First Christian Church

Barack Obama presents rescue plan after GM declaration of bankruptcy

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Barack Obama presents rescue plan after GM declaration of bankruptcy

Monday, June 1, 2009

In a televised speech from the White House at 16:00 UTC today, President of the United States Barack Obama presented a reorganization plan following the 12:00 UTC announcement by General Motors that it had filed for bankruptcy and Chapter 11 protection from its creditors, the largest bankruptcy of a U.S. manufacturing company.

Describing the problem with the company as one that had been “decades in the making,” Obama explained the rationale behind his proposed reorganization plan for General Motors. He stated that his intent was not to “perpetuat[e] the bad business decisions of the past,” and that loaning General Motors money, when debt was its problem, would have been doing exactly that. His plan, he stated, was for the United States government, in conjunction with the governments of Canada and Ontario (which he thanked for their roles alongside the government of Germany which he thanked for its role in selling a corporate stake in GM Europe), to become shareholders in General Motors. The United States government would hold a 60% stake. The government will give GM a capital infusion of US$30 billion in addition to the funds it has already received.

Of the government ownership he stated that he refused “to let General Motors and Chrysler become wards of the state”, and described the bankruptcy of Chrysler, and the bankruptcy of General Motors that he envisioned as being “quick, surgical, bankruptcies”. He pointed to the bankruptcy of Chrysler as an example of what he envision for General Motors, but stated that General Motors was a “more complex company” than Chrysler.

Responding to challenges voiced by political opponents, before the speech, that the federal government would actively participate in the affairs of the restructured company, he stated that he had “no interest” in running GM, and that the federal government would “refrain from exercising its rights” as a corporate shareholder for the most part. In particular, he stated that the federal government would not exercise its rights as a shareholder to dictate “what new type of car to make.” He stated that he expected the restructured GM to make “high quality, safe, and fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow,” and several times described what he anticipated as “better” and “fuel-efficient” cars, after a streamlining of GM’s brands.

He said to the general public that “I will not pretend that the hard times are over.” He described the financial hardship that some — shareholders, communities based around GM plants, GM dealers, and others — would undergo as a “sacrifice for the next generation” on their parts, so that their children could live in “an America that still makes things,” concluding that one day the United States might return to a time when the maxim (a widely-repeated mis-quotation of what Charles Erwin Wilson once testified before the U.S. Senate when nominated for the position of Secretary of Defense) would once more be true that “what is good for General Motors is good for the United States of America.”

Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’

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Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a vault containing millions of seeds from all over the world, saw its first deposits on Tuesday. Located 800 kilometers from the North Pole on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the vault has been referred to by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso as a “frozen Garden of Eden“. It is intended to preserve crop supplies and secure biological diversity in the event of a worldwide disaster.

“The opening of the seed vault marks a historic turning point in safeguarding the world’s crop diversity,” said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust which is in charge of collecting the seed samples. The Norwegian government, who owns the bank, built it at a cost of $9.1 million.

At the opening ceremony, 100 million seeds from 268,000 samples were placed inside the vault, where there is room for over 2 billion seeds. Each of the samples originated from a different farm or field, in order to best ensure biological diversity. These crop seeds included such staples as rice, potatoes, barley, lettuce, maize, sorghum, and wheat. No genetically modified crops were included. (Beyond politics they are generally sterile so of no use.)

It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks.

Constructed deep inside a mountain and protected by concrete walls, the “doomsday vault” is designed to withstand earthquakes, nuclear warfare, and floods resulting from global warming. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called it an “insurance policy” against such threats.

With air-conditioned temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius, experts say the seeds could last for an entire millennium. Some crops will be able to last longer, like sorghum, which the Global Crop Diversity Trust says can last almost 20 millenniums. Even if the refrigeration system fails, the vaults are expected to stay frozen for 200 years.

The Prime Minister said, “With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilization.” Stoltenberg, along with Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, made the first deposit of rice to the vault.

“It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks,” Maathai said. The vault will operate as a bank, allowing countries to use their deposited seeds free of charge. It will also serve as a backup to the thousands of other seed banks around the world.

“Crop diversity will soon prove to be our most potent and indispensable resource for addressing climate change, water and energy supply constraints and for meeting the food needs of a growing population,” Cary Fowler said.

Satanism: An interview with Church of Satan High Priest Peter Gilmore

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Satanism: An interview with Church of Satan High Priest Peter Gilmore

Monday, November 5, 2007

In the 1980’s and the 1990’s there were multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children or non-consenting adults in the context of Satanic rituals that has come to be known as The Satanic Panic. In the United States, the Kern County child abuse cases, McMartin preschool trial and the West Memphis 3 cases garnered worldwide media coverage. One case took place in Jordan, Minnesota, when children made allegations of manufacturing child pornography, ritualistic animal sacrifice, coprophagia, urophagia and infanticide, at which point the Federal Bureau of Investigation was alerted. Twenty-four adults were arrested and charged with acts of sexual abuse, child pornography and other crimes related to satanic ritual abuse; only three went to trial with two acquittals and one conviction. Supreme Court Justice Scalia noted in a discussion of the case, “[t]here is no doubt that some sexual abuse took place in Jordan; but there is no reason to believe it was as widespread as charged,” and cited the repeated, coercive techniques used by the investigators as damaging to the investigation.

One of the most visible Satanic organizations—though one that was never a suspect or charged in any of the Satanic Panic cases—is the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey. Members of the Church, such as Peter H. Gilmore, Peggy Nadramia, Boyd Rice, Adam Parfrey, Diabolos Rex, and musician King Diamond, were active in media appearances to refute allegations of criminal activity and the FBI would later issue an official report debunking the criminal conspiracy theories of this time.

Gilmore feels Satanists are often misunderstood or misrepresented. LaVey’s teachings are based on individualism, self-indulgence, and “eye for an eye” morality, with influence from Friedrich Nietzsche and Ayn Rand; while its rituals and magic draw heavily from occultists such as Aleister Crowley. They do not worship—nor believe in—the Devil or a Christian notion of Satan. The word “Satan” comes from the Hebrew word for “adversary” and originated from the Abrahamic faiths, being traditionally applied to an angel. Church of Satan adherents see themselves as truth-seekers, adversaries and skeptics of the religious world around them.

On a windy October day in Central Park, Wikinews reporter David Shankbone sat down with the High Priest of the Church, Peter H. Gilmore, who has led LaVey’s congregation of Satanists since his passing in 1997 (he became the High Priest in 2001). They discussed the beliefs of the Church, current events, LaVey’s children and how Satanism applies to life and the world.

Contents

  • 1 Theistic Satanism (‘devil worship’)
  • 2 Church of Satan 101
  • 3 On current events and politics
  • 4 Religious and Satanic symbols
  • 5 The Iraq War: A Satanic perspective
  • 6 On New York City
  • 7 Marilyn Manson
  • 8 On the church after Anton LaVey
  • 9 Anton LaVey’s children and estate
  • 10 Sources

categories Uncategorized | March 20, 2019 | comments Comments (0)

Charles Lazarus, founder of US-based toy retail giant Toys ‘R’ Us, dies at 94

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Charles Lazarus, founder of US-based toy retail giant Toys ‘R’ Us, dies at 94

Saturday, March 24, 2018

On Thursday, Charles Lazarus, the founder of United States toy retailer Toys “R” Us, died in Manhattan, New York, New York of respiratory failure. He was 94. His death came a week after Toys “R” Us announced that all of the stores were closing.

Toys “R” Us issued a statement in which they said, “There have been many sad moments for Toys “R” Us in recent weeks, and none more heartbreaking than today’s news about the passing of our beloved founder, Charles Lazarus. He visited us in New Jersey just last year and we will forever be grateful for his positive energy, passion for the customer and love for children everywhere. Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles’ family and loved ones.”

Michael Goldstein, who was a close friend and former Toys “R” Us chairman, said: “He was the father of the toy business. He knew the toys and loved the toys and loved the kids who would shop in the stores. His face lit up when he watched kids playing with toys.” In a phone interview Goldstein said that Charles Lazarus died in Manhattan.

Lazarus no longer held a stake in the chain, CNN reported. Lazarus took over his father’s bicycle repair shop in 1948 at the age of 25 and changed it to baby furniture. He opened the first Toys “R” Us store in 1957. Lazarus had remained its CEO until 1994.

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American journalist in Iran freed from prison

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American journalist in Iran freed from prison

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On Monday, Iran released Roxana Saberi, an American journalist with Iranian and Japanese parentage, from prison. Saberi was arrested in April and accused of spying.

“[Saberi will be] released today,” said one of Saberi’s defense attorneys, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi. He added that after being released, Saberi “is entitled to leave Iran immediately.” She is, however, forbidden from practicing journalism for at least five years in Iran.

Her freedom comes after an Iranian court met in a private session for five hours then ruled that her eight year prison sentence was suspended. She was convicted on April 18 and her trial lasted only one day.

Saberi was originally arrested in April and sentenced to eight years after being charged with purchasing alcoholic beverages and reporting without the proper media credentials. During her trial, Iranian officials accused her of spying and sending information to U.S. intelligence agencies overseas. At the time, according to Iran’s national media, Saberi admitted to spying.

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Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

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Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

categories Uncategorized | March 19, 2019 | comments Comments (0)

BellSouth denies phone records were handed over to the NSA

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BellSouth denies phone records were handed over to the NSA

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

BellSouth, said in a statement yesterday that the telecommunications company did not hand over customer call records to the National Security Agency or NSA. On May 11, 2006, USA Today reported that the NSA collected millions of call logs from telecommunications companies in 2001 under a contract the NSA claims to have had with the company.

BellSouth said that they conducted a “internal review” and that the review “confirmed no such contract exists and we have not provided bulk customer calling records to the NSA,” said Jeff Battcher, spokesman for BellSouth.

“We do not believe that any final review will turn up anything different from what we have currently found. There is no link between the NSA and BellSouth that we can find in what we feel is a very exhaustive review. We wouldn’t have made this bold statement if we weren’t confident about this,” added Battcher.

AT&T and Verizon Communications were also said to have handed over customer call logs, but Verizon said on Friday that they don’t “and will not, provide any government agency unfettered access to our customer records or provide information to the government under circumstances that would allow a fishing expedition.”

On Monday, Massachusetts Representative Edward Markey of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications asked for help from the Federal Communications Commission or FCC, to investigate whether Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth violated privacy rights under communication laws and regulations.

categories Uncategorized | March 18, 2019 | comments Comments (0)

UK MPs elect John Bercow as new Speaker of the House of Commons

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UK MPs elect John Bercow as new Speaker of the House of Commons

Monday, June 22, 2009

Following the resignation of Speaker Michael Martin, which took effect yesterday, members of the House of Commons, the lower house of the British Houses of Parliament, today elected John Bercow as the new Speaker of the House.

The three rounds of voting were held as a secret ballot of all Members of the Commons. Each round eliminated from subsequent rounds any candidates with less than 5% support, with the winner to be the candidate who, in any round, achieved a simple majority of the vote. This was a new system for electing the Speaker, and the first time that the Speaker has been elected by secret ballot.

In the first round of voting, there were 10 candidates: Margaret Beckett, Sir George Young, Ann Widdecombe, Sir Alan Beith, John Bercow, Richard Shepherd, Sir Michael Lord, Sir Patrick Cormack, Sir Alan Haselhurst, and Parmjit Dhanda. All candidates made brief speeches in the chamber at 13:30 UTC (14:30 BST) immediately before the vote.

Four candidates were eliminated by this round — Cormack, Dhanda, Lord, and Shepherd — leaving six candidates to go forward to the second round of voting.

Results of the first round
Candidate Votes
Beckett 74
Beith 55
Bercow 179
Cormack 13
Dhanda 26
Haselhurst 66
Lord 9
Sheperd 15
Widdecombe 44
Young 112

In the second round, Widdecombe was eliminated, leaving five candidates to go forward to the third. All candidates apart from Bercow and Young lost ground. Young gained more votes than Bercow, but Bercow remained in the lead.

Results of the second round
Candidate Votes Change from round 1
Beckett 70 -4
Beith 46 -9
Bercow 221 +42
Haselhurst 57 -9
Widdecombe 30 -14
Young 174 +62

In the third round, all remaining candidates except two, Bercow and Young, withdrew from the contest, after an appeal to do so from the Father of the House, Alan Williams. This appeal was motivated by the length of each round of voting, which required 600 ballot papers to be printed, marked, and counted.

Results of the second round
Candidate Votes Change from round 2
Bercow 322 +101
Young 271 +97

In both the first and second rounds of voting, one ballot was spoiled. Although the ballot was secret and the identity of the person whose ballot it was could thus not be confirmed, John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw, claimed it was him. “None of them have got a strong reforming agenda,” said Mann. “Some of the speeches were shocking, after what we have been through recently.”

After confirmation by a unanimous acclamation, with no “noes” voiced, John Bercow became the Speaker-elect for the 157th Speaker of the House of Commons. In accordance with tradition, he was physically dragged to the chair. At 19:31 UTC (20:31 BST) he delivered a 5 minute speech, paying tribute to the other candidates, before sitting in the chair itself. In that speech he paid tribute to his mother, pointing out that she had taken a keen interest in proceedings.

He also said: “I want just to say this about the responsibility of the office. The Speaker has the responsibility to immediately and permanently cast aside all his or her previous political views. I said it —”. Here he was interrupted by members anticipating the end of his sentence, and calls to “come and join the Labour Party”. He resumed “I said it and I meant it. My promise to this house is to be completely impartial, that is what it’s about. I will do my best faithfully, honourably and respectfully to do my best in the months ahead.”

His first three acts as Speaker-elect were to call upon the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Leader of the Opposition David Cameron, and the leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg to speak. Brown and Cameron both commented upon Bercow’s hobby of playing tennis, with Brown observing that Bercow had now permanently taken the position of umpire. The Prime Minister said that on the matter of Bercow’s casting aside of his past political views, “some of us thought you had done that some time ago”. Cameron also pointed out that Bercow was the first Jewish Speaker to be elected by the House in its history.

Cameron and Clegg both reminded Bercow of the comments made by Parmjit Dhanda, who had said in his candidacy speech earlier that afternoon: “All of the 10 (candidates) is capable of doing the job but … do we all really get it? Do we understand the level of crisis out there. Do we understand the level of public’s anger.”

Bercow’s election as Speaker elect remained subject to Royal Approbation. This was not given in person by the Queen.

At 20:51 UTC (21:51 BST), the Lords Commissioners assembled on the Woolsack in the House of Lords, and summoned the House of Commons via Black Rod, who in turn summoned the Commons at 20:54 UTC (21:54 BST). The clerk of the House of Lords read the Royal Commission, authorizing the Lords Commissioners to speak in the name of the Queen. At 21:01 UTC (22:01 BST) the Lord Chancellor Jack Straw, spoke for the Lords Commissioners and declared Bercow to be the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Bercow’s first act as Speaker, after returning to the Commons and formally notifying it of events in the Lords, at 21:06 UTC (22:06 BST) was to call upon the Leader of the House, Harriet Harman. She proposed a motion, carried by acclamation without dissent, for the Commons to call upon the Queen to elevate the previous Speaker, Michael Martin, to the House of Lords. Bercow’s second act was again to call upon Harman, who proposed a motion to adjourn, again carried by acclamation without dissent.

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Coalition ups ante on Australian school tax rebates

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Coalition ups ante on Australian school tax rebates

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott has pledged private school relief if the Liberal/National coalition wins the upcoming federal election. The pledge came in response to the Australian Labor Party leader, and current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard proposing a uniform and school equipment tax break expansion.

Abbott’s proposal includes an offer of tax rebates for sending a child to a private school. For students in primary school, prep to grade 6, the rebate will rise to $500 Australian a year per student and families will be then able to claim 50% rebate up to $1000.

“We are expanding the rebate so it can be claimed for school fees and also for other educational costs such as tuition and special educational costs for children with, for instance, dyslexia,” Abbott said at a press conference in Brisbane.

Before the election was called, Gillard had aimed to pledge $220 million over four years to expand the current tax breaks to cover refunds each worth $390 for primary school uniforms and $779 for high school uniforms, as well as refunds for other school equipment like texts books and computers.

“We all know that uniforms can be an expensive part of sending kids to school, but this change, along with the existing refund for textbooks and computers, will help families with that cost,” stated Gillard.

An opposition spokesperson claimed that the “obvious flaw in Labor’s policy is that it only applies to stationery, computer expenses and uniforms […] You know as a parent that you need help for a whole range of expenses. Extra teachers for children with dyslexia or the costs of doing music and all the other expenses like excursions and so forth.”

The expansion is expected to cost $760 million in total and one that Abbott claims needs to happen as “cost of living pressures tend to be greatest when your kids are at school”.

categories Uncategorized | March 16, 2019 | comments Comments (0)

Taliban attacks hotel in Kabul, seven killed

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Taliban attacks hotel in Kabul, seven killed

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The militant Islamist group Taliban attacked a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan last night. Seven people, including a U.S. citizen and a journalist from the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet were killed. Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre is staying at the hotel, but was unharmed.

The terrorists attacked the five-star Serena Hotel with AK-47 assault rifles, suicide vests, and grenades. The likely target was Mr. Gahr Støre and a Norwegian delegation, who evacuated into the cellar. U.S. military forced rushed to the scene, and managed to kill at least one of the attackers.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility shortly after the attack. Norway has some 500 soldiers deployed to Afghanistan.

White House press secretary Dana Perino described the attackers as “deliberate, patient people who will murder innocents”, and said that the attack “underscores the reason we have to stay on the offense against the extremists in places like Kabul but also in other places around the world.”

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