Dubai receives bailout from Abu Dhabi

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Dubai receives bailout from Abu Dhabi

By | September 22, 2018

Monday, December 14, 2009

The government of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates has agreed to give US$10 billion to its neighboring emirate, allowing the state-owned Dubai World conglomerate to repay its immediate debt obligations. Dubai says more than $4 billion of the injection will be given to Dubai World’s property firm, Nakheel, to repay its Islamic bond that matures Monday. The remaining funds will go towards additional expenses.

News of the last-minute bailout caused Asian stocks to rebound and pushed European shares up, which saw gains for a third straight session. Markets in the UAE also rose, with Dubai’s index moving up by 10 percent and Abu Dhabi’s jumping by seven percent. Despite the good news, Algebra Capital Managing Director Dino Kronfol says Dubai is not out of the woods yet. “This is not something that is going to be resolved in a matter of weeks. It’s going to take some time,” Kronfol said. “It’s going to involve restructuring and we’ll have to see how that transpires. But nonetheless, this is a positive development today.”

The situation is completely different from just a few weeks ago, when Dubai World shook up global markets by asking for a standstill on its $26 billion debt. The government of Dubai made matters worse when it announced it would not guarantee the state-owned company’s bills.

Dubai World’s creditors still need to approve the standstill and effectively have until December 28 to make a decision. That is when the grace period of Nakheel’s bond ends. The government of Dubai has issued a new law allowing the conglomerate to file for bankruptcy if its restructuring is not successful. But Kronfol says, if the process focuses on necessary aspects, it will succeed.

“If the restructuring actually deals with Dubai’s contingent liabilities,” Kronfol said, “as a long-term solution, this actually really will help put the whole debt situation of Dubai behind us and really allow the markets to look more positively at 2010 and beyond.”

Government sources say Dubai World’s restructuring process could include asset sales, but they would be limited to the Nakheel and Limitless companies and not include Istithmar World, which owns U.S. Luxury retailer Barneys.

Wikinews interviews Duncan Campbell, co-founder of wheelchair rugby

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Wikinews interviews Duncan Campbell, co-founder of wheelchair rugby

By | September 21, 2018

Friday, September 7, 2012

London, England — On Wednesday, Wikinews interviewed Duncan Campbell, one of the creators of wheelchair rugby.

((Laura Hale)) You’re Duncan Campbell, and you’re the founder of…

Duncan Campbell: One of the founders of wheelchair rugby.

((Laura Hale)) And you’re from Canada, eh?

Duncan Campbell: Yes, I’m from Canada, eh! (laughter)

((Laura Hale)) Winnipeg?

Duncan Campbell: Winnipeg, Manitoba.

((Laura Hale)) You cheer for — what’s that NHL team?

Duncan Campbell: I cheer for the Jets!

((Laura Hale)) What sort of Canadian are you?

Duncan Campbell: A Winnipeg Jets fan! (laughter)

((Laura Hale)) I don’t know anything about ice hockey. I’m a Chicago Blackhawks fan.

((Hawkeye7)) Twenty five years ago…

Duncan Campbell: Thirty five years ago!

((Laura Hale)) They said twenty five in the stadium…

Duncan Campbell: I know better.

((Hawkeye7)) So it was 1977.

((Laura Hale)) You look very young.

Duncan Campbell: Thank you. We won’t get into how old I am.

((Hawkeye7)) So how did you invent the sport?

Duncan Campbell: I’ve told this story so many times. It was a bit of a fluke in a way, but there were five of us. We were all quadriplegic, that were involved in sport, and at that time we had the Canadian games for the physically disabled. So we were all involved in sports like table tennis or racing or swimming. All individual sports. And the only team sport that was available at that time was basketball, wheelchair basketball. But as quadriplegics, with hand dysfunction, a bit of arm dysfunction, if we played, we rode the bench. We’d never get into the big games or anything like that. So we were actually going to lift weights one night, and the volunteer who helped us couldn’t make it. So we went down to the gym and we started throwing things around, and we tried a few things, and we had a volleyball. We kind of thought: “Oh! This is not bad. This is a lot of fun.” And we came up with the idea in a night. Within one night.

((Hawkeye7)) So all wheelchair rugby players are quadriplegics?

Duncan Campbell: Yes. All wheelchair rugby players have to have a disability of some kind in all four limbs.

((Laura Hale)) When did the classification system for wheelchair rugby kick in?

Duncan Campbell: It kicked in right away because there was already a classification system in place for wheelchair basketball. We knew basketball had a classification system, and we very consciously wanted to make that all people with disabilities who were quadriplegics got to play. So if you make a classification system where the people with the most disability are worth more on the floor, and you create a system where there are only so many points on the floor, then the people with more disability have to play. And what that does is create strategy. It creates a role.

((Hawkeye7)) Was that copied off wheelchair basketball?

Duncan Campbell: To some degree, yes.

((Laura Hale)) I assume you’re barracking for Canada. Have they had any classification issues? That made you

Duncan Campbell: You know, I’m not going to… I can’t get into that in a major way in that there’s always classification issues. And if you ask someone from basketball, there’s classification issues. If you ask someone from swimming… There’s always classification issues. The classifiers have the worst job in the world, because nobody’s ever satisfied with what they do. But they do the best they can. They’re smart. They know what they’re doing. If the system needs to change, the athletes will, in some way, encourage it to change.

((Laura Hale)) Do you think the countries that have better classifiers… as someone with an Australian perspective they’re really good at classification, and don’t get theirs overturned, whereas the Americans by comparison have had a number of classification challenges coming in to these games that they’ve lost. Do you think that having better classifiers makes a team better able to compete at an international level?

Duncan Campbell: What it does is ensures that you practice the right way. Because you know the exact classifications of your players then you’re going to lineups out there that are appropriate and fit the classification. If your classifications are wrong then you may train for six months with a lineup that becomes invalid when that classification. So you want to have good classifiers, and you want to have good classes.

((Laura Hale)) When you started in 1977, I’ve seen pictures of the early wheelchairs. I assume that you were playing in your day chair?

Duncan Campbell: Yes, all the time. And we had no modifications. And day chairs at that time were folding chairs. They were Earjays or Stainless. That’s all the brands there were. The biggest change in the game has been wheelchairs.

((Laura Hale)) When did you retire?

Duncan Campbell: I never retired. Still play. I play locally. I play in the club level all the time.

((Laura Hale)) When did you get your first rugby wheelchair?

Duncan Campbell: Jesus, that’s hard for me to even think about. A long time ago. I would say maybe twenty years ago.

((Laura Hale)) Were you involved in creating a special chair, as Canadians were pushing the boundaries and creating the sport?

Duncan Campbell: To a degree. I think everybody was. Because you wanted the chair that fit you. Because they are all super designed to an individual. Because it allows you to push better, allows you to turn better. Allows you to use your chair in better ways on the court. Like you’ve noticed that the defensive chairs are lower and longer. That’s because the people that are usually in a defensive chair have a higher disability, which means they have less balance. So they sit lower, which means they can use their arms better, and longer so they can put screens out and set ticks for those high point players who are carrying the ball. It’s very much strategic.

((Hawkeye7)) I’d noticed that in wheelchair basketball the low point player actually gets more court time…

Duncan Campbell: …because that allows the high point player to play. And its the same in this game. Although in this game there’s two ways to go. You can go a high-low lineup, which is potentially two high point players and two very low point players, which is what Australia does right now with Ryley Batt and the new kid Chris Bond. They have two high point players, and two 0.5 point players. It makes a very interesting scenario for, say, the US, who use four mid-point players. In that situation, all four players can carry the ball; in the Australian situation, usually only two of them can carry the ball.

((Laura Hale)) Because we know you are going soon, the all-important question: can Canada beat the Australians tonight?

Duncan Campbell: Of course they are. (laughter)

((Laura Hale)) Because Australians love to gamble, what’s your line on Canada?

Duncan Campbell: It’s not a big line! I’m not putting a big line on it! (laughter) I’d say it’s probably 6–5.

((Hawkeye7)) Is your colour commentary for the Canadian broadcast?

Duncan Campbell: That was for the IPC. I did the GB–US game this morning. I do the Sweden–Australia game tomorrow at two. And then I’m doing the US–France game on the last day.

((Laura Hale)) Are you happy with the level of coverage the Canadians are providing your sport?

Duncan Campbell: No.

((Laura Hale)) Thank you for an honest answer.

Duncan Campbell: Paralympic Sports TV is their own entity. They webcast, but they’re not a Canadian entity. Our Canadian television is doing… can I swear?

((Laura Hale)) Yeah! Go ahead!

Duncan Campbell: No! (laughter) They’re only putting on an hour a day. A highlight package, which to me is…

((Hawkeye7)) It’s better than the US.

Duncan Campbell: Yes, I’ve heard it’s better than the US. At the same time, it’s crap. You have here [in Great Britain], they’ve got it on 18 hours a day, and it’s got good viewership. When are we going to learn in North America that viewership is out there for it? How many times do we have to demonstrate it? We had the Paralympics in Vancouver two years ago, the Winter Paralympics, and we had crappy coverage there. There was an actual outburst demand to put the opening ceremonies on TV because they weren’t going to do it. And they had to do it, because everybody complained. So they did it, but they only did it in BC, in our home province, where they were holding it. The closing ceremonies they broadcast nationally because the demand was so high. But they still haven’t changed their attitudes.

((Laura Hale)) I have one last question: what did it mean for you when they had a Canadian flag bearer who was a wheelchair rugby player?

Duncan Campbell: I recruited that guy. It was fantastic. I recruited him. Found him playing hockey. And that guy has put in so much time and effort into the game. He absolutely deserves it. No better player.

((Laura Hale)) Thank you!

((Hawkeye7)) Thank you! Much appreciated.

Nine dead after armed Santa Claus opens fire in LA suburb

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Nine dead after armed Santa Claus opens fire in LA suburb

By | September 17, 2018

Monday, December 29, 2008

At least nine people have been killed in a two-story house in Covina, California, after a man dressed in a full Santa Claus outfit opened fire at a Christmas Eve party and then set the house ablaze. Covina is a city in Los Angeles County, California about 22 miles (35 km) east of downtown Los Angeles.

According to local police, the Christmas party at the 1100 block of East Knollcrest Drive was attended by about 25 people. Trend News Agency said that the gunman fired two semi-automatic handguns and used an apparently home-made pressurized device to spread some kind of accelerant. As the guests tried in vain to escape, the gunman used his ‘present’ to spray inflammable liquid that started the raging blaze. Reports from the scene said Molotov cocktails were also used by the madman.

Media reports said the gunman was plotting vengeance against his ex-wife. Prime suspect, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, age 45, six-foot-three-inch, 250 pound (1.9 meter, 113 kilogram), an electrical engineer, is long time Roman Catholic church usher and a laid-off aerospace worker. He worked with ITT Electronic Systems, Radar Systems, in Van Nuys from February 2005 to July 2008, and as an engineer at Northrop Grumman for five months in 2005, according to Court records. He had also worked for about nine years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena until 1994.

Pardo’s ex-sister-in-law, who escaped from the Covina house alive with her injured daughter, called 911. Police on Friday released her 911 audio.

Msnbc.com has reported that Pardo “has brown hair and blue eyes, and known to frequent La Crescenta and La Verne.” Court records reveal that Mr Pardo’s wife acrimoniously divorced him last September. The divorce decree was finalized December 18. Until earlier this year, he lived in the Sylmar house with his ex-wife and her three children. The marriage lasted barely a year. However, Pardo held no criminal record and had no history of violence.

There is some speculation that the divorce may have been caused by Pardo concealing a paraplegic child from a previous relationship. Matthew, his nine-year-old son, by another former girlfriend, Elena Lucano, became brain damaged when he fell into a backyard swimming pool on Jan. 6, 2001. Pardo kept this child a secret from his wife. Pardo owed her $10,000 as part of the divorce settlement, according to court documents that detailed a bitter split. He also lost a dog he doted on and did not get back a valuable wedding ring. Pardo complained in a court declaration that Sylvia Pardo was living with her parents, not paying rent, and had spent lavishly on a luxury car, gambling trips to Las Vegas, meals at fine restaurants, massages and golf lessons.

After the mass murder, Pardo put on his street clothes and drove his rental Dodge Caliber car to the house of his brother, Jimmy Pardo, in Sylmar, approximately 30 miles away from the crime scene, where he committed suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His brother was not present in the home and he broke inside to enter in. It was believed that Pardo intended to flee to Canada by plane as he had bought an airline ticket to a flight there from Los Angeles to Moline, Illinois. However due to suffering from severe third-degree burns on both arms stemming from the blaze, he decided to go against the initial plan.

Police had found $17,000 cling-wrapped on his legs inside a girdle, the car key, and his rental car that had been parked on Herrick Avenue, one block from his brother’s house, which had been rigged by remnants of his Santa suit that would ignite a flame and detonate the car with black powder if removed. Also recovered from the scene were four 13-round capacity handguns that were each empty, and at least 200 rounds of ammunition. Suggesting that what had been inside the car was being treated as a threat, police fired an incendiary device into it, destroying and burning it.

The police found on early Thursday, Mr Pardo bore a single gunshot wound to the head. According to LA County coroner’s official Ed Winter, the bodies found in the ashes were “extremely charred and burned.” All three of Sylvia Pardo’s children — Selina, Sal and Amanda — survived. According to the Scott Nord, the Ortega family lawyer, “the entire family was wiped out, and there’s basically like 16 orphans.”

Three other party guests have injuries, according to police. A 16-year-old girl was shot in the back, and an eight-year-old girl suffered facial gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, while a 20-year-old woman had a broken ankle, after jumping from a second-story window, the police specified. About 80 firefighters put off the fire that soared fifteen metres (40 to 50 feet) high for more than one hour. The police discovered two handguns at the scene, and found two more in the in-laws’ house. Media reports on Friday said the 16-year-old daughter of Sylvia Pardo was released from Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

Meanwhile, investigators served a search warrant at Pardo’s Montrose house, where they retrieved evidence of high-octane racing fuel, five empty boxes for semi-automatic handguns, as well as two shotguns.

Covina police Lt. Pat Buchanan on Saturday said they are looking for Pardo’s rented gray 1999 RAV4, with California license plate 5RYD562. Police have found the second rental car Saturday night in a Glendale, California but found no bombs nor any explosives.

The police also revealed Saturday the names of nine people missing since the Christmas Eve massacre occurred. They are Pardo’s ex-wife, Sylvia Pardo, 43; her parents, Joseph Ortega, 80, and Alicia Ortega, 70; Alicia Ortiz, 46, and her son, Michael Ortiz, 17; Sylvia’s brother, Charles Ortega, 50, and his wife, Cheri, 45; another brother, James Ortega, 52, and his wife, Teresa, 51, according to Lt. Buchanan. “Hopefully, we’ll get positive identifications early next week,” Covina Police Chief Kim Raney said.

A murder-suicide is an act in which an individual kills one or more other persons immediately before, or at the same time as, killing him or herself. According to the psychiatrist Karl A. Menninger, murder-suicide or murder and suicide are interchangeable acts – suicide sometimes forestalling murder, and vice versa.

Observing the 2012 Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the US, and wider world

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Observing the 2012 Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the US, and wider world

By | September 16, 2018

Friday, January 13, 2012

This week US citizens observed National Human Trafficking Awareness Day through acts of education, legislation, and enforcement; whilst, around the world, other people highlighted or tackled this global problem in their own countries.

According to an annual report on human trafficking released by the US State Department in June last year, 27 million men, women and children are exploited through human trafficking. Worldwide, at least two million children are estimated to be trafficked victims of the sex trade; and, in military conflicts, it is not uncommon for children to be forced to bear arms. In releasing the report last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the importance of international cooperation in addressing trafficking, and cultural issues associated with it.

Under the United Nations’ Palermo Protocols, human trafficking encompasses cases where victims are born into slavery, forcibly transported for exploitation, consented to work with a trafficker, and/or were forced to participate in criminal activities. The Protocols also recognize the unique status and rights of children.

Reports from across the United States show a number of communities taking local action to solve, or otherwise highlight, this global problem.

In Southern California, Sister Caritas Foster is an advocate for the area’s victims of human trafficking. Commenting on the area’s involvement, she stated: “We in the San Francisco Bay Area are one of the largest receiving areas with our borders and coasts”. For over four years, Foster has worked on educating the public on human trafficking, speaking to civic and religious groups and describing the power traffickers hold over their victims through vivid accounts of situations trafficked individuals find themselves in. Many have no idea where they are located, suffer under the constant threat of deportation, and most often lack the language abilities to seek help.

Los Angeles politician Don Knabe said human trafficking was not a distant problem but one that hits close to home. As the county supervisor overseeing the fourth district in Los Angeles County, Knabe cited figures from the Probation Department showing 84 percent of arrests of children on prostitution charges in 2010 were in his district; he believes the overall problem for the county is much larger, and wants the Probation Department to establish a special unit dedicated to sexually exploited minors.

Northward in Seattle, Washington, members of the King County Sheriff’s department realized that law enforcement had to deal supportively with the symptoms of human trafficking — rather than putting victims in jail. This gave birth to the “Genesis Project” where sheriff’s deputies offer potential victims of trafficking a comfortable safe haven with amenities for 24 hours, and put them in touch with social services for counselling, job training, and education advice.

Politicians from several states have sought to address the connection between tourism and human trafficking; Indiana’s state Senate unanimously passed a human trafficking bill on Tuesday morning. Current legislation only considered forced marriage and prostitution as human trafficking; loopholes in the existing laws allowed some forms of human trafficking to escape prosecution. Lawmakers in the state hope to toughen their human trafficking laws, and have new legislation on the statute books in time for the Super Bowl, due to be held in Indianapolis on February 5. The just-passed bill now goes to the House for approval.

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Also on Tuesday, lawmakers from Hawaii held a special hearing on human trafficking. Kathryn Xian, of Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, says traffickers capitalize on the state’s tourist-based economy. She introduced a package of seven bills she says will help prevent human trafficking in the state.

At a national level, the US government continues to work abroad on the issue of trafficking; Luis CdeBaca, a special ambassador for human trafficking, is working with Myanmar, commonly known as Burma, as the country seeks to improve diplomatic relations with the United States. Myanmar was identified by the US State Department as having one of the worst records of forced labor, and as a country that lacks necessary laws to curb human trafficking.

Although National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is a US-based effort to recognise, and highlight, this issue — as a topic of global concern being highlighted through the United Nations, others around the world continue efforts to increase public awareness and tackle trafficking.

Forty-six women from the international group Operation Mobilization sought to raise awareness by climbing Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. The summit is called “Uhuru Peak”, with Uhuru meaning “freedom” in Swahili. Each of the non-professional climbers raised US$10,000 to help those affected by human trafficking.

In the Middle East, several countries are reported to have problems with human traffickers recruiting unemployed gay Kenyan men to become sex slaves. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supposedly the more-common destination countries into which Kenyans are lured with offers of high-paying jobs. However, in the United Arab Emirates — where no law prohibits trafficking, but homosexuality is illegal — the problem is compounded.

Enforcement of existing laws, and acting against trafficking, are seen as key steps in reducing the activity. Showing that no country is unaffected, Northern Ireland police are currently investigating five sex trafficking cases; and, on Monday, Filipino police rescued fifteen women following a tip-off regarding women recruited, and being held, prior to being sent to work abroad.

In the Northern Ireland situation, Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall stated that fifteen men are to be contacted, suspected of having paid for sex with trafficked women. Identifying victims within the UK, or victims seeking help, is becoming more challenging with the sex industry having switched to using hotel rooms as-opposed to street corners. Many victims of trafficking are found to be unaware of where within the country they are.

In the Philippines situation, Zamboanga City police are still seeking the recruiter of the fifteen women rescued in Rio Hondo.

A range of complexities are involved in the sentencing of both those convicted of human trafficking, and their victims. In one Canadian case, 43-year-old Hungarian Lajos Domotor pled guilty to trafficking men and women into forced labor. Following being charged with conspiracy to commit human trafficking, he developed terminal stomach cancer and has been given a 10 to 15 percent chance of living five years.

In the UK, officials are seeking to detect exploitation prior to sentencing — as a counter to the high number of foreign women in jails, frequently having been victims of trafficking. One in seven women prisoners across England and Wales are foreign, with the primary offenses being drug or immigration-related. A report into the issue recommends sentencing decisions should consider the role of women, and of coercion, in such cases.

Artists also have a special role to play in the education and awareness of the public. The first opera about sex trafficking will premiere in Liverpool, England, on March 7. Anya17 was composed by Adam Gorb with a libretto written by Ben Kaye. Performers will come from Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic contemporary music ensemble 10/10. Funding for the production was provided in part by the United Nations.

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Saudis boycott Danish dairy produce

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Saudis boycott Danish dairy produce

By | September 14, 2018

Friday, January 27, 2006

On January 26, 2006, a massive boycott of dairy produce from Arla Foods started in Saudi Arabia over what is perceived as a Danish attack on Muslim values. The Saudi ambassador to Denmark has been recalled for consultations.

The Danish/Swedish dairy company Arla is facing a massive loss after a spreading boycott of its produce in Saudi Arabia. Four Saudi retail chains have already removed Arla products from the shelves. One retail chain has placed yellow warning tape (common fare for accidents and crime scenes) over Arla products. There have been cases reported of Arla delivery trucks being attacked by stones thrown from bystanders. Marianne Castenskiold, a senior consultant for Dansk Industri, expressed a fear that the boycott will spread to other countries in the region and have detrimental effects on other Danish products. Denmark is one of the leading exporters of agriculture in northern Europe, whose economy is heavily dependent on foreign trade and investment.

The boycott has been announced at Friday prayer services in Saudi mosques since January 20, 2006, obviously helping to foment popular support of the nation’s response to Denmark’s alleged ignorance of Muslim values. On at least one occasion, a delivery truck has been greeted by thrown stones.

The boycott is a response to the publication of an article in a major Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. In its September 30, 2005 issue, the paper printed 12 drawings of the Muslim prophet Muhammed, as a response to previous news reports that the publisher of a forthcoming childrens’ book about the prophet had had difficulty in finding an illustrator, due to fear of extremist reactions; drawings of the prophet are prohibited by Islamic Law (see aniconism). In an attempt to start a debate over freedom of speech in Denmark, the newspaper printed 12 drawings of the prophet. Four of these were of a satirical nature, with one showing the prophet with a turban hiding a lit bomb.

The immediate reactions to the publication of the drawings included ambassadors from 12 Muslim countries demanding that the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, denounce the newspaper. Rasmussen rejected this demand, stating that “Danish freedom of speech does not allow the government to control what newspapers print”. He further noted that the only possible legal action against the newspaper would be one under the charge of blasphemy.

A debate ensued over the following months about freedom of speech and its value in relation to avoiding religious taboos. In mid-December 2005, a delegation from several Danish Muslim organizations went on a tour in several Middle-Eastern and Arabic countries, reportedly to gain sympathy for their point of view. Several reports state that during the tour the difficulties faced by Muslims in Denmark were grossly overstated.

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Uber suspends self-driving car program after pedestrian death in Arizona, United States

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Uber suspends self-driving car program after pedestrian death in Arizona, United States

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

On Monday, the United States ride-sharing company Uber announced suspension of its experimental self-driving car program after one of the cars fatally struck a 49-year-old woman pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday night.

The company characterized the suspension of the program — in the Phoenix area and also in Pittsburgh; San Francisco; and Toronto, Canada — as a standard response in the wake of the accident. Uber released a statement that “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.” According to a spokeswoman, the company is also conducting its own investigation. It was reportedly the first time someone died in an incident involving a self-driving car.

Elaine Herzberg was hit at about 10 pm local time (UTC -7) on Sunday when she walked into the street with her bicycle about 100 yards or less from a crosswalk. She died later in hospital. The Volvo car was operating autonomously. Sylvia Moir, chief of police in Tempe, told the San Francisco Chronicle that according to the human operator in the vehicle — Rafaela Vasquez, 44 — “it was like a flash”, there was no time to override the computer to take evasive action, the first indication was the sound of impact.

The police stated the car was three miles per hour (mph) over a speed limit of 35 mph. According to Moir, recordings from the car’s video cameras indicated it would have been “difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode”. Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle that while she “[wouldn’t] rule out the potential to file charges” against Vasquez, “preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident”.

Uber started its Arizona self-driving test program in February 2017, using vehicles that had been banned in California due to safety concerns. The next month one was involved in a collision while in self-driving mode after another car failed to yield the right of way; the Uber SUV rolled on its side.

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14,000-acre Southern California ‘Crown Fire’ at 82% containment, evacuation orders lifted

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14,000-acre Southern California ‘Crown Fire’ at 82% containment, evacuation orders lifted

By |

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Antelope Valley, California —The Crown Fire that has burned through 13,980 acres in the High Desert of Southern California since 2:32 pm (2232 UTC) Thursday was at 82% containment Saturday evening, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

On Friday high winds caused the fire to jump the California Aqueduct and spread into the city of Palmdale. Over 2,000 residents of Leona Valley, Ana Verde, and Rancho Vista were given mandatory evacuation orders. The sky was blanketed with thick orange pyrocumulus clouds and falling ash, making the air hard to breathe.

State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived in Palmdale on Friday to survey the burned areas. “We were very fortunate to not have fires for quite some time because the air temperature was cool and we didn’t have the experiencing of dry weather and all the winds and so on, but all of a sudden the fire season kicked in as if, ‘Here we are,'” Schwarzenegger said during a press conference. “But we are ready and we have luckily distributed resources all over the state of California, so we are ready at any given time.”

The fire has so far destroyed one house and three mobile homes, damaging the roof of another and burning car garages, horse stables, and other outbuildings. Most of the more seriously threatened homes were constructed recently from fire-proof materials, with walls coated in stucco, and fire-resistant plants in the yards. Although some roads are still closed to all traffic, all existing evacuation orders were lifted late Friday night and 500 residents of Rancho Vista were told to “shelter in place” until further notice. Despite the absence of mandatory evacuation orders, over 2,000 houses, 60 commercial buildings, and 100 outbuildings are still under threat.

Throughout the night, fire crews have been battling the wildfire, assisted by cooler temperatures and lighter-than-expected winds which have enabled them to establish containment lines. “Crews went out [Friday] night and did some great work trying to complete more lines and also trying to take care of what we call ‘cat eyes’ which are embers within the perimeter of the fire, so there will be much more work being done there today,” said LACFD Captain Roland Sprewell. “But of course we’re not going to rest on our laurels today…we’re going to be vigilantly watching the winds, especially in the ridge and down in the valleys.”

At the height of the fire, 1,700 firefighters from all over California were battling the flames, although as of 12:00 pm Saturday afternoon, it has been reduced to around 1,350 personnel. 16 fire camp crew have also assisted. 250 fire engines and four bulldozers have been used. In the air, 4 Boeing 747 supertankers, 1 McDonnell Douglas DC-10 tanker, and 6 modified Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters known as “Firehawks” have been dropping water and red Phos-Chek slurry. The Los Angeles Sheriffs Department also increased its presence in the Antelope Valley by bringing in response teams from stations outside the AV. This afternoon, the deployment has been scaled back to three teams as the fire stabilizes and further evacuation orders become unlikely.

Three firefighters have been injured battling the fire, although all injuries are minor. One sheriff deputy was also hospitalized for smoke inhalation but has since been released.

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Romanian government to strengthen laws against tax evasion

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Romanian government to strengthen laws against tax evasion

By | September 9, 2018

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Romanian government has drafted legislation pertaining to tax evasion that makes it a criminal offence on the same level as crimes against individuals. Developed with the aid of Romania’s business community, the new law is expected to reduce corruption and tax evasion. According to the new law, the maximum jail term for tax evasion will be boosted up to 20 years. This sentence, however, will only be passed in circumstances of large-scale fraud. For evasion of up to the equivalent of 10,000 euro, the punishment will be either a fine or up to 2 years in prison. For tax fraud of up to 500,000 euro, the term will be extended to 2-8 years in prison. It is only for those whose tax evasion exceeds 1 million euro that the jail term will range between 10 and 20 years.

In the same package of legislation, the government approved several changes to banckruptcy law, which makes it easier for businesses to file for bankruptcy. The new laws are expected to make Romania’s business environment cleaner, resulting in more foreign investment, less corruption and more revenue for the government.

At the start of the year, the Romanian government introduced a new flat tax system for Romania, in which the tax rate is 19% for both personal income and corporate profit. This has led Romania to have one of the most liberal tax policies in Europe. The lower rate of tax has already reduced fiscal evasion to a significant extent because more people and businesses are encouraged to pay the tax. However, in order to further reduce the grey economy in Romania, advisers said at the start of the year that the government must also back this up with tougher legislation against tax evasion. Previously, Romania’s tax evasion laws were fairly lax, leading to quite a significant extent of tax fraud. Now, with the new, highly-publicised tax evasion laws, it is expected that the risk of getting prosecuted for not paying an already-low tax rate will force many businesses out of the black market into the legal economy.

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UK shopping centre Afflecks Palace secures its future

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UK shopping centre Afflecks Palace secures its future

By | September 5, 2018

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Afflecks Palace, the “iconic, alternative shopping centre” in the Northern Quarter of Manchester in England, United Kingdom, was saved from closure this week after long-running rumours that the market may have to “kick out its traders” due to a dispute between the management of the Afflecks Palace brand and the leaseowner for the building, Bruntwood.

Rumours suggesting that Bruntwood were looking to redevelop the building started early in 2007, when it became apparent that the property developer was not actively seeking to renew the twenty-five year lease that the management of Afflecks Palace had with them concerning the building. These initial fears were added to by news that Bruntwood was looking to redevelop other buildings it owned in the Northern Quarter area, specifically the parking complex opposite Afflecks, with an eye towards taking advantage of the “property boom” in Manchester at the time. There were also fears that if Afflecks did remain open, “rents would rise”.

These initial fears were eventually propagated closer to the end of the year when a letter from the management of Afflecks Palace told individual stall holders that “… management have received no formal response from Bruntwood to a tenancy request notice served in October [2007]”, going on to add that “We can only assume therefore that they do not intend to offer us a new lease”.

Following the release of this letter, public support for Afflecks Palace was quickly made obvious when a 5,000 signature petition was submitted demanding the centre remain open for business. This seemed to prompt talks between Bruntwood and the Afflecks Palace management and, eventually, lead to this week’s news that the market was – indeed – to remain open. The result of the talks was that Bruntwood “bought out” the Afflecks Palace brand.

Bruntwood will manage Afflecks while they look for a new owner who is skilled in running market style businesses

A joint statement between the management of Afflecks Palace and Bruntwood said: “After 26 years of trading, Afflecks’ management has sold their company to Bruntwood in an agreement that protects the future of Afflecks. Bruntwood will manage Afflecks while they look for a new owner who is skilled in running market style businesses and can bring a similar level of enthusiasm and dedication that the existing management has.”

A spokesperson speaking on behalf of Bruntwood also added that: “Never in our 30 year history have we bought one of our customer’s businesses, but Afflecks is a Manchester icon that we wanted to protect. We aren’t however expert in managing markets, so will look for a suitable long term owner. In the meantime, the most important aspect is that we have arrived at a solution with Afflecks management that protects an independent retail environment and provides the existing stallholders with security.”

Traders from the market celebrated the news by holding a party yesterday.

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Hurricane Bill now a Category 4 storm

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Hurricane Bill now a Category 4 storm

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Following a period of steady intensification, Hurricane Bill is now a Category 4 major hurricane, as defined by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

Bill formed on August 12 and became the 2009 season’s first hurricane on August 17. For the past few days, the storm has been moving toward the west-northwest, but that is expected to change later this week as it turns more toward the north. After that, its track is uncertain, though National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasters believe the hurricane will pass between Bermuda and the United States.

As of 11 a.m. AST August 19 (0900 UTC August 19), Hurricane Bill was located within 15 nautical miles of 18.0°N 54.9°W, about 460 mi (740 km) east of the Leeward Islands. Maximum sustained winds were near 115 knots (135 mph, 215 km/h), with stronger gusts. Forecasters estimate the storm’s minimum barometric pressure at 950 millibars.

Bermuda could be under the most significant threat from Bill, and officials there have been monitoring the storm’s progress. Derrick Binns, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Home Affairs and Housing, reported that “We have been following the storm closely since its inception, and today we reviewed our planning and procedures to ensure all are in sync. While we have not as yet issued hurricane warnings, I think it is important to advise residents to check their emergency kits to be sure supplies are adequate.”

…[it is] almost inevitable that the storm will find some part of Eastern Canada. Whether that’s the marine areas or the land district, it’s still too far to say.

Bill is expected to spare the United States from any significant impact, but forecasters advise that since the storm is still several days away, nothing is certain. Indeed, residents of Long Island, New York are keeping a close eye on the cyclone’s progress.

Forecasters also warn that Bill could target parts of eastern Canada. Residents of Nova Scotia, mindful of the extensive damage from Hurricane Juan several years prior, are beginning to take precautionary measures.

Regardless of its exact track, Bill will likely generate rough surf and dangerous rip tides along the coast of the U.S. and Canada.

Tropical cyclones are known to be unpredictable, so interests in the regions potentially in Bill’s path are urged to track the storm’s progress over coming days and review emergency plans.

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