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US state of Kansas in battle over “Intelligent Design” in education
February 20, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Tempers are flaring in the U.S. state of Kansas, where a school board may be on the verge of passing a measure to require that Intelligent Design be taught in public school science classes.

Christian political activists such as Reverend Jerry Johnston of First Family Church in Overland Park Kansas are supporting the effort to shape Kansas science standards according to religious beliefs. Johnston said, “Getting intelligent design into school curricula is the worthiest cause of our time and the key to reversing the country’s moral decline.”

In an apparent attempt to make the inclusion of Intelligent Design into the curriculum seem foolish, “believers” in the Flying Spaghetti Monster are lobbying the Kansas school board, calling for it to require that creation by the Flying Spaghetti Monster be taught alongside Darwinism and Intelligent Design.

Bobby Henderson, the creator of “pastafarianism”, said “I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms… One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.”

Several members of the Kansas Board of Education have already indicated that they might vote in favor of such an initiative. Board member Carol Rupe wrote, “The new version (of science standards) changes the very definition of science from ‘seeking natural explanations’ to ‘seeking logical explanations.’ That is why I think FSMism is able to be included. It is as ‘logical’ as any other theory.”

In 1999, Kansas also wrote Creationism, a precursor of Intelligent Design, into the public school curriculum. A later school board, however, overturned that directive.

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Stingray kills head diver of Underwater World Singapore
February 18, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Following an accidental death at the closed Underwater World Singapore (UWS) aquarium in Sentosa on Tuesday, operations to relocate the facility’s animals have been suspended.

Phillip Chan, 62, the head diver of the defunct facility, was moving stingrays in preparation for transfer to another aquarium when one of them stung him in the chest. Singapore newspaper The New Paper reported no prior such stingray incident was known to have occurred in Singapore. Australian conservationist Steve Irwin died in a similar manner in 2006.

Following a call to the Singapore Civil Defense Force at 2:20 pm, Chan was found near the entrance of UWS, where attempts were made to resuscitate him via CPR. He was taken to Singapore General Hospital, where he died from his injuries. While Chan’s colleagues declined to comment to The New Paper, a staff member at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa, who witnessed Chan being taken away by ambulance, stated, “It all happened very quickly. The ambulance came and quickly left the premises. I’ve never seen such an incident happening here before.”

UWS operator Haw Par Corporation described Chan as a “veteran diver, aquarist and animal caregiver who had been caring for the aquatic animals at UWS since its opening in 1991”. Ten staff, including Chan, remained at UWS after its closure on June 27 to facilitate care for its animals until they could be suitably relocated. In addition to assisting the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate with their investigations, Haw Par has pledged Chan’s family “all possible support and assistance”. Due to Chan’s death, MOM has ordered the cessation of animal transfers from UWS while investigations are pending.

In an interview with The New Paper, Dr. Tan Heok Hui, an ichthyologist and Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum operations officer, stated, “Stingrays attack when they feel threatened, cornered or alarmed. Sometimes, a stingray might feel threatened when someone accidentally steps on it. Stingrays have backward pointing barbs on the spine that have serrated edges. They don’t just cause physical pain, the toxins in the spine can also cause extreme discomfort. When a spine pierces human flesh, it breaks and releases toxins into the flesh.”

Stingray venom contains serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can induce severe muscle contractions. According to Dr Tan, “If a victim is hit in vital organs like the chest area, it may trigger a cardiac arrest, which could subsequently be fatal”. “Stingrays are not usually aggressive, and choose defensive methods to protect themselves. However, stingrays are still wild animals, and when provoked and left with no choice, they will defend themselves using their sting.”

In an interview with The New Paper at the time of UWS’ closure in June, Chan said of the animals he worked with, whom he described as his “band of friends”, “They are so quietly tame. […] We intend to find them the best homes and environment. The next time I see them, I might not recognise them any more but if I dive, they might recognise me.”

Chan’s work at UWS entailed diving into the tanks and feeding the animals whilst visitors took photos. In an interview at the time with The Straits Times, Chan stated, “I treat [the animals] like my babies.” Chan also related anecdotes where he was bitten by sharks who mistook him for fish, releasing him when they recognised their mistake, describing the animals as “gentle”. “Whenever I get in danger,” said Chan, “I just keep calm. I can overcome any danger by just being calm”.

MOM stated of Chan’s death, “The Ministry of Manpower was informed about an incident that took place at Underwater World Singapore Pte Ltd’s premises at Siloso Road on 4 October 2016. Officers from MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate responded to the scene immediately and commenced investigations. Preliminary findings indicate that a worker was pierced in his chest by the barb of a stingray while he was in the midst of transferring the stingray from its tank. He was conveyed to hospital where he subsequently succumbed to this injuries.[sic] MOM has instructed the occupier to stop all activities associated with the transferring of sea animals. Investigations are ongoing.”

February 18, 2019 · Irrigation · (No comments)

byAlma Abell

For those who only have to water their front lawn or vegetable garden, a simple length of hose and a sprinkler is all that is necessary. Imagine if you had thousands of acres of valuable crops that had to be watered, how would you do it?

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The most-used methods are center pivot and linear movement irrigation machines. One machine travels around a central point and the other travels the length of the field. In both cases, they require many lengths of large-diameter, light-weight, aluminum tubing that can span hundreds of feet. The sections of tube are connected with Camlock couplings.

Both types of irrigation machines start with a water source which is found by drilling in the field. Once the well has been lined and capped, the irrigator is built around it. If it is a center pivot machine, a large diameter fluid swivel is connected to the well head which, in turn, is connected to the first section of pipe. As the pipe obviously cannot cantilever over a huge distance, double-wheeled drive bogies are installed at intervals along the full length of the finished system. At each bogie, and often times between bogies, there is another section of pipe installed; the new pipe is coupled using Camlock couplings.

The power to drive the bogies is also distributed down the length of the system. A power source is brought to the pivot and is connected to a slip ring which maintains a constant electrical supply while rotating. Fixed wiring is then run down the pipe and connected at each bogie.

A straight line or lateral irrigation system uses very similar equipment, but with a slightly different approach. The well is drilled at one end of the field or water is piped in to a fixed point at the end of the field. The water supply is connected to a rather powerful driving device which crawls along the field. As the driver gets farther away from the water source, additional lengths of hose are coupled together, once again using Camlock couplings.

Once the field has been harvested, the entire irrigation system can be quickly dismantled and re-assembled in another field, thanks to the ingenious, quick-coupling system from Camlock.

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Costa joins Juventus FC on one-year loan
February 13, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

On Wednesday, Italian football club Juventus announced an agreement with German club Bayern Munich for a one-year loan of Brazilian winger Douglas Costa for a fee of €6 million, to run until June 30, 2018.

26-year-old Douglas Costa joined Bayern in 2015 under Pep Guardiola’s management from Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk. In two seasons at the Allianz Arena, Costa has scored fourteen goals and provided 27 assists, making 77 appearances in total. He won two consecutive Bundesliga titles, a DFB Pokal, and a DFL-Supercup. Before joining the Bavarian club, the left-footed winger won five consecutive Ukrainian Premier League trophies.

In the agreement with Bayern, Juventus can exercise an option to buy the player for €40 million before July 1, 2018. Bayern may receive an additional €1 million subject to conditions in the contract. Bayern Munich’s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said, “We had serious and constructive talks with Juventus’ representatives. All of FC Bayern’s financial demands have been met”.

Upon asking why he joined Juventus, Costa told the Juventus’ interviewer that he “had always dreamed of playing” with the Old Lady and said he was “delighted to be part of” Juventus’ team.

Socialist Ségolène Royal launches campaign for French presidency

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Socialist Ségolène Royal launches campaign for French presidency
February 12, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Royal is now a leading candidate to succeed Jacques Chirac in May 2007. She was elected yesterday by over 100,000 activists after a moderate, and some say Blairite, campaign.

In the early hours of Friday morning, the result of a vote by members of the French Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste, PS) was announced, with centrist Ségolène Royal leading the poll to become their candidate in next year’s election for President of the Republic.

While many parties contest the presidential elections, the winner is expected to be an official candidate of one of the two main parties, the Socialists and the conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). Speaking on French television tonight, François Hollande, leader of the PS and Royal’s partner, announced a party recruitment drive to reinforce Royal’s campaign against the larger UMP.

Royal spent Friday in her home town of Melle, Deux-Sèvres, where she addressed the world’s press, and spoke with supporters, before returning to Paris.

The selection has kept columnists and editorial writers busy. In her Friday press conference, she spoke directly to the French people; her words, “Gather, mobilise, ask what you can do for your country,” reminding John Lichfield (The Independent, London) of John F. Kennedy. The Manchester Guardian’s Martin Kettle used Royal’s success as an opportunity to criticise Tony Blair for appearing to back Nicholas Sarkozy of the UMP.

The UMP, the leading conservative party, plans to select its candidate in January. This is the first French presidential campaign where the party candidates are selected by a ballot of the mass membership.

French presidential elections traditionally involve a number of candidates (last elections in 2002 saw the French people choosing between 16 candidates.) One of the questions is now the ability of Royal to unite the French left. Traditionally, parties on the parliamentarian left (MDC, Les Verts, Parti Radical de Gauche, Parti Communiste) have been involved in a number of coalitions, most recently before the 2002 elections. Unity in government does not reflect in the polls as the governing majority was represented by four candidates in 2002: Lionel Jospin (PS), Robert Hue (PC), Noël Mamère (Les Verts), Jean-Pierre Chevènement (MDC). The division of the left in the first round of the elections in 2002 is one of the given explanations for the surprise second round opposing Jean-Marie Le Pen (FN) and Jacques Chirac.

France is a parliamentary democracy, where the President is the Head of State, but independent of both the National Assembly (legislature) and the executive, which is led by the Prime Minister. The presidency is a high profile and influential role, currently filled by conservative-aligned veteran statesman, Jacques Chirac, whose second term expires in May 2007.

WHO’s reaction to H1N1 influenced by drug companies, reports claim

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WHO’s reaction to H1N1 influenced by drug companies, reports claim
February 11, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Reports suggest the World Health Organisation’s declaring a swine flu pandemic was an error driven by drug companies, and lead to unjustified fear. A year after the swine flu pandemic was declared, stocks are left unused and governments try to abandon contracts, pharmaceutical companies have profited at least £4.6billion from the sale of vaccines alone.

Reports by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) and the Council of Europe claim that The World Health Organisation reaction to H1N1 was influenced by pharmaceutical companies and that key scientists behind advice had financial ties with firms Roche and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). These conflicts of interest have never been publicly disclosed by WHO, an apparent violation of its own rules.

The World Health Organisation issued H1N1 guidelines in 2004, recommending countries to stockpile millions of doses of antiviral medication. The advice prompted many countries around the world into buying up large stocks of Tamiflu, made by Roche, and Relenza manufactured by GSK.

A joint investigation with the BMJ and the BIJ, found that scientists involved in developing the WHO 2004 guidance had previously been paid by Roche or GSK for lecturing and consultancy work as well as being involved in research for the companies. “The WHO’s credibility has been badly damaged,” BMJ editor Fiona Godlee said in an editorial.

A report by the health committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a 47-member human rights watchdog, found that the WHO’s reaction was influenced by drug companies that make H1N1 antiviral drugs and vaccines. It criticised WHO lack of transparency around the handling of the swine flu pandemic and says the public health guidelines by WHO, EU agencies and national governments led to a “waste of large sums of public money and unjustified scares and fears about the health risks faced by the European public.”

We’re still in the pandemic

A spokesman for WHO said the drug industry did not influence its decisions on swine flu. Margaret Chan, the organisation’s director, had dismissed inquiries into its handling of the A/H1N1 pandemic as “conspiracy theories” earlier this year, she had said: “WHO anticipated close scrutiny of its decisions, but we did not anticipate that we would be accused, by some European politicians, of having declared a fake pandemic on the advice of experts with ties to the pharmaceutical industry and something personal to gain from increased industry profits.”

Yesterday, a 16-member “emergency committee” consisting of advisors from the World Health Organisation said that the H1N1 pandemic is not yet over. The WHO has refused to identify committee members, arguing that they must be shielded from industry pressure, so possible conflicts of interest with drug companies are unknown. The BMJ report also reveals that at least one expert on the “emergency committee” received payment during 2009 from GSK.

In related news, Reuters reported, Pfizer Inc, the world’s biggest drugmaker, is selling its swine vaccine business to Chinese Harbin Pharmaceutical Group for $50 million.

Barack Obama presents rescue plan after GM declaration of bankruptcy

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Barack Obama presents rescue plan after GM declaration of bankruptcy
February 9, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Monday, June 1, 2009

In a televised speech from the White House at 16:00 UTC today, President of the United States Barack Obama presented a reorganization plan following the 12:00 UTC announcement by General Motors that it had filed for bankruptcy and Chapter 11 protection from its creditors, the largest bankruptcy of a U.S. manufacturing company.

Describing the problem with the company as one that had been “decades in the making,” Obama explained the rationale behind his proposed reorganization plan for General Motors. He stated that his intent was not to “perpetuat[e] the bad business decisions of the past,” and that loaning General Motors money, when debt was its problem, would have been doing exactly that. His plan, he stated, was for the United States government, in conjunction with the governments of Canada and Ontario (which he thanked for their roles alongside the government of Germany which he thanked for its role in selling a corporate stake in GM Europe), to become shareholders in General Motors. The United States government would hold a 60% stake. The government will give GM a capital infusion of US$30 billion in addition to the funds it has already received.

Of the government ownership he stated that he refused “to let General Motors and Chrysler become wards of the state”, and described the bankruptcy of Chrysler, and the bankruptcy of General Motors that he envisioned as being “quick, surgical, bankruptcies”. He pointed to the bankruptcy of Chrysler as an example of what he envision for General Motors, but stated that General Motors was a “more complex company” than Chrysler.

Responding to challenges voiced by political opponents, before the speech, that the federal government would actively participate in the affairs of the restructured company, he stated that he had “no interest” in running GM, and that the federal government would “refrain from exercising its rights” as a corporate shareholder for the most part. In particular, he stated that the federal government would not exercise its rights as a shareholder to dictate “what new type of car to make.” He stated that he expected the restructured GM to make “high quality, safe, and fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow,” and several times described what he anticipated as “better” and “fuel-efficient” cars, after a streamlining of GM’s brands.

He said to the general public that “I will not pretend that the hard times are over.” He described the financial hardship that some — shareholders, communities based around GM plants, GM dealers, and others — would undergo as a “sacrifice for the next generation” on their parts, so that their children could live in “an America that still makes things,” concluding that one day the United States might return to a time when the maxim (a widely-repeated mis-quotation of what Charles Erwin Wilson once testified before the U.S. Senate when nominated for the position of Secretary of Defense) would once more be true that “what is good for General Motors is good for the United States of America.”

Irish inflation back on the rise

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Irish inflation back on the rise
February 9, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, May 13, 2005

According to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the annual rate of inflation in Ireland has begun to rise again after a period of decline. Annualised inflation is now running at 2.2%, up from 2.1% in March.

The figures are derived from the Consumer Price Index which is monitored by the CSO. Despite the increase, inflation remains significantly below the figure for recent years. Annualised inflation peaked at 5.1% in February 2003.

The major contributor to the rise was the cost of heating and housing with the Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels group rising 10.6% in the past 12 months – with 2% of that rise in the last month alone.

When broken down more the section marked Energy Products showed a massive 5.3% rise in the past month alone.

This sharp rise in energy costs was offset somewhat by decreases (over the past 12 months) in the following groups:

  • Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages (-0.5%)
  • Clothing and Footwear (-2.8%)
  • Furnishings, Household Equipment and Routine Household Maintenance (-1.4%)
  • Communications (-0.2%)
  • Miscellaneous Goods & Services (-1.3%).

According to the CSO the Consumer Price Index is made up of over 55,000 prices consisting of 613 headings which cover over 1,000 different items.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

Japan Airlines to file for bankruptcy

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Japan Airlines to file for bankruptcy
February 9, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Japan Airlines (JAL), Asia’s largest airline, is expected to file for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, bringing an end to months of speculation about the airline’s financial future, riddled by debt.

The bankruptcy filing, should it go ahead, is to be followed by a restructuring program, backed by the government, intended to trim down the airline, firing a third of its employees, and removing some routes from its schedule.

JAL stock has fallen by over ninety percent in the last few days, due to the financial uncertainty of the airline. Shares for JAL were trading as low as US$0.05 earlier today at the Tokyo stock exchange. The carrier’s estimated value is now $150 million, about the price of a single Boeing 787 jet.

Prohibition Party holds convention; nominates Jack Fellure for U.S. President

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Prohibition Party holds convention; nominates Jack Fellure for U.S. President
February 9, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Retired West Virginia engineer Lowell Jackson “Jack” Fellure won the presidential nomination of the Prohibition Party yesterday at the party’s National Convention in Cullman, Alabama. He won on the second ballot, defeating Thompson Township tax accessor James Hedges of Pennsylvania, who initially ran unopposed. Party Chairman Toby Davis of Mississippi received the vice presidential nomination.

The Prohibition Party is the third oldest existing political party in the United States, having been established in 1869. It reached its height of popularity during the late 19th century. As its name suggests, the party heavily supported the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which banned the sale of alcohol, and resulted in the US period known as Prohibition (1919–33). The party has declined since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, but has continued to nominate candidates for the presidential election.

Fellure, 79, has run for president in every election since 1988, though usually as a Republican. This run marks his first as a member of the Prohibition Party. On his campaign website, he cites the Authorized 1611 King James Bible as his presidential platform, and calls for the teaching of the Bible in public schools, criminalization of homosexuality, and the elimination of abortion, the liquor industry and pornography. On economics, he supports reducing taxes and balancing the federal budget.

While Jim [Hedges] has contributed valuable resources to this Party…his positions regarding Environmentalism and passivity toward war forced me to vote for Jack Fellure.

Hedges, the first Prohibition Party member elected to public office since 1959, announced his campaign in February 2010, and was the only candidate until last month. According to Vice Chairman June Griffin: “While Jim has contributed valuable resources to this Party…his positions regarding Environmentalism and passivity toward war forced me to vote for Jack Fellure. As well, his insistence on a moratorium on the building of nuclear plants caused much unrest among the membership. Yet he prevailed to install this plank.”

The ten voting Prohibition Party convention delegates and a few guests met for the National Convention, which began on Monday at the Holiday Inn Express in Cullman. Tuesday featured a short greeting from Cullman Mayor Max Townson, followed by addresses from Libertarian consultant Stephen P. Gordon, Ballot Access News publisher Richard Winger, and Eunie Smith of the Eagle Forum.

Gordon, who previously worked as the e-Campaign manager for the 2008 Bob Barr presidential campaign, jokingly commented that his speech “stunk”. He opened his address with the joke that “the way to pick out the libertarian at a Prohibition Party function is that I’m the one wearing the Jerry Garcia tie.” He discussed how third party candidates could utilize new media to their advantage, but avoided any ideological topics.

Winger, an expert on election law, discussed ballot access and the history of the Prohibition Party. He notably explained how the party had cost the Republicans presidential victories in the elections of 1884 and 1916, which forestalled the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment by Republicans, who wanted to do away with the alcohol issue. Gordon later commented that Winger’s speech was well-received by the audience.

After Winger’s speech, the convention broke for lunch. Afterwards, Smith, the widow of former Congressman Albert L. Smith, Jr., focused on immigration and education in her address. When asked about the Eagle Forum’s participation in the fight against alcohol, she commented that the group was focused on more pressing issues such as gambling.

After the nomination, some party members traveled to the grave of Sidney Catts in Florida. Catts, who died in 1936, was the first and only state governor elected from the Prohibition Party.

The party will now begin ballot access drives in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, New Jersey, Utah, Colorado, Tennessee and Arkansas. In 2008, the late Gene Amondson appeared on the ballot in Colorado, Florida and Louisiana and picked up a total of 653 votes.