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Tuesday, July 29, 2008
United States Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has been indicted by federal grand jury on seven criminal counts for making false statements in his Senate financial disclosure forms. The longest-serving Republican in the Senate, Stevens is the highest-profile politician ensnared in the corruption scandal surrounding VECO Corporation and its executives’ attempts to influence politics.
VECO, a subsidiary of CH2M Hill as of September 2007, is an oil pipeline and services company. It is alleged to have funded renovations to the Stevens home in Girdwood, Alaska in 2000. The renovations include a new garage and first floor, a two story wrap-around deck, as well as new wiring and plumbing. In 2007, VECO chief executive Bill Allen pleaded guilty to charges of extortion, bribery, and conspiracy.
The 28-page indictment alleges that Stevens “knowingly and willfully engaged in a scheme to conceal” gifts from VECO, which totaled “hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of things of value.”
A press release was issued by Stevens’ office in response to the allegations: “I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that.” And Stevens himself commented, “I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. senator.” Senator Daniel Inouye, a close friend of Stevens, commented: “As far as he’s concerned, he’s not guilty. And I believe him.”
Stevens was reportedly caught unawares on Tuesday when the indictment charge was filed. “Apparently, the media knew about it before he did,” Inouye stated, adding that he had just talked to Stevens. Ted Stevens was in a meeting with other Republicans when he found out about the charge.
Stevens is the longest-serving Republican senator in history and is up for reelection this November. Calls to his office in Washington for comment were redirected to a voicemail indicating that his “office is closed.”
The United States Department of Justice says it has already obtained seven convictions in the case: Peter Kott, a former Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives; Thomas T. Anderson, a former state representative; Victor H. Kohring, another representative; James A. Clark, chief of staff to the former governor of Alaska; William Bobrick, a lobbyist; Bill Allen, VECO chief executive; and Richard L. Smith, VECO vice president of government relations.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The rescue of the Chilean miners trapped in the San José Mine in Copiapó, codenamed Operación San Lorenzo (San Lorenzo Operation), began on Tuesday night, at around 20:00 local time (23:00 UTC).
Florencio Ávalos was the first miner to be rescued, at 00:12 local time (03:12 UTC) on Wednesday. He was wearing a shirt signed by all his fellow miners. “The first miner is already with us. We saw it all, him hugging his wife Monica and his son Byron,” said President Piñera shortly after the first rescue. “We still have a long journey.”
“This will be recorded on every single Chilean heart forever,” Piñera added. “I hope the miners’ hope stay with us, just like the [February] earthquake victims’ [hope] and what the earthquake took off. We know that the disasters unite us all.”
All the 33 miners were rescued. The last miner, Luis Urzúa, was rescued at 21:55 Chile time (00:55 UTC). “It is a pleasure to be Chilean, [I’m] proud,” said Luis Urzúa to President Piñera. “In honour of the miners, their families, the rescuers […] let’s sing our national anthem. Viva Chile Mierda!,” said Piñera. Urzúa thanked Mining Minister Golborne and the First Lady Cecilia Morel for “fighting for their lives.” “I’m proud of my fellow miners,” Urzúa added.
Six rescuers, including a miner and a paramedic, descended to the miners’ shelter using the Fénix 3 capsule which was specially constructed for the rescue. They performed check-ups and talk with the miners before taking them back to the surface. The rescuers still don’t leave the mine.
The Fénix 3 capsules are 3.95 metres in height and weigh about 460 kilograms. They have an armour, an oxygen tube and a microphone. The occupants helmets contain an intercom to keep them in contact with the rescue team on the surface.
President of Chile Piñera assisted to the rescue. Bolivian President Evo Morales could not attend Carlos Mamani’s rescue. Mamani is the only Bolivian miner in the group.
A mass for the miners was conducted at 18:00 local time (21:00 UTC). The rescue takes between 15 and 20 minutes for each miner.
On Tuesday, Mayor of Copiapó Maglio Cicardini announced that the municipal schools in the city will have no classes this Wednesday “to transform the rescue of the Atacama’s 33 in a familiar meeting,” Radio Cooperativa reported.
“The miners will be taken to the Copiapó Regional Hospital for medical checkup, where they will have to stay for 48 hours,” Health Minister Mañalich said to Televisión Nacional de Chile.
Celebrations are taking place in several Chilean cities. In Santiago de Chile, people gathered in one of the most important points of the city, Plaza Italia. In Pichilemu, tens of cars are passing over its most important streets. In Copiapó, people gathered in its main square to assist a massive concert.
On August 5, 33 miners were trapped more than 700 meters (2,300 ft) underground, in the San José copper–gold mine, located about 40 kilometers north of Copiapó, Chile.
The youngest trapped miner is 19 years old, and the oldest is 63. There were several rescue attempts before reaching the miners’ shelter on August 22. The National Emergencies Office of Chile (ONEMI) released a list of the trapped miners on August 6, which included Franklin Lobos Ramírez, a retired footballer.
Chile is the worlds top producer of copper, according to The Economist. The San José Mine is owned by the San Esteban Mining Company (Empresa Minera San Esteban). The mine was closed down in 2007, after relatives of a miner who had died sued the company executives, but the mine was re–opened in 2008.
It was originally estimated that “it would take three to four months to complete the rescue of the trapped miners”. There were three plans to reach the miners: “Plan A” using a Strata 950 drill, “Plan B” using a Schramm T130XD drill, and “Plan C” using a RIG-422 drill. The first to reach the miners was “Plan B”, early on Saturday 9.
The last step of their rescue, announced by Health Minister Jaime Mañalich, was originally due to begin on Tuesday. Laurence Golborne, Minery Minister said “If it is possible, and the cement sets before and we don’t have any impediments to doing it, it would be wonderful,” in a press conference on Monday. The men will be extracted in a steel rescue capsule 54 cm (21 inches) in diameter.
On September 4, Chilean filmmaker Rodrigo Ortúzar announced plans to film a movie about the accident, called “Los 33” (“The 33”). The film will be released in 2011.
One miner is Bolivian, and the other 32 are Chilean.
Raúl Bustos, 40 years old, is an hydraulics engineer. He left his job in Talcahuano after the February 27 earthquake to work in the mine.
Daniel Herrera, 27 years old, is a lorry driver. He has acted as paramedic assistant in the mine. He said to La Tercera “the miners were unhappy with the psychologist in the rescue team.”
Claudio Acuña, miner, is fan of the Colo-Colo football club. The BBC reports he is aged 56, but El Comercio says he is 44.
Pedro Cortez is aged 24. He joined the mine with his friend Carlos Bugueño. Cortez is an electrician, and lost a finger in the mine a year ago.
File:Juan Aguilar with President Piñera.jpg
A native of Los Lagos, Juan Aguilar is 49 years old. Aguilar is married to Cristy Coronado, according to El Comercio. Aguilar works as a supervisor.
Mario Sepúlveda is a 39 years old electrician native of Parral; he is married. He has been the spokesman of the most of the miners’ videos. Mario Sepúlveda was the second miner to be rescued, on Wednesday at 01:10 local time (04:10 UTC).
Víctor Zamora is a 33 years old auto mechanic. Zamora is married to Jéssica Cortez, who confirmed she was pregnant while he was in the mine.
Osman Araya is 30 years old, and married. He began working as miner four months before the accident.
Florencio Ávalos is 31 years old. He is the brother of Renán Ávalos, who is also trapped in the mine. He worked as driver in San José. Ávalos filmed videos, sent later to his relatives.
Ávalos was the first miner to be rescued, on Wednesday at 00:10 local time (03:10 UTC).
Jorge Galleguillos, 56 years old, has worked all his life in the mine. He said in one video he was feeling unwell; he takes medication for hypertension.
Carlos Barrios is a 27 years old miner. His father, Antenor Barrios, told Agence France-Presse: “I find he’s very strong and has enthusiasm. He spoke loud and clear. I was excited.”
Franklin Lobos Ramírez is a 53 years old retired footballer. He played for Cobresal, Deportes Antofagasta, Club de Deportes Santiago Wanderers and Unión La Calera, and briefly for the Chile national football team. Lobos had worked as a truck driver in the mine.
Yonni Barrios, called “The Doctor”, is a 50 years old electrician. He has knowledge of first aid, and was given responsibility for monitoring the health of his colleagues. “I felt I was in hell,” Barrios said in a letter to his wife.
Carlos Bugueño, 27 years old, joined the mine with Pedro Cortez. Previously, he worked as a watchman.
Alex Vega Salazar is a 31 years old heavy machinery mechanic. He is married to Jessica Salgado, and celebrated his birthday in the mine on September 22.
Ariel Ticona is a 29 years old miner. His wife, Margarita gave birth to his daughter on September 14. She was named Esperanza (Hope), at Ticona’s request.
Richard Villarroel is a 27 years old mechanic from Coyhaique.
Edison Peña is a 34 years old miner. “I want to go out soon,” he said on his first contact with his relatives. “I want to be free, I want to see the sun,” he added. He is a fan of Elvis Presley.
Claudio Yáñez is 34 years old, and works as drill operator.
José Ojeda, 46 years old, is the master driller. Ojeda is widowed and diabetic.
Luis Urzúa is a 54 year old topographer. He is the shift-leader, and was the first miner to talk with authorities. He is known as Don Lucho among the miners. He draw plans of the area of the mine where they are trapped.
Urzúa will be the last miner to leave the mine.
José Henríquez is a 54 years old drill master. He is also an evangelical preacher, and has worked in mines for 33 years.
Víctor Segovia is a 48 years old electrician. He is in charge of writing down everything that happens in the mine.
Pablo Rojas is a 45 years old explosives loader. Married, he had been working less than six months in the mine.
Juan Illanes is a 51 year old miner. He was a sergeant in the Beagle border conflict between Chile and Argentina in 1978, the incident which almost provoked a war between the countries.
Illanes was rescued on Wednesday, at 02:07 local time (05:07 UTC).
Jimmy Sánchez, 19, is the youngest miner. He had been working in the mine for five months before the accident. His role is to check the temperature and humidity in the mine.
Samuel Ávalos is a 43 years miner. His wife Ruth said “he was addicted to the cocaine.” His role in the rescue is to check air quality in the area the miners are living. According to the BBC, “Ávalos has worked in the mine for five months.”
Mario Gómez, aged 63, is the oldest of the miners. He has worked 51 years as miner. His father was also a miner, and is nicknamed “El Navegao” (“The Sailed One”). He was thinking of retiring in November.
Gómez also wrote the message “Estamos bien en el refugio los 33” (“We are fine in the shelter the 33 [of us]”).
Segovia is 48 years old. He is married to Jessica Chille, who said “To hear his voice was a confort to my heart,” after talking with him for the first time in 24 days. His sister María, was nicknamed “La Alcaldesa” (“The Mayoress”) for her leading role at Campamento Esperanza. His father, Darío Senior, was trapped in a mine for a week, and suffered serious injuries after two other mining accidents, according to the BBC.
Carlos Mamani is a 23 years old heavy equipment operator. He is also the only non-Chilean miner; Mamani is Bolivian. He began working in the mine just five days before the accident.
He was rescued at 03:11 local time (06:11 UTC) on Wednesday.
Renán Ávalos is a 29 years old miner, single, who had been working for five months in the mine before the accident. Florencio Ávalos is his brother.
Omar Reygadas is a 56 year old electrician. He began working in the mine shortly before the accident.
Esteban Rojas is a 44 years old miner. Rojas is married to Jessica Yáñez.
Thursday, October 5, 2006
The Independent Monitoring Commission has reported that the Provisional Irish Republican Army has undergone major changes within their military structure and shows that the IRA Army Council wants to put its military campaign behind it. The Commission consists of John Alderdice, a former Alliance Party leader; Joe Brosnan, former Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Republic of Ireland; John Grieve, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and former head of the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terror Branch; and Dick Kerr, former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Agency.
The report states the IRA no longer has the capacity to mount a military campaign anymore or return to one. The units that have been shut down were responsible for weapons-making, arms smuggling and training. The IRA decommissioned their arms last year.
The report also mentions that the IRA has also put its criminality beyond use and is “clamping down” on criminals within the organization, said Lord Alderdice, as he presented the report. He also added, “That doesn’t mean that criminal activity by all members has stopped but the leadership has made public statements and internal directions, investigated incidents of breach of the policy, even expelled some members and has emphasised the importance of ensuring that business affairs are conducted in a legitimate way.”
Finally, the report added that there is not enough evidence or intelligence to identify who killed Denis Donaldson, a British spy who infiltrated the IRA and Sinn Fein, before revealing his status as a spy.
However, the report added that splinter groups like the Real IRA (RIRA) and Continuity IRA (CIRA) are still threats and are still continuing their activity. The Real IRA was the group behind the deadly 1998 Omagh bombing. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) “was not capable of undertaking a sustained campaign [against the British State], nor does it aspire to” according to the report.
It is also noted the creation of two new organizations, Oglaigh na hEireann (Irish Gaelic for “Volunteers of Ireland” and is used by the Irish Defence Forces and the various IRAs.) and the Republican Defence Army. However, the groups are small dissident factions according to the report.
The report also added that the two loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) are also beginning to move from violence but at slower pace and not at a grassroots level like the IRA. Another loyalist paramilitary, the Loyalist Volunteer Force
The report was received warmly by Irish Toaiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Ahern, said “These positive and clear-cut findings are of the utmost importance and significance. It is time to make decisions and for Northern Ireland to look to the future.”
“The IRA has done what we asked it to do, and while issues like policing remain to be solved, the door is now open to a final settlement, which is why the talks next week in Scotland are going to be so important.” said Tony Blair in a live statement.
In a surprising reaction, the notoriously hardline leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Ian Paisley, also welcomed the report. He believes that his party’s pressure is working and if Sinn Fein signs up to policing there could be a deal. Paisley said, “If the police question is settled absolutely on a democratic basis and principle we would have come a long way along the road.”
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said “The DUP don’t have anything other than very limited options. They will or will not participate in power-sharing arrangements. If they don’t participate they are condemning people here, but particularly their own constituents, to second class public services, run by second class fly-in, fly-out British ministers. All the DUP can do is to delay, is to attempt to slow down, but they can’t stop the process of changing.”
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Toyota announced on Friday that it will recall around 17,000 Lexus vehicles in response to risks of the fuel tank in the cars leaking after a collision.
The Lexus HS 250h model was subjected to the recall following a US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation. Despite previously passing Toyota safety inspections, the conclusions of an NHTSA sub-contracted investigator were that; when the vehicles in question collided with an object at more than fifty-miles-per hour, more than 142 grams of fuel, the maximum allowed by US law, leaked from the crashed car.
According to Toyota, further tests did not show any additional failure of the fuel tank.
In response to the findings, Toyota issued a recall of all affected vehicles, since the company had no solution immediately available. The recall includes 13,000 cars already sold, as well as another 4,000 still at dealerships.
Toyota says it plans to conduct further tests to determine the cause of the leak. A Toyota spokesman, Brian Lyons, said that the company was “still working to determine what the root cause of the condition is.” It’s still unclear when exactly the recall will take place, or when dealerships will be allowed to sell this model again. Lyons said that Toyota is “working feverishly to get this resolved as soon as possible.”
Toyota isn’t aware of any accidents stemming from the leaking fuel tank in the affected vehicles, first introduced in the summer of 2009.
Saturday, September 12, 2015
A storm yesterday caused a crane to fall into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing 107 or more and wounding 238, according to Saudi Arabia’s Civil Defense Authority.
Civil Defense Authority director General Suleiman al-Amr, in remarks to al-Ikhbariya television, said “All those who were wounded and the dead have been taken to hospital. There are no casualties left at the location”.
The accident, which occurred yesterday afternoon, was caused by strong winds and heavy rain that led the crane to fall. Photos released of the scene showed numerous bloodied bodies and various scattered debris.
The accident occurred at a time when the mosque was relatively uncrowded. “Had it happened an hour later it would have been much worse,” Khaled Al-Maeena, editor at large at the Saudi Gazette, said. “Had it happened five hours earlier or four hours earlier, I think the death toll would have been more than a thousand.”
The crane accident comes just ten days before the beginning of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. As undergoing a pilgrimage to Mecca is a mandatory religious duty for all Muslims who physically and financially can, millions of pilgrims arrive in Mecca each year for the Hajj. Construction was underway at the mosque in order to enlarge the mosque and improve crowd control, which has been a recurring problem during Mecca’s pilgrimages.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Digital radio listeners in the UK may have noticed a new station on their list over the last few months with the beta launch of Amazing Radio, founded by Paul Campbell as a follow up and companion to Amazing Tunes. However, unlike the majority of the other stations on both digital and FM, Amazing Radio doesn’t play normal, mainstream music. Instead, its playlist consists solely of music from unsigned bands and artists who have signed up and uploaded their music to AmazingTunes.com. Their music can then be downloaded from the site, for which they get paid. The more downloads and interest an artist receives, the more likely they are to get played on the national radio station. Amazing markets itself as an “ethical” download website, on which artists get 70% of the download revenues. They now have more than 22,000 songs uploaded, with about 100 uploaded every day.
|Blimey, I sound like some corporate twat.|
Paul Campbell himself has extensive experience in both radio and television production, having worked for BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4. After success with his own production company in the nineties and with support from investors, Campbell launched Amazing Tunes in 2005.
As Amazing Radio introduces a new schedule for the New Year, with presenters rather than solely pre-recorded links, Wikinews reporter Tristan Thomas interviewed Campbell to find out more.
((Wikinews)) Hi Paul, thanks for doing this interview.
((Paul Campbell)) My pleasure – thanks very much for asking me. We’re really grateful that Wikinews is interested in us.
((PC)) Sure: in a nutshell, the complaint was about unfair competition – about the BBC not following its own rules. It’s still ongoing. It will take, ahem, a while to resolve.
The details are a bit complex, but here goes. (If you commit suicide out of the boredom at what follows, I apologise).
As British readers will know, the BBC has a guaranteed and very comfortable income derived from the Licence Fee – effectively a tax you have to pay if you want a TV. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), this generates an income to the BBC of about stg4.5bn per annum. Nice.
|BBC people live in an insulated, publicly-funded world|
Not really. In recent years the beeb has increasingly used this gargantuan income – and its incredible audience reach online, on radio & TV – to launch new services that make life impossible for everyone who is not the BBC. These have ranged from e-learning content (that completely wrecked the market for private publishers), to a new digital radio station (that caused a private speech station to go bust), to an attempt to launch online regional news services (which caused howls of outrage from local newspapers). The BBC does it for the best of reasons – to provide a public service – but BBC people live in an insulated, publicly-funded world, one where you know with complete certainty you’ll get paid on the 15th of every month. It’s a million miles away from the real world, where entrepreneurial people take risks, and lose their jobs and their houses if it goes wrong. Here, the BBC’s actions have grave implications. And not just for private companies: the UK as a whole is very good at creative industries, which are the fastest-growing part of the economy. But it’s kinda hard to grow a global business if your domestic market has been wrecked by a rampaging, publicly-funded, bull in a china shop. So by accidentally knackering private companies, the BBC is also damaging the British economy.
Wise people noticed this. A few years ago the Governance of the BBC was changed. A new regulator, the BBC Trust, was created. It tried to address the problem. It insists the Corporation does a ‘public value test’ when it wants to launch a new service, or to expand an existing one.
Here, it hasn’t. Although the BBC has a longstanding commitment to play new music on its local radio stations, and one of its most famous DJs John Peel had an outstanding show on BBC Radio 1 for many years which played new music (and was, incidentally, produced by one of our new presenters), it’s suddenly changed the game. It’s launched a huge expansion and automation of this formerly piecemeal and limited activity, targeted exclusively at unsigned bands. BBC Introducing is a pan-BBC brand, combining local and network radio, television, online, even a special stage at Glastonbury. There’s a very expensive online upload service which I just know would have cost ten times what we had to spend on our similar service. There’s a Head of Department, doubtless with dozens of staff. I’ll bet they have BBC Introducing pens. It’s everywhere.
This is, by any reckoning, a ‘new service’. But it’s not been subjected to a public value test. Worse, I have it on very good authority from someone inside the BBC that BBC Worldwide – its commercial arm – is planning to launch a BBC Introducing record label – i.e., an overtly commercial expansion of BBC Introducing. This would be like the BBC trying to create a new version of the music industry, all by itself.
Whether or not you think it’s a good thing for the beeb to champion new music, you may agree it should follow its own rules. It hasn’t. There was no Public Value Test; no request to the Trust to be allowed to do this.
So we complained. It was a bit hilarious. The Trust said they weren’t allowed to investigate until we’d complained to the beeb itself and the BBC had rejected our complaint. There was a long pause as I tried to understand the logic. I said ‘I’m guessing the BBC didn’t do a PVT because it didn’t think it needed to do a PVT. We think they should have done. We’re asking you to investigate, to see if you agree’. They said ‘you have to complain to them first. It’s protocol’. It’s all very British – i.e., charmingly polite … ludicrously bureaucratic … and totally useless.
So we have another hoop to jump through. We’re now preparing our formal complaint to the BBC itself – whose Director General is someone I used to work with, when we were both fresh-faced BBC trainees in 1981. It takes time: I’ll have to write it myself, and I have a business to run. The beeb will have a small army of staff whose only job is to read it … and reject it. (They always reject criticism; it’s the BBC’s default position. They usually do it with a slightly pained expression, hurt that anyone could fail to understand their brilliance and omniscience. Either that, or they try to demolish your intellect and cast doubt on your probity. Either way, they’ll reject it).
When they do, we’ll then be able to go back to the BBC Trust to say ‘guess what? The BBC rejected our complaint. Now will you investigate?’. Yawn.
|All this might make me seem a BBC-hater. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. The BBC trained me.|
All this might make me seem a BBC-hater. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. The BBC trained me. I was once, so I was told by the Head of Appointments, its youngest-ever Producer. Despite appearances, I firmly believe it’s one of the best things about the UK. I wrote to The Times of London recently in defence of it. But unfortunately it’s really, really bad at understanding the damage it does to private companies, the ones like ours that create jobs and try to create wealth, without the benefit of a guaranteed income. (Or even, any income at all).
The stakes are high. The conventional music industry is falling to bits around us. There’s an historic opportunity to re-invent music in a way that’s fair to musicians and music-lovers, and also creates jobs and wealth in the real economy. It’s vitally important the BBC, with its publicly-funded hobnailed boots, doesn’t ruin that opportunity.
So we’ll do our complaint, wait for it to be rejected, complain to the Trust, and keep battering away. Fun fun fun. (This would never happen in the States).
((WN)) You don’t accept any PRS registered artists at all. Why not?
HAVE YOUR SAY
Do you agree with Paul? Are PRS getting it completely wrong?
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((PC)) We’d love to – after all, we have the same aim as PRS, which is to make it easier for musicians to earn a living from their talent. But we can’t. There’s two reasons.
- 1. PRS has a barmy standard contract for using their members’ music online. It requires us to pay them a fixed percentage of ALL revenue from that website – whether or not the revenue is derived from their members’ work. So if we had 100,000 songs from non-PRS artists on amazingtunes.com, and one song from a PRS artist, we’d have to pay them a percentage of the revenue from ALL 100,000 songs. I.e., we’d have to take money out of the pockets out of non-PRS artists to pay to PRS. That would be immoral.
- 2. If we played PRS artists on the radio, we’d have to pay PRS for our use of their members’ music. Sound fair enough? But PRS doesn’t know what to do with the money. They’d put it into a big bucket, then share it out among ALL their artists – not the members whose songs we played, all their artists, including rich and famous signed ones. The vast majority of PRS payments go to a tiny minority of artists (and big record labels). So it would be another case of stealing from Peter to pay Paul. Paul McCartney, that is.
I wrote to the CEO of PRS when we first launched Amazing Radio pointing out these absurdities and asking if we could do a more intelligent deal. I said that I thought we had identical aims – to make life fair for musicians. I suggested we could/should be a feeder to them, introducing new members to PRS as they grew in the music industry. But so far, the PRS head is still firmly in the sand.
((WN)) And how would you suggest PRS could improve? If they did, would you consider allowing artists registered with them?
((PC)) PRS could improve by;
- a. buying some computers (so they could handle our comprehensive data about the tracks we play, and then pay the right people);
- b. accepting that we want to mix PRS and non-PRS artists, and only asking for a share of the artists they actually represent.
If they did that, we’d sign up. This would not necessarily be popular with our audience. A lot of people – especially charities and small businesses – like the fact that they can listen to Amazing Radio without a PRS licence. But we’d do it anyway, as it would be a better service for musicians.
|PRS should also stop threatening to murder law-abiding people who want to listen to music at work|
My personal view is that the PRS should also stop threatening to murder law-abiding people who want to listen to music at work. There was a recent case where they threatened someone for singing at work. They actually did that. They later apologized, but it revealed the corporate mentality. I think it’s incredibly counter-productive; it means their members make less money, not more; it’s ruining perceptions of what motivates musicians; it’s causing thousands of people to stop listening to music. When really, PRS should be encouraging that, shouldn’t it?
((WN)) With regard to Amazing Tunes, how many downloads could your most popular artist expect to receive per month and monetary wise, how would this compare to them receiving that number from iTunes?
((PC)) Sorry, but we don’t currently release detailed figures – our competitors would love it, but we’d rather be nice to our artists and our investors instead. We do say that we expect amazingtunes.com artists to make ‘anything from a few quid, to a good living, to a small fortune’. At the moment, because it’s still very early days, people are clustered towards the first two of those options. As things grow – and there’s been incredible growth even in the past few months – we hope/expect more and more artists will start to make tens of thousands of pounds each month. We’ll soon register for the official chart, and our guess is that someone will have a major hit before long. Then everything will go really crazy.
So far as the iTunes comparisons go, the facts are already public domain. An artist on iTunes can expect to make 8p from a 79p download. The same artist on amazingtunes.com will make about 52p. We only deduct the VAT and the cost of the transaction: 70% of what’s left goes to the artist. What’s more, their income will improve over time – the more downloads we sell, the less the transactions cost us, so the more cash there is to give to the artists. That’s one reason we ask people to buy eight or more songs in one transaction – it’s much more cost-effective, less of their cash goes to VISA, more to the artist. (See my Blog post on this here – ).
((WN)) Amazing Radio launched in mid-2009. How has it grown since then and what are your current listening figures?
((PC)) It’s gone mad since then. I’ve worked in broadcasting and the media since 1978 (I was very very young then, mind you). I’ve never known anything like it. The reaction has been absolutely incredible – and it’s growing faster than ever right now. The most humbling thing has been the audience feedback – masses of long emails from people we’ve never met, saying they found it by accident, and they love it.
|the best guess I’ve heard in the industry is that we have something like 600,000 listeners in the UK on DAB.|
We’ve not yet paid for RAJAR audience figures because – well, because we’re a bit mean really, and I’m not convinced they would accurately measure our audience. I think RAJAR is very good at coming out with figures for radio stations that have been going for 40 years, but not very accurate when it comes to new and innovative stations which are also listened to a lot online and especially popular with young people. But the best guess I’ve heard in the industry is that we have something like 600,000 listeners in the UK on DAB. That’s an estimate, but it came from a very wise source. We have slightly more than that number on top as regular users online, and a weekly reach for amazingtunes.com of about two million users. But it’s all growing so fast, those numbers will be out of date by the time you read this.
((WN)) DAB transmission costs are well over half a million pounds a year. How is this being funded currently and how are you planning to fund it in the future?
((PC)) We’re not contractually allowed to tell you what we pay, so we can’t confirm or deny the cost. Whatever the true figure, it is undeniably expensive; but it gives our musicians a chance to be on national radio. We figure it’s worth it. I’m reminded of that wonderful teachers’ union bumper sticker: ‘if you think education’s expensive, try ignorance’. If you think creating the world’s first radio station playing 100% new music is expensive …. try being inaudible.
So far, we’ve been funded by a very small number of private investors, people of enormous wisdom and insight, natch. They understand that we have a very serious, long-term and audacious ambition to change the music industry for the better, to make radio interesting again, and to turn the word ‘amazing’ into a global challenger brand.
This year, we expect to do one final fund-raising in the UK, then to raise a lot of money on the West Coast of the USA to make this absolutely massive and global, fast. They understand this scale of ambition there.
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((WN)) What are your plans for Amazing Radio in 2010? Any exciting announcements to come?
((PC)) ‘Fraid so.
In 2010, we hope to make Amazing Radio the default station for everyone who has ever had that incredible experience of hearing a song for the first time, and having to stop what you’re doing to listen to it: a station for everyone who has broad musical tastes, a respect for musical talent and an open mind. We want it to be constantly surprising, fresh, original, sometimes hilarious, always unexpected.
Blimey, I sound like some corporate twat.
Now (obviously) it wouldn’t be massively unexpected if we suddenly started revealing all the unexpected things in advance – but basically, we’d like the message to spread that we’re doing something different, fresh, original and ethical – so we’ll launch more new programmes and more new services – on Amazing Radio and amazingtunes.com. Things like our virtual radio station Amazing Ambient. . There’ll be some video and some TV along soon too. And other cool stuff.
It may not be ‘insanely cool’; just cool will do just fine.
We also want to do it in other places. E.g. America. We’ve already started there. We’ll be unexpected there too.
((WN)) Finally, your favourite artist on Amazing Tunes/Radio at the moment?
((PC)) Now this will sound like a real cop-out, but I never ever say who my favourite artist is. It’s for a serious reason. I’m not some musical Einstein – I’m merely the bloke who started amazing. And I’m merely a drummer. My taste doesn’t matter. EVERYBODY’s musical taste does. One of the many problems of conventional record companies is that they think geezers in suits in big glass buildings have the right to decide what’s good music. We think the world does. I’ve found hundreds of incredible songs that I love, across loads of styles of music. You’ll find hundreds of your own. Enjoy.
((WN)) Thank you very much for your time Paul. Good luck for 2010.
((PC)) Thanks very much, we really appreciate it. 2010 is going to be amazing.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The president of Egypt has suffered a “devastating blow” after the country’s army announced they would not use force against their own people, who continue to protest against the government tonight. The news came hours after six journalists who reported on the protests were released from custody.
Hosni Mubarak yesterday announced a new cabinet, which does not include several figures who protesters largely do not approve of. Analysts have, however, suggested little had changed within the government; many positions, they say, are filled with military figures.
|To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people … have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people.|
In a statement broadcast on state media in Egypt, the army said: “To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people … have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people.” A BBC correspondent in Cairo said the announcement meant it “now seems increasingly likely that the 30-year rule of Mr Mubarak is drawing to a close.”
“The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing. The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people,” the statement added. “Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody.”
Earlier today, six journalists from the independent news network Al-Jazeera were released from custody after being detained by police. The U.S. State Department criticized the arrests; equipment was reportedly confiscated from the journalists.
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Egyptian officials yesterday ordered the satellite channel to stop broadcasting in the country. Al-Jazeera said they were “appalled” by the government’s decision to close its Egyptian offices, which they described as the “latest attack by the Egyptian regime to strike at its freedom to report independently on the unprecedented events in Egypt.”
In a statement, the news agency added: “Al-Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists. In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people.”
On Friday, Wikinews reported the government had shut off practically all Internet traffic both out of and into the nation, as well as disrupting cellphone usage. A spokesperson for the social networking website Facebook said “limiting Internet access for millions of people is a matter of concern for the global community.”
A reported 50,000 campaigners, who are demanding the long-time leader step down and complaining of poverty, corruption, and oppression, filled Tahrir Square in Cairo today, chanting “We will stay until the coward leaves.” It is thought 100 people have so far died in the demonstrations. Today there have been protests in Suez, Mansoura, Damanhour, and Alexandria.
Speaking to news media in the area, many protesters said the new cabinet did little to quell their anger. “We want a complete change of government, with a civilian authority,” one said. Another added: “This is not a new government. This is the same regime—this is the same bluff. [Mubarak] has been bluffing us for 30 years.”
In Tahrir Square today, protesters played music as strings of barbed wire and army tanks stood nearby. Demonstrators scaled light poles, hanging Egyptian flags and calling for an end to Mubarak’s rule. “One poster featured Mubarak’s face plastered with a Hitler mustache, a sign of the deep resentment toward the 82-year-old leader they blame for widespread poverty, inflation and official indifference and brutality during his 30 years in power,” one journalist in the square reported this evening.