Archive for August, 2019

24
Aug

Americans practice attack response procedures

 Correction — August 24, 2015 This article incorrectly describes BP as ‘British Petroleum’. In fact, such a company has not existed for many years as BP dropped this name when becoming a multinational company. The initials no longer stand for anything. 

Thursday, February 2, 2006

In recent days, there has been a notable increase in nuclear attack drill activities in LA, Houston and the state of South Carolina.

Sources in the Houston Police Department have disclosed that they are running these nuclear disaster drills across the city of Houston, Texas.

“In the last week I have multi-checked with sources of mine in the Houston Police Department and confirmed that HPD has been running nuclear disaster drills,” said Capt. Eric May, as he warned of a possible nuclear attack that might occur in the Texas City or Houston metro area. Capt. Eric May also mentioned that a likely target could be the British Petroleum plant in Texas City, Texas.

Local citizens have also noticed ongoing SWAT exercises involving numerous government agencies in the area, including Homeland Security, the HPD and the Pasadena Police Department.

“After leaving the Texas City police station, I noticed one thing really strange, as I counted at least 11 different types of official police and government vehicles parked in the police lot. I have never seen this before and it has me a little worried. What are they planning?” said local resident John Watkins.

Besides this increased activity in the Houston area, there have been reports that the Bank of America has been in contact with Homeland Security officials discussing the topic of how to deal with customers in the case of a pending “national disaster.” Employees of the bank have been ordered to remain silent, as ones from all levels have been told of the proper procedures to take. Employees in both Houston and LA have disclosed they were recently told not to distribute certain things from safety deposit boxes in the event of a national emergency, including gold, silver and firearms. They were, however, allowed to hand out important papers to asking customers.

It seems as if British Petroleum may also be conducting nuclear disaster exercises in the Houston area, as an email from an alleged BP employee has surfaced on the internet. Although his identity has not been proven as of yet, he states that he holds the position of a “building monitor” and has never had any responsibilities before. However, on Friday, January 27th, he was called into a meeting and told that he had best get his men ready for some disaster drills to be starting in the next week.

The US government is also running a nuclear disaster drill in the Charleston, SC area from January 31st to February 2nd. The organizers said that nuclear drills should not frighten citizens, but should instead encourage them to learn how to protect themselves in the event of an attack. It should be noted that the government has run other nuclear disaster tests before, including one last summer called “Sudden Respond ’05.” Therefore, this increase of disaster drills may just indicate that the government is taking the threat of a nuclear attack seriously and not necessarily that there is one impending.

23
Aug

What Should Homeowners Know About Foreclosure In Fairfield, Oh?

byadmin

When a mortgage holder wants to foreclose on a home, they must go through a judicial process involving the courts. The first step that will occur is a homeowner will receive warning letters and calls regarding their missed payments. It is imperative a homeowner does not avoid these communications so they do not miss out on the opportunity to make alternative arrangements that could satisfactorily catch up their payments in arrears. Those facing foreclosure in Fairfield, OH need to make sure they understand their rights and what happens in the process.

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Before a foreclosure can become official, the mortgage holder must file a lawsuit and the homeowner is sent a summons and complaint. The homeowner will then be given twenty-eight days to respond to the complaint. Once the foreclosure has been granted, the process of sale can begin. When a property has been sold, the mortgage holder will file a notice to leave and the sheriff can make the occupants vacate the home. Thankfully, there are steps a homeowner can take to avoid foreclosure in Fairfield, OH.

When a homeowner is facing mounting debt and finds themselves unable to catch up their mortgage payments, it . This type of bankruptcy allows a homeowner time to catch up on their payments in arrears while keeping their current payments paid. Most homeowners are given up to five years and must present a structured payment plan to the court.

Filing for chapter 13 immediately halts any collection activity as long as the foreclosure process has not begun. This is why it is imperative that homeowners do not delay in the process so an attorney can help them. Once the bankruptcy is in effect, the homeowner must catch up on their payments and stay current. If the homeowner is current on their payments at the end of the bankruptcy, they will be able to avoid foreclosure.

If you are facing losing your home, there are many ways an attorney can help. Contact Dean Snyder, Attorney at Law and ask to schedule an appointment so you can learn more about the process and what can be done to help you avoid foreclosure.

23
Aug

Plane crashes into office block in Austin, Texas/suicide note

This is the online suicide letter authored by Andrew Stack, the man believed to be responsible for flying a light aircraft into a building in Austin, Texas. It was originally posted at Stack’s site, http://embeddedart.com/. The hosting company, T35, took the site offline per an FBI request. The note is reproduced here in its entirety.

If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.

While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!

How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than [sic] what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

How did I get here?

My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling [sic] from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.

Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.

On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.

The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.

In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.

Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.

For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report (http://www.synergistech.com/1706.shtml#ConferenceCommitteeReport) regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml).

SEC. 1706. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN TECHNICAL PERSONNEL.

(a) IN GENERAL – Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:

(d) EXCEPTION. – This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. – The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.

Note:

· “another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.

· “taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.

· “individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.

Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.

During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.

After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.

Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.

Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.

Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.

By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.

To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.

So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.

When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.

This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.

I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.

I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Joe Stack (1956-2010)

02/18/2010

20
Aug

Chinese chef Peng Chang-kuei’s death announced

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Peng Chang-kuei, a Chinese-born chef credited with creating the internationally popular dish General Tso’s chicken, was yesterday announced to have died by his son.

Chuck Peng told The Associated Press his father died of pneumonia in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday. The chef fled China to Taiwan in 1949 and invented the dish shortly thereafter. In the 1970s Peng opened a New York restaurant, which he claimed was a regular haunt of Henry Kissinger. Peng credited Kissinger with the dish’s popularity.

Peng conceived the famed dish, which is unknown in China, as unfried. Garlic and soy sauce provided flavour, as did chillies. Today the chicken is served across the US as fried chicken in a sweet, sticky sauce. The chillies remain, with broccoli also appearing. Peng named it after Zuo Zongtang from his native Hunan Province; Zongtang assisted in suppressing the 19th-century Taiping Rebellion.

Peng said the meal was invented for a US admiral visiting Taiwan. Over three days, Peng was contracted to produce several banquets, with not one repeated dish. After exhausting traditional chicken dishes Peng said he created what became General Tso’s chicken as an experiment.

In later years he ran Peng’s, a chain of Taiwanese restaurants. General Tso’s chicken also remained popular across the US. His son claimed he remained working in the kitchen until a few months before his death, at 97. In a documentary two years ago, shown photos of General Tso’s chicken served in the US in modern times, he remarked “This is all crazy nonsense.”

Running away from his farming family in Changsha, Peng trained under Cao Jingchen. He fled communist rule that followed the 1930s Japanese invasion. He fathered seven children, six of whom remain alive, from three marriages. Chuck Peng described his father as “very good to other people, [but] very hard on his family.” Peng Jr. spoke of a “very demanding” man who “thought other people’s cooking was no good.”

Two years ago the Taipei City Government awarded Peng an Outstanding Citizen award. Peng, then 95 and unstable, collected the award in person and delivered a speech in Mandarin Chinese.

18
Aug

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

Saturday, October 6, 2007

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

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

17
Aug

Australian government announces study of tax system

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Australian federal treasurer, Peter Costello, has announced a study to compare the Australian taxation system with those of other countries. It will include overall tax levels, as well as indirect tax, income tax and company tax systems. Mr Costello says that the results are intended to inform discussion of the future of the tax system.

“The aim of the study is to provide a public document that compares Australian taxes to those in other countries. This will identify those areas where Australia leads comparable countries and those areas where it lags. It will enable a focus on the most important areas,” Mr Costello said in a media release.

The study will be lead by Mr Richard (Dick) Warburton and Mr Peter Hendy. Mr Warburton is Chairman of Caltex Australia Ltd, and has been Chairman of the Board of Taxation since its inception in September 2000. According to its website, the Board of Taxation is “a non-statutory advisory body charged with contributing a business and broader community perspective to improving the design of taxation laws and their operation.”

The Australian Democrats welcomed the study but warned that nothing would be achieved without serious reform of the tax system.

“The Inquiry announced yesterday by the Treasurer may turn out to be a step in the right direction but will be a pointless exercise if it ends up being simply a ‘desktop’ report,” said Senator Murray, Democrats Tax Spokesperson.

“The problem with Mr Costello’s approach is that in contrast to the approach taken on the GST, the New Tax System, and the Business Tax System, he has seen income tax change to be solely part of the budget process. Across the whole of the political and public policy spectrum, there is strong agreement that reform is needed, not just tax cuts, and that the income tax system needs redesigning, not just fine tuning.”

16
Aug

News briefs:July 14, 2010

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11
Aug

As increase in digital music sales slows, record labels look to new ways to make money

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Every September, the Apple iPod is redesigned. Last year saw the release of the iPod Nano 5th generation, bringing a video camera and a large range of colours to the Nano for the first time. But as Apple again prepares to unveil a redesigned product, the company has released their quarterly sales figures—and revealed that they have sold only 9m iPods for the quarter to June—the lowest number of sales since 2006, leading industry anylists to ponder whether the world’s most successful music device is in decline.

Such a drop in sales is not a problem for Apple, since the iPhone 4 and the iPad are selling in high numbers. But the number of people buying digital music players are concerning the music industry. Charles Arthur, technology editor of The Guardian, wrote that the decline in sales of MP3 players was a “problem” for record companies, saying that “digital music sales are only growing as fast as those of Apple’s devices – and as the stand-alone digital music player starts to die off, people may lose interest in buying songs from digital stores. The music industry had looked to the iPod to drive people to buy music in download form, whether from Apple’s iTunes music store, eMusic, Napster or from newer competitors such as Amazon.”

Mark Mulligan, a music and digital media analyst at Forrester Research, said in an interview that “at a time where we’re asking if digital is a replacement for the CD, as the CD was for vinyl, we should be starting to see a hockey-stick growth in download sales. Instead, we’re seeing a curve resembling that of a niche technology.” Alex Jacob, a spokesperson for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents the worldwide music industry, agreed that there had been a fall in digital sales of music. “The digital download market is still growing,” they said. “But the percentage is less than a few years ago, though it’s now coming from a higher base.” Figures released earlier this year, Arthur wrote, “show that while CD sales fell by 12.7%, losing $1.6bn (£1bn)in value, digital downloads only grew by 9.2%, gaining less than $400m in value.”

Expectations that CDs would, in time, become extinct, replaced by digital downloads, have not come to light, Jacob confirmed. “Across the board, in terms of growth, digital isn’t making up for the fall in CD sales, though it is in certain countries, including the UK,” he said. Anylising the situation, Arthur suggested that “as iPod sales slow, digital music sales, which have been yoked to the device, are likely to slow too. The iPod has been the key driver: the IFPI’s figures show no appreciable digital download sales until 2004, the year Apple launched its iTunes music store internationally (it launched it in the US in April 2003). Since then, international digital music sales have climbed steadily, exactly in line with the total sales of iPods and iPhones.”

Nick Farrell, a TechEYE journalist, stated that the reason for the decline in music sales could be attributed to record companies’ continued reliance on Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, saying that they had considered him the “industry’s saviour”, and by having this mindset had forgotten “that the iPod is only for those who want their music on the run. What they should have been doing is working out how to get high quality music onto other formats, perhaps even HiFi before the iPlod fad died out.”

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When Jobs negotiated a deal with record labels to ensure every track was sold for 99 cents, they considered this unimportant—the iPod was not a major source of revenue for the company. However, near the end of 2004, there was a boom in sales of the iPod, and the iTunes store suddenly began raking in more and more money. The record companies were irritated, now wanting to charge different amounts for old and new songs, and popular and less popular songs. “But there was no alternative outlet with which to threaten Apple, which gained an effective monopoly over the digital music player market, achieving a share of more than 70%” wrote Arthur. Some did attempt to challenge the iTunes store, but still none have succeeded. “Apple is now the largest single retailer of music in the US by volume, with a 25% share.”

The iTunes store now sells television shows and films, and the company has recently launced iBooks, a new e-book store. The App Store is hugely successful, with Apple earning $410m in two years soley from Apps, sales of which they get 30%. In two years, 5bn apps have been downloaded—while in seven years, 10bn songs have been purchased. Mulligan thinks that there is a reason for this—the quality of apps simply does not match up to a piece of music. “You can download a song from iTunes to your iPhone or iPad, but at the moment music in that form doesn’t play to the strengths of the device. Just playing a track isn’t enough.”

Adam Liversage, a spokesperson of the British Phonographic Industry, which represents the major UK record labels, notes that the rise of streaming services such as Spotify may be a culprit in the fall in music sales. Revenues from such companies added up to $800m in 2009. Arthur feels that “again, it doesn’t make up for the fall in CD sales, but increasingly it looks like nothing ever will; that the record business’s richest years are behind it. Yet there are still rays of hope. If Apple – and every other mobile phone maker – are moving to an app-based economy, where you pay to download games or timetables, why shouldn’t recording artists do the same?”

Well, apparently they are. British singer Peter Gabriel has released a ‘Full Moon Club’ app, which is updated every month with a new song. Arthur also notes that “the Canadian rock band Rush has an app, and the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, led by Trent Reznor – who has been critical of the music industry for bureaucracy and inertia – released the band’s first app in April 2009.” It is thought that such a system will be an effective method to reduce online piracy—”apps tend to be tied to a particular handset or buyer, making them more difficult to pirate than a CD”, he says—and in the music industry, piracy is a very big problem. In 2008, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimated that 95% of downloads were illegitimate. If musicians can increase sales and decrease piracy, Robert says, it can only be a good thing.

“It’s early days for apps in the music business, but we are seeing labels and artists experimenting with it,” Jacob said. “You could see that apps could have a premium offering, or behind-the-scenes footage, or special offers on tickets. But I think it’s a bit premature to predict the death of the album.” Robert concluded by saying that it could be “premature to predict the death of the iPod just yet too – but it’s unlikely that even Steve Jobs will be able to produce anything that will revive it. And that means that little more than five years after the music industry thought it had found a saviour in the little device, it is having to look around again for a new stepping stone to growth – if, that is, one exists.”

11
Aug

Israel buys nuclear capable subs

Friday, August 25, 2006

Israel has purchased two more Dolphin class submarines which have the capacity to carry nuclear warheads. Israel already has three older nuclear weapons-capable Dolphin submarines but the new Dolphins have propulsion systems that allow them to remain submerged for longer periods of time, according to the Jerusalem Post, making it harder for them to be tracked by satellite. Experts view the purchase as a clear signal to Iran that Israel can retaliate if subjected to a nuclear attack.

“The Iranians would be very foolish if they attacked Israel,” said Paul Beaver, a British based defence analyst, speaking to the Washington Post. According to Beaver, the submarines would provide Israel with both first strike and second strike capability.

Israel already has land-based nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in the form of the Jericho I and II missiles.

German officials confirm that the contracts for the new submarines was signed July 6. The Jerusalem Post reports that they will be operational shortly.

Israel has never confirmed nor denied that it has nuclear weapons but is believed to have the world’s sixth largest stockpile of the devices, with most outside estimates putting their stockpile in the low hundreds. Israel’s possession of nuclear arms has often been a locus of bitter controversy in the Middle East, especially among countries who believe that the world community, and especially the United States, is hypocritical in its tolerance of Israeli nuclear arms while decrying the efforts of other Middle Eastern nations to develop their own nuclear capabilities.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reports there is a growing mood among Israel’s defence establishment that the country will have to act independently to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons as the United States is unlikely to do so.

“America is stuck in Iraq and cannot go after Iran militarily right now,” according to an unnamed official quoted by the paper.

A report by the US House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee released on Wednesday asserts that if Iran arms itself with nuclear weapons, Israel would be pressed to respond militarily. “A nuclear armed Iran would likely exacerbate regional tensions. Israel would find it hard to live with a nuclear armed Iran and could take military action against Iranian nuclear facilities,” the report states. Iran has continually maintained that it seeks only to develop nuclear technology for the production of electrical power, though this has been disputed by many nations.

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Aug

Google planning PayPal rival

Monday, June 20, 2005

Financial analysts say Google is planning an e-wallet service that could eventually compete with eBay’s payment service PayPal. Google has not confirmed the development.

The rumor is a first sign of Google’s expected expansion of revenue sources to capitalize on its advertising customer base and search-engine traffic. What form that expansion will take has been a hotly debated subject for the company whose stock valuation momentarily made it the world’s biggest media company on June 7, 2005. Even Microsoft has been mentioned as a possible future competitor.

Ebay’s stock valuation dipped more than 2% on the news. Paypal currently accounts for one-fifth of the company’s revenues. But one business analyst saw potential benefit for Paypal[1], depending on exactly how the “Google Wallet” takes shape. The uncertainty underlined the lack of substantive information behind the rumor.

According to the New York Times, the CEO of a major online merchant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was approached by Google to take part in this service. Steve Langdon, a Google spokesperson, declined to comment.

  • Spoken version of the article