U.S. ISPs to test restricting heavy Internet users

Thursday, June 5, 2008

On June 3rd, 2008, two United States Internet service providers (ISPs) announced they would begin tests to slow web access for their most active customers and charge them for extra speed. Comcast and Time Warner Cable, two of the largest ISPs in North America, both made separate announcements of their plans. The actions come in the wake of an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), over whether Comcast had restricted some customers from sharing videos, music, and similar files. The FCC investigation led to a US Congress debate over whether and how much control ISPs should have over the flow of customer data.

Public interest groups complained in November 2007 to the FCC that Comcast had specifically targeted customers using applications that made use of the BitTorrent system, a popular form of file sharing. Free Press, an advocacy group that pushes for better oversight of cable operators such as Comcast, stated that Comcast practices were discriminatory towards users of the legal technology. “The cable companies see a hammer hovering above their heads and are scrambling to find ways to reduce the appearance of wrongdoing,” said Ben Scott, head of the group.

According to Roger Entner, a senior vice president from Nielsen IAG, as little as 5 percent of all Internet users may consume as much as 50 percent of all the bandwidth on the Internet. “This is the politically correct version of doing what Comcast had been doing before, though it takes the occasional [peer-to-peer] user off the hook,” Entner said. Sena Fitzmaurice, a Comcast spokesperson, said, “This says we won’t be looking at what type of traffic that there is, even though we still need to manage the network.”

Comcast’s tests are expected to begin in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and Warrenton, Virginia.

While Comcast will attempt to throttle the speed of all its high-volume users, Time Warner Cable intends to use a different method. They will meter and bill clients, charging more money for faster speeds and larger amounts of transmitted data, functioning more like a traditional public utility, such as an electric company or cell phone service. Their metered billing test will begin on June 5 in Beaumont, Texas for newly enrolled customers. “Instead of raising prices across the board, consumers who are excessive users would pay,” said Alex Dudley, a Time Warner Cable spokesman. “It is clearly the fairest way to fund the investment that is going to be required to support that use.”

An Associated Press report that Time Warner Cable will bill customers between $29.95 to $54.90USD per month has been confirmed by the cable operator, with clients charged an extra $1 for each gigabyte (GB) by which they exceed their purchased plan. Art Brodsky, communications director of Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group in Washington D.C., has expressed concerns about the Time Warner Cable plan. Time Warner Cable’s most expensive offering, $54.90, comes with 15 megabits-per-second of data transfer speed and a 40 gigabyte limit on total data transfer.

“An HD (high-definition) movie is 8GB or so, three movies is more than half your allowance for a month, and heaven knows what else you might want to watch,” Brodsky says. “This is not a relieving congestion scheme as much as it is a rationing scheme. All it does is protect an inadequate infrastructure from the cable company.”

“Bigoted woman”: controversial Gordon Brown remarks caught on air

Thursday, April 29, 2010

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is now at the centre of controversy when, on Thursday, a live microphone caught him describing a voter he had talked to as being a “bigoted woman”.

The incident occurred after Brown, encouraged by his advisors to interact with ordinary people more often before next week’s parliamentary elections, went for a walkabout in the town of Rochdale, located near Manchester. There, he spoke with Gillian Duffy, aged 65, who challenged him on topics such as health and education, before asking about immigration: “All those Eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?” she asked him.

Brown responded by saying that “[a] million people come from Europe, but a million people, British people, have gone into Europe.” The prime minister, upon finishing the discussion, said it was “very nice to meet you” and returned to his car.

Unbeknownst to him, however, the Sky News microphone attached to his lapel was still turned on and picked up the conversation that followed inside the vehicle: “That was a disaster … they should never have put me with that woman,” Brown said. “Whose idea was that? It’s just ridiculous.” When an aide asked what Duffy had said, Brown responded: “Everything, she was just a bigoted woman that said she used to be Labour […] I don’t know why Sue [an aide] brought her up towards me.”

Whose idea was that? […] She was just a bigoted woman

The PM, upon being informed what had happened, returned to Duffy’s home to personally apologise. “Sometimes you do make mistakes and you use wrong words, and once you’ve used that word and you’ve made a mistake, you should withdraw it and say profound apologies, and that’s what I’ve done,” he said. During an interview with the BBC, Brown is seen with his head in hands as the comments were replayed.

Duffy, speaking to reporters immediately after having talked with the PM, described Brown as being “very nice”, but later said she was “very upset” when informed what Brown had said off-camera. “Why has he come out with words like that? He’s supposed to be leading the country and he’s calling an ordinary woman who’s come up and asked questions that most people would ask him,” she said in an interview with the BBC.

“[…] It’s going to be tax, tax, tax for another twenty years to get out of this national debt, and he’s calling me a bigot,” later adding: “I want to know why – them [sic] comments I made there – why I was called a bigot.”

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A spokesman for Brown said: “Mr Brown has apologised to Mrs Duffy personally by phone. He does not think that she is bigoted. He was letting off steam in the car after a difficult conversation. But this is exactly the sort of conversation that is important in an election campaign and which he will continue to have with voters.”

Some political analysts have said the gaffe may hurt Labour’s chances in the upcoming elections; the party had managed to narrow the Conservatives’ lead in recent opinion polls.

The Conservatives responded to the incident — dubbed by some media outlets as “Bigotgate” — with Shadow chancellor George Osborne saying that “general elections […] do reveal the truth about people.”

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, meanwhile said: “You should always try to answer the questions as best you can. He has been recorded saying what he has said and will have to answer for that.”

Andrew Russell, a politics lecturer for Manchester University, commented on the situation. “A politician in a stronger position could recover from this. What we know is that Gordon Brown is not in that position.”

Las Vegas ‘chili finger’ woman has history of lawsuits

Monday, April 11, 2005

Anna Ayala, the Las Vegas woman who claims to have found the notorious “chili finger” at a Wendy’s outlet in San Jose, California, has filed lawsuits against other businesses, according to researchers at the Associated Press. Her previous court battles included the national El Pollo Loco chicken-chain, a previous employer, and even General Motors.

Ayala successfully won her suit for medical expenses against El Pollo Loco, after her daughter Genesis contracted salmonella poisoning from eating at the restaurant. However, Ayala lost another suit in 2000 claiming that a wheel fell off her car.

Ayala’s original account of the incident spoke “emotionally and with disgust” to the San Jose Mercury News when she described it to the paper.

“Lies, lies, lies, that’s all I am hearing. They should look at Wendy’s. What are they hiding? Why are we being victimized again and again?” Ayala recently told The Associated Press. Ayala is now in her Las Vegas home, avoiding reporters.

“It doesn’t prove anything,” family spokesman Ken Bono told the San Francisco Chronicle. “My mom has 10 lawsuits. A lot of people have lawsuits. Why would she sue for money? She has plenty of money,” he said.

Nick Muyo, a spokesman for the San Jose Police department, said not to expect new information in the case for at least a week.

“We just want to step back and take a deep breath,” Muyo told Knight Ridder Newspapers. “From a law enforcement point of view, once you establish it is a human finger, you have to wonder is this a case of industrial accident or is this a case of unreported homicide,” he said.

Las Vegas police searched Anna Ayala’s home on Wednesday, retrieving a cooler and other effects from her home, such as a makeup case.

Despite the incident, which has dramatically reduced sales at Northern California Wendy’s outlets, die-hard Wendy’s fans are still turning up for lunch, even at the outlet where the finger was found, at 1405 Monterey Highway, just south of downtown San Jose.

“We’ve eaten here for years,” a police officer told the San Francisco Chronicle under the condition that he remain anonymous. “They’re very nice people. When we work Spartan Stadium, we always eat here,” he said.

San Jose City Council candidate Andrew Diaz still eats the chili. And he witnessed the finger discovery.

“I walked away real slow,” Diaz told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I didn’t want any commotion,” he said.

Obama delays arrival to Copenhagen summit by one week

Sunday, December 6, 2009

US president Barack Obama decided to arrive to Copenhagen climate change summit on December 18, contrasting with his previous plan to arrive on December 9.

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize events take place in Oslo around December 1. He decided not to go to Copenhagen before them, delaying his arrival instead.

The purpose of the summit is to finalize a treaty to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Robert Gibbs, the White House official press secretary, commented, saying that presence of the USA president at later days might encourage more serious results:

“The president believes that continued US leadership can be most productive through his participation at the end of the Copenhagen conference on December 18th rather than on December 9th. There are still outstanding issues that must be negotiated for an agreement to be reached, but this decision reflects the president’s commitment to doing all that he can to pursue a positive outcome.”

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen welcomed Mr Obama’s move, saying that “President Obama’s presence is an expression of the growing political momentum towards sealing an ambitious climate deal in Copenhagen.”

Greenpeace International’s political climate coordinator Martin Kaiser also talked about the timetable plan change optimistically: “After a global outcry, President Obama has listened to the people and other world leaders; he has come to his senses and accepted the importance of this potentially historic meeting. Now that he has moved the date, he needs to move his targets and his financial contribution to be in line with what climate science demands.”

The decision of the President came after his talk with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Some commentators say that the President could have felt the world leaders’ optimistic approaches to the December forum, therefore deciding to delay his invigorative arrival to a more critical point.

How Do I Get Charge Offs Removed From My Credit Report?

By Joseph Crutchfield

Wondering how to remove charge offs from your credit report? If this sounds like you, then you have probably had trouble with your finances not too long ago. You have probably had difficulty making full payments for many months. And today, you may even have several collection agencies pestering you by mail and telephone. Does this sound about right?

Well, don’t worry. Even though you may have been a bit undisciplined with your finances in the past, you can improve your credit, remove charge offs from your report, and yes … get a second chance you want at a good credit score. In this article, we will take a close look at what a charge off is and show you two proven ways you can have them removed from your credit report altogether…

What Exactly Is A Charge Off?

A charge off is one of the more detrimental negative credit listings you can have on your credit report. Charge offs are losses claimed by your creditor after approximately 180 days of unsuccessful attempts at receiving full payment from you. Late payments of 30,60, or 90 days are common, but, after 6 months without a payment, your creditor will most likely count your account as a loss, turn it over to a collection agency, and place a ‘charge off’ entry on your credit report.

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Removing these charge offs should be a priority to you, as potential lenders make it a point to look for these negative indicators on your report specifically.

So, How Can I Eliminate These Charge Offs?

First of all, you need to find the date that the charge off was reported in your credit report and take note of the last activity on the account. If it’s an older record between 7-15 years past, then chances are the statute of limitations has expired on collecting that debt. To determine the expiration date, you’ll need to do a little investigating in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. For example, a credit card charge off may stay on your record for 7 years, while a bankruptcy can remain for 10 years. What that means is, writing a simple letter to the credit bureaus and notifying them of the expiration date may be enough to get the charge off erased from your records.

You will need to take a few extra steps though if your charge off happens to be more recent. Talk with your original creditor and make an offer. Basically, you’ll want to make an offer of payment to your creditor in return for their removal of the charge off they placed in your records, often referred to as a ‘pay for delete.’

But there’s no sugar coating this, it won’t be easy. Many creditors, like credit card companies for example are obligated to report negative information to the credit agencies. Therefore, they may not be willing to remove your charge off completely and instead, change your account status to ‘closed.’ That’s more favorable than a ‘charge off paid’ indicator, but still not an entire removal. So, the choice soon becomes to either reject their counter-offer or to make the compromise. The decision is yours.

You should take into consideration the importance your credit rating is going to have on qualifying for a better job or a good loan in the near future before you decide though. Just make absolutely sure you get your pay-to-delete agreement in writing before you make payment and check your credit file for the alteration after the creditor accepts your terms. Be certain they change or remove it from your report.

So, Where Do I Start?

Two things you will want to do first is to read and learn the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act first before jumping into disputing your credit report entries. Get a good understanding of your rights as a U.S. citizen and how you can use them to your benefit. Next, you should realize that every state has it’s own laws concerning debt. You want to find your state’s precise statute of limitations on debt collection.

Make sure you keep yourself well informed on credit repair in general, as federal laws change quite frequently. And finally, realize that removing a charge off is only one small step in the entire process of repairing and maintaining your credit. You also need good repayment strategies, a disciplined monthly credit limit usage, and an aggressive credit building goal to really improve your scores.

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XVIII Commonwealth Games competition ends

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The following is how the medal table looks after the final day of competition for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, in Melbourne, Australia.

In the final event of the Games, New Zealand defeated the reigning Netball Commonwealth champion Australia, 60-55, for the first time in 12 years.

Australia received its largest medal haul in Commonwealth Games history, receiving more than a third of the gold medals available; a total of 221 medals.

South Africa was the best of the African nation, winning 38 medals.

There were 247 events and 24 disciplines in the games. Events included:

  • Aquatics: diving, swimming, synchronised swimming
  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Cycling: track, road, mountain bike
  • Gymnastics: artistic, rhythmic
  • Hockey
  • Lawn Bowls
  • Netball
  • Rugby Sevens
  • Shooting: clay target, pistol, small bore and air rifle, full bore rifle
  • Squash
  • Table Tennis
  • Triathlon
  • Weightlifting

The games will be officially closed tonight, (0900 UTC) with the handing over of the Games to Delhi for 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Final Medal Count for the XVIII Commonwealth Games
Pos Country G S B Total
1 Australia 84 69 68 221
2 England 36 40 34 110
3 Canada 26 29 31 86
4 India 22 17 11 50
5 South Africa 12 13 13 38
6 Scotland 11 7 11 29
7 Jamaica 10 4 8 22
8 Malaysia 7 12 10 29
9 New Zealand 6 12 13 31
10 Kenya 6 5 7 18
11 Singapore 5 6 7 18
12 Nigeria 4 6 7 17
13 Wales 3 5 11 19
14 Cyprus 3 1 2 6
15 Ghana 2 0 1 3
Uganda 2 0 1 3
17 Pakistan 1 3 1 5
18 Papua New Guinea 1 1 0 2
19 Isle of Man 1 0 1 2
Namibia 1 0 1 2
Tanzania 1 0 1 2
22 Sri Lanka 1 0 0 1
23 Mauritius 0 3 0 3
24 Bahamas 0 2 0 2
Northern Ireland 0 2 0 2
26 Cameroon 0 1 2 3
27 Botswana 0 1 1 2
Malta 0 1 1 2
Nauru 0 1 1 2
30 Bangladesh 0 1 0 1
Grenada 0 1 0 1
Lesotho 0 1 0 1
33 Trinidad and Tobago 0 0 3 3
34 Seychelles 0 0 2 2
35 Barbados 0 0 1 1
Fiji 0 0 1 1
Mozambique 0 0 1 1
Samoa 0 0 1 1
Swaziland 0 0 1 1
242 241 253 736

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

Hubble telescope spots oldest galaxies ever seen

Thursday, December 10, 2009

American and European scientists say the upgraded Hubble space telescope has spotted the oldest galaxies ever seen. The images were taken with the telescope’s new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) in August this year.

The galaxies are about 13 billion light years from Earth, meaning they formed less than one billion years after the Big Bang — the cosmological model of the initial conditions and subsequent development of the universe.

WFC3 was installed in May this year, during a mission by the space shuttle Atlantis to repair and upgrade Hubble. Experts say the new instrument will let them peer even further back in time, to when the universe was in its infancy. The more distant a galaxy is, the more its light is “redshifted” due to expansion of the universe. Light from the furthest galaxies is shifted to infrared wavelengths invisible to the human eye, but WFC3 can detect these.

The new image was taken in August, in the same region as a 2004 visible light image known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The 2004 photo previously showed the most distant galaxies, but the new infrared pictures from the WFC3 allow even more remote galaxies to be seen.

At these distances, you’re really looking back in time, like you have a time machine

Capturing the image took four days, and the total exposure lasted 173,000 seconds. In the three months since, twelve scientific papers have been submitted on it. On Tuesday one of these confirmed the galaxies as the furthest ever seen.

They are also the oldest, with the light from them having taken around 13 billion years to reach Earth.

“At these distances, you’re really looking back in time, like you have a time machine,” said Ray Villard, of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. “Those things don’t exist anymore.”

The photo could be one of the ultimate achievements of the Hubble telescope, now almost twenty years old.

“These new observations are likely to be the most sensitive images Hubble will ever take,” said Professor Jim Dunlop of the University of Edinburgh.

The servicing mission in May extended the telescope’s life by around five years, but it is scheduled to be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope in 2014. This will use infrared imaging and have a greater collecting area than Hubble, and it is thought that it may be able make out objects from just 100 million years after the Big Bang.

“We’ve really pushed Hubble to its limits,” said Villard, “and we need a bigger space telescope to go back even farther. It shows us there are really exciting things to look for with the Webb telescope.”

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<br\>This image, taken in August 2009 by the Hubble telescope with its WFC3 upgrade, shows the oldest galaxies ever seen. Image: NASA, ESA.

<br\>Astronaut working on Hubble during Servicing Mission 4 in May 2009, which included the installation of WFC3. Image: NASA.


The Hubble Space Telescope, seen from Space Shuttle Atlantis. Image: NASA.


Another image from WFC3, showing NGC 6302 — popularly known as the “Butterfly Nebula” Image: NASA, ESA.

Latest Web Design Trends}

Latest Web Design Trends


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Sweden’s Crown Princess marries long-time boyfriend

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sweden’s first royal wedding since 1976 took place Saturday when Crown Princess Victoria, 32, married her long-time boyfriend and former personal trainer, Daniel Westling, 36. The ceremony took place at Stockholm Cathedral.

Over 1,200 guests, including many rulers, politicians, royals and other dignitaries from across the world, attended the wedding, which cost an estimated 20 million Swedish kronor. Victoria wore a wedding dress with five-metre long train designed by Pär Engsheden. She wore the same crown that her mother, Queen Silvia, wore on her wedding day 34 years previously, also on June 19. Victoria’s father, King Carl XVI Gustaf, walked Victoria down the aisle, which was deemed untraditional by many. In Sweden, the bride and groom usually walk down the aisle together, emphasising the country’s views on equality. Victoria met with Daniel half-way to the altar, where they exchanged brief kisses, and, to the sounds of the wedding march, made their way to the the silver altar. She was followed by ten bridesmaids. The couple both had tears in their eyes as they said their vows, and apart from fumbling when they exchanged rings, the ceremony went smoothly.

Following the ceremony, the couple headed a fast-paced procession through central Stockholm on a horse-drawn carriage, flanked by police and security. Up to 500,000 people are thought to have lined the streets. They then boarded the Vasaorden, the same royal barge Victoria’s parents used in their wedding, and traveled through Stockholm’s waters, accompanied by flyover of 18 fighter jets near the end of the procession. A wedding banquet followed in the in the Hall of State of the Royal Palace.

Controversy has surrounded the engagement and wedding between the Crown Princess and Westling, a “commoner”. Victoria met Westling as she was recovering from bulemia in 2002. He owned a chain of gymnasiums and was brought in to help bring Victoria back to full health. Westling was raised in a middle-class family in Ockelbo, in central Sweden. His father managed a social services centre, and his mother worked in a post office. When the relationship was made public, Westling was mocked as an outsider and the king was reportedly horrified at the thought of his daughter marrying a “commoner”, even though he did so when he married Silvia. Last year, Westling underwent transplant surgery for a congenital kidney disorder. The Swedish public have been assured that he will be able to have children and that his illness will not be passed on to his offspring.

Westling underwent years of training to prepare for his new role in the royal family, including lessons in etiquette, elocution, and multi-lingual small talk; and a makeover that saw his hair being cropped short, and his plain-looking glasses and clothes being replaced by designer-wear.

Upon marrying the Crown Princess, Westling took his wife’s ducal title and is granted the style “His Royal Highness”. He is now known as HRH Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland. He also has his own coat-of-arms and monogram. When Victoria assumes the throne and becomes Queen, Daniel will not become King, but assume a supportive role, similar to that of Prince Phillip, the husband of the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Four dead, at least 15 injured after gunman opens fire at fitness center in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Four people have been shot and killed and at least 15 wounded when a gunman opened fire inside a LA Fitness center in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. The gunman was among the dead.

Reports say the man walked into a dance room where an all-female Latin dance class was in session, turned off the lights and began to shoot people. CNN reports that the gunman was a “middle-aged white male.” One witness said he was carrying a duffel bag, which he put down before shooting into the crowd. After opening fire, he turned the gun on himself. At least 30 people are reported to have been in the room at the time of the shooting.

Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said, “I’ve never seen nothing quite like this. It was very chaotic. […] There’s a good belief that the shooter is deceased.”

Collier Township Police Chief Tom Devin stated that the police, “believe the shooter committed suicide at the scene but we’re not positive.” Police report that the shooter’s motive may have been a domestic dispute with one of the exercisers.

Mike Hentosz, a witness who was inside the gym, said, “I feel like it’s a dream. I don’t know what to think of it.” A woman participating in the class, Nicole, said that 10 minutes into the class, “a middle-aged white male walked into the class. He had a big gym bag. […] He looked out of place in a class full of women.” When he began firing, she reported, she ran out of the gym and escaped in passerby’s car.