Wikinews Shorts: December 7, 2008

A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, December 7, 2008.

Contents

  • 1 ‘Progress’ seen in US auto bailout deal
  • 2 Ghana to hold elections
  • 3 Archbishop of York says Mugabe must be overthrown
  • 4 Scandal-ridden Congressman loses delayed election

Officials say that progress is being made in a deal to bail out three United States carmakers. The U.S. government will be holding weekend talks on the plan after two days of Congressional hearings.

Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, stated that discussions with both parties had been “constructive”.

Executives from the three companies – General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler – have pleaded before two Congressional committees, asking for $34 billion in order to stop collapse.

“I’m convinced that by Sunday we will have an agreement that people can understand on this bill,” said Barney Frank, a representative from the state of Massachusetts.

Sources


 This story has updates See Ghanian presidential elections go to run-off 

The people of Ghana, a country often shown of as an example of a good democracy in Africa, will vote for a new president and parliament.

The current president, John Kufuor, will resign after serving the maximum of two terms in office. The elections are expected to be close.

The three main contenders for the presidency are: the Nana Akufo Addo from New Patriotic Party, who was the foreign minister under the current president, John Atta Mills running for the National Democratic Congress, and the Convention People’s Party’s candidate, one Paa Kwesi Nduom.

Sources


The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said that Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe must be forced out of office and face trial for his crimes against humanity.

“The time has come for Robert Mugabe to answer for his crimes against humanity, against his countrymen and women and for justice to be done. The winds of change that once brought hope to Zimbabwe and its neighbours have become a hurricane of destruction, with the outbreak of cholera, destitution, starvation and systemic abuse of power by the state,” said Sentamu.

Sentamu that the power-sharing deal that was signed by Mugabe and the Zimbabwean opposition in September was “now dead”.

Dr Sentamu’s statement comes after a severe cholera outbreak spread in Zimbabwe, and saw 12,545 cases reported and 565 people dead.

Sources


Republicans experienced another victory late Saturday, as the Associated Press called the race in Louisiana’s 2nd district at 22:35 CST in favor of Anh “Joseph” Cao, heralding the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress and sending the incumbent scandal-ridden Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson home after nine terms.

Sources


Posted in Uncategorized

Brazilian President Lula met Chavez, military and economic cooperation

Thursday, February 17, 2005

CARACAS, Venezuela –The Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on February 14, 2005 in Caracas, Venezuela. Brazil and Venezuela signed agreements of cooperation on many areas. According to the Brazilian government this was a strategical encounteur. This meeting is the first of three meetings that President Lula will have with South American Presidents in three days. The scheduled meetings are with the presidents of: Venezuela (February, 14), Guiana (February, 15) and Suriname (February, 16).

President Lula was accompanied by the following comitiva: the Minister of Development, Industry, and External Trade Luiz Fernando Furlan, the Minister of Finance Antônio Palocci, the Minister of Foreign Relations Celso Amorim, the Minister of Health Humberto Costa, the Minister of Mines and Energy Dilma Roussef, the Minister of Tourism Walfrido Mares Guia, the President of Petrobras José Eduardo Dutra, the President of National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) Guido Mantega, the President of Eletrobrás Silas Rondeau Cavalcante Silva and the Special Secretary for Aquaculture and Fisheries José Fritsch. In addition a delegation of executives representing enterprises from Brazil accompanied the President.

The Brazilian Ministry of External Relations told the trip aims the construction of a strategical alliance and commercial integration between both countries. The Brazilian Presidential Advisor Marco Aurélio Garcia said:”With this gesture, Brazil will consolidate one of its major political goals, which is the constitution of a South American community of nations”. He added: “These agreements with Venezuela are strategical. We want this agreement as a model for other agreements in the region.”

According to President Lula the integration of the Latin America is the priority number one of his government. Days before the arrival in Venezuela and commenting about the trip Lula said: “We’re going to do the same thing in Colombia and in other countries in which integration is no longer a campaign speech but part of the way we deal with real things, day to day”.

The integration of the Latin America is the politics repeatedly proposed by Lula during the meetings of the Foro de São Paulo. According to him and the others members of the Foro there must be a integration among all the left parties and governments of Latin America. The union aims to be an alternative and opposing force to the politics and influence of the richest countries, mainly the United States. Among the organizations which are usually participants of the Foro de São Paulo are: Communist Party of Cuba, Colombian Communist Party, Communist Party of Bolivia, Communist Party of Brazil, Workers’ Party, Paraguayan Communist Party, Peruvian Communist Party, Socialist Party of Peru, National Liberation Army, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity, Tupamaros.

On December 4, 2001 during the 10th edition of the Foro de São Paulo in Havana Lula said:”A shoal of small fish may mean the finishing of the hungry in our countries, in out continent. We should not think as the History ended on our journey by the Earth. Even it happens just once, or with one gesture, let’s effectively contribute to the improve the life of millions of human beings who live socially excluded by this neoliberal model.”[1]

In Venezuela, once again, he brought out the integration wish: “This is the biggest dream I am carrying, that we can negotiate collectively, not like one country, but like a set of countries so we can do that our people may have the chance to conquer the full citizenship.”

Contents

  • 1 Economic cooperation
  • 2 Military cooperation
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
Posted in Uncategorized

FIFA World Cup 2018 day seven: Portugal, Uruguay, Spain win 1-0

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Yesterday, day seven of the 2018 FIFA footall World Cup, Portugal defeated Morocco 1–0, Uruguay defeated Saudi Arabia 1–0 and Iran lost 1–0 against Spain with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suárez and Diego Costa respectively. With this victory, Uruguay and hosts Russia have qualified for the Last 16 knockout phase.

Portugal faced Morocco in the first game of the day at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. Morocco had better ball possession in the match. Morocco conceded a corner kick early in the first half in the 4th minute. Portugal’s captain Cristiano Ronaldo scored a header from João Moutinho’s assist, giving Portugal an early lead. In the 9th minute, Ronaldo almost doubled the lead for Portugal, but his shot went wide to the left of the goal. Two minutes later, Morroco’s captain Medhi Benatia got a chance to equalise, but his header was blocked. Morocco had multiple attempts to equalise but all missed or were blocked. Benatia was booked in the 40th minute for a bad foul. The first half ended with Portugal leading 1–0.

In the second half, Ronaldo had another chance to double Portugal’s lead but his shot missed the target. Though Morocco had several attempts for goal, Portugal’s goalkeeper Rui Patricio managed not to let any goals in. The match finished 1–0 as Morocco fell to the bottom of the table, having lost both matches in this tournament and having zero points.

After the match, Morocco’s manager Herve Renard said, “We qualified for a World Cup after 20 years and we’ve showed that we can play football.” Ronaldo was named Budweiser Man of the Match. He has scored four goals in this tournament.

Uruguay faced Saudi Arabia at the Rostov Arena for the second match of the day. Uruguayan striker Suárez was playing his 100th international match for the country. Saudi Arabia had better ball possession in the match. Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani missed a chance to open the scoring, with his left-footed shot going wide above the goal. In the 23rd minute, Suárez scored a close-range shot, assisted by Carlos Andrés Sánchez. Saudi Arabia’s Taiseer Al Jassam was substituted just a few minutes before the end of the first half, due to injury.

Uruguay missed out some opportunities to increase their lead in the second half but the first half goal by Suárez was sufficient for the South Americans to ensue three points at Rostov-on-Don.

Suárez was named Budweiser Man of the Match award. He became the first Uruguayan to score goals in three FIFA World Cup tournaments.

With this victory Uruguay and Russia mathematically secured their sports in the knockout phase of the tournament, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt, who are yet to face each other, are out of the competition.

Iran faced Spain in the last match of the day at the Kazan Arena. Spain had greater ball possession in the match. Spanish defender Gerard Piqué played his 100th international match for the country. In the first half, Gerard Piqué, Isco, David Silva, Dani Carvajal and Spanish captain Sergio Ramos had attempts for the goal as they had the ball for longer duration. Despite multiple attempts, the first half remained goalless.

In the second half, Sergio Busquets’ attempt was saved, as Alireza Beiranvand made a double-save. The Spanish side finally got the lead when Diego Costa scored a goal in the 54th minute in the bottom left corner of the goal. Just at the one-hour mark, Mehdi Taremi missed the chance to equalise for Iran. In the 62nd minute, Iran managed to put the ball at the back of the net, but was ruled offside. Iran’s Vahid Amiri was booked in the 79th minute for a bad foul. Omid Ebrahimi was also shown a yellow card in the injury time. The match ended with Spain winning three points and finishing at the top spot in the group table.

After the match, Iran’s manager Carlos Queiroz said, “We showed that we were ready to suffer and ready to compete […] There’s no doubt Spain play wonderful, stylish football but we deserved more for the way we played. […] We will learn a lot from this game. If you think of it like tennis, we had one match point today and we will have another against Portugal. Everything is still open. We are still alive and still dreaming.” Costa won the Budweiser Man of the Match award.

With Spain’s victory, Morocco also missed out the chance to advance to the next phase of the tournament.


Group A standings as of June 20, 2018

Country Played Won Draw Loss Goalsfor Goalsagainst Goaldiff Pts
?? Russia 2 2 0 0 8 1 7 6
?? Uruguay 2 2 0 0 2 0 2 6
?? Egypt 2 0 0 2 1 4 -3 0
?? Saudi Arabia 2 0 0 2 0 6 -6 0


Group B standings as of June 20, 2018

Country Played Won Draw Loss Goalsfor Goalsagainst Goaldiff Pts
?? Spain 2 1 1 0 4 3 1 4
?? Portugal 2 1 1 0 4 3 1 4
?? Iran 2 1 0 1 1 1 0 3
?? Morocco 2 0 0 2 0 2 -2 0


June 20, 2018 1500 MSK (UTC+0300)
Portugal 1–0 Morocco Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia Attendance: 78,011 Referee: Mark Geiger (US)
Cristiano Ronaldo 4’Adrien Silva 90+2′ (1–0) HT Medhi Benatia 40′

June 20, 2018 1800 MSK (UTC+0300)
Uruguay 1–0 Saudi Arabia Rostov Arena, Rostov-On-Don, Russia Attendance: 42,678 Referee: Clément Turpin (France)
Luis Suárez 23′ (1–0) HT

June 20, 2018 1800 MSK (UTC+0300)
Iran 0–1 Spain Kazan Arena, Kazan Russia Attendance: 42,718 Referee: Andrés Cunha (Uruguay)
Vahid Amiri 79’Omid Ebrahimi 90+2′ (0–0) HT Diego Costa 54′
Posted in Uncategorized

Neola North wildfire in Utah blamed for three deaths

Monday, July 2, 2007

A wildfire in the Ashley National Forest has been blamed for three deaths and has led to the evacuation of about 500 residents of the communities of Whiterocks, Farm Creek, Paradise and Tridell in eastern Utah.

The fire broke out on Friday, June 29 at around 9:00 a.m. local time in Duschene county, north of Neola by state route 121, and proceeded to spread westward into Uintah county.

To date, the cause of the wildfire is unknown. An early report by public safety officials claimed it was caused by a faulty power line or transformer. However, a later announcement by Moon Lake Electric Association CEO Grant Earl disputed this.

By Saturday morning, the fire had spread across approximately 46 square miles of land and been blamed for three fatalities: George Houston, his son Tracy Houston, and Roger Roberson, all from Farm Creek. Eleven year old Duane Houston, George’s grandson, was able to escape the fire with only minor injuries.

The communities of Whiterocks, Farm Creek, Paradise and Tridell, consisting of approximately 500 local residents, were evacuated by Sunday, and at least five homes are known to have been destroyed. Those without family or friends to provide lodging have been relocated to the Ute Indian Tribe’s auditorium in Fort Duchesne and Union High School in Roosevelt.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency became involved in the management of fire fighting efforts on Sunday, and a specialized regional wildland fire team, the Rocky Mountain Type One Management Team, had begun to converge on the Uinta Basin to assist with the firefighting, along with about 100 members of the Utah National Guard.

Reports that same day claimed the fire was 5% contained, but that it had split into at least two separate smaller fires. Authorities declared their intention to prevent the fire from moving eastwards into Dry Fork Canyon and the town of Tridell.

Posted in Uncategorized

Copiapó, Chile mining accident: in depth

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The rescue of the Chilean miners trapped in the San José Mine in Copiapó, codenamed Operación San Lorenzo (San Lorenzo Operation), began on Tuesday night, at around 20:00 local time (23:00 UTC).

Florencio Ávalos was the first miner to be rescued, at 00:12 local time (03:12 UTC) on Wednesday. He was wearing a shirt signed by all his fellow miners. “The first miner is already with us. We saw it all, him hugging his wife Monica and his son Byron,” said President Piñera shortly after the first rescue. “We still have a long journey.”

“This will be recorded on every single Chilean heart forever,” Piñera added. “I hope the miners’ hope stay with us, just like the [February] earthquake victims’ [hope] and what the earthquake took off. We know that the disasters unite us all.”

All the 33 miners were rescued. The last miner, Luis Urzúa, was rescued at 21:55 Chile time (00:55 UTC). “It is a pleasure to be Chilean, [I’m] proud,” said Luis Urzúa to President Piñera. “In honour of the miners, their families, the rescuers […] let’s sing our national anthem. Viva Chile Mierda!,” said Piñera. Urzúa thanked Mining Minister Golborne and the First Lady Cecilia Morel for “fighting for their lives.” “I’m proud of my fellow miners,” Urzúa added.

Six rescuers, including a miner and a paramedic, descended to the miners’ shelter using the Fénix 3 capsule which was specially constructed for the rescue. They performed check-ups and talk with the miners before taking them back to the surface. The rescuers still don’t leave the mine.

The Fénix 3 capsules are 3.95 metres in height and weigh about 460 kilograms. They have an armour, an oxygen tube and a microphone. The occupants helmets contain an intercom to keep them in contact with the rescue team on the surface.

President of Chile Piñera assisted to the rescue. Bolivian President Evo Morales could not attend Carlos Mamani’s rescue. Mamani is the only Bolivian miner in the group.

A mass for the miners was conducted at 18:00 local time (21:00 UTC). The rescue takes between 15 and 20 minutes for each miner.

On Tuesday, Mayor of Copiapó Maglio Cicardini announced that the municipal schools in the city will have no classes this Wednesday “to transform the rescue of the Atacama’s 33 in a familiar meeting,” Radio Cooperativa reported.

“The miners will be taken to the Copiapó Regional Hospital for medical checkup, where they will have to stay for 48 hours,” Health Minister Mañalich said to Televisión Nacional de Chile.

Celebrations are taking place in several Chilean cities. In Santiago de Chile, people gathered in one of the most important points of the city, Plaza Italia. In Pichilemu, tens of cars are passing over its most important streets. In Copiapó, people gathered in its main square to assist a massive concert.

On August 5, 33 miners were trapped more than 700 meters (2,300 ft) underground, in the San José copper–gold mine, located about 40 kilometers north of Copiapó, Chile.

The youngest trapped miner is 19 years old, and the oldest is 63. There were several rescue attempts before reaching the miners’ shelter on August 22. The National Emergencies Office of Chile (ONEMI) released a list of the trapped miners on August 6, which included Franklin Lobos Ramírez, a retired footballer.

Chile is the worlds top producer of copper, according to The Economist. The San José Mine is owned by the San Esteban Mining Company (Empresa Minera San Esteban). The mine was closed down in 2007, after relatives of a miner who had died sued the company executives, but the mine was re–opened in 2008.

It was originally estimated that “it would take three to four months to complete the rescue of the trapped miners”. There were three plans to reach the miners: “Plan A” using a Strata 950 drill, “Plan B” using a Schramm T130XD drill, and “Plan C” using a RIG-422 drill. The first to reach the miners was “Plan B”, early on Saturday 9.

The last step of their rescue, announced by Health Minister Jaime Mañalich, was originally due to begin on Tuesday. Laurence Golborne, Minery Minister said “If it is possible, and the cement sets before and we don’t have any impediments to doing it, it would be wonderful,” in a press conference on Monday. The men will be extracted in a steel rescue capsule 54 cm (21 inches) in diameter.

On September 4, Chilean filmmaker Rodrigo Ortúzar announced plans to film a movie about the accident, called “Los 33” (“The 33”). The film will be released in 2011.

One miner is Bolivian, and the other 32 are Chilean.

Raúl Bustos, 40 years old, is an hydraulics engineer. He left his job in Talcahuano after the February 27 earthquake to work in the mine.

Daniel Herrera, 27 years old, is a lorry driver. He has acted as paramedic assistant in the mine. He said to La Tercera “the miners were unhappy with the psychologist in the rescue team.”

Claudio Acuña, miner, is fan of the Colo-Colo football club. The BBC reports he is aged 56, but El Comercio says he is 44.

Pedro Cortez is aged 24. He joined the mine with his friend Carlos Bugueño. Cortez is an electrician, and lost a finger in the mine a year ago.

File:Juan Aguilar with President Piñera.jpg

A native of Los Lagos, Juan Aguilar is 49 years old. Aguilar is married to Cristy Coronado, according to El Comercio. Aguilar works as a supervisor.

Mario Sepúlveda is a 39 years old electrician native of Parral; he is married. He has been the spokesman of the most of the miners’ videos. Mario Sepúlveda was the second miner to be rescued, on Wednesday at 01:10 local time (04:10 UTC).

Víctor Zamora is a 33 years old auto mechanic. Zamora is married to Jéssica Cortez, who confirmed she was pregnant while he was in the mine.

Osman Araya is 30 years old, and married. He began working as miner four months before the accident.

Florencio Ávalos is 31 years old. He is the brother of Renán Ávalos, who is also trapped in the mine. He worked as driver in San José. Ávalos filmed videos, sent later to his relatives.

Ávalos was the first miner to be rescued, on Wednesday at 00:10 local time (03:10 UTC).

Jorge Galleguillos, 56 years old, has worked all his life in the mine. He said in one video he was feeling unwell; he takes medication for hypertension.

Carlos Barrios is a 27 years old miner. His father, Antenor Barrios, told Agence France-Presse: “I find he’s very strong and has enthusiasm. He spoke loud and clear. I was excited.”

Franklin Lobos Ramírez is a 53 years old retired footballer. He played for Cobresal, Deportes Antofagasta, Club de Deportes Santiago Wanderers and Unión La Calera, and briefly for the Chile national football team. Lobos had worked as a truck driver in the mine.

Yonni Barrios, called “The Doctor”, is a 50 years old electrician. He has knowledge of first aid, and was given responsibility for monitoring the health of his colleagues. “I felt I was in hell,” Barrios said in a letter to his wife.

Carlos Bugueño, 27 years old, joined the mine with Pedro Cortez. Previously, he worked as a watchman.

Alex Vega Salazar is a 31 years old heavy machinery mechanic. He is married to Jessica Salgado, and celebrated his birthday in the mine on September 22.

Ariel Ticona is a 29 years old miner. His wife, Margarita gave birth to his daughter on September 14. She was named Esperanza (Hope), at Ticona’s request.

Richard Villarroel is a 27 years old mechanic from Coyhaique.

Edison Peña is a 34 years old miner. “I want to go out soon,” he said on his first contact with his relatives. “I want to be free, I want to see the sun,” he added. He is a fan of Elvis Presley.

Claudio Yáñez is 34 years old, and works as drill operator.

José Ojeda, 46 years old, is the master driller. Ojeda is widowed and diabetic.

Luis Urzúa is a 54 year old topographer. He is the shift-leader, and was the first miner to talk with authorities. He is known as Don Lucho among the miners. He draw plans of the area of the mine where they are trapped.

Urzúa will be the last miner to leave the mine.

José Henríquez is a 54 years old drill master. He is also an evangelical preacher, and has worked in mines for 33 years.

Víctor Segovia is a 48 years old electrician. He is in charge of writing down everything that happens in the mine.

Pablo Rojas is a 45 years old explosives loader. Married, he had been working less than six months in the mine.

Juan Illanes is a 51 year old miner. He was a sergeant in the Beagle border conflict between Chile and Argentina in 1978, the incident which almost provoked a war between the countries.

Illanes was rescued on Wednesday, at 02:07 local time (05:07 UTC).

Jimmy Sánchez, 19, is the youngest miner. He had been working in the mine for five months before the accident. His role is to check the temperature and humidity in the mine.

Samuel Ávalos is a 43 years miner. His wife Ruth said “he was addicted to the cocaine.” His role in the rescue is to check air quality in the area the miners are living. According to the BBC, “Ávalos has worked in the mine for five months.”

Mario Gómez, aged 63, is the oldest of the miners. He has worked 51 years as miner. His father was also a miner, and is nicknamed “El Navegao” (“The Sailed One”). He was thinking of retiring in November.

Gómez also wrote the message “Estamos bien en el refugio los 33” (“We are fine in the shelter the 33 [of us]”).

Segovia is 48 years old. He is married to Jessica Chille, who said “To hear his voice was a confort to my heart,” after talking with him for the first time in 24 days. His sister María, was nicknamed “La Alcaldesa” (“The Mayoress”) for her leading role at Campamento Esperanza. His father, Darío Senior, was trapped in a mine for a week, and suffered serious injuries after two other mining accidents, according to the BBC.

Carlos Mamani is a 23 years old heavy equipment operator. He is also the only non-Chilean miner; Mamani is Bolivian. He began working in the mine just five days before the accident.

He was rescued at 03:11 local time (06:11 UTC) on Wednesday.

Renán Ávalos is a 29 years old miner, single, who had been working for five months in the mine before the accident. Florencio Ávalos is his brother.

Omar Reygadas is a 56 year old electrician. He began working in the mine shortly before the accident.

Esteban Rojas is a 44 years old miner. Rojas is married to Jessica Yáñez.

Posted in Uncategorized

Russian submarine rescued by Royal Navy

Sunday, August 7, 2005

A Russian submarine trapped during a training exercise in Berezov Bay, 75 km south of Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka, has been rescued after it was cut free by a Royal Navy Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). The crew of seven officers and midshipmen, who spent three days in temperatures around 6oC and were running out of oxygen supplies, were unharmed.

The submarine appeared on the surface at 4:15 p.m. local time. “The crew opened the hatch and climbed the rescue ship’s deck on their own,” said Admiral Victor Fyedorov. The first aid to the crew was given on ship Alagez, and they were transferred to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka hospital.

The British Scorpio ROV cut fishing nets and debris, freeing the trapped submarine. “The rescue operation was completed successfully. We thank everyone, and especially the British rescue crew,” said Fyedorov.

The submarine will be repaired and modernized. “After salvaging it, AS-28 will be carried on one of the rescue ship’s decks to the coast, where specialists will examine it,” said a spokesperson of VMS (“Company for secondary metal and boats”). Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged an inquiry into the incident.

The United States and Japan also sent equipment to help in the rescue. However, it was not used.

  • Vyacheslav Milashevskiy (???????? ???????????), captain-lieutenant
  • Antoliy Popov (???????? ?????), navigator
  • Sergey Belezerov (?????? ?????????)
  • Alexandr Uybin (????????? ?????)
  • Alexandr Ivanov (????????? ??????)
  • Valeriy Lepotyuha (??????? ????????)
  • Henadiy Polonin (???????? ???????)

Posted in Uncategorized

Israeli Health minister Ya’akov Litzman resigns in protest after Jews made to work on Jewish rest day

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On Sunday, Israeli health minister Ya’akov Litzman officially resigned, submitting his resignation letter after Jewish workers were made to work on Shabbat — the Jewish holy rest day, from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday — for installation of a signalling system on rail tracks in the Negev on Saturday. Shortly after Welfare Minister Haim Katz announced on Friday his intentions to deploy Jewish workers on Shabbat for the railway work, Litzman, who belongs to the orthodox United Torah Judaism party, informed Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would vacate his post on Sunday if Shabbat was sanctioned by the ministers.

Addressing the Israeli citizens in a video statement, the health minister said, “I cannot continue to bear ministerial responsibility as a minister of Israel while there is state-sanctioned public desecration of Shabbat, in contravention of the sacred values of the Jewish people, the status quo and the coalition agreement”. Both welfare minister Haim Katz and transportation minister Yisrael Katz had expressed potential threat to passengers if the railway work was postponed.

Haim Katz said he had considered the religious beliefs and public safety before making this call. On Friday, he said, “after thorough examination, I authorised only essential work to ensure the safety of rail traffic, and if it were not carried out it could endanger lives […] This decision reflects full consideration for the feelings of the religious public, on the one hand, and maintaining the routine of the train passengers on Sunday.”

The minister also said delaying this work and doing it on a working day would cause inconvenience to many people and create traffic problems. In Litzman’s statement, the health minister said, “throughout the generations the Jewish people knew it must safeguard the Sabbath as a supreme value, and even to sacrifice one’s life for it. The holy Sabbath is the national day of rest, and we were raised to protect against desecrating the Sabbath.”

“Throughout the generations the Jewish people knew it must safeguard the Sabbath as a supreme value, and even to sacrifice one’s life for it. The holy Sabbath is the national day of rest, and we were raised to protect against desecrating the Sabbath.”

Litzman, who became health minister in September 2015 following a ruling by Israel’s apex court prohibiting him from doing the job as a deputy minister, stated he is not leaving the coalition government. On Saturday, the prime minister’s office in a statement said, “the heads of the factions have clarified that they do not intend to leave the coalition” while they were trying to figure out a way “to both respect the Sabbath and ensure safe, consistent public transport”, indicating the coalition government would not be dissolved by Litzman’s resignation.

Netanyahu said he would take Litzman’s vacated place while they try to bring Litzman back. Avi Gabbay, leader of the opposition Labor party, said, “in a modern society, if you want trains to run all week, you have to do maintenance work on Shabbat[…] Litzman is a good minister, and his resignation shows that the Netanyahu government is finished.”

Litzman had discussed about working on Shabbat with religious leader Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, and was told it was wrong to work on Shabbat. Early in July, when prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Strasbourg, France to attend former German chancellor Helmut Kohl’s funeral, Netanyahu walked from hotel to European Parliament, and he did not deliver a speech or sign a guestbook to avoid actions of work on the rest day.

This is not the first time the Isaeli government has had work done on Shabbat, but non-Jewish labourers were used to complete the task. According to reports, the task of installing the signalling system on the tracks required skilled workers, for whom substitutes were not available at the time. Israeli Army Radio reported some German engineers were to arrive during the weekend for the signalling system installation work.

Posted in Uncategorized

Welsh University announces intelligent robot conducting biology experiments

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Adam is a robot developed by Welsh Aberystwyth University researchers which combines artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation to independently conduct and analyse biological laboratory research.

“What’s new and exciting about Adam is [it is] the first time we’ve managed to show that a computer can not only think up new scientific ideas, but experimentally test them and decide whether they’re true,” said Ross King, a computer science professor and lead researcher at Aberystwyth University, “Adam makes up its own mind what to do. It decides what experiments to do, what to test.” He says that for other lab experiments the hardware is already in place, the only step needed is to change the software.

The artificial intelligence alone spans three computers which holds the databases and analytical software to enable Adam to think. For the yeast experiment, Adam was loaded with databases which hold known information relating to yeasts and organisms. Adam compared all fields in the database to find the areas of missing information from which he devised 20 hypotheses.

Adam’s AI is connected to robotic arms, sensors, incubators and cameras which enable Adam to start over 1,000 individual experiments every day and follow their progress over a week.

A part of the process is that Adam’s AI can cycle and analyze the results of the experiments as well doing routine repetitious lab work. Following Adam’s testing, King’s team manually tested three of Adam’s hypotheses and found that the robot’s conclusions were correct, and each was a breakthrough to the scientific community.

Adam has spawned discussion amongst researchers. William Melek, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Ontario’s University of Waterloo, has noted that to set up the AI needed for subsequent experiments involving new biological variables and criteria, the human expertise would be time consuming to customize it. The usefulness would be limited therefore to the allotment of human input needed to set up Adam.

David Waltz of Columbia University and Bruce Buchanan of the University of Pittsburgh say that “For the foreseeable future, the prospect of using automated systems as assistants holds vast promise as these assistants are becoming not only faster but much broader in their capabilities — more knowledgeable, more creative, and more self-reflective,” They note the potential of such lab assistants which may more efficiently process the research data.

It was reported that Adam cost about $1million in production costs and this was weighed against the costs of hiring lab techs. King said, We made many mistakes and learned from Adam. Eve is a much cleaner design.”

Eve is the second AI computer under development by Professor King’s research team. Eve’s artificial intelligence will be enhanced to analyze compounds needed for medicinal drugs which may treat killer diseases such as malaria.

Posted in Uncategorized

Swine flu outbreaks appear globally; WHO raises pandemic alert level to 5

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New cases of the swine flu virus have been reported around the world in recent days, prompting fear of a global influenza pandemic. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the pandemic alert level to 5. The United Nations has warned that the disease can not be contained. At least 91 confirmed cases of the flu have been reported worldwide.

In a special report, Wikinews takes a look at the reaction to the outbreak, and how different countries around the world have been affected by it.

The disease, which is believed to have originated in Mexico, has now spread across the globe, with confirmed cases having been reported in Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Israel. The United States has also reported its first death from the disease in a toddler. South Korea and France both had probable cases.

The WHO said on Tuesday that while it was not yet certain that the outbreak would turn into pandemic, countries should prepare for the worst. “Countries should take the opportunity to prepare for a pandemic,” said the acting assistant director-general for the WHO, Keiji Fukuda.

“Based on assessment of all available information, and following several expert consultations, I have decided to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5,” said Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the WHO, in a statement on Wednesday. “…All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.” After the announcement was made, Wikinews learned that the WHO website had crashed for several minutes, presumably due to high traffic volume.

There is no vaccine for swine flu. In 1976 during an outbreak of the virus, at least 500 people became seriously ill, and of them, 25 had died when inoculated with an attempt at a vaccination. The 500 that became ill developed a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) which caused paralysis “and is characterized by various degrees of weakness, sensory abnormalities and autonomic dysfunction.” Those who developed the disorder did so because of an immunopathological reaction to the drug. Nearly 40 million US residents, including then US president Gerald Ford, were inoculated.


Screening measures at Canadian airports have been raised on Tuesday to screen passengers returning from Mexico for symptoms of swine flu. The measures come amid reports that thirteen people have now been infected in the country, in four different provinces.

The Public Health Agency has recommended Canadians who have booked flights to Mexico to delay them if possible. Those who choose to fly anyway will be asked questions about their health after they return, such as whether they have had symptoms of the flu, like diarrhea, coughing, or a sore throat. If anyone answers in the affirmative, they may be further assessed and perhaps transferred to a quarantine officer, who will suggest that they seek medical help, or isolate themselves at home.

“These measures will help to prevent further spread and protect the health of Canadians and we thank you for your patience and co-operation with this process,” said the chief public health officer, David Butler-Jones.

Several Canadian airlines have also limited or cancelled flights to Mexico. Air Transat and its partner tour companies, Nolitours and Transat Holidays, have cancelled all flights bound to Mexico until June 1. West Jet has also stated that it will suspend all vacation planning and air flights for Cancun, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, and other destinations in Mexico.

Egypt, which has not yet reported any cases of the flu, has recently begun a campaign to slaughter all 300,000 pigs in the country, despite assurances by health officials that the disease is not transmitted from animals to humans. “It has been decided to immediately start slaughtering all the pigs in Egypt using the full capacity of the country’s slaughterhouses,” Egypt’s health minister, Hatem el-Gabaly, told reporters.

Farmers have been protesting the measure. At one pig farming area in the country, crowds of farmers blockaded the roads to prevent health officials from entering to slaughter their pigs. Some of the farmers hurled stones at officials’ vehicles, and the latter was forced to retreat without killing any of the animals.

In Mexico, the epicentre of the outbreak, officials have announced up to 159 suspected deaths from the virus, out of a total of 2,498 suspected cases. The Mexican cabinet has announced that all flights departing from Mexico City will be suspended, while Argentina and Cuba have both cancelled all flights to the country. The European Union and the US have both issued warnings against traveling to Mexico.

The Royal Caribbean cruise line has suspended all stops in Mexico indefinitely, while Norwegian Cruise Line announced that its vessels will not make stops at Mexican ports until September of this year.

The government has ordered all restaurants in the country’s capital to serve only carry-out food, and closed archaeological sites with the intent of limiting large groupings of people. Churches, gyms, pool halls, and other institutions in Mexico City have been asked to close. School classes across the country have been suspended until May 6.

The Mexican government has estimated that the epidemic is costing companies in the capital at least US$57 million per day, and that tourism revenue has dropped by 36%. The finance ministry has set up a special fund of $450 million to fight the disease.

Thirteen confirmed cases have been known in New Zealand. All of them have been prescribed the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

New Zealand airports have now started to screen at least ten thousand people who arrive in the country from flights from Northern America. Those who display symptoms of the flu are taken aside by health authorities and placed into a quarantine.

“The number of suspected cases is likely in increase,” said Fran McGrath, the Deputy Director of Public Health. “While the numbers in any category will fluctuate, this is a pattern to be expected from an influenza outbreak. It is important to note that the 13 people we are treating as confirmed cases have all had mild flu symptoms, have received treatment and are all on the mend of have recovered.”

Spain’s health minister Trinidad Jinenez announced on Wednesday that a total of 53 persons in the country are under observation for the influenza. The number of confirmed cases in the country has been risen from four to ten, including one person who did not obtain the illness by traveling to Mexico.

Until now, Jimenez said that all of Spain’s confirmed cases involved persons who had recently visited Mexico, where the outbreak is believed to have began.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that five people who recently visited Mexico are now ill with the swine flu in the United Kingdom. “All of them have traveled recently from Mexico,” he said. “All of them have mild symptoms. All of them are receiving and responding well to treatment.”

The school of one the infected people, a twelve-year-old girl from Torbay, has been shut down and its 230 pupils given the drug Tamiflu, Brown said.

The Prime Minister said that the country is preparing for a possible pandemic. It has increased its stocks of antiviral drugs, enough for fifty million people, and ordered additional face masks for health workers. The government has encouraged all British residents to avoid travel to Mexico.

A 23-month-old boy from Mexico died at a Houston, Texas hospital on Wednesday, the first casualty from swine flu in the United States. The child had arrived in Brownsville, Texas, near the border with Mexico, with unspecified “underlying health issues” on April 4. Several days later, he presented symptoms of swine flu, and was hospitalized on April 13. The next day, the boy was transferred to a Houston hospital, where he remained until dying on Monday night of pneumonia brought on by the virus.

In response to the epidemic, Texas governor Rick Perry has given a disaster declaration. Schools have closed down statewide. Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has also declared a state of emergency in his state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the number of incidents of swine flu in the country to 64 on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama has asked Congress for a fund of $1.5 billion to fight the outbreak, saying that it is needed for “maximum flexibility to allow us to address this emerging situation.”

US health authorities have warned that more cases and fatalities from the flu are probable. “We expect to see more cases, more hospitalizations, and, unfortunately, we are likely to see more deaths from the outbreak,” said Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary.

Posted in Uncategorized