Saturday, April 2, 2005

Regional U.S. telephone giant SBC Communications is one step closer to offering cable television to the 18 million households in its 13 state coverage area. The company announced a $195 million contract with Scientific-Atlanta Thursday to provide a video operations center and regional hubs for the new service. Under the brand name, U-verse, the SBC’s television rollout is set to launch in 2006 after field trials begin later this year.

The company is seeking the so-called “triple play,” where a telecommunications company offers voice, data and video in one bundled package. Local telephone companies like SBC have been losing business to cable TV companies, which have added telephone and Internet services in recent years.

In a slew of recent deals, SBC is looking to stop that trend. Within the past six months it has signed alliances with various technology firms to build out a fiber network to the home strategy. For instance, SBC has a $1.7 billion deal with Alcatel to build out its fiber optic network and a 10-year, $400 million, pact with Microsoft to license its IPTV technology to allow multi-channel television to stream over its Internet backbone.

In most of the U.S. only cable TV companies like Comcast have been able to offer the “triple play” of voice, video and data services. But traditional phone companies like SBC and Verizon have been upgrading their copper wire telephone networks to fiber optic. SBC says it plans to spend billions of dollars to overhaul its telecommunications network, saying the aging and brittle copper wires which were originally laid in the early 1900s do not have enough bandwidth to allow television capability.

Student protesters take over Q&A

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Feb

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The broadcast of popular Australian TV show Q&A was interrupted on Monday night by a student protest targeting Australian Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

The protest was in response to proposals from the Commission of Audit for the May 13 budget suggesting the deregulation of university education.

Christopher Pyne had been the focus of many questions on the panel before the protest. One question initially directed at Pyne from the audience was given to former parliamentary speaker Anna Burke to discuss first. When she started to answer, students unfurled a banner behind her reading “More brains, not warplanes — Fund education”. This was accompanied by rhyming slogans shouted from the crowd of students including the phrase: “No cuts. No fees. No corporate universities.”

Unable to quell the protesters, the ABC briefly cut the program to air a musical segment from a previous show, while removing the protesters from the building. Upon return to the broadcast, about two minutes later, the host Tony Jones apologised for the incident: “Apologies to the minister, apologies to everyone on the panel, apologies to the wider audience watching[…] This is not what we want to happen on the program, that is not what democracy is all about and those students should understand that.”

Social media responded to the demonstration immediately, with mixed reactions about the incident itself and Jones’ handling of it. Education writer Maralyn Parker remarked on Twitter, “The riot on #qanda is indicative of how deeply Australians feel about the destruction of education the Abbott Govt is inflicting on us”.

The commission proposed to raise tuition costs by 14% and require repayment of the HECS loan starting at minimum wage, A$32,354, according to Gwilym Croucher of the University of Melbourne. The commission also proposed to reduce Commonwealth subsidies down to 45%.

News briefs:June 4, 2010

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A police officer has shot and killed his wife and two of their children at the train station in the French city of Noyon in the department of Oise, the local prosecutor said, after the wife had informed the officer of her intention to separate from him. Their sons were aged three and five; a third child, twin to the five year old victim, survived the attack and is in the care of child services. The killings took place around 11:30 local time (0930 UTC) on Sunday.

The wife, born in 1983, called the gendarmes (police) in the morning, and they arrived to find her explaining to their five children about the domestic argument which had escalated. The husband returned while the police were present, and they reported he seemed calm and did not interfere with the children being moved to a neighbor’s home, so they departed. The woman reportedly chose to leave her house when her husband was not there, and headed to the station, where the husband awaited them armed.

After assassinating his family, the police officer committed suicide. The wife’s family lived in Guiscard, near Noyon. The station at Noyon was closed after the incident. Late on Sunday, the police were searching for a witness who escaped after observing the events.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

While Theresa May remains Prime Minister of Britain, her party, the Conservative Party, won Thursday’s general election but lost its majority in Parliament.

The next scheduled general election was not until 2020. May requested this general election, called a snap election, in April, when polls indicated it would strengthen the then-slight majority the Conservatives held in Parliament. Talks to establish the specifics of Britain’s departure from the European Union are set to begin June 19. Last year, British voters decided to leave the EU, but many of the specifics of the United Kingdom’s new relationship with the rest of Europe have yet to be established. May and the other Conservatives favor a “hard Brexit”, in which Britain would lose its current level of access to Europe’s single market and have to deal with higher tariffs and more complicated customs processes but it would regain full control of its borders with respect to trade and immigration. An increase in the number of Conservative Parliamentary seats would have supported this plan.

“Officially Theresa May is still the partner in Brexit negotiations,” said senior German MP Stephan Meyer, “but the political reality is different after this disastrous defeat. I can’t imagine that May will be able to remain prime minister.”

Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission said, “As far as the Commission is concerned we can open negotiations tomorrow morning at half past nine […] First we have to agree on the divorce and exit modalities, and then we have to envisage the architecture of our future relations. I do hope that the result of the elections will have no major impact on the negotiations we are desperately waiting for.”

A Parliamentary majority requires 326 of the organisation’s 650 seats. The Conservative Party holds 318 outright, including May’s own seat in Maidenhead, and the Labour Party holds 262, having gained about 30 in this election. In Britain, the leader of whichever political party has the most seats becomes Prime Minister, though they are also formally appointed by the monarch. Theresa May became leader of the Conservative Party on July 11 of last year and was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II two days later. Cases in which no political party wins outright are called a hung Parliament, and then two or more parties rule together in coalition. Britain had a coalition government from 2010 to 2015. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party has pledged an unofficial alliance with the Conservatives, which would bring them up to 328.

This would make May the second Prime Minister in a row to call an election with unexpected results. David Cameron called for a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, not expecting the voters would reject it.

May’s current ministry said most of her senior officials, including Treasurer Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, will remain in the Cabinet.

May met with Queen Elizabeth II yesterday to request her permission to form a government in her name, a traditional formality.

US Senate panel approves healthcare reform bill

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10
Feb

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The United States Senate Committee on Finance approved a proposal to reform health care on Tuesday, clearing it to move forward. The bill passed by a 14-9 vote, gaining support from the committee’s thirteen Democrats, and one Republican.

Senator Olympia Snowe was the only senator from the Republican party to back the bill. However, she said this might change as the bill moves through Congress.

There are many, many miles to go in this legislative journey

“There are many, many miles to go in this legislative journey. My vote today is my vote today. It doesn’t forecast what my vote will be tomorrow,” Snowe said.

President Barack Obama, who supports the bill as part of his effort to overhaul the country’s health care system, welcomed the committee’s vote. “We are closer than ever before to passing healthcare reform but we are not there yet. Now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back – now is the time to dig in further and get this done. In this final phase we should engage with each other with civility and seriousness that has brought us this far and that this subject deserves.”

The bill, which contains a ten-year plan with an estimated cost of US$829 billion, is aimed at lowering healthcare costs and increasing the affordability of insurance. Proponents will now seek to merge it with another bill from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus emphasized, “Americans want us to craft a package that will get the 60 votes needed to pass.” He argued that the Finance bill was the best candidate to attract needed the centrist support.

Critics, however, have said that the proposed plan is too costly, and will cause the government to interfere too much into the private healthcare sector.

“We can now see clearly that the bill continues its march leftward,” said the senior Republican on the committee, Senator Charles Grassley. “This bill is already moving on a slippery slope to more government control of healthcare.”

Monday, December 12, 2005

French police said on Monday they have smashed an Islamist terrorism ring in Paris. Between 20 and 30 people were arrested in the Paris region following an investigation into the funding of Islamist extremists. Police described Monday’s events as a “major operation aimed at disbanding an Islamist network linked to terrorism”.

Among those arrested in a string of dawn raids were individuals linked to previous terrorism investigations and common crime, the police statement said. Those detained remained in custody and police were searching a number of premises and Internet cafes. The suspects were under surveillance for several weeks and were detained after evidence emerged that “violent actions” were being planned.

Those arrested are suspected of staging armed robberies to finance radical Islamist causes. French investigators were reportedly “convinced” those arrested intended to stage violent acts on French territory, a French radio station reported.

Some 20 suspects were arrested before dawn in five different regions. Others were arrested several hours later around suburban Paris. The raids were carried out by the domestic intelligence service, DST, detectives from France’s organised crime unit and members of the RAID crack intervention squad.

France has been on red alert, the second highest security level, since the suicide bomb attacks on London transport on July 7.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Standard Chartered Marathon, nicknamed “The Greatest Race on Earth“, held its third stage in Mumbai, India today. Because of the scorching hot weather in India, marathon runners had to adapt to the weather to overcome the challenge.

More than 30,000 runners participated in this race, joined by local NGOs and disabled who participated in a special charity short-distance running including 6km dream run, 4.3 km senior, and 2.5km wheel-chair classes. Gabriela Szabo, former Romanian Olympic Gold Medalist, named as charity ambassador of the race, was pleased by the participation from experts and NGOs.

An hour into the race, former champion Daniel Rono and Joseph Kimisi took the lead, but then Tariku Jifar from Ethiopia and defending champion John Ekiru Kelai took over Rono and Kimisi. After 40 kilometres, Kelai took a decisive lead and finally retained his champion title in 2 hours 12 minutes 22 seconds.

In the Women’s Group, Mulu Seboka from Ethiopia won the champion with 2H30m03s. Local runners Surendra Singh & Kavita Raut won the Men’s and Women’s Champions in the half-marathon class.

Division & Groups Men’s Group Women’s Group
South East Asia Dang Duc Bao Nguyen (Vietnam) 2:30’57” Pacharee Chaitongsri (Thailand) 2:55’29”
North East Asia Chin-chi Chiang (Chinese Taipei) 2:33’33” Xin Zhang (China) 2:53’59”
South Asia and Middle East Ajith Bandara Adikari Mudiyanselage (Sri Lanka) 2:24’07” Lakmini Anuradhi Bogahawatta (Sri Lanka) 3:04’21”
Africa John Ekiru Kelai (Kenya B) 2:12’22” Irene Kemunto Mogaka (Kenya B) 2:32’50”
Europe and Oceania Oleg Kharitonov (Russia) 2:30’55” Helen Stanton (Australia) 2:52’33”
America Paulino Canchanya Canchanya (Peru) 2:28’13” Rosangela Figueredo Silva (Brazil) 2:58’16”

Division & Groups Men’s Group Women’s Group
South East Asia Vietnam Thailand
North East Asia Chinese Taipei China
South Asia & Middle East India Sri Lanka
Africa Kenya B Kenya B
Europe & Oceania Russia Finland
America Peru United States

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The 1999 and 2000 year model Honda Civic SiR tops the list of Canada’s most stolen cars.

Consumer popularity also assures the cars will be popular with thieves. Its the second year in a row the Honda SiR has topped the list.

Rick Dubin Vice President of Investigations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada said “The Civics are easy targets.”

Dubin said that once stolen, the cars are most often sold to “chop shops” where thieves completely dismantle the vehicles. The automobile’s individual parts are worth more than the entire car.

The sheer numbers of the cars and their lack of theft deterrent systems make them thieves’ preferred choices.

1999 and 2000 Honda Civics do not come with an electronic immobilizer, however all Hondas from 2001 and onward are equipped with an immobilizer. Immobilizers will be mandatory on all new cars sold beginning September 2007. The devices enable an engine computer to recognize an electronic code in the key. If the code in the key and the engine don’t match exactly, the vehicle can’t be started.

In third place was the 2004 Subaru Impreza, while the 1999 Acura Integra came in fourth, with the 1994 Honda Civic rounding out the top five.

In sixth place, the 1998 Acura Integra, and the 1993 Dodge Shadow completed seventh.

When asked why early model vehicles are selected, he said that, “auto thieves continue to find it easier to steal older vehicles lacking an IBC-approved immobilizer. We’ve seen this trend developing for several years, and these results confirm it.”

Another Honda automobile, the 1996 year model Civic filled eighth place, with the 2000 German Audi TT Quattro in ninth.

The American 1996 Chevrolet/GMC Blazer rounded out the top ten.

None of the above cars had an electronic immobilizer.

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