September 30, 2013 Last Updated 9:37 am

Johnston Press announces new layoff scheme, Sun journalist the first to be charged in ‘Operation Tuleta’ investigations

The last day of September and I am already seeing some retailers start to display their Christmas holiday merchandise. Here in the Midwest, however, the most important “holiday” is now upon us: Halloween. If Midwesterners could have their way it would be celebrated on a three-day weekend.

News round-up:

The-Scotsman-front-2011-smThe Guardian: Johnson Press, the Scottish newspaper publishing company, announced a new layoff scheme that will try and entice voluntary layoffs. The regime is aimed at the newsroom and production departments as both advertising and digital media are not included. Staffers that want to take advantage of the program must raise their hands by October 25.

“To ensure we are in a solid position for continued growth we need to be constantly reviewing our business structure and rescaling where appropriate,” the CEO of Johnston Press, Ashley Highfield, said. “We have already taken many prudent measures to ensure we hit our financial targets and we will continue to explore different options for our employees to consider. With that in mind we are today announcing an enhanced voluntary redundancy programme.”

TheSun-website-front-smBloomberg: Another UK journalist at a Murdoch paper is to be charged with criminal wrongdoing. Ben Ashford of The Sun faces two counts of possession of criminal property and unauthorized access to computer material. Ashford will be the first to be charged in a new investigation, called “Operation Tuleta” which is looking into the hacking activities of journalists. Expect more charges to be announced in the future as a total of 21 arrests have been made since the investigation began.

“The CPS has today authorised the Metropolitan Police to charge Ben Ashford with one offence of possession of criminal property and one offence of unauthorised access to computer material,” a senior lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service, said this morning. Ashford works in the Plymouth office of the Sun

Everybody: The U.S. government is about to shutdown, the result of a House of Representatives gone insane. For those readers outside the U.S. who can not understand how the strongest country in the world could become so dysfunctional, here is a brief explanation:

The Congress, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, is split between the two major political parties. One party believes that all government is evil, the other believes in not much at all. As a result, the two parties can not work together to pass budgets. Believe it not, that is OK. What is done instead is that the Congress passes what is called a continuing resolution which serves to continue to fund the government for a limited time in the absence of an actual budget. These CRs, as they are called, preserve the status quo.

But now the House has used the CR to try and overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a major piece of healthcare legislation that Wikipedia describes this way: “The ACA aims to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance, lower the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage, and reduce the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government.”

One party believes all this adds up to socialized medicine – bad in their eyes – while most in the other party doesn’t believe the legislation, now called Obamacare, went far enough. No one is happy with the legislation, but it passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by the President.

Now the Republicans in the House want to use the threat of shutting down the government to try and force the Congress into defunding the ACA. It won’t happen, everyone knows it, but since government is evil… you get the idea.

I hope that helps.