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US unemployment rate reaches 9.8%
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Friday, October 2, 2009

Companies in the United States are shedding more jobs, pushing the country’s unemployment rate to a 26-year high of 9.8%.

The US Labor Department said on Friday that employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, with companies in the service industries — including banks, restaurants and retailers — hit especially hard. This is the 21st consecutive month of job losses in the country.

The United States has now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession officially began in December 2007. The new data has sparked fears that unemployment could threaten an economic recovery. Top US officials have warned that any recovery would be slow and uneven, and some have predicted the unemployment rate will top 10% before the situation improves.

“Continued household deleveraging and rising unemployment may weigh more on consumption than forecast, and accelerating corporate and commercial property defaults could slow the improvement in financial conditions,” read a report by the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, predicting that unemployment will average 10.1% by next year and not go back down to five percent until 2014.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, said that “it’s a very fragile and tentative recovery. Policy makers need to do more.”

“The number came in weaker than expected. We saw a lot of artificial involvement by the government to prop up the markets, and now that that is starting to end, the private sector isn’t yet showing signs of life,” said Kevin Caron, a market strategist for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

Also on Thursday, the US Commerce Department said factory orders fell for the first time in five months, dropping eight-tenths of a percent in August. Orders for durable goods — items intended to last several years (including everything from appliances to airliners) — fell 2.6%, the largest drop since January of this year.

The US government has been spending billions of dollars — part of a $787 billion stimulus package — to help spark economic growth. There have been some signs the economy is improving.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that spending on home construction jumped in August for its biggest increase in 16 years. A real estate trade group, the National Association of Realtors, said pending sales of previously owned homes rose more than 12 percent in August, compared to August 2008.

A separate Commerce Department report said that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, rose at its fastest pace in nearly eight years, jumping 1.3 percent in August.

Other reports have provided cause for concern. A banking industry trade group said Thursday the number of US consumers making late payments, or failing to make payments, on loans and credit cards is on the rise. A survey by a business group, the Institute for Supply Management, Thursday showed US manufacturing grew in September, but at a slower pace than in August when manufacturing increased for the first time in a year and a half.

Stock markets reacted negatively to the reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 41 points in early trading, reaching a level of 9467. This follows a drop of 203 points on Thursday, its largest loss in a single day since July. The London FTSE index fell 55 points, or 1.1%, to reach 4993 points by 15.00 local time.

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Glasgow cannabis enthusiasts celebrate ‘green’ on city green
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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.

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Mass wedding held against racism in Belgium
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Thursday, March 22, 2007

When Wouter Van Bellingen became the first black registrar in Belgium, he knew there would be negative reactions, but he admitted that he didn’t expect them to be “so direct, so soon.” In February, three couples refused to pledge their wedding vows in front of the first black alderman of the city of Sint-Niklaas, because of the colour of his skin. After the racist incident, Van Bellingen told himself: “If people don’t want to marry, then that’s not my problem, it’s the problem of those people.”

But then someone gave him the idea to react with a positive signal against racial discrimination. Together with local NGOs and the Center for Equal Opportunities and against Racial Discrimination, he decided to organise a multicultural group marriage happening to, as mayor of Sint-Niklaas Freddy Willockx describes it, “forge this stupid racist behaviour into an unparallelled positive signal against racism and for tolerance.”

Contents

  • 1 A positive signal against racism
  • 2 It started small
  • 3 The couples
  • 4 Multicultural activities during the event
  • 5 The 5 challenges
  • 6 The event in pictures
  • 7 Related news
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Wikinews interviews Buddy Roemer, U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate and former Governor Buddy Roemer of Louisiana took some time to answer a few questions from Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn.

Roemer served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1980s as a member of the Democratic Party. He was elected governor as a Democrat in 1987 before switching to the Republican Party ahead of the 1991 election for governor. That year, he lost the party’s primary to state legislator David Duke. After his governorship, Roemer worked as CEO of Business First Bank in Baton Rouge.

Roemer announced his candidacy for president back in July after exploring a bid for several months. He has focused his campaign on the issue of campaign finance reform, refusing to accept money from political action committees (PACs) and limiting individual campaign contributions to $100. He raised a total of $126,500 in the third quarter of 2011, far short of the $14.2 million raised by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

For his campaign, Roemer has adopted the slogan ‘Free to Lead’. He rails against corruption, special interests, and money in politics, and has expressed support for the Occupy Wall Street protests. Furthermore, he has taken issue positions in favor of fair trade, a balanced federal budget, and a strengthened national defense.

Roemer has not been invited to any national presidential debates. He has focused largely on the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, and recently signed up to appear on the state’s primary ballot. However, a recent University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll shows him with less than one percent support in the state. Pearson Cross of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette commented, “If Buddy can exceed expectations in New Hampshire or even sneak in and steal third — that would give a boost that he could build on”.

Contents

  • 1 Interview
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

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Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal
Published in October 18th, 2018
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

Chilean miners trapped after mine collapse; miscalculated drilling delays rescue

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Chilean miners trapped after mine collapse; miscalculated drilling delays rescue
Published in October 17th, 2018
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A gold mine collapse in Copiapó, Atacama Region, Chile has trapped 33 miners since last Thursday. Another collapse occurred on Saturday, that provoked temporary suspension of the rescue works.

Rescue efforts were first focused on a ventilation shaft, but attempts to reach the miners failed. Rescuers have been drilling into the mine since Sunday. “The situation is very complex, the mine continues to have collapses because there is a geological fault-line,” said Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile, who “pledged to do everything possible to get to the trapped miners,” but acknowledged he was pessimistic.

There is no certainty that the miners, who are trapped about 400 meters (1300 feet) below the ground, are still alive.

BBC spends £3.4m on sell-off

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BBC spends £3.4m on sell-off
Published in October 17th, 2018
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Newspaper The Guardian reports today that the sale of the BBC subsidiary BBC Resources Ltd., has cost £3.4m in consultancy fees — over £1m more than the £2.3m trading profit the commercial division is estimated to have made for the last financial year. Details of the failed privatisation were released by the BBC following a freedom of information request, and prior to publication of its annual report on July 8.

Fourteen months after advisers were appointed to try to sell BBC Resources Ltd., only one of the three main business units has been sold — its Outside Broadcast division to Satellite Information Services Limited (SIS), for an estimated £20m. On March 7, 2008 it was also announced that the studios operation would remain in BBC ownership and in early June, the fate of the third business was put on hold with the BBC stating that “like Studios, Post Production will remain within BBC Resources, which will continue to operate as a wholly-owned commercial subsidiary of the BBC.”

BBC Resources Ltd. made an operating profit of £6.1m for 2005-06, down from £7.4m the year before, with the BBC accounting for 83.3% of its turnover, down from 87.4% for 2004-05. Last year’s published figure for 2006-07 was £5.2 million — with BBC business at 80% of turnover.

BECTU Assistant General Secretary Luke Crawley is quoted as saying: “It’s fairly outrageous that around half the profit of the company [announced last year] has been spent trying to sell it. It’s an inordinate amount of money. The BBC was promised big returns if it sold BBC Resources but it’s only managed to sell outside broadcasts and we do not know how much it made out of that. We think the £3.4m is a poor investment.”

Contents

  • 1 Background to the Resources sale
    • 1.1 BBC Costume and Wigs
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links

Highway bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapses

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Highway bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapses
Published in October 16th, 2018
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Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Interstate 35W Mississippi River eight-lane bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota has collapsed on both sides of the highway over the Mississippi River during rush hour.

Previous reports indicated at least nine people had died, but Minneapolis police revised this to four during a 7:30 a.m. (local time) press conference. Tim Dolan, the Minneapolis Police Chief later stated that “several [adding to the four] people are confirmed dead at the scene,” but would not elaborate on how many. At least 79 have been injured and at least 8 are still missing, still believed to be in the rubble.

The road was busy with bumper-to-bumper traffic in four lanes when the entire 1907 foot (581 m) steel arch bridge collapsed. At least 50 cars were traveling on the bridge, including a school bus. The Red Cross said that 60 children were aboard a school bus, and that ten of those were admitted to a hospital.

The entire length of the bridge over the river collapsed at 6:05 p.m. CDT (UTC-5). The bridge, built in 1967, cleared the water level by 64 feet; the deck surface and pavement were considerably higher.

Reports say that people may be trapped in the water. Further, “many voids may contain survivors, but we cannot search those voids until it’s safe,” said Jim Clack, Minneapolis Fire Chief, during a press conference.

“One has died from drowning,” said a doctor from the medical center during an 8:00 pm press conference, who also said that so far 22 are in “yellow condition” and at least six are in “critical condition.”

Minneapolis officials have stated during an earlier press conference that “people are being sent downtown and all survivors are off the bridge. We are seeking help from the Red Cross.” and “[…]at least 60 children are receiving trauma care some with severe injures, some with minor injuries.”

Most of the injured have been received by Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis for medical treatment. Area hospitals are requesting all off duty staff and all Minneapolis ambulances to report. Residents are being encouraged to stay away from the area to let emergency crews do their work.

It is not known what caused the collapse, but there was construction being performed on the bridge’s road surface which included the use of jackhammers and the FBI has ruled out terrorism.

“Although it is much too early to make any determination of the cause, we have no reason at this time to believe there is any nexus to terrorism,” said Paul McCabe, an FBI spokesman.

In 2001 a stress inspection was done and Minnesota Department of Transportation stated that the bridge “should not have any problems with fatigue cracking in the foreseeable future.”

Typically an eight-lane bridge, the bridge was reduced to four lanes (two in each direction) during the current construction. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) had just announced overnight lane reductions on the bridge to one lane in each direction for the late evening hours of July 31 and August 1.

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