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Gunmen with rocket-launchers massacre 60 at market in Mahmoudiya, Iraq

Monday, July 17, 2006

For 30 minutes, a mob of heavily-armed gunmen tore through a Shiite populated market town in Mahmoudiya, Iraq, exploding car bombs and shooting at people.

Police Capt. Rashid al-Samaraie said the assault which killed at least 60 began at 9 a.m. when mortars were fired into the town and a group of men in cars stormed a checkpoint, killing three Iraqi soldiers.

The gunmen proceeded to attack shoppers and passers-by with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades. Some of the 50 strong attack force threw grenades into open restaurants and cafes. Two car bombs also were detonated leading to further casualties.

Local town official Sheik Bassem Anizi said he was an eyewitness to the events as they unfolded. “I saw the armed gunmen shooting randomly at the people. The terrorists wanted to send a message saying we can attack anywhere we want and kill civilians,” he said. Anizi escaped the massacre by hiding behind a wall in a hardware shop.

Early reports said a total of 60 people died and about 50 people were injured.

2006 Commonwealth Games open in Melbourne

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The XVIIIth Commonwealth Games were opened officially by Queen Elizabeth II tonight, in Melbourne, Australia in a two-and-a-half hour spectacular Opening Ceremony held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. About 80,000 spectators were in attendance, and hundreds of thousands lined the riverbank of the nearby Yarra River, watching as the Queen’s baton made its way to the stadium.

The Queen’s Baton final runner was John Landy, the current Governor of Victoria, and a Bronze medalist in the 1956 Summer Olympics.

The ceremony began with the flags of Australia, England, (previous host) and India, (next host) being raised.

In a change from the traditional format, the teams did not enter in alphabetical order; instead, they entered in order of regions of the Commonwealth, starting with the European nations. Then Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Caribbean and finally Oceania entered the stadium.

Melbourne funk band The Cat Empire provided musical accompaniment as the athletes marched into the arena, playing music specifically written for each continent.

The Queen, dressed in gold and accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, received the baton, which has travelled to all 71 competing nations, where she read the message placed within the baton (366 days earlier on Commonwealth Day, March 14, 2005).

The Queen’s said “I am glad to have this opportunity to offer my best wishes to every athlete and official taking part in these friendly Games …. It now gives me the greatest pleasure to declare the 18th Commonwealth Games open.”

The Queen, who is 80 next month (21 April), was taken aback when the audience joined in a tribute of Happy Birthday, ending with eight bars from God Save the Queen, led by New Zealand opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

4,500 athletes representing 71 teams from 53 Commonwealth countries will be competing at the games this year. A potential global television audience of 1.5 billion is expected to tune in. The Commonwealth Games will run through to the 26th March.

FDA issues proposed rules requiring calorie content on menus

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued proposed calorie labeling rules requiring most retail food vendors to display the calorie counts in items on their menus and menu boards. The proposed rules, issued Friday and expected to be finalized in 2012, would apply to most restaurants, snack bars, vending machines, coffee shops, drive-through restaurants, and convenience and grocery stores.

The US Congress required the rules in the health-care reform law passed in 2010. The rules proposed by the FDA must undergo a public comment period before they are finalized and take effect, said Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Director for Foods at the FDA.

The proposed regulations pertain to businesses devoting more than 50 percent of their floor space to the sale of food or that consider themselves restaurants, specifically food-selling chains with at least 20 stores nationally. Included are candy stores, bakeries, and ice-cream parlors.

The FDA’s proposed guidelines specify that chains post the calorie counts of foods and drinks on menus and menu boards or next to the food item, such as at a salad bar. The menu is to prominently exhibit the calorie content of each item in a way customers can see easily, giving them the same information packaged foods prepared at home currently provide. The information must be displayed in “clear and conspicuous” print and colors.

Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier.

Many cities and states have passed laws requiring calorie labeling on menus, beginning with New York City in 2008. California implemented a similar law in January, although many counties are waiting for the release of the federal guidelines before they begin enforcement. Some fast-food chains there, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks, are displaying calorie counts on menus in some of their stores.

The rules are intended to curb the national obesity epidemic since, according to FDA estimates, one third of the calories people consume yearly come from food eaten out. In a statement issued yesterday, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services said, “Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier.”

Excluded from the rules are businesses whose primary product is not food sales but that sell it, such as bowling alleys, airports and airplanes, amusement parks, hotels and movie theaters. Alcohol is also excluded.

Austrian man who imprisoned daughter pleads guilty at start of trial

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Austrian man charged with keeping his daughter prisoner in a dungeon for 24 years and fathering her seven children, has pleaded guilty to rape, incest, false imprisonment and coercion but innocent to enslavement and Murder|murder at the start of his trial today.

Josef Fritzl, 73, allegedly began imprisoning and raping his daughter Elisabeth, now 42, on August 8, 1984. He lured her to the basement where she was locked in a room, handcuffed and drugged. He is charged with incest, false imprisonment, murder, rape and the enslavement. The murder charge stems from allegations that Fritzl murdered a twin of one of the children. He then disposed of the body by placing the corpse into a heated oven, burning the body. Police say the child had died shortly after being born.

Police became suspicious when a 19-year-old daughter, Kerstin, was taken to hospital with a mysterious life-threatening illness, and the family’s medical records were checked. Police say that Elisabeth F. appeared to be “greatly disturbed” psychologically, and only agreed to talk after the authorities assured her that she would not have to have contact with her father, and that her children would be cared for. When authorities arrived at his home, Fritzl told police what he had done. Of the surviving six children, there are three boys and three girls, between 5 and 20 years old.

The 27 page indictment says that Fritzl “had equipped it [the cellar] with a double bed, a wash basin, a toilet, a TV, a video recorder, an oven and plastic crockery. In the cellar there was no daylight or fresh air. The only opportunity to wash was in a sink, there was no shower. There was also no hot water or heating.” The indictment also stated that Fritzl’s actions were “premeditated.”

Fritzl’s lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, opened the trial saying that Fritzl was “not a monster” and that Fritzl “was scared [and] regrets his actions”. As a precaution to prevent media infiltration and Fritzl’s escape, authorities issued a no-fly warning above the courtroom.

Fritzl was arrested on April 27, 2008, in his home in Amstetten and if convicted, he would spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole. The minimum sentence is said to be at least 15 years in prison. The trial is expected to last one week.

Quiznos restaurant chain airs controversial commercial

Friday, April 3, 2009

Quiznos, a fast food restaurant chain that specializes in selling submarine sandwiches, has aired a controversial television commercial, with an extended version only appearing in the late-night lineups. The commercial is a promotion for the company’s new sandwich, the ‘Toasty Torpedo’. Bob Sassone, a writer for TVSquad.com, argues that it is homosexually themed and compares it to pornography.

The commercial begins with a toaster oven talking to Scott, a Quiznos sandwich maker, in a male voice. “Scott, I want you to do something,” says the toaster to Scott. As he takes a bite of a Torpedo and appears to look in the direction of his genitals, Scott says to the toaster, “[sic] not doing that again. That burned.” The toaster replies, “We both enjoyed that.”

Later in the commercial, the toaster asks Scott to make one of the sandwiches and says the price of it is “sexy” and then “sexier.” Scott grins and does so. The toaster then asks Scott to “stick it in me”. The sandwich just happens to be 12 inches long, giving the appearance of a special relationship between Scott and the toaster oven.

Quiznos published a press release on March 24 announcing the new line of sandwiches. They stated that their price of US$4 helps to ease the economic pinch. In a statement to Wikinews Quiznos stated that their commercials are within the company’s character and they were designed to get people talking.

“We developed our new ads to be consistent with the Quiznos brand and to get people excited about our new Toasty Torpedoes. Some of the ads are edgy and provocative, but they’re well within the confines of the Quiznos brand character,” said Rebecca Steinfort, chief marketing officer for Quiznos to Wikinews.

“Since Quiznos has a broad range of consumers that eat at its more than 4,500 restaurants nationwide, we tailor our commercials to be relevant and appeal to our diverse customers – all of whom are watching different kinds of programming. The new ads are fun and entertaining, and the edginess and innuendo of the ads are designed to get people talking about our new Toasty Torpedoes, and that’s exactly what we want: people to talk and taste our new sandwiches,” added Steinfort.

Bob Sassone a writer for TVSquad.com, one of the Internet’s top television weblogs, compared the commercial to a pornography film.

“The new Quizno’s commercial is probably the closest we’ll get to a gay porn flick in a mainstream sub shop ad,” Sassone wrote.

In 2007, the company made another controversial commercial. It featured people on the street eating samples of a Quiznos ‘Prime Rib Dinner’ sandwich. They promoted it as having a lot of “meat” and near the end it featured two women eating a sandwich saying, “It’s not lacking any meat. And that’s what real women need”.

“Nevertheless, Quiznos remains committed to providing its customers with high-quality ingredients at everyday lower prices, all with excellent service. As such, we encourage consumers to give feedback on the commercials to our corporate marketing department through the website,” said Steinfort.

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Obrador supporters block streets in Mexico City

Monday, July 31, 2006

Tents began sprouting in Mexico’s capital Sunday afternoon after leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel López Obrador called on his supporters to set up camp on the capital until a recount is ordered by the Federal Electoral Tribunal.

The encampments are to be placed along a 4.6-mile stretch of the city. As of now, the number of people in the camps is unknown but the encampments themselves are expected to block most of the streets in the city, an expectation made much more believable by the fact that in Sunday, only hours after Obrador’s message, one of the capital’s major avenues was blocked for miles. This was only the latest action in a series of protests after the controversial elections that took place in July 2, when Felipe Calderón beat López Obrador, the candidate considered most popular, by less than a percentage point. López Obrador stated he will only back down if the recount is made and a winner is re-chosen, subsequently the protests are not expected to stop until the Federal Electoral Tribunal makes a decision upon the disputed election.

Apple unveils “Boot Camp” allowing Windows to work on Macs

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Apple unveiled today a new program called “Boot Camp” which will allow Macintosh users to switch between running Mac OS X and Windows on start-up of their Intel-based Macintosh computer. Shares of the company rose roughly 7% in response to the news.

After Apple switched to Intel processors, enthusiasts and hackers have been trying to install Windows XP on a Mac. Because Macs boot using a faster and more modern system that Windows does not support, booting Windows was a very complicated task.

Mac enthusiasts reportedly achieved this task in mid-March when the website OnMac.net hosted a contest [1]. The winning solution found involved a lengthy process that took both operating systems off and put them both back on. In addition, individual files had to be downloaded and installed, and there were no drivers for many things, most notably games.

Apple fixed both of these problems, with all major drivers included, and the process reportedly now takes less then an hour as compared to 3-9 hours.

The program is available for download, in beta form, from the Apple website. [2] It will be included in the newest Mac OS, called Leopard, once that operating system is released.

Category:Music

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FOX News previews Grafton Street restaurant and “voice collector” in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Sunday, May 1, 2005

The FOX Morning News broadcast from Harvard Square this morning in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Anchors Liz Carrigan and Gene Lavanchy profiled a restaurant and a musician who will take part in the 22nd annual Mayfair, which starts on Sunday, May 1. The restaurant, Grafton Street, is on Massachusetts Avenue.

The Mayfair is a festival that takes place in Harvard Square on an annual basis. On Sunday, the Square will be closed from noon until 6 pm to vehicular traffic; according to the Mayfair website, “200 artists and merchants” will participate in the event this year.

The musician, Halsey Burgund, works for a computer security firm, but plays the drums and piano in his spare time. This morning, he had set up his portable recording booth to demonstrate the means by which he records passersby for voice samples in his music. Burgund will have his booth set up on Sunday and hopes to record festival visitors. Eventually, Burgund hopes to release his music under a Creative Commons license. Burgund noted that he previously tried recording people on the street with just a microphone, but he found that there was too much ambient noise for the quality of recording he desired.