Tag Archives: thousands

Thousands affected by pole fires

Updated February 23, 2013 14:38:22

Firefighters across Perth were kept busy on Friday night with dozens of pole top fires caused by light rain.

Authorities say water combining with dust on the top of the poles sparked the fires.

Western Power says more than 20,000 properties lost power across the city.

The worst affected areas were Hamilton Hill, Balcatta, Bassendean, Atwell, Coolbellup and Eden Hill.

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, industry, fires, perth-6000

First posted February 23, 2013 13:31:44

Thousands of Greeks rally in anti-austerity strike

Posted February 21, 2013 00:58:55

Tens of thousands of Greeks, incensed over hefty wage cuts and tax rises, have taken to the streets of Athens as part of a nationwide strike against austerity.

Beating drums and chanting “Robbers, robbers!” more than 60,000 people marched to parliament in the biggest protest for months over austerity policy required by international lenders.

“Everybody I know is unemployed,” said Alexandra Papadatou, a 28-year-old jobless economist.

“I am fighting on the streets for this government, which passes all these measures, to fall.”

In the capital, riot police fired a few rounds of teargas during minor scuffles with hooded youths hurling rocks and bottles during an otherwise peaceful demonstration.

Demonstrations also took place in Greece’s second-biggest city, Thessaloniki, and on the island of Crete where dozens of protesters hit the streets waving black flags.

Doctors, lawyers and teachers took part in the protest action organised by private sector union GSEE and the public sector ADEDY.

Representing 2.5 million workers, the unions have gone on strike repeatedly since a debt crisis erupted in late 2009, testing the government’s will to impose the painful conditions of an international bailout in the face of growing public anger.

The strike – the first general work stoppage in Greece this year – forced airport authorities to scrap or reschedule dozens of flights while hospitals operated on reduced staffing.

Greece’s three-party government insists there is no alternative to the harsh austerity program demanded by the country’s creditors in return for vital loans to stave of bankruptcy.

Successive cuts to salaries and pensions over the past three years have angered Greeks who have frequently taken to the streets to demonstrate their frustration.

“I am considered lucky because at least I have a salary, about 600 euros,” said Panayiotis Kolovos, a 25-year-old novice lawyer.

“This amount is probably a privilege for the majority of youth near my age. We truly marginally survive.”

The government has pledged to remedy some of the cuts when the economy limps back into growth next year – a prospect that had been originally forecast for this year.

Facing a sixth year of continuous recession, the heavily indebted country has been relying on international rescue packages to avoid bankruptcy and get its economy back on track.

Since 2010 the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have committed 240 billion euros ($US320 billion) overall in rescue loans to Greece.

Auditors representing Greece’s EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund creditors are expected in Athens next week to assess the progress of its program.

The government has cracked down on striking workers, invoking emergency laws twice this year to get seamen and subway workers back to work after week-long walkouts that paralysed public transport in Athens and led to food shortages on islands.

But labour unrest has picked up in recent weeks.

A visit by French president Francois Hollande in Athens on Tuesday went largely unreported because Greek journalists were on strike.

“The period of virtual euphoria is over,” said opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, whose Syriza party has regained a narrow opinion poll lead over the governing conservatives.

“Those who thought Samaras would renegotiate the terms of the bailout … are now faced with the harsh reality of unpaid bills, closed shops and lost jobs.”

Reuters/AFP

Topics: world-politics, international-financial-crisis, business-economics-and-finance, greece

Thousands speak out over coal mine impact


More than 14,000 public submissions have been made to the State Government regarding the environmental impact of a central Queensland coal mine.


Indian company Adani is proposing to build the Carmichael mine, about 160 kilometres north-west of Clermont in the state’s Central Highlands.


The project will include open-cut and underground operations, as well rail infrastructure, which will be mostly within the boundaries of the Isaac Regional Council area.


A spokesman for Queensland’s Department of State Development says a number of individuals and groups made comment about the proposal during the consultation period.


They included 16 government agencies, 15 organisations and 22 local landholders.


More than 14,000 people made submissions via third-party websites.


During the consultation period, Adani also provided public briefings in Moranbah and Clermont.

Topics: activism-and-lobbying, federal—state-issues, public-sector, mining-rural, mining-industry, clermont-4721, mackay-4740, rockhampton-4700

First posted February 14, 2013 09:47:22

Metronet to create thousands of jobs: McGowan


The State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has again been spruiking the benefits of his party’s Metronet rail system, promoting the plan as a source of employment.


Mr McGowan says Metronet would generate nearly 4000 jobs, at least 2000 of which would be created during the building phase of the $3.8 billion project.


He says a further 1900 flow-on jobs would be created during construction in businesses that supply materials for the project.


“Many jobs in construction and also in the supply industries to create Metronet,” Mr McGowan said.


He says the project will involve 75 kilometres of track work, the construction of new train stations, bridges and overhead power systems.


Mr McGowan says his figures are robust and have been based on rail projects in Western Australia and interstate.

Topics: alp, rail-transport, perth-6000

First posted February 16, 2013 16:08:43

Thousands of Qld flood victims join possible lawsuit

Photo: A map released by Maurice Blackburn shows the projected extent of flooding if Wivenhoe Dam had been differently managed. Bright green spots indicate areas the modelling says would have been spared flooding, and yellow spots are areas that would have flooded had Seqwater operated the dam “properly”. (Supplied: Maurice Blackburn)

Thousands of people have signed on to a possible class action against the Queensland Government for damages incurred in the 2011 floods.


Damian Scattini from Maurice Blackburn says a report by US hydrologists claims the operators of Wivenhoe Dam were negligent and caused unnecessary damage.


“They held too much water in the reservoir for too long, and then when they realised what they’d done, they panicked and released too much at once,” he said.


Maurice Blackburn and IMF Australia have received interest from about 4,000 flood victims, mainly in Brisbane and Ipswich.


John Walker from IMF Australia says the case could be one of the biggest of its kind in Australia.


“We don’t know to a large extent what losses each of those people have had. We’ve worked it out in a broad sense,” he said.


“In the next two to three months we’ll be seeking to get a clear understanding of the losses associated with this flood that didn’t need to occur.”


The lawsuit has a budget of $10 million and if successful, the compensation could run into the billions of dollars.


Seqwater says it is confident the dam was properly managed during the flood crisis.


The company says its view has been supported by a range of independent and leading dam experts.


Lawyers say they will know within a couple of months whether they have enough support to continue with the action which could take up to four years.

Topics: floods, law-crime-and-justice, courts-and-trials, insurance, brisbane-4000, ipswich-4305, qld

First posted January 21, 2013 17:25:29

Thousands of Qld flood victims join possible lawsuit

Updated January 21, 2013 19:04:09

Thousands of people have signed on to a possible class action against the Queensland Government for damages incurred in the 2011 floods.

Damian Scattini from Maurice Blackburn says a report by US hydrologists claims the operators of Wivenhoe Dam were negligent and caused unnecessary damage.

“They held too much water in the reservoir for too long, and then when they realised what they’d done, they panicked and released too much at once,” he said.

Maurice Blackburn and IMF Australia have received interest from about 4,000 flood victims, mainly in Brisbane and Ipswich.

John Walker from IMF Australia says the case could be one of the biggest of its kind in Australia.

“We don’t know to a large extent what losses each of those people have had. We’ve worked it out in a broad sense,” he said.

“In the next two to three months we’ll be seeking to get a clear understanding of the losses associated with this flood that didn’t need to occur.”

The lawsuit has a budget of $10 million and if successful, the compensation could run into the billions of dollars.

Seqwater says it is confident the dam was properly managed during the flood crisis.

The company says its view has been supported by a range of independent and leading dam experts.

Lawyers say they will know within a couple of months whether they have enough support to continue with the action which could take up to four years.

Topics: floods, law-crime-and-justice, courts-and-trials, insurance, brisbane-4000, ipswich-4305, qld

First posted January 21, 2013 17:25:29

Thousands petition to deport Morgan over anti-gun remarks

Posted December 25, 2012 11:13:33

More than 48,000 people have signed a petition in the United States calling for the deportation of British talk show host Piers Morgan over gun control comments made on air.

Morgan last week lambasted pro-gun guests on his CNN show, after the December 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman shot dead 26 people, including 20 children.

“We demand that Mr Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens,” the petition said.

The petition, started on December 21 by a man identified as Kurt N from Austin, Texas, accuses Morgan of subverting the second amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms.

US citizens can file a petition on the White House website if they collect at least 25,000 signatures within 30 days.

The White House is then obliged to issue a response.

Morgan, 47, a former newspaper editor in London, shot back at his critics on Twitter.

He repeated his past calls for the US to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and conduct background checks on all gun purchases.

Five days after the Connecticut massacre, Morgan called a guest, Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners for America, an “idiot”, “dangerous” and an “unbelievably stupid man” when he argued that more guns were needed to combat crime in the US.

“I don’t care about a petition to deport me. I do care about poor NY firefighters murdered/injured with an assault weapon today. #GunControlNow,” Morgan tweeted, referring to a shooting in New York that killed three people including the gunman.

Christa Robinson, a CNN spokeswoman, said the network had no immediate comment on the petition.

Publicist Howard Bragman said the controversy would get Morgan attention that may translate into higher ratings and would not harm his reputation.

“A lot of it comes from his being British, he’s seen the differences between the US and UK, he’s passionate and authentic in taking this issue on, and it’s probably only going to help him attract more people to his show,” he said.

Reuters

Topics: media, united-states

Thousands face first council tax

The 330,000 households who currently get benefit will be £67 worse off on average

About 230,000 households in Wales will pay at least some council tax for the first time if new regulations are approved by the Welsh assembly.


They may only have to pay a relatively small amount, but financial advice groups say it will add to pressure on their services.


The 330,000 households who currently get the benefit will be £67 worse off on average next year.


The Welsh government says 70% of them have not paid council tax before.


The assembly has been recalled from recess to vote on the regulations for a second time on 19 December.


A previous attempt to rush them through before Christmas was blocked by some opposition AMs.

Continue reading the main story
As people’s incomes go down… it’s going to get tough for people to make these payments”

End Quote Fran Targett Director, Citizens Advice Cymru The regulations need to be passed so councils can continue to offer the means-tested benefit in the next financial year, starting in April 2013.


If the regulations are not approved, then no benefit will be paid and everyone will have to meet their bills in full.


But even if they are approved, benefit recipients are likely to lose out because of a cut in funding.


Of the 330,000 households in Wales currently getting the benefit, the Welsh government says 70% – around 230,000 – will have to pay council tax for the first time.


Citizens Advice Cymru director Fran Targett said at the end of the last quarter the service had seen a 136% year-on-year increase in inquiries about benefits.


“There are people who never paid [council tax] before because of 100% benefit,” she said.


“With these changes they will need to pay, so there’s an issue about giving them assistance with financial management and budgeting and helping them to make these payments,” she said.


£22m shortfall


“As people’s incomes go down – these people in work and people on benefits – it’s going to get tough for people to make these payments.


“The people we are talking about who are at that stage are already on the margin at or below poverty, and large numbers of them will be families with children – £67 when you are already at or below the poverty line is impossible to find.”


Ministers hoped to get the regulations approved last Wednesday at what should have been the assembly’s final full meeting of the year.


But they were accused of treating the assembly with contempt by tabling hundreds of pages of technical documents around 30 minutes before the vote took place.

AMs Mark Drakeford and Jocelyn Davies debate the council tax benefit vote on Sunday Politics Wales


The regulations are necessary because the UK government is handing over responsibility for the benefit to local councils. It is also cutting the amount of funding available by about 10%.


The Welsh government says it cannot afford to make up for the shortfall of £22m.


Documents accompanying the regulations say adjusting to the new system will leave councils with one-off costs, such as for IT and staff training, of between £1.5m and £1.9m.


Because of the increased number of first-time rate payers, collection rates could deteriorate, causing a further increase in costs.


Together with other reforms to welfare and legal aid, the documents warn the changes could put more pressure on advice services.


The Welsh government says its regulations are designed to avoid a postcode lottery so the amount of benefit people are entitled to is not dependent on where they live.


The decision to recall the assembly by Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler follows an agreement between First Minister Carwyn Jones, the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru.


Mr Jones said inter-party talks failed last week because “the usual channels didn’t work”.


They had now agreed on a way forward after Plaid and the Lib Dem asked for sufficient time for scrutiny, he said.


“We’ve had council tax benefit thrown at us with a 10% cut in the budget for council tax. It’s very difficult to find that money in-year particularly and for the financial years to come as well,” Mr Jones said.


“We will continue to look at the situation, but it certainly isn’t easy to plug a gap that the Treasury themselves have created.”

Thousands join stop CSG protests across NSW

Updated October 13, 2012 15:36:57


Up to 3,000 people have donned yellow clothing in the New South Wales north coast town of Murwillumbah as they march in protest to coal seam gas mining.


They were joined by about 1,000 protesters in Sydney’s inner-west, who formed a human sign spelling out “Stop CSG”.


Murwillumbah rally spokeswoman Amanda Shoebridge says comments by the New South Wales Government this week that coal seam gas mining is inevitable failed to dampen the community’s resolve.


“People will really, after news like that, dig their heels in and say well ‘actually mate, no, no we’re not going to allow CSG in here and you don’t have social licence to do it, you don’t have the approval of the community and it’s not going to happen’,” she said.


Stop CSG Sydney spokeswoman Jacinta Green says there is nothing to prevent miners exploring the Sydney basin, water catchments and prime agricultural land.


“Not one inch of New South Wales has been left off limits to the coal seam gas industry,” she said.


Similar protests are set to be held across the country as part of a national week of action against the CSG industry.


Protesters are concerned state governments are not doing enough to protect the environment from coal seam gas mining.


First posted October 13, 2012 14:05:12

Thousands in new rally against Portuguese austerity

Saturday, 29 September 2012 20:49 Posted by Muhammad Iqbal

dertytLISBON: Thousands of Portuguese took to the streets of Lisbon on Saturday in a new protest against government financial policies expected to get even tougher to meet pledges to creditors.

Marchers converged from several directions on the central Praca do Comercio square at the call of the main CGTP trade union body to demonstrate against “the theft of wages and pensions.”

Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar has indicated the government will announce new measures including spending cuts and capital tax hikes to meet deficit targets that are key for Portugal to receive more funds under a bailout worth 78 billion euros ($101.5 billion) from international lenders.

The new tax hikes are expected to bridge a two billion euro gap in planned savings after the constitutional court ruled against a move to cut civil servants’ 13th and 14th month pay.

The call was backed by popular “indignant” and other movements, including a group claiming to be apolitical which succeeded in mobilising hundreds of thousands of people in some 30 towns and cities two weeks ago.

Demonstrators blew on whistles and beat drums as they shouted “Down with austerity” and waved the flags of unions representing local government workers, teachers and even police.

“Our future is being mortgaged by the demands of the troika,” 56-year-old government employee Francisco Lopes said, referring to the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund providing the bailout.

“The Portuguese people are fed up with it.” Lopes, demonstrating for the first time, was accompanied by his son Rui, 27. ”I’m very worried, we’re in a never-ending spiral and I don’t see how my generation can have work, a home or a family,” the younger man said.

Unemployed textile workers Maria Jose Oliveira and her husband who had come by bus from Braga in the northwest, also said it was their first demonstration since the 1974 revolution that overthrew the Salazar dictatorship.

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s government met Wednesday to examine proposals to raise taxes in place of enacting painful wage cuts.

A plan to slash take home pay, through a rise in employees’ social charges from 11 to 18 percent while cutting employers’ contributions to 18 percent from 23.75 percent, had to be abandoned because of fierce opposition across the country.

Instead, the government is now looking at a rise in revenue tax as well as introducing new taxes on capital and assets.

The new measures would still have to be approved by the troika. The cabinet met in a seven hour session after which it released a statement saying that “the government has begun detailing its budget proposal for 2013 which would be presented to parliament” before October 15.

Spending cuts and economic reforms have caused a recession, with the economy shrinking by 1.2 percent in the second quarter, much faster than the 0.1 percent rate in the first quarter. The contraction is expected to reach 3.0 percent for the whole year.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

Govt to confiscate thousands of non-customs paid vehicles

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to confiscate thousands of non-customs paid vehicles as tax authorities obtained data of 2.1 million vehicles from all provincial excise and registration departments and data of approximately 0.3 million imported vehicles from Pakistan Revenue Authority Limited (PRAL), sources report.

“Now this data will be cross matched to detect those owners who possess tampered or illegal vehicles. There are certain instances where one vehicle has been registered with different excise departments in order to provide cover to thousands of illegal and non-custom paid vehicles running on roads in our country,” official sources in the FBR confirmed on Monday.

Moreover, senior member Inland Revenue Service (IRS) Asrar Raouf confirmed that they were receiving data of vehicles from provincial governments including AJK, Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

“We will cross match this data in order to detect illegal and non-customs paid vehicles and will confiscate these vehicles. They will only be released after payment of duties and penalties,” he concluded.

Data has been obtained about illegal vehicles in order to comply with the orders of the Supreme Court against these vehicles. Interestingly, there are flaws in the import data compiled by PRAL, a subsidiary of the FBR, as its data showed imported vehicles stood at 269,000 but when the authorities concerned ran the data they found that the number of imported vehicles was as high as 313,000. Hence authorities are confused about the authenticity of this data.

According to the data, there are 670,000 registered vehicles in Balochistan and Karachi alone and by adding interior Sindh to the list there could be approximately 0.1 million more such vehicles.

“We are processing the data received from provincial authorities and a complete picture will be available after one week,” said the sources. According to FBR authorities, who are responsible for processing this data, rough estimates suggest that 2.1 million vehicles, including 0.3 million imported cars, are running on the roads in Pakistan.

FBR customs member Riaz Ahmed Khan confirmed that they had collected more than 90 percent data from provincial authorities in accordance with the directives given by the apex court of the country.

“Now we are giving final shape to this data with the purpose of cross matching the data and detecting information about those vehicles which are running on the roads illegally,” he added. However, sources say that the crackdown against non-customs paid or tampered vehicles could not be executed until the centralised data bank was established with the help of provincial authorities.

Tax authorities believe that thousands of non-customs paid vehicles are plying the roads and in many cases the owners have acquired fake registration with the help of provincial excise and taxation departments.

There are also said to be several cases where vehicles in different parts of the country were given the same registration number. By confiscating such vehicles and imposing penalties against their owners, sources said, the FBR is hoping to net between Rs50 to 60 billion during the ongoing financial year.

Sources in the FBR have said that hundreds of illegal vehicles are available on the Chaman border at Vaish Mandi, at showrooms located on Saryab road in Quetta and even in Landikotal. FBR insiders are already anticipating pressure from the political quarters and other influential groups since the owners of luxury vehicles mostly belong to these groups.