A compilation of brief news reports for Tuesday, January 13, 2009.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

It has emerged that the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground after the mine they were working in collapsed could be brought to the surface in a shorter time than was initially feared. While officials publicly announced that the men would not be brought to the surface until Christmas, sources inside technical meetings have revealed that they could in fact be on the surface by early November. The news comes as families were allowed to speak by radio-telephone to their trapped loved ones on Sunday. Over the weekend, video images filmed by the miners emerged showing the miners playing dominoes at a table and singing the Chilean national anthem. The miners also used the camera to send video messages to their families on the surface, saying that they regularly broke into tears, but were feeling better having received food and water.

The grainy nightvision images, filmed on a high definition camcorder that was sent down a small shaft to the mine, show the men in good spirits, chanting “long live Chile, and long live the miners.” They are unshaven and stripped to the waist because of the heat underground, and are seen wearing white clinical trousers that have been designed to keep them dry. Giving a guided tour of the area they are occupying, Mario Sepúlveda, one of the miners, explains they have a “little cup to brush our teeth”, and a place where they pray each day. “We have everything organized,” he tells the camera. Gesturing to the table in the center of the room, he says that “we meet here every day. We plan, we have assemblies here every day so that all the decisions we make are based on the thoughts of all 33.” Another unidentified miner asks to rescuers, “get us out of here soon, please.” A thermometer is shown in the video, reading 29.5C (85F).

As the film continues, it becomes evident that the miners have stuck a poster of a topless woman on the wall. The miners appear shy, and one man puts his hand to his face, presumably dazzled by the light mounted on the cameraman’s helmet. One miner sent a message to his family. “Be calm”, he says. “We’re going to get out of here. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts.” Another said that the miners are “sure that there are people here in Chile that are big people, that are powerful people, that are intelligent people, and they have the technology and they will all work together to get us out of here.” Speaking to the camera, one says: “we have had the great fortune that trapped in this mine there are good, professional people. We have electricians, we have mechanics, we have machine operators and we will let you know that while you are working to rescue us on the surface, we are down here ready to help you too.” It has been reported that Mario Gómez, 63, has become the group’s “spiritual leader”, having worked in the mines for over fifty years. He has requested that materials to build a shrine be sent down to the cavern.

Upon seeing the video in a private screening, family members, who are living in a small village of tents at the entrance to the San José copper-gold mine—which they have named Camp Hope—were elated. “He’s skinny, bearded and it was painful to see him with his head hanging down, but I am so happy to see him alive”, said Ruth Contreras, the mother of Carlos Bravo, who is trapped in the mine. The video, of which only a small portion has been released to the public, shows the miners, many of them wearing helmets, cracking jokes and thanking the rescuers for their continued efforts. The supplies are being sent to the men through a small shaft only twelve centimeters wide, and a laboratory has been set up with the purpose of designing collapsible cots and miniature sandwiches, which can be sent down such a narrow space.

CNN reported on Friday that “officials are splitting the men into two shifts so one group sleeps while the other works or has leisure time .. On average, each man has lost 22 pounds (10 kilograms) since they became trapped three weeks ago, and dehydration remains a threat. But a survey of the men indicates that at least nine miners are still too overweight to fit through the proposed rescue shaft. Initially, the miners survived by draining water from a water-cooled piece of equipment. To stay hydrated in the 90-degree mine, each miner must drink eight or nine pints of water per day.”

But while there are jubilant celebrations on the surface that the miners are alive, officials are now nervous that the miners could become depressed, trapped in a dark room the size of a small apartment. Chilean health minister Jaime Mañalich said that, on the video, he saw the telltale signs of depression. “They are more isolated, they don’t want to be on the screen, they are not eating well”, he said. “I would say depression is the correct word.” He said that doctors who had watched the video had observed the men suffering from “severe dermatological problems.” Dr. Rodrigo Figueroa, head of the trauma, stress and disaster unit at the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, explained that “following the euphoria of being discovered, the normal psychological reaction would be for the men to collapse in a combination of fatigue and stress … People who are trained for emergencies – like these miners – tend to minimize their own needs or to ignore them. When it is time to ask for help, they don’t.” NASA has advised emergency workers that entertaining the miners would be a good idea. They are to be sent a television system complete with taped football matches. Another dilemma facing Mañalich is whether the miners should be permitted to smoke underground. While nicotine gum has been delivered to the miners, sending down cigarettes is a plan that has not been ruled out.

With the news that drilling of the main rescue tunnel was expected to begin on Monday, officials have informed the media that they hope to have the miners out of the mine by Christmas—but sources with access to technical meetings have suggested that the miners could actually be rescued by the first week of November. A news report described the rescue plan—”the main focus is a machine that bores straight down to 688m and creates a chimney-type duct that could be used to haul the miners out one by one in a rescue basket. A second drilling operation will attempt to intercept a mining tunnel at a depth of roughly 350m. The miners would then have to make their way through several miles of dark, muddy tunnels and meet the rescue drill at roughly the halfway point of their current depth of 688m.” Iván Viveros Aranas, a Chilean policeman working at Camp Hope, told reporters that Chile “has shown a unity regardless of religion or social class. You see people arriving here just to volunteer, they have no relation at all to these families.”

But over the weekend, The New York Times reported that the “miners who have astonished the world with their discipline a half-mile underground will have to aid their own escape — clearing 3,000 to 4,000 tons of rock that will fall as the rescue hole is drilled, the engineer in charge of drilling said Sunday … The work will require about a half-dozen men working in shifts 24 hours a day.” Andrés Sougarret, a senior engineer involved in operating the drill said that “the miners are going to have to take out all that material as it falls.”

The families of those trapped were allowed to speak to them by radio-telephone on Sunday—a possibility that brought reassurance both the miners and those on the surface. The Intendant of the Atacama Region, Ximena Matas, said that there had been “moments of great emotion.” She continued to say that the families “listened with great interest and they both felt and realized that the men are well. This has been a very important moment, which no doubt strengthens their [the miners’] morale.” The phone line is thought to be quite temperamental, but it is hoped that soon, those in the mine and those in Camp Hope will be able to talk every day. “To hear his voice was a balm to my heart … He is aware that the rescue is not going to happen today, that it will take some time. He asked us to stay calm as everything is going to be OK … He sounded relaxed and since it was so short I didn’t manage to ask anything. Twenty seconds was nothing”, said said Jessica Cortés, who spoke to her husband Víctor Zamora, who was not even a miner, but a vehicle mechanic. “He went in that day because a vehicle had broken down inside the mine … At first they told us he had been crushed [to death].”

Esteban Rojas sent up a letter from inside the mine, proposing to his long-time partner Jessica Yáñez, 43. While they have officially been married for 25 years, their wedding was a civil service—but Rojas has now promised to have a church ceremony which is customary in Chile. “Please keep praying that we get out of this alive. And when I do get out, we will buy a dress and get married,” the letter read. Yáñez told a newspaper that she thought he was never going to ask her. “We have talked about it before, but he never asked me … He knows that however long it takes, I’ll wait for him, because with him I’ve been through good and bad.”

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Commercial Loans and Construction Financing


Stephen Bush

Commercial construction financing and commercial real estate loans are presenting a number of new challenges for commercial borrowers. As a result, small business owners should anticipate that they are likely to encounter some new but generally avoidable problems when they are seeking working capital funding and commercial mortgages.

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There have always been complex problems for business owners to avoid when seeking commercial loans. By most accounts, these difficulties are now expected to multiply because we appear to be entering a period which will be characterized by even more uncertainties in the economy. If this financial turmoil continues to be present, previous rules and standards for commercial mortgages are likely to change quickly and with little advance notice by commercial lenders. This article will evaluate why commercial construction loans have become harder to obtain and will discuss possible commercial finance funding solutions. It is much more likely that borrowers will need to look beyond their local area for business financing help because of current economic uncertainties in combination with less capital available for commercial mortgages in general and construction financing in particular. In many areas of the United States, virtually all business construction funding sources are effectively inactive at this time in addressing new loan requests. Construction loans were generally considered to be riskier than other commercial financing by most lenders even before business finance funding options became more limited recently. For a commercial lender, the most significant risk factors for commercial construction financing usually include the following: (1) until the new building is completed, a commercial property cannot produce income to repay a loan; (2) a substantial risk factor is the possibility for contractor liens; and (3) many commercial construction projects take more time to complete than originally projected and/or exceed initial cost estimates. Due to widespread business losses in the construction industry, the risk of contractor liens is a major concern for commercial lenders. In any event, current delinquencies in loan payments for commercial construction financing are running well above normal. Construction financing for homebuilders has always been viewed separately by lenders because the eventual owners of single-family homes are individuals rather than businesses. From a commercial lending perspective, it is likely that the current difficulties seen in residential construction are indirectly impacting the availability of construction funding for commercial properties because the potential for contractor liens incurred during residential projects can quickly reduce the financial stability of contractors involved in both residential and commercial construction projects. This is a further reason why lenders are increasingly focusing on the risk of contractor liens as a rationale for providing less construction financing. The feasibility of real estate investments has traditionally included an enduring theme of “location, location and location” which reflects the importance of a specific locale for investing. This is still an important factor when lenders evaluate the prospects for commercial real estate loans involving both existing commercial properties and new construction. A lender is likely to be most comfortable with a stable to growing revenue stream for a business which will in turn result in a stable to growing property valuation, thus preserving collateral for the commercial mortgage loan. Although there are significant regional variations, we are witnessing decreases in both commercial and residential property values throughout the United States for the first time in several years. A severe recession will result in decreasing income for many businesses over an extended period of time, and it is very difficult for either lenders or borrowers to project when this downward trend will reverse. Given the difficulty of arranging financing based on location, using non-local lenders can be a practical solution for commercial financing involving both existing commercial properties and new construction. Small business owners should seek straightforward advice from a commercial loans expert who can provide effective strategies for changing and difficult business finance funding situations, especially in light of the challenging commercial borrowing climate prevailing currently.

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– Steve Bush is a business finance funding expert => AEX

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Wikinews interviewed author Amy Scobee about her book Scientology – Abuse at the Top, and asked her about her experiences working as an executive within the organization. Scobee joined the organization at age 14, and worked at Scientology’s international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005. She served as a Scientology executive in multiple high-ranking positions, working out of the international headquarters of Scientology known as “Gold Base”, located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.

Originally formulated in 1973 by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, these five stages are well-known to many as the “Five Stages of Grief“. However, despite their familiarity, the five-stage theory had remained untested empirically, until Paul K. Maciejewski, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and the Yale Bereavement Study completed several years of research, findings for which were published in the February 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

According to Dr. Kübler-Ross’s theory, denial is the first and most defining indicator of grief. The Yale Bereavement Study’s findings, in contrast, show acceptance to be the most common indicator, and yearning the strongest negative indicator.

The authors explain, “Disbelief decreased from an initial high at one month postloss, yearning peaked at four months postloss, anger peaked at five months postloss, and depression peaked at six months postloss. Acceptance increased steadily through the study observation period ending at 24 months postloss.”

Study author Holly Prigerson, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute‘s Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care Research, says, “This would suggest that people who have extreme levels of depression, anger or yearning beyond six months would be those who might benefit from a better mental health evaluation and possible referral for treatment.”

The Yale Bereavement Study followed the progress of 233 participants from January 2000 through January 2003 who had lost family, most often a spouse, and was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Women’s Health Research at Yale University.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

A paste containing synthetic tooth enamel can seal small cavities without drilling. Kazue Yamagishi and colleagues at the FAP Dental Institute in Tokyo say that the paste can repair small cavities in 15 minutes.

Currently, fillers don’t stick to such small cavities so dentists must drill bigger holes. Hydroxyapatite crystals, of which natural enamel is made, bond with teeth to repair tiny areas of damage.

Yamagishi and colleagues have tested their paste on a lower premolar tooth that showed early signs of decay. They found that the synthetic enamel merged with the natural enamel. The synthetic enamel also appears to make teeth stronger which will improve resistance to future decay. As with drilling, however, there is still the potential for pain: The paste is strongly acidic to encourage crystal growth and causes inflammation if it touches the gums.

The paste is reported in the journal Nature.

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Providing superior rental property maintenance is essential if you want to keep the value of your investment up to par and to appreciate with time. Broken fixtures or poor maintenance can devalue property and make your investment a financial sinkhole, but is all too common when landlords overinvest in a property but do not have the means to provide sufficient maintenance and repairs.

Devalued property leads to the necessity of lower cash flow and poorer quality tenants, and that can incite a whole chain of consequences you definitely do not want, including the necessity of absorbing the cost of long vacancy periods. Some landlords find themselves mired to the degree that they can no longer afford the mortgage on the property, and their investment leads to foreclosure.

Many landlords find sufficient recourse by hiring a management company that provides rental property maintenance as part of their contract. This leaves the landlord free from having to worry about such issues herself. Preventive maintenance also reduces costs and keeps property fixtures from breaking down, ensuring longer longevity and value.

Moreover, rental property maintenance and repairs contracted through a management company usually means lower costs due to the fact that such companies can often get significant discounts on volume. Many companies hire their own staff to do a lot of the work – from mowing lawns to handy work, and can use other vendors at discount prices due to volume deals. This often works out to be a vast reduction in costs compared to hiring a repairman or specialist from the yellow pages. Moreover, management companies have the experience to understand maintenance and repair issues readily, when many landlords have to play it more by ear, which is inefficient and can also add to costs.

One of the corollary benefits of hiring a management company that takes care of maintenance and repair issues is that managers often have systems in operation to catch issues when they are small and before they grow into big problems. Through regular inspections and evaluations, you don’t have to worry about the degradation of property value and can attend to other things. In fact, when a manager implements regular preventive maintenance and quick repairs the value of your property will likely increase. This will attract better, happier tenants who will stay for longer periods of time. Such factors contribute significantly to the appreciation of your property over time, which means that your investment will mature appropriately and you will be able to yield the results when the time comes.

TEXAS INCOME PROPERTY(http://www.texasincomeproperty.com/) has been a leader among Austin property management companies in Greater Austin and the surrounding communities since 1979. Realtors in Austin trust the extensive experience of our knowledgeable staff. Texas Income Property offers rental property maintenance in Austin, Texas and the surrounding metro area that is among the very best in the real estate industry. There is no better place to begin your search for Austin rental property services than to lead off with the Austin, Texas property management team at Texas Income Property. 105 W. Riverside Dr., Suite 110, Austin, TX 78704 | 512-495-9400 | info@TexasIncomeProperty.com

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The United Kingdom is set to become the second European country to place graphic images on cigarette packets. 15 different images are to be placed on the packs of all brands of cigarettes. They will be introduced on October 1. The images will be introduced onto all other forms of tobacco by 2010.

The written warnings were introduced in 2003 and have been deemed a success by the Department of Health. A spokesman said that the written warnings had been a success with research showing more than 90,000 smokers had been motivated to call the NHS quit line because of them.

Despite being the only the second country in Europe to introduce the images several other countries have already placed them onto packets. These include Canada, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and Singapore.

Should the government try to stop smoking?
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Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said: “Written health warnings have encouraged many smokers to stop. These new stark picture warnings emphasis the harsh health realities of continuing to smoke.”

Not everyone is welcoming the new images. The smoking lobby group, Forest, said smokers were being unfairly targeted and called the images intrusive and offensive. Simon Clark, director of Forest, said the group supported education efforts “but these pictures are designed not just to educate but to shock and coerce people to give up a legal product”.


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By Daniel Sommer

Intelligence education has always been one avenue through which individuals prepared themselves for a career in the U.S. Intelligence Community. The rise in international instability over the past decade as well as the increasingly visible presence of terrorism as it affects the United States, however, has led to a proliferation of security and intelligence studies programs. These programs were created in part to prepare individuals for a career in the intelligence field, whether this includes working for a government agency, or in some other capacity such as federal law enforcement or corporate security. While some programs provide more of a historical or theoretical approach to intelligence studies, others offer specific, tactical training in intelligence gathering and methods. While both types of programs are important, individuals should seek out those programs which also provide some focus on current events in order to obtain a well-rounded intelligence education. This article provides an overview of security and intelligence studies programs and then lays out the importance of incorporating ‘real world’ analysis of current events.

Security and intelligence studies programs

Traditional security and intelligence studies programs focus on the theories and history of intelligence as well as the analytical tools involved in intelligence gathering and/or analysis. Security and intelligence studies include the art and science of how individuals within the intelligence field use operational and analytical tools to achieve their specific objectives – namely to provide intelligence materials by which policymakers make decisions. Intelligence programs include detailed information on a wide variety of topics – collection, counterintelligence, covert action, and analysis, among other areas. The U.S. Intelligence Community as well as local and federal law enforcement agencies and private security firms need individuals who have expertise in either analytic tradecraft or analysis. These experts must have a significant understanding of U.S. national security and how it can be threatened by state and non-state actors. Continued development of solid intelligence education programs is vital for the Intelligence Community to stay ahead of the game.

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Importance of incorporating current events analysis

For security and intelligence studies programs to be truly effective, however, they should incorporate a study of current events and some ‘real-world’ analysis into their training programs. Simply studying theories or learning tradecraft and tools in a vacuum would be a disservice to students as they could have a hard time in applying these tools and theories without first understanding their practical application. By combining an education in theories and tools with an application to real world circumstances and relevant material, intelligence education programs will enable students to better envision the purpose of these tools. These students will therefore be better prepared to work as analysts or operatives in the future. Take, for example, the current government protests spanning the Middle East, from Egypt to Tunisia. Students in intelligence programs could utilize the tools they have learned in class to conduct threat assessments and analyses of the political leaders or other actors, such as the militaries of these countries. Such an analysis would be a great exercise with which a student could use to compare to the ‘real world’ as the situation and resulting policy decisions ensue.

Over the past decade security and intelligence studies programs have definitely provided the Intelligence Community with individuals who are prepared for a career in intelligence analysis or gathering. While these programs encompass a wide variety of educational tools and methods, one could argue that incorporating ‘real world’ analysis of current events provides a practical application of these methods and thus better prepares students by helping them make sense of the constantly changing international political scene.

About the Author: Dan Sommer works for Henley-Putnam University, a leading educational institution in the field of Strategic Security. For more info on Henley-Putnam University, security and intelligence studies, intelligence education, call 888-852-8746 or visit us online at http://www.Henley-Putnam.edu

Source: isnare.com

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A spokesperson stated on Monday that UK television company ITV have been fined A$3000 (about US$2591 or £1663) for cruelty to animals in an incident on programme “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!“, where two celebrities killed and ate a rat.

The incident involved actor Stuart Manning and television chef Gino D’Acampo, who went on to win the ninth series of the programme, which was broadcast in 2009. Inside the jungle, having been reduced to rations of beans and rice, the two celebrities caught a rat before killing it and then cooking it, to give the beans and rice “more protein”, before eating the rat, which contestant and actor George Hamilton described as “actually quite nice”. Inside the programme’s video diary room, at the time of the recording of it, Gino D’Acampo said: “I saw one of these rats running around. I got a knife, I got its throat, I picked it up.”

RSPCA Australia had stated that performing an act like this on television was “not acceptable”. Initially, Manning and D’Acampo were charged for animal cruelty. However, their charges were dropped when ITV made the confession that production staff had allowed the celebrities to carry out the act of killing the rat. After a court trial in Sydney, Australia, ITV got a fine of A$3000. The company also had to pay costs of A$2500 (US$2192 or £1396).

An ITV spokesperson said that “ITV has apologised for the mistake which led to this incident. The production was unaware that killing a rat could be an offence, criminal or otherwise in New South Wales, and accepts that further inquiries should have been made. This was an oversight and we have since thoroughly reviewed our procedures and are putting in place a comprehensive training programme to ensure that this does not happen in future series.”

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