May 27
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Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.

May 26
Toyota recalls 1.7m cars after new concerns
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Toyota recalls 1.7m cars after new concerns

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Car manufacturer Toyota is to recall almost 1.7 million cars in two simultaneous recalls, that include the Toyota Avensis and Lexus IS 250, after concerns over fuel systems, which, if combined, amount to the biggest Toyota recall for six years.

Japan’s transport ministry stated it was possible for slight cracks to appear in fuel pipes in Avensis models, which may widen if the cars continue to be used. In the United Kingdom, Toyota GB are offering free repairs, which are expected to take around four and a half hours each. The Lexus IS 250 is involved in a separate recall, with around 280 thousand models outside of Japan being recalled over a faulty fuel pressure sensor, which can possibly come loose, causing a fuel leak.

The Managing Director of Toyota GB stated “We are committed to putting the customer first and have a total focus on the quality of all our products. We will liaise with our customers to carry out the repair procedures as efficiently as possible, with minimal disruption”.

Toyota has recalled over 16 million cars globally since late 2009.

May 24
Cars big winner as 34th Annual Annie Awards handed out
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Cars big winner as 34th Annual Annie Awards handed out

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cars drove home the big prize last night, from the 34th Annual Annie Awards. The animation industry’s highest honor, ASIFA-Hollywood’s Annies recognise contributions to animation, writing, directing, storyboarding, voice acting, composing, and much more.

As mentioned, Pixar took home the big prize last night, after facing stiff competition from four other Happy Feet, Monster House, Open Season, and Over the Hedge.

But the biggest winner of the night didn’t get a “Best Animated Feature” nod at all. Flushed Away won five feature animation categories including Animated Effects (Scott Cegielski), Character Animation (Gabe Hordos), Production Design (Pierre-Olivier Vincent), Voice Acting (Sir Ian McKellan as Toad), Writing (Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Chris Lloyd, Joe Keenan, and Will Davies).

Over The Hedge won awards for Directing (Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick), Storyboarding (Gary Graham), and Character Design (Nicolas Marlet).

Of little surprise, Randy Newman won an Annie for Cars in the “Music in an Animated Feature Production” category. Newman has won many Oscars for his movie music, and has a nomination this year for the song “Our Town”. Newman didn’t attend the Annies, instead picking up a Grammy for “Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media”.

DisneyToon Studios’ Bambi II won “Best Home Entertainment Production”, while “Best Animated Short Subject” went to Blue Sky Studios’ No Time For Nuts, which is based on Ice Age.

“Best Animated Video Game” went to Flushed Away The Game, while a United Airlines ad named “Dragon” won a “Best Animated Television Commercial” Annie for DUCK Studios.

Contents

  • 1 Foster an Annie fav on TV
  • 2 Wikinews was there
  • 3 Related news
  • 4 Sources
May 23
UN sponsored ceasefire in Israel-Lebanon begins
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UN sponsored ceasefire in Israel-Lebanon begins

Monday, August 14, 2006

At 5:00 a.m. GMT, a UN sponsored ceasefire between the IDF and Hezbollah took effect. Outside of isolated small arms fire, both sides seem to be abiding by it. Although fighting took place until just minutes before the ceasefire, no air strikes or rocket attacks have been reported since.

Israel has said that it will maintain ground forces in southern Lebanon until they are relieved by the peace-keeping force. Israel also said it will maintain the blockade so that Hezbollah cannot rearm. Hezbollah on the other hand insisted on its right to fight Israeli soldiers on Lebanese soil.

The international peace-keeping force may take 10 days to assemble, says the UN. It is expected to be headed up by French troops, complemented primarily by troops from Italy, which has volunteered up to 3,000 soldiers. Portugal, Finland and Spain will also consider deployments. Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Indonesia have been mentioned by the UN as sources of non-EU forces.

Within an hour of the ceasefire cars started heading south in Lebanon. Within hours thousands of Lebanese sought to return to their homes crowding roads, even as bulldozers were still trying to fill bomb craters. The Lebanese army was working hard to coordinate traffic and make-shift road repair.

“I’m so excited to see my home. I’d heard news it was completely destroyed, but even if there’s one room intact, I will stay there with my children,” said Sanaa Ayyad, who had with her a baby and two young boys.

The conflict has been going on for 39 days and has cost over 1,200 people their lives. In Lebanon, around 1,100 people have been killed, mostly civilians. 154 Israelis, including 114 soldiers, have been killed in the conflict.

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May 23
Open Rights Group holds first conference in London
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Open Rights Group holds first conference in London

Sunday, July 25, 2010

London — The Open Rights Group, a pressure group pursuing reform of intellectual property law in the United Kingdom, held its first “ORGCon” yesterday at City University London. Approximately 100 delegates took part in six hours of panel discussions and workshops on a wide range of topics in intellectual property, discussing such subjects as “How To Talk To Your MP” and “ACTA: A Shady Business”, in what ORG billed as a “crash course in digital rights” designed to inspire campaigning on intellectual property issues.

Cory Doctorow, a fiction author and digital rights activist, led the keynote panel discussion “Thriving in the Real Digital Economy”, which opened the conference. Doctorow called for a “reframing” of the digital rights slogan “information wants to be free”. “The most important thing” about digital rights, he noted, “has nothing to do with art. We are refitting the information network with lots of control.” Digital rights management (DRM) technologies, Doctorow warns, build in limitations on how consumers exchange information and “abuse the market”. John Buckman of Magnatune followed up Doctorow’s comments, noting that DRM is “unsustainable” but that the public needed to “pressure companies into” open-source solutions.

A keynote speech by James Boyle compared the current age to the age just before application of the theories of Adam Smith and other early capitalist economists began breaking down the entrenched monopolies of mercantilism. Boyle called on the audience to come up with a “jaw droppingly simple” idea for a reformed copyright system; he gave his speech in front of a projection of the twitterfall as audience members commented on his words.

Boyle, like most of the conference, took a pro-reform but anti-piracy position, saying “It is a tragedy that an entire generation has lost the notion that breaking the law is wrong”. While several members of the Pirate Party UK, wearing matching t-shirts, attended the conference and held a fringe meeting during the last session, none spoke in the keynote sessions either as panelists or in the discussions.

Among the many workshops which comprised the last three hours of the day, Open Rights Group held a session on student groups and committed itself to establishing Open Rights Group Youth societies at universities across the United Kingdom. Young activists, such as Wikipedian Jdforrester, also dominated the “Your Shout” session in which any and all delegates could give three-minute speeches on any intellectual property subject which interested them.

The organisation hopes to host a second ORGCon in 2011.

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May 21
California court sentences parents who kept their children in captivity
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California court sentences parents who kept their children in captivity

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Yesterday in California’s Riverside County criminal court, Judge Bernard Schwartz sentenced David and Louise Turpin to life in prison for torturing all but the youngest of their thirteen children.

As revealed at trial, the Turpins had kept their children indoors for years and rarely allowed them outside the family home, located 70 miles (112 km) south of Los Angeles. The children were banned from washing more often than once a year and could not use the toilet. They were severely malnourished, to the point that some of those who are now adults were initially mistaken for children. The oldest of the Turpin’s offspring, age 29, weighed 82 pounds (37 kg). Another brother, 22, was still chained to a bed when found. None of the twelve had ever received any sort of dental care.

The judge presiding over the case, Bernard Schwartz, said, “You have severed the ability to interact and raise your children that you have created and brought into this world.” Schwartz went on to say he was not giving them the longest possible sentence because they had “accepted responsibility at an early stage in the proceeding” by pleading guilty to fourteen felony charges each and “spared your children having to relive the humiliation and the harm they endured in that house of horrors.”

Specifically, both parents faced twelve counts of torture and false imprisonment, nine counts of child abuse, and seven counts of cruelty to a dependent adult. David Turpin, alone, was also charged with making false statements for the purpose of obtaining a home schooling license.

The father said “I love my children and I believe my children love me.”

The mother said “I really look forward to the day I can see them, hug them and tell them I’m sorry.”

One of the children said, “Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that had happened such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten.” However, this person also said that they still love their parents and had partially forgiven them.

One of them even went as far to say, “Although it may not have been the best way of raising us, I am glad that they did because it made me the person I am today.”

The two parents were arrested in January of last year after one of their daughters, aged 17, escaped and phoned 911 (the emergency telephone number in the United States). She did not know what address her house was or know the date and said some of her siblings were chained into their beds.

The Turpins are scheduled to be eligible for parole in 25 years.

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May 21
Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control
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Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A robotic system at Stanford Medical Center was used to perform a laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery successfully with a theoretically similar rate of complications to that seen in standard operations. However, as there were only 10 people in the experimental group (and another 10 in the control group), this is not a statistically significant sample.

If this surgical procedure is as successful in large-scale studies, it may lead the way for the use of robotic surgery in even more delicate procedures, such as heart surgery. Note that this is not a fully automated system, as a human doctor controls the operation via remote control. Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is a treatment for obesity.

There were concerns that doctors, in the future, might only be trained in the remote control procedure. Ronald G. Latimer, M.D., of Santa Barbara, CA, warned “The fact that surgeons may have to open the patient or might actually need to revert to standard laparoscopic techniques demands that this basic training be a requirement before a robot is purchased. Robots do malfunction, so a backup system is imperative. We should not be seduced to buy this instrument to train surgeons if they are not able to do the primary operations themselves.”

There are precedents for just such a problem occurring. A previous “new technology”, the electrocardiogram (ECG), has lead to a lack of basic education on the older technology, the stethoscope. As a result, many heart conditions now go undiagnosed, especially in children and others who rarely undergo an ECG procedure.

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May 19
Penske Auto selected to buy General Motors’ Saturn unit
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Penske Auto selected to buy General Motors’ Saturn unit

Friday, June 5, 2009

General Motors Corporation (GM), an American automaker which has filed for bankruptcy protection, announced on Friday that the Penske Automotive Group (PAG) was selected to purchase Saturn Corporation. The transaction should be completed in October.

The purchase includes rights to the Saturn brand, its five current models and its dealership network. Two models would be discontinued, the Sky and Astra. GM would continue building the Aura sedan, the SUV’s, Vue and Outlook for at least two more years.

Saturn has 350 dealers across the United States. The dealers employ more than 13,000 jobs and sell only the Saturn autos. Canadian Saturn dealers are not included in the deal.

According to Penske future Saturn vehicles will be fuel economy focused. An expert indicated that this would move Saturn back to its roots of a entry level car company. PAG is in talks with several international automakers to replace GM after 2011. Automotive News reports that Renault Samsung Motors of Korea is the most likely candidate.

Penske wants Jill Lajdziak, Saturn’s general manager, and Tom LaSorda, former Chrysler President to head up the company when it is independent of GM.

Serra Automotive in Grand Blanc Township, Genesee County, Michigan, is in talks to take a partial ownership in a new Saturn lead by Penske.

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May 16
Missing Afghan jet found; 104 believed dead
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Missing Afghan jet found; 104 believed dead

Saturday, February 5, 2005

On Saturday NATO and Afghan troops located the wreckage of the Kam Air Boeing 737 missing since Thursday.

Afghan interior ministry spokesman Latfullah Mashal announced the discovery. “The debris of the plane was found around 25 kilometers east of Kabul in a mountainous area called Band-e Ghazi.”

The jet had been enroute to Kabul from Herat when it was diverted due to heavy snow. The crew then sought clearance to land across the border in Peshawar, Pakistan before it lost contact with air control. 104 persons are reported to have been aboard, including 8 crew members; there are no signs of survivors reported.

The weather conditions have hampered search and rescue efforts. NATO-operated helicopters located the crash site. Afghan police and units from Afghanistan’s foreign peacekeeping force are investigating the scene of the crash, according to Mr. Mashal.

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May 15
Riots in Île-de-France : 70 arrested after 200 cars burned
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Riots in Île-de-France : 70 arrested after 200 cars burned

Friday, July 15, 2005

About 200 cars were burned by young people on the night of July 13 in Île-de-France, the metropolitan area of Paris. As the police cars arrived, youths began to pelt the vehicles with rocks, firecrackers and bottles. Rioters broke store windows at Argenteuil. Police used flash-balls and smoke grenades. The riots ended with 70 men being arrested. A police officer was wounded by a rocket and was taken to hospital. Shop windows were broken at Argenteuil. It is not the first time vehicles have been attacked on 13-14 July in France.

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