pharmawikipedia.org

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Indonesian anti-corruption chief convicted of murder

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Indonesian court has convicted the former head of the country’s anti-corruption agency of murder. The prosecution of Antasari Azhar and three others has been controversial, with some fearing the so-called “Judicial Mafia” played a role.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) already saw a proven plot to discredit it and frame its senior members. Shortly after Azhar’s arrest in May last year police came to take away Bibit Rianto and Chandra Hamzah, two deputy commissioners, to face trial for corruption. The trial, instead, unveiled a plot to convict the men of offences they had not committed. Protests in the street ensued, and locals gave corrupt officials the joint nickname of the “Judicial Mafia”.

The scandal resulted in the resignations of a chief detective and a deputy attorney general; the KPK had begun probing the attorney general’s office and that of the national police. During Azhar’s time as chair the KPK has exposed bribery at the former and prosecuted an in-law relative of the president during the country’s election preparations, with a jail sentence being the result.

The defendants had claimed political elements orchestrated a conspiracy to see the quartet convicted. The judges disagreed, with judge Herri Swantoro telling the court, “Defendant Antasari Azhar has been legitimately proven guilty of participating in persuading the carrying out of a premeditated murder.” The court’s judgement ran to 179 pages.

The case saw the four accused of plotting the March 2009 murder of tycoon Nasruddin Zulkarnaen, shot dead in his car by a motorbike assassin in Jakarta. Zulkarnaen was Azhar’s golfing partner and the businessman was alleged by the prosecution to have been blackmailing the KPK leader, who is a former prosecutor.

Azhar is alleged to have had an affair with one of Zulkarnaen’s wives, a golf caddie. With Zulkarnaen threatening to inform the press and parliament, Azhar is alleged to have plotted murder with several other officials. Police commissioner Wiliardi Wizar was accused of locating the assassins used; he claimed his senior had ordered him to testify he had been told by Azhar to kill Zulkarnaen.

Media mogul Sigid Haryo Wibisono stood accused of financing the contract killing, and businessman Jerry Hermawan Lo of arranging a meeting with the gunmen. All three were convicted alongside Azhar, who received an eighteen-year prison sentence. Wizar was jailed for twelve years, Wibisono for fifteen and Lo for five. All intend to appeal the verdicts.

One person who feels the court got it wrong is a human rights lawyer who defended Bibit and Chandra. “I think that this is all still a mystery,” said Taufik Basari. “I don’t think the judge had all the necessary facts to warrant a verdict of eighteen years.”

Despite the conviction of his relative, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono retained the presidency last June by a landslide majority. Originally elected in 2004, Yudhoyono has used an anti-corruption stance in his campaigns, heaping praise upon the KPK which Azhar was head of from December 2007 until his arrest.

The four new convicts join five men convicted of the murder in December. Alleged to have comprised the gang behind the shooting, they received sentences varying from seventeen to eighteen years imprisonment.

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Borneo bridge collapse kills at least three as vehicles fall

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Borneo bridge collapse kills at least three as vehicles fall
October 4th, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Saturday, November 26, 2011

At least three people died today and seventeen more were injured after a road bridge collapsed on the Indonesian island of Borneo. At least three cars, several motorbikes, and a public bus all fell into the Mahakam River.

The bridge was constructed from concrete roughly a decade ago to resemble California’s Golden Gate Bridge, and links the East Kalimantan towns of Tenggarong and Samarinda. Police say there is no indication of why it failed. Completed in 2001, work started in 1995 and locals called it “Kalimantan’s Golden Gate Bridge.”

The wounded have been hospitalised, some with broken bones. The scene at the bridge, in Kutai Kartanegara district, was filled with screams in the aftermath of the collapse. The suspension bridge was erected by state-owned builders PT Hutama Karya and one segment has fallen into the water. Some vehicles are close to entirely submerged, and Indonesia Today suggests as many as 100 people may be injured. One damaged car was left inverted and suspended above the water.

Harmoni Adi, head of a search and rescue agency, said “[t]he death toll is likely to increase,” after the 4:30pm local time collapse, with rescuers in Tenggarong searching the river for survivors. Some people swam ashore after falling from the structure, which spanned 700 metres. An eyewitness described heavy traffic on the bridge when it came down.

 This story has updates See Borneo bridge collapse: death toll reaches four, many remain missing, November 27, 2011,Death toll from Borneo bridge collapse reaches eleven, November 28, 2011 

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Dog falls on car and kills driver in Michigan

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Dog falls on car and kills driver in Michigan
September 7th, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A dog fell off an Interstate 96 overpass in Livonia, Michigan killing 81 year-old Charles G. Jetchick.

Jetchick and a passenger, who police would not identify, were transported to St. Mary’s Hospital where Jetchick died from his injuries. The passenger suffered only minor injuries.

Police say that the 60 to 70 pound (27-32 kilograms) dog was not thrown off the overpass, but “probably fell by accident while trying to avoid a car,” Sgt. Michael A. Shaw of the Michigan State Police said. “We don’t know and thats why we are looking for witnesses.”

The dog, which fell about 16 feet (5 metres) also died due to its injuries.

Shaw has been with the State Police for 11 years and has never encountered a similar incident. “We’ve had rocks and other stuff like that fall off of overpasses. This would be the first dog we’ve had,” said Shaw.

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Ralph Nader calls out Democrats for financial bailout">
Ralph Nader calls out Democrats for financial bailout

September 7th, 2019 | Uncategorized |
 Correction — Aug 2, 2010 Nader referred to the 1999 repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagal Act. The Wikinews article omitted the word “repeal” from the account of Nader’s speech. 

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Independent U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader had harsh words for the Democrats who engineered yesterday’s passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, a bailout of the U.S. financial system. At a campaign stop in Waterbury, Connecticut on Saturday, Nader said that Democrats passed up a chance to enact re-regulation of the financial system and instead gave Wall Street everything it wanted.

According to Nader, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), and other Democrats considered but rejected measures such as a tax on transactions of derivatives (a “speculation tax”) because of their financial ties to Wall Street and its lobbyists. He said that Representative Chris Murphy (D-CT), who represents Waterbury, had “become a toady” of Nancy Pelosi. He drew enthusiastic applause by calling Murphy “a dynamic fraud”, and referred to Senator Joe Lieberman as “the Hermaphrodite of American Politics”. For Murphy and Representative Chris Shays (R-CT), Nader said, supporting the bailout despite the opposition of constituents was a “profile in betrayal”. Because there were no public hearings where taxpayers and experts could weigh in on the bailout, Nader characterized it as a return to “taxation without representation“—under “King George IV” 225 years after the 13 colonies were taxed under King George III.

Asked about causes of the financial crisis, Nader pointed to the deregulation of the financial sector with the 1999 Glass-Steagall Act and further deregulation in 2000, as well as the rise of overly complex financial derivatives. He outlined a four-part reform plan:

  1. Re-regulation of financial markets
  2. Increasing shareholder control of corporations
  3. Taxpayer equity as part of any bailout, as in the 1979 bailout of Chrysler Corporation
  4. Making speculators pay by enacting a 0.1% tax on derivatives transactions (which Nader said will amount to over $500 trillion this year)

Regarding the equity warrants included in the passed bailout, Nader relayed word from an unnamed source that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had told Wall Street executives “don’t worry, it’s not enforceable”.

Nader told reporters that he had abandoned the Green Party because “Greens are not disciplined, and they’re not mature”, and also lack the fund-raising capabilities to break into mainstream political discussions. “They bicker and bicker,” he said, pushing out their best people. However, he endorsed several local Green Party candidates, including Chris Murphy’s opponent Harold Burbank.

The virtual media blackout for third party campaigns by national newspapers and networks has been a source of continual frustration for the Nader campaign, as well as the campaigns of Libertarian Bob Barr and Green Cynthia McKinney and the post-campaign activities of Republican Ron Paul. According to Nader, reporters tell him that editors of national media are “very bigoted against third party and independent candidacies”. Even journalists for taxpayer-supported media, such as National Public Radio‘s Terry Gross and the Public Broadcasting Service‘s Jim Lehrer, have shut him out during this campaign. Debates, he lamented, are controlled by corporate interests through the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Nader spoke to a supportive crowd of about 60 people and his campaign raised over $2000 at the event, their third visit to Waterbury. The event took place in the former building of a closed-down bank.

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

September 3rd, 2019 | Uncategorized |

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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Category:July 14, 2010">
Category:July 14, 2010

September 3rd, 2019 | Uncategorized |
? July 13, 2010
July 15, 2010 ?
July 14

Pages in category “July 14, 2010”

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News briefs:July 14, 2010">
News briefs:July 14, 2010

September 1st, 2019 | Uncategorized |
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Eye Exams For All Ages

September 1st, 2019 | Performing Arts |

byAlma Abell

Each person needs to go for an eye exam on a regular basis, if they expect to keep their eyes in optimal health. Failing to do so could result in possible loss of vision and eye problems due to lack of treatment. Children need to have their eyes tested as early as 6 months to a year old in some cases. They then need to go for exams every two years once they begin school. Vision diagnoses are often made around this time, as problems become more apparent during school years. If your child was a premature baby, or if there is a family history of vision problems, then they may be more prone to suffer from various eye problems.

Eye Exams for Different Groups of People

The elderly also need to go for eye tests at regular intervals. The American Optometric Association or the AOA as it is also sometimes called, states that everyone under the age of 40 should take an exam every 3-4 years. This is more than enough for those who do not experience any problems. Those who wear glasses or contact lenses should go for yearly examinations, because any problem that already exists should be checked regularly, to ensure that it does not get worse. Those who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, or other health complications should consider going for regular eye exams every 2 years. Certain health conditions put people at a higher risk for vision problems. When people reach the age of 60, they may have to go for yearly exams if they begin experiencing issues.

Complete Eye Exam

When you go in for an eye exam, you will have to give your optometrist a complete run down of your family medical history. You may be required to undergo testing that will check for color blindness, and a variety of eye conditions. Patients will also have their eyes dilated as well, so that the optometrist can check for certain problems. Taking regular eye exams Somerville, MA will ensure that you catch problems early, if any vision problems begin to occur. Catching things early is the key to getting them treated properly. Most vision insurance plans will cover complete exams that include testing, so it is important to listen to the recommendations of your optometrist to keep your eyes in good condition.

General Optical Company offers eye exams in Somerville, MA, and other services and treatments. They are known for their great patient services and friendly staff members.

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Category:June 4, 2010">
Category:June 4, 2010

August 25th, 2019 | Uncategorized |
? June 3, 2010
June 5, 2010 ?
June 4

Pages in category “June 4, 2010”

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Past Eurovision contestants give advice to this year’s performers, speculate on who will win">
Past Eurovision contestants give advice to this year’s performers, speculate on who will win

August 25th, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It happens once a year. Nearly all of Europe’s eyes are on 25 musical acts on finale night. Whether you love it or you hate it, it has your attention. Hundreds of millions are watching them. Whether viewers are waiting for the performance of a lifetime or a hilarious slip-up, for those three minutes their attention is owned by each respective singer.

That’s the feeling that the entrants in Moscow will know on Saturday, and it’s also the same feeling the eight singers who were interviewed by Wikinews have experienced. Last week, eight singers from eight different countries took time out of their various schedules to discuss their favorite moments from competing, their own personal anecdotes, advice they give to the performers this year in Moscow, who they think will win, and most importantly to them, what they’re doing now and what they’re offering to their audience.

This is the sixth and final interview set the English Wikinews will publish in the run-up to the semi-final and final rounds of the Eurovision Song Contest. Mike Halterman conducted all interviews, and will conduct additional interviews after the Contest. The final round airs May 16 at 9 p.m. CET; check with your national broadcaster’s website for possible delays. Where available, the Contest’s final round will also be broadcast on national radio.


Jessica Garlick, originally from Kidwelly in Wales, became famous in 2001 for her participation in the singing competition Pop Idol, where she finished in ninth place. Four months later, she won A Song for Europe, the British national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, and went on to represent the United Kingdom two months later at the Eurovision 2002 final in Tallinn, with the song “Come Back.” She placed third, which turned out to be the best result for the United Kingdom for the decade. Now 27, married and a mother, Jessica Garlick is returning to music with a new set of priorities.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Jessica Garlick: Right now I’m busy promoting my new single “Hard Not to Fall” which is due to be released this month…it’s available to download from iTunes from 9th May, with the official release being 25th May. I’m also currently co-writing my album, which will be released later on this year. It really does feel great to be back in the music industry.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Jessica Garlick: Some of my best memories from doing Eurovision would be visiting Estonia, I don’t think it’s a place I’d ever have visited if it wasn’t for performing there, and it really is beautiful. While I was there during the week I had the opportunity to fly out into the Baltic Sea via helicopter and spend the afternoon on board HMS Chatham too. I was allowed to drive the frigate, and got to perform to the troops on board, who were so appreciative.

I have so many more, and met such amazing people during the whole promotion and run-up period as well as the Eurovision week itself. My only regret is not taking as many photos as I would have liked to. So my advice to others doing Eurovision would be [to] definitely take lots of pictures, and really enjoy your performance and everything that representing your country brings with it.

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Jessica Garlick: I have been fortunate enough to have been able to perform alongside some of this year’s Eurovision entries, and was totally impressed! I love the Iceland entry this year…the song “Is it True?” is a really beautiful ballad, and Johanna sings it really well! I would say that from a song point of view, this is definitely my favourite song.

I do, however, think that the Ukraine could win this year! Svetlana‘s performance is crazy!! She’s absolutely wild! Her live performance is out of control! She is definitely “in it to win it”, and is going all out to ensure she does everything to make this happen. She is one to watch on the night for sure! There will definitely be something amazing going on on stage during her performance. She’ll keep you captivated, and make it memorable!!

((Mike Halterman)) A lot of the fans you had from when you were on Pop Idol and Eurovision 2002 don’t know the reason why you dropped out of music and out of sight. What happened? Also, do you find it difficult returning to the music industry after being away for six years?

Jessica Garlick: After Pop Idol and Eurovision I started to write songs…something I had never done before, and didn’t think I would be any good at. But I have been fortunate enough to travel the world since, co-writing with some of the world’s best songwriters. I decided to take a step out of the industry for a while in 2004 when I got married to my teenage sweetheart Owen.

I lost my passion for music for a while if I’m honest and we wanted to travel together for a bit, and actually moved to Australia for a short time, before I got totally broody. So in 2007 I gave birth to my little girl Olivia, and have been doing the wife and at-home mummy thing since, which I absolutely love!!

I made the decision to get back in the studio and start writing again in January of this year and it felt so good, and when I recorded “Hard Not to Fall” I knew it was a song that I wanted everyone to hear, and I completely got my passion and drive back for it. The music industry has changed a lot since I was last in it…but in actual fact it’s working better for me this time.

I have a lot more control, which is important to me, especially with Olivia being my main priority…I am first and foremost a mum, and I want to be a good one at that, and I’m also working with people that I really like and trust, which makes working together fun, and music should be fun. It’s definitely a lot harder this time around, as I am juggling “real life” too, and I can’t afford to be the selfish person that being successful in the industry can sometimes mean you have to be. I’m having the most wonderful time being back though, and am almost astounded by the great support I have from all my old fans. They’re the best!!

Ani Lorak, born Karolina Kuiek (the name “Ani Lorak” is “Karolina” spelled backwards), first became famous for her vocal talent in Russia and her native Ukraine in 1995. She took part in arguably the biggest performance of her career at Eurovision in 2008, placing second with the song “Shady Lady.” Celebrating her 30th birthday in September, she has kept up a busy schedule, including the release of a new album.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Ani Lorak: I’ve just released my new album called “Sontse” (The Sun). The album was written and recorded in Greece at the “VOX studio” by Dimitris Kontopoulos, who also helped with the song “Shady Lady” for Eurovision 2008. The album will be released not only in Ukraine but also in Russia.

In the autumn I plan to start a large tour of 25 cities in support of the new album. Also, we are planning to play some solo concerts in the Palace “Ukraine” in Kiev. I was pleasantly surprised when, at the beginning of the year, an award came to my office from the British radio station “Eurovision Song Contest Radio.” By audience vote, its listeners named me the “Best Female Singer for 2008” for my song “Shady Lady.” I don’t like to think ahead and to anticipate, but I’ll try to do as much as my energies will allow so people can be fulfilled in the future.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Ani Lorak: Because I participated in the contest only in 2008, I can remember it all: during the promotional tour I visited many countries in which I hadn’t been before. I met wonderful people: Dimitris Kontopoulos, Roberto Cavalli; I made new friends and supporters. [Editor’s note: Roberto Cavalli designed the diamond dress Ani Lorak wore during her Eurovision performance.] I had to work very diligently to get the result [I got].

In Eurovision I found the heart of this contest. The “Artistic Award”, which [they] usually hand to the best artist of the contest, [was given to me]; Raffaella Carrà invited me to her television program in Italy, and my tours took me further and further away geographically. I really liked the atmosphere of [the] contest. All the contestants were friendly, happy, helped each other, and supported one another. Those weeks were not simple, but very happy in my life.

I wish to all the participants lots of inspiration, tenacity, crazy energy, hard work and belief in yourself and your strength. It is not unachievable; the main thing is to settle for being frank and sincere to the audience.

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Ani Lorak: I can say one thing – Eurovision is a very unpredictable contest, and to do any predictions is very difficult. I know that in Moscow this year there will be many very well-known professional artists: Sakis Rouvas and Patricia Kaas. The main thing in this contest is to enter the scene and present for your country 200%. I wish good luck to all participants, but I’ll root, as a patriot, for my country.

((Mike Halterman)) What goals have you not achieved yet in your career, but would like to eventually?

Ani Lorak: We have a proverb: “If you want God to laugh, then tell Him about your plans.” It’s important to have enough strength for my professional accomplishments, for my career, and for my eventual creative achievements. But all this must go together with my personal life. I want to realize my self-worth in all spheres. Maybe I’ll open my own clothing line.

But most importantly for me, every day I will raise the bar with regard to my professional development as a singer and artist. The main point – I have everything ahead of me, and I will go to [any lengths to] achieve my dreams — my Oscar is yet to come!

Marija Naumova, who goes by the stage name Marie N, is best-known to European audiences for winning the Eurovision Song Contest for Latvia in 2002 with her song “I Wanna.” The next year, she hosted the Contest in Riga with past Latvian entrant Ren?rs Kaupers. Now 35, she has moved a lot of her focus to musical theatre and is very serious about honing her talent.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Marie N: At this time I am a student at acting school in Paris, so now all [my] plans are more about theatre, but I also started to work on my new album and I hope that at the end of the year I [can] present that to [the] audience, but I think that at the moment it’s too early to talk about it. [smile]

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Marie N: I liked everything during the week we spent there. We really had a lot of fun. The [atmosphere] was very professional, participants were very friendly…but the most emotional [part] was our trip back home – the way from Tallinn to Riga by bus with the police accompanying us and people waiting for us with flowers along the road…

The only advice is to enjoy every moment and especially the three minutes of the presentation – it is really something special. [smile]

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Marie N: I think that there are a lot of songs which have chances to win, but it depends on the energy that [the] singers will bring with them [to] the stage on that special evening.

((Mike Halterman)) Which task was more fun for you, winning Eurovision or hosting it the next year? Which one made you more nervous, and why?

Marie N: Of course singing was more fun than the hosting because you are responsible only for yourself, but hosting brings a responsibility for the whole show. I wish all the best for all the participants; enjoy. [smile]

Niels Olsen, nicknamed “Noller,” (pictured, left) and his older brother Jørgen (right) make up the duo The Olsen Brothers. A well-known act in Denmark since the early 1970s, the duo successfully staked a new claim to relevance by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2000 with the entry “Fly on the Wings of Love.” Now 55, Niels Olsen uses every chance possible to let his audience know that age is simply a number, especially in Eurovision which tends to favor younger entrants.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Niels Olsen: We are working on a new album and we will make a small tour to Sweden, Norway and Denmark for the rest of the year, so that’s what our fans can expect. The album will be released in 2010.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Niels Olsen: The best memory…well, it’s hard to say…we had a lot of fantastic memories from Stockholm in 2000. We will never forget the love we received from the public in all the European countries right after Stockholm, and the response from the Swedish people at the event. Apropos, I said to my brother after the first performance, “Well, Jørgen, I think it could be possible for us to have a hit in Sweden!!”

I would say to a “new” artist: Remember that you are not the center of the universe, and in a world perspective, the situation is not that bad if you lose the Eurovision. Stick to the ones you love and try to involve people you believe in, not the ones who promise you everything in life. In our case we have had the same manager for 35 years, we have been working with our friend and producer Stig Kreutzfeldt for 25 years, and so on. We have [made] several hits the last 35 years with these fantastic friends.

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Niels Olsen: Well, I haven’t heard all the songs, but I personally find the Danish, the English, and the Swedish songs very nice, but as I [said], I haven’t heard all the songs yet.

((Mike Halterman)) The Danish version of your winning song implies women “get better with age.” Which women in the entertainment industry do you think personify that sentiment, and why?

Niels Olsen: Personally I think my wife is still a beautiful woman, but I think as you said “getting better with age” is not the right word. My wife is still a lively and attractive woman, and we are both in love with life. I also think that a woman like Annie Lennox is a beautiful woman, even though she is past 50. (Sorry, [I know] we don’t talk about a woman’s age normally. Sorry, Miss Lennox.)

Hanna Pakarinen, from Lappeenranta in Finland, first became well-known in her home country for winning the Idols television series in 2004. In 2007, she was chosen to represent Finland at Eurovision, placing 17th in the final with the song “Leave Me Alone.” Her most recent album went gold this year, and she celebrated her 28th birthday last month, her combined CD sales having risen to over 180,000.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Hanna Pakarinen: I released my fourth album “Love in a Million Shades” earlier this year, and now I’m doing gigs around Finland.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Hanna Pakarinen: I think the best memory is the moment when I got up on stage in the finals. That was amazing!

It’s hard to give any advice, but I think the only thing that’s important is just to be yourself and have fun. [smile]

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Hanna Pakarinen: Of course I think the best song is the Finnish song. [smile] It’s very hard to say who is going to win; it’s the same thing every year, you never know!

((Mike Halterman)) Apart from music, what are some things that are very close to your heart? How would you like to use your popularity to help others?

Hanna Pakarinen: My family and friends, of course, and my hometown and the lake there.

I’m not really a big fan of the idea of being a role model but I’m trying to do my best, showing and telling the fans that the most important thing is to love yourself and be who you are. And always trust yourself, of course!

Charlotte Perrelli, originally Charlotte Nilsson, was an alumnus of two popular “dansbands” in Sweden before winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1999 with the song “Take Me to Your Heaven.” She quickly became one of Sweden’s most popular solo artists, and released six albums which all charted in the Swedish Top 40. In 2008 she returned to Eurovision with the highly favored “Hero,” only to be saved at the last minute by jury decision and ranking a low 18th out of 25 nations in the final round. Perrelli, now 34, discusses her achievements and favorite moments of the past decade.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Charlotte Perrelli: I’m searching for new songs to [include on] my upcoming album. I´m also on the jury for the Swedish TV show Talang (Talent; the Swedish version of the “___’s Got Talent!” TV series). They can expect a new album, hopefully this year.

((Mike Halterman)) You went to Eurovision twice, winning the Contest in 1999 and then also entering last year. What were some of the best memories you had from both times you went to Eurovision?

Charlotte Perrelli: The victory in Jerusalem in ’99 was fantastic, of course. My funniest memory was when Dana [International] fell on-stage, it was unbelievable and I felt sorry for her. Last year I had a lot of memories. Everything was so different from ’99. So much bigger!

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Charlotte Perrelli: I like many of the songs this year, but I believe Norway will win.

((Mike Halterman)) Which of the songs you’ve recorded is your favorite?

Charlotte Perrelli: Hmm. I have many favorites, but “Black and Blue” from my last CD is a great song; [it was] written by Fredrik Kempe. I love the lyrics.

Sirouhi Haroutunyan, nicknamed Sirusho, has been one of the most popular pop singers in Armenia since the release of her first album at age 13. In 2008, she represented Armenia at Eurovision, finishing in fourth place with the song “Qélé, Qélé.” Now 22, she is close to finishing her bachelor’s degree while still keeping up an active pace of performances and studio sessions.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Sirusho: I am currently working on a few big projects, one of them is the new song”Time to Pray” that I have made with my colleagues from Eurovision, Boaz Mauda and Jelena Tomasevic. The song is a protest against war, and the English lyrics are written by the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. I am also working on my fourth album which will be released in [the] summer. I also premiered my new song in Greek, “Erotas”, and it is already number one [on] all the Armenian music charts. My fans are very strong and it’s only a pleasure to work hard for them.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Sirusho: Eurovision is a big fun festival. I don’t want to call it a competition, because the contestants become friends. I wish for the participants to really enjoy [themselves] and not be scared of it. Eurovision can give and take so much; it took my career to a new level, [and] now I work and have fans all over Europe and it’s amazing.

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Sirusho: I have met some of this year’s participants in different countries where I was singing as a guest and they were doing their promo tours. I haven’t seen all the performances so I can’t judge. Also, Eurovision is all about unexpected surprises; that’s what makes it interesting.

((Mike Halterman)) You pursued a bachelor’s degree in international relations. How do you wish to utilize your degree? If you had to stop singing tomorrow, what kind of career would you want to pursue with the degree you hold?

Sirusho: International affairs is something that had interested me. I like to learn. I always tend to learn more but I don’t even want to think about stopping my career. I was born with it, it’s a big part of who I am, and even if something happens to my vocal cords, I can go on with writing and producing songs for my colleagues…[but] enough about that; I still have so much in me to give to myaudience!

Taj?i, born Tatjana Matejaš, shot to fame in Yugoslavia at the age of 19, achieving diamond sales with her signature hit “Hajde da ludujemo (Let’s Go Crazy). She performed the song at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1990, held in her hometown of Zagreb, and placed seventh. The war in the former Yugoslavia cut her career short, and she moved to the United States, where she has lived for the past 17 years. She now tours with her husband across the United States, performing selections of contemporary Christian music. At 38, she is overjoyed to “have it all”: a family of her own and the chance to make music on her own terms. Her career is chronicled on her website.

((Mike Halterman)) What projects are you working on? What can your fans in both America and in Europe expect to see from you this year?

Taj?i: Apart from my regular tours, which I do four a year, I am working on a show called “Need a Break,” which is a bit of a step from my spiritual music and more “everyday.” It’s more what mothers go through, with marriage and kids. It’s a funny show. What I do well is I tell stories. It’s how I am. It’s who I am. It’s why pop music didn’t work for me as an artist. This new format is great for me, it’s very fulfilling and I’m very excited and looking forward to it, being able to do that and explore musical styles.

I’m also hoping to go to Zagreb this year and bring my new music to them. I think it’s time. I’ve been away for 17 years, and they still play my old music, and occasionally I go there and do radio and television interviews…I don’t know, it’s time for them to see what I’m doing. Anyone can see my stuff online, but what I do best is live; there’s a lot of energy and power there that you can’t really see in a recording or in a video. It’s different when you’re actually in the room. I want to bring it to them and say, “Here, my countrymen, my old fans, this is who I am now. This is how I grew over the last 17 years.” Kind of like a reunion.

((Mike Halterman)) What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Taj?i: I really enjoyed performing, I enjoyed the energy, everyone coming together and singing, talking with other people about their careers. That was the highlight. I didn’t care for the press or the competition aspect, but there’s so much to think about, the whole country is looking at you. I don’t think it could ever be just about music, it’s more political. But there’s always stuff that comes with it when you have any kind of gathering like that.

The time I was there, I was the last representative before the fall of Yugoslavia, and it was during the unification of Europe, and everyone was a bit more tense and elevated in that regard…and I was so young to experience all of that. I don’t think I knew what to quite make of it. But it was a great experience, I’ll always remember it. The night of my life, one of them anyway.

It’s also very emotional because the singer who won that year sang about “unite unite, Europe.” It was perfect at that time. After he won, in the green room, he pulled a red rose from the bouquet and gave it to me, and he paid me some compliments. For a 19-year-old girl, that meant a lot.

My advice is to have fun, and do it with all your heart. Don’t do it for the sole reason to win, not to launch your career, but because you love it, and it’s what you do and you’re good at it. You can be an inspiration to someone and it can be more than just providing entertainment.

((Mike Halterman)) The music videos for this year are up at http://www.youtube.com/eurovision . Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Taj?i: Since we’re in the middle of a tour, I kind of scrolled through, and I think the quality of the songs are really wonderful. I feel like I want to pack my bags and go to Europe for the summer, because I think this is going to be a summer for some great club music!

I’m partial to countries [who sing] in their original language, and I can see how a lot of countries, how even when they do the dance number and include ethnic elements, I like that.

I like the guy from Norway, I think he’s so sincere and didn’t look to me like he was “trying” anything, he was just being himself. The song is nice and happy. It doesn’t hurt that he’s really handsome, and has a good aura about him. He had so much energy, and he grabbed me right away, the way he moved, the way he sang, it just pulled me in.

I also love Malta, I’m a fan of the big ballads. She has a beautiful voice. And Cyprus, she “did it” for me too. I also like the French song as well, but I also love the French language in general. Bosnia has a good song too, they have a certain sentiment that they always pull from and it works for them. Croatia, I wasn’t too blown away, but I’m proud of them for still singing in Croatian, even though it may not sound as pretty as English to some people. Everything else, it was like, “It’s beautiful, but I’ve seen it before.”

Everything seems like Hollywood now, I guess because it’s the times we live in now. All the girls are so pretty and the hair and makeup are perfect, and now I feel like an old lady, but I miss the characters from different parts of the world. It’s influenced so much by Hollywood and the Western music industry. It was inevitable, the melting of it [East and West] all into one, so I’m partial to bringing some sort of local element into it. It comes with finding your identity and finding your place in the world as a country.

I volunteer and give my time to a local school and teach the schoolchildren ethnic dances. I live in the Midwest now, but I used to live in Los Angeles and New York where they are a little more aware of ethnic groups. I’m teaching them these dances to give them a little sense of what’s being lost to the new kinds of culture and music. I teach some kids who were adopted from other countries, and I wonder, wow, are they ever going to be able to sing a song in Bulgarian, or Italian, or what have you?

My kids are half-American and half-Croatian, and I see how in my own life, being “globalized” and how people are losing the ethnic folklore and culture and all that, so with my kids, I try to teach them language and how to dance, because it’s the way I grew up.

((Mike Halterman)) I watched a clip of your documentary on YouTube, and I noticed one of the comments, asking you “not to forget your home, Croatia,” and to come back because the fans there miss you. Now that you’ve made a life for yourself in America, do you ever see yourself moving back to Croatia with your family? Which country do you feel more ties and loyalty to, the United States or Croatia, and why?

Taj?i: I want to take the kids and at least spend a year there when they’re teenagers, so I can show them my country and so they can learn different things there. But I don’t know, once you leave, it’s hard to go back. I miss my country, I miss the history. I miss my roots. I miss running into a friend and talking about high school and grade school, stuff that you don’t have when you move away. I love what I do, and I love what America has to offer, and what America did offer to me. There’s a certain kind of freedom that you have that you can’t have in a smaller country.

I will always be Croatian, it doesn’t matter how long I stay here. When I go home to Croatia, when I go there, I feel like I’m home, but when I come back to America, I feel like I’m home here too. I guess I have to say that a person can be “home” anywhere if they have peace within themselves. You’re gonna miss a lot of things about places you have been, and I do miss Croatia. I want to show my kids where I grew up and the parks where I played. That just may be a sentiment I’m going through right now, I don’t know. I have a good life, my husband and kids, and I love being able to make the kind of music I want to, without any contracts or obligations. I’m very happy.

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