Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gay Talese wants to go to Iraq. “It so happens there is someone that’s working on such a thing right now for me,” the 75-year-old legendary journalist and author told David Shankbone. “Even if I was on Al-Jazeera with a gun to my head, I wouldn’t be pleading with those bastards! I’d say, ‘Go ahead. Make my day.'”

Few reporters will ever reach the stature of Talese. His 1966 profile of Frank Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, was not only cited by The Economist as the greatest profile of Sinatra ever written, but is considered the greatest of any celebrity profile ever written. In the 70th anniversary issue of Esquire in October 2003, the editors declared the piece the “Best Story Esquire Ever Published.”

Talese helped create and define a new style of literary reporting called New Journalism. Talese himself told National Public Radio he rejects this label (“The term new journalism became very fashionable on college campuses in the 1970s and some of its practitioners tended to be a little loose with the facts. And that’s where I wanted to part company.”)

He is not bothered by the Bancrofts selling The Wall Street Journal—”It’s not like we should lament the passing of some noble dynasty!”—to Rupert Murdoch, but he is bothered by how the press supported and sold the Iraq War to the American people. “The press in Washington got us into this war as much as the people that are controlling it,” said Talese. “They took information that was second-hand information, and they went along with it.” He wants to see the Washington press corp disbanded and sent around the country to get back in touch with the people it covers; that the press should not be so focused on–and in bed with–the federal government.

Augusten Burroughs once said that writers are experience junkies, and Talese fits the bill. Talese–who has been married to Nan Talese (she edited James Frey‘s Million Little Piece) for fifty years–can be found at baseball games in Cuba or the gay bars of Beijing, wanting to see humanity in all its experience.

Below is Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s interview with Gay Talese.


  • 1 On Gay Talese
  • 2 On a higher power and how he’d like to die
  • 3 On the media and Iraq
  • 4 On the Iraq War
  • 5 State of Journalism
  • 6 On travel to Cuba
  • 7 On Chinese gay bars
  • 8 On the literary canon
  • 9 Sources
G20 protests: Inside a labour march
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Wikinews accredited reporter Killing Vector traveled to the G-20 2009 summit protests in London with a group of protesters. This is his personal account.

Friday, April 3, 2009

London – “Protest”, says Ross Saunders, “is basically theatre”.

It’s seven a.m. and I’m on a mini-bus heading east on the M4 motorway from Cardiff toward London. I’m riding with seventeen members of the Cardiff Socialist Party, of which Saunders is branch secretary for the Cardiff West branch; they’re going to participate in a march that’s part of the protests against the G-20 meeting.

Before we boarded the minibus Saunders made a speech outlining the reasons for the march. He said they were “fighting for jobs for young people, fighting for free education, fighting for our share of the wealth, which we create.” His anger is directed at the government’s response to the economic downturn: “Now that the recession is underway, they’ve been trying to shoulder more of the burden onto the people, and onto the young people…they’re expecting us to pay for it.” He compared the protest to the Jarrow March and to the miners’ strikes which were hugely influential in the history of the British labour movement. The people assembled, though, aren’t miners or industrial workers — they’re university students or recent graduates, and the march they’re going to participate in is the Youth Fight For Jobs.

The Socialist Party was formerly part of the Labour Party, which has ruled the United Kingdom since 1997 and remains a member of the Socialist International. On the bus, Saunders and some of his cohorts — they occasionally, especially the older members, address each other as “comrade” — explains their view on how the split with Labour came about. As the Third Way became the dominant voice in the Labour Party, culminating with the replacement of Neil Kinnock with Tony Blair as party leader, the Socialist cadre became increasingly disaffected. “There used to be democratic structures, political meetings” within the party, they say. The branch meetings still exist but “now, they passed a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways, and they [the party leadership] just ignored it.” They claim that the disaffection with New Labour has caused the party to lose “half its membership” and that people are seeking alternatives. Since the economic crisis began, Cardiff West’s membership has doubled, to 25 members, and the RMT has organized itself as a political movement running candidates in the 2009 EU Parliament election. The right-wing British National Party or BNP is making gains as well, though.

Talk on the bus is mostly political and the news of yesterday’s violence at the G-20 demonstrations, where a bank was stormed by protesters and 87 were arrested, is thick in the air. One member comments on the invasion of a RBS building in which phone lines were cut and furniture was destroyed: “It’s not very constructive but it does make you smile.” Another, reading about developments at the conference which have set France and Germany opposing the UK and the United States, says sardonically, “we’re going to stop all the squabbles — they’re going to unite against us. That’s what happens.” She recounts how, in her native Sweden during the Second World War, a national unity government was formed among all major parties, and Swedish communists were interned in camps, while Nazi-leaning parties were left unmolested.

In London around 11am the march assembles on Camberwell Green. About 250 people are here, from many parts of Britain; I meet marchers from Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, and especially organized-labor stronghold Sheffield. The sky is grey but the atmosphere is convivial; five members of London’s Metropolitan Police are present, and they’re all smiling. Most marchers are young, some as young as high school age, but a few are older; some teachers, including members of the Lewisham and Sheffield chapters of the National Union of Teachers, are carrying banners in support of their students.

Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!’

Stewards hand out sheets of paper with the words to call-and-response chants on them. Some are youth-oriented and education-oriented, like the jaunty “Gordon Brown‘s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!'” (sung to the tune of the Lonnie Donegan song “My Old Man’s a Dustman“); but many are standbys of organized labour, including the infamous “workers of the world, unite!“. It also outlines the goals of the protest, as “demands”: “The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 and hour. No to cheap labour apprenticeships! for all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end. No to university fees. support the campaign to defeat fees.” Another steward with a megaphone and a bright red t-shirt talks the assembled protesters through the basics of call-and-response chanting.

Finally the march gets underway, traveling through the London boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. Along the route of the march more police follow along, escorting and guiding the march and watching it carefully, while a police van with flashing lights clears the route in front of it. On the surface the atmosphere is enthusiastic, but everyone freezes for a second as a siren is heard behind them; it turns out to be a passing ambulance.

Crossing Southwark Bridge, the march enters the City of London, the comparably small but dense area containing London’s financial and economic heart. Although one recipient of the protesters’ anger is the Bank of England, the march does not stop in the City, only passing through the streets by the London Exchange. Tourists on buses and businessmen in pinstripe suits record snippets of the march on their mobile phones as it passes them; as it goes past a branch of HSBC the employees gather at the glass store front and watch nervously. The time in the City is brief; rather than continue into the very centre of London the march turns east and, passing the Tower of London, proceeds into the poor, largely immigrant neighbourhoods of the Tower Hamlets.

The sun has come out, and the spirits of the protesters have remained high. But few people, only occasional faces at windows in the blocks of apartments, are here to see the march and it is in Wapping High Street that I hear my first complaint from the marchers. Peter, a steward, complains that the police have taken the march off its original route and onto back streets where “there’s nobody to protest to”. I ask how he feels about the possibility of violence, noting the incidents the day before, and he replies that it was “justified aggression”. “We don’t condone it but people have only got certain limitations.”

There’s nobody to protest to!

A policeman I ask is very polite but noncommittal about the change in route. “The students are getting the message out”, he says, so there’s no problem. “Everyone’s very well behaved” in his assessment and the atmosphere is “very positive”. Another protestor, a sign-carrying university student from Sheffield, half-heartedly returns the compliment: today, she says, “the police have been surprisingly unridiculous.”

The march pauses just before it enters Cable Street. Here, in 1936, was the site of the Battle of Cable Street, and the march leader, addressing the protesters through her megaphone, marks the moment. She draws a parallel between the British Union of Fascists of the 1930s and the much smaller BNP today, and as the protesters follow the East London street their chant becomes “The BNP tell racist lies/We fight back and organise!”

In Victoria Park — “The People’s Park” as it was sometimes known — the march stops for lunch. The trade unions of East London have organized and paid for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and tea, and, picnic-style, the marchers enjoy their meals as organized labor veterans give brief speeches about industrial actions from a small raised platform.

A demonstration is always a means to and end.

During the rally I have the opportunity to speak with Neil Cafferky, a Galway-born Londoner and the London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march. I ask him first about why, despite being surrounded by red banners and quotes from Karl Marx, I haven’t once heard the word “communism” used all day. He explains that, while he considers himself a Marxist and a Trotskyist, the word communism has negative connotations that would “act as a barrier” to getting people involved: the Socialist Party wants to avoid the discussion of its position on the USSR and disassociate itself from Stalinism. What the Socialists favor, he says, is “democratic planned production” with “the working class, the youths brought into the heart of decision making.”

On the subject of the police’s re-routing of the march, he says the new route is actually the synthesis of two proposals. Originally the march was to have gone from Camberwell Green to the Houses of Parliament, then across the sites of the 2012 Olympics and finally to the ExCel Centre. The police, meanwhile, wanted there to be no march at all.

The Metropolitan Police had argued that, with only 650 trained traffic officers on the force and most of those providing security at the ExCel Centre itself, there simply wasn’t the manpower available to close main streets, so a route along back streets was necessary if the march was to go ahead at all. Cafferky is sceptical of the police explanation. “It’s all very well having concern for health and safety,” he responds. “Our concern is using planning to block protest.”

He accuses the police and the government of having used legal, bureaucratic and even violent means to block protests. Talking about marches having to defend themselves, he says “if the police set out with the intention of assaulting marches then violence is unavoidable.” He says the police have been known to insert “provocateurs” into marches, which have to be isolated. He also asserts the right of marches to defend themselves when attacked, although this “must be done in a disciplined manner”.

He says he wasn’t present at yesterday’s demonstrations and so can’t comment on the accusations of violence against police. But, he says, there is often provocative behavior on both sides. Rather than reject violence outright, Cafferky argues that there needs to be “clear political understanding of the role of violence” and calls it “counter-productive”.

Demonstration overall, though, he says, is always a useful tool, although “a demonstration is always a means to an end” rather than an end in itself. He mentions other ongoing industrial actions such as the occupation of the Visteon plant in Enfield; 200 fired workers at the factory have been occupying the plant since April 1, and states the solidarity between the youth marchers and the industrial workers.

I also speak briefly with members of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small group of left-wing activists who have brought some signs to the rally. The Bolsheviks say that, like the Socialists, they’re Trotskyists, but have differences with them on the idea of organization; the International Bolshevik Tendency believes that control of the party representing the working class should be less democratic and instead be in the hands of a team of experts in history and politics. Relations between the two groups are “chilly”, says one.

At 2:30 the march resumes. Rather than proceeding to the ExCel Centre itself, though, it makes its way to a station of London’s Docklands Light Railway; on the way, several of East London’s school-aged youths join the march, and on reaching Canning Town the group is some 300 strong. Proceeding on foot through the borough, the Youth Fight For Jobs reaches the protest site outside the G-20 meeting.

It’s impossible to legally get too close to the conference itself. Police are guarding every approach, and have formed a double cordon between the protest area and the route that motorcades take into and out of the conference venue. Most are un-armed, in the tradition of London police; only a few even carry truncheons. Closer to the building, though, a few machine gun-armed riot police are present, standing out sharply in their black uniforms against the high-visibility yellow vests of the Metropolitan Police. The G-20 conference itself, which started a few hours before the march began, is already winding down, and about a thousand protesters are present.

I see three large groups: the Youth Fight For Jobs avoids going into the center of the protest area, instead staying in their own group at the admonition of the stewards and listening to a series of guest speakers who tell them about current industrial actions and the organization of the Youth Fight’s upcoming rally at UCL. A second group carries the Ogaden National Liberation Front‘s flag and is campaigning for recognition of an autonomous homeland in eastern Ethiopia. Others protesting the Ethiopian government make up the third group; waving old Ethiopian flags, including the Lion of Judah standard of emperor Haile Selassie, they demand that foreign aid to Ethiopia be tied to democratization in that country: “No recovery without democracy”.

A set of abandoned signs tied to bollards indicate that the CND has been here, but has already gone home; they were demanding the abandonment of nuclear weapons. But apart from a handful of individuals with handmade, cardboard signs I see no groups addressing the G-20 meeting itself, other than the Youth Fight For Jobs’ slogans concerning the bailout. But when a motorcade passes, catcalls and jeers are heard.

It’s now 5pm and, after four hours of driving, five hours marching and one hour at the G-20, Cardiff’s Socialists are returning home. I board the bus with them and, navigating slowly through the snarled London traffic, we listen to BBC Radio 4. The news is reporting on the closure of the G-20 conference; while they take time out to mention that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed the traditional group photograph of the G-20’s world leaders because “he was on the loo“, no mention is made of today’s protests. Those listening in the bus are disappointed by the lack of coverage.

Most people on the return trip are tired. Many sleep. Others read the latest issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Party’s newspaper. Mia quietly sings “The Internationale” in Swedish.

Due to the traffic, the journey back to Cardiff will be even longer than the journey to London. Over the objections of a few of its members, the South Welsh participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs stop at a McDonald’s before returning to the M4 and home.

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.

British military secrets leaked on social networking sites
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted sixteen instances of sensitive information being leaked on social networking websites in the past eighteen months. Ten employees have been disciplined for misuse of the sites. The revelations follow a Freedom of Information request by Lewis PR and computer security company F-Secure.

The MoD would not comment on what disciplinary action was taken, or whether the leaks involved operational information. The ministry’s guidelines state that staff must obtain clearance to release any information that is related to sensitive, controversial or political matters, or military operations.

“It’s worrying that employees in sensitive positions have been sharing confidential information via Twitter and other means,” said Mikko Hypponen, of F-Secure. “Loose Tweets can cost lives.”

According to Lewis PR, computers on the main MoD networks are blocked from visiting social networking sites. However there are a small number within the department which have unrestricted Internet access. Some personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq also have access through internet cafés on military bases.

The ministry’s “online engagement guidelines”, released in August last year, recognise the importance of social media such as Facebook for personnel keeping in touch with friends and family. According to the document: “Service and MOD civilian personnel are encouraged to talk about what they do, but within certain limits to protect security, reputation and privacy.”

Minnesota oil pipeline explosion and fire kills two

Minnesota oil pipeline explosion and fire kills two
Published in March 19th, 2018
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Friday, November 30, 2007

A major oil pipeline in Minnesota exploded and caught fire, killing two workers. The pipeline carries oil from Saskatchewan, Canada to close to Chicago, United States, representing 16% of America’s total oil imports.

The section of the pipe that exploded was undergoing maintenance at the time to address a pinhole leak first identified three weeks earlier, and patched at the time with a metal sleeve. On Wednesday, the entire section was removed and replaced with a new one. When oil was reintroduced on Thursday morning, oil leaked where the new section joined the pre-existing pipe, triggering the fatal explosion.

The fire was extinguished later the same day.

The line is split between four separate pipes. After the explosion, all four pipes were shut down, resulting in the global price surge, but this subsided for the most part after it became clear that the three undamaged pipelines had returned to normal operation, restoring 80% of the line’s capacity, and that the accident pipe is expected to be back in use in a matter of days.

“There were no problems found in that area where the leak occurred,” reporters were told by Larry Springer, spokesman for Enbridge, the Canadian company that owns the line. High-tech equipment had been through the line in 2006 to check for any signs of problems.

Enbridge identified the deceased as Dave Mussati Jr. and Steve Arnovich, both of whom were contract workers based in Superior, Wisconsin. The damaged section of pipe is in Clearbrook, which is approximately 350 miles Northwest of Minneapolis.

Enbridge metallurgists have been sent to examine the failed section in an effort to determin the cause of the accident. Other Enbridge workers are working to clear spilled oil from the site. It is expected that once this is complete, the pipe will return to service.

Global crude oil prices temporarily spiked by over US$4 per barrel but closed yesterday slightly above original prices.

U.S. Justice Department sues California over ‘sanctuary state’ immigration laws

U.S. Justice Department sues California over ‘sanctuary state’ immigration laws
Published in March 18th, 2018
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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The United States Justice Department (DoJ) filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in federal district court against the State of California regarding three California “sanctuary” laws regarding immigration.

The term “sanctuary city” — or for California “sanctuary state” — does not have a precise legal definition but generally refers to jurisdictions which limit or do not allow communication with or aid federal immigration officials.

In the Eastern District of California court filing, the federal government argues the state laws obstruct justice for individuals violating federal immigration laws. According to the DoJ, it violates the authority that the U.S. Constitution gives federal law supremacy when it conflicts with state law.

State Attorney General Bercerra said on Tuesday, “We hope that the federal government would recognize that under the Constitution and the 10th Amendment that the state of California and the 50 states have the power to decide how to do public safety.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in the state capital Sacramento at a California Peace Officers Association event about the lawsuit. Sessions largely derided California officials over the state’s immigration laws saying, “California, we have a problem. A series of actions and events has occurred that directly and adversely impact the work of our federal officers.”

The Trump administration seeks to challenge these laws as part of its new immigration policy.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Brown responded to Sessions, “It will not stand… This is a time to build bridges, not walls, to pull Americans together, not set us apart. Like so many in the Trump administration, this attorney general has no regard for the truth.”

In his speech, Sessions took aim at the Oakland mayor who had warned city residents last week of an immigration raid. Sessions said of Mayor Libby Schaaf, “The mayor of Oakland has been actively seeking to help illegal aliens avoid apprehension by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. Her actions support those who flout our laws and boldly validate the illegality. Here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf: How dare you?… How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote your radical open borders agenda?”

California Attorney General, Becerra, asserted Tuesday night that the California laws are in accordance with constitutional law and adding, “States and local jurisdictions have the right to determine which policies are best for their communities.”

Becerra responded to Sessions on Wednesday along with the governor saying, “Here in California, we respect the law and the Constitution. We expect the federal government to do the same. California is in the business of public safety. We’re not in the business of deportations.”

The three laws cited in the complaint are Assembly Bill (AB) 103, AB 450, and Senate Bill (SB) 54. The first, AB-103, requires the state attorney general’s office to inspect immigration detention facilities in the state. SB-450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, forbids employers from handing over employee information to immigration officials without a court order. SB-54 limits how state employees including police can share information with federal officials.

Under the previous Barack Obama administration, the Justice Department won a Supreme Court case against Arizona’s SB-1070 law which included a provision making illegal immigrants to register with the US government . While the high court struck down some parts of the law, it kept in place a portion allowing Arizona police officers to check the immigration status of detained people.

State officials said they would see the Justice Department in court. Governor Brown tweeted Tuesday evening addressing the federal attorney general directly and the lawsuit, “At a time of unprecedented political turmoil, Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don’t work here. SAD!!!”


Paving Contractors In Carlstadt, Nj Will Make Sure Your Driveway Or Parking Lot Looks Amazing In The End

Published in March 18th, 2018
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byAlma Abell

Although there are many do-it-yourself kits for a variety of home-improvement projects, repaving or repairing your driveway should be something that is left to the professionals. This is a complex job that must be performed a certain way in order to turn out right and professional paving contractors can provide a job well done every time. All paving contractors are well-trained and experienced in many different types of projects, which means that you can count on them to do the job right the first time.

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Making Sure it Is Done Right

From the beginning of the job until its completion, you want your driveway, parking lot, or other concrete structure to look right and last a long time. There are different types of paving materials that can be used on any project and expert paving contractors in Carlstadt, NJ can go over all of them with you so that together, you can decide which one will work best for you. This is perhaps the main advantage of choosing from among professional paving contractors because they can help you get the look that you want in the end.

Working with All Types of Customers

Both residential and commercial customers need concrete driveways and sidewalks and companies such as Carlstadt Paving Contractors offer these products in a variety of colors, designs, and styles. You can choose between driveways that are brown or dark grey and between various designs that are guaranteed to complement the exterior of your home. These companies can also power-wash and seal your driveways, make basic repairs when the driveway buckles or tears, and work on projects that include trenches and roadways. They work hard to produce the results you are looking for and even provide free quotes so that you can better budget for the job at hand.

Nokia takes over Symbian OS development

Nokia takes over Symbian OS development
Published in March 17th, 2018
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On Monday, Symbian Foundation discontinued Symbian OS, as a result of its lost popularity since Android came to market. The Finnish telecommunications company Nokia, being one of the few hardware manufacturers who use the system on some of the models, announced that it has taken over the operating system’s development.

Nokia had acquired Symbian Foundation in 2008. Now, the foundation refused to continue the project, because this smartphone operating system had lost its popularity when Android came to market.During the next several months, most Symbian Foundation employees, who were completely governing the project previously, will retire.By April 2011, only the licensing team will stay to oversee the project.

The executive director of the Symbian Foundation Tim Holbrow explained the change, saying that “There has since been a seismic change in the mobile market but also more generally in the economy, which has led to a change in focus for some of our funding board members. The result of this is that the current governance structure for the Symbian platform — the foundation — is no longer appropriate.”

Instead, Nokia takes over the development of the system. This is possible because the Symbian OS is currently open source and freely redistributable. In an interview with ZDNet, the head of Nokia smartphone business Jo Harlow said that the takeover was in significant part because Nokia hardware was the major one using the OS. The development environment would be switched to Qt framework for the system to support cross-platform applications use and development. It is unclear whether the licensing of the future releases of the system would remain open-source.

Syrian opposition report fuel station bombing kills at least nine

Syrian opposition report fuel station bombing kills at least nine
Published in March 17th, 2018
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Opposition activists in Syria say nine or more people have died as the result of a car bomb explosion at a fuel station in the Barzeh al-Balad district of Damascus, the capital of the country, according to BBC News Online. News agency Reuters has placed the minimum death toll at eleven while also reporting at least forty injuries. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights believes an increase in the number of fatalities recorded is probable.

At the time of the incident, a large number of people were waiting at the station to collect petrol. Activists say Syria is short of petrol because of the ongoing civil war, which started during 2011. BBC News Online says drivers queueing at fuel stations for hours is a frequent occurrence in the country.

An unidentified activist told Reuters the fuel station was “usually packed even when it has no fuel. There are lots of people who sleep there overnight, waiting for early morning fuel consignments”. The same person reported witnessing the bodies of burned people being placed onto ambulances, as well as those with wounds and severe burns, and vehicles the blast had destroyed being towed away. The activist, a local resident, said security workers at the station then told him to leave the scene.

The Revolution Leadership Council, which is part of the Syrian opposition, cited “a booby-trapped car” as the source of the explosion. It is unclear at this stage as to who was responsible for the incident, although the local activist who spoke to Reuters said there had been increased conflict between civilians and militia supportive of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at fuel stations recently.

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