Fifteen flu sufferers die in Wales in one week

Friday, January 14, 2011

Over the course of the last week, fifteen people who have suffered from influenza have died in Wales, as reported to the Welsh Assembly Government. The total amount of flu-related deaths in Wales since October 2010 has now increased to 27.

Despite the slight increase in the clinical consultation rate for influenza this week compared to the previous week, the rate of consultations for flu-like illness in Wales still remains within the levels of normal seasonal flu activity.

On Tuesday, 49 people were being treated in critical care beds in hospitals around Wales, according to health officials. With twelve reported admissions, Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board had the highest amount of critical care patients in Wales. Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board has the second highest total number of patients experiencing this critical care in the country, with eleven being cared for. Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board have nine important care admissions each. Cwm Taf NHS Trust contains five of such patients, while Hywel Dda NHS Trust has three.

The age group of 25–34 years old had the largest amount of meetings with general practitioners; the rate of consultation was 147 people for every 100,000. For all age groups, 93 people out of every one hundred thousand have been consulting with a GP; on January 5, the total figure stood at 85 meetings per 100,000.

“Despite the slight increase in the clinical consultation rate for influenza this week compared to the previous week, the rate of consultations for flu-like illness in Wales still remains within the levels of normal seasonal flu activity,” said Dr. Tony Jowell, the Chief Medical Officer of Wales. “Most healthy people will recover from flu-like illnesses within five to seven days with plenty of rest and drinking non-alcoholic fluids. On the issue of vaccination against seasonal flu, whilst we have been working to make stocks of the vaccine that was developed against swine flu available to be used where supplies of seasonal flu vaccine have run low, we are now well into the flu season.”

According to Media Wales, 13 patients experiencing flu-related symptoms were getting treatment at Withybush General Hospital in Haverfordwest on Tuesday. Meanwhile, five were receiving hospital treatment at Bronglais General Hospital in Aberystwyth. Also, Carmarthenshire NHS Trust in Llanelli and West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen both had a solitary patient.

Jowell also commented: “People in at-risk groups are at a higher risk of complications from seasonal flu, and the best protection is early vaccination. A press and publicity campaign has been running since October and has included television, radio and bus adverts to let people know if they are in an at-risk group, and that the vaccine is available free of charge to those groups from GPs. We have also encouraged health boards and GPs to ensure that their patients and front line NHS staff are vaccinated against seasonal flu.”

Throughout the United Kingdom, 62 individuals reportedly died in the last week, as the result of suffering from influenza. The majority of these victims were suffering from swine flu. In most of these cases, the sufferers were aged between 15 and 64. However, nine of the fatalities were of children aged below fourteen.

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Swiss reject single health insurance

Monday, March 12, 2007

24 of 26 Swiss Cantons rejected the proposal for a single health insurance system, in which premiums would be based on income and wealth. The vote on Sunday was the latest in a series of attempts to cut rising costs and ease the financial burden on citizens.

Around 71% of voters rejected the reform. Turnout was at about 46%, slightly above the Swiss average.

As expected, voters in the main German-speaking part of the country turned down the planned reform, which was supported by the centre-left but opposed by the centre-right as well as the business community, parliament and the government.

Opposition in the French and Italian speaking regions was less pronounced. The cantons Jura and Neuchâtel in the French speaking regions voted in favor of the proposed reforms.

Health insurance premiums are higher in southern and western Swiss cantons than in German-speaking areas.

The Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin said an important part of the Swiss Population appeared to be opposed to “a revolution” in health insurance but he said that he wanted current reforms currently under discussion in the Swiss Parliament to go ahead. He called on all sides, especially health insurers and the cantonal authorities, to make efforts to reduce spending on health insurance and aim for a greater cost efficiency. Currently Switzerland has 87 private insurers providing mandatory basic health care coverage for Swiss residents under a 1996 law. But costs have sky-rocketed. Over 100,000 people are not covered by health insurance due to non payment.

To win the battle of the cost of health care, everyone must place his or her private interests behind the interests of the general public. -Pascal Couchepin at a news conference

Opponents to the initiative argued that a single insurance system would lead to complacency and create a two-tier system, in which the wealthy would be the only ones available to afford to have additional private insurance coverage.

Supporters of the initiative said a single health insurer would increase the system’s efficiency and allow for annual savings of at least 300 million Swiss Francs (about $245 million) in administrative costs. Currently, the funding system is unbalanced, since many clients on low incomes use state subsidies to pay their premiums, according to the Green Party and the Social Democrats.

The initiative to unite all the insurance companies and introduce premiums based on wealth and income was the most recent in a series of attempts over the past ten years to reduce the public spending on health care. A proposal, similar to this recent proposal, to modify the funding system of the health insurance companies was rejected by 73% of voters in 2003.

Switzerland has the most expensive health system in Europe. Switzerland’s expenditure on health care was 11.6% in 2005, in front of Germany and France but behind the United States.

Learn more about Swiss Federal Council and Voting in Switzerland on Wikipedia.
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New stadium in Auckland for 2011 rugby world cup preferred by NZ government

Friday, November 10, 2006

The New Zealand government has said that it prefers building a new stadium at Auckland’s waterfront to host the grand final of the 2011 rugby world cup, instead of upgrading Auckland’s current stadium, Eden Park.

The preference was made public by the Honourable Trevor Mallard who is the minister for the rugby world cup that will be hosted in New Zealand in 2011.

The new stadium hasn’t yet been confirmed and is awaiting November 24, which is the date when the Auckland council will give the government their views on the two options available to them; waterfront or upgrade.

According to Mr Mallard the waterfront will cost altogether around NZ$497 million compared to the cost of an upgrade of Eden Park of $385 million. However that pricing is only based on concept drawings at this point in time. The government will provide half of the funding for the waterfront stadium but they will only provide funding for the Eden Park upgrade if it was considered to be for regional purposes and not a national stadium.

Mr Mallard said: “The government has decided that a waterfront location is the option that can most meaningfully contribute to the Government’s vision for Auckland as a truly world-class, international city. This has been a finely balanced call with little difference between the two options in terms of cost and construction timelines. Advice from the experts shows that both can be delivered on time.”

The greatest concern facing the government is if they will be able to build the new stadium in time but construction will being in December 2007 to be finished by 2010, and also investigators said that it would be possible. “We have had advice from Australasia’s leading stadium designers, engineers, architects and construction experts. There is a unanimous view that the waterfront stadium is a challenge, but eminently achievable,” Mr Mallard said.

“In making its decision, the government believes that a sports stadium has the ability to contribute to the identity of Auckland and New Zealand. A national stadium will be as much a focal point of Auckland’s landscape as Rangitoto or the Sky Tower. We also believe the construction of an iconic facility such as this will help drive Auckland’s aspirations for the development of the waterfront and CBD.”

Referring to the upgrade of Eden Park, Mr Mallard said: “One of the greatest concerns is that its application for consents has unacceptable uncertainty as to the timing and outcome of the consents within the construction time available. There is also risk around the lack of flexibility in a residential area around construction times, should delays or problems with construction arise.”

The government will also need to pass a special bill that will enable them to build the required options because of consent issues.

The government had also considered these following options: Eden Park (various options), CBD waterfront (various options), North Harbour Stadium, Manukau Harbour (adjoining Westfield station), The former Carlaw Park, Mt Smart Stadium, Avondale Racecourse, The Auckland Domain and Jade Stadium.

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Efforts to cap Deepwater Horizon oil spill delayed again

 Correction — May 11, 2011 This article incorrectly describes BP as ‘British Petroleum’. In fact, such a company has not existed for many years as BP dropped this name when becoming a multinational company. The initials no longer stand for anything. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

An attempt to cap the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has hit yet another obstacle, reported officials from British Petroleum (BP).

Friday night’s attempt to install a 6-inch (15.2cm) tube into the leaking drill pipe was only the latest in a series of efforts by BP to stop or slow down the spill. Previously, the oil company had tried to enclose the pipe with a large container dome, and then lowered a smaller “top hat” container dome. The siphon tube method is designed to reduce the amount of oil flowing into the ocean, but is not a permanent solution to stopping the leak altogether. It will draw the oil from the broken pipe to a tanker at the surface, said BP.

The tube was to be inserted into the broken pipe by robotic submarines, but the attempt on Friday to do so was unsuccessful, causing it to be taken back up for changes. The problem was a metal frame on the tube, which had changed position and this prevented the tube sent down from the drill ship Discover Enterprise from connecting. The tube had not been inserted into the leaking drill pipe before it was brought back up.

BP said that it would try again Saturday night (local time) to slow the leak using a reconfigured tube. If this attempt is unsuccessful, they will use the smaller dome to cap the leak, and may also try to plug the leak by covering it with trash, mud, or concrete. The company is already in the process of drilling relief wells to completely stop the leak, but this is expected to take several more months. The amount of oil currently leaking from the pipe is disputed, and BP said it has spent several hundred million US dollars in response to the oil spill.

BP was also given permission yesterday by the US Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency to use chemical oil dispersants to combat the spill.

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The Onion: An interview with ‘America’s Finest News Source’

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Despite the hopes of many University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) students, The Onion was not named after their student center. “People always ask questions about where the name The Onion came from,” said President Sean Mills in an interview with David Shankbone, “and when I recently asked Tim Keck, who was one of the founders, he told me the name—I’ve never heard this story about ‘see you at the un-yun’—he said it was literally that his Uncle said he should call it The Onion when he saw him and Chris Johnson eating an onion sandwich. They had literally just cut up the onion and put it on bread.” According to Editorial Manager Chet Clem, their food budget was so low when they started the paper that they were down to white bread and onions.

Long before The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Heck and Johnson envisioned a publication that would parody the news—and news reporting—when they were students at UW in 1988. Since its inception, The Onion has become a veritable news parody empire, with a print edition, a website that drew 5,000,000 unique visitors in the month of October, personal ads, a 24 hour news network, podcasts, and a recently launched world atlas called Our Dumb World. Al Gore and General Tommy Franks casually rattle off their favorite headlines (Gore’s was when The Onion reported he and Tipper were having the best sex of their lives after his 2000 Electoral College defeat). Many of their writers have gone on to wield great influence on Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert‘s news parody shows.

And we are sorry to break the news to all you amateur headline writers: your submissions do not even get read.

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with Chet Clem and Sean Mills about the news empire that has become The Onion.

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Magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia felt up and down U.S. east coast, Pentagon evacuated

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A 5.8 earthquake struck 4 miles southwest of Mineral, Virginia, 80 miles south of Washington D.C., at 1:51 p.m. EDT (17:51 UTC) and lasted for 15–30 seconds. The quake had a magnitude of 5.8 with an epicenter 27 miles (43 km) east of Charlottesville, Virginia. A 2.8 aftershock was reported at 2:46 pm EDT (18:46 UTC).

According to Twitter reports, the quake was felt inland as far as Cleveland and Toronto and along the coast from Boston to Georgia. Police sergeant James Ryan, from South Brunswick, New Jersey stated that “The 911 line is flooding with calls right now. People want to know what happened. They want to know if there was an explosion.”

The United States Capitol and The Pentagon in Arlington were evacuated, as were police headquarters and city hall in New York City. Numerous minor injuries have been reported in Washington, D.C.; however, none of them are serious. There have been confirmed reports of damage at the Washington National Cathedral and the Smithsonian Castle. The Pentagon was also damaged when a burst pipe caused flooding. The North Anna Power Station lost offsite power and had to shut down, turning to four diesel generators to maintain cooling of the facility. Both the JFK and Newark airports were briefly shut down and the control towers were evacuated. A release from Amtrak stated that trains will be operating at reduced speed, but no damage has been found on any rail lines. The Washington Metro is also operating on reduced speed, with some stations closed down, while lines are evaluated.

In Boston, it was reported that the building at 111 Devonshire Street appeared to be leaning onto the adjacent building at 50 Milk Street, with fears that it could collapse. The street was blocked off while the Boston Fire Department investigated. However, it was determined that the buildings had always appeared like that. Nevertheless, the Boston Fire Department investigated the roof and the inside of 111 Devonshire St. After 30 minutes, the building was determined to be safe.

This is the second strongest earthquake to originate in Virginia since records have been kept, after the one recorded on May 31, 1897, near Giles County, which was estimated at a magnitude of 5.9.

The Dow initially dropped 50 points after the earthquake struck, but later increased over 100 points.

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The Pentagon was evacuated moments after a 5.8 earthquake was felt throughout the US east cost. Image: U.S. Navy.

A crowd of evacuated businesspeople on Wall Street in New York City. Image: Alec Tabak.

Federal employees evacuated buildings at 13th and C Streets in Washington, D.C.Image: US Department of Agriculture.
The office of the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, D.C. was also evacuated.Image: Antonio Zugaldia.
Building occupants evacuate onto Market Street in Philadelphia.Image: Douglas Muth.
Damage to the Embassy of Ecuador in Washington, D.C. Image: William Neuheisel.
People gather on Vermont Avenue, outside the headquarters of the US Department of Homeland Security, in Washington, DC. Image: Tim1965.
A building in McLean, Virginia sustained some damage to its ceiling. Image: Claire Schmitt.
A crowd of evacuees in McLean, Virginia. Image: Claire Schmitt.
After the earthquake, there were concerns that 111 Devonshire St. in Boston appeared to be leaning onto the adjacent 50 Milk St with fears it may possibly collapse. It turned out the buildings have always appeared like this. Image: Patrick Mannion.
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2008 COMPUTEX Taipei starts for the future of ICT industry

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

2008 COMPUTEX, famed as the 2nd-largest ICT trade show in the world, started today at the Taipei World Trade Center, Taipei International Convention Center, and TWTC Nangang with 1725 companies’ participation including top 5 nations – Hong Kong, South Korea, China, France, and Japan. With the newly-launched TWTC Nangang, the COMPUTEX set its record with its exhibition scale expanding by 53% and the number of participating manufacturers increasing by 29%.

This year of COMPUTEX has some special features including “Design and Innovation Award of COMPUTEX”, set to discover innovative designs world-wide, “Environment-related topics”, highly respected by environmentalists and industrial businesspeople with many ICT products related to energy-efficiency and green technology showcased at “Mega Trends Pavilion”.

This 28-year-old trade show competes with the other ones like CeBIT and COMDEX every year. In 2003, we (the government) ever confronted a unprecedented frustration, that is, SARS. It ever forced this show temporarily suspended for a while, but this gave us a great opportunity to regulate the steps to exhibit at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 3, and finally, we succeeded and eventually became the 2nd-largest ICT show of the world in 2004. I’m very appreciated for a significant growth of 1725 companies’ participation after the Taiwan External Trade Development Council decided to expand this show into TWTC Nangang. I believe that the COMPUTEX will bring a major profit of USD$2 billions for ICT and exhibition industries.

With another concurrent trade show – “2008 WiMAX Expo Taipei”, located at Taipei Show Hall 2, Taipei Computer Association, one of the show organizers, will mainly promote the “WING”-conceptual products like WiMAX, ICT crossovers, Notebooks, and Green IT products this year. In addition, DRAMeXchange Compuforum, e21Forum, Taiwan Design Forum, and Next Generation Network Forum will be held in conjunction with the COMPUTEX to attract international businesspeople from vast industries.

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Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden fights back after invasion of German naked hikers

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A local Swiss government has shown some bare cheek and has taken action, after hordes of German naked hikers rambling across the Swiss alps au naturel, caused indignation amongst locals.

Authorities in Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden have warned that starting from February 9, the government will impose hefty fines of 200 Swiss Francs (£122, €135) on naturists found walking or hiking in the nude without clothes in the picturesque mountains because of a recent influx of visiting German nudists.

The new ordinance is expected to be passed this spring. If it is approved by the local parliament on February 9 it should be effective on April 26. The Swiss canton aims to stop spread of ‘indecent practice’ by minimally-clad German climbers.

The problem started with a group of “boot-only hikers” who were stopped by the police in the Alpine region last autumn. They had wandered there regularly, proudly marching through nature with bare bums, and had also advertised what they thought was a naked paradise on the internet. But it was all too much for the Swiss.

A nude rambler dressed in nothing more than a rucksack and walking boots in the eastern Appenzell region was arrested and detained in the canton, but authorities were unable to file lawsuit because the act was not punished by law or ordinance at the time.

“We were forced to introduce the legislation against this indecent practice before the warm weather starts,” Melchior Looser, the canton’s justice and police minister, said. “Ultimately, in the summer lots of kids stay in our mountains,” he added.

In the guidelines imposed, arrested offenders who cannot pay the fine, will face legal action. The new enabling ordinance has, however, been met with protests by nude hikers. “We simply try to tune into nature. It’s the most harmless pursuit possible,” said Dietmar, age 58, a German lawyer.

German tabloid Bild Zeitung has editorially attacked Swiss intolerance and even suggested nudist alternatives worldwide, after hinting a Swiss tourism boycott. Local authorities of Harz mountain range in central Germany have also announced the openness to any visitor of an “official naked walking route” in nature’s outdoors.

Freikörperkultur (“FKK”), or “free body culture”, is a popular pastime in Germany. It is a German movement which endorses a naturistic approach to sports and community living. Behind that is the joy of the experience of nature or also on being nude itself, without direct relationship to sexuality. The followers of this culture are called traditional naturists, FKK’ler, or nudists.

The naked ramblers have hoped it doesn’t lead to another naturist-clothed ‘war’, like the one at a beach between German and Polish holidaymakers in 2008. Naturism has roots traced from the start of the 20th century. “Abandoning unpractical clothes enables a direct contact with the wind, sun and temperature”, naked hiker website nacktwandern.de stated.

But Markus Dörig, a spokesman for Appenzell Innerrhoden canton has defended the law, explaining that the “public nuisance” was a foreign import. “We have been receiving many complaints. The local people are upset and we in the government share their concern. How would one feel if one was to go walking in nature and suddenly came across a group of naked people? They are definitely not people from the area, and I think many of them come from Germany,” he noted.

“We are a small and orderly community and such things are simply out of place here. Perhaps in vast mountain areas naked people would not be much of a problem but here they simply stick out,” Dörig added. “I can understand that we all have to live in this world together,” said Barbara Foley, International Naturist Foundation member of the central committee. “But I would certainly enjoy doing the hike in the nude and I wouldn’t want to be deprived of it. It’s nice to feel the sun on your skin. Maybe they should designate a couple of trails and people would know they might come across naturists there,” she added.

Appenzell Innerrhoden (Appenzell Inner Rhodes) is the smallest canton of Switzerland by population and the second smallest by area, Basel-City having less area. The population of the canton was 15,471 as of 2007, of which 1,510 (or 9.76%) were foreigners. The canton in the north east of Switzerland has an area is 173 km². It was divided in 1597 for religious reasons from the former canton Appenzell, with Appenzell Ausserrhoden being the other half.

Appenzell is the capital of this canton. The constitution was established in 1872. Most of the canton is pastoral, this despite being mountainous. Cattle breeding and dairy farming are the main agricultural activities: Appenzeller cheese is widely available throughout Switzerland. Due to the split of Appenzell along religious lines, the population (as of 2000) is nearly all Roman Catholic (81%), with a small Protestant minority (10%).

The town, however is far from liberalism: the canton granted women the right of suffrage only in 1990 under pressure from the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland and international human rights groups. The Alpine village of Appenzell Innerrhoden, being known for its beautiful landscape, has recently been declared a “naked rambler paradise” by a German mountaineering website, which was created by a lobby group of hikers.

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Instructions For Salton Yogurt Maker

Instructions For Salton Yogurt Maker By Atica Brewton

Making yogurt with the Salton Yogurt Maker is fun, easy and worry-free. A few things you’ll need are milk, powdered milk for thickening, a thermometer and a yogurt starter. Be sure your yogurt maker is clean before starting. It will provide a stable temperature for incubating the yogurt. In this article you will find the best instructions for Salton Yogurt Maker.

1. Add ½ cup of dry milk powder to 1 qt of whole or skim milk.

The milk should be heated on the stove to 185-190°F, stirring frequently.

2. While you’re waiting for the milk to heat, plug in your yogurt maker so it can be warming up.

3. Let the milk cool to 110-115°F. I usually place the pot in a large bowl of ice water, stirring the milk until it’s cooled to the right temperature.

4. Pour about 1/3 of the milk into a separate clean container and add ½ cup of plain yogurt with active cultures or 1 pack of yogurt starter. Stir until mixed evenly.

5. Pour this starter mix into the remaining milk and stir.

6. Finally, pour the milk into your pre-heated yogurt maker.

7. You should allow the yogurt to incubate 6-12 hours. The longer it is heated, the more tart the taste.

8. When the batch is done, put the container in the frigerator and allow it to cool for several hours or overnight. The yogurt will thicken as it cools.

Now you have a wonderfully delicious batch of plain yogurt. If you like it flavored, add some maple syrup, honey, fruit or jam.

Homemade yogurt is a healthy alternative to store-bought brands. You have control over the ingredients and there’s no risk of eating unhealthy additives and sugars. The Salton Yogurt Maker is inexpensive and easy to use. You don’t have to part with large sums of your hard-earned money for a more expensive unit. Making homemade yogurt is exciting and I hope you find these instructions for Salton Yogurt Maker useful.

The author’s website Yogurt Maker Enthusiast features tips on yogurt, using a yogurt maker, yogurt starters and homemade yogurt recipes.

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News briefs:June 1, 2010

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