Finnish Presidential election held. Niinistö and Halonen goes to the next round

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Helsinki, Finland – The first round the presidential elections were held today. With all (100%) of the votes counted, no candidate reached more than the number of votes necessary to win. The top two candidates, the social-democrat incumbent, Tarja Halonen with 46,4% and the conservative, Sauli Niinistö with 24,1 %, will go the next round in two weeks time, on the 29th. Finland has its presidential election every 6 years and it decided on the alternative vote system of 50%+1.

Finland is a Nordic country with semi-presidential system of government, in which both president and prime minister are heads of government. The role of president of Finland has become smaller the past years due to changes in the constitution, though president is still head of foreign policy and the commender-in-chief of the Finnish Defence Forces.

One of the main issues in this election is Finland’s relation to NATO. Some candidates like Halonen and the green candidate Heidi Hautala oppose and some candidates like Niinistö and Henrik Lax support joining NATO. Though president is not in a position to decide about this, it is considered by some as a signal from the voters if they support NATO supporting or NATO resisting candidates.<br style="clea … Read More

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science officially deemed a charity

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The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science was recently approved as a charitable foundation in the United States. Started by biologist Richard Dawkins in April 2006, the IRS has approved the foundation’s effective date of the tax-exemption as 20 April 2006. As a result, the donors who gave money before the 2007 IRS decision can deduct their donations when they file taxes in 2008.

Dawkins started the foundation to combat pseudoscience and attacks on the Enlightenment through educating the British and American publics via research, humanitarian efforts, and lectures. It intends to finance research into the psychology of belief and religion, finance scientific education programs and materials, and publicize and support secular charitable organizations. In addition, the foundation has helped sponsor the “Out Campaign,” which encourages atheists to come “out of th … Read More

Part of California highway near Big Sur falls into the sea

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A 40-foot section of scenic Highway 1 about 12 miles south of Carmel, California crumbled into the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, preventing access to the popular tourist area of Big Sur from the north.

The collapse of the southbound lane of the two-lane highway, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, follows several days of rain. The soil under the northbound lane is also in danger of giving way. Drivers heading north were blocked at the Bixby Creek Bridge; the rest of the road has been closed to traffic indefinitely. A long closure is expected to hurt the tourist business upon which Big Sur and and the tiny surrounding communities depend.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) said no one was injured.

The section that collapsed is on a curve south of the Rocky Creek Bridge, where the highway clings to the scenic Santa Lucia Mountains, and near the Bixby Creek Bridge, one of the “iconic” arch bridges that make this stretch of the highway with its dramatic vistas such a well-known scenic drive.

The cause of the collapse was not apparent as the road surface looked new, and no seeping water was visible. “It’s basically just nature,” a CHP officer said.

With Highway 1 closed, drivers wishing to access Big Sur from the north could go inland on Highway 101 and pass through the Sali … Read More. To return to the coast drivers must pass over a steep, winding mountainous road. This route adds at least an hour to the journey.

Five dead, ten critically injured after van carrying children rolls on Louisiana highway

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Five people are dead and ten more are in a critical condition after a minivan packed with children rolled over on Louisiana’s Interstate 10 highway yesterday. The vehicle’s driver lost control after a blowout near Baton Rouge.

The vehicle’s driver, who was among the dead, and a front-seat passenger were the only ones wearing seatbelts. There were thirteen children travelling in the back although there were not enough seatbelts and the van likely only had enough rear seats for ten, according to the Louisiana State Police.

The front driver’s side tire on the GMC Safari blew out as the vehicle moved west. The driver lost control of the swerving van, which sideswiped a delivery truck travelling alongside before bouncing across to the center median, where it flipped. It rolled around 200 feet (75 yards) across the median before landing upright in the opposite lanes. Most of the occupants were ejected and four dead children were found lying in the median. No other vehicles were involved and the trucker pulled over uninjured.

Several of the victims were members of the same family from Harvey, 75 miles from the wreck. A three-year-old was amongst the dead. The survivors have been taken to two Baton Rouge hospitals and all are in a critical condition. A CNN photograph showed debris strewn around the scene. “I just saw the vehicle flip about three or four times and kids flying everywhere. It looked to be about 10 to 11 kids out of the car,” said eyewitness Tammy Hall.

Although drugs and alcohol are not believed to have been involved police have confirmed samples will be taken from the driver to check. The road was closed for two-three hours in both directions. None of the victims have yet been publicly i … Read More

Brazilian Medicine Council against Cuban privileges

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The Brazilian Regional Council of Medicine has protested against a Ministry of Education decision to accept the diplomas of Cuban medical school graduates without subjecting them to a more rigorous evaluation process.

Under the Brazilian 44045 Edict of July 19, 1958, all students of Medicine, Brazilian or non-Brazilian, who studied in a foreign institution must undergo a strict evaluation before their professional registration is granted. The law aims to ensure that the physicians who graduated at foreign universities are properly prepared for and familiarized with the particular medical conditions of Brazil. Some diseases like malaria and dengue for example are very rare in some countries but are more common in Brazilian territory.

However the Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC) has come to an agreement with the Cuban government to allow medical students who studied in Cuba to go through a less rigorous examination. Furthermore the MEC wants to exempt the students from the Cuban Escola Latino Americana de Medicina (Latin American Medicine School) or ELAM located in Havana from the examination. Under the agreement, the diplomas of ELAM students would be automatically recognized as valid in Brazil. The Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed the endorsement of this agreement last year during his visit to Cuba.

The Brazilian Regional Council of Medicine from São Paulo is opposed to the idea of accepting the Cuban diplomas and is to dispute the deal in Court. The council says the government decision is unfair and disadvantages Brazilian students. It also says that the decision puts the Brazilian community at risk because of differences between Cuban and Brazilian medical education. Cuban physicians are prepared for Cuban conditions and necessities in health which differ from Brazilian ones. Additionally the council argues that the decision is against the law because the Brazilian 44045 Edict demands that all medical students from foreign schools have to pass a careful examination.

The Cuban First Secretary of Technical and Scientific Collaboration in Health, Filisberto Perez, recognizes that both Brazil and Cuba have different models of apprenticeship in medicine. However he believes that Cuba and Brazil can recognize each other’s diplomas without difficulty.

Early this year, a team of Brazilian inspectors visited the leading medical schools in Cuba to evaluate them so the degrees can be formalized.

The MEC’s decision has angered some Brazilian students. “Why would I study for two years so I could get admitted to a Brazilian school if it would be easier to “buy” my diploma in Cuba?” asks Artur Oliveira Mendes in a email sent to a academic organization. He added: “…our schools of medicine are demoralized before the president’s declaration.”

The Brazilian students who are in Cuba were selected by the PT, PCdoB, and MST.

Senator José Agripino Maia (PFL) asked the Minister of Education Tarso Genro to explain before the Senate Education Commission why the students from Cuba are being favoured by the Brazilian g … Read More

Hong Kong Makes First File-Sharing Arrest

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A 38 year-old man has been arrested by the Customs and Excise Department of Hong Kong, for illegally distributing three copyrighted movies via BitTorrent file-sharing technology. This is the world’s first criminal arrest of its kind.

The unemployed male was arrested last Thursday for uploading “torrents” to a local message board. The torrents allowed people to download three movies from computers at his home in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong. However, the suspect was not immediately charged, and investigations are still underway, according to the Hong Kong Government. The law in Hong Kong allows for a sentence of up to four years in prison, and a US$6,400 fine per violation — defined as a single unauthorized copy of a protected work.

BitTorrent is an ultra-fast file-sharing technology which allows users (or “peers”) to share files of any size via the unused upload bandwidth of other peers, even though their downloads are still in progress. The technology was developed by Bram Cohen three years ago.

In the past several weeks, major BitTorrent websites in the United States have closed down due to, or in order to avoid civil charges initiated recently by the MPAA. According to the former operator of one of these sites, Suprnova.org, software developers have already worked out a solution and are beta-testing a new peer-to-peer program called eXeem. The software will bring together the strengths of Kazaa (another peer-to-peer program) and B … Read More