Mr. Wint and his partner Mr. Kidd are American assassins working for Blofeld. Their assignment is to kill off every link in a Slumber Brothers mobster diamond-smuggling pipeline running from South Africa to the United States via the Netherlands, and to steal the diamonds from the mobsters so as to divert them to Blofeld, who is using them for a laser satellite. The pair takes a sadistic pleasure in their work — for example, to Wint’s amusement Kidd photographs the body of the old lady (Mrs. Whistler) they have drowned in the canals of Amsterdam, joking about sending the pictures to the primary-age children to whom she was a school teacher. This is typical of an overtly morbid sense of humour they share, completing each other’s sentences as a game and delighting in competing over laboured, blackly humorous puns. Thus an attempt to incinerate James Bond alive in a crematorium is “a glowing tribute” and “heart-warming.” They also amuse themselves with the twisted application of proverbs — for example, after blowing up a helicopter in flight Kidd begins the old quote, “If God had wanted man to fly …” to which Wint concludes: “He would have given him wings, Mr. Kidd”; and Wint saying “If at first you don’t succeed, Mr. Kidd”, followed by Kidd’s reply, “Try, try again, Mr. Wint.” Continue reading A revisit to two of my favorite Bond characters: Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd
According to The Advocate, MoveOn.org’s lawyers have received a cease-and-desist letter from state of Louisiana officials over a billboard that criticizes Governor Bobby Jindal for not expanding Medicaid in his state under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The billboard is part of a campaign started just days ago targeting republicans over Obamacare Medicaid expansion. It’s a takeoff on the state’s tourism slogan, “Pick Your Passion.”
And there’s the rub,
“We have invested too much time and money to create a positive message to promote Louisiana,” Dardenne said. “I’m not going to let partisan Washington politics infringe on the brand we have created to market our state.”
This is a non-biased and incomplete comparison of Linux and Windows. It can serve as an introduction to Linux for Windows users. I created it while learning about Linux as a sort of personal cheat-sheet. The topics are in no particular order.
Note: Work has begun on letting you suppress the display of certain topics – to save paper when printing.
Flavors: Hide Show
Flavors (This topic was last revised April 2007)
Both Windows and Linux come in many flavors. All the flavors of Windows come from Microsoft, the various distributions of Linux come from different companies (i.e. Linspire, Red Hat, SuSE, Ubuntu, Xandros, Knoppix, Slackware, Lycoris, etc. ).
Windows has two main lines. The older flavors are referred to as “Win9x” and consist of Windows 95, 98, 98SE and Me. The newer flavors are referred to as “NT class” and consist of Windows NT3, NT4, 2000, XP and Vista. Going back in time, Windows 3.x preceded Windows 95 by a few years. And before that, there were earlier versons of Windows, but they were not popular. Microsoft no longer supports Windows NT3, NT4, all the 9x versions and of course anything older. Support for Windows 2000 is partial (as of April 2007).
The flavors of Linux are referred to as distributions (often shortened to “distros”). All the Linux distributions released around the same time frame will use the same kernel (the guts of the Operating System). They differ in the add-on software provided, GUI, install process, price, documentation and technical support. Both Linux and Windows come in desktop and server editions.
There may be too many distributions of Linux, it’s possible that this is hurting Linux in the marketplace. It could be that the lack of a Linux distro from a major computer company is also hurting it in the marketplace. IBM is a big Linux backer but does not have their own branded distribution. Currently there seem to be many nice things said about the Ubuntu distribution.
Linux is customizable in a way that Windows is not. For one, the user interface, while similar in concept, varies in detail from distribution to distribution. For example, the task bar may default to being on the top or the bottom. Also, there are many special purpose versions of Linux above and beyond the full blown distributions described above. For example, NASLite is a version of Linux that runs off a single floppy disk (since revised to also boot from a CD) and converts an old computer into a file server. This ultra small edition of Linux is capable of networking, file sharing and being a web server. Continue reading Windows vs Linux – by Michael Horowitz circa 2008
Proponents of synthetic biology tout its potential for bringing about great advances in medicine, energy and cheaper foods. But health advocates worry that the risks to health and the environment may be too great. Pictured: a researcher using “synbio” to engineer new microbes as an alternative to yeast for turning complex sugars into biofuels.
- Photo via: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/Roy Kaltschmidt
Dear EarthTalk: Should those of us who care about our health and the planet be concerned about the new trend in genetic engineering called synthetic biology?
– Chrissie Wilkins, Bern, NC
“Synthetic biology” (or “synbio”) refers to the design and fabrication of novel biological parts, devices and systems that do not otherwise occur in nature. Many see it as an extreme version of genetic engineering (GE). But unlike GE, whereby genetic information with certain desirable traits is inserted from one organism into another, synbio uses computers and chemicals to create entirely new organisms.
Proponents of synbio, which include familiar players such as Cargill, BP, Chevron and Du Pont, tout its potential benefits. According to the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SYNBERC), a consortium of leading U.S. researchers in the field, some promising applications of synthetic biology include alternatives to rubber for tires, tumor-seeking microbes for treating cancer, and photosynthetic energy systems. Other potential applications include using synbio to detect and remove environmental contaminants, monitor and respond to disease and develop new drugs and vaccines.
While these and other applications may not be widely available for years, synthetic biology is already in use for creating food additives that will start to show up in products on grocery shelves later this year. Switzerland-based Evolva is using synthetic biology techniques to produce alternatives to resveratrol, stevia, saffron and vanilla. The company’s “synthetic vanillin” is slated to go into many foods as a cheaper and limitless version of real vanilla flavor. But many health advocates are outraged that such a product will be available to consumers without more research into potential dangers and without any warnings or labeling to let consumers know they are eating organisms designed and brought to life in a lab. Continue reading Synbio?
Note: It is getting really tiresome fighting this climate change denier bullshit. This is my last post on the topic. I redirect anyone seriously considering the issue to the NASA website.
In the meantime, my reply to a commentator:
“Are we humans controlling the climate”? This echoes the “are humans causing climate change” trophe which is a more direct statement of the proposition.
Unless a person is willing to assert the U.S. Academy of Science, NASA, the EPA, the EU FEA, CFCAS, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), among others, are all colluding to disguise the evidence, then the answer is a simple yes: human activity is responsible for the climate change deviations from the norm, especially that which has been detected in the past twenty years.
The ONLY, repeat, the only contrarians appear to be libertarians and right-wingers, some of whom fully understand the implications of human driven climate change, but seek to misdirect enquiry for personal or business reasons; and others who directly or indirectly benefit from denial, and a smaller group who…
Yes, it is possible to verify the existence of something that challenges the consensus, seen in a particular environment, class of study, or period of time and place that may question the global applicability of a human caused climate change anomaly; but that does NOT change the consensus of professional analysis and opinion that it is indeed happening globally, and is due primarily to human activity
Please notice, the agencies do NOT universally assert: “human activity caused climate change”, which is a significantly different assignment of blame or responsibility. One can think of a plant, any plant, and question “why is it taller/bigger/more fruit bearing than another one in a different locale”? Or why does a polar bear speed on land lag the mountain grizzly’s? Since they are both bears, what caused the difference?
Science can detect if there is a difference, measure it, and chart the variance from a historical norm; but showing any effect to be a direct result of a singular cause is highly problematic. This does NOT alter the scientific consensus, or effect: that, for example, if a person is being pursued by a polar bear, it’s possible for a person to escape, but if it’s a grizzly, then most likely it’s “game over.”
(via WWF – submitted by Nick Sundt on 27 April 2010 – 12:34pm)
The evidence of climate change is growing all around us. In this posting, we provide a summary of the key findings of the new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change Indicators in the U.S.
“The principle itself of dogmatic religion, dogmatic morality, dogmatic philosophy, is what requires to be rooted out; not any particular manifestation of that principle. The very corner-stone of an education intended to form great minds, must be the recognition of the principle, that the object is to call forth the greatest possible quantity of intellectual power, and to inspire the intensest love of truth: and this without a particle of regard to the results to which the exercise of that power may lead, even though it may conduct the pupil to opinions diametrically opposite to those of his teachers.
We say this, not because we think thought and opinions unimportant, but because of the immense importance which we attach to them; for in proportion to the degree of intellectual power and love of truth which we succeed in creating, is the certainty that (whatever may happen in any one particular instance) in the aggregate of instances true opinions will be the result; and intellectual power and practical love of truth are alike impossible where the reasoner is shown his conclusions, and informed beforehand that he is expected to arrive at them.”
- John Stuart Mill – “Civilization,” London and Westminster Review (April 1836)
Georgia Politicians are at it again, targeting women and taking away our right to control our own bodies. And I’m fed up.
Monday, our State Senate will vote on SB 98, a bill that will prohibit any health plan sold through the health care exchange from providing abortion coverage, for any reason except for an unconstitutional definition of “medical emergency.” It also bans abortion coverage for every single person covered by the state health benefit plan in this state.
I could go on and on about the awful intricacies of this bill—how it’s unconstitutional, how it will leave victims of horrific crimes without options, how it unfairly targets low-income women and their families, how all its authors are men and it was vetted by an all-male committee… And believe me, there is a lot wrong with this bill, and all of that deserves to be aired. But instead, I’m going to share with you why I’m taking this latest assault so personally. And then I’m going to share with you a glimmer of hope.
This week, I’ll be a happy 36 weeks pregnant. Like my mother and sisters before me, I have now experienced, and continue to do so, the highs and lows of pregnancy. Specifically, I’ve felt the fear, the absolute terror, of having to endure extra tests to see if my pregnancy was healthy. Luckily, my son appears to be in good health. But that’s not the case for a lot of women. Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong during pregnancy, and for that reason termination may become a necessity.
And it should be covered by insurance.
As of December 2012, more than 650,000 people were covered by the State Health Benefit Plan—and the average annual pay for a state employee was $20,548. Now imagine a woman, making $20k a year, who finds out at her anatomy scan that her child is anencephalic, or without a brain, and will die at birth. How can she possibly afford the thousands of dollars that surgery will cost because Georgia Politicians think they know what’s better for her and her family than she does? Their absolute callous disregard may force women to become walking tombs. Georgia Politicians have no right telling us what medical procedure we may or may not have. Because the truth of the matter is, not one of the men pushing SB 98 has experienced pregnancy. And not one of those men deserves the authority to make a decision for me or any other woman. And we need to call our legislators every day telling them as much, take our anger to facebook and twitter and talk about our rights with our friends and colleagues.
Largely lost with a Sunday posting during a holiday weekend were two pieces of excellent reporting by Rhonda Cook in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cook shone a light on private probation companies and the damage they have wrought in Georgia. Bothpieces, sadly, are still hidden behind the Journal-Constitution’s paywall (I’ve asked the good folks there to “tear down those walls!”) but this is a national scandal—other states have tried to privatize their probation services—and it deserves national attention.
The main piece from Cook is titled “Spotlight Falls on Private Probation Companies Over Fees, Supervision,” and it tells the story of how one state has outsourced its probation services to private companies, the executives of which have huge financial incentives for charging as many people as much as possible for “services” that would keep them out of jail. The result is a form of the statewide “debtors’ prison” you’ve probably read about in Dickens (whose father, incidentally, spent time in such a prison). Cook’s story begins with this:
In 2000, Georgia cleared the way for private companies to supervise low-level offenders, claiming it freed up overburdened state probation workers while costing taxpayers nothing.
But records reviewed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution show some in the industry have pocketed large fees while, in at least some cases, doing little to supervise those under their watch. And despite promises that taxpayers would pay nothing to supervise the offenders, they have footed the bill when the probationers are arrested and jailed because they owe money to the company, not the courts.
A string of lawsuits argue the system effectively criminalizes poverty and that some companies have illegally forced offenders to pay for things, such as electronic monitoring and drug testing, beyond what was ordered by the courts.
Siding with that argument, a Georgia judge last year temporarily stopped the state’s largest private probation company from doing business in east Georgia. the Georgia Bureau of Investigations is also looking into whether another company has illegally tacked on fees.
This is not exactly a new development and Georgia officials can hardly claim to be surprised by what the Journal-Constitution has found. In November 2012, for example, the Southern Center for Human Rights, based in Atlanta, issued a report warning of the dangers of the state’s move to privatize its prisons and probation services. “There are 35 private probation companies in Georgia operating in over 600 courts that enjoy minimal oversight because of a state statue that excludes them from open records requests,” the SCHR report noted. Continue reading Private enterprise ‘probation services’ in Georgia
Top-secret documents from the National Security Agency and its British counterpart reveal for the first time how the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom targeted WikiLeaks and other activist groups with tactics ranging from covert surveillance to prosecution.
The efforts – detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.” The documents also contain internal discussions about targeting the file-sharing site Pirate Bay and hacktivist collectives such as Anonymous.
One classified document from Government Communications Headquarters, Britain’s top spy agency, shows that GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly monitor visitors to a WikiLeaks site. By exploiting its ability to tap into the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, the agency confided to allies in 2012, it was able to collect the IP addresses of visitors in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines like Google.
Another classified document from the U.S. intelligence community, dated August 2010, recounts how the Obama administration urged foreign allies to file criminal charges against Assange over the group’s publication of the Afghanistan war logs.
A third document, from July 2011, contains a summary of an internal discussion in which officials from two NSA offices – including the agency’s general counsel and an arm of its Threat Operations Center – considered designating WikiLeaks as “a ‘malicious foreign actor’ for the purpose of targeting.” Such a designation would have allowed the group to be targeted with extensive electronic surveillance – without the need to exclude U.S. persons from the surveillance searches.
In 2008, not long after WikiLeaks was formed, the U.S. Army prepared a report that identified the organization as an enemy, and plotted how it could be destroyed. The new documents provide a window into how the U.S. and British governments appear to have shared the view that WikiLeaks represented a serious threat, and reveal the controversial measures they were willing to take to combat it.
In a statement to The Intercept, Assange condemned what he called “the reckless and unlawful behavior of the National Security Agency” and GCHQ’s “extensive hostile monitoring of a popular publisher’s website and its readers.”
“News that the NSA planned these operations at the level of its Office of the General Counsel is especially troubling,” Assange said. “Today, we call on the White House to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the extent of the NSA’s criminal activity against the media, including WikiLeaks, its staff, its associates and its supporters.”
Illustrating how far afield the NSA deviates from its self-proclaimed focus on terrorism and national security, the documents reveal that the agency considered using its sweeping surveillance system against Pirate Bay, which has been accused of facilitating copyright violations. The agency also approved surveillance of the foreign “branches” of hacktivist groups, mentioning Anonymous by name.
The documents call into question the Obama administration’s repeated insistence that U.S. citizens are not being caught up in the sweeping surveillance dragnet being cast by the NSA. Under the broad rationale considered by the agency, for example, any communication with a group designated as a “malicious foreign actor,” such as WikiLeaks and Anonymous, would be considered fair game for surveillance.
Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in surveillance issues, says the revelations shed a disturbing light on the NSA’s willingness to sweep up American citizens in its surveillance net.
“All the reassurances Americans heard that the broad authorities of the FISA Amendments Act could only be used to ‘target’ foreigners seem a bit more hollow,” Sanchez says, “when you realize that the ‘foreign target’ can be an entire Web site or online forum used by thousands if not millions of Americans.” Continue reading More Snowden info on how the NSS tried to attack Wikileakes
One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.
By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today: Continue reading And the Snowden leaks continue to show the malfeasance of the NSS
The way a room is lit can affect the way you make decisions
Date: February 20, 2014
Source: University of Toronto
The next time you want to turn down the emotional intensity before making an important decision, you may want to dim the lights first.
A new study from the University of Toronto Scarborough shows that human emotion, whether positive or negative, is felt more intensely under bright light. Alison Jing Xu, assistant professor of management at UTSC and the Rotman School of Management, along with Aparna Labroo of Northwestern University, conducted a series of studies to examine the unusual paradox of lighting and human emotion. A new study shows that human emotion, whether positive or negative, is felt more intensely under bright light. In the brighter room participants wanted spicier chicken wing sauce, thought the fictional character was more aggressive, found the women more attractive, felt better about positive words and worse about negative words, and drank more of the “favorable” juice and less of the “unfavorable” juice.
“Other evidence shows that on sunny days people are more optimistic about the stock market, report higher wellbeing and are more helpful while extended exposure to dark, gloomy days can result in seasonal affective disorder,” says Xu. “Contrary to these results, we found that on sunny days depression-prone people actually become more depressed,” she says, pointing to peaks in suicide rates during late spring and summer when sunshine is abundant. Xu and Labroo asked participants to rate a wide range of things — the spiciness of chicken-wing sauce, the aggressiveness of a fictional character, how attractive someone was, their feelings about specific words, and the taste of two juices — under different lighting conditions.
Xu says the effect bright light has on our emotional system may be the result of it being perceived as heat, and the perception of heat can trigger our emotions. “Bright light intensifies the initial emotional reaction we have to different kinds of stimulus including products and people,” she says.
The majority of everyday decisions are also made under bright light. So turning down the light may help you make more rational decisions or even settle negotiations more easily. “Marketers may also adjust the lightening levels in the retail environment, according to the nature of the products on sale,” says Xu. “If you are selling emotional expressive products such as flowers or engagement rings it would make sense to make the store as bright as possible.”
Xu notes the effect is likely to be stronger on brighter days around noon when sunlight is the most abundant and in geographic regions that experience sunnier rather than cloudier days.
Yup, no doubt about it, the War on Drugs has been a terrific success.
…why just consider how many private contractors, er – sorry, enterprises, have benefited.
In 1971 City, County, State and Federal prisons were overwhelmingly government entities, there were almost no privately owned or managed prisons.
* * * * * * * *
By the Numbers: The U.S.’s Growing For-Profit Detention Industry
Photo by Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images file photo
by Suevon Lee
ProPublica, June 20, 2012, 1:41 p.m.
The growth of the private detention industry has long been a subject of scrutiny. A recenteight-part series in the New Orleans Times-Picayune chronicled how more than half of Louisiana’s 40,000 inmates are housed in prisons run by sheriffs or private companies as part of a broader financial incentive scheme. The detention business goes beyond just criminal prisoners.
Yes, the A-word is now everywhere, and most of the time it is no. So let’s lift the lid off the A-word, take a peek inside, and examine how it affects our everyday lives. Since it’s not exactly a pretty sight, it’s easy enough to forget that the idea of the apocalypse has been a container for hope as well as fear. Maybe even now we’ll find some hope inside if we look hard enough. Living a life so saturated with apocalypses undoubtedly takes a toll, though it’s a subject we seldom talk about.
When Lynn Buehring leaves her doctor’s office in San Antonio she makes sure her inhaler is on the seat beside her, then steers her red GMC pickup truck southeast on U.S. 181, toward her home on the South Texas prairie.
About 40 miles down the road, between Poth and Falls City, drilling rigs, crude oil storage tanks and flares trailing black smoke appear amid the mesquite, live oak and pecan trees. Depending on the speed and direction of the wind, a yellow-brown haze might stretch across the horizon, filling the car with pungent odors. Sometimes Buehring’s eyes burn, her chest tightens and pain stabs at her temples. On those days, she touches her inhaler for reassurance.
In another five miles Buehring, 58, passes into Karnes County, where she was born and once figured on living out her retirement, surrounded by a calm broken only by an occasional thunderstorm.
Today, however, the ranch-style house she shares with her 66-year-old husband, Shelby, is at the epicenter of one of the nation’s biggest and least-publicized oil and gas booms. With more than 50 wells drilled within 2.5 miles of their home, the days when the Buehrings could sit on the deck that Shelby built and lull away an afternoon are long gone. The fumes won’t let them.
Known as the Eagle Ford Shale play, this 400-mile-long, 50-mile-wide bacchanal of oil and gas extraction stretches from Leon County, Texas, in the northeast to the Mexico border in the southwest.
Since 2008, more than 7,000 oil and gas wells have been sunk into the brittle, sedimentary rock. Another 5,500 have been approved by state regulators, making the Eagle Ford one of the most active drilling sites in America.
The Eagle Ford and Barnett Shales (Click Image for Graphic)
Source: Texas Commission on environmental Quality; Railroad Commission of Texas; Paul Horn/InsideClimate News
Energy companies, cheered on by state officials, envision thousands more wells scattered across the plains. It is, an industry spokesman says, an “absolute game-changer” for a long-depressed region of about 1.1 million people, some of whom suddenly find themselves with enough money to ensure their grandchildren’s future.
In order to promote the sanctity of traditional marriage as the only road to happiness, Fox News created a video displaying lovely, happy couples. Meet Lela McArthur and Stephanie Figarelle from Anchorage, Alaska, the newly married couple whose wedding photo atop the Empire State Building played a role in a Fox News video. They are both women.
The happy couple won a contest last year for their dream wedding, and got married last Valentine’s Day at the famous landmark, on the first day that gay marriage became legal in New York.
Maybe Sunday brunch is just a more palatable religious experience for millennials. (Thinkstock)
t’s no secret that young Americans aren’t as religious as their elders. A survey released Wednesday by the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that part of that rift may be attributed to a perceived anti-gay bias in organized religion. Among those who have abandoned their childhood religion and are now religiously unaffiliated, one quarter say anti-gay teachings factored into their decision to go faithless. Among Millennials in the religious turned irreligious camp, almost one third said the same.
At first blush, that would appear to suggest clear causation: stuffy old anti-gay religious dogma is spooking all the hip youngsters. But while there is certainly a link between the two, it is an overly simplistic analysis that glosses over a host of reasons that Americans — and particularly younger ones — are losing their religion.
Let’s start by digging a little deeper into PRRI’s survey results. While 31 percent of Millennial religion-droppers said anti-gay teachings were a factor in their decision, only 14 percent called it a “very important” reason they went faithless. And fully two thirds of Millennials who abandoned religion said their decision had very little or nothing at all to do with religion’s position on homosexuals.
A recent Pew survey has found that one third of Americans believe that humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the dawn of time. That’s one third of the adult population who reject evolution, which is the bedrock theory of biology. Indirectly, they also reject the foundations of geology, physics and astronomy. Much of the commentary about this survey has focused on the religious and political correlations, but let’s look at the science behind the ideas. If evolution is correct (and it is) then it must have occurred over billions of years, not a mere 10,000 or so. So how do we know?—?really, really know?—?that the Universe is billions of years old? It all comes down to a bit of astronomy. Continue reading Support for the theory of evolution – from astronomy
Editor’s Note: Which 17 countries have faster Internet connections than the United States? See our Internet speed map.
(CNN) – People in the United States basically invented the Internet. So U.S. connections must be the fastest and cheapest in the world, right?
Not so much.
Broadband Internet speeds in the United States are only about one-fourth as fast as those in South Korea, the world leader, according to the Internet monitoring firm Akamai.
And, as if to add insult to injury, U.S. Internet connections are more expensive than those in South Korea, too.
The slower connection here in the U.S. costs about $45.50 per month on average, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In South Korea, the much-faster hookup costs $17 per month less. An average broadband bill there runs about $28.50.
So why is U.S. Internet so much slower and pricier than broadband connections in South Korea? The question is timely, as the U.S. government pushes forward with a “broadband plan” that aims to speed up connections, reduce costs and increase access to the Internet, especially in rural areas.
The comparison between South Korea and the United States is not perfectly instructive, especially since “we probably won’t ever be South Korea,” said Robert Faris, research director at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
“The whole political and social climate is so different, the geography is different, the history is so different,” he said. “It’s all pretty different.”
“The U.S. and its European allies on Wednesday turned up the pressure on Afghanistan to authorize foreign troops on its territory after 2014, even as officials acknowledged that they may have to wait for President Hamid Karzai‘s successor to resolve the standoff.At the opening of a two-day NATO meeting, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that all alliance troops serving in Afghanistan would follow the U.S. in withdrawing at the end of the year if Kabul refuses to sign an agreement with Washington. ‘If there is no agreement, there will be no NATO troops in Afghanistan after 2014,’ he said. ‘This is not our preferred option, but it might be the unfortunate outcome if the security agreement is not signed.’” More here.
Brass tacks: when you put all the tough talk and posturing aside, there’s actually very little interest in leaving Afghanistan. The NYT’s Helene Cooper, also with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Brussels: ” Listening to the Western defense officials gathered at a NATO meeting here on Wednesday, it would be easy to think that the United States and the rest of the international military coalition in Afghanistan have shifted into a full-speed withdrawal from the country by year’s end. But as all the withdrawal talk has hardened, another message can be read that may be a truer gauge of what Western officials really want to happen in Afghanistan…And there, defense analysts say, lies the truth that makes the Western ultimatum to Mr. Karzai look more like posturing than policy. Few of the interested parties – and especially not the Pentagon – really want to cut and run out of Afghanistan after 13 years of war in which almost 3,500 coalition troops, mostly American, have been killed; an untold but exponentially higher number of Afghan civilians have died or been wounded; and $700 billion has been spent.” More here. Continue reading DoD doublespeak is alive and kicking
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed a controversial bill Wednesday that would have allowed businesses in the state to deny service to gays and lesbians if they felt that serving them would violate their religious rights.
Gay rights advocates had denounced the legislation, labeling it a form of legalized discrimination, and Arizona’s two GOP senators and leading Republican candidates for governor had urged Brewer to veto the bill. Several GOP state legislators who had voted for the measure last week have said since then that it was not the right thing to do.
Arizona residents cheered Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of a controversial bill that would have allowed businesses to cite religious reasons as grounds for not serving gays.In an evening appearance before reporters in Phoenix, Brewer said the bill “does not address a specific or pressing concern” and is not part of her agenda
“I have not heard of one example in Arizona where business owners’ religious liberty has been violated,” Brewer said. “The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.”
Brewer told the bill’s supporters that she understands their desire to protect religious liberty but that the bill had the potential to cause more problems than it would solve. The legislation was passed last week in response to a ruling by the New Mexico state Supreme Court against a wedding photographer who declined to work for a couple’s same-sex wedding. Supporters of the bill say it was narrowly tailored and would have helped clear up an ambiguity in the state’s law.
“This measure should have been a political no-brainer and only went down because people either chose to ignore the plain language of the bill or refused to read it altogether,” said Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council. “This bill .?.?. bars government discrimination against religious exercise, so by vetoing this bill, Gov. Brewer is saying she supports government discrimination against people’s religious freedoms.”
But Chad Griffin, head of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, said that Brewer’s veto “spared her state from institutional discrimination and economic catastrophe.”
Among the strongest opponents of the bill were Arizona businesses; they worried that it could cost them customers. Some big-name companies, including Apple and American Airlines, publicly opposed the bill.
The state lost the ability to host the Super Bowl in the early 1990s after it declined to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is set to host the 2015 Super Bowl, and the game’s host committee spoke out against the law on Monday.
The bill passed through the GOP-controlled state legislature quickly last week, with the state Senate voting for it 17 to 13 and the state House approving it 33 to 27. All but three Republicans, on the House side, voted in favor.
In recent years, the state was the first to pass a restrictive immigration law, which other states have since emulated and part of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. It also passed legislation requiring presidential candidates to show proof of citizenship in order to appear on the state’s ballot, a measure Brewer vetoed.
Earlier this year, the state’s Republican Party voted to censure Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for what it labeled his “liberal” voting record. McCain was among those praising Brewer for her veto Wednesday.
“I appreciate the decision made by Governor Brewer to veto this legislation,” he said in a statement. “I hope that we can now move on from this controversy and assure the American people that everyone is welcome to live, work and enjoy our beautiful State of Arizona.”
Brewer told supporters of the legislation that she understood that “long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before.”
“Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes,” Brewer said. But she added that the bill “has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine, and no one would ever want.”
Rarely will the numbers match. If you are on cable, do this at least twice, once in off hours, one at prime time. Any difference?
Another factor to consider is streaming video, where 1080-x (Blu-Ray) video runs at up to 40 megabits per second, compared to the 3.5 megabits per second for conventional standard definition TV broadcasts. For live broadcast applications, a high-definition progressive scan format operating at 1080p at 50 or 60 frames per second is currently being evaluated as a future standard for moving picture acquisition. The EBU has been endorsing 1080p50 as a future proof production format because it improves resolution and requires no de-interlacing, allows broadcasting of standard 1080i25 and 720p50 signal alongside 1080p50 even in the current infrastructure and is compatible with the DCI distribution formats.
Comcast’s current offering to us asserts we get 28.8 Mbps down, and tests generally confirm that rate, in off hours only. However one should note that while 28.8Mbps sounds like a lot, and it is comparatively, it is still significantly less than standard Blu-Ray requirements if streamed via broadband rather than downloaded in part or in full in advance.
For the past two decades, the Internet has operated as an unregulated, competitive free market. Given the tendency of networked industries to lapse into monopoly—think of AT&T’s 70-year hold over telephone service, for example—that’s a minor miracle. But recent developments are putting the Internet’s decentralized architecture in danger.
In recent months, the nation’s largest residential Internet service providers have been demanding payment to deliver Netflix traffic to their own customers. On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Netflix has agreed to the demands of the nation’s largest broadband provider, Comcast. The change represents a fundamental shift in power in the Internet economy that threatens to undermine the competitive market structure that have served Internet users so well for the past two decades.
The deal will also transform the debate over network neutrality regulation. Officially, Comcast’s deal with Netflix is about interconnection, not traffic discrimination. But it’s hard to see a practical difference between this deal and the kind of tiered access that network neutrality advocates have long feared. Network neutrality advocates are going to have to go back to the drawing board.
The classic Internet
To understand what’s going on, it’s helpful to review the structure of the “classic” Internet.
This diagram is an idealized depiction of how the “classic” Internet of the late 1990s worked. Backbone Provider B provides Internet service to Yahoo, carrying traffic to users around the world. Provider B connects with other companies, such as Backbone Provider A. The residential ISP on the right is a customer of Backbone provider A, and it, in turn, offers Internet access to individual households. The red arrows indicate who pays whom for service. Because the two backbone providers are roughly the same size, they engage in what’s called “settlement-free peering”: They exchange traffic with each other with no money changing hands. Continue reading Comcast’s deal with Netflix makes network neutrality obsolete
Have on hand three days’ worth of water and food, an emergency supply kit for both home and automobile, radios with extra batteries, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal windows and doors Make a plan for contacting family members in an emergency Learn about different types of attacks so you will know what to do in an emergency Do not cancel events or travel plans Be especially aware of your surroundings and the events happening around youSource: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and U.S. Fire Administrator David Paulison
WASHINGTON (CNN) –Americans have apparently heeded the U.S. government’s advice to prepare for terror attacks, emptying hardware store shelves of duct tape.
On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after U.S. Fire Administrator David Paulison described a list of useful items, stores in the greater Washington, D.C. area reported a surge in sales of plastic sheeting, duct tape, and other emergency items.
These items, Paulison said, can be helpful after a biological, chemical or radiological attack.
A Lowe’s hardware store in Alexandria, Virginia, said every roll of duct tape has been sold. Another Alexandria Home Depot store reported sales of duct tape tripled overnight.
“Everything that was on that newscast, we are selling a lot of it,” said Rich Pierce with a Home Depot in the D.C. area.
In his advisory, Paulison recommended that households have on hand three days worth of water and food; an emergency supply kit for both home and automobile; radios with extra batteries; and plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal windows and doors. (What to do)
With concerns growing about al Qaeda’s interest in acquiring weapons of mass destruction, Paulison cautioned that aid after an attack could be hard to come by, at least initially.
He said that in the first 48 to 72 hours of an emergency, many Americans will likely to have to look after themselves.(Red Cross on preparedness)
If an attack occurs, Paulison said, households should tune in to local media outlets and not evacuate unless they are told to do so.
President Bush’s Homeland Security Council raised the national threat level from yellow to orange on Friday. Orange indicates a “high” risk of terrorist attack, and yellow indicates an “elevated” risk.
The level was raised in part because of a high amount of “chatter” being intercepted by intelligence agencies.
When the Department of Homeland Security urged Americans on Monday to take steps to prepare for a possible attack, it said the advice was intended not as a “dire” warning but as cautionary advice.
“Who would have thought that the only important conflict of the Cold War that would cast its terrible shadow into the twenty-first century would be Korea? All the other major problems that seemed more intractable at the time have been resolved for years—the Soviet Union has ceased to exist, the Iron Curtain has disappeared, Germany has reunified, Red China is back in the comity of nations, even the United States and Vietnam have reconciled. But the problem of a divided Korea seems as intransigent today as it did that fateful day of June 25, 1950, when North Korean tanks rolled over the 38th parallel and commenced a war exceeded in violence, death, destruction, and despair only by the First and the Second World Wars.
More than half a century has passed since that wretched war was fought, yet its ramifications are as palpable today as they were during the darkest days of the fighting. Indeed, the so-called Demilitarized Zone or DMZ that separates North Korea from South Korea is only the former main line of resistance or MLR of the actual war. The MLR has gone silent, but the front line is still there, just as it was on the last day of the war, July 27, 1953. Troops still line both sides of the DMZ. Guns point in both directions. The fighting has stopped, but the war goes on; it’s merely suspended. This is an armistice, not a peace. The only things that have changed along the front are the hills. During the war they were stripped bare of their trees and their vegetation by shellfire. Now the trees and the shrubs have grown back. The hills, at least, have recovered from the war. But North and South Korea still lie locked in a strange love-hate relationship. The animosity is tangible and inescapable, but the people on both sides yearn for reunion, for an end to the horrible separation, enmity, and invective.
This yearning is shown in the tremendous efforts in recent years to bring about reunions of families separated by the war and division, of numerous demonstrations on the streets of South Korea calling for unity, and by efforts of South Korea to open rail and road communications with North Korea. Kim Jong Il’s totalitarian regime has prevented public expressions in the north, but much evidence points to the same longing for close ties with the south among the North Korean people.
Since the fighting stopped, South Korea has grown into a tremendously successful, democratic, industrial state. Its capital, Seoul, is a vibrant city of eleven million people, filled with Korean-made cars, prosperous citizens, dynamic businesses, and a downtown that looks like Atlanta. North Korea has remained a closed Communist dictatorship, its economy paralyzed by rigid production quotas and tightly controlled by rules that give the people no freedom and few incentives. For onwards of a decade, North Korea has been unable to feed its people or to provide them even a modestly adequate standard of living. North Korea is slowly dying as a state. But its tyrannical leader Kim Jong Il, son of the late first dictator, Kim Il Sung, is still defiantly trying to follow the Communist ideology of a command economy, a system long since proven to be ineffective and long since rejected by Russia and China.
The North Korean leadership is trying desperately to survive by developing long-range rockets and other weapons it can sell abroad, especially to the few other rogue states left on the planet. It has been threatening to produce atomic weapons, in order to leverage economic and political concessions from the United States. How bizarre! Here is a nation that is menacing war as a way of obtaining food for its starving people! Kim Jong Il’s choice of confrontation rather than cooperation with the rest of the world demonstrates the same illogical madness that made his father defy the United States and try to conquer South Korea.
Thus, in a real sense the Korean War has not ended at all. It has entered a new and quite dangerous phase. There’s no indication Kim Jong Il harbors dreams of conquering South Korea. But his threat to renounce the armistice of July 1953 and his labeling as an act of war any move the United States might make to counter him is extremely confrontational. Hopefully, sane voices will prevail on both sides, and the terrors and tragedies of another armed conflict will not come to pass. Nevertheless, the divisions that split the peninsula half a century ago still exist with all their venom. This poison must be drained away, and the divided people must find a formula to come together. Korea was known for a thousand years as the Land of the Morning Calm. It is long since past time for serenity to return to this tragic, tortured country. Continue reading Korea – The First War We Lost
The simple fact is that all life-forms end in death and the elements of which they are composed return to the air, the oceans, and the earth to be taken up and recycled in some new organism.
This natural process is universal and is beyond dispute. What is challenged by atheists and freethinkers is the claim made by purveyors of religion that humans alone of all living forms have a ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’ which survives death and carries the essential characteristics of the person to a supernatural existence in a super natural realm.
The method or pathway for making this crossing to a new life beyond the grave varies widely between religions and between the multitude of Christian denominations. The Roman Catholic Church is probably the most dogmatic in its proclaimed route to Paradise – infant christening, confirmation, frequent mass attendances and the final rites. Donations and prayers to the saints are desirable adjuncts guarding against a period in purgatory.
Atheists maintain that the concept of humankind having a unique supernatural ‘soul’ is simply a primitive notion which has no basis in fact and that religious organisations are guilty of perpetrating a colossal fraud on ignorant and gullible people, chiefly through the indoctrination of infants. They are aided and abetted by the media who fear adverse reaction affecting profits if religious dogma is challenged. Continue reading Atheistism considered…
Note: Ok…I’m gonna flame the P.O.S. politicians behind these bills, in Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, Kansas, and elsewhere who are trying the same tactic.
* You guys are disgusting creeps for trying to disguise what you are doing, and for attempting to exert autocratic, paternalistic, religious impregnated fundamentalism upon the citizenry.
Women, Blacks, Latinos, LGBTs, Children, Doctors, Businesses, and Family Health Services do NOT want or need such legislation.
Religion should remain in the head, heart, home, and Church – not in civil law that encourages discrimination !
Article #1: Dangerous Policies are Endangering Women and Costing Lives
(via InsuranceNewsNet.com – February 22, 2014
Atlanta, Geogia (PRWEB) February 22, 2014
On Tuesday, February 25 at 11:30am, over 35 organizations and hundreds of their members will rally together at the State Capitol. The event, “Walk in My Shoes, Hear Our Voice,” is in protest of the silencing of women’s voices.
“Too many politicians openly support a denial of basic health care and the reversal of essential reproductive rights. While increasing numbers of anti-woman policies are put in place, women are dying. Legislators have consistently failed to listen to or allow the testimony of women who relate the real impact of these policies on their lives and health,” says Janelle Yamarick, Advocacy Director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center.
The nation’s rate of maternal mortality has been steadily rising, and nowhere is that increase more evident than in Georgia. Public health officials reported in 2013 that Georgia has the highest rate of pregnancy-associated deaths among all 50 states.
Jaime Chandra, FWHC’s Marketing & Communications Manager says, “We have reached the tipping point and we’re here to say: we won’t go back! The continuous legislation attempting to control women’s health decisions, both directly and indirectly, are dangerous. We are ready for our voice to be heard; it is time to move forward and commit to protecting women’s lives.”
Below, Feminist Women’s Health Center’s Advocacy Network provides potential impact of proposed legislation:
SB 377 & HB 1023 use broadly-scoped definitions that significantly expand the legal ability to refuse and discriminate based on religious objection. These bills define ‘burden’ as any application of law or policy and ‘person’ includes corporations and other entities. The impact of these bills would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions. These bills could also impact a woman’s ability to acquire prescriptions or referrals from her doctor, receive emergency reproductive health care, and may even impact employment based on marital status, martial history, contraception use, or pregnancy status. (http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/SB/377 &http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/1023)
SB 98 would prohibit Georgians from purchasing health insurance through the ACA exchange that provides comprehensive reproductive health care benefits, including abortion. State employees would also be denied this coverage, now by law. This bill changes the insurance coverage that Georgians have right now; most insurance plans cover abortion, but this bill removes those benefits with dangerously narrow medical emergency exceptions. (http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/SB/98)
SB 334 & HB 707, “The Georgia Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act,” would do exactly as the title suggests. It aims to prohibit any local or state government entity, including Universities, from engaging in activity that aids in the implementation of or education regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This bill would halt already funded programs that help uninsured Georgians find coverage. Further, it would create barriers to the preventative services guaranteed by the ACA. Since many pregnant women go into labor with chronic health problems, preventative healthcare is crucial to reducing maternal mortality. (http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/SB/334 & http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/707)
The hearing in Washington comes one week after New York state agreed under pressure from civil rights litigators to revamp policies and practices employing solitary confinement against juveniles. It comes one week after The New York Times published a remarkable op-ed piece from one of Tuesday’s witnesses, Colorado Department of Corrections chief Rick Raemisch, who spent 20 hours in solitary in late January to try to better understand its terrible toll upon the inmates under his control. (See The Atlantic’s coverage of thathere.)