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Friday, December 31, 2004
Tsunami death toll passes 125,000
Over 125,000 people are now believed to have been killed in the Asian tsunamis, with millions left without the resources for daily life. A first U.S. military cargo plane arrived with supplies for a devastated town on Friday. Indonesia's health minister warned that Indonesia's death toll alone could reach 100,000, as the scope of the devastation around Banda Aceh became apparent. An international summit is to be held in Indonesia on Thursday, to tackle the aftermath of the Asian tsunami. Planes dropped food into isolated towns, and boxes of aid piled up at the airports as global donations poured into the region. Other villagers complained of hunger, and hospitals ran low on medicine, highlighting the difficulties workers had in delivering supplies. The death toll from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the tsunamis it spawned rose to more than 120,000 on Friday, including about 80,000 deaths in Indonesia, though Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supadi said the toll there could hit 100,000. Aid officials estimated as much as 60% of Banda Aceh was destroyed in the quake and tsunami. Indonesia said supplies had arrived from 18 countries. A Thai navy air base used by U.S. B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War was turned into the hub for the U.S. military-led relief effort for Sri Lanka and India, while a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group from Hong Kong was expected to reach the shores of Sumatra island as early as Saturday. Singapore opened up the Southeast Asian city-state's naval and air forces bases so that donors could drop off supplies there. Sri Lanka reported 28,500 deaths and India more than 7,300. A total of more than 400 were killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya. Thailand's government announced its toll had doubled to more than 4,500 people -- including 2,230 foreigners -- and hopes faded survivors would be found. Teams of forensic experts packed bodies in dry ice. The World Bank pledged $250 million for the victims, bringing the total amount of promised international relief money to close to half a billion dollars, U.N. officials said. Countries continued to increase their pledges: China on Friday said it would give $60 million. Australia upped its pledge by $20 million to $46.7 million. An emergency meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was called for Jan. 6 to discuss the disaster response. Up to 5 million people around the tsunami-struck Indian Ocean do not have access to the basics they need to stay alive, the U.N. World Health Organization said. "Unless the necessary funds are urgently mobilized and coordinated in the field we could see as many fatalities from diseases as we have seen from the actual disaster itself," said Dr. David Nabarro, head of crisis operations at WHO.
First US cargo plane arrives in Sumatra; toll rises to 120,000 San Francisco Chronicle
India sends aid to Sri Lanka, RI, Maldives, Thailand Jakarta Post - Ottawa Citizen - Sydney Morning Herald (subscription) - Ireland Online - all 3,682 related »

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004
China launches launches IPv6 Internet with Certnet2, a high speed Internet Backbone
The announcement, from eight different departments of the Chinese Government, reveals it is the world's largest Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) network. Cernet2, a high-speed internet backbone, connects 25 universities in 20 cities. Cernet, or the China Education and Research Network, has been able to achieve a monstrous speed of up to 40 gigabits per second during a trial run conducted on 7 December. Compared with the current Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4), the new IPv6 is capable of allocating endless IP addresses, and features a transportation speed up to 1000 times faster than the current speed.
China claims world first on nextgen Internet The Inquirer
China launches Cernet2 high-speed Internet backbone AXcess News
TechNewsWorld - TechSpot - Rediff - Telecom Paper (subscription) - all 32 related »
A1 Wireless
Asia struggles with tsunami death
Survivors in seven countries on the shores of the Indian Ocean are scrabbling frantically through debris and devastation for their loved ones as the death toll climbs inexorably towards 40,000. The destruction caused by this recent tsunami left people and governments helpless and hoping for help. On coastline after coastline, the sea disgorged the dead and rescuers fought through a morass of wreckage, mud and body parts. The disaster was unique in encompassing such a large area and so many countries. Aid agencies struggled to cope with the enormity of the disaster. The International Red Cross may have to treble its appeal for funds. Hundreds of relief planes packed with emergency goods would arrive in the region from about two dozen countries within the next 48 hours said The United Nations. Authorities wait for the outbreak of diseases caused by polluted drinking water and the sheer scale of thousands of putrefying bodies. Many of the dead were children. Sunday's giant 9.0-magnitude earthquake cracked the seabed off the Indonesian island of Sumatra. That tectonic movement triggered a tsunami that raced across the Andaman Sea and struck Sri Lanka, southern India, the Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar and resorts packed with Christmas holidaymakers in Thailand. In Sri Lanka, which appeared worst hit, the government said more than 18,700 people were confirmed dead and officials fear the toll will hit 25,000. In Indonesia the death toll on Aceh island had reached 7,072. Along Khao Lak beach on the Thai mainland north of Phuket island, Scandinavian and German tourists, miles of shattered hotels began yielding up their dead, bloated, gashed and mangled bodies -- at least 770 dead, many of them Thai. Officials fear the figure could rise above 60,000. Indonesia said its toll could hit 25,000, while Sri Lankan officials warned up to 25,000 people may have died there. Thailand said its toll may exceed 2,000. Only 112 dead foreigners had been identified.
Tourist dollar packs up its bags Sydney Morning Herald (subscription)
40,000 now confirmed dead Boston Herald
BBC News - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Yahoo News - - all 3,766 related »
Saturday, December 25, 2004
The Da Vinci Code is a great thriller bad bad in history
Best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code", based around a supposed conspiracy at the top of the Christian church, is an entertaining read but historically unprecise. The multi-million selling book by US author Dan Brown will soon to be turned into a Hollywood film. The book, set largely in Paris, marries art, mysticism and religion to claim that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and produced a line of heirs, something supposedly covered up by the church. "The Da Vinci Code" has spent 87 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. More than 20 million copies of the novel are in print worldwide, and the book has been translated into 42 languages.
Da Vinci Code is 'lousy history' BBC News
Da Vinci thriller cracks the book bestseller code The Times
the marketers' code The Age (subscription)
The Age (subscription) - all 8 related »
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Wal-Mart breaks price barrier with Linspire Linux laptop

Wal-Mart is offering a laptop that dives below the $500 pricepoint, and it's no accident the machine, from Linspire, runs a Linux-based operating system. The Balance laptop, at $498, enters a mass market at a price that will undoubtedly accelerate Linux adoption.The laptop comes with the OS, Internet suite, and Microsoft-file compatible office suite and can be used with both dial-up modems and broadband connections. The machine comes with a VIA C3, 1.0 GHz processor, 128 MB of RAM, which is expandable up to 512 MB with SODIMM (Small Outline Dual In-line Memory Modules). It includes a CD-ROM drive and a 14.1-inch LCD screen.Mass marketing Linux with a Balance laptop is one more brick in the wall being erected to support open source, as opposed to proprietary and more expensive software. Earlier this month, IDC underlined the trend in a report that showed the Linux market reaching $38 billion by 2008. "When all manifestations of Linux operating systems are counted, Linux is clearly a mainstream solution," said Vernon Turner, IDC's group vice president and general manager of enterprise computing research.The laptop's included Mozilla Internet suite comes with a fast-functioning browser and email program that can display Web-based forms, PDF documents, images, and multimedia files. The suite's included instant messenger program works with AOL, MSN and Yahoo logins.

Wal-Mart To Sell Sub $500 Laptop Designtechnica
Wal-Mart debuts $498 Linux laptop TechSpot
Enterprise Linux I.T. - Overclockers Club - Search Engine Journal - Elites TV - all 69 related »
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Lenovo, IBM may soon reveal PC unit deal
ComputerWorld -
China's largest PC maker, Lenovo Group Ltd., could announce as early as today that it is buying control of IBM's PC-making business for up to $2 billion, a source familiar with the situation said.

In its first disclosure that a deal may be imminent, Lenovo said it is in acquisition talks with a major technology company, without identifying the firm. It asked the Hong Kong stock exchange to suspend trading in its shares for a second day, reversing an earlier announcement that trade would resume today.

"Such discussions are at an advanced stage, but no definitive agreement or letter of intent has yet been signed," Lenovo said in a statement. "There can be no assurance that any such agreement or letter of intent will be signed.

Lenovo, IBM to Announce Plans for New US-Based PC Company Tonight
Lenovo Seen Aiming for Global Presence Via an Acquisition E-Commerce Times
Guardian - - - MacWorld - all 262 related »
TII Computer Deals at Dell Home Systems 550x600
In a Global Test of Math Skills, US Students Behind the Curve
Washington Post, DC
... The PISA study, conducted every three years, ranked the United States 24th out of 29 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world's richest countries. Students from Finland and South Korea scored best in the survey, which measured the ability of 15-year-olds to solve real-life math problems.
The results suggest that, at the secondary-school level, the learning gap between the United States and its competitors in Europe and Asia is widening. U.S. students continue to lag behind students elsewhere in basic math skills, despite recent gains in standardized tests at the national level.
Finnish teenagers come top again in school skills Financial Times
E for execrable
Finland tops global school table BBC News
Edmonton Journal - Vancouver Sun - all 8 related »
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Is UK on course for best healthcare system in the world?
The UK is well on the way to having the best healthcare system in the world, surpassing that of the US, says leading health strategist, Dr Donald Berwick of the US Institute of Healthcare Improvement. But the UK has to first grapple with three difficult issues, and soon, he warns in Quality and Safety in Health Care, if it is to make good on its efforts to date. Both the US and the UK are "strikingly similar" in the problems they face in improving their respective healthcare systems, writes Dr Berwick. But if asked to bet on which country will succeed in resolving them, "my money will be on the UK," he declares. "The biggest reason is simple," he writes. "The UK has people in charge of its health care - people with the clear duty and much of the authority to take on the challenge of changing the system as a whole." "When it comes to health care as a nation, the US is leaderless," he says, describing the US healthcare system as "pluralistic, chaotic, leaderless." The "key resource" for the NHS, he says, "has been the consistent focus of government, emanating from the Prime Minister personally, on raising the bar for NHS performance." While acknowledging that happiness is not legion in the NHS, Dr Berwick says that the inevitable stumbles on the path to reform bear testimony to the enormity of the ambition. "No honest observer can fail to credit the process with immense productive change, headed for real measurable successes, in a behemoth system that could easily seem unchangeable," he opines. But he continues: "Three tough issues lie between the good successes that are almost in hand and the great ones that could be." For one, the UK healthcare system is still too fragmented, he says, with acute care and primary care providers distrustful of each other and frequently working within different systems of planning, action, and patient care. Secondly, British patients are still far too passive, and British clinicians "habitually more controlling" than is good for either party, he suggests. Patient centred care is more than a political agenda, he writes, research shows that it is better for the health of patients, he says. Thirdly, current training and education of health professionals falls far short of the qualities required to foster and nourish change. He cites systems thinking, statistics, measurement, cooperation, group process, teamwork and "pragmatic 'real time science'" among the list of key but absent disciplines. "The omission is costly now, and will be more costly in the future, as the workforce continues to be ill prepared to cope with - let alone to lead - a new evidence based, reliable, patient centred, efficient, and safe system of care," he contends.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
The 'Blogs' Top Online Dictionary List
"Blogs" or "Weblogs" are the most-frequently requested definition at Merriam-Webster's online dictionary site. A blog is "a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by writers." The recent U.S. presidential election was notable for the prominent use of blogs, as people debated the merits of the two main candidates. Blogs are not just used for political purposes, they are often used by people as public diaries, to record aspects of their life. Many newspapers regularly feature blogs in online editions. "While most of our online dictionary lookups are for slightly difficult but still generic non-specialized vocabulary, it does sometimes happen that words in the headlines so grab people's attention that they become a most frequently looked-up word," John M. Morse, president and publisher of Merriam-Webster, says in a statement. "That is what occurred in this year's election cycle, with voluminous hits for words like 'incumbent,' 'electoral,' 'partisan,' and, of course, our number one word of the year, 'blog.'" Initially, people were requesting a definition for blog, and the word was not even officially in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the company admitted. "Most of the words in the top 10 list that people look up are in our dictionary," Arthur Bicknell, senior publicist at Merriam-Webster, told NewsFactor. "But 'blog' was not in the dictionary, as it was scheduled to be included in the 2005 annual updates of Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary due out early next year. So our lexicographers placed a definition of 'blog' on our Web site." The 2004 Merriam-Webster's words of the year list is based on users' anonymous hits to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and Online Thesaurus as well as lookups on Merriam-Webster
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