Liberia’s Duo Sealed Deal amidst Ebola Rage

first_imgDespite the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa, including Liberia, which became the second utmost Ebola-hit country, two Liberian players successfully penned loan deals with a Jordanian first division football club, Al-Ahli Club (Ammam).According to reports, Lone Star and FC BYC’s central defender, Teah Tennis, who left the country, last July for trial, concluded a one-year loan deal, three months (September) later.In January 2015, another Liberian player, former LISCR FC hitman, Marcus McCauley, joined Al-Ahli as a free agent, in a six-month loan deal.Due to fears of Ebola, reports said the players were thoroughly examined and quarantined and subsequently made their respective line-ups.Liberia Football Association (LFA) vice president for administration Musa Shannon, who was very instrumental in their loan deals, told the Daily Observer that Teah and Marcus are positively making impacts on the team.Mr. Shannon said Teah is in the defense, while Marcus is on the frontline and has scored about three goals in at least seven matches.“Even thought the spread of the Ebola virus has had a serious impact on Liberian football with all competitive games stopped since July 27, 2014, Teah and Marcus are so far the only successfully transferred players,” Mr. Shannon said.“We must be grateful to the players for standing tall in Jordan and we’re optimistic that at the end of their loan contracts, they would be signed normal contracts,” he added.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Bacteria to the Future

first_imgBacteria used to be considered so boring, they were passed over by scientists eager to look where the action was: eukaryotic cells.  That was then.  Now, Nature reported,1 the little rods and spheres and spirals have lots of tricks up their sleeves worth investigating.  “Long dismissed as featureless, disorganized sacks, bacteria are now revealing a multitude of elegant internal structures.”  These include spiral skeletons (“sophisticated internal structures that give them shape, and help them grow and divide”) and actin-like motors that control magnetosomes (iron-containing structures) that give bacteria a sense of direction.    Until recently, bacteria appeared to have featureless interiors, even when viewed through electron microscopes.  New techniques, particularly cryo-electron tomography, are disclosing wonders that were previously invisible.  The discovery by Jeff Errington in 2001 that bacteria do indeed have a cytoskeleton was “one of those few times in a scientific career when you do an experiment that completely changes your way of thinking.”  Errington imaged filaments of tubulin wrapped around the inner wall of the cell like the stripes on a barber pole.  One theory is that the scaffolding “tells the cell wall’s enzyme contractors outside the cytoplasm where to lay new bricks” (see 01/16/2003).  The filaments and associated proteins are also involved in quality control during cell division, and help organize the magnetosomes into sensory organs.    Eukaryotic cells themselves were assumed by 19th century biologists to be featureless blobs of protoplasm.  That view, of course, changed dramatically throughout the second half of the 20th century.  History seems to be repeating itself with respect to the tinier cells that comprise the most numerous life forms on earth: “For more than a century, cell biology had been practised on ‘proper’ cells – those of the eukaryotes (a category that includes animals, plants, protists and fungi),” Ewen Callaway wrote.  “….Hundreds to thousands of times smaller than their eukaryotic cousins, and seemingly featureless, bacteria were rarely invited to the cell biology party.”  These discoveries about “simple” bacteria are helping to change that.  “We know very little,” said Dyche Mullins [UC San Francisco].  The discovery of the cytoskeleton proved that “There was a lot of organization in bacterial cells we were just missing.”  The field is just now opening up after decades of neglect.  “There’s a lot of unexplored biology,” he said – and this article didn’t even touch on the subject of the bacterial flagellum.1.  Ewen Callaway, “Cell biology: Bacteria’s new bones,” Nature 9 January 2008 | Nature 451, 124-126 (2008) | doi:10.1038/451124a.  Also published on [email protected] cognitive dissonance in this article was worth noting.  Throughout the text, scientists were admitting how little they know about bacteria – and this is with millions of the little cells right under their noses, in real time, in the present.  But then, right in the middle of the article, a just-so story was inserted about a mythical past that would be unobservable even in principle:As cytoskeletons evolved, they took on new chores and snowballed in complexity.  At some stage after eukaryotes branched off from bacteria, the eukaryote cytoskeleton seems to have frozen in time.  From yeast through to people, its proteins do many of the same jobs, such as towing sister chromosomes to opposite ends of a dividing cell or making sure the endoplasmic reticulum nestles up against the nucleus.  More complex eukaryotes might use actin to flex muscles and keratin to make hair, but those tasks are variations on a theme.    Not so with bacteria, says Mullins.  Actins that determine cell shape work differently across the bacterial world, and some rod-shaped bacteria, such as tuberculosis, don’t even have them.  Due to their vast numbers and unicellular lifestyle, “bacteria can play around with fundamental mechanisms for doing things in a way that eukaryotes can’t”, he says.This is how the Darwinians get away with calling evolution a “fact” (see next entry).  They simply declare it a fact and treat it as if it were a fact.  Those only makes sense if f.a.c.t. stands for Fictional Account Creatively Told.  It doesn’t have to actually be a fact in the old-fashioned sense.  As long as everyone is trained to think it is a fact, the Darwin Party can remain in power, the trains run on time and there is peace in the streets.    The downside is that people’s minds are enslaved to a myth and science suffers.  Did Darwinian assumptions hold back progress in bacterial biology?  Arguably so.  According to the Darwinian mindset, bacteria were just primitive, featureless blobs, till new techniques revealed what is really going on.    A design-theoretic biology might have motivated a different approach.  For an organism to be this small yet maintain all the functions necessary for life, there must be incredible nano-engineering and miniaturization going on inside those cells.  Let’s find out.  Maybe we can even learn some principles that can help us with our micro-engineering questions.  The evolutionary paradigm is revolting.  Time for a design revolution.(Visited 21 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

How Real Time Editing Apps Are Changing Video Journalism

first_imgTricks to Boost Audio RecordingImage via chombosan.As I mentioned, audio concerns were rampant. Which is understandable, since most smartphones do a good enough job for a call (or Snapchat), but when it comes to recording diverse sounds and quality, uninterrupted narration, they quickly fall short. It also didn’t help that many of the students chose subjects outside, which meant lots of wind issues and background noise that threw off their levels.While there are some tips and tricks for recording better audio, the biggest thing any video journalist needs out in the real world is a quality microphone — and knowing how to use it. I suggested attachable boom mics for the phones when recording B-roll, and lapel mics for their narration shots, but you can use a lot of different options. Companies like RØDE and other audio experts have anticipated the need for smartphone-minded gear for years, so they have some great products already on the market for exactly this type of work.Similar Apps and TechnologiesImage via Stas Walenga.Like I said earlier, Videolicious was not the only app the students were using. It was the most dominant, but many of the other students either made conscious decisions to look around or chose something similar by brands they already trusted. iMovie and Adobe Clip seemed to show some promising returns with their greater NLE-inspired editing options (but they still offered intuitive smartphone-editing workflows). A few others I saw were Splice, Videolab, and WeVideo, and after a bit more research, I found several other players in this growing field as well.Looking for more information on smartphone filmmaking? Check out these articles.What’s the Difference Between a Cheap Microphone and an Expensive One?Cinematography Tips: Using Your iPhone As a Light and Color MeterWorking With Vertical Phone Footage in Post-ProductionRode Announces the VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun MicrophoneSmartphone Filmmaking: Pro iPhone Videographer Equipment Explore the next stage in DIY video journalism with these user-friendly tools — plus some tips to maximize your smartphone videos.Cover image via Yulia Grigoryeva.Having spent several years building a career as a video journalist, I was lucky enough recently to have the opportunity to speak to a class of journalism undergrads about the state of digital reporting. However, while I showed up with my DSLR and audio recording setup, the students actually showed me a thing or two about how quickly technology is shaping digital content creation.That day, I discovered a smartphone app called Videolicious, which looks like a fully inclusive, one-stop production shop — you can shoot, record, and edit digital packages in real time. I’ll admit I was skeptical about how professional it would look — as well as how intuitive it would be for someone without an actual production background.Yet, to watch the students work with it (most of whom were still in their teens), I was amazed by how aptly they handled all the intrinsic difficulties of shooting, talking, and recording in real time. So, for those curious about what the future may hold for the industry, I did some research into the technology and tried it out over a weekend. Based on my study, here are some insights into how we all may be able to keep up.Introducing the AppImage via Videolicious.On its website, Videolicious bills itself as “automatic video creation for today’s digital business.” Which is a bit of a misnomer, since it’s not necessarily automatic — it requires several steps to use — but it is definitely intuitive and inclusive, encouraging you record all your audio and video natively and put it together in real time. Based on the students’ workflows, it seemed best to shoot B-roll shots with your smartphone for only a few seconds at a time. (The app encourages you to only use horizontal video recording). From there, you upload your shots, then flip the camera around (selfie-style) and record yourself in a news-package type of narration. From there, as you record your story, you can click on the B-roll shots you’ve already uploaded to signal when you want to cut to them, and for how long.Once you’re done recording (and happy with your take), your video has already been edited together. It may look a little janky at first (as it did when I tried it out), but you can do several quick takes in a row and iron it out. You can also go in and tweak the edits as you see fit, changing everything from transitions to audio levels — you can even add background music and intro/outro logos.The app is free to download as a light-version; however, to get full HD exporting and many of the better editing options, you have to upgrade to some sort of business account. Ideally, if you are a reporter, your station or organization will get an enterprise-level account.Smartphone Video TipsImage via jaboo2foto.So, after watching student after student show how they organically problem-solved their way through this app (and several similar ones — more on that below), it was interesting to see what creative solutions they came up with — things film and video professionals would take for granted. One girl even used a selfie stick to record her narration, which didn’t look half bad. However, there were several challenges the students came up against. (I tried my best to offer some insights and offer some helpful resources.)With smartphone filmmaking, the biggest concerns always seem to be stability, lighting, and audio. General misconceptions about what makes an interesting shot or a good composition seem to go unnoticed when you’re simply pointing and shooting. A lot of the feedback was on intentionality and finding a creative way to frame a shot to capture any necessary information yet look interesting while doing so. Concepts like the rule of thirds, depth of field, and general information on how camera movement can add elements of energy and space also seemed to be helpful.For those looking for best practices for smartphone filmmaking, here are some resources I shared that the students found helpful:Smartphone Filmmaking: Pro iPhone Videographer Equipment7 Essential Smartphone Filmmaking AccessoriesSmartphone Filmmaking: Saving Battery Life and Storage Spacelast_img read more

With Fajardo playing sparingly, Santos delivers for ‘complete’ SMB team

first_imgAgainst Globalport, though, Santos was again playing at his natural position while import Wendell McKines played at the five spot.This allowed San Miguel’s offense to spread out with Santos lurking in the perimeter and that allowed him to knock down a career-high seven three-pointers.“It’s just great that you can contribute in so many ways,” said Santos in Filipino. “Who wouldn’t be happy if they know they can help their team win in whatever way they can?”ADVERTISEMENT UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Read Next LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:02Fajardo predicts there will be no sweep in PBA Finals01:30’Excited’ Terrence Romeo out to cherish first PBA finals appearance01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. PBA IMAGESSan Miguel on Friday knew the reality that prized three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo wouldn’t be able to log in heavy minutes against Globalport. And even though Fajardo played just seven minutes and 30 seconds, all in the first half, one-time MVP Arwind Santos was there to will the Beermen to a 115-112 win over the Batang Pier for their third win in the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup.ADVERTISEMENT Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses “Our performance out there, even though we didn’t have June Mar, just shows that this San Miguel team is a complete team,” said Santos in Filipino at Smart Araneta Coliseum.Santos finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks in the victory as he reverted back to his natural power forward spot.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutREAD: San Miguel overcomes GlobalPort behind Santos’ heroicsThe 2013 MVP usually gets moved to the three spot during import conferences to accommodate the  reinforcements that play power forward while Fajardo remains at center.center_img LATEST STORIES SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief SEA Games: PH’s Alisson Perticheto tops ice skating short program WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding Caluag fails to defend BMX title, settles for bronze MOST READ LIST: Class, gov’t work suspensions during 30th SEA Games View commentslast_img read more

Chillin’: LeBron, Cavs trying to thaw from mid-season freeze

first_imgTyphoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding BI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers players, from left, LeBron James, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love, JR Smith and Jae Crowder take a break during a review in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis. James and the Cavaliers are going through their annual January freeze. It’s taking them longer to thaw this year, raising questions about whether they’re still the best team in the Eastern Conference or good enough to make their fourth straight NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — With sweat streaking down his face and into his bushy beard, LeBron James was not in a playful mood following practice.The cold stare. The pursed lips. The focus.ADVERTISEMENT This is no time for frivolity.With Cleveland in the midst of its annual January deep freeze, a troubling stretch where losing multiplies quickly into rumors, drama and even more distractions for the NBA’s most scrutinized superstar and his teammates, the Cavaliers are being questioned again.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutAnd for good reason.While they played well for more than three quarters in a loss — their ninth in 12 games — on Monday night to the defending champion Golden State Warriors, James found little to be encouraged about. Do not bring these items in SEA Games venues Asian shares slide on weak Japan data; US markets closed The three-time champion conceded that this season has been difficult.“It’s been very challenging just from the simple fact of how many guys have been in and out,” he said. “This is a difficult year for our team. Seems like I say that every year, but this one has been even more challenging. It’s been very challenging on our team. But we have to figure it out. At the end of the day, we have a game every other day or every two days just like everybody else in the NBA. We have to go out and play.”These are fascinating and frustrating days for the Cavaliers, who opened the season 5-7, ripped off 18 wins in 19 games and have gone just 3-9 since Dec. 19, losing twice in that span to the Warriors, their rivals in each of the past three Finals.Following Monday’s fourth straight loss, James said he was pleased with the team’s effort.However, the same night, some unnamed Cleveland players told several media outlets privately that there was growing concern that the Cavs’ problems might not be fixable.Coach Tyronn Lue was aware of the reports, and joked that the comments didn’t come from any players he knows.“I’ve seen where people said sources say and I look down the roster and I don’t see no guy named sources,” Lue said. “We’re going to be fine. The guys are putting in the work. The last couple of games have been very positive even though we lost, so things are going to be fine.”Things are looking better.Thomas showed flashes of his All-Star form against the Warriors, playing his most minutes (32) since his return, and his role will expand. Derrick Rose could be back as early as Thursday against Orlando after being sidelined since Nov. 7 with a severe ankle injury. And the Cavaliers are in a stretch of playing seven of nine games at home.The record should improve. Will the roster? LATEST STORIES Read Next Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMCcenter_img 8th Top Leaders Forum assessed the progress of public-private efforts in building climate and disaster resilient communities Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City “You don’t win championships … losing a game is not encouraging at all,” he said. “I liked the way we played in the first half. I liked the way we competed. But you get encouraged when you come out here and work when there ain’t nobody watching. I’m more encouraged on what we did today than I am in the game the other day.”The Cavs remain a work in progress, an incomplete picture.Maybe even a damaged one.Their aging roster, defensive deficiencies, injuries, Isaiah Thomas’ slow-and-still-uncertain comeback from a hip injury and an inability to beat the league’s elite teams have conjoined to raise doubts about whether the Cavs are still the best team in the Eastern Conference or one good enough to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals.James, who is having another MVP-caliber season, didn’t offer any excuses for the team’s recent struggles, a stretch he called a “rough patch.”ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ With the Feb. 8 trading deadline approaching, the Cavs might be able to land a top-tier player to help James if owner Dan Gilbert is willing to part with the first-round pick the team acquired from Boston in the summer trade involving Kyrie Irving. Of course, with James potentially becoming a free agent after this season, there’s major risk involved.The Cavaliers must weigh whether it’s better to make a major move now and take another championship run this season or hang onto the pick to build for the future in case James leaves.Whatever happens, Lue is confident his team will thrive.“I believe,” he said.James doesn’t seem as certain.As the speculation builds about his future, he gave an interesting response when asked if the current team has enough to win a second NBA championship.“That’s our goal and that’s what we got to work towards,” James said. “That’s what we’re here for.” Anthony, Adams lead Thunder past Lakers Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa View commentslast_img read more

World Wrestling Champion Sushil Kumar returns home to a hero welcome

first_imgIndia’s first World Wrestling Champion Sushil Kumar returned home to a hero’s welcome late on Monday night. Many people, including friends and family members of the new poster boy of Indian wrestling, gathered at the Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport to welcome him. They started celebrating as soon as Kumar came out of the airport. The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist claimed India’s maiden gold medal in the wrestling championship in Moscow on Sunday overpowering home favourite Alan Gogaev in the 66 kg freestyle category. The exciting 3-1 victory in the title bout also made Sushil the first Indian grappler to bag Olympic and World championship medals both. After his gold medal-winning feat at the World Wrestling Championship, Kumar has now set his sights on next month’s Commonwealth Games where he believes India can produce about 15 champions.last_img read more

LSU Basketball Has The No. 1 2015 Recruiting Class After Commitment Of 4-Star Brandon Sampson

first_imgLSU head basketball coach Johnny Jones had already locked up a pretty transformative 2015 recruiting class, and added to it today with the commitment of four-star shooting guard Brandon SampsonBrandon Sampson in his #LSU hat pic.twitter.com/n3hIcS6ady— Jerit Roser (@JeritRoser) April 20, 2015Sampson chose his hometown Tigers over schools like Cal, St. John’s, and USC, and joins a class that already features consensus No. 1 recruit Ben Simmons, and five-star guard Antonio Blakeney. With Sampson in the fold, LSU has jumped conference-mate Kentucky for the No. 1 class in the country. 247lsu2015Kentucky is still pursuing a few top players, so there is a chance that the Wildcats will retake the top spot by the time the classes are finalized, but this should be considered a major victory for Tiger fans either way.last_img read more

Gov’t Committed to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

first_img Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon Kamina Johnson Smith, says the Government is committed to the achievement of gender equality, equity and women’s economic empowerment. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon Kamina Johnson Smith, says the Government is committed to the achievement of gender equality, equity and women’s economic empowerment.This, she said is in keeping with national development objectives as expressed in Vision 2030 and bolstered by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).She noted that Jamaica continues to develop and implement a gender-sensitive national framework, policies and development plans and boasts the highest proportion of women managers, not only in the region but in the world, with 59 per cent of all managers being female.Senator Johnson-Smith was addressing a round-table panel discussion entitled ‘Leave No One Behind: Actions and Commitments for Women’s Economic Empowerment’ at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York recently.She said that the Government is committed to developing a society in which “no one is left behind” and will continue to champion the cause of gender equality.As such, she said, the Administration supports the full implementation of resolutions in the General Assembly and Security Council related to the advancement, peace and security of women, and in particular United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, pioneered by Jamaica during its presidency of the Security Council in 2001.She added that Jamaica has also ratified and remains committed to the implementation of several gender-related international instruments, such as the Beijing Platform for Action, International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention C087, C098 and C189 and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).Minister Johnson Smith pointed out that the country is also keen to reform legal frameworks to protect informal workers and promote the formalisation of their work in line with ILO Recommendation 204.She pointed out that a Joint Select Committee of the Parliament is also reviewing four important pieces of legislation, which address violence against women, children and other vulnerable groups, including the Sexual Offences Act and the Domestic Violence Act.She noted that the Government has employed a multisectoral approach to addressing the issue of cultural bias that stymies the advancement of gender equality, and has engaged multiple ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to contribute actively to gender mainstreaming and to the strengthening of policies and legislation.Minister Johnson Smith informed that the 27 MDAs have received the Gender Equality Certification and Seal, which highlights that these entities have created equitable working conditions for women.The panel discussion was organised by the Group of Champions for Women’s Economic Empowerment and UN Women. Senator Johnson-Smith was addressing a round-table panel discussion entitled ‘Leave No One Behind: Actions and Commitments for Women’s Economic Empowerment’ at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York recently.center_img Story Highlightslast_img read more

TMobile Sprint customers will be fine if the deals keep coming

Zing! Sprint opens ‘Twice the Price’ store next to Verizon retailer A year ago, my wife and I were still paying through the nose for two cellphone lines from Verizon Wireless that somehow consistently cracked the $200 monthly barrier. Citation: T-Mobile, Sprint customers will be fine if the deals keep coming (2018, May 6) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-t-mobile-sprint-customers-fine.html Explore further We made the switch to T-Mobile in September and quickly saw so many things for the better. We got lower rates—under $100 of unlimited calls and data with no extra fees or taxes, the ability to make free calls in Mexico, text and use data in Japan at no extra charge, and get a mobile hot spot for those times when access to Wifi just wasn’t there.The network wasn’t as great as Verizon—but my complaints were minimal. With savings like that, who cared?The proposed mega-merger of T-Mobile and Sprint meant it was time to go back to the big four wireless carriers to compare pricing, and get a real sense of deja vu.While the language may seem different, little has changed. the big two, Verizon and AT&T, continue to charge more and offer fewer benefits than scrappy No. 3 T-Mobile or No. 4 underdog Sprint.The spin on the $26 billion merger is that by combining, the wireless industry will be more competitive and the contenders can have more oomph to be ready for 5G, the next step in wireless that will be way stronger than the 4G we have today.Maybe, maybe not.But let’s take a quick look at recent history, and the consumer-friendly innovations T-Mobile sold to us:The Seattle-based company: —Lowered rates and ushered in the return of unlimited data. That’s what we had back in the early days of the smartphone revolution, only to see the carriers pull back on it when we started using it all the time. —The end of the two-year contract, and the offer to buy out your current contract to switch. —International data and texts.. T-Mobile offers the ability to make these in 140 countries at no additional charge. The speed is slower than back home, but it beats paying the average $10 a day to use your phone internationally that Verizon quoted me on a Japan trip before I switched. . —Monthly freebies, like T-Mobile’s Netflix on the house. Sprint has free Hulu and AT&T complimentary HBO. —No taxes or fees. Just the advertised rate.Sadly, rates are still sky high for all the carriers, and it’s really hard to compare their terms.In a nutshell, for one line of service with unlimited data, Sprint is the lowest at $65 monthly, followed by T-Mobile and Verizon at $70 and $75 for AT&T.It’s the add-ons and the bundles where you see the big difference.A four-person Verizon family plan goes to $160 with a free mobile hot spot, but it’s one with limited data. If you want unlimited, you need to step up to the $200 monthly plan—plus taxes and fees. Additionally, Verizon’s unlimited plan is capped—meaning if you use too much of it, Verizon will cut back on your speed.AT&T’s family plan is $180 without the hot spot, or $210 with it, plus the free HBO. AT&T will also cut back on your speed “when the network is congested,” the company says.T-Mobile charges $160 for 4 with the free hot spot, unlimited data, Netflix and free international data and textingSprint’s family plan is a bargain priced $100 for two lines, but additional lines are free and you get the free subscription to Hulu.It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to read through the plans and see which companies are giving consumers the most for their money.Mergers tend to make companies less competitive, not more so, and those sweetheart deals that got them to the bargaining table can tend to disappear.The proposed merger raises many questions. Will the two companies fight harder for your business? Will the Sprint network, traditionally the weakest, actually become competitive? And what becomes of all those thousands of retail T-Mobile and Sprint stores? Do they remain standalone, or will many shutter their doors?Either way, we know most consumers care most about one bottom line: keep the add-ons coming and prices lower, and I stand with them. ©2018 USA Today Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more