Category:Iain Macdonald (Wikinewsie)/Aviation

Aviation articles by Wikinewsie Iain Macdonald.
  • Germany bans Mahan Air of Iran, citing ‘security’
  • Lion Air disaster: Crashed jet’s voice recorder recovered from Java Sea
  • Iranian cargo plane crashes into Karaj houses
  • Police warn new drone owners to obey law after disruption at UK’s Gatwick Airport
  • Rescue helicopter crash kills six in Abruzzo, Italy
  • UK Civil Aviation Authority issues update on Shoreham crash response
  • Nigerian jet attacks refugee camp, killing dozens
  • Fighter jet crashes during Children’s Day airshow in Thailand
  • Plane carrying 92 crashes into Black Sea near Sochi
  • Hijackers divert Libyan passenger jet to Malta
  • Pakistan International Airlines sacrifices goat, resumes ATR flights
  • Judge rules Air Canada Flight 624 victims can sue Transport Canada
  • PIA flight crashes near Havelian, Pakistan
  • Indonesian police plane crashes near Batam, fifteen missing
  • Investigators blame pilot error for AirAsia crash into Java Sea
  • New Polish government takes down findings on Russian air disaster
  • Pakistani female fighter pilot Marium Mukhtiar dies in jet crash
  • Investigators blame pilot error for deadly jet crash near Boston
  • Airshow collision kills one in Dittingen, Switzerland
  • Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Airshow in England
  • Planes carrying parachutists collide, crash in Slovakia
  • Indian army helicopter crash kills two in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Divers retrieve 100th corpse from Java Sea jet crash
  • Taipei plane crash toll reaches 40
  • AirAsia disaster: Bodies, wreckage found
  • AirAsia jet vanishes over Indonesia, 162 missing
  • Inquiry finds proper maintenance might have prevented 2009 North Sea helicopter disaster
  • Ryanair sue Associated Newspapers, Mirror Group
  • Ryanair sack, sue pilot over participation in safety documentary
  • Ryanair threaten legal action after documentary on fuel policy, safety
  • US Marine Corps blame deadly Morocco Osprey plane crash on pilots
  • Kenyan helicopter crash kills security minister
  • Indonesians retrieve missing recorder from crashed Russian jet
  • Report blames New Zealand skydive plane crash that killed nine on overloading
  • Russian passenger jet crashes on Indonesian demonstration flight
  • European Commission clears British Airways owner IAG to buy bmi from Lufthansa
  • US Air Force upgrades F-22 oxygen system after deadly crash
  • Cypriot court clears all of wrongdoing in Greek air disaster
  • Boeing rolls out first 787 Dreamliner to go into service
  • Air France, pilots union, victims group criticise transatlantic disaster probe
  • South Korean troops mistakenly attack passenger jet
  • 27 believed dead in Indonesian plane crash
  • Russian police say Moscow airport bomber identified
  • ‘Unacceptable’ and ‘without foundation’: Poland rejects Russian air crash report
  • Serb pilots defend colleague in Air India Express disaster
  • Investigation into US Airways river ditching in New York completed
  • Reports issued after jets collided twice in same spot at UK airport
  • Final report blames London passenger jet crash on ice
  • Concorde crash trial begins
  • Iranian air politician blames pilot error for yesterday’s jet crash
  • US charges homeless man after plane stolen and crashed in Maryland
  • German jet bound for US searched in Iceland after suitcase loaded without owner
  • Mexican helicopter crash leaves soldier dead
  • Indonesian court overturns Garuda pilot’s conviction over air disaster
  • Zimbabwean cargo plane crashes in Shanghai; three dead
  • Italian Air Force transport wreck kills five
  • UK lawyer comments on court case against Boeing over London jet crash
  • Victims of London jetliner crash sue Boeing
  • Family seeks prosecution over loss of UK Nimrod jet in Afghanistan
  • British Airways and Iberia agree to merge
  • At least nine missing after Russian military plane crashes into Pacific
  • Search continues for nine missing after midair collision off California
  • Russian military cargo jet crash kills eleven in Siberia
  • Nine missing after US Coast Guard plane and Navy helicopter collide
  • Jet flies 150 miles past destination in US; pilots say they were distracted
  • Airliner crash wounds four in Durban, South Africa
  • Cypriot court begins Greek air disaster trial
  • Japan blames design, maintenance for explosion on China Airlines jet
  • Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi released on compassionate grounds
  • Lockerbie bombing appeal dropped
  • Australian receives bravery award for rescues in Indonesian air disaster
  • Fighter jets collide, crash into houses near Moscow
  • Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi moves to drop Lockerbie bombing appeal
  • Iranian passenger jet’s wheel catches fire
  • Tourist plane crash in Papua New Guinea leaves thirteen dead
  • UK’s BAA forced to sell three airports
  • Scotland denies bail to terminally ill man convicted of Lockerbie bombing
  • Pilot error blamed for July crash of Aria Air Flight 1525 in Iran
  • Plane carrying sixteen people vanishes over Papua, Indonesia
  • Airbus offers funding to search for black boxes from Air France disaster
  • 20 years on: Sioux City, Iowa remembers crash landing that killed 111
  • Two separate fighter jet crashes kill two, injure two in Afghanistan
  • Helicopter crash kills sixteen at NATO base in Afghanistan
  • U.S. investigators probe in-flight hole in passenger jet
  • Four Indonesian airlines allowed back into Europe; Zambia, Kazakhstan banned
  • Brazil ceases hunt for bodies from Air France crash
  • Airliner catches fire at Indonesian airport
  • Garuda Indonesia increases flights, fleet; may buy rival
  • False dawn for Air France flight; debris not from crash, search continues
  • US investigators probe close call on North Carolina runway
  • Spanish general, two other officials jailed for false IDs after air disaster
  • Indonesian court jails Garuda pilot over air disaster
  • Pilots in 16-death crash jailed for praying instead of flying
  • New Zealand pilots receive bravery awards for foiling airliner hijack
  • US, UK investigators seek 777 engine redesign to stop repeat of London jet crash
  • Schiphol airliner crash blamed on altimeter failure, pilot error
  • Marine jet crash into San Diego house attributed to string of errors
  • Fatal US Army helicopter collision in Iraq blamed on enemy fire
  • Brazil’s Embraer plans to cut around 4,200 jobs
  • Virgin Atlantic jet fire investigation finds faulty wiring in A340 fleet
  • Six indicted over jet crash at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport
  • Man arrested in India after mid-air hijack threat on domestic flight
  • British Airways plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2050
  • US Airways jet recovered from Hudson River
  • Mount Everest plane crash blamed on pilot error
  • Cyprus charges five over 2005 air crash that killed 121
  • 20 years on: Lockerbie victims’ group head talks to Wikinews
  • US, UK investigators collaborating after US 777 incident similar to London crash
  • Brazil blames human error for 2006 midair airliner collision
  • NTSB continues investigation of near-collision in Pennsylvania, United States
  • Turbulence likely cause of Mexico jet crash that killed ministers
  • Bomb ruled out in Mexico plane crash that killed twelve
  • Afghan president Hamid Karzai opens new terminal at Kabul International Airport
  • Cyprus to charge five over 2005 plane crash that killed 121
  • India’s Jet Airways posts biggest quarterly loss in three years
  • Indian aviation sector hit by financial trouble; domestic traffic at five-year low
  • Spanish airline LTE suspends all flights
  • Spanair mechanics to be questioned under criminal suspicion over Flight 5022 crash
  • Oscar Diös tells Wikinews about his hostel within a Boeing 747
  • Preliminary report released on Spanair disaster that killed 154
  • Dozens injured by sudden change in altitude on Qantas jet
  • Soldier dies as military helicopters collide in Iraq
  • No evidence of engine fire at Aeroflot-Nord Flight 821 crash site
  • Indonesian parliament approves privatising of three major state firms
  • Controversy after leak of preliminary report into Spanair disaster
  • Researcher claims unmarked grave contains 1950 Lake Michigan plane crash victims
  • Interim report blames ice for British Airways 777 crash in London
  • Service held in Nova Scotia on tenth anniversary of Swissair crash that killed 229
  • UK government sued over deaths in 2006 Nimrod crash in Afghanistan
  • Four British Airways executives charged with price fixing
  • Unprecedented review to be held on Qantas after third emergency in two weeks
  • British Airways enters merger talks with Iberia
  • EU maintains ban on Indonesian airlines amid accusations of political motivation
  • US military confirms three deaths after B-52 crash off Guam
  • Garuda Indonesia Flight 200’s pilot’s trial to begin this week
  • One-Two-Go Airlines cease operating over fuel costs as legal action begins over September air disaster
  • Search underway after US B-52 bomber crashes off Guam’s coast
  • US FAA to make airliner fuel tank inertion mandatory over 1996 air disaster
  • Chanchangi Airlines 737 crashes on landing in Nigeria
  • British Airways give medals to Flight 38’s crew
  • Captain killed as DC-9 cargo jet crashes onto Mexican highway
  • Threat received before Boeing 767 fire at San Francisco
  • Honduran capital’s main airport reopens six weeks after jetliner crash
  • Death toll in Arizona helicopter collision at seven as only survivor dies
  • Continental Airlines to face charges over Air France Concorde disaster
  • Nine oil workers die as helicopter crashes in Siberia
  • Boeing 767 cargo plane seriously damaged by fire at San Francisco
  • Cargo plane crashes near Khartoum; at least four dead
  • Cargo plane crash in Sudan leaves seven dead with one survivor
  • Air safety group says airport was operating illegally without license when Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 crashed
  • Sudan Airways grounded
  • Peacekeeping helicopter crash kills four in Bosnia
  • Report finds LOT Airlines plane was lost over London due to pilot error
  • Indonesian police hand over Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 report to prosecutors
  • US B-2 bomber crash in Guam caused by moisture on sensors
  • Helicopter carrying quake survivors crashes in China
  • Silverjet ceases operations and enters administration
  • Nine killed as Russian cargo plane crashes in Siberia
  • Boeing 747 cargo plane breaks in two after failed takeoff at Brussels Airport
  • Boeing pushes back 737 replacement development
  • Israel scrambles fighters to intercept unresponsive aircraft carrying Tony Blair
  • Airliner hijacker found working for British Airways
  • Finnair negotiating possible partnership with major Indian airlines
  • Five of six accused over 9/11 to be tried; charges against ’20th hijacker’ dropped
  • British Airways Flight 38 suffered low fuel pressure; investigation continues
  • Ex-head of Qantas freight operations in US jailed for price fixing
  • Search for Brazilian plane with four UK passengers called off after seven days
  • Floating wreckage of Brazilian plane carrying four UK businessmen recovered
  • Rescuers hunt Brazilian plane carrying four UK passengers
  • Southern Sudan’s defence minister among those killed in major plane crash
  • Spectator killed and 10 injured in German airshow crash
  • 11 killed in Mexican military helicopter crash
  • Japan Airlines fined US$110 million for price fixing
  • Indonesia angered as nation’s airlines all remain banned in EU airspace
  • All confirmed dead on Kata Air An-32, Moldova asks for Russian investigatory help
  • Airbus parent EADS wins £13 billion UK RAF airtanker contract
  • Ryanair executives pay frozen over increased fuel prices
  • Final report blames instrument failure for Adam Air Flight 574 disaster
  • Israel to install missile defense systems on airliners
  • Pilot killed as Su-25 military jet explodes near Vladivostok
  • Indonesia grounds Adam Air; may be permanently shut down in three months
  • Adam Air hits severe financial problems; may be shut down in three weeks
  • Alitalia conditionally accepts joint bid by Air France and KLM
  • One year on: IFALPA’s representative to ICAO, pilot and lawyer on ongoing prosecution of Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot
  • Adam Air may be shut down after string of accidents
  • Five injured as Adam Air 737 overruns Batam island runway
  • Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent EADS defeat Boeing for $40 billion US airtanker contract
  • Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot forced to resign
  • Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot released on bail
  • Concern as Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot arrested and charged
  • No fatalities as Boeing 727 crash lands in Bolivia
  • British Airways Flight 38 investigation focuses on fuel system
  • 16-year-old arrested over alleged plot to hijack US airliner
  • Adam Aircraft suspends activities at Utah factory, lays off 300 workers amid financial difficulties
  • Plane crash kills ten in Angola
  • Delta Air Lines may enter merge talks with Northwest or United Airlines
  • Alaskan plane crash survivors say cargo door swung open
  • Six die in Alaskan plane crash
  • Transaven Airlines plane carrying up to 18 people still missing off Venezuelan coast
  • 2007 was particularly good year for aviation safety
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Canada’s Beaches—East York (Ward 32) city council candidates speak

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Beaches—East York (Ward 32). Four candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Donna Braniff, Alan Burke, Sandra Bussin (incumbent), William Gallos, John Greer, John Lewis, Erica Maier, Luca Mele, and Matt Williams.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

Contents

  • 1 Sandra Bussin (incumbent)
  • 2 William Gallos
  • 3 Erica Maier
  • 4 Luca Mele

Excessive surgeries swell Medicare costs in United States

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

At least 10% of the increase in Medicare expenditures since the mid-1990s is due to increased rates of one type of elective surgery, according to a recent study, and many of the patients may not need it. University of California, San Francisco found that only 44% of patients who undergo an elective cardiac surgery called angioplasty get the recommended test to determine whether the procedure is appropriate.

As a result, patients may be receiving a procedure that they either do not need or for which the risk outweighs the benefit. The operation opens partially clogged arteries in patients with heart disease and the annual rate of elective angioplasties has tripled in the United States during the last decade.

Angioplasties are currently being performed at a rate of over 800,000 per year in the U.S. The average cost was $44,110 per procedure in 2004. Since the operation tends to be performed on older Americans, Medicare covers most patients and compensates US$10,000 to $15,000 for each case.

Reuters reporter Julie Steenhuysen writes that angioplasty is “big business for medical device makers including Boston Scientific Corp, Medtronic Inc, Abbott Laboratories Inc and Johnson & Johnson”. Dr. Raymond Gibbons, a professor of medicine who specializes in cardiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, criticizes the current U.S. health care system for compensating doctors based upon procedures performed rather than for following recommended practices.

We didn’t expect to find 100 percent, but we expected a much higher percentage than 44

A stress test in which the patient walks on a treadmill is recommended to determine whether a partial obstruction impairs heart function. Although not all patients who need angioplasty are strong enough to undergo the stress test, UC San Francisco researchers were surprised that testing preceded so few of the surgeries.

Professor of medicine Dr. Rita F. Redberg told U.S. News and World Report, “We didn’t expect to find 100 percent, but we expected a much higher percentage than 44”. Dr. Redberg co-authored a report on the findings for the Journal of the American Medical Association this month.

Dr. Grace Lin, another co-author of the study, noted: “What really matters is whether or not that blockage is affecting blood flow to the heart. That is why the stress test is important.” Their research analyzed over 23,000 Medicare cases and over 1,600 commercial insurance cases.

American Heart Association president Timothy Gardner called the study “a good wake-up call” to remind medical doctors to make sure they do not perform unnecessary procedures. Dr. Gardner regards the study as evidence that many unnecessary angioplasties are being performed.

You can do a stress test every year to be sure things are normal. That is an important baseline that is being ignored all too frequently.

The study found great variation in the rate of stress testing. Geographic areas ranged from 22% to 76% with the highest rate of testing in the Northeastern and Midwestern states. Testing rates also varied by gender, with men more likely to receive a stress test than women, and by other factors including the age of the physician. Dr. Gibbons points to some of these variances as indications that some physicians may be performing angioplasties indiscriminately.

Not all physicians agree. Although the various types of stress testing usually cost a few hundred dollars instead of tens of thousands, the chief cardiologist at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Dr. Matthew Wolff notes that stress tests yield false negative results in about 10% of cases. In his opinion, doctors who rely on stress tests “are going to be missing people with severe disease.” Although he agrees that some angioplasties are unnecessary, he contends that the new study does not offer a solution to the dilemma.

The American College of Cardiology plans to release new guidelines soon to help doctors determine when a stress test is appropriate, yet the payment system lacks a financial incentive to abide by testing guidelines. Dr. Eric Topol of Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California noted the underuse of stress tests in a study of private insurance records 14 years ago. Dr. Topol agrees that testing guidelines “should be much more clear-cut”, and adds that stress tests ought to be performed annually. “You can do a stress test every year to be sure things are normal. That is an important baseline that is being ignored all too frequently.”

Cardiologist, Dr. Anthony DeFranco of Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, considers stress testing to be appropriate in at most 65% of cases, since a substantial minority of patients have other health problems that prevent them from undergoing the test.

Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

Schools benefit from new California budget

Saturday, July 1, 2006

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bipartisan state budget Friday that invests a record $55.1 billion in education – an increase of $3.1 billion this year and $8.3 billion over the last two years – and allocates $4.9 billion to create a budget reserve and to pay down the state’s debt early.

Schwarzenegger credited bipartisan cooperation in coming up with a budget he was willing to sign, and do it on time, a rarity in recent California politics.

“It’s amazing what can be accomplished when Democrats and Republicans work together in Sacramento,” said Schwarzenegger. “I want to thank the legislative leadership – Senators Don Perata and Dick Ackerman, Speaker Fabian Nunez and Assembly Republican Leader George Plescia – for all their hard work on the budget. We put politics aside and were driven by the overwhelming desire to do what’s best for the people of California.

“I am especially proud that the budget expands preschool, and returns art, music and physical education classes to our children,” he said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said he is pleased by the budget. “The budget passed by the Legislature brings welcome support to education in California, making good on past debts to our schools and investing in sorely needed classroom programs,” he said.

He had his own budget favorites: “I’m particularly pleased that the budget includes increased funding for school counselors, teacher professional development, programs targeted to helping students pass the high school exit exam, and expanded and improved student nutrition programs.

“While there are some priorities over which we may disagree, I applaud the Governor and the Legislature for a budget that makes education a top priority.”

Barbara E. Kerr, president of the 335,000-member California Teachers Association, also likes the direction of the new budget.“The timely approval of the new state budget is good news for our public schools and students,” she said. “School districts and teachers can now plan ahead. The nearly six percent cost-of-living-adjustment will allow local schools to restore funding to education programs that have been cut over the past few years and provide for salary increases.”

Still, Kerr, said, the budget doesn’t go far enough. “This budget is a down payment on the debt owed to our schools. Teachers will continue to work with the governor and the Legislature to ensure repayment of the $3 billion still owed to our schools under Proposition 98 and the lawsuit settlement agreement announced last month. That money will help our schools of greatest need reduce class sizes, improve teacher training and increase parental involvement.”

How the budget affects the New Haven Unified School District and James Logan High School, or the James Logan Courier, specifically is not yet clear.

State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who is running for governor against Schwarzenegger, liked the increased education funding, and praised his fellow Democrats in the legislature for that, but criticized the entire budget for being out of balance.

“On higher education, Democrats in the Legislature did the right thing, when the governor would not, and gained a $6 per unit rollback in community college fees,” he said in a statement. “That is a start. But the governor’s budget will still leave community college fees nearly double what they were just three years ago. And the budget will also leave untouched the fees at CSU and UC, which have increased by $2,000 and $5,000 respectively under Governor Schwarzenegger.”

Missing from the budget, Angelides said, is funding to expand health care for low-income children. Schwarzenegger “failed to get members of his own party to agree to a budget that funds health care for more kids from low-income families on the Healthy Families program regardless of the families’ immigration status. Compassion requires – and intelligent public health practice demands – that all people residing in California have access to adequate health care,” Angelides said.

Schwarzenegger credited a strong economy that increased state revenues for providing the cash to cover the increased expenditures and set aside a $2.1 billion reserve and an additional $2.8 billion for debt prepayment. Included in that is $1.42 billion for repaying borrowed funds earmarked by the voters for transportation projects aimed at reducing traffic throughout the state. The early debt payment and the reserve account for nearly 4.7 percent of the overall budget – the highest in 25 years.

Still, Angelides said, the budget is out of balance and the state is running up more debt. “Despite his repeated pledges to ‘cut up the credit card’ Governor Schwarzenegger has produced a budget that still leaves a $3.3 billion structural budget deficit for 2006-07 and more deficits for years to come,” Angelides said, “It is a budget thatwill continue to shift the burden of today’s deficits onto the backs of futuregenerations.”

The budget largely mirrors the May Revise, which has since prompted all three Wall Street credit rating agencies to upgrade the state credit rating, reducing the cost of state borrowing. One of the agencies, Fitch, Inc., cited “California’s continuing economic recovery, strong revenue performance and continued progress in reducing fiscal imbalance” when upgrading their rating on the state’s general obligation debt from A to A+ last month. Standard and Poor’s also raised its rating from A to A+ in May. Moody’s Investors Service raised its rating from A2 to A1 the same month.

Despite the improved credit ratings, Angelides said, the three rating agencies still have reservations about the state’s fiscal future. The agencies “have corroborated my warning and that of the Legislative Analyst that while state revenues have improved, California’s fiscal condition will remain insecure until the state produces balanced budgets,” he said.

Highlights of AB 1801, the Budget Act of 2006 by Assembly member John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), include:

Preschool through High School Education – The budget includes $100 million for the Governor’s targeted preschool initiative, which will make preschool available to every four year old living in a low-performing school district. $50 million of this funding will be used to build and improve preschool facilities. The budget also includes $645 million to fund physical education, arts and music programs. Overall, $11,264 will be spent on each student, an increase of $516 from the current year.

Higher Education – The budget allocates $19.1 billion from all sources for higher education and eliminates tuition and fee increases at UC and CSU. California, which already has the lowest community college fees in the nation, will further lower student fees from $26 per unit to $20, effective Spring 2007.

Law Enforcement – The budget includes an additional $196 million to support law enforcement efforts, including money to fund Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement teams, 500 GPS devices to track and monitor the highest-risk parolees and four new Gang Suppression Enforcement Teams. The budget also proposes the addition of 235 California Highway Patrol positions, includes $56.4 million to replace the CHP’s existing radio system and allocates $6.4 million to handle the increasing number of wireless 9-1-1 calls. Additionally, the budget includes a $20 million investment to strengthen efforts to fight methamphetamine trafficking and $6 million to create three new California Methamphetamine Strategy program teams.

Disaster Preparedness – The budget provides $220 million to enhance California’s ability to prepare for, mitigate and respond to emergencies, including money to strengthen public health response during a disaster. This includes preparations to prevent a pandemic influenza outbreak and expanding efforts to help local governments develop disaster preparedness plans.

Public Health – The budget includes $22.6 million for counties to perform outreach and enrollment activities to reach the 428,000 children who are eligible for Medi-Cal or the Healthy Families program but are not enrolled. The budget for the Healthy Families program also covers enrollment growth for 78,200 additional children.

Transportation – In addition, the Budget makes a substantial investment in improving California’s transportation system. It provides $1.4 billion to fully fund Proposition 42 for the second consecutive year, and it provides an additional $1.4 billion for the early repayment of past loans from Proposition 42, for a total of $2.8 billion. Of the $1.4 billion repayment, $440 million is designated for cities and counties for local road and street maintenance that would otherwise not be funded.

The budget is the first on time budget since 2000 and the fourth in the last 20 years. The 2006-07 budget’s general fund is $101.3 billion and total is $131.4 billion. For a more detailed overview of the budget, please visit www.dof.ca.gov.

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canada confirms fifth case of Mad Cow Disease

Monday, April 17, 2006

Canada‘s Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that a cow in British Columbia, Canada, tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “mad cow disease”. Officials announced on Friday that initial tests done on the purebred six-year-old dairy Holstein had come back inconclusive. The cow was found in Fraser Valley, a farming community near Vancouver, British Columbia.

Officials also say that the beef supply is safe because none of the infected cows had made it to the human food chain. “This finding does not affect the safety of Canadian beef. Tissues in which BSE is known to concentrate in infected animals are removed from all cattle slaughtered in Canada for domestic and international human consumption. No part of this animal entered the human food or animal feed systems,” said agency officials in a statement on Sunday.

“This animal, a six-year-old dairy cow, developed BSE after the implementation of Canada’s feed ban. Investigators will pay particular attention to the feed to which the animal may have been exposed early in its life, when cattle are most susceptible to BSE. The CFIA is collecting records of feed purchased by and used on the animal’s birth farm,” the statement continued.

However, the United States does not believe a ban on Canadian beef will come immediately. “Information gathered through this investigation will help us to determine what, if any, impact this should have on our beef and live cattle trade with Canada. Based on the information currently available, I do not anticipate a change in the status of our trade,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

This is Canada’s fifth confirmed case of the disease since May 2003, and officials have tested more than 100,000 cows since the first case of the disease turned up in Alberta. This is the second cow to test positive for the disease this year.

At least 150 people worldwide have died from eating beef contaminated with the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a nerve disease that is usually fatal. Most of the deaths occurred in the United Kingdom.

Cars big winner as 34th Annual Annie Awards handed out

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cars drove home the big prize last night, from the 34th Annual Annie Awards. The animation industry’s highest honor, ASIFA-Hollywood’s Annies recognise contributions to animation, writing, directing, storyboarding, voice acting, composing, and much more.

As mentioned, Pixar took home the big prize last night, after facing stiff competition from four other Happy Feet, Monster House, Open Season, and Over the Hedge.

But the biggest winner of the night didn’t get a “Best Animated Feature” nod at all. Flushed Away won five feature animation categories including Animated Effects (Scott Cegielski), Character Animation (Gabe Hordos), Production Design (Pierre-Olivier Vincent), Voice Acting (Sir Ian McKellan as Toad), Writing (Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Chris Lloyd, Joe Keenan, and Will Davies).

Over The Hedge won awards for Directing (Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick), Storyboarding (Gary Graham), and Character Design (Nicolas Marlet).

Of little surprise, Randy Newman won an Annie for Cars in the “Music in an Animated Feature Production” category. Newman has won many Oscars for his movie music, and has a nomination this year for the song “Our Town”. Newman didn’t attend the Annies, instead picking up a Grammy for “Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media”.

DisneyToon Studios’ Bambi II won “Best Home Entertainment Production”, while “Best Animated Short Subject” went to Blue Sky Studios’ No Time For Nuts, which is based on Ice Age.

“Best Animated Video Game” went to Flushed Away The Game, while a United Airlines ad named “Dragon” won a “Best Animated Television Commercial” Annie for DUCK Studios.

Contents

  • 1 Foster an Annie fav on TV
  • 2 Wikinews was there
  • 3 Related news
  • 4 Sources

Mobile operator Orange bills French doctor €160,000 for one month of Internet use

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In a third case of staggering sums billed for “unlimited” Internet access reported this week, a French emergency-room doctor from Fontainebleau beats all records with a €159,212 (US$237,417) bill. The telephone-number-sized bill covers one month’s use of an unlimited 3G dongle on Orange‘s network; the beleaguered Dr Jean Spadaro has been battling this for six months.

“To begin with I thought it was a joke”, said Spadaro, confirming a story from l’Observateur du Valenciennois; The same newspaper that revealed last week a similar case — Eric Gernez, a café owner in Petite-Forêt near to Valenciennes — who received a bill for €45,000. Christophe Aupy-Fargues, head of an insurance brokerage firm in Saint-Herblain, west of Nantes, and another unlimited 3G dongle user, confirmed to Ouest-France on Monday the blocking of payment on a bill for €39,500 demanded by Orange.

“I subscribed in November 2008 to a basic internet access by 3G dongle at €30 per month […] seeing my bills reach sums going up to €860 in April, I decided in May to subscribe to unlimited access by 3G dongle with Orange business at €50 per month. When I saw my bill for May, I couldn’t believe my eyes: €159,212, for one month’s connection, it’s impossible, especially as we don’t use it all of the time” added Spadaro, the father of two children, aged sixteen and nineteen.

On opening the envelope in June, he expected to read an amount neighbouring the cost of his subscription; but, to his horror, it was €159,212; a demand large enough to make an emergency-room doctor’s head spin.

When I saw my bill for May, I couldn’t believe my eyes: €159,212, for one month’s connection, it’s impossible

Spadaro claims France Télécom (Orange’s parent company) never explained to him that the “unlimited” package only related to the time spent surfing on the Internet — not the volume of traffic — limited to one Gigabyte per month. The package’s quota corresponds to moderate usage (reception of simple emails for example). As normal Internet users, the members of the Spadaro family surfed Facebook, YouTube, sent emails with attachments, received same, &c. That volume of traffic proved to be costly. €0.17 per Megabyte, or €170 per Gigabyte. Until the bills arrived, the Spadaro family were using the Internet, ignorant of the cost being incurred.

The doctor’s bills, not listed in detail, are €53 for February, €346 for March, €860 for April before soaring to more than €159,000 in May. Spadaro also claims, with evidence of his letters in hand, he had increased the number of protest actions and received, in response, “warnings with threats of seizure”.

Battle-weary after six months of contacting his operator, Spadaro has lost all patience. “Since June, I’ve spent hours writing emails, letters or calling Orange to ask for an explanation. I’ve been passed from call centre to call centre, from customer services to debt collection. No one at Orange was able to give me the slightest clarification. A real wall”, he said. He has never contacted a consumer association, “due to lack of time and also because I trusted the people with whom I was speaking”.

At the end of last week he stumbled upon the article on the Observateur du Valenciennois internet site concerning the case of Eric Gernez. He then also threatened Orange with the press. “The result did not tardy”, he continues. “A customer services representative and a debt collector immediately contacted me by email November 16. And immediately afterwards I received a credit for €136,529”. A first credit having already been sent to him in June, Orange now considers the dossier as “definitively resolved”.

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This resolution does not satisfy Jean Spadaro at all, who simply wishes that the bill be cancelled. “I have been a client with Orange for 17 years. I don’t want to attack their image, but here, enough is enough. It’s a question of principles”, he says, highlighting that “on forums, dozens of subscribers tell similar stories”. Furthermore, the two credits do not reimburse him for all of the additional fees he has incurred. “The following months, Orange tried to debit the sum from my account, causing rejection fees from my bank and unpaid fees from the operator. Around €35 each time”.

Exasperated by the whole affair, Spadaro awaits the end of his current contract with Orange in February next year. “I will cancel all of my subscriptions to Orange: 3G+ dongle, but also mobile telephone and internet”, he promises. He has been a client with the operator since 1997.

We will work with each client

Orange has promised to work with each case of overbilling. Interviewed on France 2 on Wednesday, Jean-Paul Cottet, director of the business market for France, said that the number of problems were marginal. According to him, 4,000 professionals have opted for a package with a 3G key. It is “a 24/24 but not unlimited offer. Out of these 4,000 cases, there are 1% which are a problem” he explained, listing about thirty such “absurd bills”. “We will correct that”, he promised. “We will work with each client”.

Jean-Paul Cottet pointed out that the general public offers better protection to the client. Once the authorised download limit is reached, the service quality diminishes but there is no overbilling.

Asked about the information given to clients about the conditions of billing elements not included in the package, Elizabeth Alvez, communications representative for the regional department for the North of France, said that “all the tarification information is available at points-of-sale and on orange.fr. This information is given as part of the dialogue between the client and the vendor. We are obliged to communicate the prices.” Nevertheless, one must first of all take the time to read the entire contract with the salesperson before signing.

Lobby groups oppose plans for EU copyright extension

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The European Commission currently has proposals on the table to extend performers’ copyright terms. Described by Professor Martin Kretschmer as the “Beatles Extension Act”, the proposed measure would extend copyright from 50 to 95 years after recording. A vast number of classical tracks are at stake; the copyright on recordings from the fifties and early sixties is nearing its expiration date, after which it would normally enter the public domain or become ‘public property’. E.U. Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services Charlie McCreevy is proposing this extension, and if the other relevant Directorate Generales (Information Society, Consumers, Culture, Trade, Competition, etc.) agree with the proposal, it will be sent to the European Parliament.

Wikinews contacted Erik Josefsson, European Affairs Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (E.F.F.), who invited us to Brussels, the heart of E.U. policy making, to discuss this new proposal and its implications. Expecting an office interview, we arrived to discover that the event was a party and meetup conveniently coinciding with FOSDEM 2008 (the Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting). The meetup was in a sprawling city centre apartment festooned with E.F.F. flags and looked to be a party that would go on into the early hours of the morning with copious food and drink on tap. As more people showed up for the event it turned out that it was a truly international crowd, with guests from all over Europe.

Eddan Katz, the new International Affairs Director of the E.F.F., had come over from the U.S. to connect to the European E.F.F. network, and he gladly took part in our interview. Eddan Katz explained that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is “A non-profit organisation working to protect civil liberties and freedoms online. The E.F.F. has fought for information privacy rights online, in relation to both the government and companies who, with insufficient transparency, collect, aggregate and make abuse of information about individuals.” Another major focus of their advocacy is intellectual property, said Eddan: “The E.F.F. represents what would be the public interest, those parts of society that don’t have a concentration of power, that the private interests do have in terms of lobbying.”

Becky Hogge, Executive Director of the U.K.’s Open Rights Group (O.R.G.), joined our discussion as well. “The goals of the Open Rights Group are very simple: we speak up whenever we see civil, consumer or human rights being affected by the poor implementation or the poor regulation of new technologies,” Becky summarised. “In that sense, people call us -I mean the E.F.F. has been around, in internet years, since the beginning of time- but the Open Rights Group is often called the British E.F.F.

Contents

  • 1 The interview
    • 1.1 Cliff Richard’s pension
    • 1.2 Perpetual patents?
    • 1.3 The fight moves from the U.K. to Europe
    • 1.4 Reclaiming democratic processes in the E.U.
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links