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Monday, August 5, 2013
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Devin Coldewey NBC News
Aug. 2, 2013 at 1:54 PM ET
The organizations make setting up a malware-serving website like signing up for an email or online game.
Mobile security software company Lookout was hot on the trail of a set of Russian malware distributors ? and was surprised to find that the biggest groups responsible were as neatly and effectively organized as a small tech business.
Don't get paranoid just yet: Lookout explained to NBC News in an email that this type of fraud isn't nearly as common here: "It appears that they've cut back on targeting [Western] countries because they're having more success in Russia and the Eastern block. In the past we've even seen SMS fraud targeting the U.S. and western Europe," they wrote.
The way it works is this: an unscrupulous or merely curious Android user searches for free games or apps on his or her phone, and follows a resulting link to a legitimate-looking landing page. After agreeing (often without knowing it) to a terms of service, they are served up a malware application that scams money by fraudulently sending premium SMS messages ? special texts used to purchase ringtones or sign up for a service.
Thousands of Twitter accounts and fake websites are set up to lure unwitting users, but when Lookout followed the thread a bit further, they found that many led back to a few surprisingly professional-looking organizations.
An example of a "landing page" users would be sent to (and redirected from).
From their official websites, productivity contests, and easy-to -use tools, at first glance one might guess these malware operators were legitimate software developers or advertisers. And in effect, that's exactly what these malware HQs are: small startups raking in cash thanks to the booming mobile sector. It just happens that the business they make their money through is fraud.
Affiliates sign up for the site as if they were joining a forum or freelance contractor website. A user-friendly, step-by-step process helps them create fake webpages, design and submit malware-toting apps, and makes the latest virus-scan-avoidance software available.
Meanwhile, the malware makers register dozens or hundreds of fake accounts on Twitter and other networks ? out of almost a quarter-million accounts analyzed by Lookout, over 50,000 were puppet accounts linking to malware.
Just 10 of these malware HQ organizations account for 60 percent of the SMS fraud Lookout tracked in Russia. Such scams don't usually affect the U.S. or western Europe, but it's not unheard of.
Twitter shuts down such accounts when it finds them, and malicious apps are removed from Google's Play Store whenever detected, but are these big organizations being raided or shut down now that they've been outed??
"We generally don't comment on ongoing investigations like this one," wrote Lookout. "However, in past investigations that are now closed, we have contacted authorities."
Even so, it's little comfort when the groups out there are so well-organized and well-staffed. Your best bet is to stick to well-known websites and only download apps from stores you trust. The problem may not be going away just yet, but consumers can avoid it ? with a little discretion.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.
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Saturday, August 3, 2013
Jul. 21, 2013
On July 18, Japan?s Softbank announced that it has formed a partnership with US Bloom Energy?to enter the Japanese market and proceed from there through Asia. The good news comes at a time when an election victory prompts PM Abe Shinzo to embark on a bold and risky agenda of constitutional revision, military expansion and heightened conflict with China. Back in the early 2000s, Softbank CEO Son Masayoshi blazed a trail that led Japan to having the among the fastest and cheapest internet services in the world. Abe and Son appear to represent polar opposites in their approach to development, independence and power. In this short piece, I argue that while analysts have been dazzled by Abe?s electoral triumph, Son?s resilient and internationalist road could shape a very different and positive Japanese economic, technological and energy future than that envisaged by the PM.
Bloomenergy CEO KR Sridhar holds up a Bloombox
Abe has won decisively ? to no one?s surprise ? in the July 21 Upper House elections. Abe?s LDP took 65 of 121 seats at stake, and gained a comfortable majority of 135 of 242 seats in the House with its coalition partner the Komei Party. The LDP now has majorities in both houses of the national government. The Financial Times, Economist and other observers are counting on the now doubly empowered Abe to pursue the ?structural reforms? they tout as key to reviving globalization and recharging the long stagnant economy.
These hopes seem almost certain to be disappointed. Even before the elections, Abe gave plenty of signs that the economy would be secondary to constitutional and historical revisionism. His provocative July 17 visit to two islets 160 kilometres from the disputed Senkaku (Diaoyu) islands was unprecedented for a Japanese PM, and completely unnecessary in light of his enormous lead in the polls. As for reform, there is already talk that METI Minister Motegi Toshimitsu may be out in a September cabinet shuffle, and that supporters of the monopolized power-market status quo will gain the upper hand.
Indeed, as the June 29th edition of the Japanese business weekly Toyo Keizai related in detail, Abe quite strained relations with the peak of the economic elite who recognize the critical role that Chinese and Korean markets will play in Japan?s economic future. Yonekura Hiromasu, the Chair of Keidanren, sensibly asked Abe to work harder for improved relations with China and Korea. Yonekura was treated to an explosive rebuttal from Abe, who pounded the table with his fist.
The risk also remains that Abe will visit Yasukuni Shrine in mid-August, intensifying conflict with China and South Korea over historical issues associated with the empire. In a region at the centre of multiple global crises, that act would be the height of irresponsibility. But it is a distinct possibility.
Ties that Bind
One consequence of the Abe threat is that US-China ties are strengthening, not only in light of their massive trade and financial ties, but also in part to minimize the risk of an Abe-driven clash with China. Another force in this increasing cooperation is the role of US Secretary of State John Kerry, a renowned climate change hawk. Kerry went so far as to pen, on July 19, a ?Getting the US-China Climate Partnership Right? contribution to Joseph Romm?s ?Climate Progress? blog. Kerry stressed the benefits from the US and China cooperating ?to grow green together? in a ?global energy market that?s valued at $6 trillion with four billion users worldwide.?
As Kerry surely knows, because the Department of Energy (DOE) published a July 11 (updated July 16) report on the American energy sector?s vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather, much of this green growth will have to take the form of distributed generation. Distributed generation is what Softbank has been championing in Japan since the Fukushima disaster. The recent tie-up with Bloom Energy is a critical step along that road, in a country still dominated by centralized power and led by a PM committed to nuclear restarts.
As with relations with China and Korea, Abe is on the wrong side of history in this respect, too. He stresses overseas sales of centralized nuclear power and campaigns for their restart on the home front over widespread domestic opposition, at a time when the country?s best opportunity is to get in the lead on distributed green energy.
Centralized Power?s Changing Climate
The centralized generation model of the existing utilities, especially Japan?s monopolies, offers the economic efficiency of concentrating generating capacity in one place, thereby reducing per-unit costs of generated power. This is because the larger the generating station, whether it be coal or nuclear or other thermal generation, the lower the per-unit cost of output.
Yet concentrated and centralized thermal generation confronts multiple problems. Aside from generally climbing costs of conventional fuel, it is increasingly vulnerable to climate change. This vulnerability is true of the plant itself as well as the power grid that sends the generated power into population centres. Over the past several decades, we have (and "we" means particularly the developed countries) have built?power systems whose underlying principle is that the efficiency gains from clustering generating capacity are to be valued above all other considerations. But recent failures of centralized generation, most notably the Fukushima triple disaster, have made business and other customers reluctant to rely on big utilities.
This became clear in the wake of Fukushima, when power supply problems wreaked havoc on global supply chains for critical materials in various manufacturing processes such automobiles and electronic products. And similar power-supply failures have occurred in numerous other cases as well, including the world?s largest-ever (roughly 600 million users) last July in India. Moreover, these failures are occurring with increasing frequency, as the DOE report highlights.
There is also growing awareness of the environmental damage from large-scale generation as well as the challenges that it confronts from the water-energy nexus. The DOE report has lots of company in pinpointing this latter concern, including a long article in the July edition of Public Utilities Fortnightly, on ?the growing footprint of climate change.? ?As all these studies show, centralized conventional power uses enormous amounts of water at all stages of the cycle, ranging from getting the fuel out the ground to burning it and keeping the equipment from overheating. This dependence on water is one of the many reasons centralized generation is becoming unsustainable.
The mounting background of experience and empirical evidence is why a sea change is underway in thinking among corporate, military, urban and other actors concerning where they should get their power and what the acceptable trade-offs are concerning the cheapness of centralized generation (whose costs are going up anyway, even in the US) versus the still relatively more costly distributed generation (whose costs are declining).?
It is thus no surprise that a prominent new customer for decentralized power is New York City, as City Hall is being removed from the conventional power grid in favor of running base load power operations from a Bloom Box. This is part of Mayor Bloomberg's strategy of increasing the city's resilience to natural disasters ? such as Hurricane Sandy - and other challenges. New York?s turn to distributed generation, via a Bloom Box, follows similar moves by Apple, Microsoft, Google and a host of other corporate actors.
The ICT Connection
Another attractive feature of the Bloom Boxes is the fact that they are very Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-centered. The output of each individual stack is monitored constantly, with interactive operations that serve to identify emergent problems as well as maximize efficiency. Moreover, being modular, the component stacks of cells in the box mean that any individual failure does not result in failure of the total system. In other words, a portion of the Bloom Box can be down due to the failure of a particular stack or set of stacks, but the overall power plant itself will continue producing power. The attractiveness of this feature perhaps cannot be overstated. It means that not only is resilience increased by deploying distributed power, but distributed power generation itself has a built-in resilience feature so that failure of a portion of the system does not jeopardize or shut down the overall system.?
In addition, the ICT aspect may greatly enhance the attractiveness of the generation to Japan?s local communities and other actors (especially the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) that already seek to be part of the rapidly accelerating paradigm shift in power generation sources as well as power generation and consumption management.?Another item that seems likely to make this fuel cell option very attractive to local actors in Japan is the fact that it runs on biogas. There is already a significant policy initiative in Japan for recovering biogas from landfills as well as wastewater and other sources. Consuming natural gas in a fuel-cell is of course more efficient than burning it in a generator, but at the same time still requires the use of a fossil fuel. But the use of biogas is a different matter, and thus makes the technology truly a potential "bridge to the future."?
Moreover, the Bloom Box can also be used as back-up generation to support solar, wind and other intermittent generation. These latter are also a major focus of Softbank?s initiatives through its S&B Energy subsidiary. The potential threat to Japan?s monopoly utilities and their centralized generation is thus multifaceted.
And even though the cost of the power from the Bloom Boxes is more expensive than what is offered by centralized thermal generation, the fact is that Japanese utilities are levying increasing charges on their large-lot power users, in many cases double digit increases. The next increase for all of them is in fact slated for August. The power-cost increases have led to massive defections by customers. For example, after Kyushu Electric raised its rates in April by an average of 11.94%, it lost 199 large-lot (over 500 kw) customers, raising the total number of large-lot customers lost since 2000 to 2194 for Kyushu Electric alone. These large-lot users have moved instead to in-house power generation, independent producers and more efficient systems. Many public sector schools, libraries and other facilities are also dumping the utilities wherever possible. The fuel-cell alternative, via long-term power-purchase agreements, offers a stable option in the face of increasingly uncertain conventional power supply and cost.
Another factor to consider is that the Bloom Boxes' per-unit cost is not likely to increase (quite the contrary) because they are only five years old and just entering mass production. With mass production, particularly in the midst of strong competition as well as ICT-enabled production paradigms (e.g. 3D printing), the per-unit cost of output may see rapid declines. This is especially the case because the Bloom Box is largely made of sand, and because it is located right in the nexus of Silicon Valley big money and advanced ideas.?
To be sure, at this point, we do not know if Bloom Energy Japan will be a success. Neither do we know whether Abe will visit Yasukuni nor how hard he will push to get centralized nuclear power back up and running. All we do know is that the forces driving Japan and others towards distributed generation and cooperation are multiple and increasingly powerful. We also know where Abe and Son stand. Son beat the odds a decade ago, and one can only hope that he does again and that his approach becomes the rebound direction from Abe?s risky road.
Andrew DeWit is Professor in the School of Policy Studies at Rikkyo University and an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator. With Iida Tetsunari and Kaneko Masaru, he is coauthor of ?Fukushima and the Political Economy of Power Policy in Japan,? in Jeff Kingston (ed.) Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan.
? Andrew DeWit, Green Shoot: Abenomics and the 3rd Arrow?
? Andrew DeWit,Abenomics and Energy Efficiency in Japan
? Andrew DeWit,Distributed Power and Incentives in Post-Fukushima Japan
? John A. Mathews,The Asian Super Grid
? Andrew DeWit,Japan?s Energy Policy at a Crossroads: A Renewable Energy Future?
? Andrew Dewit,Japan?s Remarkable Energy Drive
? Andrew DeWit,Megasolar Japan: The Prospects for Green Alternatives to Nuclear Power
? Peter Lynch and Andrew DeWit,Feed-in Tariffs the Way Forward for Renewable Energy
? Sun-Jin YUN, Myung-Rae Cho and David von Hippel,The Current Status of Green Growth in Korea: Energy and Urban Security
? Son Masayoshi and Andrew DeWit,Creating a Solar Belt in East Japan: The Energy Future
FAIRFAX, VA--(Marketwired - August 01, 2013) - ?ASTRO Chairman Michael L. Steinberg, MD, FASTRO, called attention to the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) striking report released today, "Medicare:?Higher Use of Costly Prostate Cancer Treatment by Providers Who Self-Refer Warrants Scrutiny," that details clear mistreatment of patients who trusted their physicians to care for their prostate cancer. Dr. Steinberg and radiation oncologists nationwide called on Congress to pass the "Promoting Integrity in Medicare Act of 2013" (PIMA), introduced earlier today by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), that would address GAO's findings, result in better care for patients and save billions of dollars in Medicare that could offset the costs of repealing the Medicare physician payment formula (sustainable growth rate-SGR).
The federal "Ethics in Patient Referrals Act," also known as the self-referral law, prohibits physicians from referring a patient to a medical facility in which he or she has a financial interest in order to ensure that medical decisions are made in the best interest of the patient without consideration of any financial gain that could be realized by the treating physician. However, the law includes an exception that allows physicians to self-refer for so-called "ancillary services," including radiation therapy. Over the years, abuse of the in-office ancillary services (IOAS) exception has diluted the self-referral law and its policy objectives, making it simple for physicians to avoid the law's prohibitions by structuring arrangements that meet the technical requirements of the law, thereby circumventing the intent of the exception. Numerous studies, including three recent GAO reports, have shown that physician self-referral leads to increased utilization of services that may not be medically necessary, poses a potential risk of harm to patients and costs the health care system millions of dollars each year.
Today's GAO report, "Medicare:?Higher Use of Costly Prostate Cancer Treatment by Providers Who Self-Refer Warrants Scrutiny," requested by bipartisan leaders in Congress, reviewed limited specialty [urology] groups' use of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), an effective form of advanced radiation therapy, for prostate cancer treatment. Experts, such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, recommend using IMRT judiciously for treating prostate cancer, and that patients should receive an unbiased presentation of all of the effective treatment options, including IMRT. In contrast, the GAO report found that from 2006-2010:
- IMRT utilization among self-referring groups?increased by 456 percent. Overall increases in IMRT utilization rates and?spending were due entirely to services performed by limited-specialty?groups. IMRT utilization among non-self-referrers decreased by five?percent.
- The number of IMRT services performed by limited?specialty [urology] groups increased by 609 percent, while true?multispecialty groups IMRT use decreased 3.8 percent.?
- IMRT spending by self-referral groups increased?by approximately $138 million, compared to a $91 million decrease in the?non-self-referral group.
- Increases in IMRT utilization among?self-referring practices could not be attributed to patient preferences,?age, geographic location or patient's health status.?Financial?incentives were likely a major factor in increased referrals for IMRT?among the self-referring practices. The financial incentives for?self-referral groups led to patients not receiving other appropriate and?less expensive treatments, including brachytherapy, prostatectomy and?active surveillance.
- Self-referring centers referred more than 60?percent of men over the age of 75 for IMRT at self-referring centers. For?these men, guidelines recommend active surveillance of their disease and?the avoidance of aggressive treatment such as IMRT.
The GAO report concluded, "? the higher use of IMRT by self-referring providers results in higher?costs for Medicare and beneficiaries. To the extent that treatment decisions are driven by providers' financial interest and not by patient preference, these increased costs are difficult to justify."
"We are extremely concerned that many older male patients are receiving such vigorous, possibly unnecessary treatment by urology groups. Clearly, these self-referring urology groups are steering patients to the most lucrative treatment they offer, depriving them of their full range of treatment choices, including potentially no treatment at all," said Dr. Steinberg. "GAO's findings also demonstrate that IMRT utilization would actually be declining if not for a small cadre of profit-motivated, self-referring urologists."?
ASTRO believes that the GAO's recommendations of increased tracking and transparency are well-intentioned but insufficient to stop the costly, hazardous abuse of the IOAS exception. ASTRO concludes that the GAO's own reports and numerous independent studies overwhelmingly affirm that self-referral results in financial incentives that lead to overutilization of health care services, unnecessary spending and inappropriate care for patients.?
"Patients and the Medicare program can no longer afford for self-referral abuse to continue. New regulations of tracking and reporting fall short of what is necessary to ensure unbiased patient care-closure of the self-referral loophole. We urge Congress to take swift action to close the in-office ancillary services exception for radiation therapy by passing PIMA. Radiation therapy is not an ancillary service, but rather its own distinct medical treatment, akin to surgery. This new GAO report certifies that the self-referral loophole has serious negative consequences for patients and Medicare's bottom line," said Dr. Steinberg.
Today's GAO report on self-referral in radiation therapy is the third in a groundbreaking, four-part series. The first report in November 2012 on self-referral in advanced diagnostic imaging, titled "Higher Use of Advanced Imaging Services by Providers Who Self-Refer Costing Medicare Millions" found that "providers who self-referred likely made 400,000 more referrals for advanced imaging services than they would have if they were not self-referring"-at a cost of more than $100 million in 2010. In July 2013, the GAO report, "Action Needed to Address Higher Use of Anatomic Pathology Services by Providers Who Self-Refer," found that self-referring providers likely referred nearly one million more unnecessary anatomic pathology services than non-self-referring providers, costing Medicare approximately $69 million. The final report will detail self-referral for physical therapy services.
"It is acutely obvious that the self-referral loophole must be closed to protect patients and to strengthen the Medicare program," continued Dr. Steinberg. "This loophole endangers patients and erodes their trust in us as physicians. While most urologists care deeply about high-quality patient care and consistently put patients before profits, a minority group of self-referral urology practices is endangering patients and wasting valuable, finite Medicare resources."?
Contrary to the claims of limited specialty [urology] groups, GAO's report confirms that these practices are not truly integrated health care centers, but that they are moneymaking schemes intended to increase volume and achieve high profits. Effective and efficient integrated care is rendered every day by clinicians who do not take financial advantage of the IOAS. The overwhelming majority of physicians treat patients based on the best interest of the patient without engaging in self-referral schemes, while also providing coordinated care.
"Unfortunately, when you look at the numbers in this report, you start to wonder where health care stops and where profiteering begins," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), in a statement released today. "Enough is enough. Congress needs to close this loophole and fix the problem."
Reps. Speier's and McDermott's PIMA legislation answers the call of numerous influential bipartisan groups who have examined self-referral abuse and recommended changes to the law. In September 2012, a New England Journal of Medicine article, authored by leading health policy experts including former CMS administrator Donald Berwick, MD, MPP, called for closing the self-referral loophole for radiation therapy and other so-called "ancillary services." The Center for American Progress agreed with narrowing the IOAS exception, as well as several notable bipartisan groups, including the Bipartisan Policy Center, under the leadership of former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), and the Moment of Truth Project, headed by Erskine Bowles and former Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.). President Obama's proposed FY 2014 Budget also recommended closing the self-referral loophole, which could save the Medicare program more than $6 billion during the standard 10-year budget window.
In addition, a November 2012 Bloomberg News investigative report scrutinized ordeals faced by California prostate cancer patients treated by a urology clinic that owns radiation therapy equipment and found that physician self-referral led to mistreated patients and higher health care costs. The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun also published similar critical reports in the last three years illustrating that limited specialty [urology] groups owning radiation therapy machines have utilization rates that rise quickly and are well above national norms for radiation treatment of prostate cancer.
"ASTRO recommends removing radiation therapy services from the IOAS exception. We strongly support PIMA because it closes the self-referral loophole in a responsible, targeted way that roots out abuse while ensuring that truly integrated multispecialty groups and high-performing health systems can continue to provide high-quality and efficient care," said Dr. Steinberg. "Self-referral undermines ASTRO-supported efforts to move Medicare toward quality- and value-based payment. Closing the self-referral loophole will help to stabilize the fee-for-service system today, while we charge ahead on the long, challenging path to developing a fair, high-functioning payment system."
ASTRO is a partner in the Alliance for Integrity in Medicare (AIM), a broad coalition of medical societies committed to ending the practice of inappropriate physician self-referral and focused on improving patient care and preserving valuable Medicare resources. In addition to ASTRO, AIM partners include the American Clinical Laboratory Association, the American College of Radiology, the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the Association for Quality Imaging, the College of American Pathologists and the Radiology Business Management Association. ASTRO and AIM recommend using the Medicare savings to help offset the costs of repealing the Medicare physician payment formula this year.
ASTRO is the premier radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who are physicians, nurses, biologists, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals that specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through professional education and training, support for clinical practice and health policy standards, advancement of science and research, and advocacy.?ASTRO publishes two medical journals, International Journal of Radiation Oncology ? Biology ? Physics (www.redjournal.org) and Practical Radiation Oncology (www.practicalradonc.org); developed and maintains an extensive patient website, www.rtanswers.org; and created the Radiation Oncology Institute (www.roinstitute.org), a non-profit foundation to support research and education efforts around the world that enhance and confirm the critical role of radiation therapy in improving cancer treatment. To learn more about ASTRO, visit www.astro.org.
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Friday, August 2, 2013
A three-storey house with a private garden. ?535,000
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But in the meantime, we have a problem: he's 31, recently unemployed, and uninsured. My family is far from being able to afford out of pocket health costs. And from all the doctors, drugs, machines he's been hooked up to in the past 10 hours, I know the bill is already creeping into the many tens of thousands of dollars.
So my question to MeFites is: what are our options? How do we pay for this? We have very few assets, although I'm sure we'd sell the family home to keep my brother alive for a few more years. But apart from that, we've got nothing substantial. (I'm a graduate student, and my mother is a self-employed seamstress. My father is unemployed). Are there any gov't programs available? Can he go on Medicaid? Etc. I'm having trouble finding hard info on people in his particular situation (not a minor, not elderly, and diagnosed with cancer). Help!
posted by dis_integration to health & fitness (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Thursday, August 1, 2013
When we're raiding the fridge during a Vikings game, what'd be nice is a push notification just before Adrian Peterson runs into the end zone. Seeing as that's probably not feasible given current tech, we'll settle for an iOS app that alerts us when a timeout or commercial is over. Commercial Break was designed to do just that: you tell it what channel you're watching and it uses DSP and some algorithms to analyze audio and video cues, delivering a push notification to your mobile device once what you were watching comes back.
As of right now, it's in public beta with 10 compatible channels in New York City: ABC, CBS, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, NBC, TNT, TBS and USA. Outside of the Big Apple, CNN, ESPN and ESPN2 are compatible nationwide, with a few of these channels also available to others along the East Coast. The developers said that once the test run is over, they plan to expand to other markets and port the app to Android. We just wish it worked with AMC too -- missing any of Heisenberg's return because of a fried chicken craving would be tragic.
Source: Commercial Break
Apple is promoting a group of upcoming tax holidays in ten U.S. States, asking potential customers to buy Apple products during the holiday if they live in one of these states. The tax holidays allows residents of these states to buy certain items without being charged sales tax. Apple is promoting tax holidays in the following states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Customers can take advantage of the holiday through Apple's Online store, according to Apple:
When you buy from the Apple Online Store, sales tax will appear in your cart and during the checkout process. The correct no-tax amount will appear when you receive your email order confirmation.
Each state has different qualifications for what products are tax exempt during these holidays. Louisiana, for instance, has no limit on the items you can purchase as long as each purchase is $2500 or less. Other states are more restrictive, limiting things like the kind of accessories you can buy without tax. Apple has links to each state's restrictions on their promotion page.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
MIAMI (AP) ? A Michigan man has been sentenced to 165 years in prison for traveling to Haiti to sexually abuse children in a center for the poor he set up in the Caribbean country.
A federal jury in Miami in February convicted Matthew Andrew Carter on five counts of traveling from Florida for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with minors, along with one count of attempting child sex tourism.
Judge Joan Lenard on Wednesday imposed the maximum sentence sought by prosecutors for the 68-year-old. It was 15 years in prison for the first count and 30 years in prison for each of the remaining charges.
During Wednesday's hearing, Carter disputed the credibility of the witnesses who testified against him, and he questioned the lack of physical evidence presented during his trial.Associated Press
Over the last few years, there has been a significant shift in how we consume digital content from music and movies to books and television (TV). The intersection of new technologies, devices and high speed networks has served to accelerate that change, particularly for TV. If we were to hop into the way back machine, it?s hard to believe that TV consisted of only a handful of channels, programming ceased at some point each night and the picture was in black & white, not color let alone 3D. Yet for all the changes we have seen, the recent past and the coming future are poised to radically shift TV to the point that other than live sporting events and maybe news, we may not be able to recognize broadcast TV any longer.
Video on demand (VOD) has become a staple of the cable companies ranging from Comcast Comcast and Verizon Communications Verizon Communications to Cablevision Cablevision and Charter Communications Charter Communications. Streaming services from not only Netflix Netflix and Apple Apple, but also from the aforementioned Comcast and Verizon Communications (check their iPad apps) and HBO as well as others is fueling not only the time shifting consumption of content we have come to rely on in this post Tivo world, but also fostering place-shifting as well. Watch any teen or ?tween and they firmly expect to watch what they want, when they want but where they want and on the device they want.
With smartphone penetration well past the tipping point and tablet sales maturing, many companies are turning their sights on the next battlegrounds. One of them is the Connected Car and another is the Connected Home. Inside that Connected Home, there will be several battlegrounds ? security, home automation (temperature, appliances and so on) and the living room. How that all shakes out has yet to be determined, but rest assured while companies like AT&T, Verizon, and ADT are working on the first few, Apple, Google Google, Microsoft Microsoft, Slingbox, Roku and others are targeting the living room as part of their digital content offering.
Apple TV. Apple has shipped more than 13 million Apple TV units and at the recent D11, CEO Tim Cook shares that TV is not just a hobby, but rather the company has a ?grand vision.? Rumors over the next iteration of Apple TV continue and before too long that rumor mill is likely to kick into high gear once again as Apple prepares for the official unveiling of iOS 7. Like the soon to be released iRadio, Apple TV is a work in progress, which means we keeping our eyes and ears open on this digital content streaming and portal device. Combined with the full power of Apple?s digital hub ? iTunes ? it could be a powerful new weapon for Apple as well as a very sticky one for consumers.
Google?s Chromecast. Last week, Google introduced a potential game changer to media consumption in the form of Chromecast, a $35 thumb drive sized device that that plugs into the back of your TV, allowing you to stream content from any device. Well almost any device. If you have an Android tablet or smartphone, an iPad or iPhone, use Chrome for Mac and Windows then you are in luck. If you use a BlackBerry or Windows Phone,? at least for now you will be stuck using either a PC or tablet. This just introduced product has already sold out online at Best Buy, Amazon.com, and Google Play.
Aereo ? one to watch. While both Apple TV and Chromecast allow for the streaming of TV and other digital content, it is Aereo that has or at least should have the major broadcast ? TV networks ? Walt Disney Walt Disney?s ABC, CBS CBS, Comcast?s NBC and News Corp News Corp.?s Fox ? concerned if not? worried.
Backed by IAC?s Barry Diller, Aereo is a Web video service that offers local TV channels and a DVR-like service, which can be viewed on a PC or Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple TV or Roku device.? While Aereo doesn?t support Android as yet, given the existing support for Google?s Chrome browser one has to wonder how long until it and Chromecast are supported. Currently offered in New York, Boston and Atlanta, Aereo has plans to expand to another 20 markets, with Salt Lake City in August and Chicago in September.
Arguably, success at Aereo poses a problem for the broadcast industry in that it collects fees to the tune of billions by allowing cable networks access to local channels. Like any company that sees a high margin revenue stream under potential attack, last March, broadcasters filed two federal lawsuits accusing the service of violating copyright law. In March, a New York federal appeals court upheld a ruling in favor of Aereo. Given the fees and profits at stake, it?s more than likely we have not heard the last of this. I for one can?t wait to sample Aereo?s service as the company expands its footprint in the coming months.
How to invest in this? Whenever I see so many companies looking to compete in one market, I tend to step back and look at the food chain or ecosystem for those players that offer critical solutions vs. commodity components and serve many of the would be players. A great example of such a merchant supplier in the smartphone and tablet space is Qualcomm Qualcomm, which counts Samsung, Apple, LG, HTC and most if not all the other key players as customers.
In this digital content and Connected Home battleground, the teardown analysis on the latest Apple TV unit and on a Chromecast performed by iFixIt.com as well as similar analysis on the Roku 3 and the Slingbox 500 reveal key supplier to be Toshiba, Broadcom Broadcom, Marvell Technology Group Marvell Technology Group, Micron, Atheros (now owned by Qualcomm) and AzureWave (TPE:3694). Toshiba and Micron are supplier of NAND flash memory, while the key connective technologies are provided by Broadcom Broadcom, Marvell and Atheros/Qualcomm. It?s the latter group of companies that investors should be focusing on.
Disclosure. Subscribers to PowerTrend Profits were alerted to the long-term investment opportunity in Qualcomm shares on April 9th.
After close to 50 years in disarray, an iconic piece of restored "Star Trek" memorabilia is about to boldly go on display in its new home.
On Wednesday (July 31), Space Center Houston ? the visitor's center for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas ? will unveil the new permanent display for the Shuttlecraft Galileo, a life-size spaceship prop from the original 1960s "Star Trek" TV series.
The Galileo's restorer, "Star Trek" superfan Adam Schneider, thinks that the space center ? which is next to NASA's home base for Mission Control and the astronaut corps. ? is the ideal place for the shuttlecraft. [See Photos of the restored Shuttlecraft Galileo (Gallery)]
"If somebody told me when I was a little kid that I'd be donating a spaceship to NASA, I would have said that they were kidding," Schneider, whose restoration took about nine months, told SPACE.com. "How does it feel? It feels amazing. It almost feels like it's all downhill from here because this is such a high. It feels truly like a success."
The Galileo's road to Houston has been a long one. Before Schneider won it at auction in June 2012, the shuttlecraft was in shambles. Schneider and his wife Leslie employed the help of craftsman Hans Mikaitis and his team of ship restorers at Master Shipwrights in Atlantic Highlands, N.J. to help return the shuttlecraft to its former glory.
The finished 23 foot (7 meter) long Galileo was revealed for the first time in late June before a crowd of more than 350 "Star Trek" fans and friends of the restorers before being shipped via truck to Texas for tomorrow's opening.
"The life-size spaceship will be on permanent display inside the Zero-G Diner and will be one of the few exhibitions in the world where visitors can see iconic sci-fi history that influenced generations of innovators," officials from Space Center Houston wrote on the center's website.
Space Center Houston will host a public event in honor of the arrival of Galileo on Wednesday. A celebrity panel will discuss the influence of science fiction on space exploration and an astronaut will make a presentation.
According to the visitor's center, celebrity guests will include:
- Don Marshall, Lt. Boma from the original 1967 "Galileo Seven" episode of "Star Trek"
- Robert Picardo, the Doctor in "Star Trek: Voyager"
- Sylvester McCoy, the seventh Doctor on "Doctor Who" and Radagast from "The Hobbit"
- Jason Carter, Ranger Marcus Cole on "Babylon 5"
- Adrienne Wilkinson, Jedi Maris Brood in "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed"
- Marshall Teague, a supporting player in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Star Trek: Voyager"
- Tracy Scoggins, Captain Elizabeth Lockley from "Babylon 5"
- Gil Gerard, Captain William Buck Rogers in "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century"
"Like any good project, when it ends you're a little regretful because the experience was positive," Schneider said. "We had fabulous people to work with. We had a fabulous experience in the 'Star Trek' community, so I think we're a little sad and regretful that it's over at one level. On another level, this is a permanent addition to the fan base, so to speak, and we're really very proud that it actually is going where it's going."
Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
PrimeSport inked a deal to remain for the eighth year in a row the official ticket and hospitality package provider for certain NCAA championships.
The championships include the NCAA Men?s Final Four, NCAA Women?s Final Four, NCAA Men?s College World Series, NCAA Women?s College World Series and NCAA Men?s Frozen Four.
Atlanta-based PrimeSport will continue to offer The NCAA Experience official ticket, VIP pregame hospitality, and travel packages for fans and groups looking for a VIP experience at each NCAA event.
Official VIP ticket & pregame hospitality packages typically include regional food buffets, cold beverages, live entertainment, a chance to rub elbows with NCAA legends and more. Travel packages are customizable to each event but typically include hotel accommodations, game tickets, official pre-game hospitality, official souvenirs and more.
PrimeSport will also continue to manage the Official NCAA Ticket Exchange for select NCAA championships including the NCAA Division I Men?s Basketball Tournament, NCAA Men?s Final Four, NCAA Women?s Final Four and NCAA Men?s Frozen Four.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Posted by David Biederman at 4:21 pm ET
Recently the Mayor of London wrote that within two years, energy scarcity will ?force some industries not to operate at peak times? in the city. His solution is to bring hydraulic fracturing to the country; he said, ?We should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked, in the cause of keeping the lights on.?
Britain, Europe?s largest consumer of natural gas, does possess abundant energy potential in the form of raw materials. Beneath the ground lies (among other things) the Bowland shale, which the British government estimates to hold decades of energy in the form of shale gas. The technology and expertise to develop this potential could be imported from North America.
However, unlike in the United States, where the shale gas that fueled the fracking revolution was largely on private land, where property rights were largely protected and businessmen were free to take risks and seek profits, the shale is Britain is on ?public? land controlled by the government, which is motivated not by profits but by politics. Bureaucrats who lack both the incentive and the talent to get oil from rocks will not get oil from rocks. And businessmen who are throttled by ?public? interests and political considerations will not get much oil from rocks either.
If the British want the kind of fruit that real and unshackled businessmen can reap from the Bowland shale or the like, they will have to convince their government to sell the property to the private sector, and to protect the rights of the private owners and the businessmen with whom they contract to develop it for profit.
The mayor of London has said ?We should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked, in the cause of keeping the lights on.? One stone the Brits must not leave unturned is the producer?s stone, under which they will find the unassailable primaries of private property rights and the profit motive. When it comes to fracking, these are king. Hence the American Energy Revolution.
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Creative Commons Image: Duncan
Posted in: Environmentalism, Property Rights
Monday, July 29, 2013
The first such pilot kicked off in Kenya earlier this year as part of the 4Afrika initiative, but the company has already expanded it to Tanzania, and now to South Africa.The program is aimed at finding new means to provide broadband Internet connectivity at a lower cost to people in this region. White spaces refers to unused frequencies for television broadcasters, which can be harvested to deliver such services to users.
As ZDnet notes, Microsoft has already unveiled plans to make use of such white spaces and solar-based stations so as to offer cheap wireless services to five schools in the Limpopo province in South Africa.
Furthermore, the company is said to plan more than simply offering such services, and that it will also bring Windows-based tablets and projectors to these schools, while offering laptops and training to teachers there. Solar panels to offer power sources for charging devices will also be available.
?Technology holds enormous potential for many aspects of development, but it is particularly key to areas such as education and healthcare,? Mteto Nyati, managing director of Microsoft South Africa, said.
?Reducing the cost of broadband access means millions more South Africans will get online. This will create new opportunities for education, healthcare, commerce and the delivery of government services across the country.?
The project is aimed at offering wireless services for as low as $2-$5 (?1.5 ? ?3.75) per month, for 4Mbps of uncapped usage. At the moment, ISPs charge for around $35 (?26) per month for 1Mbps ADSL services.
Nyati also confirmed plans to make similar white space broadband available for users in other areas, through a partnership with an established ISP provider.
?We see ourselves as an enabler, not a provider. We are not in the telecoms space. I don't think you'll see us becoming a network provider,? he concluded.