Australian Prime Minister calls federal election

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The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard has announced that the Australian federal election will be held on November 24, 2007. Howard visited the Governor General of Australia Michael Jeffries earlier today and then announced the news.

Mr Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia for over ten years now, said that the country’s “best years lie ahead”, but only if the “right leadership” team is in power.

“Is it a Government that has a proven track record in those areas? Or is it an inexperienced group of men and women, 70 per cent of whom are former trade union officials?”, Mr Howard said. “The right leadership has the experience to further expand the prosperity of the Australian economy.”

“I believe very passionately that this country’s best years can lie ahead of us in the years immediately ahead,” he said. “In order for that to happen this country does not need new leadership, it does not need old leadership, it needs the right leadership.”

Mr Howard also stated that if his party, the Liberal Party is elected into government yet again, Peter Costello will hold the place of Treasurer of Australia and Alexander Downer will take the seat of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The Prime Minister announced that the writs will be issued on October 17. Consequently, following recent changes to the electoral act, Australians have until that date to ensure that they are on the electoral rolls and are able to have their vote. Voting is compulsory in Australian Federal … Read More

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Needed rains blanket much of Texas, more expected, in early 2013

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Rain fell continuously along a large swathe of the eastern part of Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday, and is predicted to continue through much of today, according to media sources. Experts predict 3–5 inches of rain will fall in the area. The city of Tyler received just under 35 inches of rainfall in 2012, about 11 inches less than usual for a one-year period.

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service noted the rainfall is a positive sign for 2013 considering the state’s limited rain over the past three years. 2011 and 2012 were extreme drought years for the state. In July 2011, the state saw less than 1 inch of rainfall for the entire month.

In 2010–11, the state saw the worst drought year in an over 100-year recorded period. Many farmers and ranchers experienced devastating losses of livestock and crops. Significant drought conditions returned again during Su … Read More

Protesters arrive at Baxter detention centre in Australian desert

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Hundreds of protesters arrived at the Baxter detention centre in the South Australian desert to demonstrate against the incarceration of refugees held there. An additional 300 protesters converged on the home of Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone, in the state capital of Adelaide, on their way to Baxter.

Protesters near Baxter
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

People from all over Australia are protesting against the Australian Government’s policy of mandatory detention. The first protesters arrived by buses in Port Augusta early Friday morning.

Detainees seem split over the protest. The Age reported Detainee Peter Qasim as saying, “It stops people from visiting us, it stops us receiving any calls. It is a good idea to protest but better somewhere other than here.”

However, other detainees have been reported as saying, “It is better in front of Baxter, I believe showing Baxter, protesters will shout about human torture inside detention. Then there would be good publicity about all torture inside Baxter detention.”

And, “We welcome all of [the protesters] and we thank [them] all who has seen disgrace of this human torture. Further we thank to you all who come and visit and looking after us all the time, we need it.”

Despite fears of violence, there has been no confrontation between the police and the p … Read More

Fire crews race to contain Blue Mountains, NSW fires before Tuesday

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Fire crews in the Australian state of New South Wales are racing to contain two fires burning out of control in the Blue Mountains West of Sydney before an expected worsening of conditions on Tuesday.

The fires which have been burning in the Mount Victoria and Blackheath since last Sunday have burnt around 2500 hectares of bushland. So far no homes have been under direct threat.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has forecast strong North-Westerly winds in the area on Tuesday. These winds could fan the fire directly into the towns of Mount Victoria and Blackheath.

In an attempt to contain the fires, fire personnel from the NSW Fire Brigade, Rural Fire Service and the National Parks and Wildlife Service have been undertaking backburning operations over the weekend. The backburning operations have been supported by fourteen aircraft, which have been carrying out waterbombing operations.

As a result of the fire crew’s operations, the Bell’s Line of Road has been closed, with traffic advised to use the Great Wester … Read More

Much of inland New South Wales, Australia affected by flooding

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Much of the interior of New South Wales, Australia continues to be affected by floods caused by heavy rains. With more rain predicted, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has issued a flood watch for all western flowing rivers in New South Wales from the Namoi River in the north of the state to the Murrumbidgee River in the south.

Coonamble, in the central-western plains district of New South Wales, has been isolated by major flooding of the Castlereagh River. The State Emergency Service estimates that around 2,760 people are currently trapped in Coonamble. Mudgee, Canowindra, Eugowra, Dubbo, Wellington, and Young have also been severely affected.

Like many river crossings in inland New South Wales, this low-level bridge in Bathurst is closed due to flooding.
Image: Cartman02au.

A number of major highways in Western districts of the state have been closed or had diversions put in place, including the Newell Highway near Mirrool Bridge, the Castlereagh Highway between Gilgandra and Walgett, the Oxley Highway between Gilgandra and Warren, and the Lachlan Valley Way between 28km north of Cowra and 6km South Of Gooloogong. A number of local roads have also been affected.

Emergency Management NSW has declared the local government areas of Mid-Western Region, Weddin, Wellington, Warrumbungle, Cootamundra, Coonamble, Harden, and Young as natural disaster areas where significant damage to property and infrastructure has occurred.

Evacuation orders have been issued for parts of Wagga Wagga and parts of Coonamble due to flooding.

The SES is advising people who require assistance due to flooding to call 132 500 and to contact 000 for life threatening emergencies. For road closure information, residents are encouraged to contact their loca … Read More

Kent Hovind’s April 2007 appeal denied

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Kent Hovind’s motion for acquittal was denied on Wednesday, April 18, 2007. Hovind, a Pensacola young Earth creationist and operator of Dinosaur Adventure Land, along with his wife, Jo Hovind, were found guilty in November 2006 on 58 federal counts of “willful failure” to payroll taxes, structuring bank withdrawals, and obstructing federal agents.

On January 19, 2007 Kent was sentenced to ten years in prison and ordered to pay US$640,000 in owed funds to the Internal Revenue Service, pay prosecution’s court costs of $7,078, and serve three years parole once released.

In his motion, Hovind had contended that under the rule in a case called United States v. Davenport the crime is not the individual withdrawals, but is instead the total transaction, also known as the “unit of the crime.” Thus, Hovind argued that in his case there was no “unit of the crime” “separate and distinct from the alleged act of withdrawing, and without such a separate amount to be structured [. . .] there could be no crime alleged, and no conviction on any charge in Counts 13 through 57.” The trial court rejected Hovind’s “unit of the crime” argument.

Had the judge ruled in Hovind’s favor his sentence would have reduced Hovind’s prison sentence from ten years to five years.

Jo Hovind sentencing was delayed pending the ruling on the motion. She will be sentenced soon though no date has … Read More