Honda Civic tops Canada’s list of most stolen cars

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The 1999 and 2000 year model Honda Civic SiR tops the list of Canada’s most stolen cars.

Consumer popularity also assures the cars will be popular with thieves. Its the second year in a row the Honda SiR has topped the list.

Rick Dubin Vice President of Investigations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada said “The Civics are easy targets.”

Dubin said that once stolen, the cars are most often sold to “chop shops” where thieves completely dismantle the vehicles. The automobile’s individual parts are worth more than the entire car.

The sheer numbers of the cars and their lack of theft deterrent systems make them thieves’ preferred choices.

1999 and 2000 Honda Civics do not come with an electronic immobilizer, however all Hondas from 2001 and onward are equipped with an immobilizer. Immobilizers will be mandatory on all new cars sold beginning September 2007. The devices enable an engine computer to recognize an electronic code in the key. If the code in the key and the engine don’t match exactly, the vehicle can’t be started.

In third place was the 2004 Subaru Impreza, while the 1999 Acura Integra came in fourth, with the 1994 Honda Civic rounding out the top five.

In sixth place, the 1998 Acura Integra, and the 1993 Dodge Shadow completed seventh.

When asked why early model vehicles are selected, he said that, “auto thieves continue to find it easier to steal older vehicles lacking an IBC-approved immobilizer. We’ve seen this trend developing for several years, and these results confirm it.”

Another Honda automobile, the 1996 year model Civic filled eighth place, with the 2000 German Audi TT Quattro in ninth.

The American 1996 Chevrolet/GMC Blazer rounded out the top ten.

None of the above cars had an electronic immobilizer.

Fur fans flock to Toronto’s Furnal Equinox 2019

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Monday, March 25, 2019

From March 15 to 17, the Canadian city of Toronto played host to the tenth Furnal Equinox, an annual event dedicated to the “furry fandom.” Wikinews attended. Programming ranged from music to gender, science to art, covering dozens of aspects of the varied subculture. The event’s featured guests were visual artists Moth Monarch and Cat-Monk Shiro, as well as the co-owners of US fursuit costume builders Don’t Hug Cacti.

The event raised nearly CDN$11,000 for Pet Patrol, a non-profit rescue organization in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, run by volunteers. This exceeded their goal of $10,000, the funds needed to finish a rural sanctuary. The furry community is well-known for their charitable efforts. Along with direct donations, the funds were raised through a charity auction offering original artwork, and a fursuit design by guests of honour “Don’t Hug Cacti.” Last year, Furnal Equinox raised funds for a farm animal sanctuary.

While only 10–15% of people within the fandom own a fursuit according to a 2011 study, event organizers reported this year 908 of the 2240 attendees at Furnal Equinox brought at least one elaborate outfit to the event. The outfits are usually based on original characters, known as “fursonas”.

Guests of Honour Cherie and Sean O’Donnell, known within the community as “Lucky and Skuff Coyote”, held a session on fursuit construction on Saturday afternoon. The married couple are among the most prominent builders in the fandom, under the name Don’t Hug Cacti. The scale of their business was evident, as Sean had made over a thousand pairs of “handpaws”, costume gloves.

The couple encouraged attendees to continue developing their technique, sharing that all professional fursuit makers had developed different techniques. They felt that they learned more from failed projects than successful ones, citing the Chuck Jones quote that “every artist has thousands of bad drawings,” and that you have to work through them to achieve. Cherie, known as Lucky, recalled receiving a Sylvester the Cat plush toy from a Six Flags theme park at age 10. She promptly hollowed the toy out, turning it into a costume. Creating a costume isn’t without its hazards: the company uses 450°F (232°C) glue guns. They’re “like sticking your hand in an oven.”

Other programming included improv comedy, dances, life drawing of fursuiters, a review of scientific research by a research group at four universities called FurScience, a pin collector’s social, and workshops in writing.

The “Dealer’s Den” hall was expanded this year, with even more retailers and artists. While many offered “furry” versions of traditional products, at least one business focused on “pushing the boundaries of fursuit technology.” Along with 3D printing a bone-shaped name tag when Wikinews visited, Grivik was demonstrating miniature computer screens that could be used as “eyes” for a fursuit. The electronic displays projected an animation of eyes looking around, blinking occasionally. The maker has also developed “a way to install a camera inside suit heads, to improve fursuiter visibility.” He hopes the tech would reduce suiting risks and accidents. Without the need for eyeholes, fursuit makers would have “more options for building different eyestyles.”

National Museum of Scotland reopens after three-year redevelopment

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Today sees the reopening of the National Museum of Scotland following a three-year renovation costing £47.4 million (US$ 77.3 million). Edinburgh’s Chambers Street was closed to traffic for the morning, with the 10am reopening by eleven-year-old Bryony Hare, who took her first steps in the museum, and won a competition organised by the local Evening News paper to be a VIP guest at the event. Prior to the opening, Wikinews toured the renovated museum, viewing the new galleries, and some of the 8,000 objects inside.

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Dressed in Victorian attire, Scottish broadcaster Grant Stott acted as master of ceremonies over festivities starting shortly after 9am. The packed street cheered an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex created by Millenium FX; onlookers were entertained with a twenty-minute performance by the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers on the steps of the museum; then, following Bryony Hare knocking three times on the original doors to ask that the museum be opened, the ceremony was heralded with a specially composed fanfare – played on a replica of the museum’s 2,000-year-old carnyx Celtic war-horn. During the fanfare, two abseilers unfurled white pennons down either side of the original entrance.

The completion of the opening to the public was marked with Chinese firecrackers, and fireworks, being set off on the museum roof. As the public crowded into the museum, the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers resumed their performance; a street theatre group mingled with the large crowd, and the animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex entertained the thinning crowd of onlookers in the centre of the street.

On Wednesday, the museum welcomed the world’s press for an in depth preview of the new visitor experience. Wikinews was represented by Brian McNeil, who is also Wikimedia UK’s interim liaison with Museum Galleries Scotland.

The new pavement-level Entrance Hall saw journalists mingle with curators. The director, Gordon Rintoul, introduced presentations by Gareth Hoskins and Ralph Applebaum, respective heads of the Architects and Building Design Team; and, the designers responsible for the rejuvenation of the museum.

Describing himself as a “local lad”, Hoskins reminisced about his grandfather regularly bringing him to the museum, and pushing all the buttons on the numerous interactive exhibits throughout the museum. Describing the nearly 150-year-old museum as having become “a little tired”, and a place “only visited on a rainy day”, he commented that many international visitors to Edinburgh did not realise that the building was a public space; explaining the focus was to improve access to the museum – hence the opening of street-level access – and, to “transform the complex”, focus on “opening up the building”, and “creating a number of new spaces […] that would improve facilities and really make this an experience for 21st century museum visitors”.

Hoskins explained that a “rabbit warren” of storage spaces were cleared out to provide street-level access to the museum; the floor in this “crypt-like” space being lowered by 1.5 metres to achieve this goal. Then Hoskins handed over to Applebaum, who expressed his delight to be present at the reopening.

Applebaum commented that one of his first encounters with the museum was seeing “struggling young mothers with two kids in strollers making their way up the steps”, expressing his pleasure at this being made a thing of the past. Applebaum explained that the Victorian age saw the opening of museums for public access, with the National Museum’s earlier incarnation being the “College Museum” – a “first window into this museum’s collection”.

Have you any photos of the museum, or its exhibits?

The museum itself is physically connected to the University of Edinburgh’s old college via a bridge which allowed students to move between the two buildings.

Applebaum explained that the museum will, now redeveloped, be used as a social space, with gatherings held in the Grand Gallery, “turning the museum into a social convening space mixed with knowledge”. Continuing, he praised the collections, saying they are “cultural assets [… Scotland is] turning those into real cultural capital”, and the museum is, and museums in general are, providing a sense of “social pride”.

McNeil joined the yellow group on a guided tour round the museum with one of the staff. Climbing the stairs at the rear of the Entrance Hall, the foot of the Window on the World exhibit, the group gained a first chance to see the restored Grand Gallery. This space is flooded with light from the glass ceiling three floors above, supported by 40 cast-iron columns. As may disappoint some visitors, the fish ponds have been removed; these were not an original feature, but originally installed in the 1960s – supposedly to humidify the museum; and failing in this regard. But, several curators joked that they attracted attention as “the only thing that moved” in the museum.

The museum’s original architect was Captain Francis Fowke, also responsible for the design of London’s Royal Albert Hall; his design for the then-Industrial Museum apparently inspired by Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace.

The group moved from the Grand Gallery into the Discoveries Gallery to the south side of the museum. The old red staircase is gone, and the Millennium Clock stands to the right of a newly-installed escalator, giving easier access to the upper galleries than the original staircases at each end of the Grand Gallery. Two glass elevators have also been installed, flanking the opening into the Discoveries Gallery and, providing disabled access from top-to-bottom of the museum.

The National Museum of Scotland’s origins can be traced back to 1780 when the 11th Earl of Buchan, David Stuart Erskine, formed the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; the Society being tasked with the collection and preservation of archaeological artefacts for Scotland. In 1858, control of this was passed to the government of the day and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland came into being. Items in the collection at that time were housed at various locations around the city.

On Wednesday, October 28, 1861, during a royal visit to Edinburgh by Queen Victoria, Prince-Consort Albert laid the foundation-stone for what was then intended to be the Industrial Museum. Nearly five years later, it was the second son of Victoria and Albert, Prince Alfred, the then-Duke of Edinburgh, who opened the building which was then known as the Scottish Museum of Science and Art. A full-page feature, published in the following Monday’s issue of The Scotsman covered the history leading up to the opening of the museum, those who had championed its establishment, the building of the collection which it was to house, and Edinburgh University’s donation of their Natural History collection to augment the exhibits put on public display.

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Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Closed for a little over three years, today’s reopening of the museum is seen as the “centrepiece” of National Museums Scotland’s fifteen-year plan to dramatically improve accessibility and better present their collections. Sir Andrew Grossard, chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “The reopening of the National Museum of Scotland, on time and within budget is a tremendous achievement […] Our collections tell great stories about the world, how Scots saw that world, and the disproportionate impact they had upon it. The intellectual and collecting impact of the Scottish diaspora has been profound. It is an inspiring story which has captured the imagination of our many supporters who have helped us achieve our aspirations and to whom we are profoundly grateful.

The extensive work, carried out with a view to expand publicly accessible space and display more of the museums collections, carried a £47.4 million pricetag. This was jointly funded with £16 million from the Scottish Government, and £17.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Further funds towards the work came from private sources and totalled £13.6 million. Subsequent development, as part of the longer-term £70 million “Masterplan”, is expected to be completed by 2020 and see an additional eleven galleries opened.

The funding by the Scottish Government can be seen as a ‘canny‘ investment; a report commissioned by National Museums Scotland, and produced by consultancy firm Biggar Economics, suggest the work carried out could be worth £58.1 million per year, compared with an estimated value to the economy of £48.8 prior to the 2008 closure. Visitor figures are expected to rise by over 20%; use of function facilities are predicted to increase, alongside other increases in local hospitality-sector spending.

Proudly commenting on the Scottish Government’s involvement Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, described the reopening as, “one of the nation’s cultural highlights of 2011” and says the rejuvenated museum is, “[a] must-see attraction for local and international visitors alike“. Continuing to extol the museum’s virtues, Hyslop states that it “promotes the best of Scotland and our contributions to the world.

So-far, the work carried out is estimated to have increased the public space within the museum complex by 50%. Street-level storage rooms, never before seen by the public, have been transformed into new exhibit space, and pavement-level access to the buildings provided which include a new set of visitor facilities. Architectural firm Gareth Hoskins have retained the original Grand Gallery – now the first floor of the museum – described as a “birdcage” structure and originally inspired by The Crystal Palace built in Hyde Park, London for the 1851 Great Exhibition.

The centrepiece in the Grand Gallery is the “Window on the World” exhibit, which stands around 20 metres tall and is currently one of the largest installations in any UK museum. This showcases numerous items from the museum’s collections, rising through four storeys in the centre of the museum. Alexander Hayward, the museums Keeper of Science and Technology, challenged attending journalists to imagine installing “teapots at thirty feet”.

The redeveloped museum includes the opening of sixteen brand new galleries. Housed within, are over 8,000 objects, only 20% of which have been previously seen.

  • Ground floor
  • First floor
  • Second floor
  • Top floor

The Window on the World rises through the four floors of the museum and contains over 800 objects. This includes a gyrocopter from the 1930s, the world’s largest scrimshaw – made from the jaws of a sperm whale which the University of Edinburgh requested for their collection, a number of Buddha figures, spearheads, antique tools, an old gramophone and record, a selection of old local signage, and a girder from the doomed Tay Bridge.

The arrangement of galleries around the Grand Gallery’s “birdcage” structure is organised into themes across multiple floors. The World Cultures Galleries allow visitors to explore the culture of the entire planet; Living Lands explains the ways in which our natural environment influences the way we live our lives, and the beliefs that grow out of the places we live – from the Arctic cold of North America to Australia’s deserts.

The adjacent Patterns of Life gallery shows objects ranging from the everyday, to the unusual from all over the world. The functions different objects serve at different periods in peoples’ lives are explored, and complement the contents of the Living Lands gallery.

Performance & Lives houses musical instruments from around the world, alongside masks and costumes; both rooted in long-established traditions and rituals, this displayed alongside contemporary items showing the interpretation of tradition by contemporary artists and instrument-creators.

The museum proudly bills the Facing the Sea gallery as the only one in the UK which is specifically based on the cultures of the South Pacific. It explores the rich diversity of the communities in the region, how the sea shapes the islanders’ lives – describing how their lives are shaped as much by the sea as the land.

Both the Facing the Sea and Performance & Lives galleries are on the second floor, next to the new exhibition shop and foyer which leads to one of the new exhibition galleries, expected to house the visiting Amazing Mummies exhibit in February, coming from Leiden in the Netherlands.

The Inspired by Nature, Artistic Legacies, and Traditions in Sculpture galleries take up most of the east side of the upper floor of the museum. The latter of these shows the sculptors from diverse cultures have, through history, explored the possibilities in expressing oneself using metal, wood, or stone. The Inspired by Nature gallery shows how many artists, including contemporary ones, draw their influence from the world around us – often commenting on our own human impact on that natural world.

Contrastingly, the Artistic Legacies gallery compares more traditional art and the work of modern artists. The displayed exhibits attempt to show how people, in creating specific art objects, attempt to illustrate the human spirit, the cultures they are familiar with, and the imaginative input of the objects’ creators.

The easternmost side of the museum, adjacent to Edinburgh University’s Old College, will bring back memories for many regular visitors to the museum; but, with an extensive array of new items. The museum’s dedicated taxidermy staff have produced a wide variety of fresh examples from the natural world.

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At ground level, the Animal World and Wildlife Panorama’s most imposing exhibit is probably the lifesize reproduction of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. This rubs shoulders with other examples from around the world, including one of a pair of elephants. The on-display elephant could not be removed whilst renovation work was underway, and lurked in a corner of the gallery as work went on around it.

Above, in the Animal Senses gallery, are examples of how we experience the world through our senses, and contrasting examples of wildly differing senses, or extremes of such, present in the natural world. This gallery also has giant screens, suspended in the free space, which show footage ranging from the most tranquil and peaceful life in the sea to the tooth-and-claw bloody savagery of nature.

The Survival gallery gives visitors a look into the ever-ongoing nature of evolution; the causes of some species dying out while others thrive, and the ability of any species to adapt as a method of avoiding extinction.

Earth in Space puts our place in the universe in perspective. Housing Europe’s oldest surviving Astrolabe, dating from the eleventh century, this gallery gives an opportunity to see the technology invented to allow us to look into the big questions about what lies beyond Earth, and probe the origins of the universe and life.

In contrast, the Restless Earth gallery shows examples of the rocks and minerals formed through geological processes here on earth. The continual processes of the planet are explored alongside their impact on human life. An impressive collection of geological specimens are complemented with educational multimedia presentations.

Beyond working on new galleries, and the main redevelopment, the transformation team have revamped galleries that will be familiar to regular past visitors to the museum.

Formerly known as the Ivy Wu Gallery of East Asian Art, the Looking East gallery showcases National Museums Scotland’s extensive collection of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese material. The gallery’s creation was originally sponsored by Sir Gordon Wu, and named after his wife Ivy. It contains items from the last dynasty, the Manchu, and examples of traditional ceramic work. Japan is represented through artefacts from ordinary people’s lives, expositions on the role of the Samurai, and early trade with the West. Korean objects also show the country’s ceramic work, clothing, and traditional accessories used, and worn, by the indigenous people.

The Ancient Egypt gallery has always been a favourite of visitors to the museum. A great many of the exhibits in this space were returned to Scotland from late 19th century excavations; and, are arranged to take visitors through the rituals, and objects associated with, life, death, and the afterlife, as viewed from an Egyptian perspective.

The Art and Industry and European Styles galleries, respectively, show how designs are arrived at and turned into manufactured objects, and the evolution of European style – financed and sponsored by a wide range of artists and patrons. A large number of the objects on display, often purchased or commissioned, by Scots, are now on display for the first time ever.

Shaping our World encourages visitors to take a fresh look at technological objects developed over the last 200 years, many of which are so integrated into our lives that they are taken for granted. Radio, transportation, and modern medicines are covered, with a retrospective on the people who developed many of the items we rely on daily.

What was known as the Museum of Scotland, a modern addition to the classical Victorian-era museum, is now known as the Scottish Galleries following the renovation of the main building.

This dedicated newer wing to the now-integrated National Museum of Scotland covers the history of Scotland from a time before there were people living in the country. The geological timescale is covered in the Beginnings gallery, showing continents arranging themselves into what people today see as familiar outlines on modern-day maps.

Just next door, the history of the earliest occupants of Scotland are on display; hunters and gatherers from around 4,000 B.C give way to farmers in the Early People exhibits.

The Kingdom of the Scots follows Scotland becoming a recognisable nation, and a kingdom ruled over by the Stewart dynasty. Moving closer to modern-times, the Scotland Transformed gallery looks at the country’s history post-union in 1707.

Industry and Empire showcases Scotland’s significant place in the world as a source of heavy engineering work in the form of rail engineering and shipbuilding – key components in the building of the British Empire. Naturally, whisky was another globally-recognised export introduced to the world during empire-building.

Lastly, Scotland: A Changing Nation collects less-tangible items, including personal accounts, from the country’s journey through the 20th century; the social history of Scots, and progress towards being a multicultural nation, is explored through heavy use of multimedia exhibits.

Sewerage project starts in Pakistan

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Friday, January 19, 2007

In Pakistan, the Daily Times reported that construction work on a sewerage project has started in Pindi.

It said that the construction work for the Rawalpindi Environment Improvement Project (REIP) aims to lay a new underground drainage and sewerage system in the area.

The project director of REIP, Aslam Sabzwari, said, according to the report, that improvement of sanitation and sewerage system had started in the eastern zone of the city, consisting of 15 union councils (UCs). The project includes improvement of the sanitation and sewerage systems, a sewage treatment plant, solid waste management, removal of slaughter-houses and construction of public toilets.

Sabzwari also said that 22 new tube wells would be installed, while 32 old ones would be repaired under the project, recalling that the existing sewerage systems in Satellite Town and Kahyabane-Sirsyed were laid in the 1950s and 1969s, respectively, and were the main cause of the increasing case of hepatitis in the city.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Punjab government sponsor the REIP.

News briefs:July 28, 2010

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Finding The Best Emergency Plumber In Washington, Dc

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byAlma Abell

Homeowners rarely think about how they would deal with a plumbing emergency. Since emergencies are uncommon, it is easy to ignore the potential for a serious water leak, sewer backup or water heater failure. When the inevitable happens – and it will – most people simply head for the phone book. That is not always the best idea. Finding an Emergency Plumber in Washington DC should start before any real problem occurs.

Plumbers, like any other professionals, are not all the same. Some tend to specialize in specific types of repairs. Others prefer to work only on new construction. Others, like John C. Flood Inc.routinely work with a variety of clients needing plumbing and HVAC maintenance, repair or equipment replacement services. That type of service often starts with recommending routine maintenance to avoid emergency repairs.

Plumbing, like any other component of modern homes, requires regular inspections and maintenance to prevent any part of the system from failing. While homeowners typically think of a pipe bursting or a water heater failing as emergencies, many other plumbing issues can create problems. A sump pump failing over a long, rainy weekend, for example, can quickly cause catastrophic damage to finished basements. Sewer lines backing up can rapidly result in sludge filling the shower or tub. Whatever the problem, regular maintenance often could have prevented it from occurring.

Of course not all problems can be prevented, but if a plumbing professional routinely visits the home, homeowners know who to call. Water heaters, as an example, may fail without warning – there simply will not be any hot water when the tap is turned on. While homeowners can quickly check electrical breakers or see if gas burners are lit, other items should be left to a professional plumber. Most plumbers carry an assortment of commonly needed water heater parts, and can quickly repair the units. However, it may not be cost effective to repair an older unit or one that needs multiple parts. When that happens, the plumber can offer advice on replacement options.

An Emergency Plumber in Washington DC, especially one already familiar with the property, can handle virtually any sewer backup, water leak or fixture repairs quickly and professionally. For an evaluation of a current plumbing system or for emergency service, visit the website for more information.

Wheelchair Rugby Tri-Nations Series begins in Sydney

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Cathedral Square, Sydney, Australia —Wikinews attended the Wheelchair Rugby Tri-Nations Series in Cathedral Square, Sydney, ongoing from Wednesday. This is the first time an international wheelchair rugby event has been held outdoors, and in this arena. Three nations are competing: the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

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The venue is Cathedral Square, Sydney, which is adjacent to Hyde Park. The Sydney Central Business district is on the other side of the park. An outdoor stadium has been constructed specifically for the tournament, which is believed to be the first time an international wheelchair rugby tournament has been held outdoors. This choice was validated by the fine and warm weather. Free sunscreen was given to the crowd.

The Opening Ceremony was officiated by Australian Paralympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Jason Hellwig. In attendance were the Premier of New South Wales, Barry O’Farrell, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney, Robyn Kemmis, and Paralympic swimmer Matthew Cowdrey. A large crowd, mostly consisting of school groups, was entertained by boy band Justice Crew singing their hit Best Night.

Each team is to play the others two twice, on Wednesday September 18 and Thursday September 19. Finals are to be held on Friday. All three teams are highly ranked internationally. The United States team is ranked number one in the world. It won bronze at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, gold at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, and bronze at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, and is the current world champion. This is its first visit to Australia since the 2000 Summer Paralympics.

The Australian team, known as the Steelers, is ranked second in the world. It won silver in Beijing and gold in London. The team is almost unchanged from the one that won in London. Greg Smith has become the assistant coach.

The first game, held immediately after the Opening Ceremony, was between the United States and Australia. The United States proved the better team, forcing errors and turnovers. Three turnovers in the first quarter were especially costly for the Steelers, who lost 56–43.

The second game was held at 17:30 under lights. The crowd was small, but there were a number of New Zealand fans in the crowd, including a few Maori. Two of the New Zealand players are also Maori. The well-disciplined United States team proved too good for the Wheel Blacks as well, who lost 58–40 in an entertaining contest.

The third game was at 19:30, between Australia and New Zealand. The Australians led the whole game, which was nonetheless entertaining to the last. In the dying seconds of the game, Australia’s Ryley Batt shunted a stalling New Zealand player across the line to force him to score, then threw the ball to team mate Chris Bond, who raced for the line at high speed but was beaten by the buzzer. Australia won 61–48.

The New Zealand team, known as the Wheel Blacks, is ranked tenth in the world. It won gold in Athens.

Highlights of the tournament are scheduled to be shown on Foxtel Sports in Australia on September 28 and 29.

Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

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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.

U.S. President Obama’s farewell address focuses on accomplishment

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

United States President Barack Obama gave his official farewell address on Tuesday night from McCormick Place in Chicago, reflecting on personal and national accomplishments. This is expected to be his last major speech before officially handing the reins to president-elect Donald Trump on January 20.

“Its why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.”

Obama’s speech was wide-ranging. He thanked his family and the nation, spoke of the need for unity, noted the country’s accomplishments and need for improvement in areas like education and civil rights, and spoke about the need for pride in U.S. accomplishments, citing milestones of U.S. history and of his presidency specifically. “It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.”

The president also addressed his country’s troubled history with race and racism, an issue many black citizens feel he has avoided. Despite this, Chauncy Devega of Salon described the president as “a role model of calm, cool reflective black masculinity: a man utterly at home in his own skin.” Obama described the concept of a post-racial U.S. “unrealistic” and particularly cited the need for reform in education and the criminal justice system and greater acceptance of scientific evidence, particularly evidence supporting action to counteract climate change.

However, publications including The Washington Post and Salon have given particular focus to another aspect of the president’s address: the country’s increasing political tensions and controversies involving access to news and information, both accurate and inaccurate. “We become so secure and our bubbles,” said Obama, “that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there,” calling this trend “a third threat to our democracy.”

The Washington Post characterized Obama’s comment, “If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves,” as a “not-so-subtle jab” at the campaign tactics of President-elect Donald Trump. The Telegraph describes Obama’s warnings about the need to protect democracy as “a thinly veiled slight to the divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump’s election campaign, which included attacks on Muslims, the disabled, women and immigrants.” The president went on to call on the public to “reject the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties that make us one America. We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive […] We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt and when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them. It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy.”

Despite this, when the mention of Donald Trump brought boos from the crowd, Obama reiterated the importance of the long history of peaceful transfers of power from one president to the next: “No no no no no. […] I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.” However, this was not unaccompanied by a call to action. Near the end of the speech, he insisted citizens dissatisfied with elected officials should “lace up your shoes, grab a clipboard, get some signatures and run for office yourself.”

Overall, the departing president’s speech focused on accomplishment, echoing the “Yes we can” slogan from his 2008 campaign: “If I have told you eight years ago, that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history. If I had told you, that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9/11[…] If I had told you that we would win a marriage equality and secure the right to health insurance for another twenty million of our fellow citizens. If I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high. But that’s what we did.”

But when the crowd began shouting “Four more years! Four more years!” Obama, with a small laugh, answered, “I can’t do that.”

Study: Herd animals detect Earth’s magnetic field

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Large herd animals may have the ability to detect earth’s magnetic field, concluded scientists in Germany in a report published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences after performing studies of cattle and deer grazing and sleeping patterns. The animals tended to face north-south oriented toward the earth’s magnetic poles. Hynek Burda of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany led the team that announced the unconfirmed study. Burda and his team gathered cattle data via analysis of Google Earth images.

The team originally intended to test for possible human magnetic field detection by studying the orientation of sleeping bags in outdoor campers, but it proved difficult to obtain data because humans usually slept under tents. Cattle were easier to observe, and 8,510 head of cattle at 308 locations demonstrated a strong tendency to align body orientation in accordance with the earth’s magnetic field. Other possible factors such as wind or sunlight direction did not supply a better explanation for the behavior.

I think the really amazing thing is that hunters and herdsmen and farmers didn’t notice it.

To compare against a second large species, Burda and his team analyzed data on 2,974 deer studied through photography, direct observation, and snow imprints. The deer demonstrated a similar pattern. “I think the really amazing thing is that hunters and herdsmen and farmers didn’t notice it,” said Burda according to a National Public Radio report.

Other scientists found the results of the study intriguing. Peter August of the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, commented: “I was really amazed at the consistency with which they found north-facing cows and deer. It was really intriguing.” No independent study has yet confirmed the Duisburg-Essen team’s findings.

This is the first study that indicates magnetic field detection in large mammals. Burda’s previous research involves naked mole rats, a small blind mammal species whose behavior indicates an internal magnetic compass. According to a report by Jeremy Hsu at MSNBC, “Previous research has shown that animals such as birds, turtles and salmon migrate using a sense of magnetic direction, and small mammals such as rodents and one bat species also have a magnetic compass.”

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