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  As Gates Steps Away, Let Us Ponder His LegacyJune 27, 2008 20:50 Microsoft experienced a ritual yesterday that is common to offices across America: a valued employee's last day. Co-workers paused to gather around their departing colleague, speeches were made and perhaps some cake was consumed.

But this employee isn't just any staff member; he is Bill Gates. Although he will remain chairman, his day-to-day role with the company is over. How do you sum up 33 years spent building the world's largest software company? What accomplishments do you highlight? What topics are best avoided for the sake of politeness?

In Gates's case, sometimes it's hard to tell.

The BASIC Way: 1975

Gates and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen wrote an efficient, useful version of this programming language that ran on the first personal computers, opening software development to mere hobbyists. From the first text-only, keyboard-bound MS-DOS releases onward, one of the foremost virtues of Microsoft's operating systems has been the staggering variety of third-party programs available for them.
  European Union To Lift Sanctions On CubaJune 19, 2008 18:16 Members of the European Union decided Thursday to formally lift sanctions on Cuba, a spokeswoman for EU Secretary-General Javier Solana said.

Christina Gallach said the decision, made over dinner during the first day of a planned two-day summit in Brussels, Belgium, will be formally confirmed Monday during an EU council meeting.

The diplomatic sanctions, which limited visits to the Communist island by senior EU personnel, were imposed in 2003 after concerns were raised about human rights in Cuba. The sanctions were suspended in 2005, so lifting them now could be considered a symbolic move.

Plans call for the human rights situation to be reviewed next year.

The move was seen as an attempt to encourage Cuban President Raúl Castro, who recently took the reins of power from his ailing brother, Fidel, to make progress on civil rights, officials said.

At least one EU nation, Sweden, had wanted to see more evidence of progress before taking the step but agreed to go along with the move.

The United States' trade blockade on Cuba, imposed almost 50 years ago, is not affected by the decision, but National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe expressed disappointment over the move.
  Newsman Tim Russert Dies At 58June 13, 2008 13:18 Tim Russert, who became one of America's leading political journalists as the host of NBC's "Meet the Press," died Friday, according to the network. He was 58.

The network said Russert suffered a heart attack while at work and could not be revived. He had just returned from a family vacation in Italy to celebrate the graduation of his son, Luke, from Boston College.

Russert joined the network in 1984 and quickly established himself as the face of the network's political coverage.

In 1985 he supervised live broadcasts of the "Today" show from Rome, negotiating an appearance by Pope John Paul II -- a first for American television.

  Boy Dies Of Dry Drowning After Leaving Pool And Walking HomeJune 06, 2008 10:07 Johnny Jackson, a 10-year-old American boy from South Carolina, died at home on Sunday from "dry drowning" more than an hour after going swimming and walking home with his mother. The sad event highlights a little known danger that parents and child carers should be aware of, that drowning can kill hours after being submersed in water.

Johnny's mother, Cassandra Jackson, told NBC News in a story broadcast on the TODAY show on Thursday that:

"I've never known a child could walk around, talk, speak and their lungs be filled with water."

Johnny must have got some water in his lungs while he was swimming in his local pool at Goose Greek, South Carolina. He didn't show any signs of respiratory distress, but he had an accident in the pool and "soiled himself", said the TODAY report. He then walked home with his mother and sister.

His mother said she bathed him and he told her he felt sleepy. When she went to check on him later she saw his face was covered in a "spongy white material". He was rushed to hospital but it was too late.

According to the latest figures, about 3,600 Americans died from drowning in 2005, said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including a small percentage that die up to 24 hours later because of water entering the respiratory system. A not insignificant number of the victims are children who died after having a bath.
  Pact Needed To Save Biofuels, Expert SaysJune 03, 2008 12:18 World leaders must agree on ways to make biofuels socially and environmentally acceptable before public opinion turns against them for good, a senior United Nations economist said on Tuesday.

Biofuels have opened up deep divisions at a U.N. food summit in Rome, with some promoting them as a green way to wean the world off oil, and others demanding a halt to the transfer of food away from hungry mouths and into fuel tanks.

Once viewed as a way to divert surplus food production into "clean" non-fossil fuel energy, biofuels' contribution to record high food prices have clouded their image. Hunger campaigners have called for policies promoting them to be reversed.

Astrid Agostini, an economist for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, which is hosting the summit, said biofuels could be a benefit for poor farmers and the environment if done correctly.

"It's not black and white. Whether or not bio-energy is a bad idea depends on what's produced and the agricultural methods used," she told Reuters, adding that the summit should pave the way to an international agreement on bio-energy to ensure it is environmentally and socially sound.

"If we go ahead with the business-as-usual scenario where countries push the current policies, we have the danger that public opinion, which is becoming increasingly hostile, will turn against biofuel for good."
  Call for higher food productionJune 03, 2008 11:29 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a 50 percent increase in food production by 2030, saying that failure to feed the world's growing population will spark civil unrest and starvation.

``The world needs to produce more food,'' he said today in the opening speech at the World Food Security conference in Rome. ``While we must respond immediately to high food prices, it is important that our longer-term focus is on improving world security -- and remains so for some years.''

Leaders of developing nations, such as Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, criticized the role subsidies that rich countries pay their farmers have played in stymieing food production, while Western leaders called for more aid to help increase output.

The three-day meeting is being held to cobble together solutions to ensure that the highest commodity prices in three decades don't further swell the ranks of the world's 860 million hungry people. Shortages of staples such as rice threaten to fuel civil unrest, said Ban, who also wants an end to farm subsidies, agricultural taxes and export bans.