U.S. drones reported in Iranian airspace

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Three U.S.-government sources have reported the existence of U.S. military drone flights made over Iran, carrying surveillance equipment and particle filters capable of detecting nuclear materials. Confusingly, U.S.-military sources denied the overflights.

Iranian military personnel said they were aware of them, and sightings had prompted a number of UFO reports in the area of Iranian nuclear installations. They viewed them as provocative and probably designed to trick the Iranians into turning on their radar so that the US could determine potential targets.

Because Iran does not have political ties with the US, it has formally issued its objections to the flights through Swiss diplomats.

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Irish inflation creeps upwards to 2.4%

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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.

Scottish university to introduce comic studies degree

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In the Central Lowlands of Scotland, the University of Dundee is to become the first university in the United Kingdom to provide degrees in comic studies. The university has said that courses for its comic studies subject within the English section will commence in September 2011.

The city of Dundee is known to be the headquarters for D. C. Thomson & Co., a publishing company whose works include various comic books, such as The Beano, The Broons, The Dandy and Oor Wullie. Dr. Chris Murray, a leading British authority on comic books, will be leading the comic studies programme. “This is a very exciting time for comics scholarship, and I am delighted to be able to offer this postgraduate course on comics,” he explained. “This is a unique opportunity to give this important medium the attention it deserves, and to allow those with an interest in comics to study it in detail.”

Those organising courses for the degree believe that comic books now appeal to adults as well as children due to their impact in the areas of politics, art and literature, as well as aspects of popular culture. Amongst the program will be the examinations of comics of an autobiographical nature and similarities with the culture of comic books on an international scale. Students who complete the Master of Letters learning program — running either full-time for a year and two-years if done part-time — will be eligible for a Doctor of Philosophy in comic studies.

Dr. Murray has also noted: “Employability is an important consideration for any postgraduate programme, and it lies at the heart of what we aim to do with this course. There will be practical advice on publishing and developing a career as a comics scholar, writer or artist, and we hope to arrange work placements for students. Comics and graphic novels are becoming an increasingly important form of literature, art and field of study, and it is our intention that our graduates are at the forefront either as researchers, writers, artists or filling other roles within the industry.”

Payment pending; Canadian recording industry set for six billion penalties?

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A report published last week in the Toronto Star by Professor Michael Geist of Canada’s University of Ottawa claims a copyright case under the Class Proceedings Act of 1992 may see the country’s largest players in the music industry facing upwards of C$6 billion in penalties.

The case is being led by the family and estate of the late jazz musician Chet Baker; moving to take legal action against four major labels in the country, and their parent companies. The dispute centres around unpaid royalties and licensing fees for use of Baker’s music, and hundreds of thousands of other works. The suit was initially filed in August last year, but amended and reissued on October 6, two months later. At that point both the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) and Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors (SODRAC) were also named defendants.

January this year SODRAC and CMRRA switch sides, joining Baker et al. as plaintiffs against Sony BMG Music, EMI Music Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. David A. Basskin, President and CEO of CMRRA, with a professional law background, stated in a sworn affidavit that his organisation made numerous attempts over the last 20 years to reduce what is known as the “pending list”, a list of works not correctly licensed for reproduction; a list of copyright infringements in the eyes of the Baker legal team.

The theoretical principle of the list is to allow timely commercial release while rights and apportionment of monies due are resolved. Basskin complains that it is “economically infeasible to implement the systems that would be needed to resolve the issues internally”. And, “[…] for their part, the record labels have generally been unwilling to take the steps that, in the view of CMRRA, would help to resolve the problem.”

The Baker action demands that the four named major labels pay for and submit to an independent audit of their books, “including the contents of the ‘Pending Lists'”. Seeking an assessment of gains made by the record companies in “failure or refusal to compensate the class members for their musical works”, additional demands are for either damages and profits per the law applicable in a class action, or statutory damages per the Copyright Act for copyright infringement.

[…] for their part, the record labels have generally been unwilling to take the steps that, in the view of CMRRA, would help to resolve the problem.

This forms the basis for Professor Geist’s six billion dollar calculation along with Basskin’s sworn testimony that the pending lists cover over 300,000 items; with each item counted as an infringement, the minimum statutory damages per case are CA$500, the maximum $20,000.

Basskin’s affidavit on behalf of CMRRA goes into detail on the history leading up to the current situation and class action lawsuit; a previous compulsory license scheme, with poor recordkeeping requirements, and which, had a decline in real terms to one of the lowest fees in the world, was eventually abolished and the mechanical license system introduced. The CMRRA went on to become a significant representative of music publishers and copyright holders, and the pending list an instrument to deal with situations where mechanical rights were as-yet not completely negotiated. Basskin’s affidavit claiming the list grew and circumstances worsened as time progressed.

The Mechanical Licensing Agreement (MLA) between the “majors'” industry body, an attached exhibit to the affidavit, is set to expire December 31, 2012; this is between CMRRA and the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). With the original MLA expiring at end September 1990, CMRRA negotiated more detailed terms and a “code of conduct”. Subsequent agreements were drawn up in 1998, 2004, 2006, and 2008.

Basskin asserts that the named record company defendants are the “major” labels in Canada and states they “are also responsible for creating, maintaining and administering the so-called “Pending Lists” that are the subject of the current litigation”; that, specific to publishing, divisions of the four represent the “‘major’ music publishers active in Canada”. Yet the number of music publishers they represent has decreased over time due to consolidation and defection from the CRIA.

Geist summarizes the record company strategy as “exploit now, pay later if at all”. This despite the CMRRA and SODRAC being required to give lists of all collections they represented to record labels, and for record labels to supply copies of material being released to permit assessment of content that either group may represent interested parties for. Where actual Mechanical License Agreements are in place, Basskin implies their terms are particularly broad and preclude any party exercising their legal right to decline to license.

Specific to the current Mechanical Licensing Agreement (MLA) between the CMRRA and the CRIA; a “label is required to provide an updated cumulative Pending List to CMRRA with each quarterly payment of royalties under the MLA.” The CMRRA is required to review the list and collect where appropriate royalties and interest due. Basskin describes his first encounter with pending lists, having never heard of them before 1989, thus:

[…I]n the early years of my tenure, CRMMA received Pending Lists from the record labels in the form of paper printouts of information. The information contained on these lists varied from record label to record label, [… i]n fact, within a few days after my arrival at CMRRA, I recall my predecessor, Paul Berry, directing my attention to a large stack of paper, about two feet high. and informing me that it was PolyGram’s most recent Pending List. Prior to that introduction I had never heard of Pending Lists.

Alain Lauzon, General Manager of Canada’s Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SODRAC) submitted his followup affidavit January 28, 2009 to be attached to the case and identify the society as a plaintiff. As such, he up-front states “I have knowledge of the matters set out herein.” Lauzon, a qualified Chartered Accountant with an IT specialisation, joined SODRAC in 2002 with “over 20 years of business experience.” He is responsible for “negotiation and administration of industry-wide agreements for the licensing of music reproduction and distribution”; licensing of radio and online music services use is within his remit.

Lauzon makes it clear that Baker’s estate, other rightsholders enjoined to the case, SODRAC, and CMRRA, have reached an agreed settlement; they wish to move forward with a class proceeding against the four main members of the CRIA. He requests that the court recognise this in relation to the initially accepted case from August 2008.

The responsibility to obtain mechanical licenses for recordings manufactured and/or released in Canada falls with the Canadian labels by law, by industry custom, and by contractual agreement.

The preamble of the affidavit continues to express strong agreement with that of David Basskin from CMRRA. Lauzon concurs regarding growing use of “pending lists” and that “[…] record labels have generally been unwilling to take the steps that would help to resolve the Pending List problem.”

With his background as an authority, Lauzon states with confidence that SODRAC represents “approximately 10 to 15% of all musical works that are reproduced on sound recordings sold in Canada.” For Quebec the figure is more than 50%.

Lauzon agrees that the four named record company defendants are the “major” labels in Canada, and that smaller independent labels will usually work with them or an independent distribution company; and Basskin’s statement that “[t]he responsibility to obtain mechanical licenses for recordings manufactured and/or released in Canada falls with the Canadian labels by law, by industry custom, and by contractual agreement.”

Wikinews attempted to contact people at the four named defendant CRIA-member record labels. The recipient of an email that Wikinews sent to Warner Brothers Canada forwarded our initial correspondence to Hogarth PR; the other three majors failed to respond in a timely fashion. Don Hogarth responded to Wikinewsie Brian McNeil, and, without addressing any of the submitted questions, recommended a blog entry by Barry Sookman as, what he claimed is, a more accurate representation of the facts of the case.

I am aware of another viewpoint that provides a reasonably deep explanation of the facts, at www.barrysookman.com. If you check the bio on his site, you’ll see that he is very qualified to speak on these issues. This may answer some of your questions. I hope that helps.

Sookman is a lobbyist at the Canadian Parliament who works in the employ of the the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). Hogarth gave no indication or disclosure of this; his direction to the blog is to a posting with numerous factual inaccuracies, misdirecting statements, or possibly even lies; if not lies, Sookman is undoubtedly not careful or “very qualified” in the way he speaks on the issue.

Sookman’s blog post opens with a blast at Professor Geist: “his attacks use exaggeration, misleading information and half truths to achieve his obvious ends”. Sookman attempts to dismiss any newsworthiness in Geist’s article;

[… A]s if something new has happened with the case. In fact, the case was started in August 2008 (not October 2008 as asserted by Prof. Geist). It also hasn’t only been going on “for the past year”, as he claims. Chet Baker isn’t “about to add a new claim to fame”. Despite having started over a year and a half ago, the class action case hasn’t even been certified yet. So why the fervour to publicise the case now?
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Should the court use admitted unpaid amounts, or maximum statutory damages – as the record industry normally seeks against filesharers?
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As the extracted [see right] stamp, date, and signature, shows, the court accepted amendments to the case and its submission, as Professor Geist asserts, on October 6. The previously mentioned submissions by the heads of CMRRA and SODRAC were indeed actions within the past year; that of SODRAC’s Alain Louzon being January 28 this year.

Sookman continues his attack on Professor Geist, omitting that the reverse appears the case; analysis of his blog’s sitemap reveals he wrote a 44-page attack on Professor Geist in February 2008, accusing him of manipulating the media and using influence on Facebook to oppose copyright reform favourable to the CRIA. In the more current post he states:

Prof. Geist tries to taint the recording industry as blatant copyright infringers, without ever delving into the industry wide accepted custom for clearing mechanical rights. The pending list system, which has been around for decades, represents an agreed upon industry wide consensus that songwriters, music publishers (who represent songwriters) and the recording industry use and rely on to ensure that music gets released and to the market efficiently and the proper copyright owners get compensated.

This characterisation of the pending list only matches court records in that it “has been around for decades”. CMRRA’s Basskin, a lawyer and industry insider, goes into great detail on the major labels resisting twenty years of collective societies fighting, and failing, to negotiate a situation where the labels take adequate measures to mechanically license works and pay due fees, royalties, and accrued interest.

What Sookman clearly overlooks is that, without factoring in any interest amounts, the dollar value of the pending list is increasing, as shown with the following two tables for mid-2008.

As is clear, there is an increase of C$1,101,987.83 in a three-month period. Should this rate of increase in the value of the pending list continue and Sony’s unvalued pending list be factored in, the CRIA’s four major labels will have an outstanding debt of at least C$73 million by end-2012 when the association’s Mechanical Licensing Agreement runs out.

Italian footballer Andrea Pirlo announces retirement

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

On Monday, Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo formally announced his retirement from football. A 2006 FIFA World Cup winner with Italy, Pirlo had announced his intentions to end the 22-year-career last month, and his final professional game ended in a 2–0 win for New York City FC (NYCFC) against Columbus Crew in Major League Soccer play-offs at Yankee Stadium.

“As my time in NYC FC comes to an end, I want to thank everybody for the kindness and support they have shown me in this incredible city”, 38-year-old Pirlo wrote on Twitter. Last month, the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport “You realise yourself that the time has come. Each day, you have physical problems and you can’t train as you would like to. At my age, it’s fine to say enough is enough.” ((it))Italian language: ?Ti rendi conto da solo che è arrivato il momento. Ogni giorno hai problemi fisici, non riesci più ad allenarti come vorresti perché hai sempre qualche acciacco. Alla mia età ci sta di dire basta.

Pirlo spent 20 years playing in Italy, making his professional debut for Brescia Calcio before moving to Internazionale in 1998. Three years later, in 2001, he made a switch to Inter’s local rivals, AC Milan. Pirlo spent a decade with Milan, and won two Serie A titles, and two UEFA Champions League titles — in 2003 and in 2007, just a year after Pirlo won the World Cup in Germany with Azzurri defeating France.

His contract with Milan expired in 2011, and then 32-year-old Pirlo moved to Turin and joined Juventus. He won four consecutive Serie A titles with the Old Lady. He was close to winning a third UEFA Champions League gold medal in 2015, but Juventus lost 3–1 against FC Barcelona in the final.

Having won six Italian league titles, two Champions League and Coppa Italia as well as a World Cup with the national team, Pirlo moved to Yankee Stadium in July 2015. Pirlo was substituted in during the 90th minute in his last match for NYCFC, losing 4–3 on aggregate in the MLS play-offs. NYCFC’s manager Patrick Vieira said, “He [Pirlo] had a fantastic career, not just on the field but off it because he’s a true gentleman. He’s a really good guy.”

US ABC network to offer more shows dubbed in Spanish

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Friday, September 9, 2005

Due to a growing US Hispanic population, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) announced that all primetime shows in their upcoming lineup will be closed captioned in both English and Spanish. In addition, four of the shows, as well as many theatrically-released films and other specials, will be dubbed in Spanish.

The move was a major one for ABC. Previously, only the Hispanic comedy The George Lopez Show was captioned and dubbed in Spanish. “We wanted to move beyond toe-dipping and really dive in,” said Stephen McPherson, ABC entertainment chief. “Almost half of the 41 million Hispanics in this country watch only or mostly Spanish-language television, and we want to bring that audience to ABC.”

The SAP function allows an optional second audio transmission, which may be used for transmitting programs in Spanish. However, the additional costs of hiring voice actors to provide Spanish dialogue, as well as production costs, have been prohibitive for most networks. McPherson said that while it was “not inexpensive”, having Spanish-speaking viewership could yield a significant benefit.

George Lopez will continue to air, dubbed in Spanish. In addition, two of the network’s most popular shows, Desperate Housewives and Lost, as well as the new comedy Freddie, will be dubbed; Spanish voice actors are currently being cast for the roles.

News briefs:August 02, 2010

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US Senate committee investigates credit card practices

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On Tuesday, the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs‘s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing titled “Credit Card Practices: Unfair Interest Rate Increases.” The hearing examined the circumstances under which credit card issuers may increase the interest rates of cardholders who are in compliance with the terms of their credit cards. It was a follow-up to a March 2007 hearing.

Subcommittee Chairman Carl Levin said in his opening statement: “Today’s focus is on credit card issuers who hike the interest rates of cardholders who play by the rules — meaning those folks who pay on time, pay at least the minimum amount due, and wake up one day to find their interest rate has gone through the roof — again, not because they paid late or exceeded the credit limit, but because their credit card issuer decided they should be ‘repriced’.”

Present to testify on behalf of credit card issuers were Roger C. Hochschild of Discover Financial Services, Bruce L. Hammonds of Bank of America Corporation, and Ryan Schneider of Capital One Financial Corporation.

Much of the 90 minute hearing focused on specific cases where interest rates were raised, allegedly because credit scores of the debtor dropped, and not because they were delinquent or otherwise behind on payments. According to Levin, this practice made it so that almost all payments went towards finance charges with almost none toward repaying the principal. This, he felt, is an unfair practice, as the credit card companies were negligent in informing their customers of the rate hikes and the reason for such hikes.

Families find themselves ensnared in a seemingly inescapable web of credit card debt.

The collective credit card debt of Americans totals an estimated US$900 billion. Issuers have come under pressure to disclose their policies in regards to setting fees and interest rates. The US Truth in Lending Act requires that terms of a loan be set forth up front. Fluctuating interest rates on credit cards would, on the surface, appear to violate this act.

Roger C. Hochschild disagreed, arguing that “every card transaction is a new extension of credit … This makes it difficult — and risky — to underwrite, and price, the loan based solely on the borrower’s credit-worthiness at the time of application [for the card].”

Ryan Schneider, agreed: “The ability to modify the terms of a credit card agreement to accommodate changes over time to the economy or the credit-worthiness of consumers must be preserved.”

“Attempts to interfere with the market here … will inevitably result in less credit being offered,” warned Bruce Hammonds. “Risk-based pricing has democratized access to credit,” he added.

All three credit card executives also mentioned an ongoing Federal Reserve System review of credit card rules that already proposes a 45-day notification ahead of any rate changes.

Committee members criticized the industry for varying practices. Included in the criticism was the practice of mailing checks to card-holders, failing to notify applicants that obtaining additional cards could lower their credit score and raise their rates, and “ambushing” card-holders with raised rates.

Ranking minority member of the subcommittee, Norm Coleman said, “families find themselves ensnared in a seemingly inescapable web of credit card debt. They particularly report being saddled with interest rates that skyrocketed on them seemingly out of the blue.”

Is Bontril A Real Solution For Obesity?

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Submitted by: Charles Volcalatte

Bontril is an anorexigenic or anorectic which means it is a drug that is used to cure obesity. It is a prescription-based weight loss drug therefore it can only be used upon the recommendation of a doctor and cannot be purchased without a prescription. Furthermore, users can only take the drug under medical supervision thus having regular consultations with a doctor is also required.

Phenidimetrazine is the generic name of Bontril. This weight loss medication is similar to an amphetamine in chemical composition in that it stimulates the central nervous system possibly resulting in metabolic effects which may also aid in the burning of fat. Doctors prescribe this drug as a treatment for obesity by helping obese people control their appetite. It is to be used alongside a serious diet and exercise weight loss program.

A Word of Caution

One extremely important thing to note about Bontril is that it is habit forming. If used beyond the prescribed period of time, users can become physically and psychologically dependent on it and upon stopping may experience withdrawal symptoms. Because of this it is essential that users discuss with their doctors how to gradually cease from the taking the medication.

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Bontril is also known to produce serious side-effects including allergic reaction, irregular heartbeat, very high blood pressure, and abnormal behavior. It is a drug that should be taken with extreme caution. During our research, we found out that whatever weight is lost from using Bontril is often regained shortly after a dieter stops taking it.

Our Verdict

Regardless of whether it is taken under a doctor s supervision or not, we find the Bontril formulation to be too unsafe. Its severe side-effects far outweigh its benefits. We believe that obesity can be dealt with without having to take extreme forms of medication such as this drug.

Furthermore, a complete weight loss formula should contain fat burning agents as well as appetite suppressants. Bontril does not include a modern appetite suppressant such as Hoodia thus making it an incomplete formula.

While bontril has been approved by the Food and Drug Adminsitration to promote weight loss, it is habit forming and only for short term use. It can be found on multiple online pharmacies. However, we would not suggest taking it except under the supervision of a licensed and reputable physician.

Serious though it may be, obesity is not a problem that can only be treated by prescription drugs. There are safe and sensible ways to reduce weight. Eating a sensible diet and engaging in moderate exercise would go a long way in getting rid of excess fat. A supplement that aids in appetite control and boosts a sluggish metabolism would help sufferers get the most from a well designed weight loss program. There are many quality holistic supplements in the market with formulas that meet these requirements.

With safer and more effective options available, we believe there is no reason for dieters to even consider the prescription drug Bontril.

About the Author: Charles Volcolatte is a health and weight loss researcher for www.skinnyasap.com. He writes and researches actively on

Bontril

and shares his knowledge at http//www.skinnyasap.com where he works as a staff writer.

Source:

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Malware from mass SQL injections confirmed by security experts

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nearly 20,000 websites have been attacked by unknown malicious computer users using a technique known as an SQL injection. The attackers have inserted code to install malware onto visitors’ computers. The code exploits a newly-discovered weakness in Adobe Flash Player, a very common web-browser plugin. The attacks prompted an investigation by the Taiwanese information security industry into the source of these attacks.

An SQL injection is a common method employed by malicious users to attack and deface websites, arising from website mistakes in checking user input. Attackers take advantage of these weaknesses to inject information of their choosing into the website. For example, in June of 2007, Microsoft UK found its webpage changed to a picture of the Saudi Arabia flag, an attack which was carried out using an SQL injection.

According to SecurityFocus, this most recent series of attacks stems from a vulnerability in versions 9.0.115.0 and 9.0.124.0 of Flash Player. It allows attackers to load any code they wish onto a computer running these versions of Flash.

As the vulnerability in Flash is newly discovered, Adobe has not yet released a newer version which fixes the problem. For the time being, computer security experts recommend that internet users with one of the unprotected versions of Flash disable the plug-in on Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer to prevent malicious users from gaining control over their computers.

The most recent version of the Flash Player, version 9.0.124.0, does not appear to be vulnerable to this exploit.