Denny’s Super Bowl free ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’ brings 2 million diners

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Denny’s Super Bowl free ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’ brings 2 million diners

Friday, February 6, 2009

Denny’s 1,600 chain restaurants across North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, were slammed for eight hours Tuesday with hungry patrons standing on sidewalks for nearly two hours to take advantage of the $5.99 “Grand Slam Breakfast” giveaway.

Denny’s, a dining chain with annual revenue of about $900 million, has advertised in a TV commercial Sunday during the Super Bowl XLIII that it would give away its signature breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time Tuesday, at all its restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, while supplies lasted.

Denny’s Diner has promoted the iconic dish giveaway heavily, with a bold 30-second appeal ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl 43 on Sunday, plus another 15-second ad during the post-game show, offering a free breakfast to some 90 million viewers. In addition, it has placed a full-page ad in USA Today‘s Monday edition. The promotion was further announced on The Today Show and notices were also sent out to the chain’s “Denny’s Breakfast Club” members.

The NBC ad, which was bought to unveil a new promotion for customers squeezed by the recession, may have cost as much as $3 million, said Nelson Marchioli, CEO of Denny’s Corp. Super Bowl XLIII’s 30-second commercial time slot costs $2.4 million–$3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs.

The game was televised live by the US NBC Sunday Night Football and Canada’s CTV Television Network. BayTSP has reported that, “as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, commercials that initially aired during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII broadcast subsequently had been watched online more than 28 million times.”

“The promotion has a total cost of $5 million U.S., which includes $3 million for the commercial on NBC,” said a Denny’s spokesman, noting also that the company received about $50 million in news coverage, most of which was positive. According to a Denny’s representative, two million people walked through the restaurant chains’ doors Tuesday, and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour.

With the “Denny’s Feeds America” promotion, the company has reported 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning. Denny’s shares rose 6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.98 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range of $1.18 to $4.10 over the past 52 weeks.

“Denny’s free Grand Slam” has ranked in the top 10 Google searches early Tuesday and fell to No. 18 by the end of the promotion, while “denny s locations” was #9 on Google Trends, which tracks fast-rising searches. It has also held spots No. 1 (Denny’s) and 7 (Grand Slam) on Twitter‘s trending topics. It has generated much chat on Twitter, garnering 1,700 tweets on Tuesday, compared with its average of 59. Doritos, winner of the USA TODAY survey for best Super Bowl spot ad, had 933 mentions after reaching a peak of almost 3,300.

The idea of the TV ad was to get people to come in and re-evaluate Denny’s Diner. “A lot of people have forgotten what Denny’s is, or they think they know, while we’ve come out with a whole lot of new products. We felt like we needed to jump start the brand,” Denny’s Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark Chmiel said.

“We’re celebrating the Grand Slam this year,” Chmiel said. According to the company’s financial data, on January 15 Denny’s reported systemwide comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter were down 6.1 percent, compared to a 0.2 percent decline from the same period in 2007.

According to Robert Gonzalez, public relations company Hill & Knowlton spokesman, Denny’s has expected at least 2 million people to eat a free Grand Slam by the end of the promotion. “Every restaurant is packed with people and lines,” Gonzalez said. “Everything today is about fast. People are on the go, and they’re eating fast food. It’s cutting into sit-down dining,” he added.

“Each of the more than 1,500 Denny’s were planning to make about 100 Grand Slams an hour,” Denny’s spokeswoman Cori Rice said. It had predicted it will have served about 1,400 people per location, more than five times the normal volume. “Grand Slam Breakfast” is a four-item option on its menu, consisting of two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. It weighs in at 44 grams of fat, 56 carbohydrates and 770 calories.

Nationwide, Denny’s expected to sell about 2 million Grand Slams — about 15 percent of the annual tally. According to Mark Chmiel, chief marketing operator and executive vice president, the diner chain has reported approximately 2 million meals worth more than $12 million were given away nationwide and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour. It estimated it has earned about $50 million worth of public relations following the free Grand Slam campaign, Chmiel said.

The company is also experimenting with a Grand Slam Burrito and also has introduced for this year, a Grand Slamwich, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese between two slices of bread, with a teaspoon serving. “It already has shown strong consumer appeal,” said Chmiel. The company has received flood of e-mails and letters proving the positive impact of the Grand Slam campaign and commercials on its customers.

Chmiel also announced he’s planning a third major promotion in this year’s third quarter, which happens to include another major sporting event, the World Series. “That’s one we’re definitely looking at,” he said.

Jobless Paris Winslow of downtown San Francisco, California has joined the long line which stretched from the front door on Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, to the corner of Fourth and up the block. “The economy is getting kind of scary. This line looks like those pictures of soup kitchen lines during the 1929 Great Depression,” Winslow said.

“I came all the way from San Francisco for a free $6 meal, Isn’t that pathetic? A year ago, I never would have done this. These days I’m willing to put my ego on the back burner,” said Stephen Weller, a jobless contractor who waited with his dog, Emmett. California Denny’s restaurant managers have issued rain checks (for free chilled meals, as security backed by actual bacon) to anyone who failed to get in by the 2 p.m. deadline.

A big eater could also “Slam It Up” by adding any two additional items for 99 cents each to their meal. Customers on Tuesday were also handed “bounceback” coupon books that include offers for additional free menu items with purchases. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang has eaten five free Grand Slams on Tuesday at five different Denny’s Diners in four hours. He claims to have consumed 4,100 calories at Harwood Heights, 5:36 a.m, at Schiller Park, 6:22 a.m., at Franklin Park, 7:08 a.m., at Melrose Park, 7:41 a.m. and at Grand Slam No. 5 Oak Park, 8:57 a.m.

“The Grand Slam has always been a Denny’s favorite. This free offer is our way of reacquainting America with Denny’s real breakfast and with the Denny’s brand,” Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli said in a statement. In 1977s, the Grand Slam started as a baseball-related promotion in Atlanta, Georgia. Its normal price averages around $5.99. Marchioli said the event was also a way to kick-off its “Year of the Grand Slam” promotion. Denny’s claimed it has sold 12.5 million Grand Slams a year.

“The economy’s tough and people are jumping all the way to fast food to try to figure it out. We all use fast food, whether it’s for time or convenience or for money. But you can go to Denny’s and you don’t have to give up a real breakfast and that was the whole focus of our commercial,” Marchioli explained. McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has done well during this economic meltdown since the global recession pushes people toward less expensive dining options.

McDonald’s has announced plans Wednesday to open 175 new restaurants in China this year despite the global economic crisis, thereby increasing the number of outlets in China by 17 percent, from 1,050 currently. Last month, McDonald’s 2008 net profit has risen 80 percent from 2007 to 4.3 billion dollars.

Marchioli has also introduced Denny’s $4 Weekday Express Slam, which is a streamlined version of the Grand Slam. “I want to take back share. For too long, we have allowed others to take share, whether it was Starbucks or McDonald’s. They’re fine competitors and I don’t expect to take all their business from them, but I’d like a little bit back,” Marchioli noted.

According to Rafi Mohammed, author of “The Art of Pricing,” people love free. “It triggers a Pavlovian response in people,” said Mohammed. If Pavlov’s dogs salivate when a bell rings, Denny’s free Grand Slam breakfast has attracted 2 million hungry customers. “I believe free maximizes trial and doesn’t devalue a product as long as it is a rare event. Aside from the cost, the major downside is that it attracts customers who truly have no intention of coming back,” he added.

According to University of Portland consumer psychology professor Deana Julka, people flock to free promotions amid just a few dollars saving because there’s nothing in life for free. “So when there’s something out there that costs nothing, it creates a psychological rush. Especially in these times when people feel overtaxed or overburden, there’s an internal reward people feel by getting something for free,” she said. “It’s being thrifty and feeling like you beat the system. Free really hits the spot for a lot of people,” Julka added.

“Free is an emotional hot button. When free is concerned, there is no downside – or, at least, we don’t see the downside immediately. So we overvalue everything that is free. People love free stuff, particularly when money’s tight,” said Dan Ariely, a business professor at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

Experts, however, explained these moves need to be done sparingly, since giveaways can teeter in the balance between desperation and a well designed marketing ploy. “Giving your product away for free is not worth it because it undermines your brand value,” said branding expert Rob Frankel, saying people are attached to the idea of it being free, than the actual product itself.

Free giveaways are not anything new in the food industry. “It just feels good when you can get something for free and not have to worry about it coming out of your wallet,” Frankel noted. Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread all have had free coffee and food promos last year. “In November, Starbucks gave away free cup of coffee to anyone who came in on Election Day. Have you taken a look at how Starbucks is doing now?” Last week it has announced it would shut down 300 stores, in addition to the 600 it already planned to close.

On February 24, IHOP will be offering a free shortstack to every customer to encourage donations (in place of the cost) for Childrens Miracle Network. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is a United States-based restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods and is owned by DineEquity. The chain had more than 1950 restaurants in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Since 2006, IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration has raised over $1.85 million. In 2008, over 1.5 million pancakes (12 miles high if they were stacked) were given to customers for donations.

Denny’s (“Denny’s Diner”) is a full-service diner/family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand). The resto chain is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock.

Today, Denny’s operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny’s restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, seven Denny’s locations in New Zealand, and approximately 38 Denny’s diners in the United States. Denny’s headquarters is now located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation that acquired Denny’s in 1987.

Denny’s was historically notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993, though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.

In 2008, Denny’s has ceased to be in the ranks among the top diner chains in the $83 billion breakfast market, whose top five firms — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and IHOP — accounted for 22 percent of the volume. “A lot of consumers have written Denny’s off their let’s-go-there list,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a consulting firm.

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers (15–4) and the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals (12–8) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 NFL season. It was played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadiumin Tampa, Florida. It has an attendance of 70,774 and 98.7 million viewers. Pittsburgh earned its sixth Super Bowl win, thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins.

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Standard Operating Procedure changes at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay

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Standard Operating Procedure changes at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In an investigation reported on first by Wikinews, Wikileaks today revealed another chapter in the story of the Standard Operations Procedure (SOP) manual for the Camp Delta facility at Guantanamo Bay. The latest documents they have received are the details of the 2004 copy of the manual signed off by Major General Geoffrey D. Miller of the U.S. Southern Command. This is following on from the earlier leaking of the 2003 version. Wikileaks passed this document to people they consider experts in the field to carry out an analysis trying to validate it. Following this, they set out to assess what had changed between 2003 and 2004; including attempts to link publicly known incidents with changes to the manual.

Wikinews obtained the document and did an in-depth analysis. The American Civil Liberties Union had previously made a request to view and obtain copies of the same document, but was denied access to them.

One of the first notable changes to the document relates to the detainees themselves. Previously they read the camp rules during admission processing. Rules are now posted around the camp in detainees’ languages. The English version of the rules is as follows:

  1. Comply with all rules and regulations. You are subject to disciplinary action if you disobey any rule or commit any act, disorder, or neglect that is prejudicial to good order and discipline.
  2. You must immediately obey all orders of U.S. personnel. Deliberate disobedience, resistance, or conduct of a mutinous or riotous nature will be dealt with by force. Be respectful of others. Derogatory comments toward camp personnel will not be tolerated.
  3. You may not have any articles that can be used as a weapon in your possession at any time. If a weapon is found in your possession, you will be severely punished. Gambling is strictly forbidden.
  4. Being truthful and compliance will be rewarded. Failure to comply will result in loss of privileges.
  5. All trash will be returned immediately to U.S. personnel when you are finished eating. All eating utensils must be returned after meals.
  6. No detainee may conduct or participate in any form of military drill, organized physical fitness, hand-to-hand combat, or martial arts style training.
  7. The camp commander will ensure adequate protection for all personnel. Any detainee who mistreats another detainee will be punished. Any detainee that fears his life is in danger, or fears physical injury at the hands of another person can report this to U.S. personnel at any time.
  8. Medical emergencies should be brought to the guards’ attention immediately.

Your decision whether or not to be truthful and comply will directly affect your quality of life while in this camp.

Of concern to groups such as Amnesty International who campaign for the camp’s closure, or Human Rights Watch concerned about prisoner handling under the prisoner of war aspects of the Geneva Convention, is the fact that policy for newly admitted detainees still allows for up to 4 weeks where access to the detainee by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) may be denied. In addition, guards are not to allow ICRC staff to pass mail to detainees.

A new process has been formed which allows guards to determine whether or not a detainee receives awards, or is punished. The form is called a GTMO Form 508-1 (pictured to the right). According to the manual, the form “is used to determine which rewards the detainee will lose or gain,” but “special rewards” can also be earned, outside of the process. One special reward is time allowed outside. Another special reward is a roll of toilet paper, but the detainee cannot share it with others. Doing so will result in “punishment” and confiscation of the roll. If the detainee already has a roll of toilet paper, he is not allowed to have another.

“Guards need to ensure that the detainee doesn’t receive additional toilet paper when the detainee already has it. The amount given to the detainee will be the same amount as normally distributed to the detainee,” states the manual.

No matter how bad a detainee may act, “haircuts will never be used as punitive action” against them, but they can have hair removed for health reasons. They can, however, be segregated from other detainees.

“If a detainee has committed an offense that requires segregation time, even if a segregation cell is not available, the detainee will receive a shave and a haircut for hygiene and medical reasons. If the detainee is IRFed, the haircut and shave will follow the decontamination process,” adds the manual. Barbers are also part of cell searches.

Despite these changes, a great deal of effort has gone into ensuring the furore over detainee abuse does not recur. Rules governing the use of pepper spray (Oleoresin Capsicum, or OC) appear at an earlier point in the manual with considerable expansion. Infractions such as spitting, throwing water at, or attempting to urinate on guards appear as explicitly listed cases where pepper spray may not be used. Extensive decontamination procedures are included in the document, including immediately calling for a medical check on any detainee exposed to pepper spray. This was not previously present.

As a counter to the clearer instructions on use of pepper spray, Wikileaks asserts that many of the stricter rules for guards (referred to as Military Police or MPs in the 2003 manual) aim to reduce fraternisation that may improve detainee morale and adversely influence any interrogation process. Guards are informed in the manual not to take personal mail and parcels within the detention blocks or at any other duty stations. All electronic devices except issued materiel are prohibited, and guards may face disciplinary action should they keep detainees apprised of current affairs or discuss issues in their personal lives.

Additional restrictions on the detainees’ chaplain are included in the revised document. Wikileaks speculated that many of these changes might have stemmed from the widely publicised case of James Yee. Captain Yee, a West Point graduate, served at the Guantanamo Bay base as a Muslim chaplain to the detainees and received two Distinguished Service medals for his work. Following discovery of a list of detainees and interrogators by U.S. Customs in Florida Yee was charged with sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage, and failure to obey a general order. Eventually all charges were dropped with national security concerns being raised should evidence be released.

The most notable changes surrounding the role of the chaplain include its removal as a permanent position on the facility’s Library Working group and its exclusion from the decision process on appropriate detainee reading material. Wikileaks contacted lawyers representing detainees in the camp to perform their own analysis. Their opinion of the changes were that the library operation had been considerably tightened up. Duplicate books are required for the individual four camps to prevent covert use of books to communicate between camps. Periodicals, dictionaries, language instruction books, technology or medical update information, and geography were additions to the prohibited material. Instructions indicate such books must be returned to the source or donor.

The revised SOP manual makes considerable progress on documenting procedures, even those that are remote possibilities. A lengthy addition details rules to follow in the event of an escape or escape attempt. Laced throughout this procedure is an emphasis on having any such incident fully documented and – wherever possible – filmed. The procedure is explicit in how to recapture an escaped detainee with minimal use of force. One additional procedure covers the admission of ambulances to the main base area. A detailed security protocol to ensure only expected and authorised traffic gains access is included, as is a procedure streamlined to ensure the ambulance arrives on the scene as quickly as possible.

Unchanged from the 2003 manual is the set menu of four ready-to-eat meals (Meal, Ready-to-Eat or MRE) issued to detainees. However, additional steps are to be taken for “MRE Sanitization”; supply personnel must remove anything that can damage waste disposal systems— presumably a military term for toilets. Under normal camp conditions, detainees should be fed hot meals as opposed to MREs, but no details on the variety of menu are included.

Wikinews attempted to get feedback on this. US Southern Command passed a query on to Rick Haupt (Commander, U.S. Navy Director of Public Affairs, Joint Task Force at Guantanamo) who responded that “questions were forwarded along with a request to authenticate the leaked document; a response is pending.” At this time no response to emails has been received from the ICRC or Human Rights Watch.

The Pentagon has requested that the document be removed from Wikileaks because “information with the FOUO (For Official Use Only) label is not approved for release to the public.” They then state that the document can be “made available through a Freedom Of Information Act request through official channels.”

 This story has updates See US military confirms authenticity of Standard Operating Procedures for Guantanamo Bay 
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Earthquake hits Turkey, hundreds reported dead

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Earthquake hits Turkey, hundreds reported dead

Monday, October 24, 2011

At least 264 people were killed, said Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin, in a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey yesterday. The quake was the strongest to hit Turkey in ten years. The city of Van has been heavily affected. The death toll was expected to rise.

A number of aftershocks has rattled Turkey since then, with the strongest one having a magnitude of 6.0. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reported 55 buildings destroyed in Ercis, north of Lake Van. He said “because the buildings” in affected villages not yet reached “are made of adobe, they are more vulnerable to quakes. I must say that almost all buildings in such villages are destroyed.”

Rescue efforts are being affected due to power outages due to power line damage from the quake.

Over 1,300 people were reported injured.

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Berlin court: neutrality law above German religious freedom, bans teacher headscarves in primary school

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Berlin court: neutrality law above German religious freedom, bans teacher headscarves in primary school
Published by
Apr 01

Saturday, May 12, 2018

On Wednesday, a state labour court in the German capital Berlin pronounced the neutrality law of the city-state, which disallows public employees from wearing religious clothing and symbols, was in accordance with the German constitution. Justice Arne Boyer, said the neutrality law was above the freedom of religion. The ruling comes after a female Muslim teacher, who taught in a primary school for a day, complained the neutrality laws prohibited her from wearing a headscarf and violated her freedom to practice any religion.

Public servants across the country are barred from covering their face at work, with some exceptions such as firefighters for whom it is a question of safety. However, the ban does not include the hijab, a headscarf mostly worn by Muslim women. Court spokesperson Martin Dressler said, “Primary school children should be free of the influence that can be exerted by religious symbols”.

This ruling came just two weeks after the recently-elected Bavarian Minister President Markus Söder of the Christian Social Union gave orders to hang the Christian cross on every state building, in school classrooms, and the courts, saying it was a “clear avowal of our Bavarian identity and Christian values”.

Last year, the Berlin labour court decided that a school discriminated on the basis of religion when it denied a job to another Muslim teacher. The school failed to show how the teacher’s headscarf was “a threat to peace at school”. The teacher received EUR 8680 (about USD 10,300) as compensation.

Regulations on headscarves are varied amongst the different states of Germany. Teachers in Bremen are not prohibited from wearing a face scarf. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the allowance is on a case-by-case basis. One primary school headteacher in Hesse wrote to parents stating headwear was not allowed in the classroom.

Per the ruling of this case, the teacher can wear a headscarf while teaching secondary school students. She can still appeal against the court’s decision.

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Wikinews interviews William Pomerantz, Senior Director of Space Prizes at the X PRIZE Foundation

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Wikinews interviews William Pomerantz, Senior Director of Space Prizes at the X PRIZE Foundation
Published by
Mar 30
Regardless of who wins the prize, people all around the world will be able to experience the mission through high-def video-streams.
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Andreas Hornig, Wikinews contributor and team member of Synergy Moon, competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize, managed to interview Senior Director of Space Prizes William Pomerantz of the X PRIZE Foundation about the competitions, goals, and impacts via e-mail for HDTVTotal.com and Wikinews.

By Wikinews,

the free news source

Other stories: Science and technology
  • 5 March 2019: SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule docks with International Space Station
  • 23 February 2019: Zebra stripes may ‘dazzle’ pathogen-packing horse flies, say scientists
  • 11 February 2019: Pioneering oceanographer Walter Munk dies of pneumonia in California
  • 27 January 2019: Male Magellanic penguins pine for pairings: Wikinews interviews biologist Natasha Gownaris
  • 26 January 2019: US study finds correlation between youth suicide, household gun ownership

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Previous coverage
  • “Japanese probe snatches first asteroid sample” — Wikinews, November 26, 2005
  • “$20 million prize offered in lunar rover contest” — Wikinews, September 13, 2007

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


This article is part of a page redesign trial on Wikinews. Please leave comments or bug reports on this redesign.This interview originally appeared on HDTVTotal.com, released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Credit for this interview goes to HDTVTotal.com and Andreas -horn- Hornig.
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US presidential candidates gearing up for Super Tuesday

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US presidential candidates gearing up for Super Tuesday
Published by
Mar 30

Saturday, February 2, 2008

With less than 72 hours to go until the Super Tuesday primary election event, Republican and Democratic candidates are campaigning all across the United States this weekend in hopes of gaining votes.

Democratic Senator Hilary Clinton is spending Saturday in the state of California, while rival Senator Barack Obama is making stops in Idaho, Minnesota, and Missouri today. However, the Clinton Campaign is also present in Arkansas today where former President, Bill Clinton, is talking about educational reforms.

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee is in the South trying to win support of fellow Evangelicals for his campaign.

Senator John McCain is in Nashville today before he heads to opponent Mitt Romney‘s home state of Massachusetts tomorrow.

Also on the election front, on Friday Senators McCain and Obama won the endorsements of the Los Angeles Times, one of the most read newspapers in the US. Obama also received the endorsements of the liberal political action committee at MoveOn.org and California’s Service Employees International Union, which represents 650,000 people.

Most of the candidates are raising funds for TV advertising this weekend, including Senator McCain whose ads will air in 20 states this weekend. The Campaign Media Analysis Group estimates that spending on political ads alone could reach an unprecedented $20 million.

Alan Keyes, one of the Republican candidates who has not received media attention over the past few months, shifted his campaign efforts to Texas, where he is this weekend. His campaign is notable because it is made up of largely grassroots efforts.

Super Tuesday is in fact the biggest day of the primary elections for both Republican and Democratic candidates, with elections in 24 states.

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News briefs:August 14, 2006

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News briefs:August 14, 2006
Published by
Mar 30

The time is 19:00 (UTC) on August 14th, 2006, and this is Audio Wikinews News Briefs.

Contents

  • 1 Headlines
    • 1.1 UN sponsored ceasefire in Israel-Lebanon begins
    • 1.2 Tamil Tigers say Sri Lanka’s government bombed orphanage
    • 1.3 Colombo land mine explosion kills seven
    • 1.4 Suspected low pathogenic H5N1 Bird Flu virus found in the United States
    • 1.5 Ariel Sharon’s condition worsens
    • 1.6 Fresh pictures of Castro and Chavez shown in Cuban media
    • 1.7 AIDS conference opens without PM
    • 1.8 Edinburgh Extends Parking Zone
    • 1.9 Wellington, New Zealand university student missing
    • 1.10 Court date “as needed” for lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal
  • 2 Closing statements

[edit]

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Time Warner/Comcast bid to snap up Adelphia cable service

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Time Warner/Comcast bid to snap up Adelphia cable service
Published by
Mar 30

April 9, 2005

A bid topping $17.7 billion was jointly proffered by Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corporation on Thursday to buy beleaguered Adelphia Communications Corporation in an industry consolidation move. Adelphia is the fifth largest cable service provider in the United States with nearly 5 million subscribers.

The market-share grabbing bid trumps the previous Cablevision offer of $16.5 billion. The bid is under scrutiny by the presiding judge over the Adelphia’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, and must also be approved by the company’s creditors owed in the range of $20 million.

The acquisition race to gain dominance in the cable service provider market is driven by the high cost of installation and maintenance of cable lines. Fiber optic networks deliver traditional entertainment programming over a cable wire and is becoming increasingly popular for broadband internet content. The growing trust and recognition of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) suggests phone service subscribers will eventually migrate to cable voice communication as opposed to keeping with traditional copper land lines. Telephone company operators are scrambling to keep up.

The largest percentage of the bid would be put up by Time Warner (TW), who could gain by getting subscribers from the valuable Los Angeles market currently owned by Comcast and Adelphia. TW can also simultaneously divest itself of a stake owned by Comcast in TW by making a tax-free swap using some of the newly garnered Adelphia subscribers.

While the consolidation would likely get a look by the government with an eye towards a growing monopoly in the market, it would doubtfully be blocked considering the existence of competing technologies. Competition exists in the form of still numerous television by airwaves usage, satellite providers, radio content companies, and telecom providers.

Adelphia suffered a corporate scandal in 1992 with similarities to the WorldCom fall. Members of the Rigas family, founders of the company, were alleged to have siphoned off millions of dollars and hidden $2.3 billion leading to the bankruptcy filing. John Rigas and son Timothy were convicted July of 2004 and await sentencing.

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Ford Motor Company cutting 30,000 jobs by 2012

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Ford Motor Company cutting 30,000 jobs by 2012
Published by
Mar 30

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Ford Motor Company, the second-largest car manufacturer in America, will cut 30,000 jobs and 14 plants as part of a restructuring plan to relieve Ford after a US$1.6 billion loss last year in North American sales.

The plan, called “Way Forward”, the brainchild of Ford’s Chief Executive Officer, William Clay Ford Jr., is to end Ford’s North American losses by 2008. To accomplish this 30,000 jobs which make up 20 to 25 percent of Ford’s North American workforce of 122,000 people will be cut and 14 plants will be closed in order to bring Ford’s production capacity in line with demand.

By the end of this year, the Atlanta and St. Louis plants will be closed. Atlanta makes the Ford Taurus sedan, which is being phased out. The St. Louis plant is one of two plants that manufactures the Ford Explorer, whose sales had a 29% decline in 2005. It will also close its Wixom, Michigan plant, Batavia Transmission in Ohio the Windsor Casting plant in Ontario which was previously announced by Ford that it was to be closed after contract negotiations with the Canadian Auto Workers union.

The plant in St. Thomas, Ontario plant will have one shift cut from it. The plant makes the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis cars. On this cut of the one shift, Whitey MacDonald, chairperson of Local 1520, Canadian Auto Workers union said “There is a lot of anger here today, there is no doubt about it. Any time a plant goes to one shift, it puts them in limbo. This car has made the company millions of dollars over the years they have invested in other products and locations – we are entitled to some new investment given our track record.”

Positive news for the plant is that Ford is still committed to invest $200 million into the plant to upgrade the appearance of the two cars manufactured there. On the contrary, according to Automotive analyst Dennis DesRosier believes that the factory is still “likely” to close. DesRoiser said, “The St. Thomas plant is old, the product is old, it make sense it is on that list. This may be just a short-term reprieve, it may be look at permanent closure in two to three years.”

Two more plants will close in 2008, another two in 2012. Two more plants to be closed are to be announced later this year. Also, Ford will fire 12% of its 53 executive officers.

Due to the company’s current contract with the United Auto Workers union, workers at the idled plants will still be receiving their pay and benefits until Ford negotiates a new contract with the union. However, the workers may not earn what they earn today because they will not be eligible for overtime.

The UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and Vice President Gerald Bantom called say the plan is “extremely disappointing.” The UAW issued statement saying “The impacted hourly and salaried workers find themselves facing uncertain futures because of senior management’s failure to halt Ford’s sliding market share. The announcement has further left a cloud hanging over the entire work force because of pending future announcements of additional facilities to be closed at some point in the future.”

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IMF and EU approve aid for Georgia

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IMF and EU approve aid for Georgia
Published by
Mar 30

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The International Monetary Fund and the European Union approved aid packages to help Georgia recover from its conflict with Russia, which occurred in early August. The IMF approved a US$750 million loan which will allow Georgia to rebuild its currency reserves. The European Union also approved an aid package of 500 million in aid by 2010, which is expected to help internally displaced people (IDPs) and economic recovery in the form of new infrastructure. Only €100 million of the EU aid will be given to Georgia this year.

These loans are aimed to restore confidence in Georgia’s economy and send a signal to international investors that Georgia’s economy is sound. According to the IMF, international investors have been “critical to Georgia’s economic growth in recent years.”

Takatoshi Kato, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chairman of the IMF executive committee, said the loan will “make significant resources available to replenish international reserves and bolster investor confidence, with the aim of sustaining private capital inflows that have been critical to Georgia’s economic growth in recent years.”

Georgia has requested $2 billion in international aid to help it recover from the conflict. So far, the United States has pledged $1 billion in aid. Further assistance and loans to Georgia are expected from other organizations. Kato noted that “…Georgia is expected to receive financial assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors and creditors in support of the reconstruction effort.” It is expected that an international donors’ conference will take place next month to solicit more aid for the country.

Georgia’s government expects that economic growth will be more than cut in half as a result of the conflict. Last year, Georgia’s GDP increased 12.4% and it is predicted by the IMF that growth will be less than 4 percent in the coming year.

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