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Israel approves first West Bank settlement in over 20 years

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Israel’s security cabinet unanimously approved on Thursday construction of the first official West Bank settlement in over 20 years, continuing a process that many in the international community consider illegal. The new settlement is to be near the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

The decision comes after the demolition of Amona, another West Bank settlement, which president Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to replace. Israel’s high court found the settlement was illegally built on land under private Palestinian ownership.

“I had promised from the start that I would create a new settlement. It seems to me that I made that commitment in December and I will keep it today,” President Netanyahu told reporters on Thursday.

The international community considers Israeli West Bank settlements illegal and, generally, undermining peace between Israel and Palestine. Outgoing US president Barack Obama used his final interview to criticise Israel’s West Bank policy.

“Today’s announcement,” said Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi, “once again proves that Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace.”

Over half a million Israelis live in settlements on the West Bank and in the eastern parts of Jerusalem. Israel cites security needs and religious connection to the land as justifications for construction on the West Bank.

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Wikimania 2008: MediaWiki use in the U.S. Department of State

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The last day of the Wikimania 2008 conference saw Saturday morning sessions on a variety of topics. Wikinews attended a presentation by Eric M. Johnson from the United States Department of State. Eric, a former NCO in the U.S. Marines, is the lead for the Knowledge Management Action team in the department’s Office of eDiplomacy, and involved in department’s use of Web 2.0 technologies for knowledge management. This includes blogs, and the key focus of his talk, Wiki culture in the U.S. Department of State.

Eric opened his presentation with an introduction to the U.S. State Department, one of the oldest agencies of the American government, which today has around 57,000 employees worldwide. When formed in the 18th century their offices and diplomatic staff operated largely autonomously due to lack of ability to communicate rapidly. By the mid-20th century this had changed with the advent of telegraph lines, and changed again with the Cold War and security concerns bringing to the fore the well-known term, “need to know”.

Now, in the 21st century, the volume of internal communication generated by the department is a staggering 1,800,000 cables a year, 1.5 billion emails, production of around 500,000 print volumes, and maintenance of approximately one thousand websites. Both internal and externally facing.

A pilot project was set up, Diplopedia, a MediaWiki wiki running on the department’s internal network, which outside of the department of defence is one of the largest private networks operated by the U.S. government.

A grassroots effort, this project to promote knowledge sharing differs from the well-known Wikipedia in that it does not allow anonymous edits. There are around 1,000 registered users who have contributed over 4,400 pages. Integration with the Department of State’s internal search engine prioritises results from the wiki, increasing the popularity of the site such that it has received over 650,000 page views. Like Wikipedia, users are required to provide sources for entered information at the foot of the article, and users are warned that it is a starting point and not an authoritative source of information. Data on visa requirements and information from other static department sites has been incorporated into the wiki.

Eric described the project as just reaching critical mass and attracting increasing interest from other departments. Among the ingredients leading to the success of the project were the cultural change with increasing awareness of the technology from Wikipedia, the formation by the community of a welcoming committee, and the taking on of roles to carry out tasks such as drafting. A number of staff act as “gardeners” tending to the wiki content, keeping it fresh, and well cross-referenced. The continual updating is a novel concept to many of their employees.

Unlike Wikipedia, and many other projects using MediaWiki, none of the Diplopedia pages are locked or protected. This even includes their main page. To date there have been none of the content disputes that have been an issue on Wikipedia, and the use of the wiki to replace traditional websites which are far more time consuming to maintain is seen as a logical extension of the project.

Carried out with no outside help, and by learning from others’ mistakes, the department has adopted mechanisms for assuming that contributions are well-intentioned, and has a body for oversight in the event of a dispute.

With the success of the project, eDiplomacy plans to introduce a separate, classified wiki. They will also expand the effort to compile biographies of foreign leaders, which was pioneered by the U.S. missions in Italy and Germany. This effort has proven valuable when combined with a version of the site available on portable devices such as the Blackberry.

The future holds moves to seek more support from management and integration with their primary authentication system. Among the features on the main page to keep the project interesting to staff is a “Diploquiz” which poses a weekly trivia question which can be answered from somewhere within the wiki.

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Baby dies after being found abandoned behind shop in Gwent, Wales

Saturday, March 20, 2010

According to an announcement from Gwent Police, a baby boy has died after being found abandoned behind a convenience store in Gwent, Wales. The boy, who has not yet been identified, was found behind a Spar convenience store in the town of Cwmcarn at 1815 GMT on Tuesday. The baby was found to be wrapped in a towel which was in a plastic shopping bag. Bystanders who were walking past the scene mistakenly believed that the bag had been unintentionally left there by a person who had visited the gym that is located next to the store.

A 14-year-old boy, who is the son of the man who owns the convenience store, then examinied the bag and discovered the baby. He made a phone call to the emergency services, however, when the baby was taken to Royal Gwent Hospital, it was pronounced dead on arrival. The baby was younger than one day old at the time of his death. A post-mortem examination proved to be indeterminate. Gwent Police have now launched an investigation to try and determine the identity of the baby’s mother.

Gursewak Singh, the father of the person who discovered the baby and the owner of the shop, explained: “We asked friends and colleagues what the bag was doing there, but it didn’t belong to anyone. A boy who works with us said it was just a towel in there and he didn’t open it. In the evening I went out to it and opened it, only saw a towel on top and didn’t look thoroughly. I just thought it was clothes underneath and didn’t want to root through them. I picked it up and hanged it on the gatepost so someone walking by might see it and recognise it as theirs. At about six o’clock there was a power cut and my 14-year-old son went out and picked up the bag and opened it and saw a little head in there. He called his uncle and said: ‘It’s not clothes, come and look’. They came over and saw the baby in there.” Singh commented that this incident “was shocking. We were all devastated. I wish we had checked earlier. If we had gone through the bag we could have made a difference. I’m worried what sort of condition the person who left the bag is in. We are so concerned about her. Other people saw the bag, but nobody thought about it. There could be a baby still alive. I wish we had checked straight away.”

Gwent Police member Superintendent John Burley stated about this case: “We are extremely concerned about the health and wellbeing of the mother of the baby and are appealing for her to come forward to receive any medical treatment she may require. This is a tragic incident which will sadden the local community and our priority at the moment is finding the mother of the baby. I would appeal to anyone who may have been in the vicinity of the Spar store on Thursday morning or afternoon who may be able to offer any information to assist our inquiry.”

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Arson charge for man who cleaned home with gasoline

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ernest Krajniak from Chilton, Wisconsin in the United States has been charged with arson after a lit cigarette ignited gasoline soaked clothes, setting his apartment ablaze.

On Friday April 3, Krajniak, 47, cleaned his entire apartment with about five gallons of gasoline, wiping everything down with the soaked clothes. After he was finished, he piled the soaked clothes in the center of his bedroom, lit a cigarette and then threw what was left of the still lit cigarette, into the pile.

Krajniak never called the fire department and never pulled the alarm. Instead he yelled ‘fire’ a few times then walked to the police station where an ambulance took him to a local hospital for the treatment of minor burns. The fire department later arrived to put out the blaze and his apartment was extensively smoke damaged. 11 other apartments were also damaged, leaving the occupants without a place to stay for at least a week.

“I should have never used that,” said Krajniak during a court appearance on Monday. He admitted to knowing that gasoline was highly flammable. He was arrested and his bond has been set a US$2,500. Krajniak’s next court appearance is scheduled for Monday, April 13. According to WISinfo.com, Krajniak has no prior criminal record.

The careless smoking of cigarettes has been blamed for thousands of fires across the U.S. In January 2008, an unnamed elderly woman in Buffalo, New York was receiving oxygen for medical problems in her home and lit a cigarette and began to smoke it. The oxygen coming from her mask then facilitated the ignition of her clothing, setting her on fire.

In the U.S. in 2002, only 4% of all residential fires were reportedly caused by smoking materials. These fires, however, were responsible for 19% of residential fire fatalities and 9% of injuries. The fatality rate due to smoking is nearly four times higher than the overall residential fire rate; injuries are more than twice as likely. Forty percent of all smoking fires start in the bedroom or living room/family room; in 35% of these fires, bedding or upholstered furniture are the items first ignited.

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‘Purity’ ring case taken to High Court

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lydia Playfoot, a 16 year old schoolgirl from West Sussex, England, has been faced with expulsion by her school, Millais School of Horsham, for wearing a purity ring that symbolises her dedication to chastity.

Her case, that she should be allowed to wear the ring as it is an “expression of [her] faith and should be exempt from the school’s rules on wearing jewelery”, was taken to the High Court on Friday. Judgement in the case was reserved for a future date.

This case echoes a decision in a case last year. The Law Lords rejected Shabina Begum‘s, former pupil of Denbigh High School, in Luton, Bedfordshire, appeal to wear a Muslim Jilbab to school.

Miss Playfoot spoke to BBC Radio regarding the case. She said “Muslims are allowed to wear headscarves and other faiths can wear bangles and other types of jewellery. It feels like Christians are being discriminated against.” Her lawyers have argued that her right to wear the ring as a symbol of faith is upheld by the Human Rights Act 1998

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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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Latest trial of the One Laptop Per Child running in India; Uruguay orders 100,000 machines

Thursday, November 8, 2007

India is the latest of the countries where the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) experiment has started. Children from the village of Khairat were given the opportunity to learn how to use the XO laptop. During the last year XO was distributed to children from Arahuay in Peru, Ban Samkha in Thailand, Cardal in Uruguay and Galadima in Nigeria. The OLPC team are, in their reports on the startup of the trials, delighted with how the laptop has improved access to information and ability to carry out educational activities. Thailand’s The Nation has praised the project, describing the children as “enthusiastic” and keen to attend school with their laptops.

Recent good news for the project sees Uruguay having ordered 100,000 of the machines which are to be given to children aged six to twelve. Should all go according to plan a further 300,000 machines will be purchased by 2009 to give one to every child in the country. As the first to order, Uruguay chose the OLPC XO laptop over its rival from Intel, the Classmate PC. In parallel with the delivery of the laptops network connectivity will be provided to schools involved in the project.

The remainder of this article is based on Carla G. Munroy’s Khairat Chronicle, which is available from the OLPC Wiki. Additional sources are listed at the end.

Contents

  • 1 India team
  • 2 Khairat
    • 2.1 The town school
  • 3 The workplace
  • 4 Marathi
  • 5 The teacher
  • 6 Older children, teenagers, and villagers
  • 7 The students
  • 8 Teacher session
  • 9 Parents’ meetings
  • 10 Grounding the server
  • 11 Every child at school
  • 12 Sources
  • 13 External links
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G8 leaders set new emissions target

Friday, July 10, 2009

The leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) countries are meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, from July 8 to July 11. On Wednesday, the group announced that it had agreed to a cut in carbon emissions.

The G8 agreed to a target to cut emissions by 80% by 2050, though interim targets were not defined.

“I believe we’ve made some important strides forward as we move towards Copenhagen,” said United States President Barack Obama. “I don’t think I have to emphasise that climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time. The science is clear and conclusive and the impacts can no longer be ignored.”

Obama was referring to the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009, scheduled for December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“I hope tomorrow when we meet other countries we’ll follow that through and this is a very significant development, the first time it’s ever been done,” United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.

“The commitments expressed today at the G8 and Major Economies Forum (MEF) leaders’ meeting, while welcome, are not sufficient,”Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said.

“For us the 80 percent figure is unacceptable and likely unattainable,” said Arkady Dvorkovich, the top economic aide to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. “We won’t sacrifice economic growth for the sake of emission reduction.”

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Petition pressures City of Edinburgh Council to review clause affecting live music scene

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Live music venues in Edinburgh, Scotland are awaiting a review later this year on the 2005 licensing policy, which places limitations on the volume of amplified music in the city. Investigating into how the policy is affecting the Edinburgh music scene, a group of Wikinews writers interviewed venue owners, academics, the City of Edinburgh Council, and local band The Mean Reds to get different perspectives on the issue.

Since the clause was introduced by the government of the city of Edinburgh, licensed venues have been prohibited from allowing music to be amplified to the extent it is audible to nearby residential properties. This has affected the live music scene, with several venues discontinuing regular events such as open mic nights, and hosting bands and artists.

Currently, the licensing policy allows licensing standards officers to order a venue to cease live music on any particular night, based on a single noise complaint from the public. The volume is not electronically measured to determine if it breaches a decibel volume level. Over roughly the past year there have been 56 separate noise complaints made against 18 venues throughout the city.

A petition to amend the clause has garnered over 3,000 signatures, including the support of bar owners, musicians, and members of the general public.

On November 17, 2014, the government’s Culture and Sport Committee hosted an open forum meeting at Usher Hall. Musicians, venue owners and industry professionals were encouraged to provide their thoughts on how the council could improve live music in the city. Ways to promote live music as a key cultural aspect of Edinburgh were discussed and it was suggested that it could be beneficial to try and replicate the management system of live music of other global cities renowned for their live music scenes. However, the suggestion which prevailed above all others was simply to review the existing licensing policy.

Councillor (Cllr) Norma Austin-Hart, Vice Convenor of the Culture and Sport Committee, is responsible for the working group Music is Audible. The group is comprised of local music professionals, and councillors and officials from Edinburgh Council. A document circulated to the Music is Audible group stated the council aims “to achieve a balance between protecting residents and supporting venues”.

Following standard procedure, when a complaint is made, a Licensing Standards Officer (LSO) is dispatched to investigate the venue and evaluate the level of noise. If deemed to be too loud, the LSO asks the venue to lower the noise level. According to a document provided by the City of Edinburgh Council, “not one single business has lost its license or been closed down because of a breach to the noise condition in Edinburgh.”

In the Scotland Licensing Policy (2005), Clause 6.2 states, “where the operating plan indicates that music is to be played in a premises, the board will consider the imposition of a condition requiring amplified music from those premises to be inaudible in residential property.” According to Cllr Austin-Hart, the high volume of tenement housing in the city centre makes it difficult for music to be inaudible.

During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe during the summer, venues are given temporary licences that allow them to operate for the duration of the festival and under the condition that “all amplified music and vocals are controlled to the satisfaction of the Director of Services for Communities”, as stated in a document from the council. During the festival, there is an 11 p.m. noise restriction on amplified music, and noise may be measured by Environmental Health staff using sophisticated equipment. Noise is restricted to 65dB(A) from the facades of residential properties; however, complaints from residents still occur. In the document from the council, they note these conditions and limitations for temporary venues would not necessarily be appropriate for permanent licensed premises.

In a phone interview, Cllr Austin-Hart expressed her concern about the unsettlement in Edinburgh regarding live music. She referenced the closure of the well-known Picture House, a venue that has provided entertainment for over half a century, and the community’s opposition to commercial public bar chain Wetherspoon buying the venue. “[It] is a well-known pub that does not play any form of music”, Cllr Austin-Hart said. “[T]hey feel as if it is another blow to Edinburgh’s live music”. “[We] cannot stop Wetherspoon’s from buying this venue; we have no control over this.”

The venue has operated under different names, including the Caley Palais which hosted bands such as Queen and AC/DC. The Picture House opened in 2008.

One of the venues which has been significantly affected by the licensing laws is the Phoenix Bar, on Broughton Street. The bar’s owner, Sam Roberts, was induced to cease live music gigs in March, following a number of noise complaints against the venue. As a result, Ms Roberts was inspired to start the aforementioned petition to have Clause 6.2 of the licensing policy reviewed, in an effort to remove the ‘inaudibility’ statement that is affecting venues and the music scene.

“I think we not only encourage it, but actively support the Edinburgh music scene,” Ms Roberts says of the Phoenix Bar and other venues, “the problem is that it is a dying scene.”

When Ms Roberts purchased the venue in 2013, she continued the existing 30-year legacy established by the previous owners of hosting live acts. Representative of Edinburgh’s colourful music scene, a diverse range of genres have been hosted at the venue. Ms Roberts described the atmosphere when live music acts perform at her venue as “electric”. “The whole community comes together singing, dancing and having a party. Letting their hair down and forgetting their troubles. People go home happy after a brilliant night out. All the staff usually join in; the pub comes alive”. However licensing restrictions have seen a majority of the acts shut down due to noise complaints. “We have put on jazz, blues, rock, rockabilly, folk, celtic and pop live acts and have had to close everything down.” “Residents in Edinburgh unfortunately know that the Council policy gives them all the rights in the world, and the pubs and clubs none”, Ms Roberts clarified.

Discussing how inaudibility has affected venues and musicians alike, Ms Roberts stated many pubs have lost profit through the absence of gigs, and trying to soundproof their venue. “It has put many musicians out of work and it has had an enormous effect on earnings in the pub. […] Many clubs and bars have been forced to invest in thousands of pounds worth of soundproofing equipment which has nearly bankrupted them, only to find that even the tiniest bit of noise can still force a closure. It is a ridiculously one-sided situation.” Ms Roberts feels inaudibility is an unfair clause for venues. “I think it very clearly favours residents in Edinburgh and not business. […] Nothing is being done to support local business, and closing down all the live music venues in Edinburgh has hurt financially in so many ways. Not only do you lose money, you lose new faces, you lose the respect of the local musicians, and you begin to lose all hope in a ‘fair go’.”

With the petition holding a considerable number of signatures, Ms Roberts states she is still sceptical of any change occurring. “Over three thousand people have signed the petition and still the council is not moving. They have taken action on petitions with far fewer signatures.” Ms Roberts also added, “Right now I don’t think Edinburgh has much hope of positive change”.

Ms Roberts seems to have lost all hope for positive change in relation to Edinburgh’s music scene, and argues Glasgow is now the regional choice for live music and venues. “[E]veryone in the business knows they have to go to Glasgow for a decent scene. Glasgow City Council get behind their city.”

Ms Martina Cannon, member of local band The Mean Reds, said a regular ‘Open Mic Night’ she hosted at The Parlour on Duke Street has ceased after a number of complaints were made against the venue. “It was a shame because it had built up some momentum over the months it had been running”. She described financial loss to the venue from cancelling the event, as well as loss to her as organiser of the event.

Sneaky Pete’s music bar and club, owned by Nick Stewart, is described on its website as “open and busy every night”. “Many clubs could be defined as bars that host music, but we really are a music venue that serves drinks”, Mr Stewart says. He sees the live music scene as essential for maintaining nightlife in Edinburgh not only because of the economic benefit but more importantly because of the cultural significance. “Music is one of the important things in life. […] it’s emotionally and intellectually engaging, and it adds to the quality of life that people lead.”

Sneaky Pete’s has not been immune to the inaudibility clause. The business has spent about 20,000 pounds on multiple soundproofing fixes designed to quell complaints from neighboring residents. “The business suffered a great deal in between losing the option to do gigs for fear of complaints, and finishing the soundproofing. As I mentioned, we are a music business that serves drinks, not a bar that also has music, so when we lose shows, we lose a great deal of trade”, said Mr Stewart.

He believes there is a better way to go about handling complaints and fixing public nuisances. “The local mandatory condition requiring ‘amplified music and vocals’ to be ‘inaudible’ should be struck from all licenses. The requirement presupposes that nuisance is caused by music venues, when this may not reasonably be said to be the case. […] Nuisance is not defined in the Licensing Act nor is it defined in the Public Health Act (Scotland) 2008. However, The Consultation on Guidance to accompany the Statutory Nuisance Provisions of the Public Health etc (Scotland) Act 2008 states that ‘There are eight key issues to consider when evaluating whether a nuisance exists[…]'”.

The eight key factors are impact, locality, time, frequency, duration, convention, importance, and avoidability. Stewart believes it is these factors that should be taken into consideration by LSOs responding to complaints instead of the sole factor of “audibility”. He believes multiple steps should be taken before considering revocation of licenses. Firstly, LSOs should determine whether a venue is a nuisance based on the eight factors. Then, the venue should have the opportunity to comply by using methods such as changing the nature of their live performances (e.g. from hard rock to acoustic rock), changing their hours of operation, or soundproofing. If the venue still fails to comply, then a board can review their license with the goal of finding more ways to bring them into compliance as opposed to revoking their license.

Nick Stewart has discussed his proposal at length with Music is Audible and said he means to present his proposal to the City of Edinburgh Council.

Dr Adam Behr, a music academic and research associate at the University of Edinburgh who has conducted research on the cultural value of live music, says live music significantly contributes to the economic performance of cities. He said studies have shown revenue creation and the provision of employment are significant factors which come about as a result of live music. A 2014 report by UK Music showed the economic value generated by live music in the UK in 2013 was £789 million and provided the equivalent of 21,600 full time jobs.

As the music industry is international by nature, Behr says this complicates the way revenue is allocated, “For instance, if an American artist plays a venue owned by a British company at a gig which is promoted by a company that is part British owned but majority owned by, say, Live Nation (a major international entertainment company) — then the flow of revenues might not be as straightforward as it seems [at] first.”

Despite these complexities, Behr highlighted the broader advantages, “There are, of course, ancillary benefits, especially for big gigs […] Obviously other local businesses like bars, restaurants and carparks benefit from increased trade”, he added.

Behr criticised the idea of making music inaudible and called it “unrealistic”. He said it could limit what kind of music can be played at venues and could force vendors to spend a large amount of money on equipment that enables them to meet noise cancelling requirements. He also mentioned the consequences this has for grassroots music venues as more ‘established’ venues within the city would be the only ones able to afford these changes.

Alongside the inaudibility dispute has been the number of sites that have been closing for the past number of years. According to Dr Behr, this has brought attention to the issue of retaining live music venues in the city and has caused the council to re-evaluate its music strategy and overall cultural policy.

This month, Dr Behr said he is to work on a live music census for Edinburgh’s Council which aims to find out what types of music is played, where, and what exactly it brings to the city. This is in an effort to get the Edinburgh city council to see any opportunities it has with live music and the importance of grassroots venues. The census is similar to one conducted in Victoria, Australia in 2012 on the extent of live music in the state and its economic benefit.

As for the solution to the inaudibility clause, Behr says the initial step is dialogue, and this has already begun. “Having forum discussion, though, is a start — and an improvement”, he said. “There won’t be an overnight solution, but work is ongoing to try to find one that can stick in the long term.”

Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director of Music Venue Trust, said she is unable to comment on her work with the City of Edinburgh Council or on potential changes to the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy. However, she says, “I have been asked to assess the situation and make recommendations in September”.

According to The Scotsman, the Council is working toward helping Edinburgh’s cultural and entertainment scene. Deputy Council Leader Sandy Howat said views of the entertainment industry needs to change and the Council will no longer consider the scene as a “sideline”.

Senior members of the Council, The Scotsman reported, aim to review the planning of the city to make culture more of a priority. Howat said, “If you’re trying to harness a living community and are creating facilities for people living, working and playing then culture should form part of that.”

The review of the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy is set to be reviewed near the end of 2016 but the concept of bringing it forward to this year is still under discussion.

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Prom Transportation That Meets Budget And Fun Needs: Party Bus Rentals In Denver}

Submitted by: Lucille W. Hill

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