Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s latest film makes Thailand premiere

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Following a world premiere during the Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, the latest film by Thai auteur Pen-Ek Ratanaruang made its Thailand premiere on Tuesday night in a screening for the press and celebrities.

Before the screening of the new film, Ploy, the director and his stars took the rostrum for a question-and-answer session, during which Pen-Ek pulled out a digital camera and took photos of the presenter, the press and the actors.

Ploy is a drama film, about a middle-aged Thai-American couple, portrayed by popular Thai soap opera actress Lalita Panyopas and Pornwut Sarasin, a first-time actor whose day job is working as vice president of Thai Namthip, the distributor of Coca Cola in Thailand. The couple have returned to Thailand for the first time in many years to attend the funeral of a relative.

They arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at 5 a.m. after a long-haul flight from the U.S., and check in to a hotel. The wife, Dang, just wants to sleep, but the husband, Wit, wants some cigarettes, so he goes to the hotel bar to buy some. There, he strikes up a conversation with a 19-year-old girl named Ploy (17-year-old first-time actress Apinya Sakuljaroensuk), who’s waiting at the hotel for her mother.

Wit then invites the girl to his and Dang’s room, so she can take a shower and relax. This poor judgment by Wit ignites feelings of jealousy and anger in Dang, and causes the couple to review their marriage of seven years.

Lao-Australian leading man Ananda Everingham is in a supporting role as the hotel bartender. As a counterpoint to Wit’s and Dang’s bickering, the bartender engages in an erotic tryst with a hotel maid (model-actress Porntip Papanai) in a nearby room.

The press screening was held at SF World Cinemas at CentralWorld shopping mall in Bangkok. Given the presence of Coca-Cola’s Pornwut in the cast, it was perhaps not a coincidence that cans of Coke Zero, a new soft drink that is just being introduced in Thailand, were being doled out for free.

According to early reviews at Cannes, Ploy contains a high level of nudity and eroticism, which is uncommon for a Thai film, because Thailand has no film-ratings system and instead adheres to a strict censorship code that excises nakedness and sex scenes.

Ahead of its Thailand premiere, Aphiradee Iamphungphorn, co-producer for Five Star Production, said she knew the film would have to be re-edited for Thailand, but “hopefully not more than we can bear.” To get past the censors, Pen-ek created a special Thailand edit of the film, in which the sex scenes are toned down.

Ploy is the director’s sixth feature film since he made his debut in 1997 with Fun Bar Karaoke, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival. Since then, his films are regularly featured on the festival circuit, and are submitted by Thailand’s film industry for consideration by the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.

Pen-Ek’s latest film is a return to screenwriting, after his previous two films, Last Life in the Universe and Invisible Waves, were scripted or co-scripted by Thai writer Prabda Yoon. It also marks a reunion with leading actress Lalita, who starred in his second feature, 1999’s black comedy, Ruang Talok 69, as well as Porntip, who co-starred in Pen-Ek’s 2001 musical-comedy-drama Monrak Transistor.

Ploy opens in Thailand cinemas on Thursday.

Release of ‘Verizon iPhone’ set for early February

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

In a Tuesday media event, Verizon Wireless announced it had reached an agreement with Apple Inc. and would begin selling a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 beginning early February. The move means the end of rival company AT&T’s status as the only official US carrier of the iPhone, a status it held since the first iPhone debuted in 2007.

The press conference, held in New York City, was hosted by Verizon’s president, Lowell McAdam, Apple’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, and Verizon Wireless’ chief executive officer, Dan Mead. Neither Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg nor Apple CEO Steve Jobs attended the conference. During the event, McAdam said, “If the press writes something long enough and hard enough, it eventually comes true. We’re bringing the fruit of our labor with a giant partner, and that’s Apple.” Such a partnership had been rumored for years, and the amount of speculation grew over the past few months.

iPhone 4 pre-orders for current Verizon users begin February 3, and a public release is scheduled for February 10. The “Verizon iPhone,” as it has been dubbed for months, has been altered from the original iPhone 4 so it can utilize Verizon’s 3G CDMA (code division multiple access) network. This means, however, that Verizon iPhone users will not be able to use the company’s 4G LTE (long term evolution) network, and will thus be unable to make calls and access the Internet at the same time. Cook told the audience that the LTE hardware was not ready yet, saying, “The first generation LTE chip sets force some design compromises, some of which we would not make. Secondly—and most importantly—Verizon Wireless customers have told us they want the iPhone now.” However, Verizon’s iPhone 4 allows the user to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, which means up to five other wireless devices can connect to the Internet through the phone.

Pricing was announced as US$199 for a 16 GB version and US$299 for a 32 GB version, both requiring two-year contracts—the same cost for an AT&T iPhone 4. However, Verizon said it would not mention the cost of data plans at this time, with Mead saying, “We talked about the device pricing, but we’re not going to talk about the pricing for the network for that connectivity.”

Pakistan Peoples Party names candidate for Prime Minister

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has nominated Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, former Speaker of the National Assembly, as their candidate for Pakistan’s next Prime Minister.

His nomination was announced by party spokesman Farhatullah Babar at a news conference in Islamabad. “Yousaf Raza Gilani is not afraid to lead and he knows the way,” he said, reading a statement from Asif Ali Zardari, widower of late PPP leader Benazir Bhutto and party co-chairman.

“I have great pleasure in calling upon Yousuf Raza Gilani in the name of martyr Benazir Bhutto to accept the heavy responsibility to lead the coalition government and the nation,” Babar said. The announcement was expected to be made by Bhutto’s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, but party officials said he wasn’t feeling well.

The parliament will vote for the Prime Minister on Monday. Gillani is widely expected to win the vote because of the majority coalition formed by the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League (N), the latter of which is led by former PM Nawaz Sharif. The new Prime Minister will be sworn in by President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday.

If Gillani becomes Prime Minister, analysts say he might soon be replaced by Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the PPP and Bhutto’s widower. He is currently ineligible for the position of PM, as he is not currently a member of Parliament, but he could win a seat in a matter of months by contesting a by-election. However, the party spokesman’s statement offered no indication that Gillani would serve as a temporary Prime Minister.

PPP vice chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim was long presumed to be the front-runner for the party’s nomination, but after Gillani’s name was announced, he said, “I have the best wishes for him.” Some party members had reportedly viewed Fahim as being too close to Pervez Musharraf.

Meanwhile, the Musharraf’s allies have still not picked their candidate for Prime Minister. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement decided to withdraw their candidate Farooq Sattar as “gesture of goodwill” towards the PPP. “We have decided to extend unconditional support to the PPP nominee,” said Sattar.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (Q), says the race will not be uncontested, and that his party will nominate Sattar’s replacement on Sunday. “We have decided to contest the election for prime minister and not to withdraw from the political process,” Hussain told reporters.

Former Formula 1 designer unveils new electric car

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Former Formula One McLaren designer Gordon Murray has unveiled a new all-electric car.

The car model, which is known as the T.27, is due to be developed over the course of the next 16 months with four prototypes. The process that will be used during the course of the manufacturing of the vehicle is called iStream. The technology iStream had been invented by Gordon Murray in 1999 and means that all the parts are designed using a computer.

The project has approximately received £9,000,000 (US$14,919,000) in investment. The electric car is designed for urban purposes, such as in cities or towns. The weight of the vehicle is just 600 kilograms. It has the ability to travel at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour and can go for a maximum of 100 miles between recharges.

The designer thinks that motorists will some day be travelling in vehicles like this. Murray believes that the new car will be ‘the most efficient electric vehicle on earth’.

Former Scottish Conservatives leader Annabel Goldie to stand down as MSP

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Annabel Goldie, Scottish Conservative Party leader from 2005 to 2011, has announced she will stand down as an MSP at the next elections in 2016. Goldie, who has been an MSP for the West Scotland (previously West of Scotland) electoral region since the Scottish Parliament’s formation in 1999, said she intends to focus on her role in the House of Lords, where she has been a peer since 2013.

In a statement today, Goldie said leading the party was an “enormous honour” for her. She also said: “It has afforded me both satisfaction and pleasure to serve my constituents and to serve the parliament and I will look back with great happiness at my time as an MSP. I am grateful to friends and colleagues from all parties for their support. Sometimes we found common ground, sometimes we disagreed but never I hope with rancour nor disrespect. Politics is a rough trade but we have built a strong parliament in Scotland of which we can all be rightly proud.” She said because of Ruth Davidson, her successor as Scottish Conservative leader, the party is now “in fine fettle and stands a great chance of making real progress in the years ahead,” concluding by saying: “I look forward to continuing to work as part of that effort in the House of Lords in the years to come.”

Davidson responded to the news by calling Goldie an “unstoppable force”, adding: “She has been an inspiration to a whole generation of Scottish Conservatives, and she has been a tremendous mentor, support and friend to me. In Holyrood, she has fostered both affection and respect from all members – regardless of their political affiliation – and her retirement from the Scottish Parliament will leave an Annabel-sized hole which won’t ever quite be filled. She is unique.” Meanwhile, David Cameron, UK Conservative leader and UK Prime Minister, said: “Annabel is one of those rare breeds in Scottish politics, somebody known by her first name alone. When she was Scottish Conservative leader, I valued her sage advice. She has been a towering strength to our party in Scotland, a doughty debater in the TV studios and Scottish Parliament and has one of the sharpest wits around. I wish her a long and happy retirement after 17 years unstinting service at Holyrood – but look forward to seeing her on the red benches of the Lords for years to come.”

In Holyrood, she has fostered both affection and respect from all members – regardless of their political affiliation – and her retirement from the Scottish Parliament will leave an Annabel-sized hole which won’t ever quite be filled. She is unique.

Goldie, the Scottish Conservatives’ first ever female leader, was elected unopposed. She took up the role in the aftermath of David McLetchie’s resignation from the role in an expenses usage controversy and subsequent resignation of Brian Monteith from his Conservative whip role in the Scottish Parliament for briefing the media against him. Meanwhile, as Scottish Conservatives won 18 seats in the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and 2003, the party had been less successful in UK general elections in Scotland; Conservatives went up from zero out of a possible 72 UK MPs in Scotland in 1997 to one in 2001. This led to Goldie remarking in her inaugural speech in 2005 that: “The wheels are back on the wagon – and I’m the nag hitched up to tow it.” She also said: “The party is still way ahead of where it was in 1997. And my first task is to take it forward to 2007.” However, under Goldie’s leadership, the number of seats the Scottish Conservatives won in the Scottish Parliament slightly decreased from 18 in 2003 to 17 in 2007 and to 15 in 2011. At the same time, the number of Conservative MPs stood at one out of a possible 59 after the 2010 UK general election.

In the aforementioned 2005 speech, she also said the party could be trusted with devolution in Scotland, adding: “making devolution work better means real devolution: not the lumbering and cripplingly expensive array of government departments, government advisers, consultants, quangos, quasi-quangos and agencies with all their expensive appendages, but devolving down to people and their communities, their right to make their own decisions about their lives, how for example they procure healthcare and how they educate their children.” Goldie would go on to sit on the advisory board for the Smith Commission, which was set up to examine which further political powers should be devolved to Scotland following the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. More recently, Goldie supported a reduction in the voting age for Scottish Parliament elections from 18 to 16 in a vote earlier this month, commenting: “I think it is an opportunity for them to continue their high level of engagement in topical affairs that we saw with the independence referendum.”

Goldie, a member of the Salvation Army’s West of Scotland Advisory Board and a Church of Scotland elder, is not the only Scottish Conservative MSP intending to stand down in 2016. Mary Scanlon, Gavin Brown, Alex Fergusson and Nanette Milne all reportedly intend to leave the Scottish Parliament next year.

Genetically altered mice are “superathletes”

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Researchers at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio have announced the creation of transgenic mice with substantially improved athletic endurance, which live and breed longer and are more aggressive than genetically unmodified siblings, and are leaner despite consuming 60% more food. The mice have been dubbed “mighty mice” or “supermice” by the popular press and have been compared to cyclist Lance Armstrong.

The changes were created by adding an extra copy of a single gene, PEPCK-C. This gene is already present in the mouse genome, but the modified gene is designed to be strongly active (transcribed) in skeletal muscle. (The natural copy of the gene, most active in the liver, continues to function normally). The gene mediates a crucial rate controlling step of gluconeogenesis and glyceroneogenesis, and its activity helps to allow energy production by the mitochondrial citric acid cycle. In the transgenics, more energy is available to muscle through the burning of fatty acids, with much less production of lactate (a chemical that leads to sore muscles when one exercises). This is not as major a change to the mouse genome as it might seem to the layperson. The PEPCK-C gene is already present in the mouse and a variety of natural mutations could likely cause similar results. The study appears today in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in a paper with lead author Parvin Hakimi from the laboratory of Richard W. Hanson.

The altered mice can run at 20 meters per minute (0.75 miles per hour or 1.2 kilometers per hour) for up to six kilometers (nearly four miles) without stopping. The average treadmill time for strenuous exercise on a 25-degree incline is 31.9 minutes, well in excess of the 19 minute average of unmodified mice. Females can breed at two and a half years of age, whereas most female mice cannot breed after the first year.

A colony of 500 mice has been bred, starting from six independent germline transformations (“founder” mice). The level of PEPCK-C in muscle is 9 units per gram of muscle as opposed to only 0.08 in normal mice. Levels of triglycerides and the number of mitochondria are also increased.

Hanson said that he did not expect that the results would be applicable to humans due to both practical and ethical considerations in addition to the fact that the genes might not function the same way in humans.

This is not the first time that the press has dubbed a genetically modified mouse a “mighty mouse”. Earlier scientists at John Hopkins University announced that they had made mice with massively increased muscle mass that were larger and stronger than their normal cousins. These alterations increased strength rather than endurance through the genetic modification of myostatin and follistatin, or by injection of a soluble form of ACVR2B to block myostatin activity in normal mice.

Interesting Ideas About Waterproofing A Concrete Basement In Newton, Ma

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byAlma Abell

One of the most versatile areas of a home is the basement. The basement is a part of the house that is often converted ito some other use. One of these uses might be as a recreation room. Another use might be a workshop. Some even turn the basement into a spare room. Whatever the use is for, it certainly would not help if the basement started leaking or having moisture problems. There is a restoration service that is used for Waterproofing a Concrete Basement in Newton MA. These are some interesting ideas customers may want to know about the service.

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It is best if a homeowner can be proactive and have the basement waterproofed before there are issues. However, that isn’t always the case. One of the reasons for getting waterproofing is to get rid of any moisture that may be found in the basement. Such moisture can lead to mold and mildew, which are detrimental to the health of those exposed. Issues that might be caused by the mold include, but are not limited to, respiratory issues, skin irritations, and neurological problems.

Another obvious reason for ensuring that the basement is waterproofed is to prevent damage to furniture, tools and other items of value that may be in the basement. It would be very costly, as well as time-consuming, to have everything destroyed in the basement. Also, a basement that has leaking water issues or moisture problems may lead to foundation issues, as well. There may also be problems with the presence of insects that are drawn to water and moisture, such as water bugs.

Fitzgerald Restoration Inc has been providing restoration solutions for customers in the Newton, Massachusetts area for more than 22 years. The contractor offers general construction, such as remodeling and renovation. Other services offered are building restoration, masonry work, and waterproofing. For waterproofing services, customers have the options of caulking and sealants, clear water repellents, painting and coating, expansion joints, waterproof coating, power washing, and below grade waterproofing. If any customers are interested in a restoration service for Waterproofing a Concrete Basement in Newton MA, they can contact the contractor today.

Wikinews’ overview of the year 2008

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Also try the 2008 World News Quiz of the year.

What would you tell your grandchildren about 2008 if they asked you about it in, let’s say, 20 years’ time? If the answer to a quiz question was 2008, what would the question be? The year that markets collapsed, or perhaps the year that Obama became US president? Or the year Heath Ledger died?

Let’s take a look at some of the important stories of 2008. Links to the original Wikinews articles are in all the titles.

NASA sets launch date for Space Shuttle Discovery

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

After almost two months of delay, NASA has set March 11 as the launch date for Space Shuttle Discovery. On February 22, NASA had stated that they indefinitely delayed the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, which was originally scheduled for takeoff on February 12. Launch was then further delayed until February 25 before being delayed indefinitely on February 22. NASA cited the need for additional time to evaluate the shuttle’s hydrogen fuel flow control valves.

Liftoff is set for nighttime on Wednesday, March 11, at approximately 9:20 p.m. (EST) from Launch Complex 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The official countdown to launch will commence Sunday, March 8.

“The team came through, worked hard and was efficient. It’s time now to step back and think of everything else we need to watch before launch on the 11th. There’s no better team than this one and I thank them for putting the right analysis together,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA.

NASA wanted to perform additional tests on the valves which control the amount of hydrogen fuel pumped into the external tank when the shuttle is taking off before making a decision to launch. When Space Shuttle Endeavour went into space in November 2008, one of the valves broke. NASA fears that if one breaks off on this mission, then it could damage the outside of the shuttle.

The current scheduled mission, STS-119, is set to fly the Integrated Truss Structure segment (“S” for starboard, the right side of the station, and “6” for its place at the very end of the starboard truss) and install the final set of power-generating solar arrays to the International Space Station. The arrays consist of two 115-foot-long arrays, for a total wing span of 240 feet, including the equipment that connects the two halves and allows them to twist as they track the sun. Altogether, the four sets of arrays can generate 84 to 120 kilowatts of electricity – enough to provide power for more than 40 average homes.

Commander Lee Archambault will lead Discovery’s crew of seven, along with Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.

British ISPs restrict access to Wikipedia amid child pornography allegations

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wikinews has learned at least six of the United Kingdom’s main Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have implemented monitoring and filtering mechanisms that are causing major problems for UK contributors on websites operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, in addition to 1,200 other websites. The filters appear to be applied because Wikimedia sites are hosting a Scorpions album cover which some call child pornography. Scorpions are a German hard rock band who have used several controversial album covers and are perhaps best known for the song Rock You Like a Hurricane.

The measures applied redirect traffic for a significant portion of the UK’s Internet population through six servers which can log and filter the content available to the end user. A serious side-effect of this is the inability of administrators on Wikimedia sites to block vandals, and other troublemakers, without potentially impacting hundreds of thousands of innocent UK contributors who work on WMF sites in good faith.

The filtering is in response to the Internet Watch Foundation‘s list of websites that host content reported to contain inappropriate images of naked children. The IWF considers those images child pornography. However, in the United States, where the websites of the Wikimedia Foundation are hosted, it is not considered obscene under the criteria of the Miller test, which requires that an obscene work lack “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value” – as album art is used to “brand” the album, it is considered to be artistic.

Contributors or individuals attempting to view an affected image or file, depending on their ISP, may get a warning saying, “we have blocked this page because, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), it contains indecent images of children or pointers to them; you could be breaking UK law if you viewed the page.” Other ISPs provide blank pages, 404 errors, or other means of blocking the content. Due to a configuration mistake at one Internet service provider, some users have reported being totally unable to access Wikimedia sites to the Wikipedia technical help desk.

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“The Protection of Children Act 1978 as amended in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, makes it an offence to take, make, permit to be taken, distribute, show, possess with intent to distribute, and advertise indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children under the age of eighteen. The ‘making’ of such images includes downloading, that is, making a copy of a child sexual abuse image on a computer, so, in the UK, accessing such content online is a serious criminal offence,” says the IWF on their website in an article updated on November 28. The IWF say there are at least 800 to 1,200 websites on the list of those who host or contain offensive material. The list is not public and the IWF never notified Wikimedia Foundation about the blocking of Wikipedia content. The affected page does not display any message informing the user about blocked content on most ISPs, instead, a technical error message is shown.

However, Demon Internet redirects users to a block message on the IWF’s site explaining that the page was blocked as the organization suspects child porn or links to it to be present. The IWF states that, “we do not notify site owners that their websites are on our list.”

The concern for Wikimedia is for some images like an album cover from a 1976 record of the Scorpions titled Virgin Killer. It displays an underage girl, posing nude, with a lens crack crossing over her genitals, but nothing blocking out her breasts. The girl appears to be around ten years old. In the U.S., the band later replaced the image with one of the group. The cover was uploaded to Wikipedia in 2006, but Wikinews learned that on May 9, 2008 at (21:17 UTC), despite a result of strong consensus to ‘keep’ in a deletion request, the image was deleted, however for a different reason. It was deleted due to a claim by an administrator that it violated Wikipedia’s policy for dealing with copyrighted images, which require that any images used under the doctrine of fair use must alongside other criteria, “significantly increase readers’ understanding of the topic, and its omission would be detrimental to that understanding”, with the administrator claiming that the article “lacked meaningful discussion” of the album art. This result was overturned using the deletion review process. Earlier, on December 6, the image was put back up for a deletion request, but it was later closed as Wikimedia “does not censor”.

Another image that is questionable could be a screenshot from the 1938 film Child Bride. Its goal was to bring to light the attempts at banning child marriages. In the article on Wikipedia, a screenshot appears of then 12-year-old Shirley Mills partially naked after skinny dipping. In the photo, at least one of her breasts can be seen.

Other albums featuring nudity below the age of sixteen have previously caused controversy; Blind Faith attracted criticism as did Houses of the Holy, and Nirvana’s Nevermind.

Multiple companies have gone public stating that they implement the recommendations of the Internet Watch Foundation. Not all of these are known to have implemented measures against Wikimedia sites; the major UK ISPs thought to have affected Wikimedia sites are Telefonica O2/Be Unlimited, Virgin Media, Easynet, Plusnet, Demon, and Opal Telecommunications (TalkTalk).

Wikinews has contacted Wikimedia’s legal counsel, Mike Godwin and the IWF for a statement, but neither have replied as of this time.

 This story has updates See Wikimedia, IWF respond to block of Wikipedia over child pornography allegations