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June 29, 2013

Judge jails two men for life over Liam Aitchison murder

Judge jails two men for life over Liam Aitchison murder

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crime and law
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A High Court judge in Edinburgh, Scotland yesterday sentenced two men to life imprisonment for the murder of 16-year-old male Liam Aitchison in the Outer Hebrides.

22-year-old males Jonathan MacKinnon and Stefan Millar were found guilty of Aitchison’s murder at the High Court in Glasgow on June 3. Judge Lord Kinclaven yesterday ordered both MacKinnon and Millar to serve at least eighteen years imprisonment before becoming eligible to apply for parole. Lord Kinclaven told MacKinnon and Millar they had committed “the brutal murder of a young man who was only 16 years of age”.

Cquote1.svg They killed an innocent boy in cold blood but, by the time they leave jail, they will still be young enough to make plans for the rest of their lives Cquote2.svg

Claire Aitchison, step-mother of Liam Aitchison

The two convicted reportedly murdered Aitchison on November 23, 2011, inside an abandoned building in Steinish, a village located on the island of Lewis. Aitchison, who had originally resided in Lochboisdale on the island of South Uist, moved up to Stornoway in Lewis and began working as a fisherman alongside MacKinnon and Millar, developing a social relationship with them. MacKinnon and Millar pled not guilty to the charges of murder, which police had charged them with in December 2011. Judge Lord Kinclaven presided over the subsequent court trial, which started approximately two months ago.

Aitchison and Millar were listening to music and drinking alongside MacKinnon in his residence on November 22, 2011 and MacKinnon punched Aitchison as “a joke” during this visit, the court was told. The three walked from the house upon receiving noise complaints from MacKinnon’s mother. The court was told MacKinnon commenced fighting with Aitchison when a bottle of aftershave he had apparently stolen from MacKinnon dropped from his pocket. Prior to the murder, MacKinnon had stolen a meat cleaver from a boat he was working on and had been keeping it in his bedroom, the court was also told. The exact motive for the murder is unclear thus far.

Location of the Outer Hebrides within Scotland.
Image: Barryob.

Aitchison died when he was stabbed twenty times, as well as being hit with a bottle and stomped on his head. Some items of clothing he was wearing, that he had borrowed from MacKinnon, were removed from his body following the killing. There were no reports during the trial of any trace of the items of clothing being discovered, nor did police recover any murder weapons. The trial was predominantly inferential due to a lack of solid physical evidence.

Aitchison was likely murdered within a 90 minute period on November 23, 2011, during a “communication silence” in which neither of the accused made use of their mobile phones, the prosecution believed. Blood stains were not discovered on the clothing of the suspects, although blood stains discovered at the scene of the murder matched MacKinnon’s DNA. However, the court was also told MacKinnon had previously cut his hand in the abandoned building several years prior and the blood stains could not be dated. A key piece of evidence in the trial came from Dominic Long, who recalled how Millar boasted about the murder while conversing with him in a jail. Frances McMenamin, QC for Millar, subsequently claimed Long had exaggerated in his recount and was an unreliable witness as he suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Aitchison’s father Norrie said following the guilty verdicts MacKinnon and Millar were given would “finally allow Liam to rest in peace and bring his family some closure.” He called this murder case one which “no family should have to endure”, additionally commenting of the convicted: “The cowards who robbed our Liam of his life and his future should never be able to see the outside of a prison ever again.”

Following the sentencing, Claire Aitchison, Liam Aitchison’s step-mother, said: “We are happy that justice has been done and that these two brutal murderers will spend a long time in prison.” However, she criticised the sentences given, saying “they are getting off lightly — life imprisonment should mean life. They killed an innocent boy in cold blood but, by the time they leave jail, they will still be young enough to make plans for the rest of their lives.” Claire and her husband Norrie had criticised the Scottish legal system after the guilty verdicts were given for the way it could allow murder suspects to be granted bail after MacKinnon and Millar were both granted bail in February 2012 and December 2011 respectively. “We want to head up a campaign to keep anyone that is charged with murder on remand until proven innocent or guilty,” Norrie Aitchison said.

In a statement, Detective Inspector Andy Logan, the senior investigator of Aitchison’s murder, said the crime had “caused considerable distress in such a small community.” He also said “Liam’s family have also had to cope with the loss Liam in the most tragic of circumstances and hopefully [these] sentences will help to reassure the community and help the family in coming to terms with their terrible loss.” North of Scotland procurator fiscal Liam Murphy said Aitchison’s murder “caused shock and concern in this small community of Lewis and across Scotland” but stressed there was a low murder rate in this region. “I hope that these murder convictions reassure those communities that when we do have such crimes, justice will be done,” he added.



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  • “Jury finds two men guilty of Liam Aitchison murder” — Wikinews, June 4, 2013

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Air Pacific re-brands as Fiji Airways

Air Pacific re-brands as Fiji Airways – Wikinews, the free news source

Air Pacific re-brands as Fiji Airways

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

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Fiji Airways’ Suva office featuring the new branding

Fiji’s national airline Air Pacific has now officially returned to its original name: Fiji Airways. Fiji Airways adopted the Air Pacific name in 1971, slightly prior to its first international flight on June 3, 1973. The re-brand was described by interim CEO Aubrey Swift as allowing the airline to align itself “closer with Fiji as a destination”. The name change is designed in part to reduce the confusion which surrounded the name Air Pacific. Swift noted that “Air Pacific just didn’t resonate with our customers” and said that same people “thought we were an air conditioning company”.

The re-brand was celebrated with music and traditional style dancing at Victoria Parade.

Along with the name change, the airline has redesigned its website, and changed the name of each of its classes of service. Pacific Voyager and Tabua Class have been replaced with economy and business class respectively. The airline has also introduced plans to overhaul its fleet of older Boeing 747s with Airbus A330s. It has said that the completion of this overhaul and the re-branding efforts will be completed by the end of the year.

The airline’s new brand-mark and livery features a masi design created by Fijian artist, Makereta Matemosi. The new identity is to “symbolises the airline’s new identity and epitomises all that Fiji Airways represents. It is authentic, distinctive, and true to the airline’s Fijian roots”, the airline said.



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June 28, 2013

Stephen Lawrence police corruption allegations lead to calls for investigation

Stephen Lawrence police corruption allegations lead to calls for investigation

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Friday, June 28, 2013

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Home Secretary Theresa May
Image: UK Home Office.

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence met with Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May to discuss the investigation of claims that the police attempted to collect evidence from the Lawrence family in order to smear them. Theresa May had previously announced Monday the allegations would be investigated as part of two ongoing inquiries, but representatives of the Lawrence family demanded an independent public inquiry into the events.

Doreen Lawrence said in the meeting May had said “all options are open”. Lawrence said the inquiry “should be open and not behind closed doors so that we can hear once and for all exactly what was going on after Stephen was murdered […] I think unless we have a public inquiry that goes through the whole thing, we will never get to the bottom of it”.

Stephen Lawrence was stabbed in London in 1993 by a gang of white teenagers while he waited for a bus. Lawrence’s killers were not convicted for eighteen years; failures in the police investigation led to an inquiry led by Sir William Macpherson that found the police to be “institutionally racist”.

The allegations regarding the Lawrence investigation were revealed on Monday by The Guardian and Channel 4‘s Dispatches programme, who interviewed Peter Francis, a former undercover officer with the Special Demonstration Squad.

While a member of the undercover squad, Peter Francis posed from 1993 to 1997 as an anti-racist campaigner and infiltrated a number of left-wing protest groups. Francis claims anti-racist campaigning after the death of Stephen Lawrence was considered by some in the Metropolitan Police to be a potential source for rioting and public disorder similar to the riots in Los Angeles riots in reaction to the treatment of Rodney King by police.

Francis said “there was almost constant pressure on me personally to find out anything I could that would discredit [the Lawrence family] campaigns.”

Stephen Lawrence’s father, Neville, expressed anger at the police over the allegations that they set out to collect evidence to smear his family: “It is unthinkable that in the extremely dark days and months after my son’s murder that my family were subject to such scrutiny”.

Neville Lawrence also called for an independent inquiry: “I understand that the home secretary has announced that she will extend the inquiries of Mark Ellison QC and Operation Herne, I would like to make it clear that I find this completely unsatisfactory.” He added: “I am convinced that nothing short of a judge-led public inquiry will suffice and I have no confidence that the measures announced today [Monday] will get to the bottom of this matter.”

Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen said she was “surprised and shocked” by the idea that the police were collecting intelligence on the Lawrence family: “They put all the resources into monitoring what the family and what the campaign was doing rather than investigating Stephen’s murder”.

David Cameron has expressed support for the Lawrence family: “Let’s be clear, these are absolutely dreadful allegations and we can only think of the Lawrence family, who have suffered so much already from the loss of their son. To hear that, potentially, the police that were meant to be helping them were actually undermining them — that’s horrific”. Cameron said he hopes investigations in to the allegations will happen “rapidly”.

London mayor Boris Johnson also expressed disapproval with the alleged actions of the police: “I cannot think of anything more despicable than the police attempting to smear Stephen Lawrence’s family. If there was a campaign to discredit those seeking justice, we need to know what the orders were and who gave them. We need to know whether there was any criminal activity, and we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of criminal proceedings.”

Greater Manchester Police have announced they are conducting inquiries into allegations that Special Branch police in Manchester sent a request for information on those participating in the Macpherson Inquiry.



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Emir of Qatar abdicates throne

Filed under: Archived,Middle East,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

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Emir of Qatar abdicates throne

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Qatar
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Friday, June 28, 2013

H.H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
Image: Kremlin.ru.

Qatari officials announced Monday that the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, would abdicate in favor of his son, the Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

The outgoing leader Sheikh Hamad met with the ruling family along with several key people in the country and informed those invited of his decision to abdicate, reported Al Jazeera Television, which is owned by the Qatari state.

In an address to the nation aired Tuesday morning, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa announced his abdication and added that it is time for the younger generation to take charge.

The prime minister of Qatar may give up his post as part of the power transfer.

The abdication — a rare move in the politics of the monarchs of the region — is reportedly a step to stabilize the political atmosphere in this wealthy country.

Sheikh Hamad seized power in 1995 through a bloodless coup that removed his father from the throne. He has overseen the transformation of his country to a significant player in the politics of the region, including forming the Al Jazeera news channel, and supporting Arab nations that ousted their rulers during the Arab Spring.



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June 27, 2013

US Supreme Court rules Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional

US Supreme Court rules Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cameras lined up outside the Supreme Court in preparation for the release of the DOMA case yesterday.
Image: bclinesmith.

In a ruling released yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5–4 that portions of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are unconstitutional and married same-sex partners should not be prevented from receiving federal benefits including tax and social security benefits, and recognition for the purpose of immigration.

In the majority decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.” Kennedy said DOMA “writes inequality into the entire United States Code“.

Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority decision in the DOMA case.
Image: Supreme Court of the United States.

The case was brought by 84-year-old Edith Windsor, who was married to Thea Speyer. The State of New York recognised their marriage, but following Speyer’s death, Windsor had to pay more than US$300,000 in inheritance tax.

In addition to a decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court also ruled on a case brought by supporters of Proposition 8 in California, a ballot measure which made same-sex marriage illegal in 2008. The resulting same-sex marriage ban was challenged in the court and a lower court held that the measure was incompatible with the US Constitution. The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by supporters of Proposition 8, arguing they do not have standing to defend in court a law the State of California is unwilling to defend. Therefore the lower court decision holds. California Governor Jerry Brown said: “I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state’s counties they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted”.

President Barack Obama welcomed the decisions: “When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” Obama instructed Eric Holder, the US attorney general, to ensure the ruling is implemented in federal law.

Anthony Romero from the American Civil Liberties Union said the fight for same-sex marriage rights would now return to the states. Chad Griffin from the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights organization, pledged: “Within five years, we will bring marriage equality to all 50 states.”

People celebrating the Supreme Court gay marriage decision.
Image: Neon Tommy.

A number of opponents of same-sex marriage have voiced their opinions on the Supreme Court decision. Michele Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, stated: “Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted. For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman. Only since 2000 have we seen a redefinition of this foundational unit of society in various nations.”

Bachmann went on: “Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to join the trend, despite the clear will of the people’s representatives through DOMA. What the court has done will undermine the best interest of children and the best interests of the United States.”

Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp said the “courts have allowed the desires of adults to trump the needs of our children”.



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June 26, 2013

Canberrans flood Cotter Dam on open day

Filed under: Archived,Australia,Canberra,Original reporting — admin @ 5:00 am

Canberrans flood Cotter Dam on open day – Wikinews, the free news source

Canberrans flood Cotter Dam on open day

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Australia
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Cotter Dam seen from below
Image: Hawkeye7.

Visitors on the dam on open day, 2013
Image: Hawkeye7.

View over the lake from atop the dam. The old Cotter Dam is submerged beneath the waters below.
Image: Hawkeye7.

The Cotter River below the dam looks much like a creek
Image: Hawkeye7.

View from the dam towards Canberra. The mountain at left is Mount Stromlo, and the white dots are the Mount Stromlo observatory complex.
Image: Hawkeye7.

Visitors atop the Cotter Dam. The buses that brought them there can be seen in the background.
Image: Hawkeye7.

Australian Capital Territory — Thousands of Canberrans took a look at the new Cotter Dam on the Cotter River on open day on Sunday. The public was given limited access to the still-active construction site. Buses took viewers from the car park below to top of the dam wall. They ran every 15 minutes from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.

The dam is to supply fresh water to the city of Canberra. This is to provide water security for the city as droughts become more frequent due to global warming.

It is a gravity dam, which holds back the waters through sheer mass. It is about 80 metres (about 260 feet) high. The dam is made from roller-compacted concrete. The concrete was laid dry and compacted with rollers. The concrete was made on site. Only the final touches use conventional concrete. In addition to the main dam, there are two saddle dams filling depressions in the landscape so flood waters flow over the spillway and not out the sides of the lake.

The dam on the Cotter River has been under construction for four years. Concrete pouring is expected to take another two weeks. The site is then to be rehabilitated. Thousands of seeds were collected during constructions. These are to be replanted to replace the native flora. Work is expected to be complete by September.

The dam replaces an old dam, first built in 1911 but subsequently expanded several times. Now heritage listed, it has been submerged by the waters of the new dam. Some materials were salvaged from the old dam to build the new, and some have been put on display.

The river is named after Garrett Cotter, an Irish-born convict who was transported to Australia and lived in the area in the 1830s and 1840s.



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June 24, 2013

Toowoomba, Brisbane City take out Roller Derby wins on Australia\’s Sunshine Coast

Toowoomba, Brisbane City take out Roller Derby wins on Australia’s Sunshine Coast

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Monday, June 24, 2013

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Caloundra, Queensland — Wikinews attended a roller derby event at the Caloundra Indoor Stadium on Australia’s Sunshine Coast on Saturday. The event, entitled Winter Whackdown, featured the hosting association — the Coastal Assassins Roller Derby (CARD) — fielding two teams, the Toowoomba Range Renegades and the Brisbane City Rollers Punk Blockers.

Upon arrival, the spectators were still filing into the stadium.

Ace Invaders 90
Toowoomba Range Renegades 263

The opening bout between the CARD Ace Invaders and the Toowoomba Range Renegades started around 5:15pm local time (0715 UTC). The Range Renegades won 263 points to 90.

The Ace Invaders trailed for most of the match
Video: Patrick Gillett.

Video: Patrick Gillett.

Roller derby score.JPG
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Retaping.JPG The track had to be retaped on some occasions.
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Roller derby crowd.JPG A reasonable crowd showed up to the event
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Video: Patrick Gillett.

Player rejoining play.JPG Rogue Maiden rejoins play after getting knocked off track.
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Mid jam behind Ranges Renegades bench.JPG
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Blood Diamonds 127
Brisbane City Rollers Punk Blockers 215

The second bout between the CARD Blood Diamonds and the Brisbane City Rollers Punk Blockers started around 7:30pm (0930 UTC). The Punk Blockers won 215 points to 127.

Muffy Marauder as jammer.JPG Muffy Marauder as jammer for the Blodd Diamonds
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Blood Diamonds v Punk blockers Roller derby non skating officials.JPG Blood Diamonds v Punk blockers Roller derby non skating officials
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Roller derby ref.JPG A referee keeps an eye on play
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Dutchess of Hazard scoring (roller derby).JPG Dutchess of Hazard (22) scoring vs Blood Diamonds
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Dutchess of Hazard scoring (roller derby) 2.JPG
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Dusty Flya scoring (roller derby).JPG Dusty Flya (81 white) scoring vs Punk Blockers
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Blood Diamonds and Punk Blockers 2013.JPG Blood Diamonds and Punk Blockers roller derby teams
Image: Patrick Gillett.



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Silvio Berlusconi convicted of sex with underage prostitute

Silvio Berlusconi convicted of sex with underage prostitute

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Monday, June 24, 2013

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Silvio Berlusconi in 2010.
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Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was convicted today of having sex with an underage prostitute. He has been sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from serving in public office, but does not start his sentence until an appeal process is concluded.

Berlusconi was charged with paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan-born nightclub dancer who performs under the name ‘Ruby Rubacuori’ — Ruby the Heartstealer. Prosecutors say El Mahroug had sex with Berlusconi when she was aged 17. She denies having sex with Berlusconi. El Mahroug admits having received thousands of euros from Berlusconi.

In addition to the sex charges, Berlusconi was found guilty of abusing his office when dealing with El Mahroug. The court found that in May 2010, Berlusconi put pressure on police officers in Milan to release El Mahroug who had been arrested on suspicion of theft. Berlusconi claims that he telephoned the police but did so on the belief that El Mahroug was related to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in order to prevent a diplomatic incident.

Prosecutors alleged that El Mahroug was just one of many women Berlusconi had paid for sex with and that she formed part of “a prostitution system set up for the personal sexual satisfaction of the defendant”.

In May of this year, an Italian appeals court upheld a conviction for tax fraud which Berlusconi is in the process of appealing to the country’s highest appellate court, the Court of Cassation. If the decision is upheld by the higher court, he will be liable to serve four years in prison for the tax fraud offense, where Berlusconi was found to have bought distribution rights for American films and resold them at inflated prices to reduce the tax liability of Mediaset, Berlusconi’s media company which owns the three largest television stations in Italy.

Berlusconi is head of the People of Freedom party, a centre-right party that forms part of Italy’s coalition government.



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June 23, 2013

Questions raised over Mosquito device ahead of New South Wales trial

Filed under: Archived,Australia,New South Wales,Original reporting — admin @ 5:00 am

Questions raised over Mosquito device ahead of New South Wales trial

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

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A device known as the Mosquito, set to be trialed in New South Wales (NSW), Australia by RailCorp in a bid to deter vandals from areas frequently the target of graffiti, is attracting criticism. Wikinews reached out to several people about the trials.

The units work by emitting a high-pitched buzz, similar to that of a mosquito, which is generally only audible to those under the age of about 24. The aim is to repel young people who become irritated by the noise, as a prevention method against graffiti, loitering, and other crimes like theft.

The initiative was announced last month, but RailCorp has not revealed when it intends to test the technology to crack down on graffiti.

In an interview with Wikinews, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties Cameron Murphy this week labeled the strategy “ridiculous”. “All they’re going to do is wear headphones and these [devices] will make no difference at all.”

Thousands of units have been set up in the UK since they first became available about seven years ago, where they’re used to stop youths gathering near public areas like shops and train stations. The technology has a high usage rate in the UK, and the Council of Europe has called for a ban on grounds it violates human rights, calling it “highly offensive”.

A RailCorp spokesperson confirmed to Wikinews the devices would only be situated on railway land away from public areas.

File photo of grafitti on a train in the Netherlands.
Image: Tukka.

Mr Murphy maintains the NSW government’s policy is “based upon discrimination” and it assumes the youth affected by the noise are those doing graffiti, without solid evidence to prove this.

NSW Liberal MP Gareth Ward told Wikinews, “very few crime fighting techniques are fool-proof,” and as people have found ways to get around CCTV, they’re like to do the same with this, which is why it’s only being trialed at this stage. He acknowledged the devices will be situated in areas where the general public shouldn’t be hanging around. “There are certain areas in the network where trains may not be travelling at a particular time and that’s when those devices will be turned on […] and I think that’s perfectly reasonable.” He remarked, “any young person who feels they’ve been aggrieved […] should feel free to contact the Minster for Transport.”

A mobile phone message tone based on the same mosquito sound has been touted as teacher-proof because teens should be the only ones able to hear it if it goes off during class.



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June 21, 2013

Scientists create micro-battery using 3D printing

Scientists create micro-battery using 3D printing

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Science and technology
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A 3D printer demonstrating the manufacturing technique used to create the battery.
Image: Ciell.

Scientists have successfully created a Lithium ion micro-battery the size of a grain of sand. A team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of Illinois were able to create the tiny battery using 3D printing technology.

In order to achieve this feat, the separate parts of the battery were printed layer-by-layer using materials thinner than a human hair. This resulted in two separate comb-like structures which, when interlocked, act as the anode and cathode. These were then immersed in an electrolyte solution which created a working battery.

This created a micro-battery comparable to what is commercially available in “charge and discharge rate, cycle life and energy densities.” For years, scientists have been trying to develop miniature devices in a range of areas including medicine and communications. However, due to current manufacturing techniques, the batteries have often been larger than the devices they are supposed to power.

This development could pave the way for new types of miniature technologies, as well as technologies deemed not feasible due to limitations in existing battery design.



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