Ontario ombudsman hands over lottery investigation to police

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

At a news conference in Toronto, Canada on March 26, 2007, Ontario Ombudsman André Marin called on the provincial government to transfer regulation of its lottery system from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. This request follows an investigation the ombudsman’s office undertook, 3 months ago, into the allegations of theft and fraud carried out by ticket retailers.

The results of the investigation into the allegations were detailed in Marin’s report, entitled A Game of Trust, released earlier in the day. The OLG has been ordered to transfer relevant files over to the Ontario Provincial Police, to determine whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

“The OLG is fixated on profit rather than on public service,” Marin suggested in his opening statement. “It is too close to its retailers, who are not just its frontline sales force but some of its best customers,” he continued. “It has lost sight of the fact that it is supposed to be a guardian of the public trust.”

The investigation was launched by Marin at his own intitiative, rather than inresponse to an individual complaint. Ombudsman investigators looked into the case of Bob Edmonds, a 78-year-old man who was cheated out of a CA$250,000 winning ticket by an unscrupulous retailer, as highlighted in a CBC television exposé. Over the course of the investigation, the Ombudsman’s Office received more than 400 other complaints related to OLG.

Insiders have been winning big lottery prizes for years.

Marin indicated that, since 1999, “at least 247 retail owners or their employees have won major lottery prizes”, some of which he acknowledged were legitimate. He also reported that the OLG paid out “millions of dollars in prizes to retailers making dishonest claims…in amounts anywhere from $250,000 to $12.5 million.”

Marin found a systemic pattern of wrongdoing by some retailers, who he deemed to be the OLG’s “partners in profit”, with the OLG overlooking the abuse. Marin suggested that rather than get tough, “the OLG actually considered relaxing the rules on insiders.”

In his report, Marin proposed 23 recommendations including a zero-tolerance policy for retailer dishonesty, an adjudicative process to deal with disputed prize claims, a retailer code of conduct and the use of “secret shoppers” to test the retailers adherence to it.

“We accept the findings of these reports and the organization is moving quickly to implement the recommendations,” said OLG Board Chair Michael Gough in a news release. “OLG has learned a great deal from the Ombudsman’s report. It is fair, comprehensive and thoughtful,” continued Gough.

The total revenue from lotteries to the provincial government in Ontario for fiscal 2005-2006 was CA$6.36 billion. News of the resignation of OLG’s CEO Duncan Brown, was reported just days before the ombudsman’s report was tabled.

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Afghanistan women protest Shia Family Law

Sunday, April 19, 2009

In Kabul between 100 to 200 women protested the Shia Family Law and were met by a mob of 800 counterdemonstrators who were mainly men and Shia clergy. Many women were prevented from attending the protest by male family members and were denied entry to board buses by public transportation employees. The Shia Family Law was passed for the 3 to 6 million Shia Muslims who reside in Afghanistan. Under the law, women must not refuse the husband’s sexual demands, women must comply to intercourse every four days unless sick, women may not gain employment or receive education without their husband’s permission, wives leaving home must do so with male escort or with permission and they must dress up and wear cosmetics according to the husband’s desires. Refusal to do any of these would be illegal for the woman and can be enforced — the husband may stop feeding her.

“If a woman says no, the man has the right not to feed her,” said Ayatollah Mohammed Asif Mohseni, Shia cleric.

The protest began outside Mohseni’s Khatam Al Nabi mosque and School of the Last Protest, and continued 2 miles (3.2 km) onward to parliament where they delivered a petition to repeal the law. Mohseni, a leading Shiite cleric in Afghanistan, was instrumental in implementing the new law.

“This law is against Islam and it’s against women. It’s against the people of Afghanistan.” said Sima Ghani, an organiser for the women’s protest, “Women have God-given rights. But these men are claiming those rights in the name of culture. It is against everything God has ever given us.”

Women attending Khatam-ul-Nabieen Shia University marched in a separate protest in favour of the Law. The University, which is attached to the Shia mosque, also receives funding from Mohseni.

Counterdemonstrators chanted “Slaves of the Christians”, “Down with the Christians. Down with the apostates”, “Death to the enemies of Islam!”, “We want Islamic law!”, “death to America”, and “Death to the slaves of the Christians!”, and picked up stones and threw them at the women protestors. One man yelled out to the female protestors, “You are a dog! You are not a Shiite woman!” Men shouted “Get out of here, you whores! Get out!” as female protestors were disembarking from a bus.

The Marefat School had windows broken and doors torn down. Teachers were attacked and stoned by counter protestors who believed Aziz Royesh, the headmaster, had assisted the women’s protest.

The United Nations has reported that women have received death threats if they defy the new law. Sitara Achakzai, a Woman’s rights activist and member of Kandahar’s provincial council, was murdered at her home on Sunday, April 12 by Taliban gunmen.

Another woman protestor, Masuma Hasani, said “I am concerned about my future with this law. We want our rights. We don’t want women to just be used.”

“Go home if your mothers and fathers are Muslims. These people will beat you if you stay,” yelled out a Shia cleric.

Women carried banners reading “We want dignity in the law” and “Islam is justice”. Women who participated in the hazardous and rare protest defied customs; some wore jeans, others uncovered their faces.

“We think those who oppose this law in fact oppose the Koran. This law does not approve rape, it is rather about loyalty of wife to husband and husband to wife. Rape is what you can see in the West, where men don’t feel responsibility for their wives and leave them to go with several men.” said Nesa Naseri, counterprotestor and a female student of Sharia Studies.

“Whenever a man wants sex, we cannot refuse. It means a woman is a kind of property, to be used by the man in any way that he wants,” said Fatima Husseini, 26, a female protestor.

The law has had separate interpretations because at one point during the rally both sides chanted “We want honour and dignity for women”, and “Allah Akbar,” or God is great.

Politically it has been said that Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the legislation as an appeasement to the Shiite religious clerics in the face of the presidential re-elections in August.

The Taliban who ruled Afghanistan for five years ending in 2001 imposed similar laws, when the burqa was imposed for women’s wear and women were required to obtain permission from a male relative to exit the house.

Whereas the Afghan Constitution legally upholds sexual equality, and Afghanistan at one time signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it also upholds its constitutional prerogative to place Islamic beliefs ahead of all other practices.

Karzai has asked the Justice Department to review the law, and the legal enforcement of the law shall be placed on hold. Homayun Hamidzada, a spokesman for Karzai, says the law is not legally binding until it is published in the government register which means it can be modified.

Hamidzada said, “We have no doubt that whatever comes out of this process will be consistent with the rights provided for in the Constitution — equality and the protection of women.”

“We Afghans don’t want a bunch of NATO commanders and foreign ministers telling us what to do,” said Mohammed Hussein Jafaari, a cleric.

Mariam Sajadi said “We don’t want foreigners interfering in our lives. They are the enemy of Afghanistan.”

“We must trust Allah, instead of listening to the Western countries and the European countries who come here to meddle and interfere.” said Sayed Sajat of the counter protest.

“Afghan women have raised their voices and they proved this isn’t what the international community is imposing on Afghanistan, these are the demands of Afghan women,” said Sabrina Saqeb a protest organiser and MP.

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Wikinews interviews New York bar owner on Santorum cocktail

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wikinews interviewed one of the owners of a New York City bar about a popular new politically-themed cocktail drink called Santorum. The beverage was inspired by the santorum neologism coined in advice columnist Dan Savage’s column Savage Love in response to comments made by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum about homosexuality; Savage’s readers voted to define santorum as: “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”

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UK bank gets emergency support

Friday, September 14, 2007

British bank Northern Rock received emergency loans from the Bank of England yesterday, as it felt the effects of the financial crisis originating in the U.S. subprime mortgage market. Queues formed outside branches as many customers sought to withdraw their savings, and shares fell heavily.

Northern Rock, based in Newcastle, is one of the UK’s largest mortgage lenders, with total assets and loans of £113 billion. Pressure has grown on the bank as other institutions have become less willing to buy mortgage debt, following the American subprime crisis.

The support from the central bank was authorised by the Government and the Financial Services Authority, following assurances that the problems were temporary and the bank remained solvent. Some current mortgages are being used as collateral. The lending is an “unlimited” facility, at an interest rate higher than the base rate. Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, encouraged customers to carry on as normal, stating that “Northern Rock will be able to carry on its business”.

Northern Rock chief executive Adam Applegarth also called for calm, but customers were seen queuing outside branches across the country to withdraw money. It is reported that the company website also crashed under the demand.

Shares in the bank fell 31.5% on Friday, down almost 60% from their highest value this year. Applegarth admitted that profits would be hit, but stated that the bank would adapt to the changes. Shares in other lenders also fell, with Paragon being the most extreme, dropping almost 17%. The FTSE 100 closed down 1.17% (74 points) following a recovery in the afternoon.

The last time the Bank of England acted as “lender of last resort” in this way was in 1973, after the collapse of Cedar Holdings.

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Philippine President calls for resignation of cabinet due to deflation of peso

Friday, July 8, 2005

Amid news of a drop of the Philippine peso for a sixth straight week, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday asked all members of the cabinet to resign, preparing the road for change in the administration.

In the past month the peso has fallen 3.1 percent due in part to accusations that Arroyo cheated in last year’s elections, as well as accusations that her family members have been taking kickbacks from illegal gambling operations.

The central bank may move to buy the peso in an attempt to stem the decline and raise lenders’ reserve requirements so they have less money to bet against the currency.

While Arroyo was asking for the resignations, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and other officials, including Tax Commissioner Guillermo Parayno, Customs Commissioner Bert Lina, Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin and Trade Secretary Juan Santos, called for Arroyo’s resignation. The text of their statement is available here.

However, Arroyo refused, and while addressing the nation via radio she said “I am not resigning my office. To do so under circumstances that connote an Edsa 3 (the third people’s revolution) would condemn any successor to the possibility of an Edsa 4, then an Edsa 5, and so on and so on, unless our political system were first reformed to make it more responsive to the people’s will, such that changes in leadership come about in an orderly and stable manner…”

Arroyo said that the time had come to face the fact that the political system had degenerated so much that partisan agenda is coming before national interest.

She pointed to the huge emigration from the country as an indication of the large problems within, while endless scandals and conflict seem to plague the southeast Asian nation.

The President ended her address by promising to bring a resolution to all that has plagued the country.

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Author Amy Scobee recounts abuse as Scientology executive

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wikinews interviewed author Amy Scobee about her book Scientology – Abuse at the Top, and asked her about her experiences working as an executive within the organization. Scobee joined the organization at age 14, and worked at Scientology’s international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005. She served as a Scientology executive in multiple high-ranking positions, working out of the international headquarters of Scientology known as “Gold Base”, located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California.

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Stowaway killed by aircraft landing gear; leg lands in homeowner’s backyard

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

An airline stowaway, possibly of Senegalese origin was found dead this morning by U.S. customs and NY Port Authority personnel, his body badly mangled by the landing gear of a South African Airways aircraft.

A Nassau County woman returned home from work to find part of the man’s leg lying on her lawn.

The identity and nationality of the man are not yet known. The flight on which he stowed away originated in Johannesburg, South Africa and made one stopover in Dakar, Senegal.

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Canada’s Don Valley West (Ward 25) city council candidates speak

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Don Valley West (Ward 25). Three candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include John Blair, Robertson Boyle, Tony Dickins, Cliff Jenkins (incumbent), and Peter Kapsalis.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

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Chef who appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ commits suicide

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Joseph Cerniglia, a chef who had appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s television show Kitchen Nightmares, has commited suicide. Cerniglia was the owner of Italian restaurant Campania. He jumped off a bridge into the Hudson river on the New York–New Jersey border. At the time of filming in 2007, Cerniglia owed suppliers $80,000.

Officials reported that 39-year-old Cerniglia had jumped off of the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson. His death has officially been ruled as suicide. His body was retrieved from the river after reports of a man jumping off of the bridge.

Ramsay released a statement to the Press Association saying “I was fortunate to spend time with Joe during the first season of Kitchen Nightmares. Joe was a brilliant chef, and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and staff.”

Cerniglia told Ramsay about his personal debt when he came to the restaurant in 2007. He said “I am financially in trouble. The debt of the restaurant alone is overwhelming. My personal debt — wife, kids, mortgage — that’s a lot of debt”.

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Officials: Eight insurgents killed in Orakzai, Pakistan

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In a gun battle that took place between Pakistani soldiers and insurgents on Sunday, eight insurgents were killed and ten others were injured. The incident occurred when about 40 rebels attacked a checkpoint near the Goain village in the Orakzai district of the North-West Frontier Province of the country.

Jahanzeb Khan, a local administrative official, said the attack at the Goain checkpoint was resisted by the army. Two security officials confirmed that heavy artillery had been used for the battle, in which eight rebels died. Sajjad Ahmed, another local official, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that two underground hideouts of the rebels had also been captured by the army.

A senior military official confirmed that the death toll was eight. “Security forces killed at least eight militants during a search operation,” the official said. “Up to 40 militants attacked our security forces,” he said. Bodies of six of the dead insurgents have been discovered.

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