Monthly Archives: October 2013

Beloved torrent site Isohunt resurrected by external group : worldleaks

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When Isohunt and its owner were hit with a $110 million fine from the MPAA earlier this month, most users thought it was over for the beloved torrent site. But a new project has resurrected the site with a near-identical layout, hoping to recapture the community behind the original site. The only difference is new ownership and a new domain, Isohunt.to, housed by the Pacific Island of Tonga.

Launched on Tuesday, the new site has restored roughly 75 percent of the old site’s torrent database, the vast majority of which infringe on copyright protections. Speaking to TorrentFreak, the new site’s owners reported their mission as more about restoring Isohunt than substituting it. “IsoHunt has been a big part of the torrent world for more than a decade. It’s a heavy loss,” a source told TorrentFreak. “Media corporations don’t like innovative competition and isoHunt’s fate is one of the examples of how they deal with it.”

 

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Nokia sells 8.8 million Lumia smartphones in Q3, sees profit from NSN business – worldleaks

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Nokia reported Tuesday a third-quarter loss as sales at the handsets unit it is marketing to Microsoft continued to plunge. But the company gave a positive outlook on continuing operations, including the networks unit, causing the share price to surge.

Third-quarter net loss of 91 million euros ($125 million) compared with a net loss of 969 million euros a year earlier, while revenue fell more than 20 percent to 5.6 billion euros.

But the struggling company said its network operations saw net profit grow 33 percent and was anticipated to have a positive operating margin of up to 12 percent in the last quarter, with “solid net sales growth on a sequential basis.”

Nokia’s share price closed up 7 percent higher at 5.34 euros in Helsinki.

The Finnish company sold 8.8 million smartphones in the period – all Lumia products – up 40 percent from a year earlier. In the third quarter last year it sold 6.3 million smartphones of which less than 3 million were Lumias. Demand rose strongly in the U.S., traditionally one of its tougher markets.

But that was not enough to keep Nokia Corp. from giving a negative outlook for the devices and services unit it has agreed to sell to Microsoft Corp. for $7.2 billion, which will be shown as discontinued operations in the fourth quarter.

The company was more upbeat about its left operations: Nokia Solutions and Networks, or NSN; HERE mapping services and the Advanced Technologies unit.

CFO Timo Ihamuotila said it will be in better shape without the devices and services unit, which saw net sales fall by 19 percent in the quarter to 2.9 billion euros, selling only 64.6 million devices, down from 83 million a year earlier.

“Nokia’s earnings profile and financial position are expected to toughen importantly,” Ihamuotila told analysts during a conference call, saying the company will invest in growth in both mapping and location services.

Although Nokia retained its no.2 position in mobile phone sales overall with a 15.5 percent global share, that was mainly thanks to its line of older, non-smartphones that still sell in some emerging markets.

In smartphones, Nokia did not fare well.

At less than 9 million units, its sales lag well behind Samsung’s 88 million and Apple’s 33.8 million. Even South Korean LG, with 12.7 million units, and China’s Lenovo, which sold 11 million, surged past the former world No. 1 that once commanded a global smartphone market share of 50 percent.

Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics near London said Nokia’s remaining operations looked promising.

The networks figures were “reasonably good” and would be a short term encourage for the company, he said, while the HERE mapping services – commanding more than 80 percent market share in the automobile trade – could be a longer lasting boon.

“HERE has some decent prospects, and we see it as being the long term profit driver,” Mawston said. “Nokia has a huge market share in maps worldwide and maps are core to a lot of the automotive and shopping experiences out there worldwide.”

Mawston said he was also “relatively optimistic” about Nokia’s Lumia range.

“All the arrows are indicating in the right direction,” he said. “Nokia-Lumia still has a long way to go but at least they are headed in the right direction after going in the wrong direction for so long.”

Nokia board chairman and interim CEO Risto Siilasmaa described the third quarter as “the most transformative” in the company’s history.

The company repeated its target to save 3 billion euros in operating costs by the end of 2013. Nokia employed 87,000 people at the end of the period, down from more than 105,000 a year earlier.

 

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Astronomers’ team in US finds out most distant galaxy ever – worldleaks

Most distant galaxy ever discovered worldleaks

A team of astronomers, including an Indian-origin scientist, has found out the most distant galaxy in the universe ever found which is said to be 13 billion light years away from the Earth.

“Because of its very large distance of 13 billion light years, we are seeing this galaxy as it was 13 billion years ago. In other words, we are searching the universe when it was only 700 million years old — the current age of the universe is about 13.7 billion years,” Dr Vithal Tilvi, who is currently at the Texas A&M University and a co-author of the research paper, said.

“This discovering is a great deal in astronomy not only because it is the most distant galaxy ever found but also because it gives us clues about the young universe,” Tilvi told PTI.

Born in Goa and having attended Goa University, Tilvi has also worked at the National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula, and National Antarctic Research Center, Vasco.

The results of the latest findings have been published in the most prestigious international journal ‘the Nature’.

This work was led by Dr Steve Finkelstein at University of Texas with many other astronomers including Dr Casey Papovich in the US.

“While we are thrilled about this discovery, we were more amazed to find only a single galaxy at such large distances because we were expecting to find more. This is telling us something that the Universe was fundamentally different when it was young,” Tilvi said.

“Another surprise came to us when we discovered that this galaxy is forming stars enormously, roughly about 300 Sun-like stars every year, compared to only about one Sun-like star produced in our own Milky Way galaxy. It is possible that when the Universe was young, galaxies were more active then they are now,” he said.

“We are very fortunate to be born now, because after a few billion years the size of the universe will be so large that the light from such galaxies would never reach us and thus we won’t see these galaxies,” he pointed out.

“It is truly exciting time to be in astronomy as new large telescopes like Giant Magellan Telescope and the Thirty Meter Telescope are being built now. India is also a partner in the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. When completed, this will be the largest telescope in the world,” Tilvi added

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U.K. Storm Brings Power Cuts, Snarls Transport in South – worldleaks

storm - worldleaks

Millions of U.K. commuters were suggested to stay at home today as the biggest storm for five years drove rail operators across southern Britain to cancel morning rush-hour services.
The country braced overnight for hurricane-force winds and flooding caused by torrential rain after the Met Office issued an amber alert and warned of wind gusts in excess of 80 miles per hour (129 kilometers per hour). The Environment Agency posted more than 140 flood alerts.
“We could see some uprooted trees or other damage from the winds, and there’s a chance of some surface-water flooding from the rainfall,” Martin Young, the Met’s chief forecaster, said on the agency’s website.
The storm, which developed over the Atlantic and has been strengthened by a strong jet stream and warm air close to the U.K., is forecast to hit London and the southeast around 7 a.m., according to forecasters.
Its impact will also be felt in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, where weather services warned of high winds, especially along Channel coasts.
By 5:20 a.m. the U.K. Met Office said the strongest wind gust was 99 mph recorded at Needles Old Battery on the Isle of Wight, while winds were reported to have reached 61 mph over Plymouth. Gusts of 115 mph were recorded during the Great Storm of 1987, when 18 people died in the U.K.

Normal Trading

The coastguard said the search for a 14-year-old boy who was swept into the sea at Newhaven, on the south coast, yesterday was canceled last night.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron held talks with government departments and agencies yesterday “to hear about all the plans to ensure people are protected,” he said. A spokeswoman for the London Stock Exchange said it would operate a normal trading session today.
As well as the widespread disruption to rail services, London’s Heathrow Airport, Europe’s largest aviation hub, has imposed a 20 percent reduction on flights before 11 a.m. today. Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports are advising passengers to check with their airlines on the status of flights.
“Passengers due to travel on Monday should check the status of their flight with their airline before traveling to the airport,” Heathrow said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday.

Runway Capacity

British Airways, whichuses Heathrow as a base, said in a statement it was canceling services on its European and domestic networks today, but long-haul flights into and out of Heathrow were planned to operate as normal. The airline, part of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, said any changes to schedules will be on the website.

High winds expected at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport will reduce runway capacity and affect flight schedules, Air France-KLM Group’s Dutch KLM unit said on its website.
Most trains are not being allowed to run until the worst of the storm has passed and engineers have been able to check railway lines.
“The timing and trajectory of the storm means that services are unlikely to be able to start up until 9 a.m. on many routes in southeast England,” Network Rail said. Even when routes have been cleared as safe to run trains, many operators will be running a reduced or altered service as speed restrictions remain in place, it said.

Rail Lines

Trains to and from Gatwick won’t be running until at least 9 a.m., the airport said in a statement on its website. The U.K.’s Network Rail said there would be no commuter trains into London before 9 a.m. from the south because of the risk of fallen power lines or trees and debris on the track from the expected hurricane force winds.
Southern Trains and the Gatwick Express airport service from London won’t run “until it has been declared safe to do so,” because of the risk of tree branches and debris on rail lines, owner Southern Railway Ltd. said on its website.
Southeastern Trains may need to start services later than usual, according to its website, while South West Trains said it will have a “significantly reduced timetable.
‘‘It is highly unlikely that trains will run before 0800 at the earliest and in some cases this could be considerably later,’’ South West said in a statement.
Transport for London said there will be no service on the capital’s overground rail lines until 9 a.m., while Eurostar said it would be unable to run any cross-Channel rail services before 7 a.m. to allow the high-speed train lines to be inspected.
Virgin Trains and London Midland will run a normal service today, according to National Rail. First Great Western trains between Guildford and Gatwick will not run before 9 a.m., it said on its Twitter feed.

Rush Hour

On the roads, the Queen Elizabeth II bridge, which links the counties of Essex and Kent in southeast England, was being closed overnight owing to high winds, the Highways Agency said.
There is a ‘‘strong possibility’’ the closing will affect the early rush hour, the agency said on its website. It said the Dartford Tunnel would remain open
In the southwest, both crossings across the River Severn are closed to all traffic.
The Met’s amber alert is the middle category of a three-stage weather warning system for the public. The alert covers London, all of southern England, Wales, the West Midlands and parts of the East Midlands, the Met Office said. A less serious yellow alert has been published for eastern England, the northeast and northwest and Yorkshire and the Humber.

‘Fairly Saturated’

The Met said the storm — named after St Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, whose feast day falls today — would approach from the Atlantic on path across the southwest and southern Wales before moving north-eastwards across southern England.
‘‘This weather system is typical of what we expect to see in winter, but as it’s coming in during autumn — when trees are in leaf — and while the ground is fairly saturated, it does pose some risks,” The Met’s Young said.
The storm was also expected to hit western France before spreading to Normandy and Nord-Pas de Calais later this morning, with gusts topping 80 mph on the coasts, according to Meteo France, the national weather forecaster.

Weather services in Belgium and the Netherlands forecast high winds today, with gusts as high as 87 mph in northwest coastal areas of the Netherlands.
The U.K’s so-called Big Six energy companies, which supply more than 90 percent of British customers, made preparations ahead of the storm.

Extreme Weather

Scottish Power Ltd., owned by Iberdrola SA of Spain, called off all non-essential maintenance work in North Wales and has engineers on standby, a spokesman said yesterday by phone. The company supplies energy to about 5.6 million customers in Britain.
RWE Npower Plc has four-wheel-drive vehicles in place to ensure employees can get to work in extreme weather, as well as beds and emergency rations at its stations so the company can generate power at all times, said Amy Rynn, a spokeswoman at the U.K. unit of German utility RWE AG.
SSE Plc tracked the weather for several days and started mobilizing staff on Oct. 25 from Scotland, where it is based in Perth, to the south of England, said Morven Smith, a spokeswoman for the company, which has about 10 million customer accounts for gas and power.
SSE has drafted in extra engineers and tree-cutting staff to central southern England, as well as additional employees in its customer service centers and support personnel, she said yesterday.

Ferries Canceled

The powerful gusts may lead to shutdowns at turbines including those at the London Array, the world’s biggest offshore wind-power site, which automatically halt when wind speeds exceed 56 mph. Structurally, the turbines and offshore sub-stations are designed to withstand conditions “far in excess” of those forecast, Barrie Englishby, a production manager for the project east of London, said Oct. 25.
Ferry services have been canceled today between Plymouth and Roscoff, in France, and between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly.
“We are in the process of contacting all passengers booked on these sailings,” Brittany Ferries, which runs the Plymouth-Roscoff route, said on its website.
P&O Ferries said cross-Channel sailings between Dover and Calais are running 90 minutes late.

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Health Policies called off in Latest Hurdle for Obamacare – worldleaks

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The rollout of Obamacare is running to the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of health insurance plans nationwide, contradicting President Barack Obama’s repeated pledge that people who like their coverage can keep it.

The cancellation notices started to come in recent weeks, compounding the political headaches for the White House from the troubled start of its health insurance exchange, the federal website produced to give millions of people access to new plans by Jan. 1.

The cancellations arrive as a result of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which says that health insurance policies that fail to offer added gains, such as prescription drug coverage and free preventive care, can’t be sold after this year even if they’re cheaper. With the online site expected to face difficulties through November, Americans may have only weeks to find replacement coverage, and many may end up paying higher premiums.

“I keep playing that over and over in my head: that you can keep your health plan, period,” said Terri Flay, a Manassas, Virginia, woman whose policy is being canceled, referring to Obama’s pledge. “But it isn’t ‘period.’ They put a gun to my head saying that I have to pay more because I need the health-care insurance.”

The health-care law wipes out “substandard policies that don’t provide minimum services,” said Jay Carney, a White House spokesman, in response to the cancellations. The “80-plus percent” of Americans with employer plans or covered by government programs are unaffected.
Selling Point

Obama’s oft-repeated pledge was a central selling point of his health-care overhaul, directed at calming consumers who feared being pushed to give up policies and doctors they liked as the program expanded coverage to many of the nation’s 48 million uninsured.

While it’s unclear how many consumers face cancellation of their insurance nationally, some individual carriers have freed data.

Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield, for instance, said about 300,000 members are affected while California’s Blue Shield and Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente will withdraw policies for a combined 280,000. Highmark Health Services of Pittsburgh said 40,000 customers will need to find new plans. CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield sent notices to more than 70,000 customers in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia that their current plans don’t comply with the law.

New Coverage

As many as 80 percent of people who don’t have a company-hosted plan or insurance by the Medicare or Medicaid government programs may have to find new health coverage, said Robert Laszewski, an insurance-industry consultant in Arlington, Virginia. About 19 million people are included in this market.
Plans bought before March 23, 2010, when the law known as Obamacare was enacted, can stay in effect under a “grandfather” clause.

In California, the insurance shift will affect about 2.5 percent of Kaiser Permanente’s members, said Won Ha, a spokesman for the insurer. About 600,000 to 700,000 consumers statewide who have individual health plans will be affected, said Peter V. Lee, the director of Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange. About one-third will receive government subsidies to pay for the new plans or be eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s health coverage for the poor, he said.

Obama Criticism

Federal officials should have worked more closely with insurers to better manage the long-coming shift to new coverage, said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
Instead, “the first thing you get that affects you personally is that you’ve lost your health insurance,” Gordon said in a telephone interview. “That approach is going to backfire politically.”

Republicans seized on the problem, citing Obama’s statements that no one would lose their current plan.
“Probably no pledge made to sell the bill was more disingenuous than this one,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, in an e-mail. “But it’s more than just a broken promise; it means a significantly higher health insurance bill for far too many.”

The law requires all Americans to be covered next year or pay a penalty. Those who want plans that begin Jan. 1 must enroll by Dec. 15 — either by mail, phone or the exchanges.

Uninsured Adults

The administration today said half of eligible adults younger than 34, the group most likely to be uninsured, can find coverage on the federal exchange for $50 a month or less. One million more may qualify for expanded coverage under Medicaid, according to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services.

For Ian Hodge, 63, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the effect is all about getting the same care from the same doctors. When he learned his policy was canceled his reaction was “surprise and disgust,” he said.
Hodge said he tried 10 times to get information about a new policy on Oct. 1, the day the online federal exchange went live. He’s still trying to figure out his options, he said in a telephone interview.
“The website is not very clear,” Hodge said. “I’m concerned about being able to get affordable health care that’s at least as good as what I had previously.”

Hodge and his wife Sara, who also is 63, paid $1,041.85 a month for a plan offered by Highmark, he said. They like the care, their hospital and the doctors, and they worry they won’t be able to keep them under a new plan.

‘Repeated Assurances’

“I had heard the repeated assurances by the president and people who work for him that if you have health insurance, don’t worry, you’ll be able to keep your health insurance,” Hodge said in a telephone interview. “Well, that’s clearly not true. I wasn’t allowed to hold my health insurance.”

Amid the rush to open the exchange on time, the consumer “was probably in last place,” on the priority list for the administration, said Marc Pierce, the founder of Chicago-based Stonegate Advisors, a communications consultant to insurers.

Not all consumers will be losers under the new system. Barbara Wynkoop, 62, of Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, said she expects to find a cheaper plan on the exchange, thanks to subsidies and new coverage for her cholesterol medication. She pays $278 a month now for a policy that Capital BlueCross of Harrisburg plans to discontinue.

Money Saver

“The chance for me to save money and still have decent coverage, what my basic needs would be, I’m happy about that,” she said by telephone.

The affect on individual premiums will vary based on age, benefits and location, Kaiser’s Ha said in an e-mail: “In general, older beneficiaries will tend to see lower rates or modest rate increases relative to their prior coverage,” he wrote. “Younger beneficiaries, particularly those who had very lean benefit plans, may have significant increases.”

Lee, of Covered California, said he didn’t think the president’s pledge was misleading, though “it was overly broad. The reality of the Affordable Care Act is if you have employer coverage, you hold it. If you have Medicare, you keep it. The individual market is being dramatically reformed and it’s changing for both the uninsured and insured.”

While some people may pay more, they’ll find the added benefits mean it’s health coverage they can rely on, Lee said.

Marketplace ‘Reforms’

“From Day One, the Affordable Care Act reforms the individual insurance market,” he said. “Insurers have to take everyone, which for some people may raise the rates a little bit. But it means they have security going forward. You might want to be a risk taker and say ‘I don’t want an airbag.’ We say airbags are a good idea.”

Obama risks a backlash over the cancellations if Americans think he went against his promise they could keep their coverage, said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who consulted for President George W. Bush.
“If Americans conclude that’s not the reality under the Affordable Care Act, support will plummet,” he said.
Democratic pollster Geoff Garin, who worked for Hillary Clinton in 2008 and for advocates of the health law during congressional debate, said Obama’s repeated reassurances addressed the anxieties of swing voters whose support was vital to passage of the law.

The cancellations affect “a distinct minority of voters,” Garin said. By the time of congressional elections next year, voters will judge the health-care law based on how they feel about their new coverage, regardless of the old, he said.

“At the end of the day, different is not the important unit of analysis,” he said. “Better or worse is the vital unit of analysis and people will figure that out in the next year or so.”

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