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November 25, 2009

School closed after five-year-old boy dies from suspected swine flu in Buckinghamshire, England

School closed after five-year-old boy dies from suspected swine flu in Buckinghamshire, England

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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A five-year-old boy has been suspected to have died from the H1N1 swine flu virus in Buckinghamshire, England. The boy came from Emberton School, which now has just 29 pupils attending.

Health tests are currently being carried out to determine whether or not the child did indeed die from the virus. He was admitted to a hospital in Milton Keynes, but later died in the early hours of Sunday morning. At present, the individual remains unidentified.

Steve Dunning is the principal in the school. Speaking to BBC Three Counties Radio, Dunning said: “The staff of Emberton School are very saddened to learn of the death of one of their pupils who was a confident, delightful and happy student and will be missed greatly. At this time we are focusing on supporting the children and parents in our small village community. I have spoken directly with the mother and passed on the condolences of all the staff and governors at the school.”

The school has now been closed and is expected to re-open on Tuesday. Dr. Diane Gray, who is the Deputy Director of Public Health in the town of Milton Keynes, said: “My sympathies go out to his parents, family and friends. We don’t yet know the cause of this boy’s death. At this stage, there is no need to change normal behaviour – you should continue to go to school, work and any social activities.”



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Sakurai Prize awarded for Higgs boson theories

Sakurai Prize awarded for Higgs boson theories

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Science and technology
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The American Physical Society has awarded its 2010 J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics to six scientists for their contributions to theories on the origin of mass, including the key concepts of the Higgs boson and Higgs mechanism. The recipients are:

  • C. R. Hagen, University of Rochester
  • Gerald Guralnik, Brown University
  • Tom Kibble, Imperial College London
  • Robert Brout, Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • François Englert, Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Peter Higgs, University of Edinburgh, Emeritus

The full citation stated the prize was awarded “For elucidation of the properties of spontaneous symmetry breaking in four-dimensional relativistic gauge theory and of the mechanism for the consistent generation of vector boson masses.” The J. J. Sakurai Prize will be presented at the APS 2010 meeting in Washington, DC at a special Ceremonial session in February 2010.

The Higgs mechanism is a key element of the electroweak theory that forms part of the Standard Model of particle physics, and of many models that go beyond it. The papers that introduce this mechanism were published in the journal Physical Review Letters in 1964 and were each recognized as milestone papers by PRL’s 50th anniversary celebration.

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN and the Tevatron in the United States are searching for a particle, the Higgs boson, that will constitute evidence for this theory. Because of its importance this particle is often referred to as the “God Particle”. The LHC, a vast scientific experiment to smash together sub-atomic particles, recently moved a step closer to its goal. On Friday physicists announced they had sent protons all the way round the 27 km ring beneath the France–Switzerland border, and on Monday announced the first successful collisions. This follows a major setback which shut down the collider for 14 months.



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Israel announces 10 month halt to settlement construction in West Bank

Israel announces 10 month halt to settlement construction in West Bank

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Israel
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The prime minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, told a news conference earlier today that there will be a ten-month stop in the construction of new settlement housing in the West Bank. The Israeli cabinet approved the move by a margin of eleven to one.

File photo of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“We have been told by our friends that once Israel takes the first meaningful steps towards peace, the Arab world and the Palestinians will follow,” said Netanyahu following the cabinet’s endorsement of the move. “Well, the government of Israel has taken a very big step towards peace today, and I hope the Palestinian and the Arab world will work with us to forge a new beginning for our children and theirs.”

The freeze was made “out of broad national interests with the aim of encouraging negotiations with our Palestinian neighbours,” he continued. “When the period of freeze ends my government will return to the previous policy of building in Judea and Samaria [the Jewish name for the West Bank].”

“This is a far-reaching and painful step […] We hope that this decision will help launch meaningful negotiations to reach an historic peace agreement that will finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” Netanyahu later said.

Under the plan, construction permits for new residential buildings would be put on hold for ten months. The government said that “natural growth” — characterised by the construction of homes by young people, who were raised in the settlements and want to build houses for their own families — would be exempt from the freeze. Parts of the West Bank that Israel annexed to the Jerusalem municipality would also be excluded from the freeze. The building of schools and places of worship, which will enable settlers to live what Netanyahu described as “normal lives”, will also continue.

“We will not halt existing construction and we will continue to build synagogues, schools, kindergartens and public buildings essential for normal life in the settlements,” he commented.

The prime minister added that there would be no change to Israel’s existing policy on the issue of Jerusalem. “Regarding Jerusalem, our sovereign capital, our position is well-known. We do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital,” he said.

Several members of the Israeli cabinet expressed their disapproval at the proposal, with the conservative, ultra-Orthodox Shas party boycotting the cabinet meetings.

“I think it’s a complete crumbling of Netanyahu’s position and is contrary to all of his electoral promises. He promised an end to unilateral steps, and here we see him after only a few months in office giving up, even though there is no reciprocity from the Palestinians,” said the head of the main settler lobby, Danny Dayan, to the Christian Science Monitor. We are 300,000 citizens, living in 150 communities. It is impossible to freeze us. I don’t how it will happen, but we will break this freeze.”

Many Palestinians also criticised the proposal, mainly because East Jerusalem was not included in the settlement freeze. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a Palestinian spokesman, said to the Wafa news agency that Palestine “rejects returning to peace talks without the complete cessation of settlement activities in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad also rejected the plan. “The exclusion of east Jerusalem is a very, very serious problem for us. We are not looking for the resumption of the process just for the sake of it, for it to falter a week or two down the road,”

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordanian control, following Israel’s victory in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. The Jewish state annexed that part of the city in a move that was not recognized by the international community.

Earlier this week, on a visit to Argentina, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stepped up his campaign to put international pressure on Israel to stop building on lands that Palestinians say are their own. Abbas urged US president Barack Obama, as well as leaders of other nations that support Israel, to press the Jewish state to end its construction of settlements on occupied lands.

Netanyahu has in the past offered to restrain settlement growth, but today’s announcement was the first time that he set a clear timeframe.



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Death of Kentucky census worker considered suicide

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

Death of Kentucky census worker considered suicide

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Crime and law
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Kentucky State Police said yesterday that the September 12 death of census worker Bill Sparkman was suicide. His body was found naked in a Clay County, Kentucky cemetery, with “Fed” written on his chest and his census identification taped to his neck. This prompted widespread speculation that anti-government sentiment was responsible. However, police now believe that Sparkman deliberately killed himself, and tried to make it look like murder so his son could receive an insurance payout. Trooper Don Trosper, a Kentucky State Police spokesman, said, “[w]e believe this was an intentional act. We believe the aim was to take his own life.”

This conclusion is based on the police’s analysis of several elements of the crime scene; Sparkman was not hanged in the typical manner; his knees were less than six inches off the ground, and he could have avoided death simply by standing up before he suffocated. Captain Lisa Rudzinski, a leader of the investigation stated, “We do not believe he was placed in that position.” The letters of the word “Fed” were written bottom first, which is unlikely if they had been written by an attacker. The rag found in his mouth contained only Sparkman’s DNA. Police also believed he left glasses taped to his head so he could see while preparing.

Police suspect Sparkman’s motives included debt, failure to find a full-time job, and a desire to provide for his son through his life insurance.



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