Thursday, January 14, 2010

Countries and organizations from around the world are sending aid and help to victims of the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday, damaging many buildings. The death toll is currently unknown, but estimated to run into the tens of thousands of people.

US president Barack Obama said in a press conference that “I’ve directed my administration to launch a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives and support the recovery in Haiti.”

Obama announced that aid from the US armed forces was coming to Haiti, noting, “Several Coast Guard cutters are already there providing everything from basic services like water, to vital technical support for this massive logistical operation.”

Obama continued: “[…] today, I’m also announcing an immediate investment of $100 million to support our relief efforts. This will mean more of the life-saving equipment, food, water and medicine that will be needed. This investment will grow over the coming year as we embark on the long-term recovery from this unimaginable tragedy.”

Obama said that the US would forge partnerships with Haitian people and Haitian-Americans, along with United Nations peacekeepers. He closed by saying, “To the people of Haiti, we say clearly, and with conviction, you will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you. The world stands with you.”

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said that $10 million is being released from the international organization’s central emergency response fund.

Meanwhile, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), which already has an existing operation in the country, is beginning to distribute high energy biscuits which require no preparation before eating. On top of that, the WFP is airlifting 86 metric tons of food from their emergency hub in El Salvador.

A spokesperson for the WFP said, “In a normal day the World Food Programme will be feeding one or two million people in Haiti — and now we need to do even more, because the people have lost everything.”

China is also pledging aid to the country, despite the lack of official diplomatic ties between the two countries. Haiti recognizes the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan. Nevertheless, China has sent a 60 member search and rescue team to Haiti and the Chinese Red Cross is donating one million dollars in emergency aid.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said her country expresses sympathy to the Haitian government and people. Jiang says the Chinese foreign minister has sent a telegram of condolence to his Haitian counterparts.

An 80 member team from the United Kingdom of search and rescue specialists has arrived in Haiti to help in efforts there. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a joint press conference with Toaiseach of Ireland Brian Cowen that the team has arrived in the country. He also announced that the government is pledging to match the UN’s US$10 million (£6.1 million).

Brown said, “It is a tragedy beyond imagination and there is a deep sense of loss felt by the whole of the British and Irish people about the tragedy that individual families in Haiti are experiencing at the moment. We send our message of sympathy and support to the people of Haiti at this most difficult of times.”

He added, “Where men, women and children are suffering under the heaviest of burdens, that place must, for that moment, become the centre of our world’s attention, the world’s compassion and the world’s humanitarian help.”

France is also sending aid to the French-speaking country, which at one time was a colony of France known as Saint-Domingue. France is sending two planes with rescuers and aid. Civil safety authorities in France are sending a team of 130 members consisting of rescuers, trained rescue dogs, doctors and nurses along with 12,000 tons of aid and rescue supplies.

Israel is sending rescue forces in two El Al planes carrying a 121-member delegation that includes 40 doctors, five search-and-rescue teams, and an army rescue squad. The IDF medical teams are preparing to spend two weeks in Haiti.

Spain has pledged $4.3 million (3 million) in aid money and has 150 tons of aid ready to be delivered.

South Africa is sending a team of search and rescue specialists to Haiti in response to the devastating earthquake on Tuesday. It is the first of several teams being sent by a local civic group.

The head of South Africa’s Gift of the Givers Foundation, Emtiaz Sooliman, says his group is sending up to three teams of search and rescue specialists to Haiti to help victims of the earthquake and hopefully save some lives.

“These are people who have worked with building collapses, urban search and rescue and some of them have been involved in responding to previous earthquakes so they are highly skilled,” he said.

Sooliman says a second team is to depart as soon as he can book a flight for it.

 This story has updates See Haiti relief efforts: in depth 



Monday, April 17, 2006

Canada‘s Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that a cow in British Columbia, Canada, tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “mad cow disease”. Officials announced on Friday that initial tests done on the purebred six-year-old dairy Holstein had come back inconclusive. The cow was found in Fraser Valley, a farming community near Vancouver, British Columbia.

Officials also say that the beef supply is safe because none of the infected cows had made it to the human food chain. “This finding does not affect the safety of Canadian beef. Tissues in which BSE is known to concentrate in infected animals are removed from all cattle slaughtered in Canada for domestic and international human consumption. No part of this animal entered the human food or animal feed systems,” said agency officials in a statement on Sunday.

“This animal, a six-year-old dairy cow, developed BSE after the implementation of Canada’s feed ban. Investigators will pay particular attention to the feed to which the animal may have been exposed early in its life, when cattle are most susceptible to BSE. The CFIA is collecting records of feed purchased by and used on the animal’s birth farm,” the statement continued.

However, the United States does not believe a ban on Canadian beef will come immediately. “Information gathered through this investigation will help us to determine what, if any, impact this should have on our beef and live cattle trade with Canada. Based on the information currently available, I do not anticipate a change in the status of our trade,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

This is Canada’s fifth confirmed case of the disease since May 2003, and officials have tested more than 100,000 cows since the first case of the disease turned up in Alberta. This is the second cow to test positive for the disease this year.

At least 150 people worldwide have died from eating beef contaminated with the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a nerve disease that is usually fatal. Most of the deaths occurred in the United Kingdom.



Saturday, March 1, 2008

While nearly all coverage of the 2008 United States Presidential election has focused on the Democratic and Republican candidates, the race for the White House also includes independents and third party candidates. These parties represent a variety of views that may not be acknowledged by the major party platforms.

Wikinews has impartially reached out to these candidates, throughout the campaign. We now interview independent Presidential candidate Jon Greenspon, a veteran and small business executive.



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Sunday, August 29, 2010

A University of Tokyo group of researchers, led by bioengineer Shoji Takeuchi, has made an electronic sensor capable of smelling gases. The sensor uses genetically engineered frog cells. Since previous sensors were not very accurate, the scientist decided to try a biological approach. The invention was revealed in a US scientific journal yesterday, and is supposed to be used to design better machines to detect polluting gases in the atmosphere.

Previous smell sensors were based on quartz rods, which vibrate when a substance binds to them. The gases are distinguished by their molar masses, which can be similar for molecules with different structure, thus relatively often triggering a false positive. Trying to find a more accurate solution, Takeuchi decided to follow an example from insect world. As he explained, “when you think about the mosquito, it is able to find people because of carbon dioxide from the human. So the mosquito has CO2 receptors. When we can (extract) DNA (from the mosquito) we can put this DNA into the frog eggs to detect CO2.”

Genes of several insects (the silk moth, diamondback moth and fruit fly), injected into African clawed frog Xenopus laevis eggs, allowed them to produce relatively inexpensive and useful sensors. The choice of the species was caused by their widely studied and well-understood protein expression mechanism.

The modified cells responded to three kinds of pheromones and one odourant, which have similar chemical properties. When a molecule of an odorous substance adhered to the receptor on the membrane protein, ion channels opened for a certain period of time, and a current was generated. Its magnitude was clearly different for all four tested substances, allowing to distinguish between them accurately.

The colleagues embedded the sensor into a mannequin, so that it could shake its head when a gas was detected. It was easier to observe. Pheromones and molecules with quite similar molecule structure produced clearly distinguishable reaction, with higher accuracy than other biological or human-made sensors. As the research group said, the detection sensitivity of the odor sensor is several tens of parts per billion (ppb), and it is as high as the sensitivity of an existing odor sensor that uses an oxide semiconductor. The distinctive feature of the new sensor is its capability to selectively detect some odorous substances, rather than its sensitivity. Very few false positives were possible due to the biological mechanism involved.

At normal temperature, the sensor lifetime is about 12 hours, which can be extended by putting it into a refrigerator before first use.

Shoji Takeuchi says has a great hope for research use in future, since the frog eggs are very practical for genetic engineering, and can be conveniently used to develop smell sensors for a wide range of gases. He said, “The X. laevis oocyte has high versatility for the development of chemical sensors for various odorants. We believe that a shared ability to smell might open a new relationship between man and robot. .. The research will have wide implications… If the sensor is embedded in a nursing robot, it will be able to identify certain mouth odors or body odors. Also, it can be used for detecting CO2, air pollution, water pollution and food. It’s very important for the environment.”



Monday, May 14, 2007

Buffalo, New York —A massive warehouse complex of at least 5 buildings caught on fire in Buffalo, New York on 111 Tonawanda Street, sending a plume of thick, jet black colored smoke into the air that could be seen as far away as 40 miles.

As of 6:40 a.m., the fire was under control, and firefighters were attempting to stop it from spreading, but could not get to the center of the fire because of severe amounts of debris. Later in the morning, the fire was extinguished.

“The fire is mostly under debris at this point. It’s under control, but it’s under some debris. We really can’t get to it. We’re just going to have to keep on pouring water on it so it doesn’t spread,” said Thomas Ashe, the fire chief for the North Buffalo based fire division who also added that at one point, at least 125 firefighters were on the scene battling the blaze. One suffered minor injures and was able to take himself to the hospital to seek medical attention.

Shortly after 8:00 p.m. as many as 3 explosions rocked the warehouse sending large mushroom clouds of thick black smoke into the air. After the third explosion, heat could be felt more than 100 feet away. The fire started in the front, one story building then quickly spread to three others, but fire fighters managed to stop the flames from spreading onto the 3 story building all the way at the back.

According to a Buffalo Police officer, who wished not to be named, the fire began at about 7:00 p.m. [Eastern time], starting as a one alarm fire. By 8:00 p.m., three fire companies were on the scene battling the blaze. Police also say that a smaller fire was reported in the same building on Saturday night, which caused little damage.

At the start of the fire, traffic was backed up nearly 4 miles on the 198 expressway going west toward the 190 Interstate and police had to shut down the Tonawanda street exit because the road is too close to the fire.

At one point, traffic on the 198 was moving so slow, at least a dozen people were seen getting out of their cars and walking down the expressway to watch the fire. That prompted as many as 10 police cars to be dispatched to the scene to force individuals back into their cars and close off one of the 2 lanes on the westbound side.

One woman, who wished not to be named as she is close to the owner of the warehouse, said the building is filled with “classic cars, forklifts, and money” and that owner “does not have insurance” coverage on the property. The building is not considered abandoned, but firefighters said that it is vacant.

Officials in Fort Erie, Ontario were also swamped with calls to fire departments when the wind blew the smoke over the Niagra River and into Canada.

It is not known what caused the fire, but a car is suspected to have caught on fire and there are reports from police and hazmat crews, that there were also large barrels of diesel fuel being stored in one building. Firefighters say the cause of the blaze is being treated as “suspicious.” The ATF is investigating the fire and will bring dogs in to search the debris.



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A compilation of brief news reports for Wednesday, February 3, 2010.

Contents

  • 1 Christmas day bomber cooperating
  • 2 Fire in Hyderabad hospital; 1 dead
  • 3 China begins urgent sweep for tainted milk
  • 4 Karachi violence escalates, section 144 imposed

The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas day with hidden explosives is cooperating with investigators and providing fresh intelligence after the U.S. enlisted the help of his family, an administration official said. His family persuaded him to cooperate.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been providing information to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents questioning him, the official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The official declined to provide details on what kind of information Abdulmutallab was providing.

Related news

  • “Failed bomb aboard Delta flight” — Wikinews, December 26, 2009

Sources

  • Evan Perez. “Abdulmutallab Resumes Talking to Federal Agents” — The Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2010
  • “Bomb plot accused ‘co-operating'” — UKPA, February 2, 2010

Somajiguda
Somajiguda on the map of India

One person died and 41 were injured, including three nurses who are critically injured, in a major fire at Park Healthcare Hospital in Somajiguda, a suburb of the Indian city Hyderabad, on Tuesday morning.

The fire engulfed a major portion of the five-storey hospital’s first floor, along with some medical equipment and furniture on the other floors.

City police commissioner A K Khan said that a criminal case had been registered against the hospital management. “It is also being determined whether safety standards were followed by the hospital,” he said.

Sources

  • “Major fire at city hospital; one patient dead” — The Hindu, February 2, 2010
  • “Major fire at Hyderabad hospital; one patient dead” — PTI, February 2, 2010

Chinese authorities say they are preparing to launch a crackdown on melamine-laced milk after the scandal over tainted products, which made hundreds of thousands of children ill two years ago and damaged China’s brand reputation overseas, resurfaced.

China has dispatched inspectors to sixteen provinces to urge local governments to thoroughly investigate cases concerning food safety.

The decision comes after milk products tainted with the industrial chemical melamine were removed from sale in Shanghai and the provinces of Shaanxi, Shandong, Liaoning and Hebei, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

Related news

  • “Contaminated baby’s milk induces wave of child illness in China” — Wikinews, September 22, 2008

Sources

  • Edward Wong. “China Begins Emergency Check of Dairy Products” — The New York Times, February 2, 2010
  • Cara Anna. “Beijing begins emergency sweep for tainted milk products” — The Boston Globe, February 3, 2010

At least twenty-six people have been killed in Karachi, Pakistan after four days of ethnic killings, according to police officials. The officials said that nine people were killed on Monday in the city’s Orangi western neighbourhood, which has a majority ethnic Pashtun community.

The Sindh government has awarded special powers to the Pakistan Rangers under Section 5 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and imposed Section 144 in the limits of 26 police stations for a month.

At least forty people were killed as ethnic clashes erupted across the city in early January.Home minister of Sindh province, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza has called upon the Army to restore peace and order.

Sources

  • Salis bin Perwaiz. “Rangers given control of 26 police stations” — The News International, February 3, 2010
  • “Deadly ethnic violence hits Karachi” — Al Jazeera, February 2, 2010
  • Zamir Sheikh and Nisar Mehdi. “Army asked to take over Karachi” — The Nation, February 3, 2010



Saturday, June 7, 2008

Western Australian Master Builders Association (MBA) yesterday demanded the Carpenter Government call an emergency cabinet meeting to avoid a “state of emergency” over the energy crisis gripping WA. A MBA spokesperson said that hundreds of workers have already been stood down, many without pay, and that the cost of building material is soaring.

The Minister for Energy, Fran Logan has admitted that the gas shortage caused by Tuesday’s fire is damaging the economy as mining, manufacturing and construction industries wind back operations. Western Australia’s two major brick producing companies have shut operations and Wesbeam’s $A100 million Neerabup pine production facility has been closed, their 130 employees have been stood down.

Wesbeam chief executive James Malone said, “It’s an industrial tsunami in my view. It’s a little ripple that has very quickly had a huge multiplying effect on the whole community”.

Michael McLean, Master Building Association director said “It’s a worst-nightmare scenario, and not one we could have imagined in our wildest dreams,” building supplies are expected to start running out by the middle of next week.

Premier Carpenter has announced a meeting of ministers and industry representatives to take place on Sunday to discuss solutions to the growing crisis. Tim Wall, managing director of Apache Corporation has said Apache is conducting a worldwide search for the parts need to repair the pipeline.

Major mining companies and Apache partners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have already reported they are suffering with the loss of gas supply; the Chamber of Minerals and Energy has talked down the effect saying that they don’t expect the crisis to take the heat off the booming mining industry.

Opposition leader Troy Buswell has describe the performance of Fran Logan as “absolutely dismal” noting that Mr Logan had experienced a similar incident in January this year, when a fire at Woodsides Karratha operations had a similar effect.



Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Scientists have uncovered the largest Neolithic settlement in the United Kingdom at the Durrington Walls and believe that the village was inhabited by the people who built the Stonehenge monument.

Scientists say that the village was built around 2,600 B.C., roughly when Stonehenge was believed to have been constructed, and housed over 100 people.

Inside the areas which would have been the interior of houses at the time, scientists also found outlines of what they think were beds and cupboards or dressers. Pieces of pottery and “filthy” rubbish around the site. Animal bones, arrowheads, stone tools and other relics were also discovered.

“We’ve never seen such quantities of pottery and animal bone and flint. In what were houses, we have excavated the outlines on the floors of box beds and wooden dressers or cupboards,” said Sheffield University archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson.

So far, the dig has revealed at least 8 houses roughly 14-16 feet square, but scientists say that they think there may have been at least 25 altogether.

The site was likely to have been occupied only seasonally rather than year-round and evidence suggests that a lot of “partying” went on at the location.

“The animal bones are being thrown away half-eaten. It’s what we call a feasting assemblage. This is where they went to party – you could say it was the first free festival. The rubbish isn’t your average domestic debris. There’s a lack of craft-working equipment for cleaning animal hides and no evidence for crop-processing,” added Pearson.

The Durrington Walls are approximately 2 miles from the Stonehenge site.



Friday, October 5, 2007

Scientists have announced that the largest radio telescope array in the world, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is to be built in either Africa or Australia and will be composed of thousands of antenna arrays that will be capable of detecting the first galaxies and stars formed in our universe. The control center for the array is announced to be located in the United Kingdom in Manchester, England at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics.

“The next generation radio telescope – the Square Kilometer Array – will carry on this tradition of innovation. The goal is to construct a network of antennas working at centimeter to meter wavelengths with 100 times the sensitivity of the largest existing arrays. This telescope will play a major role in the following decades, alongside other next generation facilities in the millimeter, optical/IR, X-ray and so on, in further exploring the content and evolution of the universe,” said a press released on SKA’s website.

Construction will begin in 2012 and cost over US$2 billion (£1 billion, €1.4 billion) to build. The array will reportedly begin operation by the year 2020. SKA decided to release the details of the array plans on the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik. At least 17 different countries and 55 schools, universities, engineers and astronomers are expected to take involvement in the project.

The array will be built in one of two locations. The first option is in Mileura, Australia. According to SKA’s website, the location is ideal because “only 100,000 people inhabit the five million square kilometers of the interior” area of western Australia, making it one of “the most radio-quiet locations on Earth.”

The second option is in South Africa in Northern Cape Province because of the “dry climate, a good existing infrastructure of roads and power reticulation, a low Radio Frequency Interferences (RFI), low land prices and low operating costs” and “has a appropriately skilled workforce and a well-established telecommunications infrastructure,” says SKA’s website.

The array is going to be more than 50 times as powerful as the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which is currently the largest radio telescope on the planet.



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