Explosives pass security checks in Slovakia, arrive in Ireland in failed test

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Explosives pass security checks in Slovakia, arrive in Ireland in failed test

By | October 19, 2018

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A failed test of security at Slovakia’s Poprad airport resulted in a 49 year-old man unknowingly carrying plastic explosives from Slovakia to Dublin, Ireland. The explosives were concealed so well that the man did not find them when he unpacked his bag at his apartment.

On Saturday, Slovak authorities planted contraband in passengers’ luggage at Poprad’s Poprad-Tatry Airport without the knowledge of passengers. Seven of the eight items were recovered, while an eighth made its way to an apartment in Dublin. Slovak authorities realised on Tuesday that one package of explosives were missing and notified Irish authorities who searched the man’s apartment.

During the search, parts of Dublin’s inner-suburbs were sealed off and evacuated causing disruption to residents and businesses. At the apartment authorities found the package and arrested the man under anti-terrorism laws; he was later released without charge after it was established he was innocent.

The man, a Slovakian electrician had been living in Ireland for some time. He was holidaying in Slovakia over Christmas.

Ireland’s Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform issued a statement saying, “Following contact earlier today from the Slovakian authorities with the Airport Police at Dublin Airport, members of the Garda Síochána have recovered a small quantity of explosive material from the luggage of a passenger who had flown into Dublin from that country on Saturday last.”

The package contained 90 grams (3 ounces) of the plastic explosive RDX, also known as cyclonite or hexogen. According to Commandant Gavin Young, a spokesperson for the Irish Defense Forces, “On their own, this type of explosive does need to be combined with other elements to make it into a bomb, but obviously this type of high-grade explosive is potentially extremely dangerous.”

Slovakia’s Minister for the Interior Robert Kalinak has apologized to Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern over the incident and expressed his “profound regret”. Irish authorities are now investigating the incident and the government has ordered for a full report to be delivered.

The Irish Opposition has expressed concern about the incident. Labour Party spokesman Joe Costello said “This incident led to the closure of roads in the area, the evacuation of businesses and the lives and safety of residents could have been put at risk. We also need to know what protest the government is going to make about this breach of our security.”

Reflections, Lichtenstein, two new exhibitions at Edinburgh’s Modern One

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Reflections, Lichtenstein, two new exhibitions at Edinburgh’s Modern One

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

This weekend saw the opening of two new exhibitions at Edinburgh’s National Gallery of Modern Art. Wikinews attended Thursday’s press preview for the event where a full contingent of the capital’s press turned out to see the striking collection of paintings, photographs, and other works. Presented below are a selection of images captured at the preview.

REFLECTIONS: A Series of Changing Displays of Contemporary Art, billed as a showcase of a “diverse range of internationally-renowned contemporary and modern artists” is to display major works from the Gallery’s permanent collection, alongside important loans. Alongside this broad range of works, a three-room display of pieces on-loan from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation — with a dramatic painted steel relief, ‘borrowed’ from the Tate in London — runs from March 14 through to January 10 next year.

Admission to both exhibitions is free; being located in Dean, to the north-west of Edinburgh’s city centre, a free Gallery bus service is available.

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Andrew Sayers resigns National Museum of Australia directorship

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Andrew Sayers resigns National Museum of Australia directorship

By | October 18, 2018

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Director of the National Museum of Australia, Andrew Sayers, has resigned his position effective July 1 in a move that came as a surprise to his colleagues. Sayers cited distance issues as his wife is currently working full time in Melbourne.

Sayers is quoted in a statement as saying, “I leave the museum confident that the reputation of the Museum as the home of our national treasures is one of which we can all be proud. […] Professionally, I have enjoyed making a contribution to the Museum, yet, as many couples have discovered a ‘commuter relationship’ is not ideal.”

Sayers was contracted for five years, and was only into his third year in the post. Prior to his position at the National Museum, he spent ten years in the same role at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia. He also spent thirteen years working as as a curator and assistant director at the National Gallery of Australia. He began his museum career at Art Gallery of New South Wales and Newcastle Region Art Gallery. Following his resignation, Sayers will retire to live in Melbourne with his wife.

Truckload of trouble for Thai Rak Thai

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Truckload of trouble for Thai Rak Thai

By | October 17, 2018

Friday, July 7, 2006

Yesterday saw Thailand’s Attorney General file charges of election fraud with the country’s Constitutional court. According to Sondhi Limthongkul’s ThaiDay, the action seeking the dissolution of five parties was delivered by truck and consisted of over 120,000 pages of legal citations.

Both the Thai Rak Thai party making up the caretaker government and the main opposition Democrats are named. The allegations centre on claims that Thai Rak Thai paid minor parties to participate where seats would otherwise be unopposed, and that the Democrats may have bribed parties to claim that they had been paid by Thai Rak Thai.

Thailand’s prolonged political crisis originally stemmed from repeated corruption allegations against the Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. An April 2nd snap election apparently intended to cement the ruling party’s position and dismiss critics as unrepresentative backfired when the three main opposition parties announced a boycott. This left many seats unopposed, particularly in the country’s troubled Muslim south. With Thai Rak Thai standing alone in strong Democrat territory, a grassroots abstention campaign left many seats empty when they failed to garner the constitutionally required 20% of eligible votes.

Amongst all the political posturing, and allegations that the Election Commission had unduly favoured the ruling party, claims that there had been irregularities surfaced. Thai Rak Thai was accused of having paid minor parties to circumvent the 20% rule by offering token opposition. The claims were brought before the Election Commission who eventually handed the case over to the Attorney General without offering any recommendation. The commission’s sub-committee that prepared the report had recommended the dissolution of Thai Rak Thai.

At present it is unclear if the political crisis will be resolved through the country’s legal system prior to the upcoming October election rerun. The volume of evidence may leave the Constitutional Court unable to agree on a ruling prior to the election.

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Dell joins Microsoft-Nortel VoIP Team

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Dell joins Microsoft-Nortel VoIP Team

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dell Inc. announced on Tuesday that it will partner up with the Microsoft-Nortel Innovative communications alliance (ICA) team to sell Unified Communications and VoIP products.

The announcement on Tuesday the 16th of October 2007 includes Dell selling VoIP, data and wireless networking products from Nortel and the Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and other unified communications products.

The partnership with both manufacturers should allow Dell to provide a pre-integrated solution.

In March 2007, competitors IBM and Cisco announced they would join in the competition for developing unified communications applications and the development of open technologies around the unified communications and collaboration (UC2) client platform an application programming interfaces (APIs) offered by IBM as a subset of Lotus Sametime.

“We want to make it simple for our customers to deploy unified communications so their end users can get access to all their messages in one place – whether its e-mail, phone or mobile device. This will pave the way for more business-ready productivity tools,” said vice president of solutions, Dell Product Group, Rick Becker.

  • Customers have four options:
    • Core Office Communication Server 2007 – provides instant messaging and on-premise Microsoft Live Meeting.
    • Office Communication Server: Telephony – enables call routing tracking and management, VoIP gateway and public branch exchange (PBX) integration.
    • Audio and Video Conferencing – allows point-to-point conference, video conference and VoIP audio conference.
    • Exchange Unified Messaging – provides voicemail, e-mail and fax in Microsoft Outlook, and anywhere access of Microsoft Outlook Inbox and Calendar.

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Major snowstorm sweeps across Eastern US

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Major snowstorm sweeps across Eastern US

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

A major winter storm, which has been nicknamed by some as “Snowmageddon“, has pummeled parts of the U.S. Middle Atlantic region, dumping up to 19 inches (50 centimeters) of snow in some parts of the Washington area.

The National Weather Service is predicting as much as 24 to 30 inches (60 to 75 cm) of snow for the Washington, D.C. region by late Saturday. The storm brought high winds and low visibility, with winds gusting at 56 miles per hour (93 kilometers per hour) along the coast.

Life in the nation’s capital ground to a halt with the federal government and most businesses closing early on Friday and residents warned to stay off the snow-clogged roads. Hundreds of thousands of homes were without power as the wet snow weighed heavily on trees and power lines. Power lines in some areas have been brought down by the heavy snow.

The Weather Service issued blizzard and winter storm warnings for states reaching from Virginia and West Virginia up to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Forecasters say this could be the largest recorded snowfall in Washington, rivaling a storm, known as the Knickerbocker Storm, that hit the city nearly 90 years ago, in January 1922. The largest amount of snowfall recorded so far has been in Elkridge, Maryland, reporting 32 inches (81 cm). The 1922 storm was named the Knickerbocker Storm for a theater where 98 people were killed when the building’s roof collapsed due to heavy snow. Snowfall in that storm measured 28 inches (71 cm).

Airlines and airports across the region have canceled flights and train service has been disrupted. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport suspended flight operations for the day while nearby Washington Dulles International Airport reported only a few international flights would be departing. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport reported most flights were canceled. Flights at Philadelphia International Airport are also canceled.

Amtrak announced that it was canceling a number of trains between Washington and New York City, along with service from Washington to cities in the south. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, known as the Metro locally, has suspended bus service and above ground train service. Underground subway service is running at 30 minute intervals.

As the storm approached, residents emptied supermarket shelves, stocking up on food and other supplies, especially due to Super Bowl XLIV which will be held on Sunday. Local area sports teams in Washington, D.C. will still play games as scheduled. People are urged to take the Metro to see the games and not use the roads. Impromptu snowball fights have also broken with some people going as far as to organize them over Facebook and Twitter.

The winter weather has already been blamed for hundreds of road accidents. So far two fatalities have been reported, a father and son who were rendering aid to a stranded motorist on Interstate 81 in Virginia, when an approaching tractor-trailer jackknifed and killed the pair.

This is the second major snowstorm to hit the region in less than two months.

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British sailors detained, released after yacht accidentally crosses into Iranian waters

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British sailors detained, released after yacht accidentally crosses into Iranian waters

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Five British sailors traveling in a yacht in the Persian Gulf were detained and released by Iranian authorities after they accidentally crossed into Iranian waters. The sailors were on their way to a race then they suffered propeller problems and drifted into Iranian waters.

Iranian authorities interrogated the sailors and released them after they found no evidence of “bad intentions.” They earlier warned that the sailors would face prosecution if they suspected any wrong doing.

“[There was] certainly no question of any malicious intent on the part of these five young people,” stated the Iranian Foreign Ministry to the IRNA. The Revolutionary Guard stated, “after carrying out an investigation and interrogation of the five British sailors, it became clear that their illegal entry was a mistake.”

Team Pindar composed of David Bloomer, Luke Porter, Oliver Smith, Oliver Young and Sam Usher, were travelling to the Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race, a 360-mile (580-kilometer) race when they were arrested on November 25. The race took place on November 26. The sailors were met by team representatives and are being escorted in their yacht out of Iranian waters.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary for the UK denies that the unconditional release was not a political move calling it a “human story” and that it had “nothing to do with politics. It’s got nothing to do with the nuclear enrichment program.”

A similar incident took place in July, but on land. Three American hikers, identified as Shaun Gabriel Maxwell, Shane Bower and Sara Short, were arrested on July 31 in the country after they crossed into Iranian territory. Reports say the hikers accidentally crossed into Iran while hiking between Halabja and Ahmad Awa in the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

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Truck bomb kills at least 80 in Afghan capital city center

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Truck bomb kills at least 80 in Afghan capital city center

By | October 16, 2018

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In what Afghan president Ashraf Ghani called “a crime against humanity,” earlier this morning, local time, a septic tanker truck filled with explosives detonated not far from the German embassy in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan area, during the city’s morning commute. According to the country’s health ministry, at least 83 bodies have been found and over 450 have been wounded. The ministry’s spokesperson, Ismail Kawasi, said most of the victims were civilians, including children.

It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is

“The attack demonstrates a complete disregard for civilians and reveals the barbaric nature of the enemy faced by the Afghan people,” Ghani said in an official statement. “The terrorists, even in the holy month of Ramadan, the month of goodness, blessing and prayer, are not stopping the killing of our innocent people,” he said. General John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan congratulated city security forces for preventing the truck from coming any closer to important government buildings and embassies.

This attack was unusual, though not unheard of, because of the sheer volume of the bomb involved. According to Kabul’s police chief, General Hassan Shah Frogh, “The blast was so huge that it dug a big crater as deep as four meters” (13 feet) and it damaged buildings as far as one mile (1.2 km) away.

Though an initial report by Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish claimed the site of the detonation as near one of the gates to the Afghan Presidential Palace, it was actually closer to the German embassy, which sustained considerable damage, according to NBC. Germany currently has more than 950 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and helped the Afghan security personnel in their training. “It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is,” said police spokesperson Basir Mujahid.

The Taliban has denied any association with this attack. Western countries have been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for about 15 years, including the U.S., Germany, and Britain, but many of these countries withdrew much of their forces before 2015. Since then, the Taliban has come to control about 40% of Afghanistan, per U.S. estimates.

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New York Times reporter rescued in Afghanistan

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New York Times reporter rescued in Afghanistan

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

This past week, British Commandos saved a British journalist, Stephen Farrell from what could have been a very dangerous situation as he had been abducted by Taliban insurgents in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan last weekend. During the raid, one of the rescuers and the journalist’s translator were killed in addition to about three others according to conflicting reports.

Farrell, a journalist from The New York Times and dual British-Irish citizen, and his Afghan interpreter, Sultan Munadi, were taken captive by the Taliban while covering a September 4th bombing by coalition aircraft not far from Konduz City, Afghanistan. A local Afghan reported that while Farrell was interviewing individuals that witnessed the bombing, he received a warning from another Afghan that he should leave the area. Soon after, gun-shots were heard and the Taliban was said to be approaching. Reportedly, police warned journalists covering the strike that insurgents controlled the area surrounding the tanker and that they should take precautions for their personal safety.

“We feared that media attention would raise the temperature and increase the risk to the captives.”

When Farrell was taken, few major news outlets reported his capture for security reasons. NY Times Executive Editor Bill Keller earlier said “We feared that media attention would raise the temperature and increase the risk to the captives.”

According to Farrell, while he was treated well — given food, water, and other provisions — his captors taunted Munadi. During their captivity, Farrell commented that his captors would drive within 1500 feet of NATO and Afghan outposts with weapons displayed to prove their daring. Six to eight guards took turns monitoring the captives.

Farrell is the second NY Times journalist to be taken captive in Afghanistan in less than a year. In November 2008, reporter David S. Rohde and his colleague Tahir Ludin were taken captive south of Kabul and moved to Pakistan before they managed to escape in June of this year. Farrell was also kidnapped in April 2004 while on-assignment in Fallujah, Iraq.

Kidnappings are done for ideological reasons by some Taliban members but are also conducted by local insurgents for ransom. At least 16 journalists have been kidnapped since the beginning of the Afghan war.

“The tragedy that took place this morning in northern Afghanistan raises many questions.”

According to Keller, the possibility had arisen that Farrell and Munadi would be moved, possibly to Pakistan, which may have caused the military to act much sooner. On the morning of September 9th, Mohammad Sami Yowar, a spokesman for the Konduz Governor’s Office, briefed that British Commandos conducted a helicopter assault on the house in which the captives were held and subsequently a gun-battle erupted. A Taliban commander inside the house where Farrell and Munadi were being held was reportedly killed during the raid. Munadi was killed during the firefight and British officials said that they could not rule out the possibility he was killed by one of the Commandos. The Konduz Governor, Abdel Wahid Omar Khil, indicated that a woman and child probably caught in the crossfire were also killed during the raid. Farrell indicated that he was not harmed.

Reporters Without Borders has called for an investigation of the Munadi killing stating that “The tragedy that took place this morning in northern Afghanistan raises many questions.” U.S. military officials confirmed the raid was carried out by NATO and Afghan soldiers; no further details were provided.

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Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’

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Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a vault containing millions of seeds from all over the world, saw its first deposits on Tuesday. Located 800 kilometers from the North Pole on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the vault has been referred to by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso as a “frozen Garden of Eden“. It is intended to preserve crop supplies and secure biological diversity in the event of a worldwide disaster.

“The opening of the seed vault marks a historic turning point in safeguarding the world’s crop diversity,” said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust which is in charge of collecting the seed samples. The Norwegian government, who owns the bank, built it at a cost of $9.1 million.

At the opening ceremony, 100 million seeds from 268,000 samples were placed inside the vault, where there is room for over 2 billion seeds. Each of the samples originated from a different farm or field, in order to best ensure biological diversity. These crop seeds included such staples as rice, potatoes, barley, lettuce, maize, sorghum, and wheat. No genetically modified crops were included. (Beyond politics they are generally sterile so of no use.)

It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks.

Constructed deep inside a mountain and protected by concrete walls, the “doomsday vault” is designed to withstand earthquakes, nuclear warfare, and floods resulting from global warming. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called it an “insurance policy” against such threats.

With air-conditioned temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius, experts say the seeds could last for an entire millennium. Some crops will be able to last longer, like sorghum, which the Global Crop Diversity Trust says can last almost 20 millenniums. Even if the refrigeration system fails, the vaults are expected to stay frozen for 200 years.

The Prime Minister said, “With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilization.” Stoltenberg, along with Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, made the first deposit of rice to the vault.

“It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks,” Maathai said. The vault will operate as a bank, allowing countries to use their deposited seeds free of charge. It will also serve as a backup to the thousands of other seed banks around the world.

“Crop diversity will soon prove to be our most potent and indispensable resource for addressing climate change, water and energy supply constraints and for meeting the food needs of a growing population,” Cary Fowler said.

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