Fars News Agency :: MP Calls on OIC to Break Silence over Massacre of Muslims in Myanmar

“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation and all international institutions should take a swift, serious and firm action to put an end to this genocide in Myanmar,” Ruhollah Beigi said on Saturday.

He noted that meaningful silence of the UN and other international bodies toward crimes committed by the extremist Buddhists has led to widespread massacre of oppressed Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

He underscored that all Muslim nations across the world are duty-bound to defend Muslims in Myanmar, and added, “The catastrophe in Myanmar is not only an issue for the Muslim world, but an issue for all free and justice-seeking peoples of the world.”

The government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas, who it claims are not natives and classifies as illegal migrants, although the Rohingya are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Burma as early as the 8th century.

Even Myanmar’s so-called democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has kept quiet on the atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslims.

Myanmar’s President Thein Sein said Rohingya Muslims must be expelled from the country and sent to refugee camps run by the United Nations.

The UN says decades of discrimination have left the Rohingyas stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education and public services.

Since June, hundreds of members of the nearly-one-million-strong Rohingya Muslim minority have been killed and tens of thousands of others among them have been displaced in the west of the country due to a wave of communal violence.

Over the past two years, waves of ethnic Muslims have attempted to flee by boats in the face of systematic oppression by the Myanmar government.


UN Women: Communications Procedure of the Commission on the Status of Women Any individual, non-governmental organization, group or network may submit communications (complaints/appeals/petitions) to the Commission on the Status of Women containing info



Communications Procedure of the Commission on the Status of Women

Any individual, non-governmental organization, group or network may submit communications (complaints/appeals/petitions) to the Commission on the Status of Women containing information relating to alleged violations of human rights that affect the status of women in any country in the world. The Commission on the Status of Women considers such communications as part of its annual programme of work in order to identify emerging trends and patterns of injustice and discriminatory practices against women for purposes of policy formulation and development of strategies for the promotion of gender equality.


Any person or organization with a communication should write by 1 August 2012
More info >>

The current communications procedure of the Commission on the Status of Women has its roots in Economic and Social Council resolution 76 (V) of 5 August 1947, as amended by the Council in resolution 304 I (XI) of 14 and 17 July 1950. The mandate of the Commission on the Status of Women to consider communications has been reaffirmed and the modalities of the procedure have been further modified by the Council (see Council resolutions 1983/27 of 26 May 19831992/19 of 30 July 19921993/11 of 27 July 19932009/16 of 28 July 2009and decision 2002/235 of 24 July 2002).

What types of communications are sought?
What information should be included in a communication?
The procedure
Examples of categories of communications received and trends and patterns identified in recent years
Where to submit a communication to the Commission on the Status of Women

What types of communications are sought?

Accurate and detailed information relating to the promotion of women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields in any country anywhere in the world.

What information should be included in a communication?

It is advisable that communications should:

  • Identify as far as possible the woman victim, or women victims
  • Indicate clearly where (the particular country/several countries) the alleged violation(s) or pattern of violations have occurred or are occurring
  • Provide, when available, dates and circumstances of the alleged violations
  • Explain the context by providing relevant background information
  • Provide, when available, copies of documentation

The procedure

CSW communications procedure steps 1-3CSW communications procedure steps 4-6
Examples of categories of communications received and trends and patterns identified in recent years

  • Arbitrary arrests of women
  • Deaths and torture of women in custody
  • Forced disappearances or abductions of women
  • Discriminatory application of punishments in law based on sex, including corporal and capital punishment
  • Violation of the rights of women human rights defenders to freedom of expression and assembly
  • Threats or pressure exerted on women not to complain or to withdraw complaints
  • Impunity for violations of the human rights of women
  • Stereotypical attitudes towards the role and responsibilities of women
  • Domestic violence
  • Forced marriage and marital rape
  • Virginity testing
  • Contemporary forms of slavery, including trafficking in women and girls
  • Sexual harassment of women in the workplace
  • Unfair employment practices based on sex, including unequal pay
  • Lack of due diligence by States to adequately investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of violence against women
  • Discrimination against women under immigration and nationality laws
  • Violations of the rights of women to own and inherit property
  • Discrimination against women in accessing international humanitarian aid
  • Forcible evictions of women in conflict situations

All claims must be submitted in writing and signed by e-mail, fax, or regular mail. However, the author’s identity is not made known to the Government(s) concerned unless she/he agrees to the disclosure.

Please note that the Commission on the Status of Women does not take decisions on the merit of communications that are submitted to it and, therefore, the communications procedure does not provide an avenue for the redress of individual grievances.

Where to submit a communication to the Commission on the Status of Women

Any person or organization with a communication should write by 1 August 2012 to:

CSW Communications Procedure
Human Rights Section 
UN Women 
220 East 42nd Street, 17th floor,
New York, NY 10017

Send an e-mail message to: cp-csw@unwomen.org

Amnesty International Canada | Blog Victory for Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples in struggle over oil development Posted by: Craig Benjamin 27 July 2012 10:15 am



Victory for Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples in struggle over oil development

Posted by: Craig Benjamin
27 July 2012 10:15 am

“The Sarayaku are extremely satisfied with this victory, reached thanks to the efforts of our people and the help and solidarity of organizations devoted to the rights of Indigenous Peoples” – Sarayaku leader José Gualinga.

A regional court has ruled that the government of Ecuador violated the human rights of the Indigenous Sarayaku people by allowing oil development on their land without a rigourous prior consultation process.

According to media reports, the government of Ecuador has publicly committed to comply with this ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

This important victory comes after more than ten years of struggle by the Sarayaku people. It comes at a key moment when Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas are being denied the right to have their voice heard in decisions over large-scale resource development projects with the potential to threaten their very survival.

News release

Photo: Sarayaku President José Gualinga speaks before the Inter-American Court. © Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Toke of the Town – Call To Action: Stop The Feds From Silencing Robert Platshorn – By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~



By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ in News
Friday, July 27, 2012 at 10:57 am

The Silver Tour
Robert Platshorn spreads the truth about cannabis through The Silver Tour. Now the federal government has moved to silence him

Here’s What You Can Do To Fight Back Against The Feds Who Would Trample On Robert Platshorn’s Rights For Spreading The Truth About Marijuana

It’s time to push back and expose the bureaucrats that are now moving behind the scenes to silence cannabis activists like The Silver Tour‘s Robert Platshorn all over the country. They are acting as a secret army, in anticipation of the upcoming spate of pro cannabis ballot initiatives. There are serious First Amendment rights at stake, not to mention their intent to kill the tremendous public momentum for ending cannabis prohibition. 

“We must shine a light on these bureaucrats and expose their actions,” Platshorn told Toke of the Town Friday morning from his home in Florida. “There is nothing that frightens them more than jerking them out of the shadows that hides them from public scrutiny while they do their dirty work.”

“The first time I noticed something odd was the announcement in The Modesto Bee that Bryan [Epis] was given an extremely odd sentence reduction — if he agreed not to speak in public to promote legalization,” Platshorn told us. (Oddly, the link to the newspaper story — from just two days ago — is now dead.)

“Although we had strong claims, I understand and concur in Bryan’s decision to accept the government’s offer … in order to get back to his family as soon as possible,” Epis’ attorney, John Balazs, said Monday. “At the same time, it seems un-American for the government to insist … that Bryan give up his First Amendment right to advocate for the reform of our country’s marijuana laws.” 

The Silver Tour
Platshorn thought this just a bizarre incident, until his parole officer, Scott Kirsche phoned and rescinded Platshorn’s permission to travel to Chicago to speak at the national meeting of The American Bar Association, with this chilling caveat:

“I am ordered by my superiors [Reginald Michael and Frank Smith] to inform you that your permission to travel to Chicago is rescinded and you cannot travel to promote the legalization of marijuana without the permission of the U.S. Parole Commission in Washington D.C. You must request their permission directly.”

“Last night, I began getting messages indicating that activists in several key states with ballot initiatives were being pressured to modify their messages or curb their public activities,” Platshorn told Toke of the Town. “No one could pinpoint the original source of these pressures.”

As for the forced cancellation of his appearance at the A.B.A. convention, Platshorn told us, “I can’t begin to quantify the loss to the movement, The Silver Tour, to our TV show, Should Grandma Smoke Pot? and the financial lose of much-needed book sales that buy my groceries.

“I had planned a really powerful presentation that I believe would have raised millions of dollars for Grandma and a tremendous upswell of support from the nearly 400,000 influential members of that organization,” Platshorn said.

What can be done?

Here is a good start.

“This man has remained in the shadows, but exerts tremendous power over thousands of people like me,” Platshorn said. “The man who is ultimately in charge of my fate in this matter and all other parole matters, is Isaac Fulwood Jr., the Commissioner of the U.S. Parole Commission in D.C. 

Call to Action: Thousands, Not Dozens Are Needed

In order of effectiveness, phone calls, letters and emails are needed to Fulwood with copies to the press expressing outrage at the actions of his subordinates trampling on Robert Platshorn’s First Amendment rights and denying Platshorn the opportunity to address the A.B.A. and speak at legitimate political rallies to promote sensible changes to our draconian cannabis laws.

Correspondence to the U.S. Parole Commission may be sent to:
U.S. Parole Commission   
90 K Street, N.E., Third Floor
Washington, D.C. 20530

By Email
Media Contact: USPC.media@usdoj.gov

By Phone
(202) 346-7000

If you can’t reach Fulwood at The U.S. Parole Commission after several tries, try him at the University of the District of Columbia. Presently, Commissioner Fulwood is an Adjunct Professor at the University, where he teaches Law Enforcement subjects, Community Policing, and Ethics in Law Enforcement.

“Please get the word out and take action,” Platshorn said. “More than the fate of one activist is riding on this. Dozens of letters or calls will only be annoying. Hundreds of calls will get his attention and thousands of calls and letters will bring change.”

The 2012 Implementation Awards By The Editors of Speech Technology – Posted Jul 10, 2012 – customer: Ceridian vendor: Utopy products: SpeechMiner, Intelligent Coaching



The 2012 Implementation Awards
By The Editors of Speech Technology – Posted Jul 10, 2012

There’s no doubt that speech analytics, outbound IVR messaging, and hosting continue to be fan favorites when it comes to speech technology. And, it’s no different for this year’s group of Implementation Award winners. Each of them—a university, a credit management company, an enterprise software developer, and a major U.S. airline—has leveraged at least one of these technologies to realize benefits that are as diverse as the group itself, such as cost savings, agent performance improvements, churn prevention, and revenue growth. Read on to learn how they did it.

customer: Avila University

vendor: Vocantas

product: Scaller interactive voice response system

On the typical college or university campus, as many as one in three first-year students will not stay through to their sophomore year due to family problems, loneliness, academic struggles, or financial hardship.

At Avila University, a small Catholic school in Kansas City, Mo., the student retention rate is about 75 percent—well above the national average. But administrators still wanted to help identify first-year students at risk of dropping out or transferring to other schools and address their concerns.

So this past fall, the university deployed Scaller, an interactive voice response (IVR) solution from Vocantas, to aid its student retention efforts. Avila provided Vocantas with contact information for each of the 138 first-year students and 15 students from other years who were on academic probation. To ensure adequate participation, Avila told the students at their new student orientation and during the first session of their freshman seminar (a class to teach them how to become more independent) that they would be getting the IVR phone calls. The school sent email messages to students who were not reached through the IVR, asking them to get in touch with someone at the school if they had problems or concerns.

Beginning September 26 (four weeks into the fall semester) and for six days afterward, the IVR made dozens of calls each day. The fully automated system polled the students about their needs in seven areas: time management, financial assistance, career counseling, academic advisement, note-taking, personal counseling, and tutorial help.

Calls were targeted toward freshmen because, “if students are going to leave, most do it then,” says Paige Illum, coordinator of retention and the first-year experience at Avila University.

The school, run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, has a student population of 1,800.

The IVR dialed one student after another until it had reached 10 students who identified an area of need from among the seven choices. At that point, the IVR discontinued calls for that day to give Avila University staff the chance to follow up with a personal phone call to each student who asked for help.

The IVR reached 53 percent of the students on the list. Of those, 38 percent identified an area in which they could use help. Several identified needs in more than one area. The system identified more than 30 students who could be considered at risk for dropping out or transferring to other schools and flagged those calls for follow-up.

Scaller relies on an automated system that asks the students a series of questions to identify challenges they are facing. Automation is the preferred method, because, as Vocantas has found, students are more likely to be honest and open with a machine than they are with a live person.

“The results provided us with early indicator intelligence as to which students [in the freshman class] were most at risk,” said Darby Gough, Avila’s dean of students, in a statement.

The results were not all that surprising. “Most of them were just good old-fashioned questions and concerns about the college experience,” Illum explains. “They were the typical first-year concerns about adjusting to college life.”

The follow-up call made a big difference. “What we found when we followed up with students after the IVR calls was that multiple issues identified in each survey call could often be resolved with just one personal phone call,” Illum says.

Gary Hannah, president and CEO of Vocantas, calls Avila’s results “in line with the successful results we have seen in other deployments of our IVR in higher education.

“When given the opportunity, typically students will self-identify that they need help; in fact, thirty-five percent to forty percent of students ask for help when given the chance,” he said in a statement. “The good news is we typically see retention rates improve after the students receive a single outreach call from the IVR. With the diligent follow-up that Avila has put in…we expect a significant improvement in Avila’s year-over-year retention results.”

The initiative provides an ancillary benefit as well: Avila can now confirm student contact information, helping to ensure that the university is able to effectively reach students in the event of an emergency.

The results:

  • Reached 53 percent of the freshman class within a few days;
  • Identified more than 30 students who could be considered at risk for dropping out or transferring to other schools; and
  • Followed up with each of the at-risk students to address their concerns.

customer: Cabot Credit Management

vendor: Nexidia, Noble Systems

products: Noble Contact Center Suite, Nexidia ESI 9.1

Cabot Credit Management offers independent specialist services in debt purchase, contingency collections, and customer tracing. The group is divided into four businesses, Cabot Financial, Cabot Financial Ireland, Apex Credit Management, and Apex Discovery. (Cabot Credit Management is the parent company of Cabot Financial and Apex Credit Management.) The company employs more than 825 people at several offices in the United Kingdom.

The company handles more than 3 million customer accounts, has more than $10 billion face-value of owned debt and at any point in time manages over $1.54 billion in assets in its contingency business, in excess of $26.2 million cash collections per month.

In 2012, Noble Systems, in Atlanta and the U.K., partnered with Nexidia to expand the debt collections success of Apex Credit Management across the company to Cabot Financial.

Although Apex looked at several solution providers, it ultimately decided to work with Noble and Nexidia.

“We invested heavily in other analytical tools to segment and score our debt portfolios,” says Richard Furlong, contact strategy manager at Apex Credit Management “A lot of time and effort is spent ensuring we speak to the customer at the right time.”

Noble Systems is a global provider in unified contact center technology solutions. The scalable, integrated Noble solutions include advanced automatic call distributor and predictive dialing, unified contact processing and integrated IVR, recording, messaging, quality/monitoring systems, scripting, and real-time reporting and management tools.

Apex used Noble Contact Center Suite (CCS), a unified multichannel communication system that enables small to midsized contact organizations to manage contacts, information flow, and workforce in a single solution.

Additionally, Apex used Nexidia’s speech analytics solutions ESI 9.1, which enabled the company to analyze every call, providing more accurate insight for compliance, performance management, and overall call handling.

Apex says it has increased cash collected per agent hour by 30 percent and improved conversion rates by 15 percent. In addition, it has saved an average of 30 hours per month for each team leader within the first seven months of implementation.

The solutions allow the company to be proactive instead of reactive when dealing with customer dissatisfactions, and this supports a better customer experience all around, according to Apex.

“Speech analytics has such a proven success in Apex that it was just common sense to bring it into the Cabot Financial business,” Furlong says. “The lessons learned in Apex on how to maximize collections revenue through right party connections, targeted coaching, and increasing conversion rates will enable us to maximize the return on the substantial investment of our purchased debt.”

Apex said that the improved efficiency has allowed the company to halve the amount of time team leaders spend trawling for calls. This time has been reinvested into agent coaching, doubling the amount of time this is done.

Agent conversion rates shot up 15 percent, improving Apex’s first call resolution and reducing collections costs.

Additionally, improved quality (account resolution/call completion) conversion rates climbed 15 percent. Written complaint volumes were reduced as well.

“Our clients are forever moving the goalposts in terms of what is compliant and what is not. However, now that we can effectively monitor 100 percent of calls, we can give our clients peace of mind that we are protecting their brand and dealing with their customers fairly and appropriately,” Furlong says. “Plus, the ability to demonstrate compliance on 100 percent of our calls…will play a key part of every purchaser audit. Ultimately, we envision all 530 [members of our] collections staff using the system.”

The company’s return on investment was realized in just seven months, while its throughput quadrupled.

“Apex and Cabot both pride themselves on innovative ideas and use of technology, and we felt speech analytics was the final piece in the jigsaw for our business,” Furlong says. “We felt this would be the best way to ensure compliance, brand protection, and revenue generation.”

the results:

  • Increased cash collected per agent hour by 30 percent;
  • Improved agent conversion rates by 15 percent;
  • Account resolution/call completion conversion rates grew 15 percent; and
  • ROI achieved in seven months.

customer: Ceridian

vendor: Utopy

products: SpeechMiner, Intelligent Coaching

Ceridian is a global provider of payroll, tax filing, benefits, human resources, workforce management, and recruiting software and solutions. The Minneapolis company offers solutions to businesses in banking and insurance, law, government, and professional services.

Like most contact centers, Ceridian is constantly striving to improve its first call resolution (FCR) rate, as higher FCR rates mean lower call volumes and higher satisfaction. Ceridian measures FCR using its IVR system, which asks customers whether it is the first time they are calling about an issue. This method provided an accurate measurement of the FCR rate, but not the insight into what was driving it.

“Our contact center quality monitoring and analysis systems and processes were good at telling us when our FCR rate and other key performance indicators needed to get better, but they weren’t very helpful in discovering how we could improve our performance,” says Ceridian quality coach Pamela Cook. “Our existing analysis and processes and systems were simply unable to analyze enough of our calls in enough detail to discover macro-level issues in a reliable way.”

Early in 2011, Ceridian decided to implement the phrase-driven speech analytics provided by Utopy SpeechMiner. Data from Ceridian’s case tracking system was integrated into SpeechMiner’s unified Data Mart to determine which customers were calling repeatedly. SpeechMiner’s patented phrase-driven speech analytics engine identified repeat calls by recognizing when the customer or agent uttered any phrase that indicated it was not the first time the customer was calling about a particular issue.

SpeechMiner’s direct phrase-recognition engine, which recognizes entire phrases within calls without first converting the calls into text or phonemes, delivers a complete method of call classification and categorization. This method automatically categorizes all calls by type in addition to any subtopics discussed during the call, while also classifying customer service skills and processes used by agents.

SpeechMiner’s call categorization pinpointed which types of calls were generating the most callbacks for Ceridian.

By investigating those types of calls, SpeechMiner uncovered further commonalities within those specific types of calls, allowing Ceridian to discover the root cause of the repeat calls. In the same way, Ceridian was able to analyze which customers and agents have the lowest rates of FCR and discover the drivers of those rates for each customer and/or agent.

Ceridian learned it was lacking a standardized process for callbacks and follow-up, causing increased calls into Ceridian Customer Care and lowering FCR rates. Ceridian defined a new callback and follow-up process to ensure that agents all use the same method to recognize that a callback is necessary, gather the necessary information, set the proper customer expectations, and keep their commitments.

SpeechMiner automatically monitored each agent’s adherence to this process on every call. Supervisors leveraged Utopy Intelligent Coaching to reinforce the importance of this process during agent coaching and self-learning sessions. Intelligent Coaching was able to deliver best practice call libraries to the agents with example calls on which the process was followed particularly well by the agent, along with any examples where the process could have been followed better, accompanied by specific recommendations from the supervisor for coaching or self-learning purposes. Coaching maximized the efficiency of the coaching and self-learning process and drastically increased the speed of performance improvement.

The programs were implemented in June 2011. The results were measured using responses to post-call customer surveys. The post-call customer survey asks customers, “How likely are you to call back on this issue?”

Ceridian initially implemented the process in a pilot group of two teams. When it compared the responses to this survey question from July, August, and September 2011 to the results from March, April, and May 2011, the percentage of customers saying that they were unlikely to call back increased by 30 percent in the pilot group and by 18 percent throughout Ceridian’s entire customer care organization.

“Utopy SpeechMiner and Utopy Intelligent Coaching helped us significantly improve our (FCR) rate,” Cook says. “However, the reality is that we’ve just [reached] the tip of the iceberg in terms of the opportunities for improvement speech analytics can help us discover.”

the results:

  • Significantly improved overall FCR rate;
  • Customers unlikely to call back increased by30 percent in the pilot group; and
  • Customers unlikely to call back climbed 18 percent throughout Ceridian’s entire customer care organization.

customer: US Airways

vendor: Nuance Communications

products: Nuance On Demand IVR platform and Nuance Vocalizer, a spoken output engine

US Airways, along with its US Airways Shuttle and US Airways Express, operates more than 3,200 flights per day to more than 200 cities in North, Central, and South America; Europe; and the Middle East. The fifth-largest U.S. airline, it serves approximately 80 million passengers each year.

As a result of various buyouts and mergers during the past few years, the 1,600 agents in its four contact centers in Reno, Nev., Phoenix, Winston-Salem, N.C., and Liverpool, England, were using multiple interactive voice response (IVR) systems. These systems had nine voices and a variety of cumbersome menus and offered almost no insight into the 18 million calls handled every year. Key performance indicators, like call containment, call deflection, and average hold time, were almost impossible to compile.

What’s more, an agreement with the Airline Customer Service Employee Association to onshore all of its reservation agents by November 2011 was going to require US Airways to rein in contact center costs.

So, in December 2009, the airline issued a request for proposal for a new IVR. It eventually selected Nuance Communications as the vendor, and in July 2011, launched an IVR based on Nuance’s On Demand hosted platform. The deployment was also part of a larger US Airways corporate rebranding effort aimed at improving market perception and strengthening customer loyalty.

One of the highlights of the IVR is natural language call steering, allowing callers to state what they’re calling about in their own words. Other innovations include personalized call handling with proactive information delivery, automated collection of trip information, and a new voice—named Wally—using the Nuance Vocalizer speech synthesis engine.

The system also distinguishes itself by identifying callers who are members of the US Airways frequent flyer program, Dividend Miles, based on their phone numbers, and tailoring the interaction based on that information. The system can greet callers by name, pull up information about their next flights, and anticipate the reasons for their calls.

“The more we know about our customers, the more efficiently we can provide the assistance they need,” says Kerry Hester, senior vice president of operations planning and support.

The switch took place over two days; the system was handling 100 percent of calls right away. A month later, when Hurricane Irene hit, the system saw a very dramatic spike in call volume in response to all of the flight delays and cancellations, but it performed flawlessly. In fact, an assessment of airline hold times by STELLAService found US Airways had the lowest times of the top 10 airlines.

Since then, more capabilities have been added, allowing customers to use the automated system to confirm itineraries and seat assignments.

US Airways has already noticed a 5 percent increase in call containment and a 2 percent to 3 percent decrease in call handling time, which, combined, have saved the airline about $3 million this year.

Prior to the deployment, US Airways turned to Cyara Solutions, a provider of solutions for simulating, testing, and monitoring IVR and contact center systems and applications, to ensure the successful upgrade of its systems. US Airways continues to use Cyara to test and simulate callers’ experiences as they make new reservations, confirm or change flights, and access preferred member mileage support in both self- and assisted-service scenarios.

“Our partnership with Nuance has allowed US Airways to offer our callers an industry-leading IVR and CTI platform designed to deliver cost savings for the airline while improving our customers’ experience,” says Tim Lindemann, vice president of reservations and customer service planning at US Airways.

The application also comes with reporting and analytics tools that now give US Airways visibility into many key call center metrics, such as containment, transfers, and task completion.

Another benefit has been improved agent effectiveness. The system has cut the amount of time that customers spend on the phone with agents when making or changing reservations by asking tailored questions about their trips and then transferring that information to the agent via screen pop. This allows the callers’ conversations with the agents to be significantly more effective and frees up the agents to handle more complex issues.

“By integrating [our understanding of our customers and their needs] with cutting-edge speech recognition technology, we are providing our customers with the convenient, quality care they have come to expect,” Hester concludes.

the results:

  • A 5 percent increase in call containment;
  • A 2 percent to 3 percent decrease in call handling time; and
  • A savings of $3 million a year.

Palm Beach Post -By Jane Musgrave – parole office discharged Platshorn loses first round in ‘special’ parole fight with parole office – header edited by Mark Aldiss

Convicted former pot smuggler Platshorn loses first round in parole fight

By Jane Musgrave

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


Convicted pot smuggler turned medicinal marijuana advocate Robert Platshorn has lost the first round in his fight with the U.S. Parole Commission.

Pointing out that Platshorn’s quest for freedom to speak at such events as Hempfest Seattle, Sacramento Hempfest and Detroit High Times Medical Cannabis Cup seems to conflict with his marijuana-related crimes, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks said the 70-year-old Golden Lakes Village resident must remain under the supervision of the parole office.

Platshorn, who was released from prison in 2008 after serving roughly 30 years, said the parole office discharged him in May 2011 but recently alerted him that he is on special parole.

Middlebrooks said special parole is commonly ordered and upheld it.

Platshorn, who founded the Silver Tour to persuade seniors to push to legalize medical marijuana, vowed to continue his legal battle.



GlaxoSmithKline agrees $3 billion fraud payout 05 July 2012

IT’S a hefty pill to swallow. GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to pay $3 billion for introducing “misbranded” drugs and failing to report safety data, following a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice. The settlement is the largest for healthcare fraud in US history.

“This historic action is a clear warning to any company that chooses to break the law,” said James Cole, the US Deputy Attorney General, in a statement.

The charges related mainly to three drugs. The investigators found that between 1998 and 2003, GSK unlawfully promoted an antidepressant, trade name Paxil, for treating depression in people under 18, despite no approval for this from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Likewise, from 1999 to 2003, GSK promoted Wellbutrin, a drug approved at that time only for major depressive disorder, for a host of other conditions, including sexual dysfunction and addiction to drugs.

Finally, the investigation found that between 2001 and 2007, GSK failed to send the FDA safety data which revealed that the diabetes drug Avandia carried risks of congestive heart failure and heart attacks.

“I want to express our regret and reiterate that we have learnt from the mistakes that were made,” said Andrew Witty, chief executive officer of GSK, in a statement. He added that the offences were symptomatic of conduct that is no longer tolerated. “The company reached this settlement with the government to avoid the delay, expense, inconvenience and uncertainty of protracted litigation,” said Witty.

The company’s annual report reveals that GSK posted an operating profit last year of more than quadruple the fine, at $12.4 billion, and turnover of $43 billion. The company is valued at $113 billion.

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It Isn’t Their Money!

Thu Jul 05 09:37:08 BST 2012 by ullrich fischer

If the $3b were to come out of the pockets of the GSK execs responsible for the decisions leading to this crime, that might be a slight taste of justice, but to fine the company is to take the money out of the pockets of GSK shareholders most of whom had no say in those decisions. As it stands, this is not a proportional deterrent. Consider that Bernie Madoff is in jail for life despite having killed no one. The action described in the article may well have killed thousands due to inappropriate medication and thousands more due to the support this scandal gives to the “big pharma is a conspiracy” meme which is currently causing thousands of families around the world to refuse to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases

It Isn’t Their Money!

Fri Jul 06 09:18:44 BST 2012 by sevenleafclover

So you’re saying they embezzled the money to pay the 3b fine? hmmm, I don’t know…

These corporate conspiracy theories are interesting, but nothing will change unless consumers take action:

Consumers must hold these shady corporations accountable through the organization of boycotts, and through the enaction of new legistation. Only then will corporations hold their execs personally responsible for their actions.

Socal media has given consumers a much greater power, it’s high time consumers start using that power justly.

It Isn’t Their Money!

Sat Jul 07 00:27:39 BST 2012 by Chris

‘So you’re saying they embezzled the money to pay the 3b fine?’

Nope, he didn’t say that or even imply it at all, it might be better if you actually read, and understand, what someone has written before you comment on it.

The point being made was that the fine, being levied against the company, is to be paid out from the companies profits thereby badly affecting the shareholders dividends for a year or two, (remember the shareholders were not the ones who decided to mis-sell and mis-report these drugs)

Meanwhile the excutives who did decide to put peoples lives and health at risk to increase sales do not themselves pay the fines despite being those responsable.

Money grabbing management parasites like those here should pay compensation out of their own pockets to all those affected in this debarcle, receive heftly fines and/or prison terms and should of course be banned from working in a management position in any healthcare, medical or drug company again

It Isn’t Their Money!

Tue Jul 10 04:12:55 BST 2012 by Jamie W.

I vehemently disagree with Chris and Ullrich that the shareholders are somehow innocent in all this. Of course the Glaxo exec’s should face the music (or perhaps a firing squad), but anyone who holds shares should know exactly where their money is invested. They may not design the profit-making schemes but they’re happy to rake in the dividends. Would it be acceptable for me to take shares in a crystal meth factory? Should I evade punishment if the cooks get busted?

It Isn’t Their Money!

Tue Jul 10 03:58:52 BST 2012 by Jamie W.

“The company reached this settlement with the government to avoid the delay, expense, inconvenience and uncertainty of protracted litigation,”

The above quote says it all, really. If the swine thought they had a chance in court they would have sent in the lawyers. Their accountants would have determined that settling was the option least damaging to the shareholders’ hip pockets.

There’s no conspiracy here, there’s no cabal of evil pharma-lords, just a system that prioritises profit-maximisation and limits personal responsibility. The Glaxo decision-makers were doing their job, and their job isn’t developing and providing treatments for unwell people, it’s providing ever-increasing dividends. The average large pharmaco spends around three times more money on marketing than they do on R&D, a fact which tells us exactly what their priorities are.

It seems to me that there’s something profoundly wrong with a system where treatments for the unwell (or food for the hungry, or heating for the cold, or shelter for the homeless) are provided or withheld on the basis of profitability.

I agree with sevenleafclover (do they grow near Pripyat?) that action is desperately needed, but I suspect boycotts and legislatory changes are nothing more than inconveniences, like fleas on a rabid dog.

Perhaps it’s time we stopped referring to human beings as consumers. Perhaps we can use the power of the web to do more than complain. Perhaps it’s time we take back the world.

It Isn’t Their Money!

Mon Jul 09 19:21:57 BST 2012 by James

I am now curious where the 3BN is going? How much did it cost to get the 3BN fine so how much is my government actually making? Additionally I thought we had a law that corporate execs could be charged with this as a crime, Knowingly choosing proifits over the safety of people.

It Isn’t Their Money!

Tue Jul 10 04:25:41 BST 2012 by Jamie W.

“…and thousands more due to the support this scandal gives to the “big pharma is a conspiracy” meme which is currently causing thousands of families around the world to refuse to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases”

Ullrich, you’ve got to be kidding. I absolutely agree that scientifically-illiterate idiots refusing to vaccinate their kids is a huge problem, but you can’t seriously be suggesting that we should let stuff like this slide in order to preserve the respectable face of the pharmaceutical industry. Perhaps I’ve misread your intentions?

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