US stock markets fall amid credit fears

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 280 points, Friday, to 13181.91, just two weeks after soaring to a historic record of 14,000. Two other major indexes, the Nasdaq and the Standard and Poor 500, fell more than 2% in a widespread market sell-off.

Shares of Bear Stearns, the largest United States underwriter of mortgage bonds, fell 6.3% today, resulting from Standard and Poor’s altering its outlook toward the company to “negative” from “stable”. The investment banking firm recently saw two of its major hedge funds sink after exposure to the sub-prime mortgage decline. Standard and Poor’s report said the firm may have problems, including its hedge funds, that could hurt the firm “for an extended period.”

The company held a press conference at noon, but was unable to salvage its stock, leading to heavy losses in the rest of the financial sector. Chief Financial Officer Sam Molinaro remarked that the credit market was in the worst condition he had seen in 22 years.

American Express shares fell 5.6%, while homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises fell 9.4% in the sell-off which impacted all the indexes. American Home Mortgage Investment Corporation shares fell 52.07% in the session after announcing plans to close most operations and lay off over 6000 employees. The company has also lost its lending license in four states including New York.

“It is with great sadness that American Home has had to take this action,” Chief Executive Michael Strauss said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the market conditions in both the secondary mortgage market as well as the national real estate market have deteriorated to the point that we have no realistic alternative.”

Analysts say that the weakness in the stock markets and economy in general could prompt the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, consequently allowing inflation to rise, but that it would also support stocks and ease borrowing. The Fed has not changed interest rates since June 2006.

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City of Edinburgh Council seek to improve local music scene

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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Yesterday evening saw the Usher Hall in Edinburgh host a meeting between representatives of the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) and the local rock and pop music scene. The meeting was dominated with local musicians’ complaints over the “zero tolerance” policy Edinburgh is viewed as having adopted towards amplified music.The meeting began with the leading panel — Norma Austin Hart, vice-convener for Culture and Sport; John Stout, promoter from Regular Music; Kevin Buckle, of local store Avalanche Records; and Karl Chapman, manager of the Usher Hall — introducing themselves and outlining the purpose of the meeting. This being best-summarised as a desire to emulate the vibrant music scene of places as far-flung as Austin, Texas and Sydney, Australia.

Councillor Hart indicated officials from Austin had already offered to get involved in improving the live music scene in the city; although none were present from Austin, US-born local musician Pat Dennis provided his frank opinion on where Edinburgh fails to nurture the local music scene: that failure to support a grass-roots, small venue, music scene prevents the city being capable of organising events similar to Austin’s South by Southwest festival outwith August, when Edinburgh hosts the Festival and Fringe.

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Coming in for the lion’s share of criticism, staff from CEC’s Licensing Board were visibly uncomfortable when the topic of the “single complainant” was brought up time and time again. Unlike any other business within the city, or residential properties, noise pollution within premises permitted to sell alcohol is not managed by environmental health staff. That responsibility is bundled with the alcohol license, which leaves publicans fearful that their premises will be forced to close if they do not comply with demands to cease use of any amplification, or hosting live music. This was characterised as a ‘tyranny of the minority’, a most-undemocratic approach where one person — for example, recently moved into a property adjacent to a long-established premises hosting live music — could force the closure of a business which has hosted local talent for 30+ years.

Taking heed of the strength of feeling from the majority present, Councillor Hart made a number of personal commitments towards the end of the meeting. Those included setting up a working group, Music is Audible, to look at how the council could better work with venues, and to have a follow-up meeting in March next year.

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Denny’s Super Bowl free ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’ brings 2 million diners

Friday, February 6, 2009

Denny’s 1,600 chain restaurants across North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, were slammed for eight hours Tuesday with hungry patrons standing on sidewalks for nearly two hours to take advantage of the $5.99 “Grand Slam Breakfast” giveaway.

Denny’s, a dining chain with annual revenue of about $900 million, has advertised in a TV commercial Sunday during the Super Bowl XLIII that it would give away its signature breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time Tuesday, at all its restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, while supplies lasted.

Denny’s Diner has promoted the iconic dish giveaway heavily, with a bold 30-second appeal ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl 43 on Sunday, plus another 15-second ad during the post-game show, offering a free breakfast to some 90 million viewers. In addition, it has placed a full-page ad in USA Today‘s Monday edition. The promotion was further announced on The Today Show and notices were also sent out to the chain’s “Denny’s Breakfast Club” members.

The NBC ad, which was bought to unveil a new promotion for customers squeezed by the recession, may have cost as much as $3 million, said Nelson Marchioli, CEO of Denny’s Corp. Super Bowl XLIII’s 30-second commercial time slot costs $2.4 million–$3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs.

The game was televised live by the US NBC Sunday Night Football and Canada’s CTV Television Network. BayTSP has reported that, “as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, commercials that initially aired during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII broadcast subsequently had been watched online more than 28 million times.”

“The promotion has a total cost of $5 million U.S., which includes $3 million for the commercial on NBC,” said a Denny’s spokesman, noting also that the company received about $50 million in news coverage, most of which was positive. According to a Denny’s representative, two million people walked through the restaurant chains’ doors Tuesday, and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour.

With the “Denny’s Feeds America” promotion, the company has reported 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning. Denny’s shares rose 6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.98 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range of $1.18 to $4.10 over the past 52 weeks.

“Denny’s free Grand Slam” has ranked in the top 10 Google searches early Tuesday and fell to No. 18 by the end of the promotion, while “denny s locations” was #9 on Google Trends, which tracks fast-rising searches. It has also held spots No. 1 (Denny’s) and 7 (Grand Slam) on Twitter‘s trending topics. It has generated much chat on Twitter, garnering 1,700 tweets on Tuesday, compared with its average of 59. Doritos, winner of the USA TODAY survey for best Super Bowl spot ad, had 933 mentions after reaching a peak of almost 3,300.

The idea of the TV ad was to get people to come in and re-evaluate Denny’s Diner. “A lot of people have forgotten what Denny’s is, or they think they know, while we’ve come out with a whole lot of new products. We felt like we needed to jump start the brand,” Denny’s Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark Chmiel said.

“We’re celebrating the Grand Slam this year,” Chmiel said. According to the company’s financial data, on January 15 Denny’s reported systemwide comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter were down 6.1 percent, compared to a 0.2 percent decline from the same period in 2007.

According to Robert Gonzalez, public relations company Hill & Knowlton spokesman, Denny’s has expected at least 2 million people to eat a free Grand Slam by the end of the promotion. “Every restaurant is packed with people and lines,” Gonzalez said. “Everything today is about fast. People are on the go, and they’re eating fast food. It’s cutting into sit-down dining,” he added.

“Each of the more than 1,500 Denny’s were planning to make about 100 Grand Slams an hour,” Denny’s spokeswoman Cori Rice said. It had predicted it will have served about 1,400 people per location, more than five times the normal volume. “Grand Slam Breakfast” is a four-item option on its menu, consisting of two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. It weighs in at 44 grams of fat, 56 carbohydrates and 770 calories.

Nationwide, Denny’s expected to sell about 2 million Grand Slams — about 15 percent of the annual tally. According to Mark Chmiel, chief marketing operator and executive vice president, the diner chain has reported approximately 2 million meals worth more than $12 million were given away nationwide and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour. It estimated it has earned about $50 million worth of public relations following the free Grand Slam campaign, Chmiel said.

The company is also experimenting with a Grand Slam Burrito and also has introduced for this year, a Grand Slamwich, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese between two slices of bread, with a teaspoon serving. “It already has shown strong consumer appeal,” said Chmiel. The company has received flood of e-mails and letters proving the positive impact of the Grand Slam campaign and commercials on its customers.

Chmiel also announced he’s planning a third major promotion in this year’s third quarter, which happens to include another major sporting event, the World Series. “That’s one we’re definitely looking at,” he said.

Jobless Paris Winslow of downtown San Francisco, California has joined the long line which stretched from the front door on Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, to the corner of Fourth and up the block. “The economy is getting kind of scary. This line looks like those pictures of soup kitchen lines during the 1929 Great Depression,” Winslow said.

“I came all the way from San Francisco for a free $6 meal, Isn’t that pathetic? A year ago, I never would have done this. These days I’m willing to put my ego on the back burner,” said Stephen Weller, a jobless contractor who waited with his dog, Emmett. California Denny’s restaurant managers have issued rain checks (for free chilled meals, as security backed by actual bacon) to anyone who failed to get in by the 2 p.m. deadline.

A big eater could also “Slam It Up” by adding any two additional items for 99 cents each to their meal. Customers on Tuesday were also handed “bounceback” coupon books that include offers for additional free menu items with purchases. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang has eaten five free Grand Slams on Tuesday at five different Denny’s Diners in four hours. He claims to have consumed 4,100 calories at Harwood Heights, 5:36 a.m, at Schiller Park, 6:22 a.m., at Franklin Park, 7:08 a.m., at Melrose Park, 7:41 a.m. and at Grand Slam No. 5 Oak Park, 8:57 a.m.

“The Grand Slam has always been a Denny’s favorite. This free offer is our way of reacquainting America with Denny’s real breakfast and with the Denny’s brand,” Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli said in a statement. In 1977s, the Grand Slam started as a baseball-related promotion in Atlanta, Georgia. Its normal price averages around $5.99. Marchioli said the event was also a way to kick-off its “Year of the Grand Slam” promotion. Denny’s claimed it has sold 12.5 million Grand Slams a year.

“The economy’s tough and people are jumping all the way to fast food to try to figure it out. We all use fast food, whether it’s for time or convenience or for money. But you can go to Denny’s and you don’t have to give up a real breakfast and that was the whole focus of our commercial,” Marchioli explained. McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has done well during this economic meltdown since the global recession pushes people toward less expensive dining options.

McDonald’s has announced plans Wednesday to open 175 new restaurants in China this year despite the global economic crisis, thereby increasing the number of outlets in China by 17 percent, from 1,050 currently. Last month, McDonald’s 2008 net profit has risen 80 percent from 2007 to 4.3 billion dollars.

Marchioli has also introduced Denny’s $4 Weekday Express Slam, which is a streamlined version of the Grand Slam. “I want to take back share. For too long, we have allowed others to take share, whether it was Starbucks or McDonald’s. They’re fine competitors and I don’t expect to take all their business from them, but I’d like a little bit back,” Marchioli noted.

According to Rafi Mohammed, author of “The Art of Pricing,” people love free. “It triggers a Pavlovian response in people,” said Mohammed. If Pavlov’s dogs salivate when a bell rings, Denny’s free Grand Slam breakfast has attracted 2 million hungry customers. “I believe free maximizes trial and doesn’t devalue a product as long as it is a rare event. Aside from the cost, the major downside is that it attracts customers who truly have no intention of coming back,” he added.

According to University of Portland consumer psychology professor Deana Julka, people flock to free promotions amid just a few dollars saving because there’s nothing in life for free. “So when there’s something out there that costs nothing, it creates a psychological rush. Especially in these times when people feel overtaxed or overburden, there’s an internal reward people feel by getting something for free,” she said. “It’s being thrifty and feeling like you beat the system. Free really hits the spot for a lot of people,” Julka added.

“Free is an emotional hot button. When free is concerned, there is no downside – or, at least, we don’t see the downside immediately. So we overvalue everything that is free. People love free stuff, particularly when money’s tight,” said Dan Ariely, a business professor at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

Experts, however, explained these moves need to be done sparingly, since giveaways can teeter in the balance between desperation and a well designed marketing ploy. “Giving your product away for free is not worth it because it undermines your brand value,” said branding expert Rob Frankel, saying people are attached to the idea of it being free, than the actual product itself.

Free giveaways are not anything new in the food industry. “It just feels good when you can get something for free and not have to worry about it coming out of your wallet,” Frankel noted. Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread all have had free coffee and food promos last year. “In November, Starbucks gave away free cup of coffee to anyone who came in on Election Day. Have you taken a look at how Starbucks is doing now?” Last week it has announced it would shut down 300 stores, in addition to the 600 it already planned to close.

On February 24, IHOP will be offering a free shortstack to every customer to encourage donations (in place of the cost) for Childrens Miracle Network. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is a United States-based restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods and is owned by DineEquity. The chain had more than 1950 restaurants in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Since 2006, IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration has raised over $1.85 million. In 2008, over 1.5 million pancakes (12 miles high if they were stacked) were given to customers for donations.

Denny’s (“Denny’s Diner”) is a full-service diner/family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand). The resto chain is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock.

Today, Denny’s operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny’s restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, seven Denny’s locations in New Zealand, and approximately 38 Denny’s diners in the United States. Denny’s headquarters is now located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation that acquired Denny’s in 1987.

Denny’s was historically notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993, though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.

In 2008, Denny’s has ceased to be in the ranks among the top diner chains in the $83 billion breakfast market, whose top five firms — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and IHOP — accounted for 22 percent of the volume. “A lot of consumers have written Denny’s off their let’s-go-there list,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a consulting firm.

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers (15–4) and the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals (12–8) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 NFL season. It was played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadiumin Tampa, Florida. It has an attendance of 70,774 and 98.7 million viewers. Pittsburgh earned its sixth Super Bowl win, thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins.

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Wikinews interviews India’s first female Paralympic medalist Deepa Malik

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wikinews on Sunday interviewed Deepa Malik, India’s first female Paralympic medalist, who won the silver medal in the Women’s Shot Put F53 event finals, at the 2016 Summer Paralympics being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Malik lost the gold medal to Bahrain’s Fatema Nedham, who had the best throw 4.76 metres, setting a new regional record in paralympic women’s shot put.

Arriving in Rio, Malik had initial trouble due to the airline losing her luggage; it didn’t all arrive until three days later: clothes, opening ceremony outfit and equipment including competition belts.

In early August there was a possibly that Malik might lose her spot on the Indian team going to Rio, with fellow female para athlete Karam Jyoti challenging Malik’s selection and the Sport’s Authority of Indian’s selection process at the High Court of Delhi. The high court ruled against the plaintiff.

Both of these events occurred against the wider backdrop of the Paralympic Committee of India being suspended by the International Paralympic Committee. The Sports Authority of India took final authority over the Paralympic Committee of India for sending a team to Rio, with agreement from the International Paralympic Committee; this arrangement allowed India to compete under their own flag at the 2016 Summer Paralympics.

((Wikinews)) Congratulations on your result.

Deepa Malik: Thank you so much.

((WN)) Even though you are currently waiting in terms of the end result of the protest.

DM: Absolutely, but I’m happy with my performance, I’m happy that I could improve and I could prove myself, there were a lot of questions back home on my selection and on my hard work. My single-minded focus that I had put into this journey of being a Paralympian. Well, I am just so anxious about the results.

((WN)) So how much did the court case and KLM losing your luggage impact on your preparations and your result today?

DM: Yes, but I’m happy that my husband was my coach here, and, so, I had huge moral support in terms of keeping my mind and everything in peace. Most of the equipment was available in the gym, we had to alter the training a bit like the throw days couldn’t happen, so we instead exercised. No, I think that is what sports teaches you, you can’t live on excuses, I never lived on excuses.

((WN)) You work around things.

DM: Yes, that’s what we do, that’s what a sportsman is suppose to do, rise again, and then fall and rise, and run, and I did exactly that.

((WN)) What message should other Indian women take away from your participation and result in Rio?

DM: This is going to be the first female medal that India would have ever won in Paralympics and as it is I’m working aggressively towards transforming this entire concept of empowerment for the women, especially the women in disabilities in my country. So I’m really happy that this medal give my voice more value, more strength, and I’ll be able to impact even more, though on the ninth of September the Prime Minister’s jury has awarded me with the award of Women Transforming India, I’m so happy that within three days of getting that award, I have added another feather to it and proved that yes this journey of ability beyond disability. And not just disability, this is a universal message that if women put their minds to their dreams they can balance it; age, gender, disability, is all a state of mind. If you put your passion and hard work, you can get it, and in the Indian scenario were they say infrastructure is a challenge, women participation that are taboo, religiously and psychologically, disabilities taken as a curse, dependability[?] increases because of lack of infrastructure, well, time to get rid of the excuses. We have to start erasing the excuses and believe your own self and that’s the message I’m carrying with all the activities that I do whether it is car rallying, motorbiking or swimming across a river, every record or every unique activity that I’ve undertaken and just below paralysis has been aimed at changing the stereotypical image of a women and also a women in disability. ?

((WN)) Will you and your daughter both be trying to represent India at the 2020 Games in Tokyo?

DM: I’m very sure about myself, but my daughter, though, she’s a Paralympian, yes, which again was considered a huge taboo in my society that oh my god both the mother and the daughter both have a physical disability, what is going to happen to these two, but we did good and she is working as a youth council representative in the Commonwealth countries, for the Paralympics specially, and her work though her foundation called Wheeling Happiness has earned her the young leader award from the Queen of England, so I guess her focus is now shifting to more on community service and empowering others and not just herself. And she is leaving on first of October to Loughborough to do her PhD doctorate programme in disability sports psychology, I’m very sure Loughborough is going to give her a huge amount of sports [inaudible] but how much time she going to decide to devote to sports and studies is her decision entirely. That’s her dream, her journey. 

((WN)) How helpful was the Sports Authority of India in preparing and supporting your Rio ambitions??

DM: I think 100 per cent, because the biggest challenge we have back home is a customised training, or the infrastructure for that matter, so we were given the ability and the funds to train the way we wanted to train, and the funds were huge which were given to us, out accommodation, food, diet, physical therapist, psychologist, trainer, gym, everything was paid for, and customised, you want it and they give it. So I guess this was easy financially this time, because every expenses was taken care of, my husband could also take a sabbatical from his job and join my journey, and having him twenty-four seven and coaching me because he himself is an athlete, and have the best diet and counselling. I think it’s worked wonders, so I give shout out and a huge applaud.

((WN)) How important was it for you to have a carer in Rio?

DM: Yes, again we really have to appreciate the sports authority of India and also Paralympic Committee of India, which is going to start to function post-Rio in India. They were very very quick, they were very very adamant in giving the wheelchair people escorts. And I need help twenty four seven, I’m just below paralysed so it was really huge, emotionally, mentally, psychically training-wise, every way I think the situation was perfect.

((WN)) Thank you for your time.

DM: Thank you.

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Oldest user of Twitter, Ivy Bean, dies at 104

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ivy Bean, thought to have been the oldest person using the popular social networking site Twitter, has died at age 104.

By the end of her life, Bean had 53,535 followers (a term used on Twitter to indicate you are watching a person’s posts) on the site and was something of an internet phenomenon. In 2008, she became known as the oldest person on Facebook, a title held previously by a 97-year-old French man. Bean frequently updated her Twitter page with videos and descriptions of activities in her daily life that included her winning of the Gold Medal in Frisbee in the Over-75 Olympics in Bradford, Northern England as well as recipes and meeting former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

At the beginning of July, Bean was admitted to hospital suffering from jaundice. On July 23rd, Bean returned to the care home where she was a resident, but was no longer able to operate her Twitter account. Manager of the care home Pat Wright took over the account and began posting on Bean’s behalf.

It was posted on July 26th that Bean was in a poor condition and yesterday, Wright posted “Ivy passed away peacefully at 12.08 this morning”.

Many of Bean’s followers posted messages of condolence, making Bean the second-most discussed topic on the Twitter yesterday. Among her followers were Peter Andre and Chris Evans.

Ivy Bean was born November 8, 1905, seven years before the telephone network was established.

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Top 10 Wedding Do’s And Don’ts

By Yasmin Shikina

1. Do send out save the date cards as soon as you can, preferably 6 months prior, so that your guests have enough planning time.

2. Do make it a point of finding out all the legal requirements for a marriage license at your choice destination. It would be awful to get there and find out that there is a waiting period to get married.

3. Do make a point of setting aside some time to spend with your guest. Arrange a special dinner or brunch explicitly for these guests. This can be done before or after the wedding. They have traveled a long distance to share in your special day.

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4. Dont try and go at it alone. Planning a wedding can be a daunting task. Hire a wedding coordinator if at all possible. They have the experience and the connections to get the job done just the way you want it. They can make your life easier and less stressful.

5. Dont forget special gifts for your guest such as baskets in their rooms filled with flip flops, sun tan lotion, visors, etc. It keeps with the theme and adds a special touch. Remember to include a note of thanks in the baskets. Your guest will feel very special.

6. Do pick a wedding dress with the climate and location in mind. Also remember that the dress will need to travel with you so choose carefully.

7. Do preview your hair and makeup prior to the special day. Be sure to bring a picture of the dress, a certain hairstyle and makeup, so that the stylist has an idea of the look you want to achieve. There is no time for surprises on your wedding day.

8. Dont limit yourself to only summer months to plan your island /beach wedding. Remember, these destinations have beautiful weather all year round.

9. Dont worry about having to stay with a beach or island theme. You can definitely build on the island surroundings and create your own.

10. Dont stress out. If you dont hire a wedding planner make sure you put someone in charge to handle details and issues as they arise. Your best man can be in charge of tipping and making last minute payments. Put the payments in individual envelopes labeled with the service, i.e. photographer, bartender.

Once the day arrives, let go and enjoy. All the hard work is done. Unwind and have fun. That is what its all about.

About the Author: Yasmin Shikina created weddingsafar to help brides plan their destination weddings easily. Having experienced the stress of planning her own destination wedding, Yasmin wants to share everything she learned,including all her mistakes, with you.

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Source:

isnare.com

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Australia’s New South Wales Fire Brigades in crisis over bullying

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The New South Wales Fire Brigades (NSWFB) in Australia has come under scrutiny as a report highlights the latest in a string of sexual abuse and harassment cases. The report also describes the humilation of new recruits in “bizarre” initiation rituals.

The independent investigation led by KPMG, a Swiss audit, taxation and advisory firm, found that less that 9% of those who claimed to have suffered from such abuse were said to be satisfied by the action taken by the NSWFB.

The investigation states that “there are still instances of bullying and harassment … and they are not being adequately addressed…Some degree of physical bullying and intimidation is present across all areas of the organization, including the administration directorates.”

Physical abuse in the NSWFB has become a critical issue, with most cases manifesting in the initation of new recruits. These initiations require them to remove their clothing and be subject to physical torment and irritation while being watched by other members of the brigade. It is estimated that more then 600 firefighters have witnessed or have experienced physical bullying in the past two years and that this is not exclusive to recruits, but also includes a number of superintendents and captains.

Abuse hot spots have also been identified, with the brigade’s Special Operations Unit having the highest percentage of such claims.

Despite statements made by the New South Wales Emergency Services Minister, Steve Whan, to take firm action against all involved, a “Boy’s Club” mentality continues to pervade the organization, leading to both abuses and the stripping of female firefighters of adequate support, with 26% of female firefights admit to experiencing sexual harassment while 36% have been subject to verbal assaults, obscene gestures and jokes.

It was also revealed that in the light of KMPG’s investigation that the Independent Commission Against Corruption will launch its own investigation into physical and sexual abuses in the NSWFB.

The KPMG report puts forward 14 recommendations which are to be utilised by the Emergency Services Ministry in the hope of reforming the culture within the NSWFB.

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Lobby groups oppose plans for EU copyright extension

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The European Commission currently has proposals on the table to extend performers’ copyright terms. Described by Professor Martin Kretschmer as the “Beatles Extension Act”, the proposed measure would extend copyright from 50 to 95 years after recording. A vast number of classical tracks are at stake; the copyright on recordings from the fifties and early sixties is nearing its expiration date, after which it would normally enter the public domain or become ‘public property’. E.U. Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services Charlie McCreevy is proposing this extension, and if the other relevant Directorate Generales (Information Society, Consumers, Culture, Trade, Competition, etc.) agree with the proposal, it will be sent to the European Parliament.

Wikinews contacted Erik Josefsson, European Affairs Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (E.F.F.), who invited us to Brussels, the heart of E.U. policy making, to discuss this new proposal and its implications. Expecting an office interview, we arrived to discover that the event was a party and meetup conveniently coinciding with FOSDEM 2008 (the Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting). The meetup was in a sprawling city centre apartment festooned with E.F.F. flags and looked to be a party that would go on into the early hours of the morning with copious food and drink on tap. As more people showed up for the event it turned out that it was a truly international crowd, with guests from all over Europe.

Eddan Katz, the new International Affairs Director of the E.F.F., had come over from the U.S. to connect to the European E.F.F. network, and he gladly took part in our interview. Eddan Katz explained that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is “A non-profit organisation working to protect civil liberties and freedoms online. The E.F.F. has fought for information privacy rights online, in relation to both the government and companies who, with insufficient transparency, collect, aggregate and make abuse of information about individuals.” Another major focus of their advocacy is intellectual property, said Eddan: “The E.F.F. represents what would be the public interest, those parts of society that don’t have a concentration of power, that the private interests do have in terms of lobbying.”

Becky Hogge, Executive Director of the U.K.’s Open Rights Group (O.R.G.), joined our discussion as well. “The goals of the Open Rights Group are very simple: we speak up whenever we see civil, consumer or human rights being affected by the poor implementation or the poor regulation of new technologies,” Becky summarised. “In that sense, people call us -I mean the E.F.F. has been around, in internet years, since the beginning of time- but the Open Rights Group is often called the British E.F.F.

Contents

  • 1 The interview
    • 1.1 Cliff Richard’s pension
    • 1.2 Perpetual patents?
    • 1.3 The fight moves from the U.K. to Europe
    • 1.4 Reclaiming democratic processes in the E.U.
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links
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Market maker Bernard L. Madoff arrested in $50B ‘giant Ponzi scheme’

 Correction — January 10, 2009 This article incorrectly states that Mr Madoff attended Hofstra University Law School. His education was actually with Hofstra College, which he graduated from in 1960. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top broker and Wall Street adviser Bernard L. Madoff, aged 70, was arrested and charged by the FBI on Thursday with a single count of securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud. He allegedly told senior employees of his firm on Wednesday that his $50 billion business “is all just one big lie” and that it was “basically, a giant Ponzi scheme (since at least 2005).” Mr. Madoff faces up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5 million. FBI agent Theodore Cacioppi said Mr. Madoff’s investment advisory business had “deceived investors by operating a securities business in which he traded and lost investor money, and then paid certain investors purported returns on investment with the principal received from other, different investors, which resulted in investors’ losses of approximately $50 billion dollars.”

The former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market is also the founder and primary owner of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, the closely-held market-making firm he launched in 1960. The firm is one of the top market maker firms on Wall Street. He founded his family firm with an initial investment of $5,000, after attending Hofstra University Law School. He saved the money earned from a job lifeguarding at Rockaway Beach in Queens and a part time job installing underground sprinkler systems.

A force in Wall Street trading for nearly 50 years, he has been active in the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), a self-regulatory organization for the U.S. securities industry. His firm was one of the five most active firms in the development of the NASDAQ, having been known for “paying for order flow,” in other word paying a broker to execute a customer’s order through Madoff. He argued that the payment to the broker did not alter the price that the customer received. He ran the investment advisory as a secretive business, however.

Dan Horwitz, counsel of Mr. Madoff, in an interview, said that “he is a longstanding leader in the financial-services industry with an unblemished record; he is a person of integrity; he intends to fight to get through this unfortunate event.” Mr. Madoff was released on his own recognizance on the same day of his arrest, after his 2 sons turned him in, and posting $10 million bail secured by his Manhattan apartment. Without entering any plea, the Court set the preliminary hearing for January 12.

Madoff’s hedge fund scheme may rank among the biggest fraud in history. When former energy trading giant Enron filed for bankruptcy in 2001, one of the largest at the time, it had $63.4 billion in assets. The scheme would dwarf past Ponzis, and it would further be nearly five times the telecommunication company WorldCom fraud and bankruptcy proceedings in 2002.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a separate civil suit on Thursday against Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities and its eponymous founder Mr. Madoff. It was docketed as “U.S. v. Madoff,” 08-MAG-02735, by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan). SEC, New York associate director of enforcement, Andrew M. Calamari, asked the judge to issue seizure orders on the firm and its assets, and appoint a receiver. The SEC pleads, among others, that “it was an ongoing $50 billion swindle; our complaint alleges a stunning fraud that appears to be of epic proportions.” It further accused the defendant of “paying returns to certain investors out of the principal received from other, different investors” for years. Madoff’s hedge fund business had previously claimed to have served between 11 and 25 clients and had $17.1 billion in assets under management. But virtually all of the assets were missing.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Louis L. Stanton on Thursday appointed Lee Richards, a Manhattan lawyer, as the firm’s receiver. A hearing is set for Friday, for a ruling on the SEC’s petition to grant plenary powers to the receiver over the entire firm, and an absolute asset sequestration.

Doug Kass, president of hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management said that “this is a major blow to confidence that is already shattered — anyone on the fence will probably try to take their money out.”

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