random header image

Results of 2005 German federal election

">
Results of 2005 German federal election

Sunday, September 18, 2005

This article is part of the seriesGerman federal elections 2005
Complete Coverage
Prelude
  • Schröder loses motion of confidence
  • German president dissolves parliament; elections in September
  • German Constitutional Court green-lights early elections call
  • TV debate between German chancellor Schröder and opposition leader Merkel held
  • Death of candidate will delay final results for German federal election by weeks
  • One week before German federal election, the race is wide-open again
Election Day
  • Results
Aftermath
  • German Christian Democrats win by-election in Dresden
  • Schröder gives up German chancellorship ambitions, makes way for Merkel
  • German Social and Christian Democrats agree on new government
  • Angela Merkel elected new German chancellor
Background

British Airways announces record losses

">
British Airways announces record losses

Saturday, May 23, 2009

British Airways (BA), the flag carrier for the United Kingdom, announced record losses today. For the first quarter of the year ending March 31, the airline reported losses of £401 million before tax, despite revenues which rose to £9 billion over the previous year. The company’s finances have suffered from rising fuel costs and a weak pound. The loss also takes into account redundancy-related costs of £78 million: The company laid off 2,500 workers last year.

BA’s costs soared due to an unprecedented fuel bill of £3 billion following a 44.5% increase in the price of oil last year. The recent drop in oil prices has led the airline to announce an expected saving of £400 million in fuel by next year.

Company CEO Willie Walsh announced that employees will be offered the option of taking unpaid leave or working part time in order to ease the financial crisis. In order to set an example, he said that he himself would forego pay for the month of July, describing his move as “no stunt,” and added that he “saw no signs of recovery anywhere.”

Part of BA’s troubles over the last year could be due to the company’s dependence on the premium travel market. The company saw a drop of 13% in ‘Club’ and ‘First Class’ passengers. With two new aircraft on the way to operate a Club-only service from London, the company may struggle to fill the flights.

IBM and Cisco in attempt to create a universal platform for communications software development

">
IBM and Cisco in attempt to create a universal platform for communications software development

Friday, March 9, 2007

IBM and Cisco have announced the development of a new platform, based on Eclipse and OSGi (Open Services Gateway initiative), which should unite all communication and collaboration software developers under a single platform.

Before the UC2 (Unified Communication and Collaboration) the unified communication has suffered because of a lack of a platform to be used by all software developers, rather than a series of them and, moreover, provided by different vendors. According to Adam Gartenberg from IBM Lotus Software Group this was the main cause for this partial stagnation.

However, the UC2 is meant to ease the work of software developers. Gartenberg stated that this platform is very flexible and will certainly draw much attention form programmers. They will be able to create different plug-ins and small applications to remotely control other, major application.

The companies have also unveiled a series of their other joint projects. These project will be based on a set of application programming interface from Lotus (SameTime) and Cisco.

The add-ons planned are integration of a series of additional functions and features into the SameTime software from Lotus. Thus, in a few months, the SameTime users will benefit from such functions as click-to-call and voicemail. This will enable easier instant messaging inside the Cisco’s Unified IP phones’ system.

The fact that the platform will be based on Eclipse will make the numerous developers create many communications services, mainly for remote users to benefit from a series of new functions of ERP and CRM applications.

Nortel Networks – a partner of Microsoft since last year and Cisco’s rival in the area – didn’t have much success in the communication services field.

As for Microsoft, the experts are waiting for the reaction of the Bill Gates’ company on the ideas and offers made by IBM and Cisco for enterprise communications and collaboration solutions.

Woman returns home with Christmas turkey, a month after setting out

">
Woman returns home with Christmas turkey, a month after setting out

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Scottish woman who set out before Christmas to purchase a turkey finally made it home on Monday, after being cut off by snow for a month. Kay Ure left the Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage on Cape Wrath, at the very northwest tip of Great Britain, in December. She was heading to Inverness on a shopping trip.

However on her return journey heavy snow and ice prevented her husband, John, from travelling the last 11 miles to pick her up. She was forced to wait a month in a friend’s caravan, before the weather improved and the couple could finally be reunited.

They were separated not just for Christmas and New Year, but also for Mr Ure’s 58th birthday. With no fresh supplies, he was reduced to celebrating with a tin of baked beans. He also ran out of coal, and had to feed the couple’s six springer spaniels on emergency army rations.

“It’s the first time we’ve been separated”, said Mr Ure in December. “We’ve been snowed in here for three weeks before, so we are well used to it and it’s quite nice to get a bit of peace and quiet.”

How To Deal With Problem Staff And Poor Performance

By Iain Mackintosh

Poor staff performance and ‘problem workers’ are some of the trickiest things to be dealt with in the office. It’s difficult to balance morale and productivity in the optimum way for office success, and as a result I often hear of managers turning a blind eye to poor staff performance, fearing that drawing attention to it will cause problems in the atmosphere and work environment.

The truth is that avoiding dealing with problem staff is often the worst thing you can do. If you turn a blind eye, the rot can spread to the other apples. If a member of staff is consistently late, for example, and nothing is seen to be done about it, then why should other staff members keep up high standards of timeliness? Inevitably, a rot sets in around the office and poor staff performance becomes the rule rather than the exception! Even if it is something that others are unaware of, like plummeting productivity, it is still something that should be dealt with as soon as you become aware of the issue – intervening in a timely manner will hit the problem on the head early on, and prevent it from spreading and causing resentment and ill feeling. After all, problem employees may not realise they are doing anything wrong unless you intervene, and doing this early can act as a wake-up call to improve staff performance before it’s too late!

So the first step of dealing with problem staff or poor performance is to inform them of the problem. Naturally this should be done in private to avoid shaming them in front of the others (this will cause major resentment), and the issue should be explained clearly so there is no grounds for misunderstanding. If they have a reasonable excuse for a drop in form (severe illness in the family or problems at home) then you should endeavour to be understanding and come up with a compassionate solution – see how you can help the employee return to standard. If they have no reason, you need to reiterate (or in some cases, iterate) clearly what your expectations are from them – after all, if they don’t know what they are it can be impossible for them to be met! If you have a problem employee, you don’t want to wait until their annual review to tell them what goals they should have met!

The next phase is actually helping them to meet your outlined expectations. In the case of something like consistent lateness this is easy to monitor, but with something more abstract – like quantity and quality of work, it’s harder for both you and the employee to keep an eye on things. For this reason, you may need to consider the following things when managing poor performance in your staff:

Plenty of Feedback

Positive, constructive feedback is a good idea to give your employee an idea of whether they’re heading in the right direction or not. Let them know clearly what’s improved and what still needs to be tightened – it should be specific, detailed and timely.

YouTube Preview Image

Possible Supervision

Problem employees often require direction and for employers to work closely with them in order for them to reach their potential. Both parties should understand that this hands on approach to managing poor performance is with the ultimate goal of the employee working competently independently of constant supervision.

Additional Training

In some (but by no means all) situations, the employees underperformance may be through no fault of their own, and they may as a result require extra training in order to reach the standard of skills and competency stipulated in their goals.

Checklists

Depending on the type of problem employee you have, you may find checklists to be of use. These are particularly useful for problem staff who struggle with their timekeeping and priorities, it allows them to stay focused on each task and organise their workload.

Positive Reinforcement

Having already been highlighted for doing something wrong, it is essential you redress the balance when the employee’s performance improves. Positive reinforcement – telling the employee you’re pleased with their work can make someone’s day, improve their happiness at a company and – most importantly – make them more likely to deliver a repeat performance. Let them know that this is the sort of thing you’ve been hoping for.

Set a Period of Evaluation

One of the most important areas of dealing with problem staff is setting a period of evaluation. Put in writing the problem, the improvements you hope to see made, and the timeline for this. Close with the disciplinary actions that will be taken if things are not improved (and maintained) – all the way up to dismissal if there is no improvement.

Whatever you do, don’t just make firing your employees your automatic response to poor staff performance! You need to work with the employees to try and resolve issues, and give them fair warning that their job is in danger, otherwise you are leaving yourself wide open for litigation. It may seem a lot of work, and easier just to let it slide initially, but failure to act early will cause the problem to get worse and worse, and potentially for discontent to spread within the office environment. Follow this procedure when managing poor performance, and there’s no reason why your productivity shouldn’t recover from the slight dip!

About the Author: Iain Mackintosh is the managing director of Simply-Docs. The firm provides over 1100 legal documents and small business templates covering all aspects of business from holiday entitlement to managing poor performance. By providing these legal documents (with content provided by leading commercial lawyers, HR and health & safety consultants) at an affordable price, the company intends to help small businesses

Source: isnare.com

Permanent Link: isnare.com/?aid=247276&ca=Business

US VX nerve gas disposal test a success

">
US VX nerve gas disposal test a success

Monday, May 9, 2005

Workers at Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana have completed a successful test-run of a chemical reactor designed to dispose of Cold War stockpiles of VX nerve agent.

After encountering initial difficulties when the temperature in the reactor grew too high, workers were able to adjust the speed of the device. 180 gallons of VX and water were turned into a caustic but far less lethal compound, that can be further reprocessed into an inert substance.

A residue of 14 parts VX per billion remained; the Army’s eventual goal is less than 20 parts. One drop of VX can kill a grown man.

The conversion of the VX stockpiled at the facility is projected to take two years. Then the drain cleaner-like waste product with its small residue of VX will need to be sent to another facility for reprocessing into a safer, biodegradable compound.

A controversial plan has Dupont doing the reprocessing at their facility in New Jersey, and dumping the compound into the nearby Delaware River.

Australia: Victorian government to trial driverless vehicles on public roads

">
Australia: Victorian government to trial driverless vehicles on public roads

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Yesterday, the state government of Victoria, Australia announced their decision to trial self-driving vehicles on two of the state’s major connecting motorways, the CityLink and Tullamarine Freeway. The trial is to use autonomous vehicles from automobile companies including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Tesla. The two-year trial is to have three phases.

The cars are to drive alongside commuters, but in public testing a driver is always to be present, as Victorian law requires drivers always keep a hand on the steering wheel. However, in occasional closures of the Burnley Tunnel, with no other drivers to endanger, the cars are to be tested with nobody in the vehicle.

Lane assist, cruise control, and recognition of traffic signs are in the trial’s first phase, expected to complete before the end of the year. This includes monitoring how the driver-less cars respond to road conditions, including lane markings and electronic speed signs.

“Victoria is at the forefront of automated vehicle technology — we’re investing in this trial to explore ways that this technology can be used to reduce crashes and keep people safe on our roads”, said Luke Donnellan, the Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety. He noted, “Ninety per cent of the fault of accidents is human error […] so we know that if we can take out human error we will have less accidents”.

Tim Hansen, Victoria Police’s Acting Assistant Commissioner, said that police had founded a project team to investigate how self-driving vehicles would change policing on roads. “Can we intercept vehicles more safely to avoid pursuits and ramming?”, he asked.

The trial is a partnership between the state government, Victoria’s road management authority VicRoads, owner of the CityLink toll road Transurban, and insurance company RACV.

NBC employee wins $266M from California lottery

">
NBC employee wins $266M from California lottery
By BbGFjuyG | Posted in Uncategorized

Thursday, May 6, 2010

An NBC employee won US$266 million from the California Lottery‘s Mega Millions drawing.

The winner, wishing to remain anonymous, will receive $165 million in total, after federal taxes, reports spokesperson for the lottery Cathy Doyle Johnston.

David Reese, a KNBC assistant manager, was informed by the winner around 2:30 local time Wednesday. Reese told the employees working the night shift to keep the name a secret until the winner wishes to step forward.

Reese said the winner worked for NBC as a freelancer for four years, and her husband was laid off two weeks ago.

L & L Hawaiian BBQ in Pico Rivera, California, sold the winning ticket with the numbers 9, 21, 31, 36, 43, and the “Mega Number” 8. Danny He, the owner of the BBQ, will receive $1 million from the lottery for selling the winning ticket.

According to lottery officials, there was a 1 in 175,711,536 chance in winning with all six numbers with 38 other states and the District of Colombia playing as well.

Comments (0)

Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s latest film makes Thailand premiere

">
Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s latest film makes Thailand premiere
By BbGFjuyG | Posted in Uncategorized

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Following a world premiere during the Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, the latest film by Thai auteur Pen-Ek Ratanaruang made its Thailand premiere on Tuesday night in a screening for the press and celebrities.

Before the screening of the new film, Ploy, the director and his stars took the rostrum for a question-and-answer session, during which Pen-Ek pulled out a digital camera and took photos of the presenter, the press and the actors.

Ploy is a drama film, about a middle-aged Thai-American couple, portrayed by popular Thai soap opera actress Lalita Panyopas and Pornwut Sarasin, a first-time actor whose day job is working as vice president of Thai Namthip, the distributor of Coca Cola in Thailand. The couple have returned to Thailand for the first time in many years to attend the funeral of a relative.

They arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at 5 a.m. after a long-haul flight from the U.S., and check in to a hotel. The wife, Dang, just wants to sleep, but the husband, Wit, wants some cigarettes, so he goes to the hotel bar to buy some. There, he strikes up a conversation with a 19-year-old girl named Ploy (17-year-old first-time actress Apinya Sakuljaroensuk), who’s waiting at the hotel for her mother.

Wit then invites the girl to his and Dang’s room, so she can take a shower and relax. This poor judgment by Wit ignites feelings of jealousy and anger in Dang, and causes the couple to review their marriage of seven years.

Lao-Australian leading man Ananda Everingham is in a supporting role as the hotel bartender. As a counterpoint to Wit’s and Dang’s bickering, the bartender engages in an erotic tryst with a hotel maid (model-actress Porntip Papanai) in a nearby room.

The press screening was held at SF World Cinemas at CentralWorld shopping mall in Bangkok. Given the presence of Coca-Cola’s Pornwut in the cast, it was perhaps not a coincidence that cans of Coke Zero, a new soft drink that is just being introduced in Thailand, were being doled out for free.

According to early reviews at Cannes, Ploy contains a high level of nudity and eroticism, which is uncommon for a Thai film, because Thailand has no film-ratings system and instead adheres to a strict censorship code that excises nakedness and sex scenes.

Ahead of its Thailand premiere, Aphiradee Iamphungphorn, co-producer for Five Star Production, said she knew the film would have to be re-edited for Thailand, but “hopefully not more than we can bear.” To get past the censors, Pen-ek created a special Thailand edit of the film, in which the sex scenes are toned down.

Ploy is the director’s sixth feature film since he made his debut in 1997 with Fun Bar Karaoke, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival. Since then, his films are regularly featured on the festival circuit, and are submitted by Thailand’s film industry for consideration by the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.

Pen-Ek’s latest film is a return to screenwriting, after his previous two films, Last Life in the Universe and Invisible Waves, were scripted or co-scripted by Thai writer Prabda Yoon. It also marks a reunion with leading actress Lalita, who starred in his second feature, 1999’s black comedy, Ruang Talok 69, as well as Porntip, who co-starred in Pen-Ek’s 2001 musical-comedy-drama Monrak Transistor.

Ploy opens in Thailand cinemas on Thursday.

Comments (0)

Existing US home sales fall 9.6% in February

">
Existing US home sales fall 9.6% in February
By BbGFjuyG | Posted in Uncategorized

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sales of existing homes in the U.S. fell 9.6% in February, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said today, in a sign that the U.S. housing market is still depressed. The figure was worse than the 3.9% decline anticipated by the economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires and questions whether the U.S. housing market is beginning to recover or will continue to fall.

We have an uneven, choppy recovery. Hopefully it is a recovery …

A combination of foreclosures and short sales, where the mortgage holder sells the house for less than owed on the mortgage, accounted for almost 40% of the sales.

Millions of foreclosures have forced down home prices and the number of foreclosures are predicted to rise this year. The inventory of existing homes listed for sale rose 3.5% at the end of February, a 8.6-month supply at the current sales rate. As more homes are listed in the spring, the inventory of houses for sale will probably increase. A five or six month inventory is usually considered a healthy balance between supply and demand.

According to Moody’s Analytics, another 3.6 million bank-owned homes and possible foreclosures will be added to the inventory by 2013, adding to the 6.7 million home foreclosures since 2006. Thus housing inventories will probably continue to remain high, delaying the point when prices stabilize. The median sales price in February fell 5.2%, down to a price level not seen since April 2002.

“We have an uneven, choppy recovery,” said NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Hopefully it is a recovery that is taking place.”

Comments (0)