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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Gas power plants given go-ahead

Category : Business, World News

The chancellor approves the building of more than 30 new gas-fired power stations to replace the UK’s ageing coal, nuclear and gas stations.

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Push for gas-fired power stations

Category : Business, World News

The government will shortly announce both its strategy to keep gas-fired power stations beyond 2030 and its policy on drilling for shale gas in the UK.

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Kipper Williams on Apple

Category : Business

Maps exec fired: ‘He’s having trouble finding the way out’

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Palestinians fire 2 Grads, 2 Kassams into southern Israel – Jerusalem Post

Category : Stocks
Palestinians fire 2 Grads, 2 Kassams into southern Israel
Jerusalem Post
Two Grad rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel exploded in an open area near Beersheba early Sunday morning. No injuries or damage were reported. Schools will nonetheless be closed in the city on Sunday. Overnight Saturday, two Kassams also
Hamas has the upper hand in GazaHaaretz
Rockets fired at western Negev; IAF strikes GazaYnetnews
Israeli airstrike kills one in Gaza
Washington Post (blog)

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After the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima power plant turned public opinion sharply against nuclear power, owners of the plant are hoping to take advantage of an easing of the environmental approval process to build a coal plant. It’s been nearly…

Category : Stocks

After the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima power plant turned public opinion sharply against nuclear power, owners of the plant are hoping to take advantage of an easing of the environmental approval process to build a coal plant. It’s been nearly three years since the island nation approved a coal-fired power plant, and Tokyo officials are hoping to draft guidelines by the end of the year for implementation in 2013 that would speed up the approval process for coal, as well as wind and geothermal projects. 2 comments!

See original here: After the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima power plant turned public opinion sharply against nuclear power, owners of the plant are hoping to take advantage of an easing of the environmental approval process to build a coal plant. It’s been nearly…

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World’s biggest offshore windfarm planned off Scottish coast

Category : Business

Scheme with enough capacity to power 40% of Scottish households has been submitted for planning permission

The world’s biggest offshore windfarm could be built off the northern Scottish coast, after a scheme with enough capacity to power 40% of Scottish households was submitted for planning permission.

The £4.5bn complex would have 339 turbines covering 300 square kilometres off Caithness, making it 50% bigger than the giant London Array scheme off Kent. It is expected to be the first in a series of deep water schemes under “Round 3″ licensing.

The renewable industry has hailed it as a watershed moment but warned these new deep water farms might only be fully realised if the government provides policy stability by pushing through its proposed Energy Bill.

The 1.5-gigawatt farm is being developed by Moray Offshore Renewables, a joint venture between Spanish oil company Repsol, and an arm of Portuguese power group EDP, which has recently become partly owned by China’s state-owned Three Gorges Corporation.

It has already attracted controversy because it is opposed by American billionaire Donald Trump, who says the 200-metre-high turbines will spoil the view from his planned new golf course.

Dan Finch, project director for the scheme due to come on stream in 2018, said working more than 12 miles from shore allowed it to take advantage of the excellent wind resource in the outer Moray Firth.

“We estimate that the project will be capable of supplying the electricity needs of 800,000 to 1m households … Each year this development could save between 3.5m and 4.5m tonnes of carbon dioxide compared with coal fired generation, and between 1.5m and 2m tonnes of carbon dioxide compared with gas fired generation,” he said.

The industry body, RenewableUK, said a further 4.5 gigawatts of offshore wind schemes should follow into the planning process this year with a total of 18 gigawatts expected to become operational over the next eight years.

But Maria McCaffery, RenewableUK’s chief executive, emphasised that this progress could only be achieved if the policy certainty laid out in the upcoming Energy Bill was achieved.

“We’re marking a watershed moment as Round Three starts to become a reality with this planning application. It’s the first of many coming forward. As well as delivering secure supplies of low carbon electricity to British homes and businesses, our global leadership role in offshore wind can provide tens of thousands of jobs across the country, building and maintaining these turbines.”

The Moray Firth wind farm, which will be given significant subsidies, compares with the 1-gigawatt at the London Array, which is currently in the construction phase, and compares with the largest British coal-fired plant, Drax in northern Yorkshire of 4 gigawatts, and the planned new EDF nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset with a combined output of 3.2 gigawatts and a bill of at least £10bn.

China Three Gorges Corporation acquired a 21% holding from the cash-strapped Portuguese government in Energias de Portugal, EDP, for €2.69bn (£2.13bn). The Beijing-based energy company was responsible for construction of the also controversial Three Gorges Dam-project, the world largest hydroelectric power plant, that went into operation in 2008.

Slain Texas constable is remembered –

Category : Stocks

Kansas City Star
Slain Texas constable is remembered
BY JUAN A. LOZANO | Published: August 19, 2012 Leave a comment Those were some of the words that family and friends used during a funeral service Saturday to remember a law enforcement officer who was among three people killed in a shoot-out near Texas
Thousands attend service for Brazos County constable killed in shootoutFort Worth Star Telegram
Slain Texas constable remembered as humble,
Gunman in Texas shootout fired more than 65 roundsMaui Weekly
Texas A&M The Battalion
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Lonmin Workers Killed as Police Disperse Strikers – Businessweek

Category : Stocks
Lonmin Workers Killed as Police Disperse Strikers
By Matthew Hill on August 16, 2012 Several protesters were killed and others injured as police said they fired on striking miners near Lonmin Plc (LMI)'s Marikana platinum mine in South Africa yesterday as violence at the mine escalated.
Police gun down striking South African minersABC Online
South African Police Shoot, Kill Striking…ABC News
Striking miners fired on in South AfricaCNN (blog)
Detroit Free Press

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Prisoners paid £3 a day to work at call centre that has fired other staff

Category : Business

Becoming Green, which took on prisoners for ‘work experience’, says dismissals ‘part of normal call centre environment’

A business in Wales is bussing in inmates from an open prison 21 miles away and paying them just £3 a day to man its call centre, the Guardian can reveal.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that dozens of prisoners from Prescoed prison in Monmouthshire, south Wales, had done “work experience” for at least two months at a rate of 40p an hour in the private company’s telephone sales division in Cardiff.

People working in the prisons sector described the scheme as “disgusting” and a “worrying development”.

After establishing an arrangement with minimum security HMP Prescoed late last year, roofing and environmental refitting company Becoming Green has taken on a staff of 23 prisoners. Currently 12 are being paid just 6% of the minimum wage. When contacted by the Guardian last month, that figure was 17 – 15% of the company’s call centre staff.

The company confirmed that since it started using prisoners, it had fired other workers. Former employees put the number at 17 since December. However, the firm said firings were part of the “normal call centre environment” and it had hired other staff in a recent expansion.

Becoming Green said the category D prison had allowed the company to pay the prisoners just £3 a day for at least 40 working days but added that they could keep them at that pay level for much longer if they wanted.

A company spokesman was unable to give the longest time a prisoner had been employed on token wages. The spokesman added that under the arrangement, they were only allowed to take a maximum of 20% of their total call centre workforce from the prison.

The MoJ confirmed that there was no centralised limit on the length of training placements, which was down to prison governors to decide. The ministry said it had sought assurances from Becoming Green that prisoners were put into “genuinely vacant” posts.

At the start of the year, the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, announced an expansion of mainly manufacturing work inside prisons. But against a background of disquiet from unions, he has continued to stress that prisoners would not be putting other people out of work. Clarke said last month that such a development would be a “a very serious downside” to the policy.

In a response to questions from the Guardian, the MoJ said: “HMP Prescoed works closely with the company, the probation service, local authorities and community groups to ensure that any impact on the local workforce is minimised.”

A young former Becoming Green employee said that last November staff were told that prisoners, whose convictions are understood to range from murder to fraud and drugs offences, were going to start working at the company.

“We got a message one day saying that … [the company] was going to start hiring prisoners.

“So I thought, ‘Oh right, people who have been released.’ And [my friend] said, ‘No, no, no, people who are out on day release.’ I thought, ‘Can they do that?’”

She said that just before Christmas, around 10 members of the call centre team were fired, and then a further seven were sacked until she left a number of months ago after feeling harassed to quit.

“As they started bringing more and more in they started firing people … They would have kept their jobs if it wasn’t for the prison thing.

“They’d passed their probation period, they’d been there for several months. They’d maintained the level they were – that had been perfectly acceptable at that point. Then they [got] these people in for nearly free.”

She described the prisoners as “quite nice people” and said that some were very good workers, but added that the wage difference caused resentment.

“Everyone was pretty miffed because at the end of the day there’s no way you can compete with [£3 a day].”

A second female employee who has been on the dole for almost two months said she was also pushed out of Becoming Green despite meeting all of her performance targets.

She also declined to be named, worrying about the consequences for job hunting. “I’m currently on jobseeker’s allowance because I can’t find another job because of all of this happening,” she said.

A former manager at Becoming Green claimed the company had been creating “reasons to … justify dismissing people from the company so they could get more prison staff in”.

“The whole idea of what the company is doing is bringing in free labour for the business and relieving their employed staff of their responsibilities, because obviously it is more cost-effective for the business to have criminals working for them than paying a salary to each person.

“I left because I didn’t like the way the company was being run,” the former manager said. “If people are rubbish in their jobs then get rid of them, I understand that.

“But if people are coming in every day, and are generating a lot of revenue … and the next thing you know is their jobs are on the line, there’s no reason why these people should have been fired. I don’t think it is right, just to save a few a quid. These people have bills to pay.”

The company has itself confirmed that staff had been fired since prisoners were taken on in November but countered that this was part of the normal attrition rate in a demanding businesses where “targets had to be met”.

Nicola Vaughan, senior manager at Becoming Green, said that there had been “performance issues” with staff who had been fired.

“There have been a few people who have been dismissed for various reasons … but if you are trying to imply that we have replaced those people with prisoners then that is far wrong,” Vaughan said.

“I think perhaps the people you have spoken to are a little bit disgruntled … At the end of the day the contact centre industry has a very, very high turnover … it’s tough.”

In January, Clarke laid out plans to double the numbers of those working inside prisons to 20,000 in less than 10 years.

However, while convicts working inside prison manufacturing goods have been doing such work for many years, prison campaigners said that working at a £3 a day training rate for private businesses for a minimum of eight weeks outside of prison walls was a new phenomenon.

“This situation, I haven’t heard of before,” said Andrew Neilson, from the Howard League for Penal Reform.

“We do welcome these opportunities [for prisoners to work] but it should be on the same basis as anyone else in the community.

“We don’t want the issue of prisoners on day release being employed becoming one that divides people and effectively people are turned against those prisoners because they’re seen to be taking people’s jobs. That’s not what should be happening.”

Chris Bath, chief executive of prisoners’ charity Unlock, said he had never heard of such a practice where prisoners were spending so long in the private sector doing work experience on prison wages, and called the move a “worrying development”.

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said that for any company to rely on cheap labour of prisoners was “immoral and disgusting”.

“The association wants to see prisoners working and leading law-abiding lives but not at the expense of other workers being sacked or laid off to facilitate it.

“Some employers must be rubbing their hands and the shareholders laughing all the way to the bank,” Gillan said.

“The ministers must be held to account if the factual position is this company has sacked workers to employ prisoners … The general public will be outraged if this proves to be widespread and proper scrutiny of contracts needs to be made public to ensure public confidence.”

The MoJ said that prisoners at the company who were being employed at above minimum wage were paying 40% of their salary into the victims’ fund. Three of the prisoner employees were understood to be managers at the company.

Speaking about the expansion of prison work from 10,000 to 20,000 prisoners over the next decade, Clarke told the BBC last month: “It would be a very serious downside if we started replacing job opportunities for law-abiding people, and we’ve been conscious of that all the way through.

“Although we don’t pay the prisoners the minimum wage, normally you can’t start undercutting British businesses outside.”

He added that the CBI was “totally supportive” of the work initiatives.

However, Clarke has not addressed the situation in open prisons, where inmates can still have months left on their sentences but businesses can now pay them little more than a token wage for their labour.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “We want more prisoners to undertake challenging work, within the discipline of regular working hours, which will help them develop the skills they need to gain employment, reform, and turn away from crime.”

The spokesman added that prison work “helps to reduce the chance of re-offending by setting up appropriate employment and rehabilitation work in the community”.

In a statement, Becoming Green said: “Corporations should have a social responsibility to help society. It feels that if they work with this attitude and behaviour it will help make a better society for all.”

The company added that this kind of work would “enable [prisoners] to resettle and integrate back into society and not feel the need to re-offend. By working, prisoners can repay the victims of crime rather than be unproductive in prison and by working potentially turn their lives around.”

General Motors ([[GM]] -0.1%) invests in a company that has developed a lightweight-steel prototype that could help the automaker produce more fuel-efficient cars in the future. The automaker’s VC arm fired up the investment in NanoSteel for an…

Category : Stocks, World News

General Motors (GM -0.1%) invests in a company that has developed a lightweight-steel prototype that could help the automaker produce more fuel-efficient cars in the future. The automaker’s VC arm fired up the investment in NanoSteel for an undisclosed amount in the hope that its steel alloy technology will be a game changer. 1 comment!

See the original post here: General Motors ([[GM]] -0.1%) invests in a company that has developed a lightweight-steel prototype that could help the automaker produce more fuel-efficient cars in the future. The automaker’s VC arm fired up the investment in NanoSteel for an…

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