Athletes prepare for 2012 Summer Paralympics at the Paralympic Fitness Centre

Monday, August 27, 2012

London, England — As Paralympians ready for the Games which are set to open later this week, they have access to a world class fitness center inside the Paralympic Village which is designed to maximise their pre-Game preparations.

According to volunteers staffing the center, instead of being a single large room, as in Beijing, the building has numerous rooms. It, along with the adjacent Village Services Centre, is designed to be converted into a school after the games conclude. Rooms have been structured as a gym, an auditorium, and science laboratories.

Gym equipment is supplied by Technogym, an Italian firm that has supplied gym equipment for the Olympics since 2000. Equipment has been provided not just for for the Fitness Centre, but for gyms at all the Olympic venues. The newest equipment is oriented toward maximum flexibility, allowing athletes to exercise the particular muscles that they most require for their sport.

In addition to the equipment, the Fitness Centre also provides instructors trained in the use of the equipment, the likes of which athletes from many countries have never seen before. There are also a number of instructors available to provide motivational training.

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Chili Finger Incident

Friday, May 6, 2005

On Thursday the 22nd of March, 2005, Anna Ayala, a woman from Las Vegas, claimed to have found a human finger in her bowl of chili at a Wendy’s restaurant located at 1405 Monterey Highway, just south of downtown San Jose, California, owned by Fresno-based Jern Management.. The finger, which probably belonged to a woman as it had a long and manicured fingernail, did not belong to any of the restaurant employees. The food supplies were seized by officials to be traced back to its manufacturers, while the restaurant was permitted to open again later with chili prepared from fresh ingredients.

Contents

  • 1 Aftermath
  • 2 Investigation centers on Ayala
  • 3 Twists and turns
  • 4 Ayala arrested
  • 5 Ayala transferred to San Jose
  • 6 Finger’s owner identified
  • 7 Recently Edited headlines

Wikinews reporter David Vasquez drove his car up to the drive-thru menu and found that chili was still on the menu, at a price of US$1.19 for a small serving. He also witnessed workers unloading supplies from a semi-trailer truck in the restaurant’s parking lot, and carting them into the back door of the establishment.

Initially, county health officials said Ayala was fine and the finger had been cooked, which would have killed any bacteriae in the finger. However, on March 27, officials admitted they were not so sure anymore. Tests were done on the finger to determine this. Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County’s health officer, said that even if the finger was still raw when Ayala bit into it, the risk was low that she would have become infected with anything. However, he advised that Ayala should undergo a series of precautionary follow-up tests.

Sales at Wendy’s went down because of the incident. Wendy’s International, Inc. (WEN) closed at US$39.43 on Thursday the 22nd, and as the stock exchange was closed for the Good Friday holiday, traders did not weigh in the stock until the next Monday.

By Tuesday the 5th of April, officials had still not succeeded in tracking down the owner of the finger. The fingerprint on the detached digit has been run through an FBI database as well as the local criminal database in Santa Clara County, but no matches were found. According to Rich Reneau, who was leading the investigation at the time, the fingerprint was marginal, and the likelihood of finding a match was slim.

Wendy’s stock did not go down significantly and was trading at US$39.37 that morning.

The next day, on Wednesday the 6th, Las Vegas police searched the home of Anna Ayala. About a dozen officers conducted the search at Ayala’s home at Maryland Parkway and Serene Street at about 4 p.m. local time (23:00 UTC), according to witnesses at the scene. Ayala and other residents were handcuffed and brought out of the house. Ayala said that her teenage daughter, Genesis Reyes, had torn shoulder ligaments as a result of the search. The Las Vegas Review-Journal ran a photo of Reyes wearing a sling in their Friday edition. In San Jose, police spokeswoman Gina Tepoorten confirmed to reporters that investigators had served the warrant in cooperation with Las Vegas police on Wednesday, but she refused to reveal specific details about the warrant. By that time, Wendy’s was offering a US$50,000 reward for information leading to the source of the finger.

Research by the Associated Press uncovered Ayala’s history of lawsuits. Ayala successfully won her suit for medical expenses against the national El Pollo Loco chicken-chain, a previous employer, after her daughter Genesis contracted salmonella poisoning, allegedly from eating at the restaurant. However, Ayala lost another suit against General Motors in 2000 claiming that a wheel fell off her car. She also started a sexual harassment suit against her former boss in 1998. A total of 13 lawsuits in California and Nevada had been filed. Ayala replied the focus should be on Wendy’s, and not her record of law suits. Nick Muyo, a spokesman for the San Jose Police department, said not to expect new information in the case for at least a week.

On Wednesday the 13th there was a potential new lead in the investigation. A spotted leopard had torn off part of a finger from an owner of exotic animals, Sandy Allman, in Pahrump, Nevada. The portion of Allman’s torn off finger was approximately the same size – 1 1/2-inches long. Pahrump is approximately 45 miles away from Las Vegas. Carol Asvestas, who owns an exotic animal sanctuary, told the San Jose Mercury News she witnessed the leopard tear off the finger. She reported the incident to a hotline run by Wendy’s offering the US$50,000 reward. Cindy Carroccio told the San Jose Mercury News that the finger was not reattached, and that the clinic “gave it back to her (Allman) in a little bag of ice.” On the same day the lead was announced, Ayala decided to drop her lawsuit against Wendy’s, due to emotional stress.

However, when Allman’s prints were sent to San Jose police, they didn’t match. Two days later, on Friday the 15th, Wendy’s doubled the reward to US$100,000. The company revealed that employees had passed polygraph tests. Wendy’s continues to claim that there is no evidence that the finger ever entered their supply chain, pointing to a lack of any accidents among the workers at their suppliers. Wendy’s tip line had received reports from across the United States, from “folks who either have lost a finger, or know somebody who lost a finger,” San Jose police Sgt. Nick Muyo told the Associated Press.

On Thursday the 21st of April, Anna Ayala was arrested at or near her home in Las Vegas on Thursday evening, in connection with the case, shortly after Wendy’s finished its own internal investigation. According to court documents, she has been charged with one count of attempted grand larceny related to the chili case, and one count of grand larceny in an unrelated real estate deal, and is being held without bail in Clark County, Nevada, pending extradition. A press conference by the San Jose Police and Wendy’s was held on Friday, April 22, at 13:00 PDT. The charge related to the case states the finger could not have been prepared at Wendy’s, where the chili is heated to 170 degrees for 3 hours. There is also an inconsistency in Ayala’s account of finding the finger and claiming it caused her to vomit compared with police saying there was no vomit at the scene. The incident has caused Wendy’s 2.5 million dollars worth of damages, which Ayala could be criminally responsible for. Until recently, the San Jose police had not accused Ayala of planting the finger herself.

The unrelated charge stems from an incident, also in San Jose, when Ayala allegedly received an $11,000 down payment on a mobile home she did not own.

Ayala was incarcerated at the Clark County Detention Center, awaiting a fugitive review hearing on Tuesday, April 26, 2005, at 7:30 a.m. local time. She was processed and given inmate ID 01964047. Her case number was 05F07229X. Ayala waived extradition at the hearing, and her attorney said they were ready to come to San Jose to defend against the charges.

On Friday, May 6, 2005, Ayala was transported to San Jose, California. Ayala was booked into the main Santa Clara County jail, and is awaiting arraignment. Ayala will likely be arraigned on Monday or Tuesday at the Santa Clara County Superior Court, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney David Boyd.

On September 9, 2005, Ayala plead guilty to conspiring to file a false claim and attempted grand theft, and will be sentenced on November 2, 2005. She faces up to ten years in prison, and her husband faces up to 13 years behind bars.

Until the middle of May, the owner of the finger still had not been found.

But on May 13, 2005, police announced that they had identified the finger tip as belonging to an associate of Ayala’s husband [1]. The associate had lost his finger tip in an industrial accident at an asphalt company[2] in December, 2004. Police had received the information from an undisclosed caller to Wendy’s hot-line.

Photos related to this incident:

Oil leaking container ship might cause environmental catastrophe

Sunday, January 21, 2007

In the United Kingdom, an anti-pollution operation is under way after the stricken ship MSC Napoli started to leak dangerous heavy fuel oil.

The heavy fuel oil that is leaking from the beached Italian ship is extremely dangerous for the environment. Fear of pollution increased after the ship was further damaged during storms last Thursday. MSC Napoli was beached by Devon coastguards after it suffered heavy structual damage in the gale force storms of Thursday, 18 January 2007, that wreaked havoc across Northern Europe. The ship, which contains 160 containers of hazardous chemical substances, is listing at 35 degrees.

The entire 26-man crew was rescued by navy helicopters Thursday after severe gales. Cracks were found on both sides of the ship, but the current oil leak was not expected.

Around 2,400 containers were carried by the 62,000 tonne ship, some of which contain potentially dangerous hazardous chemicals.

The Coastguards have reported that up to 200 of the containers carrying materials such as perfume and battery acid are loose from the ship and they are looking for missing containers. South African stainless steel producer Columbus Stainless confirmed on Friday that there was at least 1,000 tonnes of nickel on board MSC Napoli.

A hole in the ship flooded the engine room and there’s now fears that the ship will break up. Saturday MSC Napoli was towed to Portland when a ”structural failure” forced the salvage team to beach it. As the storms have continued MSC Napoli has been further damaged.

The authorities have warned people about the pollution, which already has reached the beaches at Devon, but many want to see it on their own. Police have closed Branscombe Beach as more than 20 containers have broken up scattering their contents along the beach.

Sky News reported Sunday that the costs of the accident might be very high as thousands of pounds worth of BMW motorbikes, car parts, empty oak barrels and perfume might get lost in flooding containers.

Apple unveils iPhone 4, iOS 4 at Worldwide Developers Conference 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Yesterday, at this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), company CEO Steve Jobs unveiled iPhone 4, along with the new iOS 4 operating system for Apple mobile devices.

The announcement was long-awaited but not a very big surprise. In April, the technology blog Gizmodo obtained a prototype of the new phone and published details of it online. While introducing iPhone 4, at the annual conference, Jobs started by hinting at the incident, saying, “Stop me if you’ve already seen this.”

The new iPhone was praised by Jobs as “the biggest leap we’ve taken since the original iPhone.” It is only 9.3 millimetres (0.37 inches) thick, making it “the thinnest smartphone on the planet”, a 24 percent reduction from Apple’s previous model, the iPhone 3GS. Structure-wise, iPhone 4 has a new stainless steel frame, which acts as an antenna, supposedly boosting its signal reception abilities and possibly reducing the amount of dropped calls. It also has a new screen, dubbed a “retina display,” which displays images at 326 pixels per inch. During the keynote, Jobs demoed the device’s new internal gyroscope as well. Even though it now uses Apple’s faster A4 processor (first used in its iPad tablet), iPhone 4 has a claimed seven hours of 3G talk time, up two hours from the 3GS.

In addition to its design features, Jobs showed off iPhone 4’s new video calling abilities. This feature is called FaceTime, and connects with other iPhone 4s via Wi-Fi. The phone has two cameras: one on the front for video chats, and one on the back for taking pictures and other videos. The rear camera has a resolution of five megapixels, is capable of recording high-definition video, and has an LED flash.

The iPhone 4 will use Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 4. Formerly “iPhone OS,” iOS 4 was first introduced by Apple in April, and includes multitasking capabilities. Jobs called the new software “the most advanced mobile operating system in the world.” iOS will support Apple’s new mobile advertising service, iAd, which goes live on July 1.

iPhone 4 will be available on June 24 in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan. It comes in two colors—black and white—and two storage capacities. The 16GB version is priced at US$199 and the 32GB version at US$299. The iPhone 3GS’s price will be reduced to US$99, and the iPhone 3G will be discontinued. iOS will be available as a free software update to users of compatible older Apple devices (including the 3GS) on June 21. In the U.S., iPhone 4 will only be available on AT&T’s cellular network, despite calls for Apple to let the iPhone be used on other carriers, such as Verizon.

Competition-wise, the BlackBerry mobile device is still the most popular smartphone right now. Apple is also facing some serious competition from web giant Google’s Android operating system, as well as Palm’s webOS. Earlier this year, Android phones managed to outsell iPhones. iPhone users, however, account for over half of those surfing the Internet on a mobile browser in the U.S. Jobs also noted that over five billion iOS applications, commonly called “apps,” have been purchased from Apple’s App Store. The App Store currently has around 225,000 different apps for sale.

Bush EPA nominee abandons insecticide-on-children study after Senate hearing

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Following a Senate hearing in which the Bush administration’s nominee for EPA administrator, Stephen Johnson, stoutly defended his plan to pay parents to document the effects on infants of insecticide use in the home, he reversed course and stopped the program.

Among the original requirements for the 60 families requested to be participants in the “Children’s Health Environmental Exposure Research Study” (CHEERS) study according to EPA were that they must:

  • Live in Duval County, Florida
  • Be a parent of a child under the age of 13 months
  • Spray or apply or have pesticides sprayed or applied inside your home on a routine basis (You do not need to change your regular household routine for the study.)

This original version of the requirements can be viewed in the Internet Archive, a free online repository that creates copies of websites on a regular basis. The third requirement was reworded by November 2004, according to the Internet Archive: “Maintain your normal pesticide or non-pesticide use patterns for your household. We will not ask any parent to apply pesticides in their home to be a part of this study.”

According to the above document, the area of Jacksonville/Duval County was chosen for reasons of existing year-round high usage of pesticides and other household chemicals within the home, as well as relevant data from existing prior studies. The study involved researchers visiting the home of participants, parents videotaping their children’s activities with a supplied camcorder, children wearing a small “activity sensor”, and parents collecting food and urine samples for detailed analysis of the effects of chemical exposure to common commercially available chemicals, primarily pesticides, on which “current information… is very limited” [1].

Selection for the study began in fall 2004. As incentives for their participation in the planned two-year study, parents were to be given $970, a t-shirt, and other gifts, and would have kept the video camera at its conclusion.

Complaining that the study was necessary, Johnson yielded to two Democratic Senators who had threatened to block him, using all means available, from officially taking the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency, of which he is the acting head. The block on his nomination was lifted afterwards although some Democratic Senators would not say how they would vote on the final nomination.

Under his guidance, the EPA agreed to accept $2 million for the controversial $9 million CHEERS study from an industry trade group, the American Chemistry Council, which represents the chemical insecticide manufacturers. The study was to be conducted with the cooperation of the Duval County Health Department, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Atlanta.

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bill Nelson, (D-FLA), demanded the cancellation of the study as proof of Johnson’s acknowledgement of what she called a “gross error in judgment”.

“The CHEERS program was a reprehensible idea that never should have made it out of the boardroom, and I am just happy that it was stopped before any children were put in harms way,” Boxer said. She added that testing on humans should not be a part of any United States environmental policy.

“I am very pleased that Mr. Johnson has recognized the gross error in judgment the EPA made when they concocted this immoral program to test pesticides on children,” Boxer said.

Work on the study was halted last November by Johnson while an independent review of the study’s design was conducted at his request. Part of the reason for the study’s current cancellation was what the EPA in its press release has termed “mischaracterization” of the nature of the study as though children were being deliberately sprayed with pesticides.

Johnson defended his approach, “I have concluded that the study cannot go forward, regardless of the outcome of the independent review. EPA must conduct quality, credible research in an atmosphere absent of gross misrepresentation and controversy. I am committed to ensuring that EPA’s research is based on sound science with the highest ethical standards.”

In November 2004, William Farland, an administrator with the EPA’s research department, told The Oregonian, “There’s no suggestion that we are asking them to use pesticides. We simply want them to continue to carry out their day-to-day activities.”

Death of Kentucky census worker considered suicide

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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

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

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

Wikinews Shorts: January 27, 2012

A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, January 27, 2012.

Contents

  • 1 Medicins Sans Frontieres announces partial withdrawal over Libyan torture abuses
  • 2 Jagger tells World Economic Forum, “can’t always get what you want”
  • 3 UK Prime Minister calls for European Union to be more competetive
  • 4 Coup in Papua New Guinea fails
  • 5 Australian Prime Minister rescued from protesters

If you believe any of these stories deserves more in-depth coverage, feel free to write a full article on the issues raised.

New study claims Stonehenge was a place of healing

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Archaeologists Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University and Geoff Wainwright, President of the Society of Antiquaries, claimed to have found evidence that Stonehenge was once a center of healing. In an excavation conducted at the site, a large number of human remains were found that display signs of physical injury or disease. Study of the teeth from the skeletons indicates that about half of them were from outside the area.

A large number of bluestone or spotted Preseli dolerite chips found during the excavation led the researchers to conclude the stones were venerated for their healing properties. It is believed that about 80 of such bluestone blocks were transported from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, Wales to the Salisbury plains. The inner circle of bluestones are the earliest stone structures found in this site. Later bluestones were encircled by the imposing sandstone monoliths of sarsen stones. “It could be that people were flaking off pieces of bluestone, in order to create little bits to take away… as lucky amulets,” said Professor Darvill.

Stonehenge would attract not only people who were unwell, but people who were capable of [healing] them.

Radiocarbon dating indicates that the original bluestone circle was built around 2300 BC. This date coincides with the burial of “Amesbury Archer“, whose tomb was discovered near Stonehenge. The skeleton of this man reveals that he had serious knee injury and tooth problems. Researchers therefore conclude that the Archer came to Stonehenge to be healed.

Dating of charcoal fragments revealed that the site was inhabited as early as 7200 BC by groups of hunter-gatherers. This is more than 3500 years earlier than previously known.