(The above is my favourite joke which can be found on the packages of a certain German cigarette brand. Note the spelling.)
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Sea Launch Ltd, a joint venture involving Boeing and companies from Russia, Ukraine and Norway, plans to launch satellites from the Equator 800 kilometres south-east of Kiritimati Atoll in Kiribati. Final testing is expected later this month before preparations begin to launch the first satellite, PanAmSat's Galaxy XI, in October.
The site was chosen because the Equator is the ideal place to launch a rocket from. The vehicle can take full benefit of the Earth's rotational forces and thus save fuel--or carry heavier satellites. The Proton, for instance, can put 4 tonnes into orbit when launched from the equator--much more than if launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The environmental pollution created by a single rocket, in this case the Russian Proton, is considerable. According to an environmental impact assessment study (EIA) prepared by Sea Launch, a rocket burns 44.7 tonnes of liquid oxygen and 17 tonnes of kerosene below an altitude of 2 kilometers. At the same time, 4.5 tonnes of unburned fuel will fall in to the sea, creating kerosene slicks several kilometers wide.
The launch site is close to a migration route used by thousands of birds heading for Kiritimati Island, which is also home to turtles. SPREP is also worried that human lives could be at risk as the area is a popular fishing ground.
SPREP marine pollution adviser Steve Raaymakers said the EIA's description of the marine environment of the launch site was "entirely inadequate" because "significant inferences have been made from extremely limited data."
SPREP has until May 22 to make comments on the SeaLaunch EIA which had been submitted to the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency.
SeaLaunch officials pointed out that launching from the sea greatly reduces the environmental impact on the land and that an alternative launch site at Australia's Cape York could threaten crocodiles.
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EchoStar IV will operate at EchoStar's 119 degrees W orbital location which covers the Continental U.S. (CONUS.) Together with EchoStar II, it will provide video, audio and data services throughout the CONUS, Hawaii and Alaska. Before that, on-orbit tests are expected at 127 degrees W.
EchoStar I, currently at 119 degrees W will be transferred to 148 degrees W where the satellite, along with EchoStar III at 61.5 degrees W, will expand EchoStar's local programming initiative to include approximately 20 of the largest metropolitan areas and provide expanded international and niche channels, educational and business television as well as data delivery applications.
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During the last several weeks, Controllers in the Hughes Mission Control Center in El Segundo, California/USA have fired the satellite's onboard rocket motor several times to raise its altitude. Today's was the 12th firing, and it burned for almost two minutes to give HGS-1 its final kick toward the moon. Controllers may use short burns during the nine-day cruise to make minor adjustments in the flight path.
Controller have confirmed that the spacecraft is on its way. The satellite reached a maximum speed of 38,400 km/h after the firing to send it on its nearly six-day outbound trip. On May 13, it will pass behind the moon, coming as close as 8,000 kilometers above the surface.
With an assist from lunar gravity, it will swing around the moon, change directions and head off on its three-day return trip to Earth. On May 16, satellite controllers will begin braking manoeuvres to help the satellite settle into an orbit around the equator.
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"Our investment is comparatively low and has the advantage of prices and services," Zhou Zehe, chairman of APMT, told a news conference. "It will be one-third that of Iridium."
The launch date of the consortium's APMT satellite has been set back several times over the past few years. The spacecraft as well as a back-up will delivered by Hughes Space and Communications International in March 2000, APMT said. Commercial services are expected to be offered by the end of 2000.
APMT, a joint venture of a consortium of Chinese companies and a subsidiary of state-owned Singapore Technologies, said it had raised US$95 million from its shareholders with two-thirds coming from the Chinese parties. It estimates the total cost of the project at US$640 million.
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The GTE suit, which was filed in U.S. federal district court in Washington, D.C., asserts that the merger of WorldCom/MCI--the number one and number two backbone providers--will allow the combined company to monopolise the market for Internet backbone services.
GTE said in its suit that the combined company would own 40 to 60% of the critical Internet "backbone" network that transmits and routes data for consumers and Internet service providers.
"From the outset, GTE has consistently opposed this merger as highly anticompetitive," said William P. Barr, executive vice president and general counsel of GTE.
"Subsequent events have confirmed this position. Both the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission are in the midst of intensive investigation of this transaction--especially its impact on the Internet and the domestic and international long-distance markets. Indeed, the European Commission has recently issued a detailed Statement of Objections setting forth its opposition to the merger as anti-competitive."
GTE's action comes on the heels of an announcement that the EC will hold hearings May 12 and 13 to require WorldCom and MCI to answer the EC's objections. U.S. antitrust officials are also examining whether WorldCom's purchase of MCI could thwart competition in the Internet backbone market and the domestic and international long distance markets.
The EU Commission, acting as the Union's competition watchdog and headed by Commissioner Karel van Miert, has exclusive EU competence in corporate concentrations involving firms with a combined global turnover of five billion ecus (approx. US$5 billion.) It has the power to block, or force changes to, deals which create or strengthen dominant positions in the EU whether or not the companies involved are European.
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Raouf Said, chairman of the channel, was quoted as saying the cut was part of a plan to face increasing competition from conventional satellite channels, from the Arabic-language digital bouquet Orbit, and from Italy's Rai Uno which has resumed terrestrial re-broadcasts in Tunisia.
Canal Horizons so far has attracted 40,000 subscribers in Tunisia and hopes for some 20,000 to 30,000 more by the end of the year. Not only as a consequence of the price cut but also because of an improved distribution: via satellite from a Eutelsat Hot Bird, and terrestrially over a transmitter that covers the coastal area from Biserte to Mahdia, some 250 kilometres from Tunis.
Canal Horizons officials expect the final kick from football [soccer]: Canal Horizons will be the only Tunisian station that broadcasts all 64 World Cup matches with particular attention given to the Tunisian team.
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Chris Akers, chairman of Leeds United's holding company Leeds Sporting plc, said that BSkyB was currently in talks with the Premier League about pay-per-view being introduced for next season, although he said there was still no concrete deal.
Apart from that, pay-per-view could be introduced on UEFA Cup or Cup Winners' Cup matches. Akers, speaking on on BBC Radio Five Live's Inside Edge programme, predicted matches would cost around UKP8 to 10, depending on the opposing club.
Akers continued: "In terms of the costs of the game, as more and more investment is put into the playing squads and salaries associated with it, we've got to grow revenue at a faster rate.
"I think like any form of entertainment we have to do our best to secure the maximum sources of income."
Did football matches actually get any better over the past ten or 20 years? Do these clubs deserve all that money because they deliver better entertainment than back then? I don't really think so. Something's fundamentally wrong with all that, I suppose, but anyway it's you who's got to pay the bill.
Let's hope that this kind of entertainment industry will be put into proportion sooner rather than later. Nobody denies them a decent income, but recent developments all over Europe can only be called insane and totally out of proportion simply because football clubs don't offer anything new. To my knowledge, none of them have so far re-invented the game.
Even protagonists of digital TV should now be prepared to admit what it's all about: exploiting broadcast rights to the hilt--first cashing in from the rich, then selling the same stuff to the middle class who can't afford pay-per-view but are prepared to spend some money on pay-TV. Those who are not interested in any kind of pay-TV at all may possibly allowed watch the matches on TV a few days later.
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Western International Media's survey, which comprised 3,000 participants in Britain, says that 23 percent of women said cable and satellite did not interest them at all. A further 27 percent did not think they were good value for money.
Ivor Hussein, research director at Western International Media, was quoted as saying that "women are the gatekeepers. They will decide whether digital gets into their homes."
Commenting on the advent of digital satellite TV in the UK, he predicted "big problems in households this autumn unless women are convinced there is something worthwhile on digital for them."
They study also warned that getting people to watch commercials on digital TV could also prove difficult. A third of terrestrial viewers avoid watching commercials already, and the figure is even higher with cable and satellite viewers (41 percent.) The balance of those asked said they found commercials irritating and irrelevant.
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Hmmm... I guess this one by Patrick McKinnon is clean enough as nothing nasty happens after all, doesn't it. What do males learn from it? Maybe this: don't turn to the ladies if you really want to get screwed.
A young man was in town looking for a little something from the ladies. A cabdriver gave him an address and told him he could find anything he wanted there.
When the young man arrived, he saw a door with a small panel on it. He knocked and the panel slid open. A female voice asked what he wanted. "I want to get screwed," said the man.
"OK, but this is a private club. Slide twenty bucks in the slot as an initiation fee," answered the voice.
The man slid twenty dollars in the slot, the panel closed, and ten minutes passed. Nothing happened. He began to pound on the door, and the panel slid open.
"Hey," exclaimed the man, "I want to get screwed!"
"What?" said the voice, "Again?"
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