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KKE: Interview with the Greek Communist Party

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wikinews reporter Iain Macdonald has performed an interview with Dr Isabella Margara, a London-based member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). In the interview Margara sets out the communist response to current events in Greece as well as discussing the viability of a communist economy for the nation. She also hit back at Petros Tzomakas, a member of another Greek far-left party which criticised KKE in a previous interview.

The interview comes amid tensions in cash-strapped Greece, where the government is introducing controversial austerity measures to try to ease the nation’s debt-problem. An international rescue package has been prepared by European Union member states and the International Monetary Fund – should Greece require a bailout; protests have been held against government attempts to manage the economic situation.



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US unemployment rate reaches 9.8%

Friday, October 2, 2009

Companies in the United States are shedding more jobs, pushing the country’s unemployment rate to a 26-year high of 9.8%.

The US Labor Department said on Friday that employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, with companies in the service industries — including banks, restaurants and retailers — hit especially hard. This is the 21st consecutive month of job losses in the country.

The United States has now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession officially began in December 2007. The new data has sparked fears that unemployment could threaten an economic recovery. Top US officials have warned that any recovery would be slow and uneven, and some have predicted the unemployment rate will top 10% before the situation improves.

“Continued household deleveraging and rising unemployment may weigh more on consumption than forecast, and accelerating corporate and commercial property defaults could slow the improvement in financial conditions,” read a report by the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, predicting that unemployment will average 10.1% by next year and not go back down to five percent until 2014.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, said that “it’s a very fragile and tentative recovery. Policy makers need to do more.”

“The number came in weaker than expected. We saw a lot of artificial involvement by the government to prop up the markets, and now that that is starting to end, the private sector isn’t yet showing signs of life,” said Kevin Caron, a market strategist for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

Also on Thursday, the US Commerce Department said factory orders fell for the first time in five months, dropping eight-tenths of a percent in August. Orders for durable goods — items intended to last several years (including everything from appliances to airliners) — fell 2.6%, the largest drop since January of this year.

The US government has been spending billions of dollars — part of a $787 billion stimulus package — to help spark economic growth. There have been some signs the economy is improving.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that spending on home construction jumped in August for its biggest increase in 16 years. A real estate trade group, the National Association of Realtors, said pending sales of previously owned homes rose more than 12 percent in August, compared to August 2008.

A separate Commerce Department report said that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, rose at its fastest pace in nearly eight years, jumping 1.3 percent in August.

Other reports have provided cause for concern. A banking industry trade group said Thursday the number of US consumers making late payments, or failing to make payments, on loans and credit cards is on the rise. A survey by a business group, the Institute for Supply Management, Thursday showed US manufacturing grew in September, but at a slower pace than in August when manufacturing increased for the first time in a year and a half.

Stock markets reacted negatively to the reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 41 points in early trading, reaching a level of 9467. This follows a drop of 203 points on Thursday, its largest loss in a single day since July. The London FTSE index fell 55 points, or 1.1%, to reach 4993 points by 15.00 local time.



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Thousands expected to protest at Forbes Global CEO conference in Sydney

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Organisers of a protest march planned to occur in Sydney next week are predicting thousands of people will attend. The protest is timed to coincide with the Forbes Global CEO Conference, which starts at the Sydney Opera House the same day.

The action is being promoted by various trade unions and peace and social justice groups, and co-ordinated by the 30A Network, which is an informal association of such groups. A number of reasons have been given for the protest, including the Iraq War, globalisation, and the Australian government’s planned industrial relations changes.

The 30A network website is reporting that the protest has been endorsed by the NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ Union, the Maritime Union of Australia, the Australian Services Union, and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

The NSW Police Service will provide free security for the conference. This is potentially controversial, as other events such as football games have to pay for police to attend. The decision has been criticised by the NSW Police Association, as they claim it will leave inner city stations short-staffed. The opposition police spokesman Mike Gallacher echoed the Association’s criticism, saying that the conference organisers should foot the bill themselves.

“Even though ASIO have identified it as a risk coming to Sydney, they can be guaranteed the best policing resources available in this country to hold their conference in a safe environment, but to do so they should have been asked to pay their way, to pay the bill,” he said.

A spokesman for the Police Minister said that frontline policing would not be affected.

New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma defended the use of taxpayers’ money on policing the conference.

“The advice I have is that ASIO have declared this as a medium-security event, which classifies it as warranting security. They do expect up to 2,000 protesters and if the local agricultural show had been subject to the same security assessment with potential protesters, they too would receive the same security response,” he said.



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Apple unveils iPhone 4, iOS 4 at Worldwide Developers Conference 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Yesterday, at this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), company CEO Steve Jobs unveiled iPhone 4, along with the new iOS 4 operating system for Apple mobile devices.

The announcement was long-awaited but not a very big surprise. In April, the technology blog Gizmodo obtained a prototype of the new phone and published details of it online. While introducing iPhone 4, at the annual conference, Jobs started by hinting at the incident, saying, “Stop me if you’ve already seen this.”

The new iPhone was praised by Jobs as “the biggest leap we’ve taken since the original iPhone.” It is only 9.3 millimetres (0.37 inches) thick, making it “the thinnest smartphone on the planet”, a 24 percent reduction from Apple’s previous model, the iPhone 3GS. Structure-wise, iPhone 4 has a new stainless steel frame, which acts as an antenna, supposedly boosting its signal reception abilities and possibly reducing the amount of dropped calls. It also has a new screen, dubbed a “retina display,” which displays images at 326 pixels per inch. During the keynote, Jobs demoed the device’s new internal gyroscope as well. Even though it now uses Apple’s faster A4 processor (first used in its iPad tablet), iPhone 4 has a claimed seven hours of 3G talk time, up two hours from the 3GS.

In addition to its design features, Jobs showed off iPhone 4’s new video calling abilities. This feature is called FaceTime, and connects with other iPhone 4s via Wi-Fi. The phone has two cameras: one on the front for video chats, and one on the back for taking pictures and other videos. The rear camera has a resolution of five megapixels, is capable of recording high-definition video, and has an LED flash.

The iPhone 4 will use Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 4. Formerly “iPhone OS,” iOS 4 was first introduced by Apple in April, and includes multitasking capabilities. Jobs called the new software “the most advanced mobile operating system in the world.” iOS will support Apple’s new mobile advertising service, iAd, which goes live on July 1.

iPhone 4 will be available on June 24 in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan. It comes in two colors—black and white—and two storage capacities. The 16GB version is priced at US$199 and the 32GB version at US$299. The iPhone 3GS’s price will be reduced to US$99, and the iPhone 3G will be discontinued. iOS will be available as a free software update to users of compatible older Apple devices (including the 3GS) on June 21. In the U.S., iPhone 4 will only be available on AT&T’s cellular network, despite calls for Apple to let the iPhone be used on other carriers, such as Verizon.

Competition-wise, the BlackBerry mobile device is still the most popular smartphone right now. Apple is also facing some serious competition from web giant Google’s Android operating system, as well as Palm’s webOS. Earlier this year, Android phones managed to outsell iPhones. iPhone users, however, account for over half of those surfing the Internet on a mobile browser in the U.S. Jobs also noted that over five billion iOS applications, commonly called “apps,” have been purchased from Apple’s App Store. The App Store currently has around 225,000 different apps for sale.



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New Zealand begins process to consider changing national flag design

Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Tuesday, the New Zealand government announced the start of a public process to suggest designs for a new national flag, and determine whether their citizens would prefer a different national flag over the current one.

The current New Zealand flag is partially based on the United Kingdom’s flag; the new one would be unique to New Zealand. The government’s Flag Consideration Project has planned a number of conferences and roadshows as part of this process, with the first meeting set to take place in Christchurch on May 16. According to the New Zealand Herald, Emeritus Professor John Burrows, the chairman of the project’s panel of twelve, said New Zealand’s flag has never before been open to public choice.

Professor Burrows also said resources and kits would be accessible for schools and communities, “For example, schools can run their own flag discussions and referendums to mirror the formal process as part of their own learning exercise”. People were encouraged to submit their designs online at www.flag.govt.nz and suggest what the flag should mean on www.standfor.co.nz. Names of participants would be engraved, at their option, on a flag pole monument to be built in the nation’s capital, Wellington.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key said he believes redesigning the flag now has a “strong rationale”. Mr Key promoted the campaign for a unique New Zealand flag on Waitangi Day — February 6 — this year. Of the public process, he said, “In the end I’ll have one vote in each referendum just like every other New Zealander on the electoral roll”.

The New Zealand government intends to hold two referendums to reach a verdict on the flag, at an estimated cost of NZ$26 million, although a recent poll found only a quarter of citizens favoured changing the flag. This is a decrease from the year before, when it was forty percent. The first referendum is to be held from November 20 to December 11, selecting a single new flag design out of about four finalists. Voters would then choose between the new flag and their current flag early in 2016.



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Man caught driving 111 kph over limit in Australia

Monday, January 25, 2010

A nineteen-year-old man was caught driving at 191 kilometres an hour (kph) in an 80 kph zone in Traralgon, Victoria, Australia. The teenager told police of the La Trobe Traffic Management Unit (TMU) that he was “late to drop his girlfriend off at home”.

TMU officers pulled over the driver’s Ford XR6 at 11:00pm on Saturday, Australian Eastern Daylight Saving time.

“Police observed the Ford XR6 travelling east along the Princess Highway Traralgon at 11:00pm last night at 191kph in an 80kph zone. The young man who had his 16 year old girlfriend in the car with him had his licence for only 14 months”, police said.

The vehicle was impounded for 48 hours while his license will be suspended for twelve months.



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Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gay Talese wants to go to Iraq. “It so happens there is someone that’s working on such a thing right now for me,” the 75-year-old legendary journalist and author told David Shankbone. “Even if I was on Al-Jazeera with a gun to my head, I wouldn’t be pleading with those bastards! I’d say, ‘Go ahead. Make my day.'”

Few reporters will ever reach the stature of Talese. His 1966 profile of Frank Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, was not only cited by The Economist as the greatest profile of Sinatra ever written, but is considered the greatest of any celebrity profile ever written. In the 70th anniversary issue of Esquire in October 2003, the editors declared the piece the “Best Story Esquire Ever Published.”

Talese helped create and define a new style of literary reporting called New Journalism. Talese himself told National Public Radio he rejects this label (“The term new journalism became very fashionable on college campuses in the 1970s and some of its practitioners tended to be a little loose with the facts. And that’s where I wanted to part company.”)

He is not bothered by the Bancrofts selling The Wall Street Journal—”It’s not like we should lament the passing of some noble dynasty!”—to Rupert Murdoch, but he is bothered by how the press supported and sold the Iraq War to the American people. “The press in Washington got us into this war as much as the people that are controlling it,” said Talese. “They took information that was second-hand information, and they went along with it.” He wants to see the Washington press corp disbanded and sent around the country to get back in touch with the people it covers; that the press should not be so focused on–and in bed with–the federal government.

Augusten Burroughs once said that writers are experience junkies, and Talese fits the bill. Talese–who has been married to Nan Talese (she edited James Frey‘s Million Little Piece) for fifty years–can be found at baseball games in Cuba or the gay bars of Beijing, wanting to see humanity in all its experience.

Below is Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s interview with Gay Talese.

Contents

  • 1 On Gay Talese
  • 2 On a higher power and how he’d like to die
  • 3 On the media and Iraq
  • 4 On the Iraq War
  • 5 State of Journalism
  • 6 On travel to Cuba
  • 7 On Chinese gay bars
  • 8 On the literary canon
  • 9 Sources


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Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai discharged from hospital

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for education for girls, was discharged yesterday from the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, England after success in the first stage of her medical treatment.

In October, Yousafzai was shot by Taliban forces on a school bus in Mingora, Swat District, Pakistan. She was given emergency treatment in Pakistan and then flown to Britain for treatment at a specialist unit which deals with injured soldiers.

Dave Rosser, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust medical director, gave a statement about Yousafzai’s release from hospital: “Malala is a strong young woman and has worked hard with the people caring for her to make excellent progress in her recovery. Following discussions with Malala and her medical team, we decided that she would benefit from being at home with her parents and two brothers. She will return to the hospital as an outpatient and our therapies team will continue to work with her at home to supervise her onward care.”

She is due to return to hospital in a few weeks for cranial reconstructive surgery.



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U.S. tariffs on Chinese solar panels to be contested

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The United States continues to implement new trade barriers; the most recent tariffs emerged on Wednesday, targeting solar panels imported from China.

The new tariff is a result of a query submitted in December 2008 by GES USA, an American solar company. The resultant inquiry sought to clarify tariffs levied on solar panels imported from China, imports which, for nearly two decades, were considered a duty-free commodity.

In early January, U.S. Customs officials reportedly informed the company that the solar panels contained electronic devices that place the panels in the electric generator import category which is subject to a 2.5% import tariff. Specifically, the ruling cited the presence of diodes on the solar panels as evidence of electric generation and hence they must be treated as an electric generator. Small solar panels already incur a 3.9% tariff. The January decision was made by a U.S. trade specialist whose rulings can be overturned.

The tariffs will be levied on imported panels that provide electricity for all uses. Additionally, tariffs will be collected dating from the beginning of 2009. The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that the accumulated tariffs from this year may total more than US$ 70 million. This week’s tariff revelation caught many industry leaders off-guard and yesterday the Solar Industries Association moved to block the tariff. The Association president, Rhone Resch, stated “… We’re taking it [the tariff] very seriously and we will be responding. … The industry is in the process of preparing a challenge”. The Association intends to file their appeal with senior U.S. Customs officials who have the option to overrule the decision to implement the tariff. However, if the officials do not revoke the tariff, then the case must go before the U.S. Court of International Trade.

The U.S. amount spent on imported solar panels roughly matches the income from exported panels; US$ 605 million imported versus US$ 555 million exported, according to the Commerce Department figures on the first seven months of this year. Major solar panel importers have already begun to move their operations to the U.S.



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