AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "Freddie Mac, a taxpayer-owned mortgage company, is supposed to make homeownership easier. One thing that makes owning a home more affordable is getting a cheaper mortgage.
But Freddie Mac has invested billions of dollars betting that U.S. homeowners won't be able to refinance their mortgages at today's lower rates, according to an investigation by NPR and ProPublica." Link to Original Source top
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "In the latest development regarding Apple, Foxconn and the horrible processes involved in the iPhone manufacturing supply chain, a new iOS game lampooning the entire process was pulled from the market by Apple today, only 2 hours after its launch.
Phone Story charts a course from Coltan mining in the Congo to the horrendous manufacturing workers' conditions that led to the notorious Foxconn suicides, continuing through commercial release and planned obselescence driven by a culture of "want". The story concludes by depicting the environmental and human toll of unchecked eWaste.
Apple pulled the game on various unseemly grounds, including "15.2 Apps that depict violence or abuse of children will be rejected".
Molleindustria says that they are considering coming up with a new version of Phone Story that "depicts the violence and abuse of children involved in the electronic manufacturing supply chain in a non-crude and non-objectionable way."
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "Brand owners will soon be able to operate their own parts of the Web — such as.apple,.coke or.marlboro — if the biggest shake-up yet in how Internet domains are awarded is approved.
After years of preparation and wrangling, ICANN, the body that coordinates Internet names, is expected to approve the move at a special board meeting in Singapore on Monday.
Today, just 22 generic top-level domains (gTLDs) exist --.com,.org and.info are a few examples — plus about 250 country-level domains like.uk or.cn. After the change, several hundred new gTLDs are expected to come into existence.
The move is seen as a big opportunity for brands to gain more control over their online presence and send visitors more directly to parts of their sites — and a danger for those who fail to take advantage." Link to Original Source top
In short, his work sums up each of the various natural calamities that have besieged the US this year, brushing each off as "isolated, unpredictable, discrete events." He concludes, "It’s very important to stay calm. If you got upset about any of this, you might forget how important it is not to disrupt the record profits of our fossil fuel companies."
As someone well-versed in the perils of climate change, I hate to see this kind of attitude toward the subject. It opens up reasonableness and scientific fact to counter-trolling and discounting of the very real and very important message." Link to Original Source top
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "An interesting piece at CNN Money details the little-known process major companies go through in order to ignore their shareholders' petitions and proposals. Part of the article examines a few embattled petitions, brushed aside by their corporations via 'no-action' letters granted by the SEC.
One such example detailed the efforts of several Catholic monastaries to convince AT&T to adopt net neutrality policies and practices.
"Net neutrality can greatly affect underserved communities that have limited access to the Internet. We need to alleviate those social inequalities," [the petition's contact person Jonas Kron] said, noting that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has published an open letter supporting Net neutrality.
Unfortunately for the nuns and Mike D, the SEC granted a no-action letter on the basis that net neutrality is not "a significant policy issue." Kron called the decision "shocking" and said the group "vigorously disagrees."
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "In February, the FDA sent many groups into revolt with the approval of a long-standing generic drug to a a sole pharmaceutical company under the trade name Makena. The widely used generic alternative was thereby disallowed (for 7 years), increasing average price-per-dose from $15 to $1,500. The average number of doses-per-pregnancy is 20.
Now, the FDA has announced that it will not pursue enforcement against pharmacies that continue to produce the generic compound. Many laud this situation-specific exemption as a success for pregnant families, especially those who cannot afford this crucial drug, but what kinds of implications might it have on the development of "longshot" drugs — ones which may cost a great deal to develop and not be necessarily affordable for the consumer?" Link to Original Source top
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "Fortune has a very interesting article today about wireless providers and their exorbitant profit margins for SMS handling, especially when looking at modern data plans.
'Under the cell phone industry's peculiar pricing system, downloading data to your smartphone is amazingly cheap — unless the data in question happens to be a text message. In that case the price of a download jumps roughly 50,000-fold, from just a few pennies per megabyte of data to a whopping $1000 or so per megabyte.'
A young little application called Beluga caught the attention of Facebook, which purchased the company yesterday.
The app aims to bring messaging under the umbrella of data plans, and features group messaging, picture and video messaging, and integration with other apps.
The author argues that, if successful, Beluga (or whatever Facebook ends up calling it) could potentially be the Skype/Vonage or Netflix-type competitor to the old-school cellular carriers and their steep pricing plans." Link to Original Source top
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "From the Washington Times: 'The nation’s Christian broadcasters admit they face a challenge appealing to a new generation of listeners, but many say a more immediate threat is coming from an administration in Washington that many worry is trying to limit their right to express their beliefs.'
AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) writes "After it was exposed that American firm Narus had sold Egypt the Deep Packet Inspection equipment used to spy and censor its citizens, the US House Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing where Reps. Chris Smith and Bill Keating 'grilled Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg on the sale of this Internet spying technology to an Egyptian Internet provider controlled by the Mubarak regime.' It seems that there is now a push for stonger controls and monitoring for technology exports 'that would provide a national strategy to prevent the use of American technology from being used by human rights abusers.'" Link to Original Source top
AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) writes "From PCWorld... 'Former Federal Communications Chairman Kevin Martin yesterday said he still believes the FCC had the legal authority to enforce network neutrality rules and that he would have appealed a court decision last year that ruled otherwise.
'Speaking after his keynote question-and-answer session at last week's ITExpo conference in Miami, Martin said that the FCC's 2008 order telling Comcast to stop throttling peer-to-peer protocols was on solid legal footing.'
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "Not wanting to come off as complacent, MetroPCS today announced it was filing suit against the FCC for its recent language on net neutrality rules. Saith the WaPost, 'The company has been the subject of criticism by consumer groups who say MetroPCS's 4G pricing plans purposefully block certain applications, a violation of the FCC's Internet access rules.' Its turn to a tiered pricing structure for their 4G systems was unveiled a few weeks ago, to much protest from NN advocates. MetroPCS is the fifth-largest wireless provider in the U.S." Link to Original Source top
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "In a morning blog post, Google announced the release of a Chrome plug-in called 'Keep My Opt-Outs,' which hopes to block all tracking cookies. Interestingly, it is released as open-source with the hopes that it will gain quick deployment on non-Chrome browsers and find a robust foothold against ads.
The story is also covered in Computerworld, which has a more broad insight to the issue, looking at Google, Mozilla, and Firefox and seems to indicate more rapid change is looming — potentially from the FCC itself." Link to Original Source top
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "It seems that the FCC has approved the proposed merger between Comcast and NBC, effectively kicking apart hopes for protection against "pipes and their water" frameworks. Pres. Obama's 2008 goal also goes ignored: "I strongly favor diversity of ownership of outlets and protection against the excessive concentration of power in the hands of any one corporation, interest or small group." The Dept. of Justice is also onboard, leaving little hope that this will be stopped." top
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "Yesterday, it became known that MetroPCS, fifth-largest cellular provider in the US, is deploying a new pricing plan to its customers — one designed to impose tiered pricing based upon specific service usage. It terms services like Netflix and Skype as "advanced HTML" sites, and blocks access to those not paying for the premium tier. Interestingly, MetroPCS allows access to YouTube for the non-premium tier.
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "NYC may finally have a viable plan for free, ad-supported public Wi-Fi service. By next year, company LimoRes Car & Limo plans to roll out 20,000 vehicles with transmitters, providing in-car Wi-Fi with a radius of 200 feet. Each car will be able to support up to 16 separate connections. It may be a longshot to say this will provide complete coverage in Manhattan, but if each cab company in New York got onboard..." Link to Original Source top
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "The National Resources Defense Council has filed suit against the FDA over the non-regulation of the drugs triclosan and triclocarban, commonly found in antimicrobial/antibacterial soap products. The drugs have been found, according to the article, to cause disruptions in the endocrine and reproductive systems.
The suit was filed on the grounds of very long-term heel-dragging on the part of the FDA. The Administration originally stated its intention to regulate the OTC delivery of these drugs back in 1978. The plaintiffs argue that the delay is in violation of federal law, and that the continued, unregulated and widespread availability of these drugs in household items is a threat to public and environmental health. The suit seeks an order requiring the FDA to finish its research on the use and availability of these drugs by a specific deadline.
Moreover, this represents a step in the right direction for those looking to restrict the use of antibiotics, citing a looming antibiotic-resistance disaster within healthcare around the world.
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "It seems that some Microsoft execs, unsatisfied with the digital media player options offered for the Windows platform, were considering the development an iPod rival, or even more suprising, a partnership with Apple in 2003.
These leaks were made public during Microsoft's ongoing Comes antitrust trial.
From the article,
"[Microsoft consumer media exec.]Amir Majidmehr wrote that Microsoft planned to offer incentives to partners to improve their products, including "cash, technical support, direct interface to developers" and more. "In other words, we are going all out and hoping that at least a few will listen," Majidmehr wrote. "If none do, then it is time for us to roll up our sleeves and do our own hardware."
[Windows Vista development chief] Jim Allchin replied: "I think I should talk with [Apple CEO Steve] Jobs. Right now, I think I should open up a dialog (sic) for support of the iPod. Unless something changes, the iPod will drive people away from [Windows Media Player]."
(Nov. 13, 2003)
"Allchin later said that he was "ranting" and being "purposefully dramatic" in his e-mail."
He seemed pretty serious at the; maybe he is now, in retrospect, regretting the iPod-rival tactic." top
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "A Japanese recording engineer has developed the world's first glass CD that is guaranteed not to warp, lose quality, or otherwise erode. From the article:
"Music critics who have tried out the CD said that it's outstanding and virtually like listening to a live performance.
But high quality music to last forever comes at a price — 98,700 yen apiece to be exact — as glass CDs have to be made by hand."