The time is 20:00 (UTC) on June 30th, 2006, and this is Audio Wikinews News Briefs.

Contents

  • 1 Headlines
    • 1.1 Interior Ministry, Fatah offices in Gaza hit by Israeli airstrikes
    • 1.2 Palestinian PM: Israel aims to topple gov’t
    • 1.3 Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs Freitas do Amaral resigns
    • 1.4 French Parliament adopts controversial copyright bill
    • 1.5 Police crackdown on illegal tow operations in Sydney
    • 1.6 Amsterdam to open a “Chocolate Factory”
    • 1.7 Australian shot in Thailand
    • 1.8 Germany master penalties to beat Argentina to semi-final spot
    • 1.9 Ullrich and Sevilla suspended from Tour de France
  • 2 Closing statements

[edit]



Friday, April 20, 2007

For the past week, approximately 100 sealing ships have been trapped in ice floes off the northeast coast of Newfoundland. The ships and their crew had been participating in the annual seal hunt off Canada’s easternmost province.

Several of the vessels have been damaged by the ice and supplies are now running low for those sailors awaiting rescue by the Canadian Coast Guard. As of Thursday, 6:00 p.m. EDST, some 20 crew members, out of an estimated 400, had been rescued.

A Coast Guard icebreaker, the Sir Wilfred Grenfell, on mission to free the trapped ships, itself became stuck in the ice. A Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) spokesperson indicated to CTV News that, although the Grenfell had since been freed, another icebreaker, the Ann Harvey, was now trapped. “It’s just such heavy ice that even ice breakers are having trouble,” said Erika Pittman, a communications officer with the DFO.

In addition to the crushing ice, extreme weather conditions have been hampering rescue efforts. Pittman suggested that conditions wouldn’t improve until sometime next week. The amount and thickness of the pack ice, according to Pittman, is the worst it has been for sealers in the past 15 years.

In addition to three icebreakers on hand, the Coast Guard is flying helicopters in to provide food and support to the stranded sailors. Most of the sealing ship captains have refused to abandon their ships, instead staying with them and hoping for a change in conditions or to be freed by the Coast Guard.

“Usually you try to stay with the ship because you think the safety is with the ship because the ship is big, but sometimes it is too late. In this case, we’re hoping that as it changes and the breakers and helicopters are there and we can get them all out,” said Brian Penney, a superintendent with the Coast Guard.

“They’re putting a lot of effort into pulling them out,” said Penny. “But the sheer numbers, it’s a very, very slow process.” According to Penny, approximately 15 of the longliners ships have had their hulls damaged by the ice to the extent that the ships are at risk of sinking.

Critics of the seal hunt point out that the annual hunt is not only “cruel to animals”, but is also a dangerous occupation for the sealers. When sealers have to be rescued by the Coast Guard, “Canadian taxpayers foot the bill,” suggested Rebecca Aldworth, director of Canadian wildlife issues for the Humane Society of the United States.

  • “Newfoundland government launches seal hunt website” — Wikinews, March 26, 2007



Friday, February 9, 2007

Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally has reported that Ford will rename the Ford Five Hundred to the Taurus for the 2008 model year, when a facelifted model is expected to be launched to improve the lackluster sales of the outgoing model. Mulally says that Ford’s decision to name all their cars with the letter F was a lackluster move, and makes their names easily forgettable. As a result, Mulally plans on reviving many respected Ford nameplates, the Taurus being one of them, and the Falcon possibly in the future.

The Ford Taurus was originally introduced in 1986, and was a revolutionary car that rewrote the rules for creating a sedan, and pushed the other American automakers to follow suit, leading to a design revolution that completely rid Detroit of the “boxy” cars of the 70s and 80s. The Taurus survived for four generations, selling over 7,500,000 units. The Taurus was discontinued in October 2006, after a brief run of 2007 models destined for fleet customers.

“How can it go away?” Alan Mulally remembered asking, “It’s the best-selling car in America.”

While it is not expected for the name change to turn the Five Hundred into a 400,000 plus units a year blockbuster like the Taurus, it is expected to make sales more solid, and to make the car well known, since the Taurus is a well known nameplate around the country.



Sunday, September 21, 2008

An email accidentally sent to Jeff Crouse of the Anti-Advertising Agency recently brought the controversial techniques of the advertising firm Kluger Agency under fire.

“I’m writing because we feel you may be a good company to participate in a brand integration campaign within the actual lyrics of one of the worlds most famous recording artists upcoming song/album,” the email read, offering to place Jeff Crouse‘s fake brand, Double Happiness Jeans, into the songs of popular artists. It was posted on his blog along with a reply that mocked Kluger and brought ridicule and criticism against Adam Kugler and his agency. According to Crouse, Kluger emailed him once again to claim it had been an automated email, and later requested that Crouse remove the post and comments criticizing himself and his agency, threatening a $150,000 lawsuit against Crouse for defamation.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Is the use of product placement in popular music degrading to the artists?
Add or view comments

Kluger Agency is known for advertising brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Mercedes-Benz, and Nike by inserting the brand names in the songs of popular artists like Mariah Carey, Black Eyed Peas, Fall Out Boy, Pink, Lady GaGa and Ludacris. Kluger, founded in 2006, represents over 170 corporations and focuses on well-known record labels.

Kluger and his PR team have come forward defending the advertising techniques, stating that they do not have songs made just for the products in question and do not infringe on artistic integrity. “Now, we don’t want an artist to write a song specifically to promote a brand, we just feel that if it’s a product that’s admired by the artist and fits his/her image, we now have the capability of leveling out the playing field and making things financially beneficial for all parties involved,” he was quoted saying to Wired.

However, the agency’s website shows video examples of its product placement, with brand images and names often being repeated, pointed at, praised, or being the basis of the song. The website also advertises that “a successful ‘brand-dropping’ campaign will imprint [the] brand name and product into your market’s subconscious”.



? April 15, 2010
April 17, 2010 ?
April 16

Pages in category “April 16, 2010”



Wednesday, March 8, 2006

At least 250 members of Australia’s emergency services personnel in New South Wales have been informed that they could die from exposure to fatal levels of asbestos following emergency response training south of Sydney.

Members of the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) unit are thought to be at risk. They were told last week they may contract life-threatening illnesses following training on a demolition site at Holsworthy Army Barracks. The site was created to simulate rescues in the event of a terror attack or natural disaster. It has been regularly used by emergency services personnel since 2004.

Some of the emergency services personnel spent up to three weeks at a time crawling through the rubble.

Reports claim that when notified last week, senior personnel were left devastated. It can take decades for asbestos related illnesses to appear and can take up to 30 years before those exposed can be cleared of infection.

In addition to the emergency service personnel, doctors, nurses and hazardous material personnel could also be at a mild risk. Even Morris Iemma, premier of New South Wales, who visited the site has been warned he could be at risk.

According to The Daily Telegraph, a repected Sydney newspaper, it has been established that “No proper tests were done at the site before it became a training ground for hundreds of top-level rescuers in 2004″,”Personnel were kept in the dark for up to a year about the asbestos before being told last week”,”NSW public officials and a host of ministers may have been exposed”,”Ambulance chief Greg Rochford and Mr Mullins have been at the site and must face a health clearance”, and”The Dust Diseases Tribunal is conducting an investigation into the long-term impact the mass exposure could have on emergency services in NSW.”



Wednesday, March 18, 2009

United States President Barack Obama stated Monday that insurance giant AIG is in financial trouble due to “recklessness and greed,” and called for legal action to stop the company from giving out millions of dollars in bonuses to its executives.

“It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay,” Obama said. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat.”

Obama’s statement comes after reports surfaced last weekend saying the insurance agency, which is in deep financial trouble, had paid US$165 million to executives in bonuses, after receiving $170 billion as part of a government bailout plan.

AIG has said that the bonuses have to be given out, as the company is legally required by contract to do so. A representative with the National Economic Council, Lawrence H. Summers, also said that the bonuses were required to be given out. If AIG had refused to give out the bonuses, employees could file a lawsuit against the company for the money.

“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said in a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Saturday.

Liddy said that he asked Geithner “to use that leverage and pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.”

“I want everybody to be clear that Secretary Geithner’s been on the case,” Obama said. “He’s working to resolve this matter with the new CEO, Edward Liddy, who, by the way, everybody needs to understand, came on board after the contracts that led to these bonuses were agreed to last year.”

If the bonuses cannot be stopped, the U.S. Congress says they want AIG to reimburse the government. Congress is looking to impose stiff new taxes on the pay, or ordering the company to return the money which was originally granted from a government bailout. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, senator Richard Shelby promised that the treasury will recover all of the money. Several U.S. senators along with Liddy have sent letters to AIG asking for the bonuses to be renegotiated, something AIG agreed to and says they will reduce future bonuses by 30%. Senators state that if Libby does not respond by renegotiating the bonuses, the Senate Finance Committee will propose an excise tax. Not only will an excise tax be proposed on AIG, but all companies receiving bailout money and their employees who receive bonuses.

What is the highest excise tax we can impose that will stand up in court? Let’s find out.

Numerous House Democrats have introduced legislation which would place a 100% tax on any bonuses of over $100,000 from companies that are receiving government bailout funds. Meanwhile in the Senate, a bipartisan proposal by Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) would levy a special 90% excise tax on AIG’s bonuses. Asked Senator Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee: “What is the highest excise tax we can impose that will stand up in court? Let’s find out.”



Thursday, October 3, 2013

A review this week by Wikinews of US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaints about mortgages in the United States shows Bank of America leads all lending institutions in complaints.

Since mortgages complaints were recorded in December 2011, 77,622 total have been added to CFPB’s database. 29.2% of these complaints involved Bank of America, with the second most received by Wells Fargo, accounting for 15.5% of all complaints. JPMorgan Chase ranked third by volume of complaints with 9.8%. Ocwen was fourth with 8.7% and Citibank was fifth with 4.8%. Nationstar Mortgage; Green Tree Servicing, LLC; HSBC; PNC Bank; U.S. Bancorp; OneWest Bank; SunTrust Bank; Flagstar Bank; and Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. each had between 1.0 and 3.8% of total complaints. The remaining 14.4% of all complaints about consumer mortgages were divided between about 530 other lending institutions.

The Motley Fool reported last month that for the past fiscal quarter, the biggest US based mortgage lenders were from first to fifth Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Quicken Loans and U.S. Bancorp.

According to the US Federal Reserve, debt for family residences stands at US$10.706 trillion for the second quarter of 2013. As of the end of June of this year, Bank of America is the United States’s second largest commercial bank with US$1.343 trillion in domestic assets. Wells Fargo is the fourth largest commercial bank with US$1.251 trillion in domestic assets. JPMorgan Chase is the largest US commercial bank with US$1.329 trillion in domestic assets and US$1.947 trillion in total assets.

The mortgage complaints in the CFPB report include several subproducts. Conventional fixed mortgages account for 27.1% of all complaints. Conventional adjustable mortgages account for 10.0%. FHA mortgages account for 7.7% of all complaints. Home equity loans or lines of credit account for 3.8% of all complaints. VA mortgages are 1.4% of all complaints. Second mortgages and reverse mortgages each account for 0.6% of complaints. The remaining 48.7% of complaints are about other mortgages or other mortgage issues. A few years ago, FHA loans accounted for about 10% of all US mortgages while VA loans accounted for about 3%. Prime loans accounted for over 75% of the market and the rest were subprime mortgages.

California leads all states by volume of complaints with 14768. It is followed by Florida, New York, Georgia and Texas. When complaints are divided by a state’s total population, New Hampshire leads. The state is followed by Washington D.C., Maryland, Georgia and Florida. Complaints do not correlate with national rankings for August’s foreclosure rate by state where Nevada topped the list, followed by Florida, Ohio, Maryland and Delaware.

Two zip codes account for over 1,000 total complaints between them. 565 complaints originated in the 48382 zip code, which is in Commerce Township, Michigan, located in suburban Detroit. 553 complaints originated in the 33071 zip code, in Coral Springs, Florida. According to real estate website Zillow, there are currently 1,033 properties in foreclosure in Coral Springs while Commerce Township only has 131 properties currently in foreclosure. Four other zip codes have 100 plus complaints originating from them. 91730, in Rancho Cucamonga, California, had 158 complaints. 33409, in West Palm Beach, Florida, had 132. 92626, in Costa Mesa, California, had 125 complaints. 92660, in Newport Beach, California, had 122 complaints. Respectively, the towns had 534, 1,068, 153, and 134 properties currently in foreclosure. These numbers are higher than for the cities of a few sampled zip codes where there was only one complaint, such as Gold Hill, Oregon which has 4 properties in foreclosure, and Decatur, Illinois which has 6 properties in foreclosure.

The CFPB categorizes complaints into six categories: “Loan modification, collection,foreclosure” or problems when a person is unable to pay; “Loan servicing, payments, escrow account” or problems with making a payment; “Application, originator, mortgage broker”; “Credit decision / Underwriting”; “Settlement process and costs”, and “Other”. The CFPB says the complaint types indicate consumers “appear to be driven by a desire to seek agreement with their companies on foreclosure alternatives. The complaints indicate that consumer confusion persists around the process and requirements for obtaining loan modifications and refinancing, especially regarding document submission timeframes, payment trial periods, allocation of payments, treatment of income in eligibility calculations, and credit bureau reporting during the evaluation period.” Currently, 59.6% of all complaints against lenders deal with being unable to pay. 25.1% deal with problems in making a payment. 7.0% have to do with the application process.

Of the complaint-heavy zip codes, for 48382 in Commerce Township, Michigan, 98.9% of all complaints have to deal with being unable to pay. Accounting for 23.4% of all mortgage complaints in Commerce Township, 132 of the complaints for being unable to pay were made regarding Bank of America, accounting for 97.8% or all but 3 complaints against them from the zip. 121 of the Bank of America responses in Commerce Township were closed with explanation and 12 were closed with non-monetary relief. 33071 in Coral Springs is different, with 537 of the 553 complaints being categorized under other. Only 11 complaints relate to foreclosure and issues with being able to pay. 92626 in Costa Mesa, where 32% of the mortgage complaints were about Bank of America and 26.4% were about Wells Fargo, had 93.6% of its complaints dealing with being unable to pay. 5 total complaints dealt with payment issues and 3 dealt with applications.

Beyond regional variance in complaint types lodged, the top five mortgage lenders by volume of complaints all had being unable to pay as their top complaint category, ranging between 55.8% for Citibank and 69.4% for Bank of America. Problems with payment accounted for the second largest area of complaints, with Ocwen having the largest percentage of complaints at 31.9% and Bank of America having the smallest at 18.8%. Foreclosure was the top area of complaints for a number of other lending institutions including 1st Alliance Lending, OneWest Bank, Ally Bank, Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, Bank of the West, BMO Harris, BOK Financial Corp, Caliber Home Loans, Inc, Capital One, Deutsche Bank and EverBank.

Nationally, complaints reached a high of 5,840 for January 2013, 1,107 more than the next highest month of April 2013. The total emerging for September is the second lowest since records were first kept in December 2011. On a state by state level, this pattern largely repeats with a major exception for Florida which saw a peak of 849 complaints in June 2012. Then, as now, Florida was one of the top five states in the nation in its foreclosure rate. The national January spike came as the Qualified Mortgage standard required by the The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 came into play. It required mortgage lenders to take steps to insure borrowers could repay their mortgages.

Bank of America’s complaint volume follows the national trend, with a spike in January 2013 with 1,925 total complaints. Unlike nationally, the next month by volume of complaints was February of this year with 1,598 complaints. Prior to that, the highest month was May 2012 with 1,418 complaints. The lowest volume of complaints is September this year with 334.

Wells Fargo matched national trends for volume of complaints by month, with the exception of the current month being the lowest on record for number of complaints with 197 compared to the next lowest month, December 2011, when they had 221. JPMorgan’s complaint volume by month spiked in January and March of this year with 504 complaints. April of this year was the next highest month with 493 complaints, edging out May of last year with 488 complaints. September this year is on track to be the lowest month by complaint volume.

The federal government shutdown is unlikely to impact the current mortgage situation in the United States directly for most consumers, though mortgage processing by the Federal Housing Administration could be slower, resulting in fewer mortgages processed.



Saturday, April 19, 2008

Benedict XVI arrived in New York Friday, as part of his visit to the United States. The first part of his visit was spent in Washington, D.C.. He arrived on “Shepherd One”, a specially dedicated plane belonging to Alitalia, the flag carrier of Italy.

On the first day of his visit to New York City, he went to the United Nations (UN) and addressed the General Assembly. In his speech he urged leaders to solve world crises together, though the world still remains subject to “the decisions of a few,” whom he did not name. Benedict XVI is the third Pope to address the United Nations in person.

The primary focus of his speech was about dialogue, diplomacy and human rights. He delivered the speech in both French and English. Benedict XVI said it was the duty of every nation to guarantee human rights.

“If states are unable to guarantee such protection, it is then up to the international community to intervene with the legal means that are provided for under the United Nations Charter and other international instruments,” the Pope said.

The Pope argued that national sovereignty should not stand in the way of protecting human rights. “On the contrary, it is indifference or non-intervention which cause the real harm,” he said.

The concept of “responsibility to protect,” has also been championed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in seeking international action in regions like Darfur.

Benedict XVI said that religion should not be excluded at the UN because it is “a social order respectful of the dignity and rights of the person.” He further added “It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one’s rights. The rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature.”

On Friday afternoon, after the UN address, Benedict met with members of the local Jewish clergy at the Park East Synagogue, an Upper East Side Orthodox synagogue in New York City.

“The Jewish community make a valuable contribution to the life of the city,” Benedict XVI told the congregation, “and I encourage all of you to continue building bridges of friendship with all the many different ethnic and religious groups present in your neighborhood.”

Rabbi Arthur Schneier told the Pope, that the visit was “a reaffirmation of your outreach, good will, and commitment to enhancing Jewish-Catholic relations.”

Thursday, Benedict XVI held Mass at Nationals Park with an estimated 47,000 people attending. During the Mass he spoke about the sexual abuse by clergy. “No words of mine can describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse nor the damage that has occurred within the community of the church,” he said. “I ask you to love your priests and affirm the good works they do.”

Afterwards, Benedict XVI met privately with some of the abuse victims. Reverend Federico Lombardi, a spokeperson, said he met with five or six abuse victims for approximately 25 minutes.

One of these victims, Bernie McDaid, told Associated Press (AP) about his meeting. “I said, ‘Holy Father, you need to know you have a cancer in your flock and I hope you will do something for this problem; you have to fix this,'” McDaid said. “He looked down at the floor and back at me, like, ‘I know what you mean.’ He took it in emotionally. We looked eye to eye.”

Olan Horne, another victim who has worked with McCaid told AP, “I believe we turned the pope’s head a little in the right direction.”

According to a Vatican official, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, gave the Pope a list of some 1,000 boys and girls who had been abused in the Boston Archdiocese going back several decades.

“The fact that we finally got the pope to actually stand up and put a statement on record, I really think he set the bar this week,” said Gary Bergeron to the The New York Times. Bergeron says he was abused by a priest in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Later on Thursday, Benedict met with religious leaders of various faiths at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center. He told them that, “Americans have always valued the ability to worship freely and in accordance with their conscience”. He added, “children of all religions sit side-by-side, learning with one another and from one another. This diversity gives rise to new challenges that spark a deeper reflection on the core principles of a democratic society.

“May others take heart from your experience, realising that a united society can indeed arise from a plurality of peoples, … provided that all recognize religious liberty as a basic civil right,” the pontiff said.

During the next couple of days in New York, Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to hold Mass at Yankee Stadium and visit the World Trade Center site.



Friday, August 17, 2007

Wikinews has learned that Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU Project, is confirmed to be safe in Peru after a massive 8.0 earthquake struck the country on August 15. It was earlier reported that he may have been missing.

According to e-mails and forum posts obtained by Wikinews, Stallman was traveling from Lima to Chimbote with a man named Mario Ramos on August 15, when the quake struck and was expected to arrive in Chimbote on Monday August 20. He later arrived in Trujillo, Peru where he ‘checked-in.’

“Richard Stallman is now in Trujillo, this I confirm it and tomorrow he will be [at the] conference,” said Edward Vega Gavidia in an e-mail obtained by Wikinews.

The possibility of Stallman missing was first announced at approximately 6:43 p.m. (eastern time) when a user by the name of RichiH posted a ‘wallop’ to users on the Freenode IRC network stating “hi all. As you will surely have heard, there was a major earthquake in Peru. It seems Richard ‘RMS’ Stallmann [sic] was traveling from Lima to Chimbote with Mario Ramos on August 15th and no one has heard from him since.”

Wikinews contacted the GNU Project and Stallman by e-mail, and Stallman confirmed that he is indeed safe.

“I was in Lima, where there was little damage. I was at the Universidad Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, in the office of COSOLIG, the university’s free software group. When the building started to shake, I realized it was an earthquake, and also that it wasn’t strong enough to be dangerous. The other people were much more worried, and urged me to go outside with them, so I did. The shaking continued for surprisingly long, but there was no damage,” said Stallman in an e-mail to Wikinews.



« Older Entries