Several large explosions reported in Xinjiang, China


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Authorities say that “violent terrorists” attempted to blow up sites in the Xinjiang province of the country. Police say at least 11 people were killed, all except one were reported to be the attackers responsible for the blasts. Police say three more were arrested and another three are “still at large.”

Monsters and Critics.com quote Deutsche Presse-Agentur as saying witnesses on scene reported a plane flying over the town of Kuqa which was followed by 20 large “flashes”, but “no fire or smoke” which was then followed by “sporadic” gunfire. According to Xinhua the explosions occurred at about 3:20 local time (19:20 GMT) and 4:00 (20:00 GMT).

Despite the claims by police, Xinhua stated that authorities sealed off the town where the attacks have occurred and exchanged gunfire with the terrorists killing at least one while another, strapped with explosives, detonated himself. One other terrorist was injured and one was arrested. Military personnel were also reported to have been dispatched to the area. One early report stated that the government offices in Kuqa are unaware of any bombings.

The explosions, which witnesses report as home-made, were directed toward shopping centers, government buildings, hotels and military offices. At least two police cars were also destroyed by the blasts. Xinhua reports that the bombs were “bent pipes, gas canisters and liquid gas tanks.” One attacker drove a three-wheeled bike packed with explosives into the public safety building in Kuqa, which killed one security official and injured two civilians. Hours later, while police were hunting for more suspects, several terrorists began to throw bombs at them. Police killed two, while three others who were strapped with explosives detonated themselves.

Police and government officials refuse to confirm or deny the reports by Xinhua.

The Xinjiang region has a strong independence movement, largely in the form of 8 million Muslim Uyghurs. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement wishes to create an independent Islamic state out of part of what is currently Xinjiang. China has stated that the Uyghur separatists are the biggest potential terrorist threat to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

No one has claimed to be responsible for the blasts.

Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students/OH-WY


See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list and for an alphabetically arranged listing of schools.

Due to the damage by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding, a number of colleges and universities in the New Orleans metropolitan area will not be able to hold classes for the fall 2005 semester. It is estimated that 75,000 to 100,000 students have been displaced. [1]. In response, institutions across the United States and Canada are offering late registration for displaced students so that their academic progress is not unduly delayed. Some are offering free or reduced admission to displaced students. At some universities, especially state universities, this offer is limited to residents of the area.

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Explosion at University of Missouri-Columbia leaves four injured


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An explosion at the University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou) on Monday afternoon left four people injured, authorities say.

The explosion occurred in a science laboratory in Schweitzer Hall around 2:20 p.m. CDT (1920 UTC) Monday. The source of the explosion was first thought to have been a 2,000-pound (907.2-kilogramme) hydrogen tank, but fire officials later said that this was not the case. The cause of the incident is currently under investigation by the Columbia Fire Department.

The Columbia Fire Department arrived at Schweitzer Hall after a report of a structure fire, but found that most of the fire had already been extinguished by the building’s fire sprinkler system. The remaining flames were put out by firefighters, one of whom said it looked as if “a bomb went off in the lab”.

Of the four hurt in the blast, one was a research scientist, one a graduate student, and the other two postdoctoral fellows. Three were treated for mild injuries and released from University Hospital, while the fourth was in good condition after being taken to the hospital’s burn unit for life-threatening injuries. A school spokesperson said that the university was not allowed to release the names of the victims.

Authorities initially believed that a large container of hydrogen gas had exploded, but investigators later said that the tank was intact. Fire officials also retracted an earlier statement that said the incident had been a result of human error. In a Monday night news release, the fire department said that lab workers had turned on the hydrogen but did not recognize warning signs indicating a dangerously high level of hydrogen gas in the lab, so they left the gas supply running. The report said the explosion occurred after the gas reached a source of ignition. However, the department said Tuesday that the investigation into the explosion is still ongoing and that they were not certain human error was the cause.

The investigation should determine the cost of repairs for the building, as well as whether the school should implement new procedures to avoid similar incidents in the future. The lab where the explosion took place will be totally rebuilt.

Schweitzer Hall houses Mizzou’s biochemistry department, which is part of the medical and agricultural programs. The building’s single classroom is located in the basement and was not in use at the time. The explosion happened on a third-story lab assigned to Judy Wall, a university professor, who was in her office across from the lab during the incident and referred inquiries to the news bureau. Other labs in the building were not disturbed, and Schweitzer Hall was established to be structurally sound, although nearly twenty windows had been shattered from the blast. The building reopened Tuesday for researchers to continue working.

Several groups seek to purchase Saturn auto brand


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Penske Automotive Group, Inc., an Ohio-based investment group and Telesto Ventures have indicated separately that they are interested in purchasing the Saturn auto brand from General Motors (GM).

According to The Wall Street Journal, Nissan-Renault is interested in purchasing Saturn. Bloomberg, however, indicated that Nissan-Renault may be a partner of Penske’s potential bid. If Penske acquired the brand, they would distribute Saturn vehicles and outsource the assembly.

GM revealed that the Saturn brand along with Saab and Hummer were up for sale when unveiling their restructuring plans to Congress for governmental loans. While the Pontiac brand was originally to be a niche brand, GM had changed their plans recently and decided to eliminate the brand.

Telesto Ventures is an investment group that includes private equity firm Black Oak Partners LLC of Oklahoma City and several Saturn dealerships. Initially, Telesto will purchase Saturn branded cars from GM then act as a general retailer for foreign brands. Telesto is in talks with several foreign manufacturers.

The Ohio group includes many former senior auto company managers plus private financial backers, chemists and engineers who live in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Florida. This group plans to initially purchase cars from GM then purchase existing but closed plants due to automaker restructuring. Additionally, one of the partners indicated a willingness to accept some “legacy” cost in relation to the United Auto Workers. The Ohio group is also pursuing possible loans or other support from national and state governments.

GM is reviewing several offers for Saturn. GM has contracted with S.J. Girsky & Co. to advise them on the sale.

London Planetarium closes to make way for celebrity-themed show


Sunday, April 30, 2006

The London Planetarium, famous for its distinctive green dome and for being next to Madame Tussauds, will close this week to make way for a new celebrity-themed show opening in July. The Planetarium used to be an attraction in its own right, but in recent years has become simply a feature tacked onto the end of the waxworks tour, the original 45 minute show cut down to just over 10 minutes. The planetarium will be renamed ‘The Auditorium’ and will feature a show that “gets to the heart of celebrity”, being produced in collaboration with animation house Aardman Productions.

Famous astronomer Sir Patrick Moore has called the decision “most regrettable”, and many have commented that the change from space to celebrity is an unfortunate sign of our times.

To say ‘farewell’ to the planetarium, Tussauds have allowed free entry in its penultimate week, from 24th – 30th April. Visitors could enter through the group admissions entrance to see the show, running every twenty minutes. Unlike the queues for Madame Tussauds, which typically run right up the street, few people waited to see the planetarium show, even on the Saturday. The show, titled Journey to Infinity, was projected onto the inside of the dome using Digistar 3 digital projectors. It told the story of space, starting from Earth and zooming out to reveal the other planets in the Solar System, the Milky Way, the other galaxies and the rest of the universe. It ended with an optimistic message suggesting that humans would continue to explore space, going further than ever before.

The London Planetarium opened in 1958 on the site of an old cinema that was destroyed in the second world war. Evening laser performances called ‘Laserium’ were held between 1977 and 1990. A £4.5 million redevelopment saw it relaunch in 1995 with a new ‘Digistar II‘ monochromatic 3D projection system. This was upgraded to the full-colour ‘Digistar 3‘ system in 2004 which is currently in use.

The planetarium at the also famous Royal Observatory in Greenwich has also been closed since September 2004, however this is due to re-open in 2007 having received a £15 million redevelopment programme. It will be three times the size of the old planetarium, and has received backing from Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees, and the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor John Brown.

1000 homes evacuated in Plymouth, England, after bomb find


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The discovery of an old World War II bomb in a construction site has caused at least 1000 residents in Plymouth located in South-West England, to be evacuated.

“Evacuations are being carried out of properties within 100m [328ft] of the scene. Properties within the 100m-300m [328-984ft] zone are being advised to open windows and draw curtains,” said a spokesman for the police department in Plymouth.

Workers on the site discovered the bomb at about 10:30 a.m. local time in Plymouth, England on Brentor Road.

Reports say that the bomb is sticking out of the ground by about 6 inches, and weighed an estimated 113 kilograms, or 250 pounds, but could have weighed as much as 500 pounds.

“The item was protruding about six inches from the ground and was described as being up to 10-inches in diameter,” said a spokesman for the Devon and Cornwall Police.

The Army bomb disposal team from Wales is currently trying to figure out what to do with the bomb and it could take several hours before authorities can dispose of it. Reports say that the bomb will be taken to the ocean to be detonated.

“The precise nature of this operation and any potential route are yet to be confirmed,” added the spokesman.

Wikinews Shorts: June 4, 2007


A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, June 4, 2007.

MediaCorp Radio in Singapore has been fined 15,000 Singaporean dollars (US$9,800) over an on-air stunt in March in which female guests on a radio show were asked to remove their brassieres, and pose for video that was to be posted on the station’s website and on YouTube.

The Media Development Authority said the radio show’s hosts made improper and sexually suggestive remarks about “how fast the bras were removed, as well as the color, design and cup size of the bras, and the size of the girls’ breasts.”

Sources


Researchers at University of Malaya say they have developed an erectile dysfunction cure from walnut extract.

“It takes about an hour for the effects to set in and it will last for about four hours,” said Professor Dr. Kim Kah Hwi of the Faculty of Medicine Physiology.

So far, 40 volunteers have tried the Viagra alternative, called “N-Hanz”, with positive results, Kim said. To make one pill, it takes about 3.3 kilograms (about 7 pounds) of walnuts.

Sources


An 8-year-old Indonesian boy died after being attacked on Saturday by a Komodo Dragon at Komodo National Park on Komodo.

The boy was attacked while making a toilet stop in a bush, a park official said. “The dragon bit his waist, tossed him and dragged him. His right leg was badly scratched,” park spokesman Heru Rudiharto said. The boy then bled to death.

Attacks by Dragons on humans are rare, though the reptiles, which can grow to a length of 3 meters (9 feet), regularly kill such prey as pigs and small deer. Komodo Dragons are an endangered and protected species, and about 2,000 of them live in the wild, mainly on Komodo and nearby Rinca island.

Sources


Biologist Nick Bos tells Wikinews about ‘self-medicating’ ants


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Nick Bos, of the University of Helsinki, studies “the amazing adaptations social insects have evolved in order to fight the extreme parasite pressure they experience”. In a recently-accepted Evolution paper Bos and colleagues describe ants appearing to self-medicate.

I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented

The team used Formica fusca, an ant species that can form thousand-strong colonies. This common black ant eats other insects, and also aphid honeydew. It often nests in tree stumps or under rocks and foraging workers can sometimes be spotted climbing trees.

Some ants were infected with Beauveria bassiana, a fungus. Infected ants chose food laced with toxic hydrogen peroxide, whereas healthy ants avoided it. Hydrogen peroxide reduced infected ant fatalities by 15%, and the ants varied their intake depending upon how high the peroxide concentration was.

In the wild, Formica fusca can encounter similar chemicals in aphids and dead ants. The Independent reported self-medicating ants a first among insects.

Bos obtained his doctorate from the University of Copenhagen. He began postdoctoral research at Helsinki in 2012. He also runs the AntyScience blog. The blog aims to help address “a gap between scientists and ‘the general public’.” The name is a pun referencing ants, its primary topic, science, and “non-scientific” jargon-free communication. He now discusses his work with Wikinews.

((Wikinews)) What first attracted you to researching ants?

Nick Bos Me and a studymate were keeping a lot of animals during our studies, from beetles, to butterflies and mantids, to ants. We had the ants in an observation nest, and I could just look at them for hours, watching them go about. This was in my third year of Biology study I think. After a while I needed to start thinking about an internship for my M.Sc. studies, and decided to write a couple of professors. I ended up going to the Centre for Social Evolution at the University of Copenhagen where I did a project on learning in Ants under supervision of Prof. Patrizia d’Ettorre. I liked it so much there I ended up doing a PhD and I’ve been working on social insects ever since.

((Wikinews)) What methods and equipment were used for this investigation?

NB This is a fun one. I try to work on a very low budget, and like to build most of the experimental setups myself (we actually have equipment in the lab nicknamed the ‘Nickinator’, ‘i-Nick’ and the ‘Nicktendo64’). There’s not that much money in fundamental science at the moment, so I try to cut the costs wherever possible. We collected wild colonies of Formica fusca by searching through old tree-trunks in old logging sites in southern Finland. We then housed the ants in nests I made using Y-tong [aerated concrete]. It’s very soft stone that you can easily carve. We carved out little squares for the ants to live in (covered with old CD covers to prevent them escaping!). We then drilled a tunnel to a pot (the foraging arena), where the ants got the choice between the food with medicine and the food without.
We infected the ants by preparing a solution of the fungus Beauveria bassiana. Afterwards, each ant was dipped in the solution for a couple of seconds, dried on a cloth and put in the nest. After exposing the ants to the fungus, we took pictures of each foraging arena three times per day, and counted how many ants were present on each food-source.
This gave us the data that ants choose more medicine after they have been infected.
The result that healthy ants die sooner when ingesting ROS [Reactive Oxygen Species, the group of chemicals that includes hydrogen peroxide] but infected ants die less was obtained in another way (as you have to ‘force feed’ the ROS, as healthy ants, when given the choice, ignore that food-source.)
For this we basically put colonies on a diet of either food with medicine or without for a while. And afterwards either infected them or not. Then for about two weeks we count every day how many ants died. This gives us the data to do a so-called survival analysis.
We measured the ROS-concentration in the bodies of ants after they ingested the food with the medicine using a spectrophotometer. By adding certain chemicals, the ROS can be measured using the emission of light of a certain wave-length.
The detrimental effect of ROS on spores was easy to measure. We mixed different concentrations of ROS with the spores, plated them out on petridishes with an agar-solution where fungus can grow on. A day after, we counted how many spores were still alive.

((Wikinews)) How reliable do you consider your results to be?

NB The results we got are very reliable. We had a lot of colonies containing a lot of ants, and wherever possible we conducted the experiment blind. This means the experimenter doesn’t know which ants belong to which treatment, so it’s impossible to influence the results with ‘observer bias’. However, of course this is proof in just one species. It is hard to extrapolate to other ants, as different species lead very different lives.
At the moment it seems that sick ants mostly take care of the problem themselves

((Wikinews)) Where did the ants and fungus you used come from? How common are they in the wild?

NB For ants, see above about the collection.
This species of fungus does appear in Finland, but we chose to use a different strain from Denmark (with thanks to Prof. J. Eilenberg and the laboratory technician Louise Lee Munch Larsen from the University of Copenhagen). Animals can adapt to local strains (‘local adaptation’), and just to make sure we thought it would be good to use a strain of fungus that the ants definitely did not evolve specific resistances against. This means that the reaction of the ants (to self-medicate) is very likely to be a general response, and not just against their local fungal enemies.

((Wikinews)) Are there any ethical considerations around exposing ants to toxins and parasites?

NB Legally, no. Insects do not have any ‘rights’ as such regarding ethics. That said, we do take measures to not make them ‘suffer unnecessarily’. For example, dissections are done when the ants are anesthetized (either by CO2 or Ice), and when ants need to be killed, we do it in alcohol, which kills the ants in a matter of seconds. So while the ants do not have ‘rights’ as such, we still try to handle them with as much respect as possible (even though the experiment involves infecting them with a deadly fungus).
But even though the 12,000 ants in our study sounds like a lot (and it is), this is negligible in the ‘grand scheme of things’. It has been calculated that in the Netherlands alone, nearly a trillion insects die against just the licence-plates of cars every six months. I don’t own a car, so that means I’m excused right? 😉

((Wikinews)) This is the first evidence for self-medicating insects. How widespread do you think this phenomenon could be in reality?

NB It’s not actually the first evidence for self-medication in insects. Moths and fruit flies definitely do it, and there’s evidence in honey bees and bumble-bees as well. So it seems to be quite wide-spread in the insect world. I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented. Insects (and animals in general) seem to be quite good at taking care of themselves.

((Wikinews)) How might ants locate healing substances in the wild?

NB Very good question. This is something that’s important to know. If they would only do it in the lab, the behaviour wouldn’t be very interesting. We have some guesses where they might get it from, but at the moment we don’t know yet. That said, I plan to investigate this question (among others) further [in] the next couple of years.

((Wikinews)) For your PhD you researched ants’ scent-based communications. Could healthy ants perhaps tell other ants are infected and encourage this behaviour?

NB There’s not much known about this. There’s conflicting evidence about whether sick ants actually smell different from healthy ones or not. At the moment it seems that sick ants mostly take care of the problem themselves. Sick ants stop most interaction with nestmates and especially brood, and leave the nest to die in isolation. This is probably for reducing chance of infecting nestmates, but of course it also reduces the work load of their nest-mates, as their corpse doesn’t have to be dragged out etc.
So as an answer to the question, I would find it unlikely that such a behaviour would evolve, but it’s not known yet.

((Wikinews)) Ants generally avoided the peroxide if they were healthy, but in some circumstances might they try to build resistance against infection in advance?

NB Who knows? Also not known yet unfortunately. That said, there is a very interesting study about resin collection in ants. Wood ants collect tree-resin, which has anti-microbial properties. They collect this even if not infected, and when you infect them, they don’t collect more of the resin than normal. So basically it seems like they collect it in order to keep diseases out of the nest, so they stop the disease before it can actually infect them.

((Wikinews)) Are there plans to follow this research up? Might you research other species? Other substances?

NB I first want to find out where they get it from in nature. There might be many sources of medicine (recent evidence suggests that tobacco plays a similar role for bumble bees). Dalial Freitak, who is also on this paper is currently running tests with Ph.D. student Siiri Fuchs (who is also on the paper) with other substances to see if any have the same effect as H2O2 [hydrogen peroxide].
Once the behaviour has been well described in this species of ant, I might do a comparison with other species. For example, once we find the source of the medicine in nature… would species without access to this source also have evolved the same behaviour in the lab? And if so… where would they get it from?
Also… can ants medicate their friends? 🙂

((Wikinews)) What other research are you working on right now?

NB Phew…lots! 🙂
I still have some questions left unanswered from my Ph.D. work related to how ants recognize who is a friend and who isn’t. I also started collaborating with Prof. Michael Poulsen from the University of Copenhagen on immunity in fungus-growing termites, as well as their chemical recognition abilities. Furthermore we’re working on social parasitism in wood-ants (ants have lots of animals exploiting the nest for shelter and resources, which all somehow have to get in to the fortress without getting killed).

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Surgeons reattach boy’s three severed limbs


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan Magazine sold for €300,000 to Commercial Media Group


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Irish architecture magazine, Plan, has been sold for €300,000 to the Commercial Media Group. Commercial Media Group is the publisher of both Construction Industry Magazine, and Off-Site Construction Magazine.

Plan, which was founded 35 years ago, is published on a monthly basis and has a circulation of 3,500. Its readers generally work in the building industry and many are members of The Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, The Institute of Designers in Ireland, and The Chartered Institute of Builders.