Oscar Diös tells Wikinews about his hostel within a Boeing 747

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oscar Diös is a Swedish businessman looking to invest in a new project within the aviation community. He’s already bought the venture’s first airliner, a Boeing 747-200.

However, his intention is not to start an airline, and the jet is not intended for flight. Instead, he plans to convert the airliner into a unique business which he calls the ‘Jumbo Hostel’. The 450-seat widebodied jetliner will have 25 rooms sleeping a total of 85 people, including some in a luxury suite in the cockpit, and will sit at the entrance to Stockholm-Arlanda Airport.

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Built in 1976, the aircraft was an “old wreck” when acquired, according to Oscar. The aircraft was being offered for sale at Stolkholm-Arlanda after previous owner Transjet became bankrupt. The airframe has then been completely gutted and is being fitted with a new, modernised interior. Each room contains three bunk beds. A cafe and a walkway across the left wing are also featured.

The airliner will sit on a concrete platform at the airport’s entrance, with its landing gear secured in steel cradles. It is intended to offer a good view of the day-to-day operation of the airport.

The hostel, which is to open in December, is aimed at families with children, aviation enthusiasts, low-budget travelers and people catching early morning flights who wish to leave it as late as possible before rising to get to check-in – unlike its competitors, the Jumbo Hostel is ten minutes walk from the check-in desks.

Wikinews conducted an email interview with Oscar Diös to talk about the hostel. The full exclusive interview is available below.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Oscar_Diös_tells_Wikinews_about_his_hostel_within_a_Boeing_747&oldid=1972030”

Israel Journal: Is Yossi Vardi a good father to his entrepreneurial children?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone is currently, courtesy of the Israeli government and friends, visiting Israel. This is a first-hand account of his experiences and may — as a result — not fully comply with Wikinews’ neutrality policy. Please note this is a journalism experiment for Wikinews and put constructive criticism on the collaboration page.

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Dr. Yossi Vardi is known as Israel’s ‘Father of the Entrepreneur’, and he has many children in the form of technology companies he has helped to incubate in Tel Aviv‘s booming Internet sector. At the offices of Superna, one such company, he introduced a whirlwind of presentations from his baby incubators to a group of journalists. What stuck most in my head was when Vardi said, “What is important is not the technology, but the talent.” Perhaps because he repeated this after each young Internet entrepreneur showed us his or her latest creation under Vardi’s tutelage. I had a sense of déjà vu from this mantra. A casual reader of the newspapers during the Dot.com boom will remember a glut of stories that could be called “The Rise of the Failure”; people whose technology companies had collapsed were suddenly hot commodities to start up new companies. This seemingly paradoxical thinking was talked about as new back then; but even Thomas Edison—the Father of Invention—is oft-quoted for saying, “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

Vardi’s focus on encouraging his brood of talent regardless of the practicalities stuck out to me because of a recent pair of “dueling studies” The New York Times has printed. These are the sort of studies that confuse parents on how to raise their kids. The first, by Carol Dweck at Stanford University, came to the conclusion that children who are not praised for their efforts, regardless of the outcome’s success, rarely attempt more challenging and complex pursuits. According to Dweck’s study, when a child knows that they will receive praise for being right instead of for tackling difficult problems, even if they fail, they will simply elect to take on easy tasks in which they are assured of finding the solution.

Only one month earlier the Times produced another story for parents to agonize over, this time based on a study from the Brookings Institution, entitled “Are Kids Getting Too Much Praise?” Unlike Dweck’s clinical study, Brookings drew conclusions from statistical data that could be influenced by a variety of factors (since there was no clinical control). The study found American kids are far more confident that they have done well than their Korean counterparts, even when the inverse is true. The Times adds in the words of a Harvard faculty psychologist who intoned, “Self-esteem is based on real accomplishments. It’s all about letting kids shine in a realistic way.” But this is not the first time the self-esteem generation’s proponents have been criticized.

Vardi clearly would find himself encouraged by Dweck’s study, though, based upon how often he seemed to ask us to keep our eyes on the people more than the products. That’s not to say he has not found his latest ICQ, though only time—and consumers—will tell.

For a Web 2.User like myself, I was most fascinated by Fixya, a site that, like Wikipedia, exists on the free work of people with knowledge. Fixya is a tech support site where people who are having problems with equipment ask a question and it is answered by registered “experts.” These experts are the equivalent of Wikipedia’s editors: they are self-ordained purveyors of solutions. But instead of solving a mystery of knowledge a reader has in their head, these experts solve a problem related to something you have bought and do not understand. From baby cribs to cellular phones, over 500,000 products are “supported” on Fixya’s website. The Fixya business model relies upon the good will of its experts to want to help other people through the ever-expanding world of consumer appliances. But it is different from Wikipedia in two important ways. First, Fixya is for-profit. The altruistic exchange of information is somewhat dampened by the knowledge that somebody, somewhere, is profiting from whatever you give. Second, with Wikipedia it is very easy for a person to type in a few sentences about a subject on an article about the Toshiba Satellite laptop, but to answer technical problems a person is experiencing seems like a different realm. But is it? “It’s a beautiful thing. People really want to help other people,” said the presenter, who marveled at the community that has already developed on Fixya. “Another difference from Wikipedia is that we have a premium content version of the site.” Their premium site is where they envision making their money. Customers with a problem will assign a dollar amount based upon how badly they need an answer to a question, and the expert-editors of Fixya will share in the payment for the resolved issue. Like Wikipedia, reputation is paramount to Fixya’s experts. Whereas Wikipedia editors are judged by how they are perceived in the Wiki community, the amount of barnstars they receive and by the value of their contributions, Fixya’s customers rate its experts based upon the usefulness of their advice. The site is currently working on offering extended warranties with some manufacturers, although it was not clear how that would work on a site that functioned on the work of any expert.

Another collaborative effort product presented to us was YouFig, which is software designed to allow a group of people to collaborate on work product. This is not a new idea, although may web-based products have generally fallen flat. The idea is that people who are working on a multi-media project can combine efforts to create a final product. They envision their initial market to be academia, but one could see the product stretching to fields such as law, where large litigation projects with high-level of collaboration on both document creation and media presentation; in business, where software aimed at product development has generally not lived up to its promises; and in the science and engineering fields, where multi-media collaboration is quickly becoming not only the norm, but a necessity.

For the popular consumer market, Superna, whose offices hosted our meeting, demonstrated their cost-saving vision for the Smart Home (SH). Current SH systems require a large, expensive server in order to coordinate all the electronic appliances in today’s air-conditioned, lit and entertainment-saturated house. Such coordinating servers can cost upwards of US$5,000, whereas Superna’s software can turn a US$1,000 hand-held tablet PC into household remote control.

There were a few start-ups where Vardi’s fatherly mentoring seemed more at play than long-term practical business modeling. In the hot market of WiFi products, WeFi is software that will allow groups of users, such as friends, share knowledge about the location of free Internet WiFi access, and also provide codes and keys for certain hot spots, with access provided only to the trusted users within a group. The mock-up that was shown to us had a Google Maps-esque city block that had green points to the known hot spots that are available either for free (such as those owned by good Samaritans who do not secure their WiFi access) or for pay, with access information provided for that location. I saw two long-term problems: first, WiMAX, which is able to provide Internet access to people for miles within its range. There is already discussion all over the Internet as to whether this technology will eventually make WiFi obsolete, negating the need to find “hot spots” for a group of friends. Taiwan is already testing an island-wide WiMAX project. The second problem is if good Samaritans are more easily located, instead of just happened-upon, how many will keep their WiFi access free? It has already become more difficult to find people willing to contribute to free Internet. Even in Tel Aviv, and elsewhere, I have come across several secure wireless users who named their network “Fuck Off” in an in-your-face message to freeloaders.

Another child of Vardi’s that the Brookings Institution might say was over-praised for self-esteem but lacking real accomplishment is AtlasCT, although reportedly Nokia offered to pay US$8.1 million for the software, which they turned down. It is again a map-based software that allows user-generated photographs to be uploaded to personalized street maps that they can share with friends, students, colleagues or whomever else wants to view a person’s slideshow from their vacation to Paris (“Dude, go to the icon over Boulevard Montmartre and you’ll see this girl I thought was hot outside the Hard Rock Cafe!”) Aside from the idea that many people probably have little interest in looking at the photo journey of someone they know (“You can see how I traced the steps of Jesus in the Galilee“), it is also easy to imagine Google coming out with its own freeware that would instantly trump this program. Although one can see an e-classroom in architecture employing such software to allow students to take a walking tour through Rome, its desirability may be limited.

Whether Vardi is a smart parent for his encouragement, or in fact propping up laggards, is something only time will tell him as he attempts to bring these products of his children to market. The look of awe that came across each company’s representative whenever he entered the room provided the answer to the question of Who’s your daddy?

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Israel_Journal:_Is_Yossi_Vardi_a_good_father_to_his_entrepreneurial_children%3F&oldid=1979332”

Media round-up: April Fools’ Day 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Many media outlets traditionally deliberately spread hoaxes on April Fools’ Day, including notable quality sources such as National Geographic and Science.

The popular British tabloid The Sun wrote that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to undergo stretch surgery to make him taller than his wife, Italian artist and model Carla Bruni. The report claimed the 5 foot 5 inch leader would be made 5 inches taller in one year using a method by Israeli professor Ura Schmuck. The Sun noted that during his visit to Britain last week, Sarkozy had high-heel shoes while his wife wore a pair of flat pumps.

The Guardian on the other hand ran an article that suggested that Carla would head an initiative by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to bring more glamour, good taste and sophistication to the U.K. general population. This would involve collaboration with Marks & Spencer for high-street fashion and Jamie Oliver for meals and wine.

BBC News had real-looking footage of flying penguins fronted by documentary host Terry Jones, which were actually an advertisement for its new iPlayer.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Media_round-up:_April_Fools%27_Day_2008&oldid=4608358”

Concerns raised over UK hospital disinfection practices

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

A survey, conducted by the Patients’ Association, an independent charity devoted to defending the interests of patients, has revealed “unease and concern among health professionals” that infection control practices in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service are “endangering patients’ lives”. The survey published today, revealed that NHS infection control staff felt that infection control was inadequately financed, that training was inadequate and that much time has to be spent reassuring patients.

The Association is concerned that the financial deficits of many NHS trusts may prejudice good infection control practice because the resources allocated for this are not effectively ring-fenced. There was evidence of inadequate training and execution of good practice. The report also listed shortcomings in way supplies were acquired and delays in getting supplies of the preferred disinfectant: 2% Chlorhexidine-based solution.

BBC reported that a recent paper to a Society for General Microbiology conference by a University of Leeds team has shown that two chemical cleaners commonly used in hospitals, far from reducing the prevalence of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) bacterium, actually increased its ability to survive. Only cleaners containing bleach had been proved effective in disposing of this bacterium. Authors of the paper refused to disclose what those two cleaners were.

There is particular concern in the Patients’ Association about the absence of adequate data on the spread of C. difficile. The Telegraph quotes Katharine Murphy, of the Patients’ Association, as saying: “Collection of data about this very dangerous infection is haphazard to say the least, and we are not getting the true picture. How can patients have confidence in their hospitals if the real threat posed by C. difficile is being played down?”

The Report found that only a fifth of respondents confirmed the collection of surgical-site infection data and that only 27% reported infection data about C. difficile; despite the requirement that Trusts collect and report these data.

Trusts are also required to report the incidence of surgical-site infection, but the Patients’ Association survey found that only a fifth of respondents confirmed the collection of these data.

The Patients Association called this a “worrying and haphazard situation”.

The Telegraph reports that experts consider that C. difficile is an even greater threat to patient’s health than MRSA.

Leicester NHS Trust has reported 49 deaths associated with C. difficile. in three of its hospitals. Six deaths have been reported at Maidstone Hospital and the Healthcare Commission has been asked to investigate. C. difficile was associated with the deaths of nearly 1000 patient in 2003.

A new Code of Practice “for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections” was issued by the Department of Health in October 2006 under the Health Act 2006. This refers to the NHS in England and Wales only.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Concerns_raised_over_UK_hospital_disinfection_practices&oldid=4627109”

Euro reaches new lows

Friday, July 15, 2011

On Tuesday, the Euro fell to a new record low in relation to the Swiss Franc, and to multi-month lows against the U.S. Dollar and Japanese yen; all considered by investors to be safe currencies during times of economic turmoil.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that recent comments from the newly installed head of the International Monetary Fund, France’s Christine Lagarde, resulted in a sell-off of the Euro. At a roundtable discussion in Washington, Lagarde noted that the IMF had not yet reached discussion of terms and conditions of a second Greek bailout plan. In fact, a representative from the IMF is currently meeting with Eurozone policymakers to draft such a new proposal. The yield differential between Italian bonds and German bonds has spread to more than 300 basis points, something not seen in over a decade and evidence of investors’ concern.

Adding to the Euro’s woes is the upcoming release of the bank stress tests on Friday. The European Bankers Association said that they expect the data release to shed new light on the Eurozone’s banking situation. Representatives of several of the Eurozone’s governments, including Germany, have requested that the association consider releasing fewer specific details for fear that investor panic will ensue. The inadequacy of the capitalization rates has been an issue with the European Central Bank, whose president recently called upon Eurozone banks to make every effort to put their balance sheets in order.

For the time being at least, an unsubstantiated rumor reported by the Wall Street Journal states that the Eurozone’s central banks’ purchase of periphery debt has helped to quell the downward momentum of the Euro.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Euro_reaches_new_lows&oldid=4456539”

Wikinews interviews Democratic candidate for the Texas 6th congressional district special election Daryl Eddings, Sr’s campaign manager

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Wikinews extended invitations by e-mail on March 23 to multiple candidates running in the Texas’ 6th congressional district special election of May 1 to fill a vacancy left upon the death of Republican congressman Ron Wright. Of them, the office of Democrat Daryl Eddings, Sr. agreed to answer some questions by phone March 30 about their campaigns and policies. The following is the interview with Ms Chatham on behalf of Mr Eddings, Sr.

Eddings is a federal law enforcement officer and senior non-commissioned officer in the US military. His experience as operations officer of an aviation unit in the California National Guard includes working in Los Angeles to control riots sparked by the O. J. Simpson murder case and the police handling of Rodney King, working with drug interdiction teams in Panama and Central America and fighting in the Middle East. He is the founder of Operation Battle Buddy, which has under his leadership kept in touch with over 20 thousand veterans and their families. He was born in California, but moved to Midlothian, Texas. He endeavours to bring “good government, not no government”. Campaign manager Faith Chatham spoke to Wikinews on matters ranging from healthcare to housing.

An Inside Elections poll published on March 18 shows Republican candidate Susan Wright, the widow of Ron Wright, is ahead by 21% followed by Democrat Jana Sanchez with 17% and Republican Jake Ellzey with 8% with a 4.6% margin of error among 450 likely voters. The district is considered “lean Republican” by Inside Elections and voted 51% in favour of Donald Trump in last year’s US presidential election. This is down from 54% for Trump in 2016’s presidential election, the same poll stated.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Wikinews_interviews_Democratic_candidate_for_the_Texas_6th_congressional_district_special_election_Daryl_Eddings,_Sr%27s_campaign_manager&oldid=4702085”

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.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=United_States_Speaker_of_the_House_Paul_Ryan_announces_retirement&oldid=4457270”

Eva Hassett, VP of Savarino Construction Services Corp. answers questions on Buffalo, N.Y. hotel redesign

Buffalo, N.Y. Hotel Proposal Controversy
Recent Developments
  • “Old deeds threaten Buffalo, NY hotel development” — Wikinews, November 21, 2006
  • “Proposal for Buffalo, N.Y. hotel reportedly dead: parcels for sale “by owner”” — Wikinews, November 16, 2006
  • “Contract to buy properties on site of Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal extended” — Wikinews, October 2, 2006
  • “Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal rescheduled” — Wikinews, July 26, 2006
  • “Elmwood Village Hotel proposal in Buffalo, N.Y. withdrawn” — Wikinews, July 13, 2006
  • “Preliminary hearing against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal delayed” — Wikinews, June 2, 2006
Original Story
  • “Hotel development proposal could displace Buffalo, NY business owners” — Wikinews, February 17, 2006

Monday, February 27, 2006

Buffalo, New York —Wikinews was the first to tell you that the Elmwood Village Hotel development in Buffalo, New York was to undergo “significant changes”.

The Elmwood Village Hotel is a proposed project that would be placed at Elmwood and Forest Aves. in Buffalo. In order for the development to take place, at least five buildings that house both businesses and residents, must be demolished.

To confirm and to get more information about the changes, Wikinews interviewed Eva Hassett, Vice President of Savarino Construction Services Corporation, the development company in charge of building the hotel.

Wikinews: The hotel proposal is being redesigned. Could you comment on that? What changes are being made? Are they significant?

Eva Hassett: The hotel has been resized as a 72-room, four story building. This is 10% smaller in number of rooms and a full story lower. We are also redesigning the facades in a way that will minimize the mass – more of a vertical feeling than horizontal. Different materials, windows, details. The smaller size of the hotel also makes the number of on-site parking spaces more appropriate and hopefully represents less of a challenge to an already difficult parking situation.

WN: Will you still be going before the city’s planning board as scheduled on February 28? Same for the Common Council?

Hassett: We will be on the Planning Board agenda this Tuesday morning but I do not expect that the Board will vote on the item that morning. I think we will be mainly explaining the new design and hearing input/questions.

WN: Will there be anymore public meetings?

Hassett: We would be happy to do one more big public meeting. We will be talking to Forever Elmwood about that on Monday (February 27, 2006). We would like to see if there is support for the new design and we also want to honor the public’s request for another meeting. I am hopeful that meeting can take place the week of March 6th.

WN: Is Savarino considering Mr. Rocco Termini’s design/proposal? If no, do you (Savarino) support/oppose?

Hassett: We are hopeful that we can build the hotel as redesigned. We think it would be a great addition to the Elmwood Ave. area, a good way for out-of-towners to see what Buffalo offers and a big help to the businesses there.

WN: Are you considering more time for the community to make a judgment?

Hassett: As I mentioned above, we expect to have one more meeting to get public reaction to the new design, and I think the Planning Board may want an additional meeting to make their determination. We do however, have constraints that will limit the amount of extra time. We still think it is a great project for the City and Elmwood; and we still want it to be something that the community wants as well.

So far, the City of Buffalo’s City Planning Board is still scheduled to meet at 8:00 a.m. (Eastern) on February 28, 2006 followed by the Common Council meeting at 2:00 p.m. on the same day.

Images of the design are not yet available. “We are working on the renderings this weekend, but I will likely have some early in the week,” stated Hassett.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Eva_Hassett,_VP_of_Savarino_Construction_Services_Corp._answers_questions_on_Buffalo,_N.Y._hotel_redesign&oldid=1981800”

Wikinews Shorts: April 19, 2007

A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, April 19, 2007.

Wikinews reported previously on an Internet outage in New Zealand that lasted for over five hours. Telecom New Zealand, the company that owns and operates the “local loop”, said that they will review compensation for its customers on a case-by-case basis.

A wholesale ISP is attempting to give its subscribers compensation for the outage. CallPlus says that it is asking Telecom for the thousands of dollars it needs to pass on to its affected customers. They doubt Telecom will give them the money needed.

Related news

  • “Outage leaves tens of thousands of New Zealanders without Internet” — Wikinews, April 18, 2007

Sources

  • Newsroom. “Callplus seeks Telecom compo” — National Business Review, April 19, 2007
  • “CallPlus to seek compo over broadband outage” — Radio New Zealand, April 19, 2007

Farmers in Peru striking over the Peruvian government’s stance on coca, have issued an ultimatum. The ultimatum appears to be: negotiate within 24 hours, or face roadblocks indefinitely.

The protests come in response to a coca eradication drive and measures Peruvian president Alan García is taking against cocaine production in the country.

Peruvian police have arrested the leader of the Shining Path rebel group, Jimmy Rodríguez on charges of organising anti-government protests.

Sources

  • Dan Collyns. “Peru coca farmers warn government” — BBC News Online, April 19, 2007
  • Xinhua. “Peru police arrest Shining Path leader linked to coca protest” — People’s Daily Online, April 19. 2007

Meetings are underway at NATO headquarters in an attempt to reassure Russia that the missile defence plans pose no threat. The United States maintains the system is to protect against missiles from rogue states, whereas Russia sees the system as compromising its strategic interests in the region.

In today’s talks NATO allies encouraged the United States to make the planned anti-missile shield capable of covering all of Europe. They did this without committing themselves to joining the project.

Reaction to the proposed system in European states has been mixed.

  • “US set for Russia missile talks” — BBC News, April 19 2007
  • Mark John. “NATO allies urge U.S. to open missile shield plan” — Reuters, April 19 2007

Irrigation water to a substantial proportion of Australia’s farming regions could be cut due to drought conditions, Australian PM John Howard has warned.

Mr Howard’s comments concerned the Murray-Darling Basin, one of the largest systems in Australia. “If it doesn’t rain in sufficient volume over the next six to eight weeks, there will be no water allocations for irrigation purposes in the basin”, adding that the drought conditions could continue until May 2008.

He continued “It is a grim situation, and there is no point in pretending to Australia otherwise,” he said. “We must all hope and pray there is rain.”

Sources

  • “Australians warned of water cuts” — BBC News Online, April 19 2007
  • Rob Taylor. “Drought-hit Australia to stop irrigating food bowl” — Reuters, April 19 2007

Russia, in coordination with the government of the United States and Canada, is planning to build a tunnel from Russia to Alaska, Viktor Razbegin, deputy head of industrial research at the Russian Economy Ministry, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday.

The tunnel is budgeted to cost US$65 billion and would take 10 to 15 years to build. The tunnel is to provide train and automobile transport between Alaska and the Russian Far East, and to carry petroleum and natural gas pipelines, and high-voltage electrical cable.

The proposed tunnel is 64 miles long, or about 100 kilometers, in total, and is designed to link with two islands in the Bering Strait. The project is expected to have a very positive economic effect in the area.

Derek Brower, an energy market expert, called the project “absurd” and suggested the Russian government is playing political games to threaten its European customers to sign energy deals.

“I’ve never heard of this plan,” said Sergei Grigoryev, Vice President of oil pipeline monopoly Transneft.

“To be honest, anyone who look[s] at the map will realize that the project is too hard to implement,” an anonymous government source told Reuters.

Sources

  • Miro Cernetig and Peter O’Neil. “Russia proposes Bering Sea tunnel, railway to B.C.” — Vancouver Sun, April 19, 2007
  • Dmitry Zhdannikov. “Russia-Alaska tunnel is far off, if not a pipe dream” — Reuters, April 18, 2007
  • Yuriy Humber and Bradley Cook. “Russia Plans World’s Longest Tunnel, a Link to Alaska (Update4)” — Bloomberg News, April 18, 2007

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Wikinews_Shorts:_April_19,_2007&oldid=2611862”

British Airways and Iberia sign merger deal

Friday, April 9, 2010

British Airways (BA) and the Spanish airline Iberia have signed a merger deal, which will create one of the largest air carrier groups in the world.

The two announced the merger yesterday, and said that the deal, which has been expected for a long time, is to be implemented by the end of 2010. The move will make a group with a market value of US$8 billion. The deal has been negotiated since July 2008.

Under the plan, both companies keep their own brands and operations, but will be owned by International Airlines Group, a new holding company. It will be listed in London, but taxed in Spain.

The airlines believe the merger will save $530 million annually. In February, BA reported a loss of $102.4 million for the final three quarters of 2009, whilst Iberia posted an operating loss of $629 million.

Meanwhile, investors in BA will receive an IAG share for every BA share they own, and stockholders in Iberia 1.0205 shares for each share in the Spanish airline; thus, BA shareholders will take 55% of IAG.

“The merged company will provide customers with a larger combined network,” commented BA chief executive Willie Walsh. “It will also have greater potential for further growth by optimising the dual hubs of London and Madrid and providing continued investment in new products and services.”

Meanwhile, Iberia chief executive Antonio Vázquez remarked: “This is an important step in creating one of the world’s leading global airlines that will be better equipped to compete with other major airlines and participate in future industry consolidation.”

Independent aviation specialist James Halstead said he believed the merger was necessary for BA to remain competitive amongst other European air carriers. “BA’s unique position at Heathrow could help it survive for a short while, but in the long run it needs more than just Heathrow. The main point of the Iberia deal is to be able to cut costs and put the combined company in the position that Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are already in,” he said, quoted by The Independent.

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