Black vulture population targeted for reduction at Virginia boat launch

January 21st, 2019

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Virginia recreation and fishing boat launch on the James River near the Dominion Virginia Power plant at Dutch Gap is the scene of too many Black Vultures, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Virginia Department of Inland Game and Fisheries.

In 2002, more than 350 Black vultures were killed at Dutch Gap in an effort to reduce their numbers to a level of a couple dozen birds. But they made a quick come back in the area, and during this past week a hundred of the birds have been disposed of by a shot to their head with a pellet gun.

The USDA reports that both Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus), along with their close relatives called the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), are experiencing population increases stretching well over the last 10 years.

The species is increasingly a problem by growing into being a nuisance, as well as a threat to health and safety concerns. The presence of the birds in large numbers, at places they roost, can cause damage to property as they peck and claw at construction surfaces, and cause unsanitary human health conditions from the defecation and regurgitation of the birds. Their presense at landfills, often in near proximity to airports, is a problem for airplanes during take-off and landing.

At the entrance to the Dutch Gap boat launch parking lot, a large yellow warning sign is posted that reads: “Please be aware of possible damage to vehicles and trailers due to the large Black Vulture population currently inhabiting this parking area. Because the Black Vulture is a federally protected species, Chesterfield County is working with the U.S. Deptartment of Agriculture and the Virginia Department of Inland Games and Fisheries to resolve the problem. You can help by disposing of all litter (even non-food items such as cigarette butts) in trash barrels. Thank you for your cooperation.” The vultures reportedly perch on vehicles and scratch the paint, and for some reason are going after windshield wiper blades.

Vultures have shown an ability to adapt to residential and business settings. The bird, with a 4-foot adult wing span, can be seen gliding through the air at virtually any time of day in Chesterfield and Prince George counties in central Virginia.

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Errant monkeys draw the ire of Delhi court

January 21st, 2019

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Delhi High Court expressed its displeasure to the civic authorities on their continued failure to resolve the problem of marauding monkeys in the court premises. The court was in session when the public interest litigation filed by a Supreme Court lawyer was brought to its attention.

The petitioner Mr.Nirmal Chopra argued the case and explained how the simians showed up during work hours and attacked people and snatched food from them. The rhesus monkeys have also been blamed for damaging furniture belonging to the lawyers and courtroom fixtures such as electrical fittings. According to Mr.Chopra India‘s Wildlife Act of 1972 empowers civic authorities to kill or hunt animals when they endanger human life. He said that the lawyers from the Tis Hazari court had requested the state government and the municipality to tackle the situation but no action had resulted.

The lawyer for the civic authority was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying that catching monkeys was no longer its responsibility. The court was informed that a monkey catcher hired by the municipality had required 72 stitches after being mauled during an operation. After this incident the work had to be halted because other monkey catchers refused to take up the job.

The court gave the civic authority four more weeks to catch the monkeys that are disrupting work at the Tis Hazari courts. “If you cannot perform your statutory duty, then close down your institution” the court is reported to have told the counsel.

Delhi is known to suffer from trouble brought on by monkeys. The animals are reported to invade homes, schools and government offices in the city. Scores of animals have moved in as the city expands into surrounding forests. In an effort to control the problem, the Delhi administration captured about 500 monkeys and took them to the outskirts of the city last year.

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UK police locate missing Chinese teen Mei Chen, silent on details

January 20th, 2019

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Seventeen-year-old Chinese student Mei Chen, who vanished from her host family’s home in Scarborough, England, was found safe and well on Thursday by police. Her host family suggested she was travelling to meet an unknown person from the Internet; Wikinews has contacted authorities to establish the circumstances, but has received no answers.

North Yorkshire Police launched an urgent appeal on Tuesday for the teen’s whereabouts, and alerted all of the United Kingdom’s regular police forces as well as the British Transport Police and border authorities. She had been studying in Scarborough’s International School since arriving in the country in October.

The original police appeal has since been removed, and replaced with a boilerplate notice the content “may have been moved or deleted”, possibly “because the crime has been solved or the missing person found.” The 5-foot-1-inch (1.55m) girl was reported missing by her host family on Monday, with them suggesting they were “very concerned” for her. They also raised concerns Chen may be taken advantage of due to her young age, and reported she had discussed visiting London to meet an online friend.

it [is] hard to contemplate just how harrowing an experience a missing loved one overseas can be

“No matter where in the world it happens, a loved one becoming a missing person is devastating for all involved”, Matt Searle, Chief Executive of The Lucie Blackman Trust, told Wikinews on Thursday night. The charity provides support to those within the UK who experience loved ones abroad going missing, and more broadly supports UK victims of serious crimes overseas. Searle noted families of those missing find themselves “forever fearing the worst and imagining unthinkable outcomes”, adding “when all of this is happening on the other side of the world, continents away, families feel even more helpless. At home they could talk to police, authorities and other organisations, go to the site they were last seen and at least do something. This is often impossible in overseas cases — culture and language barriers often create huge hurdles in simply reporting a case at all.” He concluded by saying that, while charities such as his can provide some support, ultimately “it [is] hard to contemplate just how harrowing an experience a missing loved one overseas can be.”

Investigators found Chen caught a train from Scarborough on Monday morning shortly before 10:00 and alighted at York. From there, she caught another train travelling via Peterborough to London. Wikinews contacted three police forces in a bid to establish where Chen was found, and if any investigations into the circumstances of her disappearance are ongoing. British Transport Police told our correspondent the force was “alerted in the same way we would be for any missing person thought to be travelling on the rail network”.

A British Transport Police spokeswoman told Wikinews, “I believe this was a North Yorks Police investigation, so you’d need to contact them for details.” She also said the force “wouldn’t hold that sort of info” in response to our inquiries. Wikinews asked North Yorkshire Police for the same information, but has received no response; the Metropolitan Police, which cover the London area, also failed to reply.

A message to the National Crime Agency, which includes a Child Exploitation and Online Protection area, has also gone unanswered. Wikinews wished to know if the agency was aware of the case and, if so, if they were conducting any investigations.

Scarborough International School of English describes its goal as “to develop a warm, safe and caring atmosphere where every student will be happy and successful in learning English.” Its website describes “a strong sense of belonging to a family community here”. Wikinews contacted the school but they did not reply.

North Yorkshire Police have issued a terse statement confirming Chen has been found, and thanking the public for sharing their initial, removed, appeal.

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Vietnamese police blamed for deaths of over 100 political protesters

January 19th, 2019

Saturday, July 21, 2007

An eyewitness report coming out of The Socialist Republic of Vietnam claims that police in Ho Chi Minh City have detained about 200 political protesters and are being blamed for the deaths of over 100. Farmers were protesting against the government’s seizure of land and for “free expression.”

The protesters peacefully demonstrated outside of a government office on Wednesday, June 27 for the Vietnamese government to return property it has seized and occupied since late 1975, when the South Vietnamese government capitulated. Vietnamese living in the United States are holding memorial services on Sunday, July 22 in a number of cemeteries and memorials that focus on the Vietnam War.

“The crackdown on this demonstration shows Hanoi continues to curtail people’s rights. If Vietnam really has joined the community of nations, it should tolerate dissent, not crush it,” said deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson.

Thus far, the Vietnamese government has denied all allegations, stating that they did not detain any of the protesters, that no one was harmed, and that the protesters returned to their homes peacefully and of their own will. However, several Vietnamese in the country have been unable to contact family members who were part of the demonstration.

A Wikinewsie personally witnessed the police roundup of the demonstrators while on the way to a shop near the airport. He claims police began using nets to capture and drag the protesters away, before throwing them in the back of a Vietnamese military vehicle.

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Wal-Mart owes back taxes, according to State of Wisconsin

January 18th, 2019

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

According to the state of Wisconsin, Wal-Mart has avoided paying millions of dollars in state taxes by paying rent on 87 Wisconsin properties. The Wisconsin State Department of Revenue call this behavior “abusive and distortion of income.”

Wal-Mart is doing this by setting up one subsidiary to run all its stores and setting up another subsidiary to own its real estate. The operating subsidiary then pays the rental cost to the real estate subsidiary and takes a tax deduction for the rent. This money will, however, end up in the corporation’s own pocket.

As a result of Wal-Mart’s actions, the state tax auditors say that Wal-Mart owes more than $17.7 million in back corporate income taxes, interest and penalties from 1998-2000.

The Wal-Mart corporation claims that they are doing nothing wrong, rather they are taking advantage of an overlap of state and federal tax laws in an effort to reduce their taxes and costs.

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Wikinews interviews Steve Burke, U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate

January 18th, 2019

Sunday, December 13, 2015

This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.

Macomb, New York Councilman Steve Burke took some time to speak with Wikinews about his campaign for the U.S. Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

Burke, an insurance adjuster and farmer, was elected councilman in Brookhaven, New York in 1979. He left the town after being accused and found not guilty of bribery in the 1980s. Since 1987 he has served as Macomb councilman off-and-on and currently holds the post. From 1993 to 1996 and 1999 to 2002 he worked as chairman of the Democratic Party of St. Lawrence County, New York. Among his many political campaigns, Burke unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1992 and recently attempted to run for U.S. Congress in 2014 but too many of his ballot petition signatures were found invalid. Burke filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in the 2016 election on September 18, 2015 and has qualified for the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire Primary.

With Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn?, Burke discusses his political background, his 2016 presidential campaign, and his policy proposals.

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Four British energy suppliers face investigation into claims of misselling

January 18th, 2019

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), the regulator of the electricity and gas markets in Great Britain, has launched an investigation into four of the largest British energy suppliers over suspicions that they not be complying with face-to-face and telephone sales regulations. The four organisations facing scrutiny could be fined up to 10% of their annual turnover if it is found that they are breaking sales regulations. Scottish Power, npower, Scottish and Southern Energy and EDF Energy are all to face questioning by the organisation.

Ofgem has urged customers of the four companies to alert the energy regulator, “if they are concerned about the sales approach any domestic suppliers have taken when selling energy contracts, either face-to-face or by telephone,” according to a statement. “As part of the investigation process Ofgem will examine any evidence of non-compliance and consider whether there are grounds for exercising enforcement powers.”

New regulations on sales tactics by energy suppliers were recently introduced, and, Ofgem has said, energy suppliers must be “proactive in preventing misselling to customers both face to face and over the phone. Also, if suppliers are selling contracts face to face they must provide customers with an estimate before any sales are concluded. In most circumstances customers should also receive a comparison of the supplier’s offer with their current deal.” Only one in five consumers consider energy suppliers to be trustworthy, and 61% of people feel intimidated by doorstep sales people from energy companies. According to the organisation Consumer Focus, “complaints have declined since new rules came into effect this year, but suppliers still seem to be flouting the rules. Some customers are still being given misleading quotes and information, which leave them worse off when they switch provider.”

The newspaper The Guardian has reported that “householders are reporting that sales agents working for the energy suppliers are giving them misleading information and quotes which leave them worse off when they switch supplier.” Consumer Focus has said that if energy companies continue to break the rules, they could be banned from doorstep-selling completely. The report goes on to say that “new figures from helpline Consumer Direct show that while the number of complaints has fallen since last year, about 200 cases of mis-selling are being reported each month.” However, Scottish Power said it insists on “the highest standards possible for all of our sales agents”, and npower told the Financial Times that it was “confident that the processes we have in place mean that we comply with our regulatory obligations”. EDF added that it was “fully compliant with all obligations regarding sales of energy contracts”.

According to the regulator, the obligations are serious and must be followed by energy supplies, or they will face “tougher sanctions than those available under more general consumer protection law.” Ofgem has published a guide advising consumers what they should do should an energy salesperson contact them in person of by telephone. Improper sales tactics are still common in the industry—in 2008 an Ofgem investigation found that 48% of gas customers and 42% of electricity customers were worse off after switching supplier on the doorstep. Npower was fined £1.8 million in 2008 by the organisation, and Ofgem insists that they are “committed to taking action” over improper sales activities by energy companies. “Suppliers have existing obligations to detect and prevent misselling and new licence conditions were brought in following our probe to further increase protection for customers,” said Andrew Wright, a Senior Partner of the regulator. “We expect all suppliers to comply with these tougher obligations but if our investigations find otherwise we will take strong action.”

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Head of energy at Consumer Focus, Audrey Gallacher, called the investigation “a welcome step … to address years of customers getting a bad deal on energy prices on their doorstep. While many doorstep sales people will do a good job, the pay and rewards system continues to encourage mis-selling, despite years of regulation and voluntary initiatives. If better advice for customers and enforcement of the tougher rules doesn’t end the flagrant abuse of this form of selling the big question will be whether it should be completely banned.” Christine McGourty, director of Energy UK, which represents the leading gas and electricity companies, said that “the companies involved will collaborate with the Ofgem investigation and are awaiting further details from the regulator. Any sales agent in breach of the code will be struck off the approved energy sales register.” Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, has said he considers the situation “shocking”, saying that the investigation “will do nothing to improve consumer trust in energy suppliers. We’re pleased that Ofgem has promised tough measures against any firms guilty of mis-selling. We hope it uses this opportunity to tighten rules around telesales so they are in line with those for face to face sales.”

SNP Westminster Energy spokesperson Mike Weir MP, however, said that the investigation “does nothing to tackle the real problem of fuel prices which leave many Scots facing great difficulty in heating their homes … Rather than tinkering around the edges Ofgem should be looking at how to reduce prices for vulnerable households.” Gareth Kloet, Head of Utilities at Confused.com, one of the UK’s biggest and most popular price comparison services, also welcomed the inquiry. “It is unacceptable for energy companies to mislead customers like this,” he said, adding that Confused.com has previously “urged energy providers to either stop the practice of doorstep selling or make it very clear to households that better deals are available online. There is no reason why door-to-door salesmen can’t show people online deals and even help households switch to them.”

“Our research reveals customers could end up paying £167 more than they need to as door-to-door salesmen are unable to offer the discounts that are applied online. The changes that have been made to date are a welcome addition to safeguard customers; however this review has been much needed for a long time. Hopefully it will mark the end of customers being overcharged and missold,” Kloet continued. “Our message to energy consumers remains the same: they should shop around online to make sure they’re getting the best deal possible and turn these salesmen away.”

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IOC posthumously awards its highest honor to late Vancouver Organizing Committee Chair

January 17th, 2019

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has given the late Jack Poole their highest honour, The Olympic Order, according to a report by the Vancouver Sun.

Mr. Poole, one of the people behind the bid by Vancouver to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, passed away on October 23 after losing a fight with pancreatic cancer.

The CEO of the Vancouver organizing committee (VANOC), John Furlong, was quoted as saying “Jack Poole is truly deserving of the tremendous honour of the Olympic Order in recognition of his enormous contribution to the 2010 Games,” also stating that further comment will be made when the IOC makes a formal announcement of the award.

This marks the second award that has posthumously been given to Poole, having been awarded the Canadian Olympic Order by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) earlier in the month, with word that he will also be inducted to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame.

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Football legend Johan Cruyff dies at 68 due to cancer

January 17th, 2019

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Netherlands and FC Barcelona football legend Johan Cruyff died in Barcelona on Thursday at the age of 68. He had lung cancer, announced last October. Per World of Johan Cruyff website statement, he died peacefully, his family present.

The Dutch maestro won three Ballon d’Ors in his nineteen-year career, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Born in the Dutch capital Amsterdam, Cruyff began his career with Ajax AFC. He won three consecutive European titles, eight Eredivisie titles (“Dutch league”), five KNVB Cups (“Dutch Cup”), a UEFA Super Cup, and an Intercontinental Cup with the capital club. Later in his career, he signed for Feyenoord and won the Dutch league Dutch Cup with them as well.

He joined the Catalans in 1973. In his first season at Barça, the Blaugrana won the league after fourteen years without. That season, Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 5–0 at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. He managed Barcelona for eight years, from 1988 to 1996. When he signed for the managerial position, he said, “I know the club and I don’t want history to repeat itself[…] If we want things to change, we must change history.” In his managing career at Barcelona, he won four consecutive La Liga titles and the club won its very first European Cup in 1992 at the Wembly. Before the match, he told the team “”Go out and enjoy yourselves” ((es))Spanish: ?Salid y disfrutad. He won a total of eleven trophies before he was sacked. Before he became the manager, the Catalonians had only ten Spanish titles but after 1990, they won thirteen trophies in 26 years.

He took the Dutch national team to the 1974 FIFA World Cup final, but lost 2–1 to West Germany. He completed 34 dribbles, the most by any player in the tournament. Cruyff won the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in that World Cup. The tournament also saw his famous ‘Cruyff turn’ for the first time in a match against Sweden. He also promoted the idea of ‘Total Football’, a style of playing the game.

He had a heart bypass surgery in 1991 and stopped smoking. He had been a heavy smoker. Last month, he said that he was he “2–0 up in the first half of a match” against lung cancer.

As a tribute, the Netherlands v France friendly football match on Friday was paused in the 14th minute, as his jersey featured the number 14. The French side won the match 3–2 with Antoine Griezmann scoring an early goal in the 6th minute.

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Home of Stonehenge builders found

January 17th, 2019

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Scientists have uncovered the largest Neolithic settlement in the United Kingdom at the Durrington Walls and believe that the village was inhabited by the people who built the Stonehenge monument.

Scientists say that the village was built around 2,600 B.C., roughly when Stonehenge was believed to have been constructed, and housed over 100 people.

Inside the areas which would have been the interior of houses at the time, scientists also found outlines of what they think were beds and cupboards or dressers. Pieces of pottery and “filthy” rubbish around the site. Animal bones, arrowheads, stone tools and other relics were also discovered.

“We’ve never seen such quantities of pottery and animal bone and flint. In what were houses, we have excavated the outlines on the floors of box beds and wooden dressers or cupboards,” said Sheffield University archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson.

So far, the dig has revealed at least 8 houses roughly 14-16 feet square, but scientists say that they think there may have been at least 25 altogether.

The site was likely to have been occupied only seasonally rather than year-round and evidence suggests that a lot of “partying” went on at the location.

“The animal bones are being thrown away half-eaten. It’s what we call a feasting assemblage. This is where they went to party – you could say it was the first free festival. The rubbish isn’t your average domestic debris. There’s a lack of craft-working equipment for cleaning animal hides and no evidence for crop-processing,” added Pearson.

The Durrington Walls are approximately 2 miles from the Stonehenge site.

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