Win For The People Loss For The Airport Business

Compliments of NBC 

Airlines Say No to Cutting Bag Fees, Insist TSA Needs to Staff Up

The head of Homeland Security has a bit of advice for airlines who want to shorten long waits at airport security: waive fees for checked baggage.

“We’ve asked the airlines to consider possibly eliminating the checked baggage fee to encourage people to check their luggage rather than putting it in the carry on,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday evening.

It’s a call echoed by U.S. Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal who also pitched the idea in a letter last week to a dozen major U.S. airlines.

The airlines’ response? No way.

Instead, the airlines suggest the TSA work to better staff at heavily trafficked airports and encourage more fliers to sign up for PreCheck, a TSA program aimed at expedited screening. American Airlines is now even using its own contractors in TSA lines to help speed things along.

This is not a bag fee issue. This model of charging customers for services they value and use is not a new phenomenon. It dates back to 2008. Encouraging passengers to check more bags will not help and would actually exacerbate current checked baggage screening issues that are resulting in passengers missing their connections and having their bags delayed,” said Jean Medina, a spokesperson for Airlines for America, an airline industry group.

For air travelers stuck in the middle of this debate, this is going to be the summer of discontent.

The Transportation Security Administration chief has apologized for long lines at airports nationwide with a special apology to hundreds who missed flights from Chicago over the weekend.

“I always tell people I won’t apologize for doing our job well,” TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said Tuesday. “But I do apologize to the people who found themselves stranded in Chicago…”

However, for passengers waiting for hours — and missing flights — things could get even worse during the busy summer travel season.

The airline industry estimates 231 million people will travel this summer, some 2.5 million a day.

The frustration and anger hit a crescendo this week for thousands of passengers.

Read More 

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Is There Life On Other Planets?

Compliments of BBC

It has also detected nine small planets within so-called habitable zones, where conditions are favourable for liquid water – and potentially life.

The finds are contained within a catalogue of 1,284 new planets detected by Kepler – which more than doubles the previous tally.

Nasa said it was the biggest single announcement of new exoplanets.

Space agency scientists discussed the new findings in a teleconference on Tuesday.

Statistical analyses of Kepler’s expanding sample of worlds help astronomers understand how common planets like our own might be.

Dr Natalie Batalha, Kepler mission scientist at Nasa’s Ames Research Center in California, said calculations suggested there could be more than 10 billion potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way.

“About 24% of the stars harbour potentially habitable planets that are smaller than about 1.6 times the size of the Earth. That’s a number that we like because it’s below that size that we estimate planets are likely to be rocky,” said Dr Batalha.

“If you ask yourself where is the next habitable planet likely to be, it’s within about 11 light-years, which is very close.”

Exoplanet discoveriesImage copyrightNASA

Future observatories such as the James Webb Space Telescope could examine starlight filtered through the atmospheres of exoplanets for potential markers of biology.

“The ultimate goal of our search is to detect the light from a habitable exoplanet and analyse that light for gases like water vapour, oxygen, methane and carbon dioxide – gases that might indicate the presence of a biological ecosystem,” said Paul Hertz, director of astrophysics at Nasa.

Of the telescope’s finds to date, the planets Kepler-186f and Kepler-452b are arguably the most Earth-like in terms of properties such as their size, the temperature of their host star and the energy received from their star.

Dr Batalha said the new finds Kepler 1638b and Kepler-1229b were intriguing targets in the search for habitable planets.

Read More 

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

The High Price Of Discrimination

Compliments of Marketplace

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration filed a lawsuit against the federal government Monday. It accused the U.S. Department of Justice of overreaching in its response to the state’s “bathroom law.” DOJ filed its own lawsuit in response, saying North Carolina’s law that bans transgender people from using public bathrooms that don’t match the gender on their birth certificates violates civil rights law.

There are many ethical, political and social questions swirling around this issue that have yet to be resolved, but the costs to the state for the transgender bathroom bill are starting to add up.

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority estimated the bathroom bill has cost more than $80 million in lost business, and that’s just for events around Charlotte. The group factored in things like canceled conventions, lost hotel room nights and potential business that expressed hesitation or concern over the law.

Aaron Nelson, president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, said he is seeing a similar trend in his area as well.

“It’s at hundreds of jobs,” he said, speaking of jobs lost due to the law, “and its economic impact in terms of millions of dollars in lost conference revenue, and we are nearing the hundreds of millions of dollars of lost community investment impact, and that’s just what we know.”

Concerts and conventions are being cancelled. And, Michael Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, said in a statement to The Charlotte Observer that he’s opposed to discrimination in any form. John Connaughton at the University of North Carolina- Charlotte’s Belk College of Business said while canceled performances and conventions make headlines, they aren’t actually the main sources of economic impact.

“Those [kinds of events] are not as big as corporate relocations that don’t come here,” he said, pointing out that the new jobs created by such relocations “have a much bigger impact because the money stays here … and it’s for a much longer period of time.”

Paypal and Duetsche-Bank have already changed their plans to open or expand operations in North Carolina in response to the law, even as it’s being contested by the federal government.

Allan Freyer, the director of the Workers’ Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center, said there are longer-term consequences that can’t be quantified.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “we’ll never know the full scale of the companies that quietly struck North Carolina off their list for putting a new plant in the state or expanding an existing facility.”

Read More 

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Young Star Seeker Leads Scientist To Lost Mayan City

Compliments of Yucatan Expat Life 

A teenager from Quebec has discovered a hidden Mayan city, an accomplishment that proves his own theory that links the location of ancient cities with the position of the stars.

William Gadoury, 15, has received accolades by NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency, and his discovery is about to be disseminated in a scientific journal.

Passionate about the lost Mayan civilizations for several years, Gadoury analyzed 22 Mayan constellations and realized that if he connected on a map the stars of the constellations, the shape of each corresponded to the position of 117 Mayan cities. No scientist before had ever found such a correlation between the stars and the location of the Mayan cities.

Gadoury’s genius, however, was to analyze a 23rd constellation. It contained three stars and only two cities matched. According to his theory, it should point to a 118th Mayan city in a remote and inaccessible location near the coast in Belize, in the southern Yucatán Peninsula.

In 2005, the forest in this particular area was devastated by fire, making Mayan ruins more visible to satellite photographs. Analyses from satellites from various space agencies have revealed that there was indeed a pyramid and thirty buildings at the precise location identified by the young man. Not only has he discovered a new Mayan city, but it is one of the five largest on record.

He named this lost city K’àak’ Chi’ or “fire mouth.”

Read More 

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Scientist May Have Cracked The Age Old Conundrum Making Sea Water Drinkable

Compliments of NDTV

As 13 states struggle with drought, scientists in a corner of India have devised a way to make potable water – 6.3 million litre of it every day – from sea water.  They have also developed certain filtration methods that ensure groundwater containing arsenic and uranium are safe to drink.

The pilot plant at Tamil Nadu’s Kalpakkam, built by scientists of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre use waste steam from a nuclear reactor to purify the seawater. Its capacity is 6.3 million litre every day.

Currently, the fresh water is being used at the Kudankulam nuclear reactor. But this reporter tasted the purified water – it tasted like fresh water, not saline at all.

Several such plants have been installed in Punjab, as well as West Bengal, Rajasthan, said KN Vyas, Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the centre, examines the cycle fitted with a water purifier.

“Besides, BARC has developed several membranes, by which, at a very small cost, groundwater contaminated by uranium or arsenic can be purified and make fit for drinking,” Dr Vyas added.

On his recent visit to BARC, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pedalled a bicycle that had a water purifier installed on it. It turns dirty contaminated water into potable water. Turning the pedals produces the energy the purifier needs.

Read More 

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

If You Have The Money, You Can Pay Someone To Call Customer Service For You

Compliments of Cnet

Boston-based startup GetHuman on Wednesday unveiled a new service that lets you to pay $5 to $25 to hire a “problem solver” who will call a company’s customer service line on your behalf to resolve issues. Prices vary depending on the company, but GetHuman offers to fight for your airline refund, deal with Facebook account issues, or perhaps even prevent a grueling call with Comcast to disconnect your service.

“These customer service procedures have become these long obstacle courses for us,” Christian Allen, GetHuman’s CEO, said in an interview. “We avoid them, we procrastinate, and in some cases we don’t do them at all.”

Allen knows the struggles with customer service all too well, after he put off canceling a hotspot service through a wireless carrier. When he finally got around to making the call, he was bounced around and ended up stuck on the phone. Three months later, he had to go through the whole process again because the service hadn’t been canceled the first time around.

“I spent three hours of my life to do this really simple, binary decision,” he said.

GetHuman can work as a consumer’s assistant, Allen said, but some companies do require more authorization than others.

GetHuman started as a company phone directory that helps people find shortcuts to a live person. But after realizing that getting people the right numbers was only half the battle, Allen said, GetHuman decided to start a pilot of its new “problem solvers” service late last year, saying it has already served nearly 10,000 people. The eight-person shop now has five full-timers whose primary job is working the phones trying to resolve other people’s customer service issues.

Allen says his employees are “experts” at this kind of work and he plans on hiring two more callers soon.

Read More 

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Zombies: From Brain Dead To Life

Compliments of IFL Science 

A biotech company in the U.S. has been granted ethical permission by the National Institutes of Health to use 20 brain-dead patients for what is sure to be a highly controversial study: From next year, they plan to stimulate their nervous systems in order to restart the brains. Bioquark is hoping that its part in the groundbreaking ReAnima project will reveal if people can at least partly be brought back from the dead.

It is important to note that at this point, there isn’t much evidence to suggest how genuinely realistic or even serious this endeavor is; however, the panel of experts working on the initiative does include Dr. Calixto Machado, a well-known neurological researcher and a member of the American Academy of Neurology who has written extensively on brain death, and it does appear to have proper approval from the U.S. authorities.

The team will test a combination of therapies on the participants, who have been medically certified as being brain dead and are only kept from decomposing by life support machines. Injecting the brain with stem cells, giving the spinal cord infusions of beneficial chemicals, and nerve stimulation techniques – which have been shown to bring people out of comas – will all be tried out.

 

 

After each therapy has been administered, the team will monitor the brain activity of the participants for several months, hoping to look for signs of neurological reactivation. Their focus will be on the upper spinal cord, which is the lowermost part of the brain stream that controls a person’s cardiorespiratory functions – breathing and a beating heart, essentially.

“To undertake such a complex initiative, we are combining biologic regenerative medicine tools with other existing medical devices typically used for stimulation of the central nervous system, in patients with other severe disorders of consciousness,” said Ira Pastor, the CEO of Bioquark Inc., as reported by the Telegraph. “We hope to see results within the first two to three months.”

The central nervous system is bioelectrochemical, in that it uses biologically manufactured chemicals called neurotransmitters to transmit electrical signals through the body. Stimulating neurons with electrical currents is one thing – even in a coma, the neurons will be able to respond to electrical stimulation – but after brain death, neurons begin to wither away and degenerate, so for any “resurrection” to occur, the team will need to stimulate the regeneration of neurons in these brain-dead folk.

Read More 

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Venezuela’s Capital Crunch is Causing The Streets To Run Array

Compliments of PanAm Post 

Despair and violence is taking over Venezuela. The economic crisis sweeping the nation means people have to withstand widespread shortages of staple products, medicine, and food.

So when the Maduro administration began rationing electricity this week, leaving entire cities in the dark for up to 4 hours every day, discontent gave way to social unrest.

On April 26, people took to the streets in three Venezuelan states, looting stores to find food.

Maracaibo, in the western state of Zulia, is the epicenter of thefts: on Tuesday alone, Venezuelans raided pharmacies, shopping malls, supermarkets, and even trucks with food in seven different areas of the city.

Although at least nine people were arrested, and 2,000 security officers were deployed in the state, Zulia’s Secretary of Government Giovanny Villalobos askedcitizens not to leave their homes. “There are violent people out there that can harm you,” he warned.

In Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, citizens reported looting in at least three areas of the city. Twitter users reported that thefts occurred throughout the night in the industrial zone of La California, Campo Rico, and Buena Vista.

They assured that several locals were robbed and that there were people on the street shouting “we are hungry!”

The same happened in Carabobo, a state in central Venezuela. Through Twitter, a journalist from Valencia reported the looting of a deli.

The crime took place on Tuesday evening amid a wave of protests against prolonged power rationing and outages in multiple parts of the country.

Supermarkets employees from Valencia told the PanAm Post that besides no longer receiving the same amount of food as before, they must deal with angry Venezuelans who come to the stores only to find out there’s little to buy.

Purchases in supermarkets are rationed through a fingerprint system that does not allow Venezuelans to acquire the same regulated food for two weeks.

Due to the country’s mangled economy, millions must stand in long lines for hours just to purchase basic products, which many resell  for extra income as the country’s minimum wage is far from enough to cover a family’s needs.

On Wednesday, the Venezuelan Chamber of Food (Cavidea) said in a statement that most companies only have 15 days worth of stocked food.

According to the union, the production of food will continue to dwindle because raw materials as well as local and foreign inputs are depleted.

In the statement, Cavidea reported that they are 300 days overdue on payments to suppliers and it’s been 200 days since the national  government last authorized the purchase of dollars under the foreign currency control system.

Read More 

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

The Coup De Grâce To The TTIP And TPP?

By Paris Finnie 

TPP (Transpacific Partnership) and TTIP  (Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership) have been the topics of conversations for many executives the past few years. Recent leaks detailing particular regulations the partnership was attempting to implement may be the nail in the coffin for the vampire deal. The video below, although polarizing, does explain a few of the fears for those apposed to the agreement.

Recent leaks brought to the public by courageous whistle blowers inform the public how:

the papers show that the US is looking to weaken the EU’s “precautionary principle” that governs how potentially harmful products are sold, Greenpeace says. The US has much weaker regulation that aims to minimize rather than avoid risks, and that same less strict regime could come to the UK and Europe under the deal.

Most likely why agreement moderators have fought incredibly hard to keep document details under extreme secrecy. Once the average citizen sees the threat it poses to democracies and health, oppositions runs rampant. Conversely  those who support the deal see both TTP and TTIP  profitable for business.  Approving the TTIP would allow EU and The USA to conduct trade and negotiations in a manner more efficaciously than ever possible in the past.

Regardless of the supportive platform consisting primarily of higher class citizens and business owners. Critics believe the latest leak is the beginning of the end for the deal.

Remember, do not just believe what we say. Research what we say!

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Data Leak and Data Leak and Data Leak All While The NSA Is Overwhelmed With Information

Compliments of ZDNET, Business Insider, Middle East Eye 

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is about to unleash a huge data dump about how some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people hide their cash.

The group has already released a host of information regarding how major figures in politics and business store their wealth in tax havens.

On Wednesday the ICIJ said in an email that on May 9 it would “publish what will likely be the largest-ever release of information about secret offshore companies and the people behind them, based on data from thePanama Papers investigation.

“The searchable database will include information about more than 200,000 companies, trusts, foundations, and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens, from Hong Kong to Nevada in the United States.”

The findings of the so-called Panama Papers investigation were unveiled at the beginning of April. Over 11 million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca had been leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. The paper shared the information with the ICIJ, which is made up of 107 media organisations in 78 countries.

The global news outlets examined 28,000 pages of documents, also revealing the full scale of the tax breaks won by 340 companies.

The details of the investigation have already claimed the scalp of Spain’s acting industry minister Jose Manuel Soria and Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson — each of whom stepped down because of activities exposed by the Panama Papers documents.

Read More About Panama Data Dump 

Qatar National Bank (QNB) said on Tuesday that it was investigating an alleged hack that potentially exposed the names and passwords of a large number of customers.

Media reports claimed that a 1.4-gigabyte trove of documents had been leaked online anonymously and divulged information on more than 1,200 people and organisations.

Among the information reportedly leaked is the bank details of several journalists working for satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera.

According to the Qatar-based outlet Doha News, the data leak includes files about the country’s secret service, security apparatus and even members of the ruling al-Thani family.

The leakers of the documents remain unknown at this time.

The file is separated by several different folders, some of which were named ‘Al Jazeera’, ‘Al Thani’, ‘Defence and etc’, ‘SPY, Intelligence’, and ‘Mukhabarat’, or Qatar’s intelligence agency, according to the Doha News report.

Read More About Qtar Leak 

A former National Security Agency official turned whistleblower has spent almost a decade and a half in civilian life. And he says he’s still “upset” by what he’s seen leak in the past two years.

In a lunch meeting hosted by Contrast Security founder Jeff Williams on Wednesday, William Binney, a former NSA official who spent more than three decades at the agency, said the US government’s mass surveillance programs have become so engorged with data that they are no longer effective, losing vital intelligence in the fray.

One former Al Jazeera employee, Gordon Hickey, told Doha News that a friend messaged him and said his Qatari bank account and passwords were publicly available under the “SPY” folder.

“He was kind of joking, but he did ask whether I was a spy,” Hickey said. “This could have serious implications for me travelling. It’s not a nice thing.”

Another Al Jazeera journalist, Bernard Smith, said the information on his personal account that was found online was accurate.

“The details they had for me were mostly correct – I had changed my credit cards just a few months ago after losing them, but other information such as my passwords and contact details were all accurate.

“I was very shocked to see my details online.”

In a statement posted online, QNB refused to say whether the leak had occurred, but said it was looking into the claims.

Read More About NSA 

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Ascending Consciousness

Advertisment ad adsense adlogger