Tuesday, December 03rd, 2019 | Author:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Nick Bos, of the University of Helsinki, studies “the amazing adaptations social insects have evolved in order to fight the extreme parasite pressure they experience”. In a recently-accepted Evolution paper Bos and colleagues describe ants appearing to self-medicate.

I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented

The team used Formica fusca, an ant species that can form thousand-strong colonies. This common black ant eats other insects, and also aphid honeydew. It often nests in tree stumps or under rocks and foraging workers can sometimes be spotted climbing trees.

Some ants were infected with Beauveria bassiana, a fungus. Infected ants chose food laced with toxic hydrogen peroxide, whereas healthy ants avoided it. Hydrogen peroxide reduced infected ant fatalities by 15%, and the ants varied their intake depending upon how high the peroxide concentration was.

In the wild, Formica fusca can encounter similar chemicals in aphids and dead ants. The Independent reported self-medicating ants a first among insects.

Bos obtained his doctorate from the University of Copenhagen. He began postdoctoral research at Helsinki in 2012. He also runs the AntyScience blog. The blog aims to help address “a gap between scientists and ‘the general public’.” The name is a pun referencing ants, its primary topic, science, and “non-scientific” jargon-free communication. He now discusses his work with Wikinews.

((Wikinews)) What first attracted you to researching ants?

Nick Bos Me and a studymate were keeping a lot of animals during our studies, from beetles, to butterflies and mantids, to ants. We had the ants in an observation nest, and I could just look at them for hours, watching them go about. This was in my third year of Biology study I think. After a while I needed to start thinking about an internship for my M.Sc. studies, and decided to write a couple of professors. I ended up going to the Centre for Social Evolution at the University of Copenhagen where I did a project on learning in Ants under supervision of Prof. Patrizia d’Ettorre. I liked it so much there I ended up doing a PhD and I’ve been working on social insects ever since.

((Wikinews)) What methods and equipment were used for this investigation?

NB This is a fun one. I try to work on a very low budget, and like to build most of the experimental setups myself (we actually have equipment in the lab nicknamed the ‘Nickinator’, ‘i-Nick’ and the ‘Nicktendo64’). There’s not that much money in fundamental science at the moment, so I try to cut the costs wherever possible. We collected wild colonies of Formica fusca by searching through old tree-trunks in old logging sites in southern Finland. We then housed the ants in nests I made using Y-tong [aerated concrete]. It’s very soft stone that you can easily carve. We carved out little squares for the ants to live in (covered with old CD covers to prevent them escaping!). We then drilled a tunnel to a pot (the foraging arena), where the ants got the choice between the food with medicine and the food without.
We infected the ants by preparing a solution of the fungus Beauveria bassiana. Afterwards, each ant was dipped in the solution for a couple of seconds, dried on a cloth and put in the nest. After exposing the ants to the fungus, we took pictures of each foraging arena three times per day, and counted how many ants were present on each food-source.
This gave us the data that ants choose more medicine after they have been infected.
The result that healthy ants die sooner when ingesting ROS [Reactive Oxygen Species, the group of chemicals that includes hydrogen peroxide] but infected ants die less was obtained in another way (as you have to ‘force feed’ the ROS, as healthy ants, when given the choice, ignore that food-source.)
For this we basically put colonies on a diet of either food with medicine or without for a while. And afterwards either infected them or not. Then for about two weeks we count every day how many ants died. This gives us the data to do a so-called survival analysis.
We measured the ROS-concentration in the bodies of ants after they ingested the food with the medicine using a spectrophotometer. By adding certain chemicals, the ROS can be measured using the emission of light of a certain wave-length.
The detrimental effect of ROS on spores was easy to measure. We mixed different concentrations of ROS with the spores, plated them out on petridishes with an agar-solution where fungus can grow on. A day after, we counted how many spores were still alive.

((Wikinews)) How reliable do you consider your results to be?

NB The results we got are very reliable. We had a lot of colonies containing a lot of ants, and wherever possible we conducted the experiment blind. This means the experimenter doesn’t know which ants belong to which treatment, so it’s impossible to influence the results with ‘observer bias’. However, of course this is proof in just one species. It is hard to extrapolate to other ants, as different species lead very different lives.
At the moment it seems that sick ants mostly take care of the problem themselves

((Wikinews)) Where did the ants and fungus you used come from? How common are they in the wild?

NB For ants, see above about the collection.
This species of fungus does appear in Finland, but we chose to use a different strain from Denmark (with thanks to Prof. J. Eilenberg and the laboratory technician Louise Lee Munch Larsen from the University of Copenhagen). Animals can adapt to local strains (‘local adaptation’), and just to make sure we thought it would be good to use a strain of fungus that the ants definitely did not evolve specific resistances against. This means that the reaction of the ants (to self-medicate) is very likely to be a general response, and not just against their local fungal enemies.

((Wikinews)) Are there any ethical considerations around exposing ants to toxins and parasites?

NB Legally, no. Insects do not have any ‘rights’ as such regarding ethics. That said, we do take measures to not make them ‘suffer unnecessarily’. For example, dissections are done when the ants are anesthetized (either by CO2 or Ice), and when ants need to be killed, we do it in alcohol, which kills the ants in a matter of seconds. So while the ants do not have ‘rights’ as such, we still try to handle them with as much respect as possible (even though the experiment involves infecting them with a deadly fungus).
But even though the 12,000 ants in our study sounds like a lot (and it is), this is negligible in the ‘grand scheme of things’. It has been calculated that in the Netherlands alone, nearly a trillion insects die against just the licence-plates of cars every six months. I don’t own a car, so that means I’m excused right? 😉

((Wikinews)) This is the first evidence for self-medicating insects. How widespread do you think this phenomenon could be in reality?

NB It’s not actually the first evidence for self-medication in insects. Moths and fruit flies definitely do it, and there’s evidence in honey bees and bumble-bees as well. So it seems to be quite wide-spread in the insect world. I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented. Insects (and animals in general) seem to be quite good at taking care of themselves.

((Wikinews)) How might ants locate healing substances in the wild?

NB Very good question. This is something that’s important to know. If they would only do it in the lab, the behaviour wouldn’t be very interesting. We have some guesses where they might get it from, but at the moment we don’t know yet. That said, I plan to investigate this question (among others) further [in] the next couple of years.

((Wikinews)) For your PhD you researched ants’ scent-based communications. Could healthy ants perhaps tell other ants are infected and encourage this behaviour?

NB There’s not much known about this. There’s conflicting evidence about whether sick ants actually smell different from healthy ones or not. At the moment it seems that sick ants mostly take care of the problem themselves. Sick ants stop most interaction with nestmates and especially brood, and leave the nest to die in isolation. This is probably for reducing chance of infecting nestmates, but of course it also reduces the work load of their nest-mates, as their corpse doesn’t have to be dragged out etc.
So as an answer to the question, I would find it unlikely that such a behaviour would evolve, but it’s not known yet.

((Wikinews)) Ants generally avoided the peroxide if they were healthy, but in some circumstances might they try to build resistance against infection in advance?

NB Who knows? Also not known yet unfortunately. That said, there is a very interesting study about resin collection in ants. Wood ants collect tree-resin, which has anti-microbial properties. They collect this even if not infected, and when you infect them, they don’t collect more of the resin than normal. So basically it seems like they collect it in order to keep diseases out of the nest, so they stop the disease before it can actually infect them.

((Wikinews)) Are there plans to follow this research up? Might you research other species? Other substances?

NB I first want to find out where they get it from in nature. There might be many sources of medicine (recent evidence suggests that tobacco plays a similar role for bumble bees). Dalial Freitak, who is also on this paper is currently running tests with Ph.D. student Siiri Fuchs (who is also on the paper) with other substances to see if any have the same effect as H2O2 [hydrogen peroxide].
Once the behaviour has been well described in this species of ant, I might do a comparison with other species. For example, once we find the source of the medicine in nature… would species without access to this source also have evolved the same behaviour in the lab? And if so… where would they get it from?
Also… can ants medicate their friends? 🙂

((Wikinews)) What other research are you working on right now?

NB Phew…lots! 🙂
I still have some questions left unanswered from my Ph.D. work related to how ants recognize who is a friend and who isn’t. I also started collaborating with Prof. Michael Poulsen from the University of Copenhagen on immunity in fungus-growing termites, as well as their chemical recognition abilities. Furthermore we’re working on social parasitism in wood-ants (ants have lots of animals exploiting the nest for shelter and resources, which all somehow have to get in to the fortress without getting killed).

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Friday, November 15th, 2019 | Author:

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Current United States Speaker of the House and 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan announced Wednesday he will not seek reelection and plans to retire from the U.S. House of Representatives when his term expires in January.

“We all know that I did not seek this job, I took it reluctantly, but I have given this job everything I have and I have no regret whatsoever in accepting this responsibility,” Ryan told the press. Ryan took over the Speaker position after John Boehner retired in 2015. Ryan cited wanting to spend more time with his three children. Some reports suggested he was also disillusioned with the Trump presidency. Ryan contradicted this in public: “I’m grateful to the president for giving us this opportunity to do big things to get this country on the right track,” he said. According to Axios, Ryan considered last December’s restructuring of the U.S. tax code to be the most important accomplishment during his time as Speaker.

President Trump said via Twitter, “Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised Ryan as “a good man who is always true to his word” and said “[w]ith his newfound political freedom, I hope the Speaker uses his remaining time in Congress to break free from the hard-right factions of his caucus that have kept Congress from getting real things done.”

Not all reactions to Ryan’s departure were admiring. While various Democrats and others have opposed Ryan for his Republican views, many Republicans have criticized what they describe as a lack of support for President Trump’s projects, such as the US Mexico border wall Trump has proposed to build on the U.S. border with Mexico. Far-right media outlet Breitbart News described Ryan on Tuesday as “the leader of the globalist wing of the Republican Party,” citing his “pro-immigration, wage-crushing, big business-first record, whereby American workers have been left behind by multinational free trade and mass immigration.” Fox News commentator Sebastian Gorka tweeted “GOOD RIDDANCE.” Amongst late-night comedians, Stephen Colbert of The Late Show called him “CrossFit Dracula” in a reference to his well-documented fondness for fitness programs: “He said today he wants to spend more time with his wife and kids. Which, of course, is what he calls his biceps.” Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show added “House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he is retiring from Congress. He said he wants to spend more time with his children at home, and less time with the child in the White House.”

Paul Ryan currently represents a district in southeastern Wisconsin. As of January, he will have served twenty years in the United States Congress.

According to Business Insider, waiting until January of next year would push Ryan into a slightly higher pension bracket within the Federal Employees Retirement System because his time as Speaker will give him three years at a sustained salary of US$223,500. If he retires as planned, he would be eligible to draw noticeably more annually than if he retired sooner.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, asked by Fox News whether he would run for Ryan’s position as Speaker, responded with a reference to the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, “We’re getting way ahead of ourselves. […] We’ve got to make sure we keep the majority.”

In November, one third of the U.S. Senate and the entire House of Representatives are up for re-election. The Republicans currently have a majority in both houses of congress, but would lose control of the House if the Democrats gained 23 out of its 435 seats. Close to 30 Republicans have announced they would be retiring this year. BBC analyst Anthony Zurcher speculates Ryan may be retiring now to preserve his reputation for a presidential run sometime in the future.

In the U.S. government, the Speaker of the House automatically assumes the presidency if the president and vice president are both killed or incapacitated. The Speaker is elected by the members of the House of Representatives, and so is usually a member of whichever of the two main political parities happens to have the majority that session.

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Monday, November 11th, 2019 | Author:

Monday, April 4, 2005

Frank Clair, the Canadian Football League (CFL) coach and architect of the powerhouse Ottawa Rough Riders of the 1960s and 70s died Sunday at the age of 87 in Sarasota, Florida, United States.

Nicknamed “The Professor” for his skills at recognising talent, teaching the game, and ability to get the most from players, Clair first came to Canada to coach the Toronto Argonauts in 1950 and ended his first CFL year with a Grey Cup championship; repeating with the Argos in 1952. He left the Argonauts following a salary dispute and ended up in Ottawa in 1956 where he took on the daunting task of reviving the Rough Riders team which were poorly run and disorganised. He led the team to an incredible 14 consecutive seasons of playoff appearances and three Grey Cups.

He retired from coaching following the 1969 Grey Cup to take over the general manager position. At that time, Clair led the CFL in seasons coached (19), regular-season victories (147), playoff seasons (17), consecutive playoff seasons (14), playoff victories (22), Grey Cup appearances (six) and Grey Cup victories (five). His winning ways continued as GM when Ottawa won the 1973 and 1976 Grey Cups. Nevertheless, he was let go in 1978 and Ottawa has not won a Grey Cup since.

According to the Ottawa Sun, former sports editor Jane O’Hara described Clair as a no-nonsense, to-the-point, type of gentleman who was short on smiles, but always seen coaching his team wearing a snap-brim fedora and standing poker-faced and erect on the sidelines.

He was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 1981 as a builder and the Ottawa stadium (Frank Clair Stadium at Lansdowne Park) was renamed in his honour in 1993.

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Saturday, November 09th, 2019 | Author:

Monday, September 6, 2010

President Alvaro Colom says torrential downpours causing flooding and landslides have undone the country’s reconstruction from Tropical Storm Agatha in May. Up to eighteen people are reported killed in rain-related incidents across the country as weather systems in both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific batter the region, and forecasters expect another 48 hours of precipitation. At least ten people were killed, 20 rescued, when a landslide buried a bus as it traveled on the Inter-American highway in the worst single-incident.

Sources
  • “Heavy rains devastate Guatemala” — BBC, September 4, 2010
  • Reuters. “Torrential rains kill 18 in Guatemala” — Toronto Star, September 4, 2010

Five people are dead, 39 injured after a suicide bombing in the Dagestan Republic of the North Caucasus. The information is still unfolding, and earlier reports had three killed, 26 injured. The attack occurred at 00:30 local time (20:30 UTC) when a Zhiguli car packed with explosives drove into the gates of a military base near Buynaksk. AFP reports a second explosion nearby on a nearby highway, but with no injuries.

Sources
  • “Death toll in N.Caucasus suicide bombing rises to five (Update 1)” — Ria Novosti, September 5, 2010
  • “5 killed, 39 injured in Dagestan suicide bombing” — AFP, September 5, 2010

The Arizona Cardinals US football team has released Heisman trophy-winner Matt Leinart after being unable to find a favorable trade. Leinart had been unable to break out of the back-up quarterback role with the team after early injuries kept him on the sideline for a couple years, and expressed his frustration publicly on Monday. The Cardinals, forced to trim their team roster to 53 players, cut Leinart leaving him without a team.

Sources
  • Bob Baum. “Arizona Cardinals release quarterback Matt Leinart” — Cape Cod Times, September 4, 2010
  • Judy Batista. “Leinart, With Career Full of Disappointment, Is Now Without Team” — New York Times, September 4, 2010

After driving away from police, a thirteen-year-old driver struck a pole, plowed through a couple of fences, and bumped a parked car into the house before coming to a rest at the front door. Police spokesperson Ros Wetherall reported officers attempted to stop the Holden Commodore around 1 a.m. local time (5 p.m. UTC), but had to search for the vehicle which they found crashed into the home on Grovelands Drive, Camillo. The driver and one other youth in the car were uninjured. The young man will appear in court on charges of reckless driving, failing to stop and not having a driver’s licence.

Sources
  • AAP. “Boy charged after car meets house” — TheAge.com, September 5, 2010
  • “Car crashes into house: 13-year-old charged” — Australian Broadcasting Corporation, September 5, 2010

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Saturday, November 09th, 2019 | Author:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Yesterday, Milan Lu?i?‘s family returned home and found their home ransacked by burglars. It was discovered that the young NHL star’s prized Memorial Cup ring and several valuable tournament watches were stolen from their home in Vancouver, Canada .

Lu?i?’s mother, Snežana, has said that the thieves gained entrance to the family’s home by smashing in the back door.

Lu?i?, 20, who lives with his parents, Dobrivoje and Snežana, is a player for the Boston Bruins and flew to Boston on Wednesday to help out at a rookies camp.

“We don’t know if it was random,” she said. “They went into his room upstairs and took his Memorial Cup ring and three of his Esquire watches.”

Other rooms in the home were ransacked and alcohol was stolen.

“He was very disappointed,” said Snežana, referring to Lu?i?’s reaction when she called her son in Boston shortly after the robbery.

Before Lu?i? flew to Boston. he told Snežana before flying to Boston he was thinking about his memorabilia and recalled how, last summer, former goalie for the Edmonton Oilers, Bill Ranford, was robbed of memorabilia from his New Westminster home.

“So in a way he wasn’t surprised,” Snežana said.

Lu?i? was raised in East Vancouver. He carried the Vancouver Giants to a Memorial Cup victory in 2007. He was awarded as the Most Valuable Player and led the Giants in scoring for the 2006-07 season.

Lu?i? accumulated 27 points and 89 penalty minutes in his play for with the Boston Bruins last season.

According to Snežana the NHL has been advised of the burglary and intends to monitor websites like Craigslist and eBay to see if someone attempts to sell the distinctive ring.

The Vancouver Police Department‘s investigation is ongoing.

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Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 | Author:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

An HIV-positive man was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday, one day after being convicted of harassment of a public servant for spitting into the eye and open mouth of a Dallas, Texas police officer in May 2006. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that no one has ever contracted HIV from saliva, and a gay-rights and AIDS advocacy group called the sentence excessive.

A Dallas County jury concluded that Willie Campbell’s act of spitting on policeman Dan Waller in 2006 constituted the use of his saliva as a deadly weapon. The incident occurred while Campbell, 42, was resisting arrest while being taken into custody for public intoxication.

“He turns and spits. He hits me in the eye and mouth. Then he told me he has AIDS. I immediately began looking for something to flush my eyes with,” said Waller to The Dallas Morning News.

Officer Waller responded after a bystander reported seeing an unconscious male lying outside a building. Dallas County prosecutors stated that Campbell attempted to fight paramedics and kicked the police officer who arrested him for public intoxication.

It’s been 25 years since the virus was identified, but there are still lots of fears.

Prosecutors said that Campbell yelled that he was innocent during the trial, and claimed a police officer was lying. Campbell’s lawyer Russell Heinrichs said that because he had a history of convictions including similarly attacking two other police officers, biting inmates, and other offenses, he was indicted under a habitual offender statute. The statute increased his minimum sentence to 25 years in prison. Because the jury ruled that Campbell’s saliva was used as a deadly weapon, he will not be eligible for parole until completing at least half his sentence.

If you look at the facts of this case, it was clear that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury.

The organization Lambda Legal (Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund), which advocates for individuals living with HIV, says that saliva should not be considered a deadly weapon. Bebe Anderson, the HIV projects director at Lambda Legal, spoke with The Dallas Morning News about the sentence. “It’s been 25 years since the virus was identified, but there are still lots of fears,” said Anderson.

The Dallas County prosecutor who handled the trial, Jenni Morse, said that the deadly weapon finding was justified. “No matter how minuscule, there is some risk. That means there is the possibility of causing serious bodily injury or death,” said Morse. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins stated: “If you look at the facts of this case, it was clear that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury.”

Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.

A page at the CDC’s website, HIV and Its Transmission, states: “HIV has been found in saliva and tears in very low quantities from some AIDS patients.” The subsection “Saliva, Tears, and Sweat” concludes that: “Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.” On Friday the Dallas County Health Department released a statement explaining that HIV is most commonly spread through sexual contact, sharing needles, or transfusion from an infected blood product.

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Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 | Author:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Calabasas, California private elementary school New Village Leadership Academy (NVLA) opened its 2009–10 school year this week amid controversy over its connections to Scientology. The school was founded by celebrity couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, who paid about US$1 million to lease the facility in 2008. Former head of school Jacqueline Olivier was removed from her job in July, and replaced by Piano Foster, an individual who has taken Scientology courses at the organization’s Celebrity Centre.

Smith and Pinkett-Smith are good friends with Scientologists Katie Holmes and her husband Tom Cruise. In 2006, Smith acknowledged to World Entertainment News Network that he had discussed Scientology with Cruise: “I’ve talked to Tom about it. [There’s] lots of incredible, wonderful concepts but Jada and I don’t necessarily believe in organized religion.” ABC News reported that 2008 tax returns for the Smiths show they gave $122,500 to organizations with ties to the Church of Scientology.

“All I can say is it is not a Scientology school.”

In an interview with Ebony, Pinkett-Smith denied the school was affiliated with Scientology: “All I can say is it is not a Scientology school. Now, If you don’t trust me, and you are questioning my integrity, that’s a whole different matter. That is straight evil to think I would bring families into that educational institution and then try to get them to convert into some religion,” she said. According to New York Daily News, the school is registered with the government of California as “non-religious”.

The school utilizes a teaching methodology called Study Technology, which was developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Study Technology is promoted through Applied Scholastics, a Scientology-associated organization founded in 1972. “Study Technology is a secular methodology intended to help students better understand what is being studied and apply it to real life,” said Pinkett-Smith in an email to ABCnews.com. Karin Pouw, an official with the Church of Scientology, was contacted by ABC News but did not comment on a possible affiliation between NVLA and Scientology, instead referring questions back to the school itself.

New York Daily News cited Radar Online in reporting that former head of school Olivier was fired from her position because she had issues with the Study Tech teaching methodology used in the school. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Olivier was removed from her $200,000 position with the school because she reportedly did not agree with portions of the school’s curriculum which were developed by L. Ron Hubbard.

“What they seem to have is some sort of a hybrid. Scientology repackaged for the Hollywood crowd.”

Carnegie Mellon University computer science Professor David S. Touretzky, described by ABC News as “the most ardent critic of Study Technology”, spoke with ABCNews.com about his thoughts on Scientology connections with the school: “What they seem to have is some sort of a hybrid. Scientology repackaged for the Hollywood crowd. It’s hitting all the politically correct elements … but snuck in there is this Scientology stuff.” Professor Touretzky operates a web site which analyzes Study Tech and argues that it is actually a form of Scientology masked as an educational method. In a February 2008 interview with Wikinews, Professor Touretzky mused that recent criticism of Scientology on the Internet might prove to “warn off Hollywood celebs from cozying up to the cult”, including Will Smith.

Executive director of the California Association of Independent Schools, Jim McManus, was also critical of L. Ron Hubbard’s methodology, stating: “I look at the Study Tech ideas and it doesn’t seem sound educationally.” University of Virginia psychology professor Dan Willingham, author of Why Don’t Students Like School, asserted to ABC News that the methodology is flawed: “It’s perfectly possible that the methodology is based on ridiculous principles and that something effective is happening in the classroom, but ridiculous principles certainly lowers that possibility.”

“This revenue stream is one of the many sources of income which the Church of Scientology uses for such tactics as invoking frivolous lawsuits and hiring private investigators to intimidate critics.”

Members of the Internet-based group critical of Scientology, Project Chanology, were present at the school’s 2009 opening to protest what they called a “front” of the Church of Scientology. A 2008 press release by Project Chanology was critical of what it referred to as the revenue the Church of Scientology receives from licensing fees schools pay the organization for utilizing the Study Tech teaching methodology. “This revenue stream is one of the many sources of income which the Church of Scientology uses for such tactics as invoking frivolous lawsuits and hiring private investigators to intimidate critics,” said the press release.

According to the web site TruthAboutScientology.com, which publishes data compiled from Scientology magazines Freewinds, Celebrity and Auditor, multiple individuals in management roles at NVLA have attended Scientology classes. In addition to the newly installed head of school, Piano Foster, the school’s director of learning Tasia Jones and its artistic director Sisu Raiken have both received Scientology course training. “I officially took over on July 1, 2009, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’ve been working in education for the past 20 years at various public and charter schools so I feel I’m ready for the job,” said Foster of her new position at NVLA.

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Friday, October 18th, 2019 | Author:

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The fighter was one of five that were given permission to fly from Russia to its heavily militarized province of Kaliningrad/Karaliaucius/Koenigsberg, separated from the mainland by the territories of Lithuania and Poland. The last plane, piloted by Valery Troyanov, separated and promptly crashed near the city of Kaunas. The pilot ejected and wasn’t hurt. German NATO planes that were securing the Baltic airspace were too late to take off because of the Lithuanian radar failures.

Immediately, Russia started a propaganda campaign. It denied the presence of weapons on the plane, however, four rockets and a chaingun have been found, as well as some radioactive materials. Also, Russia pushed for the formation of a joint investigation commission with Lithuania.

Lithuania, meanwhile, stayed true to its traditions of freedom and sovereignty, offering Mr. Tryanov a health test, inviting Russian observers, holding the pilot under house arest at a hotel, inviting the wife to join her husband, cooperating with NATO and Ukrainian specialists, and firing the chief of its airforce for (unwittingly?) giving away classified information to the Russians.

Russian media, which is entirely state-controlled, focused on the rhetoric of Russian military and the foreign ministry, ignoring a declaration of Mr. Troyanov and his wife where they expressed being satisfied with the handling of the case by the Lithuanian government, and proclaiming that Lithuania haven’t tested Mr. Troyanov’s health. Russia also gave wrong technical data on the airplane involved.

The commission concluded that the accident was not a provocation, and the pilot was released. However, judging from the elaborately planned propaganda campaign, the commission might have preferred to make a decission favourable to good interstate relations. The pilot (who was flying an important international mission) has been proven to be incompetent. Currently, in the cash-strapped Russian army, pilots, such as major Mr. Troyanov, fly only several hours a year – about 15 times less than NATO pilots.

Russia plans to award Mr. Troyanov a medal and send him on a tour of schools to teach the subject of patriotism. Lithuania has demanded a compensation of 3000 euros for the farmer in whose field the plane crashed.

NATO, the European Union and international mainstream media stayed almost completely silent about this accident. IndyMedia.org, meanwhile, refused to publish this article on unknown grounds.Russia violates the airspaces of its Baltic neighbours at an average rate of 6 times a year. Russia has never admitted any violations. Lithuania (occupied by Russia 1795-1918 and 1940-1990), along with other Baltic countries, have no modern fighter planes of their own, hence their airspace ir protected by their NATO alies. Since 2004, they are NATO and EU members, along with Poland.

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Friday, October 18th, 2019 | Author:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Protests which began Monday escalated to a riot on Wednesday consisting of over 10,000 people in Chi?in?u, the capital of Moldova, protesting the results of Sunday’s 2009 Moldovan parliamentary election, which showed an apparent, narrow victory for the Communist Party (Partidul Comuni?tilor din Republica Moldova, PCRM). Demonstrators claim the victory was the result of electoral fraud.

The demonstration escalated to a “flash mob” of between 10,000 to 15,000 communicating via online tools like email, micro-blogging tool Twitter, and social-networking website Facebook. “We sent messages on Twitter but didn’t expect 15,000 people to join in. At the most we expected 1,000”, said Oleg Brega of the activist group Hyde Park.

Police deployed tear gas and water cannons, and fired blanks into the crowd. The rioters threw stones at the riot police and took control of the parliament building and presidential office. A bonfire was built out of parliamentary furniture and all windows below the 7th floor were broken.

Approximately one hundred protesters and 170 police officers are reported as injured. There have been conflicting reports as to whether a female protester died during the altercation.

193 protesters “have been charged with looting, hooliganism, robbery and assault,” said an Interior Ministry spokesperson. This announcement sparked another protest by those demanding the release for those detained.

There is wide speculation about who was to blame for the rioting.

President Vladimir Voronin has expelled the Romanian ambassador from Moldova, blaming Romania for the violent protests. “We know that certain political forces in Romania are behind this unrest. The Romanian flags fixed on the government buildings in Chisinau attest to this” said Voronin. “Romania is involved in everything that has happened.“ Voronin also blamed the protests on opposition leaders who used violence to seize power, and has described the event as a coup d’état.

Protesters initially insisted on a recount of the election results and are now calling for a new vote, which has been rejected by the government. Rioters were also demanding unification between Moldova and Romania. “In the air, there was a strong expectation of change, but that did not happen”, said OSCE spokesman Matti Sidoroff.File:Dorin Chirtoaca.jpg

“The elections were fraudulent, there was multiple voting” accused Chi?in?u mayor Dorin Chirtoac? of the Liberal Party. “It’s impossible that every second person in Moldova voted for the Communists. However, we believe the riots were a provocation and we are now trying to reconcile the crowd. Leaders of all opposition parties are at the scene,” said Larissa Manole of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) proclaimed the PCRM to have won 61 seats in initial counts, enough to guarantee a third term in power for Voronin, who has held the position since 2001. But the Central Election Commission has received evidence of election violations, according to RIA Novosti, and upon recounts conducted of disputed polls, the commission reported that the Communists achieved 49.48% of the Moldovian vote, giving them 60 parliamentary seats — one short of the total needed to win the presidential election. “The electoral commission also granted opposition parties permission to check voter lists, fulfilling one of their chief demands,” said Yuri Ciocan, Central Election Commission secretary.

Voronin will step down in May, however his party could elect a successor with 61 parliamentary seats without any votes from outside parties as well as amend the Constitution. With the PCRM garnering 60 seats, the opposition will have a voice in the presidential election for a new successor.

The western part of Moldova was a part of Romania from the Romania’s independence until the region was detached by the USSR in 1940 to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. On independence in 1990 the country sought union with Romania but the eastern, Russian- and Ukrainian-inhabited areas of the country declared themselves independent from Moldova and formed the state of Transnistria and movement toward union was halted.

Moldova is Europe’s poorest country, where average income is less than $250 (£168) a month. The country’s neighbours are Romania and Ukraine. Romania is a European Union (EU) state.

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Thursday, October 10th, 2019 | Author:

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By Simon Burgess

With the investigation into payment protection insurance sector still ongoing and the Chief Executive of a mortgage firm being the most recent to receive not only a fine but also a personal fine, mortgage payment protection cover is still being branded a rip-off. However while there are problems within the sector it is essential to realize that the actual product itself will do the job it was designed to do if it is sold correctly.

Providing the consumer is aware of the terms and conditions along with the exclusions in a policy which could stop you from making a claim, a policy would work for you. Some common exclusions include being self-employed, suffering an ongoing illness, being retired or only working in a part time position, others can be added on by the provider.

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The exclusions are found in the small print and if you buy mortgage payment protection cover alongside your mortgage you could be given very little information regarding the exclusions. This lack of information is what led to the majority of policies being mis-sold and the Financial Services Authority handing out fines. Other factors of mis-selling included firms charging enormous premiums for the cover but independent specialist providers tackle both these shortfalls.

An independent provider will save you money on the premiums by giving you the cheapest quotes and along with this they will make sure that consumers are aware of the exclusions which could stop them from making a claim. Mortgage payment protection cover can be a valuable safety net to have in your corner if you should find yourself out of work for any period of time. If you lost your income through suffering from an accident, were to become sick or made unemployed through no fault of your own then it could leave you struggling where to find the money to repay your mortgage.

Quality mortgage payment protection cover can begin to payout a tax free income anywhere between the 31st and 90th day of being out of work and would then continue for between 12 and 24 months as outlined in the key facts. Common exclusions being suffering a pre-existing medical condition, being retired or self-employed. Providing you have read the key facts and know that a policy would be in your best interest then it could make the difference between you keeping your home or losing it. Many homeowners believe that the State would step in and help however while some help might be available if you qualify the help they give is very little.

An independent specialist provider will not “rip-off” the consumer in favor of making huge profits but will provide quality affordable mortgage payment protection cover so that you would have something to fall back on if the worst should happen and you were to lose your income. Take the information that is offered by a specialist and as they specialize in payment protection products you can be assured that the policy will be sold by qualified staff and be backed up with experience in selling this type of product.

About the Author: Simon Burgess is Managing Director of the award-winning British Insurance, a specialist provider of

mortgage payment protection cover

, loan protection insurance and income protection insurance.

Source:

isnare.com

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