a wonderful sense of well-being, seniors living with high blood pressure and arthritis can enjoy the pleasure of pain-free gardening by making some simple modifications.

Getting older and even being in a wheelchair certainly doesn\’t mean putting such a pleasurable pastime on hold. By making a few adjustments seniors can once again perform tasks in the garden and start benefiting from this healthy activity.

Garden Tools For Women : We are providing online gardening equipment,

tools for gardening

, gardening tools and many more in Charlotte, North Carolina USA.

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GM and Chrysler receive Canadian loans amid US restructuring ultimata

Friday, April 3, 2009

General Motors (GM) and Chrysler will receive bridge loans from the government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario, however no more will be forthcoming from either Canadian or US governments unless the companies can reinvent themselves.

“This is a regrettable but necessary step to protect the Canadian economy. We are doing this on the assumption that we obviously cannot afford either in the United States or Canada a catastrophic short-term collapse.” said Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.

“We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. This industry is, like no other, an emblem of the American spirit; a once and future symbol of America’s success,” said Barack Obama, President of the United States. “These companies – and this industry – must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state.”File:Sinsheim quer.jpg

Chrysler will receive CA$1 billion and may in fact be eligible for as much as CA$4 billion. If Chrysler succeeds in the next 30 days with a restructuring plan it would be eligible for a US$6 billion loan. A part of Chrysler’s restructuring plan must include a partnership with Fiat within 30 days to appease the US administration. Fiat is a supplier of smaller fuel-efficient vehicles, and the merger will help Chrysler to be viable in the North American market. A Chrysler court bankruptcy would inevitably lead to it being sold off.

As a part of Chrysler’s restructuring plans, Tom LaSorda, the president of Chrysler announced that Canadian operations would fold if it does not receive both the US commitment of $2.3 billion of aid and a new Canadian Auto Workers CAW contract to reduce all-in costs by CA$19 per hour. As a result of this announcement Chrysler’s auto sales volume in Canada dropped 23% compared to March of 2008.

GM has until the end of May to restructure its company to receive up to CA$7.5 billion. As part of the companies restructuring, General Motor’s chief executive Rick Wagoner was replaced Sunday with Fritz Henderson, the current chief operating officer. Henderson spoke out on Tuesday that GM has submitted a restructuring plan which would close five plants, and this may be increased to meet the requirements for financial aid. He is in full compliance with Obama’s auto task force to seek bankruptcy if GM cannot negotiate with their unions, bondholders and others.

GM recently brought forward the “GM Total Confidence” program providing consumer purchase protection for customers who lose their job for economic reasons within the first two years from purchase. As a result of Chrysler’s restructuring announcement in Canada, GM’s Canadian vehicle sales volume fell only 17.3% compared to 2008, an increase from the previous month.

GM must reduce some of its legacy costs which include its pensions and union health care costs. A part of GM’s ailments arose from investing in supplying truck and SUVs during an economy of high gas prices when consumers were demanding fuel efficient vehicles.

Tony Clement, Canada’s Minister of Industry, is hoping that the CAW will support the restructuring process and re-negotiate their agreement. Whereas a United Auto Workers negotiator has said, “I don’t see how the UAW will do anything until they see what the bondholders will give up.”

The Obama administration is looking toward bankruptcy proceedings for the automakers, “as a mechanism to help them restructure quickly and emerge stronger. [It will] quickly clear away old debts that are weighing them down. What we are asking is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. It will require creditors to recognise that they cannot hold out for the prospect of endless government bailouts.” said Obama.

The auto parts suppliers and IT software exporters in India have already been affected by the declining auto sales. GM and Chrysler software contracts provide US$300 to 350 million a year to vendors in India. As well these two major automakers usually award US$1 billion contracts to auto parts suppliers. “We are worried and closely watching the developments in the US to gauge the impact. The decline in auto sales in the US has already hit the order books of Indian suppliers,” said a Delhi auto parts supplier.

“Going forward, the industry will undoubtedly be smaller, but if our efforts are successful it will be viable and it will support good jobs for Canadians,” said Clements.

Betty Sutton, Ohio’s Congresswoman put forward the CARS act which provides a US$3,000 to 5,000 incentive for those who trade in their vehicle for a fuel-efficient car. “It clearly stimulates the economy, and it gets the consumer into the showroom and gets them buying again. But importantly — and this is what I particularly like about it — it really helps the environment quite a bit in two respects.” said William Clay Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company has not come forward with requests for assistance.

Since December GM and Chrysler have received US$17.4 billion government loans.

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Spreading floods in Pakistan worsen, at least 1600 dead

Friday, August 6, 2010

Since last reported, the flooding in Pakistan has spread and has now struck more than four million people. The UN reports it has left at least 1,600 people dead. The floods have been confirmed as the worst in eighty years.

Heavy monsoon rains led to the flooding of the huge Indus River, destroying homes in the north of the country and causing a large amount of damage in the north-west frontier province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Manuel Bessler of the United Nations said: “What we are facing now is a major catastrophe. We are afraid it will get worse.”

Army and government forces have rushed to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from parts of the Punjab province of Pakistan, where the disaster spread to yesterday, and from Sindh province, where the flood is expected to reach by the weekend.

The flooding is now in its second week and the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon, especially since in many parts of the country there is still torrential rain, with more forecast. In other parts of Pakistan the water has receded, but this leaves a layer of mud and slime and this covers very large areas. For those affected by the floods, disease is the biggest problem now. The insanitary conditions have already caused diarrhoea and respiratory infections. Cholera and other water-borne diseases may appear if sanitary conditions for those displaced by the calamity are not established. Medical supplies are desperately needed for doctors to keep a pandemic or epidemic of a water-borne disease from infecting the victims of the flooding.

Relief has been hardest to provide in the north-west where many bridges and roads have been washed away. Whole towns have been cut off and this makes providing aid to those areas a very difficult task.

Air force pilots have been volunteering to fly aid missions to badly hit areas, transporting medical supplies, clean water and food to where it is needed. The transport planes carry enough foodstuffs to feed one hundred families for a month. Motivation for the missions among pilots is very high, as is the tension in the transport planes as they fly at 36,000 feet over the flood-hit country. Only from the air is the full extent of the damage visible. Pilots have been flying the maximum number of hours allowed and pushing the limits of their endurance to give the victims of the flood food, water and everything they need to survive.

Many foreign governments and aid agencies are contributing to the disaster relief effort. The U.S. Army has been flying relief missions, airlifting people from areas where they are stranded. The first mission involved four U.S. Chinook helicopters landing in the tourist town of Kalam in the Swat Valley, north-west Pakistan. The resort had been cut off for more than a week, according to a reporter there. The Chinooks flew hundreds of people to safer areas lower down. A U.S. Embassy spokesperson said that 800 people had been evacuated and relief goods had been distributed.

The U.S. government pledged 10 million dollars in assistance following the first reports of the disaster. Yesterday the country promised a further 25 million dollars in aid. A spokesperson from the Embassy said: “The U.S. is making a new contribution of 25 million dollars in assistance to flood-affected populations, bringing its total commitment to date to more than 35 million dollars.” The money will go to international aid organisations and established Pakistani aid groups to provide food, health care and shelter to people displaced by the floods.

Malaysia has also decided to contribute US$1 million for relief efforts in the form of humanitarian aid. The Foreign Ministry said the aid was a manifestation of the government and the people’s concern and sympathy. “The government of Malaysia hopes the contribution will help alleviate the suffering of flood victims in Pakistan.”

In Britain, the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organisation representing 13 of the leading UK humanitarian agencies, has been coordinating relief efforts and has launched an emergency appeal for public donations to help the victims of the crisis. Charities and aid agencies have been quick to respond to the disaster, sending aid and response teams to the worst hit areas. Food, water, shelter and medical supplies have been provided but much more is needed.

Patrick Fuller of the Red Cross (the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies), who has been based in the country for a few days, described the situation on the ground as “desperate” and said the worst hit areas are “totally dependent” on outside help. He said the Red Cross movement is working with local partners to get aid packages, containing cooking tools and shelter such as tents and blankets, to 35,000 families.

The Red Cross alone has distributed 10,000 food packs and 1000 tents across the affected areas so far. However, figures for the amount of aid distributed are constantly changing as this is an ongoing relief effort.

Fuller reported that in Nowshera, which is in the north-west of the country close to the Indus River, “80% of homes have been badly damaged or destroyed, all the mud-brick houses have been washed away.

“In the most remote areas – where roads are cut off – donkeys are making eight-hour hikes to reach people.

“We are trying to move people into temporary camps – giving them timber, roofing sheets and basic shelter – but there is the added complication that many are reluctant to leave whatever homes they have left.”This has also been a problem in the south of the country in Sindh province, where the flood is expected to reach by the weekend. Evacuations have been going on to move people out of the path of the flood but many will not join the mass exodus and have chosen to brave the waters.

“Many people rely on open wells, which have been contaminated, so access to clean water is a problem. We are worried about communicable diseases, like respiratory infections, skin diseases, diarrhoea,” Mr Fuller said.

The charity have been setting up mobile medical teams to better combat disease and infection.

Though the relief effort at the moment is focused on the survival of those hit by the catastrophe, on those who “had their lives swept away in seconds”, the relief effort is expected to last a full six months.

Those who will be most affected in the long term by this disaster will be the poorest. They will have had everything washed away from them so they will have to start from scratch. Sadly, for those living in the poorest areas in the north and centre of Pakistan, the fight for survival is only just beginning and though they may feel they are enduring much at the moment, getting their lives back together after the first stages of this calamity are over is going to be even harder.

The Disasters Emergency Committee has said it has managed to give aid to 300,000 people so far. Many UK charities have been distributing food and medicine, as well as water purification tablets, cooking tools, shelter and hygiene kits. They have been using rafts, boats and donkeys. Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the DEC, said: “These devastating floods have left millions fighting to survive with little food, clean water or shelter.”

The DEC has appealed for donations from the public of the UK to help the victims of this crisis. The appeal is to allow the charities to continue relief work in the worst hit areas of the country.

Following a television appeal by the DEC, £2.5 million was raised and this has enabled the 13 charities the committee represents to reach 300,000 people with emergency supplies.

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