Teenager faces murder charges after throwing a brick at motorway

Monday, July 3, 2006

A 15-year-old, whose name has not been released for legal reasons, is in court charged with murder after he dropped an eight-kilogram concrete block on a car and killed the driver.

Christopher Currie was driving along Auckland‘s southern motorway in a Honda Civic car last August when the concrete block smashed through the windscreen killing him instantly.

“[The] accused stood on the over bridge and timed the release of the concrete block to hit a car passing underneath” prosecutor Aaron Perkins told the High Court. The accused was positioned so that the driver was unable to see them and take evasive action. They later ran from the scene of the crime and bragged to friends about it.

The defence says that the accused did not mean to murder anyone.

There were three other passengers in the car which the Crown is scheduled to call on to give evidence, along with 33 other witnesses.

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How To File For Divorce In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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Deciding that you want to separate from your spouse or partner can be an incredibly difficult decision, but once you’ve made the choice it’s important to know how to go about getting a divorce so that you can move on with your life. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has specific laws regarding marriage and divorce which will become significant when you attempt to contact a divorce attorney in Harrisburg in order to gain more information on how to go about beginning the process. While trial separations are never easy, knowing which steps to take can help make the process significantly easier and more manageable while you try to figure out how to proceed.

First and foremost, it is important to know the difference between a ‘legal separation’ and a ‘divorce’. A legal separation is just that – a marriage between individuals who wish to separate. A divorce dissolves all legal relationships between two people. If you know for certain that you wish to receive a divorce, then it will be important to know where to locate a divorce attorney Harrisburg, since negotiating in court without an attorney can be difficult and will probably reflect poorly on you unless you are well-versed in legal vernacular.

The first step which your divorce attorney in Harrisburg will recommend will be to file a petition for divorce. Once the petition has been filed, the process will have begun, and your spouse will be given a specific number of days to respond to the petition. Once your spouse replies, the clerk of the court will either set a date and time for the two of you to meet in court and discuss your case in front of a judge, or arrange a time for mediation where you and your spouse will be able to attempt to come to amicable terms of agreement on division of property and possessions.

Having negotiated your terms with your divorce attorney in Harrisburg, you will be prepared for all eventual outcomes resulting from the judge’s opinion of your case, or your negotiations with your spouse. If all goes well, you should find yourselves divorced from one another, and ready to proceed with the rest of your independent lives. If you do not feel that a fair conclusion was reached in your divorce, you may ask to have the case returned to trial for reinvestigation.

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News briefs:August 2, 2010

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Switzerland is voting on same-sex partnerships and Schengen/Dublin

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Switzerland is voting today on their quarterly federal referenda over same-sex partnerships and the Schengen/Dublin treaty. Both proposals were popular initiatives made by the Swiss people.

The first question is whether same-sex partnership should be legalised throughout the country. Already the cantons of Geneva and Zürich allow same-sex partnerships, however this proposal will cover the country including the conservative north-eastern cantons of Graubünden and Appenzell. In fact Appenzell Innerrhoden only allowed women the vote at cantonal level in 1990 by the Federal Tribunal of Switzerland.

Essentially, this proposal will allow gays and lesbians the right to have joint taxes, pensions and inheritance. To qualify, partners must both live together and formally commit themselves six months in advance to running a household and supporting and aiding one another.

The second proposal will make Switzerland be a member of the Schengen treaty and participate in the “open-borders” scheme. Supporters say it would encourage tourism and make visiting much easier, especially after the row over Swiss-German border a few months ago. Together with the Dublin treaty, it would make Switzerland join a bilateral agreement to stop asylum seekers having to seek asylum in Switzerland after claiming asylum in an agreement country such as Germany or France.

Wikipedia has more about this subject:

Wikipedia has more about this subject:

Opponents say this proposal will set Switzerland on a slippery slope into the European Union, not give Switzerland the right to its own borders and compromise the country’s strict and engrained neutrality.

Out of the big 4 main parties, the centre-left Social Democrats, the liberal-right Free Democrats and the centre-right Christian Democrats have said yes to both proposals. However, the populist-right Swiss People’s Party have said no to both proposals

Results will start being available today in the early evening.

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Australian volunteer firefighters kept busy on New Year’s Day

Sunday, January 1, 2006A massive bushfire that was threatening West Victorian towns of Great Western, Armstrong, Moyston, Pomonal, Halls Gap and Ararat has stopped spreading due to heavy rainfall giving firefighters their first relief in two days. Meanwhile, two major fires have broken out on the New South Wales Central Coast, North of Sydney with another in Sydney.

The Victorian fire has destroyed 5 homes in the Stawell and two people have been injured when they fell down a mineshaft while fighting the blaze. Reports claim that the fire front was up to 30Km in length. Earlier today the fire was burning out of control, being fanned by strong winds. This afternoon a weather change came, dumping heavy rain over the region.

Five major fires have been reported on the NSW Central coast in the Woy Woy and Mount White regions. 50 homes are believed to be under direct threat. Residents in affected parts of Woy Woy, Umina and Pearl beaches, and Patonga, have been taken to makeshift evacuation centres at the Gosford Leagues Club and Woy Woy Bowling Club.

The Sydney Newcastle (F3 freeway) and Pacific Highway have been closed. Motorists which had been standed on the southbound carriageway of the F3 freeway were allowed through at around 6PM AEDT following fears of a wind change which could have put them in danger of the fire. Police say that the backlog was let through and the freeway remains closed.

Intercity train services North of Sydney have also been affected with the railway line closed at Berowra.

Dozens of fire crews and four water bombing aircraft were battling the blazes, according to bushfire volunteer Michael Wood, with changeable wind conditions starting spot fires nearby. Strong north-westerly wind gusts and temperatures of up to 44 degrees posed extremely dangerous fire conditions, the Rural Fire Service said.

The Woy Woy fire front was expected to make a run to Umina and Pearl Beach in the coming hours. 300 firefighters are working to contain the flames.

Cameron Wade, a spokesman for the NSW Rural Fire Service said firefighters were battling flames up to 30 metres in height, destroying several homes. A Fire Station near Woy Woy was also destroyed along with several fire trucks and volunteers cars.

Mr Wade also said that crews were being called in from Sydney and the Hunter to assist local fire crews. Six aircraft and a sky crane are also being used.

It is believed that winds in the Central Coast region are gusting at up to 60 km/h.

Another fire in the Sydney suburb of Belrose is expected to cause problems in the next few hours.

In Merimbula, on the NSW far south coast residents are being evacuated, after a fire broke containment lines.

Phill Koperberg, Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service said there were fires concern at Junee and Cootamundra in southern NSW and at Appin and Bulli south of Sydney.

According to an RFS spokesman, a house in Junee was destoyed and a farmer was hospitalised after receiving burns to 60 percent of his body. A total of five homes in the Junee area have been confirmed lost.

About 100 people have been evacuated from Junee’s outskirts amid fears that southerly winds could reach 100 kph, drastically worsening the fire situation.

Three homes on the Central Coast and three in Junee have been lost.

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Giant tuna sold for $177,000 at Japanese fish market

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

File:Tuna.jpg

This Tuesday, at a wholesale auction at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, a 512-pound bluefin tuna was sold for over sixteen-million yen ($177,000 USD). The great fish was bought and then shared by the owners of a local sushi restaurant and a Hong Kong-based dining establishment. This tuna is the most expensive fish sold on record since 2001, when a 440-pound tuna was sold for over twenty-million ($220,000) at the very same market.

When asked by local media outlets why he decided to purchase this giant tuna, the Hong Kong restaurateur said, “I want[ed] to make an impact on the Japanese and Hong Kong economies by buying the highest-priced tuna.”

This locally caught tuna was among over two-thousand others bought and sold at this bustling fish market. Japan is the world’s largest consumer of seafood per annum. With tuna being a major staple of their cuisine, the Japanese eat nearly eighty-percent of all commercially caught bluefin.

However, tuna consumption in Japan has declined over recent years due to the change in the spending habits of its people as a result of economic downturns from the most recent recession.

“Consumers are shying away from eating tuna…We are very worried about the trend,” a spokesperson for the Tsukiji market told the Associated Press.

In addition to the lack of demand and declining tuna stocks, fishermen and wholesalers worldwide are worried by the possibility of tighter fishing regulations that will be sanctioned and enforced by the Japanese government. Despite this promise, many environmentalists say that this is not going far enough; they say that the only way to curb the inevitable extinction of the Pacific bluefin tuna is to initiate a trade ban on the fish altogether.

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Film project aims to raise £1 million to make a Creative Commons-licensed film

Friday, June 23, 2006

Matt Hanson aims to raise £1 million to fund the production of a feature-length film which would be distributed freely via the Internet under a Creative Commons licence, all funded through 50,000 people each donating £25 to the project, which he’s called ‘A Swarm of Angels‘.

No stranger to filmmaking, Matt has produced numerous digital short films, a series of books on digital filmmaking and set up the digital film festival onedotzero, now in its tenth year. He wants to finally make a feature length film, and decided that it was better to turn to the Internet for help and funding rather than plod through the usual ‘development hell‘.

“I wanted to put into practice what I’ve been preaching as a film futurist for ten years, and the technology and Internet infrastructure has just really caught up with that vision now for me to put it into practice.”

The process is inspired by the ‘web 2.0‘ movement, using social and collaborative communities on the Internet. Matt doesn’t see the funding as coming from donations, but as people paying a subscription to become part of a ‘Swarm’. “Rather than the ‘many producer’ model, this is more of an [sic] ‘smart consumer’ model … members can help implement and bring their expertise into play, and so become more actively involved in the production.”

The project hopes to use professional actors and crew, but use qualified members from the swarm as much as possible. The cast and the crew, including any volunteers that get chosen, would be paid for their work on the film, with Matt suggesting that this is “a great way for people to get into the industry”.

Those members not directly involved in making the film can still participate in the process by discussing ideas on a messageboard, and having a vote on certain crucial decisions such as which script gets chosen for production. Asked how he would balance his own creative direction with input from members, Matt said “my vision will lead the project forward and define the parameters, but the Swarm can influence that, and indeed offer improvements or insights I might not think of alone”.

“Remember filmmaking is always a team effort – whether you are Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick or Jean Luc Godard, you promote people within the project that will complement and bring something extra to the vision of the film. Give it more life. With the Swarm we are making that process more democratic, and giving a wider range of people an opportunity to shine and have creative input.”

Members are promised a collector’s edition DVD of the end product and exclusive merchandise, but the main distribution of the film will be via the Internet, using ‘BitTorrent‘ and peer-to-peer networks. “Unlike many other filmmakers, I’m not wedded to cinema projection as the ‘be all and end all’ – I’m much more excited about people viewing remixed versions on their video iPods,” explains Matt.

The ‘remixing’ of the film will be possible thanks to it being distributed under a Creative Commons licence. Matt suggests that the ‘younger generation’ is more used to being involved with and interacting with entertainment, and points to remixes of the Star Wars films (eg ‘The Phantom Edit‘) as an example of these ‘mashups’. “At the end of the project I would love to have an event that showcased five wildly different versions of the film, different visions from people other than my definitive initial edit,” he suggests. The licence will be for non-commercial use only, however, and so commercial TV stations would still have to pay in order to screen the film.

The project is partly inspired by the success of ‘The Million Dollar Homepage‘, in which British student Alex Tew aimed to raise a million dollars to fund his university education, simply by selling advertising space on a single web page. The publicity surrounding the idea, coupled with the ‘viral’ effect of Internet users passing the page on, meant that he eventually managed to make himself the million dollars.

The success of these projects partly seems to depend on them being interesting and original enough to attract enough attention, and it’s often difficult to see how they could be repeated. Copy-cat versions of the million dollar homepage have so far failed to hugely take off. When asked about this idea, Matt responded “I already expect people to copy the model we are inventing with A Swarm of Angels – it’s a perfect way to create cult media, where the director gets more creative control and organically funds a project, and the fans of the project get more involvement within it. If the market gets too crowded with these projects though, then they’ll have to be packaged differently to stand out. But that’s what traditional film and media projects need to do anyway.”

Over 600 members have signed up to the ‘swarm’ so far, which Matt comments is already an early success, but 50,000 members in total will be needed in order to fully fund the £1 million budget. Matt suggests that getting to the next stage, of reaching 1,000 members, followed by the phase of getting 5,000 members, will be the hardest part, as after that the film will be more ‘tangible’. He expects to raise the full budget, but comments that if the fundraising stalls, “options will be presented by advisors and The Swarm, and based on some kind of consensus we’ll come up with the best option for moving forward.”

Traditionally, independent films are funded either through persuading wealthy individuals to invest, who sometimes are sometimes given ‘Executive Producer‘ credits, or through organisations like the UK Film Council, who award funds from the National Lottery. A tax credit for producers making small films in the UK was announced by the government in 2005, in a bid to give a boost to the UK independent film industry.

Matt says that the film will be “a thriller with soft science fiction elements”, which he says will suit his target audience. “But it will have an indie edginess to it, and be far more visually inventive than you would get with a ‘normal’ British independent feature.” Contributors to the project include artists The Kleptones, who will help with the soundtrack, comic book writer Warren Ellis and documentary filmmaker Grant Gee.

The Swarm of Angels project is online at aswarmofangels.com and costs £25 as an individual to become a member.

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PlayStation 3 will be used to help cure cancer and Alzheimer’s

Monday, August 28, 2006

The upcoming Sony PlayStation 3 game console is going to assist scientists in finding cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease using the Folding@home distributed computing program.

Folding@home is run by the Pande group of Stanford University (America) to research protein folding, this is the process whereby proteins build themselves inside the cells in the body. Analyisis of how proteins fold (specifically how the folding goes wrong) can give insights into how diseases form. The simulation processes used in the research take months just for a single protein so the data is split into small packets (called workunits by the community) and distributed to volunteers around the world. By downloading a program called a ‘client’ users can receive units and perform the simulations on them – results are then sent back to the Stanford servers.

Currently more than 150,000 computers run the folding ‘client’ worldwide. The new client can be downloaded to the users PlayStation 3 console and will then begin to calculate “work units” when users are not playing games. Since the PS3 has a ‘Cell’ processor with a total of 8 cores the calculations should be performed faster than on a PC. With this new program scientists aim to create a super computer faster than IBM‘s BlueGene/L System (which currently calculates more than 280.6 trillion bits of information per second). The new calculations are expected to process a thousand trillion bits of information across the whole project every second.

A statement on Folding@home’s website explained further: “Using the Cell processor of the PS3, we should be able to do more folding than what one could do on a PC. Also, since the PS3 has a powerful GPU, the PS3 client will offer real time visualization for the first time.”

The new program is part of an expansion of the project and the first of 2 new clients that have been developed. The second, scheduled for release later on, will utilise a computer’s graphics card (supporting only ATI graphics cards at first) to perform folding calcualtions.

“We will release more details on all of this as the new software rolls out,” said the statement, “We are beta testing the ATI GPU client software internally at the moment and will likely announce an open beta in four to five weeks (end of September).”

The Pande group noted their ultimate aim as being to create an even faster super computer, with the ability to process over a million trillion bits of data every second: “The PS3 client and GPU client are together part of our new broader goals to push Folding@Home to the next stage, reaching calculations on the petaflop to 10 petaflop scale.”

The PS3 client is expected to be available at the end of September.

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Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.

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2008 Canadian Championship: Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact

Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 27, 20087:30 PM (EDT)
Toronto FC 1–0 Montreal Impact Saputo Stadium, Montreal, Quebec Attendance: 12,083 Referee: Paul Ward
Brennan 32’Wynne 37’Dichio 41’Smith 41’Valez 72′ (1) 24′ Di Lorenzo 24′ Ribeiro 37′ Pesoli 53′ Pesoli

Toronto FC opened up the Nutrilite Canadian Championship with a 1-0 win against Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium on Tuesday night.

Reds defender Marco Velez scored the only goal of the game, 1st in tournament history. Velez jumped to head home a cross from Laurent Robert. The goal came in the 72nd minute.

Montreal played for much of the 2nd half with 10 men after defender Stefano Pesoli was sent off for a second yellow card.

Toronto FC striker Danny Dichio has been struggling with a groin strain in recent weeks and was forced to leave the game before half time. He was replaced by Jarrod Smith.

Toronto FC now prepare to face Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at BMO Field. Toronto FC play their next Nutrilite Canadian Championship game on July 1st against Vancouver Whitecaps at BMO Field. The Impact’s next game is on Friday against the Portland Timbers at Saputo Stadium.

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