Archive for December, 2018

Power line to Japanese nuclear plant completed

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31
Dec
 Correction — March 21, 2011 As of 2:55 JST March 18, IAEA has issued a clarification indicating that the power line has not been completed and is on hold pending completion of water spraying at the plant. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

A power line to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in Japan was completed Thursday, which will allow cooling systems at one of the facility’s reactors.

The new line, roughly one kilometer (0.6 miles) in length, connects the power grid to the power plant’s second reactor. It was completed at about 1730 local time (0830 UTC) on Thursday, and will be energized once spraying of seawater over reactor three is complete.

According to a Tokyo Electric Power Company spokesperson, once the power line is energized “we will be able to activate various electric pumps and pour water into reactors and pools for spent nuclear fuel,” thus cooling temperatures within the reactor.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that the stricken power plant is currently stable, though there is still the chance of matters growing worse. An official at the agency said that “it’s reasonably stable at the moment compared to yesterday.”

Over 30 killed in Mexico dynamite truck explosion

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30
Dec

Monday, September 10, 2007

More than 30 people have been killed and 140 people injured when a truck carrying dynamite exploded in Mexico shortly after being involved in a road traffic accident near Sacramento, Coahuila.

The lorry collided with another vehicle on a busy Northern Mexico highway, and the wreckage quickly drew a large crowd of onlookers. Shortly after the spectators arrived, the vehicles burst into flames, causing the dynamite to explode, engulfing nearby cars.

The explosives had originally been intended for delivery in Coquimatlan, Colima, for use in coal mining. The truck had just left an Orica explosives facility where the dynamite had been manufactured.

The explosion left a crater ten feet by 40 feet, and was powerful enough to blast out the windows of a passenger bus a quarter of a mile away. There are conflicting reports of death and injury counts, with the Associated Press giving the toll as 34 dead and 150 injured, and BBC News Online as 37 dead and ‘dozens’ injured.

Most of those injured were onlookers and emergency response personnel. The scene was attended by police, the military and other emergency services workers.

The fate of the driver is unclear, but some unconfirmed early reports say he fled the scene of the accident. The death toll is believed to include three local reporters who were covering the crash.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Buffalo, New York —Judge Justice Christopher Burns of the New York State Supreme Court has ordered a halt to an emergency demolition on a 19th century stable and livery on 428-430 Jersey Street in Buffalo, New York that partially collapsed on Wednesday June 11, initially causing at least 15 homes to be evacuated. At least two homes remain evacuated.

Burns orders that both the city and the group Save The Livery (www.savethelivery.com) have to come to an agreement on what to do with the building, and try to work out ways of saving at least some portions if it including the facade, side walls and a lift tower. Save The Livery is comprised of concerned area residents who have grown to love the building’s historic and unique character. On June 14, they won a temporary restraining order to stop demolition. The court ruled that the city was only allowed to remove material in immediate danger to residents and pedestrians, but stated that the demolition could only be performed with “hand tools.” The court also ordered that any rubble which had fallen into neighboring yards when the building collapsed, to be removed.

“It is in the interest of the city to have a safe environment–but also important to maintain a sense of historical preservation,” stated Burns in his ruling. Burns has given the sides until tomorrow (Friday June 20) to come to an agreement and has ordered both parties to return to court at 9:30 a.m. (eastern time) “sharp.” Activists of Save The Livery urge supporters of the stable to “fill the courtroom” to show “continued and ongoing support.” The hearing is scheduled to take place at 25 Delaware Avenue in the Supreme Court building, 3rd Floor, trial part 19.

Currently the building is owned by Bob Freudenheim who has several building violations against him because of the buildings poor condition. He has received at least five violations in three months and residents who live near the building state that Freudenheim should be “100% responsible” for his actions. Many are afraid that if the building is demolished, Freudenheim’s charges of neglect will be abolished.

On June 17, developer and CEO of Savarino Companies, Sam Savarino was at the site of the stable, discussing the building with residents and preservationists. In 2006, Savarino proposed and planned The Elmwood Village Hotel, a ‘botique’ hotel on the Southeast corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues. The project was later withdrawn after residents filed a lawsuit against Savarino and the city. Wikinews extensively covered the story, and contacted Savarino for his professional opinion on the building.

“[I would] love to see it preserved. I was there to see if there was anything we could do to help, to see if anything can be salvaged. I just want to see the right thing happen, and so does the city,” stated Savarino to Wikinews who added that he was allowed inside the building for a brief period.

“The side walls are beyond repair. The roof has rotted and it could come down at any time,” added Savarino who also said that the building “below the second floor appears to be stable.” He also states that the back wall of the building, which borders several homes, appears to be intact.

“Eliminating the back wall could be a problem for the neighbors. It is not unreasonable to leave at least 12 feet” of the back wall standing, added Savarino.

Savarino did not say if he was interested in buying the property, but did state, “I am sure there are a couple of people interested” in buying the property. On Thursday, Buffalo News reported that a “businessman” might be interested in purchasing the property, though Wikinews is not able to independently confirm the report. Savarino says that with the property still slated for emergency demolition, a potential buyer could face tax fees of nearly US$300,000.

Freudenheim gave the city permission to demolish the building on Thursday June 12 during an emergency Preservation Board meeting, because he would not be “rehabilitating the building anytime soon.” Freudenheim, along with his wife Nina, were part-owners of the Hotel Lenox at 140 North Street in Buffalo and were advocates to stop the Elmwood Village Hotel. They also financially supported a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the hotel from being built. Though it is not known exactly how long Freudenheim has owned the stable, Wikinews has learned that he was the owner while fighting to stop the hotel from being built. Residents say that he has been the owner for at least 22 years.

The building was first owned by a company called White Bros. and was used as a stable for a farm which once covered the land around the building for several blocks. The Buffalo Fire Department believes the building was built around 1814, while the city property database states it was built in 1870. Servants and workers of the farm were housed inside resident quarters situated at the rear of the building on what is now Summer Street, but are now cottages where area residents currently reside. Some date as far back as 1829.

At about 1950, the stable was converted into an automobile body shop and gasoline station.A property record search showed that in 1950 at least four fuel storage tanks were installed on the property. Two are listed as 550 square feet while the other two are 2,000 square feet. All of the tanks are designated as a TK4, which New York State says is used for “below ground horizontal bulk fuel storage.” The cost of installing a tank of that nature according to the state, at that time, included the tank itself, “excavation and backfill,” but did not include “the piping, ballast, or hold-down slab orring.” It is not known if the tanks are still on the property, but residents are concerned the city was not taking the precautions to find out.

Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

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29
Dec

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A robotic system at Stanford Medical Center was used to perform a laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery successfully with a theoretically similar rate of complications to that seen in standard operations. However, as there were only 10 people in the experimental group (and another 10 in the control group), this is not a statistically significant sample.

If this surgical procedure is as successful in large-scale studies, it may lead the way for the use of robotic surgery in even more delicate procedures, such as heart surgery. Note that this is not a fully automated system, as a human doctor controls the operation via remote control. Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is a treatment for obesity.

There were concerns that doctors, in the future, might only be trained in the remote control procedure. Ronald G. Latimer, M.D., of Santa Barbara, CA, warned “The fact that surgeons may have to open the patient or might actually need to revert to standard laparoscopic techniques demands that this basic training be a requirement before a robot is purchased. Robots do malfunction, so a backup system is imperative. We should not be seduced to buy this instrument to train surgeons if they are not able to do the primary operations themselves.”

There are precedents for just such a problem occurring. A previous “new technology”, the electrocardiogram (ECG), has lead to a lack of basic education on the older technology, the stethoscope. As a result, many heart conditions now go undiagnosed, especially in children and others who rarely undergo an ECG procedure.

Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

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29
Dec

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

US unemployment rate reaches 9.8%

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28
Dec

Friday, October 2, 2009

Companies in the United States are shedding more jobs, pushing the country’s unemployment rate to a 26-year high of 9.8%.

The US Labor Department said on Friday that employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, with companies in the service industries — including banks, restaurants and retailers — hit especially hard. This is the 21st consecutive month of job losses in the country.

The United States has now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession officially began in December 2007. The new data has sparked fears that unemployment could threaten an economic recovery. Top US officials have warned that any recovery would be slow and uneven, and some have predicted the unemployment rate will top 10% before the situation improves.

“Continued household deleveraging and rising unemployment may weigh more on consumption than forecast, and accelerating corporate and commercial property defaults could slow the improvement in financial conditions,” read a report by the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, predicting that unemployment will average 10.1% by next year and not go back down to five percent until 2014.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, said that “it’s a very fragile and tentative recovery. Policy makers need to do more.”

“The number came in weaker than expected. We saw a lot of artificial involvement by the government to prop up the markets, and now that that is starting to end, the private sector isn’t yet showing signs of life,” said Kevin Caron, a market strategist for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

Also on Thursday, the US Commerce Department said factory orders fell for the first time in five months, dropping eight-tenths of a percent in August. Orders for durable goods — items intended to last several years (including everything from appliances to airliners) — fell 2.6%, the largest drop since January of this year.

The US government has been spending billions of dollars — part of a $787 billion stimulus package — to help spark economic growth. There have been some signs the economy is improving.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that spending on home construction jumped in August for its biggest increase in 16 years. A real estate trade group, the National Association of Realtors, said pending sales of previously owned homes rose more than 12 percent in August, compared to August 2008.

A separate Commerce Department report said that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, rose at its fastest pace in nearly eight years, jumping 1.3 percent in August.

Other reports have provided cause for concern. A banking industry trade group said Thursday the number of US consumers making late payments, or failing to make payments, on loans and credit cards is on the rise. A survey by a business group, the Institute for Supply Management, Thursday showed US manufacturing grew in September, but at a slower pace than in August when manufacturing increased for the first time in a year and a half.

Stock markets reacted negatively to the reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 41 points in early trading, reaching a level of 9467. This follows a drop of 203 points on Thursday, its largest loss in a single day since July. The London FTSE index fell 55 points, or 1.1%, to reach 4993 points by 15.00 local time.

Australian PM faces inquiry into Iraqi kickbacks

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27
Dec

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Cole Inquiry

Australian Prime Minister, John Howard appeared before the Cole inquiry on Thursday, the first time an Australian Prime Minister has appeared before an inquiry with royal commission powers since 1983.

Unlike his foreign minister Alexander Downer who gave evidence before the inquiry on Tuesday, Mr Howard entered through the front door where he gave a brief address. He told the press that his government is being open about the Iraqi kickback affair. ” just want to make one point and that is that the appearance by me, earlier this week by the Foreign Minister and also by the Trade Minister, demonstrates absolutely how open and transparent and accountable the Government is being in relation to this matter” Mr Howard said to reporters.

Mr Howard was questioned by John Agius, counsel assisting the inquiry. Counsel for AWB, the company at the centre of the scandal did not apply to cross-examine the prime minister.

Terrence Cole, the inquiry’s commissioner received an application from Peter Geary and Micheal Long’s counsel to cross-examine the prime minister but refused it on the grounds that the proposed line of questioning was similar to that of Mr Aguis’ and that there was no evidence that Mr Howard had “ever met with Mr Geary or Mr Long”.

Mr Agius questioned the prime minister about a series of diplomatic cables sent to his office, which raised concerns about AWB’s contracts in Iraq.

Mr Howard told the inquiry that he doesn’t recall reading or being briefed about any of the cables referred to by the inquiry. The inquiry also heard that prior to 2003 there was no system in place to identify which cables had been bought to the prime minister’s attention.

In his statement to the inquiry, Mr Howard said that his office had not received four of the cables mentioned by the inquiry. Under questioning, Mr Howard confirmed this but conceded that it was likely that his staff had read the other 17.

When asked whether there were any guidelines which guided his advisors in deciding which cables should be bought to the prime minister’s attention, Mr Howard replied “No, there weren’t”.

The inquiry heard that the only discussions about which cables which should be bought to Mr Howard’s attention occurred when an advisor changed in very generic terms. Mr Howard told the inquiry that he would tell a new advisor “Well, you’ve got to exercise your own judgment, I can’t possibly read everything, and clearly I want things brought to my attention which are, in your judgment, important and are relevant to issues in front of the government at the time”.

Mr Howard admitted that the government had an interest in Iraq using the United Nations oil for food program for its own financial benefit, but said he did not expect cables dealing with alleged breach of UN sanctions to have been bought to his attention.

The questioning then turned to a statement Mr Howard made to the National Press Club on March 13, 2003, one week prior to the US-led Iraqi occupation. Speaking about Saddam Hussein Mr Howard said “He has cruelly and cynically manipulated the United Nations oil-for-food programme. He’s rorted it to buy weapons to supporthis designs at the expense of the wellbeing of his people”.

Mr Agius asked Mr Howard if his statement was based upon briefngs he had received. Mr Howard told the inquiry that the information was based upon “open source” intelligence stated at addresses by British foreign secretary Jack Straw and the United States state department. Mr Howard said one of his advisors “checked with some cables to confirm that those cables supported the open-source claims and was satisfied that they did”.

Mr Howard denied seeing the cables used by the advisor to support the claims, but believed he would have told her to be sure that everything they were saying can be supported by fact. Mr Howard told the inquiry that he never knew about cables which referred to Hussein rorting the UN Oil for Food program. Mr Howard admitted that at the time his “general knowledge” was that Hussein had breached UN sanctions and was rorting the Oil for Food program.

“My general knowledge at the time and belief was that the program had been rorted, and it was not seriously in dispute. Nobody was arguing it hadn’t been rorted” Mr Howard said.

The prime minister was questioned about an unassessed intelligence report which mentioned a Jordanian trucking company known as “Alia” paying kickbacks to Hussein. In response to this Mr Howard told the inquiry that he could not recall the information being bought to his attention, which was not unusual.

Ban on YouTube spreads to Google services in Turkey

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27
Dec

Monday, June 7, 2010

Access to search engine Google has been limited and most of Google’s online services cannot be accessed in Turkey. The access limitation happened due to the blocking of an IP set that belongs to Google. These IP addresses were shared between YouTube and other Google services.

The Turkish news site Hürriyet Daily News reports that Turkey’s Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TCP) (a government agency that manages Turkish ISPs) indefinitely shut off access to several Google services. The shut-off came after the banning of YouTube for alleged insults against Turkish Republic founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. TCP released an official statement Friday, saying it had blocked access to some Google IP addresses “because of legal reasons”. Under Turkish law, it is an offence to “insult Turkishness.”

Softpedia states that the limited access to Google could be a result of the government trying to block specific DNS addresses that relate to Google, as part of its ongoing attempts to block YouTube. Since Google services share common software and IP addresses, the search engine itself suffers from access restrictions. Turkish citizens are concerned that this move of the governmental agency was another step towards a complete ban on Google, as exists in China.

Several Internet sites have been banned in Turkey in recent years, and although some of them were subsequently unbanned, most of them remain inaccessible. Engelli Web, a website listing banned sites reports that currently YouTube (since May 2008), Last.fm (since June 26, 2009), and Spanish newspaper El Mundo (since May 14, 2010) are among the banned sites in Turkey. MySpace and WordPress were also among banned sites for a period of time. Websites will be blocked following a court decision or if TCP decides to block on its behalf.

RetweetToday reports that Turkish citizens on Twitter have also reported access problems. Comments about the blockage are being shared using hashtags such as TurkeyCensorGoogle and TurkeyGoogleBan, as well as NoGoogleNoWeb.

In depth: Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal controversy

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27
Dec

Friday, May 26, 2006

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

In February of 2006, the Savarino Services Construction Corp. proposed the construction of a seven million dollar hotel on Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo, New York. In order for the hotel to be built, at least five properties containing businesses and residents would have to be destroyed. It was not certain whether the properties were owned by Savarino or by the landlord Hans Mobius. The hotel was designed by Karl Frizlen of the Frizlen Group, and is planned to be a franchise of the Wyndham Hotels group.

Elmwood Avenue is known by the community as a popular shopping center, and Nancy Pollina of Don Apparel (who is “utterly against” the construction) claims it’s the only reason why students from Buffalo State College leave campus. Additionally, Michael Faust of Mondo Video said he did not want to “get kicked out of here [his video store property].”

In 1995, a Walgreens was proposed to be built on the same land, but Walgreens later withdrew its request for a variance because of pressure from the community. More recently, Pano Georgiadis tried to get the rights to demolish the Atwater House next to his restaurant on Elmwood Avenue, but was denied a permit due to the property’s historical value. He has since been an opponent to the hotel construction.

In the process of debating the hotel, it was thought that a hotel had previously existed on the proposed site, however; research done at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society had shown that no hotel had previously existed on the site.

Contents

  • 1 In depth
    • 1.1 The initial meeting
    • 1.2 Hotel redesign
    • 1.3 The second meeting and the planning board’s decision
    • 1.4 Threats of lawsuit
    • 1.5 Approval by the Common Council and Planning Board
    • 1.6 Lawsuit filed
    • 1.7 Proposal withdrawn
    • 1.8 Properties for sale
    • 1.9 Documents threaten hotel proposal, businesses on site
  • 2 Chronology
  • 3 Gallery