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Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control
April 26, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

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.

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Kennedy Center names 2007 honors recipients
April 26, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Kennedy Center announced that its 30th presentation of the Kennedy Center Honors would go to pianist Leon Fleisher, comedian Steve Martin, singer Diana Ross, director Martin Scorsese and musician Brian Wilson. The Center was opened to the public in 1971 and was envisioned as part of the National Cultural Center Act, which mandated that the independent, privately-funded institution would present a wide variety of both classical and contemporary performances, commission the creation of new artistic works, and undertake a variety of educational missions to increase awareness of the arts.

In a statement, Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said that “with their extraordinary talent, creativity and perseverance, the five 2007 honorees have transformed the way we, as Americans, see, hear and feel the performing arts.”

Fleisher, 79, a member of the Peabody Institute‘s music faculty, is a pianist who lost use of his right hand in 1965 due to a neurological condition. He became an accomplished musician and conductor through the use of his left hand. At 67, he regained the use of his right hand. With the advent of Botox therapy, he was once more able to undertake two-hand performances in 2004, his first in four decades. “I’m very gratified by the fact that it’s an apolitical honor,” Fleisher said. “It is given by colleagues and professional people who are aware of what [an artist] has done, so it really is apolitical — and that much more of an honor.”

Martin, 62, a comedian who has written books and essays in addition to his acting and stand-up comedy career, rose to fame during his work on the American television program Saturday Night Live in the 1970’s. Schwarzman praised his work as that of a “renaissance comic whose talents wipe out the boundaries between artistic disciplines.” Martin responded to the honor saying, “I am grateful to the Kennedy Center for finally alleviating in me years of covetousness and trophy envy.”

Ross, 63, was a product of Detroit‘s Brewster-Douglass Projects when as a teeager she and friends Mary Wilson and Florence Ballardis formed The Supremes, a ground-breaking Motown act. She portrayed singer Billie Holiday in the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues, which earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award. “Diana Ross’ singular, instantly recognizable voice has spread romance and joy throughout the world,” said Schwarzman. Ross said she was “taken aback. It is a huge, huge honor and I am excited to be in this class of people.”

Scorsese, 64, is one of the most accomplished directors the United States ever produced, whose work includes Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, Cape Fear, The Last Temptation of Christ and The Departed, for which he won a 2006 Academy Award for Best Director after being nominated eight times. Scorsese said, “I’m very honored to be receiving this recognition from the Kennedy Center and proud to be joining the company of the very distinguished individuals who have received this honor in years past.”

Wilson, 65, along with his brothers Dennis and Carl, formed the Beach Boys in 1961. They had a series of hits that included “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” Their 1966 album Pet Sounds is considered one of the most influential recordings in American music. “This is something so unexpected and I feel extremely fortunate to be in the company of such great artists,” said Wilson, who is currently on tour.

The Kennedy Center’s board of trustees is responsible for selecting honorees for “lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.” Previous honorees, including Elton John and Steven Spielberg, also submitted recommendations. A wide variety of people were under consideration, including Emanuel Ax, Evgeny Kissin, Renee Fleming, Laurence Fishburne, Francis Ford Coppola, Melissa Etheridge and Kenny Chesney.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will attend the center’s presentation at its opera house on December 2, 2007, which will broadcast on December 26 on CBS.

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Clash of cultures: Somali and Latino workers at U.S. meat packing plants
April 26, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Muslim Somali workers at a meat packing plant in Grand Island, Nebraska wanted to pray. Their colleagues from Latin America wanted to work. A dispute over the company’s break schedule led to formal discrimination claims, mass job walk-offs and public protests by both sides last month, and a reported 200 firings.

Tensions at the plant began after a Federal government raid in December 2006 removed 200 undocumented workers. An equal number of employees quit shortly afterward. Altogether, six government immigration raids at meat packing plants of Brazilian-owned JBS Swift & Co. had removed 1,200 employees from the company’s work force, which caused substantial production problems. Management at the Nebraska plant responded by hiring approximately 400 Somali immigrants who resided in the United States legally as political refugees. Stricter Federal enforcement of immigration laws has had a significant impact on the meat packing industry because few native-born Americans are willing to work in its low-wage factories. Employers advertise to immigrant communities and after the immigration crackdowns the company turned to the Somali community, which was unlikely to be targeted for deportation.

They shouldn’t be forced to choose between their job and their religion.

Many of the new Somali workers were observant Muslims who wanted to practice the traditional religious prayer schedule, and few spoke English. The existing union contract had been negotiated before Muslims became a significant part of the factory work force, when religious needs had not been an issue, and break times were assigned according to a rigid schedule to ensure continuous production and prevent workers from working too long without a break. The sharp knives the meat packers wield for their job pose a substantial risk of accidental injury.

At first the Somali workers prayed during scheduled breaks and visits to the rest room. A few Somalis were fired for “illegal breaks” they had spent praying. Rima Kapitan, a lawyer who represents the Muslim meat packers of Grand Island, told USA Today, “they shouldn’t be forced to choose between their job and their religion.” The Somalis offered to let their employer deduct pay for time at prayer, but supervisors considered it unworkable to lose the labor of hundreds of people simultaneously, even if the interruptions lasted less than five minutes.

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Plant worker Fidencio Sandoval, a naturalized United States citizen who was born in Mexico, had polite reservations. “I kind of admire all the effort they make to follow that religion, but sometimes you have to adapt to the workplace.” An immigrant from El Salvador was less sympathetic. “They used to go to the bathroom,” said José Amaya, “but actually they’re praying and the rest of us have to do their work.” Raul A. García, a 73-year-old Mexican meat packer, told The New York Times, “The Latino is very humble, but they [the Somalis] are arrogant… They act like the United States owes them.”

Differences of opinion arose over whether the prayers, which are a religious obligation five times a day for practicing Muslims and vary in exact time according the position of the sun, constitute a reasonable accommodation or an undue burden upon non-Muslim coworkers. Abdifatah Warsame, a Somali meat packer, told The New York Times that “Latinos were sometimes saying, ‘Don’t pray, don’t pray’”.

I kind of admire all the effort they make to follow that religion, but sometimes you have to adapt to the workplace.

As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approached during 2007 the Somalis requested time off for religious reasons. Observant Muslims fast throughout daylight hours during Ramadan. Management refused, believing it would affect the production line. Dozens of Somali workers quit their jobs temporarily in protest. Negotiations between the Somali workers and management broke down in October 2007. Some of the fired Somalis filed religious discrimination complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Problems resurfaced after September 10, 2008 when Somali workers approached plant general manager Dennis Sydow with a request to start their dinner half an hour before the usual schedule in order to break their Ramadan fast closer to sundown. Sydow refused due to concern the request would slow production and burden non-Muslim workers. During the same month a Somali woman complained that a plant supervisor had kicked her while she was praying. The union investigated the charge and the supervisor responded that he had not seen her while she bent in prayer and had only kicked the cardboard that was underneath her.

Somali workers walked out on strike September 15 and protested at Grand Island City Hall, asking for prayer time. The following day the union brokered a compromise with plant management to move the dinner break by 15 minutes. Plant scheduling rules would have reduced the work day by 15 minutes with resulting loss in pay for the hourly workers.

A Somali worker, Abdalla Omar, told the press “We had complaints from the whites, Hispanics and [Christian] Sudanese“. False rumors spread about further cuts to the work day and preferential concessions to the Somalis. Over 1,000 non-Somalis staged a counterprotest on September 17. Union and management returned to the original dinner schedule. Substantial numbers of Somali workers left the plant afterward and either quit or were fired as a result. Sources differ as to the number of Somalis who still work at the plant: The New York Times reports union leadership as saying 300 remain, while Somali community leaders assert the number is closer to 100.

The EEOC has sent staff to determine whether treatment of Somali workers has been in compliance with the The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under the law, employers must make reasonable accommodation for religious practices, but the law grants exceptions if religious practice places substantial hardship on an employer’s business.

Doug Schult, the JBS Swift manager in charge of labor relations, expressed frustration at the inability to resolve the problem, which had surfaced in a Colorado plant as well as the Nebraska plant. He told The Wall Street Journal that his office had spent months trying to understand and comply with new EEOC guidelines in light of conflicting pressures. Local union chapter president Daniel O. Hoppes of United Food and Commercial Workers worries that similar problems could continue to arise at the plant. “Right now, this is a real kindling box”.

Apple releases new Magic Trackpad, updated iMacs and Mac Pros

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Apple releases new Magic Trackpad, updated iMacs and Mac Pros
April 22, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, July 30, 2010

On Tuesday, Apple Inc. introduced a new peripheral, the Magic Trackpad, and refreshed its line of iMac and Mac Pro computers, as well as the Apple Cinema Display.

The Magic Trackpad, a multi-touch trackpad for Macintosh computers, allows end users to use certain gestures to control on-screen actions. It supports gestures already seen on the MacBook and MacBook Pro trackpads, as well as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, such as swiping, tap-to-click, and pinch-to-zoom. However, the Magic Trackpad also supports physical clicking and supports one- and two-button commands. The Magic Trackpad, which is retailed for US$69, connects wirelessly to a computer using Bluetooth technology and has a claimed four months of battery life. At 5.17 inches (13.13 centimetres) long and 5.12 inches (13 centimetres) wide, the glass and aluminium device is slightly larger than Apple’s laptop trackpads.

In addition to the Magic Trackpad, Apple also began selling the US$29 Apple Battery Charger accessory, a charger pack with six rechargeable batteries usable in the Magic Trackpad, Apple Wireless Keyboard, and Apple Magic Mouse. Apple claims that the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries can last up to ten years before they lose their ability to hold a charge. The Magic Trackpad uses two AA batteries, and can be used with any Bluetooth-enabled Macintosh computer running Mac OS X 10.6.4.

Another major announcement that came on Tuesday was the first iMac update since last fall. The update included mostly internal upgrades, giving consumers a choice of newer Intel processors: the dual-core Core i3 and Core i5, and the quad-core Core i5 and Core i7. In addition, the SD card slot was expanded to allow support for the Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) format. The iMac is still available at 21.5-inch (54.61-centimetre) and 27-inch (68.58-centimetre) display options, but has upgraded graphics cards as well. The screens use in-plane switching (IPS) technology, allowing for a greater viewing angle. The base model is still priced at US$1,199.

Apple’s line of Mac Pro computers were also given a refresh on Tuesday. Consumers now have the option to purchase a Mac Pro with twelve processing cores, using two six-core Intel Xeon processors. Four-, six-, and eight-core options are still available. The update also includes the choice of adding up to four, 512GB solid state drives, instead of conventional hard drives. The base model is priced at US$2,499 and will be sold starting in August.

Apple also released a new, 27-inch (68.58 centimetre) LED Cinema Display, a 60 percent increase in display area from the older 24-inch (60.96 centimetres) Cinema Display. The new monitor can reach a resolution of 2560-by-1440 pixels, or Wide Quad High Definition, and has a built-in microphone, webcam, speakers, USB hub, and ambient light sensor, which changes the display’s brightness based on external lighting levels. It is priced at US$999 but will not be available for purchase until September.

CEO of GM outlines plan for “New GM” after auto company declared bankruptcy

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CEO of GM outlines plan for “New GM” after auto company declared bankruptcy
April 22, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In a New York press conference at 16:15 UTC, June 1st, Fritz Henderson, the Chief Executive Officer of General Motors, which filed for bankruptcy and Chapter 11 protection from its creditors earlier today, outlined a plan for what he called a “New GM”.

Speaking to the press under safe harbor provisions of U.S. law, Henderson described the events of today as a “defining moment” in the history of General Motors. Speaking to the public he said that “The GM that let you down is history,” and described a “New GM” that he expected to result from the bankruptcy process.

Henderson stated that he envisioned the bankruptcy process would take between 60 and 90 days. He stressed several times his view that the process would be one that is executed quickly, saying that not just a sense of urgency but “pure unadulterated speed” was his expectation of the process. He emphasized that “GM remains open for business” during the bankruptcy period, continuing to sell and to support its products, and that day one motions had been filed in the bankruptcy court in order to allow this.

Regarding the bankruptcy process he said, “We will do it right. And we will do it once.”

He stated that the plan for General Motors had the support of the United Auto Workers union, the Canadian Auto Workers union, the GM VEBA, and a majority of the unsecured bondholders of GM. He also mentioned that GM had already received €1.5 million in bridge financing from the German government.

In response to questions about the possibility of the United States federal government, a majority shareholder in the restructured company, dictating future product development and strategy, such as the sale of more fuel-efficient and green vehicles; he first observed that the federal government had already stated to him that it had “no real interest in running our business” and that he expected that still to be his job. Of the specific hypothetical scenario where the management of GM wants to make one type of car, because it thinks that it is the right thing for the business, and the U.S. government wants to make another type of car, he stated that “I don’t think it’s going to happen.” Expanding on that point he stated that he expected the “New GM” to focus upon “highly fuel-efficient and green technology”, and that operating both in accordance with U.S. environmental laws and in response to customer demand would naturally result in the New GM producing the types of vehicles that the U.S. government would encourage.

The “New GM” he also expected to focus on “four core brands”, and will size its dealership to match that. He stated that GM would offer a “deferred termination” package to dealers, to allow them to cease dealing in GM vehicles in a managed and gradual way.

He stated that the bankruptcy filings did not cover General Motors’ businesses in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, and Asia and the Pacific. Of GM’s profitable ventures in China, specifically, he stated that they were “a critical part of the New GM”. In response to questions of whether the New GM would import cars from China to the U.S., he stated the formative company’s core principle that “We build where we sell” applied in both directions, with GM building in China to sell in China and building in the U.S. to sell in the U.S., stating that this shortened supply chains.

He declined to predict when the New GM would return to profitability, stating that the goal was rather to lower the break-even EBIT point for the company. He also declined to speculate upon when the U.S. government would sell its stake in the company, saying that that was a question “better addressed to the U.S. Treasury”, and merely saying that he expected it to be “years, not months” when the U.S. Treasury felt it would give “the right return for taxpayers.”

Six teenagers die in car accident in Victoria, several others injured

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Six teenagers die in car accident in Victoria, several others injured
April 22, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Six teenagers were killed in a horrific road accident near Mildura in north-western Victoria, Australia late at night on February 18.

Cassandra Manners, aged 16, Stevie-Lee Weight, 15, Cory Dowling, 16, Shane Hirst, 16, and his sister, Abby Hirst, 17, died at the scene. Josephine Calvi, 16, was flown to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where she later died of head injuries. Seven other teenagers were injured, including 15-year-old Marco Medici who is now in a stable but critical condition in The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.

The accident occurred after the teenagers left a 16th birthday party and walked along Myall Road, Cardross, south-east of Mildura. A car allegedly came speeding around a bend, hit the gravel on the side of the road, lost control and struck the group. The alleged driver, later identified as 34-year-old Thomas Graham Towle, fled the scene on foot, leaving his 10-year-old daughter and four-year-old son in the car. Towle was later arrested by police in Redcliffs. He was taken to Mildura police station for questioning.

Towle has been charged with six charges of culpable driving causing death, four charges of negligently causing serious injury, one charge of failing to stop and one charge of failing to render assistance after an accident. Towle faced Mildura Magistrates’ Court on February 20. Magistrate John Dugdale remanded him into custody to reappear before the court on June 26.

Meanwhile, the town of Mildura and surrounding areas is in deep mourning. Premier Steve Bracks said the State Government will provide $AU40,000 for counselling and support services.

Around 3,000 people attended the funeral for Josephine Calvi today. Funeral services for the other five teenagers were held last week.

Wikinews interviews Australian Statistician Brian Pink

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Wikinews interviews Australian Statistician Brian Pink
April 20, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is responsible for some of Australia’s largest surveys, including the Census of Population and Housing, held every five years. At its head is the Australian Statistician. The current Statistician, Brian Pink, started in his position on March 5, 2007, following the retirement of predecessor Dennis Trewin. Wikinews recently caught up with Brian Pink to talk with him about his first year in the position, as well as his previous tenure as Government Statistician at Statistics New Zealand, and the state of mathematical education in Australia.

((WikiNews)) : Good afternoon.

Brian Pink: Good afternoon.

((WN)) : And congratulations on spending a year as Australian Statistician.

BP: Yes, it’s gone very quickly. (laughs)

Prince Philip of UK makes last solo public engagement after 65 years

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Prince Philip of UK makes last solo public engagement after 65 years
April 18, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The United Kingdom’s Prince Philip, 96, performed his last solo official royal public engagement, before retiring from his official duties as the consort of Queen Elizabeth II after 65 years of service, with a Captain General’s parade of the Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

As the Captain General, he took the royal salute and inspected the soldiers to mark the end of the 1664 Global Challenge. He told the soldiers humorously “You all should be locked up” after they completed a 2,678 kilometer (1664 mile) trek in support of the Royal Marines Charity. 

Buckingham Palace announced Philip’s retirement plan in May. Philip succeeded King George VI — Elizabeth’s father — as Captain General of marines in 1953, the year after she succeeded him as monarch. On the announcement in May, Prime Minister Theresa May offered her well wishes and gratitude to Prince Philip, 95 years old at the time.

Lady Myra Butter, an acquaintance of Philip’s for more than eight decades, said on BBC Radio 4 program Today, of Philip’s future after retirement, “I’m sure that he won’t disappear, he will be greatly missed by everybody. He’s been such a stable character in all our lives — he’s always there and he’s always been there for the Queen and I think we’re very, very lucky to have him.”

Serving longer than any other British consort, Philip has made 22,219 solo public engagements as consort, 637 solo overseas visits, 5,496 speeches, and 14 books. He currently supports or belongs to more than 780 organisations.

Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, is a nephew of late King Constantine I of Greece, and was born on the Greek island of Corfu. Philip is a former naval officer and courted Elizabeth during his service in the Royal Navy. He married her in 1947 in Westminster Abbey. This November will be their 70th wedding anniversary. Elizabeth described Philip as “my strength and stay”.

Bucharest to be ‘rebranded’ for 800 million euro

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Bucharest to be ‘rebranded’ for 800 million euro
April 18, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Bucharest, Romania — The city centre of Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is set to get a major facelift due to a real estate project called Esplanada (The Esplanade), which will be constructed by TriGranit Development Corporation. The total investment in the project will be greater than 800 million euro and aims to build a modern commercial pedestrian area in downtown Bucharest, with several shopping malls, office buildings, hotels and dwellings. It will be the largest real estate program in Romania since the fall of Communism in 1989.

Bucharest is currently looking at possibilities to improve its appearance and rebrand itself as a lively, creative and vibrant city. Many initiatives have sprung up to improve the city, including the organisation of CowParade later this year. Additionally, the old town centre will be restored. Due to Romania’s current economic boom, several other major construction projects are taking place.

Bucharest City Hall has blocked traffic in the city center due both to the old town restoration and to the Esplanada project.

New York City Mass Transit facing service cuts

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New York City Mass Transit facing service cuts
April 16, 2019 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, December 11, 2009

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proposing to make service cuts to close its expected US$343 million (€234m, GBP £211m) budget deficit. The plan includes the elimination of multiple bus lines in The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, the elimination of the W (Astoria, Queens to Lower Manhattan) and the Z (Jamaica, Queens to Lower Manhattan via Brooklyn) train services. Also included in the plan are cuts of nighttime bus and train service.

“We’re not going to rely on anyone else to do anything for us. We’re going to rely on ourselves.” MTA board member Mitchell Pally said, commenting on the New York state’s budget plan cutting $143 million of tax revenue from the agency. MTA Chairman Jay Walder has said in the past that he would not raise fares ahead of schedule.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, a commuter advocacy group, said that the agency should take money from its current construction and maintenance fund, and put it into maintaining these services.