boycott accuweather

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boycott accuweather

http://politics.slashdot.org/politics/05/04/21/2058212.shtml?tid=103&tid=187&tid=98&tid=219

accuweather wants you to start paying for nws forecasts...

um, what the $@#$ was I paying for on April 15?

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We don't need accuweather anyway. Just start posting your soccer schedule and we can plan around that.

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it should blow like heck this weekend. Games from 1-6 on Sat, 3-6 on Sun.

enjoy.

but it does make me cranky about accuweather.

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What was it Will Rodgers said? Everytime Congress makes a joke its a law, and evertime the make a law, its a joke?

Randy

What happens in a black hole stays in a black hole.

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AccuWeather petition

petition to save the National Weather Service, from giving their forcast to AccuWeather... then AccuWeather charging us again for something the taxpayers have already paid for.

http://www.ipetitions.com/campaigns/SaveTheNWS/

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MSSteve, many thanks.

part of my comment suggested that this would be like private security companies wanting the police dept to no longer respond to break-ins so they could charge you to do it. The NWS provides a public good that facilitates commerce (fishing, farming, Fedex and UPS flights being on time, etc) and secures the general public (hurricane forecasting) much like any military service.

This flies in the face of common sense and basic economics (my background is in econ).

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A fair deal is when the weather info resalers and AccuWeather pays the NWS for the info it gets. The taxpayer has already paid(in advance) for our info we get and use.

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http://news.com.com/Is+President+Bush+good+for+tech/2100-1028_3-5546604.html?tag=nefd.top

George Bush probably won't be remembered as "the high-tech president." The strongholds of the biotech and infotech industries, on the East and West Coasts, voted against him. If his State of the Union address next week, his fourth, is like the previous three, it will say next to nothing about the role of science or advanced technology in the nation's economic and social future. The symbol of Al Gore's relationship with gizmos was the early-model BlackBerry he wore on his belt. The symbol of Bush's was his tumble from a Segway computerized scooter in 2003.

Yet the Bush administration could end up being known for some technology advances that occurred on its watch. I am speaking not only of purely private developments--the renaissance of Internet-based businesses in this age of Google--or of the heavy public spending for military and surveillance systems, which is creating a vast new antiterrorism-industrial complex.

Instead, as in many chapters of American technological history, some of the most significant innovations have been made where public and private efforts touch. In its first term, the Bush team made a few important pro-technology choices. Over the next year it will signal whether it intends to stand by them.

There is a long historical background to the administration's choices, plus a variety of recent shifts and circumstances. The history stretches to the early days of the republic, and the idea that government-sponsored research in science and technology could bolster private business growth. Progress in farming, led by the land-grant universities, demonstrated this concept in the 19th century. Sputnik-era science, culminating in the work that led to the Internet, did the same in the 20th century.

In the past two decades, this old idea has been dressed up with concepts like "network economics" and "increasing return to scale." The results include the widely accepted understanding that the relationship of public science and private business is more important than ever. An environment in which the exchange of information is timely and inexpensive, rather than slow and costly, can foster the growth of many industries.

That sounds obvious. But it has political consequences. For one, it helps explain why the United States has been so fertile an incubator for tech companies, compared with most of Europe: government-sponsored information has been much cheaper here. (The United States government sells a CD set containing all weather readings taken in the last 50 years for $4,290; the German government data costs $1.5 million.) American dynamism also creates an ever-changing set of winners and losers. In fostering many new companies, the government often dislodges a few old ones; dealing with the resulting protests is each administration's problem.

During President Bill Clinton's first term, the Office of Management and Budget issued a bold new document on balancing these interests. Although it reeked of "bridge to the 21st century"-style futurism, it had actually been prepared and approved by the previous Bush administration and was released under President Clinton virtually unchanged. The document was called O.M.B. Circular A-130, and its crucial argument was that the government should distribute information as quickly, as broadly and as cheaply as possible--technically, "at no more than the cost of dissemination"--and that it should do so via the most modern channels available. Of course, that meant the Internet.

The Clinton-era information wars followed. Mead Data Central, then the owner of Nexis-Lexis, had enjoyed an exclusive contract to distribute data from Security and Exchange Commission filings, at steep prices. After a lawsuit and a change in policy, that filing data became available free, over the Internet. Struggles with other companies, with similar results, occurred in the Patent Office, the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies.

When the Bush administration arrived, it faced a choice. Should it dump the A-130 policy like other detritus of the Clinton era, sparing more companies disruption like Mead's? Or should it push ahead, because of the assumed benefit of free information to the economy?

In general, and perhaps surprisingly, it kept pushing. Compromises were struck and adjustments were made--and information with any conceivable link to the "war on terror" was locked up tight. A continuing struggle concerns when and how the results of publicly funded medical studies should be made freely available--a subject for another day. But for the most part, the federal government acted in the spirit intended by George H. W. Bush and put into effect by Clinton.

One of the most important and contentious struggles, mentioned here last spring, appears to be turning out in a way that will burnish the Bush administration's pro-tech record. This is the "fair weather" controversy. The question at its core is whether the National Weather Service, which uses taxpayer funds to collect nearly all weather readings, will be allowed to make its information available through the Internet--or instead required to sluice it all to commercial weather services, as the SEC once did with Mead.

The famous Circular A-130 argued strongly for Internet distribution, as did a special study of the question by the National Research Council in 2003. The weather service went ahead with such sites--and they have proved enormously popular. During the three months last fall when four hurricanes struck the South, weather service sites received nine billion hits--breaking a government record of six billion hits on NASA sites in the three months after the Mars rover landing last spring.

From an interest in aviation, I often visit the weather service's marvelous Aviation Digital Data Web. Without a doubt, it has saved many lives by making it easy for pilots to understand where the dangers from icing, thunderstorms and turbulence are. Last fall, the government invited public comment on the weather service's new strategy and received overwhelming support. Just after the election, the service announced that it would officially embrace an open-information policy.

But the Commercial Weather Services Association, the industry's trade group, has complained that such sites violate an agreement from the pre-Internet era. By its argument, the taxpayers should continue to pay for all the weather balloons and monitoring stations--but should not be allowed to get the results directly from government sites.

"We feel that they spend a lot of their funding and attention on duplicating products and services that already exist in the private sector," Barry Lee Myers, executive vice president of AccuWeather, says of the weather service. "And they are not spending the kind of time and effort that is needed on catastrophic issues that involve lives and property, which I think is really their true function."

He added that the weather service might have done a better, faster job of warning about the southern Asian tsunami if it had not been distracted in this way. Sen. Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, where AccuWeather is based, has supported the industry group's position. A spokesman said Santorum would introduce legislation to "help" the weather service "continue providing meteorological infrastructure, forecasts and warnings, rather than providing services already effectively provided by the private sector." In other words, taking down those Web sites that the stealth High-Tech Administration has helped create.

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Flipper, thanks for passing it along-

"We feel that they spend a lot of their funding and attention on duplicating products and services that already exist in the private sector," Barry Lee Myers, executive vice president of AccuWeather, says of the weather service.

Conversely, a lot of private services are duplicating products and services that are already free. Charging for them causes "friction" in economic terms. Friction is where transactions are not as efficient because of a lack of information or other causes (such as the time you spend preparing your taxes each year. Friction reduces the potential output of an economy, lowers the standard of living and raises prices. Other examples of friction include trade protection measures such as tariffs, which like this bill, aim to protect, in effect, subsidize an industry. Another way of putting it is "corporate welfare".

Even though this information is already freely available, Accuweather wants to lock it up and charge for it. Who benefits? Accuweather. Who pays? The other 299.9 million of us.

When Accuweather launches a network of satellites, builds it's own supercomputers and creates a nationwide network of monitoring stations, then it can have the gall to charge me for forecasts.

Again, that's why public goods are best provided by the government. Other examples include things like military, security, etc.

He added that the weather service might have done a better, faster job of warning about the southern Asian tsunami if it had not been distracted in this way.

That's crap. They didn't have anyone to call- literally. It's the Asian nations in the Indian ocean who weren't prepared.

Next, Brinks Home Security campaigns against cops on the beat...

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Anyone have a bill number for Santorum's proposal? I would like to contact my reps in Congress if this one makes it to the floor. I did some searches and here is one of the few articles from the published media:

Feds' weather information could go dark
By Robert P. King
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Do you want a seven-day weather forecast for your ZIP code? Or hour-by-hour predictions of the temperature, wind speed, humidity and chance of rain? Or weather data beamed to your cellphone?

That information is available for free from the National Weather Service.
But under a bill pending in the U.S. Senate, it might all disappear.

The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.

Supporters say the bill wouldn't hamper the weather service or the National Hurricane Center from alerting the public to hazards — in fact, it exempts forecasts meant to protect "life and property."

But critics say the bill's wording is so vague they can't tell exactly what it would ban.

"I believe I've paid for that data once. ... I don't want to have to pay for it again," said Scott Bradner, a technical consultant at Harvard University.

He says that as he reads the bill, a vast amount of federal weather data would be forced offline.

"The National Weather Service Web site would have to go away," Bradner said. "What would be permitted under this bill is not clear — it doesn't say. Even including hurricanes."

Nelson questions intention

The decision of what information to remove would be up to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez — possibly followed, in the event of legal challenges, by a federal judge.

A spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the bill threatens to push the weather service back to a "pre-Internet era" — a questionable move in light of the four hurricanes that struck the state last year. Nelson serves on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has been assigned to consider the bill.

"The weather service proved so instrumental and popular and helpful in the wake of the hurricanes. How can you make an argument that we should pull it off the Net now?" said Nelson's spokesman, Dan McLaughlin. "What are you going to do, charge hurricane victims to go online, or give them a pop-up ad?"

But Barry Myers, AccuWeather's executive vice president, said the bill would improve public safety by making the weather service devote its efforts to hurricanes, tsunamis and other dangers, rather than duplicating products already available from the private sector.

"The National Weather Service has not focused on what its core mission should be, which is protecting other people's lives and property," said Myers, whose company is based in State College, Pa. Instead, he said, "It spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year, every day, producing forecasts of 'warm and sunny.'"

Santorum made similar arguments April 14 when introducing his bill. He also said expanded federal services threaten the livelihoods of private weather companies.

"It is not an easy prospect for a business to attract advertisers, subscribers or investors when the government is providing similar products and services for free," Santorum said.

AccuWeather has been an especially vocal critic of the weather service and its parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The company has accused the federal agencies of withholding data on hurricanes and other hazards, and failing to ensure that employees don't feed upcoming forecasts to favored investors in farming and energy markets.

Weather service expands data

The rivalry intensified last year, when NOAA shelved a 1991 policy that had barred the weather agency from offering services that private industry could provide.

Also last year, the weather service began offering much of its raw data on the Internet in an easily digestible format, allowing entrepreneurs and hobbyists to write simple programs to retrieve the information. At the same time, the weather service's own Web pages have become increasingly sophisticated.

Combined, the trends threaten AccuWeather's business of providing detailed weather reports based on an array of government and private data. AccuWeather's 15,000 customers include The Palm Beach Post, which uses the company's hurricane forecast maps on its Web site, PalmBeachPost.com.

NOAA has taken no position on the bill. But Ed Johnson, the weather service's director of strategic planning and policy, said his agency is expanding its online offerings to serve the public.

"If someone claims that our core mission is just warning the public of hazardous conditions, that's really impossible unless we forecast the weather all the time," Johnson said. "You don't just plug in your clock when you want to know what time it is."

Myers argued that nearly all consumers get their weather information for free through commercial providers, including the news media, so there's little reason for the federal agency to duplicate their efforts.

"Do you really need that from the NOAA Web site?" he asked.

But some weather fans, such as Bradner, say they prefer the federal site's ad-free format.

Another supporter of the weather service's efforts, Tallahassee database analyst John Simpson, said the plethora of free data becoming available could eventually fuel a new industry of small and emerging companies that would repackage the information for public consumption. He said a similar explosion occurred in the 1990s, when corporations' federal securities filings became freely available on the Web.

Shutting off the information flow would stifle that innovation and solidify the major weather companies' hold on the market, Simpson said.

Santorum's bill also would require the weather service to provide "simultaneous and equal access" to its information.

That would prevent weather service employees from favoring some news outlets over others, which Santorum and Myers said has happened in some markets. But it also could end the common practice of giving one-on-one interviews to individual reporters who have questions about storms, droughts or other weather patterns.

"What we want is to make sure that whatever information is provided to one source is provided to all," Myers said.

But Johnson said it's importanst to answer reporters' questions so the public receives accurate information — especially when lives are at stake.

"We are not interested in turning off our telephones," Johnson said. "I would be concerned that that would actually be dangerous."

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s.786

a little googling indicates we aren't the only ones going ape over this-

http://www.google.com/search?q=rick+santorum+senate+bill+accuweather&start=0&start=0

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Today's (5/3) Atlanta Journal had a piece on AccuWeather in the @issue section, page A13. Also , in today's AJC, waste water in Lanier on page B6, and Windsurfing Mayor seeks third term on page B3.

Gene

Gene Mathis

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http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=3&tstamp=200504

It may soon be illegal for the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue non-severe weather forecasts under the provisions of the National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005, Senate Bill S.786, introduced April 14 by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.
The bill's key provision (Section 2b) states that the National Weather Service cannot provide "a product or service...that is or could be provided by the private sector", with the exception of severe weather forecasts and warnings needed to protect life and property. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez is given sole authority on how to interpret what NWS products and services should be restricted. In his comments upon introduction of the bill, Senator Santorum said the bill would boost the private weather industry by reducing unfair competition from the NWS and generate cost savings to the government, remarking, "The beauty of a highly competent private sector is that services that are not inherently involved in public safety and security can be carried out with little or no expenditure of taxpayer dollars."

Why The Weather Underground opposes the National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005

Poorer Forecasts.
It is unclear from the bill's language whether the NWS would be allowed to continue making its routine public and marine forecasts. This decision would be made by the Secretary of Commerce. I believe the expertise of the NWS forecasters is unmatched anywhere in the world, and throwing away their forecasts would be a shameful waste. Although the private weather industry can and does provide routine public and marine forecasts, the quality of these forecasts is sometimes poor and would likely worsen if the NWS ceased issuing forecasts. When I participated in forecasting contests both as a student and an instructor, I discovered that while it was difficult--but not impossible--to beat the NWS forecast, it was nearly impossible to beat the "consensus" forecast--that is, the average of everyone's forecast. Private weather industry forecasters do their own forecasting, but will usually check their forecast against what the NWS says before sending it out. If the NWS forecast differs considerably, there will frequently be an adjustment made towards the NWS forecast, resulting in a better "consensus" forecast. So, with the proposed legislation, not only would we lose the best forecasts available, but the forecasts from the private weather companies would also worsen. Many sectors of our economy depend upon good forecasts, and passage of the bill might result in a loss of millions of dollars to the economy.

Elimination of routine NWS forecasts would result in little cost savings to the government. The 24-hour staffing at NWS offices required to make severe weather forecasts would not change significantly, and these forecasters would need to be working all the time making forecasts in order to fulfill their duty to make severe weather forecasts. If the NWS has to keep their forecasting staff in place, why not continue to let them make their excellent forecasts? Ed Johnson, the weather service's director of strategic planning and policy remarked, "If someone claims that our core mission is just warning the public of hazardous conditions, that's really impossible unless we forecast the weather all the time. You don't just plug in your clock when you want to know what time it is."

Not all private industry would benefit. The Weather Underground, Inc. relies heavily on NWS forecasts and products that would likely be eliminated. Without these products, our company would likely be forced to significantly downsize. Other private weather companies are in the same situation, and smaller TV and radio stations that rely on free NWS forecasts would also suffer. And K-12 schools that rely on the ad-free weather.gov web site would be forced to eliminate some weather education offerings.

The bill primarily benefits those private weather companies with large staffs of forecasters that can make forecasts for the entire country, such as AccuWeather and the Weather Channel. Legislation like this has been pushed for many years by the Commercial Weather Services Association, led by AccuWeather, a company based in Pennsylvania. CWSA and AccuWeather managed to get almost identical bill introduced in the House in 1999.

Too much power is given to the Secretary of Commerce. The decisions on which NWS services and products unfairly compete with private industry are given to one person, the Secretary of Commerce. Leaving one politically-appointed person in charge of this decision-making is unwise. A more fair solution would be to form a committee to make the decisions.

How to oppose The National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005. The National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005 is currently before the Senate Commerce Committee, and will have to make it out of there before the full Senate votes on it. The time to kill this
or write your Senator if he or she is on the Senate Commerce Committee:

http://commerce.senate.gov/about/membership.html

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--see if you can tell were this came from?!

Pending Legislation Affecting the National Weather Service
Background

The National Weather Service (NWS) was created by an Act of Congress in 1890. Congress has been working for a decade to develop a new NWS governing policy.

Three bills are now being considered by Congress to restructure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which was created by Executive Order under President Nixon.

A bill drafted by NOAA and recently sent to Capitol Hill would create an Organic Act for NOAA and essentially dissolve the National Weather Service as a distinct agency and integrate it within NOAA, possibly as "NOAA's Weather Service," diluting its focus.

A second bill, HR 50, would also create an Organic Act for NOAA, and recognizes the National Weather Service as an agency within NOAA, but without a well-defined mission.

The third bill, S.786, introduced by Senator Santorum of Pennsylvania, would recognize and continue the National Weather Service as a distinct agency, revising and modernizing its 1890 Organic Act.

The Santorum Bill Guarantees Unfettered Public Access

Of the three pieces of legislation now before Congress, the Santorum bill is the only bill that would guarantee unfettered public access to "all data, guidance, forecasts, and warnings received, collected, created, or prepared by NOAA or NWS." (Sec.2.(c)(1))

Additionally, it would continue the current methods of distribution of this information (1) through data portals for large volume users and (2) to the public using the methods as determined by the Commerce Department under existing federal law, including the Internet, as is now the case. (Sec.2.(c)(2))

Opponents of the bill have asserted that the under the bill, control of government data and information would be shifted to the Commercial Weather Industry and that citizens would have to pay twice for the data and information. This is false.

In fact, the Santorum bill is the only bill before Congress that specifically requires the data be released to the public in real time.

Without the Santorum bill, no one can point to a specific requirement in federal law that weather information be released to the public in real time. Nothing prevents the NWS or NOAA (if NWS is absorbed into NOAA) from bottling up the information, as it has done on various occasions, releasing some information and failing or refusing to release other information.

Santorum Bill Reestablishes NWS's Previously Existing Non-Compete Policy

The Santorum bill reestablishes the NWS's own non-competition policy, which NWS has had in effect, in one form or another, for over 55 years. (Sec.2.(b))

That policy, repealed by NOAA in December 2004, has been the underlying support for the growth in the Commercial Weather Industry in the United States. That policy has led to free and widely available weather products and services for the public through all forms of media, including cable weather channels, television weather presenters, newspaper weather pages, radio weather personalities, and an explosion of private sector weather and portal web sites. It is estimated that 85 to 95 percent of the weather information reaching the public comes from the Commercial Weather Industry.

That policy is also what has led to the development of specialized weather services at reasonable prices tailored to the needs of business, industry, agriculture, transportation, emergency management, government and many other applications. These services have greatly enhanced the efficiency of weather-affected operations nationwide. It is estimated by the government that almost a third of the economy is affected by weather and the Commercial Weather Industry is the primary source relied on for weather information within that part of the economy.

In November 2004, the House and Senate, with bipartisan support, jointly adopted a position similar to S.786 in regard to non-competition in the provision of weather services. (Conference Report to H.R. 4818) The Santorum bill is also in line with the new national policy on space transportation which states that the government must "refrain from conducting activities with commercial applications that preclude, deter, or compete with U.S. commercial space transport activities..."

The Bill Requires NWS Information to be Fully Available to the Public

Some have attacked the Santorum bill with the argument that it would place control of federally collected data within the hands of the private sector and cause American citizens to have to pay twice for data, information and forecasts that the government collects and generates. This is false. The bill, for the first time in history, would legislatively require all NOAA/NWS information produced to be fully available to the public directly from the agency. (Sec.2.(c)(1))

In fact, the Santorum bill is the only bill pending that requires NOAA/NWS information to be "issued in real time, without delay, in a manner that ensures that all members of the public have opportunity for simultaneous and equal access." (Sec.2.(c)(1))

No such requirement currently exists and NOAA/NWS currently can, and sometimes does, delay and withhold information from the public and the Commercial Weather Industry, including the media. Among the information sometimes withheld are real-time snowfall accumulation reports, cooperative observer reports, hurricane reconnaissance reports, and other critical information. Withholding such information can endanger lives and property.

The Bill Provides for the Widest Possible Distribution of Information

Some have said the Santorum bill would prohibit information being made available on the Internet by government. This is false. The bill envisions the widest possible distribution and has no restriction relating to the Internet.

The Bill Causes the NWS to Focus on Its Core Mission of Saving Lives and Property

The Santorum bill requires the National Weather Service to focus on a core mission, including protection of the public through a mandated requirement of providing severe weather forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property. (Sec.2.(a)(1))

The Bill Brings the NWS in Line with Federal Requirements for Other Agencies

Lastly, the Santorum bill brings NOAA/NWS into line with the rules that apply to other federal agencies, by requiring uniform release to the nation of "any weather data, information, guidance, forecast or warning that might influence or affect the market value of any product, service, commodity, tradable, or business...," and at the same time prohibiting individual government employees from providing specialized personal or "insider" agency information to some citizens and not to others. (Sec.2.(d))

This would, for example, prohibit NWS employees from providing information, except through full, timely public release, which might influence money and market transactions. Such employees are already prohibited from investing in weather futures by Commerce Department letter policy, because of these concerns.

The interests of the public and the Commercial Weather Industry are aligned on all of these issues.
http://wwwa.accuweather.com/promotion.asp?partner=accuweather&myadc=0&traveler=0&dir=aw&page=wxinfoaccess

Today on AccuWeather.comThursday, May 5, 2005

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ABC National News (channel 2) is about to have a report about AccuWeather any minute now (Thus 5/19,7:15)

Gene

Gene Mathis

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ABC National News (channel 2) is about to have a report about AccuWeather any minute now (Thus 5/19,7:15)

Gene

Gene Mathis

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