Oct 18
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Wikinews interviews painter Pricasso on his art and freedom of expression
This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Wikinews interviewed Australian painter Pricasso on his unique artwork created using his penis, and how his art relates to freedom of expression and issues of censorship. He is to be featured at the upcoming adult entertainment event Sexpo Australia in Melbourne this November 5 to November 8.

Oct 18
World’s defense chiefs meet in Singapore
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World’s defense chiefs meet in Singapore

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The sixth Asia Security Conference, better known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, came to an end on Sunday in Singapore, highlighted by a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and a senior Chinese defense official, Lt. Gen. Zhang Qisheng.

Named for its venue, the five-star Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, the annual meeting of top defense officials is organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank.

The big issue at the Shangri-La gathering focused on China and its military buildup. China has announced it will boost military spending by 17.8 percent in 2007 to 350.921 billion yuan (about US$44.94 billion), the biggest increase in more than ten years. But U.S. defense officials have said they believe actual spending is up to three times higher, and they have called on China to be more transparent.

“There’s no question that the Chinese are building significant capacity,” Gates said in Honolulu before he flew to Singapore. “Our concern is over their intent.”

China’s delegation was led by Zhang, the People’s Liberation Army deputy chief of the general staff. In his address on Saturday, Zhang defended China’s reported defense-spending figures.

“In China, defense budgeting must follow a set of highly strict legal procedures, and the published Chinese defense budget is true and authentic,” he said, attributing the increase to inflation and logistical and welfare support of its troops. “Given the multiple security threats, geo-political environment,the size of the territory, and the per-capita expense, the Chinese defense expenditure is small by all judgments,” Zhang added.

Zhang said there are plans in the works to open an emergency hotline with the U.S., and that a deal to do so would be finalized in September.

At the end of the conference, Gates termed U.S.-China relations thusly: “In terms of our bilateral relationship, I wouldn’t describe it as a breakthrough but as a next step in a process of military-to-military conversations which we will continue in the future.”

For other countries in Asia, it’s China’s powerful economy that causes more concern, said Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an opening speech on Friday.

“Most Asian countries assess the challenge from China to be more economic than military,” Lee said. He added that China’s military build up is mainly a response to Taiwan, and he warned that if Taiwan seeks to further establish its independence, it could lead to “unintended and dangerous escalation of tensions between China and the U.S.”

India, too, is flexing its military muscle, with Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony giving a talk on Saturday, “China and India: Building International Stability.”

“India is ready to play its role in the shaping of this new approach to collective security,” Antony said. “Only a pluralistic security order working through a network of cooperative structures can have the legitimacy as well as the wherewithal to deal with the security challenges of the 21st century.”

Other delegations included Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Concern about Iran’s nuclear program came up in comments by Gates on Saturday, saying stronger penalties are needed against Iran “not next year or the year after, but right now.” Gates did not rule out military action to stop Iran’s nuclear research, even if it wasn’t the most attractive option. “Probably everybody in this room wants there to be a diplomatic solution to this problem,” he said. “Having to take care of this problem militarily is in no one’s interest.”

On a tour of the Asia-Pacific region, Gates also worked to assure his counterparts in other countries that the United States’ involvement in Iraq would not undermine its role in Asia. “While we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terror, we have no intention of neglecting Asia,” Gates said on Friday in Honolulu.

In particular, Gates said the U.S. is keen to develop better relations with Central Asian states, and he called on other countries in the region to reach out and help Afghanistan and its neighbors, such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

“Integrating these newly independent states into the fold of the greater Asian family is in the interest of every country represented in this room. Of course, the degree that Central Asian states and Afghanistan choose to integrate into greater Asia is a decision for each of those sovereign countries. We will not assume to make decisions for them, but it is important that the welcome mat be out for them. The failure to do so could ultimately have devastating results,” Gates said an address on Saturday at the Singapore meeting.

His remarks come as the U.S. is facing pressure in Kyrgyzstan over its Manas Air Base, which supports U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. The base has taken on strategic importance to the U.S. after it left Uzbekistan in 2005 after the U.S. criticized that country’s human rights record. Gates visited the air base on Sunday.

Closer to home for the Singaporeans, there was talk about piracy in the Malacca Strait, and the need to develop better communication and cooperation between the security forces of the concerned countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

With as much as 40 percent of the world’s trade passing through the Malacca Strait, the U.S. is concerned, said U.S. Navy Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. “We have discussed enhancing maritime security throughout the region. It is a matter of significance and importance to us,” Keating told the conference. “We are not satisfied with the current state but we are pleased with the progress we’ve made,” he said, noting that their security cooperation has improved and there have been no recent major incidences of piracy in the Strait.

The issue of Myanmar and its military government came up during Prime Minister Lee’s talk on Friday, with Lee saying the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, “ought not to be hostage with the problems with Myanmar.”

ASEAN has come under pressure for its admission of Myanmar, which is ruled by a junta that has refused to cede to a democratically elected government. But ASEAN has a policy of non-engagement in internal conflicts of its members. “We will leave Myanmar to work itself out,” Lee said.

Oct 18
Top Considerations When Choosing Slip And Fall Lawyers Suffolk County Ny

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byAlma Abell

Slip and fall lawyers Suffolk County NY play a significant role in helping clients get compensation for accidents caused by other people’s negligence. They help in guiding their clients on how to sue people responsible for the accidental slip and falls. Due to the loss and suffering that comes with slip and fall injuries, it is imperative to choose the right attorney in order to maximize chances of winning the case. There are several considerations to make when choosing a slip and fall attorney. Regardless of the nature of your case, it is advisable to consider these factors in your quest for quality legal representation.

The lawyer must have your best interest at heart. There are many slip and fall lawyers whose interest is your money. Some lawyers are out to enrich themselves and do not care whether you win or not, as long as you pay them their dues. Full understanding of the lawyer’s intentions and his record will guide you in making the right choice.

After you are injured while in line of duty, business place or while in another person’s home, the first step is to do some research on the slip and fall lawyers available. A well-respected attorney shall guide you on the case and give you a genuine expectation of your compensation.

Avoid the type of lawyers that advertise their services on funny places like buses and street posters. Another group of lawyers who should not be trusted are the ambulance chasers who take advantage of the patients and other citizens’ unfortunate situations. Most of these lawyers are out to get more money by imposing exorbitant fees on unsuspecting victims.

Getting a good slip and fall lawyer within Suffolk County in New York can be easy if you contact the Suffolk Bar Association.Suppose you lack enough money to pay a lawyer, you can approach the free legal aid clinics that can either work on your case pro bono or free if at all they think your case merits.

Whether the accident happened on private property or not, remember the owner may be liable for the injuries. Finding reliable Slip and fall lawyers should not worry you any more since Law Office of Matthew Glassman Suffolk County NY is at your service to ensure you get the best legal representation.

Oct 10
Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.
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Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005File:Turing1.jpg

More than 50 programmers, scientists, students, hobbyists and fans of the A.L.I.C.E. chat robot gathered in Guildford, U.K. on Friday to celebrate the tenth birthday of the award winning A.I. On hand was the founder the Loebner Prize, an annual Turing Test, designed to pick out the world’s most human computer according to an experiment laid out by the famous British mathematician Alan Turing more then 50 years ago. Along with A.L.I.C.E.’s chief programmer Dr. Richard S. Wallace, two other Loebner prize winners, Robby Garner and this year’s winner, Rollo Carpenter, also gave presentations, as did other finalists.

The University of Surrey venue was chosen, according to Dr. Wallace, not only because it was outside the U.S. (A.L.I.C.E.’s birthday fell on the Thanksgiving Day weekend holiday there, so he expected few people would attend a conference in America), but also because of its recently erected statue of Alan Turing, who posed the famous A. I. experiment which inspired much of the work on bots like A.L.I.C.E. University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre organizers Lynn and David Hamill were pleased to host the event because it encourages multi-disciplinary interaction, and because of the Centre’s interest in interaction between humans and computers.File:ALICE Birthday Cake.jpg

Dr. Wallace gave a keynote address outlining the history of A.L.I.C.E. and AIML. Many people commented on the fact the he seemed to have moved around a lot in the last ten years, having lived in New York, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Maine, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, while working on the Alicebot project. The A.L.I.C.E. and AIML software is popular among chat robot enthusiats primarily because of its distribution under the GNU free software license. One of Dr. Wallace’s PowerPoint slides asked the question, “How do you make money from free software?” His answer: memberships, subscriptions, books, directories, syndicated ads, consulting, teaching, and something called the Superbot.

Rollo Carpenter gave a fascinating presentation on his learning bot Jabberwacky, reading from several sample conversations wherein the bot seemed amazingly humanlike. Unlike the free A.L.I.C.E. software, Carpenter uses a proprietary learning approach so that the bot actually mimics the personality of each individual chatter. The more people who chat with Jabberwacky, the better it becomes at this kind of mimicry.

In another interesting presentation, Dr. Hamill related present-day research on chat robots to earlier work on dialog analysis in telephone conversations. Phone calls have many similarities to the one-on-one chats that bots encounter on the web and in IM. Dr. Hamill also related our social expectations of bots to social class structure and how servants were expected to behave in Victorian England. He cited the famous Microsoft paperclip as the most egregius example of a bot that violated all the rules of a good servant’s behavior.

Bots have advanced a long way since philanthropist Hugh Loebner launched his controversial contest 15 years ago. His Turing Test contest, which offers an award of $100,000 for the first program to pass an “audio-visual” version of the game, also awards a bronze medal and $2000 every year for the “most human computer” according to a panel of judges. Huma Shah of the University of Westminster presented examples of bots used by large corporations to help sell furniture, provide the latest information about automotive products, and help customers open bank accounts. Several companies in the U.S. and Europe offer customized bot personalities for corporate web sites.

Even though Turing’s Test remains controversial, this group of enthusiastic developers seems determined to carry on the tradition and try to develop more and more human like chat bots.Hugh Loebner is dedicated to carry on his contest for the rest of his life, in spite of his critics. He hopes that a large enough constituency of winners will exist to keep the competition going well beyond his own lifetime. Dr. Wallace says, “Nobody has gotten rich from chat robots yet, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. There is such a thing as ‘bot fever’. For some people who meet a bot for the first time, it can pass the Turing Test for them, and they get very excited.”

Oct 4
Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Progessive Conservative candidate Tyler Currie, Trinity-Spadina
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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Progessive Conservative candidate Tyler Currie, Trinity-Spadina

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tyler Currie is running as an Progressive Conservative candidate in the Ontario provincial election, in the riding of Trinity-Spadina. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

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Sep 21
News briefs:July 23, 2009
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News briefs:July 23, 2009

Oh hi mark

Contents

  • 1 About
  • 2 News Brief Transcript for July 23, 2009
    • 2.1 Intro
    • 2.2 British schoolboy found guilty of racial harrassment of schoolgirl
    • 2.3 65-year-old woman arrested over the death of two Mexican wrestlers
    • 2.4 Canberra’s Sophie Lavers crowned Miss World Australia
    • 2.5 Taco Bell mascot Gidget dies from stroke at 15
    • 2.6 Ivory Coast fined US$47,000 by FIFA over March stampede
    • 2.7 Rugby Union: Queensland’s Ballymore Cup quarter finals
    • 2.8 Outro

[edit]

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Sep 8
Fur fans flock to Toronto’s Furnal Equinox 2019
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Fur fans flock to Toronto’s Furnal Equinox 2019

Monday, March 25, 2019

From March 15 to 17, the Canadian city of Toronto played host to the tenth Furnal Equinox, an annual event dedicated to the “furry fandom.” Wikinews attended. Programming ranged from music to gender, science to art, covering dozens of aspects of the varied subculture. The event’s featured guests were visual artists Moth Monarch and Cat-Monk Shiro, as well as the co-owners of US fursuit costume builders Don’t Hug Cacti.

The event raised nearly CDN$11,000 for Pet Patrol, a non-profit rescue organization in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, run by volunteers. This exceeded their goal of $10,000, the funds needed to finish a rural sanctuary. The furry community is well-known for their charitable efforts. Along with direct donations, the funds were raised through a charity auction offering original artwork, and a fursuit design by guests of honour “Don’t Hug Cacti.” Last year, Furnal Equinox raised funds for a farm animal sanctuary.

While only 10–15% of people within the fandom own a fursuit according to a 2011 study, event organizers reported this year 908 of the 2240 attendees at Furnal Equinox brought at least one elaborate outfit to the event. The outfits are usually based on original characters, known as “fursonas”.

Guests of Honour Cherie and Sean O’Donnell, known within the community as “Lucky and Skuff Coyote”, held a session on fursuit construction on Saturday afternoon. The married couple are among the most prominent builders in the fandom, under the name Don’t Hug Cacti. The scale of their business was evident, as Sean had made over a thousand pairs of “handpaws”, costume gloves.

The couple encouraged attendees to continue developing their technique, sharing that all professional fursuit makers had developed different techniques. They felt that they learned more from failed projects than successful ones, citing the Chuck Jones quote that “every artist has thousands of bad drawings,” and that you have to work through them to achieve. Cherie, known as Lucky, recalled receiving a Sylvester the Cat plush toy from a Six Flags theme park at age 10. She promptly hollowed the toy out, turning it into a costume. Creating a costume isn’t without its hazards: the company uses 450°F (232°C) glue guns. They’re “like sticking your hand in an oven.”

Other programming included improv comedy, dances, life drawing of fursuiters, a review of scientific research by a research group at four universities called FurScience, a pin collector’s social, and workshops in writing.

The “Dealer’s Den” hall was expanded this year, with even more retailers and artists. While many offered “furry” versions of traditional products, at least one business focused on “pushing the boundaries of fursuit technology.” Along with 3D printing a bone-shaped name tag when Wikinews visited, Grivik was demonstrating miniature computer screens that could be used as “eyes” for a fursuit. The electronic displays projected an animation of eyes looking around, blinking occasionally. The maker has also developed “a way to install a camera inside suit heads, to improve fursuiter visibility.” He hopes the tech would reduce suiting risks and accidents. Without the need for eyeholes, fursuit makers would have “more options for building different eyestyles.”

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Sep 7
China offers Africa financial aid including $10 billion in loans
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China offers Africa financial aid including $10 billion in loans

Sunday, November 8, 2009

China has offered Africa concessional loans worth US$10 (€6.5) billion as part of a host of new measures aimed at improving the economy of African nations. The announcement was made at the opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Leaders of nearly 50 African countries are attending the two-day conference.

China had already stated today at the 3rd Conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs, held immediately before the FOCAC, that Chinese firms would be encouraged to invest in Africa, while both sides would work together to improve the tourism, telecommunications and finance industries. China also said that governments should work with businesses to ensure co-operation between China and Africa.

As well as the loans, made over three years, China will write off the debt of Africa’s poorest countries, build 100 African green energy facilities and systematically lower import duties on 95% of all African products exported to China. Another promise is a loan of one billion dollars aimed at small and medium sized businesses in Africa. There will also be efforts to promote each other’s culture and increased medical assistance to Africa. Medical assistance comes in the form of 500 million yuan (US$73.2 million) of goods for the 60 hospitals and malaria centers China has already built, as well as 3,000 doctors and nurses. Roads will also be improved.

China also plans to assist with satellite weather monitoring, to help combat desertification and work within the urban environment, all aimed at reducing global warming. The new energy facilities will focus on solar, biogas and small-scale hydroelectrical installations. Another new measure is a promise to aid African farmers to ensure the continent is fed, increasing the number of demonstrations of agricultural technology in Africa to 20 and sending 50 teams of agricultural technology experts to the continent. Training in agricultural technology will be provided to 2,000 people.

“The Chinese people cherish sincere friendship toward the African people, and China’s support to Africa’s development is concrete and real,” said co-chair Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as the FOCAC opened up, adding “Whatever change that may take place in the world, our friendship with African people will not change.” He described this friendship as ‘unbreakable’. Two years ago China pledged US$5 (€3.37) billion at the last FOCAC in Beijing and now, according to Jiabao, “China is ready to deepen practical cooperation in Africa.”

We want more investment from China

China has fulfilled its 2006 pledge, investing a total of US$7.8 (€5.26) billion in Africa last year alone. 49 African countries are represented at the FOCAC, which was created in 2000, although Jiabao noted that relations between China and Africa go back fifty years. China had already forgiven or reduced the debt for thirty nations at that FOCAC summit.

According to Chinese state-owned paper China Daily, trade between China and Africa increased by 45% last year, to give a total value of US$107 (€72.1) billion, a tenfold increase since 2001 and up from US$491 (€331) million in 2003. The Chinese have a 9.8% market share, the largest of any nation, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. China has paid for schools, hospitals, malaria clinics and Chinese scholarships for African students. 50 more schools are to be built and 1,500 people trained to staff them.

Since 2006 Chinese energy firms have committed to spend at least US$16 (€10.8) billion securing African oil and gas. China’s Sinopec Group, an oil giant, bought up Addax Petroleum Corporation from its Swiss owners that year, gaining control of oilfields in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon. China promised earlier this year to spend US$9 (€6) billion on infrastructure in the Congo in exchange for mineral deposits for mining operations.

Jean Ping, leader of the African Union, said the told those at the conference that the money is coming at an opportune time, because African growth was “totally compromised” by the global financial crisis. Ping said one of the lessons learned is that the world is paying for “the irresponsible and lax behavior” of large financial companies whose philosophy was to make short-term profits.

We thank China particularly for backing efforts by our countries to achieve peace and stability in Africa’s zones of conflict

Not all Africans are happy with China’s increasing involvement in their continent. Trade practices are a concern for some, with a view that China exploits Africa for raw materials before selling back finished goods. Among these are Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid. Egypt is the richest nation in the Middle East and is discussing this perceived issue with China. Rachid told Bloomberg “What is a worry for me is if competition is unfair. That is where we are unhappy.” Jiabao described the trade as being based on “win-win programmes… and transparency.”

Others in Africa are delighted with the situation. “We want more investment from China,” Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete told the forum. Egypt’s own President Hosni Mubarak talked of “peace, security and growth,” and of “boosting cooperation between China and Africa.”

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Jiabao also used his speech to respond to criticisms that China worked with nations regardless of their human rights record, such as Sudan, whose President Omar al-Beahir is wanted on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. “Africa is fully capable of solving its own problems, in an African way,” he said, adding that “China has never attached any political strings […] to assistance to Africa.”

Beshir thanked China in a speech for diplomatic work in Sudan, including working to defuse the Darfur conflict, which the United Nations says has left 300,000 dead. “We express our deep appreciation for China’s efforts in backing the comprehensive peace agreement in Sudan and its peace efforts in Darfur,” he said, referring to a peace deal between the northern and southern parts of his country. “We thank China particularly for backing efforts by our countries to achieve peace and stability in Africa’s zones of conflict.” Jiabao said China was willing to work towards “the settlement of issues of peace and security,” in Africa.

A further criticism has been that China has brought in Chinese workers and used their own knowledge, instead of training locals. Jiabao’s speech indicated an intention to co-operate better in the fields of science and technology, as well as improve training for African students on technical courses.

“Why do some only criticise China?” asked Jiabao. “Is this a view representing African countries, or rather the view of Western countries?”

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Sep 7
US home sales fall at fastest pace on record
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US home sales fall at fastest pace on record

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sales of previously owned homes in the US fell at the fastest rate ever recorded last December, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

According to the association, existing home sales fell 16.7% last month, to an annual rate of 5.45 million, the largest crash since 1968. The figure was less than the 5.90 million units, or an eleven percent drop, predicted by most analysts.

Sales of homes went up for the entire of 2009 to 5.156 million units, or 4.9% for the year, and prices dropped from 2008 by 12.4%.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun described the figures as being “probably the largest annual drop since the Great Depression”. He said that “the market is going through a period of swings driven by the tax credit. We’re likely to have another surge in the spring. Job creation is the key to a continued recovery in the second half of the year.”

Pierre Ellis, a senior economist for Decision Economics in New York, commented on the figures, saying: “The drop in home sales is the payback for the acceleration of sales that occurred with the original first-time home buyers tax credit. […] There is an issue as to whether the decline represents a fundamental weakening.”

“The housing market continues to face significant headwinds, including high unemployment, record delinquencies and foreclosures, the specter of rising mortgage rates as the Fed’s [mortgage-backed securities] purchase programs comes to a close in late March, and tight credit,” Omair Sharif, an economist for RBS Securities, noted.

“Still, the resale market showed resilience in the second half of 2009, and the expansion and extension of the tax credit to April 30 could boost purchases during the spring selling season,” he said.

“We’ll see a pickup in existing home sales in the next couple of months as people take advantage of the tax-credit extension”, economist Adam York of Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina claimed. He fore-casted a pace of 5.4 million. He said that there were unlikely to be buyers of homes, despite the fact that the U.S. was “past the bottom.”

All four regions of the country saw a decline in sales. In the Northeast, sales fell 19.5 percent, in the Midwest, they plunged 25.8 percent. The South, the country’s largest region, saw a 16.3% decline, while in the West, sales waned by 4.8%.

US stocks fell slightly after the announcement, but went back up later in the day.

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Sep 3
Childhood pneumonia can be cured at home
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Childhood pneumonia can be cured at home

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A new study by researchers of Boston University’s School of Public Health and colleagues sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows children with severe pneumonia can be effectively treated at home and do not need to be hospitalized. This finding is hugely significant for developing countries where children cannot be brought to a hospital easily or where no hospitals exist.

Per the study the change of treatment could save many children’s lives and take pressure off health systems. Every year pneumonia kills 2 million children under the age of 5. The researchers found that antibiotics given at home could significantly reduce deaths.

The group examined 2,037 children between 3 to 59 months in seven areas in Pakistan. About half of them were given antibiotics and sent home while the other ones got intravenous antibiotics in the hospital. Both groups were found to show equal progress in healing off the illness.

Current WHO guidelines recommend that pneumonia should be treated in a hospital with injectable antibiotics. With the new study there are indicators that pneumonia can be treated just as effectively at home with oral antibiotics.

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