David S. Touretzky discusses Scientology, Anonymous and Tom Cruise

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

David S. Touretzky, prominent free speech activist and critic of Scientology, discussed his opinions on the recent Internet backlash against the Church of Scientology in an interview with former Scientologist and Wikinews reporter Nicholas Turnbull. The recent conflict on the Internet between critics of Scientology and the Church has been spurred on in declarations by a nebulous Internet entity using the name Anonymous that the Church of Scientology “will be destroyed”. Anonymous has directed recent protests at Scientology centres across the world, which have attracted significant numbers of individuals supporting the cause. In recent e-mail correspondence with Wikinews, a representative of the Church of Scientology declared that the Church considers the activities of Anonymous to be illegal, and that Anonymous “will be handled and stopped”.

Touretzky, a research professor in artificial intelligence and computational neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University, has been a prominent critic of the Church of Scientology since mid-1995, and has been protesting against Scientology vociferously since then; he has also run websites that publish material that Scientology wishes to keep suppressed from the public eye, such as extracts from Scientology’s formerly-confidential Operating Thetan (OT) materials. Touretzky views the actions of the Church of Scientology as being “a threat to free speech”, and has endured harassment by the Church of Scientology for his activities.

The Church of Scientology continues to suffer damage to its public reputation through increased exposure on the Internet and vocal protests by Scientology critics such as Prof. Touretzky. A recent event that focused intense attention on Scientology’s totalitarian attitude was the leak of an internal Church of Scientology propaganda video to the Internet video sharing site YouTube, in which celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise spoke heavily in Scientology’s jargon and stated that that “we [Scientology] are the authorities” on resolving the difficulties of humanity. The declaration of war by Anonymous followed shortly after this leak, in the form of a video posted to the Internet.

The ongoing dispute, cast by some as Scientology versus the Internet, brought Scientology terms such as “SP” (Suppressive Person, an enemy of Scientology) and “KSW” (Keeping Scientology Working) into general usage by non-Scientologists from the late 1990s onwards; increased attention has been drawn to Scientology by the release of the Cruise video in addition to media coverage. This focus has caused an even greater propagation of these terms across the outside world, as Touretzky comments in the interview.

Wikinews asked Prof. Touretzky about the impact that the activities of Anonymous will have on Scientology, the public relations effect of the Tom Cruise video, the recent departure of individuals from the Church of Scientology’s executive management, the strategies that Anonymous will employ and Touretzky’s experiences of picketing the Church.

China’s ‘Bandit King’ given life term in ‘massive’ bribery case

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lai Changxing, dubbed the Bandit King, has been given a life sentence for years of smuggling and corruption that added up to billions of US dollars or Pounds sterling. The Chinese court described the values as “massive”.

Lai smuggled goods worth more than £2 billion into Xiamen, bypassing more than £1 billion in import duty. He paid 64 local officials a total of almost £4 million in bribes, giving him effective control of the city from 1995 to 1999. He fled China after becoming a wanted man in 1999 and went to Canada via Hong Kong; the following year, Premier Zhu Rongji said “If Lai was executed three times over, it would not be too much”.

As head of the Yuanhua Group, Lai smuggled in cars, chemicals, oil, cigarettes, and other goods. He distributed bundles of cash to the poor, owned and played for his local football team, built stadia, owned a bulletproof Mercedes that once belonged to President Jiang Zemin, and attempted to construct a tower that would have been the nation’s tallest building. He attained local popularity for funding construction projects including schools, hundreds of tower blocks, and the local airport.

As well as money, officials were offered alcohol and prostitutes. Many were offered time at Lai’s seven-storey brothel, the Red Mansion, and feasted at a replica of the Forbidden City.

State TV has broadcast footage depicting a banquet table with a tiger skin laid upon it, cars given to officials, a young woman alleged to have been donated as a lover, and a sackful of gold rings. The case’s prominence was such that Liu Liying, boss of the national Central Discipline Inspection Committee, took charge of bringing Lai down.

Subsequent investigations have examined more than 1,000 suspects with police at one stage turning over an entire hotel to the probe, filling rooms with suspects. National newspaper The People’s Daily has suggested it is the most serious economic crime in modern Chinese history. He was the nation’s top car importer and one of the main traders in oil and imported cigarettes.

Hundreds of officials have been convicted and it is estimated hundreds more remain. Fellow life-sentence prisoners from the case include the city’s deputy mayor and its head of customs. The nation’s former vice-minister for security, Li Jizhou, has a suspended death sentence. Other suspects have killed themselves.

The sums involved are unusually large, and the details are extraordinarily serious

Upon his escape from the nation Lai became China’s most-wanted fugitive. Twelve years of negotiations ended with a Chinese promise Lai would be spared the death penalty, and Canada extradited him last year. Numerous lower-ranking members of Lai’s empire have already been given life imprisonment or death sentences. With execution off the table, the court gave Lai the highest sentence possible: in addition to the life term, he received fifteen years for bribery and had all his possessions confiscated.

The court justified the “double sentence” on the grounds “the sums involved are unusually large, and the details are extraordinarily serious”. “The crimes involve massive sums and particularly serious circumstances,” court officials told Xinhua. Lai had denied corruption at his trial, although he accepted exploiting loopholes to avoid import duty.

“I don’t have a good family background,” Lai said previously in a press interview. “I have to do things step by step by myself. That’s how people came to respect me. I never fussed about big money.” Lai was born as one of eight siblings in the midst of famine.

Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students/OH-WY

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See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list and for an alphabetically arranged listing of schools.

Due to the damage by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding, a number of colleges and universities in the New Orleans metropolitan area will not be able to hold classes for the fall 2005 semester. It is estimated that 75,000 to 100,000 students have been displaced. [1]. In response, institutions across the United States and Canada are offering late registration for displaced students so that their academic progress is not unduly delayed. Some are offering free or reduced admission to displaced students. At some universities, especially state universities, this offer is limited to residents of the area.

Contents

  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Ohio
  • 3 Oklahoma
  • 4 Oregon
  • 5 Pennsylvania
  • 6 Rhode Island
  • 7 South Carolina
  • 8 South Dakota
  • 9 Tennessee
  • 10 Texas
  • 11 Utah
  • 12 Vermont
  • 13 Virginia
  • 14 Washington
  • 15 West Virginia
  • 16 Wisconsin
  • 17 Wyoming

Former Iranian president Rafsanjani states Iran is enriching uranium

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad confirmed on Tuesday that the country has successfully enriched uranium from 164 of their centrifuges.

“I am officially announcing that Iran has joined the group of those countries which have nuclear technology. This is the result of the Iranian nation’s resistance. Based on international regulations, we will continue our path until we achieve production of industrial-scale enrichment,” Ahmadinejad said.

“Iran has put into operation the first unit of 164 centrifuges, has injected (the uranium) gas and has reached industrial production. We operated the first unit which comprises of 164 centrifuges, gas was injected, and we got the industrial output. We should expand the work of these machines to achieve a full industrial line. We need dozens of these units (sets totaling 164 centrifuges) to achieve a uranium enrichment facility,” said Iran’s former President, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, earlier today.

Ahmadinejad had said on Monday that he would release “good nuclear news which will be a source of pride for the whole Iranian nation” today and that reports from the media are part of the United States campaign involving “psychological warfare.”

“Nothing can stop our civil nuclear program as the Iranians are a courageous nation and not afraid of intimidations. We are not after atomic bombs,” added Ahmadinejad.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran began to test 20 centrifuges in March. Iran’s current enrichment is only to reactor-grade — around 3.5% of the isotope uranium-235. Uranium-235 has a natural abundance of 0.72% and is one isotope of uranium which is easily fissionable. In order to create a nuclear bomb, a few hundred metric tons of natural uranium must be used enriched above 90% of uranium-235. Experts have said that if Iran is going to attempt to make enough uranium-235 for a nuclear bomb, they would need to install a few thousand centrifuges in series or process the gas through the same set of centrifuges over 50 times.

On Wednesday, Mohamed ElBaradei, the President of the IAEA, will visit Iran to review the progression, if any, to Iran’s nuclear program and will release a report at the end of April.

The United States said that Iran is “moving in the wrong direction” in regards to its nuclear program and that if it continues its program, it will discuss the possibility of taking steps with the United Nations.

Washington DC is said to “be talking about the way forward with the other members of the Security Council and Germany about how to address this [Iran’s nuclear program],” according to White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Amazon to buy smart doorbell startup Ring

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Friday, March 2, 2018

On Tuesday representatives from US-based online retailer Amazon.com and smart doorbell company Ring announced the startup company will be acquired by Amazon. Ring builds WiFi-connected video doorbells that allow homeowners to view and talk to people at their door from their smartphone. Ring also sells security cameras.

The deal was not officially announced to have happened, although an Amazon spokesperson told about the acquisition to US television channel CNBC (Consumer News and Business Channel).

Analysts suggested the deal could aid the Amazon Key service, which allows Amazon grocery, and other, deliveries to be dropped off inside Amazon Prime members’ homes. Use of Ring WiFi-connected cameras would complement the indoor Cloud Cam Amazon provides to members.

Previously, Ring’s CEO, Jamie Siminoff, remarked the company started when his doorbell wasn’t audible from his shop in his garage. He built a WiFi door bell, he said. Siminoff said sales boosted after his 2013 appearance in a Shark Tank episode where the show panel declined funding the startup. In late 2017, Siminoff appeared on shopping television channel QVC. Ring also settled a lawsuit with competing security company, the ADT Corporation.

Amazon’s Echo smart home speaker product had already been integrated with Ring, by taking voice commands to show the image from a Ring front door camera on an Echo Show device. Amazon had also purchased Blink, a manufacturer of internet-connected security cameras and doorbells, in late 2017.

Category:January 10, 2008

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The WB and UPN networks to become the CW network

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Warner Bros. Entertainment (a division of Time Warner, Inc.) and CBS Corporation announced today the merger of their two struggling television networks together to form one jointly owned network which will debut this fall.

The new network, which is to be called CW (for CBS-Warner) will replace UPN and The WB networks, which will shut down. The network will be a 50-50 partnership between CBS and Warner Brothers. The network will be carried on stations owned by the Tribune Company, amongst others.

The merger is in response to the struggling of both networks, neither of which have attracted much viewership away from the big four networks since they being formed in the early 90s. However each have had some strengths. The WB has been more popular with younger viewers and has had hits with television shows Smallville and Gilmore Girls. UPN has recently received critical acclaim for its sitcom Everybody Hates Chris and World Wrestling Entertainment’s Smackdown! has been a mainstay since it debuted on the network. The new network’s schedule will be announced in May; until then the networks will operate their schedules independently. The new network is planning to target the 18-34 age bracket in prime time, and will contain both shows from the WB and UPN.

With UPN’s 12 affiliated station, together with Tribune’s 16 stations gives the new network coverage over half of the country. The Tribune stations that will be apart of the new network is WGN in Chicago, WB flagship station, WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles. WPIX will become the flagship station of the new network. Tribune will relinquish its 22.5% stake in the WB in return for a 10-year affiliation agreement with the network in turn.

Dawn Ostroff, currently the president of UPN, will become president of entertainment and John Maatta, currently the chief operating officer of the WB, will become chief operating officer of the CW.

Bill Clinton leaves hospital following heart procedure

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Former US President Bill Clinton left New York Presbyterian Hospital on Friday after undergoing an hour-long operation to insert two stents into one of his coronary arteries the previous day. Clinton has had previous heart troubles. For instance, in 2004, the former president underwent quadruple bypass surgery in order to restore blood flow to four blocked arteries.

Dr. Allen Schwartz, the chief of cardiology at the hospital, publicly stated that there was “no evidence of [a] heart attack or [of] damage to [Clinton’s] heart,” and that what occurred was “not a result of either his lifestyle or diet, both of which have been excellent.”

According to a statement from a personal assistant to Clinton, he is currently convalescing at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

Those close to the family subsequently speculated that Clinton’s “punishing schedule” could possibly have caused these problems. Some of his recent work has included being a United Nations special envoy to Haiti, having previously visited the country twice since the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which struck the island nation on January 12 2010.

Clinton is now said to be in “good spirts” as having resumed much of his normal work.

Iraqi activist forced to change t-shirt with Arabic peace slogan

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi peace activist who lives in the United States, was forced to change his T-Shirt, which bore an Arabic slogan, because it was found “offensive”.

The incident took place in JFK airport in New York. The activist Jarrar reported in his blog RaedInTheMiddle that he had checked-in his bags and was issued a boarding pass. After waiting near the gate to board his jetBlue airlines flight, and after having to gone through a secondary search, two officials approached him.

“People are feeling offended because of your t-shirt,” Raed reported that one of the men said to him. The writings on the T-Shirt said in both Arabic and English: “We will not be silent”.

Raed asked why this has offended anyone, and insisted his right to freedom of expression was violated.

According to Jarrar, one of the inspectors said, “You can’t wear a T-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads ‘I am a robber’ and going to a bank”. The airport official, unable to read Arabic, was unyielding to protests by Jarrar that the English language version of the Arabic was accurate, and suggested he wear the shirt inside out.

“Many people called and complained about your t-shirt. Jetblue customers were calling before you reached the checkpoint, and customers called when you were waiting here in the boarding area”, Jarrar was told after he complained.

One employee from JetBlue offered to buy Jarrar a T-shirt to replace the one he was wearing, since the activist had none other after his bags were checked. Refusing at first, he agreed to wear one with “New York” written on it.

The officer on the scene commented that it need not have gone from one extreme to the other: wearing a T-Shirt with an Arabic peace slogan on it, to wearing one with ‘New York’. There is no reason to hate New York if you are an Arab speaking peace activist, according to Jarrar.

“I feel very sad that my personal freedom was taken away like this. I grew up under authoritarian governments in the Middle East, and one of the reasons I chose to move to the U.S. was that I don’t want an officer to make me change my t-shirt. I will pursue this incident today through a constitutional rights organization, and I am sure we will meet soon,” Raed said.

He was issued another boarding pass, with a different seat at the back of the plane.

JetBlue said it was investigating the incident but a spokeswoman said: “We’re not clear exactly what happened.” The spokeswoman also said the airline does not forbid Arabic T-shirts, but that it does take into account the concerns of its passengers.

The American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee said the US Transportation Department and the Transportation Security Administration were also investigating the incident after the committee lodged complaints on behalf of Jarrar.

“We Will Not Be Silent” is a slogan adopted by opponents of the war in Iraq and other conflicts in the Middle East.

It is said to derive from the White Rose dissident group which opposed Nazi rule in Germany.

Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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