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

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

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.

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US: Evidentiary documents released in Golden State Killer case

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US: Evidentiary documents released in Golden State Killer case

June 22, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Friday, June 1, 2018

On Friday, the Sacramento, California County Superior Court in the United States, with Judge Michael Sweet presiding, publicly released approximately 123 heavily redacted pages from an 800 page document related to the trial of 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo, in the Golden State Killer (GSK) case. The high profile case prompted the defense to motion delaying the release on the grounds of jury tainting.

From 1974 to 1986, there were 12 murders, 45 rapes, and 120 burglaries ascribed to the GSK. Many of these crimes were initially attributed to separate suspects, and California investigators coined such nicknames as “East Area Rapist”, “Original Night-stalker”, “Visalli Ransacker”, and “Diamond Knot Killer”. All these identities were later determined to be the GSK. DeAngelo is currently being charged with first degree murder with special circumstances, and is being further investigated for the 1975 first degree murder of Claude Snelling.

GSK’s alleged victims include 18-year-old Janelle Lisa Cruz on May 4, 1986; 35-year-old Cheri Domingo on July 27, 1981; 27-year-old Greg Sanchez on July 27, 1981; 24-year-old Keith Harrington on August 21, 1975; 27-year-old Patti Harrington on August 21, 1975; 21-year-old Brian Maggiore on February 2, 1978; 20-year-old Katie Maggiore on February 2, 1978; 44-year-old Dr. Robert Offerman on December 30, 1979; 35-year-old Debra Manning on December 30, 1979; 35-year-old Lyman Smith on March 13, 1980; 33-year-old Charlene Smith on March 13, 1980; 45-year-old Claude Snelling on September 11, 1975; and 28-year-old Manuela Witthuhn on February 5, 1981.

Law enforcement used DNA and other evidence to link the twelve known murders attributed to the GSK to suspect DeAngelo. Any DNA from rape kits and burglaries that predates 1970 is only admissible in court for murder cases because of California’s statute of limitations. The DNA evidence allegedly implicating DeAngelo was not found through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database, which catalogs 20 sections of DNA from local, state, federal, and some international agencies making a unique profile for 16 million individuals, but CODIS did rule out other GSK suspects, like Paul “Cornfed” Schneider and Joe Alsip.

Instead, law enforcement used a nuance investigative technique, comparing GSK’s DNA profile against the open-sourced GEDmatch’s genealogical DNA database. The GEDmatch’s database flagged a GSK blood relative and, with other evidence, DeAngelo was suspected of being involved with GSK’s crimes. The genealogical website methodology is not unique to the GSK case. GEDmatch’s database was also used to identify 51-year-old William Earl Talbott II in the 1987 rape and homicide of Jay Cook (20) and Tanya Van Cuylenborg (18) in Seattle, Washington.

The newly released documents reveal DeAngelo’s DNA was not collected via a warrant but rather from the door handle of his personal vehicle as he was shopping in a local Hobby Lobby on April 18. A secondary sample was collected from a tissue found in the garbage on April 23. The door handle and tissue DNA were compared to a semen sample from a known GSK murder that had been confirmed using the CODIS’s 20 section DNA profile standard. On April 24, DeAngelo was arrested for the twelve GSK murders. A warrant for DeAngelo’s Citrus Heights, California residence disclosed dozens of wedding rings, photographs, driver’s licenses, and other objects allegedly taken from victims as trophies.

Public defender David Lynch, tasked with defending DeAngelo, motioned for the 800 documents to be sealed until trial to prevent the jury from becoming tainted. Lynch has also questioned the validity of certain search warrants for undisclosed reasons. Prosecutors from Sacramento, Ventura, Orange, and Santa Barbara counties have not determined the best way to prosecute DeAngelo considering the complexity, age, and multiple jurisdictions of the case.

DeAngelo was, until 1979, a police officer in small California towns. After allegedly stealing a hammer and dog repellent, DeAngelo was subsequently fired from the Auburn, California police force. He later became a truck mechanic near Sacramento.

[edit]

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Australian Tax Office warns against tax return scam

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Australian Tax Office warns against tax return scam

June 22, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has warned against a fraudulent email claiming to be from the ATO. The email, which is similar to previous scams, uses the ATO logo and has the subject line of ‘Notification – Please read’, ‘Australian Taxation Office – Please read’ or other variations.

The email directs recipients to a bogus website that looks similar to the ATO website and requests credit card and personal details.

“People should be wary of unsolicited emails claiming to be from the Tax Office,” says Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo.

“As an extra precaution we recommend you type internet addresses directly into your internet browser rather than clicking on links embedded in emails,” added D’Ascenzo who also stated that anyone who receives the email should delete it immediately.

Anyone who believes they may have fallen victim to this scam are urged to contact their credit card provider.

The ATO Says that it does not send any unsolicited emails.

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Japanese national team beats ACT softball team

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Japanese national team beats ACT softball team

June 21, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hawker, Australian Capital Territory — Tonight, the Japanese national team beat the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) softball team 1–0 in the first of a two game series before Japan plays a three game test series against the Australian national team.

The game was a low scoring pitching duel. Japan brought five pitchers to Canberra for their Australian tour. Since the last Olympics, Japan has been in a rebuilding period. The side is young and many of their best players have not had much international experience. One of their best pitchers is only nineteen years old.

The ACT side included Australian national team members Aimee Murch and Clare Warwick; Olympic bronze medalist Brenda De Blaes; Victorian state team representative, national team member and Olympic bronze medalist Justine Smethurst; and Clare Currie, who narrowly missed the cut for the national team.

De Blaes started the top of the first with a hit. She ended the inning stranded on base. Murch was pitching for the ACT to start the bottom of the first. Number 15 for Japan opened the inning with a single, and was advanced to third on another single. She was tagged out after trying to score a run after her teammate hit a pop up caught by the ACT’s centre fielder. Number 6 hit a double during this inning, scoring Japan’s only run.

The top of the second saw ACT players 1, 5 and 3 tagged out after hits to the infield. The bottom of the second saw number 13 out on a foul ball caught on the fly by the ACT’s third baseman, and number 11 and 24 out on balls hit into and caught by the ACT’s centre fielder.

The top of third inning saw numbers 24 and 21 ground out. De Blaes ended the inning by striking out. The bottom of the third saw Japan’s first batter ground out, number 8 getting a single on an infield hit, another playing getting an out, and the inning ending with number 11 hitting an infield ground out.

The rest of the game followed much the same pattern. Two players, an ACT player and a Japanese, were struck by balls and required trainers to look at them. Smethurst came in and pitched a few innings in relief. Between the fifth and sixth innings, there was a small delay in the game when a dog named Streaker, owned by Australia men’s national softball team player Adam Folkard, ran onto the the infield.

The game ended 1–0. An announcement was made at the end of the game that the match scheduled for tomorrow would start fifteen minutes earlier than the advertised start time of 18:00.

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Police crackdown on illegal tow operations in Sydney

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Police crackdown on illegal tow operations in Sydney

June 21, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Friday, June 30, 2006

New South Wales Police, in connection with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, Tow Truck Authority and Centrelink (the agency responsible for providing income support) conducted random checks on tow trucks on Thursday. The checks were carried out in Bankstown, a suburb in Sydney’s South-West.

According to police, 50 tow trucks were pulled over during the operation, coined “Operation Hook” between 8:30 a.m. AEST and 4 p.m. Of those, 26 were directed to report to a vehicle inspection facility for further investigation.

Police issued 70 infringement notices (fines) during the operation. 11 were for being unlicensed to conduct business as a tow truck driver or business, and 13 for having incorrectly secured loads. 17 vehicles were issued defect notices as part of the operation.

Tow truck operators (business owners) are required to make a payment of AUD$770 per year to the NSW government, while drivers are charged $152 per year for their licence. An additional charge for tow truck number plates of $292 per year also applies.

The maximum penalty for operators not being licensed correctly is $11,000 or 12 months imprisonment, drivers without the correct licence can be fined $5,500 or sentenced to 6 months.

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Alternative to controversial hotel proposed to Buffalo, N.Y. business owners and residents

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Alternative to controversial hotel proposed to Buffalo, N.Y. business owners and residents

June 21, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “120 year-old documents threaten development on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Buffalo, New York —

Residents and business owners in the Elmwood Avenue neighborhood and surrounding area in Buffalo heard a competing proposal for development in their neighborhood at the February 22 meeting held at the Burchfield-Penney Art Gallery, at Buffalo State College. The meeting, attended by at least 140, was originally to consider the Elmwood Village Hotel but also included a new revitalization proposal from Rocco Termini which would increase retail space, but involves less demolition and no hotel.

Rocco Termini, a Buffalo, New York developer wants to develop the corner of Elmwood and Forest, the same spot where Savarino Construction Services Corporation want to build the Elmwood Village Hotel.

Termini proposed that a similar revitalization take place on the intersection like one that incorporated 3 buildings on Aurburn and Elmwood just last year. Termini’s proposal will add more retail space than Savarino’s proposal with the possibility of including up to seven retail outlets.

“I just think it’s necessary to preserve the streetscape that we have. That’s the whole point of living and shopping on Elmwood,” said Termini. “You should be able to go into little shops, that have unique items, and that bring people to Elmwood. When you bring a big box on Elmwood Avenue, it takes something away from the urban-streetscape, just as suburban areas do not want a big box Wal-Mart. We don’t want a big box on Elmwood avenue and I think that’s just what this (the hotel) does, brings a big box to Elmwood,” said Termini.

When asked if there were any development companies currently interested in his proposal Termini said, “I will be willing to take a look at this myself,” said Termini. “Or I would be more than happy to be partners with Sam, Sam Savarino,” who is President and Chief Executive Officer of Savarino Construction Services Corp.

An unnamed source close to the project stated, “Rocco has serious concerns that the Mobius’s asking price could make his project infeasible.”

It is unknown if Savarino Construction or the city of Buffalo will consider Termini’s proposal.

Termini purchased and developed several buildings and areas including the Ellicott Lofts on Ellicott Street in Buffalo, which opened in 2003, The Oak School Lofts which used to be a Buffalo Alternative School, and ‘IS’ Lofts on Oak Street in Buffalo.

Eva Hassett, Vice President of Savarino Construction, and Karl Frizlen an architect from The Frizlen Group and designer of the hotel commented on the development proposal. Hassett said, “We’ve been thinking about it and trying to put it together for the last few months, and it was made public a couple of weeks ago.”

“There are lots of different areas you can look at. This is an Elmwood Avenue hotel. Putting it somewhere else makes a completely different kind of hotel. We wanted a hotel that people could walk to from the business on Elmwood. We wanted a hotel that people could walk to from the Albright Knox Art Gallery. This is really a location for this kind of hotel. Other locations end up being for other kinds of hotels,” said Hassett

“We are excited about the concept of a boutique hotel at this corner. We think it makes sense to the various businesses in the area or the galleries just down the street. We also believe that this is a way for the visitors of Buffalo to experience what the best of what Buffalo has to offer. We think it will be a great way for people from out of town, to get to know what we know about the city,” said Hassett.

Although Hassett had said that the proposal has only been around “for a few months”, Karl Frizlen said that he came up with the idea “three years ago when Hans Mobius,” former owner of the properties at risk, “came to me and asked what we could do with these properties.” Frizlen also said that he introduced Mobius to “four different developers, who after seeing the properties, did not want to tackle them, saying that they felt like it was too much for them to take on.”

Hans Mobius did not attend last nights meeting.

Frizlen is also designing the former telephone company building at 504 Elmwood which would be a “mixed use building with retail on the lowest level and lofts on the other two floors.”

After speeches from developers, residents and business owners were invited to present questions and comments.

Mark Freelend, a Buffalo resident, and local artist, said “I’m looking at my house in the picture, and I’m picturing all the houses on Granger street behind me, and I’m realizing that, if this is implemented (the hotel), we will get zero sunlight. The Sun is supposed to be free, for everyone. The people on Granger are going to have eighty windows looking at them and their children being raised, and playing in the backyard, guests looking in the windows of their houses twenty-four hours a day. A million people starring into their houses. No sunlight, and they are on permanent reality TV. Put a price on that!”

“I think this hotel is totally out of scale to the area and it does not conform to the style (of Elmwood) at all. It will totally obscure the gateway of Elmwood. The gateway now has open arms that allow for passage and view into the commercial corridor. This hotel stands as a brick wall as far as I can tell,” said Nancy Pollina one of the owners of Don Apparel at 1119 Elmwood. Pollina referenced to the recent ‘revitalization’ project on Auburn and Elmwood saying, “That building was boarded up for years, and that was beautiful a renovation. That building was not in any less need of repair than Hans Mobius’s properties.”

Both residents and business owners in the area are concerned that the proposal is moving too quickly and said that the developers should wait before having any city meetings and wait for a consensus from the community on the hotel.

Mrs. Pollina said, “I think people feel passionate about their neighborhood, and this is their neighborhood. I feel that what was most shocking is that the city’s planning board meeting and Common Council meeting, which are they need to push this through, is next week without almost no notice. This (the proposal) is being rushed.

However; Sam Savarino did say that “some people have gotten emotional about this project. And I want to let the community know that we will listen to what you have to say. We’re not forcing this down anybody’s throat. If this is not something this community wants, we do not want to have it here.”

The city’s Planning Board is expected to meet on February 28, 2006 at 8:00am in room 901 on the 9th floor of City Hall. The city’s Legislative Committee meeting of Common Council is expected to take place on the same day at 2:00pm in Council Chambers on the 13th floor of City Hall.

It has just been confirmed from an unnamed source close to the project that “significant changes” will be made to the design of the Elmwood Village Hotel. “Its not being cancelled, just redesigned,” he said. The changes are not yet known, but they are could be released “tomorrow. He (Savarino) doesn’t want it released until he touches base with a few people today.”

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New Zealand elects first female Speaker

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New Zealand elects first female Speaker

June 20, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Margaret Wilson was appointed as Speaker of The House of Representatives. She becomes New Zealand’s first female Speaker of the House. She also rounds out the top positions within New Zealand being taken by women. All four of Governor-General, Prime Minister, Chief Justice and the Speaker of the House are female.

Wilson was voted in with 64 votes. Clem Simich (National MP) received 37 and ACT MP Ken Shirley got five votes. The position has usually been appointed unopposed, but the other two candidates stood to protest at the lack of consultation by Prime Minister Helen Clark.Wilson takes over from Jonathan Hunt, who leaves to become the High Commissioner for New Zealand in London. Hunt will remain in the backbenches until early next month. Wilson was previously Attorney-General, a position that Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Michael Cullen now holds.

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Haunted attractions in Texas prepare for 2013 Halloween season

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Haunted attractions in Texas prepare for 2013 Halloween season

June 20, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Thursday, September 12, 2013

With Halloween approaching, numerous haunted attractions all over Texas are preparing for the big “haunt” season. Directors and staff of such attractions must invest significant time preparing their buildings; such efforts gear up significantly during September. Wikinews caught up with some owners of these attractions to learn more about the hard work it takes to prepare for opening night.

Terror Nights, an attraction in Tyler, opens for the season on September 27. Ryan Laepple, owner and director of the haunt, states he’s currently involved in “a blur of safety inspections, auditions, actor training, and last but not least event advertising.” Laepple went on to say he stays “pretty busy until the show opens on the 27th and then things calm down some. As long as not too many things in the haunt break at once.” Dean Jarnig, the director of Zombie Manor in Arlington, said he and staff have recently been spraying flame-retardant chemicals and installing new lights. Jarnig also stated he and staff are working on a promotional video for their attraction, which opens on Friday September 13.

Hangman’s House of Horrors in Fort Worth is celebrating both its twenty fifth anniversary and final operational year. Some individuals who act in these attractions refer to their fellow actors as extended family. This year, some sources have even encouraged holiday job seekers to consider working at a haunted attraction to earn money. One whimsically listed the job’s benefits as “[…] free uniforms, a complimentary hair and makeup consultation and make-over, inspirational background music, plenty of on-the-job exercise opportunities and more.” Long a staple in American culture, “Haunted Houses”, as they’re commonly called, range in size from small garage-sized projects, up to multi floor buildings outfitted with the most elaborate of lighting and special effects.

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Woman killed on amusement park ride in New York

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Woman killed on amusement park ride in New York

June 20, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A young woman was killed Friday night after an accident occurred on a gyrating ride at the Playland amusement park in Rye, New York in the United States. The woman, Gabriela Garin, was a worker at the amusement park, and had worked there for the past seven years.

The accident occurred near the end of Garin’s shift; as she was loading riders onto the ride. The ride’s new operator, unaware of Garin’s presence, started the ride while Garin was still on it. The new operator then noticed Garin, and shut the ride down in 20 seconds, but Garin had already been ejected from the ride and killed, according to a park spokesperson.

The ride is an attraction that spins people around in two-seat cars, inside a darkened tent to flashing lights and music.

This incident is not the first in the ride’s history. In 2004, a seven-year-old from Connecticut managed to free herself from the ride’s restraining bars, and climb onto the front edge of her seat. She fell soon after the ride started. A safety precaution was put in place after this incident, however, the spokesperson acknowledged that it was not followed when Garin was killed.

The company which owns the ride shut it down, along with two other rides it owns at the park.

This is the fourth fatality in the park’s history. The park features more than 50 rides, a pool, and a beach. It attracts more than 1 million visitors annually.

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Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

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Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

June 20, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.

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