Nominations for the Labour Party close on Wednesday. So far four candidates have put their names forward: Auckland city councillor Glenda Fryer, former candidate Hamish McCracken, University of Auckland political studies lecturer Meg Bates and employment lawyer Helen White. List MP Phil Twyford, widely expected to succeed Ms Clark, has not put his name forward.
The National Party has narrowed its possible candidates down to two: list MP Melissa Lee or unsuccessful 2008 candidate Ravi Musuku. The decision will be made at a party meeting on 4 May.
The president of Egypt has suffered a “devastating blow” after the country’s army announced they would not use force against their own people, who continue to protest against the government tonight. The news came hours after six journalists who reported on the protests were released from custody.
Hosni Mubarak yesterday announced a new cabinet, which does not include several figures who protesters largely do not approve of. Analysts have, however, suggested little had changed within the government; many positions, they say, are filled with military figures.
To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people … have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people.
In a statement broadcast on state media in Egypt, the army said: “To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people … have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people.” A BBC correspondent in Cairo said the announcement meant it “now seems increasingly likely that the 30-year rule of Mr Mubarak is drawing to a close.”
“The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing. The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people,” the statement added. “Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody.”
Earlier today, six journalists from the independent news network Al-Jazeera were released from custody after being detained by police. The U.S. State Department criticized the arrests; equipment was reportedly confiscated from the journalists.
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Egyptian officials yesterday ordered the satellite channel to stop broadcasting in the country. Al-Jazeera said they were “appalled” by the government’s decision to close its Egyptian offices, which they described as the “latest attack by the Egyptian regime to strike at its freedom to report independently on the unprecedented events in Egypt.”
In a statement, the news agency added: “Al-Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists. In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people.”
On Friday, Wikinews reported the government had shut off practically all Internet traffic both out of and into the nation, as well as disrupting cellphone usage. A spokesperson for the social networking website Facebook said “limiting Internet access for millions of people is a matter of concern for the global community.”
A reported 50,000 campaigners, who are demanding the long-time leader step down and complaining of poverty, corruption, and oppression, filled Tahrir Square in Cairo today, chanting “We will stay until the coward leaves.” It is thought 100 people have so far died in the demonstrations. Today there have been protests in Suez, Mansoura, Damanhour, and Alexandria.
Speaking to news media in the area, many protesters said the new cabinet did little to quell their anger. “We want a complete change of government, with a civilian authority,” one said. Another added: “This is not a new government. This is the same regime—this is the same bluff. [Mubarak] has been bluffing us for 30 years.”
In Tahrir Square today, protesters played music as strings of barbed wire and army tanks stood nearby. Demonstrators scaled light poles, hanging Egyptian flags and calling for an end to Mubarak’s rule. “One poster featured Mubarak’s face plastered with a Hitler mustache, a sign of the deep resentment toward the 82-year-old leader they blame for widespread poverty, inflation and official indifference and brutality during his 30 years in power,” one journalist in the square reported this evening.
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Today, after two years of waiting, American iPhone users are finally able to send and receive MMS messages. This long awaited feature has caused Apple and AT&T a great deal of grief from its user base. Originally the grief was directed at Apple for the lack of inclusion on the device, but as time progressed AT&T was faulted for lack of support.
When the iPhone was released in June of 2007, it lacked one feature that was widely available on other devices: MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service. This standard, similar to the all text SMS standard, allows users to send and receive video, audio, and picture files on their mobile phones. MMS was launched in 2002 and by 2007 was a common feature on most new mobile phones. It was not until June 2009, with the release of iPhone OS 3.0, that the devices also had the capability to send and receive these multimedia messages. Unfortunately for American iPhone users, all of whom use AT&T because of an exclusive agreement between the phone company and Apple, AT&T did not allow iPhone users to use this feature; that changed today.
Current iPhone users simply need to update (from iTunes) and reboot their device in order to enable MMS. AT&T was originally concerned about not having the network capacity to handle the data demand of all the MMS messages and in Wikinews’ own testing this seems to be a valid issue. The ability to send and receive MMS messages was functional, but by midday Friday (PST), AT&T’s network was extremely slow, with messages taking in excess of two minutes to send. Tests over AT&T’s 3G network showed upload and download speeds nearly halved what they were just a few days prior.
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On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Don Valley West (Ward 25). Three candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include John Blair, Robertson Boyle, Tony Dickins, Cliff Jenkins (incumbent), and Peter Kapsalis.
A new video on popular internet video site YouTube has raised a question: Is it fake or real?
The movie entitled Bride Has Massive Hair Wig Out that was released on the 18th of January shows a woman who is going to get married within hours, but instead she cuts off all her hair.
First, the woman, named Jodie, who has just got her hair done at the hairdressers’, comes back to a hotel room where three bridesmaids are doing last-minute preparations. She runs in and falls to the ground screaming that her hair is ugly. They try to comfort her, but that isn’t enough for the so called “Bridezilla”: she cuts off her hair with a pair of scissors while the bridesmaids watch, taping it all on video camera.
The video, which is still on the main page of YouTube, has been watched over 2 million times. The person who posted the video, wigoutgirl, claims to be 25 and from Canada. It is speculated that the video was shot in a Toronto, Ontario hotel room.
Some YouTube users are saying that it is fake, some say it’s real.
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The British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered the budget today, an annually-held audit of the country’s finances deciding how taxpayers’ money should be spent. He set out plans to boost the housing market in his fourth budget, as well as stating the economy will grow by 0.6% — half his prediction four months ago.
George Osborne revealed plans to improve the housing market, including a “Help to Buy” shared equity scheme which would offer buyers who can place a 5% deposit on a new house, a 20% loan to buy it. He said: “This is a budget for those who aspire to own their own home”. He also offered a new Mortgage Guarantee, created in conjunction with mortgage lenders — the scheme would allow them to offer loans to homeowners without the need for a large deposit and offer guarantees to support up to £130bn of lending for three years beginning in 2014.
As a measure to attract investment to the British economy, he announced to reduce corporation tax from 21% to 20% taking effect from April 2015. The rate of corporation tax has fallen from 28% in 2010 to the current level of 21%. The United Kingdom is to have lower rates of corporation tax than the USA at 40%, France at 33%, and Germany at 29%.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) stated the government debt reduction programme to reduce the budget deficit will miss its targets. The government has forecast the total public sector debt will begin to fall by the financial year 2015/2016, while OBR says national debt will reach a high of 85.6% of GDP, £1.58 trillion, in 2016/17. Osborne defended the government efforts to reduce the deficit and said: “Our judgement has since been supported by the IMF, the OECD and the Governor of the Bank of England.”
In response to the Budget speech, the Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband said: “At the worst possible time for the country. It’s a downgraded budget from a downgraded Chancellor […] Debt is higher in every year of this Parliament than he forecast at the last Budget. He is going to borrow £200 billion more than he planned.”
The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls said to The Independent, “They are borrowing £245bn more in this Parliament, we said all along …said this two years ago, if they had moved more quickly with a sensible, targeted package of measures to kick-start the economy, which would have meant at that time more borrowing for a VAT [Value Added Tax] cut to bring forward housing investment, then we would have got the economy growing and the deficit coming down.”
The Business Secretary Vince Cable told the BBC in an interview, the “age of austerity” would probably end within the current decade, but made no more definite forecast.
The head of the British Federation of Small Businesses, John Walker, said: “The Budget opens the door for small businesses to grow and create jobs. The Chancellor has pulled out all the stops with a wide ranging package of measures to support small business. […] [W]e are pleased to see the scrapping of the 3p fuel duty due in September”.
Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of Unite the Union, criticized the budget for not helping working families. He said: “This is a Budget for the few by the few that attacks the many. Millionaires are days away from getting a £40,000 tax cut from the Tories, but George Osborne is using the budget to attack hard-working public sector workers. The worst chancellor in British history has gone further by giving big business another tax cut while staff caring for the sick get pay cuts. […] [H]e should have raised the national minimum wage by £1 and drop the senseless plan to give millionaires a tax break in a few days’ time”.
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Organised by the European Law Students’ Association (ELSA), the competition brings together students from around the world each year to contest a case based on the legal system and case law of the World Trade Organization – the global treaty that governs world trade and commerce.
This year, the case for the competition was on the topic of intellectual property rights and access to essential medicines – one of the most contentious issues in world trade in the past decade. Participating teams played out a dispute between two WTO members – one setting aside a pharmaceutical patent (respondent), the other challenging this on behalf of its industry (complainant).
Under World Trade Organization rules, a country can sidestep patents by issuing a “compulsory license” – a legal mechanism that allows a country to manufacture or import generic versions of patented drugs for public health and national emergencies while paying the patent holder only a small royalty.
The global finals last week were the culmination of months of national and regional rounds, with eighteen teams from universities in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific winning a trip to Geneva for the final round. The first semi final was contested by the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne, while University of Hong Kong and Georgetown University fought out the second semi final.
In the grand final at the WTO Centre William Rappard, the University of Melbourne acted for complainant, the Government of Costo (imaginary developed WTO member), while the University of Hong Kong defended the position of the Government of Factoril (imaginary developing WTO member) – respondent in the matter.
After the two and a half hours of intense debates, the Grand Panel, including Gabrielle Marceau from the WTO Secretariat, Jayashree Watal from the WTO Intellectual Property Division and Werner Zdouc from the WTO Appellate Body Secretariat, decided in favour of complainant. The arguments submitted in favour of protecting the intellectual property rights of the pharmaceutical patent holder were deemed to be better structured and presented which led to the University of Melbourne winning the competition.
“The subject of the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health has raised a wide range of issues in the public debate. I think the ELSA Moot Court gave a timely opportunity to bright, young lawyers involved with WTO law to reflect upon and debate the complex legal and political issues raised by this subject,” said Jatashree Watal, Counsellor, WTO Intellectual Property Division.
The students’ debates during the final round in Geneva coincided with the decision of the Government of Brazil to put patients’ interests before patent holder’s interests and issue compulsory license on important AIDS drug. Some parties believe that the economic interests cannot be compared with saving human lives and protecting the public health while others would prefer a more balanced approach to this matter.
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The world’s oldest known woman, Montrealer Julie Winnefred Bertrand, died on Thursday, passing away peacefully in her sleep.
She earned the distinction as the oldest living woman when 116-year-old Elizabeth Bolden of Tennessee, U.S.A. died on December 11, 2006.
Bertrand was born on September 16, 1891 in Coaticook, a town in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, and lived there for the majority of her life. She was the oldest of six children, and never married. She moved to Montreal after the death of her parents, and later moved into a nursing home.
She had never left her sixth-floor room in the nursing home for two years, but unexpectedly, she asked to tour the building the day before she died.
Bertrand will be buried in Coaticook.
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This Sunday, the International Animated Film Association (Association International du Film d’Animation) or ASIFA will hand out the Annie Awards in Glendale, California. As animation’s highest honor, the crowd is always a who’s who of direction, art design, character design, layout, visual effects, and voice artists.
There are 23 award categories in the Annies, sorted into Individual Achievement and Production categories.
Perhaps the most competitive category is “Best Animated Feature”, which will be a fight between Cars (Pixar Animation Studios), Happy Feet (Warner Bros. Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/Kennedy Miller Production/Animal Logic Film), Monster House (Columbia Pictures/ImageMovers/Amblin), Open Season (Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia Pictures) and Over The Hedge (DreamWorks Animation).
Cars, Happy Feet, and Monster House are all nominated in the Academy Awards for the same category, perhaps signifying an edge up in the competition.
Direct-to-DVD releases are eligible for the “Best Home Entertainment Production”. Included are Bambi II (DisneyToon Studios), The Adventures of Brer Rabbit (Universal Animation Studios), and Winnie the Pooh: Shapes & Sizes (DisneyToon Studios).
Charlie and Lola, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, King of the Hill, The Fairly OddParents, and Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! are all up for “Best Animated Television Production”.
“Best Animated Video Game” will be awarded to either Flushed Away The Game (D3 Publisher of America, Inc.), Monster House (THQ, Inc.), and SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature From the Krusty Krab (THQ, Inc.); the category was just created last year.
Adventure Time (Nickelodeon), Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot (Thunderbean Animation), No Time For Nuts (Blue Sky Studios), and Weird Al YankovicDon’t Download This Song (Acme Filmworks) are all up for “Best Animated Short Subject”. Only No Time for Nuts is up for an Oscar, which has significantly different rules. “Best Animated Television Commercial” will go to either an advertisement for Candy Factory, ESPN, Hilton, St. Louis Zoo, or United Airlines.
Notably, no non-US films or productions have been nominated for any of the awards.
1 Started in 1972
2 Coverage upcoming
4 External links
ASIFA is a non-profit worldwide organization dedicated to preserving and promoting animation, which maintains national branches in 55 countries, as far away as UlanBaatar, Mongolia and Tehran. The Annies are awarded by its California chapter ASIFA-Hollywood.
The awards were started in 1972, after voice actress June Foray noticed the industry lacked a formal way to acknowledge its achievements. Performing in over 202 productions, Foray’s most known characters are Rocket J. Squirrel (Rocky and Bullwinkle) and Granny (Looney Tunes).
ASIFA also hands out “Juried Awards” to various notable figures in animation. Bill Plympton, Genndy Tartakovsky, and Andreas Deja will each win the Winsor McCay Award, in recognition of lifetime or career contributions to the art of animation. Bill Matthews, Michael Fallik, Marc Deckter, and Eric Graf will each win a Certificate of Merit. The June Foray Award will go to Stephen Worth, for his “significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation.” The Ub Iwerks Award and Special Achievement award will not be handed out.
Professional photographer John Mueller will attend the ceremony on behalf of Wikinews, taking photos of nominees and the rest of America’s animation elite. Mueller was selected from a wide pool of professionals offering their services. The photos from the event will be released under the Creative Commons By Attribution license, which allows them to be used by anyone for any purpose.
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A robotic system at Stanford Medical Center was used to perform a laparoscopicgastric bypass surgery successfully with a theoretically similar rate of complications to that seen in standard operations. However, as there were only 10 people in the experimental group (and another 10 in the control group), this is not a statistically significant sample.
If this surgical procedure is as successful in large-scale studies, it may lead the way for the use of robotic surgery in even more delicate procedures, such as heart surgery. Note that this is not a fully automated system, as a human doctor controls the operation via remote control. Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is a treatment for obesity.
There were concerns that doctors, in the future, might only be trained in the remote control procedure. Ronald G. Latimer, M.D., of Santa Barbara, CA, warned “The fact that surgeons may have to open the patient or might actually need to revert to standard laparoscopic techniques demands that this basic training be a requirement before a robot is purchased. Robots do malfunction, so a backup system is imperative. We should not be seduced to buy this instrument to train surgeons if they are not able to do the primary operations themselves.”
There are precedents for just such a problem occurring. A previous “new technology”, the electrocardiogram (ECG), has lead to a lack of basic education on the older technology, the stethoscope. As a result, many heart conditions now go undiagnosed, especially in children and others who rarely undergo an ECG procedure.
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