5 July

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

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.

5 July

Dubai leader Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum dead

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

“His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai has passed away. He was 62 years old.”

The above statement from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs confirmed that the ruler of Dubai died earlier this morning in Australia. The statement added that “the UAE had lost a historical leader from its leaders who dedicated his life to building the country, and strove to do his best for its people.”

The official mourning period will last for 40 days, during which all UAE flags will fly at half mast. Ministries and government organisations will be closed for seven days, starting Wednesday.

Local stock markets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai shed 1.8% and 3.3%, respectively, in early trading.

The Dubai Shopping Festival, the largest business & cultural event in Dubai’s calendar, has been postponed until further notice, in a statement by CEO Saeed Al Nabouda.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been named the new ruler of Dubai, in an accession process that officials described as being automatic.

29 June

Historic Florida attraction, Gatorland, partly destroyed by fire

Monday, November 6, 2006

Gatorland, an Orlando, Florida tourist attraction known for its gator wrestling shows and its conservation programs for alligators, crocodiles, and other reptiles and birds, was heavily damaged by fire on Monday morning, November 6, 2006.

The four-alarm fire was reported at 5:55am EST. The entrance building, which contains the administration offices and the gift shop, was destroyed. The only thing left standing of it was its iconic gator head front gate, whose upper jaw was almost completely charred.

At least four animals — two gators and two snakes, which were being kept near the gift shop — were feared dead. No humans were hurt. The other gators in the public display took refuge in the central pools, and were okay. The birds were in the aviary in the back, and were in no danger.

None of the attraction venues beyond the gift shop, however, were damaged. Gatorland hopes to reopen for tourists in a week, using a temporary entrance.

Orange County Fire Rescue is investigating the cause of the fire.

22 June

Wikinews interviews Jim Babka, chair of Libertarian organization Downsize DC

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A reporter from Wikinews recently interviewed Jim Babka, chair of Libertarian organization Downsize DC. The organization claims to have arranged for 22,158 people to send a message regarding the “American Freedom Agenda Act” proposed by Ron Paul, in addition to supporting many other laws. The full text of the interview can be found below.

20 June

Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

Buffalo, New York —Savarino Construction Services Corp. has proposed a $7 million hotel project at the Forest and Elmwood Avenue intersection, according to The Buffalo News. The proposal calls for a 5-story, 45,000 square-foot 80-room hotel with underground parking for at least 50 vehicles, and 4,500 square-feet of retail space on the lower level.

Hans Mobius, the owner of the five properties to be purchased in the plan (1109 to 1121 Elmwood), reportedly signed a contract with Savarino to assemble the development.

“We saw a huge opportunity to bring something to the Elmwood Village that will make sense and bring a service that’s currently not available,” said Eva Hassett, vice president of Savarino. “Elmwood is such a wonderful place to eat, shop, walk and spend time. We believe this project will add to that vibrant environment.”

Some business owners in the area see it differently. Wikinews interviewed 2 of the 4 owners whose business’s would be demolished if the development goes through.

Nancy Pollina, of Don Apparel at 1119 Elmwood, who found out about the development only yesterday, said she is “utterly” against the proposal. Her apparel shop has stood at the same location for nearly 14 years. She has volunteered in the community, and helped create several gardens around bus shelters in the city, and served on Forever Elmwood Board for six years as head of Beautification. Patty Morris co-owns Don Apparel with Pollina.

“To say this is a good looking project, I want to say the emperor has no clothes. This [project] does not take into consideration the needs of the college students. I have been told by college students, these shops here, are the reason they leave the campus,” said Mrs. Pollina.

Buffalo State College is 500-feet from the intersection.

Michael Faust, the owner of Mondo Video said, “Well, I do not really want to get kicked out of here. The landlord was very open, and the deal he made with me when I moved in here was ‘the rent is cheap and I [the landlord] will not fix anything and that will not change.'” Faust said he first learned of the development plan, “about 48 hours ago. I found out on Tuesday when the Buffalo News called and asked for my opinion on this.” Faust has not said if he will make plans to relocate. “We have to see if this [house] is going to get knocked down first,” said Faust.

An “informational” meeting, where citizens can voice opinions and learn about the proposal, will be held on Tuesday February 21, 2006 at 5:00pm (eastern), at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center Gallery at Buffalo State College, Rockwell Hall.

Executive director of Forever Elmwood Corporation, Justin P. Azzarella would not comment on whether or not the organization supports the development, saying, “you will just have to come to the meeting.”

Forever Elmwood Corp. is designed to preserve and protect the unique and historic nature of Elmwood Avenue and its surrounding neighborhoods and encourage neighborhood commercial revitalization. The organization was founded in 1994.

Nearly two years ago, the Forever Elmwood Corp. assisted in the blocking of the demolition of the Edward Atwater house at 1089 Elmwood next to Pano’s Restaurant which is at 1081 Elmwood. Owner Pano Georgiadis wanted to expand his restaurant onto the property where the house now stands, but the Common Council denied his permit to demolish saying the house is a historical landmark and needs to be protected. Georgiadis, who has a bleeding ulcer, said that all the court cases landed him in the hospital. “I got a bleeding ulcer, and since then, I don’t care about this house anymore, or this city. I just go to work every day. I think [preservationists] are parasites,” said Georgiadis.

Georgiadis will not be attending Tuesday’s meeting saying, “I will be out of town.”

In 1995 Hans Mobius proposed a plan to develop a Walgreens, that was to be placed in the same location, but residents and business owners shot down the proposal. Walgreens eventually withdrew its request for a variance after pressure from the community.

20 June

Ireland votes to overturn 35-year-old constitutional ban on abortion

Sunday, May 27, 2018

In the official result of Friday’s Irish referendum over the legality of abortion, referendum officer Barry Ryan announced yesterday 66.4% of voters favoured overturning the eighth amendment of the constitution. Introduced in 1983, the eighth amendment made abortion constitutionally illegal. Irish Taoiseach — Prime Minister — Leo Varadkar said supporting legislation, to be framed following the result of this referendum, is to be “enacted before the end of this year”.

More than 2.1 million people voted on the referendum on Friday. With a 64.1% turnout, 1,429,981 voted in favour of eliminating the abortion ban while 723,632 voted to keep it. The results were announced at Dublin Castle. About 6000 voters spoiled their votes. Calling it “an historic day”, Prime Minister Varadkar said it was “a great act of democracy.” Ministers said they would form laws allowing medical termination of pregnancy in the first trimester, twelve weeks, of pregnancy, and under special cases until the 24th week. The legislation is to be formed after discussion with medical experts.

Since the amendment, Article 40.3.3 of the Irish constitution, in 1983, which gave an unborn child equal rights to life as the mother, hundreds of thousands of women traveled to different countries for the medical termination of pregnancy, while some used medical drugs illegal in Ireland to terminate the pregnancy.

“Savita Matters, Women Matter” was one of the slogans used by the supporters who wanted to repeal the amendment. In October 2012, a 31-year-old dentist of Indian origin, Savita Halappanavar, died from sepsis at a Galway hospital after she was denied abortion for a protracted miscarriage. She was told by a midwife that termination of pregnancy would not be possible since Ireland was a “Catholic country”. Halappanavar’s photo was used for posters by supporters who wanted the 35-year-old amendment repealed. In 2016, the current Roman Catholic Pope, Pope Francis, described abortion as a “very grave sin” and a “horrendous crime”.

Halappanavar’s father Andanappa Yalagi told Hindustan Times, “We’ve got justice for Savita. What happened to her will not happen to any other family. I have no words to express my gratitude to the people of Ireland at this historic moment.” 39 of 40 Irish constituencies voted in favour of repealing the law, while voters in only one constituency, Donegal, voted against — 51.87% opting to keep the anti-abortion laws. After the result was announced, the crowd were chanting Savita’s name in front of Dublin Castle.

Cora Sherlock, an anti-abortion activist, said, “what we voted on today is the ending of human life.” “I will accept the will of the Irish people, at the same time I will make it very clear what I feel of the campaign that has taken place. We will now regroup and find out what our next move is”, she added. Another activist, David Quinn, said, “The result today is basically a reversal of the 1983 result. On that occasion the defeated side did not simply slip away.”

“The people have said that we want a modern constitution for a modern country”, Prime Minister Varadkar said. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later congratulated Varadkar on Twitter, saying: “What a moment for democracy and women’s rights.”

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20 June

11th suspect arrested in Laos overthrow plot; indictments handed down

Friday, June 15, 2007

An 11th man was arrested yesterday by U.S. federal agents in Fresno, California, on charges connected to the plot by 10 other men to overthrow the government of Laos.

Later yesterday, the federal grand jury Sacramento handed down indictments for the 11 men, including former Royal Lao Army general and Hmong leader Vang Pao.

Dang Vang, 48, was arrested at his Fresno home in an early morning raid by agents from the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.

Dang Vang, Vang Pao and the others are charged with violating the U.S. Neutrality Act, which outlaws using United States soil to conspire to overthrow a foreign government that has peaceful relations with the U.S.

“Federal law is without equivocation: you cannot conspire to overthrow a foreign government with whom our nation is at peace,” U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said in a statement to reporters.

According to the ATF, Dang Vang put the group’s “action plan” to paper, summarizing its plot to blow up government buildings in Laos and assassinate government officials. The plot even had a name: “Operation Popcorn,” or “Political Opposition Party’s Coup Operation to Rescue a Nation.”

In addition to the 77-year-old Vang Pao and Dang Vang, 48, those charged are:

  • Harrison Jack, 60, a West Point graduate, retired California National Guard colonel and U.S. Army Ranger in the Vietnam War.
  • Lo Cha Thao, 34, of Clovis
  • Lo Thao, 53, of Sacramento
  • Youa True Vang, 60, of Fresno
  • Hue Vang, 39, of Fresno
  • Chong Vang Thao, 53, of Fresno
  • Seng Vue, 68, of Fresno
  • Chue Lo, 59, of Stockton
  • Nhia Kao Vang, 48, of Rancho Cordova, California

Most of the men indicted are prominent members of the Hmong immigrant community in California’s Central Valley. They were arrested last week in a sting operation as the group was trying to purchase a rifles, missiles, rocket launchers, mines and explosives from an ATF agent posing as an arms dealer.

In an 88-page criminal complaint, federal prosecutors detailed the plot, which included airlifting the weapons to Thailand, and had an estimated cost of US$27.9 million. Funds for the operation were raised from donations by the Hmong community and other supporters of Vang Pao from across the U.S.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Vang Pao led a covert army of Hmong people, backed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, against communist forces in the Laotian Civil War, or “Secret War”, which paralleled the U.S. war in Vietnam.

Since the communist takeover of Laos in 1975, according to a March 2007 report by Amnesty International, Hmong people in Laos have taken to hiding in the mountains, on the run from a government that persecutes them for their role in the war.

U.S.-Laos diplomatic relations were strengthened in 1992, and in 2004, President George W. Bush extended normal trade relations to the southeast Asian country.

17 June

The Benefits Of Professional Auto Detailing In Baltimore

byAlma Abell

One of the most valuable possessions that most people have is their car, which means that making sure that it stays in optimum condition should be a top priority. There are a number of things that you can do in order to keep your car at peak condition but nothing beats having it detailed. With so many different options that are out there in the detailing world, you will have to do your research to figure out the best option for your needs. Here are a few of the benefits that come along with using a professional for Auto Detailing in Baltimore.

The Tools and The Know How to Use Them

The biggest benefits that comes along with using a professional for auto detailing is that they have many specialized tools for the job. This allows them to get the professional results that you are looking for without having to lift a finger. Instead of trying to adequately detail your car without the right tools, you need to pay a bit extra and let a professional do the job for you. Make sure to do some research in order to find the most experienced.

Well Worth the Money

Another benefit that comes with hiring a professional to detail your car is that the service is well worth the money that you pay. You need to make sure that you check around to see how much the shops in your area are charging for their services. The more you are able to find out about the price of the services that you need, the easier it will be to choose the right company for the job. Make sure that you are specific about what you need so you can get an accurate quote from each of the companies.

When in need of professional Auto Detailing in Baltimore, be sure to Contact Diamond Detail Inc. They have many years of experience that they will bring to the job that they perform for you. Call them or visit their website for more information on what they can do for you and the car that you have.

13 June

Virtual orchestra opens in London

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A virtual orchestra opened in London on August 19th 2006 outside the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank. But unlike a normal orchestra, this one features 58 specially designed cube-shaped seats which activate a musicical note. As more people sit down on the seats, more of the score is revealed.

The music will be added to an online sample library. Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of South Bank Centre, said: “This is exactly the way we are looking at developing our site by fusing the community with the artistic world of ideas and technology in our many versatile spaces.”

Alistair Mackie, chairman of the Philharmonia Orchestra, said: “Central to the Philharmonia Orchestra’s vision is exploiting new media to take music out to the widest possible audience, breaking down the barriers which have stood in the way of their access and enjoyment.”

Bethany, aged 10, went to the orchestra launch and she said: “It is a good experience. You get to see what it’s like to be in a real orchestra.” One of the main aims of the virtual orchestra is to get more people interested in classical music.

Every Saturday, a musician from the Philharmonic Orchestra will be visiting and they will bring their sound recording equipment.

12 June

Bangladesh security tightened following Pilkhana massacre and Bashundhara City fire

Friday, March 20, 2009

Following the Pilkhana massacre which occurred February 25 and 26 leaving 74 dead and the inferno at the Bashundhara City shopping mall complex March 13 leaving seven dead, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said security measures are being tightened countrywide across Bangladesh.

Fire drills will be enacted at all key-point installations (KPI). Fire fighting systems will be examined by the fire brigade and the public works department (PWD) to ensure functionality. Security measures will be enhanced supplementing areas under private security such as at the Bashundhara City Complex.

The Fire Service and Civil Defence Department requires modernization and needs new equipment to fight fires past the sixth floor of buildings. The Fire Brigade says it needs turntable ladders, snorkels, foam-tenders, lighting units, emergency tenders, fireproof uniforms, and rescue ropes for fire fighting and rescue operations. Transportation to fires is also an issue due to narrow roads, low electrical wires and congestion.

The Bangladesh National Building Code requires fire fighting equipment installed in buildings over seven floors. This code is to be monitored by authorities to ensure compliance with the new guidelines and to make sure buildings are being maintained.

The Bashundhara City Complex opened Monday for shoppers two days after Friday’s blaze. A probe is underway to determine the cause of the fire and to assess structural damage.

Loss of life was minimized as the blaze broke out on a Friday, the beginning of the weekend in Bangladesh, so offices in the upper floors were empty. The lower eight floors are used for shopping and the upper floors are all Bashundhara Group offices.

The mall is valued at Tk 7.0 billion (US$100 million). It is not known if the complex is covered by fire insurance.

It is estimated that it will take over two years to rebuild the area damaged by flames which were burned down to a skeleton. Bashundhara City’s technical advisor, Latifur Rahman, estimated damages at Tk 2.0 billion (US$29m).

Only one television cameraman has been allowed in to film the burnt area. None of the 2,500 shops, cinemas or cafes were burnt by the inferno. The seventh and eighth floors still experience smoke damage, and there was water damage to merchandise.

A three member committee is currently investigating the cause of the fire which will consist of Iqbal Khan Chowdhury, joint secretary of the ministry, representatives of the police, IGP Noor Muhammad, and fire brigade, Director General Abu Nayeem Md Shahidullah. The committee is required to report within the week with their findings. The forensics department is also sifting through the burnt remains.

The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries has also formed a committee which has begun interviewing witnesses and recording their testimony alongside the government committee.

It has been discovered that 150 closed circuit cameras were not being used when the fire started. Another mystery is why the mall fire fighting system has been found unused.

Why the fire burnt so fiercely is a matter to think….These matters seem to be mysterious

“In the shopping mall there is an ultra-technology elevator which runs even without electricity but we have found that locked,” Iqbal Khan Chowdhury, joint secretary (Police) of the home ministry, said. “Why the fire burnt so fiercely is a matter to think. We have to see if there was any incendiary substance there. These matters seem to be mysterious.”

Mall management has been asked to submit substances and items which would have been in the upper floors when the fire started. The fire erupted on the 17th floor and spread quickly to the two floors above and engulfed the three floors below. The aerial ladders belonging to the Fire Service and Civil Defence reached as high as the 13th floor of the 21-storey building.

Videos have been sent to the United States (US) for examination to assist in determining the cause of the fire and to help in the damage assessment. Experts from the US are expected to arrive soon.

Firefighters were brought to the rooftop of the 20-storey tower by helicopter. The only fatality in this operation was Baki Billa, a firefighter of Bashundhara City firefighting department, who fell when climbing down a rope from a helicopter to the roof of the building. Three other firefighters made the transition safely. At this same time, the chief security officer was safely rescued by the Bangladesh Air Force helicopter, a Bell 212. Six security officers of the complex also lost their lives.


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