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US Federal Reserve Chairman gives first news conference

Thursday, April 28, 2011

On Wednesday, at the first live public news conference ever given by the Federal Reserve (Fed), Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke explained the US central bank’s recent policy to a small group of reporters and answered some questions.

The conference was conducted two hours after the release of a report by the Fed’s policymaking committee, the Federal Open Market Committee outlining its policies decided the day before. Until 1994 the Fed gave no information about the policy decisions made in its meetings pertaining to short-term interest rates and other policies. The public was left to guess what decisions were. In 1994 the Fed began issuing brief reports.

Unlike the US, the central banks in Europe, Japan, Canada and other countries have regularly meetings with the press after making such policy decisions.

The public has increasingly been aware of the secretive practices of the Fed, especially after its unprecedented intervention with massive bailouts of large financial institutions during the recent financial crises.

At Wednesday’s meeting, it was decided that the Fed would maintain near-zero interest rates to stimulate the economy. It announced that it plans to end its program of buying back treasury bonds by the end of June, a program receiving criticism from Republicans concerned about the budget deficit.

Bernanke’s exchange with reporters, called “historic” by the Los Angeles Times, was the first of a series of regular news conferences planned to be held quarterly by Bernanke to provided the Fed with more transparency. He was cautious in his remarks. He made no news but explained in general terms the Fed’s policy.

He said the Fed is attempting to revive the US economy by creating jobs and keeping inflation low.

“The trade-offs are getting less attractive at this point,” Bernanke said. “Inflation has gotten higher … it’s not clear we can get substantial improvements in payrolls without some additional inflation risk.”

Unfortunately, the reason we use this vaguer terminology is we don’t know with certainty how quickly response will be required.

During the conference, Bernanke said he recognized that the average American was unhappy with the increasing inflation and the slow job growth, but said the Fed projected that long-term inflation will remain stable while he acknowledged the effects of the short-term price increases which he said were driven largely by the increase in the price of oil.

“There’s not much the Federal Reserve can do about gas prices, per se, at least not without derailing growth entirely, which certainly is not the right way to go,” Bernanke said. “After all, the Fed can’t create more oil.”

When asked by reporters to explain his vague answers, he gave general replies. For example, when asked to clarify the Fed’s intention to maintain near-zero interest rates for an “extended period” he said the wording suggested this period would probably continue through a couple more policymaking meetings at least.

“Unfortunately, the reason we use this vaguer terminology is we don’t know with certainty how quickly response will be required,” he said.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, said of Bernanke’s performance at the press conference, “He was well-prepared and did exactly what he wanted to do – do no harm.”

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Wikinews holds a follow-up interview with Kevin Baugh, president of the Republic of Molossia

Thursday, May 1, 2008

In March, Wikinews reporter Joseph Ford held an exclusive interview with Kevin Baugh, president of the Republic of Molossia, a micronation located near Dayton, Nevada. Due to the interest the article gained, both online and off, a follow-up interview was held this week.

Molossia’s capital city, Espera, is situated on little over an acre of land in Western Nevada, within driving distance of Reno. Another territory, Desert Homestead Province, is located in Southern California. Unlike most of today’s micronations, Molossia allows visitors and has its own economy. It also has its own time zone and holidays as well as a few tourist attractions.

When asked about the culture of his country Baugh replied, “Molossian culture is a mix of several sources. Above all, we value the lifestyle of the western U.S., especially as it pertains to living in a wide-open place such as we do. Life here is fairly relaxed and easygoing.”

He also said that Molossia and the United States “generally ignore each other” and that there haven’t been “any altercations” between the two, despite claiming each other’s land. He went on to tell us much more about his tiny nation, which can be read in the interview below.

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Back To School A Guide To Buying School Supplies

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Submitted by: Calvin Washin

It is that time of the year when your kids are cringing and crying again. This is the time they look forward to buy new sketchbooks and color pencils. This is the time, when you have to rush your children with their breakfast. Yes! It is time to go to school. Just a week before the day; parents queue up in supermarkets or schools to buy school stationery for their kids. This is a kind of good experience for the kids as they get new books, but a hectic experience for the parents. They have to arrange for the school fees as well as for the school supplies. There are some tips that make your shopping a good experience.

Before going for any kind of shopping spree make sure you thoroughly check your house for any kind of unused stationery item that can be used in school. It always turns out that you put away some school supplies for emergencies and completely forget about it. This is the best way to delete many inevitable items from the list and it will not make your pocket feel hollow.

The most important thing is, never take your kids for shopping school supplies. It will end up in buying lots of stuff you really do not need. Children always cringe for stuff that is not important and you end up buying them. You can always make your kids happy by getting them something from the money you save.

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Check the requirements of the school, i.e. what books they prescribe? This is necessary because you don t want to end up buying supplies that are not necessary. Get a detailed list from the school or from the child s senior from the school. It is always better to get an opinion from the parents of children who are seniors to your kids in the school.

If you can t afford buying books it is a good idea to get second hand books. Though they might be shabby looking, but nevertheless it will serve its purpose i.e. to educate. The difficult part of buying old books is that you will have a tough time explaining to your kids, why you did not buy new ones?

Always remember to keep a record of supplies your kids have used up. This helps in keeping tab on the supplies you have and can always get them whenever they are about to exhaust and always check next year what is left over from the previous year.

Get your children the best quality products you can afford, do not go for sub-standard quality school supplies just because they are cheap. Getting swimming outfits and gym clothes are another area of concern. Children tend to grow very quickly, so it is necessary that you buy them good pairs and keep on checking the measurements. You can always loosen them a bit and save on the clothes for the next year. School supplies shopping though challenging is a great experience for a parent.

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Interview with Brazilian blogger Ricardo Serran Lobo

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ricardo Serran Lobo is a Brazilian blogger who writes about his famous neighbor, the politician Roberto Jefferson, head of the Brazilian Labor Party in the Brazilian Congress of Deputies. Jefferson has become a major figure in the ongoing Brazilian mensalão scandal revolving around corruption and bribery.

Vizinho do Jefferson [1] quickly became very popular among Brazilians, describing the routine of Jefferson, while providing information about politics and fresh news about the scandal. Lobo’s blog got third place in the Best Of Blogs contest run by Deutsche Welle International.

Lobo gets an intimate look at the center of Brazilian politics by living in Brasilia, near residences of parliamentarians (including Roberto Jefferson), public buildings and the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies. Or, as he says in his blog: “near the eye of the hurricane,” a reference to the recent political crisis.

At first, Lobo began describing the daily activities of his famous neighbor deputy Roberto Jefferson. As the crisis moved on, he began to describe the political events regarding it. His writings evolved to not only what is going on with Jefferson, but what is going on in Brazilian Congress, and has interviewed politicians, including Roberto Jefferson himself.

The blog tries to be informative, with a lot of humour (common with Brazilians), and some protests against the bad habits of Brazilian politics in general.

Jefferson’s neighbor, the blog, is an example of citizen journalism and it shows that ordinary people can compete with professional media.

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DUP and Sinn Féin make gains in Northern Ireland Assembly election

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Results are coming in for the Northern Ireland Assembly election held on Wednesday 7 March. With all first preference votes counted, both the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin have made gains: the DUP received 30.1% of first preferences, an increase of 4.4 percentage points on the 2003 election, while Sinn Féin won 26.2%, up 2.6 percentage points. This means that the two parties have gained more than half of the vote. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) came third with 15.2%, the Ulster Unionist Party fourth with 14.9% and the Alliance Party fifth with 5.2%.

I’m optimistic that we can achieve a working government on March 26, but it’s a very stark choice for them — get into power, or shut up shop.

The election is a crucial step in restoring devolved government to Northern Ireland, which has been under direct rule from Westminster since October 2002, when the Assembly was suspended after allegations that an IRA spy ring was operating there. The resulting court case collapsed. Attempts to get the leading unionist and nationalist parties to resume power-sharing had failed until the St Andrews Agreement was reached in October 2006. This agreement commits Sinn Féin to accepting the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the DUP to accepting power-sharing.

All 108 seats have now been filled. The DUP are the largest party with 36 seats, followed by Sinn Féin with 28 seats. Their combined total of 64 seats gives the two parties a majority of ten in the Assembly, assuming that they are willing to work together. Among others, DUP leader Ian Paisley has been elected in North Antrim, as has Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in West Belfast. DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson topped the poll in East Belfast, where Naomi Long of the Alliance Party was also elected. The leaders of the other two main parties were also elected: Mark Durkan of the SDLP was elected on the first count in Foyle, while Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey was elected on the third count in East Belfast. Alliance Party leader David Ford was elected in his constituency of South Antrim on the fifth count. Dawn Purvis, leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), was elected on the last count in East Belfast. The Green Party won their first ever seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly, when their Northern Ireland chairperson Brian Wilson was elected on the tenth count in North Down with 2839 first preference votes.

I think it [power-sharing] is very, very important in terms of representing a community that for a long time was marginalized and excluded. We’re about reaching out to the Unionists.

Anna Lo of the Alliance Party has become the first candidate from an ethnic minority background to have been elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, winning a seat in South Belfast with the fourth highest first preference vote in the constituency, 3829 votes. She said her decision to stand had been an extension of her community work, and that she wanted to give a voice to Chinese people who never felt they had any part to play in Northern Ireland politics. She also said she hoped that indigenous voters who were fed up with “tribal politics” would give her their support, and that she was determined “to be much more than a candidate for ethnic minorities”.

Counting the votes cast in the 600 polling stations continued through to Friday 9 March. Turnout was 63.5%, down 0.5 percentage points on the previous election. Assembly elections use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) method of proportional representation, with each constituency returning six MLAs.

Sinn Féin are not entitled to be at the table until they declare themselves for democracy. I am a democrat, I don’t speak to loyalist paramilitaries, I don’t speak to Sinn Féin.

A new power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive is to be formed by 26 March, according to the St Andrews Agreement. The election of a First Minister and Deputy First Minister requires the support of a majority of unionist MLAs and of nationalist MLAs (“parallel consent”). In practice this means that the largest unionist party and the largest nationalist party must agree to share power. If they cannot agree by the deadline the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont will be suspended again and MLAs will have their salaries and allowances stopped. Though there has been criticism of the deal reached at St Andrews by elements within both the DUP and Sinn Féin, the government in Westminster believes that these dissenters are in a minority.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said to CNN: “I’m optimistic that we can achieve a working government on March 26, but it’s a very stark choice for them — get into power, or shut up shop”. But he also warned that “if this falls over on March 26, there is no prospect of another settlement for a very long time, maybe years”. On Friday 9 March Mr Hain began separate meetings with the leaders and deputy leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he had “no problem” with working with the Unionists and shaking the hand of Ian Paisley: “I think it is very, very important in terms of representing a community that for a long time was marginalized and excluded. We’re about reaching out to the Unionists”.

All must now take responsibility in government for building and consolidating peace, this is what the people of Northern Ireland want. They deserve no less.

But Ian Paisley claimed that Sinn Féin’s decision to support the police had been “qualified”, and said, “you can’t pick and choose how far you are prepared to go for peace.” He also said that Sinn Féin had to “turn from their evil ways”. To the BBC he said: “We will enter into talks tomorrow with the Secretary of State, we will be meeting the Prime Minister next week, and the hard negotiations are now going to start. Sinn Féin are not entitled to be at the table until they declare themselves for democracy. I am a democrat, I don’t speak to loyalist paramilitaries, I don’t speak to Sinn Féin”.

On Friday 9 March British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made a joint statement. They said, “The message of the electorate is clear. After so many years of frustration and disappointment, they want Northern Ireland to move on to build a better future together through the restored institutions. Many of the practical issues which have been raised in this election campaign can and should be resolved locally.” They said that they would work closely with the Northern Irish parties to restore devolved government by the deadline of 26 March and praised the progress already made in this direction. “The people of Northern Ireland have suffered grievous pain and loss. But enormous progress has been made and there is now no good reason why we should not be able to complete this historic process. All must now take responsibility in government for building and consolidating peace, this is what the people of Northern Ireland want. They deserve no less.”

[edit]

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BBC apologises to Queen Elizabeth II for misrepresentation in documentary

Friday, July 13, 2007

The BBC would like to apologise to both the Queen and Annie Leibovitz for any upset this may have caused.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has apologised to Queen Elizabeth II and photographer, Annie Leibovitz, after a trailer for a documentary suggested she had walked out of a portrait sitting when the photographer asked her to remove her crown.

The trailer shows a clip of the photographer telling the Queen, “I think it will look better without the crown because the garter robe is so…” The Queen responded with “Less dressy! What do you think this is?” The following clip shows the Queen walking down a corridor saying, “I’m not changing anything. I’ve had enough dressing like this, thank you very much.”

It has since been clarified that this second clip shows the Queen arriving at the sitting, not departing.

In a statement the BBC said, “In this trailer there is a sequence that implies that the Queen left a sitting prematurely. This was not the case and the actual sequence of events was mis-represented. The BBC would like to apologise to both the Queen and Annie Leibovitz for any upset this may have caused.”

The BBC blamed a production error for the mistake, saying, “This assembly was never intended to be seen by the public or the press. Unfortunately, this assembly was given in error to the BBC personnel who were preparing the BBC One autumn launch tape.”

The company responsible for the editing of the documentary, RDF Media, also apologized to the Queen. Michael Grade, previous controller of BBC One, blamed the mistake on “young, untrained” workers who “don’t understand that the basic ethic of broadcasting in this country is trust.”

Photographer, Leibowitz, commenting about the session in Vanity Fair even before the release of the trailer, said, “She doesn’t really want to get dressed up any more. She just couldn’t be bothered and I admired her for that.”

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What’s Involved In Hardwood Floor Refinishing?

byAlma Abell

Hardwood floor refinishing in Manhattan is a job that takes a great deal of specialized equipment as well as operators who are highly skilled and patient. Wood floor refinishing is a common home improvement job but it is one that takes a considerable amount of research as well as time and “know-how.” Although a very ambitious DIYer might be able to do this job, for the majority of homeowners this is something to turn over to the professionals. The entire process can take a considerable amount of time as the job must be evaluated and then the floors must be prepared, sanded and sealed; there are just too many places where an error can take place that will be a long lasting problem.

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The first thing to do is to determine whether the planks in your existing hardwood floors are even good candidates for refinishing. You need to determine to what extent, if any, the floors have suffered from pet urine or water stains as well as deep gouges or scratches; the baseboard needs to be removed to see whether the floor boards are thick enough to be sanded and you need to determine what the finish was that was last used on the floors, was it wax, varnish or polyurethane?

If the floor slats do not have deep scratches or gouges and are at least ¾” thick then the first hurdle has been passed. The next stage of floor refinishing in Manhattan will take a number of days. The entire floor surface must be cleaned; any holes that are found from nails, staples or deep scrapes are to be filled. During this phase there may be boards that are beyond repair and must be replaced, at this time you have to find boards that closely match those that exist. Pull up the door thresholds and baseboards. If adjacent rooms use the same wood flooring you will want to refinish them both even though the floors in one room are still in excellent condition, otherwise they will not be consistent and will be quite noticeable at doorways.

The floor is then sanded with a heavy drum sander; this machine looks more like a miniature steam roller than anything else. After two or three passes with this machine the floors will be flat but raw wood. After a thorough cleaning the final step in floor refinishing in Manhattan is to give the floors multiple coats of high quality polyurethane which is the best sealer to combat shoe scuffs and sunlight.

Even the best maintained floors will begin to show the effects of age and use, when this happens floor refinishing in Manhattan is recommended. The experts at New York Wood Flooring can bring your old hardwood floors back to life.

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.

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Canada’s Toronto—Danforth (Ward 30) city council candidates speak

Saturday, November 4, 2006

On November 13, Toronto residents will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Toronto Centre (Ward 28). One candidate responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Edward Chin, Paula Fletcher (incumbent), Patrick Kraemer, Suzanne McCormick, Daniel Nicastro, and Michael Zubiak.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

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United States Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announces retirement

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Current United States Speaker of the House and 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan announced Wednesday he will not seek reelection and plans to retire from the U.S. House of Representatives when his term expires in January.

“We all know that I did not seek this job, I took it reluctantly, but I have given this job everything I have and I have no regret whatsoever in accepting this responsibility,” Ryan told the press. Ryan took over the Speaker position after John Boehner retired in 2015. Ryan cited wanting to spend more time with his three children. Some reports suggested he was also disillusioned with the Trump presidency. Ryan contradicted this in public: “I’m grateful to the president for giving us this opportunity to do big things to get this country on the right track,” he said. According to Axios, Ryan considered last December’s restructuring of the U.S. tax code to be the most important accomplishment during his time as Speaker.

President Trump said via Twitter, “Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised Ryan as “a good man who is always true to his word” and said “[w]ith his newfound political freedom, I hope the Speaker uses his remaining time in Congress to break free from the hard-right factions of his caucus that have kept Congress from getting real things done.”

Not all reactions to Ryan’s departure were admiring. While various Democrats and others have opposed Ryan for his Republican views, many Republicans have criticized what they describe as a lack of support for President Trump’s projects, such as the US Mexico border wall Trump has proposed to build on the U.S. border with Mexico. Far-right media outlet Breitbart News described Ryan on Tuesday as “the leader of the globalist wing of the Republican Party,” citing his “pro-immigration, wage-crushing, big business-first record, whereby American workers have been left behind by multinational free trade and mass immigration.” Fox News commentator Sebastian Gorka tweeted “GOOD RIDDANCE.” Amongst late-night comedians, Stephen Colbert of The Late Show called him “CrossFit Dracula” in a reference to his well-documented fondness for fitness programs: “He said today he wants to spend more time with his wife and kids. Which, of course, is what he calls his biceps.” Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show added “House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he is retiring from Congress. He said he wants to spend more time with his children at home, and less time with the child in the White House.”

Paul Ryan currently represents a district in southeastern Wisconsin. As of January, he will have served twenty years in the United States Congress.

According to Business Insider, waiting until January of next year would push Ryan into a slightly higher pension bracket within the Federal Employees Retirement System because his time as Speaker will give him three years at a sustained salary of US$223,500. If he retires as planned, he would be eligible to draw noticeably more annually than if he retired sooner.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, asked by Fox News whether he would run for Ryan’s position as Speaker, responded with a reference to the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, “We’re getting way ahead of ourselves. […] We’ve got to make sure we keep the majority.”

In November, one third of the U.S. Senate and the entire House of Representatives are up for re-election. The Republicans currently have a majority in both houses of congress, but would lose control of the House if the Democrats gained 23 out of its 435 seats. Close to 30 Republicans have announced they would be retiring this year. BBC analyst Anthony Zurcher speculates Ryan may be retiring now to preserve his reputation for a presidential run sometime in the future.

In the U.S. government, the Speaker of the House automatically assumes the presidency if the president and vice president are both killed or incapacitated. The Speaker is elected by the members of the House of Representatives, and so is usually a member of whichever of the two main political parities happens to have the majority that session.

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