News briefs:August 02, 2010

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Two nuclear submarines collide in the Atlantic Ocean

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Nuclear ballistic missile submarines Triomphant, from France, and HMS Vanguard, of the British Royal Navy, collided deep under the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of the night between February 3 and 4, despite both vessels being equipped with sonar. The collision caused damage to both vessels but it did not release any radioactive material, a Ministry of Defence (MOD) official confirmed Monday.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said nuclear security had not been breached. “It is MOD policy not to comment on submarine operational matters, but we can confirm that the U.K.’s deterrent capability was unaffected at all times and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety. Triomphant had struck ‘a submerged object (probably a container)’ during a return from a patrol, damaging the sonar dome on the front of the submarine,” he said.

A French navy spokesman said that “the collision did not result in injuries among the crew and did not jeopardise nuclear security at any moment.” Lack of communication between France and other members of NATO over the location of their SLBM deterrents is believed to be another reason for the crash.

According to Daily Mail, the vessels collided 1,000ft underwater in the Bay of Biscay (Golfe de Gascogne; Golfo de Vizcaya and Mar Cantábrico), a gulf of the North Atlantic Ocean. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Punta de Estaca de Bares, and is named for the Spanish province of Biscay, with average depth of 5,723 feet (1,744 m) and maximum depth is 9,151 feet (2,789 m).

Each submarine is laden with missiles powerful enough for 1,248 Hiroshima bombings, The Independent said.

It is unlikely either vessel was operating its active sonar at the time of the collision, because the submarines are designed to “hide” while on patrol and the use of active sonar would immediately reveal the boat’s location. Both submarines’ hulls are covered with anechoic tile to reduce detection by sonar, so the boats’ navigational passive sonar would not have detected the presence of the other.

Lee Willett of London’s Royal United Services Institute said “the NATO allies would be very reluctant to share information on nuclear submarines. These are the strategic crown jewels of the nation. The whole purpose of a sea-based nuclear deterrent is to hide somewhere far out of sight. They are the ultimate tools of national survival in the event of war. Therefore, it’s the very last thing you would share with anybody.”

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB, ADC of the United Kingdom, the most senior serving officer in the Royal Navy, said that “…the submarines came into contact at very low speed. Both submarines remained safe. No injuries occurred. We can confirm the capability remains unaffected and there was no compromise to nuclear safety.”

“Both navies want quiet areas, deep areas, roughly the same distance from their home ports. So you find these station grounds have got quite a few submarines, not only French and Royal Navy but also from Russia and the United States. Navies often used the same nesting grounds,” said John H. Large, an independent nuclear engineer and analyst primarily known for his work in assessing and reporting upon nuclear safety and nuclear related accidents and incidents.

President of the Royal Naval Association John McAnally said that the incident was a “one in a million chance”. “It would be very unusual on deterrent patrol to use active sonar because that would expose the submarine to detection. They are, of course, designed to be very difficult to detect and one of the priorities for both the captain and the deterrent patrol is to avoid detection by anything,” he said.

The development of stealth technology, making the submarines less visible to other vessels has properly explained that a submarine does not seem to have been able to pick out another submarine nearly the length of two football pitches and the height of a three-story building.

“The modus operandi of most submarines, particularly ballistic-missile submarines, is to operate stealthily and to proceed undetected. This means operating passively, by not transmitting on sonar, and making as little noise as possible. A great deal of technical effort has gone into making submarines quiet by reduction of machinery noise. And much effort has gone into improving the capability of sonars to detect other submarines; detection was clearly made too late or not at all in this case,” explained Stephen Saunders, the editor of Jane’s Fighting Ships, an annual reference book (also published online, on CD and microfiche) of information on all the world’s warships arranged by nation, including information on ship’s names, dimensions, armaments, silhouettes and photographs, etc.

According to Bob Ayres, a former CIA and US army officer, and former associate fellow at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, however, the submarines were not undetectable, despite their “stealth” technology. “When such submarines came across similar vessels from other navies, they sought to get as close as possible without being detected, as part of routine training. They were playing games with each other – stalking each other under the sea. They were practising being able to kill the other guy’s submarine before he could launch a missile.Because of the sound of their nuclear reactors’ water pumps, they were still noisier than old diesel-electric craft, which ran on batteries while submerged. The greatest danger in a collision was the hull being punctured and the vessel sinking, rather than a nuclear explosion,” Ayres explained.

Submarine collisions are uncommon, but not unheard of: in 1992, the USS Baton Rouge, a submarine belonging to the United States, under command of Gordon Kremer, collided with the Russian Sierra-class attack submarine K-276 that was surfacing in the Barents Sea.

In 2001, the US submarine USS Greeneville surfaced and collided with Japanese fishing training ship Ehime Maru (????), off the coast of Hawaii. The Navy determined the commanding officer of Greeneville to be in “dereliction of duty.”

The tenth HMS Vanguard (S28) of the British Royal Navy is the lead boat of her class of Trident ballistic missile-capable submarines and is based at HMNB Clyde, Faslane. The 150m long, V-class submarine under the Trident programme, has a crew of 135, weighs nearly 16,000 tonnes and is armed with 16 Trident 2 D5 ballistic missiles carrying three warheads each.

It is now believed to have been towed Monday to its naval base Faslane in the Firth of Clyde, with dents and scrapes to its hull. Faslane lies on the eastern shore of Gare Loch in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, to the north of the Firth of Clyde and 25 miles west of the city of Glasgow.

Vanguard is one of the deadliest vessels on the planet. It was built at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd (now BAE Systems Submarine Solutions), was launched on 4 March, 1992, and commissioned on 14 August, 1993. The submarine’s first captain was Captain David Russell. In February 2002, Vanguard began a two-year refit at HMNB Devonport. The refit was completed in June 2004 and in October 2005 Vanguard completed her return to service trials (Demonstration and Shakedown Operations) with the firing of an unarmed Trident missile.

“The Vanguard has two periscopes, a CK51 search model and a CH91 attack model, both of which have a TV camera and thermal imager as well as conventional optics,” said John E. Pike, director and a national security analyst for http://www.globalsecurity.org/, an easily accessible pundit, and active in opposing the SDI, and ITAR, and consulting on NEO’s.File:Triomphant img 0394.jpg

“But the periscopes are useless at that depth. It’s pitch black after a couple of hundred feet. In the movies like ‘Hunt for Red October,’ you can see the subs in the water, but in reality it’s blindman’s bluff down there. The crash could have been a coincidence — some people win the lottery — but it’s much more possible that one vessel was chasing the other, trying to figure out what it was,” Pike explained.

Captain of HMS Vanguard, Commander Richard Lindsey said his men would not be there if they couldn’t go through with it. “I’m sure that if somebody was on board who did not want to be here, they would have followed a process of leaving the submarine service or finding something else to do in the Navy,” he noted.

The Triomphant is a strategic nuclear submarine, lead ship of her class (SNLE-NG). It was laid down on June 9, 1989, launched on March 26, 1994 and commissioned on March 21, 1997 with homeport at Île Longue. Equipped with 16 M45 ballistic missiles with six warheads each, it has 130 crew on board. It was completing a 70-day tour of duty at the time of the underwater crash. Its fibreglass sonar dome was damaged requiring three or four months in Drydock repair. “It has returned to its base on L’Ile Longue in Brittany on Saturday under its own power, escorted as usual by a frigate,” the ministry said.

A Ballistic missile submarine is a submarine equipped to launch ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Ballistic missile submarines are larger than any other type of submarine, in order to accommodate SLBMs such as the Russian R-29 or the American Trident.

The Triomphant class of strategic missile submarines of the French Navy are currently being introduced into service to provide the sea based component (the Force Océanique Stratégique) of the French nuclear deterrent or Force de frappe, with the M45 SLBM. They are replacing the Redoutable-class boats. In French, they are called Sous-Marin Nucléaire Lanceur d’Engins de Nouvelle Génération (“SNLE-NG, literally “Device-launching nuclear submarine of the new generation”).

They are roughly one thousand times quieter than the Redoutable-class vessels, and ten times more sensitive in detecting other submarines [1]. They are designed to carry the M51 nuclear missile, which should enter active service around 2010.

Repairs for both heavily scraped and dented, missile-laden vessels were “conservatively” estimated to cost as much as €55m, with intricate missile guidance systems and navigation controls having to be replaced, and would be met by the French and British taxpayer, the Irish Independent reported.

Many observers are shocked by the deep sea disaster, as well as the amount of time it took for the news to reach the public. ”Two US and five Soviet submarine accidents in the past prove that the reactor protection system makes an explosion avoidable. But if the collision had been more powerful the submarines could have sunk very quickly and the fate of the 250 crew members would have been very serious indeed,” said Andrey Frolov, from Moscow’s Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

“I think this accident will force countries that possess nuclear submarines to sit down at the negotiating table and devise safety precautions that might avert such accidents in the future… But because submarines must be concealed and invisible, safety and navigation laws are hard to define,” Frolov said, noting further that there are no safety standards for submarines.

The unthinkable disaster – in the Atlantic’s 41 million square miles – has raised concern among nuclear activists. “This is a nuclear nightmare of the highest order. The collision of two submarines, both with nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons onboard, could have released vast amounts of radiation and scattered scores of nuclear warheads across the seabed,” said Kate Hudson, chair of Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

“This is the most severe incident involving a nuclear submarine since the Russian submarine RFS Kursk K-141 explosion and sinking in 2000 and the first time since the Cold War that two nuclear-armed subs are known to have collided. Gordon Brown should seize this opportunity to end continuous patrols,” Hudson added. Despite a rescue attempt by British and Norwegian teams, all 118 sailors and officers aboard Kursk died.

“This reminds us that we could have a new catastrophe with a nuclear submarine at any moment. It is a risk that exists during missions but also in port. These are mobile nuclear reactors,” said Stephane Lhomme, a spokesman for the French anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucleaire.

Nicholas Barton “Nick” Harvey, British Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for North Devon has called for an immediate internal probe. “While the British nuclear fleet has a good safety record, if there were ever to be a bang it would be a mighty big one. Now that this incident is public knowledge, the people of Britain, France and the rest of the world need to be reassured this can never happen again and that lessons are being learned,” he said.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP for Moray has demanded for a government statement. “The Ministry of Defence needs to explain how it is possible for a submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction to collide with another submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction in the middle of the world’s second-largest ocean,” he said.

Michael Thomas Hancock, CBE, a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and a City councillor for Fratton ward, and who sits on the Commons defence committee, has called on the Ministry of Defence Secretary of State John Hutton to make a statement when parliament sits next week.

“While I appreciate there are sensitive issues involved here, it is important that this is subject to parliamentary scrutiny. It’s fairly unbelievable that this has happened in the first place but we now need to know that lessons have been learnt. We need to know for everyone’s sakes that everything possible is now done to ensure that there is not a repeat of the incident. There are serious issues as to how some of the most sophisticated naval vessels in the seas today can collide in this way,” Mr. Hancock said.

Tory defence spokesman Liam Fox, a British Conservative politician, currently Shadow Defence Secretary and Member of Parliament for Woodspring, said: “For two submarines to collide while apparently unaware of each other’s presence is extremely worrying.”

Meanwhile, Hervé Morin, the French Minister of Defence, has denied allegations the nuclear submarines, which are hard to detect, had been shadowing each other deliberately when they collided, saying their mission was to sit at the bottom of the sea and act as a nuclear deterrent.

“There’s no story to this — the British aren’t hunting French submarines, and the French submarines don’t hunt British submarines. We face an extremely simple technological problem, which is that these submarines are not detectable. They make less noise than a shrimp. Between France and Britain, there are things we can do together….one of the solutions would be to think about the patrol zones,” Morin noted, and further denying any attempt at a cover-up.

France’s Atlantic coast is known as a submarine graveyard because of the number of German U-boats and underwater craft sunk there during the Second World War.

South Korean police battle striking workers

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Police raided the SsangYong Motor Company‘s plant in South Korea today, in order to evict workers who have been occupying the plant since May in protest of proposed layoffs. Most of the workers were those who were previously fired for opposing layoffs.

100–400 police officers raided the auto plant south of Seoul at around 10:00 a.m. (local time). Police intended to evict some 600 striking workers who, according to a union representing the workers, “will fight to the death should police forcefully break up the occupation.” Workers at the plant are resisting police by attacking them with slingshots, metal pipes and molotov cocktails.

During the raid, two unnamed workers fell from the four story building while trying to stop the police from landing onto the roof from cargo containers dropped by helicopter. Both sustained injuries, with one in critical condition from the amount of blood he lost.

SsangYong Motor Company has been in court-approved bankruptcy since February and is planning on laying off a third of its workforce to stay in business. However, workers say the company should provide a better proposal regarding the layoffs as well as a more reasonable compensation package for workers being laid off. The situation has caused the company to lose more than US$184 million in output.

BBC to cut Electric Proms for financial reasons

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

File:Bbcr2electricpromslogo.jpg

The BBC have announced they are to axe annual music festival Electric Proms from their schedule for financial reasons. The festival first took place in October 2006. The 2011 event will not go ahead, with last year’s festival being the last.

Bob Shennan, controller of BBC Radio 2, said he was “disappointed” with the decision to cancel the festival. He said “In the current climate, we are faced with making difficult decisions, including how best to deliver high-quality live music programming throughout the year in light of continuing efficiency savings. I feel that Radio 2 can achieve the same impact of the Electric Proms in an alternative, more cost-effective way. I’m disappointed that the lifetime of Electric Proms has come to an end, but very proud of its fantastically rewarding run of creating new moments in music for the past five years.”

During the festival’s five year run it has featured performances from stars such as Elton John, Neil Diamond, and Shirley Bassey.

The decision to axe the festival comes at a time when the BBC are planning a 20% savings cut. Last week BBC director general Mark Thompson announced 650 job losses after dropping five languages from the BBC World Service.

Australian government announces $52.5 million financial assistance package for Ford

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Friday, May 5, 2006

Australian Prime Minister John Howard and federal industry minister Ian MacDonald today announced that the federal government would be providing Ford Australia with a AU$52.5 million (US$40.4 million) “financial assistance package”. Additional assistance will also be provided by the Victorian state government.

According to Mr Howard, the injection will secure Ford’s manufacturing operations in Australia “for the long term”.

From the package, AU$40 million will be used for the design and manufacture of Ford’s next model Falcon and Territory vehicles, which will be built in Australia.

Despite being given a major facelift in 2002 and another in 2005, the Falcon’s bodyshell dates back to 1998. The current Falcon will need to serve the company until at least 2007 when the new model is anticipated. In the meantime, it will face stiff competition from the completely new Holden Commodore (the Falcon’s major competitor) which will be released in the second half of this year.

The additional AU$12.5 million will be spent on the development of a light commercial vehicle platform, which will be built overseas and marketed to around 80 countries. Mr Howard said that the light commercial project would involve construction of a research and development centre, which will become the base for R&D projects in the region.

Mr MacFarlane said that the research facility was exciting for Australia and that it would put the Australian automotive in the spotlight.

“The funding has helped Ford Australia secure the largest automotive R&D project ever undertaken in Australia which is equally exciting news for local Ford employees and Australian component producers” he said.

“The project will see Ford Australia become a centre for automotive design and engineering excellence in the Asia Pacific region which will bring spin-off benefits for the broader industry,”

“This opportunity will put both Ford Australia, and the Australian automotive and components sectors on the world map as far as our automotive design and engineering capabilities are concerned.” Mr MacFarlane said.

Mr Howard claims that the projects will create 273 jobs and secure the future of the “iconic” Ford Falcon, which has been built in Australia since 1960.

The financial package is conditional upon Ford Australia giving the Australian automotive component industry an opportunity to supply components for the vehicles produced by the two projects.

Obama succeeds Bush as 44th president of the United States

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today, the official ceremony ushering in Barack H. Obama II as the new president of the United States took place at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. A 21-gun salute, as well as the playing of four ruffles and flourishes and “Hail to the Chief”, marked the moment he assumed power from his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Bush’s second term as President of the United States, which began on January 20, 2005, expired with the swearing-in of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, at noon EST (UTC-5), under the provisions of the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Bush performed his final official act this morning, welcoming Barack Obama and Michelle to the White House for coffee before the swearing-in, shortly before 10am EST, and then accompanied them there by motorcade to attend the ceremony. Last week, Bush had made his farewells to the nation in a televised address, saying that the inauguration turns a page in race relations. “Obama’s story — his black father was from Kenya, his white mother from Kansas — represents “the enduring promise of our land,” said Bush.

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday called on Obama to seek “understanding, co-operation and peace” among nations. “I offer cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities,” the Pontiff said.

The National Mall gates at the inaugural ceremony opened early, with official introductions beginning around 11:30am EST. On the west front lawn of the U.S. Capitol, Senator Dianne Feinstein provided the call to order and welcoming remarks, shortly after followed by invocation by the Rev. Rick Warren and a musical performance by Aretha Franklin.

Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr., a Democrat, who was elected Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, took his oath of office, succeeding Dick Cheney. Biden took his oath at 11:57am EST from Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Glover Roberts, Jr. then administered the oath of office to Obama, under Article II, Section 1, Clause 8. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God,” Obama swore, using the 1861 President Lincoln Inaugural Bible.

First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama and daughters Malia Ann and Sasha, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were among the record-setting crowd of over 2 million people, including more than a million people that filled the National Mall. Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in a wheelchair, having pulled a muscle in his back while moving, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Obama has decided to follow tradition and use his full name, including his middle name Hussein, regardless of its past and present use by detractors as an effort to slander his image. The advanced scheduled program stated that the inaugural address was to be delivered by “the President of the United States, The Honorable Barack H. Obama.”

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

The President delivered his inaugural address in front of Capitol Hill with the theme “A New Birth of Freedom,” commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, said Feinstein.

Obama focused on the restoration of public confidence and personal “responsibility,” reassuring recession-weary Americans they can rebound from hard times. He conveyed to the world his desire to fix a battered U.S. image overseas. He asked the nation to reject the “culture of anything goes” and to restore a national value system that honors responsibility and accountability. Elizabeth Alexander recited a poem, followed by the benediction by Rev. Joseph E. Lowery. The National Anthem was thereafter played by The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters.”

Over 200 million viewers worldwide had watched inauguration videos and live streams provided online by a number of news organizations and online video broadcasting companies over the internet. The event was also available live to select iPhone users.

Following his speech, President Obama escorted former President George W. Bush at 12:53pm EST as they left for a departure ceremony. Bush lifted off, ending his 8 years as president, with Obama waving goodbye from the courtyard of the US Capitol.

At 2:35pm EST in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, at the inaugural luncheon attended by Obama, it is reported that Ted Kennedy had a stroke. Paramedics arrived and took the senator to a hospital.

A parade extended for over two hours in the afternoon. It included 15,000 people, 240 horses, dozens of marching bands, two drum and bugle corps, and one mariachi band from Espanola, New Mexico.

Just after 4pm EST, Obama and his wife joined the celebrating crowds on Pennsylvania Avenue. After a short time waving to the masses, they returned to the Presidential Limousine, a 2009 Cadillac, which transported them to the White House. The First Limo has replaced President Bush’s Cadillac DTS Presidential Limousine that rolled out in 2004.

Mr and Mrs Obama plan to attend a total of ten official inaugural balls, including the Neighbourhood Ball, the Obama Home States (Illinois and Hawaii) Ball, the Biden Home States (Pennsylvania and Delaware) Ball and the Youth Ball. American R&B singer-songwriter Beyoncé has been planned to perform the first dance song. The Obamas will return to the White House, their new home, following the last ball.

Market maker Bernard L. Madoff arrested in $50B ‘giant Ponzi scheme’

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 Correction — January 10, 2009 This article incorrectly states that Mr Madoff attended Hofstra University Law School. His education was actually with Hofstra College, which he graduated from in 1960. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top broker and Wall Street adviser Bernard L. Madoff, aged 70, was arrested and charged by the FBI on Thursday with a single count of securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud. He allegedly told senior employees of his firm on Wednesday that his $50 billion business “is all just one big lie” and that it was “basically, a giant Ponzi scheme (since at least 2005).” Mr. Madoff faces up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5 million. FBI agent Theodore Cacioppi said Mr. Madoff’s investment advisory business had “deceived investors by operating a securities business in which he traded and lost investor money, and then paid certain investors purported returns on investment with the principal received from other, different investors, which resulted in investors’ losses of approximately $50 billion dollars.”

The former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market is also the founder and primary owner of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, the closely-held market-making firm he launched in 1960. The firm is one of the top market maker firms on Wall Street. He founded his family firm with an initial investment of $5,000, after attending Hofstra University Law School. He saved the money earned from a job lifeguarding at Rockaway Beach in Queens and a part time job installing underground sprinkler systems.

A force in Wall Street trading for nearly 50 years, he has been active in the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), a self-regulatory organization for the U.S. securities industry. His firm was one of the five most active firms in the development of the NASDAQ, having been known for “paying for order flow,” in other word paying a broker to execute a customer’s order through Madoff. He argued that the payment to the broker did not alter the price that the customer received. He ran the investment advisory as a secretive business, however.

Dan Horwitz, counsel of Mr. Madoff, in an interview, said that “he is a longstanding leader in the financial-services industry with an unblemished record; he is a person of integrity; he intends to fight to get through this unfortunate event.” Mr. Madoff was released on his own recognizance on the same day of his arrest, after his 2 sons turned him in, and posting $10 million bail secured by his Manhattan apartment. Without entering any plea, the Court set the preliminary hearing for January 12.

Madoff’s hedge fund scheme may rank among the biggest fraud in history. When former energy trading giant Enron filed for bankruptcy in 2001, one of the largest at the time, it had $63.4 billion in assets. The scheme would dwarf past Ponzis, and it would further be nearly five times the telecommunication company WorldCom fraud and bankruptcy proceedings in 2002.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a separate civil suit on Thursday against Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities and its eponymous founder Mr. Madoff. It was docketed as “U.S. v. Madoff,” 08-MAG-02735, by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan). SEC, New York associate director of enforcement, Andrew M. Calamari, asked the judge to issue seizure orders on the firm and its assets, and appoint a receiver. The SEC pleads, among others, that “it was an ongoing $50 billion swindle; our complaint alleges a stunning fraud that appears to be of epic proportions.” It further accused the defendant of “paying returns to certain investors out of the principal received from other, different investors” for years. Madoff’s hedge fund business had previously claimed to have served between 11 and 25 clients and had $17.1 billion in assets under management. But virtually all of the assets were missing.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Louis L. Stanton on Thursday appointed Lee Richards, a Manhattan lawyer, as the firm’s receiver. A hearing is set for Friday, for a ruling on the SEC’s petition to grant plenary powers to the receiver over the entire firm, and an absolute asset sequestration.

Doug Kass, president of hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management said that “this is a major blow to confidence that is already shattered — anyone on the fence will probably try to take their money out.”

On the campaign trail, July 2012

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

The following is the ninth in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the rules of third party candidate polling are examined, a third party activist causes four other parties to lose their place on the Illinois presidential ballot, and the new vice presidential nominee of the Justice Party speaks with Wikinews.

Contents

  • 1 Summary
  • 2 Polling rules restrict and fuel third party campaigns
  • 3 Ballot access denied in Illinois
  • 4 Wikinews interviews newly-selected Justice Party VP nominee
  • 5 Related news
  • 6 Sources

New fossils from 10 million year old ape found in Ethiopia

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Researchers say that new, ten million-year-old fossils found in Ethiopia, prove that the theory that humans may have evolved from a species of great apes eight million years ago, may not be true, but that humans may have split from apes as long as 10.5 million years ago.

At least nine fossilized teeth, one canine tooth and eight molars, of a previously unknown species of apes found in Africa were discovered by a team of researchers from Ethiopia and Japan who then compared the 3-D make up of the teeth to other fossils that date back as far as 8 million years and found that the fossils are likely a “direct ancestor” of apes currently living in Africa and that the new ape fossils were that of a species of gorilla who ate mostly plants high in fiber.

Current fossils and research say that the evolutionary split from apes to humans occurred at least eight million years ago. The new fossils say that the split may have happened as long as 10.5 million years ago.

“Based on this fossil, that means the split is much earlier than has been anticipated by the molecular evidence. That means everything has to be put back,” said researcher at the Rift Valley Research Service in Ethiopia and a co-author of the study, Berhane Asfaw.

Despite the finds, other researchers are not convinced that the findings are correct.

“It is stretching the evidence to base a time scale for the evolution of the great apes on this new fossil. These structures appear on at least three independent lineages of apes, including gorillas, and they could relate to a dietary shift rather than indicating a new genetic trait,” said a Professor at the London Natural History Museum in the United Kingdom, Peter Andrews who also added, “but the fossil evidence for the evolution of our closest living relatives, the great apes, is almost non-existent.

Researchers have named the newly discovered species Cororapithecus abyssinicus whose remains were found in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, the same place where the remains of Lucy were discovered in 1974.

Eurovision ’82 winner Nicole talks about ‘Ein bißchen Frieden’, her success and the Contest today

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Monday, February 2, 2009

It has been nearly 27 years since Nicole, then a high school student from the Saarland in extreme western Germany, sang a heartfelt plea for world peace on the stage at the Eurovision Song Contest held in Harrogate, North Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. That simple message was wrapped with success; she became the first German in Contest history to take home the grand prize. The song was a brainchild of her former record producer, Ralph Siegel, and would be their greatest achievement in their nearly three-decade partnership.

Afterward, she was propelled to stardom across Europe by recording versions of her winning song, “Ein bißchen Frieden” (A little peace), in many European languages. To this day, it was the last winning Eurovision song to top the charts in the United Kingdom; it also has the distinction of being the 500th #1 single on the British charts.

This newfound fame brought her music to audiences across Europe, and in time, into Asia as well. By the end of the 1980s, however, her fame subsided somewhat and she refocused her career domestically. Since 1980, she has released over 30 albums in Germany; her most recent offering, Mitten ins Herz (Right into your heart), was accompanied by a three-month “unplugged” tour that ended in the third week of January.

Now off the road, Nicole spoke with Wikinews’ Mike Halterman about her past success, her life and career today, and her overall impressions of the Eurovision Song Contest, both past and present. This is the first in a series of interviews with past Eurovision contestants, which will be published sporadically in the lead-up to mid-May’s next contest in Moscow.