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Archive for November, 2018


MetLife to acquire Travelers Life and Annuity from Citigroup

Monday, January 31, 2005

Metlife announced on 01/31/05 that they were going to acquire Travelers Life and Annuity from Citigroup. Travelers Life and Annuity is an insurance underwriter. MetLife is a large life insurance and annuities underwriter. MetLife will have to borrow a lot of money to pay for the company, so rating agencies like S&P warn that the AA credit rating of MetLife might be lowered. This would cause the interest rates at which all of MetLife’s debt must be repaid to increase.

Citigroup committed to continue distributing Travelers life insurance and annuities through its Smith Barney stock brokers, Primerica agents, and Citibank branches.

Citigroup was previously known as Travelers Insurance before it bought Citicorp. First the Property and Casualty business of Travelers was spun off, and now the life insurance division has been sold off. This is primarily because insurance underwriters get a lower price to earnings multiple from the stock market because of the cycles and uncertainty associated with the insurance business. Also, having an insurance underwriter and a bank together does not usually create “cross-sell” opportunities, because consumers and businesses almost always buy life insurance and annuities through brokers who have a duty to give them other options. Citigroup will continue to sell insurance through its brokers as before.


Tensions continue to rise in Middle East over “Mohammad Cartoons”

Friday, February 3, 2006

The publishing of a series of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a Copenhagen newspaper sparked a string of harsh and in some places violent reactions in the Middle East, forcing European leaders to try to calm the situation.

This backlash started in late September 2005, when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad. The images ranged from serious to comical in nature; a particularly controversial cartoon portrays Mohammad with a bomb wrapped in his turban. The Jutland-based newspaper states that the images were meant to inspire some level of public debate over the image of Islam in Europe, and had no direct aim of offending anyone.

However, many Muslims follow the doctrine of aniconism concerning the portrayal of Mohammad. This tenet of Islam states that the Prophet Mohammad should not be depicted in any type of art, regardless of the intent of the piece. This belief, along with the potentially insensitive nature of some of the caricatures, have caused offense to many Muslims in the Arab world.

In the past month, the controversy over these cartoons escalated. The cartoons were re-published last month in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands (where the latter two nations have large Muslim populations), and have begun to re-circulate throughout the Middle East.

Many Danish companies have been targeted for boycotts. As Wikinews reported last week, Arla Foods, Denmark’s top dairy company, has seen their sales fall to zero in some Middle East nations. Carrefour, a French retail chain, has pulled all Danish products from its shelves in the region. Earlier this week, protests were held throughout the region, including the Gaza Strip in Jerusalem, where Hamas supporters led an assault and protest that surrounded the European Union offices for Israel.

Hamas members, some armed with guns, stormed the EU office (which is primarily staffed by Arabs) and demanded apologies from EU member states, saying they would otherwise face serious consequences. “It will be a suitable reaction, and it won’t be predictable,” said Abu Hafss, a member of the Al Quds Brigade (an affiliate of the group Islamic Jihad), in a press conference outside the EU offices. And the Abu al-Reesh Brigades, a group related to the late Yassir Arafat’s Fatah party, warned that EU member states had 10 hours to apologize for the cartoons or their citizens would be “in danger”.

Jamila Al Shanty, a newly elected Hamas legislator, stated that more rallies will be planned in protest of the cartoons. “We are angry – very, very, very angry,” Al Shanty said today, adding that “No one can say a bad word about our prophet.”

The Iranian newspaper Hamshari daily has stated that on February 8 it will publish anti-semitic cartoons in response to the Danish cartoons, apparently failing to notice that Denmark has only a tiny Jewish population, since most escaped to Sweden during the World War II Holocaust. The newspaper says that the cartoons will lampoon the Holocaust despite denials by the Iranian government that the Holocaust even happened.

Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that first published the cartoons did issue an apology to Arab countries on Monday, shortly after the EU office incident. But with the support of the government of Denmark, the newspaper had earlier defended its actions fiercely, citing the universal right to free press, and its duty to serve democratic traditions by inspiring debate. Indeed, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, said “We are talking about an issue with fundamental significance to how democracies work.” In fact, some European pundits have placed more fault on Muslims for refusing to “accept Western standards of free speech and pluralism”. When the cartoons were originally published in 2005 they were intended to highlight and redress the unequal restrictions applied to Islamic content in European newspapers in comparison with content referring to other religions. The cartoons are also self-referential, with one character in the cartoons writing in Arabic on a blackboard “Jyllands-Posten’s journalists are a bunch of reactionary provocateurs”, and another cartoon showing a cartoonist having to work in hiding because one of the cartoons he is drawing includes an image of the Prophet Mohammad. The text around the cartoons stated:

“The modern, secular society is rejected by some Muslims. They demand a special position, insisting on special consideration of their own religious feelings. It is incompatible with contemporary democracy and freedom of speech, where you must be ready to put up with insults, mockery and ridicule. It is certainly not always equally attractive and nice to look at, and it does not mean that religious feelings should be made fun of at any price, but that is less important in this context. […] we are on our way to a slippery slope where no-one can tell how the self-censorship will end. That is why Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten has invited members of the Danish editorial cartoonists union to draw Muhammad as they see him. […]”

However, some world leaders have elected to help defuse what could be a major social crisis in Europe and the Middle East. France’s foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said that freedom of the press should be exercised “in the spirit of tolerance”, sentiments which were echoed by United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan. Ursula Plassnik, foreign minister of Austria, said that the European community must “clearly condemn” acts which insult religion. And Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, warned Europe that “any insult to the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) is an insult to more than one billion Muslims and an act like this must never be allowed to be repeated.”

Rasmussen, in an interview with Arabic TV Al arabia, said that “…Danish government condemns any expression and any action which offends people’s religious feelings…” and also said that he does not understand why, as the cartoons were originally published in September, the situation has only truly started to deteriorate in the past week.

In Denmark, there are counter-demonstrations by moderate Muslims saying they don’t want the images banned. Munira Mirza commented that many Muslims “want to be able to say: ‘Hey we’re not children, we can handle criticism, we don’t need special protection – we’re equal’. Many don’t want to be treated as a special group, seen as worthy of more protection from criticism than other groups because of their apparent victim status.”

Religious satirist Stewart Lee commented that Jyllands-Posten had “tried to deal with a subject they don’t know enough about, and this is one of the teething problems of the cross-over of cultures in the world. I’m sure the level of offence is far greater than would have been intended.”

The director (Directeur de publication) of “France Soir“, a French national newspaper was fired in response for publishing a cartoon titled: “Yes, we have the right to (joke about) characterise God” (Oui, on a le droit de caricaturer Dieu). The “France-Soir” web site is presently offline. The cartoon is partially visible on a nouvelobs.com website.

Today, Libération, another French national newspaper, is publishing two of the “Mohammad Cartoons”. Other newspapers across France are asking for their rights to freedom of the press to be defended.

Charlie Hebdo, a well-known satirical newspaper, will publish articles to support cartoonists, freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The general reaction in France seems to be that most citizens except religious people (Catholics, Muslims,…) are astounded by the level of anger against the “Mohammad Cartoons”.

On February 9 2006 Queensland Premier Peter Beattie gave The Courier Mail Newspaper his blessings in publishing the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons/depictions of Muhammad stating that he is a firm believer in free speech and ones freedom of expression.On the very same day he got his legal representative to write to the author of this site photoduck.com demanding he censor material relating to him and his Government.

Although many newspapers have not republished the cartoons in order to avoid backlashes, the drawings have appeared on the Internet and are being revealed at a number of Web sites and blogs. On January 30th, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin placed the drawings on her blog, and encouraged others to do the same.


English Premier League: Week 32 round-up

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The 32nd round of the English Premiership took place this past weekend with both the battles for the league title and the battle against relegation still raging on. The fate of one team has been sealed for the rest of the season as Derby County has been mathematically guaranteed relegation, setting a new league record for earliest relegation. At the top of the table, nothing changed this week as Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool all won.


NASA completes successful test flight of new Ares IX rocket

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NASA completed the first successful space flight of the new Ares I-X rocket yesterday. After delaying the launch 24 hours because of poor weather, Ares lifted off at 11:30 (EDT) in the morning from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The 327-foot tall Ares I-X test vehicle produced 2.6 million pounds of thrust to accelerate the rocket to nearly 3 g’s and Mach 4.76 — just shy of hypersonic speed. It capped its easterly flight at a sub-orbital altitude of 150,000 feet after the separation of its first stage, a four-segment solid rocket booster. After reaching an altitude of about 40 km, the first stage separates from the launch vehicle. The second stage was very brief, reaching around 46,000 metres, before an uncontrolled descent. The Orion capsule model should splash down approximately 230 nautical miles from the launch site. The first stage booster from the test descended for recovery using a parachute braking system.

“This is a huge step forward for NASA’s exploration goals. Ares I-X provides NASA with an enormous amount of data that will be used to improve the design and safety of the next generation of American spaceflight vehicles — vehicles that could again take humans beyond low Earth orbit,” said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C..

The Ares I is a new rocket developed under the Constellation program, part of the Vision for Space Exploration announced in 2004 by then-president George W. Bush. Derived from a booster used on the current United States Space Shuttle, it should help to lift the Orion spacecraft carrying people and supplies for the International Space Station (ISS). The rocket with Orion is also planned to lift the crew to Altair lunar landing module, which will be lifted into orbit using the Ares V heavy-lift rocket.


Poland accuses Belarus of human rights violations

Monday, August 1, 2005

Poland has called for the EU to assist curtailing what it has called human rights abuses in Belarus. Belarusian papers describe this as a ‘dirty political game’, and part of a ‘cold war’ waged on president Alexander Lukashenko.

The Belarusian Riot police with guns and dogs seized the headquarters of the Union of Poles in Belarus, an association representing the 400 thousand ethnic minority Polish people living in western areas of Belarus that were part of Poland until World War II.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International reported a “pattern of deliberate obstruction, harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders” in Belarus. Reporters Without Borders recently accused the Belarusian authorities of hounding and arresting journalists from the country’s Polish minority. Lukashenko has recently closed the country’s main Polish newspaper, printing a bogus paper instead with the same name that praised his regime. Lukashenko accused Poland of an attempt to overthrow his regime by stirring up a peaceful revolution in Belarus like the “orange revolution” in [[Ukraine last year.

The dispute between Poland and Belarus escalated further as Poland responded by recalling its ambassador from Belarus for indefinite consultations and called on the European Union to impose sanctions on the Belarusian leadership.

Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld said a clampdown is under way, aimed at destroying “all elements of political pluralism and independence” in Belarus. France expressed her solidarity with Poland on the issue of human rights in Belarus a day after the EU said it was worried about the situation in the country.

The European Union will finance radio and TV programs to be broadcasted to Belarus.


Sounds Like Transmission Problems

byAlma Abell

If you are on your way somewhere, maybe into the office and all of a sudden you hear a noise that is all new to you. The noise at first is a “clunk” and then you find the car no longer automatically changes from one gear to the next and then all that happens is the engine revs and nothing is happening. Your car is in serious need of help but you’re still not sure of what the problem is, from the sounds of it, it is time for transmission repair in Fort Wayne IN.

There are two types of transmissions commonly used in cars; manual and automatic. Automatic transmissions are probably the more common, there is no need for the driver to worry about gear selection; the transmission does it all. The driver only has to be concerned with drive, park reverse or neutral. This is not the case with a manual transmission; the driver is responsible for changing gears up and down as needed. To drive a manual transmission car most people rely on their hearing, as the reaches a certain RPM the driver intuitively knows when to shift gears. The type of transmission chosen is very much a personal thing.

An automatic transmission is more prone to needing transmission repair in Fort Wayne IN simply because of the complexity of the component. This does not mean for one minute that manual transmissions are free from needing repair, they too need repair periodically. In the case of a manual transmission it is more often the clutch that needs replacing rather the transmission. A clutch that is worn out and failing will not transfer the power properly, it will slip and in many cases it reaches a point where gears cannot even be changed.

With an automatic transmission, it can slip and act strange if the fluid level is down. Depending on how low the fluid level is, it may be that the car cannot be moved. This is one check that the car owner can make.

The first thing that will happen when you take your car in for transmission repair in Fort Wayne IN is for the technicians to perform a full set of diagnostic tests. In most cases the tests will point out what is wrong with the transmission and what needs to be replaced or repaired. The tests are all computerized anymore, the results of the test are very accurate and can indicate whether it’s a simple matter of changing fluid or a full rebuild is in order.

A problem transmission can quickly leave you high and dry, a car that simply won’t budge. If this happens to you transmission repair in Fort Wayne IN appears to be in order, you are invited to contact the technicians at Kruse Auto Repair. Visit KruseAutomotivein.net for more information.


Wikinews’ overview of the year 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Also try the 2008 World News Quiz of the year.

What would you tell your grandchildren about 2008 if they asked you about it in, let’s say, 20 years’ time? If the answer to a quiz question was 2008, what would the question be? The year that markets collapsed, or perhaps the year that Obama became US president? Or the year Heath Ledger died?

Let’s take a look at some of the important stories of 2008. Links to the original Wikinews articles are in all the titles.


Ethics debate surrounds surgery to stunt disabled girl’s growth

Friday, January 5, 2007

An ethical controversy has surged in the United States and elsewhere around nine-year-old Ashley X (her family name has not been released). The disabled girl was operated upon at the request of her parents, to prevent her from growing, menstruating and developing breasts. The parents, who wish to remain anonymous, explain their situation on a blog entitled The “Ashley Treatment”. There have been over 1000 reactions on the blog so far.

Ashley suffers a condition termed static encephalopathy with marked global developmental deficits of unknown etiology, which means brain damage of unknown cause leading to a kind of static condition. She can make sounds, move her arms and kick her legs, but she cannot change her position, eat, walk, talk etc. Many of these children are in poor health and die young, but Ashley is in good health. For all of these functions she depends on her caregivers. Most of the day she passes watching her surrounding, lying on a pillow. Her parents call her their “Pillow Angel”, “since she is so sweet and stays right where we place her—usually on a pillow.”


Ashley can continue to delight in being held in our arms and will be moved and taken on trips more frequently and will have more exposure to activities and social gatherings.

-Ashley’s Mom and Dad

Ashley’s parents want to keep her at home and care for her themselves, and they want to guarantee their daughter’s quality of life. To this end, they say, Ashley underwent several surgical procedures and medical treatments during a period of three years. To attenuate her growth, Ashley was given high doses of the hormone estrogen. Ashley now measures 4ft 5 (1m 35cm) and weighs around 75 lbs (34 kg), which is below her expected length and weight. Her low body weight and size would improve her comfort, and at the same time facilitate the work of her caregivers.

Surgery to remove her uterus (a procedure called a hysterectomy) and breast buds were performed, so Ashley does not menstruate and will not develop breasts, both of which parents think only would cause her discomfort. Since high estrogen levels can cause menstrual bleeding and breast development, the surgery was also meant to limit these effects. She also underwent surgery to remove her appendix, because it would be difficult to diagnose appendicitis given Ashley’s low communication possibilities.


Google hires Vint Cerf, the “father of the Internet”

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Google announced today, September 8, that they have hired Vinton Cerf, to serve as the Chief Internet Evangelist. He is often referred to as the “father of the Internet”. While working at the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) he played an important role in the development of the Internet. At DARPA he co-designed the TCP/IP protocol, on which the Internet runs.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said “Cerf is clearly one of the great technology leaders of our time”. Cerf has been awarded the National Medal of Technology and the Premio Principe de Asturias de Investigacion Cientifica, or the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research. People Magazine listed Cerf as one the “25 Most Intriguing People” in 1994. In early 2005 Cerf was included among the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) 2004 Turing Award winners. The Turing Award is considered one of the most prestigious computing awards.

Cerf, aged 62, is currently working on developing a new set of planet-to-planet communications protocols for NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Prior to being hired by Google, he worked for MCI, where he led the development of MCI Mail. MCI Mail was the first commercial e-mail service to connect to the Internet. Cerf also serves as the Chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a role he plans to continue.


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