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Visa seeks to issue largest IPO in US history

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Visa, Inc. announced on February 25, 2008 that it would soon go ahead with a much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) of about half its shares. This would make it the single biggest IPO in United States history, according to the regulatory filing the company made. Visa hopes to raise about US$17-19 billion, emulating its main rival, MasterCard Inc., which successfully put out an IPO in 2006.

Shares are expected to range from $37 to $42 each. Visa is banking on a changing global economy which relies less on liquid cash and more on credit. Revenue at both Visa and MasterCard has climbed as consumers pay for more purchases with credit and debit cards, instead of cash. Cards are expected to be used for 55 percent of all U.S. consumer transactions by 2011, up from 40 percent in 2005.

Analysts have suggested that current economic conditions, the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the weakening dollar, may leave investors skeptical about Visa’s potential earnings. However, as both Visa and MasterCard charge fees for transactions made with their cards and do not actually give credit, they avoid the current credit crunch and possible defaulted loans. Nonetheless, a slowdown in consumer spending would hurt the revenue stream of both Visa and MasterCard.

The two other main competitors, American Express and Discover, operate their own credit-lending networks and could therefore be vulnerable to credit risks.

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Aug
14

Australia makes changes to Boxing Day cricket test team

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Australia makes changes to Boxing Day cricket test team

Friday, December 26, 2008

Following its recent loss to South Africa, the Australian Cricket team has replaced player Jason Krejza for Nathan Hauritz in the traditional Boxing Day test to be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of an expected crowd of 70,000. Australia lost the first test of the three game series by six wickets after South Africa chased down an almost world record 414 in their second innings. Only West Indies have done better making 7-418 in Antigua during the 2002-03 tour.

All rounder Andrew Symonds kept his place despite being restricted in training with knee-soreness. Victorian speed bowler Peter Siddle was also thought to be on the verge of replacement yet managed to retain his place in the team. There has been rumour that the injury would keep Symonds out and Queenslands team mate Shane Watson would be returned after time on the sidelines.

News.com.au quotes Australian Captain Ricky Ponting “We have only made the one change in the side and that’s Nathan Hauritz will come in for Jason Krejza. Otherwise we are pretty happy with what most of the rest of the guys did in Perth.”

Australia, currently leading the work test team rankings must avoid a 3-0 loss to South Africa if they are to retain their current rankings. If they do loose the series, it will be the first time they have done so on home soil since they lost the West Indies in 1993.

Following their emphatic win, South Africa has named an unchanged side putting aside doubt over vice-captain Ashwell Prince making a comeback as he continues to suffer with a thumb injury. South Africa will train before joining family and friends in the traditional Christmas Day luncheon for both teams.

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Aug
14

BC man is selling the boat from old TV series Gilligan’s Island">
BC man is selling the boat from old TV series Gilligan’s Island

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A man named George Schultz in Parksville, British Columbia is selling the boat from old TV series Gilligan’s Island at the cost of $99,000. The cruiser, originally cost about $290,000 in the 1960s.

“There have been a couple of modifications, so it doesn’t look exactly like the original,” said Shultz, a boat broker who’s selling the 36-foot Wheeler Express Cruiser for fellow Parksdale resident Scotty Taylor. “But it’s still the original boat.”

Originally, the boat’s name was The Blue Jacket.

“Just for the show, for a stage name, it was called the S.S. Minnow,” Shultz said. The name was a reference to Newton Minnow, once chairman of the FCC.

“He just liked the boat, he wanted to restore it, it was a nice looking boat, a wooden boat, a classic and he likes classic boats,” said Shultz. “The hole in the hull was actually the least of the repairs – the interior needed a lot more work”.

Someone later stole the plaque on the boat, but the 46-year-old boat still has the round life preserver with S.S. Minnow emblazoned on it and the skipper’s chair.

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Aug
13

Sony refreshes VAIO brand for business and entertainment">
Sony refreshes VAIO brand for business and entertainment

Thursday, July 31, 2008

From the middle of July, Sony Corporation refreshed their senior laptop brand VAIO from “Video Audio Integrated Operation” to “Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer”. According to Sony Taiwan Limited, this refreshment is an attempt to relocate the laptop consuming market for business and entertainment factors.

In the “VAIO Experience 2008” press conference in Europe, Sony promoted their new product series for different populations including BZ for business, FW for home entertainment, Z for ultra-slim, and SR for complex applications.

Different with past series, Sony added “Clear Bright” screening technology for high-definition display, and “full-carbon production” features. BD-burning and Intel Centrino 2 processing technologies will be featured in all the new models. For security issue, Sony also embedded fingerprint system to prevent personal data to be stolen. Continued from TZ series, innovative designs including “Green Power Button”, “Situational Switch” are also added in newly-launched series.

“Due to consuming market differences, Sony only promoted BZ series in Europe and America but not included Asia. Although the TICA Show in Taipei will be different, functionality will be the greatest issue when a consumers choose a notebook [computer] before buying.” addressed by executives from Sony Taiwan Limited, during the “VAIO Experience 2008” press conference in Taiwan.

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Aug
13

Soft drink foes cheer victory, lament remaining junk foods in schools">
Soft drink foes cheer victory, lament remaining junk foods in schools

Monday, May 8, 2006

Last week’s announcement that most soda manufacturers will stop selling their sugary products in U.S. schools did not mention that avoiding lawsuits was part of the motivation for the self-imposed ban. Some of those who threatened legal action to stop the soda sales are patting themselves on the back over the agreement, while lamenting that the deal did not go far enough, and now plan to press for more restrictions.

“Though there is room for improvement — sugary “sports” drinks still will be sold in schools, for instance — this voluntary agreement is certainly good enough that CSPI will drop its planned lawsuit against Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury-Schweppes and their bottlers,” said Michael F. Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest . “I hope this settlement contributes to the momentum that is building in Congress for legislation that would require USDA to update its standards for foods sold outside of school meals. That would enable USDA to eliminate the sale of candy, cookies, French fries, potato chips, and other snack foods, as well as sports drinks, that are standard fare in school vending machines and stores.”

In the wake of the announcement of the agreement by the three largest soft drink companies, their bottlers and the public health advocacy group, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Jacobson thanked his team of litigators for “negotiating effectively with the soft-drink industry over the past six months, and for demonstrating that the judicial system can play an important role in spurring public health advances.”

Richard Daynard, a law professor and president of the Public Health Advocacy Institute, which threatened the soft-drink industry with lawsuits, said in an institute press release, “The industry agreement with the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association comes after sustained pressure from potential litigation and negotiations with public health groups and their lawyers. It is a credit to the role of litigation and the legal system as a component of effective public health strategy.”

“This agreement demonstrates the potential of public health litigation to help control the obesity epidemic,” he said.

In an email exchange with the James Logan Courier, Margo Wootan, director of Nutrition Policy for the Center for Science in the Public interest, said, “Last week’s announcement that soft drink companies will pull all sugary sodas from schools is great step toward improving school foods. This agreement is the culmination of the tremendous national momentum on improving school foods — from the local policies (in LA, NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, etc.), state bills (in 2005, 200 bills were introduced in 40 states to get soda and junk foods out of schools), the strong bipartisan bill pending in the U.S. Congress, and threats of litigation against soda companies.”

“While today’s agreement is a huge step forward, it is by no means the last step” wrote Wootan, ” We still have a lot of work to do to improve school foods.”

The agreement, announced Wednesday morning by the William J. Clinton Foundation, means that the nation’s biggest beverage distributors, and the American Beverage Association, will pull their soda products from vending machines and cafeterias in schools serving about 35 million students, according to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative between the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.

Under the agreement, high schools will still be able to purchase drinks such as diet and unsweetened teas, diet sodas, sports drinks, flavored water, seltzer and low-calorie sports drinks for resale to students.

The companies plan to stop soda sales at 75 percent of the nation’s public schools by the 2008-2009 school year, and at all schools in the following school year. The speed of the changes will depend in part on school districts’ willingness to change their contracts with the beverage distributors.

Some food activists criticized the deal for not going far enough and undermining efforts to go further.

Michele Simon, the director of the Center for Informed Food Choices, based in Oakland, Ca., called the deal “bogus” and a “PR stunt” by “Big Cola” in an effort to “sugar coat it’s image.”

“This announcement could potentially undermine ongoing grassroots efforts, state legislation, and other enforceable policies,” wrote Simon in an article at www.commondreams.org,” For example, in Massachusetts where a stronger bill is pending, a local advocate is worried about the adverse impact, since legislators could easily think that Clinton has taken care of the problem and ignore the bill. What was already an uphill battle—getting schools and legislatures to take this problem seriously—was just made worse, not better, by this bogus agreement.

“Even from a health standpoint, the deal is hardly impressive. Diet soda full of artificial sweeteners, sports drinks high in sugar, and other empty-calorie beverages with zero nutritional value are still allowed in high schools,” Simon wrote, “Also, parents concerned about soda advertising in schools will not be pleased with the agreement. Not a word is mentioned about the ubiquitous marketing children are subjected to daily in the form of branded score boards, school supplies, sports bags, and cups (just to name a few), which is required by exclusive Coke and Pepsi contracts. “

She’s not the only one criticizing the deal.“ While the initial details are promising, PHAI is concerned about some aspects of the agreement as it is being reported,” Daynard said in the press release. “The continual sale of “sports drinks” is a cause for concern. While they have a role for marathon runners and others engaged in sustained strenuous sports, for most students “sports drinks” are just another form of sugar water. Furthermore, the change in beverages offered must be carefully monitored and cannot depend entirely on the schools’ willingness and ability to alter existing contracts. Soda companies have spent decades pushing these unhealthy drinks on children and should bear the responsibility for their removal. PHAI is also concerned about the enforcement of this agreement and its silence on industry marketing activities in the school system,” he said.

“Importantly, the agreement doesn’t address the sale of chips, candy, snack cakes, ice cream, or any of the other high-fat, high-calorie, high-salt foods that are sold widely in schools,” said Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “This is a voluntary agreement and is not enforceable, we need Senator Harkin’s school foods bill to lock in the beverage standards and give them the force of law.”

Even the diet drinks, which will still be offered, need to go, said Ross Getman, an attorney in Syracuse, NY. Getman has advocated that soda should not be sold in public schools and that long-term “pouring rights” agreements, which give a company exclusive access to sell their brands at a school, are illegal for a variety of reasons.

Getman, who contends that some diet sodas are contaminated with benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, said the soda “industry gets an “F” for incomplete” for “the industry’s failure to pull all soda from school and to recall products.”

Schools account for about $700 million in U.S. soft-drink sales, less than 1 percent total revenue for Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury, the nation’s largest soda companies.

Ten of the largest U.S. school districts have already removed soft drinks from vending machines, according to Getman. States including California, Maine and Connecticut have also banned sugary sodas in schools.

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Aug
13

Alleged tax-haven scheme linked to Canada’s largest brokerage firm">
Alleged tax-haven scheme linked to Canada’s largest brokerage firm

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In a continuing crackdown on tax evasion, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has alleged that brokers with a branch of RBC Dominion Securities, Canada’s largest brokerage company, helped clients set up accounts in the small European principality of Liechtenstein in order to avoid taxation on their wealth.

In affadavits submitted by the CRA, brokers with an RBC Dominion Securities office in Victoria, British Columbia, allegedly helped clients set up 16 offshore entities with a division of the LGT Group in Liechtenstein. While that is not a crime under Canadian law, auditors allege that the entities were used to help Canadians hide worldwide income. Thirteen individuals are either being audited or have made voluntary disclosures, admitting to tax evasion. The agency is presently investigating to see if there are any other individuals participating in this scheme. Regarding the inquiry, dubbed “Project Jade”, the CRA will only say that it was launched on information from a “confidential informant”.

RBC issued a written statement, saying “As a firm, we have never encouraged Canadians — not 25 years ago and not today — to set up entities in Liechtenstein, and we have never instructed our investment advisers to recommend that practice,” and “we comply with all CRA requirements. This means that we provide all our clients with the forms they need to meet their personal tax obligations, and also file reports with CRA that form the basis for reviews such as this.”

Three RBC employees are presently being investigated, with one remaining unidentified.

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Aug
12

News briefs:August 13, 2006">
News briefs:August 13, 2006

The time is 20:00 (UTC) on August 13th, 2006, and this is Audio Wikinews News Briefs.

Contents

  • 1 Headlines
    • 1.1 H5N1 bird flu confirmed in the Netherlands
    • 1.2 Recuperating Castro shown in Cuban media
    • 1.3 South Africa sets deadline in land transfer scheme
    • 1.4 Forest fires continue to rage in Spain
    • 1.5 Firefighters tackle industrial blaze in Manchester
    • 1.6 International AIDS conference begins in Toronto
    • 1.7 Australian government to introduce electronic Medicare rebates
    • 1.8 Dead British soldier named
  • 2 Closing statements

[edit]

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Aug
02

U.S. Army Surgeon General: Many soldiers with personality disorders can perform well">
U.S. Army Surgeon General: Many soldiers with personality disorders can perform well

Saturday, July 8, 2006

The U.S. Army’s surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, told reporters Friday that soldiers exhibiting personality disorders would not be automatically discharged because many can continue to perform their duties well. However, the army did discharge more than 1,000 soldiers last year for personality disorders. Among them was Steven Dale Green, who now stands accused of raping a young Iraqi female and murdering her and her family.

Kiley also said; “There is something very demanding and tough about being in combat. And anything that would be perceived as being weak and not ready and tough carries with it some stigma.”

U.S. Defense Department officials announced last month that they have set up a task force to study the mental health of American troops. The 14-member Mental Health Task Force’s primary job is to produce a required report for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Congress before June 2007 that lays out a long-term plan to improve the effectiveness of the military’s mental health treatments, according to a Pentagon press release.

On May 4, prior to the creation of the task force, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer said the military faces a “mental health crisis” and criticized the Pentagon for inaction. In a letter to Rumsfeld, Boxer noted that 25 soldiers committed suicide in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2005, up from 20 soldiers the year before.

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Aug
02

Harris Wittels, Parks and Recreation executive producer, found dead aged 30">
Harris Wittels, Parks and Recreation executive producer, found dead aged 30

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Harris Wittels, an executive producer on the comedy television series Parks and Recreation, has been found dead. The 30-year-old was found unresponsive at his home in Los Angeles by his assistant on Thursday. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have announced they are investigating the possibility of a drug overdose.

Wittels had a history of drug abuse and spoke openly about his addiction and treatment in drug rehabilitation centers. As well as working as a producer he was also a writer, musician, and stand-up comedian. He performed a stand-up set in Hollywood the night before his death.

Wittels, from Texas, started work on Parks and Recreation as a writer before being promoted to producer and eventually executive producer. Parks and Recreation is in its seventh and final season. The last episode is due to be broadcast on NBC next week.

His other working credits include work on The Sarah Silverman Show and Eastbound and Down. He authored a book, Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty, which came from a phrase he coined on Twitter. #humblebrag was used as a term to describe the art of false modesty.

Tributes have come from across the world of television and comedy. Sarah Silverman called Wittels her “baby”. She said on Twitter “You should know that Harris was brilliant beyond compare. That his imagination was without limit. That he loved comedy more than anything”.

Parks and Recreation actress Amy Poehler said at a Variety event where she was being honored “I don’t really feel like telling any jokes. Today, I lost a friend. I lost a dear, young friend in my life who was struggling with addiction.”

Fans of Wittels also paid tribute to him. Posting on culture website The AV Club, one fan wrote “I don’t mean to belittle what those who knew him are going through at all, I know how I feel is nothing compared to what they’re dealing with, but it does feel like I lost a friend.” Another posted “Been sitting here crying since I found out an hour ago. Just unbelievably awful. Said this elsewhere but I genuinely feel like I lost a friend, don’t care how lame that sounds. RIP Harris.”

An official cause of death will not be known until results are released by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

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