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.

Second Arab-Israeli bulldozer attack in July 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sixteen were wounded, one seriously when a Palestinian rammed a backhoe loader into a bus followed by attacks on several other vehicles Tuesday afternoon in Jerusalem before he was shot dead by the security forces. This is the second such incident in Jerusalem in three weeks. A spokesman for the Israeli police said that a civilian shot the vehicle’s driver but the bulldozer was still running. A police patrol continued shooting until the driver died.

The bulldozer driver who was, according to witnesses, wearing a large white skullcap common to religious Muslims, first hit the No. 13 bus on its side and then chased it while raising the shovel of his front-end loader, the driver managed to make a right turn and get away from the bulldozer which then went on to zig zag across the street and hit further cars until it came to a stop following the driver being gunned down.

Today’s bulldozer attack is a reminder of what Israelis have courageously lived with on a daily basis for far too long.

Speaking in Amman, United States presidential candidate Barack Obama said: “Today’s bulldozer attack is a reminder of what Israelis have courageously lived with on a daily basis for far too long. I strongly condemn this attack and will always support Israel in confronting terrorism and pursuing lasting peace and security.”

After the attack, which follows a similar attack on July 2, and the indictment of six Israeli-Arabs from Jerusalem accused of belonging to a terrorist cell, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, said: “We should reconsider the employment of these people.”

GAO reveals $1.6 billion spent on public relations by the Bush administration in 2003-2005

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A new 154-page Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says seven federal departments together spent US$1.6 billion on 343 contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, and media organizations, as well as individuals involved in such activities.

Congressional Democrats requested the report after several incidents surfaced in which journalists or commentators were paid to promote the Bush administrations programs, but did not disclose the financing, so called payola. In one case, Armstrong Williams was paid $186,000 for promotions of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law. The administrations position was that an agencies’ mission includes spreading information about federal programs.

At that time, the GAO had independent objections to the ready-to-air news stories the administration’s provided to TV stations in order to promote it policies. The administration claimed the burden of disclosure falls to the TV stations.

Congress has now inserted a provision into an annual spending bill requiring federal agencies to include “a clear notification” within the text or audio of a prepackaged news story that it was prepared or paid for by the government.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said “Careful oversight of this spending is essential given the track record of the Bush administration, which has used taxpayer dollars to fund covert propaganda within the United States.”

The seven agencies covered by the report are Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs.

No prosecution for UK minor who called Scientology a ‘cult’

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of the government of the United Kingdom told the City of London Police on Friday that there will be no prosecution for a 15-year-old boy who called Scientology a “cult” at a May 10 peaceful protest. The City of London Police had previously confiscated the boy’s protest placard and gave him a court summons at the demonstration, which took place near St Paul’s Cathedral at the Church of Scientology‘s London headquarters on Queen Victoria Street. The boy’s poster read: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult”. The human rights organization Liberty has come out strongly against the City of London Police for their actions at the protest, and said they are pursuing an inquiry into the police force for what they say is a troubling freedom of speech issue.

Individuals from the group Anonymous have held monthly international protests against the Church of Scientology since February, as part of the anti-Scientology movement Project Chanology. The Project Chanology movement began when the Church of Scientology attempted to get a leaked Scientology promotional video featuring Tom Cruise removed from websites YouTube and Gawker.com.

Members of Anonymous were motivated by the actions of the Church of Scientology, and bombarded Scientology websites and were successful in taking some of them down. Anonymous later changed tactics towards legal measures, and held international protests against Scientology on February 10, March 15, April 12, and most recently May 10.

I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech.

City of London Police approached the 15-year-old boy at the May 10 protest and cited section five of the Public Order Act 1986, which deals with “harassment, alarm or distress“. In response, the boy cited a 1984 judgment given by Mr. Justice Latey in the Family Division of the High Court of Justice of Her Majesty’s Courts of Justice of England and Wales, in which Latey called Scientology a “cult” and said it was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”. In the actual 1984 judgment made by Judge Latey, he stated: “Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious. […] In my judgement it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. […] It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.” The boy told fellow protesters he was not going to take the sign down, saying: “If I don’t take the word ‘cult’ down, here [holding up his sign], I will be either, I think, most likely arrested or [given] a summons. I am going to fight this and not take it down because I believe in freedom of speech, besides which I’m only fifteen.”

… it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual.

When the boy refused to take his sign down, City of London Police removed it, cited him with a court summons and informed him that the matter would be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The boy was the only protester who did not comply with the police requests to remove signs which referred to Scientology as a “cult”. According to The Guardian, a CPS spokesman stated Friday that: “In consultation with the City of London police, we were asked whether the sign, which read ‘Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult’, was abusive or insulting. Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual.”

“The CPS review of the case includes advice on what action or behaviour at a demonstration might be considered to be threatening, abusive or insulting. The force’s policing of future demonstrations will reflect this advice,” said a spokeswoman for the City of London Police in a statement in The Guardian.

The 15-year-old boy’s mother called the CPS decision a “victory for free speech”, saying: “We’re all incredibly proud of him. We advised him to take the placard down when we realised what was happening but he said ‘No, it’s my opinion and I have a right to express it’.”

The incident has generated significant interest on the Internet, from civil rights groups and anti-cult groups, and in the press. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, and Ian Haworth of the United Kingdom-based Cult Information Centre were highly critical of the actions of the City of London Police. George Pitcher of The Daily Telegraph called the actions of the City of London Police “a mockery of the law”. Other publications also criticized the actions of the police, compared the boy to past civil rights protesters, and analyzed how the characterization of “cult” applied to Scientology. The Guardian reported that human rights activists “were outraged” when reports of the actions of the City of London Police at the protest surfaced this week. Marina Hyde wrote in a comment piece in The Guardian that the City of London Police should spend a little less time “reaching for the collar of free-speaking children”. An article in The Guardian about the boy’s court summons hit the front page of the website Slashdot on Wednesday, and an article about the statement by CPS hit the site’s front page on Friday. The anti-Scientology website Enturbulation.org devoted its front page to the incident on Saturday.

The police may have ended their inquiries into this tawdry incident but rest assured that Liberty’s inquiry will continue.

BBC News reported that attorneys for Liberty represented the 15-year-old boy to the CPS. In media statements Friday, Liberty said it would continue its inquiry into the actions of the City of London Police. “The police may have ended their inquiries into this tawdry incident but rest assured that Liberty’s inquiry will continue. Democracy is all about clashing ideas and the police should protect peaceful protest, not stifle it,” said James Welch, legal director at Liberty. “Reason has prevailed in the case of the anti-Scientology protester”, wrote Welch in a comment piece in The Observer. According to The Press Association, Liberty’s inquiry may result in actions taken against the City of London Police.

The City of London Police has faced controversy in the past for its close association with the Church of Scientology. When the City of London Scientology building opened in 2006, City of London Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley praised Scientology in an appearance as guest speaker at the building’s opening ceremony. Ken Stewart, another of the City of London’s chief superintendents, has also appeared in a video praising Scientology. According to The Guardian over 20 officers for the City of London Police have accepted gifts from the Church of Scientology including tickets to film premieres, lunches and concerts at police premises.

Unlike the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police Service (the territorial police force responsible for Greater London excluding the City of London) has not raised an issue with protesters using placards with similar wording at protests against Scientology, according to The Guardian and Londonist.

Each of the Project Chanology international protests against Scientology has had a theme: the February protest called attention to the birthday of Lisa McPherson, who died under controversial circumstances while under the care of Scientology, the March protest was arranged to take place two days after Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard‘s birthday, the April protest highlighted the Church of Scientology’s disconnection policy, and the May protest highlighted the Scientology practice of “Fair Game” and took place one day after the anniversary of the publication of Hubbard’s book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Another international protest is planned for June 14, and will highlight the Church of Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” or “Sea Org”.

 This story has updates See UK group Liberty, Edinburgh city council on Scientology ‘cult’ signs 

Iraq, Syria, Iran form friendly relations

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

24 years ago Iraq and Syria severed diplomatic relations because Syria accused Iraq of giving support to the Muslim Brotherhood who were causing disorder in Syria. Now, as an outcome of meetings between Walid Moallem the Syrian Foreign Minister, the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, relations will be restored.

Both countries are agreed that the borders between them should be sealed more tightly to prevent the flow of fighters, arms and ammunition to Iraq, Syria saying that Iraq should do more to secure the border than it has been doing lately.

The two countries are agreed that US troops are needed in Iraq at present but that they should leave as soon as they are no longer needed. Syria wants a timetable for the progressive withdrawal of US forces.

The steps needed to establish full diplomatic relations and to open embassies in Baghdad and Damascus are set out in an agreement signed today in Baghdad. Zebari proclaimed “We will hoist the Iraqi flag in Syria and the Syrian flag in Iraq”.

Meanwhile, President Talabani has agreed to meet Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Saturday to discuss security matters.

Although the British Prime Minister has been encouraging more positive relations between Iraq and its neighbors, Syria and Iran, the United States has been critical of both of them. Last week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she was opposed to including Syria and Iran in talks about security in Iraq. She accused Syria of having aligned itself with “the forces of extremism” and expressed frustration that despite repeated talks with Syria, nothing seems to have influenced their behavior. Regarding Iran, she said she could see nothing in its behavior that suggested it could contribute to stability in the area. She expressed the view that Iraq must take more responsibility for its own security.

Today, the White House welcomed the news of the rapprochement between Syria and Iraq. The spokesman for the US National Security Council saying “We’ve always encouraged Iraq’s neighbors to take a role in supporting and assisting the unity government in Iraq”.

President Bush met the Iraq Study Group, headed by former secretary of state James Baker on Monday. The Democrats in the Group said that, in order to encourage the Iraqi government to face its responsibilities, there should be a phased withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, starting now. The President rejected this suggestion, remarking that this was a military matter and depended upon the situation on the ground.

Recommendations from the bi-partisan study Group are expected to be delivered to the President and Congress sometime in December this year. The group is composed of five Democrats and five Republicans.

CNN founder Ted Turner calls Fox News Bush’s propaganda machine

Friday, January 28, 2005Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, last Tuesday accused Fox News of being a propaganda mouthpiece for the Bush administration. He likened the network’s current popularity to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in pre-war Germany, and criticised the “dumbing down” of news which left the public uninformed of crucial issues.

Turner said, “Adolf Hitler was more popular in Germany in the early 1930s than people that were running against him.”

Fox News in turn accused CNN of simple sour grapes.

In a statement, the channel claimed that Ted was “understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network and now his mind – we wish him well.”

Turner resigned from his post as Vice President of AOL Time Warner in January 2003. He remains one of America’s largest private landowners, possessing approximately two million acres of land.

Fox News remains the highest rating 24-hour news channel on US cable – but has been highly criticised for its perceived right-wing bias.

Recent House Committee on Government Reform figures by the US Democrats show that the US Administration spent over $US88 million on public relations contracts in 2004, of which 41 per cent were awarded on a non-competitive basis.

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.

Services For Retirement Community Of Powell, Oh – Overview

bytimothyharvard

Retirees around Powell and other spots in the northern suburbs of Columbus need to be treated with the best care possible. This is especially the case for those who are not capable of handling certain functions on their own. A plan for a retirement community in Powell, OH caters to the many needs that seniors have. These include common needs involving personal care and services relating to the general living needs that someone has.

The problem with getting older is that it can be harder for any person to stay healthy or to stay mobile. The weakening of the body and the pains of arthritis can only make things worse. Therefore, a retirement community can assist residents with many daily personal care functions. Employees and professionals at a facility can help with bathing, dressing and feeding patients among many other services.

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Food preparation is also a feature of a retirement community in Powell, OH. Food preparation relates to getting meal plans ready for all of the residents based on their healthy needs. This can include working with diets for those with diabetes, high blood pressure and several other medical conditions. A typical plan involves three meals a day and some snacks on occasion.

Medication services are important for residents. Medications often have to be ordered, paid for, prepared and administered to individuals who need them. A retirement home should be capable of handling all the necessary parts of getting medications ready. The goal is to keep all residents comfortable as they are being treated with the right medications for whatever medical conditions need to be treated.

Housekeeping services are also available. A retirement community can not only handle a bed and other items in a spot but also laundry services. These services can work for both clothes and for bed linens. This is all required with both hygiene and comfort in mind. Clean linens and clothing are needed to help keep all residents at a retirement home healthy and safe.

Transportation services may be offered through a retirement home. Transportation is a necessity for several purposes. It can be used to transport residents to and from medical facilities for regular treatments. It can also bring residents to other homes with family members so they can visit once in a while. There are even cases where the transportation services are used to transport residents to a variety of special events in the Columbus area.

All of these services are available twenty-four hours a day. There are cases where emergencies may need to be met for when a person’s schedule might be different from what others have. A retirement home staff member should always be on call at any time of day to cater to the specific needs that a client might have for handling different functions.

These features are points that a retirement community in Powell, OH can handle. These features involve making sure that all residents are kept comfortable and that they are being treated with only the best services around. It is a necessity to see what is being used so a retired person can stay comfortable regardless of that person’s circumstances in daily life.

Retirement Community Powell, OHAbbington is a caring and supporting retirement community in northern Columbus that caters to the needs of seniors. Contact them online by visiting their website for information on what Abbington has: http://www.abbingtononline.com/.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

Irish inflation creeps upwards to 2.4%

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The inflation rate in Ireland, as measured by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), edged upwards to hit a five month high in May at 2.4%. This represents a 0.2% rise on the previous month when the rate stood at 2.2%.

The major contributors to the rise were increased transportation, healthcare, and education costs. In April the EU25 average rate of inflation was 2.1%, with Latvia having the highest rate at 7.1% and Sweden the lowest at 0.4%.

Despite the increase in the rate, Irish inflation remains very low – having hit 7% during 2000 and remaining around the 5% until the beginning of 2003. Another major factor easing any worries about the increase is Ireland’s very strong GDP growth – expected to be around 5.5% this year

On an annual basis the cost of footwear and clothing have fallen by 2.7% whilst energy costs have soared by 10.4%. The cost of food, furniture, and communications also fell over the last 12 months.

The Consumer Price Index is made up of over 55,000 prices consisting of 613 headings which cover over 1,000 different items.