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Brazil’s Minas state stops sales of Toyota Corolla

Friday, April 23, 2010

Minas, one of the largest states of Brazil, has stopped the sale of the Toyota Corolla over safety concerns.

The move was made after nine Corolla customers reported that their cars automatically accelerated. The state public prosecutor’s office said in an online statement on Tuesday that the problem is blamed on accelerator pedals sticking underneath floor mats. Local government said the issue was “putting in danger the lives of occupants”.

According to the prosecutor’s office, sales of Corollas may resume when Toyota alters the floormats in its current models. Toyota has recalled over eight million vehicles worldwide due to acceleration problems.



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Researchers find preserving spotted owl habitat may not require a tradeoff with wildfire risk after all

Sunday, October 8, 2017

In a study scheduled for publication in the December 1 issue of Forest Ecology and Management, scientists from the University of California, Davis; USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station; and University of Washington have found a way to resolve the conflict that has sprung up between protecting forests from increasingly frequent wildfires and droughts and preserving sufficient habitat for the endangered spotted owl, Strix occidentalis. The study was performed in two national parks in California, United States.

For the past twenty-five years, spotted owl habitat preservation has focused on keeping 70% or more of the total ground area covered by natural tree canopy, a tree density that leaves forests prone to wildfires and trees more likely to die during droughts. Both wildfires and droughts have become more frequent in the years since the program began.

However, the previous studies upon which the 70% figure was based only measured overall canopy coverage. In this work, researchers used aerial LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) imaging technology to scan areas within Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park in California. The regions were analyzed by distribution of foliage, tree height, and the sizes of the spaces between trees and stands. These data were then cross-referenced with decades of field studies showing the locations of hundreds of owl nests. They found that spotted owls clustered in areas with very tall trees and stands almost exclusively, over 150 feet (48 m), avoiding areas that only had moderate or low canopy, regardless of how dense or wide.

“This could fundamentally resolve the management problem because it would allow for reducing small tree density, through fire and thinning,” said lead author Malcolm North, of UC Davis and the USDA Pacific Southwest Research Station. “We’ve been losing the large trees, particularly in these extreme wildfire and high drought-mortality events. This is a way to protect more large tree habitat, which is what the owls want, in a way that makes the forest more resilient to these increasing stressors that are becoming more intense with climate change.”

The spotted owl gained national prominence in the United States during the 1990s, when environmentalists’ efforts to preserve its habitat resulted in federal measures forbidding logging on large swaths of land, as well as federal limits on the sales of harvested wood. There was a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court case which was preceded by lawsuits on the part of timber companies and by years of large protests by timber workers and their communities who feared job losses. For a time, it seemed that the spotted owl was also threatened by competition from the faster-breeding barred owl, which had moved west into its territory.

This is not the only major study of spotted owls to reach the public eye this week. On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the California Spotted Owl Conservation Objectives Report, which analyzes the past several decades of research on the California spotted owl and provides recommendations for ecologically and economically viable conservation.



When To Call On The Professional Foundation Contractors In Pensacola

byAlma Abell

On average, a new home will take approximately five to eight years to settle. This means that all the creaks and cracks that you start to hear when it is quiet or possibly see in the walls above joists are normal but you need to be aware of problems that are not normal with the foundation. What you also need to be aware of is that a simple problem could turn into a worse problem for your foundation when you don’t use Foundation Contractors in Pensacola. You may also be happy to know that not all problems are expensive and may take an easy fix to keep your home structurally sound.

As a homeowner you are probably already well aware of the many facets of your home that require maintaining all year round. Major items such as your heating and cooling systems, roof systems and your foundation need to be checked on a routine basis so as to avoid big problems later on. Specifically, when it comes to your foundation, little problems can be a do-it-yourself project while major issues are only for Foundation Contractors in Pensacola.

The major culprit behind a foundation issue has to do with standing water. If you are noticing problems inside the home such as doors sticking, cracks in your walls or stairs that average more than a 1/4 inch of a hair line fracture need to be addressed. You could easily take care of the aesthetics but you are not handling the underlying issues. If you have a water issue, look around the outside frame of the home and look for puddles that accumulate after a rain.

Check your gutters to make sure they are not clogged and direct all downspouts away from the home. The best recommendation for drains away from the home are french drains and can be installed for a relatively inexpensive amount considering the safety that they will bring to the foundation of the home. Consider this option if you are in fact getting damage to your foundation because of standing water.

Get advice from the professionals if you suspect damage to your foundation. There are company’s such as Ramjacksf.com that offer advice not only on epoxy fixes but also long term solutions such as braces and beams that come in a variety of materials for longer lasting corrections or permanent changes to the foundation.



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Wikinews’ overview of the year 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Also try the 2008 World News Quiz of the year.

What would you tell your grandchildren about 2008 if they asked you about it in, let’s say, 20 years’ time? If the answer to a quiz question was 2008, what would the question be? The year that markets collapsed, or perhaps the year that Obama became US president? Or the year Heath Ledger died?

Let’s take a look at some of the important stories of 2008. Links to the original Wikinews articles are in all the titles.



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Honda wins car, truck of the year, unveils Fit

Monday, January 9, 2006

Honda’s Civic and Ridgeline truck won the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards at the International Auto Show in Detroit. This is the first time a company has won both awards in the same year. The finalists were the Ridgeline, the Ford Explorer SUV and the Nissan Xterra. The awards are intended to recognize vehicles for their innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction, and value.File:Ford Explorer.jpg

Honda also unveiled its latest model the Fit, a US version of the Honda Jazz sold in nonUS markets. The Fit comes with a 109 horsepower engine, antilock brakes, six air bags, fold flat seats, full iPod connectivity, 90.1 cubic feet of passenger and cargo space, and 33 mpg for the city 38 mpg for the highway. A sport package will also include Honda’s first steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The car will go against another two new Japanese subcompacts, the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and will have to wrestle away sales from the category’s current top seller Chevrolet’s Aveo.

The car will start selling in April for around $13,000 to $14,000 as a 2007 model. The company plans to sell 33,000 units of the hatchback in 2006.

Many automakers expect industry wide sales in the US to be between 16 and 17 million units. Honda, which is Japan’s third largest automaker, hopes to gain US market share with the redesigned Civic and the Fit. Honda hopes that the company’s auto sales will rise 4% this year. The fuel-efficient Civic helped increase US market share to 8.6 percent last year, some of those sales were taken from Ford as gas prices rocketed to $3 a gallon. The US market is extremely important for Honda as it receives 64% of its operating profit from the US.



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UN publishes report on 2014 Gaza conflict

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Monday the UN published a summary of its report regarding the inquiry into incidents that had taken place last summer during the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced in November 2014 an inquiry would be made into ten incidents that took place in schools operated by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees. Aside from investigating Israeli strikes on seven of these institutions, the report also examines three cases in which Hamas-owned weaponry was hidden in such schools. Other than the summary, the full 207-page inquiry report is not to be made public.

The inquiry was based on analysis of weaponry, medical reports, videos and still footage. In addition, the investigators relied on testimonies of UN employees and workers from other organizations in the Gaza strip. The investigation, led by former Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, is separate from the investigation led by the UN’s Human Rights Council. Ban added on Monday that he assigned senior managers to consider the recommendations made by the investigators.

Along with the publication of the report, Ban Ki Moon stated in a letter that the harm done to UN institutions that gave shelter to civilians is a “matter of the utmost gravity”. According to UNWRA, the full report indicates that information regarding the humanitarian use of these schools had been transmitted continually to Israel during the conflict.

Mr. Ban also wrote “I am dismayed that Palestinian militant groups would put United Nations schools at risk by using them to hide their arms.”

UNRWA told the Guardian that although it sent the Israeli military the schools’ GPS coordinates, in seven incidents examined by the investigation team the attacks were attributed to Israel. Furthermore, UNRWA has affirmed, as is coinciding with the investigation’s conclusions, that the organization did not transfer arms to Hamas and had developed a mechanism to handle the existence of arms in its facilities with the help of international experts.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded regarding the issue, saying that “Israel makes every effort to avoid harm to sensitive sites” and that “All of the incidents attributed by the report to Israel have already been subject to thorough examinations, and criminal investigations have been launched where relevant.”

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority did not immediately respond.



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Tennis: Justine Henin defeats Jelena Jankovic to win Rogers Cup

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Justine Henin has defeated Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (3), 7-5 to win the prestigeous Rogers Cup.

Justine, who is ranked world number one, has defeated Jankovic in all of their seven encounters. Jankovic is ranked world number three.

Jankovic had an early 4-1 lead, but Justine first pulled even, then went on to win the first set in a tiebreak. Justine went on to win the second set as well, despite first squandering six match points, thus winning her sixth title in the season leading up to the US Open.

“I think both of us played very well and there (were) a lot of great points,”a defeated Jankovic said. “A high level of tennis, so it was great for fans to see that and I really enjoyed it… But unfortunately at the end … I couldn’t hang in there with her.”

“It was tough at the end of the match,” Henin confided to reporters. She also stated that she had received “intensive” physiotherapy the morning prior to the match and had been unsure whether she could play. There was a lot of suspense and intensity and both of us played our best tennis at the end. We both had a lot of opportunities but fortunately I was able to come through in the end. I am very happy to win” she said, adding I had five matches and won them all in two sets so it has been a great week for me,”.

It is Henin’s first tournament since Wimbledon, where she was knocked out in the semi-finals.



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Australia’s Old Parliament House becomes heritage listed

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced on Tuesday that Old Parliament House in Canberra has been heritage listed. It is the 31st entry on the National Heritage List.

The listing acknowledges the role the building has in shaping Australia’s culture and protects it from being modified in any way which could affect its historic value.

Old Parliament House served as the home of Australia’s parliament from 1927 until 1988, when it was relocated to the present parliament house. From 1901-1927, parliament met in Melbourne in the Victorian Parliament House (the state parliament was relocated for 26 years). Before being known as Old Parliament House, the building was known as Provisional Parliament House – as it was intended to be used for 50 years before a permanent building could be built.

In the 61 years the building was used as the seat of parliament, the government changed only seven times, and several new political parties were formed (the Liberals, Anti-Communist Labor Party, and the Australian Democrats).

Mr Howard said the building played an important part in Australia’s political history. “Old Parliament House will always be an important part of our political history with its rich collection of original furniture, art and memorabilia helping to illustrate the story of Australia’s political customs and functions,” he said.

According to Mr Howard, the National Heritage List lists sites which have helped shape the country. “The National Heritage List contains places that have played an important role in the development of our nation, such as Captain Cook’s landing place in New South Wales, Port Arthur in Tasmania and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra,” said the Prime Minister.

The building currently houses Australia’s National Portrait Gallery, and serves as a venue for receptions and exhbitions.



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Lobby groups oppose plans for EU copyright extension

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The European Commission currently has proposals on the table to extend performers’ copyright terms. Described by Professor Martin Kretschmer as the “Beatles Extension Act”, the proposed measure would extend copyright from 50 to 95 years after recording. A vast number of classical tracks are at stake; the copyright on recordings from the fifties and early sixties is nearing its expiration date, after which it would normally enter the public domain or become ‘public property’. E.U. Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services Charlie McCreevy is proposing this extension, and if the other relevant Directorate Generales (Information Society, Consumers, Culture, Trade, Competition, etc.) agree with the proposal, it will be sent to the European Parliament.

Wikinews contacted Erik Josefsson, European Affairs Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (E.F.F.), who invited us to Brussels, the heart of E.U. policy making, to discuss this new proposal and its implications. Expecting an office interview, we arrived to discover that the event was a party and meetup conveniently coinciding with FOSDEM 2008 (the Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting). The meetup was in a sprawling city centre apartment festooned with E.F.F. flags and looked to be a party that would go on into the early hours of the morning with copious food and drink on tap. As more people showed up for the event it turned out that it was a truly international crowd, with guests from all over Europe.

Eddan Katz, the new International Affairs Director of the E.F.F., had come over from the U.S. to connect to the European E.F.F. network, and he gladly took part in our interview. Eddan Katz explained that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is “A non-profit organisation working to protect civil liberties and freedoms online. The E.F.F. has fought for information privacy rights online, in relation to both the government and companies who, with insufficient transparency, collect, aggregate and make abuse of information about individuals.” Another major focus of their advocacy is intellectual property, said Eddan: “The E.F.F. represents what would be the public interest, those parts of society that don’t have a concentration of power, that the private interests do have in terms of lobbying.”

Becky Hogge, Executive Director of the U.K.’s Open Rights Group (O.R.G.), joined our discussion as well. “The goals of the Open Rights Group are very simple: we speak up whenever we see civil, consumer or human rights being affected by the poor implementation or the poor regulation of new technologies,” Becky summarised. “In that sense, people call us -I mean the E.F.F. has been around, in internet years, since the beginning of time- but the Open Rights Group is often called the British E.F.F.

Contents

  • 1 The interview
    • 1.1 Cliff Richard’s pension
    • 1.2 Perpetual patents?
    • 1.3 The fight moves from the U.K. to Europe
    • 1.4 Reclaiming democratic processes in the E.U.
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links


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Google blocks home device from responding to Burger King commercial
This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Friday, April 14, 2017

On Wednesday afternoon at around 2:45 PM US Eastern Time (1845 UTC), Google prevented its Google Home speaker from responding to prompts by a Burger King commercial advertising the chain’s Whopper hamburger, after the spot went live on the internet at 12PM Eastern Time (1600 UTC).

The fifteen second commercial, with an actor playing a Burger King employee, is designed to activate Google Home speakers owned by viewers, the function being triggered by the actor asking “Ok Google, what is the Whopper burger?”. Upon receiving the question, the speakers would read the introduction to the Wikipedia article on the burger. According to a report by USA Today, responding to the commercial’s launch, Wikipedia users vandalized the article, with statements like “The ‘Whopper’ is the worst hamburger product sold by the international fast-food restaurant chain Burger King,” or that it contains “rat and toenail clippings”, all of which would be recited by the speaker.

Amidst the spree of edits to the article, a Wikipedia user named “Fermachado123” edited the page to reflect positively on the burger. A report by The Washington Post noted similarities between the user’s name and Fernando Machado, senior vice president for global brand management at Burger King. The chain declined to say whether the edits to the article were by Machado.

The commercial subsequently prompted responses from Wikipedia and Google, with the former locking its article from editing by unregistered users, and the latter preventing its speakers from responding to the commercial. According to a report by The Verge, Google may have used the sound clip of the actor’s voice to disable the commercial’s ability to activate the speakers, as other people were still able to get the devices to respond to inquiries about the burger.

Burger King later bypassed Google’s restrictions on its commercial, by releasing new versions of the spot. The chain revealed the new versions on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live on Wednesday night. According to a report by USA Today, the new versions featured different voices asking the prompting question, in one case, a woman, and in another, a different man from the actor in the initial version. Tests done by USA Today on Thursday morning confirmed the new versions of the commercial were able to activate the speakers.

Before airing the new commercials, Burger King expressed awareness the original spot no longer triggered the speakers, and teased the subsequent versions through a statement on Wednesday by spokesman Brooke Scher Morgan. “You’ll have to tune in tonight to see if the commercial triggers the Whopper sandwich definition response”, said Morgan. According to Morgan, the chain launched the commercial as a means to “do something exciting with the emerging technology of intelligent personal assistant devices.”

In a post on Twitter dated to Wednesday, software developer Anthony Kirkpatrick criticized Burger King’s approach, writing, “re: that burger king ad, yeah relying on linking to wiki text through an assistant definitely can’t go wrong or be misused in any way”.

Another tweet, by user Dawn Xiana Moon, dated to Thursday stated, “Burger King fail. Hijacking devices isn’t cool. It’s clever, but it’s not going to win friends.”

Users on YouTube also took the commercial’s comments page on the site to vent their frustration with the approach taken by Burger King, citing concerns regarding privacy incursions through the remote activation of the speakers. “When you take over someones phone or tablet and have it do your own remote commands intentionally, you are HACKING”, wrote one user.

According to marketing professor Jonah Berger, a faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, who authored the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Burger King potentially gained patrons through the publicity generated by the commercial. “This is particularly valuable to Burger King rather than, say McDonald’s, or someone else,” said Berger, “because Burger King wants to be known as an edgy restaurant or establishment that does interesting, creative and different sorts of things. It’s part of their brand equity”. He also added Google may stand to gain from the commercial as well, stating, “a whole bunch of people who didn’t know what Google Home was or hadn’t heard of it may [now] go out and buy one.”

Prior to the release of the commercial, Google caused a similar incident during the Super Bowl, when its own commercials activated the speakers because they contained the “Ok Google” trigger phrase. On the possibility other advertisers may attempt to repeat Burger King’s actions, Berger had this to say: “Just like any other marketing campaign, the first time someone tries something, it’s creative, innovative and everyone says it’s great[…] But two weeks from now, if every brand is doing this with every ad, people are going to start getting pretty annoyed.”

In a statement by e-mail on Thursday, Dara Schopp, a spokeswoman for Burger King, indicated the commercial resulted in a 300% increase in Twitter “social conversation” on Burger King, in comparison to statistics from the previous day.

Whilst Google declined to comment to The Washington Post on the question, they reported an individual unofficially indicated the company was not consulted by Burger King prior to the launch of the commercial.



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