Oct 6
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Apple announces new iPod range

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Apple have released several re-designs of their popular iPod range. In addition to the iPod Classic, Nano and Shuffle, they have announced the brand new iPod touch, a media player which mimics the iPhone’s touch-screen capabilities.

The new iPod Classic design features a larger memory space of up to 160GB or 40,000 songs, and has a new all-metal design. The iPod nano is now smaller and squarer, adding video playback to its features for the first time. The 4GB model is cheaper than its predecessor at $149/£99, but the 8GB is available in five colours at $199/£129. The iPod Shuffle is identical in design to the previous model, but is now available in a new range of five colours, with the same price of $79/£49.

The iPod touch also features in-built wi-fi technology, enabling users to access the internet and download music from Apple’s market-leading on line iTunes music store to their handset. It was announced that Starbucks would offer free wi-fi access to all users of the iPod touch in its cafes. The screen layout, similar to that of the iPhone, offers access to music, video, photos and the iTunes store. There are currently two models, at 8GB and 16GB of memory capacity.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs also announced that the price of Apple’s iPhone, currently only on sale in the US, will be cut by $200 to $399. He described the new iPod range as ‘one of the seven wonders of the world’.

Oct 6
Missing dog’s severed head found by 17-year old girl
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Missing dog’s severed head found by 17-year old girl

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A $2,500 reward has been issued by the Humane Society of the United States for information on an “implied terroristic threat”, according to Sergeant Jim Gray of the St. Paul Police Department.

According to Crystal Brown, 17 year old owner of the dog, a gift-wrapped box with a note saying “Congratulations Crystal. This side up. Batteries included.”, was left on her doorstep along with the severed head of her dog, Chevy, and a Valentine’s Day candy.

The dog, an Australian shepherd mix called Chevy, went missing in February and Crystal, his owner, spent weeks searching for him, posting fliers, going door to door, and visiting the local animal shelter.

Dale Bartlett, Deputy Manager for the Humane Society said that “This case was extremely heinous. I deal with hundreds and hundreds of cruelty cases each year. When I read about this case, it just took my breath away.”

“This was so cruel,” Crystal said. “We’re dealing with one sick, twisted person.”

  • AP. Girl finds missing dog’s head in box on doorstep [archived version] — CNN, March 15, 2007
  • AP. “Girl horrified to find her dog’s head in box” — The Sydney Morning Herald,
Sep 30
Republican leaders in US want more tax relief in economic stimulus
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Republican leaders in US want more tax relief in economic stimulus

Monday, January 26, 2009

As the newly inaugurated Barack Obama administration continues to push for a US$825 billion stimulus package to aid the struggling United States economy, some Republican legislators say they will not vote for such a plan without the inclusion of more tax cuts and less “unnecessary” spending.

Arizona Senator John McCain, Obama’s general election opponent and a leading voice within the Republican Party, says he would not vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan as it currently stands. Appearing on Fox News Sunday yesterday, McCain echoed his campaign platform in saying, “We need to make tax cuts permanent, and we need to make a commitment that there’ll be no new taxes.”

McCain and other Republicans say they are unhappy with the bill introduced in the House of Representatives, which combines roughly $550 billion in domestic spending with $275 billion in tax cuts. McCain believes not enough Republican proposals have been integrated into the plan, which he fears will result in the plan becoming “just another spending project” rather than a job creator.

“Republicans have not been brought in, to the degree that we should be in, to these negotiations and discussions. So far, as far as I can tell, no Republican proposal has been incorporated,” McCain said. “We’re losing sight of what the stimulus is all about, and that is job creation.”

The Arizona senator is known for his bipartisan efforts in Washington, D.C., but he defined his role in the new Senate as the “loyal opposition”, which does not mean “that I or my party will be a rubber stamp” for Obama, he said.

In his first weekly address since being sworn in, President Obama explained the stimulus plan in further detail, calling it a plan to “immediately jumpstart job creation as well as long-term economic growth.” He outlined several of the bill’s priorities, including the creation or salvation of up to four million jobs, as well as sweeping investments in health care, education, energy and infrastructure.

Among these investments are a new electricity grid with more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines, the weatherization of 2.5 million homes, health insurance protection for more than 8 million Americans, a renovation of over 10,000 schools, a project to repair thousands of miles of roadways, and an expansion of broadband Internet access.

Obama also laid out the rationale behind the stimulus, saying that “unprecedented action” is necessary in order to prevent further economic distress. “Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four,” Obama said. “In short, if we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.”

The president addressed the skepticism surrounding the stimulus package, pledging to “root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending”, while holding the government accountable for its actions. “We won’t just throw money at our problems,” Obama said. “We’ll invest in what works.”

Still, Republicans such as House Minority Leader John Boehner are skeptical of the plan’s effectiveness in rebuilding the economy. “I think a lot of Republicans will vote no because it’s a lot of wasteful Washington spending”, he commented on Meet the Press, repeating McCain’s call for less federal spending and more tax cuts.

Examples of “wasteful” spending cited by Republicans include millions of coupons to aid in the digital television transition, $200 million for new sod on the National Mall, and $360 million to fight sexually transmitted diseases, which includes funding for contraceptives. House Republicans have claimed it will take 10 years before the economy feels the effect of a stimulus, and that the combined spending of the stimulus and the financial bailouts of last year will leave future generations with over $2 trillion of debt.

In response to the stimulus plan being pushed through Congress, Boehner and Republican Whip Eric Cantor presented Obama with an alternative stimulus plan on Friday, one that relies exclusively on income and business tax cuts. “Our plan offers fast-acting tax relief, not slow-moving and wasteful government spending,” Boehner said. The counterproposal includes an income tax reduction that would save families an estimated $3,200 a year.

Despite this opposition, the stimulus bill is expected to pass through Congress by mid-February, as the Republican minority does not have enough votes to stop its approval. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed a general support of the plan at a White House meeting with Obama and other congressional leaders. “I do think we’ll be able to meet the president’s deadline of getting the package to him by mid-February,” McConnell said. The bill is expected to go before Congress for a vote on Monday, February 2.

Obama’s top economic adviser Lawrence Summers defended the stimulus plan while on Meet the Press. He said the bill was intended to balance the long-term initiatives mentioned above with the tax cuts desired by Republicans. He also said Obama was committed to spending three quarters of the stimulus money within 18 months.

Sep 18
Professional Solutions To Clogged Drains In Marion, Ia

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Preventive maintenance of the sewer and drain system around the house can save the homeowner quite a bit of time and stress. Keeping up with regular servicing of the septic system, the sump pump, and drains provides a peace of mind and saves money in the long run.

One of the most common complaints by the homeowners is dealing with clogged drains. Products like toothpaste, hair gel, shaving cream and oil can slowly damage drain lines. The clogs from hair and other debris accumulate over time, and while most people find it annoying, very few actually do anything about it until the blockage is complete and no water is draining. Only chemical treatment or high-pressure washing gets rid of drain blockages.

An emergency is not the best time to start looking for a plumber. Choosing a qualified service provider for Clogged Drains Marion IA out of the yellow pages is like playing the lottery. Even for simple maintenance needs, a reputable, licensed professional who offers a warranty on both labor and parts is invaluable. Many fraudulent companies and contractors with a bad reputation simply change the name and go right back to their dishonest practices. That’s why it’s best to go with a well-established business with a good word-of-mouth. Companies that prioritize customer satisfaction and offer written guarantees usually provide quality service. Click herefor more details about the clogged drain services in Marion, IA.

Asking around for referrals from friends, neighbors, and family who have dealt with Clogged Drains years, Roto-Rooter provides residential and commercial sewer and drain services.

Sep 10
Furry fans flock to Further Confusion 2007
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Furry fans flock to Further Confusion 2007

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

San Jose, California –Cell phones, cigarette lighters and glowsticks are raised in tribute as Circle of Life begins playing. Soon cheers drown out the song as the multicoloured performers appear on stage. A somewhat unusual introduction; but this is no ordinary show, and these are no ordinary attendees. This is Further Confusion, the second largest furry convention in the world.

The volunteer organizers have something to cheer about, too; Furry fans have gathered from far and wide at the DoubleTree Hotel to indulge their love of anthropomorphics, and Further Confusion’s 9th year is its largest, with a paid attendance of 2061. Their gains mirror those of Midwest FurFest, a similar convention held in Schaumburg, Illinois which grew 35% last November.

Both events feature art shows and auctions, live puppetry performance, masquerades, variety shows, games and parades, as well as panels that range from science and technology to society, sex and spirituality. Filling out the schedule, the hotel walls are lined with announcements of public and private room parties for separate groups. At night, the disco floor fills with dancing cats, dogs, and dragons.

For some, dressing up plays a large part of the convention – almost 300 brought a full costume. There are few professional mascots here, though, and only one or two of the costumes would be recognized by even the most avid cartoon-watcher. Instead, each act is planned and performed by other attendees, wearing “fursuits” of their own design. Many play off the year’s secret-agent theme — “Fur Your Eyes Only”.

Other fans seem content to restrict themselves to small accessories — perhaps some combination of paws, ears, or tail. Each fur bears a 3″x2″ badge detailing their personal character, or “fursona“. Often these characters are better-known than the people who play them.

It may seem lighthearted, even frivolous, but these conventions are becoming big business. Furry fans spent over $180,000 for lodging during the five days (Jan 18-22) of Further Confusion, and another $50,000 at the art auction. Attendees also purchase all manner of merchandise from attending dealers and artists, from on-the-spot art commissions and comic books of all ratings to prints, sculptures, and plush toys – even their very own fluffy tail.

Of course, any business has risk, and conventions can drain wallets when the sums just don’t add up. The first furry con, ConFurence in Southern California, ran successfully for over a decade, but cost its new organizer an estimated $60,000 in its last four years due to falling attendance before folding in 2003.

Anthropomorphic Arts and Education board member Peter Torkelson says that won’t happen to Further Confusion. Indeed, the convention ran a healthy surplus of almost $30,000 on $125,000 revenue last year, allowing it to pay off the last of its old debts and save for the future. As Torkelson explains: “The idea is if for some reason, say an earthquake happens, and it cripples the revenue stream, the convention will be able to survive into the next year. It does help our staff to know that we have [a reserve].”

The reserve also gives AAE the financial flexibility to fund charities throughout the year, a big part of its 501(c)(3) mandate. Over the nine years of the convention, attendees have raised over $60,000 for a variety of animal sanctuaries, wildlife refuges, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Further Confusion’s hopes for the future are high. Chairwoman Laura Cherry noted that, unlike previous years, the board has “gone all out” for next year’s tenth anniversary, booking as many rooms as the hotel could offer. The host for 2009 has yet to be decided, but for many fans the question was not whether the current hotel will reach a limit, but when – and where – the convention will find a new home.

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Sep 7
US military to carry out review following Wikileaks release of classified 2007 video
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US military to carry out review following Wikileaks release of classified 2007 video

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Following the release of classified video earlier this week, the US military is to carry out a review of a 2007 airstrike which occurred in Baghdad. At a press conference on April 5, 2010, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., the whistleblowing wiki Wikileaks released a video which appears to contradict the official US account of the attack.

The review follows the release of footage from the targeting system of an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, one of two United States Army helicopters engaging what they believed to be Iraqi insurgents.

The attack led to the death of two Reuters journalists, driver Saeed Chmagh, photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, and other Iraqi civilians. The official U.S. Army investigation report that followed the attack concludes that the death of the Reuters staffers and civilians was as a result of collateral damage of an engagement against Iraqi insurgents. However the released video and the associated radio chatter suggests that the army aviators had mistakenly identified the camera equipment used by the journalists as weapons, and the group of Iraqi civilians and journalists themselves were the target of the attack. The video and radio chatter have been confirmed as genuine by a U.S. Defense official speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

Wikileaks says the video comes from “military whistleblowers” and that it was passed to them in an encrypted form. Wikileaks broke the encryption on the video after a public appeal for help, including an appeal for time on a supercomputer.

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Sep 7
MiniMax Discount to open inaugural stores in southern Romania
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MiniMax Discount to open inaugural stores in southern Romania

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

MiniMax Discount, a recently-established joint venture between several Romanian and foreign investors, will open its first three discount stores between today and April 28. The discount stores, which will be similar to supermarkets, will open in the southern Romanian cities of Slatina, Urziceni and Târgovi?te. MiniMax invested 750,000 euro per outlet, with each store having 1,000 m² of floor space and a parking area for 100 cars. The first store to be opened will be the one in Slatina, with the other ones opening by April 28.

The company is planning to open a total of ten stores this year, as well as another twenty in 2006. It is expected that most of the stores will open in small- to medium-sized cities, of greater than 20,000 inhabitants, rather than larger cities of over 150,000 inhabitants. In a few years time, it has said that it plans to extend its network to over 100 stores.

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Sep 7
What To Consider In Choosing The Right Nail Salon

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Most women want to get a quick time out from their daily hustles. A Nail Salon in Tucsonis the best place where you can sit down for a while and get your hands pampered. Fortunately, there is a great number of nail salons everywhere. It seems that there is one salon in just about every street corner of the city, leaving women with great options. In order for you to find the best nail salon, there are a number of things that you need to consider.

It would help if you ask around for possible recommendations. You can ask your friends, neighbor or colleagues about their favorite nail care center. Recommendations are a great way of discovering the best nail spa in the city.

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The first thing you have to consider when choosing a nail spa is its cleanliness. The salon should follow proper sanitation system to avoid possible infections. Check if the stations are well cleaned up and if they use disposable tools. Some of the best Nail Salons in Tucson provide their clients with their new set of tools that they should bring every time they visit. Sharing of manicure and pedicure sets is a big no-no. You should also check whether they have good sanitary practices and if all staff members follow them diligently. You might also want to consider looking at their bathrooms and waiting areas. This gives you an overall view of the sanitation of the salon.

Most states in the US require licenses for all nail salons and nail technicians. This ensures that the technicians have received and completed appropriate training, particularly with regards to ensuring safety of the public. Make sure that the salon displays their licenses in a prominent place.

You also want a Nail Salon that offers a wide range of services. When you go out to have your nails treated, you normally want to avail of several services at one time. A good salon should have different services so that you will have good options. Then, you also have to consider the cost of the services. Many people would put price as the topmost factor in choosing a service provider. While it is a logical factor, you should be extra careful not to go for salons that offer suspiciously cheap prices. There are salons that charge extra fees after the job is done, making your bills unusually higher. If you have got more time, you can try looking for coupons online or in print ads. You can use this to get discounts from nail salons.

Finally, you have to consider the overall atmosphere of the Nail Salon. It should not only be clean but also have a friendly and welcoming ambiance. The place should make you feel comfortable so that you can totally relax and rest.

There are so many nail salons in the city but not all can meet your standards. Invest some of your time choosing which one best suits your personal preferences.

If you are looking for a reliable nail salon in Tucson, select one that offers various options to suit your personal taste and preference. You should visit SpanivaTucson.com for more information.

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Sep 7
Category:July 20, 2010
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Aug 24
Israel Journal: Is Yossi Vardi a good father to his entrepreneurial children?
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Israel Journal: Is Yossi Vardi a good father to his entrepreneurial children?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone is currently, courtesy of the Israeli government and friends, visiting Israel. This is a first-hand account of his experiences and may — as a result — not fully comply with Wikinews’ neutrality policy. Please note this is a journalism experiment for Wikinews and put constructive criticism on the collaboration page.

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Dr. Yossi Vardi is known as Israel’s ‘Father of the Entrepreneur’, and he has many children in the form of technology companies he has helped to incubate in Tel Aviv‘s booming Internet sector. At the offices of Superna, one such company, he introduced a whirlwind of presentations from his baby incubators to a group of journalists. What stuck most in my head was when Vardi said, “What is important is not the technology, but the talent.” Perhaps because he repeated this after each young Internet entrepreneur showed us his or her latest creation under Vardi’s tutelage. I had a sense of déjà vu from this mantra. A casual reader of the newspapers during the Dot.com boom will remember a glut of stories that could be called “The Rise of the Failure”; people whose technology companies had collapsed were suddenly hot commodities to start up new companies. This seemingly paradoxical thinking was talked about as new back then; but even Thomas Edison—the Father of Invention—is oft-quoted for saying, “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

Vardi’s focus on encouraging his brood of talent regardless of the practicalities stuck out to me because of a recent pair of “dueling studies” The New York Times has printed. These are the sort of studies that confuse parents on how to raise their kids. The first, by Carol Dweck at Stanford University, came to the conclusion that children who are not praised for their efforts, regardless of the outcome’s success, rarely attempt more challenging and complex pursuits. According to Dweck’s study, when a child knows that they will receive praise for being right instead of for tackling difficult problems, even if they fail, they will simply elect to take on easy tasks in which they are assured of finding the solution.

Only one month earlier the Times produced another story for parents to agonize over, this time based on a study from the Brookings Institution, entitled “Are Kids Getting Too Much Praise?” Unlike Dweck’s clinical study, Brookings drew conclusions from statistical data that could be influenced by a variety of factors (since there was no clinical control). The study found American kids are far more confident that they have done well than their Korean counterparts, even when the inverse is true. The Times adds in the words of a Harvard faculty psychologist who intoned, “Self-esteem is based on real accomplishments. It’s all about letting kids shine in a realistic way.” But this is not the first time the self-esteem generation’s proponents have been criticized.

Vardi clearly would find himself encouraged by Dweck’s study, though, based upon how often he seemed to ask us to keep our eyes on the people more than the products. That’s not to say he has not found his latest ICQ, though only time—and consumers—will tell.

For a Web 2.User like myself, I was most fascinated by Fixya, a site that, like Wikipedia, exists on the free work of people with knowledge. Fixya is a tech support site where people who are having problems with equipment ask a question and it is answered by registered “experts.” These experts are the equivalent of Wikipedia’s editors: they are self-ordained purveyors of solutions. But instead of solving a mystery of knowledge a reader has in their head, these experts solve a problem related to something you have bought and do not understand. From baby cribs to cellular phones, over 500,000 products are “supported” on Fixya’s website. The Fixya business model relies upon the good will of its experts to want to help other people through the ever-expanding world of consumer appliances. But it is different from Wikipedia in two important ways. First, Fixya is for-profit. The altruistic exchange of information is somewhat dampened by the knowledge that somebody, somewhere, is profiting from whatever you give. Second, with Wikipedia it is very easy for a person to type in a few sentences about a subject on an article about the Toshiba Satellite laptop, but to answer technical problems a person is experiencing seems like a different realm. But is it? “It’s a beautiful thing. People really want to help other people,” said the presenter, who marveled at the community that has already developed on Fixya. “Another difference from Wikipedia is that we have a premium content version of the site.” Their premium site is where they envision making their money. Customers with a problem will assign a dollar amount based upon how badly they need an answer to a question, and the expert-editors of Fixya will share in the payment for the resolved issue. Like Wikipedia, reputation is paramount to Fixya’s experts. Whereas Wikipedia editors are judged by how they are perceived in the Wiki community, the amount of barnstars they receive and by the value of their contributions, Fixya’s customers rate its experts based upon the usefulness of their advice. The site is currently working on offering extended warranties with some manufacturers, although it was not clear how that would work on a site that functioned on the work of any expert.

Another collaborative effort product presented to us was YouFig, which is software designed to allow a group of people to collaborate on work product. This is not a new idea, although may web-based products have generally fallen flat. The idea is that people who are working on a multi-media project can combine efforts to create a final product. They envision their initial market to be academia, but one could see the product stretching to fields such as law, where large litigation projects with high-level of collaboration on both document creation and media presentation; in business, where software aimed at product development has generally not lived up to its promises; and in the science and engineering fields, where multi-media collaboration is quickly becoming not only the norm, but a necessity.

For the popular consumer market, Superna, whose offices hosted our meeting, demonstrated their cost-saving vision for the Smart Home (SH). Current SH systems require a large, expensive server in order to coordinate all the electronic appliances in today’s air-conditioned, lit and entertainment-saturated house. Such coordinating servers can cost upwards of US$5,000, whereas Superna’s software can turn a US$1,000 hand-held tablet PC into household remote control.

There were a few start-ups where Vardi’s fatherly mentoring seemed more at play than long-term practical business modeling. In the hot market of WiFi products, WeFi is software that will allow groups of users, such as friends, share knowledge about the location of free Internet WiFi access, and also provide codes and keys for certain hot spots, with access provided only to the trusted users within a group. The mock-up that was shown to us had a Google Maps-esque city block that had green points to the known hot spots that are available either for free (such as those owned by good Samaritans who do not secure their WiFi access) or for pay, with access information provided for that location. I saw two long-term problems: first, WiMAX, which is able to provide Internet access to people for miles within its range. There is already discussion all over the Internet as to whether this technology will eventually make WiFi obsolete, negating the need to find “hot spots” for a group of friends. Taiwan is already testing an island-wide WiMAX project. The second problem is if good Samaritans are more easily located, instead of just happened-upon, how many will keep their WiFi access free? It has already become more difficult to find people willing to contribute to free Internet. Even in Tel Aviv, and elsewhere, I have come across several secure wireless users who named their network “Fuck Off” in an in-your-face message to freeloaders.

Another child of Vardi’s that the Brookings Institution might say was over-praised for self-esteem but lacking real accomplishment is AtlasCT, although reportedly Nokia offered to pay US$8.1 million for the software, which they turned down. It is again a map-based software that allows user-generated photographs to be uploaded to personalized street maps that they can share with friends, students, colleagues or whomever else wants to view a person’s slideshow from their vacation to Paris (“Dude, go to the icon over Boulevard Montmartre and you’ll see this girl I thought was hot outside the Hard Rock Cafe!”) Aside from the idea that many people probably have little interest in looking at the photo journey of someone they know (“You can see how I traced the steps of Jesus in the Galilee“), it is also easy to imagine Google coming out with its own freeware that would instantly trump this program. Although one can see an e-classroom in architecture employing such software to allow students to take a walking tour through Rome, its desirability may be limited.

Whether Vardi is a smart parent for his encouragement, or in fact propping up laggards, is something only time will tell him as he attempts to bring these products of his children to market. The look of awe that came across each company’s representative whenever he entered the room provided the answer to the question of Who’s your daddy?

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