Controversial evangelist leader Tony Alamo arrested in child sex investigation

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Controversial evangelist leader Tony Alamo arrested in child sex investigation

By | September 30, 2018

Friday, September 26, 2008

Controversial evangelist leader Tony Alamo was arrested in Flagstaff, Arizona Thursday and faces charges related to child sex abuse allegations at the Tony Alamo Christian Ministry organization. Alamo has previously been convicted on charges of tax evasion. United States federal agents raided Alamo’s compound in Arkansas on Saturday and six girls were taken into state custody.

Law enforcement officials raided Alamo’s compound in Fouke, Arkansas on Saturday and removed six girls aged 10 to 17. Over 100 federal and state agents participated in the raid on the compound, which followed a two-year investigation into Alamo and his organization.

Law enforcement officials were searching for evidence that minors had been videotaped performing sexual activities or had been molested. The Federal Bureau of Investigation searched Alamo’s property for child pornography. Alamo, who claims he is legally blind and wouldn’t be able to see child pornography, preaches that girls should marry young and sex with post-puberty girls is ‘okay’ because “in the Bible it happened”.

The state concerns are children living at the facility may have been sexually and physically abused.

“It’s the transportation of minors with the intent to engage in criminal activity. The state concerns are children living at the facility may have been sexually and physically abused,” said Little Rock, Arkansas FBI representative Tom Browne in a statement to KABC-TV.

The Associated Press (AP) has reported that Alamo will likely appear in federal court Friday in Flagstaff, Arizona, on charges that he violated the Mann Act by facilitating transport of minors across state lines for inappropriate sexual conduct. Documents produced by the FBI referred to Alamo by his birth name, Bernie Lazar Hoffman. Alamo has stated that he was born into Judaism but later converted to Christianity. According to the FBI, Alamo’s court appearance Friday is intended to determine when he will be transported from Arizona back to Arkansas to face charges there.

Our job right now is to basically take care of them [the six girls in state custody].

Hearings have been scheduled for Friday and Monday by a state judge, to decide if the Department of Human Services of Arkansas can retain custody of the six girls. “We will transport them to and from hearings. We will take part in any future hearings. Our job right now is to basically take care of them,” said agency representative Julie Munsell in a statement reported to the AP. The six girls will be present at the hearings in Arkansas: hearings for two of the girls will take place Friday and hearings for the other four on Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization which maintains data on hate groups, has described Alamo’s organization as a “cult“. The Ross Institute Internet Archives for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements maintains a web page on Tony Alamo and his organization. AP reported that many former members of Alamo’s organization also characterize the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries as a “cult”.

I think that congregation in there needs to see what that man is.

Anna Pugh, a former member of the organization for 11 years, recounted some of her experiences in what she referred to as “Tony’s Cult” to KOCO-TV. She stated that while she was living at Alamo’s compound she felt she was brainwashed. Pugh says that while she was a member of the group a seven-year-old girl took her aside and told her Alamo had sexual conduct with minors while watching pornography. “I think that congregation in there needs to see what that man is. He is a monster. He is a very unmerciful, malicious, vindictive, judgemental, condemning person,” said Pugh.

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Former member Anthony Lane told KSLA-TV he was kicked out of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries when he questioned some of Alamo’s teachings. “He is definitely a man who arranges marriages of little girls, and orders beatings of little children,” said Lane. He has been getting help from a support group called Partnered against Cult Activities (PACA). Lane is trying to gain custody of his three children who are still in the group with his wife.

Alamo was convicted of tax evasion in 1994, and was released from prison in 1998 after serving four years out of a six year sentence. The Internal Revenue Service said Alamo owed the U.S. government US$7.9 million. Prosecutors in the tax evasion case argued prior to Alamo’s sentencing that he was a flight risk, and a polygamist who conducted inappropriate activities with women and girls in his organization.

The Tony Alamo Christian Ministry organization promotes a philosophy and belief system which asserts sex with underage girls and polygamy is acceptable. The organization is critical of Catholicism, homosexuality, and the government. Tony Alamo Christian Ministry has compounds in Arkansas, California, Georgia and New Jersey, and Alamo himself lives near Los Angeles.

Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

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Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

By | September 29, 2018

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.

Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.

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Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.

By | September 28, 2018

Wednesday, November 30, 2005File:Turing1.jpg

More than 50 programmers, scientists, students, hobbyists and fans of the A.L.I.C.E. chat robot gathered in Guildford, U.K. on Friday to celebrate the tenth birthday of the award winning A.I. On hand was the founder the Loebner Prize, an annual Turing Test, designed to pick out the world’s most human computer according to an experiment laid out by the famous British mathematician Alan Turing more then 50 years ago. Along with A.L.I.C.E.’s chief programmer Dr. Richard S. Wallace, two other Loebner prize winners, Robby Garner and this year’s winner, Rollo Carpenter, also gave presentations, as did other finalists.

The University of Surrey venue was chosen, according to Dr. Wallace, not only because it was outside the U.S. (A.L.I.C.E.’s birthday fell on the Thanksgiving Day weekend holiday there, so he expected few people would attend a conference in America), but also because of its recently erected statue of Alan Turing, who posed the famous A. I. experiment which inspired much of the work on bots like A.L.I.C.E. University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre organizers Lynn and David Hamill were pleased to host the event because it encourages multi-disciplinary interaction, and because of the Centre’s interest in interaction between humans and computers.File:ALICE Birthday Cake.jpg

Dr. Wallace gave a keynote address outlining the history of A.L.I.C.E. and AIML. Many people commented on the fact the he seemed to have moved around a lot in the last ten years, having lived in New York, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Maine, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, while working on the Alicebot project. The A.L.I.C.E. and AIML software is popular among chat robot enthusiats primarily because of its distribution under the GNU free software license. One of Dr. Wallace’s PowerPoint slides asked the question, “How do you make money from free software?” His answer: memberships, subscriptions, books, directories, syndicated ads, consulting, teaching, and something called the Superbot.

Rollo Carpenter gave a fascinating presentation on his learning bot Jabberwacky, reading from several sample conversations wherein the bot seemed amazingly humanlike. Unlike the free A.L.I.C.E. software, Carpenter uses a proprietary learning approach so that the bot actually mimics the personality of each individual chatter. The more people who chat with Jabberwacky, the better it becomes at this kind of mimicry.

In another interesting presentation, Dr. Hamill related present-day research on chat robots to earlier work on dialog analysis in telephone conversations. Phone calls have many similarities to the one-on-one chats that bots encounter on the web and in IM. Dr. Hamill also related our social expectations of bots to social class structure and how servants were expected to behave in Victorian England. He cited the famous Microsoft paperclip as the most egregius example of a bot that violated all the rules of a good servant’s behavior.

Bots have advanced a long way since philanthropist Hugh Loebner launched his controversial contest 15 years ago. His Turing Test contest, which offers an award of $100,000 for the first program to pass an “audio-visual” version of the game, also awards a bronze medal and $2000 every year for the “most human computer” according to a panel of judges. Huma Shah of the University of Westminster presented examples of bots used by large corporations to help sell furniture, provide the latest information about automotive products, and help customers open bank accounts. Several companies in the U.S. and Europe offer customized bot personalities for corporate web sites.

Even though Turing’s Test remains controversial, this group of enthusiastic developers seems determined to carry on the tradition and try to develop more and more human like chat bots.Hugh Loebner is dedicated to carry on his contest for the rest of his life, in spite of his critics. He hopes that a large enough constituency of winners will exist to keep the competition going well beyond his own lifetime. Dr. Wallace says, “Nobody has gotten rich from chat robots yet, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. There is such a thing as ‘bot fever’. For some people who meet a bot for the first time, it can pass the Turing Test for them, and they get very excited.”

Reflections, Lichtenstein, two new exhibitions at Edinburgh’s Modern One

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Reflections, Lichtenstein, two new exhibitions at Edinburgh’s Modern One

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

This weekend saw the opening of two new exhibitions at Edinburgh’s National Gallery of Modern Art. Wikinews attended Thursday’s press preview for the event where a full contingent of the capital’s press turned out to see the striking collection of paintings, photographs, and other works. Presented below are a selection of images captured at the preview.

REFLECTIONS: A Series of Changing Displays of Contemporary Art, billed as a showcase of a “diverse range of internationally-renowned contemporary and modern artists” is to display major works from the Gallery’s permanent collection, alongside important loans. Alongside this broad range of works, a three-room display of pieces on-loan from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation — with a dramatic painted steel relief, ‘borrowed’ from the Tate in London — runs from March 14 through to January 10 next year.

Admission to both exhibitions is free; being located in Dean, to the north-west of Edinburgh’s city centre, a free Gallery bus service is available.

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Indian space agency launches five foreign satellites

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Indian space agency launches five foreign satellites

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Indian space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), launched five foreign satellites from the Sriharikota facility on Monday morning, using the PSLV-C23 launch vehicle.

The primary payload was an earth observation satellite from France called SPOT 7 which weighed 714 kg. Other satellites included on board were the German AISat, 14 kg; Canadian NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) and NLS7.2 (CAN-X5), 15 kg each; and Singaporean VELOX 1, 7 kg.

The launch took place at 9:52 AM on Monday morning, delayed from the original schedule by three minutes to avoid space debris. This was the 26th successful launch of a PSLV. Along with the US, Russia, the European Union, China, and Japan, India is one of the few nations that offer commercial launch services. These services are provided by Antrix, the commercial department of ISRO. ISRO’s next major launch may be this month using a GSLV-III launch vehicle.

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at the launch site. He addressed the scientists after the launch congratulating them, and asked them to build a satellite suitable for use by all the nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). He also emphasized the frugal approach of India to the space industry. Phillipe Ghesquiers of Airbus Space and Defense Systems, the builders of SPOT 7, expressed satisfaction at the launch and stated they may use India’s launch services again in the future.

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Florida Governor Jeb Bush gives speech on Hurricane Wilma

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Florida Governor Jeb Bush gives speech on Hurricane Wilma

By | September 27, 2018

Hurricane Wilma InformationCurrent ArticleCategory 5Winds:160Movement:WNW 7mphPosition:17.9N, 83.9W270 miles SE of CozumelPressure:892 MBLive Stream (WFOR)
Sunday, October 23, 2005

At 1 p.m. EDT, Florida governor Jeb Bush, as well as others, held a press conference relating to the preparedness of the upcoming Hurricane Wilma. “There is no cause for a New Orleans-like concern,” says Governor Bush. He also says that this category 2 hurricane will affect southern Florida, including Lake Okeechobee. Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, and New York are helping Florida prepare. Mandatory and voluntary evacuations, he says, are currently underway.

For those who are unable to evacuate, shelters are to open up. There are 23 shelters opened at the moment, and more shelters, including shelters for the elderly, will open. The pets of Floridians also will be able to stay at a pet shelter. Over 80,000 MREs, as well as 200 truckloads of ice, are available for those who must take up shelter. This does not include the aid that will come from FEMA, which is expected to double the amount made available by Florida.

As of 10 a.m., over 200 million gallons of fuel, particularly gasoline and diesel, were at Florida ports. These ports are either to be closed, or currently closed at the moment. In addition, tolls for Florida turnpikes were suspended, and traffic is current flowing smoothly. However, as it was said by Director of Florida Emergency Management Craig Fullgate, “You need to pay attention to your local officials.”

This article features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews member. See the talk page for more details. Articles are translated through WORTNET.

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US Senate committee investigates credit card practices

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US Senate committee investigates credit card practices

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On Tuesday, the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs‘s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing titled “Credit Card Practices: Unfair Interest Rate Increases.” The hearing examined the circumstances under which credit card issuers may increase the interest rates of cardholders who are in compliance with the terms of their credit cards. It was a follow-up to a March 2007 hearing.

Subcommittee Chairman Carl Levin said in his opening statement: “Today’s focus is on credit card issuers who hike the interest rates of cardholders who play by the rules — meaning those folks who pay on time, pay at least the minimum amount due, and wake up one day to find their interest rate has gone through the roof — again, not because they paid late or exceeded the credit limit, but because their credit card issuer decided they should be ‘repriced’.”

Present to testify on behalf of credit card issuers were Roger C. Hochschild of Discover Financial Services, Bruce L. Hammonds of Bank of America Corporation, and Ryan Schneider of Capital One Financial Corporation.

Much of the 90 minute hearing focused on specific cases where interest rates were raised, allegedly because credit scores of the debtor dropped, and not because they were delinquent or otherwise behind on payments. According to Levin, this practice made it so that almost all payments went towards finance charges with almost none toward repaying the principal. This, he felt, is an unfair practice, as the credit card companies were negligent in informing their customers of the rate hikes and the reason for such hikes.

Families find themselves ensnared in a seemingly inescapable web of credit card debt.

The collective credit card debt of Americans totals an estimated US$900 billion. Issuers have come under pressure to disclose their policies in regards to setting fees and interest rates. The US Truth in Lending Act requires that terms of a loan be set forth up front. Fluctuating interest rates on credit cards would, on the surface, appear to violate this act.

Roger C. Hochschild disagreed, arguing that “every card transaction is a new extension of credit … This makes it difficult — and risky — to underwrite, and price, the loan based solely on the borrower’s credit-worthiness at the time of application [for the card].”

Ryan Schneider, agreed: “The ability to modify the terms of a credit card agreement to accommodate changes over time to the economy or the credit-worthiness of consumers must be preserved.”

“Attempts to interfere with the market here … will inevitably result in less credit being offered,” warned Bruce Hammonds. “Risk-based pricing has democratized access to credit,” he added.

All three credit card executives also mentioned an ongoing Federal Reserve System review of credit card rules that already proposes a 45-day notification ahead of any rate changes.

Committee members criticized the industry for varying practices. Included in the criticism was the practice of mailing checks to card-holders, failing to notify applicants that obtaining additional cards could lower their credit score and raise their rates, and “ambushing” card-holders with raised rates.

Ranking minority member of the subcommittee, Norm Coleman said, “families find themselves ensnared in a seemingly inescapable web of credit card debt. They particularly report being saddled with interest rates that skyrocketed on them seemingly out of the blue.”

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Countries around the world send aid, help to Haiti

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Countries around the world send aid, help to Haiti

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Countries and organizations from around the world are sending aid and help to victims of the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday, damaging many buildings. The death toll is currently unknown, but estimated to run into the tens of thousands of people.

US president Barack Obama said in a press conference that “I’ve directed my administration to launch a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives and support the recovery in Haiti.”

Obama announced that aid from the US armed forces was coming to Haiti, noting, “Several Coast Guard cutters are already there providing everything from basic services like water, to vital technical support for this massive logistical operation.”

Obama continued: “[…] today, I’m also announcing an immediate investment of $100 million to support our relief efforts. This will mean more of the life-saving equipment, food, water and medicine that will be needed. This investment will grow over the coming year as we embark on the long-term recovery from this unimaginable tragedy.”

Obama said that the US would forge partnerships with Haitian people and Haitian-Americans, along with United Nations peacekeepers. He closed by saying, “To the people of Haiti, we say clearly, and with conviction, you will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you. The world stands with you.”

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said that $10 million is being released from the international organization’s central emergency response fund.

Meanwhile, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), which already has an existing operation in the country, is beginning to distribute high energy biscuits which require no preparation before eating. On top of that, the WFP is airlifting 86 metric tons of food from their emergency hub in El Salvador.

A spokesperson for the WFP said, “In a normal day the World Food Programme will be feeding one or two million people in Haiti — and now we need to do even more, because the people have lost everything.”

China is also pledging aid to the country, despite the lack of official diplomatic ties between the two countries. Haiti recognizes the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan. Nevertheless, China has sent a 60 member search and rescue team to Haiti and the Chinese Red Cross is donating one million dollars in emergency aid.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said her country expresses sympathy to the Haitian government and people. Jiang says the Chinese foreign minister has sent a telegram of condolence to his Haitian counterparts.

An 80 member team from the United Kingdom of search and rescue specialists has arrived in Haiti to help in efforts there. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a joint press conference with Toaiseach of Ireland Brian Cowen that the team has arrived in the country. He also announced that the government is pledging to match the UN’s US$10 million (£6.1 million).

Brown said, “It is a tragedy beyond imagination and there is a deep sense of loss felt by the whole of the British and Irish people about the tragedy that individual families in Haiti are experiencing at the moment. We send our message of sympathy and support to the people of Haiti at this most difficult of times.”

He added, “Where men, women and children are suffering under the heaviest of burdens, that place must, for that moment, become the centre of our world’s attention, the world’s compassion and the world’s humanitarian help.”

France is also sending aid to the French-speaking country, which at one time was a colony of France known as Saint-Domingue. France is sending two planes with rescuers and aid. Civil safety authorities in France are sending a team of 130 members consisting of rescuers, trained rescue dogs, doctors and nurses along with 12,000 tons of aid and rescue supplies.

Israel is sending rescue forces in two El Al planes carrying a 121-member delegation that includes 40 doctors, five search-and-rescue teams, and an army rescue squad. The IDF medical teams are preparing to spend two weeks in Haiti.

Spain has pledged $4.3 million (3 million) in aid money and has 150 tons of aid ready to be delivered.

South Africa is sending a team of search and rescue specialists to Haiti in response to the devastating earthquake on Tuesday. It is the first of several teams being sent by a local civic group.

The head of South Africa’s Gift of the Givers Foundation, Emtiaz Sooliman, says his group is sending up to three teams of search and rescue specialists to Haiti to help victims of the earthquake and hopefully save some lives.

“These are people who have worked with building collapses, urban search and rescue and some of them have been involved in responding to previous earthquakes so they are highly skilled,” he said.

Sooliman says a second team is to depart as soon as he can book a flight for it.

 This story has updates See Haiti relief efforts: in depth 

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Crm Software Real Time Access And Decision Making For Marketing, Sales And Customer Service

By | September 26, 2018

By Antony Dutton

A flexible CRM software solution will help you track valuable information about your customers. Having real time access to detailed reporting and dashboards will allow you to optimise many of your business processes. Whether you are a decision maker for marketing, sales or customer service, having the right information at the right time will help you make the right decisions for your business.

Real time customer information can be leveraged to construct powerful KPIs such as business process profitability and so account for the opportunity revenue as well as service costs of customers. Such KPIs can enable your management to implement strategies to attain more profitable customers while reducing unprofitable customers and increase customer satisfaction driving up the overall profitability of the business.

As a marketing decision maker you are always looking to drive the marketing return on investment. Having a real time dashboard for your customer relationship management system will help you to demonstrate the impact your marketing efforts are having by tracking the performance of the entire Target-to-Revenue process. As such you can closely monitor marketing investments in aggregate and individually to understand actual versus expected results.

Having customer data available to you at all times has a number of major benefits such as:

Your marketing management will be faster and more effective

You will measure your marketing spend, plan more efficiently and course-correct underperforming campaigns while still active

You can adjust and align your strategy with resources to drive toward your marketing goals.

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You can reduce wasted expenditure by identifying underperforming investments.

Gain and share insight about your marketing strategy s impact on revenue and projected revenue.

You can segment customer data to make better customer target decisions.

Workflow-driven processes increase reach and relevancy

Seamless tracking of cross-channel communications saves time and money

As a sales decision maker driving revenue is your primary goal. To do this effectively, accurate forecasts are essential. These will mitigate the risk of poor sales performance by gaining insight into projected sales performance. Moreover, a CRM software dashboard will help you monitor the ongoing health of sales performance with dynamic snapshots of metrics such as actual versus planned sales results, pipeline performance, and win/loss ratios. You will then be in a position to address sales and marketing issues sooner and more quickly. For example, if you can implement repeatable sales processes sooner and adjust sales strategies as obstacles are identified your closure rates are likely to increase. From a sales management perspective, access to real time CRM data will:

Allow you to define KPIs that cascade and roll up across your sales organisation and provide views that support easy browsing such as by time or location.

Give you scorecards to display KPIs showing status and trend on key sales metrics.

Show you customer profitability and allow you to monitor and improve long term business profitability.

Provide visual dashboard reports such as opportunities, top 5 sales people, estimated vs actual value of opportunities and revenue across product types.

As a customer service decision maker a primary objective is to ensure and increase customer satisfaction. Real time customer data will give you a simple scorecard view to monitor customer service and support processes against customer experience metrics. You can then mitigate potential threats to customer satisfaction and your brand image by addressing issues with products, agents or contact centres proactively. Additionally, a detailed CRM software solution will help you:

Reduce your customer service costs. You can identify, prioritise, and address the most costly aspects of your service process. For example if you have contact centres or agents, you can quickly identify better processes and so cutting training costs and develop a rewards program for efficient work practices.

Improve your service metrics by reviewing a real time dashboard.

Monitoring the performance of service processes, centres, and agents will allow you to adjust resources and processes to address the most important issues.

CRM software solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, whether you choose an in house solution that integrates to your other business systems or a web based CRM software solution will help you monitor, measure, manage and drive your business. CRM can give you access to real time customer information in a simple drill down dashboard view. As such it is an essential management tool that allows you to analyse customer information and make more effective business decisions at the right time.

About the Author: Antony Dutton is Managing Director of Aaromba,

CRM software

specialists. Aaromba designs solutions to improve sales and marketing using

Microsoft CRM Software

,

web based CRM software

and Goldmine CRM.

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=624141&ca=Business

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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Controversy has arisen over the reported presence of blue asbestos on the MV Freewinds, a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. According to the Saint Martin newspaper The Daily Herald and the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed in April and local public health officials on the Caribbean island of Curaçao where the ship is docked began an investigation into the presence of asbestos dust on the ship. Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft supervised work on the ship in 1987, and attested to the presence of blue asbestos on the Freewinds in an affidavit posted to the Internet in 2001. Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, gave a statement to Wikinews and commented on the recent events.

According to The Daily Herald, the Freewinds was in the process of being renovated by the Curaçao Drydock Company. The article states that samples taken from paneling in the ship were sent to the Netherlands, where an analysis revealed that they “contained significant levels of blue asbestos”. An employee of the Curaçao Drydock Company told Radar Online in an April 30 article that the Freewinds has been docked and sealed, and confirmed that an article about asbestos ran in the local paper.

Lloyd’s List reported that work on the interior of the Freewinds was suspended on April 27 after health inspectors found traces of blue asbestos on the ship. According to Lloyd’s List, Frank Esser, Curaçao Drydock Company’s interim director, joined Curaçao’s head of the department of labor affairs Christiene van der Biezen along with the head of the local health department Tico Ras and two inspectors in an April 25 inspection of the ship. “We are sending someone so that they can tell us what happened, where it came from, since when it has been there,” said Panama Maritime Authority’s director of merchant marine Alfonso Castillero in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

The Church of Scientology purchased the ship, then known as the Bohème, in 1987, through an organization called Flag Ship Trust. After being renovated and refitted, it was put into service in June 1988. The ship is used by the Church of Scientology for advanced Scientology training in “Operating Thetan” levels, as well as for spiritual retreats for its members. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by the Church of Scientology.

According to his 2001 statement, Lawrence Woodcraft had been an architect in London, England since 1975, and joined Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) in 1986. He wrote that he was asked by the Sea Org to work on the Freewinds in 1987, and during his work on the ship “noticed a powdery blue fibrous substance approximately 1 ½” thick between the paint and the steel wall,” which he believed to be asbestos. He also discovered what he thought was blue asbestos in other parts of the ship, and reported his findings to Church of Scientology executives. Woodcraft discussed his experiences in a 2001 interview published online by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a now-defunct organization which was critical of the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw responded to Radar Online about the asbestos reports, in an email published in an article in Radar on May 1. “The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards,” said Pouw. She stated that two inspections performed in April “confirmed that the air quality is safe,” and asserted that the inspections revealed the Freewinds satisfies standards set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Pouw told Radar that “The Freewinds will be completing its refit on schedule.” The Church of Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) had been planning a cruise aboard the Freewinds scheduled for May 8, but according to Radar an individual who called the booking number for the cruise received a message that the cruise had been delayed due to ongoing work on the ship. Citing an article in the Netherlands Antilles newspaper Amigoe, Radar reported on May 6 that a team from the United States and supervised by an independent bureau from the Netherlands traveled to Curaçao in order to remove asbestos from the Freewinds.

…if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff.

“I stand by everything I wrote in my 2001 affidavit,” said Lawrence Woodcraft in an exclusive statement given to Wikinews. Woodcraft went on to state: “I would also comment that if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff. Also panelling as well, basically strip the ship back to a steel hull. Also blue asbestos is sprayed onto the outer walls and then covered in paint. It’s in every nook and cranny.”

Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. Now magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds.

There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.

In a May 15 statement to the United Kingdom daily newspaper Metro, a representative for the Church of Scientology said that “There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.” The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Center notes that agencies have recommended anyone who has spent time on the Freewinds consult with their physician to determine if possible asbestos exposure may have affected their health.

Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in OK! Magazine. Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”

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