Georgian woman celebrates 130th birthday

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Antisa Khvichava, a woman from the country of Georgia, is said to be celebrating her 130th birthday, which would make her the oldest known person on Earth, past or present.

Reportedly born in 1880, documents state that Khvichava picked corn and tea for a living in 1965, at the age of 85. Prior to Khvichava, the record holder for the oldest known person to have lived on the planet was Jeanne Calment of France, who lived to be 122 years old. If confirmed, Khvichava would take the top spot with an eight year lead. The Justice Ministry in Georgia backs up her claim, but it was not independently verified by the Gerontology Research Group and her birth certificate was lost.

I’ve always been healthy, and I’ve worked all my life — at home and at the farm.

Khvichava lives in a small village in Sachino, in the Tsalenjikha district with her entire family, including her 70-year-old son Mikhail, who was apparently born when his mother was 60 years old, 10 of her grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and her other six great-great-grandchildren.

“I’ve always been healthy, and I’ve worked all my life — at home and at the farm,” said Khvichava to the Associated Press. Although she spends most of her time in bed, Khvichava can walk without aid, but has some difficulties. Despite her age, her family says she is “clear minded” and can “think rationally.”

Chrysler files for bankruptcy, Fiat Group SpA to run company

Friday, May 1, 2009

The American auto company Chrysler filed for bankruptcy Thursday, however a deal with European auto maker Fiat went through. The emerging Chrysler will be owned 55 percent by the United Auto Workers, eight percent by the United States Government, two percent by the Canadian Government and Fiat would begin with a 20 percent share.

Chrysler Chief Executive Robert Nardelli will step down when the bankruptcy proceedings are finalized.

Initially, the Italian company, Fiat, will appoint three members on the emerging Chrysler’s new board, and the United States government will appoint six. Fiat can assume the majority of the ownership upon repayment of American loans.

Chrysler administrators expect that the bankruptcy should take a couple of months.

“We expect this to be a very short, 30-to-60-day bankruptcy process, during which the company will function normally,” a top administration official said, “People will be able to buy cars, they will have their warranties honored, and everything should go on normally.”

The bankruptcy filing indicated that Chrysler was in debt to 20 creditors to a tune of more than $10 million each.

Meanwhile, the deal with Fiat did go through, and Chrysler should have cars designed by Fiat out on the market by 2011.

“It’s a partnership that will give Chrysler a chance not only to survive, but to thrive in a global auto industry,” said American president Obama, “Fiat has demonstrated that it can build the clean, fuel-efficient cars that are the future of the industry.”

However, automotive analyst Erich Merkle has hesitations.

“History would show that alliances really don’t work that well,” Merkle said, “even though, no matter how good they may look on paper.”

The restructuring has been managed by Steve Rattner, a former investment banker, and the U.S. Government auto task force.

Obama has set three ultimatums before Fiat. Fiat should produce a 40 mile per gallon vehicle while managing the new Chrysler, transfer fuel efficient Fiat technology to Chrysler factories in the United States, and produce cars in Chrysler factories and distribute them in Europe.

Kansas School Board has copyright withheld over teaching Intelligent Design

Monday, October 31, 2005

Kansas has been denied permission to use two key documents commonly used in the writing of science education standards for states, the National Science Education Standards (published by the National Research Council) and Pathways to Science Standards (published by the National Science Teacher Association). The respective organizations argued that they could not grant the state of Kansas permission to use these documents in the current form of the Kansas Science Educational Standards, as these overemphasize controversy between the scientific theory of Evolution and the argument of Intelligent Design. Moreover, the organizations criticize that the standards in their current form distort the definition of science. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has expressed its support for the decision to deny Kansas the use of copyrighted material, as “the proposed standards misrepresent both the content and the standing of evolution as a scientific organizing principle”.

Proponents of Intelligent Design have characterized the refusal as “an effort to censor the discussion of scientific criticism of Darwinian theory by intimidation and threat”.

This is likely to further delay the ratification of the final vote on the Kansas Science Educational Standards as they will have to be rewritten either to not violate any copyright restrictions or modify their account of evolution and outlook on science. According to University of Kansas professor Steve Case, rewriting the standards will be very difficult, as “there is copyrighted material on every page” of the current document.

This is the second time that Kansas was denied the right to use copyrighted materials in their state standards, following the case in 1999, when Kansas included Creationism, a precursor of Intelligent Design, into the school curriculum. A later school board overturned that directive.

The dispute in Kansas has brought nationwide responses, ranging from a rebuke by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to the creation of internet-sensation Flying Spaghetti Monster mythology (which is lobbying the Kansas School Board to give equal time teaching their creationism theory as well.)

An account of the Esperanza Fire from an animal rescuer

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

As families fled their homes in the early morning hours on Thursday October 26, there was no warning. The Esperanza Fire southeast of Los Angeles and West of Palm Springs, California, had ballooned under the influence of Santa Ana winds to more than 19,000 acres as of the morning of October 27. No time to get the animals, no time for crates or even a leash. Sadly, owners left behind not only their horses, lamas, donkeys, chickens, rabbits, but also their dogs and cats.

Many of the families who did manage to evacuate their pets found themselves in the parking lot at the Fellowship in the Pass Church Red Cross Shelter where a MuttShack Animal Rescue team caught up with them.

Pam Anderson, Director of the emergency Red Cross shelter said that many people with animals had come and left.

The air was thick with smoke, and ash was raining down on the parking lot where dog owners, not able to take their dogs into the shelter were camping out in pup tents andin their cars.

Those who could afford it checked themselves into pet friendly hotels in nearby towns.

Some were prepared. Jane Garner, a small dog breeder was able to get all her animals out, and had set up her puppy runs alongside her RV in the parking lot. Others were not doing too well, having left home without as much as a leash.

The same scenario played out at the Red Cross shelter at Hemet High School. Animals were being boarded in vans, trailers and cars and small travel crates.

When MuttShack Animal Rescue arrived, a small fracas had sent several dogs off in different directions, running out of the school parking lot down busy streets necessitating an instant rescue response.

The Incident Command for the Esperanza Animals, Ramona Humane Society in San Jacinto welcomed MuttShack‘s offer to help at the shelters.

Ramona Humane Society had recently published a notice in their Newsletter about the newly passed “PETS Act”and warned owners not wait until a major disaster such as an earthquake or fireto prepare. “Be proactive to ensure that your pet will be taken care of.”

MuttShack and PetSmart Charities set up ad hoc facilities for the animals at both shelters.

The Red Cross shelter, run by Madison Burtchaell of the Orange County Red Cross was very accommodating about allowing a small emergency pet shelter adjacent to the School.

Barbara A. Fought of PetSmart Charities, an organization that works with animal welfare organizations and provide assistance in disasters, provided crates and emergency supplies.

MuttShack and Red Cross volunteers, Martin St. John, Tom Hamilton, and Steve Meissner helped assemble the crates to secure a safe environment for evacuated pets.

It was a great relief for evacuees who had camped out in the parking lot to finally leave their vehicles and relax at the shelter, setting up their cots to grab some sorely needed rest.

Firefighters and residents reported loss of wildlife and animals. The Esperanza fire burned 34 homes, consumed 40,000 acres and cost five Firefighters their lives before it was contained four days later on October 30. Firefighting operations cost nearly $10 million.

MuttShack Animal Rescue is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization active in disasters and dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and care of lost or discarded dogs, cats and other animals.

Paris Hilton mocks John McCain presidential ad

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

American celebutante and businesswoman Paris Hilton has bashed a recent presidential campaign ad by 2008 U.S. presidential hopeful John McCain in which he compared his rival Barack Obama to celebrities such as Hilton and Britney Spears. In McCain’s TV ad, it was stated that Obama was “the biggest celebrity in the world.”

Hilton recorded and uploaded a video to comedy website Funny or Die, in which she mocked McCain by calling him a “wrinkly white-haired guy.”

“Hey America. I am Paris Hilton, and I am a celebrity too,” she states at the beginning of the video, but not before images of the Star Wars character Yoda and the cast of The Golden Girls are paraded across the screen apparently comparing the characters to McCain.

“Only I am not from the olden days, and I am not promising change like ‘that other guy’. I’m just hot,” remarked Hilton, adding, “I guess I am running for president,” since McCain’s TV ad showed her.

McCain’s advertisement, released early this week, states, “Is the biggest celebrity in the world ready to help your family?” According to the Boston Globe and video displayed on its website, the narrator then points out that “the real Obama promises higher taxes, more government spending. So, fewer jobs.”

Bill Burton, a spokesman for Obama, responded to the ad: “Is the biggest proponent of George Bush’s tired, failed policies ready to bring about change? Another day brings another dishonest attack from John McCain. While Senator McCain knows that Senator Obama has proposed cutting taxes for 95% of American families, what he’s not telling us is that he wants to give $4 billion in tax breaks to the oil companies, continue giving tax breaks to corporations that ship our job overseas, and provide no direct tax relief for more than 100 million middle-class families.”

Hilton appears in good spirits in her video and even thanks McCain for endorsing her. “So thanks for the endorsement white-haired dude. And I want America to know, that I am like totally ready to lead.”

Hostage standoff in North Reading, Massachusetts ends in tragedy

Thursday, December 1, 2005

In what appeared to be a hostage situation ended in tragedy this afternoon in the quiet Massachusetts town of North Reading when the body of a 72-year old man, Roaldas Baran, and his 65-year old wife, Zinaida Girdauskiene, were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide at 14 Country Club Road.

The situation began when a neighbor heard four gunshots and a woman screaming and called 9-1-1. Police arrived at the home, and encountered the 72-year old man standing over, a brief conversation was held with the man who then went back inside the house. Then a fifth shot was fired. The SWAT team of the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council was brought in to clear the house and evacuate the surrounding houses. The Massachusetts State Police was also on hand.

Martha Coakley, the District Attorney for Middlesex County reported on what was found upon the SWAT team entering the house.

“In the bedroom, lying, apparently a victim of several gunshot wounds, was a female. We know her to be approximately 65-years-old. In the kitchen on the floor, also apparently the victim of a suicide, was a male we know now to be approximately 72-years-old who was her husband.”

Emily LaGrassa, Coxley’s spokeperson said the man apparently shot the woman and turned the gun on himself. Two guns were recovered.

North Reading Police had been called to the house once before in August 2004. The North Reading police are currently investigating further.

Oil spewing from crack in seafloor of Gulf of Mexico was fifty feet from Deepwater Horizon well

Monday, July 19, 2010

After an investigation, Wikinews has learned that oil spewing from a rupture in the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico on June 13 was 50 to 60 feet from the Deepwater Horizon leak.

A nearly four and a half minute video posted on YouTube on June 13 was from the Viking Poseidon ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) 1. It shows oil and methane leaking from the seafloor at around 2:48 a.m. on June 13. The ROV monitors the leak for a minute and even gets covered in a plume of oil and sand before it moved on to the next spot. Smaller eruptions were seen as the ROV traveled, making the leak locations vary from 50 to 60 feet from the damaged well.

Until now, there was no way to determine the location of the ROVs in relation to the previously leaking Deepwater Horizon well. Alexander Higgins, an independent computer programmer, developed the ‘Gulf Oil Spill ROV UTM Distance Calculator.’ Using the coordinates for the location of the Deepwater Horizon, and the location of the Viking Poseidon on June 13, Wikinews was able to determine that the first rupture and leak was approximately 50.45 feet from the leaking well or “21.56 feet [n]orth and 45.61 feet [w]est” of the Deepwater leak point.

Higgins told Wikinews how he created the calculator, and says it is “very accurate,” but that the tool would “not give you accurate measurements over a large distance, e.g. from the well head to New Orleans.”

“This tool was created using java script that uses basic Pythagorean theorem ( A 2 + B 2 = C 2 {\displaystyle A^{2}+B^{2}=C^{2}} ) to calculate the distance between two points. The distance is simply ( N 1 ? N 2 ) 2 + ( E 1 ? E 2 ) 2 {\displaystyle {\sqrt {(N_{1}-N_{2})^{2}+(E_{1}-E_{2})^{2}}}} . ROV coordinates match the location within a few feet when looking at the well because obviously the ROV can not be over the exact center because that is where the BOP is,” said Higgins.

BP, who owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon, has denied that any oil or methane gas is leaking from the sea floor. On July 16, Kent Wells, the senior vice president of BP, said on their official Twitter page that “4 ROVs using sonar scanning [are] looking for anomalies in seabed floor. No indications any oil or gas escaping.” Seismic tests were conducted on July 16; Admiral Thad Allen of the United States Coast Guard said that “no anomalies” were found, but also that the tests were “not comprehensive.”

On Sunday, Wikinews contacted BP, who authenticated the video, and asked if any ROVs were sent back to the crack and leak location on June 13 for further investigation. According to their office in London, England, they “sent ROVs to investigate and monitor that and no further signs of oil or gas were found.” They also stated that they “have continued to monitor” and “have also carried out seismic surveys. Nothing found to give concern.” Wikinews also asked if they could confirm the location of the leak and crack, but no response was given.

However, on July 18, the Associated Press reported that there was “seepage” coming from the area at the bottom of the Deepwater well head. For the past two days, ROV cameras showed bubbles coming from the base of well. BP said it would test the bubbles to determine what they are and as of Sunday, COO of BP Doug Suttles says the bubbles are not methane, but further tests are being conducted. “If you can imagine, it is not an easy operation to collect those bubbles so that they can be tested to see what their make-up is.”

Since the June 13 video surfaced, other videos have been posted to YouTube allegedly showing some of the ROVs being tossed around by large amounts of oil seeping through the seafloor. One video showed an alleged eruption spraying oil and debris around the BOA DEEP C 2 ROV before it was tossed from side to side. It then immediately retreated to the surface. Some of the cracks on ocean floors, where oil has leaked from, have occurred naturally. One such oil spill in California in 2005 was the result of a naturally occurring crack in the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Some of those cracks can cause oil to leak through at a rate as high as 5,000 gallons a day, with most of the oil not even reaching the water’s surface. In the Gulf of Mexico, oil leaks through natural cracks at a rate several times less than leaked from the Deepwater well.

“The Deepwater Horizon site releases 3 to 12 times the oil per day compared to that released by natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico. By May 30, the Deepwater Horizon site had released between 468,000 and 741,000 barrels of oil, compared to 60,000 to 150,000 barrels from natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico over the same 39 day period,” said Cutler Cleveland, a Boston University professor at the university’s Department of Geography and Environment.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill started on April 20 after an explosion on the rig. Efforts to put out the fire failed and the rig subsequently sank to the bottom of the Gulf. On April 22, an oil slick appeared on the surface of the Gulf. BP capped the leaking well on July 13 which effectively stopped oil from leaking into the Gulf. The company has been running a pressure integrity test on the 150,000 pound cap for 48 hours. Earlier on July 17, they announced the test would continue for another day. BP hopes for the well’s pressure to rise to or above 7,500 PSI. As of Saturday morning the well’s pressure was just above 6,700 PSI. BP fears anything lower than the expected PSI could mean a leak in the cap or elsewhere, such as oil or methane seeping up from the seafloor.

“We are feeling more comfortable we have integrity. We will keep monitoring and make the decisions as we go forward. The longer the test goes the more confidence we have in it,” said Allen.

British government considering new nuclear power stations

April 24, 2005

Advisers to British Prime Minister Tony Blair are suggesting that constructing new nuclear power stations would be the best way to meet the country’s targets on reducing emissions of gases responsible for global warming.

The government has a near-term target of cutting emissions below 1997 levels by 20%, and a more ambitious target of a 60% cut by 2050.Critics of nuclear power say that it will not be able to help meet the 2010 target due to the length of time needed to plan, construct and commission such power plants. However backers say nuclear power will help meet the 60% cut by 2050 target.

Sir David King, Chief Scientific Advisor to the government, is a supporter of nuclear power believing that it is the best way to tackle global warming.

The chairman of British Nuclear Fuels, a company that operates several British nuclear reactors, said that he expects Tony Blair to make an announcement of new power stations within weeks of the May 5 general election if he is re-elected.

Another primary supporter of nuclear power is the ex-BBC Director General Lord Birt, who has been advising 10 Downing Street on various issues by providing ‘blue-sky’ thinking without payment, as part of the Strategy Unit. He is said to be preparing a report that will say nuclear energy provides an opportunity to reduce dependence on Middle Eastern oil supplies (although very little oil is burnt for electricity production in the UK).

While it is believed that senior Cabinet members would not oppose a plan for new nuclear power stations if Tony Blair proposed it, the Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett and Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt both oppose nuclear power.

New reactors would probably be sited next to existing reactors to limit public opposition.

Nuclear power currently provides 22% of the UK’s electricity needs. The UK has 31 operating reactors at 14 power plants, but by 2015 all but three stations will have been shut down. The last nuclear reactor to open was Sizewell B on the North Sea coast in 1995. The 1,188MW station was a large reason why the UK met its carbon dioxide emissions reduction target in the 1990s. British nuclear power stations have created 2,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste. There are currently no plans for the long-term storage of the waste.

By comparison, just over 3% of Britain’s electricity comes from renewable energy. France met 78% of its electricity needs in 2002 using nuclear power.

Romanians to pay power bills via SMS

Friday, January 21, 2005

Romania’s electricity production and distribution company, plans to introduce a new system which will allow its consumers to pay their power bills via the Short Message Service, or SMS. Currently, electricity bills can be paid directly at banks using cash or credit cards, or via automatic teller machines (ATMs). Additionally, since 2004, customers have been able to pay their bills at Agip gas stations.

In Romania, which reached more than 10 million mobile phone subscribers at the end of 2004, SMS remains a very popular and affordable method of quick communication. Recently, there has been a push to launch SMS/mobile telephony as a method of payment or business, hence establishing an m-commerce network. The move by Electrica for bill-payment via SMS is one of the first such initiatives.