Thursday, January 19, 2012
Eastman Kodak, the company that invented the hand-held camera, has filed for bankruptcy protection.Kodak said in a statement that its business would keep going as normal for customers.
The company has recently moved away from cameras to refocus on making printers in an attempt to stem falling profits.
The 132-year-old firm has struggled to keep up with competitors who were quicker to adapt to the digital era.
Announcing the move to seek bankruptcy protection, Antonio M. Perez, Kodak's chairman and chief executive, said: "The board of directors and the entire senior management team unanimously believe that this is a necessary step and the right thing to do for the future of Kodak."
The company said it had already arranged a $950m (£615m) credit facility from Citigroup.
Transformation Since becoming chief executive, Mr Perez has been responsible for steering Kodak away from its traditional market in cameras to focus on home and commercial printers.
However, the firm has failed to stop its plunging profitability.
The move to seek bankruptcy protection comes after Kodak failed to sell its catalogue of digital imaging patents last year. At the time, Kodak warned that it would run out of cash if it did not find a buyer by the end of 2011.
"Now we must complete the transformation by further addressing our cost structure and effectively monetising non-core IP assets," said Mr Perez on Thursday.
Kodak employs 19,000 workers whose jobs may be affected by the bankruptcy proceedings.
In its 1980s heyday the company employed 145,000 people in locations throughout the world.
Reorganisation Over the past few months, several directors have resigned from the board and at the start of 2012 Kodak announced that it was reorganising its business units into two rather than three, renaming them consumer and commercial.
The firm said at the time that it was pinning its hopes on its printer, software and packaging businesses with the aim of growing them to account for 25% of its income by 2013.
Although Kodak was one of the original inventors of digital photography, it failed to keep pace with developments in the market, and competition from the far east steadily eroded its share of the market.
A prominent Chinese writer close to Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has described "inhumane treatment" that forced him to leave.Speaking in Washington, Yu Jie said he was harassed by police, then abducted and severely beaten.
Mr Yu, 38, wrote "China's Best Actor: Wen Jiabao", a controversial book that scrutinised the premier. The book was banned in mainland China.
Mr Yu arrived in the US on 11 January to live with his wife and son.
On Wednesday he appeared at a press conference and also released a statement - published on the rights group Human Rights in China website - describing persecution at the hands of state police.
He said that after Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "illegal house arrests, torture, surveillance and tracking, and being taken on 'trips' became part of my daily life".
Mr Liu is currently serving an 11-year jail term in China for inciting subversion.
'Traitor to the state' Mr Yu said he was picked up by plainclothes officers on 9 December 2010, the day before the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, hooded and and taken to an undisclosed location.
There he said he was stripped of his clothes, beaten for hours and told that his naked photos would be posted online. He said he also suffered cigarette burns.
"They verbally abused me non-stop with vulgar language, calling me a traitor to the state and to the Chinese people, and trash," he wrote in the statement.
A rising proportion of abortions worldwide are putting women's health at risk, researchers say.The World Health Organization study suggests global abortion rates are steady, at 28 per 1,000 women a year.
However, the proportion of the total carried out without trained clinical help rose from 44% in 1995 to 49% in 2008.
The Lancet, which carried the report, said the figures were "deeply disturbing".
Unsafe abortion is one of the main contributors to maternal death worldwide, and refers to procedures outside hospitals, clinics and surgeries, or without qualified medical supervision.
Women are more vulnerable to dangerous infection or bleeding in these environments.
Maternal mortality In developing countries, particularly those with more restrictive abortion laws, most abortions are unsafe, with 97% of abortions in Africa described this way.
To compile the figures - often a difficult task in countries where abortion is illegal - the researchers used surveys, official statistics and hospital records.
They concluded that while the abortion rate had fallen since 1995, that drop had now levelled off, and overall, the rise in world population meant that there were 2.2 million more abortions in 2008 compared with 2003.
In the developed world, the proportion of pregnancies ending in abortion fell from 36% in 1995 to 26% in 2008.Countries with restrictive abortion laws did not have a corresponding decrease in abortion rate - in some cases, the reverse was true.
Professor Beverly Winikoff, from Gynuity, a New York organisation which pushes for access to safer abortion, wrote in the Lancet: "Unsafe abortion is one of the five major contributors to maternal mortality, causing one in every seven or eight maternal deaths in 2008.
"Yet, when abortion is provided with proper medical techniques and care, the risk of death is negligible and nearly 14 times lower than that of childbirth.
"The data continue to confirm what we have known for decades - that women who wish to terminate unwanted pregnancies will seek abortion at any cost, even if it is illegal or involves risk to their own lives."
Dr Richard Horton, the Lancet's editor, said: "These latest figures are deeply disturbing. The progress made in the 1990s is now in reverse.
"Condemning, stigmatising and criminalising abortion are cruel and failed strategies."
Kate Hawkins, from the Sexuality and Development Programme at the Institute of Development Studies, said: "Whether it is legal or illegal, women will seek abortions and obtain abortions.
"This study showed that in 2008, 86% of abortions took place in developing countries and that nearly half of all abortions worldwide were unsafe in 2008.
"That women continue to die in significant numbers because of unsafe abortion is a scandal and is an issue that the development sector should take seriously."