Strike ballot to go ahead despite British Telecom’s belated new pay offer
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Strike ballot to go ahead despite British Telecom’s belated new pay offer



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The UK’s Communication Workers’ Union have effectively rejected a belated revised pay offer by telecoms giant British Telecom. Their statement, released early this evening, indicates a formal ballot on strike action is inevitable – unless the company revises their two percent offer for 2010.

The deadline set by the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) passed at noon last Friday, apparently unheeded by BT. The union’s announcement of their intent to ballot members apparently resulted in the offer — one with no new money on the table for this year.

Last week, when their ultimatum was ignored, CWU deputy secretary general (DSG) Andy Kerr expressed deep disappointment, citing the substantial profits made by the company in the last financial year: “[w]e’re obviously very disappointed that BT has not improved its pay offer of 2% despite their healthy profits this year.”

The turnaround from losses of £244 million to a billion-pound-plus profit has, the union claims, galvanised their membership into seriously considering industrial action. Reports of senior directors receiving million-pound bonuses, and former Labour minister Patricia Hewitt landing over over £50,000 extra per-year, are characterised as “directors’ ‘snouts in the trough'”. Hewitt was suspended from her parliamentary party in March over cash-for-access accusations, and works two to three days each month on BT’s remuneration committee.

The UK’s Press Association described the now-rejected offer as being worth 2% this year, and an additional 3% in 2011 with staff bonuses of up to £250. The package supposedly contains pledges on no compulsory redundancies and the return of call centre and non-frontline work from outsource companies in India.

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Wikinews called both the Communication Workers’ Union, and British Telecom, seeking clarification on a number of points. Richard Knowles, a BT press officer in London, forwarded their terse sub-400-word statement, refusing to be drawn on reports that the offer includes the repatriation of call centre and back-office jobs. When challenged on this work being carried out in a jurisdiction with less-stringent data protection, and computer misuse legislation, our reporter was referred back to the company’s statement.

Sian Jones of the CWU’s Press Office, commenting prior to the union’s evening statement, remarked that repatriation of call centre work was an issue that the union had prior, unrelated, discussions with BT about; she gave no indication to Wikinews this was, or was not, part of BT’s revised offer.

The press release, shortly after 1630 BST, expressed clear intent to carry on with the process of balloting members on strike action. In the statement, CWU DGS Andy Kerr states, “[w]e’re very disappointed that BT’s revised offer remains materially unchanged for this year in terms of pay.”

Continuing, he emphasised, “[…] we’ve made clear, 2 per cent is unacceptable for our members as it does not reflect the reward they expect given the contribution they have made to cost savings of £1.75 billion and profits of over £1bn. In addition, inflation is at 5.3 per cent and staff are comparing this offer with the large salary rises and bonuses for senior executives which expose the blatant double standards being adopted by the company when it comes to remuneration.”

The CWU statement also expresses concern over BT’s disclosure of details within the offer; “BT’s decision to leak their offer to the media today has also raised trust issues for us with the company.”

Any sustained action by CWU members in BT’s employ could have a major impact on the country’s communication infrastructure. Millions of UK households and businesses are reliant on BT for internet access – in addition to telephony services.

Following the release of their statement, the CWU’s Sian Jones confirmed that the union had not, as-yet, given BT the formal seven-days notice of balloting members on strike action.

Any ballot would run for a two-week period; following such, the union would, again, be required to give seven days notice to BT; this time of their intent to take workers out on strike. She emphasised, “nobody wants to be on strike”, stressing that the union last took such action in 1987, and would prefer round-table discussions and an improved offer.

The structure of BT’s privatisation, and breakup to permit level playing-field telephony and broadband competition, would see other Internet service providers who rely on the ageing, once GPO-owned, copper POTS infrastructure unable to resolve customer faults. According to the CWU, BT has been querying managerial staff on their skillsets – as a form of preparation for any industrial action. A union spokesperson described this as “laughable”.

When called for comment on the union’s rejection of their revised offer, the BT press office declined to comment at this time.


Improve Your Salon Business With Summit Salon In Kansas City


byAlma Abell

While many salon owners and stylists do “all right” when it comes to running their own shops, there is always room for improvement for those who invest in the mechanics of the business.

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Improving Your Business

Summit Salon

What better way to capture and enhance passion for the field of cosmetology than an all-original Summit Salon training program? This 3.5-day program focuses on business and leadership building to help you create that sales-oriented, team-driven, exceptionally-led group that you’ve always wanted.

This program is built around building valuable skills to your personal or team business:

  • Bringing first- and second-year employees to a level of performance that surpasses even the average five- to ten-year employee.
  • Empowering your team to break out of their rut and becoming a high-level valuable mentor and team player example for your new employees.
  • Creating a team environment centered around growth where employees take pride and responsibility in transferring the Summit Salon system to members of your team who are new.
  • Learning to manage your business with a higher understanding of the truths of business.
  • Improving all possible facets of guest service.
  • Never again being held hostage and implementing new “grow your own” employee standards and expectations.

To learn more on how this training and conference can benefit you and your team as well as the cost and fees, visit the website Zhairacademy.com.


Australian rules football: 2010 Gippsland Football League round 2 – Traralgon v Wonthaggi
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Australian rules football: 2010 Gippsland Football League round 2 – Traralgon v Wonthaggi



Saturday, April 17, 2010

Traralgon, Victoria —Traralgon defeated Wonthaggi this past Saturday in round two of the Gippsland Football League (officially Gippsland League, GL). Traralgon came off a thirty eight point win against Moe with Wonthaggi beating Leongatha by a single point.

April 17, 2010
Trearalgon Maroons 16-14 110
Wonthaggi Power 6-9 45
Recreation ReserveTraralgon, VictoiraAustralia

With two goals separating the teams at the end of the first quarter and three and half time, Wonthaggi looked like they could upset the 2009 Grand Finalists. Traralgon, however, had other ideas, pushing their lead to five goals at the end of the third quarter and kicking five goals and six behinds to Wonthaggi’s sole behind in the final quarter.

In other round two matches, Warrgul lost to Sale, Leongatha lost to Morwell, and Maffra defeated Moe.

Around the Grounds

April 3Warragul 10-7 67 db Sale 16-10 106

April 10Leongatha 12-11 83 db Morwell 19-12 126Maffra 18-14 122 d Moe 7-11 53

ByeDrouin

The Gippsland Football League is considered one of the “major leagues” controlled by the Victorian Country Football League, the governing body of Australian rules football in regional Victoria, Australia.

At the league’s annual general meeting in December, it changed it’s name from the West Gippsland Latrobe Football League. At the same meeting, Wonthaggi joined the GL after dominating the Alberton Football League during the past decade. Wonthaggi made five concecutive Alberton Grand Finals winning three, losing only to Yarram (2007) and Stony Creek (2009).

Wonthaggi Power Football Club is a result of a merger between Wonthaggi Blues, a former Gippsland FL team, and Wonthaggi Rovers, an Alberton FL team. In February, the Gippsland Football League announced that Wonthaggi would be changing their uniforms, because their original one was similar to that of Warragul.


Remote Assistance service of Windows OS vulnerable to attack
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Remote Assistance service of Windows OS vulnerable to attack



Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Until a patch is issued, Microsoft recommends that users close or block TCP port 3389, the port opened when the Remote Assistance service of its Microsoft Windows operating system (OS) is enabled. The Remote Assistance feature is a service of the OS that allows Internet Technology administrators of corporate workgroups remote access to other desktops to perform maintenance and other configuration tasks from their own computer. It can also be used by on-line tech support sites. A support assistant can go into a user’s machine, if the service is enabled, and themself make changes directly to another person’s computer to resolve an issue.

To initialize the remote assistance feature, the user of the helper computer must first make a request of the user of the target computer. Compliance must be granted by the user of the target machine, which then fully opens the communication port of the target machine to the helper computer. The operator of the helper computer then has control of target computer to make changes at will. The user of the target machine can watch in a separate window the actions of the helper, and either party to the session can end it at any time.

In a telephone conversation with a Microsoft representative Tuesday, it was learned that work to develop a security patch is underway, but when it will be available is unclear. It was cited that a patch must work consistently across multiple platform versions of the OS.

The vulnerability, thought at first to affect only Windows XP SP2, is now believed to affect all current Windows editions, including Windows 2000, Windows XP SP1, Windows XP Professional x64, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 SP1, and Windows Server x64.

The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is not enabled by default, however if the service is enabled, a Denial of Service attack could cause the OS to restart unexpectedly according to Microsoft, or experience buffer overflows according to Symantec. The RDP is enabled by default on Windows XP Media Center Edition.

Microsoft suggests users block TCP port 3389 (the port used by RDP) on their firewall, or disable Terminal Services or Remote Desktop if not required by the user. The remote desktop connections could also be secured using either Internet Protocol Security or a virtual private network connection until a patch is ready.

To disable Remote Assistance on a Windows XP Edition, the steps are:

  1. click ‘Start’, right-click ‘My Computer’, select ‘Properties’
  2. select ‘Remote’ tab on top of the ‘Systems Properties’ window, clear checkbox that says “Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be sent from this computer.”
  3. click ‘Apply’ button

The group, Internet Storm Center, detected spikes in scanning for port 3389 beginning July 6. Larger numbers of systems scanned were reported on July 13. Crackers may be scanning for vulnerable machines, the group said.

“It’s a kernel vulnerability,” said VP of engineering for Symantec Alfred Huger, “so it will be difficult to exploit reliably. But he [the original discoverer] found the vulnerability with a commonly-used tool, so if he can find it, so can others. I don’t think it will turn it into a large-scale worm, but then, some kernel vulnerabilities have ended up as just that, like the Witty worm.”

[edit]


Past Eurovision contestants give advice to this year’s performers, speculate on who will win
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Past Eurovision contestants give advice to this year’s performers, speculate on who will win



Sunday, May 10, 2009

It happens once a year. Nearly all of Europe’s eyes are on 25 musical acts on finale night. Whether you love it or you hate it, it has your attention. Hundreds of millions are watching them. Whether viewers are waiting for the performance of a lifetime or a hilarious slip-up, for those three minutes their attention is owned by each respective singer.

That’s the feeling that the entrants in Moscow will know on Saturday, and it’s also the same feeling the eight singers who were interviewed by Wikinews have experienced. Last week, eight singers from eight different countries took time out of their various schedules to discuss their favorite moments from competing, their own personal anecdotes, advice they give to the performers this year in Moscow, who they think will win, and most importantly to them, what they’re doing now and what they’re offering to their audience.

This is the sixth and final interview set the English Wikinews will publish in the run-up to the semi-final and final rounds of the Eurovision Song Contest. Mike Halterman conducted all interviews, and will conduct additional interviews after the Contest. The final round airs May 16 at 9 p.m. CET; check with your national broadcaster’s website for possible delays. Where available, the Contest’s final round will also be broadcast on national radio.


Jessica Garlick, originally from Kidwelly in Wales, became famous in 2001 for her participation in the singing competition Pop Idol, where she finished in ninth place. Four months later, she won A Song for Europe, the British national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, and went on to represent the United Kingdom two months later at the Eurovision 2002 final in Tallinn, with the song “Come Back.” She placed third, which turned out to be the best result for the United Kingdom for the decade. Now 27, married and a mother, Jessica Garlick is returning to music with a new set of priorities.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Jessica Garlick: Right now I’m busy promoting my new single “Hard Not to Fall” which is due to be released this month…it’s available to download from iTunes from 9th May, with the official release being 25th May. I’m also currently co-writing my album, which will be released later on this year. It really does feel great to be back in the music industry.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Jessica Garlick: Some of my best memories from doing Eurovision would be visiting Estonia, I don’t think it’s a place I’d ever have visited if it wasn’t for performing there, and it really is beautiful. While I was there during the week I had the opportunity to fly out into the Baltic Sea via helicopter and spend the afternoon on board HMS Chatham too. I was allowed to drive the frigate, and got to perform to the troops on board, who were so appreciative.

I have so many more, and met such amazing people during the whole promotion and run-up period as well as the Eurovision week itself. My only regret is not taking as many photos as I would have liked to. So my advice to others doing Eurovision would be [to] definitely take lots of pictures, and really enjoy your performance and everything that representing your country brings with it.

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Jessica Garlick: I have been fortunate enough to have been able to perform alongside some of this year’s Eurovision entries, and was totally impressed! I love the Iceland entry this year…the song “Is it True?” is a really beautiful ballad, and Johanna sings it really well! I would say that from a song point of view, this is definitely my favourite song.

I do, however, think that the Ukraine could win this year! Svetlana‘s performance is crazy!! She’s absolutely wild! Her live performance is out of control! She is definitely “in it to win it”, and is going all out to ensure she does everything to make this happen. She is one to watch on the night for sure! There will definitely be something amazing going on on stage during her performance. She’ll keep you captivated, and make it memorable!!

((Mike Halterman)) A lot of the fans you had from when you were on Pop Idol and Eurovision 2002 don’t know the reason why you dropped out of music and out of sight. What happened? Also, do you find it difficult returning to the music industry after being away for six years?

Jessica Garlick: After Pop Idol and Eurovision I started to write songs…something I had never done before, and didn’t think I would be any good at. But I have been fortunate enough to travel the world since, co-writing with some of the world’s best songwriters. I decided to take a step out of the industry for a while in 2004 when I got married to my teenage sweetheart Owen.

I lost my passion for music for a while if I’m honest and we wanted to travel together for a bit, and actually moved to Australia for a short time, before I got totally broody. So in 2007 I gave birth to my little girl Olivia, and have been doing the wife and at-home mummy thing since, which I absolutely love!!

I made the decision to get back in the studio and start writing again in January of this year and it felt so good, and when I recorded “Hard Not to Fall” I knew it was a song that I wanted everyone to hear, and I completely got my passion and drive back for it. The music industry has changed a lot since I was last in it…but in actual fact it’s working better for me this time.

I have a lot more control, which is important to me, especially with Olivia being my main priority…I am first and foremost a mum, and I want to be a good one at that, and I’m also working with people that I really like and trust, which makes working together fun, and music should be fun. It’s definitely a lot harder this time around, as I am juggling “real life” too, and I can’t afford to be the selfish person that being successful in the industry can sometimes mean you have to be. I’m having the most wonderful time being back though, and am almost astounded by the great support I have from all my old fans. They’re the best!!

Ani Lorak, born Karolina Kuiek (the name “Ani Lorak” is “Karolina” spelled backwards), first became famous for her vocal talent in Russia and her native Ukraine in 1995. She took part in arguably the biggest performance of her career at Eurovision in 2008, placing second with the song “Shady Lady.” Celebrating her 30th birthday in September, she has kept up a busy schedule, including the release of a new album.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Ani Lorak: I’ve just released my new album called “Sontse” (The Sun). The album was written and recorded in Greece at the “VOX studio” by Dimitris Kontopoulos, who also helped with the song “Shady Lady” for Eurovision 2008. The album will be released not only in Ukraine but also in Russia.

In the autumn I plan to start a large tour of 25 cities in support of the new album. Also, we are planning to play some solo concerts in the Palace “Ukraine” in Kiev. I was pleasantly surprised when, at the beginning of the year, an award came to my office from the British radio station “Eurovision Song Contest Radio.” By audience vote, its listeners named me the “Best Female Singer for 2008” for my song “Shady Lady.” I don’t like to think ahead and to anticipate, but I’ll try to do as much as my energies will allow so people can be fulfilled in the future.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Ani Lorak: Because I participated in the contest only in 2008, I can remember it all: during the promotional tour I visited many countries in which I hadn’t been before. I met wonderful people: Dimitris Kontopoulos, Roberto Cavalli; I made new friends and supporters. [Editor’s note: Roberto Cavalli designed the diamond dress Ani Lorak wore during her Eurovision performance.] I had to work very diligently to get the result [I got].

In Eurovision I found the heart of this contest. The “Artistic Award”, which [they] usually hand to the best artist of the contest, [was given to me]; Raffaella Carrà invited me to her television program in Italy, and my tours took me further and further away geographically. I really liked the atmosphere of [the] contest. All the contestants were friendly, happy, helped each other, and supported one another. Those weeks were not simple, but very happy in my life.

I wish to all the participants lots of inspiration, tenacity, crazy energy, hard work and belief in yourself and your strength. It is not unachievable; the main thing is to settle for being frank and sincere to the audience.

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Ani Lorak: I can say one thing – Eurovision is a very unpredictable contest, and to do any predictions is very difficult. I know that in Moscow this year there will be many very well-known professional artists: Sakis Rouvas and Patricia Kaas. The main thing in this contest is to enter the scene and present for your country 200%. I wish good luck to all participants, but I’ll root, as a patriot, for my country.

((Mike Halterman)) What goals have you not achieved yet in your career, but would like to eventually?

Ani Lorak: We have a proverb: “If you want God to laugh, then tell Him about your plans.” It’s important to have enough strength for my professional accomplishments, for my career, and for my eventual creative achievements. But all this must go together with my personal life. I want to realize my self-worth in all spheres. Maybe I’ll open my own clothing line.

But most importantly for me, every day I will raise the bar with regard to my professional development as a singer and artist. The main point – I have everything ahead of me, and I will go to [any lengths to] achieve my dreams — my Oscar is yet to come!

Marija Naumova, who goes by the stage name Marie N, is best-known to European audiences for winning the Eurovision Song Contest for Latvia in 2002 with her song “I Wanna.” The next year, she hosted the Contest in Riga with past Latvian entrant Ren?rs Kaupers. Now 35, she has moved a lot of her focus to musical theatre and is very serious about honing her talent.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Marie N: At this time I am a student at acting school in Paris, so now all [my] plans are more about theatre, but I also started to work on my new album and I hope that at the end of the year I [can] present that to [the] audience, but I think that at the moment it’s too early to talk about it. [smile]

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Marie N: I liked everything during the week we spent there. We really had a lot of fun. The [atmosphere] was very professional, participants were very friendly…but the most emotional [part] was our trip back home – the way from Tallinn to Riga by bus with the police accompanying us and people waiting for us with flowers along the road…

The only advice is to enjoy every moment and especially the three minutes of the presentation – it is really something special. [smile]

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Marie N: I think that there are a lot of songs which have chances to win, but it depends on the energy that [the] singers will bring with them [to] the stage on that special evening.

((Mike Halterman)) Which task was more fun for you, winning Eurovision or hosting it the next year? Which one made you more nervous, and why?

Marie N: Of course singing was more fun than the hosting because you are responsible only for yourself, but hosting brings a responsibility for the whole show. I wish all the best for all the participants; enjoy. [smile]

Niels Olsen, nicknamed “Noller,” (pictured, left) and his older brother Jørgen (right) make up the duo The Olsen Brothers. A well-known act in Denmark since the early 1970s, the duo successfully staked a new claim to relevance by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2000 with the entry “Fly on the Wings of Love.” Now 55, Niels Olsen uses every chance possible to let his audience know that age is simply a number, especially in Eurovision which tends to favor younger entrants.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Niels Olsen: We are working on a new album and we will make a small tour to Sweden, Norway and Denmark for the rest of the year, so that’s what our fans can expect. The album will be released in 2010.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Niels Olsen: The best memory…well, it’s hard to say…we had a lot of fantastic memories from Stockholm in 2000. We will never forget the love we received from the public in all the European countries right after Stockholm, and the response from the Swedish people at the event. Apropos, I said to my brother after the first performance, “Well, Jørgen, I think it could be possible for us to have a hit in Sweden!!”

I would say to a “new” artist: Remember that you are not the center of the universe, and in a world perspective, the situation is not that bad if you lose the Eurovision. Stick to the ones you love and try to involve people you believe in, not the ones who promise you everything in life. In our case we have had the same manager for 35 years, we have been working with our friend and producer Stig Kreutzfeldt for 25 years, and so on. We have [made] several hits the last 35 years with these fantastic friends.

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Niels Olsen: Well, I haven’t heard all the songs, but I personally find the Danish, the English, and the Swedish songs very nice, but as I [said], I haven’t heard all the songs yet.

((Mike Halterman)) The Danish version of your winning song implies women “get better with age.” Which women in the entertainment industry do you think personify that sentiment, and why?

Niels Olsen: Personally I think my wife is still a beautiful woman, but I think as you said “getting better with age” is not the right word. My wife is still a lively and attractive woman, and we are both in love with life. I also think that a woman like Annie Lennox is a beautiful woman, even though she is past 50. (Sorry, [I know] we don’t talk about a woman’s age normally. Sorry, Miss Lennox.)

Hanna Pakarinen, from Lappeenranta in Finland, first became well-known in her home country for winning the Idols television series in 2004. In 2007, she was chosen to represent Finland at Eurovision, placing 17th in the final with the song “Leave Me Alone.” Her most recent album went gold this year, and she celebrated her 28th birthday last month, her combined CD sales having risen to over 180,000.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Hanna Pakarinen: I released my fourth album “Love in a Million Shades” earlier this year, and now I’m doing gigs around Finland.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Hanna Pakarinen: I think the best memory is the moment when I got up on stage in the finals. That was amazing!

It’s hard to give any advice, but I think the only thing that’s important is just to be yourself and have fun. [smile]

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Hanna Pakarinen: Of course I think the best song is the Finnish song. [smile] It’s very hard to say who is going to win; it’s the same thing every year, you never know!

((Mike Halterman)) Apart from music, what are some things that are very close to your heart? How would you like to use your popularity to help others?

Hanna Pakarinen: My family and friends, of course, and my hometown and the lake there.

I’m not really a big fan of the idea of being a role model but I’m trying to do my best, showing and telling the fans that the most important thing is to love yourself and be who you are. And always trust yourself, of course!

Charlotte Perrelli, originally Charlotte Nilsson, was an alumnus of two popular “dansbands” in Sweden before winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1999 with the song “Take Me to Your Heaven.” She quickly became one of Sweden’s most popular solo artists, and released six albums which all charted in the Swedish Top 40. In 2008 she returned to Eurovision with the highly favored “Hero,” only to be saved at the last minute by jury decision and ranking a low 18th out of 25 nations in the final round. Perrelli, now 34, discusses her achievements and favorite moments of the past decade.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Charlotte Perrelli: I’m searching for new songs to [include on] my upcoming album. I´m also on the jury for the Swedish TV show Talang (Talent; the Swedish version of the “___’s Got Talent!” TV series). They can expect a new album, hopefully this year.

((Mike Halterman)) You went to Eurovision twice, winning the Contest in 1999 and then also entering last year. What were some of the best memories you had from both times you went to Eurovision?

Charlotte Perrelli: The victory in Jerusalem in ’99 was fantastic, of course. My funniest memory was when Dana [International] fell on-stage, it was unbelievable and I felt sorry for her. Last year I had a lot of memories. Everything was so different from ’99. So much bigger!

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Charlotte Perrelli: I like many of the songs this year, but I believe Norway will win.

((Mike Halterman)) Which of the songs you’ve recorded is your favorite?

Charlotte Perrelli: Hmm. I have many favorites, but “Black and Blue” from my last CD is a great song; [it was] written by Fredrik Kempe. I love the lyrics.

Sirouhi Haroutunyan, nicknamed Sirusho, has been one of the most popular pop singers in Armenia since the release of her first album at age 13. In 2008, she represented Armenia at Eurovision, finishing in fourth place with the song “Qélé, Qélé.” Now 22, she is close to finishing her bachelor’s degree while still keeping up an active pace of performances and studio sessions.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Sirusho: I am currently working on a few big projects, one of them is the new song”Time to Pray” that I have made with my colleagues from Eurovision, Boaz Mauda and Jelena Tomasevic. The song is a protest against war, and the English lyrics are written by the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. I am also working on my fourth album which will be released in [the] summer. I also premiered my new song in Greek, “Erotas”, and it is already number one [on] all the Armenian music charts. My fans are very strong and it’s only a pleasure to work hard for them.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Sirusho: Eurovision is a big fun festival. I don’t want to call it a competition, because the contestants become friends. I wish for the participants to really enjoy [themselves] and not be scared of it. Eurovision can give and take so much; it took my career to a new level, [and] now I work and have fans all over Europe and it’s amazing.

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Sirusho: I have met some of this year’s participants in different countries where I was singing as a guest and they were doing their promo tours. I haven’t seen all the performances so I can’t judge. Also, Eurovision is all about unexpected surprises; that’s what makes it interesting.

((Mike Halterman)) You pursued a bachelor’s degree in international relations. How do you wish to utilize your degree? If you had to stop singing tomorrow, what kind of career would you want to pursue with the degree you hold?

Sirusho: International affairs is something that had interested me. I like to learn. I always tend to learn more but I don’t even want to think about stopping my career. I was born with it, it’s a big part of who I am, and even if something happens to my vocal cords, I can go on with writing and producing songs for my colleagues…[but] enough about that; I still have so much in me to give to myaudience!

Taj?i, born Tatjana Matejaš, shot to fame in Yugoslavia at the age of 19, achieving diamond sales with her signature hit “Hajde da ludujemo (Let’s Go Crazy). She performed the song at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1990, held in her hometown of Zagreb, and placed seventh. The war in the former Yugoslavia cut her career short, and she moved to the United States, where she has lived for the past 17 years. She now tours with her husband across the United States, performing selections of contemporary Christian music. At 38, she is overjoyed to “have it all”: a family of her own and the chance to make music on her own terms. Her career is chronicled on her website.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fans in both America and in Europe expect to see from you this year?

Taj?i: Apart from my regular tours, which I do four a year, I am working on a show called “Need a Break,” which is a bit of a step from my spiritual music and more “everyday.” It’s more what mothers go through, with marriage and kids. It’s a funny show. What I do well is I tell stories. It’s how I am. It’s who I am. It’s why pop music didn’t work for me as an artist. This new format is great for me, it’s very fulfilling and I’m very excited and looking forward to it, being able to do that and explore musical styles.

I’m also hoping to go to Zagreb this year and bring my new music to them. I think it’s time. I’ve been away for 17 years, and they still play my old music, and occasionally I go there and do radio and television interviews…I don’t know, it’s time for them to see what I’m doing. Anyone can see my stuff online, but what I do best is live; there’s a lot of energy and power there that you can’t really see in a recording or in a video. It’s different when you’re actually in the room. I want to bring it to them and say, “Here, my countrymen, my old fans, this is who I am now. This is how I grew over the last 17 years.” Kind of like a reunion.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Taj?i: I really enjoyed performing, I enjoyed the energy, everyone coming together and singing, talking with other people about their careers. That was the highlight. I didn’t care for the press or the competition aspect, but there’s so much to think about, the whole country is looking at you. I don’t think it could ever be just about music, it’s more political. But there’s always stuff that comes with it when you have any kind of gathering like that.

The time I was there, I was the last representative before the fall of Yugoslavia, and it was during the unification of Europe, and everyone was a bit more tense and elevated in that regard…and I was so young to experience all of that. I don’t think I knew what to quite make of it. But it was a great experience, I’ll always remember it. The night of my life, one of them anyway.

It’s also very emotional because the singer who won that year sang about “unite unite, Europe.” It was perfect at that time. After he won, in the green room, he pulled a red rose from the bouquet and gave it to me, and he paid me some compliments. For a 19-year-old girl, that meant a lot.

My advice is to have fun, and do it with all your heart. Don’t do it for the sole reason to win, not to launch your career, but because you love it, and it’s what you do and you’re good at it. You can be an inspiration to someone and it can be more than just providing entertainment.

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at http://www.youtube.com/eurovision . Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Taj?i: Since we’re in the middle of a tour, I kind of scrolled through, and I think the quality of the songs are really wonderful. I feel like I want to pack my bags and go to Europe for the summer, because I think this is going to be a summer for some great club music!

I’m partial to countries [who sing] in their original language, and I can see how a lot of countries, how even when they do the dance number and include ethnic elements, I like that.

I like the guy from Norway, I think he’s so sincere and didn’t look to me like he was “trying” anything, he was just being himself. The song is nice and happy. It doesn’t hurt that he’s really handsome, and has a good aura about him. He had so much energy, and he grabbed me right away, the way he moved, the way he sang, it just pulled me in.

I also love Malta, I’m a fan of the big ballads. She has a beautiful voice. And Cyprus, she “did it” for me too. I also like the French song as well, but I also love the French language in general. Bosnia has a good song too, they have a certain sentiment that they always pull from and it works for them. Croatia, I wasn’t too blown away, but I’m proud of them for still singing in Croatian, even though it may not sound as pretty as English to some people. Everything else, it was like, “It’s beautiful, but I’ve seen it before.”

Everything seems like Hollywood now, I guess because it’s the times we live in now. All the girls are so pretty and the hair and makeup are perfect, and now I feel like an old lady, but I miss the characters from different parts of the world. It’s influenced so much by Hollywood and the Western music industry. It was inevitable, the melting of it [East and West] all into one, so I’m partial to bringing some sort of local element into it. It comes with finding your identity and finding your place in the world as a country.

I volunteer and give my time to a local school and teach the schoolchildren ethnic dances. I live in the Midwest now, but I used to live in Los Angeles and New York where they are a little more aware of ethnic groups. I’m teaching them these dances to give them a little sense of what’s being lost to the new kinds of culture and music. I teach some kids who were adopted from other countries, and I wonder, wow, are they ever going to be able to sing a song in Bulgarian, or Italian, or what have you?

My kids are half-American and half-Croatian, and I see how in my own life, being “globalized” and how people are losing the ethnic folklore and culture and all that, so with my kids, I try to teach them language and how to dance, because it’s the way I grew up.

((Mike Halterman)) I watched a clip of your documentary on YouTube, and I noticed one of the comments, asking you “not to forget your home, Croatia,” and to come back because the fans there miss you. Now that you’ve made a life for yourself in America, do you ever see yourself moving back to Croatia with your family? Which country do you feel more ties and loyalty to, the United States or Croatia, and why?

Taj?i: I want to take the kids and at least spend a year there when they’re teenagers, so I can show them my country and so they can learn different things there. But I don’t know, once you leave, it’s hard to go back. I miss my country, I miss the history. I miss my roots. I miss running into a friend and talking about high school and grade school, stuff that you don’t have when you move away. I love what I do, and I love what America has to offer, and what America did offer to me. There’s a certain kind of freedom that you have that you can’t have in a smaller country.

I will always be Croatian, it doesn’t matter how long I stay here. When I go home to Croatia, when I go there, I feel like I’m home, but when I come back to America, I feel like I’m home here too. I guess I have to say that a person can be “home” anywhere if they have peace within themselves. You’re gonna miss a lot of things about places you have been, and I do miss Croatia. I want to show my kids where I grew up and the parks where I played. That just may be a sentiment I’m going through right now, I don’t know. I have a good life, my husband and kids, and I love being able to make the kind of music I want to, without any contracts or obligations. I’m very happy.


2008-09 Wikipedia for Schools goes online
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2008-09 Wikipedia for Schools goes online



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Monday saw the latest edition of the vetted version of Wikipedia, which is aimed at educational use, go quietly online. The extensively revised version covers over five thousand topics, targeting the eight to seventeen years age group. Partnerships with the Shuttleworth Foundation and the Hole in the Wall project will see it distributed in South Africa and India as well as copies being available globally via the offices of SOS Children UK’s umbrella organisation, SOS Kinderdorf worldwide.

First launched in 2006 as a 4,000 article edition, the extract of Wikipedia has employed hi-tech distribution methods, as well as offering a website version which has steadily climbed up in ranking to above other reviewed Wikipedia rivals and copies; the 2007 version was available on the BitTorrent peer to peer network to keep distribution costs down and was equivalent to a fifteen-volume printed encyclopedia. Monday’s release is compared to a twenty-volume print edition.

Our goal is to make Wikipedia accessible to as many people as possible around the world, and SOS Children is a great partner that helps us make that happen.

Key to the process for selecting articles is the English National Curriculum and similar educational standards around the world. The initial vision was to bring this wealth of knowledge to schools where access to the Internet was poor or unavailable, but copies of Wikipedia for Schools can be found on many first world school intranets and web servers. Among the compelling reasons to adopt the project are the vetting and additional study materials which overcome the oft-publicised concerns many educators have with the million article plus Wikipedia that anyone can edit.

In today’s press release announcing the launch, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner expressed delight at seeing the project bring out a new version, “Our goal is to make Wikipedia accessible to as many people as possible around the world, and SOS Children is a great partner that helps us make that happen. Wikipedia is released under a free content license so that individuals and institutions can easily adapt, reuse and customize its content: we encourage others, like SOS Children, to do exactly that.”

Running 192 schools in the developing world, SOS Children sees Wikipedia for Schools as a key piece in fulfilling the educational aspect of their mission. SOS Children’s Chairwoman, Mary Cockcroft gave us an introduction and, a Wikipedia administrator himself, the charity’s CEO Andrew Cates spoke to Wikinews at length about the project.

You are part of SOS-Kinderdorf International, can you explain a little about how this works in terms of distributing funds raised in the UK and involving UK citizens in work outside the country?

Mary Cockcroft: SOS Children[‘s Villages] is a “club” of member charities in 130 countries helping orphans and vulnerable children. The club elects SOS-Kinderdorf International as secretary. SOS is a large organisation whose members in aggregate turned over $1bn in 2007, and whose projects include owning and running 192 schools and family-based care for 70,000 children. However much of these funds are raised locally, with for example the member charities in each of India, Pakistan and South Africa raise considerably more funds in their own country than SOS UK does from the UK. Nonetheless SOS Children UK principally raises funds to finance projects in the developing world, and has only financially small projects in the UK (such as the Schools Wikipedia, which is very low cost because of extensive use of volunteers). This year we expect about 80% of our UK income will leave the UK for overseas SOS associations, and some of the remaining 20% will pay for project oversight. We do not spend money in the UK on Direct Mail or TV advertising. Our UK office is involved in overseeing projects we finance and a small number of high-skilled volunteers from the UK help overseas. However around 98% of SOS staff worldwide are local nationals, as are most volunteers.

((WN)) How much work does the UK charity actually carry out within the home country? Are there failings within the government system for orphans and other needy children that you feel obliged to remedy?

MC: We are deeply unhappy about the situation of children in out-of-home care in the UK. However our care model of 168 hour-a-week resident mothers does not fit with the UK philosophy for children without parental care. Internationally SOS always has a policy of sharing best practice and we are working to improve understanding of our way of working, which appears to us to have far better outcomes than the existing one in the UK. Ultimately though the legal responsibility for these children lies with government and we cannot remedy anything without their invitation.

((WN)) Who first came up with the idea of doing a vetted Wikipedia extract? What was the impetus? Was it more for the developing world than first world?

Andrew Cates: I honestly cannot remember who first suggested it, but it came from somewhere in the Wikipedia community rather than from the charity. The original product was very much pitched at the developing world where the Internet is only available if at all over an expensive phone line. I worked in West Africa 1993-1996 and I know well at how thirsty for knowledge people are and how ingenious they will be in overcoming technical obstacles if the need for infrastructure is removed.

((WN)) In reading past year’s announcements there’s some pride in the project being picked up and used in the first world, was this expected or a pleasant surprise?

AC: It was a pleasant surprise. I don’t think we had realised what the barriers schools faced in using the main Wikipedia were. It isn’t just pupils posting material about teachers or meeting strangers: the “Random Article” button on every page could potentially deliver an article on hardcore porn. We had already started when discussion broke on banning Wikipedia from classrooms and I am sure we benefited from it.

((WN)) Can you give an outline of the selection and vetting process? Is it primarily Wikipedians working on this, or are people from the educational establishment brought in?

AC: It was a long and painful process, even with a really good database system. Articles were taken into the proposal funnel from three main sources: direct proposals for inclusion from Wikipedians, lists which came from the Release Version team and proposals drawn up from working through National Curriculum subjects by SOS volunteers. In a few cases where we felt articles were missing we asked the community to write them (e.g. Portal:Early Modern Britain, which is a curriculum subject, was kindly written just for us): These “proposals” were then looked at by mainly SOS volunteers (some onwiki, some offline). Our offices are in the middle of Cambridge and we get high quality volunteers, who skim read each article and then compared two versions from the article history by credible WP editors a significant period apart (this picks up most graffiti vandalism which runs at about 3% of articles). Once they had identified a “best” version they marked any sections or text strings for deletion (sections which were just a list of links to other articles not included, empty sections, sex scandals etc). A substantial sample of each volunteers work was then doubled checked for quality by one of two office staff (of whom I was one). We then have a script which does some automated removals and clean ups. Once we had a selection we posted it to relevant wikiprojects and a few “experts” and got any extra steers.

((WN)) Will you be making use of BitTorrent for distribution again this year? Was it a success in 2007?

AC: BitTorrent was a bit disappointing in that it got us the only substantial criticisms we received online. A lot of people find it too much effort to use. However for the period we offered a straight http: download we had huge problems with spiders eating vast bandwidth (the file is 3.5G: a few thousand rogue spider downloads and it starts to hurt). As per last year therefore our main two channels will be free download by BitTorrent and mailing the DVDs free all over the world. At a pinch we will (as before) put straight copies up for individuals who cannot get it any other way, and we have some copies on memory sticks for on distributors.

((WN)) Is it your opinion that the UK Government should be encouraging the adoption of projects like this as mainstream educational resources?

AC: Clearly yes. We have had a very enthusiastic reaction from schools and the teaching community. We think every school should have an intranet copy. We expect the Government to catch on in a few years. That is not to say that Wikipedia is as good as resources developed by teachers for teachers such as lesson plans etc. but it is a fantastic resource.

((WN)) You’re a Wikipedia administrator, all too often a thankless task. What prompted you to get involved in the first place? What are the most notable highs and lows of your involvement with the project?

AC: Funnily the thing I have found most amazing about Wikipedia is not widely discussed, which is the effect of Wikipedia policies on new editors. I have seen countless extreme POV new editors, who come in and try to get their opinions included slowly learn not only that there are other opinions to consider but that elements of their own opinion which are not well founded. Watching someone arrive often (on pages on religions for example) full of condemnation for others, gradually become understanding and diplomatic is one of the biggest buzzes there is. The downside though is where correcting things which are wrong is too painfully slow because you need to find sources. I was a post-doc at Cambridge University in combustion and I know the article on Bunsen burners has several really significant errors concerning the flame structure and flow structure. But sadly I cannot correct it because I am still looking around for a reliable source.

((WN)) Do you believe schools should encourage students to get involved contributing to the editable version of Wikipedia? Does SOS Children encourage those who are multilingual to work on non-English versions?

AC: I think older students have a lot to learn from becoming involved in editing Wikipedia.

((WN)) To close, is there anything you’d like to add to encourage use of Wikipedia for Schools, or to persuade educators to gain a better understanding of Wikipedia?

AC: I would encourage people to feed back to the project online or via the charity. The Wikipedia community set out to help educate the world and are broadly incredibly well motivated to help. As soon as we understand what can be done to improve things people are already on the task.

((WN)) Thank you for your time.


Scientists crack age-old egg problem
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Scientists crack age-old egg problem



Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Scientists in the UK have developed a new way to ensure boiled eggs are perfectly cooked thanks to a brand new hi-tech logo being printed on shells.

After cooking starts, people will be able to see if their egg is soft, medium or hard-boiled with the help of a thermochromic print which appears in black ink on the egg’s shell.

The eggs will be sold to consumers in the UK within the next few months. A spokeswoman for Lion Quality, the assurance scheme which came up with the idea, said: “We had a lot of inquiries from people which sparked an interest in the industry. We said OK, this is a big issue – people can’t even boil an egg.”

Gilly Beaumont, from B&H Colour Change, the company which created the logos, said: “We are still perfecting the technology, but we are very excited at the prospect of sorting a problem that has wound people up at breakfast time for decades.”

The most successful way to cook an egg has baffled some of the greatest chefs in the past. In 1998, Delia Smith dedicated a whole episode of her How To Cook programme on the best way to boil an egg. And last year, a survey carried out by the magazine Waitrose Food Limited showed five top chefs all had different techniques.


New Ghanaian currency introduced
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New Ghanaian currency introduced



Tuesday, July 3, 2007

New currency notes are being introduced in Ghana today. The new currency, to be called the Ghanaian cedi, replaces the previous cedi which has been in circulation since 17 February, 1967.

The Ghanaian cedi will be exchanged at 10,000 old cedis to one new Ghanaian cedi. The exchange rate against the U.S. dollar starts at GH¢0.92 to one U.S. dollar. The new ISO code for the currency is GHS, and the new symbol, GH¢.

The change, which was originally scheduled by the Bank of Ghana to start on July 1, 2007, will instead start on Tuesday July 3, as the original date is Ghana’s Republic Day.

Monday, July 2, was declared a public holiday as the actual Republic Day fell on a Sunday. July 3, is thus the first day that the currency will be available to the public as banks open to the general public. This is because ATMs were shut down over the weekend so that the currencies could be checked and replaced in all of them nationwide. The old and new currencies will be used concurrently until the end of December 2007, when the old currency will cease to be legal tender.

This is the third Ghanaian cedi to be introduced in the country since 1965.


What To Look For In The Best Special Event Venues


byAlma Abell

When you’re looking for the perfect venue to host your special event, you want a place that will make your experience truly special. Knowing what to consider when you start looking for the best space for your event can be the difference between finding a bad venue and a good one.

At Black Bear Lake, we know what it takes to have the best special event venues possible. Take a page out of our book and check out these top tips to help you in your search for the best location ever!

1. Think About Capacity

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How many people are you planning on hosting at your special event? Do you need a large enough space to hold a huge gathering? Will you be breaking safety standards by having too many people in one area? Look at the different venue locations and options around you to check capacity limits. This can help you narrow down your decisions when it gets closer to the big day.

2. Ask About Amenities Available

What kind of amenities are you looking to have at your event? Do you want a place that has a kitchen and can provide meals for your family and friends? Do you want it to be already equipped with chairs, tables, and more? What about entertainment venues?

If you care about having the widest range of amenities and facilities available to you, you’ll be thrilled with the selections that Black Bear Lake has to offer. Check out our entertainment and facility options to make the most of your event!

3. Get the Best Location

If you’re planning a special event for your friends, family, coworkers, or neighbors, you’ll likely want to invest in a venue that isn’t too far from home. You and your guests shouldn’t have to go out of their way to reach a destination. Black Bear Lake is conveniently located in the New Jersey area with easy GPS directions for you and your guests to find. Make sure your chosen venue is easy to navigate as well!

4. Think About Parking

If a lot of your guests are driving to the venue location, make sure there is plenty of room to park. Alternatively, you can see if Lyft or Uber is offering discounts on rates for your party during your event. It’s essential to ensure that all accommodations are taken into account before settling on a final choice.

If you’re interested in the services and venues that Black Bear Lake has to offer, contact us.


Ten security personnel killed by Maoists in Orissa, India
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Ten security personnel killed by Maoists in Orissa, India



Sunday, April 4, 2010

Maoist guerrillas detonated a land mine in Orissa, India today, blowing up a bus ferrying Special Operation Group (SOG) personnel of the state. At least ten were confirmed to be dead in the incident while several others were injured. State police said the attack occurred in the Koraput district of Orissa, on the east coast of India.

The land mine explosion blew up one of the three vehicles in which the security men were traveling. The jawans were from the SOG’s road clearing department, and were on an operation to clear a blocked road in the state.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Sanjeeb Panda stated that, “One of the buses was blasted by the Maoists. The vehicle was completely damaged. At least 10 security personnel are confirmed dead.” According to him, the death toll is expected to rise.

A short shooting battle between the Maoists and the jawans also took place according to sources. However, no further details were available.

Three security personnel were injured in the attack, and were admitted to local hospitals. A medical team accompanied by ambulances has been sent to the scene of the attack. Additional personnel have also been sent to assist the surviving jawans in the operation.


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