Harvard University officials update Agassiz Neighborhood Council about local construction in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Cambridge, Massachusetts — Harvard University planners met with the Agassiz Neighborhood Council to update the community about Harvard’s construction and expansion plans in the neighborhood on April 26, the Harvard Crimson reported today. The two major topics discussed were the Northwest Science Building, which is currently under construction on Oxford Street, and the expansion of the Harvard Law School. According to the Crimson, Harvard officials outnumbered the number of community members present at the meeting.

The plans for law school expansion are still unfinished, the Crimson reported. The director of community relations at Harvard, Thomas Lucey, said that Wyeth Hall may be demolished. According to the Law School website, Wyeth Hall is “the most popular dormitory at Harvard Law School”. It is adjacent to the Berkman Center for Internet and Society on Massachusetts Avenue, just south of Three Aces pizzeria.

The Crimson also noted that Tom Murray, the project manager for the Northwest Science Building, was slated for completion by May of 2007, with landscaping completed the following spring.

A visit to the science building site by Wikinews reporter Pingswept last week verified that the pouring of cement had begun. Four large cranes had been brought to the site; one of them was being used with a clamshell attachment twice the height of a grown man to dig a deep trench. The truck “wheel wash” station marked on the site plan was operational, in the form of a man with a pressure washer, though in this reporter’s brief observations, more windshields were washed than dirty tires.

Parajet Skycar expedition takes off from London to Timbuktu

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Two explorers have set off from Knightsbridge, London Wednesday morning (0900 GMT) in a propeller-powered dune buggy heading for the Sahara. Giles Cardozo, age 29, from Dorset, with chief pilot and expedition leader Neil Laughton, age 45, an ex-SAS officer, will fly and drive the amazing two-seater vehicle more than 6,000-km (3,750-miles) to fabled Timbuktu on February 20.

“I just can’t wait to see their faces when we fly in and start playing football with them. I don’t think they will be able to believe somebody in a flying car has just visited them,” ‘extreme golfer’ Mr Laughton said before the departure. Timbuktu (Timbuctoo; Koyra Chiini: Tumbutu; French: Tombouctou) is an isolated city in Tombouctou Region, in the West African nation of Mali. They will traverse Europe and Africa about 42 days to arrive at the city in Mali, West Africa before returning home via Senegal.

The home-made 450-kilogram Skycar has been designed by Cardozo in just 18 months. It is the world’s first road legal bio fuelled flying car. It is a four cylinders modified Rage Motorsport off-road racing buggy which was approved by the government last month. It runs on bioethanol and is powered by a modified 140bhp Yamaha R1 superbike engine with a lightweight automatic continuously variable transmission from a snowmobile.

The team invested about £250,000 ($380,000) to make the 1000cc engine Skycar desert-proof. In its maiden voyage, the flying car will be escorted by up to 13 people convoy including an eight-wheel truck, two Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4s and several motorbikes. It has left London’s Sheraton Park Tower hotel, heading through the capital to Dunsfold airfield in Surrey.

The team had initially planned to take the air route across the English Channel, but the 35km flight was vetoed by aviation authorities. Skycar is required by law to obtain a license from Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), including a permit from the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA). Skycar spokeswoman, Charlie Bell, however clarified that the team was “in liaison with the CAA and they are looking to finalize the permit,” adding that it is in order for the rest of the trip.

The Skycar will thereafter fly over the high-altitude Pyrenees near Andorra, and would cross over the 14-km (nine-mile) Strait of Gibraltar. The prepared journey also includes the route through Mauritania, Atlas Mountains in Morocco and into Mali. It will further cross the harsh environment of Sahara’s remote “Rub’ al Khali” (empty quarter), for up to two weeks amid real fears of terrorist attacks.

The expedition will not have an easy task, especially since the Skycar will be tested to the limits amid punishing operating environments and weather conditions. “Clearly the reliability of the car is crucial,” said Mr Laughton. “We’re going to have to cope with wind chill temperatures as low as -30 deg C and blistering heat of up to 50 deg C. But it’s been fully tested at a secret location and it 100 per cent works,” he added.

The Parajet Skycar is a prototype flying car. It was developed by British paramotor manufacturer Parajet. The flying car utilizes a paramotor and a parafoil attached to a modified dune buggy to achieve sustained level flight. Should the engine fail, the vehicle can glide back to the ground. Should the canopy rip, an emergency reserve parachute would be deployed. It requires three minutes to convert it from a car to an aircraft. The prototype runs on biodiesel and is fully road-legal.

In 2004 British engineer Giles Cardozo, a paramotor manufacturer, has invented a fan-powered flying car to prove the Skycar is real and works. “I started making a paramotor on wheels that you sit on and take off and it suddenly occurred to me, ‘Why not just have a car that does everything?’” Cardozo said. His Wiltshire-based company Parajet built the paramotor that the adventurer Bear Grylls did fly near Everest in 2008. In 1998, Grylls, aged 23, became the youngest British to ascend Mount Everest. In May 2007, Grylls and Cardozo departed from Pheriche, about 32 kilometres south of Mount Everest.

I thought this would be an interesting challenge… Timbuktu is an iconic and quirky destination.

Cardozo has claimed he may finally have made it. “I’ve been dreaming about making flying cars since I was a boy, thinking about all the ways it could be done and seeing how all the other people in the world have done it wrong. No one’s ever made one that really does work that you can go out and buy. But here’s the ultimate solution: it’s cheap, it’s safe, it works, all the technology’s already there. So I pushed ahead and thought, ‘We’ve got to do it’,” he said.

If the Skycar becomes successful, Cardozo’s company plans a limited production with a selling price of £35,000 to £40,000 for a standard model and £60,000 for a high-performance sports version. “It will be a serious aircraft but also a proper road machine, with acceleration to match your average sports car,” says Cardozo. “I’m not going to sell millions of them but even if we sell 20 we’ll be laughing,” he added.

The explorers, with the aid of sponsors, supporters and benefactor Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet OBE (known as ‘Ranulph (Ran) Fiennes’), have aimed to raise more than £100,000 for some charities including an African orphanage.

Scientists say study proves chimps create termite gathering tools

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Researchers say that a study of chimpanzees in the Republic of the Congo in Africa, show that they specifically create and design tools to catch termites living underground. The study was performed in the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in the Congo in an area known as the Goualougo Triangle. The study was published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Dr. Crickette Sanz, the leader of the team who filmed the chimps crafting “fishing rod” type tools, says that they have “invented” ways of “improving their termite-fishing technique” by using a stick from a plant called the Marantaceae. They pick off the leaves and then create and place a brush like object on the end. Doing so improved the number of termites they catch, by more than 10 times.

“They then pulled the herb stems through their teeth, which were partially closed, to make the brush and they also attended to the brush by sometimes pulling apart the fibres to make them better at gathering the termites,” stated Sanz to the BBC.

Researchers are aware that chimps have used similar methods in the past, but it was not fully known if the tools they used were designed specifically for the task of gathering the insects. Of all the tools the chimps left behind and recovered by Sanz’s team, 80% were custom made by their owners. Sanz says the new study has determined that their methods have since evolved, proving previous hypotheses.

“Our results indicate that chimpanzees have a mental template of the tool form, which is employed in crafting the tool prior to use and refining it during use,” Sanz said.

Sanz also says that because of Africa’s vastness, much of it is still unstudied leaving him to suggest other species of chimps and apes use complex tools to gather food.

“Just as we are learning about these exciting new complex tool behaviours, the chimps that are showing us these behaviours are under danger from logging, poaching and Ebola,” added Sanz. The triangle is a host to a variety of endangered or threatened animals including gorillas and elephants.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

Interview with Reggie Bibbs on his life with neurofibromatosis

Friday, December 14, 2007

Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a genetic condition causing benign tumors (neurofibromas) to grow along certain types of nerves and, in addition, it can affect the development of bones or skin. There are several variants of the disease but type 1 and type 2 NF account for the vast majority of cases.

The disease manifestations can vary from very mild to severe. Major symptoms include growths on and under the skin; skin pigmentations called café au lait spots in type 1; acoustic nerve tumors and consequent hearing loss in type 2. Growths can affect nearly all parts of the body, and pressure on nearby structures can cause a wide variety of complications. There is a small risk that the tumors transform into malignant cancerous lesions.

NF is one of the most common single-gene human diseases; around 1 in 2,500-4,000 live births are affected by NF-1, whereas NF-2 occurs in about 1 in 50,000-120,000. Both type 1 and 2 are autosomal dominant conditions, meaning that only one copy of the mutated gene need be inherited to pass the disorder. A child of a parent with neurofibromatosis and an unaffected parent will have a 50% chance of inheriting the disorder. The gene responsible for NF-1 and possibly NF-2 is thought to function as a tumor suppressor gene.

In most cases of neurofibromatosis 1, patients can live normal and productive lives. In about 25-40% of patients there is an associated learning disability with or without ADHD. In some cases of neurofibromatosis 2, the damage to nearby vital structures, such as the cranial nerves and the brainstem, can be life-threatening. When tumors are causing pain or disfiguration, surgery is thus far the only proven beneficial treatment option.

Reggie Bibbs is a 43-year-old-man living in Houston, Texas. Mr Bibbs was born with a genetic disease called neurofibromatosis (NF), which causes him to develop tumors on his body (see infobox on the right). NF can be a subtle disease, but in Bibbs’ case it has left him with a disfigured face and deformed leg. But he is happy with the way he looks, and doesn’t want to change his appearance to please other people. He has launched a successful campaign entitled “Just Ask”, and that’s just what Wikinews did in a video-interview.

The interview was prepared by Wikinews reporter Michaël Laurent with the help of Bertalan Meskó (who has a popular genetics and web 2.0 blog). Their questions were sent to a close friend of Mr. Bibbs, Lou Congelio, who kindly conducted the interview.

Contents

  • 1 Infobox: What is neurofibromatosis?
  • 2 The interview
    • 2.1 On neurofibromatosis
    • 2.2 Growing up
    • 2.3 A head to toe body tour
    • 2.4 The daily life of Reggie Bibbs
    • 2.5 Raising awareness and his campaign
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Pennsylvania state trooper found guilty of first-degree murder

Friday, March 20, 2009

In the United States, a suspended Pennsylvania state trooper has been convicted of first-degree murder for killing his girlfriend’s estranged husband.

Kevin Foley, 43, faces a mandatory life sentence without parole for slashing to death John Yelenic, a Blairsville dentist who was in the final stages of divorcing his wife, Michele. Foley’s attorney said he plans to appeal the decision. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.

Foley previously said he “loathed Dr. Yelenic” and asked another fellow trooper to help kill him. During his testimony, which lasted several hours, Foley claimed he was joking and had no true intention of carrying out the threat, but the Indiana County jury rejected that defense after about six hours of deliberations.

John Yelenic was found dead in his home on April 13, 2006, one day before he was planning on signing his divorce papers. Charges were brought against Foley in September 2007, more than 17 months after the murder.

Foley, who had been on suspension from the Pennsylvania State Police, was himself the final witness to take the stand Wednesday in the trial. Foley insisted he was innocent during his testimony, and even made jokes that the jury laughed at on a few occasions.

“I never made a threat with the intention of carrying it out,” Foley said under cross-examination by the prosecution.

When Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony Krastek pressed Foley for what was funny about asking another state trooper to help him kill Yelenic, Foley answered, “There isn’t any joke. It’s just my personality, my behavior (with co-workers).”

Prosecutors said Foley killed Yelenic after going to the dentist’s house to confront him over the terms of the divorce. Prosecutors claim Foley slashed Yelenic several times with a knife and pushed his head through a small window. Yelenic bled to death.

“John has his justice tonight,” Mary Ann Clark, a cousin of Yelenic, told MSNBC. “John deserved this; he was the most wonderful person in the world. He died the most horrible death and tonight, this is his night. The system worked.”

Foley had been living with Michele Yelenic for two years at the time of the homicide. Prosecutors previously said Foley and Michele helped perpetuate rumors that Dr. Yelenic molested their son. John and Michele Yelenic had been separated in 2002. Michele Yelenic stood to collect Dr. Yelenic’s estate and a US$1 million life insurance policy, and could lose about $2,500 a month in support if the divorce was finalized, a Pennsylvania grand jury previously determined.

Michele Yelenic, who has not appeared at the trial, may face legal action herself, media reports indicated. A sentencing hearing for Foley is scheduled for June 1.

Altered HIV a potential cancer treatment?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

At UCLA, a team of researchers has developed a harmless version of HIV that is designed to seek out, and potentially destroy, cancer cells.

In a laboratory-mouse experiment, the treated cells headed directly for melonoma and lung cancer cells, clustering around them with a surprising level of intuitiveness. Gene therapy for cancer has been at an impasse for the last 20 years, said the team, but now an effective carrier has been found in the most unlikely of sources. Essentially, one of the world’s largest health threats is now being considered to fight another.

Says Dr. Irvin Chen, from UCLA’s AIDS Institute, “The disarmed AIDS virus acts like a Trojan horse, transporting therapeutic agents to a targeted part of the body, such as the lungs, where tumors often spread.”

First the virus’s coating is removed and the virus is reprogrammed so that it recognizes and attaches to the p-lipoproteins of a cancer cell, one of cancer’s primary defenses. The retro-virus was also altered with a fluorescent protein for easy tracking within the lab mice. The next step will be to graft a cancer-killing gene onto the modified AIDS virus’s genetic structure.

Currently, a case of melanoma skin cancer spreading to the lungs is a confirmed death sentence. Should this method of treatment improve into a workable treatment, both life-threatening cancers and the AIDS retro-virus could be effectively neutered. But the team cautions that the treatment is in the very early stages and will take several more years to develop.

UK shopping centre Afflecks Palace secures its future

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Afflecks Palace, the “iconic, alternative shopping centre” in the Northern Quarter of Manchester in England, United Kingdom, was saved from closure this week after long-running rumours that the market may have to “kick out its traders” due to a dispute between the management of the Afflecks Palace brand and the leaseowner for the building, Bruntwood.

Rumours suggesting that Bruntwood were looking to redevelop the building started early in 2007, when it became apparent that the property developer was not actively seeking to renew the twenty-five year lease that the management of Afflecks Palace had with them concerning the building. These initial fears were added to by news that Bruntwood was looking to redevelop other buildings it owned in the Northern Quarter area, specifically the parking complex opposite Afflecks, with an eye towards taking advantage of the “property boom” in Manchester at the time. There were also fears that if Afflecks did remain open, “rents would rise”.

These initial fears were eventually propagated closer to the end of the year when a letter from the management of Afflecks Palace told individual stall holders that “… management have received no formal response from Bruntwood to a tenancy request notice served in October [2007]”, going on to add that “We can only assume therefore that they do not intend to offer us a new lease”.

Following the release of this letter, public support for Afflecks Palace was quickly made obvious when a 5,000 signature petition was submitted demanding the centre remain open for business. This seemed to prompt talks between Bruntwood and the Afflecks Palace management and, eventually, lead to this week’s news that the market was – indeed – to remain open. The result of the talks was that Bruntwood “bought out” the Afflecks Palace brand.

Bruntwood will manage Afflecks while they look for a new owner who is skilled in running market style businesses

A joint statement between the management of Afflecks Palace and Bruntwood said: “After 26 years of trading, Afflecks’ management has sold their company to Bruntwood in an agreement that protects the future of Afflecks. Bruntwood will manage Afflecks while they look for a new owner who is skilled in running market style businesses and can bring a similar level of enthusiasm and dedication that the existing management has.”

A spokesperson speaking on behalf of Bruntwood also added that: “Never in our 30 year history have we bought one of our customer’s businesses, but Afflecks is a Manchester icon that we wanted to protect. We aren’t however expert in managing markets, so will look for a suitable long term owner. In the meantime, the most important aspect is that we have arrived at a solution with Afflecks management that protects an independent retail environment and provides the existing stallholders with security.”

Traders from the market celebrated the news by holding a party yesterday.

Category:Jewellery

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“Creationism and intelligent design have no place in the UK science curriculum” says UK Government

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Government is clear that creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science.

The U.K. government defined Intelligent Design along with creationism as religion and ruled that neither has a place within the country’s school science curriculum.

This was in reaction to an electronic petition launched by James Rocks of the “Science, Just Science” campaign, a group formed to oppose “Truth in Science” and other groups in the anti-evolution lobby in the UK. The petition was signed by 1,505 people.

In the petition details, Rocks wrote, “Creationism & Intelligent design are greatly featured in the media and are being used disingenuously to portray science & the theory of evolution as being in crisis when they are not. Moreover groups such as Truth in Science are targeting our nation’s children and their science education with material that is not only non-scientific but have been rejected by the scientific community. These ideas therefore do not constitute science, cannot be considered scientific education and therefore do not belong in the nation’s science classrooms.”

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s office wrote: “The (UK) Government is aware that a number of concerns have been raised in the media and elsewhere as to whether creationism and intelligent design have a place in science lessons. The [UK] Government is clear that creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science.”

The government will also be “publishing guidance for schools, on the way creationism and intelligent design relate to science teaching”.

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