Tobacco manufacturers and retailers fined over UK price fixing

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Tobacco manufacturers and retailers fined over UK price fixing
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Several tobacco manufacturers and retailers in the United Kingdom have been fined a total of £225 million for price fixing. The fines were imposed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) following an investigation lasting seven years. It is the largest penalty ever issued by the OFT for breaches of the 1998 Competition Act, with the case involving two major tobacco makers and numerous British supermarkets.

Together the manufacturers involved, Imperial Tobacco (whose brands include Golden Virginia and Lambert & Butler) and Gallaher Group (who own Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges among others) make almost 90% of all cigarettes and roll-ups sold in the UK. They were fined £112 million and £50 million respectively.

The supermarkets facing the largest penalties were Asda and The Co-operative Group, at £14 million each. Other stores fined were First Quench, Morrisons, Safeway, Shell garages, Somerfield, T&S Stores (now One Stop) and TM Retail. Also taking part in the price fixing were Sainsbury’s, though they received immunity from being fined after alerting the OFT and co-operating with the investigation. Some of the other companies also earned reductions in their fines through co-operation with the OFT.

Similar allegations against Tesco were not pursued due to a lack of evidence.

Imperial Tobacco denied the charges, claiming in a statement that its dealings with the retailers were simply legitimate “promotional arrangements”. They have said they are considering an appeal against the decision.

In a press release the OFT said that the fines would send out a strong message. “Practices such as these, which restrict the ability of retailers to set their resale prices for competing brands independently, are unlawful.” said Simon Williams, OFT Senior Director of Goods. “They can lead to reduced competition and ultimately disadvantage consumers.”

“This enforcement action will send out a strong message that such practices, which could in principle be applied to the sale of many different products, can result in substantial penalties for those who engage in them.”

Company Fine Notes
Imperial Tobacco £112,332,495 Manufacturer
Gallaher Group £50,379,754 Manufacturer
The Co-operative Group £14,187,353
Asda £14,095,933
Safeway £10,909,366 Now part of Morrisons
Morrisons £8,624,201
Somerfield £3,987,950 Now part of The Co-operative group
Shell £3,354,615
TM Retail £2,668,991
First Quench £2,456,528 Now in administration
T&S Stores £1,314,095 Now One Stop, part of Tesco
Sainsbury’s £0 Granted immunity from fines
Total £224,311,281

Posted on September 18th 2019 in Uncategorized

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green Party candidate Brett McKenzie, London North Centre

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green Party candidate Brett McKenzie, London North Centre
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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Brett McKenzie is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the London North Centre riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

Posted on September 10th 2019 in Uncategorized

Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds

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Asbestos controversy aboard Scientology ship Freewinds
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Controversy has arisen over the reported presence of blue asbestos on the MV Freewinds, a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. According to the Saint Martin newspaper The Daily Herald and the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed in April and local public health officials on the Caribbean island of Curaçao where the ship is docked began an investigation into the presence of asbestos dust on the ship. Former Scientologist Lawrence Woodcraft supervised work on the ship in 1987, and attested to the presence of blue asbestos on the Freewinds in an affidavit posted to the Internet in 2001. Woodcraft, a licensed architect by profession, gave a statement to Wikinews and commented on the recent events.

According to The Daily Herald, the Freewinds was in the process of being renovated by the Curaçao Drydock Company. The article states that samples taken from paneling in the ship were sent to the Netherlands, where an analysis revealed that they “contained significant levels of blue asbestos”. An employee of the Curaçao Drydock Company told Radar Online in an April 30 article that the Freewinds has been docked and sealed, and confirmed that an article about asbestos ran in the local paper.

Lloyd’s List reported that work on the interior of the Freewinds was suspended on April 27 after health inspectors found traces of blue asbestos on the ship. According to Lloyd’s List, Frank Esser, Curaçao Drydock Company’s interim director, joined Curaçao’s head of the department of labor affairs Christiene van der Biezen along with the head of the local health department Tico Ras and two inspectors in an April 25 inspection of the ship. “We are sending someone so that they can tell us what happened, where it came from, since when it has been there,” said Panama Maritime Authority’s director of merchant marine Alfonso Castillero in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

The Church of Scientology purchased the ship, then known as the Bohème, in 1987, through an organization called Flag Ship Trust. After being renovated and refitted, it was put into service in June 1988. The ship is used by the Church of Scientology for advanced Scientology training in “Operating Thetan” levels, as well as for spiritual retreats for its members. Curaçao has been the ship’s homeport since it was purchased by the Church of Scientology.

According to his 2001 statement, Lawrence Woodcraft had been an architect in London, England since 1975, and joined Scientology’s elite “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) in 1986. He wrote that he was asked by the Sea Org to work on the Freewinds in 1987, and during his work on the ship “noticed a powdery blue fibrous substance approximately 1 ½” thick between the paint and the steel wall,” which he believed to be asbestos. He also discovered what he thought was blue asbestos in other parts of the ship, and reported his findings to Church of Scientology executives. Woodcraft discussed his experiences in a 2001 interview published online by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a now-defunct organization which was critical of the Church of Scientology.

The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw responded to Radar Online about the asbestos reports, in an email published in an article in Radar on May 1. “The Freewinds regularly inspects the air quality on board and always meets or exceeds US standards,” said Pouw. She stated that two inspections performed in April “confirmed that the air quality is safe,” and asserted that the inspections revealed the Freewinds satisfies standards set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Pouw told Radar that “The Freewinds will be completing its refit on schedule.” The Church of Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) had been planning a cruise aboard the Freewinds scheduled for May 8, but according to Radar an individual who called the booking number for the cruise received a message that the cruise had been delayed due to ongoing work on the ship. Citing an article in the Netherlands Antilles newspaper Amigoe, Radar reported on May 6 that a team from the United States and supervised by an independent bureau from the Netherlands traveled to Curaçao in order to remove asbestos from the Freewinds.

…if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff.

“I stand by everything I wrote in my 2001 affidavit,” said Lawrence Woodcraft in an exclusive statement given to Wikinews. Woodcraft went on to state: “I would also comment that if the Church of Scientology claims to have removed the blue asbestos, I just don’t see how, it’s everywhere. You would first have to remove all the pipes, plumbing, a/c ducts, electrical wiring etc. etc. just a maze of stuff. Also panelling as well, basically strip the ship back to a steel hull. Also blue asbestos is sprayed onto the outer walls and then covered in paint. It’s in every nook and cranny.”

Many Scientologist celebrities have spent time aboard the Freewinds, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Chick Corea, Lisa Marie Presley, Catherine Bell, Kate Ceberano, and Juliette Lewis. Now magazine reported that Tom Cruise has been urged to seek medical attention regarding potential asbestos exposure, however a representative for Cruise stated he has “absolutely no knowledge” of the recent asbestos controversy. Cruise, Holmes, Travolta and Preston have celebrated birthdays and other events on the Freewinds.

There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.

In a May 15 statement to the United Kingdom daily newspaper Metro, a representative for the Church of Scientology said that “There is not now and never has been a situation of asbestos exposure on the Freewinds.” The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Center notes that agencies have recommended anyone who has spent time on the Freewinds consult with their physician to determine if possible asbestos exposure may have affected their health.

Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970. Blue asbestos fibers are very narrow and thus easily inhaled, and are a major cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium sac surrounding the heart. The cancer is incurable, and can manifest over 40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

“This is the most dangerous type of asbestos because the fibres are smaller than the white asbestos and can penetrate the lung more easily,” said toxicologist Dr. Chris Coggins in a statement published in OK! Magazine. Dr. Coggins went on to note that “Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, the victim has six months to a year to live. It gradually reduces lung function until the victim is no longer able to breathe and dies.”

Posted on September 10th 2019 in Uncategorized

News briefs:July 14, 2010

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News briefs:July 14, 2010
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Wikinews Audio Briefs Credits
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Posted on September 7th 2019 in Uncategorized

Lobby groups oppose plans for EU copyright extension

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Lobby groups oppose plans for EU copyright extension
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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
Posted on August 24th 2019 in Uncategorized

Stolen minibus recovered 35 years after theft

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Stolen minibus recovered 35 years after theft
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Friday, November 6, 2009

A 1965 Volkswagen minibus that was stolen in 1974 has been recovered by customs agents in Los Angeles. The vintage minibus was in pristine condition, valued at $25,000, and was found during a routine inspection of a shipping container scheduled for departure to The Netherlands. A routine computer database search on its vehicle identification number flagged it as having been stolen from a vehicle upholstery shop in Spokane, Washington on July 12, 1974. A custom restoration business in Arizona was attempting to deliver it to overseas clients last month when authorities intercepted the vehicle.

“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?”

The theft appeared on the National Insurance Crime Bureau database, which is used by border authorities and contains all stolen vehicle records. Most police databases remove unsolved vehicle thefts after five years.

The California Highway Patrol does not suspect the restorer of wrongdoing, according to investigating officer Mike Maleta. Possession of the vehicle apparently changed several times. Police in Spokane have not yet located the rightful owner, whose identity has not been released to the press. Maleta hopes that a trail of registration documents and interviews will uncover the thief.

“[The restoration firm owner is] a victim himself. He was an innocent purchaser…”

The Allstate insurance company paid $2500 shortly after the theft occurred and wants to take possession of the vintage minibus. Allstate spokeswoman Megan Brunet expects that after the necessary paperwork is processed the firm will sell it at auction.

Posted on August 23rd 2019 in Uncategorized

Bucharest to be ‘rebranded’ for 800 million euro

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Bucharest to be ‘rebranded’ for 800 million euro
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Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Bucharest, Romania — The city centre of Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is set to get a major facelift due to a real estate project called Esplanada (The Esplanade), which will be constructed by TriGranit Development Corporation. The total investment in the project will be greater than 800 million euro and aims to build a modern commercial pedestrian area in downtown Bucharest, with several shopping malls, office buildings, hotels and dwellings. It will be the largest real estate program in Romania since the fall of Communism in 1989.

Bucharest is currently looking at possibilities to improve its appearance and rebrand itself as a lively, creative and vibrant city. Many initiatives have sprung up to improve the city, including the organisation of CowParade later this year. Additionally, the old town centre will be restored. Due to Romania’s current economic boom, several other major construction projects are taking place.

Bucharest City Hall has blocked traffic in the city center due both to the old town restoration and to the Esplanada project.

Posted on August 23rd 2019 in Uncategorized

Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students/OH-WY

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Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students/OH-WY
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See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list and for an alphabetically arranged listing of schools.

Due to the damage by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding, a number of colleges and universities in the New Orleans metropolitan area will not be able to hold classes for the fall 2005 semester. It is estimated that 75,000 to 100,000 students have been displaced. [1]. In response, institutions across the United States and Canada are offering late registration for displaced students so that their academic progress is not unduly delayed. Some are offering free or reduced admission to displaced students. At some universities, especially state universities, this offer is limited to residents of the area.

Contents

  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Ohio
  • 3 Oklahoma
  • 4 Oregon
  • 5 Pennsylvania
  • 6 Rhode Island
  • 7 South Carolina
  • 8 South Dakota
  • 9 Tennessee
  • 10 Texas
  • 11 Utah
  • 12 Vermont
  • 13 Virginia
  • 14 Washington
  • 15 West Virginia
  • 16 Wisconsin
  • 17 Wyoming
Posted on August 23rd 2019 in Uncategorized

German beer company Eichbaum issues public apology for printing Saudi Arabian flag on beer bottle caps

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German beer company Eichbaum issues public apology for printing Saudi Arabian flag on beer bottle caps
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Monday, May 14, 2018

On Friday, German beer company Eichbaum issued a public apology and said they have halted their marketing campaign of printing caps of beer bottles with flags of 32 countries participating in next month’s FIFA World Cup in Russia. Saudi Arabia’s flag printed on a beer bottle was condemned by many on social networking platforms.

Alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia. It is considered haraam in Islam, meaning Muslims are prohibited from consuming alcohol. Saudi Arabia’s flag bears the Islamic shahada, or the creed “Kalimat al-Tawheed”, that is “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammed is the messenger of Allah” ((ar))Arabic language: ???? ?????? ?????? ???? ????????? ??????? ????. Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Germany published a statement on Twitter saying printing the flag with shahada on beer beverage “constitutes a violation to the holiness of the word, an insult to the flag and a provocation against the feelings of Muslims”.

The Mannheim-based company, in their statement, said, “We have no interest in religious or political manifestations — certainly not about our products. If we have offended you unintentionally, we apologise.” Company’s marketing director Holger Vatter-Schönthal said, “We did not know that the characters were a creed. We have only checked whether the flags of the participants are correct.”

The marketing strategy was condemned by Saudi Arabia’s embassy in German capital Berlin. Eichbaum said they are trying to remove all the beer bottles bearing the Saudi Arabian flag.

Posted on August 4th 2019 in Uncategorized

Australian nuclear power plants rejected by states

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Australian nuclear power plants rejected by states
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Monday, June 5, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian nuclear debate

Australian media reports that Prime Minister John Howard is expected to push a nuclear energy inquiry through federal cabinet this week. Meanwhile, a list of possible sites for nuclear reactors has been leaked by the Opposition to media. The locations, listed in 1997, include Adelaide, Darwin, Perth, Lucas Heights, Goulburn, Holsworthy, and Broken Hill in New South Wales and other sites.

West Australian (WA) premier Alan Carpenter says the list of fourteen potential sites were a “facade to soften up Western Australians into accepting a nuclear waste dump.” The WA Premier said people would not only be surprised but “stunned to learn that the federal cabinet considered possible sites… without disclosing them to any state government.”

Mr Carpenter said in a media release that the document mentions a site near Perth airport. “People should wake up to what’s happening around Australia, particularly in WA,” said Mr. Carpenter. “Only a few weeks ago, we had three prominent WA Liberal MPs supporting a nuclear waste dump in WA,” he said. “This is all a facade in the Howard Government’s push to soften up West Australians for a nuclear waste dump.”

Premier Carpenter, whose Labor government stridently opposes uranium mining in WA, stated his opposition to a nuclear waste dump: “I vehemently oppose the prospect of our State becoming the dumping ground for the world’s nuclear waste and that is what will happen if we allow uranium mining in WA. The evidence is mounting and indisputable.”

The South Australian Government has ruled out any possible nuclear power plant in SA. “A nuclear power plant would bankrupt our state,” SA Premier Mike Rann said. “It would not be commercially viable and would not, in my view, be acceptable to the public. Nuclear power plants need giant populations to sustain them, there is no-one coming to me from the commercial sector or the mining industry or anywhere else, suggesting a nuclear power plant.”

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said South Australia should build a nuclear power station to run a desalination plant. Premier Rann dismissed the idea as ridiculous and said comments by Mr Downer highlight divisions within Federal Cabinet. He said Mr Downer is at odds with the Federal Finance Minister Nick Minchin, who says the high costs of nuclear power would rule it out.

Mr Rann says South Australia will not allow nuclear power. “For once I’m agreeing with Nick Minchin,” he said. “I think Nick Minchin is right that a nuclear power plant isn’t necessary and won’t happen and I think that Alexander Downer is having a bit of a lend of him.”

Victoria’s Energy Minister Theo Theophanous said nuclear energy in Australia did not make sense when the cost and problems of waste disposal were considered. Mr Theophanous has rejected a report that found nuclear power could be competitive with conventional energy generation if it was subsided with help from a taxpayer subsidy.

A recent report found nuclear power could compete with gas or coal-fired electricity if taxpayers helped to pay for it or shouldered the risk of its production. The ANSTO report found nuclear plants could be built in the next 10 to 15 years and an Australian version would cost about $2.5 billion to establish. To make it viable, taxpayers would pay hundreds of million towards start-up costs, said the report.

But Mr Theophanous said Victoria had already had concluded the nuclear proposal did not add up. “I had my department look at this and provide a report to me more than a year ago in relation to the prospect of nuclear power,” he said. “The problem is a commercial one as much as anything else. It costs roughly double the price to produce power out of nuclear energy. If you’re going to pay double the price, why not put in wind farms? Why not use renewable energy, which is even cheaper than nuclear energy?” said Mr Theophanous .

The Victoria Government urges householders to reduce greenhouse emissions by reducing daily energy consumption. A new campaign identifies simple measures residents can adopt to cut power bills and greenhouse emissions, including turning the heating thermostat to no more than 20C, washing clothes in cold water and turning appliances off at the switch when they are not being used.

New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma has also declared his opposition to nuclear power. He said no nuclear power stations would be built in NSW as long as he is premier. Mr Iemma urged state opposition leader Peter Debnam to join him in opposing the construction of nuclear power plants in NSW. “While ever I’m premier of NSW there won’t be any nuclear power plants in NSW,” he told reporters.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie says he “would not jeopardize the state’s coal industry by supporting a nuclear power plant.” Mr. Beattie has ruled out uranium mining in Queensland to protect the state’s huge coal industry. He said he would not support a nuclear power plant. “The State Government would not support it,” Mr. Beattie said.

“We have the power to block them and we would block them, we would not support nuclear power. Why would we have a nuclear reactor in competition with the coal industry?” Mr. Beattie told media.

Posted on July 27th 2019 in Uncategorized