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Nazi butcher Klaus Barbie hands out luxury mobile phones, valued at over €3,000 to corrupt Bulgarian politicians.

A total of 16 Bulgarian Members of Parliament succumbed to a trick designed by two media in order to expose their greediness and prevalence of personal interests over legislative responsibilities.

The joint operation between the bTV private channel and the “168 Chasa” weekly consisted in offering luxurious cell phones, worth over BGN 6000 to 42 Bulgarian MPs. An expensive party was “organized” on Wednesday at a hotel in downtown Sofia , on which the phones were supposed to be handed out to them.

The party coincided with a Parliamentary session. Only 26 of the invited MPs stayed, 16 of their colleagues skipped work to get hold of the nice “gifts”.

The members of the parliament did not realize they were being tricked, even though the invitations were signed with the name of Klaus Barbie, a notorious Gestapo member and war criminal, known as the Butcher of Lyon.

“You are abusing the name of a respected cell phone company. This is illegal,” ruling centrist GERB MP declared before the journalists upon being “caught in action”.

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov condemned the 22 MPs, who skipped work due to a media hoax offering them “free luxurious cell phones.”

“I am ashamed by their behavior,” Borisov admitted, but still pointed out that his ruling centrist GERB’s MPs have been less greedy in comparison to their colleagues.

Parliamentary Speaker Tsetska Tsatseva, who was one of the invited but did not attend the fake event, also expressed her dissatissfaction

The joint operation between the bTV private channel and the “168 Chasa” weekly consisted in offering luxurious cell phones, worth over BGN 6000 to 42 Bulgarian MPs. An expensive party was “organized” on Wednesday at a hotel inSofia , on which the phones were supposed to be handed out to them.

The party coincided with a Parliamentary session. Only 26 of the invited MPs stayed, 16 of their colleagues skipped work to get hold of the nice “gifts”.

The members of the parliament did not realize they were being tricked, even though the invitations were signed with the name of Klaus Barbie, a notorious Gestapo member and war criminal, known as the Butcher of Lyon.

novinite.com

BRITISH ACADEMY, ROYAL SOCIETY BACK BULGARIAN TOP SCI BODY AMID ATTACKS

The presidents of UK’s leading research institutions are among those who have sent letters of support to the Bulgarian Academy of Science, which has been facing extreme budget cuts and likely closure forced from the government.

Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy – UK’s leading center for humanities and social sciences – has sent out an official letter to senior Bulgarian officials, including PM Boyko Borisov, in which he calls for a strong committment on the part of the state for science and research.

“It is a striking fact that in these very difficult economic times, many countries are making investment in knowledge and research a priority, and are even increasing their investment at a time of cuts elsewhere. They do so because they know that research contributes to innovation and economic growth, and helps build social stability,” writes Sir Roberts.

The letter concludes asking senior Bulgarian officials to “reconsider the cuts to a vital part of Bulgarian national life and of the Bulgarian economy.”

Lord Martin Rees of Ludlow, President of the UK Royal Society – one of the oldest and most prestigious research institutions in the world – has on his part sent a letter of support to the BAS President Nikola Sabotinov, expressing his “concern” at Bulgarian budget cuts for research, calling that science be “at the heart of European countries’ plans for future prosperity.”

Lord Rees of Ludlow has asked Sabotinov to forward his letter to all Bulgarian senior officials he is in contact with.

He further states that the Royal Society is “proud of its links with BAS” and speaks highly of the Academy’s plans for development and already instituted reforms.

The presidents of Britain’s top research institutions are just some of the international research leaders who have already sent out letters in support of BAS.

The messages include a strong-worded letter to PM Borisov from Prof. Jüri Engelbrecht – President of ALLEA, the umbrella organization of Europe’s science academies.

Further letters of support have been sent out by the presidents of the Serbian and Turkish of science, as well as by a number of Bulgarian researchers working abroad.

In the meanwhile, the Bulgarian Parliament is set to review Wednesday a controversial legislative amendment which envisions dismantling BAS into separate institutes under the direct jurisdiction of the Minister of Education and the Council of Ministers.

novinite.com

BULGARIAN GOVT STRIKES TO DEMOLISH TOP RESEARCH INSTITUTION

Authorities have taken up specific measures to make possible demolishing the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences with an urgent legislative amendment currently under review by Parliament.

This development comes after November 15 Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov and Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva announced the Academy of Sciences (BAS) will be split into self-standing institutes and its central organs abolished.

Researchers alarmed that would mean an end to the Academy, and went out on a string of protests, after which PM Borisov and Minister of Education Sergei Ignatov announced that they have no plans whatsoever to demolish Bulgaria’s oldest science institution.

Nevertheless, last Thursday Rumen Stoilov, a back-bench MP from the ruling GERB party, tabled a legislative amendment to the Law on BAS which mandates precisely the splitting of the academy into self-standing institutes and the founding of a separate, largely ceremonial body of academicians.

The Parliamentary Education and Research Committee has deemed it worthwhile to urgently vote on the legislative proposal and has included it into its Wednesday agenda.

What is most alarming, the amendment forsees that the newly-created institutes would be under the direct jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and will be subject to merging or closing down by the Council of Ministers at the proposal of the education minister.

This would expressly eliminate BAS as a self-standing entity and will put in the hands of the central goverment the power to eliminate institutes at will – something that BAS researchers have been consistently alarming against.

Thus, although the letter of the legislative amendment is consistent with the statement that BAS will not be shut down, the new law would put all its units at the self-willed mercy of a government that has proven hostile not only to investment in research and education, but also to the Academy as an institution.

Researchers have claimed that in particular the government wants not only to disburden itself from the need to sponsor science and research, but what is more – to lay hands on BAS’s many properties.

Bulgarian Minister of Finance Simeon Djankov is a self-confessed BAS-hater. What is more, in interviews he has given to the Bulgarian press before assuming office, he has suggested the idea of selling out BAS’s assets, even mentioning specific figures of their worth.

BAS researchers and leadership have alarmed that Djankov has already effected the dismantling of the Georgian Academy of Science during his stint as a World Bank expert in the country.

They have protested the bill for amendment of the Law on BAS and have called a fresh protest Wednesday.

novinite.com

EU launches antitrust probe into alleged Google abuses

November 30, 2010 1 comment

The European Commission has launched an investigation into Google after other search engines complained that the firm had abused its dominant position.

The EC will examine whether the world’s largest search engine penalised competing services in its results.

The probe follows complaints by firms including price comparison site Foundem and legal search engine ejustice.fr.

Google denies the allegations but said it would work with the Commission to “address any concerns”.

Earlier this year the attorney general of Texas launched a similar investigation following complaints from firms including Foundem.

The objections in both cases are from competitors which allege that Google manipulates its search results.

“The European Commission has decided to open an antitrust investigation into allegations that Google has abused a dominant position in online search,” the body said in a statement.

It said the action followed “complaints by search service providers about unfavourable treatment of their services in Google’s unpaid and sponsored search results coupled with an alleged preferential placement of Google’s own services.”

The Commission’s investigation does not imply any wrongdoing by Google.

“Since we started, Google we have worked hard to do the right thing by our users and our industry,” said the firm in a statement.

“But there’s always going to be room for improvement, and so we’ll be working with the Commission to address any concerns.”

Core business

Google offers two types of search result – unpaid results produced by the firm’s algorithms that are displayed in the main body of the page and “ads”, previously called sponsored links.

The investigation will try to determine whether the firm’s method of generating unpaid results adversely affects the ranking of other firms, specifically those providing so-called vertical search services.

These are specialist search providers, and can include sites that offer price comparison, for example.

Foundem alleges that Google’s algorithms “remove legitimate sites from [its] natural search results, irrespective of relevance”. It also says that the firm promotes its own services over those offered by competitors.

“Google is exploiting its dominance of search in ways that stifle innovation, suppress competition, and erode consumer choice,” Foundem said in its complaint filed in February 2010.

But Google argues that there are “compelling reasons” why these sites are “ranked poorly”.

For example, it said, Foundem “duplicates 79% of its website content from other sites.”

“We have consistently informed webmasters that our algorithms disadvantage duplicate sites,” the firm said.

The Commission will also look into allegations that Google manipulated elements of its system that determine the price paid for ads from these sites.

Finally, the investigation will also probe how the company deals with advertising partners.

Advertising is the core of Google’s business.

Google is alleged to impose “exclusivity obligations on advertising partners, preventing them from placing certain types of competing ads on their web sites, as well as on computer and software vendors,” according to an EC statement.

In addition, the EC said it would also look into “suspected restrictions on the portability of online advertising campaign data to competing online advertising platforms.”

Google says it already allows customers “to take their data with them when they switch services” and that its contracts “have never been exclusive”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11876443

 

 

 

One in ten Brits will do their Xmas shopping via mobile

One in ten UK shoppers will be buying Christmas presents via mobile rather than using their computers this year, according to new stats from Tesco Direct.

This, and other surveys from the US, provides further evidence of the growth of mobile commerce, and the key role that mobile shopping will play this year.

So how can retailers make the most of this trend?

Tesco’s survey of 4,000 consumers found a number of different uses of mobiles for shopping, and not all were while out and about.

Half of mobile shoppers uses their phones while watching TV, one in six while sat on the bus, and a quarter during their daily commute. More than a third of all respondents said that shopping via mobile reduced stress levels and allowed them to fit it around busy schedules.

Tesco said that 500,000 mobile users had visited the Direct site in October, and more are expected in the run up to Christmas. The retailer recently released a mobile version of its website.

Recent US stats point to similar trends in mobile shopping, with the MMA finding that 59% of US consumers intend to use their phones for Christmas shopping, and 13% using it to purchase gifts.

This trend towards the use of mobiles for research, browsing and purchase is set to continue, so retailers need to do more to make the most of this trend. Here are a few suggestions:

Launch a mobile site or app

This is the most obvious way to appeal to the mobile shopper, and many UK retailers have now released mobile versions of their sites; M&S, Tesco, Argos, John Lewis, and Debenhams have all launched sites or apps in the last six months.

The stats show that mobile sites can work too. Both eBay and Amazon, who have been at the forefront of mobile shopping, have released impressive mobile sales figures. It has worked for high street retailers too: From May to October, the M&S mobile website attracted 1.2m visitors and 13,000 orders.

There are now plenty of convincing reasons why retailers need a mobile website or app.

Get listed on mobile comparison apps

If you have no mobile site, then making sure it is as easy to use as possible on a phone (i.e not too much Flash, clear page layouts etc) is one way.

Another way is to ensure your products show up on mobile comparison and voucher sites, such as Sccope or Vouchercloud. As mobile users increasingly compare prices on their phones when shopping offline, then this is one way to get your products in front of them.

Reserve and collect

If retailers have a mobile site or app, then reserve and collect is one way to help drive customers into stores. We know that this works online, but If this is combined with mobile it becomes a very effective tool.

The Argos iPhone app is a great example of this. It isn’t possible to buy direct from the app, but users can check stock levels at any Argos branch and reserve items for immediate collection.

Barcode scanners

A useful extra for retailers on mobile apps is a barcode scanner, which allows customers to scan products when out shopping and compare prices or find reviews.

Amazon’s app takes a slightly different approach, using photo recognition instead of a scanner, but it’s a great tool for offline shopping as it allows shoppers to easily check prices on the site, as well as reading user reviews of a product.

Kiddicare, eBay and Debenhams are among the retailers who have released barcode scanners, and the beauty is that, once customers have them, it means that even if they are shopping at a competitor’s store, retailers still have a chance of grabbing the sale.

http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/6902-one-in-ten-brits-will-do-xmas-shopping-on-mobile?utm_medium=email&utm_source=topic

Robin Hood Airport tweeter takes battle to High Court

The legal case of the man who tweeted about blowing up Robin Hood Airport to his girlfriend is to go to the High Court.
Paul Chambers reacted to the news earlier this year that snow had shut down the airport near Doncaster by sending a joke message on Twitter which read “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”
A routine internet search by the airport discovered the tweet which was written off by almost all officials as not serious. However, the message led the former accounts manager to court where he was convicted of menace by a Doncaster magistrates court.
The incident has since attracted widespread attention and in protest at the result Twitter users have retweeted the message under the hashtag “I am Spartacus”.
Meanwhile Celebrated Twitter fan Stephen Fry has offered to pay Chambers’ legal fines.
Now Chambers, who has since lost his job and faces fines of £3000, will be supported by a legal team which includes a senior human rights lawyer as he fights to clear his name.

Bulgarian Parliament to Vote Changes in Tax Laws

Bulgarian Parliament will vote at second reading the amendments to the tax laws, including the flat 9% value-added tax (VAT) in the tourism sector.

The most serious changes are envisioned for the taxation of tourist services. If adopted, the changes will be implemented as of April 2011.

The move comes in response to the demand of the European Union that Bulgariashould harmonize tourism VAT, which currently stands at 7% for organized groups and 20% for individual tourism.

The amendments to the Corporate Income Tax Act aim to prevent tax frauds by envisioning payments for services to a provider, registered in an off shore area, to be taxed at 10%, which means that the client would submit them to the state treasury. The same applies to rents, when the landlord is a foreign company.

Changed in the Excise Duties and Tax Warehouses Act provide increasing of excise for cut tobacco (used by smokers of pipes and people who roll their own cigarettes) from BGN 100 per kg to BGN 132 per kg.

The government’s motive for the increase is that it would equalize the tax burden for this product with the excise duty for manufactured cigarettes. Following its last year’s increase, cut tobacco turned out to be much cheaper than manufactured cigarettes and its consumption increased over 200 times, according to data from the Finance Ministry.

http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=122233