22 January

European Union to fund scheme to reduce aircraft emissions and noise pollution

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The European Union (EU) has announced plans to fund a private-public scheme dubbed “Clean Sky” to reduce aircraft emissions and noise pollution in European aircraft. Officials claim that the project will have large-scale economic benefits, will reduce jet engine carbon emissions by 20 to 40 percent and will therefore offset the large growth in commercial air travel. The proposal comes at a time when European officials are under heavy criticism for not doing enough to reduce aircraft emissions.

The new proposal is outlined in a document that is reported to be likely to be passed by the European Commission. The document says that “Not launching Clean Sky soon will put the European industry in a position of competitive disadvantage, with negative repercussions not only for the industry itself but also for the EU as a whole,” and goes on to point out that the US has a comparable scheme, the National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy, and points out that progress is beginning to be made in the area by Brazil, Russia, China and India. The paper also highlights the need for public spending in the scheme to ensure it does not fall behind international development. The commission has argued that “the present value, at 2006 prices, of the cumulative direct effect over the period 2010-2035 of Clean Sky on economic output in the EU has been estimated to approximately €100 billion to €160 billion reflecting increased operating profits, labor expenditures, capital investment and other direct effects.”

The proposal calls for the aviation industry to contribute €800 million between 2008 and 2014, with companies such as Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Saab, Thales, Dassault and Eurocopter. Universities and research institutions have also pledged support. The funding will be matched with public money from the EU, making the total cost €1.6 billion.

As well as approval by the European Commission, the plan requires approval by the individual EU member states. Britain, though infamously skeptical of large EU projects, has already voiced its support, along with several other countries.

If the project goes ahead, funding will be split between six separate main initiatives, including a “greener” engine, a “smart” fixed wing that continually readjusts itself to maintain best fuel economy, and research regarding lighter materials that could be used to replace metals in aircraft bodies and components.

According to current estimates, the 20 to 40 percent carbon emissions reduction will mean a reduction of two to three billion tons between 2015 and 2050, and the project will also reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 40 to 60 percent in the same time frame, as well as causing a 50 percent reduction in “perceived aircraft noise.”

22 January

Citizenship of Australian terrorists overseas under question

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Yesterday, Australia’s Prime Minister proposed his government might strip individuals of their Australian citizenship if authorities consider them involved in terrorist activity.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott stated, “As flagged by me in my national security statement in February, we will be legislating within a few weeks to strip dual citizens involved in terrorism of their Australian citizenship”.

The Coalition government’s bill aims to empower the immigration minister to revoke Australian citizenship of dual nationals suspected of involvement in terrorist activity.

Speaking of procedural for stripping individual citizenship, immigration minister Peter Dutton said he would take advice from intelligence agencies, such as the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

Dutton said, “We would gather as much evidence as was possible and we would make a decision whether or not we thought somebody was captured by what is a tight definition in relation to somebody committing an act of terrorism, an act preparatory to, fundraising or supporting a terrorist organisation or providing financial support or indoctrinating young people into the ways of one of these cults.”

This news comes as the Australian wife of Islamic State fighter Khaled Sharrouf, Tara Nettleton, attempts to re-enter the country with her children. Khaled’s seven-year-old son appeared in an internet image Khaled posted last year — in which the boy was holding a severed human head.

22 January

The Beauty Of Orthodontics Cosmetic Dentistry}

The Beauty of Orthodontics — Cosmetic Dentistry

by

IC

It is a very common misconception to think that orthodontic treatments are only meant for teens or pre-teens who have problems with their bite which is also referred to as malocclusion, today we know better which is why orthodontic procedures are also being recommended to adults who have problems related to the way their teeth are aligned.

Orthodontics — functions and aesthetics:

According to recent statistics over 35% all orthodontic patients in the US are said to be adults, this is information which is very congruent with the trend described above, while this is a good move from people who are concerned about the way they looked about the way they are handling their oral health it is first and foremost recommended to get that orthodontic evaluation during our early years, the best age to receive this treatment is around seven years of age.

Orthodontics is considered a restorative procedure because malocclusion can interfere with the way a person speaks and can also cause eating problems furthermore, malocclusion is also said to be the cause of missaligned facial jaw lines which can turn out to be a cosmetic issue later on in a persons life.

Regardless of age orthodontics can surely protect a persons bite, it can also optimize the functions and effectiveness of our teeth and create a beautiful smile all at the same time. Orthodontics provides better support for the crown of the tooth by repositioning or rearranging the way they are currently placed in our mouth, rearranging the teeth produces a sense of comfort and aesthetic appeal which gets better as time goes by and the persons teeth become perfectly aligned.

While it is not immediately noticeable, the result of orthodontics can also rejuvenate a person by reshaping jaw the lips and even the neck of the person who is undergoing such treatment, maxillofacial procedures are also perfectly complement the results achieved through a good orthodontics treatment.

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Article Source:

The Beauty of Orthodontics — Cosmetic Dentistry

}

22 January

U.S. Senate passes landmark health care reform bill

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The United States Senate has approved a hard-fought measure to overhaul the health care system. The vote will be followed by the difficult process of reconciling the Senate-passed bill with one approved by the House of Representatives, in order to get a final measure to President Barack Obama.

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“The yeas are 60, the nays are 39. H.R. 3590 as amended, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is passed,” Vice President Joe Biden announced. Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky did not show up for the vote leading to the 39 nays. Mike Reynard, a spokesman for Bunning, said in an e-mail that “The senator had family commitments.”

The vice president presided over the Senate at the time of the vote in his role as President of the United States Senate.

As expected, Republicans voted against the bill while all Democrats and two Independents, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, voted for it.

At an estimated $87 billion, the measure would expand health insurance coverage to about 30 million more Americans currently without it, and create new private insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, to expand choice.

And, like the slightly more expensive measure passed by the House of Representatives, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, it would end a practice by private insurance companies of denying coverage to individuals with existing health problems.

Both the Senate and House measures would require nearly all Americans to purchase some form of insurance, while lower-income Americans would receive help from federal government subsidies.

This is a victory because we have affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is a right and not merely a privilege for the select few.

In remarks before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, said opponents had done everything they could to prevent the vote from taking place.

Speaking to reporters, Reid and others hailed the vote as a victory and a major step toward providing millions more Americans with access to health care. “This is a victory because we have affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is a right and not merely a privilege for the select few,” Reid said.

Reid and others including Robert Byrd, the 92-year-old Democrat from West Virginia, paid tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy, who died this past August after spending decades of his career in the Senate pursuing health care reform.

When casting his vote Byrd said, “Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy. Aye.”

Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Senator Kennedy, watched the proceedings from the Senate visitor’s gallery, as did Representative John Dingell, Democrat from Michigan, who has been a long time advocate of health care reform and who sponsored and introduced the House version of the health care reform bill.

In the final hours of debate on the Senate bill, Republicans asserted it would be ineffective and add sharply to the U.S. budget deficit.

Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy. Aye.

Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican from Alabama said of the bill, “This legislation may have a great vision, it may have a great idea about trying to make the system work better. But it does not. These are huge costs [and] it’s not financially sound.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to defeat the bill when the Senate reconvenes in January saying, “This fight is not over. This fight is long from over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law.”

Senator Olympia Snowe, a moderate Republican from Maine who helped approved the Senate Finance Committee’s version of health care reform, the America’s Healthy Future Act, earlier in the year and who remarked she may not vote on the final bill, said, “I was extremely disappointed,” noting that when the Democrats reached their needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, “there was zero opportunity to amend the bill or modify it, and Democrats had no incentive to reach across the aisle.”

Ahead are difficult negotiations with the House of Representatives to craft a final bill President Obama would sign into law. These talks, which will formally get under way early in the new year, will take place amid anger among many liberal House Democrats the Senate bill failed to contain a government-run public health insurance option.

This fight is not over. This fight is long from over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law.

Members of the House Progressive Caucus have vowed to fight to keep this public option in any final legislation that emerges, along with other provisions they say are needed to protect lower and middle-income Americans and hold insurance companies accountable.

In a statement, the Democratic chairmen of three key House committees said while there are clear differences between House and Senate bills, both will bring fundamental health care coverage to millions who are currently uninsured.

Obama administration officials have been quoted as saying they anticipate negotiations on a final bill would not be complete until after the President’s State of the Union Address in January, and could slip even later into the new year.

If passed, this will be the most important piece of social policy since the Social Security Act in the 1930s, and the most important reform of our health care system since Medicare passed in the 1960s.

President Obama issued a statement to the press in the State Dining Room in the White House saying that the vote is “legislation that brings us toward the end of a nearly century-long struggle to reform America’s health care system.”

He also pointed out the bill’s strengths, noting, “The reform bill that passed the Senate this morning, like the House bill, includes the toughest measures ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny you coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition. They will no longer be able to drop your coverage when you get sick. No longer will you have to pay unlimited amounts out of your own pocket for the treatments you need. And you’ll be able to appeal unfair decisions by insurance companies to an independent party.”

He also noted how historic the bill is, saying, “If passed, this will be the most important piece of social policy since the Social Security Act in the 1930s, and the most important reform of our health care system since Medicare passed in the 1960s.”

Obama noted the potential social impact, saying, “It’s the impact reform will have on Americans who no longer have to go without a checkup or prescriptions that they need because they can’t afford them; on families who no longer have to worry that a single illness will send them into financial ruin; and on businesses that will no longer face exorbitant insurance rates that hamper their competitiveness.”

Obama afterwards made phone calls to various Senators and other people, including Victoria Kennedy and David Turner of Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr. Turner had his health insurance rescinded in January of last year, after his insurance company went back into his record and alleged that he failed to disclose his full medical record at the time he applied for coverage. Turner was First Lady Michelle Obama’s guest during her husband’s speech to a joint session of Congress on health care reform back in September.

21 January

Chicago Metra considers selling naming rights for train lines, stations

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chicago’s Metra is currently considering the possibility of selling the naming rights to its train stations, rail lines, and even bridges to generate more revenue. 

The regional rail system for Chicago and its surrounding suburbs has been experiencing revenue shortfalls, along with other public transportation agencies such as the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace. They all rely on sales taxes and fares to fund their services, but the recent recession has reduced sales tax revenues, and unemployment has caused ridership to fall. Compared to 86.8 million trips in 2008, Metra reported that only 82.3 million trips were provided in 2009. As spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said, “We’re looking at any opportunity to increase non-fare revenue.”

A law approved by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008 granted free rides to all seniors regardless of income, adding to the decreasing fare revenues as well. State lawmakers are trying to restrict the free rides to low-income seniors; Metra has not yet commented on the issue, however. 

New designs put on the agency’s website last September has attracted more traffic, and Metra is considering selling advertising space online. In addition, advertising space could be sold on the outside of train cars as well. As for the naming rights to stations and routes, Metra plans to hire a consultant that would figure out the details of such a proposal. Spokesperson Meg Reihle did not know how much money Metra could gain from the sale or which organizations would be interested in buying. 

According to Ms. Reihle, public transit agencies in other cities have sold naming rights as well, such as the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority in Cleveland and Long Island Rail Road in Long Island. TECO Energy sponsors a rail line in Tampa’s Hillsborough Area Regional Transit for US$1 million over ten years. 

Throughout its 26-year history, Metra has named several of its locomotives and renamed two stations: Ogilvie Transportation Center, which was previously named North Western Station, and Millennium Terminal, which was previously called Randolph Street. No transactions were made in renaming those two stations, however. There is also a Station named after the candy maker Mars, but that station was named before Metra took it over, and the company doesn’t pay Metra for any naming rights. 

I think the business community recognizes that transit is positive for their advertising benefit

Execuive Director Phil Pagano sees the proposal as a way for businesses to advertise themselves. “I think the business community recognizes that transit is positive for their advertising benefit,” said Mr. Pagano at a board meeting. In addition to businesses, hospitals located near the train stations could purchase naming rights as well. However, Mr. Pagano has also stated that “the agency would be selective about the type of businesses it partners with.”

Metra has said that it will be sensitive to the wishes of the communities near the stops, and town names will not be removed from station names. Rather, both the municipality and the sponsoring organization would share the naming rights, such as in renaming Naperville Station to “Naperville Boeing Station”. “I’m not sure whether [the old name] is first or second, but definitely it’s going to have to be there,” said Mr. Pagano.

20 January

Wikinews interviews organiser of New Zealand’s Rock2Wgtn festival Phil Sprey

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Across Easter weekend Wellington, New Zealand was host to Rock2Wgtn, an international two-day hard rock festival. Large crowds showed up at Westpac Stadium to see the various acts. The world has never seen an event of this kind before.

Day one featured three theatrical acts. Finnish band Lordi, known for their monster costumes, opened the night. They were followed by the US shock rocker Alice Cooper, whose themed set included the horror theatrics regularly associated with him and a hanging stunt he recently restarted after a gallows collapse nearly killed him two decades ago. The night was headlined by the distinctively costumed band KISS, complete with their famed black-and-white makeup.

The first major act on the stage on day two was the American hard rock/glam metal band Poison. After Poison, British act Whitesnake took to the stage and performed their set to the crowd. British-born American rocker Ozzy Osbourne, who, as well as a solo career, fronts the world-famous Black Sabbath, was the second night’s headline act.

The festival’s entertainment did not stop at the six main acts. There was also support performances from three New Zealand bands – The Symphony of Screams, The Valves and Sonic Altar. Their sets were accompanied by a special effects package from award-winning studio Weta Workshops, who are known for their work on movies such as The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. This came in the form of ‘Drusila the Dragon’, which rose up to a height of six foot and wigspan and moved for the audience, shining lasers from its eyes and breathing red smoke. Flame Fire Productions were hired to put on a fire show featuring several dancers alongside the performers. Also performing were six local guitarists and a group of ‘zombie‘ cheerleaders.

Despite the crowds that flocked to the event, however, it has recently become apparent that financial trouble has hit the festival. Although figures remain to be confirmed, an estimated NZ$750,000 has been lost.

Wikinews secured an exclusive interview with Phil Sprey of Capital C Concerts, who organised the festival. The entire interview is now available below.

20 January

UN Secretary-General expresses concern about crises in Chad, Kenya, Sudan

Thursday, February 7, 2008

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern about crises in Chad, Kenya, and the Sudan. The U.N. chief is recently back from Africa where he attended the African Union summit in Ethiopia and met with leaders in Kenya.

On rebel efforts to overthrow the government in Chad in recent days, the secretary-general welcomed an African Union initiative to have the leaders of Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo mediate the crisis. He says the United Nations will do its utmost to help resolve the crisis, urging the Security Council to act swiftly to help bring an end to the violence.

“It has devastating consequences not only for the people of Chad and Darfurian refugees seeking shelter there, but also for Darfur itself,” said Ban.

Mr. Ban told reporters the situation in the neighboring Darfur region of Sudan is no less troubling. He says the deployment of the AU-U.N. peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID, must be sped up and urged member states to properly equip the troops.

“UNAMID still lacks required aviation and ground transportation – chiefly helicopters. Additional troops will not make up for this shortfall,” said Ban. “Those countries that called for intervention in Darfur are under special obligation to deliver on their promises.”

While at the AU summit, Mr. Ban says he discussed some of the outstanding issues affecting the deployment with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and he expects the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to be signed this week. But Mr. Ban remained vague on whether some of the agreement’s sticking points – such as night flights, land agreements, and advance notice of U.N. movements – had been settled.

On Kenya, Mr. Ban says he has been deeply engaged in the post-election crisis and told political leaders during his visit there that they bear particular responsibility for the future of Kenya.

“I stressed to all the Kenyan leaders the need to stop the unacceptable violence and killings, and to resolve their differences through dialogue and democratic process. I also appealed to all the political leaders to think beyond their individual interests or party lines and to look to the future of Kenya as one country,” he said.

Mr. Ban also met in Nairobi with his U.N. predecessor, Kofi Annan, who is leading the panel of eminent Africans trying to mediate the crisis, and said they discussed his roadmap for the talks.

Security of U.N. personnel in Africa and elsewhere has been high on the secretary-general’s agenda, especially in the wake of the December bombing in Algeria that killed 17 staff members. Mr. Ban announced that he is naming diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi to chair an independent panel on safety and security of U.N. personnel and premises. Brahimi is an Algerian, but Mr. Ban says he has no concerns about his fairness or objectivity in heading up the panel.

20 January

Republican leaders in US want more tax relief in economic stimulus

Monday, January 26, 2009

As the newly inaugurated Barack Obama administration continues to push for a US$825 billion stimulus package to aid the struggling United States economy, some Republican legislators say they will not vote for such a plan without the inclusion of more tax cuts and less “unnecessary” spending.

Arizona Senator John McCain, Obama’s general election opponent and a leading voice within the Republican Party, says he would not vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan as it currently stands. Appearing on Fox News Sunday yesterday, McCain echoed his campaign platform in saying, “We need to make tax cuts permanent, and we need to make a commitment that there’ll be no new taxes.”

McCain and other Republicans say they are unhappy with the bill introduced in the House of Representatives, which combines roughly $550 billion in domestic spending with $275 billion in tax cuts. McCain believes not enough Republican proposals have been integrated into the plan, which he fears will result in the plan becoming “just another spending project” rather than a job creator.

“Republicans have not been brought in, to the degree that we should be in, to these negotiations and discussions. So far, as far as I can tell, no Republican proposal has been incorporated,” McCain said. “We’re losing sight of what the stimulus is all about, and that is job creation.”

The Arizona senator is known for his bipartisan efforts in Washington, D.C., but he defined his role in the new Senate as the “loyal opposition”, which does not mean “that I or my party will be a rubber stamp” for Obama, he said.

In his first weekly address since being sworn in, President Obama explained the stimulus plan in further detail, calling it a plan to “immediately jumpstart job creation as well as long-term economic growth.” He outlined several of the bill’s priorities, including the creation or salvation of up to four million jobs, as well as sweeping investments in health care, education, energy and infrastructure.

Among these investments are a new electricity grid with more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines, the weatherization of 2.5 million homes, health insurance protection for more than 8 million Americans, a renovation of over 10,000 schools, a project to repair thousands of miles of roadways, and an expansion of broadband Internet access.

Obama also laid out the rationale behind the stimulus, saying that “unprecedented action” is necessary in order to prevent further economic distress. “Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four,” Obama said. “In short, if we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.”

The president addressed the skepticism surrounding the stimulus package, pledging to “root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending”, while holding the government accountable for its actions. “We won’t just throw money at our problems,” Obama said. “We’ll invest in what works.”

Still, Republicans such as House Minority Leader John Boehner are skeptical of the plan’s effectiveness in rebuilding the economy. “I think a lot of Republicans will vote no because it’s a lot of wasteful Washington spending”, he commented on Meet the Press, repeating McCain’s call for less federal spending and more tax cuts.

Examples of “wasteful” spending cited by Republicans include millions of coupons to aid in the digital television transition, $200 million for new sod on the National Mall, and $360 million to fight sexually transmitted diseases, which includes funding for contraceptives. House Republicans have claimed it will take 10 years before the economy feels the effect of a stimulus, and that the combined spending of the stimulus and the financial bailouts of last year will leave future generations with over $2 trillion of debt.

In response to the stimulus plan being pushed through Congress, Boehner and Republican Whip Eric Cantor presented Obama with an alternative stimulus plan on Friday, one that relies exclusively on income and business tax cuts. “Our plan offers fast-acting tax relief, not slow-moving and wasteful government spending,” Boehner said. The counterproposal includes an income tax reduction that would save families an estimated $3,200 a year.

Despite this opposition, the stimulus bill is expected to pass through Congress by mid-February, as the Republican minority does not have enough votes to stop its approval. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed a general support of the plan at a White House meeting with Obama and other congressional leaders. “I do think we’ll be able to meet the president’s deadline of getting the package to him by mid-February,” McConnell said. The bill is expected to go before Congress for a vote on Monday, February 2.

Obama’s top economic adviser Lawrence Summers defended the stimulus plan while on Meet the Press. He said the bill was intended to balance the long-term initiatives mentioned above with the tax cuts desired by Republicans. He also said Obama was committed to spending three quarters of the stimulus money within 18 months.

20 January

New Zealand dog saves five children; receives international attention

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A small, “nicely trained” Jack Russell Terrier gave his life to help save a group of five children from two aggressive pitbulls last Sunday in Manaia, Taranaki, New Zealand.

The dog named George is being described as a hero, gathering a huge amount of international media interest in the process.

The dog suffered massive injuries that the vet had never seen to that extent before, which resulted in 69-year-old Alan Gay, the dog’s owner, allowing George to be put down. He now regrets this decision.

The two pitbulls rushed at the group of children that George was following to the dairy, including a four-year-old. George then started barking loudly at the pair of dogs, and put himself between the dogs and the children. Mr Gay told Fox News, “If it wasn’t for George, those kids would have copped it.”

Despite having received offers of new dogs, Mr Gay has said that he will wait a while before getting another Jack Russell Terrier, as he is afraid it could happen again.

It is also believed that the two attacking dogs, which have been destroyed, were bred to be aggressive, including being fed the drug methamphetamine, commonly referred to as “P” in New Zealand.

Mr Gay has said that Manaia has had a problem with stray dogs before, but he never expected that George would become a victim.

One story ran in USA Today, which prompted over 120 comments, and one reader to personally call Alan Gay expressing their condolences.

Responding to the huge amount of media interest, Mr Gay said, “This really surprises me, and it’s marvellous. I never expected this … I’m surprised it got around the world as it did.” He says he has been getting a huge amount of phone calls from the media and the public. “The phone has been going since about half past seven this morning. Every time I hang up it rings again. It’s worn out; I might have to get a new one.”

19 January

Price of crude oil reaches new record high

Friday, May 9, 2008

The price of oil per barrel has risen to a new all time high. During trading in Asia and in London, England the price of NYMEX Crude oil futures, per barrel, was at US$124.34 (22:07 eastern time) setting a new record high. Brent Crude oil also hit a new record high of US$122.84, but soon retreated to $121.79.

Several factors, including a weaker U.S. dollar and worries on the world supply, have caused the price of oil to skyrocket in the past week.

Despite worries, OPEC states that supply is currently meeting the current demands and there is currently no shortage of oil.

“There is clearly no shortage of oil in the market. OECD commercial oil stocks remain above the five-year average, with days of forward cover at a comfortable level of more than 53 days. US crude inventories, meanwhile, rose by almost six million barrels last week, which is a further indication that oil supplies are plentiful,” stated OPEC in a statement on its website.


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