Transit strike affects 100,000 in Helsinki

Monday, March 6, 2006

In Helsinki, the Finnish trade union for bus and truck drivers has gone on strike on Sunday evening, mainly over the use of part-time labor. The strike is estimated to affect 100,000 people in the capital area, crowding the remaining transit system on Monday morning. The strike is halting almost half of all bus traffic in and around Helsinki, especially hurting travellers commuting from outlying cities Espoo and Vantaa, where over 60% of bus traffic will be stopped.

The strike also affects 4,000 of Finland’s 55,000 delivery trucks, as well as waste management in many areas. The strike is not affecting trains, trams or the underground, but heavy crowding is to be expected. Authorities are also warning of traffic jams during rush-hours as people use personal cars instead of public transportation.

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Taliban in Pakistan captures convoy bound for NATO troops

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On Monday, the Pakistan branch of the Taliban captured a supply convoy of thirteen trucks and two armored Humvees bound for NATO troops, without incurring a single fatality. They made off with millions of dollars worth of sophisticated military equipment, according to The Washington Post.

Approximately 60 masked militants belonging to Tehrik-i-Taliban blocked off part of a roadway in the Khyber Pass. The Taliban forces overran the Pakistani security forces, who were moving the shipment to an American military base, and briefly took the truck drivers prisoner. Although gunfire was exchanged, there were no casualties on either side. After releasing the drivers, the militants opened several captured cargo containers of wheat, distributing most of it to local residents.

The attack, which took place in the North-West Frontier Province, occurred several miles outside the border town of Jamrud. It was celebrated by the victorious fighters who photographed themselves with the captured equipment.

Pakistan’s federal government, which has recently stepped up efforts to contain the lawless tribal province, dispatched helicopters and 500 troops to try and track the hijacked convoy. One local child was killed, and four civilians wounded, by the gunships. The Taliban fighters were reported to have abandoned an American Jeep and one of the Humvees along the road, which were subsequently taken back into possession by Pakistani troops.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn published a scathing editorial attacking the army’s incompetence and heavy-handed response to the embarrassing loss, referring to the attack as disturbing “both for its audacity and possible implications.”

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With US mid-term elections fast approaching, three prominent Democrats announce retirement

Thursday, January 7, 2010

With this year’s November midterm elections fast approaching, three prominent United States Democrats announced their plans for retirement from public service on Wednesday.

Powerful and influential—yet controversial for his alleged close ties to the financial sector and his handling of last year’s bailout—Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut announced that he would not be seeking a sixth term this year.

In a speech to his supporters in East Haddam, Connecticut, the sixty-five-year-old senior senator—with his family at his side—said, “I have been a Connecticut senator for thirty years. I’m very proud of the job I’ve done and the results delivered. But none of us is irreplaceable. None of us is indispensable.”

He then went on to say, “Over the past twelve months, I’ve managed four major pieces of legislation through the United States Congress, served as chair and acting chair of two major Senate committees, placing me at the center of the two most important issues of our time—health care and reform of financial services.”

In addition to highlighting some personal travails, Dodd alluded to his precarious political situation, “I lost a beloved sister in July, and in August, Ted Kennedy. I battled cancer over the summer, and in the midst of all of this, found myself in the toughest political shape of my career.”

Despite this, Dodd adamantly maintained that none of the above reasons were the causes for his retirement. He said that his reasons were more “personal,” and that his retirement would hopefully give him a much-wanted opportunity to spend more time with his family.

Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota announced that he would not run for re-election this year either.

“Although I still have a passion for public service and enjoy my work in the Senate, I have other interests and I have other things I would like to pursue outside of public life,” said the sixty-seven-year-old, three-term senator who said he came to this decision after discussing his future with his immediate family over Christmas.

Governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter announced that he too would not seek a second term. The fifty-three-year-old freshman governor said that although he felt his race was “absolutely winnable,” after some deep “soul searching,” he realized that he truly wanted to retire from politics nonetheless. This due to the fact that he felt his main priority should be to be a better husband to his wife as well as a better father to their four children.

When asked to comment on Senator Dodd’s retirement on behalf of the Administration, Vice President Joseph Biden said Dodd would “be long recognized as one of the most significant senators of my generation.”

He furthermore stated, “I believe the nation will miss his wisdom, wit and compassion. I count myself lucky because I know he’s not going too far and will always be a source of advice and counsel.”

Biden gave similar comments and expressed like sentiments about the retirement of his other two Democratic colleagues as well.

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Latest trial of the One Laptop Per Child running in India; Uruguay orders 100,000 machines

Thursday, November 8, 2007

India is the latest of the countries where the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) experiment has started. Children from the village of Khairat were given the opportunity to learn how to use the XO laptop. During the last year XO was distributed to children from Arahuay in Peru, Ban Samkha in Thailand, Cardal in Uruguay and Galadima in Nigeria. The OLPC team are, in their reports on the startup of the trials, delighted with how the laptop has improved access to information and ability to carry out educational activities. Thailand’s The Nation has praised the project, describing the children as “enthusiastic” and keen to attend school with their laptops.

Recent good news for the project sees Uruguay having ordered 100,000 of the machines which are to be given to children aged six to twelve. Should all go according to plan a further 300,000 machines will be purchased by 2009 to give one to every child in the country. As the first to order, Uruguay chose the OLPC XO laptop over its rival from Intel, the Classmate PC. In parallel with the delivery of the laptops network connectivity will be provided to schools involved in the project.

The remainder of this article is based on Carla G. Munroy’s Khairat Chronicle, which is available from the OLPC Wiki. Additional sources are listed at the end.

Contents

  • 1 India team
  • 2 Khairat
    • 2.1 The town school
  • 3 The workplace
  • 4 Marathi
  • 5 The teacher
  • 6 Older children, teenagers, and villagers
  • 7 The students
  • 8 Teacher session
  • 9 Parents’ meetings
  • 10 Grounding the server
  • 11 Every child at school
  • 12 Sources
  • 13 External links
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English court jails policeman over insurance fraud

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A court in England, UK has jailed a policeman for ten months after he was convicted of defrauding his car insurance company.

Police Constable Simon Hood, 43, arranged for a friend who dealt in scrap metal to dispose of his Audi TT, then claimed it had been stolen.

Hood had been disappointed with the car’s value when he tried to sell it two years after its purchase in 2008. He arranged for friend Peter Marsh, 41, to drive the vehicle to his scrapyard in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Marsh then dismantled the vehicle with the intent of disposing of it, but parts were later found wrapped in bubblewrap at Ace Tyre and Exhaust Centre.

Marsh picked up the TT from outside nearby Gorleston police station. Records show mobile phone conversations between the conspirators that day in March, both before and after the vehicle was reported stolen. The pair denied wrongdoing but were convicted of conspiring to commit insurance fraud after trial.

The fraud was uncovered after Hood told former girlfriend Suzanne Coates of the scheme. It was alleged before Norwich Crown Court that he had confessed to her in an effort to resume their relationship. Coates said that after the pseudotheft, Hood told her “he didn’t want to look for it. He said it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, which I thought was a bit strange.”

You knew throughout your career that policemen that get involved in serious dishonesty get sent to prison

Shortly afterwards Hood suggested they should become a couple once more, she said; she challenged his version of events regarding the car: “He said he did it but I couldn’t tell anyone. He said he did it with Peter. Peter had a key and took the car away and it was going to be taken to bits and got rid of so it was never found.”

Hood was defended by Michael Clare and Marsh by Richard Potts. Both lawyers told the court that their clients had already suffered as a result of the action in mitigation before sentencing. Clare said Hood had resigned from the police after fifteen years of otherwise good service and risked losing his pension. “It is not a case where his position as a police officer was used in order to facilitate the fraud,” he pointed out. “His career is in ruins.” Hood is now pursuing a career in plumbing.

Potts defended Marsh by saying that he, too, had already suffered from his actions. His own insurers are refusing to renew their contract with him when it expires and his bank withdrew its overdraft facility. His business employs 21 people and Potts cited Marsh’s sponsorship of Great Yarmouth In Bloom as amongst evidence he supported his local community.

Judge Alasdair Darroch told Marsh that he did accept the man was attempting to help his friend. He sentenced Marsh to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 250 hours of community service. He was more critical of Hood:

“As a police officer you know the highest possible standards are demanded by the public. You have let down the force. You knew throughout your career that policemen that get involved in serious dishonesty get sent to prison.”

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New Jersey backpedals on proposed bikini waxing ban

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Jersey has reversed its plans for a state-wide ban on bikini waxing after salon owners from across the state spoke out against the proposal.

The New Jersey Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling planned to consider a ban on so-called “Brazilian waxes” in response to two women who reported being injured during a wax.

But state Consumer Affairs Director David Szuchman, who oversees the board, asked them to abandon the ban in favor of reviewing and establishing safeguards for those who provide the service.

“Many commentators have noted that the procedure could be safely performed,” Szuchman wrote in a letter to state board President Ronald Jerome Brown, according to the Asbury Park Press. “I, therefore, believe that there are alternative means to address any public health issues identified by the board.

Salon owners from across the state expressed relief with Szuchman’s decision.

“It was an unnecessary issue,” spa owner Linda Orsuto told the Associated Press. “In New Jersey especially, where the government has been picking our pockets for so long, it was like, ‘Just stay out of our pants, will you?'”

Although millions of Americans get bikini waxes, which generally cost between $50 and $60 per session, the practice comes with risks. Skin care experts say the hot wax can irritate delicate skin in the bikini area, and result in infections, ingrown hairs and rashes.

Waxing on the face, neck, abdomen, legs and arms are permitted in New Jersey. Although state statutes have always banned bikini waxing, the laws are seldom enforced because the wording is unclear.

If the measure had passed, New Jersey might have become the only US state to ban the practice outright.

Although Szuchman’s letter was crafted more as a recommendation than an order, media reports said the ban would likely never be approved without his support because his office oversees the board.

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Stranded Russian minisub is trapped by 60 tonne anchor

Friday, August 5, 2005

The Interfax news agency is reporting that a Russian minisub that was stranded underwater in the Pacific Ocean is trapped by two 60 tonne anchors.

The submarine propeller has snagged on the antenna of a sonar underwater coastal defense station, (or perhaps very long low frequency arrays, which can be thousands of yards) 623 ft below the ocean 43 miles off Kamchatka. “The anchor needs to be blown up” in order to be able to raise the AS-28 submarine, the commander of the Russian Pacific Fleet told Interfax.

“If the explosion is successful, the system will be raised to a depth of 100 meters and lit up by the Tiger [television camera], and we can at last be 100% sure that it’s the submarine, and deepwater divers will be able to continue work,” he continued.

The AS-28 submarine, with seven crew onboard, became entangled on Thursday while at a depth of 190 m.

Earlier reports that the submarine had been taken under tow have been proved false. Ships had attempted to trawl for the submarine in order to drag it into shallower water, but it is reported that they failed to capture the submarine.

The Pacific Fleet commander says that the crew have enough food and water to survive until Monday although oxygen will run out by Saturday. The three-man submarine was designed to supply the crew with a five day supply of oxygen, however with the seven man crew the supply has been greatly depleted.

Around ten Russian navy ships are attending, to be joined by four Japanese vessels on Monday. The US and UK navies are also flying in specialist rescue equipment, including two U.S. navy owned remotely-operated underwater robots capable of cutting through steel lines up to 1″ thick and one U.K. video array ROV. They will arrive on Saturday.

The crew have been using an underwater acoustic telephone to communicate with the surface, and are reported to be remaining calm. They have been told to keep still and to conserve the ship’s power supplies.

The same class of vessel, which measures 13.5 m by 3.8 m, was used during the ill-fated rescue attempt on the Kursk, which was lost with all hands almost exactly five years ago.

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PBS show asserts greenhouse gases, atmospheric pollutants dimming future

Saturday, April 22, 2006

This week, the Public Broadcasting Service aired a NOVA program titled “Dimming the Earth”, which presented research by leading scientists on the complex systems of our global climate and human activity’s effect on it. One of the largest interactions (or “inputs”) humans have with the atmosphere is the ever-increasing use of fossil fuels. Consumption has risen 2% per year for this decade.

Fossil fuels burnt in factories and automobiles send their waste into our atmosphere in two forms. The first is CO2 and other greenhouse gases, which have received substantial attention in the last few years because of the way they trap heat in the atmosphere. The second is the tiny particles of sulfur dioxide, soot and ash, which scientists call aerosols (basically smog). Research into understanding the negative health effects of air pollution has resulted in the development of catalytic converters for cars as well as devices to remove particulate solids from industrial waste before it reaches the air.

More recently, atmospheric scientists have come upon the phenomenon of the reduction of direct sunlight reaching Earth’s surface— observing a nearly a 5% decline between 1960 and 1990, with evidence of a recovery since then. This has been dubbed the “global dimming” effect, and is probably due to the way these aerosols act upon clouds. It is important to realise that this does not represent a net loss of this much sunshine to the climate system – if so, large temperature declines would have been observed. Instead, the sunshine is absorbed elsewhere in the system, with a much smaller net loss.

Clouds form when moisture gathers around airborne particles, such as pollen or dust. Clouds formed by the aerosol particles emitted by fossil fuel consumption are made of many more tiny droplets than “natural” clouds. These smog-created clouds have two notable effects: they shield sunlight from reaching Earth’s surface and, due to water’s reflective nature, the millions of tiny droplets suspended in them reflect light back into space, allowing even less light to reach Earth.

Many scientists now believe that global dimming caused by these pollutants has mitigated the temperature rises brought about by global warming. Over the last thirty years, Earth’s temperature has increased by about 0.5 oC.

In the absence of global dimming, however, the Earth might be 0.3 oC warmer than it currently is, suggesting that a “tug-of-war” exists between greenhouse gases and particulates released by burning fossil fuels. Efforts to mitigate the human health dangers of smog have allowed more heat into our atmosphere and brought about a sharper increase in global warming.

Dr. James E. Hansen, professor at Columbia University and the head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies [1], believes that if we continue on our current pattern, this warming could be as much as five degrees in the next thirty years and ten to fourteen degrees over the course of the century. Such a temperature rise would devastate life on Earth, likely bringing on a cascade of self-reinforcing warming effects. Earth’s forests drying and burning, a steady thawing of the Greenland and arctic ice sheets, and, most dangerous of all, a release of the methane hydrates that are now frozen at the bottom of the oceans, could remake the planet into something inhospitable to human life. Dr. Hansen warns that, according to his research, man has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming and other responses to human activity by Earth’s climate reach a “tipping point”, becoming unstoppable.

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4 Home Buying Rebate Programs You Need To Know About

Submitted by: Diane Salman

Purchasing a home is the largest cheque most people will ever sign, so making sure you have all the information at hand before making your purchase is important. In addition to your down-payment there will be various closing costs that you will need to think about as well. These costs can add up to quite a substantial amount of money. But for many home buyers, especially first-time home buyers, these extra costs could be offset, at least in part, by available rebate programs. Here are 4 home buyer rebate programs you need to know about.

Land Transfer Tax Refund for First-Time Home Buyers

Every buyer in Ontario must pay the government a land transfer tax which is based on a percentage of what the home sold for. First-time home buyers however can apply for a rebate for and receive a rebate for all of a portion of the tax paid. Other provinces may have similar programs available and in Ontario the maximum amount that would be refunded is $2,000. Some cities, such as Toronto, have also implemented their own land transfer tax but this too can be refunded to eligible buyers. That s nothing to sneeze at.

GST Rebate For New Home Purchases

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If you buy a resale home you generally do not have to pay GST on the purchase price. Not so however if you buy a new home construction. New homes are subject to GST on the purchase price but there is a rebate program for this as well. In general eligible new home buyers can apply for a refund of all or a part of the GST. Keep in mind though that some builders include the GST in the price of the new home and any GST refund would go to them since they are the ones who absorbed the GST in the first place.

Affordable Housing Program

Government is continually trying to make home ownership affordable and available to everyone and with any government program the rules can be complex. In a nutshell the affordable housing program allows those people who qualify to apply for a government grant for the down-payment of their home. Municipalities and provinces have different rules as to who qualifies so check with your real estate professional for more details.

Home Buyers Plan

For most people looking to buy their first home the monthly mortgage payments are not the issue. Mortgage payments are usually close to what they are already paying in rent. The biggest obstacle to buying a home is coming up with the down-payment. If you have money in your RRSP however you can withdraw up to $20,000 tax free for the purpose of using it as your down-payment. This money needs to be paid back to your RRSP within fifteen years and payments need to be made to it every year.

It is important to do your research and speak with your real estate professional to find out more on theses programs and which ones you will be eligible for. Even qualifying for only one program can save you a substantial amount of money.

About the Author: Diane Salman is a

GTA real estate

professional for Re/Max Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage. Keep up-to-date with market information in your area and feel free to visit the site search for

homes for sale Burlington

and real estate related articles.

Source:

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Yahoo chooses Dublin as location of new European Headquarters

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Dublin – Yahoo!, the internet portal, today announced it has chosen Dublin, Ireland as the location of its European Headquarters. Ireland beat off stiff competition from other European countries to win the investment. The move is expected to create over 400 jobs – two thirds of which are expected to be for graduates with skills in information technology, financial services, customer support and website editorial.

Earlier in the month, Ireland lost a potentially multi-billion euro investment by Dell for a new manufacturing facility to Scotland. This was a huge disappointment for IDA Ireland – the countries main development agency – which had offered heavy incentives to the US computer maker. This brought about fears that Ireland had lost its ability to attract high-value investments from foreign multinationals – the driving force of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economy.

Speaking about the investment, the Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, said winning the Yahoo project was a “truly outstanding achievement for Ireland”. Yahoo’s Senior Vice President International, John Marcom, said the decision to locate its European operations headquarters in Ireland was influenced by a “number of factors” which included “the calibre and volume of graduates available in Ireland, the up to date cost competitive telecommunications and data centre infrastructure, and the assistance of IDA Ireland.”

Yahoo is one of the world’s largest internet companies. Its decision to locate in Ireland confirms Dublin’s continued attractiveness to internet and technology companies – Google, Bell Labs, eBay, Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle all have significant Irish operations.

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