Fifteen flu sufferers die in Wales in one week

Friday, January 14, 2011

Over the course of the last week, fifteen people who have suffered from influenza have died in Wales, as reported to the Welsh Assembly Government. The total amount of flu-related deaths in Wales since October 2010 has now increased to 27.

Despite the slight increase in the clinical consultation rate for influenza this week compared to the previous week, the rate of consultations for flu-like illness in Wales still remains within the levels of normal seasonal flu activity.

On Tuesday, 49 people were being treated in critical care beds in hospitals around Wales, according to health officials. With twelve reported admissions, Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board had the highest amount of critical care patients in Wales. Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board has the second highest total number of patients experiencing this critical care in the country, with eleven being cared for. Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board have nine important care admissions each. Cwm Taf NHS Trust contains five of such patients, while Hywel Dda NHS Trust has three.

The age group of 25–34 years old had the largest amount of meetings with general practitioners; the rate of consultation was 147 people for every 100,000. For all age groups, 93 people out of every one hundred thousand have been consulting with a GP; on January 5, the total figure stood at 85 meetings per 100,000.

“Despite the slight increase in the clinical consultation rate for influenza this week compared to the previous week, the rate of consultations for flu-like illness in Wales still remains within the levels of normal seasonal flu activity,” said Dr. Tony Jowell, the Chief Medical Officer of Wales. “Most healthy people will recover from flu-like illnesses within five to seven days with plenty of rest and drinking non-alcoholic fluids. On the issue of vaccination against seasonal flu, whilst we have been working to make stocks of the vaccine that was developed against swine flu available to be used where supplies of seasonal flu vaccine have run low, we are now well into the flu season.”

According to Media Wales, 13 patients experiencing flu-related symptoms were getting treatment at Withybush General Hospital in Haverfordwest on Tuesday. Meanwhile, five were receiving hospital treatment at Bronglais General Hospital in Aberystwyth. Also, Carmarthenshire NHS Trust in Llanelli and West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen both had a solitary patient.

Jowell also commented: “People in at-risk groups are at a higher risk of complications from seasonal flu, and the best protection is early vaccination. A press and publicity campaign has been running since October and has included television, radio and bus adverts to let people know if they are in an at-risk group, and that the vaccine is available free of charge to those groups from GPs. We have also encouraged health boards and GPs to ensure that their patients and front line NHS staff are vaccinated against seasonal flu.”

Throughout the United Kingdom, 62 individuals reportedly died in the last week, as the result of suffering from influenza. The majority of these victims were suffering from swine flu. In most of these cases, the sufferers were aged between 15 and 64. However, nine of the fatalities were of children aged below fourteen.

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Edmund White on writing, incest, life and Larry Kramer

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What you are about to read is an American life as lived by renowned author Edmund White. His life has been a crossroads, the fulcrum of high-brow Classicism and low-brow Brett Easton Ellisism. It is not for the faint. He has been the toast of the literary elite in New York, London and Paris, befriending artistic luminaries such as Salman Rushdie and Sir Ian McKellen while writing about a family where he was jealous his sister was having sex with his father as he fought off his mother’s amorous pursuit.

The fact is, Edmund White exists. His life exists. To the casual reader, they may find it disquieting that someone like his father existed in 1950’s America and that White’s work is the progeny of his intimate effort to understand his own experience.

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone understood that an interview with Edmund White, who is professor of creative writing at Princeton University, who wrote the seminal biography of Jean Genet, and who no longer can keep track of how many sex partners he has encountered, meant nothing would be off limits. Nothing was. Late in the interview they were joined by his partner Michael Caroll, who discussed White’s enduring feud with influential writer and activist Larry Kramer.

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Former Oral Roberts University Regent member speaks out

Friday, November 9, 2007

Harry McNevin, explained in a recent interview that he quit the Board of Regents at Oral Roberts University in disgust in 1987 after 16 years of service when he learned that Richard Roberts, Oral Roberts and other Roberts family dipped into the school’s endowment fund for personal expenses.

McNevin noted that he resigned after the board practically “rubber-stamped” the “use of millions in endowment money to buy a Beverly Hills property so that Oral Roberts could have a West Coast office and house.” In addition he said a country club membership was purchased for the home. The home was reported purchased for US$3 million and another $3.5 million was spent remodeling it.

The Associated Press also cited Patti Roberts, Richard’s first wife, who wrote in her 1983 memoir, “Ashes to Gold,” about expensive gifts including a blue Mercedes as a Christmas gift for Richard, a Jaguar for her, Italian suits and Palm Beach vacations. Suzanne Culpepper, the Roberts’ former nanny, said Lindsay (Richard’ second wife) and Richard spent money wildly. This included 275 pairs of shoes for Lindsay, 120 pairs of shoes (including 18 pairs of golf shoes) for Richard, 165 suits for Richard and other large amounts of clothing in their walk-in closest.

Previously the Roberts were accused of illegal political and financial wrongdoing, which forced the president to step down from his position.

A United States Senate committee is currently investigating six major ministries over their finances. Three of these ministries are headed by members of ORU’s Board of Regents.

Recently Tulsa World wrote that Oral Roberts University raised $8.8 million starting in 2001 for a new student center, but construction has begun and officials said “the school has used some of the money for scholarships and operations.” Tulsa World requested documents about the ORU student center, but the “university released details but not records about money raised for the center.”

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Mothers, teachers air more concerns about leukemia cases at California elementary school

Saturday, June 18, 2005

On Thursday night, California State Senator Joe Dunn held the second town hall meeting regarding a recent outbreak of leukemia in schoolchildren, at Franklin Elementary in Santa Ana, California. Representatives from the City of Santa Ana, the Santa Ana Unified School District, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) were available to answer the community’s questions.

Senator Dunn started off the meeting by thanking the panelists and parents for showing their support by attending. “We are trying to address a very, very important issue. What’s the issue? We have high rates of cancer, leukemia, and respiratory problems in our children. Why are our kids sick? This is a very difficult question,” he said. “What’s causing the sickness in our children, and how can we avoid it? We can all agree that no one wants to see another sick child in Santa Ana.” The audience applauded. “Three weeks ago, we heard from two parents and a teacher, they told us about some deaths.”

The previous town hall meeting was held to address concerns of the community about a steel plating manufacturing plant that applied to the AQMD for a permit to expand its facilities to increase pollution emissions. Parents and teachers were concerned over the facts that the plant was located directly adjacent to Kennedy Elementary School, and that their children were experiencing high levels of lead, respiratory problems, excessive nose-bleeding, and leukemia.

“How many businesses in Santa Ana are required to obtain permits for [emissions] of hazardous pollutants?” This question Dunn posed at the last meeting was answered by the AQMD and the Orange County Sanitation District, who provided maps of Santa Ana with green flags indicating where businesses with emissions permits were located. “I can tell you one thing, at the end of the meeting, we won’t have all of the answers… but we’ll certainly have another Town Hall meeting.

Initial concerns were raised when five boys attending Franklin Elementary were diagnosed with the same type of leukemia in Spring 2002. Attempts to gain an investigation from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) into possible causes were not successful as the Center told parents that the cases “were in an acceptable range”. Parents, teachers, public officials, and doctors remain unconvinced. In the past three years, 19 mothers living in an apartment building a block away from Franklin were also diagnosed with leukemia.

Dunn then introduced a teacher at Franklin, Tammy Sanchez. Tammy said, “In December 2002, we received some very disturbing news. One of my students was diagnosed with leukemia. Then, more children at Franklin were diagnosed with leukemia. I later found out that three kids at a nearby apartment building were diagnosed with leukemia. Sanchez then explained about more cancer-related deaths near Franklin, including 19 mothers all living in he same apartment building who were diagnosed with leukemia, which took over three minutes. “To me, this is way too much,” said Sanchez.

Socorro Molina, whose son Diego, a student at Franklin, is undergoing treatment for his leukemia, had this to say: “My son has leukemia. I’m worried, because there are many kids. Children who played with my son died from leukemia. They should do some investigations of these companies.” Senator Dunn responded, “Thank you, Socorro. I know it’s difficult to share that privately, and you have shared this with us publicly on two occasions.”

Senator Dunn then said, “at the end of that [previous] meeting, we were requested by a parent for a map of all businesses releasing toxic materials. We asked the AQMD for a map that showed every single business [in Santa Ana] that releases harmful materials into our air. This is that map. The heaviest concentration of these businesses are, guess where? Near Franklin. This map is striking. The OCSD gave us a map showing all businesses that release toxic materials into our sewers. The largest concentration of these businesses are, guess where? Near Franklin and Kennedy [Elementary Schools].” Senator Dunn promised that at the next town hall meeting, he will have a panel of scientists present to determine if the substances released by these business pose a health risk to residents of the area. “We are going to keep at this until we find out what is making our kids sick,” he said.

Santa Ana City Council member Jose Solorio said that “the city has been following the media’s attention. I got to tell you, this is a very complex issue. The city has jurisdiction over land use; they can issue restrictions. We, as elected officials, need to know more.” Solorio then introduced the city’s planning director and other city officials. Solorio added, “the mayor of Santa Ana, Miguel Pulido, is a board-member for AQMD.” Miguel Pulido has not attended any of the town hall meetings, and has not spoken about this issue at any time.

Dunn then introduced the next panelist, Santa Ana Unified School District board member Rosemary Avila. She said, “the school board is looking into this. I’ve talked to some teachers on the phone I believe the federal disease organization has been contacted about this.” The Center for Disease Control was notified by parents of the leukemia cases in Santa Ana, but stated that they were “within the acceptable range”. Avila then introduced some school board officials, and said, “there has been some concern in the past, and we have looked into that. As a school district, we really have to act not out of fear, but with facts.”

Jill Whynot of the AQMD noted that “there are 515 facilities [in Santa Ana] that we issue permits to”. Barry Wallerstein, Executive Officer of the AQMD said, “we appreciate the forum. There appears to be a need for closer air quality monitoring. So, I propose that we make Santa Ana a high priority and closely monitor air quality in your community.” That statement was met with much applause from the audience.

Senator Dunn responded, “we thank the AQMD for being here and answering our questions. We will be sure to let everybody know about any updates. When I looked at the map, I was struck. There are 515 permitted businesses in Santa Ana. We will bring some scientists in at the next town hall meeting to determine which businesses are releasing carcinogenic pollutants,” he said. “When I look at the maps, there are two pockets of permitted facilities in Santa Ana. Do you [AQMD] look at the cumulative impact of facilities grouped together [when considering issuing a permit]?” Dunn posed.

Dr. Wallerstein responded, “the short answer is ‘partially'”.

Senator Dunn, responding to Dr. Wallerstein’s comments, said “if we need to give AQMD more power in terms of cumulative impact of permitted facilities, then we will introduce legislation to give them that power.” The Senator then asked City Councilman Solorio, “does the city in any way look at what type of business it is, or its cumulative impact [when approving a business]?”

Solorio responded, “one of the main things the city does is make a General Plan, and unlike Irvine or Newport Beach, we are an older city.” Solorio went on to talk about how in the future, the city could pass litigation limit permits, and said that “we all need to do our part”. Referring to concerns about the steel plating plant next to a school, he said, “Markland came into an industrial area, so they have a legal right to set up shop”.

Dunn asked Solorio if the city is now looking at regulation to limit this, and Solorio responded, “We always have opportunities to look at our General Plan, and we need to have solid facts to make those decisions”. Dunn asked Dr. Wallerstein, “what about this pocket of businesses in south Santa Ana, is that unusual?” Wallerstein responded, “Senator, I don’t think that’s an issue”.

Dunn then opened up the floor to public questions and comments. One mother of three asked, “when are we going to have answers?”, while a younger woman said, directed toward the AQMD, “your job is to know if this is going to give kids leukemia. I’m very disappointed”. One woman said, “I live in Heninger Park, where all of the kids are getting Leukemia. I’ve been trying to tell the city and Code Enforcement about illegal underground painters and mechanics who leave paint and fumes behind; which is causing residents to leave”.

There was intense debate over the public officials’ efforts to investigate health quality at the location in question. Parents expressed their concerns about water quality and illegal activities in the community; and spoke about their children’s various health problems, from high copper and lead levels in the bloodstream, to respiratory and lung problems, and cancer.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page and notes page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page and notes page for more details.
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Wikinews Shorts: August 8, 2009

A compilation of brief news reports for Saturday, August 8, 2009.

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No Nonsense Easy To Understand Puppy House Training

Submitted by: Sarah Gladman

No-Nonsense Easy To Understand Puppy House Training

House breaking or potty training a puppy can be one of the least enjoyed aspects of owning a puppy. Just like humans, puppies are creatures of habit and thrive on following patterns of behavior. What may not be realised by you is that you are training yourself to follow the pups pattern of toilet going. Like most things in life, once you realise what it is you are doing – you can alter it to suit you – and effectively train the pup to relieve itself on your terms.

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There are three vital clues as to when your puppy is most likely to relieve itself. This will happen after the pup eats, wakes up and also after an active play session. You can expect your pup to relieve itself generally 15-30 minutes after it has eaten. But don t get complacent in taking your pup outside! Their bladder and bowel isn t subject to emptying at the same time -every time, so be sure that when your pup has finished eating and drinking that you take her outside and wait with her while she empties her bladder and/or bowel. When she does so, make a HUGE fuss over her – praise her for what a good job she did, tell her how good she is. Encouraging the positive action will set clear boundaries of when it is ok to go and when it is not.

Just as puppies love to play they also love – and need – their sleep. Your pup will definitely need to go to the bathroom when he wakes. After waking in the morning or after a long nap, be sure to take your pup outside so he may relieve himself. Again, make sure you a diligent in getting your pup out before he has an accident inside. Also, praise him excessively each time he goes and tell him how good a boy he is. He will start to associate going to the bathroom as a positive experience and will happily co-operate in telling you he needs to go out, so long as you can read the signs. After an active play session, your pup will also need to go. Pups usually sniff the floor excessively, and circle an area prior to going to the bathroom. This is your signal to get him outside.

Crate training is considered an effective tool in house training a pup. A dog will instinctively not soil where he sleeps. Remembering that puppies have small bladders and bowels and asking him to hold overnight for hours on end is unfair and some may deem cruel. A good rule of thumb is that for each month the pup is – that too is the length of time he may hold before having to go to the bathroom. Therefore, a 3 month old pup can hold for 3 hours. Yes, this means that you will need to get up at night for the first month or so, but the benefits will be well worth it and the pups grow out of the overnight need quickly. Just be sure to remove his water bowl an hour before bedtime and you shouldn t have too many accidents.

There are many internet based courses and guides available for pet owners to help teach potty training and house training. My advice would be to find a guide that is simple to understand and easy to read. It should not cost the pet owner more than $10 -$12 to purchase. There are some wonderful guides and products on the internet to remedy this issue, if you require further help or extra guidance.

About the Author: For more Potty Training for Dogs – GUARANTEED, check out

Sarah has bred Labradors for 14 yrs & refers all puppy owners to the best guide available. Visitors from this article can buy it for$9


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Multifaith council commends Malaysian politician’s comments on conversion to Islam

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism issued a statement Friday praising comments made Wednesday by Malaysian politician Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan on conversion to Islam. Malaysian Consultative Council president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said that Ong’s views are shared by Malaysians from all religious faiths in the country.

“Conversion to Islam should not be abused as a means to evade one’s legal obligations to one’s family. A person’s conversion to another religion should not cause pain and suffering for other members of the family,” said Vaithilingam. He asked state and federal government authorities to take necessary steps to fix loopholes in the law, so that Malaysians could freely practice religion in the country.

Conversion to Islam should not be abused as a means to evade one’s legal obligations to one’s family.

Ong is the current Minister of Housing and Local Government in the Malaysian cabinet, and also serves as the secretary-general of the {{w|Malaysian Chinese Association]] (MCA) and Perak MCA chairman. In his Wednesday statement, he said that individuals who convert to Islam through the marriage process should be permitted to renounce the religion if they leave the marriage. Ong also stated that the religion of a minor child with one Muslim parent should be determined by both parents, or remain the same until the child turns 18.

Ong said that issues involving divorce, custody of children and inheritance in matters of constitutional rights of non-Muslims had increased dramatically in the last three years. Ong emphasized the importance of civil law as related to non-Muslims in the country, as opposed to that of Syariah (Sharia), Islamic religious law.

We urge the Government to be transparent in this process.

“Non-Muslims are not to be subjected to any form of Syariah laws and for any disputes or overlapping areas involving the jurisdiction of civil and Syariah courts, civil laws must prevail. […] We urge the Government to be transparent in this process,” said Ong.

Ong’s comments were made as part of an 11-page motion of thanks on the royal address. His motion was seconded by Bintulu Minister of Parliament Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing. Ong also spoke about the corruption, education, crime and security and the economy in his two-hour speech.

Of the 27 million people in Malaysia, 60 percent are Muslim Malaysian Malays, 25 percent are Chinese and mainly Buddhists or Christians, and 7.8 percent are ethnic Indians and mainly Hindus.

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Police station attacked by car bomb in Basque Country, two officers injured

Friday, August 24, 2007

A police station of the Spanish Guardia Civil was attacked today Friday by a car bomb in the Basque city of Durango, injuring two policemen. It is believed to be the first serious attack of the separatist group ETA since it unilaterally ended a cease-fire in June. The blast caused serious damage to the police barracks in Durango, shattering windows and damaging police cars parked outside. Several nearby apartment buildings were also damaged. Police sources believe the bomb, estimated to contain between 80 and 100 kilograms of explosives, was detonated remotely by one of the two attackers who fled in another vehicle. Another car exploded about one hour later in the town of Amorebieta, possibly the one used by the activists to flee.

ETA detonated two small explosive devices on July 25 along the route that the Tour of France used when the race dipped into northern Spain for a few hours.

ETA called the cease-fire in March 2006, but grew frustrated with a lack of government concessions in ensuing peace talks, and set off a huge bomb in a parking area at Madrid’s airport on December 30, killing two people. It insisted then that the truce was still in effect, but finally declared it formally over in June, and Spanish security forces have been on alert ever since.

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

Friday, February 6, 2009

Denny’s 1,600 chain restaurants across North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, were slammed for eight hours Tuesday with hungry patrons standing on sidewalks for nearly two hours to take advantage of the $5.99 “Grand Slam Breakfast” giveaway.

Denny’s, a dining chain with annual revenue of about $900 million, has advertised in a TV commercial Sunday during the Super Bowl XLIII that it would give away its signature breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time Tuesday, at all its restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, while supplies lasted.

Denny’s Diner has promoted the iconic dish giveaway heavily, with a bold 30-second appeal ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl 43 on Sunday, plus another 15-second ad during the post-game show, offering a free breakfast to some 90 million viewers. In addition, it has placed a full-page ad in USA Today‘s Monday edition. The promotion was further announced on The Today Show and notices were also sent out to the chain’s “Denny’s Breakfast Club” members.

The NBC ad, which was bought to unveil a new promotion for customers squeezed by the recession, may have cost as much as $3 million, said Nelson Marchioli, CEO of Denny’s Corp. Super Bowl XLIII’s 30-second commercial time slot costs $2.4 million–$3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs.

The game was televised live by the US NBC Sunday Night Football and Canada’s CTV Television Network. BayTSP has reported that, “as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, commercials that initially aired during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII broadcast subsequently had been watched online more than 28 million times.”

“The promotion has a total cost of $5 million U.S., which includes $3 million for the commercial on NBC,” said a Denny’s spokesman, noting also that the company received about $50 million in news coverage, most of which was positive. According to a Denny’s representative, two million people walked through the restaurant chains’ doors Tuesday, and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour.

With the “Denny’s Feeds America” promotion, the company has reported 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning. Denny’s shares rose 6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.98 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range of $1.18 to $4.10 over the past 52 weeks.

“Denny’s free Grand Slam” has ranked in the top 10 Google searches early Tuesday and fell to No. 18 by the end of the promotion, while “denny s locations” was #9 on Google Trends, which tracks fast-rising searches. It has also held spots No. 1 (Denny’s) and 7 (Grand Slam) on Twitter‘s trending topics. It has generated much chat on Twitter, garnering 1,700 tweets on Tuesday, compared with its average of 59. Doritos, winner of the USA TODAY survey for best Super Bowl spot ad, had 933 mentions after reaching a peak of almost 3,300.

The idea of the TV ad was to get people to come in and re-evaluate Denny’s Diner. “A lot of people have forgotten what Denny’s is, or they think they know, while we’ve come out with a whole lot of new products. We felt like we needed to jump start the brand,” Denny’s Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark Chmiel said.

“We’re celebrating the Grand Slam this year,” Chmiel said. According to the company’s financial data, on January 15 Denny’s reported systemwide comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter were down 6.1 percent, compared to a 0.2 percent decline from the same period in 2007.

According to Robert Gonzalez, public relations company Hill & Knowlton spokesman, Denny’s has expected at least 2 million people to eat a free Grand Slam by the end of the promotion. “Every restaurant is packed with people and lines,” Gonzalez said. “Everything today is about fast. People are on the go, and they’re eating fast food. It’s cutting into sit-down dining,” he added.

“Each of the more than 1,500 Denny’s were planning to make about 100 Grand Slams an hour,” Denny’s spokeswoman Cori Rice said. It had predicted it will have served about 1,400 people per location, more than five times the normal volume. “Grand Slam Breakfast” is a four-item option on its menu, consisting of two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. It weighs in at 44 grams of fat, 56 carbohydrates and 770 calories.

Nationwide, Denny’s expected to sell about 2 million Grand Slams — about 15 percent of the annual tally. According to Mark Chmiel, chief marketing operator and executive vice president, the diner chain has reported approximately 2 million meals worth more than $12 million were given away nationwide and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour. It estimated it has earned about $50 million worth of public relations following the free Grand Slam campaign, Chmiel said.

The company is also experimenting with a Grand Slam Burrito and also has introduced for this year, a Grand Slamwich, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese between two slices of bread, with a teaspoon serving. “It already has shown strong consumer appeal,” said Chmiel. The company has received flood of e-mails and letters proving the positive impact of the Grand Slam campaign and commercials on its customers.

Chmiel also announced he’s planning a third major promotion in this year’s third quarter, which happens to include another major sporting event, the World Series. “That’s one we’re definitely looking at,” he said.

Jobless Paris Winslow of downtown San Francisco, California has joined the long line which stretched from the front door on Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, to the corner of Fourth and up the block. “The economy is getting kind of scary. This line looks like those pictures of soup kitchen lines during the 1929 Great Depression,” Winslow said.

“I came all the way from San Francisco for a free $6 meal, Isn’t that pathetic? A year ago, I never would have done this. These days I’m willing to put my ego on the back burner,” said Stephen Weller, a jobless contractor who waited with his dog, Emmett. California Denny’s restaurant managers have issued rain checks (for free chilled meals, as security backed by actual bacon) to anyone who failed to get in by the 2 p.m. deadline.

A big eater could also “Slam It Up” by adding any two additional items for 99 cents each to their meal. Customers on Tuesday were also handed “bounceback” coupon books that include offers for additional free menu items with purchases. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang has eaten five free Grand Slams on Tuesday at five different Denny’s Diners in four hours. He claims to have consumed 4,100 calories at Harwood Heights, 5:36 a.m, at Schiller Park, 6:22 a.m., at Franklin Park, 7:08 a.m., at Melrose Park, 7:41 a.m. and at Grand Slam No. 5 Oak Park, 8:57 a.m.

“The Grand Slam has always been a Denny’s favorite. This free offer is our way of reacquainting America with Denny’s real breakfast and with the Denny’s brand,” Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli said in a statement. In 1977s, the Grand Slam started as a baseball-related promotion in Atlanta, Georgia. Its normal price averages around $5.99. Marchioli said the event was also a way to kick-off its “Year of the Grand Slam” promotion. Denny’s claimed it has sold 12.5 million Grand Slams a year.

“The economy’s tough and people are jumping all the way to fast food to try to figure it out. We all use fast food, whether it’s for time or convenience or for money. But you can go to Denny’s and you don’t have to give up a real breakfast and that was the whole focus of our commercial,” Marchioli explained. McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has done well during this economic meltdown since the global recession pushes people toward less expensive dining options.

McDonald’s has announced plans Wednesday to open 175 new restaurants in China this year despite the global economic crisis, thereby increasing the number of outlets in China by 17 percent, from 1,050 currently. Last month, McDonald’s 2008 net profit has risen 80 percent from 2007 to 4.3 billion dollars.

Marchioli has also introduced Denny’s $4 Weekday Express Slam, which is a streamlined version of the Grand Slam. “I want to take back share. For too long, we have allowed others to take share, whether it was Starbucks or McDonald’s. They’re fine competitors and I don’t expect to take all their business from them, but I’d like a little bit back,” Marchioli noted.

According to Rafi Mohammed, author of “The Art of Pricing,” people love free. “It triggers a Pavlovian response in people,” said Mohammed. If Pavlov’s dogs salivate when a bell rings, Denny’s free Grand Slam breakfast has attracted 2 million hungry customers. “I believe free maximizes trial and doesn’t devalue a product as long as it is a rare event. Aside from the cost, the major downside is that it attracts customers who truly have no intention of coming back,” he added.

According to University of Portland consumer psychology professor Deana Julka, people flock to free promotions amid just a few dollars saving because there’s nothing in life for free. “So when there’s something out there that costs nothing, it creates a psychological rush. Especially in these times when people feel overtaxed or overburden, there’s an internal reward people feel by getting something for free,” she said. “It’s being thrifty and feeling like you beat the system. Free really hits the spot for a lot of people,” Julka added.

“Free is an emotional hot button. When free is concerned, there is no downside – or, at least, we don’t see the downside immediately. So we overvalue everything that is free. People love free stuff, particularly when money’s tight,” said Dan Ariely, a business professor at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

Experts, however, explained these moves need to be done sparingly, since giveaways can teeter in the balance between desperation and a well designed marketing ploy. “Giving your product away for free is not worth it because it undermines your brand value,” said branding expert Rob Frankel, saying people are attached to the idea of it being free, than the actual product itself.

Free giveaways are not anything new in the food industry. “It just feels good when you can get something for free and not have to worry about it coming out of your wallet,” Frankel noted. Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread all have had free coffee and food promos last year. “In November, Starbucks gave away free cup of coffee to anyone who came in on Election Day. Have you taken a look at how Starbucks is doing now?” Last week it has announced it would shut down 300 stores, in addition to the 600 it already planned to close.

On February 24, IHOP will be offering a free shortstack to every customer to encourage donations (in place of the cost) for Childrens Miracle Network. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is a United States-based restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods and is owned by DineEquity. The chain had more than 1950 restaurants in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Since 2006, IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration has raised over $1.85 million. In 2008, over 1.5 million pancakes (12 miles high if they were stacked) were given to customers for donations.

Denny’s (“Denny’s Diner”) is a full-service diner/family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand). The resto chain is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock.

Today, Denny’s operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny’s restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, seven Denny’s locations in New Zealand, and approximately 38 Denny’s diners in the United States. Denny’s headquarters is now located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation that acquired Denny’s in 1987.

Denny’s was historically notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993, though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.

In 2008, Denny’s has ceased to be in the ranks among the top diner chains in the $83 billion breakfast market, whose top five firms — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and IHOP — accounted for 22 percent of the volume. “A lot of consumers have written Denny’s off their let’s-go-there list,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a consulting firm.

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers (15–4) and the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals (12–8) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 NFL season. It was played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadiumin Tampa, Florida. It has an attendance of 70,774 and 98.7 million viewers. Pittsburgh earned its sixth Super Bowl win, thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins.

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