News briefs:July 14, 2010

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Train cars derail into the Thompson River, British Colombia, chemicals spilled

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chemicals in the Thompson River were said to be found after four Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) cars containing chemicals derailed near Lytton, British Columbia, Canada on Tuesday night.

The derailment occurred just northeast of Lytton when a landslide hit in the middle of a freight train with about 100 cars at around 7:00 pm PDT (02:00 UTC) Tuesday evening. One car remained on the tracks, another was on a river bank, and two were submerged in the Thompson, one of them fully submerged and the other partially submerged. CP states that the cars were carrying the chemical ethylene glycol, commonly found in products such as antifreeze and windshield washer fluid. Glycol is water soluble and biodegradable but is causing concern to local fisheries and people dependent on aquatic life survival. Even though there is not enough chemical to be toxic after dilution in the water, there is still expressed concern that it may cause additional stress to aquatic life.

Despite protective measures, like a protective double hull, investigations found that broken valves and holes are causing the chemical to leak into the river. CP Rail originally denied that any chemical was leaking, but is now driving efforts to plug the leaks.

The Thompson River is a tributary of the larger Fraser River. The area is sensitive to harm because migrating salmon pass through and are in already in dwindling numbers in recent years.

News briefs:June 9, 2010

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Suicide bomber kills five Afghan children

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Five children were killed by a suicide car bomb in the Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan on Monday.

Officials say the suicide bomber was trying to attack the governor of the Dand district, Ahmadullah Nazak. Nazak was unharmed.

“I dropped down. Then I heard a second explosion. It hit our car, but it didn’t injure me,” Nazak later recalled.

There have not been any claims of responsibility for this bombing. Assassinations and attempts have become more common this year in Kandahar, and between January and April, at least 27 government officials or foreign contractors have been killed.

In other areas of Afghanistan there have been similar incidents. A blast in Nangarhar province hit the car of a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai. Six people, including Wahidullah Sabawoon, the adviser, were injured in the blast. Sabawoon’s injuries were “not critical”, according to spokesperson Ahmad Zia Abdulzai.

ANZACs remembered ninety years after assault on Gallipoli

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Australians and New Zealanders throughout the world stood still for their national war memorial days in remembrance of the failed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps — ANZAC — attack on Gallipoli, Turkey that began on 25 April 1915. The fateful attack was designed to end the First World War more quickly by creating a supply line to Russia. A hundred-thousand died in the battle, remembered every year as ANZAC Day by both nations.

The British-directed battle of Gallipoli is often seen as the defining moment in the ‘birth’ of Australia and New Zealand. With New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark saying “For New Zealand as for Australia it was at Gallipoli that our young nations came of age.” [1]. This being the 90th anniversary of the attack, Clark, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Britain’s Prince Charles are all at Gallipoli to remember that fateful campaign.

Some controversy has been created about Australian Prime Minister John Howard not attending the New Zealand ceremony at Chunuk Bair on the Gallipoli Peninsula. This has upset many people as it is a break in a tradition that the Prime Ministers attend the ceremonies of both countries.

Ethiopia plans to expand country’s Internet access

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Thursday, April 7, 2005

At an information technology conference in Addis Ababa, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia vowed to offer universal Internet connectivity in the country within three years. The government is working with a United States technology company Cisco Systems to fulfill this promise.

The government will invest US$40 million in the venture, which will lay nearly 10,000 km of fibre optic cable. Ethiopia currently ranks low in Internet penetration, with just 30,000 connections available for its 71 million inhabitants. Part of the program is the installation of Internet access at 450 secondary schools throughout the country.

Zenawi explained the change of heart that led to the decision to invest in this infrastructure project. “Not long ago many of us felt that we were too poor to seriously invest in information and communication technology,” he said at the conference. “We were convinced that we should invest every penny we have on securing the next meal for our people. We did not believe serious investment in ICT had anything to do with facing the challenges of poverty that kills. Now I think we know better,” he explained to the delegates.

Not everyone thinks that the government knows better. Giovani Peri, Assistant Professor of Economics at University of California, Davis, specializes in macroeconomics and growth theory. Peri believes that the Ethiopian government may be misguided in its direct investment in the build-up of information technology, and should instead create incentives for the private sector to build such infrastructure.

Professor Peri likened the Internet access project to previous failed attempts by African governments to stimulate growth via large-scale projects. “[African governments] in the past tried to build airports … in the middle of desolation.” — but people need to know that the environment is right for business, he said, not just a good airport. He said that the investment in Internet access might be too early for that country, and that before it is built, the country needs a good educational system to get the scientific community involved in the process of building technology infrastructure.

Ethiopia’s population is mostly rural, and over half of the population is illiterate. The country’s GDP per capita is US$560.

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

Iraq on verge of civil war, head of Arab league fears

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Saturday, October 8, 2005

Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League, said a civil war in Iraq is looming, “… civil war could erupt at any moment, although some people would say it is already there.”

“There are a lot of individuals now playing games with the future of Iraq, and there is no clear strategy, there is no clear leadership… We are now in a mission to bring people together,” said Moussa.

Sunni Arab leaders met Saturday to discuss the possibility of a boycott of the up-coming referendum on the Iraqi draft constitution. The group came just short of calling for the boycott, and instead asked followers to vote “no” on October 15th referendum. They called on their followers to oppose the referendum “by all legitimate means.”

The constitution was drafted by mainly Shia leaders, the majority in Iraq. The Kurdish leaders also supported the new constitution.

The Sunnis make up 20% of Iraq. They most likely fear a political movement that would allow the Shia and Kurds to control the government and lucrative petroleum industry.

Violent acts have been on the increase lately. Most carried out by suicide bombers targeting Iraq police and new recruits into the nations army.

UK Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has also been expressing concerns over violence in Iraq. The most worrying was “the apparent breakdown in trust” between local authorities and UK troops.

These comments come after UK troops were attacked by a mob after they tried to free two soldiers who had been arrested. UK troops later broke into a Basra prison while looking for the two arrested soldiers. They were found later in houses, police had handed them over to Shia militiamen. Kennedy has also been pushing for the removal of troops from Iraq.

Other Arab countries have been expressing their concern over the violence in Iraq.

Amr Moussa told the BBC, “The situation is bad and our work now is to bring all communities together; we want to do something constructive.”

U.S. manufacturer General Motors seeks bankruptcy protection

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Monday, June 1, 2009

United States automobile manufacturing firm General Motors filed for bankruptcy and Chapter 11 protection from its creditors at 12:00 UTC Monday, in a Manhattan, New York federal bankruptcy court. This was the largest bankruptcy filing for a U.S. manufacturing company, and with declared assets of $82.29 billion and a debt of $172.81 billion, and the fourth largest bankruptcy filing in recent U.S. history — after the bankruptcies of {{w|Lehman Brothers|| ($691.06 billion), Washington Mutual ($327.91 billion), and WorldCom ($103.91 billion).

The filing, expected to be the first of many, was for a New York GM affiliate, Chevrolet-Saturn of Harlem Incorporated. Numbered 09-50026, it named GM as a debtor in possession, and was filed before judge Robert Gerber.

GM is to be represented throughout the filing process by Weil Gotshal & Manges, a New York law firm specializing in bankruptcy.

The chief restructuring officer, named in the filing, is to be Al Koch, a managing director at AlixPartners LLP in New York, who will report directly to Fritz Henderson, the Chief Executive Officer of General Motors.

In its bankruptcy petition, GM listed its primary creditors as:

Name Amount owed (USD millions)
Wilmington Trust 22,000
United Auto Workers union (UAW) 20,560
Deutsche Bank 4,440

The amount owed to UAW excludes “approximately $9.4 billion corresponding to the GM Internal VEBA”. USD22,760 millions are owed to bondholders.

Analysts have observed that the effect of the bankruptcy filing on the U.S. economy is not expected to be as major as it once would have been. One such voice, Mark Zandy, an economist at Moody’s Economy.com, commented that “Bankruptcy now is irrelevant in terms of the economic consequence of what’s happening to GM.” Such analysts believe that the economic impact of GM’s problems has already been felt, with its effects on parts suppliers and employment. They also believe that GM’s programme of accelerated payments, and its participation in a U.S. Treasury program to ensure prompt payments to parts manufacturers, will have cushioned the effect of the bankruptcy itself.

Speaking on Bloomberg Radio, David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, stated that the fragility of the parts suppliers, the loss of whom would threaten the entire automobile manufacturing industry, was of more immediate concern than the GM bankruptcy.

Also filing for chapter 11 protection today were Saturn LLC and Saturn Distribution Corporation, subsidiary companies of General Motors.

As a consequence of the bankruptcy, General Motors Corporation (GM.N) was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and was replaced by Cisco Systems (CSCO.O), these changes scheduled by Dow Jones & Company to take effect from the opening of trading on June 8.

Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.