How A Real Estate Agent Should Work With Clients

Submitted by: Beverly Manago

Because a large part of transactions and negotiations happen online these days, many real estate agents have forgotten how to deal with clients face to face. Of course, realtors face their online clients personally after some time, but the fact that agent and client have been talking and possibly negotiating online have already reduced the risk of problems occurring once they meet for a transaction.

Needless to say, dealing with clients is a very important skill in the real estate business. The first meeting between client and realtor can officially make or break a deal or a sale. A real estate agent needs to know how to deal with clients professionally and intelligently, as these are two different things.

As an agent, one should always expect emotions from his or her client-panic, fear, uncertainty, and even joy. Clients are entitled to express their emotions, so an agent has to be ready for this since the realtor’s reaction can be a factor in the client’s decision later on. This is one of the reasons why an agent has to be good with people. A good agent should know at what point of a discussion certain “emotions” will come up. More often than not, they are the same for everyone, although it may vary for different client profiles.

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For instance, clients become agitated when they feel the transaction and every detail being discussed are not what they expected. Clients might become listless when there are many available options for them. Clients might become nervous when they express fear in choosing the wrong property. These are normal reactions, and a good agent knows how to deal with it. Presentation is the key: know how to show certain facts that may not sit well with the client. Know the client’s expectations and motivations to see where they are coming from. With these at hand, a real estate agent will be more informed when dealing with a client.

Difficult clients are simply a part of the business. Some clients are more challenging than others. For instance, there are the clients who feel they know enough about the business and the industry to actually negate what the agent is saying. Then there are buyers who are not totally decided regarding the idea of a purchase. Again, it pays to know the client’s profile. For know-it-all clients, realtors should always acknowledge the information they are putting on the table.

However, it is best to put a client in his place respectfully by showing and explaining to him what makes the situation or problem unique, for example local market conditions that he or she may not have experienced before. This is especially important if the client is dead-set on trying to get discounts by proving his or her agent wrong. The same is true for clients who think agents should do everything for them, running short of actually doing the impossible.

An agent should do everything to satisfy the customer-at the proper place and time. And then, an agent should be skilled enough to know when a buyer is serious or simply looking around. This way, the agent won’t get caught in the trap of spending valuable time on an uncommitted or unqualified client.

About the Author: Beverly Manago is a freelance real estate writer and a consultant for My

Single Property Websites

, a web 2.0 marketing tool that lets real estate agents create stunning virtual tours and single property websites easily. She also contributes to the

Real Estate Marketing

Blog there.


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U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The English National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London has threatened on Friday to sue a U.S. citizen, Derrick Coetzee. The legal letter followed claims that he had breached the Gallery’s copyright in several thousand photographs of works of art uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, a free online media repository.

In a letter from their solicitors sent to Coetzee via electronic mail, the NPG asserted that it holds copyright in the photographs under U.K. law, and demanded that Coetzee provide various undertakings and remove all of the images from the site (referred to in the letter as “the Wikipedia website”).

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of free-to-use media, run by a community of volunteers from around the world, and is a sister project to Wikinews and the encyclopedia Wikipedia. Coetzee, who contributes to the Commons using the account “Dcoetzee”, had uploaded images that are free for public use under United States law, where he and the website are based. However copyright is claimed to exist in the country where the gallery is situated.

The complaint by the NPG is that under UK law, its copyright in the photographs of its portraits is being violated. While the gallery has complained to the Wikimedia Foundation for a number of years, this is the first direct threat of legal action made against an actual uploader of images. In addition to the allegation that Coetzee had violated the NPG’s copyright, they also allege that Coetzee had, by uploading thousands of images in bulk, infringed the NPG’s database right, breached a contract with the NPG; and circumvented a copyright protection mechanism on the NPG’s web site.

The copyright protection mechanism referred to is Zoomify, a product of Zoomify, Inc. of Santa Cruz, California. NPG’s solicitors stated in their letter that “Our client used the Zoomify technology to protect our client’s copyright in the high resolution images.”. Zoomify Inc. states in the Zoomify support documentation that its product is intended to make copying of images “more difficult” by breaking the image into smaller pieces and disabling the option within many web browsers to click and save images, but that they “provide Zoomify as a viewing solution and not an image security system”.

In particular, Zoomify’s website comments that while “many customers — famous museums for example” use Zoomify, in their experience a “general consensus” seems to exist that most museums are concerned with making the images in their galleries accessible to the public, rather than preventing the public from accessing them or making copies; they observe that a desire to prevent high resolution images being distributed would also imply prohibiting the sale of any posters or production of high quality printed material that could be scanned and placed online.

Other actions in the past have come directly from the NPG, rather than via solicitors. For example, several edits have been made directly to the English-language Wikipedia from the IP address, one of sixteen such IP addresses assigned to computers at the NPG by its ISP, Easynet.

In the period from August 2005 to July 2006 an individual within the NPG using that IP address acted to remove the use of several Wikimedia Commons pictures from articles in Wikipedia, including removing an image of the Chandos portrait, which the NPG has had in its possession since 1856, from Wikipedia’s biographical article on William Shakespeare.

Other actions included adding notices to the pages for images, and to the text of several articles using those images, such as the following edit to Wikipedia’s article on Catherine of Braganza and to its page for the Wikipedia Commons image of Branwell Brontë‘s portrait of his sisters:

“This image is copyright material and must not be reproduced in any way without permission of the copyright holder. Under current UK copyright law, there is copyright in skilfully executed photographs of ex-copyright works, such as this painting of Catherine de Braganza.
The original painting belongs to the National Portrait Gallery, London. For copies, and permission to reproduce the image, please contact the Gallery at or via our website at”

Other, later, edits, made on the day that NPG’s solicitors contacted Coetzee and drawn to the NPG’s attention by Wikinews, are currently the subject of an internal investigation within the NPG.

Coetzee published the contents of the letter on Saturday July 11, the letter itself being dated the previous day. It had been sent electronically to an email address associated with his Wikimedia Commons user account. The NPG’s solicitors had mailed the letter from an account in the name “Amisquitta”. This account was blocked shortly after by a user with access to the user blocking tool, citing a long standing Wikipedia policy that the making of legal threats and creation of a hostile environment is generally inconsistent with editing access and is an inappropriate means of resolving user disputes.

The policy, initially created on Commons’ sister website in June 2004, is also intended to protect all parties involved in a legal dispute, by ensuring that their legal communications go through proper channels, and not through a wiki that is open to editing by other members of the public. It was originally formulated primarily to address legal action for libel. In October 2004 it was noted that there was “no consensus” whether legal threats related to copyright infringement would be covered but by the end of 2006 the policy had reached a consensus that such threats (as opposed to polite complaints) were not compatible with editing access while a legal matter was unresolved. Commons’ own website states that “[accounts] used primarily to create a hostile environment for another user may be blocked”.

In a further response, Gregory Maxwell, a volunteer administrator on Wikimedia Commons, made a formal request to the editorial community that Coetzee’s access to administrator tools on Commons should be revoked due to the prevailing circumstances. Maxwell noted that Coetzee “[did] not have the technically ability to permanently delete images”, but stated that Coetzee’s potential legal situation created a conflict of interest.

Sixteen minutes after Maxwell’s request, Coetzee’s “administrator” privileges were removed by a user in response to the request. Coetzee retains “administrator” privileges on the English-language Wikipedia, since none of the images exist on Wikipedia’s own website and therefore no conflict of interest exists on that site.

Legally, the central issue upon which the case depends is that copyright laws vary between countries. Under United States case law, where both the website and Coetzee are located, a photograph of a non-copyrighted two-dimensional picture (such as a very old portrait) is not capable of being copyrighted, and it may be freely distributed and used by anyone. Under UK law that point has not yet been decided, and the Gallery’s solicitors state that such photographs could potentially be subject to copyright in that country.

One major legal point upon which a case would hinge, should the NPG proceed to court, is a question of originality. The U.K.’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines in ¶ 1(a) that copyright is a right that subsists in “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works” (emphasis added). The legal concept of originality here involves the simple origination of a work from an author, and does not include the notions of novelty or innovation that is often associated with the non-legal meaning of the word.

Whether an exact photographic reproduction of a work is an original work will be a point at issue. The NPG asserts that an exact photographic reproduction of a copyrighted work in another medium constitutes an original work, and this would be the basis for its action against Coetzee. This view has some support in U.K. case law. The decision of Walter v Lane held that exact transcriptions of speeches by journalists, in shorthand on reporter’s notepads, were original works, and thus copyrightable in themselves. The opinion by Hugh Laddie, Justice Laddie, in his book The Modern Law of Copyright, points out that photographs lie on a continuum, and that photographs can be simple copies, derivative works, or original works:

“[…] it is submitted that a person who makes a photograph merely by placing a drawing or painting on the glass of a photocopying machine and pressing the button gets no copyright at all; but he might get a copyright if he employed skill and labour in assembling the thing to be photocopied, as where he made a montage.”

Various aspects of this continuum have already been explored in the courts. Justice Neuberger, in the decision at v Rodney Fitch & Co. held that a photograph of a three-dimensional object would be copyrightable if some exercise of judgement of the photographer in matters of angle, lighting, film speed, and focus were involved. That exercise would create an original work. Justice Oliver similarly held, in Interlego v Tyco Industries, that “[i]t takes great skill, judgement and labour to produce a good copy by painting or to produce an enlarged photograph from a positive print, but no-one would reasonably contend that the copy, painting, or enlargement was an ‘original’ artistic work in which the copier is entitled to claim copyright. Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”.

In 2000 the Museums Copyright Group, a copyright lobbying group, commissioned a report and legal opinion on the implications of the Bridgeman case for the UK, which stated:

“Revenue raised from reproduction fees and licensing is vital to museums to support their primary educational and curatorial objectives. Museums also rely on copyright in photographs of works of art to protect their collections from inaccurate reproduction and captioning… as a matter of principle, a photograph of an artistic work can qualify for copyright protection in English law”. The report concluded by advocating that “museums must continue to lobby” to protect their interests, to prevent inferior quality images of their collections being distributed, and “not least to protect a vital source of income”.

Several people and organizations in the U.K. have been awaiting a test case that directly addresses the issue of copyrightability of exact photographic reproductions of works in other media. The commonly cited legal case Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. found that there is no originality where the aim and the result is a faithful and exact reproduction of the original work. The case was heard twice in New York, once applying UK law and once applying US law. It cited the prior UK case of Interlego v Tyco Industries (1988) in which Lord Oliver stated that “Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”

“What is important about a drawing is what is visually significant and the re-drawing of an existing drawing […] does not make it an original artistic work, however much labour and skill may have gone into the process of reproduction […]”

The Interlego judgement had itself drawn upon another UK case two years earlier, Coca-Cola Go’s Applications, in which the House of Lords drew attention to the “undesirability” of plaintiffs seeking to expand intellectual property law beyond the purpose of its creation in order to create an “undeserving monopoly”. It commented on this, that “To accord an independent artistic copyright to every such reproduction would be to enable the period of artistic copyright in what is, essentially, the same work to be extended indefinitely… “

The Bridgeman case concluded that whether under UK or US law, such reproductions of copyright-expired material were not capable of being copyrighted.

The unsuccessful plaintiff, Bridgeman Art Library, stated in 2006 in written evidence to the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport that it was “looking for a similar test case in the U.K. or Europe to fight which would strengthen our position”.

The National Portrait Gallery is a non-departmental public body based in London England and sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Founded in 1856, it houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. The gallery contains more than 11,000 portraits and 7,000 light-sensitive works in its Primary Collection, 320,000 in the Reference Collection, over 200,000 pictures and negatives in the Photographs Collection and a library of around 35,000 books and manuscripts. (More on the National Portrait Gallery here)

The gallery’s solicitors are Farrer & Co LLP, of London. Farrer’s clients have notably included the British Royal Family, in a case related to extracts from letters sent by Diana, Princess of Wales which were published in a book by ex-butler Paul Burrell. (In that case, the claim was deemed unlikely to succeed, as the extracts were not likely to be in breach of copyright law.)

Farrer & Co have close ties with industry interest groups related to copyright law. Peter Wienand, Head of Intellectual Property at Farrer & Co., is a member of the Executive body of the Museums Copyright Group, which is chaired by Tom Morgan, Head of Rights and Reproductions at the National Portrait Gallery. The Museums Copyright Group acts as a lobbying organization for “the interests and activities of museums and galleries in the area of [intellectual property rights]”, which reacted strongly against the Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. case.

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of images, media, and other material free for use by anyone in the world. It is operated by a community of 21,000 active volunteers, with specialist rights such as deletion and blocking restricted to around 270 experienced users in the community (known as “administrators”) who are trusted by the community to use them to enact the wishes and policies of the community. Commons is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a charitable body whose mission is to make available free knowledge and historic and other material which is legally distributable under US law. (More on Commons here)

The legal threat also sparked discussions of moral issues and issues of public policy in several Internet discussion fora, including Slashdot, over the weekend. One major public policy issue relates to how the public domain should be preserved.

Some of the public policy debate over the weekend has echoed earlier opinions presented by Kenneth Hamma, the executive director for Digital Policy at the J. Paul Getty Trust. Writing in D-Lib Magazine in November 2005, Hamma observed:

“Art museums and many other collecting institutions in this country hold a trove of public-domain works of art. These are works whose age precludes continued protection under copyright law. The works are the result of and evidence for human creativity over thousands of years, an activity museums celebrate by their very existence. For reasons that seem too frequently unexamined, many museums erect barriers that contribute to keeping quality images of public domain works out of the hands of the general public, of educators, and of the general milieu of creativity. In restricting access, art museums effectively take a stand against the creativity they otherwise celebrate. This conflict arises as a result of the widely accepted practice of asserting rights in the images that the museums make of the public domain works of art in their collections.”

He also stated:

“This resistance to free and unfettered access may well result from a seemingly well-grounded concern: many museums assume that an important part of their core business is the acquisition and management of rights in art works to maximum return on investment. That might be true in the case of the recording industry, but it should not be true for nonprofit institutions holding public domain art works; it is not even their secondary business. Indeed, restricting access seems all the more inappropriate when measured against a museum’s mission — a responsibility to provide public access. Their charitable, financial, and tax-exempt status demands such. The assertion of rights in public domain works of art — images that at their best closely replicate the values of the original work — differs in almost every way from the rights managed by the recording industry. Because museums and other similar collecting institutions are part of the private nonprofit sector, the obligation to treat assets as held in public trust should replace the for-profit goal. To do otherwise, undermines the very nature of what such institutions were created to do.”

Hamma observed in 2005 that “[w]hile examples of museums chasing down digital image miscreants are rare to non-existent, the expectation that museums might do so has had a stultifying effect on the development of digital image libraries for teaching and research.”

The NPG, which has been taking action with respect to these images since at least 2005, is a public body. It was established by Act of Parliament, the current Act being the Museums and Galleries Act 1992. In that Act, the NPG Board of Trustees is charged with maintaining “a collection of portraits of the most eminent persons in British history, of other works of art relevant to portraiture and of documents relating to those portraits and other works of art”. It also has the tasks of “secur[ing] that the portraits are exhibited to the public” and “generally promot[ing] the public’s enjoyment and understanding of portraiture of British persons and British history through portraiture both by means of the Board’s collection and by such other means as they consider appropriate”.

Several commentators have questioned how the NPG’s statutory goals align with its threat of legal action. Mike Masnick, founder of Techdirt, asked “The people who run the Gallery should be ashamed of themselves. They ought to go back and read their own mission statement[. …] How, exactly, does suing someone for getting those portraits more attention achieve that goal?” (external link Masnick’s). L. Sutherland of Bigmouthmedia asked “As the paintings of the NPG technically belong to the nation, does that mean that they should also belong to anyone that has access to a computer?”

Other public policy debates that have been sparked have included the applicability of U.K. courts, and U.K. law, to the actions of a U.S. citizen, residing in the U.S., uploading files to servers hosted in the U.S.. Two major schools of thought have emerged. Both see the issue as encroachment of one legal system upon another. But they differ as to which system is encroaching. One view is that the free culture movement is attempting to impose the values and laws of the U.S. legal system, including its case law such as Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., upon the rest of the world. Another view is that a U.K. institution is attempting to control, through legal action, the actions of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

David Gerard, former Press Officer for Wikimedia UK, the U.K. chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, which has been involved with the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest to create free content photographs of exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum, stated on Slashdot that “The NPG actually acknowledges in their letter that the poster’s actions were entirely legal in America, and that they’re making a threat just because they think they can. The Wikimedia community and the WMF are absolutely on the side of these public domain images remaining in the public domain. The NPG will be getting radioactive publicity from this. Imagine the NPG being known to American tourists as somewhere that sues Americans just because it thinks it can.”

Benjamin Crowell, a physics teacher at Fullerton College in California, stated that he had received a letter from the Copyright Officer at the NPG in 2004, with respect to the picture of the portrait of Isaac Newton used in his physics textbooks, that he publishes in the U.S. under a free content copyright licence, to which he had replied with a pointer to Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp..

The Wikimedia Foundation takes a similar stance. Erik Möller, the Deputy Director of the US-based Wikimedia Foundation wrote in 2008 that “we’ve consistently held that faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works which are nothing more than reproductions should be considered public domain for licensing purposes”.

Contacted over the weekend, the NPG issued a statement to Wikinews:

“The National Portrait Gallery is very strongly committed to giving access to its Collection. In the past five years the Gallery has spent around £1 million digitising its Collection to make it widely available for study and enjoyment. We have so far made available on our website more than 60,000 digital images, which have attracted millions of users, and we believe this extensive programme is of great public benefit.
“The Gallery supports Wikipedia in its aim of making knowledge widely available and we would be happy for the site to use our low-resolution images, sufficient for most forms of public access, subject to safeguards. However, in March 2009 over 3000 high-resolution files were appropriated from the National Portrait Gallery website and published on Wikipedia without permission.
“The Gallery is very concerned that potential loss of licensing income from the high-resolution files threatens its ability to reinvest in its digitisation programme and so make further images available. It is one of the Gallery’s primary purposes to make as much of the Collection available as possible for the public to view.
“Digitisation involves huge costs including research, cataloguing, conservation and highly-skilled photography. Images then need to be made available on the Gallery website as part of a structured and authoritative database. To date, Wikipedia has not responded to our requests to discuss the issue and so the National Portrait Gallery has been obliged to issue a lawyer’s letter. The Gallery remains willing to enter into a dialogue with Wikipedia.

In fact, Matthew Bailey, the Gallery’s (then) Assistant Picture Library Manager, had already once been in a similar dialogue. Ryan Kaldari, an amateur photographer from Nashville, Tennessee, who also volunteers at the Wikimedia Commons, states that he was in correspondence with Bailey in October 2006. In that correspondence, according to Kaldari, he and Bailey failed to conclude any arrangement.

Jay Walsh, the Head of Communications for the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the Commons, called the gallery’s actions “unfortunate” in the Foundation’s statement, issued on Tuesday July 14:

“The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. To that end, we have very productive working relationships with a number of galleries, archives, museums and libraries around the world, who join with us to make their educational materials available to the public.
“The Wikimedia Foundation does not control user behavior, nor have we reviewed every action taken by that user. Nonetheless, it is our general understanding that the user in question has behaved in accordance with our mission, with the general goal of making public domain materials available via our Wikimedia Commons project, and in accordance with applicable law.”

The Foundation added in its statement that as far as it was aware, the NPG had not attempted “constructive dialogue”, and that the volunteer community was presently discussing the matter independently.

In part, the lack of past agreement may have been because of a misunderstanding by the National Portrait Gallery of Commons and Wikipedia’s free content mandate; and of the differences between Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia Commons, and the individual volunteer workers who participate on the various projects supported by the Foundation.

Like Coetzee, Ryan Kaldari is a volunteer worker who does not represent Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Commons. (Such representation is impossible. Both Wikipedia and the Commons are endeavours supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, and not organizations in themselves.) Nor, again like Coetzee, does he represent the Wikimedia Foundation.

Kaldari states that he explained the free content mandate to Bailey. Bailey had, according to copies of his messages provided by Kaldari, offered content to Wikipedia (naming as an example the photograph of John Opie‘s 1797 portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose copyright term has since expired) but on condition that it not be free content, but would be subject to restrictions on its distribution that would have made it impossible to use by any of the many organizations that make use of Wikipedia articles and the Commons repository, in the way that their site-wide “usable by anyone” licences ensures.

The proposed restrictions would have also made it impossible to host the images on Wikimedia Commons. The image of the National Portrait Gallery in this article, above, is one such free content image; it was provided and uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence, and is thus able to be used and republished not only on Wikipedia but also on Wikinews, on other Wikimedia Foundation projects, as well as by anyone in the world, subject to the terms of the GFDL, a license that guarantees attribution is provided to the creators of the image.

As Commons has grown, many other organizations have come to different arrangements with volunteers who work at the Wikimedia Commons and at Wikipedia. For example, in February 2009, fifteen international museums including the Brooklyn Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum established a month-long competition where users were invited to visit in small teams and take high quality photographs of their non-copyright paintings and other exhibits, for upload to Wikimedia Commons and similar websites (with restrictions as to equipment, required in order to conserve the exhibits), as part of the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest.

Approached for comment by Wikinews, Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, said “It’s pretty clear that these images themselves should be in the public domain. There is a clear public interest in making sure paintings and other works are usable by anyone once their term of copyright expires. This is what US courts have recognised, whatever the situation in UK law.”

The Digital Britain report, issued by the U.K.’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport in June 2009, stated that “Public cultural institutions like Tate, the Royal Opera House, the RSC, the Film Council and many other museums, libraries, archives and galleries around the country now reach a wider public online.” Culture minster Ben Bradshaw was also approached by Wikinews for comment on the public policy issues surrounding the on-line availability of works in the public domain held in galleries, re-raised by the NPG’s threat of legal action, but had not responded by publication time.

St. Anthony Foundation provides hope

Friday, September 23, 2005

On the corner of Golden Gate Ave. and Jones St. in the Tenderloin, San Francisco, right next to the Civic Center you can see a throng of low-income and homeless people lining up outside of St. Anthony’s Dining Room hall which opens up it’s doors everyday at 11:30 a.m. Volunteers dressed in St. Anthony Foundation shirts help keep the lines moving as hundreds of homeless and low income people shuffle their way towards the dining hall underneath the watchful eyes of a small statue of St. Francis of Assisi.

“There’s a lot of people who go hungry out here and it ain’t right.” says Jimmy Scott, a slightly brawny 44-year-old black man who has been living homeless in San Francisco for the past three years. “There are families out here with kids and everything and they have to walk around all night just to stay awake so they don’t get hurt or killed…Right here in the U.S. this is going on…it ain’t right.”

The dining hall, which has been open for the past 54 years, is owned by the St. Anthony Foundation which helps low income and homeless people and families in the Civic Center, Tenderloin, and SOMA areas with clothing, shelter, food, drug rehabilitation, and many other services. St. Anthony’s administrative offices are found at 121 Golden Gate Ave. with the majority of the foundation’s buildings on Golden Gate Ave. and Jones St.

“We are right in the heart of the homeless population of San Francisco,” says Barry Stenger, 55, who’s been working for the St. Anthony Foundation for one year, and is the Director of Development and Communications, “and people are pushed here because of the economic forces of San Francisco because it’s hard to be upper middle class in San Francisco.”

According to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, “San Francisco’s cost of living remains one of the highest in the country” with the average household income in San Francisco being around $76,400 and the average price of housing being $543,000. Average household income for the United States in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was $42,409 and the average price of housing for the United States according to the National Association of Realtors was $185,200 in 2004.

“We served our 32 millionth meal on Tuesday,” said Stenger, “and we serve 2,500 meals a day. Some of our people who work here actually get served [food] here because they spend all their money towards rent and medical costs.”

The St. Anthony Foundation was started by Fr. Alfred Boeddeker in 1950 one year after Fr. Boeddeker became pastor of St. Boniface church on Golden Gate St. where he was baptized as a child. During his lifetime, according to the foundation’s website, he was referred to as the “Patron St. of the Tenderloin” and had Boeddeker park named after him because of his, and his foundation’s, achievements with helping out the homeless and low income community.

“[St. Anthony’s] is a good thing,” said Jimmy Scott, “they provide a good service and they feed people and they clothe them and provide furniture when you get housing and give you groceries when you have AIDS. It’s a good little organization.”

“Our dining room is open 365 days a year.” Said Stenger. “Our other facilities are open seven days a week. We have a residence for senior women and our [free medical] clinic is open five days a week and we also have a furniture and clothing store. We have 12 programs all together.”

Some of those programs are the Father Alfred Center which provides 61 men two programs for getting out of drug and alcohol abuse, the Employment Program/Learning Center which helps participants in educational and employment opportunities and provides each one with a personal staff advisor, and a Senior Outreach and Support Services center which states its mission is to “promote independence, self determination, and alleviate isolation” for seniors who are 60 and older.

A few homeless people who were interviewed complained that St. Anthony’s had some staff who were rude and that they were kicked out of the dining hall; other homeless within the area refuted those claims saying St. Anthony’s has nice staff and only kicks people out who cause trouble.

“It’s a good place and good people. Everybody is so kind and so respectful and everything is under control.” Said John Henderson, a tall and skinny 57-year-old homeless black man who has only been living in San Francisco for close to two months because he recently moved there from Phoenix, Arizona. “It’s pretty cool because they’re under control because yesterday I saw at Glide [Memorial Church which also has services for the poor and low income] and they were handing out food boxes and people were just rushing in and the woman in charge there was freaking out and so she just sat down. That would never happen at St. Anthony’s.”

“And they clean too!” Henderson said laughing with a grin on his face referring to the fact that there are no drugs allowed in the premises. “Not that Glide ain’t clean if you know what I mean.”

“We [also] have a whole division that deals with justice education and advocacy to change the system that brings people to our doorstep.” Said Stenger. “We hear a lot of appreciation from the people we serve. We get a lot of testimony from our clients who have become clean and sober. Sometimes we have to push them a little to get them out the door because they love the [foundation] so much because it has changed their lives.”

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

BBC announces pay freeze and no bonuses for managers

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More than 400 senior managers within the United Kingdom’s BBC, which employs around 28,500 people, have been told that they face a real-terms pay cut as bonuses and pay rises are scrapped this financial year.

Tuesday’s announcement said that bonuses will not now be paid and pay rates will stay fixed until 2010. The BBC’s executive management board, including Director-General Mark Thompson, his deputy Mark Byford and the Director of BBC Vision Jana Bennett did not take their bonuses for 2009 and have already had their pay frozen. Senior staff will have their bonus plan abandoned whilst junior staff have been told to expect any pay increases to be modest.

The BBC is under budget constraints after receiving a licence fee settlement below the amount management felt it required. Coupled with the effects of the credit crunch, the BBC is believed to need to find £1.7bn in savings between now and 2013 but has seen a further £450m shortfall develop. Initial plans to sell important BBC buildings have been put on hold since the falls in the property market in 2008. The planned pay freeze could save £20 million but risks angering unions who are seeking a general increase of £1,800 per person. Gerry Morrissey of BECTU, the broadcasting union, has already mentioned the possibility of industrial action. He told Sky News, “We have never been in favour of bonuses being paid so believe this should happen every year, and the money go towards eradicating low pay.”

The Press Association quotes Mark Thompson as telling staff “A strategic contingency exercise, led by a senior group of managers, has been looking at what additional funds are needed should we need to put aside additional funds to cover our current estimate of the financial risks we face… We need to be in as strong a position as possible if we are to deliver distinctive content and meet our key strategic projects, such as moving to the new Broadcasting House, moving network production to the nations and funding our broadband future.”

The pay freeze will not affect the Corporation’s highest paid on-air talent, who are on individual contracts.

Why Should You Use Sunscreen?}

Submitted by: Olex Webseo

When it comes to your beauty regime, whether you buy sunscreen online or just buy them from the store near you, one of the most important things to include in your kit is sunscreen. Sunscreen is one of the most important items that you can use on a daily basis because it greatly determines how your skin will not only look but ultimately also the way that your skin will age with time. Therefore, this is certainly one product that you should not skip over no matter what. Here are some compelling reasons why you should use sunscreen on a regular basis:

There is a proven link between sunscreen and prevention of skin cance

Did you know that skin cancer is one of the kinds of cancers that is on the rise and is extremely harmful? This kind of cancer is extremely common and it can occur without leaving sure shot signs around your body. Many times, by the time people actually realize that they have skin cancer, it is almost always a little too late and there is nothing much that is left to do beyond that.

Therefore, it is important to use sunscreen because it prevents skin cancer from occurring by protecting your skin from harmful external elements such as the sun in the first place.

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You can avoid getting skin discolorations or dark spots on your face

Dark spots are one of the most common beauty concerns when it comes to women and these are caused by the sun and harmful environmental factors as well.

Often, they also lead to a certain amount of discoloration on your face which will make it look slightly odd and patchy. Many women use sunscreen only to avoid all of these hassles as sunscreen prevents dark spots from occurring and also prevents discolorations from occurring as well. With the help of this product, you can ensure that your skin stays looking young, fresh and extremely beautiful. You can always buy sunscreen online so that you can protect your skin.

It slows down wrinkles as well!

One of the best and most relevant things about this product is that it slows down the growth or development of wrinkles. This is mainly because the harsh rays of the sun as well as all the physical external factors of the environment around you, such as pollution and dirt, can really take a huge toll on your skin, which can lead to it not being able to heal from the all the damage it has endured and ageing on a premature basis. Therefore, by using sunscreen, you can make sure that your skin does not wrinkle too easily and you can go on looking young and fresh faced every day.

Sunscreen is, therefore, one of the most important products that you can have when it comes to taking care of your skin and ensuring that it stays looking its best at all times. Never leave your home without it.

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Kenya government fires health worker strikers over failure to ‘report back to work’

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Kenyan government has dismissed 25,000 striking health workers, mostly nurses, citing failure to heed government orders to recommence work and concern for the welfare of hospital patients. Speaking on behalf of the government, Alfred Mutua stated the workers were dismissed “illegally striking” and “[defying] the directive … to report back to work”, which he called “unethical”. The government asks that “[a]ll qualified health professionals, who are unemployed and/or retired have been advised to report to their nearest health facility for interviews and deployment”, Mutua stated.

The workers, who had been on strike for four days, were wishing to have improvements made to their wages, working conditions, and allowances. The strikes have caused a significant number of Kenyan hospitals to cease operations. According to Kenya Health Professionals Society spokesperson Alex Orina, the average monthly wage plus allowances for health workers in Kenya is KSh25,000 (£193, US$302 or €230) approximately. With an increasing number of reports of patients neglected in hospitals emerging, two trade unions met with the Kenyan government yesterday and negotitated a return to work, although a significant proportion of demonstrators defied the agreement, The Guardian reported.

Orina told Reuters the dismissals were “cat-and-mouse games, you cannot sack an entire workforce. It is a ploy to get us to rush back to work, but our strike continues until our demands are met”. Frederick Omiah, a member of the same society, believed the government’s actions would “make an already delicate and volatile situation worse”, expressing concern that demonstrations may continue in the capital Nairobi, amongst other locations. Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union chairperson Dr. Victor Ng’ani described government actions as “reckless”.

Mutua said the health workers were “no longer employees of the government” and had been eliminated from the payroll. While Ng’ani told the BBC of difficulties with finding other workers as skilled and experienced, Mutua reportedly stated that this would not be an issue. “We have over 100,000 to 200,000 health professionals looking for work today,” Mutua commented. “There will be a lag of a day or two … but it is better than letting people die on the floor, at the gate, or suffer in pain”.

Former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian released on bail

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Taiwan’s former President, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), has been conditionally released on bail, some ten hours after he was indicted for corruption. Speaking to media at the Taipei District Court, he said: “I want to thank my lawyers, members of the Democratic Progressive Party and my supporters who have given me huge encouragement. I am grateful to those who cared for, supported and looked after me so I could get through the hardest and loneliest 32 days of my life in prison.” He earns the historical distinction of being the first ex-president of the Republic of China to be indicted for criminal offenses and could suffer life imprisonment if convicted.

Along with 13 other family members and close associates, including his wheelchair-bound wife, son Chen Chih-Chung, and daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching, Chen was indicted Friday on charges of embezzling government funds and laundering money or ill-gotten bribes. The panel of three judges ruled he should appear at future court hearings and must not leave the country nor change his address.

Prosecutor Lin Che-hui accused Chen of having “embezzled 104 million New Taiwan dollars ($3.12 million) from a special presidential fund, and received bribes of $11.73 million in connection with a government land procurement deal and a separate construction project; the damning piece of evidence was the presence of NT$740 million ($22.2 million) in cash stashed in a Taipei bank safety vault held by the Chens.” Yuanta Securities director Tu Li-ping said, “she hand delivered NT$200 million ($6 million) in cash to Wu at the presidential residence in 2006 on behalf of executives of an affiliated bank; the money was an incentive for Wu not to interfere with a merger the bank was pursuing.”

Chen insists on his innocence. Contradicting the 100-page indictment, he said that “the $21 million his wife wired to their son’s Swiss bank accounts came from leftover campaign donations. Taiwanese law permits such donations to be kept by political candidates.”

In 1975, Chen married Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍), the daughter of a physician. The couple has a daughter, Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤), who is a dentist; and a son, Chen Chih-Chung (陳致中), who, having received a law degree in Taiwan, studied at and graduated with a M.A. degree from the University of California in 2005.

In November 2006, Chen’s wife Wu Shu-chen and three other high ranking officials of the Presidential Office were indicted for corruption, charged with misappropriating NT$14.8 million (USD$450,000) of government funds using falsified documents. Due to the protection from the Constitution against prosecution of the sitting president, Chen could not be prosecuted until he left office, and he was not indicted, but was alleged to be an accomplice on his wife’s indictment.

Chen’s term as President of the Republic of China ended in May 2008. Immediately thereafter, prosecutors began investigating him regarding allegations that he misused his discretionary “state affairs fund”, as well as his connection to the first family’s money-laundering activities. He resigned from the Democratic Progressive Party on August 15, 2008, one day after admitting to falsifying past campaign expenses and wiring campaign contributions to overseas accounts.

In November 2008, Chen was escorted by a security staff, into the Taipei prosecutor’s office for questioning. After 6 hours, he left the Supreme Court prosecutor`s office in handcuffs, was arrested and detained. The charges each carry a minimum penalty of 5 years imprisonment. Following a 6 day hunger strike while in detention, Chen collapsed and was rushed to Taipei’s Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, where he was later transferred to Panchiao Hospital for force-feeding. Despite Chen’s lack of interest in appealing, his lawyer Cheng Wen-long completed a motion seeking his release from detention and filed a notice of appeal of the court’s decision, along with a petition for constitutional interpretation to restrain actions violative of the Constitution.

Prosecutor General, Chen Tsung-ming said that after Chen’s case had been removed to the Taipei Local Court, he would re-file a petition for Chen’s detention. Chen and the main opposition DPP have accused President Ma Ying-jeou‘s administration of “using the scandals to plan a political plot against the former leader.”

Meanwhile, The Straits Times reported that “prosecutors are to investigate former President of the Republic of China and Chairman of the Kuomintang from 1988 to 2000, Lee Teng-hui on suspicion of money laundering, based on allegations made by Chen during his own questioning recently that his predecessor transferred large funds abroad through dummy accounts.” Mr. Lee angrily denied the accusations concerning “a suspected transfer of 50 million Taiwan dollars (US$2.26 million) to Mr Lee from a local stock investor via overseas dummy accounts.” Charges also included transactions made at the end of Lee’s tenure and at the beginning of Chen’s term, including “one billion Taiwan dollars that had been wired to various countries including Singapore.”

The China Post calls for calm and urges fair trial for Chen. “All the people should wait patiently for the outcome of the trial … They shouldn’t do anything to influence the judges in any way, because the rule of law in Taiwan is at stake. We should show the world that Taiwan is a democracy where anybody who commits a crime, be he a man on the street or a former president, is duly punished.” it said.

Former Timberwolf Eddie Griffin dies at 25

Friday, August 24, 2007

Former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Eddie Griffin died on August 17, 2007, at age 25 due to injuries sustained in a car crash, the Harris County medical examiner’s office confirmed on Tuesday.

The former Minnesota Timberwolves forward, who was waived in March for violating the League’s substance abuse program, ignored a railroad warning, drove his SUV through a barrier, and collided with a moving train at about 1:30 a.m., according to Houston Police. His vehicle caught fire and was soon engulfed in flames.

No identification was found and the body was badly burned. For that reason, dental records were used to identify him. Griffin, who played college Basketball at Seton Hall University, played for the Houston Rockets from 2001–2003, and the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2004–2007. The five-year veteran had been battling alcoholism since leaving Seton Hall. He is survived by his three-year-old daughter Amaree.

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Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.