Saturday, November 05, 2005

News Corp. May Form Internet Company

A Reuters newswire article, via eWeek, reports that:

Rupert Murdoch said News Corp. may form a new company with partners to allow the media giant to enter the U.S. high-speed Internet market, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

"Here (in the United States), we don't know," Murdoch told the newspaper. "We may be forming a company with partners to build something out here that would give you broadband."

News Corp., which controls top U.S. satellite TV service DirecTV Group Inc., does not currently offer high-speed Internet service.

The FBI's Secret Scrutiny of Ordinary Americans

Barton Gellman writes in The Washington Post:

The FBI came calling in Windsor, Conn., this summer with a document marked for delivery by hand. On Matianuk Avenue, across from the tennis courts, two special agents found their man. They gave George Christian the letter, which warned him to tell no one, ever, what it said.

Under the shield and stars of the FBI crest, the letter directed Christian to surrender "all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person" who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away. Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software he operates said their databases can reveal the Web sites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow

Christian refused to hand over those records, and his employer, Library Connection Inc., filed suit for the right to protest the FBI demand in public. The Washington Post established their identities -- still under seal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit -- by comparing unsealed portions of the file with public records and information gleaned from people who had no knowledge of the FBI demand.

The Connecticut case affords a rare glimpse of an exponentially growing practice of domestic surveillance under the USA Patriot Act, which marked its fourth anniversary on Oct. 26. "National security letters," created in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, originated as narrow exceptions in consumer privacy law, enabling the FBI to review in secret the customer records of suspected foreign agents. The Patriot Act, and Bush administration guidelines for its use, transformed those letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.

Homebrew Computer Club's 30th Anniversary Celebrated

Daniel Terdimen writes in C|Net News:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF.--If you've never seen a couple hundred bona-fide geeks sitting on the edge of their seats with excitement, you should have been on hand Saturday for an appreciation of the 30th anniversary of the Homebrew Computer Club.

The celebration, which was part of Vintage Computer Festival at the Computer History Museum here, was a love-fest for several mavericks of technology. And amidst tales of building some of the world's first personal computers, the adoring audience of Silicon Valley elders got to hear a series of nostalgic stories about the history of one of the most influential computer users' groups of all time.

'Intelligent Design' Trial Wraps Up

An AP/CBS news article, via CBS News, reports that:

A lawyer for eight families urged a federal judge on Friday to overturn a policy that requires the discussion of "intelligent design" in biology classes, saying it improperly promotes religion in schools.

A lawyer for the school board defended the policy, explaining that it was intended to call attention to a new "science movement."

The families' attorney, Eric Rothschild, said the concept promotes the Bible's view of creation with its belief that evolution cannot fully explain the origin of life or the emergence of highly complex life forms.

Academics Take Sides in ICANN Tug of War

Gene J. Koprowski writes in eWeek:

The quest for political control over the Internet continues, as the U.N.'s World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia on Nov. 16 approaches.

This week, a group of academics suggested that there be a "denationalization" of ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the organization responsible for running the Internet under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

But some law and public policy experts told Ziff Davis Internet that foreign calls for "denationalization" of the Internet are off the mark, and that stewardship of ICANN should remain with the United States.

The academics, all members of a group calling itself the Internet Governance Project, produced a policy concept paper [.pdf] this week that suggests what they term "neutral" ways to handle the issue of Internet governance.

Microsoft's AntiSpyware Rebranded 'Windows Defender'

Ryan Naraine writes in eWeek:

Microsoft Corp.'s Windows AntiSpyware technology has been renamed "Windows Defender" and has been expanded to detect and remove rootkits, keystroke loggers and other forms of malware.

The revamped application will be bundled into the Windows Vista operating system, but users will be free to choose a competing spyware protection product from a redesigned Windows Security Center.

Four Indicted in Case of Technology Smuggling

An AP newswire article, via The New York Times, reports that:

An engineer, a Chinese television director and their wives were indicted on charges of stealing secret documents on American Navy warship technology and trying to smuggle them to China, prosecutors said.

The engineer, Chi Mak, a naturalized American citizen from China, was ordered held without bail on Monday, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the United States attorney's office. Also arrested were Mr. Mak's wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu; his brother, Tai Wang Mak; and his sister-in-law, Fuk Heung Li.

The four face charges of stealing government property, aiding and abetting, transportation of stolen goods, and conspiracy, Mr. Mrozek said.

Ms. Chiu, an American of Chinese descent, was in court on Friday. Her bail was set at $300,000, Mr. Mrozek said. She remains in jail. Bail hearings for Tai Wang Mak, a Chinese citizen and legal resident of the United States, and his wife, a legal resident from China, are scheduled for Nov. 7.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Westchester County (NY) Proposes Law to Enforce Wi-Fi Security

Michael Myser writes in eWeek:

A public official in Westchester County, some 30 miles north of New York, has proposed legislation that would require businesses that collect customer information to apply basic security like firewalls when also offering wireless access to consumers.

The proposed law, which the county said is the first of its kind in the United States, aims to ensure that local businesses have corporate security enabled and to cut down on identity theft in the area.

FAA telecom overhaul knocks out radar at O'Hare

Aliya Sternstein writes in

A radar outage this week at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago was a result of the Federal Aviation Administration’s transition to a new telecommunications provider, FAA technicians said today.

The disruption marks the latest kink in the FAA’s costly, delayed telecommunications overhaul, known as the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) program.

Mike Lynn goes to work for Juniper

I already knew this, but was waiting for it to "go public" before mentioning it. ;-)

Having said that, Paul F. Roberts writes in eWeek:

Michael Lynn, the security researcher who made international headlines in July for blowing the whistle about a major hole in Cisco Systems Inc.'s software, has found employment at Cisco's chief rival, Juniper Networks Inc.

A Juniper spokesman confirmed that Lynn works for the Sunnyvale, California, networking equipment maker, three months after he lost his job as a researcher at Internet Security Systems Inc. when he disregarded company requests to spike a presentation at the Black Hat Briefings Conference in Las Vegas about vulnerability in Cisco's IOS (Internetwork Operating System).

Google briefly unavailable last night

Sam Varghese writes in The Sydney Morning Herald:

Google spokesman in Australia, Scott Rowe, said a small fraction of Google users on the US west coast may have had trouble accessing for a short period of time late last night due to a piece of malfunctioning network hardware.

"Within minutes, service was fully restored to all affected users. At no point was down and no other Google services were affected," Rowe said.

More on Sony: Dangerous Decloaking Patch, EULAs and Phoning Home

The Sony Rootkit-Gate saga just gets better and better.

Mark Russinovich is at it again, over on the SysInternals Blog:

My posting Monday on Sony’s use of a rootkit as part of their Digital Rights Management (DRM) generated an outcry that’s reached the mainstream media. As of this morning the story is being covered in newspapers and media sites around the world including USA Today and the BBC. This is the case of the blogosphere having an impact, at least for the moment.

But, there’s more to the story, like how Sony’s patch can lead to a crashed system and data loss and how Sony is still making users jump through hoops to get an uninstaller. At the core of this story, however, is the issue of what disclosure should be required of software End User License Agreements (EULAs) and how the requirements can be made Federal law.

xMax: A 1000 times more efficient than WiMax?

GolygyddMax writes over on Slashdot:

Techworld reports that a Florida-based start-up, xG, has developed a technology that's a 1000 times more efficient than WiMax and which could, in theory, lead to wireless LANs being powered by watch batteries.

It is still in early development, but this technology could allow anyone to set up as an ISP. This could kill WiMax before it even gets off the ground.

How the MPAA killed the movie theater experience

I was just reading a note in PoliTech from a Toronto journalist, James Reid, who explains his experience with the Gestapo-style tactics used by the film industry at a recent screening of a film he was invited to attend by his girlfriend (another Toronto journalist). And I have to tell ya, Hollywood is is getting way out of hand.

If there is any question in the minds of the doubtful regarding how the MPAA and other film industry strong-arm organizations have lost touch with reality, please read this.

Not only were they searched before entering the theater (women's purses, as well as metal detection wand body scan), a couple of security guards intimidated the audience during the entire screening with video cameras, obviously intending to remind them that they were being watched for "criminal behavior".

This is getting waaaaaay out of hand....

And they wonder why theater ticket sales are declining?

Amazon's Mechanical Turk

Actually, this is rather interesting, I tried it out for a little while this morning, but had to get back to doing some semi-"real" work. :-)

Ron Hof writes in the BusinessWeek Tech Beat Blog: is quietly testing another interesting innovation, this time tapping into the Power of Us. The cheeky geeks there call it the Mechanical Turk, after an 18th century hoax, a mannequin that appeared to play chess. Visit the site, and you can complete little tasks offered up by Amazon and potentially its partners and get paid a few cents for them. For example, you can click on a request to decide which of several photos in a Yellow Pages listing on Amazon's A9 search site best illustrates that particular business. Then you get 3 cents added to your Amazon account, where you can transfer it to your checking account.

You sure won't get rich doing this, but it could have great potential for tapping into the wisdom of crowds for things like photo selection or product descriptions that just can't be automated. Commenters at explore some of the implications, some calling it slave labor and others saying they find it strangely addictive. Said one: "It's so lame, and yet, I can't stop doing it! AAAAHHHHH!!!"

Amazon may be onto something here.

H5N1 News: New bird flu outbreaks in Vietnam and China

Gaia Vince writes in NewScientist:

Vietnam and China have reported new outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu. In Japan, the authorities are to cull 180,000 chickens after discovering the first case of bird flu there in over a year.

In northern Vietnam's Bac Giang province, 4000 poultry and water fowl have died in fresh outbreaks of bird flu, an animal health official said on Friday. The birds died after 25 October in three provinces about 70 kilometres (45 miles) north of Hanoi, he said.

Tests are being conducted for at least one suspected human case, the official added. The areas are now under a close watch and quarantine has been imposed. More than 60 people have died from human infection by the H5N1 strain in east Asia, with at least 41 of these in Vietnam.

Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a new situation update today:

Influenza pandemic threat: current situation
(4 November 2005)

F-Secure: A chilling thought about CDs that have rootkit DRM

Jamo writes over on the F-Secure "News from the Lab" Blog:

A member of our IT security team pointed out quite chilling thought about what might happen if record companies continue adding rootkit based copy protection into their CDs.

In order to hide from the system a rootkit must interface with the OS on very low level and in those areas theres no room for error.

It is hard enough to program something on that level, without having to worry about any other programs trying to do something with same parts of the OS.

Thus if there would be two DRM rootkits on the same system trying to hook same APIs, the results would be highly unpredictable. Or actually, a system crash is quite predictable result in such situation.

So imagine a situation where Joe Customer buys CD from label A and another CD from label B. Label A uses third party DRM from company X and Label B uses from company Y.

Then our user first plays one of the CDs in his PC, and everything works fine. But after he starts playing the second CD, his computer crashes and wont boot again. This is something I would not like to associate with buying legal CDs.

I think that record companies should stop playing with rootkits and other Blackhat techniques while they have not yet caused major grief to the customers.

Also while being on the topic of real world effects of DRM, check out user ratings of Van Zant CD that got pinpointed as CD with DRM in it.

At the moment of writing this blog entry, it has 97 review entries and 1,5 stars. I actually feel sorry for Van Zant, as they certainly don't have anything to do with the DRM on their CD.

EFF: File-Sharing Lawsuits Fail to Deter P2P Downloaders

Via The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

It's been two years since the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) started suing music fans who share songs online. Thousands of Americans have been hit by lawsuits, but both peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing and the litigation continue unabated. In a report released Thursday, "RIAA v. The People: Two Years Later," [.pdf] the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argues that the lawsuits are singling out only a select few fans for retribution, and many of them can't afford either to settle the case or defend themselves.

C|Net Interview: Kevin Mitnick on hacking's evolution

Joris Evers writes in C|Net News:

To many, the name Kevin Mitnick is synonymous with "notorious hacker." He was caught by the FBI in 1995 after a well-publicized pursuit. Mitnick pled guilty to charges of wire and computer fraud and served five years behind bars.

Today, Mitnick is a computer security consultant and has written two books, including one on social engineering, his forte. He is a celebrity, especially at events such as the annual Defcon gathering of hackers in Las Vegas, where attendees ask him to sign their badges.

Mitnick spends much of his time on the road at speaking engagements. CNET caught up with Mitnick after a gig at a San Francisco user event for SupportSoft, a maker of call center software, and talked to him about software security, the evolution of hacking and social engineering, and law enforcement's action against hacking.

Japan’s Hayabusa Probe Hits Snag In Practice Landing Run

Leonard David writes in

Japan’s Hayabusa space probe currently orbiting asteroid Itokawa ran into trouble during a November 4 practice landing session.

According to a statement by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), a space science research division arm of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the rehearsal descent was nixed due to an unspecified problem.

At the crucial go/no go decision point in carrying out the practice run, there was detection of an anomalous signal that curtailed spacecraft operations.

Subsequently, the practice descent of Hayabusa was canceled.

User Friendly: Life in Meatspace


Click for larger image.

FCC Pre-empts Video Franchising

Via Red Herring.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is seeking to short-circuit the drawn-out process that phone companies must go through when they seek individual agreements from local municipalities before they can offer cable TV services.

Late Thursday, the commission asked for public comment on rules it plans to propose next year to stop local municipalities from unreasonably refusing to grant competitive franchises to new entrants.

Websense mistakenly classifies as Marijuana-related site

Click for larger image.

John Leydem writes in The Register:

Microsoft's software download site was briefly categorised as a marijuana-related site and blocked by censorware outfit Websense on Monday. Websense blamed human error for the slip-up (or should that be splif-up), which it was able to quickly correct.

"For a brief period of time on Monday, the Websense database categorized incorrectly. Our system detected the error immediately," Websense said in a statement.

EA, Nettwerk in digital music distribution deal

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Electronic Arts Inc., the world's biggest video game publisher, on Thursday announced a partnership with Nettwerk Music Group to launch a digital music distribution label called EA Recordings.

EA Recordings will deliver clips from EA's catalog of wholly-owned music and remixes to online download services, including Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes, RealNetworks Inc.'s Rhapsody and those operated by Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Internet service.

Libya Reportedly Imprisons Blogger

An AP newswire article by Jasper Mortimer, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Libya has sent to prison for 18 months a blogger who criticized the government on the Internet, Human Rights Watch says in a report that inspired a series of Web tributes to the dissident Friday.

A Tripoli court convicted Abdel Raziq al-Mansuri of illegal possession of a handgun and sentenced him to 18 months' imprisonment on Oct. 19, the New York-based rights group said in an e-mail to The Associated Press in Cairo.

"The gun charges are a ruse," said the Middle Eastern director of HRW, Sarah Leah Whitson. "The authorities went after al-Mansuri because they did not like what he wrote."

Al-Mansuri, 52, was detained in Tobruk, his hometown, in January after publishing about 50 articles critical of Libyan society and government on a dissident Web site based in Britain,, the rights group said Thursday.

German IT outfit bans whining

Lester Haines writes in The Register:

German IT outfit Nutzwerk Ltd has come up with the perfect solution to whining in the workplace - it's made cheerfulness a contractual obligation. What's more, Manager Thomas Kuwatsch has declared that those who don't measure up to the prescribed level of jollity in the morning should stay at home until they cheer up, Ananova reports.

S. Africa to Launch Largest Telescope in So. Hemisphere

Ed Stoddard writes for Reuters:

South Africa will launch the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere next week and aims to put itself on the map as a destination for star-gazing tourists, the country's science minister said on Friday.

President Thabo Mbeki will formally initiate the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) on Thursday at an observatory near the town of Sutherland in the remote and arid Karoo region, famed for its big skies.

EU court hopes to rule on Microsoft by spring

Via Reuters.

The European Union's Court of First Instance hopes to rule on Microsoft's antitrust case by early spring, court President Bo Vesterdorf said on Friday.

Microsoft has gone to the EU court to challenge a 2004 decision by the European Commission, which found the U.S. software company used near-monopoly power to muscle rivals. Launches Record Label

An AP newswire article by Gary Gentile, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

The social networking Web site has launched its own record label in a joint venture with Interscope Records hoping to capitalize on its broad reach among music-savvy consumers.

MySpace Records will feature independent and unsigned artists as well as compilations that include top groups from other labels, the company said Thursday.

The label's first release will be a compilation of tracks that have become popular among the sites 36 million registered users and will feature songs from groups such as Weezer.

Microsoft, British Libary strike content deal

An AFP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

US software kingpin Microsoft has forged a "strategic partnership" to digitise 25 million pages of content from the British Library in London, the Financial Times reported.

Microsoft is to invest 2.5 million dollars in the venture next year as "an initial investment" in a long-term project that will kick off with the initial scanning of 10,000 books.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Phishing Alert / Malicious Code: PayPal DNS Traffic Redirection

This stuff is getting very dangerous.

Via WebSense.

Websense® Security Labs™ has received reports of a new attack that targets users of PayPal. The attack begins with a spoofed email phishing message that provides a link to download the executable "PayPal security tool" file. The executable, named 'PayPal-2.5.200-MSWin32-x86-2005.exe', is a Trojan Horse which modifies the DNS server of the local workstation and then deletes itself. All future requests for '' will be transparently redirected to a phishing website. This same DNS server could also be used to redirect requests for additional websites, but it currently appears to only redirect ''.

The next time the user attempts to visit the PayPal website, they will instead arrive at a phishing site. The web address shown in the browser's toolbar will appear to be correct. Upon log in, the phishing site will request the user update their account. They are prompted to enter the following information: Name, Credit/ATM Card, Billing Address, Phone Number, Social Security Number, Mother's Maiden Name, Date of Birth, Driver's License, and Bank Account/Routing Numbers.

The Trojan Horse is currently not detected by any anti-virus vendors. The malicious DNS server is hosted in Romania while the phishing server is hosted in India. Both were online at the time of this alert.

More H1-B visas on the way?

Anne Broache writes in C|Net News:

Technology companies are on their way to securing a larger pool of foreign workers from which to hire.

A provision in a budget measure approved by a late 52 to 47 vote in the U.S. Senate on Thursday would bump up the number of guest-worker visas, known as H-1Bs, from 65,000 to 95,000 for next year.

The proposal would also elevate H-1B application fees for U.S. employers by $500, the proceeds of which are intended to offset other government spending and deter sizable increases in the federal budget deficit.

The measure won't take effect unless it is also approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Consumer Group Asks FTC To Sue Spyware Company

Brian Krebs writes in The Washington Post:

A pair of consumer groups today filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau urging the agencies to consider filing civil lawsuits against Integrated Search Technologies (IST), easily one of the most egregious spyware companies in terms of its aggressive and unethical installation practices.

The complaints were filed by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), a Washington, D.C., consumer technology group, and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. The complaint centers on IST and several of its affiliates -- specifically, ContextPlus, Meridian Business Ventures, Surf Accuracy and Internet Optimizer; CDT said the entities "used deceptive techniques to dupe Internet users into downloading software they did not ask to receive in exchange for little or no benefit."

You don't have to look far to find evidence of IST's online footprint, as it has managed to install its various toolbars on thousands of computers worldwide. The toolbars either hijack a user's browser and/or Internet search functionality, and/or bombard the user with a barrage of pop-up ads for porn sites.

Alleged Pop-Up Hacker Busted

Kevin Poulsen writes in Wired News:

In the first U.S. prosecution of its kind, FBI agents arrested a 20-year-old Los Angeles man Thursday on charges that he cracked some 400,000 Windows machines and covertly installed pop-up-generating adware on them, in a scheme that allegedly brought in $60,000 in ill-gotten profits.

Jeanson Ancheta faces a 17-count federal indictment charging him with two counts of conspiracy and various forms of computer intrusion and money laundering. The government is also seeking the seizure of more than $60,000 in cash, a used BMW and some computer equipment from the alleged hacker.

According to prosecutors, in 2004 and early 2005 Ancheta used a customized form of the "rxbot" Trojan horse program to find and take control of large collections of vulnerable PCs, spinning them into "botnets" capable of being directed as one. He then installed ad-delivery programs from two adware firms: Quebec-based Gammacash and LOUDcash, which was purchased by adware giant 180solutions and renamed ZangoCash earlier this year.

House Panel Approves Data Breach Law

Roy Mark writes in

Ten months, three hearings and two bill drafts after widespread data breaches began to make headlines, House Republicans finally placed their legislative cards on the table Thursday. Democrats say they shouldn't have bothered.

The Data Accountability and Trust Act (DATA), approved by a subcommittee after a contentious five-hour hearing, would require data brokers to disclose to consumers any unencrypted breaches of their personal data. The bill would also pre-empt all state data breach laws.

U.S. Tech Firms Back Internet Governance Status Quo

Anne Broache and Declan McCullagh write in C|Net News:

Less than two weeks before a United Nations summit on the Internet begins, technology firms including Google, IBM and Microsoft are supporting the Bush administration's efforts to maintain the United States' unique influence over domain names.

In what amounted to a public effort to back the status quo, those firms sent representatives to an event here organized to highlight what some participants touted as the security and stability of the current form of Internet governance. MCI, BellSouth and Cisco Systems also participated.

Because it's home to 200 million Internet users and nearly half of the world's electronic commerce, the United States is in a unique position to ensure there's not a slowdown in Net growth, Michael D. Gallagher, the U.S. Commerce Department's assistant secretary for communications and information, said at the event. The gathering was organized by the Information Technology Association of America.

Spin-Machine in High Gear: U.S. Net firms launch VoIP publicity drive

Look out: They're out there, trumpeting the goodness of VoIP.


The Internet industry has launched a public-relations push to whip up some new buzz about the promise of Voice over Internet Protocol telephone service.

The Internet Voice Campaign is aimed at convincing more Americans to sign up for VoIP services by spreading the word about the technology's low cost and growing list of services and features made possible by increasing broadband availability.

The Voice On the Net Coalition, which consists of major voice providers, said polls have shown that about one-third of consumers know little about VoIP and haven't heard any messages from the industry that have convinced them to subscribe.

Patch Tuesday: 1 Critical Microsoft Patch

It looks like there will only be one patch this coming Patch Tuesday, and although it is a critical one, it will be a breeze compared to last month's slew of patches.

Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification:

On 8 November 2005 Microsoft is planning to release:

Security Updates

  • 1 Microsoft Security Bulletin affecting Microsoft Windows. The highest Maximum Severity rating for this is Critical. These updates will require a restart. These updates will be detectable using the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA).
Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool

  • Microsoft will release an updated version of the Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool on Windows Update, Microsoft Update, Windows Server Update Services and the Download Center.

Time Warner sees Net consolidating

A Reuters newswire article by Kenneth Li, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Time Warner Inc., the world's largest media company, sees more consolidation on the Internet, as it mulls moves in the wireless and video games sector, its top executive said on Thursday.

The New York-based media conglomerate, whose 2001 merger with AOL wiped away more than $200 billion in shareholder value, has emerged this year as the only big media company with a clear Internet strategy: boost online advertising.

And Time Warner's rivals are playing catch-up.

Time Warner sees Net consolidating

A Reuters newswire article by Kenneth Li, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Time Warner Inc., the world's largest media company, sees more consolidation on the Internet, as it mulls moves in the wireless and video games sector, its top executive said on Thursday.

The New York-based media conglomerate, whose 2001 merger with AOL wiped away more than $200 billion in shareholder value, has emerged this year as the only big media company with a clear Internet strategy: boost online advertising.

And Time Warner's rivals are playing catch-up.

H5N1 Humor: Standing in line for bird flu vaccine

Click for larger image.

SEC accuses Estonian firm of financial news hack

Dan Ilet writes in C|Net News:

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has accused an Estonian financial firm and two of its employees of carrying out a fraudulent hacking scheme that netted them at least $7.8 million.

The SEC filed an "emergency federal court action" against Estonian financial services firm Lohmus Haavel & Viisemann and employees Oliver Peek, 24, and Kristjan Lepik, 28.

The agency accused the two of using a so-called spider program to steal information related to more than 360 embargoed press releases in advance of their official distribution date from news and PR Web site Business Wire.

A statement from the SEC claims the stolen information allowed the two to time their trades around the release of news involving mergers, earnings and regulatory action. Using U.S. accounts, the defendants allegedly bought stocks long or sold short.

Microsoft patches [MS05-038, MS05-052] break some Web sites

Jeremy Kirk writes in InfoWorld:

Two patches released by Microsoft Corp. earlier this year for its Internet Explorer browser may cause some Web sites not to load properly.

The bulletins, MS05-038 and MS05-052, removed "unsafe functionality" and change how the browser handles ActiveX controls for security reasons, Stephen Toulouse, a program manager in Microsoft's security unit, wrote on Thursday on the Microsoft Security Response Center Blog.

After installing MS05-038, first published Aug. 9 on the Microsoft Download Center, Web pages containing COM (Component Object Model) objects called monikers may not work as expected.

MS05-052, published Oct. 11, added an additional check for a specific interface for ActiveX controls before allowing a COM object to run in Internet Explorer. But it also blocks some Web pages containing ActiveX controls, Microsoft said. Users who are missing certain registry subkeys may also experience problems with this patch, Microsoft said.

Archaeologists identify Copernicus’ skull

A computerized portrait, released Thursday by Polish
police, reconstructs the face of a man whose skull
was found buried in a cathedreal in the northern city of
Frombork. Archaeologists believe the skull was that
of the 16th-century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
Image source: MSNBC / Getty Images / AFP

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Archaeologists believe they have located the grave of 16th-century astronomer and solar-system proponent Nicolaus Copernicus in a Polish church, one of the scientists announced Thursday.

Copernicus, who died in 1543 at 70 after challenging the ancient belief that the sun revolved around the earth, was buried at the Roman Catholic cathedral in the city of Frombork, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of the capital, Warsaw.

Jerzy Gassowski, head of an archaeology and anthropology institute in the central Polish city of Pultusk, said his four-member team found what appears to be the skull of the Polish astronomer and clergyman in August, after a one-year search of tombs under the church floor.

FTC Slams State Laws As Making Children Less Safe From Spam

Can't say we didn't see this one coming a mile away. ;-)

Over on, Mike writes that:

Of the many government agencies out there, the FTC often seems like it has a much better grasp on technology issues that just about everyone else. After all, it was an FTC commissioner who first pointed out that almost any anti-spam law was unlikely to work, because the real definition of spam is "anything I don't like". The FTC also was the one who told eager politicians that a "do not email" list was only likely to be abused.

So, it probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the FTC is telling various states that their new laws to set up a special "do not spam" registry for kids isn't just a bad idea, it probably puts those kids at higher risk. The lists are set up in a way that any spammer can use it to figure out who the kids are and then target them directly. These spammers already don't expect to get caught, so it's not like the new law acts as a barrier in any way. It just lets them better target.

Google Print has running scared....

In my humble opinion, Amazon Pages sounds like it could quite well turn out to be a flop. On the other hand, their second program, Amazon Upgrade, sounds rather interesting, and perhaps pretty useful, too.

An AFP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Internet commerce giant said it was launching a program allowing consumers to purchase "online access" to books or to "any page, section, or chapter" of a book.

The service, called Amazon Pages, enables Internet users to "simply and inexpensively purchase and read online just the pages they need" of a book.

A second program, Amazon Upgrade, allows customers to "upgrade" the purchase of a physical book on to include online access.

Microsoft Makes Federal Privacy Push

Ed Oswald writes in BetaNews:

Microsoft has begun advocating for privacy legislation at the federal level. In a speech to the Congressional Internet Caucus, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith argued that such legislation was needed to protect consumers and provide businesses with clear guidelines on how to protect sensitive data.

Three factors have contributed to Microsoft's decision to get behind federal legislation. A mish-mash of laws at the state, federal and international levels creates confusion, Smith explained. While the laws mean well, they can overlap or be inconsistent from state to state, and, in some cases, not be strong enough.

Senate Puts FCC on Hold

Via Red Herring.

The Senate Commerce Committee passed a bill late Wednesday that gives Internet voice providers access to the same Emergency 911 services as wireless service providers and also raps the knuckles of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for setting unreasonable compliance conditions.

The IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005, which was passed unanimously, sets new guidelines for the FCC and takes much of the edge off of the FCC’s recent policy. It requires the FCC to formulate new rules for VoIP E911 within 120 days, in effect erasing the FCC’s November 28 compliance deadline.

Vatican: Faithful Should Listen to Science

An AP newswire article by Nicole Winfield, via ABC News, reports that:

A Vatican cardinal said Thursday the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into "fundamentalism" if it ignores scientific reason.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture, made the comments at a news conference on a Vatican project to help end the "mutual prejudice" between religion and science that has long bedeviled the Roman Catholic Church and is part of the evolution debate in the United States.

Telecom Pricing Information Dries Up

Gene J. Koprowski writes in eWeek:

A small Maryland company's decision this week to stop publishing telecom carrier rates is making a big stir in the industry, as experts say one of the free-market effects of the 1996 Telecommunications Act is finally being felt, nearly a decade after it was passed.

Rockville, Md.-based Center for Communications Management Information this week ceased publishing "DealWatch," a compendium of rates of telecommunications carriers, used by major corporations, and small and medium-size businesses, to shop around for the best-priced telecom deal.

"We just made an announcement," said a spokeswoman for CCMI, Deana Holton. "We're ceasing publication. Companies aren't putting enough useful information out there."

Microsoft Acquires Austin's FolderShare

A Reuters newswire article, via eWeek, reports that:

Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, said on Thursday that it has acquired a company that provides file management services that allows users access to information from various devices over the Web.

Microsoft did not disclose how much it paid for FolderShare, a privately-held company based in Austin, Texas.

Vonage Considering Sale and IPO

Via Reuters.

Vonage Holdings Corp., a pioneer in selling Internet-based phone services, is preparing for an initial public offering that could raise $600 million and also exploring a sale to a larger company for at least $2 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the paper said venture investors including Bain Capital, 3i Group Plc, Meritech Capital Partners, Institutional Venture Partners and New Enterprise Associates have poured $408 million into Vonage, of Edison, New Jersey.

Japanese girl keeps blog on poisoning mother

An AFP newswire article, via The Sydney Morning Herald, reports that:

A 16-year-old Japanese girl was arrested for trying to kill her mother with rat poison and keeping a blog narrating how her condition deteriorated, news reports say.

The girl, part of an elite high school chemistry club, reportedly admired British serial killer Graham Young and kept severed animal body parts including a cat's head in her bedroom.

"Mother has been sick since yesterday, having a rash all over her body," the Asahi Shimbun newspaper quoted the girl as writing on August 19 on the online journal, which was kept under a male name.

Another daily newspaper, the Mainichi Shimbun, reported the blog said on September 12: "Mother is sick today, too. She had been complaining her legs have been out of it for two or three days and she has finally become almost unable to move."

Police found that the dates of the blog matched the illness of her 47-year-old mother, who was in critical condition at a hospital in Shizuoka prefecture southwest of Tokyo, the reports said.

Australia: Telstra backs away from ADSL2+

Andrew Colley writes in Australian IT:

TELSTRA has stepped back from its commitment to complete long-awaited upgrades to its ADSL network by mid-2006.

Earlier this year, Telstra announced that it would update 200 of it exchanges to carry high-speed ADSL2+ services by mid-2005 and complete the upgrade project by mid-next year.

But Telstra spokesman Rod Bruem said the plan would be reconsidered as part of a wide-ranging review of the carrier's operations expected to be revealed before the end of the month.

Telstra decided to conduct the review after the federal Government announced that it would impose tighter pricing regulations on the carrier, to protect rural services.

NetZero Offers VoIP for Dial-up Users

Ed Oswald writes in BetaNews:

Internet service provider NetZero entered the highly competitive VoIP market Thursday, introducing a new service called NetZero Voice that it says opens the technology to dial-up users. According to research, an estimated 45 million dial-up users still exist in the United States.

The service will allow for free computer-to-computer calls between NetZero Voice users, similar to the way Skype operates. The company will also offer a calling plan that includes free domestic long distance for a $3.95 or $14.95 USD monthly fee - depending on the amount of minutes desired.

As a promotional offer to attract customers, NetZero said it would give all new subscribers free service based on their plan for the first three months. Voice plans come with 100, 250 or unlimited minutes of calling time.

AOL Buys MusicNow Subscription Service

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

America Online Inc. expanded its offerings to digital music consumers with the acquisition of the MusicNow subscription service from Circuit City Stores Inc., AOL said Thursday.

Terms of the deal, which closed earlier this week, were not disclosed.

The service, which will be rebranded as AOL Music Now, will compete with other digital music services like iTunes and Napster. AOL Music Now will offer users the option of purchasing songs for 99 cents each or a subscription service that allows unlimited downloads for either $9.95 or $14.95 a month.

The cheaper subscription allows downloads only to a computer, while the more expensive option also allows downloads to a compatible portable music player.

Russia: Golden Telecom buys SochiTelecom, Antel Rascom for $13M

Via RIA Novosti.

Golden Telecom, Inc., a leading facilities-based provider of integrated telecommunications and Internet services in major cities in Russia and the CIS, completed deals Thursday to buy SochiTelecom and Antel Rascom Ltd., which is registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The company said in a press release that the deal to buy SochiTelecom - an alternative fixed communications operator in the Krasnodar territory - had cost it $3 million, marking its proactive expansion into the regions.

Golden Telecom paid $10 million for Antel Rascom Ltd, which owns communications and infrastructure facilities in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

180solutions helps track down Dutch botnet crime ring?

Jay Wrolstad writes in NewsFactor Magazine Online:

Internet advertising software provider 180solutions, the target of an extortion scheme, is working with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to track down a botnet crime ring based in the Netherlands.

The Bellevue, Washington-based company said that in October, Dutch police arrested three suspects accused of operating a network of 1.5 million infected zomibie PCs worldwide, and that this network was used to steal personal information and launch a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against 180solutions in an effort to extort money.

Company spokesperson Sean Sundwall said 180solutions began tracking a distributor of it software, which runs a gaming site based in the Netherlands, after noticing a sharp spike in the number of installations from that site.

Silicon Insider: "Forbes is the Anti-Indicator"

Commentary in ABC News by Michael S. Malone:

First, a quick surf of the Web showed me a blogosphere on fire — with excitement over the birth of Pajamas Media, consumed with jealously over not being part of it, or pre-emptively attacking it with near incoherence for alleged biases, incompetence or abuse of power. Not bad for an enterprise that doesn't even formally exist yet. Whenever a new idea in high-tech attracts this much adulation and calumny, you can be sure that it is on to something — and that everyone doing the attacking is secretly plotting how to compete with it.

But the real confirmation that the game is afoot in the blogosphere came from a Forbes magazine cover story that literally hit the stands while we were in the summit. I'd noticed that one of the panelists, Paul Maidment, head of, was unusually circumspect with the crowd about where he worked. After I saw the magazine, I understood why.

As I've noted in this column many times over the years, I used to run Forbes' technology magazine, Forbes ASAP, which was based in Silicon Valley. ASAP was probably the largest circulation technology-business magazine in the world. I like to think it was because of the good writing and editing, but the truth is that we were respected then, and remembered now, because we understood technology, and we got the big stuff right.

By comparison, when it comes to technology, the mother ship, Forbes magazine, NEVER, EVER gets the big stuff right. It is, in fact, one of the best technology counter-indicators I know. If you want to learn about mutual funds or the annual incomes of dead celebrities, Forbes is the place to go. But when it comes to tech, read Fortune or, if you can stay awake, Business Week because if Forbes says something ain't so, by God it must certainly be the case.

House with bride for sale on eBay

An AP newswire article, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:

For $600,000 (U.S.), a 40- to 60-year-old man can buy a house in a trendy Denver neighborhood that comes complete with a bride.

Deborah Hale, 48, has placed an ad on eBay offering to sell her home in the Washington Park area to a compatible man who wants to spend his life with her. She also has her own website outlining the deal.

"I'm looking for my soul mate," Hale told the Rocky Mountain News Tuesday. She did not immediately return a telephone message left at her home Wednesday.

Hale lives part-time in the 1910 bungalow-style house. She also has a jewelery business in Albuquerque, N.M.

She has received about 60 responses.

Ed Felten on Sony's Rootkit "Remover"

Via Boing Boing.

Ed Felten has a great look at Sony's "fix" for the malicious, crash-inducing rootkits they forced their customers to install in order to listen to the CDs they bought:

The update is more than 3.5 megabytes in size, and it appears to contain new versions of almost all the files included in the initial installation of the entire DRM system, as well as creating some new files. In short, they're not just taking away the rootkit-like function -- they're almost certainly adding things to the system as well. And once again, they're not disclosing what they're doing.

No doubt they'll ask us to just trust them. I wouldn't. The companies still assert -- falsely -- that the original rootkit-like software "does not compromise security" and "[t]here should be no concern" about it. So I wouldn't put much faith in any claim that the new update is harmless. And the companies claim to have developed "new ways of cloaking files on a hard drive". So I wouldn't derive much comfort from carefully worded assertions that they have removed "the ... component .. that has been discussed".

Comcast Fails to Score Partly Due to Hockey

Via Red Herring.

Comcast, the largest cable operator in the United States, on Thursday reported little profit growth for its third quarter despite a healthy increase in cable revenue.

The company blamed content costs related to its acquisition of rights to broadcast National Hockey League games and ongoing infrastructure costs.

FDA Advisers Consider At-Home HIV Test

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

A government advisory panel is considering whether to allow the use of the first HIV test a person can take entirely at home, alone.

The possible availability of the test, which relies on a swab on the inside of the mouth, has raised concerns about the potential psychological impact on people who learn they have the virus with no doctors or counselors present.

The test, called OraQuick Advance, is made by OraSure Technologies Inc. of Bethlehem, Pa. It is already widely available in health clinics and doctor's offices, and the FDA is considering permitting it to be sold over the counter.

Steve Jobs: Most Prominent Arab-American

Matt Marshall writes over on SiliconBeat:

We found this interesting. We saw it via RSS on Dan Gillmor's site, but are having a difficult time finding a link for it now (we've asked Dan what happened). Anyway, here is the nugget:

...The missing piece is the identity of his biological father, whose strange story, uncovered here for the first time, provides fresh insight into the sources of character that have made Steve Jobs one of the greatest icons of American business...

...And it turns out that Jobs, arguably the most fascinating figure in both Silicon Valley and Hollywood, can make yet another claim to exceptionalism: he is the most prominent living Arab-American. His biological father, Abdulfattah Jandali, immigrated from his native Syria at the age of 21 in 1952.

Japan's Hayabusa Probe Closes in on Asteroid Landing Site

Image source: / JAXA / ISAS

Leonard David writes in

Stunning imagery is being returned by Japan’s Hayabusa space probe as it draws closer to its celestial target: asteroid Itokawa.

Now just a few miles distant from the space rock, the spacecraft is poised for an historic attempt to collect and return a specimen to Earth from such an object. Imagery from Hayabusa is being used by Japanese scientists to target potential touchdown sites on the rocky world.

Hayabusa was rocketed into space from Japan’s Kagoshima Space Center on May 9, 2003 and is a project of that country’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), a space science research division arm of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Hayabusa arrived at its exploration target, near Earth asteroid Itokawa, on September 12, propelled there via ion engines and an Earth swing-by to put the probe on a heading toward Itokawa.

FCC moves up date for small TVs to get digital

Via Reuters.

New, smaller television sets sold in the United States must be capable of receiving digital broadcasts by March 1, 2007, four months earlier than previously planned, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission ruled on Thursday.

Originally the FCC had set July 1, 2007 as the deadline for those television sets with screens of 13 inches to 24 inches to include digital receivers. The agency had proposed earlier this year to move the deadline up to December 31, 2006.

The change comes as U.S. lawmakers are debating whether to set a hard date in 2008 or 2009 for television stations to switch completely to digital broadcasts and cease analog broadcasts.

Asteroid Apophis: Dealing with Earth's Future Troublemaker

Leonard David writes on

The potential for a newly discovered asteroid smacking into the Earth in 2036 cannot be discounted. NASA has sketched out a response strategy in the outside possibility that the space rock becomes a true threat.

NASA’s action plan was the result of prodding by a group of astronauts, scientists and other technical specialists uneasy about the current lack of action to protect the Earth from the impact of near Earth objects (NEOs).

The object was found last year through the efforts of NASA’s Spaceguard Survey. In 1998 NASA formally initiated the Spaceguard Survey by adopting the objective of finding 90 percent of the near Earth asteroids larger than 3,280 feet (one kilometer) diameter within the next decade - before the end of 2008.

SEC says hackers emptying online brokerage accounts

Via BusinessWeek Online.

Arriving home from a five-week trip to Belgium and India on Aug. 14, a jet-lagged Korukonda L. Murty picked up his mail -- and got the shock of his life. Two monthly statements from online brokerage E*Trade Financial showed that securities worth $174,000 -- the bulk of his and his wife's savings -- had vanished.

During July 13-26, stocks and mutual funds had been sold, and the proceeds wired out of his account in six transactions of nearly $30,000 apiece. Murty, a 64-year-old nuclear engineering professor at North Carolina State University, could only think it was a mistake. He hadn't sold any stock in months.

Murty dialed E*Trade the moment its call center opened at 7 a.m. A customer service rep urged him to change his password immediately. Too late. E*Trade says the computer in Murty's Cary (N.C.) home lacked antivirus software and had been infected with code that enabled hackers to grab his user name and password.

User Friendly: Gamers and Tech Support


Click for larger image.

World of Warcraft hackers using Sony BMG rootkit

Robert Lemos writes on SecurityFocus:

Want to cheat in your online game and not get caught? Just buy a Sony BMG copy protected CD.

World of Warcraft hackers have confirmed that the hiding capabilities of Sony BMG's content protection software can make tools made for cheating in the online world impossible to detect. The software--deemed a "rootkit" by many security experts--is shipped with tens of thousands of the record company's music titles.

Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of World of Warcraft, has created a controversial program that detects cheaters by scanning the processes that are running at the time the game is played. Called the Warden, the anti-cheating program cannot detect any files that are hidden with Sony BMG's content protection, which only requires that the hacker add the prefix "$sys$" to file names.

Despite making a patch available on Wednesday to consumers to amend its copy protection software's behavior, Sony BMG and First 4 Internet, the maker of the content protection technology, have both disputed claims that their system could harm the security of a Windows system. Yet, other software makers that rely on the integrity of the operating system are finding that hidden code makes security impossible.

UK: Teen escapes email bombing charge

John Leyden writes in The Register:

A British teenager who allegedly flooded his former employers' email system with five million emails has escaped trial after a judge ruled that he had no case to answer.

The ruling at Wimbledon Magistrates Court raises fresh doubts about the effectiveness of the Computer Misuse Act [CMA] in dealing with denial of service attacks by hackers.

District Judge Kenneth Grant ruled that the unnamed teenager's alleged actions did not fall foul of the Computer Misuse Act even though the email flood the firm suffered caused its email servers to crash.

The Computer Misuse Act - which dates back to 1990, before the widespread use of the net - outlaws the "unauthorised access" or "unauthorised modification" of computer systems. The unnamed teenager was charged under Section Three of the Act which covers the more serious offence of unauthorised modification of a computer system.

Fatal Flaw Weakens RFID Passports

This seems like a good time to (again) mention that RFID kills.

Bruce Schneier writes in Wired News:

In 2004, when the U.S. State Department first started talking about embedding RFID chips in passports, the outcry from privacy advocates was huge. When the State Department issued its draft regulation in February, it got 2,335 comments, 98.5 percent negative. In response, the final State Department regulations, issued last week, contain two features that attempt to address security and privacy concerns. But one serious problem remains.

Before I describe the problem, some context on the surrounding controversy may be helpful. RFID chips are passive, and broadcast information to any reader that queries the chip. So critics, myself included, were worried that the new passports would reveal your identity without your consent or even your knowledge. Thieves could collect the personal data of people as they walk down a street, criminals could scan passports looking for Westerners to kidnap or rob and terrorists could rig bombs to explode only when four Americans are nearby. The police could use the chips to conduct surveillance on an individual; stores could use the technology to identify customers without their knowledge.

Novell to Cut 600 Jobs in Restructuring

An AP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Business software maker Novell Inc. will cut about 600 positions, or more than 10 percent of its work force, by January as part of its restructuring efforts to concentrate on core strategic areas such as the Linux and open-source markets.

As the company puts more focus on its core businesses, Novell's board authorized management and its financial adviser to explore strategic options for Celerant, Novell's consulting unit. The company has previously said that it intends to separate Celerant from Novell when market and other conditions are appropriate.

In a press release Wednesday, Novell said it expects to book a restructuring charge of $30 million to $35 million in its fiscal fourth quarter ended Oct. 31.

Google Offers Index of Public Domain Works

An AP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Google Inc.'s Internet-leading search engine on Thursday will begin serving up the entire contents of books and government documents that aren't entangled in a copyright battle over how much material can be scanned and indexed from five major libraries.

The list of Google's so-called "public domain" works — volumes no longer protected by copyright — include Henry James novels, Civil War histories, Congressional acts and biographies of wealthy New Yorkers.

Google said the material, available at, represents the first large batch of public domain books and documents to be indexed in its search engine since the Mountain View-based company announced an ambitious library-scanning project late last year.

Yahoo! Redesigns Its Online Mapping Service

An AP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Yahoo Inc. has redesigned its online maps to make it easier to get driving directions to multiple destinations and find local merchants — the latest move in the company's duel with Internet powerhouse, Google Inc.

The Sunnyvale-based company planned to unveil its latest mapping improvements Wednesday, less than a month after Google upgraded its maps service. Yahoo's service will be available on a test basis at

Yahoo is matching some of Google's features, such as the ability to scroll across a map without reloading a Web page, as well as introducing tools that haven't been available previously on the Internet.

Vodafone wants half interest in Vodacom of South Africa

An AFP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

British mobile telephone group Vodafone said it was in exclusive negotiations to acquire a further 15 percent of South African operator Vodacom Group for up to 16 billion rand (2.4 billion dollars).

This would increase Vodafone's shareholding in Vodacom to 50 percent.

The British group said that an increased interest in Vodacom "was consistent with Vodafone's strategy of increasing its exposure to growth markets".

It would give Vodafone increased exposure to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Lesotho and Mozambique, Vodafone added in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

Chinese blog shut down just days after being nominated for free expression contest

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the censorship of pro-democracy writer Wang Yi’s blog (, which was closed down just days after it was nominated for the “freedom of expression” category in a blog contest ( being organised by the German public radio station Deutsche Welle.

“We call for the immediate reopening of this blog and we point out that the Chinese constitution is supposed to guarantee free expression,” the press freedom organisation said. “In a country where self-censorship reigns, we should salute the courage of the few bloggers like Wang who dare to publicly protest against government bans.”

The company that hosts the Tianya website closed the blog down on the orders of the Internet surveillance bureau in Hai Nan province (southwest of Guangzhou). When Internet users now try to access the blog, they see an error message saying it is “no longer accessible.”

Microsoft to buy Swiss VoIP Engineering Company

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, said on Wednesday it will acquire a privately held, Swiss-based company that develops technology to route and manage phone calls placed over the Web.

Microsoft did not disclose how much it paid for AG, a Zurich, Switzerland-based technology company with 23 employees.

Microsoft said it would integrate's technology with collaboration software in its Office division, which will eventually allow users to add incoming phone calls to conferences, route calls and host teleconferences between people in far-flung locations.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bush Orders Mass Bald Eagle Slaughter To Stop Spread Of Bird Flu

It's a joke, okay? Don't get too bent out of shape... ;-)

Via The Onion.

As experts issue increasingly dire warnings of an avian flu epidemic, President Bush signed an executive order Tuesday authorizing the mass slaughter of "all bald eagles found anywhere within our borders.

"As president, my first duty is to protect the American people, whether the threat is terrorists or deadly, fast-mutating bird viruses," said Bush, standing on the lawn of the National Mall before a specially built pyre stacked with recently killed bald eagles. "This proactive initiative will rid our nation of this potentially disease-ridden winged animal."

Bush added: "I want these birds rounded up, tied down, and their throats slit."

House Roll Call on Political Blogs

Via The Associated Press (a la Yahoo! News). Presented here in it's entirety.

The 225-182 roll call Wednesday by which the House bill voted not to exclude blogs, e-mails and other Internet communications from regulation by the Federal Election Commission. The vote fell 47 short of the two-thirds majority needed under a procedure that limited debate time and allowed no amendments.

A "yes" vote was a vote to exclude Internet communications from regulation by the Federal Election Commission.

Voting "yes" were 46 Democrats and 179 Republicans.

Voting "no" were 143 Democrats, 38 Republicans and 1 independent.

"X" denotes those not voting.

There is one vacancy in the 435-member House.


Democrats — Cramer, Y; Davis, N.

Republicans — Aderholt, Y; Bachus, Y; Bonner, Y; Everett, Y; Rogers, Y.


Republicans — Young, X.


Democrats — Grijalva, N; Pastor, N.

Republicans — Flake, Y; Franks, Y; Hayworth, Y; Kolbe, Y; Renzi, Y; Shadegg, Y.


Democrats — Berry, N; Ross, Y; Snyder, N.

Republicans — Boozman, Y.


Democrats — Baca, Y; Becerra, N; Berman, Y; Capps, N; Cardoza, Y; Costa, Y; Davis, N; Eshoo, Y; Farr, N; Filner, N; Harman, X; Honda, Y; Lantos, N; Lee, Y; Lofgren, Zoe, Y; Matsui, N; Millender-McDonald, N; Miller, George, N; Napolitano, N; Pelosi, N; Roybal-Allard, X; SAnchez, Linda T., N; Sanchez, Loretta, Y; Schiff, N; Sherman, N; Solis, N; Stark, X; Tauscher, N; Thompson, Y; Waters, Y; Watson, Y; Waxman, N; Woolsey, Y.

Republicans — Bono, Y; Calvert, Y; Cunningham, Y; Doolittle, Y; Dreier, Y; Gallegly, N; Herger, Y; Hunter, Y; Issa, Y; Lewis, Y; Lungren, Daniel E., Y; McKeon, Y; Miller, Gary, Y; Nunes, Y; Pombo, X; Radanovich, X; Rohrabacher, Y; Royce, Y; Thomas, Y.


Democrats — DeGette, N; Salazar, Y; Udall, Y.

Republicans — Beauprez, Y; Hefley, N; Musgrave, Y; Tancredo, Y.


Democrats — DeLauro, N; Larson, N.

Republicans — Johnson, N; Shays, N; Simmons, N.


Republicans — Castle, N.


Democrats — Boyd, N; Brown, Corrine, N; Davis, N; Hastings, X; Meek, N; Wasserman Schultz, N; Wexler, N.

Republicans — Bilirakis, Y; Brown-Waite, Ginny, X; Crenshaw, Y; Diaz-Balart, L., Y; Diaz-Balart, M., Y; Feeney, Y; Foley, Y; Harris, Y; Keller, Y; Mack, Y; Mica, Y; Miller, X; Putnam, Y; Ros-Lehtinen, Y; Shaw, Y; Stearns, Y; Weldon, Y; Young, Y.


Democrats — Barrow, Y; Bishop, Y; Lewis, N; Marshall, X; McKinney, Y; Scott, Y.

Republicans — Deal, Y; Gingrey, Y; Kingston, Y; Linder, Y; Norwood, X; Price, Y; Westmoreland, Y.


Democrats — Abercrombie, N; Case, N.


Republicans — Otter, Y; Simpson, Y.


Democrats — Bean, N; Costello, N; Davis, N; Emanuel, N; Evans, N; Gutierrez, N; Jackson, N; Lipinski, N; Rush, N; Schakowsky, N.

Republicans — Biggert, Y; Hastert, X; Hyde, X; Johnson, N; Kirk, N; LaHood, N; Manzullo, Y; Shimkus, Y; Weller, Y.


Democrats — Carson, N; Visclosky, N.

Republicans — Burton, Y; Buyer, Y; Chocola, Y; Hostettler, Y; Pence, Y; Sodrel, Y; Souder, Y.


Democrats — Boswell, X.

Republicans — King, Y; Latham, Y; Leach, N; Nussle, Y.


Democrats — Moore, N.

Republicans — Moran, Y; Ryun, Y; Tiahrt, Y.


Democrats — Chandler, Y.

Republicans — Davis, Y; Lewis, Y; Northup, Y; Rogers, Y; Whitfield, Y.


Democrats — Jefferson, N; Melancon, Y.

Republicans — Alexander, Y; Baker, Y; Boustany, Y; Jindal, Y; McCrery, Y.


Democrats — Allen, N; Michaud, N.


Democrats — Cardin, N; Cummings, N; Hoyer, Y; Ruppersberger, N; Van Hollen, N; Wynn, Y.

Republicans — Bartlett, Y; Gilchrest, N.


Democrats — Capuano, Y; Delahunt, N; Frank, N; Lynch, N; Markey, N; McGovern, N; Meehan, N; Neal, N; Olver, N; Tierney, N.


Democrats — Conyers, Y; Dingell, N; Kildee, N; Kilpatrick, N; Levin, N; Stupak, N.

Republicans — Camp, Y; Ehlers, Y; Hoekstra, Y; Knollenberg, Y; McCotter, Y; Miller, Y; Rogers, Y; Schwarz, N; Upton, N.


Democrats — McCollum, X; Oberstar, N; Peterson, Y; Sabo, X.

Republicans — Gutknecht, Y; Kennedy, Y; Kline, Y; Ramstad, N.


Democrats — Taylor, N; Thompson, N.

Republicans — Pickering, Y; Wicker, Y.


Democrats — Carnahan, N; Clay, Y; Cleaver, N; Skelton, N.

Republicans — Akin, Y; Blunt, Y; Emerson, N; Graves, Y; Hulshof, Y.


Republicans — Rehberg, Y.


Republicans — Fortenberry, Y; Osborne, N; Terry, Y.


Democrats — Berkley, N.

Republicans — Gibbons, Y; Porter, Y.


Republicans — Bass, N; Bradley, N.


Democrats — Andrews, N; Holt, N; Menendez, X; Pallone, N; Pascrell, N; Payne, N; Rothman, N.

Republicans — Ferguson, Y; Frelinghuysen, N; Garrett, Y; LoBiondo, N; Saxton, N; Smith, N.


Democrats — Udall, N.

Republicans — Pearce, X; Wilson, N.


Democrats — Ackerman, X; Bishop, N; Crowley, N; Engel, N; Higgins, N; Hinchey, N; Israel, N; Lowey, N; Maloney, N; McCarthy, N; McNulty, N; Meeks, N; Nadler, N; Owens, N; Rangel, N; Serrano, Y; Slaughter, N; Towns, N; VelAzquez, N; Weiner, N.

Republicans — Boehlert, N; Fossella, Y; Kelly, Y; King, X; Kuhl, Y; McHugh, Y; Reynolds, Y; Sweeney, Y; Walsh, N.


Democrats — Butterfield, N; Etheridge, X; McIntyre, N; Miller, N; Price, N; Watt, N.

Republicans — Coble, N; Foxx, Y; Hayes, Y; Jones, Y; McHenry, Y; Myrick, Y; Taylor, Y.


Democrats — Pomeroy, N.


Democrats — Brown, Y; Jones, N; Kaptur, N; Kucinich, N; Ryan, Y; Strickland, Y.

Republicans — Boehner, Y; Chabot, Y; Gillmor, N; Hobson, N; LaTourette, N; Ney, Y; Oxley, X; Pryce, X; Regula, N; Schmidt, N; Tiberi, Y; Turner, N.


Democrats — Boren, Y.

Republicans — Cole, Y; Istook, Y; Lucas, Y; Sullivan, Y.


Democrats — Blumenauer, Y; DeFazio, N; Hooley, N; Wu, N.

Republicans — Walden, N.


Democrats — Brady, X; Doyle, N; Fattah, Y; Holden, N; Kanjorski, N; Murtha, Y; Schwartz, N.

Republicans — Dent, Y; English, Y; Fitzpatrick, Y; Gerlach, Y; Hart, Y; Murphy, Y; Peterson, Y; Pitts, Y; Platts, N; Sherwood, Y; Shuster, Y; Weldon, N.


Democrats — Kennedy, Y; Langevin, N.


Democrats — Clyburn, N; Spratt, N.

Republicans — Barrett, Y; Brown, Y; Inglis, Y; Wilson, Y.


Democrats — Herseth, Y.


Democrats — Cooper, N; Davis, Y; Ford, N; Gordon, N; Tanner, N.

Republicans — Blackburn, Y; Duncan, Y; Jenkins, Y; Wamp, N.


Democrats — Cuellar, Y; Doggett, N; Edwards, N; Gonzalez, N; Green, Al, N; Green, Gene, N; Hinojosa, N; Jackson-Lee, N; Johnson, E. B., N; Ortiz, N; Reyes, X.

Republicans — Barton, Y; Bonilla, Y; Brady, Y; Burgess, Y; Carter, Y; Conaway, Y; Culberson, Y; DeLay, Y; Gohmert, Y; Granger, Y; Hall, X; Hensarling, Y; Johnson, Sam, Y; Marchant, Y; McCaul, Y; Neugebauer, Y; Paul, Y; Poe, Y; Sessions, Y; Smith, Y; Thornberry, Y.


Democrats — Matheson, Y.

Republicans — Bishop, Y; Cannon, Y.


Independent — Sanders, N.


Democrats — Boucher, Y; Moran, N; Scott, N.

Republicans — Cantor, Y; Davis, Jo Ann, Y; Davis, Tom, Y; Drake, Y; Forbes, Y; Goode, Y; Goodlatte, Y; Wolf, N.


Democrats — Baird, N; Dicks, N; Inslee, N; Larsen, N; McDermott, N; Smith, Y.

Republicans — Hastings, Y; McMorris, Y; Reichert, Y.


Democrats — Mollohan, N; Rahall, Y.

Republicans — Capito, Y.


Democrats — Baldwin, N; Kind, Y; Moore, N; Obey, N.

Republicans — Green, Y; Petri, N; Ryan, Y; Sensenbrenner, Y.


Republicans — Cubin, X.