Japan begins using helicopters to drop water on nuclear plant

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Japan begins using helicopters to drop water on nuclear plant

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japanese military helicopters have begun to drop water on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in an effort to cool reactors.

The operation began at 0948 local time (0048 UTC) today, after similar efforts were ended early yesterday due to radiation. Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters dropped four loads of water on reactors three and four, with officials planning up to twelve more drops before crews are forced to leave the area due to radiation.

The water drops are intended to both cool the reactors and add water to pools that hold fuel rods. These pools are believed to be almost empty; if they run out of water the fuel rods can melt and release high levels of radiation. The storage pools have a capacity of about 2,000 tonnes of water, a third of that is needed to keep fuel rods submerged. Each helicopter can carry 7.5 tonnes of water at a time.

TV footage showed helicopters dropping water from about 300 feet above the reactors. Some time after the helicopters began to drop water, military trucks started using a water cannon to spray reactor three.

The crisis at the power plant has led to the evacuation of around 70,000 people who lived within 20 kilometres of the plant, while another 140,000 are under orders to stay inside. The United States has asked its citizens who are within 80 kilometres of the plant to leave.

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Investigation into US Airways river ditching in New York completed

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Investigation into US Airways river ditching in New York completed

October 17, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has completed its investigation into the ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 into New York’s Hudson River. The fifteen-month probe began after the Airbus A320 performed a water landing when bird strikes damaged both engines in a move dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson” by the media. Nobody was killed.

The NTSB’s final report, adopted after a board meeting today, concluded that a combination of safety equipment better than the mandatory minimums and good reactions by the crew were the main reasons the 150 passengers and five crew survived. The board stated that the aircraft’s equipment met the standards required for “extended overwater operations”, equipment that was not needed for the January 2009 flight.

The aircraft was equiped with escape slides that doubled as water rafts at the front and aft emergency exits, but the aft ones were rendered unavailable. Airbus assumed when designing the aircraft that only one engine would be inoperative during an emergency ditching, and current emergency checklists assume plenty of prior warning for dual-engine failure since the aircraft would be at a high altitude. The A320 was at just 2,700 feet when the incident occurred, having just taken off when it collided with a flock of Canada geese, almost completely removing the engines’ ability to generate thrust.

The final report has blamed a number of factors for extensive fuselage damage caused in the impact, which cracked a rear bulkhead and caused the aircraft to flood, as well as taking the rear slides out of action. The board said standards aircraft should meet in ditchings – set by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) – were inadequate, training in industry was not sufficient for ditchings and the high level of tasks the crew had to focus on made it difficult for the pilot to maintain his airspeed. The pilot’s decision to ditch was credited as being the best possible solution to the emergency.

The NTSB noted that while the rear rafts failed, 64 people climbed into the forward rafts, and said many of these people would have been immersed in the frigid river. The board claimed that this could induce “cold shock”, which can lead to drowning within minutes.

The report found that the good visibility, calm water, nearby ferries which provided rescues within twenty minutes and good cockpit resource management, allowing the crew to maintain control, were further factors that contributed to the survival of those on board. However, it also found that “more creative and effective methods of conveying safety information to passengers” are required after learning that most passengers had not paid attention to the in-flight safety announcement. It also noted that many passengers had difficulty putting on the life vests supplied under the seats.

The report further stated that the accident was hard to predict due to the fact that bird strikes tend to occur much lower, usually below 500 feet. It considered the possibilities of fitting engine screens or redesigning engines to mitigate bird strike risk, but these proposals were rejected after consideration since they were deemed unfeasable.

NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman described the circumstances as “a great example of the professionalism of the crewmembers, air traffic controllers and emergency responders who all played a role in preserving the safety of everyone aboard.” She further discussed the safety recommendations the report will contain when it is released. “I believe the safety recommendations that have come out of this investigation have an extraordinary origin – a very serious accident in which everyone survived. Even in an accident where everyone survives, there are lessons learned and areas that could use improvement. Our report today takes these lessons learned so that, if our recommendations are implemented, every passenger and crewmember may have the opportunity to benefit from the advances in safety.” A total of 35 recommendations have been made seeking improved checklists for emergencies, better certification standards for aircraft and their engines, advances in crew training, better safety equipment and improved safety briefings to passengers.

One result of these findings is that the board will likely ask the FAA to require emergency equipment for water landings on all commercial aircraft. The FAA has until now held that such a move would place a disproportionately high cost on airlines.

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Wikinews 2014: An ‘Original reporting’ year in review

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Wikinews 2014: An ‘Original reporting’ year in review

October 16, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Wednesday, December 24, 2014With the English-language Wikinews continuing to increase the amount of original content published, we take a look back at some of the eighty-plus original reports from our contributors during 2014.

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United States begins testing equipment for demolition of a major VX nerve gas stockpile

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United States begins testing equipment for demolition of a major VX nerve gas stockpile

October 14, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Testing began on a chemical reactor at the Newport Chemical Depot near Terre Haute, Indiana on Friday morning. If successful, the reactor will be put to use destroying the large VX nerve gas stockpiles stored at the facility over the course of the next two years. After the disposal project experienced several delays, the facility announced it would begin pumping VX into a completed disposal unit for testing. The unit consists of a chemical reactor in which the VX will be mixed with water and sodium hydroxide, heated to 194°F while mixed with paddles. The resulting chemical, called hydrolysate, is chemically similar to commercial drain cleaners and has similar properties. If the test is successfully completed , the unit will continue processing the VX until the entire stockpile has been neutralized, a process projected to take two years. Administrators expect to complete testing on May 10, 2005.

According to the controversial plan, the finished waste product would be shipped to New Jersey for final reprocessing. The inert chemical would then be emptied into the Delaware River where natural attenuation would occur.

Residents near the proposed river disposal site in New Jersey oppose this idea. The contractor for the final component of this disposal would be the DuPont Corporation.

NCD is a bulk chemical storage and destruction facility in west central Indiana, thirty miles north of Terre Haute. Originally founded during World War II to produce RDX, a conventional explosive, it later became a site for chemical weapons manufacturing during the Cold War. It is now used to securely store and gradually neutralize part of the US stockpile of VX.

VX was manufactured by the U.S. in the 1950s and 60’s as a deterrent to possible Soviet Union use. It was never deployed, and the manufacture was halted in 1969 after an order signed by then-president Richard Nixon.

In 1999, the Army announced it awarded a disposal contract to Parsons Infrastructure & Technology, Inc., a business unit of Parsons Corporation. Some 220 civilian Parsons employees work at the facility, which is supervised by an Army officer reporting to the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, and a board of civilian government overseers called the Indiana Citizens’ Advisory Commission, some of whose members are appointed by the state governor.

Security at the facility is controversial. A private security service, supplemented by a complement of Indiana National Guard soldiers, guarded the facility until April 14, 2005, when the soldiers were withdrawn. An Indianapolis television station has questioned security measures in some of its special reports.

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G20 protests: Inside a labour march

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G20 protests: Inside a labour march

October 12, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

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

Friday, April 3, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s nobody to protest to!

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

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

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

A demonstration is always a means to and end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

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Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

October 12, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

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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Earth Day 2009 celebrated around the globe

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Earth Day 2009 celebrated around the globe

October 11, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today is the 39th observance of Earth Day in the northern hemisphere. Earth day is celebrated in Autumn on November 30 in the southern hemisphere. Senator Gaylord Nelson initiated the first Earth Day in April 1970 in the United States, and it is now celebrated by over 1 billion people in over 170 countries worldwide. Earth Day is the biggest environmental event which addresses issues and educates people on environmental awareness on a global scale.

This year, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will beam high-definition images to the NASA website and television. By doing so, NASA hopes to increase appreciation of global climate issues. There will also be a Washington exhibit relating to environmental issues viewed from space as well.

At the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center activities will focus on their slogan for Earth Day 2009, “Just One Drop … PRICELESS” and will demonstrate how the Environmental Control Life Support System operates as used on the International Space Staton (ISS).

Amongst the many festivals, WorldFest is a solar powered music celebration held in Los Angeles, California. Buenos Aires will also feature its second Earth Day event featuring a music festival as well.

“We are in a new era of energy innovation,” said Daniel Yergin at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) forum. Lithium-ion batteries are providing electric storage solutions for electric cars such as the Chevrolet Volt and the Dodge Circuit EV. Algae fuel is a new form of biofuel, but is still under development.

“Energy Smackdown” was a competitive household activity which compared energy usage between 60 separate households across three cities in or near Boston. The various competitors came up with a variety of innovative methods to cut their carbon footprint, installing solar electric panels, geothermal heat pumps, wind turbines, and using a caulking gun to seal the home from drafts.

“In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.” is a United States Department of Energy (DOE) estimate.

Miami is installing a smart grid which will use individual household smart meters to allow energy consumers know via a web site, their exact home energy usage. “To me these are prudent and smart investments that will easily pay for themselves. It will show the nation how to address environmental, energy, and economic challenges all at the same time.” said Miami mayor Manny Diaz.

Cal Dooley, CEO of the American Chemistry Council ACC, says the plastic bag industry is prepared to spend US$50 million to revamp their manufacturing facilities and will collect 470 million pounds of recycled plastic every year to make plastic bags of 40% recycled content. The ACC is providing a donation to the Keep America Beautiful environmental organisation, both of whom endorse this new project. The Earth Day Network (EDN) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) would like to see an end to the use of plastic bags, however. “We don’t want people to use disposable bags. We want people to use reusable bags,” says Darby Hoover of the NRDC.

Calgary researchers will begin field surveys to help save the “Northern Leopard Frog (Rana Pipiens). “Northern Leopard Frogs are threatened in Alberta, but endangered in British Columbia,” said Dr. Des Smith, Primary Investigator and Research Scientist with the Calgary Zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research. “It is essential to develop new monitoring techniques for Northern Leopard” said Breana McKnight, Field Team Leader and Endangered Species Researcher.

The traditional Earth day ceremony of planting trees is garnering further attention in Japan as Koichi Nakatani, the nation’s Tree Planting Father travels from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

Students can take part in an Earth Day photo contest sponsored by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies which will feature images and scientific student research for the environmental change depicted in each photo submitted.

“Earth Day should be about teaching about the environment every day,” said Sean Mille director of education for EDN, “We emphasize taking action for your classroom, school, district or community.” 25,000 schools across America made use of the environmental curriculum developed by the National Civic Education Project, the Green Schools Campaign and the Educator’s Network. Lesson plans are broad and varied and may focus on water pollution, recycling, composting, using chemistry to convert cafeteria left-overs into biodiesel or ethanol fuel or converting go-carts to operate on biodiesel or ethanol fuels in shop class.

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Eurovision ’04 winner Ruslana discusses her paths as singer, spokesmodel, stateswoman and source of inspiration

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Eurovision ’04 winner Ruslana discusses her paths as singer, spokesmodel, stateswoman and source of inspiration

October 10, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Monday, March 30, 2009

First becoming famous in her native Ukraine in the 1990s, long-haired self-described “AmazonRuslana gained international recognition for winning the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Wild Dances,” inspired by the musical traditions of the Hutsul people of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains.

In the five years since, Ruslana has decided to use her name and public status to represent a number of worthy causes, including human trafficking, renewable energy, and even the basic concept of democratic process, becoming a public face of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution and later serving in Parliament.

Currently, she is on an international publicity tour to promote her album Wild Energy, a project borne out of a science fiction novel that has come to symbolize her hopes for a newer, better, freer way of life for everyone in the world. She took time to respond to questions Wikinews’s Mike Halterman posed to her about her career in music and her other endeavors.

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with past Eurovision contestants, which will be published sporadically in the lead-up to mid-May’s next contest in Moscow.

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Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax dies

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Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax dies

October 9, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ernest Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, died in his Lake Geneva, Wisconsin home on Tuesday at the age of 69 due to heart problems.

Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor was the first role-playing game, a genre in which players describe their characters in thorough detail and can attempt almost any action the character plausibly could. Gygax, then a close friend of Arneson, worked with him during 1972-73 to develop the extensive set of rules (in this case three volumes) that such a game requires. This became the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons. He also fleshed out the default setting for the game, a “sword-and-sorcery” world inspired primarily by fantasy fiction such as Three Hearts and Three Lions. He then founded TSR Inc. to publish the game; although it was a runaway success, financial difficulties ultimately forced the company to sell itself to Wizards of the Coast, which currently publishes the game and is now a subsidiary of Hasbro.

Although not involved with later editions of D&D, Gygax later worked on other role-playing games and wrote fantasy novels. He also designed niche-market board games.

Dungeons & Dragons is considered a tabletop RPG, since it is played with pen, paper, dice and miniature figures. It inspired other tabletop RPGs (such as GURPS), as well as video RPGs (such as the Final Fantasy series). The most recent form of RPG is the massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game, such as World of Warcraft. An estimated 20 million people worldwide have played the game. Magazines, print and web comics and independent bands have been dedicated to the game, as have thousands of fan websites.

Gygax’s death comes mere months before the scheduled release of the 4th Edition of D&D in June, as well as a scheduled “GM Day” among D&D fans on the internet.

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Wikinews Shorts: April 19, 2007

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Wikinews Shorts: April 19, 2007

October 9, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, April 19, 2007.

Contents

  • 1 Compensation sought for New Zealand’s Internet outage
  • 2 Peruvian farmers issue warning to government
  • 3 Missile shield to feature in talks
  • 4 Water cuts possible as Australia faces drought
  • 5 Russian plans for Bering Strait tunnel received with skepticism

Wikinews reported previously on an Internet outage in New Zealand that lasted for over five hours. Telecom New Zealand, the company that owns and operates the “local loop”, said that they will review compensation for its customers on a case-by-case basis.

A wholesale ISP is attempting to give its subscribers compensation for the outage. CallPlus says that it is asking Telecom for the thousands of dollars it needs to pass on to its affected customers. They doubt Telecom will give them the money needed.

Related news

  • “Outage leaves tens of thousands of New Zealanders without Internet” — Wikinews, April 18, 2007

Sources


Farmers in Peru striking over the Peruvian government’s stance on coca, have issued an ultimatum. The ultimatum appears to be: negotiate within 24 hours, or face roadblocks indefinitely.

The protests come in response to a coca eradication drive and measures Peruvian president Alan García is taking against cocaine production in the country.

Peruvian police have arrested the leader of the Shining Path rebel group, Jimmy Rodríguez on charges of organising anti-government protests.

Sources


Meetings are underway at NATO headquarters in an attempt to reassure Russia that the missile defence plans pose no threat. The United States maintains the system is to protect against missiles from rogue states, whereas Russia sees the system as compromising its strategic interests in the region.

In today’s talks NATO allies encouraged the United States to make the planned anti-missile shield capable of covering all of Europe. They did this without committing themselves to joining the project.

Reaction to the proposed system in European states has been mixed.


Irrigation water to a substantial proportion of Australia’s farming regions could be cut due to drought conditions, Australian PM John Howard has warned.

Mr Howard’s comments concerned the Murray-Darling Basin, one of the largest systems in Australia. “If it doesn’t rain in sufficient volume over the next six to eight weeks, there will be no water allocations for irrigation purposes in the basin”, adding that the drought conditions could continue until May 2008.

He continued “It is a grim situation, and there is no point in pretending to Australia otherwise,” he said. “We must all hope and pray there is rain.”

Sources


Russia, in coordination with the government of the United States and Canada, is planning to build a tunnel from Russia to Alaska, Viktor Razbegin, deputy head of industrial research at the Russian Economy Ministry, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday.

The tunnel is budgeted to cost US$65 billion and would take 10 to 15 years to build. The tunnel is to provide train and automobile transport between Alaska and the Russian Far East, and to carry petroleum and natural gas pipelines, and high-voltage electrical cable.

The proposed tunnel is 64 miles long, or about 100 kilometers, in total, and is designed to link with two islands in the Bering Strait. The project is expected to have a very positive economic effect in the area.

Derek Brower, an energy market expert, called the project “absurd” and suggested the Russian government is playing political games to threaten its European customers to sign energy deals.

“I’ve never heard of this plan,” said Sergei Grigoryev, Vice President of oil pipeline monopoly Transneft.

“To be honest, anyone who look[s] at the map will realize that the project is too hard to implement,” an anonymous government source told Reuters.

Sources


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