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Latest trial of the One Laptop Per Child running in India; Uruguay orders 100,000 machines
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Thursday, November 8, 2007

India is the latest of the countries where the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) experiment has started. Children from the village of Khairat were given the opportunity to learn how to use the XO laptop. During the last year XO was distributed to children from Arahuay in Peru, Ban Samkha in Thailand, Cardal in Uruguay and Galadima in Nigeria. The OLPC team are, in their reports on the startup of the trials, delighted with how the laptop has improved access to information and ability to carry out educational activities. Thailand’s The Nation has praised the project, describing the children as “enthusiastic” and keen to attend school with their laptops.

Recent good news for the project sees Uruguay having ordered 100,000 of the machines which are to be given to children aged six to twelve. Should all go according to plan a further 300,000 machines will be purchased by 2009 to give one to every child in the country. As the first to order, Uruguay chose the OLPC XO laptop over its rival from Intel, the Classmate PC. In parallel with the delivery of the laptops network connectivity will be provided to schools involved in the project.

The remainder of this article is based on Carla G. Munroy’s Khairat Chronicle, which is available from the OLPC Wiki. Additional sources are listed at the end.

Contents

  • 1 India team
  • 2 Khairat
    • 2.1 The town school
  • 3 The workplace
  • 4 Marathi
  • 5 The teacher
  • 6 Older children, teenagers, and villagers
  • 7 The students
  • 8 Teacher session
  • 9 Parents’ meetings
  • 10 Grounding the server
  • 11 Every child at school
  • 12 Sources
  • 13 External links
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1960’s guru icon Maharishi Mahesh Yogi dies
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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

An Indian guru who taught some of the 20th century’s most famous celebrities and created a multi-billion dollar spiritual empire has died. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement, died at his home in the Netherlands. He is believed to have been 91 years old.

Known for his long white beard and tendency to giggle, he became a well-known counter-culture figure in the 1960’s. Members of the Beatles rock music band made repeated pilgrimages to the Himalayan foothills to study his meditation technique, known as TM.

Little is certain about the yogi’s early life in central India. His given name and birthday are disputed. It is known he studied physics at Allahabad University.

A professor of psychology at the school, Emmanuel Ghosh, says the guru’s academic training, combined with study under a Vedic swami, helped to make him accessible to those in the West seeking alternative answers to life’s questions during the socially tumultuous 1960’s.

“He had a rational approach,” said Ghosh. “He had a scientific background and he could tell the West that ‘You could test my theories through science.’ He was the first one who started this whole system of reducing stress by breath control, by meditation and you could measure it in objective terms.”

Maharishi also tutored other pop musicians, Hollywood actors and film directors. His TM movement attracted millions of followers worldwide who paid hundreds of dollars to receive a personal mantra to recite for 20 minutes, twice a day.

Professor Ghosh at Allahabad University says, despite his fame and success overseas, Maharishi was just one among many gurus in his native India.

“His influence in India has been negligible. Every guru is independent to propagate his own method of salvation or nirvana,” said Ghosh. “So he took off for a while [in India] as long as he was appreciated in the West.”

Perhaps his biggest legacy in India is the country’s largest chain of privately owned schools. Other institutes and universities based on his teachings also exist in the United States and Europe.

In later years, some of the guru’s projects and beliefs earned him ridicule, such as hoping to raise $10 trillion to achieve world peace and banish poverty and encouraging followers to learn what he called “yogic flying”. While many adherents praise Maharishi for propagating a scientifically verifiable ancient method to help them deal with the stress of modern life, some disenchanted followers considered TM a quasi-religious cult more interested in raising funds than spirits.

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Canada’s Scarborough-Agincourt (Ward 39) city council candidates speak
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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Scarborough-Agincourt (Ward 39). Two candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Wayne Cook, Mike Del Grande (incumbent), Samuel Kung, Lushan Lu, Sunshine Smith, and John Wong.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

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Left-wing EU parliament candidates debate in Cardiff
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cardiff, Wales —Labour, Plaid Cymru, and No2EU candidates for the Wales seats in the European Parliament met at Cardiff‘s Sandringham Hotel last night for the second of two pre-election hustings debates hosted by Cardiff Trades Union Congress. Cardiff TUC president Katrine Williams moderated as Derek Vaughan of the Labour Party, Jill Evans MEP of Plaid Cymru, and Rob Griffiths of the No2EU coalition, the tops of their respective lists, took questions from an audience of 22 composed largely of socialist activists and trade union members.

Candidates from the Tories, Liberal Democrats, and Green Party were not invited to the evening debate, although the Liberal Democrats did take part in the TUC’s debate earlier in the day. Ms Williams explained that the Liberal Democrats and Tories had been excluded because “we wanted to have candidates more representative of trade unions” but that not inviting the Greens had been “an oversight” due to the less prominent tradition of green politics in Wales. The BNP, UKIP and some minor parties also did not take part.

In opening statements, the three candidates discussed their records and their goals for the European Parliament. Mr Vaughan, leader of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, asserted the pro-organised labour credentials of the Labour Party, which has been under fire for several years from the left, and noted that Labour, which currently controls two of Wales’s four seats in the EU Parliament, has brought £1.5 billion to Wales, with a comparable amount to come in the future. Calling the BNP “Nazis” and comparing the British political situation to that in Germany in the 1930s, Vaughan called for the parties of the left to rally behind Labour in order to ensure that the BNP did not obtain any seats in Wales; but he expressed resignation to the likelihood that the BNP would earn a seat in North West England.

Ms Evans, meanwhile, who has been an MEP for ten years, announced her opposition to the pro-privatisation current in the EU and pledged that Plaid would support a new program of public investment and pro-organised labour revisions of EU directives, particularly the Posted Workers Directive.

Mr Griffiths, meanwhile, who is General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, took a position urging radical reform of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty, which he characterised as a re-branding of the European Constitution, would, he argued, enshrine neo-liberal policies in Europe and impose them on its member states in a way that was irreversible — “at least by any constitutional means”. Calling for a “social Europe” as opposed to a “United States of Europe“, Griffiths suggested that the creation of a European Defence Agency and the actions of the European Court of Justice were being used to turn the European Union into a capitalist “empire” akin to the United States.

Discussion of the ongoing UK parliamentary expenses scandal and its implications for MEPs, who draw salaries and expenses considerably higher than Westminster MPs do, dominated the early discussion. The Labour candidate expressed the position that the problems in accountability leading to the scandal had been fixed; his opponents noted that of the parties currently representing Britain in Brussels, only Labour has not yet disclosed their expenses (although Mr Vaughan states that the party will begin to do so soon) and Mr Griffiths furthermore declared that the scandal was part of a wider problem: the corruption of the political system by big business.

On the subject of a common European defence policy the three candidates supported widely differing views. The No2EU candidate stated plainly that he considers Europe not to be threatened, and said that a European defence force would be used for foreign adventures in Afghanistan, Africa, and elsewhere in the developing world while at the same time building up the armaments industry in Europe. Ms Evans, meanwhile, argued that the proper role of a common EU force would be as a “civil force” supporting conflict prevention and conflict resolution operations, and also called for the abolition of NATO. Mr Vaughan finished the second round of questioning arguing that a common European armed force should be an alternative to the “US-dominated” NATO, but also stated the importance of bilateral alliances in building up a common European defence force, citing the Franco-German Brigade of the Eurocorps as an example.

Debate ended on the contentious question of MEP salaries, with one member of the audience challenging the three candidates to pledge to accept a wage, if they won, equal to the average wage of their constituents. Ms Evans agreed that the set wage, currently £63,000 rising to £73,000 in 2010, was “too high”, but would not commit to a so-called “worker’s wage”, under heavy criticism from the audience. Mr Vaughan, following, called it “not fair” to ask MEPs to take such a pledge but asserted “I have never been motivated by money” and finished his part in the debate with a call to elect more left-wing socialist MEPs. Mr Griffiths, whose No2EU coalition has made a worker’s wage for MEPs part of their election manifesto, readily pledged to hold to a living wage, albeit not necessarily one equal to the average wage of his constituents, and described some of the difficulties associated with refusing an EU salary, noting that initially No2EU had proposed that its MEPs should draw no salary and claim no expenses from Europe but the coalition’s legal advisors had said that to do so would endanger the status of any of its members as MEPs.

Voting for the European Parliament elections in the United Kingdom takes place June 4.

Australia and China enter into Uranium deal

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Australia and China enter into Uranium deal
Published in November 11th, 2018
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Monday, April 3, 2006

China has entered into a “nuclear safeguards agreement” which will allow it to purchase uranium from Australia. Under the conditions of the agreement, China must not use Australian uranium for military purposes.

The agreement was signed by Australia’s Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing in the presence of their leaders Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Australia will not allow uranium to be exported to any country which has not entered into a nuclear safeguards agreement. A requirement of this agreement is that the country wishing to purchase uranium must also be a signatory to the UN’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Alexander Downer stated that China needs the uranium for its nuclear energy program. He said “Given China’s high projected growth in electricity demand over the coming years, there are clear environmental benefits in diversifying from fossil fuels to low greenhouse-emission technologies such as nuclear power.”

China is expected to build between 40 to 50 nuclear plants over the next 20 years.

Ian Macfarlane, Austalia’s Resource Minister said that exports should begin within four years and that the agreement was only the beginning of the export process. He told ABC Radio “The signing of this agreement is really only the start of the process,

We need to move forward, there needs to be commercial negotiations between companies in Australia that are producing uranium and companies in China that wish to purchase it” he said.

It is believed that Australia, which holds 40 percent of the world’s uranium, may need to increase production. At present, Australia produces 10,000 tonnes per year. It is expected that China will require 20,000 tonnes a year from Australia.

“Uranium will only be sold by contract to utilities, it cannot be used for military purposes, China will also be subject to international atomic energy safeguards and that means inspections,” Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has stated and continued “Thirdly, there will be a system that will track Australian nuclear material.”

Kevin Rudd, Australian Opposition’s foreign affairs spokesman said that he supported the agreement. Labor’s foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd supports the deal.

“If we have with China effective bilateral safeguards arrangements then there should be no impediment,” he said.

Professor Ian Lowe from the Australian Conservation Foundation said in response to the deal that “This is no time to be increasing the amount of fissile material in the world.”

Christine Milne has commented “Make no mistake — selling Australian uranium to China will make the world less safe.”

France issues pollution alert as ship splits off Basque coast

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France issues pollution alert as ship splits off Basque coast
Published in November 10th, 2018
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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Officials in France have issued a pollution alert after an unladen freighter grounded on a breakwater at Anglet, Basque yesterday. The vessel split in two and is leaking fuel oil.

The Luno had 120–160 cubic metres of fuel aboard when it broke down and high winds and waves pushed it into the breakwater. Helicopters rescued the twelve crewmembers and the only injury was a broken nose. The 100-metre ship was en route to pick up its usual fertiliser cargo and initially officials feared the vessel could spill a load.

The ship has split around the breakwater, one part remaining on the rocks at one side and the other pushed almost to the beach on the other. Junior transport, seas, and fishing minister Frederic Cuvillier is heading to Anglet. Anglet is near the Spanish border, with the ship registered in Spain.

One eyewitness, commenting to BBC News, called the rescuers “brave considering the state of the sea”. She said the ship had tried to anchor itself but broke away.

Object that fell through roof of New Jersey home not a meteorite

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Object that fell through roof of New Jersey home not a meteorite
Published in November 10th, 2018
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Saturday, May 12, 2007

An object that fell through the roof of a New Jersey home in January was not a meteorite, according to Jeremy Delaney, a geologist at Rutgers University. Instead, it appears the object was space junk or orbital debris.

“Basically, it’s a piece of stainless steel. There’s huge amounts of material that have been left by the various space programs of the world,” said Delaney.

The meteorite shaped object was not from a naturally occurring substance and had a silver like reflection. It weighed about the same as a small can of soup, 13 ounces (about 370 grams), but was no bigger than a golf ball.

Earlier during the incident, scientists from Rutgers examined the object visually along with police who were at the scene, and determined it was a meteorite. But further tests by geologists confirmed that it was not a meteorite, but probably a metal piece from a rocket or satellite. They had earlier thought it was made of iron.

“That’s the nature of science. If the conclusion from the test says it’s not a meteorite, then it’s not a meteorite. We have to move forward,” said Srinivasan Nageswaran, a member of the family that found the object.

Senior UK politicians talk at Confederation of British Industry conference

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Senior UK politicians talk at Confederation of British Industry conference
Published in November 10th, 2018
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Monday, November 21, 2016

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn both spoke at the annual Confederation of British Industry conference today, talking about Britain after its planned ‘Brexit’ from the European Union, and future plans for business.

May formally announced plans to cut corporation tax from 20%, without giving details, in order to discourage businesses from leaving the UK post-Brexit. Corbyn said in his speech he believes investment by the government on things such as infrastructure improvements is shared ground between Labour and businesses but “businesses will need to contribute” meaning “some increase in corporation tax” under his administration.

Theresa May also toned down plans to put ordinary workers on corporate boards, a campaign promise from running to become leader of the ruling Conservative Party. She said she is working to create a “model that works for everyone” after consulting firms and the general public, with possible plans including panels or advisory committees. The General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress responded by saying “Theresa May made a clear promise to have workers represented on company boards […] This is not the way to show that you want to govern for ordinary working people.” Jeremy Corbyn also criticised this announcement saying “we need to see genuine employee representation at board level, which the prime minister promised, but I see is already backing away from.”

Theresa May also announced she wishes to spend £2Bn annually in research and development, as well as plans to start a small business research initiative to look into helping innovators get ahead. Jeremy Corbyn however said he plans to spend 3% of the UK’s GDP on R&D, significantly more than specified by May.

Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for the UK’s economy focussed on investment. Speaking at the conference he said “First and foremost, a Labour government will prioritise investing in our economy.” As well as the investment in research, Corbyn also promised funds for areas including house building and infrastructure. This would be controlled by the proposed “National Investment Bank”. Corbyn said “Our National Investment Bank will deliver long term strategic investment in our under-powered infrastructure and provide the patient finance that our businesses need across the country.”

May told the conference she would not give “a running commentary on every twist and turn” of the Brexit negotiations. This comes after allegation in the press that she she has no plan to keep under wraps, a claim that has been backed up by an alleged leaked internal government memo that talks about a “lack of overall negotiation strategy” within government.

UK shopping centre Afflecks Palace secures its future

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UK shopping centre Afflecks Palace secures its future
Published in November 9th, 2018
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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Afflecks Palace, the “iconic, alternative shopping centre” in the Northern Quarter of Manchester in England, United Kingdom, was saved from closure this week after long-running rumours that the market may have to “kick out its traders” due to a dispute between the management of the Afflecks Palace brand and the leaseowner for the building, Bruntwood.

Rumours suggesting that Bruntwood were looking to redevelop the building started early in 2007, when it became apparent that the property developer was not actively seeking to renew the twenty-five year lease that the management of Afflecks Palace had with them concerning the building. These initial fears were added to by news that Bruntwood was looking to redevelop other buildings it owned in the Northern Quarter area, specifically the parking complex opposite Afflecks, with an eye towards taking advantage of the “property boom” in Manchester at the time. There were also fears that if Afflecks did remain open, “rents would rise”.

These initial fears were eventually propagated closer to the end of the year when a letter from the management of Afflecks Palace told individual stall holders that “… management have received no formal response from Bruntwood to a tenancy request notice served in October [2007]”, going on to add that “We can only assume therefore that they do not intend to offer us a new lease”.

Following the release of this letter, public support for Afflecks Palace was quickly made obvious when a 5,000 signature petition was submitted demanding the centre remain open for business. This seemed to prompt talks between Bruntwood and the Afflecks Palace management and, eventually, lead to this week’s news that the market was – indeed – to remain open. The result of the talks was that Bruntwood “bought out” the Afflecks Palace brand.

Bruntwood will manage Afflecks while they look for a new owner who is skilled in running market style businesses

A joint statement between the management of Afflecks Palace and Bruntwood said: “After 26 years of trading, Afflecks’ management has sold their company to Bruntwood in an agreement that protects the future of Afflecks. Bruntwood will manage Afflecks while they look for a new owner who is skilled in running market style businesses and can bring a similar level of enthusiasm and dedication that the existing management has.”

A spokesperson speaking on behalf of Bruntwood also added that: “Never in our 30 year history have we bought one of our customer’s businesses, but Afflecks is a Manchester icon that we wanted to protect. We aren’t however expert in managing markets, so will look for a suitable long term owner. In the meantime, the most important aspect is that we have arrived at a solution with Afflecks management that protects an independent retail environment and provides the existing stallholders with security.”

Traders from the market celebrated the news by holding a party yesterday.

Comedian Stephen Colbert wins NASA space station name contest

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Comedian Stephen Colbert wins NASA space station name contest
Published in November 9th, 2018
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

American comedian Stephen Colbert has won a NASA contest poll to determine the name for a new wing on the International Space Station.

After using his Comedy Central show The Colbert Report to call on fans to vote in the contest, the write-in name “Colbert” topped the poll with 230,539 votes.

NASA officials said they ultimately reserve the right to choose an appropriate name, but have said top vote-getters will receive “the most consideration”. The final decision will be made in April.

Almost 1.2 million total votes were cast in the contest, which ended Friday. “Colbert” received more than 40,000 more voters than the second place runner up, “Serenity”, which was one of the choices NASA put forward.

Colbert has mocked the NASA suggestion on The Colbert Report, saying, “Come on, Serenity? That’s not a space module, that’s a Glade plug-in.”

The contest rules say NASA has the right to choose a name “in accordance with the best interests of the agency.” The rules also say, “Such name may not necessarily be one which is on the list of voted-on candidate names.”

Other modules on the space station are named Unity, Harmony and Destiny.

NASA insiders have told Space.com if they choose not to name the module after the comedian, they may consider naming the station’s new $19 million toilet “Colbert” instead.

Colbert, who plays a narcissistic political pundit on his satirical show, has called on his fans (known as “The Colbert Nation”) to help have other things named after him in the past.

Among his other namesakes are Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle, the mascot of the Saginaw Spirit junior ice hockey team in Michigan; Stephen Jr., a bald eagle born at the San Francisco Zoo; Aptostichus stephencolberti, a species of trapdoor spider; Air Colbert, a Virgin America airplane; and AmeriCone Dream, a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor.

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