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    Friday, April 17, 2009

    CNN - Obama: 'We can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction'

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    Obama: 'We can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction'


    President Obama said Friday he is seeking "a new beginning" in U.S. relations with Cuba.

    Before addressing the representatives of 34 countries at the Summit of the Americas, Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saw each other and shook hands.

    "Every one of our nations has a right to follow its own path," Obama told the assembly. "But we all have a responsibility to see that the people of the Americas have the ability to pursue their own dreams in democratic societies.

    "Toward that end, the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba."

    Obama arrived in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday evening for the Summit of the Americas, a key meeting of hemispheric powers. Although it was not represented at the talks, the subject of Cuba dominated the president's speech.

    In prepared remarks, Obama said that "decades of mistrust" must be overcome, but noted that he has already loosened restrictions that limited Americans from traveling to visit relatives in Cuba and from sending money to them.

    Obama lifted all restrictions Monday on the ability of individuals to visit relatives in Cuba, as well as to send them remittances.

    That may be just the beginning. "I am prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues -- from human rights, free speech and democratic reform to drugs, migration and economic issues," he said.

    "Let me be clear: I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking. But I do believe that we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction."

    Obama's comments represent a significant shift in a U.S. policy that has remained largely unchanged since 1962, when the U.S. government imposed a trade embargo with Havana.

    They come a day after Cuban President Raul Castro said he was prepared to discuss "everything, everything, everything" with the United States.

    Castro told a summit of leftist Latin American leaders gathered in Venezuela, "We are prepared, wherever they want, to discuss everything -- human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners," Castro said Thursday.

    Havana played a major role in Obama's remarks, where he called for rejection of "stale debates" that have undermined opportunities to forge new partnerships.

    "They would have us make the false choice between a rigid, state-run economy and unbridled and unregulated capitalism; between blame for right-wing paramilitaries or left-wing insurgents; between sticking to inflexible policies with regard to Cuba or denying the full human rights that are owed to the Cuban people.

    "I didn't come here to debate the past -- I came here to deal with the future. As neighbors, we have a responsibility to each other and to our citizens. And by working together, we can take important steps forward to advance prosperity, security and liberty."

    Chavez's press office said Obama walked up to Chavez to greet him, a meeting it called "historic."

    "President Chavez expressed his hope that relations between the two countries would change," the press office said, quoting Chavez as having told his U.S. counterpart, "Eight years ago with this same hand I greeted Bush. I want to be your friend." It said Obama then thanked Chavez.

    Chavez once referred to former President Bush as "the devil."

    On other matters, Obama, who said he is committed to fighting inequality "and creating prosperity from the bottom up," announced a Microfinance Growth Fund for the hemisphere and proposed creating an Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas "to promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

    He also vowed to "take aggressive action" to slash demand for illegal drugs, and to halt the movement of arms and money to Mexico.

    Obama's push for a rapprochement with Havana is supported by most Americans, 71 percent of whom said they favor re-establishing diplomatic relations, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll carried out April 3-5.

    The poll had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    CNN - Freed captain: 'We did what we were trained to do'

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    Freed captain: 'We did what we were trained to do'


    Capt. Richard Phillips, whose capture and dramatic rescue in the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Africa last week captivated the nation, returned home to Vermont on Friday.

    Phillips landed shortly after 4:30 p.m. at Burlington International Airport. He was met by family members, who climbed the steps of his plane to greet him.

    He then strolled across the tarmac with his family, his arm wrapped around his daughter, Mariah, who wiped away tears.

    "I just want to thank you for your prayers and support of my family while I was gone," Phillips said after landing in Vermont. "I'm just a bit part. I'm a seaman like all the other seamen out there."

    Close-up camera shots of Phillips on Friday showed what appeared to be rope burns on his forearms, presumably from being tied by the pirates.

    Phillips spoke for a short time and mostly thanked the military for saving him.

    "I'm not the hero," he said. "The military is the hero. Thank them."

    He offered no details of what happened to him during his time as a hostage besides calling it "indescribable." He also took the time to thank crew members on his ship.

    "We did it. I told you it wasn't going to be 'if'; it was going to be 'when,' " he said. "We did what we were trained to do. We're just seamen. [We] do the best with what we've got, and my crew did an excellent job, and I'm so proud of them that they're all home and they're with their loved ones."

    He had just completed an 18-hour flight out of Mombasa, Kenya, on a jet owned by Maersk.

    Family members said they planned to spend some quality time together later Friday at their home in Underhill, Vermont -- Phillips' mother-in-law was making brownies and his best friend planned to bring over chicken pot pie and Phillips' favorite beer, they said.

    Phillips offered himself as a hostage last week, when four pirates boarded his U.S.-flagged ship, the Maersk Alabama. The pirates held him aboard a lifeboat for several days in a standoff against the U.S. Navy.

    Navy sharpshooters shot and killed three pirates, freeing Phillips. The other pirate had been taken into custody.

    The captain's wife, Andrea, also spoke at his homecoming, calling it "one of the happiest moments of our lives." She said she was extremely proud of his bravery, but also acknowledged the captain would say he was just doing his job.

    "I have always been proud to call myself an American," Andrea Phillips said. "Today, I'm even prouder. To everyone who has been involved in this that made this day possible, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Through this past week, having Richard back safe was all that my family and I ever wanted. Now our prayers have been answered, and we have a lot of people to thank."

    The 53-year-old Vermont native was praised Thursday by engineer John Cronan, one of the 19 other crew members.

    "He went above and beyond the call to ensure our safety," Cronan told CNN's "Larry King Live." "I can't thank that man enough. He is the reason I'm here tonight."

    Asked whether she wants to see Cronan continue working as a merchant mariner, Cronan's fiancee said it was up to him.

    "John and I have an agreement," said Heather Giardinelli, who works as a pharmaceutical marketing researcher. "He doesn't tell me how to do my job, and I won't tell him how to do his."

    Asked whether he plans to return to sea, Cronan said, "Yes, sir. However, the Staten Island Ferry has become much more appealing."

    CNN - Freed captain: 'We did what we were trained to do'

    Sent from bombastic4000@yahoo.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    Freed captain: 'We did what we were trained to do'


    Capt. Richard Phillips, whose capture and dramatic rescue in the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Africa last week captivated the nation, returned home to Vermont on Friday.

    Phillips landed shortly after 4:30 p.m. at Burlington International Airport. He was met by family members, who climbed the steps of his plane to greet him.

    He then strolled across the tarmac with his family, his arm wrapped around his daughter, Mariah, who wiped away tears.

    "I just want to thank you for your prayers and support of my family while I was gone," Phillips said after landing in Vermont. "I'm just a bit part. I'm a seaman like all the other seamen out there."

    Close-up camera shots of Phillips on Friday showed what appeared to be rope burns on his forearms, presumably from being tied by the pirates.

    Phillips spoke for a short time and mostly thanked the military for saving him.

    "I'm not the hero," he said. "The military is the hero. Thank them."

    He offered no details of what happened to him during his time as a hostage besides calling it "indescribable." He also took the time to thank crew members on his ship.

    "We did it. I told you it wasn't going to be 'if'; it was going to be 'when,' " he said. "We did what we were trained to do. We're just seamen. [We] do the best with what we've got, and my crew did an excellent job, and I'm so proud of them that they're all home and they're with their loved ones."

    He had just completed an 18-hour flight out of Mombasa, Kenya, on a jet owned by Maersk.

    Family members said they planned to spend some quality time together later Friday at their home in Underhill, Vermont -- Phillips' mother-in-law was making brownies and his best friend planned to bring over chicken pot pie and Phillips' favorite beer, they said.

    Phillips offered himself as a hostage last week, when four pirates boarded his U.S.-flagged ship, the Maersk Alabama. The pirates held him aboard a lifeboat for several days in a standoff against the U.S. Navy.

    Navy sharpshooters shot and killed three pirates, freeing Phillips. The other pirate had been taken into custody.

    The captain's wife, Andrea, also spoke at his homecoming, calling it "one of the happiest moments of our lives." She said she was extremely proud of his bravery, but also acknowledged the captain would say he was just doing his job.

    "I have always been proud to call myself an American," Andrea Phillips said. "Today, I'm even prouder. To everyone who has been involved in this that made this day possible, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Through this past week, having Richard back safe was all that my family and I ever wanted. Now our prayers have been answered, and we have a lot of people to thank."

    The 53-year-old Vermont native was praised Thursday by engineer John Cronan, one of the 19 other crew members.

    "He went above and beyond the call to ensure our safety," Cronan told CNN's "Larry King Live." "I can't thank that man enough. He is the reason I'm here tonight."

    Asked whether she wants to see Cronan continue working as a merchant mariner, Cronan's fiancee said it was up to him.

    "John and I have an agreement," said Heather Giardinelli, who works as a pharmaceutical marketing researcher. "He doesn't tell me how to do my job, and I won't tell him how to do his."

    Asked whether he plans to return to sea, Cronan said, "Yes, sir. However, the Staten Island Ferry has become much more appealing."

    CNN - Mexico's mass graves yield bodies of gang victims

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    Mexico's mass graves yield bodies of gang victims


    Heat waves shimmer over the desert. A team of forensic experts clad in white overalls excavate three shallow graves.

    The sand gives up nine bodies -- seven men and two women. At least one of the victims' hands were cuffed behind their back. Others had been trussed up with duct tape.

    The stale stench reveals that the corpses had been dumped there several days earlier and were decomposing fast.

    That grisly find in mid-March came a week after thousands more soldiers had been deployed to Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. The arrival of the soldiers and more federal police agents had coincided with a short lull in the killings.

    Snapping photos of the scene from behind the police line was Lucio Soria, photographer for Juarez's main newspaper, El Diario de Juarez, and its sister paper, PM.

    PM is a perfect example of Mexico's so-called "red press," newspapers that specialize in covering violence. Soria seems like a perfect ambassador.

    "I've gone for a week and a half without taking pictures of dead people. I was thinking 'Hell, what am I going to do?' At this rate I'll end up taking pictures for the social pages," he said.

    Soria realizes snapping pictures of blood and gore may seem heartless. But he stays cheerful, cracking dark jokes with colleagues, all while listening to police communications on a radio scanner and searching for clues about where to find the next drug war victim.

    "It might seem ugly, but that's our job," Soria said.

    He and fellow photographers have been busy in recent months.

    Last year, Juarez became the poster city for Mexico's narco-violence, with more than 1,600 gang killings.

    This year, Mayor Jose Reyes is trying to turn a page on the killings and make Juarez a showcase for solutions.

    Military and federal police convoys patrol the streets around the clock. Cops armed with AR-15 assault rifles, identities obscured by ski masks, hang off pickup trucks that speed around in twos and threes.

    Soldiers strike a warlike pose behind heavy machine guns mounted on American-made Humvees.

    Whether it's working depends on who you ask and how hard you read between the lines.

    "I think this is very effective because it closes transport routes for the movement of [cartel] personnel and weapons," said a state officer, assigned to guide us, at a federal police checkpoint.

    The officer, known only by his call sign Trojan One, seemed confident.

    The agent in command of the checkpoint was less convinced.

    "Of course organized crime is trying to avoid us. I'm not sure what methods they use to operate. We don't know how they work," said the officer, identifying himself only as Aztec One.

    On another day we ran into a three-truck federal police operation staking out a house in a middle-class Juarez neighborhood.

    The commander said his men believed they had made what he termed a "major" cocaine bust. When I met him they had already been waiting almost 24 hours for a judge to issue a search warrant.

    When they gained access they discovered some 500 half-gram bags of cocaine. In Juarez those bags sell for around $8. Now do the math, 500 half-gram bags at possibly 60 percent purity means around 150 grams of pure cocaine -- hardly a major strike in the drug war.

    Reyes' solution has been to hand the military all civilian police functions, even down to traffic control. Mexico's military has little experience in urban warfare, little experience in policing and has been unable to shake a decades-old reputation for human rights abuses.

    When I bump into Reyes at a transfer-of-command ceremony at city hall I ask him what he's doing about alleged corruption and complicity among politicians and businessmen, who permit the cartels to move their shipments and help launder the proceeds.

    "My opinion in Juarez is that that kind of political corruption does not exist," he said adamantly.

    Two weeks later, in Monterrey, I caught up with outspoken lawyer Raquenel Villanueva. She knows a thing or two about politicians colluding with Mexico's mafia.

    Mexican media have dubbed her the "devil's advocate" for her role in defending a string of senior cartel figures and their hitmen. Last year, she was detained for 90 days, accused her of being a member of the Gulf Cartel. She was freed without charge.

    Throughout her career, she's survived four assassination attempts and taken 10 bullets, two of them in the head.

    Her office is crammed with religious iconography: crosses, paintings of the Virgin of Guadalupe and a four-foot-high wooden statue of Saint Jude Thaddeus. Two bullets are encrusted in the effigy after the last attempt on her life in 2000.

    "I know about official corruption and exactly who is doing what because my clients tell me," she said.

    "To win the drug war you have to tell the Americans to take better care of their young people, tell them to stop being so cold and materialistic," Villanueva lectured. "Then you have to end corruption and that means changing the government cabinets of half the countries in the world."

    CNN - Illegal immigrants detained, then freed to work

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    Illegal immigrants detained, then freed to work


    After 11 years of living illegally in the United States, it was not until Gerardo Arreola Gonzalez was nearly deported that he finally received permission to work here.

    Arreola was one of 28 illegal immigrant workers arrested in February after agents from U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement raided a car engine repair business.

    According to the immigrants, a small army of federal agents surrounded Yamato Engine Specialists in Bellingham Washington, and began searching for workers who could not show they had authorization to work in the United States.

    "My blood ran cold," Arreola said in Spanish. "We went to the back door, but they were waiting for us. There was a bus already there, and they put us on it."

    As he was being taken to an immigration detention center, Arreola said he thought of his wife and the five children they have had while living here and who are U.S. citizens by birth. He expected to be deported back to Mexico, Arreola said, and he was doubtful about when he would see his family again.

    "I would have been there and they would have been here," he said. "I would have had to come back. I couldn't take them there. My children don't know anything about Mexico. They go to school here."

    Typically, cases like Arreola's end in deportation. According to ICE, some 5,173 people were arrested last year in similar worksite raids.

    However, the Bellingham raid was the first of its kind to take place during the Obama administration. During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Obama's criticism of government immigration policies that split up families had given some people in immigrant communities hope that the raids would end if he were elected.

    "Under the Obama administration, we didn't expect it to happen that people would be dragged out in handcuffs," said Rosalinda Guillen, a Bellingham immigrant rights advocate.

    Many in the area strongly opposed the raid, Guillen said.

    "This is a really heavy Obama-supporting county," she said. "So a lot of folks here had been in involved in the election." Immediately after the raid, she said, "the calls, the e-mails started and networks were activated."

    Guillen said the controversy over the raid was featured heavily on Hispanic radio stations and that a charity called Los NiƱos Fund was created to help the children of the jailed immigrants.

    During a hearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security the day after the Bellingham raid, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano distanced herself from the action.

    Worksite enforcements, she said, should focus "on employers who intentionally and knowingly exploit the illegal labor market." Napolitano promised lawmakers that she would "get to the bottom" of what happened in Bellingham.

    Napolitano's comments turned the heat up on the already boiling debate over how immigration policies should be reformed.

    "Get to the bottom of what? Law enforcement officers enforcing the law?" asked Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a nonprofit group that advocates more border security and decreasing the number of illegal immigrants entering the country.

    "The message is if you are hiring illegal aliens, 'no problem.' If you are in the country illegally, unless you commit a serious felony we are not going to bother you, so it's a de facto amnesty," Mehlman said. "Even if the administration cannot get an amnesty through Congress this year, what they are going to do is through administrative decisions allow everybody to remain here and send the signal that more people are welcome."

    Amy Kudwa, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said there was no policy shift and that other worksite immigration inspections had taken place since the Bellingham raid.

    But Rosalinda Guillen said people in the pro-immigrant rights community were heartened by the fact that shortly after Napolitano ordered a review of the Bellingham case the immigrant workers who were still in immigration detention were released.

    "I was just flabbergasted," Guillen said. And the same immigration agents who had arrested the workers, she said, now promised them visas that would allow them to work temporarily in the U.S.

    "Homeland Security drove them to the place where they had to go to fill out the paperwork for the work permits," she said "That is totally unheard of."

    A spokeswoman for the ICE Seattle office declined to comment on the case because the raid is under review and the investigation into the company where the immigrants worked is still ongoing.

    Several days after the workers' release, ICE agents again searched Yamato Engine Specialists.

    The company did not respond to repeated CNN requests for comment, but a statement posted on its Web site reads: "It has been and continues to be Yamato's policy to hire people only if they meet the legal requirements for employment."

    Several of the workers who were arrested said immigration agents have asked if they suffered any abuse while working for Yamato. Gerardo Arreola Gonzalez said the company did not mistreat him during the months he worked there soldering car engines.

    But Yamato did not verify his immigration status when he first arrived at the company, Arreola said.

    "I filled out my application and did the interview. They asked if my papers were good," Arreola said. "You say 'yes,' otherwise you don't get the job."

    Reuters - OpenX launches new ad server for small websites

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    OpenX launches new ad server for small websites

    Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 1:45PM UTC

    By Georgina Prodhan

    LONDON (Reuters) - Technology start-up OpenX launched an online ad marketplace for smaller Web publishers on Thursday designed to be an alternative to offerings from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL.

    OpenX Market aims to make it easier for advertisers to find smaller Web publishers as the number of sites run by individuals and small organizations with niche audiences balloons, and to help those small publishers maximize their advertising revenues.

    OpenX, backed by Index Ventures and Accel Partners, runs more than 300 billion page impressions a month through its software from a network of about 150,000 websites, putting it in the league of the likes of Google's DoubleClick in terms of volume.

    Google bought DoubleClick for $3.1 billion in 2007, part of a multi-billion-dollar wave of ad-server company acquisitions that included Microsoft buying aQuantive, AOL buying Adtech and WPP buying 24/7 Real Media.

    "Now the space is very concentrated, which makes it really good for us to be an independent option in the market," OpenX's Chief Executive Tim Cadogan told Reuters.

    Cadogan, an industry veteran who formerly ran Yahoo's search business, said OpenX's open-source software that publishers can easily customize was another attraction.

    OpenX's new platform stages real-time auctions for online advertising spots, allowing publishers to take advantage of higher bids until the last second. It is likely to appeal most to small publishers, but scalable for large enterprises too.

    The Internet is the only medium expected to attract higher advertising revenues this year -- although growth is slowing -- as most companies slash discretionary spending on activities such as marketing to cope with the economic downturn.

    But mechanisms to link advertisers with online properties are still developing, and made more difficult by an explosion in the number of websites in existence.

    AOL, for example, is embarking on a strategy of creating a plethora of niche websites through automated methods on which to place ads, partly through its own ad platform. It has called this "leaning into the fragmentation of the Web."

    Cadogan says: "Synthetic creations can be pretty good, but there's something about that organic trend also of consumers creating sites about topics they're passionate about that creates real value."

    OpenX, formerly known by a succession of other names including Openads, has developed its ad server through the open-source developer community over nine years, and has raised $20.5 million in two rounds of funding so far.

    Cadogan said the company had not received any takeover approaches since he became CEO a year ago.

    (Editing by David Cowell)

    Reuters - Phishers get more wily as cybercrime grows

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    Phishers get more wily as cybercrime grows

    Friday, Apr 17, 2009 9:46AM UTC

    By Diane Bartz

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Phishing scams have grown up from the unsophisticated swindles of the past in which fake Nigerian princes e-mailed victims, who would get a big windfall if they just provide their bank account number.

    Even as authorities try to stamp out that con and other e-mail and online scams, scammers are getting more wily and finding new loopholes to exploit.

    The vast majority of e-mail is spam and an unknown percentage of that is meant to defraud. The scale of electronic fraud means that that the criminals can make huge profits even if only a small percentage of people are duped.

    Phishing commonly refers to hoax e-mails purportedly from banks or other trustworthy sources that seek to trick recipients into revealing bank or credit card account numbers and passwords.

    The U.S. government scored a big victory in November when the web hosting company McColo Corp. was taken offline. Estimates vary, but the Washington Post said that 75 percent of spam worldwide had been sent through that single company.

    But the spam e-mails offering celebrity diets, cheap printer ink, erased credit card debt and amazing orgasms quickly found a new way to inboxes, according to Google's security subsidiary Postini.

    Now spammers use a variety of computers to send out spam e-mails to obscure their origins, meaning that a dramatic McColo-style takedown will be harder to reproduce, said Adam Swidler, product marketing manager for Google's Postini.

    And they've largely abandoned scams that are easy to see through -- like the Nigerian prince -- in favor of more sophisticated "location-based spam," which directs the victim to a Web site discussing a local disaster or similar issue. If they click on the offered video, the Web site downloads a virus to the user's computer, Google said in a blog on security.

    Tim Cranton, a Microsoft cybersecurity expert, said there was no way to know how much money is stolen. "We don't have a way to estimate numbers because there are so many victims that you're not aware of," he said.

    WHAT IS 'SMISHING'?

    New technology means new ways to steal. One of the latest is "smishing," which is nothing more than a phishing fraud sent via SMS text messaging.

    E-con artists are getting more sophisticated in approaching potential victims. One tactic has been to write spam that purports to come from a trusted source, like Paypal.

    When Paypal, which is owned by eBay, learned that spammers were using its name, they put a digital signature on their e-mails and asked providers like Yahoo and Google to block any e-mail purporting to come from them which did not have that signature.

    "We know how many they throw away and it's approximately speaking about 10 million a month," said Michael Barrett, Paypal's chief information security officer. "If the consumer never sees the e-mail in the first place then it's hard for them to get victimized."

    "Phishing was not just impacting consumers, in terms of general loss, it was impacting their view of the safety of the Internet and that it was indirectly damaging our brand," added Barrett.

    Security experts say they are seeing more and more shifts from outright fraud, where the victim will hand over their money, to the use of malware, basically malicious software which, among other things, collects passwords and credit card numbers for thieves.

    "Those will then be sold on the underground market," said David Marcus, a threat research expert at McAfee computer security firm.

    The person purchasing the passwords and card numbers will use that information to make purchases, get cash or create fake identities.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with police in the United Kingdom, Turkey and Germany, shut down one such online forum called Dark Market in October 2008 which, at its peak, had more than 2,500 registered members, according an FBI press release issued at the time.

    But experts agreed that they didn't expect the problem to go away anytime soon, and that more people out of work could well mean more people like to fall for scams.

    Marcus said many of the scams were nothing more than the digital equivalent of confidence tricks, although on a massive scale that can net some scammers more than $100,000 a month.

    "These things only have to be 2 percent successful," he said. "Those campaigns are sent out to tens of millions of people at the same time.

    (Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

    Portfolio Mobile - Last Bytes: Google Slows, YouTube Streams, Oprah Twitters

    Last Bytes: Google Slows, YouTube Streams, Oprah Twitters





    Google reported better-than-expected profit during the first quarter but the slump in online advertising has dramatically slowed its revenue growth. It had to happen eventually, right? [Wall Street Journal]

    Not to be outdone by its parent company this afternoon, YouTube announced a deal with major studios to stream full-length movies and television shows for free. [AP]

    As if it wasn't ridiculously popular already, Twitter now has the endorsement of none other than Oprah Winfrey. [Bits Blog]

    Now you can tweet while you work without the boss finding out. Spreadtweet puts your Twitter account on what looks like an Excel spreadsheet. Brilliant! [Business Insider]



    EBay would like potential Skype suitors to know that it would still be open to offers even though it's announced plans for an IPO next year. [PaidConent]Related Links
    Twitter + Google = Not Likely
    YouTube, Finally Adding Up to Something?
    Google Vision

    Presented By:Microsoft Visual Studio Team System

    Visual Studio Team System helps teams of every size collaborate better for faster app development.
    Get a Free Trial at microsoft.com/defyallchallenges/team 
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    (c) 2007 Portfolio. Powered by mLogic Media, Crisp Wireless, Inc.

    Reuters - Pirate Bay fileshare four jailed for a year

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    Pirate Bay fileshare four jailed for a year

    Friday, Apr 17, 2009 1:20PM UTC

    By Veronica Ek

    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Four men linked to The Pirate Bay, one of the world's biggest free file-sharing websites, were each jailed for a year on Friday for breaching copyright and ordered to pay 30 million Swedish crowns ($3.58 million) in compensation.

    Analysts said the guilty verdict in the closely-watched test case could help music and film companies recoup millions of dollars in lost revenues but they doubted it would stem the tide of illegal downloading.

    International trade body IFPI reported earlier this year that about 95 percent of music downloaded in 2008 was illegal.

    On its website, The Pirate Bay scorned the ruling, calling it a "crazy verdict."

    "It was lol (laugh out loud) to read and hear," the message read. "But as in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That's the only thing Hollywood has ever taught us."

    IFPI Svenska Gruppen, an organization representing the Swedish recording industry, said the verdict was "not only positive for the music and film business, but also for all those producers and entrepreneurs trying to create working and legal online services based on real respect for copyright."

    The men linked to The Pirate Bay -- Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom -- were charged early last year by a Swedish prosecutor with conspiracy to break copyright law and related offences. They denied the charges.

    Companies including Warner Bros., MGM, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox Films, Sony BMG, Universal and EMI also sought damages of more than 100 million crowns ($12 million) to cover lost revenues.

    The Stockholm district court said in a statement the four were found guilty of breaching copyright laws and each sentenced to a year in prison.

    APPEAL

    Lundstrom's attorney Per Samuelson told journalists he was shocked by the verdict and the severity of the sentence.

    "That's outrageous, in my point of view. Of course we will appeal," he said. "This is the first word, not the last. The last word will be ours."

    The group that controls The Pirate Bay, launched in 2003, says that no copyrighted material is stored on its servers and no exchange of files actually takes place there so it cannot be held responsible for what material is being exchanged.

    The prosecution said that by financing, programing and administering the site, the four men promoted the infringement of property rights by the site's users.

    Industry experts were not convinced the verdict would have a lasting effect.

    "Every time you get rid of one, another bigger one pops up. Napster went, and then up came a whole host of others ... The problem of file-sharing just keeps growing year on year, and it's increasingly difficult for the industry to do anything about it," said music analyst Mark Mulligan of research firm Forrester.

    Dan Cryan, senior analyst at media research firm Screen Digest, said the lack of international copyright law meant websites dedicated to illegal downloads could simply move on to a new country if legislation tightened where they operated.

    "Pirate Bay was brilliant at self-publicity, but the reality is there are lots of other torrent-tracker sites," he said.

    "The closing of the one that shouts the loudest won't make any difference."

    (Additional reporting by Simon Johnson in Stockholm and Georgina Prodhan in London; Writing by Niklas Pollard, editing by David Cowell)

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