Interview with Brazilian blogger Ricardo Serran Lobo

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ricardo Serran Lobo is a Brazilian blogger who writes about his famous neighbor, the politician Roberto Jefferson, head of the Brazilian Labor Party in the Brazilian Congress of Deputies. Jefferson has become a major figure in the ongoing Brazilian mensalão scandal revolving around corruption and bribery.

Vizinho do Jefferson [1] quickly became very popular among Brazilians, describing the routine of Jefferson, while providing information about politics and fresh news about the scandal. Lobo’s blog got third place in the Best Of Blogs contest run by Deutsche Welle International.

Lobo gets an intimate look at the center of Brazilian politics by living in Brasilia, near residences of parliamentarians (including Roberto Jefferson), public buildings and the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies. Or, as he says in his blog: “near the eye of the hurricane,” a reference to the recent political crisis.

At first, Lobo began describing the daily activities of his famous neighbor deputy Roberto Jefferson. As the crisis moved on, he began to describe the political events regarding it. His writings evolved to not only what is going on with Jefferson, but what is going on in Brazilian Congress, and has interviewed politicians, including Roberto Jefferson himself.

The blog tries to be informative, with a lot of humour (common with Brazilians), and some protests against the bad habits of Brazilian politics in general.

Jefferson’s neighbor, the blog, is an example of citizen journalism and it shows that ordinary people can compete with professional media.

Contents

  • 1 Interview
    • 1.1 Personal questions
    • 1.2 The blog
    • 1.3 Journalism
    • 1.4 Brazilian politics in general
    • 1.5 The scandal
    • 1.6 Popular reaction
    • 1.7 Roberto Jefferson
    • 1.8 Final remarks
  • 2 External page

2012 Olympics clash with Ramadan

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Muslim groups from across the world are criticising the organisers of the 2012 Olympics in London after it was revealed that the games will take place over Ramadan. The most holy month in the Muslim calendar, which will take place from the 21 July to 20 August in 2012, involves fasting during daylight hours and will affect an estimated 3,000 athletes.

Joanna Manning Cooper, spokesman for the games said: “We did know about it when we submitted our bid and we have always believed that we could find ways to accommodate it.”Nevertheless, this will come as a huge embarrassment for the organisers who have tried to ensure the event involve all of Britain’s ethnic communities.A quarter of the athletes who took part in the 2004 Athens Olympics were from predominantly Muslim countries and the fast will put any athletes involved at a clear disadvantage.

The chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Massoud Shadjared said: “This is going to disadvantage the athletes and alienate the Asian communities by saying they don’t matter. It’s not only going to affect the participants, it’s going to affect all the people who want to watch the games.”

The president of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey, Togay Bayalti, said: “This will be difficult for Muslim athletes. They don’t have to observe Ramadan if they are doing sport and travelling but they will have to decide whether it is important to them. “It would be nice for the friendship of the Games if they had chosen a different date.”

The games will run from the 27 July to 12 August to coincide with the British Summer holidays. The summer holidays are a six week period running from mid July to early September. During this time, public transportation is generally less crowded and it will be easier to find the 70,000 volunteers needed to keep the games running. The International Olympics Committee has specified that the games must take place between July 15 to August 31. Giselle Davies, IOC spokesperson said, “We give a window to the five bid cities. The host city selects the dates within that window.”

The organisers are working with the Muslim Council of Great Britain to find ways around the problem.

Interview with U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tom Tancredo has been a member of the United States House of Representatives since 1999, representing the 6th Congressional District of Colorado. He rose to national prominence for his strong stance against illegal immigration and his announcement that he was a Republican candidate in the 2008 Presidential election. David Shankbone recently spoke with the Congressman and posed questions from Wikipedia editors and Wikinews reporters:

DS: Throughout my life my father, a lifelong Republican and an avid listener of Rush Limbaugh, told me that all we needed in this country was a Republican Congress, Republican Senate and a Republican White House to get this country on the right track. Last year he expressed his disappointment to me. So many Republicans, like my father, feel lied to or let down by the party. The rationale for the Iraq War, the sex and bribery scandals, the pork barrel projects, and, as Alan Greenspan recently pointed out, the fiscal irresponsibility. People feel there have been many broken promises. Why should someone vote Republican today?

TT: The best reason I can give: we’re not the Democrats. The best thing we have going for us is the Democrats. Maybe that’s as far as I can go; I hope that there are candidates out there who will reflect and carry out the values that your father believes in when he votes Republican. To the extent you can ferret those people out from the others, that’s who he should vote for. The party was taught a pretty harsh lesson in this last election. I have noticed in the last several months we have done a better job of defending Republican principles as the minority than we ever did in the majority. I feel more in tune with the party now than I have throughout the Bush Presidency. Even before he came in, we were in the majority and we were still spending too much. Hopefully we can say that we were spanked by the American public and that we learned our lessons. There are true believers out there who will stick to their guns, and it’s a matter of principle. What’s the alternative? Hillary Clinton?

DS: You yourself said you would only serve three terms in Congress, but then broke that promise. What caused you to reverse yourself?

TT: What happened was this: having ‘lame duck’ stamped on your forehead in Congress when they know you are not going to be around. Then the committee assignments become less meaningful. That was just one of the factors. Far more significant was my becoming the most visible Congressional member on the immigration issue. When I came into Congress I approached Lamar Smith, who was “The Man” on immigration, and said to him, “I’ve come to help you on this issue.” I felt it was one of the most serious we face as a nation. Lamar said, “It’s all yours! I’ve had it with 10 years of busting my head against the wall!” I started doing special orders—that’s when you speak to an empty chamber and whoever is watching CSPAN–and I did that night after night and wondered if it was worth it; was anyone paying attention? Then I’d go back to my office to pick up my keys and I’d see all the telephone lines illuminated, and the fax machine would be going, and a pile of e-mails would be handed to me the next day. I realized: people pay attention. I started picking it up, speaking around the country, leading the caucus on it. In time it became apparent there was nobody to hand the baton to; there were supporters, but not one single soul was willing to take it on as their issue. It was the first year of my second term that I sent a letter to every supporter I had. I said I had come to this conclusion that at the end of my third term (which is three years away) I don’t know if I will run again or not, but that the decision would not be based upon the term limit pledge, because immigration issue makes me feel I have a responsibility I can not shirk. I said that if anybody who gave me money based upon my term limits pledge wanted it back, I would do so. I received maybe three requests.

DS: There are an estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. To round up and deport millions of people would be a major government undertaking, requiring massive federal spending and invasive enforcement. What level of funding would be necessary for U.S. Immigration and Customs to achieve the level of enforcement that you’d like to see?

TT: Only a relatively slight increase because the only thing you have to do, other than building a barrier on the southern border, is go after employers. We need to go aggressively after the employers, and try to identify some of the more high profile employers who are hiring illegal aliens. Go after them with fines, and if they are not only hiring them but also conspiring to bring them in, then they could go to jail. A perp walk would have a chilling effect. If you break that magnet, most illegal aliens would go home voluntarily. An article in the Rocky Mountain News stated there has been an employer crackdown in Colorado, and that they are going home or moving on to other states. If we did it nationally, they will return home, because the jobs are no longer available. It doesn’t have to happen over time or instantaneously. The costs to the American public for 12 million illegals are enormous and far more than are paid for by the illegal immigrants themselves in taxes.

DS: How long would full enforcement take for you to succeed?

TT: It would be a couple of years before employers were weaned off illegal immigrants and then a couple more years before you saw a really significant reduction.

DS: Can you explain your remarks about bombing the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina as a deterrent to terrorists operating against the United States.

TT: The question I was answering was “What would you do if Islamic terrorists set off on or more nuclear devices in the United States?” My response was that we would need to come up with a deterrent, and that deterrent may very well be a threat to take out their holy sites if they did something like that in the United States. I still believe it is something we must consider as a possible deterrent because at the present time there are no negative consequences that would accrue to the people who commit a crime such as a nuclear, chemical or biological attack. There are no negative consequences; they may die in the attack but that is not a negative consequence for them. Usually they aren’t going to be state actors.

DS: But wouldn’t an attack on Mecca and Medina be an attack on a sovereign state?

TT: You are not attacking the state, but the religious ideology itself. Holy sites are not just in Saudi Arabia; there’s a number of them. In fact, Iran has one of the holiest cities in Islam. And I never used the word nuclear device; I was talking about taking out a physical structure. The reason I suggested it as a possible deterrent is because it is the only thing that matches the threat itself. The threat is from a religious ideology. Not just from Islam, but from a nation whose requirements include jihad against infidels, and we are a threat to their culture, which is why they believe we need to be destroyed. We must understand what motivates our opponents in order to develop a successful response. I’ve received death threats, enormous criticism, and I’ve been hung in effigy in Pakistan, but nobody has given me an alternative strategy that would be a deterrent to such an event. I guarantee when you read the national intelligence estimates, you would be hard pressed to not walk away from doing something.

DS: Aside from becoming President, if you could be granted three wishes, what would they be?

TT: It was the other night that I saw for the third or fourth time Saving Private Ryan and in the last scene Private Ryan asks, “Have I been a good man, have I earned it?” My greatest wish is to be a good father and to have earned everything I have been given in this life. And to be a better Christian.

DS: Farmers rely heavily on seasonal manual labor. Strict enforcement of immigration laws will inevitably reduce the pool of migrant labor and thus increase costs. Do you support tariffs or other government intervention to keep American farm products competitive?

TT: No, I don’t , because I challenge the premise of the question. The ability for farmers to obtain workers in the United States is only minimally hampered by the immigration process because there is, in fact, H-2A, the visa that is designed specifically for agricultural workers. We can bring in 10,000,000 if we want to. There are no caps. There are restrictions in terms of pay and healthcare benefits, and that’s what makes hiring illegal aliens more attractive. The costs would increase for certain agricultural interest, but it would be regional. You would also see a very aggressive movement toward the mechanization of farm work. We are seeing it today in a lot of areas. We saw it in the tomato industry with the Bracero Program. That was a program many growers relied heavily upon: workers, primarily from Mexico would come up seasonally, work, and then went back home. It was successful. But liberals ended the program as a bad idea because the immigrants couldn’t bring their families. When that happened, tomato growers said they’d go out of business. Lo and behold they developed machinery that can harvest citrus fruit, and now they are genetically engineering trees that have a thicker bark but are more flexible so they can be shaken by these machines. You’ll see it more and more.

DS: Do you agree that our forefathers intended birthright citizenship?

TT: No, the Fourteenth Amendment, upon which the concept of birthright citizenship is based, was a response to the Dred Scott decision.
During the original Senate debate there was an understanding that it wouldn’t be provided to people simply because they were born here, but instead to people under our jurisdiction. For instance, nobody assumes a child born to an embassy employee or an ambassador is a citizen of this country. There was an understanding and a reference to “under the jurisdiction” of the United States.

DS: You and Karl Rove engaged, in your words, in a screaming match over immigration, and Rove said that you would never again “darken the doorstep of the White House.” Are you still considered persona non grata at the White House?

TT: Yeah, even though he is gone, the President’s feelings about my criticism of him have not changed. It wasn’t my stand on immigration, it was my criticisms of the President that have made me persona non grata.

DS: Psychologist Robert Hare has discussed in his work the use of doublespeak as a hallmark of psychopaths, and social scientists have pointed out that the use of doublespeak is most prevalent in the fields of law and politics. Do these two trends alarm you?

TT [Laughs] Yes and no. Unfortunately doublespeak is all too characteristic of people in my profession.

DS: What is the proper role of Congress in the time of war?

TT: To first declare it, and then to fund it or not.

DS: Politics is dominated by lawyers. What other group of people or professions would you prefer to see dominate the field of politics and why?

TT: I can’t think of a particular profession from which I would be more comfortable drawing politicians from.

DS: Do you think lawyers are better for handling legislation and as politicians?

TT: No, they don’t offer anything particularly advantageous to the process. I don’t think it should be dominated by one profession. I’ll tell you what this profession is, and it doesn’t matter what field you come out of. There’s something I noticed here. I tell every single freshman I come across that there are very few words of wisdom, having only been here for ten years, that I can pass along to you but there is one thing I can tell you: this place is Chinese water torture on your principles. Every single day there is another drip, and it comes from a call from a colleague asking you to sign on to a bill you wouldn’t have signed on to; but it’s a friend, and it’s not that big a deal. Or a constituent who comes in and asks you to do something and you think it wouldn’t be such a big deal; or a special interest group that asks you to vote for something you wouldn’t vote for. After time it erodes the toughest of shells if one isn’t careful doesn’t think about it. Even if you recognize that these small steps lead to a feeling that remaining here is the ultimate goal; that the acquisition of power or the maintenance of power is the ultimate goal, that really does… it doesn’t matter if you are a lawyer or not, it does seem to have an impact on people. It’s a malady that is very common in Washington, and you have to think about it, you really do, or you will succumb to it. I don’t mean to suggest I’ve been impervious to these pressures, but I’ve tried my best to avoid it. One reason I am persona non grata at the White House is not just because of immigration, but because I refuse to support him on his trade policy, his education policy, Medicare and prescription drugs initiatives. I remember leaving that debate at 6:30 on a Saturday morning , after having the President call every freshman off the floor of the House to badger them into submission until there were enough votes to pass it. I remember a woman, a freshman colleague, walking away in tears saying she had never been through anything like that in her life. Here was a Republican Congress increasing government to an extent larger than it had been increased since Medicare had come into existence. Your dad should have been absolutely mortified, because it was against all of our principles. And I know the leadership was torn, but we had the President pressing us: we had to do it, we had to stay in power, the President is asking us to do it. Principles be damned. There were people who caved in that night who I never in a million years thought would.
And the threats! “You like being Committee Chairman?” Yes I do. “Do you want to be Chairman tomorrow?” And that’s how it happens. I was called into Tom Delay’s office because I was supporting Republican challengers to Republican incumbents. I had a group called Team America that went out and did that. He called me and said to me, “You’re jeopardizing your career in this place by doing these things.” And I said, “Tom, out of all the things you can threaten with me that is the least effective because I do not look at this place as a career.”

DS: You have supported proposed constitutional amendments that would ban abortion and same-sex marriage. You are also a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. Why do you believe that the U.S. Constitution should regulate medical procedures and personal relationships, but not gun ownership?

TT: The issue of medical procedures and relationships: I don’t really believe the federal government or any level of government has any business in determining about who I care about, or who anybody cares about, but I do believe they have a legitimate role, and the federal government has a responsibility, because of reciprocity. We are only one federal judge decision away from having gay marriage imposed on all states. That’s why there is a need for a Constitutional Amendment. I really believe a family–male, female, rearing children–I believe that is an important structure for the state itself, the way we procreate, which hopefully provides a stable environment for children. That is important to the state, and that’s why I think it’s legitimate. The reciprocity clause forces us into thinking about a Constitutional Amendment. I believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned because I think it’s lousy law, and many liberal jurists think it’s lousy because it read into the Constitution a right to privacy. I don’t’ see a connection between these things and the 2nd Amendment. Same-sex marriage and abortion, perhaps, but I don’t see a connection to the Second Amendment question. I support the 2nd Amendment because it is one of the most important we have. It’s a right we have to protect a lot of our other rights. And in our urban centers…and I don’t’ believe as some Second Amendment radicals believe that every single person has that right. I don’t think so! If you have committed a felony, or if you are a danger to yourself or someone else, then you shouldn’t be able to obtain a firearm, but law-abiding citizens should because it gives them a sense of security and protection against people who would do you harm. I don’t believe urban communities are more dangerous because people are allowed to own guns, but because dangerous people have guns. I would feel more comfortable if in the District of Columbia I could carry a concealed gun. I have a permit.

DS: You recently spoke out against the Black and Hispanic Congressional caucuses, stating, “It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a color-blind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race. If we are serious about achieving the goal of a colorblind society, Congress should lead by example and end these divisive, race-based caucuses.” Do you also believe there is no longer a need for the NAACP?

TT: No, I think it’s fine, because it’s a private organization, and people can belong to whatever private organization they want, and the need will be determined to a great extent by reality. If in fact people feel committed to an organization that they believe represents their interest, and it’s a voluntary association, that’s fine. All I’m saying is that for Congress to support these things, that run on money that is appropriated–though they fund them in a convoluted way, but it gets there– my point was about leading by example. If people said we don’t think it’s a good idea, maybe that would have an impact on how people feel about things like the NAACP. I would hope there would be, and I would assume Martin Luther King hoped–that’s his quite about a colorblind society–that there will come a time we don’t need them. That it’s an anachronistic organization. I also don’t believe in the creation of districts on race.

DS: You were one of a handful of Republicans who voted for a bill proposed by Maurice Hinchey and Dana Rohrabacher to stop the Department of Justice from raiding medical marijuana patients and caregivers in states where medical marijuana is legal, citing states’ rights concerns. On the other hand, you have suggested state legislators and mayors should be imprisoned for passing laws contrary to federal immigration law, and you support the Federal Marriage Amendment to ban gay marriage nationally. How do you reconcile these seemingly contradictory positions?

TT: We are talking about issues that are legitimately based upon the Constitutional roles of the state and federal government. I believe there is no Constitutional provision that suggests the federal government has a role to play in preventing states, or punishing states, over laws with regards to medical marijuana. I believe absolutely there is a role for the federal government for punishing states or laws when they contravene federal jurisdiction. For instance, protecting states against invasion. Immigration is federal policy, and there’s a law actually called “Encouragement”: you can’t encourage people to come in illegally or stay here illegally. I believe that is constitutionally a federal area.

DS: If you had to support one of the Democratic candidates, which one would it be and why?

TT: Although I couldn’t vote for him, if I had to support one for a nominee it would be Obama, and I would do so because first, I believe we could beat him [laughs], but secondly, and less cynically, I think it would be very good to have a black man, a good family man, and a very articulate man, to have him as a role model for a lot of black children in this country.

22 hostages freed after raid in Pakistani army headquarters

Sunday, October 11, 2009

22 hostages were freed after military commandos raided a Pakistan army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Sunday that had been taken by militants, reports said. Four militants and three hostages had been killed in the resulting clashes including two senior officers.

The incident began midday on Saturday when several gunmen, disguised in military uniforms, attacked a checkpoint outside the heavily guarded headquarters. The Pakistani military initially said it had the situation under control about an hour after the attack, however, it had been discovered later that some of the militants had escaped into a security office building and were holding hostages.

“Eight to 10 terrorists were involved in this attack,” Pakistani army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said. He was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that “three of the hostages were killed due to militant firing.”

No group has yet claimed responsibility for this attack.

On Monday, a suicide bomber disguised in a paramilitary uniform attacked a UN office in nearby Islamabad, and on Friday, a suspected suicide car-bomber killed some 50 people in Peshawar. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the UN bombing and threatened to target other international organizations and Pakistani government and military locations.

In response to the attacks, Pakistani leaders have vowed to start a new offensive against militants in the country’s tribal regions along the Afghan border.

Over 30 killed in a Baghdad restaurant bombing

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A suicide bomber detonated himself in a crowded Baghdad restaurant Thursday morning at approximately 9:30 local time (0630 GMT). 35 were reportedly killed and 25 wounded in the blast. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The restaurant was frequented by US-backed Iraqi security forces, often the target of Sunni Arab rebels and Islamist Al-Qaeda groups. A police officer said that at least four Iraqi police patrols were in the restaurant at the time of the bombing.

The bombing was one of the biggest attacks in Baghdad in recent months. A statement on an Islamist website used by Al-Qaeda said that the attack was a part of an Al-Qaeda campaign to counter recent raids by US and Iraqi forces on suspected militant strongholds near the Syrian border.

The attack came just a day after the bombing of hotels in Amman, Jordan, attacks also claimed by Al-Qaeda.

Wikinews interviews Aurélien Miralles about Sirenoscincus mobydick species discovery

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A group of researchers published a paper about their discovery of a new species of Madagascar mermaid skink lizards last December. The species is the fourth forelimbs-only terrestrial tetrapods species known to science, and the first one which also has no fingers on the forelimbs.

The species was collected at Marosely, Boriziny (French: Port-Bergé), Sofia Region, Madagascar. The Sirenoscincus mobydick name is after the existing parent genus, and a sperm whale from the 1851 novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

This week, Wikinews interviewed one of the researchers, French zoologist Aurélien Miralles, about the research.

((Wikinews)) What caused your initial interest in Madagascar lizards?

Aurélien Miralles: Well, I would say that since I am a child I am fascinated by the biodiversity of tropical countries, and more especially by reptiles. I did a PhD on the evolution and systematics of skink lizards from South America. Then, I get a Humboldt grant to do a postdoc in Germany, at the Miguel Vences Lab, in order to study Malagasy skinks. Madagascar being a fabulous hotspot for reptiles (and not only for reptiles actually), it was a very nice opportunity. Professor Vences proposed me to associate our complementary fields of expertise: he is expert in herpetology for Madagascar, and I am expert in skinks lizards (family Scincidae). It was a very fruitful experience, and many other results have still to [be] published.

((WN)) How was the new species discovered?

AM: By a very funny coincidence actually. In 2010, I went to Madagascar for a long trip through the south of the island, in the semi-arid bush for collecting lizards and snakes samples. Then, during the last days, just before coming back to Germany, I have visited by coincidence the zoological collection of the University of Antananarivo. In that place, I found an old jar of ethanol with two weird little specimens previously collected by a student who didn’t realize it was something new. Being expert on skinks, I immediately recognised it was something very probably new, very different from all the other known species.

((WN)) What does “Sirenoscincus” stand for?

AM: I am not the author of the genus name Sirenoscincus. This genus name was already existing. It has been described by Sakata and Hikida (two Japanese herpetologists). “Sireno” means mermaid. “Scincus” means skinks, a group of little lizards on which I am particularly focusing my studies. So, Sirenoscinus means “mermaid skink”, in reference to [the] fact it has forelimbs but no hindlimbs.

((WN)) How deep underground do the lizards live?

AM: Hard to answer this question because nothing is known on the ecology of this species. But more reasonably, we can hypothesize, by comparison to similar species of skinks, that it is probably living just under the sand surface, [a] few centimeters deep, probably no more, or below [a] rock, leaf litter, or piece of dead wood.

((WN)) What do the lizards eat?

AM: Again, by analogy, I would say most likely small invertebrates (insects, larvae, worms etc…).

((WN)) What equipment was used during the research?

AM: Classic equipment (microscope) and also a state-of-the-art device: a micro CT-scan. It is a big device producing [a] 3D picture of the internal structure without damaging the specimen. It is actually very similar to the scanner used in human medicine, but this one is specially designed for small specimens. Otherwise, I am currently studying the DNA of this species and closely related species in order to determine its phylogenetic position compared to other species with legs, in order to learn more about the evolutionary phenomena leading to limb loss.

((WN)) There are several news sources that have a photo of the species. Is it a photo as seen in a CT-scan?

AM: No, this picture showing a whitish specimen on a black background is not a CT-scan. It is a normal photograph of the collection specimen preserved in alcohol (the one that was in the jar). You can see the complete of picture (including CT-scan 3D radiography, drawing…) in the original scientific publication.

((WN)) Do you know when the newly discovered mermaid skink species was put into the jar? Do you have its photo (of the jar)?

AM: No, I have no picture of the jar. The specimen has been collected in November 2004.

((WN)) What were the roles of the people involved in the research? What activity was most time-consuming?

AM: As first investigator, I did most of the work…and the longest part of the work was to examine closely related species in order to do comparisons…and also to check the complete bibliography related to this topic and to write the paper.
Mrs Anjeriniaina is the student who […] collected the specimen a couple of years ago.
Mrs Hipsley and Mr Müller learnt me how to use the CT-scan, and helped me concerning some point relative to internal morphology. Mr Vences helped me as supervisors. Additionally, all of them have corrected the article, and gave me many relevant advices and corrections, thus improving the quality and the reliability of the paper.

((WN)) Did you get in touch with an external entity to get the new species officially recognised?

AM: No. In zoology, it is only needed to publish the description of a new species (and to give it a name) in a scientific journal, and to designate a holotype specimen (= specimen that will be the official reference for this species), to get this new species “officially” recognised by the scientific community. That does not mean that this new species is “correct” (it might be invalidated by subsequent counter-studies), but that means that this discovery and the new name of [the] species are officially existing.

((WN)) Are there any further plans on exploring the species habitat and lifestyle?

AM: No, not really for the time being, because ecology is not our field of expertise. But other studies (including molecular studies) are currently in progress, in order to focus on the phylogenetic position and the evolution of this species.

US bank Goldman Sachs accused of fraud

Saturday, April 17, 2010

US bank Goldman Sachs has been accused of fraud by the American regulator Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Goldman Sachs arranged a transaction at Paulson’s request in which Paulson heavily influenced the selection of the portfolio to suit its economic interests

According to the SEC, Goldman Sachs failed to inform investors of a conflict of interest in the banks’ marketing of sub-prime mortgage investments, which were being sold at a time of uncertainty in the US housing market. The SEC says that a Goldman subsidiary, Paulson & Co, had been involved in the selection of securities included in the mortgage investments. It had not been disclosed to investors that Paulson had bet that the value of the investments would fall, benefiting Paulson but not those who bought the investments.

The securities, which were combined into a package called Abacus that was sold to investors, lost over $1 billion during the collapse of the US housing industry. According to the SEC, Goldman, Paulson, and the creator of Abacus, a vice-president of Goldman Sachs named Fabrice Tourre, all knew that the housing market was going to collapse, but continued to sell Abacus despite the risks.

Tourre had been in command of selecting the investments within Abacus, and then was the person responsible for selling it to investors. He had told those who invested in Abacus that its components had been selected by an independent party, ACA Management.

In all, 99% of the investments within Abacus were downgraded, and investors lost upwards of a billion US dollars.

The SEC alleged that “Goldman Sachs arranged a transaction at Paulson’s request in which Paulson heavily influenced the selection of the portfolio to suit its economic interests.” In a short response from Goldman, the bank said that “The SEC’s charges are completely unfounded in law and fact and we will vigorously contest them and defend the firm and its reputation.”

P&G to acquire Gillette for US$57 billion

Friday, January 28, 2005

New York –American manufacturing giant Proctor & Gamble (P&G) plans to acquire Gillette Co. for US$57 billion in stock. The purchase plan calls for P&G to swap 0.975 shares of its stock per share of Gillete Co. P&G also announced a stock buyback program in which they would purchase up to US$22 billion of shares over the next 18 months. Including the stock buyback program, the merger is being financed by 60 percent stock and 40 percent cash.

P&G is known for brands such as Ariel and Tide washing powder, Max Factor cosmetics, Pringles potato crisps (chips) and Hugo Boss and Lacoste perfumes.

Gillette, known for brands such as Gillette razors, Oral B dental care, and Duracell batteries, has had growing problems with the growth of private labels and price cuts demanded by large supermarkets.

After the acquisition is completed, Gillette’s CEO James Kilts will be P&G’s vice-chairman. Kilts said that he expects that this acquisition will cause additional mergers to take place.

“I believe the consumer product industry needs to consolidate,” said Kilts, “we believe we can bring these companies together and create a juggernaut.”

P&G and Gillette have a combined market capitalization of about $185 billion US, which will make it the largest in the sector.

The early morning announcement states that 6,000 employees will be eliminated. Most of the layoffs will result from reducing overlapping management positions and other supporting positions within the combined company.

Antitrust regulators in the US and Europe plan to review the acquisition, to determine whether the combined company will have too much power over pricing and shelf space.

P&G plans to provide additional details about the merger Friday morning (East Coast time) in New York.

New Zealand study finds circumcision cuts STD infection rate

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

A new study released by Christchurch researcher from the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, David Fergusson, shows that “substantional benefits” come from a circumcision, a baby boy having his foreskin removed.

Mr Fergusson said that the rate of sexually transmitted diseases is halved due to circumcision, even after accounting for the amount of sex partners, unprotected sex and their family background. “Circumcision also reduces the risk of transmitting HIV and the incidence of urinary tract infections.”

The report, which was published in the international scientific journal Pediatrics, took 25-years to complete as it followed 510 males from birth until they were 25-years-old.

“The public health issues raised by these findings clearly involve weighing the longer-term benefits of routine neonatal circumcision in terms of reducing risks of infection within the population, against the perceived costs of the procedure,” Mr Fergusson said.

However the American Academy of Pediatrics has described the current study as “complex and conflicting.” The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the practice, which is why in the US the circumcision rate has been falling since 1999.

In New Zealand, only between ten and twenty percent of all males are circumcised, which is one of the lowest rates in the world. Circumcision is the normal practice in Samoa and Tonga and also among Jewish and Muslim men.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians said in 2004, “There is no medical reason for routine circumcision of newborn boys.”

The current study has made some health specialists reconsider their stance on the issue. “People feel passionate on both sides, but I’m going to recommend that we take another careful look at this,” said Jay Berkelhamer, US Academy of Pediatrics president and professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida.

Edgar Schoen, who has reconsidered his stance on the issue, he said: “The academy’s opposition is irresponsible. The benefits of circumcision far outweigh risks, and doctors should be telling parents that.”

“Even if it does bring down sexually transmitted disease, cutting normal tissue of an unconsenting minor is a human rights violation,” said Marilyn Milos, from anti-circumcision group, National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC).

Australian refugee contractor accused of breaching its duty of care

Friday, December 30, 2005

Contents

  • 1 Richard Niyonsaba
  • 2 Denial of food
  • 3 Background and Criticisms
  • 4 Sources

The Australian Centre for Languages, a company which has a multi-million dollar contract with the Australian government to provide refugee services, has been accused of breaching its duty of care following the death of a chronically ill child and allegations of failing to provide three women in their care with food.