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October 4, 2008

U.S. Senate approves revised bailout package after controversial additions

U.S. Senate approves revised bailout package after controversial additions

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

The U.S. Senate passed a revised bailout bill designed to help the struggling U.S. financial economy, which has measures nearly identical to the bill rejected by the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday.

“Senate Democrats and Republicans believe it is essential that we work quickly on this important legislation to restore confidence to our financial system and strengthen the economy,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

George W. Bush meeting with Representatives of American Businesses after the approval of the bail out.

The new revisions include raising the FDIC insurance cap to $250,000, a move designed to please progressives. However, the $110 billion in tax breaks, earmarks and what has been called pork barrel spending is not offset by any increases in revenues and has added opposition to the bill from some Representatives in the House.

Earmarks added into the bailout bill included $192 million in tax rebates for the Virgin Islands rum industry, $148 million in tax cuts for the wool industry, $100 million tax cuts to the auto racing industry, and $48 million in Hollywood tax incentives.

Vice President of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Steve Ellis, offered his explanation for the pork and earmarks added in. “People who support some of these provisions will forget about the $700 billion and concerns they may have on that, and say, ‘If you give me a few million in tax breaks for my constituents, I’ll go along'”.

The tactic seems to have worked, however, managing to flip enough votes to pass the bill.

“The inclusion of parity, tax extenders and the FDIC increases has caused me to reconsider my position,” said Representative Jim Ramstad (R Minnesota), who voted against the previous bill on Monday. “All three additions have greatly improved the bill.”

But Representative Marcy Kaptur (D Ohio) was not changing her no vote. “I will not support this legislation because it’s the wrong medicine,” she said.

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The Senate took H.R.1424, a bill originating in the House concerning “equity in the provision of mental health and substance-related disorder benefits under group health plans, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment,” and extended it with the bailout provisions.

H.R.1424 was introduced on March 9, 2007, by Rep. Patrick Kennedy (RI-1) and had the support of First Lady Rosalind Carter. It is noted on the Congressional Website that “On 10/1/2008, the Senate passed H.R.1424 as the vehicle for the economic rescue legislation. In the EAS version of the bill (Engrossed Amendment as Agreed to by the Senate), Division A (pp.1-110) is referred to as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008; Division B (pp. 110-255) is referred to as the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008; and Division C (pp. 255-441) is referred to as the Tax Extenders and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008.” It was not treated as an appropriations bill in the House.

There were two votes in the Senate. The first was to amend H.R.1424, which required 3/5 to be accepted, which it was. The second was a vote on the bill. Passage of the Bill required only a 1/2 majority. It was passed with 74 yeas and 25 nays. Senator Kennedy did not vote.

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Study estimates first human HIV infection 100 years ago

Study estimates first human HIV infection 100 years ago

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1
Image: CDC.

An eight year study, published in scientific journal Nature, claims the HIV-1 virus that leads to AIDS could have infected humans around 1908 in Africa. Scientists found traces of the HIV-1 genome collected in 1960 from a woman who lived in Léopoldville, presently called Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An earlier study had also isolated the virus from a 1959 blood sample of a male from Léopoldville. Study of both the samples and estimate of the rate at which the virus mutates over time has led the researchers to conclude that the human strain could have been around for 100 years.

The study, co-sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was carried out by Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona and colleagues from the United States, France, Belgium, Australia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Denmark.

Cquote1.svg HIV is one of these pathogens that you could almost think of as living on the edge of extinction. It means there are things we could do to actually make it so that it doesn’t have a chance of spreading. Cquote2.svg

—Michael Worobey, University of Arizona in Tucson

Earlier estimates of this nature had indicated the first infection in humans occurred between 1915 and 1941. The present study pushes the date of the infection back to sometime between 1884 and 1924, with a more focused estimate at 1908. Earlier studies have suggested that HIV-1 virus was spread from chimpanzees to humans in Cameroon.

“Now, for the first time, we have been able to compare two relatively ancient HIV strains. That helped us to calibrate how quickly the virus evolved and make some really robust inferences about when it crossed into humans, how the epidemic grew from that time, and what factors allowed the virus to enter and become a successful human pathogen,” Dr. Worobey said.

“HIV is one of these pathogens that you could almost think of as living on the edge of extinction,” Worobey continued. He believes that had HIV not been carried to a city, it may not have survived the jump to humans.

“It means there are things we could do to actually make it so that it doesn’t have a chance of spreading,” Worobey said.

The first human infection could have happened around the time when the colonial cities were established in Africa. Rapid urbanization in colonial Africa around the beginning of the twentieth century may be responsible for the spread of the AIDS pandemic. It is estimated that several thousand people were infected by the 1960s. Today, HIV infection is reported in 33 million people and has killed 25 million. Researchers opine that an understanding of the origin and pathways for human infection of the virus could help in developing a vaccine to fight it.



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OJ Simpson found guilty in kidnapping, armed robbery case

Filed under: Archived,Crime and law,Nevada,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

OJ Simpson found guilty in kidnapping, armed robbery case

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

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File photo of Simpson
Image: Gerald Johnson.

After a deliberation of around thirteen hours late last night, a Clark County, Nevada jury convicted University of Southern California alumnus O. J. Simpson and an accomplice of twelve criminal charges. This comes thirteen years to the day after the widely publicised “trial of the century” acquitted him of the 1994 murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Simpson, a retired American football player, former car-rental promoter, and actor, was on trial for multiple serious crimes stemming from a violent room-invasion robbery and kidnapping incident that occurred at the Palace Station resort in Las Vegas during the evening of September 13, 2007.

Simpson was remanded and taken into custody immediately and was taken from the courtroom in handcuffs after the verdicts were read. Depending on the sentence handed down, he may end up imprisoned for the rest of his natural life.

He was found guilty on a total of twelve counts. Count one was for “Conspiracy to Commit a Crime.” This conviction could result in up to twelve years imprisonment.

Count two was “Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping,” while the third offence he was convicted of was “Conspiracy to Commit Robbery.” Both of these crimes will result in sentences of one to six years imprisonment.

The fourth count “Burglary with a Deadly Weapon.” This conviction could result in anything from two to fifteen years imprisonment for Simpson.

The fifth and sixth convictions were both for “First-degree Kidnapping with a Deadly Weapon.” For the two convictions combined, Simpson will receive a sentence of 30 years or life imprisonment.

Counts seven and eight regard Robbery with a Deadly Weapon. Each conviction could result of a prison sentence of between three and 30 years.

Section nine and ten regard assault with a deadly weapon, and they carry a penalty of one to six years imprisonment, while the final two convictions are for coercion with a deadly weapon, and carry the same penalty.

During the high-profile kidnapping and robbery trial, Simpson found himself in trouble with court officials. Ordered under the terms of his bail to have no contact with fellow defendants or witnesses, he violated this in a foul-languaged message left for his bail bondsman. Miguel Pereira of “You Ring We Spring” received the expletive-laden message intended for his co-defendant, which the prosecutor, Chris Owens, claimed was threatening.



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Nebraska teacher sentenced to 6 years for sex with student

Filed under: Archived,Crime and law,North America,Sex crimes,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

Nebraska teacher sentenced to 6 years for sex with student

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

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Kelsey Peterson, a former Nebraskan teacher has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for transporting a minor across state lines to have sex. She traveled to Mexico with a 13-year-old boy with whom she previously had an affair. Peterson took the boy to Mexico in October 2006 after accusations that she was having an affair with the boy surfaced. She was arrested in Mexico when the boy called his family in the United States.

She was charged with kidnapping and first degree sexual assault. Peterson’s attorney claimed that the boy’s birth certificate was possibly forged or doctored and that the boy was in fact at least 16. Given time already served and the possibility time-off for of good behavior, Peterson could be released in four years. However, her conviction was on federal charges and she may still be prosecuted on state charges which could lead to additional time in jail.

The child was an illegal immigrant at the time of the affair and kidnapping. The child has been since been put on humanitarian parole which means that he will not be deported for the foreseeable future. The child’s attorney wants the boy and his family to obtain visas, and eventually to become United States citizens.

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Mother, daughter accused of stealing of husband\’s $3.5 million lottery ticket

Mother, daughter accused of stealing of husband’s $3.5 million lottery ticket

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

On April 4, 2008 Bobbi-Jo Arnold, accompanied by her mother Mary Patricia Moore and other family members, claimed a $3.5 million lottery ticket win in Toronto. On October 2 the two women were arrested by Ontario Police. Both are facing charges including fraud over $5000, possession of property obtained by crime, false pretenses and uttering a forged document. They allegedly stole the ticket from Moore’s then-husband.

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The family dispute has led to Ms Moore (59) filing for divorce from her husband of ten years, Gerald Moore (81), in August. Mr Moore alleges Ms Arnold received the ticket from her mother, who took it from his bedside table. He further alleges his wife “manipulated” his medications to leave him incapable to grasp what was occurring. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is also named in Mr Moore’s civil suit for alleged negligence in investigating Ms Arnold’s claim.

The bail judge’s order requires Ms Moore to live with her daughter Arnold in a home she purchased with the lottery winnings, and not with her husband. As well, both women are ordered not to leave Essex County, Ontario and to surrender their passports to the police.

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Hurricanes may be associated with sunspots

Hurricanes may be associated with sunspots

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

A sunspot viewed close-up in ultraviolet light
Image: NASA/ TRACE.

A recent study suggests that hurricane intensity may be linked to the number of sunspots on the Sun. A decrease in the number of sunspots may be related to an increase in hurricane intensity. After examining the past 100 year hurricane records of the United States and Caribbean, James Elsner and Thomas Jagger of Florida State University in Tallahassee conclude that their intensity may be linked to 10 to 12 year solar magnetic activity cycles. Data from the National Hurricane Center, Miami, Florida was used in the study.

Sunspots are areas on the Sun with increased magnetic activity. The number of sunspots vary during the solar cycles. The number of sunspots is predicted by NOAA to currently be the lowest in an 11 year cycle.

Increased solar activity will allow more ultraviolet rays to reach Earth, resulting in warming of the relatively colder upper atmosphere. Decreased solar activity reverses this phenomenon. It is believed that the greater the temperature difference between upper and lower atmospheric regions, the higher the hurricane intensity.

Establishing a link between sunspots and hurricane intensity can provide a valuable tool for predicting storms. Other scientists however question the statistical basis of the study and the physical processes attributed to changes in hurricane activity. “This is something worth investigating, but they made too many assumptions for me to just accept their conclusion at this point,” says Judy Curry of Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta.



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Fiery collision between prison van and truck kills seven in Alabama, US

Fiery collision between prison van and truck kills seven in Alabama, US

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

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Six applicants to join the Alabama Department of Corrections and their driver have been killed after the prison van they were traveling in collided with an 18-wheeled truck. Both vehicles burned at the scene.

Andrew David Carter, who was driving the Lewis Trucking Company truck with a cargo of treated lumber, escaped the wreck without serious injury. He was briefly hospitalised and released. The deceased have been identified as driver Rodney Kelley, and applicants Julius Erving Douier, Lionel Michael Moore, John Henry Foye Jr., Brandon Jamaal Anglin, Henry Louis Simmons, and Derrick Lamar Ivey. The oldest victim was 45 and the youngest nearly 19.

The wreck occurred on Alabama’s Route 82 near Bullock County, having left Bullock Correctional Facility to travel to Draper Correctional Facility in Elmore County for mental and physical fitness tests on the passengers before employment with the state.

The road was closed for eight hours while bodies and wreckage were recovered. As well as the van and the truck cab, part of the trucks cargo and several hundred square feet of nearby timber land were consumed by the fire. An investigation is ongoing, but it appears that the truck crossed the center line and there are no skid marks present.

The relatives of the victims will be offered counseling by the Department of Corrections.



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1970s transcript to be used on British media in case of nuclear bombing made public

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The nuclear bombing of Nagasaki Image: United States Office of War Information.

The nuclear bombing of Nagasaki
Image: United States Office of War Information.

A script prepared by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Government of the United Kingdom in the 1970s, and released today, shows the text of the radio announcement that would be made in case of an nuclear attack on Britain.

The script was released by the National Archives, and it was discussed during the years from 1973 to 1975, as an act of preparation for a nuclear attack. This increased concern occurred due to the ongoing Cold War.

The script started by saying “This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes.” It emphasised people should not leave their homes, “Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your homes you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger.”

“If you leave, you may find yourself without food, without water, without accommodation and without protection. Radioactive fall-out, which follows a nuclear explosion, is many times more dangerous if you are directly exposed to it in the open. Roofs and walls offer substantial protection. The safest place is indoors.”

The script continued by telling citizens to “make sure gas and other fuel supplies are turned off and that all fires are extinguished,” before telling the listener to “use your water only for essential drinking and cooking purposes.”

“Make your food stocks last: ration your supply, because it may have to last for 14 days or more,” continued the script. “If you live in an area where a fall-out warning has been given, stay in your fall-out room until you are told it is safe to come out.”

The script finishes people by telling people to turn of their radio to conserve energy.

The documents were released under Britain’s Freedom of Information act, and it also said that all reports should be given out in an authoritative and comforting tone. It also contains letters from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications which describe how the use of a familiar voice will assure listeners that the BBC has not been obliterated.

Sources

  • “BBC nuclear bomb script released”. BBC News Online, October 4, 2008
  • “This is the BBC: How to survive the A-bomb”. Wales Online, October 4, 2008
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Transcript to be used on British media in case of nuclear bombing made public

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:00 am

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The nuclear bombing of Nagasaki Image: United States Office of War Information.

The nuclear bombing of Nagasaki
Image: United States Office of War Information.

A script prepared by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Government of the United Kingdom in the 1970s, and released today, shows the text of the radio announcement that would be made in case of an nuclear attack on Britain.

The script was released by the National Archives, and it was discussed during the years from 1973 to 1975, as an act of preparation for a nucleur attack. This increased concern occurred due to the ongoing Cold War.

The script started by saying “This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes.” It continued by saying telling people not to leave their homes. “Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your homes you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger.”

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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Lordi release music video for Finnish chart-topper \’Bite It Like a Bulldog\’

Lordi release music video for Finnish chart-topper ‘Bite It Like a Bulldog’

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

The video features Lordi’s new costumes, as pictured
Image: Lordi.

Finnish theatrical hard rock band Lordi – who are known for their ‘monster’ personas – have released a music video for the single Bite It Like a Bulldog. The song rose to number one on the Finnish single chart.

The song is the lead single from Deadache, Lordi’s new album, which is due for release later this month. The album’s musical style is described as similar to the band’s previous work in that it is melodic hard rock, but with a ‘rougher’ quality to it and stronger horror themes. The band’s keyboardist previously compared some of the music to that of Rob Zombie.

The band have also introduced new incarnations of their costumes, as they do for the release of each album. According to the group’s frontman, part of the aim for the video was to showcase these to the world for the first time. “The modern horror film classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and Hostel were the starting points and the influence for the visual look,” he told MTV.

He also explained that the intention was to produce something different with the video. “We wanted to achieve something that breaks the tradition of Lordi videos… The idea was to have a video with a not-so-simple and easily understandable storyline. We wanted the clip to focus on the feeling of the song and the new, more grotesque look of the band.” The video was directed by Limppu Lindberg, who has worked on graphic design with Lordi and directed videos for Finnish metal bands such as Children of Bodom and Norther.

The video’s United States TV debut will be made tonight at 11pm on MTV2’s Headbangers Ball.



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