New Zealand PM drops in on Microsoft


Monday, April 2, 2007

Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand visited Microsoft‘s corporate headquarters in Seattle last week. She was welcomed by CEO Steve Ballmer, senior vice-president and CFO Chris Liddell, a New Zealander, and Microsoft New Zealand managing director Helen Robinson.

During the visit, they looked at ways technology could help the continuing growth of New Zealand’s economic development. Ms Clark also examined Microsoft’s newest productivity software, mainly including offerings in the areas of video conferencing and online collaboration tools. “There is no comparison” between Microsoft’s technology and that of the Beehive, Clark said after the meeting.

This disparity she blamed “unquestionably” on the state of New Zealand broadband Internet access, which still uses the outdated copper ‘local loop’ system. She also referred to the importance of fibre optic networks, which “some are now calling the ‘fourth utility’.”

Mr Liddell responded that despite New Zealand being behind in some areas, “…the rate of change is such that that is not really such a big issue. …I don’t see New Zealand at a disadvantage and one of the great things about New Zealand is we are early adopters of technology. Attitude is as important as current status.”

“We have got what is radical telecommunications legislation reform, but you can’t stand still and think that will do the trick either. We have got a lot of technological challenges but I think the will to address them,” Ms Clark said.

Unlike other guests, Ms Clark was not given a copy of the new Windows Vista during her visit. Instead, she was given a glass plate and a paperweight.

The visit to Microsoft follows her meeting with United States President Bush.

Arkansas Democratic party chairman assassinated by gunman


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bill Gwatney, chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, died this afternoon at 3:59 pm CDT (UTC-5) after having been shot earlier this morning.

“He [the gunman] came in and went into this office and started shooting,” said police Lt. Terry Hastings, speaking to reporters outside the party headquarters.

The suspect is Tim Johnson, a white male, described by Gwatney’s secretary as wearing “khaki pants, white shirt, silver-gray hair, late 40s.” He reportedly walked into the party headquarters facilities in Little Rock, Arkansas, conversed with the Chairman’s secretary, refused her offer of bumper stickers, and then walked past her saying he had to see the Chairman.

After the shooting, Johnson got into his blue Chevrolet pickup truck and led police on a 25-mile chase. The end result was the shooting of the suspect, who was airlifted to a hospital and eventually died of his wounds.

According to The New York Times, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton issued a joint statement saying, “We are stunned and shaken by today’s shooting at the Arkansas Democratic Party where our good friend and fellow Democrat Bill Gwatney was critically wounded … Bill is not only a strong chairman of Arkansas’ Democratic Party, but he is also a cherished friend and confidante.”

Gwatney was also a car dealership owner and former state senator.

Canada’s St. Paul’s West (Ward 21) city council candidates speak


Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is St. Paul’s West (Ward 21). One candidate responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include John Adams, Tony Corpuz, Joe Mihevc (incumbent), and John Sewell.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

Get Really Cheap Car Insurance In Miami Florida


By Elizabeth Newberry

Cheap Miami car insurance would be ideal, wouldn’t it? Of course it would You’d love to drive around a hot town, with your convertible top down and the wind blowing through your hair, all with the knowledge that you, and your vehicle, are fully protected – without giving up a huge chunk of your paycheck each month for car insurance premiums.

Luckily, it is possible to find affordable car insurance in Miami. In Florida, there are certain factors that determine your Miami car insurance premium. If you make those factors work for you, you’ll be well on your way to cheap Miami car insurance. (Of course, some factors such as gender, simply shouldn’t be changed just to obtain affordable car insurance in Miami!)

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Your vehicle. The kind of car you drive in Florida helps determine whether or not you’ll get cheap Miami car insurance. This includes the year, make, and model. Obviously a modest, four-door car with plenty of safety features is going to get a cheaper car insurance rate than a flashy, two-door hot rod. You might have to give up that convertible, after all.

Your location. Do you live in a Miami area that’s considered safe? Or do you reside in an area that’s considered high-risk? Where you drive your vehicle, as well as where you store it when you’re not driving it, goes into determining your chances at getting cheap Miami car insurance. If your area isn’t so safe, consider parking it in a garage, private parking lot, or anywhere else out of sight and off the streets.

Your mileage. Or your car’s mileage, rather. If you drive a high number of miles each year, you’re more likely to get a higher Miami car insurance quote than if you drive a low number of miles. Your Florida car insurance company will take into consideration the number of miles you drive for enjoyment, to commute, and for business and commercial purposes.

About the Author: The sites that I recommend

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KKE: Interview with the Greek Communist Party


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wikinews reporter Iain Macdonald has performed an interview with Dr Isabella Margara, a London-based member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). In the interview Margara sets out the communist response to current events in Greece as well as discussing the viability of a communist economy for the nation. She also hit back at Petros Tzomakas, a member of another Greek far-left party which criticised KKE in a previous interview.

The interview comes amid tensions in cash-strapped Greece, where the government is introducing controversial austerity measures to try to ease the nation’s debt-problem. An international rescue package has been prepared by European Union member states and the International Monetary Fund – should Greece require a bailout; protests have been held against government attempts to manage the economic situation.

G20 protests: Inside a labour march


Wikinews accredited reporter Killing Vector traveled to the G-20 2009 summit protests in London with a group of protesters. This is his personal account.

Friday, April 3, 2009

London – “Protest”, says Ross Saunders, “is basically theatre”.

It’s seven a.m. and I’m on a mini-bus heading east on the M4 motorway from Cardiff toward London. I’m riding with seventeen members of the Cardiff Socialist Party, of which Saunders is branch secretary for the Cardiff West branch; they’re going to participate in a march that’s part of the protests against the G-20 meeting.

Before we boarded the minibus Saunders made a speech outlining the reasons for the march. He said they were “fighting for jobs for young people, fighting for free education, fighting for our share of the wealth, which we create.” His anger is directed at the government’s response to the economic downturn: “Now that the recession is underway, they’ve been trying to shoulder more of the burden onto the people, and onto the young people…they’re expecting us to pay for it.” He compared the protest to the Jarrow March and to the miners’ strikes which were hugely influential in the history of the British labour movement. The people assembled, though, aren’t miners or industrial workers — they’re university students or recent graduates, and the march they’re going to participate in is the Youth Fight For Jobs.

The Socialist Party was formerly part of the Labour Party, which has ruled the United Kingdom since 1997 and remains a member of the Socialist International. On the bus, Saunders and some of his cohorts — they occasionally, especially the older members, address each other as “comrade” — explains their view on how the split with Labour came about. As the Third Way became the dominant voice in the Labour Party, culminating with the replacement of Neil Kinnock with Tony Blair as party leader, the Socialist cadre became increasingly disaffected. “There used to be democratic structures, political meetings” within the party, they say. The branch meetings still exist but “now, they passed a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways, and they [the party leadership] just ignored it.” They claim that the disaffection with New Labour has caused the party to lose “half its membership” and that people are seeking alternatives. Since the economic crisis began, Cardiff West’s membership has doubled, to 25 members, and the RMT has organized itself as a political movement running candidates in the 2009 EU Parliament election. The right-wing British National Party or BNP is making gains as well, though.

Talk on the bus is mostly political and the news of yesterday’s violence at the G-20 demonstrations, where a bank was stormed by protesters and 87 were arrested, is thick in the air. One member comments on the invasion of a RBS building in which phone lines were cut and furniture was destroyed: “It’s not very constructive but it does make you smile.” Another, reading about developments at the conference which have set France and Germany opposing the UK and the United States, says sardonically, “we’re going to stop all the squabbles — they’re going to unite against us. That’s what happens.” She recounts how, in her native Sweden during the Second World War, a national unity government was formed among all major parties, and Swedish communists were interned in camps, while Nazi-leaning parties were left unmolested.

In London around 11am the march assembles on Camberwell Green. About 250 people are here, from many parts of Britain; I meet marchers from Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, and especially organized-labor stronghold Sheffield. The sky is grey but the atmosphere is convivial; five members of London’s Metropolitan Police are present, and they’re all smiling. Most marchers are young, some as young as high school age, but a few are older; some teachers, including members of the Lewisham and Sheffield chapters of the National Union of Teachers, are carrying banners in support of their students.

Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!’

Stewards hand out sheets of paper with the words to call-and-response chants on them. Some are youth-oriented and education-oriented, like the jaunty “Gordon Brown‘s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!'” (sung to the tune of the Lonnie Donegan song “My Old Man’s a Dustman“); but many are standbys of organized labour, including the infamous “workers of the world, unite!“. It also outlines the goals of the protest, as “demands”: “The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 and hour. No to cheap labour apprenticeships! for all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end. No to university fees. support the campaign to defeat fees.” Another steward with a megaphone and a bright red t-shirt talks the assembled protesters through the basics of call-and-response chanting.

Finally the march gets underway, traveling through the London boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. Along the route of the march more police follow along, escorting and guiding the march and watching it carefully, while a police van with flashing lights clears the route in front of it. On the surface the atmosphere is enthusiastic, but everyone freezes for a second as a siren is heard behind them; it turns out to be a passing ambulance.

Crossing Southwark Bridge, the march enters the City of London, the comparably small but dense area containing London’s financial and economic heart. Although one recipient of the protesters’ anger is the Bank of England, the march does not stop in the City, only passing through the streets by the London Exchange. Tourists on buses and businessmen in pinstripe suits record snippets of the march on their mobile phones as it passes them; as it goes past a branch of HSBC the employees gather at the glass store front and watch nervously. The time in the City is brief; rather than continue into the very centre of London the march turns east and, passing the Tower of London, proceeds into the poor, largely immigrant neighbourhoods of the Tower Hamlets.

The sun has come out, and the spirits of the protesters have remained high. But few people, only occasional faces at windows in the blocks of apartments, are here to see the march and it is in Wapping High Street that I hear my first complaint from the marchers. Peter, a steward, complains that the police have taken the march off its original route and onto back streets where “there’s nobody to protest to”. I ask how he feels about the possibility of violence, noting the incidents the day before, and he replies that it was “justified aggression”. “We don’t condone it but people have only got certain limitations.”

There’s nobody to protest to!

A policeman I ask is very polite but noncommittal about the change in route. “The students are getting the message out”, he says, so there’s no problem. “Everyone’s very well behaved” in his assessment and the atmosphere is “very positive”. Another protestor, a sign-carrying university student from Sheffield, half-heartedly returns the compliment: today, she says, “the police have been surprisingly unridiculous.”

The march pauses just before it enters Cable Street. Here, in 1936, was the site of the Battle of Cable Street, and the march leader, addressing the protesters through her megaphone, marks the moment. She draws a parallel between the British Union of Fascists of the 1930s and the much smaller BNP today, and as the protesters follow the East London street their chant becomes “The BNP tell racist lies/We fight back and organise!”

In Victoria Park — “The People’s Park” as it was sometimes known — the march stops for lunch. The trade unions of East London have organized and paid for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and tea, and, picnic-style, the marchers enjoy their meals as organized labor veterans give brief speeches about industrial actions from a small raised platform.

A demonstration is always a means to and end.

During the rally I have the opportunity to speak with Neil Cafferky, a Galway-born Londoner and the London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march. I ask him first about why, despite being surrounded by red banners and quotes from Karl Marx, I haven’t once heard the word “communism” used all day. He explains that, while he considers himself a Marxist and a Trotskyist, the word communism has negative connotations that would “act as a barrier” to getting people involved: the Socialist Party wants to avoid the discussion of its position on the USSR and disassociate itself from Stalinism. What the Socialists favor, he says, is “democratic planned production” with “the working class, the youths brought into the heart of decision making.”

On the subject of the police’s re-routing of the march, he says the new route is actually the synthesis of two proposals. Originally the march was to have gone from Camberwell Green to the Houses of Parliament, then across the sites of the 2012 Olympics and finally to the ExCel Centre. The police, meanwhile, wanted there to be no march at all.

The Metropolitan Police had argued that, with only 650 trained traffic officers on the force and most of those providing security at the ExCel Centre itself, there simply wasn’t the manpower available to close main streets, so a route along back streets was necessary if the march was to go ahead at all. Cafferky is sceptical of the police explanation. “It’s all very well having concern for health and safety,” he responds. “Our concern is using planning to block protest.”

He accuses the police and the government of having used legal, bureaucratic and even violent means to block protests. Talking about marches having to defend themselves, he says “if the police set out with the intention of assaulting marches then violence is unavoidable.” He says the police have been known to insert “provocateurs” into marches, which have to be isolated. He also asserts the right of marches to defend themselves when attacked, although this “must be done in a disciplined manner”.

He says he wasn’t present at yesterday’s demonstrations and so can’t comment on the accusations of violence against police. But, he says, there is often provocative behavior on both sides. Rather than reject violence outright, Cafferky argues that there needs to be “clear political understanding of the role of violence” and calls it “counter-productive”.

Demonstration overall, though, he says, is always a useful tool, although “a demonstration is always a means to an end” rather than an end in itself. He mentions other ongoing industrial actions such as the occupation of the Visteon plant in Enfield; 200 fired workers at the factory have been occupying the plant since April 1, and states the solidarity between the youth marchers and the industrial workers.

I also speak briefly with members of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small group of left-wing activists who have brought some signs to the rally. The Bolsheviks say that, like the Socialists, they’re Trotskyists, but have differences with them on the idea of organization; the International Bolshevik Tendency believes that control of the party representing the working class should be less democratic and instead be in the hands of a team of experts in history and politics. Relations between the two groups are “chilly”, says one.

At 2:30 the march resumes. Rather than proceeding to the ExCel Centre itself, though, it makes its way to a station of London’s Docklands Light Railway; on the way, several of East London’s school-aged youths join the march, and on reaching Canning Town the group is some 300 strong. Proceeding on foot through the borough, the Youth Fight For Jobs reaches the protest site outside the G-20 meeting.

It’s impossible to legally get too close to the conference itself. Police are guarding every approach, and have formed a double cordon between the protest area and the route that motorcades take into and out of the conference venue. Most are un-armed, in the tradition of London police; only a few even carry truncheons. Closer to the building, though, a few machine gun-armed riot police are present, standing out sharply in their black uniforms against the high-visibility yellow vests of the Metropolitan Police. The G-20 conference itself, which started a few hours before the march began, is already winding down, and about a thousand protesters are present.

I see three large groups: the Youth Fight For Jobs avoids going into the center of the protest area, instead staying in their own group at the admonition of the stewards and listening to a series of guest speakers who tell them about current industrial actions and the organization of the Youth Fight’s upcoming rally at UCL. A second group carries the Ogaden National Liberation Front‘s flag and is campaigning for recognition of an autonomous homeland in eastern Ethiopia. Others protesting the Ethiopian government make up the third group; waving old Ethiopian flags, including the Lion of Judah standard of emperor Haile Selassie, they demand that foreign aid to Ethiopia be tied to democratization in that country: “No recovery without democracy”.

A set of abandoned signs tied to bollards indicate that the CND has been here, but has already gone home; they were demanding the abandonment of nuclear weapons. But apart from a handful of individuals with handmade, cardboard signs I see no groups addressing the G-20 meeting itself, other than the Youth Fight For Jobs’ slogans concerning the bailout. But when a motorcade passes, catcalls and jeers are heard.

It’s now 5pm and, after four hours of driving, five hours marching and one hour at the G-20, Cardiff’s Socialists are returning home. I board the bus with them and, navigating slowly through the snarled London traffic, we listen to BBC Radio 4. The news is reporting on the closure of the G-20 conference; while they take time out to mention that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed the traditional group photograph of the G-20’s world leaders because “he was on the loo“, no mention is made of today’s protests. Those listening in the bus are disappointed by the lack of coverage.

Most people on the return trip are tired. Many sleep. Others read the latest issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Party’s newspaper. Mia quietly sings “The Internationale” in Swedish.

Due to the traffic, the journey back to Cardiff will be even longer than the journey to London. Over the objections of a few of its members, the South Welsh participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs stop at a McDonald’s before returning to the M4 and home.

CPSC, ATF warn of dangers of fireworks over US Independence Day celebrations


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Last week, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) held a press conference on the National Mall in Washington, DC, warning consumers of the dangers of fireworks, and advising them of safe handling. They were joined by representatives from the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF); Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and other national safety agencies. Fireworks are often used to celebrate the United States’ July 4, 1776 independence from Great Britain. The Fourth of July is a time when many US families get together to celebrate, by holding reunions, picnics, barbecues, baseball games and firework displays; however, celebrations often turn sour due to injury or even death, caused by the mishandling of fireworks. In 2009, nearly 19,000 fireworks-related injuries were treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices and clinics all over the country. Around 9,000 of those were to children aged under 18, and 6,000 occurred during the 30 days surrounding Independence Day.

CPSC chairman, Inez Tenenbaum, said that burns and cuts to limbs, the face and head were the most common injuries, and over half of them were due to firecrackers, rockets and sparklers. The agencies were joined at the news conference by Jason Henderson, who was injured in 2007 after building home-made fireworks. He had found instructions online detailing how to build M-80-style fireworks, and after purchasing the chemicals, began assembling them; however, the mixture exploded which resulted in him losing both hands and his right eye, and shrapnel caused multiple lacerations and puncture wounds to his entire body. “Don’t be the show, go and enjoy the show. I want to get people to move away from putting on their own displays and just go and enjoy the free shows. I mean they are free,” Henderson said. “You might as well take advantage of them while they are there. You can spend time with your family instead of being the one to light them and taking that risk.” Henderson also appears in a public-service announcement recently released by the ATF to YouTube, that shows how he has now been fitted with bionic arms.

Agencies recommend attending community fireworks shows held by city or county officials, which are held in a more controlled and professional environment. Additionally, many jurisdictions outlaw either all fireworks, or certain types, such as rockets and firecrackers.

Fireworks increase demands on fire departments and personnel at this time of year, acting U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines noted. “Four firefighters [have been killed] as a result of illegal fireworks. Calls to EMS [Emergency Medical Services] and fire departments increased as individuals continue to be injured and burned.” The dry weather and heat that many areas are experiencing also elevate the risk of brush and structure fires. The National Fire Protection Association said that over 22,500 fires started from fireworks in 2008.

Consumers who do purchase fireworks are encouraged to follow the following common sense rules: always read and follow directions; always supervise older children and teenagers if they are permitted to use fireworks; never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, child-friendly sparklers and “party-poppers” are a fun and safe alternative for them; keep animals inside or well away from the fireworks, the noise will often scare them; never light any fireworks inside buildings; light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from houses, dry leaves, and flammable materials; never ignite fireworks in metal or glass containers; light one firework at a time; move away to a safe distance immediately after lighting a firework; never return to a firework that has not ignited properly; never throw fireworks at another person, animal, or property; do not consume alcohol when using fireworks; keep a bucket of water or a hose in close proximity in case of fire, dispose of use fireworks in the bucket of water; buy from reliable dealers; only use legal fireworks; and follow the laws of your jurisdiction.

William Salice, creator of Kinder Surprise eggs, dies at 83


Sunday, January 1, 2017

On Thursday, William Salice, credited with creating Kinder Surprise eggs, died at age 83 in Pavia, Italy because of a stroke, according to his foundation “Color Your Life Campus”. Salice had worked with the businessman Michele Ferrero in the 1960s, the creator of the Nutella cream and owner of Ferrero Rocher. Ferrero died in 2015.

In 1974, Kinder Surprise was launched with plastic toys, which are sold within the eggs to surprise children. Due to this, the sale of Kinder eggs is prohibited in the US. A 1938 US law prohibits the sale of food containing objects in its interior. It is also prohibited in Chile, due to an obesity-reduction law brought in last year. Last year a three-year-old girl died in France, swallowing the plastic toy.

In 2007, after his retirement, Salice founded Color Your Life Campus from his retirement bonus of €400,000 in Italy. It aims to help young people between the ages of thirteen and eighteen discover and develop their own talents. Salice’s career spanned 46 years.

Since 2013, the Kinder Surprise Company has been taking care of continuing the manufacture and processing of chocolate eggs. According to the company, the chocolate egg has 32% milk and 15% cocoa in its composition.

Romanian Commercial Bank to launch smart cards in early April


Tuesday, March 22, 2005Starting from April 4, the Romanian Commercial Bank (Banca Comercial? Român?, or BCR), the country’s largest bank, will launch a smart card system for all its ATM network as well as its point-of-sale terminals in more than 5,000 stores across Romania. While the system will be enabled to work with these cards from April, the smart cards themselves will only be issued to account holders in the second half of the year.

Smart cards in a banking context are cards which contain information on a chip and can permit greater security and control of transactions. BCR is the first Romanian bank to use this technology.

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.