September 9, 2008
By KI MAE HEUSSNER
Sept. 1, 2008
Get ready to say goodbye to unlimited Internet access.
Last week, Comcast -- the second-largest Internet service provider in the country -- announced that starting Oct. 1 it would officially set a threshold for monthly Internet usage.
In an online announcement, the service provider said that although it already contacts residential customers who use excessive amounts of bandwidth, it had never provided a specific limit. Now, Comcast said it will amend its user agreement to say that users will be allowed 250 gigabytes of monthly usage.
The company emphasizes that its cap is generous and will only affect about 1 percent of its 14.4 million customers. Experts say these customers might include heavy gamers and those who use a significant amount of bandwidth for creating or uploading video.
But industry watchers note that Comcast's decision is indicative of a trend by Internet service providers to move toward usage-based service plans.
On Aug. 1, Frontier Communications changed its policy to define acceptable use for high-speed Internet as 5 GB per month. In June, Time Warner Cable launched a test program in Beaumont, Texas, that imposes monthly Internet usage limits of 5 GB to 40 GB on subscribers.
Because Comcast is a heavyweight in the industry, its announcement has drawn criticism and questions from broadband and telecommunications researchers.
"The biggest problem I have [is] they haven't given us any data. They've given us no proof," said Om Malik, author of "Broadbandits: Inside the $750 Billion Telecom Heist" and editor of GigaOM, a popular technology Web site. Malik said GigaOm and five other technology news sites managed by his online publishing company, Giga Omni Media, receive about two million visitors each month.
Comcast's limit is substantially higher that those established by other service providers, Malik acknowledges. But he maintains that the company's decision amounts to metered billing and, if that's the case, it should provide a tool so that consumers can monitor their own usage.
"[With] electricity companies -- and water companies -- you have the choice to monitor the electricity you are using," said Malik, drawing comparisons between Comcast and regulated public utilities that maintain the infrastructure for public services.
"If they are going to behave like a utility, shouldn't they be treated like one?" he added.
He also argued that even though a 250 GB bandwidth cap is generous in today's terms, it may not be sufficient in the future, especially as bandwidth-needy, high-definition video becomes more common.
In its announcement, Comcast said its average residential customer uses approximately 2 to 3 GB. To put its monthly limit of 250 GB in perspective, the company said that to consume that much bandwidth a customer would have to send 50 million e-mails, 62,500 songs, download 125 standard-definition movies or upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos.
Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas told ABCNews.com that the company has had an excessive use policy for years but has never disclosed its definition of excessive use.
When the customers would exceed the limit, he said Comcast would call to alert them. In most cases, the customer would voluntarily moderate his or her usage in response. If customers didn't cut back on usage, Comcast reserved the right to suspend service. Douglas said the only difference in the policy is that customers now know that the threshold is 250 GB per month.
He says Comcast does not provide a meter tool because free and fee-based meter tools are readily available and not necessary for 99 percent of their consumers.
Although Douglas says that the company is evaluating usage-based billing models that resemble Time Warner's trial program, he stressed that this cap is different.
"This is about protecting the 99 percent of people who don't use a massive amount of bandwidth from the small percentage that does use an extreme amount," he said.
But industry experts observe that Internet technology is advancing rapidly and the lack of good data make it difficult to prepare for the future.
"Today's bandwidth hog is tomorrow's average user," said Fred Von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit civil liberties group. If a cap had been imposed on the top 10 percent of Internet users in 1997, many Internet innovations of today would likely not exist, he said.
While Von Lohmann said that no one has the right to unlimited Internet access, developments in the industry need to be monitored.
"This is not an emergency, but it is something that needs to be carefully watched," he said.
Like Malik, Von Lohmann said the industry would benefit from increased transparency, in terms of providing data regarding customers' Internet usage. Another major issue he flagged is competition.
Comcast sells high-definition video through other parts of its business off-line. These Internet usage limits essentially handicap competitors who want to deliver similar products online, he said.
Doug Williams, an analyst with media research firm Jupiter Research, told ABCNews.com that cable operators, such as Comcast, have been and will continue to be first movers in imposing bandwidth caps because they have a more immediate need to do so.
Unlike telephone companies that also provide Internet service, cable operators use a shared distribution network. Extremely heavy use by a single connection has a negative and direct impact on other users in that area, he said.
As cable operators continue to impose these caps, telephone companies will be paying close attention to the customer response to determine if they should move in the same direction.
Williams says that for customers accustomed to a world of unlimited Internet access, these caps might not be welcome changes. As cell phone plans, long-distance telephone packages and other services move to flat-rate, unlimited approaches, this is a step in the opposite direction, he said.
"I think that's going to be something that consumers are not going to be particularly happy about. But they might not have many options for recourse," he said. "That's not going to make people happy -- especially in this economic climate."
(NaturalNews) When handsome and talented young actor Heath Ledger died last winter, the New York City medical examiner's autopsy report revealed his death was due to an unintentional life-ending cocktail of prescription drugs, including anti-anxiety medications Alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium) and Lorazepam (Ativan), the sleeping pill Zopiclone (Lunesta) and the sedative Temazepam (Restoril), which is also used for insomnia.
So this was just one of those rare tragedies that mostly happens to troubled or hard living Hollywood stars, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, people from all walks of life are dying by the thousands across the U.S. due to prescription drugs. And a new study, Florida’s annual report on Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons, dramatically illustrates this truth.
Relying on autopsies performed in 2007, the state report concludes prescription drugs (anti-anxiety benzodiazepines, the muscle relaxer carisoprodol and all opioids, excluding heroin) continue to be found in both lethal and non-lethal amounts in the dead far more often than illicit drugs.
The bottom line: the rate of deaths in Florida caused by prescription drugs is over three times as high as the rate of deaths caused by all illicit drugs combined.
The study shows 2,328 Floridians died of opiate, or painkiller, overdoses while another 743 lost their lives from over-consuming benzodiazepines, which include the drugs Valium and Xanax. On the other hand, about a third less number of people, 989, died of overdoses from illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine (“speed”).
In a statement for the press, Bill James, Director of Florida’s Office of Drug Control, said: “Prescription drugs are not safe and must be secured. Doctors and pharmacists must help law enforcement identify and stop doctor shoppers. We are also looking for ways to curb illegal internet sales. Only through a comprehensive, coordinated strategy will we be able to reverse this tragic, unacceptable trend."
That’s a nice goal and it is true some people abuse prescription drugs. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration states as many as 7 million Americans are abusing prescription medication -- far more people than those using cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy and inhalants combined.
And the truth is, even when legal medications are taken as prescribed, they are too often dangerous and even deadly. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), an estimated 1.9 million adverse drug reactions occur each year, and up to 180,000 of them could be life threatening or even fatal.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released data showing that at least half of all Americans take one prescription drug and one in six of us takes three or even more prescribed medications. And this love affair with pharmaceuticals for health problems is no doubt why prescription drug deaths are now the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease, cancer and stroke.
In 10 minutes, a computer algorithm developed by Stanford University scientists learned, and then flawlessly replicated, more than 20 years of radio-controlled helicopter expertise.
The team has already been approached by private companies who want to use the software, which isn't specific to helicopters, to create helicopters that could monitor humanitarian disasters, track wildfires or locate land mines.
"The goal was to take an off-the-shelf helicopter and write a program to fly it as good as an expert," said Adam Coates, one of the scientist involved in the project.
"We are now more accurate and consistent than an expert human-piloted helicopter," said Pieter Abbeel, another Stanford scientist involved with the project.
Coates and Abbeel, along with their advisor, Andrew Ng, worked with helicopters because of the challenge they present. Helicopters, according to the researchers, are inherently unstable.
"The dynamics of helicopter flight are incredibly complicated; blades are flexing, air is churning, etc.," said Coates. "It's simply too complex for us to map out mathematically."
Instead of trying to write a program that would teach the helicopters, they wrote a program that lets the computers teach themselves, using data gathered from a host of sensors and equipment.
The helicopters themselves are equipped with accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers which monitor a helicopter's speed, acceleration, direction and a host of other variables.
Ground-based video and positioning instruments gather more data about the helicopter's performance. All of the data from ground and air are then fed into a computer for analysis. A larger helicopter could carry the entire instrument and analysis package.
While the cameras rolled and instruments recorded, Garett Oku, an expert radio-controlled helicopter pilot, sent one helicopter into a series of flips, rolls, twists and other complex maneuvers, even a "tic toc" -- a difficult aerial trick where the helicopter's nose points straight up and it swings side to side like a pendulum. Oku flew the same 10-minute routine several times.
Ten minutes after the final demonstration flight, the computer had turned Oku's 20 years of training and experience into data that another helicopter then used to create flawless flights, one after another.
"For an expert helicopter pilot to fly the same exact path over and over is very impressive," said Coates. "Some of them spend years trying to do it."
Eric Feron, now a professor at Georgia Tech, worked on autonomous helicopters several years ago when he was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He says the Stanford team has pushed the limits of autonomous helicopter flight and computer programming.
"What I'm most impressed with is the learning part, the ability of the algorithm to learn and to fly and then to reproduce that in another aircraft," said Feron. "No one had done that before."
Learning still requires a teacher, however. The computer algorithm can only copy the moves of a human pilot. It can't think independently or creatively, although that is certainly a possibility for the future, said both Coates and Abbeel.
Most Powerful Atom Smasher Coming Alive
Sept. 8, 2008 -- It has been called an Alice in Wonderland investigation into the makeup of the universe -- or dangerous tampering with nature that could spell doomsday.
Whatever the case, the most powerful atom-smasher ever built comes online Wednesday, eagerly anticipated by scientists worldwide who have awaited this moment for two decades.
The machine at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, promises scientists a closer look at the makeup of matter, filling in gaps in knowledge or possibly reshaping theories.
The first beams of protons will be fired around the 17-mile tunnel to test the controlling strength of the world's largest superconducting magnets. It will still be about a month before beams traveling in opposite directions are brought together in collisions that some skeptics fear could create micro "black holes" and endanger the planet.
The project has attracted researchers of 80 nationalities, some 1,200 of them from the United States, which contributed $531 million of the project's price tag of nearly $4 billion.
"This only happens once a generation," said Katie Yurkewicz, spokeswoman for the U.S. contingent at the CERN project. "People are certainly very excited."
The collider at Fermilab outside Chicago could beat CERN to some discoveries, but the Geneva equipment, generating seven times more energy than Fermilab, will give it big advantages.
The CERN collider is designed to push the proton beam close to the speed of light, whizzing 11,000 times a second around the tunnel 150 to 500 feet under the bucolic countryside on the French-Swiss border.
Once the beam is successfully fired counterclockwise, a clockwise test will follow. Then the scientists will aim the beams at each other so that protons collide, shattering into fragments and releasing energy under the gaze of detectors filling cathedral-sized caverns at points along the tunnel.
CERN dismisses the risk of micro black holes, subatomic versions of collapsed stars whose gravity is so strong they can suck in planets and other stars.
But the skeptics have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Hawaii and in the European Court of Human Rights to stop the project. They unsuccessfully mounted a similar action in 1999 to block the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York state.
CERN's collider has been under construction since 2003, financed mostly by its 20 European member states. The United States and Japan are major contributors with observer status in CERN.
Scientists started colliding subatomic particles decades ago. As the machines grew more powerful, the experiments revealed that protons and neutrons -- previously thought to be the smallest components of an atom -- were made of still smaller quarks and gluons.
CERN hopes to recreate conditions in the laboratory a split-second after the big bang, teaching them more about "dark matter," antimatter and possibly hidden dimensions of space and time.
Meanwhile, scientists have found innovative ways to explain the concept in layman's terms.
The team working on one of the four major installations in the tunnel -- the ALICE, or "A Large Ion Collider Experiment" -- produced a comic book featuring Carlo the physicist and a girl called Alice to explain the machine's investigation of matter a split second after the Big Bang.
"We create mini Big Bangs by bumping two nuclei into each other," Carlo explains to Alice, who has just followed a rabbit down one of the hole-like shafts at CERN.
"This releases an enormous amount of energy that liberates thousands of quarks and gluons normally imprisoned inside the nucleus. Quarks and gluons then form a kind of thick soup that we call the quark-gluon plasma."
The soup cools quickly and the quarks and gluons stick together to form protons and neutrons, the building blocks of matter.
That will enable scientists to look for still missing pieces to the puzzle -- or lead to the formulation of a new theory on the makeup of matter.
Kate McAlpine, 23, a Michigan State University graduate at CERN, has produced the Large Hadron Rap, a video clip that has attracted more than a million views on YouTube.
"The things that it discovers will rock you in the head," McAlpine raps as she dances in the tunnel and caverns.
CERN spokesman James Gillies said the lyrics are "absolutely scientifically spot on."
"It's quite brilliant," Gillies said.
September 7, 2008
Members of We Are Change Colorado caught up with globalist kingpin Henry Kissinger and CFR president Richard N. Haass during the RNC proceedings in Minnesota, who were both dismissive towards hard questions about policies related to terrorism and depopulation measures.
Dr. Kissinger grinned at mention of the New World Order before dismissing any knowledge of National Security Memo #200, which calls for the use of “food as a weapon” and otherwise advocates depopulation schemes that include extreme measures to be used against the ‘lesser developed countries’ in the third world, whose population growth supposedly threatens the National Security interests of the United States.
Kissinger penned the memo in 1974 while serving in the Ford Administration. Kissinger told We Are Change cameras that he believed terrorism and 3rd population explosion were directly connected.
Activist Joby Weeks also asked the former National Security Adviser if he believed AIDS could be a manufactured threat tied to depopulation schemes, to which Kissinger said he ‘had no idea’ before absurdly claiming he had “never heard of” NSSM 200. When he was reminded that he wrote the memo, he blurted out “Oh, come on!,” possibly thinking that his infamous memo was being tied to the notion of AIDS being a manufactured bio-weapon.Kissinger, who was closed followed by police security and who was also mobbed by star-struck sycophants who have either over-looked or never understood his inherent evil (exercised repeatedly over the decades in brutal foreign policy, from the third world to the Vietnam & Laos and now in Iraq), left the scene quickly after questions were put to him.
Richard Haass, who was presiding over a Council on Foreign Relations discussion panel, told We Are Change cameras that there was no need of oversight in regards to the CFR. “We have no power; if people want to listen to us, that’s great, if not, that’s fine.”
This is a gross understatement of a think tank so powerful that it has staffed virtually every administration’s National Security Council and many other cabinet positions, including Vice President, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State, since the early 1950s. While its policy recommendations are technically separate altogether from government, its influence is more than dominant in government’s thinking.
Haass and the other CFR members present laughed at and brushed off concerns about one Philip Zelikow, who wrote a CFR white paper in Foreign Affairs in December 1998 about the potential for ‘catastrophic terrorism’ to “divide our past and future into a before and after
Woodward compares clandestine program to Manhattan Project, could secret weapon be terrifying radiation canon?
Paul Joseph Watson
September 9, 2008
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward revealed to Larry King last night that the U.S. has embarked on a “secret killing program” in Iraq which has dramatically reduced attacks on coalition troops by wiping out terrorists, but what could this secret weapon possibly be?
A CNN report details Woodward’s revelations.
The program — which Woodward compares to the World War II era Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb — must remain secret for now or it would “get people killed,” Woodward said Monday on CNN’s Larry King Live.
“The top secret operations will “some day in history … be described to people’s amazement,” Woodward told King.
While he would not reveal the details, Woodward said the terrorists who have been targeted were already aware of the capabilities.
“The enemy has a heads up because they’ve been getting wiped out and a lot of them have been killed,” he said. “It’s not news to them.”
For the weapon to be comparable to the atomic bomb, one would speculate that it must employ some kind of exotic new technology and is potentially related to neutron bomb and electromagnetic weapons research.
As far back as 2002, a Cox News Service report entitled Super-Secret Microwave Weapons May Be Used In Iraq, speculated that the military was preparing to utilize high-powered microwave weapons that send bursts of electromagnetic energy which completely disable enemy electronic devices.However, Woodward’s discussion of the secret weapon wiping out alleged terrorists in large numbers suggests it may be a far more barbaric device than an EMP weapon, which would more traditionally be used against standing armies rather than scattered insurgents.
One possibility is that the weapon is something similar that described to film maker Patrick Dillon by Iraqi infantryman Majid al-Ghazali - a frightening giant flame-thrower type device that instead shoots out “concentrated lightning bolts” or radiation bursts that result in vehicles and people being almost literally liquidized.
During a street battle in Baghdad on April 12 2003, Al-Ghazali describes witnessing American troops unveil an oddly configured tank which “suddenly let loose a blinding stream of what seemed like fire and lightning, engulfing a large passenger bus and three automobiles.”
“Within seconds the bus had become semi-molten, sagging “like a wet rag” as he put it. He said the bus rapidly melted under this withering blast, shrinking until it was a twisted blob about the dimensions of a VW bug. As if that were not bizarre enough, al-Ghazali explicitly describes seeing numerous human bodies shriveled to the size of newborn babies. By the time local street fighting ended that day, he estimates between 500 and 600 soldiers and civilians had been cooked alive as a result of the mysterious tank-mounted device.”
Al-Ghazali adds that following the battle, U.S. troops were scrupulous about burying the evidence of the weapon’s deadly consequences, but that telltale signs remained which he showed to journalist Dillon.
Dillon, a battlefield medic in Vietnam, Somalia and Kosovo, stated, “I’ve seen a freaking smorgasbord of destruction in my life, flame-throwers, napalm, white phosphorous, thermite, you name it. I know of nothing short of an H-bomb that conceivably might cause a bus to instantly liquefy or that can flash broil a human body down to the size of an infant. God pity humanity if that thing is a preview of what’s in store for the 21st century.”
An interview with Majid al-Ghazali can be viewed below along with a further exploration of exotic weapons systems being employed in Iraq. Aid workers and others have backed up reports of terrifying new weapons systems being deployed that cause horrific injuries and agonizing deaths. Woodward’s characterization of the victims merely as “terrorists” conceals the fact that a great number of the victims of these brutal weapons are no doubt innocent people caught up in the fighting.
Ancient civilizations, the Maya and Ancient Egypt, are known for their incredible art of architecture. The ancient people could never imagine that the form of their pyramids would be used as a model for the latest ecology-friendly construction that will become another decoration of Dubai, InFuture.ru reports.
Timlinks, which develops environmentally safe projects, has recently published several stunning images of a giant pyramid titled Ziggurat. The company also posted the information regarding the plans to officially open the pyramid during the Cityscape Dubai exhibition which is slated to take place on October 6-9 this year. The giant pyramid will be built on 2.3 square kilometers of land and will be capable of housing up to one million people.
Timlinks said that their Ziggurat would not be dependent on the energy system due to the use of steam, wind and other natural resources. The building will also be distinctive for its highly efficient transport communication system that will operate both vertically and horizontally. In addition, the company plans to use private green zones for agricultural purposes.
Specialists of the International Environment Institute said that the technologies used at Ziggurat would make it a viable center. Timlinks has already patented the construction and the technology that were developed for the project. Several European professors will attend Cityscape Dubai to explain how an object like Ziggurat can be used in bigger projects, which probably means that the giant pyramid will not be the only construction of such kind in the world.
A ziggurat was a temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley and Iran, having the form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding stories or levels. Some modern buildings with a step pyramid shape have also been termed ziggurats.
Ziggurats were important to the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians of ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest examples of the ziggurat were simple raised platforms that date from the Ubaid period during the fourth millennium BC, and the latest date from the 6th century BC. The top of the ziggurat was flat, unlike many pyramids. The step pyramid style began near the end of the Early Dynastic Period. Built in receding tiers upon a rectangular, oval, or square platform, the ziggurat was a pyramidal structure. Sun-baked bricks made up the core of the ziggurat with facings of fired bricks on the outside. The facings were often glazed in different colors and may have had astrological significance. The number of tiers ranged from two to seven, with a shrine or temple at the summit. Access to the shrine was provided by a series of ramps on one side of the ziggurat or by a spiral ramp from base to summit. Notable examples of this structure include the Great Ziggurat of Ur and Khorsabad in Mesopotamia.
The ziggurats had no internal chambers. They were almost always square or rectangular, where one side was typically more than 170 feet (50 meters) long.
The Mesopotamian ziggurats were not places for public worship or ceremonies. They were believed to be dwelling places for the gods. Through the ziggurat, the gods could be close to mankind, and each city had its own patron god. Only priests were permitted on the ziggurat or in the rooms at its base, and it was their responsibility to care for the gods and attend to their needs. The priests were very powerful members of Sumerian society.
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PITTSBURGH -- City police wrote nearly 200 disorderly conduct citations over a 32-month period for swearing, obscene gestures and other acts deemed disrespectful -- which the American Civil Liberties Union said was unacceptable and showed a lack of training.Those statistics came from a Right to Know request that was made in connection with a lawsuit filed by David Hackbart, who said he was improperly cited for giving the middle finger to another driver -- and then a police sergeant -- while trying to parallel park in Squirrel Hill in April 2006.When a driver blocked Hackbart on Murray Avenue, Hackbart made an obscene gesture and then heard a voice saying, "Don't flip him off," according to Vic Walczak, the ACLU's legal director in Pennsylvania.
"Without looking at who was saying that, as he was turning, he flips the bird to the sound of the voice, which turns out to be a Pittsburgh police officer," Walczak said.The ACLU is helping Hackbart fight his citation and fine on First Amendment grounds. Also, Walczak said the city should improve its police officer training and discipline to prevent similar citations from being issued in the future."While flipping somebody off or using profane language may not be pleasant, it is constitutionally protected speech, especially when it's uttered towards a public official," Walczak said.Twenty months of court records obtained by the ACLU show city police giving 188 disorderly conduct citations to people using profanity or a profane gesture between March 1, 2005, and Oct. 31, 2006."The police need to understand that they're not Miss Manners, they can't be enforcing nice language, and that it's inappropriate for them to use the criminal laws to punish somebody because they may use profane language," Walczak said.Police Chief Nate Harper and Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson told WTAE Channel 4 Action News that "profanity in and of itself is not an unlawful conduct," but disorderly conduct citations by city police take into account all conduct involved.Officers are well-trained to make those decisions, said Harper and Donaldson, who denied the ACLU's claims to the contrary.In a recent court filing, the city said Hackbart's disorderly conduct citation was not for his gestures, but because he was blocking traffic -- although the officer on the case did note in the citation that Hackbart had used the middle finger.In 2002, a Pittsburgh man won a $3,000 jury verdict after being cited for a traffic dispute in which he cursed at officers.