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John Reed on Orwell, God, self-destruction and the future of writing

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It can be difficult to be John Reed.

Christopher Hitchens called him a “Bin Ladenist” and Cathy Young editorialized in The Boston Globe that he “blames the victims of terrorism” when he puts out a novel like Snowball’s Chance, a biting send-up of George Orwell‘s Animal Farm which he was inspired to write after the terrorist attacks on September 11. “The clear references to 9/11 in the apocalyptic ending can only bring Orwell’s name into disrepute in the U.S.,” wrote William Hamilton, the British literary executor of the Orwell estate. That process had already begun: it was revealed Orwell gave the British Foreign Office a list of people he suspected of being “crypto-Communists and fellow travelers,” labeling some of them as Jews and homosexuals. “I really wanted to explode that book,” Reed told The New York Times. “I wanted to completely undermine it.”

Is this man who wants to blow up the classic literary canon taught to children in schools a menace, or a messiah? David Shankbone went to interview him for Wikinews and found that, as often is the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Reed is electrified by the changes that surround him that channel through a lens of inspiration wrought by his children. “The kids have made me a better writer,” Reed said. In his new untitled work, which he calls a “new play by William Shakespeare,” he takes lines from The Bard‘s classics to form an original tragedy. He began it in 2003, but only with the birth of his children could he finish it. “I didn’t understand the characters who had children. I didn’t really understand them. And once I had had kids, I could approach them differently.”

Taking the old to make it new is a theme in his work and in his world view. Reed foresees new narrative forms being born, Biblical epics that will be played out across print and electronic mediums. He is pulled forward by revolutions of the past, a search for a spiritual sensibility, and a desire to locate himself in the process.

Below is David Shankbone’s conversation with novelist John Reed.

Contents

  • 1 On the alternative media and independent publishing
  • 2 On Christopher Hitchens, Orwell and 9/11 as inspiration
  • 3 On the future of the narrative
  • 4 On changing the literary canon
  • 5 On belief in a higher power
  • 6 On politics
  • 7 On self-destruction and survival
  • 8 On raising children
  • 9 On paedophilia and the death penalty
  • 10 On personal relationships
  • 11 Sources
  • 12 External links


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Mike Tyson set to retire after loss

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Mike Tyson
Career Snapshot
Born June 30, 1966
Professional Debut March 6, 1985
Total Fights 58 (2 No Decisions)
Won 50
Lost 6
Drew 0
Knockouts 44
Titles Won Heavyweight

(WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO)

Mike Tyson’s boxing career appears to be over after the infamous fighter became fatigued against his journeyman opponent Saturday. Tyson later told the media he was quitting the sport to become a missionary.

Despite being heavily favored, the 38-year old Tyson became desperate in the sixth round and resorted to his trademark bizarre tactics against Irishman Kevin McBride (33-4-1). When an attempt to break his opponent’s arm failed to end the fight, Tyson landed a head-butt that opened a cut near McBride’s left eye. Still desperate and low on stamina, Tyson proceeded to hit below the belt before sagging to the canvas in the closing seconds of the round. When Tyson refused to answer the bell for the seventh, veteran referee Joe Cortez “looked stunned,” according to the Boston Globe’s Ron Borges. Tyson led on two cards and trailed on a third when the fight was called, but he was clearly out of gas and momentum was not with him.

“I do not have the stomach for this,” Tyson told Showtime interviewer Jim Gray after leaving the ring. “I don’t have the guts to be in this sport anymore. My heart is not into this anymore.” He also apologized to the 15,472 paid attendance at the MCI Center “whom had roared his name when he entered the ring less than an hour earlier,” according to Borges.

The $5 million payday will erase only a fraction of an enormous debt that caused Tyson to declare bankruptcy in 2003. One report says he owes more than $40 million [1].

The disgraced former champion also told reporters he is “going to look into my missionary work,” according to Reuters. “There is some Christian missionary work that was interested in letting me come to Bosnia, go to Rwanda, go to different countries to help with aid and food for people that are in dire need.”



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USA under pressure at climate talks

Thursday, December 8, 2005

The European Union, Canada, Indonesia and other nations at the United Nations’ climate talks in Montreal have put pressure on the United States. Participants at the meeting want the US to join the global Kyoto pact to limit greenhouse gas emissions, to curb extreme weather predictions from global warming.

Environment ministers from over 90 countries are meeting to break a deadlock over how to entice the United States, and other large developing nations such as India and China, to cut production of greenhouse gases. Washington has rejected the pact, saying mandatory emissions cuts would harm its economy.

The United States defended its policy of investing billions of dollars in cleaner technology to reduce emissions, brushing aside calls for it to commit to U.N. discussions on slowing climate change.

At the heart of the Montreal meeting is how to cut emissions after 2012, when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol climate change pact ends.



The Perfect Internet Product Cookbook?

By Hazel Leong

When deciding what kind of internet business you want to do, there are a few factors you need to look at before plunging into building your website.

Most affiliate marketers encounter this problem eventually. When it happens, remember it’s not intentional, so do not feel as if you have been victimized in some way.

The first affiliate Internet marketing tip is determine if starting your own program is right for you. A successful program requires both time and money. You must be willing to work with those that will be your affiliates to help them promote your products.

The Perfect Internet Product – A Cookbook?

So you’ve decided to go into business for yourself on the internet. You’ve heard it’s the perfect way to supplement your income with little or no investment. But what will you market to achieve fame and fortune?

Actually it all depends upon your goals and interests. You do need to offer something for which there is a proven demand. You need something that can be delivered cost effectively over the internet. You need something that you can easily locate the market for.

Why not write you own cookbook?

Why a cookbook?

* Everybody eats.

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* People are constantly looking for new ways to prepare their favorite foods.

* Many people are avid cookbook and recipe collectors.

* You can create an ebook that has practically no delivery cost. Profit Lance has taken the internet marketing world by storm! See profit lance reviews here.

* You can print hardcopies later from the profits of your ebook or you can use print-on-demand to have copies printed as needed.

* Most people have or can compile a collection of their favorite recipes.

Writing a cookbook involves pulling together some recipes, some photos or illustrations, and organizing your collection. You need some specialized theme to write your cookbook around. You can create a cookbook around a single food, a style of cooking, or around a purpose such as a charity.

Once you’ve written your cookbook, then your challenge may be in marketing it. As a seasoned cookbook author here are the elements I consider essential:

* A website to use in attracting visitors interested in your topic. Ideally, this website will contain content that gets you great search engine listings and traffic. A website can cost under $10 per month.

* A mailing list to discuss your cookbook or the type of food covered by your cookbook (to create interest in your cookbook). You can run your mailing list at no cost spending only an hour or so a week.

You may feel the frustration of being undervalued and lacking the kinds of challenges you are perfectly capable of living up to. If you are one of these people, then Internet marketing might be for you. There are factors that suggest Internet marketing might be a way of life you could enjoy and flourish in. These factors can be seen in your answers to some simple questions.

Remember that information on articles with good content as traffic-bringer of websites? This time it’s about making these articles serve your website better by using keyword suggestion tools that are offered for free. Profit Lance has taken the internet marketing world by storm! My reviews at

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This gives you incredible diversity in the products you choose, markets in which you do business and neighborhoods in which to sell, all from the comfort of your own home in front of your computer screen. You could possibly make several sales at once, but you will never have to deal with face-to-face rejection.

* A system on your website for taking orders. This can be as simple as a free Paypal account or more elaborate such as a shopping cart that can handle a variety of products. You can even have an affiliate program where you pay other webmasters for sending you referrals.

Putting together a cookbook is really little more than planning, getting organized, and then just doing it!

But can you really make big money selling your own cookbook? The answer to that very important question is that you can if you can generate enough interest or attract enough attention. That is where the majority of your work will come in. You will need to learn effective internet marketing techniques and implement them.

Since writing and publishing a cookbook does involve so little work, it can prove profitable even if you don’t sell a million copies a year. Your overhead will be so low that if you only earn a few thousand dollars a month, you will be doing great. The cookbook will sell for a long time, while requiring no additional work.

One of the secrets of many successful online entrepreneurs that I know is that they don’t try to make a fortune from just one product. Instead, they have several… perhaps a dozen products each generating a nice income. Combined, these products, generating multiple streams of income, allow these entrepreneurs to reach their online income goals.

Of all of the products that you could create and market online, a cookbook is one of the few requiring no specialized knowledge or training. So for many internet beginners, it makes sense to make their first product a cookbook. Start generating some quick income. Then focus on other related or unrelated products.

However, 10% of a $600 television is more money than 60% of a $40 software program, so you have to remember to consider the big picture when deciding what affiliate programs to join.

You can choose your area of expertise and become the expert you always wanted to be. All of these opportunities are open to you. You know you should go into Internet marketing when you can answer that you definitely do want to make more money doing something you enjoy with time left over for the people you love.

The successful marketer is engaging and is concerned about the welfare of his or her customers. Being concerned with customers reaps much benefit. For one, the customer, when he or she knows that the marketers they deal with care for them, will repeatedly do business with the company.

About the Author:

Profit Lance

has taken the internet marketing world by storm! See

profit lance reviews

here.

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=136170&ca=Marketing



Anxiety Dissolving Private Car Service Dc For Your Wedding Plans}

Anxiety Dissolving Private Car Service DC for Your Wedding Plans

by

MARK JONSH

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While many modes of travel are possible, DC car service alone will lessen anxiety. Taxis dont convey the right impression or offer an enjoyable experience. Rentals are also inappropriate for a honeymoon or destination wedding. Well deal with the driving, parking, and traffic, so you have few concerns about ground transportation. Your ride will be pleasant and prompt as your thoughts remain centered on romance and joy.

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Our company provides a collection of machines that consists of an array of vehicles. Even though all are newer, youll find a plethora of styles and rider capacities. Flamboyance and sophistication all find the answers within our fleet, and we can accommodate the entire family even when its absurdly large. From luxurious limousines, hummers, minibuses, to charters or DC Car service, our fleet is widely varied but standardly high quality. We have full licensure, bonds, and insurance coverage, so ride absent stress. Youll find that mechanical ability is high, and appearance is immaculate. Because all of our machines are worthy of your plans, dont stress about the booking. You can rest assured that your in-laws will be thrilled by the ride and your consideration.

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Our many fleet choices will leave your transportation needs fulfilled, and you will find a haven from anxiety within the auto. We offer luxurious interiors, complementary refreshments, and impeccable mechanics and aesthetics. Aware of the quality of the ride, youll find DC Airport sedan service is the perfect pairing to your trip. We rid ourselves of aging and flawed machines while performing due maintenance and cleanings on the ones that we use. We carry all appropriate licenses, bonds, and insurance coverages as further demonstrations of our value.

By providing the liberty to enjoy the ride without stress or worry about transport, we relieve your honeymoon or wedding stress. Book transportation via the Internet in a few minutes and ask for accommodations via customer support agents. Theyve accessible around the clock to ensure that your ride meets your vision. Experience a suitable ride to your wedding or honeymoon flight without effort, stress, or worry when you book transportation with our company.

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Article Source:

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Family Coalition Party candidate Bob Innes, Hamilton East—Stoney Creek

Monday, October 1, 2007

Robert (Bob) Innes is running for the Family Coalition Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Hamilton East—Stoney Creek riding. 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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Iceland and United Kingdom in diplomatic dispute over financial crisis

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Relations between Iceland and the United Kingdom are deteriorating after the two nations fell out over the current financial crisis. When Iceland nationalised first Landsbanki and then Kaupthing Bank the Financial Services Authority only took on domestic assets, leaving British customers with subsidiary banks out of pocket. While Britain feels Iceland should also pay out to their citizens, Iceland blame the UK for triggering the crisis by using the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to freeze the UK assets of Icelandic banks.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Iceland should pay out up to €20,887 (£16,448) of UK investors’ money in the banks, particularly Icesave, an online company owned by Landsbanki which had around 300,000 accounts owned by UK customers. It will cost an estimated 2.4 billion pounds to compensate them, and it looks likely the UK will foot that bill.

Alistair Darling, the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer, has said that individuals with accounts will see their money again but other accounts are not guaranteed – leaving governmental, corporate and charitable deposits at risk of being lost. UK local authorities could lose £799 million.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Whose side are you on – Britain or Iceland?
Add or view comments

“The prime minister made clear the behavior of the Icelandic authorities had been unacceptable, and we had found it very difficult to get information from them,” said Michael Ellam, a spokesperson for Brown. A delegation has been sent to Reykjavik from the UK to try and solve the dispute amicably.

However, fears that the crisis may escalate have led to the pound becoming heavily devalued. The pound hit its lowest level for five years versus the US dollar after Brown threatened to freeze the assets of all Icelandic companies in the UK, which employ around 100,000 people.

The last time the two nations had a dispute, dubbed the Cod Wars, was in the 1970s. Iceland declared an exclusive fishing zone and began to cut the nets of British trawlers entering the area. That dispute came to a head in 1976 when a UK naval vessel with nuclear arms rammed an Icelandic ship that had been cutting nets. After this a compromise was reached to allow a limited number of British ships in the area.



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Dairy cattle with names produce more milk, according to new study

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Giving a cow a name and treating her as an individual with “more personal touch” can increase milk production, so says a scientific research published in the online “Anthrozoos,” which is described as a “multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals”.

The Newcastle University‘s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development’s (of the Newcastle University Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering) researchers have found that farmers who named their dairy cattle Ermintrude, Daisy, La vache qui rit, Buttercup, Betsy, or Gertrude, improved their overall milk yield by almost 500 pints (284 liters) annually. It means therefore, an average-sized dairy farm’s production increases by an extra 6,800 gallons a year.

“Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if they are given a bit more one-to-one attention,” said Dr Catherine Douglas, lead researcher of the university’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. “By placing more importance on the individual, such as calling a cow by her name or interacting with the animal more as it grows up, we can not only improve the animal’s welfare and her perception of humans, but also increase milk production,” she added.

Drs Douglas and Peter Rowlinson have submitted the paper’s conclusion: “What our study shows is what many good, caring farmers have long since believed. Our data suggests that, on the whole, UK dairy farmers regard their cows as intelligent beings capable of experiencing a range of emotions.” The scientific paper also finds that “if cows are slightly fearful of humans, they could produce [the hormone] cortisol, which suppresses milk production,” Douglas noted. “Farmers who have named their cows, probably have a better relationship with them. They’re less fearful, more relaxed and less stressed, so that could have an effect on milk yield,” she added.

South Norfolk goldtop-milk producer Su Mahon, one of the country’s top breeder of Jersey dairy herds, agreed with Newcastle’s findings. “We treat all our cows like one of the family and maybe that’s why we produce more milk,” said Mrs Mahon. “The Jersey has got a mind of its own and is very intelligent. We had a cow called Florence who opened all the gates and we had to get the welder to put catches on to stop her. One of our customers asked me the other day: ‘Do your cows really know their names?’ I said: I really haven’t a clue. We always call them by their names – Florence or whatever. But whether they really do, goodness knows,” she added.

The researchers’ comparative study of production from the country’s National Milk Records reveals that “dairy farmers who reported calling their cows by name got 2,105 gallons (7,938 liters) out of their cows, compared with 2,029 gallons (7,680 liters) per 10-month lactation cycle, and regardless of the farm size or how much the cows were fed. (Some 46 percent of the farmers named their cows.)”

The Newcastle University team which has interviewed 516 UK dairy farmers, has discovered that almost half – 48% – called the cows by name, thereby cutting stress levels and reported a higher milk yield, than the 54% that did not give their cattle names and treated as just one of a herd. The study also reveals cows were made more docile while being milked.

“We love our cows here at Eachwick, and every one of them has a name,” said Dennis Gibb, with his brother Richard who co-owns Eachwick Red House Farm outside of Newcastle. “Collectively, we refer to them as ‘our ladies,’ but we know every one of them and each one has her own personality. They aren’t just our livelihood, they’re part of the family,” Gibb explained.

“My brother-in-law Bobby milks the cows and nearly all of them have their own name, which is quite something when there are about 200 of them. He would be quite happy to talk about every one of them. I think this research is great but I am not at all surprised by it. When you are working with cows on a daily basis you do get to know them individually and give then names.” Jackie Maxwell noted. Jackie and her husband Neill jointly operate the award-winning Doddington Dairy at Wooler, Doddington, Northumberland, which makes organic ice cream and cheeses with milk from its own Friesian cows.

But Marcia Endres, a University of Minnesota associate professor of dairy science, has criticized the Newcastle finding. “Individual care is important and could make a difference in health and productivity. But I would not necessarily say that just giving cows a name would be a foolproof indicator of better care,” she noted. According to a 2007 The Scientist article, named or otherwise, dairy cattle make six times more milk today than they did in the 1990s. “One reason is growth hormone that many U.S. farmers now inject their cows with to increase their milk output; another is milking practices that extend farther into cows’ pregnancies, according to the article; selective breeding also makes for lots of lactation,” it states.

Critics claimed the research was flawed and confused a correlation with causation. “Basically they asked farmers how to get more milk and whatever half the farmers said was the conclusion,” said Hank Campbell, author of Scientific Blogging. In 1996, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs provided for a complex new cattle passport system where farmers were issued with passport identities. The first calf born under the new regime were given names like “UK121216100001.”

Dr Douglas, however, counters that England doesn’t permit dairy cattle to be injected hormones. The European Union and Canada have banned recombinant bovine growth hormone (rGBH), which increases mastitis infection, requiring antibiotics treatment of infected animals. According to the Center for Food Safety, rGBH-treated cows also have higher levels of the hormone insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), which may be associated with cancer.

In August 2008, Live Science published a study which revealed that cows have strange sixth sense of magnetic direction and are not as prone to cow-tipping. It cited a study of Google Earth satellite images which shows that “herds of cattle tend to face in the north-south direction of Earth’s magnetic lines while grazing or resting.”

Newcastle University is a research intensive university in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north-east of England. It was established as a School of Medicine and Surgery in 1834 and became the “University of Newcastle upon Tyne” by an Act of Parliament in August 1963.

The School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development is a school of the Newcastle University Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering, a faculty of Newcastle University. It was established in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne as the College of Physical Science in 1871 for the teaching of physical sciences, and was part of Durham University. It existed until 1937 when it joined the College of Medicine to form King’s College, Durham.



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Queen’s Speech sets out Coalition government’s final year agenda

Friday, June 6, 2014

File:Queen Elizabeth II delivering 2013 Queen’s Speech.jpg

Queen Elizabeth II formally reopened Parliament on Wednesday and announced the legislative agenda of the UK government for the final year of the Coalition’s five year term. New measures introduced covered crime, the economy, energy and house building.

Contents

  • 1 Business and economy
  • 2 Crime and law
  • 3 Fracking
  • 4 Reaction
  • 5 Sources

The next year of legislative changes would, the speech claimed, “deliver on [the government’s] long-term plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society”. On economics, it promised the government would continue to lower taxes, produce an updated Charter for Budget Responsibility to “ensure that future governments spend taxpayers’ money responsibly”, and continue reduction of the deficit.

On employment law, the Queen’s Speech announced reduction in employment tribunal delays and plans to try and “improve the fairness of contracts for low paid workers” — a response to “zero-hours” contracts. The Institute of Directors support reforms to zero-hours contracts, specifically by removing “exclusivity” clauses. The speech also announced the introduction of a “collective pension” system similar to schemes in use in the Netherlands.

The government is also to increase penalties on companies that do not pay employees minimum wage, and reform National Insurance contributions by self-employed people. The government also plans to extend the ISA and Premium Bond savings schemes and abolish the 10% tax rate on savings. The speech also promised more house building, and also to introduce legislation to reduce the use of plastic bags.

The speech announced the government would seek to pass a new Serious Crime Bill “to tackle child neglect, disrupt serious organised crime and strengthen powers to seize the proceeds of crime”. Another bill will be introduced to deal with modern slavery and human trafficking and to support victims of these offences. The speech also said the government “will lead efforts to prevent sexual violence in conflict worldwide”.

The Serious Crime Bill would also include an increase in the sentence for those who bring about “cyberattacks which result in loss of life, serious illness or injury or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof”. Under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, these are currently subject to a ten year prison sentence, but the punishment would now risk imprisonment for life. Punishment for cyberattacks that cause “a significant risk of severe economic or environmental damage or social disruption” would increase from the current ten year maximum tariff to fourteen years.

Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group said existing laws already allow effective prosecution of those engaging in cyberattacks.

The speech also announced legislation would be introduced “to provide that where a person acts heroically, responsibly or for the benefit of others, this will be taken into account by the courts”.

Constituents would be able to “recall” an MP who had been found guilty of misconduct under a proposed law that will be debated. The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith described the current plans as “meaningless” and said voters had been “duped”. The Bill would force a by-election if 10% of voters signed a petition within eight weeks, but only if a Commons committee had decided the MP could be recalled. This latter requirement will make it “impossible to recall anyone” according to Goldsmith.

Business minister Michael Fallon defended the recall proposals: “we have to protect MPs from being recalled by people who just disagree with them[…] What you have to ensure is an MP can’t be hounded out just because people disagree with them back in their constituency.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he agreed with Goldsmith the bill was not perfect, and he wanted “a radical California-style recall” system, but he had settled for a “modest” bill to satisfy “Conservative Party resistance”. Goldsmith claimed Clegg had been “the architect of the current Recall Bill”.

Tim Aker, head of policy for the UK Independence Party, said: “The decision to only offer recall voting on a signed-off-by-Parliament-basis reflects a political class that does not know, does not trust and certainly does not represent its people.”

The speech included measures to make it easier for businesses to engage in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of shale gas. The Institute of Directors said laws “must be updated if the UK is to enjoy the benefits of our shale potential”, specifically by scrapping laws on trespass to allow the gas extraction to occur. The British Chamber of Commerce also support such a reform: “While fracking may be unpalatable to some, it is absolutely essential, and business will support legislative measures to exploit Britain’s shale gas deposits”. Activists from Greenpeace fenced off Prime Minister David Cameron’s home in Oxfordshire with a sign reading “We apologise for any inconvenience while we frack under your home”, and delivered a £50 cheque — identified as the maximum compensation suggested for property owners.

Simon Clydedale from Greenpeace UK said of the fracking proposals: “The prime minister is about to auction off over half of Britain to the frackers, including national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty like the Cotswolds. Fracking won’t deliver energy on a meaningful scale for years, if ever, by which time we’ll need to have moved away from dirty fossil fuels and towards high-tech clean power if we’re to head off dangerous climate change.”

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, spoke in opposition to the fracking proposals after the Queen’s Speech: “Not only does this bill defy public opinion, it denies people a voice. To allow fracking companies to drill under people’s homes and land without their permission is to ignore public interest in pursuit of the vested interests of a few.” A poll conducted by YouGov found 74% of respondents opposed the plans.

Following the Queen’s Speech, politicians from all parties debated the direction of the government in the year ahead.

Prime Minister David Cameron said that the Queen’s Speech showcased “a packed programme of a busy and radical government”, whose “long-term economic plan is working but there is much, much more to do”, and it would “take the rest of this Parliament and the next to finish the task of turning our country around”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “We would have a Queen’s Speech with legislation which would make work pay, reform our banks, freeze energy bills and build homes again in Britain. A Queen’s Speech which signals a new direction for Britain, not one which offers more of the same.”

Cameron described Miliband as having a “rag bag, pick-and-mix selection of statist Seventies ideas [… a] revival of Michael Foot’s policies paid for by Len McCluskey’s money” — a reference to controversies surrounding the substantial funding Labour gets from trade union Unite.

Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron said of the Queen’s Speech: “I suspect the pensions proposals will be around for a generation or more and will be remembered. It’s about making sure they are fairer, cheaper, more secure, more reliable and potentially better for people.”

Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd said: “This was an uninspired Queen’s Speech delivered by a government that has well and truly run out of steam.”

Angus Robertson, the leader of the Scottish National Party in Westminster, said the Queen’s Speech barely mentioned Scotland: “The absence of any mention at all of the Westminster parties’ plans for Scotland in the Queen’s Speech is extraordinary. […] In this – the year of the biggest opportunity in Scotland’s history – Scotland hardly even gets a nod at Westminster, and not a single mention of future plans for improving government in Scotland.”

The speech made brief mention of Scotland: “My government will continue to implement new financial powers for the Scottish Parliament and make the case for Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom.”



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Signalling issues and stalled train disrupt service on Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit lines

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Train services on two of Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit system lines, both operated by SMRT Corporation, were disrupted at separate times yesterday in two incidents.

During the morning rush hour, six stations of the Circle MRT Line (CCL) were without train service in both directions during the morning rush hour following what SMRT described as “intermittent signal interference”. The company first announced the signalling fault on Twitter at 7:37 am, advising commuters to anticipate 10 additional minutes of travel time in the commute between Pasir Panjang and one-north stations. The fault was announced rectified two minutes later by another tweet from SMRT, though delays were still expected in the direction of Dhoby Ghaut station due to congestion at stations and on trains.

SMRT issued another tweet at 8:09 am, alerting commuters to another signalling fault affecting the CCL, on the stretch between Botanic Gardens and HarbourFront stations.

Initially informing commuters that the issue would add 10 minutes of travel time along the affected stretch, the company later revised this to 20, and finally, 30 minutes in subsequent tweets, attributing the delays to “intermittent signalling faults”.

The company later announced via Twitter service unavailable between Botanic Gardens and Marymount stations at 9:06 am, whilst offering free bus services along the length of the CCL. SMRT later amended the announcement in another tweet to encompass the stretch between Botanic Gardens and Serangoon stations. Train service was restored along the affected stretch by about 10:27 am.

SMRT had previously experienced disruptions in service on the CCL for five consecutive days in September, also attributable to signalling issues, leading to authorities briefly switching off mobile signals at four CCL stations for two hours on September 2 during investigations. Most of the disruptions took place during peak hours, leading to suspicion the telecommunications network could be interfering with the train signalling system. After tests proved inconclusive following the lack of a disruption that day, the decision was made to turn off telecommunications signals in the event of another disruption.

“It’s very frustrating”, commented a commuter, 41-year-old Joseph Lim. “The trains are sometimes moving and sometimes getting stuck. I don’t know whether to stay on board. The communication has been insufficient”.

Another commuter, 29-year-old Alice Pan, stated, “I am now stuck at the station with no way to get to work. I can’t get on any SBS buses because they are full and there’s no free shuttle bus in sight. I can’t get any cabs either”. Pan was stranded in a train for an hour at Lorong Chuan station.

36-year-old Sean Chew, said of his experience during the incident, “I was stuck at Buona Vista for more than one hour. I didn’t want to take the bus because it was very crowded. So no choice, had to wait […] Luckily I just finished work.”

However, following the morning incidents, a stalled train on the East West MRT Line led to a half-hour disruption during the evening peak hour on the same day. SMRT informed commuters of the disruption, between Queenstown and Outram Park stations in the direction of Pasir Ris station, on Twitter at 5:48 pm, attributing it to a “train fault” at Tiong Bahru station. In the same tweet, SMRT estimated that the issue would be resolved around 6:10 pm. Due to the disruption, the company offered free bus services along the affected stretch in a subsequent tweet.

At 6:20 pm, SMRT announced on Twitter that it had cleared the disruption by removing the stalled train, and that trains were “progressively return[ing] to normal speed”. The company continued to offer free bus services until 7 pm, when it announced the termination of the service on Twitter.

In the wake of yesterday’s incidents, commuters criticized SMRT’s handling of the matter on social media, citing SMRT’s failure to provide sufficient information or sufficient buses for commuters, and uploading photos of the congestion.