The Wii, Nintendo’s next generation console, launches in North America

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nintendo has released its newest video game console in North America. Known as the Wii, the system and games have an MSRP of US$249.99 and US$49.99 respectively. The North American release is to be followed by the December 2nd launch in Japan and the December 8th launch in Europe.

Launched officially at midnight, more than a thousand people gathered in New York’s Time Square to be among the first to buy one of the Wii. In contrast to the crowds that have challenged crowd control officials over the last two days in connection with the launch of Sony’s Playstation 3, the Wii crowds have been much calmer. Many observers attribute this to the fact that Nintendo had more than ten times as many Wii consoles available on launching day than Sony did for their PS3 that had been hounded by part shortages in manufacturing right up to the day of launch.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said that several tough choices had been made in the design of the Wii. The company decided to develop a new way of playing games with revolutionary controllers instead of following the PS3 and the Xbox down the road of stunning graphic and multimedia options. This produced a console with a much talked-about sensor/controller design and the lowest price point of the three major consoles. While not having a DVD player or high-definition TV capabilities, the Wii retails for about $250 while its competitors the Xbox 360 and PS3 retail for about $400 and $600 respectively.

While the Wii will launch with several games available, one of its advertised advantages is that the new console is largely compatible with older games made for the GameCube, giving the new console an instant and extensive launching library. A GameCube controller will be needed to play GameCube games with the Wii. Several hardware items that GameCube games may be expecting, such as the modem or broadband adapter or the GameBoy player are not supported on the Wii.

Across the country in Los Angeles about 500 people were waiting for the doors to open at Universal City Walk’s Game Stop store. Fearing that the Wii introduction might be as contentious as the PS3 debut just a few days ago, the store handed out numbered wristbands to the throng. No problems were reported.

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North American roads suffer from dramatic thaws and freezes

Monday, January 8, 2007

Major city roads across North America are suffering from an early surge in potholes due to the dramatic freezes and thaws this month, some several feet across and inches deep. The potholes are caused by water seeping into cracks during warm weather, and pushing concrete apart when it freezes. Traffic erodes chunks of concrete from the cracks to form holes that continuously grow larger.

While car repair shops are experiencing a boom in business, city budgets are being hit with the costs of patching potholes. Thierry Larivée, an infrastructure spokesman in Montréal, Canada, says about 20 pothole patrols are working throughout the city. They are expected to continue work until at least Friday.

Craig Bryson, spokesman for the Road Commission for Oakland County in Michigan, United States, reports problems on unpaved roads as well. “The warmer weather is also playing havoc with gravel roads; the top layer of dirt thaws, but remains frozen about 10 inches below the surface. Surface water has no place to go. This creates a rutted, soupy road, especially in low-lying areas.”

Environment Canada meteorologist René Héroux attributes the unseasonable thaw to warm winds from the southwest. Environment Canada predicts a new cold front on Thursday.

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3000 homeless after fire breaks out in Chad refugee camp

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A fire broke out in a refugee camp in eastern Chad Friday, leaving 3,000 people homeless and injuring 10, according to the United Nations (UN) refugee agency United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Refugees have been living in the camp as a result of the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The fire started in the Goz Amer camp triggered by a cooking fire that had gone unwatched. The fire moved quickly through the camp due to high winds. Many of the refugees lost all of their belongings and food rations in the blaze. After receiving tents from the UNHCR in 2004, many of the refugees built traditional dwellings out of sticks and mud, and these shelters burned rapidly in the fire.

In a UNHCR press release, Emmanuel Uwurukundo, acting UNHCR head in Koukou-Angarana said: “Everybody around, refugees and all our partners alike, rushed to the spot and tried to extinguish the fire with whatever they had: clothes, extinguishers and water. The teamwork was outstanding.”

The refugees have already suffered so much tragedy and now face yet another trauma.

In Geneva the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres commented on the situation: “The refugees have already suffered so much tragedy and now face yet another trauma. I am deeply relieved that there was no loss of life in this devastating fire. We will do everything we can to help and to get shelter and food supplies to them as quickly as possible.”

Families affected by the fire were housed at three area schools, and the UNHCR announced on Friday that it planned to deliver aid supplies including sleeping mats, blankets and kitchen sets. The World Food Programme was also asked by the UNHCR for an extra monthly food ration to be delivered to the families whose homes were destroyed in the blaze.

The Goz Amer camp houses about 20,500 refugees, and is located approximately 70 kilometers from the Sudanese border. Goz Amer is one of 12 UNHCR-run camps along the Chad-Sudan which all told contain over 240,000 refugees from Darfur.

Chad and Sudan signed a peace agreement on March 13 in an attempt to end a five-year conflict, and the leaders of both countries agreed not to back rebel groups that are active near their borders.

Approximately 2.2 million people from the Darfur region have left their homes since the beginning of the violence in 2003. The UN puts the number of deaths due to the Darfur conflict at over 200,000, and the Sudanese government has said that only 9,000 have died.

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Polish President Lech Kaczy?ski dies as his plane crashes in Russia

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Polish President Lech Kaczy?ski, travelling with 95 other people, died when his plane crashed in Russia. Officials say the crash, which occurred when the plane was approaching a Russian airport on Saturday, was due to dense fog, and that there are no survivors.

The Polish Central Bank governor, Slawomir Skrzypek, and other members of the Polish government were amongst those onboard. The crash was near Smolensk airport in western Russia. Kaczy?ski’s wife was killed along with him when the Tupolev Tu-154 went down; the trip to Russia was to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, when thousands of Polish prisoners of war and civilians were killed by the Soviets.

According to preliminary reports, it got caught up in the tops of trees, fell to the ground and broke up into pieces. There are no survivors in that crash.

Sergei Antufyev, the governor of the Smolensk area, said on Russian television that no one survived the crash; the claim was backed by Polish news agencies as well. “As it was preparing for landing, the Polish president’s aircraft did not make it to the landing strip,” he commented.

“According to preliminary reports, it got caught up in the tops of trees, fell to the ground and broke up into pieces. There are no survivors in that crash. We are clarifying how many people there were in the [Polish] delegation. According to preliminary reports, 85 members of the delegation and the crew,” he added.

The exact passenger number was not known at first, with conflicting figures given by the Russian police, who said there were 132 people on board, and Polish officials. However, a full flight manifest received from the Presidential Office has been published by several news portals, giving 96 as the number of killed in the crash, including eight members of the crew. The manifest is also available on the Office’s official web page.

Television footage showed the burning plane with its charred parts scattered in the forest where it crashed. The plane crashed approximately two kilometres (1.3 miles) from Smolensk airport.

“The plane caught fire after the crash. Teams began attempting to pull out passengers from the badly damaged airplane,” commented a spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry from Warsaw. The chief of Poland’s military force, Franciszek Gagor and Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer were among the victims.

A Polish television worker, Slawomir Wisniewski, said he was a witness to the crash, having seen it from hotel close by. “I saw through the fog, the aeroplane flying very low with the left wing pointing to the ground. I heard something being broken and then that thudding sound. Two flashes of fire next to each other,” he said, as quoted by the BBC.

Polish Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski noted that the country “could not have conceived a more horrible, poignant, tragic occurrence than our president going to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the murder of 20,000 Polish officers at Katyn himself dying.”

With the Polish president deceased, the speaker of the lower house of the parliament known as the Sejm, currently Bronislaw Komorowski, takes over as head of state, Komorowski’s assistant Jerzy Smolinski told the Reuters news agency.

Kaczy?ski is survived by his daughter Marta and by his identical twin brother, Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski who was Prime Minister of Poland from 2006 to 2007 and is currently chairman of the Law and Justice Party he co-founded with Lech. Both brothers were child actors who starred in the 1962 film, The Two Who Stole the Moon.

The Tupolev Tu-154, which was operated by the Polish Air Force, made its debut flight in 1990. 2,725 people have died in the 66 crashes involving this type of aircraft.

According to the flight manifest, those on board included:

  • Lech Kaczy?ski, the President of Poland
  • Maria Kaczy?ska, the first lady of Poland
  • Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last President of the Polish government-in-exile
  • Jerzy Szmajdzi?ski, the Deputy Speaker of the Sejm
  • W?adys?aw Stasiak, Chief of Office of the President of the Republic of Poland
  • Aleksander Szczyg?o, head of the National Security Bureau
  • Pawe? Wypych, Secretary of State in the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland
  • Mariusz Handzlik, Undersecretary of State in the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland
  • Andrzej Kremer, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • General Franciszek G?gor, Chief of the Polish Army General Staff
  • S?awomir Skrzypek, President of the National Bank of Poland.
  • Andrzej Przewo?nik, Secretary-General of Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites and several members of the Sejm.

Several other Polish government figures were in the plane as well. None of the passengers survived the crash. Poland has declared a week of national mourning after the incident.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was immediately appointed by Dmitry Medvedev, the president, as the head of the commission to investigate the crash. The latter also sent Sergei Shoigu, the Russian minister of emergency situations, to the site of the crash.

It is definitely the most tragic event in the post-war history of Poland.

Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk remarked that “[w]e stand in the face of an incredible tragedy, one of the biggest tragic events of our nation’s history. It is definitely the most tragic event in the post-war history of Poland.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev commented that “All Russians are sharing in your grief and mourning. I promise that all the circumstances of this tragedy will be investigated most thoroughly, in closest cooperation with the Polish side. I have given exhaustive instructions to the law-enforcement agencies.”

He added, “On behalf of the Russian people, I am expressing my deepest, most sincere condolences to the people of Poland, sympathy and support for the victims’ families and friends.” According to Medvedev, Monday the 12th will be a day of national mourning in Russia.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, meanwhile, noted, “I think the whole world will be saddened and in sorrow as a result of the tragic death in a plane crash of President Kaczynski and his wife Maria and the party that were with them.”

“We know the difficulties that Poland has gone through, the sacrifices that he himself made as part of the Solidarity movement. We know the contribution he made to the independence and the freedom of Poland,” he continued.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said of Kaczy?ski, “[He] devoted his life to his country. A tireless defender of the ideas in which he believed, he always battled with conviction for the values that founded his entry into politics: democracy, liberty and the fight against totalitarianism.”

I remember many meetings with him on European and international levels, in the end we always found a solution.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated, “This is a political and human tragedy for Poland, our neighbouring country. Lech Kaczy?ski was a real lobbyist for his country, he loved his country and he was an argumentative European.”

Merkel also told of the memories she had of Kaczy?ski, saying: “I remember many meetings with him on European and international levels, in the end we always found a solution. I know that all of his life was dedicated to the fight for Poland’s freedom and Europe’s freedom. My husband and I fondly remember [his] invitation to his country house near Gdansk where we spent many, many hours talking about Polish and European history.”

US President Barack Obama made statement saying, “Today, there are heavy hearts across America. The United States cherishes its deep and abiding bonds with the people of Poland. It is a testament to the strength of the Polish people that those who were lost were travelling to commemorate a devastating massacre of World War II as the leaders of a strong, vibrant, and free Poland.”

Obama added, “That strength will ensure that Poland emerges from the depths of this unthinkable tragedy, and that the legacy of the leaders who died today will be a light that continues to guide Poland – and the world – in the direction of human progress.”

This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “Kaczynski served his country and people with distinction and conviction, and was deservedly respected internationally. That he died en route to an event marking a new level of reconciliation between Poland and Russia is particularly poignant.”

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also expressed his condolences. “The tragic death of president Kaczincki of Poland is a great loss to the people of the Polish Republic and of course to the government of the Polish Republic,” he said. “This has been an extraordinary tragedy involving the loss of nearly 100 people. On behalf of the Australian Government we extend our condolences to the Polish people, to the the Polish government and our thoughts and our prayers are with them all.”

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USPTO partially confirms validity of Amazon “1-click patent”

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued an office action, which confirmed the patentability of claims 6 to 10 of the Amazon 1-Click patent, US 5,960,411. The patent examiner, however, rejected claims 1 to 5 and 11 to 15. Amazon now has up to six months to amend the rejected claims to overcome the examiner’s rejection, provide arguments to demonstrate that the examiner is in error and/or provide evidence to demonstrate the patentability of their claims. During this period, the entire patent is still considered valid under US patent law.

The USPTO is reconsidering the patentability of the claims due to a request for reexamination filed by New Zealander Peter Calveley. Mr. Calveley used internet archives to show that defunct company Digi Cash used a similar technique prior to Amazon. Despite costing a substantial sum of cash and requiring donations to prepare and file the request for reexamination, Calveley said he did it as a game and hopes that his success inspires others to play the same game.

“One Click” shopping is an ecommerce technique, which allows a customer to purchase products via the Internet without repeatedly entering personal information such as name and address. At the time it was introduced it eased the frustration of on-line shopping.

Amazon filed the patent application for 1-click shopping in early 1997 and was granted the patent in September 1999. 23 days later Amazon sued rival Barnes & Noble for alleged infringement by its “Express Lane” ordering which was introduced in 1998. In December 1999 Amazon won an interim injunction against Barnes & Noble but the USA Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit lifted this injunction in February 2001. The parties then settled their dispute for undisclosed terms. Amazon has since successfully licensed the technique to other e-sellers such as Apple.

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FDA issues proposed rules requiring calorie content on menus

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued proposed calorie labeling rules requiring most retail food vendors to display the calorie counts in items on their menus and menu boards. The proposed rules, issued Friday and expected to be finalized in 2012, would apply to most restaurants, snack bars, vending machines, coffee shops, drive-through restaurants, and convenience and grocery stores.

The US Congress required the rules in the health-care reform law passed in 2010. The rules proposed by the FDA must undergo a public comment period before they are finalized and take effect, said Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Director for Foods at the FDA.

The proposed regulations pertain to businesses devoting more than 50 percent of their floor space to the sale of food or that consider themselves restaurants, specifically food-selling chains with at least 20 stores nationally. Included are candy stores, bakeries, and ice-cream parlors.

The FDA’s proposed guidelines specify that chains post the calorie counts of foods and drinks on menus and menu boards or next to the food item, such as at a salad bar. The menu is to prominently exhibit the calorie content of each item in a way customers can see easily, giving them the same information packaged foods prepared at home currently provide. The information must be displayed in “clear and conspicuous” print and colors.

Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier.

Many cities and states have passed laws requiring calorie labeling on menus, beginning with New York City in 2008. California implemented a similar law in January, although many counties are waiting for the release of the federal guidelines before they begin enforcement. Some fast-food chains there, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks, are displaying calorie counts on menus in some of their stores.

The rules are intended to curb the national obesity epidemic since, according to FDA estimates, one third of the calories people consume yearly come from food eaten out. In a statement issued yesterday, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services said, “Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier.”

Excluded from the rules are businesses whose primary product is not food sales but that sell it, such as bowling alleys, airports and airplanes, amusement parks, hotels and movie theaters. Alcohol is also excluded.

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Sunflower oil saves at-risk newborns from infection

Saturday, March 5, 2005Simply massaging low birth weight babies with sunflower seed oil can protect them from potentially fatal infections.

Infections and complications from preterm birth cause more than half of all neonatal deaths, and very low birth weight babies are particularly vulnerable.

Preterm babies have immature skin that lacks a protective film called vernix that has antimicrobial properties.

In some countries, such as India, newborns are routinely massaged with mustard oil.

But mustard oil, says Gary Darmstadt of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, can delay recovery of the skin barrier and have a toxic effect on skin.

Seeking an alternative low-cost product, Darmstadt and colleagues experimented with sunflower oil and an ointment called Aquaphor that comprises petrolatum, mineral oil, mineral wax and lanolin.

The researchers tested the treatments on 497 newborns (72 hours old or less) and preterm babies (less than 33 weeks gestation) between 1998 and 2003 in Bangladesh.

They applied the treatments to the entire body besides the scalp and face three times daily for the first 14 days and then twice daily until discharge.

Babies treated with sunflower oil were found 41% less likely to develop infections than controls.

“Evidence is emerging that the skin is much more important as a barrier to infection than previously recognized, particularly in preterm infants whose skin is underdeveloped,” says Darmstadt. “The good news is that treatment is available to strengthen the function of the skin as a barrier in these vulnerable newborns.”

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Helpful Tips For Hiring A Car Accident Attorney

byAlma Abell

Car accidents are never easy to deal with, no matter who is at fault. They can be especially problematic when you are seriously injured because of the recklessness of another driver. Often, people wonder how they will get help for their injuries and damages. Though you may be promised help by the insurance companies, it is not a good idea to rely on them alone. Instead, you need to hire a Car Accident Attorney to help you. To make sure you get the legal help you need for your case, it is important you carefully choose a lawyer, so you can be assured you will have the right representation for your case.

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To hire an attorney to help you in your case, you need to make sure you do plenty of research. After an accident, you are going to immediately be bombarded with letters from attorneys offering to take on your case. It is important to remember, most well-established attorneys do not need to use unsolicited forms of communication to reach potential clients. Be careful if you do choose to work with one of these attorneys and make sure you check up on their records.

You will need to consult with at least three attorneys before you make a final decision on who will represent you in your case. Make sure you ask pertinent questions, to find out more about the attorney’s experience in working with cases such as yours. It is a good idea to ask for references and contact each of them. This can allow you to learn more about the services the attorney offers, so you can get a good idea of what to expect. As a part of the consultation, make sure you find out the fees that will be charged, should you win compensation in your case.

By following these tips, you can rest assured you will be able to hire the right Car Accident Attorney. If you are in need of legal representation, contact the Law Offices Of Burton J. Hass. They help car accident victims, so they can be fairly compensated for their injuries and damages. Call today for your consultation appointment.

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Serbia wins Eurovision Song Contest 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Serbia’s entry, Molitva (A Prayer), performed by 23-year-old Marija Šerifovi?, has won the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest in Helsinki, Finland, with a score of 268 points.

Second place was claimed by the Ukrainian drag queen Verka Serduchka, and third place went to the Russian entry of Serebro. Turkey took the fourth place with Shake It Up Shekerim. Greece with Sarbel‘s Yassou Maria came 7th as the first Western-European country, while Ireland took only 5 points, finishing below France and the United Kingdom which shared the second-last place.

16 out of 24 finalists came from Eastern Europe, which caused many Western European countries to doubt the possibility that a country from Western Europe could ever win the final. Although France, the U.K., Spain and Germany are the big sponsors of the festival and are automatically selected for the final round, they all ended up at the bottom of the ranking. The fact that affiliated countries vote for each other (neighbourhood countries such as Scandinavian, Balkan or ex-Soviet countries) is also an annually returning matter discussed in the media.

A record 42 countries entered the 52nd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, but 18 didn’t make it through the selection rounds. Serbia competed as an independent country for the first time, separate from Montenegro or Bosnia-Herzegovina, and immediately won the competition. This year’s edition was the first to host new styles like jazz side by side with traditional ballads and rock. The winning song was also the first non-English song to win since the transsexual artist Dana International won for Israel in 1998.

The competition took place in Finland because last year the Finnish hard rock song ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah‘ by Lordi won the competition. The song kicked off the final in Helsinki. Hosts were Jaana Pelkonen and Mikko Leppilampi

After the victory, many Serbs took to the streets with flags to celebrate the victory. Aleksandar Tijanic, director of RTS state television, was glad that Serbia made the news in a positive way: “I’m so glad it wasn’t some war song. Hosting this event in Belgrade next year will mean we have finally crossed into normality.” The country is still sometimes associated with the Yugoslav wars which led to the disintegration of Former Yugoslavia.

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