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Thursday, September 21, 2017

On Monday night, New Jersey, US-based toy retail giant Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in the US as well as in Canada. The retailer filed it from Richmond, Virginia for Chapter 11 bankruptcy code in the US, and a judge allowed a loan of over US$2 billion.

According to the filing, the retail chain owns US$6.6 billion in assets, but has a debt of US$7.9 billion. They were under a roughly US$5 billion debt since the company underwent a three-way acquisition in 2005. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Bain Capital, and Vornado Realty Trust acquired Toys R Us for around US$7 to US$7.5 billion. After the US judge approved a loan, Toys R Us received about US$3 billion from the lenders to continue the business and survive a competitive market, and restructure their business model. E-commerce giant Amazon.com, Walmart and Target are some of the competitors for the conventional ‘brick and mortar’ toy shop, with lower priced-merchandise and fast, cheap delivery. In a conference call in June, CEO Dave Brandon said “very, very aggressive pricing online” was causing problems. He also said the company was experiencing “significant weakness in demand for their products globally”. Toys R Us are to clear a debt of US$400 million by May 2018.

Toys R Us said they would continue to operate for the holiday season. Bankruptcy lawyer Jeff Gleit said Toys R Us “need to do both a financial restructuring as well as an operational restructuring” and “needs to modernize with the times”. Last holiday season, Toys R Us made sales around US$4.5 billion. Overall, the company reported a US$29 million loss in 2016. CEO Brandon said, “Our objective is to work with our debt holders and other creditors to restructure the US$5 billion of long-term debt on our balance sheet, which will provide us with greater financial flexibility to invest in our business”.

Toys R Us employs more than 60 thousand people in 38 countries around the world in more than 1600 stores. The company’s stocks fell by six percent after filing for Chapter 11 protection. US bankruptcy code Chapter 11 allows the company to restructure under a plan approved by the court. The company would also be shielded from creditors’ claims during the process. For the stores located in Canada, Toys R Us filed bankruptcy in Ontario and are to undergo reorganisation. However, 259 stores located outside the US or Canada will not undergo reorganisation, the company said.

Over 300 US-based retailers have filed for bankruptcy this year, and hundreds of stores closed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

London — The Open Rights Group, a pressure group pursuing reform of intellectual property law in the United Kingdom, held its first “ORGCon” yesterday at City University London. Approximately 100 delegates took part in six hours of panel discussions and workshops on a wide range of topics in intellectual property, discussing such subjects as “How To Talk To Your MP” and “ACTA: A Shady Business”, in what ORG billed as a “crash course in digital rights” designed to inspire campaigning on intellectual property issues.

Cory Doctorow, a fiction author and digital rights activist, led the keynote panel discussion “Thriving in the Real Digital Economy”, which opened the conference. Doctorow called for a “reframing” of the digital rights slogan “information wants to be free”. “The most important thing” about digital rights, he noted, “has nothing to do with art. We are refitting the information network with lots of control.” Digital rights management (DRM) technologies, Doctorow warns, build in limitations on how consumers exchange information and “abuse the market”. John Buckman of Magnatune followed up Doctorow’s comments, noting that DRM is “unsustainable” but that the public needed to “pressure companies into” open-source solutions.

A keynote speech by James Boyle compared the current age to the age just before application of the theories of Adam Smith and other early capitalist economists began breaking down the entrenched monopolies of mercantilism. Boyle called on the audience to come up with a “jaw droppingly simple” idea for a reformed copyright system; he gave his speech in front of a projection of the twitterfall as audience members commented on his words.

Boyle, like most of the conference, took a pro-reform but anti-piracy position, saying “It is a tragedy that an entire generation has lost the notion that breaking the law is wrong”. While several members of the Pirate Party UK, wearing matching t-shirts, attended the conference and held a fringe meeting during the last session, none spoke in the keynote sessions either as panelists or in the discussions.

Among the many workshops which comprised the last three hours of the day, Open Rights Group held a session on student groups and committed itself to establishing Open Rights Group Youth societies at universities across the United Kingdom. Young activists, such as Wikipedian Jdforrester, also dominated the “Your Shout” session in which any and all delegates could give three-minute speeches on any intellectual property subject which interested them.

The organisation hopes to host a second ORGCon in 2011.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rock band Rage Against The Machine have beaten Joe McElderry to become the UK’s official Christmas number one, following one of the biggest battles in the history of the UK Singles Chart. Their song Killing in the Name pushed the X Factor winner’s new single The Climb into second place.

A Facebook campaign backing the American band aimed to stop an X Factor winner reaching the Christmas number one spot once again. Artists from the TV talent show, owned by music mogul Simon Cowell, have taken the festive top spot for four years in a row. The group attracted over 900,000 members and widespread press attention, after it was started by Jon and Tracy Morter.

“Are you getting fed up about the possibility of ANOTHER X-Factor Christmas No.1? …us too…so we’re going to do something about it!,” they said on the group’s Facebook page. They decided to back “Killing In The Name”, first released in 1992.

Cowell had previously branded the campaign “cynical”, but on Saturday contacted the Morters to congratulate them on making a “very exciting race for the Christmas number one”. The campaign has also raised over £69,000 for homeless charity Shelter.

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello had backed the campaign on Twitter. He announced that the band would play a free victory gig in the UK if they reached number one.

The result was announced on BBC Radio 1‘s chart show this evening by Scott Mills. McElderry had been due to appear on the show, but did not arrive.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The parliament of Indonesia has approved government plans to make an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of shares in three major state-owned firms, privatising them. They are steelmaker Krakatau Steel, Bank Tabungan Negara (BTN) and national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia.

The parliament has left the process fully in the hands of the government, and has set the maximum stake to be sold at 30% for BTN and Krakatau, and 40% for Garuda. Although Indonesia has been known to fund budget deficits with privatisation, the intention is for the funds from this scheme to go to the businesses themselves to allow expansion.

Krakatau expects 3.2 trillion Rupiah (IDR) from the sale, while the estimated price for their stock is between IDR3 and IDR4 trillion (321 – 428 million USD). Both ArcelorMittal SA, the biggest steelmaker in the world, and BlueScope Steel Ltd, the largest in Australia, have expressed an interest in the IPO. Krakatau will use the funds to help finance an expansion scheme which aims to have production doubled to five million tonnes in 2011.

BTN, which focuses on home owner loans, has set itself a target income of IDR36.12 trillion (3.86 billion USD) in 2010 compared to a projected IDR22.9 trillion ( 2.45 billion USD) this year. Net profit for this year is projected at IDR472 billion (50.5 million USD)and is hoped to rise to IDR1.39 trillion (148.7 million USD) in 2010. The bank’s loan to deposit ratio is predicted to rise from 105.05% this year to 144.93% in 2012. BTN hopes to conduct its IPO before the end of 2008.

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Garuda is not quite 100% state-owned to start with, unlike the other two, but is very close with 95.44% of the company belonging to the government. Like all of Indonesia’s 51 airlines, Garuda is on the list of air carriers banned in the EU due to safety concerns raised after a string of air accidents in the nation. Garuda expects to raise IDR4.2 trillion (449.4 million USD) in funds from the IPO, and will use IDR2.5 trillion (267.5 million USD) to pay off its debts and invest IDR1.7 trillion (181.9 million USD) in new aircraft.

The government is still working to get a deal to make IPOs for architectural firm Yodya Karya and three plantation firms called Perkebunan Nusantara III, IV and VII.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

Friday, April 3, 2009

General Motors (GM) and Chrysler will receive bridge loans from the government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario, however no more will be forthcoming from either Canadian or US governments unless the companies can reinvent themselves.

“This is a regrettable but necessary step to protect the Canadian economy. We are doing this on the assumption that we obviously cannot afford either in the United States or Canada a catastrophic short-term collapse.” said Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.

“We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. This industry is, like no other, an emblem of the American spirit; a once and future symbol of America’s success,” said Barack Obama, President of the United States. “These companies – and this industry – must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state.”File:Sinsheim quer.jpg

Chrysler will receive CA$1 billion and may in fact be eligible for as much as CA$4 billion. If Chrysler succeeds in the next 30 days with a restructuring plan it would be eligible for a US$6 billion loan. A part of Chrysler’s restructuring plan must include a partnership with Fiat within 30 days to appease the US administration. Fiat is a supplier of smaller fuel-efficient vehicles, and the merger will help Chrysler to be viable in the North American market. A Chrysler court bankruptcy would inevitably lead to it being sold off.

As a part of Chrysler’s restructuring plans, Tom LaSorda, the president of Chrysler announced that Canadian operations would fold if it does not receive both the US commitment of $2.3 billion of aid and a new Canadian Auto Workers CAW contract to reduce all-in costs by CA$19 per hour. As a result of this announcement Chrysler’s auto sales volume in Canada dropped 23% compared to March of 2008.

GM has until the end of May to restructure its company to receive up to CA$7.5 billion. As part of the companies restructuring, General Motor’s chief executive Rick Wagoner was replaced Sunday with Fritz Henderson, the current chief operating officer. Henderson spoke out on Tuesday that GM has submitted a restructuring plan which would close five plants, and this may be increased to meet the requirements for financial aid. He is in full compliance with Obama’s auto task force to seek bankruptcy if GM cannot negotiate with their unions, bondholders and others.

GM recently brought forward the “GM Total Confidence” program providing consumer purchase protection for customers who lose their job for economic reasons within the first two years from purchase. As a result of Chrysler’s restructuring announcement in Canada, GM’s Canadian vehicle sales volume fell only 17.3% compared to 2008, an increase from the previous month.

GM must reduce some of its legacy costs which include its pensions and union health care costs. A part of GM’s ailments arose from investing in supplying truck and SUVs during an economy of high gas prices when consumers were demanding fuel efficient vehicles.

Tony Clement, Canada’s Minister of Industry, is hoping that the CAW will support the restructuring process and re-negotiate their agreement. Whereas a United Auto Workers negotiator has said, “I don’t see how the UAW will do anything until they see what the bondholders will give up.”

The Obama administration is looking toward bankruptcy proceedings for the automakers, “as a mechanism to help them restructure quickly and emerge stronger. [It will] quickly clear away old debts that are weighing them down. What we are asking is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. It will require creditors to recognise that they cannot hold out for the prospect of endless government bailouts.” said Obama.

The auto parts suppliers and IT software exporters in India have already been affected by the declining auto sales. GM and Chrysler software contracts provide US$300 to 350 million a year to vendors in India. As well these two major automakers usually award US$1 billion contracts to auto parts suppliers. “We are worried and closely watching the developments in the US to gauge the impact. The decline in auto sales in the US has already hit the order books of Indian suppliers,” said a Delhi auto parts supplier.

“Going forward, the industry will undoubtedly be smaller, but if our efforts are successful it will be viable and it will support good jobs for Canadians,” said Clements.

Betty Sutton, Ohio’s Congresswoman put forward the CARS act which provides a US$3,000 to 5,000 incentive for those who trade in their vehicle for a fuel-efficient car. “It clearly stimulates the economy, and it gets the consumer into the showroom and gets them buying again. But importantly — and this is what I particularly like about it — it really helps the environment quite a bit in two respects.” said William Clay Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company has not come forward with requests for assistance.

Since December GM and Chrysler have received US$17.4 billion government loans.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A video provided by the American Enterprise Institute intends to show tortures committed by the soldiers of Saddam Hussein during his rule.

The film shows extremely graphic scenes and it is NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN. It depicts Iraqi soldiers singing and praising Saddam, beating prisoners and cutting prisoners’ fingers and hands off.

During Saddam Hussein’s regime, about a quarter of a million Iraqis were executed. Many individual Iraqis of all faiths and ethnicities were tortured and killed for real or perceived opposition to Iraq’s government. Torture during Saddam’s regime was characterized by: medical experiments, crucifixions, genital amputations, hot iron marking, tongue fixing with a nail, teeth extraction with pincers, public beheadings, etc.

The four minute video (27.4 MiB) can be downloaded from the AEI website.

This video was released in June 2004. Most of the American and international media didn’t show it until now, despite the fact that channels of mass communication regularly released Abu Ghraib’s torture photos.

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Don Valley West (Ward 26). Four candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Muhammad Alam, Bahar Aminvaziri, Orhan Aybars, Michele Carroll-Smith, Mohamed Dhanani, Abdul Ingar, Geoff Kettel, Debbie Lechter, Natalie Maniates, John Masterson, John Parker, David Thomas, Csaba Vegh, and Fred Williams.

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

Contents

  • 1 Geoff Kettel
  • 2 Natalie Maniates
  • 3 John Parker
  • 4 Csaba Vegh

byAlma Abell

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