Riots in Greece enter fourth night

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The riots in Greece that started on December 6 have entered their fourth night. These are the worst riots the Hellenic Republic has witnessed in decades.

The riots were triggered when Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15-year-old student, was shot and killed by police. The police claim that Grigoropoulos was throwing a bomb at them when they fired.

Cities throughout Greece have been hit by the unrest, not just Athens. Hundreds of shops and businesses have been destroyed.

“No one has the right to use this tragic incident as an excuse for acts of violence,” said Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, New Democracy party.

“The government cannot handle this crisis and has lost the trust of the Greek people,” George Papandreou of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement said. “The best thing it can do is resign and let the people find a solution … We will protect the public.”

The rioters are organizing on the campus of National Technical University of Athens (Athens Polytechnic). A constitutional clause enacted after the overthrow of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 prevents security forces from entering the campus.

The Guardian is reporting that the University is being used by young men and women to stock up on firebombs and break up marble slabs to throw at police. From behind their makeshift barriers, they vowed the unrest would become “an uprising the likes of which Greece has never seen.”

“We are experiencing moments of a great social revolution,” leftist activist Panagiotis Sotiris told Reuters. Sotiris is among those occupying a university building. “The protests will last as long as necessary,” he added.

“A switch has been flicked and the pressure cooker’s boiled over,” said David Lea, an analyst at Control Risks Group in London, to Bloomberg News. “There are certain places where anarchists are more likely to inspire violence, and that’s Greece.”

Two police officers have been charged in the shooting death of Grigoropoulos, who was buried on Tuesday.

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Apple releases new Magic Trackpad, updated iMacs and Mac Pros

Friday, July 30, 2010

On Tuesday, Apple Inc. introduced a new peripheral, the Magic Trackpad, and refreshed its line of iMac and Mac Pro computers, as well as the Apple Cinema Display.

The Magic Trackpad, a multi-touch trackpad for Macintosh computers, allows end users to use certain gestures to control on-screen actions. It supports gestures already seen on the MacBook and MacBook Pro trackpads, as well as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, such as swiping, tap-to-click, and pinch-to-zoom. However, the Magic Trackpad also supports physical clicking and supports one- and two-button commands. The Magic Trackpad, which is retailed for US$69, connects wirelessly to a computer using Bluetooth technology and has a claimed four months of battery life. At 5.17 inches (13.13 centimetres) long and 5.12 inches (13 centimetres) wide, the glass and aluminium device is slightly larger than Apple’s laptop trackpads.

In addition to the Magic Trackpad, Apple also began selling the US$29 Apple Battery Charger accessory, a charger pack with six rechargeable batteries usable in the Magic Trackpad, Apple Wireless Keyboard, and Apple Magic Mouse. Apple claims that the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries can last up to ten years before they lose their ability to hold a charge. The Magic Trackpad uses two AA batteries, and can be used with any Bluetooth-enabled Macintosh computer running Mac OS X 10.6.4.

Another major announcement that came on Tuesday was the first iMac update since last fall. The update included mostly internal upgrades, giving consumers a choice of newer Intel processors: the dual-core Core i3 and Core i5, and the quad-core Core i5 and Core i7. In addition, the SD card slot was expanded to allow support for the Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) format. The iMac is still available at 21.5-inch (54.61-centimetre) and 27-inch (68.58-centimetre) display options, but has upgraded graphics cards as well. The screens use in-plane switching (IPS) technology, allowing for a greater viewing angle. The base model is still priced at US$1,199.

Apple’s line of Mac Pro computers were also given a refresh on Tuesday. Consumers now have the option to purchase a Mac Pro with twelve processing cores, using two six-core Intel Xeon processors. Four-, six-, and eight-core options are still available. The update also includes the choice of adding up to four, 512GB solid state drives, instead of conventional hard drives. The base model is priced at US$2,499 and will be sold starting in August.

Apple also released a new, 27-inch (68.58 centimetre) LED Cinema Display, a 60 percent increase in display area from the older 24-inch (60.96 centimetres) Cinema Display. The new monitor can reach a resolution of 2560-by-1440 pixels, or Wide Quad High Definition, and has a built-in microphone, webcam, speakers, USB hub, and ambient light sensor, which changes the display’s brightness based on external lighting levels. It is priced at US$999 but will not be available for purchase until September.

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Surgeons reattach boy’s three severed limbs

Tuesday, March 29, 2005A team of Australian surgeons yesterday reattached both hands and one foot to 10-year-old Perth boy, Terry Vo, after a brick wall which collapsed during a game of basketball fell on him, severing the limbs. The wall gave way while Terry performed a slam-dunk, during a game at a friend’s birthday party.

The boy was today awake and smiling, still in some pain but in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery, according to plastic surgeon, Mr Robert Love.

“What we have is parts that are very much alive so the reattached limbs are certainly pink, well perfused and are indeed moving,” Mr Love told reporters today.

“The fact that he is moving his fingers, and of course when he wakes up he will move both fingers and toes, is not a surprise,” Mr Love had said yesterday.

“The question is more the sensory return that he will get in the hand itself and the fine movements he will have in the fingers and the toes, and that will come with time, hopefully. We will assess that over the next 18 months to two years.

“I’m sure that he’ll enjoy a game of basketball in the future.”

The weight and force of the collapse, and the sharp brick edges, resulted in the three limbs being cut through about 7cm above the wrists and ankle.

Terry’s father Tan said of his only child, the injuries were terrible, “I was scared to look at him, a horrible thing.”

The hands and foot were placed in an ice-filled Esky and rushed to hospital with the boy, where three teams of medical experts were assembled, and he was given a blood transfusion after experiencing massive blood loss. Eight hours of complex micro-surgery on Saturday night were followed by a further two hours of skin grafts yesterday.

“What he will lose because it was such a large zone of traumatised skin and muscle and so on, he will lose some of the skin so he’ll certainly require lots of further surgery regardless of whether the skin survives,” said Mr Love said today.

The boy was kept unconscious under anaesthetic between the two procedures. In an interview yesterday, Mr Love explained why:

“He could have actually been woken up the next day. Because we were intending to take him back to theatre for a second look, to look at the traumatised skin flaps, to close more of his wounds and to do split skin grafting, it was felt the best thing to do would be to keep him stable and to keep him anaesthetised.”

Professor Wayne Morrison, director of the respected Bernard O’Brien Institute of Microsurgery and head of plastic and hand surgery at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital, said he believed the operation to be a world first.

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Former Illinois Governor Blagojevich rests in corruption trial

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Despite promises he would testify in his own corruption trial, lawyers for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich rested their case yesterday morning. His defense did not call a single witness, and apparently feels the prosecution has not proven their case. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.

Speculation that Blagojevich would not testify began on Tuesday, when U.S. District Judge James Zagel adjourned 90 minutes early after a private meeting with the lawyers involved. Robert Blagojevich, the former governor’s brother and co-defendant in the case, had already testified on his own behalf. Blagojevich’s defense team apparently considered resting their case on Tuesday, but Zagel gave them an extra day to consider their decision more carefully.

When Zagel directly asked the former governor about his decision, he replied that he understood what he was doing. “It is my decision, under the advice of my attorneys. I make the decision fully and voluntarily,” he said.

Blagojevich is charged with trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that had been vacated by Barack Obama when he won the 2008 presidential election, among other crimes. Robert Blagojevich testified that his brother was trying to manipulate the political situation to his advantage, but emphasized that he engaged in nothing illegal. According to some sources, Blagojevich was interested in leading the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Things To Consider When Camping With Your Kids

By Benedict Smythe

If you are trying to find a perfect bonding activity with your kids, you ought to take them camping. Spending the night outdoors with your children can be a great way to renew your closeness with them while making sure that they learn something. Camping outdoors can be a great way to increase your children’s awareness about nature and their surroundings. You can also make use of camping as a special activity that will harness your child’s life skills.

If you are planning to have a night out with your children this weekend, you should first orient yourself with the following tips that can help you make the most out of camping with your kids:

a. Plan your trip with your kids. Make sure that your kids are highly involved with the activity. When deciding where you will set your camp, consider their interests. However, do not forget your children’s actual outdoor experiences along with their corresponding ages. When plannng your itinerary, make sure that you will allow your children to pick the activities that they want to engage in. When shopping for your equipment, tools, food and beverages, bring your children and let them make their choices. Encourage them to prepare and pack their things but make sure that you provide proper guidance so you can be certain that they will not forget anything.

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b. When going camping for the first time, try a backyard camp-out first. This will help you gauge if your children are ready for a real outdoor night out. Such will also help them prepare themselves for a night out of their usual bedroom scenery. When having a backyard camp-out, better teach your kids the basics of camping such as how to set up their very own tent. Show them how they should use other camping equipment as well and let them sleep in their actual sleeping bags. Try cooking outdoors as well and try a few camp activities.

c. When you campout, make sure that your children fully understand the essence of an outdoor experience. When taking them out, make sure that each experience will make them familiar with the outdoors so they will be at ease during the night. Try to help them get rid of their fears related to camping out. Teach them well about respecting and preserving nature. Make sure that they are also fully equipped with the necessary outdoor skills and ethics needed in adapting to wildlife and interacting with other campers. Never forget to teach them first aid practices.

d. Plan activities and chores that are suitable for children. When you camp out, make sure that you assign actual camp chores for each of your children. Match their responsibilities with their age and their physical capabilities. Among the most common chores that you can assign are collecting firewood, helping your prepare the food and snacks, helping you set up the tent by hammering tent stacks, filling the water containers, picking fruits, and others.

However, whenever you assign tasks, make the chores fun and engaging. Turn the simple activities into contests and give corresponding awards. As for the camping activities, you can include day hikes in the woods or low mountains, fishing, picnics, and scavenger hunts.

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Tens of thousands of workers demonstrate in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Despite heavy snowing, tens of thousands of workers and supporters marched today in Ljubljana, Slovenia in the largest demonstration since the country’s independence in 1991 to protest against the government programme of economic reforms, including privatisation of public services, tax cuts for businessmen and the abolition of the lower value added tax rate for items like food and books.

The protests, jointly organized by several trade union federations and attended by representatives of almost all Slovenian trade unions, began with an hour-long march from Ljubljana’s Tivoli park to the Congress Square (Kongresni trg). Workers and trade unionists were joined by supporters from Croatia, Italy and Austria, as well as students, anarchist groups, and general population. Several politicians from the opposition Liberal democracy and Social democrats were seen in the crowd. Noisy protesters armed with whistles, rattles and even some flares, marched through the snow waving trade union flags and carrying banners denouncing government policies. There were even a couple of old socialist flags with red stars. Riot police were seen on side streets and guarding accessess to government buildings, but they did not intervene.

The protest continued at the Congress Square with speeches of the representatives of trade unions and student organizations who denounced the government policy as leading into greater inequality and decreased standard of living for ordinary people. The loudest boos of the audience were drawn by the remarks about blaming the unemployed for being unemployed, introduction of university fees, and government’s waiving of taxes and health and pension fund contributions for church officials. The speeches were followed by a musical program, but the crowd soon started dispersing to escape the weather. Trade unions organized transport for 40,000 people to attend, but many buses were stuck in traffic jams on snowy roads and arrived too late for the protest. The police estimated the number of protesters to 25,000.

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Oil company BP to pay for Gulf of Mexico spill

Monday, May 3, 2010

The British oil company BP has said it will pay the cleanup costs from a severe oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a statement on its website posted earlier today, BP pledged to take responsibility for cleaning up after the Deepwater Horizon oil well ruptured, adding it would pay what it called “legitimate and objectively verifiable” compensation for claims of damage or injury.

“We are responsible, not for the accident, but we are responsible for the oil and for dealing with it and cleaning the situation up,” said BP chief executive Tony Hayward on the TV show Good Morning America, claiming the company was not at fault for the collapse of the oil rig itself, whose equipment was provided by another company, Transocean.

Transocean spokesman Guy Cantwell responded by saying: “We will await all the facts before drawing conclusions and we will not speculate.”

The Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20 and killed eleven workers. The cause of the disaster is not known.