Port-au-Prince, Sep 13 (IANS) At least 12 people died in Haiti Tuesday when their bus veered off a mountain highway and rolled down to the ground below, authorities said. The accident took place in Fond Parisien town, some 90 km from the Haitian capital, Xinhua reported. The driver lost control of the bus after the brakes failed, police said.
Berne, Sep 9 (IANS) A good violin depends on the quality of wood and the expertise of its maker. And the Stradivarius exemplifies best what makes a violin truly great. Swiss researcher Francis WMR Schwarze, professor from Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, St. Gallen, Switzerland, has succeeded in modifying the wood for a violin through treatment with special fungi, making it sound indistinguishably similar to a Stradivarius. In the late 17th and early 18th century, the famous violin maker Antonio Stradivari used a special wood that had grown in the cold period between 1645 and 1715. In the long winters and the cool summers, the wood grew especially slowly and evenly, creating low density and a high modulus of elasticity. Until now, modern violin makers could only dream of wood with such tonal qualities. Schwarze's research could soon make similarly good wood available for violin making. He discovered two species of fungi (Physisporinus vitreus and Xylaria longipes), which decay Norway spruce and sycamore - the two important kinds of wood used for violin making - to such an extent that their tonal quality is improved, according to an Empa statement. "Normally fungi reduce the density of the wood, but at the same time they unfortunately reduce the speed with which the sound waves travel through the wood," Schwarze explained. "The unique feature of these fungi is that they gradually degrade the cell walls, thus inducing a thinning of the walls. But even in the late stages of the wood decomposition, a stiff scaffold structure remains via which the sound waves can still travel directly," he added. Besides, the wood remains just as resistant to strain as before the fungal treatment - an important criterion for violin making. Before the wood is further processed to a violin, it is treated with ethylene oxide gas. "No fungus can survive that," Schwarze said. That ensures that fungal growth in the wood of the violin is completely stopped. Together with the violin makers Martin Schleske and Michael Rhonheimer, Schwarze developed violins made of mycowood (wood treated with wood decay fungi). In 2009 the violins were played in a blind, behind-the-curtain test versus a genuine Stradivarius from 1711. All the violins were played by the British violinist Matthew Trusler. The result was surprising for all participants: Both the jury of experts and the majority of the audience thought that the mycowood violin that Schwarze had treated with fungi for nine months was the actual Stradivarius. Schwarze presented these findings at the first ever ECRC "Franz-Volhard" Symposium of the Max Delbruck Centre for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and Charite-Universitatsmedizin in Berlin-Buch.
Paris, Sep 7 (IANS/WAM) The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the UNESCO have signed an agreement on the operation of the the Sharjah-based Regional Centre for Educational Planning (RCEP). The agreement was signed Saturday between UAE's Education Minister and RECP chairman Humaid Mohammed Al Qatami, and Chairman of the RCEP and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. --IANS/WAM sd/vd
Paris, Sep 7 (IANS) France's national football coach Didier Deschamps has left out striker Olivier Giroud for the opening match of 2014 World Cup qualifications against Finland in Helsinki. The 25-year-old Arsenal striker was suffering muscle pains, and Deschamps said Thursday that it was "a bit too risky" to include him in the Finland match slated for Friday night, reports Xinhua. He continued that he hopes Giroud would be ready to face Belarus at Stade de France four days later.
Paris, Sep 4 (IANS) Car sales in France were down 11.4 percent in August as the country's economic woes kept consumers from spending on cars, French car sales federation CCFA said. At the end of August, local car manufacturers sold 96,115 units across France, reported Xinhua. In August, car sales of Citroen fell by 10.6 percent to 28,461 units, while the number in the previous month was 9.9 percent. Renault, the country's second largest car maker, saw sales slump by 20.6 percent to 21,517 units in August. Foreign brands also reported a slowdown, registered a falling of 6.8 percent to 46,128 units in August, the CCFA statement said Monday. The French government has decided to take measures to reinforce production of environmentally-friendly vehicles through an auto sector rescue package.
Paris, Sep 3 (IANS) Singer Rihanna's caused a chaos at a Paris railway station after she revealed her train number and arrival timing details on Twitter resulting in a crowd thronging the venue. The 24-year-old arrived in the Eurostar train, but the situation went out of control due to the presence of a large number of fans waiting to have a glimpse of the singer at Gare du Nord station. "It was absolute chaos, and all Rihanna's fault. What Rihanna did was utterly irresponsible," thesun.co.uk quoted a security chief on the station as saying. "There was a genuine fear among other people at the station," he added. The singer herself complained about the crowd on Twitter and wrote: "The French are f****** insane. I just had to fight my way out of a damn train station."
Paris, Aug 29 (IANS) French steeplechase runner Nour-Eddine Gezzar will have to serve a 10-year ban after a second doping offence, the French Athletics Federation said. The 32-year-old was denied a chance to show up in London Olympics after he tested positive for the banned blood-booster EPO during the French Championships in Angers in June, reports Xinhua. He had previously been banned for two years in 2006 after testing positive for anabolic steroids nandrolone and finasteride, both banned diuretics. Gezzar appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which dismissed his case earlier this month.
Paris, Aug 28 (IANS) Actor Brad Pitt is reportedly planning to serve his own brand of wine from the Miraval estate in France on his wedding day. The 48-year-old, who is ready to tie the knot with fiancee Angelina Jolie, is keen on serving Pink Floyd from his Miraval estate, where the couple are planning to tie the knot. "Guests shouldn't be disappointed in his taste. He's always had a keen interest in wine and after doing his wine steward's course earlier this year, he's pretty much a certified expert," thesun.co.uk quoted a source as saying. "Pink Floyd is one of their own wines from their Miraval estate. Brad's cellar boasts some incredibly rare wines and rivals those of some of the best connoisseurs in Europe," the source added. Pitt and Jolie plan to tie the knot in September with only close family and friends present.
Paris, Aug 28 (IANS) As many as 41,300 people joined the ranks of the unemployed in France in July, a rise of 1.4 percent compared to June, reaching a record high in nearly 13 years, the French labour ministry said. "This continued increase in unemployment reinforces the government's determination to act simultaneously on two fronts: in the short-term by taking the necessary emergency measures and in the long-term by making structural changes to boost reform and employment," the ministry said. Apart from stagnant growth and fragile public finances, French President Francois Hollande inherited a high unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent. He is struggling to honour his pre-election pledge of creating new jobs, reported Xinhua.
Paris, Aug 28 (IANS) Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are on a family vacation in the French town of Le Torquet, where Pitt is shooting a movie. The pair was seen perusing the shops and heading out for dinner. In a toy shop, the couple spent 135 pounds on dolls, dinosaur figures and Barbie clothes. An employee confessed to not even have noticed the famous couple. "I wasn't notified of their visit. I didn't expect it. I didn't even recognise them. I said Bonjour like I do to all my clients and then I saw Brad Pitt. I asked him for an autograph," people.com quoted an employee as saying. "Since Angelina was here with her son last year, the shop has moved, but they found us. I think she must really love the store," the employee said.