Sunday, May 8, 2011

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Prisons Get Big Kickbacks For Phone Contracts, Prisoners' Families Pay The P...

Posted about 22 hours ago by Unknown35 joelpomales to joelpomales's posterous

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via The Consumerist by Ben Popken on 5/5/11

A investigation by Prison Legal News exposes how prisons are getting fat kickbacks from telephone companies in order to land exclusive service contracts, which they then use to charge sky-high calling rates. There's usually a connection charge of $3.00 or more and it can cost upwards of $.89 a minute. That means a 15-minute collect call can end up costing $10-$17. Compare that to the $.05 or $.10 most customers pay. Because the calls are often collect, it's the prisoners' families that end up paying the price.
It's one thing to be judged guilty, but your punishment shouldn't include price gouging.
According to the report, "PLN found that 42 states accept kickback commissions from prison phone companies... In some cases the commissions exceed 60 percent of prison phone revenue."
It's time to cut the cord.
Nationwide PLN Survey Examines Prison Phone Contracts, Kickbacks (PDF) [Prison Legal News]
Study exposes prison phone price gouging [PSLweb]
(Thanks to Bob!)
Ex-Communication: Competition and Collusion in the U.S. Prison Telephone Industry [Critical Studies in Media Communication]

Zendesk And MindTouch Add Social Knowledge To Customer Support

Posted about 22 hours ago by Unknown35 joelpomales to joelpomales's posterous

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via TechCrunch by Leena Rao on 5/6/11

Customer support startup Zendesk is partnering with knowledge base company MindTouch today to offer a social help solution for customer service agents. Now support agents using Zendesk’s customer support SaaS, can query a MindTouch-powered knowledge base for quick answers. The idea is that customer support agents can share their knowledge base with other support agents to improve service to consumers.
The crowdsourcing functionality is allows for collaborative editing, content scoring, commenting, media and video. And support tickets sent to an end user can also be republished as knowledge base articles. Within the knowledge base platform, customer service agents can search by keyword and see what articles are getting viewed the most, which articles are support agents referencing the most and which articles are being edited the most.
The new offering also has “Google Analytics for your support knowledge base,” so both agents and managers can run reports on what problems are being most searched for, which articles have lots of material changes and/or confusion, which articles have the highest ratings or most comments, which articles or subjects are the most requested in terms of new info needed, which end users are contributing the most really helpful content, which agents are pushing changes most frequently, and more.
MindTouch’s social knowledge platform adds to Zendesk’s existing Twitter integration, which allows agents to turn a Tweet into a Zendesk ticket and respond publicly to a complaint on Twitter from Zendesk’s platform.
MindTouch has powered knowledge bases for companies like Paypal, Autodesk, The Washington Post, Mozilla, HTC, HP-Palm, and Intuit. Adding a knowledge base to a customer service support platform makes sense, so the offering is sure to be popular amongst Zendesk’s 10,000 customers.

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US Upset That New Zealand Government Has Too Much Respect For Free Speech

Posted about 20 hours ago by Unknown35 joelpomales to joelpomales's posterous

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via Techdirt by Mike Masnick on 5/6/11

Following the leaked cables that showed how the US offered to help write New Zealand's new copyright laws, Chargone points us to the news that the US was equally (if not more) interested in rewriting New Zealand's anti-terrorism laws, which it believed were inadequate. Particularly galling to the US State Department? The idea that New Zealanders have a healthy respect for free speech (how dare they!):
In the post-9/11 world, one would expect that New Zealand would have an adequate law to deal with foreign as well as domestic terrorism - it does not. Critics of the TSA [Terrorism Suppression Act] say that the law was never envisaged to apply to domestic terrorism, but one wonders if it would have applied to foreign terrorists plotting much the same activities as those leaked by the press. The inherent weaknesses of the TSA underscore that the Labour Party and its minor party partners in government (many of whom are veterans of Vietnam War-era street protests) are not comfortable with legislation that in any way would undermine legitimate political expression. We hope the Law Commission, which will review the law...
Yeah. We come from the country in which we're told that the government "shall make no law," that infringes on our right to free speech... and here that same government is whining that another country has too much respect for free speech. The US ambassador seems upset that New Zealand would dare consider free speech rights to be important. It's stories like these that make the State Department's claims of supporting freedom around the globe ring pretty hollow...Permalink || Email This Story

TSA Considers Making Airport Screenings Less Annoying For "Trusted Travelers"

Posted about 19 hours ago by Unknown35 joelpomales to joelpomales's posterous

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Big Pharma Bucks Flow Into Medical Society Meetings

Posted about 18 hours ago by Unknown35 joelpomales to joelpomales's posterous

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Car Recalls for Honda Airbags Issues Expanded for Third Time: 12 Incidents, 11 Injuries and 1 Death

Posted about 16 hours ago by Mi_auto_times_thumb MI Auto Times to MI Auto Times

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Honda Motor Corp began with its series of car recalls for an airbag issue back in 2008 and has since expanded the recall three different times.
DETROIT, M.I – Car recalls have been expanded for different automakers for various reasons over the years, but most recalls don’t expand multiple times over a period of years. Honda is facing a third expansion for an airbag problem that started in November 2008.
Potential Vehicle Problem
Affected vehicles involved in the car recalls could have a potentially fatal airbag pressure issue. The driver air bag inflator may produce excessive internal pressure. This excessive pressure may cause the inflator to rupture. If this occurs, metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion material and cause injuries to any vehicle occupants.

·         In November 2008, the original recall included 3,940 of the 2001-02 Honda Accord and Civic vehicles.

·         In July 2009, the recall was expanded by another 443,000, which included 1,532 vehicles in Japan.

·         In February 2010, federal safety regulators added more vehicles to the car recalls list by an additional 437,763 vehicles.

Currently, Honda is expanding its recall to include another 833,000 vehicles stating, “We cannot be completely certain that the driver's airbag inflator in the vehicles being added to this recall at this time will perform as designed.”
The affected vehicles, which now total more than 1.71 million vehicles, include:

·         2001-02 Accord

·         2001-03 Civic

·         2002 Odyssey

·         2002-03 CR-V

·         2002-03 Acura 3.2 TL

·         2003 Acura 3.2 CL

Owners will be notified beginning on or about June 27, 2011. Dealers will inspect the vehicles included in the car recalls at no charge and replace the defective airbag inflator if needed. Any owners may contact Honda at 800-999-1009.
MI Auto Times covers all Michigan automotive news all the time, featuring newly released vehicle recall information, relevant Michigan automaker news, vehicle ratings and comparisons, and everything else auto-related Michigan and world readers need to know.
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[Source(s): USA Today, BBC News, NTHSA]

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