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Controversy over effects of new bankruptcy law on victims of Katrina

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Posted by Admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 11-04-2019

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hurricane Katrina has rekindled debate over the controversial Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, in the U.S. House of Represenatives. Congressional Democrats feel that among the hundreds of thousands of victims of Katrina, many of whom have lost all their possessions and are coping with relocation, those that declare bankruptcy should be granted the protections of the previous law. 32 Democrats have sponsored a proposal that would delay implementing certain parts of the law to “insure that we do not compound a natural disaster with a man made financial disaster.”

The new bankruptcy law affects anyone whose income (as of the six months before filing) was over the state median income. Democratic legislators point out that many hurricane victims who manage to find work will be suffering from wage reductions, making them unable to effectively deal with their previous debts. Among U.S. states, Louisana and Mississippi have the fourth and third lowest median incomes, respectively. Democrats also feel that it is unfair to require repayment by bankrupted Hurricane Katrina victims while citizens in other states with similar incomes would pay nothing.

F. James Sensenbrenner, Republican from Wisconsin and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has denied a hearing on creating an exception in the law for the purposes of Katrina relief. He noted that “If someone in Katrina is down and out, and has no possibility of being able to repay 40 percent or more of their debts, then the new bankruptcy law doesn’t apply.”

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 has been heavily criticized by consumer rights’ organizations. The Consumer Federation of America argues that “[the] new requirements, coupled with strict deadlines for production upon the penalty of an automatic dismissal are difficult for the most organized person to meet, never mind someone who has had his or her home destroyed by Katrina.”

Opponents of the bill also argued that it makes the government “a bill collector for private companies”, and could lead to criminal prosecutions over matters best left in civil courts, and theoretically even to life imprisonment under federal three-strikes laws. Such opponents view the bulk of the act either as “bought and paid for” by the Credit Card Industry, who spent millions lobbying in support of the bill, or else as an unfortunate compromise between the lobbyists for banks and bankruptcy lawyers, such as the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI). Nathalie Martin, of ABI, said that “Many people will still qualify to file for Chapter 7,” which means liquidation of assets in exchange for cancellation of debt.

Spelbound declared winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010

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Posted by Admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 10-04-2019

Monday, June 7, 2010

An acrobatic group known by the name of Spelbound has been declared as the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010, a televised variety talent show competition broadcast on ITV in the United Kingdom. As the winning act of the show, Spelbound have won £100,000 (US$144,580, €120,313, A$175,079) and a place at The Royal Variety Performance, an annual gala evening that is attended by senior members of the British Royal Family.

In no particular order, the top three acts were revealed to be two dancers known by their stage name of Twist and Pulse, gymnastic group Spelbound and Kieran Gaffney, whose act involves playing on the drum kit. After Kieran Gaffney was revealed to be in third place, Anthony McPartlin, who hosts Britain’s Got Talent with Declan Donnelly, said to Kieran: “Well done Kieran. Kieran, you’re a star, you came back, you got all the way to the final. I know you’ve loved this. You’ve loved this, haven’t you?” In response to this, Kieran Gaffney stated: “Thank you very much. Thank you, everyone for supporting me. Thank you.”

Shortly afterwards, on the episode that was broadcast live on ITV1 on Saturday, Anthony announced: “After tens of thousands of auditons, five semi-finals and an amazing final, this…this is it. One of you is about to walk away with £100,000 and a place at this year’s Royal Variety Performance. The winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2010 is…Spelbound!” Glen Murphy from Twist and Pulse commented about finishing in second place, stating: “Yeah, it’s amazing. I can’t even believe it. I can’t believe it at all.”

Alex Uttley, a 24-year-old member of Spelbound, commented on the gymnastic group’s victory, commenting: “Oh, my god. This is unbelieveable. We just want to say thank you to everyone out there. It just shows that all our hard work has paid off.” One of the coaches of Spelbound, named Neil Griffiths, stated about Spelbound: “Oh, they’ve worked so hard over the last few weeks. Um, since the semi-final, we…we really had to pull out the stops to try and up the game. They’ve not known they’ve worked in the gym from six in the morning till twelve…twelve o’clock of the night. I couldn’t have asked for more. Um, it’s a team of coaches. I don’t take all the credit myself. There’s, uh, two people up there that know who they are who’ve been fantastic.”

Spelbound consists of 24-year-old Alex Uttley, Nicholas Illingworth, aged 24, Adam Buckingham, aged 21, 20-year-old Adam McAssey, 19-year-old Douglas Fordyce, 18-year-old Edward Upcott, 18-year-old Leighanne Cowler, 17-year-old Katie Axten, 17-year-old Lauren Kemp, 15-year-old Jonathan Stranks, Abigail Ralph, aged 15, 13-year-old Hollianne Wood and Amy Mackenzie, aged 12. Bookmakers had previously predicted that Spelbound would be the most likely act to become the winner of the series.

The running order for the final started with Twist and Pulse. The second act to perform was Liam McNally, a 14-year-old singer. The running order subsequently continued with 40-year-old impressionist Paul Burling, singer Christopher Stone, aged 28, Tina & Chandi, a woman and dog dancing act, Connected, a five-piece singing group, Kieran Gaffney, aged 12, 22-year-old Tobias Mead, a dancer, 80-year-old singer Janey Cutler and Spelbound in that particular order.

Earlier on in the final, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has stated to Spelbound: “We are hosting the 2012 Olympics and I think ‘what a brilliant opening act’.” Fellow judge Piers Morgan also commented that “[t]he purpose of this show is to identify hidden great British talent. You are that act.” After Spelbound won in the final, another judge, named Simon Cowell, stated that “the right boys and girls won on the night” and that he could “only say on live TV that that was one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen. Seriously.”

Petition pressures City of Edinburgh Council to review clause affecting live music scene

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Posted by Admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-04-2019

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Live music venues in Edinburgh, Scotland are awaiting a review later this year on the 2005 licensing policy, which places limitations on the volume of amplified music in the city. Investigating into how the policy is affecting the Edinburgh music scene, a group of Wikinews writers interviewed venue owners, academics, the City of Edinburgh Council, and local band The Mean Reds to get different perspectives on the issue.

Since the clause was introduced by the government of the city of Edinburgh, licensed venues have been prohibited from allowing music to be amplified to the extent it is audible to nearby residential properties. This has affected the live music scene, with several venues discontinuing regular events such as open mic nights, and hosting bands and artists.

Currently, the licensing policy allows licensing standards officers to order a venue to cease live music on any particular night, based on a single noise complaint from the public. The volume is not electronically measured to determine if it breaches a decibel volume level. Over roughly the past year there have been 56 separate noise complaints made against 18 venues throughout the city.

A petition to amend the clause has garnered over 3,000 signatures, including the support of bar owners, musicians, and members of the general public.

On November 17, 2014, the government’s Culture and Sport Committee hosted an open forum meeting at Usher Hall. Musicians, venue owners and industry professionals were encouraged to provide their thoughts on how the council could improve live music in the city. Ways to promote live music as a key cultural aspect of Edinburgh were discussed and it was suggested that it could be beneficial to try and replicate the management system of live music of other global cities renowned for their live music scenes. However, the suggestion which prevailed above all others was simply to review the existing licensing policy.

Councillor (Cllr) Norma Austin-Hart, Vice Convenor of the Culture and Sport Committee, is responsible for the working group Music is Audible. The group is comprised of local music professionals, and councillors and officials from Edinburgh Council. A document circulated to the Music is Audible group stated the council aims “to achieve a balance between protecting residents and supporting venues”.

Following standard procedure, when a complaint is made, a Licensing Standards Officer (LSO) is dispatched to investigate the venue and evaluate the level of noise. If deemed to be too loud, the LSO asks the venue to lower the noise level. According to a document provided by the City of Edinburgh Council, “not one single business has lost its license or been closed down because of a breach to the noise condition in Edinburgh.”

In the Scotland Licensing Policy (2005), Clause 6.2 states, “where the operating plan indicates that music is to be played in a premises, the board will consider the imposition of a condition requiring amplified music from those premises to be inaudible in residential property.” According to Cllr Austin-Hart, the high volume of tenement housing in the city centre makes it difficult for music to be inaudible.

During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe during the summer, venues are given temporary licences that allow them to operate for the duration of the festival and under the condition that “all amplified music and vocals are controlled to the satisfaction of the Director of Services for Communities”, as stated in a document from the council. During the festival, there is an 11 p.m. noise restriction on amplified music, and noise may be measured by Environmental Health staff using sophisticated equipment. Noise is restricted to 65dB(A) from the facades of residential properties; however, complaints from residents still occur. In the document from the council, they note these conditions and limitations for temporary venues would not necessarily be appropriate for permanent licensed premises.

In a phone interview, Cllr Austin-Hart expressed her concern about the unsettlement in Edinburgh regarding live music. She referenced the closure of the well-known Picture House, a venue that has provided entertainment for over half a century, and the community’s opposition to commercial public bar chain Wetherspoon buying the venue. “[It] is a well-known pub that does not play any form of music”, Cllr Austin-Hart said. “[T]hey feel as if it is another blow to Edinburgh’s live music”. “[We] cannot stop Wetherspoon’s from buying this venue; we have no control over this.”

The venue has operated under different names, including the Caley Palais which hosted bands such as Queen and AC/DC. The Picture House opened in 2008.

One of the venues which has been significantly affected by the licensing laws is the Phoenix Bar, on Broughton Street. The bar’s owner, Sam Roberts, was induced to cease live music gigs in March, following a number of noise complaints against the venue. As a result, Ms Roberts was inspired to start the aforementioned petition to have Clause 6.2 of the licensing policy reviewed, in an effort to remove the ‘inaudibility’ statement that is affecting venues and the music scene.

“I think we not only encourage it, but actively support the Edinburgh music scene,” Ms Roberts says of the Phoenix Bar and other venues, “the problem is that it is a dying scene.”

When Ms Roberts purchased the venue in 2013, she continued the existing 30-year legacy established by the previous owners of hosting live acts. Representative of Edinburgh’s colourful music scene, a diverse range of genres have been hosted at the venue. Ms Roberts described the atmosphere when live music acts perform at her venue as “electric”. “The whole community comes together singing, dancing and having a party. Letting their hair down and forgetting their troubles. People go home happy after a brilliant night out. All the staff usually join in; the pub comes alive”. However licensing restrictions have seen a majority of the acts shut down due to noise complaints. “We have put on jazz, blues, rock, rockabilly, folk, celtic and pop live acts and have had to close everything down.” “Residents in Edinburgh unfortunately know that the Council policy gives them all the rights in the world, and the pubs and clubs none”, Ms Roberts clarified.

Discussing how inaudibility has affected venues and musicians alike, Ms Roberts stated many pubs have lost profit through the absence of gigs, and trying to soundproof their venue. “It has put many musicians out of work and it has had an enormous effect on earnings in the pub. […] Many clubs and bars have been forced to invest in thousands of pounds worth of soundproofing equipment which has nearly bankrupted them, only to find that even the tiniest bit of noise can still force a closure. It is a ridiculously one-sided situation.” Ms Roberts feels inaudibility is an unfair clause for venues. “I think it very clearly favours residents in Edinburgh and not business. […] Nothing is being done to support local business, and closing down all the live music venues in Edinburgh has hurt financially in so many ways. Not only do you lose money, you lose new faces, you lose the respect of the local musicians, and you begin to lose all hope in a ‘fair go’.”

With the petition holding a considerable number of signatures, Ms Roberts states she is still sceptical of any change occurring. “Over three thousand people have signed the petition and still the council is not moving. They have taken action on petitions with far fewer signatures.” Ms Roberts also added, “Right now I don’t think Edinburgh has much hope of positive change”.

Ms Roberts seems to have lost all hope for positive change in relation to Edinburgh’s music scene, and argues Glasgow is now the regional choice for live music and venues. “[E]veryone in the business knows they have to go to Glasgow for a decent scene. Glasgow City Council get behind their city.”

Ms Martina Cannon, member of local band The Mean Reds, said a regular ‘Open Mic Night’ she hosted at The Parlour on Duke Street has ceased after a number of complaints were made against the venue. “It was a shame because it had built up some momentum over the months it had been running”. She described financial loss to the venue from cancelling the event, as well as loss to her as organiser of the event.

Sneaky Pete’s music bar and club, owned by Nick Stewart, is described on its website as “open and busy every night”.”Many clubs could be defined as bars that host music, but we really are a music venue that serves drinks”, Mr Stewart says. He sees the live music scene as essential for maintaining nightlife in Edinburgh not only because of the economic benefit but more importantly because of the cultural significance. “Music is one of the important things in life. […] it’s emotionally and intellectually engaging, and it adds to the quality of life that people lead.”

Sneaky Pete’s has not been immune to the inaudibility clause. The business has spent about 20,000 pounds on multiple soundproofing fixes designed to quell complaints from neighboring residents. “The business suffered a great deal in between losing the option to do gigs for fear of complaints, and finishing the soundproofing. As I mentioned, we are a music business that serves drinks, not a bar that also has music, so when we lose shows, we lose a great deal of trade”, said Mr Stewart.

He believes there is a better way to go about handling complaints and fixing public nuisances. “The local mandatory condition requiring ‘amplified music and vocals’ to be ‘inaudible’ should be struck from all licenses. The requirement presupposes that nuisance is caused by music venues, when this may not reasonably be said to be the case. […] Nuisance is not defined in the Licensing Act nor is it defined in the Public Health Act (Scotland) 2008. However, The Consultation on Guidance to accompany the Statutory Nuisance Provisions of the Public Health etc (Scotland) Act 2008 states that ‘There are eight key issues to consider when evaluating whether a nuisance exists[…]'”.

The eight key factors are impact, locality, time, frequency, duration, convention, importance, and avoidability. Stewart believes it is these factors that should be taken into consideration by LSOs responding to complaints instead of the sole factor of “audibility”.He believes multiple steps should be taken before considering revocation of licenses. Firstly, LSOs should determine whether a venue is a nuisance based on the eight factors. Then, the venue should have the opportunity to comply by using methods such as changing the nature of their live performances (e.g. from hard rock to acoustic rock), changing their hours of operation, or soundproofing. If the venue still fails to comply, then a board can review their license with the goal of finding more ways to bring them into compliance as opposed to revoking their license.

Nick Stewart has discussed his proposal at length with Music is Audible and said he means to present his proposal to the City of Edinburgh Council.

Dr Adam Behr, a music academic and research associate at the University of Edinburgh who has conducted research on the cultural value of live music, says live music significantly contributes to the economic performance of cities. He said studies have shown revenue creation and the provision of employment are significant factors which come about as a result of live music. A 2014 report by UK Music showed the economic value generated by live music in the UK in 2013 was £789 million and provided the equivalent of 21,600 full time jobs.

As the music industry is international by nature, Behr says this complicates the way revenue is allocated, “For instance, if an American artist plays a venue owned by a British company at a gig which is promoted by a company that is part British owned but majority owned by, say, Live Nation (a major international entertainment company) — then the flow of revenues might not be as straightforward as it seems [at] first.”

Despite these complexities, Behr highlighted the broader advantages, “There are, of course, ancillary benefits, especially for big gigs […] Obviously other local businesses like bars, restaurants and carparks benefit from increased trade”, he added.

Behr criticised the idea of making music inaudible and called it “unrealistic”. He said it could limit what kind of music can be played at venues and could force vendors to spend a large amount of money on equipment that enables them to meet noise cancelling requirements. He also mentioned the consequences this has for grassroots music venues as more ‘established’ venues within the city would be the only ones able to afford these changes.

Alongside the inaudibility dispute has been the number of sites that have been closing for the past number of years. According to Dr Behr, this has brought attention to the issue of retaining live music venues in the city and has caused the council to re-evaluate its music strategy and overall cultural policy.

This month, Dr Behr said he is to work on a live music census for Edinburgh’s Council which aims to find out what types of music is played, where, and what exactly it brings to the city. This is in an effort to get the Edinburgh city council to see any opportunities it has with live music and the importance of grassroots venues. The census is similar to one conducted in Victoria, Australia in 2012 on the extent of live music in the state and its economic benefit.

As for the solution to the inaudibility clause, Behr says the initial step is dialogue, and this has already begun. “Having forum discussion, though, is a start — and an improvement”, he said. “There won’t be an overnight solution, but work is ongoing to try to find one that can stick in the long term.”

Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director of Music Venue Trust, said she is unable to comment on her work with the City of Edinburgh Council or on potential changes to the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy. However, she says, “I have been asked to assess the situation and make recommendations in September”.

According to The Scotsman, the Council is working toward helping Edinburgh’s cultural and entertainment scene. Deputy Council Leader Sandy Howat said views of the entertainment industry needs to change and the Council will no longer consider the scene as a “sideline”.

Senior members of the Council, The Scotsman reported, aim to review the planning of the city to make culture more of a priority. Howat said, “If you’re trying to harness a living community and are creating facilities for people living, working and playing then culture should form part of that.”

The review of the inaudibility clause in the Licensing Policy is set to be reviewed near the end of 2016 but the concept of bringing it forward to this year is still under discussion.

New bridge lowered into position as East London line extension work progresses

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Posted by Admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 05-04-2019

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Work to extend the East London railway line reached a significant milestone today as a new bridge was lowered into position over a street in Shoreditch, London. The line, previously part of the London Undeground, is being extended to become part of the London Overground network.

The 350 tonne, 35 metre long tied arch bridge required the use of Britain’s largest mobile crane to get it into position.

Transport for London project manager Barrie Noble said, “I’ve been in this business a good many years and have led a fair few extraordinary projects, but lifting this bridge in really will be something to behold.”

“I can’t say how proud I am of the team behind it, both the TfL engineers and the contractors we are using.”

The bridge was manufactured in Chepstow, Wales and assembled on-site.

A section of Shoreditch High Street will remain closed over the weekend as the bridge is secured in place. The East London line closed in December 2007 and is due to reopen in stages from 2010.

George Bush: Rescue plan will get through

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Posted by Admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 03-04-2019

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.

    Ten April Fool’s pranks of 2009

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    Posted by Admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 30-03-2019

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    April Fools’ Day pranks harmlessly pervaded worldwide again this year. Media outlets and internet sites have joined family, office workers, and friends to provide a wide variety of practical jokes. Ireland, France, and the United States celebrate April Fools all day, whereas a few countries celebrate jokes only until noon such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa.

    Car and Driver claimed that GM and Chrysler were ordered out of NASCAR by the White House by the end of 2009 in order to receive any more government loans. There are press releases about this short-lived prank which received controversial feedback.

    The Swiss Tourism Board has announced that volunteers were desperately needed, The Association of Mountain Cleaners “makes sure that our holiday guests can always enjoy perfect mountains. Using brooms, brushes, water and muscle power, they clean the rocks of any bird droppings.”

    This year Gmail produced a new autopilot feature for April 1, 2009 which can read your email and automatically respond to every message.

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    BMW released its new Magnetic Tow Technology which allows your BMW to magnetically attach to the vehicle ahead of you. This enhanced technology allows the driver to remove their foot from the gas pedal and turn off the motor.

    The Guardian proposed its move to Twitter, which would allow the newspaper to fit its article content into 140 character messages or “tweets”. Included in this venture was the archiving of past events reported by The Guardian, such as, “1927 OMG first successful transatlantic air flight wow, pretty cool! Boring day otherwise *sigh*”

    Google’s technological break through for April Fool’s Day was CADIE, (Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity). By extracting internet search patterns combined with Brain Search, a part of CADIE technology, Google can now search your thoughts and memories.

    Wikipedia even fooled Fox News who claimed that “every item on the home page of the user-generated site Wikipedia is fake. The featured Wikipedia article regaled the “Museum of Bad Art” in Boston.” However, each item on the main page was based on reality — even news articles such as NASA reports a shower of diamonds over the Republic of Sudan, which was based on a meteorite which passed over Sudan whose fragments did reveal diamonds upon discovery.

    The Conficker Internet worm had been in the news warning of a worst case scenario when computers worldwide would be affected by the virus. Even the chief security adviser for Microsoft, Ed Gibson, didn’t want to make any predictions about what would happen. Experts just knew that it was set to go off on April 1. Several anomalous happenings were attributed to Conficker including Leroy “Mac” MacElrie who claimed to be the programmer of the Conficker worm and turned himself in to police.

    Hotels.com ran an advertisement offering hotel room bookings on the moon which would be offered on European websites starting at £800 a night.

    Qualcomm ingeniously revealed a new wireless networking technology called wireless convergence. Making use of the flight patterns of pigeons. They then use innovative solutions to converge the birds with wolves to protect the internal improvements.

    Media outlets were not the only ones pulling pranks. Gaming websites across the internet Blizzard, Joystiq, and affiliates posted reviews and announcements of games with tongue in cheek. YouTube offered viewers a unique April Fool’s experience as videos were offered upside down. In Ireland, U2 fans received a U2opia concert on a shopping centre roof top concert rather than the real thing.

    Feared toll of Indonesian floods, landslides up to 130; dozens missing as bridge swept away

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    Posted by Admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 30-03-2019

    Thursday, December 27, 2007

    Heavy rains in Indonesia yesterday triggered widespread flooding and landslides across the nation. It has emerged that last night a bridge was swept away by the swollen river it stretched across, leaving around 40 to 50 people missing in Madiun, East Java. Meanwhile, the total toll of those known or feared to be dead has reached 130.

    According to local police chief Supardi in a telephone conversation with Xinhua the flood waters weakened a foundation, resulting in the collapse. At least twenty motorcyclists, car drivers and passengers are thought to be dead, but as of midnight, no bodies had been recovered. However, three bikes have been retrieved. 100 rescuers have been dispatched to the scene. Continuing heavy rain forced the search to be abandoned temporarily.

    Java as a whole is the worst affected island; in addition to the bridge collapse most of the landslides occurred in two Central Java districts. Health ministry official Rustam Pakaya told reporters that at least 28,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes in central Java, although exact figures are not yet available. The Red Cross commented that 45,000 East Javanese people have been similarly displaced. Thousands are seeking shelter in mosques and other public buildings.

    Landslides buried houses and made roads impassable, while hundreds police officers, military personnel, local officials and volunteers have been digging with farm tools and even their hands to search for survivors. Heavy machinery is available but the road conditions have prevented it arriving at the areas where it is required. Jakarta has dispatched aid in the form of five tonnes of biscuits and instant meals, ten tonnes of baby food and multiple boats.

    Heru Aji Pratomo, head of the disaster management centre in the worst-hit district of Karanganyar has confirmed the recovery of twelve more bodies. This brings the total confirmed death toll in the area to 48. He said that most bodies were recovered from three metre deep mud and required heavy digging machinery to retrieve. 28 remain missing.

    Local resident Siswo told AFP “Suddenly I felt my house shaking, and I thought it was an earthquake. When I got outside, I saw that the houses next to mine were already covered by earth,” and that it struck twelve neighbouring houses.

    In the next district, Wonogiri, disaster management centre head Sri Mubadi told reporters they had retrieved two more bodies, reaching a total of six, with eleven more missing. He also confirmed that they currently have no access to heavy equipment.

    In Tawangmangu about 1,000 rescuers were also searching for bodies and survivors without the aid of heavy machinery. Three more bodies were retrieved today.

    Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir toured a Karanganyar village, at which time he commented that he felt the disaster had been caused as a form of divine revenge, saying “This was likely caused by immoral acts going on here,” and “This could be a lesson to be learned.” The 69-year-old served two years after being linked to the 2002 Bali bombings, before having his conviction overturned last year.

    Chalid Muhammad, director of Walhi, an Indonesian environmental group, had a different opinion. “For five consecutive years landslides and floods have occurred in Java, claiming many lives. The main trigger is ecological destruction caused by deforestation, forest conversions and chaotic spatial planning,” Chalid told Reuters.

    “There have been no adequate efforts by the government to protect the people from disasters. When the landslides happened officials were on holiday and there was no access of heavy equipment to the affected areas.”

    Using Twitter To Pimp Your Website. 10 Free Easy Steps.}

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    Posted by Admin | Posted in Earthmoving Equipment | Posted on 30-03-2019

    Using Twitter to pimp your website. 10 FREE easy steps.

    by

    Mike Glanville

    No point having the best website in the world if no one visits it.

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    This is why Twitter is so important to get followers and share links with people with similar interests.Here are 10 FREE easy steps to pimp your website using Twitter.1/. Sign up to Twitter, and then search for me – my twitter name is AffiliateABCUsing AffiliateABC as an example of someone you know, when you find me, click on my profile and please become one of my followers – that way, we can keep in contact if you wish to discuss the sort of subjects I write about. I should explain that I run a website entitled Affiliate School, and Slum Dog Affiliates, and I provide free advice for people who would like to become an affiliate, perhaps work from home to make money from Internet marketing. 2/. If you were going to start you a business; for example, selling wedding dresses and accessories, rather than using Twitter to search for old school friends, you might create a wedding profile for your company and then search for similar people to network with. You might find by searching the Find People tab for “wedding” there will be many people you could tie up with to share website links, ideas, cooperate to sell each other’s wedding accessories and dresses. You might create your profile as something other than your real name – for example “Wedding bells” rather than your real name Mary Smith3/. If you follow me, and I follow you, we end up with a wider network of contacts, and in turn, people will take you more seriously if you appear to have many followers. You can try follow as many people as you can by keep hitting the Find people (category wedding) and following as many people as you can, but try to follow too many people at once and you generate a warning from Twitter police HQ that you might be trying to follow too many people – Twitter are wise to, and don’t like you to follow too many people, too soon. So try following people with many followers. 4/. On the Affiliate School website, notice that in the right column, there is a gadget that allows you to bookmark the page and share with people on Twitter – these tools are really useful for letting people know what your Twitter ID name is, and what you have recently been twittering about.5/. There is also a button offering FREE visitors for your website – click on this button, and add the address of your website – free advertisement. You should advertise your site, and also advertise your Twitter home page so people can find you. So make 2 free advertisements. This button is really useful – called Traffic Digger6/. Pick another similar wedding name – such as “wedding hire”, or “getting married” So long as you don’t follow too many people too soon, you should be able to follow a number of people. 7/. Once you have started following people, many will start to follow you – in your profile on Twitter, explain what you do by having a related name to whatever you promote – so your name could be WeddingDayBliss or some other name related to your specialist subject.8/. On a frequent basis, daily, post snippets about your website – always add a link, make sure your website link is in your profile – you will get noticed more and more, and people will start visiting your website. 9/. Don’t just use Twitter for spamming, so for example, just don’t sit there typing in the same old “I run a boring affiliate program and make loads of money, visit my website at www.xxxxx” I wish I had a dollar for every “I made 3 trillion dollars in one afternoon” – type claims I see on the Internet and on Twitter – baloney.If your words are interesting and your twitterings are engaging, people will follow you and find you interesting. If you are not engaging and not interesting, you’ll get the same response you get when you go to parties, people will start to ignore you, and keep away from you. To get lots of followers, be engaging. 10/. I twitter on about my favourite beef about affiliate marketing. I just don’t understand why so many people spend so many dollars advertising their websites through Google pay per click when they have so many other ways to advertise their websites for free. Please follow me at AffiliateABC and I will promise you this, I will try hard not to bore you with boring old spam messages. By the way, if you have techniques to get free advertising, please share this information with me soon. Please introduce yourself on Twitter and say high, and please tell me on Twitter where you saw this article published, just let me know the link. And do visit Affiliate School soon for more engaging useful tips.

    Mike Glanville is founder of Affiliate School, a resource for people who wish to enter the world of affiliate marketing. Mike has written a number of articles about niche product marketing, working from home, Internet marketing. He has many years experience in sales and marketing and has travelled all over the world to train sales and marketing personnel.

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    Using Twitter to pimp your website. 10 FREE easy steps.}

    Race to save Chilean miners trapped underground from spiralling into depression continues

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    Posted by Admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 30-03-2019

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    It has emerged that the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground after the mine they were working in collapsed could be brought to the surface in a shorter time than was initially feared. While officials publicly announced that the men would not be brought to the surface until Christmas, sources inside technical meetings have revealed that they could in fact be on the surface by early November. The news comes as families were allowed to speak by radio-telephone to their trapped loved ones on Sunday. Over the weekend, video images filmed by the miners emerged showing the miners playing dominoes at a table and singing the Chilean national anthem. The miners also used the camera to send video messages to their families on the surface, saying that they regularly broke into tears, but were feeling better having received food and water.

    The grainy nightvision images, filmed on a high definition camcorder that was sent down a small shaft to the mine, show the men in good spirits, chanting “long live Chile, and long live the miners.” They are unshaven and stripped to the waist because of the heat underground, and are seen wearing white clinical trousers that have been designed to keep them dry. Giving a guided tour of the area they are occupying, Mario Sepúlveda, one of the miners, explains they have a “little cup to brush our teeth”, and a place where they pray each day. “We have everything organized,” he tells the camera. Gesturing to the table in the center of the room, he says that “we meet here every day. We plan, we have assemblies here every day so that all the decisions we make are based on the thoughts of all 33.” Another unidentified miner asks to rescuers, “get us out of here soon, please.” A thermometer is shown in the video, reading 29.5C (85F).

    As the film continues, it becomes evident that the miners have stuck a poster of a topless woman on the wall. The miners appear shy, and one man puts his hand to his face, presumably dazzled by the light mounted on the cameraman’s helmet. One miner sent a message to his family. “Be calm”, he says. “We’re going to get out of here. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts.” Another said that the miners are “sure that there are people here in Chile that are big people, that are powerful people, that are intelligent people, and they have the technology and they will all work together to get us out of here.” Speaking to the camera, one says: “we have had the great fortune that trapped in this mine there are good, professional people. We have electricians, we have mechanics, we have machine operators and we will let you know that while you are working to rescue us on the surface, we are down here ready to help you too.” It has been reported that Mario Gómez, 63, has become the group’s “spiritual leader”, having worked in the mines for over fifty years. He has requested that materials to build a shrine be sent down to the cavern.

    Upon seeing the video in a private screening, family members, who are living in a small village of tents at the entrance to the San José copper-gold mine—which they have named Camp Hope—were elated. “He’s skinny, bearded and it was painful to see him with his head hanging down, but I am so happy to see him alive”, said Ruth Contreras, the mother of Carlos Bravo, who is trapped in the mine. The video, of which only a small portion has been released to the public, shows the miners, many of them wearing helmets, cracking jokes and thanking the rescuers for their continued efforts. The supplies are being sent to the men through a small shaft only twelve centimeters wide, and a laboratory has been set up with the purpose of designing collapsible cots and miniature sandwiches, which can be sent down such a narrow space.

    CNN reported on Friday that “officials are splitting the men into two shifts so one group sleeps while the other works or has leisure time .. On average, each man has lost 22 pounds (10 kilograms) since they became trapped three weeks ago, and dehydration remains a threat. But a survey of the men indicates that at least nine miners are still too overweight to fit through the proposed rescue shaft. Initially, the miners survived by draining water from a water-cooled piece of equipment. To stay hydrated in the 90-degree mine, each miner must drink eight or nine pints of water per day.”

    But while there are jubilant celebrations on the surface that the miners are alive, officials are now nervous that the miners could become depressed, trapped in a dark room the size of a small apartment. Chilean health minister Jaime Mañalich said that, on the video, he saw the telltale signs of depression. “They are more isolated, they don’t want to be on the screen, they are not eating well”, he said. “I would say depression is the correct word.” He said that doctors who had watched the video had observed the men suffering from “severe dermatological problems.” Dr. Rodrigo Figueroa, head of the trauma, stress and disaster unit at the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, explained that “following the euphoria of being discovered, the normal psychological reaction would be for the men to collapse in a combination of fatigue and stress … People who are trained for emergencies – like these miners – tend to minimize their own needs or to ignore them. When it is time to ask for help, they don’t.” NASA has advised emergency workers that entertaining the miners would be a good idea. They are to be sent a television system complete with taped football matches. Another dilemma facing Mañalich is whether the miners should be permitted to smoke underground. While nicotine gum has been delivered to the miners, sending down cigarettes is a plan that has not been ruled out.

    With the news that drilling of the main rescue tunnel was expected to begin on Monday, officials have informed the media that they hope to have the miners out of the mine by Christmas—but sources with access to technical meetings have suggested that the miners could actually be rescued by the first week of November. A news report described the rescue plan—”the main focus is a machine that bores straight down to 688m and creates a chimney-type duct that could be used to haul the miners out one by one in a rescue basket. A second drilling operation will attempt to intercept a mining tunnel at a depth of roughly 350m. The miners would then have to make their way through several miles of dark, muddy tunnels and meet the rescue drill at roughly the halfway point of their current depth of 688m.” Iván Viveros Aranas, a Chilean policeman working at Camp Hope, told reporters that Chile “has shown a unity regardless of religion or social class. You see people arriving here just to volunteer, they have no relation at all to these families.”

    But over the weekend, The New York Times reported that the “miners who have astonished the world with their discipline a half-mile underground will have to aid their own escape — clearing 3,000 to 4,000 tons of rock that will fall as the rescue hole is drilled, the engineer in charge of drilling said Sunday … The work will require about a half-dozen men working in shifts 24 hours a day.” Andrés Sougarret, a senior engineer involved in operating the drill said that “the miners are going to have to take out all that material as it falls.”

    The families of those trapped were allowed to speak to them by radio-telephone on Sunday—a possibility that brought reassurance both the miners and those on the surface. The Intendant of the Atacama Region, Ximena Matas, said that there had been “moments of great emotion.” She continued to say that the families “listened with great interest and they both felt and realized that the men are well. This has been a very important moment, which no doubt strengthens their [the miners’] morale.” The phone line is thought to be quite temperamental, but it is hoped that soon, those in the mine and those in Camp Hope will be able to talk every day. “To hear his voice was a balm to my heart … He is aware that the rescue is not going to happen today, that it will take some time. He asked us to stay calm as everything is going to be OK … He sounded relaxed and since it was so short I didn’t manage to ask anything. Twenty seconds was nothing”, said said Jessica Cortés, who spoke to her husband Víctor Zamora, who was not even a miner, but a vehicle mechanic. “He went in that day because a vehicle had broken down inside the mine … At first they told us he had been crushed [to death].”

    Esteban Rojas sent up a letter from inside the mine, proposing to his long-time partner Jessica Yáñez, 43. While they have officially been married for 25 years, their wedding was a civil service—but Rojas has now promised to have a church ceremony which is customary in Chile. “Please keep praying that we get out of this alive. And when I do get out, we will buy a dress and get married,” the letter read. Yáñez told a newspaper that she thought he was never going to ask her. “We have talked about it before, but he never asked me … He knows that however long it takes, I’ll wait for him, because with him I’ve been through good and bad.”

    Pay-by-Plastic pumps up gas prices/Notes

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    Posted by Admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 30-03-2019

    Saturday, April 30, 2005

    The first thing to catch my eye when I approached what used to be a Texeco gas station, was a guy up in a man-lift beside the pump price sign. Seeing heavy equipment being used to change what I thought were the gas prices, I thought, “Gawds, these prices are getting out of hand!”

    After stopping in later and talking with the owner, I was impressed by how elated he was on the subject of bank processing fees. This was news to me. So I reported it.

    The man-lift I saw earlier is absent from the photograph I took. They had used the lift to change the pump price sign from Texaco to Shell.