Interview: Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

January’s second Interview of the Month was with Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on 23 January in IRC.

The EFF is coming off a series of high-profile successes in their campaigns to educate the public, press, and policy makers regarding online rights in a digital world, and defending those rights in the legislature and the courtroom. Their settlement with Sony/BMG, the amazingly confused MGM v Grokster decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, and the disturbing cases surrounding Diebold have earned the advocacy organization considerable attention.

When asked if the EFF would be interested in a live interview in IRC by Wikinews, the answer was a nearly immediate yes, but just a little after Ricardo Lobo. With two such interesting interview candidates agreeing so quickly, it was hard to say no to either so schedules were juggled to have both. By chance, the timing worked out to have the EFF interview the day before the U.S. Senate schedule hearings concerning the Broadcast flag rule of the FCC, a form of digital rights management which the recording and movie industries have been lobbying hard for – and the EFF has been lobbying hard to prevent.

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UK company “seriously considering” GPS tracking devices in school uniforms

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The leading supplier of school uniforms in the United Kingdom, Lancashire-based manufacturer Trutex, has announced it is “seriously considering” including GPS tracking devices in future ranges of its uniform products after conducting an online survey of both parents and children.

“As a direct result of the survey, we are now seriously considering incorporating a [tracking] device into future ranges” said Trutex marketing director Clare Rix.

The survey questioned 809 parents and 444 children aged nine to 16. It showed that 44% of parents were worried about the safety of pre-teen children, and 59% wanted tracking devices installed in school apparel. 39% of children aged nine to 12 were prepared to wear clothing with tracking devices in them, while teenagers were notably less enthusiastic and more wary of what Trutex has admitted they see as a “big brother” concept.

However, Trutex has claimed the tracking devices would bring about worthwhile benefits, including being a valuable resource for parents who wanted to keep a close eye on where their children were at all times.

“As well as being a safety net for parents, there could be real benefits for schools who could keep a closer track on the whereabouts of their pupils, potentially reducing truancy levels” says Rix.

Each year, Trutex supplies 1 million blouses, 1.1 million shirts, 250,000 pairs of trousers, 20,000 blazers, 60,000 skirts and 110,000 pieces of knitwear to the UK.

It is not the first company to manufacture school uniforms with a central focus on child safety; last week Essex firm BladeRunner revealed it was selling stab-proof school blazers to parents concerned about violence against their children. The blazers were outfitted with Kevlar, a synthetic fibre used in body armour. It has already received orders internationally, including Australia.

If the Trutex tracking devices go ahead, it is unclear where in the uniform they will be located.

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Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

Sunday, August 21, 2005

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

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

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

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

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Popular soap opera ‘The Young and the Restless’ celebrates 35 years on the air

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The popular American soap opera The Young and the Restless, currently the reigning Emmy Award-winner for best daytime drama, celebrated 35 years on the air Wednesday.

The 35th anniversary also comes after the series, known colloquially as Y&R, marked its 1,000th straight week as the highest-rated soap opera in a daytime slot. In addition to keeping the #1 spot every week since December 1988, Y&R has also been the top-rated soap in the African-American demographic since 1991.

A trend-setter since the beginning, Y&R relied on character-driven storytelling, accentuated with understated sexuality from its cast, which at that time was mostly young, in order to bring in teenage and twentysomething viewers who were ignored by soap producers and networks up to that time. These traits immediately set Y&R apart from other soap operas, and other soaps have since mimicked Y&R’s formulaic approach to offering something for everyone, especially younger viewers.

Since premiering on March 26, 1973, Y&R has become a worldwide cultural institution in its own right, racking up an impressive 100 Emmy Awards between the writers, producers, cast and crew since 1974. The show has aired in over 100 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, and Turkey, and reaches a worldwide audience of ten million daily. So far-reaching was Y&R’s appeal that Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci chose the serial’s theme song as accompanying music to her floor exercises at the 1976 Summer Olympics. In Australia, where Y&R has aired since 1974, the show was canceled by the original network that aired it in 2007, prompting a widespread fan backlash in that country. It was quickly moved to a pay channel.

Over the past 35 years, countless characters, marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and every joy and trauma in between have visited the residents of Genoa City, where Y&R is set. To commemorate the milestone, Mike Halterman from Wikinews interviewed three actresses who have played long-running characters on Y&R, and asked them to share their memories. All three responded to questions about what being on Y&R means to them, what their favorite storylines were, what they perhaps would have wanted to do all over again, and what they’d love to tell their fans directly.

Below are portions of all three interviews.

Contents

  • 1 Wikinews interviews Y&R cast members
    • 1.1 Questions asked to all three
    • 1.2 Questions asked to Melody Thomas Scott
    • 1.3 Questions asked to Michelle Stafford
    • 1.4 Questions asked to Tricia Cast
  • 2 Sources
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Report urges Kenya to ban plastic bags

Wednesday, March 9, 2005File:Plastic bag stock sized.jpg

They are cheap, useful, and very plentiful, and that is exactly the problem, according to researchers. A report issued on Feb. 23 by a cadre of environment and economics researchers suggested that Kenya should ban the common plastic bag that one gets at the checkout counter of grocery stores, and place a levy on other plastic bags, all to combat the country’s environmental problems stemming from the bags’ popularity.

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Ford’s US auto sales spike, surpassing GM

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ford Motor Company said on Tuesday that its sales in the United States rose 43% in February compared to the same period last year, as the automaker outsold rivals Toyota and General Motors.

The strength of our new products … are resonating with customers

Ford said that total sales improved to 142,285 units, compared to 141,951 units sold by GM. Additionally, Ford said that its share of the total US car market rose to 17%, up from 14% a year ago. The increase was better than analysts had predicted, and Ford’s stock rose to a five-year high in morning trading, before declining later in the day. Ford’s sales were significantly influenced by a 74% increase in fleet sales to businesses. Rental car agencies alone accounted for around 30,000 units sold. Sales to retail consumers increased only 28%.

The increases were led by sales of two sedans, the Fusion and Taurus, which rose 166.5 and 93.3% respectively, although sales of other models such as SUVs and pickup trucks also increased. Both models were significantly redesigned last year, and analysts said that improved quality from such cars were driving the increases.

Other companies also reported February sales today, nearly all reporting sales gains as well, although none as large as those of Ford. Toyota was the sole exception to the sales gains, as their sales declined 8.7%, as the company was faced with a global recall during the month that led to a temporary stoppage of production for some models.

“The strength of our new products … are resonating with customers,” said Ken Czubay, Ford’s vice president of sales and marketing. However, he believed that traditional Toyota customers were not buying rival autos, but rather awaiting the results from the recalls.

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Toothpaste fills cavities without drilling

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A paste containing synthetic tooth enamel can seal small cavities without drilling. Kazue Yamagishi and colleagues at the FAP Dental Institute in Tokyo say that the paste can repair small cavities in 15 minutes.

Currently, fillers don’t stick to such small cavities so dentists must drill bigger holes. Hydroxyapatite crystals, of which natural enamel is made, bond with teeth to repair tiny areas of damage.

Yamagishi and colleagues have tested their paste on a lower premolar tooth that showed early signs of decay. They found that the synthetic enamel merged with the natural enamel. The synthetic enamel also appears to make teeth stronger which will improve resistance to future decay. As with drilling, however, there is still the potential for pain: The paste is strongly acidic to encourage crystal growth and causes inflammation if it touches the gums.

The paste is reported in the journal Nature.

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Crossing guard killed by truck in Glasgow, Scotland

Friday, January 15, 2010

An elderly woman who was a crossing guard or a “lollipop lady” has been killed in an accident involving a truck in Glasgow, Scotland. The woman has been identified as 59-year-old Catherine Gibson, who came from the Dennistoun district of Glasgow. At around 0850 GMT on Thursday, Gibson was assisting children in crossing a road as part of her job near St. Anne’s Primary School, located in the east side of the city. Gibson was suddenly struck by a truck and dragged underneath the wheels of the vehicle. The children being assisted witnessed the entire collision.

After the accident occurred, Gibson was transported to a hospital but died shortly afterwards. The truck driver, who is aged 64, was not injured in the crash. The vehicle itself was taken away from the scene of the accident at approximately 1200 GMT on the same day. A person working in a garage near where the accident occurred said: “There were children waiting to cross the road and they were all screaming and crying. They all ran back from where the accident had happened. She was found face down and it looked as though the lorry had driven over her shoulder. She was alive when she was found but died a short time later. It was horrific and the kids will probably need counselling.

“It could have been a case of the driver not being able to see her because the vehicle is quite high as he caught her on the passenger side. It’s not clear whether she gave him enough time to stop or whether the driver has failed to stop. It was snowing as well so that could have been a factor.”

Louise Jarvie is the head teacher of St. Anne’s Primary School. “Our thoughts and condolences are with the family at this very sad time,” she said in reference to the incident. “Support and counselling for pupils and staff will be available to anyone who needs it.”

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