United States: One person dead after boat to offshore casino burns off Florida coast

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

On Sunday, a boat ferrying people to a floating casino in the Gulf of Mexico caught fire and burned near New Port Richey, Florida, US. All 50 passengers aboard abandoned ship and jumped into the sea, but one died in hospital that evening.

Beth Fifer, assistant chief executive of the Tropical Breeze Casino Cruise, said that the fire started at about 3:30 PM, local time, as the boat was outbound to the casino. According to Gerard DeCanio, the police chief of Port Richey, the captain saw smoke coming from the engine and turned back, then grounded the boat in shallow water.

The boat was rapidly engulfed in flames. Those aboard had to jump about ten feet into waist-high water and swim or wade ashore to safety. The police said that about fifteen were treated at local hospitals, including for possible hypothermia from exposure to the cold sea water. The one fatality, a 42-year-old woman, went to the emergency room at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point hours later and died at 10:42 p.m., according to Kurt Conover, a spokesman for the medical center and Kevin Doll, a spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

Passenger Qaadia Culbreath told WFLA-TV that he couldn’t swim and didn’t see any life jackets, so he found himself “dangling off the metal hanger in the front of the boat because I didn’t want to let go”. Andrew Fossa, deputy fire chief of Pasco County, described locals who assisted the passengers as they scrambled to shore as “phenomenal”.

According to police chief DeCanio, the boat captain had reported engine trouble on earlier trips. Fifer said, “It would’ve never left the dock if we knew something was wrong with it.” The Coast Guard has announced that they will review maintenance records. The casino operates offshore, requiring a boat to ferry gamblers to and fro, because casino gambling is not legal in the state of Florida.

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Japanese detain two anti-whaling activists, deny abuse claims

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yesterday at 6:00 UTC at 60° S 78° E , a Japanese whaling ship detained two Sea Shepherd Conservation Society activists in the Southern Ocean. Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research (IRC) deny Sea Shepherd claims that they have been abused. The Japanese government has assured the Australian Government the release of the men.

According to the conservation agency Sea Shepherd, Australian Benjamin Potts, 28, a helicopter assistant, and Briton Giles Lane, an engine room worker, were detained on board a Yushin Maru No. 2 after delivering a letter asking the ship to exit Antarctic waters .

Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd’s vessel, Steve Irwin, said that the Japanese “tried to throw them overboard, then they tied them to a bulkhead and were beating them”.

He alleged that the men were tied to the radar masts before being brought below deck after which the men were not seen. Sea Shepherd’s international director, Jonny Vasic, claimed that they were “basically strapped by the arms with zip-ties and tied with rope around their chests” for 2½ to three hours.

The captain said he was surprised as he expected Japanese whale ships to treated his men more decently.

“We are concerned but I know the Australian and British governments are in touch with the Japanese government.”

Sea Shepherd said it has photographic evidence that the whalers were abusing the men.

However, the Japanese ship refuted the allegations.

“Any accusations that we have tied them up or assaulted them are completely untrue,” Director-general of the IRC Minoru Morimoto said in the press release, “It is illegal to board another country’s vessels on the high seas.”

Detaining the activists was the “only way”, he said. “You couldn’t have them running around the deck not knowing what they’re going to do.”

He said that the activists were making attempts to entangle the screw and were throwing bottles of butyric acid, as rancid butter, onto the deck of the vessel before boarding the vessel. Mr Watson has confirmed this and said that they were to act as a stink bomb but their actions were still peaceful.

Hideki Moronuki, the chief of the whaling section of The Fisheries Agency of Japan, claimed that “nobody took violent action against the two illegal intruders”.

Mr. Moronuki said that they were treated “very, very humanely” and were provided with “a warm, delicious hot meal”, “[a] warm, nice bath” and “[a] nice bed with clean white sheets”.

Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith said that the Japanese government promised him the release of the men late yesterday night.

“Late last night I was advised the Japanese had agreed to this and they had instructed the relevant whaling ship to return the men to the Steve Irwin,” he told ABC radio.

Mr. Moronuki said the “two illegal intruders” will not be released by the vessel’s captain until “Paul Watson has accepted the conditions of the safety of the Japanese vessel”. He said he knew nothing of the comments that the Japanese government agreeing to release the men.

Mr. Watson said the Japanese were “[holding] hostages and make demands” and were acting like “a terrorist organisation”. A press release said Sea Shepherd “will not negotiate with poachers and demands that the Japanese whalers release Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane as soon as possible”.

Mr. Watson said he would not send a zodiac to collect the men as requested in an email because it “endangers the life of the crew, to put them out in these waters in a small boat, 10 miles out of view”.

On Sky TV, IRC spokesman Glenn Inwood said Sea Shepherd were “not answering phone calls or emails at this stage” to take advantage of “fair amount of media coverage” but they were “still making attempts to contact them”.

An Australian Federal Police spokeswoman said that Sea Shepherd made a police report at around 7:00 UTC.

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BP report into Gulf of Mexico disaster lays blame on other contractors

Friday, September 10, 2010

BP released their report into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster earlier this year on Wednesday, and shifted much of the blame for the explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, onto Transocean, the company managing the rig. The report concludes by stating that decisions made by “multiple companies and work teams” contributed to the accident which it says arose from “a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces.” The report, the product of a four-month investigation conducted by BP’s Head of Safety Operations, Mark Bly, criticizes the oil rig’s fire prevention systems, the crew of the rig for failing to realize and act upon evidence that oil was leaking from the surface of the ocean, and describes how BP and Transocean “incorrectly accepted” negative pressure test results. The document goes on to note that the blow-out preventer failed to operate, likely because critical components were not operational.

Bob Dudley, who will become chief executive of BP, described the accident as “tragic”. He said, “we have said from the beginning that the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon was a shared responsibility among many entities. This report makes that conclusion even clearer, presenting a detailed analysis of the facts and recommendations for improvement both for BP and the other parties involved. We have accepted all the recommendations and are examining how best to implement them across our drilling operations worldwide.” The report included 25 recommendations, according to a press release, “designed to prevent a recurrence of such an accident.” The oil company has previously blamed Transocean and Halliburton, the well contractor, for the disaster and BP executives feel they have been unfairly blamed by US politicians for the disaster, and the report continues this view.

Tony Hayward, who was fired from the position of BP’s chief executive following multiple public relations issues, squarley places the blame for the disaster on Halliburton. “To put it simply, there was a bad cement job,” he said in a statement, also claiming that BP should not be the only company to take the blame for the explosion. “It would appear unlikely that the well design contributed to the incident,” he argues. The report blames the type of cement used by Halliburton, designed to prevent harmful hydrocarbons from reaching the seabed, as well as criticizing the crew of Deepwater Horizon, for failing to realize for forty minutes that oil had started to leak from the well, and once it was realized, the crew “vented” the hydrocarbons “directly onto the rig”.

Describing how the explosion, which killed eleven rig personnel, occurred, the report states that “the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system probably transferred a gas-rich mixture into the engine rooms,” where the hydrocarbons ignited and a fireball engulfed the rig. But, the report states, the blowout preventer, the ultimate failsafe on the Deepwater Horizon failed, likely due to the fire on the rig. An automated system was not operational because the batteries powering it, located in a control pod, had gone flat, and another control pod contained a faulty solenoid valve.

The report was likely, however, written with the company’s legal liability for the disaster in a prominent position, since they are facing hundreds of lawsuits and criminal charges as a result of the spill. The executive summary is four and a half pages long and the first page is made up entirely of legal disclaimers saying if BP was found to be negligent in their operations of the rig, they could be fined a good deal more.

Questions have also been raised as to why BP has chosen to release their report before authorities examine the blowout preventer. The energy editor of The Guardian, Terry Macalister, wrote that the “catalougue of errors – both human and mechanical” in the report “demolish” the oil industry’s “much quoted mantra” of safety first. “It may come first in the board room but it does not down at the wellhead where the real dangers are faced,” he wrote. “It is worth remembering that BP, its rig operator Transocean and the main well contractor Halliburton are the blue chip companies in the wider oil and gas sector. If the shoddy work practices highlighted here are what the best-in-class do, then what is happening in the lower reaches of this industry?”

What do you think of Transocean’s claim that BP made “a series of cost-saving decisions that increased risk”?
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Transocean described the report as a “self-serving” attempt to “conceal the critical factor that set the stage for the Macondo incident: BP’s fatally flawed well design. In both its design and construction, BP made a series of cost-saving decisions that increased risk – in some cases, severely.” In a statement, the company listed five issues they felt had contributed to the disaster that were no fault but BP’s. “Transocean’s investigation is ongoing, and will be concluded when all of the evidence is in, including the critical information the company has requested of BP but has yet to receive.” Members of Congress, who are also carrying out a review into the disaster, also dismissed the report. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts democrat who has been investigating the spill in Congress, said that he felt the report was simply a lengthy defense of the oil company’s handling of the spill. “BP is happy to slice up blame, as long as they get the smallest piece,” he said.

Bly acknowledged during a press conference in Washington that the report did not detail the charges raised against the company in Congress and that BP permitted a culture of recklessness to flourish. He did, however, reject suggestions that cost-cutting had put lives at risk and the rig was a disaster waiting to happen. “What we see instead is, where there were errors made they were based on poor decision-making process or using wrong information,” he said. The Guardian reported that “the report is narrowly focused on the final days before the explosion rather than on earlier decisions about well design and safety procedures. It is also closely focused on the rig itself. No BP officials have been sacked for their role in the explosion, and Bly said there was no indication of any blame beyond the well-site managers.”

The Associated Press reported that Bly “said at a briefing in Washington that the internal report was a reconstruction of what happened on the rig based on the company’s data and interviews with mostly BP employees and was not meant to focus on assigning blame. The six-person investigating panel only had access to a few workers from other companies, and samples of the actual cement used in the well were not released.” The report continued, “Steve Yerrid, special counsel on the oil spill for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, said the report clearly shows the company is attempting to spread blame for the well disaster, foreshadowing what will be a likely legal effort to force Halliburton and Transocean, and perhaps others, to share costs such as paying claims and government penalties.”

Head of Greenpeace’s energy campaign Jim Footner said that it was “highly likely that a truly independent report would be even more damning for BP.” However, he said, “the real problem is our addiction to oil, which is pushing companies like BP to put lives and the environment at risk. The age of oil is coming to an end and companies like BP will be left behind unless they begin to adapt now. The time has come to move beyond oil and invest in clean energy.” Alfred R Sunsen, whose oyster company operating in the Gulf of Mexico is facing the prospect of going out of business after 134 years, reacted angrily the the report. “The report does not address the people, businesses, animals, or natural resources that have been impacted by the disaster and will be dealing with the consequences of their inadequate and slow response to the disaster,” he said. The New York Times said that the report is “unlikely to carry much weight in influencing the Department of Justice, which is considering criminal and civil charges related to the spill,” and described it as “a public relations exercise” and a “probable legal strategy as it prepares to defend itself against possible federal charges, penalties and hundreds of pending lawsuits.”

Wayne Pennington, head of the geological engineering department at Michigan Technical University, also alleged that BP was wrong to blame other parties involved with the disaster. “The blowout and subsequent explosion and spillage appear to the result of an overall attitude that encouraged unwarranted optimism in the quality of each component of the job, allowing the omission of standard testing procedures, and the misinterpretation of other tests in the most-favorable light.” He continued: “Instead, skepticism should reign on any drilling job, and testing and evaluation at each stage of the drilling and completion would then be routine; instead of questioning the need for such things as the cement bond log, the companies involved should insist on checking and double-checking quality at each step of the process. This was clearly not done, repeatedly, in the case of the Macondo well, and disaster resulted.”

4.9 million barrels of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, causing damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries. Extensive measures were used to prevent the oil from reaching the coastline of Louisiana, including skimmer ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, and sand-filled barricades. Scientists have also reported immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil not visible at the surface. The U.S. Government has named BP as the responsible party, and officials have committed to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage.

Dudley went on to say that BP “deeply regret” the disaster. “We have sought throughout to step up to our responsibilities. We are determined to learn the lessons for the future and we will be undertaking a broad-scale review to further improve the safety of our operations. We will invest whatever it takes to achieve that. It will be incumbent on everyone at BP to embrace and implement the changes necessary to ensure that a tragedy like this can never happen again.”

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New BBC Radio 2 boss announced

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The BBC have announced the appointment of Bob Shennan as controller for BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music. Shennan was previously controller at news and sports station BBC Radio Five Live and head of Channel 4‘s abortive 4 Digital Group radio venture. Channel 4 had won a licence to launch three digital radio stations but dropped the plans at an advanced stage in the face of the economic downturn.

At Five Live Shennan increased listening figures to 7 million. Critics claimed that this was achieved through the introduction of phone-in shows and a decline in coverage of harder news. He also launched the part-time digital-only station BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra.

The BBC’s director of Audio and Music told The Stage that Shennan is “an outstanding leader with extensive radio experience and a proven track record in station management”. He said that “Bob’s energy, enthusiasm and passion for Radio 2 will ensure that the station remains creative and vibrant, and continues to offer unique programmes to the widest possible audience”.

Radio 2 is Britain’s most popular radio station with 13.06 million listeners and a 16% share. 6 Music is the network’s digital-only sister station. The post of controller became vacant last year when Lesley Douglas resigned following the scandal over crude phone calls made by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross to actor Andrew Sachs during a pre-recorded music programme.

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byAlma Abell

According to the Red Cross, the second most common cause of accidental deaths in children under the age of 14 is drowning, with about two children within this age group dying each day. Swimming lessons can help prevent this, which is the biggest reason why they’re so widely recommended. However, even children who know how to swim need to be supervised when they’re in the water, as swimming doesn’t drown-proof a child.

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It’s particularly important to consider Children Swim Classes in Tucson AZ, notes the Red Cross, as once children go beyond the 3rd grade without learning to swim, they’re less likely to ever learn this important and life-saving skill. Very young children can take parent and tot classes that get them accustomed to the water while preschoolers can start independent lessons. Group lessons are a good choice for many people, as they are less expensive than private lessons and readily available in many communities.

Taking Children Swim Classes in Tucson AZ will help children get over the fear of water, so they don’t panic if they fall into the water suddenly. Lessons also teach children safety rules to follow around water and help them develop confidence in themselves as they conquer each level and learn new swimming skills and strokes.

Swimming is a great sport to get into to keep children active all year round, potentially limiting their risk for becoming overweight. Children are more likely to participate in activities that they enjoy, and once they’ve gotten over any fears, most children tend to enjoy spending time in the water, especially on hot days. Knowing how to swim makes other water activities safer that children may enjoy, including kayaking, canoeing, tubing, wakeboarding, surfing and water-skiing. Kids who don’t know how to swim may have to turn down playdates with friends during the summer that include water activities, limiting their social interactions.

This type of exercise has other health benefits as well, such as improving heart health and increasing feelings of relaxation. It’s considered a whole-body workout, but it’s lower in impact, so it’s easier on the joints than some other types of whole-body workouts like running.

If you’re ready to sign your child up for lessons in Tucson, you could look here to find out more about local opportunities.

Interview: Drupal founder Dries Buytaert balances community and company interests

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In the year 2000, Dries Buytaert created Drupal, a freely licensed and open source tool to manage websites, as a bulletin board for his college dorm. Since Dries released the software and a community of thousands of volunteer developers have added and improved modules, Drupal has grown immensely popular. Drupal won the overall Open CMS Award in 2007, and some speakers in Drupal’s spacious developer’s room at FOSDEM 2008 were dreaming aloud of its world domination.

Buytaert (now 29) just finished his doctoral thesis and has founded the start-up Acquia. The new company wants to become Drupal’s best friend, with the help of an all-star team and US$7 million collected from venture capitalists. Wikinews reporter Michaël Laurent sat down with Dries in Brussels to discuss these recent exciting developments.


  • 1 The interview
    • 1.1 On FOSDEM
    • 1.2 On Drupal
    • 1.3 Acquia: company-community interaction
    • 1.4 The future, near and far
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links
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Man charged with attempted murder in £40 million London jewel heist

Man charged with attempted murder in £40 million London jewel heist
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

24-year-old Aman Kassaye, of no fixed abode, is to face a charge of attempted murder for his alleged role in an armed robbery that netted £40 million ($65 million) worth of jewelry from a London store.

Kassaye is the seventh man to be charged, and is also facing prosecution for conspiracy to rob the Graff store in New Bond Street, false imprisonment, and using a handgun to resist arrest. He will appear at Wimbledon magistrates court on Monday.

The other six men have already been remanded in custody until October 23, when they will appear at Kingston Crown Court. All are facing charges of conspiracy to rob, and two of them are also charged with a firearms offense.

43 diamond rings, watches, and bracelets were taken from the store. The theft occurred when two armed and suited men walked in and took an employee hostage. It has been reported they used prosthetic masks made from liquid latex but police have not confirmed this. Amateur footage also shows a shot was fired. No-one was injured.

The robbery is one of the biggest the United Kingdom has seen. After the crime a string of getaway vehicles was used, with police believing several more offenders assisted with this stage of the plan. Although The Telegraph claims no stolen property has yet been recovered, this is also unconfirmed by police.

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Salvador Sobral wins Eurovision for Portugal

Salvador Sobral wins Eurovision for Portugal
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Monday, May 15, 2017

On Saturday, Portugal won its first victory at the Eurovision song competition, held this year at Kiev’s International Exhibition Centre in Ukraine. Salvador Sobral’s song Amar Pelos Dois won 758 points from public and professional judges. Bulgaria and Moldova came second and third respectively. Sobral called it “a victory for music”.

Out of 42 countries participating this time, 26 countries including hosts Ukraine and the Big Five — France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom — competed in the finals. The competition began on May 9. Sobral, who has a serious heart problem, did not perform during early rehearsals. Ukraine, Germany and Spain ended up at the bottom of the vote ranking winning collecting respectively 36, six and five points.

UK representative Lucie Jones secured fifteenth place with 111 points. Sobral’s ballad was written by his sister, who joined the 27-year-old winner on the stage during the reprise. Winner of the second semi-final Bulgaria’s Kristian Kostov secured 615 points from the voting and Moldova won 374 points. Last year, Ukrainian singer Jamala scored 534 points, then highest in the competition, but this year won only 36 points.

Portugal made its first appearance in the competition in 1964. The European Broadcast Union (EBU) warned Sobral against breaking the rules of the contest after he wore a t-shirt with “S.O.S.Refugees” written on it in a press conference following the first semi-final which Portugal had won. The Portuguese said, “If I’m here and I have European exposure, the least thing I can do is a humanitarian message […] People come to Europe in plastic boats and are being asked to show their birth certificates in order to enter a country. These people are not immigrants, they’re refugees running from death. Make no mistake. There is so much bureaucratic stuff happening in the refugee camps in Greece, Turkey, and Italy and we should help create legal and safe pathways from these countries to their destiny countries” EBU banned him from wearing t-shirts with politically motivated messages.

Kasia Mo?, representing Poland, said that she dedicated her performance to animal rights and added “I just hope that after this in Poland we’re going to change the law and we will not have dogs on chains”.

Eurovision reported the final was watched by four million viewers on YouTube.

As the winner of this edition of the competition, Portugal is to host next year’s competition. Two-time winner of the competition Ukraine previously hosted the 2005 contest.

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Farris: The Trusted Name In Valve Relief Operations

byAlma Abell

In any workplace, safety should always be the number 1 priority. While a lot of companies may differ in their brand of choice, creating a safe and conducive environment that would facilitate smooth-sailing operations often leads to positive developments for the company. In terms of safety, Farris is the forerunner when it comes to providing relief solutions. Through its amazing products and technological services, you can sleep peacefully at night knowing that your company is in good hands.

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Farris: Keeping the Eye on Relief Solutions

Popular for its pilot-operated and spring-loaded relief valves, Farris continues to be the top choice of small and large-scale industries. Its intelligently engineered products and solutions ensure safety and security in the workplace. It serves a vast array of industries that include petrochemical, hydrocarbon, pharmaceutical and natural gas production and a lot more. Indeed, Farris continues to build a good reputation because of its one-of-a-kind range of services.

Farris: Products and Descriptions

Built with one goal in mind, Farris incessantly aims to provide you a safe working environment by ensuring the quality of its safety device. It greatly values prevention, and it focuses on inhibiting the over-pressurization of different sets of equipment including pipelines and vessels. From process pressure relief valves to steam safety valves, you can expect nothing but the best from Farris. To know more about some of the top-of-the-line series of Farris relief valves, below are short descriptions of some of its products.

  • Series 3800: Made ideally for air and water applications, Series 3800’s features and design are perfect for resisting corrosion and minimizing the loss of the product. Aside from being used for liquid, vapor, air and gas applications, it is also best for industries that typically use compressors or natural gas pipelines.
  • Series 2600: Certified for water, steam and air applications, Series 2600 works by reversing or mitigating the impact of back pressure on the performance of valves. It was engineered and designed to conceal working parts from corrosive elements. Through this, safety operations and the durability of the product are both ensured.
  • Series 1890/1896M: Made primarily of stainless steel, bronze and brass, Series 1890/1896M is ideally used for liquid, vapor, air, gas and steam applications, along with cryogenic applications.

With high quality products, Farris is a reminder that with the mixture of hard work and the dedication to provide consumers nothing but the best, success is just 1 step away.



Ivory Coast fined US$47,000 by FIFA over March stampede

Ivory Coast fined US$47,000 by FIFA over March stampede
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association or International Federation of Association Football, has fined the Ivorian Football Federation $47,000 over the stadium disaster on March 29. Between 20 and 22 football fans died and over 130 were injured as 36,000 fans packed into the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Stadium to see the Ivory Coast face Malawi in a qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup. The stadium’s capacity is 34,600 fans. The stampede took place after a wall collapsed as thousands of fans massed outside the stadium, trying to get in. The game was played despite the accident, and the Ivory Coast won 5&ndasp0.

FIFA imposed a sanction of 50,000 Swiss francs, approximately US$46,800. They also set a 20,000 attendance limit on the next qualifier, against Burkina Faso. In addition, they have called for a mandatory traffic control cordon. FIFA has donated US$96,000 to a fund which supports the families of those who lost their lives in the disaster.

“In the event of any similar incidents, FIFA would have no choice but to impose more severe sanctions on the Ivorian Football Association,” read a statement released by FIFA.

The government of the Ivory Coast has opened its own investigation into the disaster.

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