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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

On Sunday, the Bryan brothers announced their retirement from the United States’ Davis Cup team. Twins Bob and Mike Bryan have participated in the tennis tournament representing the US for almost fourteen years.

Mike and Bob Bryan hold the record of winning sixteen grand slam titles together. The 38-year-old duo made the announcement via Instagram with Bob saying, “Mike and I want to formally announce our decision to step down from our role as active members of the U.S. Davis Cup team”. They won the Davis Cup for the USA in 2007 calling it “one of the greatest highlights” of their career and first represented the country in 2003.

The duo defeated their compatriot Brian Baker and his Croatian partner Nikola Mekti? 6–3, 7–6 in the Australian Open’s Round of 16 today. They have won six Australian Open together. They have won an Olympics gold medal in London in 2012 and one bronze medal in Beijing in 2008. In mixed-doubles, Bob betters the two winning seven Grand Slams as compared to Mike’s four.

The United States is to play against Switzerland in the upcoming Davis Cup tournament next month.

Monday, December 31, 2018

A minibus overturned on the A6089 road between Gordon and Carfraemill in the Scottish Borders on Saturday night. The rural accident killed one man and injured 23 more.

The bus was reportedly carrying an all-male group from Newtongrange to Kelso. Following the accident, local authorities declared a major incident, with Police Scotland, the Scottish Ambulance Service, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, NHS Scotland, and Scottish Borders Council all collaborating on the response.

Per the reports, an air ambulance ferried one survivor to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital; fourteen casualties were taken to Borders General Hospital in Melrose; and eight were taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. The minibus held 23 passengers plus a driver. Authorities closed the road after the crash at around 10:50am, reopening it at 9:00pm.

59-year-old East Lothian man Ross Jones Barker has been identified as the man killed at the accident location. Barker and some other passengers were traveling to Kelso to attend the Kelso Races, a local horse race. Images of the bus showed it upended in a field perpendicular to the road, with extensive crush damage to the roof. BBC reported the minibus left tyre marks on the road.

Traffic Scotland took to Twitter on the day of the accident to warn of strong wind gusts affecting driving in the area. The road has a poor safety reputation among locals, who know it for its multiple blind summits. Police Scotland’s Road Policing Unit carried out on-site investigations and was working to establish the circumstances. The vehicle has since been righted and recovered.

Reverend Malcolm Muir of Newtongrange described “a solemnity across the village at the moment” in the “tight-knit community” which “has a very strong sense of identity.”

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Grammy award-winning rapper/producer Kanye West appeared on a live on-air telethon simulcast on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and PAX for Hurricane Katrina victims. Live on air, West said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” after saying “America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible.” He also said “the Red Cross is doing everything they can,” and stated that he was going to see what the maximum amount of money he can donate is. West criticized government authorities and stated that “They’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us.”

West first deviated from the script he and comedian Mike Myers were using by commenting on the recent uproar over differently captioned photos for black and white people in the aftermath of the hurricane: “I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they’re looting. See a white family, it says they’re looking for food.”

Though a several-second delay was in place, the comments were let through uncensored on the EST live broadcast as the person in charge “was instructed to listen for a curse word, and didn’t realize he had gone off-script,” according to an NBC spokeswoman.

NBC has released a statement after the broadcast: “Tonight’s telecast was a live television event wrought with emotion. Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person’s opinion.”

The sponsor of the event, the American Red Cross, also issued a statement on the telethon, stating: “During the telecast, a controversial comment was made by one of the celebrities. We would like the American public to know that our support is unwavering, regardless of political circumstances. We are a neutral and impartial organization, and support disaster victims across the country regardless of race, class, color or creed.”

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Chemotherapy is usually associated with a collection of side effects ranging from digestive problems to hair loss, but a study published this week in Human Reproduction demonstrated that female cancer patients may find they have something in common with much younger women in one specific area — their ovaries.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh examined donated ovarian tissue from fourteen female cancer patients, most of whom had Hodgkin lymphoma, and compared it to tissue from healthy women. They found the samples from women who had been treated with a specific chemotherapeutic regimen known as ABVD not only contained greater numbers of dormant ova — egg cells — than those from women treated with harsher regimens but also more than samples from healthy women. ABVD is named for combining several drugs known as adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine.

These reproductive cells were not merely more plentiful in ABVD patients. They also appeared immature, “new” in the words of lead researcher Evelyn Telfer. This challenges the conventional belief that girls are born with all the ova they will ever have and the numbers can only go down as the cells are either used up by the reproductive cycle or succumb to damage or natural aging. However, further research is needed to confirm this. The study covered relatively few patients by scientific standards, and David Albertini of the Center for Human Reproduction in New York has suggested the cells may not actually be freshly grown. Instead, they may have always been there and were merely rendered more detectable by ABVD treatment.

The ability to grow new egg cells may have significant implications for women in Western societies, many of whom postpone childbearing to establish careers, sometimes into their late thirties or forties. However, Telfer warns against making use of these findings too soon: “There’s so much we don’t know about the ovary. We have to be very cautious about jumping to clinical applications.”

The experiments had been discussed earlier this year at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Friday, April 3, 2009

General Motors (GM) and Chrysler will receive bridge loans from the government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario, however no more will be forthcoming from either Canadian or US governments unless the companies can reinvent themselves.

“This is a regrettable but necessary step to protect the Canadian economy. We are doing this on the assumption that we obviously cannot afford either in the United States or Canada a catastrophic short-term collapse.” said Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.

“We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. This industry is, like no other, an emblem of the American spirit; a once and future symbol of America’s success,” said Barack Obama, President of the United States. “These companies – and this industry – must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state.”File:Sinsheim quer.jpg

Chrysler will receive CA$1 billion and may in fact be eligible for as much as CA$4 billion. If Chrysler succeeds in the next 30 days with a restructuring plan it would be eligible for a US$6 billion loan. A part of Chrysler’s restructuring plan must include a partnership with Fiat within 30 days to appease the US administration. Fiat is a supplier of smaller fuel-efficient vehicles, and the merger will help Chrysler to be viable in the North American market. A Chrysler court bankruptcy would inevitably lead to it being sold off.

As a part of Chrysler’s restructuring plans, Tom LaSorda, the president of Chrysler announced that Canadian operations would fold if it does not receive both the US commitment of $2.3 billion of aid and a new Canadian Auto Workers CAW contract to reduce all-in costs by CA$19 per hour. As a result of this announcement Chrysler’s auto sales volume in Canada dropped 23% compared to March of 2008.

GM has until the end of May to restructure its company to receive up to CA$7.5 billion. As part of the companies restructuring, General Motor’s chief executive Rick Wagoner was replaced Sunday with Fritz Henderson, the current chief operating officer. Henderson spoke out on Tuesday that GM has submitted a restructuring plan which would close five plants, and this may be increased to meet the requirements for financial aid. He is in full compliance with Obama’s auto task force to seek bankruptcy if GM cannot negotiate with their unions, bondholders and others.

GM recently brought forward the “GM Total Confidence” program providing consumer purchase protection for customers who lose their job for economic reasons within the first two years from purchase. As a result of Chrysler’s restructuring announcement in Canada, GM’s Canadian vehicle sales volume fell only 17.3% compared to 2008, an increase from the previous month.

GM must reduce some of its legacy costs which include its pensions and union health care costs. A part of GM’s ailments arose from investing in supplying truck and SUVs during an economy of high gas prices when consumers were demanding fuel efficient vehicles.

Tony Clement, Canada’s Minister of Industry, is hoping that the CAW will support the restructuring process and re-negotiate their agreement. Whereas a United Auto Workers negotiator has said, “I don’t see how the UAW will do anything until they see what the bondholders will give up.”

The Obama administration is looking toward bankruptcy proceedings for the automakers, “as a mechanism to help them restructure quickly and emerge stronger. [It will] quickly clear away old debts that are weighing them down. What we are asking is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. It will require creditors to recognise that they cannot hold out for the prospect of endless government bailouts.” said Obama.

The auto parts suppliers and IT software exporters in India have already been affected by the declining auto sales. GM and Chrysler software contracts provide US$300 to 350 million a year to vendors in India. As well these two major automakers usually award US$1 billion contracts to auto parts suppliers. “We are worried and closely watching the developments in the US to gauge the impact. The decline in auto sales in the US has already hit the order books of Indian suppliers,” said a Delhi auto parts supplier.

“Going forward, the industry will undoubtedly be smaller, but if our efforts are successful it will be viable and it will support good jobs for Canadians,” said Clements.

Betty Sutton, Ohio’s Congresswoman put forward the CARS act which provides a US$3,000 to 5,000 incentive for those who trade in their vehicle for a fuel-efficient car. “It clearly stimulates the economy, and it gets the consumer into the showroom and gets them buying again. But importantly — and this is what I particularly like about it — it really helps the environment quite a bit in two respects.” said William Clay Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company has not come forward with requests for assistance.

Since December GM and Chrysler have received US$17.4 billion government loans.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The mystery of the location of a viewpoint used by English painter John Constable has been solved, after nearly 200 years. The Stour Valley and Dedham Church was painted in Suffolk, England, between 1814 and 1815, but changes to the landscape meant that the spot he chose was not known, despite the best efforts of historians and art experts.

Now the puzzle has been answered. Martin Atkinson, who works for the National Trust as property manager for East Suffolk, used clues from the painting and looked at old maps to track down the viewpoint. Trees had grown, a hedgerow had been planted and boundaries had moved or disappeared, but Atkinson eventually worked out where Constable had stood. He said, “When I discovered that I had worked out the location where Constable painted this particular masterpiece, I couldn’t believe it. All the pieces of the jigsaw finally fitted together.”

Atkinson used an 1817 map of East Bergholt, where Constable grew up, as a reference point, but found that the view would have changed not long after the painting was completed. “The foreground didn’t fit at all, it was quite unusual as we know Constable painted it in the open air so he would have been standing in the scene. The hedgerow in his work no longer exists and there’s another hedgerow that runs across the scene today which wasn’t there. When you stand on the road on which he would have stood, and use the oak tree as a reference point, you see the same view. It’s great to see where an old master stood – and be inspired by the same view,” he said.

Suffolk, where Constable painted many of his finest paintings, is often called “Constable country”. Most, but not all, of the locations that Constable depicted are known. The picture is now housed in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Software giant Microsoft’s chief lawyer Brad Smith claimed in an interview published in the magazine Fortune on Monday that open-source software products violate 235 of Microsoft’s patents. The main transgressors are claimed to be Linux (107 patents) and OpenOffice.org (45), with e-mail programs infringing 15 patents. Microsoft wants royalties to compensate for the patent breaches.

According to Microsoft’s Vice-President of intellectual property and licensing, Horacio Gutierrez, the company wants to negotiate with the open-source companies rather than sue them. “If we wanted to litigate we would have done that a long time ago. Litigation is not an effective way of going about solutions,” Gutierrez said. According to him, Microsoft has over the last years tried to work towards a “constructive” solution to the alleged problem of patent violation.

Microsoft in the past has used the strategy of cross-licensing to get royalties from companies who infringe their patents, for example in their deal with Novell. On a company blog, Novell reiterated that their deal “is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property.”

“We don’t think that customers will want to continue on without a solution to the problem,” Gutierrez said about Microsoft’s approach to guaranteeing companies that they won’t get sued because they use the allegedly patent-infringing Linux operating system.

The upcoming third version of the GPL licence, the licence under which Linux is released, will prohibit Linux distributors to agree to patent royalty deals. Microsoft called these “attempts to tear down the bridge between proprietary and open-source software that Microsoft has worked to build with the industry and customers.”

A related U.S. Supreme Court ruling from April 30th showed how software patents can be subject to court challenges; basically, if the innovations patented are “obvious”, the patent is weakened. Joe Lindsay, information officer for a mortgage company, pointed out that the Unix code that Linux is based upon preceded Microsoft Windows, which might also be a reason for some patents to be invalid.

Red Hat, the biggest Linux distributor, said in a statement on Monday:

The reality is that the community development approach of free and open source code represents a healthy development paradigm, which, when viewed from the perspective of pending lawsuits related to intellectual property, is at least as safe as proprietary software.
 

Larry Augustin, former CEO of a company called VA Linux (now VA Software), responsible among other things for launching SourceForge.net, an open-source software development community, posted a message on his blog under the title “It’s Time for Microsoft to Put Up or Shut Up”:

If Microsoft believes that Free and Open Source Software violates any of their patents, let them put those patents forward now, in the light of day, where we can all evaluate them on their merits. If not, then stop trying to bully customers into paying royalties to use Open Source.

According to the Fortune report, more than half of the Fortune 500 companies are estimated to use Linux in their data centers.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Last Tuesday, AusAID Australia and the World Bank’s Global Environment Fund (GEF) reached an agreement to give the government of Kiribati US$5 million (AU$4,779,000, NZ$5,985,000, €3,885,000) to install solar panels around the country capital, located on the Tarawa atoll. According to Business Desk of the Brunei Times, AusAID promised AU$3.2 million in funding, while GEF promised US$1 million. The country was the first in the Pacific to make a deal with the World Bank.

The funding was part of a US$530 million (NZ$635 million) package announced at yesterday’s Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland involving New Zealand and the European Union, Australia, the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the World Bank Group, and the United Arab Emirates. Also at the summit yesterday, New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully had announced a national commitment of USD$54,262,000 (AU$51,861,000 NZ$65 million, €42,178,000) to Pacific region energy solutions, of which US$8,348,000 (AU$8 million, NZ$10 million, €6,483,000) would be specifically earmarked for renewable energy and improved energy efficiency in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

Kiribati is heavily dependent on diesel fuel for most of the energy available on the national power grid, which supplies power to half Kiribati’s population of 110,000. In addition, a third of the country’s population lacks access to electricity. Once installation of the solar panels is complete, they are estimated to reduce diesel consumption by 230,000 liters (60,760 gallons) a year and give access to the electricity to some parts of the population that currently have no electricity. The European Union already has committed €100 million to sustainable energy in the region, with €10 million of that coming as a result of an announcement made last week.

In a press release about the news, Kiribati President Anote Tong was quoted as saying, “Kiribati faces big challenges it is remote, it is at risk from the effects of climate change, and it is vulnerable to economic shocks. […] Shifting Kiribati’s focus to reliable solar energy will provide a more secure, more sustainable power source for the country’s people.” Radio New Zealand International quoted Tong as saying, “It’s the first time we are doing this. We’re excited at the prospect of even substituting fossil fuel to a small extent at this stage. What the system being envisaged will only produce around 500 kilowatts, but this is the beginning of what I hope will be a pattern, the trend in the future.”

The European Union’s Fiji-based head of operations for the Pacific region, Renato Mele, supported alternative energy solutions like solar power for the region, but said that solar power had limitations because climate and environmental conditions sometimes meant batteries required to power the panels had a life of only 12 months, compared to other climates where batteries normally last five years. This created the potential to drive up standard operating costs. Mele has also noted these additional costs though are still lower than the cost of diesel power.

One News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver noted, “Governments will be able to put the money they (currently) spend on diesel into things like education and health.”