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    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    CNN - High-tech pirates are no romantic figures

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    High-tech pirates are no romantic figures

    A French yacht. A Japanese tanker. A Spanish fishing boat. After several years of decline, pirates are striking with increasing frequency on the high seas.

    Attacks in the first three months of this year were up 20 percent compared with the same period in 2007, analysts say. Last year saw more pirate attacks than the year before.

    And although the motive is still money, today's pirates are a far cry from the eye-patched, peg-legged swashbucklers of Hollywood.

    "The only thing today's pirates have in common with the romantic vision people have of pirates is that they are ruthless criminals who exploit very vulnerable people at sea," said Pottengal Mukundan of the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors shipping crime.

    Today's maritime muggers don night-vision goggles, carry rocket launchers and navigate with global positioning devices.

    With the ransoms they collect, pirates can earn up to $40,000 a year, analysts say. That's a fortune for someone from an impoverished country.

    A spate of well-publicized attacks this month has cast the problem in sharp relief.

    On April 4, suspected Somali pirates seized a French luxury yacht and held its crew of 30 for a week. Then, in a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie, French troops chased the hijackers into the desert before the hijackers could make off with the reported $2 million in ransom.

    Last week, suspected pirates shot at a Japanese tanker in the waters off the Horn of Africa.

    And over the weekend, pirates released a Spanish fishing boat off the coast of Somalia -- but only after they received a reported $1.2 million in ransom.

    Assailants have also attacked ships carrying food and relief supplies to war-torn regions.

    The International Maritime Bureau says 49 attacks were reported in the first three months of 2008, compared with 41 for the same period last year. It recorded 263 pirate attacks last year, up from 239 the year before and the first increase in three years.

    Worse still, analysts estimate that the numbers are underreported by as much as 30 percent.

    A piracy case raises insurance rates for ship owners, said Ioannis Michaletos, security analyst for Greece-based Research Institute for European and American Studies.

    So, "unless there's a death, many ship owners won't report it," he said.

    Why the rise in piracy

    Since the days of Blackbeard, who sailed the seas in the early 18th century in a period known as the Golden Age of Piracy, countries with coastlines beefed up their navies and generally routed the robbers.

    Yet analysts say two recent trends have led to a rise in piracy: access and opportunity.

    As global commerce picks up, more and more of the world's fuels, minerals and other crucial commodities travel by ship. Ninety-five percent of America's foreign trade, for instance, moves by water, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.

    That cargo is an easy target for robbers in countries that lack the resources to secure their shorelines. Analysts say the waters off Nigeria and off Somalia, where no central government has existed since the early '90s, rank at the top of the global hotspots of pirate activity.

    Terrifying few minutes

    Bruce Meadows, an American cruise-ship singer, found this out firsthand.

    The captain's voice over the loudspeaker woke Meadows up before dawn one Saturday three years ago. Their 400-foot luxury liner was under attack.

    Meadows, who lives near Atlanta, Georgia, said he looked out the window and saw two white boats trailing along either side of the Seabourn Spirit as it sailed in the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast.

    The men, clad in dark clothes, waved machine guns and fired toward the deck and staterooms. One man lifted a rocket-propelled grenade launcher to his right shoulder and pulled the trigger.

    " 'This is not happening.' Literally, that is what I said," Meadows said shortly after the ordeal. "I was kind of fearful for what I was going to see potentially. Maybe friends of mine were going to be injured or hurt, and how I was going to deal with this, and what I was supposed to do in that capacity."

    In many respects, it was a typical pirate attack.

    Many pirates are trained fighters; others are young thugs enlisted for the job. Experts say they often sail out to sea in a mother ship and wait for a target.

    When they find one, the pirates board smaller boats and move in, typically with five to seven armed hijackers per boat.

    "We're talking about people in small, fast boats; people wearing combat fatigues; people armed with guns -- machine guns," said Lee Adamson of the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency responsible for improving ship safety.

    Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based Seafarers Assistance Program said the pirates work with conspirators who bankroll the operations.

    "These contacts give them details about the movement of the ships. These contacts help them buy arms," he said. "And when they negotiate, the negotiations are not carried out in Somalia. These contacts do them."

    Meadows was fortunate: The cruise ship changed course and outran the pirates. No one was hurt.

    But about 75 percent of the time, pirates succeed in boarding their targets, analysts say. Then they often sail back into their host country's waters -- away from the clutches of foreign police, whose jurisdiction is limited to international waters.

    That may soon change.

    U.N. resolution drafted

    The United States and France introduced a draft resolution Monday at the U.N. Security Council that would allow foreign governments to pursue pirate vessels into Somalia's territorial waters and make arrests.

    It noted that Somalia's transitional government welcomes international assistance.

    Maritime groups say they hope the resolution is adopted and expanded to other waters.

    Many see piracy cases going up as the global economy goes down.

    "There's a humanitarian crisis. There's a food crisis," said Michaletos, the security analyst. "You have people who are desperate, and this is an easy way to supplement their income.

    "I am not optimistic for the future."

    Reuters - Industry leaders join push for home media networks

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    Industry leaders join push for home media networks

    Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 4:54PM UTC

    FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Chip and electronics makers Intel <INTC.O>, Infineon <IFXGn.DE>, Texas Instruments <TXN.N> and Panasonic <6752.T> have formed an alliance to promote home networks for movies, music and pictures using domestic wiring.

    The four leading chip and electronics makers will help market and test a standard to wire together computers, TVs and entertainment systems using electricity, phone and coaxial cable lines that already exist in most homes, they said on Tuesday.

    They hope the first products using the new standard will be on the market in about a year.

    Consumer electronics and computer makers have long talked of the so-called digital home, in which entertainment appliances and PCs are linked and typically controlled from the computer, making it easy to share digital media content between devices.

    But a lack of common standards between makers of these devices has held back progress.

    There is already a common wireless standard to link home devices using Wi-Fi. Wired networks often have the advantage of being more stable and having more capacity, and the building blocks for the infrastructure already exist in most homes.

    "Powerline is the most ubiquitous technology in the world. You have powerlines to almost every house in the world," Intel's Matt Theall, president of the new HomeGrid Forum ( said on a conference call.

    "There's a huge market potentially for this type of technology. It can be embedded in DVD players, TVs, PCs, speakers -- any home entertainment device."

    The four leading members of the HomeGrid Forum ( said they would work with the International Telecommunications Union to promote, test and contribute to a standard the ITU is already working on, called ITU-T

    Their role will be similar to that played by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which helped promote an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) wireless standard and has certified thousands of products for wireless local area networks (WLANs).

    The HomeGrid Forum has seven other founding members: Aware <AWRE.O>, DS2, Pulse Link, Ikanos <IKAN.O>, Sigma Designs <SIGM.O>, Westell <WSTL.O> and Gigle Semiconductor.

    Intel, Infineon, Texas Instruments and Panasonic -- who will serve on the board of directors -- said they were recruiting additional members among chipmakers, service providers and makers of consumer electronics and personal computers.

    (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Cowell)

    Sunday, April 27, 2008

    Reuters - Urban miners look for precious metals in cell phones

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    Urban miners look for precious metals in cell phones

    Sunday, Apr 27, 2008 7:30AM UTC

    By Miho Yoshikawa

    HONJO, Japan (Reuters) - Thinking of throwing out your old cell phone? Think again. Maybe you should mine it first for gold, silver, copper and a host of other metals embedded in the electronics -- many of which are enjoying near-record prices.

    It's called "urban mining", scavenging through the scrap metal in old electronic products in search of such gems as iridium and gold, and it is a growth industry around the world as metal prices skyrocket.

    The materials recovered are reused in new electronics parts and the gold and other precious metals are melted down and sold as ingots to jewelers and investors as well as back to manufacturers who use gold in the circuit boards of mobile phones because gold conducts electricity even better than copper.

    "It can be precious or minor metals, we want to recycle whatever we can," said Tadahiko Sekigawa, president of Eco-System Recycling Co which is owned by Dowa Holdings Co Ltd.

    A tonne of ore from a gold mine produces just 5 grams (0.18 ounce) of gold on average, whereas a tonne of discarded mobile phones can yield 150 grams (5.3 ounce) or more, according to a study by Yokohama Metal Co Ltd, another recycling firm.

    The same volume of discarded mobile phones also contains around 100 kg (220 lb) of copper and 3 kg (6.6 lb) of silver, among other metals.

    Recycling has gained in importance as metals prices hit record highs. Gold is trading at around $890 an ounce, after hitting a historic high of $1,030.80 in March.

    Copper and tin are also around record highs and silver prices are well above long term averages.


    Recycling electronics makes sense for Japan which has few natural resources to feed its billion dollar electronics industry but does have tens of millions of old cell phones and other obsolete consumer electronic gadgets thrown away every year.

    "To some it's just a mountain of garbage, but for others it's a gold mine," said Nozomu Yamanaka, manager of the Eco-Systems recycling plant where mounds of discarded cell phones and other electronics gadgets are taken apart for their metal value.

    At the factory in Honjo, 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Tokyo, 34-year-old Susumu Arai harvests some of that bounty.

    A ribbon of molten gold flows into a mould where it sizzles and spits fire for a few minutes before solidifying into a dull yellow slab, on its way to becoming a 3 kg (6.6 lb) gold bar, worth around $90,000 at current prices.

    Wearing plastic goggles to protect his eyes while he works, Arai said he was awestruck when he started his job two years ago.

    "Now I find it fun being able to recover not just gold, but all sorts of metals," he said.

    The scrap electronics and other industrial waste is first sorted and dismantled by hand. It is then immersed in chemicals to dissolve unwanted materials and the remaining metal is refined.

    Eco-System, established 20 years ago near Tokyo, typically produces about 200-300 kg (440-660 lb) of gold bars a month with a 99.99 percent purity, worth about $5.9 million to $8.8 million.

    That's about the same output as a small gold mine.

    Eco-System also recovers metals from old memory chips, cables and even black ink which contain silver and palladium.


    But despite growing interest in the environment and recycling, the industry struggles to get enough old mobile phones to feed its recycling plants.

    Japan's 128 million population uses their cell phones for an average of two years and eight months.

    That's a lot of cell phone phones discarded every year, yet only 10-20 percent are recycled as people often opt to store them in their cupboards due to concerns about the personal data on their phones, said Yoshinori Yajima, a director at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

    Just 558 tonnes of old phones were collected for recycling in the year to March 2007, down a third from three years earlier, industry figures show.

    As metals prices rise, the Japanese industry faces growing competition for scrap, which is pushing up prices.

    "We are seeing more competition from Chinese firms, and naturally the goods go where the money is," Dowa's Takashi Morise said.

    In response, Japanese firms are importing used circuit boards from Singapore and Indonesia, as they also contain valuable minor metals that Japan is particularly eager to recover.

    These minor metals such as indium, a vital component in the production of flat panel televisions and computer screens, antimony and bismuth are indispensable for producing many high-tech products.

    However, they are often not easy to acquire as China has tightened export controls, making it harder for Japanese manufacturers to buy these metals.

    That's where the "urban miners" step in.

    "Our wish is to be able to help Japanese manufacturers that need these metals," Eco-System President Sekigawa said.

    (Editing by Nick Trevethan and Megan Goldin)

    ($1=101.96 Yen)

    Friday, April 25, 2008

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    Reuters - Yahoo to expand data sharing among friends online

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    Yahoo to expand data sharing among friends online

    Friday, Apr 25, 2008 8:16AM UTC

    By Eric Auchard

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc is working to rewire the dozens of services across its site so that users can manage all information about themselves in a single place and share it with friends across the Web.

    "We are not building another social network," Chief Technology Officer Ari Balogh told more than 1,000 attendees at the Web 2.0 Expo conference in San Francisco on Thursday. "We are building social into everything we do."

    The effort is part of a larger plan to make it easier for users to share information about themselves with other Yahoo users and on websites that run applications using Yahoo features, seeking to help the world's biggest Internet media company keep pace with social networks like Facebook and MySpace.

    Yahoo is spelling out this evolving strategy in the face of Microsoft Corp's looming, $44 billion unsolicited takeover offer.

    Microsoft has set a deadline of Saturday for Yahoo to agree to a deal on those terms or face a hostile takeover campaign. The software giant said on Thursday it will announce whether it plans to proceed with a deal or pull out next week.

    Unified user profiles and the effort to make it easier for users to share information with their friends is part of the company's broader "Yahoo Open Strategy" due out later this year, Balogh said. The plan would give users simple privacy controls to decide what data they reveal about themselves.

    "We are going to unify all profiles throughout Yahoo," said Balogh, whose appointment as Yahoo's CTO was announced on January 29, a day before Microsoft first proposed its $31 per share cash and stock offer to merge with Yahoo.


    Balogh estimated there are more than 10 billion latent social connections that exist between Yahoo's 500 million monthly users in the form of e-mail addresses, instant message buddy lists, address books and other shared connections.

    Yahoo aims to make it easier for users to share information via their established social ties, while protecting privacy by not inviting unintended disclosure of personal details. It will provide a single console for users to manage this data.

    "Right now you manage different bits of personal information in different places and to some extent it is a fragmented user experience," Neal Sample, chief technical architect of Yahoo's Open Strategy said in an interview.

    Yahoo has been discussing pieces of the strategy to be more open since last September. The details released on Thursday marked the fullest discussion company officials have made so far of its plans to rewire Yahoo from the inside out, both in terms of underlying technical structure and user controls.

    "Social is not a destination -- it's a dimension and it will infuse all aspects of a consumer's experience on the Web," Balogh said.

    Yahoo was early to embrace the social media trend, where users share details of their lives with selected friends online, by acquiring companies such as photo-sharing site Flickr in 2005, but has fallen behind in recent years.

    Because Yahoo is seeking first to woo independent software and Web services developers to support its open strategy, it could be 2009 before mainstream consumers gain access to the new services, Balogh said, in response to reporters questions.

    It plans to fold various previous efforts at social networking applications -- MyYahoo, Mash, and existing user profiles -- into the new profile application that will enhance the use of features within both Yahoo and other sites.

    "It will be interesting to see how quickly the other players -- like Google, Microsoft, MySpace, and Facebook -- answer the challenge that Yahoo has set down," Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li wrote in a blog post.

    "I don't think it's a matter of if, but rather, a question of when," she wrote at

    (Editing by Quentin Bryar)

    CNN - Police not guilty in groom's death

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    Police not guilty in groom's death

    A judge acquitted three New York Police Department detectives of all charges Friday morning in the shooting death of an unarmed man in a 50-bullet barrage, hours before he was to be married.

    Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora were found not guilty of charges of manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment in the death of Sean Bell, 23, and the wounding of two of his friends.

    Detective Marc Cooper was acquitted of reckless endangerment.

    Justice Arthur Cooperman said he found problems with the prosecution's case. He said some prosecution witnesses contradicted themselves, and he cited prior convictions and incarcerations of witnesses.

    He also cited the demeanor of some witnesses on the stand.

    As the judge read his decision, Nicole Paultre Bell -- Sean Bell's fiancee before his death -- ran from the courtroom, saying, "I've got to get out of here."

    The announcement immediately sparked anger among some in the crowd outside the courthouse, but the protests were generally orderly.

    One woman shouted at a black police officer, "How can you be proud to wear that uniform? Stand down! Stop working for the masters!" Sean Bell was black.

    Patrick Lynch, president of the New York Police Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said "there's no winners, there's no losers" in the case.

    "We still have a death that occurred. We still have police officers that have to live with the fact that there was a death involved in their case," Lynch said.

    But, he added, the verdict assured police officers that they will be treated fairly in New York's courts.

    "This case was not about justice," said Leroy Gadsden, chair of the police/community relations committee of the Jamaica Branch NAACP. "This case was about the police having a right to be above the law. If the law was in effect here, if the judge had followed the law truly, these officers would have been found guilty. ...

    "This court, unfortunately, is bankrupt when it comes to justice for people of color."

    The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been advising Bell's fiancee and family, left the courthouse about an hour after the verdict without making a public statement. He had called for calm Wednesday.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement saying, "An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father, and a mother and a father lost their son. No verdict could ever end the grief that those who knew and loved Sean Bell suffer."

    However, he said, the legal system must be respected.

    "America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority."

    Bloomberg also said he had spoken briefly with Paultre Bell on Wednesday and agreed with her on the need to ensure similar incidents would not occur in the future.

    Bell, 23, was killed just before dawn on his wedding day, November 25, 2006. He and several friends were winding up an all-night bachelor party at the Kalua Club in Queens, a strip club that was under investigation by a NYPD undercover unit looking into complaints of guns, drugs and prostitution.

    Undercover detectives were inside the club, and plainclothes officers were stationed outside.

    Witnesses said that about 4 a.m., closing time, as Bell and his friends left the club, an argument broke out. Believing that one of Bell's friends, Joseph Guzman, was going to get a gun from Bell's car, one of the undercover detectives followed the men and called for backup.

    What happened next was at the heart of the trial, prosecuted by the assistant district attorney in Queens.

    Bell, Guzman and Trent Benefield got into the car, with Bell at the wheel. The detectives drew their weapons, said Guzman and Benefield, who testified that they never heard the plainclothes detectives identify themselves as police.

    Bell was in a panic to get away from the armed men, his friends testified.

    But the detectives thought Bell was trying to run down one of them, according to their lawyers, believed that their lives were in danger and started shooting.

    In a frantic 911 call, police can be heard saying, "Shots fired. Undercover units involved."

    A total of 50 bullets were fired by five NYPD officers. Only three were charged with crimes.

    Oliver, who reloaded his semiautomatic in the middle of the fray, fired 31 times, Isnora fired 11 times, and Cooper, whose leg was brushed by Bell's moving car, fired four times, the NYPD said.

    No gun was found near Bell or his friends.

    Soon after his death, Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre, legally changed her name to Nicole Paultre Bell. She is raising the couple's two daughters, ages 5 and 1.

    "I tell [them] that Daddy's in heaven now," she said. "He's watching over us. He's our guardian angel. He's going to be here to protect us and make sure nothing happens to us."

    Detectives Endowment Association President Michael Palladino said forensic and scientific evidence presented during the seven-week trial contradicts the testimony of prosecution witnesses.

    But Paultre Bell's father, Lester Paultre, said, "For those naysayers who say the police was doing their job, they should imagine their child in that car being shot by the police for no reason."

    Paultre Bell, Guzman and Benefield have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court that has been stayed pending the outcome of the criminal trial. Guzman was shot 16 times, and four bullets, too dangerous to remove, remain in his body, according to his lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein.

    Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York have been monitoring the trial. In the event of an acquittal, it is likely authorities would conduct a review to determine whether there were any civil rights violations.

    Thursday, April 24, 2008


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    Reuters - China becomes world's largest Internet population

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    China becomes world's largest Internet population

    Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 10:17AM UTC

    BEIJING (Reuters) - China has surpassed the United States to become the world's largest Internet-using population, reaching 221 million by the end of February, state media said on Thursday.

    The number of Internet users in China was 210 million at the end of last year, only 5 million fewer than the U.S. Internet users then, Xinhua news agency said, quoting the China Internet Network Information Centre.

    "Despite a rapidly increasing Internet population, the proportion of Internet users among the total population was still lower than the global average level," Xinhua quoted the Information Ministry as saying.

    The proportion was 16 percent at the end of 2007, compared with 19.1 percent for the world average.

    Internet censorship is common in China, where the government employs an elaborate system of filters and tens of thousands of human monitors to survey surfing habits, surgically clipping sensitive content.

    But the Internet has most recently become an important tool in countering anti-China protest dogging the Olympic torch relay with an outpouring of nationalism and indignation.

    (Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by David Fox)

    CNN - Texas tries to ease polygamist kids' culture shock

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    Texas tries to ease polygamist kids' culture shock

    Many of the children have seen little or no television. They have been essentially home-schooled all their lives. Most were raised on garden-grown vegetables and twice-daily prayers with family. They frolic in long dresses and buttoned-up shirts from another century. They are unfailingly polite.

    The 437 children taken from the polygamist compound in West Texas are being scattered to group homes and boys' and girls' ranches across the state, plunged into a culture radically different from the community where they and their families shunned the outside world as a hostile, contaminating influence on their godly way of life.

    The state Child Protective Services program said it chose foster homes where the youngsters can be kept apart from other children for now.

    "We recognize it's critical that these children not be exposed to mainstream culture too quickly or other things that would hinder their success," agency spokeswoman Shari Pulliam said. "We just want to protect them from abuse and neglect. We're not trying to change them."

    The children were swept up in a raid earlier this month on the Yearning for Zion Ranch run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a renegade Mormon splinter group that believes in marrying teen girls to older men. State child-welfare authorities said there was evidence of physical and sexual abuse at the ranch.

    The youngsters are being moved out of the crowded San Angelo Coliseum and will be placed in 16 temporary facilities around Texas -- some as far away as Houston, 500 miles off -- until individual custody hearings can be held.

    Those hearings could result in a number of possibilities: Some children could be placed in permanent foster care; some parents who have left the sect may win custody; some youngsters may be allowed to return to the ranch in Eldorado; and some may turn 18 before the case is complete and will be allowed to choose their own fates.

    Several attorneys for FLDS children called Wednesday for custody cases to be spread out among family law courts across Texas -- venue changes that, they acknowledged, would likely require authorization from the Texas Supreme Court.

    "It's one court that's bogged down with 437 children. There is no possible way that my client's needs ... can be addressed in a timely fashion," said attorney Laura Shockley at a Dallas news conference.

    Children raised on the FLDS compound wear pioneer-style dress and keep their hair pinned up in braids, reflecting their standards of modesty. For the same reason, they have little knowledge of pop culture. They pray twice a day. They tend vegetable gardens and raise dairy cows, and eat fresh food. And they are exceedingly polite, always saying "please" and "thank you."

    In contrast, many other children in foster care have a certain worldly swagger, and are there because they have used drugs or committed other crimes.

    Experts and lawyers say foster care will change the sect children.

    "These children who have lived in a very insular culture and are suddenly thrust into mainstream culture. There's going to be problems," said Susan Hays, who represents a toddler in the custody case. "They are a throwback to the 19th century in how they dress and how they behave."

    Ken Driggs, an Atlanta, Georgia, lawyer who has long studied and written about the FLDS, said if kept away from their parents' culture long enough, the children may begin to emulate those around them.

    Pulliam said the temporary foster care facilities have been briefed on the children's needs. "We're not going to have them in tank tops and shorts," she said.

    Authorities will try to obtain the youngsters' traditional clothing from their parents, and also arrange for visits from some of the adults, state attorney Gary Banks said.

    In addition, CPS has sent instructions to the foster homes to feed the youngsters fresh fruits and vegetables, chicken, rice and other foods that may have been grown on the 1,700-acre ranch.

    "They don't eat a lot of processed food and we're not going to encourage that," Pulliam said, but noted that if the children want to eat processed or junk food, no one is going to stop them.

    Those who cling to the old traditions may pose another problem for the state -- they might run away. Driggs said polygamists' children have fled foster homes before because "they want to go home, and they want to go to people and circumstances they're used to."

    The children have been educated in a schoolhouse on the compound using a home-school curriculum and may be ahead of public-school students their ages, lawyers said.

    Hays and Pulliam said the children will continue to be home-schooled by the temporary foster-care providers instead of being thrown into big schools, where they could be bullied because of their differences.

    While their diets, dress and prayers can be accommodated with a little planning, other experts said their emotional needs may be trickier to deal with.

    Dr. Bruce Perry, a child psychiatrist who testified for the children last week, said FLDS children may be easily taken advantage of by outsiders because of the strict control church leaders have had over their daily lives.

    People who have left the sect "felt emotionally incapable of decision-making," he said.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    USA TODAY - Beetle outbreak is altering carbon balance in forests

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    By Catherine Tsai, Associated Press Writer

    An outbreak of mountain pine beetles in British Columbia is doing more than destroying millions of trees: By 2020, the beetles will have done so much damage that the forest is expected to release more carbon dioxide than it absorbs, according to new research.

    The study, led by Werner Kurz of the Canadian Forest Service, estimates that over 21 years trees killed by the beetle outbreak could release nearly 990 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere roughly equivalent to five years of emissions from Canada's transportation sector.

    The outbreak has affected about 33 million acres, or about 51,562 square miles, of lodgepole pines. Bark beetles also have killed huge swaths of pines in the western USA, including about 2,300 square miles of trees in Colorado.

    INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: How global warming occursRELATED STORY: Greenhouse gases continue increase

    "When trees are killed, they no longer are able to take carbon from the atmosphere. Then when dead trees start to decompose, that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," Kurz said.

    That could exacerbate global warming that contributed to the outbreaks in the first place. Warmer temperatures have allowed beetles to survive farther north and at higher elevations.

    "This is the kind of feedback we're all very worried about in the carbon cycle a warming planet leading to, in this case, an insect outbreak that increases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which can increase warming," said Andy Jacobson, a carbon cycle scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado.

    Boreal forests in Canada generally have been steady "carbon sinks," absorbing more carbon dioxide than they emit. Kurz's team expects the forest it studied to recover, but says that even by 2020 it may not be the carbon sink it previously was.

    "This long-term effect, personally I find it frightening," said Jacobson, who was not involved in the study, which is being published this week in the journal Nature.

    Using computer models, Kurz's team estimated that the maximum annual beetle impact in the study area in south-central British Columbia was 20 megatons of carbon. Forest fires in all of Canada produce an average of 27 megatons per year.

    Kurz's team says the effect of pine beetles and other insects is significant and should be included in models of how much atmospheric carbon the world's forests can store.

    "Many other insects also impact the forest carbon cycle," Kurz said. While outbreaks of other insects such as spruce beetles may be much smaller, their cumulative effect is significant, he said.

    "If events such as this occur in other geographic parts of the world, then they really ought to be accounted for," Kurz said.

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    CNN - Lawmakers back bill to ban genetic discrimination at work

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    Lawmakers back bill to ban genetic discrimination at work

    Lawmakers have agreed to make it illegal for employers and insurance companies to deny applicants jobs and health care coverage because DNA tests show they are genetically disposed to a disease.

    Supporters of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act said Wednesday that the Senate planned to vote on it Thursday. The House also is likely to give quick approval to the bill, sending it to President Bush for his signature.

    A similar bill passed the House by a 420-3 vote a year ago. The White House, at the time, indicated its support for the legislation.

    Sponsors reached an agreement Tuesday with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who had been blocking Senate action on the bill.

    The compromise tightens language to ensure there is a "firewall" between the part dealing with health plans and the section regarding employment so as to discourage inappropriate claims.

    It also makes clear that, while individuals are protected from discrimination based on genetic predisposition, insurance companies still have the right to base coverage and pricing on the actual presence of a disease.

    Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts; and Reps. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, and Louise Slaughter, D-New York, have been pushing the issue for years, asserting that dramatic advances in genetic research make it crucial that people are protected from discrimination.

    Snowe noted that nearly 32 percent of women offered a genetic test for breast cancer risk by the National Institutes of Health declined because of concerns about health insurance discrimination.

    "Like discrimination based on race and gender, genetic discrimination is based on the unchangeable and -- because the information must be sought out by the offender -- is equally offensive," she said.

    Kennedy said the bill will "unlock the extraordinary potential of this new era of the life sciences."

    The legislation forbids sponsors of health coverage from requesting or using genetic information to adjust premiums or to determine eligibility.

    It would prohibit employers from using genetic information in hiring, firing, assignment or promotion decisions.

    The Senate unanimously passed versions in 2003 and 2005, but the House didn't take up the issue until last year, when Democrats took control of both houses.

    Slaughter said she had introduced the first version of the legislation 13 years ago. "Since no one is born with perfect genes, each one of us is a potential victim of genetic discrimination," she said.

    Sharon Terry, president of the advocacy group the Coalition for Genetic Fairness, said that when she started working on the issue 13 years ago, there were only a few single-gene disorders in play. Now, she said, genetic information is essential to research major diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease or afflictions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

    She said there are many people, such as those with colon cancer in their families, who want to enroll in clinical studies but don't because of fear of discrimination. "They call us with lots of heartbreaking stories, and they are not willing to go public with those stories," she said.

    Reuters - Justice Dept looking at Google/Yahoo test

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    Justice Dept looking at Google/Yahoo test

    Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 11:9PM UTC

    By Diane Bartz

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is investigating possible antitrust implications of Google's two-week test with Yahoo to combine some of their Web search and advertising business, a source informed about the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

    Google and Yahoo separately told Reuters they had informed the Justice Department about their test before it was launched.

    In the test, which ends this week, Yahoo uses Google's advertising system to show ads to Yahoo users based on their searches.

    The Justice Department is concerned the test may violate antitrust law, the source said, adding that authorities "have initiated an investigation" of it.

    The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some of the government's concern focused on a telephone call from Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt to Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang to offer help in thwarting Microsoft's bid worth around $44 billion.

    The test was one of a series of efforts by Yahoo to fend off Microsoft's unwelcome bid.

    A second source said the Justice Department was concerned about a longer-term deal between Google and Yahoo, and had an initial inquiry underway into the matter.

    A Justice Department spokeswoman would only say that the department was "aware of the collaboration."

    Neither Google nor Yahoo has said whether the two-week test will be extended.

    "We informed the Justice Department before we launched this test and we have been responsive to their questions about it," said Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich.

    Yahoo spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said: "Yahoo proactively kept the Department of Justice informed of its intentions to conduct this limited test with Google and have provided information to DOJ on the nature of the test."

    Microsoft declined to comment.

    Google shares closed down 1.5 percent to $546.49 in regular trading on Wednesday, while Yahoo, which posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, finished down 1.6 percent to $28.08, both on Nasdaq.

    Microsoft shares gained 4 percent to $31.45.


    The initial Google and Yahoo test is small, covering only 3 percent of Web searches performed on Yahoo, the companies have said.

    Google is the top search engine with 63 percent of searches, and No. 2 Yahoo has 17 percent, a combined 80 percent of the market, according to ratings company Hitwise.

    Philip Bromiley, who teaches law at the University of California at Irvine, said that kind of clout meant that companies could sharply raise prices.

    "Any industry, when you start to see that kind of figure, you're going to have antitrust arguments," he said.

    Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday that Yahoo was still in separate talks with News Corp and Time Warner Inc about other types of deals -- all designed to avoid a Microsoft takeover.

    Microsoft is prepared to walk away from its bid for Yahoo Inc if the two sides can't agree on a price, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said in Italy on Wednesday.

    "We think the best way to move forward quickly is to come together with Yahoo," Ballmer said. "Hopefully that works. But if it doesn't, we go forward."

    Ballmer has set a Saturday deadline for Yahoo's board to accept a deal with Microsoft or face a lower bid that Microsoft would take directly to Yahoo's shareholders. Yahoo's board of directors says Microsoft's cash-and-stock offer is too low.

    Yahoo President Susan Decker told Wall Street analysts in a conference call on Tuesday that it was too early to say whether Yahoo would reach a deal to turn over some part of the company's Web search advertising business to rival-turned-Microsoft-counterweight Google.

    "It's premature to speculate on what options we may ultimately pursue or whether some form of arrangement might result," Decker said.

    (Reporting by Diane Bartz and Eric Auchard; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

    Reuters - IBM to unveil new computer for big data centers: report

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    IBM to unveil new computer for big data centers: report

    Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 1:26PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - International Business Machines Corp <IBM.N> plans to unveil a new type of computer for big data hubs operated by so-called Web 2.0 companies, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

    IBM's iDataPlex line is due for sale next month and is meant for companies that buy vertical racks with dozens of servers based on Intel microprocessors, the report said.

    The line is aimed at fewer than 1,000 customers worldwide, according to the Journal report.

    Early testers of the unit include Yahoo Inc <YHOO.O> and Tencent QQ, a Chinese company. IBM has deployed about 300 units for testing, and the vice president for its enterprise systems group, Jim Gargan, told the Journal he expected large sales.

    An IBM representative was not available immediately for comment.

    (Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman, editing by Will Waterman)

    Reuters - Microsoft links data on phones, PCs in "Live Mesh"

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    Microsoft links data on phones, PCs in "Live Mesh"

    Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 6:9PM UTC

    By Daisuke Wakabayashi

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp has begun testing technology that brings together a person's pictures, documents and other data scattered across a growing number of machines with the goal of allowing people to access their information from anywhere and at any time.

    Microsoft's "Live Mesh" program, which uses the Internet as a data hub, synchronizes files across computers, phones and other devices so a digital picture frame at home could show a picture minutes after it was taken by a cell phone.

    Initially the program will be limited to 10,000 U.S. testers and computers running its Windows operating system, but Microsoft said it plans to extend Live Mesh over the next few months to mobile phones, computers from Apple Inc and other devices connected to the Internet.

    The project is the brainchild of Ray Ozzie, who replaced Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as chief software architect, and underscores the company's carefully balanced online strategy, which aims to capitalize on the reach of the Internet without cannibalizing its cash cow software business.

    Microsoft, the dominant force in software that runs on a computer's local hard drive, has seen rivals like Google Inc and encroach on its turf with competitive offerings delivered over the Internet.

    "As our industry has evolved because of this Web-catalyzed services transformation, so too has Microsoft," Ozzie wrote in a memo being sent to the company's employees on Wednesday.

    Live Mesh embraces the industry trend toward "cloud computing" in which information is centrally stored on Web sites rather than on local devices, giving users easy access from any computer.

    Industry analysts said the product may signal a watershed moment within Microsoft to embrace a technology that the company viewed as a threat in the past.

    "We may be seeing signs of a Microsoft that is newly focused," said Jonathan Yarmis, a vice president and analyst at AMR Research. "This is exciting because it has as much to do with who is doing it as what Microsoft is doing."

    The software will also let friends and colleagues collaborate and share documents more easily. For example, if a shared document is changed on a work computer, those changes will be instantly updated and available on any device or computer that the user has registered with Live Mesh.

    Microsoft plans to release Live Mesh in a widely-available test, or "beta" version before the end of 2008.

    (Editing by Louise Heavens)

    The darknet

    Reuters - Web criminals fuel big rise in "trojans"

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    Web criminals fuel big rise in "trojans"

    Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 6:49PM UTC

    By Peter Griffiths

    LONDON (Reuters) - Cyber-criminals are behind a dramatic rise in stealthy programs called "trojans" that infect computers to sell rogue software, send unwanted email or steal personal data, a study has found.

    In a report released in London, Microsoft said the number of trojans removed from computers around the world in the second half of 2007 rose by 300 percent from the first half.

    The figure has risen so sharply because more computers are fitted with software that detects malicious programs and because criminals had come to see trojans as their "tool of choice", the report said.

    "The numbers have simply exploded, it's huge," said Vinny Gullotto, general manager of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center. "There is a lot of criminal intent there."

    Trojans can log keystrokes to gather passwords, send spam from private computers or harvest email addresses or personal information for criminal purposes.

    The most common family of trojans last year was "Win32/Zlob", a piece of malicious software, or malware, that people unwittingly download from the Internet.

    Its designers trick people into saving it by telling them they need a new piece of software to watch video online.

    Once installed, it bombards people with pop-up messages and bogus flashing warnings that their computer is infected.

    The messages say: "Your computer is infected! Windows has detected spyware infection. Click here to protect your computer."

    The trojan then sends adverts offering to sell rogue anti-spyware on sites that could expose customers to credit card fraud. Microsoft said the problem is global and linked to organized criminal gangs.

    "The majority (of trojans) come from the (United) States, China, Russia and South America," Gullotto said on the fringes of the Infosecurity Europe trade conference on Tuesday.

    Microsoft said the number of computers around the world that were made safe after being infected with trojans rose from one million in the second half of 2006 to 19 million in the second half of 2007.

    The report is online:

    (Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato)

    Apple buys chipmaker

    Apple buys chipmaker

    Reuters - Apple buying microchip designer P.A. Semi

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    Apple buying microchip designer P.A. Semi

    Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 6:51PM UTC

    By Scott Hillis

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc <AAPL.O> is buying P.A. Semi, a designer of low-power microchips, in a move that could bolster its ability to customize key parts for its iPhone, iPod and Macintosh product lines.

    The deal, first reported on the Forbes magazine Web site, was confirmed on Wednesday by Apple spokesman Steve Dowling, who declined to comment on financial terms or give details.

    "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally don't comment on their purpose or plans," Dowling said.

    Forbes said the transaction was valued at $278 million in cash. Officials at Santa Clara, California-based P.A. Semi were not immediately available to comment.

    Apple, based nearby in Cupertino, already employs many semiconductor experts who work closely with partners to customize chips to make its products stand apart, said Tim Bajarin, head of Creative Strategies, a consultancy.

    "Let's be clear. This has nothing to do with Apple wanting to get into semiconductors. This is purely the need to bulk up their system design teams to enhance their ability to work with third-party vendors," Bajarin said.

    Key Apple partners include Intel Corp <INTC.O>, which supplies the processors for Mac computers, and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS>, which makes the iPhone processor.

    But having a larger pool of chip expertise could come in handy if Apple contemplates moving into new product areas.

    "You can't count out the fact that if you have this level of capability, you could expand into potentially other types of products," Bajarin said. "It gives them a lot more flexibility to be innovative in the future."

    P.A. Semi, which launched its first products in late 2005, has a family of chips based on the Power architecture from IBM <IBM.N> but that use far less electricity than other designs.

    P.A. Semi said its chips could be used in everything from printers to video game systems to supercomputers. It is a "fabless" chip company, meaning it uses contract manufacturers and does not own its own production facilities.

    Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64, said P.A. Semi's existing chips were targeted at high-performance computers and would not be suitable for mobile devices.

    "Maybe Apple just needed the people, but out of a couple hundred people at P.A. Semi, maybe 100 would have skills Apple could deploy in other areas. That's $2.7 million per person, which is a very high headhunter fee."

    Apple shares rose 1.8 percent to $163 in afternoon trading on Nasdaq, ahead of the company's quarterly earnings announcement after the market close.

    (Additional reporting Yinka Adegoke in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Braden Reddall)

    Reuters - Google introduces brand-image ads for phones

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    Google introduces brand-image ads for phones

    Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 10:50PM UTC

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc said on Wednesday it has introduced brand-image ads for mobile phones, in a bid to extend beyond the computer-based Web market into the emerging market for advertising on phones.

    In a statement on the Silicon Valley company's Web site, the company said it had designed mobile images to look like standard graphical display ads for desktop computer Web pages, but made them smaller to fit on mobile phone screens.

    The company said all mobile image ads are targeted according to the keywords users type into phones to search for information. The ads are priced on a cost-per-click basis, and must link to Web pages optimized to work on mobile phones.

    Only one image ad is displayed on each mobile page, a move to that appears designed to limit clutter on small screens.

    "For advertisers, mobile image ads serve as a branding tool and have shown to have good click-through rates," Alexandra Kenin, a product marketing manager, for Google Mobile Ads said in a blog post on the company's site.

    Mobile image ads are available in 13 national markets: Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the UK, and the United States, Google said.

    (Reporting by Eric Auchard; Editing by Carol Bishopric)

    Reuters - Clinton says she can win White House for Democrats

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    Clinton says she can win White House for Democrats

    Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 10:4PM UTC

    By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama entered the final phase of an increasingly nasty U.S. presidential fight on Wednesday, with Clinton saying her decisive Pennsylvania win proved she was the best candidate to lead the Democrats back to the White House.

    Clinton's victory boosted her depleted bank account and gave new hope to her struggling campaign, but the New York senator still faced a nearly impossible task trying to overcome Obama's lead in pledged delegates who will help pick the Democratic presidential nominee at the party's convention in August.

    Clinton said Obama's failure to knock her out of the race, despite outspending her in Pennsylvania more than 2-to-1, cast doubt on his ability to capture the big states Democrats need in November's election race against Republican John McCain.

    "I've won the states we have to win -- Ohio, now Pennsylvania," Clinton told CNN. "If you look at the broad base of support that I have accumulated, it really is the foundation on which we build our victory come the fall."

    Both Democratic candidates looked to the next round of contests on May 6 in North Carolina, where Obama is favored, and Indiana, which is considered a toss-up. The two states have a combined 187 delegates at stake.

    Obama said he would battle through the final nine contests ending on June 3 and then make his case to the party's undecided superdelegates who are likely to decide the Democratic presidential nominee.

    "Once we have I think a pretty strong case to make that we've won more delegates, we've won more states, we've won more votes, then it will be apparent that we'll be in the strongest position to win in November," the Illinois senator told reporters in New Albany, Indiana.

    With more than 99 percent of the vote counted, Clinton led Obama in Pennsylvania 54.6 percent to 45.4 percent, the state's elections division said.

    The win paid immediate financial dividends for Clinton, who by midday had raised $5 million since the polls closed on Tuesday and was aiming for another $5 million more by the end of the day, aides said. Clinton's campaign had more than $10 million in debts at the end of March.

    "I would welcome a contribution because we are being outspent," Clinton told supporters in Indianapolis. "It's a tremendous challenge to get your message out when you're being outspent in that way."


    An MSNBC count showed Clinton sliced Obama's national delegate lead by nine in Pennsylvania. Obama now has 1,726 delegates to Clinton's 1,593, short of the 2,024 needed to clinch the nomination.

    Neither candidate can win without help from superdelegates -- nearly 800 party insiders who are free to support either Obama or Clinton. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said he expected those superdelegates to move toward the winner and end the nomination fight sometime after June 3.

    "You're going to see the superdelegates make a decision shortly after that," he said.

    Clinton hopes a strong run through the last contests brings her closer in delegates won and votes cast and convinces those superdelegates she is the Democrat who can beat McCain.

    Both candidates picked up new superdelegate support on Wednesday, with U.S. Rep. John Tanner of Tennessee backing Clinton and Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry supporting Obama.

    Democrats have become increasingly worried about the negative tone of the race, and exit polls showed Pennsylvania voters shared the concern.

    About two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters thought Clinton unfairly attacked Obama, while about half thought Obama had unfairly attacked Clinton, the polls showed.

    But Clinton won 58 percent of those who decided in the last week, when Obama was on the defensive in a debate over a series of campaign controversies and Clinton questioned his toughness in an ad featuring images of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

    "I know that people like to talk tough and use a lot of rhetoric about fighting and obliterating and all that stuff," Obama said. "I've always believed that if you're tough you don't have to talk about it."

    The North Carolina Republican Party launched an ad in the state criticizing Obama and his controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who has come under fire for inflammatory views including saying the U.S. government spread the AIDS virus to blacks.

    McCain asked the state party to withdraw the ad, which also criticized Democratic North Carolina candidates for governor Beverly Perdue and Richard Moore for their endorsements of Obama and called him "too extreme for North Carolina."

    Obama and Clinton both campaigned in Indiana on Wednesday before heading back to Washington for a Senate vote.

    (Additional reporting by Donna Smith, Andy Sullivan, Caren Bohan and David Morgan; Editing by David Wiessler)

    (To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at http:/

    CNN - Criminals target energy, financial markets, Mukasey says

    Sent from's mobile device from

    Criminals target energy, financial markets, Mukasey says

    Attorney General Michael Mukasey warned Wednesday that organized criminal networks have penetrated portions of the international energy market and tried to control energy resources.

    In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, he said similar efforts have targeted the international financial system by injecting billions of illicit funds to try to corrupt financial service providers.

    Mukasey then vowed to beef up U.S. efforts to fight international organized crime, which he called a growing threat to U.S. security and stability.

    The attorney general and top law enforcement officials from the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Justice Department Criminal Division said a classified threat assessment prompted the creation of a strategy to combat the threat.

    It calls for several U.S. agencies and their overseas counterparts to better prioritize their targets, to improve information sharing and to boost cooperation in law enforcement investigations and operations.

    "The activities of transnational and national organized criminal enterprises are increasing in scope and magnitude as these groups continue to strengthen their networking with each other to expand their operations," said FBI Deputy Director John Pistole.

    Officials declined to discuss specific cases because the information remains classified, and disclosure could jeopardize ongoing investigations.

    However, the International Organized Crime Threat Assessment identified eight general strategic threats from international organized criminals:

    ? The penetration of the energy market and other strategic sectors of the U.S. and world economy. As U.S. energy needs continue to grow, so, too, could the power of those who control energy resources.

    ? Providing logistical and other support to terrorists, foreign intelligence services and foreign governments, all with interests harmful to those of U.S. national security.

    ? The trafficking in people and contraband goods, bringing people and products through U.S. borders to the detriment of border security, the U.S. economy, and the health and lives of those exploited.

    ? The exploitation of the U.S. and international financial system to move illegal profits and funds, including sending billions in illicit funds through the U.S. financial system each year. To continue this practice, they seek to corrupt financial service providers globally.

    ? The use of cyberspace to target U.S. victims and infrastructure, jeopardizing the security of personal information, the stability of business and government infrastructures and the security and solvency of financial investment markets.

    ? The manipulation of securities exchanges and engaging in sophisticated fraud schemes that rob U.S. investors, consumers and government agencies of billions of dollars.

    ? The successful corruption of public officials around the world, including countries of vital strategic importance to the United States, and continuing efforts to find ways to influence -- legally or illegally -- U.S. officials.

    ? The use of violence and the threat of violence as a basis of power.

    Its not can u but should u

    This mobile text message is brought to you by AT&T

    Saturday, April 19, 2008


    See that shit

    Reuters - MPAA accuses of aiding movie piracy

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    MPAA accuses of aiding movie piracy

    Friday, Apr 18, 2008 12:37AM UTC

    By Gina Keating

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Motion Picture Association of America on Thursday sued, a Web site featuring links to free -- and allegedly pirated -- movies and TV shows, claiming the site promotes and profits from copyright infringement.

    The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles federal court, is the seventh action filed by the MPAA against content aggregators in the United States since late last year and is part of a larger anti-piracy campaign that included a criminal raid on the UK headquarters of one such site, TV Links.

    The campaign against sites that link to, but do not host, illegal content has raised some eyebrows with critics asking why the association doesn't go after the host sites or Internet search engines such as, which owns video sharing site

    "Is the message that it's less criminal to host illegal content on YouTube than it is to link to it from a site such as TV Links?" Guardian technology columnist Jack Schofield wrote in the wake of the MPAA-directed raid on TV Links in October. "In future, do I risk being thrown in the slammer for linking directly to a YouTube video?"

    The MPAA, which represents Hollywood's major studios in government affairs, has obtained settlements or resolutions in the six other cases against Web aggregators of video content. It plans to continue its aggressive pursuit of new sites using "a variety of techniques" to force them to hand back profits made from advertising, anti-piracy director John Malcolm said.

    The association has talked with Google and other search engines, as well as Chinese user-generated content sites that host many of the videos, to try to have traffic directed away from the infringing content and to have it taken down quicker, Malcolm said.

    "We think these companies are good corporate actors (and) we engage with them in other ways," Malcolm said. "You can't equate a legitimate search vendor ... with somebody who is making a lot of money off the backs of creative artists."

    The MPAA says piracy, including Web postings of camcorded and unlicensed content, cost the U.S. film industry $18.2 billion in lost profits in 2005, including $7 billion from Internet piracy. sees 12,000 visitors a day who view more than 39,000 pages of content, including movies that are still in theaters and cable television shows.

    The site recently featured links to streamed copies of the feature films "Stop-Loss," "21" and "The Other Boleyn Girl", which have not yet been released to DVD, as well as the cable TV series "The Tudors," "Entourage," and "Rome" and many broadcast TV series.

    It also carried advertisements by online movie rental company Netflix Inc. A Netflix spokesman said the company buys its online ads in bulk and was not aware that one had ended up on

    Malcolm said the MPAA was exploring "the whole issue of (online) ad brokers" as another avenue for choking off revenue to illegal streaming and download sites.

    (Editing by Braden Reddall)

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Reuters - Suicide bomber kills 50 at Iraq funeral

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    Suicide bomber kills 50 at Iraq funeral

    Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 6:2PM UTC

    By Dean Yates

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber struck a funeral in northern Iraq on Thursday, killing 50 mourners and wounding 55 in an attack that suggests militants have launched a new campaign of violence in the north.

    Survivors said the funeral had been for two members of a U.S.-backed neighborhood security unit who were killed on Wednesday. Blame is likely to fall on the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, which has vowed to target the neighborhood units because they work with U.S. forces.

    The attack was one of the deadliest in Iraq for months and underscored the ability of militants to wreak havoc despite an overall fall in violence that has prompted the United States to start withdrawing troops from Iraq.

    Police said the bomber detonated a suicide vest after entering the funeral tent in a Sunni Arab village near the town of Adhaim in Diyala province. They put the final death toll at 50.

    "Suddenly a fireball filled the funeral tent. I fell to the ground. I saw bodies scattered everywhere," said mourner Ali Khalaf, who was taken to a hospital in the nearby town of Tuz Khurmato to have wounds treated.

    Outside a hospital in the northern city of Kirkuk, to which pickup trucks took many of the bodies, frantic relatives gathered to look for loves ones. Several women wearing black robes sat on the ground, wailing.

    Northern Iraq has seen an upsurge in bombings this week, including one that killed 40 people in the town of Baquba, capital of Diyala, on Tuesday.

    The U.S.-backed neighborhood security units, called "Concerned Local Citizens" by the U.S. military, have been credited with helping to bring down violence in Iraq.

    Around 90,000 men, mainly Sunni Arabs and including some former Sunni Arab insurgents who have turned against al Qaeda, have been recruited. They largely man checkpoints and provide intelligence tips to the U.S. military.

    In northern Baghdad, police sources said a roadside bomb killed four of the neighborhood guards and two civilians. Gunmen also killed another guard in the city's south.

    U.S. and Iraqi authorities say al Qaeda militants have moved into northern provinces after being pushed out of the westerly Anbar province, their former stronghold, and also Baghdad.

    Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in a speech in Brussels on Wednesday, said Iraq was "near to announcing victory over the terrorist organization al Qaeda".

    But U.S. commanders say that while al Qaeda has been significantly weakened, it can still carry out big attacks.


    In Baghdad, fighting has been dominated by weeks of clashes between gunmen and security forces in the Shi'ite slum of Sadr City, stronghold of the anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Fresh battles erupted overnight, officials said.

    U.S. military spokesman Major Mark Cheadle said five gunmen had been killed in the early hours of Thursday in three separate incidents, including an air strike.

    Hospitals in Sadr City said they had received nine bodies and 36 wounded after clashes and air strikes.

    Most U.S. troops in Iraq are deployed in Sunni Arab areas, which have become quieter in the past year after a "surge" in U.S. forces. But troop levels are being cut. By July, 20,000 U.S. soldiers will have left Iraq, bringing numbers to 140,000.

    Al Qaeda militants are frequently blamed for attacks on funerals, which are often held with little security. The group also has a history of striking with car bombs near government targets and civilian crowds.

    While the U.S. military says security has improved in the north, the strikes this week have been a reminder of the instability there at a time when attention has been focused on fighting in southern Shi'ite areas that erupted late last month.

    Polygamist commune escapee

    I'm not easy

    Charles Darwin

    Get to know me

    Reuters - Darwin's private papers get Internet launch

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    Darwin's private papers get Internet launch

    Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 6:56AM UTC

    By Jeremy Lovell

    LONDON (Reuters) - The first draft of Charles Darwin's "On The Origin Of Species" is among a wealth of papers belonging to the intensely private man who changed science being published on the Internet on Thursday for the first time.

    Comprising some 20,000 items and 90,000 images, the release on is the largest in history, according to the organizers from Cambridge University Library which holds all the Darwin papers.

    "This release makes his private papers, mountains of notes, experiments, and research behind his world-changing publications available to the world for free," said John van Wyhe, director of the project.

    "His publications have always been available in the public sphere - but these papers have until now only been accessible to scholars."

    The collection includes thousands of notes and drafts of his scientific writings, notes from the voyage of the Beagle when he began to formulate his controversial theory of evolution, and his first recorded doubts about the permanence of species.

    It also contains photographs of Darwin and his family, newspaper clippings, reviews of his books and much more.

    Giving a more personal insight, there is also his wife Emma's cookbook including recipes for delicacies such as 'Ilkley pudding' and a rudimentary recipe for boiling rice, written by Darwin himself.

    Other papers include caricatures and notes with his boyhood musings on birds.

    Publication in 1859 of Origin of Species after years of prevarication established Darwin -- already known to the public after publication of The Voyage of the Beagle -- as a leading scientific thinker.

    But it also sparked a major public debate and a bitter denunciation by the Church of England, which regarded the book as heretical.

    "Darwin changed our understanding of nature forever. His papers reveal how immensely detailed his researches were," said van Wyhe.

    "The release of his papers online marks a revolution in the public's access to - and hopefully appreciation of - one of the most important collections of primary materials in the history of science."

    (Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; editing by Paul Casciato)

    Reuters - Samsung boss indicted for tax evasion

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    Samsung boss indicted for tax evasion

    Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 9:28AM UTC

    By Jon Herskovitz and Rhee So-eui

    SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee was indicted on charges of tax evasion and breach of trust on Thursday, but was cleared of a more serious bribery charge after a probe into South Korea's biggest business group.

    Investors, relieved the four-month investigation had ended, said it may help bring transparency to the murky management structure at Samsung, bringing it closer to global standards.

    The investigation was launched in January after a former top legal executive at the group accused some of its top management of hiding money and keeping a slush fund of more than $200 million to bribe politicians, prosecutors and officials.

    A special prosecutor indicted nine other senior Samsung executives, but said Lee and the others would not be arrested.

    "The criminal acts subject to indictment today constituted grave crimes because the amount of tax evaded and profits taken by violation of duties were astronomical figures," the prosecutor said in its findings.

    Lee, 66, could face from five years to life in prison but analysts say he would likely escape prolonged jail time because judges have often been lenient towards corporate leaders convicted of wrongdoing, saying jailing them could hurt South Korea's economy.


    While the prosecutor cleared Samsung of the bribery allegations, he said group officials conspired to hide 4.5 trillion won ($4.55 billion) in Lee's assets and worked secretly to transfer wealth to Lee's children.

    In a statement, Samsung apologized "for causing concerns".

    "Taking this special prosecution investigation as a new starting point, Samsung is preparing reform plans, based on advice from various sectors of our society," it said, adding it would make an announcement on details next week.

    Shares in flagship Samsung companies retained strength after the indictments and analysts say the results of the probe may prompt the group to be more open. Samsung Electronics <005930.KS> which delayed release of its quarterly earning due to the probe, was up 1.54 percent to 661,000 won by 0700 GMT, leading the wider market's <.KS11> 0.57 percent gain.

    Kim Gee-soo an analyst at Goodmorning Shinhan securities noted the foreign stake in the Samsung Electronics, South Korea's biggest company and the group's flagship firm, had fallen due to a lack of transparency and questions of corporate governance.

    "The indictment is meaningful in that this may motivate the Samsung Group to become more transparent before the eyes of the investors," he said.

    Critics noted few changes over the years at the family-run conglomerates known as "chaebol", despite a number of high-profile convictions of their leaders.

    Lee, who was questioned twice this month, said last week he took moral and legal responsibility for the case and would look into reforming management practices at the group.

    The country's chaebol, which powered South Korea from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War to become Asia's fourth-largest economy, have been accused for years of having opaque management. Some of their leaders have been convicted of white-collar crime, but have avoided long jail sentences.

    Last week, the Supreme Court overturned a high court's suspended jail term for Hyundai Motor Group <005380.KS> Chairman Chung Mong-koo, which could lead to a review of his sentence for fraud and embezzlement.

    Chung, who heads the world's sixth largest car manufacturing group, spent at brief spell behind bars, but then got a suspended sentence because the judge said his role in South Korea's economy was too important for him to be taken away from his job.

    (Additional reporting by Jack Kim, Park Ju-min, Park Jung-youn, Lee Jiyeon and Marie-France Han, editing by Jonathan Thatcher and Bill Tarrant)

    Reuters - FACTBOX: A look at South Korea's powerful Samsung Group

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    FACTBOX: A look at South Korea's powerful Samsung Group

    Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 6:22AM UTC

    SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean special prosecutor investigating corruption at the Samsung Group on Thursday indicted Lee Kun-hee, the head of the country's largest conglomerate for tax evasion and breach of trust.

    Following are some key facts about the Samsung Group and the Lee family that founded and runs it:


    Samsung was launched in 1938 when Lee Byung-chul (1910-1987), the son of a wealthy landowner who was in the rice milling business, opened a trading company.

    To increase revenue, Lee added a trucking business but Samsung, which means "three stars", did not take off until during and after the 1950-1953 Korean War when Lee added a textile company, started his country's first major sugar refinery and built a powerful trading network.


    In the 1960s and 1970's Lee adds a dizzying array of companies to the group that included the Shinsegae department store, the JoongAng Ilbo daily newspaper, a shipbuilder, a chemical company and most importantly, in 1969, Samsung Electronics. Several firms were later spun-off.

    During this period, the family-run conglomerates known as "chaebol" formed a close alliance with the government run by authoritarian President Park Chung-hee to lift the economy. Samsung was an also-ran at this time with Daewoo, Hyundai and Lucky Goldstar, now known as LG, at the top of the pack.


    Lee Kun-hee, after being groomed for the top spot for years, officially took over when his father died in 1987. Father and son both went to university in Japan.

    The younger Lee changed the focus of the company from one that mostly produced mass quantities of lower-end goods to one that would use innovation and superior goods to build a respected brand name.

    Under his rein, Samsung became the country's largest conglomerate with about 60 affiliates, accounting for about one fifth of the country's exports.

    Samsung Electronics became the world's biggest maker of memory chips. The group also includes Samsung Heavy Industries, the world's No. 2 shipbuilder, and South Korea's biggest life insurance company Samsung Life.


    Lee Kun-hee's son, Lee Jae-yong, began working in a Samsung Group's division in 1991 and has spent many years with the flagship Samsung Electronics. Considered as the heir to throne, he is now chief customer officer at Samsung Electronics.

    In 2005, a Seoul court found two former Samsung executives guilty of conspiring in a 1996 deal to help Lee Jae-yong and other children of Lee Kun-hee buy a majority stake in Samsung Everland, which serves as the group's de facto holding firm.

    (Reporting by Rhee So-eui, editing by Jon Herskovitz and Sanjeev Miglani)

    Reuters - TIMELINE: Key events related to Samsung Group probe

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    TIMELINE: Key events related to Samsung Group probe

    Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 5:47AM UTC

    SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean special prosecutor investigating corruption at the Samsung Group on Thursday indicted Lee Kun-hee, the group's chief and one of the country's most powerful businessmen, for tax evasion and breach of trust.

    The special prosecutor also indicted nine other senior executives at country's largest conglomerate.

    Following are key events related to the investigation:

    - November 5, 2007: A former head of Samsung Group's legal division, Kim Yong-cheol, accuses the conglomerate of operating a slush fund to bribe prosecutors, politicians and bureaucrats to quash investigations into the company's murky management structure. Samsung said the accusations were not true.

    - November 20: South Korea's financial watchdog Financial Supervisory Service says it has started a probe into Kim's allegation that Samsung Group used so-called "borrowed name accounts", or accounts used by the company but set up in the names of trusted employees, to stash secret funds.

    - November 23: South Korea's parliament approves an independent counsel investigate the allegations made by Kim Yong-cheol.

    - November 26: Kim says Samsung had used its subsidiaries to help create a 200 billion won ($202.2 million) slush fund.

    Regular state prosecutors start investigation. In the first week, they ban Samsung Group officials from traveling abroad in order to face possible questioning, raid Samsung's brokerage unit, Samsung Securities <016360.KS> and a data centre at Samsung SDS, the group's integrated IT services unit.

    - December 12: South Korea's financial watchdog says Woori Bank and brokerage Goodmorning Shinhan Securities had broken rules in setting up accounts for Samsung Group, giving credibility to Kim's claim of "borrowed name accounts".

    - January 10, 2008: The parliament-approved special counsel begins its investigation. In its first week, it raids an office of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, the homes of seven other executives, Samsung's Seoul headquarters and Lee's residence.

    - February 14: The special prosecutor counsel raids the headquarters of Samsung Electronics <005930.KS>.

    - February 28: The special prosecutor counsel questioned Chairman Lee Kun-hee's son, Lee Jae-yong.

    - April 2: Lee Kun-hee's wife was questioned on allegations she tapped into slush fund to buy artwork.

    - April 4: Group chief Lee questioned by special prosecutor.

    (Reporting by Rhee So-eui, editing by Jon Herskovitz)

    Reuters - Japan's high-tech displays give paper a cutting edge

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    Japan's high-tech displays give paper a cutting edge

    Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 12:41PM UTC

    By Toshi Maeda

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Bend it, write on it, read it -- just don't try to fold it into a paper plane. Electronic paper is Japan's answer to rising raw material costs, depleted resources and booming demand for printed matter from emerging markets such as China and India.

    At a high-tech fair in Tokyo this week, Japanese firms showed the latest versions of what is still considered a niche product, ranging from thick, sturdy readers to thin displays that look like plastic sheets and can be bent.

    E-Ink, which manufactures Sony's Reader tablet, says consumers will eventually embrace the energy-saving technology as the cost of paper and fuel goes up.

    "The BRIC nations like India and China are consuming so much paper as their economies expand that the cost of A4 size paper is up 20 to 30 percent," said Ryosuke Kuwada, vice president for E-Ink corporation's Asia pacific region, referring to an abbreviation that groups Brazil, Russia, India and China.

    "As people try to wean themselves off pulp paper, the push for electronic paper is going to intensify," he added.

    Japan, known for its beautiful hand-made paper as well as its cutting-edge technology, has already been trying to combine the two.

    Companies such as Fujitsu and Sony use electrophoretic displays, or EPD, for everything from watches and mobile phones to electronic readers.

    The display sends electronic charges along a grid embedded in the e-paper which cause tiny black and white particles to move, creating text and images.

    "This is going to be a new kind of personal tool that businessmen would carry in their bags. It will be yet another powerful tool after the cell phone," said Yoshiaki Kageyama, director of Fujitsu's e-paper division.

    Fujitsu recently developed flexible e-paper that can display different colors, a further step towards publishing to e-magazines and newspapers.

    (Writing by Sophie Hardach)

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Reuters - Obama tries to clarify small-town remarks

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    Obama tries to clarify small-town remarks

    Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 1:47AM UTC

    By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

    PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama tried to clarify his remarks about small-town residents during a Pennsylvania debate on Wednesday and said presidential rival Hillary Clinton had "beat it to death" on the campaign trail.

    Obama has been under heavy fire from Clinton and Republican John McCain, who called him elitist and out of touch for saying small-town residents in the state were clinging to religion and guns in bitterness over their economic struggles.

    "The problem that we have in our politics, which is fairly typical, is that you take one person's statement, if it's not properly phrased, and you just beat it to death, and that's what Senator Clinton's been doing over the last four days," Obama said in a debate in Philadelphia six days ahead of the Pennsylvania primary.

    "It would be pretty impossible for me to be condescending to people of faith when I'm a person of faith," he said.

    Clinton, who has eased off her public criticism of Obama in the last two days but launched a television ad in Pennsylvania assailing the comments, said they were "a fundamental misunderstanding of religion and faith."

    Clinton and Obama are dueling for the Democratic presidential nomination for the right to face McCain in November's presidential election.

    Clinton has a dwindling lead over Obama in Pennsylvania polls, and needs a big win to try to close the gap on the Illinois senator in popular votes and pledged delegates to the nominating convention.

    With 10 contests remaining, Obama has a nearly unassailable lead in pledged delegates, but neither candidate is likely to gain enough delegates to win without help from nearly 800 Democratic Party officials and insiders who are free to back any candidate.

    When pressed whether she thought Obama could win in November and beat back attacks from Republicans, Clinton said: "Yes, yes, yes. Now I think that I can do a better job. Obviously that's why I'm here."

    "I believe I am the better and stronger candidate than Sen. McCain and I can go toe to toe with him on national security," she said.

    (Editing by Lori Santos)

    (For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at

    Reuters - McCain even with Obama, leads Clinton: Reuters poll

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    McCain even with Obama, leads Clinton: Reuters poll

    Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 7:34PM UTC

    By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain runs even with Democratic rival Barack Obama and narrowly leads Hillary Clinton in potential match-ups in November, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

    McCain was seen as a better steward of the economy than either Democrat despite their repeated criticism of his economic credentials. He led Obama by 3 points and Clinton by 5 points on the question of who would best manage the economy.

    In the Democratic race, Obama widened his national lead over Clinton to 51 percent from 38 percent, up from a 3-point edge in March, in polling taken before a controversy erupted over Obama's comments about small-town residents.

    The two Democrats, battling for the right to face McCain in November's presidential election, both gained ground on the Arizona senator nationally in the last month although Obama fares slightly better in head-to-head match-ups.

    Obama pulled into a statistical tie with McCain at 45 percent after trailing him by 6 points last month. Clinton trails McCain by 5 points, 46 percent to 41 percent, gaining slightly from an 8-point deficit last month.

    "Obama still does better than Clinton against McCain, but it's a very close race either way," pollster John Zogby said. "Obama and Clinton hurt each other the longer their race drags on, and McCain is getting a free pass."

    Heading into the next Democratic contest in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Obama has been under heavy fire from Clinton and McCain for saying small-town residents are bitter about the ailing economy and cling to religion, guns and anti-immigrant bigotry in frustration.

    The national poll, taken Thursday through Saturday, was nearly completed before the Obama controversy erupted when his April 6 comments at a private San Francisco fundraiser became public on Friday night. The furor's impact on the Democratic race is unclear.


    Obama had gained ground on Clinton in the last month after weathering a controversy over inflammatory statements by his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, while Clinton came under fire for falsely claiming to have faced sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996.

    "Obama rebounded from the Reverend Wright situation and it was Clinton's turn to get scrutinized," Zogby said. "Now it's back to Obama for the small-town comments. This race has been very cyclical."

    The poll found Obama made gains in the last month among at least two key national constituencies that have sustained Clinton's bid. The Illinois senator led among women, 48 percent to 42 percent, and among whites, 46 percent to 41 percent.

    Obama also held big leads among men, blacks, young voters and high-income voters. Clinton, a New York senator, led among the elderly, Hispanics and voters with less than a high-school education.

    Obama has been steadily narrowing the gap on Clinton in Pennsylvania, where her sizable double-digit poll lead had dwindled to single digits in most recent polls.

    An Obama win in Pennsylvania could knock Clinton out of the race, while she needs a big victory to make headway in her effort to overtake Obama in the popular vote cast in state contests and pledged delegates to the nominating convention.

    With 10 contests remaining, Obama has a nearly unassailable lead in pledged delegates, but neither candidate is likely to gain enough delegates to win without help from nearly 800 Democratic Party officials and insiders who are free to back any candidate.

    The poll also gauged potential head-to-head match-ups if independent Ralph Nader or possible Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, a former congressman, get on the ballot. Nader drew 3 percent and Barr 2 percent in both national match-ups.

    McCain fared slightly worse against Obama with Barr and Nader in the race, but their presence did not change his margin over Clinton.

    The national survey of 532 likely Democratic primary voters had a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points. The poll of the race between McCain and the two Democratic contenders surveyed 1,049 likely voters with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

    (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

    (For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at )

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    CNN - Students want chance to defend themselves

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    Students want chance to defend themselves

    "Would you rather just sit there and cower underneath a desk when someone executes you or would you rather have a chance to defend your life? That's what it really boils down to."

    Michael Flitcraft, a 23-year-old sophomore at the University of Cincinnati, has become a leading advocate for college students to carry weapons on campus. He's an organizer for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a grass-roots organization that was formed after last year's Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 college students and professors dead.

    The group boasts more than 25,000 members.

    Standing on the Cincinnati campus, Flitcraft calmly explained he is licensed to carry a weapon in Ohio. He wants to carry his gun on campus to defend himself from potential killers, but by law he can't.

    "To me it makes no sense that I can defend myself legally over there," he said, pointing to the city streets. "But I am a felon if I step on the grass over here."

    The issue of guns on campuses has intensified over the last year in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings and picked up again after the more recent killings at Northern Illinois University. Lawmakers in at least nine states are considering legislation to allow guns on campus. Other states have struck down legislation.

    Utah is the only state to allow weapons at all public universities. Colorado allows students at universities to carry weapons, except the main university campus in Boulder. In Virginia, Blue Ridge Community College allows students with a proper concealed-weapons permit to be armed.

    For many, allowing college students to carry a gun is a tricky and complex issue.

    "I don't think the answer to bullets flying is to send more bullets flying," said Gene Ferrara, the police chief at the University of Cincinnati. "My belief is we ought to be focusing on what we do to prevent the shooting from starting."

    Ferrara was a Cincinnati cop for more than a dozen years before he became chief of police at the university. He also said that there are practical concerns from a law enforcement perspective: If you're responding to the scene of a shooting, how do you sort out who is the bad guy and who is the heroic student with a permit?

    "The other side of that, I shoot everybody with a gun who doesn't have a uniform on and I then I end up shooting somebody who was a citizen with a carry permit," Ferrara said.

    He says education and outreach are key and that providing students with safe and anonymous ways to report suspicious behavior can go a long way in preventing violence. "All of the research shows someone knew before the shooting started that the shooting was going to happen."

    At the University of Cincinnati, most of the students who spoke to CNN said the idea of guns on campus scares them. "I think that it is completely absurd," said senior Jacob Metz.

    Freshman Lauren Reams added, "It shocks me."

    Security officials insist that young adults are safer on campus than just about anywhere else. Since the so-called Texas Tower shootings at the University of Texas in 1966 when 17 people were killed, there have been about a dozen shootings at colleges or universities.

    At Weber State University in Utah where students can carry concealed weapons, professor Ron Holt said a weapon provides added protection from potential gunmen. "I see carrying a concealed firearm as a kind of life insurance policy; 99.99 times you will never need it," he said.

    Flitcraft and other students across the nation who support gun rights say they won't give up. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus has established a page on the social network site Facebook. They don't want all students to be armed; what they're pushing for is for students 21 and older who are licensed gun owners to have the right to carry guns on campus.

    The group is busy planning a protest for later this month in which students who support guns on campus will come to school wearing empty holsters.

    "What is a better situation: Someone coming in and shooting in a classroom [or] someone in that classroom having a chance to defend their life and take out that threat?" Flitcraft said.

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