Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown, often referred to as the Godfather of Soul, died in Atlanta due to congestive heart failure, combined with pneumonia. His death at age 73 was announced by his agent. After his dentist noticed something unusual with him, Brown was told to visit a doctor immediately. He was taken into the hospital yesterday for treatment of his pneumonia until his death at around 1:45 AM (6:45 AM GMT). It is not known whether he received a pneumonia vaccination, as recommended for people of his age.

He was born in 1933 and grew up in poverty until he formed James Brown & The Famous Flames. His influence on 20th century music, from funk to hip hop was profound.

Before he died, he scheduled a New Year’s Eve concert series in New Jersey and New York that would help kick off a 2007 tour.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Zach Scruggs, a lawyer for United States Senator Trent Lott, says that State Farm Insurance Company is destroying records related to claims for damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The records allegedly contain information saying that State Farm fraudulently denied insurance claims made by its policy holders, including Lott, that had homes there were damaged or destroyed when Hurricane Katrina came ashore on the Gulf Coast.

Scruggs said that Lott has “good faith belief” that many employees of the insurance company in Biloxi, Mississippi are destroying engineer’s reports that were inconclusive as to whether or not water or wind was the main cause of damage to the buildings affected by the hurricane.

Lott is among thousands of home and/or business owners who had their property damaged or destroyed during the hurricane and had their claims denied because State Farm claimed that their policies don’t cover damage caused by floods or water that was driven by the wind.

State Farm has not issued a statement on the matter so far.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=State_Farm_Insurance_allegedly_destroying_papers&oldid=1689871”

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Australia’s Department of Defence spent thousands of dollars on controversial development seminars, Australian media reported Wednesday. The seminars are run by a San Francisco, California-based training company called Landmark Education. The company evolved from Erhard Seminars Training “est”, and has faced criticism regarding its techniques and its use of unpaid labor.

Australia’s Defence Minister Warren Snowdon said that the government is in the process of reviewing Defence Department expenditures on career development. “We’re in the process now of doing an audit, completely unrelated with anything to do with Landmark, which is being undertaken into learning and development to make sure that they meet our needs. … We have to be very sure that the courses that people do undertake are relevant, appropriate and indeed in line with what community expectations might be,” said Snowdon in an appearance on ABC Radio.

We’re in the process now of doing an audit, completely unrelated with anything to do with Landmark, which is being undertaken into learning and development to make sure that they meet our needs.

The Australian and Australia’s ABC News reported that Landmark Education had been listed in France as a “possible cult” in the mid 1990s. When asked about this on ABC Radio, a spokeswoman for the company in the United States, Deborah Beroset, responded: “What happened in France was that a commission established by the French parliament issued a report in which they listed almost 200 organisations as being possible cults … We were never contacted. We were inappropriately included in that list”.

In a program which aired Wednesday, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio program AM reported that Australia’s Defence Department spent at least AUD12,270 of taxpayer funds to send government employees to Landmark Education courses. According to AM, the Defence Department said it does not appear that further funds have been sent to Landmark Education since 2004.

In a statement released by the Defence Department, the government stated: “A search of Defence records does not indicate exactly how many individuals attended courses with this training provider, however it is believed it was a small number of individuals. … Defence has been unable to determine individual reasons for why groups within Defence choose this training provider.”

AM also reported that the use of unpaid labor by Landmark Education “has attracted the attention of the US and French governments,” and that some individuals in the mental health field have accused the company of brainwashing. When asked about the allegations by mental health experts that Landmark Education’s techniques amounted to brainwashing, Deborah Beroset responded: “Well, there is absolutely no credence to that whatsoever.”

Decisions on the appropriateness of staff attending courses by Landmark Education are made by individual managers who remain best-placed to assess the development needs of their staff.

In a March 9 article in the Herald Sun, Peter Rolfe reported that taxpayer money was used to send at least 37 police and government staff from Victoria, Australia to seminars run by Landmark Education. Police and Emergency Services Minister Bob Cameron said that “Decisions on the appropriateness of staff attending courses by Landmark Education are made by individual managers who remain best-placed to assess the development needs of their staff,” but State Liberal MP Murray Thompson told the Herald Sun that the funds should have been put towards fighting crime. Apple Inc., Reebok, and Mercedes-Benz have sent employees to Landmark Education seminars, according to a spokeswoman for Landmark.

In October 2006, Landmark Education took legal action against Google, YouTube, the Internet Archive, and a website owner in Queensland, Australia in attempts to remove criticism of its products from the Internet. The company sought a subpoena under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in an attempt to discover the identity of an anonymous critic who uploaded a 2004 French documentary of the Landmark Forum to the Internet. “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” (Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus) was produced by Pièces à Conviction, a French investigative journalism news program. The Electronic Frontier Foundation represented the anonymous critic and the Internet Archive, and Landmark withdrew its subpoena in November 2006 in exchange for a promise from the anonymous critic not to repost the video.

Landmark Education is descended from Erhard Seminars Training, also called “est”, which was founded by Werner Erhard. est began in 1971, and Erhard’s company Werner Erhard and Associates repackaged the course as “The Forum” in 1985. Associates of Erhard bought the license to his “technology” and incorporated Landmark Education in California in 1991.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rick Morelli is running for the NDP in the Ontario provincial election, in the Vaughan riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Ontario_Votes_2007:_Interview_with_NDP_candidate_Rick_Morelli,_Vaughan&oldid=704111”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Over 3000 protesters, dressed in black, marched the streets of Launceston, Australia on Saturday to show their opposition to the construction of a pulp mill by Gunns Limited. This follows the release of a survey, which showed that 40 percent of Tasmanians oppose the project.

The mill has previously been opposed by the Launceston Environment Centre [LEC] and the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Medical Association [AMA], due to concerns about negative environmental and social impacts of liquid waste and air pollution. The LEC claims that there will be eight deaths per year from increased air pollution, and the AMA has already expressed concerns about Launcestons’ current air quality,

“Launceston has one of the worst air qualities within Australia,” according to a written statement the AMA made in 2006. The statement also attacks the quality of modelling conducted by Gunns during the assessment of the mill. It says that PM2.5 scale particulates are “closely associated with the adverse health effects of particle air pollution”, but were not measured in the assessment process.

The pulp mill was green-lighted by environment minister Tony Burke in March, although no reassessments of air quality have been undertaken by Gunns. The company has stated that more work needs to be done to convince Tasmanians that air quality will not be reduced by the project.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Tasmanians_protest_against_pulp_mill&oldid=1235432”

Monday, August 27, 2007

The number of horses confirmed to be infected with Equine Influenza in Australia has risen to 47, all in the state of New South Wales. So far none of those confirmed infected have been thoroughbred race horses.

The NSW government has confirmed infections at the federal government’s quarantine facility at Eastern Creek and Centennial Park in Sydney; at Cattai and Wilberforce in North-Western Sydney; and in Moonbi, Parkes, Berry and Wyong in regional NSW.

It is also feared that the outbreak may have spread to Warwick in Queensland where three horses from NSW showed flu-like symptoms during an equestrian event. Initial samples were tested in a laboratory in Brisbane revealing the three animals had been carrying the flu. Further testing will be conducted on samples from the horses in Victoria, although results are not expected until later this week. All 300 horses at the event have been quarantined.

There are also three suspected cases of the virus infecting thoroughbreds at Randwich racecourse in Sydney, if the horses test positive to the flu they will be the first thoroughbreds to be infected with the virus.

The Federal Agriculture Minister, Peter McGauran told ABC Radio this morning that while the source of the outbreak was not known, it is likely that the outbreak may have been caused by an equestrian event held in Maitland on the 18th and 19th of August.

“Everyone’s been assuming it was the Centennial Park horses that travelled and infected horses in different parts of regional NSW,” he said.

“It would appear at this stage that almost all, if not every horse affected has passed through a Maitland horse event on the weekend of the 18th and 19th, or come in contact with a Maitland horse.”

Agriculture Minister of NSW, Ian Macdonald told reporters “It’s early days yet, but a number of horses that attended an event at the property on that weekend are showing clinical signs of equine influenza”.

“The NSW Chief Vet, Bruce Christie, has advised me that we need to locate and examine every single horse that entered and left the property.”

At this stage it appears the Australia wide ban on horse movements which expires on Wednesday may have to be extended, at least in NSW and Queensland.

Further developments to this story are available. See:
Horse flu infects Australian thoroughbreds
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The world’s least expensive car, the Tata Nano, has been launched in India. It will go on sale in April, and will start delivery in July. The automobile costs only 100,000 Indian rupees, or just under US$2,000.

“We are at the gates offering a new form of transportation to the people of India, and later I hope other markets as well,” said the chairman of the auto firm, Ratan Tata, calling the vehicle a “milestone.”

“From the drawing board to its commercial launch, the car has overcome several challenges,” Tata said. “I hope it will provide safe, affordable four-wheel transportation to families who till now have not been able to own a car.

“This was never conceived as the cheapest car, but as providing transport to those people who never owned a car,” Tata said. “Driven mainly by the change in demand that we see elsewhere in the world, we suddenly felt we had a product that could be of considerable interest as a low-cost product in western Europe, eastern Europe, the UK and even the U.S.”

The Tata Nano is a four-door vehicle, and is 3 metres long, 1.5 m wide, and 1.5 m tall. It is equipped with a 33 bhp, 624 cc engine at the rear. No radio, airbags, power steering, or air conditioning are available in the basic model, although upgrades are available. The Nano Europa, a slightly larger European version of the car, is expected in 2011.

According to Ravi Kant, the managing director at Tata Motors, the first 100,000 people to receive a Nano would be chosen from the initial orders by a ballot.

An auto analyst for Bombay’s Angel Broking, Vaishali Jajoo, predicted that the Nano will add only three percent to Tata’s revenues even if it can sell a quarter of a million such cars per annum.

“That doesn’t make a significant difference to the top line,” Jajoo said. “And for the bottom line, it will take five to six years to break even.”

Environmentalists say that the car will exacerbate traffic problems already rife in India, and help increase pollution levels. Tata, however, stated that its vehicle is the least polluting car in the country.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=World%27s_cheapest_car_launched_in_India,_will_go_on_sale_in_April&oldid=3422559”

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Kennedy Center announced that its 30th presentation of the Kennedy Center Honors would go to pianist Leon Fleisher, comedian Steve Martin, singer Diana Ross, director Martin Scorsese and musician Brian Wilson. The Center was opened to the public in 1971 and was envisioned as part of the National Cultural Center Act, which mandated that the independent, privately-funded institution would present a wide variety of both classical and contemporary performances, commission the creation of new artistic works, and undertake a variety of educational missions to increase awareness of the arts.

In a statement, Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said that “with their extraordinary talent, creativity and perseverance, the five 2007 honorees have transformed the way we, as Americans, see, hear and feel the performing arts.”

Fleisher, 79, a member of the Peabody Institute‘s music faculty, is a pianist who lost use of his right hand in 1965 due to a neurological condition. He became an accomplished musician and conductor through the use of his left hand. At 67, he regained the use of his right hand. With the advent of Botox therapy, he was once more able to undertake two-hand performances in 2004, his first in four decades. “I’m very gratified by the fact that it’s an apolitical honor,” Fleisher said. “It is given by colleagues and professional people who are aware of what [an artist] has done, so it really is apolitical — and that much more of an honor.”

Martin, 62, a comedian who has written books and essays in addition to his acting and stand-up comedy career, rose to fame during his work on the American television program Saturday Night Live in the 1970’s. Schwarzman praised his work as that of a “renaissance comic whose talents wipe out the boundaries between artistic disciplines.” Martin responded to the honor saying, “I am grateful to the Kennedy Center for finally alleviating in me years of covetousness and trophy envy.”

Ross, 63, was a product of Detroit‘s Brewster-Douglass Projects when as a teeager she and friends Mary Wilson and Florence Ballardis formed The Supremes, a ground-breaking Motown act. She portrayed singer Billie Holiday in the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues, which earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award. “Diana Ross’ singular, instantly recognizable voice has spread romance and joy throughout the world,” said Schwarzman. Ross said she was “taken aback. It is a huge, huge honor and I am excited to be in this class of people.”

Scorsese, 64, is one of the most accomplished directors the United States ever produced, whose work includes Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, Cape Fear, The Last Temptation of Christ and The Departed, for which he won a 2006 Academy Award for Best Director after being nominated eight times. Scorsese said, “I’m very honored to be receiving this recognition from the Kennedy Center and proud to be joining the company of the very distinguished individuals who have received this honor in years past.”

Wilson, 65, along with his brothers Dennis and Carl, formed the Beach Boys in 1961. They had a series of hits that included “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” Their 1966 album Pet Sounds is considered one of the most influential recordings in American music. “This is something so unexpected and I feel extremely fortunate to be in the company of such great artists,” said Wilson, who is currently on tour.

The Kennedy Center’s board of trustees is responsible for selecting honorees for “lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.” Previous honorees, including Elton John and Steven Spielberg, also submitted recommendations. A wide variety of people were under consideration, including Emanuel Ax, Evgeny Kissin, Renee Fleming, Laurence Fishburne, Francis Ford Coppola, Melissa Etheridge and Kenny Chesney.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will attend the center’s presentation at its opera house on December 2, 2007, which will broadcast on December 26 on CBS.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Kennedy_Center_names_2007_honors_recipients&oldid=4281881”

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Singapore Airlines says that it will be compensated by Airbus for the additional delay in delivery of its new superjumbo A380‘s.

The double-deck commercial aircrafts’ delivery, originally due later this year, will be delayed until October 2007. The main fault has been found to be problems in the aircraft’s 500km of wiring. In a statement on the Airbus website, the company said that “the root cause of the problem is the fact that the 3D Digital mock-up, which facilitates the design of the electrical harnesses installation, was implemented late and that the people working on it were in their learning curve”.

Airbus is currently two years behind schedule. In a statement, SIA said that, “The delays are disappointing; all the more so because the flight test and certification programme is proceeding well, and the delays are down to production issues.”

Analysts are predicting that the compensations could well run into a few hundred million US dollars. SIA has stated that the compensation details will be kept confidential

Singapore Airlines is the first airline to fly the A380 and will be receiving the first four aircraft.

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