Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Group of 20 (G20) of the world’s leading developed and developing countries’ finance ministers agreed on Saturday to pursue a plan that would avoid dangerous currency devaluations and would also would attempt to reduce trade imbalances. The plan was introduced by the United States, and the G20 meeting was held in South Korea.

The plan was announced amid rising worries of a “currency war” that would lead to devalued currencies in order to get an export advantage and would damage the global economy. “Our cooperation is essential. We are all committed to play our part in achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth in a collaborative and coordinated way,” a statement released by the G20 said.

On the topic of trade imbalances, the G-20 stated that “excessive imbalances” would be “assessed against indicative guidelines to be agreed.” This statement was weaker than a commitment proposed by United States Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, which would keep trade imbalances “below a specified share” of GDP for the next few years. This proposal was met with strong opposition from export-based economies such as Japan, whose Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda argued that specific targets were “unrealistic”, but approved of unspecific “guidelines”. He added: “There are many perspectives on the current account issue. Every country has a different situation when it comes to surpluses and deficits. So we need to study this carefully.”

The United States said that they will continue to push for numerical targets and specific time frames at next month’s South Korean summit, where the heads of state of the G20 will convene. “If the world is going to be able to grow at a strong, sustainable pace in the future . . . then we need to work to achieve more balance in the pattern of global growth as we recover from the crisis,” US Treasury Secretary Geithner declared. The finance ministers also set China on the track to floating its currency more, and overhauling the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to give more representation to developing powers such as China and India.

The G20 was created in 1999, includes both developed and developing countries, and represents 85% of the world’s economy. The G20’s heads of state will meet in Seoul, South Korea, next month.



This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sam Brownback is perplexed. The U.S. Senator from Kansas and Presidential candidate is a Republican whose politics—he is against marriage for gay people, he is against abortion, and he has a clean image in a party tainted by scandal—should speak favorably to the party’s base. But it has not. “I’m baffled by that myself,” Senator Brownback told Wikinews reporter David Shankbone. “We haven’t been able to raise money.”

A recent poll in Iowa has put him in eighth place, with 2% supporting his campaign. “If we don’t finish fourth or better in Iowa…we’ll pull out.”

Senator Brownback’s relationship with God infuses almost every answer you find below. Although he doesn’t feel “competent” to explain why God would dislike gays, he does feel strongly that allowing two men or two women to enter into the union of marriage will destroy it for heterosexuals. Pointing to the research of Stanley Kurtz at the Hoover Institution, Brownback asserts that Northern Europeans have “taken the sacredness out of the institution.”

In the interview, Senator Brownback discusses the tug-and-pull that befalls him when his constituents show up at his office and say, “Look, I’m a conservative, but we need this bridge, we need this subsidy, we need this hospital.” Brownback feels this spending system needs to be changed; however, when it comes to energy policy, Brownback is there for his constituents. David Shankbone asked the Kansas Senator, a supporter of cellulosic ethanol, why he doesn’t support the lowering of tariffs on sugar since sugar ethanol delivers 8 times the energy output of cellulosic ethanol. Brazil, in particular, has become energy independent because of its sugar ethanol program. It’s cheaper to produce, and there is vastly more bang for the buck in sugar fuel than in corn fuel; an entire country no longer needs to import oil because of it. Federal tariffs currently make sugar ethanol too expensive in the United States. “You’re going to kill the ethanol industry here just as it gets going,” was Senator Brownback’s response. However, there is a debate over whether the process to make corn ethanol uses more energy than the ethanol itself produces.

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with Senator Sam Brownback.


Contents

  • 1 On running in and possibly leaving the Presidential race
  • 2 On the role of religion in the Presidential race
  • 3 On the culture of life
  • 4 On the Iraq War and the Middle East
  • 5 On gay rights
  • 6 Brownback on Brownback
  • 7 On environmentalism and energy
  • 8 On Wikipedia
  • 9 Sources


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Torture proliferates American headlines today: whether its use is defensible in certain contexts and the morality of the practice. Wikinews reporter David Shankbone was curious about torture in American popular culture. This is the first of a two part series examining the BDSM business. This interview focuses on the owners of a dungeon, what they charge, what the clients are like and how they handle their needs.

When Shankbone rings the bell of “HC & Co.” he has no idea what to expect. A BDSM (Bondage Discipline Sadism Masochism) dungeon is a legal enterprise in New York City, and there are more than a few businesses that cater to a clientèle that wants an enema, a spanking, to be dressed like a baby or to wear women’s clothing. Shankbone went to find out what these businesses are like, who runs them, who works at them, and who frequents them. He spent three hours one night in what is considered one of the more upscale establishments in Manhattan, Rebecca’s Hidden Chamber, where according to The Village Voice, “you can take your girlfriend or wife, and have them treated with respect—unless they hope to be treated with something other than respect!”

When Shankbone arrived on the sixth floor of a midtown office building, the elevator opened up to a hallway where a smiling Rebecca greeted him. She is a beautiful forty-ish Long Island mother of three who is dressed in smart black pants and a black turtleneck that reaches up to her blond-streaked hair pulled back in a bushy ponytail. “Are you David Shankbone? We’re so excited to meet you!” she says, and leads him down the hall to a living room area with a sofa, a television playing an action-thriller, an open supply cabinet stocked with enema kits, and her husband Bill sitting at the computer trying to find where the re-release of Blade Runner is playing at the local theater. “I don’t like that movie,” says Rebecca.

Perhaps the most poignant moment came at the end of the night when Shankbone was waiting to be escorted out (to avoid running into a client). Rebecca came into the room and sat on the sofa. “You know, a lot of people out there would like to see me burn for what I do,” she says. Rebecca is a woman who has faced challenges in her life, and dealt with them the best she could given her circumstances. She sees herself as providing a service to people who have needs, no matter how debauched the outside world deems them. They sat talking mutual challenges they have faced and politics (she’s supporting Hillary); Rebecca reflected upon the irony that many of the people who supported the torture at Abu Ghraib would want her closed down. It was in this conversation that Shankbone saw that humanity can be found anywhere, including in places that appear on the surface to cater to the inhumanity some people in our society feel towards themselves, or others.

“The best way to describe it,” says Bill, “is if you had a kink, and you had a wife and you had two kids, and every time you had sex with your wife it just didn’t hit the nail on the head. What would you do about it? How would you handle it? You might go through life feeling unfulfilled. Or you might say, ‘No, my kink is I really need to dress in women’s clothing.’ We’re that outlet. We’re not the evil devil out here, plucking people off the street, keeping them chained up for days on end.”

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with Bill & Rebecca, owners of Rebecca’s Hidden Chamber, a BDSM dungeon.

Contents

  • 1 Meet Bill & Rebecca, owners of a BDSM dungeon
    • 1.1 Their home life
  • 2 Operating the business
    • 2.1 The costs
    • 2.2 Hiring employees
    • 2.3 The prices
  • 3 The clients
    • 3.1 What happens when a client walks through the door
    • 3.2 Motivations of the clients
    • 3.3 Typical requests
    • 3.4 What is not typical
  • 4 The environment
    • 4.1 Is an S&M dungeon dangerous?
    • 4.2 On S&M burnout
  • 5 Criticism of BDSM
  • 6 Related news
  • 7 External links
  • 8 Sources


Regardless of who wins the prize, people all around the world will be able to experience the mission through high-def video-streams.
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Andreas Hornig, Wikinews contributor and team member of Synergy Moon, competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize, managed to interview Senior Director of Space Prizes William Pomerantz of the X PRIZE Foundation about the competitions, goals, and impacts via e-mail for HDTVTotal.com and Wikinews.

By Wikinews,

the free news source

Other stories: Science and technology
  • 18 October 2018: U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren releases DNA test results, asks Donald Trump to make promised donation
  • 12 October 2018: Manned Soyuz space mission aborts during launch
  • 10 October 2018: UN Report on Global Warming calls for rapid ‘unprecedented’ changes globally to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degree C
  • 26 September 2018: Study suggests Mars hosted life-sustaining habitat for millions of years
  • 20 September 2018: NASA’s TESS spacecraft reports its first exoplanet

Have an opinion?
  • Post a new comment
  • Read previous comments

Previous coverage
  • “Japanese probe snatches first asteroid sample” — Wikinews, November 26, 2005
  • “$20 million prize offered in lunar rover contest” — Wikinews, September 13, 2007

Share this story


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.


This article is part of a page redesign trial on Wikinews. Please leave comments or bug reports on this redesign.This interview originally appeared on HDTVTotal.com, released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Credit for this interview goes to HDTVTotal.com and Andreas -horn- Hornig.


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Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Coinciding with Easter Sunday, Glasgow Cannabis Social Club’s annual 420 event was held on Glasgow Green, under sunny blue skies, and overlooking the river Clyde. Despite the city’s council attempting to revoke permission for the gathering at the last minute, police were happy for it to go-ahead with approximately a dozen officers attending in high-visibility vests.

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The Daily Record reported five arrests were made for minor offences, likely smoking and possession of small quantities of cannabis. Taking a less-sensational — and more accurate — line of reporting, the Monday edition of Glasgow’s Evening News stated five were referred to the Procurator Fiscal who is responsible for deciding if charges should be brought.

Official figures provided by the police were that 150 attended. With people coming and going, Wikinews reporters estimated upwards of 200 attended, compared to nearly 700 who had signed up for the event on Facebook. Hemp goods were advertised and on sale at the event, and some attendees were seen drinking cannabis-themed energy drinks.

“I was searched and charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act (which is a lot of bollocks)” one attendee noted online, adding “not fair to happen on a brilliant day like it was, other than that I had a great day!” A second said they were openly smoking and ignored by police, who “were only really focusing on people who looked particularly young”.

Cannabis seeds were openly and legally sold at the event and a hydroponics supplier brought a motortrike towing an advertising trailer. Actually growing cannabis is, however, illegal in the UK.

With the event openly advocating the legalisation of cannabis, speakers put their arguments for this to a receptive crowd. Retired police officer James Duffy, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, spoke of the failed United States alcohol prohibition policy; stressing such policies needlessly bring people into contact with criminal elements. Highlighting other countries where legalisation has been implemented, he pointed out such led to lower crime, and lower drug use overall.

One speaker, who produced a bottle of cannabis oil he had received through the post, asserted this cured his prostate cancer. Others highlighted the current use of Sativex by the National Health Service, with a cost in-excess of £150 for a single bottle of GW Pharmaceuticals patented spray — as-compared to the oil shown to the crowd, with a manufacturing cost of approximately £10.

Similar ‘420’ pro-cannabis events were held globally.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The International Monetary Fund and the European Union approved aid packages to help Georgia recover from its conflict with Russia, which occurred in early August. The IMF approved a US$750 million loan which will allow Georgia to rebuild its currency reserves. The European Union also approved an aid package of 500 million in aid by 2010, which is expected to help internally displaced people (IDPs) and economic recovery in the form of new infrastructure. Only €100 million of the EU aid will be given to Georgia this year.

These loans are aimed to restore confidence in Georgia’s economy and send a signal to international investors that Georgia’s economy is sound. According to the IMF, international investors have been “critical to Georgia’s economic growth in recent years.”

Takatoshi Kato, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chairman of the IMF executive committee, said the loan will “make significant resources available to replenish international reserves and bolster investor confidence, with the aim of sustaining private capital inflows that have been critical to Georgia’s economic growth in recent years.”

Georgia has requested $2 billion in international aid to help it recover from the conflict. So far, the United States has pledged $1 billion in aid. Further assistance and loans to Georgia are expected from other organizations. Kato noted that “…Georgia is expected to receive financial assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors and creditors in support of the reconstruction effort.” It is expected that an international donors’ conference will take place next month to solicit more aid for the country.

Georgia’s government expects that economic growth will be more than cut in half as a result of the conflict. Last year, Georgia’s GDP increased 12.4% and it is predicted by the IMF that growth will be less than 4 percent in the coming year.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Israeli Interior Ministry has announced today that 900 new housing units are slated to be built by Israeli officials at the Gilo settlement located in East Jerusalem.

A press release by the Interior Ministry read, “The planning and construction committee has authorised the construction of 900 housing units in the Gilo neighbourhood in Jerusalem.” Annexed after the 1967 war, East Jerusalem is what Palestinians still hope to make the capital of their future state. However, the current Israeli government has made claim to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and will remain as such,” said government spokesman Mark Regev.

Earlier this month the Palestinian Authority insisted that all negotiations with Israel would be put permanently on hold until settlement expansion and home demolitions were halted. The UN reports that 1,500 home demolition orders in East Jerusalem are currently pending in Israeli courts. At least 600 Palestinians have been displaced from their homes in East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year. Nearly 500,000 Israelis live in more than 100 different settlements located in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

U.S envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, asked President Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel settlement expansion plans, however his request went unheeded. Settlement expansion has soured relations between the U.S and Israel, however Israel is still the largest recipient of U.S aid annually. Responding to requests by the U.S government that settlement expansion be halted Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that he, “strongly objects to the American demand to halt construction in Jerusalem and will allow construction for Jews, Muslims, and Christians in any part of Jerusalem without prejudice. The demand to halt construction by religion is not legal in the United States or in any other free place in the world.”

Under international law building settlements in occupied territory is illegal. The UN has deemed Israeli settlements to be a violation of the Geneva Convention.



Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bruce McCaffrey, who was formerly the vice-president in charge of freight operations in the United States for Australian flag carrier Qantas, has been sentenced to eight months imprisonment and fined US$21,000 by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) for his involvement in a major air cargo price fixing cartel.

McCaffrey is one of six past and present employees of the airline who have been charged over the arrangement, which is thought to have run for six years starting in 2000. He is also the first individual to be sentenced regarding the cartel. He, as well as Stephen Cleary, group general manager for freight in Sydney, Harold Pang, general manager for freight sales in Singapore, Peter Frampton, former group general manager for freight, John Cooper former general manager for freight sales and Desmond Church, a former freight employee, were all charged after being exempt from immunity granted in a plea bargain by Qantas in which the airline paid a US$61 million fine.

In Australia price fixing is not actually a criminal offense, so former head of freight Peter Frampton and three other staff members in Australia will not be extradited to face charges. Meanwhile, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is seeking admittances of guilt from airlines whose operations fall under its jurisdiction in exchange for lighter penalties. Qantas is amongst those airlines.

The cartel, which prevented competition in air freight shipments rates, is said to involve almost thirty airlines. As well as Qantas, Japan Airlines, British Airways, Korean Air and Lufthansa have all had their involvement confirmed. Whistleblower Lufthansa, a German airline, was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for exposing the operation. In August, British Airways and Korean Air pled guilty to their involvement and received fines of US$300 million each. Last month Japan Airlines also admitted to their role and paid a US$110 million fine. Amongst the others alleged to be involved are Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Hundreds of Australian businesses are involved in a class action suit against these seven airlines for AU$200 million that they believe was unfairly charged to them as a result of criminal activity.

McCarthy, who ran Qantas’s Australia-US cargo route for twenty years, entered a plea bargain with the authorities. Under the US Sherman Act he could have faced up to a US$1.06 million fine and up to 10 years imprisonment, but the DoJ says that the maximum fine could actually be double the gain from the offences committed or double the loss of those victimised if either were found to be higher than the normal maximum. According to the case, he was involved with “meetings, conversations and communications in the US and elsewhere to discuss the cargo rates to be charged on certain routes to and from the US”.

In light of the news, shares in Qantas fell 3¢ to AU$3.41.



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