No sorry, it was not the formatting, neither was there any kind of anniversary yesterday. (If you want an upcoming anniversary: the first issue of this so-called newsletter that was completely written in English--well, kind of--was published on May 17, 1996.) And there wasn't a record number of readers' contributions yesterday, either.
So far, no reader has found out what made yesterday's issue so special. Hint #1 was that it wasn't about Australia, and here's hint #2: it's about the absence of something. Keep trying, it's easy :-)
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NOAA spokeswoman Patricia Viets said the agency decided to establish the new communications policy because of the recent growth in private satellite services. Weather and climate data collected by the NOAA satellites will continue to be available.
The new policy affects instruments that receive signals from Earth and relay them back, mostly for tracking purposes. Two private companies, Final Analysis and Orbcomm say they can provide similar services.
NOAA said that "Non-government, non-environmental use will not be allowed except in rare cases where there is significant possibility of loss of life, such as for Arctic expeditions or scientific campaigns into remote areas." Non-government environmental use will be allowed only when there is a government interest in the application.
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Mr Truss said the new observatory would use laser light to measure distances between passing satellites and the Earth providing information on alterations to the shape of the Earth, the movement of continents across the Earth's surface and changes in sea levels. This will provide scientists with a better understanding of global change processes such as continental drift and the rise or fall of the Earth's land mass.
"This in turn will enable scientists to more accurately predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, quantify changes in sea levels and improve the long-term management of drought, coastal flooding, bushfires and other natural disasters," Mr Truss said.
The observatory was built for the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group (AUSLIG) and is expected to be fully operational by July 1998. "The new facility will replace AUSLIG's existing observatory, which has been operating at Orroral in the ACT since 1975," Mr Truss said. "It forms part of a global network of 46 observatories, of which only three are in the Southern Hemisphere."
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Under the service agreement, Al-Murjan will act as the sole distributor of Globalstar mobile satellite services in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, and Bahrain. It will own and operate a centrally located Globalstar ground station (gateway) and obtain all necessary regulatory approvals for interconnecting the Globalstar system with those nations' existing wireline and wireless infrastructure. The exact location of the planned gateway is under study.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the number of main telephone lines in the Middle East region is approximately 6.3 lines per 100 people, while the number of cellular users, currently 1.2 million users, has been doubling every three years. The dual-mode (cellular and satellite) Globalstar system has been expressly designed to extend cellular-type service in regions of the world where it has not been cost-effective or practical to build out terrestrial cellular infrastructure. Moreover, Globalstar is expected to offer an affordable means to meet basic telephony needs in remote regions that have little or no telephone service.
Al-Murjan is a Saudi multinational company with manufacturing and trading operations in various industries. Globalstar, led by Loral Space & Communications, is a partnership of leading telecommunications service providers and equipment manufacturers.
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"Telkom has invested US$20 million in ICO as a shareholder and 260 million rand in building the ICO earth station for African traffic," Dr Rhynie Greeff, managing exectutive of Telkom's international and special market services, was quoted as saying.
London-based ICO, spun off from the International Mobile Satellite Organisation, is a privately held company with US$2 billion of capital from a consortium of 60 investors, comprising telecommunications companies from around the world. ICO services target mobile phone users roaming outside areas covered by terrestrial cellular networks and are expected to begin full operation in 2000.
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Telesat is undertaking ventures that will significantly expand satellite services in North America and beyond. In the fall of 1998, Telesat plans to launch its Nimiq direct broadcast satellite, which will bring expanded direct-to-home television services to Canadians from coast-to-coast. Telesat has also recently announced plans to launch its new Anik F series of fixed satellites starting in 2000.
BCE is Canada's largest telecommunications company. BCE's shares are traded in Canada, the United States and in Europe. Telesat is a world leader in satellite communications and systems management. Created in 1969, the Company made history with the launch of Anik A1 in 1972, the world's first commercial domestic communications satellite placed in geostationary orbit.
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K-Tel recently posted a loss of US$952,000 for its third quarter. The company said said it would continue to "narrow its focus and concentrate resources on its existing primary businesses--music distribution and direct response marketing, and its newly launched Internet retailing business."
It has to be noted, however, that K-Tel shares today hit a 52-week high after gaining another 11 percent--despite the fact that, according to Bloomberg, an analyst at Janssen Meyers Associates reiterated his sell rating on K-tel, and Key West Securities downgraded K-tel to sell from buy.
The official version is that K-Tel's Internet presence has made their shares skyrocket--before the announcement of their Web site, K-Tel stock traded at around US$8 at the New York Stock Exchange. Yesterday, the price was US$75. So, either just saying "Internet" is still enough to make share prices soar, or there are other reasons for that on which we most certainly will not speculate.
The Internet version sound even weaker as K-tel President David Weiner publicly stated his reservations: "the success of online marketing cannot be currently determined, and to achieve further participation in this market will require substantial additional financial resources, development and acquisition of technology, investments in marketing, and contractual relationships with third parties." He added that existing competitors may have "substantially greater resources" than K-tel.
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The Süddeutsche Zeitung, not exactly known as a friend and supporter of Kirch's, said that "the highly-indebted Kirch has been trying in vain since last year to get a billion-sized credit for his risky expansion course in television."
Citing banks and leaks from the Kirch group, the report says banks had rejected his loan requests because they first wanted to see the result of a probe into alleged tax evasion by Kirch. Some banks were also waiting for the outcome of the EU probe on the proposed Kirch/Bertelsmann deal--the final ruling is expected on June 3.
A statement from KirchGroup dismissed the report as "wrong" but declined to comment on any details. The statement, however, said that the report was based upon investigation files illegally obtained by the paper. They did not explicitly say that the contents of these files were inaccurate--instead, they said they were inaccurately quoted by the Süddeutsche.
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The company's press release stated, in best Microsoftish, that "interactive programming is television programming enhanced with data to create a richer, more dynamic experience for viewers. This can be as simple as creating a link between a TV show and a related Web site, or as rich as creating a programme with both a television and Internet experience integrated into one programme for the consumer. This capability will not only provide consumers with a richer experience but may help producers to better attract and retain viewers."
In related news, Tele-Communications Inc. and Microsoft entered into a definitive agreement, originally announced in January 1998, under which Microsoft will license a minimum of 5 million copies of the Windows CE operating system and related software to TCIs National Digital Television Center for use in advanced digital set-tops.
Microsoft's chairman, Bill Gates, has warned that any delay to the release of the company's next operating system, Windows 98, would damage not just his firm or even the computer industry, but the entire economy.
"Holding up the release of a major software innovation such as Windows 98 would be like telling General Motors they can't come out with any new cars this fall, or telling Paramount they can't come out with any new movies on July 4th.
"The effects would be profound and would ripple through the economy."
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The movie will be the most expensive film (US$58 million) ever to have its U.S. premiere on premium television, simply because in this age of hysteria nobody so far had the guts to acquire the rights from France's Pathe, even though the movie is more or less completely U.S. made. The R-rated film is about the love of a 45-year-old college professor to a 14-year old girl.
"We at Showtime are happy to provide a continuing refuge for filmmakers with non-traditional material," said Jerry Offsay, President, Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. "We consider the acquisition of 'Lolita' to be an enormous coup for our network. We expect there to be a great deal of controversy, but we've been down this road before." He added that the channel would "schedule and promote the film in a responsible manner due to the sensitive subject matter." Additionally, Showtime is in discussions with several distributors about a post-Showtime theatrical release.
Showtime Networks Inc, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom Inc., owns the premium television networks Showtime, The Movie Channel and Flix. Pathe is an international entertainment company, based in Paris, which operates in television (pay-television, thematic Channels) and in motion pictures (production, distribution, exhibition, library of rights).
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"Celsat's system will allow extraordinarily low-cost communications from Bangor, Maine, to a boat in Puget Sound, to an airplane over the Mojave Desert, to a wheat field in Kansas," said David D. Otten, Chief Executive Officer of Celsat. "Celsat can provide communications anywhere to anywhere on the cheap."
However, Celsat must first be allocated a license for spectrum by the FCC. But the mobile satellite field is quite crowded and the existing Goliaths want everything, Celsat said in a statement. Six other applicants for newly allocated spectrum already have ample and unused spectrum, but want more. And more. And more.
Says Otten, "they have asked for this new spectrum, in my opinion, without offering a sufficient explanation for why they require such a large allocation. Indeed, what each has asked for is a tenfold increase over their current licenses."
Celsat plans to deploy a patented satellite based mobile communications system that is compatible with and augments terrestrial PCS systems now being implemented throughout the United States. The launch of a single geostationary satellite will inaugurate these services. Celsat's system would initially permit operation anywhere in the continental U.S. as well as a significant portion of Canada and Mexico. It would also provide high-quality communications with half the power of current licensees and would allow consumers to use a small and slim pocket sized cellular phone. Celsat believes the other companies require bulky and heavy handsets with large and awkward antennas which require relatively high radiation to make a phone call.
But Celsat's true appeal, according to Otten, may be its expected cost of operation to consumers. Using a system of earth stations and a stationary satellite, Celsat would be able to carry voice, data, internet, and paging, as well as determine the position of the user for pennies per minute. "By contrast, existing licensees have stated that they will have costs in the range of dollars per minute," Otten said. "Such a cost is well out of the range of most consumers. Our service is much more economical and consumer friendly."
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The European Commission, the EU's competition watchdog, refused to comment on the meeting of the advisory committee.
CLT-UFA, the TV joint venture between Bertelsmann unit CLT and Luxembourg's CLT, confirmed that the companies had made more concessions last Monday, but declined to elaborate.
A related deal, which would allow Bertelsmann, Kirch and cable giant Deutsche Telekom to act as gatekeeper for digital set-top boxes through Kirch's BetaResearch unit, should also be blocked, the advisory group reportedly said.
The advisers' recommendations are not legally binding, but are usually followed by the Commission. The expert group could meet again if Kirch, Bertelsmann and Deutsche Telekom make new proposals until the final deadline which expires on June 3.
DF1: http://ww.df1.de/ [German]
BetaResearch: http://www.betaresearch.de/ [redirected to Kirch's main site]
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Speaking of history: Does anybody know the exact number of children of Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503)? The 'official' number, as for instance reported by Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia, is four. According to my sources, he had four children with a woman by the name of Vannozza die Cattanei alone--but that was just one woman. And anyway, it was even before he bought himself the Holy See. After that, the average of prostitutes attending Alexander's orgies an the Vatican reportedly was 25 per night. Okay, he compensated for his reproduction rate somewhat as he also had many people murdered. So much for the history of the Roman Catholic Church and some interesting, err... figures. (Don't say you didn't provoke me :-)
Some of you also said they didn't like long jokes. Well, just don't read 'em! So here's another long one ;-) sent in by Hanno Basse:
Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, the Dalai Lama and a Hippie are sitting in an airplane flying through the night. All of a sudden the pilot jerks out of the cockpit with a parachute backpack on and declares: "Hi guys, this plane is going to crash in a few minutes and we are one parachute short. You can sort out among yourselves who's gonna die on that plane!" Having said that, the pilot opens the door and jumps off.
Clinton grabs a backpack and says: "I'm the most powerful man on Earth--I must survive. Think of my responsibilities!" Off the plane he goes.
Gates gets up putting on another backpack: "I'm the most ingenious man on Earth--what a loss would that be for the human race!" Waves good-bye and jumps out.
The Dalai Lama turns to the Hippie and says: "Listen, I'm an old man, I've lived my life--you go ahead and take the last parachute."
The Hippie: "Don't worry, Grandpa--none of us has to die. The most ingenious man on Earth just jumped out of this plane with my shabby bag on his back!"
And where there's one of our favourite Billies, the other one can't be too far. Here's a quickie for all you smokers out there, sent in Glenn Flaherty.
Bill Clinton was walking around the White House with a pair of ladies panties on his arm. Everyone was looking at him and wondering what he was doing now.
After about an hour one guy got brave enough to ask him what he was doing with the pair of ladies panties on his arm.
Clinton: "It's the patch, I'm trying to quit."
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