News briefs: April 18, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

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Friday, April 18, 2014
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US clinic plans first face transplant

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

US doctors are to interview 12 patients with a view to performing the first ever transplant of a human face.

The Cleveland Clinic will choose between seven women and five men to find the person most suited for the experimental procedure, which is a radical and controversial solution to extreme facial scarring or disfigurement.

Having practiced the procedure on bodies donated for medical research, the Cleveland Clinic team believe they have a 50% chance of success. The procedure will not live up to science-fiction predictions and give the recipient the appearance of the donor; the underlying bone structure is the deciding factor in the final appearance. The new face will end up resembling neither the donor nor recipient.

Surgeons in several other countries have announced being ready to perform this procedure in the past. However, the risk and non life-threatening nature of disfigurement have meant that gaining approval for the groundbreaking surgery has been difficult. Like many other transplant operations, the recipient would be required to take drugs to prevent tissue rejection for the remainder of their life. These drugs can have side effects and carry their own risks involving the patient’s immune system.

Asian countries call for global currency

Monday, April 6, 2009

Leaders and central banks in Russia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Kazakhstan have called for an international currency system.

Speaking on April 1 in advance of the G-20 summit in London, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev argued that the international finance system needed a “new construction” including “new currency systems”, saying that such a new system could be the purpose of a revamped IMF and World Bank. The IMF was originally founded in 1946 as the overseer of the Bretton Woods system, which from its founding until the 1970s tied the western world’s currencies to the US Dollar, which was in turn backed by gold. Russia’s proposal was for the new currency to serve as a reserve currency, one which would take the place of the dollar, euro, and other heavily-traded currencies as an international standard of exchange.

Medvedev’s comments are a reversal of Russian position from a lukewarm response following a looser outline for a worldwide currency by Kazakhstani president Nursultan Nazarbayev. On March 11, Nazarbayev suggested the establishment of the “acmetal”, a portmanteau of “acme” and “capital“, as a reserve currency replacing the ruble in international transactions, first for Central Asia and then worldwide. 1999 Economics Nobel laureate Robert Mundell, speaking to the Daily Telegraph, endorsed the idea, saying “It would be a very good idea if the G-20 took that idea up in London”.

2001 Nobel economics prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, meanwhile, said the new currency could come about quickly if it was based on an expansion of the IMF’s already established system of Special Drawing Rights, units of exchange used by the IMF which already have some of the features of currency. Stiglitz argued that, as the US dollar has become the standard global reserve currency, it has inadvertently created a system which hurts the world economy. “It’s a net transfer, in a sense, to the United States of foreign aid,” he argued, reasoning that when other countries purchase US dollars in order to use them on international markets (such as for the buying and selling of petroleum), they effectively give the US a zero-interest loan — sometimes at times when they can least afford it. Stiglitz made his comments as head of a United Nations panel of economists giving recommendations to address the global financial crisis.

In the weeks leading up to the G-20 conference, the People’s Republic of China also began discussing a new system for reserve currencies. In a March 23 speech, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, endorsed a new reserve currency, saying “the desirable goal of reforming the international monetary system, therefore, is to create an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.” Zhou went on to endorse the expansion of the SDR system in the long-term creation of a reserve currency government by the IMF. While Zhou did not mention the US dollar specifically, analysis by Qu Hongbin, chief China economist for HSBC, for the Financial Times said that the speech “is a clear sign that China, as the largest holder of US dollar financial assets, is concerned about the potential inflationary risk of the US Federal Reserve printing money”.

China holds $740 billion as assets; inflation in the US economy, which has been low in recent years, would directly cause those assets to lose value.

While the Chinese government has engaged in currency swaps with several other growing economies, such as South Korea, Argentina, Malaysia and Indonesia, the Chinese Yuan cannot be used itself as a reserve currency as it cannot be freely traded on the global market.

The Chinese-Russian proposal was not entered onto the agenda at the G-20 meeting itself. Nonetheless, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the G-20 was open to considering the proposal if and when a detailed one is presented. United States President Barack Obama, meanwhile, endorsed the continuation of dollar supremacy, saying that the US dollar is “extraordinarily strong” and arguing that its strength was the result of the intrinsic stability of the United States economic and political system; US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner had, the week before, made comments that while he supported an expansion in the SDR mechanism he rejected the idea of a global currency. Rather than change the role of SDRs, the G-20 meeting instead added $250 billion in support to the fund backing SDRs.

After the G-20 conference ended on Thursday, Malaysia’s The Star BizWeek reported that the central banks of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand had endorsed the Chinese proposal. All three countries have close economic ties with China and suffered heavily from the collapse of their currencies in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis; the sudden growth in the value of the US dollar relative to those countries’ native currencies sharply increased debt in Southeast Asia’s economies, leading to a wave of bankruptcies.

International reaction from other economies has been mixed and guarded. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil, said that the currency proposal was important to discuss but did not give extensive comment. And while UPI reports that India supported the SDR proposal at the G-20 conference, the Indian Press Trust quotes Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as saying last month, “It is too early to talk about common currency.”

Calls for an independent global reserve currency are not new. In 1944, John Maynard Keynes proposed the “bancor“, a unit like the SDR supported by a basket of commodities. Keynes’ idea was rejected and the US dollar took the equivalent role under the Bretton Woods system. Keynes proposed that the bancor system would be reinforced by a tax on participating countries’ current accounts, the difference between their exports and their imports, in order to encourage balanced trade. Meanwhile, monetary unions have become more popular since the end of the gold standard, with most of the European Union now trading the euro, and several countries outside the EU using it as a de facto currency; five West African countries adopting the eco at the end of this year; and the African Union planning to introduce the afro in 2028. Proposals for a North American currency union based around the so-called “amero” have been frequently discussed as the focus of conspiracy theories in the United States, but none of the US, Canada or Mexico have actively pursued the establishment of any such monetary union, however the dollar is the currency of several Latin American countries.

Philippines ferry disaster: ship owner sues over toxic cargo; recovery deadline set & more

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Several new developments have occurred surrounding the loss of Philippine ferry MV Princess of the Stars, which capsized and sank on June 21 during a severe storm. The loss near Sibuyan island during Typhoon Fengshen, known locally as Frank, killed more than 800 of those on board.

Ship owner Sulpicio Lines has sued Del Monte Philippines for failing to declare a cargo of the dangerous pesticide endosulfan that was on board. Sulpicio yesterday sued the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMO) for allegedly making comments contributing to negative publicity surrounding the line and asked a court to stop the body continuing its investigation, saying it no longer had any authority. Today, that request was denied.

Another outcome of today’s proceedings is a deadline for Sulpicio to recover the ship. The company has ninety days to ensure the recovery operation is complete.

Yesterday, an eight-page complaint was filed against Del Monte at Manila City‘s regional trial court. It alleges that Del Monte violated the line’s terms by failing to inform Sulpicio that the shipment included edosulfan. The line notes that any toxic cargo should have been declared. Suplicio is seeking PHP5.5 million from the company for alleged negligence.

“Due to Del Monte’s deceit and non-disclosure, plaintiff was led to believe that the subject shipment of Endosulfan was a regular cargo. Had defendant Del Monte disclosed the toxic nature of the cargo, plaintiff would not have loaded the same on board a passenger-cargo vessel, be it MV Princess of the Paradise or MV Princess of the Stars,” said a statement by Suplicio.

The exact total sought as damages is P549,661.11, which accounts for the correct rate for shipping if the toxic cargo had been declared, plus double rates as punitive measures. On top of those damages sought is P3 million to cover specialist recovery required for the chemical, P1 million in moral damges for lost corporate goodwill and damage to Sulpicio’s reputation, P500,000 in moral damages for Sulpicio marketing vice president and shareholder Jordan L. Go, P200,000 in exemplary damages and P300,000 in legal costs.

The discovery that the ship was carrying the endosulfan shipment, which totaled 10 metric tons, led to a ban on fishing in the nearby town of San Fernando and an emergency cessation of search and rescue activities, which were mostly being conducted by divers. The pesticide is banned in many countries and is subject to various regulations in the Philippines. Water samples from the wreck site show that thus far the pesticide has not leaked.

A specialist joint team is set to arrive soon from the European Union and the United Nations Environmental Programme to assist with opearations relating to the pesticide, which is a neurotoxin.

The Philippine Coast Guard yesterday awarded some 42 staff divers and six civilian volunteer divers for their work at the Princess of the Stars. They were particularly praised for being keen to return to work. They are awaiting the results of tests for exposure to endosulfan.

Endosulfan is one of the items set for retrieval in a new deadline set by the government task force overseeing the disaster. Sulpicio must also recover the remaining bodies and the unused fuel on board within 90 days.

Sulpicio had initially offered to have the job done in 164 days, but Transportation Undersecretary Elena Bautista rejected this proposal, saying “Out of humanitarian reasons, I told them not to prolong the agony of the victims’ relatives all the way to Christmas.” Sulpicio was given until Wednesday to name the salvage contractor who would be responsible for recovering the ship, after which they were to submit their retrieval plans to the International Maritime Organisation.

Sulpicio was also given the option of simply towing the ship closer to shore to do the recovery instead of refloating it, which they have opted for. In Bautista’s words: “Based on the Sulpicio report this morning, their plan now is to just tow the vessel to the shore, get the hazardous materials out, get the fuel out, and get the people out and I think that would be more cost-effective and most practical because that can be done, maybe within a month, as compared to refloating, which would probably take three months.”

Sulpicio is currently considering three different potential salvors, which remain unnamed. They have been told that the company needs to have expertise suitable enough to ensure marine life is not harmed and hazardous materials are not spilled. There is a possibility that the planned towing will damage nearby coral. It is already confirmed by the coastguard that oil onboard cannot leak. Most of the 250,000 litres of bunker fuel are in the service tank, which is considered safe. Only the small amount of oil in the base tank may leak but oil spill containment booms are already in place should this occur.

The government has said that, had Sulpicio not made provisions to get the salvage done, then they would have performed the operation themselves. Had this occurred, Sulpicio would have been charged for it, with the bill estimated at P100 million.

One aspect of another legal case was resolved today. Sulpicio had questioned the authority of the BMI to conduct investigations, instead saying only the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) had the right to do so, and pointing to a separate inquiry started by MARINA. However, a hearing today found that the BMI and MARINA serve different roles. The BMI’s role is solely to determine the cause of marine accidents. MARINA’s purpose is more concerned with regulations, and is mainly investigating the role of Sulpicio themselves. “We are looking at why we should not cancel the company’s franchise,” explained MARINA Administrator Vicente Suazo Jr.

Both investigations are ongoing.

Competition Commission of India fines Google ?1.36 billion for ‘search bias’

Sunday, February 11, 2018

On Thursday, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), a government anti-trust watchdog, fined US-based internet technology company Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc. ?135.86 crore (about ?1.36 billion, US$21 million) for manipulating their search results in favour of its products and syndicates, which affected business of rival companies. In the 190-page long decision, CCI said, “Google was leveraging its dominance in the market for online general web search, to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services”.

In the ruling passed 4–2, the watchdog said, Google’s “search bias” caused “harm to its competitors as well as to users”. In 2012, Consumer Unity and Tests Society (CUTS), which is a non-profit organisation, and Bharat Matrimony filed a complaint against the search engine for manipulating the search results.

Google is to pay the fine within 60 days. CCI had fined them five percent of the average profit Google made over three fiscal years due to its Indian user base. Per the law, CCI could have fined Google up to ten percent of the profit.

Last year, Google was fined by the European Commission (EC) for favouring certain shopping services for the amount of €2.42 billion (about US$3 billion). That accounted for five percent of “average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet”, EC’s official statement read. Google was also fined by Russian Federation Antimonopoly Service for US$6.8 million in 2016 for favouring its own digital services.

“Whilst finding Google to have abused its dominant position, the CCI has nonetheless exercised restraint in recognizing the dynamic nature of online markets and not found Google guilty of every allegation”, Naval Shah, who was representing Bharat Matrimony from Shardul Amarchand law firm, told Reuters News agency.

A Google spokesperson said, “We have always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users. The Competition Commission of India has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws”.

Author Amy Scobee recounts abuse as Scientology executive

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wikinews interviewed author Amy Scobee about her book Scientology – Abuse at the Top, and asked her about her experiences working as an executive within the organization. Scobee joined the organization at age 14, and worked at Scientology’s international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005. She served as a Scientology executive in multiple high-ranking positions, working out of the international headquarters of Scientology known as “Gold Base”, located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California.

New York executive files $60 million libel lawsuit over insurance scandal

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A former Marsh & McLennan Cos. executive has hit former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer with a $60 million defamation lawsuit over an online magazine article regarding an insurance bid-rigging scandal.

William Gilman, a former Marsh managing director, filed a complaint last Friday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, over allegations Mr. Spitzer defamed him in a Slate article published a year ago. A copy of the complaint was made public on Monday.

Gilman, who had a final insurance fraud charge dismissed in January, said Spitzer acted with “actual malice” by suggesting that he was guilty of crimes of which he was never accused.

Although he wasn’t named in the article, Mr. Gilman complained that Spitzer defamed him by writing that “Marsh’s behavior was a blatant abuse of law and market power: price-fixing, bid-rigging and kickbacks all designed to harm their customers and the market while Marsh and its employees pocketed the increased fees and kickbacks.”

“While Mr. Spitzer’s statements do not refer to Mr. Gilman by name, Mr. Gilman is readily identifiable as the subject of the defamatory comments,” said the complaint. “Mr. Spitzer was well aware of his own allegations as attorney general and the resolution of those allegations in favor of Mr. Gilman and yet, recklessly disregarded these facts.”

In 2004 Mr. Spizter, then the state’s Attorney General, announced an investigation into the practices at Marsh & McLennan, particularly fees paid by insures to brokers who place business with them. Gilman, who worked for the company at the time, was charged in 2005 with 37 counts of insurance fraud. Gilman’s final charge was dropped last January.

“I haven’t seen the lawsuit and so will not comment on it,” said Spitzer. “The illegalities rampant at Marsh & McLennan leading to their fine of $850 million and the multiple judicial findings of illegality are clear from the public record.”

Mr. Gilman is now seeking at least $10 million in compensatory damages; $20 million in general damages, including damage to his reputation; and $30 million in punitive damages.

How To Know It’s Time To Get A New Mattress

byAlma Abell

In order for a person to get the best out of their mind and body, they will need to make sure they have all of their proverbial ducks in a row. There are a number of different things that can really affect a person’s well-being in a negative way. Among the most common problem a person will face is not having an adequate sleep surface. The longer you have the same sleep surface in place, the harder it will be to get the right amount of sleep. Here are a few things to consider when trying to figure out if it is time to replace your current Sealy Mattress in Flowood, MS.

Is the Sleep Your Getting Quality?

The first thing you need to consider when trying to decide whether or not to get a new sleep surface is the quality of the sleep you are getting. If you are spending the whole night tossing and turning, then it is safe to assume that the sleep surface you have is in need of replacement. Not being able to get the quality sleep you deserve can lead to a number of different issues.

Are You Getting Healthy Sleep?

The next thing to consider when trying to decide if you need a new sleep surface is whether or not the sleep you are getting is healthy. If you are waking up feeling like you have been hit by a truck, then it may be time for a new sleep surface. As a sleep surface begins to age, you will start to notice that you are not getting the support you once did. This can make your back and neck ache horribly after a long night’s sleep. By getting a new sleep surface, you will be able to feel rested and relaxed upon waking up from a slumber.

How Hygienic Is Your Sleep Surface?

Another very important factor to weigh when trying to decide on whether or not to get a new sleep surface is how hygienic the existing sleep surface is. If you are noticing a bad smell and cannot seem to get rid of it, then you may be dealing with a dirty sleep surface. The money you pay for a new sleep surface will be more than worth it in the end when you are able to get the hygienic sleep you are looking for.

When in the market for a Sealy Mattress Flowood, MS, visit our website to know more.

Sex industry plans live sex-on-demand video for hotels

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sex industry producers think over a new service: on-demand live sex video that can be watched from a hotel room. Will this service be popular? Will large hotel chains go along? These and some other issues were talked about during panel discussion at annual Las Vegas, Nevada trade show for sex entertainment industry producers, marketers and payment processors Internext.

There were two opinions on this issue. Gregory Clayman, the owner of the live-action company Video Secrets expressed confidence that in the nearest future sex industry would be selling images of couples making love live over the hotel’s entertainment systems.

At the same time Anne Taulane, managing editor of Lodging magazine, said she doubted whether major hotel chains would be enthusiastic about this idea as she was convinced that on-demand sex video was more available to the mainstream than viewing live sex performers over hotel’s entertainment system.

The panelists praised Mastercard and Visa programs which helped to reduce chargebacks or refusals to pay for ordered sex video and debated whether requiring a credit card would prevent minors from viewing sexually explicit materials in the Internet. As the result they came to the conclusion that the government must intervene to cope with these problems.

Consensus reached on incentive package for Iran

Friday, June 2, 2006

In Vienna, top diplomats from the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, and Germany reached an agreement on Thursday on an incentive package to offer to Iran in exchange for its giving up uranium enrichment.

The specifics of the incentive package were not revealed, but a delegation from Europe led by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is expected to formally deliver the offer to Iran in the coming days. Iran would then have several weeks to respond.

In a prepared statement, British foreign secretary Margaret Beckett said, “We have agreed on a set of far-reaching proposals as a basis for discussions with Iran. We believe they offer Iran the chance to reach a negotiated agreement based on cooperation.”

Beckett did not mention any sanctions to be taken against Iran if it refuses to comply. The United Nations Security Council is expected to take up the question of sanctions should Iran turn down the offer.

The agreement comes a day after the United States offered to participate in multilateral negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program if Iran suspends its uranium enrichment program. Iran agreed to the idea of holding talks but rejected the preconditions.

In the first direct reaction by the Iranian government to the offer, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Thursday; “Iran welcomes dialogue under just conditions but won’t give up our rights,” Iranian state-run television reported. “We won’t negotiate about the Iranian nation’s natural nuclear rights but we are prepared, within a defined, just framework and without any discrimination, to hold dialogue about common concerns,” he said.