News briefs:May 26, 2010


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Surgeons reattach boy’s three severed limbs


Tuesday, March 29, 2005A team of Australian surgeons yesterday reattached both hands and one foot to 10-year-old Perth boy, Terry Vo, after a brick wall which collapsed during a game of basketball fell on him, severing the limbs. The wall gave way while Terry performed a slam-dunk, during a game at a friend’s birthday party.

The boy was today awake and smiling, still in some pain but in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery, according to plastic surgeon, Mr Robert Love.

“What we have is parts that are very much alive so the reattached limbs are certainly pink, well perfused and are indeed moving,” Mr Love told reporters today.

“The fact that he is moving his fingers, and of course when he wakes up he will move both fingers and toes, is not a surprise,” Mr Love had said yesterday.

“The question is more the sensory return that he will get in the hand itself and the fine movements he will have in the fingers and the toes, and that will come with time, hopefully. We will assess that over the next 18 months to two years.

“I’m sure that he’ll enjoy a game of basketball in the future.”

The weight and force of the collapse, and the sharp brick edges, resulted in the three limbs being cut through about 7cm above the wrists and ankle.

Terry’s father Tan said of his only child, the injuries were terrible, “I was scared to look at him, a horrible thing.”

The hands and foot were placed in an ice-filled Esky and rushed to hospital with the boy, where three teams of medical experts were assembled, and he was given a blood transfusion after experiencing massive blood loss. Eight hours of complex micro-surgery on Saturday night were followed by a further two hours of skin grafts yesterday.

“What he will lose because it was such a large zone of traumatised skin and muscle and so on, he will lose some of the skin so he’ll certainly require lots of further surgery regardless of whether the skin survives,” said Mr Love said today.

The boy was kept unconscious under anaesthetic between the two procedures. In an interview yesterday, Mr Love explained why:

“He could have actually been woken up the next day. Because we were intending to take him back to theatre for a second look, to look at the traumatised skin flaps, to close more of his wounds and to do split skin grafting, it was felt the best thing to do would be to keep him stable and to keep him anaesthetised.”

Professor Wayne Morrison, director of the respected Bernard O’Brien Institute of Microsurgery and head of plastic and hand surgery at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital, said he believed the operation to be a world first.

Ahmadinejad sends letter to George W. Bush


Tuesday, May 9, 2006For the first time in three decades, direct and at least partially public diplomatic communication will commence between the United States (US) and Iran. Iranian government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sent a letter to the U.S. president George W. Bush proposing “new solutions for getting out of international problems and the current fragile situation of the world”.

Mr Gholam-Hossein Elham did not say whether the letter mentioned the nuclear dispute, one of the diplomatic problems currently straining relations between Iran and the USA. This information arrived one day after the Iranian parliament announced that it might retract from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if Western pressure over its programme was to increase.

Differing reports have been made as to whether or not the letter will be made public, and if so, when. In its online report of 8 May 2006, 09:25 GMT, the BBC quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi as saying that the contents of the letter would be made public once Bush had received it. The updated version of the report of 8 May 2006, 14:52 GMT, quotes Asefi as saying that the contents would be made public “at the right time”. An ABC report quoted Gholam-Hossein Elham as saying “it is not an open letter.”

Iran’s foreign affairs minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, delivered the letter to the United States’ interests section in the Swiss embassy in Tehran on Monday. The United States has not held diplomatic relations with Iran since the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said “this letter isn’t it. This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort.”

“It isn’t addressing the issues that we’re dealing with in a concrete way,” she added.

John R. Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, also read the letter, saying, “I think it is typical of Iran that when major decisions are about to be taken … that they have tried to throw sand in the eyes of the proponents of the action. That’s what this may be.”

The letter has since been put on an official Iranian website, and on Tuesday, Ahmadinejad said “the letter to US President George Bush carries the Iranian nation’s views and comments on international issues as well as suggestions for resolving the many problems facing humanity.”

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Many hurt on Alton Towers ride


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Investigations are continuing at Alton Towers after a total of 29 people were injured on a roller-coaster.

Six people were taken to hospital after the accident at the UK’s most famous theme park. The front carriages of the Runaway Mine Train, which had 46 passengers on it at the time, became separated and subsequently crashed back into the rest of the ride at the Staffordshire theme park.

A Staffordshire Ambulance spokesman said two women, aged in their 30s or 40s, were flown by air ambulance to North Staffordshire Hospital suffering possible whiplash, spinal or abdominal injuries. A third woman was taken by land ambulance to the same hospital and a man is thought to have made his own way to a casualties centre in Leek. Two other people were taken to Accident and Emergency later, and the other people who were injured were treated for cuts and bruises on the premises.

The ride, which opened in 1990 and is one of Alton Towers oldest attractions, was immediately evacuated and closed to the public. Alton Towers and the Health and Safety Executive are investigating the incident which occurred at 11:00am local time on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the theme park announced that “the ride has been closed and will remain so whilst a thorough investigation is carried out”. It is unclear how long the ride will be closed for, but the rest of the theme park will stay open.

On the Alton Towers website, customers are told the Runaway Mine Train lets them “rattle along the rickety rails and mine shafts, past trees and rivers, on a speeding locomotive that’s out of control – and getting faster every second” .

The roller coaster was manufactured by Mack Rides, and is situated in the Katanga Canyon area of the theme park. The train normally makes two circuits for each ride, but on quiet days, it has been known to make three.

Wikinews interviews former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party


Monday, November 5, 2012

With the U.S. presidential election looming, former New Mexico governor and current Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson spoke with Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn on an assortment of economic, foreign, and social issues. In the interview, Johnson makes his final plea to voters before they cast their ballots on Election Day, November 6.

Though a member of the Libertarian Party in the early 1990s, Johnson was elected and re-elected governor of New Mexico in 1994 and 1998 as a Republican. During his governorship, he vetoed over 750 bills, more than all other then-governors combined, and left the state with a $1 billion budget surplus. He briefly ran for president as a Republican in 2011 before rejoining the Libertarian Party to seek its 2012 presidential nomination.

After winning the nomination this past May, Johnson has campaigned throughout the nation espousing the Fair Tax, spending cuts across the board, a repeal of Obamacare, an audit of the Federal Reserve, a non-interventionist foreign policy, an end to the Drug War, and legalization of same-sex marriage. He and his running mate, Judge Jim Gray of California, have attained ballot access in all U.S. states except Michigan, where he is a write-in candidate, and Oklahoma. Nationally, he has received four percent registered-voter support in the past two CNN/Opinion Research Polls that included him with President Barack Obama, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. It is the campaign’s goal to reach five percent on Election Day, which will enable the party to receive ballot access and federal funding on par with the two major parties.

With Wikinews, Johnson discusses the federal budget, education, entitlements, the Syrian uprising, Mexican Drug War, same-sex marriage, the Libertarian Party, and his political future.

Contents

  • 1 Economic matters
  • 2 Foreign affairs
  • 3 Social issues
  • 4 Libertarian Party and political future
  • 5 Related news
  • 6 Sources

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.

Norway wins the Eurovision Song Contest 2009


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Norway has won the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, held Saturday evening in Moscow, Russia, by the largest margin in the Contest’s history. Alexander Rybak‘s song “Fairytale” received 387 points, 169 points more than the second place entrant, Yohanna, who represented Iceland with the song “Is It True?

Rybak, 23, was the runaway winner from the beginning of the voting, and was the odds-on favorite with British bookies. The other bookie favorites, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Greece, all found places in the Top 10, placing fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively. It was the first Top 10 showing for the United Kingdom in seven years.

Other notable scores included Estonia, who finished in sixth place after qualifying for the final for the first time ever since the pre-qualifying round was introduced five years ago, and France, who placed eighth for their first Top 10 finish since 2002. Spanish singer Soraya Arnelas placed joint twenty-third after a difficult week, which included public outcry against her and her national broadcaster.

Russians hoping to repeat a victory on home turf were disappointed as Anastasiya Prikhodko‘s song “Mamo” placed eleventh. Israel’s song “There Must Be Another Way,” sung by a Jewish-Arab duo, marking the first time an Arab performer represented Israel in any capacity, placed sixteenth. Germany, despite having lots of publicity before the event for signing on burlesque performer Dita von Teese to appear on-stage with their entrants, Alex Swings Oscar Sings!, placed twentieth, the third year in a row Germany placed in the bottom quartile.

For the first time in 29 years, Sir Terry Wogan did not provide a commentary on the UK’s broadcast, Irish comedian Graham Norton replaced Sir Terry, who has complained that “it was no longer a music contest.”

According to Norton, the event was blemished by the Russian policing of it, and he commented on-air that “heavy-handed policing has really marred what has been a fantastic Eurovision.”

This is Norway’s third Eurovision win. They previously won in 1985 and 1995. As winners, Norway and its national broadcaster, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), will host the event next May.

Here are the results of the finale night.

Draw Country Artist Song Place Points
01 Lithuania Sasha Son Love 23 23
02 Israel Noa and Mira Awad There Must Be Another Way 16 53
03 France Patricia Kaas Et s’il fallait le faire 8 107
04 Sweden Malena Ernman La voix 21 33
05 Croatia Igor Cukrov feat. Andrea Lijepa Tena 18 45
06 Portugal Flor-de-Lis Todas as ruas do amor 15 57
07 Iceland Yohanna Is It True? 2 218
08 Greece Sakis Rouvas This Is Our Night 7 120
09 Armenia Inga and Anush Jan Jan 10 92
10 Russia Anastasiya Prikhodko Mamo 11 91
11 Azerbaijan AySel and Arash Always 3 207
12 Bosnia and Herzegovina Regina Bistra voda 9 106
13 Moldova Nelly Ciobanu Hora din Moldova 14 68
14 Malta Chiara What If We 22 31
15 Estonia Urban Symphony Rändajad 6 129
16 Denmark Brinck Believe Again 13 74
17 Germany Alex Swings Oscar Sings! Miss Kiss Kiss Bang 20 35
18 Turkey Hadise Düm Tek Tek 4 177
19 Albania Kejsi Tola Carry Me in Your Dreams 17 48
20 Norway Alexander Rybak Fairytale 1 387
21 Ukraine Svetlana Loboda Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl) 12 76
22 Romania Elena The Balkan Girls 19 40
23 United Kingdom Jade Ewen It’s My Time 5 173
24 Finland Waldo’s People Lose Control 25 22
25 Spain Soraya Arnelas La noche es para mí 23 23

Former US Speaker of the House Hastert planning to retire


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Republican officials announced today that Rep. Dennis Hastert of Illinois will be leaving the United States Congress when his present congressional term concludes at the end of next year.

Hastert has served in Illinois’ 14th district since 1987 and his time as Speaker makes him longest serving Republican Speaker in history. Party officials have scheduled a formal announcement of Hastert’s retirement for Friday, August 17.

Hastert’s decision has been expected since the Republicans lost the elections last November and he was removed as Speaker. For eight years, he’s been second in line of presidential succession behind only the vice-president.

The party officials who discussed his planned retirement did so on condition of anonymity because there had been no public announcement yet.

David S. Touretzky discusses Scientology, Anonymous and Tom Cruise


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

David S. Touretzky, prominent free speech activist and critic of Scientology, discussed his opinions on the recent Internet backlash against the Church of Scientology in an interview with former Scientologist and Wikinews reporter Nicholas Turnbull. The recent conflict on the Internet between critics of Scientology and the Church has been spurred on in declarations by a nebulous Internet entity using the name Anonymous that the Church of Scientology “will be destroyed”. Anonymous has directed recent protests at Scientology centres across the world, which have attracted significant numbers of individuals supporting the cause. In recent e-mail correspondence with Wikinews, a representative of the Church of Scientology declared that the Church considers the activities of Anonymous to be illegal, and that Anonymous “will be handled and stopped”.

Touretzky, a research professor in artificial intelligence and computational neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University, has been a prominent critic of the Church of Scientology since mid-1995, and has been protesting against Scientology vociferously since then; he has also run websites that publish material that Scientology wishes to keep suppressed from the public eye, such as extracts from Scientology’s formerly-confidential Operating Thetan (OT) materials. Touretzky views the actions of the Church of Scientology as being “a threat to free speech”, and has endured harassment by the Church of Scientology for his activities.

The Church of Scientology continues to suffer damage to its public reputation through increased exposure on the Internet and vocal protests by Scientology critics such as Prof. Touretzky. A recent event that focused intense attention on Scientology’s totalitarian attitude was the leak of an internal Church of Scientology propaganda video to the Internet video sharing site YouTube, in which celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise spoke heavily in Scientology’s jargon and stated that that “we [Scientology] are the authorities” on resolving the difficulties of humanity. The declaration of war by Anonymous followed shortly after this leak, in the form of a video posted to the Internet.

The ongoing dispute, cast by some as Scientology versus the Internet, brought Scientology terms such as “SP” (Suppressive Person, an enemy of Scientology) and “KSW” (Keeping Scientology Working) into general usage by non-Scientologists from the late 1990s onwards; increased attention has been drawn to Scientology by the release of the Cruise video in addition to media coverage. This focus has caused an even greater propagation of these terms across the outside world, as Touretzky comments in the interview.

Wikinews asked Prof. Touretzky about the impact that the activities of Anonymous will have on Scientology, the public relations effect of the Tom Cruise video, the recent departure of individuals from the Church of Scientology’s executive management, the strategies that Anonymous will employ and Touretzky’s experiences of picketing the Church.