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California meat packing firm recalls 143M pounds of beef

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I am dismayed at the in-humane handling of cattle that has resulted in the violation of food safety regulations at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company.

In a press release today, California-based Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. indicated that it has voluntarily recalled just over 143 million pounds (65 million kilograms) of raw and frozen beef products, which is considered to be the largest single recall of beef products in U.S. history. The move follows an investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) into allegations of animal cruelty and mishandling of cattle destined for the human food chain.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) had determined that beef products produced by the Chino, California company were unfit for human consumption as the cattle had not received “complete and proper inspection.”

The recall has been designated as Class II, which the USDA describes as “a health hazard situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of the product.”

On Friday, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer indicated that charges had been laid against employees of the plant alleged to have taken part in the mistreatment of cattle. “Today [Friday], the San Bernardino District Attorney filed felony animal cruelty charges against two employees who were terminated by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company,” said Schafer. “It is regrettable that these animals were mistreated and I am encouraged and supportive of these actions by the San Bernardino District Attorney in response to this mistreatment.”

The USDA learned of the possible inhumane handling of non-ambulatory (disabled) cattle at the packing plant on January 30 and has since suspended activities at the plant. “We continue to conduct a thorough investigation into whether any violations of food safety or additional humane handling regulations have occurred,” said Secretary Schafer in a press release. “On February 8, our Office of the Inspector General took the lead on the investigation. At that time, USDA extended the administrative hold on Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company products for the National School Lunch Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations while the investigation continues,” said Schafer.

The FSIS reported that Hallmark/Westland had not contacted the FSIS public health veterinarian, as required, when cattle became ill or disabled after undergoing ante-mortem (slaughter) inspection, putting the company out of compliance with FSIS regulations. “Because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection FSIS has determined them to be unfit for human food and the company is conducting a recall,” explained Secretary Schafer.

The cruelty charges stem from an undercover video that reportedly showed sick cattle being moved by crews using forklifts.

“Words cannot accurately express how shocked and horrified I was at the depictions contained on the video that was taken by an individual who worked at our facility from October 3 thru November 14, 2007,” said Steve Mendell, President, Westland Meat Co. and Hallmark Meat Packing. “We have taken swift action regarding the two employees identified on the video and have already implemented aggressive measures to ensure all employees follow our humane handling policies and procedures. We are also cooperating with the USDA investigators on the allegations of inhumane handling treatment which is a serious breech of our company’s policies and training.”

The USDA stressed that it is “extremely unlikely” that the cattle involved were at risk for Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad-cow disease due to the employment of multiple safeguards. The USDA felt the recall was required, however, as the plant had allegedly violated USDA regulations.

The recall involves raw and frozen beef products produced on various dates from February 1, 2006 to February 2, 2008. For further information about the recall, consumers, media, and distributors are encouraged to contact Hallmark/Westland’s Plant Manager Stan Mendell or Food Safety Consultant Steve Sayer at (909) 590-3340 or the FSIS website, www.fsis.usda.gov.



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Payment pending; Canadian recording industry set for six billion penalties?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A report published last week in the Toronto Star by Professor Michael Geist of Canada’s University of Ottawa claims a copyright case under the Class Proceedings Act of 1992 may see the country’s largest players in the music industry facing upwards of C$6 billion in penalties.

The case is being led by the family and estate of the late jazz musician Chet Baker; moving to take legal action against four major labels in the country, and their parent companies. The dispute centres around unpaid royalties and licensing fees for use of Baker’s music, and hundreds of thousands of other works. The suit was initially filed in August last year, but amended and reissued on October 6, two months later. At that point both the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) and Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors (SODRAC) were also named defendants.

January this year SODRAC and CMRRA switch sides, joining Baker et al. as plaintiffs against Sony BMG Music, EMI Music Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. David A. Basskin, President and CEO of CMRRA, with a professional law background, stated in a sworn affidavit that his organisation made numerous attempts over the last 20 years to reduce what is known as the “pending list”, a list of works not correctly licensed for reproduction; a list of copyright infringements in the eyes of the Baker legal team.

The theoretical principle of the list is to allow timely commercial release while rights and apportionment of monies due are resolved. Basskin complains that it is “economically infeasible to implement the systems that would be needed to resolve the issues internally”. And, “[…] for their part, the record labels have generally been unwilling to take the steps that, in the view of CMRRA, would help to resolve the problem.”

The Baker action demands that the four named major labels pay for and submit to an independent audit of their books, “including the contents of the ‘Pending Lists'”. Seeking an assessment of gains made by the record companies in “failure or refusal to compensate the class members for their musical works”, additional demands are for either damages and profits per the law applicable in a class action, or statutory damages per the Copyright Act for copyright infringement.

[…] for their part, the record labels have generally been unwilling to take the steps that, in the view of CMRRA, would help to resolve the problem.

This forms the basis for Professor Geist’s six billion dollar calculation along with Basskin’s sworn testimony that the pending lists cover over 300,000 items; with each item counted as an infringement, the minimum statutory damages per case are CA$500, the maximum $20,000.

Basskin’s affidavit on behalf of CMRRA goes into detail on the history leading up to the current situation and class action lawsuit; a previous compulsory license scheme, with poor recordkeeping requirements, and which, had a decline in real terms to one of the lowest fees in the world, was eventually abolished and the mechanical license system introduced. The CMRRA went on to become a significant representative of music publishers and copyright holders, and the pending list an instrument to deal with situations where mechanical rights were as-yet not completely negotiated. Basskin’s affidavit claiming the list grew and circumstances worsened as time progressed.

The Mechanical Licensing Agreement (MLA) between the “majors'” industry body, an attached exhibit to the affidavit, is set to expire December 31, 2012; this is between CMRRA and the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). With the original MLA expiring at end September 1990, CMRRA negotiated more detailed terms and a “code of conduct”. Subsequent agreements were drawn up in 1998, 2004, 2006, and 2008.

Basskin asserts that the named record company defendants are the “major” labels in Canada and states they “are also responsible for creating, maintaining and administering the so-called “Pending Lists” that are the subject of the current litigation”; that, specific to publishing, divisions of the four represent the “‘major’ music publishers active in Canada”. Yet the number of music publishers they represent has decreased over time due to consolidation and defection from the CRIA.

Geist summarizes the record company strategy as “exploit now, pay later if at all”. This despite the CMRRA and SODRAC being required to give lists of all collections they represented to record labels, and for record labels to supply copies of material being released to permit assessment of content that either group may represent interested parties for. Where actual Mechanical License Agreements are in place, Basskin implies their terms are particularly broad and preclude any party exercising their legal right to decline to license.

Specific to the current Mechanical Licensing Agreement (MLA) between the CMRRA and the CRIA; a “label is required to provide an updated cumulative Pending List to CMRRA with each quarterly payment of royalties under the MLA.” The CMRRA is required to review the list and collect where appropriate royalties and interest due. Basskin describes his first encounter with pending lists, having never heard of them before 1989, thus:

[…I]n the early years of my tenure, CRMMA received Pending Lists from the record labels in the form of paper printouts of information. The information contained on these lists varied from record label to record label, [… i]n fact, within a few days after my arrival at CMRRA, I recall my predecessor, Paul Berry, directing my attention to a large stack of paper, about two feet high. and informing me that it was PolyGram’s most recent Pending List. Prior to that introduction I had never heard of Pending Lists.

Alain Lauzon, General Manager of Canada’s Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SODRAC) submitted his followup affidavit January 28, 2009 to be attached to the case and identify the society as a plaintiff. As such, he up-front states “I have knowledge of the matters set out herein.” Lauzon, a qualified Chartered Accountant with an IT specialisation, joined SODRAC in 2002 with “over 20 years of business experience.” He is responsible for “negotiation and administration of industry-wide agreements for the licensing of music reproduction and distribution”; licensing of radio and online music services use is within his remit.

Lauzon makes it clear that Baker’s estate, other rightsholders enjoined to the case, SODRAC, and CMRRA, have reached an agreed settlement; they wish to move forward with a class proceeding against the four main members of the CRIA. He requests that the court recognise this in relation to the initially accepted case from August 2008.

The responsibility to obtain mechanical licenses for recordings manufactured and/or released in Canada falls with the Canadian labels by law, by industry custom, and by contractual agreement.

The preamble of the affidavit continues to express strong agreement with that of David Basskin from CMRRA. Lauzon concurs regarding growing use of “pending lists” and that “[…] record labels have generally been unwilling to take the steps that would help to resolve the Pending List problem.”

With his background as an authority, Lauzon states with confidence that SODRAC represents “approximately 10 to 15% of all musical works that are reproduced on sound recordings sold in Canada.” For Quebec the figure is more than 50%.

Lauzon agrees that the four named record company defendants are the “major” labels in Canada, and that smaller independent labels will usually work with them or an independent distribution company; and Basskin’s statement that “[t]he responsibility to obtain mechanical licenses for recordings manufactured and/or released in Canada falls with the Canadian labels by law, by industry custom, and by contractual agreement.”

Wikinews attempted to contact people at the four named defendant CRIA-member record labels. The recipient of an email that Wikinews sent to Warner Brothers Canada forwarded our initial correspondence to Hogarth PR; the other three majors failed to respond in a timely fashion. Don Hogarth responded to Wikinewsie Brian McNeil, and, without addressing any of the submitted questions, recommended a blog entry by Barry Sookman as, what he claimed is, a more accurate representation of the facts of the case.

I am aware of another viewpoint that provides a reasonably deep explanation of the facts, at www.barrysookman.com. If you check the bio on his site, you’ll see that he is very qualified to speak on these issues. This may answer some of your questions. I hope that helps.

Sookman is a lobbyist at the Canadian Parliament who works in the employ of the the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). Hogarth gave no indication or disclosure of this; his direction to the blog is to a posting with numerous factual inaccuracies, misdirecting statements, or possibly even lies; if not lies, Sookman is undoubtedly not careful or “very qualified” in the way he speaks on the issue.

Sookman’s blog post opens with a blast at Professor Geist: “his attacks use exaggeration, misleading information and half truths to achieve his obvious ends”. Sookman attempts to dismiss any newsworthiness in Geist’s article;

[… A]s if something new has happened with the case. In fact, the case was started in August 2008 (not October 2008 as asserted by Prof. Geist). It also hasn’t only been going on “for the past year”, as he claims. Chet Baker isn’t “about to add a new claim to fame”. Despite having started over a year and a half ago, the class action case hasn’t even been certified yet. So why the fervour to publicise the case now?
HAVE YOUR SAY
Should the court use admitted unpaid amounts, or maximum statutory damages – as the record industry normally seeks against filesharers?
Add or view comments

As the extracted [see right] stamp, date, and signature, shows, the court accepted amendments to the case and its submission, as Professor Geist asserts, on October 6. The previously mentioned submissions by the heads of CMRRA and SODRAC were indeed actions within the past year; that of SODRAC’s Alain Louzon being January 28 this year.

Sookman continues his attack on Professor Geist, omitting that the reverse appears the case; analysis of his blog’s sitemap reveals he wrote a 44-page attack on Professor Geist in February 2008, accusing him of manipulating the media and using influence on Facebook to oppose copyright reform favourable to the CRIA. In the more current post he states:

Prof. Geist tries to taint the recording industry as blatant copyright infringers, without ever delving into the industry wide accepted custom for clearing mechanical rights. The pending list system, which has been around for decades, represents an agreed upon industry wide consensus that songwriters, music publishers (who represent songwriters) and the recording industry use and rely on to ensure that music gets released and to the market efficiently and the proper copyright owners get compensated.

This characterisation of the pending list only matches court records in that it “has been around for decades”. CMRRA’s Basskin, a lawyer and industry insider, goes into great detail on the major labels resisting twenty years of collective societies fighting, and failing, to negotiate a situation where the labels take adequate measures to mechanically license works and pay due fees, royalties, and accrued interest.

What Sookman clearly overlooks is that, without factoring in any interest amounts, the dollar value of the pending list is increasing, as shown with the following two tables for mid-2008.

As is clear, there is an increase of C$1,101,987.83 in a three-month period. Should this rate of increase in the value of the pending list continue and Sony’s unvalued pending list be factored in, the CRIA’s four major labels will have an outstanding debt of at least C$73 million by end-2012 when the association’s Mechanical Licensing Agreement runs out.



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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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Sizzler salad bars shut after rat poison found in food

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

The Sizzler Restaurant franchise in Australia has closed the salad bars in all of its 29 restaurants across the country, after rat poison was discovered in food at two of the chain’s outlets in Brisbane. Self-serve salad bars at the restaurants have been closed in response to a sabotage scare. Sizzler Australia Managing Director Bo Ryan said customer safety was always the restaurant chain’s first priority.

A media release on the Sizzler website states: “As a precautionary measure and because customer health and safety is our number one priority, we have temporarily closed salad bars in all Sizzler Restaurants. We sincerely apologise for this major inconvenience.”

Police said green pellets were found in pasta sauce at a Sizzler restaurant in Brisbane’s inner-west on January 20. A regular customer at the Toowong restaurant told Sizzler staff she had found something odd in her bolognese pasta sauce. Similar pellets were found in a vegetable soup at Sizzler’s Myer Centre outlet in the city about 5pm on Saturday.

Bo Ryan said the decision to close all of its Australian salad bars was made after laboratory tests confirmed that the substance in the pasta sauce was indeed rat poison. He said trainees who tasted the poisoned soup had been been taken to hospital by ambulance as a precaution, but had suffered no ill effects.

Queensland Police Inspector Bob Hytch said no one had been reported ill as a result of eating the poisoned food and there had been no extortion threats. Sarah Kenny, a university student, said she and two friends had eaten spaghetti bolognese that “tasted really weird”.

“The inconvenience to customers and the economic impact on the company and its 1600 employees will be severe, but as a family restaurant our first priority is the welfare of our diners,” said Bo Ryan. “Steak and seafood and a limited range of salads would continue to be available.” He hopes that customers will understand the action was taken in their best interests, and that “they can be patient while temporary product security procedures are developed and implemented in all restaurants.”

The 29 Australian Sizzler Restaurants, along with 107 Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets are operated by the Collins Foods Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Worldwide Restaurant Concepts Inc. Mr Ryan said Sizzler was assessing measures which could be taken to prevent a recurrence of the sabotage. “As soon as new measures are introduced, over and above existing strict protocols, we will reassess the situation,” he said.



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Al Sharpton speaks out on race, rights and what bothers him about his critics

Monday, December 3, 2007

At Thanksgiving dinner David Shankbone told his white middle class family that he was to interview Reverend Al Sharpton that Saturday. The announcement caused an impassioned discussion about the civil rights leader’s work, the problems facing the black community and whether Sharpton helps or hurts his cause. Opinion was divided. “He’s an opportunist.” “He only stirs things up.” “Why do I always see his face when there’s a problem?”

Shankbone went to the National Action Network’s headquarters in Harlem with this Thanksgiving discussion to inform the conversation. Below is his interview with Al Sharpton on everything from Tawana Brawley, his purported feud with Barack Obama, criticism by influential African Americans such as Clarence Page, his experience running for President, to how he never expected he would see fifty (he is now 53). “People would say to me, ‘Now that I hear you, even if I disagree with you I don’t think you’re as bad as I thought,'” said Sharpton. “I would say, ‘Let me ask you a question: what was “bad as you thought”?’ And they couldn’t say. They don’t know why they think you’re bad, they just know you’re supposed to be bad because the right wing tells them you’re bad.”

Contents

  • 1 Sharpton’s beginnings in the movement
  • 2 James Brown: a father to Sharpton
  • 3 Criticism: Sharpton is always there
  • 4 Tawana Brawley to Megan Williams
  • 5 Sharpton and the African-American media
  • 6 Why the need for an Al Sharpton?
  • 7 Al Sharpton and Presidential Politics
  • 8 On Barack Obama
  • 9 The Iraq War
  • 10 Sharpton as a symbol
  • 11 Blacks and whites and talking about race
  • 12 Don Imus, Michael Richards and Dog The Bounty Hunter
  • 13 Sources


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George Bush: Rescue plan will get through

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

George W. Bush vowed to get the USD 700 billion economic rescue plan through congress in a statement to the media made today.

“Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted on a financial rescue plan that had been negotiated by Congressional leaders of both parties and my administration,” Bush reminded the audience. “Unfortunately, the measure was defeated by a narrow margin. I’m disappointed by the outcome, but I assure our citizens and citizens around the world that this is not the end of the legislative process.”

“Producing legislation is complicated, and it can be contentious. It matters little what a path a bill takes to become law,” he continued. “We’re at a critical moment for our economy, and we need legislation that decisively address the troubled assets now clogging the financial system, helps lenders resume the flow of credit to consumers and businesses, and allows the American economy to get moving again.”

Market Data

23:45, 30 September, 2008 (UTC)
  • DJIA
  • 10.850,70 485,21 4,68%
  • Nasdaq
  • 2.082,33 98,60 4.97%
  • S&P 500
  • 1.166,36 59,97 5,42%
  • S&P TSX
  • 11.752,90 467,83 4.15%
  • IPC
  • 24.888,90 933,23 3,90%
  • Merval
  • 1.598,170 52.720 3,41%
  • Bovespa
  • 49.541,27 3,513.21 7,63%
  • FTSE 100
  • 4.902,45 83,68 1,74%
  • DAX
  • 5.831,02 23,94 0,41%
  • CAC 40
  • 4.032,10 78,62 1,99%
  • SMI
  • 6.654,89 154,76 2,38%
  • AEX
  • 331,45 7,90 2,44%
  • BEL20
  • 2.672,20 82,73 3,19%
  • MIBTel
  • 19.512,00 110,00 0,56%
  • IBEX 35
  • 10.987,50 41,80 0,38%
  • All Ordinaries
  • 4.631,30 207,90 4,30%
  • Nikkei
  • 11.259,90 483,75 4,12%
  • Hang Seng
  • 18.016,20 135,53 0,76%
  • SSE Composite
  • 2.293,78 3,72 0,16%

    “I recognize this is a difficult vote for members of Congress. Many of them don’t like the fact that our economy has reached this point, and I understand that. But the reality is that we are in an urgent situation, and the consequences will grow worse each day if we do not act. The dramatic drop in the stock market that we saw yesterday will have a direct impact on the retirement accounts, pension funds, and personal savings of millions of our citizens. And if our nation continues on this course, the economic damage will be painful and lasting.”World and US markets today are up after severe declines yesterday. Most have recovered 30% of their previous losses, meaning that the potential government expenditure was similar to the market losses.

    Bush then said that he knows “many Americans are especially worried about the cost of the legislation.” He then attempted to justify the cost. “The bill the House considered yesterday commits up to 700 billion taxpayer dollars to purchase troubled assets from banks and other financial institutions. That, no question, is a large amount of money. We’re also dealing with a large problem. But to put that in perspective, the drop in the stock market yesterday represented more than a trillion dollars in losses.”

    If passed, the bailout plan would have allowed for the United States government to purchase devalued mortgage backed securities, resulting from the subprime mortgage crisis, from troubled financial institutions. The US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the plan could cost up to $700 billion.



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    Time Warner/Comcast bid to snap up Adelphia cable service

    April 9, 2005

    A bid topping $17.7 billion was jointly proffered by Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corporation on Thursday to buy beleaguered Adelphia Communications Corporation in an industry consolidation move. Adelphia is the fifth largest cable service provider in the United States with nearly 5 million subscribers.

    The market-share grabbing bid trumps the previous Cablevision offer of $16.5 billion. The bid is under scrutiny by the presiding judge over the Adelphia’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, and must also be approved by the company’s creditors owed in the range of $20 million.

    The acquisition race to gain dominance in the cable service provider market is driven by the high cost of installation and maintenance of cable lines. Fiber optic networks deliver traditional entertainment programming over a cable wire and is becoming increasingly popular for broadband internet content. The growing trust and recognition of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) suggests phone service subscribers will eventually migrate to cable voice communication as opposed to keeping with traditional copper land lines. Telephone company operators are scrambling to keep up.

    The largest percentage of the bid would be put up by Time Warner (TW), who could gain by getting subscribers from the valuable Los Angeles market currently owned by Comcast and Adelphia. TW can also simultaneously divest itself of a stake owned by Comcast in TW by making a tax-free swap using some of the newly garnered Adelphia subscribers.

    While the consolidation would likely get a look by the government with an eye towards a growing monopoly in the market, it would doubtfully be blocked considering the existence of competing technologies. Competition exists in the form of still numerous television by airwaves usage, satellite providers, radio content companies, and telecom providers.

    Adelphia suffered a corporate scandal in 1992 with similarities to the WorldCom fall. Members of the Rigas family, founders of the company, were alleged to have siphoned off millions of dollars and hidden $2.3 billion leading to the bankruptcy filing. John Rigas and son Timothy were convicted July of 2004 and await sentencing.



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    No hotel previously on site of proposed Buffalo, N.Y. hotel location
    Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
    Recent Developments
    • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
    • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
    • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
    • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
    • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
    • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
    • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
    Original Story
    • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

    Saturday, March 4, 2006

    Buffalo, New York —The Common Council requested on Tuesday that a picture be found on what many thought was the site of a previous hotel.

    The Proposed Elmwood Village Hotel would be placed on the intersection of Elmwood and Forest. It was suspected by residents and business owners in the area that hotel once stood in the same spot.

    The Elmwood Village hotel is a proposed development by Savarino Construction Services Corp. In order for the project to proceed, at least five buildings (1119-1121 Elmwood) would need to be demolished. All five houses are currently occupied by businesses and residents.

    After some research, a freelance journalist writing for Wikinews was able to determine that there was never a hotel on the proposed Elmwood Village Hotel site. However; there was a temporary hotel located on the northeast corner of Elmwood and Forest.

    Buffalo was the host of the Pan-American Exposition from May 1 until November 2, 1901. It was a fair designed to feature the latest in technology, including electricity. There was a midway, athletic events, and had African, Eskimo, and Mexican villages. However; what is likely the most famous event that took place at the exposition was the assassination of then President William McKinley on September 6, 1901. He was shot by Leon Czolgosz just outside the Temple of Music and died eight days later while in the home of John Milburn on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Just a short time later, Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated on September 14, 1901 at the Wilcox House on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Nearly eight million people attended the exposition.

    During that time several hotels and rooming houses were built around the exposition including The Elmwood at 717 Elmwood, the Hotel Elmhurst at Forest and Lincoln Parkway, Hotel Gibbs 1005-1021 Elmwood, the R. Palmerton Merritt at 441 Forest and The Norman at 422 Forest. None of these hotels or rooming houses exist today.

    Probably the most famous hotel that was built during the exposition was the Statler’s Pan-American Hotel built by Ellsworth Milton Statler A freelance journalist writing for Wikinews has obtained the only known reproduction photo of the hotel [pictured at the top]. The hotel stood on the northeast corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo, had 2,100 sleeping rooms and accommodations for 5,000. At the time, the Statler was the largest hotel [based on the number of rooms] ever constructed. It was also the largest temporary hotel. It was three stories high, plastered on the inside, made mostly of wood and was covered with ornamental staff on the outside, which made it semi-fireproof. Every room was an outside room and was well lighted and ventilated. It was located within one block of the exposition’s main entrance.

    The Statler was built for only one thing, the exposition. Work began in 1900 and finished just before the beginning of the exposition. When the exposition ended in November, the hotel was taken down.

    Maps from 1894 show that there was no hotel, let alone any buildings or houses on the intersection. However; research did show that the homes 1119-1121 Elmwood, the buildings that would be demolished to build the Elmwood Village Hotel, were built sometime before 1915 but were not on the intersection prior to 1902.

    Based on research conducted at the Buffalo Historical Society, it was concluded that between the years of 1890 and 1902, no other major hotel existed in the area. In fact, research had shown that almost every hotel built in the area, existed only during the time of the exposition.

    Research also indicated a hotel or a rooming house at 1089 Elmwood around 1901-1903. The only known name of the hotel was the John C. Hill Hotel. The hotel was in the house now called the Atwater House. The house was the first house to be built on the east side of the block.

    The Atwater House is currently vacant and owner Pano Georgiadis wants to demolish it to expand his restaurant. The house was built by 1894 and the original owner and builder of the house is currently unknown. Its earliest known occupant was Edward Atwater who in 1862 founded the oil refinery company of Atwater & Hawes in Buffalo. The site of this company was recently uncovered in the Canal District during an archeological dig.

    At the moment, current research does not show any connection between the two men.

    The exposition was a commercial failure and what profit Statler did make on the hotel, went to build another temporary hotel for the 1904 St. Louis Exhibition. That hotel was successful and the profit made from it was used to build the first permanent Statler Hotel at 107 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. The hotel is no longer in operation, but small offices are currently operating in parts of the building.



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    Gastric bypass surgery performed by remote control

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    A robotic system at Stanford Medical Center was used to perform a laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery successfully with a theoretically similar rate of complications to that seen in standard operations. However, as there were only 10 people in the experimental group (and another 10 in the control group), this is not a statistically significant sample.

    If this surgical procedure is as successful in large-scale studies, it may lead the way for the use of robotic surgery in even more delicate procedures, such as heart surgery. Note that this is not a fully automated system, as a human doctor controls the operation via remote control. Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is a treatment for obesity.

    There were concerns that doctors, in the future, might only be trained in the remote control procedure. Ronald G. Latimer, M.D., of Santa Barbara, CA, warned “The fact that surgeons may have to open the patient or might actually need to revert to standard laparoscopic techniques demands that this basic training be a requirement before a robot is purchased. Robots do malfunction, so a backup system is imperative. We should not be seduced to buy this instrument to train surgeons if they are not able to do the primary operations themselves.”

    There are precedents for just such a problem occurring. A previous “new technology”, the electrocardiogram (ECG), has lead to a lack of basic education on the older technology, the stethoscope. As a result, many heart conditions now go undiagnosed, especially in children and others who rarely undergo an ECG procedure.



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    University of Southern California spit test predicts cavities

    Monday, February 21, 2005

    Los Angeles, California –A simple saliva test can predict whether children will get cavities, how many cavities they will get and which teeth are most vulnerable.

    Developed by researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the test quantifies the genetic component of tooth decay, spotting the risk when something can be done about it.

    “When we apply this to young children, it allows us to predict what might be their future caries history—the number of cavities that they’ll get by, say, their late 20s or early 30s,” says researcher Paul Denny.

    Called the Caries Assessment and Risk Evaluation (CARE) test, the test measures the relative proportions in saliva of different types of sugar chains called oligosaccharides. The same sugar chains are present on tooth surfaces.

    The effect of sugar chains on teeth’s resistance to disease is analogous to the effect of “good” and “bad” cholesterol on blood vessels. “Good” sugar chains tend to repel bacteria that cause cavities while “bad” allow bacteria to bond to teeth and start the decay process. Unlike cholesterol, however, sugar chain makeup in humans is 100% genetically determined.

    Denny and colleagues have found that the sugar chain makeup in saliva can predict a child’s future cavity history to plus or minus one cavity with greater than 98% confidence.

    The findings suggest that in developed areas of the modern era genes play a more significant role in tooth decay than in former times or third world nations where gross malnutrition and negligent oral hygiene held the greatest impact on dental health.

    [edit]