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On USENET: Now Serving Seven Billion People
October 31st, 2011

The U.N. says the world’s population will reach a milestone this Monday — 7 billion people. Since 1927, our population has soared from 2 billion to 4 billion in 1974, and 6 billion in 1999.

As stated on USENET newsgroups, officials in India predicted the baby bringing the population to 7 billion would be born Monday in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, with an estimated 200 million people. The U.N. Population Division says Monday’s date is symbolic, acknowledging it is impossible to know for sure the specific time or day when the 7 billionth person is born.

The world is adding more people in less time while the annual growth rate is slowing down — from 2.1% in the late 1960s to 1.2% today — reflecting lower birth rates. There are over two babies born every second, so the global population is forecast to hit 8 billion in about 14 years and 10 billion by the end of the century.

Can Earth support seven billion or nine billion or 10 billion people in a good life for a long time?
Thats the question that’s burning up many newsgroup discussions today. With both more people and longer lifetimes, humanity’s absolute numbers continue to rise, even though the number of children per women has halved since 1950. In fact, the absolute growth rate in human population peaked at 2.1 percent between 1965 and 1970.

The world’s richest 500 million people produce half the world’s carbon dioxide emissions—the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change—whereas the poorest three billion emit just seven percent. The average American—one of 312.5 million—uses up some 88 kilograms of stuff daily: food, water, plastics, metals and other material goods. Americans consume a full 25 percent of the world’s energy despite representing just 5 percent of global population, and the band of industrialized nations combine to waste 222 million metric tons of food per year, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

Ultimately, the limiting factor may come down to what the late economist Julian Simon called the “master resource”: energy. Simply put, is there enough energy that can be harnessed to provide a rewarding lifestyle to however many billion of us inhabit the planet? Those limits are already being pushed, as can be seen in the large increases in the price of everything from oil to food over the last decade.

As for how many people the planet can sustain, the first such estimate came from microbiologist Anton van Leeuwenhoek who calculated roughly 13.4 billion people back in 1679, based on the population density of his native Holland and its size relative to the rest of the globe. More modern guesses are hardly more scientific, ranging from one billion to one trillion.

As it is, the world produces enough food to feed everyone alive today—and more. Globally, farms produce enough calories to support a population of roughly 11 billion people fed 2,000 calories per day. That’s because human ingenuity—such as the modern breeding of staple crops, such as wheat, for higher yields, known as the Green Revolution—has outpaced, so far, environmental limits.

As it stands, the people of the planet seem to be leaning toward a peak in population followed by a gradual decline—a 21st-century world of the aged, which can be seen today in Japan or parts of Europe—but there is still a good chance of continued growth in our numbers. The U.N. had more recently predicted a leveling off at nine billion but now says we will reach the 10.1 billion figure in 2100—and potentially keep climbing as birth rates have not fallen as far or as fast as previously anticipated. If the choices we make are a little different, there could be as many as 16 billion of us by the end of this century—and that number may prove more than the planet can bear if our lifestyles don’t keep pace with our numbers.

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BBC Shutdown May See Douglas Adams Return To Newsgroups
January 25th, 2011

The Douglas Adams inspired H2G2 website is bidding farewell and saying “So long and thanks for all the fish!” as the BBC has announced it will be possibly be shutting down or selling the site alongside another 200+.

The H2G2 website had long been home to the Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy fan base which is routinely discussed on various USENET newsgroups.

Douglas Adams had been known to frequently post to the USENET newsgroup alt.fan.douglas-adams in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Now with the very possible closure the BBC website, it may be back to where he’ll be interacting with his fans.

BBC Online cuts have been in the pipeline since last summer, but come as the corporation gears up for far more sweeping job losses across the organisation in order to meet savings targets imposed following the licence fee deal negotiated with the government in October.

From BBC:
“Over the past year all areas of the site have been reviewed to see where, and if, they fit. Sadly … H2G2 does not fit in the new shape of BBC Online. However, H2G2 is unusual. It is a pre-existing community that the BBC brought into its fold, not a community that the BBC set up from scratch. So rather than closing it, we’ve decided to explore another option. This process has been referred to elsewhere as the “disposal” of H2G2. I’ll admit this is not a great choice of words, but what is means is that we’ll be looking for proposals from others to take on the running of H2G2.”

The BBc’s plan to close the websites are part of its cost cutting measurements in order to provide 20% saving due to the licence fee settlement.

There will be fewer news blogs while standalone forums, communities and message-boards will be reduced and replaced with integrated social tools.

There will also be a reduction in the overall amount of sports news, live sport and showbusiness news, but also more culture and arts coverage on the news website.

As the BBC sites begin to close down, it may push many users to find and discuss information on BBC programming on the many newsgroups related to the network. Whatever happens, we urge Hitchhiker fans to remember one thing:

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Music Newsgroups Report On Labels Price-Fixing Case
January 13th, 2010

music-label-price-fixing-newsgroupMusic related newsgroups report that a New York court today reinstated an antitrust lawsuit against music giants EMI, Sony, Universal and Warder for illegal price fixing on digital music. The same newsgroups report that the judge said there was evidence that “plausibly suggest” that the labels keep the prices artificially high through collusion.

Newsgroups point out that the case was filed on behalf of people who download music online. The court case accused the music label defendants of conspiring to fix prices and limit the availability of downloaded music in violation of the Sherman Act; a federal antitrust law.

The case was originally put aside for dismissal in October 2008. With evidence supplied by a still forming class action lawsuit, it provides proof that the labels conspired to fix prices by creating joint ventures for distributing songs — MusicNet, launched by Bertelsmann, EMI and Warner Music; and pressplay, launched by Sony and Vivendi’s Universal Music Group — and the entering of restrictive license agreements.

Originally, the lawsuit raised concern and accusations that these major record labels were using early deals and licensing agreements to artificially create an inflated raw cost of 70 cents per track that was then enforced at deals with other stores. Labels defend themselves stating that the shift was necessary to spur demand for their back catalog and to generate more profit from their most recent music.

With the current ruling, the original plaintiffs have more time to organize a larger class action lawsuit against the labels and further raising funding to afford the inevitable long drawn out legal fees that this involves. Many on music newsgroups find this to be a victory for online music store subscribers after a long history of suspicion has hung over the labels for various types of price fixings.

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ThunderNews extends USENET Status Updates to Social Networks
December 11th, 2009

ThunderNews.com, a leading provider of Usenet, has announced today that it will extend its services updates to include Facebook and Twitter. The two social networks will provide an additional channel to communicate to members as well as offer real-time updates.

These social network channels will solely be used to announce and follow up on general service upgrades and features.  For all other means of support, we encourage all ThunderNews members to utilize our 24/7 customer support section.

For years, ThunderNews.com has provided lightning fast USENET access to both the US and EU regions. ThunderNews.com is a leader in being a reliable USENET access provider with outstanding retention to over 100,000 newsgroups supported. ThunderNews is one of the few USENET providers who have extended service to the social network world.

“The core of our business is our excellent customer service. We believe we can help serve more of our members by providing another way for our members to get updates on our services through social networks. “ said Alexander Stewart, Communications Manager for ThunderNews.com.

You can follow ThunderNews on Facebook and/or follow ThunderNews on Twitter. These social networks will keep you in touch with what’s going on with current and future upgrades and notifications.

Do you have another social network that you think ThunderNews.com should consider? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Remembering September 11, 2001
September 11th, 2009

Today, many in the United States are noting and remembering the events that shaped September 11th, 2001 in the minds of countless people.

When the Twin Towers were hit and started to come down, so did the range of questions that came with it. The internet was almost at a halt with as much traffic it was receiving. Many had a hard time getting information other than what was being broadcast on traditional mediums.

Land line and cell phones became jammed. It seemed like getting information from anywhere from the vicinity required a great deal of luck.

However, if you belonged to any major newsgroup, you had a copy of everything that was being discussed online. From top stories to the latest updates from local and federal governments, newsgroups served as a seeing eye while many on the internet were kept in the dark.

USENET newsgroups also provided a forum for the many that live, lived and had those that lived in the area. Some of these newsgroups formed to feed the public as much information as possible about what was known and the areas that were affected.

In a time where we set to remember the bad events that occured that day in New York, it also reminds us of one of the defining moments of the USENET community. Coming together, it exploded and provded many with valuable information when it was needed.

Differences aside, it helped define the spirit of the country.

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