News briefs:January 04, 2008

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News briefs:January 04, 2008
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Contents

  • 1 Wikinews News Brief January 04, 2008 23:35 UTC
    • 1.1 Introduction
    • 1.2 Israeli troops kill 9 in Gaza
    • 1.3 Georgian President faces election challenge
    • 1.4 US unemployment hits two-year high
    • 1.5 Israel plans crackdown on West Bank settlement outposts
    • 1.6 Transaven Airlines plane carrying 14 people crashes off Venezuelan coast
    • 1.7 Sportswriter Milt Dunnell dies at 102
    • 1.8 2007 was particularly good year for aviation safety
    • 1.9 U.S. Senator Dodd bows out of presidential race
    • 1.10 Intel ends partnership with One Laptop Per Child program
    • 1.11 British Investigators arrive in Pakistan to join Bhutto investigation
    • 1.12 Disgorge bassist Ben Marlin dies from cancer
    • 1.13 Egypt lets 2000 pilgrims through Rafah
    • 1.14 Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis once again delayed
    • 1.15 Study suggests hospitals are not the best place for cardiac arrest treatment
    • 1.16 US dollar no longer accepted at Taj Mahal and other Indian historical sites
    • 1.17 Footer

[edit]

Posted on May 12th 2019 in Uncategorized

Looted, possibly contaminated body parts transplanted into USA, Canadian patients

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Looted, possibly contaminated body parts transplanted into USA, Canadian patients
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Monday, March 20, 2006

Fears of contaminated bone and skin grafts are being felt by unsuspecting patients following the revelation that funeral homes may have been looting corpses.

Janet Evans of Marion Ohio was told by her surgeon, “The bone grafts you got might have been contaminated”. She reacted with shock, “I was flabbergasted because I didn’t even know what he was talking about. I didn’t know I got a bone graft until I got this call. I just thought they put in screws and rods.”

The body of Alistair Cooke, the former host of “Masterpiece Theatre,” was supposedly looted along with more than 1,000 others, according to two law enforcement officials close to the case. The tissue taken was typically skin, bone and tendon, which was then sold for use in procedures such as dental implants and hip replacements. According to authorities, millions of dollars were made by selling the body parts to companies for use in operations done at hospitals and clinics in the United States and Canada.

A New Jersey company, Biomedical Tissue Services, has reportedly been taking body parts from funeral homes across Brooklyn, New York. According to ABC News, they set up rooms like a “surgical suite.” After they took the bones, they replaced them with PVC pipe. This was purportedly done by stealth, without approval of the deceased person or the next of kin. 1,077 bodies were involved, say prosecuters.

Investagators say a former dentist, Michael Mastromarino, is behind the operation. Biomedical was considered one of the “hottest procurement companies in the country,” raking in close to $5 million. Eventually, people became worried: “Can the donors be trusted?” A tissue processing company called LifeCell answered no, and issued a recall on all their tissue.

Cooke’s daughter, Susan Cooke Kittredge, said, “To know his bones were sold was one thing, but to see him standing truncated before me is another entirely.” Now thousands of people around the country are receiving letters warning that they should be tested for infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis. On February 23, the Brooklyn District Attorney indicted Mastromarino and three others. They are charged with 122 felony counts, including forgery and bodysnatching.

Posted on May 11th 2019 in Uncategorized

France to ban smoking in public places

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France to ban smoking in public places
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Monday, October 9, 2006

France is to ban smoking in all public places in February 2007, the French prime minister, Dominique de Villepin has announced. However cafés, nightclubs and restaurants will not be required to comply until January 2008.

An offence would result in a fine of 75 euros for the person(s) responsible and 150 euros for the premises where the offence occurred.

When announcing the new law in a television interview, he stated his reason as being the “public health”:

“We started on the basis of a simple observation – two figures: 60,000 deaths a year in our country linked directly to tobacco consumption and 5,000 deaths linked to passive smoking. It is an unacceptable reality in our country in terms of public health”

Public places will include stations, museums, government offices and shops, but not streets or private places such as houses or hotel rooms. He also stated that the country would pay for one-third of the costs of anti-smoking treatments:

“That would represent the first month of treatment,” he said.“There are also other solutions, for example the creation of closed, ventilated spaces, where (food and drink) service is not authorised in order to protect employees,” he added.File:Dominique villepin.jpg

A BBC survey made in France, a country notorious for its use of tobacco suggests that 70% of the people support the ban.

The European Union’s most enthusiastic smokers are found in Greece, Cyprus, and Portugal, according to findings published in May this year. When the law activates, France will join Ireland and Italy, which have passed similar measures. Italy, for example, has very strict measures, such as a minimum fine of 150 euros for smoking in public places with additional charges leveled if the offender was near a pregnant woman or a child under 13. Repeat offenders could be fined more than 275 euros, and imprisoned if they continued. In Switzerland, the canton of Ticino is the only canton in the nation to have banned smoking in restaurants. In the The Netherlands, smoking is banned in NS railway stations.

Posted on May 10th 2019 in Uncategorized

New Jersey’s State Supreme Court says gay couples have same rights as heterosexual couples

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New Jersey’s State Supreme Court says gay couples have same rights as heterosexual couples
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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The New Jersey Supreme Court has handed down its verdict in Lewis v. Harris. The details are: homosexual couples are entitled to the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples, but also said that totally legalizing gay marriages in the state will be up to the New Jersey Legislature who have 180 days to determine whether or not the state’s constitution shall be rewritten to include gay marriages or civil unions.

“The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people,” said the court.

“Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution,” said one of the judges, Justice Barry T. Albin.

The decision passed in a ruling of 4 support and 3 non-support votes.

In 2004, the state ruled that domestic relationships are allowed and that gay couples get some of the benefits that come along with marriage including the right to inherit their partner’s belongings if a will was not written and health insurance if one or the other works for the state.

If the state decides to allow same sex marriages, it would be the second state in the United States to completely legalize gay marriages. Massachusetts was the first and only state thus far to legalize gay marriages while some states such as Connecticut and Vermont have legalized civil unions.

Posted on May 9th 2019 in Uncategorized

Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems

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Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the oil and gas industry are creating earthquakes. New information from the Midwest region of the United States points out that these man-made earthquakes are happening more frequently than expected. While more frequent earthquakes are less of a problem for regions like the Midwest, a geology professor from the University of Southern Indiana, Dr. Paul K. Doss, believes the disposal of wastewater from the hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) process used in extracting oil and gas has the possibility to pose potential problems for groundwater.

“We are taking this fluid that has a whole host of chemicals in it that are useful for fracking and putting it back into the Earth,” Doss said. “From a purely seismic perspective these are not big earthquakes that are going to cause damage or initiate, as far as we know, any larger kinds of earthquakes activity for Midwest. [The issue] is a water quality issue in terms of the ground water resources that we use.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique used by the oil and gas industries which inject highly pressurized water down into the Earth’s crust to break rock and extract natural gas. Most of the fluids used for fracking are proprietary, so information about what chemicals are used in the various fluids are unknown to the public and to create a competitive edge.

Last Monday four researchers from the University of New Brunswick released an editorial that sheds light on the potential risks that the current wastewater disposal system could have on the province’s water resources. The researchers share the concern that Dr. Doss has and have come out to say that they believe fracking should be stopped in the province until there is an environ­mentally safe way to dispose the waste wastewater.

“If groundwater becomes contamin­ated, it takes years to decades to try to clean up an aquifer system,” University of New Brunswick professor Tom Al said.

While the USGS group which conducted the study says it is unclear how the earthquake rates may be related to oil and gas production, they’ve made the correlation between the disposal of wastewater used in fracking and the recent upsurge in earthquakes. Because of the recent information surfacing that shows this connection between the disposal process and earthquakes, individual states in the United States are now passing laws regarding disposal wells.

The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak.

“The problem is that we have never, as a human society, engineered a hole to go four miles down in the Earth’s crust that we have complete confidence that it won’t leak,” Doss said. “A perfect case-in-point is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, that oil was being drilled at 18,000 feet but leaked at the surface. And that’s the concern because there’s no assurance that some of these unknown chemical cocktails won’t escape before it gets down to where they are trying to get rid of them.”

It was said in the study released by the New Brunswick University professors that if fracking wastewater would contaminate groundwater, that current conventional water treatment would not be sufficient enough to remove the high concentration of chemicals used in fracking. The researchers did find that the wastewater could be recycled, can also be disposed of at proper sites or even pumped further underground into saline aquifers.

The New Brunswick professors have come to the conclusion that current fracking methods used by companies, which use the water, should be replaced with carbon diox­ide or liquefied propane gas.

“You eliminate all the water-related issues that we’re raising, and that peo­ple have raised in general across North America,” Al said.

In New Brunswick liquefied propane gas has been used successfully in fracking some wells, but according to water specialist with the province’s Natural Resources De­partment Annie Daigle, it may not be the go-to solution for New Brunswick due its geological makeup.

“It has been used successfully by Corridor Resources here in New Bruns­wick for lower volume hydraulic frac­turing operations, but it is still a fairly new technology,” Daigle said.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with U.S. states to come up with guidelines to manage seismic risks due to wastewater. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA is the organization that also deals with the policies for wells.

Oil wells, which are under regulation, pump out salt water known as brine, and after brine is pumped out of the ground it’s disposed of by being pumped back into the ground. The difference between pumping brine and the high pressurized fracking fluid back in the ground is the volume that it is disposed of.

“Brine has never caused this kind of earthquake activity,” Doss said. “[The whole oil and gas industry] has developed around the removal of natural gas by fracking techniques and has outpaced regulatory development. The regulation is tied to the ‘the run-of-the-mill’ disposal of waste, in other words the rush to produce this gas has occurred before regulatory agencies have had the opportunity to respond.”

According to the USGS study, the increase in injecting wastewater into the ground may explain the sixfold increase of earthquakes in the central part of the United States from 2000 – 2011. USGS researchers also found that in decades prior to 2000 seismic events that happened in the midsection of the U.S. averaged 21 annually, in 2009 it spiked to 50 and in 2011 seismic events hit 134.

“The incredible volumes and intense disposal of fracking fluids in concentrated areas is what’s new,” Doss said. “There is not a body of regulation in place to manage the how these fluids are disposed of.”

The study by the USGS was presented at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America on April 18, 2012.

Posted on May 8th 2019 in Uncategorized

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

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Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

Posted on May 8th 2019 in Uncategorized

Category:June 7, 2006

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Category:June 7, 2006
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Posted on May 8th 2019 in Uncategorized

Know Why Bamboo Bath Towels Are Good In Your Home

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Everyone has heard of bamboo. However, many people think that bamboo is valuable only in China or someplace in Asia. However, this plant material is becoming more prevalent in the U.S. and other parts of the Western world. Westerners are always looking for exotic materials that are soft, natural and eco-friendly. Bamboo viscose is an ideal fabric to use for your bath towel sets. When you want comfort and durability, you want to consider bamboo bath towels.

Why Use Bamboo for Towels?

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When you think of bamboo bath towels, you think of the tree and its rough bark. Some people think of the bamboo sticks that people use to create huts. However, there is a fabric known as bamboo viscose that is little known to cotton users in the U.S. It is just as soft as your standard cotton sets sold in the store. You may find some bamboo towels that are silky and even softer than regular cotton.

How Can Bamboo Be So Superior Yet Obscure?

Many people do not believe that stores could promote rough cotton towels over silky smooth bamboo viscose towels. The fact is that manufacturers are in the business of making money. Since they are so concerned about business, they do not care that much about fulfilling the personal needs of their customers. They are not concerned about giving you the softest and smoothest product for your bathroom.

Cotton is easier and cheaper to produce, and those are qualities that the corporations love. Bamboo viscose is harder to come by, so it is more expensive to produce. Those are the reasons why many consumers have never heard of viscose.

Why Does Bamboo Make a Superior Material?

Bamboo makes a superior material because it is friendly to the environment. Little to no pesticides and chemicals are used to grow the plant. As it grows, it remains pure and natural. When someone comes to turn the plant into a towel, you worry little about damaging the environment. As long as bamboo wood is grown and processed correctly, it has a positive impact on the environment.

Bamboo is a readily available plant that grows very rapidly. If tree cutting companies use these plants, they do not worry about running out of bamboo like they would worry about running out of oak or pine trees.

Bamboo viscose is proof that the less popular products can be the most efficient ones. Regardless of cost and popularity, you want towels that are very soft, absorbent and long lasting. Many consumers find an expensive cost worth it if they are investing in a superior product. Nevertheless, there are plenty of affordable bamboo towels available online. Look to find those bamboo towels that fit well in your bathroom.

Posted on May 7th 2019 in Bean Bags

US free speech lawyer defends satire of Glenn Beck

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US free speech lawyer defends satire of Glenn Beck
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Massachusetts-based First Amendment rights lawyer Marc Randazza is defending a controversial parody website which satirizes American political commentator Glenn Beck. The website was created in September by a man from Florida named Isaac Eiland-Hall, and it asserts Beck uses questionable tactics “to spread lies and misinformation”.

The website created by Eiland-Hall is located at the domain name “www.GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlIn1990.com”. Its premise is derived from a joke statement made by Gilbert Gottfried about fellow comedian Bob Saget. The joke was first applied to Beck on the Internet discussion community Fark. It then became popular on Internet social media sites including Reddit and Digg, and was the subject of a Google bomb, a technique where individuals link phrases in order to artificially change Google search results.

Eiland-Hall saw the discussion on Fark, and created a website about it. The website asserts it does not believe the rumors to be true, and states: “But we think Glenn Beck definitely uses tactics like this to spread lies and misinformation.” In an interview with Ars Technica, he said the website was “using Beck’s tactics against him”. The website was created on September 1, and by September 3 attorneys for Beck’s company Mercury Radio Arts took action. Beck’s lawyers sent letters to the domain name registrar where they referred to the domain name itself as “defamatory”, but they failed to get the site removed.

Even an imbecile would look at this Web site and know that it’s a parody.

Beck filed a formal complaint with the Switzerland-based agency of the United Nations, the World Intellectual Property Organization. Beck alleged that the website’s usage is libelous, bad faith, and could befuddle potential consumers. Beck’s complaint was filed under the process called the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. The policy allows trademark owners to begin an administrative action by complaining that a certain domain registration is in “bad faith”. A lawyer for Beck declined to provide a comment to the Boston Herald, however a source told the newspaper that Beck’s complaint with the site is primarily a “trademark issue”.

Randazza established an attorney-client relationship with Eiland-Hall after his client received threatening letters from attorneys representing Beck. He then sent an email to Beck’s attorneys, and pointed out inconsistencies between their client’s recent actions and his prior public statements in support of the First Amendment. Randazza wrote a reply to the World Intellectual Property Organization, and contends that the website is “protected political speech”, because it is “satirical political humor”. Randazza stated that “Even an imbecile would look at this Web site and know that it’s a parody.” In his legal brief, Randazza compared the website to other Internet memes, such as “All your base are belong to us” and video parodies of the German film Downfall.

It’s not often that I would recommend reading a World Intellectual Property Organization legal brief for its entertainment value, but today is going to be an exception.

“We are here because Mr. Beck wants Respondent’s website shut down. He wants it shut down because Respondent’s website makes a poignant and accurate satirical critique of Mr. Beck by parodying Beck’s very rhetorical style,” wrote Randazza in the brief. The brief also commented on Beck’s style of reporting, and pointed out a controversial statement made by Beck when he interviewed a Muslim member of the United States Congress. Beck said to Representative Keith Ellison: “I like Muslims, I’ve been to mosques. … And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview because what I feel like saying is, sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” According to the Citizen Media Law Project, the website’s joke premise takes advantage of “a perceived similarity between Beck’s rhetorical style and the Gottfried routine”.

Public interest attorney Paul Levy told Ars Technica that if a statement in a website’s domain name were both false and “stated with actual malice”, it is possible it could be considered defamatory. The First Post reported that Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Corynne McSherry gave an analysis asserting that though the domain name of the website is “pretty dramatic”, it constituted “pure political criticism and there’s nothing wrong with that”. McSherry and Levy both agreed that the action of Beck to take the matter to the World Intellectual Property Organization was probably a tactic to determine the identity of the website’s owner.

Andy Carvin of National Public Radio wrote that Randazza’s legal brief was amusing, commenting: “It’s not often that I would recommend reading a World Intellectual Property Organization legal brief for its entertainment value, but today is going to be an exception.” Nate Anderson of Ars Technica commented “In any event, the WIPO battle promises to be entertaining, and there’s even a bit of serious purpose mixed in with the frivolity. Just how far can WIPO go in using its domain dispute system to address Internet spats?”. Domain Name Wire wrote that “…when someone who has created a bitingly satirical web site works with his lawyer to put pen to the paper, the end result can be quite amusing.”

Writing for Adweek, Eriq Gardner pointed out the comparison made by Randazza’s legal brief between the website’s parody nature itself and the statement made by Beck to Congressman Ellison, noting: “this case also makes a political point”. Jack Bremer wrote in The First Post that the attempts by Beck’s lawyers to argue that the website’s domain name is itself defamatory “looks like a first in cyber law”. Rick Sawyer of Bostonist characterized Randazza’s legal brief as “Hillarious!”, and called the attorney “among the North Shore’s most hilarious legal writers”.

[Glenn Beck] did the one thing guaranteed to garner the greatest amount of publicity for the site…

The FOX News-critical site FoxNewsBoycott.com likened the legal conflict between Beck and the site to the Streisand effect, a phenomenon where an individual’s attempt to censor material on the Internet in turn proves to make the material itself more public. “Glenn Beck is experiencing the Streisand Effect first hand,” wrote FoxNewsBoycott.com. John Cook of Gawker.com also compared Beck’s actions to the Streisand effect: “Now Glenn Beck’s trying to shut down their web site, ensuring that people will write about it.” Jeffrey Weiss of Politics Daily wrote that by taking legal action, Beck “did the one thing guaranteed to garner the greatest amount of publicity for the site”. Techdirt described Beck’s legal action as “not particularly smart”, and noted: “Beck would have been better off just ignoring it. Instead, in legitimizing it by trying to take it down, many more people become aware of the meme — and may start calling attention to situations where Beck (and others) make use of such tactics.” The blog Hot Air noted the issue could gain attention if it becomes a test case for the First Amendment: “If this becomes a First Amendment test case, the smear’s going to be covered far and wide…”

Posted on May 7th 2019 in Uncategorized

Google launches free city wide Wi-Fi in Mountain View, California

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Google launches free city wide Wi-Fi in Mountain View, California
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Google on Wednesday inaugurated a free city-wide Wi-Fi system in its home town of Mountain View, California. Google insisted that it had no plans to offer a similar service nationwide. Most residents of Mountain View, can connect to the Internet via a Mesh Wi-Fi network for free. Google said that its network “eventually will cover the entire city” and serve as “testing ground for future innovations.” The network is currently setup in downtown Mountain View, and much of the suburbs are yet to be hooked up.

The wireless network (Wi-Fi) covers 90% of Mountain View. It offers maximum data transfer rate of up to 1 Megabit per second, which is slightly slower than DSL.

The system costs about US$1 million to build and uses 380 transceivers mounted on street-lights throughout the 31 km² city. Reviews of the network say that it works smoothly in open areas, but that connections can be patchy in enclosed spaces.

Chris Sacca, Google’s head of special initiatives, said that “the main purpose of his company’s backing local wi-fi access is to clear the way for broadband entrepreneurs and overcome legal roadblocks by established telephone and cable TV providers”.

Mountain View, which has about 72,000 residents, is the largest U.S. city with totally free Internet access available throughout the entire community.

Posted on May 7th 2019 in Uncategorized