May 23, 2019

Viktor Schreckengost dies at 101

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Viktor Schreckengost, the father of industrial design and creator of the Jazz Bowl, an iconic piece of Jazz Age art designed for Eleanor Roosevelt during his association with Cowan Pottery died yesterday. He was 101.

Schreckengost was born on June 26, 1906 in Sebring, Ohio, United States.

Schreckengost’s peers included the far more famous designers Raymond Loewy and Norman Bel Geddes.

In 2000, the Cleveland Museum of Art curated the first ever retrospective of Schreckengost’s work. Stunning in scope, the exhibition included sculpture, pottery, dinnerware, drawings, and paintings.

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Burma introduces military draft

Thursday, January 13, 2011

According to an official document, the Burmese junta has passed a law dated November 4, 2010, requiring able-bodied persons over the age of 18 to register with local authorities. Furthermore, the law requires all men between the ages 18 and 45 as well as all women between 18 to 35 to join the army if they are called upon. Those who fail to report for military service could be imprisoned for three years, and face fines. Those who deliberately inflict injury upon themselves to avoid conscription could be imprisoned for up to five years, as well as fines. Civil servants, students, those serving prison terms, and those caring for an elderly parent are currently excluded from the draft, but they could be later called to serve. Totally exempt are members of religious orders, disabled persons, and married or divorced women with children.

The Democratic Voice of Burma claims that the law was passed just before the new parliament convened in order to avoid scrutiny of the practice by the new parliament. However, laws surrounding forcible conscription are murky and it is unclear how tightly the new law would be enforced.

The new law has faced stiff criticism by Burmese around the world. Aung Kyaw Zaw, a military analyst on the China-Burma border, said that there are pros and cons to the new law. “From the bad side, our country is already in deep poverty and the people barely have anything to eat. So [adopting such a law] may cause bigger negative effects on the country, which is already…struggling to feed the current army and carry the burden of military expenses.”

“On the plus side, civilians will learn how to use guns and be given a chance to understand the nature of the military. With the knowledge of how to handle weapons, the people will be able to rise up against the military – in a way they will be trained for the revolution.”

Many people see the draft as a threat to ethnic armed groups, who have been long embroiled in guerrilla conflicts with the government.

Burma is a military dictatorship and already has a standing army close to half a million, one of the biggest per capita in the world. Previously, professionals, including doctors, engineers and mechanics, between the ages of 18 and 44, and females between 18 to 33, were required to serve in the military for up to three years. However, the new law extends this to five years in case of a national emergency.

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May 22, 2019

Wikileaks cable disclosure shows Arab fears of Iranian ambitions

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunday night’s release of leaked United States diplomatic cables shows widespread concern in the Arab world over Iran’s ambitions to build a “Persian Empire in the 21st Century”.

Wikileaks, so far, have released under 300 of the quarter million plus diplomatic communications posted to them on a memory stick. The small sample shows, over several months, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Bahrain asserting that further sanctions against Iran will likely have no effect.

Early November last year, General David Petraeus discussed the situation with King Hamad of Bahrain, who argued for the use of force to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions; stating: “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”

In that meeting concern was expressed that more Arab involvement in Iraq was needed to frustrate Iranian plans. Petraeus was told Bahrain sought Egyptians and Saudis support, but talks with the latter revealed no interest in taking a leading rôle.

The King did welcome the prospect of India becoming involved in the region as a stabilising influence.

A mid-December meeting between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE and US Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman saw the subject brought up again. In a discussion that touched on the two countries renewable energy plans, and reliable movement of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, the Prince asserted Iran saw itself as spearheading a campaign for a “Persian Empire in the 21st Century.” Alleging Iran has established “emirates” in Kuwait, Bahrain, Eastern Saudi Arabia, Southern Iraq, Yemen, and South Lebanon, his picture of Iranian nuclear ambitions is “Al-Qaeda is not going to get a nuclear bomb; Iran is a matter of time.”File:Iran strait of hormuz 2004.jpg

The Prince was keen to stress that those in power are the same people who, in 1979, seized the US embassy in Tehran.

Subsequent talks between a congressional appropriations sub-committee and UAE’s Foreign Minister were the scene of equally serious predictions. The sub-committee, consisting of Nita Lowey, Tom Cole, Barbara Lee, and Donna Edwards, heard from Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan that if Iran became a nuclear state the rest of the region would likely follow suit.

Plans to keep the fifteen-millions-plus barrels of oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz each day moving were discussed. Whilst keen to weaken Iranian ties with China, Sheikh Abdullah stressed the US$50 billion in trade between the two; this being considered an obstacle to China backing, and enforcing, a stronger sanctions regime.

The sub-committee’s Emirates host, like many in the region, stated progress on the Israeli peace process was a good route to de-escalation.

A meeting in February this year with Kuwaiti Interior Minister Jaber Al-Khaled Al Sabah was the scene of comparable warnings. Alongside discussions on travel restrictions to be enforced against former Guantanamo Bay detainees, he described Iran as the “beating heart” of Islamic Extremism.

Concerns over Iran’s involvement in Yemen were discussed, with the minister saying Iran is intent on exporting its revolution; that its nuclear ambitions can only be thwarted by force.

Updating the US on perceived Iranian actions, he claimed they were attempting to infiltrate Egypt by recruiting the poor. And, they were becoming involved in the drugs trade, shipping narcotics into Yemen to fund militants.

The cable on the Kuwait meeting closes referring recipients to a wiki page: http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Kuwait. Wikinews has been informed this is a page on the US intelligence community’s Intellipedia; an internally-maintained project, based on the same technology as Wikipedia, and intended for use in building intelligence dossiers on countries, regions, their politicians, diplomats, plus political and terrorist groups.

A cable originating in London from January this year is corroborated by later U.S. news reports; hinting that the Iranian government may indeed be using tactics more reminiscent of the cold-war.

In the opening weeks of the year, London-based Voice of America commentator Ali Reza Nourizadeh was advised that Mohammed Reza Sadeqinia intended to target him for assassination, along with others. Sadeqinia was previously arrested in California, and prosecuted for attempting to hire a hit man. The target at that time was reported to be Iranian-American broadcaster Jamshid Sharmahd, one of the main figures behind Tondar — a loose collection of in-exile Iranians opposed to the current regime.

Tehran insists Tondar is a terrorist organisation, accusing it of being responsible for a 2008 bombing that killed 14.

Sadeqinia, who worked as a painter in Ann Arbour, was arrested on July 28, 2009 near Los Angeles International Airport in possession of thousands of dollars and an Iranian passport. FBI investigations into his possible Iranian government ties were still ongoing a month before his scheduled release in July this year.

Found guilty by Los Angeles Superior Court of attempting to hire someone to murder Sharmahd, he had been expected to spend around a year in jail. Tondar spokesman Iman Afar, in the lead up to Sedeqina’s release, expressed concern for his own safety and that of others in the L.A. area.

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May 21, 2019

At least fifteen dead after landslide in Indonesia

Thursday, February 25, 2010

At least fifteen people have been killed as the result of a landslide which occurred in Indonesia on Tuesday. According to BBC News Online, at least sixteen were killed. It is thought that up to seventy people were killed as a result of the landslide, which occurred in a village near to the city of Bandung.

At one point, villagers attempted to dig out surviving victims from the rocks and mud by using their bare hands, as rescue efforts were suspended temporarily due to heavy rain, before recommencing after lifting equipment arrived. At least sixteen dead bodies have been recovered by Wednesday. Roughly five hundred people are contributing to the search and rescue.

Priyadi Kardono, spokesperson for the Disaster Management Agency, stated: “We’ve found fifteen bodies so far and estimate that there are up to 70 people still missing.” He also commented that fifteen other people had been injured, of which two have been hospitalised.

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‘Fascinating’ and ‘provocative’ research examines genetic elements of bipolar, schizophrenia

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Last week, Nature Genetics carried twin studies into the genetics of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This special report examines the month’s research into the illnesses in detail, with Wikinews obtaining comment from experts based in Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom ahead of the U.S. Mental Illness Awareness Week, which starts tomorrow.

Eleven genetic regions were identified; seven of these were for schizophrenia and five of those were hitherto undiscovered. The parallel studies, conducted separately, examined more than 50,000 people worldwide and identified two genetic loci associated with both diseases.

Little is known about the two illnesses, each of which affects around 1% of people and is treated with strong medication. Bipolar sufferers experience extremes of mood – depression and mania, hence the previous name “manic depression” for the illness. Schizophrenia is associated with hearing voices, chaotic thoughts, and paranoia. There is no known cure.

The latest research examined both the healthy and the afflicted, using computers to scan genomes. Inheritance was thought to be a factor from prior knowledge of the diseases as a familial trait, but the original desire had been to isolate a single faulty gene. Instead it has become apparent that the genetic factors are many; in the case of schizophrenia, at most around 30% of the genetic components are thought to have been identified.

If any single centre tried to undertake such a study, it would require millions of pounds.

The University of Chicago’s Pablo Gejman, a lead researcher on the schizophrenia study, explained to Wikinews in a telephone interview from Buenos Aires, Argentina that “One of the goals of genetic research is to find druggable targets” – to “find treatments at the root of the problem”.

Whilst noting that there is no guarantee the genetic code identified is druggable, Gejman named calcium-activated neurochemical channels in the brain as candidates for new drugs. The channels were linked to schizophrenia in the study.

Gejman explained that a genetic locus called mir137 “suggests an abnormality of gene regulation.” The diseases are so poorly understood that it is uncertain if they are in fact two components of a single spectrum, or even each comprised of multiple illnesses.

The new and “provocative data” gathered showed the significant loci identified were “not part of the pre-existent hypothesis.” Calling this “interesting”, Gejman added that the team found no evidence that dopamine receptors are involved; current drug treatments target dopamine receptors. The findings are “not related to anything we thought we knew [about schizophrenia],” he told our correspondent.

Quizzed about the possibility variations in the genetic factors involved in expressing the diseases explained the variation seen in symptoms, Gejman was uncertain. “We will have the answer, probably, only when we sequence the whole [human] genome.” He notes that the relationship between genotype and phenotype is unclear, and that “We know very little of the genetic architecture of schizophrenia and” other disorders.At the time the results were published, participating scientist Professor Rodney Scott from the University of Newcastle in Australia said “The strength of this research is in the numbers. The findings are robust and give us a lot of statistical power to identify the genetic determinants of schizophrenia.” Scott told Wikinews that “If any single centre tried to undertake such a study, it would require millions of pounds. Since it was a collection of data from across the world the costs were spread. In this era of financial difficulty it will become increasingly difficult to secure funding for this type of project even though the pay-offs will be significant.”

Gejman expressed similar sentiment. “The research budget is not growing, which makes [funding] difficult,” he said, though he felt the cost “is not prohibitive because of the benefits.” “I think that it was money well invested” and “very well spent for the future,” he said, adding that organisations in Europe and the US were aware of the importance of such research.

Gejman also agreed on reliability – the study is “Very reliable because of the sample size; that should provide robust results… [we] have worked with a much larger sample than before.” Scott told us it was “a highly reliable study” that has the potential to lead to new treatments “in the long run”.

Another point was the two genetic loci identified as common to both – how much support do they lend to the notion the diseases are linked? “Until more information is available it is really only suggestive,” says Scott. “Strong enough to say there may be potentially a common pathway that bifurcates to give rise to two diseases.”

The provision of specialist services for bipolar is very limited in the UK and the demand for our services is unprecedented.

“It is an excellent demonstration,” said Gejman “because you have the same chains that are common to both disorders, in fact not just the same chains but also the same alleles.” He stressed uncertainty in how strong the relationship was, however.

Scott said examining how the variation of genetic factors may translate into varied symptoms being expressed “certainly is a good target for future research”; “It is not known how many genetic factors contribute to either of these diseases but it is likely that not all are necessary to trigger disease.” “New questions will always arise from any major study,” he told our reporter. “Certainly, new questions about bipolar and schizophrenia are now able to be formulated on the basis of the results presented in the two reports.”

These weren’t the only studies to look at the two diseases together in September. The British Medical Journal carried research by a team from the University of Oxford and King’s College London that examined mortality rates in England for schizophrenia and bipolar sufferers. They found both groups continued to suffer higher mortality rates than the general population – whilst these included suicides, three quarters of deaths were down to ailments such a s heart conditions. General death rates dropped from 1999 to 2006, but sufferers below 65 saw their death rate remain stable – and the over-65 saw theirs increase.

“By 2006, the excess risk in these groups had risk to twice the rate of the general population, whereas prior to that it had only been 1.6 times the risk, so it increased by almost 40%,” said Dr Uy Hoang of Oxford. The study looked at every discharged inpatient with a diagnosis of either condition in England in the relevant time.

Hoang said at the time of the research’s release that doctors should devote attention to predicting and preventing physical illness associated with mental disorders. His study comes at a time when the UK has launched a “no health without mental health” strategy which does attempt to screen for physical illnesses coinciding with mental illnesses. The government aims to reduce the death rate of those with mental disorders.

Rodney Scott described this research result to Wikinews as “Possibly” connected to genetic association with other hereditary ailments, such as cardiovascular disease; he told us another possibility is that “The continued raised mortality rates may be associated with the diseases themselves.”

“We believe the NHS [National Health Service] and Department of Health need to do more to support research and service development for people with bipolar disorder,” Wikinews was told by Suzanne Hudson, Chief Executive of London-based British charity MDF The Bipolar Organisation. “The provision of specialist services for bipolar is very limited in the UK and the demand for our services is unprecedented.”

“A genetic test for bipolar would be a useful tool but the science and ethics are very complex,” Hudson told us, referring to the Nature Genetics genetic study. “Just because someone has ‘bipolar genes’ does not mean they might go on to develop it. Family studies of bipolar show that this is a likely outcome of genetics research in this area. Even if it were possible to accurately predict bipolar in this way, questions about how you treat that person are difficult. For example do you start medication that is not necessary at that point in time?”

“Current treatment is not satisfactory” because it does not always work and has “side effects,” Gejman told us. Robert Whitaker, a US medical journalist and book author, told an audience in New Zealand at the end of August that evidence suggests antidepressant drugs may make children and teenagers worse – “You see many become worse and end up with a more severe diagnosis, like bipolar illness,” and the suicide risk may increase.

Whitaker blames commercial interests. “The adult market appeared saturated, and so they began eying children and teenagers. Prior to this, few children and youth were seen as suffering from major depression, and so few were prescribed anti-depressants.”

One possible alternative, raised by a connection between depressive illness and inflammation, is aspirin and similar compounds. “The link between inflammation and mood disorders has been known for sometime and the use of aspirin and other drugs in depression is now becoming more common in the literature,” Hudson says. “Any new treatments for bipolar, which is a very complex and co-morbid illness, has to be a good thing.”

Professor Dr. Michael Berk, chairman of psychiatry at Australia’s Deakin University, recently gave a talk to just this effect. Speaking at this year’s Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, held this past month, he also highlighted statins as a treatment. Recognising the link to physical ailments, he told an interviewer “The brain does not exist in isolation, and we need to understand that pathways similar to those that underpin risks for cardiovascular disorders, stroke, and osteoporosis might also underpin the risk for psychiatric disorders, and that other treatments might be helpful.”

Berk also touched upon speed of diagnosis and treatment; “Early interventions can potentially improve the outcome” of bipolar sufferers, he told his audience. MDF The Bipolar Organisation claim an average of ten years is possible before a person is diagnosed. “This clearly is an issue, if we believe that earlier diagnosis and treatment facilitate better outcomes,” Berk told Wikinews. Though he questions the effectiveness of currently-used drugs on advanced bipolar cases, he does not go so far as to say drugs are actively harmful. He told us “it appears that our best treatments work best earlier in the illness course; and that seems to apply to psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy.”

Berk has already performed research using statins which suggests they can form a treatment. He now seeks funding for research involving aspirin. On funding, he tells Wikinews “psychiatric disorders comprise between 16% and 22% of the burden of disability (depending on who measures it), attracts[sic] just over 6% of the clinical budget at least in Australia and 3% of the research budget. Research as a discretionary spending item is at great risk.”

Berk’s research, in the past, has been funded by companies including GlaxoSmithKline. Hudson told Wikinews this did not concern her charity; in fact, they welcomed it. “We believe it is important pharmaceutical companies continue to invest in the development of new medications for bipolar. This is how it works in all other health specialities and mental health should be no different.”

“There is a need for greater education for mental health professionals and GPs [general practitioners] about bipolar [in the UK],” she told us. “As the national bipolar charity we receive many, many calls and requests from GPs and other health professionals for our leaflets and information sheets which is fantastic. We very much welcome opportunities to work together for the benefit of individuals affected by bipolar.”

Wikinews contacted the UK’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to discuss issues raised in this article, including future treatments, genetic screening, and mortality rates. NICE did not respond.

Might statins and/or aspirin improve treatment – might they be cheaper, perhaps, or safer? “This is an area of research promise,” says Berk, “however it is too early to make any clinical treatment claims; [all] we can say is that this needs to be studied in properly designed trials capable of giving a more definitive answer.” And what of possible explanations for the increased mortality rate observed in England? Should researchers look at whether bipolar influences more than just the brain, or if it is linked to other genetic conditions?

“For sure,” he told us. “There is new evidence that similar pathways contribute to the risk for both medical and psychiatric illness, both in terms of lifestyle factors, and biomarkers of risk.”

MDF The Bipolar Organisation provide support to those with bipolar and their friends and family: 020 7931 6480

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May 19, 2019

French workers use threats in compensation demand

Friday, July 17, 2009Following similar threats by workers at New Fabris and Nortel, workers at JLG in Tonneins, France, threatened to blow up several platform cranes. The JLG factory announced in April 2009 that it will fire 53 of its 163 workers by the end of 2009, while the remaining 110 jobs will not be secure over the next 2 years.

JLG Tonneins was acquired in 2006 with its parent JLG Industries, a maker of aerial work platforms, by the U.S.-based Oshkosh Corporation. Despite being hugely profitable in the past, production has been much reduced since 2008 with the contraction of the construction industry and lower demand for its products. Despite excellent past results the new American management demanded sweeping cuts at the company.

In the view of locals, “the company’s actions are a disgrace given the expensive perks, such as official cars, for its corporate fat cats, compared to the sacrifice, silence, and dignity demanded by the company of those it has made redundant.”

The management offered severance pay of 3,000 (US $4,200), however the workers demanded a severance package commensurate with “the wealth that their labor has generated.” Worker’s delegates requested a “supra-legal” payment of € 30,000, on Thursday 16 of July the management responded with a counter offer of € 16,000. On Thursday night the worker’s actions secured the € 30,000 settlement initially demanded.

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May 18, 2019

Crowd in Derbyshire, UK, encourages teenager to commit suicide

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It has recently been made public that on September 27, seventeen year old Shaun Dykes jumped off a multistory building following encouragement from the crowd. According to the BBC’s Today programme, a variety of different people, including youths and middle aged citizens, were telling the teenager to jump.

Alasdair Kay, director of the Derby City Mission, saw the incident unfold. He expressed his shock and disgust at the incident. “People were filming… we could hear people shouting ‘[J]ump, you,'” she said. “They weren’t all just young people, some were middle-aged. To be honest with you I was sickened.”

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Derbyshire’s Chief Constable Mick Creedon, also yesterday commented on the indent. “The tragic death of Shaun Dykes at Derby on 27th September has attracted much comment and media speculation,” he started. “The pain that Shaun’s family and friends are suffering must be unimaginable and they have my deepest sympathy.”

“The primary responsibility of the police is the protection of life, and the Derbyshire Constabulary will always have this responsibility at the forefront of our response to such tragic events as Shaun’s death last Saturday,” he continued. “We have very well trained and experienced staff, well practiced in dealing with such incidents and I have no doubt that the officers involved in talking to Shaun on Saturday did their best with the situation they were presented with.”

“The fact that they were unsuccessful in negotiating Shaun to safety will have been very painful for them, particularly for the two officers who spent two hours talking directly to him. They have my sincere thanks for their efforts as, I’m sure, they have the thanks of the vast majority of those reading this.”

Shaun Dykes, had been raised in a single parent family in a village near Derbyshire and he recently returned from a business course to study to become an accountant or a pilot.

Before his death, he was working part time in a local pub. Craig Doxey, his best friend, described Dykes. “He was always smiling and laughing about stuff. I think if it wasn’t for the crowd, Shaun would have got down and got some help from all his mates, work colleagues and the police.”

He went to Heanor Gate Science College, and he was openly gay. According to one of his friends from that school, Rebkha Minkley, “he always came in, in the morning with a smile on his face.”

According to the Today program, Dykes is believed to have left a suicide note before jumping off the building.

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May 16, 2019

Andrea Muizelaar on fashion, anorexia, and life after ‘Top Model’

Monday, November 26, 2007

In the 18 months since Andrea Muizelaar was crowned winner of the reality TV series Canada’s Next Top Model, her life has been a complete whirlwind. From working in a dollar store in her hometown of Whitby, Ontario, to modeling haute couture in Toronto, she had reached her dream of becoming a true Top Model.

But at what cost? Unknown to casual television viewers, Muizelaar had been enveloped in the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, which inevitably became too much for her to bear. She gave up modeling and moved back to Whitby, where she sought treatment for her disorder, re-entered college, and now works at a bank. Where is she now? Happy and healthy, she says.

Recently Andrea Muizelaar sat down with Wikinews reporter Mike Halterman in a candid interview that stretched to nearly two hours, as she told all about her hopes and aspirations, her battle with anorexia, and just what really happened on Canada’s Next Top Model.

Contents

  • 1 Andrea’s beginnings
  • 2 Andrea on her road to modeling, and America’s Next Top Model
  • 3 Experience on Canada’s Next Top Model
  • 4 The message she wrote to her fans on her facebook group
  • 5 Her brief modeling career
  • 6 “Happy and healthy”
  • 7 Source
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May 15, 2019

White House accepts judicial review of NSA eavesdropping

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The US President George W. Bush agreed to sign a bill that would allow for a limited judicial review of the National Security Agency‘s controversial eavesdropping program, said the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R). A White House spokeswoman also confirmed the same.

Sen. Specter said that the bill will clear the way for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to “consider the program as a whole and to make a decision on it.”

Under the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”, NSA conducts surveillance on international and domestic phone calls without FISA court authorization, an action the text of the FISA act calls a Felony. The Bush administration maintains that the program is legal, arguing that FISA is an unconstitutional violation of the President’s “inherent powers” and/or that FISA was implicitly overridden by other acts of Congress. Revelation of the program by a New York Times newsreport triggered a controversy over the legality of the program and the scope of Congressional oversight.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently considering two bills proposed respectively by Sen. Specter and Sen. Mike DeWine (R) over the issue. The Specter bill provides for retroactive amnesty for NSA’s actions and brings the program under the FISA court, whereas the DeWine bill provides a legislative foundation for the program.

Sen. Specter said that the bill will allow greater flexibility in emergencies by updating legal language to reflect recent technological developments such as cell phones, allowing NSA a seven day period for obtaining retroactive warrants and allowing “roving wiretaps” which target an individual rather than a particular phone connection. He added that the bill will require government officials to explain why they suspect intercepted communications involve terrorism and creates penalties for misuse of the powers.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat said that the proposed bill is an “interesting bargain” in which the President “is saying ‘if you do every single thing I tell you to do,’ I will do what I should have done anyway,”.Sen. Charles Schumer (D) is reported to have proposed a different bill.

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May 13, 2019

Outbreak of swine flu in Mexico kills at least twenty, infects 1,000

Friday, April 24, 2009

According to Mexican health officials, an epidemic of swine flu has killed at least 68 people and infected a further one thousand inside the country.

Mexican health minister José Ángel Córdova said that the casualty rate appeared to be slowing down, and that there would be no plans to block off Mexican borders. “We’re dealing with a new flu virus that constitutes a respiratory epidemic that so far is controllable,” Córdova stated. He said that the disease had mutated from pigs and was transferred to humans at some point.

Museums and schools for seven million students near Mexico’s capital were closed down in an effort to curb the epidemic, and the government has encouraged people with symptoms of the disease to take leave from work.

The outbreak has spread north to the United States, and US health authorities have reported that eight people were diagnosed with swine flu in Texas and California. However, these people have recovered.

“We are worried. We don’t know if this will lead to the next pandemic, but we will be monitoring it and taking it seriously,” said Dr. Richard Besser, the acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Besser suggested “containment is not very likely” in a telephone briefing on Friday.

Tests conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that the virus from a dozen patients was genetically similar to a new outbreak of swine flu, designated as H1N1.

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