Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Navstar-2F satellite of the Global Positioning...Image via Wikipedia
No escaping parking wardens and spies in the skies for motorists of the future...

No escaping parking wardens and spies in the sky for motorists of the future...

First published at Qondio:

Motorists could be charged for parking without the need for buying tickets from roadside meters, it has recently been revealed.

But on the flipside, however,they could be financially rewarded for avoiding peak-hour congestion nominated roads.

A former Auckland City Council transport chairman advised that the next generation wireless traffic technology, used to some extent in Europe and Japan already, costing NZ $6.5 billion dollars and named "Galileo" will be in place by 2013. The European satelitte system will be much faster and more accurate, allowing New Zealand and other countries to revolutionise their traffic monitoring.

The Galileo network, built by the European Union and the European Space Agency, will provide more detailed location information than the Global Positioning System (GPS) developed by the US. It has been described as the next generation GPS.

The Galileo would send precise information to an electronic device carried by the driver, such as a mobile phone. At the same time a smart sticker or computer chip stuck on the windscreen would confirm registration details with the electronic device.

That device would "tell" the city council computer where the vehicle was parked. A parking charge would then be sent by the council to the electronic device, which the driver would approve before completion of the transaction. If the driver parked longer than charged for, it could be adjusted automatically.

While there are no radical parking charges considered, economies of scale under the new Auckland super city being created this year, would undoubtably make centralised traffic controls more attractive.

Acknowledgements: Peter Petterson

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President Obama sacks General McChrystal as top US commander in Afghanistan...

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top US commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday, saying that his scathing published remarks about administration officials undermine civilian control of the military and erode the needed trust on the president's war team.

Obama named McChrystal's direct boss - Gen. David Petraeus - to take over the troubled 9-year-old war in Afghanistan. He asked the Senate to confirm Petraeus for the new post "as swiftly as possible."

The president said he did not make the decision to accept McChrystal's resignation over any disagreement in policy or "out of any sense of personal insult." Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Rose Garden, he said: "I believe it is the right decision for our national security."

Obama hit several gracious notes about McChrystal and his service, saying that he made the decision to sack him "with considerable regret." And yet, said he said that the job in Afghanistan cannot be done now under McChrystal's leadership, asserting that the critical remarks from the general and his inner circle in the Rolling Stone magazine article displayed conduct that doesn't live up to the necessary standards for a command-level officer.

Obama seemed to suggest that McChrystal's military career is over, including in his praise of the general that the nation should be grateful "for his remarkable career in uniform."

McChrystal left the White House after his Oval Office call to accounts, and returned to his military quarters at Washington's Fort McNair. A senior military official said there is no immediate decision about whether he would retire from the Army, which has been his entire career. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

With the controversy have the effect of refueling debate over his Afghanistan policy, Obama took pains to emphasize that the strategy was not shifting with McChrystal's outster.

"This is a change in personnel but it is not a change in policy," he said.

Indeed, as Obama was speaking, McChrystal released a statement saying that he resigned out of "a desire to see the mission succeed."

"I strongly support the president's strategy in Afghanistan," McChrystal said.

With Washington abuzz, there had been a complete lockdown on information about the morning's developments until just before Obama spoke.

But by pairing the decision on McChrystal's departure with the name of his replacement, Obama is seeking to move on as quickly as possible from the firestorm.

Petraeus, who attended a formal Afghanistan war meeting at the White House Wednesday, has been overseeing the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq as head of US Central Command.

Petraeus is the nation's best-known military man, having risen to prominence as the commander who turned around the Iraq war in 2007. The Afghanistan job is actually a step down from his current post.

Acknowledgements: -Associated Press

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A smartcard graphic, without banklogos or simi...Image via Wikipedia

Help! Someone has stolen my identity ...

Diana Clements reports:

It's scary having your identity stolen. It happened to me in London and I lived through several tense weeks trying to convince a finance company that I wasn't responsible for a €300 ($645) spending spree.

Someone had found my bank statements and used them to open a charge card in my name. Astoundingly the person was able to spend €300 on the spot. It wasn't my spending and eventually the company gave up trying to chase me.

Here's what you need to know to avoid identity theft happening to you:

Identity theft is fraud where someone pretends to be you to access your bank accounts or to take credit out in your name.

The fraudsters could be living in your street or on the other side of the world.

They use many techniques to steal personal information ranging from rummaging through your rubbish bin to hacking your computer.

It's incredibly easy for them to find out personal information about you ranging from the property you own to your car registration details.

More than 1000 incidents of identity theft are reported to the New Zealand Police each year.

There is no guarantee that banks will reimburse you if you are the victim of Internet fraud as a result of identity theft, although they usually do.

If you become a victim contact the police to report the crime.

How not to become a victim

Never throw mail away with personal details on it. Always shred paper — or even do what I do when I can't be bothered turning the shredder on: rip it up and either compost it or flush it down the toilet.

Install security software on your computer that includes antivirus and spyware protection and a firewall (software designed to prevent unauthorised access to your computer across the Internet).

Check your bank and credit card statements online regularly. If your bank has systems to limit the amount you can spend every day, use them to ensure that no-one else can withdraw large chunks of money.

Avoid posting personal details such as full name, workplace, date of birth, and e-mail addresses on social networking sites.

Check your Veda Advantage credit file at least once a year.

Only buy from websites that you know and trust so that your credit card details can't be scammed.

Avoid carrying out transactions on public computers in Internet cafes or libraries. It may have keystroke recording software on it.

Put a lock on your letterbox and receive bank statements electronically where possible.

Consider taking out identity theft insurance.

Read more about identity theft:

Acknowledgements: MSN Money

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Monday, June 21, 2010

BAT LogoImage via Wikipedia

American tobacco expert  "The Insider" shocked by nicotine  levels in New Zealand cigarettes ... 

Former head of research and development for a United States tobacco firm, Dr Jeffrey Wigand is in New Zealand to speak on smoking, the real-life tobacco company whistle blower from the movie The Insider, is shocked to learn of the high levels of nicotine and tar to which New Zealand smokers are exposed.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has brought the American Dr Wigand - portrayed in the 1999 movie by Russell Crowe - to New Zealand to give lectures and to speak to the Maori affairs select committee inquiry into tobacco.

The former head of research and development for a United States tobacco company, Dr Wigand thought someone was playing a prank yesterday when he first glanced at the Herald and saw a graphic showing the high levels of nicotine and tar obtained by the average New Zealand smoker.

"I thought someone was jangling my chain."

New Zealand was highest of eight countries for tar, thought to be a major cause of lung cancer, and second-highest, behind South Africa, for nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco smoke.

The study was conducted by researchers at British American Tobacco (BAT) in Britain, by testing 80,000 filters supplied by smokers in eight countries from their smoked cigarettes.

"Seventeen milligrams is a very high level of tar," said Dr Wigand.

"It approaches the level for non-filtered cigarettes."

"The high nicotine levels are particularly an issue for beginners - children - and for adults in trying to quit."

Dr Wigand, who was sacked in 1993 from Brown & Williamson, part of the BAT group, went on to slam the industry in CBS television interviews which led to the movie.

He was a key witness in anti-tobacco litigation in the US and is a speaker on the industry's practices.

He told the Herald yesterday it was an immoral industry because it harmed and killed consumers when they used its products as intended.

"The mantra in the company I worked for was 'hook 'em young and hook 'em for life'."

He has previously accused Brown & Williamson's head of lying to legislators in stating he believed nicotine was not addictive, and yesterday Dr Wigand dismissed industry assertions that smoking was a matter of adult choice.

Acknowledgements   Martin Johnston

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