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U.S. ISPs to test restricting heavy Internet users

Thursday, June 5, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Ford Motors posts US$2.7 billion annual profit

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ford Motors Co., the automobile manufacturing firm, has posted an annual profit for the last year of US$2.7 billion, the first gain for four years.

The statistics are an improvement from 2008, when the car company posted a loss of close to $15 billion. For the final quarter of 2009, Ford says it made profits of $868 million, and expects to continue to be profitable this year. The company had cut its costs to $118.3 billion last year, $19.8 billion than the year previous. Ford had a $34.3 billion debt at the end of 2009.

In the fourth quarter, Ford brand sales were up thirteen percent compared to the same time in 2008 in the US, and obtained 15.3% of the automobile market in the country.

The firm’s president and chief executive, Alan Mulally, commented on the profits. “While we still face significant challenges ahead, 2009 was a pivotal year for Ford and the strongest proof yet that our One Ford plan is working and that we are forging a path toward profitable growth,” he said, adding that “global economic conditions are reviving but remain fragile.”



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Egyptian treasures found in ancient tomb

Friday, March 13, 2009

A team of archaeologists excavating an Ancient Egyptian tomb have discovered golden jewelry in a recently-discovered lower chamber at the Valley of the Kings burial site in Luxor, Egypt.

Two golden rings and five golden earrings were found in the tomb of Djehuty, an 18th-dynasty official of Queen Hatshepsut, and were probably the property of Djehuty or his family.

The discovery was announced by Farouk Hosni, Egypt’s current Minister of Culture.

Djehuty was overseer of the treasury and overseer of works for the Queen. Hatshepsut reigned approximately 1479–1458 BCE. Djehuty was responsible for managing the huge amounts of precious goods brought in from Egypt’s military expedition to Punt in the Horn of Africa and the vast building projects of Hatshepsut which have made the female pharaoh one of the most-remembered of any from ancient Egypt.

Djehuty died after Hatshepsut did, sometime during the reign of Thutmosis III. Both Hatshepsut’s and Thutmosis’s names are recorded on the tomb. In a fashion typical of ancient Egyptian rivalries, Hatshepsut’s name was partly obscured on the monument over the tomb sometime after the queen’s death.

The team, led by José Manuel Galán of the National Research Center (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC), in Madrid, Spain, had been excavating the tomb, designated TT11 and located in the necropolis of Dra’ Abu el-Naga’, since 2002. While much of Djehuty’s funerary equipment was lost to fire in antiquity, the lower chamber of his tomb was concealed at the end of a three-meter shaft and discovered at the end of 2008.

A superficial description of the tomb itself was recorded almost two hundred years ago by 19th-century French Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion, rubble blocking the entrance hindered excavation until the 21st century. In that time, emphasis in Egyptology has changed from the cataloging of treasures to the investigation of ancient culture, life and religion.

Since excavation began, Djehuty’s tomb has yielded a number of surprises. It was discovered that the tomb was re-used repeatedly up to and during the Greco-Roman period. There is an unusual face-on depiction of pharaoh Thutmosis III hunting ducks, and the mummy of a young, bejewelled, as-yet unidentified woman.

In 2007, 44 preserved bunches of flowers thought to be from Djehuty’s funeral were found in the site. In their 8th season of excavation, which ended on February 22, 2009, the team also found considerable evidence that below Djehuty’s tomb is a network of burial sites from the 11th dynasty, four thousand years old.

The lower chamber also displays passages from the Egyptian funerary text the Book of the Dead on its walls and a colorful mural of the goddess Nut, an embodiment of the heavens, on the ceiling. The names of Djehuty and his parents were also intact in the second chamber; the names were defaced in the previously-known first chamber of the tomb, which had also been looted.

According to a press release from Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Djehuty’s tomb is only the fifth known decorated burial chamber of the 18th dynasty. An additional unusual feature of the tomb is that its upper chamber is decorated in relief, rather than simply paint. When the excavation is completed, Dr Galán’s team plans to open the site to the public as the carved stoneworks will not be destroyed by tourists’ activities as paint would.

The identification of Djehuty is a complicated one, as a number of officials of the 18th dynasty bore the name, including a general and several governors. The name itself is an alternate transliteration of the name of the Egyptian god usually written in English as Thoth.



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Edward Woodward, English actor, dies aged 79

Monday, November 16, 2009

English actor Edward Woodward has died today, aged 79. The actor was unwell for several months, suffering from a number of illnesses including pneumonia. He died in hospital in Cornwall, England.

Born in Croydon, London, Woodward was perhaps best known for his role as Sergeant Howie in the 1973 cult British horror film The Wicker Man. The director of that film, Robin Hardy, described him as “one of the greatest actors of his generation” and “an extremely nice human being”. His appearance in the Australian film Breaker Morant was also highly acclaimed.

He began his career in theatre, starting out in 1946. He later worked across the country and internationally, appearing in the West End, London and Broadway, New York. In 1963 he was cast in Noël Coward‘s Broadway production High Spirits. Coward described him as “One of the nicest and most co-operative actors I have ever met or worked with. He is the only one who has given me no trouble at all.”

Woodward later appeared in over 2,000 television productions, notably starring in the American show The Equalizer in the 1980s, in addition to Callan on ITV in Britain. Outside of film and television, he recorded three albums of poetry and several LPs.

Despite having triple heart bypass surgery in 1996, and being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003, he continued to work. His final television appearance was in six episodes of the British soap opera EastEnders earlier this year.

“He was a delight to work with, and delivered a characteristically touching and layered performance,” said Diederick Santer, the executive producer of EastEnders. “Our thoughts are with his family.”

Woodward had two sons and a daughter from his first marriage, to Venetia Mary Collett in 1953. All three became successful actors. In 1987 he married the actress Michele Dotrice, with whom he had a daughter.



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KKE: Interview with the Greek Communist Party

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wikinews reporter Iain Macdonald has performed an interview with Dr Isabella Margara, a London-based member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). In the interview Margara sets out the communist response to current events in Greece as well as discussing the viability of a communist economy for the nation. She also hit back at Petros Tzomakas, a member of another Greek far-left party which criticised KKE in a previous interview.

The interview comes amid tensions in cash-strapped Greece, where the government is introducing controversial austerity measures to try to ease the nation’s debt-problem. An international rescue package has been prepared by European Union member states and the International Monetary Fund – should Greece require a bailout; protests have been held against government attempts to manage the economic situation.



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John Constable painting location mystery solved after 195 years

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The mystery of the location of a viewpoint used by English painter John Constable has been solved, after nearly 200 years. The Stour Valley and Dedham Church was painted in Suffolk, England, between 1814 and 1815, but changes to the landscape meant that the spot he chose was not known, despite the best efforts of historians and art experts.

Now the puzzle has been answered. Martin Atkinson, who works for the National Trust as property manager for East Suffolk, used clues from the painting and looked at old maps to track down the viewpoint. Trees had grown, a hedgerow had been planted and boundaries had moved or disappeared, but Atkinson eventually worked out where Constable had stood. He said, “When I discovered that I had worked out the location where Constable painted this particular masterpiece, I couldn’t believe it. All the pieces of the jigsaw finally fitted together.”

Atkinson used an 1817 map of East Bergholt, where Constable grew up, as a reference point, but found that the view would have changed not long after the painting was completed. “The foreground didn’t fit at all, it was quite unusual as we know Constable painted it in the open air so he would have been standing in the scene. The hedgerow in his work no longer exists and there’s another hedgerow that runs across the scene today which wasn’t there. When you stand on the road on which he would have stood, and use the oak tree as a reference point, you see the same view. It’s great to see where an old master stood – and be inspired by the same view,” he said.

Suffolk, where Constable painted many of his finest paintings, is often called “Constable country”. Most, but not all, of the locations that Constable depicted are known. The picture is now housed in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.



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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Family Coalition Party candidate Kristen Monster, Willowdale

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kristen Monster is running for the Family Coalition Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Willowdale riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed her regarding her values, her experience, and her campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.



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Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.



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Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.