Saturday, October 30, 2004

Diana's fund to face trial on BBC perhaps!

Diana's Fund to face 'trial by television'
By Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter
Filed: 31/10/2004)

The charity set up to honour Diana, Princess of Wales is facing a "trial by television" as its £15 million legal battle with an American souvenir company begins this week.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund is being sued for "malicious prosecution" by the company, Franklin Mint. The hearing, opening in Los Angeles on Friday, is expected to last three weeks.

This weekend, court officials told The Telegraph that the BBC has applied to Judge John P Shook to televise the hearing. If the application is successful the hearing will be seen by a worldwide audience of tens of millions, increasing the pressure on the trustees, who have been accused by critics of squandering millions of pounds. Requests to televise court hearings are usually looked upon favourably by United States judges.

Those under most scrutiny are Andrew Purkis, the fund's chief executive, and Anthony Julius, the solicitor who acted for the Princess in her divorce from the Prince of Wales and who is now a trustee of the fund.

Dr Purkis, who will appear as a witness at the hearing this week, yesterday attacked Stewart and Lynda Resnick, the wealthy owners of Franklin Mint, for bringing the "groundless" action.

The court is expected to listen to a "videotaped deposition" from Mr Julius in which he admits that as early as October 1997 - less than three months after the Princess died - the trustees agreed to target Franklin Mint to make an example of it and to discourage other companies from making unauthorised memorabilia. Court documents obtained by The Sunday Telegraph contain a transcript of Mr Julius confirming the accuracy of minutes of a meeting of trustees.

The fund was set up in 1997 shortly after the Princess's death in a car crash in Paris and, over the past seven years, has given more than £50 million in charitable gifts worldwide. However, on July 11 last year, it announced that it had frozen further gifts worth £48 million because of the legal action by Franklin Mint.

The fund first took legal action against Franklin Mint in 1998. It lost that action four years later at a cost of £4 million in joint legal bills. The fund is now being counter-sued for $25 million (£14.5 million) by the US company.

The Resnicks, who have given more than £25 million to charity in eight years, claim that their reputation and that of their company was unfairly maligned by the fund and its former US lawyers, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

The couple were incensed that they were accused of being "vultures feeding on the dead" and that they were "stealing" the Princess's name and likeness. In its claim, Franklin Mint says that royal souvenirs have been openly sold around the world for centuries without permission and that those of Diana were no exception.

Her death on August 31, 1997, "created massive consumer demand for Princess Diana memorabilia, which the Mint and hundreds of others attempted to service". Charitable commitments "as a means of honouring Princess Diana" had been scrupulously met.

In its own representation to the court, the fund says that trustees were "reluctant litigators" and had taken action - in good faith, without malice and after extensive legal advice - to protect "certain intellectual property rights of the Princess which had been licensed to the fund". Dr Purkis said the Mint's legal action had already cost the fund a further £2 million in legal fees. This is on top of the fund's £4 million losses from its earlier failed action.

"This case is unnecessary," he said. "The original action was all over and we paid out dues in full - a substantial award to the Resnicks and Franklin Mint. That should have been the end of the matter."

If successful, Franklin Mint has said that it will donate any proceeds to charitable causes linked to the Princess.

Those who are critical of the fund's original legal action against the company include Rosa Monckton, one of the Princess's closest friends. She has called for the fund to distribute its money and close. She said that the action in 1998 was "absolute insanity" and that the trustees now had only themselves to blame.
Millions expected at Red Sox parade; route extended into river
Class action targets cellphone 'access' fees

CTV.ca News Staff

Canada's four biggest cellphone carriers could lose their operating licences if a new class-action lawsuit proves they've misled customers about an add-on fee.

A class action suit has been filed naming CTV's parent company Bell, as well as Rogers, Telus and Fido operator Microcell. It alleges the carriers' monthly $7 "system access" fee is illegal.

According to a report in The Toronto Star, the claim came to light in quarterly financial reports released by Rogers Wireless Inc. and Microcell Telecommunications Inc. this week.

"The plaintiffs seek unquantified damages from the defendant wireless telecommunications service providers, plus costs and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest," Microcell said in its quarterly earnings report released Wednesday.

In the fine print, the phone companies say the charge pays for things like government licensing charges, contribution charges to help subsidize residential service in rural and remote areas, and to help pay for new equipment.

But the suit claims customers are being misled by companies claiming the fee is a mandatory stipend collected on the federal government's behalf. The fee is, in fact, an industry creation not required by Ottawa, the suit claims.

The carriers now risk breaching their licences if caught describing the fee as a mandatory government charge.

According to The Star, Canada's mobile phone operators will make more $800 million from the special fee this year.

Representatives from Rogers and Microcell told the paper they have good defences to the allegations. Telus and Bell declined to comment beyond confirming they are named in the suit.

All four carriers said the suit, which was filed in Saskatchewan on Aug. 9, has yet to be certified.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Open letter signed by 24 Olympians and Professional Athletes

To: Interested Parties
From: Bush-Cheney '04 Communications
Date: 10/21/04
Re: Letter Signed By 24 Olympians And
Professional Athletes Supporting
President Bush

Twenty-four Olympians and professional athletes have endorsed President Bush and signed the following letter expressing their support, noting, "In these critical times, our President has had the courage to stand up and do what's right. For that and for his unwavering character, we choose George W. Bush as our President for the next four years."

Open Letter Signed By 24 Olympians And Professional Athletes Supporting President Bush

To Our Fellow Americans:

We have given much thought to the values and characteristics that make a great athlete. Our lives have been spent trying to run farther, push further, and jump higher than the person beside us, or across the field of our chosen sport. With years of training and exhaustive competition beneath our belts, we have identified the values necessary to compete and win--values like personal strength, determination, a sense of fair play and faith.

The same qualities that make a great athlete make a great President--the determination to do what is right, regardless of the latest polls, the personal strength to bear the weight of the nation on your shoulders, and the faith that a higher power will direct the actions of good people.

We see in President Bush these same qualities.

In 2001, our nation was attacked without cause or provocation. The President's values saw us through those dark days after the terrorist attack. The economy was rocked by the dual blows of the terrorists' cowardly action and the reckless disregard of the rules by a few rogue executives.

But President Bush's decisive, principled leadership has moved America forward, and today our nation is safer and our economy is strong and getting stronger.

The fight against terrorism takes decisiveness. It takes continued support for our troops and first responders. But most importantly, it takes courage and inspirational leadership in the White House. In these critical times, our President has had the courage to stand up and do what's right.

For that and for his unwavering character, we choose George W. Bush as our President for the next four years. He is a leader we can depend on to make the tough decisions and the right decisions. Please join us in supporting a candidate of courage, President Bush--a leader who backs our troops defending our nation and shares our values.

Sincerely,

Emie Banks MLB Hall of Famer
Daniel Beery Olympic Gold Medalist, Rowing
Carlos Beltran MLB All-Star Centerfielder
Craig Biggio MLB All-Star Catcher & Second Baseman
Josh Davis Three-Time Olympic Gold Medalist, Swimming
Adam Dunn MLB All Star Left Fielder
John Elway NFL Hall of Famer
Bob Feller MLB Hall of Fame Pitcher
Natalie Golda Olympic Bronze Medalist, Water Polo
Matt Hasselbeck NFL Quarterback
Bernie Kosar NFL Quarterback, Ret.
Steve Largent NFL Hall of Famer
Karl Malone NBA All-Star & MVP Winner
Anthony Munoz NFL Hall of Famer
Jack Nicklaus PGA Tour Most Major Championship Titles
Mary Lou Retton Olympic Gold Medalist, Gymnastics
Dot Richardson Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist, Softball
Nolan Ryan MLB Hall of Fame Pitcher
Janet Lynn Salomon Olympic Bronze Medalist, Figure Skating
Chris Spielman NFL Linebacker, Ret.
Roger Staubach NFL Hall of Famer
Kerri Strug Olympic Gold Medalist, Gymnastics
Lynn Swann NFL Hall of Famer
Todd Walker MLB Second Baseman

(Corporate and organizational affiliations are listed for identification purposes only are not intended to imply any endorsement by the corporation or organization.)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

New York Post October 21 2004

JUDGE JOHN KERRY BY HIS RECORD

October 21, 2004 -- In 12 days, Americans will go to the polls to render a verdict on George W. Bush's presidency.

But Nov. 2 will not simply be a re ferendum on President Bush's leader ship. It is about the choice facing the nation — not just whether Bush deserves another term, but whether Sen. John F. Kerry provides an acceptable alternative.

The answer to the latter question is an emphatic no.

John Kerry comes out of the Democratic Party's elitist left wing, embracing values and goals that America has repudiated at the polls time and time again.

True, Kerry campaigns like a centrist. But his 20-year record in the Senate belies that flag of convenience.

Suffice it to say that John Kerry has rarely seen an expensive social program he didn't embrace — or a national-security initiative he could abide.

And long before he came to the Senate, Kerry made a national reputation as the spokesman for those whose solution to Vietnam was simply to run away. Moreover, he earned that rep by publicly slandering an entire generation of U.S. soldiers as — in his own words — "war criminals."

Now America faces a chal lenge unlike any it has ever before experienced: global Islamist terrorism.

But to Kerry, terrorism is a law-enforcement problem, to be fought like organized crime or gang violence. And — for all his equivocation on a pledge never to use military force unless its purpose meets a "global test" — his record suggests strongly that he meant precisely what he said the first time.

He first ran for office pledging that he'd "like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations" — and he's rarely strayed from that position.

Yet even when America put together a global coalition and United Nations endorsement to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991, Sen. Kerry actually led congressional opposition to that effort.

Once the war was being prosecuted successfully, however, Kerry started waving the flag — even praising the first President Bush's "moxie."

This time around, Kerry endorsed the removal of Saddam Hussein as a threat to America's security and voted to authorize the unilateral use of force.

Then, when the postwar picture grew complicated (and radical antiwar can didate Howard Dean seemed to be running away with the nomination), he turned against the war, voting against properly equipping supplying troops then in harm's way — explaining that he'd only meant to "authorize" the use of force, not actually to use it.

For two decades, he has voted to slash America's defense budget, eliminating vital weapons systems.

As recently as 1994 — just one year after the first World Trade Center bombing — he proposed mammoth cuts of the Pentagon and intelligence-agencies budgets. Many of Kerry's own Democratic colleagues took to the floor of Congress to warn that his cuts endangered America's security.

In the end, even Ted Kennedy voted against Kerry's proposed defense cuts as too drastic.

Yet, the following year, Kerry voted to freeze defense spending for seven years. The year after that, he introduced a bill to slash defense spending by a further $6.5 billion.

Today, Kerry campaigns as a deficit hawk, citing his support of the Reagan-era balanced-budget bill. At the time, however, he boasted that he only voted for the bill "to force the Reagan administration to cut defense spending."

John Kerry, in short, remains firmly in the throes of Vietnam syndrome, afraid to take the steps needed to protect America from threats to its security — and, even worse, tailoring his worldview to his current standing in the polls.

And, by the way, he now campaigns against the Patriot Act, calling it a threat to our civil liberties. Yet he voted in favor of that very same bill, too.

Little wonder, then, that John Kerry has spent almost no time on the campaign trail talking about his record. Because it's the skeleton in his closet — an endless litany of left-wing votes and proposals that refutes his headlong rush to the political center as Election Day draws near.

On domestic issues, the record is the same: Kerry's campaign pledges and pronouncements are totally contradicted by his 20-year performance as a legislator from Massachusetts. "I'm a liberal and proud of it," Kerry declared in 1991 — and nothing he's done in the Senate suggests otherwise.

He has voted consistently to raise taxes — though on other issues, he is consistently inconsistent: opposing the death penalty for terrorists in 1996, then supporting it in 2002; voting for the No Child Left Behind Act, then attacking it as a "mockery"; opposing work requirements for welfare recipients, then voting for welfare reform; saying he opposes litmus tests for federal judges, then vowing to impose one if he wins this year.

And at a time when soaring liability insurance costs — in the wake of sky-high jury verdicts — are threatening the U.S. health-care system, Kerry chose as his running-mate a multi-millionaire personal-injury lawyer who stands in the way of any meaningful tort reform.

Himself a multi-millionaire by marriage, Kerry unconvincingly pretends to champion the struggling middle-class even as his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, derides the work experience of Laura Bush — a former schoolteacher and librarian and a full-time mother.

"I don't know that she's ever had a real job, I mean, since she's been grown up," Heinz Kerry told USA Today — a remark for which she quickly apologized.

Ultimately, however, there is one over- riding issue in this campaign: the War on Terror.

That much became clear — to everyone, it seems, except John Kerry — in the ashes of the World Trade Center.

For most Americans, 9/11 changed the way this nation needs to think about external threats and national security.

But for John Kerry, still stuck emotionally in the Vietnam quagmire, it appears that there were no lessons to be learned.

Which is why America can't afford John Kerry as president.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Diana charity faces 14 million pound lawsuit in USA

Diana charity faces £14m lawsuit in US

KATE FOSTER
kfoster@scotlandonsunday.com


THE Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was last night facing a £14m crisis after a US firm was given the go-ahead to sue the charity for damages.

A Californian judge ruled an American souvenir firm could sue the beleaguered fund for compensation, the latest step in a long-running row over Diana memorabilia.

The Memorial Fund is being sued by the Franklin Mint over a failed legal bid six years ago to stop it producing Diana dolls, plates and other souvenirs. That left the charity with a £4m legal bill and the Franklin Mint is now counter-suing for malicious prosecution in the original case, which could mean the charity having to pay £14m in damages plus a second legal bill.

The long-running legal battle between the two has seen the Fund freeze all grants to charitable sources.

Yesterday, Andrew Purkis, chief executive of the Memorial Fund, insisted the action was "groundless and implausible" and insisted he was looking forward to the resolution of the case. The legal action will be heard on November 5.

Purkis said: "We are pleased that the damaging period of waiting will soon be over and we have full confidence in the great strength of our defence.

"We regret the waste of time and energy caused, and the interruption of much-needed humanitarian work among some of the world’s and the UK’s most vulnerable people."

The Franklin Mint could not be contacted yesterday but it has previously insisted the charity should be held accountable for its "bad behaviour".

Last year, a spokesman for Franklin Mint insisted the Fund had fought a "suicidal" legal action and should be held responsible.

The company has pledged that any money it receives from the latest legal action will go to charity.

The Diana Memorial Fund was set up in 1997 to channel £19m worth of gifts, donated during the outpouring of grief after Diana’s death in a Paris car crash, and £37m raised by Sir Elton John’s song ‘Candle in the Wind ’97’ into humanitarian projects.

The row began when the Memorial Fund accused the Franklin Mint of commercially exploiting the identity of the princess and falsely implying that its products would benefit her estate.

The charity embarked on the case claiming it had a duty to protect Diana's image, name and likeness from use on unauthorised merchandise. It accused Franklin Mint, owned by the Los Angeles-based billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick, of acting "like vultures feeding on the dead".

After that case finished, Franklin Mint said the Fund appeared to have sacrificed the welfare of its good causes to pursue the claim. It has defended its decision to pursue the case for compensation, insisting it is not a not a matter of money but principle.

It has also criticised the Fund for freezing grants to 127 beneficiaries and claimed it has been the victim of the "most nasty PR campaign" by the Fund.

The Memorial Fund stopped giving grants to projects last year as part of its fight against Franklin but said it had secured replacement funding so that no project collapsed. It has £48m in the bank.

Causes, including HIV/Aids treatment centres and landmine clearance projects, charities which were championed by Diana, are under threat because of the financial situation.

About 120 voluntary groups could be affected while 500 jobs at the Fund and its beneficiaries are under threat. A third of its staff have already stopped working for the Fund.

A spokeswoman for the Fund said they had secured an extra £6m to support ongoing projects while legal proceedings were underway. The ruling means the Fund will continue its freeze on grants to charities.

Evidence submitted to the Los Angeles court last month revealed the attorney-general rapidly developed serious doubts about the merits of the case against the Franklin Mint. Papers also showed the princess’s sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, president of the Fund, and the trustees believed they had been "misled" by their US legal adviser.

Last night a spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: "It is always a shame when charities of this stature that have done such good work run into difficulties.

"Our advice is that voluntary organisations exercise great care before embarking on litigation.

"This is especially bad news as this is a high-profile charity with an international reputation for supporting hard-to-fund projects and an impressive track record of helping thousands of vulnerable beneficiaries.

"The Commission has given advice and guidance to the Fund throughout the proceedings but, ultimately, decisions about running the charity remain with the trustees.

"There are cases where charities have no choice but to got to court to protect their reputations. But this long-running case highlights the serious consequences that may arise from going to court, especially when the legal battle is joined with litigators overseas.

"The Commission will do what it can to support the charity and we very much hope that the Fund succeeds in its bid to keep its programmes running."