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NTSB releases updates on status of 3 major US investigations

  • Posted on October 31, 2018 at 2:39 am

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the agency responsible for investigating transportation accidents in the United States, released updates on three major investigations on June 14.

The NTSB, well known publicly for its involvement in the investigation of aviation incidents which involve harm or loss of human life, is also an agency that oversees the transportation of refined petroleum and gas products, chemicals and minerals.

The agency determined the cause of a natural gas pipeline explosion that killed six. It also detailed the cause of an accidental release of 204,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia from a pipeline in an environmentally sensitive area, and released preliminary information involving two commercial aircraft coming within 30-50 feet of each other on a runway.

In the gas explosion disaster, the towing vessel Miss Megan, which was of specifications that did not require inspection by the United States Coast Guard, was being operated in the West Cote Blanche Bay oil field in Louisiana by Central Boat Rentals on behalf of Athena Construction on October 12, 2006. The Miss Megan was pushing barge IBR 234, which was tied along the starboard side of barge Athena 106, en route to a pile-driving location. Athena Construction did not require its crews to pin mooring spuds (vertical steel shafts extending through wells in the bottom of the boat and used for mooring) securely in place on its barges and consequently this had not been done. During the journey, the aft spud on the Athena 106 released from its fully raised position. The spud dropped into the water and struck a submerged, high-pressure natural gas pipeline. The resulting gas released ignited and created a fireball that engulfed the towing vessel and both barges. The master of the towing vessel and four barge workers were killed. The Miss Megan deckhand and one barge worker survived. One barge worker is officially listed as missing.

The NTSB blames Athena Construction for the disaster, citing in the final report that Athena Construction’s manual contained no procedures mandating the use of the safety devices on the spud winch except during electrical work. It was found that if the Athena 106 crew had used the steel pins to secure the retracted spuds during their transit, a pin would have prevented the aft spud from accidentally deploying. Furthermore, the spud would have remained locked in its lifted position regardless of whether the winch brake mechanism, the spud’s supporting cable, or a piece of connecting hardware had failed.

The NTSB also found that contributing to the accident was the failure of Central Boat Rentals to require, and the Miss Megan master to ensure, that the barge spuds were securely pinned before getting under way. The Board noted that investigators found no evidence that the Miss Megan master or deckhand checked whether the spuds had been properly secured before the tow began. While Central Boat Rentals had a health and safety manual and trained its crews, the written procedures did not specifically warn masters about the need to secure spuds or other barge equipment before navigating. The NTSB stated that the company’s crew should have been trained to identify potential safety hazards on vessels under their control.

NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said of the investigation’s results, “Having more rigorous requirements in place could have prevented this accident from occurring. Not only do these regulations need to be put in place but it is imperative that they are enforced and adhered to.”

The NTSB has made a number of safety recommendations as a result of this accident and the subsequent investigation. Recommendations were made to Athena Construction and Central Boat Rentals to develop procedures and train the employees of its barges to use the securing pins to hold spuds safely in place before transiting from one site to another.

The most major of the other recommendations are:

To the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

  • Direct the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health to issue the following documents document to the maritime industry: (1) a fact sheet regarding the accident, and (2) a guidance document regarding the need to secure the gear on barges, including spud pins, before the barges are moved, and detailing any changes to your memorandum of understanding with the Coast Guard.

To the U. S. Coast Guard

  • Finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and require the establishment of safety management systems appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels.
  • Review and update your memorandum of understanding with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to specifically address your respective oversight roles on vessels that are not subject to Coast Guard inspection.

The NTSB also released the result of its investigation into an environmental disaster in Kansas on October 27, 2004 in which 204,000 gallons (4,858 barrels) of anhydrous ammonia was spilled from a ruptured pipeline in Kingman into an environmentally sensitive area. Chemicals from the pipeline entered a nearby stream and killed more than 25,000 fish, including some fish from threatened species.

The incident reached the scale that it did due to operator error after the initial rupture. The 8 5/8-inch diameter steel pipeline, which was operated by Enterprise Products Operating L.P., burst at 11:15 a.m. in an agricultural area about 6 miles east of Kingman, Kansas. A drop in pipeline pressure, indicating abnormal conditions or a possible compromise in pipeline integrity, set off alarms displayed on the computerized pipeline monitoring system. Shortly after the first alarm the pipeline controller, in an attempt to remedy the low pressure, increased the flow of anhydrous ammonia into the affected section of pipeline. A total of 33 minutes elapsed between the time when the first alarm indicated a problem with the pipeline and the initiation of a shutdown.

In its initial report to the National Response Center (NRC), the pipeline operator’s accident reporting contractor reported a release of at least 20 gallons of ammonia, telling the NRC that an updated estimate of material released would be reported at a later time. No such report was ever made. Because of the inaccurate report, the arrival of representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency was delayed by a full day, affecting the oversight of the environmental damage mitigation efforts.

The cause of the rupture itself was determined to be a pipe gouge created by heavy equipment damage to the pipeline during construction in 1973 or subsequent excavation activity at an unknown time that initiated metal fatigue cracking and led to the eventual rupture of the pipeline.

“We are very fortunate that such highly toxic chemicals of the size and scope involved in this accident were not released in a populated area,” commented Rosenker. “Had this same quantity of ammonia been released near a town or city, the results could have been catastrophic.”

As a result of this accident, the NTSB made the following safety recommendations:

To the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:

  • Require that a pipeline operator must have a procedure to calculate and provide a reasonable initial estimate of released product in the telephonic report to the National Response Center.
  • Require that a pipeline operator must provide an additional telephonic report to the National Response Center if significant new information becomes available during the emergency response.
  • Require an operator to revise its pipeline risk assessment plan whenever it has failed to consider one of more risk factors that can affect pipeline integrity.

To Enterprise Products Operating L.P.:

  • Provide initial and recurrent training for all controllers that includes simulator or noncomputerized simulations of abnormal operating conditions that indicate pipeline leaks.

“The severity of this release of dangerous chemicals into the community could have been prevented,” said Rosenker. “The safety recommendations that we have made, if acted upon, will reduce the likelihood of this type of accident happening again.”

As well as concluding their investigation of the above accidents, the NTSB also released preliminary information regarding a serious runway incursion at San Francisco International Airport between two commercial aircraft on May 26, 2007.

At about 1:30 p.m. the tower air traffic controller cleared SkyWest Airlines flight 5741, an Embraer 120 arriving from Modesto, California, to land on runway 28R. Forgetting about the arrival airplane, the same controller then cleared Republic Airlines flight 4912, an Embraer 170 departing for Los Angeles, to take off from runway 1L, which intersects runway 28R.

After the SkyWest airliner touched down, the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) alerted and the air traffic controller transmitted “Hold, Hold, Hold” to the SkyWest flight crew in an attempt to stop the aircraft short of runway 1L. The SkyWest crew applied maximum braking that resulted in the airplane stopping in the middle of runway 1L. As this was occurring, the captain of Republic Airlines flight 4912 took control of the aircraft from the first officer, realized the aircraft was traveling too fast to stop, and initiated an immediate takeoff. According to the crew of SkyWest 5741, the Republic Airlines aircraft overflew theirs by 30 to 50 feet. The Federal Aviation Administration has categorized the incident as an operational error.

The NTSB sent an investigator to San Francisco, who collected radar data, recorded air traffic control communications, and flight crew statements, and interviewed air traffic control personnel prior to the NTSB making the preliminary release.

NTSB releases updates on status of 3 major US investigations
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Che Guevara’s ”Motorcycle Diaries” companion dies

  • Posted on October 30, 2018 at 2:14 am

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Alberto Granado Jiménez, the Argentinian biochemist who was Che Guevara’s companion on his transformative motorcycle trip through South America, died in Havana on Saturday, reported Cuban state television. He was 88 and died of natural causes.

The politically active Jiménez met Ernesto “Che” Guevara, then a medical student, in Hernando, Argentina where Guevara had gone to play rugby. Both were intellectually curious and interested in exploration. In 1951 they set out on an eight-month motorcycle trip through South American that exposed them to the poverty in which most South Americans lived. The pair worked in a leprosy colony and met wtih destitute miners and indigenous people. Both men kept diaries which served as the basis for the 2004 film, The Motorcycle Diaries, produced by Robert Redford and directed by Walter Salles.

According to the Guardian, “Their road trip awoke in Guevara a social consciousness and political convictions that would turn him into one of the iconic revolutionaries of the 20th century.” The trip is widely believed to have inspired Guevara to go to Cuba and join Fidel Castro in his 1959 revolt against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

By the time the two men met again eight years later, Guevara was a revolutionary hero and chief of Cuba’s central bank. Jiménez, who had remained in Argentina working in a clinic, accepted Guevara’s invitation to move to Cuba in 1961 and founded a medical facility in Santiago. Later he moved to Havana where he continued his medical work. The two remained friends although they did not always agree. Jiménez rejected Guevara’s belief that social reform in Latin America had to be accomplished through guerrilla warfare.

The book The Motorcycle Diaries was published in the 1990’s. Jiménez said of the book that it inspired the image of the young Che as a romantic figure.

Jiménez authored the book Traveling with Che Guevara: The Making of a Revolutionary, published in 2003.

Che Guevara’s ”Motorcycle Diaries” companion dies
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Historic manuscript “The Housebook” reported sold in Germany

  • Posted on October 30, 2018 at 2:12 am

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The German noble family of Waldburg-Wolfegg has sold the manuscript known as the The Housebook to an unknown buyer. There is speculation in the German press that it was purchased by Baron August von Finck who currently resides in Switzerland, and that the price paid was €20 million.

It is unclear whether the purchase is in fact legally valid because the manuscript was sold without the permission of the government of Tübingen required by the law of fideikommiss dissolution (similar to the common law institution Fee tail). German law forbids the export of such a precious manuscript, which is registered in the list of national cultural property.

The Housebook of Wolfegg is an illustrated manuscript that was created after 1480 by an unidentified artist known as the “Master of the Housebook” (or Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet) and possibly other artists. It was exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in the United States in 1998.

Historic manuscript “The Housebook” reported sold in Germany
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2009 was worst year for airlines, says International Air Transport Association

  • Posted on October 30, 2018 at 2:10 am

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Wednesday that 2009 was the “worst year” that the airline industry has ever seen since 1945.

“In terms of demand, 2009 goes into the history books as the worst year the industry has ever seen,” said IATA boss Giovanni Bisignani. “We have permanently lost 2.5 years of growth in passenger markets and 3.5 years of growth in the freight business.”

According to the group, passenger traffic was down by 3.5% compared to a year earlier, and freight by 10.1%. The group estimated that the airline industry lost a total of US$11 billion in 2009 last year, and will lose another $5.6 billion in 2010.

Airlines in Africa had the biggest passenger demand drop, at 6.8%; North American airlines and Asian carriers had demand go down 5.8%. European airlines saw a drop of 5%. Middle Eastern and Latin American carriers, however, had rises in demand, with gains of 11.3% and 0.3%, respectively. According to the Agence France-Presse news agency, part of the reason Middle Eastern carriers performed better is because of their position between Asia, Africa, and Europe, resulting in more connecting flights through hubs.

“While both North American and European carriers saw demand improvements in the first half of the year, the second half was basically flat,” said IATA.

IATA represents 230 airlines, accounting for 90% of scheduled air traffic, although some budget carriers are not included.

The IATA boss said that, although the worst appeared to be over due to the global economic recovery airlines would have to keep their costs low. “Revenue improvements will be at a much slower pace than the demand growth that we are starting to see,” he noted.

“Profitability will be even slower to recover and airlines will lose an expected 5.6 billion dollars in 2010. The industry starts 2010 with some enormous challenges. The worst is behind us, but it’s not time to celebrate. Adjusting to 2.5 to 3.5 years of lost growth means that airlines face another spartan year, focused on matching capacity carefully to demand and controlling costs,” Bisignani continued.

Costs for security were also an issue. Bisignani said: “Governments and industry are aligned in the priority that we place on security. But the cost of security is also an issue. Globally, airlines spend US$5.9 billion a year on what are essentially measures concerned with national security. This is the responsibility of governments, and they should be picking up the bill.”

Analysts, however, say that cost cutting measures, intended to attract more customers, would also harm airline profits. Saj Ahmad, an independent airline analyst, commented: “Continued fare wars between airlines mean that yields and profitability will be low. Airlines are struggling to fill their airplanes and discounted ticketing has done little to alleviate the pressures on their costs,” as quoted by the BBC.

“Capacity has come out of the global airline system, but until a few airlines perhaps exit the industry through bankruptcy or mergers, there is still a very long road until we see serious stability, let alone growth,” Ahmad added.

2009 was worst year for airlines, says International Air Transport Association
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2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne

  • Posted on October 29, 2018 at 2:39 am

Friday, March 3, 2006

The possibility of large-scale protests in the face of the 3,000 journalists covering the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, has event organisers and the Government worried.

The group “Black GST” – which represents Indigenous Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty – are planning demonstrations at prominent Games events unless the Government agrees to a range of demands including an end to Aboriginal genocide, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the signing of a treaty.

The Black GST say they hope the focus of the world’s media will draw attention to the plight of indigenous Australians during the Games. Organisers say supporters are converging from across Australia and from overseas. Organisers say up to 20,000 people may take part in talks, rallies, colourful protests and many cultural festivities designed to pressure the Federal Government on Indigeneous rights issues. They want the Government to provide a temporary campsite for the supporters, saying “organised chaos was better than disorganised chaos.”

The 2006 Stolenwealth Games convergence, described by organisers as the “cultural festival of the 2006 Commonwealth Games,” was virtually opened on March 2nd with the launch of the official “Stolenwealth Games” website. Scoop Independent News and Perth Indymedia reported that the launch was held at Federation Square in Melbourne. The site contents were projected via wireless laptop by the Stolenwealth Games General Manager, and a tour of the website was given on the big screen. He said “overwhelming amusement was the response from the audience.” The group say permanent access points to the website are being set up at public internet facilities across Victoria during the coming weeks.

“Interest in the Stolenwealth Games is building all over the world and this fresh, exciting and contemporary site will draw in people from Stolenwealth Nations around the globe to find out about the latest news and events,” said a Stolenwealth Games spokesperson. “We have been getting many requests from around the world wanting to know about the Stolenwealth Games. We have provided many ways that individuals and organisations can support the campaign by spreading the word.”

The Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group (VTOLJG) which represents the first nation groups of Victoria, has announced its support to boycott the 2006 Commonwealth Games until the Government “recognises Traditional Owner rights.” The group asserts that culture has been misappropriated in preparation for the Games.

Organisers of the campaign say they welcome the formal support from the Traditional Owners. “While some seek to divide and discredit Indigenous Australia, this support is further evidence that the Aboriginal people are united in opposition to the ongoing criminal genocide that is being perpetrated against the Aboriginal people” said Black GST supporter and Aboriginal Elder, Robbie Thorpe.

“We now have endorsement from the VTOLJG and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for the aims and objectives of the Campaign and we are looking forward to hosting all indigenous and non-indigenous supporters from across Australia in March,” he said. The Black GST group have said “the convergence will be held as a peaceful, family-focussed demonstration against genocide, and for the restoration of sovereignty and the negotiations towards a Treaty.”

But the campaign has received flak in mainstream media, such as Melbourne’s Herald Sun, who wrote: “the proposal to allow BlackGST to set up an Aboriginal tent embassy at a site well away from the Commonwealth Games will be interpreted by some as the State Government caving in to a radical protest group. A major concern for the Government… is to protect the event from disruption… no chances should be taken…”

The Black GST has been planning the convergence for months, calling for Aboriginal people and their supporters to converge on Melbourne. The Melbourne-based Indigenous rights group have called on thousands of people concerned about the plight of indigenous Australians to converge on Melbourne during the Games, which they have dubbed “the Stolenwealth Games”. But the choice of Kings Domain has made conflict almost inevitable, as the area is one of the areas gazetted by the State Government as a “Games management zone”.

Under the Commonwealth Games Arrangements Act, any area gazetted as a management zone is subject to a range of specific laws – including bans on protesting, creating a disturbance and other activities. The protest bans will be in effect at different times and places, and offenders can be arrested. A spokeswoman for the Black GST, which advocates peaceful protest, said the site had been chosen because it was close to where the Queen will stay on March 15. “We figured that she is only in Melbourne for 27 hours or something like that so we thought we would make it easy for her to come next door and see us,” she said. “We are a very open, welcoming group, so she will be welcome to come and join us.”

Kings Domain is the burial site for 38 indigenous forefathers of Victoria. Black GST elder, Targan, said trade union groups have offered to install infrastructure at the site. The group initially worked with the State Government to find a suitable camp site, but the relationship broke down when the Government failed to meet a deadline imposed by the protesters. “While we are disappointed the ministers were not able to meet deadline on our request, we thank them for their constructive approach towards negotiations and the open-door policy exercised,” said Targan.

A spokesman for Games Minister Justin Madden said the Government was still investigating other sites. Victoria Police Games security commander Brendan Bannan said he was not convinced the Black GST represented the views of most indigenous people. “We are dealing with the Aboriginal community and they don’t seem to support it at all … the wider Aboriginal community don’t support disruption to the Games at all,” he said.

The Government was told that Black GST supporters would camp in Fitzroy Gardens and other city parks should it fail to nominate a site. A spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavan Jennings said the Government was taking the issue seriously, but had not been able to finalise a campsite before the deadline.

Under special Games laws, people protesting or causing a disturbance in “Games management zones” can be arrested and fined. While prominent public spaces such as Federation Square, Birrarung Marr, Albert Park and the Alexandra Gardens fall under the legislation, such tough anti-protest laws cannot be enforced in the nearby Fitzroy Gardens.

Games chairman Ron Walker has urged the group to choose another date for its protest march through the city, which is currently planned to coincide with the opening ceremony on March 15. The group believes that an opportunity to gain attention for indigenous issues was lost at the Sydney Olympics and has vowed to make a highly visible presence at the Games.

The Black GST said the Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy’s sacred flame, burning over many years at the Canberra site will be carried to Melbourne before the Games, and its arrival would mark the opening of the protest camp from where a march will proceed to the MCG before the Opening Ceremony.

Black GST claims supporters from all over Australia, including three busloads from the West Australian Land Council, will gather in Melbourne during the Games for peaceful protests.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings had offered Victoria Park to the protesters. Victoria Park, former home of Collingwood Football Club, where one of the strongest statements of Aboriginal pride, when St Kilda star Nicky Winmar in 1993 raised his jumper and pointed to his bare chest after racial taunts from the Collingwood crowd.

Black GST, which has labelled the Games the Stolenwealth Games, said the State Government had failed to find a suitable venue. Black GST may encourage protesters to camp in prominent parks such as Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens. Graffiti supporting the action has also appeared in central Melbourne.

Melbourne City councillor Fraser Brindley has offered his home to the Black GST organisers. “I offered my home up to people who are organising visitors to come to the Games,” he said. Cr Brindley will be overseas when the Commonwealth Games are held and has offered the free accommodation at his flat at Parkville. He said he agreed with the protesters’ view that treaties needed to be signed with indigenous Australians. “I’m offering it up to the indigenous people who are coming to remind Her Majesty that her Empire took this land from them,” said Cr Brindlley. Nationals leader Peter Ryan said: “This extremist group has no part in the Australian community.” Melbourne councillor Peter Clarke said the actions were embarrassing and that he would try to discourage him. “It’s not in the spirit of the Games,” he said.

Aboriginal elder, Targan, said the possibility of securing Victoria Park was delightfully ironic. “There’s a lot of irony going on,” Targan, 53, a PhD student at Melbourne University, said. “GST stands for Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty. We want the genocide of our people to stop; we want some sovereignty over traditional land, certainly how it is used, and we want a treaty with the government,” Targan said.

2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne
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As increase in digital music sales slows, record labels look to new ways to make money

  • Posted on October 28, 2018 at 2:47 am

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Every September, the Apple iPod is redesigned. Last year saw the release of the iPod Nano 5th generation, bringing a video camera and a large range of colours to the Nano for the first time. But as Apple again prepares to unveil a redesigned product, the company has released their quarterly sales figures—and revealed that they have sold only 9m iPods for the quarter to June—the lowest number of sales since 2006, leading industry anylists to ponder whether the world’s most successful music device is in decline.

Such a drop in sales is not a problem for Apple, since the iPhone 4 and the iPad are selling in high numbers. But the number of people buying digital music players are concerning the music industry. Charles Arthur, technology editor of The Guardian, wrote that the decline in sales of MP3 players was a “problem” for record companies, saying that “digital music sales are only growing as fast as those of Apple’s devices – and as the stand-alone digital music player starts to die off, people may lose interest in buying songs from digital stores. The music industry had looked to the iPod to drive people to buy music in download form, whether from Apple’s iTunes music store, eMusic, Napster or from newer competitors such as Amazon.”

Mark Mulligan, a music and digital media analyst at Forrester Research, said in an interview that “at a time where we’re asking if digital is a replacement for the CD, as the CD was for vinyl, we should be starting to see a hockey-stick growth in download sales. Instead, we’re seeing a curve resembling that of a niche technology.” Alex Jacob, a spokesperson for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents the worldwide music industry, agreed that there had been a fall in digital sales of music. “The digital download market is still growing,” they said. “But the percentage is less than a few years ago, though it’s now coming from a higher base.” Figures released earlier this year, Arthur wrote, “show that while CD sales fell by 12.7%, losing $1.6bn (£1bn)in value, digital downloads only grew by 9.2%, gaining less than $400m in value.”

Expectations that CDs would, in time, become extinct, replaced by digital downloads, have not come to light, Jacob confirmed. “Across the board, in terms of growth, digital isn’t making up for the fall in CD sales, though it is in certain countries, including the UK,” he said. Anylising the situation, Arthur suggested that “as iPod sales slow, digital music sales, which have been yoked to the device, are likely to slow too. The iPod has been the key driver: the IFPI’s figures show no appreciable digital download sales until 2004, the year Apple launched its iTunes music store internationally (it launched it in the US in April 2003). Since then, international digital music sales have climbed steadily, exactly in line with the total sales of iPods and iPhones.”

Nick Farrell, a TechEYE journalist, stated that the reason for the decline in music sales could be attributed to record companies’ continued reliance on Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, saying that they had considered him the “industry’s saviour”, and by having this mindset had forgotten “that the iPod is only for those who want their music on the run. What they should have been doing is working out how to get high quality music onto other formats, perhaps even HiFi before the iPlod fad died out.”

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When Jobs negotiated a deal with record labels to ensure every track was sold for 99 cents, they considered this unimportant—the iPod was not a major source of revenue for the company. However, near the end of 2004, there was a boom in sales of the iPod, and the iTunes store suddenly began raking in more and more money. The record companies were irritated, now wanting to charge different amounts for old and new songs, and popular and less popular songs. “But there was no alternative outlet with which to threaten Apple, which gained an effective monopoly over the digital music player market, achieving a share of more than 70%” wrote Arthur. Some did attempt to challenge the iTunes store, but still none have succeeded. “Apple is now the largest single retailer of music in the US by volume, with a 25% share.”

The iTunes store now sells television shows and films, and the company has recently launced iBooks, a new e-book store. The App Store is hugely successful, with Apple earning $410m in two years soley from Apps, sales of which they get 30%. In two years, 5bn apps have been downloaded—while in seven years, 10bn songs have been purchased. Mulligan thinks that there is a reason for this—the quality of apps simply does not match up to a piece of music. “You can download a song from iTunes to your iPhone or iPad, but at the moment music in that form doesn’t play to the strengths of the device. Just playing a track isn’t enough.”

Adam Liversage, a spokesperson of the British Phonographic Industry, which represents the major UK record labels, notes that the rise of streaming services such as Spotify may be a culprit in the fall in music sales. Revenues from such companies added up to $800m in 2009. Arthur feels that “again, it doesn’t make up for the fall in CD sales, but increasingly it looks like nothing ever will; that the record business’s richest years are behind it. Yet there are still rays of hope. If Apple – and every other mobile phone maker – are moving to an app-based economy, where you pay to download games or timetables, why shouldn’t recording artists do the same?”

Well, apparently they are. British singer Peter Gabriel has released a ‘Full Moon Club’ app, which is updated every month with a new song. Arthur also notes that “the Canadian rock band Rush has an app, and the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, led by Trent Reznor – who has been critical of the music industry for bureaucracy and inertia – released the band’s first app in April 2009.” It is thought that such a system will be an effective method to reduce online piracy—”apps tend to be tied to a particular handset or buyer, making them more difficult to pirate than a CD”, he says—and in the music industry, piracy is a very big problem. In 2008, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimated that 95% of downloads were illegitimate. If musicians can increase sales and decrease piracy, Robert says, it can only be a good thing.

“It’s early days for apps in the music business, but we are seeing labels and artists experimenting with it,” Jacob said. “You could see that apps could have a premium offering, or behind-the-scenes footage, or special offers on tickets. But I think it’s a bit premature to predict the death of the album.” Robert concluded by saying that it could be “premature to predict the death of the iPod just yet too – but it’s unlikely that even Steve Jobs will be able to produce anything that will revive it. And that means that little more than five years after the music industry thought it had found a saviour in the little device, it is having to look around again for a new stepping stone to growth – if, that is, one exists.”

As increase in digital music sales slows, record labels look to new ways to make money
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Australia/2006

  • Posted on October 28, 2018 at 2:37 am

Contents

  • 1 January
  • 2 February
  • 3 March
  • 4 April
  • 5 May
  • 6 June
  • 7 July
  • 8 August
  • 9 September
  • 10 October
  • 11 November
  • 12 December

[edit]

Australia/2006
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The Wii, Nintendo’s next generation console, launches in North America

  • Posted on October 27, 2018 at 2:26 am

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nintendo has released its newest video game console in North America. Known as the Wii, the system and games have an MSRP of US$249.99 and US$49.99 respectively. The North American release is to be followed by the December 2nd launch in Japan and the December 8th launch in Europe.

Launched officially at midnight, more than a thousand people gathered in New York’s Time Square to be among the first to buy one of the Wii. In contrast to the crowds that have challenged crowd control officials over the last two days in connection with the launch of Sony’s Playstation 3, the Wii crowds have been much calmer. Many observers attribute this to the fact that Nintendo had more than ten times as many Wii consoles available on launching day than Sony did for their PS3 that had been hounded by part shortages in manufacturing right up to the day of launch.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said that several tough choices had been made in the design of the Wii. The company decided to develop a new way of playing games with revolutionary controllers instead of following the PS3 and the Xbox down the road of stunning graphic and multimedia options. This produced a console with a much talked-about sensor/controller design and the lowest price point of the three major consoles. While not having a DVD player or high-definition TV capabilities, the Wii retails for about $250 while its competitors the Xbox 360 and PS3 retail for about $400 and $600 respectively.

While the Wii will launch with several games available, one of its advertised advantages is that the new console is largely compatible with older games made for the GameCube, giving the new console an instant and extensive launching library. A GameCube controller will be needed to play GameCube games with the Wii. Several hardware items that GameCube games may be expecting, such as the modem or broadband adapter or the GameBoy player are not supported on the Wii.

Across the country in Los Angeles about 500 people were waiting for the doors to open at Universal City Walk’s Game Stop store. Fearing that the Wii introduction might be as contentious as the PS3 debut just a few days ago, the store handed out numbered wristbands to the throng. No problems were reported.

The Wii, Nintendo’s next generation console, launches in North America
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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announce second pregnancy

  • Posted on October 27, 2018 at 2:10 am

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kensington Palace announced on Monday that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, is pregnant with a second child after the onset of acute morning sickness led to her cancelling an engagement at Oxford University, where the couple were due to open a new centre for the study of China.

Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his congratulations: “Many congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I’m delighted by the happy news that they’re expecting another baby.”

Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband also congratulated the couple: “Fantastic to hear that Prince George will soon be a big brother. Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their happy news.”

A number of media outlets speculate the announcement of the Royal baby may influence the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum later this month, suggesting it may encourage people to vote to stay in the Union.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announce second pregnancy
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NBA: Grizzlies trade Pau Gasol to Lakers

  • Posted on October 26, 2018 at 3:08 am

Saturday, February 2, 2008

On Friday, the Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association agreed to send forward-center Pau Gasol and their 2010 second-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for center Kwame Brown, rookie point guard Javaris Crittenton, and two first-round draft picks in 2008 and 2010.

Also sent to Memphis were Pau’s brother Marc Gasol, and Aaron McKie, who was signed by the Lakers the same day.

Lakers General Manger Mitch Kupchak said, “Pau is a proven player of All-Star caliber in this league who can score and rebound and he’s still a young player. We feel this move strengthens our team in the short term as well as the long term.”

The Commercial Appeal, a Memphis newspaper, also reports that Grizzlies forward Stromile Swift will be traded to the New Jersey Nets for center Jason Collins in a deal expected to be finalized on Monday.

Gasol is averaging 18.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season, while Brown has a season average 5.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.The move officially ended the former number one over all pick’s dubious stay in Los Angeles. In his two plus years with the Lakers, Brown never was able to play consistent enough to please the front office. The ability of Los Angeles to acquire Gasol for Brown, Crittenton and two future first round draft picks has some around the league scratching their heads. “How can the Lakers get Pau Freakin’ Gasol and not give up one of their nine best players,” fumed NY Post column contributor William Mcknight.

Unbalanced trade or not, the Lakers now will head into the second half of the season as one of the strongest teams in the elite team heavy Western Conference.

NBA: Grizzlies trade Pau Gasol to Lakers
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