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Ask Amy: Can I get money back for internet services that are not working right now?

Restoring Internet Connectivity After Hurricane Beryl: A Comprehensive Guide

As power is gradually restored to homes and businesses across the region, many residents are still grappling with a persistent challenge: the lack of reliable internet connectivity. With AT&T and Comcast Xfinity customer service lines overwhelmed, customers are left seeking answers about the causes of these outages and what can be done to address them.

Unraveling the Complexities of Post-Storm Internet Outages

Damage to Infrastructure: The Culprit Behind Prolonged Outages

While the initial loss of power during Hurricane Beryl was the primary driver of internet outages, the restoration of electricity does not necessarily mean a swift return to online connectivity. The issue lies in the interconnected nature of utility infrastructure, where damage to one system can have a cascading effect on others.Comcast Xfinity has revealed that in the immediate aftermath of the storm, approximately 975,000 of their customers lost cable and internet service. In many cases, this was directly linked to the loss of power, as the cable and fiber optic lines that deliver internet services are often co-located with the electrical grid.However, the challenge extends beyond just power restoration. In areas where electric lines were damaged and not buried underground, there is a high likelihood that the accompanying cable and fiber optic lines were also impacted. This means that even after CenterPoint has restored power, Xfinity crews must now undertake the arduous task of repairing the damaged fiber optic infrastructure.

The Scope of the Outage: Quantifying the Impact

Comcast Xfinity has provided a detailed update on the current state of internet connectivity in the Houston area. They have managed to restore service to approximately 355,000 customers, but a significant portion of their customer base, around 620,000 individuals, still remain without internet access.To address this issue, Xfinity has deployed a sizable workforce, with around 700 technicians working in the field to make the necessary repairs. However, the sheer scale of the damage and the complexity of the infrastructure involved have made the restoration process a challenging and time-consuming endeavor.AT&T, another major internet service provider in the region, has been less forthcoming about the specific number of customers affected by the outages. However, they have assured the public that they are working diligently to restore service as quickly as possible.

Seeking Compensation: Navigating the Credit Process

As customers grapple with the inconvenience and disruption caused by the prolonged internet outages, many are understandably seeking financial compensation from their service providers. While the cable and internet companies may be reluctant to issue wholesale credits, there are avenues for individual customers to pursue.According to investigative reporter Amy Davis, customers can request credits for the days they were without internet service once their connectivity is restored. Davis herself successfully obtained a $9.68 credit from Xfinity for the days she was without service following a previous storm.The process is relatively straightforward: customers can contact their service providers, either online or through customer service channels, and request credits for the duration of their outage. It's important to note that these credits are typically granted on a case-by-case basis, and the amount may vary depending on the length of the outage and the provider's policies.In addition to internet service credits, customers may also be able to seek compensation from their cellular providers if their mobile service was disrupted during the storm. Some providers, such as Verizon, have proactively waived call, data, and texting fees for customers in the Beryl-affected counties during the recovery period.

Accessing Alternative Connectivity Options

While the primary internet service providers work to restore their networks, some temporary solutions are available to help residents stay connected. AT&T has set up a mobile connectivity center where customers can access free Wi-Fi, and they have also opened seven stores in the area where people can charge their devices.These alternative options can provide a crucial lifeline for individuals and businesses that rely on internet access for work, education, or essential communication. By leveraging these temporary resources, residents can maintain some level of connectivity until their regular service is fully restored.As the recovery efforts continue, it's essential for customers to stay informed, proactive, and persistent in their pursuit of solutions. By understanding the underlying causes of the outages, the scope of the impact, and the available avenues for compensation and alternative connectivity, residents can navigate this challenging situation with greater confidence and resilience.

Several businesses and first responders in Suwanee County helped raise money for a woman recovering in the hospital

Community Rallies to Support Injured Resident's Recovery

In Suwannee County, Florida, a remarkable display of community spirit and compassion has emerged as local businesses, first responders, and volunteers come together to support one of their own. Janna Roberts, a resident of Branford, was recently injured in a farming accident, and her fellow community members have mobilized to ensure she receives the care and assistance she needs during her recovery.

Neighbors Uniting to Lift Up a Community Member in Need

Businesses and First Responders Join Forces

The story of Janna's recovery has touched the hearts of many in the Branford community. Employees from local businesses, including Love Inc. and Simply Sarah's Lemonade, have stepped up to lend a helping hand. Crews from the Suwannee County Fire Rescue and deputies from the Suwannee County Sheriff's Office have also joined the effort, working together to sell nearly 400 lunches to raise funds for Janna's medical expenses.This outpouring of support reflects the tight-knit nature of the Branford community. Residents have rallied around Janna, recognizing the importance of coming together to support one another in times of need. The volunteers involved in the fundraising efforts have expressed their gratitude for the overwhelming response, underscoring the community's commitment to ensuring Janna's full recovery.

A Community's Resilience Shines Through

The incident that led to Janna's injury serves as a sobering reminder of the inherent risks associated with agricultural work. Farming, a vital industry in the region, can be a dangerous occupation, and accidents can have devastating consequences for individuals and their families. However, the community's response to Janna's situation demonstrates the resilience and compassion that can emerge in the face of adversity.By pooling their resources and coming together to support Janna, the residents of Branford have shown the power of community-driven initiatives. This collective effort not only provides financial assistance to Janna but also serves as a testament to the strength and unity of the local community. As Janna continues her recovery journey, she can take solace in the knowledge that her neighbors are standing by her side, ready to lend their support and ensure her well-being.

A Shared Responsibility to Care for One Another

The story of Janna's recovery highlights the importance of fostering a culture of mutual support and care within a community. When one member of the community faces a challenge, it becomes the responsibility of the entire community to rally behind them and provide the necessary assistance. This sense of shared responsibility is what sets Branford apart, as its residents have demonstrated their willingness to go above and beyond to support their own.As the community continues to rally around Janna, the lessons learned from this experience can serve as a model for other communities facing similar challenges. By cultivating a spirit of compassion and a commitment to collective well-being, communities can empower themselves to overcome obstacles and ensure that no one is left behind. The story of Janna's recovery is a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives and the transformative impact they can have on the lives of those in need.

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ASCAP Launches 2024 ASCAP Citizen Campaign to Empower Music Creators

Empowering Music Creators: ASCAP's Citizen Campaign Mobilizes Voters for the 2024 Elections

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has announced the launch of the 2024 ASCAP Citizen campaign, a collaborative effort with the nonpartisan voter registration organization HeadCount. This initiative aims to motivate ASCAP's over one million members and their communities to participate in the upcoming elections, emphasizing the crucial role of policy decisions in shaping the livelihoods of music creators.

Amplifying the Voices of Music Creators in the Democratic Process

Protecting Creators' Rights and Addressing AI Regulation

With the ongoing congressional debate on artificial intelligence regulation, the 2024 ASCAP Citizen campaign underscores the importance of music creators engaging in the democratic process. Policy decisions, whether related to copyright law or new AI regulations, have a direct impact on the livelihoods of ASCAP's members. By mobilizing their community to vote, ASCAP seeks to ensure that policymakers recognize the significance of music creators' voices and their role in shaping the industry's future.The campaign features a powerful video showcasing ASCAP members, including Leon Thomas, Madison Love, Jimmy Jam, and Marcus Miller, who emphasize the necessity for music creators to participate in the democratic process. This message serves as a call to action, urging policymakers to listen not only to the songs of ASCAP's members but also to their concerns and priorities as active citizens.

Grassroots Voter Registration and Mobilization

The ASCAP Citizen campaign will leverage the organization's extensive social media channels to educate and inspire its members and their communities about the importance of voting. Personal messages from ASCAP creators across various genres, including Olivia Rodrigo, Alicia Keys, and Kehlani, will amplify the "get out the vote" message, further emphasizing the collective power of music creators as engaged citizens.In addition to the digital campaign, ASCAP Citizen will focus on grassroots voter registration mobilization throughout the summer and fall, leading up to Election Day. This effort will include early voting initiatives, such as partnering with National Voter Registration Day on September 17th and promoting Vote Early Day on October 29th.

Empowering Music Creators as Advocates for Change

"Whether it is protecting creators' rights through copyright law or new artificial intelligence regulations, policy directly impacts our members' livelihoods. It's vital for music creators to stay engaged with democracy, and that starts with voting," explained ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. This sentiment underscores the campaign's core objective: to empower music creators to become active advocates for the issues that matter most to their profession and their communities.By partnering with HeadCount, a respected nonpartisan voter registration organization, ASCAP Citizen aims to leverage the power of music to bring people together and amplify the collective voice of music creators. "We're thrilled to continue our partnership with ASCAP to empower music creators and their communities to vote in the upcoming elections," said Lucille Wenegieme, Executive Director of HeadCount. "ASCAP Citizen embraces music's power to bring people together – and music creators' power as advocates for making our voices heard."As the 2024 elections approach, the ASCAP Citizen campaign stands as a testament to the music industry's commitment to civic engagement and the recognition that the decisions made by policymakers have a profound impact on the livelihoods of those who shape the soundscape of our culture.

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The Untold Story: Sean Combs, Vibe Magazine, and the Feathered Wings Controversy

In a captivating account, a former Vibe magazine editor-in-chief recounts a professional encounter with Sean "Puffy" Combs that left a lasting impact. Unlike the allegations that have surrounded Combs in recent years, this incident was not of a sexual nature, but rather a demonstration of the power dynamics that existed in the music industry during its heyday. The article delves into the intricate relationship between Combs and the writer, their professional collaboration, and the unexpected turn of events that unfolded during a photoshoot for the magazine's cover.

Unveiling the Untold Narrative: A Revealing Glimpse into the Music Industry's Bygone Era

The Vibe Magazine Takeover and the Changing Tides of Hip-Hop

In the fading aftermath of the tragic deaths of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., the writer was appointed as the editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine, a publication that had been chronicling Black music and culture with unwavering dedication since its inception in 1992. The magazine's mission was to not only keep the vibrant spirit of hip-hop alive but also to grant it the cultural recognition it deserved. As the industry grappled with the loss of its iconic figures, Vibe found itself at the forefront of a pivotal moment, navigating the delicate balance between mourning and the relentless pursuit of commercial success.

Combs, the Personification of Hip-Hop's Dichotomy

At the heart of this dichotomy stood Sean "Puffy" Combs, the creative partner and label boss of the late Notorious B.I.G. Combs's Bad Boy Records was experiencing a remarkable $100 million year, largely due to the work of Biggie, Mase, and Combs's own debut album, "No Way Out." The album's blockbuster single, "I'll Be Missing You," featuring Faith Evans, served as a poignant tribute to the fallen rapper, while other hits like "It's All About the Benjamins" and "Been Around the World" captured the commercial evolution and international expansion of the hip-hop genre. Recognizing the significance of this moment, the writer sought to feature Combs on the cover of Vibe's December 1997/January 1998 double issue, with a unique twist – they wanted him to don a pair of white feathered wings.

The Photoshoot: Navigating the Complexities of Power Dynamics

The photoshoot took place in Manhattan in September 1997, and it was the first time the writer had spent an extended period with Combs. The set was either crowded or the writer simply felt claustrophobic, leading them to wear yoga pants and an oversized T-shirt, hoping to minimize their physical presence. As a Black woman in a male-dominated industry, the writer was acutely aware of the precarious position they occupied – to fail would reinforce the low expectations of their male superiors, while to succeed would invite their resentment. Combs, initially begrudgingly compliant, eventually shrugged on the white feathered wings, setting the stage for a captivating and potentially controversial cover.

The Aftermath: A Lasting Impact and Forgotten Memories

The writer's recollection of the photoshoot and the subsequent events that unfolded is both vivid and haunting. They recount a sense of fear for their life, an experience that "broke their brain" and led them to forget the worst of it for 27 years. The article delves into the insidious nature of the encounter, leaving the reader to ponder the complexities and power dynamics that permeated the music industry during that era. The writer's account serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges and risks faced by those who dared to navigate the treacherous waters of the industry, where the pursuit of success and recognition could come at a heavy personal cost.

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Secondhand e-cigarette aerosols expose kids to less nicotine than cigarettes, study finds

Protecting Children from Secondhand Vape Exposure: A Comprehensive Approach

A groundbreaking study has shed light on the impact of secondhand vape exposure on children, revealing that while e-cigarettes may be a safer alternative for adult users, they still pose significant risks to the health and development of young, vulnerable lungs. The findings underscore the critical need for comprehensive measures to safeguard children from the potential harms of secondhand vape aerosols.

Safeguarding the Next Generation: The Urgent Call to Action

Nicotine Exposure: A Concerning Reality

The study, published in the prestigious JAMA Network Open, examined the lives of 1,777 children and found that those living in homes where adults use e-cigarettes are exposed to significantly less nicotine through secondhand aerosols compared to children in homes where adults smoke traditional cigarettes. However, this does not negate the fact that vaping still exposes kids to nicotine, a highly addictive substance that can have detrimental effects on their developing brains and bodies.

Harm Reduction vs. Harm Removal: The Crucial Distinction

While vaping has been promoted as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, the study's findings highlight a crucial distinction: harm reduction for the user does not necessarily equate to harm removal for those around them, particularly vulnerable children. The researchers emphasize that the only way to ensure children remain completely nicotine-free is to abstain from any form of smoking or vaping in their presence.

Exploring the Potential Risks of Secondhand Vape Exposure

The study's authors note that even though nicotine itself may have a limited risk profile, the increased absorption of nicotine from secondhand vape exposure suggests that children may also be exposed to other potentially harmful excipients and compounds found in e-cigarette aerosols. The long-term effects of these exposures on children's health and development remain largely unknown, underscoring the need for further research and a precautionary approach.

Lessons from Secondhand Smoke: A Cautionary Tale

The study's findings echo the lessons learned from the devastating impact of secondhand smoke exposure, which took years to fully understand. Experts like Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonologist and volunteer medical spokesperson for the American Lung Association, have treated an entire generation of individuals who developed serious health issues, including cancer and lung problems, not because they smoked themselves, but because they grew up in homes with adults who did.

Protecting the Vulnerable: A Call to Action for Responsible Vaping

The study's authors and other experts in the field are unequivocal in their message: vaping inside the home around children should be avoided. Dr. Terry Gordon, a professor at NYU's Langone Health, emphasizes that while e-cigarettes may be safer for primary users, no one is ready to declare them completely safe, especially for those exposed to the secondhand aerosols. The time has come for vapers to prioritize the health and well-being of children, recognizing that their lungs are still developing and that the long-term consequences of secondhand vape exposure remain largely unknown.

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Fostering Community Connections: Mecklenburg County's Youth Fishing Adventure

In a heartwarming display of community engagement, the youth of Mecklenburg County are set to embark on a day of fishing and outdoor fun at McAlpine Creek Park. This event, organized by local authorities, aims to bridge the gap between young residents and emergency service providers, fostering a sense of trust and understanding.

Unlocking the Power of Shared Experiences

Building Bridges Through Recreational Activities

The upcoming event at McAlpine Creek Park represents a unique opportunity for the youth of Mecklenburg County to engage with local law enforcement and emergency response teams in a relaxed and enjoyable setting. By participating in a shared activity like fishing, young residents can interact with these authority figures in a more casual and approachable manner, breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of community.This initiative recognizes the importance of creating positive interactions between youth and public service providers. Through shared experiences and open dialogue, both parties can gain a deeper understanding of each other's perspectives, ultimately strengthening the bonds within the community.

Promoting Outdoor Exploration and Environmental Stewardship

Beyond the social benefits, the fishing event at McAlpine Creek Park also serves as an opportunity to encourage outdoor exploration and environmental stewardship among the youth. By engaging in hands-on activities like fishing, young participants can develop a greater appreciation for the natural world and the importance of preserving and protecting local ecosystems.This experience can inspire a lifelong passion for the outdoors, leading to a deeper understanding of the delicate balance between human activities and the environment. As the next generation of community leaders, these young individuals can carry this environmental awareness forward, becoming active stewards of their local resources.

Fostering Positive Relationships and Healthy Lifestyles

The fishing event at McAlpine Creek Park also serves as a platform to promote healthy lifestyles and positive relationships among the youth. Engaging in outdoor recreational activities can have numerous physical and mental health benefits, from improved cardiovascular fitness to reduced stress and anxiety.Moreover, the collaborative nature of the event encourages the development of social skills, teamwork, and communication. As young participants work together to master the art of fishing, they can build meaningful connections with their peers and the emergency service providers present, fostering a sense of camaraderie and trust.

Empowering Youth Through Skill-Building and Mentorship

The fishing event at McAlpine Creek Park also presents an opportunity for the youth to learn new skills and receive guidance from experienced mentors. The presence of law enforcement and emergency response teams can provide valuable insights and instruction on fishing techniques, outdoor safety, and environmental conservation.This mentorship component can inspire the young participants to explore new hobbies and interests, potentially leading to the discovery of hidden talents or the development of lifelong passions. By empowering the youth with practical skills and knowledge, the event can foster a sense of confidence and self-reliance, preparing them for future challenges and opportunities.

Strengthening Community Resilience and Engagement

The fishing event at McAlpine Creek Park is not just about a day of fun and recreation; it is a strategic initiative to strengthen the overall resilience and engagement of the Mecklenburg County community. By bringing together young residents and public service providers in a positive and inclusive setting, the event can help to build trust, foster understanding, and promote a sense of shared responsibility for the well-being of the community.As the youth of Mecklenburg County engage with local authorities and explore the natural wonders of their surroundings, they can develop a deeper appreciation for the role that emergency services and environmental stewardship play in maintaining a thriving and vibrant community. This experience can inspire them to become active participants in their community, volunteering, advocating, and contributing to the betterment of their local area.

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