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News briefs:May 26, 2010

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News briefs:May 26, 2010
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Wikinews Shorts: April 15, 2007

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Wikinews Shorts: April 15, 2007

A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, April 15, 2007.

Contents

  • 1 Policy pundit says UK has ‘lost the plot’ on alcohol
  • 2 39 now dead in Thai floods
  • 3 Will Iranian detainees remain in US custody?
  • 4 Another violent day in Baghdad

Writing in PPR, the Institute of Public Policy Research’s journal, Jasper Gerard has argued that, “When it comes to booze, society seems to have lost its senses,” and implies the UK has lost-the-plot on alcohol regulation.

The claim in comes alongside calls for ‘tough-love’ tactics to tackle the UK’s drinking culture in which a fifth of 11-15 year olds drink alcohol at least once a week.

Amongst the recommendations, is the idea that the legal drinking age, in the UK, should be raised to 21. Gerard states that with such a move, “it is at least possible that those in their early and mid teens will not see drink as something they will soon be allowed to do so therefore they might as well start doing it surreptitiously now.”

Both industry, and alcoholism support groups have already challenged Gerard’s comments.

Sources


A flash flood sent a torrent of water rushing over two waterfalls in southern Thailand. More than 100 tourists and people celebrating Songkran (Thai New Year) were cooling off in the water beneath the falls. “Seven more dead bodies were brought to hospital this morning, bringing the death toll up to thirty-five,” said Sinchai Rongdej, the hospital director at Yantakhao district. Fifteen of the dead were children. Thirty-four of the confirmed dead were Thai, Sinchai said, while one of the victims was a Laos national. Latest reports from the Bangkok Post indicate that the death toll had risen to 39 by Sunday nightfall, including 17 children. Of those injured, 25 have so far been discharged from hospital..

Provincial governor, Arnon Manasvanich said, “The search is continuing, but my belief is we might find more bodies of women and children as they couldn’t escape in time.”

“We are still searching in the hope of finding survivors — we do have hope left,” said Colonel Sonthichai Awatanakulthep, Yantakhao police chief. In a later statement, Trang Province police Major-General Kachorn Siriwan admitted that at least 30 people were still missing.

Sources


Five Iranians captured in January by the United States during a security operation in Erbil, Iraq are continuing to be held by US authorities, despite objections from the Iranian government.

BBC News reported that US Secretary of State argued for the their releaseon the grounds they were “no longer useful,” but was overruled by the White House. Iran claims the five captured are diplomats, while the US maintains that they are members of the Revolutionary Guard and were supplying arms, money, and military training to Iraqi insurgents.

However, since that report, Iran said it has received some signals concerning the possible release of the five Iranians, state television reported.

Related news

  • “US raids Iran ‘liaison office’, Russia says it is unacceptable” — Wikinews, January 12, 2007

Sources


Sunday was another violent day in Baghdad. Bomb attacks on a market place and a mini-bus, claimed the lives of as many as 35 people in Shi’ite neighborhoods of Iraq’s capital city.

Two car bombs went off within minutes of each other at a market place in the al-Shurta al-Arabaa district. The second bomb may have been targeting rescuers. At least eighteen are dead and many wounded.

In Kadhimiya in northern Baghdad, a suicide bomber boarded a minibus. Six were killed and eleven wounded when the explosives belt detonated.

In Karrada, an affluent neighborhood of Baghdad, a parked minibus blew up in a street with electronics shops, possibly targeting a police patrol. Five were left dead and another ten injured.

Separately, two British Puma transport helicopters crashed after they reportedly collided. Two crew members were killed.

Sources

Elwood Norris receives 2005 Lemelson-MIT Prize for invention

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Elwood Norris receives 2005 Lemelson-MIT Prize for invention

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

MIT has announced that Elwood “Woody” Norris, inventor of potentially revolutionary technologies of Hypersonic Sound beams and AirScooter flying vehicles, will receive this year’s Lemelson-MIT prize for invention this Friday, April 22. The prize comes with an award of US$500,000, making it the largest single award for invention given in the United States.

Contents

  • 1 Hypersonic Sound beams
  • 2 AirScooter flying vehicles
  • 3 Woody Norris
  • 4 Sources
  • 5 Press Releases
  • 6 External links

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Virgin Rail train collides with car near Copmanthorpe, killing driver

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Virgin Rail train collides with car near Copmanthorpe, killing driver

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Virgin Trains train travelling at high speed collided with a car near Copmanthorpe, Yorkshire, England, killing the car’s driver.

The accident took place at approximately 20:55 GMT when the Class 220/221 train, travelling at close to 100mph, hit the car which was on the tracks. The train then partially derailed but remained upright, coming to a stop further down the tracks. The car driver is believed to have been killed instantly. No one on the train was injured.

The car was not at a level crossing. North Yorkshire Police said that the car had left the road, driven through a fence and ended up on the track.

The train was the 14:25 Virgin Voyager cross-country service from Plymouth to Edinburgh Waverley, capable of speeds up to 125mph, but was deccelerating on approach into York. There were 74 passengers on board.

The line between York and Leeds was closed for several hours, delaying other services. Virgin Spokesman Arthur Leathley told reporters that Network Rail hoped to have three of the four lines in that section of the track operational by Tuesday morning.

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Sears Holdings to close 80 more Sears and Kmart Stores

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Sears Holdings to close 80 more Sears and Kmart Stores

Monday, December 31, 2018

On Friday, US retail chain Sears Holdings announced it would close another 80 of its Sears and Kmart locations by the end of March. These closings come on the heels of more than 180 store closings announced since the company declared bankruptcy on October 15, with the two sets of closings together representing roughtly a third of all Sears and Kmart stores in operation, leaving the company with somewhat over 400 locations after the latest round of closings are complete.

Sears chairman and primary shareholder Edward Lampert and the company’s other creditors continue to dispute the future of the company in bankruptcy court. Some creditors for the Sears Holding Corporation are pushing for the bankruptcy court to dissolve the company, arguing doing so would minimize the negative impact to their investments. Lampert, to the contrary, made a US$4.4 billion offer on the company’s remaining stores and the Kenmore brand. This offer was backed by US$1.3 billion in investments from entities outside Lampert’s hedge fund reportedly including Bank of America, Citigroup, and the Royal Bank of Canada.

Lampert’s offer, if accepted by the bankruptcy court, would keep over 420 Sears and Kmart stores open as well as keep, by reported projection, up to 50,000 job positions filled. Additionally the bid seeks to preserve protection agreements and warranties that Sears and Kmart customers have purchased for appliances, electronics, and other consumer products. Outside of Lampert’s US$4.4 billion offer no other entity has come forward with a bid to purchase the whole company with intent to keep it in operation. The only other offers received for the whole company have been from entities seeking to close the company and liquidate its assets.

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Hidden treasure worth billions of dollars discovered in Indian temple

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Hidden treasure worth billions of dollars discovered in Indian temple

Monday, July 4, 2011

Officials announced that a treasure containing sacks of diamonds and gold coins as well as golden idols, jewelry and other riches has been discovered in the secret subterranean vaults of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, in the southwestern state of Kerala, India. Estimates of its worth have been rising and it is now thought to be worth US$20 billion.

The Hindu temple was built in the 16th century by the kings of the then Kingdom of Travancore to serve as a royal chapel for the rulers of Travancore. The six vaults containing the treasure have been undisturbed for over a century. Assessment of the treasure began on June 27 after a lawyer concerned about the security of the treasure petitioned India’s Supreme Court, which then appointed a seven-member panel of experts to inventory the treasure. The panel does not have the power to determine to whom the treasure will belong. Estimates of the treasure’s worth are rising, provoking a heated debate as to how the treasure will be used in a country that has 450 million poverty-stricken people.

The chief minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy, announced on Sunday the treasure would remain with the temple, and security matters would be decided in consultation with the Travancore Royal Family, the temple management, and the temple priest.

The gold was offered to the lord. It is the property of the temple.

“The gold was offered to the lord. It is the property of the temple. The government will protect the wealth at the temple,” Oommen Chandy said. Meanwhile, hundreds of armed police have been deployed around the temple to protect the treasure.

However, the view that the treasure should remain at the temple has been disputed. Among the dissenters is eminent jurist V R Krishna Iyer, who said the treasure should be put in a national trust for the peoples’ benefit. “God’s wealth belongs to the people, not to the king. It’s meaningless to say that it belongs to Hindus or any particular religious community,” said Iyer. “A mechanism should be devised to ensure that the benefits of it reach the poor and the needy and not the rich.”

Five of the six vaults of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple have been inventoried.

God’s wealth belongs to the people, not to the king. It’s meaningless to say that it belongs to Hindus or any particular religious community.

On Saturday, reports leaked to the press revealed that the treasure, including a golden idol of Mahavishnu and a golden ‘anki’, were found in one of the vaults, estimated to weigh 30 kilograms, along with precious stones, silver, two coconut shells of pure gold and another golden idol as well as other jewels and valuable coins. The panel hopes to find more treasure when the sixth and final vault is opened, but the attempt was suspended on Monday because the iron door inside presented “technical problems” requiring further consultation before opening. This vault is thought to contain the bulk of the wealth.

Keralan officials in a preliminary estimate said that the treasure was worth over US$11.2 billion; those estimates have now risen to US$20 billion. Historians say that the temple’s location on a site through which passed lucrative trade routes support the higher evaluations.

“Traders, who used to come from other parts of the country and abroad for buying spices and other commodities, used to make handsome offerings to the deity for not only his blessings but also to please the then rulers,” said P.J. Cherian, the director of Kerala Council for Historic Research

Some suggest that the profit from the sale of the treasure would be enough to wipe out the entire public debt of Kerala and fund future Kerala projects such as seaports, airports and highways.

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13th Annual Beverly Hills film festival opens

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13th Annual Beverly Hills film festival opens

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The 2013 Beverly Hills Film Festival is set to open on Wednesday. The event will feature multiple independently produced films and screenplays. 130 screenplays have been listed as finalists in the Screenplays category. The festival spans five days, ending on May 13th. Numerous films will be screened at the festival, including the short film, Byron’s Theme. Other films include A Thousand Kisses Deep, and A White Mule.

Screenwriter and indie film producer, Kara Rainer’s story entitled RORRIM was selected as a finalist in the screenplay category. Rainer told Wikinews, “…I am thrilled that RORRIM was picked with so many [screenplays] being selected.” Rainer’s story revolves largely around an old hand mirror she discovered while attending an estate sale in Dallas, Texas.

In 2012, the festival opened with the film, The Black Tulip, a film shot entirely in Afghanistan. That film ultimately won multiple awards at that year’s festival, including Best Producer and Best Actor. Previous festival attendees reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in Hollywood: Martin Landua, Danny Devito and Doris Roberts, among many others. The festival will be featured at the historic Chinese 6 Theatres on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

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After killing wife and children, police officer commits suicide in Noyon, France

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After killing wife and children, police officer commits suicide in Noyon, France

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A police officer has shot and killed his wife and two of their children at the train station in the French city of Noyon in the department of Oise, the local prosecutor said, after the wife had informed the officer of her intention to separate from him. Their sons were aged three and five; a third child, twin to the five year old victim, survived the attack and is in the care of child services. The killings took place around 11:30 local time (0930 UTC) on Sunday.

The wife, born in 1983, called the gendarmes (police) in the morning, and they arrived to find her explaining to their five children about the domestic argument which had escalated. The husband returned while the police were present, and they reported he seemed calm and did not interfere with the children being moved to a neighbor’s home, so they departed. The woman reportedly chose to leave her house when her husband was not there, and headed to the station, where the husband awaited them armed.

After assassinating his family, the police officer committed suicide. The wife’s family lived in Guiscard, near Noyon. The station at Noyon was closed after the incident. Late on Sunday, the police were searching for a witness who escaped after observing the events.

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California’s violent video game ban law ruled unconstitutional by US Court of Appeals

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California’s violent video game ban law ruled unconstitutional by US Court of Appeals

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday has declared unconstitutional California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793, the California “ultraviolent video games law” that sought to ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

Federal judge Consuelo M. Callahan has ruled that the 2005 statewide ban, which has yet to be enforced, violates minors’ rights under the US Constitution’s First and 14th amendment because even the most graphic on-screen mayhem, video game content represents free speech that cannot be censored without proper justification.

The Court has ruled that there’s no convincing evidence it causes psychological damage to young people. The 3-0 judgment has affirmed an earlier ruling by a U.S. District Court, which barred enforcement of the law on the basis that it was “unduly restrictive” and “used overly broad definitions,” and that the state failed to show that the limitations on violent video games would actually protect children.

In 2005, Leland Yee (???), a California State Senator (in District 8 which includes the western half of San Francisco and most of San Mateo County), Speaker pro Tempore of the Assembly (D-San Francisco/Daly City), introduced California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793 which barred “ultra-violent” video games from minors under the age of eighteen in California and mandated the application of ESRB ratings for video games.

“California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793” were commonly called the “ultraviolent video games bills” or simply “video game ban” bills. Bill 1792 banned the sales of such video games while Bill 1793 required signs explaining the regulations on said games to be placed where such were sold. Both bills were passed by the Assembly and signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger into law (AB 1179) on October 7, 2005.

Explicitly, these two bills provided that:

  • AB 1792 will place ultra-violent video games into the “matter” portion of the penal code, which criminalizes the sale of said material to a minor.
  • AB 1793 will require retailers to place M-rated games separate from other games intended for children, and will also require retailers to display signage explaining the ESRB rating system.

Yee, a former child psychologist has publicly criticized such games as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Manhunt 2, and opposes the U.S. Army’s Global Gaming League.

On October 17, 2005, before the effectivity of the challenged Act, plaintiffs Video Software Dealers Association, the not-for-profit international trade association dedicated to advancing the interests of the $32 billion home entertainment industry and Entertainment Software Association, a 1994 US trade association of the video game industry have filed lawsuit (D.C. No. CV-05-04188-RMW) against the defendants Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, CA Attorney General, Edmund G. Brown, Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy, City Attorney for the City of San Jose, Richard Doyle, and County Counsel for the County of Santa Clara, Ann Miller Ravel.

Plaintiffs’ counsel, Jenner & Block‘s Paul M. Smith has filed a declaratory relief to invalidate the newly-enacted California Civil Code sections 1746-1746.5 (the “Act”), on the grounds that it allegedly violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Plaintiffs have submitted that “the Act unconstitutionally curtailed freedom of expression on its face based on content regulation and the labeling requirement, was unconstitutionally vague, and violated equal protection. California’s restrictions could open the door for states to limit minors’ access to other material under the guise of protecting children.”

By December 2005, both bills had been struck down as unconstitutional, by Ronald M. Whyte, District Judge, Presiding in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, thereby preventing either from going into effect on January 1, 2006.

Judge Whyte has granted plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction in “Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger,” 401 F. Supp. 2d 1034 (N.D. Cal. 2005), and cross-motions for summary judgment, in “Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger,” No. C-05-04188, slip op. (N.D. Cal. Aug. 6, 2007).

Similar bills were subsequently filed in such states as Illinois, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Michigan and Louisiana have been ruled to be unconstitutional by federal courts on First Amendment grounds, according to Sean Bersell, a spokesman for the Entertainment Merchants Association.

The defendants, in the instant Case No. 07-16620, have timely appealed the judgment. On October 29, 2008, the appealed case was argued and submitted to the Sacramento, California‘s U.S. Court of Appeals, hence, the promulgation of the instant 30 pages decision (No. 07-16620; D.C. No. CV-05-04188-RMW) by Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Sidney R. Thomas and Consuelo M. Callahan (who wrote the court’s opinion), United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Judges.

In the ban’s defense, Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, Zackery Morazzini has contended that “if governments restrict the sale of pornography to minors, it should also create a separate category for ultra-violent video games.” Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr., California Attorney General, has also argued that “the Court should analyze the Act’s restrictions under what has been called the ‘variable obscenity’ or ‘obscenity as to minors’ standard first mentioned in Ginsberg, 390 U.S. 629. The Court’s reasoning in Ginsberg that a state could prohibit the sale of sexually-explicit material to minors that it could not ban from distribution to adults should be extended to materials containing violence.”

The “Fallo” or dispositive portion of the judgment in question goes as follows:

We hold that the Act, as a presumptively invalid contentbased restriction on speech, is subject to strict scrutiny and not the “variable obscenity” standard from Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629 (1968). Applying strict scrutiny, we hold that the Act violates rights protected by the First Amendment because the State has not demonstrated a compelling interest, has not tailored the restriction to its alleged compelling interest, and there exist less-restrictive means that would further the State’s expressed interests. Additionally, we hold that the Act’s labeling requirement is unconstitutionally compelled speech under the First Amendment because it does not require the disclosure of purely factual information; but compels the carrying of the State’s controversial opinion. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Plaintiffs and its denial of the State’s cross-motion. Because we affirm the district court on these grounds, we do not reach two of Plaintiffs’ challenges to the Act: first, that the language of the Act is unconstitutionally vague, and, second, that the Act violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.—”Video Software Dealers Association; Entertainment Software Association v. Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Kennedy” – No. 07-16620; D.C. No. CV-05-04188-RMW – Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Sidney R. Thomas and

Consuelo M. Callahan, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Circuit Judges.

“We need to help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder,” said the law’s author, Sen. Leland Yee, announcing he wanted Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr., the current Attorney General and a former governor of the State of California, to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Letting the industry police itself is like letting kids sign their own report cards and that a self regulating system simply doesn’t work. I’ve always contended that the … law the governor signed was a good one for protecting children from the harm from playing these ultra-violent video games. I’ve always felt it would end up in the Supreme Court,” Sen. Yee explained. “In fact, the high court recently agreed, in Roper v. Simmons (2005), that we need to treat children differently in the eyes of the law due to brain development,” he added.

According to Michael D. Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Association, plaintiff, the Court’s ruling has stressed that parents, with assistance from the industry, are the ones who should control what games their children play. “This is a clear signal that in California and across the country, the reckless pursuit of anti-video game legislation like this is an exercise in wasting taxpayer money, government time and state resources,” Gallagher said in a statement.

California’s violent video game law properly seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of excessively violent, interactive video games. While I am deeply disappointed in today’s ruling, we should not stop our efforts to assist parents in keeping these harmful video games out of the hands of children.

Entertainment Software Association members include Disney Interactive Studios, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Corp, THQ Inc, Sony Computer Entertainment America, and Take-Two Interactive Software, the maker of “Grand Theft Auto” games.

Judge Callahan has also reprimanded state lawyers for having failed to show any reasonable alternatives to an outright statewide ban against the ultra-violent video games. “Ratings education, retailer ratings enforcement, and control of game play by parents are the appropriate responses to concerns about video game content,” said Bo Andersen, president and chief executive of the Entertainment Merchants Association.

Andersen continues, “retailers are committed to assisting parents in assuring that children do not purchase games that are not appropriate for their age. Independent surveys show that retailers are doing a very good job in this area, with an 80 percent enforcement rate, and retailers will continue to work to increase enforcement rates even further; the court has correctly noted that the state cannot simply dismiss these efforts.”

California was already forced to pay $282,794 to the ESA for attorneys’ fees, money that would’ve helped with the state’s current budget difficulties. Andersen has urged California government officials not to appeal the case. “The estimated $283,000 in taxpayer money spent by the state on this case is so far an ‘ill-advised, and ultimately doomed, attempt at state-sponsored nannyism.’ A voluntary ratings system already exists to avoid the state-sponsored nannyism of a ban,” he explained.

“The governor believes strongly we have a responsibility to our children and our communities to protect against the effects of video games depicting ultra-violent actions,” said Governor Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Camille Anderson adding the governor was reviewing Friday’s decision.

Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini, the state’s counsel in the appealed case, has stressed that “a law restricting sales of violent games is far more effective than industry self-policing, since the technological controls that the court cited as another alternative can be easily bypassed by any kid with an Internet connection.”

According to Jim Steyer, Founder of Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization of 750,000 regular users dedicated to improving children’s media lives, researches have shown that playing these violent video games are detrimental for kids mental and physical health. “The health threat involved with kids playing such games is equivalent to smoking cigarettes,” Steyer said. “These violent video games are learning tools for our children and clearly result in more aggressive behavior,” said Randall Hagar, California Psychiatric Association’s Director of Government Affairs.

The Federal Trade Commission‘s data reveals that “nearly 70 percent of thirteen to sixteen year olds are able to purchase M-rated (Mature) video games, which are designed for adults; ninety-two percent of children play video or computer games, of which about forty percent are rated M, which are the fastest growing segment of the 10 billion-dollar video game industry; the top selling games reward players for killing police officers, maiming elderly persons, running over pedestrians and committing despicable acts of murder and torture upon women and racial minorities.”

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Polish drug company Jelfa ordered to shut-down over mislabelled drugs

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Polish drug company Jelfa ordered to shut-down over mislabelled drugs

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Polish Prime Minister Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski has ordered the pharmaceutical company Jelfa to halt production following revelations that Jelfa had placed mislabelled medication on the market, whose use could be potentially fatal.

Jelfa distributed vials labelled as Corhydron, a hydrocortisone used to treat allergies and inflammation, but in fact containing Suxamethonium chloride, a drug normally used to cause muscle paralysis during emergency surgery.

The Health Ministry has appealed to people suffering from asthma or allergies to check their medication and return any Corhydron ampoules they possess to the pharmacy.

Polskie Radio reports that the mislabelling was discovered a month ago, but Jelfa and the Polish Health ministry did not inform of the problem.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski ordered Jelfa to halt production until it can assure the Polish Government that it can properly manage its production.

The Polish Outlook reports that that drug companies in Poland were operating unregulated since December, 2005 as the regulations has expired. The government was putting in place new regulations.

The owner of Jelfa is AB Sanitas, the largest drug producer in neighbouring Lithuania. The shut-down has been questioned by the Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, who expressed concern over the situation and said that he wants to try to settle the issue diplomatically.

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