Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Bad Joke That Is The Sun Brodband

First, I subscribed to Smart broadband. It was painfully slow. I switched to Globe. It was fast. I should have been satisfied but each time it goes down, the downtime period can take weeks which is unacceptable if you depend on the internet to get your job done. I switched to Sun broadband after I heard  them claim on their ad on TV that their service is fast and reliable. Damn! If I go by Sun’s definition of fast and reliable then this world is doomed. Give me all the bad adjectives you could think of and that is just how I would describe their services. It gets disconnected every after few minutes.  The longest I can stay online without getting interrupted is 15 minutes. That should put them on the Guinness book of records. When you succeed in getting reconnected you land back on Sun's web page not on the page you were working on when you got disconnected. Very clever of Sun but no thanks that pisses me all the more.  Now! Don’t ever ask me if I ever complained. After all my "complaining" experiences, I could now write a book on “How to Master the Art of Complaining and Still Not Get Results” (Hmm! Good idea! That could easily climb on top of a bestseller list).  And please, don’t come telling me of glowing testimonials on how excellent the Sun broadband services is or I will send my the devil running after you.   

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gourmet Salad Recalled

N.Y. Gourmet Salads, Inc., a Brooklyn, N.Y., establishment, is recalling an undetermined amount of various meat and poultry products that were produced without the benefit of federal inspection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The following products are subject to recall:
  • 4.5-pound and 5-pound containers of "Lemon Grilled Chicken"
  • 4.5-pound and 5-pound containers of "Meatballs"
  • 4.5-pound and 5-pound containers of "Meatballs and Sauce"
  • 4.5-pound and 5-pound containers of "Swedish Meatballs"
  • 5-pound containers of "Sausage and Peppers"
  • 4.5-pound and 5-pound containers of "Chicken Salad"
  • 5-pound containers of "Grilled Chicken"
  • 5-pound containers of "Grilled Chicken, Plain"
  • 4.5-pound and 5-pound containers of "Breaded Chicken"
  • 6-pound containers of "Stuffed Cabbage"
  • 5-pound containers "Teriyaki Grilled Chicken"
  • 5-pound containers "Chopped Chicken Liver"

The implicated products were produced between March 11, 2010, and Oct. 29, 2010, and were distributed to retail establishments in New York. Labeling information on these products is currently unknown, unless otherwise noted above. The products subject to this recall may or may not bear the N.Y. Gourmet Salads Inc. label with the establishment number "P-34440" or "Est. 34440" inside the USDA mark of inspection. A retail distribution list(s) is available on the FSIS' website at

These products were the subject of a public health alert issued on Oct. 30, 2010. After a continued investigation by FSIS, the products are now being recalled by the firm. FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.

Consumer and media questions regarding the recall should be directed to the company Vice President Lenny Spada at (718) 765-0082.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Nader to Dodd: Stand up to special banking interests

March 2, 2010

The Honorable Senator Christopher Dodd

Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

448 Russell Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Dodd:

On January 19, 2010, I wrote to you about news reports that you were considering dropping the proposal to create an independent and free-standing Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). In the last few days news reports indicating that you are advancing the notion that the CFPA should be housed within the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is always a step short and a day late in protecting consumers.

To house the CFPA within the Federal Reserve is to doom it to failure.

As I said in that letter,

Making this kind of deal with the Republicans and more conservative members of your own party will signal to consumers across the land that you, as chair of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, have lost touch with Main-Street interests. It will show that the leaders of the Democratic Party care more about the high-rolling gamblers on Wall Street and the fat-cat bankers than the consumers, workers, taxpayers, and small investors who have been left with the costs of the financial meltdown caused by executives' greed, speculation and crimes.

When you announced that you were not seeking re-election, many in the consumer movement thought that you would be free to push for meaningful financial re-regulation because you wouldn't have to worry about re-election fundraising. Instead it looks like you are mistakenly thinking that a financial re-regulation bill, no matter how lacking, is better than no bill, and that you need to deliver such a bill for President Obama.

In fact, abandoning consumers on real financial re-regulation is likely to be more costly to President Obama and the Democratic Party than standing up to the banking and financial interests that have so damaged our economy.

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency should be independent with strong leadership, not part of some other existing bank-indentured financial regulatory agency. Consumers need an independent agency that will serve their interests without being captured by the financial wheelers and dealers who put gouging for short-term profit before the legitimate interests of consumers. These wheelers and dealers have been expert in capturing the so-called bank regulators in Washington, DC. You have previously pointed out their "abysmal failure."

Senator Dodd, it is time for you to be a transforming leader and champion for many millions of consumers. You know how to articulate their case and focus public outrage on the recalcitrant members of your committee. Fight for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency - the people and consumer groups will support you.

Why not convene a representative group of them, including aggrieved individuals, at a news conference to demonstrate your determination to reach out to the people of our country?

In addition to the a news conference you should do two additional things:

1. Invite Senators Shelby and Corker to barnstorm with you in Alabama and Tennessee respectively and see whether the citizens of those states support a strong and independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

2. Introduce legislation to create a Financial Consumers’ Association, supported by membership dues and controlled by its members who would elect a board of directors that could hire researchers, organizers, accountants and lawyers. A Financial Consumers’ Associations would augment the work of the CFPA by:

1. Representing consumer interests before regulatory agencies, legislative bodies, and the courts, and in negotiations with financial service providers;

2. Advocating policies before regulatory bodies that will ensure reasonable access to credit for all consumers;

3. Evaluating the performance of mortgage lenders and monitor the availability of financial services to less affluent and minority borrowers; and

4. Providing policymakers, consumers, workers, shareholders, taxpayers and the news media with timely information on the effects of financial industry and government initiatives.

A Financial Consumers’ Association would enhance the influence of consumers in the policy-making process and empower citizens by educating them, uniting them, and giving them a meaningful voice in directly shaping financial institutions’ consumer policies.

Senator Dodd, stand up to the banking interests and the anti-consumer Senators who want to derail the CFPA. Challenge your fellow Senators to cast a vote for or against a strong, independent CFPA. The voters deserve to know who represents their interests.


Ralph Nader

Friday, February 26, 2010

Apple pursuing cloud-based media delivery strategy?

Apple has been in talks with some of the major film studios recently about enabling iTunes users to store their content on Apple-controlled servers, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with the discussions, Cnet reports that the service would be offered alongside similar cloud-based offerings for TV shows and music, and that Apple’s plan would involve having users access video from various Internet-connected devices, including, most prominently, the iPad. “Basically, they want to eliminate the hard drive,” one source said. The report notes that there is some indication consumers purchasing large amounts of media, including music, videos, and applications, are beginning to max out their hard drives, leading to a possible fall in sales due to the lack of available storage. Notably, the movie studios are said to be concerned about ensuring that purchased media is accessible from a number of devices, including those not made by Apple; this despite the fact that the DRM placed on the companies’ current iTunes Store offerings prohibits them from being played on any non-Apple device.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FDA Collaboration Seeks to Speed Development of Pneumococcal Vaccines for Children in Developing Countries

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently announced a collaboration with PATH to advance development of a vaccine to protect children against diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), especially pneumonia.

Worldwide, the bacterium also causes infections of the brain (meningitis), blood (sepsis), and middle ear (otitis media) and each year kills about 1 million children younger than 5 years of age. The collaboration aims to improve the techniques used to produce effective, safe, and affordable vaccines against pneumococcal disease for children in the developing world.

PATH is an international nonprofit organization based in Seattle that creates sustainable, culturally relevant, and affordable solutions to help communities worldwide to break cycles of poor health.

The collaborative project, expected to run for two years, is being conducted under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) program. The program allows federal laboratories and businesses to form partnerships that help expedite research activities.

Under the agreement, PATH will help the FDA obtain materials needed for the agency to develop the conjugate vaccine technology. PATH also will provide approximately $480,000 to the FDA for the development of both the conjugation technology and tests to determine if the carrier proteins are properly linked to the polysaccharides.

The goal of the CRADA is to evaluate the application of Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) conjugation technology to pneumococcal vaccines. If it holds promise for fulfilling the goal of providing safe, effective, and affordable pneumococcal vaccines, the CRADA permits transfer of the technology to the China National Biotec Group’s Chengdu Institute of Biological Products, and eventually to groups in other developing countries as appropriate.

"CBER will use its scientific expertise to develop technology for a vaccine against pneumococcal disease that is safe and effective,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., acting director of the FDA's CBER. "The collaboration with PATH is an example of how the FDA applies technologies it develops to public health issues in the United States and throughout the world under the agency’s Critical Path Initiative."
The goal of the FDA’s work is to improve the efficiency of a key technology in the development of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine candidates. The technology is used to link a piece of the bacterium’s surface coating, a polysaccharide made up of long chains of sugars, to a special molecule called a carrier protein in a process called conjugation.

When carrier proteins are joined with the polysaccharides, they significantly increase the strength of the immune response. Without these proteins, the polysaccharides by themselves would not trigger an adequate immune response in young children.

CBER conjugation technology has already been used by the Meningitis Vaccine Project—a partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization—for the development of a conjugate vaccine to prevent meningococcal meningitis in Africa.

For more information:

Collaborative Opportunities–FDA Technology Transfer Program

PATH Web site
http://www.path.org2 Exit Disclaimer

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tips For Online Shopping

Shopping online does carry some risk, but so does shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. At least online shoppers don't need to worry about fender-benders in the parking lot, pick pockets at the mall, or getting the flu from all those fellow shoppers.
But the nice thing about shopping online is that by following some basic guidelines you can be reasonably sure you'll have a safe experience.
Secure your PC: The first thing you need to do is be sure your computer is secure. Trend Micro's education director David Perry, says that "bad guys these days are operating by planting a keylogger on your system that listens in, surreptitiously waiting for you to use your credit card or your bank password so that they can steal your money." So, even if you're dealing with a legitimate merchant, you're at risk if your computer is infected. Your best protection from these attacks is to keep your operating system and browsers updated and use a good and up-to-date security program.
Click with care: Be cautious with all those offers you receive via e-mail. While they might be legitimate, there is the possibility of some offers coming from criminals trying to trick you into giving your password to a rogue site or visiting a site that can put malicious software on your computer. Your best protection is to not click on any links--even if the message looks legitimate--but to type in the merchant's URL manually.
Know the merchant: : If you're not familiar with the merchant, do a little research like typing its name (and perhaps the word "scam") into a search engine to see if there are any reports of scams. Look for user reviews on sites like Look for seller ratings if you locate the merchant through a shopping search engine like Google Shopping . Google doesn't certify the integrity of the sites that come up in its searches, but if you see lots of seller ratings that are mostly positive, that's a pretty good sign. You're generally pretty safe with sellers that are affiliated with shopping aggregators like, Yahoo Shopping, Retrevo or BizRate. Microsoft's new Bing search engine offers a cash-back program with affiliated merchant
It's a good idea to look for seals of approval from Truste or Better Business Bureau Online,  (see BBB seal on the left) but remember that a seal is only a graphic. It can be counterfeit. To be sure, visit the certifying agency's site to look up the merchant.
When you're about to enter your credit card, make sure you're on a "secure "site. The URL should have an https at the beginning (s for "security") and there should be a small gold lock in the lower right corner of the browser. This isn't an iron-clad guarantee, but still worth looking for.
If you're still not sure, look for a phone number and call them. Aside from eliminating the chance of a keylogger grabbing your information, you may get a little more assurance talking to a human being.
Pay by credit card: Credit cards offer you an extra level of protection including the right to "charge back" if you feel you're a victim of fraud. The credit company will investigate your claim and permanently remove the charge if fraud can be proven.
Also some credit card companies offer extra protections including extended warranties and protection against loss or theft. Federal law limits your liability for misuse of a credit card to $50 but many credit card companies will waive that limit. Unless you're very sure about the merchant, don't provide them with a checking account number and never disclose your social security number to online merchants.
It's also a good idea to check your online credit card statement frequently. Most credit card companies will display recent charges online within a few days of the actual transaction. While you're on your credit card company's site, check your interest rate. Credit card companies have been known to "adjust" rates (usually upward) for a variety of reasons.
Know the real price: Be sure you understand the actual cost of the item, including shipping, handling, and sales tax. That can have an enormous impact on the final price. Many merchants are offering free shipping during the holidays and some merchants that have both online physical stores will let you pick up the item in the store for free. In most states if you do business with a merchant that has a physical presence in your state, the merchant is required to collect state sales taxes. Although it's tough to enforce, some states expect you to self-report all of your online purchases and pay sales taxes when you file your state income tax return.
Happy returns: Be sure you understand the merchant's return policies including the deadline for returns and what documentation you'll need. In most cases, they won't refund the shipping charges and you'll have to pay to ship it back. Always keep your packing until you're sure you're not going to return it.
Read the privacy policy: The policy, according to the American Bar Association's, should disclose "what information the seller is gathering about you, how the seller will use this information; and whether and how you can "opt out" of these practices."
Pay attention to these tips and the chances of you being victimized by online fraud would be extremely low.

Originally posted at Safe and Secure 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Indian Workers Rebuke Quebec Over Asbestos

'It will be remembered as an act of barbarism in the history of industrial development where asbestos was knowingly allowed to be used, and where workers were knowingly subjected to it.'—Gobal Krishna, activist

 Unionized workers gathered in Mumbai on Monday to denounce Quebec's asbestos industry.

Unionized workers and activists in India capitalized on Quebec's trade mission this week to blast the province for its active role on the global asbestos market.

While Quebec Premier Jean Charest led his 130-person mission through meetings with local business leaders and entrepreneurs, Indian opponents spoke out against the asbestos industry, blaming it for making workers in the subcontinent ill.

It's hypocritical for Quebec to ban the use of chrysotile asbestos at home, while selling it to countries in the developing world, said activist Gobal Krishna.

"It will be remembered as an act of barbarism in the history of industrial development where asbestos was knowingly allowed to be used, and where workers were knowingly subjected to it," Krishna told reporters at the news conference in Mumbai.

Asbestos has been banned by nearly every developed country and a growing number of developing nations, but countries like India still rely on the flame-resistant mineral for construction projects.

Unionized workers gathered in Mumbai on Monday to denounce Quebec's asbestos industry.Unionized workers gathered in Mumbai on Monday to denounce Quebec's asbestos industry. At least 20 per cent of workers in India are exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, and the building material is responsible for making many Indian workers sick, accused Sanjay Singhvi, secretary general of the Trade Union Centre of India, a labour federation.

Asbestos can't be used safely in India, he said.

The United Nations says chrysotile asbestos, widely used in building materials, accounted for about 94 per cent of global asbestos production and is considered a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. At least 90,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, the UN said.

Singhvi said he was disappointed Charest refused to meet with his organization during the weeklong trade mission.

Charest's office said Quebec promotes the responsible use of asbestos. Quebec exports to India hit $427M

Charest arrived in Mumbai on Sunday with 130 Quebecers participating in the trade mission.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest is on a trade mission to India. The premier said the mission aims to promote Quebec expertise in infrastructure, environmental technologies and telecommunications to the Indian market, which counts more than 1.2 billion people.

Thirteen deals were penned between Quebec and Indian companies on Monday, including an agreement with a Quebec City company specializing in cleaning industrial waste water.

Quebec exported $427 million in goods to India in 2008, including airplanes, paper, asbestos and electronics.

Opposition Parti Québécois members accuse Charest of fleeing to foreign lands in order to avoid political pressure at home, including calls for a public inquiry into the province's dysfunctional construction industry.

Quebec operates two asbestos mines.

Read more: