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Fifteen people killed in Philippines hotel fire

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fifteen people were killed and twelve were injured after an eight hour hotel fire in Tuguegarao City, Northern Philippines, however police and firefighters managed to save many guests. Reports suggest the deceased sought cover in bathrooms where they were burnt beyond recognition.

After entering the building firefighters were left in tears after finding the charred bodies of guests on the upper floors. “It’s so close to Christmas, we wept when we saw their bodies,” said fire investigator Daniel Abana. Nine of the deaths were confirmed to be nursing students from a nearby university. The students were in the city to take nursing exams. Nursing college instructor, Romeo Opido, told authorities that 36 nursing students from nearby provinces were at the hotel. Tuguegarao City counselor said, “It is very unfortunate that this happened just when they were about to take their exams.”

The other deaths were the hotel owner’s and their family, including three children. The cause of the fire is still undetermined although it is known that the fire started on the ground floor and was energized by car tires and other combustible materials. It is also believed that paint cans were still in the building following a recent make over.

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Airplane in Nigeria crashes during mock rescue exercise

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Nigerian airplane crashed in the city of Port Harcourt yesterday, resulting in several minor injuries.

The plane was supposed to be taking part in a mock rescue exercise, and was carrying 30 members from the National Emergency Management Agency and other emergency workers, when it slid off the runway and into some bushes after landing at Port Harcourt International Airport.

The rescue workers on the ground, intended to participate in the emergency drill, instead had to deal with a real emergency; however, only a few people on board the aircraft sustained minor wounds.

A spokeswoman for the police, Rita Inoma-Abbey, commented today that “[n]o life was lost, but the aircraft was severely damaged.”

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Al Sharpton speaks out on race, rights and what bothers him about his critics

Monday, December 3, 2007

At Thanksgiving dinner David Shankbone told his white middle class family that he was to interview Reverend Al Sharpton that Saturday. The announcement caused an impassioned discussion about the civil rights leader’s work, the problems facing the black community and whether Sharpton helps or hurts his cause. Opinion was divided. “He’s an opportunist.” “He only stirs things up.” “Why do I always see his face when there’s a problem?”

Shankbone went to the National Action Network’s headquarters in Harlem with this Thanksgiving discussion to inform the conversation. Below is his interview with Al Sharpton on everything from Tawana Brawley, his purported feud with Barack Obama, criticism by influential African Americans such as Clarence Page, his experience running for President, to how he never expected he would see fifty (he is now 53). “People would say to me, ‘Now that I hear you, even if I disagree with you I don’t think you’re as bad as I thought,'” said Sharpton. “I would say, ‘Let me ask you a question: what was “bad as you thought”?’ And they couldn’t say. They don’t know why they think you’re bad, they just know you’re supposed to be bad because the right wing tells them you’re bad.”

Contents

  • 1 Sharpton’s beginnings in the movement
  • 2 James Brown: a father to Sharpton
  • 3 Criticism: Sharpton is always there
  • 4 Tawana Brawley to Megan Williams
  • 5 Sharpton and the African-American media
  • 6 Why the need for an Al Sharpton?
  • 7 Al Sharpton and Presidential Politics
  • 8 On Barack Obama
  • 9 The Iraq War
  • 10 Sharpton as a symbol
  • 11 Blacks and whites and talking about race
  • 12 Don Imus, Michael Richards and Dog The Bounty Hunter
  • 13 Sources
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Doha round of trade talks suspended after negotiations fail

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Pascal Lamy, suspended negotiations in the Doha round of trade talks on Monday, after a meeting of six “core” negotiators India, Brazil, the United States, European Union, Japan, and Australia in Geneva failed to make any headway in reconciling differences over agricultural trade liberalisation. The US wanted cuts in import tariffs for farm products, which were rejected by EU, Japan and India, who asked for cuts in agricultural subsidies.

Peter Mandelson, the EU trade commissioner, told the Financial Times: “If the US continues to demand dollar-for-dollar compensation in market access [cutting tariffs] for reducing domestic support, no one in the developing world will ever buy that and the EU will not either.” Brazil also identified the US stand on subsidies as the reason the talks failed.

Susan Schwab, the US trade representative, said that the other countries sought exemptions from tariff cuts for a wide range of goods and that such exemptions would defeat the object of the talks – to expand trade. “As we went through the layers of loopholes . . . we discovered that a couple of our trading partners were more interested in loopholes than market access,” she said.

The Indian Commerce and Industries Minister, Kamal Nath said that developing countries could not allow their subsistence farmers to lose their livelihood and food security to provide market access to agricultural products from developed countries.

Contents

  • 1 Many reasons attributed
  • 2 Reactions
  • 3 What is the Doha round?
    • 3.1 Parallels to the Uruguay round
  • 4 Future of the Doha round
  • 5 Repercussions of the failure
  • 6 Sources
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500 stranded melon-headed whales rescued in Philippine bay

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Philippine fishermen, volunteers and authorities with dozens of fishing boats have joined hands in guiding back to sea about 500 disorientated melon-headed whales that were stranded in the shallow waters near the mouth of Manila Bay delta in the Bataan Peninsula.

The gentle mammals were first spotted swimming back and forth and straying very dangerously close (about a mile or 1.6 kilometers) to the shores of the coastal towns of Pilar, Orion and Abucay 135 kilometers northwest of Manila at around at around 4:00 am on Tuesday, said Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commodore Luis Tuazon and Bataan Governor Enrique Garcia Jr.

The Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said its has responded to the reported mass “stranding” of whales off Pilar coastal waters in the province of Bataan where the famous and historic Corregidor Island is located.

Using dozens of fishing boats with machines shut down and bare hands, more than 100 village fishermen and volunteers along with BFAR, local police and Philippine Coast Guard personnel have joined the massive rescue. With great difficulty, the emergency team has waded into the chest-deep water, clapping their hands and hitting the surface to guide and drive the whales farther away from the coastal shore to deeper waters.

“The mammals were at first thought to have been dolphins, but experts then identified them as melon-headed whales,” local veterinarian Mariel Flores said. “This type of whale can be easily mistaken for dolphins because of their size and their teeth, which resemble those of dolphins. The mammals have ears that are sensitive to large changes in pressure underwater,” she added.

This type of [melon-headed] whale can be easily mistaken for dolphins because of their size and their teeth, which resemble those of dolphins. If their eardrums are damaged they become disorientated and they float up to the surface.

“It looked like they never wanted to leave. They looked sad,” said Rodolfo Joson, a village councilor. Joson and his son, Joey, a fisherman like him, have rushed home at about 4 a.m. to report the pod sighting. “It was still dark when we waded into the water. The whales were about 200 meters from the shore. The water was up to my neck. We first checked their conditions by playing with them. They did not repel us or leave. They were making hooting sounds,” Joson explained the mass beaching. “It seemed they were running away from waters that they didn’t like. Dolphins are happy and strong creatures. They raced with ships,” he added.

A post-mortem examination has revealed that four dead whales found beached farther up north in Abucay, Bataan, include two adult females, one of which was pregnant, while the other gave birth to a calf that also died, said Dr. Lemnuel Aragones of Ocean Adventure in Subic Freeport who did the necropsy at the Bataan fisheries office in Balanga City.

This is the first time that such large numbers of dolphins had been stranded in the Philippines. “We are trying to come up with a possible explanation to this unusual occurrence. It could be that the dolphins had lost their bearings and inadvertently ended up on the shallow portion of the coast unable to extricate themselves,” said Dr Lemuel Aragones, Associate Professor at the UP Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology.

Dr Aragones, who holds a PhD on Tropical Environmental Studies (Marine Ecology) from Australia’s James Cook University, explained that “the melon-headed whales of the dolphin family have sophisticated navigation systems that operate on a principle similar to sonar instruments used in submarines. Like humans, dolphins also follow a ‘leader’ of their pod. It is possible that the leader of this dolphin [pod] had somehow lost its way. In turn, the leader’s acoustic system, which serves as its guidance system, might have been impaired,” the marine expert elaborated.

Dr Aragones said “BFAR, UPIESM, and the Ocean Adventure Marine Park in Subic started the Philippine Marine Mammals Stranding Network (PMMSN) in 2005 as a response to cetacean strandings or beachings.” She cited the PMMSN training received by BFAR officers in Bataan during Tuesday’s mass beaching. She has asked the government to release funds for marine mammal studies.

The two adults had damaged eardrums, Alberto Venturina, the provincial veterinarian, said. “Dolphins with injured eardrums become disoriented, cannot dive for food and are too weak to swim and just flow with the current. If it’s a sick leader, the animal needs to be identified and taken out of sight of the rest of the pod so the healthy dolphins could be prodded back to sea,” he added.”The two animals were identified as melon-headed dolphins, weighing about 250 to 300 kilograms (550 to 660 pounds),” explained Venturina, adding “the third dolphin was only a month old and measured barely a meter long. Its gender had not yet been determined.”

According to Nelson Bien, head of the Fisheries Resource and Management Division of BFAR Region III, a necropsy by BFAR, the provincial veterinarian, and veterinarians from the Ocean Adventure in Subic Freeport has traced the cause of their death to drowning.

The marine doctors have determined that the marine mammals might have drowned after failing to extricate themselves from the fishing nets or “baklad,” explained Dr. Mundita Lim, director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). “There were no injuries to their ears, like visible lesions, but the possibility of an acoustic problem or trauma is still there,” Dr Lim explained, saying, “more tests, like analysis of tissue samples and MRI tests will have to be done to see if there were other injuries to the animals not visible externally.”

They are sending tissue samples to the University of Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna for analysis. “If it was something like climate change, then it would be a bigger environmental problem,” Lim added.

A fourth and pregnant one was also found dead in the village of Tortugas in the town of Balanga, Bataan, said Bien, saying they were investigating the incident and would conduct a “water quality and water parameter test” to determine why the dolphins beached to shallow waters. The condition of melon-headed whale found at Talisay River and taken to Ocean Adventure in Subic Freeport has improved amid forced feeding and treatment of its 2 wounds, said Nilo Ramoso, Biologist III, Pawikan Conservation Project.

Dr. Westly Rosario, BFAR Center chief in Dagupan City, has reported that BFAR personnel were also investigating a “problem in the water, probably chemical pollution,” to explain why the dolphins beached and sought shelter in the shallow waters. The dolphins have faced the same direction and their blowholes above water, they seemed to be avoiding something. “The dolphins were behaving in the same way, they have the same action. People were trying to drive them back into the sea but they refused. There could be chemical pollution somewhere which they were avoiding,” Rosario explained.

Dolphins’ disorientation is sometimes caused by the changes in earth’s magnetic field “that cause the dolphins’ navigational mechanisms to go haywire,” Dr. Edgardo Gomez, professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, said, adding that “it could also be chemicals in the water that affected the dolphins, although this should be proven by water tests.” Philippine marine biologist Rizza Salinas said a possible cause for the stranding of large pods of distressed whales is that there could have been illegal dynamite fishing in the area.

“This is very strange. What is also unusual is they appeared disoriented. I am on my way to Bataan on board BFAR’s patrol vessel. We will look into the situation. Our patrol boats are also on their way to the area. We are also getting experts on stranding,” said BFAR director Malcolm Sarmiento Jr. Sarmiento, explaining that the highest number of stranded dolphins recorded by the BFAR was only 20 to 30. “It’s something unusual. It’s the first time that such a large pod has entered Manila Bay, and is acting strangely,” Sarmiento added.

“Most strandings are caused by seaquakes, heat wave or disturbances at sea. Such disturbances affect the pressure underwater, which subsequently affects the dolphins’ eardrums and sense of balance, leading to their “disorientation.” The creatures then will avoid diving in deeper parts of the ocean and will swim to shallow areas. They came from the north and were headed towards the South China Sea,” Sarmiento explained, adding that the unusual occurrence may have also been caused when the pod could have been following a sick or injured leader.

Sarmiento has appealed to the public not to inflict harm on the dolphins, which are considered threatened species. “Please do not harm the dolphins because they are already endangered. The authorities should also prevent the people who want to inflict harm on the creatures. They should be arrested, if needed.” Melon-head dolphins are considered threatened species — meaning they are likely to become endangered in the future.

“At around 12 noon, the dolphins were finally guided to the open seas, but residents in Hermosa near Mariveles were surprised to see the dolphins near their shoreline, but around 4:30 pm, all the dolphins have left the shoreline and swam towards into deeper waters,” said Governor Garcia.

“The dolphins swam parallel back to Abucay, Hermosa, and Manila Bay before they were eventually herded farther offshore. There are theories that this phenomenon was a result of the Monday night lunar eclipse. The Fisheries Bureau will know after their tests,” Garcia added.

Having suspected the dolphins’ habitat must have been disrupted, forcing them to flee and seek refuge in shallow waters, Senate of the Philippines Majority Leader, Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday asked experts to probe the cause of the sudden appearance of more than 300 electra dolphins near the shores of Pilar town in Bataan province Tuesday morning.

Senator Zubiri wanted the experts to examine the possibility that an earthquake study, involving an undersea experiment using blasting in the South China Sea by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (L-DEO) – a collaborator of Columbia University – caused the abnormal behavior of the small whales.

Citing an International Union for Conservation of Nature research concluding that the melon-headed whales may have been distracted by the South China Sea study, forcing the dolphins to wander in the shallow waters, Senator Zubiri said that “the earthquake study is a sea floor investigation project in the exclusive economic zone that includes Taiwan, China, Japan and the Philippines for its earthquake research. On top of saving stranded dolphins, we should find the cause for the tragedy in order to avoid them in the future and to be prepared when it occurs again,” he explained.

But according to Erlinton Olavare, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) science research specialist, “no significant event was recorded by their stations in Bolinao, Sta. Cruz and Lubag, near Pilar at the time the dolphins were stranded Tuesday.”

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Jose L. Atienza, Jr. said Bataan Gov. Enrique “Tet” Garcia on Wednesday confirmed there was dynamite fishing in his province. “I asked him [Garcia] and he confirmed it. He also said he was battling this illegal activity,” said Atienza. “The causes of the acoustic trauma could have been sound waves caused by dynamite fishing or sounds emitted by passing ships or seaquakes,” Gov. Garcia said.

“Dolphins are a ‘cohesive’ group and that they follow where their leader takes them. If the leader of the dolphins was sick, then the animal could have committed a “navigational error” and led the rest of the group to shore,” said the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).

“The pod of melon-headed whales (dolphins) on Manila Bay were injured by a rather nasty group of more than 120 undersea earthquakes. The swarm started with a small magnitude-4.5 event on December 21, 2008. Things got red-hot on January 3, 2009 when a magnitude-7.6 event erupted near the water’s edge on Papua Island in Indonesia, 700 miles southeast of Davao City in Mindanao. The 7.6 magnitude quake was followed by more than 120 major aftershocks each one capable by itself of inflicting injury on a pod of dolphins,” said Capt. David Williams, a retired marine mammal researcher, a commercial sea captain for 40 years and active whale conservationist.

Capt. Williams explained that whales and dolphins have small air sacs (pterygoid sinuses) that surround each inner ear and help then sense sound direction underwater. A damaged pterygoid air sac results in the loosing of echonavigation and echolocation. “In summary, my Seaquake Theory indicates that barotrauma, as a result of exposure to potent earthquake-induced changes in ambient pressure, solves the centuries-old mystery of why whales and dolphins mass-strand on beaches around the world,” Capt. Williams concluded.

An explosive blast and explosive decompression create a pressure wave that can induce barotrauma. The difference in pressure between internal organs and the outer surface of the body causes injuries to internal organs that contain gas, such as the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and ear.

According to the Natural History Museum experts, whale and dolphins can become confused, mis-read the Earth’s magnetic fields, fear certain sounds and get lost. Since 1913, it has investigated all strandings, more than 11,000 so far, and it runs the UK Whale and Dolphin Stranding Scheme.

New Zealand‘s Project Jonah has claimed that the largest recorded beach stranding was in 1918 when 1,000 pilot whales were stranded on New Zealand’s Chatham Islands.

The last mass beaching in the Philippines was in 1956 when around 12 sperm whales were stranded in a coastal area in Capiz, amid at least 10 yearly strandings that happened in the country involving only one or two animals that were either sick or dying.

Last January this year, Filipino fishermen have also rescued an endangered sea cow. The fishermen aided the beached sea cow to the deep sea, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

The Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra; many-toothed blackfish and electra dolphin) is a cetacean of the oceanic dolphin family (Delphinidae). As small members of the dolphingroup, it is closely related to the Pygmy Killer Whale and Pilot Whale, and collectively these dolphin species are known by the common name blackfish.

The tender mammal can grow up to 2.7 meters (9 feet) and weigh as much as 210 kilograms (460pounds). With black triangular “mask” on its face, it appears dark gray to black in color, has no discernible beak and its head is shaped like a rounded melon, thus the name. Its primary diet is squid and fish. The Melon-headed whale lives well off-shore in all the world’s tropical and sub-tropical oceans.

At the northern fringes of its range it may also be found in the warm currents of temperate waters. Ordinarily, however, it is found beyond the continental shelf between 20° S and 20° N. The Melon-headed whale is widespread throughout the world’s tropical waters, although not often seen by humans on account of its preference for deep water. It has been found in Ireland, Hawaii and Cebu, in the Philippines.

As social species, they are covered by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 in the United States. In July 2004, between 150 and 200 melon-headed whales occupied the shallow waters of Kauai island in Hawaii for over 28 hours, after which, they were rescued and guided to deeper water. This incident may have been related to nearby United States Navy sonar exercise.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which includes the melon-headed whales in its Red List of threatened species said that the number of whales involved in mass stranding had increased in the last 30 years.

“The melon-headed whales are likely to be “vulnerable” to loud sounds, such as those generated by navy sonar and seismic exploration. Evidence from stranded whales also has indicated that they may have died after swallowing plastic items. It has been predicted that the whales will be affected by global climate change, but the impact is still unclear,” the IUCN explained.

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October

14

Florida man charged with stealing Wi-Fi

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Florida man charged with stealing Wi-Fi
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Update since publication

This article mentions that Wi-Fi stands for “Wireless Fidelity”, although this is disputed.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

A Florida man is being charged with 3rd degree felony for logging into a private Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) Internet access point without permission. Benjamin Smith III, 41, is set for a pre-trial hearing this month in the first case of its kind in the United States.

This kind of activity occurs frequently, but often goes undetected by the owners of these wireless access points (WAPs). Unauthorized users range from casual Web browsers, to users sending e-mails, to users involved in pornography or even illegal endeavours.

According to Richard Dinon, owner of the WAP Smith allegedly broke into, Smith was using a laptop in an automobile while parked outside Dinon’s residence.

There are many steps an owner of one of these access points can take to secure them from outside users. Dinon reportedly knew how to take these steps, but had not bothered because his “neighbors are older.”

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October

14

Police disperse striking traders in New Delhi

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Police disperse striking traders in New Delhi
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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Delhi Police used lathi(baton)-charges to disrupt striking traders when they gathered in large numbers and attempted to block traffic on the city’s streets on Wednesday morning. The 2-day old strike, protesting a Supreme Court order to seal unauthorised commercial establishments in the city, turned to a more violent note with protestors stranded several buses by puncturing their tyres.

The Supreme Court’s Monitoring committee sent a notice to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Tuesday to resume the sealing of unauthorised shops from November 2. Initially, the sealing drive was to resume on November 1.

Private medical practitioners also joined the protest on its final day, which affected health services in the city. The traders threatened to extend their strike if MCD resumes its sealing drive.

The first two days of the strike went peacefully without having any serious violence. Traders were expecting the government to meet their demands. They met Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit to resolve this dispute.

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October

13

North American roads suffer from dramatic thaws and freezes

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North American roads suffer from dramatic thaws and freezes
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Monday, January 8, 2007

Major city roads across North America are suffering from an early surge in potholes due to the dramatic freezes and thaws this month, some several feet across and inches deep. The potholes are caused by water seeping into cracks during warm weather, and pushing concrete apart when it freezes. Traffic erodes chunks of concrete from the cracks to form holes that continuously grow larger.

While car repair shops are experiencing a boom in business, city budgets are being hit with the costs of patching potholes. Thierry Larivée, an infrastructure spokesman in Montréal, Canada, says about 20 pothole patrols are working throughout the city. They are expected to continue work until at least Friday.

Craig Bryson, spokesman for the Road Commission for Oakland County in Michigan, United States, reports problems on unpaved roads as well. “The warmer weather is also playing havoc with gravel roads; the top layer of dirt thaws, but remains frozen about 10 inches below the surface. Surface water has no place to go. This creates a rutted, soupy road, especially in low-lying areas.”

Environment Canada meteorologist René Héroux attributes the unseasonable thaw to warm winds from the southwest. Environment Canada predicts a new cold front on Thursday.

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October

12

Category:February 27, 2008

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Category:February 27, 2008
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? February 26, 2008
February 28, 2008 ?
February 27

Pages in category “February 27, 2008”

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October

12

BBC spends £3.4m on sell-off

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BBC spends £3.4m on sell-off
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Newspaper The Guardian reports today that the sale of the BBC subsidiary BBC Resources Ltd., has cost £3.4m in consultancy fees — over £1m more than the £2.3m trading profit the commercial division is estimated to have made for the last financial year. Details of the failed privatisation were released by the BBC following a freedom of information request, and prior to publication of its annual report on July 8.

Fourteen months after advisers were appointed to try to sell BBC Resources Ltd., only one of the three main business units has been sold — its Outside Broadcast division to Satellite Information Services Limited (SIS), for an estimated £20m. On March 7, 2008 it was also announced that the studios operation would remain in BBC ownership and in early June, the fate of the third business was put on hold with the BBC stating that “like Studios, Post Production will remain within BBC Resources, which will continue to operate as a wholly-owned commercial subsidiary of the BBC.”

BBC Resources Ltd. made an operating profit of £6.1m for 2005-06, down from £7.4m the year before, with the BBC accounting for 83.3% of its turnover, down from 87.4% for 2004-05. Last year’s published figure for 2006-07 was £5.2 million — with BBC business at 80% of turnover.

BECTU Assistant General Secretary Luke Crawley is quoted as saying: “It’s fairly outrageous that around half the profit of the company [announced last year] has been spent trying to sell it. It’s an inordinate amount of money. The BBC was promised big returns if it sold BBC Resources but it’s only managed to sell outside broadcasts and we do not know how much it made out of that. We think the £3.4m is a poor investment.”

Contents

  • 1 Background to the Resources sale
    • 1.1 BBC Costume and Wigs
  • 2 Related news
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links
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