Dollar reaches record low after US consumer confidence and home prices fall

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The U.S. Dollar fell to an all time low against the Euro after data from the U.S. heightened concerns regarding an economic recession.

The U.S. currency traded at 1.444 versus the Euro and reached a 26-year low against the British Pound. An index that measures US consumer confidence fell in October to 95,6 points while in August U.S. home prices declined 4,4%, the biggest fall of the past six years. The data bolsters speculation that the Federal Reserve may cut interest rates in the next meeting. The U.S. central bank is set to decide on interest rates on the 31st of October and economists expect a 25 basis point cut to 4,50%

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Explicit Canadian workplace safety ads pulled from TV due to Christmas season

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Controversial and explicit Canadian workplace safety ads have been pulled from television, and paper ads from some bus shelters for the Christmas season. However, the ads will return to air in January.

“It’s totally erroneous to suggest we’re pulling anything,” chairman of the Workplace Safety and Information Board of Ontario, Steve Mahoney said. “Our plan from Day 1 was to stop the ads around the middle of December when most of the advertising that’s in the media is focused on Christmas and purchasing gifts. We just didn’t want to be competing with all that stuff.”

In one of the TV ads a woman accidentally slips on grease on the floor and a large steaming pot falls onto her face, and she starts screaming to death. The ads end with the message “There really are no accidents”.

A paper ads shows a construction worker who is in a pool of blood with a forklift operation manual stuck in his chest. Another with a man who is slit by a “Danger” sign with his leg stuck in a machine. They show the messages: “Lack of training can kill” and the other “Ignoring safety procedures can kill”.

“The critics amount to about 25 per cent rating, and I’m delighted they’re upset about the ads because I wouldn’t want anyone to enjoy watching them.”

The videos have been viewed more than 70,000 times on the Board’s website and are gaining large amounts of views on YouTube.

The transit authorities of Hamilton and Mississauga will show modified advertisements. The transit authority of Guelph will show the ads in bus shelters, but the transit authority of Windsor will not because of the graphic nature.

“We’re not against workplace safety, but this is too graphic,” said Caroline Postma, chair of the Transit Windsor board.

Mississauga city councillour Carolyn Parrish said: “My son-in-law was telling me that they shouldn’t be on in prime time because when [my grandson] watches them he just about bursts into tear. Now he follows his mom around the kitchen to make sure she doesn’t spill grease. And he’s only four. There’s too much of a chance that … people are really badly affected by it, and can’t really do anything about it anyway.” She suggested the ads only be aired to workers with the jobs shown in the commercials.

Mahoney changed the earlier promise to air the ads only after 8:00pm to after 9:00pm at last nights meeting with Mississauga city council.

Mahoney said the commercials and paper ads are not “too graphic at all”. And they are “absolutely appropriate and they’re doing what they’re intended to do, they’re creating what I call a water cooler topic of conversation.”

Ninety-eight Canadian workers so far have been killed on the job this year.

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DirecTV tunes out Trio, network in limbo

Saturday, January 1, 2005

The future of the artsy Trio channel became increasingly grim Saturday as satellite TV giant DirecTV dropped the fledgling network from its national channel lineup.

When DirectTV programmers threw the off switch at 6 a.m. eastern standard time Jan. 1, Trio, an NBC Universal-owned cable television channel, lost two-thirds of its 20 million household subscribers. The channel’s remaining 8 million subscribers may not give it enough audience to ensure its survival, according to some experts.

The network received critical acclaim for a quirky lineup that includes the series, Brilliant But Cancelled, which took American broadcast networks, including parent NBC, to task for cancelling quality programs.

Trio originally got its start in the 1980s as a Canadian cable channel owned by the CBC. Its original slate was described as “a general entertainment channel that features the most successful contemporary dramas, documentaries and films from Canada, the UK and Australia. For the last six years, TRIO has been the largest exporter of Canadian TV programs to the US with over 3,000 hours of content,” according to CBC press releases.

The channel’s Canadian roots were cut in 2000 when media mogul Barry Diller snapped up Trio and sister channel News World International from the CBC and partner Power Corp. for $155 million in cash. Diller saw the channel as a cheap consolation prize after he was outbid by NBC for the Bravo cable network earlier that year. Within months, Diller rebranded Trio, dumped the Canadian dramas and geared it more toward edgier pop culture programming.

Over the next couple of years, Trio changed hands twice. First to Vivendi Universal, then to NBC in a package deal that landed the American TV network a movie studio and the USA and SCI FI cable networks. Trio was seen as more of an afterthought at the time.

In a hint of what may be the fate of the channel, NBC Universal moved most of Trio’s executive and programming staff over to Bravo, a now-sibling network, which is seen in 80 million U.S. homes. Some experts predict that Trio will eventually be folded with its more successful programming ported over to Bravo.

“Trio was a refreshing oasis on the dial, with a quirky pop-culture attitude that showed in its programming. Trio leaving is kind of like having a witty friend move out of town,” Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, MSNBC television critic said in her weekly column. “It’ll be missed.”

NBC Universal has not commented publicly on the long-term future or specific plans for Trio channel besides to say it was committed to programming the network for current subscribers as the conglomerate re-evaluates its digital cable strategy.

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Over 10,000 attend Gallipoli dawn service for ANZAC Day centenary

Monday, April 27, 2015

A crowd of over 10,000 people attended the dawn service on Saturday at Gallipoli, Turkey for the 100th anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops there in 1915. The solemn remembrance ceremony was held at the site of the original Gallipoli landings, now known as Anzac Cove.

The Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War is remembered as a failed attack in which thousands of lives were lost for little to no gain for either side. The campaign killed 45,000 Allied and 86,000 Turkish troops.

Attendees at the dawn service included Prince Charles, the Prime Minister of Australia, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s speech later in the day emphasised the importance of the day to Australians. “Like every generation since, we are here on Gallipoli because we believe the Anzacs represented Australians at their best. Because they rose to their challenges, we believe it is a little easier for us to rise to ours. Their example helps us to be better than we would otherwise be”, he said.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key at dawn described Gallipoli as a symbol of the highest ideals of Australians and New Zealanders “especially when they work side by side in the face of adversity”.

Prince Charles stirred emotions by reading extracts from a serviceman’s diary. The diary entry, by Company Quartermaster Sergeant Benjamin Leane, was addressed to his wife and was written hours before the first Gallipoli landing.

The centenary milestone of Anzac Day also drew a Turkish security force of 3700, both police and paramilitary. Attendees entered past six security checkpoints.

A record 120,000 people also attended services at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to commemorate the centenary.

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Flexible displays soon to be in production

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Roll up displays for use in hand-held gadgets will be available for mass production by March 2007 according to co-developer Philips. Working with US based paper pioneer E-ink, Philips have developed a 13cm wide screen which is just 0.1 millimetres thick and can be rolled up so that it is only 15 millimetres in diameter.

The screen, which Philips hope to license to makers of in-car satellite navigation systems, mobile web browsers and smart phones, uses no back light and displays a monochrome image in four shades of grey as well as black and white. According to Philips the screen is able to give a “paper-like contrast”.

The screen consists of a backing layer of plastic film which contains a matrix of transistors. This is topped off with layer transparent “electronic ink” capsules and a layer of clear plastic. The capsules are approximately 50 micrometres in diameter and contain polarised black and white particles. Using the transistors, a pattern of positive and negative charge can be applied which manipulates the particles to form monochrome images.

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Australian man arrested at U.S. Capitol building

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A 33-year old visitor to the United States, named Wen Hao Zhao from Sydney, Australia, was arrested at the Capitol building on Monday, after he was observed by police standing in a “statue-like pose” and carrying two suitcases.

When confronted by officers of the United States Capitol Police (USCP) who were called to the scene at 12:45 p.m. EST, he is reported to have been unresponsive to questioning. “He only would say at first that he wanted to speak to President Bush,” according to USCP Chief Terrance W. Gainer. Some reports suggest that the man was limited or unresponsive in his use of English.

The West Lawn area next to the Capitol building and an adjacent part of 1st Street was evacuated and tourists were briefly prevented from entering the building on the possibility that the suitcases may have contained a bomb.

Authorities X-rayed the bags and examined them for over 3 hours. One bag was found to contain only clothing. The other bag, which apparently was thought to contain wiring which might belong to an explosive device, was destroyed on-site with a water cannon; after which, the bag was found to have contained only common items such as a CD player, batteries, and a watch.

Zhao was arrested at 1:45 p.m. EST without resistance on charges of disorderly conduct; other more serious charges could be filed. However, Allen Doody of U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has indicated plans to deport Zhao back to Australia within a few days without charges. “We do not plan to charge him,” Doody said.

Zhao is dual-nationality Chinese-Australian, who entered the US legally on his Australian passport less than a week ago.

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Rachel Weisz wants Botox ban for actors

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

English actress Rachel Weisz thinks that Botox injections should be banned for all actors.

The 39-year-old actress, best known for her roles in the Mummy movie franchise and for her Academy Award-winning portrayal in The Constant Gardener, feels facial Botox injections leave actors less able to convey emotion and that it harms the acting industry as much as steroids harm athletes.

In an interview with UK’s Harper’s Bazaar, coming out next month, Weisz says, “It should be banned for actors, as steroids are for sportsmen,” she claims. “Acting is all about expression; why would you want to iron out a frown?”

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Currently living in New York, she also mentions that English women are much less worried about their physical appearance than in the United States. “I love the way girls in London dress,” she claimed. “It’s so different to the American ‘blow-dry and immaculate grooming’ thing.”

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Flight lands safely with help from mobile phone text messages

Monday, August 11, 2008

In November 2007, a twin-engine 30-year-old Piper aircraft lost all electrical power on board shortly after departing from Kerry airport in Ireland for a flight to Jersey. Without any electrical power, the pilot was unable to use his radio to contact air traffic control. He was briefly able to re-establish contact with the tower using his cell phone, but that was also disrupted.

The report into the incident published on August 6 revealed how a quick-thinking air traffic controller in Cork started sending directions to the pilot by text message. With this assistance, the plane, with five people on board, landed safely after the undercarriage was lowered manually and air traffic control visually confirmed that it was down. Prior to lowering the undercarriage, the first officer noticed that the nose wheel had failed to retract fully and was actually at half its travel.

“In this incident the positive and proactive initiative of the ATC controller, who, on realising that mobile audio communication from the pilot was intermittent, quickly switched to texting his instructions instead”, said John Hughes, an air accident investigator who reported on the incident. “This contributed to the safe resolution of the incident and, for such, the controller should be commended for his actions.”

The pilot, aged 39 and with 1,900 hours of flying experience, succeeded in climbing to an altitude of 6,500 feet without any problems, but needed to communicate to ensure a safe landing. He originally attempted to contact Kerry airport, and after that failed he made attempts to contact Cork.

The report found that the loss of electrical power was due to the aircraft’s alternators failing to maintain the required voltage, probably due to the battery voltage being insufficient to excite the alternator’s windings. The relay may have been in poor condition after having been subjected to a heavy load following take-off, possibly contributing to the incident.

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Australian murder victims killed in different ways

Thursday, July 3, 2008

69-year-old grandfather John Walsh stands accused of murdering three victims in the small New South Wales town of Cowra. All victims were killed in different ways.

Media organisations have reported that the 69-year-old man killed his five year old grand daughter by drowning; her seven year old brother was killed by a blunt force trauma to the back of the head, and his wife was killed by multiple axe wounds to her body – including her head.

New South Wales Police could not confirm the post-mortem examination, saying that the results of the post-mortem examination are not expected to be finalised for a couple of days and may not be immediately made public.

The 69-year-old man, who went before Deniliquin Local Court on July 1, 2008, was refused bail and charged with three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. He is currently in a special holding cell on 24-hour watch at the Junee Correctional Centre. A further appearance is due in Wagga Wagga Local Court via an audio-visual link on July 7, 2008.

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Details emerge on fatal stabbing at Belgian day care centre

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Prosecutor Christian Du Four has released more details on the fatal stabbing in a day care center in East Flanders, Belgium, yesterday, in which two children (six and nine months old) and one employee were killed. Ten children and two adults were injured.

The alleged perpetrator, a 20-year-old man from nearby Sint-Niklaas, was arrested in the neighbouring municipality of Lebbeke shortly after the crime. Belgian news website nieuwsblad.be have named the arrested man as Kim De Gelder.

The attacker wore a bullet-proof vest under his clothes and a backpack containing a knife, an axe and a fake pistol. Two other knives were found near the crime scene.

The prosecutor confirmed that the man’s face was painted white with blackened eyes as he committed the crime, which led international media to make comparisons to the Joker, the villain from the Batman series.

“I have a question,” the killer told the first employee he encountered, after which he immediately stabbed her, and started his rampage. One female day care worker attempted to disarm the killer while others locked the doors. The killer stabbed employees trying to carry children to safety.

The arrested man is not cooperating with the investigation and has not confessed. The prosecutor described his attitude as “passive”. “He says nothing to his questioners. He is absolutely uncooperative,” the prosecutor explained. Yesterday, media reported that the killer was laughing at the officers who were questioning him, but the prosecutor today denied these speculations.

According to the crime scene investigation, the man entered the building through an unlocked side-entrance which gave immediate access to the room with the babies. He stabbed several of them, then went to another room where he stabbed other children. He then fled on the bicycle on which he had arrived.

Panic struck in Dendermonde amidst fears that the man would attack more crèches or schools. There were reports that the killer carried a note with names and addresses of other day care centres or schools nearby, something which the prosecutor could not comment on. The Associated Press says three judicial officials anonymously confirmed that the attacker carried addresses of three other nurseries. Following news of the stabbings, all schools in Dendermonde were ordered to keep all gates shut.

Eyewitness Hans Staelens told reporters that he had noticed a suspicious character in the street where the day care centre ‘Fable Land’ was located. He described him as “not too tall, thin, red hair, dark eyes, like make-up”.

The alleged killer lived alone and was unemployed, but does not have a criminal record. “There is no element whatsoever that makes us believe he has a psychiatric history,” the prosecutor told the press at a conference today. He has commissioned three psychiatrists to examine the man. Kim D. was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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One child and one woman died in the day care centre itself, with another child dying in hospital. All injured are reported to be in stable condition. Three children and one adult remain in intensive care. Five others also remain hospitalised, although several are expected to be discharged at some point during the weekend.

54-year-old Marita Blindeman, who was killed in the attack, worked in the day care centre, which was sponsored by social services, since she was 18. Since the death of her father, she lived with, and took care of, both her mother and her sister, who has a learning disability. Just two years ago, she started having a relationship with a man, according to her son in a letter to newspapers.

Only six of the 18 children in the crèche, all under the age of three, were uninjured. Meanwhile, the decision has been taken not to reopen the day care centre, but to provide day care in other facilities. Six employees were present during the attack.

Friday evening, the Belgian crown prince and his wife visited the crime scene. The couple, who have four children, were moved deeply by the killings.

Some hundred people have signed a mourning registry in Dendermonde’s city hall, and flowers and teddy bears were left at the day care centre. A silent demonstration is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and a mourning ceremony will be held on Monday evening.

Several media outlets have discussed the safety of day care centres. Minister Veerle Heeren said she would consider additional safety measures if the investigation suggests it, but also added that, “a day care centre should be a haven, not a prison.”

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