Bangladesh security tightened following Pilkhana massacre and Bashundhara City fire

Friday, March 20, 2009

Following the Pilkhana massacre which occurred February 25 and 26 leaving 74 dead and the inferno at the Bashundhara City shopping mall complex March 13 leaving seven dead, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said security measures are being tightened countrywide across Bangladesh.

Fire drills will be enacted at all key-point installations (KPI). Fire fighting systems will be examined by the fire brigade and the public works department (PWD) to ensure functionality. Security measures will be enhanced supplementing areas under private security such as at the Bashundhara City Complex.

The Fire Service and Civil Defence Department requires modernization and needs new equipment to fight fires past the sixth floor of buildings. The Fire Brigade says it needs turntable ladders, snorkels, foam-tenders, lighting units, emergency tenders, fireproof uniforms, and rescue ropes for fire fighting and rescue operations. Transportation to fires is also an issue due to narrow roads, low electrical wires and congestion.

The Bangladesh National Building Code requires fire fighting equipment installed in buildings over seven floors. This code is to be monitored by authorities to ensure compliance with the new guidelines and to make sure buildings are being maintained.

The Bashundhara City Complex opened Monday for shoppers two days after Friday’s blaze. A probe is underway to determine the cause of the fire and to assess structural damage.

Loss of life was minimized as the blaze broke out on a Friday, the beginning of the weekend in Bangladesh, so offices in the upper floors were empty. The lower eight floors are used for shopping and the upper floors are all Bashundhara Group offices.

The mall is valued at Tk 7.0 billion (US$100 million). It is not known if the complex is covered by fire insurance.

It is estimated that it will take over two years to rebuild the area damaged by flames which were burned down to a skeleton. Bashundhara City’s technical advisor, Latifur Rahman, estimated damages at Tk 2.0 billion (US$29m).

Only one television cameraman has been allowed in to film the burnt area. None of the 2,500 shops, cinemas or cafes were burnt by the inferno. The seventh and eighth floors still experience smoke damage, and there was water damage to merchandise.

A three member committee is currently investigating the cause of the fire which will consist of Iqbal Khan Chowdhury, joint secretary of the ministry, representatives of the police, IGP Noor Muhammad, and fire brigade, Director General Abu Nayeem Md Shahidullah. The committee is required to report within the week with their findings. The forensics department is also sifting through the burnt remains.

The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries has also formed a committee which has begun interviewing witnesses and recording their testimony alongside the government committee.

It has been discovered that 150 closed circuit cameras were not being used when the fire started. Another mystery is why the mall fire fighting system has been found unused.

Why the fire burnt so fiercely is a matter to think….These matters seem to be mysterious

“In the shopping mall there is an ultra-technology elevator which runs even without electricity but we have found that locked,” Iqbal Khan Chowdhury, joint secretary (Police) of the home ministry, said. “Why the fire burnt so fiercely is a matter to think. We have to see if there was any incendiary substance there. These matters seem to be mysterious.”

Mall management has been asked to submit substances and items which would have been in the upper floors when the fire started. The fire erupted on the 17th floor and spread quickly to the two floors above and engulfed the three floors below. The aerial ladders belonging to the Fire Service and Civil Defence reached as high as the 13th floor of the 21-storey building.

Videos have been sent to the United States (US) for examination to assist in determining the cause of the fire and to help in the damage assessment. Experts from the US are expected to arrive soon.

Firefighters were brought to the rooftop of the 20-storey tower by helicopter. The only fatality in this operation was Baki Billa, a firefighter of Bashundhara City firefighting department, who fell when climbing down a rope from a helicopter to the roof of the building. Three other firefighters made the transition safely. At this same time, the chief security officer was safely rescued by the Bangladesh Air Force helicopter, a Bell 212. Six security officers of the complex also lost their lives.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson announces bidders for additional Tramlink vehicles

Saturday, March 26, 2011

On Thursday, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson announced the shortlist of bidders to supply up to ten further trams to Transport for London (TfL) for use on the city’s Tramlink network in Croydon. The trams will be used to supply additional capacity on the network between Elmers End, central Croydon and Therapia Lane — one of the most congested parts of the route.

TfL, who purchased the Tramlink network from Tramtrack Croydon Ltd. in 2008, announced the plans late January, after submitting the tender to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) on January 29. According to the notice, the additional trams will operate approximately 75,000km per year, will be needed for “at least 10, but not more than 20 years” and can be either new build or existing vehicles that can be modified — at a reasonable cost — to run on the Tramlink infrastructure.

The tram fleet is currently made up of 24 Bombardier CR4000 trams, which were constructed for the opening of the 28km network between 1998 and 2000. 22 of these trams are currently needed to operate the three tram routes each day, and the new service is expected to require at least an additional five trams daily, bringing about the need for a boost to the fleet levels.

The shortlist to supply the trams consists of City of Edinburgh/CAF, Stadler (Stadler Pankow GmBH) and Pesa (Pojazdy Szynowe PESA Bydgoszcz S.A.Holding, and the the three consortia will now be invited to submit proposals to supply the additional trams. The Invitation to Tender will run for four weeks.

It is not currently known whether the bids made by Stadler and Pesa will be for new-build or second-hand vehicles, however the bid from Edinburgh/CAF is to use a number of the currently-dormant trams that were constructed for that city’s own tram network. The system has had several set backs since construction began, with the network now set to open in stages with a number of tram lines (but not the trams to operate them) being cancelled, leading to a large surplus of vehicles that could be hired out in the short term. The trams are amongst some of the longest and heaviest in Europe, though, and will require a large amount of modification to enable them to be able to operate on Croydon’s network if the bid is successful.

Shortly after the announcement, whilst inspecting one of the network’s current trams at East Croydon tram stop, Boris Johnson said: “I have no greater responsibility as Mayor than to ensure people can move around this city with ease, comfort and reliability.

“Trams in Croydon have proved a major success and this is reflected in journey numbers which have soared by 45 per cent since the network opened in 2000.

“I look forward to the extra vehicles developing this vital, much-appreciated, and indeed attractive, form of transport further.”

Funding for the new trams is expected to largely come from TfL, however the London Borough of Croydon has also confirmed a £3m contribution to the project. This will also include the refurbishment of tram stop surrounds.

Croydon Council Leader Mike Fisher said: “This is looking like a great deal for Croydon and shows the benefits of an ambitious local authority and committed Mayor working together, pooling resources and expertise.

“There is real support to get additional trams for Croydon to keep pace with growing demand for Tramlink services and also to secure major improvements for pedestrians and transport users around and between East and West Croydon stations.”

TfL anticipates that, providing a successful bid is made, the new trams would be delivered to the network’s depot at Therapia Lane in late 2011, with an entry into service from early 2012.

Polish Archbishop resigns after spying revelations

Monday, January 8, 2007

This article features in a News Brief from Audio Wikinews:

Stanislaw Wielgus, the Archbishop of Warsaw, resigned yesterday after admitting to have worked for the secret police of Poland during the operation of the Communist government. At a mass in Warsaw Cathedral, the Archbishop was to have marked his formal installation. Instead, he tendered his resignation. The resignation came at the request of Pope Benedict XVI, who had appointed Wielgus one month previously.

The reaction to the resignation is mixed. Polish President Lech Kaczy?ski, who attended the service, applauded the resignation. Wielgus’ supporters gathered outside the cathedral, yelling “Stay with us”. Those opposed to the Archbishop also gathered outside, carrying banners that said “non possumus” (“we cannot allow that”).

Since the late 1960s, the former Archbishop spied on members of the Church for about 20 years. After the Gazeta Polska newspaper published allegations of his actions on December 20, Wielgus denied them. However, when church officials announced they had obtained documents showing that Wielgus had willingly co-operated with the secret services, he acknowledged that the accusations were true. There is some suspicion[1] that the documents were leaked by communists, in retribution for the Catholic Church’s role in the fall of European communism.

A poll, conducted by the TNS OBOP Institute and published January 5 in the Polish daily Dziennik Polska-Europa-?wiat, revealed that 26% supported the Archbishop’s immediate resignation, 41% thought that he would have to resign “after some explanations”, 20% believed that he should keep his position, and 13% had “no opinion”.

Cardinal Józef Glemp will retain the position of apostolic administrator until a replacement is chosen.

New legal British tender revealed

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

For the first time in 40 years, the Royal Mint has chosen a new set of designs for the reverse of the coins, first introduced in the Coin Design Competition 2005. The designer, Matthew Dent of Bangor, North Wales, was paid £35,000 (GBP) for his designs, which depict the Shield of the Royal Arms spread over the six denominations below £1, with the entire shield embossed on the £1 coin.

The new coins are expected to come into circulation this summer – and Mr Dent envisions a success: “I can imagine people playing with them, having them on a tabletop and enjoying them. I felt it was important to have a theme running through from one to another.” he said, referring to the puzzle-like nature of the new design, which requires the coins to be arranged in a particular way to see the Shield of the Royal Arms.

The chief executive of the Royal Mint, Andrew Stafford, has said that the obverse of the coins will still depict the portrait of the Queen, like it has since 1998. The old coins will remain legal tender until they slip out of circulation.

Taxi (Season 3) Dvd Review}

Taxi (Season 3) DVD Review

by

Britt Gillette –

With its biting humor and eccentric characters, Taxi is widely lauded as one of the top sitcoms in television history. The brainchild of James L. Brooks, whose golden touch played a role in such hits as The Andy Griffith Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Simpsons, Taxi continues to entertain and gather generations of new fans through syndicated reruns. With a superb cast and great writers, the show introduced the world to the comedic talents of Hollywood mainstays like Danny DeVito, Tony Danza, Marilu Henner, Christopher Lloyd, and Andy Kaufman.

Taxi follows the daily operations of the Sunshine Cab Company, a New York City taxi service run by tyrannical dispatcher Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito). De Palmas self-centered sarcastic remarks are often dispensed from the safety of his pathetically small office in the corner of the body shop, while various employees like Alex Reiger (Judd Hirsch), Tony Banta (Danza), and Elaine Nardo (Henner) socialize and plot against their common enemy. Add foreign mechanic Latka Gravas (Kaufman) to the mix and all the ingredients are in place for hours of endless laughter. As the characters deal with problems of varying degree in their personal lives, the audience is treated to some of the best comedy ever produced for the small screen.

The Taxi (Season 3) DVD features a number of hilarious episodes including the season premiere Louies Rival in which Louies girlfriend Zena dumps him for a bartender at Marios. Danny DeVito provides another hilarious performance as the heartless Louie Other notable episodes include The Costume Party in which the gang crashes a luxury yacht party in the hopes of meeting some famous people, and Bobby and the Critic in which Bobby happens upon one of the theater critics who recently bashed his performance.

Below is a list of episodes included on the Taxi (Season 3) DVD:

Episode 47 (Louies Rival) Air Date: 11-19-1980

Episode 48 (Tonys Sister and Jim) Air Date: 11-26-1980

Episode 49 (Fathers of the Bride) Air Date: 12-03-1980

YouTube Preview Image

Episode 50 (Elaines Strange Triangle) Air Date: 12-10-1980

Episode 51 (Going Home) Air Date: 12-17-1980

Episode 52 (The Ten Percent Solution) Air Date: 01-07-1981

Episode 53 (The Call of the Mild) Air Date: 01-21-1981

Episode 54 (Latkas Cookies) Air Date: 02-05-1981

Episode 55 (Thy Bosss Wife) Air Date: 02-12-1981

Episode 56 (The Costume Party) Air Date: 02-19-1981

Episode 57 (Elaines Old Friend) Air Date: 02-26-1981

Episode 58 (Out of Commission) Air Date: 03-12-1981

Episode 59 (Zen and the Art of Cab Driving) Air Date: 03-19-1981

Episode 60 (Louies Mother) Air Date: 03-26-1981

Episode 61 (Bobbys Roommate) Air Date: 04-09-1981

Episode 62 (Louie Bumps Into an Old Lady) Air Date: 04-16-1981

Episode 63 (Bobby and the Critic) Air Date: 04-30-1981

Episode 64 (On the Job: Part 1) Air Date: 05-07-1981

Episode 65 (On the Job: Part 2) Air Date: 05-14-1981

Episode 66 (Latka the Playboy) Air Date: 05-21-1981

Britt Gillette is author of

The DVD Report

, a blog where you can find more reviews like this one of the

Taxi (Season 3) DVD

.

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Taxi (Season 3) DVD Review }

Journalists escape after being kidnapped in Syria

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

At least two journalists were released after being held captive in Syria for approximately five days according to NBC News. Turkish journalist Aziz Akyava? and US journalist Richard Engel went missing on Thursday. Both work for NBC News and were on assignment in the country.

“After being kidnapped and held for five days inside Syria by an unknown group, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his production crew members have been freed unharmed. We are pleased to report they are safely out of the country,” said NBC News in a statement on their website.

Earlier NTV, the Turkish language partner of MSNBC, reported Akyava? may have been “arrested and detained in Syria” ((tr)) Turkish language: Suriye’de tutuklan?p tutuklanmad???na , but they also added, “[we] do not have any information yet.” ((tr)) Turkish language: henüz herhangi bir bilgi yok The Kuwait News Agency reported Akyava? may have been kidnapped, but also reported Engel was the one who announced Akyava? was missing.

The journalists went missing after crossing into Syria from the Turkish border. NBC News says Engel and others were tied up, blindfolded, and put in the back of a truck and driven to possibly near the Syrian town of Ma’arrat Misrin. When they were moved to another location, the kidnappers accidentally approached a Syrian rebel checkpoint and a gunfight broke out. Two unnamed captors were killed in the attack, but Engel and others were able to escape. No one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and no one was injured. NBC News never had contact with their captors and a ransom demand was never made.

Little was initially known about the situation. At first, NBC didn’t officially acknowledge either of the journalists were missing and according to Gawker, they website was “subject to a news blackout — one to which Gawker agreed until now — for at least the past 24 hours.”

Engel is a regular user of the social networking website Twitter and has not posted a ‘Tweet’ since December 6. His last official report was filed on December 11.

In February, Wikinews reported journalists were apparently targeted in Syrian government attacks, and some of them killed. On February 9, a Syrian citizen journalist named ‘Omar’ was airing a live feed of the bombardment of Homs when several rockets struck near the camera’s position, nearly destroying it. On February 21, a member of the Homs Media Center was killed by a rocket as Syrian forces continued their bombardment of the city for an eighteenth straight day. A day later, Marie Colvin, a Sunday Times journalist, and award winning French photographer Rémi Ochlik, were killed when rockets again hit the media center. At least two others were injured in the attack, French journalist Edith Bouvier and British photographer Paul Conroy.

Gordon Parks, African American filmmaker, dies at 93

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Renowned African American artist Gordon Parks, known for his photography, film direction, and autobiographical works, including the book and film The Learning Tree, died Tuesday at his home in New York. He was 93.

Parks was a pioneering black artist with an impressive list of honors and accomplishments, including at least 40 honorary doctorate degrees. He was the first African American staff photographer for Life magazine, where he worked from 1948 to 1972. President Reagan presented him with the National Medal of Arts in 1988. He published at least five semi or wholly autobiographical books.

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchannan Parks was born November 30, 1912, in Fort Scott, Kansas, the youngest of 15 children. After his mother’s death when he was 16, he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he attended high school. He dropped out in order to find work during increasingly hard times, traveling extensively in the North and Northwest looking for jobs.

In 1938, he bought his first camera and experimented with both documentary and fashion photography. At age 30, he won a fellowship and traveled to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration and later for the Office of War Information.

During his time at the FSA, Parks composed photo-essays critical of the racial and social prejudices many faced. His work drew attention both to himself and to the poverty and social injustices of the time.

After the beginning of the war, Parks moved to Harlem, where he found a job as a fashion photographer for Vogue and continued to take socially provocative photos of slum life in the city. It was these photos that convinced Life’s photography editor to hire him.

In 1962, Parks wrote The Learning Tree, based on his Kansas childhood. The book was a success, and Parks later directed the film version, for which he also wrote the screenplay and the music. The Learning Tree was one of the first 25 films placed on the National Film Registry. Parks next directed Shaft and its successful sequel, Shaft’s Big Score, as well as a blaxploitation comedy called Supercops.

Parks’ other artistic achievements include a ballet, written about Martin Luther King, Jr., four other memoirs, a collection of poetry, several original musical compositions and at least one other fictional, non-autobiographical novel. Collections and exhibits of his photography have traveled extensively within and beyond the United States.

He is survived by his three ex-wives, Sally Alvis, Elizabeth Campbell, and Ms. Young; his daughter, Toni Parks Parson, and his son, David, from his first marriage; and a daughter, Leslie Parks Harding, from his second marriage; five grandchildren; and five great grandchildren. A son, Gordon Parks Jr., died in 1979.

Connecticut becomes third U.S. state to allow same-sex civil unions

Saturday, October 1, 2005

In the state of Connecticut today, a law allowing civil unions for same-sex couples took effect.

The law is unique; it allows civil unions for same-sex couples with full benefits of a regular marriage, while at the same time defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Heterosexual couples are not allowed to receive civil unions. The license application will be identical to one for a regular marriage, except “bride” and “groom” are replaced with “party 1” and “party 2.”

The Connecticut civil unions law is the first gay marriage law to be passed voluntarily; lawsuits forced fellow New England states Vermont and Massachusetts to allow same-sex unions. Vermont has civil unions while Massachusetts allows actual same-sex marriage. Some localities have recognized same-sex couples in the form of a domestic partnership.

“This is a historic day. We’re beyond ecstatic.” said Randy Sharp, 46, of Plainville, who was applying for a license with his partner Jeff Blanchette, 44.

Not everyone is happy about the law. Already, opponents are lobbying for an amendment that will ban same-sex marriage. “Today was a sad day for our state. It was a sad day for our state’s children.” said Brian Brown, executive director of Family Institute of Connecticut. The group held a protest outside the Capitol which was attended by 50 people. Last year eleven states voted on Election Day to prohibit same-sex marriage.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson announces bidders for additional Tramlink vehicles

Saturday, March 26, 2011

On Thursday, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson announced the shortlist of bidders to supply up to ten further trams to Transport for London (TfL) for use on the city’s Tramlink network in Croydon. The trams will be used to supply additional capacity on the network between Elmers End, central Croydon and Therapia Lane — one of the most congested parts of the route.

TfL, who purchased the Tramlink network from Tramtrack Croydon Ltd. in 2008, announced the plans late January, after submitting the tender to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) on January 29. According to the notice, the additional trams will operate approximately 75,000km per year, will be needed for “at least 10, but not more than 20 years” and can be either new build or existing vehicles that can be modified — at a reasonable cost — to run on the Tramlink infrastructure.

The tram fleet is currently made up of 24 Bombardier CR4000 trams, which were constructed for the opening of the 28km network between 1998 and 2000. 22 of these trams are currently needed to operate the three tram routes each day, and the new service is expected to require at least an additional five trams daily, bringing about the need for a boost to the fleet levels.

The shortlist to supply the trams consists of City of Edinburgh/CAF, Stadler (Stadler Pankow GmBH) and Pesa (Pojazdy Szynowe PESA Bydgoszcz S.A.Holding, and the the three consortia will now be invited to submit proposals to supply the additional trams. The Invitation to Tender will run for four weeks.

It is not currently known whether the bids made by Stadler and Pesa will be for new-build or second-hand vehicles, however the bid from Edinburgh/CAF is to use a number of the currently-dormant trams that were constructed for that city’s own tram network. The system has had several set backs since construction began, with the network now set to open in stages with a number of tram lines (but not the trams to operate them) being cancelled, leading to a large surplus of vehicles that could be hired out in the short term. The trams are amongst some of the longest and heaviest in Europe, though, and will require a large amount of modification to enable them to be able to operate on Croydon’s network if the bid is successful.

Shortly after the announcement, whilst inspecting one of the network’s current trams at East Croydon tram stop, Boris Johnson said: “I have no greater responsibility as Mayor than to ensure people can move around this city with ease, comfort and reliability.

“Trams in Croydon have proved a major success and this is reflected in journey numbers which have soared by 45 per cent since the network opened in 2000.

“I look forward to the extra vehicles developing this vital, much-appreciated, and indeed attractive, form of transport further.”

Funding for the new trams is expected to largely come from TfL, however the London Borough of Croydon has also confirmed a £3m contribution to the project. This will also include the refurbishment of tram stop surrounds.

Croydon Council Leader Mike Fisher said: “This is looking like a great deal for Croydon and shows the benefits of an ambitious local authority and committed Mayor working together, pooling resources and expertise.

“There is real support to get additional trams for Croydon to keep pace with growing demand for Tramlink services and also to secure major improvements for pedestrians and transport users around and between East and West Croydon stations.”

TfL anticipates that, providing a successful bid is made, the new trams would be delivered to the network’s depot at Therapia Lane in late 2011, with an entry into service from early 2012.

Belgian formation talks: King consults incumbent PM

Monday, December 3, 2007

The caretaker prime minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt, reappeared on the political stage today as he accepted the royal request to suggest solutions to the ongoing federal government formation talks.

Recollecting his statement to the press on June 10, 2007, when he recognised his electoral loss and the victory of his opponent Yves Leterme, he told reporters today that he “hadn’t thought nor hoped to face you once more, but the King has asked me to inform him on a short term about possible strategies to deal with the political stalemate in which we have ended up over the last few months.”

Our country is experiencing one of its most severe political crises of the last decades. The elections are six months behind us you see, and the country still doesn’t have a worthy government. Meanwhile, our country’s image is being damaged en socio-economic and daily problems of the people remain unsolved.

Indeed, after 177 days, the country’s political parties have still found no compromise on the roles of the French- and Dutch-language community. Two days ago, Leterme returned to King Albert II to tender his resignation as leader of the formation talks.

The incumbent PM said he would discretely contact the leaders of all democratic parties during the next few days. He said his starting point would be dual: the country needs a considerable reform of its federal status, and there are certain urgent problems that outrange the capacities of the caretaker government dealing with the ongoing affairs.

Verhofstadt called for all involved to take responsibility, in the interest of the country and its citizens.

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