10 March

Category:June 9, 2010

? June 8, 2010
June 10, 2010 ?
June 9

Pages in category “June 9, 2010”

10 March

Dan Rather resigns as anchor, to stay on as correspondent

Monday, November 22, 2004

Dan Rather has announced that he will retire on March 9th, 2005 as anchor of CBS Evening News. He will continue to be a correspondent for both of the 60 Minutes shows.

It is reported that Rather’s leaving has nothing to do with a report in 2004 regarding US President Bush’s National Guard service that was widely reported to be factually false. A CBS panel is looking into that report.

Others believe that Rather is stepping down due to this report and investigation. Howard Kurtz, a reporter for the Washington Post, states that “It’s pretty clear that Dan Rather faced a very unpalatable choice… His contract had at least two more years to run. [Should he] step down now before the outside investigative report, commissioned by CBS News expected in the next few weeks about his botching — and the network’s botching — of that story about President Bush’s National Guard service? Rather [decided] today that it would be better for him to step down on his own terms.”

Dan Rather, 74, has been the anchor for CBS Evening News for 24 years, succeeding Walter Cronkite. Rather is the third most watched anchor on United States television.

All links dated November 23, 2004.

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8 March

Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

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.

8 March

US undergraduate commits suicide after ‘outing’ via webcast

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tyler Clementi, eighteen, a freshman at Rutgers University in the United States, jumped off the George Washington Bridge last Wednesday after roommates broadcast his same-sex encounters online.

Clementi shared a room with Dhraun Ravi, in Davidson Hall on Rutgers’ Piscataway campus.

On September 19, Dhraun Ravi is alleged to have secretly activated a webcam in their room, then retreated down the hall to the room of his childhood friend, Molly Wei, where they used Skype to connect to the live video feed of Clementi having sex. Ravi tweeted, “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my Web cam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay”.

Clementi reported the incident to the university, and that information has been passed to the authorities, according to Gregory Blimling, university vice president for student affairs.

Ravi attempted to repeat his actions on the following Wednesday, after seeing his roommate kissing a teenaged boy. Writing on Facebook he said, “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it’s happening again.”

The following Wednesday, at around 4 p.m., fellow freshman Lauren Garcia saw Clementi leaving the dormitory. “He had his iPod in his ear, and just had this blank stare on his face,”, she said. Clementi drove one hour along the New Jersey Turnpike, abandoning his car on the Jersey side. Writing a final message on his own Facebook page saying, “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry”, he left a wallet containing his driver’s licence and Rutgers ID card, and his mobile phone on the roadside. According to witnesses, he scaled the railings, crouched down, and jumped at approximately 8:50 p.m— about eight minutes after his Facebook posting. Those details were relayed to press anonymously by a law enforcement official.

One of the anonymous witnesses, a 45-year-old from West New York, said “It was so quick, as soon as he saw us, he went. He didn’t give us an opportunity to do anything.”

New York Police Department’s Harbour Unit recovered a body of a young man yesterday, in the Hudson River to the North of the bridge, but it has not yet been positively identified.

Ravi and Wei, both eighteen, were charged with invasion of privacy. Wei voluntarily surrendered to police Monday, and was released on her own recognizance; Ravi surrendered the following day, and has been released on $25,000 bail. All three students started their courses in August.

The crime of “transmitting sexual images” is a 3rd degree felony, carrying a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Clementi, from Ridgewood, New Jersey, played the violin, and was a member of the Ridgewood High School chamber orchestra. A student from the same hall described him as quiet and shy. His parents were apparently unaware of his sexuality; Robert Righthand, a friend of Clementi since grade school, said “he had it in reserve for a very long time […] You never thought he was depressed. You just thought he was quiet. He wasn’t the person to open up to a lot of people.”

A gathering of around 100 people held a vigil on Wednesday, chanting slogans such as “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going home.”

The Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays organization announced a “call to action” today. Stephen Goldstein, of LGBT advocacy organization Garden State Equality, said, “[Clementi,] by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind […] we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible […] might consider destroying others’ lives as a sport.”

On Wednesday prior to the incident, the university launched “Project Civility”, a two-year campaign encouraging students to be thougtful of others. The University president, Richard McCormick, issued a letter stating that “If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university’s standards of decency and humanity.”

8 March

Formula One set to see standardised engines

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Formula One looks set to enter an era of standardised engines. The FIA is meeting with teams in Monte Carlo and is expected to approve the use by some teams of a standardised power unit provided by Cosworth, an automotive engineering company, from 2010 onwards. The move to a standard engine, which is common in lower tiers of open wheeled racing such as GP2, was pushed for by FIA President Max Mosley earlier this year as he aims to reduce team costs. This would not see the exclusion of manufacturer made engines, as at this time participation in the system would be voluntary and teams would be free to build licensed Cosworth engines or their own powerplants but on a performance par with the Cosworth unit. Mosley has stated that stabilising Formula One means that the FIA “…must stabilize the system with a base engine which anyone can have and which is inexpensive, as well as a standard gearbox” and has warned of future budget problems, saying that “Honda pulled out because of falling car sales and there is no guarantee that these falling sales, which affect all manufacturers, will not drop further”.

Ahead of the meeting of the FIA there have been rumours in the Italian press that Formula One team Renault had broken with the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA), rumours which Renault has strongly denied. FOTA was established earlier this year by the teams to negotiate with the FIA over cost cutting measures and other changes, changes it hopes will stop the introduction of compulsory standardisation of engines and other parts on F1 cars. The FOTA’s position was hard hit last week by the announcement by Honda that they were leaving F1 due to the economic crisis, a move which has caused many teams to re-assert their commitment to a future in Formula One. David Richards, whose Prodrive entry to Formula One was called off last season due to costs, highlighted what he sees as the need for fundamental changes, saying that Honda’s exit was ‘a salutary lesson for the whole of F1 that things are going to have to change, and everything is going to have to come back a little bit if the whole sport is to prosper in the future’.

Five teams have reportedly expressed an interest in the Cosworth engines from the 2010 season, the five being all four independent teams (Williams, Force India, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso) joined by manufacturer Renault. If only four teams sign up to the idea, the FIA has announced it will go ahead. Renault have been highly vocal in criticising the failure of the engine development freeze that has existed in Formula One and have, after a couple of seasons of struggling, been under pressure from their parent company to justify the continued expenditure in Formula One. Cosworth have previously been prolific engine suppliers in Formula One, their last stint was supplying engines to Williams in 2006.

The talks come as many of the Formula One teams are in Jerez for part of their winter testing regime, with potential Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Buemi topping the time sheets for the first two days.

7 March

Greenpeace tries to thwart Chesapeake Bay fishing fleet

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Greenpeace activists scattered schools of menhaden bait fish in the Chesapeake Bay on Tuesday when fishing ships belonging to Omega Protein Corp. were about to drop their sceine nets.

The Omega fleet consisted of two spotter planes and four fishing boats with eight tenders. Greenpeace arrived with four fast moving out-board motor boats, manned by thirteen activists, who attempted to drive away the fish. The Coast Guard was called in and ended the confrontation peacefully.

The Houston-based Omega Protein Corporation is the largest processor and distributor of protein-rich menhaden and fish oil products in the United States. The company accounts for nearly 90% of the entire East Coast menhaden catch.

An Omega spokesman Toby Gascon said of Greenpeace, “They have now demonstrated that their real agenda is to put Omega out of business, even if it means risking the safety of Omega’s fishermen.” Their fleet is out of Reedville, Virginia, now a top U.S. fishing port due to the recent Omega processing plant opened there.

Chesapeake Bay menhaden are considered an important food source for fish species popular with sports fisherman. They are also, next to oysters, a prime filter feeder in bay waters. The bay oyster population has suffered drastic declines from disease over the last two decades. Studies of menhaden populations are still inconclusive as scientists try to determine the overall number of bay menhaden.

Greenpeace says the species is near historic lows and predators that depend on the fish as a food source, such as striped bass, show signs of suffering from malnutrition and poor body condition.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, had praise for Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, and the state’s Department of Natural Resources. They secured a commitment from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to seek a cap on commercial harvesting of Atlantic Menhaden.

A coalition of recreational anglers and environmentalists, called Menhaden Matter, also joined the debate by saying coast-wide population of Atlantic Menhaden has fallen to near record lows. They are also against an encroachment by Omega into Chesapeake waters.

The issue is a cap proposed by ASMFC on the menhaden harvest. The Board recommended a Draft Addendum to limit the menhaden harvest to 110,400 metric tons, which is the average over five years of consecutive declines in harvests for the species. The limit would apply to Atlantic and in-land waters of the species. The proposed cap is for years 2006 and 2007 and open to public debate.

ASMFC recently rejected an offer by Omega that would voluntarily cap their harvest at 135,000 metric tons annually for the next four years. They noted Omega also seeks to reopen some waters in Maryland and New Jersey which are currently closed to industrial purse seine operations. A public hearing is scheduled in Alexandria, Virginia in the next few days.

Omega says that ASMFC’s own reports indicate the population levels of Atlantic menhaden are healthy.

A Chesapeake Bay Foundation senior scientist, William J. Goldsborough, said, “I believe that a cap on the purse seine catch of menhaden at current levels, covering the total catch as well as removals from Chesapeake Bay, would be a prudent measure to adopt.”

7 March

Viktor Schreckengost dies at 101

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Viktor Schreckengost, the father of industrial design and creator of the Jazz Bowl, an iconic piece of Jazz Age art designed for Eleanor Roosevelt during his association with Cowan Pottery died yesterday. He was 101.

Schreckengost was born on June 26, 1906 in Sebring, Ohio, United States.

Schreckengost’s peers included the far more famous designers Raymond Loewy and Norman Bel Geddes.

In 2000, the Cleveland Museum of Art curated the first ever retrospective of Schreckengost’s work. Stunning in scope, the exhibition included sculpture, pottery, dinnerware, drawings, and paintings.

5 March

Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal threatened by possible lawsuit

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Buffalo, New York — The property at 605 Forest in Buffalo was the center of attention at last night’s public meeting held at the offices of Forever Elmwood on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. Eva Hassett, Vice President of Savarino Construction Services Corporation, confirmed last night that the company will be seeking a variance for the 605 Forest property. Originally, both the 605 and 607 Forest Avenue properties were going to have variances placed on them. As it stands, 607 Forest will not be directly affected by the proposal, should it go forward. Both 605 and 607 are currently occupied by residents.

During Monday night’s meeting, Pano Georgiadis, owner of 605 Forest and owner of Pano’s Resuraunt at 1081 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, threatened to “sue” Savarino Construction if they tried to obtain a variance on his property to build the Elmwood Village Hotel.

The Elmwood Village Hotel is a proposal by Savarino Construction that would be placed on the corner of Forest and Elmwood in Buffalo. In order for the project to move forward, at least five buildings (1119-1121 Elmwood) which include both residences and businesses will have to be demolished. The hotel was designed by architect Karl Frizlen of the Frizlen Group. Although the properties are “under contract,” according to Hassett, it is unclear whether Savarino Construction owns the properties. Hans Mobius, a resident of Clarence, New York and former Buffalo Mayoral candidate, is still believed to own them.

Currently, none of the properties is zoned for a hotel.

A freelance journalist writing for Wikinews asked Hassett what kind of zoning permit they [Savarino] would be applying for and, if 605 Forest is included, what zone that would be.

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

“There is a ‘special development plan’ in front of the council, which changes only one thing about the zoning. It allows one permitted use for just a hotel. The rest of the zoning remains as it is under the current Elmwood Business District zoning. 605 and 607 Forest are not required for the project. They are not part of the footprint for the project. Let me answer this question again. This is on the record, in council: 605 needs to be rezoned in order to facilitate the project because of the sideyard requirement. Anything in C-2 is excluded besides the hotel. So we’ve taken the C-2 and included the hotel as a permitted use, and excluded everything else and everything else remains the same.”

However, during the February 28 Common Council meeting, Hassett was quoted as saying that the two properties were “off the agenda.”

“Now Karl said, at the last meeting, that they will build this hotel right on the borderline [property line]. If a wall forty-five to fifty feet high goes next to this house, of course it’s not right. You really have to go with whatever the city code says, so you have to get back as many feet as the city code says,” said Georgiadis.

“If you try to get a variance to change the code, I will sue you. This is my home, number one,” added Georgiadis. “First of all I think we are all wasting our time here, you [Savarino], have already made up your mind, but if you go against city code, and you try to do the most rooms with a minimal amount of parking, again, I will sue you. If you build a hotel, in my idea its going to fail. It’s doomed, ok. [If] it’s going to be a home for the disabled, for the homeless, for recovery people, but that’s another story. Then how is it going to be when we say, well I told you so? You will be over and done with. Its very hard to take a four story building [hotel] down.”

Georgiadis stated last night that he was against the proposal and signed a petition to stop it, jokingly saying, “this isn’t a paper to sign to build the hotel, is it? Don’t make me sign the wrong thing.”

Joseph Golombeck, district councilman, was at Monday’s public meeting and said, “we also did request this and the reason we are doing this as a special business district is so that it has to be this specific plan. They [Savarino] can’t go halfway through it and in six months decide that [the hotel] it’s going to be three floors. They can’t decide it’s going to be five floors. It has to be, per law, exactly what it is that they brought to us [the public] so far, and then ultimately to the City of Buffalo Common Council when it’s approved. So if it gets approved, it has to be this specific, exact project. They couldn’t make it fifty parking spots, they couldn’t make it thirty. It has to be specifically what they have right here.”

A man who lives on Granger Street in Buffalo attended the meeting, speaking in favor of the hotel development. He claimed, “There are a lot of low property values. Hopefully if we embrace development, our property values, for those of us who have property, will go up. There are a lot of people unfortunately, who are working hard, that do not get a chance to come to these meetings. I myself was at work and wasn’t able to go to the last two meetings. I express that we appreciate that you [Savarino] invest in the City of Buffalo and for what you hope, because I do not think Savarino is into losing money. These people are not in business to be losing money here. They are hoping for the success of this [the hotel] more than any one of us. They are hoping that the property values in this area will go up more than any one of us, because it will benefit them [the residents and business owners], more than any one of us. I want this city to develop. I don’t think anybody else is here understanding that we’re looking for development in this city, we are looking for the city to get better. The councilman here is not interested in Buffalo failing.”

Evelyn Bencinich, resident of Granger Street, would have the hotel directly behind her home, if it were to be built.

“What about construction [time]? Is that just for the exterior, the nine months? Or does that include the interior? Is there going to be blasting through bedrock? Is there property protection for damage? Are you [Savarino and the Frizlen Group] responsible?”, asked Bencinich.

According to Frizlen, there is a layer of solid bedrock at least 30 feet from the surface of the land saying, “we anticipate that the bedrock is at least thirty feet down.” He also admitted that “we haven’t done any soil sporrings,” but did say “the bedrock is somewhere in between twenty-five and thirty feet [down], we don’t need to go that deep. So blasting is most likely out of it [the question].”

“Personally, I can only speak from the city side, but a few years ago we rebuilt Vulcan Street, in the northwest corner of Buffalo, and there were a couple of properties that were damaged and they [the owners] were able to file a claim against the company that did the work and they won in each case. It was the same thing with a school that was built on Military Road. There were a couple of problems with foundations on a couple of properties, and they weren’t sure if caused by the school or not, but the insurance company ended up paying them,” answered Golombeck.

“I would assume that Savarino is insured with someone. So if there is a problem with anything that happens to your properties, what I would recommend is that anybody that lives on Granger Place, if this does go through, that you get pictures taken of your basement and of your foundations, because God forbid if there is a problem, you want to have an[sic] before and after [picture]. You don’t want to come afterwards and there’s a crack in there [foundation] and you have no way of proving that it happened,” added Golombeck.

According to Golombeck, the properties that Mobius owns have been “in housing court on several occasions, but has a date of April 11, 2006 that he is going back [to court] for these properties. So it is in housing court and I wouldn’t know Mr. Mobius if he walked in this room right now,” stated Golombeck.

“I’ve gone after him on numerous occasions and everytime he gets out of housing court with a slap on the wrist. If I am a conspiracy theorist and say that there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. I can only get him into housing court. Once he’s in housing court, the judge rules on it. Now I don’t mean to take any shots at previous administrations, but I am hoping with the new administration, being in here, that the inspections department is going to be a much better department than it has been for the previous several years.”

The city’s Planning Board on March 14, 2006, agreed to send the Elmwood Village Hotel proposal back to the Common Council so that it may “be opened back up to discussion from the public.”

On March 2, 2006 the Common Council sent the proposal “to committee” for further discussion and also requesting that the public be “engaged further.”

During that meeting, Justin Azzeralla, Executive Director for Forwever Elmwood, said that the organization “supports the hotel project.”

Also on March 2, the planning board agreed to table, or postpone, any decision on the hotel proposal for at least thirty days, also citing the need for the public to be “more engaged.”

The Common Council is expected to meet on March 21, 2006 at 2:00pm local time where they may approve or deny the proposal.

According to The Buffalo News, at least six Common Council members support the hotel project and are pledging to vote to approve it at the meeting on Tuesday, March 21.

However, the city’s Planning Board will get the final say on the project.

4 March

Category:July 27, 2010

? July 26, 2010
July 28, 2010 ?
July 27

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4 March

US Supreme Court rules video games are protected speech

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In a 7-2 decision handed down on Monday, the US Supreme Court struck down California’s violent video game law and ruled that video games are protected speech covered by the First Amendment. The California law banned the sale and rental of violent video games to minors.

The underlying question was whether the violence in video games has the ability to affect children more than violence in other media, such as books, movies, plays and other forms of entertainment.

Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that depictions of violence have never been regulated by the US government. Thus violent videos are not to fall under government control as does pornography but is to be accorded the same First Amendment protections as other forms of entertainment. The sale of violent video games is not to be criminalized and California’s attempt to do so was “unprecedented and mistaken.” Scalia noted, referring to fairy tales, that “the books we give children to read—or read to them when they are younger—contain no shortage of gore.”

[T]he books we give children to read—or read to them when they are younger—contain no shortage of gore.

The beginning of the decision states, “Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And ‘the basic principles of freedom of speech…do not vary’ with a new and different communication medium.”

“The most basic principle—that government lacks the power to restrict expression because of its message, ideas, subject matter, or content, Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 535 U. S. 564, 573—is subject to a few limited exceptions for historically unprotected speech, such as obscenity, incitement, and fighting words. But a legislature cannot create new categories of unprotected speech simply by weighing the value of a particular category against its social costs and then punishing it if it fails the test.”

The justices were not convinced by the existing research that the interactive nature of video games pose a greater risk to society because of their interactive nature. None of the results of the existing research put before the court showed that violent games cause violent behavior. “Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively. Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media. Since California has declined to restrict those other media, e.g., Saturday morning cartoons, its video-game regulation is wildly under-inclusive, raising serious doubts about whether the State is pursuing the interest it invokes or is instead disfavoring a particular speaker or viewpoint.”

According to Nadine Kaslow, professor and chief psychologist at Emory University Department of Psychology and Grady Hospital, the evidence regarding the effects of violent video games is mixed. While there is evidence to suggest that exposure of children to violence results in more aggressive and less pro-social behavior, some studies show there is no negative effect, she said. She point out that toy guns were popular and parents monitored whether toy guns were allowed in the home.

This ruling does not prevent private retailers from placing restrictions on their sale of video games. The video game industry currently has its own rating system, much like that used for movies, and educates retailers in using the rating system to prevent minors from buying mature-rated games. According to PC World the industry’s compliance is better than that of other entertainment industries. Further, parental controls have been added to game consoles.

The view of the Entertainment Software Association that a better strategy is the education of parents rather than court battles.


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