UK’s ITV cancels police drama “The Bill” after 27 years

Friday, March 26, 2010

British television network ITV announced today that it will cancel long running police drama The Bill. The Bill is one of the United Kingdom’s longest running drama series, having premiered the pilot episode, entitled “Woodentop”, in 1983.

The series has suffered from declining ratings despite an overhaul in 2009 which included a move to a post-watershed time slot. In a statement, ITV announced that the cancellation was part of a “creative rethink” and that the money saved from the cancellation would be put towards shorter-term dramas. ITV’s Peter Fincham said that “The Bill has been a fixture on our screens for more than 25 years and has been the home of some of the UK’s best serial drama storylines, and a great showcase for terrific scriptwriting and fine acting talent. But times change, and so do the tastes of our audience.” Fincham went on to explain that the decision to cancel the series was a “creative decision” rather than one intended to cut costs.

Ninety people are currently employed on the production team for The Bill and production company Talkback Thames announced that there was a possibility of a “significant number of redundancies”, but the company is entering into consultation with employees. The current series will end later in 2010 and ITV will not be recommissioning it. Investing in shorter-run dramas, ITV announced that, inter alia, a new short series written by Anthony Horowitz is forthcoming.

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TD Financial to acquire Hudson United Bancorp

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Canadian TD Financial Group has come to a deal with the regional U.S. bank, Hudson United Bancorp, to buy Hudson for US$1.9 billion. The new addition will be folding into itsMaine-based TD Banknorth, which is 51% owned by TD Financial. The acquisition will bring in 204 new branches and increase TD’s footprint to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. In total this will give TD 590 branches, 751 banking machines and more than US$26-billion in deposits across eight northeastern states.

Hudson specialises in commercial real estate, consumer and credit card loans to individuals and businesses. The bank also had $8.85 billion US in assets at the end of it’s first quarter, on March 31. The company’s shares had been dropping in the course of the past year because of allegations of money-laundering violations and after an earnings warning, making it a good steal for TD. The acquisition will greatly increased TD’s influence in America.

This continues the recent trend for Canadian banks expanding into the U.S. where regulation on bank mergers is less strict than in their home country.

“This transaction delivers on our shared vision for growth and marks a significant milestone in TD Banknorth’s expansion strategy,” TD Bank CEO and president Ed Clark said in a statement.

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Life After Lap Band}

Life after LapBand


Dr. K. Huguet, MD

LapBand surgery is growing in popularity across the United States. So far, more than 150,000 people have had the weight loss surgery and that number is increasing each year. This type of bariatric surgery is meant for only the morbidly obese – people who are more than 100 pounds overweight or who are twice their ideal body weights.

Bariatric surgery is just the first step toward a new healthy life. What patients do after surgery is just as important – if not more important – than what the LapBand surgeon does. The effectiveness of the surgery depends upon the ability of the patient to change his or her diet and eating behavior.

Bariatric surgeons and their clinicians are dedicated to providing long term care for weight loss surgery patients. Often this commitment includes dietary and behavior modification suggestions as well as counseling support. Patients must attend between three and four follow up visits in the first year after their surgery to make sure they are on the path to recovery. These visits can include a review of the patient’s progress and a discussion of concerns or problems the patient is experiencing.

Each LapBand surgery patient is encouraged to eat a balanced diet and avoid problematic eating patterns that are characteristic of their previous lifestyle. A restrictive band that is placed around the stomach helps patients feel satisfied sooner and longer. The band is meant to reinforce good eating habits and the patient’s ability to be content with smaller meals. The LapBand will teach patients to eat solid food and make sure every bite is well chewed.

LapBand patients are also encouraged to incorporate physical activity and exercise into their routine when recommended by their physician. This will improve weight loss and overall health while building a better quality of life.

Use the following guide as an outline of what foods to eat, what foods to avoid and how to begin eating again once the LapBand is in place.

Immediately after the LapBand surgery, patients should sip water and eat ice cubes. For the following week, water and liquids with some calories are allowed, but patients should avoid drinking too much at once.

One to two weeks after the bariatric surgery, patients can drink thin liquids and clear broths. That means no vegetables, meat or cream in the broths. Skim or soy milk, sugarless popsicles and approved meal replacement shakes are also acceptable during this time.

For weeks three to four, patients should eat pureed foods that are similar to baby food. Make meals with proteins first, then slowly introduce vegetables into the diet.

At five weeks after LapBand surgery, patients can begin to eat soft foods; this includes tender cooked meats, fish, soft poached eggs and scrambled eggs. All meats should be chewed well to avoid obstructions. Patients should try to eat one to two ounces of meat or fish a day, one to two servings of fruit, one small portion of low sugar hot or cold cereal and a maximum of two cups of milk or low fat yogurt. All fats, such as butter and mayonnaise, should be eaten in extreme moderation.

Moving forward, patients are encouraged to eat the following foods:

Fresh fruit and vegetablesWhole wheat breadLow sugar cerealWhite meat chickenGround turkey breastFishSkim milkLow fat or fat free yogurtCalorie free beverages

The following foods should be avoided while the patient still has the LapBand:

Seeds or skin of fruits and vegetablesUntoasted or doughy breadBiscuits or white breadDry meatShrimpHigh fat cooking methodsJamDried fruitFried foodPeanut butterCorn, asparagus, broccoli and celeryNutsCoconutsPopcornCitrus fruit membranesFollowing these simple guidelines will ensure your LapBand surgery is a successful one.

Dr. Kevin Huguet, MD, of Bay Surgical Specialists, a group practice of board-certified surgeons specializing in general surgery,

bariatric surgery


lap band surgery Tampa

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Life after LapBand}

Chula Vista, California becomes model for blight control laws in the US

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The San Diego, California suburb of Chula Vista has responded to the recent housing crisis with an aggressive blight control ordinance that compels lenders to maintain the appearance of vacant homes. As foreclosures increase both locally and throughout the United States, the one year old ordinance has become a model for other cities overwhelmed by the problem of abandoned homes that decay into neighborhood eyesores.

Chula Vista city code enforcement manager Doug Leeper told the San Diego Union Tribune that over 300 jurisdictions have contacted his office during the past year with inquiries about the city’s tough local ordinance. Coral Springs, Florida, and California towns Stockton, Santee, Riverside County, and Murietta have all modeled recently enacted anti-blight measures after Chula Vista’s. On Wednesday, 8 October, the Escondido City Council also voted to tighten local measures making lenders more accountable for maintenance of empty homes.

Lenders will respond when it costs them less to maintain the property than to ignore local agency requirements.

Under the Chula Vista ordinance lenders become legally responsible for upkeep as soon as a notice of mortgage default gets filed on a vacant dwelling, before actual ownership of the dwelling returns to the lender. Leeper regards that as “the cutting-edge part of our ordinance”. Chula Vista also requires prompt registration of vacant homes and applies stiff fines as high as US$1000 per day for failure to maintain a property. Since foreclosed properties are subject to frequent resale between mortgage brokers, city officials enforce the fines by sending notices to every name on title documents and placing a lien on the property, which prevents further resale until outstanding fines have been paid. In the year since the ordinance went into effect the city has applied $850,000 in fines and penalties, of which it has collected $200,000 to date. The city has collected an additional $77,000 in registration fees on vacant homes.

Jolie Houston, an attorney in San Jose, believes “Lenders will respond when it costs them less to maintain the property than to ignore local agency requirements.” Traditionally, local governments have resorted to addressing blight problems on abandoned properties with public funds, mowing overgrown lawns and performing other vital functions, then seeking repayment afterward. Chula Vista has moved that responsibility to an upfront obligation upon lenders.

That kind of measure will add additional costs to banks that have been hit really hard already and ultimately the cost will be transferred down to consumers and investors.

As one of the fastest growing cities in the United States during recent years, Chula Vista saw 22.6% growth between 2000 and 2006, which brought the city’s population from 173,556 in the 2000 census to an estimated 212,756, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Chula Vista placed among the nation’s 20 fastest growing cities in 2004. A large proportion of local homes were purchased during the recent housing boom using creative financing options that purchasers did not understand were beyond their means. Average home prices in San Diego County declined by 25% in the last year, which is the steepest drop on record. Many homeowners in the region currently owe more than their homes are worth and confront rising balloon payment mortgages that they had expected to afford by refinancing new equity that either vanished or never materialized. In August 2008, Chula Vista’s eastern 91913 zip code had the highest home mortgage default rate in the county with 154 filings and 94 foreclosures, an increase of 154% over one year previously. Regionally, the county saw 1,979 foreclosures in August.

Professionals from the real estate and mortgage industries object to Chula Vista’s response to the crisis for the additional burdens it places on their struggling finances. Said San Diego real estate agent Marc Carpenter, “that kind of measure will add additional costs to banks that have been hit really hard already and ultimately the cost will be transferred down to consumers and investors.” Yet city councils in many communities have been under pressure to do something about increasing numbers of vacant properties. Concentrations of abandoned and neglected homes can attract vandals who hasten the decline of struggling neighborhoods. Jolie Houston explained that city officials “can’t fix the lending problem, but they can try to prevent neighborhoods from becoming blighted.”

Does Chula Vista’s solution save neighborhoods or worsen the financial crisis?
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CEO Robert Klein of Safeguard, a property management firm, told the Union Tribune that his industry is having difficulty adapting to the rapidly changing local ordinances. “Every day we discover a new ordinance coming out of somewhere”, he complained. Dustin Hobbs, a spokesman from the California Association of Mortgage Bankers agreed that uneven local ordinances are likely to increase the costs of lending. Hobbs advised that local legislation is unnecessary due to California State Senate Bill 1137, which was recently approved to address blight. Yet according to Houston, the statewide measure falls short because it fails to address upkeep needs during the months between the time when foreclosure begins and when the lender takes title.

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Iranian refugee child granted $400,000 in compensation for “psychological harm”

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Eleven-year-old Iranian refugee boy, Shayan Badraie, who suffered psychological injuries during his time spent inside Australia’s immigration detention centres, will receive a Federal Government payout of AU$400,000 in compensation. The government will also pay his family’s legal bill of more than $1 million.

Between 2000 and 2002 the Badraie family were incarcerated behind the razorwire of the (now mothballed) Woomera Detention Facility, a remote desert camp in outback South Australia – and later sent to the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney. In 2001, video footage of his condition was smuggled out of Villawood, inciting national debate over Prime Minister John Howard’s controversial policy of detaining children.

Badraie’s family lawyer, Rebecca Gilsenan, said the family are “looking forward to living a normal life in the community. The settlement will enable the treatment he needs to somehow rectify the damage done in the detention centres. The fact the Government has settled the case indicates a serious concern on their part they were going to be found guilty of negligence,” Gilsenan told reporters.

Shayan, his father and stepmother arrived in Australia in 2000, and were sent immediately to the notorious Woomera desert camp. During his 17 months incarceration, Shayan stopped drinking, eating and speaking.

“He witnessed a series of incredibly traumatic and violent events, the sort of events no adult or no child should be exposed to,” Gilsenan said. “Within a year of being detained at the detention centre… he had developed psychiatric illness to the point of diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and later depression,” she said.

The court heard evidence from former senior immigration official Philippa Godwin that detention could damage the mental health of refugees – directly contradicting the Government’s claims the centres were safe. Opposition immigration spokesman Tony Burke said: “Children should never have been put in detention and money will never undo the damage and pain.”

The Department of Immigration said the agreement was “no admission of guilt”. Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone says she does not believe a $400,000 is a backdown. Vanstone said an offer was made to the Badraie family’s lawyer some time ago but they turned it down.

Compared with similar countries, Australia has some of the toughest policies in the world against refugee arrivals. Policies include immediate mandatory detention of boat arrivals, the detention of workers and students who overstay their visas are sent to detention camps under harsh conditions. Immigration detainees often languish in limbo with some up to six years while their cases are being heard. These camps have been condemned by many international human rights groups.

Greens senator Kerry Nettle says “hundreds of children have been mentally scarred by their time in immigration detention and further claims are planned.” She blames the Federal Government’s policy of mandatory detention.

“The Government has accepted the responsibility for the health consequences of their policy of mandatory detention,” Senator Nettle said. “There is a raft of children, we are talking hundreds of children, and adults, who have had their mental health significantly impacted by the policy of mandatory detention.”

She rejected that the Federal Government deserve congratulations over settlement: “To have gone through these proceedings, and spent the amount of money they have spent, to put Shayan’s mother in the witness box for two weeks, is not an indication of a willingness and public accountability by the Government to accept responsibility for their actions,” Senator Nettle said.

Lawyer Rebecca Gilsenan says the landmark case may pave the way for more litigation by other refugee families. It is the first time the Department has conceded that a child has been psychologically harmed in its detention.

Gilsenan says the outcome sets a precedent for other detainees. “The problems that Shayan experienced were systemic problems rather than ones that were just specific to him, although the particular treatment that he received was disgraceful,” she said. “So it’s quite possible that there are other children or even adults out there who lived in a similar environment during that time in immigration detention and possibly have similar problems.”

She says she hopes the systemic problems highlighted in the case will now be addressed. “I can only hope that the Government takes notice of this and doesn’t continue to spend taxpayer money on having to compensate people for treating them in a disgraceful way in immigration detention.”

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Benefits Offered By Quick Duct Cleaning


For most homeowners, their HVAC system is an important part of their day to day life and comfort. However, the parts and components that are hidden are often forgotten. This includes the ducts. The fact is, the ducts are a crucial part of a home’s comfort system and if they are dirty, they can present a number of serious and costly problems. This is why it may be time to invest in duct cleaning. Some of the benefits offered by Quick duct cleaning can be found here.

Improvement of Indoor Air Quality

One of the biggest concerns for many homeowners is the quality of the air in their home. If the ducts of the home are dirty and littered with accumulated dust, dirt and debris, then it is going to affect the air quality. In fact, in a typical six-room house, there are up to 40 pounds of dust created each year. If this dust is never cleaned, it continues to accumulate year after year. With the heating and cooling system is essentially the lungs of the structure, it is essential to keep it clean. If the air is dirty, this is what is going through the system and becoming stuck in the ducts. With Quick duct cleaning, all this nasty accumulation of dirt can be removed, improving overall home air quality significantly.

Energy Savings

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 25 to 40 percent of the total energy that is used for cooling or heating in a home winds up being wasted. The contaminants in the cooling and heating system result in it having to work harder, which can shorten the entire life of the system. While filters are often used, the system can still get quite dirty just with normal use.

When a home’s HVAC system remains clean, then it will not have to work as hard to stay at the desired temperature. This means that less energy will be used, and it will lead to increased cost-effectiveness. Refrigeration offers more information about keeping a Heating and Cooling system in good, working order. If more information is needed, be sure to call the HVAC specialists here. Doing so will ensure all questions are answered accurately regarding the system.

Saudi Arabia resumes livestock trade with Somalia

Friday, November 6, 2009

The government of Saudi Arabia removed an eleven-year ban on livestock imports from Somalia after fears of Rift Valley Fever were allayed, senior Somali officials said on Thursday.

The decision was well received across Somalia, as hundreds of thousands of farmers heavily rely on animal exports to the oil-rich Middle East. Under the new arrangement, Saudi officials will closely examine animals before they are shipped off to Saudi soil.

“This is a tremendous decision for Somalis across the Horn of Africa,” said Idiris Ibrahim Abdi, the livestock minister of Somaliland, the self-declared republic in northern Somalia, which has developed one of the most sophisticated animal processing plants in its port town of Berbera.

According to news accounts, the Saudi agricultural ministry said the decision is based on years of cross-examination and monitoring of animal farms in Somalia.

Animal trade is one of the few surviving economic engines of Somalia’s largely destroyed economy. Business leaders and animal farmers have largely welcomed the Saudi decision.

“This decision will allow me to triple my animal sales to shipping companies,” said Mohamed Hassan Kahde, an animal farmer in the central town of Beledweyne.

An official with the Puntland Meat Processing Authority told the Voice of America news agency that they expect to export more than half a million heads of goats and cows to Saudi Arabia in time for the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage, which will be performed by early December.

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Report urges Kenya to ban plastic bags

Wednesday, March 9, 2005File:Plastic bag stock sized.jpg

They are cheap, useful, and very plentiful, and that is exactly the problem, according to researchers. A report issued on Feb. 23 by a cadre of environment and economics researchers suggested that Kenya should ban the common plastic bag that one gets at the checkout counter of grocery stores, and place a levy on other plastic bags, all to combat the country’s environmental problems stemming from the bags’ popularity.

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Lib Dems launch manifesto

Thursday, April 14, 2005

An exhausted Charles Kennedy returned to the election campaign to launch a twenty page Liberal Democrat manifesto targeted at disaffected Labour voters, promising a fairer tax system and withdrawal from Iraq.

Entitled The Real Alternative the manifesto pledges to reduce the lowest rate of income tax, but increase the rate on those earning over £100,000 to 50%. The party would also scrap the unpopular local council tax in favour of a new local income tax. The manifesto also promises to remove hidden “stealth taxes”.

Under this system the party claims the poorest 15 million (25%) of people in Britain would be better off, and the middle 50% would be paying no extra tax.

The manifesto promised to scrap the controversial university tuition fees, increase services for pensioners and add £100 a month to the state pension, and train 21,000 new primary school teachers and 10,000 new police. A Lib Dem government would make eye and dental checks free, and reduce the cost of prescription medicine.

The Liberal Democrats were the only one of the three largest parliamentary parties to have consistently voted against the Iraq war, and the manifesto has promised an exit strategy with a phased withdrawal of Britain’s 8,000 troops still in the country.

“We reject a foreign policy based on ‘my ally right or wrong’,” Kennedy said. “And we say that war should always be a last resort.”

Kennedy, who became a father on Tuesday, admitted he’d had little sleep before the manifesto launch, and stumbled while answering questions on the proposed tax system.

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