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July 19, 2016

ARM to be bought by SoftBank

ARM to be bought by SoftBank – Wikinews, the free news source

ARM to be bought by SoftBank

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

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The United Kingdom‘s (UK) largest technology company, ARM Holdings, confirmed on Monday morning that it had accepted an offer from the Japanese company, SoftBank.

ARM logo

ARM designs microchips used in many devices, including smart phones made by Apple and Samsung. It is expected to invest in the so-called Internet of Things, where many everyday items are expected to be connected to the internet into the future.

The deal, worth £24 billion (US$32 billion), is now expected to be presented to shareholders. The amount offered per share is 43% above the value at the close of trading on Friday. Shares rose by 45% on Monday morning in response to the announcement. Three-quarters of shareholders will need to approve the deal for it to go ahead.

ARM has said its headquarters will remain in Cambridge. Simon Segars, ARM’s Chief Executive, also said a pledge by SoftBank to double ARM’s workforce on the UK would be legally binding.

Philip Hammond, the UK Chancellor, said it would be the biggest investment into the UK from Asia, as well as showing that “Britain remains one of the most attractive destinations globally for investors to create jobs and wealth”. Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, had recently questioned the benefit to the nation of such takeovers, but has said this one shows the UK can remain successful outside the European Union.



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May 16, 2016

Australian scientists reveal photographs from world\’s first scanning helium microscope

Australian scientists reveal photographs from world’s first scanning helium microscope

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Monday, May 16, 2016

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Scientists from the University of Newcastle Australia, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Cambridge (UK) have released the first microscopic photographs from the Scanning Helium Microscope prototype (SHeM) that was revealed on Sunday. The photographs, which depict intricate details of chitin (a structural molecule in invertebrates) on a butterfly’s wing and a close up look at a spider’s fang, are the first of their kind from the SHeM prototype, that is more than 20 years in the making. The SHeM prototype is able to take detailed images of organic and polymer electronics, where a traditional electron microscope would likely damage the samples. The prototype shines helium in a similar way to that of a pinhole camera, and has the potential to reveal the chemical content of surfaces that are being photographed.

According to ABC News, Associate Professor Paul Dastoor from the University of Newcastle said “The Scanning Helium Microscope means the samples will be analysed in their true state for the first time ever,”

The Helium atoms used in the SHeM prototype are the second most abundant element in the universe, and the most stable, which ensures that no chemical reactions will take place with other surfaces. The beam from a helium atom is less than 0.1 electron volts, which makes it low energy compared to the 100,000 volt beam used in an electron microscope. The SHeM at its present form can only image with a resolution of up to a micron, but future plans have been developed for the prototype to be redesign to make it a smaller size better suited to a laboratory bench top, and advance the resolution so it reaches the nanometer range.

The microscope is said to have the potential to be used in a variety of research applications such as modern surface science, which can aid in the development of stealth defence technology and new explosives, the ability to view human samples in an un-altered state for medicinal purposes, and could potentially benefit sustainability research and new technology.



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April 25, 2014

UK announces £200 million polar research ship

UK announces £200 million polar research ship

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Friday, April 25, 2014

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UK Chancellor George Osborne today announced a new £200 million research ship to ply Arctic and Antarctic waters.

Cquote1.svg The new vessel will make Nerc’s entire fleet, ton for ton, the most advanced scientific fleet in the world Cquote2.svg

—Nerc boss Professor Duncan Wingham

“One of the final frontiers in the world where there is still much discovery to be done are the polar oceans” said Osborne, explaining “our two current polar exploration ships are nearing the end of their life and need replacing. So I am delighted that we are investing in a new polar research ship to carry cutting edge British technology to put British scientists at the forefront of research in both the Antarctic and the Arctic oceans”.

The icebreaking ship is to belong to the British Antarctic Survey and is funded from a £7 billion pot earmarked for science over the next six or seven years. Osborne told those gathered at Cambridge‘s Laboratory of Molecular Biology today he had “made it [his] personal priority in government to support [scientific] endeavour.”

RRS James Clark Ross, one of two aging ships currently filling the role.
Image: Tom L-C.

Funding body the Natural Environment Research Council (Nerc) says the current ships, RRS James Clark Ross and RRS Ernest Shackleton, are to carry on operating at least until 2020. They were built in 1990 and 1995 respectively; RRS Ernest Shackleton is a leased Norwegian vessel. The new vessel is intended to be able to stay in the field longer and, unlike RRS James Clark Ross, feature a helipad.

Other specifications include the ability to launch unmanned submarines and scientific gliders, devices towed behind ships to gather data, as well as power through 2m (6.6ft) thick ice at three knots.

Osborne also announced the start of consultations on how to spend the rest of the £7 billion. The announcements come shortly after Nerc completed upgrades to ocean-going ‘bluewater’ ships RRS Discovery and RRS James Cook. “The new vessel will make Nerc’s entire fleet, ton for ton, the most advanced scientific fleet in the world” according to Nerc head Professor Duncan Wingham, speaking to the BBC.



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August 3, 2011

Russian geographer Andrey Kapitsa dies aged 80

Russian geographer Andrey Kapitsa dies aged 80

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

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Satellite image of Lake Vostok

Andrey Kapitsa, the Russian geographer best known for his part in the discovery of Lake Vostok in Antarctica, has died in Moscow at the age of 80. He participated in four Soviet expeditions to the South Pole during his career.

Kapitsa was born to Physics Nobel Prize laureate Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa in Cambridge, England in 1931. He graduated from the Moscow State University‘s Faculty of Geography in 1953, and took part in the first of his four expeditions to the South Pole two years later. In 1967, he led the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences on a two year expedition through eastern Africa.

Along with other scientists, Kapitsa is credited with the discovery of Lake Vostok in eastern Antarctica. Lake Vostok, named after the polar research station, lies four kilometres below the ice and is around 15.5 thousand km². It is believed that the lake is home to ancient organisms, which have evolved over time.

Kapitsa’s body will lie in state on August 4 in the foyer of the Moscow State University’s Community Centre.



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December 5, 2010

UK Parliament to vote on tuition fee rise on Thursday

UK Parliament to vote on tuition fee rise on Thursday

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Students protesting outside the UK parliament in November.
Image: BillyH.

The controversial plan to raise university tuition fees in England and Wales will be voted on in the House of Commons on Thursday, December 9. The policy has been the cause of protests across the United Kingdom by students, some of which have turned violent. It has also been a source of considerable criticism and political difficulties for the Liberal Democrats and has raised questions as to the long-term viability of the Coalition government.

The new policy on tuition fees will allow universities to double the current tuition fees from £3,290 per year to around £6,000 per year, as well as allowing some universities to get special approval from the Office For Fair Access (OFFA) to raise their fees to £9,000 per year. If passed, the new fee structure will apply starting in the academic year of 2012/2013. The vote on Thursday will only be on the fee rise, with other matters being voted on in the new year following publication of a new higher education white paper.

Vince Cable and Nick Clegg will likely vote for the changes, but how many Lib Dems will join them?
Image: Nick Clegg.

In addition to increasing fees, the policy will increase the payment threshold at which payment is made. It is currently set at £15,000 and will rise to £21,000, but the interest rate will also rise. It is currently 1.5% but will now vary from between 0% and 3% plus inflation (using the Retail Price Index).

The fee increase follows the publication of an independent review by Lord Browne, former chief executive of BP, a process started by Peter Mandelson, the former Business Secretary. Before the election, two main options were mooted for funding reform in higher education: either an increase in tuition fees or a graduate tax. The Browne Review endorsed the former and the findings of the Review form the basis of the government’s policy. The graduate tax was supported by the Liberal Democrats before the election, and in the Labour leadership elections it was supported by Ed Balls and the winner of the leadership election, Ed Milliband.

Conservative members of the Coalition intend to vote for the reform, and the Labour opposition have been vociferous critics of the rise in fees, despite the previous government’s introduction of top-up fees. The Liberal Democratic members of the Coalition have been left in a politically difficult position regarding the fee hike and have been target of much criticism from protesters. Liberal Democrats have opposed the rise in tuition fees: their party manifesto included a commitment to ending tuition fees within six years, and many signed a pledge organised by the National Union of Students to not vote for any increase in tuition fees.

The Coalition agreement allows Liberal Democrats to opt to abstain on votes for a number of policies including tuition fees. Many Liberal Democrats are expected to abstain, and a few MPs have stated that they will vote against it including former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell, and the recently elected party president Tim Farron, as well as a number of Liberal Democrat back-benchers. Liberal Democrat party leaders have said that they will act collectively, but the BBC have said senior Liberal Democrats have admitted in private that government whips will not be able to force all Liberal Democrats to vote for the policy.

On Tuesday, the Liberal Democrats parliamentary party will meet in the Commons to decide on their collective position. If all ministers decide to vote for the policy, it will probably pass, but if only cabinet ministers (and maybe parliamentary private secretaries) vote for the policy, there is considerable risk of it not passing. If the Coalition does not manage to get the policy through Parliament, it will fuel doubts about the continued effectiveness and viability of the government.

How deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and business secretary Vince Cable vote has been of considerable controversy. Although under the Coalition agreement, they are allowed to abstain, suggestions of doing so have prompted criticism. It was suggested last week that Cable may abstain even though as business secretary he is directly responsible for higher education policy, and has been heavily involved in designing the proposals. Cable has said that Liberal Democrat support of the tuition fee changes has allowed them to push it in a more “progressive” direction.

Cable has now decided that he will vote for the policy, and argues that the policy has “a lot of protection for students from low income backgrounds and graduates who have a low income or take time out for family”. He also believes “there’s common consensus that the system we’ve devised is a progressive one”.

“Dr Cable has performed so many U-turns over the issue of university funding that he is spinning on his heels,” said National Union of Students president Aaron Porter. “That may stand him in good stead with the Strictly Come Dancing judges but the electorate will see it differently.”

Former deputy PM John Prescott has joked about Vince Cable’s u-turns on Twitter.
Image: Steve Punter.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott joked on Twitter that “On tuition fees we’ve noticed Vince Cable’s remarkable transformation in the last few weeks from stalling to Mr In Between”—a reference to a previous attack Prescott made on Gordon Brown as having transformed from “Stalin to Mr Bean“.

On Question Time this week, Liberal Democrat treasury secretary Danny Alexander also confirmed he is prepared to vote for the policy but delegated the question to the meeting of Liberal Democrats on Tuesday.

The politics of the tuition fee debate may also affect the by-election taking place in Oldham East and Saddleworth following the removal of Phil Woolas, where Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates will both be standing for the first by-election following the formation of the Coalition government.

Opposition to the policy has become the focus for a large number of protests across the country by both current university students, many school pupils and political allies of the student movement.

On the Nov. 10 demonstration, protestors occupied Millbank tower.
Image: Charlie Owen.

On November 10, between 30,000 and 52,000 protesters from across Britain marched through central London in a demonstration organised by the National Union of Students and the University and College Union, which represents teachers and lecturers in further and higher education. At the November 10 protest, a number of people occupied Millbank Tower, an office block which houses the Conservative Party. Fifty people were arrested and fourteen were injured. NUS president Aaron Porter condemned the attack and said it was caused by “those who are here to cause trouble”, and that the actions of a “minority of idiots” shouldn’t “undermine 50,000 who came to make a peaceful protest”.

Following the November 10 march, other protests have taken place across the country including an occupation at the University of Manchester, a sit-in at the John Owens Building in Manchester, and a demonstration at the University of Cambridge. A protest was also run outside the offices of The Guardian where Nick Clegg—who was giving a lecture inside the building—was executed in effigy while students protested “Nick Clegg, shame on you, shame on you for turning blue” (blue is the colour of the Conservative Party).

A graffitied police van in Trafalgar Square at the November 24 demonstration.
Image: yllA.

On November 24, a large number of protests took place across the country including a mass walk-out from universities and schools organised on Facebook, numerous university occupations, and demonstrations in Manchester, Cambridge, Birmingham, Leeds, Brighton and Cardiff, and a well-publicised occupation of University College London.

In London, a protest was planned to march down Whitehall to Parliament, but police held protesters in Trafalgar Square until they eventually broke free and ran around in a game of “cat and mouse” along the side streets around Charing Cross Road, Covent Garden and Picadilly Circus.

Simon Hardy from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts described the police response including the controversial ‘kettling’ of protesters as “absolutely outrageous”. Green MP Caroline Lucas raised the police response including the use of kettling in the House of Commons and stated that it was “neither proportionate, nor, indeed, effective”.

On November 30, protests continued in London culminating in 146 arrests of protesters in Trafalgar Square, and protests in Cardiff, Cambridge, Newcastle, Bath, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Belfast, Brighton, Manchester and Bristol. Protesters in Sheffield attempted to invade and occupy Nick Clegg’s constituency office. Occupations of university buildings started or continued at University College London, Newcastle University, Cambridge University and Nottingham University, as well as council buildings in Oxford and Birmingham.

A “day of action” is being planned on December 8, the day before the Commons vote, by the National Union of Students.



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November 24, 2010

UK students protest for second time this month

UK students protest for second time this month

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

At least three hundred students gathered outside the gates of Cardiff University.

Mass-walkouts took place today in cities throughout the United Kingdom, as students campaigned against rising tuition fees and government cuts.

Protests took place for the second time in as many weeks in places such as Aberystwyth, Cambridge, Southampton, Liverpool, and Brighton. Events included a ‘study-in’ at the Edinburgh Liberal Democrat headquarters, a 10am protest in Trafalgar Square attended by thousands, and a ‘dress in red’ march in Manchester.

In Cardiff, at least a hundred students rallied outside the main gates of Cardiff University‘s main building, in an event organised by a group named Actions Against Cuts Cardiff, with the support of a member of the National Union of Students executive committee. Occupations of university buildings have also begun in Birmingham, Plymouth, and the Royal Holloway.

In London, students are infuriated by what they say is London South Bank University‘s decision to ban anti-cut related meetings from their campus earlier this month. One student described it as “undemocratic and scandalous” as, according to the students, they were forced out of their booked room by security guards, and prevented from partaking on any on-campus meetings — but South Bank University maintains that it was a “misunderstanding” due to a double-booked room. Dr. Phil Cardew, Pro Vice-Chancellor of LSBU, maintained that “freedom of speech lies at the very heart of the higher education community whether it is academic, political or social debate”, and that “the students were encouraged to continue their discussions in the Students Union”.

A police van was vandalised in Trafalgar Square.

Not all the demonstrations were peaceful. Central London saw two officers injured as the police attempted to hold back the protesters, a police van attacked and vandalised, and three arrests were made. Police, keen to make sure that the 30 Millbank occupation was not repeated, were out in force, clashing with students in Cambridge, where two arrests were made, and kettling protesters of up to a thousand, according to protest organisers, as dusk approached.

The group that organised the protests, the “National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts” (NCAFAC), told students in the run-up to the protests to not “be afraid of blocking traffic if you have enough people”. On their blog, they stated that “[they] would like to see university students planning to march around their campus, bursting into lecture theatres and spreading the word”, a move that would breach many University codes of conduct. When contacted by Wikinews, the group did not respond to requests for clarification.

Universities are facing more than £900m ($1.4bn) cuts in the next three years. This protest comes as, earlier this month, 50,000 students and lecturers took to the streets in a National Union of Students organised rally, which culminated in the violent occupation of the Conservative Party campaign headquarters at 30 Millbank. In Westminster, a student suspected of throwing a fire extinguisher off the headquarters’ roof pleaded guilty in court today, under the charge of violent disorder, and will appear in Southwark Crown Court at a later date for sentencing, the maximum of which is five years imprisonment. Some protesters involved in the 30 Millbank occupation led an ‘energising meeting’ in Cardiff yesterday, prior to today’s demonstration.

Many students do not understand the reasoning behind the cuts. The Trotskyist student group, Cardiff University Socialist Students, wonder why, compared to the “£120 billion the government throws away every year on evaded, avoided and uncollected taxes”, the “few billion” required to pay tuition fees is “tiny”. The group also advocates cutting the Trident nuclear deterrent in order to pay for fees, and wonder why the vice-chancellor of the university was awarded a 4% pay rise (to £275k p.a.) compared to last year, whilst during the economic recession.

Last week, three hundred sixth-formers marched in Finchley, Margaret Thatcher’s old constituency, throwing shirts at the local Tory headquarters, echoing the phrase “They ripped the shirts of our backs”. Lower income college students are hit badly by the budget cuts, as plans to abolish Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), the up-to £30 a week subsidy for 16-19 year-old full-time students with household incomes of £30,810 or less.

The protests were primarily organised on the popular social networking site, Facebook. One Facebook user said earlier this week that the protests were “a perfect opportunity for students to show how disappointed we are with Nick Clegg”, who was advised by security officers earlier to desist from cycling from his home in Putney to Downing Street over fears that he could be pounced upon by angry students en route.



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December 8, 2009

Walt Disney World twinned with Swindon, England

Walt Disney World twinned with Swindon, England

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
Image: Katie Rommel-Esham.

Swindon, England, has an unusual new twin town: Walt Disney World in Florida. The Wiltshire town beat 24 others in a competition to become the first ever to be twinned with the famous resort.

Rebecca Warren, a local building society worker, created a poem and video praising Swindon which won over the judges. Among other features she highlighted the town’s well-known Magic Roundabout, a complicated junction composed of five interlinked mini-roundabouts, comparing it to Disney World’s teacup rides.

Swindon’s Magic Roundabout.
Image: Dickbauch.

A sign marking the twinning is planned for the roundabout. Ms. Warren will travel to Florida with her eleven-year-old nephew and five-year-old niece to unveil a similar sign at the resort. A celebration will be held in Swindon in January, and it will also be the focus of an exhibit at Walt Disney World’s Epcot park.

“Britain clearly has a love for Walt Disney World and long-standing affinity with the parks and their magic, which is probably why the number and quality of entries received was so high,” said Disney’s Hugh Wood. Other towns shortlisted in the competition included Aberdeen, Blackpool, Milton Keynes, and Cambridge.



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February 17, 2009

British writer Edward Upward dies at 105

British writer Edward Upward dies at 105

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

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British writer Edward Upward has died at the age of 105. Upward died on Friday, February 13 in Pontefract, England. He was believed to be the UK’s oldest living author.

Upward was born Edward Falaise Upward on September 9, 1903 in Romford, England. He attended Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, where, in 1924, he was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for English Verse. He was attending the college on a history scholarship he received in 1922.

Upward joined the communist party in 1932 after the fall of Britain’s Labour Party in the summer of 1931. He recalls joining the party because he felt “psychological need” so satisfy his imagination of it. He was convinced his fear of becoming mentally unstable would be cured, because his cousin Allen, who was also an author, killed himself after going crazy. Upward stated he was impressed with his cousin’s suicide, because he thought he would die the same way.

Upward’s first novel Journey to the Border, was published by the Hogarth Press in 1938. It described in poetic prose, the rebellion of a private tutor against his employer and the menacing world of the 1930s.


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February 27, 2008

Minor earthquake shakes England

Minor earthquake shakes England – Wikinews, the free news source

Minor earthquake shakes England

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The epicentre of the quake according to USGS (Source: NASA Worldwind).

The United Kingdom was hit by a minor earthquake on February 27, 2008 at 00:56:45 UTC. Tremors were reported as wide spread as Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, Middlesbrough, Cambridge, London, Birmingham and Southampton.

The epicentre appears to be in the East Midlands region, 15 miles north-east of Lincoln co-ordinates 53.321°N, 0.314°W, with a magnitude of 4.9 according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, 5.0 according to the GFZ Potsdam, 4.7 according to USGS, and 5.2 according to the British Geological Survey. As such it was similar or stronger than the 2002 earthquake centred on Dudley which was recorded as being 4.8 and caused damage to buildings.

There was also an aftershock at about 0400 GMT reaching 1.8 on the Richter Scale.

It has been reported that a number of buildings have been damaged and a man in South Yorkshire suffered a broken pelvis caused by falling masonry.

Strong earthquakes are relatively infrequent occurrences in the UK, the last widely-reported quake having occurred in Kent on April 28, 2007. The British Geological Survey reported that … “earthquakes of this size occur in the mainland UK roughly every 30 years, although are more common in offshore areas”. They also reported that … “this is the largest earthquake in the UK since the magnitude 5.4 ML Lleyn Peninsula earthquake in 1984, which was widely felt across England and Wales.” [1]



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July 6, 2007

Raids take place as enquiry into failed UK bombings continues

Raids take place as enquiry into failed UK bombings continues

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Australian police have questioned four more people in connection with the failed bombing attempts in London and Glasgow, seizing computers and other evidence in several raids.

The four being questioned are all doctors, working in hospitals in Perth and Kalgoorlie. They are reported to be of Indian origin, and have all been linked to the UK’s National Health Service. Two of the men arrested in the UK have similarly been linked to Western Australian hospitals, to which they had applied for jobs, receiving multiple rejections.

Police have been granted an extra 96 hours to question Mohammed Haneef, who was arrested at Brisbane International Airport on July 3. They will be examining several thousand files stored on Haneef’s laptop and a mobile telephone SIM card which had been left with a suspect.

Raids have also taken place in Cambridge, UK, at which four of the arrested suspects are believed to have lived and met in 2005.

The four men being questioned in Australia have not currently been placed under arrest, but are described as having links to the UK by the Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty.

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