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A recent report named Chapel Hill as the town with the second fastest Internet in the world, but some find flaws in the evaluation.Senior Shaddi Hasan, co-founder of the Campus Y group Technology Without Borders, said that the report could be misleading.“If the University was taken out of the picture, the data would be quite different,” he said.He said that he thinks the high-speed data comes from the University’s Internet speed rather than the town of Chapel Hill’s. Sure enough, U.S. cities comprised six of the top 10 listed, and each one is the location of a well-known university. Cities in Taiwan, Great Britain and two in South Korea took the remaining four spots.Akamai, a company that handles web interactions for companies compiled “The State of the Internet” report for the fourth quarter of 2009.Broadband, defined as Internet that delivers at least 768 kilobits per second, is considered high-speed by the Federal Communications Commission. Approximately 89 percent of Orange County residents have access to broadband internet, according to a map from the planning department.The report lists the town’s average measured connection speed as 17,483 kilobits per second.“I don’t know that the city has that kind of Internet speed,” said Bob Avery, chief informational officer for the town’s business management department.“I know that our town connection for municipal purposes is not a high-speed connection.”Avery said that he does not know how the report will affect the town’s application to get Google’s free fiber-optics installment tested in the town, but he said he thinks it is still needed in the area. “If you have a business that can benefit, then the ability for people to connect to your resources and get information from them depends on high-speed connection,” he said.The top-ranked city was Berkeley, Calif., where a branch of the University of California is located.Contact the City Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Groups that have worked to increase Orange County’s participation in the 2010 Census can now celebrate.The county’s mail participation rate increased to 77 percent this year from 70 percent in 2000.The national participation rate was 71 percent as of Tuesday.The census helps determine how the federal government will distribute about $400 billion to communities.“We’re growing. The more accurately we can reflect that growth, the more money we’re going to get,” said Kevin Morgenstein Fuerst, coordinator of student enrollment for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.After more detailed results are released, groups that promoted the census expect to learn where they can improve next time. Neighborhoods with lower participation rates can be targeted in 2020.“A lot of groups were unreceptive to us,” junior Amy Dobrzynski said. She was a member of a team that competed in the Bateman Case Study Competition, in which students directed public relations campaigns for the U.S. Census Bureau.“They thought the census information would be used for homeland security and against immigrants.”Programs like Dobrzynski’s helped ensure a higher turnout.To combat misconceptions about the census, the county formed a “Complete Count Committee” that brought together different organizations to bring awareness to their constituents. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board encouraged teachers to include the census in their curriculum and sent notices home to parents to increase participation.UNC groups also came together to target college students, who move often and have a low response rate.“A lot of students weren’t aware that they needed to be counted here,” Dobrzynski said. “I think we did a good job about getting the word out about that.” Her group targeted the undergraduate population with a bar night at Players and took a similar approach with graduate students with a census trivia night at Linda’s Bar and Grill.Beginning in May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin sending employees door-to-door to collect information from households who did not mail their forms back.“Everyone will be interested in seeing the results early next year to see how well local governments, states and city planners have estimated the populations,” said Tom Altieri, comprehensive planning supervisor of the Orange County Planning Department.Contact the City Editor at email@example.com.
Peer pressure led two local doctors overseas to help with Haitian earthquake relief, but UNC alumni Pat Guiteras and Frank Tew said they wouldn’t trade their experiences.The February trip helped the doctors appreciate the lives they lead after noting how happy and hopeful the Haitians were, despite losing almost everything, they said. “I’m 67 years old and not likely to change after this,” said Guiteras, a physician at Chapel Hill Family Medicine. “It reminded me of important things which hardly need to be said, like that people are much worse off than you are.”They could not directly speak with their 30 Haitian patients, who were being treated in the Dominican Republic, due to the language barrier. But the doctors managed to dress wounds, avert major crises and connect with their patients. “Every morning patients would often inquire how we were before we started,” Guiteras said. “They weren’t just passing the time of day. They really wanted to know.”People in Chapel Hill continue to aid in the aftermath of Haiti’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Jan. 12, whether by admitting victims into hospitals or sending doctors overseas.Three such victims came to UNC Hospitals for severe burn treatment in January and have since been released.For victims who could not come to the states for aid, the doctors left on Feb. 14 for Jimani, Dominican Republic, after Guiteras’ daughter encouraged him to lend his medical training to those in need. He called his close friend Tew, a retired cardiologist. The two had met as students at UNC.Using some of their basic medical training, the doctors often spent 12 hour days in an 80-by-40 feet tent, tending to pre and post operative patients. Despite what they had lost, their Haitian patients were always trying to stay positive, Guiteras said.The Dominican Republic’s willingness to accept victims from Haiti into their country impressed the doctors.“They’re not wealthy, and yet they allowed these people to come over the border and get care,” Tew said. “I don’t know how our country would react if there was a major disaster in Mexico.” Two locals would translate Creole, one of the official languages of Haiti, into Spanish. Guiteras would then translate the Spanish into English. Despite the language barrier, the doctors were able to enjoy moments with their patients. At the nights the patients would join together and sing songs.“I recognized a few hymns in Creole,” Tew said. “You don’t need to have much to have joy in your life, and you don’t need to have anything to have hope.” Contact the City Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the James Beard Foundation Awards are the Oscars of food prizes, then two Franklin Street chefs are on the red carpet.
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt is taking action to reverse a change in health coverage that requires some employees of towns across the state to ask for abortion coverage.Kleinschmidt wrote a letter to express his dissatisfaction with a Feb. 11 change in the N.C. League of Municipalities’ CIGNA health care plan. He said requiring employees to opt in for coverage would politicize their health issues.The league is a federation of more than 530 communities across the state, and the CIGNA insurance plan is one option available to its members.Although Chapel Hill employees do not use the league’s plan, Kleinschmidt said the town should be concerned because city employees are covered by some of the league’s other insurance options.With the new policy, communities covered by the league’s health care plan do not receive insurance payments for elective abortions unless the town chooses to adopt those benefits.Previously, all elective abortions were covered under the plan.“They must now choose whether to engage this challenging issue in a political atmosphere that invites an onslaught from those who would desire to politicize reproductive health issues, or to do nothing and thereby deny their employees the benefits of comprehensive reproductive health care,” Kleinschmidt wrote in the letter.The new policy still allows coverage of abortions for medical reasons of necessity, rape or incest, regardless of whether the town adopts coverage for elective abortions.The league has made no recommendation as to whether a community should adopt elective abortion coverage.Kleinschmidt said N.C. General Assembly Rep. Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, played a role in inducing the change.Stam said he contacted several league members in January about the policy because some cities did not want elective abortion coverage.“Most towns, I’ve discovered, were even unaware they covered elective abortions,” Stam said.Kleinschmidt contended that Stam pushed the change in insurance policy as a bullying measure to get more influence.“He’s not using sound legal theory, just scare tactics,” Kleinschmidt said. “It’s wrong-headed legally and politically.”Stam said he has never used a scare tactic in his life.Kleinschmidt suggested an “opt-out” policy for the league, where towns that felt strongly that abortions should not be covered would invite that debate into their community rather than offering the same plan across the state.“While it is my hope that elected officials in the participating municipalities will choose to put the health interests of their employees ahead of their own political comfort, I fear that that will not be the case,” he said in the letter.The league should consider changing the reproductive health benefits, Kleinschmidt said.“Any time an employer seeks to provide comprehensive health care, the full scope of reproductive health care should be provided,” he said.Contact the City Editor at email@example.com.
For many Olympic athletes, the road to Vancouver started at a young age and required hours of training, because only one in the world could win the gold. That means it’s too late for most of you to compete.
Valentine’s Day evokes emotions that range from painful memories to the sickeningly sweet.In honor of the holiday of the heart, The Daily Tar Heel hit the bricks to find out what several local couples had to say about their relationships.
Shaquetta Cooper can easily recite what temperature different foods should be kept at, the distance a bathroom must be from a seating area and how bright the lights should be.Just by smelling an acidity test strip, she can tell if there’s an imbalance in a bleach cleaning mixture.At the age of 25, Cooper is the youngest of three environmental health specialists in Orange County. Cooper balances raising 7-month-old twins with monitoring the practices of local establishments.Cooper, who studied environmental science at East Carolina University, inspects restaurants, pools, schools, day cares, hotels and tattoo parlors, focusing on the town of Chapel Hill.“If health inspectors didn’t exist, a lot more people would get sick,” Cooper said.Cooper inspected the deli department of the Carrboro Harris Teeter on Friday, arriving without warning.She roamed the deli, checking every cabinet, testing the temperature of display foods and inspecting the equipment.The deli earned a 100.“If you’re not complying to health department rules, I would be nervous,” Harris Teeter store director Scott Riley said.During her inspections, Cooper said two of her biggest concerns include hand washing facilities and food temperature.“That’s where illnesses come from,” she said.She checks each hand washing station for soap, paper towels and a sign alerting employees that they must wash their hands before work and after each bathroom visit.Grades are distributed on a 100 point scale, in which a score of 69 or lower results in the department closing a place’s doors.Hand washing is worth four points — one of the highest point values.Violations that could spread foodborne illnesses hold a higher value.At the end of each inspection, Cooper reviews her findings with the owners and makes sure the health inspection grade is posted in a visible location.Cooper, who has worked as a health inspector for two years, has never given a restaurant below an 80, which would be considered a “C” grade.“You have to do a lot to get less than an A,” Cooper said. Even pest infestations are only worth two points out of 100 on the Food Service Establishment Inspection form.She once inspected a restaurant where cockroaches were crawling on customers’ plates and swimming in sanitizer.“Roaches give me the shudders. I’m always afraid I’m going to take some home,” Cooper said.She does take home special plate sanitizer, food labeling habits and sometimes words of wisdom for her own mother.“It sounds silly when I tell my mom not to thaw chicken in the sink,” she said.Contact the City Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Chelsea Smith woke up on Sept. 8, 2008, the junior never imagined she’d be withdrawn from UNC by the end of the week.That morning, she felt an inexplicable pain in her hip. The ache did not go away.The next day, Smith struggled to walk. By the end of the week, the pain had spread to her other hip and to her back. She could not get out of bed.“It felt like someone was pulling my hip out of the socket with a hot crowbar,” she said.Unable to continue with classes and campus life, Smith returned to her parent’s home in Asheville, beginning an unbearably painful six months on bed rest.“Boredom doesn’t even enter the equation; living in that much pain is like a full-time job,” Smith recalled of her half-year bed stay.Smith and her family visited doctor after doctor hoping to find an answer for the pain.Despite numerous MRIs and blood tests, none of the doctors could find anything wrong with the otherwise seemingly fit Smith. Some began questioning whether her pain was as extreme as she explained it, or even real at all.Unsure about how to help the girl with the mysterious ailment, some of the doctors told Smith not to make any plans for her life.Debra Smith, Chelsea Smith’s mother, said the ignorance of so many doctors concerned her.“I can’t imagine a medical doctor telling that to anybody, but especially a young person with their whole life in front of them,” she said.Six months later, Chelsea Smith was told by a family doctor to see physical therapist Amira Ranney. Ranney diagnosed her with hypermobility syndrome within five minutes of meeting her.“Hypermobility syndrome is a connective tissue disorder in which the ligaments and joint caps have more extensibility that what we would consider normal,” Ranney explained.Those with hypermobility are usually very flexible and can often contort their bodies in ways that normal people cannot, like bending their fingers backward.Smith quickly learned that her hypermobility had caused one of her hips to pop out of place, resting on top of the other one.Equipped with the proper diagnosis, she learned new exercises that could strengthen her muscles and received a special belt that she wears to keep her hips in alignment.Even with proper treatment, however, Smith’s daily life has changed dramatically. The pain makes it difficult for her to sit in a chair for an extended amount of time. This eliminates such activities like catching a movie with friends or attending traditional classes.“The hard part is I have to create my new normal. There’s no going back to normal. Normal is bad for my body,” Smith said.Contact the Features Editor at email@example.com.