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2009 July 22 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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Fires Still Burning In British Columbia

FireThe CBC latest report: Most Okanagan evacuees to return, others ordered out

As thousands of residents forced out of their homes by two fires in West Kelowna, B.C., prepare to head back late Wednesday afternoon, fire officials are ordering a small number of Okanagan Valley residents near a third fire to leave.

The new evacuation order was issued for 13 people living on 10 properties near the Terrace Mountain fire about 40 kilometres to the north of West Kelowna around noon on Wednesday, after that forest fire expanded to 2,000 hectares [5,000 acres], sending up huge plumes of smoke.

The residents of the Fintry High Farm area have been told to leave their homes and report to emergency social services at Mount Boucherie Senior Secondary School in West Kelowna.

In addition, an evacuation alert was issued to 2,200 residents and property owners living in several Westside Road communities on the northwest shores of Lake Okanagan, telling them to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

The Terrace Mountain fire has already burned through thousands of hectares of valuable timber, threatening hundreds of jobs at local sawmills.

Firefighters say the steep, rugged terrain has made it dangerous to put crews on the ground to fight the fire, and it was only 30 per cent contained as of Wednesday morning.

The weather isn’t cooperating and the terrain is bad for fire fighting. The only reason things aren’t worse is because of the lake and the aerial resources just to the South of the fires.

July 22, 2009   Comments Off on Fires Still Burning In British Columbia

Why We Need ‘Net Neutrality

The BBC covers something that most people aren’t aware of: Unsung heroes save net from chaos

Crack teams of volunteers keep the net online and functioning, according to leading internet lawyer Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard University.

The way data is divided up and sent around the internet in many jumps makes it “delicate and vulnerable” to attacks or mistakes, he said.

However, he added, the “random acts of kindness” of these unsung heroes quietly keep the net in working order.

Professor Zittrain’s comments came at the TED Global conference in Oxford.

Incidents such as when the Pakistan government took YouTube offline in 2008 exposed the web’s underlying fragility, he explained.

But a team of volunteers – unpaid, unauthorised and largely unknown to most people – rolled into action and restored the service within hours.

The corporations that want Congress to cut them special deals are not that important to the Internet. You can route around them. They didn’t create it, and they don’t maintain it. They aren’t even especially good at cleaning up their portions.

July 22, 2009   Comments Off on Why We Need ‘Net Neutrality

Listen To This Woman!

Via Lambert at Corrente, a post by the goddess of financial clarity, Elizabeth Warren: Three Myths about the Consumer Financial Product Agency.

Go and read it in full, as she does her usual great job in explaining why we need the CFPA.

I got an example of what she is discussing in the mail yesterday with an offer of a pre-approved credit card. The draw was 4.12% over the WSJ Prime Rate as the interest rate.

That was the large print, but in the fine print you discover that the actual rate will never be lower than 9.87%, which is a bit higher than the 7.12% rate based on the current Prime of 3%, and in even smaller type you discover that by “Prime Rate” they mean the highest daily Prime Rate on any day in the last three months.

Of course, all disputes will be settled by arbitration and you don’t actually receive the “agreement” that covers the card until after you agree, and you are agreeing that they can violate your privacy without any recourse, and make robo-calls to you.

What scum! By the way, don’t try reading one of these things without an illuminated magnifier, as they cause eye strain and headaches.

July 22, 2009   Comments Off on Listen To This Woman!

They Lie? Who Knew?

David Hilzenrath of the Washington Post has a small piece of reality: Insurers Spin Data to Fight Public Plan.

As the article points out, a major segment of the people who like their current health insurance are people who have never needed to use it. It isn’t hard to be satisfied with something you never use, like those miniature spare tires. The test of good insurance is how they handle claims, not how they handle your payments.

This is the same thing that occurred along the Gulf Coast with property insurance. Most people liked their insurance companies until 2004 and 2005 when they needed to file claims on policies that they had been paying premiums on for decades, and then they discovered that the companies didn’t intend to pay.

July 22, 2009   3 Comments

Stage 17 – The Schleck Show

Tour de FranceFrank Schleck of Luxembourg, a country that same size as Okaloosa County, has taken stage 17 and moved up to third, just behind his brother, Andy. The current green jersey wearer, Thor Hushovd, scored the red numbers for combative riding.

None of the jerseys changed hands, but Tony Martin has slipped back to 50th place and Yauheni Hutarovich of Belarus has replaced Kenny Robert Van Hummel as the last rider. Van Hummel withdrew with two other riders shrinking the field to 158.

1. Alberto Contador (E/Astana) 72:27:09 [yellow jersey]
2. Andy Schleck (LUX/Saxo Bank) +02:26 [white jersey]
3. Frank Schleck (LUX/Saxo Bank) +03:25 stage 17 winner
4. Lance Armstrong (US/Astana) +03:55
5. Andréas Klöden (D/Astana) +04:44
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) +04:53
7. Vincenzo Nibali (I/Liquigas) +05:09
8. Christian Vande Velde (US/Garmin) +08:08
9. Christophe Le Mevel (F/Francaise) +09:19
10. Mikel Astarloza (E/Euskatel) +10:50

Selected others below the fold:

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July 22, 2009   Comments Off on Stage 17 – The Schleck Show