Lycos Europe ends its anti-spam campaign

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

EUROPE — Lycos Europe has ended its anti-spam operation: “Make Love Not Spam.” A company spokesperson said the objective of the time-limited campaign was to raise people’s awareness. The reasons why it ended the campaign was variously reported and speculated in media. The operation, while fairly popular, suffered unexpected troubles and drew criticism from security experts and others from the start.

The company started distributing a screensaver on November 29, 2004 on makelovenotspam.com. Once installed, the computer would send HTTP requests to spammers’ servers when not in use. The intent was to raise the running costs of those servers. Lycos coordinated these requests by choosing targets from lists generated by organizations such as Spamcop.com. The servers were monitored so as to keep them under heavy load, but alive.

Security experts roundly criticized the program. Steve Linford, director of a non-profit anti-spam organization SpamHaus, and Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant of Sophos, pointed out that lowering moral standards to fight spammers was not a good idea. The legality of attacking the servers was also debated since it resembles “Distributed Denial of Service” attacks (DDoS), except that Lycos did not completely shut down the target servers.

Other troubles arose. The day after the campaign was launched, there was an alleged takeover of the web site’s top page by a cracker. The page was replaced with a warning against the use of the screensaver, according to a screenshot sent via email to the Finnish security firm F-Secure. A Lycos spokesperson said that the screenshot was a hoax: there was no trace of intrusion in the server log and the site was simply unavailable due to a high demand.

Some Internet service providers blocked either the traffic to Lycos-Europe, or the requests generated by the screensaver.

Next, one of the targeted sites redirected all traffic to the Lycos’ server, making Lycos itself a target. The company had maintained that its server was immune from the attack. Lycos stopped distributing the program on December 3, 2004 and asked clients to “stay tuned.” The company later ended the program.

On December 6, F-Secure reported a virus email disguised as the anti-spam screensaver. When its attachment (a zip file) is opened, it self-extracts and installs a “Trojan horse” –harmful program disguised as legitimate software. The Trojan horse was set up to monitor keystrokes in order to steal passwords, bank account numbers and other important information.

Lycos’ software had been downloaded more than 100,000 times by the end of the campaign.

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Transport for London wins first Anti-Social Behaviour Order against graffiti vandal

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Billy Murrell, a persistent graffiti vandal from South East London, has become the first recipient of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) granted to Transport for London (TfL) by Greenwich Magistrates. The civil order also bans him from the top deck of buses throughout England and Wales for three years.

Murrell, a 17-year-old from Plumstead, has a history of convictions for criminal damage on public transport, including vandalising a Tube carriage in Brixton station and for damaging buses and other public property using marker pens.

This is Transport for London’s first Anti-Social Behaviour Order against a graffiti vandal — TfL was granted the power to apply for Asbos by the Home Secretary in September 2006.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Order was issued at Greenwich Magistrates Court on 12 September and also bans him from carrying any permanent marker pens or any glass cutting equipment on London Underground, railway property or any other transport provider’s property.

Metropolitan and Transport police have been made aware of Murrell’s Asbo, and have distributed his photo.

In detail, Murrell is prohibited from:

  • Entering any depot, siding or other part of London Underground property or railway property or any transport providers property which is not expressly open to the public whether on payment or otherwise throughout England and Wales
  • Carrying the following articles, in any area specified (above) or in any public place, namely any form of unset paint in any form of container, any form of permanent marker pen, any form of shoe dye or permanent ink in any form of container, any form of paint stripper in any form of container, any form of grinding stone, glass cutting equipment, glass etching solution or paste, throughout England and Wales
  • Aiding, abetting, counselling or encourage any person who was attempting or committing any form of unlawful damage towards any property not belonging to or under the direct authorised control of the defendant throughout England and Wales
  • Travelling on the top deck of the any public transport bus within England and Wales

If without reasonable excuse the defendant does anything which he is prohibited from doing by this order, he shall be liable to a detention and training order, which has a maximum term of 24 months – 12 months of which is custodial and 12 months in the community

Upon turning 18 he will be liable to imprisonment up to five years.

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Several injured in Ben Nevis cable car accident

Thursday, July 13, 2006

As many as eight people have been injured after two cable cars collided at the Nevis Range near Fort William in Scotland.

Two RAF helicopters, an air ambulance, four ambulance crews, police, fire brigade and a mountain rescue team are among those present. Police have confirmed that three people have been injured, including one child. Injuries include broken legs, head and chest injuries. The Scottish Ambulance Service have reported that up to seven people had been thrown on to the hillside. A reporter at the scene said one car near the top of the mountain had slid down a cable, hitting another and then one of the cars fell to the ground.

Northern Constabulary have stated “It’s understood that two gondolas would appeared to have collided and a number of casualties have been reported. The local mountain rescue team, Inverness helimed and other air support are in attendance to remove casualties”.

The Doppelmayr gondola system is made up of eighty six-seat closed cabins running on a continuous 4.6km steel cable.

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Bangladesh security tightened following Pilkhana massacre and Bashundhara City fire

Friday, March 20, 2009

Following the Pilkhana massacre which occurred February 25 and 26 leaving 74 dead and the inferno at the Bashundhara City shopping mall complex March 13 leaving seven dead, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said security measures are being tightened countrywide across Bangladesh.

Fire drills will be enacted at all key-point installations (KPI). Fire fighting systems will be examined by the fire brigade and the public works department (PWD) to ensure functionality. Security measures will be enhanced supplementing areas under private security such as at the Bashundhara City Complex.

The Fire Service and Civil Defence Department requires modernization and needs new equipment to fight fires past the sixth floor of buildings. The Fire Brigade says it needs turntable ladders, snorkels, foam-tenders, lighting units, emergency tenders, fireproof uniforms, and rescue ropes for fire fighting and rescue operations. Transportation to fires is also an issue due to narrow roads, low electrical wires and congestion.

The Bangladesh National Building Code requires fire fighting equipment installed in buildings over seven floors. This code is to be monitored by authorities to ensure compliance with the new guidelines and to make sure buildings are being maintained.

The Bashundhara City Complex opened Monday for shoppers two days after Friday’s blaze. A probe is underway to determine the cause of the fire and to assess structural damage.

Loss of life was minimized as the blaze broke out on a Friday, the beginning of the weekend in Bangladesh, so offices in the upper floors were empty. The lower eight floors are used for shopping and the upper floors are all Bashundhara Group offices.

The mall is valued at Tk 7.0 billion (US$100 million). It is not known if the complex is covered by fire insurance.

It is estimated that it will take over two years to rebuild the area damaged by flames which were burned down to a skeleton. Bashundhara City’s technical advisor, Latifur Rahman, estimated damages at Tk 2.0 billion (US$29m).

Only one television cameraman has been allowed in to film the burnt area. None of the 2,500 shops, cinemas or cafes were burnt by the inferno. The seventh and eighth floors still experience smoke damage, and there was water damage to merchandise.

A three member committee is currently investigating the cause of the fire which will consist of Iqbal Khan Chowdhury, joint secretary of the ministry, representatives of the police, IGP Noor Muhammad, and fire brigade, Director General Abu Nayeem Md Shahidullah. The committee is required to report within the week with their findings. The forensics department is also sifting through the burnt remains.

The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries has also formed a committee which has begun interviewing witnesses and recording their testimony alongside the government committee.

It has been discovered that 150 closed circuit cameras were not being used when the fire started. Another mystery is why the mall fire fighting system has been found unused.

Why the fire burnt so fiercely is a matter to think….These matters seem to be mysterious

“In the shopping mall there is an ultra-technology elevator which runs even without electricity but we have found that locked,” Iqbal Khan Chowdhury, joint secretary (Police) of the home ministry, said. “Why the fire burnt so fiercely is a matter to think. We have to see if there was any incendiary substance there. These matters seem to be mysterious.”

Mall management has been asked to submit substances and items which would have been in the upper floors when the fire started. The fire erupted on the 17th floor and spread quickly to the two floors above and engulfed the three floors below. The aerial ladders belonging to the Fire Service and Civil Defence reached as high as the 13th floor of the 21-storey building.

Videos have been sent to the United States (US) for examination to assist in determining the cause of the fire and to help in the damage assessment. Experts from the US are expected to arrive soon.

Firefighters were brought to the rooftop of the 20-storey tower by helicopter. The only fatality in this operation was Baki Billa, a firefighter of Bashundhara City firefighting department, who fell when climbing down a rope from a helicopter to the roof of the building. Three other firefighters made the transition safely. At this same time, the chief security officer was safely rescued by the Bangladesh Air Force helicopter, a Bell 212. Six security officers of the complex also lost their lives.

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IMF and EU approve aid for Georgia

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The International Monetary Fund and the European Union approved aid packages to help Georgia recover from its conflict with Russia, which occurred in early August. The IMF approved a US$750 million loan which will allow Georgia to rebuild its currency reserves. The European Union also approved an aid package of 500 million in aid by 2010, which is expected to help internally displaced people (IDPs) and economic recovery in the form of new infrastructure. Only €100 million of the EU aid will be given to Georgia this year.

These loans are aimed to restore confidence in Georgia’s economy and send a signal to international investors that Georgia’s economy is sound. According to the IMF, international investors have been “critical to Georgia’s economic growth in recent years.”

Takatoshi Kato, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chairman of the IMF executive committee, said the loan will “make significant resources available to replenish international reserves and bolster investor confidence, with the aim of sustaining private capital inflows that have been critical to Georgia’s economic growth in recent years.”

Georgia has requested $2 billion in international aid to help it recover from the conflict. So far, the United States has pledged $1 billion in aid. Further assistance and loans to Georgia are expected from other organizations. Kato noted that “…Georgia is expected to receive financial assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors and creditors in support of the reconstruction effort.” It is expected that an international donors’ conference will take place next month to solicit more aid for the country.

Georgia’s government expects that economic growth will be more than cut in half as a result of the conflict. Last year, Georgia’s GDP increased 12.4% and it is predicted by the IMF that growth will be less than 4 percent in the coming year.

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US rock artist Tom Petty dies at 66

Thursday, October 5, 2017

At the age of 66, US rock musician Tom Petty suffered cardiac arrest on Monday morning and died that evening at the UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica in California, according to reports.

Petty, born in Gainesville, Florida in 1950, was best known as the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. With the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist, Petty recorded a number of hit singles. He was one of the best-selling music artists of all time, selling more than 80 million records worldwide over the course of his career. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Petty also co-founded the late 1980s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys.

Petty had a number of acting roles on film and television, playing a the mayor of a post-apocalyptic town in the 1997 Kevin Costner film The Postman. In 2002, Petty appeared on The Simpsons episode “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation” and from 2004 to 2009 voiced character Lucky on King of the Hill.

Petty married Jane Benyo in 1974, and they divorced in 1996. With Benyo, Petty had two daughters, Adria and Annakim. He married Dana York in 2001, acquiring a stepson named Dylan from her earlier marriage. He is also survived by a younger brother, Bruce, and a granddaughter, Everly.

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Second fire in Pakistani office building this year kills one, injures four

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A fire in an office building in Karachi, Pakistan has killed one and injured four. Reports say that the fire was the second at the building, locating near the town’s shipping terminal, in half a year.

The building, which is owned by the state-owned Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC), had suffered a previous fire in February. The first fire, caused by a short circuit, damaged five floors, burning from floors 12 to 16. The building is 17 stories high.

Today’s fire destroyed seven more floors, starting on the 4th around 2:30 p.m. and being propelled up to the 10th by strong winds in the area. The deceased was a male shipping company official, who was assisting efforts to extinguish the blaze. According to the International Herald Tribune, he lost consciousness after inhaling smoke and fumes, and was pronounced dead on arrival after being rushed to hospital. However, The Hindu News reports that officials said he died near the scene from a heart attack, brought on by the ensuing disaster. The Hindu News also gives his name and occupation as Vijay Kumar, an administrator and manager employed by the PNSC.

Four firefighters received injuries from falling glass shards and other assorted debris. One technician was trapped on the roof where he had been performing maintenance on a communications tower installed there. He was rescued by one of two navy helicopters dispatched to the scene. In addition to the helicopters, 115 firefighters and 25 fire engines from the city fire brigade and the Karachi Port Trust attended, as well as a number of ambulances from relief organizations.

It is reported by some that the likely cause of the fire was another electrical short circuit, similar to the one that triggered February’s fire. However, Pakistan’s Minister for Shipping and Ports Babar Ghouri said that subversive or terrorist activity could not be ruled out and it was strange that the last time a blaze broke out in the building was also a Sunday. “We are going to carry out a full-scale investigation into this fire because they are certain things that appear strange,” Ghouri said.

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Alistair Darling unveils UK’s 2010 Budget

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, today unveiled the country’s final annual budget before the general election. The biggest announcements included abolishing stamp duty on homes under £250,000 for first-time buyers, whilst increasing it to 5% on homes over £1 million. In his statement to the House of Commons, the Chancellor claimed that the Labour government had made the right calls in countering the global recession, but warned that introducing cuts too early would jeopardise the recovery.

Opposition leader David Cameron attacked the Budget, saying that the headline stamp duty plans were stolen from his own Conservative party. He criticised the amount of government debt, expected to be £167 billion this year, pointing out that it was more than every previous Labour government’s borrowing added together. Cameron continued his call for spending cuts to decrease the deficit, saying it was time for a “radical change of direction”. Darling however maintains that it is too soon.

I know there are some demanding immediate cuts to public spending. I believe such a policy would be both wrong and dangerous.

“I know there are some demanding immediate cuts to public spending,” said the Chancellor to the Commons. “I believe such a policy would be both wrong and dangerous. To start cutting now risks derailing the recovery – which is already bringing down borrowing more rapidly than expected.” This year’s expected government debt is less than the £178 billion that was forecast in December 2009’s pre-Budget report.

There will be an estimated 2.2% real terms rise in government spending this year, and several spending announcements were made. However Darling warned that cuts will follow after 2011, and could be “the toughest for decades”. The Conservatives have said that if they win the upcoming election, they will introduce an “emergency Budget” less than 50 days after taking office.

Among the plans announced by the Chancellor today are a green investment bank to support renewable energy and low-carbon industries. This will have £2 billion, half raised by sale of government assets, including the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, and half raised from private investment. Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds will also have to provide loans worth £94 billion to businesses, with small and medium sized companies receiving at least half of this. These companies will also have access to a new credit adjudicator to oversee banks’ decisions on loans.

There will be a sharp rise of 10% in tax on cider, with wine, beer and spirit duties rising at 2% above inflation as planned. These changes will occur from midnight on Sunday, and tax on alcohol is set to increase a further 2% for two years from 2013. The previously scheduled increase in fuel duty will still happen, but will now be staggered over a longer period.

How will the Budget affect you financially? And has it changed your voting intentions at the General Election?
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Other changes include a freeze of the threshold for inheritance tax for the next four-years, whilst higher winter fuel payments for pensioners will be maintained for another year.

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Expected government borrowing until 2015 is less in the 2010 Budget than in the 2009 pre-Budget report. Image: the wub. Data: Budget 2010, page 24.

A tag cloud of Alistair Darling’s Budget statement to the House of Commons. Image: http://www.wordle.net/.

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Canada’s Scarborough-Agincourt (Ward 40) city council candidates speak

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Scarborough-Agincourt (Ward 40). One candidate responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Sunny Eren, Norm Kelly (incumbent), George Pappas, and Winston Ramjeet.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

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Australian government provides $15.8 million for North Adelaide Technical College

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Australian Minister for Vocational Education and Training, Gary Hardgrave has announced the government will provide AU$15.8 million to establish an Australian Technical College in North Adelaide. The minister said the government was entering into a partnership with the Archdiocese of Adelaide and consortium of industrial and manufacturing companies.

The North Adelaide college will be located in Elizabeth and be operated as an independent non-government school. The college is one of 25 to be established across the country.

Enrolments at the college will begin in 2007 and will offer courses in areas where identified skills shortages exist in the North Adelaide region, specifically – engineering, construction, electronics and cooking.

Mr Hardgrave said that the proposed college had been popular among the North Adelaide business community. “This important initiative has been well received by North Adelaide business and industry, and will help to address skills needs and provide opportunities for those in greatest need, including a lot of Indigenous students in the region,” Mr Hardgrave said.

“The fact that this College is being led by local employers, local government and other key stakeholders, means it will be truly industry and community driven,” he said.

Australian Technical Colleges were established to cater for year 11 and 12 students who wish to do an apprenticeship as part of their school education.

The Australian Education Union has expressed a number of concerns about the model put forward by the government. In a report, they claim that trade facilities at TAFE colleges (operated by state governments) will deteriorate as funding is diverted to the ATCs. The union is also concerned that ATCs are supposed to be selective VET schools. According to the union they will have selective entry and preferential funding. It is feared that teachers will be lured away from schools and TAFE colleges to higher paid positions in ATCs.

The Education Union suggested that the government invest in schools that already offer vocational education programs.

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