Sep 23

NYC’s transit workers approve strike authorization

Sunday, December 11, 2005

New York City is on track to grind to a halt on December 15 when the Transport Workers Union Local 100 contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority expires. Union members gathered at Jacob Javits today and unanimously approved a strike authorization if the negotaions between the TWU and MTA fail. Among the many disagreements are the MTA’s employee rules and salary increases.

MTA employees have complained about the rule that requires them to call and alert a supervisor prior to taking a bathroom break of no more than ten minutes. Workers have pointed out that supervisors are not always accessible, especially during the overnight shifts. Another rule in dispute is the employee’s uniform: “Sikh workers, whose religion requires they wear a turban, must wear one made of TA-issued fabric with the TA logo front and center.”[1] But the major sticking point has been the pay raises. The union has demanded an 8% increase per year for the next three years, but the MTA has offered 5% over two years. The MTA was running a deficit during the previous contract negotiation in 2002, forcing the TWU to accept what the MTA offered. But now, reportedly US$1 billion in the black and offering free rides for the holidays to its riders, the union is looking to cash in on the MTA’s good fortunes.

The TWU began broadcasting radio advertisements on the news stations 1010 WINS-AM and 880 WCBS-AM to gain public support. Part of it goes “MTA bosses are making buses run faster, while carrying more people, and don’t even give the operators enough time for a bathroom break” and “Security alert levels are still high, but MTA bosses are taking conductors off trains, closing token booths and installing turnstiles that make emergency evacuation very difficult.”Michael Bloomberg had stressed in the negotiations of 2002 that the city would enforce the Taylor Law, which prohibits public employees from striking and fines strikers two days wages each striking day. Echoing his previous position three years ago, Mayor Bloomberg said “They should stay in a room until they come to an agreement.” Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said a strike could cost as much as US$10 million a day in police overtime and other expenses.

The last transit strike was in April 1980, and lasted for eleven days. TWU President Roger Toussaint called the proposed health provisions, pension givebacks, and wage increase “an insult to our members”, and went on to suggest that the odds of a strike were 50/50. Both Toussaint and chief MTA negotiator Gary Dellaverson said they were confident that a strike could be averted, but union members made clear that they will strike if – or as most commuters fear, when – the negotiations fail and the deadline is passed.

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Sep 23

Indian space agency launches five foreign satellites

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Indian space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), launched five foreign satellites from the Sriharikota facility on Monday morning, using the PSLV-C23 launch vehicle.

The primary payload was an earth observation satellite from France called SPOT 7 which weighed 714 kg. Other satellites included on board were the German AISat, 14 kg; Canadian NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) and NLS7.2 (CAN-X5), 15 kg each; and Singaporean VELOX 1, 7 kg.

The launch took place at 9:52 AM on Monday morning, delayed from the original schedule by three minutes to avoid space debris. This was the 26th successful launch of a PSLV. Along with the US, Russia, the European Union, China, and Japan, India is one of the few nations that offer commercial launch services. These services are provided by Antrix, the commercial department of ISRO. ISRO’s next major launch may be this month using a GSLV-III launch vehicle.

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at the launch site. He addressed the scientists after the launch congratulating them, and asked them to build a satellite suitable for use by all the nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). He also emphasized the frugal approach of India to the space industry. Phillipe Ghesquiers of Airbus Space and Defense Systems, the builders of SPOT 7, expressed satisfaction at the launch and stated they may use India’s launch services again in the future.

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Sep 22

NASA sets launch date for Space Shuttle Discovery

Saturday, March 7, 2009

After almost two months of delay, NASA has set March 11 as the launch date for Space Shuttle Discovery. On February 22, NASA had stated that they indefinitely delayed the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, which was originally scheduled for takeoff on February 12. Launch was then further delayed until February 25 before being delayed indefinitely on February 22. NASA cited the need for additional time to evaluate the shuttle’s hydrogen fuel flow control valves.

Liftoff is set for nighttime on Wednesday, March 11, at approximately 9:20 p.m. (EST) from Launch Complex 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The official countdown to launch will commence Sunday, March 8.

“The team came through, worked hard and was efficient. It’s time now to step back and think of everything else we need to watch before launch on the 11th. There’s no better team than this one and I thank them for putting the right analysis together,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA.

NASA wanted to perform additional tests on the valves which control the amount of hydrogen fuel pumped into the external tank when the shuttle is taking off before making a decision to launch. When Space Shuttle Endeavour went into space in November 2008, one of the valves broke. NASA fears that if one breaks off on this mission, then it could damage the outside of the shuttle.

The current scheduled mission, STS-119, is set to fly the Integrated Truss Structure segment (“S” for starboard, the right side of the station, and “6” for its place at the very end of the starboard truss) and install the final set of power-generating solar arrays to the International Space Station. The arrays consist of two 115-foot-long arrays, for a total wing span of 240 feet, including the equipment that connects the two halves and allows them to twist as they track the sun. Altogether, the four sets of arrays can generate 84 to 120 kilowatts of electricity – enough to provide power for more than 40 average homes.

Commander Lee Archambault will lead Discovery’s crew of seven, along with Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.

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Sep 22

NASA celebrates 30th anniversary of first shuttle launch; announces new homes for retired shuttles

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NASA celebrated the launch of the first space shuttle Tuesday at an event at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. On April 12, 1981, Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on STS-1, the first space shuttle mission.

NASA held a ceremony commemorating the date outside the hangar, known as Orbiter Processing Facility-1, for Space Shuttle Atlantis, which is being prepped for its final mission which will be STS-135, which will be the last Space Shuttle mission.

At the ceremony, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the locations that would be given the three remaining Space Shuttle orbiters following the end of the Space Shuttle program. The prototype orbiter, Space Shuttle Enterprise would be relocated from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City.

Space Shuttle Discovery will take the place of Enterprise at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Discovery has already been retired following the completion of STS-133 last month, its 39th mission. Discovery is undergoing decommissioning and currently being prepped for display by removing toxic materials from the orbiter.

Space Shuttle Endeavour, which will launch on STS-134 at the end of the month on April 29, will be sent to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California following its retirement. Finally, Atlantis will go on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex following the orbiter’s last flight which launches June 28.

Columbia was lost tragically back on February 1, 2003 when it disintegrated during re-entry killing all seven astronauts aboard. Space Shuttle Challenger was lost when it exploded 73 seconds after liftoff back on January 28, 1986 killing all six aboard.

“We want to thank all of the locations that expressed an interest in one of these national treasures,” said Bolden to the gathered crowd which contained many KSC employees. “This was a very difficult decision, but one that was made with the American public in mind. In the end, these choices provide the greatest number of people with the best opportunity to share in the history and accomplishments of NASA’s remarkable Space Shuttle Program. These facilities we’ve chosen have a noteworthy legacy of preserving space artifacts and providing outstanding access to U.S. and international visitors.”

Over twenty locations looked to obtain one of the orbiters because of potential tourism booms from them.

This was a very difficult decision, but one that was made with the American public in mind. In the end, these choices provide the greatest number of people with the best opportunity to share in the history and accomplishments of NASA’s remarkable Space Shuttle Program.

Not all were pleased with the final choice of locations. U.S. Senator John Cornyn, Republican from Texas, issued a statement regarding the rejection of Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas as a location. “Like many Texans, I am disappointed with NASA’s decision to slight the Johnson Space Center as a permanent home for one of the Space Shuttle Orbiters. Houston has played a critical role throughout the life of the space shuttle, but it is clear political favors trumped common sense and fairness in the selection of the final locations for the orbiter fleet.”

Cornyn’s statement added, “There is no question Houston should have been selected as a final home for one of the orbiters—even Administrator Bolden stated as much. Today’s announcement is an affront to the thousands of dedicated men and women at Johnson Space Center, the greater Houston community and the State of Texas, and I’m deeply disappointed with the Administration’s misguided decision.” However, the JSC will recieve pilot and commander seats from the flight deck.

The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington was also proposed as another location for a shuttle, going so far as to build a new building to house an orbiter. In a statement, Governor of Washington Chris Gregoire said, “The Museum of Flight put a tremendous amount of effort into landing a retired shuttle in the Pacific Northwest. As the home of modern day air travel and the 747, which has gracefully transported shuttles for the last 30 years, Seattle would have been a perfect fit. While the Museum of Flight was in the top running, I’m disappointed that NASA did not choose them.

“However, the full fuselage trainer, that every astronaut including [former Museum of Flight CEO] Bonnie Dunbar has been trained on, will soon call the Museum of Flight home. The largest of the trainers, this addition will allow visitors to actually climb aboard the trainer and experience the hands-on training that astronauts get. Visitors will not be allowed in the other shuttles and this trainer is a true win for our dynamic museum. It will help inspire young people to the adventure of space and to the excitement of a career in science, technology, engineering and math.”

Today’s announcement is an affront to the thousands of dedicated men and women at Johnson Space Center, the greater Houston community and the State of Texas, and I’m deeply disappointed with the Administration’s misguided decision.

Other items include various shuttle simulators which will be given to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum of McMinnville, Oregon, and Texas A&M’s Aerospace Engineering Department. The nose cap assembly and crew compartment trainer for the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and orbital maneuvering system engines for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the National Air and Space Museum, and the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.

NASA is also offering shuttle heat shield tiles to schools and universities that want to share technology and a piece of space history with their students.

The 30th anniversary of the first shuttle mission coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight when Yuri Gagarin lifted off aboard Vostok 1 into space.

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Sep 21

Queen’s University agree to cut 103 members of staff

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland has agreed to cut 103 members of staff and to close its German department. The ruling body agreed with the cuts claiming that it would save money and also increase the school’s chances of entering the world’s top 100 universities.

Originally announced as a staffing reduction of 150 positions, the number was lowered. The lecturers’ union has commented, saying it is the “wrong decision”; they intend to “fight the job losses” despite the fact that the number is lower than expected.

According to the BBC, the university wishes to ensure that most of the academic staff takes part in “high quality” research, so those who just teach students are most at risk of losing their jobs.

Both the university management, and the union are to appear before the Employment and Learning Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly at a later date. They were summoned after reports of job and subject cuts.

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Sep 17

Sony refreshes VAIO brand for business and entertainment

Thursday, July 31, 2008

From the middle of July, Sony Corporation refreshed their senior laptop brand VAIO from “Video Audio Integrated Operation” to “Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer”. According to Sony Taiwan Limited, this refreshment is an attempt to relocate the laptop consuming market for business and entertainment factors.

In the “VAIO Experience 2008” press conference in Europe, Sony promoted their new product series for different populations including BZ for business, FW for home entertainment, Z for ultra-slim, and SR for complex applications.

Different with past series, Sony added “Clear Bright” screening technology for high-definition display, and “full-carbon production” features. BD-burning and Intel Centrino 2 processing technologies will be featured in all the new models. For security issue, Sony also embedded fingerprint system to prevent personal data to be stolen. Continued from TZ series, innovative designs including “Green Power Button”, “Situational Switch” are also added in newly-launched series.

“Due to consuming market differences, Sony only promoted BZ series in Europe and America but not included Asia. Although the TICA Show in Taipei will be different, functionality will be the greatest issue when a consumers choose a notebook [computer] before buying.” addressed by executives from Sony Taiwan Limited, during the “VAIO Experience 2008” press conference in Taiwan.

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Sep 17

Buddhist relic collection tours North America and world

Saturday, November 25, 2006

With the hopes of funding the creation of a statue in northern India that would end up dwarfing the Statue of Liberty, an unprecedented collection of Buddhist artifacts continue crisscrossing American, Europe, and Asia in three different, but related collections.

The Maitreya Project, the brainchild of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, seeks to build a monument and development dedicated to Buddhism at Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh in northern India. The centerpiece of this massive development will be a 152m (500 ft) bronze statue of the Maitreya Buddha, the Buddha of the future.

Buddhist belief says that there have been Buddhas in the distant past and there will be Buddhas in the distant future. The historical Buddha, the one who was born in India about 2500 years ago, is known as Shakyamuni Buddha. Buddhist belief says that sometime in the distant future the teachings that Shakyamuni Buddha brought to Earth will fade away. At that point the Maitreya Buddha will be born and gain enlightenment in order to refresh and renew Buddhist teachings.

Along with the statue, the development is also planned to include temples, exhibition halls, parks, a museum, library, and a theater as well as a hospital and educational center.

In order to move forward with this project the Maitreya Project has created collections of artifacts that are touring the world. Once the statue is built these artifacts will be housed in it for viewing.

Buddhist artifacts are usually associated with the body of the person involved. While they can be such things as bone and teeth, usually they are pearl-like objects that are found and collected after the enlightened person is creamated. These pearl-like objects are called ringsel.

There are three collections of artifacts currently touring American, Europe, and East Asia. They include relics from the immediate past Buddha, called Kasyapa, the historical Buddha, five of his original disciples, several Tibetan and Zen masters, and the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Wikinews reporter Richard Kinne spent three days with the relics when the North American tour came to Ithaca, NY a few weeks ago. The relics travel with two caretakers, one of whom is always in close proximity to the relics. Setup for the relics display can take about four hours depending on the venue. Taking it down takes a bit under two hours.

Each morning of the tour the relics are taken out of their padded case and placed in clear plexiglass display cases. The relics are displayed individually in small containers called stupas. Some containers appear very full, while others contian just one very small object. Each evening the process is reversed and the padded case stays with the relic caretakers.

Between the morning and the evening people from all walks of life come to see the relics – believers, people who are curious, academics, Buddhist monks and nuns, both older folks and small children. While the Heart Relic Tour just does deals with displaying the relics, the sponsoring venue can add to the display in various ways such as lectures, meditation classes and demonstrations, or various other rituals.

The tour in North America reaches Jacksonville, FL during the first weekend of December. From there it will go to Miami between the 9th to the 11th, and then to Phoenix, AZ between the 15th to the 17th. In Asia the tour spends time in Malaysia in the first part of December.

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Sep 14

UEFA Euro 2016, day 8: Italy-Sweden, Czech Republic-Croatia, Spain-Turkey

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Yesterday in UEFA Euro 2016, Italy defeated Sweden 1–0 and assured their advancement to the knock-out stage. Croatia vs Czech Republic resulted in a 2–2 draw and Spain defeated Turkey 3–0 as Álvaro Morata scored twice. Spectators from the Croatian end threw flares before the final whistle.

Italy faced Sweden in the first match of the day. Sweden led in terms of ball possession but, in the 88th minute, Éder scored for Italy. Italian captain Gianluigi Buffon was yellow carded in injury time as he delayed a goal-kick. Italy numerically assured their advancement to the knock-out stage by winning this game.

Croatia were 1–0 up at half time as Ivan Periši? scored in the 37th minute. FC Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakiti? scored a second goal for Croatia chipping the ball over Petr ?ech just before the one hour mark. Later, Milan Škoda scored from a header in the 76th minute for the Czechs. The match seemed to being inching towards a 2–1 victory for Croatia but Czech Republic won a penalty and Tomáš Necid equalised late in the match, having replaced Jaroslav Plašil.

In the 86th minute, spectators threw flares on the ground and delayed the game by five minutes. A hearing is scheduled to take place today.

Later, Davor Šuker, president of the Croatian Football Federation, said, “We will seek the help of the French police [to investigate] […] Something is rotten in our country, and this […] deserves zero tolerance.” ((hr))Croatian language: ?Tražit ?emo od francuske policije pomo? našem sudstvu, da se vidi tko baca baklje […] Nešto je trulo kod nas, a ovo ostalo zaslužuje nultu toleranciju.

Turkish captain Arda Turan faced his FC Barcelona teammate Andrés Iniesta as Turkey took on Spain. Spanish captain Sergio Ramos was booked in the opening moments of the game. Just after the half-hour mark, Nolito assisted Álvaro Morata, who scored a header. Three minutes later, Nolito scored the second goal of the match. Three minutes after half time, Morata scored from Jordi Alba’s pass.

Spain won the game 3–0 and qualified for the Last 16 knockout phase.

David de Gea maintained a clean sheet for his first five international appearances and set a new world record breaking the previous record of Gordon Banks.

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Sep 10

William Salice, creator of Kinder Surprise eggs, dies at 83

Sunday, January 1, 2017

On Thursday, William Salice, credited with creating Kinder Surprise eggs, died at age 83 in Pavia, Italy because of a stroke, according to his foundation “Color Your Life Campus”. Salice had worked with the businessman Michele Ferrero in the 1960s, the creator of the Nutella cream and owner of Ferrero Rocher. Ferrero died in 2015.

In 1974, Kinder Surprise was launched with plastic toys, which are sold within the eggs to surprise children. Due to this, the sale of Kinder eggs is prohibited in the US. A 1938 US law prohibits the sale of food containing objects in its interior. It is also prohibited in Chile, due to an obesity-reduction law brought in last year. Last year a three-year-old girl died in France, swallowing the plastic toy.

In 2007, after his retirement, Salice founded Color Your Life Campus from his retirement bonus of €400,000 in Italy. It aims to help young people between the ages of thirteen and eighteen discover and develop their own talents. Salice’s career spanned 46 years.

Since 2013, the Kinder Surprise Company has been taking care of continuing the manufacture and processing of chocolate eggs. According to the company, the chocolate egg has 32% milk and 15% cocoa in its composition.

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